In his usual terse manner, Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin requests an audience in his office. He wastes no words once the last invitee has closed the door.
“As you may know, many goods and much information passes through Isger, including the discrete movement of relics and artefacts by our own society. However, the society has little presence and few friends in a region so thoroughly dominated by Cheliax and so overwhelmed by the Goblinblood Wars.
Your task will take you to Saringallow, a trading town close to the Conerica River. Despite to flow of trading traffic through the town, the people there are wary of outsiders and slow to trust anyone at all.
Once there, you must secure copies of three books originally held by the diabolist Sarini family but now thought to reside in the civic collection guarded by the mayor,” the Venture-Captain pauses for a few seconds to rifle through some notes on his desk, “Mayor Sandra Trinelli.”
"However, this is only part of your mission, you must also find a way to put yourselves, and thus the society, in the good graces of the town. If we can become the one group of outsiders with a strong reputation in the town, the Society can begin to effectively monitor anything passing through the region. It will also help to ease our own clandestine movements through Isger, between Cheliax and Lake Encarthan.”
He frowns slightly, stands and peers thoughtfully at you all, “It would, perhaps, be best if you did not reveal your membership of the Society until you had earned a reputation for yourselves: we wouldn’t want any blunders to spoil our chances.”
Captain Valsin begins to file away some papers as he goes on, “Your ship leaves tomorrow, The Duchess. She already lies at anchor. Any questions?”
You have 24 hours the make purchases and complete other tasks in Absalom, play will reconvene in Saringallow so don’t feel you need to prepare for the voyage.
Isger lies between two of the most powerful economies of Avistan: the merchant Kalistocracy of Druma to the north and Cheliax to the south. Isger also controls the only gap between the Five Kings Mountains and the Menador Mountains. As a result, Isger has the Conerica Straits, one of the most profitable trade routes in Avistan, running through the centre of it.
There are parts of three separate mountain ranges within Isger: the Five Kings Mountains to the east, the Menador Mountains to the north and west, and the Aspodell Mountains to the south. The open plain between the Aspodell and Five Kings Mountains that connects Isger to Andoran is known as Isger Pass.
Much of the Chitterwood was burnt in the aftermath of the Goblinblood Wars, but it still remains as a geographical feature. Beneath the forest, goblin tribes remain in the Caverns of Chitterwood, perhaps gathering their forces for another invasion.
Although Isger is a landlocked country, it has numerous large and navigable rivers passing through it. These include the Conerica River and the Keld.
Dustpawn, a former mining town
Elidir, the capital, at the heart of the Conerica Straits
Gillamoor, village under quarantine
Haugin's Ear, a fishing town
Logas, a former capital on the edge of the Chitterwood
Saringallow, founded by House Sarini
Umok, a gnome settlement
Places of interest
Citadel Altaerein, former headquarters of the Hellknight Order of the Nail
Citadel Dinyar, headquarters of the Hellknight Order of the Godclaw
Finder's Gulch, haunted site
Iron Rose, palace of the Widow Queen
Wolfpoint, a fort
Isger was founded in 2133 AR, after Taldor's Seventh Army of Exploration defeated its indigenous inhabitants, the Isgeri. The Isgeri fought the Taldans tenaciously, but were eventually conquered and pacified. In recognition of their great courage and determination, the Taldan crown named their newest province after the tribe.
Trade with Tar Khadurrm
The dwarven nation of Tar Khadurrm was founded in 3279 AR in the Five Kings Mountains southeast of Isger, and its capital, Jernashall, became an important center of trade in the region. It became so important that the governments of the Taldan provinces of Isger and Cheliax petitioned the dwarves to build a surface city to increase their access to dwarven goods and services. Raseri Kanton was built as a sister-city of Jernashall in 3451 AR and quickly became a trade centre for over 500 years, until both cities were destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Droskar's Crag in 3980 AR.
Thrall of Cheliax
Isger remained a thrall of Taldor for nearly two thousand years, until another Taldan province, Cheliax, broke free from their imperial masters during the Even-Tongued Conquest. In 4081 AR, Cheliax wrested control of Isger from Taldor, and Isger has remained a vassal state of Cheliax ever since. Even when several other vassal states, such as Andoran and Galt, successfully rebelled against Cheliax in the 47th century AR, Isger remained firmly within Cheliax's grasp.
Exploitation of resources
As a vassal state of first Taldor and later Cheliax, Isger's natural resources were heavily exploited over the millennia. Eventually the only thing the state had to offer its imperial masters was its valuable location as a trade route between Cheliax and the rich nations bordering Lake Encarthan to the northeast. This route led up the Conerica River from Cheliax, past the capital of Elidir, and from there overland into the nation of Druma. As a result, the Isgeri government has concentrated most of its resources to the communities on the Conerica, leaving the rest of the nation to become an impoverished, bandit-infested hinterland.
Isger suffered terribly during the Goblinblood Wars when hundreds of tribes of goblinoids (including powerful hobgoblin warlords and their goblin slaves) emerged from the Chitterwood in southern Isger in 4697 AR, killing all in their path. Isger's army was unable to stem the invasion. The goblins were eventually defeated by an unlikely alliance of military forces from neighbouring nations, including the Eagle Knights of Andoran, the Hellknights of Cheliax, and the Mercenary League of Druma. Each fought to keep the goblinoid forces from overrunning Isger and spilling out into their respective countries.] With the enemy armies defeated, the victors put much of the Chitterwood to the torch in an attempt to deprive the goblinoids of a home. Although thousands of goblins died in the conflagration, many fled into the caverns below the forest and survived.
After the war
The Goblinblood Wars were marked by heavy losses on both sides, especially among the Isgeri, and thousands of orphans were left to fend for themselves after hostilities ceased. Their numbers even continued to rise in the post-war period, as chaos and banditry swept through Isger's hinterlands. The only organization who stepped in to help these orphans was the church of Asmodeus supported by Cheliax's House Thrune. They built a number of monasteries throughout the country where they fed, clothed, and indoctrinated Isger's youth into the faith of the Prince of Law. The most famous of these is the monastery run by the Sisters of the Golden Erinyes, where children are not only schooled in infernal philosophy and politics, but also in hard-to-master martial arts.
The town was founded as a garden estate by the noble Chelish Sarini family long ago. They named it Sarini's Hollow and brought in peasants to maintain and farm the land and to act as servants for the more influential members of the noble house. When these nobles began dabbling in diabolism and witchcraft, the local populace became concerned, but when virgin daughters began to be found drained of all blood, the peasants rebelled and hanged all the Sarinis. They renamed the town Sarini Gallows, but over the following century the name evolved into its current form. Chelish nobles are still treated with great suspicion in Saringallow, and any members of House Sarini relocating there are quickly convinced to find a new place to live.
House Sarini is one of the better-known noble families of Cheliax. Nicknamed the "Fools of Thrune" or the "Lapdogs of Hell", they are known for producing cruel and macabre fools and jesters who serve the crown. Members of the house are often sent to amuse crowds at public executions in Egorian, entertaining the common folk with their dark and violent humour. It is currently unknown whether members of this house do this voluntarily, or if their debased profession is a result of an offence against House Thrune.
Any pointers you can give us would be helpful As Johnny asks.
I want to know what I'm getting into
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Harada walks into the room with a confident swagger. In a somewhat accented Taldane he introduces himself.
"Name's Harada, but people call me The Haum-mmah"
Harada is a well armored Taldan male. He's got shoulder length black hair, is clean shaven and heavily armored with numerous light hammers hanging from his belt and various leather thongs on his chest. Strapped to his back is a long heavy stick that is club-shaped atone end and tipped with a wooden spear point at the other.
knowledge geo max 10: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (6) - 2 = 4
knowledge history max 10: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (6) - 2 = 4
Harada listens to the briefing, and scribbles down some notes before asking questions.
"You say copies of three books, what else can you tell us about those books?"
Kayan is sitting in a chair fidgeting with her traveling clothes, huffing over how mismatched the colors are! ugh, this dreadful outfit, it's so old, I hope no one notices ... reminder, clothes shopping!
Hmph ... It is nice to meet you Hauum-maah, Kayan holds out her hand My name is Kayan, nice to meet you all she says as she looks around the room. She is dressed in mismatched green and brown clothing for travel, as if someone tried too hard to match them and ended up with too many clothes on. Her hair an auburn, slightly messy, but long enough to grab attention. She is not a looker, scars mar her face possibly from too many fights or a chicken fight gone bad. She is curvy in the right spots and holds a vibe of friendliness.
I do not like to pry, but surely Captain Ambes Vinis, there is something more you have to share? I mean it would be dreadful if I were to get hurt if you withheld info or much needed advice.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
A dark haired man in even darker clothing speaks up from the back of the room, "Sounds easy enough. Check out three books from the mayor's personal library and bring them back here. What are the titles of these precious books?"
As the others turn to look at him he smiles and nods in greeting.
"My name is Carson. It's good to be working with you."
"The books are rare treatise on diabolism written by a long-dead Taldan, Hitchcock McGuffin. He invented perverse summoning rites involving exsanguination. I doubt the mayor will let just anyone copy these texts. You will probably have to earn her confidence before you even get to ask about the texts. They form McGuffin's complete works: Red Rivers of Woe, The Hopeless Heart and Called by Blood."
The module assumes heroic PCs; the Pathfinder Society does not. I'm laying out McGuffins so that you have a PFS reason to help the mayor.
Note: I don't generally intend to use ooc to spoil immersion, I'm just wary of sending anyone up blind alleys.
"Ambrus Valsin," the man corrects Kay with a smile, seeming charmed by her mispronunciation, "I'm no expert on Isger, seems like nobody is these days. But if I was expecting problems in Saringallow, I'd worry about the two problems which plague the whole darn country: goblins and devils."
Grel takes in the information, rubbing his thumb on the base of his axe. Diabolists are hardly my area of expertise.
"Keeping our relationship to the Society secrete seems prudent.
knowledge: 1d20 ⇒ 4
Gregor dusts off his sleeve. His seems like a dusty person. Like he secretes it.
I'm appreciating the ooc guidance, GM
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Harada nods, writes McGuffin in big letters in his notebook next to 3 little crudely drawn books, and then circles it for good measure.
Harada then notes out loud "With goblins about I'm sure there'll be plenty of heroics to impress the mayor with, or at least oversized rat catchin' that needs doing."
Knowledge Geography: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
Knowledge History: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Carson smiles as he watches Harada write in his notebook. He can spell with word McGuffin but can't spell the word book. This is going to be a fun trip.
"I have a couple of things to pick up before we head out so I will meet you at the ship."
Without waiting for anyone to replay Carson slips out of the room.
I have revised my equipment list.
Well thank you Captain Ambrus for that insight she smiles back at the Captain.
I didn't catch your name good sir, but I think we may just have to wait till we get there I suppose. I'm with Carsoon though, be best to prepare. Yes Gregoore we should keep us secret from them. I would love to look for some rare herbs while I'm there, less attention the more I can search around.. Kayan stands, not so eloquently as she almost trips over the chair she was sitting in. Meet you all at the ship later.
Is it possible to sneak into the Mayor's room and copy texts while she is away?
Ambrus shrugs, "Fine by me, but remember, that's only half the job."
"Win the locals trust, give them warm, fuzzy feelings about the society... so, if you're going to break any laws, don't get caught."
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Carson looks back at Harada as he is leaving and says, "If we can't tell them that we are from the Pathfinder Society it might be a little hard to make them proud of it. Let's just get there and see what is going on. We can figure out the best way to get the information from the books at that point."
I prefer the diplomatic option, but I'm just getting other options out there, gotta have a plan B. I'm ready when you all are.
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Your journey passes uneventfully, although it does allow a few days for everyone to get to know each other.
Once you arrive in Saringallow see map (link above my avatar) for major landmarks you find the town in something of a lull. A few traders pause on the journey downriver but the locals seem taciturn and uncertain of strangers.
One guard on the docks gives you a shrug and some advice, "Afore y' go stirring up trouble int hills, you'll do well to doff y' caps wit mayor. An don't expect any fussin' an arms-round-the-shoulder if them goblins knock you about a bit n' all." He rolls his eyes, "Seen plenty of your sort."
Saringallow is your oyster...
Carson listens to the guard and wonders what language he is speaking.
I think he said something about offing the mayor or capping the mayor but that can't be right. Grel understood him so I will follow his lead.
|Harada "The Hammer"|
The guard relaxes a little, happy to be listened to, and called 'chief'. He gives you simple directions to the Town Hall and you soon arrive.
When you do, a factotum leads you quickly to the mayor's office. She has, it seems, been expecting adventurers:
Strap in for some serious box-text!
The plush red carpet and oak furniture upholstered with velvet lend this room an air of comfort, but it’s also clearly a place of official business, with several layers of administrative papers, staff memos, maps, and charts covering the wide surface of the solid desk in the center. From her tall-backed chair behind her desk, Mayor Sandra Trinelli looks up, shaking herself out of a deep concentration. A subtle look of relief flashes across her face as she motions to the oversized chairs in front of her.
“Normally, I’d exchange more pleasantries with my guests, but I fear there is no time,” she says. “The business that brought you here is quite urgent—it may actually be a matter of life and death.
“Let me explain. You may have heard that several young apprentices from various establishments in Saringallow have disappeared in the last couple of weeks. Every one of them has failed to show up to work, and nobody seems to know where they’ve gone.
“That’s not all. Rumors are spreading about sightings of enormous insects roaming about town. So far, the townspeople have chalked up such rumors to overactive imaginations, but I fear they might be real, and that they might have something to do with the missing apprentices. I have no proof that the situations are connected, but if folks get that notion into their heads, things are bound to spiral out of control.”
She shifts nervously, as if avoiding an uncomfortable implication, before continuing.
“Please, I implore you to look into this matter quietly and thoroughly—find out where our apprentices have gone and discover the cause of our vermin problem. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have investigated every possible angle; we need to be absolutely sure that we know who or what is responsible before we take any necessary law enforcement actions.
“I suggest you start by interviewing the masters of every missing apprentice on this list I’ve compiled. I suspect that, collectively, they might shed some light on the youngsters’ whereabouts. That could in turn illuminate our vermin problem, but until we have more information, I caution you against suggesting to anyone that the two situations are connected. Beyond that, though, you have my full cooperation in this matter. If anyone gives you guff about your line of questioning, show them this letter.”
The mayor pushes a scrap of paper with several names scribbled on it across her desk, as well as a rolled-up, ribbonbound letter written on thick parchment.
“As far as an incentive,” the mayor says, “If it's coin you're after, I’ve pooled together 50 gold pieces as a reward for each apprentice you manage to find and rescue, as well as an additional 100 gold pieces if you can determine the cause of our vermin problem—and eliminate it. Do we have a deal?”
Kayan shrugs her shoulders and is still in shock that Captain Brandiis was wrong about how welcoming the mayor of the town really is. What explicit luck, an easy way to get into their good graces.
Mayor I'm pretty sure my companions would agree we would be more than happy to help you.. Kayan looks around the room at her companions.
Oh and by the way ma'am, do you know which of the apprentices were taken first? And who had last seen the vermin? Or any other advice you may have to get us started?
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
The Mayor adjusts her cuffs, "Taken? I'm not sure what's happened to them. I don't have any idea when they disappeared beyond 'the last few days'. Unfortunately, I have been unable to investigate: that's what I am hoping you can do for me."
Mayor Trinelli moves over to the window, "I would start with the employers. They know their apprentices better than anyone, and they're easy to track down. Not everyone here will answer their doors to a stranger, but the shopkeepers and craftspeople will always talk to visitors to their workplace." She gives the group a thoughtful look, "Ildris is pretty easy-going, maybe start with him: Ildris Ruvarra, our cleric." A thin smile plays across her lips for a moment, "Or maybe it's better to call him Old Deadeye's cleric."
You got yourself a deal. I mean we are dealing with vermin, and rescuing people, pretty easy.
|Harada "The Hammer"|
I wonder who she thinks we are?
"I am sure that we can turn up something but I have to ask, what is keeping you from investigating these disappearances? Is there another problem that we should know about? It might be that we can help with that too. While looking for these people we might uncover something that would help you with any other problems."
"I would also like to know if you have anyone else looking for the apprentices. Maybe we can contact them to compare notes".
Carson looks over the list of people and tries to make a connection but nothing comes to mind right away.
"Can you tell us age and gender of the missing people and whether thy have family in town?
Picking up his pack he says, "We will also need a place to stay while we are in town. Does the Witch's End Tavern have room for rent. We could start there since they have one of the missing apprentices."
The Mayor smiles a little at Johnny and Harada's enthusiasm but is all business when she turns to Carson's queries.
“I would investigate further, but you can see how busy I am.” Mayor Trinelli gestures to the mess of documents around her. “And if I were to step away, my absence would soon become obvious. On top of that, I’d have to involve a least a small contingent of the guard—they’re a talkative lot who would no doubt reveal the nature of my inquiries. You see how my hands
are tied. I need help, preferably outside help. You seem like the perfect candidates.”
Trinelli pauses as if unsure whether to continue, before taking a resolute swig from the large mug of tea on her desk. “As you likely know, the people of Saringallow are a superstitious lot, and with good reason—our community has been through its share of hardships, particularly when it comes to our vulnerable youth. If folks begin to assume that foul play is behind the apprentices’ disappearances, they might decide to mete out justice against an innocent person. Or if they come to believe the two situations are related, they may begin to suspect a diabolic or otherwise
foul influence, and there would be panic in the streets. Under no circumstances can I allow that to happen.”
"As for the apprentices, I know little of them as individuals: finding out just who they are may be part of your investigation. I have no agents at large: as I said, I don't want the guard away from the walls and this is not their line of work."
"And the Witch's End is a fine place to stay, popular with all sorts of travellers: show Alcie that letter and she'll give you a couple of days without charge."
"I think we should head over to the Witch's End first. Sea travel is great but I would like to get cleaned up and have a decent meal before we go off an start questioning people."
He looks at Johnny and Harada, "You two are armed to the teeth. We are not here to beat the information out of anybody....yet. We want these people to like us so let's not approach anyone like we are looking for a fight."
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Witch's End Tavern is hard to miss: a sign depicting a dark-haired figure burning at the stake hangs over the door of the building.
Upon entering, the smell of rich, flavorful cooking washes over you for a moment until the whole of your attention is absorbed by an imposing woman, clearly the proprietor, who marches out from behind the bar and begins shaking your hands and clapping you on your backs with the hearty fist-pumps of a woman well over six foot tall and stoutly built.
"Welcome t' Witch's End. Introduce y'sen an' we'll get some reet tasty scram down y'r gullets."
Meanwhile, as your eyes adjust to the dimmer light within, you notice a rather busy early-lunch crowd. Clearly the tavern is popular.
Among the tables of merchants, stevedores and caravan guards a few games of chance are played but the buzz of light conversation and appreciative eating fills the tap-room.
Few raise their eyes at the greeting, clearly this is the tavern-owners usual introduction.
That sounds wonderful! It's me Kayan Leafwalker she courtsey's with a grin I'm famished and would love some food. My oh my the ole establishment is doing well, I'm so enthused. It looks wonderful, surely the food is still as wonderful as ever? I mean it oozes with an aura of home as always! I don't know about my friends but I so want to eat. Where do I sit friend? I mean you do remember Kayan?She puts one hand on her hip and looks at the innkeeper.
Diplomacy to win over innkeeper: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
This local dialect is going to take some getting used to.
Carson shakes hands with the proprietor, "As my Dwarven associate said we need rooms since we will be in town for a few days while we look into some things for the mayor. Our first priority is a meal since the cook on the ship that brought us here only knew one recipe."
He looks around the room for a table that will hold the group, "Would it be possible for us to get a table to ourselves. The place seems busy and I don't want to cause any trouble asking someone to leave their seat to make room for us."
I'll probably just go with the dialect until I feel like the locals insular sense of identity is fully established, then I'll drop it.
The big woman's eyes narrow, "Well, that be reet dandy. Now me name's Alcie Kruptin an' this be me tavern. Savvy?" She folds her arms and gives the group a frown, before jerking her thumb toward a large table in a corner, partially cut off by a screen, "Y' orta be askin' that high 'n' mighty t' shift to a smaller table. Then ever'one 'll be a mite jollier."
She turns to help some patrons at another table, but clearly has half an eye on your group as she does so and makes no attempt to hide it.
A lone merchant sits at the table, seemingly oblivious to the seven empty seats around him and the plethora of smaller tables he could have sat at.
|Harada "The Hammer"|
Carson shrugs, heads over to the table with the merchant and sits right next to him.
He asks a passing serving girl for a tankard of ale and waits for his companions to join him.
I am having some fun with the dialect so you don't have to change it. I am just role playing Carson through it.
Kayan walks over and sits with everyone else, on her way she politely asks the serving girl for food and ale. She proceeds to stand next to the merchant with a flourish, that ends up not being so regal.
Hello friend, may I sit next to you and enjoy your good company and possible conversation on this decent day
If he does, to keep story going
She sits with a delicateness of a rabble
Good to find you! where do you hale from? Come here often? We just got dumped with a wallop of an adventure by the mayor ... finding people and vermin, real swell
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
If he says no I'll sit a few chairs down and say the same thing, LoL
"Oh, um, err, I was just going..."
The man quickly leaves.
Alcie, meanwhile, grins at your non-confrontational solution to the problem.
Speaking to tables as she passes
Alcie soon approaches your table, "Y'll be havin' stew. It's delicious." She chews over the word, enjoying its grandeur, "delicious"
Then she leans against the edge of the screen, her body blocking even more of the tap-room from your view, and aks, "Wos this 'bout mayor then?"