Rogue Empire

Chapter 12: A Barrel of Laughs
Sanctuary... almost.
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Chapter 11: The Dwarf Fortress

After the botched assassination job, Magdeline Flintjaw suggest that the Thorns, and especially Lilly O’Reilly lay low for a while, as the city watch is actively looking for half orc women of her description regarding what happened on the harbour. Clark Wainwright suggests that Lilly stay in the catacombs for a while, and then disguises himself and ventures as he pleases.

A month goes by and the party busies themselves with their various projects. Gregory (Banner) Smith spends some time towards crafting his plate mail armour. Badger works on his various experiments, and Clarke keeps a lookout for trouble over his mugs of ale. Maggie recruits some trusted Dwarven workers and sets them to work securing the catacombs by walling off an area under the Rat’s Nest with sturdy doors that can be barred from the inside once the materials from the quarry arrive. Lilly sets to work along side the dwarves despite her prejudice against them in order to keep busy and make the time go by. Eventually, her prejudice is lessened as she can empathize with how difficult it can be to live underground, and the affect it can have on a person. During this time, Quinn arrives at Inn and makes his introductions. Quinn appears to be a very capable fellow and Maggie has Clarke vet the young man as a probationary member to be recruited. Clarke is eventually sent on a special mission by Maggie outside of the Inn.

Mask arrives to The Rat’s Nest on behalf of Lord Drake Worthington. Lord Worthington has been busy with an excavation a day outside of Ferros at the site of some truly ancient Dwarven ruins. Lord Worthington would like to call in the favour the Thorns owe in order to secure their help in exploring the ruins. Greg, Lilly, Badger, and Quinn accompany Mask to the dig site. They find numerous pots, urns and artifacts carefully labeled and cataloged in tents all around a large circular dig site with a stone entranceway at the bottom.

Lord Worthington explains how the site was discovered when a farmer attempted to remove what he though was a stone from his field, but the more he kept digging, the more he uncovered. Not knowing what to do, he asked his local lord who eventually put him in touch with Lord Worthington. Now, the entrance to the Dwarven fortress has been uncovered and a small opening has been cut through the ancient doors. Lord Worthington says he believes this site may be the oldest known Dwarven ruins in existence. The Thorns agree to explore the ruins on the condition that they may leave with all of the treasure that they can carry, if there is any treasure. Lord Worthington agrees as long as they promise to turn over any written or cultural knowledge they find over to him to copy first, and that they do their best to leave the ruins intact.

The party descends into the darkness. They come into a large square entranceway and find a long bridge over a chasm. Badger drops a rock into the chasm but does not hear anything indicating a bottom. At the opposite end of the bridge are four stone statues of Dwarves.

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Chapter 10: A Boatload of Trouble

Magdeline Flintjaw informs the party of a mission that would require the Thorns to assassinate a high level diplomat leaving the docks of Ferros within three days time. Unfortunately, the name and description of the diplomat is a close kept secret by the Imperial Government. The only information available is that the target is an Ambassador of the Empire and that The Sea Hag, the ship that the ambassador is setting out on will leave in three days time.

The conversation is cut short when a newcomer arrives to the Inn named Yorveth, from Aerd Shien in the elven lands. He states that he was informed of an up-and-coming outfit that could benefit the city and pledges his help. Always requiring skilled help, the group cautiously accepts, though Maggie asks Clarke to keep an eye on him.

The party sets to work. Ever the diplomat, Clark Wainwright visits the Falconers to alert them to the upcoming job as it is taking place on their territory. The Falconers state that they have no interest in the Sea Hag, and wish the Thorns the best of luck, and even provide a row boat and some of their home crafted poisons for the group’s use in exchange for 20% of the Thorn’s earnings for the job.

Yorveth and Badger Cobblesprocket arrive at the Imperial Trading House on the docks which keep track of ship manifests, and destinations to better coordinate trade within the Empire. Using their charm, distraction, and no small amount of magic, the pair is able to get a look at the manifest of the Sea Hag and learn that the ship is owned by a Captain Berkley, has a crew compliment of 42 sailors, and will be taking a hold filled with cotton along with five passengers to the Spice Islands. Using this information, Lilly O’Reilly, and Gregory (Banner) Smith visit the Salted Oyster, a favoured drinking den at the docks. There they learn that the Sea Hag is crewed mainly by former navy members including Captain Berkley who was a naval officer.

Bringing this information together, the party hatches a scheme to get some of their members aboard the ship. Clarke poses as an inexperienced labourer looking to get away from land and learn to sail. Reluctant to take un untrained seamen, Berkley is overcome by Clarke’s charm and enthusiasm and accepts him a crew member. He sends Clarke below to stow his gear. Clarke volunteers to peel potatoes for the ship’s cook and uses the Falconer’s poisons, slipping them into the stew. The cook catches Clarke and asks Clarke what he’s doing. Clarke takes a large spoonful of the stew and states he is adding some of this mother’s best spices to bring out the flavour and takes a bite of the poison to allay suspicion.

Yorveth and Greg use some of the guild’s funds to purchase a bolt of fine elven silk, and disguise themselves as merchants. They request to board the Sea Hag to do business with the captain. The captain is impressed by their wares but admits that his hold is already full and will not be able to take any more wares across the waters. Yorveth states this is fine, as he would rather set up business with the buyers prior to risking his wares on the open water and convinces the captain to become his parter in business as an exclusive shipper of the silk goods, repeating the phrase early retirement throughout his pitch. The captain agrees to take the two on as passengers for this business, stating they may have his cabin for the voyage as the guest cabin is already spoken for.

The crew of the Sea Hag eats dinner. Soon the sickness is apparent with diarrhea and vomiting throughout the ship. Captain Berkley damns his luck and orders the ship to cast off and fly the signals of a plague ship. The ship anchors in the middle of the harbour well away from the rest of the assembled merchant ships. The cook, already and old and weary man is overcome by the poison and passes away, leaving Clarke’s cover intact.

On shore, Lilly intercepts a runner sent by the docks to inform the Keep of the ship’s status. Overcoming her goto nature of killing first and not bothering with the questions, she “invites” the runner to drink with her, and keep drinking with her for the remainder of the evening. She pays him a few gold and tells him to stay in the bar, and he thanks her for not killing him. Lilly, Rhogar Bronzeblood, and Badger make ready to intercept the ambassador on the shore. Thanks to the intervention of the Falconers, the docks are all but deserted when night comes. The Ambassador, an uncommonly portly elf, as well as four knights arrive at the docks on horseback. The trio await them near the row boat and inform the ambassador of the change of plans, due to docking disputes, and that they will row the ambassador to the ship. Unable to see the colour of the flags flying on the ship at night time, the ambassador is not aware of it’s plague status. The group also states that they will likely not be able to take the knights out all at once, or in their heavy armour. The knights begin to protest, but the ambassador, eager to be on his way stops them mid-sentence. Two knights step forward and strip their plate mail, leaving it with their coleagues. With these knights, the ambassador and the two bodyguards board the rowboat and the group makes their way out to the Sea Hag.

Halfway across the water, the Thorns ambush the trio. The Ambassador, a wizard of some skill protects himself inside of an impenetrable circle of magic and Badger uses his own magic to convince one to jump out of the boat. The remaining knight fights valiantly but is overcome by Rhogar and Lilly. The charm wears off and the remaining knight attempts to swim to safety despite ranged attacks by the party on the rowboat. The Elven Ambassador is knocked onto the water but floats on top of it inside the circular bubble around him. Desperate to accomplish their mission, Badger has Lilly use the experimental weapon that the alchemist’s guild entrusted him and throws the jar into the open water. Badger blasts it with his magic and dark, sickly greenish cloud begins to spread ominously from it.

Unfortunately, the bodyguard who survived managed to swim the rest of the way to the Sea Hag, narrowly avoiding drowning, and several less than pleasant creatures that inhabit the harbour. He brings word of the ambush to Captain Berkley, and the crew including a description of the attackers. Captain Berkley sends the survivor below deck to be fed and to get a change of clothes. Shortly afterward, the toxins in the stew overcome the weary bodyguard and he passes away. The captain ascertains that the food has been poisoned, and beings to put the puzzle pieces together. His thought process is interrupted by the arrival of the rowboat crew who come aboard posing as clerics to ascertain the severity of the plague. Having the description of the attacks, Berkley for once is not fooled and order his crew to arrest them. Lilly, Rhogar, and Badger escape the ship onto the rowboat but find themselves the target of crossbow fire. Clarke is too weakened by the poison to fight and decides to preserve his cover. Yorveth seems to disappear in the confusion, and Greg, inhibits some of the crossbow fire by getting in the way while appearing to try and help.

Lilly rows furiously despite several telling shots making her appear as a pincushion. Rhogar appears to pass out from his wounds. Only when Lilly arrives on shore does she realize that Rhogar Bronzeblood has died from his injuries. Out of respect, she loots his corpse and burns his body with driftwood after confirming with Badger that Rhogar is truly dead.

Clarke and Greg sneak off on the real cleric aid boats that arrive to help the next day and regroup with the survivors the next day. They learn that the ambassador escaped, though his trip was at least delayed. The chests he had taken on the boat contained 2000 gold pieces, now added to the guild coffers, though it cost them the life of a friend to earn it.

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Chapter 9: The Thieves' Guild

The Thorns utilize magical illusions, trickery, and blunt force trauma to whittle down the superior trained force they find themselves up against, though they narrowly survive the ambush they set for Count Ferbin Rhyis‘s men, and Clark Wainwright, the last Thorn standing loses consciousness from blood loss. Some time later the Thorns awake to find themselves in the same cage wagon they used to spring the prisoners, though this time, it is unlocked. One of the men driving the wagon introduces himself as Santos, the defacto leader of the rescued thieves and he thanks the Thorns for the rescue. Badger Cobblesprocket uses his convincing powers of persuasion to offer the thieves safe harbour at The Rat’s Nest Inn, as well as future employment as upstanding members of their up and coming Thieves’ Guild. Deciding it is best to get in on the ground floor of this endeavour, and with few other options from their newly acquired fugitive status within the Empire, the thieves agree and are inducted into the formal membership of the Thieves’ Guild.

Clarke drafts a formal charter for the Guild and all involved sign the document with the exception of Magdeline Flintjaw. Clarke tries unsuccessfully to guess at her reservations and ponders this to Gregory (Banner) Smith. Greg, with an in depth knowledge of Dwarven culture, informs him that it is likely due to the democratic nature of the charter, as the rise of Democracy among the Dwarves was widely believed to have caused the downfall of the Dwarven Kingdom, contributing to the Goblin Wars and causing the refugee crisis plaguing Ferros. In the Boneways, Greg sets to work training the newly acquired members in the basics of hand to hand combat and small unit tactics. Despite any former training, the thieves warm to Greg’s effective teachings and within two weeks, prove themselves to be an effective combat force.

During this time, the Thorns recover from their wounds and tend to personal business. Badger’s mother comes to town, having retired from her tailoring shop after entrusting the family business to her eldest daughter, Badger’s older sister. Maggie hosts a supper to mark the visit and Badger introduces his friends to his mother as business associates, though he is reluctant to explain the nature of their business. Clarke chimes in that they manage a small theatre group for select noble patrons. Badger’s mother insists that her time is best spent finding an appropriate woman of standing for Badger to marry. Badger eventually acquiesces.

After the supper, Maggie informs the group of a potential mission that could net the guild some important contacts and give them some much needed income.

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Chapter 8: Networking

The Thorns regroup and catch each other up on their endeavours. Gregory begins forging a stylized long sword for Rhogar. Badger sells some loot to “his friend” Frank Codger, who sold Badger his stolen book of lore. Frank offers a modest sum for the loot provided that Lily smacks Badger. Lily obliged and Frank throws in one extra silver for her to do it again.

Clarke and Rhogar sell the gems and jewelled loot at Gundarson’s Goldsmiths, as he is a very honest jeweller. Maggie exchanges the coppers and silver pieces. The remaining loot is stored in the guild vault within the catacombs.

Maggie, the dwarves, and Lily complete the stonework beneath the inn, locking off a large portion of the catacombs into a secure location complete with reinforced doors that can be barred from within.

Clarke and Badger examine the artifacts looted from the noble’s house and learn that one is a cap of water breathing and that the other is a special set of goggles that allows the wearer to see in all but complete darkness.

Maggie offers some information about an opportunity. Count Rhyis is going to have some thieves hanged at his estate as a warning to other bandits and thieves in the county. As these thieves will be escorted out of the city for this purpose, a rescue could be attempted in order to increase the number of thieves in the guild.

Badger acquires the recipe to craft healing potions, though is dismayed to learn how expensive it is to craft them.

Clark, Lily and Gregory rent some horses and scout out the road to Count Rhyis’ estate. They find a small bridge over a stream that they decide will be the best ambush spot. After scouting, the party returns to the city. The party has little time to prepare so they head out and set the trap, though they have some trouble navigating the wagon, getting it stuck at one point before being able to free it.

The party successfully sets the trap, and the fight begins!

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Chapter 7: Acquisitions

The Thorns meet for breakfast and discuss their plans to perform robberies on some of the nobles’ homes, at least, the ones who plan on attending displaying of the armour of the Duke of Trent. A load of stones from the quarry finally arrives.

Badger Cobblesprocket, curious about the flares used by the city watch, investigates with the Alchemist’s guild and the Tinker’s Guild. He leverages his membership to gain access to both the recipe for the powder used in the flares and the schematics for the flares and flare guns. Lilly O’Reilly helps Magdeline Flintjaw to begin construction in the Boneways with the help of four other Dwarves. Gregory (Banner) Smith meets with Delaine Walker to pass on a message from Lord Briarthorn (one of Clark Wainwright’s alter egos). He requests information regarding a night soil collection cart. Walker indicates that he will help get a night soil business started to compete with the existing businesses but it would require a special set of wagons acquired through “Lord” Cooper, one of the gang leaders in the Labyrinth. Rogar prays. Clark drinks all morning under the guise of acting as an information coordinator.

Greg and Rogar go to acquire a shit wagon at Clark’s behest. They go to a bar known as the Shit Hole in Tanner’s Alley, a bar frequented only by night soil workers. The duo manage to overcome the smell and make some inroads with the Dwarves there, finding one (Jole Flintcracker) that will allow them to rob him of his wagon the next day in exchange for a substantial amount of gold. He will also keep his ear to the ground for them for future intel.

William “Billy” Gerard shows Clark his finished map of the city, made up of multiple sheets of parchment the cover a wall in the cellar. The map indicates most points of interest in the city, all of the guilds in the city, and which properties are owned by which nobles. Clark rewards him with a fake jewelled ring. Billy promises to work next on official noble’s papers for Lord Briarthorn.

Lilly, Clark, and Badger attempt to scout a noble’s house. Clark and Lilly act as watchers while Badger magically alters his appearance to a nondescript human male. He teleports into the manor and begins looking around, however knocks something over in the process. This attracts the attention of a house maid. Badger attempts to hide in an armoire but fails. When the maid sees him, she screams. Badger runs into an adjacent room while she runs away and finds an older woman putting on her nightgown. This woman also screams. Badger says “Nice!” and runs into another room where a young man is retrieving a sword from the wall. He challenges Badger while two household guards run towards him from behind. Badger smashes out the bedroom window with a thunderous chromatic orb and runs through the opening, casting feather fall on the way down. Badger expends his final spell to teleport through the gate. Two flares go up from nearby city watch teams. Lilly throws Badger over her shoulder and the party flees. Several bolts fly when the group refuses to halt and Clark’s arm is nicked in the fray, but the group manages to escape.

The next day, the party “robs” the Dwarven poop wagon driver, tossing him four gold. The wagon is stored at Morningstar Manor under a tarp, the mule is taken to the Wainwright residence for safekeeping.

Badger marks a special coin to be used with a find object spell. He attempts to craft some glue but succeeds only in gluing his alchemist’s chest shut. This forces him to buy solvent from the Alchemist’s Guild to unlock his own supplies. After a few hours, he presents Clark with the coin and some glue.

The group splits into two parties. Clark and Greg accompany Lord Worthington to Count Rhyis’ party, which proves to be an immaculate affair. The party is introduced to High Arcanist Narien Silverwind, the highest recognized wizard in the Empire. She explains the history of the armour to the assembled nobles. The armour radiates power and the crowd is surprised to learn that someone is wearing it for the night when it moves. Clarke spies on lady Selse and learns that she is an adept politician. Gregory makes an appropriate and seemingly accidental blunder during the fireworks display, allowing Clark to subtly manipulate the marked coin onto the armour. At the end of the party, the High Arcanist and the armour teleport away. Unfortunately due to the range of the Arcanist’s teleportation spell, the coin is too far away to be detected. The guests are given party favours with the servants receiving ornate daggers and the nobles receiving ornate swords. Lord Worthington gives his sword to Gregory Smith.

Lily, Badger and Rogar rob one of the houses, which appears to be unguarded. Two of the household servants appear to be occupied. However, they are only able to find a meagre haul. The second house appears to be much more profitable when Badger disguises himself as Johan Amadeus and mind controls the butler into telling him where the household safe is. Badger transmutes the safe into a breakable material and Lily smash into it. They made off into the night with their shitty haul.

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Chapter 6: The Banes

Lilly O’Reilly arrives at The Rat’s Nest at the invitation of Maggie. Lilly has run into some trouble with the local nobles overseeing her village and needs to lay low for a while. Maggie is friends with Lilly’s Grandfather and agreed to take the skilled warrior, seeing an opportunity. She is quickly introduced to the Thorns and agrees to join them in the fight against the Banes, whom she sees as no better than the raiders that target her village.

The Thorns team up with the Falconers in a coordinated effort to destroy both The Banes, and the War Dogs. Amir K’Tar will lead his men to take on the War Dogs at their warehouse, while the Thorns attack the tenement building that is the base of operations for the Banes. Due to the number differential, Amir volunteers the siblings Dolan Kadjet and Mishka Kadjet assist the Thorns, but also to evaluate them as potential allies.

The Banes are recovering from the assault by the War Dogs and have somewhat reduced numbers thanks to the shenanigans of Clark Wainwright. The attacks will happen simultaneously at midnight. At the appointed time, the Thorns make their way through the Labyrinth and set themselves up for combat near the building. Mishka and Clarke take to the rooftops to provide covering fire while the remainder of the Thorns take up position for melee combat. They remain hidden while doing so. The first blood is drawn by the Thorns when they surprise the door guards and attempt to lure out the Banes. Their ploy is successful, and all out battle ensues. Though the Banes outnumber the Thorns more than three to one, the Thorns gradually whittle away the stronger force, though one by one the Thorns are taken out of the fight, first Lilly, then Rhogar, and Badger. Eventually Greg taunts some of the Banes before running away, luring some of them out of the fight. He ambushes one of the Banes and then hides again to try and treat some of his many wounds. Dolan is knocked unconscious, and rather than leave his companions behind, Clarke stays with Mishka to attempt to take out the larger force. Against all odds, Clarke succeeds and is the last man standing, though only barely. Unfortunately, the Banes who chased Greg return and decide to finish off the downed Thorns forcing Clarke to take action. He ambushes two sets of Banes before losing consciousness from his own wounds as the Banes stand over him.

Greg returns to the tenement building after binding his wounds and catching his breath. He finds dozens of bodies outside of the building but none of his companions. Inside, he finds the Falconers who decided to check on their allies after succeeding in their own mission. The Falconers made quick work of the remaining Banes and Amir actually recruits some of the captured Banes to his own organization. The wounds of the Thorns have been treated and they regain consciousness one by one. The Falconers looted the Banes as payment for having to rescue the Thorns. Mishka gives a favourable report to Amir regarding the Thorns when she regains consciousness. The Falconers leave.

The Thorns quickly search the building and learn that it is occupied by many renters who kept the doors locked and windows latched during the midnight melee. They find the deed to the building and establish themselves as the new landlords, naming the building Morningstar Manor. With Tears avenged and both the Banes and the War Dogs destroyed, the Thorns limp back to the Rat’s Nest to recover and plan their next moves.

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Chapter 5: Gangs of Ferros

Gangs of Ferros
(Excerpted from King Doggerel’s Musings on a Revolution (aka Clark Wainwright’s Journal))

Tears is dead. She’s dead over what amounts to little more than a handful of gold, and the worst part is that I wasn’t even there. Tears was strange and sometimes a little scary, but she was sweet, and more importantly, she was one of ours. It’s bitter indeed that the wake-up call regarding how dangerous what we’re doing is had to come at that cost – Tears never deserved that. I’ve been tempted to give this whole thing up, so others aren’t hurt while we try to build this, but ultimately I think to do so would dishonour Tears’s memory. So we’ll see this through, for her if nothing else. And eventually, we’ll do something really unspeakable to her corpse, which is exactly what she would have wanted…

I think I need to go back somewhat. After the Thorns defeated the half-orc bandits, Greg and I brought their heads back to Lady Selsi. Lady Selsi was not at all what I was expecting – she was a cunning operator, and she suggested that she would have further need of discreet operators who were not too morally upright. Still, she had paid us what we were due, so I told her where to find us and we went on our way. We made sure that Walker got the wagon (perfect for a corpse cart, now that it had been christened with the blood of the half-orcs) and returned to the Rat’s Nest to decide what to do next while we waited for Maggie. We also took a quick side-trip to the quarry to pick up Billy the painter, and employ him. The first task we put him to was producing a map of the city.

Then trouble found us. A few “businessmen” came looking for Maggie, looking to work out the terms of a business arrangement. We appointed ourselves as Maggie’s representatives in her absence, and we quickly intuited the “businessmen” were running a protection racket. This got our hackles up, but we agreed to meet with them at a later time to discuss terms further. They returned the next day in numbers, and we negotiated terms peacefully but tensely for a while, until Tears noticed that one of the “businessmen” had robbed her and Badger earlier. A brawl broke out as Tears attacked her robber. The enemy gang was routed, and began to flee. Taking to the rooftops, I chased one of the fleeing gang-members across the city.

I followed him to a tenement building, and watched him enter. Fearing that he was trying to evade my pursuit, I stayed perched on the rooftop for most of the night, waiting for my quarry to exit, but he never did. Eventually I worked up the nerve to use Father Snegle’s teachings to magically disguise myself as the leader of the gang, and enter the building. I found myself in the headquarters of a gang known as The Banes, and evidently I was expected – or at least, the person whose guise I was wearing was. I discovered that The Banes intended to attack the Rat’s Nest, and was drafted into the attack. I went along to see if I could do anything to curtail the attack, when the fate seemed to smile on the Thorns.

Outside, waiting for The Banes was a rival gang, known as The War Dogs. The War Dogs accused The Banes of attacking them in the company of a dragonborn. The Banes were justifiably confused by this accusation, but to stoke the flames of conflict, I subtly created an illusory image of the only dragonborn I knew from which to draw a likeness – Rhogar. The Banes being seen in the company of Rhogar was more than enough to incite The War Dogs to attack. I took the opportunity to take a rather ineffectual potshot at the leader of The Banes, then fled in the chaos to warn The Thorns of impending danger.

I returned to the Inn to find a stalwart woman by the name of Lily O’Reilly, who had apparently been sent by Maggie to aid us in our endeavours. I was also greeted by the tragic news of Tears’s demise; apparently she had been struck down in the chaos of the initial battle. I was struck nearly dumb with grief at this revelation, but I had to emulate the stoicism of my elven mother and put aside my feelings. I informed my friends of the impending attack by the Banes, and Lily O’Reilly immediately volunteered to keep watch all night. I was amazed at how someone who had just met us would offer to do something so strenuous without a moment’s hesitation.

We waited fretfully for the attack, but it never came. Instead, we had even stranger visitors. The men were foreigners, clad in rich robes of fine silk. Their leader was arrayed with scrolls and potions, but he carried himself with the easy grace and confidence of a coiled serpent. Like our previous visitors, they had a business proposition for us. However, this proposition was much more welcome to us.

Apparently the foreigners had heard of our encounters with both The Banes and The War Dogs (I later learned that a captive from The Banes had duped Rhogar, Greg, and Badger into believing he was a member of The War Dogs, and divulged the location of The War Dogs headquarter, hence the strange encounter I had when I was in disguise). The foreigners have mysterious interests in the city, particularly around the docks, and find the instability caused by the constant fighting between The Banes and The War Dogs harmful to those interests. So the men proposed that they offer support to The Thorns, and we jointly dispatch those two gangs.

Although I had some concerns about these mysterious interests, the men assured me they had nothing to do with slavery, and the proposal served our immediate needs, so the Thorns agreed – provided that they put their best fighter against our best fighter in a sparring match. The foreign champion was an incredibly acrobatic fighter who seemed to spend most of the match on the chandelier, but Greg was our champion and his patience and brute strength won out over the flashier style of the challenger.

Now, armed with potions and information provided by the foreigners, we prepare to go and put paid to The Banes, before they can do the same to us. I’ve taken a few moments to collect my thoughts and put this down in my journal. If we don’t make it back from this folly, then we’ll be seeing Tears soon…

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Chapter 4: A Wagon Full of Trouble

The Bounty of Bounty Hunting
(Excerpted from King Doggerel’s Musings on a Revolution (aka Clark Wainwright’s Journal))

On the heels of our “success” in securing the deed for the Rat’s Nest, Maggie has left the city, and left the success or failure of the Thieves Guild in the hands of the Thorns. Big mistake! Her absence gave rise to a great deal of faffing about. Although, to be fair to my fellow conspirators, it’s not as though Maggie’s proposal was made to a group of tabulae rasae (which Father Snegle indicates means “blank slate” in the High Speech) – each of the Thorns had his or her own concerns before this enterprise, and our high-minded ideals haven’t made them go away. As such, Greg spent time in the smithy, Rhogar Bronzeblood spent time preaching, Badger Cobblesprocket concerned himself with some cockamamie scheme involving galvanic energy, and Tears… did whatever Tears does.

Eventually, we managed to get our collective heads around our future, and after much discussion and debate we decided to generate some capital by dipping our toes into the corpse removal business. Badger thoughtfully indicated that having employees travelling the city collecting corpses would be a great cover for spies and informants, while Tears spent a great deal of time considering the eventual fate of the collected corpses. I had my reservations about her plans, but eventually agreed to whatever she deemed fit sight unseen, as long as she promised not to feed the corpses to sentient beings. I’m afraid that all the verbal repartee rather excited Tears, because for some reason she keeps asking people about what the potential outcome of sexual congress between us would be, as two half-elves… I’m going to put that out of my head at the moment, and focus on the task at hand.

Although I have been reluctant to bring my father into this enterprise, I knew our plans would require a quality wagon, and Wainwright wagons are the most finely wrought wagons in Ferros. I managed to convince my father to let me and my compatriots construct a wagon in his workshop in the off-hours, for only the cost of materials. I think my father evaluates all my activities based on how likely they are to have me arrested – this one, I think, ranks unfortunately high on that scale (indeed, certain documents I found indicate that my father has put himself out on my behalf before, due to my revolutionary ideas – I could suggest that that means that implicitly my father approves of my ideals, but given the present circumstances, this is another matter to put of my head to focus on the task at hand). But, if my birth is any indication, my father is completely unable to say no to anyone with elven blood.

Wishing to know more about the nature of the bureaucracy of essential services in the city, I posed as a wealthy noble looking to invest in a corpse removal service; the mortified (deliberate choice of words, there) clerk at the city services centre directed me to the offices of one Walker Corpse Removal. I continued the charade, and had Mr. Walker meet me at the Boar’s Head to discuss business opportunities.

The original plan was to have Tears play the part of my death-obsessed sister (which, in a fine dress loaned by a co-worker named Alice, she did all to well) in order to extract information about rates and measures, and eventually undercut Mr. Walker. However, Tears poured on the charm and shared her conversation with me via her uncanny talent to intrude on one’s mind, and we both came to the conclusion that Mr. Walker was a fine man, and that we would benefit more from working with him, rather than undercutting him. Together, as Lord and Lady Briarwood, we pledged a wagon to his company in exchange for a cut of profits and preferential hiring policies.

Before we could give the wagon to Walker, however, we had a use for it. Greg, in his search for alternate funds for the Thorns, had decided to investigate the possibility of serving as bounty hunters. Despite being accosted by Johan Amadeus, Greg managed to find a fine bounty posted by one Lady Selsi, for the heads of two half-orc bandits with the bonus for the recovery of a certain ring. It seems these half-orcs lurked on the coastal road and preyed upon those with carriages and wagons, and it just so happened that the Thorns found ourselves in possession of a wagon and in want of a fortune.

We traveled the coastal road, with Tears and I masquerading as poor farmers, with Greg playing the part of our farmhand. Meanwhile, Badger and Rhogar concealed themselves within the bed of the wagon. As predicted, the bandits struck – I’m afraid to say that despite our best efforts, they were not rooked by our deception. The only thing we had going for us was that we too knew we were going into a trap. The less said about the encounter between the Thorns and the two half-orc bandits the better, but needless to say, we eventually prevailed. Tears seemed to take great glee in separating the heads from the bodies to collect the bounties, while Greg thoroughly ransacked their camp. Personally, I can’t help but think that we have aided the nobles by killing humble folks who had no interest but in getting back what was theirs from the nobility. I will salve my conscience, however, with the thought that these fiends tried to extort us even when we wore the guise of humble farmers.

Being a revolutionary and a member of a thieves guild at the same time is no easy task.

GM Notes…

Magdeline Flintjaw leaves the city to gather support, capital, and information, leaving the Thorns with an agenda to find long term financing options for their endeavour. She suggests the corpse gathering business as a viable option, but leaves the choice of ventures and method of capturing these ventures at the discretion of the Thorns.

The Thorns flounder for a little while without the presence of their guild leader while attempting to find their stride and nail down a solid plan. Badger Cobblesprocket gathers some spare parts using his innate charisma and the favour of the Tinker’s Guild Master and attempts to upgrade his position from device field tester to laboratory researcher, though with little headway as most of the scientific principles are yet beyond his grasp. Greg Smith takes the opportunity to perform some of his smithing obligations to the Smith’s Guild and partners with Badger to make a pitch to the Smith’s guild for transmutation of materials to make better use of the Smith’s Guild’s time, turning valuable and hard to work with metals into metals easier to work with before they naturally change back into their original form, drastically reducing the labour cost and skill level required to work with precious metals. The High Smith agrees to a trial period for this plan to see if it is feasible and cost efficient. Rhogar Bronzeblood performs his duties to the church, leaving the planning of their next caper in the hands of the other Thorns.

Clark Wainwright crafts a plan to get into the corpse gathering business while Tears begins to make plans for what to do with the corpses once they are gathered. She attempts to make some contacts with the apprentices of the Physik’s Guild but makes little headway with the suggestion of them having a fresh supply of bodies to experiment on and learn from. Clark does some civic investigating and trails some potential corpse gathering businesses to acquire and learns that the corpse gatherers are paid by the city to deal with the bodies. He disguises himself to change his demeanour to that of Lord Briarthorn, a foreign noble and a potential business investor to the Walker Family Corpse Removal business, impressing Mr. Walker into a business meeting later that day at the Smoked Boar Tavern. Clarke enlists the help of Tears to act as his sister requiring her to bath and borrow a nice dress from one of her friends at the Rat’s Nest, though she finds the dress to be a little roomy for her around the chest. The two successfully convince Mr. Walker that they are nobles and find that they actually like the man, altering their initial plans from taking the business over to actually following through with the partnership, agreeing to provide him with a wagon, future favours, and funding in exchange for partnership in his business and preferential hiring choices.

The Thorns pay a visit to James Wainwright‘s work yard to construct their own wagon. Through some investigating/snooping, Clarke learns that his father had paid off Johan Amadeus in order to secure his son’s release from prison several times due to his revolutionary tendencies. Under the watchful and skeptical eye of James Wainwright, the Thorns successfully construct a wagon, and then purchase a mule, though this costs them what little remained of their group funds.

Needing some immediate capital, the group tries their hand at bounty hunting finding a potential job along the costal road out of the city. Posing as a family of simple farmers, and hiding their Dragonborn Cleric under a tarp in their new wagon, the party is successfully ambushed by their targets, though they find the two half-orc brothers to be very tough prey. By the end of the skirmish, only Clarke Wainwright is still standing and he binds the wounds of his comrades. The group limps back to Ferros with their bounty in tow.

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Chapter 3: The Deed Deed

(Excerpted from King Doggerel’s Musings on a Revolution (aka Clark Wainwright’s Journal))

Can any system that is built upon oppression of the lower classes truly be called “legal”? Nevertheless, until the glorious revolution, the law must be considered. However, if the law can be a cudgel, it can also be a shield. To that end, Maggy tasked The Thorns (the name which we have tentatively decided to go by) with procuring the deed to the land the Rat’s Nest sits upon from the Worthington family, by any means necessary.

We decided to investigate the Worthington estate during the day, and on the way I called upon my father. Apparently my father has hired a stout man by the name of Falkor to aid him, which salves my conscience somewhat; knowing that my father has competent help in plying his trade frees me up to pursue my more noble philosophical goal. My father also presented me with a “coming-of-age” gift from my mother – how nice of the lady to notice us.

In the Guild Quarter, Rhogar and I decided to masquerade as missionaries (although it was less of a masquerade for him…) to get an inside view of the estate, while Greg, Badger, and Tears scouted the exterior. Rhogar and I were pleased to find that Drake Worthington was an affable, if distractible young man. While Rhogar and Drake debated the finer points of Bahamutian theology, I slipped away to prepare a point of egress for later in the evening. After convincing Drake to make a donation to the temple of Bahamut (so that Bahamut would not strike me down for using his name under false pretenses) we returned to the Rat’s Nest to make our plan. I made note of Drake’s valet, however – although he appeared unassuming, he carried himself with assurance, and moved with a dancer’s grace.

Badger objected to the plan to steal the deed from Drake, but Tears and Greg overruled him. I convinced Greg to leave behind his army, and after strenuous arguing, to leave behind all but a few weapons. Under the cloak of darkness and rain, we returned to the Worthington estate and entered the window I had left open earlier, while Rhogar kept watch below.

Greg, lacking the ability to see in the dark, remained behind to cover our exit, while I searched upstairs, Tears searched the library, and Badger made a beeline for the kitchen. While searching upstairs, I heard a scuffle and stealthily made my way back to the window, where I found Greg beaten unconscious. Peering out the window, I noticed the same fate had befallen Rhogar, and a figure was heading to the manor. With care, I lowered Greg’s unconscious form out into the garden and followed him, while the figure returned to the house. I dragged Greg over to Rhogar, and just managed to wake the slumbering dragonborn (just like the boar all over again…) when someone called out to us in the darkness. I took that opportunity to beat a tactical retreat, and returned to the Rat’s Nest to talk strategy with Maggie… If we were going to create another new thieves guild, then time was of the essence.

Fortunately, while we were discussing possible replacements, our companions returned unharmed (save for Greg’s pride). Apparently Tears had convinced Lord Worthington of our value and that we should not only not be given over to the city watch, but that we should be given the deed we originally sought, in exchange for some acts of derring-do on Worthington’s behalf. Personally I think she was able to negotiate with him because he is as addled as she is, but all’s well that end’s well. Although Worthington has benefited from a station that is built on oppresion, he seems like a nice enough fellow, and I’m happy to have him as a friend instead of an enemy. And I’m glad my friends weren’t killed by that beastly Mask fellow – assembling a new thieves guild would have taken ages.

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