Iron Gods: Fires of Creation

Episode 1: Hired

9 Rova 4714 AR
A little over a week ago, Durand Sorrenco arrived in Torch. He hoped to be given permission to investigate the town's namesake, for he suspected it was in fact some form of technological artifact. Over the course of the next few days, he sought the aid of others, and found it first in a pair of Kellids that, strangely, sought him out instead. He further was approached by Valki, a sullen but intense woman.

While he was searching for companions, the fires atop Black Hill guttered out; an entrance to some caverns below was discovered, effectively confirming Durand's suspicions. A few other groups, including two headed by councilor Khonnir Baine, were able to begin delving beneath the town, but since Khonnir's second expedition none have returned. The town council grows worried at Khonnir's absence, and has decided to send another party into the caves. Durand and his companions volunteered.

Barek: Barek has spent a lot of time over the last week in Torch's drinking halls, and he's heard that Garmen Ulreth's Ropefist Gang may have something to do with the town's troubles.

Durand: The rumor that brought Durand to Torch in the first place was also reiterated to him a few times upon arrival - there must be some sort of technological ruin beneath Black Hill.

Selka: Selka was walking the streets of Torch one night recently, surveying the stars, when she found herself near the local temple of Brigh. She overheard the some acolytes worriedly talking about a pair of dwarves that had arrived at the temple only moments earlier - evidently, on a drunken dare they'd scaled Black Hill and drank some of the strange sludge pooling up there. One grew incredibly strong for a short while, but the other was wracked with terrible pains and had been brought to the Temple for care.

Valki: Androids, while most common in Numeria, still aren't a terribly common sight. A few days before the fire on Black Hill went out, Valki saw a purple-haired android trying to remain hidden; Valki didn't approach her out of sympathy but has not seen her since.

The party has been summoned to meet with the town's council, but only Dolga Freddert, an elderly but active dwarven smith who has been in town as long as anyone can remember, is present. The meeting is held in a small but reasonably well-appointed office in the town's Hall.

Dolga: "I'm glad you're available," she rubs a temple gingerly, "frankly, I was afraid we'd run dry of adventurers. I'm sure you've heard some of the rumors. Several groups, almost all missing below the town… As I'm sure you're aware, the flame went out eight days ago; a day later, Khonnir led a group into some tunnels he'd discovered, and that was the only group that's returned. He made a second trip just a few days ago, but he hasn't returned. The rest of us councilors are starting to get worried."

Durand: "Yes, of course. You say that Khonnir found a cave entrance? Where is that?"

Dolga: "There's an underwater passage beside Weeping Pond. Khonnir found a large number of footprints leading into the pond, but not out, and he investigated."

Valki: "The Technic League?" Valki asks venomously.

Dolga: "I don't think so. Too obvious; besides, the League likes having us here to leech off of. They need this cow for the milk, so to speak. Khonnir was hoping to find some answers farther inside the tunnel system, but who knows what he's found down there… let alone if he's still alive."

Durand: "What did the other groups find?"

Dolga: "Only one group returned - Khonnir's first. They found enormous vermin and some scavengers, such as gremlins, as well as some strange humanoids that could blend in with their surroundings. Khonnir said they all point to some connection to the Darklands, but of more immediate interest were a pair of doors made of Glaucite. That's where he found a broken automaton, and brought it back to the Foundry. Speaking of which," Dolga reaches into the desk and produces a small collection of douments, "These are for you. They're writs you can present to any of the merchants in town. They'll get you a 20% discount on purchases to outfit yourselves. I wish I could offer more. Further, Val - Khonnir's adopted daughter - has closed the Foundry, but is offering its use to any group going into the caves, free of charge. The cave's entrance is flooded - speak with Joram Kyte at the temple of Brigh or the Crowfeather Palace, and he'll cast a spell on you to allow you to breath underwater. Finally, I'm sure you're wondering about a reward. If you return with Khonnir, I'll pay you 1000 crowns each. If he's returned alive, we'll also gift you a relic of Brigh Joram donated to provide his return to us - a scroll that can restore even the dead to life."

Treasure: 4 Writs of Discount

What will the PCs do?
Roll: 2, 3

Roll Action
1 Go to The Foundry
2 Go to Black Hill
3 Investigate Garmen Ulreth
4 Find Joram Kyte

Durand wants to investigate Black Hill, especially after hearing Selka's stories about the dwarves. Barek wishes to learn more about what Garmen has been up to.

Will the party go to Black Hill instead of investigating Garmen Ulreth? (Very Likely)
Roll: 4-10, Yes

The rest of the party, however, dismisses Garmen as a dead end, or in Valki's case she isn't sure that confronting someone so likely to be involved in the towns' crime is an intelligent move. The party heads to Black hill. From there, they will go to the Foundry.

After a trek of a little under an hour, the party arrives at the summit of Black Hill. After the flame went out, the mobile smiths abandoned their places atop the hill; where the flame once burned, now there is only a small sinkhole. The sinkhole has a small pool of black, irridescent sludge - that must have been what the dwarves drank.

Durand decides to collect a few samples of the sludge while Valki attempts a more thorough search of the summit; however, other than what she thinks are some tracks down to the pool that might have been the dwarves, there's nothing at the summit. The party heads to the Foundry; Valki leads the way, given that she knows the town best.

Treasure: 2 Vials Numerian Fluid

As the PCs approach the Foundry, they hear a scream from a small building to the back. The PCs rush up to the building, Barek in front, and they burst into the room. Screams and crashing noises come from a room to their South.

Round 1

Durand moves into the main room, drawing his Musket and pointing it toward the door that appears to lead into the room the sounds are coming from.

Valki Moves in also, moving to the back corner of the room. She commands her nanites to form a glowing shaft of blue light in her hand. (used a swift action to reform her loyal paladin's spear of light)

As the door opens, Selka gasps; she has a vision of a young woman cowering beneath a table. Once her fugue passes, she invokes the aid of her ancestors, casting bless.

Barek rushes to the door, drawing his sword as he moves, and reaches to open it; a robot bursts through at the last moment!

The robot has three legs and humanlike arms, with a head dominated by a large lens. It appears damaged, with many of its metallic armor panels missing and wiring exposed. The robot seems to be focused on looking for something; it holds several pieces of wood obviously torn from fixtures in the room behind it.

The robot attempts to push Barek out of the way, into another room, so it can continue its apparent search. It makes a Bull Rush;

Attack of Opportunity: 12 vs 12. hit
Damage: 12

Barek brings his sword up to defend against the robot's jerky charge and just barely manages to get his blade between himself and the robot. The blade cuts through robot's metallic hands and lodges in its lensed face. The robot locks up as its head sparks and sizzles, before it collapses in the doorway. Everything is quiet for a few moments, then the PCs hear something from deeper in the room; Val climbs from under a table and looks, a little unsure, at Barek. After a moment, she timidly says "Th… thank you."

Selka comes up to her brother, still standing over the remains of the robot, and quietly pushes him into the main room. She gestures for Val to follow; "Come. We must speak."

Durand, after carefully stowing his musket, offers her his hand for a shake. "'Lo, miss. We've agreed to explore the caverns Khonnir found, and were told we could make use of the tavern. By the look of it," Durand gestures to the robot, "we got here just in time."

Val's face lights up at the mention of her adoptive father. "You're going to search for him! Oh, thank you! Follow me, I'll show you the tavern!"

Val apologizes that she can only offer the PCs bedrolls, but she does say she'll provide them with meals. Barek reaches behind the counter for some spirits, but Val gently asks him not to; the tavern will need the stock when it reopens. Barek frowns and crosses his arms, though Selka notices he's lightly blushing.

Treasure: 1 key to the Foundry.

I'm still waffling on how I want to present the text; do I spend the time trying to write this as proper prose, or is the more functional but less engaging "tell don't show" method I used in the post-fight bit enough? I'm just gonna have to settle into it I suppose.

I had to think on my feet to figure out how to answer a nonbinary question with a limited set of possible answers; I think my solution of "randomly select two options to serve as the Y and N" is serviceable, but if anyone has a better idea I'm certainly game to hear it.