This series is a session-by-session recap of the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign over the course of the school year. Enjoy! The current party:
- Lowen, Half-Elf Cleric of Irori
- Ramius, Human Swashbuckler
- Tulia, Human Sorceress
- Einkil, Dwarf Fighter
- Ziaphas, Human Wizard
So passes Eordred II, second of his honorable name, and as his last breath faded the position upon the Crimson Throne fell to the lovely Queen Ileosa, his lady wife. Such a surprising shift in power however is never without a ripple amongst the populace. This ripple however tore through Korvosa like fire through kindling.
Korvosa was burning.
Over the past hour or two while our heroes fought past Gaedren Lamm's henchmen and freed his enslaved orphans, Korvosa had been tearing itself to pieces. Sable Marines flew at breakneck speed towards Castle Korvosa while Korvosan Guardsmen ran headlong through the streets trying to maintain order. Even the occasional Hellknight could be seen chasing down a rather unfortunate looter or two. It was chaos.
"My family! They might be hurt!" Tulia shouted this half-crazed and half-terrified. Before her newfound companions could stop her, the young girl was running headlong through the streets - quickly disappearing into the chaos.
The party agreed they needed to get out of the streets and made for Zellara's house to try and put the pieces of this mystery together. As they rounded the corner however, the cries of a nearby mob caught their attention. A young intelligent-looking man, perhaps a graduate of the Acadamae by the look of him, was currently surrounded by six men wielding shovels, table legs, and broken chairs.
"Look at yeh skinny boy!" One of the men called at the scrawny scholar. "Betcha never worked an honest day's labor in your life, eh, Queen's Man maybe? M'brother had his arm crushed by a barrel on the docks when he was younger then you. Never raised a mug of ale with that wrist again. Wanna know what it feels like?"
As Ramius and Lowen leaped into action to save the man, Einkil simply grinned as the fight brewed, seeing the skinny man as just as much of a target. Before the dwarf could get the drop on him however, the man fell unconscious to the ground as a shovel knocked him upside the head. The battle was joined as Ramius, Lowen and Einkil made short work of the shovel-toting commoners.
There was some debate about what to do with the scrawny gentleman whose life they'd saved, as Einkil thought they should simply leave him be. As Ramius spied a bottle of wine in the man's backpack however, he quickly said they should bring him to Zellara's with them. The group finally agreed.
When they returned to Zellara's home, the found the fortuneteller's abode abandoned and empty. The dust of several weeks laying thickly on the broken furniture. But how... when this room was fully furnished only hours ago... That was a mystery for later however.
After tying the man up the brought him to consciousness. The bound man introduced himself as Ziaphas, indeed a man of the Acadamae. He'd gone out into the streets of Korvosa only minutes before the chaos hit. He was trying to get to a safer district of the city when the men had accosted him. Having no reason not to believe him, along with his suggestion of a glass of wine, the party released him and contemplated their current situation.
After a little bit, the heroes decided it would be best to ask a guardsmen what had happened. Heading out into the street as they saw one walk by, the unknowingly approached one of the Watch Sergeants, a man named Grau Soldado. The man however, from his slurred words and stumbling, was clearly drunk.
The man, in his stupor, cried out in happiness when he saw Ramius - mistaking the man for a fellow guardsman that had apparently worked along Grau's side in Sandpoint many years ago named Neffi. He insisted on buying the whole group a round of beer at the nearest tavern.
There Grau tried to answer the party's questions as best he could in his state, saying that the King had died, and even though his health had been declining, no one was expecting it so soon. Without the King to pass his orders down, Grau said, the whole of Korvosa had just broken apart. Especially since Eordred had been such a fantastic King.
Since the riots had started, Grau seemed to have just lost it, after seeing some of his fellow guardsmen as well as some Sable Company Marines die from angry citizens. He found the nearest bottle of liquor and started drinking, saying that he had failed. He'd lost his King, lost his honor, and lost his love.
As Grau passed out on the table, the group decided that they needed to go and see what was what at Citadel Volshyenek. Einkil picked up the unconscious man, and they headed out in the direction of the Citadel.
About halfway there however, the group was met with another challenge. Four Imps flew from rooftops around them and assaulted the party, stinging at the heroes with their barbed tails. For a little bit, the imps seemed like too much of a challenge, but luckily a pack of Pseudodragons quickly joined the fight. With the help of the Pseudodragons, the battle proved victorious.
For the entire battle, Ziaphas seemed a little nervous. He explained that he was concerned that the imps might have been familiars of powerful Acadamae mages, though it was entirely possible that they were just part of the stray Imp population that lived throughout Korvosa as a byproduct of Acadamae graduation rituals.
Thankfully, the native Pseudodragon population kept the imps in check, but still the group determined that the Imps probably wouldn't have been brave enough to attack had it not been for the chaotic nature of things in Korvosa.
Arriving at Citadel Volshyenek, they found it's doors open, as the guard was welcoming in nonviolent citizens seeking shelter and safety for the evening. The group found refuge here as they deposited the drunken Watch Sergeant. They could learn little from the guards about what had happened above and beyond what they'd already learned. The group eventually decided it would just be best to get some sleep.
As the following day came, things seemed to be slowly getting back to normal. The fires had at least subsided, though the streets were still thick with looters and ripe with chaos. It was made clear that the streets were not safe, so it seemed that for the meantime our heroes were stuck together.
Hearing of a pawn shop that had hesitantly opened up business, the group made their way to a nearby alleyway within which a halfling had set up shop. The halfling was a rather eccentric fellow and brave, though not without reason, given the half-orc guard he'd hired for himself. The group parted with the treasures they'd gained from Gaedren's lair, making a fine profit. When they reached the fancy brooch, the halfling's eyes went wide though he tried to hide his surprise, offering the group a paltry sum of 100 gold for it.
Sensing that something was off, the group pressed the matter, until both parties were on the verge of drawing swords. One stern look from Einkil however, set the halfling to shaking in his boots. The shopkeeper confessed that he didn't even want to buy it anymore! It was stolen property, he claimed, of the Queen! It was her brooch, and he didn't want to be caught with stolen property. There was rumored to be a reward for it however, so the man suggested they return it to the castle.
Making their way to the castle, the party found it under heavy security. Showing the brooch hurried things along however, and it was mere minutes before they met face-to-face with the Queen's personal handmaiden, bodyguard, and rumored lover, Sabina Merrin - a stunningly gorgeous swordswoman. She took each of their names, and ushered them into the great halls of Castle Korvosa.
After introducing them with a flourish, the party was allowed to approach the Crimson Throne, upon which sat Queen Ileosa. The Queen was a vision of celestial beauty, despite the black mourning dress and veil she wore in honor of her husband's passing. A small silver coffer sat in her lap. The queen spoke...
"This brooch was stolen from me some time ago - I had not expected to see it again, truth be told. And yet, here on my darkest day, you come before me with kindness. The return of this brooch is much more than an honorable deed. It is inspiration. It is hope.
I love Korvosa, as my husband did before me. His death has shocked the city as it has me, but I will not see his legacy destroyed in death, and I shall not see my city torn apart. All Korvosa stands at the precipice of a disaster wrought by her citizens - these riots simply cannot continue. You have already done by heart a great service in returning this bauble to me on this dark day, and you shall be rewarded. Yet, perhaps you can serve your city more.
If you so choose, I shall have Sabina see to it that you have an escort of guards when you leave here - they can see to your safe journey to Citadel Volshyenek. I shall send word ahead of you to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft to let her know you are on the way. The Korvosan guard is stretched thin, and it can certainly use the aid of such heroes as yourselves.
Now, I need to retire to my personal quarters - my grief has drained me. Again, I thank you for your kindness, and I hope your days of serving the crown are only just beginning." The Queen granted them 1,200 gold pieces worth of Korvosan Metal Ingots and bid them farewell.
Upon arriving at the Citadel, the party was ushered before a very exhausted Field Marshal. She spoke shortly and curtly, explaining that if the party wished, they would be offered a temporary membership into the guard so that they could help keep the city under control. The woman glanced through her notes and then to Ramius. "It seems that some of you have... a record with the guard. But as far as I'm concerned, if you're willing to step up to the challenges now, then I'm happy to have you on board." The woman crumpled up Ramius's former record and tossed it to the side, as the swashbuckler smiled and thanked her.
Cressida laid out the mission. A man by the name of Verik Vancaskerkin had defected from the guard and taken a group with him. They were held up in a butchery called "All The Worlds Meat". She wanted to know why he left, but most of all, she wanted him back. Dead or Alive. Cressida wished them luck, and sent them off.
- - -
DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)
What the party seemed to enjoy
- Being able to bash down some unruly commoners seemed like it was a little too enjoyable... It was played off as a pretty humorous encounter though, which I think went well.
- The introduction of Ziaphas worked a lot better then I thought it might. Bringing in a new player, even in the second session, is always hard. This went pretty seamlessly though, and I was able to put it right at the beginning of the session.
- I think the group loved Grau and his drunken antics. I had him somewhere between plastered and stoned and he was fairly ridiculous. Sadly, I can't remember any of his drunken quotes right now. Players - can you help me out with some of Grau's more humorous moments? I just remember it being pretty hilarious.
What I could have done better
- I should have saved the Imp/Pseudodragon battle for a session where there was more combat, since the group was relatively ineffective against them so they could have had more of a sense of accomplishment.
- I forgot to make them bow before the Queen. That could have led to some interesting party dynamics...
- I forgot to do something important when they got back to Zellara's house, but it's an easy fix next session.
- I should have had the Grau encounter later in the adventure so that he would have had more time to grieve. I was just too excited for the encounter!
I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.
- Ramius had the most backstory-centered plot this session. His transgressions in the guard have essentially been forgiven, and he's been granted a second chance to redeem himself. He also had more then enough opportunities to shine in combat, and in his valiant rescue of Ziaphas. Ramius was also given a contact to speak with at the Citadel when they first arrived.
Picture from Pathfinder's Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide.