On the Archcanon's Secret Service

Campaign Kickoff: In Medias Res

It is the final day of the Festa d’Estinto, and the city of Belluna revels in its drunken, slatternly glory while her citizens nurse fumy heads and aching loins. The past two days have been a blur, the wine flowing freely as the fair filled the streets and canals. Summer weddings, wild bacchanals, good-natured brawls, and too much food have ruled the day.

In a flash, the goodwill of the festivo evaporates. A troop of hobgoblin condottieri, unaccustomed to Belluna’s indulgent ways, takes offense at a grandee’s remark, and the toughs draw their steel. The proud constables convene to disarm the mercenaries. Somewhere behind them both, a shadow stirs.

And amid the outburst, a third faction finds itself caught in the crossfire. Unknown to the mercenaries and the constables, the Siculorum is present — the troubleshooters and relic-hunters of the Holy See. The mailed fist of the Archcanon, the Siculorum pursues a secret agenda, and these foolish hobgoblins and reckless guards have interrupted the covert affairs of the Mother Church.

You are an agent of the Siculorum. Your job is to act as a secret agent for the Church, protecting its interests, increasing its holdings, and keeping hidden your role as an operative. Whether delving the depths of a dungeon in search of a saint’s relic, smuggling holy scriptures out of a pagan city, or silencing a dangerous heresy, you heed the call of the Holy See. You’re a member of the Archcanon’s secret service.

Tomb-Raiding Interrupted

The agents of the Siculorum gathered inconspicuously amid the throngs of festival-goers at the Festa d’Estinto. The Church had charged them with a secret and sacred duty: the recovery of the relic of St. Lazarus from the ruins of Garngad on Montebianco — the White Mountain itself. Each of the agents of this new fellowship had knowledge of one or more of the others, but this would prove the first time they had all pursued a common goal.

  • Lawstin, a true cleric of the Church and brother of the Priory of Trefoglie, whose experience was mostly academic, yet who was elected leader of the band
  • Lupo Vossi, protector to Lawstin and a monk belonging to one of the Church’s hidden orders, no stranger to performing questionable acts for the greater good
  • Nantucket Brown, a smooth-tongued relic-hunter for the Church, of the same bookish calling as Lawstin but more experienced in “requisitions”
  • Gilley “Inky” Turball, a stranger to the kingdoms of Montebiaco, having traveled from far Caledon in pursuit of the Church’s distant interests

The group had gathered in the cortile to enjoy the conclusion of the festa and to plan their journey to Garngad, when they were interrupted by the inclement tension of the city.

A group of hobgoblin condottieri, obviously outlanders, exchanged barbs with a patrol of the city guardia, and the adventurers found themselves caught in the middle. On one side, separated by a canal, the hobgoblins drew their bows. To keep order, the guardia aimed their crossbows. The citizens panicked and fled, and in the tumult, the adventurers rushed to aid the guardia

…only to find Nantucket threatened with arrest for recklessly firing his own weapon inside the city limits. Nantucket talked his way out of arrest as the situation devolved, while Lawstin strode fearlessly amid the hobgoblins, Lupo by his side. As they crossed the canal on the ponte, a third threat revealed itself: a pair of water-skulking ghouls far outside their usual territory of the Slink neighborhood. Now caught amid the guards, the mercenaries, and the monsters, the party wasted no time in destroying the undead threat while the guardia and hobgoblins fought each other. Inky crushed one ghoul with his heirloom warhammer while Lawstin and Lupo faced down the other with divine might and razor-edged icons of the saints. From afar, Nantucket picked off belligerent hobgoblins and the guards tended to their wounded.

In the aftermath, the guardia arrested the surviving hobgoblins and “overlooked” the indiscretions of the party, thanks to some diplomacy on Nantucket’s part and some timely healing delivered by Lawstin. The guards confiscated the condottieri’s war-chest, but Inky found something else of greater import.

The hobgoblin mercenaries wore the livery of Jubal, the emissary to the pashas of the eastern empire, and hidden among the belongings of the fallen hobgoblin sergeant was a letter indicating that Jubal seeks to hire 10 or more additional hobgoblin warbands, to an unknown purpose. Inky later delivered the letter to Salvatore Orsini, their immediate Church contact in Belluna, who rewarded the party for their vigilance and thoroughness. While Jubal’s treachery seems more political than ecclesiastical — he’s forbidden to leave Belluna while under suspicion of intrigues against the Mountain Kingdoms — the information surely gives the Church additional power in its knowledge.
In the waning hours of the day, the adventurers discussed their options:

  • Undertake the journey to Garngad, their original charge, to recover the relic of St. Lazarus
  • Pursue the schemes of Jubal, hoping to discover the motive behind his growing army
  • Investigate the presence of the ghouls, which seems to indicate some greater blasphemy in the catacombs beneath the canals

As the session concluded, the group seemed most interested in the Tursi ruins where Lazarus’ relic lay, so the next session will begin in pursuit of that goal.

Departing Garngad

Upon departing Garngad we met up with Salvatore Orcini. Salvatore acts as the go-between between us and the Siculorum.

Salvatore offers a set of complex passwords to be used to delve further into Garngad.
Lawston’s initial research for the repository of these passwords leads us to an annex in Govana. Govana is in the marcher states in the Eastern Empire.

As we made our way to Govana, we heard some roaring/screaming off the road and went to check it out.

The party came upon a gaggle of hobgoblins, a troll, a lethal archer, and a crab-armed halfling leading them. After some crowd control

issues were sorted, the hobgoblins begain to drop or flee. The archer and halfling were dispatched before the troll was torched by bomb

after bomb.

The party recovered a chest containing 20k gold pieces and is now figuring out what to do with it.

Nuncio's Betrayal

The group agrees the 20k gold is likely to be payroll for some mass of soldiers planning invasion of the area from the Eastern Empires. The party has formulated a message to be sent back to the church pending the identification of a trustworthy messenger.

We arrive at the Abbey of the Gilded stacks, the library our destination. Abbot Nuncio Bartolo welcomes us. Nuncio informs us the Eastern Empires have been forcibly availing themselves of items in the Abbey. He has undergone the research and construction of a golem to defend the Abbey. As we agree to find him research materials in Garngad we are approached by 2 individuals.

Makrat and Helzen reveal themselves to the group as representatives of Dhalassium. They divulge access to a mole in the church and a fair bit of information about our group and objectives. Makrat possesses one of the keys necessary to progress further in Garngad. In exchange for the first key and destination of the second, he asks us to procure some relics from Garngad. One such relic is the corpse of an ethnarc of his sect.

We procure the key from Makrat after a midnight rendezvous with some pale types. The Key of Shadows is held by Claviger Obscuris at the Temple Fabrizia Eremitani. We are making our way there now.

Return to Garngad

Venturing beyond the dual-key gate we encountered a skeleton-lined hallway terminating in a portcullis. Pushed through the 3 doors to exterminate the remaining skeletons and ghosts.

A Medusa escaped, or was released, from her captivation. Before we were able to subdue her, Lawstin got stoned.

Beholder kin in my facial plane

The party split to find a cure for Lawstin’s petrification in Piedmontano and to stay back to defend the Cleric-statue. After procurement and administration we delved deeper into Garngad.

Nantucket had discovered a passage behind a ruined statue (not Lawstin) that led us into a forked hallway. Immediately we were beset on by floating heads that attempted to invade our minds as well as goat figures wielding halbreds. We forced them back until defeat or flight.

In the midst of our encounter we traversed a familiar face in Demetrio. Although familiar he seemed a strange version of himself, unable to communicate with us and void of humanity. We investigated the laboratory to find some life substance-harvesting matchines and incubation containers presumed to generate life somehow.

Through some rudimentary cave drawing we were able to get Demetrio to take us to a desk we previously rifled through and had found a map with the 7 bell-toting cathedrals. The large bell in the laboratory area had been rung and a mark was placed on the map for a newly rung bell in Belluna. We surmised that the bells in the surrounding country were ringing bells in Garngad and being marked on the map.

We quickly rushed to the nearest cathedral in Piedmontano to test our theory where we ran in to some werewolves. They were quickly dispatched but not before one of them infected Nantucket with Syphilis*.

*Probably also Lycanthropy

The bells toll for thee

The party received 2 items at the onset. The Concordant fork, a tuning fork used to disenchant the chimes that were meant to shatter the cathedral bells. Alsa a spear, not unlike Vincenzio’s. The Spear of Vitrification. (DC 18 fort TURN TO GLASS in 3 rounds)

Upon arrival, Ecaterina ushers us into the cathedral to investigate the bell. We encounter Makrat, a familiar face. We explain we have not yet discovered the corpse of the ehtnarc. Makrat reveals some developments in his research that connect with our own experience with Demetrio and Delfina with the Ethnarc. The Eastern Empire Ethnarc appears to have impersonated Demetrio at some time. We have likely encountered the real and impostor Demetrio in our recent travels.

The recent Tolling Bell cult activity appears to be a resurgence of a sect long since ousted by the Easter Empires. The party and Makrat align to protect the bells and formulate a plan for communication through Belluna (pigeons and the Eastern Emissary in Belluna).

Ecaterina informs us of a recent transfer of Teobaldo Moscano, the abbot at Sona Roso, to Piedmontano. This raises some concern with the party and we go to question him. We reveal enough to concern him about the bell protection and he locks us in the cathedral to be ambushed. We dispatch his agents and come upon Khepra, an other-planar creature in Eastern Empire vestments. Khepra recognizes the spears, mask, and monocle as having originated in his plane.

After defeating Khepra and his summoned minions we search the area to find another duplication machine and materials that suggest that Khepra was attempting to educate our plane about the construction of these weapons. Khepra was on a mission to recover these items that were attributed to St. Lazarus. Lazarus, we found, was also purported to be from Khepra’s plane. More questions than we have answers.

End Chapter 1

Bad Actor

The group hears word of a play being produced that may have ties to the Tolling Bells cult. Impersonating an acting troupe, they audition for parts in the play for Nallo Eccheveria, the producer.

The audition hints at a ceremonial sacrifice to be performed during the play itself targeting the chorus player, Mawstin (Lawstin). The troupe tentatively passes the audition and is invited to a dinner with the production’s patrons: Lisbeta Maldonato and Carmine Tuono.

Carmine comes off as adversarial while Lisbeta seems to prompt the group with pass phrases they were not prepared for. The troupe is invited to the “library” after dinner to do a reading of the script. Passing through a fine wine collection, the group is led to a cellar boasting no books. Nallo passes us the scripts that contain an unreadable set of characters. The group falters and Carmine presses to kill us. The heroes are convinced to leave the cellar while Carmine stabs Nallo in the neck.

Carmine leads the group to the dock to be ambushed by Lisbeta and Carmine himself. Carmine is put out of commission after bolting most of the group with lightning. Lisbeta reveals herself as a Blood Hag, able to change form and blast the group with large burst attacks. Inky and Lupo pound on Lisbeta until she succombs to a final bomb.

The group has maintained possession of the scripts and double backed to recover other valuables.

GMs Notes

The party scavenged an initial haul of rare wines worth 1293 gp.

Braving arrest and disgrace, the party returned to the scene of the crime, claiming a second plunder of valuable wines and netting a further 1637 gp.

As well, clever searching revealed that one of the enormous casks in the wine cellar beneath the Maldonado home was in fact false, and protected a trove of items presumably collected by the blood hag wearing Lisbeta Maldonado’s skin. The trove included the following:

Oil of Light
Oil of Mage Armor
2 x Potion of Cure Light Wounds
Potion of Feather Step
Potion of Jump
Potion of Resist Acid (3rd)
Scroll of Charm Person
Scroll of Read Magic
Scroll of Rope Trick
Scroll of Sleep
Wand of Corrosive Touch (2d4; 18 charges remaining)

Session XP award: 1440 each, +150 each for retrieving the scripts of the heretical play, A Visit from the Blue Regent.

Easiest hit ever

Summoned by Salvatore Orcini, the group reports to a trattoria for a sit-down. Salvatore informs us that our services were requested by Roberto Stellaluce of the Ravicionare, the finance arm of the Church (or most probably the assassins).

Roberto asks us to prevent Gavrilo Terkan from acquiring a non-descript telescope by any means necessary. The group accepts the task and heads down to the basement of the Maldonato estate where Gavrilo is understood to be present. Nantucket Brown helps us bypass the security on the primary level to explore the lower level.

We weather some major early setbacks against zombies and mummies. We do finally prevail only to find Gavrilo lying dead; a victim of the mummies.

Roberto indicates this could be signs of a potential conflict within the cult of the Tolling Bells. Future missions granted by Roberto Stellaluce may help us uncover that.

In Which We Get Our Asses Handed To Us
Witch Problems Pt. 1

Salvatore Orcini informs us a missing relic stolen by the Red Knives. A mythical woman archcanon is said to have had a stillborn daughter that has been preserved and revered by the church.

The Red Knives are led by Ovideo Spina and have a well known and well-guarded hangout. The crew makes short work of the guards and beats Ovideo within an inch of his life. Ovideo informs us, under duress, that the relic has been sold to Vanozza, the witch, through a man described to resemble Roberto Stellaluce.

The crew rushes out to Vanozza’s hideout and secure the relic. We encounter some grub-like creatures before running into a giant serpent that beats us up and down the field. We are then set upon by satyrs and Vanozza. At a point where the fight seemed like we could survive, we are blasted by a Cloud Kill spell leaving most of the group slain or on death’s door.

What happens next? Find out in Witch Problems Pt. 2, The Conclusion.


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