While Skeeve is at the Mage’s Guild, Enoch visits the Archives to show them the completed book.
Councilman Relnar looks over the completed work. Clearly disappointed he states, “Well, a deal is a deal. Here is the promised reward.” He hands Enoch 5,000g. This is quite a sum for such a job.
Enoch offers him the book. Relnar looks down like Enoch is offering him the cookbook of a cannibalistic shaman, “I don’t have any use for it. You may keep it.”
While Enoch is at the Archives, Thordek finds a blacksmith that deals in custom-crafted weapons. He negotiates for a new hammer, one with his family crest on the face. The blacksmith tries to up-sell him with a number of useless options like silver trim, gold inlay, fancy types of wood for the shaft, exotic leathers for the handle, and so on. All of these would make the weapon more ornate and less practical. The Dwarf isn’t having any of it. At length the smith realizes that this is a hammer for crunching foes, not hanging over the hearth, and so he relents. Since all of the parts of the weapon are stock, only the head needs to be custom-crafted. They agree on a price, and Thordek is told his weapon will be done by tomorrow afternoon.
While this is going on, Thu’fir goes shopping and purchases a few healing potions, and a net.
Above the square where his comrades are engaging in commerce, Skeeve is standing in the observatory, examining the black cloud to the north. He realizes something: This is one of the tallest buildings in town (aside from the windowless Citadel) and yet only an elf could spot the cloud without the aid of a telescope. Since the city isn’t awash in telescope-bearing citizens with a penchant for watching the daytime horizon, it seems safe to conclude that the group of wizards in this room are the only people in town who know of this.
Skeeve suspects the cloud is Mordan’s doing. He feels he must speak to the queen. Below, he can see the bridge to the citadel is guarded and the gates are closed. He turns to the young elf, “How would someone go about talking to the Queen?”
Several people stiffen at that. They attempt to explain the This Just Is Not Done. You don’t ask to see the Queen. Skeeve insists. Someone suggests going to the office of city affairs and petitioning an official there.
The office in question is just a few doors over. He heads over and sees what can be done. Many commoners are standing in long lines, waiting to talk to an official for various reasons. This place seems to be a point where inhabitants from all over Mar Tesoro can come and appeal to the government. Most people seem to be here so that they can have an official arbiter resolve a civil dispute. Others are here to lodge complaints of one form or another. Skeeve makes some subtle inquiries. He doesn’t want to mention Mordan, so he’s having a hard time convincing people he has some valid reason to be taken seriously, much less have his case brought before a high-ranking official.
There doesn’t seem to be any line that leads to the Queen. In desperation, he simply locates the office of the highest city official he can find, and gets in the appropriate line.
Skeeve stands there for a while. He gathers some gossip on how the city works, but can’t figure out who to see about getting a meeting with the queen. Finally he gets bored and frustrated. He walks to the front of the line and says to someone, “Can I cut in? It’s very important!”
“Not for all the gold in Khelberg. Piss off.”
Skeeve protests, “I think someone might be trying to kill the Queen!”
When Skeeve mentions killing the queen, it was sort of the equivalent of saying, “Hijack a bomb”, to airport security. People around him gasp. Guards show up. He is dragged off. He knew this and anticipated this result, but figured it was the fastest way to get his story to the right people.
What follows is several hours of being bounced around from one office to another and answering the same questions a dozen times. The clumsy stupidity of the system allowed for some hilarious conversations that would nevertheless be hopelessly dull and unfunny to the reader.
This drags on for a while, and eventually Skeeve is placed under house arrest at the inn. The party meets him at his room and he explains what’s been going on.
The officials come back, and decide they want to question the entire party. They were then dragged though the levels of city officials. In the end, the party gave an account of their work for Noreeno and how the Lich got free. They show the phylactery (the orb). One city official decides he needs to call in some of the Mages the city keeps on retainer, so the orb can be destroyed. Then the party has to spend a bunch of time explaining why this is a Really Bad Idea.
This really did drag on for quite some time. Looking back, I think the guys were pretty patient with this.
As evening falls, the Office of City Affairs closes for the evening, and the party is released. However, their travel papers are taken away and they are told not to leave the city.
Revisiting a Dead Engine
I wanted to take the file format of a late 90s shooter and read it in modern-day Unity. This is the result.
Top 64 Videogames
Lists of 'best games ever' are dumb and annoying. But like a self-loathing hipster I made one anyway.
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.
The Best of 2013
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2013.
Steam Summer Blues
This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.
5 thoughts on “Session 8, Part 3”
This story just blows me away. Shamus you clever devil!
Also one of my favorite things to do in my campaigns is to introduce beaurocrats into the mix. Adventurers are so used to getting whatever they want, (pick a lock to enter a room, kill a guard to break free) that when they face the true might of a bloated beaurocracy and its substantial ability to waste time, they squirm. It makes me smile.
The system works!
I like how he capitalizes This Just Is Not Done and Really Bad Idea. Reminds me of the TV Tropes site. A trope, for those who don’t know, is something that happens so often that they give it a name, like Mordan would be called The Big Bad (final boss) of this adventure.
Also, Nareeno is a Magnificent Bastard who is Affably Evil, and the Orb is a MacGuffin as well as Sealed Evil in A Can,
This business with Skeeve tricking his way into getting questioned reminds me of a game I played a few years back. It was a rotating DM game of Pathfinder, where every session would have one of the players take over DMing the next town on the list for finding the plot coupons. One of the players happened to be the autistic cousin of the regular DM/the guy who created the game world in the first place.
During my turn as DM, I made up a shoreside town where the local baron had banned worship of any gods other than himself (in this setting you could ascend to godhood if enough people believed that you were a deity or should be deified, so he was trying to force it through oppressive religious rule). The party agreed that the baron would be a good source of information for the piece of armor they were looking for, and the autistic guy’s plan was to stand in the middle of the local tavern, shout “The baron is not a god!”, and wait for the guards to drag him before the baron where he could offer his services.
What REALLY happened is that the city guard showed up and beat the crap out of him. Meanwhile, the rest of the party simply walked up and asked politely, at which point they were granted access and able to offer mercenary service that would give them access to the objective.
The character and player had been grating on everyone for a long time and he had a bad tendency to repeatedly do stupid stuff that he had seen in The Elder Scrolls IV, thinking that D&D worked on video game logic. After he incessantly tried to harass the city guards after being booted out of town, his character promptly got shot.
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