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Douglas Muir 406's page

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Zoren looks around nervously. It's been a roller coaster ride, these last couple of years, but more good than bad. Two years ago he was a washed-up drunk, a petty criminal barely making ends meet running the third-best magic shop in a hardscrabble border city. Since then, things have swung from "rolling in cash" to "bystander to mass murder" to "desperate last minute escape" to "living like a king".

And now he's freezing his ass off at the absolute end of the world, and, oh gods and painted toenails, that cairn thing looks bad. You can just feel the menace oozing off of it. Zoren would really rather be somewhere, anywhere else.

But it's win or die at this point, and the road to win -- he's told -- goes through that dark, cold door. Zoren shivers, pulls up his collar, and moves forward.


Party marching order: I assume Ulp scouting a little ahead -- maybe 30'? Then Edmin and the Judge, then Jax and Ragnar, with Dren and Zoren in the rear. Reasonable?

Everyone is flying, everyone is invisible? Including Ragnar?


Ulp:

Hm, interesting question. I'd say no -- there's no fixed set of "linnorm traits" that they all must have, like there are with (for instance) devils.


Southeast opens up into a large irregular chamber, maybe 70' x 50'. It is choked with boulders and stones and other fallen debris; if you weren't flying, it would be quite difficult to clamber over. It looks like this chamber has partially collapsed more than once.

At a casual glance there doesn't seem to be anything in here, and you don't see any other obvious exit. The place is such a mess, though, that there could be a ten foot wide passage right behind that big boulder over there... you'd have to poke around a bit.


Ulp, do you want to explore further? There doesn't seem to be anything in here so far. You can go left (southeast) or right (southwest).


Okay. Ulp, as a Small creature you find flying a bit difficult because of the wind. However, you're able to make headway against it and approach the cairn.

The entrance is upheld by three huge pillars, each of which has a crude statue standing in front of it. The statues are vaguely humanoid, but with long arms and protruding bellies. If they ever had facial features, millennia of wind and ice have long since worn them away.

Inside, it's still dark and cold, but you're out of the wind. The passageway is about 20' wide and 20' high. It goes roughly south and then branches in two.

Ulp only:

Oh, man, a linnorm. Those things are bad news.

Note that whoever kills it has to suck up a death curse. Maybe you should hang back and throw buffs for this one.


I would say holding.


Good point about force multiplication! But, no mythic tiers planned for a while.


Walls are good. Lots of dispel magics are good. Adding more mooks is always good. As to what the players are playing...

My players, stay out. Seriously dudes.:

We're starting halfway through Fire Mountain Games _The Devil My Only Master_ -- specifically the bit where they enter the cairn to search for Cardinal Thorn's phylactery. They're supposed to be 16th level for this, but I think 15th plus the mythic tier works much as well. Encounters include undead, some constructs, a colossal ooze, and a bunch of ropers, with a CR 18 cairn linnorm at the end.

The PCs are all 15th level: an antipaladin, a magus, a bard, an alchemist and an Oracle of the Dark Tapestry. Everyone has one mythic tier and the bard is also a vampire. They're all experienced players. About the only weak-ish spot is that they don't have a cleric or a full caster, but they're rocking enough gear that the lack of 7th and 8th level spells isn't likely to weaken them too much.

If you're familiar with that module... well, I'm thinking that only the last encounter is likely to be more than a speed bump. I'm actually okay with that, since this is really a shakedown cruise. But I'm interested in hearing other folks' thoughts on tactics going forward.


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Okay, just for laughs I took the standard vanilla 8th level sorceror vampire from the original Bestiary and hit her with the full impact of the Hunger rules. She's been locked inside a tomb for a hundred years or something, yes? Well, here's what she'd look like when she got out.

Effects of maximum hunger: -4 Channel Resistance, -5 Will saves, -10 (!) Str and Cha, -8 DR, -4 Fast Healing, -8 Disguise (because the creature is emaciated and obviously undead).

* * * * *

Female human vampire sorcerer 8
CE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +21

So far, so good -- no change to any of this.

DEFENSE

AC 23, touch 17, flat-footed 18 (+2 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +6 natural)
hp 62 (8d6+32); fast healing 1 A big hit here, down from hp 102 and fast healing 5
Fort +13, Ref +11, Will +7 -5 Will
Defensive Abilities channel resistance 0; DR 2/magic and silver; Immune undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10 channel resistance is completely gone, and DR drops from 10 to 2.
Weaknesses vampire weaknesses

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +3 (1d4-1 plus energy drain) Wow, the slam attack is now almost useless except against very low level targets
Special Attacks blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate (DC 17), energy drain (2 levels, DC 17) and -5 on the DCs is hurting here too.
Bloodline Spell-Like Ability (CL 8th, +7 touch)

6/day—grave touch

Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 8th, +8 ranged touch)

4th (3/day)—greater invisibility
3rd (3/day)—dispel magic, fireball (DC 16), vampiric touch
2nd (6/day)—false life, invisibility, scorching ray, web (DC 15)
1st (6/day)—burning hands (DC 14), chill touch (DC 14), disguise self, expeditious retreat, mage armor, magic missile
0—acid splash, detect magic, light, mage hand, mending, message, open/close, read magic

Bloodline undead

The -10 hit to Cha really stings here. She does still have a bunch of non-DC spells to work with, though, so she's not completely helpless.

STATISTICS

Str 6, Dex 18, Con —, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Atk +4; CMB +2; CMD 19

Now here's where it gets interesting. To recover full strength, she needs a blood meal. But to get that, she must either grapple someone or double-Dominate them. Her CMB is so miserably low now that grappling is problematic, and her Dominate DCs are no great shakes either.

Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Extend Spell, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Silent Spell, Still Spell, Toughness, Weapon Finesse

Skills Bluff +22, Knowledge (arcana) +13, Knowledge (religion) +10, Perception +21, Sense Motive +13, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +12, Use Magic Device +14; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff,+8 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth No damage here except to Bluff and UMD.

Other Vampire Stuff: No change except that her Dominate DC drops from a scary 23 to a rather less scary 18.

Special: Anytime she comes within 10 feet of a helpless creature that can sate her desire, she must make a DC 23 Will save. Failure means she falls upon the helpless creature—whether friend or foe— and attempts to consume or drain it. Until she has fed, she can take no action other than to feed from this helpless creature. During this feeding frenzy, she takes a –2 penalty to her AC.

* * * * *

Okay, so. She started at CR 9. What would her CR be now? Eyeballing, she looks about CR 7 to me -- an interesting encounter for a group of 5th level PCs, or a very challenging one for a 3rd level group.

Now, from a tactical POV, her best bet is to go gaseous, escape, and find some helpless child or commoner to feed on. But if this is made difficult or impossible for some reason (or if she's presented with that helpless victim), then I could see a really fun encounter here.

Thoughts?

Doug M.


kadance wrote:
Paizo does have an atrophied Lich in Kingmaker #3, the Varnhold Vanishing.

If memory serves, that guy wasn't weakened by the hunger rules as such?

Doug M.


Anyway. Party marching order? You have 5 PCs, Zoren and Ragnar.


Wow, many preparation. such buffs.

(and now I am seeing Zoren as Soren Lorenson, Lola's invisible friend from Charlie and Lola.)


DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Actually really cool rules, a lot can be done with them.

Right, exactly! They're good rules. But it doesn't seem like anyone is using them -- not Paizo, not players.

Quote:


Weak heavily customised zombies that need to feed to get to their stats, incorporeal undead that are a nuisance until they get a hold of someone. Yes, I see a lot of good use here.

The weakening rules can be used to cut undead way down -- at maximum hunger, it's at least -2 CR, maybe more. Undead with lowish Str and Cha scores may be rendered almost helpless. A ghoul, for instance, can be chopped down to Str 3.

Also, there's the rule about hungry undead having to make a Will save to avoid trying to feed on the first target they encounter. That's also cool, and very gamable: use the nimblest PC to lure the pack of ravening, desperate ghouls into the corridor of flame-traps, and like that.

Doug M.


I guess I'm particularly interested in the tactical issues that can arise. Like, everyone is going to be flying. That right there is going to make combat very different. The number of buffs is going to be an issue (it was already a big issue at 10th-11th level). Things like that.

Doug M.


Okay, the gameplay thread is now open. Have at it.


Okay, are we ready to go?

It's about the simplest start possible -- it's a freezing cold night on a barren windswept icy plain, there's a huge ancient stony cairn in front of you, there's an entrance.

Buffs, preparations, party marching order, role-playing by your characters... the gameplay thread is now open.


The pit fiend pulled the plug on Thorn's position as High Priest, thereby voiding that part of your contract. The rest of it is still valid, of course.

There is currently no High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde. One of you could put yourself forward, or you can offer up a puppet -- a low level henchman, or some such.


Sure, put your cohort in harm's way. I'm down with that.


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The undead Hunger rules from Blood of the Night don't seem to get a lot of love. That's a pity, because they're pretty cool. (They can be found here -- scroll down a couple of screens.)

1) Hungry undead get weaker in pretty much every way. So, an undead that has missed a few meals will be at -1 to Str and Cha, -1 channel resistance, -2 to Will saves, -2 to DR, and so forth. A vampire that's been locked in a room for a hundred years will be at -10 (!) to Str and Cha, -8 to DR, and like that.

It occurs to me that this could be used as an interesting CR modifier, and also to set up some fun/challenging scenarios. So, the party of 8th level PCs opens the tomb and unleashes a 12th level antipaladin vampire -- normally a CR 13 creature, so a terrifying opponent and a possible TPK. But he's been down that hole so long that he's greatly weakened and is really only CR 10 or so... until he feeds. So they have to kill him, fast, before he can get that first blood meal.

Has anyone done something like this? I can't recall seeing it in any Paizo product.

2) On the flip side, undead get a +1 to Will saves for an hour after feeding, and also get +2 to saves of all sorts against creatures of the same alignment. (They don't stack, alas.) This is nicely thematic! It explains why vampires love snacking on the innocent and goodly: it gives them save bonuses against those good-aligned clerics and paladins. And while the bonus isn't quite big enough to give a CR adjustment, it's a minor but useful buff that could lead to some interesting tactical situations: the BBEG keeping a couple of good-aligned victims close at hand to toss to the ghouls as an emergency buff, and like that.

Has anyone used these rules, at all?

Doug M.


It's been years, and now suddenly I'm GMing a group that's 15th level with one mythic tier each. Everyone has darkvision, everyone can fly, quickened spells are going to be common, teleportation is a thing. And so forth.

Does anyone have tips or comments, in a general way, for GMing parties at this level?

thanks in advance,

Doug M.


Meanwhile, when you have a moment: We skipped over nine levels and about two years of game time. A lot happened in that time. Some of it I know; some of it remains to be filled in.

What I'd like from each of you is at least one (could be more) Moment of Awesome Badassery that happened to your PC during those years, and also one (could be more) Moment of Embarassment or Humiliation. You've had lots of ups and downs; what were the best and the worst, and how have they affected your character going forward?

I already have some of these:

Judge (humiliation): Sister Serafina hijacked the final ritual for your transformation. She rendered you helpless, drank your blood, and very nearly killed you. You survived, but permanently damaged -- and she escaped, to become a rival master vampire. (She's still out there. Did I mention that she serves the Mother of Monsters?)

Jax (humiliation): You let yourself be sweet-talked by Sister Serafina into switching sides at the Horn. Hey, you owed her your life... to this day you're not sure if she was using some mind-altering magic, or was just incredibly persuasive. (And Brink liked her. Brink /loved/ her.) In the end, you switched back again, but the rest of the party seriously considered killing you and it's still a bit of an awkward episode.

Ulp (badass): You got that halfling, finally. You got him good.


A thing to think about going forward: if we continue this campaign (very much an open question), at the very highest levels -- like 19th, 20th -- PVP comes back on the table. You don't HAVE to engage in PVP, ever. But if you make yourselves rulers of Talingarde, accountable to no one but Hell... well, at that point there's nothing stopping you from reducing the number of overlords to a more convenient figure.

We are NOT at that point yet! Not only are you still bound by your contract, but Cardinal Thorn is actively trying to kill you. So, even putting aside that you're contract-bound and (mostly) Lawful, simple good sense should keep you from doing anything that could weaken the party.

For now.


How often would a vampire want to feed? YMMV, but my guess would be "every day and twice on Sundays". Since his transition, the Judge has only had a couple of opportunities to settle down and drink his fill from a helpless population. The Vale of Valtaerna, when you took over an entire valley full of people for a couple of months? That was great. The Judge simply grabbed a new victim every day and drank. But otherwise, he's spent a lot of time on the run and hungry.

The Blood of the Night rules include this nice little bit:

Quote:

If an undead creature can sate its hunger by feeding on a living creature with an Intelligence score of 5 or higher, it gains the following benefits from the feeding. These benefits are in addition to any listed in the creature's feeding-related ability.

The first benefit—deeply desirable even to barely sentient undead—is the euphoric rush of feeding, which fills the feeder with a sense of power, domination, and focus. The undead gains a +1 resistance bonus on Will saves for 1 hour.

The undead gains a +2 resistance bonus on all saves against spells and effects from creatures that have the same alignment as the target of the feeding.

It is because of this effect that vampires so often feed on the innocent and pure, since most of their would-be slayers are of a similarly noble and good disposition.

I'd guess that there's also a psychological component here -- it's just more fun to terrorize and consume the good and the innocent -- but this gives a good mechanical reason for the Judge to preferentially snack on good-aligned victims.


We are using the withdrawal and feeding rules from Blood of the Night -- go here and scroll down. The Judge can go up to 15 days without feeding before he begins to suffer mechanical effects (reduced stats, lower Will save, and the like), so he's good for another week or so. However, he really does not like it.

In theory, other party members could offer their blood. In game terms, the damage could easily be fixed by a Lessor Restoration spell or, at most, two of them. However, the process is kind of gross; you have to let the Judge actually batten on to you and suck out a couple of pints of blood. And -- unlike the Order of the Stick -- you're all a bunch of selfish evil bastards. So unless anyone says otherwise, I'll assume that you will let the Judge suffer until his hunger actually starts to damage and weaken him.


A ribbon of mist flows through the freezing air, moving at an odd angle to the wind. It curls and coils and writhes in upon itself, and suddenly the Judge is standing beside the others. (Somewhere, behind the thick clouds, the sun has just set.)

The Judge can, when he cares to, look very nearly human. He does not care to now. His eyes are red, his skin is a hideous greyish-white, his nails have grown out into long claws. His face is gaunt and hollow-cheeked. The Judge has not fed in days, and it shows.


Okay, if you'll finalize your PCs I think we're about ready to begin.


A bit later
A very bad place

The Ninth Knot has encountered powerful celestials before. You've been in bad places before. But Naburus' throne room strikes even your wicked hearts with fear.

The fiend himself is a pinnacle of devilkind, big as a giant with vast wings of shadow and flame. His great bulk does not seem entirely solid, as if he were shadow somehow inspired with fiery life. His every word seethes with ancient and implacable hate. His throne room writhes with dark flame, and rings with the shrieks of the damned.

Still, you present your case. As Dessiter has counseled, you step forward and tell your tale: all that you have done in Hell's service on one hand, the Cardinal's unworthiness and folly on the other. And finally...

Enough! Impressive. Clearly you have greatly served the cause of Hell. Be this as it may, a contract signed before the Master of All Contracts is not lightly thrown aside. Dessiter, have you reviewed the Pact of Thorns?

"Intensely, O undying harbinger of despair."

And is there a way for these servants of Hell to be rid of their commanded loyalty to Thorn?

"Yes, O lord of lash and longing, there is a way that abides by the letter of the law. The fourth paragraph of the compact reads "The Second Loyalty is to their Master: the High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde, he who is called the Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. They shall do the Master no harm, and shall obey his every commandment as long as those commandments do not clash with their First Loyalty." The wording is quite specific. The loyalty only persists as long as Cardinal Adrastus Thorn bears the title ‘High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde’. If he were ever to be stripped of that title, he would no longer be granted the protection of the contract and no longer be due any special consideration. He would be simply a man amongst men."

I see. Remind me, Dessiter, who granted to Cardinal Adrastus Thorn the title of High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde?"

"Why...you did, O my most immolating master."


Shortly after the murder of King Markadian IV

Dessiter the contract devil appears in a flash of fire and brimstone. He's done this before, but this time it's a big flash. He smiles broadly at you. (His teeth are perfectly white and even, and very sharp.)

"Great and powerful masters, word of your historic deed has already reached my ear. Congratulations seem too small a thing to offer to such mighty agents of my master and yet I humbly offer it regardless." He bows deeply.

"And now... upon the destruction of King Markadian, I am commanded to take you forthwith to an audience with my great master... the Marquis of the Fourth Misery, Member of Asmodeus’ Sixth Praetorian Legion, Gatekeeper of the Eleventh Infernal Portal, Emissary to this reality, the pit fiend Naburus. For it is through Naburus that you can be released from the Pact of Thorns without incurring the dreadful penalty should you break that contract. Will you accept this singular honor, great lords?"


I may not have time to do one for every plot point -- that would be a lot. But I may come back to some later after we've started play.


So Irin is effectively in suspended animation until someone comes up with a Miracle or Wish. However, she has first gone to considerable trouble to find the Cardinal's phylactery and communicate its location to you. Without her, you'd be screwed; with her help, you have a shot at killing Cardinal Thorn. If you survive, you can revive her. Irin's people don't exactly do "gratitude", but her attitude will be set to Helpful going forward.

Of course, you could simply toss the box in a dumpster and save yourselves the 50,000 gp price tag for the Wish. (Come on, you're evil. Don't pretend you haven't thought of it.)


[bold]A bit later[/bold]

The copper dragon's bedroom is flat-out astonishing. Jax had a vague idea that dragons simply slept in caves, on top of a big pile of treasure. Presumably there are dragons that do exactly this. The late Eiramanthus, however, was highly intelligent, urbane, and witty. A shapeshifter and a planar traveller, he was a relentlessly civilized creature. His treasure was in a vault, neatly stacked and organized, and he had several bedrooms.

This is the one he used when in human form, and it is amazing. A huge bed with purple silk sheets and down coverlets. A drinks cabinet on one side, a reading lamp on another, and a discreet cabinet with all sorts of interesting toys behind the ornately carved mahogany headboard. A spring of fresh water pours out of the ceiling into a pool: shower and bath. Tapestries hang on the walls, the air is scented, the lights go up or down at a murmured command.

The late Eiramanthus, Jax thinks drowsily to himself, knew how to live. A pity we had to kill him.

Irin is sitting cross-legged on the bed, naked amidst rumpled sheets. "All right," she says, "play time is over. Now listen."

There is a distinct edge in her voice. Jax sits up. "I'm all ears, my dear." He blinks in mild surprise. While he dozed, Irin has placed several items on the bed. There is a carved box about a foot on each side; a beautifully embroidered bag, blue and black and green on red cloth; a scroll; and a large, machete-like knife, obviously sharpened to razor keenness. Jax frowns. What?

"My contract binds me to the Cardinal," Irin says. "I've found various ways around it -- getting his pen helped greatly -- but ultimately, he can command me." She scowls. "And if he has my help, your rebellion is doomed. I can tell him where you are, what you're doing, and where you are going to be. He'll find you and kill you long before you get anywhere near his phylactery. And then he'll kill me, for giving its location to you."

"Yes... that would be bad. So...?"

"I need to go away for a little while."

"Okay..."

"Jax, you know that for my people death is not the end." Irin leans backwards against the pillows, takes a sip of wine, and sighs. "We are bound to the Wheel. Our Fate is to struggle for dominance, life after life, until we can command the Wheel itself. So we return, always." She runs one finger along the edge of the glass. "But still we fear death, because it costs us much. We lose memories, we lose power. We have to start over as infants. I have done it before, many times. I have no desire to do it again."

"Because you're spending eternity playing King of the Hill, and you don't want to get knocked back down to the bottom."

Irin throws back her head and laughs. "I like you, Jax! Very good." She drinks the last of the wine, puts the glass aside. "All right. Now, we cannot be raised out of death like you mortals. The Wheel calls us. If we are killed, the only way to bring one of us back is powerful magic. The most powerful magic. A divine miracle, or a wish."

"Whoo. I didn't know that. Okay." Jax's brow wrinkles. "Wait. Is this a hypothetical...?"

Irin shakes her head. "No, it is not. I cannot release myself from the Cardinal's contract... but I can be released." She shrugs. "It's going to be a bit messy, I'm afraid. I hate to ruin such lovely sheets, but the Cardinal's servants will need to find a body. Or most of one."

"Wait. Wait a -- "

"His attention will be on your attack against the Agathium. He won't come looking for me until after you're done with the King. Once Dessiter has helped you disappear he'll call me to him, and find me missing. Then he'll send his minions here. They'll find that the treacherous Ninth Knot has not only betrayed Sir Marcel to his death, but has murdered his soothsayer as well. And he won't be bringing me back, either -- death voids my contract. So messy is good here, Jax. Messy is convincing. " Irin points to the items. "This is a scroll of gentle repose; it is not strictly necessary, but I dislike the alternative. The bag is a magical bag of holding; it already has my personal items in it, but there's room for the box. There are a couple of items you might find useful. I would advise against opening the Deck, unless things are truly desperate. Maybe not even then."

"You can't be -- " But Irin is already turning away from him. She lifts her thick hair, exposing the lovely nape of her neck. She points with one finger.

"Right here, between the third and fourth vertebrae. That knife was forged very long ago for this exact reason, as a weapon against my kind. Most blades bounce right off us, but that will do the job just fine. All these years, I've been keeping it around, you know? Knew I'd find a use for it someday."

"But -- "


It's been a while since I've run high level characters, and I've never done Mythic. Everybody flying, lots of buffs, crazy amounts of damage, high level spells... it's really a different game. So, there may be some shakedown issues while we figure out what works.


Oh, and also: Edmin, since the death of Sir Marcel, you are now the Champion of Asmodeus. This means that you can create new antipaladins. You do this by a ritual involving single combat, followed by the sharing of blood -- just as Sir Marcel did with you, back when.


Some little time previously

The great copper dragon is dead, his consorts and servants slain or fled. His castle now belongs to the Ninth Knot. So too does the breathtakingly beautiful garden-island around it. And so too does his treasure.

It's an astonishing thing, a dragon's hoard. The Knot has fought dragons before. But this one was centuries old, ancient of his kind. His treasure vaults overflow with gold, with gems, with works of art, with weapons and armor both mundane and magical. In one corner, a skull floats in a crystalline vessel -- a powerful demilich, imprisoned by the dragon long ago.

The Ninth Knot are not interested in the hoard just now. They have more important matters to discuss. Along with Irin the teller of fortunes and the contract devil Dessiter, they sit in a circle on the floor, ignoring the coins and gems scattered around them.

The devil is clad all in black, the fine silk clothing of a noble, with accents of white, red and silver. When he speaks, his voice is soft and low. "When this mission is complete, you will receive an invitation to visit Cardinal Thorn in his secret fortress far to the north. He named it the Agathium, the place of agony, in parody of the great palace of the House of Darius – the Adarium. He will summon you to his throne and there he will destroy you."

Irin leans forward. As always, she wears a red skirt and an elaborately embroidered vest over a white blouse; her thick curly hair is bound in a red kerchief. "You are victims of your own success. Cardinal Thorn has grown to fear you. With your every victory, with your every deed of might and cunning, he sees the future more and more clearly. It is a future where he is no longer master of the Knot of Thorns. I have heard it from his own lips: you will perform one last service for him, the murder of King Markadian. And then you will die." Her face is impassive; she could be describing Thorn's plans for breakfast. Only Jax, who knows her well, catches a hint of underlying tension.

"Why should we trust you?" The Judge speaks harshly. "Hell has its own agenda, and she -- he stabs a finger at Irin "is the Cardinal's servant."

"If you use that term for me again, Tohram, I shall set trouble in your path. I made a bargain, to save my life." Irin scowls. "Now I find that the Cardinal cheated. He deceived me -- me! -- and stole my oath to service. For this insult, I will repay him sevenfold." Irin's scowl deepens, her features twisting with hatred. "And worse. He has acted to protect the man who set my daughter against me." Jax, who knows Irin well, leans back a little.

Dessiter nods sadly. "It is all too true. And here is where Hell's agenda matches your own, dear Ninth Knot. You see, we have discovered that the Cardinal has allowed himself to become... infected. Or perhaps he was flawed from the start." The handsome devil shrugs. "He believes that Sir Richard Havelyn is his son. And he will never allow him to be harmed."

"So that's how he escaped us in the Vale," Sir Edmin growls. His fist clenches. "Son of a b+@#@. We had him that time."

Dessiter leans back and steeples his fingers. "More to the point... you know this to be true. Do you not? You have seen how he has grown cold to you, once his most favored servants. You have watched his paranoia grow. You know how he thinks. Do you believe he will allow you to continue to rise?"

In the vault of the dragon, a silence falls.


Edmin Al'Roth wrote:

Huntmaster

We used the Hound Master initialy.

Okay. Treat Ragnar as an Animal Companion with the Fiendish template, and advance him as per a normal Animal companion This replaces your Fiendish Boon (so you can't suddenly turn your axe flaming or whatever). If you want to give up Ragnar and take the Boon instead, you may.

Note that Ragnar gets three ability bumps. He starts with Int 2, so you could boost his Int as high as 5. Once his Int hits 3, he's sapient and can understand speech and simple instructions (though he still can't talk).

For purposes of advancing Ragnar, all your levels (in whatever class) stack -- he's a special gift from Hell.


Sir Edmin folds his arms and stares impassively at the cairn. He is not afraid at all. He is the Champion of Hell -- the only Champion, now that that bastard Sir Marcel is dead. One war or another, Hell will take care of its own.

Since the massacre at the Vale of Valtaerna, Sir Edmin has been... not happier, exactly. Edmin doesn't really do "happy". But more balanced, more content. He has broken through. His fate is clear now. The anger, the hatred, the pain: all of those are turned outwards now. He is a bloody blade in the hands of darkness, and it is good.

Marcel died hard, but credit where it's due: the bastard went down swinging, taking half a dozen of Talingarde's finest knights with him. Edmin stayed nearly to the end, while the rest of the party was making their escape. Marcel was roaring with rage, swinging his mace, brains and blood flying as he desperately tried to smash his way out of the trap. The King was already dead, and Marcel thought his "allies" of the Ninth Knot would take him along in their escape... the fool. Still, a lesson there: Marcel's arrogance had been his undoing. He had simply not been able to believe that a group of lowly minions could betray him. Clearly he had neglected the Dark Lord's teachings: trust no one.

At the end, That F!%&ing Paladin had appeared. Oh, that part had been hard. How Edmin longed for a rematch against that pious bag of wind. Their first encounter had ended in painful humiliation, with Edmin being hurled from the higher levels of the Dark Tower to lie bleeding and broken on the stones below. Caught me by surprise. Next time will be different. And for a moment Edmin had briefly considered leaping back into the fray: together, he and Sir Marcel could have brought the bright enemy down...

But no. Marcel had to die first, in order for Edmin to become the Champion he had to be. Patience and self control were part of that. Remove rivals first, then deal with enemies: the Dark Lord was clear on that. The day of reckoning with Sir Richard would come. Oh, yes.

(And Edmin is the Champion! He can create new, lesser champions with his blood, just as Sir Marcel did with him. Already there are several of them, spreading treachery and fear across this bleeding land. Soon there will be more: an elite corps for Hell, marching in perfect formation behind him.)

At the end, just as Edmin turned away and closed the door, Sir Marcel had understood. Understood that he was betrayed, and that he was going to die. He had screamed then, a wordless shriek of rage and hatred, cut off by the sound of the great door slamming shut and the click of the lock.

Edmin smiles to himself, remembering. He does not feel cold at all.


Jax Naismith wrote:

Since irin was already an ally, can she have only cost one pp? :D

No, two for Irin is good. Trust me, she'll end up very close to you.


Once all characters are finalized we can start play. No takebacks; you already know you're going to be in a frozen wasteland far from any human habitation. If you didn't bring the right equipment or get the right spells in your formula book, there's no friendly trading post. So, pack accordingly.


Jax Naismith, man of many names, shivers and huddles a little against the cold. He's a city boy, and this howling wilderness holds nothing for him. But needs must, when the devil drives... and the devil is most definitely driving this expedition; if they don't get that phylactery, and soon, they're all dead.

At Jax's belt hangs a small bag. It's a lovely thing, red cloth embroidered with blue and green thread in a complex, eye-catching pattern. As Jax stares at the ugly cairn, his hand falls unconsciously to the bag. He's been doing that a lot lately, touching the bag, when he feels nervous or anxious. (The last few days have given him many reasons to be nervous or anxious.) His fingers move across the embroidered cloth, and his mind wanders for a moment, remembering.


You can have Celestial Armor -- the assumption here is that you took it as loot. Mind, there's a 50% chance it'll have some identifying marks on it: 1d20 ⇒ 6 Yes, it has a big Mitran sunburst on the front and heraldry suggesting that you're a cleric of the Order of Saint Macarius. Of course, you can wear clothes over it, so probably not a big deal.


Edmin Al'Roth wrote:

As opposed to the weapon for the antipaladin? How do you wish me to do it? I must have missed a post.

No, my bad. Send me the link to the Master of Hounds cavalier archetype again?


MiniGM wrote:
Hey DM, working on my story for my legendary armor. What was the angels name that killed off Zargo?

Lea the Huntress, Guardian of the Sacred Gardens. She was a Leonal Agathion with a couple of ranger levels and the ability to take the shape of either a lion or a human in addition to its normal "winged human with a lion's head" form. You managed to subdue and capture her. Back in the Dark Tower, you'd discovered that hanging around any reasonably attractive female for any length of time would cause Zargo to change into Smoove. So you arranged for him to guard her...

When you released her, the upshot was that Zargo, in his not-so-combatant Smoove mode, was facing an incredibly pissed off CR 14 angel, up close. Mm, popcorn.


Edmin Al'Roth wrote:

Ok I have been thinking.

I will take Leadership and build a new order of Knights of Asmodeus. The will be called The Knights of Neraka.

I am still concerned about Ragnar. If i have to I will take 3 more levels in Cavalier in order to do as Judge brought up and gain Horse Master and if allowed by DM keep Ragnar at my level for an animal companion.

What do you think DM?

I thought we were advancing Ragnar as your Fiendish Companion?


Also: any consumables you had have been long since consumed. That includes Jax's Dream Journal of the Pale Seer (saved your life in the final combat at the Horn) and Bref's head.


Don't post in the gameplay thread just yet -- let's get the plot points finalized and character designs done first.


A bit of background on what you've been up to.

Levels 6-10: After capturing the Horn of Abaddon, you spent 222 days holding it against all comers in order to complete the dark ritual that would summon the daemon lord Vetra-Kali. Astonishingly, you succeeded, despite the best efforts of adventurers seeking to loot the Dark Tower, the forces of good trying to disrupt your ritual, treachery from within, an attack by the demonic minions of the Two Queens, and a final, near-overwhelming assault by Sir Richard Havelyn, aka That F@!+ing Paladin, and his allies, including Irin's adopted daughter and their friend, a silver dragon.

While exploring the Horn, you discovered one survivor of the Seventh Knot: Sister Serafina, who escaped the slaughter of her group and had been hiding in a cell deep underground. It turned out that Sister Serafina was the midwife who saved Jax's life at birth, and who had (she said) been watching out for him ever since. Some of the party wanted to kill her on the spot, citing Irin's prophecy that the Seventh Knot would be nothing but trouble, but ultimately it was decided to allow her to live and join the party. This helped you survive several of the attacks -- Sister Serafina is a powerful spellcaster, very intelligent, and very convincing -- but ultimately it turned out to be a mistake.

Elise Zadaria and the Eighth Knot provided backup in town, notifying you of potential threats and serving as a first line of defense. In the short run, this worked very well. In the long run... less well.

During the final battle, Irin and Zargo both joined you. Irin fought a duel, one on one, with her adopted daughter Janna; at the end of it, Irin was severely injured, but Janna was dead. Irin blames That F*~#ing Paladin for turning her daughter against her.

Ultimately you prevailed: you brought the monster Vetra-Kali to this plane, and wrested three boons from him. The first was of course for the Tears of Achlys, the abominable plague that has killed a quarter of the population of Talingarde over the last two years. The third was -- wisely -- that Vetra-Kali once again banish himself from this plane. The daemon did not take this well, and you had to move quickly to escape the Dark Tower before it collapsed in a massive catastrophe of shrieking stone and evil magic.

(And that, by the way, is how you earned those Mythic Ranks.)


It's cold.

You are standing on stony ground on a high plateau in the furthest north of Talingarde -- far beyond the Wall, beyond the forests, beyond the monsters. The plain that surrounds you is bleak and desolate. The icy wind whips little devils of snow past you. Above, the sky is low and iron-grey, heavy with clouds. Somewhere to the west the sun is setting.

Before you is a massive mound of stones: an immense cairn of jumbled stones. At least five hundred feet across, it's a great earthen mound buttressed by pylons of stone. Snow has drifted around it, but you can clearly see a dark arch at the northern edge: an entrance.

Somewhere in there is your last and only hope of survival: the phylactery of the dead thing that calls itself Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. Adrastus Thorn was once Samuel Havelyn, who burned with love and burned with hate and finally, simply, burned. But Hell brought him back, to serve its purposes. His phylactery contains his black soul. It is his only weak point. If you can find it, perhaps you have a chance of killing him... before he kills you. Because he is most certainly going to kill you.

Around the darkening stones, the wind keens and whines. Nothing else moves in the empty land.

It's cold.


I did a rakshasa sorceror spy a little while ago. [rummage rummage] Ah, here she is.

If you think that looks interesting, I'd be happy to add a few levels. Note that she is in fact not strength based -- in fact, she's mostly noncombatant. But she's very very good at manipulating people.

Doug M.


Your sword Brink is intelligent and has its own agenda. So far this has not led to serious conflict, but it's worth keeping in mind.
A word about Jax's black blade.

Its alignment is NE and (you have discovered) when it kills a victim, it eats a tiny bit of their soul. It gets bits and pieces of memory and personality. That's why, after it killed the Captain, it was babbling in Norspik for a while. It's also why it took a while to start talking: it had to assemble pieces of a mind, bit by bit.

Most of the time this is pure chrome, but it does have occasional in-game effects. First, Brink greatly prefers to kill things that are "interesting". Intelligent opponents are preferred to animals, higher level to low, and so forth. Killing a bunch of low level, unintelligent fles is like forcing it to eat celery: it gets cranky.

Second, when Brink kills something, it occasionally picks up memories that contain useful information. Think of this as getting an occasional partial Speak With Dead.

Third, when Brink kills a particularly powerful creature, or one with a particularly strong personality, it may take on the flavor of that creature for a while. So far, this has only had a major effect once: when Jax struck the death blow against a powerful angel a while back. Brink emitted a strange loud BONG, and then simply stopped working for half a day -- would not speak, lost its pool of points, was completely nonresponsive. It did eventually seem to recover, but it was very subdued for a while afterwards.

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