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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32. 303 posts. 1 review. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 1 alias.


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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 41: Left Axe, Right Axe

Welcome to the final - for the moment - installment of this bit of Rise of the Runelords, Aotrs Style!

The party, refreshed and forewarned, girded themselves. Gavril cast Elation. Abbondio cast Ice Axe and Light of Lunia. Galmard cast Barkskin and shared it with Sungmanitu, and Flame Blade upon himself. Kevkas dropped into his brand new Island of Blades stance. Kaddo cast Sonic Weapon on Thrôllgar's right axe.

Ruamaini gestured to Thrôllgar, who was first up the stairs. The dwarf reached the top... but saw nothing. Kaddo followed cautiously, beginning his new song about burning things, and the party's weapons leapt aflame.

A disembodied voice that neither dwarf nor bard could locate rang around the rooftops.

"You have caused me quite some trouble, vermin! I will take great pleasure in sending your souls to my master!"

They could not see the dark, serpentine shape, invisibly, silently raising her last defensive spell, behind the statue.

Regis moved up behind them, waiting patiently for a chnace to strike.

Galmard cast Blindsight in himself and Sungmanitu and then moved to the rooftop.

And there he beheld Xanesha - five of her - floating about five feet off the floor, with a great shield of force before her, covered with glowing armour and other glittering lights of active spells, and moving far too quickly.

After a gulp, he pointed out the location to the rest of the party. Abbondio, Kevkas and Gavril moved up and spread out. Ruamaini moved up carefully, casting an Invisibility himself from a scroll.

And then Thrôllgar charged! Impressively, despite her invisibility, his swings managed to pop two of her images.

Kaddo kicked up Inspirational Boost, causing blades of the party to burn twice as hot and then tried throwing a vial of Alchemist's fire. His aim was impressive, again popping an image despite the invisibility.

Xanesha for a moment thought about using her mask... and then realised that Thrôllgar couldn't see her. Oh well... she thought and instead struck Thrôllgar three times with her spear and the dwarf's limited brains began leaking out of his head as the blood poured out of his body...

Regis stepped in, using Steel Wind on the now-visible Lamia and manging to take out another image. Galmard and Sungmanitu paused, waiting.

And Abbondio made the most important action of the battle: Dispel Magic. Desna was with him indeed. He dispelled her Mirror Image. He broke her Haste, shivered her Shield and wiped clean her Mage Armour.

(And thus dropped her AC from 34 to a still considerable 26...)

Galmard now sprang into action and moved forward as Sungmnaitu rushed in to strike, jaws aflame. Galmard himself put down a Wall of Smoke in the hopes of nauseating the lamia, but Xanesha, girded against poisons, simply ignored it.

Kevkas deftly moved in, and showing that he'd clearly been paying attention to Regis used Emerald Razor to land a vicious vital strike.

Gavril jogged up and started her own song, now making a inspiring counter point to Kaddo's song of fire.

As Xanesha was contemptuously considering simply flying out of the cloud and into a new positon, Ruamaini sealed her in with his own Dispel Magic, taking her flight and her Divine Favour. Thrôllgar enraged himself into a frenzy and began to strike blow after blow, landing only half of his strikes, but doing considerble damage between Elation, rage and the twin bard songs.

Kaddo moved in to attack, but failed to gain perchase against Xanesha's armoured hide.

Xanesha angrily forgot her mask and simply lashed out at Thrôllgar and Kevkas, striking each once and further deplated Thrôllgar's limited wisdom.

Regis struck hard with an Insightful Strike while Abbondio moved up and unleashed both beams from his Light of Lunia, though only one beam hit and the damage was minimal. Galmard called a Flaming Sphere, but Xanesha again simply shrugged it off. Sungmanitu's flaming jaws found her mark in the Lamia's hide, though Xanesha was simply too big and too strong to be pulled down.

Kevkas struck again, darting between Thrôllgar's blows, using his Burning Blade technique and Xanesha again felt a sharp stabbing pain.

Gavril tried to use her Bone Fiddle spell, but Xanesha again resisted.

Ruamaini struck in with his Seeking Ray, making his job of attacking easier now Xanesha was nicely highlighted. Thrôllgar continued his heavy, deadly swings and shearing away at Xanesha's vitality. Kaddo stepped into the spot Regis had just vacated for him and using his new fire breath, breathed... a rather disappointingly small steam of fire, which stil nevertheless tickled Xanesha's hide.

Xanesha concentrated on Thrôllgar now - perhaps unwisely foregoing her spells to hit him twice more, hoping to drop or incapacitate him, but though the dwarf was starting to have difficultly, he'd been blind drunk often enough it didn't seriously impede his abilities.

Regis struck wildly and missed, but florished his blade to ready himself to strike insightfully again. Abbondio now stepped in, striking the Lamia with a Sudden Maximised Inflict Serious Wounds, and though Xanesha shook off the worst of the effects, the damage was starting to tell.

As Sungmanitu bit again, Galmard used Mass snake's Swiftness and everyone struck the Lamia hard.

Kevkas landed another painful blow, while Gavril moved around to cast a healing spell on Thrôllgar, ready to get into melee himself.

Ruamaini hurled a Ray of Enfeeblement as Kaddo's sword bounced off Xanesha's hide. The weakening Lamia - perhaps a bit panicked and no longer thinking straight - again lashed out at Thrôllgar, but only managed a single stroke, and Thrôllgar's axes continued to land flaming, sonic blow after flaming blow.

Regis lashed in with another Insightful Strike, and truly insightful it was, sending Xanesha reeling from the strike. Abbodio struck with his Ice Axe. Galmard tried now a Sunstroke, which again did little, but Sungmanitu's flaming maw continued to strip through Xanesha's flesh. Kevkas again slammed his short sword between Thrôllgar's blows and widened every wound with murderous precision. Gavril waded in with his own sword, but found no avail against the Lamia's skin.

Ruamaini struck once more with a Scorching Ray, burning the Lamia, whose thoughts were rapidly turning to escape.

But before she could even half-form the idea Thrôllgar, with a roar, took a running jump off the statue next to him.

And right axe swung.

And left axe swung.

And right axe and left axe met in the middle.

With barely time for a last gurgle, the mighty Xanesha fell to the ground in twain.

* * * * * *

And so this part of our story ends.

Xanesha could have perhaps done a little better, though had she risked a defensive cast Dimension Door it might have only gained her a round: perhaps two as the party's buff were just starting to come to the end of her time. But with her defences shorn and the party themselves fully buffed, it was just a matter of time - even with Defiant 3 and thus 600 hit points! The party were at +1 for Elation, +2 for flanking, +2 to bard song and on damage +1 from Elation, +1 from Kaddo's Power Aura, +2 from Gavril's song and +2D6 Fire from Kaddo's Dragonfire Inspiration. Island of Blades gave Kevkas an easy flank from the first round as he stood next to Thrôllgar. Thrôllgar, of course, probably did the largest amount of damage - on top of all the rest of the buffs, he had his own rage bonuses as well. One round he hit three times (right axe, left axe, right axe) - 3 x +11 +3D10 +6D6 Fire +2D6 sonic - and did about 80 damage. Regis got a natural 20 on his second Insightful Strike's concentration check and did a good seventy or so himself. The party could see why Xanesha earned her reputation as a TPKer though - had they not been able to dispel her so roundingly successfully, they'd have been in much more trouble. As it was, they managed it in but a single session.

Next week we're carrying on with a 4E game as a bit of a break (I had said that I was quite happy to carry on to do the next book if they were, but that after 41 sessions (and what must be most of a year of real time) this was a good point for a natural break to do something different.) We shall wrap up the loose ends (do the looting and the information) next week, but essentially, this is the last part for a while.

* * * * * *

So, final thoughts for this portion.

It has been an excellent pair of modules to run. Only really the Clocktower gave me some map problems, as there is a bit of inconsistency between the RotRL source, the Magnimar sourcebook, the floorplans and the pictures... The players picked a bit of fault with the Seven Sawmill as well, starting off with asking how in the heck a watermill on a tidal river would work. (For which I had no real answer other than "well... um... maybe the wheel goes up and down with the tides..?") But otherwise, it has been flawless and great fun.

The players seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Thrôllgar has pretty much cemented himself as the centre of attention (largely because the player often is, he's just that sort of person!) and I mean that only in a positive way. Thrôllgar's social bumblings have constantly entertained the rest of the group and as I said at the start - he couldn't have handed me a better way to tie in Aldern and the murders at the start if he'd tried. I don't know what it is, but when he comes to strike the final attack, he always seems to hit with both axes. Go figure... I think he must has used that double-axe finishing blow on the majority of the boss monsters!

I haven't had many sin points awarded in the last half of the game, but I think partly that was getting out of the habit and partly the slightly lesser amount of NPC interaction roleplaying - but I think I've got enough of a measure of the characters to assign seven of the eight of them an appropriate sin. I haven't actually counted, by the by, but I'm pretty sure Thrôllgar has got more sin ticks that the entire rest of the party combined...!

I hope you have all enjoyed following this insanity here. I may take up this thread or start a new one when we come back to the Hook Mountain Massecre, time depending, but in any case: thank you for reading!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Hah! Nice.

Best use of threat - very nearly but not actually kill the PCs and then you can all have a good laugh about it!

Misroi wrote:
Awesome! I'm not sure it would actually work like that, but as long as nobody died, it all works out in the wash. I believe she'd only be able to drop one of the balls on her action, rather than the whole necklace. Otherwise, what prevents someone from throwing the whole necklace at someone, forcing your baddies to make a save or take 36d6 damage? Moreover, even if this could be done, wouldn't they get multiple saves from the multiple explosions? That'd mitigate the explosion some.

I think as a suicide action it's perfectly acceptable. Heck, I witnessed it from the player-sde of the table when were were in the middle of getting TPK'd and one of the players decided to do as Enya did - and I thin did even more of a bang (considering this was in AD&D!)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 40: The bells! The bells!

The party slowly climbed up the creaking staircase. About a hundred feet up, they heard the sound of snapping ropes and the bell came cascadin down. It hit Thrôllgar smack dead on the head with a resounding clang (critical!), before rolling over onto Regis and narrowly missing Kaddo.

I took pity on them, and only had a ten foot stretch between Thrôllgar and Regis collaspe. They both made their Reflexes saves and hung on. While Kevkas - at the lead of the party - and Thrôllgar moved a bit forward to give the other some room, Regis pitoned some ropes across and scrambled over the gap. Kevkas kept his eye on what was above, but the party were makign so much noise he didn't spot or hear anything.

Kaddo was next. He attempted the Climb check. (Which, with the rope, was DC 5). He rolled a natural 1. And down he fell. Luckily for him, I rolled pants on the damage, so he was even barely conscious!

Whiel Kaddo climbed back up to join them Regis pitoned ANOTHER rope that the party could tie themselves to so if they fell they wouldn't fall as far. Galmard was next, sending Sungmanitu across to jump. Now, Sungmanitu's Jump is +11 (stats plus base speed), so it was was a sure thing provied that she didn't... Roll a 1. *sigh* I ruled that, as even that meant she got a net +1 (1 is -10 on skill checks) that she maybe hadn't got that far and gave her a Reflex save, which she passed. So basically she made th run up and didn't quite make it and aborted, and managed to scramble back before she weant over. So she tried again. And rolled a 1. *double sigh* Made the Reflex save again and managed it the third time.

Around about this point I told the PCs that the longer they took, the easier it would be. The idea being if they just took ten/twenty, the wouldn't need to roll, since a mere DC 5 check was too much for them...! (Basically because I wanted to get to the levelling up tonight!) And at this point that if the enemy was going to drop another bell, they'd likely have done it by now. So the rest of the party finally just took ten. (With the exception of Ruamaini, who just cast spiderclimb.

They reached the upper portion of the tower and Kevkas spotted six faceless stalkers - four on the stairs, and two precariously balanced on the rafters above the southern bells (or where the south eastern bell had been anyway). The four stalkers on the stairs attempted to flee up to the the gear-room, knowing they (without ranged weapons) were as screwed as the PCs. The two on the rafters had the idea of leaping off to attack the PCs (they were a bit suicidal).

Kevkas hooked his grappling hook around the rafters and scrambled up, while Ruamaini lobbed a Sudden Maximised Fireball. This caught four of the stalkers - the two in the rafters and the two on the southern portion of the stairs. Of them, only the one above the south-west bell, protected by the bell, made its save. The one above where the south-east bell had just barely recovered from the blast when a smirking Kaddo Greased the rafter. With a traditional Wilhelm Scream, off it went. The long drop to the floor obviated any need to work out damage.

Galmard tried a Sunstroke on the one still in the rafters, but it shrugged it off. Thrôllgar, Gavril, Abbondio and Regis moved up and around the stairs (well, Regis mainly stayed where he was because of not being able to get anywhere with his moves that didn't put him next to anyone. The stalker in the rafters made a leap down to attack Thrôllgar, doing itself some damage in the process, and the stairs creaked alarmingly. Three of the stalkers on the stairs made it out of the interior and up into the clockwork room.

As for the other - Kevkas scrambled up onto the rafters, and in a superlatively effortless move, sprinted across them and dropped down right in front of it, stairs creaking. Kaddo stunned it with a Soundburst and Kevkas tried to shove it over the side, but failed abysmally. Kaddo tried again the next round - and still Kevkas, despite trying to just stab it - managed to miss. Ruamaini finally put it out of it's misery with an Acid Splash.

Thrôllgar, meanwhile, swung and missed and stepped back, only for it to step forward again and hit him. He then did his trademark finishing move with his axes and dispatched it.

The party then rushed up the remaining stairs to deal with the last three stalkers in the clockwork room. It was a short and one-sided fight, with the stalker's only success in that one of them hid well enough to lunge out and stab Thrôllgar in the kidneys before he dispatched it with a nearly-desultory blow.

The party were then visited by a flight of butterflies, and whipsered message to "be prepared" and felt refreshed and invigoured, as if they had a full night's rest in but a moment!

The rest of the session was spent levelling up, before we start the final fight of this portion of the campaign when I get back from holiday in a couple of week's time.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 39: The Staircrow

Just as Kaddo was finishing his translation of Ironbriar's journal, Abbondio had a dream in which he was climbing a rickity, vaguely detailed staricase, surrounded by butterflies. At the top, he heard a woman's giggle, but a horrible sounding, menacing one and he could feel a powerful magical radiance from beyond. He heard a different soft female voice whisper: "are you prepared...?"

(The DM actually looked up Xanesha's stats and realised, if fully buffed, her AC skyrockets to 34..! So this was a sort of warning to make sure (along with a subtle hint to Ruamaini he might want to get a scroll to fill the obvious gap in his 3rd level spell repatoire) they had plenty of Dispel Magic to hand, because they will absolutely NEED it!)

Thrôllgar, oddly, out of all the party, decided to go and try an find out about the Shadow Clock - and, even more oddly, succeeded! (Natural 20...) He found out about the rumour about the Scaecrow and they recognised the rhyme and started to put two and two together.

They headed over to the Shadow Clokc and went in. They just narrowly missed spotting the Scarecrow hiding. Kevkas correctly assesed both the inside of the clock as structurally sound and the staircase as dubious, and they started to head up, spaced with fivbe feet between them.

Sungmnaitu and Galmard were at the back, so just as Sungmanitu at the very rear took the first step, they were first to spot the Scarecrow as it moved to attack.

Gavril started off using a Targeting Ray to make shooting it easier - and SR: No meant it worked perfectly fine and gave them no clues. The Scarecrow, now within reach, hit Sungmanitu twice and down she went. Kevkas took a shot with his own bow and missed badly. Kaddo began singing and used his Inspirational Boost. Thrôllgar then did something very brave. He was (I stimated ) about ten or fifteen feet from the floor at this point, and a good fifteen feet from the Scarecrow. He briefly considered using his longbow, but then decided, frack it, and that he was going to leap out and try to attack it as he fell.

I said, fine, he'd take falling damage regardless, but if he made the jump check, he wouldn't provoke an attack of opportunity (though he wouldn't count as charging). He rolled a 20. Which, under our rules, counts as 30, which with his net +3 Jump actually hit the DC 30 check for jumping 15 feet with no running start. I gave him the +1 bonus for higher ground for good measure. So Thrôllgar made a mighty leap out, and landed a solid blow on his way down.

Regis ran back down the staircase - past the other party members, cauysing it to crack omniously - to get to where Thrôllgar had been standing.

Ruamaini, a bit closer to the action, fired off a Seeking Ray. Not only did this fail to do any damage, it also healed some of the damage Thrôllgar had done. Ruamaini then had a guess (and a knowledge check) to determine this was probably some form of Flesh Golem.

Galmard ran back down the stairs and as far away as possible as he could, pretty sure he couldn't do anything to it. Abbondio also started moving back down the stairs.

Gavril took a shot at it, but missed. The Scarecrow laid into the (fortunately) now raging Thrôllgar, hitting twice. Kevkas and Kaddo also fired, with similar effects to Gavril. Kaddo also had moved closer, so Sungmanitu was within range and switched to his Vigor aura to stabilise the wolf. Thrôllgar began to hack chunks out of the Scarecrow. Ruamaini then threw a Firebolt at it. While it only did D6 damage - because that much of the spell was SR:No - it was Fire damage, and Ruamaini was pleased to see he'd been right; it was slowed by magic fire. (For nine long rounds, at that...)

Regis and Kaddo, meanwhile, decided that the best option was for Kaddo to cast Sonic Weapon on his adamantine longsword and pass it to Regis, so Regis delayed. Abbondio stepped into range and had a swing but missed, as Galmard cheered from the back.

Gavril now cast Elation, giving the party a further much needed boost. The Scarecrow continued to hit Thrôllgar, but at half the rate. Kevkas fired again, but failed to do anything. Kaddo cast his spell and passed Regis the sword as he moved down and dropped off the staircase, landing smoothly with his Acrobatics. Regis then rushed down the stairs, but couldn't quite reach the Scarecrow to attack it that round (but did use up its attack of opportunity). Thrôllgar continued to slash gouges in it, buffed up quite high now. Ruamaini had one last useful shot with Lesser Orb of Sound before he got his heavy crossbow out. Galmard decided, screw it, and charged in, now flanking the Scarecrow - he even did two points of damage! Abbondio cast up Blade of Blood and took a swing but missed.

Gavril moved a bit closer, down the stairs. The Scarecrow was happy - sort of, it was looking worse for wear at this point - it had a dwarf and it could hit it... Kevkas decided to try some bravery himself, and jumped out from his point on the staircase even higher up (he'd been at the front of the party), tumbled safely down onto the wagon and into position, ready to strike. Kaddo remembered to switch his aura back to Power for damage again, and slipped up to give Thrôllgar a much-needed cure spell. Regis slammed the Scarecrow with a Sapphire Nightmare Blade, while the dwarf and druid continued to hack large and small chunks respectively, out of the Scarecrow's hide. Ruamaini shouted out when he'd learned to use his crossbow, he used to practise of straw targets - and promptly managed a maximum damage hit! Abbondio managed to bash it hard with his still-blooded mace.

Gavril moved around and into attack taking a scythe blow for his trouble, but landing a sharp retort of his own. The Scarecrow continued to slowly batter Thrôllgar to death. Kevkas, on the other side stabbed it hard. Kaddo took a step backwards, and lobbed a vial of Alchemist's Fire right at the Scarecrow and set it burning. Regis used Leading the Attack, making it even easier for the party to hit. Thrôllgar continued to spread bits of Scarecrow over everwhere.

(At this point he was raging +2 to attack +2 damage, Elated +1/+1, Inspired +2/+2, Power aura'd +0/+1, flanking +2/+0 and now had another +4 bonus on top (so +11/+6). He was hitting at max power attack on a 3. He did not miss.)

Ruamaini was reloading. Galmard managed to actually miss, even with all the buffs by rolling a 5, one short of what he needed...!) (Oh, must remember to give him another Envy mark!) Abbondio power attacked to the maximum... and managed to do himself a mischief and pull a few muscles in the excitement.

Gavril hit it again, the Scarecrow hit the long-suffering Thrôllgar. Kevkas stabbed it once more, and it was now looking very very sorry fo itself. Kaddo's Alchemist's Fire burnt out so he tossed a new one in, which merely fizzled - had it burned a little more, it would have killed it. This left Regis to land the final finishing blow and the Scarecrow toppled over. It barely had time to stop twitching before Thrôllgar has its head off to go on his belt, Geralt the Witcher style...!

That ended the session. Next week there are six Faceless Stalkers up top to deal with; double the number because that's just enough to edge them into level 6. I am also going to make a break from my usual drill; post that skirmish, a flight of butterflies will ensure the PCs not only level-up there and then, but will feel refreshed as if they had slept the night. (Normally, I only give you the benits - likes spell slots - after a rest period.)

Basically because, knowing Xanesha's reputation as a TPK'er - especially with pfft Defiant 3 on top! I don't want them going in at less than full strength. Plus, as we will be leaving the AP for a bit at the end of Skinsaw Murders, it does make a nice climax to the this installment of the campaign!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 38: Stole Pidgeons

We started out by confirming that I had indeed missed Gavril's last action last session, so he quickly got out of dodge.

Kevkas moved up and finally put an end to Cultist Number 3, freeing Galmard and Abbondio.

Ironbriar stabbed Thrôllgar, and here I made a bog-up (as Thrôllgar's player was running late). :Looling at his hit point, I assumed Thrôllgar's player was counting his hits up, not down (because sometimes the some of players count it that way) and I was sure I'd hurt him more than I had from last time. So I misread it, and the player who was running him said it put him unconscious. Thrôllgar's player eventually arrived and corrected me, but by which time, we'd run a few rounds. So I said that, yeah, okay, Thrôllgar wasn't actually down, the Confusion spell effect had just made him catatonic or something instead.

(It's been a long week - family problems. Twice this session I made the uncharacteristic mistake of thinking confusing Kaddo's actions with Gavril's (right player - he was playing both - right model, wrong character.)

So, anywat, Thrôllgar dropped catatonic, and Ironbriar had a breather (while Kaddo and Gavril arrowed the last cultist to death) to slap a Cure Serious Wounds on himself. The party were in a bit of a bottleneck. With Ironbriar stood at the west end of a 20' strength of corridor, with the door 15' down, and now two bodies directly in front on him, they were having problems getting to bear, and most of the oparty spent their time milling around uanble to get, with the two bards throwing a few status spells that Ironbriar shrugged off.

Galmard rushed in wolf-form and bite him, but failed to trip him, and Ironbriar stabbed him for a bit of damage. Kevkas popped out behind him and chucked a dagger at the Justice, but (unsurprisingly) it bounced.

Thrôllgar at this point, came around (i.e. the Confusion spell wore off.) (Actually, as we all said, having Thrôllgar not randomly attacking and running about confused was probably a net bonus...) He'd run out of rage at this point, though, with fatigue setting in.

Galmard then ran off out of the way, allowing Thrôllgar to stand up
And now that there wasn't a dwarf lying in top of him and wolf standing on him fighting Ironbriar, Regis was able to pull Ruamaini out so the wizard could get up... and fail to hit with his Unicorn Arrow. (Ironbriar's opportunistic flail completely missed Regis.) The Justice took a step back, around the corner, working on the basis that then he could step out of reach and cast a spell (since his woeful +5 concentration skill made defensive casting a bit of a gamble). Kaddo actaully manged to miss with a thrown flask of Alchemist's fire such that it bounced off the corner and landed at Thrôllgar's feet, splashing him and Kaddo, while Ironbriar ducked around the corner. (I gave him and Regis - who was in the doorway - a Reflx save, since they were both i cover and at the very extreme of the splash area).

Thrôllgar stepped up and landed a solid critical, and undid all the good Ironbriar's healing did him. Ironbriar, realising that his healing wasn't going to save him, made a desparate gamble and cast a Inflict Serious Wounds on Thrôllgar and actually made his concentration check. This did a fair bit of damage to the dwarf - but not enough. Kaddo distracted the Justice by tumbling past him (good time for a high check result!) and then the added flanking bonus meant that - once again - Thrôllgar's left axe and right axe met in the middle!

(I lose more villains that way...!)

The party looted the corpses and came away with quite a lot of loot. 17 masterwork war-razors and 16 skinsaw masks (Ruamaini's player earned himself some karma by reminding me of the chap who got his mask destroyed.) Of course, what they probably don't realise is that that stuff they sold is likely to be bought back by the other elements of the Skinsaw men in due course, but what they don't know...!) They found Ironbriar's notes. Kaddo could read the draconic and the Elven, but not the infernal... And him having to make two DC 25 Dechiper Script checks per day to make any progres would have made it a very long job.

Kevkas found the rookery and Galmard actually managed to bag up the ravens (like you would a falcon or a parrot or something) so they could take them away. They thoughtfully took the feed as well.

There was a brief debate about who would get the rookery's parchement, ink and quill (to my amusement) between Kaddo, Kevkas and Ruamaini, with the former ending up with it.

The party then left the mill. Strangely, concurrently with them leaving, a lit lanturn (because no windows of course) happened to fall into a completely unintentionally stacked pile of sawdust, leaving the Seven Sawmill to accidentally burn to the ground, apparently tragically killing all the workers...

While most of the party went shopping (to be done next week), Kaddo, Gavril and Ruamaini set down to work out how to translate the journal. In the end, we settled on Ruamaini/Abbondio using Comprehend Languages to transcribe the Infernal, so Kaddo (with his Insight dragon shaman aura adding to his check) could try to make heads and tails of it, with Gavril humming encouragement in the background.

I rolled to see how many checks Kaddo would need - good for them, I rolled 3. It still took him a week (during which time the party have moved into Aldern's townhouse, as they now have the deeds); he made such a lot of progress the first two days, but that last bit of the cipher took another five days to crack!) And rumours of Justice Ironbiar's mysterious disappearance did the rounds...

On the first day, though, Galmard used his druidic spells to interrogate the ravens, who told them about taking messages between the elf and the "pretty lady thing" at the tower. Putting that together with that Kaddo has learnt from the journal is enough to point the finger to the Shadow Clock, where we shall head next week.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 37: Judge, Jury and Executioner...

(You will have to forgive the lack of my usual blow-by-blow - this time it was a long and complex combat of about seven or eight rounds, and even my anal retentive detail memory skill is not sufficient to keep track of it all! So just the highlights then!)

The party continued to press upstairs, Ruamaini checking the Lumber collection room was clear as the rest of the aprty rushed upwards. Kevkas was first into the door of the logsplitter room - whein four cultists, four cultist brutes (additional couple of levesl of fighter) and a foreman (rogue 1/cleric 5) waited, the latter invisible, plus Cultist Number Three in the far corner. Ironbriar and his two guards (more culitists) were waiting upstairs for the right moment to strike - Ironbriar was also invisible.

The battle started off well. Though Kevkas nearly got stabbed by the cultist lurking by the door, when Regis moved into fight a pair of brutes, their attempts to shove him into the logsplitter failed abyssmally. They tried hitting him with Blade of Blood but one of them fumbled so badly, he hit himself. Kaddo kept about four of the enemy stun-locked with Soundburst for a good couple of rounds.

Things started to go less well when Abbondio, who'd charged across the room to attack a cultist, suddenly felt a sharp pain in his back as the Foreman backstabbed him. One of the cultist Kaddo hadn't stunned also moved up, and Abbondio was hit - despite his own attempts to cure himself - by multiple sneak attacks and went down.

The things really started going badly when Ironbriar's guards tumbled right past Gavril and Ruamaini (to be effortlessly dispatched by Thrôllgar), who were outside the room. This lead the way for Ironbriar to walk up to Ruamaini and hit him with a Sneak Attack Inflict Moderate Wounds... which was SO cLOSE to being a critcal, which likely would have killed Ruamaini outright as he failed his save! So he went down. Gavril tumbled into the room, to let Thrôllgar out at at the Justice and dropped the cultist in the corridor with a Hideous Laughter so that the dwarf wouldn't be flanked for good measure.

Kevkas and Sungmanitu kept hacking away at the Foreman, Galmard took down one cultist in wolf-shape and started on the next, with Regis was fighting more or less three brutes and one cultist solo. Fortunately for him, they missed quite a lot, and it was only towards the end they managed to land a trio of hits - but with three lots of Sneak Attack, Regis was starting to look worried.

By that point, though, Sungmanitu and Kevkas had finished off the Foreman and Sungmanitu started work on the forth brute, Kevkas went to help him and they dropped the brutes fairly shortly afterwards.

Kadod, meanwhile, had been trying a lot of other spells. He'd switched his aura to Vigour, and the 1 hit/round Fast Haling proved to be extraordinarily useful, and it mean both Abbondio and Ruamaini stabilised and started to come around.

Ruamani was a bit stuck though. Ironbriar first stepped over his unconscious body and readied a Inflict Serious Wounds to slap Thrôllgar with the moment the raging dwarf predicatbly stepped out the door. He did a grand total of 58 damage, which Thrôllgar was less then pleased about! With Gavril to slap a Cure on him, though he laid into the Justice, but Ironbriar's high AC was proving to be problematic.

For his part, Ironbriar realised he was kind of screwed. With his feeble concentration skill, he wasn't going to get much in the way of more spells off, and without a sneak attack and flanking, with his terrible attack bonus, he was struggling to hit. So he backed off a bit and tried using his mask to Confuse Thrôllgar and suceeded on the second attempt. Sadly, this had the effect of making Thrôllgar act normally the first round, babble incoherently the second round and attack the nearest creature the third.

Ruamaini couldn't do much other than lie there, with first Ironbriar and then Thrôllgar standing on top of him. It was as well the latter did so, though, since with his mask, Ironbriar could see Ruamaini wasn't dead. With Thrôllgar confused, though, he didn't dare risk trying casting a spell or something, and played dead.

Which was as well, as Gavril had a lucky escape that third round; he'd stepped back out into the corridor to start hitting the still-laughing cultist before the spell wore off. The raging Thrôllgar rolled a hit and a critical... And it was touch and go whether they would be on Gavril or Ironbriar... and they both hit the latter.

As we reached the end of the session, the Justice is now looking very grim, having had to sacrifice a hit point block for finally failing a Will save against Kaddo's Hideous Laughter and those two hits wiped out nearly a full block of hit points, less a point, taking him down to half-way through his last block. Galmard is still fighting one cultist (despite him and the now-recovered Abbonsdio - attacking from the floor - attacking and there's one still fighting Regis and Kevkas. The laughing cultist has finally stopped, but Gavril might have to get out of the way sharpish before he gets Thrôllgar'd!

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Episode 36: Saw Losers

The party headed out to the Seven Sawmill. After some debate (during which they questioned how a watermill can work on a tidal river - yer dropped the ball on that one Paizo (and people query why I spend seven weeks learning astrophysics so I can get my new campaign world right)), they decided to simply go up and knock on the door. (The door to the undermill.)

They chap that answered was obstinate (as he told them, they were clearly adventures (they have a freaking banner, for rag's sake!) and that he very much doubted that they wanted any wood, and that their clients were very exclusve.) He was telling the complete truth when they asked him if he knew anything about trips to Absolom and he said no... (Because that entry in Foxglove's ledgers was a front for his payment to the Brothers...) Kevkas decided in the end to use his Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering) to point out all the flaws in the building design.

The cultist made a show of sighing and saying that, fine, he'd let them in to do that if it would mean a quiet life. So the party wandered in, seeing four other chaps walking around. (At this point, I drew the map out, and let the PCs wander around.)The chap directed Kevkas to go and show his mate where to mark thuis structural damage. Which Kevkas did, whereupon the cultist shut the door behind him, and he and two of the others grabbed their war-razors and masks and the other two revealed themselves as Faceless Stalkers...

Thus begins one the more extensive fights. Ruamaini started out with a Fireball, causing one of the cultist's mask to be destroyed, as well as be badly burned. Kevkas stabbed the Faceless Stalker next to him with a good Sneak Attack, which had a go right back it him and hit hard. Kaddo threw off a thundercalled Soundburst which stunned one of the cultists. Thrôllgar then started what would be today a chain of critical hits, carving the unhurt Faceless Stalker in twain.
Galamard and Sungmanitu deftly finished off the mask-burned cultist as he stumbled towards them.

The cultist by the door (cultist number three) legged it upstairs, pursued by Regis and Gavril.

Abbondio hit the Faceless Stalker with Bewildering Visions and it failed the fort save, and thus stood there, nauseated by terrible day-dreams of Desna.

Ruamaini, seeing the situation was in hand, followed Gavril out of the door. Kevkas stabbed the Faceless Stalker again, and then moved back out of the way, and Kaddo stunned it with another Soundburst (I was doing really badly on my saves tonight!) Thrôllgar stepped up and smeared the stunned cultist across the floor.

Galmard and Sungmanitu also rushed upstairs, and the cultist three ran into the lumber collection room and upstairs to warn everyone else. The defenders in the lumber collection room (four more cultists and two more Faceless stalkers) would thus buy time for the upstairs defenders to get ready.

Regis ran around, but couldn't quite make it to the door. Gavril started singing as he moved fowards. Abbondio, downstaits, slapped a Cure Light Wounds on Kevkas.

Ruamaini continued to move up to the lumber collection room. The lower-floor defenders cultists put up their Shield of Faith spells. The two Faceless Stalkers moved out of the door and with one cultist standing on the side of the door, basically formed a "L" shape with 5' between them. They took a swing or two at regis, but didn't achieve anything.

Downstairs, Kevkas and Kaddo hit the Faceless Stalker - still stunned, still nauesated, but left it not quite dead. Thrôllgar, confident they could handle it, started his run up the stairs. Galmard and Sungmanitu made it to to just behind Regis and Ruamaini by the door to the lumber collection room. Galmard tried - emphasis on tryan Icelance, and only missed hitting the wolf and the mage by the narrowest of margins...

Regis stepped foward and hit both Faceless Stalkers with Steel Wind. Gavril, insanely, ran foward to stand between both Faceless Stalkers, and cast a Wave of Grief which managed to hit four of the opposition, though only cultist number six failed his save. Abbondio followed the dwarf up the stairs.

Ruamaini managed to smash a Lesser Orb of Sound into the wall. The Faceless stalkers and Cultists all moved so they could take a hack at Gavril, who was rather badly injured by the Faceless Stalkers, though the cultists all missed (and one of whom took two attacks of opportunity to get into position).

Downstairs, Kevkas finally killed the Faceless stalker, as and Kaddo dashed up the stairs, looked for lever for the machinery. He found it - and pulled it, and found that actually, his health-and-safety analysis hadn't actually been mis-aimed, since the emergancy stop lever broke off in his hand... Thrôllgar and Abbondio continued to run up the stairs.

Sungmanitu killed one cultist, and Galmard lobbed a Mass Snake's Swiftness, which allowed Gavril and Regis to hit the leftmost Faceles Stalker again, and Sungmanitu to trip the cultist just inside the door.

Gavril stabbed the Faceless Stalker in front of him and Regis hit it with an Insightful Strike and brought it down.

Ruamaini hit the other Faceless Stalker with a Firebolt. The downed cultist, despite having no Concentration skill, managed a defensive cast to try and Command[i] Regis to step off the pier. Regis said firmly "no." As Kevkas finally ran up the stairs, the remaining Faceless Stalker went after Gavril again, doing some more nasty damage. One of the other cultists stepped up and tried [i]Command on Regis again for with the same idea, and once again Regis told him where to go...!

Galmard hurled a Sunstroke at the weeping Cultist number six, fatiguing him and making him cry harder. Sungmanitu continued to savage to cultist on the floor. Gavril tumbled and ran to the back of the party out of the way (now on 3 hit poits!) Abbondio made it to the back of the party, finally, and healed Gavril.

Ruamaini's Seeking Ray put long-suffering cultist number six out of his misery. Kaddo hit another Soundburst off, injuring the Stalker and remaining standing cultist. Thrôllgar finally got in, and swung his axes with fervour getting TWO critical hits and shearing BOTH the Faceless Stalker and cultist in half. Sungmanitu finished off the one on the floor, and the area was now clear.

The party thus have now begun moving up stairs to the next room (cultist number three from the door having vanished that way.) What they don't know it that six more cultists, plus four cultits brutes (cultist with another level of fighter), plsu a slightly higher level cultist foreman and of course, Ironbriar awaits them - all buffed up to the gills!

That will have to wait for a couple of weeks however, since I will be away again next week.

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Episode 35: Face(less) Off

Back from holiday (and illnes!)

The party - after determining that they should have had the keys (I must have told them about the keys, but I don't think anyone wrote them down - I cut them a break because it'd been two weeks since), they decided to go in via the front door.

They got as far as the trophy room, before they heard "Iesha" and "Aldern" calling to them from the dining room, welcoming them and saying they'd prepared a meal for them. Kevkas opened the door and saw the dining room. Now, I had the door to the study beyond, and the double doors to the rear porch opened, because I'm getting very conscious that eight party members makes for a tight squeeze in close confines, and they often run out of space to move.

"Aldern" and "Iesha" were standing on the opposite side of the door to the trophy room, 5' apart ("Aldern" thus blocking the doorway to the study behind them.)

The party were suspiscious. Kevkas stepped in and pointed his sword at "Aldern", demanding to knwo what was going on while Kaddo slipped into the space in front of the north closet/privy door. The two Faceless Stalkers did try and bluff, but Kevkas wasn't buying it (on top of the player's own misgivings), so the Stalkers gave up, dropped their disguises and attacked.

Regis stepped right in first, moving in front of "Iesha" in the east end of the room, and made a single attack, but missed. Gavril started out with a song (with her now-improved Inspire Courage). "Aldern" stabbed Kevkas with his sword, doing a fair bit of damage. Thrôllgar stepped into the doorway, in front of the pair (but not between them) and started in on "Aldern", but he also had to kick the table and chair out of the way, so only got in a single swing. Ruamaini shot through from the trophy room and hit "Iesha" with a Seeking Ray, electrocuting her and making it much easier for him to shoot her again. Kevkas stepped around "Aldern" and managed to nick him (both Stalkers were Defiant 2 with 60+60+60 hitpoints). Both he and Thrôllgar were thus relieved to see that the Stalkers - while only scratched by their attacks - were at least bleeding (and thus not being Undead!)

"Iesha" had a swing at Regis, and did some minor damage. Abbondio started out with casting Aid, the most useful bit of which was ten extra temporary hits for the party. Galmard stepped in next to Thrôllgar, in front of Aldern, and Sungmanitu took a sword strike as she went to box "Aldern" in between her master and Kevkas. (Now the only space remaining for either stalker to got was between them, unless "Aldern" backed off through the doorway.) Kevkas and Thrôllgar both noticed that this didn't cause "Aldern" to drop his guard on a perception check (allowing them to surmise they had Combat Reflexes.)

Kadfo did something very brave (and a bit stupid!) He attempted to tumble past "Aldern" to stand behind him. Sadly, as this required a DC 25 Tumble check, he fluffed it - so he stopped in the only place in front of "Aldern" that was free - right between the two Stalkers. Luckily for him, his check was high enough that he avoided the AoO from "Iesha" as he tumbled past, but got a solid hit from "Aldern." He did give Aldern a strike in return, though it was minimum damage (a fact that peeved Kaddo for most of the rest of the fight!)

Regis forced "Iesha" on the defensive with an Emerald Razor. Gavril decided to try and follow suit with what Kaddo had done. He failed his first tumble check - but as he had nowhere to go, he couldn't leave the trophy room. He tried again, and this time, got a 17 (the bards needed 14 and 15 respectively!) and got past.

Aldern turned around and stabbed Kaddo in the kidneys, taking full advantage of his sneak attack. (It was at this point, I realised that that I took make a slam attack as a secondary as well, so I started doing so.) Thrôllgar laid into "Aldern" with his axes, and Ruamaini shot her with a Scorching Ray. Kevkas, given a flanking advantage, gave "Aldern" nasty stab. "Iesha" also then savagely struck Kaddo twice. Even buffed with Aid and with his shiny new Dragon Shaman level, Kaddo went down hard (to -10). Abbondio, unable to reach him, instead cast up Spiritual Weapon (which he'd just swapped in for Elation, since Gavril picked that up as a Bard spell). Desna's Starknife thus started slicing at "Aldern." Galmard and Sungmanitu also attacked, though only Galmard landed a blow. Kaddo failed to stabilise...

Regis hit "Iesha" with a beautiful critical Sapphire Nightmare Blade - between him and Ruamaini, she was getting worn down fast. Gavril had to reach past Aldern in the doorway to cast Cure Moderate Wounds on Kaddo. He forgot to cast defensively - but as I'd ruled he would be getting a swipe anyway, it didn't matter: "Aldern" managed to very nearly get his longsword stuck in the doorframe, so Gavil had no problems bringing Kaddo back to consciousness. "Aldern" attacked Gavril - once the bard was down, he wouldn't be flanked anymore - doing some minor damage with his sword (and not, for example, stabbing Kaddo while he was down, because I'm not totally cruel!)

Thrôllgar kept swinging at "Aldern", while Ruamaini shot "Iesha" with a Ray of Enfeeblement dropping her Strength by 8. Kevkas stabbed "Aldern" again, still able to sneak attack because Galmard and Gavril were flanking him.

(I know that's not strictly correct, but at some point, we got it into our heads that "if one flanks, everyone flanks" somehow, and so I keep consistent to that.)

"Iesha", much weakened, attacked Regis, and managed to shockingly hit twice! Sadly, the damage was paltry, as one might expect. Abbondio's Spirit Starknife actually hit "Aldern," doing some more damage. He then capitalised on the party's advantage by stomping his foor down as he cast Shockwave. (From Relics & Rituals.) "Aldern" actually failed his Reflex save against the 0th level spell, and fell flat on his face. Galmard and Sungmanitu both attacked, Sungmanitu in particular tearing a chunk out of "Aldern's" leg - he was actually quite injured at this stage! Kaddo turned his Power aura back on, then tried a DC 354 Tumble check to stand as free action. He failed, but stumbled to his feet anyway, taking a sword strike from "Iesha", though not a serious one, and stabbed Aldern. ("Aldern," of course, was on the floor...)

Regis made single attack and a flourish, and Gavril gave "Aldern" another stab while he was down. "Aldern" desparately tried from the floor to attack both bards (as standing up into the teeth of no less than six AoOs was suicide!), but to no avail. Thrôllgar switched targets to "Iesha", and she too was now starting to look properly injured. Then Ruamaini's pin-point accurate Lesser Orb of Sound took a huge chunk of our her body and spread it over the rear wall. She staggered, not quite dead yet, but very close to it.

Kevkas coolly assessed the struggling "Aldern" on the floor before him and then took a half step foward and plunged his shortsword defeftly into the stalker's eyesocket.

"Iesha" made on last desperate series of attacks on Regis, narrowly avoiding Abbondio's Spirit Starknife - before the long-suffering Kaddo dealt the final blow and got his revenge.

The party then searched the rest of the house and found Aldern's secret stash. They spent the rest of the evening going over the (community-made) handouts and deciding they need to go and investigate the Seven Sawmill. A quick check with the local businesses and they located the address easily. (I'd actually handed out the GM's map of Magnimar by accident, and it was on there, not that the module even suggested it was hard to find!)

That was where we ended the session.

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[b]Episode 34: Snake in the Grass/b]

The party headed back to Sandpoint to rest and identify items. They blew a couple of thousand gold buying a scroll of Hallow (I waivered the usual gp limit for the sake of arguement) and sent Abbondio back to use it to clear out Vorel's influence whle the rest of them had a day of downtime.

Thrôllgar's plan A was to ask Gavril really nicely to borrow the Hat of disguise. He refused.

Thrôllgar went to plan B. I preprard myself for the worst...

He had a bath, groomed his beard, neatened his hair, bought some new clothes, some flowers and a big slab of nice meat. This generated enough interest that the party, Ameiko and a gathering throng followed him at a safe distance wqhile Hemlock was making preparatory facepalms...

Thrôllgar headed right up to Ven's door and knocked on it. Ven himself answered. Thrôllgar announced that the meat was for Ven, as a peace offering. Thrôllgar pointed out he was a hero now. (In the eyes of the village, anyway, Thrôllgar killed the manic murderer... The fact that he spent most of the fight paralysed is glossed over and indeed it seems that Kaddo's more accurate retelling of the fight did not go down well...! (He rolled for his downtime Perform check and got 3.)) Thrôllgar said that this now meant he was respectable... and that he wanted Ven's respect and extended his hand.

Ignoring Regis' catcalls from the one-in-fourp'nies, Thrôllgar actually managed to convince Ven of his good intentions, and Ven accepted the gift, the flowers for "his lovely daughter" and shook the dwarf's hand. (And the they had a brief bonding moment about that dodgy wizard bloke Thrôllgar hangs round with ("bit of a knob," says the dwarf "y'know 'cos he's got a staff and all that." (Ruamaini - perfectly in ear shot, just shrugged it off.)

So after that astonishing well-reasoned attempt at diplomacy - and a successful one at that! - the party decided to head over to Magnimar to sell stuff and track down Aldern's house.

It was now pretty grim weather, being winter and raining heavily. While they had taken the Battle Cart to carry extra stuff they did neglect to actually CHECK they'd all got tents and as such only Ruamaini and Regis did. So Ruamaini gave his extar slot to the cleric and Regis offered it to Galmard (to both my and Galmard's amusement, since he was absolutely not going to have to worry about being outside...)

In the middle of the forth watch on the second evening of the trip, the rain was simple pouring down. Galmard and Gavril were on watch (with an increasingly miserable wet wolf), but failed to see the Redback Rattlesnake slipping into Ruamaini's tent, having been displaced from its burrow in the rain. It crept up Abbondio's leg, causing him to cry out and try to swat it off - succeeding only in rudely awakening the wizard. It naturally responded by biting him - and while the players fracked about and didn't do anything when I asked them waht they were doing, it bit him again in the confusion. Galmard finally arrived to use his Wild Empathy to gentle chase it outside (though Abbondio nearly ruined it by panicking). Abbondio nursed his leg and made a ntoe to memorise Lesser Restoration for the poison damage in the morning...

(And I realised I nearly forgot about Thrôllgar's ghoul fever... Sadly, he shook it off with little effort.)

The next day, the party saw a group of aurochs passing by into a small copse, so Thrôllgar decided to take a shot at one with his bow. Naturally, one arrow wasn't going to kill it (nor enrage it to the point of charging the party) so all that really happened was he wasted an arrow.

The party finally reached the city. They headed to the Pediment to turn in their bounty, and heard about the recent murders. (Though, because the DM was wrestling beteen the Magnimar source book on an uncooperative kindle and the old source material from the AP and hadn't read ahead with the adventure, the first clerk claimed he'd never heard any such thing...!)

The party went to find somewhere to stay and (as I was struggling with said kindle and thus to find a suitable inn) suggested the Pathfinder Lodge, which I figured would be happy to accomodate adventurers at usual prices even if they weren't members. (Also, it's a good excuse to introduce them to the pathfinders - a group, I pointed out, whose relative importance could probably be measured by the fact that the Golarion rules are named after them...!)

They then headed out to sell their kit and then to dispatch the bards to the Alabaster and Naos disricts to try and find out where Aldern's townhouse is with Gather Information. They have found out, now, so I suspect their next move will be to head there.

That will have to wait a week or two, though, since I am away next week, and there is another club EGM the following week (so we may not get anything done then, either.)

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Episode 33: Thrôllgar's Bane

So, we opened with Thrôllgar in dire straits, paralysed in front of the murderer who was obsessed with him, Kevkas under the table to the left, Regis behind the dwarf and Abbondio stood next to the table and Thrôllgar.

Fortunately for the party, travelling all that time with Thrôllgar had clearly inured them to bad smells. (I.e. I forgot about the ghast stench completely...)

Kevkas stabbed at Aldern, doing some minimal harm. Ruamaini lobbed a [Firebolt[/i], but Aldern deftly dodged the explosion. Regis used his Emerald Razor to slash at the ghast. Abbondio hit Aldern with a Cure Moderate Wounds and began a chain of events that meant Aldern fialed his Will save against cures for the next several rounds). Gavril, not having much else to do, shot an arrow at Aldern and missed (as with cover and shooting into melee, the penalties were very high). Galmard, being brave, dashed through, taking a war razor to the throat as he did so. Only the barest of movements kept it from cutting his throat entirely (*another* 20-then-a-20 crit - three weeks in a row!- but sadly only a 2 on the damage roll), but as Aldern did that, Sungmaniti was able to rush past as well, and then turn and bite the ghast. (I forgot about that whole unnatural aura to now I think of it. Nevermind, they were in enough trouble!) Kaddo wanted to grease the area, but there wasn't enough room (and it was pointed out you can grease an object, or a 10' square and there was not a 10' square to cast it in, so if he tried casting it in an area that was too small, the spell would just fizzle; it would not "go up the walls"). He settled for dashing past.

Aldern then proceeded to rip into the paralysed dwarf. He wasn't - fortunately for Thrôllgar - going to sit there and do a coup de grace, but a paralysed target is not a good thing to be when you have Sneak Attack. Thrôllgar took a round 50 damage and - shock of shocks - dropped to -18. Well, metaphorically since he was still locked in place by the paralysis... Thrôllgar failed to stabilise and took a point of damage, bringing him closer to -32, where he would die. Despite the danger, Kevkas grabbed Thrôllgar, pulling him under the table and out the other side. This upset the table (a paralysed Thrôllgar is not exactly an item that fits under a table easily), but Kaddo and Abbondio were able to kick it out their way and into a position where Thrôllgar got at least some cover from it. Kevkas got a nasty slice for his efforts. Ruamaini launched a Seeking Ray, which electrocuted Aldern nicely and also made it rather easier for Ruamaini to land more spells later. Regis took a heavy swing and florished. Abbondio hit Aldern with another CMW. Gavril took another shot and again missed. Sungmanitu bit and tried very hard to trip the ghast, but to no avail. Galmard stabilised Thrôllgar with a Cure Minor and Kaddo cured him with a Cure Moderate, bringing him back up.

Aldern stepped foward, though, to where the table had been, intent on killing the paralysed dwarf. Fortunatly for Thrôllgar, the now -on-its-side table meant he only took two blows, but this dropped him back down to -10. Thrôllgar at least stabilkised himself this time... Kevkas, in desparation, grabbed his nearly forgotton spear and threw it over Thrôllgar's rigid and prostrate form, landing a solid hit. Ruamaini, assisted by his Seeking Ray, hit Aldern with a Scorching Ray. Regis, dropping his Ranseur, grabbed his longsword and moved in to use Emerald Razor again. Abbondio used another CMW - with an exceptional slap-to-the-face as Aldern managed to move his head exactly the wrong way as the blow came in (1 on his Will save). Both did some considerable damage. At this point, they were starting to actually damage Aldern properly to the point he was starting to notice the injuries. Gavril raced up behind Aldern - getting a war razor slice for his trouble - to attack with a Cure Moderate of his own... and missed. But at least now someone was finally flanking Aldern. Galmard cast up Handfire and applied the flame to the fungus patch behind him, hoping, I think, that damaging that would hurt Aldern. Good thought, but no. Sungmanitu again bit, but still couldn't drag the ghast over. And then Kaddo used Cure Moderate Wounds - not on Thrôllgar, but on Aldern. He did some damage, yes, but that meant Thrôllgar was on -10 when it came to Aldern's action...

Two hits... 21 damage. Thrôllgar was down to -31. Oh deary dear.

Kevkas grabbed a potion of CMW and dumped it down Thrôllgar's throat before he could bleed out. (As a rule, we assume that the potions are divided up among the party fairly evenly, and take them out of party funds as needed, rather than make individsuals carry them. Times like this it pays off!) Thrôllgar's paralysis finally wore off... so his unconscious body finally slumped to the floor...!

Ruamaini hit with an another Scorching Ray. Regis landed one more solid blow with his sword, leaving Aldern very unsteady. Abbondio tried a Cure Light but finally botched his concentration check. Gavril used a Pimp-slap of Doom with his CMW - and this time, even making the save was not enough. Aldern finally crumpled to the floor, finally destroyed.

In the aftermath, as they party used the Wand of Lesser Vigour to bring Thrôllgar around, Galamrd burned off the rest of the fungus with his Handfire. Kaddo suddenly had the urge to eat the fungus, but resisted it. While he did so, he, Galmard and Kevkas all saw the puzze box fragments rattle. They started to figure out, from the puzzle box (which they worked out had exploded from the inside) and the fact Kaddo saw a spot of fungus Galmard was sure he already burnt, what was going on. Ruamaini, having cast one Detect Magic over the loot, used a second one and saw the area was still very definintely radiating necromancy magic. They realised they were going to need some spells (some of which they couldn't cast now) to deal with the situation more permenantly.

As they rested up there (and the fungus grew back), they went through Aldern's stuff and were more than a little disturbed (especially Thrôllgar) on all his Thrôllgar stuff. (They elected NOT to take Aldern noble clothes or the Iesha-into-Thrôllgar painting.) They found Aldern's note, but I don't think they have fully digested it yet.

We ended the session there as they reached the dizzy heights of level 5.

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Episode 32: It All Goes Horrible Wrong

The group headed back down into the caverns. With Kevkas leading the way, they headed into the ghoul cavern, and utterly failed to spot the ghouls. The latter watched and waited from the shadows, as Kevkas headed into the mould cave. He spotted the intact pick and went to fetch it - and ran straight into the yellow mould. He coughed a bit, but felt fine. (And I started a one-minute countdown for the next save.)

The ghouls chose this moment to attack, five of them. Thrôllgar and Abbondio were standing right in front of them, but the ghouls failed to get any purchase on their armour. Ruamaini splashed one, Thrôllgar killed one, Regis stepped in and killed a third. Abbondio took a step back, out of 10' and tried to Turn them again.

(Abbondio's player was actually here today, which was nice - he's been catching the tail end of most of the sessions for a whgile, since he started an evening course that clashed.)

This time, he succeeded! (Sadly, with the Ghoul's Turn Resistance, he could only turn, not destroy them.)

The ghouls fled up the passage towards their compatriots in room 35. Kevkas followed. Now, while the sounds of combat might not have drawn the Goblin ghouls, the sudden shining light at the top of their cavern did. Kevkas didn't hear them to start with, nor did his light reach far enough to see them start their ascent.

The rest of the party rolled up, as the fresh human ghouls came down the corridor from room 35. Kevkas got out of dodge, leaving Thrôllgar to block the passage and start chipping away at the ghouls. As they gathered around the area, Kaddo's light source finally illuminated the whole of the bore and they saw eight goblin ghouls approaching. Galmard dropped a Flaming Sphere on them as he moved up. Ruamaini whipped through as they poured up the spiral path and used his scroll of Lightning Bolt to clear about half of them, with a thundercalled Soundburst from Kaddo putting paid to all but one, which dodged the flaming sphere and Sungmanitu's attack.

Meanwhile, Thrôllgar was hacking away at the ghouls, and the ghouls were failing to hit him with other than the odd glaning blow and Thrôllgar deftly made all the Fort saves. Abbondio then got into position and Turned again, and turned all but one ghoul (which was out of sight) and the last goblin ghoul, which turned and fled back down the spiral until an arrow from Kaddo hit it in the thigh and it plunged to it's death off the edge.

The last ghoul charged Thrôllgar, and proving that Thrôllgar is like catnip for ghouls, got another 20-then-a-20 critical hit! Thrôllgar, as usual, shrugged off the Fort saves (he literally only could fail on a 1), but this ghoul was sturdier, and didn't go down right away - even after Abbondio tried to whack it with his heavy mace - giving it another opportunity to gnaw... taking it's time... not dealing much damage, but savouring the taste of Thrôllgar... before he finally dispatched it.

(Seriously, I think Aldern's influence must have been transferring to all the other ghouls...!)

Thrôllgar, Gavril and Kaddo went to mop up the rest of the now-cowering ghouls (the later using Sonic Weapon on one of Thrôllgar's axes). Kevkas followed the path down to the bore and climbed over the narrow ledge to have a look at the water. As he climbed back, he suddenly went into a coughing fit as the secondary damage of the yellow mould took effect (giving him 4 Con damage), but not quite making him fall into the water.

Once the ghouls were dead, the party assembled by the door and headed into Vorel's lab. Kevkas, at the front, spotted Aldern, who started to plead to be rescued. Ruamaini at this point came foward (as his player started talking to Aldern and I asked him if he was doing so from outside the room), followed by Thrôllgar.

So then the Hurter made his appearance, only to vanish when Ruamaini hit him with a Scoraching Ray. Aldern then babbled out his story for a bit (and I only stumbled once when I mentioned Iesha too early) and the party were less than impressed with Aldern's tale... But at that point, the Skinsaw man emerged and grabbed his mask. As his first action, he stepped forward, and altered himself with the mask to (very, very poorly!) make himself Thrôllgar's mirror.

As the rear of the party suggested moving back out into the bore and luring him Aldern out, Kevkas rolled under the table as tried to take a stab at him. And then Thrôllgar charged him. (Aldern having obligingly moved into a position that made it possible to do so deliberately...) Ruamaini threw another spell. As Regis started in with the Ranseur over Thrôllgar's shoulder, Gavril sang. Galmard cast Mass Snake's Swiftness, though only Thrôllgar managed a hit. Abbondio just moved up, not seeing anything useful he could do. Finally, Kaddo tumbled past Aldern to stand next to Kevkas, with the idea of using Cure spells next round.

Thrôllgar's player (as Thrôllgar was raging and thus not given to introspection) had wondered why he'd shifted himself into Thrôllgar.

He was about to get his answer.

Aldern went at the top of the round, so I said I'd just do his attacks as a bit of a cliffhanger before we ended for the night. I demonstrated the nice net +4 bonus to attack and damage he had to maul Thrôllgar with a war razor hit and a bite.

And Thrôllgar finally failed BOTH Fort saves.

(Natural 1 on the all-important paralysis.)

So Thrôllgar is helpless in front of the monster that want to kill him stone dead!

Fortunately for him, I think Aldern's not going to just coup de grace him (too many peoiple around him for that), he'll just hack away at Thrôllgar. Though the PCs might have to be doing some fast curing all haul him bodily out of the way, since otherwise by the time they kill Aldern, they'll have to pick up Thrôllgar with a sponge...!

I did look at the players and say "so, [experienced players] who have been playing the cleric for the last two weeks... With all the ghouls you've been fighting, it never once occurred to you to load Remove Paralysis...?"

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That's very impressive! More time and effort than I'd be prepared to spend, I think!

Out of interest, what printer did you use? (I've got access to a Replicator 2, which is actually really good.) The printing time (let alone the painting) must have been enormous!

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Episode 31: The Dwarfdamned Batghoul

Our... protagonists continued to scour the basement. They found the wine cellar. Kevkas failed to find any wine left, but Regis made him search fdor secret doors and they found the secret stash. Thrôllgar suggested drinking it, until Galmard pointed out that if he wanted to spend the 150gp (+50% for the original module) it was worth, then he could. Kevkas also pointed out that a fine wine was for a refined palet and that the Dwarf who'd quaffed hagfish water was unlikely to be able to appreicate it...

They ended up in Vorel's workroom, and watched with bemusement as Regis walked straight over to the books and doubled over with agony. Regis only had a brief flash of the man in window having done something wrong and great anger, before his Moment of Perfect Mind kicked in and spared him the worst of the effects. They spent some time going through all the major players in Foxglove manor (and Galmard actually wrote it all down this time...)

Then cleared out the old servant's quarters and then headed into the pit. Thrôllgar was right behind Kevkas. The two of them explained to Kaddo that, even if the fact the stairs were not actually going down, the location of them would have put them right under the manticore in the entrance hall and so it would be physically impossible for them to go up. As he did so, Thrôllgar noticed the rotten smell increase - and then had the vision of Aldern. The rest of the party watched as he got (lightly) mauled with bemusement, and then Thrôllgar explained what he'd seen.

They are not fairly convinced Aldern is dead. And, well, they aren't FAR wrong, are they...!

They headed down into the caverns, and headed the south-west passage, into the ghoul bat's cave. Kevkas, in the lead, rwalised the light was coming from the well, and they assumed that was how the bodies got there. He and Thrôllgar entered the cavern, he to search and Thrôllgar to decapitate the dead bodies.

They were thus taken by surprise as an angry dire bat ghoul dropped on them from the ceiling. It started by savaging Thrôllgar in the surprise round (natural 2 attack, natural 20 confirmation, 10 on 2D6 for 32 damage!). It was also top of the round, so as it hovered, it bit Thrôllgar and showing above animial intelligence, clawed Kevkas. I was on fire at the start - the bite was another[/] natural 20 - followed by a 16 - so Thrôllgar took [i]another 20 damage and was now on 4 hit points. Kevkas took two hits and sme minor damage - and failed but fort saves, leaving him paralysed for 5 rounds.

Gavril started singing, being way at the rear in a narrow corridor. Galmard sent Sungmanitu in to attack, while he cast a Sunstroke - the description of it looking really rather ill not having registered. Thrôllgar went berserk, but completely missed with both axes, and Ruaimani started out with a Scorching Ray, but also missed. Kaddo dropped a thundercalled Soundburst on it for 4 whole hit points. (Out of 96+96...) Regis grabbed the ranseur and stood over sungmanitu's shoulder, landing the first melee hit. And the players gulped when they realised the ghoul bat had AC 24... Abbondio dropped in behind Thrôllgar and used a Cure Moderate Wounds which Thrôllgar much appreciated - especially as bat ghoul bit him again for another 15 or so hits! Sungmanitu took a claw hit, but shook it off.

Gavril at this point, couldn't do much apart from desultorily sling arrows, but between the high AC and the penalty for shooting into melee, he didn't manage to contribute further to the fight, aside from slinging arrows into the bat's general direction for several rounds (he fumbled twice...)

Galmard threw his spear at it, and Sungmanitu failed to hit it with her bite. Thrôllgar actually landed a blow this time, while Regis swung and missed, Kaddo dropped a paltry 1 damage from his Soundburst, Ruamaini missed with his Seeking Ray and Abbondio cured Thrôllgar again.

The bat bit Thrôllgar again, and this time managed to hit and paralyse Sungmanitu for three rounds (meaning she and Kevkas would come out of it ayt the same time). Galmard decided that at this point, he was going to be insanely brave, and walked right under it, taking the savage bite as he did so (and fortunately making his save!) and then took a swing at it. Kaddo had been planning to use Sonic Weapon on Thrôllgar's axe, but there was no way he could get in without squeezing (and given the flying enemy even more bonuses to hit!) So instead he rushed after Galmard, hoping (rightly) that the bat didn't have Combat Reflexes and was able to strike it with a Cure Moderate Wounds. Ruamaini missed with another spell - with a base touch AC of 17 (21 shooting into melee combat), he was struggling as much as the fighters were - Regis continuing to swing and miss, this time embarrasingly with Emerald Razor. Abbondio threw his dagger at it and missed.

Thrôllgar continued to get bitten, though I never managed to get any more really solid damage, and he continued to deal steady damage in return, especially now with Kaddo and Galmard flanking it. The bat clawed Galmard and Kaddo, but both remained unparalysed. Galmard then stepped back and threw off a Mass Snake's Swiftness which gave Thrôllgar, at least, another hit. Regis swung and missed and florished. Ruamaini used a Sudden Maximised Firebolt. Kaddo tried another CMW but missed with his swing. Abbondio used another Cure on Thrôllgar.

The bat, spoiled for choice, continued to eat the tasty, tasty dwarf, struck back at Kaddo twice, but failed to paralyse him. Thrôllgar hit it, Regis hit it with Emerald Razor[i], Ruamaini missed with [Scorching Ray, Galmard grabbed his club and stepped back in to attack it. Abbondio stepped back, not having much else to do.

The bat continued to eat Thrôllgar, but now I was doing only minimum damage. It lashed out at Galmard and Kaddo again, this time paralysing the latter for two rounds. Thrôllgar continued to hack away at it. Galmard missed again, and finally Kevkas and Sungmanitu came out of paralysis. Ruamaini threw his last Firebolt at it. Regis hit it again, and Abbondio stayed out of the way.

The bat bit Thrôllgar again, but again only did minimum damage (making up for my double-crits eariler!) It actually missed Galmard and Kevkas with it's claws - by a mere inch in Galmard's case. In return, both Galmard and Sungmanitu hit it, though dealt a fairly paltry amount of damage. Kevkas missed, Thrôllgar hit the now-steadily weakening bat, and Regis landed another solid strike, leaving it very nearly dead.

It made one last all-out attack on Thrôllgar, but with his axes fending it off, it only managed to gouge his arm with one claw. Galmard and Sungmanitu again tried to finish it, but failed. Thrôllgar then performed his now-signiture finishing move - left axe and right axe meet in the middle.

Kaddo came unparalysed and - while a bit miffed - still had his Cure spell in his hand, and promptly used it Thrôllgar.

The party decided they would have to have another rest as this point, given that Ruamaini was out of spells and the others had used quite a few!

Before that, though, the routed through the corpses and found the bandit. As Thrôllgar had already conveniantly already taken his head off, that was a good bit of evidence to take for the reward to Magnimar. Ruamaini ran a Detect across the longsword and the hat. After some debate, Kaddo was given the adamantine longsword.

Galmard decided he was going to put the hat on. Both Ruamaini and Regis tried to stop him, going s far as grapple checks (the party are just paranoid about cursed items, despite the fact I so very rarely use them...!) But the former is a Str 8 wizard and Regis just wasn't quite fast enough. I asked Galmard what he ws doing exactly and he said he was thinking about trying to look like Thrôllgar. (I mentally commended him for having a good guess. And a good full Envy tick for good measure!) I had him make a Charisma check (not that he knew what it was) and he got pretty good.

So suddenly there were two Thrôllgars. The old Thrôllgar's immediate reaction was "now I have a friend!" Regis tried to grapple the hat off Galmard's head - still fearing a curse, so I decided Sungmanitu had had enough (she is only an animal, after all) and that attacks master ws just Not On. She bit him for a full 9 damage before Ruamaini broke it up.

It was decided that Gavril should have general use of the hat. But Thrôllgar is already wanting to borrow it - an Gavril, sensing hilarity in the offing seems inclined to let him) so that he can use it to get past Ven Vinder and see Shayliss, being disguised as a) Ven Vinder, b) Sherieff Hemlock or c) Shayliss so that he can have sex (the implication being with Ven still in the house...)
I despair of him at this point, I really do.

I shudder to think of Shayliss's reaction - suggestions welcome!

The player said that he was just following instructions in trying to create progeny and that he thought he had a chance. I told him he still might, provided Thrôllgar stops acting like a crazy stalker...!

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Episode 30: A Murdering of Crows

And we're back!

The party continued to fight with Iesha. Iesha had clearly gained no real combat skills in her transformation into undeath, and proceeded to flail at them in the most limp-wristed way imaginable. The fact she hit Regis right in the face once (really, really hard) and clipped Thrôllgar's ear was clearly more by accident than design...

Abbondio continued to try to turn her and failed terribly every time, until he ran out of Turn attempts. Kevkas and Galmard did a good job of yelling "go team!" from the back, while Gavril slapped Iesha a few times with Cure Light Wounds, and Kaddo did a bit of healing on the party and an Acid Splash for good emasure, singing all the while. Ruamaini lobbed in a couple more spells. Regis and Thrôllgar eventually put her down, the latter finally hitting with both his axes in a trademark Thrôllgar double-axe-meets-in-the-middle.

I reminded them of what she'd said, but they didn't pay it any heed... They figured out she was the woman they'd seen in the painting, but that was about it.

They decided they better rest (Ruamaini was amost out of spells) and decided to head outside (very wisely! A midnight visit from ghouls or Aldern when low on resources would have offended...)

There, they saw the ruins covered with ravens. Galmard again wasn't sure what they were, but knew it was unatural.

Kevkas decided he'd run at them, to see if they'd fly away or stay still. They took option C - attack!

There were five carrionstorm swarms. I actually missed the part about the PCs getting an AoO as the moved to contact, so that made the fight slightly longer than it might have been. (I realised my mistake later.)

Regis bravely stood his ground - at one point surrounded by four swarms - to provide cover while everyone else started to leg it back to the mansion, before fallign back himself. Galmard and Kaddo got caught in a swarm, however, and both were nausated - sadly before Kaddo could unleash a thundercalled Soundburst. The party fell back to just outside the door, where Galmard, Gavril and Kaddo had made it. Thrôllgar charged back out again, to lend support, and the fight continued with Abbondio and Thrôllgar just outside the door, while the rest of the party fought from the doorway (or stood out of the way in the case of some of the others!) As Kaddo's Soundbursts went off around him, and Thrôllgar got into a deadly murderous pattern with his axes, blendering through the endless stream of crows.

Ruamaini grabbed a scroll of Burning Hands out of his pack, and Gavril stepped out of the doorway, where'd he'd been slashing away with his lognsword, to let the wizard through. This wiped out one of the two remaining swarms.

Thrôllgar then stepped into the zone. (He rolled natural twenty on both of his attacks.) In a stupendous show of axedwarfship, worthy of a song, his axes went into a blur, a deadly inescapable pattern of doom. He did not simply disperse the swarm, but killed each and every one of the carrionstorms with a precise and deadly strike, leaving the party's jaws dropped.

He briefly considered becoming Thrôllgar Ravenbane (until Kaddo pointed out that was still kind of lame). He decided to name his axes instead and it was pointed out that carrionstorm meant he could legitimately go for something like "stormkiller" and get away with it. (I'm not sure what he actually went for in the end.)

The party then went to rest, during which time Abbondio (who had done rather badly in the swarm attacks, taking max damage four out of five times!) had a bit of as think and worked out the timeline - Foxglove Manor (and Vorel) was built about forty years before Sandpoint*, and it was abandoned until Aldern's folks moved back in twenty years prior and a few years thereafter the burning event occurred.

After a quiet rest, the party headed down into the basement. As Kevkas started to search, Kaddo and Ruamaini were chatting about the cracks in the wall, and thus disturbed the rats. The party heard the rats coming, and prepared. The fight was short and one sided - as NOW I discovered about the AoO, the party's readied actions (giving them basically two attacks as the swarm moved in, plus readied thundecalled Soundbursts and the fact the rat swarm were coming out one at a time meant that they went down very quickly with minimum damage (and everyone made their saves agains Vorel's Phage, dammit!)

They looted the kitchen of valuables (which I remembered this time to doulble in value this time, since there ARE eight of them!) and there we left it.

*Sandpoint was explicitly founded "42 years ago" - 4665 - and the Foxglove Manor timeline started in 4624 or something - I suspect that was a bog-up in the module, but whatever!

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Episode 29: Mirror the Opposition

The party continued to explore.

Kevklas entered the guest bedchamber, followed by Thrôllgar. When nothing happened, the party tried to work out who should go in to make the hauntings trigger. Kaddo refused first, so Thrôllgar and Regis tried to manhandle him into the room (and failed, embarrasingly. Regis didn't even manage to get a grib, and Kaddo just slipped out of Thrôllgar's grasp.) Kevkas had wandered off to the door to the master bedroom, so Kaddo scuttled off behind him. Thrôllgar tried to lure him into the guest bedroom with a Bluff check and dropping a gold piece and claiming he'd found something shiny. It did not, as you might imagine, work.

Kevkas booted the door to the master bedroom in and went inside. As he surveyed the room and moved over to the painting, Regis and Thrôllgar decided to try bullrushing Kaddo into the master bedroom. Again, embarrasingly, the two burly fighters failed to budge the bard. Kaddo tried to dodge out of the way so as to make them both fall on their faces, but with surprising grace, neither did. Abbondio wandered past them into the room, and he and Kevkas examined the painting.

Seeing as nothing happened, Ruamaini and Regis went in and looked at it next. The latter felt a sudden wave of fear and the former heard a shrill voice shrieking about what he got up to in the basement, but aside from a brief urge to punch a woman in the face, nothing happened.

Regis then took the painting down and showed it to the rest of the party and Thrôllgar got a sudden surge of sadness. Regis put it back, satified, before Kevkas cut it out of the frame and rolled it up. (Greed point...!)

Having found the attic stairs, they headed back to the double doors to the galley. Kevkas went in and started pulling the cobwebs off, as Thrôllgar peered behind him. They both were in the room as the mould exploded everywhere, but sadly both made their Fort saves. The party then had a good look at the paintings, which jogged Abbondio's memory (as I looked a bit harder at the timeline)), allowing him to remember that while the Vorel incident was fifty years ago as stated, the fire-murderey incident was more recent. Kevkas again cut out all the paintings and took the away.

Kevkas went into the bedroom, and then went right up to the desk. He promptly grabbed the dagger and announced he was going to end it all. I made the party make initiative checks, and Ruamaini managed to rush in to try to grab his arm, but got a good stab instead. As Kevkas blinked as his head cleared and Ruamaini slapped him upside the head, Thrôllgar barrelled in to try to punch Kevkas out. The latter just dodged the blow before the rest of the yelled to Thrôllgar that Kevkas had actaully stopped trying to kil himsefl and/or the party...

Galmard and Regis seemed to put together that the person in here had had their throat slit (from the bloostain) and from Kevkas, had done it himself, though I don't think they attached it to Traver yet.

Kaddo was finally pursuaded, as the party were going to head upstairs, to stick his head into the mouldy guest bedroom. And promptly screamed, clutching at his face. As Thrôllgar and Regis were standing right next to him and watching him carefully, I let them have a grapple check (Regis, once again failed!), but Thrôllgar's iron grip prevent Kaddo from hurting himself too badly. (I gave him half damage. Still, two points of Cha damage hurts the bard!)

The party headed up to the attic, quickly clearing the storerooms and bulter's bedroom. They heard the scream and Kevkas rushed down to the door. He failed to open it after a couple of attempts, and as the scream did not re-occur, Regis insisted they explore everywhere else first. Kevkas opened the door to the observatory and had a look inside. Finding nothing, Kevkas wanted to try opening the trap door but Regis was dead set against it, Kevkas tried anyway but failed.

The party were then heading down towards the other room. Well, they said they were, but no-one was moving figures so (not for the first or last time that evening) I told them to put them damn figures where they were (they are getting very lazy at moving the figures, especially when it's important like this.)

Galmard's player moved the figures into position, and Galmard ended up in the observatory with Kevkas, still trying to open the trapdoor, with Gavril in the doorway and Kaddo and Ruamaini behind him, with the rest down the far end oif the corridor.

Galmard had a brief sensation of warmth, and then suddenly felt himself catch fire. With a desparing cry of "not again!" he rushed forward, before Gavril or Kevkas could stop him (initiative checks again!) and leaped out the unbroken window. He avoided getting impaled on the wind-vane, slithered all the way down the roof and finally (as I made his Climb check for him behind the screen, not really wanting to lose a character! - luckily I rolled a 16!) managed to grab the very egde before he fell 300' to his doom. Kevkas tied a rope to the trapdoor and effected a quick rescue. He then had another couple of goes at the trap door before giving in and heading down to deal with the unlocked door to the private study. Inside, he felt a sudden rush of depressing memories and lost a good 5 points of Wisdom (putting him to 5! That's not going to help his impulsive streak!) He did at least managed to find the loot, however...

Kevkas then managed to finally unlock the door to Iesha's room. He went in behind the mirror, and started moving it. Iesha immediately awoke and shouted her warning to Aldern (which I'm pretty sure the players either weren't listening to or ignored/forgot...) She was a bit difficult to recognise with the decomposition (and as she shredded the sheet off), but Kevkas placed she had black hair.

As Kevkas acted first, he backed slowly towards the door, carrying the mirror. He pointed it at her and she once again went torpid. After a few times of moving it slightly to make her move and stop, I decided that (as the party were trying to decide what to do and Abbondio didn't get a good enough Knowledge (Religion) check to work out what she was) Kevkas had had plenty of actions this round and asked Thrôllgar, who was next in initative, what he was doing. He charged. At this point, the mirror stopped working (since it's difficult to look at your reflection while a screaming Dwarf is hitting you with axes.)

I was smiling at this point - I was hoping they'd end up doing something this stupid. Especially since, with the nine of them, they'd be blocking the corridor all the way down; they'd have to fight Iesha without having her to soften up the other monsters!

Galmard moved up and cast Flaming Sphere, but Iesha easily made her save. Abbondio went in and tried Turning her. He got a really good check roll and plenty of damage - and to my surprise, she didn't have turn resistance. Sadly - for them - when I looked up the duration, I also realised that if the Undead can't run away, you can't get within 10' of it without breaking the effect - and as he was standing inside the room, Abbondio was too close.

Iesha took a couple of pathetic swipes at Thrôllgar. Ruamaini lobbed a Firebolt at her, doing some damage, Regis rushed in to land a solid blow. Gavril tumbled past to the only other slot, to hit the revenant with a Cure Light Wounds. Kaddo starting singing, since there was pretty much nothing else he could do.

Kevkas retreated into the observatory with the mirror, having neither space to attack nor being much use anyway against Undead. Thrôllgar and Regis hacked at Iesha, Abbondio asked Ruamaini to get out of the way and readied an action to step back into the doorway (where he was out of 10') and try turning her again. Galmard's Flaming Sphere again failed to do anything, and Galmard backed out of the way. Iesha let out her scream and to my great disappointment, the entire party (sans Sungmanitu who was some distance down the corridor and not involved in the fight anyway) made their saves. Gavril tried another Cure but missed, Ruamaini threw another Firebolt, ran into the observatory, out of the way while Abbondio tried to turn her again and failed.

Kaddo helpfully continued to sing in the background, as there's nothing else he could really do.

That was where we had to leave it.

There may not be an update next week, since we have club AGM next week, and it might take up most or all of the session (depending on whether we actually get enough members turning up to vote on the contenstious club constitution issue or not!)

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Episode 28: Rub-A-Dub-Dub, One Rogue in the Tub

The party headed over to the Misgivings. They took the battle cart, which pleased me greatly, since it keeps them to speeds and times I'd pre-calculated...!

Now, for the haunts, I worked on the basis of assigning them to the most fitting characters first, followed by the others, with a bias towards whose players were actually there. (Who got what is revealed at in the spoiler at the bottom of the post.) I'd cribbed some haunting read-outs from the community resources, which made it so much more fun to run this part, as I could hand the player the haunt and either let them or me tell the party what they saw happen.

They passed by the ruins. Galmard noted there was something off about the crows, but couldn't quite place it. Kevkas used his architecture skills to determine the drop to the water.

The party entered by the main doors. After a quick look around (and the paranoia that the manticore was going to attack them), Kevkas headed to the door to the north. Ruamaini and Kado both thought they heard the sound of sobbing, but as no-one else did, they dismissed it. Galmard, menawhile, caught a faint sense of burning in the air...

Kevkas got the first door open (and then I remembered about the forcing) so with a bit more effort for the rogue, the party entered the dancing parlor. Kevkas immediately went to play a key on the piano, because Kevkas.

As soon as he did, Regis started dancing. At first the party were a bit bemused, but as Regis' expression turned into horror, Kevkas ran to the parlor's outside doors, and tried - and failed - to kick them open (I think he intended to get the piano outside and off the cliff). As Regis danced, Thrôllgar ran up to the piano and hacked at it, as Kevkas struggles with the door. Thrôllgar's axes did a pretty good job of ruining the piano, but did not noticably stop the music. (The module says what Ieaha does if they victim is forcibly stopped, but not what happens if the piano is destroyed, so I decided, frack it!) After the forth round of dancing, the music stopped, just as Kevkas kicked the doors open. Regis collapsed in a heap, fatigued and having lost two points of strength.

Kevkas headed into the washroom next, and peered into the tub. The diseased rat actually made its first climb check to get at him and bit him. Kaddo, who had readied an Acid Splash missed as it as it popped out. Sadly, Kevkas made his Fort save, and then Abbondio splashed the rat all over everywhere with his mace.

Kevkas lead the party into the lounge. He spotted the dust footprints and determined to Have Things happen to him (the player having seen Galmard and Regis' player get a scrap of paper) went to interrupt the them. He got a good flash of the memory, but unfortuantely made his Will save, and thus only had a momentary fleeting urge to drag his son Thrôllgar out of the manor. (It would have been hilarious to see happen...!)

He then headed into the dining room. The party didn't pay any attention to the stained glass windows, so whatever.

(I do find it a bit annoying that they talk amongst themselves all the time. I don't mind sometimes, like when I'm dealing with one or two player's actions, but when the DM is reading the flavour text and telling them what's going on it is a bit annoying... I can see I'm going to have a word with them about it before long.)

Kevkas and Kaddo both decided to open the doors which led to the stairs. As the party were not really paying much attention, I had taken to moving their models around (which meant I placed them in whatever random order I could be bothered - their loss, right). Galmard and Ruamaini ended up the other side of the doors openers, which placed them back into the hallway.

Galmard suddenly let out a scream and caught on fire. For a few seconds, the party looked a bit askance, before it set in that, yes, Galmard was very ACTUALLY on very actual fire. Kevkas emptied his water bottle as Galmard stopped, dropped and rolled. Ruamaini was looking for a blanket or rug to smother the flames, but they'd put it out before he needed to.

The party ignored the monkey head, and decided to explore the last two rooms before heading either up or down.

Kevkas went to the drawing room. Seeing the curtain, he borrowed the ranseur (seriously, that was about the party's best ever find! They are forever using it!) to push the curtains aside, and caught a glimpse of Iesha in the glass.

They then went into the library, Kevkas using one door, and Regis the other. They took note of the books and summoned Ruamaini. Kevkas, meanwhile went to pick the book up, and then the scarf. The scarf immediately flew to Ruamaini's neck. Ruamaini made his will save - good for him, he wasn't aparlysed by fear for the appirition! The bad news was, he failed his Fort save, so it didn't do him much good! Efficiently strangled by the scarf, the wizard dropped with a thunk. Kevkas dived forward to drag the scarf off him and found no resistance. Kaddo slapped a Cure Light Wounds on Ruamaini before the wizard could internally hemoharrage to death, and go him back up. Kevkas recognised the value of the scarf, but Ruamaini (who's in charge of party funds) told him that the rogue was going to be the one carrying it...!)

At this point, the party started working out what was going on from their various visions. They haven't figured out who Iesha is - only that Aldern murdered her - and someone else - the library. Galmard was pretty certain that the woman he'd seen in the burning manticore incident was not her, and they are guessing that Vorel is Aldern's grandfather. (Not 100% accurate, but close enough!)

They headed upstairs, using the main staircase. Kevkas entered Aldern's room, and, seeing nothing of interest, starting playing with the toys and sticking his head up the chimmney to see if he could provoke some sort of response. Thrôllgar went in to have a look at what he was doing, and promptly wet himself with another vision.

The party then headed into the Musician's Gallery, where Ruamaini correctly identified the stained glass windows and that they were related to Lich-based things.

Thrôllgar then actually explained about his vision and that the "parents" he'd seen fighting were a red-haired woman and someone who was definitly not Aldern.

He then wandered off and kicked another door in, only to scream with utter terror, his face a mask of utter fear and loathing.

It was the washroom.

Once he'd calmed down, and was reassured that no-one was going to force him to have a bath, he went and had a quick look in the tub. Kaddo looked at the sagging floors and noted it would be a bad idea to get in it. Kevkas - being the architect (something that he used about three times this evening in various places) assessed it and said with confidence it would definitly crash through the floor with the application of any weight.

He then took a running jump into the bath. Thrôllgar just managed to get out in time as the bath crashed through the floor. Kevkas made his Reflex save, and I started to describe how he'd jumped out before it fell, but Kevkas's player said his intention had been to ride it to the lower floor.

Okay...

After a couple of seconds of dead silence, I said, "okay then, you ride the bathtub to the floor! Take *roll* 2 points of damage, then..."

I don't even...!

Well, everything not previously aware of the party is definitely now aware of them...!

I decided that would be a good point to stop while we're ahead...

Spoiler:
Thrôllgar got obsessed, Regis Wrath (next highest wrath sin total), Galmard got Burning (depression just sort of seems to fit with his whole competance envy thing...!), Kevkas got Insane (implusive - and by the end of the session, I was so justified!), Ruaimaini was Vengeful (hightest Lust total and he's subtly working on Ameiko) and that left Kaddo with Festering.

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Well, he was pretty much the centre of attention since the start of the campaign... As I've said to the players, Sandpoint has tended to, up until now, think of them as "Thrôllgar and his mates." Really, since the Swallowtail Festival, he's had a following from the villagers. So he was viewed as sort of a crazy eccentric before. He's like an actually Dwarf Nobby Nobbs, with charisn'tma out the eyeballs, but replacing Nobby's... reticence to action with the urge to hit things with his axe*.

But - having that little spat with Katrine and Harker before the murders, as well as being the one to whom all the notes are addressed just didn't do him any favours. (Hilarious as though I found, I couldn't have planned that!) So... Once the true murderers are uncovered, that aspect will be back to normal. I sort of agree on the long-term goal. It's this stalking thing, where he's basically keeps pushing it every day that's a bit off and that has me worried.

(And, before anyone asks, the player certainly does know better - it's a failing with Thrôllgar, not his player!)

*He has a slightly darker side, too, hilarious though he is. Thrôllgar has acrued more sin ticks (which I translate to full sin points on a 5:1 basis) than the entire rest of the party combined...! (Wrath especially; the party had to point out to him that using Erylium's corpse as a handpuppet to entertain the children of Sandpoint was Not A Good Idea...) He's definitely neutral, not good (and a few times skating to the opposite, though not quite there). He doesn't really "get" civilisation, coming from a harsh (now eradicated) Dwarven clan for whom mere survival was a challenge and violence was a way of life.

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Little help on this point...!

Short background. The players have been told that there is a good chance we will be running Jade Empire as a sequel quest, as "next generation" of the RotRL party and that they should be making some provision in that direction.

Our Dwarf barbarian has set his eyes on Shayliss, after being pointed in that direction by the party wizard (who Shayliss had invited into the basement and was a bit sore about being duffed up by Ven.)

Let me just quote the relevant portions from my adventure log thread:

Spoiler:
An off-hand conversation between Ruamaini (the wizard) and Thrôllgar (the barbarian) led to Ruamaini suggesting he go to the general store owner (Ven Vinder) and say something to the affect that he'd heard his daughters were "goers." So Thrôllgar, not understanding quite that bit of slang did.

After the ensuing (off-screen) fistfight and a night in the cells, an exasperated Hemlock explained exactly what that meant. Thrôllgar then attemped to go and apologise to Vinder. It did not ggo terribly, but neither did it go well... I said that (word having gotten round), Thrôllgar had gotten some hard stares from the ladies in question. So he decided to try to apologise to them as well - giving them each a gold piece to go and make themselves look nice. (Because it is Thrôllgar went all's said and done...!)

Regis (party warblade) went with him when they cornered Shayliss, and as Thrôllgar made his apology, Regis handed her some flowers that "Thrôllgar" had also gotten her. Net result, at this point, Shayliss was reasonably sort of flattered (even with the knowledge that Regis was trying to help Thrôllgar), and Thrôllgar got a smile and couple of over-the-shoulder looks as she went away.

Katrine didn't react quite so well... And Thrôllgar got a vist from her boyfriend while he was working at the bar. Harker did the usual jealous boyfriend thing of "stay away from my woman" while Thrôllgar tried to explain he was only trying to be nice.

**Then the PCs had a period of downtime before Skinsaw Murders started.**

After the party had started investigating and got back to the inn the first day, Thrôllgar Had A Plan. It occurred to him the Ven was in the garrison, so there was no-one else at the Vinder home. So he was going to disguise himself and go and "stalk that girl" (i.e. Shayliss) in case she was in danger.

So. I had him make a disguise check (a charisma based skill, with his Charisma of 6) with no disguise kit (-2). He got a total of 4.

The party paused in mid-meal as Thrôllgar heade down the stairs, wearing his bedsheet, with a hole crudely cut out for his head and the cut-out piece inexpertly tied to his head as a sort of turban. Looking like... Thrôllgar wearing a bedsheet with a hole in it.

Ameiko was gripping the bar so hard she was nearly leaving marks, and developed a significant eye-twitching problem...

Kaddo (one of the party's bards) signalled Thrôllgar over.

"It's me," Thrôllgar said, unecessarily, "I'm in disguise!"

Kaddo then patiently explained why this was, frankly, a really bad idea and that if Thrôllgar wanted to disguise himself properly, he'd need to do something more drastic, like shave his beard. There was a long pause, during which the temperature dropped very rapidly. Kaddo moved swiftly on and suggested that he ought to try making himself look like another Dwarf. Thrôllgar replied his plan was to make himself taller by standing on a box.

And then revised this idea to stilts until Kaddo pointed out that it would actually take some effort to learn to use stilts...

Eventually, Kaddo finally pursuaded Thrôllgar to explain what he was doing. Thrôllgar explained that, what with Ven being on the clink currently, he was going to stalk Shayliss to make sure he was safe. "It's a what do you call it? A stalk out!" Kaddo suggested that if that was the idea, maybe he should send someone better suited to it...?

"Well, I wasn't going to take the whole party," said Thrôllgar. "That might look suspicious."

Also, Kaddo, suggested, he might want to replace Ameiko's bedsheet.

"Ah, she won't want it after I've been uuing it anyway," Thrôllgar said.

"Point," Ameiko, said. "I was gonna burn it anyway, so no loss I guess. He's not having another one though."

"I wasn't using it anyway," Thrôllgar replied cheerfully. "I only use the straw!"

I was killing myself, at this point.

Anyway, Kaddo and Thrôllgar headed off to Shayliss' house. Thrôllgar actually stopped to spent a whole silver piece getting some flowers. Thrôllgar nearly banged on the door, but stopped and knocked sensibly. Shayliss eventually answered.

Thrôllgar handed Shayliss the flowers and offered condolances. With Kaddo "translating" and smoothing Thrôllgar's utter lack of tact (and terrible charisma checks), Thrôllgar explained that he was there because he was concerned she migt be in danger, and that he was volenteering to guard her. "I can stand outside your house," he said. "I mean, it's just like standing outside the bar [where he works as a bouncer part-time] which doesn't say much, so it's not really any different." With Kaddo - who really earned his pay today! - helping to explain what Thrôllgar "meant" by that, they left with Shayliss not completely repulsed, so there was that...!

***Next day, after a trip to the Sanatorium**
Thrôllgar decided he was going off to stand outside Shayliss' house. Kaddo, thankfully, went and told Hemlock, who went and had a word, suggesting that, again, while he and the party were mostly convinced of Thrôllgar's innocence, not everyone else was, and that standing around outside her house was not going to ease suspicion...

***The next day, after a trip down to the Hambley famr***
Thrôllgar decided to disguise himself again, and try to take more flowers to Shayliss. His result was as bad as last time, especially since he'd tried to make himself look like and old dwarf wizard. So he ended up wearing the poncho made from the bedsheet again, only this time with flour in his beard and taking the cut off and making into a pointed hat with eye holes cut in it.

(So basically what you had was Thrôllgar wearing an impromptu Klu Klux Klan hat, in a bedsheet, with flour in his beard.)

Naturally, EVERYONE know it was him (especially since he's so obvious in Sandpoint now, everyone gets the +4 bonus...) Kaddo and Gavril (the other bard) followed a safe distance to watch the entertainment, as went and bought and silver piece's worthy of flowers and headed to the general store. He knocked at the door and was met by an extremely unamused Ven Vinder. Ven looked at him and said "Thrôllgar, you have until the count of ten to get out of here before I take that hat and feed it to you." On the count of four, Kaddo hustled up to take the protesting Thrôllgar away, taking the flowers out of Thrôllgar's hand and putting them on the floor (since Ven wasn't going to take them), explaining they were Shayliss. Thrôllgar mused about how he probably should have tied them to a brick and threw them into her window. Kaddo pointed at he would then need to tie a gold piece to it to save the window and thus would be better off just sticking a gold piece through the letter box...

I am... An really not sure what I should do here. On the one hand, Thrôllgar having a love-interest for Next Gen = Good. On the other hand Crazy Stalker!Thrôllgar = bad. (Especially since he's the one all the murder notes are addressed to - the only reason Hemlock is fairly sure Thrôllgar's being set up is because Thrôllgar can't actually READ.)

So, what do you think Shayliss's reactions should be to this? On the one hand, he's trying, in his own... unique... way and giving her lots of expensive gifts... On the other hand, it's Thrôllgar and her sister just was murdered...

Suggestions would be greatly welcome!

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Episode 27: Persistant Stalker

After a brief debate, standing around the ex-ghoul scarecrow south east of the farm buildings, Kevkas decided he'd go and scout round the back of the farm house. The PCs could see six ghouls milling around in the barn (which I draw as having the doors open, and facing the farmhouse), but couldn't see Craesby, who was hiding in the farmhouse. He spotted Kevkas, despite the latter's efforts at stealth, and managed to hide from Kevkas quite succesfully.

Kevkas entered the back, which I decided was the kitchen. He saw the body, looted the note and the key, and then headed into the next room. This was one that lead back towards the party and was the living room - empty. Kevklas went into the next one - the master bedroom, whose wall was the south-east wall, beyond which lay the party.

Kevkas didn't get very far with his search, as he was ambushed and bitten by Craesby. Sadly, he made both saves but realised he was now only on 7 hit points. So Kevkas decided to dive through the master bedroom window, and let it to the waiting party. He succeeded, though managing to hurt himself further (on a failed Reflex save) on the smashed glass in the process. Craesby wisely did not follow, but disappeared from view.

At this point, the party were motivated into attack, and began to move forwards. Kaddo loosed off a single thundercalled Soundburst, Gavril shot an arrow, and then Ruamaini hit the same ghoul with a Firebolt, wounding it quite heavily. Galmard summoned a wolf and Abbondio headed to heal Kevkas.

The ghouls, for their part, didn't charge once they saw Thrôllgar and Regis standing readied, but instead started moving out of the barn and spreading out to avoid more spell attacks (except for the heavily wounded one, which hid.)

Shortly thereafter, the battle was joined as the party charged into the ghouls. Kaddo starting singing and activated his Iinspirational Boost spell, putting the singing bonus up to +2. Galmard's wolf and Sungmanitu charged one ghoul that had moved to the corner of the farmhouse. (Inside, Craesby was moving towards a door on the south-west wall, not far behind it.)

The fight was pretty brief, with Regis and Thrôllgar carving one to pieces effortlessly, and Ruamaini obliterating another with a Maximised Scorching Ray. Gavril Greased part of the barn, and the hevaily wounded ghoul fell over, never to rise, and succeeded in keeping one other ghoul down for a round. The ghoul's only successes were hitting Galmard's summong wolf twice and paralysing it. And, because of where the party was potioned, when Craesby made his appearance, that was his only target too his first round. The party were quickly moppong up the last ghouls. Gavril activated a Cure Light Wounds but missed the first time (leaving Regis to finish that ghoul), and then headed over as Kaddo dropped a Greae on top of the area where Craesby, one ghoul and the paralysed wolf were fighting. As the ghoul and wolf slipped over, Gavril deftly slapped it with his spell and destroyed it.

Galmard took a step back away from the grease. He reasoned that with Regis and Kevkas now standing next to Craesby, knocking chunks out of him, as the ghoul was pinned by the farmhouse wall on one side, the two in front of him and grease on three spaces around him, he'd be better off out of the way. Abbondio had also wandered off, leaving Craesby a line right to Kaddo and Ruamaini... Provided he didn't slip in the grease and made his acrobatics check. He did both, and charged into Kaddo... and missed completely.

The Regis decided to risk it and do the same. He made his Reflex save! He made his Acrobatics check! He rolled a 1 on his attack roll, followed by another 1! Ruamaini and Kaddo were ever after not quite sure what Regis did, but they were half-convinved he'd somehow managed to carry the grease from the spell on his boots, as Regis managed a flying tackle onto his face at Craesby's feet, taking a solid bite in the process. And failed his second Fort save! Ghoul Fever time!

Kaddo slapped the ghoul with a Cure Light Wounds which, had Craesby not resisted it, would have ended the fight there and then. As it was, Ruamaini stuck his hand right in Craesby's face and incinerated his head with a Scorching Ray point-blank. (Craesby was on about 3 hits at the time, so it was definitely destroyed...!)

The party then found the key on the his body. Gavril utterly and completely failed his Knowledge (Nobility) check to identify it, so the party headed back to town, after Kevkas liberated the now-dead Hambley farm's loot.

Back in town, the party went to Zantus, who cured the two victims. He did have one more Remove Disease, but the party are waiting to see if Regis gets ill before using it on him.

Thrôllgar decided to disguise himself again, and try to take more flowers to Shayliss. His result was as bad as last time, especially since he'd tried to make himself look like and old dwarf wizard. So he ended up wearing the poncho made from the bedsheet again, only this time with flour in his beard and taking the cut off and making into a pointed hat with eye holes cut in it.

(So basically what you had was Thrôllgar wearing an impromptu Klu Klux Klan hat, in a bedsheet, with flour in his beard.)

Naturally, EVERYONE know it was him (especially since he's so obvious in Sandpoint now, everyone gets the +4 bonus...) Kaddo and Gavril followed a safe distance to watch the entertainment, as went and bought and silver piece's worthy of flowers and headed to the general store. He knocked at the door and was met by an extremely unamused Ven Vinder. Ven looked at him and said "Thrôllgar, you have until the count of ten to get out of here before I take that hat and feed it to you." On the count of four, Kaddo hustled up to take the protesting Thrôllgar away, taking the flowers out of Thrôllgar's hand and putting them on the floor (since Ven wasn't going to take them), explaining they were Shayliss. Thrôllgar mused about how he probably should have tied them to a brick and threw them into her window. Kaddo pointed at he would then need to tie a gold piece to it to save the window and thus would be better off just sticking a gold piece through the letter box...

I am somewhat of a loss as to what to do here... Thrôllgar's becoming very stalker-y and I'm not sure what Shayliss' reaction shiuld be. I was leaning towards going for that as his love interest, but crazy-stalker Thrôllgar is not making it easy for me to rationalise that... Suggestions would be welcome!

The following morning (Regis made his first save), Galmard decided to head back to the farm to bring back the body of the only ghoul that wasn't clearly a farm-hand - and then we realised that Craesby's body had been pretty much rendered unidentifiable by that last spell!

The party had forgotten (distracted by Thrôllgar, mostly) about researching "Misgivings" and appeared to have forgotten the key after Gavril failed his check. So when Kaddo muttered to Ruamaini he should have just hit the ghoul in the chest, I commented that might have just melted the key instead... That subtle hint was enough that Galmard went to the Sherieff with the key. Hemlock identified it as being the crest of the Foxglove family.

Galmard asked if they were from around here. Hemlock paused to draw breath, about to explain about the tragedy, when Thrôllgar piped up up "do they live in the Misgiving?" Hemlock looked surprised.

"Yes, actually they do."

Thrôllgar looked even more surprised. Hemlock went on to explain about the tragedy where Vorel went a bit mad and murdered his family about sixty years ago, and the family moved out, and that Aldern had come back recently to fix it up. As he explained that Rogors Craesby had been doing some of the caretaking work, Thrôllgar was in deep thought.

You could see the little hamster wheel running around in his head as Thrôllgar actually started to put it together. (Ruamaini's player commented on monkeys and Shakespeare...) He (correctly) realised that Aldern, who'd bought his armour, of course, had probably also nicked that buckle off his kilt and was the one that was doing dodgy stuff to lure him to the old manor.

I just sat there, saying nothing and smirking.

We left it there: no doubt next week, they party will head down to the manor. I've decided that my choice of who gets what haunt will be firstly decided by which players are there. I'm going to skip haunts on characters whose players are abscent and pick the most appropriate ones from who's actually there. (I suspect Gavril, Regis and Abbondio will probably get away with it!) So we'll see how they handle that!

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Episode 26: Massecre of the Scarecrows

The party cajoled Farmer Grump into the Rusty dragon, mjainly due to Kaddo's silver tongue. There, plied with beer, he told his tale. The party went into a debate between Thrôllgar - who wanted to go right now - and the rest of the party, who didn't want to go six miles in the pouring rain at night...

Thrôllgar was pursuaded eventually, and then decided he was going off to stand outside Shayliss' house. Kaddo, thankfully, went and told Hemlock, who went and had a word, suggesting that, again, while he and the party were mostly convinced of Thrôllgar's innocence, not everyone else was, and that standing around outside her house was not going to ease suspicion...

The party set out in the morning, after a debate as to whether to take the cart (they didn't).

(Kaddo's player was quite annoyed that they party would be moving at 16 miles/day on foot (thanks to Thrôllgar and Abbondio) or with the cart and that there were only twice that mounted. I said that a D&D's cart speed was not inaccurate, considering that this wasn't the Roman Empire and b) mounted stuff doesn't move THAT much faster than foot over the long term and that if the PCs wanted to start forced marching and making a fuss about overland speed, I'd be happy to go break out Rolemaster's rules for it if D&D's wasn't sufficient...)

Thrôllgar wanted to stop by Shayliss' house on the way out, but the party and the sight of Ven rapidly approaching the door disuaded him.

The party reached the Hambley Farm in good time, with the now dry and breezy weather not working against them.

Thrôllgar saw the first scarecorew and charged, chopping it in twain. The party, rolling their eyes, just let him. Thrôllgar charged the second one he saw, and then realised... "Hang on, that's not straw on my axes... Whoops."

He'd killed a ghoul of course, but it was a bit of a shock to Thrôllgar that it might not have been and tense few moment while Abbondio checked the body to see if it had been alive before it had been Thrôllgar'd.

Kaddo rode up to another scarecrow, which snapped free of it's restraints and charged, and utterly missed, before deftly being put down by Thrôllgar.

The party then proceeded east round the tracks, now carefully checking (via Regis trying to poke the hood off) eveyr scarecrow to see if it was a ghoul. When they reached the first living human and he began to wriggle - and then called out for help, Thrôllgar had to be stopped from charging in...

The party were unsure what to do. Ruamaini was trying to, with his own lack of tact, explain to the poor man he was going to die shortly, as I could just see them working up to euthenasia. I did not make it easy for them; the chap kept crying to be released and to see his family. But before they could commit murder I had Abbondio (who's player was away) remember he was fairly sure they was a scroll or two of Remove Disease at the cathedral and that Zantus would cast if they got the victim(s) back there. So they cut him down and swiftly moved around the rest of the farm, eliminating the tried up ghouls in short order, trying to find any more victims.

As they came close to the barn, six of the farm's twelve free ghouls charged out to attack them. The fight was short and fairly one-sided. Galmard cried into his beer as he'd not thought to change his spell load out and almost all of his spells were completely useless against Undead. He did break out a Mass Snake's Swiftness, however, which helped considerably. Kaddo in the round of warning the party had, did not dismount, preferring to ready a thundercalled Soundburst, and when one of ghoul's charged him, he has carried out the wayby his terrified horse... Nevertheless, the party chopped through all six ghouls fairly easily in two rounds, with the former barely managing to hit anyone, let alone hurt them with diseaese or paralysis. Abbondio tried twice to turn them - try being the operative phrase, since "please just go away!" and "no, really, if you could go away, if it's all the same to you..." did not help. (2 and then 1 on consequtive turning checks...)

The party then mopped up the last of the trapped ghouls and found the other still-living victim, and next week will deal with the last six ghouls and Rogors.

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Episode 25: Everybody Tolerates Thrôllgar

First thing, we went back through the downtime with the new rules, and sorted everybody out.

Then, in the evening, twenty-five days later, Sherieff Hemlock showed up with news of the murders and the Skinsaw Murders began.

The PCs met him next morning in the garrison, and Hemlock showed them the note. Thrôllgar, he said, was not a suspect - for a kick-off, of course, Thrôllgar can't actually read or write common...! (Kevkas at one point asked him to identify the writing, at which points Thrôllgar agreed that yes, it was indeed writing.) However, after Thrôllgar's altercation with Ven - no too mention that incdient with the victims - that the townsfolk might not see it that way.

Thrôllgar actually first thought of Aldern (and I thought, "crap, have I been too obvious?") and then watched him talk himself out of that idea. and ti was not brought up again.

The party went down to the mill to inspect the murder site. Ruamaini, when prompted, made the appropriate Grissom one-liner: (of Katrine) "looks like she came here... For some wood."

YEEEEAAAAH!!!!

(Because I am a very sad person, at any point the PCs do anything like inspecting crime-scenes, if they make an appropriately CSI-like one-liner, they get extra XP.)

The party found most of the clues, and became fairly sure it was some sort of ghoul or ghast. Kaddo, actually beat Galmard on the survival (again... Envy point! Envy point!) and Thrôllgar was the one who spotted the claw-marks on Harker's body.

The party quizzed Hemlock thoroughly on the other murders. I used the handout from one of the community resoruces, one spattered with blood and Ruamaini's player spent some time (very accurately) tracing out the words barely visible under the blood. (Kudos to whomever did that resource!) Kevkas then sent Galmard to go and see if he could find any particularly important properties in town that might be part of a scam, thinking this might be part of what got the con men killed - but of course, they found nothing out of the ordinary.

The party recognised the sihedron rune right off, but didn't seem to think too much about it. They also didn't seem to think that Ven or the other miller were worth questioning - which, to be fair, probably is not a bad reading of the situation. So they then retired to the inn and their next move. (Mostly, it must be admitted, because Thrôllgar wanted beer.)

Sadly, the real reasaon was that Thrôllgar Had A Plan. It occurred to him the Ven was in the garrison, so there was no-one else at the Vinder home. So he was going to disguise himself and go and "stalk that girl" (i.e. Shayliss) in case she was in danger.

So. I had him make a disguise check (a charisma based skill, with his Charisma of 6) with no disguise kit (-2). He got a total of 4.

The party paused in mid-meal as Thrôllgar heade down the stairs, wearing his bedsheet, with a hole crudely cut out for his head and the cut-out piece inexpertly tied to his head as a sort of turban. Loking like... Thrôllgar wearing a bedsheet with a hole in it.

Ameiko was gripping the bar so hard she was nearly leaving marks, and developed a significant eye-twitching problem...

Kaddo signalled Thrôllgar over.

"It's me," Thrôllgar said, unecessarily, "I'm in disguise!"

Kaddo then patiently explained why this was, frankly, a really bad idea and that if Thrôllgar wanted to disguise himself properly, he'd need to do something more drastic, like shave his beard. There was a long pause, during which the temperature dropped very rapidly. Kaddo moved swiftly on and suggested that he ought to try making himself look like another Dwarf. Thrôllgar replied his plan was to make himself taller by standing on a box.

And then revised this idea to stilts until Kaddo pointed out that it would actually take some effort to learn to use stilts...

Eventually, Kaddo finally pursuaded Thrôllgar to explain what he wss doing. Thrôllgar explained that, what with Ven being on the clink currently, he was going to stalk Shayliss to make sure he was safe. "It's a what fo you call it? A stalk out!" Kaddo suggested that if that was the idea, maybe he should send someone better suited to it...?

"Well, I wasn't going to take the whole party," said Thrôllgar. "That might look suspicious."

Also, Kaddo, suggested, he might want to replace Ameiko's bedsheet.

"Ah, she won't want it after I've been suing it anyway," Thrôllgar said.

"Point," Ameiko, said. "I was gonna burn it anyway, so no loss I guess. He's not having anopther one though."

"I wasn't using it anyway," Thrôllgar replied cheerfully. "I only use the straw!"

I was killing myself, at this point.

Anyway, Kaddo and Thrôllgar headed off to Shayliss' house, with Kevkas trailing behind. Thrôllgar actually stopped to spent a silver piece getting some flowers. Thrôllgar nearly banged on the door, but stopped and knocked sensibly. Shayliss eventually answered.

Kevkas, meanwhile, unbenowst to his comrades, decided to sneak in the back while she was distracted and search for some clues. He didn't find anything, in the short time he had, but at least he didn't get spotted or anything, as then Thrôllgar and Kaddo wouild have to race in to deal with the intruder...!

Thrôllgar handed Shayliss the flowers and offered condolances. With Kaddo "translating" and smoothing Thrôllgar's utter lack of tact (and terrible charsima checks), Thrôllgar explained that he was there because he was concerned she migt be in danger, and that he was volenteering to guard her. "I can stand outside your house," he said. "I mean, it's just like standing outside the bar which doesn't ay much, so it's not really any different." With Kaddo - who really earned his pay today! helping to explain what Thrôllgar "meant" by that, they left with Shayliss not completely repulsed, so there was that...!

(Give Thrôllgar credit - he's really trying, in his own completely... unique style...!)

The party then headed over to the sanatorium, as the rain started to pour. This marked the first official outing of the Battle Cart, with it's glorious goblin-head standard, everburning torch and now the addition of some of the everburning candle to add a touch of I don't even anymore...

Thrôllgar debated as to whether to take his barrel of beer with him, but eventually elected not too. He did take the Suspicious Axe, though intending to present it to Grayst to see what his reaction was because Thrôllgar. Just because Thrôllgar.

They reached the sanatorium, and Kaddo - even lacking the recommendation letter Hemlock could have given the if they - or the DM! - had thought about it, deftly talked the good doctor into letting the party in. They were taken to see Grayst and correctly worked out he was definitely in the late stages of ghoul-fever. They debated about whether they could get a scroll to cure him, but then I pointed out that would not fix his insanity. (And in nay case Galmard had bauked about being him sent of to run into town in the now lashing rain and back to buy a scroll...) Kaddo went in and managed to get Grayst to babble about Skinsaw man and razor and lots of teeth, but nothing else.

Just as the doctor was about to chase the party out, Thrôllgar barged in to show Grayst the handaxe. Which of course, triggered Grayst right into his message and then lunging to attack.

The party actually showed shocking restraint, and even Thrôllgar only struck nonlethally. Due to the fact they were really pulling their blows (i.e., rolled really crap on damage and Grayst was Defiant 1), it took them a round or two to finally bring him down. But between Thrôllgar using the heft of the Suspicious Axe, Kevkas trying to grapple, Abbondio using his mace, plus a bit of support from the bards (Daze from Gavril, singing from Kaddo and then a Lullaby from Gavril before he realised it affected everyone... (apart from the cleric, who made his save) but they finally knocked him out and headed back to the town.

Kaddo recalled he'd heard of an abandoned manner referred to as the Misgivings before, but couldn't remember it's proper name off the top of his head. Before they could get in and ask (and go haring off the Foxglove manor next day!), they ran into Farmer Grump at the gates as he babbled insanely about scarecrows...

And that's the cliff-hangar for this week!

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Episode 24: Getting Crabby

Kevkas, while yelling for Thrôllgar, attmepted to see if he could pull the crab up. (He couldn't.) It promptly scuttled forward and grabbed him in it's huge claws (for maximum damage...!)

The rest of the party rushed up. Kaddo had the foresight to use Grease on Kevkas's armour, which would boost his attempts to escape. Ruamaini started his now-traditional Ray of Enfeeblement/Escalating Enfeeblement combo, and Gavril started singing. Regis moved into position, ready to hit it. Kevkas then scrambled free, and the crab started grasping at both him and Regis and grabbed the latter. Thrôllgar moved into to start ineffectually thacking at it with this feeble strength, while Ruaimaii completed his combo, dropping it to 8 strength. Then he and Abbondio stood back and discussed how the rest of the party were doing... "II've done my part," the former said... (Sloth point! Sloth point!) Galmard, meanwhile, had run to the other entrance and dropped Numbing Sphere from the crab's rear, rolling it up to the crab and starting to do do some cold and Dex damage, further dropping the crab's AC. (Whose stats, I realised, were not errata'd when I went through, since it was listing a +1 Dex to AC with Dex 10...!) Kevkas starting stabbing in the voonerables, while Regis tried to get free and the crab failed to crush him. Between Thrôllgar, Kevkas and Galmard's spell, and Regis finally breaking free (and getting to it's opposite side, allowing it to be nicely flanked), they managed to kill it without too much more fuss.

The party then took some time having to hack the crab out of the helmet, looting the treasure chamber and then heading out. The make a cride travois out of their rope and one of the doors, and lugged it all back to Sandpoint. There we had an identifying session. They took the helmet to Brodart, and also showed him the medallion. So I skipped to Skinsaw murders, and gave them the speil on the sihedron rune. (They knew most of the rest of the stuff in that bit about Thassilon already.)

As they divided out the loot, Thrôllgar ended up with Nualia's magic breastplate. I could not resist at this point.

"Just bear in mind," I said, getting Nualia's picture out, "Thrôllgar is now wearing that."

Hysterics ensued. (Normal rules on magic armour be damned, that was just too funny not to do...)

This was compounded by Thrôllgar wanting to go to see Tsuto and brag about how he'd killed Nualia. Especially when he was going to dance in wearing her armour make comments about how her claw was his new backscratcher. (We were all killing ourselves.) He really wanted to get in (but Sherieff Hemlock has actually met and isn't stupid...) He was even trying to get to the window of Tsuto's cell... In the end, I said Tsuto was being taken off for trial at Magnimar (just to get him out of the way), but the player immediatey jumped on that meant being transported in an open wagon. I threw up my hands at this point, and Tsuto went away spitting and cursing and swearing revenge as Thrôllgar Made A Scene...

I then set them all up for down time, working out what they were doing and how they were getting sorted with living costs and such. (Working on the basis that the Rusty Dragon qualified as an average in, because, fracking hell, no-one could afford 2gp a day on hireling wages! Good inn must be freaking amazing...!)

Kaddo and Galvril are working as entertainers, and because they have good perform skills, I let them get a bonus such they are basically paying for the board with that work.

Thrôllgar, actually showing something passing intelligence for once, asked about working ass a bowyer fletcher (in addition to his evening job at the Fatman's Feedbag. So Savah took him on at the armoury, and he';s earning 4 sp/day (enough he's only using spending one per day).

Abbondio and Regis both have houses (or their parent's house) and so with the former's day job as priest and the latter doing whatever his mum needs doing, I assumed that would cover their meal costs.

Kevkas continues to study under Brodert, with the understanding that he gets sent out as consultant when Brodert can't be bothered (which pays his board cost at the Dragon.)

Ruamaini is spending most of his time in indepndant study (i.e writing spells into his spellbook!) but he is also lending a (very-much appreciated) hand to Ameiko, as she has to take over the running of the glassworks.

(At last! We finally are starting to see some of the party working towards Jade Regent! As you may recall, either the party themselves of their next generation will be undertaking that module after runelords is over (rebalanced for high level in the case of the former.) As the party was evenly split on whether they wanted to do high level or not, I made them the ultimatum that if, by the end of Runelords, the majority of the party were in a position to be doing Next Generation (i.e to have progeny) we'd run it at low level - otherwise we'd be doing it at high. Basically meaning that onus is on the players who want to do it at low level to do some work. With the understanding that I expected everyone to be working to that end, just in case I got to it and said, "frack, too much like hard work!" So we are starting to get the baseline, and I need to go starting to look up those relationship rules in Jade Regent!)

Galmard went to the Barrets, to make sure that Amele and Aeren were doing alright.

As the player pointed out to me later, from the metaperspective, this was a really good idea for Galmard's love interest, since she's not an adevnturer herself (so not adding to the number of characters), but either Aeren (who comes complete with backstory) or their children would be ideal for the next gen. With the benefit of time to think about it, I conceded that was a really good idea (I'd been half expecting him to go for Shayliss, and was half shifting her in his direction). So I'm going to need to expand on this. (Suggestions would be welcome!)

And then we got to the real fun...

An off-hand conversation between Ruamaini and Thrôllgar led to Ruamaini suggesting he go to the general store owner (Ven Vinder) and say something to the affect that he'd heard his daughters were "goers." So Thrôllgar, not understanding quite that bit of slang did.

After the ensuing (off-screen)fistfight and a night in the cells, an exasperated Hemlock explained exactly what that meant. Thrôllgar then attemped to go and apologise to Vinder. It did not do terribly, but neither did it go well... I said that (word having gotten round), Thrôllgar had gotten some hard stares from the ladies in question. So he decided to try to apologise to them as well - giving them each a gold piece to go and make themselves look nice. (Because it is Thrôllgar went all's said and done...!)

Regis went with him when they cornered Shayliss, and as Thrôllgar made his apology, Regis handed her some flowers that "Thrôllgar" had also gotten her. Net result, at this point, Shayliss was reasonably sort of flattered (even with the knowledge that Regis was trying to help Thrôllgar), and Thrôllgar got a smile and couple of over-the-shoulder looks as she went away.

(And why not, I thought. Potential love interest No. 3. I was actually half intending to gently push Shayliss towards Ruamaini again, but interesting how things out!)

Katrine didn't react quite so well... An Thrôllgar got a vist from her boyfriend while he was working at the bar. Harker did the usual jealous boyfriend thing of "stay away from my women" while Thrôllgar tried to explain he was only trying to be nice.

At this point, I was jumping up and down excitedly - because of course this sets up Skinsaw murders PERFECTLY. Hell, the party will even have MET the victims and it'll throw some suspicion onto Thrôllgar - who is, of course, Aldern's (rage) victim! It's so neat I couldn't have PLANNED this.

I do not know how I would have run this module so well without Thrôllgar's player gift-wrapping me this sort of thing, it's really amazing!

So, next week, Skinsaw Murders begins and Thrôllgar will find out how much trouble he's in...!

Edit: and when I started looking around for house prices, I found PF actually has a full system for downtime. Huh. I am going to suggest to the PCs that we adopt that! (They, I think, will be fairly pleased, since it means they will be theorheticall bringing in more pennies and we can consider that the Rusty Dragon can go back to Good quality!)

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And we're back! Panto went well - we made about £1450 for the church!

Episode 23: Feeling Drained

The party continued to hack away at Malfeshnekor. Ruamaini kept blasting until he was out of spells. Kaddo kept dropping Thundercalled Soundbursts - he even managed to stun Malfeshnekor for a second time. Kevkas managed one good Sneak Attack, then feinted but missed with his follow-up strike. Thrôllgar hammered away steadily, as did Regis when he got back in, despite being mauled repeatedly; though with Malfeshnekor's 14 points of Str penalty and Abbondio standing behind him, he managed to bravely tank the hits. Gavril grabbed Kaddo's three flasks of Alchemist's fire and lobbed them into the fray. Malfeshnekor, cornered and lacking a concentration skill to cast defensively, was reduced to attacking Regis in the desparate hopes of taking him down, when he wast stunned. Galmard and eventually Kevkas started using Aid Another to boost Regis' AC and Thrôllgar's attack, as they were out of anything else useful to do.

The end finally came when Abbondio hurled a Shockwave - which Malfeshnekor failed his save on (bear in mind he only needed low single digits to be failing these saves...!) And he went prone. Then the barghest failed his save against the Thundercalled Soundburst for the third time (seriously, he needed, like 5), and was now prone and stunned. Thrôllgar at this point, between []i]Elation[/i] and bard song was now at +8 to attack him (buffs, prone, Aid Another), on top of his rage, verses the barghest's flat-footed AC (minus two, because he was stunned). He dropped Malfeshnekor to 15 hits with two solid hits - and the barghest was now, prone, stunned - and unconscious! (Galmard nonlethal damage finally mattered...!) Kevkas then made his coup de grace - and did 24 damage... Before DR. Hilariously Malfeshnekor made his Fort save, and was thus on 1 hit point. Ruamaini then finished him off with his very last useful spell, Acid Splash for two hits...

The party then decided they kinda ought to rest! They found the secret alcoves and looted the room, and then went to rest up - and level up to 4th.

We managed that in short order enough that the party pressed on. They headed into the crypt, where Kevkas and Abbondio wandered in. Kevkas - being Kevkas - pried open the first casket. He found nothing but bones - and then suddenly, the three shadows attacked. (This was one encountered I hadn't boosted in numbers, and fortunately so!) The party failed their knowledge checks, so they weren't sure exactly what they were dealing with, leading Thrôllgar to charge one and discovering that they were not vulnerable to his nommagic axes.

It was time for the squishies to take the lead! Thrôllgar dwarfully stood his ground, as two of the three shadows attacked him. The third was attacking the cleric. Thrôllgar's strength started to drop - he lost six Strength in two rounds. During which time, both bards and the cleric failed to hit with their Cure Light Wounds spells. Galmard did manage to hit with his Cure Minor and Ruamaini severely damaged on with a hit from his Magma Bolt. It was now Thrôllgar's turn to be Aiding Another (since nothing says that he's not threatening or at least being distracting!) to help his comrades - Kaddo specifically.

Abbondio landed his spell finally, dropping his shadow to 1 hit. Regis flailed away with his magic weapon, but kept missing due to the incorporeality. Kevkas, meanwhile, had legged it to the back and was provising "moral support" by shouting how the rest of the party were doing it wrong... Galmard landed another Cure Minor and then joined him. Kaddo finally hit and dispersed the most damaged shadow fighting Thrôllgar... Abbondio used his Turn Undead, but only managed to make the 1-hit-poitn shadow cower (to be finished off by Ruamaini's ubiquitous Acid Splash shortly thereafter.

And then the last shadow hit. And got a critical. And maximum damage - 12 Strength! And Thrôllgar was suddenly down to 1 strength, and thanking the stars he'd put that new stat point into strength...! (For half a heartbeat, I was afraid I'd killed him!)

Gavril got in, though, and wiped the last Shadow out with a single solid CLW.

At this point, the party had to stop to rest AGAIN, since Thrôllgar was going nowhere... Ruaimaini and Regis in particular, and the party in general, used the opportunity to extract the urine from the nearly helpless dwarf, making the most of it while it lasted. Eight hours later, and three Lesser Restorations later, Thrôllgar was at least on Strength 10...

After they'd rested, Kevkas, while the rest of party were sitting around playing cards (I dunno, they just didn't seem to care) went to inspect the last doors - the ones that lead to the sunkern treasury. He quickly spotted the golden giant helm... And saw it move. I even told him he spotted something vaguely crab-like beneath it, for all the attention he paid it. He stood there for a bit, and then went to borrow the ranseur to hook it out with (Regis told him to get knotted). He was preparing to just sit there and wait until the tide went out. The hermit crab, meanwhile, wasn't too bothered, since he hadn't entered the water (Kevkas went back down the stairs and opened the other door from that side.)

Then Kevkas had the... brainwave... to try and hook the helmet out with his grappling hook. He managed to get the grapple solidly stuck in the helmet - and for the giant hermit crab to take exception...!

How badly he gets mutilated is the question for next week...!

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Oha wrote:

Aotrs,

Just want to say that these have been such a blast to read and extremely helpful as I'm just starting to GM my ROTR campaign. Great work and keep 'em coming!

Thanks! It's always good to know someone's reading!

On then, toi the chaos that follows!

Episode 22: Uninvited Barghests

The party continued their epic battle with Nualia. (Well, it wasn't all that epic, really - I was rather disappointed with her performance, but Ruamaini's Enfeeblements just took the edge off!)

Kevkas flailed at the Yeth hound from the floor, but failed to do anything. Regis took a swing at the stunned Yeth hound on the left side, and regained his manouvers. Thrôllgar raged and started swinging away with his axes at Nualia but only managed one hit, Gavril continued countersinging and Galmard had a paltry go with his sling. Ruamaini started Acid Splashing the left-hand Yeth hound, and Kaddo dropped another Soundburst on the area, once again stunning the hound and doing a little damage to Nualia. Abbondio cast up Animalistic Power on himself and stepped forward. Nualia, screaming unrepeatable imprecations as Thrôllgar, and summoning her Strength power - failed utterly to hit him. The right Yeth hound continued to savage Kevkas.

Kevkas changed targets and made a swipe at Nualia, but again missed. (Missing badly was something of a party theme this evening!) Regis dug out Steel Wind again on the left Yeth hound and Nualia, doing a little more damage. Thrôllgar flailed back at Nualia equally ineffectively. Gavril countersang, Galmard started summoning, Ruamaini used Acid Splash. Kaddo dropped a Soundburst and stunned the left Yeth Hound for the third round in a row (by this point with it's brain leaking out of its ears basically curled in a fetal position...!) Abbondio remembered he'd got a masterwork silver dagger and grabbed it out and took a swing at the left yeth hound - his elevation, from standing on the shelf gave him just enough impetus to hit. Nualia smacked Thrôllgar again. And then the Yeth hound finally succeeded in dropping Kevkas.

Regis attempted to hit the Yeth hound with Sapphire Nightmare Blade. Thrôllgar finally landed a stupendous critical hit on Nualia, who was starting to look actually wounded at this point. Gavril continued countersinging... Galmard's celestial dog materialised - right on top of Kevkas' dying body - and Galmard himself rushed around, past the staggering hound, taking sword-blow from Nualia as he did so, to scramble over the fountain behind Nualia and onto the shelf above the rogue. The dog took a bite at Nualia, but missed. Kaddo dropped yet another Sound Burst. This time, the Yeth hound managed to fight it's way through the stun - just in time for Abbondio to put his dagger into it's eyesocket. Nualia herself made the risky move of casting a Cure Light Wounds on herself and lucked out both in her concentration check and the amount of damage healed. The other hound bit the celestial dog, but failed to drag it to the ground.

Regis switched his attention to Nualia, but he and Thrôllgar failed to achieve anything. Thrôllgar took a step to the right, and now Nualia was neatly flanked both ways - Abbondio and the dog behind her, and Regis and Thrôllgar in front of her. Gavril switched tactics and tried using Grease on Nualia's sword, but failed, leaving Kaddo to take up the countersinging. Galmard slapped a Cure Minor Wounds on Kevkas - a bit of a difficult job, considering he was reaching down from the shelf to a body benetah a snarling celestial dog, but managed it without being bitten by the Yeth hound. Kevkas was still out, but at least stable. Ruamaini used Acid Splash on the remaining hound, but missed. Nualia had a brief face-palm when she remembered she'd actually gotten that big nasty claw for a reason!She still onyl managed to hit Thrôllgar with her sword, however... Abbondio hopped down from the shelf, switching back to his heavy mace and had a crack at Nualia. The last Yeth hound then deftly grabbed the celestial dog by the throat and ripped it open, causing it to disperse.

Regis and Thrôllgar continued to try to exchange blows with Nualia, who was starting to flag. Galmard's second Cure Minor brought Kevkas awake (while the Yeth hound managed to bite it's own tongue triying to snap at him). Gavril tried a Hideous Laughter on the Hound, but failed to affect it. Kaddo switched to Inspire Courage at last, giving the party a much-needed further boost. Nualia struck Thrôllgar - who was starting to get a bit battered. Abbondio had another swipe, but missed again. Ruamiani had basically run out of things to throw by this stage, as had Galmard. The Yeth hound again bit at Kevkas, but missed.

Kevkas and Regis both took a swing at Nualia - only the latter hitting. Then Thrôllgar swing his left axe, and swung his right axe, and they both met in the middle. Unfortunately, the middle was Nualia, who was neatly split in twain. Abbondio finished the battle by dropping his mace, grabbing his silver dagger and charging the Yeth Hound and activating Blade of Blood and rammed his dagger into the second eyesocket of the day.

The party then paused to take stop.

First - a novelty - they were all on their feet (well metaphorical in Kevkas's case) and most of all Abbondio was not only unhurt, but had killed two enemies...!

They elected to rest there, looted the body and started reading through the notes and thus finally understanding the runewells, putting a name to the sinspawn and hearing the name of the Skinsaw Men. Just as they were settling in, That Last Goblin (who I'd forgotten about again) legged it up past them and out into the wide blue yonder, the only surviver of the Thistletop Massecre...

(One of the players muttered something about that coming back to haunt them, I and thought "well, why not - it's sort like he a goblin hero now or something." So sometime in the second half (possibly the final part) there's going to be a souped-up goblin hero to deal with...!)

After a rest, they headed out and spent some time utterly failing to find the entrance to the secret chambers. Eventually, Kekvas took 20 and just barely found it. It took Thrôllgar, of all people, whacking it with his axe before they realised it was stone, not gold. Eventually they put the gold pieces in and gained entrance. They explored the northern two rooms, finding the key and - with the help of Kaddo's translation of the looped message and a superlative knowledge history check from Regis - put two and two together and figured out that the prior statue they'd gotten the masterwork glaive off was Alaznist.

They then opened the door to Malfeshnekor. I made my first slight error in not finding the section where it mentioned him making pre-battle preparations (including casting Invisibilty Sphere) until after I'd described him being in the room. Mentally rolling my eyeglows, I made three perception checks to see if he'd heard them coming, on the basis he cold at least have his other buffs up.

He failed all of them.

With a +16 Perception.

(That -15 through the doors, and he fact he wasn't really expecting anyone (-5) did it, but if any of the rolls had been above low single digits...!)

So the party got the drop on him.

Ruamaini and Gavril managed to work out what he was right away. (As a side note, the monster knowledge checks from the community resources are fracking wonderful!)

Malfeshnekor was standing, minding his own business, in the south-west corner of the room, when the party booted the door in. Ruamaini bravely actually ran into the room to drop another Ray of Enfeeblement (I'm starting dislike that spell!) on Malfeshnekor. Regis rushed to the northwest corner of the room, right in front of the Barghest, taking advantage of the fact there the Barghest was flat-footed. Kaddo started singing, Gavril cast Phantom Threat, which just bounced off. Galmard tried and failed with a Splinterbolt. Thrôllgar spent the round running all the way around the firepit, so he was in a position to start attacking Malfeshnekor from the barghest's right. the following round.

Malfeshnekor, shaking off his shock, half started casting - and then realised he didn't have Concentration - and settled for savaging Regis; something that would have hurt more if he hadn't been Enfeebled, but as it was, ws probably good thing, as he still did 20 damage with two hits. Kevkas moved up to just inside the door and had a swing but missed. Abbondio wisely cast Elation.

Ruamaini, buffed by song and spell, managed to land his Escalating Enfeeblment, and dropped Malfeshnekor's strength further, to a paltry 12 (from 26!) Regis started hacking chunks out of him, actually having a magic weapon. Gavril tried another spell, which just bounced off. Kaddo hurled a Sounmdburst. But aside from the damage, did little else. Thrôllgar raged and started swinging, but failed to do much. Galmard cast Sunstroke, but again Malfeshnekor just shrugged the worst of it off. Malfeshnekor, now considerably weaker, still managed to take a few more chunk out of Regis, who was becoming concerned... Kevkas actually managed to hit the Barghest, and then realised he wasn't going to get anywhere that way with a nonmagic dagger. Abbondio took a ready action to slap a Cure Moderate Wounds on Regis, who was now on 13 hits and needed to retreat - unfortunately, his only route out was through Malfeshnekor's threatened area. Ruamaini's player said something about how not many creatures have combat reflexes anyway (and I looked at Malfeshnekor's stats and laughed.)

Ruamaini hit the barghest with a Sudden Maximised Lesser Sound Orb. Regis, realising he was going to get bitten either way, took a swing, got his mauvers back and them moved back out of thr room to the cleric. He did indeed get a nasty bite for his trouble, but a solid Cure in return. Gavril, running out of ideas, tried a Daze, which unsurprisingly failed. Kaddo did his usual Soundburst - and horror of horrors Malfeshnekor actually failed his Fort save and was stunned. (He is defiant one, so does have a reroll - but as he'd barely even taken 50 damage out of his 120+120, I didn't think it he'd think it was worth it at this point.) Galmard fired off an second Sunstroke, but lightning wasn't going to strike twice... (Though 20 points of nonlethal damage is not something to be sneezed by this point). Thrôllgar actually hit Malfeshnekor, but failed to get through his DR. Kevkas missed with his strike - to his great disgust, since Sneak Attack is about the only way he can get through the DR...

And there we left it - out of one boss fight into the next one!

(There will be no report next week, as it's my panto dress rehersal.)

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Episode 21: Glaive Undertakings

The party retired to the top of the east guard tower to rest. Actually having to set a watch order for the first time, they have elected to go for a ten-hour watch (given all the casters need eight hours) Kaddo, Abbondio and Ruamaini, then Kevkas, then Regis, then Thrôllgar and then Gavil, Galmard and Sungmanitu.

The first watch and Thrôllgar failed utterly to spot The Last Goblin from keeping an eye on them...

The party headed back down the the second dungeon level, and explored through all the quarters. They headed into the storage area, and Kevkas wandered into the Tentamort hunting grounds, where it promptly grabbed him.

The narrow confines again worked against the party, but fortunately, the tentacled menace did appallingly, failing to crush the rogue, and it's weak venom faild to even effect him. By the time it had been struck by a critical Lesser Orb of Sound from Ruamaini, an arrow from Gavril, a sling from Abbondio, and having Kevkas break free from it's feeble grasp, when Galmard's Sunstroke hit it (for maximum damage!), it just dropped out of the ceiling - just missing Kevkas - stone cold unconscious. Regis finally managed to identify it as a tentamort before Thrôllgar finished it off with his axe. Kevkas kicked the corpse out into the sea, and then explored the lair. They picked up the do-hide armour and the short bow, but only appraised them, not Detected them so, at this rate it's likely that they're going to sell the magic hide as masterwork..! The rest of the corpses followed the tentamort out to sea.

The party then headed down. After they removed their barricade, Kevkas searched the corridor beyond for traps. He found none - until he stepped right into the swinging blade trap. While Kevkas desparately dodged swinging blades and Thrôllgar made a few futile attempts to lift the grate, the party spent a good round or trying to work out what to do. Just as Gavril and Kaddo started hammering pitons in, the trap door opened up, and dumped the long-suffering rogue into the pit.

The party then had some time to work out a safe solution. Thrôllgar started by sundering the hafts of the statue's glaives. They pitoned the first portcullis such that when activated, it couldn't descend. Their plan was to trigger the trap, wait until the pit opened, and then quickly hammer a piton in, keeping the trapdoor opened. When they realised about the pressure plate, the decided to change plans slightly, and use a corpse tied to a 5' rope to trigger the trap. In the end, they decided to use Lyrie's body (since if it fell, better a light wizard lady landing on Kevkas than a plate-armoured burly fighter or an even heftier bugbear...!) I elected to let that one pass without a sin tick. They thus managed to extract Kevkas from the pit, which remained pitoned open, the gap covered by the table from upstairs.

They then had the choice of left or right - Kevkas asked which way, and Kaddo said left. There was a brief debate as to whose left (with Kevkas deliberatley turning around to face Kaddo before Kaddo specified the north door.

Kevkas opened it, and found Nualia and her last two Yeth hounds ready for battle. He tumbled in to the left, just behind Nualia and one of the hounds, trying to clear some space. Regis dashed in after, using Steel Wind on Nualia and the left hound. Thrôllgar charged, boosted by Regis' shouting (Leading the charge stance) and pounced, but almost effortlessly, the aasimar deflected the blow that hit without seeming at all bothered.

(She is Defiant 4, s has 54 +54 +54 +54 +54 +8 from false life hits...!)

Gavril started counter-song singing - to circumvent the Yeth hound's bay. Kaddo Thundercalled a Soundburst, stunning one of the hounds. Galamard dropped a Sunstroke on Nualia, but unsurprisingly, she made her save. Ruamaini used Ray of Enfeeblement which dropped her strength by a good 7 points (making her worse off than without her buffs...!) Abbondio just moved up, not having room to get in, but threw off Elation, the first time of so many to come...! (Elation is a stupidly good spell!) Nualia angrily whalloped the dwarf, and her hound bayed - for all the good it did, thanks to Gavril's countersong.

Kevkas tumbled to the other side of Nualia, so that he and Regis were flanking her, and stabbed her. But his blow was quite weak and ill-aimed. Regis struck but failed to hurt the unstunned hound next to him. Thrôllgar started the long process of carving chunks out of Nualia's defences, now with the extra buff from Elation. Gavril continued counter-singing. Galmard hit the now-unstunned right yeth hound with a Splinterbolt, doing feeble damage. (I ticked off another Envy point - Galmard is doing really well in that regard!) Ruamaini hit Nualia with a maximum-damage Escalating Enfeeblement, and she collapsed. Kaddo only just had time to throw a Soundburst on the other side - stunning the other Yeth hound and again doing some damage to Nualia - before the Lammashtu scion snarled at Ruamaini, saying she was going to rip his face off and threw off the effect of the enfeeblement. (Though at the cost of her round's action and a block of hit points.) Abbondio scrambled into the room and up onto the stone shelf on the left, just behind Regis, which was about all he could manage in a single round.

Finally, the right yeth hound bit Kevkas and dragged him onto the floor.

As there we leave it. Nualia is, perhaps surprisingly, down about 50% of her hits points (of course, using a whole 54 to knobble Escalating Enfeeblement helped. But her low AC (17, even with buffs) does her no favours at all! Kaddo is planning to use Hideous Laughter, which of course could go a long way to helping as well.

I suspect the yeth hounds in the end may prove more troublesome...!

(And once again, I forgot that dam goblin! I must have him open the door behind the party anmd attack their rear next week!)

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I use XP, but award generally only half XP for combats (and full XP for boss fights). (I'm also rather more generous than standard with stats, though.)

My group levelled to 2 just before Erylium and hit 3 after the first level of Thistletop.

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I have had to significantly [push up the opposition - partly because I'm playing with a hybrid 3.5/PF/homebrew system, and partly because I'm running for 8 players (most of whom are veterans).

As it was mentioned earlier in the thread: I always roll behind the screen. Dice are merely a random number generator used to provide variance to task resolution, they do not dictate the course of the game. Thus, the PCs do not need to see my dice rolls anymore than they need to know any other mechanics. (That said, both can and are often made known to them.) That said, given how lousy my dice rolls are (with occasional exceptions), as a player you will never know if I have done anything to them - so if you are in a pinch and the bad guys miss, it's probabl more likely than not it's just my terrible dice. But of course, I have perfected the art such that you will never ever know, because if you're losing, I'll be cackling like a madman anyway. To parphrase that wise scholar Megamind, the difference between a good DM and a great DM is presentation...!

In my opinion, if a character does not carry and ranged weapon, they deserve exactly what they get (which is their butt kicked by, or being helpless against, flying enemies). This is especially true in my own campaigns, were EVERYTHING that is capable of using weapons carries some sort of ranged weapon, even if it's only daggers or javelins. (I made that mistake ONCE when a PC had flight. Never again.) And in addition, that campaign world has a prevalance of flying enemies, many of which are capable of making ranged attacks. It's like spellcasters - EVERYTHING that is capable of loading it takes Dispel Magic, because it is so utterly crucial. I expect the PCs to be capable of combined arms fighting, because I absolutely garentee my monsters will! (It tends to mean the PCs have a slightly easier time in modules of APs - if, of course, I haven't supplemented the monsters with additional support...!)

The PCs have thus far shown a tendancy to wander into fights they probably really shouldn't not at full strength (the 15-minute advanturing day is not only something that is fairly common, but often actively expected, especially where boss fights are involved.) They blundered into Erylium at level 1, and ended up running away. They just did not have the resources at 1st level to tackle her (boosted as she was from even the 3.5 version, as assumed at level 2 opposition.) I did everything bar outright say to the PCs "you really don't want to in there yet...!", but what can you do! Still, in brought the message home that, while I frequently set my combats to be beatable, sometimes, you have to learn to run away!

They cleared out the rest of the dungeon, however (while she hid in the temple - for all her bravado, she was a bit concerned!), and then hit level 2. Then they went back fully rested and forearmed. It became something of a curb-stomp after she dropped down to slap the Druid, who was standing on the stairs to the raised area, with Inflict Moderate Wounds (which fracking hurts with my upgrades...!) and then the Rogue leaped out from the dias and grabbed her in mid-air. And once grappled (helped by the Dwarf Barbarian's pin) it was a long drawn out-execution (as she had, basically 48 hit points three times), but a foregone conclusion.

I have this adventure, knocked several characters into negatives (which is a rare enough occurance these days) in combats, but the PCs have otherwise managed quite well, though things have gotten a bit hairy at times, like when they kicked in the door to Ripnugget's throne room while the barracks was full of goblins, just after (not even time for the Wand of Lesser Vigour to finish working) a stiff fight against the exterior goblins (who had heard them kill the goblin dogs in the courtyard)...

Xanesha will be "fun" I expect. She might provide them with some challenge (as of, course, they'll be horribly more optimised by then with a few more levels) with her what, extra three of four blocks of hit points...!

(I remind you, there ARE eight of them, veteran, tactical players and wih a powerful, mid-to-high optimised party...)

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Episode 20: Sound off

The party continued their battle with Kaddo dropping another Thundercaller Soundburst. The blast killed the last two goblin wives, and stunned both Lyrie and Bruthazmus again - and stunned the celestial dog (which disaptaed next round anyway). Thrôllgar stepped onto Abbondio's corpse, and his two axes tore Bruthazmus to pieces. Galmard followed up to slap a Cure Minor onto Abbondio, and Gavril moved up to try and help him next round. Despite their best efforts, even stunned, Lyrie's Mirror Images kept her alive before she regained her senses.

Kaddo moved to up tap Abbondio with a Cure Light Wounds (pretty terrible).

Lyrie stepped next to the door and then dropped a Cloud of Bewilderment in front of her. Though Thrôllgar, Galmard and Abbondio made their saves, Regis succumbed to the effect. With the table hampering efforts to get to her, and hemmed in by the cloud, only Thrôllgar could take a swing, and only hit images, with the rest of the party's ranged attack just missing. Gavril pulled Abbondio out of the cloud, but, between table and other party members, he had to dump the cleric at his feet. So poor Abbondio could only crawl on his action ten feet into an open space before he could even think about standing up...! Kaddo actually put an arrow into Lyrie, through the images, just before she fled out of the door.

Ruaimaini followed briefly, before becoming distracted by the research room and the scrolls therein. Thrôllgar did pelt after her, hotly followed by the rest of the party. Well, except for Abbondio, who finally managed to stand up to find everyone else had left...

Lyrie, reaching the Hellcat Hall found that Nualia had shut the door to the trapped corridor, and with a sudden concerned mental calcuation (that the pursuing Kaddo was able to spot with a Sense Motive), realised that Nualia was not going to come to her aid, and that she didn't have time to open the door, run through it avoid the trap before the party caught her.

So in a last desparate attempt, she turned round and managed to catch her closest pursuers with a Burning Hands. The party's attacks only managed to whittle away her mirror images (to Thrôllgar's great disgust), as they closed in to surround her. She got off one last Ray of Enfeeblement on Thrôllgar. Kevkas, thinking it might not be a bad idea to take her alive, tried to jump on her and grapple her. Sadly, despite her lack of skill, she actually managed to hit him with her dagger and keep him off her.

Then Ruamaini, not hearing the "take her alive part," put a heavy crossbow into her eyesocket from the back of the party.

The party paused to take stock - first they suspected that the door or beyond it was a trap (though Kevkas couldn't find one on the door itself), second, to let Kevkas and Thrôllgar come un-enfeebled.

They debated about whether to rest (Ruamaini wanted to, because he was nearly out of spells, but the divine casters were pretty much fine). They quickly disgarded the idea of going back to town to rest (as I pointed out Nualia could only reinforce while they were out). They considered barricading themselves in (which would have ensured they wouldn't have gotten a rest, since I'd have sicked her and/or all of the Yeth Hounds on them before they had chance), but eventually decided they could manage one more fight.

During this discussion, they came perilously close to going to rest without actually looting the bodies (which would have meant that one lone Thistletop Goblin hiding with Nualia - that messenger, he's still there! - would have been laden with gear, even if he couldn't use it...!)

In the meantime, Thrôllgar took Bruthazmus's head, but had to be talked out of taking Orik's and Lyrie's by Kaddo, who explained that this was Not Done. So he settled for taking their ears instead...

(Another Wrath mark for him... Before the session, I actually counted... He's got about 40 sin marks (so about 8 full-fledged sin points) in total, which I think is nearly more than the whole rest of the party combined...! Sadly, Thrôllgar's player will be missing the next three weeks or so, since he's off to visit his daughter in Russia, he they have a chance to catch up...!)

After searching the bodies, they decided to head back up to the first level of the dungeon and explore a bit further. They went back and through the cells and found themselves in the temple to Lammashtu, where they saw three Yeth Hounds.

Ruamaini made his knowledge check by miles, and shouted out what they were. As Thrôllgar rushed in to slap one, (and DM finally foujnd his stat page!) he suddenly remembered the damage reduction... Thrôllgar, watching his solid hit simply bounced off, rather sardonically thanked him for the warning... Kevkas dashed around Thrôllgar , leaving Kaddo plenty of space (as they knew what was coming next), and tried to disembowel one, but his blow bounced off it's hide.

Kaddo stepped up again, and threw out another Thundercaller Sound Burst, which stunned two out of the three, as well as obviously hurting them.

(That power is pretty evil at this level, since it effectively gives Kaddo a 2nd level spell for every round of Bardic Performance! A fairly crappy second level spell, admittedly, but at this level - and my bad dice rolls - mean the stun effect is very potent!)

The remaining one bayed with all it's might, but everyone easily made the save (Thrôllgar only just!)

Ruamaini decided to end this sound-off by stepping foward and using his last 1st level spell Lesser Orb of Sound and quite literally blew it apart (critical hit, maximum damage!)

Galmard failed to hit one with a Splinterbolt. The rest of the party were moving in, since they were some distance behind in the cells (with a party of eight, being at the bac is quite a bit of movement to get in!)

Thrôllgar dropped his two war-axes, and grabbed his great axe and took a swing, but missed. Kevkas taking advantage of it's stun and practically disembowled it with a superb strike (maximum Sneak Attack damage!)

Kaddo hit off another Soundburst, which killed that one, but failed to stun the other. Galmard cast Sunstroke on the last hound, fatiguing it. Ruamaini used his last spell bar Detect Magic and hi it with an Acid Splash . It took a swipe at the cleric - Abbondio having missed his swing augmented by Blade of Blood already - and missed. Then Regis stepped up. He used his Emerald Razor with a maximum power attack and took it apart.

And thus ended this chapter... Nualia is now down to one Goblin and her personal Yeth hounds (or hounds, I forget whether I left her with more than one when I upgraded the module). But the PCs will need to have their rest. (And having taken out the other nasty major damage source, they can be allowed to take it.)

But, of course, there's still a few less tractable entities floating around the PCs haven't run into yet...!

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Poor bugger just got cut in twain by the Dwarf Barbarian's critical hit. Never even had a chance to get a word out. One moment, he was fine, little bit of damage, nothign serious, fight was just starting - then the next, 30-odd damage and splat.

Could have saved myself the bother of reading his background before the session, really, for all the good it did him...

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My solution to the action-economy problem is something I call the Defiant template. It basically is a template that you can apply incrementally. Each application gives the monster another block of (maximum) hit points. The monster has also got one free reroll per template application on saves (though each use basically gives it an effective negative level) - though I very rarely use this instead of the following options. It can also expend a whole (i.e. undamaged) block of hit points to immediately ignore any instant death or instant lose effect (e.g. paralysis, stun, Maze etc etc). It can also as Swift action at the end of it's turn, expend a whole hit block to get rid of any effect on it that it doesn't like (like Iron Heart Surge should have worked).

And of course, you can quietly add it - or remove it - on the fly...!

This works great for me, as I have well-optimised groups of up to eight characters nowadays. It means that the whole party generally can't just nova the boss in one round. I means Save-or-lose effects are reduced from anti-climatic effects without being rendered useless - and indeed, there's some arguement for keeping them as finishers.

This way, it keeps the boss' defensive abilites up long enough they get a chance to put a few holes in the PCs before they finally go down - but without the correspondingly too-big rise in offense, which I found was the problem in just making them higher level (and often sub-optimal offensively).

Defiant template in detail, from conveniant post I made the other day.

(Note that I treat CR as solely a value of "how much XP does it give out" and I've never used EL as anything, so I wouldn't swear by +1CR/template application as a rigid formula for determining encounter difficulty.)

As I've been adjusting APs for said number of players, I've been absolutely abusing it for all the bosses, because in practise - at least or me and my players - it works stupendously well.

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Tangent101 wrote:
Yeah, I think I got two threads mixed. Sorry about that, I blame not having had coffee before posting. ^^;;

No worries, mate! I thought it seemed a bit of an odd non-sequitur...!

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Episode 19: Villain Revealed

The party mopped up the remaining goblins fairly quickly and uneventfully, except for the Sudden Maximised Scorching Ray Ruamaini used to utterly obliterate one goblin.

The briefly looked around the top layer, but found no-one. They searched Ripnugget's bedroom, and almost all the smart party members got terrible search checks, so it was Regis and Abbondio that found the loot. They once again completely missed the privy not meeting the walls, so they aren't likely to find where that key fits...!

They decided to barricade the northwest staircase up, so nothing could sneak up behind them. (Which, aside from the goblin warning them, gave the defenders ample notice!)

Then they headed downstairs. Regis' player, having gotten bored started walking off and opening doors, without waiting for Kevkas. (Of course, had the party in general and he in particular spent less time talking about non-game things, forcing me to wait for long periods for them to shut up and pay attention...(especially him, since he sat next to me today and I had to shout at him about three times for holding a loud conversation with one of the other players across the table, so I couldn't hear anything).)

(In fairness to Kevkas, he was paying attention and was just about to start checking the doors - indeed, he'd started listening at them. I can see him (him and Galmard's players being the two I've been playing with for twenty years) getting a little bit annoyed at having to wait for everyone to finish talking so we can get on with things. I'm going to have a word with them next week, because I was finding it very difficult, especially as it's getting to the point I'm having to repeat things because people are talking nd I had to shush the group a couple of times.)

Following Regis, they decided not to go into the clearly-dodgy cathedral, saying they should probably leave that for last (I joked that with their luck it would be the exact wrong thing to do this time, while shucking and knowing it was). They ended up headed to the war room, where Nulia had ordered the rest of the defenders (the goblin wives - this time a rehash of several of the 1st level character goblin classes, rather than just generic goblins, for all the good it did) Bruthazmus, Orik and Kyrie. (I used the war room and not the one behind largely because the latter wqas too small.) The bugbear and wizard had taken cover behind the up-ended table, with Orik to the side, blocking the door, and disgruntled wives in a line in front the door.

Regis actually stopped and listened at the door - heard nothing (poor listen check), and then let Kevkas finally past. Kevkas opened the door, and promptly got a Ray of Enfeeblement and longbow arrow to the face, the defenders having plenty of warning.

Kaddo used his thundercaller power again, and out of the whole lot, only Orik made his save against the Soundburst effect. Kevkas scuttled out of the way for healing from the cleric. Orik readied himself, and the rest of the defenders were stunned. Ruamaini moved closer, and lobbed a Ray of Enfeeblement at Orik, Gavril sang and Galmard started summoning. Thrôllgar moved to the front, pasing his ranseur to Regis for the latter to fight from the corridor behind him. Regis promptly used Steel Wind and eliminated the Fat Angry Wife and the Bouncy Happy Wife with one attack.

Kaddo then lobbed a thunderstone, and managed to deafen the bugbear and both remaining wives, though not Kyrie, who promptly cast Mirror Image. Ruamaini used Escalating Enfeeblement on Orik, and reduced him to 8 Str (the player rolled quite low both times).

Abbondio moved up an into the room, but in doing so took both Orik's readied attack action and his attack of opportunity as he moved past and got two solid and painful hits.

Before Orik could do anything, though, Thrôllgar stepped foward, now able to use his new twin War Axes (he started adding fighter levels into the mix, so he can end up with a better TWF for Pounce/Shock Trooper down the line). Hit and a crit. Poor Orik was messily sheered in half. So no surrender for him...!

The animal loving wife whacked Abbondio with a solid hit and the Noisy wife started singing (deafened, she was even more out of tune, which probably was an improvement...)

Galmard's summoned Celestial Dog matrials and took a bite out of Bruthazmus.

It was at this point, the door opened, and Abbondio and Regis had the shock of their lives when Nualia stepped in. She took one look around the room, berated Kyrie and Bruthazmus for not killing the idiots fast enough, then swung around and left. (In fact, she was a bit rattled by Orik being so effortless dispatched, and is rushing down to her lair to get some room.)

(The main reason for the reveal then was largely because Abbondio's player was there. He's on a course at the moment, which means he usually only makes it down for the last hour or so, so I figured I'd do it while he was present.)

Regis, closing his mouth, stepped up and struck the bugbear with the ranseur. The bugbear, starting to lose his cool, dropped his longbow and grabbed his heavy flail. With no elves to vent his anger on, he settled for he closest target, the long suffering Abbondio. One solid thack later and the cleric was down again... (I'm seriously starting to think maybe he should get Sloth, since he spends so much of the combat time KO'd..!)

At that was where we left it.

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In the end, I used most of the alternate villains ideas. I have thus got zero further on with my actual conversion, but I have familiarised myself with the new Cagewrights, where they appear, and added in some of the foreshadowing bits into my quest notes.

I am still keeping in Strike on Shatterhorn, though, and I simply slightly modified the four "cagewrights" you meet in Secrets of the soul pillars to be three highly-paid specialist (the three casters) who are, while not Cagewrights, highly paid for their efforts and promised rewards, and Arbeth as a LL bodyguard to the Fish, third-in-command (aving literally just had a promotion as the PCs enter!) (If the PCs weren't going to kill them all, these four would probably be made into Cagewrights to supplement the numbers killed.)

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Eh? I'm not sure what you're getting at. I'm talking about an (alternate) Dragon Shaman aura that increases the caster level checks to penetrate spell resistance. Will saves or charm have got nothing to do with anything... Are you sure you posted in the right thread?

In general, when someone is taking something that's very quest-orientated in function (e.g. ranger favoured enemies), I do tend to try to advise them in broad, non-specific terms what are some good choices (since there's nothing worse than having a class feature that you'll never use). No point, for example, decided to play a Radiant Cleric of [Pelor/Sarenrae/whoever) if there's no Undead in the campaign...!

When I ran my 3.Aotrs conversion of Night Below, for example, I advised the cleric not to bother with Turn Undead, but pick an ACF instead, on the basis that there were very few Undead and aside from about the first section, anytime they did meet any, it would have been pointless anyway. (As from base 3.5, it's Turn Undead and not channel energy).

I don't feel telling my players that "actually, there aren't too many enemies that [have spell resistance], so you might be better getting something else" is a particularly a big spoiler - though if it is, I'd rather them be slightly spoiled than stuck (if even only for a level, since I allow retraining) with a class feature/feat/thing they can't use.

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Right. Cheers. I'll pass that on to the player then - i.e. it's more situational than it is sometimes, and probably more useful in boss fights than mainstay use and let him make the decision.

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Quick question, because I can't remember.

One of my players going Dragon Shaman in a couple of levels, and one of the (additional) auras we were considering was the Spell Power one (bonus to all caster level checks vrs Spell Resistance - there are five casters in the party).

I can't remember off hand, are there sufficient numbers of enemies with SR to make it worthwhile? I know there's not much in books 2-4ish, but I can't remember about the last two.

I've been working on preparing Shackled City, and it's occulded my memory (and SC is full of SR enemies).

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I am indeed using the ball. Though I am going to have a seriously look at the skill checks and make sure I think they're reasonable for a party of that level... As I was goign through last week, I thought they looked a bit higher. (Especially since the more checks you make, the higher the chances of failure and I can easily see that in any progression of five skill checks, you're likely to fail somewhere.)

As to the cagewrights... I was going to say it probably wouldn't matter to the players either way and had a brief look to remind mysef of who they were...

And then realised I didn't recognise ANY of the names apart from about two as being referenced at all earlier in the advanture!

I haven't read the hardcover cover-to-cover, so it was rather easy to just miss the fact that all of the Cagewright are basically unknown until the end. Heck, I was thinking they were the folks in the party at house what'sit'sface.

Yeah, okay, I am going to need to have a bit of a think about that. I'm trying to not change too much from the written module (adding to it, mostly), but that kinda does need some fairly serious thought. Dang, I was thinking I'd finish off as far as I can go (Zenith Trajectory, my girst projected end-point) next time I take a stab at it, but I might have to do some more plot revision first...!

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Episode 18: Crossing that Bridge as they come to it

As I expected, most of the time was spent levelling up. Kaddo has decided he's going to go for the Dragonfire Inspiration (as I recommended one of them did), via Dragon Shaman at level 5. Thrôllgar started heading into Fighterm because his player decided he couldn't cope with not being as optimised as he could be with pure barbarian, and is thus now heading into TWF (to be combined with his existant Pounce and Shock Trooper, which he was going to get anyway).

The party spent some time faffing about - Thrôllgar and Kaddo's player are dead-set on their standard! Thrôllgar decided he absolutely must have a cart, on which to carry beer and mount the standard. So with some general sighs and eyerolling, he bought one. (It's great for me, actually, since it'll drop their overland speed down to the 16mph I calculated the random encounters at, because I completely forgot about them getting horses...!)

They left the cart and barrels of beer at Regis' house (Regis - well, one of his personalities anyway - said they could, but they did fail to ask his mother...) and Shadowmist to heal up from his starvation and headed back to Thistletop.

Kaddo, Galmard and Kevkas went to the edge of the bridge to scout ahead and the first thing they spotted was a pair of arrows whizzing from the eastern guard tower, where the surviving goblins (all four of them!) were on watch. (Nualia was NOT happy with them, so they were being properly alert.) The two commadoes of the original modules were supplemented by a second archer commander and the one goblin left.

The party sprinted across the bridge over the course of a round or two, with Thrôllgar staying to provide covering fire, plus a few shots from some of the others (Kaddo, Ruaimaini) before they rushed across. Kevkas reached the bottom first, followed closely by Regis. The former threw up a grapple and started climbing.

The one regular goblin was dispatched to warn Nualia, while the others continued to shoot at the easy targets on the other side of the bridge, rather than lean out for shoot at those in the dead ground of the building.

When Kevkas popped up, followed by Regis, they found the last goblin dog was up there, too. The archer commado stepped back and shot Kevkas, and the commando next to Kevkas dropped his bow and grabbed his horsechopper and landed a solid hit. Kaddo got into position at the base of the tower and cracked out his new thundercaller ability to Sound Burst the second commando and Archer Commader. Both failed their save (though they maintained hold of their bows). This leaves them in a rather poor position, and I expect the goblins to be mopped up in short order next time.

The one last goblin is off to warn Nualia, though, so I will need to devote some time to organising her defense of the denizens of the lower level for next week!

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I picked up Heart of the Jungle and Lost Cities in the pdf sale - that should be sufficient for me, I think - I'm not planning for the PCs to do much outside of the AP. (I am using the community side-quest where the PCs find out roughly what happened to the lord mayor and points the finger at Vhaltru, but that's short enough I think it'll be plenty).

Between the numerous encounters and the Siege of Redorge, I think I've got enough supplementary material and side quests, just on the basis of finishing the module without having to push the last bits up too high in character level...!

I am definately open to any conversion material. My intention is, once I've done, to be able to post up a more-or-less by-the-book Golarionising project as a resource for anybody else who might come later. So I'd welcome any input you have!

(I have now actually gotten as far as Flood Season... One more chapter, and then I'll be calling it a break-point. That way, I can assess and adapt the monster encounters in anger when I have a clearer idea of where my PCs are at. I've done the same thing with RotRL - I've done and am running the first three books, and when that's done, we'll run the first part of Shackled City while I do the next part of Rune Lords and then while we finish that I'll go back to Shackled City again etc.)

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Episode 17: Waning standards...

Aaaand we're back!

Bit thin on the ground today (only four out of the nine made it!) but they finished the combat.

Things started to slip a bit towards the PC's favour. Shadowmist and Sungmantiu took down the last couple of goblins in the rear arc, allowing the party to concentrate on taking down Ripnugget and co.

Ruaimaini burned his last couple of Acid Splashes on Ripnugget, who took a chunk out of Regis. Regis stepped into the room, leaving space for someone else to step in (Kavkas, fairly shortly), so they could start flanking him. Abbondio risked a Concentration check - and succeeded brilliantly, giving Thrôllgar some much need healing. Thrôllgar continued to flail at the commandoes. Kaddo dazzled the archer commander with Flare, which on top of the cessation of singing - the warchanter had run out of rounds - and his fatigue even more pronouced.

The Warchanter's singing ended, she tossed a Daze at Abbondio, who saved. Kaddo had a go at tumbling through Ripnugget, but failed and, as he couldn't easily get to the space to stop (Kevkas was in the way), as it wasn't too drastic a failure, I ruled he simply didn't try to move.

Shortly thereafter, Gavril managed to Daze Ripnugget. Thrôllgar took his chance and managed to stand up (the commandoes missed him badly), and finally managed to hit one and take it down, and then the second one next round. The Warchanter managed to Daze Regis, while Abbondio spent three rounds trying to hit after kicking up Blade of Blood. Regis took a couple of hits from the archer commander, and had to step back to quaff a cure potion. Kaddo, now having no commandoes to block his path, tried to safely tumble past Ripnugget (as opposed to through him), and got a solid hit for his trouble, and also quaffed a potion. The Warchanter came at him with her whip, having run out of other options and promptly got a fatal sling bullet to the skull from Galmard, who had nothing better to do than take potshots at the back.

Ruamaini, however, reduced to his heavy crossbow, shooting through cover and into melee, nontheless landed no less than two hits on Ripnugget, one of them a solid critical!

Regis charged the archer commando, figuring the best way to avoid being shot to death was to get to melee. The commander, up against the wall, couldn't step back from him, so took the AoOs to shoot him, and they hit each other.

Thrôllgar, having now dealt with all the commandos, started hacking chunks out of Ripnugget. Kaddo kept taunting Ripnugget with insults, and Ripnugget finally lost it when Kaddo intimated that Thrôllgar (who fortunately doesn't speak Goblin) wanted to sleep with him. The bard got a dogslicer in the face for his trouble, but before the now-furious goblin chief could finish the job, Sungmanitu finally hit and tripped him. The party then started dealing some serious damage, with Abbondio finally hitting and taking the extra damage garnered from Blade of Bloodand Kevkas, who'd been flailing around, managing to land a blow too, putting Ripnugget ino a very sorry state. Kaddo, feeling brave, grabbed his longsword and took a step in - and ran the blade right through the war-chief's eyesocket. (Beautiful critical.)

Thrôllgar immediately started hacking the goblin's head off for a trophy.

In the meantime, Regis took one more arrow and dropped. Sungmanitu and - with little prompting - Shadowmist charged the commander, followed by Abbondio. (To be fair, Thrôllgar might have helped, but there was then no room and he didn't have the speed to move into the only clear space.) Kevkas did, moved in and landed the final blow the ended the fight.

In the aftermath, Thrôllgar and Kaddo became rather obessed with taking Gogmurt's and Ripnugget's heads and making a standard with the firepelt hide and Thrôllgar's ranseur. The party looted the corpses, and then had a debate about resting up in the throne room. I asked them very seriously if they thought they would be able to fight another significant fight without their spellcasters. For a while, I didn't think I was getting through to them about the fact their rest would emphatically NOT be uninterrupted (as the chances of them tacking Nulia and company in a concerted attack with no magical back-up didn't bare thinking about). Finally, when I reminded them that one goblin had gone down stairs and that they knew there were still goblins in the vicinity, they got the hint and decided to retreat back to Sandpoint. (I let them go, as they were in a pretty rough state and figuring that Nulia would need as much of the rest of her remaining forces to reinforce the position.)

Thrôllgar, in another very solid Wrath point (and possibly a When Is Even The Hell point), placed Ripnugget's corpse on the throne, and defecated on his neck (as he had indeed sworn he would do during the combat). The rest of the party were either amused or disgusted, but didn't stop him...

The party returned to Sandpoint, Thrôllgar waving their impromptu standard, which got them a thumb's up from Shalelu. Ameiko - not unreasonably - emphatically refused to let them bring dead goblin parts inside her inn, so after replacing the ranseur with a stick, they had to leave their standard outside overnight.

Aldern briefly showed up, to drink with them (mainly because I thought about it and to remind the PCs they'd met him.) I had notified Thrôllgar a while ago out of session that he'd discovered a minor piece of his kilt-buckle had gone missing (since there was literally no trickets on his character sheet otherwise to nick!) I was planning to have something else go missing - but then Thrôllgar provided me with an even better opportunity. Thrôllgar was trading up his hide armour for a breastplate, and Aldern "happened" to be passing at the time... And offered to buy his old hide armour off him for 20 gold, so it could be placed on display as a "Thrôllgar museum." Thrôllgar, naturally, readily agreed without a second thought from either character or player, to my secret delight...

Oh Thrôllgar, as I said to the player, post session - to his great discomfort - you are making my unlife as DM so easy...!

Kaddo and Thrôllgar have paid 20gp to have their standard made properly (pelt tanned at the tanner, buying apot to boil the goblin skulls down to the bone - as I said emphatically no-one was going to lend them a pot to do that - and mounted.)

Kevkas bouight a hammer for his pitons and both bards bought both hammer AND pitons, so as to be sure they had enough for next time...!

We left it there. Next week is likely to be mostly levelling up (unsurprisingly, given the XP for the last two combats - if we'd stopped the session between the fights, they'd actually have levelled up from that first one!)

And Nulia will now have to re-plan her defences... And she's not going to be at ALL amused by Thrôllgar's little parting gift!

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Still picking at this, bit by bit...! (It's a long job, not least because in addition to converting to Golarion, I'm adding in the extras from around the web, making conversions to my own house-rules and up-rating the adventure for eight characters...!)

The Ebon Triad is giving me some problems. I know some people - like Greystaff - have eliminated them entirely, but from what I understand, they feature heavily in Age of Worms, anothe adventure path I'll be running in Golarion in due course. Therefore, I may as well nip the problem in the bud.

The most nominal suggestion I've seen involves Hextor => Asmodeus, Vecna=> Norgorber, Erythnul=> Rovagug (obviously extremely heretical...!)

Any better replacements anyone can think of?

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Episode 16: The Party Gest Rip(nugget)ed a New One

It took about another four rounds for the party to mop up the last goblins and goblin dogs. They didn't take much more damage, but because of the poor positions they were in, most of them were taking ranged potshots, though other party members and into melee...

The end came finally when they took down the commando and his dog, in the middle of the line. Kaddo bravely tumbled in behind one of the two remaining goblins dogs. Abbondio then took the opportunity while it was distracted to cave its head in with one solid blow, and Thrôllgar - using his dagger at this point - ripped up the last one.

They stopped, then, and did a bit of healing. The bards were pretty much out of spells by this point, and Ruamaini didn't have much less, but they decided (somewhat foolishly...) to press on "eh, the cleric's got loads of healing," they said...)

They then spent some time breaking open the shed and therein discovered Shadowmist. (Whose name I decided must have been written on the remainder of his tack, otherwsie giving him a name seemed a bit pointless.) After a couple of not-bad-but-not-good-enough handle animal (Kaddo) and Wild Empathy (Galmard), Galmard tried again with some food and managed to calm the warhorse down. They broke into the pickle store (wondering if his rider might be kept there) and on discovering the grain, brought a load to feed Shadowmist with.

They then proceed to explore up to the north, through to the north stairs - which they wisely didn't go down (Nualia meanwhile was gathering all her minions in the throne room). They didn't even look for the secret door in the latrine (which was odd, since there was a 5' space unaccounted for...!)

Then they went, with the players not really paying all that much attention, to the douible doors that lead to the throne room. Which were, of course, locked.

Kevkas picked the lock, giving the room's occupants plenty of warning. In this case, this consisted of four Goblin Commandoes, Ripnugget and Stickfoot, a Warchanter and... an Archer Commander (a 4th level archer-specialist fighter).

So, Kevkas opened the door, saw the goblins, and took a solid arrow hit from said commander's Masterwork (Small) Composite Longbow...

The party's initial plan was to try and draw the goblins to them as they had before, so the started to form up in the corridor. (They were widely dispersed because the players weren't paying all that much attention to where they were) Thrôllgar at the front, switching to bows to start shooting at the commandoes. They killed one, and Abbondio dropped one prone with a Shockwave.

The Warchanter started singing (not that after the first round I think I ever remembered the singing bonus...!) She hasn't done much else, other than try to [Daze Thrôllgar ineffectually a couple of times, and positioned herself behind the archer commander when he moved into position to see out of the throne-room and down the corridor.

Ripnugget jumped on Stickfoot and trotted fowards, taking a ready action to charge anyone that entered the room: he knew what was coming! He bellowed for his minions to defend him, and then the goblins from the barracks boiled out to attack the PC's flank. Fortunately for the party, they were standing in front of the 5' corridor, so the goblins could only get in one at a time.

Then the Archer Commander opened up with his first Full Attack and put two arrows in Thrôllgar, who was at the front for 14 damage. It was at this point, as the commandoes pulled out there bows too, the PCs realised that the goblins were very happy to play the exchange of ranged fire game.

Galmard and Ruamaini came up, having been furthest away (in the courtyard with the warhorse), the former brining Shadowmist. Galmard then lobbed a Sunstroke at the Archer Commander - and wonder of wonders, for the first time, he failed his save! Being Fatigued took some of the edge off both his attack - and since he was using Composite bow - damage.

Thrôllgar then decided to charge the archer commander (realising that with the intervening commandoes having their bows out, he could rush past them safely).

What he didn't reckon on was Ripnugget, who countered charged him the moment he stepped through the door, dropping him to 3 hits, as mount and rider savaged him. Thrôllgar elected not to complete his charge, preferring rather to stay where he was (where the cleric could get to him) rather than complete his charge.

The goblin commandoes drew their horsechoppers and waded in. For a split second, it seemed Thrôllgar was going down hard - a hit and a crit. Then I realised I was looking at the Rage stats (and they weren't in rage) and that dropped it to just a hit (lucky Thrôllgar). Even luckier, I had rolled minimum damage on the would-have-been-crit, dropping him to zero.

The rest of the party meanwhile were gathering around the corridor entrance (Gavril was singing) and mopping up the goblins as they came charging down.

Then it rolled to the top of the round. Ruamaini put a nice hole in the back wall with his Lesser Sound Orb and then the Archer Commander fired. Thrôllgar luckily only took the one hit (the other was a nat 1!) but he dropped.

Abbondio was fairly close by, so his action for the round was rush foward and slap a Cure Light Wounds on the dwarf.

Kaddo bravely stepped up to the Warchief, hoping to draw some of the fire from to prone Dwarf (since no way in heck was Thrôllgar going to stand up and take four attacks of opportunity!) Thrôllgar, for his part flailed around on the floor, and succeeded in landing a solid hit on Stickfoot (and had he not rolled so poorly, stickfoot might have gone down then.) Ripnugget took a swipe at Kaddo, and Stickfoot continued to bite a Thrôllgar, while the two surviving commandoes flailed uselessly at Thrôllgar - even prone they managed to miss several times.

Finally, the party had manouvered around enough that the goblins were charging out of the corridor into multiple AoOs and Shadowmist was placed in position. The warhorse immediately took his anger out on the goblins, crushing the already wounded one in front of Gavril with one stamp and then smashing the next one to the ground with one massive max-damage critical hit. The party - even Sungmanitu - were impressed! The terrified goblins had a priority target...!

Abbondio tried to heal Thrôllgar again, but fluffed his Defensive Casting check. Bites and the odd commando hit were whittling Thrôllgar back down to 1 hit point again. Abbondio was himself now the Archer Commander's target, but the penalty from fatigue, plus the fact that his was now having to shoot past the commandoes, meant that he effectiveness was somewhat reduced.

Regis moved up to help, swapping places with Kaddo, and hit off a Steel Wind, which finished off Stickfoot and struck Ripnugget. The latter was more angry than hurt (and effortlessly made his ride check to avoid falling), especially since he's a Defiant 2 (48+48+48 hits...) - but it meant Regis had Ripnugget's undivided attention!

Kaddo meanwhile, put an arrow into the Warchanter, who is nearly out of singing rounds anyway...

And there we had to leave it. The party are in trouble. For all his might, Shadowmist is only four hits away from unconsciousness (since they haven't been able to heal the nonlethal damage because it's starvation-based), though there are only two goblins left down there. Thrôllgar is down to one hit, and the commandoes are still wailing on him. Regis has Ripnugget's attention, which with his AC might buy the rest a round or two... But there's still the archer commander to deal with. They - once again - might have to retreat if they're not careful, and I'd be surprised if Thrôllgar doesn't get ko'd again before the fight it out. They are almost if not actually out of healing, bar from potions and their Wand of Lessor Vigour and the casters are pretty much out of spells. It's going to be a rough fight!

This "picking exactly the fight they don't want to pick when they're low on resources" is going to be A Thing this AP, isn't it...?

We will return in the New Year to see how it all ends (and it might all End Horribly...!) as there's no session next week. So Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all of you reading (and hopefully laughing and pointing at the PCs) at home and I'll see you in the new year!

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Episode 15: Dope on a Rope 2: Eclectic Boogaloo

No report last week, since I was ill.

We rejoin our heroes after eight hours uninterrupted rest, facing the deadly horror of a 60' wooden bridge.

After eight hours, sadly, the goblins, placed on alert by Ripnugget, after Gogmurt's animal messenger had reached him, had lapsed. (Because goblins.)

So the party were unopposed by the sentries in the waning light of early evening, who were too busy playing cards, killgull or sleeping...

However, the deadly rope bridge proved to be a threat all of it's own, as are many inanimate objects or Things Involving Climb Checks.

Kevkas, for some reason, decided he wanted to climb along the underside of the rope bridge. Which required four checks at DC 20 (mostly because he was upside down, or it would have been much easier.) He decided not to pinion himself to the rope bridge at one end, as I pointed out that if he fell, rather than falling 80' into water, he would pendulum into the cliff-face, which is not nearly as forgiving... Knowing the risk, (with his +8 Climb), he went ahead anyway.

To my utter lack of surprise, he fell off. While I shook my head and rolled my eyes, he attempted to climb back up (on the far side). I ruled the climb there to be DC 18 (I was being generous), and he pitioned himself in as he went up (though he had to use his sword to hammer the pitons in, since he had pitons but no hammer...)

He got halfway up, secured himself and tied himself off, and then tried again,. He got another 15' up and then rolled a 2. I gave him D6 damage from the short stop at the bottom of his rope (after rolling to see if the piton came out). He tried again, and rolled another 2. He didn't fall, but his flailing disloged the piton (I rolled a 5 this time), and then he did fall, and the resulting D6 stop at the last point he'd roped himself off dropped him to negatives...

At this point the party tried the dangerous gambit of Walking Across the Bridge Like A Sane Person. Thrôllgar briskly walked across followed by Regis. Then the player (who was running both Regis and Abbondio, today, we were a bit short) had a sudden brainwave about how the bridge might break if too many people were on it... So he had Abbondio wait until Thrôllgar was across before coming over. (Wise move, wise move!) The two warriors then swiftly lowered the cleric on a rope the 40' or so down to the dangling rogue, who slapped a Lesser Vigour on him and carted him back up, as the party crossed by pairs.

The party heard the sound of distant goblins (from the group playing killgull on the other side of the stockade, and were debating how to enter. Kevkas tried pushing the door open, and found it wasn't locked! (The sentries were still enraptured in the games or asleep.) They cautiously explored the first portions of the stockade. Kevkas headed off to the west watchtower. He'd seen a torch on the east one - need light to see your cards with after all - but not on the west, where the pickle thieves were asleep. A sleep from which they never recovered as Kevkas quietly killed them as they slept. (I didn't constitute this as a sin, being merely practical in inflitration. At the moment...) He then saw the goblins playing killgull (in this case eight goblins - six Thistleop goblins, here Fighter 1s, two commandoes and eight goblin dogs) and the exercise yard where he spotted some goblin dogs of indeterminate number (because of the dead ground of the tower).

The party went to both doors of the yard, carefully opening them and having Thrôllgar say "here doggy!" The Goblin dogs attacked in short order, but as they were neatly funnelled into attacking one at a time, it meant they were easily mopped up.

After the noise died down, the party started trying to pry open Shadowmist's door - and then realised it had gone quiet.

The goblins playing killgull had heard the ruckus ('bout time I rolled a decent perception check...!), and went into stealth mode as they crept back around to the main door.

Stealthy as they were, Ruamaini, standing outside the nailed-up pickle room keeping watch on the entrance, didn't spot the commando peeking his head around the corner four rounds later. And so the first the party knew was when the first commando did a mounted charge right into him and dropped him between a horse-chopper blow and savage goblin dog bite.

Galmard and Sungmanitu were first to respond, legging it out into the entranceway, where only the goblin commando's mounted skill kept Sungmanitu from tripping his mount. Then the rest of the goblins piled in. Gavril, standing in the other door way, started to be badly savaged and dropped to 0, but managed to stagger back out of the way, and Galmard and Sungmantiu found themselves facing several and the final commando, but luckily took fairly minimal damage.

Abbondio and Kevkas rushed to rescue the wizard, while Regis and Thrôllgar had one last go at breaking the door down (and failed).

Galmard tossed out a Wall of Smoke (greatly relieved he made his concentration check) which caught commando two and three goblins and their mounts - all eight of which failed their saves, thus removing them for a good round. Thrôllgar started in on the goblins be that door, with Regis trotting up behind to ineffectually toss javelins (the player's dice were appalling!)

Kevkas, Galmard, a healed-but-staying-lying-down Ruamaini, a Flare from Kaddo and Sungmanitu between them finally took down the first commando and his dog. Sungmanitu, however, was stuck facing two goblins on their dogs. She got away with it the first couple of rounds, but finally, luck was against her and three solid hits dropped her to -9.

After being healed by Kaddo, Gavril tossed a Grease in, with the smoke effectively prevented the now-un-nauseated goblins from getting back in with the pair that had dropped Sungmanitu standing in grease (to their credit, the goblin dogs stayed upright). Thrôllgar and Regis polished off the mounted goblin and mount by the north door and rushed down to help. Galmard slapped a Cure Minor on Sungmanitu, and hauled her still unconscious body out of the fight, as Kevkas and a now raging Thrôllgar fought side by side. They took out one pair, and the next one that charged from the sidelines in fell in the grease, the goblin tumbling off into the greased square behind. Kevkas deftly ran a blade into the prone goblin dog. The commando charged in, but missed.

That is more or less where we had to leave it. Ruamaini is on his feet, and Kevkas and Thrôllgar are facing a line of two mounted coblins and one commando, with one more goblin behind them (as the Grease has expired). The commando is Flare-dazzled and just recovered from being dazed via Ruamaini. The goblin directly in front of Thrôllgar is suffering from Gavril's Phantom Threat, so if Kevkas could hit it, he could get in a sneak attack... the last goblin is just shy of the wall of smoke, but in a position to have a go at Kevkas, so it's only luck keeping him form being dropped himself...!

The bad news is, one goblin and his dog were forced down the corridor to the east by the wall of smoke. Unable to get back to the fight - or to the throne room - he's buggered off downstairs, so Nualia will be made aware of what;s going on, and she won't be as lackadaisical
as Ripnugget (largely because she won't just assume her orders are being carried out...!)

We may meet up next week, otherwise it will be the new year before we have another update.

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Episode 14: Dogs and Druids

We started off with a big debate on whether ot not we should after RotRL is finished, carry on with the characters in an amped-up Jade Regent or whether it should be run as a "next gen" sort of game with fresh characters, the progent of this party. The players were, irritatingly, spilt right down the middle, with four for and four against and one abstention. So, I laid the ultimatum that, as they hadn't decided, they needed to proceed as if they were going to have to set up a "next gen" and do the requisite roleplaying and lay the foundations. The mandatory requirement I had previously laid down for not doing the high-level was that the majority of the PCs would have continuation with their characters (e.g. siblings, adopted children, actual children) anyway. So I have said that, if I am not satisfied by the time RotRL ends that progress has been roleplayed out, we'll be running high-level anyway. (So it's basically now in their court: they can put the work in, or I will, but it's now totally down to them as to what will happen.)

We started proper as the party dusted themselves off and considered how to deal with the goblin dogs. After some debate, about whether to sneak or rush past to deal with the Gogmurt, they elected to try and distract (if the dogs remained tethered) or lure (if they got free) the dogs with some meat... In this case, bits of dismembered goblin. (While not very nice, I didn't think was especially worthy of a sin point, since the goblin dogs are animals, and it wasn't like the goblins wouldn't have been left to rot or be eatne by scavengers anyway!)

They tossed a few chunks from the narrow passage in the brush nd the goblin dogs started eating, but the ones that had not had any thrown near them got loose. So Kevkas lobbed some more to lure the dogs towards the passage and then Kaddo toom a shot at one. The dogs then, understandably, decided the humans were better meat and went after them. It did not take the party long to mop them up, and Gavril finished the last one with a perfect shot right down the throat.

They then moved off to search for Gogmurt. (I worried them enormously when I glanced at Gogmurt's stats and realised I'd made him a Defiant 2...) Abbondio asked why they didn't send Galmard ahead for more scouting, to which Galmard pointed out that hiding in thorns when other things couldn't get you was one thing, but entirely another when dealing with something that could...

Then the party did something pretty stupid. When the wandered out into the passage between the bridge and Gogmurt's lair, it was immediately obvious that the druid wans't present. And they split up. Abbondio and Kevkas wandered all the way down to Gogmurt's lair, while the rest of the party stood around near Tangletooth's den. Regis, like an idiot, loudly annouced he was going up to watch the bridge.

Gogmurt's tactical decision was thus mde for him, as this provided a simply wonderful attempt for Entangle.

Kevkas had just made a quick but thorough search of Gogmurt's lair, when the first sign it was about to all Go Horribly Wrong appeared as Tangletooth pounced on him, having carefully hidden on command in the shrubs (none of the PCs came close to making their perception checks, which I rolled in secret). As Kevkas was well and truly mauled (four hits, which disabled him), Gogmurt cast Entangle. He placed it slightly above Kevkas and Abbondio, so Tangletooth had free reign, but easily got the entire rest of the party. Despite the relatively low DC, only Ruamaini - Galmard, who was immune - passed the save.

Regis struggled against the spell but couldn't break out. Thrôllgar broke free and headed ten feet out of the twenty towards the egde of the Entangle when Kevkas and Abbondio were. Just in time to see Tangletooth bite the cleric and swat Kevkas down with a claw attack. Simultaneously, the sound of a Flameblade being cast came from the woods - and Thrôllgar was grabbed again by the vines. Kaddo did manage to break free, and moved a bit down towards the lair.

Galmard - the job made rather easier by the whole "flaming sword" thing - zeroed in on Gogmurts location and threw a Sunstroke at him, Gogmurt easily made his save. The rest of the party were struggling to break free. Ruamaini hurled a critically accurate Lesser Sound Orb at Tangletooth, which severely wounded the cougar. Gavril starting singing. Abbondio tried to cast a Cure Light Wounds on Kevkas, but as he couldn't step anywhere safe to do so, he had to cast defensively and flubbed, losing the spell.

Regis again was unable to break free - as he was for most of the fight. Thrôllgar burst free again, and made it past the Entangle[i], right next to the firepelt cougar - to see the long-suffering Abbondio get another bite a claw hit and go down. Oh dear...

Gogmurt had so many choices! Not ten feet from the thicket wall he was sequestered in was Ruamaini. Only ten feet or so north were both bards, and he could have neatly stepped between the pair of them. By this point, I was beginning to get concerned the party were in serious danger, trapped as they were, so he went after the wizard, landing a solid hit with his [i]Flameblade that very nearly dropped Ruamaini outright.

Galmard legged it all the way out of the Entangle and down to the opposite side of Abbondio that Tangletooth, with the intention of grabbing the Wand of Lesser Vigour from the downed cleric.

Ruamaini tried and succeeded with an Acid Splash on Gogmurt, and Gavril took a shot at him.

Kaddo hurled a Hideous Laughter - and this time it took! (There may have been a touch of fiat at this point...) Thrôllgar took down Tangletooth with one solid hit. He then shouted to Gogmurt he was going to skin the cougar and wear him as a cloak. This enraged Gogmurt enough that at the end of his turn, he burnt a hit block and threw off the Hideous Laughter.

Regis half-heartedly threw a javelin at Gogmurt, but between prone, cover, shooting into melee and the entangled penalty, he missed. It remained the only thing he managed all combat, apaert from struggle against the vines... Ruamaini shot the goblin at point-blank with his heavy crossbow, and Gavril shot at him with his bow. Galmard grabbed the wand and used it on Abbondio, who came around (he'd only been on -1).

Thrôllgar raged and charged in, hoping he was going to pass his save and thus actaully reach Gogmurt. Luck was with him again as he did, and landed a very solid strike. And got a stab full of Flameblade for his trouble. Kaddo - still free for the moment - moved into position next to the fallen goblin, and took a swing with his longsword.

Galmard moved on to Kevkas, used the wand, dropped it and then ran up to get into position to attack Gogmurt. Ruamaini landed a critical Acid Splash, while Gavril took anopther shot with his bow. Abbondio, now able to get up and move, used a full CLW on Kevkas. Regis actually broke free and managed to stumble fifteen feet towards the action - only to be entangled again on Gogmurt's action... Thrôllgar hit Gogmurt again very hard, all the while hurling abuse about how he was going to calve him up and urinate on the corpse...

Gogmurt was now in serious trouble. As the Hideous Laughter had dropped him prone, he couldn't run away, nor could he drink a potion without getting hit. Surrender was clearly out of the question, since the raging barbarian was clearly not going to accept it, so with one last scream of defiance, he landed a critical hit with the Flameblade right into Thrôllgar's face. (Sadly, I only rolled absolutely average damage...) Ruamaini landed another Acid splash, and Kaddo landed a paltry hit (though Gogmurt was down to single digits at this point.) Everyone else missed, or were moving into position, so it was Thrôllgar who landed the finishing blow.

The party waited a three or so minutes for the Entangle to die away. While the party looted the corpse - Ruamaini deftly made all thre DC 25 Spellcraft checks to ID the potions. Thrôllgar, true to his word, decapitated Gogmurt and hung his head to his belt (yes, a wrath point, but also fair cop, it's a sort of GW Dwarf Trollslayer-y sort of thing to do) and lugged the firepelt's carcus onto his shoulders (he's serious about that cloak, but again, fair cop!)

The party then elected to rest (seeing as the casters were pretty much out of spells) and there was some debate over the watch order. (In that Kaddo's player is used to the GM rolling randomly to see who's on watch and our group's modus operandi is to have a set watch order written up on the party funds sheet (along with the standard marching order), though this party hasn't got one yet.))

We left it there, after they had a look over the bridge (the alert sentries didn't spot them)... As they're literally going to cross that bridge when they come to it...!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Ace, thanks! That gives me some idea of what what sort of numbers I'm looking it (about 26-27 Aotrs-points or thereabouts, as opposed to a PF-15/3.5-25 which is about 24 Aotrs-points). So not a great deal of difference (to me!), all things considered. (When doing my own NPCs, I tend to either use the Elite array, or what I term the "munchkin array", which is the aforementioned 18/16/14/12/10/8 or variant thereof.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Actually, while we're on the subject of 20-point buys, how much higher are the stats for a 20 than a 15? I understand that 15-PF is equivilent to a 25-3.5, but what I don't know is how much higher a 20-PF is. (In my own games I have used neither, beginning in 3.0 by rolling and then moving directly to a point-for-point system, starting with base 8 and 30-36 points.)

If a 15-point is 15,14,13,12,10,8, what's a 20 in the same standard?

(By comparison my 30 and 36 come out to something like 18,16,14,12,10,8 and 18,18,16,14,10,8.) I want to know mostly so I know how much to adjust (if at all) the NPCs in the later AP/modules that are built on a 20-point buy.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The black raven wrote:
Aotrscommander wrote:
(I can probably find a link to the actual template somewhere, if anyone is interested.)
I am indeed interested ;-)

Link provided!

Worth noting, as I said later in the thread I that post is from, that if the regular boss monsters are providing the party with a sufficent challenge, this probably isn't needed, so you really do need to apply it with consideration to your exact party size and optimisation level. (If you have a lot of characters, but low-optimisation, you might consider not using maximum hits, but average or something for each hit point block, for example.) Someone later in that thread mentioned about uberchargers, for example. I said if they are that big a problem, you just stack enough templates until it can, and the means they HAVE to get the ubercharger in...

(Though the easier way to discourage the players from making them that big a problem is throw uberchargers right back at them and they'll either work out ways they can stop them ubercharging - which you can then nick - or they'll be so sick of it they beg you for a gentleman's agreement not to use them!)

Generally, though, if you have mid-to-high level optimisation and/or large number of characters, 1-3 levels as is will be plenty.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

RuyanVe wrote:
Never use singular villains. Never. Action economy will have them diminished to 1-round wonders--where most of the times they will not act once...

After a great deal of experimentation, I found a way around that. I took a leaf out of 4Es book with the idea of solos, and the improved it. Basically, I have a stackable template. Each increment of said template gives the monster and extra block of full hit points, plus a save reroll (which is used, effectively gives them a negative level). The monsters can also expend an undamaged block of hit points to get rid of and instant save-or-die as a reaction, or as a Swift action at the end of their turn to basically Iron Heart Surge away any effect they don't like.

It works beautifully. It means that the monsters are defensively much harder to kill, without going too much on the offense scale and they can't be undramatically taken out with one failed save right away AND at the same time ensuring that save-or-dies and status effects still contribute, even if they don't have their full effect (indeed, there's some arguement you hold them as finishers).

I have absolutely abused this idea since I first started using because it works so well - especially since I'm now running for a party double the size of the advanture path's base four characters.

(I can probably find a link to the actual template somewhere, if anyone is interested.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Episode 13: Unlucky for most

The party (after nearly not remebering to pick their DM up from his sister's house where he was this week...!) penetrated into the Thistletop via the briar tunnels. Galmard was especially pleased, since with his Woodland Stride, he could finally be in his element. They went as far as the chamber with the hole, and decided not too investiagte too closely.

Kevkas heard the sounds of something off to their right (the goblin dogs) and to their far left. Galmard - very bravely in my opinion (given he has no Stealth skill - and no Dexterity to speak of) - went off scouting, walking through the walls. The goblin dogs failed to notice him (they don't have scent, according to my stats - though with their allergens, that's proably for the best...! - and rolled poorly to Glamrd's quite respectable 17.) Galmard, emboldened, quietly left and then went further south. to where Gogmurt was.

"Oh dear", I thought. "This is going to end badly...!" But Galmard was exceptionally lucky, as Gogmurt rolled a natural 1 on his perceprtion check. Galmard, noting the presence of the firepelt Cougar, the leather, the spear and general decor, recoignised a contemporary and wisely slunk off quite sharpish!

He then headed left, and went to scout the far end, which was where the refugees were - fifteen of them here. Seven had bows - my initial notes called for five with bows, but I happened to get out seven D&D goblins to supplement my five or so PF goblins, so I thought, "sod it."

And THEN rolled a 2 on the stealth check.

Amazingly, one of them didn't spot him... He was promptly attacked by the goblins. The first three rushed up to him, but given he was still in the walls, I gave him cover and made the goblins take the same checks if they missed as they would have done for being pushed into the walls (i.e. Ref save or 1 damage). They all missed. Naturally...

Then the first pair or archers fired... And promptly sunk a maximum damage arrow... into one of the goblins in front of Galmard (1 on attack roll, followed by a 2 on the "how badly did they bog it" roll.) *skullpalm*

Net result of Goblin attacks: Galmard 0 damage, goblins 7 damage...

The party charged to help. Abbondio was first, and after his move, found himself in the ten-foot squueeze zone between the "rooms" of thorns. The other archers all shot at him, and starting chipping away (my damage rolls were really good, for saying I was only flat D4s!) The party formed up, with the intention of luring the goblins to them. Glamard stayed a round or two, knobbled another golbin wuith his staffm before falling back, as they landed a couple of solid hits on him too.

Most of the remaining battle was conducted at range. As Abbondio retreated, getting a couple more hits, the party was trying to lure the goblins foward, they kept killing the ones that were in a position to do with ranged fire. Galmard (poking his head out of the wall again) dropped a Wall of Smoke, and Gavril a Grease, which didn't help the goblins, and despite the often high cover bonus to AC they were getting, fell quickly to ranged fire. Even Ruamaini and Kaddo managed a couple of ranged weapon kills with heavy crossbow and short bow. Regis even got in with his javelins. Glamard jumpoed out and clobbered nother archer with his spear.

As the two spells expired and the three last archers were left, Kevlas charged in and knobbled one more. Thrôllgar dropped his bow, grabbed his ranseur, and then rushed foward. Unfortnately, he got his ranseur tangled in the vines, and when it slipped out of his hands, the back spring carried the weapon straight back and into Regis' crotch. He xcouldn't have done that intentionally if he'd tried... (Natural 1 followed by 2, followed by a 19...) I gave Regis D3+1/2 Str nonlethal - it was a good hit!)

Kevkas skewered the next one, and then Regis moved foward, grabbing the ranseur, stepping in front of Thrôllgar (who stopped with ranseur reach). He then did vey subtle Steel Wind, and while running the last goblin through and then "accidentally" boshing Thrôllgar with the haft. (I gave this a full D6+Str as if it was a staff attack, since it was completely deliberate. It also earned Regis a full Wrath tick!)

And that was where we left it, with Regis and Thrôllgar rubbing their injuries and exchanging hard glares...

Never a dull moment with Thrôllgar, is there...!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

One of the first quest-books I was exposed to when I started roelplaying twenty-three years ago was the AD&D Pharoah. My Dad has cadged a load of modules from an oppo at his work for me to look through, so I could see how other people did it. (I started my roleplaying career in large isolation - AD&D was not only not my fiest, but a distant third...!)

It stuck with me ever since. I bought the module in hard-cover one day when I saw it at local gaming store, and later bought the Desert of Desolation pdf that combined the whole campaign. For years it has sat, awiting conversion and running.

Now, as I start finally running my first AP and have become a full-fledged fan of Golarion, I am now debating as convert it, rather than to me own psuedo-Egyptian country (which would have required a lot more monster replacement, since my own homebrew world tossed aside the entire 3.x bestiary and re-imaged from scratch). Further, with the Great Golem Sale, I picked up Emtombed with the Pharoahs and Pact Stone Pyramid. And, as I was cataloguing my modules - largely due to the twelve Dungeon issues that I recently bought Age of Worms with - I discovered I also had the PF society module The third Riddle.

Thought occured that I nearly have enough to be making my own psuedo-AP... or perhaps to drastically expand Mummy's Mask (which I will be getting as soon as it comes out!) into some sort of uber-AP!

So, then, the question is, are there any other PF society modules, regular modulles etc etc that are set in Osirion (or close enough!) Third-party modules would be exceptable if they could be comfortably hammered into Osirion. (Given the nature of the mutant hybird rules I play, edition - and perhaps even rules - is irrelevant, since both 3.5 and PF requrie conversion work - and would in the base-case scenarios anywya, since I run for eight characters!)

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