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The 10th Telvar Open: Pocketing the Difference

The Tenth Telvar Open Tournament: Pocketing the Difference
“The random and the directly causal are often completely indistinguishable. I would argue that there is no difference—given that the world is far too complicated for us to really understand the consequences of our own actions.”
--The Anarchist Cleric known as “Bob”
Events of 11 October 2008 in Charlotte, N.C. / 26 December 2196 B.Y. in the ruins of a First Age slave city near the Realmish city of Hortun.
[the same day as the BLADES battle in the sewers of Botsweil, aftermath of a low-level adventuring party releasing two warring gods]
[NOTE: Some of the diverse summaries of these events contain contradictory information, and skewed perspectives based on the experiences of the characters involved. Some of these have been noted specifically, but otherwise the unique perspectives of each group have been maintained. The truth
of each situation probably lies somewhere in the middle.]
Dungeon Master: Edwin B. Anderson, Jr.
Assistant: Chris Allen
With Support from: Katherine Anderson Hosted by: Rhonda & Alan Jones
Near the Realmish city of Hortun lies an ancient ruin, abandoned since the First Age of Telvar. That ruin was the birth place of the Anarchist religion, where the first clerics began their work, establishing the first such temple after a slave uprising against the Codex Tyrants.
After the uprising was brutally suppressed, the site was left undisturbed for a long time, because the Restless Undead therein were deadly. Later, the Realmish government negotiated with the Undead to establish exterior walls and prevent intrusions. This fragile truce with the Undead has held for millennia...
Recently, the current government of the Near Realm has allowed the Auroran Church to establish, outside the walls, a memorial and observing post that will allow pilgrims to come and observe the site of the Revolt against the Tyrants. Though unfinished at this time, the memorial is due to be completed fairly soon...

Summary: Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble.
Dramatis personae:
Moogle, bugbear shaman lvl 7 (Keith Nelson)
Flurph, bugbear fighter lvl 7 (Rodger Henson)
Magistrar Darren, xvart fighter/mage lvl 5/5 (Andrew Anderson) Soopy, noblink warrior (William Paus)
Nurf, noblink warrior (Joshua Paus)
Teams A, B, and C of noblink tribesmen (Sean Paus)
The noblink tribesmen were joined about three weeks ago by the two bugbears and the xvart, survivors of a catastrophic attempt to make a lot of money selling crabmeat (don’t ask – “let us never speak of it again”). The bugbears and noblink established an agreement to work together getting treasure – the bugbears to provide the muscle, and the noblink to provide the mundane labor.
The shaman, while getting to know her new home through divination, found that a large amount of treasure was expected to appear in an area to the south of the tribal village, contained within a human monument to an ancient battle. The area was said to be rife with undead, and someplace that we were familiar with but did not go without good reason. The noblink had identified an underground passage that would bypass the 30’ tall, electrically charged containment fence that threw back anyone who touched it.
We equipped ourselves with some mining equipment to allow for excavation or retrieval if needed, and set off with the teams in the predawn light. We passed an enormous ruinous fortification shortly after clearing the tunnel, and followed a riverbank into the battleground. At 9:30 we were able to see, in the distance, a very tall tower. At that moment, an enormous explosion consumed the top of the tower, throwing debris outward and generally toward us. There appeared to be much more stone and debris within the explosion than could possibly have been contained in the tower. Also within the debris cloud were objects of different colors, suggesting rugs or tapestries.
We continued our trek toward the ruined tower, scaling a ridge to approach from the high ground. Another hour into our trek, we noticed (by scenting them) dogs – not gnolls, but clean, well-groomed dogs – following us. They did not gain on us. We stopped and directed teams B&C to double back in a pincer movement as an ambush, but the dogs did not approach any closer. After a short time we resumed our march, and judging from the sounds and smells, the following dogs and others did not pursue.
Some time later, as we rounded the end of a forested region on our right, we could again see the tower. Beneath the ruined tower, and at the base of the cliff below, we spotted a lake. Now, our eagle-eyed xvart could see purple beings climbing up and down the cliffs below the tower and roaming along the beach. There appeared to be a large white toad and some humanoids at the top of the cliffs. Combat was apparently occurring – at one point a gazebo appeared in midair, falling down the cliff and clearing out purple
creatures. It was followed by a park bench, and then various animals – a giraffe, an ox, and a spotted cat, among others. Each of the animals was attacked by the purple beings, now visible as purple, yellow-faced monkeys. Occasionally a monkey would stray too close to the water’s edge and be consumed by a large shark patrolling the waters.
While we were making these observations and approaching our target, a large fly flew a circuitous reconnaissance path near us, and then returned to the region of the tower. As we continued to watch, the group of beings at the top of the cliff (an armored figure, a figure in black, a figure in a bright dress, and the toad) disappeared around one edge of the tower. The combat below, on the cliff and the beach, gradually wound down. The purple monkeys began disappearing, one at a time, into a large barrel. The last monkey in pulled the barrel closed and the melee ceased.
When we arrived at the top of the cliff, at the base of the tower, we found treasure everywhere. Off in the distance, to the south, we also saw a building materialize in midair, and then collapse to the ground, about half a mile away.
It was clear that someone had been picking through the treasure, and had even gathered some of the valuables into a pile. We found plates and silverware made of gold, platinum, and silver. We then climbed down the cliff, secured the barrel full of monkeys with a padlock, and then examined the shore. There was a large catapult, on wheels, that we realized we could bring back to the noblink tribe via the tunnel. (We even considered that the catapult could launch the barrel to open in midair if needed!) We then cast Detect Magic and began harvesting all of the magic items that would fit onto the catapult as a cart. We found a magic sword, a mirror, a group of undamaged bananas, a large carpet, and other items. All of the good stuff was piled onto the catapult, and we began our hasty retreat – I mean, executed a strategic retrograde movement – and returned to camp with the haul. There were some scuffles on the return trip with a few of the undead in the region as it grew very near to dark, but we survived without losses and made it back home. That area is clearly not a place to be after dark. We became the richest tribe for hundreds of miles around and lived happily ever after, or until the next Open, whichever comes first...
Here was some of our loot:
Catapult of Capitulation – won’t fire anything, but when fired, everyone around loses all
of their weapons (which turn into white flags) but becomes Invulnerable for some time. The Majestic Hat Aka Hat of Awesomeness – makes the wearer feel like they look great.
Mirror of Tastelessness – when the viewer looks in the mirror, any tasteless clothing is identified as such.
A Little Bird Told Me – foments gossip and ill rumors – eventually discarded.
No Picnic (rain, ants, food) – a picnic basket that, if used every day for a year, will allow a complete clone to be created if needed. Apparently we didn’t actually figure it out. While using the basket, though, it rains constantly in the area and big ants come to check things out. Got thrown in the ocean.
Bananas –“Bunch of Stuff”—produces useful items when peeled
Barrel of Monkeys—very hard to control, purple, rubbery-looking, very hard to stop,
infinite number of almost unkillable
Long Sword of Invisibility
Harp C Chord: Allows you to summon and control small numbers of harpies Vanishing Point Dagger: Invisibility device for wizards
Potion Commotion Moonshine Jug: Once per day beneficial potion
Respectfully submitted, Moogle [Keith]
Summary: Does This Fall Under “Other Duties As Assigned”?
The Park Staff
Levka Singer, Woodsman Level 6, played by Kathryn Snead (leader) Esau Velnik, Woodsman Level 3, played by Ryan Jones?
Jacques Dubois, 5th Level Auroran Cleric, played by Ashley Merritt? Kelly Harrowan, Mage 2nd//Druid 4th, played by Rhonda Jones?
And about 15 other park staff.
We were a small party, consisting of myself (Levka Singer, Nevronian Cleric), Rhonda and Ryan Jones, and (??) Ashley Merritt, who played the Auroran Cleric. Either Rhonda or Ryan played the Mage/Druid (Kelly Harawan - I ended up with the character sheet). There’s also a Ranger..... My notes only indicate a druid - but perhaps the character was a mage as well. [If anyone can advise as to who played what—I will correct this!—Kyle]
Here's what I've got on our party. I wasn't keeping the party notes (I think Ashley was), so I don't have anything besides memory and the party map.
We were the staff of a Realmish national monument where a museum was under construction. We are all in the office when one of the construction workers up in the observation tower that was under construction spots some sort of explosion in the park.

We quickly assemble a team to go check it out. We take half of the guards assigned to the monument construction protection detail, half of them melee fighters, and the other half bowyers; however, we make the guards swap armor such that the ones left behind are equipped with heavier armor, and the ones coming with the team have lighter armor. We also take both dogs assigned to the protection detail.
We head into the monument on a west-northwesterly path, designed to skirt the northern edge of the un-named ridge between us and the explosion site. We depart before 10 AM, and engage in many minor encounters along the way. We deal with feral creatures relatively easily, and we use the secret set of gestures to ward against the minor undead we encounter.
Shortly after 11 AM, our scouting abilities (aided by our dogs) lead us to believe there is a large party of unknown origin almost directly ahead of us. Rather than continue on our pre-designed path and intersect the other party, we camouflage ourselves with the help of a potion to blend in with the surrounding landscape. We head south to scale the unnamed ridge in order to better survey the surrounding landscape and spot the other party, but we don't see anything out of the ordinary as we gaze to the west, generally in the direction of the explosion.
We descend the southern end of the ridge and continue almost due west towards the explosion and the Central Overseer's Ruin. About half-way between the ridge and the site of the explosion, we encounter a much older gentleman in formal clothing, and he leads us to a small party of what claim to be the high-class servants of an aged and powerful mage. They claim that they are uncertain as to how they arrived in the monument, or where the monument is. We inform them of the dangers of the monument, especially after dark, and offer to escort them safely back to the office, an offer they accept readily. We send them back in the direction from which we came with some number of our guards and a dog.
We continue in the direction of the explosion and Central Overseer's Ruin, and we encounter tracks heading southeast towards the edge of the monument. As we were tasked with determining who had set off the explosion within the monument (a federal crime), we decided to track what may have been the perpetrators on their path away from the crime scene, a trail which appears to be fresh, especially given that we have an edge for moving quickly through the monument environs. We follow them to the border fence, and note grimly that they successfully breached the border fence to escape the monument only a few minutes before we arrived.
Now that it is nearing mid-afternoon, we must depart the monument immediately to avoid being trapped after dark. We head directly northeast to the main office, and arrive safely with less than an hour to spare. We learn that the servants also arrived safely sometime mid-afternoon, and they were waiting for us when we arrive. They would like to make a claim for the mage's affects, which they indicate are scattered around the explosion site, given that they believe the mage to be dead. We inform them that they must wait for a
specified period of time to make sure that no other claimants arrive with a better claim for the affects, and they seem happy to wait the required period.
The next morning, we set off again to the explosion site to discover quite a bit of scattered debris, including ruined buildings, apparently dropped from the sky, and the wreckage of the Central Overseer's Ruin. We stage a careful recovery operation over the next month, and make sure all signs of the explosion and foreign goods are removed. We extract the cost of the recovery and restoration operation from the recovered goods, and turn over the remainder to the party of servants after the required waiting period has ended.
We make sure to include a detailed description of the incident, evidence on the crime (including testimony from the servants), recovery and restoration operation, financial restitution to the monument, and servants' claim in our monthly report to the agency overseeing monument operations. Our supervisors are pleased to note that we dealt with the situation without compromising the monument construction finances or schedule.
Levka Singer (Kathryn)
Summary: So There Was This Poker Game, You See....
Phelps, 0-level butler, 72 years old, 5 hp, AC10, played by Alan Jones
Vest of free action, shoes of spider climbing, ring of prot evil, belt of invulnerability, actually 141, Wilhelm is at least 100 years older, etc.
Really rich (264000, retire to private island)
Boofus, ice toad, played by Joey Hess,
Obtaining a really good plate of clam linguine
Goofus, credenza-fly, very survivable, played by Sean Guarino
Extraplanar creature, no real goals
Elaine Creathus, 7th level Anarchist cleric, played by Jack McKechnie
Gorgeous purse, parasol/shield, hammer of idiot slaying (sparkling wand +2, +3 vs stupid things, +4//dd INT OR WIS <10, +5//dd INT AND WIS <10), wand of sparks, multi- colored party dress armor, necklace of spiritual stength, jewelry
Kroof, 8th level fighter half-orc, bodyguard, played by David Jones?
Basically, we’re all friends of Wilhelm’s and we live in this pocket plane which was once used to help raise baby Kraken. We’re all having so much fun, that none of us really felt like writing down what happened...J

Summary: A Woman, A Plan, A Scatterblock, Wilhelm!
Dramatis personae:
Phantasm, magic-user 5th//thief 13th (NPC)
Stoofer, thief 4th//cleric of Hindus 5th (Andy Moorhead) Yuri, fighter 4th/thief 6th (Katherine Anderson)
Tellitz, human illusionist 2nd//thief 9th (Kyle MacLea)
Phantasm, the second in command of the local thieves’ guild, (name also spelled Fantasm) has come up with a plan for some easy treasure, and has recruited three members of her guild to help with the clean-up of the treasure. She doesn’t tell the three very much, but this is the gist of what they know:
A historic site along the shores of a local lake is some place where a slave revolt took place in the First Age. It’s surrounded by a magical security fence, and there is no way you can climb over the fence due to magical charms and wards. Because the area is basically an automatic kill zone during the night because of Undead, the work will have to be done between dawn and dusk—in and out quickly. Phantasm has two small, yellowish tokens that allow the group of thieves to safely Passwall through the security fence. Basically, the role of the three thieves will be to stand around as she executes a Plan, and pick up the treasure. Sounds easy enough. We were counseled to have spells on hand to rapidly detect magical/useful from mundane treasure, which the spellcasting thieves do to prepare for the Plan.
On the morning of the 26th, the group is in place at the southern security fence and successfully Passes through the wall by use of the token. As dawn breaks, the group makes its way over broken terrain, wondering why we’re going to this old slave revolt site anyway. I mean, slaves don’t have treasure. And they’ve been dead for millennia!
Eventually, the group reaches a large stone tower in the center of the area, and Phantasm explains her Plan further.
The walls of the tower are made of Scatterblock. Anyone attempting to teleport through Scatterblock will die instantaneously. Furthermore, if they were carrying any treasure, it would be nicely dropped on the ground where it could be picked up. Hence, the role of the three thieves. [Reference to scatterblock in this c. 1996 Stone Soules adventure: http://blog.telvar.net/1996/04/stone_soules_summary_xxi_tanel.html]
The plot thickened. Surely everyone would know to avoid this area and not teleport through it?
Yes... except when they are made to teleport through the area through the use of a Dimensional Anchor (a.k.a. “Teleport Beacon”) which will draw anyone teleporting within a given area to that place.

Well, then who is the target? It is....
Wilhelm the Great! Wilhelm is an eccentric Archmage [see the end of the Summary for some stories of Wilhelm’s eccentricity] known for the strange habit of carrying all of his possessions around with him in a large Bag of Holding. Phantasm’s research indicates that the Scatterblock should annihilate Wilhelm, but dump his Bag of Holding’s contents within the surrounding area (say, a 50’ radius). How convenient!
Phantasm assures us that there will be a very loud bang which may draw creatures or the monument groundskeeping staff, so it will be important to work quickly and to get out quickly through the south wall of the monument with the other token she is carrying before night falls. Further, because Wilhelm is a powerful realmish citizen, if a bit deranged, his death will be investigated by Shocktroopers, and it is important to get back to a Guild safehouse before we can be caught.
Phantasm has verified that the park staff has no federal troops and no powerful adventurers, just a couple of low-level woodsmen, maintenance men, and a construction crew from the Aurorans building their observation point. “Though killing them would not be hard, we should avoid doing so to avoid further federal interest in what happens here.”
About 9 o’clock in the morning, the thieves arrange themselves around the tower while Phantasm heads into the tower to drop the Teleport Beacon. Phantasm then takes her position so that she can be the first to reach the likely area of Phantasm’s materialization/disintegration.
At 9:19 am, the three thieves are standing on the edge of the tower’s battlements when the Plan goes into motion...
...and the tower explodes.
The thieves observe stonework exploding out of the tower, along with tapestries, carpets, expensive furnishings, people, a large malevolent-looking shark. It’s as if a huge building materialized within the tower and destroyed it instantly.
But the thieves did not have long to observe what happened as they were themselves blown off the tower as it collapsed. Though they landed with minor damage, Phantasm was nowhere to be found...
The thieves picked themselves up and immediately set to work finding Phantasm amid the rubble of the old tower and whatever had just appeared therein. It was clear that the “building” that had appeared in the old tower was now vanishing below the northwest side of the tower, at it fell down into the lake below. Debris and treasure was strewn everywhere.
The thieves were concerned less with finding Phantasm alive (she was kind of a jerk) but in finding Phantasm’s TOKEN. It was, after all, the only way that they knew how to get out of the haunted ruins before dark.
As the thieves searched the rubble, they observed a large, buzzing horsefly doing flyovers, originating in the area where the old tower was. They hid from the fly at first, and later they kept searching for Phantasm with the help of spells of divination.
After searching for some time, one of the thieves found a token amid the rubble. However, the lack of Phantasm suggested to us that it was not the token they were looking for, so they kept searching.
A little while later, they discovered what appeared to be Phantasm. Dead. Under some rocks.
It would take awhile to dig out Phantasm, so the thieves set to work immediately.
Some time later and some more reconnaissance on the part of the horsefly, the party heard a voice.
“Hello? Is anyone out there?”
The party hesitated before one of the thieves said “Hello?” “Hello? Who is it?”

Hmmph. Some of the Thieves summary appears to be missing.

Basically, the Thieves talked to the Bag Staff, trying to convince them that they were the Park Staff, but the Bag Staff was not deceived. Then, they attempted to steal stuff from the Bag Staff (stuff that fallen down closer to the lake, not at the top of the cliff) and then make a quick escape. While doing so, they were observed by the Bag Staff, and the Bag Staff threw various things at us from atop the cliff. Including various animals from a deck of magical cards.

Meanwhile, various things were loaded in the credenza, and the Thieves escaped with a few things, having suddenly been attacked by the Barrel of Monkeys dumped open by the Bag Staff.

The credenza then turned into a fly and pursued us. Stoofer, Andy's thief, threw a Token of Dessert Bakery at the fly, killing it instantly and dumping its valuables, including spellbooks on the ground amidst the remains of the credenza.

The Thieves made a bee-line for the wall out, experimented with a wrong token (Boulder) before the right one (Passwall) and escaped. Then, they made their way to a Guild Safehouse where they laid low for a few months with the stuff they had stolen. Eventually, Yuri left and became a superhero. The others continued their life of crime.


Yuri [Katherine] got:
Spell book
Puzzle box
The Pickle Spear. It’s a great item for a thief to have, or a fighter/thief. Basically, you can get up close behind someone, and make like your going to stab them with the pickle, and then, it turns into a spear. For just an instant. A fairly viscious magic spear.
The Jester’s Bag which is essentially a Robe of Useful Items on crack. Instead of a Robe of Useful Items in which you can kind of tell what’s in all the pockets if you wear it for a few days, it’s full of completely useful items that you can only draw out once and they’re gone, but you have no idea what you’re going to pull out.
The Super Ball (artifact). It creates in its user an urge.... To become a superhero! Yuri eventually.... Starts to fly. Yuri eventually becomes immune... to non-magical weapons. And Yuri eventually gains a 19 strength. And a double movement rate. Yuri
does become strong as a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Neutral Thief [Andy] got:
Bag of tokens... 20 Tokens for a good-size Realmish town!
The Joke’s On You, also called The Floppy Sword – blue floppy sword that becomes rigid (+4?) when swung and makes a laughing sound at the same time. Basically it’s a totally stupid weapon. It’s not so great when normally swung. It fumbles a lot of time, but it never hurts you. It might get dropped and accidentally flip and do a lot of damage to someone near you. It will split and form jagged edges and injure people in the area. But then it will be back to its normal floppy self the next time you swing it. All the while laughing histerically. It basically has its own laugh track that increases in amplitude each time you swing and miss. It’s bright blue with a little bit of white trim.
Spell book Puzzle box
Other Thief [Kyle] got:
Soapstone Skunk Spell book Puzzle box Phantasm’s gear A great story
To walk away with his life?
Missed on the beach:
Killing Time, thumbscrews
Box of household tokens (furniture, ball of flame, towels, etc.)
Nurse shark named Bertha (E-vil, ends up in the pond below the tower) Robe of beans (beans for eating, stinking clouds you are immune too) Helm of will
Lost Chord harmonica
Bag of juju beads (intent of the Spider conspiracy, destroying the minor gods) Minor gods destroyed: god of well-tended campfires, and some others
And Behind the Scenes: Arachnids?
A shadowy, concealed figure provided the necessary materials for the Plan to take place to the thief Phantasm immediately before the events of “Pocketing the Difference.”
Including strange, little tokens made out a weird, yellowish metal.
That other adventuring parties have encountered only in the hands (claws? chelicerae?) of the secretive Phase Spiders...
All this while a fateful battle has played out between the BLADES adventuring group and a duo of Spider conspirators, elsewhere in the Realm, in Botsweil, on the very same day.
Sounds very suspicious....
But then, we already know that the Spiders Win in the End.
Summary assembled by Kyle MacLea
Individual Summaries Written by Keith Nelson, Kathryn Snead,
Postlude: Wilhelm the Practical Joker
Wilhelm (Mage 20th) has made a lot of enemies due to his “jokes.” These include:
• Making it appear that the regional capital of Hortun was on fire when it wasn’t
• Making it rain copper pieces in the poor districts of a town while it rained dead
fish in the wealthy district
• Making the clothese of everyone in Hortun transparent for the middle half hour of
the traditional lunch hour
• Selling the dock district of the regional capital to a stupid water elemental prince
in exchange for a wish—then watching it “play” with the boats for 10 minutes before a contingent trigger spell dragged the prince back to the elemental plane of water
• Giving away talking chickens to everyone in town that begged to be eaten and exploded harmlessly 24 hours later if not cooked
• Etc., etc., etc.
Though a powerful Realmish citizen, Wilhelm had made a lot of enemies. (!)


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