After the dangerous heist that filled up our last session, I knew where I wanted the story to lead. A big portion of that was about to be pushed, so these folks needed to get their errands done post haste. They decided what they wanted to do, and I prepped.
The specific things I prepped for this week were points of encounter all over Bral. These things had to happen during this session, and were either based around something that the characters wanted, or something I wanted to hint at the major plot with. It was all very player driven, but the improv was tight and a hell of a lot of fun. Here are the specific points I set up.
-A massive ship pulls into the docks, it is covered with trees, and flowers, and plants all over. Otherwise it looks like a large clockwork powered galleon.
-It has the four flowers logo on the side, in real bunches of flowers. This is the “Endeavor”
-The crew is approached by Mardan Rhom, Prince Andru’s spymaster. He tells the crew that he’s learned quite a bit about them, and flexes a little by naming them and sharing what he knows.
-He concedes the following, the Scro are in Realmspace for war, and mean to find the great fort Quesqueton. Prince Andru does not wish to have a battle or a war on his hands during the month of his birthday, so he wishes to have a group take care of the invasion quietly.
-The Scro are planning to use the fortress of Roghan and Zeligar as a forward base with which to do battle against Bral.
-He basically offers to give the crew the fortress if they clean it out and agree to pay taxes to Bral.
-He is not sure where Quesqeuton is, but knows adventurers like them shouldn’t have a hard time finding it.
-Gibben Vell goes off to discuss something with people. Turns out she works for Four Flowers, and was working for Lightway as a cover.
-Jason and whoever goes to the library overhears a group of young adventurers talking about various odd rumors throughout Realmspace. All sound crazy, but perhaps some make too much sense to be false?
Rumors they hear include
-Prince Andrus is actually a Mind Flayer, and his birthday is a sacrificial cult ritual
-There’s a Neogi Conspiracy in the court, and Prince Andrus is the sacrifice
-The Dwarves are building a Superweapon
-Beholder activity is down in the area.
-Leo sends off his letter, and spies the halves off in the distance talking some things over heatedly. If he follows them, he witnesses them talking to Blightbow.
-Wherever Leo goes, mention a woman in red in the most passive way possible. Do not draw attention to it.
-Hauberk runs into a man with shining eyes that look like strange copper coins.
-The man offers Hauberk a drink, and when Hauberk accepts, takes him to Sigil.
-The Copper Man discusses with Hauberk the fact that they need a new body for themselves, and Memphis’s soul back.
-He offers Hauberk an entirely new body, or Memphis his soul back. In exchange for whatever he doesn’t pick, and Vesk’s body.
-Oolu takes Amalia and whoever else wishes to go, to the Mapmakers guild inside of the Cosmological society.
-Two agents of the Lightway Company wearing white robes, with scarlet lining, approach Amalia and Oolu, threatening them about the invisible sphere.
-Amalia finds herself drawn to a map of the asteroid field surrounding Bral. It holds the secret to Quesqueton, if she draws the shape of her Patron on it. The top left of the Z would be the portal to Zefiro, while the bottom right would be Quesqueton.
My notes don’t often make a huge amount of sense, this is mainly because I snip out whatever the players don’t encounter, so that they won’t find out about things I can still pull on them.
Plus, when I don’t expect an awful lot of combat, I just familiarize myself with the plot, what the characters want, and improv my way from there. There are a lot of plot strings and threads running through my head at any given moment, and most of my foreshadowing and clues come from spur of the moment decisions and inputs, rather than planned info.
The planning of my notes is mainly what needs to happen, rather than what could happen. Y’know?
And boy did this one go well.
The session started with a simple narrative scene of the characters relaxing on the Vespa Nera. Gibben and Hauberk are underway designing Hauberk a new body, Oolu is working on a map next to a napping Amalia, Chirp is presenting a new dish idea to Leo, and Jason, Gargax, and Zilly are all trying to teach Arnold the Flail Snail how to play Siege Cross.
Suddenly, a massive ship looms through the docks. The Endeavor. It’s a massive wooden galleon covered in trees and flowers, with four masts at an angle, so the sails look like wings. It has the various sounds of steampunk clockwork, and a huge pinwheel on the back to push it forward slowly. As it pulls in, a massive horn bellows. It seems to be a ship owned by the Four Flowers trading company, rivals of Lightway and Tre Amore Shipwrights.
This brings everybody onto the top deck, save for Amalia, who is in a deep slumber, which is actually a conversation with her Patron. The Ancient Sapphire Dragon named Zefiro.
She asked him a few questions, and he responded in turn.
“Where can I find you?” “The Door to my realm is in your realm.”
“How can I find the door?” “The map has the answer, use the ring.”
“Why do you want me to kill you?” “That will be better explained by my messenger.”
She pulled from the dream then, and went on deck to watch the Endeavor pull in.
Hauberk and Jason notice as Gibben walks off the ship with a backpack, clearly going somewhere without mentioning to anybody. She gets really shifty and then just leaves. They let her go without a fuss.
After that, the crew had a talk, and while talking, somebody put a hand on the shoulder of Amalia. She turned quick, and came face to face with a short pudgy man, named Mardan Rhom. Mardan flex’s his knowledge a bit, and calls for Amalia and her “first mate” to join him in the kitchen of the ship for a bottle of wine, they had a lot to discuss.
He explains that Prince Andrus, the royalty that runs the nation-state of Bral, is having his birthday party in a month, which coincides with the bicentennial of Bral as well. So the two weeks before the big party, they will be having various exciting festivals, and a truly massive party. So naturally, he doesn’t want anything to go wrong.
Coincidentally, the Scro (which are like, alien barbarian Orcs with actual brains) are moving towards the recently abandoned fortress Quesqueton. The players had heard rumor of the fortress being vacated, but this was a direct acknowledgment by a third party, which basically confirmed the fact. Zelligar and Roghan, the fabled heroes who built Quesqueton, must be gone. So the fortress is up for grabs.
If the Scro turn Quesqueton into a forward base, they would have an easy tactical advantage on Bral, because Prince Andrus court doesn’t know where Quesqueton is.
The job is as follows, he wants the crew of the Vespa Nera to find Quesqueton, slay whatever is inside, and then keep it. All they will have to do is pay taxes, but as long as it isn’t a place Bral needs to worry about, the characters will have a headquarters.
He tells them if they accept, to simply hoist Vesk’s dragonskull flag by the end of the day.
Leo goes around and asks, and the NPCs seem fairly interested in the endeavor, agreeing.
While Leo is gone, Amalia asks if they could have Leo’s name stricken from being wanted, but Mardan explains that Bral is not controlled by the royalty, merely protected and inspired by it. Any debts, revenge, crimes, or deals are made between private citizens, and she would have to convince her father to take down the wanted posters to get Leo’s reputation back.
So that’s exactly what she decided to do.
Amalia and Oolu are heading to her Father’s estate.
Jason and Leo are heading to the Library with Hauberk and Zilly.
Gargax, Chirp, and Arnold are hanging back on the ship.
Because we did a lot of flipping between characters today, I’m going to break it up by the main player in each scene, and just follow what each character did.
Amalia and Oolu went quickly to the small Manor that Amalia learned her father stays at while he’s in Bral. The gatekeeper noticed her and let her in. It seems like quite a lot of moving around and setting up was happening, as if for a party. When she arrived in the foyer, she smashed a potted plant and he noticed her.
Silus Atwood came down looking absolutely ecstatic to everyone but Amalia, and as he got closer she could see fury in his eyes. He brought them both to a back study that seemed to seal with a sound dampening spell, and he began screaming at her, and she screamed back. The gist of it ended like so, Amalia would stay out of his way and never steal anything from him again, as long as he took down the wanted posters of Leo.
He agreed, but warned her to stay away from Prince Andru’s party, or he would kill her. He mentions that taking down the posters won’t work to save Leo anyway, as a “woman in red” was asking about him after they put up the posters. Amalia leaves in a huff, and Oolu quickly follows.
Needless to say, the family has issues. But in the end she got what she wanted.
Jason, Leo and Hauberk find out the library has the mailing service inside it, so while Jason went to research information on the elemental plane of fire, Leo got his package of money delivered to his mom. Hauberk ended up flipping through a few journals about Dwarves, Flail Snails, and Warforged.
While Jason was reading, he got lucky and found a secret code in the book, and using the code, reverse engineered a secret Scorching Ray scroll! While he was copying this down, he heard some younger guys discussing conspiracy theories about Dwarves, Beholders, Prince Andrus, and various other things. He finished up and joined them, listening intently, while they spouted nonsense at him.
Hauberk leaves the library, thinking intently about his need for a new body that would be his own. As he does, a man stops him and talks to him a bit. He seems well dressed and clever, asking if Hauberk wants a drink, explaining that even a Warforged would feel it. Hauberk agrees, and the man pulls out a ring of keys with one gleaming marble one shining among the rest. As he does this, he sings “Mi Fa So La Ti Do!” and a door nearby glimmers. He uses the key on the door, and him and Hauberk pass on to an entirely different city. This is Sigil. The man takes Hauberk to a restaurant there, which just seems to be a fairly normal Chili’s, but even a normal Chili’s is exotic to our intrepid Warforged.
The man’s eyes gleam with copper pennies as he explains what he wants. Hauberk needs a new body, and Memphis’s old body needs it’s soul back. If Hauberk agrees to give the man Vesk’s body, and Memphis’s body, he will be sure to pass their souls on to other realms. Hauberk quickly agrees without thinking it through, and finds himself back in Bral, with a brand new body! Looking more like a knight now.
After Leo moves on to the park with Zilly, he spies the Half-Orc Ilga and the Half-Elf Nilan! He follows them through the streets, eventually witnessing them handing something over to Blightbow, the Drow Pirate who killed Memphis and mortally wounded the rest of them on Doom. He rushes back to the ship, deathly afraid for what will happen next.
Amalia and Oolu catch up with Jason at a bar before heading to the Cosmological Society, a place that Oolu is popular with, and knows will have the maps they need to find both Quesqueton, and Amalia’s Patron.
When they arrive, they quickly meet up with a young man named simply Smith, who has a completely detailed map of the Bralian Asteroid field, which should include Quesqueton, and according to Amalia’s patron, the portal to his realm. They are interrupted, however, by a silly voiced jellyfish looking creature called a Flumph.
He seems to be the messenger that Zefiro sent, and will act as Amalia’s assistant. He introduces himself as Fifflefaff Wiffleball. As Amalia sends him back to the ship, she and Oolu copy down what they can of the map, and move to head back to the ship. Suddenly, while walking through the market, Amalia realizes they’re being followed by folks in white hoods, she grabs Oolu and drags her into an alley, and two white-robed figures follow, on either end of the alley.
They lower their hoods and reveal themselves as a bald woman and a tiefling with carved off horns. They threaten Amalia and Oolu to never mention the invisible sphere they went to, because “The Lightway company does not like rumors.” They disappear into gold dust, and that makes Amalia think of what her father said earlier when he threatened her. “If you don’t do as I say, I’ll make you disappear like blowing away golden dust.”
Hauberk, Leo, Amalia, Oolu, and Zilly all arrive back at the ship around the same time.
Gibben is furious and hurt about Hauberk, as Hauberk went and got a new body without her help, and “I thought wee were partners!”. She locks herself in the barracks, and Amalia is pissed as well, but mainly because now all traces of her old friend Memphis are gone, by a decision where Hauberk had no foresight.
Leo is deathly afraid of Blightbow, and tells Amalia about it, who also seems worried.
Meanwhile, Jason has gone to see Amalia’s contact, Greenback. He’s staying at the Rockrat inn on the docks, and is very drunk as usual. Jason orders some of the pills he took from before, called Hornblossom. Small pink capsules that make you very charismatic, but stupid, weak, and easily wounded. He got addicted, and now needs to keep up. Greenback promises to get him five capsules by morning.
Leo and Gargax decide to go back to the bathhouse, since they’re leaving tomorrow morning, and everyone agrees. With Amalia staying back to talk to Gibben.
Gibben explains to Amalia that she loved being on the ship, and she loves Hauberk, but she can’t stay if Hauberk is going to keep making dense decisions without thinking of others and how it would affect them.
She reveals that earlier she left to go report to her bosses at Four Flowers, and that she was on Doom when they arrived because she was working for the Lightway Company as a spy. It turns out, whoever the Lightway company want to go missing, usually end up at the invisible sphere.
Gibben packs a bag and leaves, handing Amalia a gift for Hauberk, a revolver that she created. Amalia catches up with Hauberk and they walk to the bathhouse with the rest.
Eventually everyone arrives, save for Oolu, who isn’t comfortable getting naked in front of anybody, so she takes Chirp to the Elven Forest to refresh himself with some soil and sun. The party discusses whats happening, when they are leaving, and what happens next. It’s a nice capstone to the discussion that the players had in the bathhouse the first night, and considering that this has been dubbed “The Tub of Truth” I’m certain we’ll be visiting here often.
But as Leo hears about this lady in red following him, he remembers the dream he had leaving Doom, and a shiver runs down his spine. As the characters leave one by one from the bath, Leo closes his eyes for a moment, and hears somebody slip back into the bath across from him. He answers that Zilly isn’t very sneaky, and a husky woman with a sultry tone answers him.
His eyes shoot open, and a beautiful Duergar woman with long curling black hair, and bright red lipstick sits across from him. She has ash colored skin, and a smirk on her face. She tells him all about how shes been looking for him, and he says that he saw her in his dream. She looks suprised and flattered, then explains that she’s looking for Leo to get the debt for his mother. The money goes to her, while Leo goes to his “bride-to-be”.
Suddenly, a hand grabs his shoulder, and it’s her, leaning down, dressed in a red leather trenchcoat and red hat, tilted to the side. Suddenly, another hand, and she’s on his other side too. She starts to repeat his name, and he awakes with a start, in a cold bath, with Gargax leaning over him to see if he’s okay.
He rushes back to the ship and talks to Oolu and Amalia, asking them about it, and they ask him to draw her. He finds that, despite the fact he has no art talent whatsoever, he can draw her like a photograph, and does so. They tell him to show the other crew, just as a warning, and when he does, Zilly mentions seeing a woman like that in all red at the park. His face goes pale and he asks Jason and Hauberk, who both remember seeing a woman just like that at the library in red as well. It seems she had been following him all day.
As one final point, Amalia notices that her left ring finger has grown in as a blue scale, and Leo notices that her pupils are a shining sapphire blue now. Oolu recognizes these as side effects of a Patron pact, and Amalia is horrified at the whole ordeal.
In the morning, the Vespa Nera takes off with Gibben gone, a new Flumph friend joining up, and a few new mysteries.
Who is that woman tracking down Leo?
When is Hauberk going to have to pay the price for his new body?
What will Jason do about his new addiction?
Is Amalia going to really have to kill her patron?
Maybe the asteroid fortress of Quesqueton will hold enough challenge and danger to get their minds off these troubling thoughts and questions.
What I learned
Today’s session was easily the most fun I had running this Spelljammer game. The NPC and PC character interactions were on point, and the PCs have really slipped into a comradery that fits beautifully.
I learned a very important thing this session. When I want the players to be afraid, they’re spooked good. Between the Lightway company threats, this Copper Man being so powerful, Blightbow, Amalia’s father, and the Lady in Red, we’ve got a lot of boogiemen who are ready to present incredible challenge and threats to the entire party.
Seems like something big might be coming, and if any of those rumors that Jason heard are true, shit’s gonna hit the fan entirely too fast to get out of this unscathed.
But hey, this dungeon should be a nice break from the thrills, right? 😉
Spelljammer Summaries is a simple Campaign Diary article series about my time running a 5e Spelljammer game. It is filled with many details and lore about Spelljammer, with a good portion of my own homebrew details.
If you have any more questions about how to run your own Spelljammer game, Contact me! I’ll be happy to share any personal resources I use.
Here are a few resources from across the web that got me started!