I don’t like to talk about this place much because I don’t want to draw attention to it, but this is me and the handsome at my favorite restaurant, Golden Empress. I eat here at least twice a week. I have eaten there at least twice a week for years. I don’t even order anymore, I just nod and they bring my meal. I eat the same thing every time and sit at the same table. (Stir fried bean curd with broccoli and a scallion pancake and front left, respectively.) Golden Empress is an undemanding dive with no atmosphere whatsoever. Wood paneling, dead butterflies displayed on the wall, the waitstaff and delivery guy eternally slurping soup at the back table. No music plays and there are generally no other diners. I’m not really sure if Golden Empress technically serves best food in the city, but it’s the best like cinnamon sugar toast was the best when you were 10. It’s comfort food. Salty, fried, abundant, cheap, and since we’re grown ups, it’s also passable as sort of kind of healthy. Now forget everything you just read, and never go there. Thanks.
So, I gm’d a game today, but before that, on Wednesday the 14th I gm’d the same game, to different people! Dundunduu. In the interest of comparison let’s see what happened the first time.
First the players:
Larry Bird, a Kenku cleric, and a devout fan of the Empress.
Iaris the Calm, a tiefling bard, and a barkeep for a tavern where a lot of pro-Empress people visit.
Vander, a half-elf rogue, who is sorta pro-rebel, but mostly pro-stealing.
And Bob, the human barbarian, who builds houses for a living and is very much in favor of the rebellion.
Our four characters wake up. They have bags on their head and cobblestones beneath their backs, and they can’t remember anything that had happened after the morning.
They get up and the whole world is painted in sepia-tones, and the city seems completely empty.
They introduce themselves. Larry Bird takes the lead, being an official for the Empress, and wearing the mask marking him as such.
The others follow along just as well.
Larry notices a small creature made out of rags that is holding some glowing marbles.
When he and the others try to approach, the creature takes off.
A chase follows. Vander manages to catch the creature, but it has got friends and the friends attack.
They don’t do any damage, instead they steal memories from the characters.
Bob forgets a house he had built and a house he was supposed to build next.
Iaris forgets where he works and a debt.
The creatures take off with some of the memories, but leave Iaris’ workplace behind.
Iaris notices that he forgets when he stops holding the memory marbles, so he decides to swallow them.
Meanwhile, Larry has picked up the marbles the first rag creature had left behind and he gets a memory of being hanged by the order of the Empress.
Shaken, he refuses to give them to the others, and they return to the Square where they woke up in.
There, Larry first confides in Bob, who he thinks is a very trustworthy dude. Then Bob shares the memories with Iaris, as Larry casts a Zone of Truth on Vander.
Vander, telling the truth, says he is loyal to neither the Empress nor the rebels, and that’s enough for him to get memories as well.
Larry very much doesn’t believe that the Empress has really killed him, and says that it’s probably a rebel ploy. The others kinda nod.
For their next move, Vander suggest they get back to where the met the rags, and see where they went, as they were the only living(?) beings they met at the place.
Iaris turns out to be able to track them really well. The tracks lead them towards the cemetery hill.
Vander goes first, he tries stealth, but falls over. A male voice asks who is there.
The male voice belongs to an elven man in a cracked silver mask. Larry and Iaris recognize him as the Silver General, who belonged to the same rebellion as the Empress, but opposed her appointment as Empress, so Empress had him killed, presumably.
Larry is very rude to the General because of this.
The Silver General says that he doesn’t really remember anything about himself, or the outside world, as the rag-creatures have eaten away all of his memories long ago.
He knows that whatever place they are in, it doesn’t go beyond the city’s limits.
There is also a beast that hunts all the other visitors to the city. At least The General thinks so.
Just then, they hear the cries of the Beast.
The General says that the Beast comes from the Palace and there might be a portal of some kind in there.
Bob would like to just kill the Beast, but Larry asks his god for guidance and the answer is, no, shouldn’t do that.
Our heroes (+ the General) decide to take a long way round getting to the Palace. First Larry mimics the Beast’s cry to lure it away from the Palace, and then Iaris leads them through the city streets to the Palace.
The road leading up to the Palace and the first room they enter is filled with writhing cut-off hands.
The General’s hand is there as well, and the people know that the living hands, folklore tells, belong to murderers, so that just really proves Larry’s point.
The next room, a larger one, contains a giant scorpion. Larry and Iaris realize that the scorpion uses tremors to track its prey, so they throw in some mild tremors themselves, so they can sneak past it. Iaris and Vander help Bob and Larry.
The first room they go in has nothing of interest.
The next room however has a portal of some kind.
Larry tries to identify it, but there’s some kind of magical trap there, and it throws him off.
They decide to check the other rooms out too.
Vander pops his head through the doorway to see if the scorpion is right there, and notices a woman has entered the building, a woman in a golden mask.
He manages to convince Larry not to look as they make a stealthy run for it, but Bob temporarily forgets how to stealth and just steps out.
The woman insults him, very viciously.
The woman, of course is the Empress.
Everyone is a bit hesitant about attacking her, but she is not hesitant about attacking Bob.
Larry tries to question her, but she tells him to shut up.
Vander sneaks behind her and backstabs (or backgonks, as he doesn’t do the whole blood-letting thing) her, but gets captured by the Scorpion’s claw.
Bob rushes in now, attacking the Empress. And he is angry.
Larry starts to maybe pick a side, and starts healing.
Iaris uses a spell so frightening that it causes the Empress to teleport away, leaving our heroes few rounds of Scorpion battle.
Scorpion lets go of Vander and picks up Bob, and tries to poison him too, but Bob flexes and feels better.
The Empress gets back into the frey, shouting “how dare you” and ripping off her golden mask. She… kinda rips her face off at the same time.
Iaris and Vander are both frightened, Vander so much that he physically ages 40 years.
Bob is very unimpressed.
The Empress tells them that they will not get out of here if they kill her, and if they don’t she will hunt them down on the other side of the portal.
Larry takes a stand. He approaches the Empress and attacks her with magic.
And…. He… Kills her.
Larry is quite shocked, as that seems to be their only way out. The others are quite concerned as well.
Well. Vander does remember to loot jewels and the mask off from the Empress.
Vander, Bob and Iaris search around the castle, but don’t find much. Bob manages to get lost /twice/. First he locks himself up in the cellar. Then he falls down a well.
Larry meanwhile contacts his god, asking if there’s a possibility that they could use his magic detecting spell to get out. The answer is positive.
So they rest for the night. The Silver General stays outside and keeps watch so the rags won’t eat the others’ memories. Which is why he doesn’t remember them in the morning.
In the morning Larry locates three objects of interest: a necklace of the Empress, the golden mask, and the silver mask of the General.
He identifies them as well. The necklace is a contacting device for the Empress’ patron, a demon of some sort.
The masks had been used to create this pocket dimension, and they could use them to destroy it.
Iaris takes the necklace, as he is a tiefling, and knows this stuff. In case things went wrong.
The Silver General volunteers to try to destroy the dimension, as he has nothing to lose.
Iaris goes get his other hand so he can do that.
And he does….
There’s 50/50 chance of going home vs going somewhere else. Vander, Larry and Bob all wake up in a ditch in their bodies.
Iaris gets sent somewhere else, but he uses the necklace, contacts a demon and a contract between them goes…. super smooth, so he gets back home too.
Aftermath! Well the Empress is dead. In the Palace’s cellar the people find the Silver General, who has been slumbering for 20 years, who still doesn’t remember anything, but very vehemently doesn’t want to become an emperor or any of that stuff, thank you very much. Also, he smells strongly of vinegar.
He meets up with the other folks, and says that he’ll go away from the city.
He wants to keep both of the masks, but Iaris persuades him to give away the golden one, which he then forwards to Hell, to his new patron and bf.
Vander manages to find someone who can revert his aging.
He also gets caught with the golden jewelry he stole from the Empress, but since the Empress is dead, no one really cares that much.
Larry tries to get Bob made the next Emperor, but it doesn’t really work. He passes away from old age pretty soon afterwards, leaving behind some children.
Bob builds a home and he and Iaris and Iaris’ bf, the step-dad from Hell, take care of the chicks and Vander visits every Christmas, breaking in through the chimney.
Well, things went better than expected. :D Congrats guys, you all made it through!
💛Graff Diamonds unveiled a magnificent 132.55 carats Fancy 💛Intense Yellow Diamond and named it “The Golden Empress”.
Laurence Graff, the renowned jeweler & founder of Graff Diamonds is reported to have earlier purchased a 299 carats yellow diamond rough which was unearthed from the famous Lethoso mines in Africa. This exceptional yellow diamond has been crafted from that rough along with 8 other yellow diamonds including 6 pear shapes, the largest of which weighs 21.34 carats.
“The potential to craft a diamond that could join its hall of noble, historic and world famous stones was a thrilling prospect,” - Laurence Graff
Interesting Trivia :
Only one in 10,000 diamonds are classified as fancy colored
So here’s the second game I ran! Let’s see how this time went.
First characters, of course: Torgus Tinsmith, a dwarf fighter, and a member of the guard.
Ignip Annura, a dwarf cleric of Lathander, and also a supporter of the empress.
And Leira Evenwood, a half-elf bard and a diplomat, who also appears to be pro-empress.
Our three characters wake up. They have bags on their head and cobblestones
beneath their backs, and they can’t remember anything that had
happened after the morning.
They get up and
the whole world is painted in sepia-tones, and the city seems
Torgus starts on the agressive, demanding to know what’s going on. He recognizes Leira, and Ignip doesn’t seem to be very threatening either, so he relaxes a little.
They are all very confused about what’s going on, and start looking around. Leira notices a small rag-like creature which is holding some kind of marbles,
They approach the creature and it runs off. They give chase, but manage to lose it.
They return to the Square where they woke up in. They decide to head to the palace, in case the Empress is in trouble.
They are getting quite close to the palace, when they hear a bone-chilling scream.
Torgus still insists that they should go to the palace and the others agree.
While walking, Leira is suddenly grabbed by an elven man in a cracked silver mask, who pulls them into an alleyway.
They recognize the man as the Silver General, who belonged to the same
rebellion as the Empress, but opposed her appointment as Empress, so
Empress had him killed, presumably.
General says that he doesn’t really remember anything about
himself, or the outside world, as the rag-creatures have eaten away
all of his memories long ago.
that whatever place they are in, it doesn’t go beyond the city’s
The scream they heard belonged to a beast that hunts all the other visitors to the city. At least
The General thinks so.
says that the Beast comes from the Palace and there might be a portal
of some kind in there.
But he thinks our heroes shouldn’t face the beast head-first.
The three go aside to discuss their plan. Torgus thinks they should still go to the palace, beast be damned, but maybe like, go a bit more quietly.
When they return to the General with their plan, they see that he is being attacked by the rag-creatures. A fight ensues.
The rag-creatures do no damage, but they steal memories. Leira forgets her mother’s name, and Torgus forgets a meeting he has next week and a pet.
The creatures are pretty quickly dispatched.
Leira goes through the rags, and finds a marble, as soon as she touches it, she gets a memory of being hanged by the empress.
Shaken she shares this information. Ignip refuses to believe it to be truth.
The General has forgotten them again, but the others quickly catch him up.
They start heading to the Palace. Before that they meet their toughest enemy yet…. THE GATE!
Only The General gets over it without assistance and on first try. Torgus assists Ignip over it, while Leira almost gets over it and falls. Torgus tries to help her, but that doesn’t work either. Finally he climbs the gate and pulls Leira over.
They start towards the Palace.
The road leading
up to the Palace and the first room they enter is filled with
writhing cut-off hands.
The people know that the
living hands, folklore tells, belong to murderers.
The General’s hand is there as well, and they point it out to him. He grabs it and it attaches itself back to him. Which, nice, new hand! Well, old hand…
The next room, a
larger one, contains a giant scorpion. Unfortunately our friends are not stealthy enough so a fight begins.
Leira convinces the scorpion that its claw is on fire, and before their eyes the scorpion turns into a hag.
They kick her butt for a while, when suddenly a new challenger appears.
A woman in a golden mask, the Empress. She viciously insults Leira, and the Silver General attacks the Empress.
Our heroes deal with the hag first and then approach the Empress who has dispatched of the General (who only has a dagger given to him by Leira).
They dare not to attack, but Empress has no qualms. She insults Torgus, who in turn grapples her (it’s what he’s good at!)
While Torgus holds her still, Leira reads her thoughts and just gets very deep hunger. Then Ignip takes off the Empress’ mask to see who she is, and kinda… rips her face off at the same time.
Torgus and Ignip are both frightened, Torgus so much so that he ages 30 years.
They regain themselves pretty quickly, and attack the Empress.
The Empress makes the claim that she is the only way for them to get out, and they are completely at her mercy.
Torgus, however doesn’t believe her to be the real Empress so he lobs her head off.
Ignip loots a strange mystic necklace, which appears to be some kind of a communication device to a demon of the Empress’ body. She also holds on to the golden mask.
They check the rooms, and find one with a portal, which appears to not be working.
They remember the Silver General, and go heal him, and see if he’s of any help, which he really isn’t.
Our heroes rest in the portal room. Ignip asks her god whether searching the palace might help them. The answer is positive.
Leira remembers where the Empress’ room is, as she had visited it as a child, so that’s where they head next.
In the room they find a secret panel which leads to a laboratory.
In the laboratory they find their own bodies as well as the Silver General’s in, what turns out to be a vat of vinegar.
They try to see if they could find any information in the laboratory, but their search is unsuccesful.
Ignip then uses Detect Magic and notices that the golden and silver masks are magic.
They spent some time thinking about the objects and realize that the masks had been used to create this pocket dimension, and they could destroy it with them.
Ignip mends the silver mask, and Torgus gives his own mask in exchange for the Silver General, since he doesn’t remember his own face and doesn’t like to be around without one.
Torgus hits the golden mask with the silver mask, destroying the dimension.
There’s 50/50 chance of going home, and all four wind up in the void. Well, three, because Ignip is whisked away to Hell to meet the demon the Empress had done deals with,
She is Aldinach, and she offers to get her and the others home for just 100 years of servitude.
While Ignip thinks about it, Torgus and Leira float in the void.
Torgus has the silver mask, and Leira grabs the golden mask, and they use it to create a pocket dimension, a grand library.
The Silver General is lost in the Void. Woops.
Aldinach sends Ignip to talk to her companions about the deal (splitting the 100 years between the three of them), but she is very reluctant, and as soon as Torgus says he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, Ignip destroys the necklace.
The three decide next best bet is prayer. So they reach out for Lathander, who is super-chill and sends them home, as soon as they promise to be nice and stuff.
Aftermath! The Empress is dead, but Leira has the mask, so she takes the persona of the Empress for a while, until she can find a good replacement.
Ignip takes Torgus to Lathander’s temple and a priest there reverts his aging. Torgus also starts his training as a paladin.
Leira, as the Empress, goes on a vacation, and appoints her, Leira, as the next Empress. Torgus, who has the Silver Mask, is appointed a co-ruler.
It all goes well at first, but then Leira gets a bit tyrannical, so Torgus and Ignip dethrone her, and send her back home.
Ignip takes the Golden mask, and there’s a brief period of theocracy which ends in a revolution because the citizen’s of the Fool’s March never learn. This revolution finally collapses the whole nation.
The demon Aldinach catches up on Ignip and she is found dead in a ditch one day.
Torgus travels the world alone as a grumpy paladin.
Leira is home, and she has gotten attention from her dad for her brief stint as the Empress, which is all she ever wanted.
So the lesson today is, Lawful Evil always pays off. Kinda. :D