As “Children of the Void” begins, Riddleport is on the mend from the destructive climax that closed out the previous adventure. The mysterious shadow in the sky is gone, and the strange events that have been plaguing the city have ended. The falling star that struck Devil’s Elbow is now accepted by both commonfolk and cyphermages alike as having been the cause of these disturbances, and now that it has fallen to Golarion, the feelings of nervous fear have passed.
Indeed, it was the effects of the relatively small (but still destructive) tsunami that hit Riddleport after the star crashed that have been on the minds of the city’s denizens recently. When the wave surged ashore, dozens of ships were beached, with several washed inland and left stranded as far as Wharf Street. Many of Riddleport’s piers were ruined, and several of the smaller buildings along the waterfront were damaged. Over the days following the event, the crimelords and overlord of Riddleport mobilized in a way rarely seen in the lawless city, working together to put out fires, save citizens who were swept out into the harbor, and kill angry and disoriented reefclaws, sharks, bunyips, and other dangerous sea creatures that suddenly found themselves stranded in the city streets.
In the aftermath, the cost of the damage to buildings and structures rises into the tens of thousands of gold, and the total number slain or swept out to sea by the wave may never be known (thanks to the city’s inefficient census practices), although the more conservative estimates place the total number of victims between 150 to 200. Yet despite the disaster, Riddleport is quick to forget the trauma. Those who weren’t directly harmed by the wave have little compassion for those who do, while those who were affected are universally quick to turn the event from disaster into opportunity. In the days and weeks to follow, the chaos on the waterfront makes for ripe grounds for smugglers, looters, and other violent criminals. Ships that were further out to sea return to find many of their competitors no longer in a position to work against them, and the balance of power among the various pirate captains has shifted dramatically (not that many outside of that violent subculture would notice much difference).
In addition, with each passing day, a new greed continues to grow among Riddleport’s citizens—a greed for skymetal. After the initial shock of the falling star and its impact subsided, the implications of the event sunk in. Skymetal, in any of its seven known varieties, is a valued and much sought-after commodity in any society, but with Riddleport’s Gas Forges being one of Varisia’s only public operations capable of smelting such difficult metals, the convenience of the fallen star has many of Riddleport’s groups eager for a chance at the easy money.
Yet the damage done to Riddleport’s waterfront and to many of the ships owned by prominent locals has retarded the burgeoning Skymetal Rush. As the days drag on, the race to be the first to reach Devil’s Elbow slowly takes the city by storm, with those who don’t have access to ships scrambling to secure deals with those who do. But the promise of skymetal is not the only thing that waits on Devil’s Elbow—for at the end of the previous adventure, the PCs likely learned that the falling star was called down by the drow, and that those drow might still be hiding somewhere on the island.
The Gold Goblin Gambling Hall
The adventurers decide, after much deliberation and weighing of options, to sell the Gold Goblin. They find a seller in less than a week who agrees to 8000 gp down and 300 gp a month in payments until paid off.
Once word gets out that a drow was sighted in Riddleport, the Shin’Rakorath moves quickly. Kwava is
contacted by his superiors via animal messenger and is told to follow up on the drow, to find out what she was doing in Riddleport, and to make sure she was the only one active. Kwava’s first step in this mission is to contact the PCs and ask them to share everything they’ve learned about Depora and her plans. Why was she in Riddleport? Does she have allies?
As Kwava learns there are more drow on Devil’s Elbow, he reports the news quickly to his superiors via animal messenger. The reply comes in about 8 hours later via another animal messenger delivery—the Shin’Rakorath wants him to continue his investigation, but urges him to draw upon the PCs as additional aid, particularly in exploring the possibility of there being more drow on Devil’s Elbow. The message goes on to say that the Shin’Rakorath has even gone so far as to arrange for transportation to the island via a ship called the Flying Cloud. They’ll send more agents south to Riddleport to help as soon as they can, but for the immediate future their hands are tied with events in Celwynvian and the Mierani Forest—it could be weeks or even months before they can spare anyone to aid in the investigation of Devil’s Elbow.
Kwava would rather remain in the Riddleport hinterlands at this time so he’ll be available to his superiors should they need to contact him.
Through excellent use of Diplomacy to gather information, the PCs discover the following information:
- DC 10—Goldhammer’s Expedition: Since Overlord Cromarcky hired several dwarves to sail out to Devil’s Elbow to gather up as much skymetal as possible for him, everyone’s heard about the interest the dwarves of the Gas Forges have in the fallen star. The dwarves, led by a loud miner named Goldhammer, left for Devil’s Elbow 2 days before the start of this adventure on a ship named the Mithral Wave, which dropped the dwarves off and then sailed on to make a delivery to Magnimar—the plan is to pick up the dwarves on the return trip in a week.
- DC 12—Slyeg’s Group: Avery Slyeg, Riddleport’s most successful smuggler and black marketeer, was the first to act on the promise of skymetal. With one of his ships not quite in port when the star fell, he was able to move quickly when the Black Bunyip returned to Riddleport. Avery outfitted her quickly, and his group of smugglers and thugs left for Devil’s Elbow 7 days before the start of this adventure.
- DC 15—Cyphermages: Eager to investigate the island but frustrated by attempts to organize transport (due to a combination of internal bickering and the sabotage efforts of Zincher’s men), the cyphermages finally secured a small group of a dozen or so explorers and secured passage to the island on the Foamrunner, a merchant cog bound for Magnimar. The cyphermages left for Devil’s Elbow 3 days ago. Samaritha Beldusk is among those who travel to the island on the _Foamrunner.
- DC 18—Zincher’s Group: Clegg Zincher didn’t have the luxury of a ship returning to port, nor did he have Overlord Cromarcky’s finances to rush repairs on one of his own vessels. Nor does he trust his men not to simply gather the skymetal and run with it. Zincher waited for the next pirate ship to pull into port, then personally led a hand-picked crew of toughs down to the waterfront that evening to attack the ship under the cover of night. After murdering the crew and feeding them to the hungry harbor denizens, Zincher and his crew sailed the stolen Dark Pearl out to Devil’s Elbow 5 days before the start of this adventure.
The Flying Cloud
The Flying Cloud is a four-masted vessel built for speed. With a narrow beam, sharply raked stem, and square rig, the distinctive design (itself based on the design of the larger Chelish clipper) gives the ship great speed on the waves when under full sail. The Flying Cloud flies the flag of Riddleport on her mainmast (although the captain keeps a dozen flags in storage and feels no real ties to any one port). Captain Josper Creesy, a relatively young man, seeks to make a name for himself and his ship by setting speed records all along the Arcadian Coast.
Captain Creesy invites the PCs to dine with him aboard the Flying Cloud the night before they are set to embark—he wishes to get to know them a little and find out why they’re heading to Devil’s Elbow, and during the dinner he all but interrogates them on their goals and plans once they arrive at the island. Captain Creesy’s initial attitude toward the PCs is indifferent—during the dinner Inari and Mr. M charm the good Captain with diplomacy and wit, and he warms to them and his interrogation swiftly transforms into actual conversation. He’s eager to talk about his desire to set sailing speed records between Varisia and Andoran, but admits he’s still months away from making the attempt. A local, Captain Creesy is well-versed in the stories of the region, and if the PCs don’t already know the history of Devil’s Elbow or Virashi’s Curse, Creesy is only too eager to tell them the story of how Yaris’s attempt to settle on Devil’s Elbow fell apart, it is said, due to the siren’s curse. If made helpful, Creesy befriends the PCs and he waives his 50 gp fee to transport them and their gear to Devil’s Elbow.
Creesy and the PCs dine belowdecks in the captain’s cabin, where he treats the PCs to a fine meal of fresh reefclaw and vegetables with warm bread and chilled wine. He makes a quip to them to not get used to such finery once the ship is underway, but for now they should enjoy the meal.
Unfortunately, the PCs’ preparations for the journey to Devil’s Elbow have not gone unnoticed. A group of six saboteurs employed by Clegg Zincher have taken note of the Flying Cloud’s preparation for sail the next morning, and after some well-placed bribes, they learn that it is bound for Devil’s Elbow. While the PCs and Captain Creesy eat, the saboteurs slip onto the ship and begin their dirty work, first subduing the two guards Creesy’s left up topside and then preparing to burn the ship’s sails and rigging.
Erevis and Mr. M hear the soft pop and crackle of a fire coming from above decks and rush to investigate. They discover the ringing and mast afire! There are six strangers standing on the deck, near the boardwalk and pier. The PCs immediately begin to form a bucket brigade with Inari using her newly acquired slippers of spider climbing to get water faster to the others by clinging to the side of the ship. Mr. M, Garrosh and Erevis use buckets to put the fire out. After a few minutes, the PCs and Captain Creesy manage to extinguish the flames with only minor damage, but not before the saboteurs cut the mooring lines and cry out, “Fire! Fire at the docks!”
Only minor damage to the rigging and sails is done to the ship, and repairs consist of a day’s work and 15 gp worth of repair materials.