15th Rova, 4714
Built in the shadow of megaliths, Magnimar endlessly endeavours to surpass the overwhelming scale and grandeur of the ancient wonders that litter the Varisian landscape. A place of great opportunity,
social stress, and cold beauty, the city exudes the air of a southern metropolis, seeking to rise above its ignoble beginnings as a refuge for Korvosan outcasts to become a beacon of culture and freedom in an unforgiving land. Yet its towering monuments, elegant gardens, ostentatious architecture, and elaborate sculptures form but a cracked mask over a struggling government and a desperate people in need of heroes.
…heroes who, unaware of their impending destiny, are going about their normal business on this cool autumnal day when the letter that will change their lives forever, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Varisians, arrives…
Sealed in wax with the sigil of the Pathfinder Society, there can be little doubt as to where the message comes from…tentatively opening the letter, the script inside is elegantly written yet enigmatic in its content.
Greetings, fellow seeker of adventure!
I am Sheila Heidmarch, Venture Captain of the newest Pathfinder Society lodge—and the only such lodge in Varisia at this time. You have come to my attention as someone who possesses a certain amount of skills and interests that make you an excellent addition to a highly specialized team I’m putting together for a matter of grave import, not only to the Society, but to Varisia as a whole. Please report an hour before noon on the morrow to Heidmarch Manor—you will be compensated for your visit, but that reward will pale in light of the riches that await you should we come to an agreement on my proposition to you. I look forward to meeting you soon!
What your normal business is, how the message arrives and what you do between receiving the letter and travelling to Heidmarch Manor in the Alabaster District…is up to you…use it to introduce a little of your character to the other players (as they may not have read your posted back stories) and to help establish your character in Magnimar. The Player’s Guide identifies some areas (with high level outlines) within Magnimar…feel free to use that to tell your story
When you do arrive at the Heidmarch Manor, the gates are open and you can easily find your way across a courtyard to an elegantly decorated reception area.
A broad grin spreads across Teldon's narrow face as he reads the missive.
Arriving in Magnimar three days ago had been a bit underwhelming after growing up in Absalom but things were starting to look up...
"What's got you so cheery all the sudden, then?" the grizzled old man across the table barks.
After getting off the boat, the first thing Teldon had done was report to Heidmarch Manor to be entered in the Lodge's role. Since then he had been poking around the city- examining some of the famous monuments, looking into the availability of resources to non-students at the Stone of the Seers, and listening to any tales of adventure and discovery that anyone was interested in telling. That last one kept him occupied for many hours in the common room of the shoddy inn which was his current residence as there was no shortage there of aging men with tales of their own former greatness to tell. The one with whom he now sat was about to explain how the scar on his neck came about as a result of his run in with one of the Skinsaw men who had plagued Magnimar years ago and Teldon was genuinely interested in hearing this particular story.
"It seems my own opportunity for adventure has arisen. But, please, do continue... you were describing the particular alley in which the encounter occurred?"
That slight encouragement was all that was needed for the story to be launched back into with gusto. Teldon spends the rest of the evening listening attentively to a melange of tales from a menagerie of diners (and drinkers) before retiring at a reasonable hour. In the morning he prepares a few extracts, carefully tends to his adventuring supplies, makes a few notes in his journal, and heads to the Manor. His excitement and anxiety grow concurrently with each passing stride, and his heart is racing by the time he arrives in the reception area.
Why do they always think it's me? Nalathi thinks to herself as she ducks into a dark alley and freezes. The young and somewhat handsome son of the shopkeeper she'd just been visiting runs into the alley after her. "Get back here, you little thief!" he yells. He searches the small alley for her, even making direct eye contact with her. It was too late. Holding her breath, she had melded her body into the shadows; to human eyes, she was invisible. He passes her as he heads down the alley, just in time. She can only use her quasi-magic for so long. She releases her breath and gasps for air, darting back into the street and losing herself in the crowd.
She pats herself down just to make sure-- and her hand finds an empty powder horn that hadn't been there before. Damn. So it was me. She heads back toward the shop she'd just left, hoping to find a way of slipping the horn back onto the shelf without anyone noticing. Her other hand finds an envelope sticking out of a pocket. Pulling it out, she notices it's addressed to her. Strange. How'd that get there? She turns it over and notices the wax seal. Her eyes widen. "A mission!" she says aloud in excitement, then clamps a hand over her own mouth and looks around, lest she accidentally say more. A Society mission! She tears open the envelope and reads the letter eagerly. Highly specialized team... matter of grave import... and they want ME? Excited, she turns around abruptly and heads toward Heidmarch Manor. The stolen powder horn still bounces at her hip, immediately forgotten.
"...I look forward to meeting you soon! Sheila Heidmarch."
The young woman finished reading the letter aloud and looked down at the chubby brown tabby cat sitting near her feet. "Did you hear that, Rowenna? A mission of import to all of Varisia and she wants me to be on the team she's putting together!"
"Sorry, I meant us. Of course I'm not going to just leave you behind! Who would feed you if I weren't around?" she says, bending down to scratch the behind the cat's ears. "The letter said "on the morrow" so we've got some time to get our things in order and make ourselves presentable. Remember, first impressions are everything so we'll have to make it a good one. We should probably head back to the inn now and make sure we've got everything we need."
Straightening back up, the young woman gazed upward at the night sky. It was a beautiful, cloudless night - perfect for stargazing. Many of the faithful had gathered to watch the stars and offer up prayers to the Song of the Spheres and Briana was no exception. Smiling hopefully, she whispered, "Be ready for challenges and unexpected friends, right? Okay, let's see where the road takes us." With that, she headed back down the tower steps, a spring in her step and a tabby cat trotting behind her.
"You Jo-say-pi-nah," the burly innkeeper asked.
Joanna looked up from the soup she was eating for lunch with a start, almost sending the bowl tumbling to her lap.
"Josephina, that's me," she said.
"Some runner left this for you," he said as he dropped a thick sheet of parchment with her name on it and sealed with the sigil of the Pathfinder Society.
Her heart skipped a beat as she took the letter and broke the seal.
To Josephina Annabella Whitehall,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am very pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Pathfinder Society. I have also decided that your skills and interests would be most useful in a matter that has come to my attention. Please present yourself at Heidmarch Manor an hour before noon on the morrow. We will handle your induction then.
Once again, welcome,
Joanna carefully folds the letter and quietly finishes her soup. She knows it's not becoming of one of Iomedae's priestesses to fret, but the excitement, nervousness, and fear swirled in her belly making it impossible to stand still. She practices her forms, prayers, meditates, reads, anything to stop her from pacing the room. Finally, after wearing the floorboards in her room a little thinner, she falls into an uneasy sleep.
It'll be fine, she thinks as her mind slowly drifts off into the land of dreams, Brother Titus wouldn't have declared me a full priest if he thought I wasn't ready.
The autumn sun rose to the east, sending brilliant shimmers across the waters of the Varisian Gulf. The light reflecting from the sea streamed through the red silk curtain of a Varisian tent near the docks, and its occupant stirred. The autumn morning air was chilly in Dockside, still in the shadow of the Seacleft. It would be another hour before the sun fell on the Varisian encampment that Ziomarra currently called home.
Stretching, the young Varisian woman climbed out of her bed and donned a silk dressing-gown. She then sat on a cushion before a low table covered in dark green felt. Opening the darkwood case that sat on the table, she overturned it, and her grandmother's deck of Harrow cards were now in her hands. Expertly, she cut, shuffled, and fanned the cards. As she did so, she felt the spirits of her ancestors whisper arcane secrets to her. She laid out a complex spread of cards on the table, and then re-arranged them in several different patters, opening her mind to the complex meanings of the cards and their positions. Patterns of power inspired by the spread of cards etched themselves into her mind, ready to be released when combined with the proper words and gestures.
After half an hour of meditation with her Harrow cards, she gathers them up, shuffles them again, and lays out ten cards face down, in an inverted pyramid.
"My path for today," she said aloud to herself, "to glimpse what my journey might hold for me."
Note: I will take the result of the final card for today's use of my Harrowed feat.
She overturns the first card, at the apex of the pyramid.
"My role in the journey."
ethic: 1d3 ⇒ 3 ...chaotic
moral: 1d3 ⇒ 1 ...good
Someone powerful who plays with the lives of others. I am to be the tool of someone else.
Looking at the second row of two cards, she selects the card on the right, and flips it.
"My past, as it influences my now."
ethic: 1d3 ⇒ 3 ...chaotic
moral: 1d3 ⇒ 3 ...evil
Emptiness. I had been cast out of my home, and forced to find my own way in a mad world. True enough.
Looking at the third row of three cards, he hand pauses briefly over each of them, and she selects the one in the middle, revealing it.
"My present, where I find myself."
ethic: 1d3 ⇒ 2
moral: 1d3 ⇒ 2
The card of strength, pure and simple. I will stand up for myself regardless of the obstacles.
Without the slightest hesitation, she picks the second card from the left in the fourth and final row and picks it up, placing it back down face-up.
"My future, as it may be."
ethic: 1d3 ⇒ 2
moral: 1d3d6 ⇒ 4
"A good sign. I shall face great difficulty soon, yet I know that I possess the strength and cunning to overcome it.
Using Harrowed feat to take a single +2 bonus on a Constitution-based check within 24 hours.
Pleased with the morning's reading, Ziomarra gathers her cards and dresses for the day. She fishes out a copper to pay Donal Carent for the day's rent. I'd prefer not to be stauying in a Sczarni camp, but it's hard to beat the price. At least they don't try to cheat family.
An hour later, Ziomarra hangs a sign reading, "Mistress Ziomarra, Seer of the Harrow" from her tent. As she straightened it, a messenger appears, handing her a sealed scroll-- a scroll sealed with the Glyph of the Open Road.
Tipping the messenter a copper, she brings the letter inside her tent. "Now, what do the Pathfinders want with me?" she muses.
Breaking the seal, she unrolls the letter and reads it carefully. A smile broadens across her face, as the day's reading snaps into place. V.C. Heidmarch is the Juggler, playing with my fate, drawing me into the Pathfinder Society's sphere. I shall overcome my past family troubles and my present state of near-homelessness through my strength, for I shall be victorious in my endeavors.
Praying a silent thanks to the Starsong, Ziomarra takes down her sign and gathers up her meager belongings to prepare for an assignment.
16th Rova, 4714
The Alabaster district, the eastern most district of Magnimar is home to the city’s richest and most affluent citizens. Aristocrats, guild merchants and anyone rich enough to afford such a lifestyle dwell in the grandiose villas and mansions that line this district’s streets. The streets of the Alabaster district are kept meticulously clean, a stark contrast to other areas within the city…the main streets are paved with stone blocks with the smaller alleys cobbled…this stone paving provides a gentle background noise to the district as horses, the occasional wagon and lightly armoured guards move around the streets. There are very few shops or taverns in the district, the majority of the buildings here are residential and, as fits the affluence of the populace, quite grandiose.
The morning heralds another cool autumnal day, a gentle wind overnight has brought a light cloud cover in from the sea…the last vestiges of summer disappearing as leaves start to fall from the trees that line the streets. Indeed, the finery worn by the citizens within the Alabaster district reflect the coming of the Autumn…the clothes are less revealing, the colours and hues tend towards reds and browns…and few people travel far from their homes without some form of protection from the sudden rain showers that can break across the city. The Alabaster district perches on cliffs some two hundred feet above the Varisian Gulf and, as such, can be more exposed to the weather…today though, the wind does little more than gently stroke the flags that are advertising the mock Gladitorial Battles being staged this coming weekend in Serpent’s Run (a sprawling hippodrome and the one place within the Alabaster District that genuinely welcomes all, irrespective of wealth and social standing).
The Heidmarch Manor occupies a prime position in a particularly beautiful area of the Alabaster district – as the first Pathfinder Lodge within Varisia, it’s location is well known by all. Retired to Magnimar, the Heidmarch Manor is home to two of the city’s most eccentric citizens, esteemed hunters, explorers and Pathfinders, Sheila Heidmarch and her husband, Sir Canayven Heidmarch. The Heidmarch’s, upon retiring, were not content to settle into the ‘quiet life’ or the social positioning enjoyed by the majority of the residents of this district and have, instead, opened their sizable manor to the Pathfinder Society. As such, you have little trouble finding the Manor and, drawing the occasional questioning look from residents of the district, you arrive in plenty of time for your appointed meeting.
A high wall surrounds the Manor and, walking through the open gates, immediately you are transported away from city life and into a tranquil oasis…the Manor, architecturally and decoratively, appears to be influenced by many cultures – perhaps unsurprising given the extent to which the Heidmarch’s have travelled across Golarion. Walking past a well-stocked pond, you arrive at a set of double doors and are greeted by a young man wearing a traditional Qadiran robe.
”Greetings, the mistress of the Lodge is momentarily inconvenienced and asks if you would wait here on the veranda…she promises not to be overly delayed”
You all arrive one-by-one, or together if you meet each other on the way through the Alabaster District…this ‘pause’ before meeting with Sheila Heidmarch is an opportunity for you to meet with each other
|Teldon Moore RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
[Kelish]"Yes, of course... let me know if there's any way I can assist her..."[/Kelish]
I'm early, Teldon reflects looking up at the sun, that's likely the inconvenience. In my calculations I left six and a half extra minutes in case I was delayed by crowds... I wasn't so I should have waited that time outside the gates so as to arrive at the scheduled hour... best make a note of that so I don't repeat my mistake...
Teldon leans his unscathed longspear against the wall and removes his brand new backpack. Setting it on the ground, he retrieves his journal, ink, and pen from it before sitting down. He begins jotting notes and is quickly lost in thought.
whoever arrives next:
As you make your way onto the veranda you spot a tall, skinny man with fair skin, unkempt shoulder-length black hair, and a nose too prominent for his narrow face hunched over a book of some sort. He is wearing an usual looking set of glossy gray studded leather and smells faintly of something metallic. Upon noticing that he is no longer alone he raises his dark brown eye to meet yours...
"Lady Heidmarch, I'm pleased to finally meet you."
Nalathi comes around the corner of the house to find a bookish-looking man standing at the front doors. She stands no taller than a gnome, with dusty grey skin and a lithe form. She had arrived before the arranged meeting time, to give her time to scope out the house. From outside the wall not much can be seen, which was all she'd done the previous evening, but inside it the manor is beautiful. She had been walking the perimeter of the house, taking it in. As the man addresses her, she looks behind her. Seeing no one, she turns back to him. "Oh... oh, me?" She giggles. "I'm Nalathi, I was told to be here. I'm guessing Lady Heidmarch is more your size than mine."
"Is she? I suppose, statistically speaking, that's very likely..." he replies, looking down to make one final note in his journal. "Hello, Nathali, I am Teldon Moore, a scholar and soon to be explorer who was chosen by Lady Heidmarch for her highly specialized team, as I assume you were as well?"
Without waiting for a response, he takes a step closer and visually inspects the petite woman before him. "You don't look like a gnome... what are you?" he asks, apparently oblivious to how rude that might seem, "And, have you any idea for which of your skills you might have been chosen?"
Before Nalathi can answer Teldon's questions, a young woman, who looks to be sixteen or seventeen staggers into the room. A wine-red tabard with the image of a sword and sunburst embroidered in gold covers the worn breastplate and chainmail she wears. Her clothing is clean and neat, but her face is flushed and her breathing is heavy. She slips a well-made pack form her shoulders and sets it down next to a chair and looks at the two already on the veranda.
"H-hello. Are you Pathfinders?"
Ziomarra strolls at an unhurried pace along the well-paved streets of the Alabaster District. She seems out of place here, dressed in the flamboyant silks of traditional Varisian garb. The few well-dressed aristocrats who shoot her an odd look receive an icy stare deep into their own eyes. Most find this disconcerting enough to look away quickly, and let her pass unchallenged.
Finding Heidmarch Manor easily, Ziomarra retrieves her letter of invitation from a pocketed scarf. With head held high, she strolls through the open gate, her left hand grazing the manor's Glyph of the Open Road displayed on the gates. Looking around the pleasant grounds, she spies a few people chatting on the manor's veranda.
She approaches the veranda and climbs the steps. Those on the porch see a woman of average height and somewhat slight build with wavy raven hair. She wears a long fringed scarlet skirt with a gold geometric pattern woven through, a green-dyed leather vest over a loose-fitting white blouse with flowing sleeves, and several scarves of various colors: a peacock blue scarf tied in a loose knot around her neck, a longer green-and-blue patterned scarf draped over her shoulders, and a red scarf tied around her head, holding back her hair. A large wooden pendant in the shape of a butterfly also hangs around her neck.
She smiles as she gets to the top of the steps. In a heavy Varisian accent, she says, "May the Starsong bless you and this day! I am Ziomarra the Seer. Lady Heidmarch has sent for me."
looking from Nalathi to the two new arrivals, Teldon scowls slightly, If this is some manner of female adventurers' society I've mistakenly been invited to I'm going back to Absalom before word gets out... as soon as I've had a haircut.
"Well, since it seems none of you is Lady Heidmarch, we've been invited to wait here until she is ready to receive us. A Qadiran boy will be around to fetch us when the time comes. I was just telling Nalathi here that I am Teldon Moore, formerly a pathfinder record keeper in the Grand Lodge, here for my first field work. And you are?" he asks turning towards the armored young woman who has not yet identified herself.
"Oh, sorry! J-just call me Joanna. I'm a priestess of Iomedae." The young woman answers, her face flushing even more brilliantly as she realizes her error. If she is a priestess, she's of the new and squeaky variety.
Did getting that letter sap your wits, girl? Remember your manners, idiot!
"It's very nice to meet all of you," she says with a bow of her head.
"So it seems that fate has brought us together. Lady Heidmarch's letter implied that all of Varisia could be affected by... something. The cards were unclear. But if Varisia is in danger, it would seem wise to reach out to a Varisian. I hope that the spirits of my ancestors can guide us along the true path." She brushes her wooden butterfly-shaped pendant, and adds with a mysterious smile, "Or at least an interesting one."
She blinks at Teldon. What's a gnome? she wonders. She opens her mouth to ask, but the pair are interrupted by a heavily-armored girl who looks far too young for her apparent station. "Yes!" she responds. When an exotic-looking woman joins them, she introduces herself. "I'm Nalathi Estrid, pleased to meet you all." She has no idea what Ziomarra might mean, with talk of cards or some such, so she turns and looks at the door. "I guess we're supposed to wait here?"
As the four on the veranda are introducing themselves, they suddenly become aware of the sound of footsteps approaching as well as that of a female voice.
"The manor and the grounds are beautiful! Some of the architecture looks Taldan but other parts I can't really place. It's as if they made a hodge...podge..." the voice trails off as a young woman steps around the corner, closely followed by a large tabby cat. Having spotted the other four and realizing that they're all looking in her direction, her face flushes slightly with embarrassment. She's a small woman and of slight build with short brown hair and brown eyes. Dressed in a brown and yellow traveler's outfit, the colors in keeping with the season, she also wears a simple leather breastplate and can be seen to be carrying a crossbow strapped to her back and a light mace at her side. The rest of her worldly possessions seem to be stuffed into a small backpack.
Grinning sheepishly, she approaches the veranda and joins the others. "I didn't expect everyone else to be here already! I suppose that's what I get for taking my time on the walk here. I'm Briana Kaddren and this is my cat Rowenna; I really shouldn't but sometimes I forget myself and chat away to her in public." She punctuates this statement with a bow to the group.
As you start to gather at the lodge and wonder between yourselves as to the purpose of today's meeting, the cloud of the morning starts to melt away and the first golden tinges of sunshine break through...the sudden burst of warmth is all it takes for a trio of exotically plumed birds to take flight from beneath the foliage and, perching upon the high wall, break into a chittering song...
"Shhhh, Shhhh, Shhhh", the young man in Qadiran garb has reappeared, with no sound, upon the veranda and is playfully admonishing the birds for their spontaneous music. Carrying a silver tray with a pitcher and six glasses, he talks to you in a soft Varisian accent, "The Venture Captain will be with you shortly, she promises...in the meantime, please enjoy this scented water...you are all here, that is good". Placing the tray on a table, the young man politely excuses himself...
Even the cat's a female?!?
"Well, apparently this is our 'highly specialized team'" Teldon announces to nobody in particular while assessing each persons appearance and possessions. "I wonder what 'matter of grave import' Lady Heidmarch might hope to have handled by two adventures, a priestess, a fortune teller, and a diminutive swordswoman?"
As he speaks his focus seems to move quickly inward until, for a moment, he is lost in thought before continuing, "As I mentioned previously, I am something of a scholar... do any of you possess skills not immediately apparent that might cast some light on the reason for our assemblage?"
Even the cat's a female?!?
She looks down at the shortsword on her belt. "I guess I do have a sword," she says, reaching behind her to touch her trident. "But this is what I use most. As for special skills, I'm really only good at getting myself into trouble." She shrugs. "People don't seem to like having me around, for some reason."
Kaddren? Haven't I heard that name before?
Knowledge(nobility): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Joanna pushes the thought aside for the moment and bows her head, almost as if she was curtsying without actually doing it.
"I am happy to meet you Briana. Just call me Joanna. As for being late, I wouldn't worry about it. Our hostess has yet to appear at any rate."
As the "Osirian" servant sets out the tray of scented water, Ziomarra smiles at him. "Multumesc."
Turning to the assembly, she addresses Teldon's question. "Yes, I am teller of fortunes. It is a gift the Starsong has bestowed upon many of the women in my family, and not a few of the men."
With a gesture, she fans out a deck of beautiful-looking handmade cards, seemingly out of nowhere. "She speaks through the cards, as do the spirits of the Harrowers in my family who now reside in the Great Beyond. Their power infuses the deck, and I can use the arcane patterns and mystical symbolism of the Harrow to draw some of that power to use for my own ends. Some call me a seer. Some call me a witch. But does the name you call something change the thing itself?"
She shuffles the cards again, and lays out five cards.
She looks at Joanna and reveals the first. The Paladin: An armored knight sticks her sword in the ground and extends her hand.
"Appropriate for a servant of the Inheritor, no? You have strength of character, and determination to follow everything through to the end."
Smiling at Brianna, she reveals the next card. The Big Sky: Two prisoners break their shackles below a blazing sun.
"You have new-found freedom to choose your own path, and the road ahead both entices and frightens you."
To Nalathi, she shows the next card. The Cricket: An anthromorphic cricket wearing a jacket and top hat relaxes at the next to a ripe peach. It shuffles a deck of cards.
"You are another traveler, who feels far more at home on the journey than at its destination."
Beckoning a skeptical-looking Teldon over, she reveals the fourth card. The Hidden Truth: A wizard points to a book, with a look of shocked excitement on his face.
"You are a scholar seeking great discoveries. Be careful chosing that which you seek, for you will find it."
She overturns the last card. The Winged Serpend: A white serpent flies through the air on rainbow-feathered wings.
"This card represents the wisdom of my ancestors who guide me on my own journey."
He lip curls into another cryptic smile, and her ice-blue eyes sparkle in the late morning sunlight. "I think we may have great things in store for us!"
She puts her cards away, then pours herself a glass of the scented water.
|Teldon Moore RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
"Oh, that's good to hear! I really should know better, being punctual is an important character trait to cultivate. I suppose I just got carried away with enjoying the walk here...this is my favorite season and the breeze feels so nice."
As Ziomarra proceeds to lay out and read the cards for the group, Briana watches with a mixture of fascination and amazement. "I'd heard tales of spirits that communicate through such cards but I've never actually met anyone in person that can do it! Suddenly, her expression turns serious. "Do the spirits only speak through the cards or can you hear them in other ways? I've only ever heard them in my mi-" she breaks off mid-sentence, a guarded expression on her face.
Looking around nervously, her eyes land on Nalathi and widen. "Hey! That's Rowenna's travel case! Give it back!" she exclaims. Though clearly annoyed and a little shocked at Nalathi's sticky fingers, it almost seems as if Briana is somewhat relieved at the change of focus.
A few minutes later, and no more than fifteen minutes later than the appointed time, the man in Qadiran clothes invites you into the Manor. Directing you to an eclectically decorated room, a map here, a carving there, two women stand from the chaise where they have been sat. The first, a tall elegantly dressed human, is unmistakably Sheila Heidmarch, while the second, a half-elf is not known to all of you...
"I apologise for the delay in our meeting, I trust Jacanne ensured you were catered for whilst you waited?", Sheila smiles at the young man, "Before we proceed, allow me to introduce Koriah Azmeren"
Koriah, an attractive half- elven woman dressed in leather armor and armed with a distinctive-looking mithral-and-redwood aklys (a hooked club attached to a cord) and a bastard sword (both weapons are currently sheathed or hanging from her belt), nods at you.
"Koriah has recently returned from her latest expedition and has brought back a surprising number of Thassilonian artefacts...it is quite the haul yet I fear there may be implications, if you will please excuse us for a further few minutes Kariah and I need to consult...", pausing for a moment, "Actually...why don't you take a look at something for me?"
Leading you to what is clearly the lodge library and study, Sheila carries on a quiet conversation with Koriah. The walls are lined with bookshelves, while several tables in the middle of the room are heaped with scrolls and books. One table in the center, however, supports only a single object— an ornate cubical stone coffer covered with Thassilonian runes.
"Please, take a seat",Sheila indicates a number of seats around the table and, when you are seated, continues.
"I apologise for the delay, as I must conclude my business with Pathfinder Azmeren before we meet. In the meantime, though, I thought you could help us with another minor matter. This stone coffer is an ancient Thassilonian puzzle, a cunning feat of magical engineering, known as a 'Paradox Box', as you'll see from even a casual investigation, what appear to be seams on the sides are only shallow grooves—there’s no obvious way to open the thing. Each paradox box has its own secret method of being opened. Essentially, a paradox box substitutes hidden catches and magical triggers for a lock. Given time, anyone clever enough could figure out how to open a paradox box, just as given time, a locksmith can open any lock. This particular box was among those items recovered by Koriah—the scrolls next to the box are her preliminary notes on possible triggers or methods of opening it, but she’s not yet had a chance to sit down and properly investigate the thing. So... why don’t you put your heads together and see if you can’t do that for me? Even if the box is empty, as I suspect it probably is, knowing the method of opening it makes it a valuable find anyway. I’ll return shortly, and I hope to see that box open! Think of this as an audition, if you will—because the actual task I want to speak to you about soon will require as much wit as it will brawn!”
In answer to Teldon's question, she merely says, "Da."
Casts dancing lights.
As Briana retrieves her case, she replies, "There are many spirits, and many kinds of spirits. They choose to send signs to different people in different ways."
Edit: Ninja'd by the plot!
Teldon's eyes are fixed on the coffer as the Venure Captain speaks. She has barely turned to leave before he is up giving it a closer examination. He draws two small vials and quickly downs them both. Int Cognatogen and Heightened Awareness extract
"Can one of you please try to make sense of those notes while I examine these runes?"
I know Thassilonian, if that helps
linguistics: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (5) + 13 = 18 if needed for runes, etc.
know(arcana): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19 see what I know about paradox boxes
inspiration to knowledge check: 1d6 ⇒ 6 for a 25 total on know(arcana)
As Teldon examines the paradox box, Ziomarra utters strange words in an unknown language. As she speaks, she fans her cards and holds the fanned deck before her right eye. Both the cards and her left eye glimmer with an eerie bluish glow.
Casts detect magic, focusing on the paradox box.
Know:arcana to identify school of magic: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Spellcraft to determine properties of magic item: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
The paradox box resembles a small stone chest of ornate design that measures approximately 1-1/2 feet by 1-1/2 feet by 1 foot. Closer inspection reveals the paradox box to be a solid piece of stone that’s been carved to resemble a box—it has no seam for a lid or hinges to allow opening.
Teldon - Paradox Boxes are secure storage devices that can be accessed only by use of the proper command word or combination. Until the command word is intoned or the combination is correctly entered (the box’s creator decides which method of opening works for the box—most boxes have combination locks) the box is effectively a solid piece of stone with no lid or aperture or even an interior, and as such, attempts to open the box by bypassing a lock do not work.
Paradox boxes were especially popular in Thassilon for their relative inexpensiveness as well as their superior security and durability. Many Thassilonian creators, burdened with arrogance and hubris, constructed their paradox boxes such that their surfaces were decorated with elaborate and carefully constructed riddles or wordplays that gave clues to their command words. These items are prize finds for organizations such as the Pathfinder Society, because a particularly clever investigator can often still open them, revealing their time-lost secrets even though the command word might have been lost millennia ago.
It is worth noting that some creators also built magical traps into paradox boxes (monster summoning traps are particularly popular), but these traps are not included in the standard model.
The runes themselves appear to be a highly stylised version of Thassilonian and, so far as you can tell, are encrypted so as not to make literal sense. What is immediately apparent is that the sigils depicting the seven 'virtues of rule' are repeated across each of the faces of the box.
|Teldon Moore RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
"These boxes, of course, require a command word... I could attempt to activate it without the word, but some of them are protected by various traps... Monster Summoning spells were quite common for this..."
know(history) to understand the significance of that particular set of runes (and/or deduce a clue from it): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (13) + 13 = 26
"Seven virtues of rule," Teldon murmurs absentmindedly as he is lost in thought, "Seven virtues... not rewards, virtues..."
Holy crap, many new posts this morning :)
Kn. Local: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Briana carefully looks at the box, feeling slightly intimidated by Theron's numerous observations. "You seem very learned, but maybe I can help too..."
Kn. Planes: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
Kn. Religion: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Casting Read Magic
Briana – there is, so far as you can recall, little of religious or planar interest associated with devices such as Paradox Boxes. Examining this particular artefact, nothing changes your mind. Examining and reading the runes with an arcane eye, the method of encryption does not reveal itself…however, you are able to tell, with a detailed examination that the runes on one of the box faces can be repositioned…and that below an extended line of runes, there is a physical space where four of the runes could be moved to.
"The seven virtues of rule?" Joanna asks, her curiosity peaked.
"I'd never heard of them. What are they?"
- honest pride
- eager striving
- righteous anger
- and well-deserved rest
- boastful pride
- and sloth
Putting away her cards, Ziomarra says, "Ancient mystical energies suffuse this box. It is as if dimensions have been folded back upon themselves through space to...somewhere else. I sense two distinct auras from the box: one that draws energies from elsewhere to create something new, and one that holds magic at bay."
To Teldon's comments, she adds, "If magical traps that summoned creatures from beyond were common on these, I would say such a trap is likely with this one."
Takes 10 on Knowledge (history): 10+7=17. Note that she can also read Thassilonian.
"The wizard-kings of Thassilon in ancient days treated the Seven Deadly Sins as rewards of their rule: pride, greed, envy, gluttony, lust, sloth, and wrath."
As she names each of the sins, she points to its respective symbol on the box.
"Perhaps that is a clue."
After Brianna points out that the runes on one face can be repositioned, she looks to see if there are any particular patterns to the rune-tiles. E.g. whether one of the runes is more or less prevelent than the rest.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Looking behind her, she sees the small bag sticking out. "Oh, right." She giggles. "It fell out, and I picked it up for you." She pulls the bag out and hands it back to Briana. "Wouldn't want you to lose it!"
* * * * * * * * * *
She inspects the box while listening to Ziomarra's explanation of the runes. "Hmmm... that's weird. So these reward-sin things have something to do with opening the box?"
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Anything else that can be seen?
"...but these aren't the 'rewards of rule'... these runes represent the uncorrupted 'virtues of rule'... perhaps predating the Runelords' influence, or perhaps safeguarded from it by some separatist group..."
linguistics to decrypt the the runes into something sensible?: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
if/when Briana mentions the movable tiles:
"Moveable, you say?!? Some of these boxes featured combinations rather than command words... perhaps if the runes are arranged in the proper order, or the correct subset selected..."
one more linguistics check to decipher some clue about any of the virtues being given special emphasis: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (2) + 11 = 13
"How are the rewards, virtues, whatever they are call, traditionally related? Or is there some phrase or something that you could make out of those symbols?" Joanna asks softly, obviously feeling out of her depth.
Iomedae help me, why is it that nothing is ever as straightforward as fables and proverbs make it out to be?
"My people say that as the Wizard-Kings of Old grew in power they also grew decadent, and lost sight of the virtues on which their kingdom was founded. They replaced virtue with sin, and no longer saw any distinction between them. Their worship of sin led to the ultimate destruction their empire. Today, only the ruins of their great monuments remain, dotting Varisia as a warning against hubris."
Zed: What skill would you use to solve a generic puzzle, like a Rubik's Cube? Would that be a straight-up Int check?
Nalathi / Perception - Standing next to the Paradox Box, and completely ignored by everyone else, lie Koriah's notes. She has been copying the various runes and the sigils, with various attempts (mostly scribbled out) to ascribe a letter to a particular rune. TpHwr latest notes show a seven pointed star and are accompanied by an open question, 'Virtues of Rule? Sin?'
Ziomarra / Perception - looking for patterns within the runes, you finally see them emerge. The most notable pattern, and it is repeated on each face of the box, is that below each sigil (of which seven adorn each face), is inlaid specific phrasing...for each sigil, there is a series of gold runes (always the same series according to the sigil) followed by a series of runes inlaid with black, jagged onyx.
Teldon / Knowledge (Linguistics) - looking for specific emphasis in the runes, you note that the series of onyx runes beneath the sigil for Wealth is repeated within the movable runes (comprising five movable runes within an extended phrase of over fifty runes)
What you hadn't noticed upon first examining the box, is the detailing around the edges...beyond where the runes lie. Carved into the box itself, lies a repeated motif...a shape that is passingly familiar...it shows what you recognise to be the Varisian coastline yet the inland borders far extend beyond what you recognise as modern day Varisia...embossed in gold leaf within the repeated motif, there stands a mountain range.
Ziomarra - you shouldn't need to worry about generic checks...you just need to connect the dots above and one more knowledge check should get you there
know(history) for previous spoiler: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29
"Interesting," Teldon remarks shifting his attention slightly, "this runic phrase which appears beneath each 'wealth' sigil also appears under this empty slot... and this sketch of the ancient Thassilonian borders which is repeated about the coffer highlights Shalast, the realm of the Runelord of Greed, which is of course the corruption of the wealth virtue... that may, perhaps, be more than a coincidence...
"So if it appears beneath the empty slot, why not put whatever means wealth or greed in that slot? Maybe you're supposed to complete the pattern." Joanna says. She seems to be losing a little of her self-consciousness, but that vague impression of someone being out of their depth and grasping at straws remains.
Know: History: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Know: Geography: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
Ziomarra traces the outline of modern Varisia over the map of Thassilon on the box.
"If this is a map of Thassilon, perhaps the movable tiles corresponding to greed should be moved into the place on the map where the land of Shalast once stood. There." She points to the spaces on the box that she means.
"Be wary before to slide the tiles. I suspect opening it may summon a guardian of whatever still hides within."
It is a good idea...and maybe it would have worked other than there being only space for four runes...
Ziomarra / Teldon - looking once more for patterns, you see that two consecutive runes in the black onyx runes below the sigil for wealth are identical...characters three and four...also, in the gold runes...character two....
"hmmm... look here... this character repeats in several places... it appears with the 'wealth' sigil- twice in the onyx runes and once in the gold... and its here with the 'honest pride' sigil- twice in the golden ruins and once in the onyx... and here with 'fertility'- in the golden ruins but not the onyx..."
Teldon's excitement quickly fades as he stares at the box.
"I have no idea what the significance of that is..."
linguistics to decipher the repeated rune: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23
inspiration to that check: 1d6 ⇒ 4
total 27 linguistics