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Human on Flying Carpet

MrVergee's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 1,066 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Since Milani is the CG deity of hope, devotion and uprisings, she is a perfect fit for PCs in this AP: she is the goddess of freedom fighters after all. As such her priests would be quite far removed from priests of Abadar, or even other major Korvosan deities like Pharasma or Asmodeus. Sarenrae or Shelyn, the other two gods who have their own temple in Korvosa, are closer to Milani in spirit, although they do not encompass the thought of freedom fighters. So I'd be inclined to have my player stay with Milani.

Any faith could have warpriests, I guess, they'd just be the church's faith militant branch. Of course, gods who actively fight for their causes, would be a better fit for the idea of a warpriest, so Sarenrae who stands for peace or Abadar who promotes law and civilization would probably be less inclined to have such warrior-priests in their ranks. Again Milani seems like a better patron diety for warpriests than any of the gods in Korvosa.

Hellknights are lawful and allow any lawful alignment in their ranks: LG, LN or LE. The order of the Nail holds members of all these alignments, although LN and LE are definitely represented more than LG. As far as divine Hellknights go, any lawful god will do. The Hellknights will just play up the lawful aspect and tune down the good or evil side of their alignment. Having a Hellknight PC is a possibilty, as several GMs have allowed it, but it is difficult to juggle. The PCs will 'fight the power' in this AP, which tends to conflict rather heavily with Hellknight rules.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There is a prepainted tiefling warlock from Dungeons and Dragons miniatures that might work for you, especially the promo repaint. It has a mace in its hand and it's wearing a leather armor (which is brown in the promo version, grey in the original). Several US-based ebay-sellers have the miniature on offer. It is definitely the closest to your description that I could find. His off-hand is even in a great position to add a shield, if you wanted to do that.

Pathfinder's Faxon might also do the trick after some customization.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I created a roleplaying quest in which the PCs had to try and unify the temples' efforts to combat the plague. Depending on their success, a certain number of lives would be saved.

- The temple of Sarenare was already fighting the disease, but needed bigger housing and would be able to do more good if all the temples were working together.
- The temple of Abadar was only helping people who could pay for it. If the PCs succeeded in convincing them that everyone needed saving, they would be able to use their divine power to much more efficient effect.
- The temple of Pharasma wanted to help, but asked for a favor in return: the PCs had to rescue a priest. I used an old Dungeon adventure for this (Priestly Secrets from Dungeon # 71) in which a clumsy priest discovered old catacombs underneath the morgue and got lost in them. The ghasts and barrow wight in the catacombs dated back to the time of the Chelish settlers and their war against the Shoanti.
- Asmodeus only wanted to help if the PCs made a contract, stipulating that the church would get half of the gifts from the gift boxes and the PCs would speak positively of the church in public.
- Shelyn only has a shrine in Korvosa, so in my campaign it has just two low level priests. The main priestess, a young an beautiful redhead, needed no convincing to cooperate, as she is the girlfriend of one PC.

My PCs got all the churches to cooperate and found new housing for this coordinated effort, thus saving hundreds of lives. They also installed gift boxes to generate some funds for this new hospital.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Diafanus wrote:

AS far as house Arkona, don't forget they have human families who could pick up for the house after Glorio falls.

Are there any titles for the great houses? Dukes, Marquis, Earls? I know the Korvosan monarch doesn't have or grant titles, but these houses have titles from Cheliax, don't they?

All Chelish titles remain in the hands of (distant) relatives in Cheliax, such as the famous count Varian Jeggare. Thus the Korvosan nobles bear no titles, other than 'lord'.

As far as the Arkona's go, they are probably the only noble house that doesn't have a lot of members to draw from. In the AP as written, the Korvosa Arkona's have been replaced by you-know-what, and according to resources, they don't have family in Cheliax left.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ileoas buried the king in private, using the roits in the city as a convenient excuse to do so. Althoug she kept up appearances of the grieving widow, she did not respect Eodred after he died. You can read in Crown of Fangs what she did to his body (p. 21, A3 - the royal crypts).

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Diafanus wrote:

I am running Edge of Anarchy now, and it says that Rolf will seek out the PC's and find out who they are when he returns to find his lab destroyed. It is possible they will encounter him before Seven Days. Similar if he survives Seven Days.

In a different question, how does he get all his supplies into the Gray district? EoA says Rolf is out replacing equipment destroyed by a golem gone berserk in the Dead Warrens, and it will take him all day. He's not using zombies to help him (at least not in public view). Also there only appears to be one way into the Gray district (as seen on the map where roads lead to one tower at the north point just outside of Highbridge) and the Clerics of Pharasm guard closely against necormancers, so I would imagine it should be a guarded gate at night at least, and patrolled by clerics at night. So how is Rolf getting a cart load of supplies into the Dead Warrens?

Being the cunning man that he is, Rolth will probably know a secret way into the Gray District, some long-forgotten tunnel that only he knows about. He also knows some of the body carters and has a few of them on his payroll. They bring him the corpses of loners and beggars who died and have no one left to bury them. If he goes into the city, he can buy things and have one of these deliver the goods to him. Apart from that, he also knows dimension door.

In my campaign Rolth set himself up as an early recurring villain to the PCs, when he bought one of the PCs’ sister in the prelude adventure, in which the PCs were young teens in Lamm’s lambs. In the five years she spent under his tutelage, he thoroughly brainwashed her to become his obedient servant and bodyguard.

When the PCs started the AP, they immediately went looking for Rolth, so I had them hear a report that he had left the city by boat. He joined up with Lady Andaisin to help her create the plague, aiding her in her alchemical experiments and delivering a dozen young girls he bought from Lamm to experiment upon. In exchange Lady Andaisin helped him create his first real flesh golem.

The PCs first confronted Rolth in battle in the temple of Urgathoa, where they conquered him and imprisoned him (and the PC’s brainwashed sister). Rolth escaped and tried to take revenge during Escape to Old Korvosa. He abducted the young boys who were living with the PCs after being rescued from Lamm and used them to lure the PCs into a series of traps, culminating in a final battle atop the tower of Korvosa’s old city hall. The PC’s sister proved beyond saving and was killed, as was Rolth, who made an attempt to get away, but was caught anyway by our flame oracle, who grabbed the necromancer and burned him alive by sending blast upon blast of fire through his wiry body. If you want to learn about this in greater detail, you can read all about it in my journal on these boards.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you use the 'official' guidelines, you'll find yourself falling short when trying to create a city that offers enough to challenge your party from level 1 to the top tiers. Also keep in mind that Korvosa is more than a city, it also includes all the hinterlands and is basically a small kingdom. This might give you some reasons to enhance its citizens somewhat.

In my campaign, I have the following breakdown of soldiers and clergy. I actually used the guidelines to work out the churches, but I slightly went over them to keep things interesting. The military/police forces are just based on my 'hunches' and my take on the Gray Maidens was aimed at making them very powerful.

Korvosan Guard
- The Guard starts out with close to 700 members, which is a lot for a city of Korvosa’s size, but they also have to patrol the hinderlands. By the time the plague is raging, its number will have dropped to 400 (due to female guards transferring to the Gray Maidens, dead or heavily injured guards, sick, deserters and soldiers asking for a leave of absence to take care of their sick families). When the plague is over, the Guard holds about half of its original number and falls under the direct control of the Gray Maidens, who use them to do menial tasks.
- Field Marshal Cressida Kroft (ari1/ftr9, although I rebuilt her to be a cav10)
- Sergeant Grau Soldado (rog2/ftr4)
- Captain Artan Jalento (father of Amin Jalento)

Sable Company
- There are about 200 Sable Company ‘marines’ in the city of Korvosa, although they are more ‘air force’ than navy oriented, with about 50 hippogriph riders. The other 150 members of the company are either there in support of the hippogriph riders or aspiring pilots themselves.
- Commander Marcus Thalassinus Endrin (ari1/rgr13)
- Illrem Bromathan, second-in-command (rgr4/ftr5), becomes leader of the resistance
- Aaron Endrin, son and heir to Lord Marcus, in training (ari1/rgr3 at the start of the AP, ari1/rgr7 later on), becomes Illrem’s Bromathan’s right-hand man in the resistance
- Janros Rainwater, headmaster of the Endrin academy in Old Korvosa, where recruits are trained (rgr10)
- Neolandus Kalepopolis, seneschal of Castle Korvosa (rgr4/pal2)

Gray Maidens
- Start out with ten members, including Sabina Merrin (ftr14)
- In the first adventure they bolster their ranks with 50+ female Korvosan Guards (including a friend and former fellow lamb of the PCs, Amarice)
- By the end of the first adventure, Ileosa recruits more mercenaries from Cheliax (150+), so the total ranks swell to about 250
- A few dozen civilian girls also join the Maidens
- At the start of the fourth adventure, Ileosa introduces ‘military service’ for all girls aged between 16 and 21, she doesn’t actually train these girls, but bleeds them dry to create blood clones, (super Gray Maidens who still offer a decent challenge to high level parties). This brings the Gray Maiden number over 500, making them a terrible force to be reckoned with.

Bank of Abadar
- Archbanker Darb Tuttle (clr 13)
- Derrik, master of the vault (pal8)
- Erinaya (clr7)
- Q’ara (clr6)
- Lolia Perenne (clr5), magistrate of regulation
- Arnaut (pal6)
- Rekkart (pal4)
- Ishani Dhatri (clr5)
- Lady Zenobia Zenderholm (ari1/clr3)
- number of acolytes, including Lyna (clr1)
- Captain Dravos (ftr10), captain of the faithful of the coin (ftr4)
- Several ‘iron’ golems (with gold plating)

Temple of Asmodeus
- Archbishop Ornher Reebs (clr11 at the start of the campaign, clr 12 later on)
- Mallas, his bodyguard (ftr10)
- Tyresha (clr6), his ambitious second-in-command
- Nyrma (clr3), Tyresha’s lapdog
- number of acolytes (clr1)

Temple of Pharasma
- Keppria d’Bear (clr13, clr14 later on)
- Jasan (clr8) and his brother Aldrick (pal8)
- Arwina (clr4)
- Fryda (clr3)
- brother Cedrik (clr2), keeper of the books
- number of acolytes, including Connell (clr1)

Temple of Sarenrae
- Ezekiel Sollux (clr9)
- Sadira (clr5)
- Gibald (pal5)
- Lord Valdur Bromathan IV (ari2/clr2)
- Iris (clr4)
- Dimothar (clr3)
- Nathan (clr3)
- Acolytes, including Kyra (clr1) and Magdalin (clr1)

Shrine of Shelyn
- Larella Semyr (brd2/clr5)
- Fayne (clr2), Larella’s younger cousin

Pantheon of Many
- Several low-level priests (ranging from clr1 to clr3)

Temple of Aroden (in Old Korvosa)
- 3 old ‘priests’ who have never possessed any divine power (exp3)

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Feros wrote:
Harrigan hit the floor unconscious. Minerva brought Lillit into the room with her dimensional hop. Lillit cast magic missile and finally killed the traitorous pirate captain.

Gratz to your team.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The sun has just set over the horizon when Quint and his friends return to the Gray district to prepare for the raid on the temple of Asmodeus. They decide to keep up the ruse of being Asmodean agents from Cheliax, sent here to put an end to the excesses of Archbisshop Ornher Reebs. As they make their way south, they encounter a Gray Maiden patrol. The officer asks them what they are still doing out, so they pretend to have been celebrating the queen’s announcements. They lost track of time, but now they are on their way home. The soldiers buy their story and let them pass.

The party heads straight for the rebel base and informs the rebel leaders of what they have learned. They plan on invading the temple of Asmodeus tonight, but they have come here to get ready. Vencarlo offers to join the young men and Illrem offers them the use of his arsenal, from which they can get some helmets to cover their faces. Next the heroes pay a visit to Keppira d’Bear in the temple of Pharasma. The high priestess has a number of spells prepared that can help the companions in their quest against Reebs and his devils, but she does not dare enter the temple of Asmodeus with them out of fear of blowing her cover: although Pharasma supports the rebellion in secret, the church is trying to uphold a neutral position in public. She prepares a heroes’ feast and sends one of her men to the Marble Dome opera house, to get a number of Asmodean theater outfits. Cloaked in tabards, capes and holy symbols of the Lord of Hell, the party returns to the old courthouse, just outside of the star-shaped temple of Asmodeus. This is as far as Keppira d’Bear will go. She casts other buffs on the party: greater magic weapon on Balian’s holy greatsword, magic vestment, protection from evil and true seeing on Quint, air walk and align weapon on Puk and magic circle versus evil on Sjo.

In the dead of night the party makes for the temple doors again. The Gray Maidens at the door let the ‘inquisitor’ and his bodyguards pass, as they were ordered to do by Tyresha. The church itself is abandoned, but Tyresha has put up a torch next to the door to the basement, showing the ‘inquisitor’ the way down. As they descend the stairs, the heroes pick up a sacrificial chant. Peeping around the corner, Puk sees a horrible scene. A girl is being bled dry on a stone slab. Her blood flows into an enormous pool, in which several amorphous shapes with half-formed limbs and dripping tumorous faces mill about, mixing the sanguine fluid with their own blood. These hideous lemure devils are the lowliest of the low in the ranks of hell, but even their inferior life energy contains the taint of the infernal. Two Asmodean acolytes are actually performing the ritual under the supervision of four Erinyes devils. Two Gray Maidens complete the picture. Quint sweeps into the room, taking up his role as inquisitor once again. He forbids the ritual, as it goes against the rules of this city. He wants to single out Ornher Reebs, but he notices the archbishop of Asmodeus is not here.

The acolytes and even the Gray Maidens are taken aback by this sudden incursion, but the Erinyes are not fazed and open the fight. One of them casts fear on Balian, but the buffs on the ranger aid him in shaking off the spell. A second Erinyes throws unholy blight on the party, while a third wraps her entangling rope around Sjo. The fourth charges Quint from the left with her longsword. The bard ducks under the blade and mumbles the words of good hope to further strengthen his friends. He also starts a satire to throw his enemies off balance. Vencarlo, Puk and Spyder jump to Quint’s aid and engage the Erinyes, Balian wards off the Gray Maidens on the other side. One of them challenges him, but her swing misses him by an inch. Sjo tries to maintain his position in the center and boosts his companions with blessing of fervor. Through his shield other he also takes half of Balian’s damage. The Gray Maidens, obviously blood clones, still prove tough opponents, but they fall short against the well-prepared and thoroughly buffed ranger. They manage to give him some nasty cuts, but a fireball and a critical sword swing later, one of them explodes in a spray of blood. Without her ally, the second maiden is severely at a disadvantage.

In the meantime Quint has cast haste and feinted one of the Erinyes, giving his friends there the opportunity to cut her down. From across the pool two Erinyes are still hurting the party with arrows and unholy blights. One moment later a door to their right opens and the barbed devil joins the fray from what looks to be a prison block filled with young girls. Another powerful opponent is not exactly good news, but Quint is happy to see that there is still a fair number of ‘recruits’ alive, making this rescue mission even more valuable. The barbed devil hurts the party with an alternative spell, that does not target ‘good’ characters, but rather ‘chaotic’ ones: order’s wrath. Balian takes another hit before he can take out the second Gray Maiden and turns to face the barbed jailor. Sjo is hurting from his own wounds as well as from half of Balian’s, and gives himself some much required healing. Another unholy blight on Vencarlo and Puk in the left flank takes down the halfling and leaves the sword master barely on his feet. With his flashing rapier Vencarlo kills a second Erinyes and stumbles back to Sjo’ side.

The two Asmodean acolytes have not contributed anything to the fight so far, clearly being outmatched. One of them desperately prays to his god for aid as he stabs the sacrifice on the stone slab one more time, but the girl was already gone. The other one opens the left door, freeing the two wild otyughs who are there to dispose of the cadavers. One of the aberrations rewards the stupid priest by eating him alive, while the other monster turns on Sjo, who has is trying to patch up Vencarlo and Puk. The otuygh’s tentacle grabs hold of the healer, but now the monster opens itself up to sneak attacks by Puk and Vencarlo, cutting its life short.

On the other side of the room Balian withstand a hold person from the barbed devil and seriously hurts the infernal creature with three heavy blows. This being has probably lived a thousand lifetimes and knows when it is time to retreat, so it steps back and teleports away. The two remaining Erinyes, who are now facing Puk and Balian, see how their more powerful ally has chosen to flee the scene and do the same. Quint walks up to the one acolyte who is still left and shouts at him: “Where is Reebs?” Totally intimidated the priest stumbles back: “Below us, in the cellar!” Then Spyder jumps at him and ends his miserable life. Puk and Balian take care of the second otuygh, while Quint decides to close the door to the cell block. He desperately wants to tell the caged girls they are free, but cannot spare the time as he wants his buffs to remain intact to confront Reebs. The party heals up and prepares to descend the stairs to deliver justice to Reebs.

Level up: level 10

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you want to keep using Devargo, you'll definitely have to give him a level boost. I'd have him look for revenge by going after allies, friends or family instead of the PCs themselves. You already have one perfect opportunity with Trinia. Devargo has the PCs followed to Zellara's shop and ransacks the place when they are absent. He discovers Trinia and delivers her to the queen, gaining some kind of favor in the process (maybe she gives him an old naval ship to replace the one he lost).

By having Devargo go after people the PCs care about, you'll feed their hatred of the man, fueling his impact as a recurring villain.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You have several options on how to proceed:

- Kroft wants to do her duty. Since she knows the PCs have Trinia, she has them followed to find out where they are hiding the girl. When the PCs are absent, she has the girl extracted.
- Kroft plays along with the PCs, but Ileosa 'mind controls' her into telling the truth and has her own people locate and extract Trinia.
- Kroft plays along with the PCs and Ileosa remains in the dark. In this case the queen introduces a lookalike of Trinia, to have that girl be executed.
- Trinia has trouble laying low and gets herself arrested when she gets out of the hideout.
- I've left another suggestion in your Devargo post.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That is actually a really nice development. You definitely created an interesting recurring villain here. Some people even use Devargo to replace the emperor in part 3. Something you might want to consider.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Diafanus wrote:

We just ran the Queen's Scapegoat last night. My players figured out immediately that the Queen was using Trinia, and that she was not the real assassin. They've actually assumed from the introduction of the AP that the Queen was responsible for the King's death. So they captured her on the shingles, and took her to Zellara's house (they've been using Zellara's as a HQ while maintaining separate living places around the city). They reported to Kroft that they have her, but didn't turn her in. She's in a 'safe-house' they reported (they kept Zellara's residence a secret). Next, they decided they need to find out who the king's real assassins are (i.e. whom did the Queen hire?). They heard rumors of the Red Mantis, but that they do not do regicide.

Just make sure your players don't focus too much on who the 'assassin' was, because normally they won't find out until book 6 of the AP. If the PCs do not hand in Trinia, the adventure will tell you what to do, so I suppose you're going that way now, are you?

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

BTW, Hasslefree produces some of its figurines in various poses, so there are actually two Grimdalf minis, the one in the link above and this one here. The first one is currently out of stock on the Hasslefree site, though.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have you considered a Balin figurine? There is a nice Warhammer version of him, that looks like this. If you're looking for a pre-paint, you could go for the Heroclix version. I've never held this particular mini in my hand, but I have some other Heroclix dwarves and they stand quite tall for a dwarf. I guess you could even have them pass for a small human. His blade could be cut back to look like a wand or something, if you'd wish.

If you want a human, Heroclix also has this Harry Leland mini; he's the guy on the left. He has the fancy clothing you want and you could easily give his beard a repaint, but it isn't a huge beard ...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Curse of the Crimson Throne: The King is dead. Short live the Queen!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Vencarlo talks to the distraught Leroung family and convinces them to join the heroes to the rebel base. They place Lady Eliasia’s body on a hand drawn cart and make their way to the graveyard in the Gray District as a funeral procession. Puk scouts ahead and Vencarlo follows behind; both of them are on the look-out for possible sources of trouble, ready to interfere when necessary. Still, since the streets are a lot more crowded today than they have been in weeks, it is rather easy to get south undisturbed. The Leroung family take their dead mother to bishop Keppira d’Bear, to make arrangements for her burial. In the meantime Vencarlo leads the party to the rebel hideout, underneath a crypt in the graveyard. He tells them the church of Pharasma is in on the conspiracy, supporting the rebels as best they can without compromising their own safety.

The hideout is cramped with people who have fled prosecution, a fair number of young girls who were drafted for the Gray Maiden forces among them. Vencarlo introduces the party members to Illrem Bromathan, the leader of the resistance, a former Sable Company officer. Illrem is brother to Lord Valdur IV, who has been arrested for being allied to House Endrin and being a staunch supporter of the Sable Company. No one has heard of him since his arrest, and Illrem can only hope that Valdur’s position as a priest of Sarenrae has kept him alive so far. Valdur’s wife and son have been placed under house arrest and are still residing in the family home under Gray Maiden guard, much like the Leroung family was. Illrem’s second-in-command is a young man whom the companions already know: Aaron Endrin, the son of the former commander of the Sable Company, Marcus Endrin, who was killed at the hands of the Queen herself. Sjo tells the rebels about the blood clone Maidens, which gets Illrem quite worried. The girls who have been recruited have all been brought to the temple of Asmodeus. Quint remembers from their earlier meeting with Archbishop Ornher Reebs of Asmodeus that the high priest seemed to know more about the cloning process, when they took Dame Nesia to the temple. The party and their rebel friends now fear that the recruits are being sacrificed in the temple to create the blood clone army. If this is the case, they will have to put an end to this vile practice as soon as possible.

Balian questions this approach, though. He wonders if it is worth it exposing themselves, when most recruits are probably dead already. This practice must have been going on for weeks already. How many girls can be left to save? Quint argues that getting revenge for such an enormous evil in itself is worth it, even if there is no one left to save. Balian agrees, but asks for ‘carte blanche’ when they invade the temple to kill anyone he wants. He fears that capturing someone like Reebs is dangerous, only killing him will prevent him from escaping. Although Quint feels it is very likely that Reebs will lose his life in the raid, he finds it wise to try and question enemies first. If Reebs is one of Ileosa’s most powerful allies, he could be a valuable source of information. ‘Kill first, ask questions later’ does not work, so the bard suggests to ask the questions first. Killing the man afterwards is a very viable option!

Suddenly Sjo looks like he’s slipping into a mini-trance. He hears Thousand Bones’ voice in his head. The Shoanti shaman tells him preparations in the Cinderlands are still on schedule and asks if they should proceed according to the agreed-upon timing. Sjo answers that there is no trace of the ancient shaman’s grave yet and that things are chaotic, but the timing is still okay.

After Thousand Bones’ sending, the companions decide to stake out the temple of Asmodeus. They head to the other side of the city during the evening hours. There are six Gray Maidens in front of the temple doors. Their military stance and synchronous movements suggest they are blood clones. In the next half hour, no one enters the temple, but seven Gray Maidens come out and head into the city. Quint wants to try and get inside, preferably under cover. The Old Courthouse, where the companions spent one night of horror a couple of months ago, is the only safe place nearby he can think of to change into a disguise. Quint finds an old barrister’s robe in the building, cleans it up with prestidigitation and puts it on over his clothes. He also puts on make-up to change his appearance. Now he looks like a lawyer, a perfect disguise to gain entry to the temple of the god of contracts. Quint approaches the Gray Maidens at the gate and convinces them to let him through.

The temple itself looks empty inside. Quint sits down on one of the pews and starts praying. A few minutes later a woman exits from the side chapel and walks up to the late guest. She questions him about his identity. The bard claims to be a lawyer who has recently arrived from Cheliax. He is looking for clients and wouldn’t mind defending people who are not goody two-shoes … after all, everybody has the right to a good defense. You’d be amazed at what the law allows, even in bureaucratic places like Cheliax and Korvosa. The priestess smiles, but she strongly recommends that he read up on the many Korvosan laws and charters, for they are ‘many’ indeed! When Quint asks about the guards at the door, the priestess explains that things in the city have been quite hectic of late. The church of Asmodeus has openly joined the queen’s side and is possibly in danger from the queen’s enemies now, so they have been granted a number of royal guards.

When Quint enquires about the church’s leader, Ornher Reebs, he notices some malcontent in the woman’s eyes. She tell him the archbishop is not available at the moment. Quint presses the matter and tries to find out more about the high priest, especially from the priestess’s perspective. The woman, whose name is Tyresha, does admit that she might see herself following in Reeb’s footsteps one day, but for now the man has things tightly under control in the temple. Quint suggests that there are other ways to help fate along, but Tyresha shies away from the idea of killing her leader. “It is not killing I refer to,” Quint quickly clarifies, “but using the law.” He links back to one of Reebs’ earliest deeds here in the city: the sacrifice of thirteen virgins. True, Asmodeus does consent with the occasional sacrifice, but he also has the sense to follow the laws of the land first. Such a sacrifice is indeed possible in Cheliax, but not in Korvosa. The city’s reaction to his imprudent offer almost got Asmodeus kicked out when he had just managed to get his foot in the door. If it hadn’t been for Queen Domina’s interference and the resurrection of most of the girls at her expense, Asmodeus would have been ousted from here before his temple was completed.

“I just hope Reebs isn’t repeating the same stupidity before Korvosa –and especially its laws – are ready for it”, Quint goes on. Again he detects a hint of doubt in the priestess’s eyes. “In the eyes of the father church, such deeds would be considered ‘wrong’, not necessarily for being against church policy as such, but for discrediting the name of Asmodeus in a place where his worship is – let’s be honest – barely allowed. If this leads to the church being abolished from these lands, Asmodeus loses. And our Lord does not like to lose. Those responsible would have to be brought to church justice, which is actually the real reason why I am here.”

“You are an inquisitor, then?” Tyresha gasps.

“Indeed, I am”, Quint bluffs, seeing that the priestess totally buys his bluff.

“Well, suppose I could give you information about the archbishop, could you make sure it serves my purposes as well?” she asks.

“I do not have the power to name a new archbishop, but I would make sure that the father church knows about your loyalty. As you know, the Prince of contracts is a big fan of loyalty, I have no doubt it … you would be rewarded”, Quint tells her. “If the wrong-doings of the past were to repeat themselves, it would not bode well for Reebs, I can assure you.”

“I suggest we move to the chapel”, Tyresha whispers. “It has been protected from eaves-dropping, if we want to negotiate contracts with potential ‘clients’, you see. It will be safer to talk there.”

The priestess leads Quint to the side chapel to continue the conversation: “So, to make sure I understand you correctly, if I could confirm ill tidings about Reebs, you could help me rise to power in Korosa’s temple?”

“I will definitely use all my influence in the church to see that happen”, Quint confirms.

Tyresha smiles. “Well then, there is much I can tell you. The archbishop has been executing very extreme rituals in the basement, even for Asmodean standards. He’s been sacrificing numerous young girls, bleeding them completely dry to use their life’s blood to create an army of clones. He infuses these creatures further with devil blood and uses a special construct, called an ‘akaruzug’, to draw upon the talents of an accomplished ‘original’ and turn his creations into very skillful fighters.

He has four Erinyes and one hamatula - or barbed devil - aiding him in this process. These servants have not been provided by Reebs himself, though, but rather by the queen, who has secured the servitude of a fair number of devils through an infernal contract. Judging by the number and strength of these devils alone, this contract must be one of the most powerful ones I have ever heard about. And her majesty did not sign it here, either, but at the Acadamae. Our school of wizards is known for its intimate dealings with devils, as I’m sure you know.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have seen a copy of said contract?” Quint wonders.

“The queen would be stupid to show this precious document to anyone. She probably keeps her copy hidden away in the castle, in a place no one can get to. The other copy is, obviously, still in the hands of the contract devil who made the agreement. I can’t even guess who he is, though someone in the Acadamae must know.”

“Naturally”, Quint nods.

“We all know Asmodeus works in mysterious ways. His contract dealers might indeed sign papers that allow an individual to control devils and command them to act in whichever way he or she desires, even if this would not be Asmodeus’s chosen path. On the other hand, in such cases Asmodeus would support efforts to see the contract fail its owner. After all, isn’t that why he likes to include loopholes in his contracts? Fooling mortals into thinking they gain great power, only to have the contract bite them in the ass and reap their souls prematurely?”

“You understand our Lord’s teachings well. You would make a great successor for Reebs, indeed”, Quint acknowledges. “You will understand that I did not come to this city alone. I have a number of bodyguards waiting outside. I’m afraid I will have to return to bring Reebs’s wrong-doing to justice. Is there any way you can facilitate our entry?”

“Of course there is, master inquisitor. I will leave the front doors unlocked and I will tell the guards at the door to let you through. You will find Ornher Reebs in the basement. I suspect he will be there all night”

“Excellent, you should make sure you are nowhere about when we come in. It would be best if your role in this mess remains unnoticed. It is enough that I know of your loyalty so I can relay it to our leaders in Cheliax when the time is right”, Quint finishes.

Confident she has struck a great deal, Tyresha shows the disguised bard out and informs the guards at the door that they should let the inquisitor in whenever he wants. After that Quint disappears into the night and reunites with his friends afew moments later. He feels quite happy to prove Balian wrong: words often are more powerful than the blade! Now at least the companions can prepare for the challenges ahead.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice linguistic detail, in my language (Dutch) Hartdegen = hart (heart) + degen (rapier). I'm sure that's no coincidence.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

25 Arodus 4708

The companions spend the night with the distraught Leroung family in the old fishery. The next morning they deliberate with the nobles on how to proceed. It is clear that the government will hunt down the Leroungs, so they’ll need a place to hide. Getting them out of the city to a safe haven like Magnimar would take too much precious time, so while that option would probably be best, it is not viable at the moment. Quint suggests taking them to Glorio Arkona, but Christine Leroung does not trust the man in the least and blocks off that idea. The best alternative seems to be the rebellion. If they can locate the rebel hideout, the Leroungs could take shelter there. Christine Leroung is still fuming at the young heroes for getting her mother killed and walks out of the meeting. Only Sirtane Leroung, the late lady Eliasia’s sister, retains enough clarity to talk to the party. Quint leaves the books they took from the library with her and makes for the city to try and find out where the rebels are hiding. He takes Balian with him for added security. Sjo remains in the fishery to guard the Leroung family and Puk returns to the library to see if their nightly exploits have been discovered yet. It turns out they have: numerous Gray Maidens are walking in and out of the building, obviously upset by the murder of so many of their sisters. The atmosphere crackles with nervous energy and anger.

Quint and Balian scout the harbor, only to come across a town crier, who announces a big parade to be held in the streets - including the palace square - around noon. He invites all citizens to attend. This parade will apparently take off in the harbor, where an enormous festive wagon is being prepared. The front of this float holds a podium and the back sports an impressive loading area with some kind of dragon-headed crane. Our friends notice the heavy-bodied new seneschal of Korvosa, the Acadamae master of Transmutation, Togomor, floating above the deck of a ship. He uses his magic to lift a humongous box out of the hold and attaches it to the dragon crane on the wagon. It is unclear what the box contains exactly, but it most certainly holds some kind of ferocious animal that growls and struggles inside the iron walls. Next a half-orc with a vicious whip leads out six large white-furred and four-armed gorillas and harnesses them up one by one to pull the vehicle. By noon a group of entertainers arrives, most of whom Quint knows as rather mediocre artists. They will form the music band that will lead the march through the city. Next several warrior-like types get off the boat: a fierce-looking ettin and ogre, a broad-shouldered human carrying two blades at his belt who moves with a grace that belies his muscular build. There are also a tall and proud Shoanti barbarian, two bugbears in armor who look like twins and an orc with a heavy halberd. The two-headed giant takes up position behind the box, the ogre follows the band and precedes the girallon train. The other humanoids climb on the podium or crane, ready to wave at the audience as they pass.

When the parade finally gets moving, a fair number of people have come out of their houses to watch. Young boys runs about handing out flyers, announcing the reopening of the old Kendall Arena. Queen Ileosa offers her subjects the wonderful opportunity to see the greatest gladiators in Golarion fight monstrous beasts and even each other to the death. Chief among these champions of the arena is the mighty Maxor from Cheliax, the handsome human with the two blades.

Balian and Quint follow the parade all the way to the palace. Along the way they hook up with Puk, who has come down to see the show as well. A mild feeling of wonder and enthusiasm has taken hold of the crowd, which increases when the parade reaches the palace, where the troupe halts to greet the queen. Ileosa is standing on the palace terrace overlooking the spectacle. The band burst out in a song that turns out to be the new Korvosan hymn, honoring the city and its queen. Quint takes mental notes on the composition, so he can replay it if a future occasion calls for it. When the anthem is over, the crowd cheers wildly. Ileosa’s charm offensive seems to be working, though her display of power still has to reach its climax. From behind the castle loud screeches ring out as one, then two and finally three mighty dragons rise up. The crowd falls silent when it sees the awe-inspiring red, blue and black winged serpents land next to the queen. Then the buzz takes up again, leading to an overwhelming applause and cries of ‘the mother of dragons’.

Ileosa takes in the reverence for a few moments, waves once more and then takes her leave, joined by the three scaly cbehemoths. Her majesty definitely has a flare for the dramatic, giving the people just enough to be dumb-struck before disappearing. The parade gets moving again, continuing down Ramp Boulevard to Kendall Plaza. Puk follows to see how the wagon sinks into the catacombs below the arena. Meanwhile Quint and Balian head to the market to grab a bite and feel the pulse of the city after Ileosa’s latest stunt. Quint fires up a discussion about the rebellion and quickly finds out that the citizens stand divided. Some long for a return to law and order, and they are convinced Ileosa can provide this. Others claim that this so-called order comes at too high a price: daughters are being torn from their families and taxes bleed everyone dry. Balian immediately agrees, taking part in the conversation like never before. The ranger is such a heartfelt tax-hater that he cannot keep quiet. Quint suspects some people of sympathy for the rebellion, but he does not get the feeling there are actual rebels among them. The two companions spend the rest of the afternoon gathering more information. While it becomes clear that the rebels must indeed have a secret hideout somewhere, no one seems to know where: rumors seem to point to every corner of the city.

Late in the afternoon the two friends return to the fishery. Across from the building is a small bakery: a couple women walk out just as the heroes arrive. From a nearby ally a group of thugs appears and assaults the unwary customers. They pull the fresh loaves from the women’s hands and grab at their skirts. “This is bread for the rebellion!” they shout. “Or don’t you support the freedom fighters? Fans of that wh*re on the throne, are you? What do you say, guys, shall we teach these little sluts a lesson?”

Before Quint and Balian can react, a shadow appears on the roof above the scene. His cape flutters in the wind. He’s wearing Blackjack’s outfit! “Well, well, buffoons! How about leaving these good citizens alone? Is this the great cause you are fighting for? Robbing and harassing people in the streets? Why don’t you try and take on someone your own size?” At that the caped man leaps down to the street, landing lightly on his feet. He whips out his rapier and swirls through the thugs with gusto. Quint studies the savior’s movements and immediately determines it is not Vencarlo. Although the rapier-wielding hero moves with incredible grace and speed, his style definitely differs from Vencarlo’s. Not only that, Quint seriously doubt the man is a human altogether. Despite his obvious prevalence in battle, the caped savior does not really hurt any of the thugs. He knocks the daggers from their hands and hits them with the pommel of his sword or beats and kicks them with his free hand and feet. Before long the thugs slinks back into the ally, leaving ‘Blackjack’ laughing in the street. Balian can’t help but feel that this combat was completely staged. He runs into the ally after the fleeing bandits. Puk, who heard the fight from the old fishery, joins him. From around the corner they hear the hooligans talking amongst each other. “Damn, that Blackjack dude hits harder every time, that’s not what we signed on for.”

In the main street Quint walks up to the ‘caped crusader’, who is just helping the robbed women to their feet and hands them some money to replace their lost bread: “Blackjack, what an honor to finally meet you! I have always been a fan!” Quint greets.

“Thanks, I do what I can to restore order and squash these rabble-rousers in the bud!” Blackjack replies. His accent betrays that he is not native to Korvosa.

“You did very well indeed,” Quint continues, “but didn’t you fight against her majesty until recently? I remember you saving that girl from being executed by Ileosa just a few months ago!”

“A man is allowed to change his mind when he realizes he was wrong”, Blackjack states. “I’d give you some coin as well, my friend, but you don’t look like you need it, not like these good people.” At that Blackjack whips out a piece of rope to a support beam along the edge of the roof and climbs up the wall of the bakery. “I’ve got more citizens to save from these stupid rebels!” he cheers as he disappears from view.

In the ally Balian and Puk are still eavesdropping on the thugs – who were clearly pretending to be rebels - when suddenly, they hear someone whistle ever so gently behind them. Sitting in the shadows of a chimney on one of the lower houses in the street is a figure that beckons them closer. Balian activates his boots of flying and Puk quickly scales to wall with his slippers of spider climbing. It is Vencarlo Orisini, the former fighter to breathe life into the Blackjack persona: “Is there anywhere we can talk in private?” he asks.

The company retreats to the old fishery and expresses its joy at seeing Vencarlo again. The sword master is equally pleased at seeing his friends safe. He confirms that a false Blackjack is running loose in the city. He’s been trying to follow the imposter, but the man seems to appear and disappear out of thin air. He always uses the same thugs to assault innocent citizens in an attempt to tarnish the rebels’ reputation and promote the queen’s order. Quint gives Vencarlo a full run-down of their latest adventures and discoveries, explaining how Ileosa’s crown is made from an ancient evil artifact. To fight her, the companions need the know-how and help of a long-forgotten Shoanti sun shaman, or at least, they need to find his bones, preferable before the Shoanti army arrives from the Cinderlands. Quint also tells Vencarlo that the party infiltrated the Leroung library, hoping to find books on old Shoanti burial sites. Things did not go as planned, however, and the heroes were forced to fight some Gray Maidens, most of whom turned out to be very accomplished blood clones.

If the ‘good guys’ want to succeed at stopping Ileosa, they’ll have the best chance of success when they simply cut off the serpent’s head, but seeing how well the queen has surrounded herself with powerful allies, and knowing how much she’s strengthened her mental powers as well, won’t make that an easy task. Vencarlo proposes to go to the rebels’ secret base first. Illrem Bromathan, brother to the imprisoned Lord Valdur IV and normally next in line to become the Sable Company’s commander, leads the underground resistance. He will be happy to see mighty allies like the companions join the good cause.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The new Gray Maidens in the shrine to Irori do not only prove highly resistant to Quint’s mind-affecting tricks, they also possess superior fighting skills. One of them challenges Balian and hits him extra hard, while her colleague makes her sword burn with black flames which bite at the ranger. Moreover, the two women fight in perfect unison, putting up a shield wall when the get attacked. Balian also finds that his special sense to fight ‘humans’ does not kick in when he faces these guards; his new sword’s holy damage on the other hand flares up when his swings connect. With Spyder blocking off the third of these special maidens, Sjo and Quint are left with the two guards they encountered initially. These girls are definitely of a different kind than the three new Maidens, more within the limits of what you’d expect a Gray Maiden to be: human soldiers who possess some skill at battle, but who are by no means superwomen. This gives our friends the chance to cast some spells first: Sjo mumbles a prayer, while Quint enhances the party with haste and starts up a satire performance to debuff the enemy. Puk tumbles behind one of the super maidens, but sees his first stab deflected by her neighbor’s shield. When he manages to get a cut in, he also finds that his tiny blades are partially resisted. Balian exchanges more blows with the supermaidens and is happy to learn that Sjo’s magic of shield other gives him much more staying power. He delivers a tremendous critical blow to the maiden on his left, just as Puk’s many vicious slices take down the woman on his right. When the halfling delivers the final blow, the creature inside the elegant full plate splashes out in one huge burst of blood. The various pieces of her armor drop on the floor, soaked in red fluid … but no body remains.

This brings back memories. The party recalls Dame Nesia, the naked girl they found in the streets, who had lost any and all recollection of who she was or where she came from. As it turned out, the girl was some kind of blood simulacrum or blood clone. Balian suspects that these women are the same, albeit of a perfected nature. Sjo, who is badly hurt from taking half of Balian’s damage, heals himself as Quint tries out his new rapier’s powers on one of the ordinary maidens. The weapon’s inspire ability allows him to use his bardic performance to enhance his swings with his charisma rather than his strength, making the bard a more formidable fighter in melee. Just when the companions seem to be getting the upper hand, the door ahead swings open and three more maidens join the fray, two of which fight like twins again. The third acts as somewhat of a tactician: she can guide her fellow soldiers in battle. Sjo recognizes a good opportunity when he sees one: the new and old opponents are all on the far side of the room, with only Puk in their midst. A perfect chance for a fireball! The explosion tears through the enemy, while the little halfling rogue manages to evade all the flames, laughing as another clone bursts out in a splash of blood. His joy is quickly suppressed, however, when a red skinned devil appears behind the fresh forces, in the next hall, with Lady Eliasia Leroung in his clutches. “There they are, milady, your rebel friend! I knew they would show up! I knew it”, the creature cackles, just before slicing his knife across Lady Leroung’s throat. Her dead body drops to the floor. Quint is furious and shouts out threats to the murderer: “You filthy leprechaun, you’re gonna wish you’d never left Hell!”

In the meantime Puk and Balian take out another blood clone, Sjo continues healing and Quint cuts down one of the ‘normal’ Maidens. The devil zaps behind Sjo, but cannot do much damage before falling to Quint’s wild attacks. The bard even makes sure the creature is truly defeated, by stabbing the corpse through the neck once more. Balian and Puk’s efficiency takes care of the rest: two more blood clones and two human Gray Maidens bite the dust. One of these real maidens is still bleeding and Sjo makes sure she survives by stabilizing her. The victory does not grant joy, however, since Lady Eliasia lies truly dead and her children now run down the stairs to mourn her loss. Christina Leroung, her eldest daughter, is enraged at the companions. She lashes out at Quint for invading her home and getting her mother killed. When Balian mutters something about a possible resurrection she starts hitting him. This was an assassin devil, its victims cannot be brought back! She is also desperate about her family’s future. Where should they go now? They will certainly be punished for this! The noblewoman keeps slapping Balian frantically, until he grabs her in a big bear hug to calm her down. Her sisters, Siri and Aisha (the opera star) and her aunt Sirtane (the alchemy professor) kneel down by Eliasia’s body. Aisha and Siri are crying with great despair over their dead mother, while Sirtane does her best to whisper words of comfort. Cyril Fordyce, Eliasia’s husband, the history professor and editor of the Herald, is staring with blind apathy.

Quint whisper some apologies, but Sirtane take shim to the next room to talk to him, as she is the only one who is in control of her emotions at the moment. Quint explains why they were here, they need to locate an ancient Shoanti grave somewhere under Korvosa. The tomb holds the corpse of a shaman who fought the evil that has now taken hold of Queen Ileosa. If they want to face her, they will need the shaman’s aid. They were hoping to find clues in the library as to where the tomb might be situated. Sirtane understands and takes Quint to the ‘history’ room in the library, selecting a good number of books that the bard tucks away in his bag of holding. She also reveals that the library section on the ‘planes’ has been overrun by devils, imps, who are destroying a lot of the books. Still the companions deem it unwise to attack the critters; if one escapes it could warn the enemy of the party’s involvement and bring down hell on them, both in a figurative and literal sense. Quint and Balian also take a peek in the printing room, where Ileosa’s new seneschal Togomor has already been preparing the next issue of the Korvosan Herald, an edition that lauds the queen’s efforts to save the city and serves as royal propaganda.

The companions decide to hide the Leroung family in the abandoned fishery that used to be to Gaedran Lamm’s hideout. It is nearby and safe. They travel there under the cloak of invisibility, taking the corpse of Lady Eliasia with them. Afterwards they return to the Leroung residence to interrogate the surviving Gray Maiden. She seems to be one of the soldiers who came from Cheliax a few months ago. She sees no evil in working with devils, as these creatures are summoned to serve, not to command. When Quint gets mad at her for being blind to her malevolent acts, she returns the argument by calling him a rebel who refuses to accept the rightful ruler and as such being the cause of all this unpleasantness. Quint’s anger gets the best of him: he draws his rapier and runs the woman through. His hope for finding redeemable Gray Maidens diminishes again, although he realizes that there must still be several women in their numbers who started out as good, normal Korvosans and who might only be misguided. Still, the uniforms and masks make it almost impossible to distinguish between the soldiers. How will he be able to tell who can still be saved and who deserves to die?

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

I dunno, there are still a bunch in this set.

I won't stop until I've done all of them, or until someone makes me stop. :)

Go on, go on. Keep it coming. I'm happy about the two in this reveal.

I'm also hoping for a handmaiden devil, although there is no real great art to base a mini on, I'm afraid. A contract devil would be great as well. The other devils at least have (had) a version in other miniature lines, or can be bought in a Reaper version, which makes them slightly less urgent in my book.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The companions consider what to do. Should they dive into the library and look for more information on Shoanti graves? Is there a way they can bring Zellara back? Should they try and contact the resistance? Are the many young girls who are being recruited for the Maidens in need of rescue? And what should they use for an excuse if they need a good cover story? Mixing truth with fiction, they decide upon a tale that they have to return the ancient bones of a mythic shaman to the Shoanti to keep them from invading Korvosa with a huge army.

Maybe it is best to start with something easy first: suspecting that Vencarlo is hiding in Old Korvosa, the party heads for the island in the north of the city. When they cross Jeggare Circle, they happen upon the construction of a gigantic statue of the queen from black stones. The laborers seem little motivated, as do the members of the Korvosan Guard who have been tasked to watch over the site. The stone reaches twenty feet already, and it looks like it only goes up to Ileosa’s knees so far.

The only bridge over the Narrows of Saint Alika has a guard detail of Gray Maidens and all who want to cross are given a thorough inspection. The party goes west, wanting to get over the water at the westernmost point of the Narrows with the Dimension Door from Puk’s cloak. When they get there, they find out where the big black stones for Ileosa’s statue come from: the Great Tower is being torn down. A magic jump brings the companions to the other side of the water, to some of the poorest quarters of Old Korvosa. The upside of this poverty-stricken neighborhood is that it is almost free of Gray Maidens, making it easy for the party to get to House Arkona.

Glorio Arkona welcomes the heroes with open arms, once again offering to aid them in their quest to fight the evil in Castle Korvosa and inviting them to stay in his house, since their villa has been compromised. Sjo thanks him for his kindness, but says they have their own place to lay low. Lord Arkona denies being involved with the resistance, claiming the rebels are hiding somewhere in the south of the city. He hasn’t seen Vencarlo since he left the city and didn’t even know the fencing master had returned. When Quint tells him about the Red Mantis attacks, Glorio is worried. The assassins are not known for giving up, once the mantis are on your tail, they do not relent. The heroes confront Glorio with their own dilemma: they need to recover the bones of an old Shoanti shaman who was buried somewhere in the city long ago. What would be the best way to find his grave: magic or research in the library? Lord Arkona is not sure, but reckons that magic would definitely be easier. Still, Quint cannot think of an effective spell that would lead him to his goal in due time.

Finally the companions decide to check out the library. Quint tries to come up with a plan to infiltrate the occupied building, perhaps in the guise of some official who is on a royal mission. That might suffice to fool the Gray Maidens. The best course of action would be to stake out the place first. When darkness has fallen, Lord Arkona has the party taken back to the mainland in a small boat, but not after hosting an exotic dinner party and extending a helping hand once more for the future. By the light of the moon the party walks past the Acadamae; nothing can be seen beyond its great walls, except for the imps who flutter in the air above.

House Leroung is situated in the heart of Korvosa, on the university grounds. The splendid manor in gothic style houses the city’s biggest library on one side, and the family’s living quarters on the other. Since the nobles are under house arrest, they might have ample time to do research for the companions, so Balian wonders if they would be able to contact one of them and enlist their aid, like Aisha, the star from The Passion of Saint Alika, or professor Sirtane, the alchemist who cured the plague.

Puk circles the building, picking up noise and laughter from the corner room. Balian activates his flying boots and peeks inside, but the room is unlit, so the ranger cannot see a thing. Sjo remembers that Sirtane Leroung’s laboratory led out into a small patio area. This might be the perfect way inside. Balian flies everyone over and Puk tries to pick the lock, but finds it too hard to open. Quint pulls out the Key-Lock Killer’s bell and manages to get the way in unlocked. The heroes sneak inside and reach the central library, where books on history are stored. Quint wonders whether they should look through the books themselves rather than bother the family, but the party’s conversation alerts the two Gray Maidens who are guarding the public entrance. Apparently our friends forgot that you always have to keep quiet in the library. The female soldiers are not pleased at finding the nightly intruders, but Quint uses his bardic power of persuasion to convince them that he and his friends are on an important mission. They need to talk to one of the Leroungs urgently. His deception works and the guards lead the party to the other side of the building, where the Leroungs live. Unfortunately there are even more Gray Maidens in this part of the house, who do not succumb to Quint's mind games. They draw steel, threatening to drown the room, a private shrine to Irori, in blood.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Guide to Korvosa is a must-have. It will allow you to make the city come to life.

All the other books mentioned in this thread are interesting as well. If you want to do more with the Hellknights, I'd also recommend Castles of the Inner Sea, which contains a write-up of Citadel Vraid.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Using a newly acquired teleport scroll the companions magically travel to the gates of Janderhoff, the dwarven city. The guards recognize them and show them in, leading them to a beautiful manor house, where Neolandus Kalepopolis is now staying. The former seneschal is overjoyed to see the heroes again and offers them the hospitality of his dinner table. He is interested in every little detail of what has happened to them since they last met. Quint spins an enthralling tale, leaving out nothing. Kalepopolis delights at the party’s success, but the impending war with the Cinderland Shoanti causes him distress.

Kalepopolis has news as well. Although the Gray Maidens in Korvosa have been thorough in their efforts to root out the Sable Company, twenty-eight of the marines have escaped persecution and have been granted sanctuary in the city of Janderhoff. Some of them are even staying in the very manor where the young friends are now. The situation in Korvosa has greatly deteriorated over the last couple of weeks. The queen has tightened her iron grip on the city. Her maidens are ever-present and enforce the law without any measure of leniency. Anyone who even dares to utter a word of doubt concerning the new government is suspected of rebellion and immediately arrested. Most arrests quickly end in execution, often without a proper trial. Cadavers of these so-called traitors hang all over the city as warning signs. The common man is scared out of his wits and hardly comes out of his house, fearing the cruelty of the Gray Maidens. The queen’s guard terrorizes everyone without discrimination, whether they be low-born or of noble blood. Apart from the merciless manhunt for surviving Sable Company marines, the Maidens invade every house to demand taxes, look for young girls to bolster their own ranks and – a consequence of the Janderhoff dwarves’ decision to cease trade with Korvosa – to confiscate any and all objects made of iron, to have them reforged into ever more gray maiden suits of armor. The churches of Asmodeus and Abadar have openly proclaimed their support for the queen, while the temples of Sarenrae and Pharasma remain neutral. Vencarlo Orisini has returned to the city and stays in contact with Kalepopolis via carrier pigeons, sending him short messages in code. These updates are sparse and concise. Apparently Vencarlo has joined some kind of rebellion movement, but cannot provide details out of fear that his notes might fall into the wrong hands.

24 Arodus 4708

The next morning the companions are summoned to the palace of clan lord Ragnar Ironfist. Quint explains that an ancient evil has taken hold of queen Ileosa, and that he and his friends will try to fight this malevolence before the Shoanti come down from the Storval Heights to invade the Korvosan lowlands. He also reveals that his party has been to the great city of Koldukar, or rather Urgir as it is known now. Ironfist is excited to hear about the formidable dwarven sky citadel, but cannot hide his sadness at learning about the place’s decline. The dwarven lord offers his guests the chance to stock up once more in the temple of Torag, leaving them in the capable hands of its high priest, Bardin Bronzebeard. The companions buy some scrolls of heal and breath of life, and invest in some extra wands of cure light wounds. This might be their last chance in a while to do so. Their biggest buy, however, is an adamantine holy greatsword for Balian.

Another teleport scroll takes the companions straight to Zellara’s little parlor in Korvosa. Sjo immediately pulls out the Varisian fortune-teller’s Harrow cards and summons her spirit. Zellara claims that it is getting ever harder for her to manifest in the city. It is as if a dark veil hangs over the city, clouding and smothering her mind. She offers to read the cards again for the companions before starting her search for the remains of sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame. This time the reading is centered around the star cards. During the choosing, Balian’s hand falls upon the Winged Serpent, who cautions him to use more tact. The queen-mother tells Puk to aid the helpless and hopeless, while the carnival card warns Quint to plan ahead. The owl ushers Sjo to combat the unnatural state of things that has taken hold of the city.

The reading tells Balian to be careful of sinister and dark pacts that he will come across. Puk is told that he has been making the right decisions so far, though he is warned not to doubt too much and just act. The empty throne in Sjo’s cards is a hint that fighting the ‘powers that be’ should not lead to a vacuum at the top, but the courtesan clearly tells him that masks will have to fall. Finally Quint is shown that what once seemed beautiful, might be rotten at its core. The peacock teaches him that he should do well to stand aside when this thing of apparent beauty passes by, lest he be petrified by it.

After the Harrow reading, Zellara opens her mind to try and find a mental trace of the sun shaman. She spreads her arms and closes her eyes to expand her mind. Although spirits do not breath, she starts gasping and shaking uncontrollably. When she opens her eyes again, they have turned white. “Oh, no!” she heaves, “they have found me!” The next moment the Varisian spirit is sucked into the deck of cards, which falls lifeless on the floor. Using detect magic Sjo notices that the cards do not radiate magic anymore. When he picks up the deck, he doesn’t even feel a trace of the Varisian spirit. It seems as if she has disappeared completely. This turn of events is a huge set-back for the party, since Zellara was to be their guide to Coja Eyes-Aflame. How will they find his remains now?

Sjo is eager to see how his fiancé is doing and heads to the shrine of Shelyn. Walking up to Five Corners in North Point the party gets to experience the ominous atmosphere of Korvosa’s streets for themselves. Very few people are out and about, and those who are, hurry along with their heads hanging low. A patrol of Gray Maidens is making ‘house calls’ forcing their ways into people’s homes to collect taxes and confiscate iron goods. Since the queen’s guards have drafted so many new members lately, one would expect at least some of these female soldiers to look inexperienced, but Balian feels they all seem more than comfortable in their full plate armor. Perhaps the new recruits are still in training somewhere, leaving their more seasoned colleagues to patrol the city.

Larella is very happy to see her future husband alive. She can update him and his friends on the current situation in Korvosa. Fortunately the plague has been cured, even in Old Korvosa. The quarantine of the island has been lifted as a result, but that does not mean that things are going well in Korvosa’s oldest district. Big parts of Endrin Island have always housed some of the city’s poorest inhabitants, and the recent plague and quarantine have worsened their plight considerably. Moreover, current circumstances of fear and oppression offer little hope of improvement.

Balian wonders about the state of the noble families. Larella says that the Arkona’s have been even more withdrawn from society lately than the normally are. After commander Marcus Endrin’s failed attempt on the queen’s life, his family has been outlawed. His wife was executed. Larella has no idea what became of his three children. House Bromathan has paid dearly for its support to Endrin and the Sable Company. Lord Valdur IV rots away in the city’s dungeons, while his wife Lady Merisse and son Valdur V have been placed under house arrest. His daughters were both drafted for the queen’s forces. Like all recruits they have not been heard of since. Jeggare is still in place, but being one of the richest families in the city, they’ve had to pay huge amounts of taxes to the treasury. Members of House Leroung have also lost the queen’s favor. They showed quite a lot of criticism for the new government in the latest issue of the Korvosa Herald and have been placed under house arrest as well. Their university has been closed until further notice. Sjo wonders if they would still be able to consult the school’s extensive library, hoping he might come across more information that might lead to the discovery of the Sun Shaman’s grave.

House Zenderholm is still around, but Larella suspects that the extremely lawful nature of its head, Hanging Judge Zenobia Zenderholm, will not mesh well with the queen’s policy of playing judge and jury at the same time. House Ornelos is the only family openly supporting queen Ileosa. As a result none of the Ornelos girls have been forced to join the Gray Maiden army.

Explaining to the priestess of Shelyn how an ancient evil from the bowels of the mastaba under Castle Korvosa has taken control of the queen, it suddenly dawns on Quint that the ‘Teeth of Midnight’ might also have been the mysterious ‘muse’ that inspired several Korvosan artists in the past. These open, creative minds would probably have been quite susceptible to the dragon’s feeble influence, which would explain why the Korvosan art scene has always been so morbidly and sinisterly inspired. When queen Ileosa discovered the evil artefact, it must have shifted focus to her completely, suddenly leaving the artists without a muse. Quint fears that Ileosa might be beyond saving: if the ‘abandoned’ artists already felt so desperate that they took their own lives, how could the queen ever survive a hundredfold stronger hold on her mind being broken? This new insight does not bode well for Ileosa, leaving her virtually no chance of a future.

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DropBearHunter wrote:

is that clear plastic for the green sword?

looks very versitile as any barbarian type

Paint his sword metalic and you can have him double up as a Shoanti.

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I trust you've seen this thread as well.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A messenger arrives at the campfire, saying that the council has its answer. The party is guided back to the war-yurt, which is now almost empty, except for the leaders of the Quahs and Thousand Bones, who are still seated by the bonfire. Valkur has good news; the companions have convinced the council of their good intentions and are tshamek no more, they are now nalharest, brothers of the Shoanti who will be treated as friends for as long as they do not choose to oppose the tribes. The great chief goes on that he cannot reveal the Sklar-Quah’s biggest secret to the party, because even he does not know what it is. Only the mightiest shamans of his tribe share in this privilege. However, with all that is going on in Korvosa, the Shoanti have agreed to make an exception for the heroes and inform them. At that the Quahjothka points at the bonfire in the center of the war-yurt. “If you want to learn what is truly plaguing your city, you will have to step into the fire”, he states. Sjo is the first to step up. Staring in the flames he picks up the outlines of a humanoid shape, that beckons him closer. The healer does not hesitate and walks into the blazing fire, followed by his friends. The heat burns them hard, but then the pain resides and they feel only warmth.

The burning figure appears before them: “My name is Arunan Lives-Of-Fire, Sun shaman of the Sklar-Quah. Your tales of the jothka-woman in the stone yurt-camp Korvosa confirm our suspicions that she has unearthed the ancient ‘evil’ from Mashka-saht-puyuhoke, the great mastaba, an evil that was interred there by my predecessors many generations ago. The knowledge of what lies hidden in the mastaba has been handed down over the ages, from one Sun shaman to the other. Now I will reveal the secret to ‘others’ for the first time in history, for the need is great and you offer one of the best chances to stop the threat.

Hundreds of years ago, when my people still walked the lush meadows of the lowlands and lived on the shores of the great water, Sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame left his tribe to fight at the side of a legendary hero from the distant lands of Lastwall against a formidable ruler who was known for his unparalleled cruelty and thirst for conquest. When armies failed to halt his advance, the hero from Lastwall assembled a small and secret cabal of warriors, magic-users and mystics, Coja Eyes-Aflame among them. Using power and stealth the heroes infiltrated the tyrant’s stronghold. The atrocities they found there tested them to their limits, and when they reached the enemy’s throne room, a terrific battle took place. It was during this battle that they stripped away the tyrant’s human disguise, revealing a powerful blue dragon who had been empowered by the blessings of his dark god. Assuming his true form, the monster attacked the cabal, and a long and bloody battle ensued. His scales deflected most of their attacks and his claws and lightning breath made short work of many of their best and bravest warriors. In the end it was the hero from Lastwall himself who was able to slip through the dragon’s guard and deliver the fatal blow.

Yet even in death, the tyrant’s body shuddered and grasped. Fire and acid destroyed much of the dragon’s corpse, yet seven fragments proved impossible to destroy. These grisly relics were so suffused with evil and malignancy that they refused to burn or melt – and even as the heroes watched, the bones twitched and writhed as they tried to return to life. The cabal’s leader ordered his surviving brothers and sisters to each take one of these seven relics out into the world and go into hiding. None would know where the other members went, least of all their leader, who would remain in the tyrant’s stronghold to guard it against ever being used for evil again.

And so it is that my predecessor returned to his people, carrying the burden of the Fangs of Midnight, the blue dragon’s teeth. Coja was a changed man, his hands shook and his eyes bore an ever-terrified gaze. At night he often screamed out in horror. He shared his story with his fellow shamans and together they opted to hide the Fangs in the ancient Thassilonian monument on the shore of his people’s ancestral lands. They spent the rest of their lives guarding the monument, seeking to ensure that nothing dared enter the hidden chambers within, and when they died, they passed the task down to their successors. And so, for hundreds of years, the descendants of this now forgotten Shoanti mystic guarded and protected the Fangs of Midnight from discovery, teaching their people that it was their sacred duty to stand watch over the mastaba. During these centuries the Sun shamans learned much about the power of the artifact. Part of the dragon’s soul endured and tried to force its will on those around it. But the Sun shamans were aurochheaded and well-trained, and their strong minds resisted the dragon’s temptations. As long as no one actually handled the teeth, they lacked the strength to truly dominate anyone and cause further harm. But now I fear that, for the first time since they were entombed in the holy site of Mashka-saht-puyuhoke, the Fangs of Midnight have been touched by human hands, with unspeakable consequences.

The fragment of the dragon’s soul is like a plant: it seeks to take root in fertile soil, where it can blossom and grow to become a potent tree. Hearing your stories, I believe that this has happened to the Jothka-woman who you call Ileosa-Queen. If I understand you correctly I’d even say that she is wearing the Fangs of Midnight on her head. Her own cruelty and strength have been multiplied thousand fold by the evil artefact. On top of that the teeth will have given her supernatural powers. But the worst thing is that she now carries two souls in herself, which gives her tremendous control over her own vulnerability and mortality.

Knowledge of how Coja’s cabal defeated the dragon will be key to fighting her as well. But what my foregoers handed down to me is vague and fragmentary at best. I cannot give you the weapons to combat this evil, because I do not know them. Still, the fire of my predecessors burn within mel, just like it burned in the chest of Coja Eyes Aflame. Find his bones and rekindle his fire, then he will give you the insight you need to defeat his old nemesis.

I am unsure of where the Sun shamans from the days of yore lie buried. The ancient shores have been lost to us for so long that I cannot even begin to imagine what they looked like. I do know that they were not entombed in Mashka-saht-puyuhoke out of fear that the unnatural tendrils of evil would disturb their voyage to the eternal hunting grounds. Lore says that they were laid to rest in burial mounds within sight of the great mastaba, so they could guard over it even in death. Coja Eyes Aflame’s bones must lie there as well, somewhere, but if I understand correctly, your people have filled the shores with stone yurts, so it will be hard to locate the Sun shaman’s remains. I also fear that I cannot guide you any more than I have done just now. Still, my inner flame tells me that Coja’s bones have passed the test of time. Finding them will be your task.”

Then the burning shaman reaches into his own chest and pulls out a white glowing flame. He motions for Sjo to open his mouth and then places the ball of searing fire on his tongue. “Breath this flame into the glorious mystic’s remains and he will help you”, Arunan assures. “I’m sorry I cannot be of more help and that I cannot send the great spirits of my ancestors with you, they would only get lost in the maze that the mastaba shores have become. Only a spirit that knows the place as it exist today would be able to guide you.”

Upon hearing this, Sjo pulls out the deck of Harrow cards and summons Zellara’s spirit. “Maybe she can help?” he offers. Arunan looks pleased as Zellara’s ghost appears. “I find myself in strange lands,” she says, “far from the streets and alleyways I call home. But I feel you are among allies. Though no bonds of friendship have formed yet, mutual respect hangs around your shoulders like a warm blanket. How can I be of help?”

Sjo explains that they will need Zellera’s help in recovering the whereabouts of a buried Shoanti shaman, somewhere in the city of Korvosa. Arunan fills in as many details as he can. The Varisian fortune-teller is happy to oblige, but recommends patience: “The secrets of the Shoanti lie buried under three centuries of Korvosan history and hatred. Locating the remains of a long-gone mystic will be like finding a needle in a haystack. But I will do my best to help you, although I should warn you not to expect a speedy result. The search will be hard and might prove long. I can only hope that I can provide an answer in time. When we get back home, place my deck of cards on Korvosan soil, so I can begin my search.” The next moment Zellara’s spirit fades.

Arunan looks positively surprised. “You are truly blessed by those who have left us. You walk with the spirits, who honor us still with their presence and friendship. Go now with the strength of the spirits and the friendship of the tribes.” After these words Arunan disappears as well, his burning body melting into the bonfire. The companions step from the flames and face Valkur and the council again. The big chief regards Sjo carefully, nodding his head in respect when he catches a fiery glimpse in the healer’s milky eyes. “Now the might of the Sklar-Quah is truly with you. I wish you a speedy journey back and good fortune at the end of your path. We will follow in two weeks, to pick up the fight if you fail. But if you succeed, you should contact us, so we can discuss our people’s future together.”

Quint suggests they use magic to stay in touch during their mission. Thousand Bones will be happy to serve as a medium. Depending on the heroes’ progress or failure, the Shoanti might have to expedite or postpone their war movements. The companions certainly feel that now there is some room for flexibility on this front. The Quahs are placing a lot of trust in their hands, they hope they can live up to the challenges ahead.

23 Arodus 4708

Balian spends the night in the arms of D’ari Firehair, Saamesh’s sister, learning how hot Sklar-Quah women can actually be. The next morning the companions leave for Kaer Maga in horseback. They reach the cliff-top city by the afternoon, which gives them some time to sell off the loot they gathered over the last couple of days and invest in some scrolls and new equipment.

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An hour after the Red Mantis ambush the companions leave the Skull Clan camp, joined by both Thousand Bones and Saamesh. After about half a day of traveling the party comes across another group of Skoan-Quah warriors, who are making their way to the shadow of the Great Flame as well. Like the members of Thousand Bones’ tribe, they are following the call of the Sklar-Quah. The Burn riders who recruited them are still with them and do not seem overly pleased with the presence of Korvosan tshamek, but they accept the company of the strangers when Thousand Bones and Saamesh vouch for them.

22 Arodus 4708

Over the next two days the group traveling with the heroes grows even more, to about 250 men and women. By the end of the afternoon on the third day they finally reach their destination: an imposing pinnacle of red rock that rises from the earth to a height of more than 200 feet. Millennia of erosion have shaped the stone like a big flame. In normal times this landmark would be an eye-catcher, but now Balian finds his gaze being drawn to the enormous encampment at its foot. Hundreds of tents and campfires cover the landscape.

Upon approaching the camp the companions see a delegation of Burn Riders moving in to welcome the newcomers. Puk immediately recognizes the giant that leads them: Krojun Eats-What-He-Kills. When he spots the companions, the barbarian gives them a small frown, but as soon as he picks out Saamesh in the crowd, the towering Shoanti jumps off his horse. With big strides he closes the distance between himself and the former spy. Grinning widely, he pulls his much smaller friend in a bear hug: “Brother, have you come to join us in battle? My heart rejoices, you are more than welcome!” he smiles. “Although I see you have not brought the best of companions”, he continues, nodding at the Korvosans.

Saamesh returns the heartiness of the hug, but when he frees himself from the giant’s grip, he replies: “On the contrary, brother, my business in Urgir did not end well. These men saved me from the deadly clutches of the orcs. With the exception of you, perhaps, I cannot imagine being in finer company.”

Krojun grins at the party: “Then I welcome you as well, welcome to the brave warriors who will crush Korvosa and see justice done.”

Krojun leads Thousand Bones, Saamesh and their Korvosan guests to a huge tent, bordering the foot of the Great Flame. While they make their way through the camp, the companions feel the hostile gaze of hundreds of Shoanti. The forces that have gathered here are truly impressive: there must be over two thousand warriors here, if not three; hundreds of horses and Puk even spots a number of mastodons, immense eliphants. The halfling stares at the titans in awe: “Look, oliphaunts, no one at home will believe this!”

The war-yurt is the biggest tent the companions have ever seen, fully covered in animal skins and leather hides. In front of the entrance there are two rows of totems, decorated with different animals and symbols. A plume of smoke rises from a hole in the center of the tent. Quint quickly cleans up everyone’s attire with prestidigitation, casts glibness upon himself and tongues on Puk and Balian, who do not speak Shoanti. Krojun motions for the newcomers to enter. Inside a few dozen men and women are gathered around a bonfire. Most of them look like experienced warriors, but others bear the symbols and ornaments of mystics. Upon entering Krojun’s loud voice booms out: “Honored jothka’s and wise fathers and mothers, we have welcomed many guests in our midst of late, but these visitors will surely draw your attention!”

Everyone inside eyes the Korvosan heroes with a mixture of surprise and contempt. A broad-shouldered warrior with gray hair and a proud beard seems to share these feelings, but when Saamesh steps into the tent behind Balian, his face lights up. He walks up to the young man, places his hands on the spy’s shoulders and calmly speak in a very low voice: “So, son, you have finally turned your back on that stinking orc pit. Your father’s heart leaps at your return.”

“Jothka”, Saamesh answers with the same calm, “the orcs of the Hold of Belkzen are strong and many, but their eyes are not aimed at the Quahs right now. I was less lucky, however, and personally got to experience their false gazes and sharp claws. If it wasn’t for these men, you’d be short one son.”

The bearded man turns to the companions, looking each of them in the eye: “I offer you my thanks, tshamek. My name is Valkur Burns-In-His-Veins, the Quahjothka of the Sklar-Quah. I am the one who has called together the Shoanti to drive your people back into the sea. I take it that is why you are here. Speak, and we will listen.” Quint recognizes the word Quahjothka as the ‘chief’, not just of a single tribe, but the ‘chief of chiefs’ of a complete clan or Quah. This man is the head of all the Sun Clan people.

Valkur points to an empty place next to the fire where his guests can sit down. He squats on the ground a few yards further, between four other important-looking Shoanti: Laaron Strongbow, Quahjothka of the Lyrune-Quah (the Moon Clan), Fidru Glides-On-The-Wind, daughter of the Quahjothka of the Shriikiri-Quah (the Hawk-Clan), Akbat Whose-Tongue-Gives-Life, Quahjothka of the Shundar-Quah (the Spire Clan) and Durbeth Lifebreath, Quahjothka of the Skoan-Quah (the Skull Clan). The other Shoanti inside the war-yurt sit down as well, curious to witness this intriguing encounter. Krojun, Thousand Bones and Saamesh are among them, as is One-life, the chief of Thousand Bones’ tribe.

The companions also introduce themselves and Quint explains why they are here. After the death of King Eodred, the ‘Quahjothka’ of Korvosa, his wife Ileosa took control and has been showing ever more apparent signs of evil and madness. The party has tried to counter this malevolence, but they found themselves insufficiently equipped or skilled to succeed, especially after Ileosa displayed virtual immortality when she was shot in the head by an accomplished warrior who had discovered her evil as well. The arrow to her temple should have felled an auroch bull, but instead it hardly phased her, as she simply plucked the bolt from her head and attacked the warrior with it. The ‘feeble’ Korvosan woman grabbed the seasoned warrior by the throat and lifted the 200 pound man off the ground as if he were a twig, killing him with one single blow. The companions now suspect that the queen is under the influence of the ancient ‘evil’ that was supposedly buried under the mastaba. If she is not stopped, queen Ileosa will destroy both of their people, Quint continues, referring to Thousand Bones’ spirit quest and the vision of the shadow dragon swallowing the Shoanti horses and Korvosan wolves alike, leaving no one alive. “That is why we have come: to learn more about this evil and find out how they can fight it.”

Quint also knows that the Shoanti are wary of outsiders and only truly accept their own: other (full-blood) Shoanti or – on very rare occasions – non-Shoanti who have proven themselves worthy. That entails that the companions will have to try and acquire enough of the Shoanti’s respect through their past deeds. So the bard spins a story of who the party is and what they have achieved. Sometimes he finds it hard to explain, because many urban concepts are foreign to his audience. The Shoanti do have a word for children who’ve lost their parents, but the words lacks the undertone of being abandoned as the term ‘orphan’ does, because the tribes always take care of such children. His listeners also frown when Quint describes the many excesses of ‘corruption’ he and his friends have fought over the last couple of months in Korvosa, probably reinforcing the wildlings’ prejudice that so-called civilized society is actually anything but civilized and definitely not honorable. Throughout his tale Quint makes sure to point out that his party does not seek to cause conflict, but they do not avoid it when it slaps them in the face. Although they prefer a peaceful solution, they will resort to violence if necessary.

Sjo supports Quint’s story by singling out the deeds he and his friends have accomplished that involved Shoanti. He shows the token of friendship they received from Thousand Bones when they provided aid in dire circumstances in the city of Korvosa, he recounts the time they freed an ancient Shoanti tumulus of vile bugbear intruders and offers the medallion they retrieved from that tomb to Akbat Whose-Tongue-Gives-Life, the Quahjothka of the Shundar-Quah, whose ancestors were buried there. He also points out that he and his friends took the shape of natural animals in their journey to the spirit world, which indicated that their hearts were in the right place, and connects that vision quest to the rescue of Saamesh from the orc city of Urgir. He ends his intervention with the defeat of the Cinderlander and hands the Shoanti killer’s vicious weapon, his repeating crossbow, to the Quah’s leaders as a sign of closure. Balian also adds an argument by reminding the council that the companions recently accepted Krojun’s tests and – even though they did not beat the Sklar-Quah champion in these challenges – they did prove themselves capable. The broad-shouldered warrior confirms this claim with a smile of respect on his face.

When they have finished their plea, Valkur asks the companions to leave, so the council can deliberate what to do. He offers them the camp’s hospitality until the council comes up with an answer. Saamesh leads the companions out and takes them to one of the many campfires. There he is greeted heartily and the tribesmen around the fire immediately offer him and his guests a place by the fire and food. A sassy young girl with bright red hair and white paint around her eyes hugs Saamesh for a long time. When he introduces his rescuers to her, she is very grateful that they saved her brother. “My name is D’ari Firehair”, she says, as she turns to the fire and tears off a chunk of meat from the roast. She offers it to Balian: “Here, put some meat on those bones, you look like you enjoy a good piece of chow.” The ranger gratefully accepts and sinks his teeth into the savory flesh. “Seems like it has been a long time since you had yourself some fine meat. Don’t they like flesh in Korvosa?” she smiles, bowing forward and offering Balian a clear view into her cleavage. Then she reaches for the ranger’s shoulder, letting her hand glide to the hilt of his greatsword and pulling it out of its sheath. She weighs the heavy weapon, lets her eyes glide over the blade and then wields it in grand archers with apparent ease. Her final swing ends just under Balian’s chin. She pushes the tip against his skin: “Sklar-Quah women are as hot as fire, Korvosan, and as deadly as the rays of the sun.” With the gentlest of pushes she draws a single drop of blood from the ranger’s throat. Then she flicks the sword around and hands it back to its owner, hilt first. “Still, for my brother’s savior, I’m willing to make an exception”, she smiles. As Balian reaches for his greatsword, she pulls him closer and presses a fiery kiss on his lips. “Don’t ever say that D’ari Firehair knows no gratitude”, she teases, and gives the ranger a light slap in his behind. The other Shoanti laugh. Apparently this little show has served perfectly to break the ice.

During the meal Saamesh expands on his time in Urgir and explains how the party saved him from certain death. By the time the meal is done, the Korvosan heroes feel right at home. None of the Shoanti around this fire show any hostility, on the contrary, they seem to welcome the strangers in their camaraderie. D’ari remains at Balian’s side and continues to tease him the whole time. When the final rays of the sun almost sink behind the horizon, the camp bursts out in commotion. Three dark shapes in the sky close in fast against the dying of the light. Each of the giant eagle-like birds carries a rider on its back. These are the mighty rocs of the Tammir-Quah, the Wind Clan. Some enthusiastic young boys cry out in rapture: “The rocs are coming, the rocs are coming!” D’ari explains that they are expecting at least four thousand warriors and healers. Everyone should be here in two weeks’ time. That is when the army will leave for Korvosa.

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20 Arodus 4708

The next morning the companions gather for breakfast. Thousand Bones greets them and asks if they are ready for the journey. Off to the side, an older Shoanti woman is cooking up something hearty in a large pot. Suddenly a screech tears through the air. The sound seems to be coming from the north and ends close to the breakfast circle. The elderly cook buckles and tumbles to the ground, a bolt sticking from her neck. Out of thin air two red mantis assassins appear and attack the unwary party. Wicked-Claws, the wingless dragonne that protects the tribe, rears its scaly head when it sees a big leopard charging from behind one of the tents.

In no time the Shoanti camp is in complete chaos. Puk tries to get the people to hide in the tents, but panic has taken a hold of them, which makes some of them run around wildly instead of hide. The scarlet-clothed assassins are both joined by giant-sized red mantis insects and a few seconds later two other large monsters burst from the sand: these abominations have the upper body of a human, while their lower half is that of a humongous scorpion. Their deadly claws and poisonous stingers flash left and right, damaging Balian, but also making some casualties among the Shoanti commoners. Sjo tries to pinpoint the source of the ranged attack and finds it when three screaming bolts plant themselves in his chest, causing grievous wounds: a hitman is hiding behind a big rock off to the north. The pin-cushioned healer already has to resort to his magical cures. Thousand Bones’ venerable age has made him a fragile man, but he still possesses some powerful magic, and attempts to dispel one of the summoned mantises. The insect pops away as suddenly as it appeared. Quint takes up his support role and casts haste. Meanwhile Balian, Spyder and Puk launch their melee attacks and dish out serious damage. Puk already manages to slay one of the assassins and sees him poof away in red smoke as he falls. Saamesh, the rescued spy, also joins the fray, but his defenses are far inferior to the party’s, so he suffers greatly. Balian confronts a scorpionman, bearing down on him again and again with his greatsword. The creature loses three limbs in the attack, but still has enough legs left to stand and return the attack. It is aided by the sudden appearance out of nowhere of yet another Red Mantis assassin, a killer whose armor’s shape suggests that she is female. She delivers a vicious blow to the ranger. The surviving giant mantis turns on Saamesh, who bears the beating stoically, but falls to the ground when a bolt from the mysterious archer hit him hard. Another shot takes down Balian.

With two fighters out of the game, it is time for some battlefield control: Sjo freezes the female assassin in place with hold person, but the archer resists a similar spell and a cacophonous call from Quint. Next the bard makes the campfire explode in a bright flash, which blinds the male assassin, a scorpionman and the leopard, who is locked in combat with Wicked-Claws behind the main tent. Spyder suffers the same fate, but uses his instinct to continue his attacks anyway with surprising ease; naturally the blinded opponents try to do the same. Thousand Bones moves closer to the source of the deadly bolts and recognizes the Cinderlander hiding behind a rocky outcropping. The old medicine man finally manages to neutralize the danger by casting another hold person on him, which finally succeeds. Meanwhile Puk takes out a first scorpion creature and deals heavy damage to the frozen female assassin. The wingless dragonne leaves the sight-robbed leopard groping in the dark and turns on the second giant mantis. Gushing blood from one of his wounds, unconscious Balian is in danger of bleeding out, so Sjo helps his friend with a cure critical wounds. Quint and Thousand Bones provide further healing for the ranger, who tries to regain his feet. Despite his blindness Spyder manages to kill the female assassin next, who disappears in a puff of red smoke as well. Puk presses the final Red Mantis murderer, who takes down Sjo in turn. Fortunately Thousand Bones is close to lend assistance, one healer to another. Spyder continues his streak of good luck and finishes off the final assassin. Apparently the outdoor environment of the Cinderlands agree with the city dog. As the assassin pops away in red clouds, the giant mantis he summoned disappears as well. The only immediate threat left is the second scorpionman; the Cinderlander is still frozen in place and his blinded leopard pet is trying to find its way back to its master. Puk and Balian turn on the foul scorpion critter, drawing blood from many wounds, but still the creature persists and snaps and stings at the ranger with success as well. Fortunately Balian possesses enough fortitude to resist the poison. Puk is no big fan of the almost spiderlike way in which the giant scorpion creeps about, but with Balian providing flanking, he can duck between the creature’s many legs and deliver the final blow.

Wasting no time, Balian charges over to the Cinderlander before the man manages to regain control of his movements. Wicked-Claws is close behind, chasing the leopard back to the archer, who finally breaks out of the hold person, but is laid low by another of Thousand Bones’s spells. The old Shoanti commands the Cinderlander to ‘grovel’, making the enemy fall prone in the dirt. A storm of attacks from all sides ends his life. By the time Sjo arrives it is already over, the Cinderlander is dead. So this deadly opponent was his biological father, was he? The healer cannot muster any pity for the man, but still sends him off with a short prayer to Pharasma. That is all the mercy this killer deserves.

Quint turns to Thousand Bones and says he is very sorry. This attack was aimed at his party, and it cost five innocent Shoanti bystanders their lives. Thousand Bones accepts his apology and says that at least one good thing came of it: the Cinderlander, who has been plaguing the Shoanti for almost two decades, is finally defeated. It is a sad day for the tribe, but a good day or all the clans in general. The victims will be honored as heroes and their names will live on in song and legend.

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

So it's pronounced "JAM-ees juh-COBS", right?



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Quint tries to make the most of the time he is given. He ushers his friends over to the other half of the room, where they can proceed unnoticed. Using Quint’s wand and Sjo’s curing spells the companions patch up again. Quint also hands Puk the bag of holding and the halfling picks out a number of Blackjack’s masterwork daggers for himself and Sjo. Since the enemies still haven’t returned, the party decides to set a trap. Puk drops back to the floor where he went down in battle. Since he is the one who will be in immediate view when the bad guys come back, they might not notice anything is wrong until they are close. Spyder, who has been healed as well, also lays down in a pool of his own blood and plays dead. Sjo hides next to Puk, behind a pillar, while Quint waits just around the corner.

The plan works! When the enemy casters come back a few moments later, chatting merrily about their victory, they remain relaxed and unalarmed until they reach Puk’s position. Sjo launches the attack by cleverly casting silence on a coin, while Quint casts haste on his friends from just outside the silenced zone. Spyder and Quint get behind the enemies, closing off their way of escape and Puk proves that a rogue does not need magical daggers to deliver serious damage. The figure in the purple robes draws his rapier and returns the favor, giving the halfling a nasty cut. Sjo finds out that wielding a dagger is not really his thing and misses his mark. The orc mage realizes that there is nothing he can do, being surrounded in melee in a zone where he can’t voice his spells, so he tries to make a run for it, but Quint trips him. His attempt to get back up is foiled and Puk’s quick little stabs make short work of him. It is astounding how much of a difference the circumstances make. Where the mage proved a formidable and illusive opponent in the last fight, he now turns into a complete push-over. The enemy bard lasts a few breath longer, as his defenses are actually quite decent. He also seems to have some skill with his rapier, slicing a few more gashes in Puk, but then the halfing gets lucky and finds three gaps in the man’s guard. The purple figure drops to the floor.

Sjo reclaims his heavy mace from the enemies’ sack of loot, and hands back Puk’s daggers as well, while Quint pulls off the Purple Worm’s mask. His face is human. He wonders whether this might be Arnois Belzig, the Pathfinder in Grask Uldeth’s service. Detect magic reveals that the men carry some potent magic. The party moves over to the next room, a large round chamber with a floor that drops into the darkness, deeper than Sjo’s 60 feet of darkvision. There is a stone platform that stretches across the room, leading to a blank wall on the other side, but a lever in the middle of the platform can make the whole construction turn 90 degrees to reach a stone door with a small porch in the left wall. Balian’s body lies on the platform, while another bound and unconscious figure lies on the porch in front of the door. The companions quickly restore Balian to full health and turn the platform to reach the prisoner on the porch. It is Saamesh, the Shoanti spy they were looking for. When Quint frees him and nurses him back to consciousness, he recognizes the companions from their previous encounter in the spirit world, even though they were all in animal form then.

Saamesh has been beaten and tortured, not just as punishment for being a spy, but also to extract information. The Purple Worm was after two things in particular: he wanted to know where the Koldukar key was and who Saamesh’s allies were. The Shoanti could only answer truthfully by denying that he had either of those: no key and no allies! His torturer obviously did not believe him and kept on tormenting the spy to get him to talk. Saamesh tried using an old Shoanti trick to detach his spirit from his body. That is how he entered the spirit world and was able to get a message to the heroes. But the Purple Worm quickly succeeded in breaking his mental escape.

The door behind Saamesh is made of stone and radiates strong magic. It is one of the Koldukar doors that can only be opened with the Koldukar key. Saamesh marvels at how absurd life can be sometimes. He came here looking for the Purple Worm, believing that man had the mysterious key, while the Worm captured him and was convinced that he knew more about this notorious dwarven unlocking device. The Shoanti also admits that he had seriously underestimated the Purple Worm’s forces. The man had more troops than expected and was actually quite powerful, as was his magic-wielding orc ally. In hindsight, that might not be such a bad thing, Puk jokes, as he glances over the mighty loot he gathered from the two casters’ bodies.

Anyhow, the spy realizes that his cover in Urgir is blown and that his role in the orc city has come to an end. He is happy to be alive and rescued, and now he just wants to return home. He does wonder, however, how four Korvosans came to save him. From his visit in the spirit world, he knows that he can trust his rescuers, but he does not understand why they came for him: the Shoanti and Korvosa are not exactly on friendly terms. Quint explains that Korvosa’s new queen is under the influence of something evil that she unearthed in the great mastaba, and they need the Shoanti’s help and insight to fight it. Saving the son of the Sun Clan’s most influential chief might go a long way with the people of the Cinderlands, who only accept non-Shoanti if they prove themselves worthy. Saamesh promises that he will aid their cause and plead to his leaders to help his rescuers. Sjo also has a question of a more personal nature. He wants to know if Saamesh knows his mother, Aithné. The young spy nods affirmatively. She is one of the famous burn riders, a proud and capable warrior. Her father (and Sjo’s grandfather), Sun shaman Yundur Firestorm, passed away some years ago, unfortunately. She has no children, though, at least, not in the tribe, the rescued Shoanti sighs.

While Saamesh begins to formulate plans how to get out of the orc city and travel back to the Cinderlands, Quint pulls out the scroll of teleport he got from Jasan Adriel. Saamesh is delighted: traveling home overland could take up to three weeks and the journey would be fraught with danger. This magical short-cut could both figuratively and literally be a life-savior. Quint decides to take the Skull clan’s encampment, where they found Thousand Bones’ tribe, as his focus point. The magic does its work and the next moment the heroes and their new friend are back in the Kallow Hills.

The camp is still there, but it looks emptier then when the party left here six days ago. Most of the able-bodied men and women have left for the meeting in the shadow of the Great Flame. Only the elderly, children and some women remain here. Even jothka One-life and shaman Ashdancer have joined the warriors. Thousand Bones, however, is still here, waiting for the companions. He is overjoyed to see them and find out that they succeeded in their quest. Now he wants to follow his tribesmen to the gathering as quickly as possible, suggesting the party joins him there. The companions agree and take the rest of the day off to recover and distribute the loot they recovered from the orc magic-user and the Purple Worm. There are two mighty cloaks of resistance, both caster were also wearing headbands of alluring charisma, which were more powerful than the one Quint is wearing at the moment. There are other magical upgrades as well: a good amulet of natural armor, mithral buckler and chain shirt, better rings of protection for some of the party members, but the nicest item is the Purple Worm’s silver rapier. The blade has small holes that whistle in a high pitch when the weapon is wielded and deliver sonic damage. But its most wonderful property is the fact that it allows a bard to use his bardic performance to charge the weapon, allowing him to use his charisma instead of his strength to guide his strikes and deliver damage. Quint is usually the last to join melee, but with this rapier he will much better at it.

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Quint presses his back tight against the wall. His heart pounds furiously. How could everything go wrong so fast? He had not seen this coming: two powerful casters who could so easily dictate the course of the fight. And they are just around the corner, still under the influence of an improved invisibility spell, standing over the bodies of Quint’s fallen companions: one a magic-user who was mighty enough to conjure a cone of cold, the other one a bard who wielded greater power than Quint.

Quint casts an invisibility sphere on himself. Fortunately his voice is still being blocked by Sjo’s stone of silence on the floor, so the enemies can’t hear him. Then our hero quickly makes for the spot where Sjo dropped the stone and picks it up. From this position he has a clear view of the battlefield in the second half of the crypt. The two caster figures turn visible again. The first one is an orc dressed in gray robes with a red hand painted on his chest. Huge fangs jut from his jaw, mirrored by two fang-like pieces of bone sticking from his earlobes. He glances about cautiously, expecting the last surviving infiltrator to appear at any moment. At the same time he gathers Balian’s, Sjo’s and Puk’s weapons and checks their bodies for a pulse. He calls out something to his companion, the enemy bard, who is dressed in purple robes and whose face appears to be covered with a mask. Quint suspects this is Wyrnan Koch, the ‘Purple Worm’, whom he read about in Saamesh’s secret journal. This person pulls out a wand and moves over to the four orcs who went down in the battle. Two of them are still alive and the Purple Worm restores them to full health with the wand. The other two are beyond saving, it seems.

Quint repositions himself in the mouth of the stairwell. He still has a good view on the orcs from there, but can easily make his escape if he has to. He sees how the two orcs that have just been nursed back to life pick up their weapons and search the first half of the tomb, where Quint was hiding initially. Meanwhile the casters do another spell and focus on the bodies of Quint’s friends. They start stripping them of all lose magical items, from spare weapons to jewels and cloaks. Judging from the way the handle his friends, Quint can tell that they are probably still alive.

By now the two orc minions reach the end of the crypt and, having discovered no one, are about to return. Before they do so, Quint slips back into the crypt and hides behind a ruined dwarven grave. The orcs walk back - past the bard - and take the stairs leading to the next floor. Now only the two caster remain, who are still plundering the fallen heroes of anything but their armor.

Realizing that his invisibility will not last forever, Quint decides to find a better place to hide. A big sarcophagus sits in the overflow of the first and second half of this crypt. It stands a few feet from the wall, leaving just enough space for the bard to hide. It also provides a perfect view of both parts of the crypt and allows Quint to hear his enemies as well, as he now steps out of the silence zone. The casters are talking in Orcish, a language that Quint masters as well. They seems to be very pleased with the ‘fat loot’ on the intruders’ bodies, even though they will have to examine the items further to determine their exact powers. At the same time they are disappointed, because they can’t find ‘the key’. They wonder if the ‘one who got away’ might have it. The Shoanti ‘spy’ always denied having the key, but the men were never sure if they could believe him. Just imagine what they could do with that key! Open ancient doors and discover Koldukar’s hidden treasures!

Once the two casters have finished stripping down their opponents, they pull out some rope to tie them up. They obviously don’t feel like lifting up a heavy bloke like Sjo to wrap the ropes around him, so they settle for rolling him over and tying his hands behind his back. They also bind his feet together. The other fallen companions get the same treatment. The orc with the large fangs also jokes about cooking and eating Spyder later on, although Quint seriously doubts it actually is a joke. He’s seen dog on the menu in the market square.

Quint’s invisibility wears off, but he chose his hiding place well, so the two figures do not notice him and continue their tedious work. When they’re done securing the prisoners, they attach a length of rope to Balian’s feet and start pulling him to the end of the gallery, towards a set of double doors. The floor is covered in stone rubble, and even though they advance slowly, the casters laugh over the unconscious ranger’s rough ride through the debris. When they disappear through the exit, Quint finds himself alone in the crypt. He jumps to action, hurrying over to Sjo and Puk while pulling out his wand of cure serious wounds. Two gentle touches with the magic timber restore his friends to consciousness.

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Thanks for putting these up before you left, Erik. Enjoy your holiday.

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Heroclix has several version of 'Aquaman' with a trident. A rebase and possible repaint might get you what you need.

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Nice job. Very well done.

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Helel13 wrote:

Thanks MrVergee your input is always appreciated.

I have said that the player's last sidequest was all that was necessary for the cure to be complete. I would feel a little bad going back on that statement by getting another call from Cressida saying "actually, it's not done quite yet..." haha.

I could always develop a sidequest hook based on an individual character's backstory. The Bloodsworn Vale module seems interesting, about how many sessions did it take to get through it? Also might I pick your brain on hooks aside from a cure that could be used to implement the module? Something that could be interesting is assigning the PCs to work with a Grey Maiden contingency deployed to the Vale for X reason or another. Could help flesh out that faction a little bit, and a PC has been brainstorming an idea of the Field Marshal having a sister in the Maidens that could show up as an NPC.

Well, if you'd like to use the Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale module, employing Gray Maidens as well, here's an idea.

Field Marshal Cressida Kroft approaches the PCs with a personal request. She has a younger sister, Amelia, who was recruited into the Gray Maidens some time ago. The girl was sent to the Bloodsworn Vale with her company to reclaim the wilderness, because the queen has decided to reopen the trade route to Nimrathas through the vale.

Cressida Kroft hasn't heard from her sister since she left. She sent two letters, but never received an answer. Now that things have finally settled down in Korvosa, the field marshal has asked the church of Pharasma or Abadar for help, by having one of their priests cast a sending on her behalf. The cleric who cast the spell did not receive an answer. Naturally, Cressida Kroft is worried and she asks the PCs to travel to the vale to make sure her sister is safe.

You could fill Bloodsworn Vale with any threat you deem interesting, either as suggested in the module or by your own making. It would make sense if Amelia has gone missing, so the PCs would have to search the vale for her and fight its many dangerous denizens in the process. They could actually work side by side with some of the Gray Maidens and develop a closer bond with some of the female soldiers.

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Inspectre wrote:
Okay, we’re back!

Glad to see you back on your writing horse.

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I see that you have been working around finding a cure for the plague. I used that in my campaign as well.

I sent the PCs to Bloodsworn Vale to find blood cap mushrooms, a key ingrediënt for the cure. I based it vaguely on the module Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale. I you want to know what I did with it, you can check my journal and my deviantart page for the 'map' I made of the lizardmen village in the Vale.

I haven't read The House on Hook Street module yet, but that might provide a great add-on source as well, since your players will be going to Old Korvosa next.

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roloz wrote:
I stole an idea from somebody on Obsidianportal (sorry, don't remember whose). My party witnessed the whole thing as part of a vision from Zellara during her harrowing. Any other way would have most likely ended with at least a few dead PCs.

That is definitely a smart way to handle it.

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James Jacobs wrote:

So! Now that the cat's out of the bag, and the hardcover version of Curse of the Crimson Throne is announced, I just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to post feedback and criticism and suggestions in this forum. When I first started working on this project many, many months ago, I combed through all of these threads and extracted a LOT of really helpful and useful advice. Now, I'm about a week away from being done with the development of the book, at which point it gets handed over to the editors and opportunities for significant new revisions or additions are more or less cut off, but I'm confident that what folks have observed and reported on over the past nearly 10 years have covered the critical parts and lots of the other warts and blemishes as well.

And it wouldn't have been possible without all your feedback, so thanks again, everyone! And I hope you check out and enjoy the new book when it's out later this year!

I'm very excited to hear about this. I'm looking forward to finding out what has been revised and added and possibly sniff out which ideas from these messageboards made it to the new edition.

We're currently playing (my modified version of) book 4, but at the rate we're playing (slowly), I hope to get the hardcover before we finish the AP. And even if I don't, I will still get this book. Now we can start dreaming about a miniature line to accompany the new hardcover (even though I'll have to store this dream next to my Hell's Rebels miniature line dream).

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Hayato Ken wrote:
Did you consider the option of people in the process of playing an AP, but not being finished yet?

Yes, I missed that option too. Still, it is a very interesting initiative. Every AP rated on some of the same topics, but only by people who played them. So everyone speaks from personal expericience, which makes me believe in the results more.

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Skeld wrote:

I haven't run CotCT yet, but it's going to be my next campaign after we finish up RotRl in a few weeks. So... soon as my players see a picture of the Queen and realize she's a redhead, they'll assume she's the BBEG of the campaign. To date, I don't think my players have encountered a female, redheaded NPC that didn't betray them in some way.


Good luck and enjoy! It is a great campaign.

So, you have been type-casting redheads as false and conniving? No real-life inspiration, I should hope. Anyway, there is a quick fix: add a redhead that isn't evil. In my campaign, one of the PCs is engaged to Larella Semyr, the high-priestess of Shelyn. I made her redhead as well and she's been nothing but good to the PC.

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The song definitely fits the theme. Here's my take on the lyrics:

Do you see the Raven fly
Singing the song of Silver Men
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of his wings
Echoes the beating of your heart
And the Silver Song he sings
Hails a brand new start!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
No longer be afraid
Of Thrune abuse and tyranny!
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right
To be free!

Do you see the Raven fly
Singing the song of Silver Men
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of his wings
Echoes the beating of your heart
And the Silver Song he sings
Hails a brand new start!

With Kintargo under siege
Will you find the strength inside?
To practice what you preach
And no longer be denied
The right to be free
So come on and fight at my side!

Do you see the Raven fly
Singing the song of Silver Men
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of his wings
Echoes the beating of your heart
And the Silver Song he sings
Hails a brand new start!

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The party slips away from the market district before the orc guards notice them. Some passers-by definitely recognize Sjo and Balian for humans, but since they are still in a ‘pinkskin-allowed’ zone, their presence does not immediately raise suspicion. Making their way down a street in the direction of the temple district, the heroes resume their search for a hide-out for the night. Quint spots a ruined building in a street that veers off to the left. A recent earthquake took the house down, taking its now half-rotted owner with it. There are signs that the place was plundered afterwards, which comes as no surprise in this inhospitable orc city. The back kitchen of the building miraculously survived the quake and is still standing. Its door has been kicked in, but enough of it remains to block the bottom half of the entrance. The companions take refuge in the ruined room and rest up, making sure to keep watch all night.

19 Arodus 4708

It is still early in the morning when the party members have regained their energy and spells and leave for the temple district. At this hour of day (or rather night) the city seems to be at its quietest. Quint uses his make-up skills to give everyone a half-orc appearance. Although it will probably not pass scrutiny, it might suffice to fool anyone who casually glances at the heroes. Following the directions they received yesterday, the companions find a broad lane that leads them out of the tunnels to a grand square. The first rays of the sun light an impressive cathedral, obviously a feat of dwarven architecture. The massive building of marble stone rises over a hundred feet into the air. Still, orc interference has had its effect: rusted metal plates with spikes and barbed spears adorn the front of the temple. The walls above these plates bear crude paintings of orcs in battle. Various statues have been defiled and remodeled to look like orcs or vile beasts. A broad set of stairs provides access to the immense front doors. Six orc soldiers stand at attention at the entrance.

Checking the map in the spy’s notes again, the companions figure out that they have to get to the back of the temple. Keeping to the far edge of the square, the party circles the cathedral, easily making it to the other side. The focal point of a smaller square at the back side of the temple is a large fountain that must have been beautiful once. Various animals and creatures of stone lie at the feet of three central statues. These one-time dwarven heroes have been resculpted into hideous orcs. A dozen spouts spew out reddish-brown water that smells of rust and sewage. Fortunately this corner of the city is quiet at this time of day. Puk jumps over the statues to the central figures and starts looking for a secret door. Quint joins him, but their first quick search does not reveal anything. Then Puk gets into a dwarven mindset. Where would he hide a secret mechanism if he was a dwarf? A burrowing animal perhaps? Checking the different animal statues, the halfling discovers a small mole figure. When he presses the blind creature’s eyes simultaneously, a slab of stone behind the central sculptures slides up. Squeezing between the statues and the wall, the heroes reach the entrance, which leads down into the dark.

The stairs take the companions to a small dwarven crypt. Quint casts light on a coin to allow the party to see. All the graves have been plundered a long time ago; only broken stone, dust and bones remain. A second set of stairs in the center of the room leads further down. Puk’s keen ears pick up orc voices from below. Quint performs a round of heroism on the party before they dive deeper into the earth. A second, slightly bigger crypt holds a troop of ten orcs, half of whom carry an axe, the other five wield swords. Sjo opens combat with a fireball, while Quint casts haste and starts satire to debuff the enemies. Balian swings his greatsword with great fervor, cutting down one orc in the first moments of combat. He forms a line with Puk to shield his friends, but the two of them get completely surrounded by enemies. Spyder blocks off another orc who tries to circle around the back pillar of the room. Sjo calls forth a prayer to aid his friends and debuff the orcs even more, while Quint summons six mirror images and draws his blade to assist Spyder. Balian and Puk take down two more orcs, but the ranger suffers some grievous wounds himself and requires healing. Sjo jumps to the rescue, giving Balian enough breath to cut down another orc with one mighty blow. The healer is now in the thick of battle as well and gets dealt a bloody cut. Puk and Balian push the attack and skewer two more opponents. Still the remaining orcs show no sign of backing down, dealing a few more wounds before they too fall to the heroes’ weapons. After patching themselves up and storing some loot in their bag of holding, the companions take a spiral staircase that descends even deeper in the earth.

Once more Puk hears the sound of orcs grunting and arguing below. Sjo fears the rattling of his heavy plate will give him away and enspells a coin with silence, so he can move down unheard. The heroes reach a third, even larger crypt where they spot some light coming from behind the corner. Puk scouts ahead and sees four orcs down the hall. Quint decides to pull them in and uses ghost sound to simulate the noise of a skeleton rising in one of the plundered tombs. The orcs take a few moments before they move in to explore. Puk, who is hiding behind a pillar near the orcs, hears someone casting a few spells first and someone else starting a bardic song of inspiration. When the orcs storm past, the halfling stabs one of them in the back, continuing his attacks until the creature goes down. Quint casts haste on the party, but notices that the orcs have been similarly enhanced. An axe-wielding orc bears down on Puk now and delivers a tremendous blow. Sjo attacks the orc fighter, while Quint lashes out with his whip and trips one of the orc rogues. The creature gets back up quickly, suffering two attacks of opportunity from Balian and Spyder in the process, but in turn he gives the ranger a vicious cut as well. Puk realizes that the three remaining orcs he and his friends are currently targeting are nothing but cannon fodder for two invisible casters who are coming up from deeper in the crypt. One caster’s slow spell lifts both his and Spyder’s haste, while the other one keeps bolstering the skirmishing orcs with his song. Once more the axe-wielder hits the halfling with incredible strength, knocking the unfortunate halfling unconscious. The creature continues his attacks on Sjo and survives Quint’s trip attempt. Spyder senses that one of the invisible casters has crawled up close and suddenly sees how a cone of cold seems to appear out of thin air, catching all standing heroes in its blast. The orc rogue backstabs Sjo and the healer goes down as well. Balian stands the hero and cuts down the visible orcs in quick succession, but gets covered in glitterdust by one of the casters and cannot see anything anymore as a result. A moment later three scorching rays take the ranger out, while one of the invisible attackers – the singing bard – now targets Spyder with his blade. Although the dog smells where the assailant is, it does not succeed in biting him. Quint hides behind one of the pillars around the corner and casts mirror image on himself, while the unseen bard presses the attack on Spyder and defeats the dogs as well. Four down, one to go! Now where is that annoying human bard hiding?

This is where we left the session, everyone in the party has been knocked into their negatives, except for Quint, who is tucked away behind a pillar around the corner. Two powerful casters, hiding under the cloak of improved invisibility and having suffered no wounds yet, are eager to face him. Let’s see if the bard manages to squeeze out of this one, so we can continue our group’s famous mantra: “Give thanks to the bard!”

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I included this scene in my game and I'm glad I did. It is a cut-scene, that's true, so no intervention is 'allowed'. But the effect of the scene is much bigger when you have the PCs present.

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My wish for James' secret project: he's planning a long trip in a place cut off from the outside world, giving him time to recover from all these years of hard work and dedication to Paizo and its audience without having to check the boards and answer all our cries for help and insight. We'd surely miss you, James, but it would be worth it, knowing that you'd get the chance to recharge those batteries and be there for us for many years to come.

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To a man dressed in shiny armor rust monsters inspire a fair amount of fear, more so than a mantidrake or three terror birds, who are in fact fiercer opponents. Quint hastes his friends and makes for the stairs at the end of the room, drawing away the invisibility from anyone but himself. Waiting at the top of the wooden steps is another nasty surprise: orcs! Meanwhile Sjo, Puk and Spyder take care of the rust eating beasts with ease, while Balian tanks the terror birds. Uri, the little orc guide, hides under the table and just watches what happens. Quint presses up against the wall as the orcs from above charge down. Still, one of them, who looks the smartest and probably has the keenest senses, spots the invisible bard on the stairs and stabs him with his dagger. “You see,” he screams, “the purple worm was right, he wasn’t alone!”

Sjo rushes past the mantidrake to give Puk flanking, allowing the halfling to cut down the creature in a matter of seconds. By now two orcs have joined the fight on the ground floor, one is engaging Quint on the stairs, while two more archers appear and fire upon Sjo. Their arrows fail to pierce his armor. Despite the number of opponents, the fight turns out to be easy. The enemy has a hard time wounding the party and one by one the birds and orcs go down. The dagger-wielding leader of the orcs tries to make a run for it, but is literally held in place by Sjo’s magic. The heroes disarm him and lock him up in a small cage.

After a few rounds of healing the party explores upstairs. There is no sign of the building’s proprietor Hobar, his bedroom has been ransacked and a small book lies open on his desk, with several sheets of scribbled notes on the side. The book itself is written in code and the notes are someone’s failed attempt to make sense of the secret writing. Quint relishes at the challenge to decipher it and starts studying the strange letters. It takes him little over an hour to break the code and read the notes, obviously the work of the Shoanti spy.

The log contains all kinds of data on the orcs in Urgir. It confirms that Grask Uldeth, the orc overlord, is seated firmly on the throne, in a way that few of his predecessors ever did. He’s been in power for over two decades and has used these years to plant his own pawns in the other orc clans to strengthen his influence. His many, many children have been married off to countless sons and daughters of other orc warlords. He controls an army of over 7,000 strong in Urgir and can call to arms at least double and likely even thrice this number from the other tribes in a relatively short amount of time.

The book also focuses on Uldeth’s decision to allow pinkskins in the city. This policy started about nine years ago and has proven very successful: the coffers have never been so full and there is a steady supply of weapons, magic and knowledge. The orc leader has also appointed a human pathfinder as his councilor recently, probably to aid him in his efforts to unearth hidden dwarven treasures and secrets which might still be buried under the former sky citadel. The pathfinder’s talent for exploration and keen archeological insight will certainly be useful in this endeavor.

The most recent notes in the book mention someone named Wyrnan Korch, the Purple Worm, a person of some interest in the church of Rovagug, the Rough Beast, god of the orcs. Korch has been spending more time in the seedier parts of town lately, gathering mercenaries and allies. According to the log he is searching for the Key of Koldukar (the ancient dwarven name of Urgir). This key is rumored to provide access to unknown and unopened dwarven tunnels under the city. In the hands of a spy such a key would be of immense worth, allowing him to move about unseen from one side of the city to the other. The writer of the log decides to shadow Wyrnan Koch. His final notes includes a sketch of the temple of Rovagug; an arrow points to the southern corner of the building. It reads: “Purple Worm entered here through secret door”.

When the companions head back down to question the prisoner, they notice that little Uri has disappeared without a trace. The front door stands slightly ajar. Quint addresses the caged orc, pretending to be an agent of Arnois Belzig, Uldeth’s new pathfinder advisor. The orc admits that he and his men were stationed here after they helped ‘arrest’ the spy who lived here. They were to ambush any of the spy’s contacts, so when a group of pinkskins walked in, he naturally assumed that they conspired with the spy. When Quint asks the prisoner where the temple of Rovagug is situated, he wonders why Belzig’s agents would not know something so trivial. Balian thinks the orc has served his purpose and silences him.

The companions return to the streets, feeling ill at ease at the thought that Uri might have betrayed them. The orc child knows where they are staying and witnessed how the killed several orcs in Hobar’s house. If he has decided to snitch to the guard, the party is not safe here anymore. As they retrace their steps through the city to the market square, they scout for a good place to lay low for the night, but no obvious hide-out turns up. At one point, while still walking through the all-orc district, a passer-by notices Balian, shouts at him and moves in to pull back his hood. The ranger reacts immediately by punching the assailant in the face. Only then does he see that the orc was actually a woman. The ranger pulls his hood even closer over his head and picks up the pace before other bystanders join in. When they finally get back to the market, Puk sneaks ahead to assess the situation. The rogue notices several Urgir guards at the Pinkhouse, asking questions. Other guards are making inquiries on the market square. The heroes try to blend in for a while, but when the guards come too close, they decide to move. Quint addresses a random orc servant at one of the stalls and asks him for the way to the temple of Rovagug. After receiving directions the bard casts memory lapse on the orc, so he won’t remember the conversation.

Much of this adventure was inspired by In the Shadows of Spinecastle from Dungeon magazine # 148.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That is exactly where my party is at: they still doubt that Ileosa is the real evil and suspect her new seneschal Togomor might actually be pulling the strings. Now, in part 4, they'll find out more about the teeth of midnight, which might even strengthen their conviction that Ileosa is a puppet - which, all things considered, is not too far from the truth.

Anyhow, what I like most about my players' point of view, is that it allows me the option to make Ileosa redeemable. We'll see how things go and how the players' ambitions evolve. If they want to make it their goal to save Ileosa, I could still give them that opportunity.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Paizo caters to a lot of customers, so some of its APs are right up my alley (Hell's Rebels blew me away), while others are not for me. Since we take years to finish just one AP in our group, I can afford to cherry-pick my favorites. Still, I'd probably cancel my subscription for a Tian Xia AP.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

18 Arodus 4708

The next morning, at breakfast, Sjo does not feel inclined to explore the city further. He fears that wandering about the city blindly and asking questions might raise more suspicion than answer questions. He trusts that the Pinkhouse is probably the best place to find the information he needs. Looking around the taproom he sees the same people who were here yesterday morning. The tall weapons dealer from Sandpoint is at one of the tables, as is Brugo, the cloth trader from Nimrathas, who is having a meal with his two men who look like his assistants. Puk, Quint and Balian visit the market with little Uri again, but do little more than stretch their legs. The most daring thing they do, is try a local specialty: bulette on a stick.

After spending a couple of hours watching his pitcher of beer grow warm, Sjo sees the empty barroom fill up with a handful of customers again during lunchtime. Brugo returns, although he has left his assistants at the market. Sjo follows the trader to the toilet and starts a casual conversation. Brugo discreetly asks Sjo if he is a Shoanti, because the tribesmen from the Cinderlands are generally made to feel even less welcome in Urgir than other pinkskins. Sjo explains that he is a halfblood, but he still appreciates the warning. He wonders if Brugo knows about any remarkable incidents with Shoanti in the past. The trader says that he has heard some tales about Shoanti barbarians whose pride got in the way of … surviving, and he adds that he actually knows of a Shoanti who lives here, but the man does his best not to look like one of the wildlings, in fact, he wears a clever disguise that makes him seem like a halforc. It’s a daring, but sensible move, Brugo explains, especially for a man who does business in the all-orc districts. Brugo met him in The Pit of Doom, one of Urgir’s fighting pits, where the man delivers monster for death matches.

When his friends return, Sjo gets Uri to lead them to The Pit, but only after they have cast some long-term buffs, like heroism. The orc boy proves his worth again by cleverly guiding the party through throngs of orcs, avoiding the meanest and toughest hotspots in the crowd. Using the hoods of their gray cloaks to hide their faces, Balian and Puk try to keep from being noticed, while Sjo and Quint imitate an orcish way of moving about to blend in. Uri keeps the pace high enough to prevent little mishaps. By the time a more perceptive orc suspects something fishy about the group, they have already moved on.

The Pit of Doom is situated in a part of the city that must have once been a warehouse district for the dwarves. The buildings here are bigger and more basic in design than the fancier neighborhoods the travelers have visited until now. Still, the orcs use most of these storehouses as apartment block in what feels like the run-down corner of town. One such barn-sized stone building bears a wooden sign above the entry, depicting a simple pit. The double doors stand ajar, allowing raucous laughter, curses and grunts to filter out to the street. Inside the depot serves as a massive taproom, with a ceiling that reaches a height of 20 feet. Thick stone arches support the slightly cracked roof and have chains hanging down from them with burning lanterns. The smell of cheap alcohol, blood and urine permeates the air, but does not seem to bother the many patrons, for indeed, despite the early hour, the place is already quite packed with orcs and a handful of half-orcs. The only humans in here are slaves who serve drinks and while none of them looks like fighters, they all bear signs of being beaten.

The arrival of the gray cloaked party draws enough attention for one of the orc patrons to peek under Sjo’s hood and recognize a pinkskin. The creature spits on the ground in front of the healer and growls: “Hey, slave, fetch me a drink!” The others at his table burst into laughter, which makes even more orcs in the tavern aware of the company’s presence. The heroes of Korvosa chose to ignore the provocation and pick a table at the far end of the room. The chairs have been nailed back together so many times that they look like the final failure of a dying one-handed carpenter with a blind eye. The whole bar is set up around a cave-in in the center of the hall, which has been filled with earth to create a flat surface for the fighting pit. A stone pillar rises in the middle of the arena, heavy chains hanging from its sides. The bartender operates the place from a large caged bar at the back of the common room.

A human slave takes the party’s order, eying them with a mixture of amazement and fear. His visit at the table is quickly followed by a burly orc who walks up with a broad smile of confidence on his scarred face. His hands rest casually on the pommels of two short swords, hanging from his belt. “Tough pinkskin, come here looking for a fight, hey?” he spits in Orcish.

“We heard about this wonderful place”, Quint replies, weaving the power of fascination in his words, “and the spectacular fights that it hosts. We wanted to see for ourselves, as spectators, of course.” Next the bard mixes a suggestion in his exposé: “Why don’t you get us a drink and tell us about it?”

“Har, har, I’ll get you a drink all right, little man, while you think about who you’re going to send into the pit to face me!” the orc shouts for the whole bar to hear. “One versus one, or two versus two, your choice!” Next the orc does indeed get the companions some ale, expecting an answer to the challenge he issued upon his return. Sjo and Balian accept, having just learned from Uri that these death matches have no rules, so any magic is permitted. As the two of them descend into the arena, Puk joins the betting pool at the caged bar, matching all the orcs’ money with 400 gold. The crowd gathers around the pit and starts shouting: “Arrodok! Arrodok!” The orc gladiator jumps in as well and waits for his partner to arrive: a humongous troll with a hefty warhammer in his left hand and a cruel blade in his right. The onlookers purr with delight as the monster glides in the ring.

The troll is the first to strike: he lunges at Balian and glances the ranger’s shoulder with his hammer. From the crowd Quint attempts to influence the fight with satire, but the loud cheers from the orcs around him drown his word of mockery. Arrodok and Balian exchange blows while Sjo surprises everyone by throwing two fireballs in rapid succession at his adversaries, having them wonder how the hell a fully-plated warrior casts spells like a wizard? Especially the troll seems shocked, obviously harboring a fathomless fear for fire. The flames of Sjo’s fireball even blow over the edge of the pit, taking out three spectators in the crowd. Balian has a harder time impressing the bystanders and sees his swings parried. The troll has no doubts about who his biggest threat is and focuses his attention on Sjo. He rages with fury and knocks the fire-wielding warrior off his feet. Arrodok is likewise inspired and slices at Balian with swift strikes. Sjo, who is still on the ground, seeks to freeze the orc gladiator in place with a hold person, but the fighter miraculously summons enough willpower to resist. Balian struggles to keep to his feet and counterattacks, cutting a deep gash in the orc with his first strike, but seeing his second blow go wide. Using heroic inspiration he attempts another hit, but threatens to miss again. From the side of the pit Quint interferes by having his bardic magic guide the ranger’s attack true; the crowd’s cries are so loud that they easily mask his meddling. Balian’s corrected arch hits Arrodok hard in the head and the orc goes down. The troll grunts, but continues his furious charge on the prone fire-wielder and gets two more hits in. Sjo encloses the brute in a wall of fire, making the creature’s morale drop even more. The troll’s instincts tell him to run, his fear forcing him to give up his rage and making him flee to the other side of the pit, where he takes a few breath to compose himself. Sjo uses the opportunity to get to his feet and cast a powerful cure critical wounds on Balian, steering the ranger away from the edge of death. Balian now takes a defensive stand in front of Sjo, blocking the troll path to his friend. The troll is still a bit shaky on his feet, but rejoins the fight and tries to cut Balian out of his way to vengeance, but the ranger deflects almost all of his hits. In the meantime Sjo throws fireball upon fireball at the monster, until finally, he succumbs to the burns. The crowd around the pit suddenly goes quiet. Uri is the first to break the silence, as he yells out in victory and even urges the other orcs to applaud the companions’ triumph as well, without success however. The shame of losing to pinkskins combined with the loss of money in the betting pool compels the patrons of the Pit of Doom to muteness.

While Sjo uses his powers of healing to patch him and Balian up, Quint and Puk head to the bar to pick up their winnings. Quint sees how the bartender reluctantly reaches for two pouches of coin. The bard inquires about the ‘monsters’ that are rumored to be an attraction in the pit, as he would love to see such beasts for himself. The barkeep says that he hasn’t heard from his supplier in several days and when Quint prompts him to elaborate, he reveals that he normally buys his pit monsters from a half-orc named Hobar, who lives only two blocks away. His house is easy to spot, someone has painted a message on the barn door: “Pinkskins out, orcs first!” Quint tips the orc and motions for his friends to leave.

Uri has no trouble locating Hobar’s place, which has two points of entry: a big barn door and a set of double doors into the main building. Puk tries the lock and finds it open already. He pushes in, stepping into a peculiar place of business, a monster dealership. The room behind the counter houses two big cages: one with a dragon-like creature – a mantidrake - and another one with three large birds. There is a wooden door behind the dragon cage and a set of stairs leading up. Quint covers his friends in invisibility, but when they advance into the room, something behind the wooden door reacts to their presence. At that exact moment all doors open simultaneously, releasing the mantidrake and terror birds, and revealing two rust monsters behind door number three, their antennae feverishly reaching for the metal of the companions’ arms and armor.

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