The hull of the Grinning Pixie creaks and groans in the freezing waters of Kalsgard, at the mouth of the Rimeflow River. Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry, the half-orc captain of the vessel, shivers as she strides in to her well-furnished cabin and out of the bitter winds. A Varki woman clad in leathers and a snow leopard fur coat is already seated inside the cabin.
“Welcome to the Linnorm Kingdoms,” says Venture-Captain Calisro Benarry. She takes a long drag from a hip flask before continuing. “The North is no place for a free captain, but here we are. Oh, Kalsgard is fine—they’ve got stiff drink here—but you’ve got to head inland, where it’s even colder.” She pulls her mammoth-fur coat tighter across her body as she continues. “I hope you all weren’t planning to freeze to death and packed for the weather.”
“You’ve all heard of Jormurdun? Well, that dwarven sky citadel contained an artifact called the Sky Key. King Gutheran broke it into five pieces and gave four of them to his heirs as they fled the invasion, keeping the fifth for himself. One of Gutheran’s heirs, Naldak, traveled into what is now southwestern Irrisen and established a small town called Naldak’s Point. That’s where the trail goes cold. Most likely, Baba Yaga wiped them out when she invaded. The piece of the Sky Key and the ruins of Naldak’s Point are probably buried under a millennium of ice and snow, just waiting for someone—you—to go dig them out. I’ve packed you ten blocks of blackfire clay to make the task more manageable,” the venture-captain says, handing over a backpack stuffed with black bricks. “Don’t forget to take these with you.”
“You’re heading east, up the Rimeflow and Thundering Rivers, past the Grungir Forest, and into Irrisen. Desna smiles—the site is about half a day’s hike north of Dalun, a small trade city on the Irrisen border. Take a small river boat packed with supplies and a letter of trade, make nice with the city officials, and see if you can get permission to travel inland. Head to the site and find our missing Sky Key piece. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you recover signs that the royal family settled there.”
"Watch yourselves in Irrisen. Antagonizing the locals is like poking a sleeping ice bear in the eye, except the bear won’t kill you as quickly. The Society is not especially welcome in Irrisen, so try to keep what friends we have, and if you can, make new ones. With that it mind, I’ve hired a local to bring you safely to Dalun.” Venture-Captain Benarry gestures toward the Varki woman. “This is Haltani, and she will guide you into and out of Irrisen alive.”
The Varki woman springs to her feet gracefully and addresses the party. “It is always a pleasure to meet travelers from faraway lands. It is true that Irrisen is a harsher land than most. Keep your wits about you, and your journey should be profitable.”
"Thanks for the help!" says a hulking muscular inhuman creature clad in piecemeal metal armor in a surprisingly enthusiastic youthful voice. "I don't know about the others but I've never had a chance to kick tail this far north."
He offers the Varki woman a meaty handshake. "The name's Slamu. My friends call me Big Slamu"
Why oh why do I always get the hiking around missions?
Theophilus has been seasick this trip, and is never really fun company even when he can keep his food down.
Hey, how are we supposed to know if we find a sign of the royal family - I dunno about the rest of you guys, but I ain't exactly an expert on ancient Dwarven heraldry. Oh, and the blackfire clay - are we supposed to use that for digging or camping?
Theo's gonna need to buy some cold weather gear if we're going into the wilds. Definitely a Cold Weather Outfit, but maybe some snowshoes or similar as well - I'll have that finalized tonight
Long day at work and I had to take my cat to the vet, have to teach tomorrow morning so I will post in the PM. She will probably buy a few vials of alchemist fire and a potion or two of healing and a scroll or two
"Hello, fellows. My name is Baphos I. It is a pleasure to meet and work with you. It is my first time on this lands too." Baphos says it with a warm smile on his face.
I bought a Cold-Weather Outfit too. Actually, he is wearing it right now.
@Theophilus: no sample is available. And here are the possible knowledge checks before you start.
as it stays freezing year round. Powerful witches known as the White Witches rule the nation and allow monsters the same rights as humanoids. The human descendants of Baba Yaga are called Jadwiga, and are the aristocracy of Irrisen. Ulfen people who find themselves in Irrisen at the bottom of the social hierarchy; the fortunate are serfs, and the rest are slaves.
The Chelaxian woman dressed all in white arrives and with a once over of her companions listens to the VC.
dIPLMACY 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
"Haltani, is there something else we should consider in our travel to Naldak’s Point? Do you know what kind of creatures can we find there?
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Knowledge (history): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Forgot my manners.
"Greetings Haltani, I'm Declan. If I understand things right, we have a low chance of success and a high chance of death? This sounds interesting if nothing else." Declan offers his hand to the Varki woman. "And whose your friend?" Obviously meaning the feline at her feet.
"We'll be going to a small trade port with supplies and goods. Any suggestions for gifts for the city fathers that may help convince them of our good intentions?"
I assume that all the information in the boxes will be told by Haltani to us. So, feel free to read the information in the last 3 boxes. Baphos will tell everything he knows about this place.
"Fellows, let me tell you what I know about this cold place. This information I have gathered from books and conversations. Haltani, please, If I am wrong, correct me.
Irrisen is known as the Land of Eternal Winter, as it stays freezing year round. It is good to have a Cold-weather outfit and a blanket for the nights. Powerful witches known as the White Witches rule the nation and allow monsters the same rights as humanoids. The human descendants of Baba Yaga are called Jadwiga, and are the aristocracy of Irrisen. Ulfen people who find themselves in Irrisen at the bottom of the social hierarchy; the fortunate are serfs, and the rest are slaves.
Intelligent monstrous races, such as ice trolls and winter wolves, are citizens in Irrisen. We may find some of them in this trip. Though not as socially powerful as the Jadwiga, they command considerable respect and are often able to do as they please without consequence.
Recently, some younger Jadwiga have begun to question the insular culture and closed borders of Irrisen. They seek to learn about peoples outside of Irrisen, the more “exotic” the better. The White Witches have dubbed them the stilyagi, or “culture crows,” as they disregard the culture of Irrisen and mimic the cultures of other foreign lands. However, because they rarely have the opportunity to interact with foreigners, their depictions are often wildly outdated, stereotypical, and even downright offensive. We can use their curiosity to approach and get new friends.
@Declan: I think you missed the "fur coat" nature of the snow leopard.
Haltani responds to Baphos' question, “Not all of Irrisen is bad, but the land is dangerous. Ice trolls, snow goblins, or even winter wolves can accost unwary travelers. Dalun is safe, though; they accept outsiders and are eager for trade. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the city and have many contacts there.”
Captain Benarry hands a letter of trade to Declan, "Just this. You can use it to trade for goods in Dalun. Are there any other questions before you get started?"
"Theophilus, if you want to remain a member of the Pathfinder Society and avoid hanging from the yardarm for mutiny, you will explore Naldak's Point as ordered." Captain Benarry stares at the Varisian man for a moment, "And the Sky Key is worth a damn lot more than your life or warmth. Now, GET OFF MY SHIP!" The captain shoves a map into Declan's hands, then turns away and starts shouting orders to his sailors.
As you are loading the smaller river vessel, Haltani asks, "Do any of you know how to sail?"
"No, I don't know how to sail neither." Concern on Baphos' face. "Probably, we can change the letter of trade for some food and a sailor. What is the value of the letter?"
Haltani stares at Theophilus for a moment before shaking her head, "Yes, I have some skill with sailing."
Each night as you are setting up camp, Haltani approaches one of you in coversation, "Tell me about yourself and travels, please? I am always interested in other cultures."
You may use Diplomacy to befriend Haltani, Bluff to tell wild stories, Intimidate to appear tough or dangerous, or Knowledge (geography) to accurately recount your travels.
I'm Theophilus Flink, entrepreneur. And while I'm not much for sails, I'm a dealer in all kinds of goods, usually hard to acquire, one of a kind, type goods. Either that or the kind of goods where it's hard to say exactly where they came from. Lotta... estate sales.
Anyways, after some misunderstandings there were some unfair rumors still floating around the nobs and gaters of Korvosa that I'm some kinda genius burglar, so I figured it might be best to get out and see the world and what it has to offer me. Totally unfounded rumors, you can't really trust anyone born with a silver spoon, right?
But yeah, the Pathfinders are great! After all, if you find something shiny in an old tomb, or take it off some ogre, you rarely have to deal with the guards or angry relatives.
Diplomacy: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (1) - 2 = -1 Bluffing is for people with shame.
"I grew up on the streets of the great city of Magnimar running with the gangs. It was a harsh life, but exciting. And there were those who were good to me. I never knew my mom or dad, but I had family all the same. One of my earliest memories is this time that ....
"Anyway, in the course of events I made some enemies and had to leave, but Desna smiled on me and I met Caldwell. He trained me in magic" He casts Dancing Lights. "He showed me that all I had done before had prepared me for all that I had yet to do. I follow Irori. Every mission allows me to test my abilities and allows me the chance to be the one to uncover lost knowledge."
"I've told you of me. Now tell me of you."
Declan happily swaps tales of his life. He'll also ask more about what to expect in the road ahead.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
"So... You wanna know about me. Well... Let me tell you about my curses. They started just few months later than I was born. I often listen to voices, sometimes my toys and weapons move without a reason and things like that. I used to believe these things came from the Dark Tapestry, what a fool. These curses and my power forced me to abandon my home to keep my parents save. Draggus helped me to understand my powers and introduced me into the Pathfinders. Since then, I accomplished 4 missions with this amazing group. I helped a man who was possessed and walked while was sleeping. Solved a problem related to a Chelish family and his bad, bad son. Visited a haunted school and help a little girl to start her life as a Pathfinder. She has a ghost friend. That was awesome. And finally, I passed a test to become formally a Pathfinder. I hope you didn't get bored with this story. What about you?
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
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"There's not a lot to tell I'm afraid", Slamu says. "My brothers and I grew up in Alkenstar doing odd jobs for whoever would hire us - usually as muscle. That place kept us busy most of the time. We feuded for years with a no-good alchemist there by the name of Doctor Paradigm. Eventually the Doctor went to ground and things calmed down enough for us to start planning our futures. Things brought us to Absalom and eventually found my into the Society. You wouldn't know it from their name but the Pathfinder Society finds themselves in all kinds of fintastic scraps. This one time with the Aspis..."
Intimidate: 10 + 4 = 14
"Wow, you've had such hard lives. But joining the Pathfinder Society has helped all of you overcome that?" Haltani pulls a pale blue diamond necklace from under her furs and begins playing with it, "What kind of lost knowledge have you found, Declan? And Baphos, you're cursed! Doesn't that scare you?"
Haltani pauses to sip her hot tea after Slamu's story, then takes a deep breath and asks him, "What happened with the Aspis? And who are they?"
Baphos looks at Haltani with surprise. "I can't remember the last time I get scared with my curses. Sometimes they do funny things. Sometimes they have saved my life. I am learning to live wit them."
@Declan: Please add a stat bar to the top of your posts.
Initiative (Theophilus): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17
Initiative (Baphos): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Initiative (Slamu): 1d20 ⇒ 3
Initiative (GM): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Perception (Declan): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Perception (Theophilus): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Perception (Baphos): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
Perception (Slamu): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Profession (sailor): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Reflex (Declan): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Reflex (Theophilus): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Reflex (Baphos): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
Reflex (Slamu): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Reflex (Haltani): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
- Declan - prone
The trip passes uneventfully until the third week, when a bend in the river and several large rocks cause white-water rapids across most of the water’s breadth; only a narrow channel with a swift current flows without obstruction near the southern bank. Tall trees grow on either shore, casting shadows with their large overhanging branches.
A large net suddenly flies up out of the water, and Declan falls down when the boat catches in the net. Two men with javelins spring up out of hiding, ”Who are you? And why are you fools going into Irrisen?”
Theophilus and Baphos are up.
Is this a shakedown or a routine stop? Probably not bandits, bandits don't give you a warning..
Theophilus crouches down to shield himself behind the gunwale of the boat, eyeing Haltani to see if she was expecting this at all.
Good afternoon to you fine gentlemen. We're heading upriver to Dalun with this cargo. All perfectly legal and above board. Would you like to inspect our Letter of Trade?
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Sense Motive @ Haltani: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Profession (Merchant): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8 Attempting to help smooth a customs inspection along.
Sense Motive: 1d20 ⇒ 2
"Good day, fellows. We are not looking for any trouble. We are just traveling." Baphos keeps on feet, facing the man closest to him.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Theophilus can tell that Haltani is nervous, but that's not unusual given the sudden appearance of armed men. The leader responds to Baphos, "If you truly come in peace, then follow us to Whiterook and speak with our battle leader, Halvor. He will have questions for you, and perhaps some answers too."
Whiterook? Battle leader?
Theophilus turns to the rest of the party
What the hell's in Whiterook? Are they Irriseni or is this someone else?
Who are you guys?
"This is embarrassing." Declan lies on the deck for a few moments wallowing in the ignominy of being the only one to have fallen down. He sits up in the process of standing. "You attack our vessel then question if we come in peace? That is irony." He finishes standing. "We do come in peace and welcome the opportunity to parley with your battle master."
The village of Whiterook sits against a tall cliff wall. A line of close-growing birch trees and tangle of vines shield the village, acting as a natural palisade. One of the larger birches bears a carved bird, which lends the village its name. In the center of the village, a massive fire pit sits stocked with timbers and dry brush as if ready for a massive bonfire.
Several humanoid bodies hang naked in the trees outside the palisade. Hanging next to them is the skinned corpse of what appears to be a bear-sized wolf. Haltani mutters as you walk past the bodies, ”Savage butchers . . . monsters all.”
The guards lead you to the center of the village and introduce their leader, Halvor “Going into Irrisen expecting anything but death is folly. Ice and pain await you there; even if you live, you will have lost much by going there. Turn back. Abandon whatever fool’s errand has sent you.”
"It is so very kind of you to be concerned for our well being. However, we are capable explorers, skilled warriors, and learned men. So, we will listen to your advice, then be on our way into Irrisen."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21