Dark Ages: Mage - The Hex Files

Adventure 12
The Eye of the Crow
  • Haze clears from the eyes of 3 people in a darkened room, headaches gripping their temples. The players wake up to find themselves not playing their normal characters, but 3 others instead:
  • Father Colm, a 40-something English preacher. Conducts services within St. Margaret’s Chapel within Glastonbury.
  • Rufá, a 68-year-old grandfather, living with his daughter’s family in Glastonbury.
  • Gwennid, a young shepherd woman, from the pastures to the southeast of town.
  • Confused as to why they are in a darkened room, and not remembering how they arrived there, the group probes around, eventually exiting into the town of Beckery, to the southwest of the community of Glastonbury.
  • Upon exiting, they notice a note instructing them to go save Rufá’s grandson Davin, a boy known to all of them, delivering him to safety past the east side of Glastonbury, past the cathedral on the Tor.

Something is…Off:

  • Immediately upon exiting into the town, the group notices that something feels very off with everything. The air hanging heavy with a tenseness, and every person there has a distinct feeling of danger and otherness to them.
  • Father Colm directs the group towards his parish at Glastonbury, hoping to get some answers. An acolyte speaks to him in shock and relief, noting that he was surprised that he recovered from the terrible fevers he was taken with, and that he was told that Colm had died. Colm himself calls this rubbish, but they note that others of the clergy are keeping a wide bearing from them.
  • Unable to shake their dark feelings, and wanting to know what this ‘you were dead’ rubbish is all about, the group heads east to the cathedral at Glastonbury Tor for answers.

To the Tor:

  • The path up towards the cathedral at the Tor would require a long jaunt to the northeast, then south, but Gwennid chimes in that she knows a shortcut – one that goes up the south side. They follow her.
  • Upon their arrival, though, they find only an extremely steep cliff face. Gwennid, confused, apologizes, not knowing why she thought this way was faster.
  • Rather than spend more time walking, the group attempts the climb up. It is difficult for the two older men in the group, but they eventually make their way to the top. Black eyes stare at them from the crows perching on the trees near the cliff face.

To be continued….

Adventure 11
The Angel with Griffon Wings

To Parley with Pirates

  • The French pirates sail the cabal back to their home base, a small natural port near the city of Caen in Normandy. They dock and promise to stick around for a short while, and to not quite pirate as much in the meantime.
  • At the pirate base, the cabal befriends the pirate’s disrespected quartermaster, a shaky fellow named Nervous Peter.
  • Peter isn’t real big on sailing since the last several close calls, but IS big on dousing his anxiety with alcohol, so the cabal procures some bottles of wine to try and loosen information out of him.
  • Peter spills that the French pirates as of late have been commissioned by a local patron to try and loot passing English ships. The men can keep any of the lesser goods that they find, but craftwork of precious metals, religious icons, delicately woven clothes, and the like, must be surrendered to their patron.
  • What happens if they would rather not? Well, that’s bad luck to ask. Freak accidents will get a ship sunk, going against the patron. That’s just bad luck….

The Ox-Pulled Cart

  • With the knowledge that the patron is likely to be holed up in the nearby motte-and-bailey castle, the cabal asks to replace the crew responsible for the next delivery to the patron. Vincenzo turns himself into an ox for cart-pulling, and the cabal heads out.
  • With a newly magick’ed bow enhanced by the down of the roc that they helped, Shamus finds nearby hill to provide long-distance ranged support.
  • Kehr hides himself in one of the delivery barrels. Malik and the cart, driven by ox-Vincenzo, arrive at the castle.
  • Inside the courtyard of the castle are a mixture of men. Half appear to be local villagers, put upon and scared. They haul around the goods from the pirates, not happy to be there, but certainly not about to leave. The remaining men are stern, cloaked in almost-religious garb.
  • Ox-Vincenzo quietly summons lightning to hit his cart, intending to make a diversion. Several of the men scatter. Malik teleports into where he detects something fishy is, in the stone fortification built on the raised ‘motte’.

The Angel Denied Heaven
*Malik discovers a darkly-handsome man within the fortress, surrounded by broken and misused relics. Foot-deep water surrounds and dances in the room around him, as he tries to remove magic from the various icons and trinkets. Malik’s arrival interrupts him, and Malik, tauntingly, gives a snide quip and teleports away.

  • The tower’s middle floor explodes outward with a boom, sending a cascade of water outward, settling into a swirling pattern. The man steps forward, sprouting giant eagle wings, as two charmed griffons leave their perches at the top of the tower. The cabal has successfully located the demon Focalor, and he is pissed.
  • All hell breaks loose. Focalor, seemingly spurred by the sight of Malik, shouts “Doth thou hound me, Al-Miraj!?!?” Kehr chooses now to go into murdertime, leaving cultists in piles of their own carnage. Ox-Vincenzo brings down more lightning and angry ox horns.
  • The cabal manages to avoid the direct fury of Focalor but fare much worse against the griffons. Vincenzo, upgrading himself to Winged-Ox-Vincenzo, just barely manages to convey Kehr up to one of the griffons before taking a massive blow himself. Stumbling out of the air, he flees, hiding and healing his profuse wounds.

The Riders from Afar

  • At the sight of lightning in a cloudless sky and loud ground-based thunder, Shamus spots a pair of riders from the nearby town. They rush straight towards the fortress, kicking up dust that belies their unnatural speed.
  • Deeply concerned about his friends being pinched between Focalor and the mystery riders, Shamus snipes off the bardings of the horses. He manages to significantly slow their approach to the castle.
  • Meanwhile, Kehr shreds the wing off of one of the griffons, riding it down to its death. Focalor continues to fight.
  • As the riders arrive, all cultists are dead or fleeing, but one griffon is still raging with Focalor.
  • Holding out his hand, the armored rider seems to mesmerize the remaining griffon, allowing Kehr to focus on and slay Focalor. Like the others, he dissipates upon death, leaving behind a gold-inlaid ritual page.

An Ally?

  • The fight over, the cabal and the pair of riders approach each other cautiously. Thanks are given, but trust does not come easily.
  • Malik, using his talents at smoothing relationships and magically reading the room, speaks with the Hospitalers.
  • The pair are Evan Sayer, an English Hospitaler knight, and Lela the Devout, a Maltese Hospitaler nun. Evan is at first guarded and distrustful, but Lela seems more willing to be open with the cabal.
  • The pair had traced news of the possible demon presence to the area, but only received full confirmation at the lightning and explosions. They used their Obviously Magic talents to rush there.
  • Focalor, a fallen angel, had been pulling magic out of religious artifacts in a bid to try and return to heaven, but (per angelic lore) was unaware that this was impossible. Alas for him.
  • Evan seems initially extremely distrustful of Malik, but Malik’s empathy spells lets him detect strains of guilt during the conversation. By the end, he begrudgingly thanks him for the tea, telling him it reminds him of someone he used to know.

To England!

  • Evan and Lela shared that they have been trying to track down the same demons that the cabal has, but that they were focusing on the more destructive ones first. While they focused on getting more research on the Continent, they shared that they knew of another demon in cahoots with Focalor on the British Isles. This ally tipped Focalor’s crew off to heavily-loaded ships full of artifacts and men, in exchange for yet unknown reasons.
  • Telling the cabal to head for their contact in the cathedral at London, the Hospitaler pair wished them well.
  • The cabal, now with 4 demon notches on their belt, heads off to English via chartered pirate ship towards their next challenge….
Adventure 10
The Tunnel and the Slave Ship
  • The cabal, tired from their adventures in Persia, takes a short breather to recover at their sanctum in the Cretan Maze. But given the urgency of the demon situation, they are only willing to shed several days. Spells are refreshed, and quintessence is drawn from the node.
  • Research and ritual occur. Demon 4, Hahael’s dark correspondent, is pinpointed to the far west. But one of the many twisting pathways within the maze presents a more direct pathway there….

Into The Depths

  • The familiar sense of twisting space assaults the cabal while walking the tunnel, leaving them in a passageway mostly filled with water. Air pockets are conjured to try and ensure that everyone can still breathe on their way through. Vincenzo turns himself into a fish, just to make things that much easier. Shamus wanders off, as that’s just a thing he does.
  • Making their way all the way through, the cabal emerges, finding themselves in the English Channel. Several hundred feet below its surface.
  • Concerned about the ‘not being able to breathe’ thing, Cernunnos grabs fish-Vincenzo and bums a ride to the surface. Malik, wanting very much to not be drowning, instead teleports himself straight up, mid-air. With a splash, he reenters the surface of the water, at least able to breathe this time.

Pirate Attack!

  • With luck, the cabal has surfaced near some ships!
  • Unfortunately, those ships are engaged in naval combat.
  • The cabal deduces that the French ship is attacking the English one. Ballistas are trained upon the ailing English ship, with flaming arrows and ballistas sending a deadly hail.
  • Cernunnos and Vincenzo head up to the deck of the French ship from the water, intent on bringing the fight to them. Malik teleports around, helping where he can.
  • Kehr, his understanding of the spirits having deepened, cloaks himself in misdirection, disappearing from few. The pirates below deck on the French ship fall into disarray as an invisible blade cuts them down.
  • Shamus, meanwhile, finds himself in that same boat hold, chained and prisoner like the rest of the captives. Huh, that’s weird. How did he get there?
  • Not looking a gift roguishness in the mouth, Shamus uses his tools to start freeing himself and the other captives. The tide begins to turn again the French pirates….

To Normandy!

  • The remaining pirates surrender, having Not Been Paid Enough to Deal with This. Vincenzo and Malik parley with them.
  • The English ship flees safely, limping back west to their port. No men or goods were stolen from this one.
  • The captives explain that they were native English and Irish, taken from their ships by the French ship. They noted that the men and valuable goods were taken from their holds, although they tended to favor things that were more obviously made of precious metals and fancy handiwork.
  • The cabal instructs the pirates to turn back and return to their home port. They have business with their master….
Adventure 9
The Poet and the Roc
  • Now stuck in Persia, the party consults one of Malik’s map and discovers that they do not want to attempt to travel back to Crete the ‘normal’ way.
  • Malik attempts to find a friendly Ahl-i-Batin in the area to trade favors with. Since Malik’s mentor is a bit of a jerk, the ones inside Paradise Garden are lukewarm to this idea. Instead, the party converses with a poet outside the sanctum.
  • They talk with Saadi Shirazi, a travelling poet, who asks them to help the nearby town of Darud with some livestock problems. In return, he will help them find their way back to Crete.

To Darud

  • The party heads on a 2 1/2 day trip to Darud. Shamus wanders off into the desert instead. That’s probably okay.
  • Magically, they detect that the nearby deserts seem particularly depopulated of life, at least above a certain size. Additionally, a camel whom Vincenzo gave human vocal chords (because this is a thing now) warned them, panicking, of a ‘Sharp Cloud’.
  • Shamus manages to stumble back to the group partway through the camel conversation. This is fine.
  • Shamus also manages to gather a sack of weird ‘stab spiders’, i.e. scorpions, for his rituals. This is also fine.
  • Upon arriving in Darud, villagers confirm that their livestock have almost entirely been wiped out. People have turned to fishing and trading instead. They are concerned about the random non-eclipse eclipses and the giant slash marks in the ground that have accompanied the loss of creature.
  • Magic reveals 2 very large lifeforms in the mountains abutting the town. The team purchases the last remaining pair of goats and ventures up that way.

Into the Mountains

  • A flying Vincenzo, scouting, stumbles upon a roc in a very large nest. It keeps an eye on him but otherwise doesn’t move.
  • The team becomes very psyched about taking down a roc.
  • Vincenzo flies Shamus up to go approach the roc. It is larger than a modern house. Also, tending to a (apparently wounded) baby roc.
  • In a rare moment of discretion, the team decides that killing something this large might not end well. Also, baby roc.
  • The team decides that the best way to handle this is to make the roc very friendly and then very gone. Vincenzo serves as Malik’s literal wingman as he prepares a ritual to make a very large portal to Anywhere Else for the bird.

Executing the Plan

  • In order to win it’s trust, Shamus casts a ritual of gentle feelings and friendship on the roc. He seals the deal with an extra offering of mana, in the form of his companion rat king. RIP, rat king.
  • Malik eventually succeeds, with his final drop of mana, in opening a giant portal to the Great Rift Valley in Africa. With the roc placated, they coax her and her chick into the portal.
  • With a shriek of thanks, the roc nuzzles its chick into a hiding place amongst the African cliffs and swoops down in her new hunting ground to find a rhino or three to eat.
  • Malik no longer has mana to force the portal closed, so the team camps out for the next 12 hours to make sure nothing concerning goes in or out of the portal. Nothing does, minus some flocks of African birds who now find themselves in Persia. (The team is an ecological disaster.)
  • The team makes their way back to Isfahan to receive the thanks of Saadi. In exchange for their good works, he tells them to wander unconcerned through the city’s streets.
  • Traveling deeper and deeper into the twists of the city, they suddenly find themselves back in their sanctum in Crete. Hooray!
Adventure 8
The Rival and the Twisted Glass
  • The party returns with no major problems to the Cretan Labyrinth Sanctum. Once there, they discover that Mole Friend has captured an intruder.
  • After some talking and offers to clean up and pay the man, the intruder admits that he was paid off by Malik’s rival Idris to plant evidence linking Malik to a theft he didn’t commit.
  • Following the lead of the receipt of sale found planted in their library, the party teleports to Hamburg to attempt to reclaim the object.
  • Idris opens a mental communique with Malik, who manages to coax Idris into revealing that his brilliant plan was to get Malik discredited with and kicked out of the Paradise Garden Chantry’s (sort of) good graces. Malik is a jerk. Malik’s mentor is a jerk. Nyah.
  • Malik cuts the ‘call’ off at this point, using magic to ‘record’ a memory of this conversation in hopes of reporting it to others in his order. Idris’s warding makes this difficult, so Malik only has about a day before the recording dissipates.
  • The party enters the jeweler and curiosity shop in Hamburg, attempting to negotiate the sale of the stolen artifact back. The jeweler is confused (because didn’t Malik just sell it to him?), the party accuses him of ‘everyone looks alike’ racism, they pay him a handsome sum anyway. They leave with the artifact.
  • The artifact is an oddly bent mirror, twisting in on itself. They detect a magical presence. They do not tamper with it.
  • Malik once again teleports the party, this time to the Paradise Garden in Isfahan, Persia.
  • The master of the mirror calmly takes his artifact back, thanking Mailk and friends for the help. He also receives the recorded memory from Malik. He returns to his prayers.
  • Malik prepares to teleport everyone back to Crete…and only makes it 100 feet outside the city. He is now out of the quintessence required to cast.
  • The party is now stuck in Persia.
Adventure 7
Grouchy Demons, Naive Angels
  • Once in Denmark, the party makes a beeline for the town of Ribe in the distance. Malik has trouble with his ‘pinpoint demon’ spell.
  • Kehr attempts to magically pinpoint the wisest person in town. He gets 2 hits: one within the great Cathedral building, and a slightly greater one down by the dock encampment. They head to the docks.
  • The most intelligent-looking person down by the docks is an academic-looking man picking at his food with boredom. Shamus strides up to him with confidence and cheerily asks him if he knows the location of any demons. Because they’re here to kill demons. Demons!
  • The party is grilled/taunted at great length about their supposed demon-killing credentials until the nonplussed man abruptly demands that they continue the talk in his inn-room. They follow.
  • The angry man, Caim, reveals his thrush-headed demon-ness to the party while spitting out, yes, that’s great, please do help find a way to kill me, Ribe sucks, there’s nothing to read.

Exposition BWOMP BWOMP

  • Caim explains that during the summoning ritual that brought him into the world, angels were called and asked for help to kill the marauding Genghis Khan. The first two angels in the chain presumably rejected the call, so demons filled their spots instead. He presumes that Angel #3 hesitated, debating whether the nations it could protect would override the harm caused by directly killing a man. Due to this hesitation, both the angel and its corresponding demon, Caim, were summoned.
  • Caim can’t leave while Nanael is still in the world, can’t go outside a certain radius of her, but can’t approach her either because the Cathedral seems to be warding him out.

Back to the action…

  • The party leaves to find Nanael in the Cathedral, debating amongst themselves if it’s really a bad thing to leave a demon in the world (who doesn’t seem to be doing any harm) if it means they keep bonus angel.
  • The party observes a ‘get blessed by the relic’ line outside one of the back entrances to the church. After a long wait, they are in fact blessed by a ‘holy relic’, which just looks like one of the golden summoning pages they’ve been collecting hastily glued around a stick. The Bishop Jacob describes it as a great holy relic but seems to be hiding something.
  • With assistance from the others, Vincenzo sneaks in during the night. He is caught 2-3 times by the same Extremely Observant Acolyte. He decides that his better sneaking skill is ‘intimidate the acolyte with loud words and ’I AM SUPPOSED TO BE HERE’ school-master-style authority.’ He is taken to the ‘relic’.
  • Vincenzo touches the relic and begins a “conversation” with Nanael in his head. Malik, viewing remotely, sees him zone out but holds action.
  • While in mental-space Vincenzo asks Nanael was she is doing here. She replies (via musical chimes) that she is nurturing the local community, healing the sick, keeping their crops well watered, etc.
  • Nanael did not know that Caim was here with her, and expressed conflict over this.
  • To fix the situation, Nanael asked to be desummoned so as to fix the Caim situation. The most direct way would be the symbolic action of great personal sacrifice. Mildly flummoxed and on her recommendation, Vincenzo stabs himself with the ‘relic’
  • The party, mildly bleeding and concerned that they’ve just pissed off Ribe, hauls butt back to their portal to regroup in Crete

Parting Gifts:

  • Vincenzo’s bird hair now only requires 3 days of magical fasting to go away (via healing of Nanael)
  • Caim, upon leaving, granted the party the demonic boon of universal speech. Sort of. The party members without a common language can now easily talk to each other, but it sounds like rushing water when they do so. This is not at all concerning.
Adventure 6
Beelining towards Caim, and the Zeno's Paradox Cave
  • Malik remembered he could open and close recent portals, which ‘fixed’ the broken portal back to Crete.
  • The party borrowed the Doge’s library to read everything they could on Demon #3 (Caim), and pinpointed him to Ribe, Denmark.
  • Hopping into a different winding path in the Cretan Maze, they popped out into another Between-Space portal.
  • Time and space distorted so that all outward motion was extremely slowed, but all motion back towards the Labyrinth was extremely easy.
  • While figuring this out, hungry ghosts attacked Vincenzo.
  • Vincenzo gave up on his magic fast to lightning bolt them to death. Still has bird hair.
  • After recovering + some magic space bending + some licking of magical time-bending mold off the walls, the party dragged themselves out the other end of the portal into Denmark.
Adventure 5
Bavarian, the Sparkling Bend Bandits, and Flaures
  • Now stuck in Bavaria, the party left to try and find the demon they set out to hunt in the first place.
  • They eventually followed forest paths and trails into a bandit camp.
  • Rather than fight the lounging bandits, they challenged them to a battle of the bands/dance off. Which worked. Because high dice rolls.
  • Having acquired a friend in Erick and his Sparkling Bend Bandits, they were pointed towards the Bavarian hamlet of Edelberg.
  • The shellshocked and distrustful villagers pointed the party towards the woods to the northwest, said to be haunted, and said to be where the random fires were emanating from.
  • Multiple fire jaguars jumped down from the trees to attack them.
  • Aforementioned jaguars, when defeated, reformed into a pissed off fiery man.
  • Flaures was very, very murdered at this point.
  • Also I believe sometime earlier, Vincenzo botched a spell for magic wings and instead acquired a light case of ‘my hair is feathers’. He started a one week magic fast.
Adventure 4
Hunt for Flauros and the Molemen
  • Demon #2, Flauros, was pinpointed somewhere in the Bavarian forest. A winding path in the Cretan Maze Cray also seemed to head in that direction.
  • The path exited into a Between-World maze populated with 4-foot-tall friendly mole men.
  • The party eventually decided that making one capable of speech was better than kidnapping. Molenapping.
  • Mole Friend communicated that a ‘great green destroyer’ had wandered in and had been hurting his friends.
  • The party slayed the drake that was killing molemen. And then turned it into drake jerky while the weak-stomached Malik pointedly didn’t watch.
  • Everyone exited out the other end of the tunnels, into Bavaria!
  • Except the portal on this end was damaged and one-way. Welp.
Adventure 3
Questions for Tiepolo and Fishman Merchants
  • A long line of questioning revealed that they had just fought a demon, there were many other demons, Tiepolo was at least partially responsible, but couldn’t do anything about it due to losing his magic.
  • A list of the angels that were attempting to be summoned when they got demons instead was provided
  • A summon for help came from the Hanseatic merchants that shared the ship ride with them.
  • The merchant Ren seemed to have grown gills and was making due in his inn room in a water-filled barrel.
  • Investigation led to a woman at the docks, Morai, who completely claimed credit for the curse.
  • Given that the curse was requested by the second selkie whose pelt was stolen (as ‘tit for tat’), and given that it was going to wear off in a day anyway, the party let it slide.
  • Ren and Gretta were then lectured on how to not piss off the fae while gathering magic goods.

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