« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2010, 12:56:34 PM »
First real play session.
Horus (Beg4/WarB1) is taking a break between leads on his smuggling case, or 'checking sources' in his words. The bar is More Than Courage, run by Foster and Starla. Horus asks Starla if anything unusual has been happening lately, and she mentions (excellent gather info check) that some red-armbanded* people are trying to do some protection shake-downs and supplier lock downs. Horus asks Foster if they've been bothered and is told 'We can handle our own in this neighborhood, but over near the Widow's Market, they've been having some troubles.' (Two gather info checks above 25, Horus's dice seemed to roll either 19 or 4 most of the night.) About this time, Olin, the assistant for Horus's boss, Claudio shows up and tells Horus that he is needed at an investigation. Horus tells Foster to put it on the tab, laughs and pays up. Olin mentions after they've left the establishment that the well-used cudgel hanging on the wall above the bottles is called 'The Tab'. Horus had never noticed it. Olin asks where his 'partner' is, Horus is confused, Olin says 'the Eastern woman', and Horus (correctly) chides Olin that it is OK if he has a crush on her. Olin keeps silent after that.
Horus and Olin get to the crime scene, a sculpture in the Isle of Fables park called the 'Dream Pirate' depicting a stylized pirate ship kids can climb and play on. When he climbs up, he realizes there is a woman, who has bled out impaled with a parasol on the deck. A distant memory flickers and he remembers he has met this woman before, she was a friend of Cricket's. Then he notices the stylized cricket on the parasol and sends Olin (with Claudio's approval) to get Cricket.
Cricket is in her home territory, colloquially known as the Widow's Market, due to the number of shopkeepers that had adventurer spouses. Selling her parasols in the small square and generally chatting with the shopkeepers (she lives in the neighborhood above the bakery, so she is well known). Olin arrives with two guards and tells Cricket that Horus needs her to help with a new investigation. She comes along, surprised at the guards, but interested to find out what is going on. At the Civic Square entrance, she successfully passes the inspection of her bag (she isn't a Citizen) and so carries in her normal complement of weapons hidden in her parasol carrier. As they get closer to the scene, Cricket notices many more hostile stares than she ever has before, particularly from the guards. Horus moves to meet them, but Cricket's sharp eyes spot the parasol and starts asking what is happening. Eventually, she is asked to identify the parasol and the victim, which she does. The parasol had been a gift to Kori when they arrived to Narakadelphia, to symbolize that nothing as bad as the smuggling would happen to them again. Kori had ended up paying for her being smuggled in by becoming a 'working' girl for the smugglers. (Cricket had killed the first person they sent to her in the same role, ergo being used as an enforcer from then on.)
The guards found a few people that thought they had seen something, and after fairly detailed questioning by Horus, got a description of two men, one short, stylish, and slightly graying; the other tall, bald, and severely muscled. One person had even seen them helping a girl along, who looked sick or drunk. While trying to remove the body, the clean-up crew (led by the third PC, Quarrel) discovered the parasol had been driven into the stone under the body. Horus cuts the top off of the parasol so the body can be lifted off and discovers spider webbing in the spars. Cricket identifies the webbing as a calling card of Mr. Weaver, one of the higher ups in the smuggling operation and the improbable object planted in stone as a calling card of Mr. Smite, the smuggler's 'clean-up' man. Cricket notices some of the lacquer on the outside of the spars of the parasol has been scratched off. The witness that had seen the two men with the woman mentions that the short one was using a walking stick, and Cricket wonders if someone had put a sheathe on it. The witness also identifies the suit the stylish man was wearing as being a Gudmussen. Horus finally remembers his ex-wife bragging about the Gudmussen suit she got for her new husband, the last time they talked civilly. Armed with clues and joined by Quarrel, who has been assigned by his boss to keep tabs on what is going on with this situation. (Quarrel's boss is a higher up in the Cathedral. It isn't unusual for Quarrel to be assigned to assist an Investigator if the church is interested or a request is made.)
Off to the Widow's Market, since none of the PCs have any idea who or where this Gudmussen person/place is. Cricket discovers the unique joy of being well-like (bonuses to social interaction) and only having intimidate as a social skill. Eventually, without offending anyone, the get directions to the place. On the way to Gudmussen's, Quarrel notices a red-armbanded man running past an alley. With some lucky rolls and deduction, he manages to get ahead of the guy and lay him out with a mostly non-lethal smack from his cutlass. (This is where the rest of the party learns that Quarrel used to be a pirate. Immediate pirate vs. ninja commentary commences.) The runner, named Randall (now a recurring NPC) was taking protection racket updates to his boss, Johan. After advising him to change jobs, the PCs decide to leave Johan alone (at the Laughing Parrot) and continue with their investigation. Gudmussen has a large compound with a low stone-wall and high wrought-iron fence on top. Presuming they will not be able to get an appointment, Quarrel and Cricket Shadow Jaunt through the fence and Horus Spider Climb's over it. Stealth rolls come up 9, 22, and 21 respectively. Quarrel is noticed walking in front of one of the loom buildings. "Hey, who are you and what are you doing here?" demands the building foreman. Quarrel responds, "I'm the security tester. I was hired to make sure the grounds were safe." (Bluff check total 7) "Oh, I wasn't told that was happening," said the foreman (Sense Motive 5) " Well, I'm sure you have work to do, I wouldn't want one of the looms to have a problem while you were out talking to me," suggests Quarrel and the foreman agrees and goes back to work. Quarrel tries to be stealthy again and gets a result over 20, so no one notices him at random.
First they decide to try the back door of the main house of the compound, but Horus notices a string running from the top of the door through the door frame and they change their mind and start towards the front of the house. As they are sneaking around a voice demands, "What are you doing in my yard and why are you skulking around?" Cricket brings Horus to the window, who shows his badge. They are directed to the front door and greeted by the designer Gudmussen. They give him a description of the unusual fabric the witness had described and he acknowledges that he has used that material combination for one suit, for a Mr.Osceo James. He starts critiquing Cricket's 'working outfit' as being style-less and tacky, more like a costume than clothes. (Too many straps and buckles and such) Then Horus says, "Cricket, we aren't here to talk fashion, I think we have the information we need, thank-you Mr. Gudmussen." Gudmussen looks bemused and asks, "Are you the Cricket that does the parasols?" and suggests she changes clothes and make an appointment to come back to talk to him about doing some custom parasols for his collection. As they walk out the front gate, which is open and only guarded in the sense that there are people here to take messages around and possibly could be some help with angry clients.
They neglect to talk to the secretary who could tell them where Mr. James lives and go to the neighborhood where there is a silk-seller that specializes in unusual colors and patterns, since Mr. James brings in particular skeins for a suit, then pays for them with additional skeins of silk. Trying to track down the shop, they talk to a person that wants to have nothing to do with police types, someone that has no idea what they are talking about, and a tough guy that tries to strike down Horus as soon as he opens his mouth. The tough guy is a duskblade and his shocking grasp channeled strike hits Horus and does about 12 damage to him, Horus misses. Immediately Cricket and Quarrel move to flanking positions and through bad rolls only do 12 points of damage to him. Tough Guy realizes he's in way over his head and tries to run away screaming about the Imperials are here. (We don't use AoO's except in specific situations.) Horus uses a Glitterdust and a lucky saving throw later, the tough guy is still running. Cricket charges, gets blinded by the glitterdust, and still hits for a fair amount of damage (8 damage). Quarrel charges and smacks him for another 5 or so points of damage and the Tough Guy drops his weapon, drops to his knees, and raises his hands and surrenders. Quarrel takes hold and secures the prisoner, Horus takes Tough Guy's sword, lays it out and uses Mountain Strike to sunder it in two. He hands the hilt back to him and says, "Kid, you are in the wrong line of work. And NEVER run from me, it just makes me angry."
As Quarrel and Horus are deciding what to do, Cricket makes a 29 Spot check and notices someone closing a door and ducking back inside his shop. The shop sign is Mr. James' Fine Silks. Here is where we stop for the night.