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Human on Flying Carpet

MrVergee's page

901 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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So, community manager and - judging by your drawing - a nice artist to boot ... color me impressed. It truly is an honor. It fills me with a warm feeling to know we now have a guardian angel watching over us. Congrats to Paizo for its successful boards and congrats to you for landing this wonderful responsibility.

Nice to see that you also integrated Trinia's trial into your actual game. I think that the AP as written misses out on some nice scenes by leaving something like this out. Okay, granted, in my game the PCs were simply spectators at the trial, so their interaction was limited to observing and making perception and sense motive checks. But even so, it is an important point in the story, so I preferred to have my PCs present.

The same goes for the opening scene of book 3, with the confrontation between the queen and commander Endrin. I'm planning to have my PCs witness that as well. Key moments should be in the game if they can.

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Inspectre wrote:
“Uh, yeah Paizo, I kinda didn’t like your AP, so I basically rewrote the whole thing . . .”

In my book rethinking, reworking and rewriting an adventure is a sign of respect; it means you like the scenario very much, but you want to adjust it to your personal taste and the playing style of your group. There is nothing wrong with that.

That being said, you did manage to turn the deadwarrens into truly deadly warrens. I loved the markings and the signs the derro left for the PCs. It adds an element of humor, while it shows at the same time that your dungeon is dynamic, not static. Very well played, sir.

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Well, cap'n, for someone who lives in the past like you, it shouldn't be a problem answering an ancient question, now should it? Lol, no seriously, these boards still get used by people who are playing the AP right now and who have certain questions, so there you'll find the merit in answering really old questions.

And there is also the having fun and going nuts part, of course ...

The sun is already rising over the horizon when the companions finally get home. The kids greet them enthusiastically and want to know everything that happened, but Sjo just tells them that he and his friends have completed their mission successfully and want to go to bed. The Shoanti quietly sneaks into his bedroom, where Madam Nesia is sleeping in the other bed. He noticed that her breathing is heavy and she's coughing. The tall healer puts his hand on her forehead and feels that she has a temperature. He pulls out his wand of remove disease and heals the ailing woman without waking her up. When her breathing eases, the weary warrior quickly slips between his own sheets for a couple of hours of overdue rest.

Our young friends get up in the afternoon, slightly surprised that no one came to get them out of their beds to ask them about their deeds last night. Madam Nesia is still sick, despite the fact that Sjo was sure he cured her last night. Her eyes are red and she is feverish. Sjo examines her and comes to the conclusion that she is not suffering from the plague. He wonders if she might be cursed and shares his concerns with the others.

After a hearty meal the companions head over to the temple of Sarenrae to get Puk's blindness removed. There they learn that the patients of the hospice of the Blessed Maiden are all being moved to the hospital of the medic temple task force, after the Queen's physicians have been exposed as traitors who were spreading the plague in the name of Urgathoa. Fortunately the Gray Maidens discovered this deception and took care of the problem, permanently! Quint is shocked by these rumors: so now the Gray Maidens, who were foolish enough to let themselves be tricked by the doctors, think they can steal the glory of solving the problem?!? And no one even thought it necessary to consult the true heroes about this fabricated story?!? Quint is quite upset and wants to confront the Gray Maidens, but Sjo convinces him to go to Kroft first. After all, Puk figures, if the companions want to keep a low profile, this story is the perfect cover. It wouldn't be smart to shout all over town that they are the ones who really cleared the Urgathoan temple of its cultists. Those Red Mantis assassins might still be out there and it wouldn't be wise to call too much attention to themselves, the rogue explains. Field Marshal Kroft already knows the truth, so talking to her might be smarter. Perhaps she can shed some light on the Maidens' motive behind this lie.

In the Citadel Quint first apologizes for his outburst this morning, when he accused the Field Marshal of - unknowingly - aiding the enemy. Kroft is happy that he is not angry at her anymore, but says that he was right: she feels bad about the Guard's involvement in the physicians' foul plans. When the bard asks her about the reasons why the Gray Maidens want to claim the honor of clearing the temple of Urgathoa, Kroft replies that she was not consulted in that decision either - she is never consulted anymore; she is just told what to do. If she has to guess, she would say that the Maidens feel ashamed as well for assisting the cultists in spreading the plague, so maybe they want to make up for their mistake in the eye of the public by claiming to be the saviors who solved the problem. Kroft and her guards who were present at the Hospice this morning, have been ordered to keep quiet about the true heroes' involvment.

Quint starts wondering who is behind all these evil schemes. The list of possible suspects is just too long. Is Ileosa herself evil? If she wanted the throne for herself, she could be responsible for having Eodred killed, but why would she kill off half her subjects by ordering a plague to be brought down on Korvosa? Sjo utters the possibility that she is an Urgathoa fanatic herself. Or is Sabina Merrin corrupted? As commander of the Gray Maidens she has certainly moved her own troops into a position of power. Maybe one of the noble families is involved: they killed the king, hoping his queen would prove incompetent and one of them might step up to take the empty throne. Or are the banished Porphyria's engineering a return to Korvosa and its highest seat?

According to Kroft Ileosa also has a new advisor, a wizard from the Acadamae. Is he the puppeteer who controls the queen and her entourage, possibly working in the service of the Ornelos family? And what is Selena's role in all of this? The manipulator has always claimed that the queen is evil and that she is working for someone who wants to save Korvosa. There are so many options. One thing is sure, someone in the castle has been compromised. They worked with the doctors, allowing them inside the castle and then making up some story that the physicians were teleported in from Cheliax. Still this knowledge makes reporting to the castle a risky venture. How can you figure out what goes on in the castle without being in the eye of the traitor? Field marshal Kroft says that this has always been the task of the seneschal, but with Kalepopolis gone, there is no one to keep an eye on things. She could possibly get an audience with the queen herself if she insisted, but what would be her goal? She could never find out anything about the traitor without raising suspicion. Maybe commander Endrin of the Sable Company could be of more help, since the seneschal always comes from his ranks. Moreover, the Company is not tied down by the Gray Maidens as the Korvosan Guard is and Commander Endrin has been known to question the castle's recent politics before.

The companions decide to pay the commander a visit. Sjo is still welcomed in the Great Tower with open arms and immediately gets an audience with Marcus Endrin. The commander is pleased to see the Shoanti and thanks him for saving his stable boy Dalvun last night, but he is also baffled by the Gray Maidens' claim that they cleared the Urgathoan temple. Still, just like the young heroes, he cannot tell whether this Gray Maiden lie is inspired by treachery or a feeble attempt to mask their own incompetence. Sjo comes clean and informs the commander of everything he and his friends found out over the last couple of months. He also presents the commander with the evidence they uncovered: the Red Mantis letters to Doctor Devils, ordering him to first concoct a poison for the king and then to bring down the plague on Korvosa. Endrin is definitely on the same page as his visitors. He has no love for the queen, fearing that she is the evil behind all of Korvosa's recent trouble, and even if she is not, she allows herself to be manipulated, which also makes her incompetent to rule. If only the seneschal were here to take control: he could remove the monarch from power to regain control of the city and weed out the evil at its heart. Endrin has pleaded for a new seneschal before, but his request has been countered with the uncertainty of the last seneschal's fate. Is Kalepopolis really dead or is he still alive, and if so, where is he? Quint and Sjo wonder if his fate could be determined magically? The commander encourages them to enlist the help of one of the temples and try to find out. He will also resume his efforts to see the seneschal replaced with a new Sable Company man. First he will appeal to the queen herself to install a new seneschal and if she refuses, the council of nobles could enforce it. Quint fears that a new seneschal might quickly be manipulated himself by the evil force in the castle, but the commander argues that this new seneschal could act immediately. He feels that there is enough evidence to remove the monarch from power, permanently of temporarily, to regain control of the situation. Quint doubts that this law-abiding approach will succeed, but cannot offer a better alternative. He and his friends will continue their efforts to find out more while the commander exhausts all legal ways to see order restored. The two parties agree to keep each other informed of their progress.

After reading all these posts I was really surprised to find this set in my local gamestore yesterday ... living in Europe is an advantage for once, wow!

BTW, the mini's look great. The quality is a serious step beyond the usual standard.

I would like some small terrain or scenery element, like an orc hut, a gypsy (Varisian) wagon, a sloop, a shrine, a fountain ...

Nargy wrote:
Can somebody show me how to add SPOILERS to this?

When you make a new post, there is some text underneath your window. Look at How to format your text and click on the Show button. It will teach you some formatting tricks.

These links might give you some inspiration if you decide to have the Shoanti go to war: Plans to wage war on Korvosa and The Shoanti going to war.

Lictor Pat wrote:
I have a player with a Shoanti character whose long-term goal is to lead the sklar quah. I was thinking of having Illeosa wage a war on the shoanti (I already have her committing genocide within the city since it helped get the Shoanti interested in city politics.) ... This would allow me to have my player unite the tribes after scarwall and drive her army from the plateau. Thanks in advance.

Of course, there is nothing for Ileosa on the Storval Plateau: the land is barren, the Shoanti have no cities, they are nomads who can move around easily in a seemingly endless wasteland. It is also hot and dry on the plateau, which would make traveling and fighting in full plate very difficult. So I guess sending her army to the Cinderlands can only end in disaster for the queen. This would also leave her vulnerable in Korvosa. She might be mad, but she's not stupid, so this is not the way I'd have her go.

If you want your player to unite the Shoanti tribes, I'd turn these war plans around. Although the AP as written does not elaborate on the theme, it does suggest that the Shoanti are gathering for war. I'll be using this element myself in my campaign, but in my case the PCs will have to convince the Shoanti to delay their war plans to give them the opportunity to take out the queen and retrieve the evil artifact before descending into a bloodbath. Depending on how well the PCs do that, the Shoanti will give them some extra time to end the AP before they lay waste to Korvosa (of course the 'defenseless' countryside will be the first to go, which will make a lot of innocent victims). This could be a motive for your PC to unite the tribes; you could also have the PC lead the tribes into Korvosa and to the gates of the city to threaten Ileosa. Your party could still choose to go in and follow the sixth installment of the AP, moving into the castle to take care of Ileosa without their army joining them. It is better to just cut off the head of the snake instead of sending hundreds or even thousands to their graves in an open war.

Like this.

You might want to check this thread.

I'm really charmed by the way you portray Ileosa. I also think you improved the motivation behind what happens in Seven Days to the Grave. I can also appreciate the dramatic scene when Andaisin hurls herself through the window, too bad it was Eodred I and not Domina ...

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Very compelling story so far. I'M a bit confused about Lamm's motives, though. Why was he doing all of this again?

In my campaign the chaos in book one is the result of Glorio Arkona's actions. Using a number of bardic rabble-rousers, the nobleman undermined the young queen's authority until the PCs managed to restore it by thwarting his plans and boosting the queen's popularity in the city. The PCs still don't know that Arkona was behind it all, but when they'll meet him again in book 3, he'll tell them he was right all along in opposing the queen - and that actually the PCs were wrong in defending her. He'll offer to cooperate, but he doesn't really need the party, even fears they might spoil his future plans (to become king) and he's still mad at them for their earlier interference, so he'll make up an excuse to send them into his labyrinth to die. Should they survive, they might prove valuable as allies after all ... (A little sidenote, in my campaign Glorio Arkona is the real Arkona and not the imposer from Vudra, thus his claim for the throne as the head of one of Korvosa's most prominent families is actually justified.)

Jason S wrote:

This is kind of cool, but don't kill yourself for a game by sleep depriving yourself, seriously.

I'm with you on this one, Jason, I really like it, but there's no way I'd do it myself.

Another thing I really like about this blog, is the fact that a regular group of players introduces itself. I'd like to see that more often.

I notice that you spell some names differently, like Citadel Volyshenek, Sabrina (Merrin) or the Shaoti instead of Volshyenek, Sabina or the Shoanti. Moreover, you seem consistent in this spelling; so I wonder, is that a conscious choice or does it stem from an early misspelling that you stuck to?

Nice little (well, rather large, I'd say) background for Vencarlo, Kroft, Merrin and Grau.

The material as written names a number of noble families, but suggests that there are even more lesser houses which are not mentioned by name.

Apart from the king's house (Arabasti) there are officially five great houses: Arkona, Jeggare, Leroung, Ornelos and Zenderholm.

Other houses mentioned are Bromathan, Endrin, Carowyn, Fordyce and Jalento (and most likely Kroft, although it is never officially labeled a noble house). I'm not sure, but the Fencing Master web fiction might have some extra names as well.

This thread might also hold some information you like.

In general, the information on the noble houses is quite vague, giving you the opportunity to develop it as you see fit. In my campaign there are seven great houses (Endrin and Bromathan plus the five official ones). Carowyn, Fordyce and Jalento are the small houses. I've limited it to these. The PCs have mingled with all of them, they've been to the council at the castle with the seven great houses, they've been to parties, they've performed for the nobles, they've assisted Lady Zenderholm in a personal quest and they've saved the nobles' children at the Carowyn party. You can read all about it in my journal on these boards.

In my campaign House Arkona is not made up of raksasha's, they are the real Arkona's (although I made them tieflings to add a touch of the exotic). Glorio Arkona is behind the chaos in the first part of the AP, using some agents to incite rebellion in the streets. His objective is to prove that the queen is incapable of ruling and take her place as king of Korvosa. By the second installment the queen is in full control of the city (with the help of the PCs) and the plague keeps Arkona occupied, so his role fades to the background, until he offers the PCs the chance to cooperate in opposing the queen in adventure number three (which is still in my campaign's future). When the AP is done, I'm planning a follow-up adventure in which Glorio Arkona will try to seize the throne. He'll find a competitor in Aaron Endrin and hopefully in one of the PCs, since I'm setting one of them up to be Eodred's son.

Anyway, like you I like using the noble houses more. They do not get much prime time in the AP as written, but you can certainly find ways to involve them more. If you develop some noble plots, I would definitely like to hear about them.

The companions tie up Lady Andaisin and leave her in the room leading up to the sanctuary, with the green alchemic vats and the dead leukodaemon. Then they return to the cell block - where Rolth, Saulus and Alika are still locked up - letting the boy and girl they rescued earlier know that the priestess and her minions down here are all dead. They drag Rolth’s unconscious body to the hall with the huge basin and the catwalks and use a cure light wounds to wake him up. It takes the necromancer a while to realize who these young men are, who sarcastically address him as an old ‘friend’. It is not until they say that they used to ‘work’ for Lamm and imply that Balian is Alika’s brother, that he puts the dots together. The vile magic-user understands that his interrogators are imbued with an animosity for him that greatly surpasses their anger at him for being involved in the plague. Knowing that these men will have little patience with him, he willingly answers them when they start asking questions

About two and a half months ago Doctor Saulus sought him out in his secret den in the graveyard, Rolth confesses. He adds that he no longer uses this hideout as it was discovered during his time away from the city. He is not surprised to learn that the companions were the ones who shut the place down and killed his derro friends. Doctor Saulus - or Devils as he preferred to be called - promised Rolth to help him build his flesh golem if the necromancer took him in and allowed him to use his laboratory. Seeing an opportunity to achieve his life-long ambition, Rolth quickly agreed. When Sjo and Balian tell him that the golem was not nearly as powerful as Rolth believed, since they destroyed it very easily, a twitch of disappointment sweeps over his blotchy face.

Quint and Balian have trouble hiding their absolute disgust for their prisoner and tell him that his interrogation will determine whether he gets a quick or a long and painful death. They already butchered all the physicians and cultists in here, and they won’t hesitate to give him what he deserves either. Rolth nods and chuckles: “You may free Korvosa of the old Rolth, but it looks like there are four new Rolths ready to take his place, just as ruthless and deadly. I guess the city will be even worse off with the four of you …” Sjo grabs the necromancer by the head and pushes him in the foul water of the room’s central pool. Of course, this kind of torture only proves Rolth’s point, who no longer feels inclined to answer the companions’ questions if they will just kill him afterwards. Quint argues that the judicial system in Korvosa would only come to the same conclusion and condemn him to be hanged, seeing how he’s been wanted by the law for many years. Hanging judge Zenobia Zenderholme is famous for her harsh judgments, so someone with Rolth’s record would be judged very quickly.

“Well, if you’re so sure that the judge will hang me, you won’t mind handing me over to the law. I’ll make you a deal, I’ll tell you everything I know if you can guarantee that I will get a fair trial. As you say, I’ll die anyway, so it hardly matters to you. Give me your word and I’ll tell you, but if you want to kill me here and now, you might as well do it now, for then I won’t tell you anything.” Quint leaves it up to Balian to decide, being Alika’s brother he harbors the deepest grudge. The ranger agrees, but the deal will be off if Rolth tells even the slightest lie, he says.

After this promise Rolth continues his confession. He bought the young female lambs from Gaedran Lamm for himself, but gave them to Doctor Saulus when he needed test subjects for his experiments. He took Alika so many years ago and he somehow liked her enough to keep her alive. He did play mind games with her, constantly telling her that her brother Balian had abandoned her and that he was a coward and a traitor. He repeated this over and over until she ended up believing him and voluntarily chose to join him.

As far as Saulus is concerned, the doctor looked Rolth up in the month of Gozran because he needed a place to brew a poison. Rolth did not know Saulus before that, but was willing to help out a fellow follower of Urgathoa. Although the doctor never told him what the poison was for, Rolth figured it was for the king. He does not know who Saulus was working for or who collected the poison, though. Then Saulus got a new assignment and asked Rolth to join him in Lost End, where they were joined by Lady Andaisin and her followers. These new allies all came from Cheliax and must have used teleportation magic to get there, though Rolth claims having no knowledge of who transported them. This was where the high priestess of Urgathoa enchanted the avian masks and she and Saulus developed the plague by experimenting on a number of people, including Rolth’s girls. The necromancer himself spent most of his days constructing his flesh golem. They finally returned to Korvosa aboard the Delivery, but they abandoned ship and landed their sloops on the shores south of the city, where they set up camp. Rolth sneaked back in to the city, only to discover that his hideout had been compromised and his derro associates killed. He rejoined the Urgathoans and came to the Hospice after they acquired the place. He also claims that the Urgathoans entered the city undercover and somehow got into the castle, where they were supposedly ‘teleported’ to. This suggests that at least someone in Castle Korvosa was in on the conspiracy.

The companions tie up Rolth again and put him back in his cell. First they want to examine the three doors in the hall they used to interrogate Rolth, since they skipped those earlier. Two doors lead to storerooms, one with all kinds of trash and one with supplies. The other door opens into Andaisin’s office. Balian finds a chest with a top-notch alchemy set, while Quint and Sjo examine the many books and notes. Puk, who is still blind, has to limit himself to listening if no one else approaches. There seems to be a large collection of volumes from the Andoran Alchemical Society, as well as extended notes on the experiments that Andaisin and Saulus carried out. The scribblings are quite complicated, though, and would definitely require a trained mind to be correctly interpreted. Professor Sirtane Leroung could certainly use these in her quest for a cure. A secret door leads to a bedroom with a very luxurious bed. There is a traveling chest with woman’s clothes and a small box which holds some jewelry.

Next on the companions’ interrogation list is doctor Saulus. They head back to the cell block to get the bastard, but they are stupefied to find out that Alika and Rolth are missing, and Saulus is dead, his throat cut! Stable boy Dalvun and Jaelle, who are both resting in the bedroom that leads to the prison, have seen or heard nothing or no one. Alika’s bonds lie on the floor of her cell, as if she slipped out of them. Damn those rogues and their slippery tricks! Balian also discovers two small iron needles, part of a thieves’ toolkit, which Alika used to open the locks. Quint finds a lingering aura of conjuration magic in Rolth’s prison cell, probably pointing at some kind of teleportation magic.

The companions are very disappointed and swear never to make this mistake again. Fortunately, Lady Andaisin is still in their hands, as they kept her in another room. They drag her back into the inner sanctuary, determined to test out what effect the colored basins will have on her. Lady Andaisin, only smiles when threatened with submersion in these waters: “Urgathoa is at my side! I’ve done her proud with my work in this city, so I’ll be in her best graces when I cross over to the other side.” Sjo grabs the woman by the hair and pushes her face below the waterline of the blue liquid. In the process he gets his own hands wet as well and feels the liquid draining him. In reaction he drops the priestess to the floor, where she starts mocking him. Quint realizes that he and his friends are starting to behave irrationally, as Rolth’s words still ring in his ears: “four new Rolths ready to take my place”. Andaisin remains confident that she will be rewarded in the next life, and one of the many pleasures she will be awarded with, will be the power to create undead. She will make sure that the companions’ earthly remains will be used in such perversions. Quint gets quite angry with her while she claims she does not know who hired the Red Mantis. And even if she did, she would never tell them. Sjo also tires of her haughty behavior, she has nothing left to tell them, so he just bashes her skull.

As morning is fast approaching, the companions head back up to the hospice. They lure the last remaining doctors into the backroom and dispose of them. Next they collect the books and the survivors downstairs and simply walk out of the building, telling the remaining guards and Gray Maidens to check downstairs, leaving them behind dumbstruck. First they head to the university to give the books and notes they found to professor Sirtane Leroung, who is very happy to get this vital information. Next they want to inform the Field Marshal, but for the first time since they’ve met her, they do not find her at the Citadel, but rather at home. After waking her from her bed, they bring her up to date. Quint gets quite angry with her for allowing her Guard to be used for evil. Aiding the enemy is a grave mistake and in this case, assisting the physicians resulted in many deaths.

Well Inspectre

You're writing up these sessions pretty quickly. Are you making them up from scratch or do you have extended notes that just need finetuning? I like it, though, so keep it coming.

BTW, this is the 15,000th post on the Curse of the Crimson Throne boards, so that calls for a little celebration! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Tels wrote:
I like what you did with the statue. Any particular reason you seem to have dropped Adaisan's transformation?

Yes, there is. I changed the daughter of Urgathoa for the statue (more or less using the same stats). I made the mini for the statue and then I decided that using it as an opponent would be fun. I also planned on using the colored basins more, but my statue only managed to land a hit once. Every time she hit someone, one of the fluids was supposed to bubble up and do ability damage. This would also involve those basins I crafted into the fight. Too bad she missed so much, often just by one.

I also wanted someone to engage the PCs to give Lady Andaisin the opportunity to cast some spells unhindered. The fact that she was air walking was supposed to help for that as well, but Sjo's successful dispel magic really made a huge difference. Still, I'm not one to deny my players an "easy" victory. They never got in any real trouble during their raid of the temple, despite its many high-level opponents. Storywise this is actually a good thing. It would have been complicated if the PCs hadn't managed to clear the entire complex in one go and had to retreat to rest up. So I'm quite happy with the outcome.

A set of double doors in the far wall is the only way to continue. Balian pushes open the passage to the inner sanctum, the heart of the temple's corruption: a high-domed chamber with six basins lining the walls, containing foul bubbling liquids in distinct blue, green, red, purple, white and brown colors. Each fills the air with its own sharp reek, creating a noxious, eye-watering bouquet. At the room's center, rising from a wide pool of crystalline water, stands a golden statue, depicting a beautiful woman with a lower body of bones. She holds a scythe in her left hand. From the far side of the pool the high priestess of Urgathoa, the haughty Lady Andaisin, greets her visitors: "And so you have finally found your way to the heart of my temple, you ignorant fools. Know that you stand in the mighty presence of the architect of your city's demise. You call this a terrible plague, while I know it as the gentle kiss of the Pallid Princess. Yet I am still prepared to show you mercy. Choose one of these colored scourges to become one with the goddess. Those who drink I shall only cripple, leaving you to enjoy the wonder of Urgathoa's gift as it quickens inside your flesh. Those who abstain are fools, not fit to house a divine offering. You may fall at my feet and I shall make your end swift!"

Puk is the first to react and rushes into the room, making his way around the pool. He leaves his friends at the entrance, who suddenly see the golden statue come to life and jump down from its stone pedestal in the middle of the pool, landing between them. The animated sculpture swings its scythe at Balian and as she connects with his flesh, the brown pool starts boiling, claiming some of the ranger's strength. Next Lady Andaisin simply steps into the air, as if walking on an invisible set of stairs. Sjo realizes that she is under the effect of an air walk spell, which will make fighting her very tricky. As he prepares an attempt to counter her flight magic, the priestess calls down a vengeful pillar of fire from her goddess, catching Quint, Sjo, Balian and Spyder in her flame strike. The Shoanti healer laughs as most of the fire glides off his skin and throws his dispel magic at the woman, sending her back down to the floor. The companions focus their attacks on the statue first, managing a few deep cuts in her golden skin. Her sharp scythe cleaves through the air with heavy swoops, missing only by a hair's breadth. Puk replies with two biting sneak attacks. Quint trips the thing with his whip, giving Balian the opportunity to finish it off. Meanwhile Sjo tries to keep Lady Andaisin busy. She easily resists his hold person and prays for another flame strike on her enemies' heads. Fortunately Balian is the only one who suffers the full effect of the unholy fire. The fight now moves to the other side of the pool, where Lady Andaisin is starting to lose the cocky grin on her face. She takes some heavy damage and, even though she succeeds at taking Puk out of the fight with a blindness spell, she is sorely pressed. She looks quite proficient with her scythe, but being outnumbered four to one, she does not stand a chance. When she carves into Balian, Spyder reacts furiously and takes her down with his ferocious bite.

A feeling of peace immediately descends upon the room. The colored fluids stop bubbling and the golden statue melts away in vile slime. So much for a well-deserved reward in pure gold, although it looks like Andaisin is wearing some valuable magical items as well. So there still is some nice loot to be divided, albeit that such treasure always comes at a price, literally: ten percent to the city's coffers. Quint gets sick just thinking about it. Still, he feels no qualms when he claims Andaisin's strength and constitution boosting girdle and hands her headband of inspired wisdom to Balian. Sjo is happy to take two powerful wands off Andaisin's dead body: a wand of remove disease and one of cure serious wounds.

Finally ... finally ... With a mixture of relief and sadness Balian tries to come to grips with what just happened. Yes, after five years he has finally found his sister; after five years he has finally tracked down the bastard who took his dear Alika from him and yes ... the foul kidnapper did not get away. But half a decade is a long time, the vicious necromancer got under her skin, he brainwashed her, changed her, molded her into his equally vicious right-hand woman. Looking at her now, as she's being bound and gagged, Balian sees nothing but hatred in her eyes. Only Spyder treats her as if nothing has changed, clinging to her side and rubbing his head against her leg. The ranger calls his dog over. The animal gives him a sad puppy look, quickly licks Alika's hand before hesitantly trotting to his master's feet.

Puk finds a key ring with a set of heavy keys next to the door in the back of the room. It opens into a small cellblock, which still holds three prisoners. One of them is dead, one unconscious and one barely alive. All three display heavy symptoms of the plague. Sjo offers the two living ones, a boy and a young woman, a lesser restoration to restore some of their stamina. The boy recognizes the healer, he is a stable boy from the Great Tower, the headquarters of the Sable Company, where Sjo used to work as well. His name is Dalvun. He explains that he and his other cellmates have been used in experiments, they were frequently made to drink foul water by Doctor Saulus, Rolth, Alika and Lady Andaisin. Most of them are dead now. Only he and Jaelle are still alive. The two survivors are told to wait in the cultists' barracks, while the unconscious enemies are locked behind bars now. Sjo tells Dalvun he will be back soon, but first he and his friends have to take care of the evil priestess.

Returning to the room with the skeletal bacchanal of Urgathoa decorating the walls, the companions now take the heavy metal door deeper into the complex. The stinging scent of chemicals greets them. A huge basin, filled to the brim with foul, murky water, dominates the center of this high-ceilinged chamber. Two sets of stairs to the left and right lead to a catwalk ten feet above the ground which stretches over the pool. Two cultists are inside, one of them stands at the back of the room in an open door. "Warn our Lady that the intruders have arrived!" he yells to someone in the room beyond, before shutting the door. The other cultist is up on the catwalk. Puk, Spyder and Sjo make quick work of the first one, while Balian storms up the stairs and engages the cultist on the overpass. His heavy blade sinks deep into the poor man's shoulder. The ranger pulls his sword free and cleaves the Urgathoan devotee in two: his legs drop down on the metal walkway, while his torso plummets in the foul water below. A fitting end for one who worships a goddess whose upper and lower body are so distinctly separated.

The companions decide not to waste any time and ignore the doors to the left and right for now, choosing to follow the shouted warning and explore the way ahead first. The door opens into a hall with four large, cylindrical glass vats, each filled with a bubbling emerald fluid that tints the chamber's light a noxious green. Within each container floats a malformed abomination - part man and part horse - a lean, leathery male body resting on a horse's hind legs and topped with a fleshless equine skull. Three of these forms drift motionless in the green bile, but the fourth still twitches. An alarmed cultist is standing next to the fourth vat and smashes the glass to pieces, spilling the vile liquid over the floor and freeing the creature within. Balian and Puk charge the man and cut him down, but are greeted by the abomination, which lowers its jaw bone, spreading its mouth wide: a swarm of corpse-bloated black flies spills forth from its beak, biting and sickening the two unfortunates. Quint and Sjo resort to combat healing to keep their mates afoot, while the daemon now starts clawing and chawing at all those within its reach. The companions lure the creature away from the corner, so they can surround it and start cutting it up one gash at a time. Their combined attacks quickly outpace the creature's offensive and a few moments later the giant harbinger of disease lies dead at their feet.

Reading your intro story about Eodred's death and Ileosa's discovery against the background of that music was actually fun. I liked it, though I also noticed the 'crown' part. It's details like this which make it a good idea to share with others on these boards, because they can notice such tiny hick-ups and warn you about them, so you don't have to invent new background stories to cover up these deviations.

I also agree with you on this point:

Inspectre wrote:
I really did pretty much make up those explanations for the tapestries on the fly, something of which I was quite proud of because I tend to find ad-libbing details difficult. It’s a crucial DM skill to be sure, and one that I’ve gradually become better at, but it’s definitely something that I need practice with, so when I do manage to pull something out of thin air I tend to be insufferably pleased with myself.

Since my players take a very roleplay oriented approach (which was our set-up for this campaign) they talk to a lot of people, both good and bad guys. Enemies are often captured alive and questioned, which forces me to make up all kinds of details, often ad hoc as well. My players have just cleared the temple of Urgathoa in book 2 and they have taken Doctor 'Davaulus' (renamed Dave Saulus), Rolth and Lady Andaisin alive, so they'll be interrogating them next session. I already prepared some background for the Doctor, but I'll have to work on Andaisin as well: who is she, where does she come from, what are her motives, who contacted her, what does she know about the going-ons in Korvosa ... ?

I don't mind ad-libbing, but sometimes it's hard and I feel more comfortable when I've prepared some key ideas which I can use as coat hangers for my improvisation. This is especially important so as not to make mistakes in your story that require (major) fixing afterwards. Your crown slip-up is not that hard a fix, and it even fits your take on the AP (with Ileosa being a victim) better. But one has to be careful not to make any major mistakes.

Anyway, I enjoy your version of this wonderful AP and I'd love to read more about it.

Hi Inspectre

Thanks for sharing your ideas. Your take on Ileosa and all the changes you've made to accommodate that difference in character are new, but inspiring. I think it works very well. I'm definitely looking forward to reading about the changes you've made.

Apart from telling us how you've been adapting the AP so far, you might also consider sharing your future conversions. Bouncing ideas off other DMs here on the boards is actually a good way to shape those new concepts into even finer story elements. In other words, we could offer you feedback on your changes, while you might also inspire us to incorporate some of your ideas into our current campaigns.

My group is at the end of book 2 now, and after they take out the temple of Urgathoa (they're about half way through) they will embark on a 'Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale' inspired sidequest, looking for an ingredient for the cure. Although I've written out all my alterations to the entire AP already, nothing is set in stone and I can still make improvements, so your ideas would certainly be welcome.

May Pharasma's herald guide you to your Paradise.

forger42 wrote:

Even if you take 10 on the Heal check and succeeds, that only means the victim gets a +4 competence bonus on their Fort save. When the PCs meet Brienna Soldado, she has an effective Fort save modifier of -3, so even with a successful Heal check against the disease, that only leaves her with a +1 modifier against a DC 16 save, so the odds pretty well stacked against her making the save.

In the AP, it says nothing of how you naturally can recover from the disease. It seems the default is usually two consecutive saves, would you say that goes for Blood Veil as well?

That is correct. You need two consecutive saves to beat the disease. Its relatively high DC and most commoners' low Fortitude bonus means you need two good roll in a row.

A successful heal check adds +4 to the save, but that's it. A spell to remove the disease requires a caster level check, again no small feat for anyone but the few highpriests in the city. In other words, it is hard to get someone better and there is no guarantee your efforts will bear fruit.

Before the companions lies what looks like the entry hall to the secret hide-out underneath the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden. The hall sits empty and seems recently redecorated with murals of skeletons feasting among the dead and diseased citizens of Korvosa. The paintings are crudely done and have already been damaged by water seepage from the surrounding rocks. Simple wooden doors lead in every direction, each bearing a painted scythe-wielding skeleton.

Puk and Balian sneak in and listen at the doors. They only pick up something at the one on the right-hand side: people snoring inside! Fantastic! So they still have the element of surprise on their side. The urban ranger and the rogue quietly open the door and find four of the queen's physicians asleep in a small storage room. They waste no time and murder the men in their sleep. Quint is content to learn that his principled friend Sjo has no qualms about these merciless assassination tactics, after all, the physicians' guilt has been clearly established. This is swift and clean justice!

The companions now try the left door in the entry hall, which leads to a cloakroom. Two big wardrobes hold several dark leather robes, high boots, wide-brimmed hats and beaked plague masks. Sjo also discovers some potions of cure moderate wounds and a bag with 23 black onyx gems, worth 50 GP each, stuck away behind the robes. There is another door in this room which again reveals the sound of people sleeping on the other side. Quint, who is still wearing the avian mask and leather coat as a disguise, walks in first to find a room filled with cots: there are no less than ten physicians resting in here. As Balian and Puk sneak inside to quietly end these bastards' lives, one of the sleepers stirs and sits up. Quint walks over and tries to set his mind at ease with some casual conversation while his friends slip into position to strike the man down in his bed. The plan works, but the noise seems to have awoken another doctor. Again the companions act fast and kill him before he can raise the alarm. The rest of the sleeping doctors are put to the sword as well.

The companions continue their exploration by returning to the central axis of the hide-out. They discover a chamber with a dozen skeletons lining the walls. Their bony fingers claw in the air and the empty sockets in their skulls stare at the intruders with nightmarish determination. Sjo immediately reaches for his mace, but then he sees that the bones do not move. It seems like some twisted mind set them on display here in a tableau mort, to remind all the living that they will one day die and their remains might be called upon to serve the Pallid Princess. Urgathoans certainly have a weird concept of art, no wonder they have to hide it under the ground. A heavy, metal door leads deeper into the complex, probably to the temple itself, but the companions leave it for now, deciding to veer off to the right first because they hear voices coming from that side.

Balian picks up an agitated voice through the door. "I tell you again, I'm sorry for disturbing your rest, but there were some fierce-looking guys snooping around upstairs. I know you want to be informed of anything suspicious happening; they were talking about about investigating this place before they suddenly made off, spilling some sorry excuse of having made a mistake. I didn't trust them one bit, but that Gray Maiden officer seemed to believe them and let them go. I discussed it with Sordek upstairs and we finally decided it best to inform you. Better to be safe than sorry, right?"

Quint decides to go in first again, making use of his disguise. Swinging open the door he walks into another bedroom with six people, all awake and fully dressed: doctor Saulus, a masked physician, two cultists in a breastplate carrying a scythe, a pale and skinny man, with a blotchy and scarred face, and a dark-haired woman. Quint immediately recognizes the gaunt individual as Rolth, the necromancer, the villain they have been trying to track down for ages. The woman in his company must be the lady who took away all those girls from Gaedran Lamm; the girls they discovered later in the mass grave underneath Lost End, where they had been used as guinea pigs for the plague. The bard still feels sick thinking about it. Still, the black-haired lady looks quite young herself, certainly no older than sixteen or seventeen. In fact, she looks familiar as well ... By the gods, could it be? Is Rolth's black-haired accomplice Balian's sister Alika? Quint tries to swallow down the shock that clumps his throat and tries to catch his bearings as Saulus addresses him: "So, any news from upstairs? Did you see those men again that Geoff here told us about?"

"Uhmm, no sir, all's quiet, nothing to report", Quint replies.

"Well, we might as well check it out, we're up anyway", Saulus responds as he signals the two cultists to lead the way. While Quint slips deeper into the room to the woman's side, the first cultist walks out of the room, only to be surprised by Balian and Puk, who promptly cut him down. Geoff, the physician who came down to warn Saulus, quickly quaffs a vial and peeks around the corner to see who just killed his cultist buddy. "You see, I told you, it's them, it's them!" he cries.

Quint sticks to his role and grabs the lady's arm: "By the gods, intruders! Do you have a weapon for me, Alika?" In spite of his desire to see it otherwise, the black-haired woman responds to the name Alika. "Here, take one of my daggers."

Balian, who rushes in with Puk to finish the other cultist, picks up the name as well, realizing that he is now facing his sister. He immediately tries to reason with her: "Alika, it's me, Balian, your brother. We've come to free you!"

"Huh, my brother to the rescue? After five years? You're nothing but a coward and traitor, and a fool! I have found my true purpose in the service of Urgathoa! Now face her and my wrath!"

Meanwhile Saulus and Rolth retreat to the far end of the room and cast defensive spells, as Sjo appears in the door opening and throws his new spell on them, fireball! Spyder also springs into the chamber, but when he recognizes Alika's scent, he starts wagging his tail. The masked physician pulls out another vial and flings it at Balian: it explodes in a burst of flames. Quint uses his disguise one final time in this combat, to take position at Rolth's side. Then the bard pulls out his sword and hacks away at the necromancer. His blade hits the skin as if it was stone. Darn, he just cast stoneskin! Doctor Saulus mutters the words of another spell, trying to slow Balian, Puk, Spyder and Sjo, but the magic only takes on the dog and the halfling. Alika also moves over and viciously cuts at the slowed rogue, proving to have similar skills in combat with her sneak attack. Rolth realizes the threat the 'physician' at his side poses and steps back, flinging two scorching rays at the disguised bard. Now it is Quint's turn to smile, because he has an effective magical defense of his own: his ring of fire resistance absorbs the burning damage. Sjo charges to the bard's side and engages Saulus: his heavy mace hits the doctor hard! Balian's greatsword swings even harder on the physician who tries to escape his reach to do another spell, but the ranger steps up and kills him with one clean stroke. Next he joins his friends in the corner to fight the two powerful mages. His hatred guides his blade at the necromancer, but his anger clouds his combat savvy and he misses the foul caster. Doctor Saulus clearly feels outmatched and tries to swing the balance in his favor by casting improved invisibility on himself. Sjo and Quint hear him running off and chase after him. Sjo throws a sheet of fire in front of him and the flames of his burning hands reveal the shape of Saulus. Quint snatches some dust of appearance from his pocket and blows it in the same direction, breaking the doctor's concealing magic. Still, doctor 'Devils' proves worthy of his nickname when he steps back and calls down the fires of hell! A mighty fireball turns the room into an inferno, but when the licking flames burn out, only Puk and Alika have been badly hurt. Quint and Sjo dodge most of the blaze and their protection from fire wards them from most of the remaining damage.

The odds are now clearly in favor of the companions: Balian controls his rage and hits down Rolth with the flat side of his blade. Quint and Sjo mock Saulus's feeble attempts at hurting them and cut off his escape route? With Balian's help they knock out the doctor as well.

Now only Alika remains. Sjo freezes her in place with a hold person, giving Balian the chance to disarm and bind her before she can move again. So, how does this work? How do you talk to your sister after she has tried to kill you? Especially when you're out of practice with the concepts of brotherly love as Balian is ...

liondriel wrote:

Yeah, opposed CHA check sounds right.

What would be the outcomes? If my player succeeds, the guards guilt gets the upper hand and he would support the PCs, let himself be arrested?
If the guard wins the check, he'd stand his ground, not let anyone arrest anyone, but try not to hurt the Charming PC (too badly)?

I'd say that is about spot on.

I also perform a single reading for each character. The readings are quite hard, though, I use an excel sheet with all the card and their meaning to make the reading go a bit smoother. Someone posted it on these boards somewhere and I translated it to my language.

If you find the readings too complex to perform a single reading for every PC, I would advise you to draw a single card for each PC rather than do a group reading. This way you keep the personal reading for each player, which is fun for them.

I realize I never put up pictures with an overview of the Graul family homestead, so here they are:

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The companions wait fifteen minutes before returning to the warehouse. It looks like two Korvosan Guards are now patrolling the building on the outside. Quint, Puk and Balian wait for them to pass, before climbing up the wall to the roof. They make their way over the rooftop to the front of the building, above the office of Doctor Saulus. Puk keeps watch while Balian quietly pries away some of the wooden boards that cover the top of the building. A few moments later Quint and Puk slips into the doctor's workplace. Quint summons some light and goes over the writings on the desk. He puts the plague plan from Lost End next to them and compares the handwriting. There is no mistake: the same curls on the l's, the same 'dots' (or rather small lines) on the i's, and the same slant to the letters. In a drawer the bard also discovers a document that discusses the immunity to the plague in a certain part of the Varisian population, despite various attempts and experiments to get them sick. Then Quint's eye falls on a document with the doctor's name on it. Some letters stand out in the dim light Dave Saulus, D-V-L-S, doctor Devils, of course!

The office connects to the smaller upstairs sick ward, in which the patients weren't really sick, as Balian discovered earlier on. These must be the immune Varisian guinea pigs on which Saulus has been experimenting. Puk listens and hears one man walking around in the room. Balian joins his friends and draws his greatsword, while Quint signals to him that the enemy has to be taken alive.

Puk pushes the handle down and clicks the door open, before slipping back in the dark corner. From inside the small sick ward he hears footsteps coming closer. A masked doctor stands off against the light in the background as he pushes open the door and peers into the dark of the office. Quint surprises the man with a cacophonous call, while Balian jumps up and hits him hard on the head with the pommel of his sword. The physician drops to the floor, unconscious. The patients in the room beyond do not react to this disturbance, they have obviously been drugged.

The companions carry out the doctor, rejoin Sjo and make for the old fishery with their unconscious prisoner. They strip him of his clothes and discover a lot of strange vials and even a formula book in his leather coat. So, this man is an alchemist who uses chemistry to do his magic. Sjo throws a bucket of water in the man's face to wake him up, alchemy for beginners, lesson one.

At first the prisoner will only give up his name, Lennerd Brand. For the rest he feigns innocence. "We're here to help the people, that's all."

"Not a lot of help you are, then. I only saw dead leaving the hospital. Aren't you supposed to cure the sick? Well, I guess that is not what good old doctor Devils prescribes, is it?" Sjo spits.

"I can't help it that those people are just too far gone to be saved. We do our best. It's not like doctor Devils can perform miracles ... eh ... doctor Saulus, I mean."

"Haha, you stupid Urgathoan scum, nothing like a slip of the tongue to get to the truth", Sjo smiles as he burns the man in the leg with his power over fire. "Now spill the beans or suffer the consequences of your lies!"

"Here's the truth for you, you ignorant fool! Urgathoa's wrath will burn you all!" the doctor now scream madly.

"The only one who'll be burning with Urgathoa is you. Tell me, do you also dance around on skeletal legs in the afterlife when you're an Urgathoa hugger?" Sjo mocks.

"Just know that I'll be using these legs to dance on your eternally tortured soul. I give my life willingly to the Pallid Princess! She'll reserve a place of honor in her realm when I arrive after all we've achieved in this backwater city. Seldom has the queen of disease been served so well! Our success here will be the stuff of legends!" the doctor laughs.

"Tell us about your plans!"

"Never, I'll die before helping you."

"Well, I wouldn't say you'd have to die, that would be terribly inconvenient for both of us. Wouldn't you rather tell me all about the glory of Urgathoa right now?" Quint intervenes as he spins his verbal web of fascination again. The glare in the doctor's eyes tells him he is successful. "Now, if I can be so bold as to make a suggestion, why don't you tell me what you know about Doctor Devil's plans."

This time Quint's suggestion takes hold and the captured physician confesses: "Well, we arrived on that ship, the Delivery, but we got off before we reached the city, all except Rois. He was chosen as Urgathoa's champion, to sink the boat in the river mouth. We made it to shore and revealed ourselves a couple of days later as the 'doctors' who were supposed to fight the plague. We had to pretend that someone from Cheliax had teleported us in, you know, to explain how we got here so fast."

"And who are you working for?"

"I don't know, we get our orders from Doctor Devils and ... Lady Andaisin." The tone in the man's voice betrays that he is in awe of Urgathoa's highpriest.

"And where is she right now? Where are all of the doctor, actually?" Quint asks.

"There is a secret basement below the warehouse, if you switch a lever in the lift, it can take you down to our new temple! They say that this underground complex was used for smuggling in the past. The former owner of the building was none too happy when he had to give it up, Arkomer or something he was called. Anyway, that's where my brothers and sisters are, as is Lady Andaisin."

"And what are you doing to those patients, especially the Varisian ones on the first floor?"

"It turns out that some Varisians are immune, we've been trying to find out how to get them sick, but nothing has worked so far. They are probably too stupid to realize that they should get sick, huhu, even rats know better", Lennerd replies with a cocky smile on his face as he stares at Balian. "Like that dimwit with the big sword, looks as stupid, but also as healthy as a horse."

Balian can't control himself and smacks the man in the head: "That will wipe that smirk of your face!" Unfortunately his aggressive action snaps the doctor out of Quint's suggestion. As it sinks in that he just gave away so many secrets, the man's face turns bitter. "What foul trickery did you throw over me? You will get no more answers out of me! Urgathoa damn you all to eternal hunger!"

"We have all we need from you, mister Brand. We'll be sure to tell your friends how cooperative you were. I'm sure they'll appreciate it", Sjo nods. "We'll be back for you later." At that Puk saps the man on the head, knocking him out again.

With only two to three hours left before sunrise, the companions know that they have to act quickly. Come morning, the physicians in the Hospice will discover that Saulus' office was broken into and that one of their own is missing. It will not be hard to link this break-in to the pseudodragon 'heroes' who were hanging around the backdoor earlier tonight. If they don't act immediately, the companions might have red Mantis assassins on their tails tomorrow. If there is still some element of surprise left, it is now!

Quint puts on the doctor's coat, hat and mask to make him look like one of the physicians. Sjo no longer objects to breaking the royal decree on this point, obviously the doctors are guilty of a worse crime: spreading the disease purposefully. The four heroes return to the warehouse. If they can bypass the ground floor, they will not have to face any innocent Korvosan guards or Gray Maidens. Not unless some of them are down in the underground temple as well, but then they won't be able to claim innocence anymore. Using the hole in the roof, the companions get back to the office on the first floor. Across from the sick room is the wooden elevator. Puk examines it and finds the switch that the doctor told them about. Pulling the ropes ever so quietly, Balian slowly descends the platform into the basement.

The way off the platform is blocked by a door. Puk listens at it but hears nothing. Time for some serious action! Then he pushes the door open.

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The young heroes of Korvosa keep an eye on the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden for the rest of the day. In the evening all the doctors who have been patrolling the city return. While the guards accompanying them leave after a few minutes for their barracks, the physicians themselves do not come out of the warehouse again. So they must have their own sleeping quarters in the building, possibly in the backroom, which the companions haven't seen yet. Most doctors also bring some new patients with them, who will probably occupy the beds of the dozen cadavers that are carried off by body carters before the sun sets. However, no patient has left the Hospice alive or cured today.

The companions wait for darkness before attempting to break in. Their goal is to get Puk into Doctor Saulus' office to compare his handwriting to the plague plan notes they found in Lost End. The huge backdoor to the Hospice is unguarded. Puk puts his keen ear to the wood and hears nothing on the other side. If a dozen doctors are staying in there, they must either be very quiet or already fast asleep. The halfling also fails to see any light coming through the cracks of the door. He feels quite comfortable that there is no one in there, at least not awake. The door is barred, so Quint uses his magic bell to open it. When no reaction comes to the bar dropping on the ground, Puk looks inside: this backroom is an unlit loading bay that is filled with empty crates, containers and barrels, the remnants of the Arkona venture that occupied this building in the past. Two curtains lead to the main hall. Puk slips in the backroom and peeks under the heavy drapes into the sick ward. There are two doctors left to look after the patients and a pair of Korvosan guards plus three Gray Maidens to provide security. The halfling informs his friends outside. Quint hopes that things in the ward will get even quieter (and hopefully even less crowded) in the middle of the night, so the young men decide to come back after midnight.

7 Erastus 4708

The companions return after a couple of hours. The backdoor is still open, so Puk slips back into the loading area. The number of guards and doctors in the sick ward hasn't changed, but the two doctors are no longer among the patients' beds, they have taken a seat at a table in the back instead. Damn, now they are effectively blocking Puk's path to the stairs! The halfling quietly calls over Quint, who might be able to draw the physicians back into the main area with a ghost sound spell. Unfortunately, the bard stumbles into one of the crates in the unlit loading bay: "THUCK!". He does not hesitate and quickly runs out again, pushing the door shut behind him. Puk tries to hide behind a container as one of the Gray Maidens pulls away the curtain and peers into the backroom. Lighting her way with a flickering torch, she walks over to Puk's hiding place and discovers the little rogue in the corner with a sheepish smile on his face.

"Who are you? Get out of there!" the woman orders. Puk stands up and shrugs, but then jumps between the lady's legs and bolts for the backdoor, which his friends open from the outside. The Gray Maiden pursues him and suddenly finds herself facing four men instead of one.

"We are the pseudodragons, heroes of the city, and we're here on official business", Quint tries.

"Official business my ass! ALARM! I'm giving you one chance only, lay down your arms, NOW!" the woman cries as she holds out her blade threateningly. She quickly gets the company of her two colleagues, the two Korvosan guards and one plague doctor. One of the other Gray Maidens is clearly an officer, who immediately takes command. Quint and Sjo pull out Kroft's charter and wave it in her face, claiming they are here to examine potential treason by the queen's physicians.

"If you are sent by the Guard, you are under our orders as well, since we are in charge of all military forces in the city now", the officer throws back.

"Well, we're not actually with the Guard as such, so we're not really taking orders from anyone, but we are on the same side", Quint replies. "You see, I know that you are loyal to her majesty, the magnificent Ileosa. But I fear that both her majesty and you are being misled by darker forces, forces we should actually fight together." Resorting to his powers of bardic persuasion Quint tries to fascinate the commander and the Gray Maiden who discovered Puk with his words. He is obviously successful, as she relaxes her stance and seems prepared to listen to him. "Maybe I might even suggest that you help us", Quint tries, attempting to pull the officer further in his charming ploy, but she resists his wiles now. Puk, Sjo and Balian feel the tension dropping and take advantage of the moment to bid the mesmerized guards goodnight, slipping away around the corner.

Realizing that he will not be able to get this Gray Maiden to cooperate with his plans, Quint changes his tactics now. "I guess it was all just an innocent mistake, I see that now", Quint continues, activating his innocence spell to boost his bluff. "We were clearly mistaken, I apologize for disrupting you. You're doing an excellent job, by the way, keep up the good work! I'm sorry again for the misunderstanding, I'll just take my leave now." The bard slowly walks backwards to the corner of the warehouse while sweet talking the guards. Then he slips around the building as well, leaving the stupefied security at the backdoor. That was close!

This was the first time in my long roleplaying career that I actually saw the bardic powers of persuasion being put to full use. We usually have a bard in our parties who makes ample use of skill in diplomacy, but every time we've also written down those special powers of fascinate and suggestion on our character sheets, which look great on paper but never actually make it to play. To see them being used with such effectiveness in what should ended in a combat situation, was fantastic. Okay, the commander made her save against the suggestion, but then Quint followed with a 46 (natural 20 plus innocence spell bonus) on his bluff, to diffuse the situation and make his escape. Good times!

Neat, thank you.

BTW, this was my version of the Shingle chase. Trinia only made it halfway through, though, but having the chase and its obstacles visually in front of you was a big plus for me.

Some more details:

Is there a way for you to just post the complete map so we can see it without needing the maptool?

PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 6 (swashbuckler)
Init +5; Senses Perception +9
AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 24, uncanny dodge
hp 50 (5HD)
Fort +6, Ref +11 (evasion), Will +3, +2 morale bonus vs. fear, +2 racial bonus vs. fear
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee main hand silver short sword +2 (small) +11 (1d4+2/19-20) and off-hand masterwork short sword (small) +10 (1d4/19-20)
Melee masterwork sap (small) +12 (1d4 non-lethal/x2)
Ranged shortbow (small) +10 (1d4/x3)
Ranged sling staff (halfling) (small) +10 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +4; CMB +3; CMD 18
Atk Options Sneak Attack +3d6
Abilities Str 10, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
Feats Dodge, Martial Weapon Proficiency (Halfling Sling Staff), Nimble Moves, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (short sword)
Skills Acrobatics +16, Acrobatics (Jump) +12, Appraise +6, Bluff +7, Climb +7, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +13, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +12, Intimidate +4 (+0 vs. medium-sized), Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +3, Knowledge (Local) +6, Linguistics +4, Perception +9, Perform (Percussion Instruments) +6, Ride +5, Sense Motive +4, Sleight of Hand +11, Stealth +15, Use Magic Device +4
Possessions small masterwork short sword; small silver short sword +2; studded leather +2 (small); Shortbow (Small); Halfling Sling Staff (Halfling); small masterwork sap, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1

Sneak Attack (Ex) If you can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from your attack, you can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Your attack deals 3d6 points of extra damage.
Bleeding Attack (Ex) A rogue with this ability can cause living opponents to bleed by hitting them with a sneak attack. This attack causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for each die of the rogue's sneak attack. Bleeding creatures take that amount of damage every round at the start of each of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application of any effect that heals hit point damage. Bleeding damage bypasses any damage reduction the creature might possess.

Fast-Talker You had a knack at getting yourself into trouble as a child, and as a result developed a silver tongue at an early age. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Bluff checks, and Bluff is always a class skill for you.
Personal Addiction You were the addict. You blame Gaedren for your brush with death and hate how his drugs are causing similar problems among other youths. Fortunately, your body recovers quickly from toxins, and you have a +1 bonus on Fortitude saving throws.


I've been experimenting with the Magic set editor to make my own cards. It's fun. I really like the option of adding campaign-related special cards to the 'Risk' game for storytelling flavor. I would like to playtest this version of the Battle for Korvosa and see how it plays out. It will be years in real time before my players get to the final installment of the AP, so I have more than enough time to try it out.

I have some questions/remarks:

  • Isn't the queen at a disadvantage when you allow redistributing troops during the Fortify action? If there are five heroes, they can redistribute in five places per turn, while the queen can only do that in one. Seems like a serious strategic disadvantage.
  • Do you actually place each hero on the board and does he move with the troops, or is the hero the commander who 'stays in his base camp to order the troops' and who is not actually represented on the board? Because I'd love to see the hero present as well. The hero's boon could only work in the quarter in which he is present, or each hero could have a general boon and an extra boon for the units in his quarter.
  • You have one ally per district who - I'm not 100 % clear on this - stays in the landmark quarter(?). Would the game also work when you'd just mix the allies with the troops and allow them to move across the board. Their boons would only work in the square in which they are present. Heroes could unlock certain allies when they free a certain square or district, other allies could be added from the beginning (this would actually have to be decided based on the story so far ...) It would allow for a more dynamic use of allies. When attacked, normal troops would be targeted first, then the ally and then a hero (if present). You could also rule (on a storytelling level) that allies are not destroyed, but rather captured (or maybe even forced to flee).

If gone over your rules, I'm not a game board player, although I know Risk and this seems like a Risk plus game. It certainly fascinates me.

I suppose you actually played it, how did it turn out for you? Was it balanced? Did your players manage to get the upper hand?

I have two questions for now:
- How many reinforcements does Ileosa get, first you say she gets 15 and then you say 10?
- Can troops cross diagonally when four quarters touch or can they only go to the two touching quarters?

BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 6 (urban ranger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +10
AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 19
hp 66 (6 HD)
Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +4
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee greatsword +1 (two handed) +12/+7 ((two handed) 2d6+8/19-20)
Melee masterwork dagger +12/+7 (1d4+5/19-20)
Ranged masterwork longbow (composite/strength rating+4) +10/+5 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +6; CMB +11; CMD 25
Ranger Spells (CL 3rd):
1st (2/day) (DC 12) - lead blades, longstrider
Abilities Str 21, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 7
Special Qualities Favored Community Korvosa +2, Track +3, Trapfinding +3
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, Favored Defense (human +2 AC and CMD), Following Step, Power Attack (-2 atk, +4 dmg / +6 dmg on 2-handed), Step Up
Skills Acrobatics +8, Climb +8, Disable Device +12, Heal +5, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (Geography) +2, Knowledge (Local) +7, Perception +10, Perform (Act) +3, Ride +6, Sense Motive +1, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +11, Survival +5, Survival (Follow or identify tracks) +7, Swim +8
Possessions greatsword +1; ring of protection +1; mithral breastplate +1; amulet of natural armor +1; belt of physical might (+2 str/con); cloak of resistance +1; wand of cure light wounds; masterwork dagger; masterwork longbow (Composite/Strength Rating+4)
Favored Community Korvosa (Ex) You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks. An urban ranger traveling through his favored community leaves no trail and cannot be tracked (although he may leave a trail if he so desires).
Favored Enemy (Human +4, Undead +2) (Ex) You gain a +4/+2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks when using these skills against humans/undead. Likewise, you get a +4/+2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against such creatures.
Trapfinding (Ex) At 3rd level, an urban ranger can find and disable traps, as the rogue class feature of the same name.

Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).
Child of the Streets You grew up on the streets of a large city, and as a result you have developed a knack for picking pockets and hiding small objects on your person. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sleight of Hand checks, and Sleight of Hand is always a class skill for you.
Reactionary You were bullied often as a child, but never quite developed an offensive response. Instead, you became adept at anticipating sudden attacks and reacting to danger quickly. You gain a +2 trait bonus on Initiative checks.

SPYDER, dog companion level 6, N Medium animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8
AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed 17 (+3 Dex, +7 natural, +1 Dodge)
hp 62 (6d8+24)
Fort +8, Ref +8 (evasion), Will +3, evasion
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +11/+6 (1d6+4)
Abilities Str 19, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 23 (27 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +7 (+15 jump), Perception +8, Survival +6 (+10 scent tracking), Swim +10
Possessions amulet of natural armor +1


QUINTILIAN, CG Male Human bard 6 (court bard)
Init +2; Senses Perception +8
AC 20, touch 13, flat-footed 18, Combat Expertise
hp 44 (4HD)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +5, +4 vs. Bardic Performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee short sword +1 of frost +7 (1d6+3+1d6/19-20)
Melee longsword +6 (1d8+2/19-20)
Melee masterwork whip +7 (1d3+2)
Melee sap +6 (1d6+2)
Ranged shortbow +6 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 19
Known Bard Spells (CL 6th):
2nd (4/day) (DC 15) - cacophonous call, gallant inspiration, heroism, mirror image
1st (5/day) (DC 14) - cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, innocence, memory lapse, sleep, timely inspiration, touch of gracelessness
0th (at will) (DC 13) - detect magic, ghost sound, light , lullaby, mage hand, message, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic
Abilities Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 17
Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Lingering Performance, Skill Focus (Perform Comedy)
Skills Acrobatics +10, Appraise +6, Bluff +16, Climb +5, Diplomacy +15, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +8, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Knowledge (Geography) +6, Knowledge (History) +9, Knowledge (Local) +14, Knowledge (Local/Art & music) +15, Knowledge (Nature) +6, Knowledge (Nobility) +9, Linguistics +11, Perception +8, Perform (Act) +8, Perform (Comedy) +15, Perform (Dance) +7, Perform (Oratory) +12, Perform (Sing) +8, Perform (String Instruments) +7, Sense Motive +12, Sleight of Hand +7, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +5, Use Magic Device +12
Possessions short sword +1 of frost; chain shirt +1; masterwork buckler; longsword; masterwork whip; sap; wand of feather step; wand of cure light wounds; wand of mage armor; Shortbow; amulet of natural armor +1; Wand of magic missile (CL 3rd); Scrolls of levitate, gentle repose, false life, knock; Dust of appearance; ring of fire resistance (10); ring of protection +1; cloak of resistance +1; Key-Lock Killer's bell

Bardic Performance You can use this ability for 17 rounds per day.
Versatile Performance (Comedy / Oratory) (Ex) You can use your bonus in the Perform (Comedy / Oratory) skill in place of your bonus in the Bluff or Intimidate / Diplomacy or Sense Motive skills.
Countersong (Su) You can counter magic effects that depend on sound.
Distraction (Su) You can use your performance to counter magic effects that depend on sight.
Fascinate (Su) You can use your performance to cause up to 2 creatures to become fascinated with you (Will save DC 15).
Heraldic Expertise (Ex) A court bard gains a bonus equal to half his bard level on Diplomacy, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nobility) checks. 2/day, the court bard can also reroll a check against one of these skills, though he must take the result of the second roll even if it is worse.
Satire (Su) A court bard can use performance to undermine the confidence of enemies who hear it, causing them to take a -1 penalty on attack and damage rolls (minimum 1) and a -1 penalty on saves against fear and charm effects as long as the bard continues performing. This penalty increases by -1 at 5th level and every six levels thereafter. Satire is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that uses audible components. This performance replaces inspire courage.
Mockery (Su) A court bard of 3rd level or higher can subtly ridicule and defame a specific individual. The bard selects one target who can hear his performance. That individual takes a -2 penalty on Charisma checks and Charisma-related skill checks as long as the bard continues performing.

Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).
Fast-Talker You had a knack at getting yourself into trouble as a child, and as a result developed a silver tongue at an early age. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Bluff checks, and Bluff is always a class skill for you.
Child of the Street You grew up on the streets of Korvosa, and as a result you have developed a knack for picking pockets and hiding small objects on your person. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sleight of Hand checks, and SoH is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in SoH.


SHAOBAN (SJO), LN Male Human oracle 6
Init +0; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Perception +2, Clouded Vision
AC 23, touch 11, flat-footed 23
hp 44 (6HD)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +8
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee cold iron mace +2 (heavy) +10 (1d8+5)
Base Atk +4; CMB +7; CMD 18
Known Oracle Spells (CL 6th):
3rd (4/day) (DC 17) - cure serious wounds, dispel magic, fireball
2nd (6/day) (DC 16) - cure moderate wounds, hold person, resist energy, restoration (lesser), weapon of awe
1st (7/day) (DC 15) - burning hands, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, magic weapon, protection from chaos, remove fear, shield of faith
0th (at will) (DC 14) - create water, detect magic, purify food and drink, read magic, spark, stabilize
Abilities Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 19
Feats Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Combat Casting, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace)
Skills Acrobatics -6, Bluff +8, Climb -3, Diplomacy +14, Heal +8, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (Local) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +8, Linguistics +0, Perform (Act) +9, Perform (sing) +9, Sense Motive +10, Sleight of Hand -1, Swim -3
Possessions cold iron mace +2 (heavy); ring of protection +1; full plate +1; amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +1, belt of giant strength +2, wand of cure light wounds, wand of remove disease; buckler

Clouded Vision Your eyes are obscured, making it difficult for you to see.
Flame Mysteries You draw upon the divine mystery of Flame to grant your spells and powers.
Touch of Flame (Su) As a standard action, you can perform a melee touch attack that deals 1d6 points of fire damage + 1 per two oracle levels (1d6+2). Alternatively you can use this power to ignite your weapon as a free action, adding the same amount of fire damage to each of your weapon attacks during that round. You can use this ability a number of times or rounds per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier (7).
At 11th level, any weapon that you wield is treated as a flaming weapon, adding 1d6 points of fire damage + 1 per two oracle levels.
Molten Skin (Ex) You gain resist fire 5

Trained actor You trained as a child to be an actor. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (act) and Perform (act) is always a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in Perform (act).
Child of the Streets You grew up on the streets of a large city, and as a result you have developed a knack for picking pockets and hiding small objects on your person. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sleight of Hand checks, and Sleight of Hand is always a class skill for you.
Ease of Faith Your mentor, the person who invested your faith in you from an early age, took steps to ensure that you understood that what powers your divine magic is no different than that which powers the magic of other religions. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks, and Diplomacy is always a class skill for you.

6 Erastus 4708

With Madam Nesia in charge of the household things run a lot smoother (and cleaner) at the villa. At breakfast the companions go over their plans for the day. They want to investigate the queen's physicians, to see how far the corruption has spread.

They head over to the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden, the warehouse that was turned into the physicians' headquarters. Just as the arrive, they see a patrol with a pair of doctors leaving. Quint casts a detect magic and notices that both doctors are wearing an enchanted mask. Next the heroes go inside, where they are promptly stopped at the front desk by a burly nurse. The woman is wearing leather gloves and a cloth in front of her mouth. "Get in line!" she shouts, pointing to the six sick people who are already here. A closed door behind the desk provides entry to the main hall, but a Korvosan guard blocks the way.

Quint demands to see Doctor Dave Saulus, but the nurse refuses to let him through, until Sjo pulls out the Field Marshal's charter and bullies the woman into agreeing. She leads the companions through the doorway into the warehouse's vast interior which has been converted into one gigantic sick ward. The stench of alcohol and sickness chokes each breath. Rows of stained cots cram the floor, every bed filled with its own pitiful story: men and women of all walks are groaning as the final stages of the plague consume them. The ceiling of the room is nearly 30 feet high, though a series of catwalks span the room at 20 feet. Four dark robed doctors hover amid the sick, their avian masks giving them an unnerving resemblance to crows waiting to be fed. Quint spots magic in each of the facial covers. Four Korvosan guards and one Gray Maiden walk the floor, while three more Gray Maidens patrol the catwalks above.

The nurse takes the visitors to a staircase in the back and precedes them to the fist floor. There is a second smaller sick room upstairs, in which one of the masked doctors immediately reacts badly to the companions' arrival. Nurse Brunhilde tries to calm the man's protest and urges him to let the guests see Doctor Saulus. During this brief conversation Quint notices that the sick in here are all of Varisian stock, while the doctors are all wearing magic masks again. Puk spots a leather strap bound to a patient's wrist: these poor wretches have been tied down, possibly for their own safety, but the halfling still feels bad about it. Balian gives one patient a quick look-over and is surprised to see that the man shows no signs of the plague, although he looks sedated. The ranger decides to keep quiet about it for now, but he will definitely have to inform his friends of this later.

Before the protesting physician can utter more objections, Sjo storms through to the back and bursts into the office of doctor Saulus. This time even the head physician is wearing an avian beak over his nose, which again radiates magic. The companions demand that the doctor gives them an update, but the proud Chelaxian seems very displeased at their sudden arrival and is very curt in his answers. He sees no reason to give any explanation to these annoying upstarts and quickly shows them the door. Puk wants to compare the doctor's handwriting to the plague plan from Lost End and makes an attempt to snatch one of the papers on the table unnoticed. He fails miserably at it, angering the doctor even more, who has the intruders escorted out immediately.

The companions contemplate what to do next: Quint wants to kidnap some doctors and force them to talk, but Sjo objects as the recent plague charter explicitly forbids attacking or impersonating the doctors or the Gray Maidens. The lawful healer wants more evidence to legitimize acting against the queen's agents. It might be best to wait for nightfall and sends in Puk to gather more clues. Next the heroes gear up for further adventure by selling off their loot and buying three more wands of cure light wounds. Quint also goes to the library to do research on the Red Mantis, the doctors from Cheliax and Lady Andaisin. He finds no reference to an official medical guild in Cheliax, making him wonder where Ileosa recruited her physicians from. There is no information on Lady Andaisin either, which does not come as a big surprise, since most of the church of Urgathoa consists of underground cults. It makes sense that the names of their high priests remain shrouded in mystery.

Another secret organization is the Red Mantis, on which Quint finds only general data. The assassins of the order wear red and black armor with a helmet shaped like a mantis head. It is said that no wall is thick enough, no bodyguard tough enough or no safehouse well enough hidden to keep the Red Mantis from their prey. They take little notice of social or political status, seeing all marks as equal if the client pays the right price. They do refuse, however, to take contracts on rightful monarchs, out of respect for their patron deity, Achaekek, who views monarchs as the earthly parallel of gods. They demand high payment, either in the form of gold or the promise of future collaboration and, once struck, they never go back on a deal. Contacting them is tricky as there are no direct channels to reach them. They is no mention of them ever having been in Korvosa.

The flesh golem roars as it closes in for the attack. The companions are ready for it, though, having read Rotlh's notes. None of them has an adamantine weapon, so they expect to have trouble getting through its thick hide. They do have a very important advantage, however, fire and ice! Sjo can enhance his strikes with flames and Quint's weapon crackles with frost. Both types of magic are supposed to slow the creature.

The companions decide to draw the golem into the entrance cave, where they will be able to surround it. Sjo casts a burning hands on it, while he and his friends get into position. The creature follows in slow motion. Quint also prepares by boosting Balian, Sjo and himself with heroism and Puk sneaks behind the assailant, sneaking through the shadows. The stitched man finally manages to start hostilities, but his first swing goes high and misses Balian completely. The heroes now encircle the creature and strike from all sides, discovering that its resistance to non-adamantine weapons is not as tough as they expected. Instead of the dreaded encounter to the death, the companions find themselves within the grasp of an easy victory. Sure, the golem manages to score a couple of hits, but since fire of ice keep it slowed, it does not pose much of a threat. A few breaths later it topples to the floor. Quint can't get over how easy this was, considering how complicated and expensive it is to create such a being.

The heroes explore the caves further. The tunnel that smells of sea air leads to a huge cave where docks have been built. One big ship could possibly moor here, although it would be treacherous to navigate the water outside the cliffs. It would definitely take an experienced captain to get a vessel into this cave. Along the walls are some left-over supplies, as well as empty barrels and crates. A small prison to the side holds numerous dead rats.

That leaves only one tunnel, one that reeks of death. With their cloaks in front of their mouths the companions go down the corridor. There is one narrow room at the end that serves as a waste pit filled with hundreds of decaying rodents and a fair number of rotting human corpses. Balian fears that his sister might be one of them, so, despite the overwhelmingly sickening stench, he wants to examine the bodies closer. There turn out to be eleven children here, all girls ... so the lambs that Rolth and the dark-haired lady bought from Gaedran Lamm were sacrificed as guinea pigs! The thought alone leaves the companions foaming at the mouth with anger. Eight corpses are adults, six of which were female as well. Only two had black hair, like Balian's sister, but these two were too old to be Alika. Still, this cruelty will have to be avenged!

The companions use what is left of the day to make their way back to the Graul hunting lodge, where they spend the night in the barn once again.

Level up: level 6!

5 Erastus 4708

The companions rise early in the morning and fire their horses on to take them home as fast as possible. They reach the city as the last light slips across the horizon. When they approach Korvosa, they notice two columns of smokes rising from the city: one in the south and another one, more diffused, in the north. Sjo asks a city guard about them. Apparently the number of deaths has increased so much that the Gray District has taken to burning the corpses, explaining the smoke in the south. The fires in the north have another source, though. Since the situation in Old Korvosa has turned so bad, orders have been issued to quarantine the entire district. All the bridges over the Narrows of Saint Alika are being torched, leaving only the one stone bridge, that will be guarded by the Gray Maidens, who will also patrol the shore line to make sure no one sneaks across.

The companions decide to look into the situation later tonight. They have been wondering who to trust with the information they gathered in Lost End. Field Marshal Cressida Kroft seems like an obvious choice, but they fear that she will feel obliged to inform the Castle. The queen is still an unclear factor: is she behind this evil or is she an innocent victim? Her behavior at Trinia's trial certainly does not speak to her defense. So that leaves Vencarlo Orisini: the fencing master is definitely on the same side as the companions and his connection to Blackjack, the caped crusader, might prove valuable. Since Vencarlo lives in Old Korvosa, the companions will be able to check out the situation in the north of the city at the same time.

First the four young friends head to their villa, to freshen up and have dinner. Madam Nesia and the kids look healthy and they even have a guest: Meep Gildenglare, the old seamstress, is there again. She has taken the liberty of dressing the three boys in smart blue liveries, complete with the pseudodragon symbol and all. Nesia has been doing well, although she admits to sudden bursts of headache from time to time. She still cannot remember anything about her past.

After a heartening dinner the companions trek across the city to the stone bridge off Mainshore Boulevard in North Point into Old Korvosa. Upon arriving there, they stumble upon a battlefield. Four score of Gray Maidens have defended the bridge from angry citizens demanding to leave Old Korvosa. At least a hundred of them lie dead on the other bank of the Narrows. It quickly becomes clear that the Queen's guard will not allow anyone across, even if they bear the official seal from Field Marshal Kroft. So informing Vencarlo has suddenly become impossible, unless the heroes try to slip across unnoticed. They decide against it, at least for tonight; too much blood have been spilt already to risk another incident.

I'd wholeheartedly support this idea. Just make sure the rebellion isn't ready to react until book six.

I'll make sure to give it a thorough read; I've been musing over it for a while already and it looks very nice. The downloads work for me.

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The companions explore the rest of the upper floor. One bedroom - the size of the bed suggests that this once belonged to a child - was possibly used by Rolth. There are stains of blood on the table and decaying leftover pieces of flesh and hair on the floor. A bloody saw, needle and thread complete the picture of a necromancer's tools for golem crafting. Four other rooms show signs of occupation, a simple bedroom, a portrait gallery with two bedrolls and two master suites. The latter are quite clean: the four-poster bed in one has fresh sheets and smells almost sweet, while the king-sized double bed in the other room has been tidily made up. The drawer in a cabinet holds two very interesting letters.

Dear doctor Devils

We hear you are the man we need, a gentleman-killer who does not strike with physical weapons, but who resorts to more insidious devices like poison and germs. What we need is something between those two: we're looking for a poison that has the symptoms of an ordinary disease, but that cannot be treated with disease fighting magic. The clinical picture has to be realistic enough to make everyone believe that the victim is just ill, while the outcome - let's be very clear about this - has to be fatal! Deliver this and we will make you rich. There might even be more in store for you if you prove successful.

Although it is not dated, the second letter was clearly written later:

Dear doctor Devils

You have truly served us well. Our new assignment will undoubtedly be more up your alley. We want you to infect Korvosa with the plague. We'll send over high priestess Andaisin of Urgathoa to aid you in this task. She'll be carrying the disease in living form. Accompany her to your 'new home', an abandoned villa on the south coast of the Bay of Korvosa. There you'll be able to work in peace. Lady Andaisin will give you the details on how to proceed from there.

Both letters have been signed with a red symbol that looks like a big letter 'N'. Quint wonders if it's some kind of rune, but then he notices that the mark actually consists of two insectoid legs: the symbol of the Red Mantis, a group of very accomplished and tenacious assassins for hire who worship the mantis god Achaekek! The bard has never heard of any of these dreaded slayers operating in Korvosa, just like he never picked up any rumors of a secret sect of Urgathoa 'lovers'. The name 'Andaisin' does not sound familiar either, but if she's a highpriest who can cast geas, she must be very dangerous indeed.

The portrait gallery was also used to sleep in, as there are two bedrolls on the floor. The ground is also covered in wood chips, the result of someone carving wood. One of the bedrolls holds a couple of half-finished dolls. Balian feels himself choking as he looks at little works of art: his sister used to make dolls like these, although these models show a greater mastery of the craft - which would be expected after five years. One of the puppets depicts a boy, holding the hand of a smaller girl; there is a puppy at his feet ... Could it be? Is his sister Alika still being held by Rolth? Oh, how he will let that stinking necromancer pay!

There are more rooms in the attic, probably servants' quarters of old, where at least a dozen people spent their nights until a few weeks ago.

Next the heroes descend to the basement level. The large kitchen and partially stocked pantry indicate that at least two dozen people were in the manor recently, although nothing suggests that they are still here now. There is another bedroom, the former kitchen staff's quarters, with four bunk beds that have also been used, bringing the total of used beds above thirty. A dusty wine cellar holds no more drinkable bottles, but Puk does discover a crack in the corner of one of the wine racks, which hides a pair of hinges. The racks swings forward, revealing a hidden compartment with a chest, thickly covered in dust. So whoever made this place their home for a couple of weeks did not unearth this Porphyria secret! The coffer contains 1,500 gold sails, a minor ring of fire resistance and a pouch with dust of appearance.

The room underneath the dining room also looks out over the bay through glass-stained windows, as it is situated in the cliff side. It houses a laboratory that has seen extensive use over the last months. All kinds of glassware, jars and pottery cover the workbenches, as well as several iron cages with dead rats, which fill the workshop with the foul odor of death and decay. Strapped to a chair is the rotting corpse of a man; although decomposition is well on its way, Balian can still make out signs of the plague on the cadaver. The far workbench holds a number of beak-shaped plague masks, identical to the physician's masks which the queen's doctors in Korvosa wear. Quint's knowledge of the arcane reveals that these were supposed to be enchanted with resistance to the plague. The leftover notes and materials suggest that some actually were, but those are not here anymore. Sjo and Quint wonder if the queen's physicians have been infiltrated with agents from Urgathoa. They should be easy to pick out: their masks will radiate magic.

As suspected, Sjo finds another staircase that winds all the way down to the sea level. It leads to a cave with two exits. The one to the right smells of the ocean, so the companions choose to go that way. A menacing grunt sounds from the dark ahead as a hideous monster composed of different body parts sewn together with thick string looms into view. So here is Rolth's pet!

The companions take the rest of the day to recover from their ordeal at the hands of the Graul family. They consider burning down the hunting lodge, but despite the horror that the ogrekin brought to the place, it is a decent and sturdily built edifice. In the end the heroes decide to spare the building and burn the corpses outside on a large funeral pyre instead. Dernal, the satyr they saved, and Quint's horse seem to have withstood the worse of the trauma. The goat-legged man leaves for the forest to rejoin his kin, nodding his head in gratitude one last time and Quint's riding animal seeks comfort among his three brothers.

4 Erastus 4708

You might recognize Lost End, the abandoned Porphyria manor, as my version of Foxglove Manor, a.k.a. Misgivings, from Rise of the Runelords' second installment The Skinsaw Murders. I always loved that building and since we'll never get round to playing RotR anyway, I used it for my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, just like I did with the Graul homestead.

The journey to Lost End takes just under three hours. The smell of the sea air and the cry of seagulls are the first signs that the companions are nearing their destination. Perched high above the ocean, on the edge of the cliffs, rests a stately manor house. Strong winds tear at the structure that looks poised for a suicide leap. That the manor clings to the top of the rocks is remarkable, as its far side hangs over a sheer drop down to the ocean below, a fall of over three hundred feet. The roof sags in several places and mold and mildew cake the walls. The house is crooked, its chimneys rise from various points among the rooftops, leaning like old men against the storm.

Four grinning gargoyles guard the front door and come to life when the companions approach. The demonic statues spread their stony wings and swoop down on the visitors. The heroes organize their defenses well and focus their attacks on one creature at a time, making short work of their enemies and minimizing the damage they take themselves. Since they have burned through every potion and wand that provides healing, they have to be careful with their resources, as only Sjo's and Quint's spells can cure wounds now.

The front door is barred from the inside, but the Key-Lock Killer's bell easily takes care of that obstacle. The entrance hall is large and runs through to another room at the end of the house, from where colored light streams in through beautiful stained-glass windows. A twelve-foot long monster towers over the visitors as they enter: its leathery wings spread out menacingly. The creature has the body of a giant lion, though its feline head is flanked by two more heads - a dragon's and a horned goat's - marking it as a chimera. The heroes draw their weapons before realizing that this fabled beast is not moving. It is a stuffed animal, a magnificent trophy from a long forgotten battle. The entrance hall sports other trophies along its walls, the heads of bears, boars and giant deer mounted on wooden display plaques. A lion's pelt covers the floor leading to the dining room in the back. A curving flight of stairs to the right winds up to the upper floor, and several doors provide entry to other rooms, their frames carved with scenes from the forest, the animals that inhabit the wilds and the hunters that chase them down. The house is definitely dirty, but the mold staining the floor, walls and ceiling does not carry the damp smell of decay that fifty years of degeneration should, suggesting that the place was aired not too long ago. Still, there are no signs of life anywhere now. The dining room in the back holds a large mahogany table. The cups and plates on it also show signs of recent use, no more than a couple of weeks ago. The stained glass in the windows is still intact and looks like excellent craftsmanship, but the colored glass blocks most of what would have been a breathtaking view of the Bay of Korvosa.

The companions make their way through the rest of the ground floor, including a dusty lounge and a ruined music room. The once-magnificent chandelier lies smashed on the floor, although the organ in the corner survived the crash. Still, half a century of disuse has not been kind on the instrument, which only produces false notes. The drawing room and library are cleaner and have obviously seen more use recently. The heroes discover notes on how to construct a flesh golem, including the creature's strengths and 'weaknesses'. The instructions also list the magic required to bring such a golem to life, with hard to find spells like geas and limited wish. The first would apparently be provided by someone called Andaisin, while the latter would come from a scroll. Quint suspects that these scribblings belonged to Rolth, the necromancer who took Balian's sister five years ago.

Sjo rummages through more molded novels that are left on the bookshelves and some papers on the desk. He finds a document entitled the plague plan, that details the procedure on how to approach the Korvosa with the Delivery. All passengers would leave the ship aboard rowing boats and make for the south of the city, while one person, named 'Rois', would stay on board and navigate the vessel into the mouth of the Jeggare River, where he would release the diseased rats, sink the boat and burn the evidence. The author of the note clearly had little respect for the suicide navigator, as he mocks the man for a fool.

On the upper floor of Lost End the heroes discover a shrine to Urgathoa in the room above the dining room. Four skeletal warriors guard the unholy altar. They throw themselves at the intruders, but like the gargoyles at the front door, they go down relatively easily, though not without delivering some vicious cuts with their rusted blades. Sjo heals his friends after the fight, but decides against patching up Spyder. The labrador sustained some gaping wounds and curing him would drain too many resources, so the companions leave the dog to guard the front door instead. The focal point in the improvised shrine is a statue of Urgathoa in front of the stained glass windows. Closer inspection reveals that this idol is actually a stone bust of a woman, named 'Lady Ulrika Porphyria', to which a skeletal lower body and arms were added.

I'll be inserting Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale after book 2. The heroes have to travel to the Vale to get an ingrediënt for the cure that an allied professor is cooking up. The module is 3.5 as well, just like CotCT, but the valley borders on Korvosa, so you could easily fit it in with some modification. It is also level appropriate for this point in the campaign: level 6.

After they have recovered from the fierce battle with Mammy Graul and her undead ogre spouse, the companions search the rest of the homestead. With Puk still blinded and Balian still weakened by Mammy's necromantic magic, they proceed cautiously. The horrifying experience continues as they discover a dining room where the chairs are crowned with skulls and stretches with humanoid leather and a kitchen that has eyes and animal heads boiling in a stew. The stench of decaying flesh and excrement hangs thick throughout the building, accompanied by buzzing hosts of bloated flies. The young heroes confront one more hillbilly in the backroom. Although his frame clearly suggests that he is full-grown, the childish look in his eyes betrays his simple mindset. The hairless, malformed ogrekin smiles naively through his wide mouth of ragged teeth before he realizes that the men entering are intruders. He drops the humanoid baby skulls he was playing with and roars aggressively, flailing about wildly with his arms. Still, four adversaries and a dog prove too much of a challenge and he goes down easily. Quint draws back in horror as he examines the crude paintings in blood of grinning devils and dismembered animals on the walls, thinking of his horse that is still missing. Sjo ponders over the baby skulls: their grotesque shape makes him wonder whether these were ogrekin babies. Since all of Mammy Graul's children they have encountered so far were male, these small crania might be all that remains of her female offspring, toys for her sons. The upper floor proves less of a horror, housing one filthy bedroom and a junk-littered attic.

That leaves one more area to explore: the basement. The stairs lead down to a small hallway with three doors. The door on the right draws Balian's attention, as he hears the scraping sound of someone sharpening a weapon and the frightened whinnying of a horse. Puk attempts to push the door open, but finds it bolted from the other side, alarming the creatures in the room of the heroes' arrival. Quint quickly pulls the key-lock killer's magic bell from his pack and rings it, making the bolt pop free. The room reeks of rot and old blood. Piles of gore-spattered skin lie heaped on the floor. Quint's horse has been tied down to a large table, its legs are broken and it looks in bad shape, but still alive. A fierce-looking ogrekin towers over the table; hair grows lopsided from the right side of his head rather than atop his brow, but his left side reveals a more gruesome abomination: a second half-formed head grows from the back of his neck. It lacks the intelligent glare of the main head, though, and limits itself to grunting and drooling. The ogrekin orders two ratlike dogs to attack and roars out a threat in a language none of the heroes understand, although Quint recognizes it as Giant, the tongue used by ogres. In the other corner of the room, behind a second table, is Mammy Graul, who's shrieking encouragements at her son in Giant as well. Whatever she is yelling, it does not sound cordial, although Quint can make out that she calls the two-headed savage 'Hucker'.

The heroes rush across the room and engage the creatures. Sjo focuses on the corpulent necromancer, noticing that most of the burns he inflicted earlier have been healed. His mace skitters off her layers of fat, but at least his presence menaces her enough to make her fizzle the spell she tries to cast. Puk stumbles forward blindly until he faces Hucker and one of the dogs. The luck of halflings protects him once more from the brute's deadly swing: the large metal hook tears into the ground instead of the unsighted rogue. At Quint's urging the halfling takes on a more defensive stance, since his puny attacks will not give the enemies more than a few scratches anyway. Meanwhile Balian and Spyder take out the second dog, but the ranger's decreased strength proves to be quite a handicap. Quint tries to support his friends by snapping around his whip and tripping Mammy and her son. The obese necromancer finds herself cornered by Sjo and resorts to her wand of magic missiles, fearing to lose more spells in melee. Even though she can fire only two force bolts at the Shoanti at a time, her continued efforts wear him down and finally force him to step back to heal himself.

In the meantime the other heroes focus their attacks on the big ogrekin. Quint and Balian inflict several deep cuts, but the brute retaliates, dealing a mighty blow to Quint and hitting down Spyder. Balian presses the attack and finally finishes off Hucker with a critical strike. Sjo no longer has the magic to outheal Mammy and hits the floor as well. Once he ratdog has been taken care of, Mammy is the only adversary left. Hatred burns in her eyes as she keeps on firing magic missiles at Puk now, who is next to lose consciousness. Balian now hits his greatsword into the fat monster's flesh, but it's Quint frosty shortsword that delivers the final blow and ends this horrific conflict.

The bard has just enough magic left to get Sjo and Puk back to their feet. Every potion, wand or spell that can provide healing has been depleted. Apart from Balian, who sustained no wounds in this last fight, all other heroes are barely alive. Getting some rest is a necessity, but first the companions make sure there are no more enemies about. Fortunately there aren't. As they search the rest of the basement, they find two more junk rooms and one large filthy prison that also serves as the building's cesspit. Manacled to the far wall is a strange man with goat-like legs and horns, a satyr. He is not conscious, although he is still breathing. His right arm has been chopped off, leaving only a bloody stump. This must have been the 'treat' Mammy Graul was chewing on when the heroes first surprised her. The companions free the faun and take him outside, where Sjo and Balian bind his wounds. The exhausted young adventurers spend the night in the barn at the side of their horses.

3 Erastus 4708

The companions take the rest of the day to recuperate and heal their wounds. Fortunately, Mammy Graul was smart enough to keep around at least one bottled cure to her own blinding magic in the form of a potion of remove blindness, which repairs Puk's sight, while Sjo's magic gives Balian his strength back. Quint's horse is healed of its broken legs and the heroes carefully bring back the satyr to consciousness. He is traumatized by this horrid experience, but Quint's kind words and music restore enough sanity so he can communicate. His name is Dernal, a satyr who lives here in the wilds. When he realizes that the threat has ended, he asks his rescuers if they have found his emerald necklace. This prompts a closer search of the lodge which reveals a secret cache in Hucker's basement room. A treasure chest holds some money and jewelry, as well as a pair of magical bracers of lesser archery.

It looks very nice indeed!

I'm happy to see you found a forum to tell your version of CotCT, Olondir, and even happier that you found it somewhere where I can be a lurker and read along. It is a very nice read so far.

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