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The Empire Strikes Back

Note: For the sake of clarity, we shall refer to the players' Rastaban as 'Rastaban', and the big outside Rastaban as 'the Empire', throughout this writeup.

Initial Brief

Word goes around that Loyal and, more importantly, Discreet Citizens are being sought for a ‘fact-finding’ mission beyond the Gateway into the outside world. Volunteers ought to report to Grandmaster Leymoon Wen at the Sanctum of the Wheel a day from now (he’s in a hurry, apparently), bringing appropriately notarised authorisation to travel outside the city from their District.


Adventure Summary

Sato, Mabel, Garrek, and Eli meet Grandmaster Leymoon Wen at the Wheel Sanctum. He explains that the garrison stationed to guard this side of the pathway to the outside world recently apprehended an Imperial spy, and there is concern about further unauthorised accesses. He would be exceedingly grateful if the party would discreetly find out everything they can about the Empire’s intentions towards Rastaban, to ensure the safety of the Sanctum and the City. He may be additionally grateful for any other interesting tidbits of information about the outside world and its many wonders.

The Grandmaster suggests that the party pass through the entry point in the Sanctum of the Wheel to reach the Gateway, and speak with there with Elias. They should perhaps then move on to Fool's Landing, as they seem the best placed to have further knowledge of the Empire’s activities.

The party head towards the pathway entry point, entry documents in hand. To ensure that only approved individuals can pass through to the outside world, and to catch any oddities that occur with incoming persons from the Gateway side, there is a rather hefty security operation here - somewhat to the chagrin of the Wheel Paladins. The party arrive to find a long queue to get through security, which is being held up by an incident at the front involving people smugglers, who intend to bring refugees through from Fool's Landing illegally. The party mostly stay out of this, and wait for the guards to resolve the situation. Eventually, the queue dissipates and the party enter the pathway, arriving at the Gateway without difficulty.

At the Gateway, the party speak with Elias, the Warden, who directs them to the Foreign Ward as a good place to gather intelligence. Here the party find individuals from a number of locations: a merchant from Gyre, a number of displaced Fool's Landing refugees, and official representatives from the Unbroken Chain and the Empire trading insults with one another. The party spend quite some time interacting with all of these groups. In particular, Garrek's loose tongue draws the suspicion of the Imperials, who begin to suspect the party is up to something and so send their descriptions off with a runner. Further trouble occurs when the Shroud is accidentally mentioned to one of the refugees, causing Eli to attempt to kill them. Unbeknownst to the party, said refugee is in fact another Imperial spy. When the word 'Shroud' eventually makes its way back to the Imperial guards, Mabel tries to cover up the situation by spinning a tale about how 'Shroud' is the name of a criminal organisation that Eli is involved in within Rastaban. The guards seem to buy this.

Eventually (though not before a long diversion involving dubious magical tattoos and the Unbroken Chain) the party remember that they're supposed to head to Fool's Landing to see what they know about the Empire, and set off on the journey to the town from the Gateway. They are soon set upon by a group of Fool's Landing denizens who have turned to banditry after giving all of their money to people smugglers from Rastaban who failed to deliver on their promise.

Having beaten back the bandits, the party continue towards Fool's Landing, but come upon a grisly sight along the path: the site of a recent battle. Corpses of Fool’s Landing inhabitants litter the ground, with injuries consistent with being struck down with swords - presumably the work of an Imperial patrol. One of the fallen isn’t quite dead, and the party are able to revive them - but the rest are beyond help. A quick funeral pyre is arranged, before the party set off with their rescued new friend in tow.

All is not as it seems, however. This battle was a setup by the Empire to allow them to implant a spy amongst Fool's Landing or their allies. The spy maintains their cover and picks up various tidbits of information from the party's conversations, such as how there are five muses, and the Shroud is one of them.

Continuing towards Fool's Landing, the party suddenly find themselves within Conflict - a trap laid by a unit of Imperial Weavers. They survive this, and make it out the other side, with Fool's Landing in sight.

The party joins Mayor Edouwe for lunch in the town hall, however spend the majority of their time in secret discussions amongst themselves rather than listening to the Mayor's concerns. Edouwe explains to those who would listen that the end is near for the settlement: with the Empire’s declaration of 'protection', and Torpor gone, it is only a matter of time before the town is taken. Defending it will just result in death; evacuation is the new plan. The question is, where to? Fool's Landing has those who have escaped both the Empire and the Unbroken Chain, making both locations problematic, and Rastaban refuses to take in refugees. Furthermore, Rastaban's ambassador to Fool's Landing, Sato, has been in minimal contact with the Mayor; although Sato is now present, she is in disguise and do not reveal her presence.

All in all, the situation seems hopeless. The spy the party have brought with them takes some time out to check in with their handler in the town, unseen by the party, while another undetected Imperial spy tries to angle the Mayor's opinion towards surrendering the town to the Empire.

Eli leaves the party and returns to Rastaban at this point, but not before leaving a gift of Moment's Grace to Sato, for use in case of emergency as the party how has very limited healing.

Eventually the Mayor suggests that the party could gather information for her on the actual whereabouts of Imperial forces in relation to Fool's Landing, to help making a decision. After the mysterious disappearance of Torpor, the Empire has been quick to reclaim the Fortress to the south of the town, but the movements of their forces out of it are less known. The spy asks to come with them, as they 'seek revenge' for the deaths of their 'friends'. Despite being quite suspicious of this individual at this point, no-one in the party seems prepared to say no to them, so they come along.

The party set out from Fool's Landing towards the Fortress, but quickly spot an Imperial patrol in the distance. Sato, Mabel, and the spy all hide themselves in the bushes, but Garrek is forced to run away as the art of hiding-in-bushes is unknown to him. The patrol see this, but Garrek gets away. Eventually the spy bursts from the bushes, escapes, and is 'caught' by the patrol, who are then informed that everyone else is hiding in the bush. The patrol poke the bush, but after receiving no response, elect to set it on fire instead. Sato runs away and escapes, but Mabel surrenders to the patrol and demands to be taken to Legatus Denarion.

Sato and Garrek eventually find one-another, before being stumbled upon by Rekha, who has been wandering the outside world for some time beating stuff up. The trio set out to rescue Mabel. To Rekha's horror they quickly find themselves in Connection - another Imperial Weaver trap! Shenanigans ensue that result in Garrek being followed out of Connection by an Oversharer that refuses to go away. When the party do escape Connection, they find themselves transported away from where their were, to an unfamiliar location.

The party seems to be in a dark cave, where they encounter a group of humanoid figures who have been lost here for some time. These people have very little memory of who they are, and seem to have been driven mad by their isolation. Clinging to singular ideals, the broken spirits accost the party, but the party has little desire to fight back. In the end, the party manages to find a way out of the cave by following the light. They find themselves outside again, but some distance from where they were.

Sato scouts ahead, and spots an Imperial wayroad heading east-west not far away. Approaching the wayroad, however, appears to be a Commissioner and their retainer! Sato reports this to the party, who realise they may need to intervene to keep the existence of Black Ichor from leaking out of Rastaban. The party accost the Commissioner, who has been searching for a suitable location to perform some experiments: they wish to know if the lack of knowledge of Black Ichor beyond Rastaban is because there are no sources of it beyond the city, or because it actually doesn't work at all out here. Being Good Citizens, of course, the party cannot stop the Commissioner doing this, but urge them to hurry along. During their slow transmutation experiments - which are successful - an Imperial Patrol travelling down the wayroad encounter the group. The patrol has Mabel with them!

The party, with the help of the Commissioner and their mutated retainer, strike down the Imperial patrol as they may have gained knowledge of Black Ichor's existence, which must be protected at all costs. In the chaos, Mabel escapes down the wayroad - having been brought through the Fortress south of Fool's Landing and then onto the wayroad by the patrol, Mabel is expecting there to be another Fortress at the other end where the Legatus can be found.

The rest of the party take the opportunity to disguise themselves as Imperial soldiers, both by borrowing their outfits and by the application of ichorwerk by the Commissioner. Sato's face is made very malleable but attractive, while human skin is grafted to Garrek's face to cover their blue-ness. The party identify which direction Mabel went in, and follow her.

When Mabel arrives at the end of the wayroad, she finds a second Fortress that is still under construction. She demands to see Legatus Denarion, and the guards are eventually persuaded to escort her inside to speak with him. Mabel first asserts that if the Legatus has made an enemy of Jeremiah Stingelhelm, then he has also made an enemy of Mabel. The Legatus has no issue of accepting this, and in return asserts that if Mabel has made themselves an enemy of the Legatus, then she has made an enemy of the Empire. Conversation moves to the subject of Fool's Landing, but the Legatus' cost in exchange for Mabel's demands would be for Rastaban to surrender the Gateway to the Empire. Denarion asserts that the Gateway has been built on land the Empire claims, and this new Fortress is being built in defence. Mabel, of course, cannot possibly agree to this. His patience expired, Denarion has this 'enemy of the Empire' locked up.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party arrive at the end of the wayroad, and blag their way into the Fortress under the pretence of being a decimated Imperial legion. Shenanigans ensue as Sato breaks cover to stab Denarion and use his blood with the Chalice, projecting its voice into the Legatus' head. Quickly realising he is under some kind of malign effect, a long dialogue ensues. The voice claims to be that of the God Emperor, but this raises Denarion's suspicions as this is very much not how the God Emperor usually communicates. Eventually, Sato states that the party are actually spies from the Unbroken Chain. Since the Chain and the Empire are at war, Denarion immmediately orders the execution of the disguised party members. But before any heads can roll, Sato uses Eli's gifted Moment's Grace to fully heal the party, who rush towards Mabel and use a Wheel Embrace to escape the Fortress.

The Wheel Embrace takes the party close to the Gateway, but also brings nearby Imperial soldiers with them.Everyone fends for themselves. Sato, Garrek, and Mabel all escape, while Rekha collapses at the walls of the Gateway, where she is rescued by the Gateway guards.


At the Gateway, Rekha brings Elias up to speed on her recent activities - both on this adventure, and her general wanderings. She grumbles about how she tried to do Sato a favour and try a diplomatic approach for a change (ugh), only to discover there was nowhere the near the kind of thorough plan she was expecting. As she has no travel documents (having not returned to Rastaban since Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam), Rekha does not travel back to Rastaban, and instead returns to visiting violence upon the local wildlife.

Mabel uses There and Back Again to return to Fool's Landing, and meets with the lover of one of the murdered citizens based on a note found on their body. She gently breaks the bad news to them, before returning to the Gateway.

The events of The Wheelhouse occur. Notably, Garrek's newly acquired skin is removed - consumed by Zosime.

After this, Sato, Garrek, Mabel, and Eli return to Rastaban. Mabel has some difficulty with this, as she ate her return papers earlier in order to keep them from being discovered by the Imperials (though this was ultimately redundant, as the guards never thought to search her). After much arguing with the pathway guards, and some assistance from Elias, Mabel is eventually able to get through.

Arriving at the Wheel Sanctum, the party meet against with Grandmaster Leymoon Wen, and recount their adventure to him. Sato covers the key points, though leaves out the events involving the Chalice, and recommends that the Gateway be kept on high alert. Garrek covers most of the adventure as it happened, while Eli goes along with what the others say up to the point where she left. Mabel gives a very thorough report, covering the people smuggling situation, the abundance of Imperial spies, evidence that the Empire is prepared to murder civilians, and the tenuous situation in Fool's Landing. She also reports the second half of her conversation with Legatus Denarion (but omits the first part), as well as the following items of intelligence as relating to the Empire:

  • The material, weave, and colour of Imperial Army jerkins (which is also evidenced by the stolen clothes Sato and Garrek are disguised with).
  • The Imperial Wayroads are artefacts of the Wheel, radiating in straight lines from the centre of the Empire, and fortified with intermittent, heavily fortified garrisons.
  • Sketches of what she saw of the completed Fortress south of Fool's Landing, and the under-construction Fortress south of the Gateway. Also some analysis on potentially strengths and weaknesses to their defences (broadly, the Fortresses seem very strong from a physical standpoint; manipulating the guards may be the best strategy for subverting the defences).
  • Marching patterns and tactics used by the Imperial Patrol that captured and escorted her.
  • Imperial forces have separate builders and fighters, meaning non-combatants can be found in the Fortresses.
  • The Empire follow the Torch, Rod, and Throne, but have forgotten the Wheel despite the Wayroads being Wheel artefacts.

The Grandmaster is exceedingly grateful to the party for all of this information; this includes Rekha, who was mentioned in the debriefs given by the others. Garrek and Mabel both discuss with Leymoon the situation within the Wheel Sanctum: although the security of Rastaban is of the utmost importance, the heavy security operation around the pathway runs counter to the values of the Wheel. The Grandmaster agrees wholeheartedly, though points out that it is, sadly, not entirely his own decision to make. Still, he is a man of action, and promises that he will see what can be done to ease passage through the pathway.

Some changes to procedure do indeed materialise: while the security operation remains in place, the required paperwork to pass through becomes simplified - the reason for passage is no longer required, and permission now lasts until it is rescinded by the issuing authority, rather than only being valid for one trip. Measures are also taken to speed processing times through security. As such, so long as one's District approves it once and sees no reason to later rescind this, it is much more straightforward to leave Rastaban for the Gateway. Getting back through to Rastaban is still a somewhat slow process, however, due to the large numbers of Foreigners located on that side - being outside the Wheel Sanctum, the Grandmaster has less influence over this.

This improved situation ought to last so long as no Incidents occur that would cause a rethink.

Party members go to brief their other associated organisations as desired. Garrek also goes to speak to the Commissioner, since they agreed to be experimented on. They may be in touch. Mabel also visits the Foresters' Guild, and puts in a glowing commendation for Eli, for her performance in the service of Rastaban.

Sato undertakes some research and thinking upon the subject of the viability of, and the strategies required for, subsuming the Empire into Rastaban, with a particular focus on the outcome of a coup being preferable to military action. Definitive conclusions on this subject are hard to reach given the limited available information on the Empire's internal situation, and the relative power of the Empire compared to Rastaban. Still, Sato devises a wide range of thoughts and theories, and publishes these throughout Rastaban. This sees reasonably wide uptake among the strategic and scheming minds of the city, and is a current subject of much debate and discussion.

A couple of weeks later, rumours reach those with the right connections in Rastaban that Legatus Denarion has stepped down as commander of the Empire's northern forces, citing poor health. Unwilling to compromise the Empire's military strength, Denarion has taken this move voluntarily, albeit reluctantly. The identity of his successor is as yet unknown, but they are almost certainly not as great a tactical mind as Denarion, who was renowned as the Empire's foremost military mind.

This adjustment in command seems to have bought Fool's Landing the briefest of reprieves, but their annexation by the Empire remains imminent.



  • +4 favour
  • Gain the 'Warping Visage' mutation from the Commissioner. In return, report to them at your earliest convenience for follow up examinations and further experimentation. Failure to do so may earn their disappointment.
  • Gain an Imperial Army outfit
  • (query about vows has been punted to the LARPOs)


  • +4 favour
  • The mutation gained from the Commissioner has been lost. Nonetheless, continue to report to them regularly for follow up examinations and further experimentation. Failure to do so may earn their disappointment.
  • Gain an Imperial Army outfit


  • +4 favour
  • Gain quirk Enmity: Legatus Denarion


  • +4 favour
  • (downtime action has been punted to the LARPOs)


  • +4 favour
  • Gain an Imperial Army outfit

The Empire

  • The Northern Forces are under new command, though the identity of this individual is not yet widely known in Rastaban.
  • Invasion of Fool's Landing, though briefly delayed, is imminent.
  • The Fortress south of Fool's Landing has been fully reclaimed.
  • A new Fortress is under construction south of the Gateway, as a 'defensive measure'. It will soon be fully operational. Wayroads connect this Fortress to the rest of the Empire's military infrastructure.
  • Imperial spies suffuse the outside world, with suspected presences in the Gateway and Fool's Landing.
  • The Empire's suspicion of Rastaban has grown - though the disturbance at the Fortress cannot be attributed directly to them, the sum of intelligence gathered by various spies the party interacted with does raise some suspicions that these events were linked.
  • The Empire is now aware that Rastaban follows five muses: the Torch, Throne, and Rod are already understood by the Empire, but the existence of the Wheel and Shroud are now known to them. Nothing more is known of the Shroud, however, and there are also contradictory reports that it is a Rastaban crime syndicate.
  • The Empire remains unaware of the existence of Black Ichor.


  • Travel between Rastaban and the Gateway is now faster and easier for Approved Citizens. Bad Citizens and Foreigners continue to be obstructed.
resources/adventure/the_empire_strikes_back.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/21 01:37 by jamesw