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-- Wait a moment, I don't want to dabble in summoning devils! I'm Lawful Good!
The Marquis steeples his fingers. "You did well to bring this to me. You are quite correct -- false leads of this sort are often planted to bring foolhardy or careless readers to ruin. On the other hand, if your find is real, it could be quite valuable to your future studies. A true name greatly simplifies the conjuration of outsiders! In the case of devils, it can also lead to complications of various sorts... but the knowledge to be gained is potentially quite vast." The Marquis arches an ironic eyebrow at you, as if to say Forbidden knowledge! Does this interest you? I think perhaps, yes?
"There are... techniques, for testing the validity of a true name. First, though, we should start with a detailed description of exactly how and where you found it. That will give us a preliminary idea of whether we have something worth further investigation."
Osei Otieno wrote:
Osei lowers his voice so that even the Marquis must strain a bit to hear, but maintains the same expression on his face so that distant observers would see a continuation of the same conversation. He picks up the doll, and gestures to and around it while speaking.
That's exactly one of the uses of the Bluff skill. (Seriously, it's in the skill description.)
Osei Otieno wrote:
"How do you find the celebration thus far? I was entertaining myself by considering the simple enchantments placed upon these poppets. Quite cleverly woven," Osei says while stifling a yawn.
"Delightful! Kenabres gets few enough opportunities for celebration. We should take what we have." The Marquis and his party pull up three chairs. "And, yes, the enchantments are professionally interesting. A glamer, rather than a proper transmutation, and it will fade at sundown. Still, impressive work."
"It's a beautiful day for a festival!" says the doll, as if on cue.
The Marquis smiles. "Speaking of professional matters. You wished to consult with me...?"
Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:
[various Sense Motives]
A more cruel DM would give you some amusingly wrong result for that nat 1... well, maybe next time. Anyway, you got nothin'. (The Marquis, in particular, is a hard one to read. Professional diplomat, his Bluff is probably off the scale.)
Laurine doesn't look in danger of imminent meltdown or freakout, if that's the question.
Sir Constantine Godalming wrote:
"Any word on what it would take for us to plead our case to the great dragon or at least to the commandant?"
Sir Robert shakes his head. "These things go through channels. You might appear before the Commandant. Great Terendelev... has her own agenda." He's still keeping a distrustful eye on the Chelaxians.
A shadow falls over Osei's table. "And a good Armasse morning to you, my friend," says the Marquis politely. He is dressed in the full formal regalia of a Chelaxian envoy. It's impressive! All red and black and gold, with a hideously gorgeous holy symbol of Asmodeus on his chest.
Two people accompany him: a weasel-faced man in black and a young woman with dark hair. "My aide-de-camp Sir Domitian, Baronet of Titus-on-the-Slode. And my daughter Felice." Weasel-face gives you a condescending smirk. Felice nods hesitantly.
And Takka, Balek and Sir Constantine are nearby as well, discussing what (if anything) to do today. None of them are really in the mood for a festival, but it is a beautiful sunny day...
Meanwhile, Sir Robert (the Andoran) stops by your table for a moment to nod hello and pass the time of day. What he's actually doing is publicly stating that even though you're monsters who've been kicked out of the Crusade, he doesn't consider you pariahs.
Armasse day! Everyone is gathered in the main square.
Osei is seated at a table turning a doll over in his hands. The doll is a simple little thing with a rag dress and a gourd for a head, but it has a spell cast on it that causes it to speak every few minutes. In a cheerful, squeaky voice it says things like:
"Kenabres, widely known as the jewel of western Mendev, was founded in 3382!"
"Today's weather forecast is sunny and warm, with light breezes from the northwest. It's a beautiful day for a festival!"
"The wardstones protect our country against the terrors of the Worldwound!"
"The Sisters of Holiness welcome your contributions!" (The dolls are free handouts for the pilgrim trade, but their creation is funded in part by paid ads...)
"It's a beautiful day for a festival!"
"Help keep Kenabres clean!"
Osei is not particularly interested in what the doll has to say, but he is quite interested in it as a magic item. It's obviously a variant of the classic Magic Mouth spell, but it's more flexible. These dolls are being handed out for free, though, so the caster must have found some way to mass-produce the effect. Probably it will wear off in a few hours... but still, it's an interesting puzzle. There are some runic markings on the doll's raggy boddy, undoubtedly part of the spell. Now, how exactly...?
Of course, Osei could just find the caster and ask him or her. But I'm guessing he's the sort of guy who would consider that a distant second best to figuring it out himself.
The Divination spell normally requires some moderately expensive offering. Erastil knows the situation of his Sarkoran devotees, though, so he accepts something else instead: rarity. There are probably not a dozen bottles of real Sarkoran applejack left in the world. Father Cadwale pours each of you a finger, then pours the rest of the bottle into a bowl. The bowl already contains a large lump of bacon. With a few whispered words he sets it alight.
The applejack-and-bacon mixture burns energetically (and smells great). After a few moments a large gobbet of fat goes SNAP, flies out of the bowl, and lands on the table right in front of Balek where it burns smokily for half a minute or so. "Message for you, Balek," murmurs Father Cadwale to a general chuckle. A few minutes later, when it's burned down, the old priest peers into the bowl.
"Stain at six o'clock, that's danger. Hm! Dark one, too. Two overlapping patches at nine o'clock, that's separation and negation. Don't... separate. Stick together, stand with your comrades, don't break up."
"The kids these days say, don't split the party," adds Brother Baltrit helpfully.
"Hmmmph. Well, there we have it! All of you, be alert today. And... stick together."
Yesterday, I noticed a simply brilliant way to make a diabolist: cleric, worshipping Maat (who is LN) and taking the Void domain. Resulting in having all 3 planar binding spells, Lesser at 4th level, and being able to use the favored class bonus to boost Penetration.
Oh, nice. The 2nd and 8th level boons for that domain are also pretty sweet.
Thinking about it, this would be the only build where you could enter before 9th level without using a scroll. On the other hand, that 8th level power is so good -- especially if you build towards it, taking a lot of save-or-suck Will spells and investing in feats and items to crank your spell DCs -- that I could see going one more level of cleric just to grab it.
On the minus side, while you get LPB as a fourth level spell, you get PB as sixth and GPB as 8th -- by which time you're 15th level and, meh, you're almost better off with Planar Ally.
Still, good catch! Will be added to the Guide.
Well, sort of cleared. The conclusion is that Laurine has a demonic connection somewhere in her ancestry... not necessarily a demon as such (though maybe!); it could be that she had ancestors who were cultists, experimented with demonic influences, what have you. The senior priest (who seems a lot more sensible than the panicky guy you met) recommends that Laurine leave the vicinity of the Worldwound. "This sort of influence is like a... congenital weakness. You wouldn't send someone with weak bones into combat, or set someone with a weak heart to heavy labor. No? Well, this is probably the last place in the world she should be."
Laurine gets really quiet and doesn't seem to want to talk about any of this. However, you do agree to meet at the Armasse festival, walk around a bit, and have a cup of tea. Perhaps the festivities will cheer her up.
Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:
1d20 ⇒ 61d20 ⇒ 18
1d100 ⇒ 88
...okay, the priest eventually calms down, a higher priest is called, and you spend an uncomfortable day in quarantine. They do decide that Laurine is not imminently dangerous -- it occasionally happens that people get weird effects in or around the Worldwound, and it's not always a sign of demonic infection. So while it's not a terribly fun or dignified process, you're eventually cleared.
Mind, the SR penetration champion is a human cleric taking the special human / tiefling favored class bonus: an astonishing +1/level to overcome spell resistance! For a Diabolist (or any other character that expects to be doing anything with outsiders) this is a no-brainer; it's like a free feat every two levels.
The drawback of course is that clerics don't get Planar Binding, and must make do with the less-good Planar Ally spell instead. The workaround here is to take the Devil subdomain, which gives you access to Planar Binding (though not LPB or GPB). That'll keep you happy from 11th level to 15th, and after that Planar Ally starts becoming more cost-effective.
A general note on retraining: if you want to go this route, an opportunity will arise soon in-game. Consider carefully what you want to do. Feel free to post here on the discussion thread.
Some classes require particular resources -- mounts, weapons, what have you. I'm fine with putting those resources in your path in-game, within reason. For instance, if Takka remains a cavalier, he will soon get a chance to pick up another mount. If you need a particular sort of weapon, you might encounter an enemy who wields it. And so forth. Note again the "within reason" part.
Wow, I was unaware of the Seeker archetype. That's a pretty strong archetype -- in fact, I'd say that 15th level power verges on overpowered. Combine that sucker with Magical Knack or Spell Perfection and you can get some pretty cheesetastic results. That said, it'll probably never be an issue for a Diabolist Oracle (you won't hit 15th level as oracle until quite late in the game, if ever).
Meanwhile, yes, the +4 to penetrate SR would be pretty sweet! And as you say, this would stack with the Rift Magic revelation to give you an eye-watering +8. Throw in a single Spell Penetration feat and you're pretty much done -- most outsiders have CR+10 SR. (There are a few annoying exceptions, like the rakshasa and the night hag, but you can avoid them.)
I think this version of the Oracle is still half a step behind the sorceror and wizard: slow spell progression and limited spells like the sorceror, but the cleric / oracle spell list is somewhat less good for a diabolist. However, it's definitely blue -- a strong choice, and playable.
Takka of the Toad wrote:
Mystery person's Perception roll: 1d20 ⇒ 9
Okay, the cloaked person does not notice you. S/he stops at the door and knocks softly.
The door opens almost instantly. The cloaked figure steps inside. The door shuts.
1d100 ⇒ 10
As you approach Irabeth's door, you see that someone else is already approaching it! A slender figure -- human? female? It's hard to be sure, as s/he is wearing a cloak and a hood. You're a little bit ahead, and the other person doesn't seem to have noticed you.
-- You got there first; go ahead and knock on the paladin's door. The other person can wait their turn.
Takka of the Toad wrote:
After a minute or so, it's pretty clear that it's not. Kir is...
reaction roll: 1d20 ⇒ 11
...not hostile, but he's not really engaging with what you're saying. "I... am sorry for your troubles, kobold. But I have troubles of my own. I need..." he pauses and seems to think for a moment, "...I need... a drink. Of something... really strong. Several of them. I need to be completely..." He shakes his head. "Anyway. Don't listen to dreams, kobold, and for all gods' sake don't try to follow them. That way, madness lies."
He turns and walks away.
-- run after him and try to continue the conversation?
Okay, moving towards the end of this part. Still to resolve: Haruka and Laurine at the temple, Takka's conversation with Kir and/or Irabeth, and anything Balek wants to do or say with the other Sarkorans (optional). Rather than playing these out in great detail, you may provide a general description of what you want to do. ("My main goal is to keep Laurine safe," "I just want to talk to somebody," or whatever.)
Kir is in bad shape. Really, really bad shape. He's lost weight, there are dark hollows under his eyes, and he walks like a man who's just been kicked in the gut. Takka isn't normally the most sensitive of souls, (1) but misery and despair are fairly radiating off of the Sergeant.
He turns slowly and stares down at the kobold. He looks completely distracted and a little confused. "Private... Takka? What...?"
(1)No Sense Motive and a 10 Wisdom: I would model that as Takka is a decent sort who means well, but he doesn't have a lot of natural empathy. Maybe he's a little self-centered, or maybe it's because he's a reptile. (2)
(2) Okay, probably kobolds aren't reptiles but some sort of hot-blooded archosaur, like dinosaurs.
Takka of the Toad wrote:
"...Sergeant Kir! Please! Wait! I need your help! Please, you must hear me out!" Takka called out, hoping to draw his attention. No, he might not believe him. He may not even want to look at Takka. But the kobold had to tell someone about this. He had to let people know his fears...
1d20 ⇒ 20
Huh! That was an untrained Sense Motive check. Well...
The discussion is of Armasse events. Some are violent, like the jousts and games, and injuries are not unknown. So it's wise to prepare spells of healing and prevention. Also, while prejudice against ethnic Sarkorans has died down considerably in the last decade, one should keep an eye out; folk will be drinking, and the young and foolish may be... young and foolish. So walk around, pay attention, and keep your wits about you; have a beer now for the day's work if you like, but otherwise leave it at that until the festival tents are struck.
Father Cadwale is the senior Leftover. Lame and blind in one eye, he is still a competent and practical leader. When the discussion is done, he'll do a short divination and then bless you all and turn you loose.
Balek Nine Fingers
The Sarkorians in Kenabres tend not to identify themselves as such. In the early days of the Second Crusade, a group of demons got inside the city's defenses by disgusing themselves as Sarkorian refugees. They nearly brought Kenabres down, and killed many in the attempt. The result was a reaction against ethnic Sarkorians, which reached horrible extremes during the Third Crusade. Those who remained in the city afterwards have mostly kept their heads down and have tried to blend.
Similarly, the organized Sarkorian clergy of Erastil... aren't, very. For a lawful deity, Erastil is relatively uninterested in hierarchy and formality. "Know your place, do your duty, and follow tradition" pretty much covers it. That goes double for the Sarkorians, who don't even have a formal temple as such.
That said, there are small gatherings of the clergy on important days. The group in Sarkoris has the self-deprecating nickname "The Leftovers", because most of the more senior priests moved on deeper into Mendev. The Leftovers -- just half a dozen or so -- gather at a wooden table in the courtyard of a house that's owned by one of the faithful. There are no complex rituals; prayer beneath the open sky followed by a simple meal suffices.
Takka of the Toad wrote:
Takka growled, pulling himself to his feet once more and hobbling as quickly as he could move. "Lady Irabeth... I have to find Lady Irabeth..!"
1d100 ⇒ 25
For the Commander of the Eagle Watch, Irabeth lives in very plain and simple lodgings: a small townhouse in the Gate District. It's past midnight now, so the streets are mostly empty. Mostly: not entirely. As Takka trots anxiously down the street, he passes someone coming the other way. It's Sergeant Kir.
Kir looks very distracted. If you don't call out to him, he'll probably walk right past you.
Armasse is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and it's about as close to a Mardi Gras as a fairly strait-laced Lawful Good town under military rule can get. Originally, it was a ceremony at which knights chose squires, and squires were promoted to be knights. But it's grown, and now it's basically a big city-wide party that includes jousting competitions, mock duels, battle reenactments, you name it. It's a welcome distraction from the daily grind -- tedium punctuated by horror -- of being on the front line of the war.
While Armasse is city-wide, the most exciting and interesting stuff will be happening at Clydwell Square, in the city center in front of the great cathedral. (Osei, that's where you will be.)
Takka of the Toad wrote:
Hobbling out to the front of the wood shed, Takka paused. Who would listen to him? How could he persuade anyone to listen to him? It seemed insurmountable to him... but he had to try. Perhaps... someone he knew would give him a chance...?...
Nurrah is not there. It was the little apartment she shared with Benno, so... she's cleared out her stuff and moved on.
Takka of the Toad wrote:
"When will it be fixed? ...and how do you know? Who are you? Are you... is this real? Or am I simply... imagining this...?"
Is courage real, or do you imagine it? Is honor? The great voice is calm. It is kind, but there is an undertone of steely resolve. You are known to me, Takka. Now you are like a half-grown slurk, still stumbling on new legs, gasping for breath in the strange world beyond the water's edge. But if you grow straight and strong, you may leap very far indeed.
Despair is a tool of the enemy. Do not fall to it. As long as you walk the path of righteousness, the gift of hope shall always be yours. Never abandon it.
There is a sound like a vast beautiful chord of music. The Wardstone seems to resonate and sing with it. (With the faintest hint of dissonance... around the crack, the evil green light dances and flickers.) It ascends on itself, harmonic upon harmonic, until your eyes sting and your heart swells with the crystalline perfection and beauty of it.
It is still ringing in your ears as you awake.
It's a dream, so things are strange. You can only do so many things, if you do anything at all... Do you want to
Talk to the voice;
Takka of the Toad
Takka sleep on a bed of straw on the floor. (For kobolds, this is luxury.) Tonight his sleep is restless; grief still gnaws at him, and he misses the comforting presence of Sleek. Still, eventually deeper sleep comes...
The Wardstone is a tall, slender pyramid, very slightly curved like a great claw or hook. It is taller than a man, twice the height of a kobold. It is made of some unknown marble-like stone, tremendously hard and durable. Three metal bands encircle it. Runes of power are incised into them.
The mere presence of the Wardstone is immensely comforting. You can feel the arcane energies around it, immensely powerful yet held in perfect tension. Pure law and pure benevolence suffuse the air. It is like being in the presence of a stern but loving parent. The wardstone is the kindly teacher who will help you earn your grade, the dutiful priest, the honest cop on the beat. It is order and light. Against the festering horrors of the Worldwound, it holds the blade of Law. You could stand here and soak in its wonderful presence for hours, and you are sure you'd be better for it.
But all is not perfect here. You notice a small crack near the base of the Wardstone. That by itself is alarming. But the crack seems... active. It seems to crawl a little in your vision, and there is a faint green glow or flicker that seems to come and go. Seeing this fills you with a deep unease. The Stone should not be cracked, and there's something very bad and wrong about that green light.
The demons attacked it, let by their Storm King, says a great calm voice. They failed. The Wardstone was damaged, but the damage has been contained. Repairs are under way. Soon it will be intact again.
Relief floods through you. It will be all right!
Whoops. Well, he's striking for nonlethal damage anyways...
1d20 ⇒ 5
Okay, you parry the glowing blade with your quarterstaff. Now: try to talk him down, counterattack, or get the hell out?
Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:
How is that different from being imprisoned...? But okay. You don't want me to roll low, here.
Will the jumpy priest do something foolish? 1d100 ⇒ 9
1d100 ⇒ 40
The priest gestures, and a glowing golden scimitar appears in the air before you. "I cannot allow you to leave! This woman clearly needs to be exorcised, and you may have been infected as well. Stay!"
Sarenrae is actually a perfectly nice deity -- you just got a priest who's unusually jumpy. Possibly the poor fellow has been fighting demons and is suffering from PTSD. On the other hand, it's also possible that he's just a complete jerkbutt.
Welp, looks like Osei's course of studies will be interrupted for a while -- at a minimum, until Master Quednys cools down. Which might take some time; he's not used to wet-nosed apprentices asking him to explain himself. Meanwhile, you'll have to retreat as best you can, ears burning (and eyebrows possibly literally smoldering, if Quednys really gets going).
In other news,
The Marquis will be *delighted* to meet with you! He will be escorting his daughter to the Armasse celebration. Come, walk with him, and perhaps we can have a nice cup of tea.
Osei Otieno wrote:
He pretty much already explained himself. You need to make a DC 15 Diplomacy check now, or he's going to quite lose his temper.
The bad things about nonlethal damage are (1) it doesn't stack with real damage, and (2) there are a bunch of things that are immune to it. The good thing about nonlethal damage is that it renders foes unconscious instead of killing them. Which means you can still kill them at your leisure, but you also get a bunch of options -- capture, interrogation, ransom, you name it.
Since lethal and nonlethal damage don't stack, the key to success is that *everyone* should be dealing nonlethal damage. So: is it possible to build a party around this concept? Obviously this would be a pretty suboptimal build for a PC party in most campaigns, but it could be interesting in some situations. And a nonlethal-optimized group of NPCs could be excellent recurring opponents: they don't kill the PCs, they just knock them out, take their stuff, and bring them in to face the Duke's justice...
Rogue types: the sap adept, sap master, and knockout artist feats are the way to go here. As noted recently, with these feats it's not too hard to build a character that can do ~40 points of nonlethal with a single SA at 4th level.
Melee types: at low levels, the bludgeoner or stage combatant feats and/or the blade of mercy trait. At higher levels, a merciful magical weapon. Either way, the enforcer feat (free intimidate check when you deal nonlethal) is a must.
Casters: it's a fairly short list of useful spells... touch of mercy, admonishing ray (a must-have), pain strike, and that's about it. You want the Merciful Spell feat, or a metamagic rod (protip: these are surprisingly cheap.) Otherwise, casters in this party are more about enchantment, control, and buffing.
Haruka Shiraboshi wrote:
The priest doesn't seem evil so much as undertrained and/or distracted.
11 on Diplomacy? Laurine is pausing, obviously about to fly. The priest is raising his hands to cast some sort of spell...