Sol'sora

15. CSI Sol'Sora

Imagine, if you will, a merry band of adventurers gathered around a piece of paper, desperately trying to recall everywhere they’ve been in their lives and realizing, with a slow, mounting horror, that they cannot remember. Imagine then a gentle wind whipping around their faces, a soft whisper of voice from an all-knowing DM in Colorado, and then they all relax and say, “Wait, hold on, I totally know the geography of this place I’ve lived my whole life.

Eventually they settle on a location provided by Remi, a town called Wheatfield on the same level as Gathering. He very does not want to go back, but is a good sport about it because there’s literally no other viable option. Fen wanders off outside and is promptly knocked unconscious by a rock sliding off the roof.

Most of the civilians bolted as soon as Andraki showed up and then teleported (#relatable); of the three remaining, two are in a state of catatonia, and the other is a very hardy-looking woman named Brinna, in town to have a look at the cows of Floy. She opts not to come with us, instead going to stock up on beef jerky. (Floy Jerky: The Best In The EmpireTM!)

We head outside to look for Fen and find her, unconscious, with no signs of struggle or any clues. Betha wakes her up and asks her what happened? Was she attacked?? Did she see anything???

“They came from behind me!” Fen says, going with it. “I didn’t see anything.” Betha, however, has a nose for deceit, and quickly finds the offending rock. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief (except Fen, who’s a little disappointed).

The party teleports to Wheatfield, which is full of wheat! The wheat is alive! And there’s a tower off in the distance, which from here on out slowly begins amassing a big cloud of green badness around the top. Remi is nervous, and everyone is very concerned about Remi’s nervousness. They head towards Gathering, which is still partly aflame to the west; chunks of it are slowly falling out of the sky.

They decide to walk to a monorail stop and teleport into Gathering from there, if all seems safe, and they head out. Seru mucks about with the Star Blade, and then they come across the cart of a deceased tailor. Morthred is delighted, and once he and Kaiva have pants on, so is everyone else.

A bit beyond the tailor’s cart is a townhouse, which appears at first glance to be abandoned but is, in fact, not abandoned. There’s a bird-man creation inside, which mimics Yannic’s words and then flees when Morthred tries to make friends. Poor Morthred. He’s dressed so nicely, too!

Inside, they find the B-plot of this murder mystery episode – two (uncharred) corpses laid out on the bed. Both are women, and they appear to have been strangled elsewhere and then brought to the bed. Everyone dons sunglasses and thinks very very hard, and then gives up; Betha burns the bodies, and they move out. Roll credits.

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14. The Great Sol'Soran Geography Quiz

When we last left our heroes, they were blinking awake after Remi woke them all up (with the exception of Morthred, who I imagine could sleep through anything after several hundred years in a reverse Tell-Tale Heart situation). There are two general reactions to the situation, one exemplified by Betha (who tries to get Fen to come back inside) and the other by Seru (who waves back at Andraki, because why the hell not).

Encouraged by this show of friendship, Andraki moves to enter the administrative building. In doing so, she sets off Yannic’s alarm spell. So once again our location is being loudly broadcast to whoever’s out there looking for us. Yannic tries to talk her down, and while he does, Kaiva moves over to her sleeping backpack and wakes him up.

Morthred is DELIGHTED to see his old friend Andy, and demands that Kaiva carry him closer to her. Kaiva (reluctantly) complies, and as soon as our dear Frog Lady catches sight of him, Andraki.exe stops running for a few moments.
She recovers herself when Kaiva puts him down and he starts walking towards her on his own two feet, enough to nope out of the reunion and teleport out of the whole damn building. Morthred is upset at this cold reaction, as they were once old war buddies! They were opponents after that, but still.

Also outside the building are several vaguely humanoid-looking shapes huddled around the teleport, as Seru and Morthred discover when they settle in for their watch. Seru invokes the Cheeky Campers Code and cashes in Kaiva’s favor with Morthred for a peek in at her home temple. It’s mostly standing! And mostly safe! Not entirely, and not everyone is still alive, but at this point Seru will take it.

Dawn arrives, the sun peeks over the horizon, and KAIVA CAN STILL HEAR BOB. Faintly, in a one-word-only type of way, but still. Our grumpy dragon is not lost forever. Kaiva asks if Bob can tell her anything about the new undead. Bob’s answer? “YES.” And then the connection fails.

The humanoids around the circle have reduced in number, but Ondelin points out that we may need to go that route anyway, as there is a SECOND massive cliff to traverse. “But wait!” several of the party object. “We tried teleporting a zombie to Gathering! It died instantly!”

“Giant. Cliff,” replied the rest of the party.

It is eventually decided, after much debate and back-and-forth, that the party’s best bet is to teleport not to Gathering itself, but to a city near Gathering, in the inner-most circle of the Gathering Hollow. Where to specifically, you ask? Good question.

What follows is an impromptu geography lesson, revealing that the adventurers know VERY LITTLE about the world in which they have been adventuring, but what they do have is a sneaking suspicion that this conversation is going to be retconned in a few minutes, as the players end the game there to do some frantic mapmaking and backstory-fleshing-out.

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13. "You don't need pants at the end of the world!"

(this one got long, guys, but in fairness to me, a lot of ridiculousness happened. the title was shouted by Fen in all seriousness at one stage, which should reinforce my point.)

So as not to leave you in suspense – curtains up on the frog and Fen having a staring contest, which Fen wins when the frog blinks, waves at Fen, and hops away. Fen, naturally, follows her, and they wink over into a different roll20 game for a private chat.

While this is happening, Betha, seeing Fen wander off and presumably being used to this, goes exploring herself (taking care not to set off any alarms this time), and finds a supply room to the east and a reception area to the north, with a biiiiig ornate door in the north room. It’s locked. Fen returns, neglecting to mention her conversation partner to the rest of the party.

Seru and Kaiva (and Kaiva’s backpack) go into the jail (to the west of the main room) and immediately find seven people trapped behind a magical barrier inside a big holding cell, with an eighth unconscious on the floor. They summon the rest of the party, and Morthred drops the barrier.

The people inside are totally not criminals, nuh-uh, they’re all 100% innocent and wrongfully imprisoned and should definitely be compensated for their troubles, and also the unconscious one put the barrier up and then immediately passed out. After a brief convo, the party decides to tell them the truth, let them out, and leave what they do next up to them. After all, the world’s just ended, and all the judges are dead now.

Yannic and Seru stay behind to do the talking, while the rest of the group splits up to find the key to the holding cell. Betha takes Fen to fight the ornate door in the north room. We’ll return to them in a moment, because at this point Kaiva (with Morthred backpack) is searching through the desk in the main room. She finds some fancy pens. She takes the fancy pens.

Or rather, she tries to, because as soon as she picks them up her bracers activate, she takes a bit of fire damage, and her pants immediately catch fire. While on her body.

Luckily, Sol’soran elementary schoolers are taught the basics of fire safety, and she manages to successfully stop, drop, and roll herself into a doused state (squashing Morthred, who thinks this is the funniest thing he’s ever seen). Morthred offers to take the bracers off her arms (literally), and then off her hands (figuratively). Kaiva accepts. At the end of the whole ordeal, Kaiva is down pants and some Bracers of Social Responsibility, and Morthred is up a pair of Bracers of Social Responsibility. But Kaiva’s got fancy pens!

In the north room, Fen is losing her first ever battle against a door, but eventually manages to bust a hole in it with a chair. Kaiva (pantsless) joins her to rip the rest of the door down, at which point at least twenty fresh corpses fall out. After about twenty minutes of the worst digging ever, Betha finds the key and we release the prisoners, feed them, and heal up the unconscious man.

His name is Fenrin, a Druid elf come to help with some sort of cow plague. He’s also shady as fuck and Ondelin doesn’t trust him. After some tense back-and-forth, Fenrin is escorted to the teleportation circle and sent home to Webdel. (We assume. We aimed him at Webdel, anyway.)

On the way back, Seru makes a bird friend! Upon getting to know her new friend, she learns that the bird has human eyes. Seru nopes out of this new acquaintanceship and goes back inside. Some more time passes, wherein Yannic amuses himself by messing with Ondelin’s sightlines, Seru cuddles with the only animal friend she needs, Fen tries to make friends with the lead prisoner, and Morthred sets his own pants on fire telling Kaiva that she’s made good choices that day.

It’s time for the nightly watch! Kaiva and Yannic go first; Yannic sees Seru’s new bird friend, but the night is otherwise uneventful. Betha and Ondelin go next; Betha tries to take a lap outside, but makes it to the corner of the building before she’s herded inside by a frog.

Remi and Fen go next, and wind up having a frog encounter of their own. Fen approaches the frog and invites Andraki out on a date to kill some zombie cows. Clearly intrigued by this offer, Andraki assumes her human form, the better to kill zombie cows with. Remi (I assume wanting to avoid another player/NPC romance to rival his own) wakes the rest of the party up.

You guys! We made it to the end of the day!!!!!

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12. (I Always Feel Like) Some Froggy's Watching Me

Curtain opens on a straggling group of heroes walking down a cliff face away from a zombie horde.

Off in the distance, Floy looks the same as it ever was, just with fewer people and more corpses (people and cows). Off in the farther distance to the northwest, the town of Webdel is encased in what looks like diluted Soul Fire. Off in the farthest distance, Gathering is still burning.

They hear a pained sound that might be moaning or might be mooing, and decide to investigate, in case it’s someone in pain or trouble. Spoiler alert: It’s a zombie cow. Morthred dispatches it without blinking an eye and then strikes a deal with Kaiva for some of her life force. So that’s a thing that happened.

Our adventurers, still sagging a little after the zombie throwdown, take a short rest in an abandoned house with a corpse outside, and Ondelin goes off to a secluded room to swoon over Remi in peace. And also find out some answers about the state of the world, whatever, but mostly the Remi thing.

While this is happening, Kaiva and Fen return to their old standby of drinking heavily, and Morthred and Yannic have a nice chat. Apparently Yannic’s magic is abnormal!

Ondelin emerges from his fainting couch to report that there are people alive in Gathering! Good people? Safe people? Bad people? Who knows! But people! With this news, they all make their way to the teleportation circle, the distant echoes of mooaning zombie cows in the background.

The teleportation circle is intact! And Yannic knows how to work it! But Gathering is still on fire, and we know not what people are there. So Morthred reanimates a corpse for a test run. Like you do. The zombie makes it to Gathering intact, and then dies almost immediately upon arrival. The group decides to walk instead (about a three-week journey).

At this point, Betha ‘goes to the bathroom’ and calls Severeen (sp?), who really desperately wants Betha to a) leave with her, or b) at least get the heck away Morthred. Betha says she’ll take that under advisement and Severeen tells her that Morgaine is living as a goo monster in the Feywild.

Betha returns from her bathroom adventure and the party goes looting! All the weapons have been taken from the general store. Also, there are a ton of people watching our party from the cliff by Upper Floy. Inhuman people, with odd heads. The party decides to dig in for the night and get some rest.

They first attempt to do this in a bank! However, the introduction of certain members of the party to a secure supply of money was perhaps a mistake, and the group soon flees the bank to the screeching of an alarm. They try again, this time in Floy’s administration building/prison.

The curtain closes on our ranger, taking one final look around outside, and finally noticing the frog that’s been hopping around after everyone for several hours now.

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11. Zombies Run

We pick up with our band of misfit toys as they embark on their road trip. The heat has died down in the Tower (although it’s still very, very toasty) as they make their way downstairs, Morthred piggybacking on Kaiva, Ondelin gazing lovingly at Remi.

They make their way north towards Upper Floy, finding many, many bodies along the way, all charred in places that would have been visible to the sun even before their clothes were burned off by whatever killed them. The foliage is all dead as well, but the buildings of Upper Floy appear to be untouched. (Upper Floy is also glowing green, like a radioactive city in a comic book.)

Their first stop is Bob’s old drinking hole, which appears to be completely deserted. Looks can be deceiving, however, and after knocking on some doors upstairs, Seru hears someone shouting from behind a locked door. She fails utterly to kick it in, but luckily someone even shorter than her is there to help, and Fen utterly destroys the door with one kick. The being inside is wrapped in every blanket they could get their hands on, and starts imploring everyone to leave, to run, to get the heck out of Dodge before it hurts them. Apparently the events of Banfey ‘changed’ them, and they’re now very, very hungry. The party takes this excellent advice, and books it out of the room, and out of the tavern to the sounds of some very angry screaming.

Next stop is the teleportation circle. It’s busted to hell, but there’s still a lot of water around; enough to power the elevator, except the waterwheel has gone still. Something’s blocking it. Spoiler alert: It’s a corpse.

Remi spots some steps a ways off to get them down the cliff in the absence of an elevator, and as they start to approach, they hear moaning coming from Upper Floy. They walk faster. Off in the distance, Seru notices that Gathering is still on fire.

They make it to the top of the stairs, and who do they find but a lovely welcoming party of two undead fellows, hereafter referred to as White Shirt and Green Shirt. Green Shirt came out to attack people and is honestly having such a good time right now, but White Shirt has terrifying and conscious eyes and is here specifically to tango with Seru. It shouts that it’s all her fault that everyone’s dead and proceeds to beat the everloving shit out of her. Neither zombie react in any way to damage, right up to the end.

Morthred starts the fight on the ground, but eventually clambers back up onto Kaiva’s back and the two of them execute the Piggyback of Doom maneuver, dealing some serious damage to Green Shirt and summoning a mystical suit of armor to get in on the fun. Ondelin flits around delivering some much-needed healing to various party members (including Betha, who missed the sweet embrace of unconsciousness so much she got herself knocked out again), and eventually deals the killing blow to Green Shirt! Remi, unfortunately, was on the other side of a building at that time, and missed the whole thing.

After that, the Piggyback of Doom shift over to White Shirt and Kaiva cuts its head off in one stroke. Kansas starts playing as the corpse turns into Dust in the Wind and floats away (Betha tries to set it on fire and burns herself). Seru takes a moment to commune with her deity and express her deep feelings of what the actual fuck was that, bro – it’s apparently new, and undead.

They hear more moaning coming from Upper Floy and decide that maybe hanging around isn’t the best idea, and the curtain falls on the adventurers making their way down the cliffside.

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10. What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate
AKA THE BIRTH OF ONDEMI

The first failure of communication happens when our intrepid party realizes that they can’t see or hear anyone. After a rousing game of Musical Roll20, the party switches to Skype and carry on.

So the substance in the middle of the room, the group soon discovers, is a giant organic heart with something in it that can throw a punch. Seru’s Divine Sense says that it’s a combination of every type of energy she can access (including undead! Fun). Kaiva gets too close and gets punched in the face by whatever is in there.

They disband briefly and inspect the doors. The white one is described as soothing, being like a misty waterfall. The blue/yellow one (identified by Ondelin as celestial in origin) is extra shiny and shimmery, warm but in an unsettling way. The green and orange door is fizzling and rippling, like something is completely contained but nonetheless trying to get out.

Remi, the true MVP of the night, gives way to his nervous tic and starts playing music, which soothes the savage beast in the heart RIGHT DOWN. Ten points to the power of music.

The group keeps trying to communicate, sometimes failing epically (whatever it is does NOT like the sound of Draconic), but eventually they settle on Undercommon, whereupon the thing inside begins to express its desire to please be let out of the heart RIGHT THE HECK NOW. So Seru, Betha, and Fen start cutting it out of the heart (an extremely bloody affair. So much blood).

The first part to emerge is a very very pale foot, which Fen promptly tickles. This sets the tone for the rest of her interactions with the mysterious Heart Denizen, which turns out to be a fey(-ish) male named Morthred. He’s looking rough, skin sloughing off, coughing, no hair, and so on.

Ondelin proceeds to lose every inch of his mind and starts to attack, saying that Morthred is on a List with two other people (Nimueh and Uther) of dangerous enemies from the original Banishing Times. He is unable to give any other information about this List, however, and is summarily ignored by the group. Morthred claims that the List is of political dissidents who were imprisoned by Gorloris for speaking out against his banishing plan.

What follows is a very tense negotiating session, wherein the group decides whether to just kill Morthred right there, push him into the Feywild, leave both him and Ondelin to duke it out alone, or take a road trip with both of them. During these talks, the red-lever door gets closed to prove a point, Fen keeps talking loudly about stabbing Morthred, and Morthred attacks her out of exasperation.

Eventually, Ondelin snaps and attacks Morthred, but is persuaded by Kaiva that maybe everyone should take a breath and try talking to Morthred’s mom, Morgaine, about maybe coming up with some peaceful solutions to the whole big-picture problem, maybe? This is aided by a clutch natural 20 Persuasion check by Remi, who now has a Celestial adherent/devotee/boyfriend?

We ended with Morthred on Kaiva’s back and Ondelin trailing after Remi, on what is sure to be the road trip of our lives. Gathering ho!

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9. The Day After The Night Before

Picking up at sunset on Banfey, the group sets about stripping Bob’s house for all they can find (but not the Soul Fire). Betha finds another Mysterious HiltTM, Remi searches for spell components, and Fen finds another ring and an Ice Arrow. Yannic sets up shop and Identifies the hilts as Planar Blades; Betha found the Mist Blade, which she gives to Kaiva, and Seru has the Star Blade.

When dawn comes, Kaiva talks to Bob about previous diplomatic missions to the other planes. “Didn’t work, don’t try it,” Bob says, reporting that he tried to deal with Morgaine, the Fey Queen, and it ended poorly. The Tower is currently about 45 mins/1 hour north of Bob’s house. After locking up behind them, the group leaves Bob’s house for the Tower.

They make it without incident, but as they get closer to the Tower, all the trees start looking like they’ve been blasted to hell and back (which is interesting, because the Tower moves). The Tower itself has a massive heat haze-type thing going on at the top, and a cloaked figure lurking mysteriously outside.

The cloaked figure turns out to be a person not unknown to Seru and Kaiva, a gold-skinned Celestial named Ondelin. After determining that the huge mass of energy upstairs is a fluctuating ball of celestial and fiend, and some heroic efforts to get a look inside, the group eventually throws their hands up and opens the front door.

They push their way up through a looooot of heat (holding hands!), until they hear screaming from the top, at which point Ondelin books it and they all follow like some sort of gravity-defying traumatized Slinky. Once they reach the top, they see that all the doors are open, something new is pulsing and flailing in the middle of the room where Bob’s heart was, and everything is covered in blood.

And that’s what you missed on Sol’sora!

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8. Our Intrepid Adventurers Take The Damned Day Off

Everyone gathers upstairs, where Remi is still seizing/whatever mystical thing is happening to him (hint: it’s necromancy) is still going on. Eventually it wears off, and he wakes up, achy but otherwise intact.

Fen and Kaiva go in search of breakfast, and proceed to spend the whole day eating and drinking.

The other four go outside to burn the body of the dead angel (it smells weirdly sweet). Despite Seru rolling the first of a few natural 1s of the day, they convince a bird to go find Kean, since he seems the most likely to know what’s going on.

Eventually Kean shows up and examines Remi. Apparently there are a ton of souls hanging around him, waiting for him to absorb them, which is something Kean’s never seen happen to a mortal before. Having delivered this pronouncement, Kean once again Gets The Hell Out of Dodge, off to do things/stuff.

The group decides to spend the day safe in Kean’s ward, picking through Bob’s house and mentally recovering from the past few days. They stay fairly quiet until sunset, when a massive flash of energy lights up the sky with a huge crack.

The fey who had previously taken Betha away (a sister, of sorts, according to Betha) comes by to offer to take Betha with her, since all the barricades between the planes are either down or in the process of coming down. It should all be finished by Banfiend, she says.

Betha decides to stay with the party, who decide (minus Fen and Kaiva, still partaking of Bob’s edible stores) to try for the Tower in the morning, and to go to Floy if that doesn’t work out. Fin

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7. Those Certainly Are Some Life Choices We Keep Making

As Banfey dawns, the group prepares by ransacking Bob’s house for healing potions, arrows, and other stuff that may be useful. As dawn hits (the sky ominously green), the Bracers of Social Responsibility clamp down on Kaiva’s wrists in an even more permanent manner, and Bob starts talking to her telepathically.

Bob reveals that there was a vial of Soul Fire on the teleportation circle when he got there and it went off, along with many many others throughout the Empire. Bob is dead, as are tons and tons of other people, and Gathering is literally falling from the sky. Everyone’s top priority is now to stay alive, and to get to the Tower if at all possible (Kaiva knows where this is now, due to her Bob connection).

As this conversation is happening, Remi (in the basement with Yannic) goes into a seizure. Yannic manages to stabilize him. Kean, still outside, drops to his knees and reports a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. He goes inside to break the news to Yannic that his parents were among the dead, and then puts a magical barrier around Bob’s house (password: “I promise not to kill Yannic”). Also apparently some of the birds are his familiars.

The group eventually decides not to risk the Tower just yet, and over the horizon strolls a perky Andracki, walking straight up to the edge of the barrier and declaring her intentions of killing everyone. (Kean gets the hell out of Dodge.)

Through some quick talking from the half-Orc, Kaiva convinces Andracki that what Andracki really really wants is to see Kaiva murder Betha in front of her. Seru then convinces her that what she really wants is to see Seru battle one of her lackeys, and then further proposes a three-on-one battle (Betha, Kaiva, and Seru versus one of Andracki’s lackeys), which the frog lady accepts. Fen gets a bottle from Bob’s stores and proceeds to get sloshed with the frog lady, in lieu of popcorn.

The lackey Andracki chooses turns out to be a chaotic evil demonic angel. The three manage to kill it. Andracki offers them one question answered honestly, which Seru flubs, and offers a favor to Fen, her new favorite drinking buddy. Fen asks for an antidote for something poisonous she consumed, and one of Andracki’s lackeys heals her. Andracki leaves, her (abandoned) lackeys scatter, and Kaiva gets to keep the angel’s longsword, being the only fighter tall enough to use it.

We ended the session there, at about 9am on Banfey.

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6 - The Last Bit Before Boom-Boom Day

So last week picked up just after Betha decided to go off to a mysterious undisclosed location with an unknown (to anyone else) fey. Kaiva, having witnessed this, runs inside the tavern to inform everyone (sans Seru, who is outside with Tana) of Betha’s recent life choices.

Remi and Fen (who had been doing her best to keep up with Bob in the drinking department) investigate the scene of her disappearance, finding lots of magical traces in the area, but not much else. Kaiva goes outside to tell Seru what had happened, and Seru goes to talk to Bob. Bob, very drunk by this point, nonetheless agrees to do what he can to help after the sun goes down. Seru takes her turn as Bob’s drinking buddy, and he tells her to trust the rusty hilt she took from his home, and also that she’s glowing.

While everyone is waiting for the sun to go down and taking their turns drinking with Bob, Betha returns! She is insight-checked by various members of the party, and they determine that it is really her. She’s cagey about the fey she left with, saying only that she met them when she was 13. Also, apparently Andraki has a brother, and we should all keep an eye out for a celestial being as well.

The group discusses what their plan should be, eventually deciding that Bob should fly to Gathering to enlist the help of an actual banishing squad who will know what they’re doing. The group returns to guard his home while he’s off doing that, finding an old friend of Yannic’s, Kean, waiting outside.

They set up watches outside Bob’s house. Seru and Kean take the first watch, and she grills him on the interplanar travel he appears to have been doing and why he keeps giving Tana the side-eye. Nothing exciting happens during their watch, and they go to sleep (Seru outside, Kean in the basement).

Kaiva and Betha take the second watch, and find themselves in a reenactment of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, before the murder parts. Birds begin to hang out near Bob’s clearing, and they determine that they are watch-birds, sent from different people – some are familiars and some are regular birds, and some of them seem to be guarding the group from danger.

Fen and Remi come out for their watch, having been informed of the bird situation by the other two (who go to sleep inside). The two of them try and fail to perform some beautiful music during their watch. Remi notices that there now seem to be people in the woods as well as birds, possibly setting up some sort of trap 30 ft into the treeline, with the birds as border police.

The final watch was meant to be Yannic’s, but he rashly makes a promise that he won’t run away. This infuriates Kean, because if you make a promise or commitment on Banfey, you have to keep it. Kean locks Yannic in the basement and takes the last watch himself.

And that’s what you missed on Glee!

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