The Alexandrian

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Go to Eternal Lies: The Alexandrian Remix

Eternal Lies - German Translation

Tim Höregott is providing a German translation of both the Alexandrian Remix of Eternal Lies and the system cheat sheet I designed for Trail of Cthulhu. He will not be translating the handouts (he intends to use the originals), but will be translating all the various guides and cheat sheets. (If anyone else is interested in translating the handouts, please feel free to contact me.)

Tim is also the author of the Listen to the Gods blog (which is not in German), so make sure you check that out.

ETERNAL LIES REMIX (GERMAN)

1.0 Kampagnenübersicht
1.1 New York
1.2 Savannah
1.3 Los Angeles

TRAIL OF CTHULHU CHEAT SHEET (GERMAN)

Trail of Cthulhu - System Cheat Sheet (GERMAN)

(click here for PDF)

Warcraft

Something I like to occasionally do during a session is to speak in tongues. It can be a nice touch of flavor to have one of the orcs the party is talking to turn to their comrade and whisper something in unintelligible orcish. Or to have an elf lord curse at them with silken invectives. Or have the strange, angelic being woken from an elder age quiz them in the stilted tones of a forgotten common tongue.

When I do this, of course, it’s not actually important that what I’m saying actually means anything. (If you actually know a fantasy tongue like Tolkien’s Quenya, that’s fantastic, but not required for this technique to be effective. And sprinkling in established words from a fantasy language as a sort of slang is a different thing, albeit also cool.) What is important is that the content flows, varies, and has a consistent tone. In other words, it needs to sound like someone actually speaking.

However, this can be difficult to smoothly achieve. To assist with this effect, I’ve created a tool I refer to as a Fantasy Lorem Ipsum: For each fantasy language, I have two pages of pre-generated text (which can be printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper). When I want to “speak” in that language, I can simply choose a location on the sheet and begin performing from it. You can also use these sheets to quickly generate handouts by copying and pasting a chunk of text. (You can then provide the “translation” separately if one of the PCs knows the language.)

Ancient Common
Dwarvish
Elvish
Halfling
Orc

Go to Part 1

The key element in organizing your open table is figuring out how you want to schedule sessions. For an open table, events tend to break down in two categories.

OPEN CALLS: For an open call, the GM simply announces the date and time of the game. Players then RSVP.

Cloak and DaggerAn easy variant of the open call is the regular session: Maybe you play every Tuesday night, for example.

SPONSORED SESSIONS: Alternatively, specific players (or groups of players) can “sponsor” a session by approaching the GM and requesting it. I generally tell players that they should offer me a range of dates and then I can figure out which one works for me. It’s up to them whether they want the sponsored session to also include an open call to fill any empty seats or if it’s an “exclusive” event just for them.

The reasons for sponsored sessions can arise from either the game world or the metagame. For example, I’ve run sponsored sessions in order to “explore the Temple of Elemental Evil”, “retrieve Varla’s corpse”, or “to go back for the rest of that treasure before anybody else snatches it”. I’ve also run sponsored sessions because Steve was in town, for a bachelor party, because we all happened to be drunk at the time, and because somebody was bored and wanted something to do on a Tuesday night.

COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNITY

Mass e-mails are perhaps the most straightforward method of making open calls and otherwise communicating with your pool of players. But they can also be something of a blunt instrument.

My group experimented with a wiki for awhile, but the participation rate was low and it was ill-suited for event announcements. (I’ll probably experiment with supplemental wiki support for open tables again in the future, but for the moment I’ve lain them aside.)

What I have found effective is a Facebook group. (Why Facebook instead of G+? Primarily because too many people from my player pool aren’t on G+. If yours are, then G+ groups have a lot of advantages.) Everybody can sign up. Everyone can talk to each other. Creating a new event is as easy as pressing a button, and it’s easy to track people’s RSVPs. You can also use the group to host basic information and orientation material.

TABLE CAPS AND WAITING LISTS

My first forays with an open table featured a simple, “We’ll play with whoever shows up!” ethos. As the popularity of the open table grew, however, this quickly became non-viable: I had one session in which I GMed for ten players running something like twenty-two total PCs and hirelings.

Then I imposed table caps.

The system is pretty simple: I cap the number of players at a certain number. These slots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once the cap is hit, that’s it for that session.

To prevent highly active players from monopolizing the slots at ever session, I also instituted the concept of the Waiting List: If you signed up for a session, but couldn’t play because of the session cap, then you were given preferential placement for the next session.

The Waiting List also helps cope with the problem of last minute cancellations (because you can call up the next person on the waiting list).

The size of your table cap is almost entirely up to you (and possibly the comfortable limits of your playing space). For example, I know that I can run 5 players comfortably, 6 players are usually manageable, and with 7+ players the quality of the session will usually begin to decline. So I set my table cap at 5 and occasionally have a sixth player join (usually the significant other of the fifth player).

CAMPAIGN TIME MANAGEMENT

“YOU CANNOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT.” – Gary Gygax, Dungeon Master’s Guide

You’re going to have a lot of different characters doing a lot of different things in the setting, and a couple primary questions will arise:

  • What happens if I go to Dungeon X while Character A (who isn’t playing tonight) is still there?
  • If Character A and Character B go on an adventure together, and then Character A goes on five more adventures, and then Player A and Player B sit down for a session together… what do we do? Character A is weeks ahead of Character B!

Easiest solution: “I don’t care.” Just handwave these things away and don’t worry about it.

But there are reasons why Gygax said what he said. It was an attitude shared by a lot of the early pioneers (including Dave Arneson, M.A.R. Barker, and Bob Bledsaw among others). ClockworksAnd you’ll quickly discover for yourself that without a more concrete handling of the passage of time, there’s a lot of potential activities and consequences and fun things that won’t be possible.

Here’s my basic suggestion: Have campaign time match time in the real world. For each day that passes in the real world, a day also passes in the campaign world. If a player can’t play for a couple of months, that means that their character was just idly passing the time. (Alternatively, you could start developing mechanics for handling the passage of time: What were their upkeep costs? How are their investments doing? Did they succeed at any arcane research? Did they join a Thieves’ Guild? Or, if you’ve got the time and your players are interested, you could engage with players through weekly e-mails to see what their characters have been up to.)

Within the appearance of this simplicity, however, you’ll discover that there are some potential problems. I’ll discuss my own experience with keeping time in my original open table campaign as an example of how you might deal with some of those problems.

IN THE DUNGEON: The early days of the campaign featured a single megadungeon. The solution of using the real passage of time was largely flawless here: The amount of time that passed in any given session was usually shorter than the amount of time that passed between sessions in the real world (and the few exceptions could be easily fudged).

IN THE WILDERNESS: When the campaign expanded into a full-blown hexcrawl, however, we began running into our first serious time management problems. Crossing unexplored wilderness could chew up days or weeks of time in the game world while using up mere minutes of table time.

The first solution I attempted was to have the clock always move forwards: If Expedition A ended 18 days in the future, then when Expedition B started the next day in the real world we’d still be 17 days in the future. The problem with this approach was that it radically pushed campaign time into the future: If you missed just a handful of sessions (which is, of course, common in an open table), you could find that months had passed for your character.

LOCKDOWN: What I ended up doing instead was to adhere to real time for the start of each expedition. Expedition A was played on March 17th in the real world and Expedition B was played on March 18th, then Expedition B started one day later in the campaign world, too.

This meant, of course, that Expedition A was still happening. This meant that any characters in Expedition A were locked down – they couldn’t be played in Expedition B. I would also lock down any locations that had been visited by Expedition A: You couldn’t break continuity by going to the same dungeon as Expedition A because we already knew that hadn’t happened (since we had seen those events play out with Expedition A).

CHARACTER STABLES: With that being said, I didn’t want players to be prevented from playing just because their character was currently locked down. This led to the practice of each player having multiple characters in the campaign world.

Having this stable of characters proved useful in other ways: For example, players could choose the character which was closest in level to the other players on a particular expedition. (Or, alternatively, choose to play a high-level patron whose expertise the entire group could benefit from.)

TRACKING TIME: In order to track all of this information, I simply kept a list of all the player characters currently active in the campaign on my campaign status sheet. If they were in lockdown, I listed that. I also listed any outstanding expeditions (i.e., expeditions from previous sessions whose end date had not yet been passed) and the locations locked down in association with them. In practice, this requires virtually no effort.

END OF SESSION STATUS

The other thing to consider in an open table is the end of session status for player characters. In general, for the open table to work at the end of a session the player characters need to return to their home base (or whatever position they need to be in to participate in open group formation at the beginning of the next session).

To facilitate this for a traditional D&D campaign, I created tools like the Escaping the Dungeon! table.

SEQUEL SESSIONS: I did, however, also offer an alternative: If the evening was coming to a close and the group was in the middle of something important to them, then we could continue that session if (and only if!) everyone at the table could immediately agree on a time within the next 10 days to continue the scenario. (If they couldn’t, tough luck: They’ve got get out and they’ve got to get home.)

The reason for the strict limitation on this is that, in the interim, all of these characters (and the location they’re in) would be locked down. This creates all sorts of complications for the open table. There was one time when I set up a sequel session and several of the players had to cancel on it. Trying to reschedule proved challenging and we ended up bouncing it around for two or three months before I finally wrote it off and released the lockdowns. In the interim, however, all of the momentum in that section of the campaign had been lost: I would have been far better off immediately writing off the sequel session and allowing subsequent expedition to be scheduled to pursue the loose ends which had been left.

CHARACTER CREATION GUIDELINES

A final thing to consider, if you’re planning on using some form of away-from-the-table character generation to resolve the lack of quick character generation in your system of choice, are the character creation guidelines you want to use.

As a tip: If your system of choice features organized play, looking at the character creation guidelines for that can often be useful. Their needs will be similar to your own, although you can often relax many of their strictures.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

Session 5: The Trouble With Goblins

In which a tragedy unfolds amidst the squalor of goblins too clever for their own good, but a gateway is opened which beckons the curious while promising potential terrors in the days to come…

Anyone who’s read The Railroading Manifesto knows that I’m no fan of GM’s predetermining outcomes and negating the impact of player’s choices. But sometimes outcomes can be controlled through design. (Or, in other cases, the evolving circumstances of the game world will naturally create these circumstances.)

In the case of this session, for example, Jasin was dead before the PCs were ever aware that he existed. Their effort to save him was guaranteed to fail. I didn’t know exactly how it would play out, but the sad scene in which Tee carried Jasin’s shrouded body out of Greyson House was essentially inevitable.

As a GM, you can use similar techniques to guarantee a variety of outcomes: For example, later in the campaign the bad guys will breach the Banewarrens (a crypt filled with ancient evils). In a similar fashion, the PCs never learn of their attempt until after they’ve already succeeded. Firewalling scenario hooks like this is a useful practicality (since it prevents scenarios from being unexpectedly smothered in their cribs), but also a rather natural consequence of how the world works. (The PCs have no reason to go looking for the Banewarrens until they start encountering the eldritch evils which have been released from it.)

The more general version of this boils down to a relatively simple maxim: If you don’t want the PCs to affect the outcome of something, don’t let them know it’s happening until it’s already done.

The world is a big place, after all, so there’s constantly things happening that the PCs don’t know about.

With all that being said, however, be mentally prepared for the PCs to nevertheless surprise you: That almost happened in this session. As low-level characters they had neither the power nor the resources to access resurrection magic, so it never really occurred to me as a potential option for resolving Jasin’s death. As you can see in the log, however, Agnarr struck on the idea of unexpectedly leveraging Tee’s house to pay for it. Even though that ultimately didn’t happen, the result was a beautiful crucible which had a long-term effect on Tee’s character and her relationship with Agnarr. (It also revealed her deep emotional attachment to her house; which was the one lifeline she had back to her old life and, beyond that, her parents.)

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 5: THE TROUBLE WITH GOBLINS

April 15th, 2007
The 19th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

Tellith pointed to a man wearing a green shirt who was sitting dejectedly at one of the tables. In truth, there weren’t many others in the common room – although the bard for the night was strumming idly in one corner.

Ranthir was tired, however, and headed upstairs for some food and a good book. Agnarr spotted Cardalian (the woman he had spoken with at breakfast a few days earlier sitting in the corner) – he headed over to her and offered to buy them both dinner.

Tee, Dominic, and Elestra, however, went to go talk to the man, who identified himself as Eral Yinnick. It quickly became apparent that Eral was emotionally distraught: His son had disappeared earlier that day. He and his wife were convinced that the boy had been kidnapped by the “ghost of Greyson House”. They had told him and told him not to play near that house, but the boy seemed fascinated by it despite their sternest warnings.

“Why come to us?” Tee asked.

“Phon told me about you.” (“She did?” Tee said. “Maybe she’s warming back up to us,” Dominic suggested.) “She told me how you saved her. I went to the watch, but they wouldn’t help. I thought maybe… maybe you could do for Jasin what you had done for her. So I asked her where I could find her, and she said the Ghostly Minstrel. So I came here and I waited and…” He was babbling.

Tee, Dominic, and Elestra agreed that they should try to help if they could. Tee looked around and saw Agnarr heading back across the common room with two plates piled high with food. She suggested that Elestra should go see if Angarr wanted to help them, and she sent Dominic upstairs to check with Ranthir.

Elestra caught up with Agnarr just as he sat down to eat. She quickly outlined the situation to him. “Okay,” said Agnarr. “Just let me finish eating.”

“Finish eating? There’s a boy in trouble!”

“Fine, fine. Just give me five minutes! Just five minutes!”

Elestra turned to Cardalian. “You look pretty tough. You want to tag along?”

Cardalian shook her head and demurred. “No, I’ve been fighting rats all day. I’m exhausted.”

Agnarr paused from shoveling food into his mouth and looked over at Cardalian. “Rats? Really? You’ll have to tell me about that.”

Cardalian raised her eyebrow, “Aren’t you supposed to be eating?”

Meanwhile, Ranthir – with his food freshly laid out and his book freshly cracked – heard Dominic’s knock at his door. “Come in.”

Dominic quickly outlined the situation. “Come on, you can bring your food with you.”

“But… it’s soup!”

Ranthir forlornly put it aside, gathered his things and headed for the door.

Five minutes later, everyone was gathered with Eral in the lobby of the Ghostly Minstrel.

THE HAUNTING OF GREYSON HOUSE

The group headed up the hill towards the North Market. (“Wait, are we going up the hill to the haunted house? Or are we headed to the house on haunted hill?”) They discovered that Eral’s home – and Greyson House just across the street – were both located on Catbird Street, literally just around the corner from Phon’s house.

Agnarr realized that he now knew where Phon lived. Tee groaned at the thought of it, but she would have been even more worried if she had overheard Agnarr trying to “subtly” pump Eral for information regarding the father of Phon’s child on the way over. (Eral didn’t know anything.)

When they arrived, Eral quickly introduced them to his wife Ortesia – a woman completely overcome by her panic. They kept it short and immediately headed across the street.

(As they went, Agnarr remarked, “Hey, what are we getting paid for this?” He was met with blank states all around, and after a moment he said: “Oh. Got it.”)

Agnarr strode up onto the porch and tried the door handle. It was locked. But as Agnarr stepped back, the door began to rattle and shake and a low, mournful howl could be heard through the door.

Agnarr cocked his head to the side for a moment in contemplation, grunted, and then kicked the door open. A fetid mass of excrement, turpentine, and other foulness fell from above the door. The stench was nearly overpowering to Agnarr and Dominic (who stood just behind him), but they both steeled their stomachs against the nauseating stench.

Even as they paused to consider this sickening mess, a ghostly specter slipped out of the shadows and a hideous whisper seemed to echo through the house: “None shall live who enter this place…”

The spirit, however, had not considered the lust for battle which had been growing in Agnarr’s heart as a result of two days spent pent-up in a library and asking fruitless question. The barbarian rushed into the room, and although the ghost rushed forward to meet him, hot thews forged in the cold climes of the northern wastes proved the faster: The barbarian’s sword, flaming at his command – “For the glory!” – swept through the specter with a single sweep…

… revealing it to be nothing more than a sheet.

The sheet, reduced to a smoldering rag, fell to the floor. But what it revealed was perhaps even worse: A blood-sucking stirge, just like the ones that had nearly brought Tee and Agnarr to their ruin in the dark caves of the black reptilians. Agnarr cried out: “There’s a stirge in here, Tee!” And Tee, in panic, shouted back, “Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!”

Agnarr ducked as the stirge swooped down at him… which proved fortuitous, for at almost the same moment a small, runty goblin stepped out of the shadows in the same corner of the room from which the “ghost” had emerged and hurled a javelin at him! Both the stirge and the javelin passed harmlessly over Agnarr’s head.

Meanwhile Tee drew her longsword and rushed forward past her other companions, who were still somewhat uncertain what was actually happening. (“What the hell is a stirge?” Elestra asked, prompting Ranthir to happily elucidate her: “It’s a small, bat-like predator. Almost an overgrown mosquito, really. It feeds on its victims by plunging its proboscis into the soft flesh…”)

Tee, arriving inside the house, ducked past Agnarr and took a swing at the nasty little creature as it swooped over Agnarr’s head. She connected solidly, ripping one of its four wings completely off its body. Spurting blood, the creature attempted to attack Agnarr again, but the barbarian easily smote it to the ground in smoking ruin.

Elestra meanwhile, ignoring Ranthir’s recitation, moved into the house herself. The goblin, screaming unintelligibly in its native tongue, took a swipe at Agnarr and tried to run for the stairs. This proved to be its undoing: Elestra took it high and Agnarr took it low. The goblin’s head, torso, and legs fell in four distinct piles on the floor.

After the flurry of action, Elestra was shocked. All she could do was stare at her sword, which had seemed to dance of its own accord. The lethal, almost bloodthirsty instincts which were driving her were so strange… and yet they seemed so natural.

Tee, meanwhile, quickly took charge. “I think it was calling for help.” She set Agnarr to watch the stairs leading up to the second floor and she set Elestra to watch the only other door leading out of the room. Then she set about doing a quick search of the room, focusing particularly on the corner where the “ghost” and goblin had emerged from.

Ranthir and Dominic, meanwhile, wandered into the house as well. Ranthir, for his part, prodded the smoldering remains of the stirge: “Yes, indeed, this is a stirge. Well spotted, Master Agnarr…” Dominic, for his part, noticed that the commotion was already beginning to attract the attention of people up and down this quiet side-street. He turned and shouted, “Emergency exorcism! Nothing to be worried about!” He made sure to close the door behind him.

Tee found that the various debris and broken furniture in this room had been cunningly piled to conceal a hidey-hole of sorts in the corner of the room. It seemed likely that the goblin and the ghost-turned-stirge had hidden in this nook before emerging.

Tee then turned her attention to the door. She found it unlocked and untrapped (unlike the front door) and opened it, revealing the ruined remnants of a kitchen. In addition to a variety of trash, the rusted remains of an iron stove squatted in the corner. A trapdoor was clearly evident in one corner of the room.

Tee crossed the room and flipped open the trapdoor. She saw a ladder leading down into darkness – probably a cellar of some sort. Looking around she spotted bones scattered here and there throughout the rubbish – bones which Ranthir thought mainly belonged to small animals, although a few very old human bones were also to be found.

The group decided that it would be better to check the upstairs first before venturing down the ladder: The goblin had been trying to escape in that direction, after all. Leaving Ranthir and Dominic to guard the trapdoor, Tee, Elestra, and Agnarr headed up the stairs (with the barbarian in the lead). Ranthir nervously closed the trapdoor with his toe.

They didn’t find much of anything up there. At the top of the stairs there was an essentially barren room. Through a door they found a bedroom with a four-poster bed fallen into rotten ruin. Off the bedroom they found a closet which, judging by the smell and the piles of waste and excrement, had apparently been seeing use most recently as a toilet.

As Tee began thoroughly going over the upstairs rooms to make sure nothing had been missed, however, the trapdoor downstairs suddenly burst open and a goblin scurried out. Ranthir and Dominic were caught by surprise, allowing a second goblin to scurry out of the hole before they could react.

Dominic called out for help from upstairs, stepped forward, and began beating the first goblin with his mace – slamming it up against the wall with the satisfying crunch of broken ribs.

Tee, Elestra, and Agnarr raced downstairs. On her way, though, Tee noticed someone peering through the grime-covered front window. She hurriedly opened the front door and stepped out to discover that a relatively large crowd of people had gathered in front of the porch, and one of these on-lookers had become overly eager and was up on the porch trying to get inside. He jumped as Tee came out. “Oh! Hey there! What’s going on in there?”

“Emergency exorcism,” Tee said. “You should step back. You don’t want to be hurt.”

“But it sure sounds like something interesting is going in there! I just want to—“

Tee bared a quarter inch of steel. The man blanched. “Ah, right. Of course. I’ll just be backing away to a safe distance then. Good point.”

Tee ran back in, making sure to close the door behind her. “Sorry I’m late. Had a bad case of nosy neighbors.”

With everyone crowded into the kitchen and weapons swinging wildly, it was a cramped fit… which only seemed to help the party rapidly overwhelm both goblins.

But Dominic said that he had seen a third goblin crawling up out of the basement – a goblin who had disappeared back into the darkness when he’d seen how badly things were going for the other two. So Agnarr quickly jumped onto the ladder and started climbing down…

…but the ladder broke under his weight! (“You just had to finish eating dinner, didn’t you!” Tee called after him.) Agnarr tumbled in a painful heap on the hard stone floor of the cellar ten feet below. And, as he picked himself up, three goblins popped up from behind some crates and hurled javelins at him!

Agnarr growled deep in his throat, plucked one of the javelins from where it had lodged in his shoulder, drew his greatsword, and charged. Unfortunately it proved hard to bring his weapon to bear on the goblins, which were darting here and there behind the haphazard crates.

Ranthir scrabbled at his pack… only to find that he’d left his rope stored back at the inn! Tee pushed him out of the way, pulled out her own rope and grappling hook, and quickly secured them to the iron stove.

Even as she was finishing the knots, Elestra grabbed the rope and hurriedly dropped into the basement. She, too, charged the goblins and felt her rapier dancing in her hand…

But at just that moment, Agnarr – finally fed up with the scurrying little runts – grabbed one of the crates and hurled it to one side. This left his own swing open to gut one of the goblins, but the crate hurtled straight into Elestra’s sword and knocked her blow aside.

Tee quickly rappelled down the rope herself, landing lithely at the bottom and taking stock of what was happening. She drew her sword…

…just in time for Dominic, who had failed to get a firm grip on the rope, to fall right on top of her. Both of them fell prone just as the door on the south side of the cellar flew open and three more goblins came rushing out!

Elestra, finding herself suddenly surrounded, quickly circled around behind the goblin she was fighting, although she took a nasty blow in the process. Tee tried to scramble to her feet, but received a nasty mace blow across the top of her head which left her dazed and reeling. Dominic scrambled to his feet, as well, but found himself directly in Agnarr’s way – stopping the raging barbarian from reaching the goblins who had just arrived.

Chaos reigned for a moment, but it didn’t take long for the group to turn things around. Goblins fell left and right until, finally, the last goblin – hissing a snarl that revealed its fang-like teeth – slammed the door.

The party took a moment to assess its wounds. Some of them were bloodied. Some of them were bruised. (Dominic took a moment to heal the particularly nasty wound on Agnarr’s shoulder.) But they felt they could continue. Agnarr kicked open the door through which the goblin had fled and found…

…nothing. A small room stacked high with rubbish. There were more bones here, as well, these considerably… juicier… than the ones in the kitchen above. But no doors. And no sign of the goblin.

Tee carefully moved into the room, looking for any sign of the missing goblin. Unfortunately what she found was Jasin’s body. The body had clearly been gnawed upon and several large cuts of meat had also been removed. Dominic quickly inspected the body, but it was so badly mutilated… Jasin had probably been dead before they ever spoke with Eral.

Tee gathered the body up in a spare cloak. As she was carrying it back out to be lifted through the trap door, she noticed a hole in the cellar wall which had been somewhat clumsily concealed by a stack of crates. A hurried discussion ensued, but the group agreed that they had accomplished what they’d come for: Recovering Jasin.

Tee emerged from the front door, carrying Jasin’s shrouded body in her arms. The crowd of onlookers began to murmur, and over their heads Tee could see Jasin’s mother, Ortesia, collapse on the porch of her own home. With bowed head she crossed the street and lay Jasin’s body down. “I am so sorry for your loss.”

“But there’s still a chance we could save him, isn’t there?” Elestra said, with a note of desperate hope in her voice. “He can’t have been dead for more than a few hours. He could be healed with magic.”

Eral shook his head and stammered. “We can’t afford anything like that.”

“And we don’t have the money either,” Agnarr said.

“So that’s it?” Elestra said. “We’ve got at least nineteen or twenty hours. Don’t we want to at least try something?”

“Like what?” Agnarr said. Then his eyes lit up and he turned to Tee, “We could sell your house!”

Tee stared at him blank-faced. She blinked once. “What?”

“We could sell your house! It’s the only thing of value that we have!”

“What ‘we’ are you talking about? It’s my house!” Tee shouted. She pulled herself under control long enough to offer condolences to the Yinnicks yet again and then strode off. After a moment the others followed. Dominic paused for a moment, “Someone should call the Watch. There may be more goblins in the basement.”

HEAVY HEARTS

With heavy hearts the group returned to the Ghostly Minstrel. Dirtied and bloodied, the group headed for the stairs, hoping to get cleaned up and find some much-needed rest.

As they reached the second floor, however, the group heard a strange and mournful song echoing through the halls. Rounding the corner they saw a spectral figure playing on a lute turning around the corner. Following it they came around the corner themselves just in time to see it walk through a wall.

Ranthir knocked on the door near where the ghostly figure had disappeared, but there was no answer. He frowned in thought, “Well, my curiousity has been piqued.”

Someone suggested that they might go downstairs and mention this to the owner. At the bottom of the stairs they saw that Tellith was still on duty at the front desk, approached here, and explained what had happened.

Tellith smiled. “Ah, you’ve seen the Minstrel have you? You’re fortunate ones. Most hear nothing more than his song, and they are lucky at that.”

Agnarr growled. “Of course. The whole place is called the Ghostly Minstrel!” He threw his hands up and headed up the stairs to bed.

Ranthir asked if they might be given access to the room the ghost had disappeared into. “Of course,” Tellith said. “As long as its not occupied. Which room was it?” When he described the location of the room, however, she shook her head. “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s Cardalian’s room. I can’t let you in there.”

“Do you know if Cardalian is in the inn tonight?”

Tellith shook her head. “I don’t think so. She left earlier this evening and I haven’t seen her come back.”

The group concluded that there wasn’t really anything else they could do about their sighting of the eponymous Ghostly Minstrel, so they broke up for the evening: Dominic and Ranthir followed Agnarr upstairs, but Tee and Elestra decided it was still too early in the evening for them. Tee decided to hit some of the legitimate gambling houses she had found out about and spent her time idly wagering various sums.

Elestra, on the other hand, stayed at the Ghostly Minstrel and hung out in the common room. Spotting Steron Vsool – the paladin she had spoken with a few nights earlier – sitting by himself, she wandered over and asked if she might join him. They chatted amiably for a few moments before Elestra steered the conversation towards recent events… particularly the riot.

Elestra dropped the suggestion that there might have been a bit more to the riot than just random circumstance and bad luck, and Steron picked it up and ran with it. “That’s exactly why they arrested Helmut Itlstein, or so I’ve heard,” he said. “And I’ve heard that there have been more arrests since last night.”

“Really?” Elestra said. “Who have they been arresting?”

“I don’t know. But if I had to place a wager, I’d say the Commissar is rounding up other Republican leaders. Probably because Helmut named names.”

“But why would the Republicans start a riot at their own event?” Elestra wondered out loud.

“Maybe they didn’t,” Steron said. “The Commissar may just be using that as an excuse to round them up. They’ve been a thorn in his political side for awhile now.”

At that moment, a large ogre with bluish skin and ioun stones swirling about his head, tapped Steron on the shoulder. “Steron, may I speak with you?”

“Of course, Urlenius,” Steron said. “If you’ll excuse me, Elestra?”

Steron left. Elestra got up as a well and was about to head up to bed when she spotted Iltumar Shon coming into the common room. She waved to him and he hurried over.

Iltumar had finally figured out the riddle she had apparently given him, “Is it a sawhorse, mistress Elestra?” She agreed that it must be and complimented him on his cleverness.

Iltumar gushed and was clearly trying to impress Elestra. Elestra, for her part, was patient and friendly. Eventually, though, she made her excuses and headed up to bed.

DORAEDIAN’S SUMMONS

Tee was awakened before the crack of dawn by a knocking on her door. Cracking it slightly she found a messenger waiting for her: “Mistress Tee? A letter for you.”

Looking at the letter she saw her name written in Doraedian’s familiar handwriting. Quickly ripping it open she found a very terse note:

Tee—

I have read your most recent letter. It is of the utmost importance that you come to see me with all due haste! It is urgent!

Doraedian

Tee immediately grabbed her things and headed up the hill to Iridithil’s Home. A false sunrise was cresting the ocean horizon and casting purple shadows across the face of the Spire. Iridithil’s Home itself was still in the cool, pre-dawn air – it seemed that almost no one was stirring, yet. Tee found Doraedian waiting for her in his office with the door open.

It turned out that, as Tee had suspected, Doraedian considered the reference Ranthir had found to a “city of dreams” to be incredibly important. He explained to Tee that the City of Dreams was spoken of in the Book of Secrets: It was an ancient elven city – a center of learning in which the legendary Elders of Dreaming would gather. But it was also said to have been lost in a great cataclysm. Indeed, the true lore of the City had been lost to them and only a handful of fragmentary references were left.

“I owe you an apology, Tee. You were right and I was wrong. The path that you are on seems inextricably bound to knowledge you do not have. It is time for you to learn the secret lore of the Dreaming. First I must consult with the other elders, but within a few days I will send you word of when your training is to begin.”

Tee was overjoyed, though she kept it as contained as she might. “Will I still be able to journey with my companions?”

“Yes,” Doraedian said. “Indeed, it is imperative that you do so. Your training will be carried out when it is possible for you to find time for it. But you must discover the purpose of the path that you walk.”

QUESTIONS AND A FRESH RESOLVE

(08/20/790)

The next morning the group met for breakfast, with Tee arriving first in the common room. It was a quiet and reserved meal, with very little being discussed.

Elestra eventually broke the ice by discussing what Steron had told her the night before. Agnarr thought, if all that was true, Phon might have been arrested: If Helmut wanted her out of the way and was naming names, he could have easily named her as well.

But after that momentary burst of information, the conversation remained sullen and uncertain. The death of Jasin was still heavily felt. Eventually someone broached the issue directly, and suggested that they should go back to that house, see what the Watch had done, and take whatever steps were necessary to permanently end the goblin threat there.

As if summoned by the mere mention of their name, two members of the Watch came through the front door of the Ghostly Minstrel. They looked around, spotted the group, and headed over.

“Are you Mistress Tee, Mistress Elestra, Master Agnarr, Master Ranthir, and Master Dominic? Please come with us. We have a few questions for you at the watchhouse.”

After confirming that they were not, in fact, under arrest, the group crossed Delver’s Square with them. It turned out that the Watch had a few questions regarding the “incident” at Greyson House the night before, but it seemed to be little more than a cursory follow-up. It quickly became apparent that, while they may have checked the house, they hadn’t found the secret passage in the cellar. They had posted a guard of some sort… but how long would they stay on duty there?

The group asked if they might be given permission to go back into the house and explore the secret passage they had discovered. The watchman shrugged. But when he learned they were members of the Delver’s Guild he agreed to ask his captain. He left, and when he returned he confirmed that they would be given unfettered access to the house.

They left the watchhouse and headed toward the North Market, their hearts perhaps a little lighter with their fresh-found purpose…

NEXT JOURNAL ENTRY

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