Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Seven's Sawmill (04/12/2013) (Updated)

As happens upon occasion half of us when to Scott's house, the other half went to Corky's house. They live relatively close to each other, so no harm no foul and we all soon ended up a Corky's. I am not sure we will be able to top last week's jaw dropper this week, but all are looking forward to the next portion of the investigation.

Many thieves' guilds include small shrines to Norgorber in his guise as the "Gray Master." Hidden sects of conspirators who venerate him as the god of secrets know him as the Reaper of Reputations . And those who see divinity in the poisonous know him as "Blackfingers." Yet the most sinister and dangerous of his followers are the Skinsaw Men - they know Norgorber as Father Skinsaw. These fanatic murderers are not assassins - they kill not for wealth, but for the sick joy of it. The Skinsaw Men hold that all of their murders serve a greater cause, their leaders receiving visions of victims that they believe to be divine messages from Father Skinsaw. With each murder, society is shaped - deeds the victim might have accomplished go unrealized and the lives of those who knew the dead shift and change in subtle ways. Over the course of years, or even centuries, murders can shape nations and write the future's history. And when the Final Blooding occurs, then shall Father Skinsaw reveal to his flock the purpose of this shaping of society by death.


It wasn't hard to find the Seven's Sawmill. The Seven's Sawmill was one of several mills that operated along the shores of Kyver's Islet on the outskirts of Magnimar. The party had seen a sawmill in action back in Sandpoint, and at least externally the party could only detect that is was indeed a working sawmill.

Built over the mouth of the Yondabakari River, the sawmill was a wood building that sat on massive wooden pilings that had been driven into the riverbed below. A wooden boardwalk wrapped around the northern rim of the building, and a flight of stairs lead down to a door on the east side just above the water level. The churning of four large waterwheels under the mill filled the air with sound and mist.

From their vantage point the party could see several worker men working in the lowest level of the mill as they fished logs out of the river. Kheo decided to investigate by approaching the workers and asking about employment opportunities.

As Kheo stepped onto the floor of the undermill he saw that this was a place of mist and noise. Four immense waterwheels churned steadily in the northern part of this large room, while to the south whirring belts of leather, gears, pulleys, and thick ropes spun and churned, using the eternal motion of the river below to power the pistons that rumbled along the southern wall. Three workers scrambled about, as they simultaneously took turns ensuring the equipment continued to work properly and as they manipulated the huge logs onto the lift for delivery to the upper areas of the mill.

One of the workers spied Kheo and gruffly told him to leave, that is wasn't a safe place. Kheo sputtered that he was just looking for work, but the workers just yelled at him and told him he had to go. Kheo returned up the stairs and told the rest of the party, so the decision was made to start on the ground level floor. Just as before Kheo entered the building through a large set of double doors with the intent of using his quest for employment as an introduction.

The entirety of the first floor consisted of a loading area. An opening in the ceiling into the floor above was filled with a tangle of ropes and slings for the raising and lowering of timber. Nearby, a set of stairs ascended to the next floor. Two sturdy wagons sat to the south next to a bank of machinery accessed by four low doors; the grinding and creaking of the machinery filled the room.

With no one in the loading area, Kheo waved in the rest of the party. Kheo investigated the two wagons, but they were empty. Stike kept an eye on the stairs, Selinor investigated the noisy equipment, and Reynard in the back corner behind a wall Raynard found a bed of straw. A very large bed of straw. Reynard guesstimated that someone - or something - about ten foot in height had slept there, although likely not recently.

With a gulp the party decided to move upstairs to the second floor. At the top of the stairs was a small anteroom with a door. Kheo stealthily cracked the door open and peaked in to see a large storeroom that was filled with stacks of timber, firewood, and other finished lumber products waiting for shipment. A network of pulleys on tracks covered the ceiling, ropes dangling here and there to aid in the shifting of inventory as needed. Machinery churned along the south wall, while nearby two chutes fitted with winches allowed lumber to be hauled up from the holding pools below. Four openings in the ceiling lead to the upper floor; chutes extended through each of these from the log splitters in the room above. Under each opening was a collection bin.

Kheo took a deep breath and stepped into the room. There were four workers present as they scurried about the storeroom. As before several of the spied Kheo and gruffly demanded that he leave, that this place was not safe. Kheo offered he was only looking for work, but the replies he received were that he had to leave.

Kheo closed the door and stepped back into the anteroom. After a brief discussion it was decided to move up to the third floor. Similar to the second floor an anteroom sat at the top of the stairs, this one with two doors - one likely a closet of some sorts, the other likely leading into the work area. Selinor waited outside the door on the second floor, and with Reynard and Stike standing guard Kheo again cracked open the door to peek in and saw that  the floor of this room had a thick carpet of sawdust, penetrated by two large log splitters and saws set up over openings in the floor. Another pair of openings was fitted with winches and ropes to raise and lower the uncut lumber from below.

And again as before Kheo stepped into the room with the intention of asking for work. There were four worker men in this room, loading and unloading lumber from the equipment, all stepping nimbly about the equipment. Two of them approached Kheo and began the usual warnings about safety and asked what he wanted. Kheo told the two workers he was looking for work, and they both responded with interest. As the three chatted Kheo noticed the other two workers in the back of the room had donned some odd looking robes and masks and were pulling out some wicked looking war razor's. Kheo then noticed the two workers he was chatting with were reaching for robes that had been hanging on the wall, and decided that this might be a good time for him to take his leave.

Skinsaw Cultist
Stike slipped past Kheo and roared into the room with his mighty sword. The four cultists seem to have the numbers, plus they were able to move around the churning equipment with ease, but Reynard and Kheo provided ranged support and soon the cultists were whittled down. As the next to last cultist fell Stike purposely bumped him on to one of the moving chains and the corpse was lifted off the floor and into the room above.

Back on the second floor as soon a Selinor heard the disturbance on the third floor he decided start a fire at the entrance of the storage area (DM Note: That's right - fire, in a sawmill). The spell fizzled (fortunately?) and almost immediately the door was yanked open and there stood four of the cultists. Selinor managed to keep them bunched up at the door as he yelled over the roaring equipment that help was needed.

Reynard moved down the stairs to assist Selinor, and as Stike and Kheo finished the last cultist on the third floor they saw the cultist corpse that had gotten tangled in the chains now moving down from the fourth floor and down into the second floor. It dawned on them this might serve as some sort of warning to others in the building, but for now they were needed on the floor below.

Stike and Kheo joined the battle on the second floor and soon the party finished off the remaining cultists they found themselves trapped on the stairs as three cultists rushed up from below and two more came down the stairs from above. This fight was brief but brutal as the party took care of the remaining cultists.

Before the party moved back up the stairs they decided to investigate the room on the second floor, although nothing of particular interest was discovered there. On the third floor approximately twenty of the cultists robes and masks were discovered in the closet, along with a barrel that contained three bags of 100 GP; three Potions of Barkskin +3; a beautiful crystal decanter set with an obsidian stopper, worth 300 GP; and a tiny wooden box containing three poorly cut diamonds, worth 200 GP each.

The party then crept up the stairs to the top level floor, the noise of the machinery covering any noise they might have made as they walked up the stairs. On the fourth floor they discovered a thick layer of sawdust covered the floor, mounded nearly a foot deep in places. Workbenches sat here and there in the room, their surfaces cluttered with saws, hand drills, planers, and other woodworking tools.

Justice Ironbriar
From out of what appeared to be an office at the back of the room stepped an elf dressed in a serious set of robes and wearing a mask. By his side marched three lemures (minor devils) stepping forward as to provide protection for the unknown elf. The elf spoke with a deep voice, expressing disappointment that his cultists hadn't been able to finish the job and now it was up to him to finish the job.

The fight was almost over before it could reach the level of a real battle. Two lightning bolts (DM Note: I missed on both saves) and an arrow of Elf Bane +1 from Kheo and the mysterious elf was dead, the lemures similarly dismissed.

Despite the ongoing rumble of the equipment a feeling of quiet settled over the room. Who was the elf? None of the party members were from Magnimar, so the next obvious step was to inspect his office and see what could be determined. Inside they found a hideous site - the walls of this room bore macabre decorations - human faces stretched flat over wooden frames by strips of leather or black twine. Each face grimaced in a slightly different expression of pain, looking down on a cramped room that contained a desk, a high-backed rocking chair, and a low-slung cot heaped with scratchy-looking blankets. A ladder in the southeast corner of the room lead up to a trap door in the ceiling. Papers on the desk identified the elf as Justice Ironbriar - and that caused the party some pause. They might not have known the elf by face, but that name was certainly well known. Justice Ironbriar was a leading member of Magnimar's Justice Council and a very important person in the city of Magnimar - but what was he doing here? Had the party uncovered his secret second life?

In the corner of the room was a large footlocker, filled with oddments that Ironbriar has collected from his many victims over the years. A fair number were of a historical nature, including books, sea charts, etchings of vast rock formations and dolmens accompanied by maps, several pamphlets discussing a "forgotten" school of magic known as the Alchymyc, and a fine painting depicting a city carved from a vast frozen waterfall with towering ice cathedrals and domes (200 GP).

Near the bottom were several books. The first of these was a wizard's spellbook emblazoned with two entwined snakes (one red, one green) that contained the following spells: blink, cat's grace, chill touch, enlarge person, fox's cunning, grease, haste, lightning bolt, mage armor, magic missile, scorching ray, shocking grasp, shrink item, spider climb, and web. Reynard slipped the spellbook into his robes.

The second book was an old and beautifully filigreed tome containing numerous hand-drawn illustrations and titled The Syrpents Tane: Fairy Tales of the Eldest. The book presented tales of the Tane - the most feared of a group of notorious fey known as the Twisted, goliaths of war and madness dreamt and stitched into being by the Eldest. The Tane were said to be terrible to behold, and the stories spoke of them stumbling into mortal lands where they ravaged kingdoms by creating firestorms, crushing keeps with their feet, and eating dragons.

Specific Tane described included monstrous creatures like the Jabberwock (a thing of scales and fire and crushing fury), the Thrasfyr (also known as the Dreaming Hill of the Dark, a chimeric monster wrapped in chains that the book claimed took part in the Three-Thousand Year War of the Eldest), and the Sard (the Storm of Insanities, a thing of boughs and briars and misery, an ancient Wychwood Elm given life and hate by the Eldest). This fine and rare tome was worth 500 GP.

Below the two books was a third book that served as both a ledger and a journal. The journal was written in some sort of code and was undecipherable. Reynard detected bits of draconic and elven language in the code, but a third language was part of the code. Reynard that even if he knew the third language it would likely take weeks to decipher everything that was int he book.

The ledger portion of the book indicated that Ironbriar has received payment from the Red Mantis for delivery of "Vorel's Legacy." The party surmised that Aldern Foxglove had used the bird cages to deliver the infected rats to Ironbriar, who in turn had sold them to the Red Mantis, a shady group of assassins that worked in the shadows of society. But to what end?

With nothing more in Ironbriar's office to inspect, that party climbed up the rickety ladder in the back of the room and through the trap door into a small rookery. A timber cabinet sat against the northern wall here, its doors made of iron mesh. Inside perched three strangely silent ravens. A table nearby held a tall narrow bucket of bird feed, a quill, and a vial of ink, as well as several thin parchments weighted down by a polished rock. At this height the party also had a good view of the area surrounding the sawmill.

The Shadow Clock
The party quickly decided the ravens had been used to deliver and receive messages, but as to who no clues were given. The party decided to release one of the ravens, just to see if they could detect where it might fly. Several of the party members lost sight of the raven almost immediately, but others managed to keep their eyes on it. They saw the raven alight atop one of the tallest towers under the ancient stone bridge, maybe a twenty minute walk from the sawmill.

As they saw the raven fly away the party also spied a group of guards led by a portly gentlemen in fine robes as they hustled towards the sawmill. Considering the number of dead bodies, including that of Justice Ironbriar, the party decided that this might be a bit hard to explain and they should make their leave. As they moved to the steps they heard the pounding of footsteps on their way up. With no obvious escape route, several invisibility spells were cast, an invisibility potion was drunk, and Reynard prepared a fly spell. The invisible members moved to the corners of the room, leery of making any additional movements that would disturb the thick layer of sawdust on the floor and give away their positions.

The portly gentlemen and many of the guards poured into the workshop and immediately saw that Justice Ironbriar lay dead. The gentleman began to rant about how Magnimar has lost one of its key citizens and that he would turn the city upside down to find the murderers. He told the guard captain to dispatch his men up and down the stairs and to make sure no one escaped.

Haldmeer Grobaras
The portly gentleman then stepped into Ironbriar's office and emerged with a sickly look on his face. The wall of grisly faces had no doubt had a foul effect on his breakfast. He stared at Ironbriar's corpse, and then said to the captain "It appears that there is something more to Ironbriar than we knew."

The captain held up one of the skinsaw robes and masks and said "Lord-Mayor Grobaras, we have heard stories of people in costumes such as this being responsible for the mysterious murders these past few years. Do you think Justice Ironbriar was a part of this?"

Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras was in a quandary. Initially the politician in him wanted to use the death of a colleague and rival for his own political benefit, and now he would still be able to do that, but Ironbriar was popular and smearing him, despite whatever evidence was found, would not be easy.

After taking a breath the Lord-Mayor spoke, saying "Captain, it appears the murderous villians that have plagued our city these past few years have been wiped out, along with their leader, the horrible and gruesome Ironbriar. We will have to investigate his death - likely one of their own kind was looking for a change in leadership. It is a fortunate thing that a good citizen found that dead cultist body bobbing in the water in the undermill and alerted one of your men - this might not have been discovered for a long time."

"What would you have us do Lord-Mayor?" asked the captain.

"Inspect the other floors, and then set a ring of guards around the building to keep out gawkers. I need to report this to the council." And after a pause the Lord-Mayor added "And see if someone can turn off that blasted equipment!"

With a bustle the captain barked several orders and the fourth floor was soon empty, except for the invisible party members still hiding in the corners of the room and the Lord-Mayor, who stood in the middle of the room with his hands on his hips. After a moments pause he moved to the top of the stairs and said out loud to no one in particular, "A great service has been done to my city today. Perhaps someday I will get to meet the heroes who have performed this service," and then he too was gone down the stairs.

The sawmill equipment soon screeched to a halt, and a deafening silence filled the sawmill. The party members took advantage of their last few moments of invisibility to creep down the stairs and past the guards that were now stationed around the outside of the mill.

And we will pick it up from there in two weeks - Friday, April 26th, at Scott's.

For tonight's efforts each party member earned 2750 XP, giving them (19,480 + 2750) 22,230 XP earned so far, with 23,000 XP required to reach Level 6. We will surely reach Level 6 by the end of our next session, so please have an updated character sheet ready.

Update: I neglected to include Justice Ironbriar's other possessions: A Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds (12 charges), Mithral Chain Shirt, +1 Buckler, +1 Short Sword, Masterwork Hand Crossbow with 10 poisoned bolts (drow poison), Reaper's Mask, and a set of keys.


  1. Had a great time. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard during an RPG. Good times.

  2. Same here! You and Leo took out that Elf Cleric so fast I never even got a chance to reutrn the damage he hit me with!!

    BTW,I have downloaded Hero Lab for the Ipad and I LOVE it.

  3. Glad you are enjoying it. I have been reading ahead and there are plenty of surprises yet to come.