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.”
Zhatara, gives the venture captain a smal bow before asking:"Thanks for the assistance Venture-Captain Benarry. We'll make sure to find this piece of the sky key. Just a small question, you mentioned signs of the royal family, I suppose you mean the dwarves who fleed the sky citadel? If so what are we looking for? Dwarven artefacts of some sort?"
Berato shakes uncontrollably, seemingly unable warm up properly. Between bouts of shivering, he adds, "And do you know if Naldak had daughters and sons of his own? did they live in accordance to the traditions of Torag?"
Even with his so-called "cold weather" gear on, the nagaji cannot help shivering in the frigid wetness. This environment is unlike anything he has ever experienced.
Rather than ask any questions, he just nods and tries to pull his hood even tighter around his face.
“Zhatara, yes, I mean the dwarven kings. Keep an eye out for signet rings or other jewelry stamped with the appropriate imagery.”
“I don't know much about Naldak's Point, Berato, or about its inhabitants. I found the name in an old book, and then found the location on this old Ulfen map that predates Irrisen. It’s mostly a dwarven town, so it was probably underground.”
A shy half-orc sits under a bundle of furs, his eyes nervously shift between the other Pathfinders gathered, as he fidgets uncomfortably. It's obvious that he is half-orc, but his features are much more human like than orc. And while he would be considered large for a human, he is fairly small compared to his orc brethren. He wears a worn breastplate that seems too small for his body, clearly made for a man of normal size. But his most striking features are the numerous tattoos and ritualistic scars that cover his body anywhere you can see exposed skin.
"I'm sick of the cold. I already hiked a damned mountain looking for some guys braid. Learned to always stay warm. I've heard Irrisen is worse and the people aren't friendly. What makes this king special anyways? And what's a Baba Yaga?"
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.
"Thank you Venture-Captain, I'll make sure to keep an eye open for such jewelry then"[b] then Zhatara turns towards Korug:[b]"I can't help you with your questions but I can tell you something about Irrisen..."
Knowledge (local) check: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Realizing she doesn't know nearly as much as she thought she did Zhatara resoves to ask around for accurate information...
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
And manages to learn a great deal about the place, knowledge she gladly conveys to her companions.
“He was the last dwarven king of Jormurdun, Korug. They call him Gutheran the Bold. When it became clear that Jormurdun would not survive a siege, he bought his people time to flee with a doomed last stand. Baba Yaga is head of the Jadwiga, and a powerful witch. Although she doesn’t rule Irrisen directly, I wouldn’t say anything negative about her once you get to Dalun. Legend has it, she only shows up every 100 years to put a new daughter on the throne, but she’s still pretty important to them.”
"He was worthy of the mantle of King. He who hides and cowers behind his people is not worthy of the honor. A King should see himself as a servant to his people, and when required, die for them."
Knowledge (History): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
The small Pathfinder Wayang had been hiding the entire time. He was a bard, it's true, but a very different type of bard; a worshipper of shadows and puppeteer, slowly Duskin move out of the darkness as he thinks about everything being discussed.
Finally, he shares the single extra piece of information he managed to gather, besides his companions.
We should be careful. - starts the Humanoid - There's a very violent history from the Jadwiga towards the neighbors, especially the Linnorn Kingdom humanfolk, the Ulfen... Including slavery.
"Spent some time on a boat in Tian Xia, but I'm no good at driving it. I can row if I have to though, that's about it." he shrugs as he nestles deeper into his furs.
Haltani seems a passable sailor, and handles those duties for the group. Each night as you are setting up camp, she 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 forgot about my Versatile Performance! My previous Diplomacy as actually 6 higher. No need to retcon, though, I'm just apologizing... I updated my sheet with the values of the Versatile Performance. Since I didn't have any ranks, Hero Lab simply suppressed the skills (so I added them manually)
Of course! - says the Wayang, which immediately starts telling his stories of adventures.
You're now part of these stories too, my friend. - he completed - ... And I shall tell others about your deeds. Thanks for your help sailing the boat for us, and for your company tonight!
Diplomacy (to befriend Haltani): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
The nagaji is huddled as close to the fire as he can get every night. At Haltani's prompting, he starts making up some stories of his supposed past, figuring them to be much more interesting than the truth.
bluff: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Unfortunately, no one seems to buy that he once singlehandedly killed and ate a tyrannosaur.
When asked about her past Zhatara usually likes to hint enigmatically about coming from Irrisen. All lies she effortlessly tells in order to keep her secrets but considering how she actually knows very little about the place they are entering, she opts to tell a story about one of the places she recently visited in service to the Society:"Why not? It's not like we've got anything better to do... so listen and listen well, little one for I'll tell you about Druma, where the roads are paved with gold and merchant houses put most king's palaces to shame. A magnificent place whose opulence is matched only by the greed and spiritual coldness of its masters..."
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Korug starts at the beginning, telling the tale of his first mission. The long journey to the Clouded Path Monastery atop the high peaks of the Wall of Heaven, deep within Tian Xia. He boasts about felling a raging yeti single handedly, while the rest of his companions cowered in fear.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
Initiative (Duskin): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Initiative (Hskroto): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Initiative (Korug): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
Initiative (Zhatara): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Initiative (GM): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Perception (Berato): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
Perception (Duskin): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Perception (Hskroto): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19
Perception (Korug): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Perception (Zhatara): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Profession (sailor): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
Reflex (Berato): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Reflex (Duskin): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Reflex (Hskroto): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8
Reflex (Korug): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Reflex (Zhatara): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Reflex (Haltani): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Haltani listens attentively to your stories, clearly impressed by several of the Pathfinders. In the third week of your journey, 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, blocking the river, and two men with javelins spring up out of hiding. ”Who are you? And why are you fools going into Irrisen?”
Everybody is up.
"Well met. We are here on a mission of exploration for the Pathfinder's Society. We have no quarrel with your people and no reason to wish you ill" says Zhatara solemnly.
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 10 + 2 = 26
Duskin smiles and shakes his head in agreement with Zhatara, quickly completing.
I couldn't have said better. - the bard starts, then concluding - Our mission is one of peace, and our voices those of Diplomacy. Please, release our boat so we can go on our way.
I'm sorry, I just saw one man on the map - is the other also close to us? Let's say, within thirty feet?
Korug manages to keep his balance somehow when the boat slams into the net. He lets the others do the talking, knowing he has a tendency to say the wrong thing. His hand moves closer to the grip on his bow but he does not grab it just yet, waiting to see how things go.
Zhatara considers her options carefully before answering:"We can do that, as long as you swear not to try to delay us further once this matter is resolved and you agree to make sure everyone understands we are your guest and not your prisoners".
Then she sighs nefore adding solemnly:"My name is Zhatara of the Pathfinder's Society. Before continuing this discussion I think it best for us to share our names. We come as friends and friends don't need to hide their identities from each other"
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 10 + 2 = 15
"As long as you keep the peace yourselves. There's really no need for us to fight, we have no quarrel with your people, and I don't see any reason to start a fight. As long as our jurney is not delayed everything will be fine" answers Zhatara.
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Korug makes no further movement towards his weapon, and follows along peacefully, thought not fully trusting in their new 'friends'.
The warriors wait while you secure the boat, then guide you to their home. The journey is short and uneventful.
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.”
As Haltani mutters her outrage for the fate of the Irriseni
Sense Motive check: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Zhatara nods at Halvor, signaling her respect for his position then answers:"Be as it may we've a duty to our brethen. Word once given cannot easily taken back, least we be called liars and cowards. Surely a man of honor as you understands that, lord Halvor..."
"That said we are not blind, nor stupid. We know our travel will be a venture fraught with peril and it seems you too are beset with trouble. What happened here, my lord? Why do the walls of your town display such a grisly spectacle? We'll welcome any aid you could offer... maybe we could help each others out..." adds Zhatara
Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
"We're heading to Naldak’s Point. If it's as dangerous as you say, we'd love to have some of your warriors come with us. we could use their blades and their knowledge of the land. Whatever we hunt and kill would be given to your village to thank you for the help."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
Still not fully trusting their hosts, Korug keeps his weapons close and a watchful eye on Halvor and his clan, trying to figure out if they have some hidden agenda.
Sense Motive: 1d20 ⇒ 12
Korug doesn't sense any danger or deceit.
“I know of Dalun and their claims of peace. I believed those claims myself, up until the last moon. They sent envoys to talk of trade, but as we were about to let them in, we were attacked by winter wolves, ice trolls, and a dozen Jadwiga soldiers.” He spits on the ground before continuing. “We slew enough of them to scare them off, but lost many good warriors. I just wished we had captured that Jadwiga witch while she was here, but she vanished into the night.”
"Halvor, do you know if these attackers were from Dalun? we've been given letters of trade and we're supposed to get permission from Dalun to move further north of there. If they are this much aggressive with their neighbors, it worries me to deal with Dalun officials... Haltani, what say you?" Berato turns to the guide to invite her to the conversation...