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The Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands - GM Iliad

Game Master HolmesandWatson

The Pathfinder Society has hired adventurers to investigate the abandoned Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands. But en route they discover a massacred merchant wagon. Who, or what, is responsible? And are they still around?

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ADVENTURERS WANTED: See Karlae Siegfrost

Each of you had met individually with Karlae Siegfrost, Pathfinder agent and hero of Olfden, in a small room at the city offices. She controlled the conversation, asking questions that seemed to cover a wide spectrum. Your answers must have been good ones, as you were selected and she instructed you to meet her and the other members of your party the following afternoon at the Silver Bulette, a local tavern and inn. Though she did not directly answer most of your questions, you did learn:

The Mayor is concerned with increased bandit activity in the area of Ironfang Keep, an abandoned castle in the south of the Arthfell Forest. You are to investigate and find out what, if anything, is really going on.

The inhabitants of the Keep were slaughtered by goblins and orcs and it has been largely deserted for decades.

The village of Swallowfeld would make a good base of operations.

The werewolf druids of the Fang Watch have been more active than normal in their efforts to hinder logging in the Arthfell.

The Pathfinder Society has commissioned this expedition and anything of interest discovered at the Keep is to be relayed back to Karlae. She was elusive on what that actually meant. "You're experienced, you'll know what you see."

She also implies that if you do your job well, there are other assignments to follow. She also intimates that successful adventurers could be Society material.

She subtly inquired into your experiences, if any, with the nation of Cheliax, which didn’t seem relevant to the Keep assignment.

It is now two minutes before your meeting time with her. You are either at a table in the rear of the Bulette, sitting across from her, or making your entrance. I’ll post “live” when everyone is at the table.

Make your opening comment…


Entering the Silver Bulette for the first the first time, I pause in the doorway scanning the crowd looking for a few locals to chat with. I squirm in my armor lifting the shoulders of the oversized chain shirt and scratching at it; any onlooker could tell instantly this halflings clothes and armor are all hand-me-downs.

If the tavern has an obvious bard who is not currently performing I'll approach him. If not then I'll approach the barkeep.

Climbing into a seat across from them. "Afternoon sir, any news on the road a traveler should be aware of?" The holy symbol of Desna, wooden and ragged as it may be, hangs proudly on display for all to see.

Male Halfling Druid

Down the bar from the barkeep, Shane Greenbottle is enjoying a mug of ale when Beau walks in.

A fellow halfling . . . good to know I'll have at least one companion on this journey who knows what it's like down here.

He chuckles to himself, finishes his ale, and stands up walks over to the Pathfinder agent.

Darpan walks into the building, the dust of the road still caking his clothes. He looks over the various peoples within, then moves to a table off to one side. He looks over his meager funds, trying to decide if he has enough to pay for a meal.

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

Petracleus quaffs the final swills of what passes for Ale in these parts, gets up from his table (where he has spent the last two hours killing time) and walks to the bar "Barkeep, I would like to settle my bill when you are ready...."

Whilst waiting for the barkeeper to respond, Petracleus casts his eye over the gathering crowd - two halflings? Petracleus was used to the occasional halfling but, despite being quite well travelled, had yet to see more than one at a time - maybe they were related?

He nods at the travelworn man as he takes a seat at a table and waits....

Nodding to the man at the bar, Darpan watches the 2 halflings chatting while he waits for someone to come and ask if he would like anything.
Hmmm..perhaps this is one of those establishments where you need to tell the barkeep what you would like
Getting up, he moves over to the bar and asks, "How much for a simple meal...nothing too fancy. Oh, and a mug of watered wine, if it is not too much trouble."

Reading the posts, is anybody actually sitting at the table with Karlae? It doesn't look like it.

And if you're not, bear in mind you're about a minute away from your appointed meeting time with your new boss, who sits alone at a table while you're all over the inn...

Male Halfling Druid

I said that I stood up and walked over to her, so I am at least near the table.

Looking over the room, Dar sees his contact waiting at a table he previously did not notice. Flushing in embarrassment, he moves over to the table and apologies.
"My most humble apologies. I did not see you sitting there, or I would have never ignored you to order a meal."
He bows to the halfling standing there.
Greetings! I am Darpan Bala Manujyestha. Please, just call me Dar."

Karlae nods at the druid and monk as they join her around a worn table; the wood pitted (dagger marks?) here and there. Trim, brown hair, a calculating look in the eyes over a casual smile; Karlae Siegfrost has the manner of a woman one step ahead of everyone else.

A pitcher of local mead sits in the center of the table with five mugs waiting to be lifted. She has her own drink, perhaps some mulled wine or some such.

"So, you're still in? Good." She flashes a genuine smile.

"We'll give the others a few more minutes to join us, but I admire promptness. Is there anything either of you would like to ask me while we wait?"

Male Human Rogue/01

Standing up from a table at the back of the room, a wiry looking, ebon-haired youth with a friendly smile saunters over to the table. He offers a perfunctory bow.

Madame ... gents, I have considered your offer of employment and place myself at your disposal. May I sit?

Karlae acknowledges the new arrival with a smile.

Male Human Rogue/01

Excellent then.

Wix sits with a little flare. He pours himself a cup and sets it on the table in front of him. Addressing the rest of the party:

Gentlemen, Wix is my name. I am at your disposal.

Addressing Karlae:

Madame, I do have a question, if you will. I noted your inquiries about my -- and I assume any of our -- affiliations with the Cheliax. While I have never personally been graced by the attentions of our Infernal neighbors of the southwest, I find it peculiar that the scions of House Thrune would enter in to this particular equation. Perhaps my lady could elaborate on their involvement?

She gives Wix a wink.
"Picked up on that, did you? Very good."

Her voice drops to a lower volume, though it's certainly not a whisper.

"You surely know that Andoran was once a part of Cheliax. Mother Cheliax and the House of Thrune would very much like to bring the wayward child back into the family."

She makes eye contact with each one in turn.

"Cheliax's designs on Andoran are much more than paranoid fears. And if anything is to happen, it will start here in the west. We are the buffer. We are also the most isolated. But Cheliaxians are devious. It's not simple martial prowess that they will use."

"It's no secret that the Society has a pro-Cheliax faction. I had to satisfy myself that none of you were agents of Thrune, signing on to gain some type of advantage."

She smiles again. "I am satisfied."

Upon hearing mention of Cheliax Beau hurriedly makes his way over towards the conversation. Beau listens intently to this Andoran's predjudicial way of describing his homeland.

Noting the other halfling, Beau watches for his reaction to Karlae description of Cheliax.

Male Human Rogue/01

Wix scowls.

I can assure you, my lady, my intentions in this matter are beyond reproach.

Then, brightening:

With that out of the way, let us to business then? What of the reports of banditry in the area? Anything more specific than rumors and tales told 'round the fire?

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

"Madame.....", Petracleus pulls up a chair at the table nodding at the gathering humans and halflings.

"May I?..........anyone else?", pouring himself a mead, Petracleus listens to hear Karlae's response.

Male Halfling Druid

Shane does his best to keep the feelings of dislike to himself when he hears mention of Cheliax, and keeps his mouth shut.

When Petracleus offers the mean, he turns to the man and nods his head, hoping for a glass himself.

I think mead may be the only thing that keeps me level-headed right now.

He turns back to Karlae, awaiting further details.

The stinch of mead repulces Beau visibly.

I'd be more than glad to brew up a fresh pot of tea if'n you wan ta be sober tomorrow.

'Sides aren't introductions due before business. I'm Beau (pronounced boy) Trill a pleasure to meet ya all.

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

"I am known as is also a pleasure to make your acquaintance"

Pouring a tankard for the halfling and taking a large gulp of his own mead, Petracleus continues "I have travelled through many countries and have encountered many people who talk of Cheliax with little fondness.....I can't say I have any desire to visit. Still I find it true that oft-times it is the minority of people in power who shape the attitude of a nation whilst the majority of folk would rather go about the business of getting bread on the table"

Looking around the table, "If you don't mind me asking, where do you each hail from?"

Karlae acknowledges the last arrival to the table.

"So glad you could all join me." The statement wasn't dripping sarcasm, but you certainly get some.

"You can have your little introductions after I leave. I have much to do today."

She turns to Wix, responding to his question. "Fireside tales? Do you think I, Karlae Siegfrost, Hero of Olfden and agent of the Society, would employ you for the mere gossip of village women?"

If you've never seen a haughty expression, you certainly have now.

"As I told you YESTERDAY, hunters, villagers, travllers and other peasents have been attacked and robbed far more often than usual in the south of the Arthfell and near Swallowfeld."

"We've also gotten reports of goblin activity in the region as well. Never know when those pesky little buggers will crawl down from Isger and cause trouble again." She sniffs.

"That is too much going on in the area of Valentin's Folly to not wonder if something isn't going on."

She pauses. "Why that fool wanted to build a castle in the wilds is beyond me."

"Anyways. While I'm sure the green dragons supposedly seen flying over the woods are the result of shepherds drinking too much ale, the bandit activity is real."

Then she pulls all of you in with her eyes. "Obviously, I believe you can successfully complete this mission. You've had a day to think over what you learned yesterday during your interview. What would you ask of me?"

She leans back a bit, watching each face.

Hey, I said she was a hero. I didn't say she was likeable.

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

"I merely require a map and the name of a good blacksmith to sharpen my blade". Petracleus continues, "If we encounter banditry on the forest road, it will be dealt with....."

"A blacksmith? Dubrel's shop is easy to find. Anyone in the streets can give you directions, but it's in the merchant quarter. He does good work."

She pulls a rolled up piece of parchment from inside her tunic and places it on the table. "Here is a map."

This is the one in the Campaign Guide.

"I strongly suggest you establish a base at Swallowfeld before you begin wandering the Arthfell. You may get some information from the locals. And they'll have some tales of the bandit activity there."

"That merchant, oh, what is her name? Tribbla. Trystia, Tryphena. Yes, that's it. Tryphena. She seems strangely knowledgable about all kinds of doings in the area."

She looks thoughtful at that last statement.

Male Halfling Druid

"Well, I'll certainly be at home in the forest, far more than I am here. I'll be glad to be off and going as soon as everyone else is ready."

Shane instinctively reaches back to feel the quarterstaff slung over his back, and then checks his belt for the dagger that can be seen tucked into it.

Male Human Rogue/01

Wix nods pensively.

One might surmise we could have our hands full up there. Druids, goblins, dragons and other humanoids with a penchant for banditry. Are there any resources the Society has in the area we could bring to bear if needed?

Otherwise, I agree with setting up in Swallowfeld. One is not particularly fond of "roughing it" as the saying goes.

Karlae looks a bit surprised at Wix's comment.

"YOU are the resources being brought to bear in the area."

Adventurers today are nothing like the Guard was.

"Since you will be roaming about in the forest, remember my warning about the Shadow Pack. If you get in their way, it will not go well for you."

And I'll have to go through this tiresome process of finding new meat...adventurers.

"Aye my ladyship, and we all sincerely thank ye for yer valuable time. If'n it be my place, what does the Society have ta gain from this enterprise. As ye yerself said a pro-Cheliax faction would have eyes on this mission but what of the rest of the Society?"

Beau refusing eye contact keeping his head bowed respectfully, trying not to step out of station.

Diplomacy Check1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12

Dar watches from the sidelines, head turning back and forth as each person adds their questions or receives an answer. He absently reaches for the mead and pours himself a tall mug.

She eyes the halfling discerningly.

"One or two of you asked yesterday about payment for this mission. As I said, there will be 250 gp each for determining what is causing this bandit activity. If you resolve the issue, an additional 250 gold."

She looks at each of you before continuing.

"As I am convinced that the Keep plays at least some role in this matter, you will likely explore it. It is rumored that some of Valentin Ironwolf's treasure is still undiscovered. I wish to see anything you find. But if it is not something that the Society desires, you may keep it."

"If I am impressed, there may be further work available. Competence is always in demand. And you might learn more of the Society through further employment."

She literally sniffs. "Though, probably not.

GM Roll:

Wix 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
Beau 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Petracleus 1d20 ⇒ 7
Shane 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
Darpan 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

"Thankyou for your time, Madame. I sincerely believe we can and will repay the trust which you are placing in us"

Turning to his companions, Petracleus continues "Before we depart for Swallowfield, assuming we are in agreement about the suitability of such a place as a base, I intend to restock on supplies and to sharpen my weapon which is badly worn"

"I suggest the rest of you make preparation for a hard journey if the rumours of banditry and other activites are to be believed.....I will return forthwith"

Standing and turning back to Karlae, "I bid you farewell...we shall return".

Karlae nods to Petracleus.

"If there is anything you wish to tell me, dispatch a messsenger to me here in Olfden."

She flounces her hair a bit. "I am well known in this city.

Male Human Rogue/01

Wix stands and bows to Karlae:
Thank you, madame, for the generous offer of employment. We assure that you will not be disappointed with our labors in this matter and we shall keep you appraised as our investigation progresses.

Nodding to Petracleus:
I am ready to depart at a moment's notice, good sir. Shall I await your return here, then? Or perhaps we should all meet in the town square when we each have handled our respective particulars?

Then, to the others, nodding to each in turn:
Master Shane, Master Beau, Master Darpan ... it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If there is any way I can be of service, please do not hesitate to ask.

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

"I intend to be gone no more than two hours....if we meet in the square, we will be best set for a prompt departure....

With that, Petracleus departs to find Dubrel's shop

Assuming that it is easy to find and that sharpening of his sword and purchase of simple supplies at a nearby shop take no more than a couple of hours, Petracleus will arrive at the town square at the allotted time

Anybody want to do something besides 'get ready to go? If so, let me know. If not, the remaining two of you can post your departures and I'll move you along after that. Shane was getting up and it's implied he was leaving.

Dar agrees to meet in a few hours in the square. He nods to the young lady and heads out into the street.
Once in the square he pulls out his flute, sets out his begging bowl and starts playing.

Perform-Flute: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12

Male Halfling Druid

Shane bows his head, agrees to the meeting place, and heads back to the bar for another round of mead.

Leaving roughly at the same time, you step through the doorway and into the street, when a halfling accosts you. Wix and Shane recognize him as having been inside the Bulette, occasionally glancing over to your table.

"So,yer working for Karlae Siegfrost, are ye?" He continues on without pause.

"Be careful. Two of my mates were 'hired' by her and they ended up dead. She didn't lift one of her hero fingers to help 'em. Everyone here knows she'll use up folks for her secret Pathfinder work."

Looking at Shane and Beau, "Brothers. Best watch yer feet with that one."

The halfling wears a battered leather jerkin, with a short sword at his side. A dusty gray bandanna is wrapped around his head and his face seems rather pinched up. He doesn't impress you as someone who is popular with the halfling ladies. His brown boots are worn. He strikes you as a down on his luck adventurer.

Beau seems shocked at the halflings words.

"It seems I have a few hours to kill. If'n ye don't mind I'd love to hear more about your friend and his mission."

Beau waves the halfling over to the now empty table.

"I'm Beau by the way, and you are?"

You guys were outside the inn when he came up to you (see last GM post).

Beau moves to open the door and invites the stranger inside to talk.

He looks alarmed and backs away from the door."No, no. I don't want to draw her attention. Who knows what she might do? No, no."

He starts moving down the street. "Just remember my warning. Ya can't trust 'er."

He turns and hurries away, disappearing into the crowd.

If somebody wants to try and follow right away, roll a Survival check.

Male Halfling Druid

Shane hurries to move after the halfling, searching all around to find the direction.

Survival 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
Stealth to try to keep him from seeing that I'm following 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

Petracleus makes a mental note to ask the blacksmith a little about Karlae whilst he is having his sword worked upon....

"Two hours, I will see you soon....", Petracleus takes his leave.

Male Human Rogue/01

Wix looks a little shocked at the halfling's accusations. He hurries off after him. His cries are heard through the crowd long after he is visible.

I say my good man! Might I have another word... my good man ... I say!

Survival check: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (6) + 0 = 6

Shane flashes a grin at his new companions and heads off after the halfling.

Wix, startled by this flurry of activity, hurries after a few seconds behind.

The halfling hears Wix yelling after him and turns, surprised. He doesn't see Shane in pursuit.

Though the halfling is now being evasive, Shane follows without much trouble. After five or ten minutes, Shane notices that his quarry is moving into a less savory part of Olfden. Refuse lines squalid alleys and people stand together in small huddles, their clothes worn and second hand. Some of the locals are eying the druid with suspicion

Clearly, you are moving deeper into the "bad" part of town. Do you want to continue on alone?


Wix is quickly lost in the turnings and twistings of streets and alleys. He realizes after another minute or so that he has no idea which way the halfling went.

Beau sighs wondering to himself what mess he has gotten himself involved in. Slipping his hands in his pockets Beau starts a leisurely pace in the opposite way the halfling ran attempting to enjoy the weather while it lasts.

"Two hours eh." Beau remarks more to himself than anyone.

Male Halfling Druid

GM Iliad:
Yes, I'll continue on, but I'd like to keep a lookout for not only him, but anyone else who wants to give me any ... unwanted attention.

Perception 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Wow, I'm rolling well so far.

You stick with the halfling, not giving yourself away. He finally stops in front of a dive with a picture of an engorged unicorn on a faded wood sign hanging above the entry.

You give him a minute and follow inside, spotting him sitting at a table off to one side with two unimpressive looking humans.

The tavern is a dive, plain and simple. The kind of place frequented by those who can't afford even a cheap place. It is rather full and there is much noise and movement.

What do you want to do?

Roll a Stealth check.

Male Halfling Druid

GM Iliad:
Shane attempts to sneak through the crowd, hiding behind the much larger humans in the tavern. He approaches the barkeep, orders a drink, and tries to strike up a conversation, all the while keeping an eye on the halfling and his two companions.

Perception to keep an eye on the halfling and his companions 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14

Stealth 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21

"Rather crowded in here, isn't it? Seems like business is good." he says to the man behind the bar.

Beau stumbles into the town square about 15 minutes early finding a bench where he can watch for his companions absentmindedly scratching what appears to be a butterfly into the wood of the seat beside his leg.

Male Human Rogue/01

I shall make my way to the meeting place then, and join with the others as they arrive.

Fighter 3 / Bard 3, AC20 / T15 / FF15, F+5, R+8, W+4 (+5 vs Fear), HP45/45, Bardic Performance 11/11 Human Received the Forge Card.

Hurrying, Petracleus thinks to himself....Two hours!!!....probably not enough to find the blacksmiths and get the work done...why didn't I suggest moving out tomorrow?

Petracleus will return to the town square after he has concluded his business - he will drop a few questions about Karlae into conversation at the blacksmiths - we can RP them out or roll an appropriate skill check

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