Reign of Fear: A NeoGAF DnD 5e Play by Post Campaign

Galen has been sitting at the table, quietly listening as the others go back and forth on matters of politics and plot. His gaze takes in the actions of each as Keranos rises in fury.

"Sagishi is right, you know," he says at last: "we have entered into a realm of ambition and of a lust for power. The entire foundation of Forgerun is built on vying for that power. We cannot expect our conversation to go so smoothly as last time. Is it not so that those who hold power tend to desire to keep it? Or to increase it? Especially in a place like this, could we not expect whoever we may be looking for to use their newfound 'cosmic powers' in a bid for greater political power, or to hold office through elections?

"We need some idea of what we are doing, rather than barging over there, but, should our negotiations here not go well..." Galen lowers his head and turns his eyes to Keranos, speaking ever so softly, "we may need to rig the system to oust a power-hungry fool while we travel north."
"More to the point, Ludwig is only one Jraffa in a large city. I rather doubt his attempts will result in much, especially if we make short work of things. Being a complete outsider may give him a platform to speak but he'll be hemmed in by bureaucracy."

((Unless he puts on a yellow wig.))
((Or gets a hold of a pee pee scry to blackmail the head of one of the major parties :p))

Ludwig's ears droop as no one seems to be as thrilled about the vote swaying as he is. Trying to explain his stance to Fheiss, he says "Quite contrary, my friend. The people here have done the best possible thing in leaving voting to the free market. That supplies an incentive for market forces to go to work. The free flow of capital overwhelmingly leads to positive outcomes." He nods for a moment at the mention of other parties doing the same thing, and continues. "Yeah, if I've put in the legwork to have a group of people to talk to after just being here a short time, I'm sure there are plenty of other good entrepreneurs out there doing the same. That just further cements the importance of doing this; I've got to do everything I can to support liberty, which means jumping in to this market and doing as much as possible to be that positive market force. Now that you helped put it in that light, this could be the most important missionary work I do on this continent!"

The J'raffa thinks he's made a breakthrough with Fheiss, but any joy to be had there is quickly lost as Keranos goes off on him. His face rapidly contorts into a scowl as he gets outraged off of Keranos's outrage. "You," he practically spits. "I thought YOU of everyone here would most understand the good I'm doing here! I thought you understood capitalism, and that as a god, you would have some semblance of a grasp for big picture policies! And let's skip over the intertwining of markets, speech, and policy outcomes here to jump to the biggest travesty. You think I'm in this SOLELY for personal gain?!" The thumping of Ludwig angrily stomping his hooves outside is possibly audible at this point as he gets increasingly worked up, gradually going from indignation to shouting.

"You think that the majesty of markets- a majesty I adhere to just as much as any of your followers adhere to you- is some kind of hollow lip service to advance personal greed with no heed for the betterment of everyone that comes from society at large pursuing their greed? You think that because I would take a fee from my hard work in organizing all of these representatives, that I don't actually care about advancing liberty?! THAT BECAUSE I SEE A FREE MARKET VOTING SYSTEM AND JUMP INTO THAT FREE MARKET- WHICH, MIND YOU, INVOLVES TALKING TO A BUNCH OF PEOPLE I FIND REPREHENSIBLE AND PRAYING FOR PROTECTION IN THE NAME OF ADVANCING LIBERTY AND THE MARKET- I'M SOMEHOW A HYPOCRITE IN MY PUSHING FOR LIBERTY OR A FOLLOWER OF A SHAM?! FUCK YOU, YOU NARROW-MINDED, WASHED UP SHELL OF A GOD, IF YOU EVER EVEN WERE ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

As he finishes, Ludwig is visibly trembling, his body wrapped in the pale blue light that accompanies channeling. He continues to glare at Keranos, looking like he's ready to step outside and fight over this.

As Sagishi mentions how to deal with someone who refuses to part with their endowed fragment, Ludwig halfway looks over without fully taking his eyes off Keranos. Still breathing heavy, he says "If they don't want to yield, we have to persuade or coerce it out of them. Whether we go with favors or threats will depend on how going down there goes, now won't it?" He immediately resumes glaring at Keranos.
Keranos is initially taken aback at Ludwig's response. Up until now, everyone he has ever confronted has either ignored him, or been promptly smited by either himself or an ally. Coupled with the j'raffa's considerable girth, it's no surprise that the still-growing godling backs up a few steps.

But as the Paladin becomes visibly exhausted in his efforts to justify his actions, suddenly Keranos's moral indignation turns into.... something else. He glances at Thosar, and some unspoken understanding passes between them.

He wants to say So this is the true face of capitalism. You've helped me see the light, Ludwig. As the God of Storms, mightiest of the Oneiri, I say piss on the free market. And that's when the rain would start pouring down.

Instead, he puts a calm hand on Ludwig's shoulder. "Of course. I understand," he says, making his best attempt to sound soothing. Since he is new at this, some condescension bleeds through. "You're a great defender of the free market. There is certainly not any hypocrisy going on here. Everything is alright."

He winks at Ludwig, and then claps his hands together, turning around to address the others. "So," he says. "What next?"
Fhiess isn't completely convinced that Ludwig's goals are noble if it involves unlawful, or more likely unethical, manipulation of trade to achieve an unfair advantage.

But as Hogan always said, arguing is one of the most stable paths to ending a partnership. Fhiess doesn't think he'll win over Ludwig so easily, so he instead makes an effort to appeal to the group as a whole. He starts by describing how he thinks the system works thus far, "It seems odd, but this is a strange kind of market- in a way, the voters are the auctioneers, and the politicians are trying to win the bids for their votes through charisma and policy.. but then the votes they win become a trade commodity. Do I understand this correctly?"

He goes on to suggest, "In either case, if somebody is using their endowed power to further their political career, they would be very popular among voters or easily capable of influencing competition I suspect."
Something about Keranos's apology rubs Ludwig the wrong way. If the J'raffa was as smart as he thought he was, the insincerity would be immediately obvious. Alas, not only is he not, he's also hoping for validation on his maneuvering.

After a few more calming breaths, his anger and aura start to subside. "Apology accepted. Glad you see the light! Uhh, I got a little heated there and said some things I shouldn't have, so sorry about that too."

He then turns back to Fheiss to go on about the voting and gambling system. "And that's just the first level of it! Votes can be converted to currency and vice-versa, so theoretically someone with enough money could buy up votes and choose a candidate. But it really gets exciting when you start placing bets.You can bet on candidates, legislation, and even spreads on the vote! And that's where getting in contact with representatives comes in! See, the legislation I'm testing this with will extend citizenship to Underdark refugees or something. Legislation passes when it gets 2 of 3 houses voting for it, and a house goes when 2 of its 3 chambers vote in favor for it. 3 houses already have a chamber heavily pushing it, so if I go and can coordinate enough members in another chamber on each of those houses, then bam! Score one for the free market!"

On the topic of the endowed politician, he says "Quite possibly. That bit of spirit's manifested in the bulk of us as a general but fairly marginal improvement of mind and body. I'm not certain that whoever has it will be getting any substantial political benefit from it. Though yeah, doesn't necessarily mean they'll easily part with it."
Galen nods at Sagishi when the Kitsune voices his pleasure at Galen's agreement with his thoughts; however, there is no need for a direct verbal response, rather, the party needs to keep on task as much as they can. And with Keranos and Ludwig, oh how they need help with this.

The argument dies down, however, and Galen finds himself smiling amusedly as Ludwig proceeds to lay out further the workings of Forgerun's vote market. When the J'Raffa finishes with a comment on the possible endowed politician, Galen speaks again.

"True, they may not get too noticeable a benefit in the political arena, but if they get even a little, or think they might, that would make it all the more enticing to them to hold onto it. Further, any power is still power, political or not; would one who desires to further their power really want to give it up? As it is, we have yet to determine a method of taking essence by force, and this seems a rather precarious location to experiment at random.

"We can't just walk up to this guy and say 'Hey, look, we've got this very important J'Raffa here, and a little god of storms. This guy-" Galen points at Sagishi "-is rather cool, and Fhiess will paint you a picture. Now give us our essence.'"
"Where a will exists, there is a way. We need to see who we are dealing with, first, before a plan can really be made. Until then, we can only assume contingencies." Thosar nods to the door. "Which is why I recommend a little reconnoiter, using Ludwig to draw attention."
Fhiess seems unsure at force, "Take an essence by force..?" He snaps his finger and grins, "What if.. they willingly give it up? Surely there are far more things to lose to a card gamble than a bit of extra energy, if you get what I'm saying."
Galen raises a hand, as though to hold off the group from charging through the door.

"True, knowledge of who we are dealing with may be the most useful tool available to us at this moment, but it may be best to approach in a few smaller groups, with the those who will attract the least attention determining who we are looking for."

Fhiess' comment elicits a smile from Galen. "Yes, there certainly are ways of convincing one to relinquish power, and, given the proper circumstances, power itself can become a hindrance, can it not?"
Thosar points to Galen. "Agreed. Ludwig and perhaps... Fheiss will play bait. I think Sagishi, yourself, and Nyx are the best to search for our essence holder using the stone. Keranos and myself can keep an eye on things from the periphery.
Fhiess seems happy that his idea was well received.. until he realizes he is going to be used as bait in a public forum area of the city.

"I, ah.. yes, I can help talk. What better than two merchants interested in.."

He takes a moment to think, "Sponsorship. Somebody with such great talents surely would want a sponsor, especially a sponsor that has one capable of making advertisements as I, and another that makes a great financial advisory as Ludwig."
((Alright, sounds like the plan is some of the group to run interference with a distraction while the others surreptitiously seek whomever it is that is Endowed in the government building?))
((Yeah, unless anyone comes up with a counteroffer to the proposed, that's probably what the party is going with.

Ludwig is so founding The First Holy Bank of Commerce as a result of this, isn't he?))
<Other than my previously assuming that Fhiess and Ludwig would talk to the person that has the essence and distract them (I'm guessing we're actually distracting everyone around them?), that seems like the plan.>
((Keranos is going to pull his disembodiment trick to get a bird's eye view, in case that wold ever be useful. He will hang back, either by himself, or with anyone else who wants to))

((Actually scratch that, Keranos is going to wait until some kind of distraction has started, and then he'll march into the complex and start searching for the target))
((Ludwig isn't going to fit into the building at full height, BTW.

Nez, I know you were going to do something with Sagishi, but facts in the ground may have changed a bit now.))
((Ludwig isn't going to fit into the building at full height, BTW.

Nez, I know you were going to do something with Sagishi, but facts in the ground may have changed a bit now.))
((Yeah, quite so. He's ready to go when everyone else is. Since he still has the crystal, he'll probably lead the search party. ))
((OK, so presumably Ludwig is on distraction detail outside the building (with Fhiess?), while at least Sagishi and Keranos are actually going into the building. Everyone else?))
((If that's what what everyone wants, sure.

As long as the rest of the party is okay with it, Galen can try to slip in just a moment before the others -or a slight distance away from them- so as to not have quite as large of a group for people to be suspicious about. He would then meet up with Sagishi Group inside.

Galen will also have to talk with Keranos on the way over, more quietly than not, and what he says is thus:))

"I do not believe Ludwig is meaning any harm with his grand voting schemes, you know. What I see is a proponent of the free markets and lessened government who has found an area where he may be able to further his ideals. Did he not liken himself and the free market to your followers and you? I would think you would want your followers to do the same in such a situation.

"True, he may ask for compensation for his work, but that is in line with his free market ideals: you work, you get paid. It is worth noting, though, how often we see him act without requesting payment, not because he doesn't think the payment is in order, but because it is for the betterment of those in need."
((Yeah, that plan works for me. Ludwig was planning on going in, but it's probably best to hold on to the shrinking potion for later. He can try and ask for the representatives from outside, and if that doesn't build any traction, he could team up with Fheiss for a joint distraction or something.))
As they walk, Fhiess chimes in, and speaks to Ludwig, "I know I suggested offering sponsorship as a distraction, but I might have a better idea now.. what if we acted like campaigners with the promise of listening to the people? Think about it, the governing building is filled with lines of citizens trying to send letters that may easily be overlooked due to the saturation of constant requests being given, and also the constant cycle of new leaders entering office."

He pauses, then nods, outlining the logic of his plan, "If I can appeal to the people visiting the government building, they'll stop to hear what I have to say -> which will stop them from going inside as quickly -> which will make the governing office less busy -> and then finally when they realize something is wrong surely it will be much easier to find the individual with the essence."

<Regardless of what Fhiess' distraction ends up being, he'll cast Charisma Enhance Ability on himself when the time comes to make it more likely to work>
"Hmm, use the bureaucracy's monstrous inefficiency against it. I like it! I'm not sure if the people inside will actually consider people not going in anything wrong, so it may not work. I'm willing to try it though, and if it doesn't quite work, I have a more disruptive idea in mind. I know you don't like singing, but you could lay down a beat if you had to, right?"
Fhiess' confidence and resolve is suddenly sunk by Ludwig's suggestion, "Ah, well.. If the plan somehow fails, I'm sure I'll think of another distraction. But there's no way the plan will fail."

Please don't make me play songs in front of a large crowd, he thinks to himself. He imagines the entire city throwing trash at him and booing him after he makes screeching noises with the clay ocarina.
Keranos marches into the the hall of politicians with the swagger of a bull fighter.

He matches Sagishi's pace, and keeps an eye on the direction that the crystal is pointing. He periodically looks out further in that direction to see if there might be an obvious person or object that it's leading him toward.

Perception: [20](!!) + 4 = 24 - Critical Success
Galen walks in slightly apart from the others, his stride purposed and a bit faster than that of Sagishi and Keranos. Once inside, he falls off to the side, his eyes taking in the crowd, the layout, any potential for issue with their plan.

Galen waits for the others to draw nearer instead of simply approaching them.

((Perception for interior:

Nice roll, Thlunarian! Certainly better than mine. Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't jumping around in excitement to roll on finding this guy; Galen's first priority on entry is different from Keranos', so I fully expect they will find different things.

Did you see my earlier post with Galen talking to Keranos on the way over?))
((Sorry about that, Song - I wasn't reading as carefully as I should have because I was trying to hurry while I was at work. Let's jump back in time half a scene: ))

Minutes earlier, before entering the complex, Keranos is addressed in muted tones by Galen. He looks at the ranger with narrowed eyes and skepticism. Rather than speak aloud, he broadcasts a message directly into Galen's mind.

Galen and, optionally, DM only
My relationship to my followers is one of paternity and genuine love and caring; his relationship to this 'free market' he speaks of is one of blind worship and fanaticism, to the detriment of his fellow mortals. They are not comparable. Ludwig's mad schemes and his overreach to justify them are warning signs of a dangerous zealot. I chose not to escalate the encounter because it would have ended poorly for everyone, but I suggest that we remain on our guard around him from now on. It is clear to me now that he would sell us out to the highest bidder without hesitation.
((No need to be sorry at all. It wasn't entirely prominent in any case, so I thought it may have easily been missed. I do really need to consider an avatar to help alleviate such issues, perhaps?))

Galen nods as Keranos finishes. "Even so, I would say he genuinely seems to believe his ideals are for everyone's betterment," he says in the same quiet voice as before. "It in no way implies infallibility on his part, but it helps to at least understand why he may be so invested in it. And, while it seems we can both understand the merits of caution in this sort of case, we also must be able to extend some measure of trust, conditional as it may be."
When their little group finally leaves the inn in search for their next target, Sagishi can't help but feel a little annoyed at his partners. The fact that some of their group are still putting their own agenda before the task they have been assigned to is simply rubbing him the wrong way. Shouldn't they focus on saving the world first?

While Keranos stomps alongside him, caring little to appear inconspicuous, Sagishi tries his best to blend in with the crowd, not an easy task when one is a good head taller than everyone else and is in the company of an overly confident god trapped in a boy's body. The crystal is cupped in his hand and he checks it sporadically to adjust his direction.

Perception: 1D20+2 = [19]+2 = 21
<I could totally play a character like Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo>

<I'm also going to wait to see where the crystal leads everyone so Fhiess can be nearby to distract the nearest crowds.>
Full of bravado, Keranos marches into the government building with Galen and Sagishi not far behind. The three of them keep their senses sharp and their wits about them as they attempt to follow the crystal as it points in the direction of the next Endowed.

The crystal is more or less explicit in the direction it points to, but you're paying enough attention (and are perhaps tuned-in to your claustrophobia enough) to notice that the construction of the government building more resembles the proportions of surface dwellings. The hallways are slightly more narrow while the ceilings are notably higher than the other dwarven buildings you've been in around Hammerfall.

Through a bit of trial and error, the trio are able to determine that the is pointing up toward the ceiling, presumably indicating that the target resides on a different floor. True enough, after ascending a couple flights of stairs, it levels out. The floor they find themselves on is a long hallway with doors on either side, most with a shingle depicting an icon or logo of some sort. It's much as Fhiess encountered on his earlier trip.

Standing at the end of the hallway, the light points ahead and slightly off to the left. Some ways down the hallway stand two cloaked Drow on either side of a door with a sign featuring a depiction of scales hanging above it.
((It's a good couple hundred feet away, and yes it's on the left side. They haven't taken notice of you, and there's a steady trickle of foot traffic going up and down the hall.))
<Fhiess shall cast Eagle's Splendor on himself, for an advantage on Charisma checks>

After flipping through a bardic brochure to remind himself how to cast Eagle's Splendor, he chants the spell to empower himself with additional charm and persuasiveness.

"Now, then.. where to begin?"

He looks for anyone anyone that might look frustrated, and not content with the results of their business at the government office.

Insight: 1D20+3+2 => (9 + 3 + 2) = 14

He approaches whoever he finds best fits his description, and begins to speak to them, "Hello there! I couldn't help but notice that the city hall has been busy as of late, so much that it would seem like the people in charge would have to.. overlook many of the requests that are filed and given to the overworked secretaries."

If he has their attention, he continues, hoping that others around him will hear what he's saying..

Charisma: 1D20+3 => (1 + 3) = 4
Charisma (reroll): 1D20+3 => (16 + 3) = 19

"There needs to be somebody that UNDERSTANDS that the citizens that make Hammerfall so great can only be ignored for so long! The needs of the people aren't just requests to be organized and stashed in a drawer, only to be replaced by stacks of new requests per every week! What if there was a candidate that would be willing to just talk with the people and make their concerns the campaign they are willing to run on, and truly be the one for the city's future?"

Carefully, he tries to word it so that he's not the one he's referring to as the campaign runner.
Keranos tries to size up the mysterious figures who block their passage, but there really isn't much to go on.

Then again, they're only guards, and they're mortal. How formidable could they be?

He marches forward and stops in front of them. "Let us through," he commands, intentionally raising his voice enough that whoever is inside should be able to hear him. "I have urgent business on the other side of this door."

((Persuasion roll: [7] + 5 = 12
Once Fheiss goes to work, Ludwig plays along with his pitch. After initially stifling a gag at the populist spin on Fheiss's words, he jumps in, speaking as loud as he can. "That's right, everyone! Tired of having to navigate the Leviathan of bureaucratic excess every time you want to put your clothes on? Sick of seeing everything in this city turn into the Department of Carriages and other Vehicles as lines overtake everything? Don't you want an official that just listens to you, that makes your policies his policy? Well gather around to learn more, we'll tell you about the perfect newcomer to shake up Hammerfall! Politicians hate him!"

((Under 5e rules, I think working together with someone gives the initial roller advantage, which would let Fheiss fire off another roll. If it works differently, I can roll something if need be.))