Delicate music and the gentle back and forth of conversation, accompanied by the clink of glasses could be heard from the other side of the large embassy ballroom doors. And that was where the adventurers needed to be this week while they continued their search for the fugitive rogue agent who had narrowly escaped them last week. They had determined that the name ‘Krell, found in papers thought destroyed when Lucan fled, referred to the Aundairian diplomat Neya ir’Krell. The masked ball being thrown tonight was therefore their best chance of either catching Lucan or at least gaining access to Neya to see if there was any connection.
Preparations had to be made, and the choices of costume made by the players were eclectic, to say the least. They ranged from gold paint and partial nudity, the use of unusual feathers and the Warforged druid wearing a warforged-themed masquerade costume. Getting hold of invites required some quick sleight of hand by Kurtis and misdirection of the guards by the rest of the group, but soon enough they had gained entrance and began to mingle.
Now, I was working from a timeline of scripted events, ready for the group to rapidly head off at a tangent, and did my best to juggle public actions with text ‘whispers’ of not-so-public actions – and I hope I did a reasonable job of keeping some sense of momentum in the scene as it played out. People got into roleplay situations with a range of enthusiasm, while others were content to prop up the bar and wait for the inevitable mayhem. The biggest problem for the group was identifying all the players in the scene. Selective conversations and some teamwork allowed the party to eventually work out who was who.
In addition to Lucan, his sister and Neya, there were a number of agents from other factions within the ballroom, and the party was able to identify most of them eventually – if not with any degree of certainty of which faction they actually were. During the dance, Lucan met with Neya and a pouch was given to him. Kurtis noticed however that Neya seemed surprised by something and immediately sent a servant to fetch someone.
In the five minutes between dances, while everyone began to mingle again, Neya suggested that Lucan remain and circulate too, which gave the players a chance to act. As Theodore the bard had not been seen by Lucan in their encounter last week, he was able to get into conversation with him, and determine that he was posing as a merchant on his way to Karrnath. Kurtis tried to pick Lucan’s pocket but failed on his first attempt, narrowly avoiding detection. A second attempt as the second dance began was successful, and Kurtis retreated into a corner to inspect the documents contained within the pouch.
A mage summoned by Neya danced with Lucan this time, and tried to cast a Charm Person spell. As Lucan was a vampire, and therefore undead, the spell failed, and he killed the mage with a single blow from the Soulsword which he had concealed in a glove of storing (think of the way the Sword of Gryffindor appears from the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter and you’ve a good idea how that works). Chaos erupted – not only was there a murder on the dancefloor, but effectively panic at the disco.
The players were suddenly caught up trying to battle Lucan while crowds of dignitaries ran for the exits. Players and NPCs alike were caught up in the crush – sometimes being pulled along with them and sometimes being repelled by them. Creatures were summoned, including a small fire elemental that fuelled the panic, but were just as ineffective. Lucan and his sister were able to escape in the chaos, while Neya, recognising the efforts of the adventurers to stop Lucan, waved the guards away to begin re-securing the premises.
And that’s where we stopped – ready to pick up the pieces next week…