Kicking things off. Will take things a bit slower over the weekend for introduction and orientation.
You find yourself in Lastwall, meeting with the Venture-Captain Shevar Besnik in the back room of the Ace of Dreams, a gambling house that serves as the Pathfinder Society’s Uscalin Lodge.
Loud and raucous conversation filters through the door from the common room of the Uscalin Lodge, which doubles as the Ace of Dreams gambling house. “I know it’s here. I had it just a moment ago.” Venture-Captain Shevar Besnik lifts piles of papers and numerous boxes off of his desk, stacking them on various side tables and chairs in his clean but overly cluttered office. The tall, Varisian man’s face parts in a toothy grin as he lifts up a solid oak box. “Found it!” As if to punctuate his discovery, a crowd of players in the gambling hall erupts in cheers. Distracted for a moment, Besnik stares at the closed office door that leads to the common room. “Desna laughs. Well, she laughs at me, but she smiles on them.” The venture-captain shrugs. “All they have is gold; what I have in here is far more valuable.”
Besnik opens the box’s lid painstakingly slowly, careful to keep the contents out of sight. With reverence, he lifts a large tome from the box and gently sets it on the table. “Careful, the binding hasn’t held up well. This is one of the few Tomes of Righteous Repose left in the world. I’m pretty sure there’s one in the library of the Sancta Iomedaea in Vigil, but I’m—well, let’s just say I’m no longer welcome there. That’s a story for another time."
“Up until today, I’ve only skimmed the pages. I didn’t want to damage it, but now that you’re here, I can’t wait any longer. Care to plumb the depths of this most ancient and wonderful storybook? Oh, the marvelous adventures we will soon read! This tome is a collection of tales describing how various crusaders died gloriously and honorably. I’m hoping to find some clues in the text that will lead us to an as-of-yet undiscovered site or relic. Maybe we can trade a bit of what we find with the Knights of Ozem and earn ourselves some goodwill. After what happened last time, we need it."
“Care to peruse the pages with me?”
A tall, tan-skinned woman in light armor and desert garb enters. Her eyes, while dull and half-shut, pulse with a bright light. She leans on a staff and smiles to the assorted company. "Let us see what mysteries lie within," she intones. "I am Alahazra, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am sure the Flame will guide us to success in whatever venture this entails. Before we begin, though: What happened last time that drew the ire of these Knights?"
A lithe elven man with flowing white hair listens intently as the man speaks his peace. An oversized centipede scurries about the room a moment before settling between his legs.
Frowning at the words of the armored man, he turns to him. "Dear sir, there are quite a many things one can learn from a book. Things that may even keep you alive."
"Besnik, the young lady has quite a proper point. Should we be wary of your previous encounter with the tomb? Are there perhaps a few precautions we should take before we dive in?"
He offers a slight bow to Alahazra. "I'm Manathiel, and my insectoid companion here is Sly."
Standing to the side is a heavily bearded human wearing leather armor covered in many pouches and bottles. He puffs on a pipe as he listens to the report. He has a long spear propped against the wall and a dagger at his belt.
He offers a nod to each of the others.
"Roderick is the name, by the by. A pleasure to meet the rest of you, at least while we are yet in civilized confines of this parlor. I am certain this business with the book is going to take us somewhere altogether less comfortable than sitting in a stuff chair musing at historic tales in a forgotten time. ."
He takes another puff.
"I can hardly wait to hear the details unraveling for us ."
Shevar looks perplexed at Manathiel, before piping up, "Oh, no, the uh... episode with the Knights had nothing to do with the tome. You know the Knights of Ozem. They’re an order of Iomedaean knights. Not a terribly exciting bunch. Based in Vigil, a military fortress that serves as the capital of Lastwall. It’s a sacred site for worshipers of Iomedae, and it produces more new paladins each year than any other place I know of... Wait, where was I? Oh yes, the incident. Have you heard of the Boartusk Twins? Heard that they loved hanging out at the Wounded Wisp back in Absalom, if you've been there. Garl and Shrade saved the lives of one of my teams a few years back, so I offered them field commissions. Then they got us in trouble by using wayfinders like badges of authority, and in process, offended quite a number of high-ranking Knights. Somehow, they blame me! Well, I was the Boartusks' ranking officer and I did offer them the field commission. I shipped the two of them back down to Old Mutton Chops for some training, but the damage is done. Gaining the Knights’ trust again is taking time.” He lets out a deep sigh, then shrugs his shoulders. "Oh well, what can you do."
Will wait for everyone else to check in before proceeding. I suspecet with the ending of the special and the forum going down, some might take a while to get in.
"Perhaps entry into the Society and the standard training involved therein would have been more appropriate," Alahazra muses. She seems to be shutting her eyes during blinks rather longer than is the norm. "I would not have offered a field commission so readily to one whose dedication to our organization was not fully known. But you are not at fault. Besides, what has already happened cannot be altered, little point in wasting time on grief and speculation. Shall we?" She turns back to the book.
Pulling out a pen and piece of parchment, the elf dips the quill into a jar of ink. With a nod, he announces "I'm ready."
Pen poised over his page, Manathiel stands alert for the man to begin his reading.
"I am called Li Shuo," says the Tien man wearing loose robes and carrying a simple bow. "I am an archer."
That said, he waits calmly for what follows.
"So where exactly do we fit in this operation? Are you suggesting a trip to lastwall to patch things up? If this will require a glib tongue and sweet words, we may need someone with those unique skills sets. I have been told I am not gifted with a charming personality ."
Have pm'ed Jasmine's player. Will move along.
"Ah, no, no, nothing so dramatic. But then again, who knows?" Shevars replies rather enthusiastically. "I was merely hoping that, with your assistance, we might find some clues in the text of this ancient tome that could lead to some undiscovered relic or ancient site of the early crusades. If we do, and share this with the Knights, it might uh.... thaw things a bit. Do you have any more questions? If not, shall we begin?"
Some of you might already have some information about this Tome of Righteous Repose and its author.
(Based on the result of a Diplomacy check to gather information, a Knowledge (local) check, or a Linguistics check, you learn all of the information whose DC is equal to or less than the result of their check.
Some of you may already know of the history of Lastwall.
(Based on the result of a Knowledge (history or religion) check, you know all of the information whose DC is equal to or less than the result of their check.)
Jasmine steps in from the common gambling room.
Sorry loves, I was in the middle of a hand and couldn’t get pulled away. The lucky bastard beat me on the river, next time I suppose.
You see a blonde woman with daggers draped around her waist. Her hazel eyes sparkle as she gets settled in.
She gets a recap and tries to recall information on the tome.
local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Can’t say I’ve heard of the book you got with you
Roderick considers what he knows with a puff on his pipe.
Kn:local : 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
"I am afraid I am even less versed on the subject than you, m'lady."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (9) + 12 = 21
Knowledge (religion): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
"That is most of what I know too, friend Slade. Although I have heard rumors this gnome knew Iomedae before she took the Test," Alahazra notes as she wracks her memory for information. "Would we still seek to catalogue this site, if one was found, before turning it over? To do otherwise would just be misuse of knowledge."
Linguistics: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (15) + 13 = 28
K Religion: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Nodding as the others share their recollections, he raises a finger and adds "Lastwall I believe is what formed from those left after the crusade against Tar-Baphon. An interesting note, he rose as a Lich upon his death...they now focus on keeping him and Belkzen locked away."
"As for your hopes here, good sir, I would be pleased to assist. I don't get to opportunity to research as I used to, since joining the ranks. All this adventuring...sometimes its nice to just pour over a nice tome. Please, read on. I'll take notes."
"Alright, fantastic! Let's get started, shall we?" With that, he waves for all of you to gather round the book and very gingerly, flips open the cover, and together starts going through the book.
The Pathfinders come across a significant piece of art next to one of the poems in the Tome of Righteous Repose. The piece depicts three samurai in a Minkai art style. (see picture in maps and handouts)
Venture-Captain Besnik reacts strongly to this piece, jolting upright. “Minkai art! Let’s see, the Minkai Empire was founded in 3619, and the empire’s first explorers didn’t reach the west coast of the continent until at least 3691 ar, which leaves only sixty years before the beginning of the Shining Crusade itself. These women could have been among the first Minkai citizens to reach the Inner Sea! Let’s see, what secrets does the poem on this page hold?” He then reads the poem aloud. (Also found at handout #1 at maps and handouts)
Sonnet of the Shattered Sword
Stranglegut are legion, forces of death,
Soldiers of the lich who were promised might.
A bold samurai struck forth; in a breath
A thousand orcs struck down before her sight.
From tow’ring giant green, a challenge thrown;
The chieftain Slarg upon the bloody field
That she would stand in front of him alone
And not for less than death would either yield.
With cries of faith cast to the rising sun
The brave samurai charged and met his steel
Her blade she shoved beneath his ribs, she spun
A scratch from poisoned blade forced her to keel
In Torag’s house the elf was last interred.
With view of Kala’s Tears, her peace insured.
"Hmm, can't say the poetry is particularly inspired, and the meter is uneven at times. But, more important is the content and the clues it offers! So it seems this Minkai samurai died in battle, victim to orcs’ treachery." Shevar starts speaking more animatedly and excitely. "If we can locate this ruin and retrieve the samurai’s remains and her blade, we can present them to the Knights of Ozem for proper burial! That would go a long way to mend the ties between them and the Society! Ok, now let's examine this poem again. Any ideas on where her internment might be? From the time period of this poem, this orc invasion must have been in orc territory of the Hold of Belkzen, but where exactly?”
Some of you might know more about Belkzen.
(Based on the result of a Knowledge (local or geography) check, you recall all of the information whose DC is equal to or less than the result of your check.)
Some of you might have come across the “Sonnet of the Shattered Sword.” Variations of the sonnet have spread as heroic tales, but the truth behind the story and its origin had been shrouded in mystery.
(Based on the result of a Knowledge (history or local) check,you recall all of the information whose DC is equal to or less than the result of your check.)
As you dive in to re-read and analyse the poem, you dig into your memory and your experiences, trying to draw connections and locate some piece of identifying information in the poem.
(I need a Knowledge (geography), Survival, or other relevant skill check if you can convince me of its relevance, to pick up clues from the poem of the location of the internment site.)
K (Local): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
K (History): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
K (Geography): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
Thumbing his chin, the elven man considers the poems words. "Belkzen is a wasteland essentially. The cities that remain are within the left over forts from the Shining Crusade. A crusader did fight through the horde and take out Tar-Baphon, leaving the Stranglegut Clan in shambles."
"Now...if you put it all together...perhaps..."
Feel free to read the 3 spoilers for the first one and the first two on the second for specifics - I would share the information with all
Knowledge (history): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
"I must profess ignorance on this subject," Alahazra admits. "A problem I am sure will be rectified shortly. Thank you for this wealth of knowledge, Manathiel."
Manathiel recalls that the Stranglegut clan was a prominent horde of orcs allied with the Whispering Tyrant; in their day, they controlled the orc’s largest settlement, Urgir. Kala’s Rage was the name of a massive waterfall in Belkzen, 40 miles east of Urgir. Over time, the mountains became dry and the waterfall slowed to a trickle, earning the waterfall the name Kala’s Tears. Pulling all these together, it is clear - the location of the samurai's remains, and hopefully her katana, must be within a dwarven temple that is within view of the Kala's Tears waterfall!
Assuming that Manathiel shares what he knows...
"Fantastic! Brilliant! Of course, now that you mention it, it is obvious. There are a number of ruins scattered about that entire region, but this narrows it down tremendously! Oh I'm so excited. Ah, but I can't leave. This gambling house is not going to run itself. Please, you have to go on my behalf. Find this dwarven ruins, locate the samurai's remains and hopefully her blade as well. What a finding this would be!" Before you even have time to respond, he rushes out of the room, yelling out, "Wait here!"
In a minute or two, he rushes back into the room, his arms laden with miscellaneous items which he drops unceremoniously onto the table. "Here, this are some of the items I can spare. Take them, make use of them to find this site! Oh my, how exciting." He seems to have taken for granted that you are going. He then happily skips out.
Make any last minute purchases before departing, in approximately 8 hours' time.
Once you have completed your preparations, you depart for the Hold of Belkzen. The journey takes 13 days, all but the last 2 days of which pass through Lastwall. The last settlement you pass is Castle Firrine, a fortified town on the border between Lastwall and the Hold of Belkzen. Within Belkzen itself, you occasionally hear the echoes of orc war drums in the distance, but do not run in to any significant danger.
Guided by Manathiel's study of the geography of the region, he guides the party towards Kala's Tears, which over the centuries have largely dried to a trickle. The waterfall is sited within a deep crevasse within the mountains, and although not visible from outside, once you come to the foot the once-raging waterfall, a cave entrance is obvious about halfway up the mountain face, and very well hidden are a set of uneven steps that climb there.
The steps lead you to a wide ledge in front of the entrance. Hot winds blow ash through the air; it collects against the rocky wall of this ancient structure. Four stone columns mark the entrance, where a fifteen-foot-wide stair descends into darkness.
maps and handouts updated. The whole region is in complete darkness so I need to know your light situation. Also, if any of you have a wayfinder, let me know how you're carrying it.
As Slade and Li Shuo reaches the bottom of the flight of stairs, those with extremely keen ears hear the drawing of a bowstring! From out of the range of your light, an orcish voice calls out in Common approximately 60ft away. "Halt! These ruins are claimed by the Rotten Tongue clan. You have 6 seconds to turn around right now or we will fire!"
(I'm assuming 30ft radius light sources and I don't think any of you have darkvision. Otherwise, I'll retcon my post accordingly.)
I have darkvision, but I can't see beyond 30 feet, so I don't believe it changes anything.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
"Now, now, this needn't get violent," Alahazra gently chides both parties, though she can see little beyond hers. "Instead, may I come forward? I'm afraid I cannot see you, and I have no ill intentions. Here-" The human affixes her staff to her backpack and sets the lot down on the floor, "-I have lain down my weapons. Will you do the same?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14
I'll cast Dancing Lights - and keep refreshing it for now
"Sir...or ma'am...My companion here is correct. We are simple travelers on a mission of exploration. We don't have any need to harm you or yours."
Diplomacy Aid?: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (13) - 2 = 11
Take it that the rest are not acting. By the way, forgot to mention that if you have any prebuffs before entering the caves (hr/lvl and 10min/lvl only), including the light issue, go ahead and do your retro-post for them. Manathiel, I'll count your dancing lights as having the full duration of 10 rounds left. Have placed a yellow marker for it.
The voice from the darkness grunts. "I warned you! This is our teritory!" Without any further warning, you hear an audible *twang* as an arrow flies out of the darkness, plunging into Li Shuo's shoulder.
who? 1=Li Shuo: 1d2 ⇒ 1
longbow vs FF: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26 dmg: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
init, Manathiel: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (11) + 9 = 20
init, Alahazra: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
init, Slade: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
init, Li Shuo: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
init, Jasmine: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
init, Roderick: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
init, orc: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14
I'm going to reveal the map 'cos I think the first thing that Manathiel will do is send the dancing light towards the voice as a free action.
As the four glowing will-o-wisps fly down the wide corridor, you can see that it extends for another 20 feet or so before opening up to a large chamber. There's a large dais in the centre but you pay scant attention to it. Instead, your attention is drawn to the lone orc standing at the entrance to the chamber, his longbow drawn, ready to fire again.
Bold may act
Round 1: Status: Nil
Li Shuo (37/47)
Manathiel would have used Mage Armor Wand
"We tried to be nice. It seems you have a desire to die though. It's too bad really." states Manathiel as he moves forward down the hallway. Stopping short of the ranged attacker, he mumbles a few words as a ball of brown liquid forms in his hands.
"Ngokucophelela manje, kungaba yinto ehlazo uma uhamba!" As he finishes his incantation the brown fluid between his hands suddenly appears beneath the archers feet. "We ask you again, don't let this resort to violence. We can handle this another way."
Cast Grease - Reflex DC 18 or he falls prone --> Marked grease location with brown square
"Careful now, it'd be a shame if you slipped!"
Alahazra remains where she stands, but is poised to move. "If we are forced to fight, I must get closer to see," she says. "I would thusly appreciate if someone bigger and stronger than I could accompany me."
Delaying to see what Slade does, if he moves closer on his turn I will come out, move to the square marked with the circle, and cast Command (DC 15) on Red to halt.
Li Shuo is aware of the side passages. As he jogs past them, he may change his subsequent actions if he notices a threat down any of those suspiciously-placed passages.
Hustling forward, Li looks right and left down the side passages.
Li fires once at the orc.
Jade Dragon Bow and point-blank range: 1d20 + 10 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 10 + 1 = 15
Nonlethal damage: 1d8 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 4 + 1 = 7
My bad, the orc was holding a composite shortbow, not longbow.
Alahazra, I'm not sure if you noticed that Slade's initiative is after the orc. I'll interpret your actions based on your intent, and since Li Shuo moved forward, I'll take your action.
Li Shuo, no danger from side passages.
Jasmine, from there, the orc still has cover from you.
Jasmine steps forward, releasing a bolt from her crossbow. It flies true, but unfortunately with the the orc partially behind the corner, the bolt glances of the wall and falls onto the patch of grease. Li Shuo similarly races forward, and fires an arrow in retaliation. Despite the closer proximity and clear shot, the orc manages to duck out of the way in time. Alahazra moves forward beside Li Shuo until she can finally see the orc. Calling upon her divine power, she siezes the mind of archer, even if just briefly, preventing him from acting.
will: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14
Orc is halted, so no actions from him.
Bold may act
Round 1: Status: Nil
Li Shuo (37/47)
Roderick moves up and mixes a quick shock bomb he readies to hurl if more orcs appear or the one starts moving. He will exclude allies from the blast if needed.
Is it just the one foe?
for Shock dmg : 3d6 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (3, 5, 6) + 3 + 1 = 18 5'r splash, 6 elec dmg (DC14 for half).
Moving towards the end of the hall, Manathiel glances into the open room Relieve to see no other enemies, he moves towards the object in the center of the room.
"I do hope when you are able to make your own choices again, you'll decide fighting us isn't wise." offers the elven man. "I much prefer exploration over fighting. But if you force my hand, I can turn you to dust." Turning his attention to the item in the room, he tries to identify it.
Knowledge?: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
+1 more if it's a K (Arcana) - all other Knowledge skills are just +10
Resolving Manathiel's knowledge check first.
Atop the stepped dais is a gargantuan humanoid skull that glows with an eerie blue light.
You missed the first but can attempt the second.
On the other side of dais, a wagon with a broken axle leans against the southern wall. Damaged wooden crates spill out from the cart onto the floor.
Manathiel, you still have a standard action left?
K Local: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (11) + 10 = 21
Missed that one too... Double move to get there
-Posted with Wayfinder
I noticed, I was just trying not to be the closest to him, as more of a squishy. I did realize that idea had a problem too, though, so this works fine.
Behind the relative safety provided by Slade, Alahazra taps the man's back to empower him. "As my companions say, it would be preferable for us all to stop this fighting. We are willing to do that at any time, we're simply waiting on you to see reason."
Casting guidance on Slade.
Botting Li Shuo and Jasmine.
Li Shuo moves to the corner of the dais and gets a clear shot at the orc. At such close range, the arrow slams at great speed into the side of the orc's head.
jade dragon bow, PBS, non-lethal damage: 1d20 + 10 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 10 + 1 = 231d8 + 4 + 1 + 1d6 ⇒ (7) + 4 + 1 + (1) = 13
Jasmine moves forward, but is unable to find a clear shot. She takes it anyway. Again with her allies in her way, she is unable to aim well and the bolt misses.
bolt: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 121d8 ⇒ 8
acrobatics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
The orc ignores all your warning to stand-down and steps out of the grease patch away from Slade. (Slade may take AoO.) He fires an arrow at Li Shuo as soon as he is out of the area and despite the cover provided by the dais, the arrow punches straight into his chest. He then continues moving to the opposite end of the room, entering the southern corridor.
The orc has shot on the run and 40ft movement.
shortbow vs Li Shuo, PBS: 1d20 + 10 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 10 + 1 = 291d6 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 4 + 1 = 6
The stairs of the dais is difficult terrain and the dais provides cover.
Bold may act
Round 2: Status: Nil
Slade (AoO, guidance)
Li Shuo (31/47)
Roderick will move up and hurl an explosive bomb at the retreating orc archer.
I say! Awfully rude to shoot and leave.
Bomb, range: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
for Explosve dmg : 3d6 + 3 ⇒ (2, 6, 6) + 3 = 17 10'r splash, 6 fire dmg (DC14 for half).
With an audible sigh, Manathiel climbs up the stairs and slips past the glowing skull. "We tried to be nice. We can't permit you to regroup with others and ambush us later."
With an incoherent incantation and a quick motion of his hands, a glob of green liquid forms before the elf. Pointing towards the fleeing man, it flies across the room.
Acid Splash, PBS: 1d20 + 5 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 5 + 1 = 22
Damage, PBS: 1d3 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
"I can see so little, but even I can spot the problems here," Alahazra groans. "Problems we sadly have to remedy. Come back here! Slade, I'm bringing him to you."
Casting Command again, DC 15. This time to approach.
AOO, Guidance: 1d20 + 8 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 8 + 1 = 14
1d8 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Slade moves up and readies a strike as Alahazra tells her plan.
Power Attack: 1d20 + 7 - 1 ⇒ (16) + 7 - 1 = 22
1d8 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Despite the clumsy blow, Slade manages to slam his fist into the gut of the orc as it is carefully making his way out of the grease. (Hit because he is flat-footed.)
Roderick tosses his bomb from way across the room. The orc quickly presses himself against the wall and the bomb flies over his head into the other chamber. The electrical sparks that burst forth just fails to reach the orc.
Roderick, you didn't add the range penalties, right? He's 45ft away, so that's 3 range increments, so with a miss, the radius of 2 squares won't catch him in the splash area.
miss direction: 1d8 ⇒ 5
The orc, however, is unable to dodge out of Manathiel's small orb of acid, which lands on his shoulder, burning a small wound before it disippates.
Alahazra, seeing the retreating orc, moves closer til she can see him through her clouded vision, and wisely commands the orc to cease whatever it is doing and just approach her. The spell siezes the mind of the orc.
will: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
Slade, can you also roll an AoO? Other than your ready attack triggering, the orc when moving to Alahazra will trigger AoO from you. Man, her command spells are really messing with his hit-and-run tactics. :)
Bold may act
Round 2: Status: Nil
orc (-13, 13NL)
Slade (ready action)
Li Shuo (31/47)