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Human on Flying Carpet

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Seven Days to the Grave is a favorite among many AP readers. The mood of the adventure surely contributes to the adventure's appeal. To enhance the atmosphere in the city, I like adding some random street encounters; just a few scenes the PCs witness in the streets of the city to create the right mood. Here are some of my ideas, but I'd love to hear more suggestions.

Note: in my campaign the plague is being spread by rats, so rats play a big part in these street encounters.

  • A man has been tied to a post to receive a whipping. His back is badly scarred, he's hardly conscious and he will die within a day of thirst, hunger and exhaustion if no one frees him. His name is Lombard, a man who swipes the streets for a living. To make some extra money, he sells rats to the poorest in the city for food. Since the plague started he's been accused of selling infected rodents and he was punished for it by 'mob' justice.

  • A woman walks down the street with a bewildered look in her eyes and screams that the wererats in Korvosa are responsible for the plague.

  • A family exits a small house. The family members are carrying a heavy bag which they place on the ground in front of their house. The bag contains the body of the family's mother, who passed away from the plague this morning.

  • A hussler is walking down the street: "Rat skulls, get your rat skulls to protect your homes!" he cries. He's selling rat skulls to be placed over your door or window to ward off the living and infected rats.

  • A couple of tough guys have cornered a few rats and now they are trying to kill the animals by throwing daggers at them. A few old men are watching and they're making small bets on who will kill the next rodent. "Three pinch say that Enock will get the next one!"

  • A man with one eye and thin white hair is preaching on the corner of a street. He claims the plague is a punishment from Urgathoa, who is angry at having been excluded from the Pantheon of the Many. (Officially Urgathoa is among the 17 deities who have a shrine at the Pantheon of the Many, excluding him is a GM's prerogative). The old man says that the plague will only stops when every family in Korvosa has lost someone to the disease. A couple of women are listening with open mouths to the doomsayer.

  • Some kids run past the PCs. They have a dog in their midst. If the animal bites at them, they have to bite back. The children believe that they can avoid getting sick by being very active.

  • A woman empties her chamber pot on the street from the window on the first floor. There is a dead rat in the filth.

  • A group of girls is running from one girl who stumbles and groans like a zombie. When this girl corners one of the others, she starts 'ripping' at her. A sense motive DC 10 or a perception DC 12 is enough to tell that the girl is only pretending to be a zombie. The girls claims that they are already practicing for when the dead rise, which won't take long with all those people dying.

  • A mourning family follows in the wake of a body cart with a corpse under a blanket that is being taken to the Gray District. Bystanders give this procession a wide berth.

  • A toothless old man walks up to a PC and presses a simple wooden carving of Sarenrae in his hands: "May Sarenrae's light protect and purify you", he smiles. If the PCs try to talk to him, they find out that he is senile. Bystanders know that his name is Silly Matthew and advise the PCs to ignore him.

  • A swarm of flies covers three bodies next to the road, awaiting transport to the Gray District. One of the flies winds up in the mouth of one of the PCs. Some women who have witnessed this shy back, whispering something about bad omens.

  • A smelly vagrant is skinning dead rats and sewing together their skins without having worked the leather. He's making a filthy cloak which he tries to sell to the PCs. He wants five SP for it, but quickly lowers his prices to three SP, then one, then 5 CP.

  • A woman is burning blankets in the street and furiously starts sweeping out her own house. Her husband has just died and now that his body has been taken away to be buried, she's trying to clean her house so she won't get sick. A perception check DC 10 reveals that she already has a bit of a cough while sweeping.

Hi Erik

I greatly appreciate your effort to give us some insight in what's going on. We have all been eagerly awaiting the next line of Pathfinder Battle figs, and at least now we know why we have to wait. I'm definitely looking forward to your next reveal, but until then I wish you lots of rest and merry days over the holidays.

Some of the things I would like to see in a new line include an auroch ox, a generic Shoanti warrior and ordinary civilians. I also like the suggestion of a red mantis assassin.

Today there is another long line in front of Lavender's perfumery, but the companions do not approach the people in the same manner they did yesterday. Quint announces to everyone that Lavender's ointment does not work against the plague and Balian adds that they are here to officially close the shop. Since the customers have probably been waiting in the queue for hours, they are not inclined to leave just yet and stay put for now. When the guard at the door sticks out his head to enquire about the commotion Sjo order him to lay down his weapon in a very commanding tone. His words clearly affect the man, but he is still separated from the companions by a small crowd of people, so he chooses the safety of the inside instead and retreats in the shop. Weapons are drawn and now the bystanders realize that the situation is both serious and dangerous, which sends them running. The young heroes follow the guard and while Sjo orders most of the surprised customers out, Quint repeats that they are here to close the shop under the orders of Field Marshal Cressida Kroft. Tensions rise as the three bodyguards raise their weapons: the most burly of them threatens with his greatsword, while the other two wield a sword and shield. They defend the way to the counter, where the owner of the business, Vendra Loagrri, questions the four intruders' authority. For all she knows they are mobsters who want to steal her money. Sjo steps forward, booming that he's arresting her for obstructing justice, while Quint gives the three guards a final chance to surrender.

The man with the greatsword, obviously the leader of Lavender's security, slips his boss a quick glance before sending his mighty weapon in a sweeping arch on Quint. The bard staggers backward, bleeding profusely from a gaping wound. Balian tries to return the favor, but the fact that there are still a handful of customers left in the shop, cowering in the corners, makes him too cautious and allows his opponent to block his attack. Vendra jumps over the counter and pulls out a dagger that she flings in Quint's direction. Fortunately for the gravely wounded bard, the projectile misses him. Her other two guards bare down their longswords on Puk and Sjo. These opponents are no beginners and they hit hard. Sjo realizes the threat they pose and resorts to his magical arsenal for battlefield control. His hold person freezes his attacker in place. Quint seeks refuge behind his friends and patches up the worst of his cut with a cure light wounds. Meanwhile Puk and Spyder engage the third guard, seeing how the head of Vendra's security now focuses his powerful swings on Balian, succeeding in another bloody gash. Sjo takes the man out of the action as well by paralyzing him with another hold person, as Quints attempts a new spell on Vendra. His cacaphonous call nauseates her so she has to give up fighting as well. The heroes are now clearly in control of the battle: they put down the remaining guard, slip the greatsword from the leader's grasp and push him to the floor. He fights off the paralyzing effects of Sjo's magic and tries to make for his weapon, but the heroes bear down on him from all sides and hit him into unconsciousness. While Sjo stabilizes the bleeding guard to prevent him from dying, Vendra and her last guard surrender.

Puk tells the four cowering customers to get the hell out of here, but Balian stops one of them to get his identity, since he witnessed what transpired in here. The heroes heal their wounds and tie up Vendra and her men. Quint tries to get more information on the ointment from Rita, the frightened shop assistant, but she has little to offer and dreads acting against her boss. Sjo figures that he will find out more if he investigates the scene himself. He leads Vendra to the back of the building and uses her keys to unlock her personal living quarters and her laboratory. Here he finds confirmation for professor Sirtane Leroung's analysis of Lavender's Luxuriant Liniment: two barrels of animal fat, a bunch of cut up weeds and cheap perfume to scent the ointment. Still Vendra sustains her belief in the effectiveness of her cure, claiming that for a pharmacist there is no difference between weeds and herbs.

The companions decide to leave the rest in the hands of justice. They bring the four prisoners to the Longacre building to have them locked up and head over to the citadel to give a full report to Cressida Kroft. They also hand the Field Marshal all weapons and armor they confiscated, including some magical items. Kroft is actually surprised at how 'peacefully' and lawfully the companions concluded their business and admits that she made a mistake in not giving them a document to assert their authority. She suggests that the companions actually join the Korvosan Guard, although she quickly decides that might not be the best option, since the Gray Maidens were given full control over her soldiers.

Afterwards Sjo wants to follow up on the medic task force. In the Bank of Abadar he learns that Darb Tuttle is talking to the Jeggare and Arkona families to procure a building that can serve as a new hospital. He also informs professor Sirtane Leroung that his own illness has been conquered, affirming her suspicion and hope that the human body can fight off the plague. When she questions him about his 'treatment', he says that he's been using lesser restoration to keep up his vigor, which was definitely a strong weapon in overcoming the disease, but such a 'cure' is obviously not available on a large scale.

Meanwhile Puk, Balian and Quint return to the villa, where they discover that Madam Nesia is entertaining a guest. It's Meep Gildenglare, the old seamstress and more notably, the friendly wererat lady. Meep confirms that it took her a while to remember the companions from their days in the 'Pied Piper' play five years ago, but now she does. She recalls the children who peeped under the floorboards from where she was directing the rats on stage in her wererat form and realizes that they have grown up. She now freely admits to being one of the oldest lycanthropes in the city, one of the few who was born with the affliction. Unlike most of her kin she has managed to find her place in regular society, which makes her a 'coward' or even 'traitor' in the eyes of most of her own sort. One such lycanthrope, who's never been able to integrate in the human world and has always felt suppressed and shunned, is Girrigz, a young but strong wererat who is also a born werecreature. Girrigz has been nursing his grudge against human even more since he was shot with silver arrows by the Korvosan Guard a couple of years ago. He has gathered a number of like-minded brethren around him and like most stereotypical members of his kin, he has made his home somewhere in the sewers.

Although Meep does not entertain cordial relations with these wererats, recent development in the city have caused her to worry. She has witnessed how the plague is ripping through Korvosa and has not failed to notice that rats play an important part in spreading the disease. She has picked up various rumors that blame the wererats for this epidemic and fears that this news will not sit well with the likes of Girrigz. He already feels frustrated at being condemned to live in the filth of the humans and will be greatly offended by the accusation that he is the cause of this malady, as if any wererat would ever purposely poison a real rat brother or sister. Their bond with the little rodents is just too strong, Meep says as she pets the rat she has in her own lap, which she introduces as Mr. Nibbles. Meep sighs deeply before she implores the heroes to help her kinsmen out. She wants them to go below ground and convince Girrigz and his gang not to do anything stupid, because such an act would only backfire in these rat-hating days. In return she will gladly provide a wardrobe for Nesia, because the girl can hardly put on the same gown day after day, as lovely as it may be.

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Feros wrote:
Will flipped in the air, swung off a chandelier with his feet hooked in it, landed behind Gren Trevak, and ran him through.

This is exactly why we should all play a 'pirate' campaign. Classic!

Sissyl wrote:
My group refused to turn Trinia over to Kroft, for the very good reasons described. Instead, they sent her off to Harse. However, they then received word of an execution planned anyway, an execution of a feebleminded and hair-dyed woman. This was where Blackjack intervened, and this girl too was sent to Harse. So, when the party finally make their way to Harse themselves, they meet not only Trinia, but the other woman. Since a 6th level spell is needed to remove feeblemind, and it has a permanent duration, the people there have not been able to remove it, instead they have fed her and cared for her. With no name given, they affectionately call her Drooley or Drooley girl. *scratches her head* Ah well, I suppose I need to make her sort of important somehow.

I don't know at what time you introduced the Gray Maidens into your campaign, but if you did that before Trinia's trial, the girl could possibly be someone who volunteered to become a soldier in the queen's guard, but who 'failed' her training, maybe because she wasn't strong enough, or maybe because she was too headstrong to be brainwashed, so they decided to erase her mind altogether with feeblemind instead. In reality the girl could be just about anyone's daughter or (girl)friend. She could also be a former member of the Korvosan Guard, or even a Sable Marine who was ordered to infiltrate the Gray Maiden training.

In my campaign, Trinia wasn't in her own house, because then the guards would just have arrested her themselves. She picked up the rumors that she was going to be arrested for the king's murder and disappeared immediately. The PCs tracked her to the apartment of a friend, a tiefling stripper, as you can read in my journal. They chased her down across the shingles and convinced her to give herself up, claiming that she would only be safe if she could prove her innocence publicly.

Trinia agreed, but her trial did not go as expected, and she was convicted to die by beheading. The PCs were present at the execution - and even though the bard was itching to interfere - they did not free her, but then witnessed the caped crusader swoop in and save the girl.

Later the PCs were contacted by their friend Vencarlo to see the girl to safety at a friend's place in Harse. This part of the story is where my PCs - who up until this point have been working for the government (and the queen) to restore order in Korvosa - are starting to doubt Ileosa's sincerity. Since they are officially heroes of the city, they try to remain "loyal" to her majesty, at least openly. But in secret their alliances are slowly changing. Trinia is the first step down this important road.

Puna'chong wrote:

I do plan a brief cameo of the "You see a dude who resembles the description of your character from the last campaign, but you aren't sure..." or, if necessary, having the stupidly powerful conjuration (teleportation) wizard pop in as a deus ex machina if absolutely necessary just to keep the campaign going. Otherwise, unless they go down to Korvosa, being up in Irrisen is going to necessarily limit their interactions.

I'm all for it, though, if another AP they choose takes us to Varisia again. And if I ever need a quick session or two to just dork around I may let my players dust off their old dudes and throw down against some Elder Gods or something. I'm planning on it, but we're all so busy and enjoying this AP that I'd probably have to wait until we're ending this one before I do that.

You could always do an extra session with your old party. Snow has also reached Korvosa and your old PCs get involved in a side-quest that somehow aids your new party. I'm not very familiar with Reign of Winter, though, so I don't know if such a scenario would be possible. Still, I guess it would be tremendous fun for your players to dig up the old characters once more.

Marik Whiterose wrote:
The Relics of Kazavon

How wonderful! I never knew the Shoanti who recovered the Fangs had an official name, Coja Eyes-Aflame! He'll be playing a part in my future campaign, at least his remains will. Until now he was known in my notes as 'Shemesh Fire-for-Blood'. I guess that it's out with Shemesh and in with Coja ... Thanks for pointing that out, Marik.

Marik Whiterose wrote:
I'm thinking of sending them on a quest to recover the other artifacts of Kazavon taking them well into Epic, err I mean, Mythic territory.

'Recover' you say? I'd rather see your PCs save the world and 'destroy' the artifact they have right now ... unless they want to recover the rest to destroy those artifacts as well.

Puna'chong wrote:
I mention the goings-on in Korvosa regularly in my Reign of Winter campaign I'm running now with the same group. Since it's 7 years later there's a bunch that happened, and they players are always stoked to hear a small tidbit of information about Korvosa in the background.

That is actually really cool for your players. I used to do that too in my old campaigns, but since CotCT is my first campaign in Golarion, I can't do that yet.

Have you used old characters again, either as NPCs or as one-shot PCs for a tie-in adventure?

Puk takes Madam Nesia to the villa while his friends follow up on the body carters who were going in the wrong direction. A vagrant at the side of the road calls out and asks them if they want to buy a cloak of rat skins. Sjo gives the man some silver, but immediately burns the filthy cape. For some extra coin the bum reveals that the carters pass by regularly. "They always disappear down a dark alley over there." The man points out where it is.

The high walls of the surrounding buildings throw the awkwardly bent Racker's Alley into constant shadow. The hidden sideway is rich with the stomach-turning stench of rot. Heaped against the wooden back wall, behind an empty cart, rises a pile of dozens of plague victims and hundreds of dead rats. The entry to a door has been left clear: it is the back entrance of a small rundown shop called Giotorri's Toys. The front door and windows have been boarded up, making the place look deserted, but the back door seems to be unlocked. Balian puts his ear against the wood and hears voices inside.

The ranger pushes in, surprising two body carters in the shop's backroom. Sjo calls out to them: "In the name of the law, lay down your weapons!" But the fools do not head his words and make for their clubs. While Quint starts mocking them with his satire, Balian jumps forward and whirls his greatsword in a devastating arch, gravely wounding both men. (Double critical hit on a cleave.) One of the men attempts to strike back, but his pitiful fighting skills are no match for the ranger; the other body disposer tries to make a run for it, but can't dodge Balian's swift reaction and goes down. The sound of battle draws in five more men from the shop in front. They want to swarm the three companions with superior numbers, but quickly learn their mistake. Two well-placed burning hands spells from Sjo and Balian's cleaving blade take them down. One of the carters makes it outside, but Spyder and Quint halt his escape. The final opponent surrenders.

In the front room Balian discovers a stain of dried blood, no older than two days. The lone survivor confesses that he and his colleagues were tired of making the many long runs from north to south across the city with the corpse carts. So they started ditching the dead rats and bodies in this shady back alley. They thought no one would mind, but then it turned out that someone still lived in the boarded-up shop next to their perfect little dumping ground. Toymaker Giotorri had locked himself in his shop to keep the plague out, so he obviously wasn't too keen on having the infectious cadavers piling up against his back door. The carters tried giving him money, but when he refused, things got out of hand and they killed the old man. That is why they attacked the companions, because they were trying to hide a crime ...

Our friends take the murderer to prison and swing by the university to talk to its professor in alchemy, Sirtane Leroung. They ask her to examine Lavender's Luxuriant Liniment, hoping she can tell them whether the ointment really works. Sirtane seriously doubts it, even at first glance, since the substance can hardly even be called an ointment, looking more like grease. The professor in turn asks her visitors if they have heard of anyone recovering from the disease, or even better, of anyone who is immune. Since she cancelled her classes to avoid the danger of spreading the plague, she has been studying the pestilence, hoping to find a cure. Knowing that people actually recover from it, would be a great support. But the real clue to fighting the deadly malady could come from those who possess a natural resistance to it. The companions promise to ask around and keep her informed. They pay a quick visit to Field Marshal Kroft and the temple of Pharasma to report on the carters' scheme in Racker's Alley, before retiring to the comfort of the villa.

Puk has already taken Nesia to the tailor's and she is in the bathroom right now, getting ready for dinner. She may have lost her memory, but she certainly did not forget how the dress up: she looks absolutely stunning. Sjo offers the lost girl his bedroom and spends the night at Larella's.

29 Sarenith 4708

The children are still sick and Quint is feeling worse as well. Sjo on the other hand feels great, it looks like his body has fought off the infection. Balian is still as healthy as a fish and Nesia is in excellent physical shape too, but her mental problems persist as she still has no recollection of who she is. Balian and Sjo spend a couple of hours tending to the sick, including their daily visit to little Brienna. After lunch they talk to Sirtane Leroung again. The alchemy professor confirms her suspicions: Lavender's Luxuriant Liniment is nothing more than animal grease, mixed with weeds and some cheap perfume to make it smell less revolting. It has no healing properties whatsoever, apart from the potential placebo effect.

The companions report the matter to Field Marshal Kroft, but she lacks the manpower to do anything about Lavender's Luxury herself. She implores the four friends to attend to the case personally. She trusts them to handle the matter in whatever way necessary, but they have to close the shop, because all those people in the queue infect each other. This place offers no cure, on the contrary, it is a serious health hazard.

ThedreadedSoole wrote:
Does the Eternal Glyph trap in area A7 trigger when you attempt the "Decipher Script" (Linguistics) check or does it trigger only when you succeed at the check and can understand Thassilonian?

The way the trap is explained suggests that you understand the language, so the trap only triggers when you succeed the Linguistics check or use a spell like comprehend languages. Of course you could describe the writing in such a way that you make the PCs curious enough to have them use their skill or spell.

Big praise goes to my friend Moonbeam, who introduced Nesia in his Curse of the Crimson Throne journal, which you can find here - obviously this thread is forbidden for my own players!. She was a big hit at our gaming table, so thanks for the inspiration! We miss your presence on these boards ...

28 Sarenith 4708

The next morning Mouse is still feeling ill and Quint, Korwick and Heldrin are a bit under the weather as well. That means that all the kids and both Sjo and Quint have been infected. Only Balian and Puk are still feeling healthy.

Soon the guests for the breakfast meeting arrive: Valdur Bromathan of Sarenrae, brother Aldrick of Pharasma, Archbanker Darb Tuttle of Abadar and Ornher Reebs of Asmodeus. These four representatives of Korvosa's most important churches are joined by Doctor Dave Saulus of the Queen's Physicians and Sjo's girlfriend, Larella of Shelyn, who spent the night in the villa for the first time. Sjo welcomes everybody and leaves the guests to come to their own agreement. Darb Tuttle immediately takes charge and the others let him. When it becomes clear that the heroes signed a contract with the highpriest of Asmodeus, promising him 50 % of all the funds raised, there is some discussion, but the medic council finally decides to discuss that matter at a later date. For now they agree to place collection boxes in all the temples and they also decide on a text to be printed in the Herald.

When the guests have left, Sjo and Balian see to all the sick in the house. By noon they go to Trail's End to take care of little Brienna as well. The girl still hasn't recovered, although Sjo's healing has kept her relatively well. Brienna's mother Tayce inquires if the companions have already heard of the cure that is supposedly available somewhere in the Heights district. They obviously haven't, but a potential medicine certainly piques their interest, even if - which they suspect - it turns out to be a sham. Some information gathering quickly points them to Lavender's Luxury, a perfume boutique. The shop stands in a row of tightly packed houses in Summoning Street, just south of the Acadamae. The owner is a Chelaxian woman named Vendra Loaggri, who is famous for her avant-garde creations and brazen promotions, like her "Free Imp with every purchase" stunt last year.

A long queue of eager Korvosans waits in a line that stretches far around the corner. Several of those waiting bear the obvious blistered symptoms of the plague. A strong man guards the door and eyes every customer that enters closely. A customer leaves the perfumery and immediately applies a greasy ointment on his neck. He refers to it as Lavender's Luxuriant Liniment and claims that he already feels better, even though Sjo notices no changes in the man's red spots and Quint detects no magic. Quint wants to sneak a peek inside, but dreads the thought of having to queue for hours, so he decides to start a new line for those who want to buy perfume instead of the cure. While most queuers throw angry glances at the bard, his fast-talking overwhelms them enough so he can get away with his little scheme. About fifteen minutes later he is inside the shop, where a happy-looking dockworker is giving his unbiased personal testimonial of how the luxuriant liniment cured him of the plague. A woman with clear blue eyes asks Quint what he wants when he reaches the counter. The bard recognizes her as Vendra, Loaggri, the shop's owner. From her he learns that Lavender's Luxuriant Liniment has already been around for a long time, but the merchant only recently became aware of its special plague healing ability when a customer who had used it got better. Quint finds it hard to determine whether the woman is lying of whether she truly believes the ointment works. He ends up buying a bottle of perfume and Puk picks up a dose of the cure, because he wants to have it examined.

Back in the street Quint teases Sjo about his new girlfriend, giving the big Shoanti the impression that he is a bit jealous. As the two young men are harrying each other, they suddenly hear a loud scream. A group of people have gathered down the road and Quint can tell that are crowding a woman who is clearly in a state of panic. The frightened girl has blond hair and is dressed in a white sheet with no clothes underneath. Sjo gets the bystanders to give her some space while Quint calms her down. When they ask her for her name, she doesn't know ... she doesn't remember who she is or how she got here! An old lady tells the companions that she noticed the girl staggering down the street in naught but a white sheet, looking disoriented. When she asked the girl if she was okay, she started wailing like a madwoman. Still, she seems to be in fine physical order, very fine even as she looks very attractive. Quint wants to get the poor thing some clothes and convinces the old lady, who lives close by, to sell him a skirt and a blouse. Despite this sober attire the girl looks stunning when she puts on the clothes, especially when they prove to be a bit tight around the chest. Sjo and Quint continue to quiz her to see if she remembers anything. When they talk about Sarenrae, Asmodeus or Abadar, she recalls the names and portfolios of those gods, although she cannot name any godhood spontaneously. They lead her down the neighborhood to try and trigger her memories, but nothing comes back. When Puk mentions food, she realizes she is quite hungry, as are the companions, who haven't had lunch yet.

Balian suggests grabbing a bite in The Travelling Man in Old Korvosa. The girl shows table manners while eating her burger, indicating that she is not from the lower classes, although she does not display the elaborate etiquette of the nobility either. The girl is very worried and every question the companions ask her sends her into a state of alarm. Is she a criminal? Or someone who was about to be sacrificed in the temple of Asmodeus? Did she rise from the dead or did she use to be a statue that was turned to flesh? She hasn't got a clue.

During the conversation Quint notices some men in the square who are pushing a cart with a dead body. It is not until they have disappeared from view that the bard starts wandering why the body carters were going west instead of east, to make for the bridge south for the Gray District, where all corpses have to be delivered. Still, the pleasant company at his table soon makes him forget his contemplations for more agreeable worries, the pretty girl's lot. Focusing his gaze on her shapely curves, the bard casts a detect magic which reveals a hint of magic on her. Sjo joins in with his own spell and reads a touch of transmutation in the lingering magic. The two men try to get the girl to imitate some of their simple spells, to see if she masters the art of spellcasting. It yields no success, although the girl admits to feeling some familiarity to spell weaving. The companions also experiment with the girl's reflection in the window, but seeing a mirrored version of herself triggers no memories.

Finally Sjo proposes naming the girl, since it is hard to talk to someone without a proper name. Balian comes up with a nice suggestion, Madam Nesia, the lady who suffers from Mad Amnesia.

After having procured the cooperation of all the major temples in Korvosa to combat the plague together, Sjo has little difficulty in convincing his girlfriend, Larella of Shelyn, to join in the effort, although her contribution will be very limited. She has only just reached the power to cast remove disease and her chances to fail at getting someone better are still bigger than her chances to succeed. Still, she's more than happy to help.

Next the companions want to pay a visit to Dave Saulus, the Chelish doctor who leads the Queen's Physicians. They learn from Cressida Kroft where to find him: he's setting up a hospital in an empty warehouse, just a block away from Zellara's old fortune-teller's shop in the harbor area. Dozens of laborers are getting the building ready; a newly painted sign at the door identifies the place as The Hospital of the Blessed Maiden, a reference to Saint Alika. Doctor Saulus is in an office on the first floor and listens quietly as the young men inform him of their plans to form a medic force by having all Korvosan temples pull their resources. Saulus confirms that the number of diseased people certainly justifies a second hospital in Korvosa and agrees that it is best that both medical centers gear their activities for one another.

The companions decide to invite all the parties who are fighting the plague in their own villa the next morning for breakfast. This first meeting will launch the medic force, and hopefully it will go on to lead a life of its own without the heroes' further involvement. Cyril Fordyce, the editor of the Korvosa Herald, even agrees to print a public call for help and funds in his periodical's next issue. Quint says he will get his final text tomorrow, after the meeting in the villa.

Kennesty wrote:
I really don't mind upping the power level to keep them challenged.

Playing with experienced players, I've been doing that for years. It helps that we only use the Core Rulebook and the APG to keep things manageable (I use PCgen which covers these handbooks). I give my players a 20 point buy and they get 75 % of their potential HP, but my NPCs are built with the same perks. I also adjust the competition at the table if necessary. During the last couple of sessions I've thrown extra opponents at the PCs once when things got too easy and I've also left out an opponent once when things got tricky. I even build some NPCs around 'loot', e.g. the greatsword wielding ranger PC is lagging in magical items, so I designed an extra bodyguard with a +1 greatsword for one of the upcoming sessions.

Kennesty wrote:
I do most of my conversions at work anyways so it keeps me busy.

I officially envy you.

Marik Whiterose wrote:

Has anyone re-imagined Balko as an Alchemist? I'm working on him as such but am having a hard time coming up with extracts for him.

I also reworked the Queen's Physicians as Alchemists in my campaign with Dr. D being the Vivisectionist archetype (I just didn't see him as the bomb throwing type).

There were some people who talked about rewriting Yargin Balko as an alchemist, but I can't find stats anywhere. On the other hand, how hard can it be to make a level 1 or 2 NPC, right?

Prepainted fantasy girls that fit the picture are hard to find.
Lirianne is not what you're looking for, while Natalya Vancaskerkin does not have a gun.

I like Angelica Fairweather and Elisabeth a lot, but they both wear pirate hats, which might be a problem.

A real favorite of mine is Regicide by Freebooter. This firm is from Europe, has excellent minis, but they are pricy. Of course you can find her in UK online stores as well, e.g. here.

Feros wrote:
Finally Will parried and riposted an attack by the were-shark followed by a critical thrust through the beast’s heart, finally killing it.

Sounds like a tremendously great session. My sympathies for the loss of Hakhan. Am I right in assuming that he will be replaced by a new character or is there a resurrection miracle around the corner?

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Bloodragers can be any alignment, so a LG Bloodrager IS possible. ;)

He may lean more towards NG, though, as he worships Sarenrae.

So, Zousha, how did the character turn out?

If you're looking for a list of the major NPCs in Korvosa, your best shot is the appendix in the Guide to Korvosa on p. 62. But as Knick said, to make the city come alive, there will be a lot more NPCs than these, both from the modules and from your own creation. The only way to have a list of those is making your own, I am afraid.

Nice job (you can take that literally) and welcome, Joe!

High priestess Keppira d'Bear is pleased to see Cedrik is safe and is sighs when he tell her what happened. She offers the companions her full support in their efforts to fight the plague, provided they get her help for a number of more mundane tasks. She also wishes them luck trying to convince the churches of Abadar and Asmodeus to join the 'medic task force'.

The Grand Vault of Abadar is composed of well-kept grey-veined white marble walls with gleaming bronze friezes, all of which radiantly reflect the light of the sun. The structure towers over surrounding buildings and, along with its steep stairs and ramps leading up to the temple's great bronze doors, boasts an aura of divine luxuriance. Today however, the great stairs do not exhume an aura of grandeur, but rather of chaos. Dozens of desperate civilians - mostly of the working class - throng the entry, scarcely being held back by a group of gold-armored guards. Puk sees one man dressed in fine silks pushing through the pock-scarred crowd. To all everyone's dismay, this rich man is allowed inside. The protectors at the gate are heavily pressed by the angered bystanders when Quint speaks out to calm everyone down. He urges the sick to return home, so they can rest and get better instead of tiring themselves here and infected even more fellow citizens while they're at it. He promises them to talk to the Archbanker and work out an arrangement so they can be helped. After the crowd disperses the guards let the companions in.

Archbanker Tuttle welcomes his guests and can be convinced that he will serve order and civilization better by joining in an organized effort to fight the plague. Unlike the churches of Pharasma and Sarenrae, he is not looking for extra hands to help out in his temple, on the contrary, he does not want strangers running around his Bank. So he will help, but at another location. He agrees to meet with the representatives of the other churches tomorrow and already feels like he should be the one to be the overall coordinator. If the companions want to appeal to the general public to help, they might just as well ask for donations, which would serve the Bank of Abadar better than 'helping hands'. Despite his willingness to join in the medic force, Tuttle will keep back some spells for his own followers, he says. After all, if they are sick, they deserve to be treated just as much as everyone else!

The church of Asmodeus is one of the most magnificent buildings in the city, built from red marble in the shape of a five-pointed star, and situated upon Citadel Crest in the wealthiest ward of the city. The church competes with Abadar for the right to verify and witness oaths and contracts. Since his initial error in judgement - when he sacrifices thirteen maidens to his deity - high priest Ornher Reebs has taken great pains to operate on the right side of the law. Despite this focus on its lawful nature, many Korvosans see the church of Asmodeus as an evil entity in the city and carry a deep mistrust for the infernal religion.

Unlike the other temples the church of Asmodeus is not overrun with people. The sturdy bodyguard Mallas summons his master and hangs around to keep an eye on things while his superior talks to the companions. Ornher Reebs is not happy to see Sjo, who attempted a short apprenticeship in the temple, before turning his back on it. To Reebs that kind of cowardly behavior smells like breach of contract. Quint plays the 'pride' card when he says that all the other churches have agreed to help out, so it would be a 'shame' if Asmodeus would not join in. Reebs wants to know how much the Bank of Abadar is being paid for its help and when he learns that the companions plan to raise money through donations, he demands half of the proceeds. He also wants the companions to communicate about his church's involvement in a positive light, so more people in the city might grow to appreciate his faith. He even draws up a contract stipulating the exact lines of his conditions. In return he offers his full array of disease fighting spells, as well as the couple of useful spells that his subordinate Tyresha can cast. He knows that there are only two priest in his church who can cast remove disease, but the weight of one high priest easily overshadows a dozen low level clerics. Reebs is the third most powerful priest in the city, so the companions will need his help. Quint and Sjo realize that the man is right: high priests can ask their god for many remove disease spells when they fill all their higher level slots with this power as well. Moreover, the chance at success depends on how powerful the caster is, so Reebs would certainly add value to the task force. The negotiators agree and put their signature plus a drop of their blood at the bottom the contract that Ornher Reebs draws up.

With no sign of brother Cedrik in this end of the complex, the companions retrace their steps to the first crossroads chamber with the small pool. Having explored the right side, they now dive into the left tunnel, which slopes down across a hard stone surface. Centuries of water trickling down have worn the steep floor smooth, making it treacherous to navigate.

The passage ends at a cavern with a domed ceiling, cramped with stalactites. Several of these hanging formations have grown together with the stalagmites on the ground, making up one colossal pillar. At the foot of this beautiful column a large clear pool has formed. Quint tosses a light stone into the water. It looks quite deep, at least seven feet. A man-shaped shadow rests against the stone pillar below the water line: the calcified remains of a long forgotten man. Two tunnels lead off into the darkness, one just around the corner to the right and another at the far end of the cavern.

Reaching the other tunnels is hard without getting wet. Sjo decides to head back to a spot with even footing, where he can take off his plate armor. Meanwhile Puk, Quint and Balian investigate the right corridor. They come across three more ghasts, but they dispose of the undead easily. Balian peppers them with arrows from the back line, while Quint tries to trip them with his whip, giving Puk the opportunity to stab them with ruthless efficiency. The tunnel ends in a stone door at which the undead have obviously been scratching. The left bottom corner of the door is missing, revealing a small room beyond in which some scared rats have taken refuge. So the ghasts were after more rodents to eat! Balian pulls the door open. The room looks manmade and is strewn with the decayed remains of wooden crates. Apart from three diseased rats there is nothing here worth noticing.

When they return to the pool cavern, Sjo joins them in nothing but his shirt. Quints digs up a wand with mage armor to boost the healer's defenses a bit. One more tunnel remains, but to reach that, the companions have to cross the water. Balian and Puk manages to keep to the side of the cavern, but Sjo and Quint lose their footing and glide off into the center of the pool. They use this opportunity to examine the skeleton at the foot of the pillar and discover a gold bracelet on his right arm.

Before climbing up the final tunnel, Quint weaves a prestidigitation through his fingers to dry everyone's clothes. Puk leads the way into a shadowy cavern. A dark shape jumps forward from an alcove in the opposite wall, splashing water over the halfling and shouting: "Stay back, you fiends! In the name of Pharasma!" It is brother Cedrik, still a bit wet and tired. He has caked blood on his forehead.

When the wide-eyed priest understands that the intruders are there to save him, he is overcome with relief and spills the beans on what happened. He was tasked with working in the morgue and he remembered the chalice that was there. Since he had always been told that it possessed certain magical abilities, he wondered whether it might be helpful in fighting the plague. So he looked up some information in his books, but he came up with nothing of real interest. His next best guess would be to examine the cup itself. Upon arriving in the morgue, he went into the backroom to look at the chalice. He was surprised to hear strange sounds coming from below the floor, underneath the stone altar. Trying to pull the heavy block of stone aside, he accidentally pressed the secret button in the bas-relief, triggering the opening mechanism. The altar slid away, making the chalice on top topple and fall down the hole that was revealed underneath. Ashamed at his clumsiness Cedrik jumped into the dark to retrieve the cup, but the drop was deeper than he had estimated, so he hurt his ankle. His arrival in the underground chamber was met by hungry growls and grunts from a host of undead. Before they could reach him, Cedrik snatched up the chalice and ran off into the only available exit. He stumbled down the steep, slippery tunnel into the pool chamber, hitting his head before plunging into the water. As he heard the ghasts coming after him, he quickly climbed out of the pool and hid in the far corner of the cavern, keeping his flask of holy water at the ready. He spent a very scary night there, but fortunately, the undead never came for him.

There is one more exit from this final cave: a heavy stone door marked with Shoanti runes. They talk of Shemnoata the traitor, who led the intruders with the long, white knives into his home camp, resulting in the slaughter of 58 warriors, women and children. Sjo feel uncomfortable disturbing the passage, but Quint and Puk are eager to explore it. Balian pushes at the door, but when it finally gives way, he almost falls down the sinkhole that is beyond, for indeed, the roughly circular cavern has no floor, but rather drops away into the dark. Jutting from the far wall are seven evenly-spaced spears. Mounted at the end of the shafts are jawless human skulls, all turned to face the door. They boom in old Shoanti: "Begone! Let the one who betrayed his brethren rest!"

Balian notices that the sinkhole has some kind of alcove about thirty feet down. Puk climbs down a rope and discovers a small secluded compartment in the side of the sinkhole which holds an unadorned stone tomb. Balian and Quint join the halfling and the bard casts detect magic. He sees a slight sheen of magic emanating from beneath the heavy lid. Together the three young men push aside the cover a bit and look upon the leathery face of the body inside. With a low-pitched sigh the corpse opens its eyes and stares back at the adventurers. Balian reacts immediately and plunges his blade in the dead man's face, tearing apart his jaw. Quint and Puk are hindered by the lid that still covers most of the tomb and thus protects the corpse. Then Shemnoata's gaze takes its true effect, confusing both Balian and Puk, making them either hurt themselves or babble incoherently. Quint tries to hold back the undead with cure light wounds touch attacks, while Sjo quickly makes his way down the rope to help his friends: "You fools, I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but ... I TOLD YOU SO!" Shemnoata throws off the stone lid, making it disappear in the sinkhole, and stands up. By that time Sjo arrives and hits the risen dead hard with his heavy mace. Quint's short sword finishes him off once and for all, simultaneously ending the insanity that has taken hold of Balian and Puk.

Quint casts another detect magic, which gets a much brighter reaction now, coming from the corpse's silver belt. With Zellara's aid Sjo identifies it as a belt of physical might, which enhances both one's strength and stamina. This powerful item is perfect for a swordsman like Balian. Puk remarks that the girdle is of Chelish make, so it probably was the traitor's payment. That would explain why he was buried with it, for none of his brethren would have wanted the cursed item after they'd killed him.

With the underground complex completely explored the companions return to the morgue. Sjo and Quint ask Zellara's insight in the mechanism that kept the undead locked in. It seems like the proximity of the chalice acted as some kind of key to seal undead into the silvered room. Now they can finally reconstruct what happened. The diseased rats somehow made their way into the old underground complex and disturbed the undead's slumber by providing them with food for the first time in centuries. The ghasts' loud meal alerted Cedrik, who accidentally managed to open the secret passage and who jumped into the hole to retrieve the fallen chalice. There he saw the undead, not realizing that they were still locked into the silvered room because the chalice was still close-by. The panicked priest grabbed Pharasma's holy cup and ran off, thus removing the 'key' from the holy barrier and breaking its magic. The undead were finally free after three hundred years. Fortunately for the clumsy priest the ghasts were more interested in food and made off after the diseased rats, leaving the chamber where Cedrik had sought refuge in peace.

Hmm, looks like Eric is going for the elaborate I've been sleeping for a long time dragon look, going through the painstakingly precise process of having the dragon miniatures collect just the right amount of dust - obviously intentional! ;-)

Brilliantly done. I love it!

walter mcwilliams wrote:
Majenko - The Pseudodragon leads the rest of his kind in a grand hunt through the skies of Korvosa slaying or driving most of the imps out of Korovosa except for a small gaggle near the Acadame. He becomes the Prince of Dragon’s in Korvosa and lives a long life of comfort with his harem.

Love that!

vampirepaul wrote:

I recently just searched You tube and found a couple of Crimson Throne videos, which inspired me to make my own.

I've done one for Edge of Anarchy and one for Seven Days to the Grave. My group has just started Escape from Old Korvosa, so that one will be a way off.

If you look I hope you enjoy them.


Link 1.

Link 2.

Zaister wrote:
So, your heroes have defeated the final villain of the campaign and liberated Korvosa. What did your heroes decide to do with the city afterwards? Who took what office? I'm curious.

Too bad there are no reactions to this thread. I'm still playing this campaign and I'm definitely planning some "continuing the campaign" stuff. I already discussed some of my ideas in this thread. Lately I've also been considering a follow-up adventure about the Rise of Runelord Sorshen.

So any nice post-campaign stories or experiences would certainly be welcome.

Happy to hear that you're still reading and you still like the story.

It is one of the things I find most difficult when reading other journals - remembering who all the characters and NPCs are - which is why I hope the pictures help to get an image of the PCs and some of the settings. Still, there are a lot of characters in this story, so yeah, it might get hard sometimes. It certainly helps to be familiar with the AP, because then you can at least tell those NPCs apart (like Kroft, Orisini, Trinia, Tuttle, Ornelos, Arkona, d'Bear ...).

I also understand the fact that you do not write a comment every time you read a new entry. I read some other journals myself, and even though I try to leave a note at least once, I do not do so every time - far from it. I only speak up when I have something to say or to ask. Still your little comment was appreciated. I hope you'll enjoy what I have in mind for my group. If things work out as planned, there should be good times for years to come ...

We have a saying at our table: Thanks to the bard. Just say that every time one of the other PCs makes a hit or a save or whatever thanks to the buff and bonuses the bard provides and you'll see just how important your role in the group really is.

Keppira d'Bear also has a request: yesterday brother Cedrik did not return to his cell to sleep. No one knows where he is, but as the temple is swamped, there is no time to look for him. D'Bear asks the companions to help locate the missing man. Sister Fryda shows the companions to Cedrik's bedroom, but nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. Cedrik's prayer book is still by his bed. He would never leave it behind, Fryda claims. She also adds that Cedrik is a as devout as they get, so he would never just run away or something. Since he came here at the age of twelve, he has never even set foot outside of the Gray district. He is also a very diligent man, never late and very precise in everything he does, which is why he is the church's accountant. He mostly works in the office, keeping the books, but yesterday he was tasked to help out in the mortuary.

By the way, this sidetrek adventure is based on a cute little Dungeon adventure (issue # 71), called Priestly Secrets.

Quint and Puk also have a quick look around Cedrik's office. His desk is piled with dozens of documents that still need processing, listing names and relevant data about all those who have died. Under the pile is a book that has been opened to a page detailing Pharasma's holy chalice. When sister Fryda sees the drawing, she claims that the cup is in the very mortuary where brother Cedrik was sent to yesterday. Our friends decide to pick up Sjo first before continuing their investigation. The Shoanti has been in bed for the last two hours, vainly trying to catch some extra sleep, though frustration made it feel like it lasted much longer. It takes some convincing, but fearing more endless hours in bed, Sjo gives in and joins the quest for Cedrik.

Fryda leads the companions to a smaller building behind the cathedral, the mortuary. She takes them through a small chapel with beautiful stained glass windows to the preparation room in the back, where the chalice should be. There are two stone tables, each the resting place of a dead body, covered in a white sheet. A small stone altar stands in the corner, it has nice stone carvings in the sides, depicting Pharasma's Boneyard. The altar holds nothing, but a distinct circular discoloration in the stone suggests that something round has been on top for many years. The chalice, however, is missing, Fryda notices. Balian examines the small altar more closely and finds recent scratches on the floor which indicate that the stone altar can swivel forward. A skull in the boneyard bas-relief on the side of the stone block can click, propelling the altar away from the back wall and revealing a hole in the ground underneath. Fryda screams in surprise, she didn't know that the altar could do that. Quint conjures up some light to shine down the opening: there is a 15 foot drop into a small natural cavern below which wafts forth a foul odor of earth and mold.

Puk retrieves a rope from his pack and ties it to the stone table. Sjo is the first to go down, trusting his darkvision to warn him of any danger. He ends up in a small cave with two exits: a rough archway leads into a larger chamber in front of him, while a tunnel slips off to the right. Still, it is the chamber that draws his attention. The light falling in from above reflects in thousands of tiny specks of light. The entire frame of the door and all the walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber beyond are covered in a silver dust coating. The step of the archway is also inscribed with silver runes. When his friends have joined him Sjo uses a read magic to decipher the mystical writing: a powerful spell meant to block the passage of undead. Quint detects that the magic was broken very recently.

The companions step into the rectangular chamber, which was obviously manmade, unlike the cave and tunnel behind them. The air in the room is stale. The silvery floor is covered in dry brown dust and holds the heavily gnawed bones of two rats. Despite the fact that the bones have been picked clean completely and most of them have been chewed to pieces, Balian can tell that they are recent, very recent even. No more than a few days ago these rodents must have been very much alive.

Leaving the chamber behind them, Puk and Balian lead the way down the tunnel to a small cave that seems to be little more than a deviation point. A slender stalagmite rises floor to ceiling in the far end of the room with a steady stream of water droplets running down its side. A pool has collected at the bottom, trickling away to the left in a shallow stream of water down another tunnel. A second tunnel winds away to the right. As the floor is quite uneven and wet, Quint pulls out his wand of feather step to grant everyone more stability in difficult terrain. Sjo scratches a cross in the wall, marking the way out. Ignoring the tunnel with the trickling water the companions head the other way through the winding tunnel that leads into a vast cavern. The ceiling does not extend much higher than the top of the tunnel, but the ground drop down in a number of stone tiers to a treacherous floor. A narrow chasm cuts across the middle of the cave from left to right, roughly cutting the room in half.

While Sjo makes his way down, Balian shouts out a word of warning. Something is moving in the shadows along the wall. Suddenly a foul creature bursts from the dark; it is clearly humanoid in shape, although its nails and teeth look unnaturally long. Its pallid grey flesh stretches tightly over its starved frame. Quint jumps to his partner's aid and pierces the creature's dried out innards with his icy short sword. The undead hits the bard in return with its sharp claws. Two more ghasts break from the darkness up ahead, hungry for fresh meat. One of them sinks its pointed teeth in Balian's shoulder, but the other misses the nimble halfling by a long shot. The undead fight and bite fiercely, drawing some blood from the heroes, but they go down quite easily. In a few seconds the brawl is over. Puk discovers the remnants of some kind of uniform on the ghasts' upper body, on which Quint can barely make out the former shield of Cheliax. It dates back to the days of the settlers, three centuries ago, that Chelish soldiers walked Korvosan soil. Whoever these undead were in real life, they must have been here a long time.

This side of the complex ends in another large, irregular cavern, where two more ghasts attack the companions. The walking corpses are easily defeated. One more undead has stumbled into a pit in the floor, unable to get out. Balian simply finishes it off with his bow. There are more rat cadavers on the floor, but this time the remains have been only half eaten. A number of small holes dot the north wall: tiny tunnels through which diseased rats made their way into the complex. Balian figures that the disease forced the rodents to retreat deep into the ground and that the rats unwittingly provided the famished ghasts with a food source for the first time in centuries.

Evening has already started when the companions leave Meep Gildenglare's shop. Since they haven't eaten anything yet, they head to Eel's End for a quick meal and some entertainment. Sjo swings by Shelyn's temple first, to see if Larella is there now and when he finds her there he asks her to join him. He is a bit embarrassed when one of the girls of pleasure waves at him while he leads his date across the docks of Eel's End. It is the redheaded girl who helped him lose his virginity.

The boats of Eel's End are open for business as usual and there is little sign of the plague here, although there are considerably less visitors. Quint spends some time in the brothel in the arms of his favorite, Yuuna, feeling even more enticed by her Vudran heritage than before since that other dark skinned beauty Selena has been eluding him. According to Balian the two girls look quite alike, although Selena possesses a more natural flair. Quint also inquires about the ship that sunk in the harbor. Yuuna didn't see it herself, but some of her colleagues witnessed the burning ship go down further up the river a few nights ago. News of the queen's physicians hasn't reached the House of Clouds yet. Yuuna explains that Old Korvosa is usually the last district to deserve the palace's attention, so it doesn't surprise her that the doctors didn't make it here yet.

When our friends finally return home, Korwick tells them that Vencarlo Orisini came by earlier today. He was in the neighborhood as he had to go the temple of Pharasma. Someone died ... although Korwick does not remember who exactly. Anyway, master Orisini had to be in the temple about this guy's funeral, so he decided to stop by, but he went home when he found out the companions were not there, without leaving a message.

27 Sarenith 4708

Sjo feels a bit under the weather that morning and Mouse is doing worse as well. The big man uses his lesser restoration spell to take away the worst of the sickness's effects. He also pays another visit to young Brienna in Trail's End and cares for her too. Then he retires home to his bed to get some rest.

Meanwhile his friends go to Vencarlo Orisini. The fencing master's academy is closed today. Quint immediately notices that Vencarlo didn't get much sleep last night. He also smells alcohol on his breath. Vencarlo explains that his loyal servant Raldo passed away yesterday. He got sick with the plague a few days ago and, as he was already advanced in years, quickly succumbed to its devastating effects. When Vencarlo Orisini went to the temple of Pharasma to make arrangements for his servant's burial, he heard that 37 citizens had died already and a lot more people were sick. The mysterious illness that had just popped out of nowhere had taken a choking hold on the city in just a few days time. Old Korvosa and North Point were hit the hardest.

Vencarlo worries about the feeble attempts of the city's churches to fight the disease. He feels that they could work much more efficiently if they were to coordinate their efforts. The church of Sarenrae has good intentions, but seems to be overrun, Pharasma is dedicating all her efforts to burying the dead, while Abadar's Bank has even closed its doors to the public, letting in only those who can pay. If the companions want to do something for the city, they should see to it that the temples get organized. Quint and Puk agree wholeheartedly and decide to take action right away.

They go to the temple of Sarenrae first, figuring that they'd better start with the one who is most likely to accept. It will be easier to convince the harder cases if you can say that other churches have already consented. Ezekiel Sollux, the highpriest of Sarenrae, is tending to the sick himself when the companions walk into the improvised hospital that his temple has become. When Quint explains his idea of coordinating the churches' efforts better to allow the priests to administer the most healing possible, Sollux agrees. Although he is doing everything within his power to help the sick, he has no clear overview of what his priests are doing, of who they are helping and who not. If there were more people to lend a hand with the simple stuff, like feeding the patients or changing their sheets, the clergy would be free to focus on providing care. Quint asks him who in his temple would be a good representative, someone who can supervise the work within the church and consult with the other faiths, Sollux has just the man for the job: Lord Valdur Bromathan. Although the head of House Bromathan possesses some priestly magic, his powers are limited. He is a good organizer, though, and his age and title give him the necessary authority to carry out the job.

The next destination is the church of Pharasma. On the way over there Balian has to shake off a woman who grabs him by the shoulder, screaming that this disease is all an evil wererat plot. The cathedral in the Gray district is also flooded with people, although not many of them look especially sick. Most of the visitors are mourners who have come to make arrangements for the deceased. Archbishop Keppira d'Bear is ashamed to admit that she and many of her priests make it through the day without even spending all the magical healing they are capable of, simple because their work with the dead keeps them so busy. She even has priests digging graves since some of her usual grave diggers have fallen ill or have bolted as they fear getting infected by handling the corpses. As a priest of Pharasma d'Bear does not consider her task of burying the victims of the plague mundane or menial, but she does recognize that healing potential is being wasted. If there were people around to help with the administration, preparing the dead for interment or for digging the graves, that would definitely open up time for her clergy to focus on healing people and saving lives. She suggests making brother Aldrick the church's representative. His high position in the church's ranks earns him a great deal of respect, both inside and outside the cathedral, but being a paladin, his powers to heal are more limited than his priest colleagues.

The PCs have been level five for a few sessions. Here are the stats.

BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 5 (urban ranger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +9
AC 21, touch 14, flat-footed 18
hp 50 (5 HD)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee masterwork greatsword (two handed) +10 ((two handed) 2d6+6/19-20)
Melee masterwork dagger +10 (1d4+4/19-20)
Ranged masterwork dagger (thrown) +9 (1d4+4/19-20)
Ranged masterwork longbow (composite/strength rating+4) +9 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +4; CMB +8; CMD 22
Ranger Spells (CL 2nd):
1st (2/day) (DC 12) - lead blades, longstrider
Abilities Str 19, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 7
Special Qualities Favored Community Korvosa +2, Track +1, Trapfinding, Wild Empathy +1
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, Favored Defense, Following Step, Step Up
Skills Acrobatics +4, Acrobatics (Jump) 0, Climb +4, Disable Device +5, Heal +5, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (Geography) +2, Knowledge (Local) +6, Perception +9, Perform (Act) +3, Sense Motive +1, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +7, Survival +5, Survival (Follow or identify tracks) +7, Swim +4
Possessions masterwork greatsword; ring of protection +1; breastplate; amulet of natural armor +1; 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 5, N Medium animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +5 natural, +1 Dodge)
hp 52 (5d8+20)
Fort +7, Ref +7 (evasion), Will +2, evasion
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d6+4)
Str 18, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 22 (26 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +7 (+15 jump), Perception +8, Survival +5 (+9 scent tracking), Swim +10


PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 5 (swashbuckler)
Init +5; Senses Perception +8
AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 18, uncanny dodge
hp 42 (5HD)
Fort +5, Ref +10 (evasion), Will +2, +1 morale bonus vs. fear, +2 racial bonus vs. fear
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee main hand silver short sword +2 +10 (1d4+2/19-20) and masterwork short sword +9 (1d4/19-20)
Ranged shortbow (small) +9 (1d4/x3)
Ranged sling staff (halfling) (small) +9 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 17
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 +15, Acrobatics (Jump) +11, Appraise +5, Bluff +6, Climb +7, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +12, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +10, Intimidate +4, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +3, Knowledge (Local) +5, Linguistics +4, Perception +8, 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); amulet of natural armor +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.

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.


Quintilian, CG Male Human bard 5 (court bard)
Init +2; Senses Perception +7
AC 19, touch 12, flat-footed 17, Combat Expertise
hp 30 (4HD)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +4, +4 vs. Bardic Performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee short sword +1 of frost +6 (1d6+3+1d6/19-20)
Melee longsword +5 (1d8+2/19-20)
Melee masterwork whip +6 (1d3+2)
Melee sap +5 (1d6+2)
Ranged shortbow +5 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 17
Known Bard Spells (CL 5th):
2nd (3/day) (DC 15) - cacophonous call, gallant inspiration, heroism
1st (5/day) (DC 14) - cure light wounds, 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 +9, Bluff +15, Climb +5, Diplomacy +13, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +5, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Knowledge (Geography) +6, Knowledge (History) +8, Knowledge (Local) +12, Knowledge (Local/Art & music) +13, Knowledge (Nature) +6, Knowledge (Nobility) +8, Linguistics +9, Perception +7, Perform (Act) +8, Perform (Comedy) +13, Perform (Dance) +7, Perform (Oratory) +7, Perform (Sing) +7, Perform (String Instruments) +7, Sense Motive +7, Sleight of Hand +6, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +5, Use Magic Device +7
Possessions short sword +1 of frost; chain shirt +1; masterwork buckler; longsword; masterwork whip; sap; wand (feather step); wand of cure light wounds; wand of mage armor; Shortbow; amulet of natural armor +1

Bardic Performance You can use this ability for 15 rounds per day.
Versatile Performance (Comedy) (Ex) You can use your bonus in the Perform (Comedy) skill in place of your bonus in the Bluff or Intimidate 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 5
Init +0; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Perception +2, Clouded Vision
AC 23, touch 11, flat-footed 23
hp 37 (5HD)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +7
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee cold iron mace +2 (heavy) +8 (1d8+4)
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 16
Known Oracle Spells (CL 5th):
2nd (5/day) (DC 16) - cure moderate wounds, hold person, resist energy, restoration
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 14, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 19
Feats Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Combat Casting, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace)
Skills Bluff +8, Diplomacy +13, Heal +7, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (Local) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +7, Perform (Act) +9, Sense Motive +9, Sleight of Hand -1
Possessions cold iron mace +2 (heavy); ring of protection +1; full plate +1; buckler; amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +1

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.

When the companions get back to Citadel Volshyenek the Chelish guests have already arrived. They are in Kroft's office, so the heroes have to wait in the courtyard, where more and more soldiers are arriving. The Field Marshal has apparently ordered all troops to gather here for a big announcement. Some Gray Maidens are there as well and stand guard at the doors of the main building. When Quint asks them something, he can tell from their Chelish accent that these must be some of the Maidens who came from the old country, Cheliax. Grau Soldado joins his friends in the crowd and tells them that his niece Brienna had a bad night again. He doesn't know anything about these doctors, but he suspects that their magical healing capacities - if any - will be limited, so they will mostly have to rely on mundane healing skills. Not all civilians are as lucky as his niece, who can also benefit from Sjo's magic to keep her strength up. The look in Grau's eyes expresses a gratitude that words could never encompass.

It takes over an hour before Cressida Kroft finally steps out. At her side is a middle-aged gentleman in a simple black overcoat with streaks of white gracing the sides of his short dark hair. He has a soft, concerned look in his eyes and tightly grasps a heavy doctor's case. They are followed by a more ominous looking group: men wearing cowled robes of oily-looking leather, supple gloves and wide, black hats. Their faces hide behind dark-goggled masks tapering to a pointed beak. Kroft climbs a weathered wooden platform and orders her troops to silence. She introduces the man at her side as Doctor Dave Saulus, the leader of the queen's physicians. The guards will have to escort these doctors in their royal duties, wherever they may take them. They will go into the city to help the sick, but if they want to get a grip on this disease, people will have to cooperate and do what the doctors order them to do!

Then Kroft's tone grows grimmer: "There is something else ... you are to consider orders from any of the queen's Gray Maidens to be as binding as any superior officer in the Korvosan Guard." A murmur of protest rises up from the dozens of red-and-gold-armored guards in the courtyard, but Kroft commands them to be quiet. "You are guardsmen of Korvosa, you have a duty to the citizens of this great city. These are dire times and our people need you and they certainly need these healers. You will do as commanded! Now, all patrol leaders to me for your assignments!" Quint makes his way through the soldiers and approaches Doctor Saulus. He offers is assistance in escorting the doctor himself, but the kind man replies that his job consists of coordinating his physicians work, so we won't be needing a personal escort. He does thank Quint for his kind offer, though, and tells him that he might call on him if the need arises.

When the patrol leaders have been given their orders, they take their men and leave the citadel with two of the new doctors in tow. The companions also depart, heading to Trail's End to see Grau's niece Brienna. As they travel through the streets of East Shore, a gaunt man with only one eye preaches to them that this plague is the wrath of Urgathoa, the goddess of disease, who is displeased that she has not been given her own spot in the Pantheon of the Many, Korvosa's temple to seventeen different gods, spread out over seventeen small shrines in a huge building in South Point. The Pallid Princess is not among these seventeen, which obviously vexes her. The old man claims that Urgathoa will not stop until every house has lost someone to the plague! The companions ignore the mad man's rambling and focus on aiding sick little Brienna instead. Her mother has already informed two of her former employers that she will be leaving, there is one more person to go before she is free to work at the companions' villa instead. Of course, that will have to wait until her daughter gets better, Tayce says. Sjo and Balian take their time to give the girl the necessary care. When they are finally done, they want to drop by Meep Gildenglare, the wererat seamstress, to see if she can offer any insight or help. On their way over there they notice new posters all over town:

"By Decree of Her Royal Majesty, the Radiant Queen Ileosa I, all citizens and members of the Korvosan Guard are to aid and admit the newly established Queen’s Physicians in this time of urgency. These royal agents will extend healing to the sick and organize defense against the spreading affliction. They are to be allowed access to any home or building they deem necessary in the course of their duties. All those suffering from disease or disorder are to submit themselves to the Physicians for treatment. To aid in the duties of the Queen’s Physicians, know that the order of the Gray Maidens has been established to provide military support as needed. The Maidens answer directly to the Crimson Throne, and will be called upon as necessary to augment and strengthen the peace where simple city guards will not suffice. Impeding or distracting the duties of the Queen’s Physicians or the Gray Maidens is punishable by imprisonment. Impersonating one of the Queen’s Physicians is punishable by death. Knowingly harboring or hiding the infected is punishable by death. Purposefully spreading the plague is punishable by torture, then death. The Queen’s Physicians will be making rounds of every city district henceforth until Her Majesty deems this misfortune abated."

Meep's Gilded Needle is a cute little shop along Burnt Bridge Boulevard. Meep is still the same kind old lady the companions met five years ago, though she doesn't immediately recognize her visitors. Quint reminds her of the play and refers to her 'power' over the rats. He wonders if she would be able to talk to the animals to find out more. She claims to be very worried about the rats dying recently, as she has four tame rats running around her shop whom she loves very much. She fears for their safety and has decided to keep them indoors for the time being. She confirms that she can exert some influence over them and their kin, but the rodents only possess animal intelligence, so they cannot speak, not even in a secret rat language, Meep smiles. "I can only get them to understand some basic, commands", she continues, "pretty much like you can with your dog. I fear that my aid in fighting this plague will be limited to laying low and hoping that the disease skips my door. I'm sorry I cannot be of more help."

26 Sarenith 4708

Mouse has a good night and is doing a bit better the next morning. The companions decide to go to the temple of Sarenrae to buy a new wand of cure light wounds. On the way over there they come across an old man in rags who is hanging from a pole. His hands have been tied together above his head and his back is badly scarred from a whipping. The wounds suggest that the lashes were delivered last night. A woman in the streets says that his name is Lombard. He sweeps the streets and makes some extra money selling rats for food to the poor. He was punished by a mob of citizens yesterday for trying to sell diseased rats. The companions cut him loose, heal him a bit and send him on his way, warning him not to pull his stupid stunts again. The seriousness of the plague also becomes clear when a mourning family carries out a heavy body bag and lays it down in front of their house. The city's body carters will be transporting more than just dead rats today.

Ezekiel Sollux, the highpriest of the temple of Sarenrae, is glad to see Sjo. He informs his former acolyte that the situation is very bad. The temple has already been converted to an improvised hospital, but the scale of the disease is making it impossible to care for all the sick. He sends out his priests to make as many house calls as possible, transporting only the worst cases to the church. There is some magic available, but that is quickly spent, so the priests have to rely on their mundane training in the arts of healing instead. Sollux asks Sjo to help out a bit and the Shoanti agrees immediately, as does Balian.

Meanwhile Quint and Puk pay Cressida Kroft a visit. The Field Marshal gets a full report of what transpired in the Carowyn Manor last night. Quint also reveals that they were warned of danger by the Vudran rabble-rouser Selena. She claimed that the queen is responsible for whatever evil was planned at the party. Kroft can only conclude that this Vudran lady has to be brought in as soon as possible. If she was not responsible for planting the shadow at the party herself, she must at least have more information on who did. Kroft also feels unhappy about the manipulative ways of the dark-skinned woman, whatever her schemes are, they always lead to trouble, so she must be stopped. The Field Marshal also has some news. The queen has summoned doctors from Cheliax to help fight the plague. They will arrive here today through teleportation and Kroft will have to employ her troops to assist these healers as they go into the city. She actually expects them to arrive any moment.

Sjo quickly swings by the temple of Shelyn to see his girlfriend, priestess Larella Semyr, but he only finds closed doors. He meets up with his friends and as they head back to the Citadel to see the queen's new doctors for themselves, he ponders on the time when he, Balian and Quint participated in the Pied Piper play while they were still kids. He explains to Puk that they performed the play with real rats on stage. An old woman was hiding underneath the boards, controlling the rodents. Although they were forbidden from doing so, the boys sneaked a peek at the lady while the play was in full swing. That is when they saw her for what she really was, a wererat! Alan, the kind leader of the Varisian theater troupe, told them afterwards that the lady could indeed transform into a rat, but that she was 'one of the good ones' who could do that. Meep Gildenglare still lives in the city; she owns a seamstress shop called The Gilded Needle in North Point on Burnt Bridge Boulevard. Maybe she can shed some light on the rats and their disease.

Panic slips through the crowd in the great hall of the Carowyn Manor. The dark creature that has just crawled from the chimney looms before Sjo and Quint, who realize that almost all of the invitees to this party have been gathered in this one room. The ease with which this lightless threat took down its first victim could very well be the preface to a bloodbath. Fortunately the creature's own tactics prove helpful in getting the noble guests to safety. Weaving its inky magic the shadow blasts out an aura of fear that strikes terror in the hearts of half the people in the room. Overcome by mortal dread Balian makes for the front door and pushes it open, freeing the way for the other guests to flee the scene, even those who have not been affected by the creature's fearful magic. Sjo is also among the unfortunates who are panicked initially, but he recovers even before he makes it out into the streets. Quint, Puk, Xerxes Jeggare and Christina Leroung are the only ones who stand their ground. Quint engages the shadow, taking on a defensive stance, while Christina shouts out that this enemy is extremely hard to hit: you need magic weapons made of cold iron or force magic to hurt it, and even then its incorporeal state and many protection will be an obstacle. She immediately proves her point by sending two magic missiles at the creature that do not penetrate its magic resistance. Puk's first swing also gets lost in thin air.

The shadow rewards three of his four remaining adversaries for their bravery by engulfing them in an explosion of green and yellow flames. Not recognizing the magic for what it really is, an illusionary shadow version of a fireball, they are hit to the spell's full effect. Puk relies on his roguish adeptness at avoiding similar magical explosions and evades to lick of the burning tongues altogether, but Quint and Christina are not so lucky and get seriously burnt. Although he is badly damaged, the bard is still on his feet. The fierce daughter of House Leroung does not have enough vitality to survive the blast though and goes down in a smoking heap. Xerxes, who was in the other corner of the room, did not get caught in the burst of yellow and green fire. His mundane rapier will be of no good against this foe, so he rushes to Christina's side to make sure she is still alive. Another ally appears at the top of the stairs, Perishial Kalissreavil, the elven ambassador. He also recognizes this creature for what it is and throws his dagger to the ground: "Take it, it is made of cold iron", he shouts as he fires two magic missiles from his fingers as well. This time the force arrows penetrate the creature's defenses, delivering some real damage at last. While Quint retreats to administer some much needed healing to his own wounds, Sjo turns around and charges the shadow, using his new dwarven mace. The cold iron from which it was forged proves its worth as the Shoanti tears away some of the threatening shady curls. Puk picks up the elf's dagger, but his feeble swing hardly hurts the opponent.

With Balian running wild in the street and Puk being able to only inflict the tiniest amounts of damage, Sjo is the only one who stands some chance at beating back this shadow. His full plate armor provides no protection whatsoever against the incorporeal claws of his enemy, making him an easy target. The creature tears at the Shoanti as if he were naked. Puk finds that his nimbleness provides more protection, but is hit nonetheless and suffers the sting of the cold tendrils. Perishial throws a healing potion down Christina's throat, saving her from death's embrace and pushes the girl into Xerxes' arms, who carries her outside. Quint rejoins the fight and bolsters Puk's fighting prowess with heroism, while the halfling finally manages to slip into a flanking position. His hopes of delivering some serious damage now with his sneak attack prove futile as he finds no weak spot to hit. So he continues picking away at the shade's life force one smoky sliver at a time. Sjo fares better, even though half of each smash is also lost to the air and his blows are answers by smoky claws that totally ignore his mighty plate. At this rate he will never outlast his opponent, so Quint helps out by healing his friend, more or less keeping pace with the damage that is being delivered.

Perishial casts his last two magic missiles and shouts he is out, stepping into the next room. A moment later Christina Leroung reappears in the front door. She still looks very weak - she was probably just nursed back to consciousness with some potions - but her sorcerer powers allow her to throw more magic force missiles at the shadow. Despite the small amounts of damage that everyone is inflicting, the combined efforts of the defenders are slowly wearing down the dark outsider. Somewhere out in the street, already a block away from the manor, Balian snaps out of his panic and stops fleeing. He glares up at the moon, deciding he doesn't like it so much - don't ask - and would rather still be in the great hall fighting the mysterious attacker. He only hopes his friends will still be alive by the time he makes it back to the house.

With Quint's healing now balancing out the shadow's strokes, Sjo, Puk and Christina gain the upper hand. The Leroung sorceress blasts two more magic missiles into the swirl of black coils and Sjo calls out to Sarenrae, begging the sun goddess to aid him in defeating the darkness. He hits the shadow twice in rapid succession, ripping the final shred of shade apart.

What happens afterwards is a bit of a blur to the Shoanti. His head is still light from the rush of the fight and the drinks that Puk and Quint pour their friends to recover from the excitement. He notices that Cedrik Carowyn returns with a patrol of Korvosan Guards in his wake. Fortunately Xerxes offers to talk to the captain, freeing the companions from the task of making a report. Puk also discovers some kind of rune on the inside of the chimney breast. Whatever this thing was, it was summoned by powerful magic through this magic mark. Since the party is obviously over, the companions head back home again for a good night of sleep.

Instead of killing a well-liked NPC off, you should offer the PCs the chance to save him, e.g. he gets sick with the plague but the characters make sure he gets cured.

Knick wrote:
That was pretty short compared to most of my posts...

Lol, true, but it's always a pleasure to pick your mind for ideas.

Knick wrote:

Option 2: Ileosa decides to hedge her bets.

In this scenario, Ileosa isn't completely sure her Grey Maidens are ready to handle a group like the PCs. At least, not able to handle it quietly. Ultimately, it doesn't matter to Ileosa what the PCs think, so much as what the city at large thinks. She informs Davaulus of his incompetence, and demands to know what the Red Mantis are going to do about it. She isn't paying them a king's ransom to bungle the plan and ruin her reputation. She pulls the Grey Maidens out of the Hospice, if only to minimize her apparent involvement. She lets the doctor know that she will throw him under the donkey cart if this scheme goes public--so don't let it go public.

Now, Davaulus didn't get to where he is today by being timid. The man has a fair amount of confidence in his own abilities and the backing of the Red Mantis. I would treat the whole temple as on alert, really making the PCs earn it. Add some more physicians to make up for the Grey Maidens, or maybe just some mercenary thugs with surprisingly similar stats...

In this way, you can basically run the adventure as written, with a simple "I was wondering when you would show up" line added to a Davaulus or Rolth or Andaisin monologue.

If Davaulus succeeds and the PCs are defeated, Ileosa can continue as normal. If the PCs succeed, she has no direct involvement and can pin it all on the doctor. Rolth is also a nice target here. The two times I ran this AP I played Rolth up as a little unhinged, and in his own mind he thought the plague plot was all his anyway. I conveyed this to the PCs by having him scream to the clerics to stop the group from ruining his work. It ultimately didn't stop either party from determining that the Queen was behind it all, but it was a noble effort and I'll try it again if I am ever so lucky to run it for a third group. Also, do yourself a favor and let Rolth get away--he can be a lot of fun.

Anyway, in this case Ileosa makes sure that she can't lose either way the PCs' investigation turns out. Having hired the plaguemaker is a black mark on her decision making, but not nearly as bad as being the person who had the plague created to cull the city of offensive poor people. Obviously, whichever bureaucrat that is resisting the new order most will be executed for passing along the Davaulus recommendation, since he/she was obviously in league with the doctor. Maybe you can throw the PCs off the Queen's scent with this, maybe you can't. Honestly, you need the Queen-as-enemy to be revealed soon anyway, if only to drive the PCs out of the city at the end of Book 3.

I like Knick's second option the best. This way Ileosa has total deniability, no matter how things turn out. Either result is okay by her: if the PCs lose, she got rid of those nosy adventurers, if the PCs win, she tied up a loose end (the doctors).

I do understand the problem with the sunken ship, though. I'm at the start of the second book as well and I dropped the news about the ship. My players have been curious about the vessel as well and I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to go to the shipwreck before I planned for them to do so. Still, that won't pose too much of a problem. All the encounters for this adventure fall into two categories: the ones related to fighting the disease and its consequences on the city, and the ones fighting the bad guys. In my preparation the disease-fighting scenes come first, the fight against the bad guys come second. But if the bad guys get tackled first, there still is the need to cope with the disease and its influence if the PCs want to save Korvosa's civilians.

I have made the information on the ship indirect, though. It does not implicate the doctor, but rather points to an abandoned villa where the PCs can find more info on 'Davaulus' (his name is Doctor Dave Saulus in my campaign, because Davaulus is too much of a give-away) and his evil schemes. The villa is a reworked version of Misgivings, Foxglove Manor, from Rise of the Runelords # 2. I'll be including the Graul homestead from # 3 as well on the way over there. Later on I want to make the PCs more instrumental in making the cure as well. Since none of the PCs have alchemy as a skill, they will need to enlist an outsider's help in producing the cure, but the information they bring in from the 'bad guys' will be very important in speeding up that process. The PCs will further aid the production of the cure by looking for an ingredient needed to copy the medicine quickly. This quest will be an adapation of The Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale, where a special mushroom grows.

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Kyiera wrote:

I am brand new to DMing and still learning how to wing it when my players go off "script". They went to the Direption and discovered the papers in Davaulus' name. Last game, they very nearly went to the guards at the castle in an attempt to tell the Queen what they'd learned. They got sidetracked, but may still try to approach her.

Has anyone else run into this? Thoughts on what happens if they tell the castle guards that they suspect the Queen's Physicians are actually helping to spread the plague? Although I think it would be a very interesting development, it seems a little daunting for me right now to head in the direction of them being imprisoned or tried for treason or something of that sort. Is it logical to think the castle guards even know what's going on? Or that they would pass a message onto the queen herself (or someone higher up)? Any suggestions?

The queen is a major manipulator. If my PCs were to approach her with this news, I'd have her tell them that she is glad they told her, but she doesn't know who she can trust anymore. Some of the guards have turned out to be unreliable (think of Vancaskerin and his buddies, or other guards who have deserted), now the physicians are traitors and her Grey Maidens are - let's face it - still inexperienced. So she asks the PCs - the only ones she can trust - to look into the problem. Of course she can give the traitorous doctors and cultists the heads-up, so they are expecting the PCs ... In this case I would remove the Grey Maidens from the hospital, but you can put extra mercenaries (or even red mantis assassins) in their place.

The Carowyn home is a stately manor along Shoreline Way, just a street away from the companions' own villa. It serves as the in-town house of Ausio and Olauren Carowyn, a small noble family with lots of land outside the city, where lord Carowyn prefers to spend most of his days. His son, Cedrik, however, is more inclined to stay in the city, officially to look over his family's interests, but his main reasons are of a personal nature. Like most young men he enjoys the excitement of city-life. Since his family's city estate is actually built for entertaining, Cedrik takes full advantage of that by regularly throwing parties for his peers as a way to raise his house's standing among the older noble families. When the companions arrive at his Bloodsworn mahogany front door, he welcomes them with open arms. Had he known that the heroes of the city were interested in coming to his masquerade party, he would have invited them himself, he claims. He shows his guest into the great hall, where Ruan Mirukova from the Marble Dome's orchestra is playing some music and his sister Deyanira is dancing. A scantily-clad woman serves the newcomers a drink, as they politely say hello to the visitors in this room. Valdur Bromathan V makes for a far less impressive barbarian in his Shoanti outfit than Balian in his rattlebone armor, while Derrik Jeggare, lord Mercival's son, is dressed as a lion and Alice Fordyce makes for a fearsome pirate. The cutest person in this hall is doe-eyed shepherdess Siri Leroung.

In the front sitting room the companions reconnect with Aaron Endrin, the eldest son of Marcus Endrin, the commander of the Sable Company. Aaron has started his training to become a Sable marine himself, after serving his father as a squire for many years. This role is now being observed by his smaller brother, Jonas, who is here as well. Quint remembers seeing Aaron with Marguerite Jeggare at the grand feast in her family's museum three weeks ago, so he informs if Korvosa's most beautiful girl is here as well. Aaron tells him she won't be attending parties any time soon, as she has joined the queen's guard to serve as one of the Grey Maidens. Quint is quite surprised to hear that, but Aaron explains that he understands the call of military duty. Despite her beauty Marguerite is not an air-headed puppet, but a self-confident and principled young lady who is allowed to make her own choices in life. Christina Leroung disapproves of Marguerite's "dumb" decision. She can understand Aaron's ambition to join the Sable Company, as he was born to become their next commander, but she cannot get why someone from a noble family would chose to play the part of an anonymous soldier, certainly not if she has Marguerite's looks. That girl can get any man she wants, so why she prefers to waste her time chasing windmills is beyond Christina. While the conversation is on the topic of the Grey Maidens, Quint also asks Aaron if he knows where all those new soldiers suddenly came from. Aaron confirms that one ship was registered coming from Cheliax with over a hundred Maiden recruits. Neither the Leroungs nor the Endrins have any sick family members at the moment, although they do realize the threat: diseases do not stop at a nobleman's door.

In the dining hall the companions come across even more guests. Verana Ornelos is trying her best to hide her average features by dressing up as a hot succubus, succeeding only partially at the job. Her younger sister Julia possesses a lot more natural grace and looks stunning as a fairy princess. The cute little noble lacks her family's knack for magic, however, so she will be one of the few Ornelos children not pursuing a career in spell-weaving. Her sister Verana, on the other hand, will shortly start her Acadamae education. Belinda Zenderholm takes some time to get to know the companions better. She has heard many good things about them from her mother, high judge Zenobia. She cautions Sjo not to encourage Amin Jalento to drink too much. He is rumored to have got really drunk at the Riverwind Festival three days ago, spoiling what is left of his reputation and his family's good name by whoring and drinking in Eel's End. He is already quite inebriated and shows no signs of slowing down. He wants to share a drink with the men who saved him from half a dozen hot-tempered dockworkers during the riots. He is also glad his father, the "respectable" captain, is not here to rebuke him some more, as he is prone to do, preferably in public. Another person in this room is Perishial Kalissreavil, the half-elven ambassador of the Mierani Elves. He totally lives up to his reputation of womanizer by flirting with Julia Ornelos. Before long he smooth talks her into following him upstairs.

The companions meet their closest friends among the city's nobles in the music room. Aisha Leroung, the star of the Saint Alika opera, makes for a sexy vampire tonight. She immediately clings to Quint's arm and wants to know what he's been up to. She has not started a new project herself yet, but she hopes the Marble Dome's director Touran Palastus comes up with something soon. Flamboyant Xerxes Jeggare has chosen to come as Blackjack and feels inspired to play some music with Sjo, Quint and Puk. He takes a seat behind the harpsichord and starts a little session that draws more guest to the back room. His sister Maud is as fine company as ever, joking and laughing in her pretty peacock dress. Sjo strikes up a conversation with Sara Bromathan, who is dressed up as a chaste version of Sarenrae. Like her father she envisions a career serving the sun goddess. She wonders about the source of Sjo's strange divine powers, as she knows from her father that Sjo served as an acolyte to Sarenrae for some time, but then dropped out. Sjo explains that his powers come to him naturally; he has a special talent for fire magic, which puzzles Sara even more. She thinks it might have been wiser to pursue the same path as Verana Ornelos and train as a wizard, but Sjo figures that his powers are more like those of the Shoanti shamans. (Although Sjo is officially an "oracle", that name does not really fit the bill, so if we call him anything at all, we prefer to use the term "shaman", which has absolutely nothing to do with the new shaman class.) The Cinderlands barbarians have several clans, one of which is called the sun-clan. Sjo suspects he is related to them.

Quint remembers why he and his friends came here, to secretly watch over the guests tonight, so he invites everyone back into the main hall, trying to get as many people together as possible. He cannot avoid that some invitees wander off into the dining room to get something at the bar, but with the open door between the two spaces, he can keep tabs on the people in there as well. While the pleasantries of the evening further unfold, the fire in the hearth suddenly flickers and dies out. The candles in the great chandelier follow one second later, plummeting the room in darkness and startling some of the girls. Sjo, who was standing next to fireplace, has no trouble seeing in the dark. His vision might be limited, but it is also more powerful at short distance, allowing him the gift of darkvision. Realizing that he is probably the only one in the room who can see now, a slight grin slips over his face as he reaches for the wood in the hearth. He sends a touch of flame through his fingers to relight the firewood, but is surprised to see a shadowy creature crawling down from the chimney, just inches from his face. The sighs of surprise from the girls turn to screams of terror now. How could Sjo have missed that thing in the dark? Unless the shadow did not show up in his darkvision ... that must be it! With the fire still licking his fingers, Sjo makes for the creature, but the flames do not seem to hurt it. With his other hand the Shoanti pushes back Sara Bromathan, trying to move her out of harm's way. As the fire on his hand dies out again, the room sinks back into darkness and the creature disappears in the black once more. Balian draws his blade and Puk unsheathes his silver blade, both of them standing ready to react. Then Quint casts a light spell on one of his devil's horns. Although the brightness of his light seems to suffer from the presence of the shadow, it does reveal that the creature has already flown out of the fireplace and wrapped its dark tendrils around the servant girl. The frozen look of death stares from her eyes, as she slips to the floor.

25 Sarenith 4708

That morning Korwick and Heldrin inform Sjo that their friend Mouse is running a fever. The Shoanti examines the boy and finds him ill with the first symptoms of the mysterious disease that is plaguing Korvosa. He gives the lad proper treatment and orders him to stay in bed. After that he and Balian make their way to Trail's End to take care of little Brienna. Body carters are at work in the streets to clean up the dead rats and a woman almost empties her chamber pot on Balian's head, but the ranger's quick reflexes save him from a smelly shower. There is a dead rodent in the filth as well.

At Brienna's house Sjo is happy to learn that the girl is doing better today, although she hasn't conquered the disease yet. While he is there he offers Brienna's mother Tayce a full-time job in the villa, promising to pay her half more than what she's making right now. When Brienna gets well, she can join her mother as well. Tayce happily accepts, but asks some time to inform her current employers that she will be making a career change.

Meanwhile Quint and Puk swing by the opera house to ask for a favour from Delindra, the old elven seamstress who looks over the Marble Dome's large collection of costumes. She immediately agrees to help her friends with their outfits for the party at the Carowyn residence. Puk wants to be a dwarf, Quint will go as a male erinyes devil, while Sjo will dress up as a Hellknight and Balian as a bone-themed Shoanti. The kind elven needleworker tells the companions to return in three hours for a first fitting.

Over lunch Quint muses about Amarice, their one time fellow lamb who joined the Grey Maidens. He is curious how she's doing, but is even more interested in finding out more about the Maidens themselves. The companions still know very little about this new military force, they don't even know where the armor-clad soldiers are staying. Quint decides to write Amarice a letter, inviting her to breakfast.

When they return to the Marble Dome, the companions come across a struggle in the street. Ishani Dhatri, the half-Vudran priest of Abadar, is the victim of a broad shouldered man who is pressing a dagger to his back: "I'll tell you one more time, priest, if you don't heal my son, things will turn ugly!"

"But I already used up all my magic for the day. I CANNOT help you today ... but maybe if you go to the temple, they'll be able to help you out ..." the desperate priest tries.

"I've already been to your stinking temple. They want money, lots of it, or they don't care about you. That is how pious your Abadarian brothers are!"

"I suggest you back off immediately", Quint interferes. "I don't see how killing a man helps your son. It will only get his father thrown in jail while this is the time he needs you most to take care of him."

"You should try the other churches", Sjo adds. "Go to the temple of Sarenrae and ask for Nathan. Tell him Sjo sent you."

The burly man backs off, realizing that his current actions will only get him into trouble. He mumbles a faint apology to the shaken priest and makes off to the Sarenites instead. Ishani thanks the companions for their aid and informs about Brienna. He is obviously pleased to learn that she is doing better.

At the Marble Dome Delindra has everyone try out his costume for this evening. Although the garments seem to fit nicely, Delindra is a perfectionist and pulls out a few needles and pins for some last minute adjustments. She has the four young men return to her at half past six, to help them get dressed and made up.

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The question is basically, if Caelus did enough heroic stuff in Korvosa, would the Zenderholms be willing to change their minds and accept him into the nobility as per his late father's wishes? Or would they basically be "Nope! No Shoanti-bloods allowed in our family, period!"

Zenobia Zenderholm, the current head of the family, is a judge who is known for her strict, no-nonsense court rulings. She is LG in alignment with a strong emphasis on the Lawful aspect. She adheres to the law and is not afraid to send criminals to the execution block, but she also has a less known human side, as she supports the orphanages in the city (not from a distance but by actually helping out).

This means that she is not lead by her emotions, but rather by the law, logical arguments and commons sense. Add her 'human side' to that and she is probably one of the most open-minded nobles in the city when it comes to accepting Shoanti, unless Korvosa's laws dictate otherwise.

In your case, I would make her the PC's aunt (his father's older sister). Her father, the lord of the house at the time the PC was born, is the one who cast out his son and spat on his legacy. Zenobia never really agreed with him and might be willing to give her nephew a chance at proving himself worthy (now there's the rub, as Zenobia is extremely lawful and her bloodrager nephew will be anything but lawful). You could even decide that Zenobia has no children, which would leave the family heirless. In this case Zenobia could even be looking for a successor.

If the king's passing still took place in your campaign and turmoil broke out in the city as a consequence, blocking the bridges makes perfect sense. The Hell Knight despise the riots and will do everything in their power to contain the problem and nip it in the bud. On top of that, your encounter served as a nice introduction to the Hell Knights, so you made the right call.

Olondir wrote:

The Initial Riots

Read this in your favorite news reporter’s voice
Breaking news in Korvosa this evening; a young Korvosan was stabbed by police outside the Wounded Wretch Taphouse which some are calling a “Gross Miscarriage of Justice.” The Guardsmen in question was responding to a disturbance call inside the Taphouse where, according to observers, proceeded to fatally stab the victim. It is unclear at this time if the victim was, indeed, armed or a threat, but the crowd seems to be organizing an ad-hoc protest in response.

This is the first battle of a very long, bloody war for the soul of Korvosa.

While I do like your idea that the riots are caused by a 'police' incident getting out of hand, I miss the link with the king's passing. The real reason why the people are rioting is their lack of trust in the new queen's ability to rule. So instead of some drunk nobody who gets killed by accident, I'd link it to the king.

Here's an idea: after the king died, people are sad and start drinking to the king's health. Some of them get really drunk and start discussing the future. In their drunken stupor, they are sure that the queen won't be able to rule Korvosa well, so they (just a dozen men or so, not a lot) march to the castle, demanding to speak to the queen. When the guards refuse them entry, a skirmish ensues at the foot of the great mastaba, which leads to death of one of the drunkards. This death could feed more protest ...

24 Sarenith 4708

When the companions walk down the street the next day, they see dead rats everywhere. People claim that they saw rats dying under their eyes. The animals convulsed in desperate spasms until they stopped moving. Asking around in the temple of Pharasma, our friends learn that half a dozen people have come in sick today with the same symptoms as Brienna. Sjo wants to swing by the Shoanti camp to give Thousand Bones the pendant he found in the Shundar-Quah tumulus. He is surprised to find out that the visitors from the Cinderlands have left town. Gaekhen's family was very angry about his death and the defilement of his body. There were also rumors that the Shoanti on the Storval plateau are gathering for war and Gaekhen's father was eager to join them, while Thousand Bones felt his mission should take him there as well, but then with the purpose of trying to prevent such a war.

Puk and Sjo use the privacy of the old fishery to examine some dead rats. Puk shaves them so Sjo can study their skin. They also have red spots, which have even turned into terrible sores with pus and blood. They clearly died from the advanced stages of the same disease that some citizens have contracted. The companions scour the pubs in the harbor to find out more about the ship that sank in the river, fearing it might be connected to the sick rats. There is no sign of other dead animals, the fish and birds all seem to be unaffected. If anyone knows more about the ship, it's the Sable Company. There were some hippogryph riders in the air when the vessel went down.

Since Balian is not the smoothest talker, he chooses to sit at a quiet table while his mates are gathering information. As he is enjoying his drink, he sees a shapely woman approaching. She is very beautiful, has a tanned skin and shiny dark hair. "You're Balian, one of Korvosa's new heroes, are you not?" she smiles while she bends forward, offering the ranger a peek into her cleavage. "I would like a word, but you have to promise me not to get mad and let me finish." Balian sighs, suspecting that this is the Vudran schemer he and his friends have been looking for.

"Our paths have crossed in the past, although we never actually met", she continues. "My name is Selena, but you already guessed that, I suspect. I hope you give me the chance to clarify something in a civilized way. I am indeed the one who set up Verik Vancaskerin in All the World's Meat, so he could feed the starving people of the city."

"With human meat", Balian grunts.

"Verik was not responsible for the actions of the goons that went with him ... those cow hammer boys had their own agenda. He did not know about their evil deeds. A most unfortunate circumstance that was, but Verik's intentions were true, as were mine, with the butcher's shop.

Anyway, I am part of ... an organization that has never trusted the queen, from the early start. We believe her to be a power-hungry manipulator who orchestrated the king's death to claim the throne for herself. A month ago you were still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and help her secure her position. But lately, if I'm not mistaken, some cracks have started to appear in this confidence. I've been following your exploit from a distance and I suspect that you also have some doubts about the queen's true intentions ... or at least that is what I would think of the men who helped free the falsely accused murderer of the king from the queen's clutches." At these words the woman peers deeply into Balian's eyes. "Yes," she claims, "I have my resources. But don't worry, your secrets are safe with me, including the location where the girl is hiding right now."

"But enough of that for now. I fear the queen has been concocting new evil plans to tighten her grip on the city. She will strike among those who can still oppose the most, the city's nobles. Tomorrow night, there is a party at the Carowyn residence where the young scions of the noble houses will be present, a masked ball, to be exact. Cedrik Carowyn, the family's son is hosting the event in his villa in South Shore, which is quite close to your place, actually.

Two days ago one of the Carowyn servant girls visited the castle ... twice. She moved through the streets in a highly suspicious manner and normally there would be no reason at all for her to go to the palace, so naturally I got curious as to why she'd gone there. I tried looking her up yesterday, only to find out that she hadn't survived the night. Apparently she was captured by the Grey Maidens and killed while 'resisting arrest'. I can't help but feel very uncomfortable about this ... I smell the queen's scheming and I fear she will put her plans to fruition at tomorrow's little ball.

The four of you are well liked and well connected, so I would like to think that you could easily get yourselves invited. Moreover, you are skilled enough to interfere if things go wrong. Several of your friends will be there as well, Aisha Leroung and Xerxes Jeggare, to name two. I'm not asking you to help because of my beautiful eyes, but I would hate to see anything happen to those innocent youngsters while the queen tightens her grip on the city and its people. I would also like to think that heroes as yourself want to keep their friends from harm.

I tell you again ... I'm not sure what the queen is up to, but my gut tells me it's nothing good. You are my best hope of keeping the situation under control. And, even if nothing happens, you get to enjoy a nice party and rub elbows with with the future bigwigs of the city. I can imagine worse things."

Balian lets the woman finish, but that does not imply that he trusts her. "And why should I trust you? Who says you're not luring us into a trap or trying to keep us away from something else?"

"Did you have plans for tomorrow, then, that I'm keeping you away from anything?"

"We might ..."

"Well, the strange thing is ... we've been fighting on opposite sides, while I think we've been in the same camp all along. We both want what is best for Korvosa. I give you this information freely because you might offer a hand if needed. Check it out and then judge me. I, for one, hope that this meeting signals a new beginning for us."

"And how do we contact you?"

"You don't, I'll contact you. But if you desperately need to get in touch with me, just ask around in the harbor. I'll know soon enough. For now, young ranger, I bid you adieu. I'll be seeing you." At that Selena gets up and disappears in the crowd.

Balian quickly informs his friends. They are mad at him for letting Selena go so easily. Why didn't he ask about the assassination attempt in the opera? She claims to be a 'good guy', so how does she explain that? They are also worried that she claimed to know about Trinia and her new hiding place. She didn't actually say she knew where Trinia was, but she certainly hinted that she did. They wonder how she found out. Only Vencarlo and Blackjack are in the loop. Is she connected to either one of them? Or is she Blackjack? Everything about the caped crusader points at a 'man', his build looks and his voice sounds male, but that could all be a clever ruse.

Later that day the companions visit Tayce Soldado again. Brienna has been getting worse once more. Sjo attempts to cure her with an application of restorative ointment, but the magic fails. Next he strengthens her health again with lesser restoration and gives her the necessary care. Balian aids him while Puk cooks up some dinner for the family and plays with the boys. Afterwards the companions go to the Great Tower, the headquarters of the Sable Company. From his former colleague Max Sjo learns that the ship that sunk was on fire, although it went down so fast that it couldn't have been the fire alone. Stranger even was the fact that he saw no one on board. It was as if he was flying over a ghost ship. The last stop of the day is House Jeggare. Xerxes is happy to receive his friends and will see to it that they get invited to the Carowyn party. If they procure their outfits, he will make sure they get in.

Sjo, Balian and Puk meet up with Quint and head to North Point to talk to Brienna' employer. While making their way across the city, Sjo takes the Harrow deck in his hands to consult Zellara's ghost about the strange disease. He gets a mental answer that she is not familiar with it, but maybe a new reading of the cards later today will offer some insight. When they reach the address where Brienna cleans, Sjo talks to the lady of the house. She has no symptoms and seems to be mostly worried about how long Brienna will be out. Asking around in the neighborhood does not unveil more information about sick people.

The companions also cross the bridge to Old Korvosa to pay a visit to Vencarlo Orisini. When the fencing master sees them arriving, he ends his lesson prematurely and sends his students off to clean up. He is very pleased to learn that Trinia is now safely in Harse with his old friend Jasan and thanks the four young men for their help. In fact, he has a reward for them. A long time ago he and Jasan were members of a band of adventurers, but they parted company with the Blackbirds over a conflict about what to do with the loot from an ancient dwarven tomb. While their friends decided to keep the treasure, Vencarlo and Jasan went to the city of Janderhoff to return their share of the loot to the dwarves. The Janderhoff people greatly appreciated their gesture, but still allowed them to keep what they had found. In Vencarlo's case it was a weapon, but preferring blades himself (especially the rapier), he never used it. Still, he never got rid of it either, promising himself that he would not sell it for profit, but rather put it to good use. Now he has found such a purpose in Sjo, who is well trained to wield it. Vencarlo disappears upstairs for a couple of minutes and returns with a heavy mace in his hands. Sjo is a bit shy about accepting it, but then he promises to use it to help defend the city. The metal feels quite cool to the touch as the weapon turns out to be made of cold iron.

That evening, after dinner, Sjo pulls out the Harrow cards and summons Zellara's ghost for a reading. The fortuneteller feels that Sjo's earlier questions about sickness and health would be best suited with the shield cards, as they represent constitution, the body's natural defense against illness. She removes the nine cards with the shield symbol from the deck and allows each companion to pick one of them. Sjo pulls out the trumpet, which represents an archon blowing a horn in an overt declaration of power. This display of force clearly calls for Sjo to face the dire situations ahead with similar confidence. Quint picks the brass dwarf which shows an azer who is unaffected by the flames that surround him. Likewise Quint will have to find the strength to withstand whatever dangers will cross his path. Balian's card is the waxworks, a place of helplessness which dangles a bound man above a steaming vat of molten wax. If he is plunged into the boiling goo, he will be frozen in place for ever in eternal torture. Balian will have to be extra careful not to be caught in the inability to move or act himself, so this card serves as a dire warning. Despite his small build, even for a halfling, Puk draws the mountain man, signifying that he might be a giant amongst men. The towering giant also stands for a huge force that is very hard to control, so hard even that it might be wise not to get carried away by it, if you want to survive its destructive power.

Next Zellara puts the shield cards back in the deck and performs a full reading for everyone. Puk still needs to come at peace with his past, as shown by both the inquisitor and juggler card. There is tragedy that he still hasn't fully accepted, as if he can't admit the truth about his own involvement, not even to himself. The wanderer in his present acts as a collector of things that are valuable to him, even when others consider them useless. Puk has also shown a great knack for acquiring items, as he is possibly the best equipped member of the group. His days to come turn up two misaligned cards. The rakshasa reveals the threat of a force that wants to enslave the bodies or minds of others, but the fact that it is in the opposite corner indicates that Puk might play an important part in casting off this enslavement. The empty throne suggests that this threat originates in an ancient past, whose restless ghost reaches out to the present.

Balian's past is under the sign of the winged serpent, pointing out that the ranger has always known when the time to act had arrived. Apparently Puk is not the only giant amongst men, because the mountain man in Balian's present reveals that he is an equally impressive force. The beating also indicates that the companions are constantly being threatened from multiple sides, making it hard to tell who is a friend and who is the enemy. The future turns up the unicorn and the hidden truth, although the third card in this column, which remains uninterpreted, is the idiot, which obviously elicits some snickering from Balian's friends. The unicorn stands for someone who will offer help to uncover the real truth, although the hidden truth predicts that this truth might be something you had rather not known.

Quint's cards reveal little. Just like in his first reading he does not draw a single card from the suit that blesses today's session. Characters gain a Harrow point for every card they draw from the chosen suit, which was shields for this reading. However, I do not use the Harrow points as suggested in the AP because I found that system a bit too complex, but rather as reserve hero points. As PCs can only have three hero points at most and need two to avoid death, I feared they would be too shy about using them for anything else, so I decided to give them the Harrow points as an extra pool. This way they can keep some points in reserve to avoid dying, while they can utilize their hero points for truly heroic feats. Quint's card are also spread in a vague way, with no true or opposite matches at all. Zellara thinks this means that Quint's destiny is still shrouded in mystery and his true path remains to be revealed. The Varisian ghost does interpret some cards, though. The dance in the bottom row of his past seems to indicate that Quint has always struggled to fall in line and follow the pace that was imposed on him. The tyrant in his present is a ruling force that could be harmful to all, but the fact that it is in the upper row suggests that Quint is capable of detaching himself from that force. The big sky in the bottom row warns that casting off the shackles of one master might quickly see new manacles from another lord. The crows in the future are a dangerous bunch of enemies who violently take what they want and destroy that which is loved. The companions might be the only ones who can avert the threat of these long-beaked villains.

Sjo has the misaligned demon's lantern in his past, as a sign that he had a hard time finding his true path, but the card's position suggests that he finally saw the light and he is on the right track now. The theater in his present is misaligned as well. Sjo continues to play his part in the playhouse which is life, but he has to be careful to remain true to himself, so he doesn't play the wrong part. The future cards have a true match: the uprising. A force stronger than the companions threatens to grab the city in its clutches. The crown on the pitchfork of the rebel in the drawing signifies an overthrowing of that force, whatever it may be ...

James Jacobs wrote:
In fact, I often allow the hold person save each round to end the effect early for ALL immobilizing effects in the game, because it keeps the players involved. In the end, even if they make their first save to escape, they're still out of combat for 2 rounds, and that's still significant... especially when you consider that the player may have had to endure no actions for dozens of real-world minutes depending on the complexity of the fight.

I hear you, James. Now, if only you knew someone of importance at Paizo's, you could get this houserule taken up into the official rules.


No update to your journal since August 5. Did you play more sessions since then? And if you did, how did they go?

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