Resting up after a long, hard day of shopping through Sharn's world-famous magic item markets to spend the vast hordes of coin they'd gotten from their last adventure, the party was given a not from their previous employer, offering them another job. Since he'd ended up paying so well last time, they decided to take him up on the offer, even though they were tired and he wanted them to come to his mansion *immediately*.
"Uuurgh, so tired," Zeffy whined, riding on Heyyou's back, since as a warforged he was tireless. "I really hope we don't have to fight our way through his mansion when we get there, like the last time... the last *three* times we were offered a job in Sharn. Oh god, it happens *every* time, doesn't it? At least we have all our weapons and stuff with us."
At that point, the party consisted of Zeffy and Heyyou, the only two surviving (or at least surviving and still adventuring) original members, along with ChitChit who they'd met in Stormreach, and a pair of newbies who were friends of Iggy who'd temporarily parted ways (due to Josh losing his character sheet) -- Alhana the crusader/cleric gish and Xeno the warforged artificer. So most of the party probably thought Zeffy was joking, and was surprised when the door of the mansion they were heading for was ajar, with a trail of blood leading further inside.
They put up some quick (one round of) combat buffs, and then headed inside. Zeffy was in the lead, somehow, but fortunately one of her mirror images caught the purple tentacle that shot out of the side room to try to devour her as soon as she peeked inside.
Alhana screamed and charged at the enemies, next, using a power that forced the enemy to focus all its attacks on her, or take penalties. Since the enemies were two giant octopi with eight acidic and poisonous tentacles each, this was a POOR TACTICAL MOVE, and should have resulted in her instant death, but the octopuses had oddly poor tactics of their own, and split their attacks anyway, the penalties and cover from the door making most of the other attacks miss. The second octopus also held back from attacking at all, until ChitChit decided to run around and climb through a window to engage it solo, far out of reach of any support from the rest of the party.
Zeffy tried summoning a giant stag beetle using a one-use-per-day amulet she'd picked up, but it got one attack off before going 'pop!' The artificer's wand of scorching rays worked a lot better, and Heyyou was immune to the poison and heavily armored besides, and thus was the only member of the party actually able to stand up and fight the things. So they got to actually kill them with wand and sword respectively, while Chitchit and Alhana essentially suicided themselves and only lived because the enemies popped like balloons just as they would otherwise have killed them.
I like Tom as a GM, but he softballs his combats so much that it makes me sick sometimes. I'm not sure if it's better than him making his horrifically overpowered monsters and NOT softballing (come on, 8 attacks per round for 20+damage each plus poison?! With a 30 foot reach, literally twice as far as the longest line of sight to them?), because while TPKs are bad, avoiding them by having the monsters give up and/or die for no reason encourages the worst behavior on both sides.
Anyway, after the paint-golems were dispatched, they searched the house for survivors, and got the story -- their ex-employer was one of the dead, and had been killed by a trapped painting that had made the monsters appear as soon as the wrapping was removed. They got a very detailed description of the delivery boy, though, and ran off to find him, since he'd had three other similarly wrapped paintings on his cart...
So they started following the trail, after reporting in to the nearest guard patrol. The captain of the patrol didn't have time to help them (he had bigger things to worry about) but was willing to deputize them as special officers to find the other paintings and the person responsible.
The trail led to a huge party, where another painting was about to be unveiled. Chitchit decide to run off on his own to try to follow the trail to the murderer himself, while the rest of the party rushed inside to try to stop the unveiling.
Butler: "Ahem. May I see your invitation?"
Zeffy: "These are our papers, we're working for the guard, on the trail of some cursed paintings. If we don't stop the unveiling everyone in the building will DIE!"
That convinced him, but unfortunately he wasn't the only barrier. Zeffy and Heyyou tried to make their way through the party crowd towards the stage, while Xeno circled around through the rest of the house, and Alhana used a scroll of fly to bypass the crowd and land right on the podium. Where she was completely unable to convince the guy not to unwrap the painting, although she did keep him busy until Zeffy -- who'd started singing to get people to stop trying to grab her and make out with her -- and Heyyou arrived, and Xeno picked the lock from the storeroom.
Together, they were able to convince him, and took the painting out of the house. Alhana flew it to the guardhouse while the rest joined up with Chitchit and filled him in with the other information they'd gotten from the party -- namely, that there was a third person connected to the two victims (well, one victim and one would-be victim) that they knew about, and that the delivery-boy had switched carriages. So Chitchit went off to find the new carriage, while they headed for the address of the third potential victim.
This time, they got their first. The new carriage the delivery-boy of death had been using belonged to a high-priced prostitute, who'd kept him busy over 'dinner'. Alhana (back from the guard house) and Xeno intercepted and searched the carriage (which was empty), while Zeffy and Heyyou confronted the perp.
H: *grabs perp*
Z: "I *suggest* you come with us to the guard house, so that we can secure this cursed painting you've got before anyone else is killed."
P: *makes his save* "What? No! I can't talk to the guards, they'd kill me... can't we work this out some other way? I don't know anything about any cursed paintings, I was just paid to deliver them."
Z: "Well, if you'd rather we could drag you there unconscious."
P: "Don't you want to know about the other paintings I delivered? There were three..."
Z: "Well, how about this. I'm going to cast a spell on you. If you don't resist it, and are as innocent as you claim, then we might let you go."
P: "What spell?"
P: "Promise you'll let me go, and I'll do it."
Z: "Fine, I promise. Now, I *suggest* you tell me everything you know about the person who hired you to deliver these paintings, and the house that you delivered the third painting to."
P spilled the beans -- he didn't know much about his employer or the targets, but he did know *where* they lived and his employer's *name*, and he wasn't in on the plot, which seemed like the key bits of information. Heyyou didn't want to let him go, but Zeffy badgered him into it. "Come on, I promised. Besides, if he left out something important, Chitchit has his scent, so we can track him down anywhere he tries to hide."
So Heyyou let him go, with Zeffy taking possession of the painting of death, and he got all of twenty feet before an invisible force picked him up and tossed him against the wall. Apparently, he hadn't been alone...
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