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Human on Flying Carpet

MrVergee's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 996 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Our heroes spend the next couple of days in the great city of Janderhoff, sniffing up dwarven culture. Quint gets the opportunity to practice his mastery of the Dwarven language, while Balian refines his fighting technique, facing axe-wielding dwarves in mock combat. Sjo spends some time in the temple of Torag, admiring the art of enchanting armor. He also starts reading lessons, since he does not want to be an illiterate’barbarian’ when he’s going to marry a sophisticated priestess.

30 Erastus 4708

When their armor is ready, the companions prepare to leave. Puk also picks up a small range of special metal weapons and Balian buys a silver heavy mace. It might come in handy when fighting devils. Borrowing Kalepopolis’ hippogriffs once more to return to the Blackbird Ranch, the party makes it there by the end of the day. The seneschal himself stays in Janderhoff.

Trinia is happy to see her friends again. She started painting a group portrait of them and she’d like them to pose for her so she can get their faces right. Balian tries to impress her by taking his shirt off and flexing his muscles, but the young girl smilingly tells him he’ll be depicted in armor, so there is no need for this machoism.

1 Arodus 4708

That evening Zellara appears again, ready to perform another Harrow reading. Taking only the ‘hammer’ cards, she invites the heroes to draw one. Sjo picks the the uprising, a card that has shown up before in the readings. It is becoming abundantly clear that the path of rebellion that the companions have chosen offers no way back. Quint’s hand falls on the beating. Threats are arising from all sides and there are people out there who are specifically after the heroes. They will need to be prepared to face those challenges. Balian goes for the bear, a card that depicts a ‘docile’ circus bear, but these wild animals are not so easily tamed. Danger can indeed hide in the guise of innocence. Puk ends up with the big sky, in which slaves throw off their shackles under a bright sun. The companions will be instrumental in throwing off the yoke on the necks of those who are suppressed.

In their full spread reading, Balian’s past ‘backfires’ when the idiot now shows up in his draw. The ranger had so much fun last time, when Sjo drew this card, but now the joke is on him as his previous loss of dignity is laid bare. The liar in his present clearly stands for fraud and deceit, which need to be exposed. His future is determined by the marriage, which is Sjo’s token card. But here it indicates that different people will have to be united.

Quint is next. As always, his reading is much more unclear. Zellara suspects that Quint might have more freedom in writing his own destiny that people normally do, which is quite remarkable. The midwife in his past tells us that his arrival in this world was not a welcome one. The rakshasa lies on top of his present. Normally this creature is treacherous and deceitful, but the card’s position in the positive top row suggests that Quint’s mastery over influencing other people might actually be a force of good. The crows are part of his future: they are dangerous, even deadly opponents who can attack at any moment, but there is hope, because justice can prevail.

The theatre in Sjo’s past reveals he played a lot of roles before he finally came into his own. The present has the mute hag: dark pacts are being forged and are working against the party. The trumpet is normally a good card, as it depicts the most loyal of angels, but its opposite position in the spread, in the negative bottom row, reveals that Sjo might be forced to take steps that conflict with his character, to get the job done.

Puk’s reading is the clearest one again. The tanlged briar stands for hard times in the past, but its positive position in the spread indicates that the Halfling overcame his demons. The owl in the present has a needle and thread in its beak. The Halfling will play an important part in sewing together parts that will be hard to unite. The lost stand for a future in which the ‘insane’ will try to take over. The companions will have quite a struggle on their hands if they want to stop these forces of insanity.

Sjo also asks Zellara’s ghost how she felt in Korvosa of late. She confirms his suspicion that it’s getting increasingly harder for her to manifest in the city, as if otherworldly forces are preventing her from revealing herself. She does not feel this resistance here in Harse, though.

3 Arodus 4708

By three in the afternoon Jasan’s sister-in-law arrives at his ranch. Derdra is a seasoned ranger, not the ‘urban Balian’ type, but an outdoor one. She is well into her thirties and makes a solid first impression. She seems to have a close bond with her horse, a brown mare who goes by the name of Sasha and whose manes match Derdra’s hair. The woman picked up the latest copy of the Korvosa Herald from a merchant in Harse. The companions read up on recent events in Korvosa; they are happy to learn that the cure is finished and that it is working miracles. Even the quarantine of Old Korvosa has been lifted. Derdra agrees to act as a guide to the party.

4 Arodus 4708

The companions return to Janderhoff on the hippogriffs and return the flying mounts to seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis. Derdra takes a number of horses from Jasan’s ranch and meets up with the party in the Dwarven citadel.

5-6 Arodus 4708

The companions leave Janderhoff on horseback and make their way across the Korvosan hinterlands. While the lands are still suited for farming, the fertile stretches of farmland seem to creep ever closer to the river, the more the companions travel north.

At the end of the second day, they arrive in Sirathu, the poorest and farthest removed of Korvosa’s holdings. It is a simple town indeed, with simple and dusty houses, although the center square is quite refreshing. The air smells sweet here and colorful flowers surround a white marble fountain which supplies a steady stream of the clearest water. The heroes find a place to sleep in The Royal Hare, a stable turned inn. Balian sarcastically remarks that Sjo will feel right at home here. Derdra draws the party’s attention to a straight line that marks the horizon to the north. She explains that it is the Storval Rise, an enormous cliff that separates Korvosa from the barren Cinderlands. “Kaer Maga is right about there”, she points.

Quint remembers the stories of the local young girl who revealed herself to be some sort of prophet of Pharasma, a new Saint Alika, so to speak She was also the one who issued the warning that the opera in which the companions participated - The Passion of Saint Alika - faced a great danger in the last act, readying the heroes to interfere when former thug Erik Brolan tried to assassinate lead singer Aïsha Leroung. Quint seeks the girl out to thank her. She has unsettling blue eyes that constantly seem to stare in the distance. She reacts rather coldly to any interaction, as if she is in higher spheres, but she does tell the companions that the Lady of Bones has a soft spot for them.

7 Arodus 4708

As the companions travel further up the road, the cliffs on the horizon become ever clearer and more impressive, finally rising to a gigantic stone wall of a 1,000 feet high. Even more daunting is the massive waterfall that crashes down, where the Yondabakari River breaks through the stark line of the cliff’s top. A couple of miles down the road another monumental feature stands atop the Storval Rise: the cliff-top city of Kaer Maga. It is supposedly built inside the ruins of an ancient fortress: a six-sided ring of 80-foot-high seamless stone, stretching for more than half a mile in diameter. The city has been a refuge for exiles, misfits and ne’er-do-wells for many centuries and houses a wide variety of races. It is a place where anyone can fit in.

It feels as if Kaer Maga actually stares down at travelers at the foot of the Rise, for the rocks supporting the fabled city have been hewn into the massive likeliness of long-forgotten kings. These colossal heads spew forth the city’s sewage from their open mouth; the foul-smelling water cascades down a thousand feet of vertical cliff, but as much as they offend the nostrils, they are a delight to behold.

A small tent camp surrounds a couple of stone buildings and a set of huge bronze double-doors at the foot of the cliff: the Twisted Doors to the Halflight Path, the only way into the city above. The way up winds through endless ancient tunnels in the rocks and treacherous goat paths along the exposed cliff face. Derdra explains that they will have to enlist the services of the Duskwarden, the guardians of the Halflight Path.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Things mght be getting weird, but also very intriguing. Keep it coming.

I like your foreshadowing of Scarwall, but I do wonder, do your PCs even need the Shoanti to point them to this place now?

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Soaring through the air on the back of a hippogriff is an exhilarating experience. The companions make a quick stop at the Endrin Academy on Old Korvosa to pick up the kids and then make an easy escape from the city.

24 Erastus 4708

The heroes have never seen the sun rise quite as spectacular as from their seats in the sky. They continue for several hours until Neolandus Kalepopolis orders them to land. The flying mounts are tired and he can tell that they have not been properly fed during the last few days. The company buys some sheep and goats from a local farmer to feed its mounts and spends the rest of the day and the following night resting up.

25 Erastus 4708

It takes a few more hours to get to Blackbird Ranch, the home of Vencarlo’s former adventuring companion, Jasan Adriel. The party makes sure to avoid the village of Harse itself, deeming it wise not to be seen in the neighborhood. Jasan is over the moon to see his old friend Vencarlo again. He welcomes his guests with open arms and his booming voice and ready grin bear witness to his warm-hearted intentions. Trinia Sabor is still at the farm as well. The young painter is eager to reunite with her former rescuers and after having exchanged big hugs and honest laughs, the ranchers are curious to learn all about recent events in Korvosa.

Fortunately the countryside has been mostly spared from the plague that hit the capital so hard. There have been a few isolated cases, but farmers usually stick to themselves, keeping the chance of getting infected to a minimum. Moreover, few merchants are coming to and from the city lately and patrols by the Korvosan Guard have all but ceased, so the disease has been mostly contained to the capital.

The heroes spend the rest of the day skinny dipping in the brook and relaxing under the sun. Neolandus Kalepopolis notices Quint’s scorpion-shaped mark on his shoulder, and wonders whether it is a tattoo, but the bard tells him it is a birthmark.

That evening Jasan treats his guests to a pleasant and filling dinner. Mouse, Korwick and Heldrin settle in well and quickly make friends with Jasan’s children. Sjo is pleased to see them recount the heroic acts of their masters, demonstrating that the boys have not been traumatized by what happened recently. Jasan says he will be happy to provide the three kids with a home, but he fears that he cannot take care of the hippogriffs, since they require too much meat to be fed. He suggests that Kalepopolis look for sanctuary in a safer haven, and feels that Janderhoff, the dwarven sky citadel on the edge of the Willspin Mountains, might serve such a purpose. When he learns that the companions are planning to travel to the Cinderlands to look for the Shoanti, he recommends finding a guide, since both the city of Kaer Maga, the entry point into the Cinderlands, and the desolate scrublands themselves are fraught with peril. Jasan’s sister-in-law, Derdra, is an excellent and trustworthy guide. The retired ranger expects her on his ranch in about a week. He suggests the companions enlist her help. In the meantime they can take some time to catch their breath and visit Janderhoff to aid seneschal Kalepopolis in procuring the dwarves’ support for their cause.

At the end of the evening Jasan digs up an oak chest from a cupboard. He takes out a scroll and hands it to Quint. It contains a teleport spell. It is one of the treasures that remains from his adventuring days with the Blackbirds, but since neither he nor Vencarlo can use the scroll, he hopes it might serve the companions on their quest. He advises them to use it for long-distance travel, possibly when they want to return home from the Cinderlands. It will certainly save on traveling time.

26 Erastus 4708

Janderhoff, the monumental dwarven Sky Citadel, is a firm trading partner of Korvosa. Its miners and smiths are well-known throughout the region. Using Neolandus’s hippogriff mounts, it takes the companions the better part of the day to travel there. The first thing visitors to Janderhoff see are the massive iron curtain walls of the city, proud reminders of the glories of dwarven architecture and engineering at their peak.

Captain Durrag of the city guard takes the party through a long series of tunnels to see clan lord Ragnar Ironfist. Seated on a stone throne at the far end of a great mountain hall is a pensive dwarf. Although he does not bear the title of King, the sober crown on his brow suggests his station is similar. An older dwarf stands next to him and introduces himself as the lord’s advisor, Bronn Silverheart.

Neolandus Kalepopolis has met these dwarves before and enjoys enough respect to be heard. He informs the dwarven rulers of the hard times that have befallen Korvosa, making sure to point out the queen’s foul role in this crisis. Although the seneschal spins a good tale, the companions pick up a lot of hesitation on the dwarves’ part. Quint, Sjo and Puk chime in, trying to convince the mountain folk of their plight. Quint refers to the treaty of Crystalrock, in which both nations pledged to protect each other. With a murderous usurper on the crimson throne, the people of Korvosa appeal to the dwarves to honor their agreement. Sjo also points out that Torag, the dwarves’ patron deity, is the father of honor and protection, so he would certainly approve. Ironfist admits that honor is a value that greatly exceeds other, worldly matters. Trade with Korvosa is booming at the moment, since the queen has been making huge orders of female suits of armor lately. But if she is really as evil as the seneschal claims, it might be unwise to support her in building up an army. Quint agrees, the queen won’t stop with Korvosa. Once she solidifies her grip on the city and its hinterlands, she will look for ways to expand her power. Janderhoff will be one of her first targets. In over nine millennia, Janderhoff is the only dwarven Sky Citadel that has never fallen to an enemy, a fact that the dwarves are justly proud of. Surely Ragnar Ironfist does not want to be remembered as the clan lord who lost the citadel. No, he has to defend his home as his predecessor have done since the time of Boldrak Rockcourage, the dwarven explorer who discovered these caves and carved the gladdringgar in the wall, Quint pleads, pointing to the rune behind Ironfist’s stone throne.

The companions’ fiery speech succeeds where the seneschal’s words fell short. The clan lord nods: this Ileosa character cannot be trusted. He will cease all trade with her. He will also open his halls to those who seek sanctuary, beginning with the seneschal. The dwarves are also prepared to sell weapons and armor to the ‘rebels’ and if necessary, they will even provide a number of soldiers to help battle the queen, if it should come to that.

The companions can immediately make good use of the dwarves’ offer. They leave some of their armors and bucklers in the hands of Father Bardin Bronzebeard in the temple of Torag. The highpriest and his staff will strengthen the magical enhancement on these over the next few days.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Feros wrote:

Akoria was impressed with William, especially as he presented his family’s ancestry and how he was descended from Aroden. While Akoria may have been impressed, the rest of the crew were dead bored by this. It was even more ridiculous as all prominent Taldor families seemed to find a way to trace their lineage back to the last Azlanti.

Akoria asked if Will was captain and he pointed out Isobel to the gillman. She eyed Isobel and noted that she was both very young and very short to be in command.

Great little sidetrek here, Scourge of the Steaming Isle. I love the little details you add, like Will's ancestory (or his attempts to construct one). And captain Isobel, aren't you a little short to be a stormtroo... oww, captain?

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

SHAOBAN (SJO), LN Male Human oracle 8
Init +0; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Perception +2, Clouded Vision
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 24
hp 58 (8 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +10
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee cold iron mace +2 (heavy) +12/+7 (1d8+5)
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +9/+4 CMD 20
Known Oracle Spells (CL 8th):
4th (4/day) (DC 17) - blessing of fervor, cure critical wounds, wall of fire
3rd (7/day) (DC 17) - cure serious wounds, dispel magic, fireball, invisibility purge, prayer
2nd (8/day) (DC 16) - bear's endurance, cure moderate wounds, hold person, remove paralysis, resist energy, restoration (lesser)
1st (8/day) (DC 15) - burning hands, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, hide from undead, magic weapon, protection from chaos, remove fear, shield of faith
0th (at will) (DC 14) - create water, detect magic, purify food and drink, read magic, spark, stabilize
Abilities Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 24
Feats Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Combat Casting, Dazzling Display; Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace)
Skills Acrobatics -5, Bluff +13, Climb -2, Diplomacy +19, Heal +9, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (Local) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +10, Linguistics +0, Perception +2, Perform (Act) +11, Perform (sing) +13, Ride -5, Sense Motive +11, Sleight of Hand +0, Swim -2
Possessions headband of alluring charisma +4; cold iron mace +2 (heavy); ring of protection +1; full plate +1; amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +2, buckler +1; belt of giant strength +2, wand of cure light wounds, wand of remove disease;

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+4). 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 (10).
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 10.
Wings of Fire (Su) As a swift action, you can manifest a pair of fiery wings that grant you a fly speed of 60 feet with average maneuverability. You can use these wings for 1 minute per day per oracle level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1 minute increments.

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.


BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 8 (urban ranger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +12
AC 24, touch 16, flat-footed 21
hp 87 (8 HD)
Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +4
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee greatsword +1 (two handed) +15/+10 ((two handed) 2d6+10/19-20)
Melee masterwork dagger +15/+10 (1d4+6/19-20)
Ranged masterwork longbow (composite/strength rating+4) +12/+7 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +8/+3; CMB +14; CMD 29
Ranger Spells (CL 5th):
1st (2/day) (DC 12) - lead blades, longstrider
2nd (1/day) (DC 13) - barkskin
Abilities Str 22, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 7
Special Qualities Favored Community Korvosa +4, Track +4, Trapfinding +4
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, Favored Defense (human +2 AC and CMD), Following Step, Power Attack (-2 atk, +4 dmg / +6 dmg on 2-handed), Step Up, Step Up and Strike
Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +9, Diplomacy +0, Disable Device +15, Heal +5, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (Geography) +2, Knowledge (Local) +9, Perception +12, Perform (Act) +3, Ride +6, Sense Motive +1, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +13, Survival +5, Survival (Follow or identify tracks) +9, Swim +9
Possessions greatsword +1; ring of protection +2; mithral breastplate +1; amulet of natural armor +1; belt of physical might (+2 str/con); cloak of resistance +1; wand of cure light wounds; dusty rose prism ioun stone masterwork dagger; masterwork longbow (Composite/Strength Rating+4)
Favored Community Korvosa (Ex) You gain a +4 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.
Push Through (Ex) At 7th level, an urban Ranger is never slowed by difficult terrain in his favored communities. In addition, he can move through the space occupied by local citizens as if they were allies. This does not apply to creatures intent on harming the Ranger. Areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion, however, still affect him.

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.


QUINTILIAN (QUINT), CG Male Human bard 8 (court bard)
Init +2; Senses Perception +10
AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 20, Combat Expertise
hp 74 (8 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +6, +4 vs. Bardic Performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee short sword +1 of frost +10/+5 (1d6+4+1d6/19-20)
Melee longsword +9/+4 (1d8+3/19-20)
Melee masterwork whip +10/+5 (1d3+3)
Melee sap +9/+4 (1d6+3)
Ranged shortbow +9/+4 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +8; CMD 21
Known Bard Spells (CL 8th):
3rd (3/day) (DC 18) - glibness, haste, invisibility sphere
2nd (5/day) (DC 17) - cacophonous call, gallant inspiration, heroism, mirror image, pyrotechnics
1st (6/day) (DC 16) - cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, innocence, memory lapse, silent image, timely inspiration, touch of gracelessness, ventriloquism
0th (at will) (DC 13) - detect magic, ghost sound, light , mage hand, message, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic, spark
Abilities Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 20
Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Lingering Performance, Skill Focus (Perform Comedy and Perform Oratory)
Skills Acrobatics +11, Appraise +6, Bluff +20, Climb +7, Diplomacy +23, Disguise +9, Escape Artist +13, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Knowledge (Geography) +6, Knowledge (History) +10, Knowledge (Local) +17, Knowledge (Local/Art & music) +18, Knowledge (Nature) +6, Knowledge (Nobility) +10, Linguistics +13, Perception +10, Perform (Act) +10, Perform (Comedy) +19, Perform (Dance) +9, Perform (Oratory) +19, Perform (Sing) +10, Perform (String Instruments) +9, Sense Motive +18, Sleight of Hand +8, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +13, Use Magic Device +16
Possessions short sword +1 of frost; studded leather +2 of shadow; buckler +1; longsword; masterwork whip; sap; wand of feather step; wand of cure light wounds; wand of cure serious wounds; wand of mage armor; Shortbow; amulet of natural armor +1; Wand of magic missile (CL 3rd); Scrolls of levitate, gentle repose, false life, knock; Dust of appearance; ring of fire resistance (10); ring of protection +2; cloak of resistance +1; Belt of Physical Might (+2 Str/Con); [i]Key-Lock Killer's bell Bardic Performance You can use this ability for 23 rounds per day.
Versatile Performance (Comedy / Oratory) (Ex) You can use your bonus in the Perform (Comedy / Oratory) skill in place of your bonus in the Bluff or Intimidate / Diplomacy or Sense Motive skills.
Countersong (Su) You can counter magic effects that depend on sound.
Distraction (Su) You can use your performance to counter magic effects that depend on sight.
Fascinate (Su) You can use your performance to cause up to 3 creatures to become fascinated with you (Will save DC 19).
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 -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls (minimum 1) and a -2 penalty on saves against fear and charm effects as long as the bard continues performing. 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 -3 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.


PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 8 (swashbuckler)
Init +7; Senses Perception +10
AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 24, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge
hp 66 (8 HD)
Fort +8, Ref +16 (evasion), Will +5, +2 morale bonus vs. fear, +2 racial bonus vs. fear
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee main hand silver short sword +2 (small) +15/+10 (1d4+2/19-20) and off-hand short sword +1 of shock (small) +14 (1d4+1+1d6/19-20)
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +5; CMD 22
Atk Options Sneak Attack +4d6
Abilities Str 10, Dex 24, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
Feats Acrobatic Steps, Dodge, Martial Weapon Proficiency (Halfling Sling Staff), Nimble Moves, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (short sword)
Skills Acrobatics +20, Acrobatics (Jump) +16, Appraise +6, Bluff +7, Climb +9, Diplomacy +7, Disable Device +15, Disguise +8, Escape Artist +14, Intimidate +4 (+0 vs. medium-sized), Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +4, Knowledge (Local) +6, Linguistics +4, Perception +10, Perform (Percussion Instruments) +7, Ride +7, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +14, Stealth +19, Use Magic Device +4
Possessions small short sword +1 of shock; small silver short sword +2; studded leather +2 (small); shortbow (Small); halfling sling staff (halfling); small masterwork sap, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1; cloak of the Pixie King (+2 on saves, Dimension Door 1/day), belt of incredible dexterity +2

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 4d6 points of extra damage.
Bleeding Attack (Ex) A rogue with this ability can cause living opponents to bleed by hitting them with a sneak attack. This attack causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for each die of the rogue's sneak attack. Bleeding creatures take that amount of damage every round at the start of each of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application of any effect that heals hit point damage. Bleeding damage bypasses any damage reduction the creature might possess.
Resiliency (Ex) Once per day, a rogue with this ability can gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the rogue's level. Activating this ability is an immediate action that can only be performed when she is brought to below 0 hit points. This ability can be used to prevent her from dying. These temporary hit points last for 1 minute. If the rogue's hit points drop below 0 due to the loss of these temporary hit points, she falls unconscious and is dying as normal.

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Incredible how such a huge castle can look so claustrofobic from the inside.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When darkness has fallen over the city, Neolandus Kalepopolis leads the party to the Great Tower, the headquarters of his order, the Sable Company, and home of their magnificent flying mounts, the hippogriffs. Officially there are only two ways into this massive tower, the front gate on the third floor and the flying platform in the aerie, 250 feet off the ground. Fortunately, the seneschal knows a third way in: a secret door in the back. Upon whispering the words "For safety in the air and on the water" the outline of a hippogriff head lights up in the palm of his hand. When he touches it to the cool stone, a secret door slides open. A small set of stairs takes the heroes to the second floor of the Tower, where a gruesome scene awaits them: the bodies of three dead Sable Marines. Neolandus swallows down his disgust and shows the others to the central staircase, which takes them directly to the entry hall on the third floor. Eleven Gray Maidens are guarding the front doors here and they are quite surprised to see people emerging from within the building. Quint casts haste on his companions and starts satire, warning the warrior women to stand down or perish. Up to this point, none of the heroes has ever crossed swords with the queen's elite soldiers, and the bard would prefer to avoid a bloody confrontation. His words do not impress the armor-clad maidens, though, and their commander orders her troops to attack. The Gray Maidens seem to work well together, strengthening each other's attacks and defenses. Balian is surrounded and takes several hits. Puk, Vencarlo and Spyder try to hold the line, giving Quint the opportunity to use pyrotechnics on the fire in the hearth. The fireplace blazes up in a flash of light, blinding over half of the opponents. Sjo follows up with a mighty fireball, which burns badly through the female knights. Blinded and scorched, the Gray Maidens fall quickly to the companions' blades. When Sjo summons a second fiery explosion, the fight is as good as over. The remaining warrior women die in the last seconds of hand-to hand combat.

The companions continue their way up. On the fourth floor they discover more bodies of slain Sable Marines. While Kalepopolis closes their eyes and wishes them well on their way to whatever paradise they deserve, Quint slips into the chapel of Iomedae, where he prays to the goddess of valor and justice for forgiveness for his aid in ending the lives of the Gray Maidens downstairs. On the next floor Neolandus Kalepopolis still has his personal quarters. He opens a secret cache in the wall, from which he pulls weapons and armor. His new attire is very ostentatious, a vibrantly red silk vest with puffy shoulders and a similar pair of pants. He also dons a red wide-brimmed hat with a flowing peacock feather and a matching cloak. "If we're going to fight the power, we might as well do it in style", he smiles. "Now, let's go up and free the hippogriffs!"

The stables start on the fifteenth floor. Sjo knows this place well, as he used to work here for a time, hoping to become a Sable Marine himself. His impaired vision quickly spoiled these aspirations, though. The stables reek badly, as if they haven't been cleaned properly in a few days. The snorts of unhappy hippogriffs from behind closed doors tell the companions that the animals are still alive, just like they had hoped. Two half-orcs guard this floor, but seeing a group of well-armed and battle-ready heroes burst into the room has them flee up the stairs, calling out for someone named 'Grenk'. Quint recalls hearing about a cruel half-orc beast master who went by that name. Our friends find this character on the top floor, the aerie, where he and some minions are viciously trying to tame a couple of hippogriffs. The brute draws his axe, bellows out a terrifying howl which sends Puk and Spyder running in fear. This is the only success he manages in the fight, though, for the beast master and his goons are quickly overrun. Vencarlo shows his skill with the rapier and stabs down two of Grenk's helps, while Quint's cacophonous call takes away the half-orc leader's ability to fight. The raging brute makes for the platform, hoping to crawl away over the walls with his slippers of spider climbing, but he never makes it. Quint trips him as Balian unleashes greatsword hell on his @§§. Before Grenk can get up again, Sjo freezes him in place with a hold person. The party shows the cruel animal trainer no mercy.

Neolandus Kalepopolis and Sjo show the others how to saddle the hippogriffs and lead all the animals upstairs. The seneschal designates each companions a mount, before sending the remaining hippogriffs into the air. "Fly, my pretties, fly!" he proudly shouts. "Don't worry about them, or your own mount, either," Kalepopolis tells the party. "All of them will follow my steed, Silverback. Just hang on tight and make sure you don't fall. Tie yourselves down if you have to. And most of all: ENJOY!" At that he orders his gray-backed winged stallion off the platform and into the air.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The first order of business is getting Vencarlo out of his state of unconsciousness. He is lying on the bed, apparently unhurt, but with a lost look on his face. Sjo examines him and determines that his mind is fractured. Using two spells of lesser (or rather minimal) restoration the healer succeeds at having Vencarlo open his eyes, but the man still does not recognize the companions. Quint digs up the documents he retrieved from the scrivenite that contain the fencing master's lost memories and hands them to him. Orisini starts reading them.

Meanwhile Puk and Balian examine every corner of the room. The halfling notices that the two braziers next to the throne are magically burning, but they look too heavy to take home. More important, though, is the vague line he discovers in one of the frescoes, framing a secret door in the painting where a crazed Eduardo has killed his father. They study the scene more closely: Eduardo has apparently used some kind of magic bolt to kill his father. The arrow protrudes from the dead man's chest and black lines have spread across his flesh, indicating that the father was possibly killed by an arrow of human slaying. Nerio's sword still lies in his open hand, while Eduardo's six-armed and three-faced mother is watching the scene from behind a pillar. She is wearing a heart-shaped necklace. Nerio himself looks like a madman: he towers over his father's body with his head clutched in his hands; both of his faces are screaming madly.

Upon further inspection of the mural Puk and Balian first find a secret button in the eye of Eduardo's second head and then they locate three more buttons: one in the pommel of Nerio's sword, one in the feather at the end of the bolt and the last one in the upasunda's heart medallion. The explorers find no traps in this configuration and assume that the buttons are meant to open the secret door, but do not push anything yet until the party is ready to leave.

It takes Vencarlo about three hours to catch up with his own memories and thus restore his mind. Now he does remember the heroes and thanks them for saving him. When Quint informs him that they discovered Blackjack's gear in his house, Vencarlo admits that he is the caped crusader. Quint thanks him for saving their lives five years ago, when he and Sjo were still kids and Gaedran Lamm was taking out his anger on them because he had lost heavily in a game of chance - the same game that put Balian in the shackles of an oarsman. Vencarlo smiles: "I guess we're even, then."

Vencarlo wonders if the companions also snuck in here, but when he learns that they have been talking to Glorio Arkona and that it was the nobleman who showed them in, he is amazed. It is clear that master Orisini harbors no love for the lord of House Arkona, and he remains suspicious, even after learning that it was Glorio himself who suggested that Vencarlo be saved from the labyrinth because he might make a valuable ally. He is even more surprised when he hears that Glorio Arkona has agreed to tell the companions where seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis is.

When the companions are ready to leave, they try pushing all four buttons at the same time, but the secret door does not open. After experimenting a bit, Puk figures out that the order in which the buttons have to be pushed reflect the challenges of the labyrinth. The first test of balance and the air elemental stood for agility, which is reflected in the arrow. Then there was the test of smarts leading up to the book creature. Intelligence is in the head, so the eye should be second. The puzzle with the chessboards and the six-armed fighting machine are represented by the sword; while the final challenge with the fire and water elemental took place in a vaguely heart-shaped room, protecting the true heart of this maze. So the order is : arrow, eye, sword and heart amulet. When our friends push these buttons, they hear the grinding of wheels for about a minute, before the secret door sinks back in the wall and slides open. The turning entrance chamber has grinded into position behind the door, allowing the companions to exit the labyrinth.

Outside one of Glorio's bodyguards is waiting in contemplation. He leads his master's guests up again and takes them to see his lord. Glorio Arkona is very interested in learning what the heroes discovered in the Vivified Labyrinth, and he looks truly shocked when he finds out that one of his forefathers was the son of an upasunda. Quint even summons a projection of her, using silent image. Sjo concludes that lord Arkona still must have a hint of upasunda blood running through his veins.

Glorio makes good on his promise and orders Selena to fetch Neolandus Kalepopolis. The seneschal is dressed in common clothes and looks worried, but healthy. He claims that Lord Arkona was a generous host, thus silencing suspicions that he was a prisoner here. He has some rather interesting information about queen Ileosa, but has to start his story much earlier:

"When the Chelish settlers came here 300 years ago, they found the Shoanti who had been living here for over two millennia. The tribal warriors defended their territories with great tenacity, not only because they it was their homeland, but also because it was their sacred duty. The mighty mastaba, a relic from Thassillonian times, which now serves as the base for Castle Korvosa, was a holy site of immense importance to them. But the pyramid was more than holy, it harbored an unspoken evil that the Shoanti shamans were sworn to protect. I don't know the nature of this evil, but I fear that Ileosa has uncovered it. That explains her sudden change in character leading up to Eodred's death.

I truly realized that things had got out of hand when Eodred's half brother disappeared. You see, the Arabasti family had a secret of its own: when queen Domina came over from Cheliax, she did not only bring her son Eodred, she had a second child whom she never revealed to the outside world. Domina was known for her close relations with the devil-worshipping church of Asmodeus and had, at one time, conceived a baby with a devil. The offspring, a child named Venster, was a blemish on her crown, for Chelish society hated tieflings as badly as it loved devils. Venster had his own quarters in the attic of Castle Korvosa and very few people knew of his existence. Only Eodred and I visited the lonely soul from time to time. Ileosa knew about him too, but like all true Chelaxians she loathed him for even being alive and refused to set foot in his quarters. That is, until the final days of the king's life, when she suddenly started going up to see her brother-in-law for long stretches of time.

Around that time I also found out that Ileosa had stolen the key to the vaults a few weeks before. It might just have been because she was bored and curious about the riches in Korvosa's treasury, but the gods only know what she found underneath the castle. From my meetings with the Shoanti ambassador Thousand Bones, I had learned about an unspoken evil lying in the vaults and I started to worry. Not only had Ileosa changed how she felt about Venster, she had also become very cranky, she got almost hostile towards Trinia Sabor, the young girl who was painting Eodred's portrait and she locked her husband away in a dark room, keeping all but a select few from seeing him. The king's improving health took a deep plunge and before long he was on his deathbed. And then I found out that Venster had disappeared.

That is when I decided to confront the queen. She was not the docile, albeit somewhat annoying woman that I had always known. No, she scoffed at my concerns and laughed in my face when I told her about what troubled me. I implored her to change her treatment of the king's illness, but she cried out that he would not live to see another day and, with a malicious glare in her eyes, informed me that I wouldn't either. At that point three red mantis assassins broke from the shadows and attacked me. I can only thank my years of training at the Sable Company for making it out alive, but I was badly wounded and grievously poisoned. I fled to a last place where people would come looking for me, my dear, but very weird friend, Salvator Scream. He took me in, but was of little use in my recovery, so it took many weeks for the poison to get out of my system.

In the meantime I heard rumors about the chaos that swarmed the city: the king dying on the same day that I was attacked, the people rebelling and being slain by guards or Hell Knights, and finally a terrible plague consuming our dear citizens. When Old Korvosa got quarantined, Scream became truly paranoid, claiming that he was being watched, so I decided to look for a new place to hide and Salvator suggested this place. I've been here for two weeks now, and my host, lord Arkona, is most kind, but has not kept me up to date on what's going on in the city. So, you came to me looking for stories, but now I aks you to tell me some yourselves."

The party informs the seneschal on the goings-on of the last two weeks. He is happy to hear that a cure for the plague is on its way, but is horrified when he learns about Marcus Endrin's fate and the queen's decimation of the Sable Company. The fact that Ileosa survived a bolt to the head tells him that she has become more than human and Kalepopolis fears that her new crown of fangs might actually be the evil that she has dug up. If Ileosa has become so powerful that she can simply shrug off an arrow to the temple like a mosquito bite, it will be nearly impossible to stop her. Maybe the Shoanti shamans know of a way to fight the evil that has taken hold of the queen, so Sjo and Quint see no other option than to go to the Cinderlands and find out. Still, Sjo is reluctant. The Shoanti who used to live here, were members of the Sklar-Quah or Sun clan, the same clan his mother came from. The fact that his mother would rather throw him in the river than take him to her people, is proof enough that the Shoanti do not like bastards. Maybe they should try and find Thousand Bones, the shaman of the Skull clan first. At least he's a friend.

The seneschal and Vencarlo Orisini also want to abandon Korvosa. Vencarlo suggests going to his friend Jasan Adriel in Harse, the man who already took in Trinia Sabor. Neolandus Kalepopolis agrees, but has a request of his own. He suspects that the Sable Company's hippogriffs are still alive in their stables in the Great Tower. He does not want to leave the animals in the hands of Ileosa's troops and feels that there is no better way to get out of the city than atop his company's majestic mounts. He asks the heroes to aid him in this endeavor and they are happy to oblige ... at least, they will be tomorrow, after having rested.

Sjo also considers the children's fate: Mouse, Heldrin and Korwick might not be safe in the city any longer, so it is finally decided that the children will accompany their saviors to Harse. Tonight they want to return to the villa to rest up, so they will be ready to attack the Great Tower tomorrow night. Glorio Arkona allows them the use of the barge in his hidden sea cave. Arkona's men are skilled at avoiding detection and easily transport the party, Vencarlo and the seneschal to South Shore. But first the sword master picks up his Blackjack gear, inquiring whether Quint would be interested in taking up the rapier in his place and protect the people of Korvosa. Quint is honored to accept.

23 Erastus 4708

Level up: level 8.

The party spends the next day selling their loot and getting some new wands of cure light wounds. Balian also acquires a dusty rose ioun stone which enhances his defenses.

Sjo takes some time to visit Larella. The priestess of Shelyn is still working with the sick in the city's hospital. When Sjo asks her to flee to the country, she refuses, as she has work in the city, helping the people. She does accepts another offer he makes, though. Taking the best looking ring of protection he and his friends found yesterday, Sjo gets on one knee and asks her to marry him, once this trouble is over. The beautiful priestess beams as she says yes.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

I suspect I'm in the minority, but almost every adventure I buy is for reading/inspiration purposes. I would guesstimate that I run 10% of the adventures I buy (maybe it will eventually reach 20%, but I doubt it's higher than that).

As such, readability rates more highly in my list of priorities than playability. Lots of tables or bullet point lists don't really have much value to me.

Not sure if it is a minority, I'm in that same group and I like reading adventures as well.

I'm not a big fan of extensive room description, certainly not when they add no real information to the room or map (e.g. I don't need to read that the room three doors, one in the west wall, one in the east and one leading north - I can see that on the map; I don't need to know how many sacks of grain and barrels of beer there are in a food pantry, unless it matters).

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Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
I know James Jacobs was saying in a thread a couple weeks back that they tend to hear more of the negative reactions than the positive, so I definitely wanted to say that I am LOVING Hell's Rebels so far.

Same here, very positive!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The floor of the next room is paved with brown and white marble tiles, forming a big chessboard. Four queens line each side of the chamber. A voice rings out as the heroes enter the room: "Eight queens are about to tear the realm apart. Only when they don't threaten each other there will be peace." At the same time a ticking starts, counting down the time the companions have to rearrange the pieces on the board. Pulling and pushing the heavy statues around, the young men succeed in getting six queens to a safe position, but when the timer stops after eight minutes, the two chess pieces that still threaten each other, animate and attack. It takes a lot of hits and healing before both marble figures are reduced to rubble on the floor. Combat continues in the room that follows. A calikang, a large blue-skinned, six-armed giant awakes from suspended animation and lurches to life, whirling around two sharp longswords and four clenched fists. Puk gets the worst of it and needs to fall back on his halfling's luck (he uses a hero point) to avoid being killed by the creature's acid breath. Quint and Sjo have to support their fellow combatants with lots of healing, while Balian's heavy hits gradually wear down the blue giant, whose wounds keep closing. To make sure the creature does not come back to attack them in the back, Balian basically reduces it to mash. More healing follows to nurse everyone back to full health.

The next puzzle takes place in a vaguely-heart-shaped room with two magic circles on the floor: one glowing in red and the other radiating blue light. The companions are teleported to a square in the middle, as two elemental appear in front of the way in and the way out. Behind them the heroes see a large water elemental, who speaks to them in a low voice: "My name is Rivers, I will follow." In front of them is a fire elemental who bellows: "My name is Pyro, I will oppose!" While the water elemental mimics the companions' movements, the fire elemental does the exact opposite. Using the walls and corners to get one or both elementals to stay in place as they move themselves, our friends manage to lure Rivers to the blue circle and Pyro to the red one. The elementals fall into a passive state as the final door clicks open.

The final chamber of the labyrinth is richly decorated with a luxurious bed, an impressive throne and beautiful frescoes covering the walls. There are three vats against the wall across the entrance, providing porridge, water and wine. When the companions enter, a woman, bearing a close resemblance to the divine statue of Chamidu in the Arkona palace, approaches. She carries three exotic weapons in her six hands, a curved longsword, a kukri and a long spear. Her head holds three golden-skinned faces, which are paragons of physical perfection except for the large curved fangs curling out of their mouths. Her ears are pointed like an elf's, and like the slender fair creature, she moves with grace in her flowing azure dress. Still, her intentions do not seem so lovely as she greets her visitors: "So, after all these decades my descendants finally send in their minions again ... Don't they realize that you are only here to become my playthings? So, little dolls, let's play ..." Next she initiates combat.

Quint starts mocking the creature, reducing her fighting prowess somewhat with his satire. But the many-armed woman has multiple attacks and starts toying with her assailants nonetheless, by lashing out at each of them. Balian, Puk and Spyder try to damage her with their attacks, but find it hard to get through her damage reduction, while Sjo and Quint discover that magic has even less chance of affecting her. The two fall back on their healing, Sjo with his spells and Quint with his wand of cure serious wounds to keep their friends in the fight. They also notice that the 'upasundra' has a innate power that heals her wounds while she fights. After having dealt some damage left and right, the six-armed warrioress suddenly changes tactics and starts focus-firing her enemies. Her many attacks take out Balian first. Sjo reaches for his newly discovered scroll of heal and brings the ranger back to full health as Puk becomes the next victim of the upasundra's focus fire. Quint does his best to keep the halfling on his feet, but cannot keep up with the many wounds he is being dealt. Balian survives another burst of pummels and cuts and hacks mercilessly at the Vudran fighting machine. Quint restores Puk to consciousness, but the halfling is hit down again. After a truly brutal fight the heroes win out and finish the upasundra off.

The chamber holds some extra revelations. The upasundra's crown turns out to be a headband of charisma +4. Vencarlo Orisini is lying on the bed, unconscious. But the biggest surprise comes from the paintings on the walls. They tell the amazing history of the Arkona family. The first frescoes show how an impoverished nobleman sets out on a desperate quest aboard a ship named the Reprieve. After facing storms, monsters, pirates, hunger and illness the survivors set foot on Vudran shore and sell the natives the 'exotic' goods of the northern lands. The nobleman, clearly Glorio's ancestor Nerio, gains great respect and wealth and manages to convince the maharaja to let him face a legendary six-armed and three-faced warrior princess in combat. He defeats and enslaves her, taking her home when he sails for Korvosa again. There he has the Vudran palace constructed and fathers a son with the upasundra. The child inherits more from his mother than her golden skin, though, he has a second face on the back of his head. The pictures of him as a grown man show him with the same (front) face as Nerio's son Eduardo, but here his head is not covered with a shawl as on the painting in Glorio's lounge, revealing the creepy second face on the other side of his head. One particularly remarkable fresco has Eduardo standing over Nerio's dead body. The young nobleman clutches his head between his hands while both faces are screaming madly. From the shadows the upasundra watches. The final works portray the construction of the Vivified Labyrinth, Nerio sending his 'mother' inside and enchanting the entrance to lock her in.

So, Nerio's treasure was a creature that turns out to be Glorio's ancestor. The companions wonder if even the man himself knows ...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The companions have seen some strange creatures before, but never have they set their eyes upon a creature made of books and scrolls. As an avid reader, Quint is amazed and horrified at the same time to face the scrivenite, unsure of whether attacking it can even be justified. Balian feels no such qualms and bears down heavily on the living documents. Puk finds out that his sneak attacks are once again useless against this being, reducing his roll in the combat to assisting the ranger. At least that is what he was hoping to do, because the scrivenite utters magical words that freeze Balian in place. Fortunately Sjo's quick thinking provides a rapid answer as the Shoanti casts a remove paralysis to set his friend free again. In return the creature lashes out with its bookmarks. The ribbons do little damage, but they drain some of Sjo's intelligence. Balian sees that the stolen knowledge immediately manifests itself as a new text among the many scrolls on the scrivenite's frame. After that strange occurrence his greatsword and Sjo's fire magic swiftly reduce the enemy to a pile of volumes and parchments again, ending the fight.

Sjo recovers the text with the memories that were taken from him, but has to hand it to Quint because he does not master the art of reading. As the bard reads the words out loud, Sjo realizes that these recollections must date back to a time that he never consciously remembered. It is the story of his birth, which he can only have learned from the mouth of his mother as a newborn.

Yundur Firestorm was his name and he was truly blessed by the power of the sun. His people were the Sklar-Quah, the Sun Clan, the noblest of all Shoanti. After he had finished training as a sun shaman, he was appointed the southernmost tribe of the Sklar-Quah. Yundur was still young and bursting with admiration for his brethren's lust for battle. As their spiritual leader he fanned this flame and enjoyed their hatred for the tshamek, the strangers.

Yes, Yundur Firestorm was truly blessed in his spiritual doings, but he turned out to be equally cursed in his family life. Five times his wife bore a dead son before finally giving birth to a living child, a girl, Aithne (pronounce EFnee). She became the apple of his eye and was trained from a young age to follow in her father's footsteps.

But Aithne was more interested in joining the ranks of the famed burn riders than in going through life a boring shamaness. The elite mounted cavalry of the Sklar-Quah, who were able to coax their horses to race through the flames, represented the culmination of Shoanti honor. And so it happened that the disobedient teen Aithne secretly followed the burn riders on a raid in the lowlands. She was joined by her faithful companion Shaoban (pronounce SHEEbuhn), the jothka's son, whom his father, the chief, still deemed too young to go to war.

From afar the two youngsters witnessed how the burn riders attacked and burned down some remote farms. When the riders were gone, the curious teens wanted to examine the smoldering field of battle. Shaoban already felt like a warrior and pretended to kill the farmers all over again with his spear. As he proudly jammed his weapon through the skull of a dead farmer's wife, the corpse next to her suddenly arose. His face was red with blood, and even though he was hardly any bigger than Shaoban, he jerked the spear out of the surprised Shoanti's hands and thrust it through his chest. Then he turned on Aithne and knocked her out with the blunt end of the weapon.

When the girl woke up, she was naked and smeared with blood and soot. Shaoban's severed head towered above her on a wooden stake. From his eyes protruded two arrows. Just a few yards away the surviving farmer's son was finishing his family's grave. Aithne crawled to her feet and started to flee in utter fear.

"Run all you can, barbarian spawn!" a rough voice called out. "Flee to your people and tell them that they will all end up like this wretched creature here! And explain how a whore like you wound up with Chelaxian seed in her belly!"

His maddening laughter haunted her across the fields and kept ringing through her head for hours, while she tried to process what had happened. Apart from the blood on her upper body - which clearly came from her attacker - her own blood was dripping between her legs, proving that his vicious words were true. Did she really have a Chelaxian's seed in her body? Then she could not return to her people, not until she was sure that his seed had not taken root.

The next couple of weeks the girl roamed the lowland plains and found out that her worst nightmare had come true: she was pregnant with the vengeful farmer's son's child. Her people had never shown understanding or tolerance for bastards and the shame would kill her and her father, so she decided not to head back home before she had got rid of the halfbreed. Killing her own unborn child was no option, as it was the greatest sacrilege imaginable. Therefore she retreated deeper into the lowlands, fleeing every living soul she encountered, until she came upon an abandoned shepherd's hut. There she stayed until her belly was full and she bore a child during a stormy night.

The baby was a healthy son, whom the heart-broken mother named for her lost friend, Shaoban. She carved his name in a piece of wood and placed it with the newborn in a wicker basket. With tears in her eyes she begged the sun for help and through her hands flowed a shaman's power which put the child to sleep. Next she entrusted the child's floating cradle to the river, before turning around and commencing the long road home to her tribe.

Two days later the basket washed ashore in the city of Korvosa. Shaoban awoke from a long sleep and the starved nursling started crying loud enough to get half the city out of its bed. Some kids who were scavenging the shores of the river's mouth, found the baby and took it home to their cruel master, Gaedran Lamm. And so it was that the young Shaoban wound up with the lambs. Bullheaded Lamm misinterpreted the name on piece of wood and read it as Sjoban, which was later shortened to Sjo.

Sjo is stupefied to learn this part of his history. So now he finally knows where he comes from. He finally knows his mother's name, Aithne. Who knows, maybe he can find her again? The companions also discover a text describing how Vencarlo Orisini took over the mantle of the caped crusader Blackjack from his old master Raneiro. Quint briefly skims through the library books, all of which are in Vudran, and picks up some nice volumes to practice his skill in the language. One book is illustrated with lewd pictures portraying all kinds of daring sexual position, the Kama Sutra, it is called. Quint decides to study it with Yuuna later. Sjo also pulls a powerful scroll of heal from one of the tomes.

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Some great development in the story, I absolutely love it.

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CBDunkerson wrote:

I usually make a copy of the map and as I read through the scenario I write the location name, occupants, and any other important information on each area. For creatures that move around I list them in the margin and use a unique symbol to mark the places they are likely to be encountered.

I can usually run the whole adventure from that map. I almost never read the 'official' location descriptions to the players. Rather, if the map says 'library' I say there are a lot of books on shelves and other details I remember from reading it. If there was anything special about the location which would be missed that way then I'd have a note on the map to remind me or so I can check the actual write-up. I use the map as a bookmark in the adventure writeup itself and switch over to that for monster stats, loot, and any other details... but the whole process of moving around and telling players what they see when they enter the area can just be run straight off the map.

I do this too. I import the colored map in a Word document, put it in Gray and then play around with the brightness and contrast option until the map is more or less black and white. Then I print it out and I add my notes to the map with a simple pen, marking the creatures in green so I can easily recognize them; skill checks, traps or treasure are in red. Descriptive text is in blue. It works really well and I've been doing it for years.

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After a hearty meal Glorio takes his guest into his greenhouse garden, which is filled with jungle plants, tropical birds and a refreshing fountain. The most surprising feature in the chamber is a life-sized statue of an elephant, its tusks and trunk raised high. It takes Sjo a few seconds to realize this animal is not real, but made of stone. Glorio approaches the elephants and presses a hidden button somewhere, making the ground between the statue's giant feet shift aside to reveal a set of stairs.

The companions follow their host down into a vast cavern under the palace. The air is cool, humid and smells of salt. Staring down from the upper ledge, Balian sees a number of rope bridges descending from ledge to ledge until they reach a small quay below. So this is how the Arkona's manage to keep their pantries full, a secret pier inside a sea cave; the perfect place to smuggle goods in or out unseen. The upper rim is overgrown with colored fungi and leads past a solemn tree that moves as our friends approach. Quint notices that Glorio waves his hand, making the tree lean back and stop swaying. Crossing a first rope bridge takes the companions to a ledge with a door in the wall, which Glorio completely ignores. He continues to a second, smaller ledge which has nothing but a natural wall. Sjo spots double doors on the bottom level, facing the pier in the sloshing pool of sea water, and wonders about them. Glorio says that they hold his family's private shrine to Chamidu, their Vudran patron deity.

Puk already wants to take the third and last rope bridge down, but Glorio stops him. The nobleman pushes against the blank cavern wall, opening a secret door into a hidden tunnel. "We're going this way, Puk." After 20 yards the tunnel makes a sharp turn to the left, leading up to a sturdy bronze door. The face of the bronze entryway and the arch around it are carved with motives of tigers chasing tigers in endless circles. Glorio seems to shrink back in sight of the entry to the labyrinth. "This is the place", he breathes. "This is a far as I go. I wish you the best of luck. I'll eagerly wait for your return, so hurry back."

Puk touches the bronze door and it swings open easily. The small entry room has an exit in the opposite wall. Once all the companions are inside, the bronze door behind them swings shut. Balian and Puk look for traps and when they find none, they open the other door, discovering a second door immediately behind it. After opening that one as well, the party walks into a room with two alcoves on either side and a statue at the far end. Puk discovers two obvious pressure plates in both alcoves, while Quint studies the statue. It is the same man he saw on the painting in the lounge earlier, Eduardo Arkona, the builder of this labyrinth. The statue is dressed in long Vudran robes, has a shawl draped elegantly around its head and stretches out its hands to the sides. A familiar saying on the pedestal reads: "Balance in all things". Once Balian and Puk have established that the pressure plates do not trigger any traps, Quint figures out that both plates have to be pressed with a similar weight to trigger the mechanism. He steps and the left plate and motion for Balian to mount the other one. As soon as the ranger does so, the door slams shut and the companions feel the room turning. Puk estimates they have made a quarter turn before they stop and the door swings open again, revealing stairs going up to yet another door.

Behind this is a large room which is filled with a pool of acid. A stone walkway leads to a central platform with a shining circular symbol in the middle. As Sjo steps on the platform, the circle flashes up even brighter and summons a huge air elemental which immediately slams down on the Shoanti. Puk gets hit as well as he tries to tumble into position, but the halfling quickly discovers that the creature is invulnerable to his vicious sneak attacks. Balian jumps into the fray as well, but needs Quint's timely inspiration to actually hit the swirling air. The bard follows up with a haste spell. Sjo calls upon his fiery wings and flies to the other end of the platform, catching the agile creature in his burning hands flames, but causing it hardly any harm. The combatants exchange some hits and slams while first Spyder, next Puk and then Quint get sucked up in the whirlwind and spat out in the pool of acid. Fortunately Balian and Sjo get the better of the air elemental and quickly pull their allies out of the biting fluid.

Behind the acid pool is another corridor with a corner in the beginning. A gold mirror is mounted on the wall. Words have been written into the frame: "Use me, but do not speak about me or I will break." Discussing this strange puzzle, Quint uses the word 'mirror' several times, but that has no (ill) effect whatsoever. Balian finds that trying to take the mirror off the wall is not possible. Sjo notices a strong aura of conjuration magic down the corridor and tries to study the corridor in the reflection of the mirror, but cannot figure out how this puzzle works. Puk and Balian find no traps of pressure plates, but when they throw a gold piece down the hall, it reappears in the corner. So the corridor teleports you back, unless you use whatever it is you have to use.

Suddenly Puk steps up, looking at the mirror, and says: "It a riddle. What can break when you say it?"

"A secret is gone when you speak it out loud," Quint muses, "but how do you use a secret here? And what has this mirror to do with it?" Meanwhile Sjo attempts to walk down the hallway, but also gets teleported back to the beginning.

"It might not be the mirror, but the fact that it is made of gold that is the hint", Puk tries. "What is gold? The sun? The rays of the sun? Should we summon light or something?"

"Silence ..." Quint thinks out loud. "Silence is golden. And when you utter the word, you break the silence. You have to be silent to walk to the other side."

"I'll give it a try", Puk says as he tiptoes to the far end of the corridor. This time he is not teleported back, but he reaches the door on the other side. Opening it, the halfling stares into a small room with bookcases lining the side walls and many books and scrolls spread out on the floor. Now that the door is open, Puk's friends can easily join him, but when they step into the library, the books float off the ground and swirl together to form a creature made of tomes and scrolls.

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While making their way to Palace Arkona, the companions worry about how to get inside. They have met Glorio Arkona once, but that might not be enough to broker an audience with the man. Upon approaching the compound our young heroes are marveled by its beauty. Black marble walls, topped with swirly iron decoration, line the grounds. An intricately forged gate allows a peek inside, revealing a magnificent marble palace with gold pillars, high windows and elegant minarets. The large, open garden hosts stylized bushes trimmed to look like elephants, opulent patches of imported trees and exotic flowers and fountains and statues depicting strange animals like tigers, apes, snakes and peacocks. Two guards stand inside the gate, but the companions' attention is immediately drawn to a third person walking up from the palace with a graceful stride. It is Selena, the Vudran beauty who was manipulating the uprisings in the city prior to the plague and who orchestrated the failed murder attempt on Aisha Leroung during the Passion of Saint Alika opera. She was also the one who alerted Balian to the threat at the Carowyn party, which allowed our heroes to take out the shadow creature before it killed off half of the city's noble youngsters.

"At last you have arrived. My master has been expecting you. Please, follow me", she says as she opens the gate and leads the guests inside. She proceeds them up to the palace and through the front door, which is framed by a black marble arch depicting dozens of elephants standing atop each other. A rich hallway with a luxurious red carpet leads left and right, providing a pathway between several ebony doors. Selena walks off to the right and rounds the corner to a corridor leading up to a fourteen-foot tall marble statue of a six-armed woman with four faces on her head, staring in every direction. Sjo is sure she represents a Vudran deity, but his knowledge of that pantheon is too limited to identify her. A door in the middle of the right-hand side of the corridor opens up into a comfortable lounge with a large fireplace and some snug sofas. Lord Glorio Arkona is standing next to the hearth, with an impressive feline creature lying lazily at his feet. Spyder growls disagreeably as he sees the great tiger. Selena takes up her place between her master and a bare-chested man with broad shoulders, obviously a bodyguard.

"Gentlemen," Glorio greets his guests, "it has been a while since last we met. A lot has occured in that time, wouldn't you say so? How are you doing? Can I offer you some refreshments, a glass of wine perhaps? Or would you prefer coffee and chocolate?"

While Selena leaves to get the refreshments, Lord Glorio bids his visitors to take a seat. He tells them he has been following their progress closely and appreciates the direction they have chosen recently. Quint immediately asks his host about seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis and Vencarlo Orisini. Glorio wishes not to discuss them at this time, he states, as he wants to know first where the companions stand with regards to the queen. Lord Arkona makes no secret about having opposed the queen from the very start. He never trusted her, ever since she weaseled her way into king Eodred's bed years ago. Still, he tolerated her as long as the king was alive, but after Eodred's death, her malevolence became increasingly clear. She murdered her husband, got rid of the only person who had the authority to stop her - the senschal - and grabbed power in the city with no regard of its citizens.

Sjo objects to this analysis. He remains unconvinced of the queen's guilt, suspecting that she is being manipulated by an unseen power behind the throne. A likely suspect is her new seneschal, Magister Togomor. Lord Glorio smiles at Sjo's suspicions, but wipes them off the table: Togomor did not get involved until after the riots. Before that he was just doing his job in the Acadamae, while Ileosa was already plotting her evil. Sjo also refers to the commune that archbishop Keppira d'Bear of Pharasma performed. Although he agrees that most answers could possibly incriminate Ileosa, there was one question that supported Sjo's theory of a manipulative force behind the queen: the fact that she was being misled by one of her advisors. Glorio rolls his eyes at this line of reasoning, saying that we are all being misled some way or another. Even the most insignificant effort to mislead Ileosa about the most pointless thing imaginable would have prompted a 'yes' from the commune question. Hardly any proof that the queen is someone else's puppet.

Quint also points out that he and his friends met the queen before all the trouble started, when they returned her brooch to her. She was a different woman back then, sweet and innocent, not the ice-queen they saw when she killed commander Marcus Endrin of the Sable Company. Again Glorio nods and says this only supports his theory that the queen is evil and that they have to stop her. Sjo tries to meet his host halfway, by claiming that he does not stand against Ileosa, but for Korvosa. He does agree that something has to be done about the castle and Glorio seems to be satisfied with that.

Now the Lord of House Arkona is willing to talk about Neolandus Kalepopolis and Vencarlo Orisini. He admits that Salvator Scream, the painter, brought the seneschal to him and that he aided the man by providing a safe place to hide. At Kalepopolis's own request - Glorio claims - he cannot reveal where that is yet. He does know where Vencarlo Orisini is, but fears that it is not in a good place.

The swordmaster is a respectable man, Glorio feels, who fights for the right cause as well, albeit mostly on his own, which explains his limited success. Anyway, in his search for the seneschal, Vencarlo Orisini followed up on Scream's hints and came to the Arkona Palace only three nights ago. Apparently the fencing master was a well-informed man as well, Arkona muses, as he knew about the secret dungeons under the palace. Orisini snuck in and did something quite unfortunate: he entered a place called the vivified labyrinth, wrongly suspecting that Kalepopolis would be in there.

The labyrinth is some sort of deathtrap dungeon, Glorio sighs. It was constructed over two centuries ago by one of his forefathers, Eduardo Arkona. Glorio points to the painting of a handsome man above the fireplace: his face clearly shows several Vudran features, like a tanned skin and dark eyebrows. A bright red silk shawl covers his hair and completes the exotic look. Eduardo was Nerio Arkona's son, the man who established the trade route with Vudra and erected the family's palace in Korvosa. Eduardo completed his father's work by building the vivified labyrinth underneath, a place said to house Nerio's treasure. None of the Arkona's, nor any of their Vudran servants have ever entered the labyrinth, as powerful magic keeps anyone with Vudran blood out. Nerio's descendants have repeatedly tried to send hired adventurers in and reclaim the treasure, but no one ever came out of the dreaded dungeon alive. Glorio's grandfather Horatio was the last to attempt such an enterprise, but Glorio's father Marco banned the practice and his son kept to the same rule. This implies that no one entered the vivified labyrinth for two generations, until Vencarlo stupidly decided to go in three nights ago.

Glorio has no way of knowing if Vencarlo is still alive, but he wants to offer the companions the opportunity to find out, since Vencarlo is a friend of theirs who is worth saving and the man might make a capable ally in the struggle against the queen ... or castle. Glorio also admits that the 'treasure' intrigues him: it has been an unsolved mystery in his family for over two hundred years and who knows ... it might just be a powerful tool in their quest to help Korvosa. Glorio even offers the heroes a magic ring as payment, hoping the item can be of help inside the labyrinth. Sjo uses Zellara's cards to identity the piece of jewelry as a ring of evasion.

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Cleanthes wrote:
Oh yeah, let me add my thanks to Mike as well! I don't think I knew of your role before, but you've done great work for Paizo. Good luck in whatever's next!

Yes, good luck to Mike!

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Inspectre wrote:
MrVergee - Basically there was some interaction, in the form of the Sable Marines doing air drops of supplies now and again, and people could go back and forth through the sewers (the wererats were actually running a very profitable side business). The main issue was that the bridges were all destroyed - including the big stone bridge that in the AP as-written was left intact. So there was no way for most people to get over there and help/restore order. For Old Korvosa's part, the citizens are largely organized themselves into gangs for mutual protection/zombie removal, and those that were left presumably stayed there because they either liked the Mad Max-style anarchy, were unwilling to leave their homes, or were unable to do (those few elderly and crippled who *didn't* become zombie food). There was pressure on Queen Ileosa to do *something* about Old Korvosa, but the troubles with Kaer Maga also diverted their attention, and Ileosa pretty much spent the entire past month as a shut-in, going crazy off of Kazavon (as mentioned in the Book Three intro, where she finally gave in). So basically it was just a "yeah, we know this is a problem and we're working on it when we get around to it. Bridges take time to build, y'know?"

The delay in opening up Old Korvosa could definitely fit in your campaign as a sign that Kazavon's influence on Ileosa is increasing, rendering her too preoccupied at the moment to rule properly. I just asked because my players would wonder about such a delay.

In my campaign the PCs helped someone at the Leroung university procure ingredients for a cure, but as long as the cure hasn't been mass-produced, Old Korvosa remains locked off. And, of course, once the cure becomes available, Old Korvosa will be the last district to receive it. This gives me the timeframe to play out Escape from Old Korvosa. I always have to come up with reasonable explanations for things happening, or my players (notably one of them) will have trouble suspending their disbelief.

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I agree with Ashkar, adding Rolth to the emperor's entourage should definitely be a bonus, but don't overdo it and keep Lamm out of it.

I don't know what you've done with Lamm in your campaign, but if he was sent to prison, he should still be there. You might want to consider giving the PCs some closure on the Lamm chapter as well, but in a different way. It could be as simple as having the PCs witness some prison guards carrying out Lamm' dead body, the most recent plague victim in the Longacre building.

Having bad guys who were sent to prison by the PCs resurface, is something you should be careful with. Having prisoners escape undermines the PCs' admirable attitude of taking enemies alive and sending them off to prison.

A nice alternative approach to such a situation could be to have the PCs break out someone from prison themselves. Perhaps they need Lamm's help in taking down the emperor or Devargo will only cooperate with them if they get his good uncle Lamm out of jail. Now the PCs have to stage a prison break or use their diplomatic network to get the man free. Another fun approach could be to stage a trial of someone the PCs sent to prison and have the bad guy's lawyer bend the law or use typical lawyer tricks to get his client out, recreating an opening for a recurring villain.

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Great work on the personal stories, there. I love it.

I do wonder, though, how do you justify the extended quarantine of Old Korvosa. Two months is a long time to leave the Old Korvosans to fend for themselves. Is the plague still running, for if it isn't, why isn't the quarantine lifted?

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Dirk Moider wrote:
As far as giving the rogue help, I can imagine a good flanking buddy would be helpful, but what else?

A good way to add some combat strength without getting into the trouble of having to roleplay the character out of combat is an animal companion. E.g. give your rogue a dog that can level with him, so he has his flanking body, someone who can take a few hits and deal some damage. You could also go the figurine of wondrous power direction with this and give the rogue his own Guenhwyvar-like animal companion.

On top of that I find that adding an NPC to your party is a very good way to add the necessary staying power to the 'party' (I DM'ed some two-men parties in the past). This NPC does not have to be the same character all the time. You can alternate characters between different quests from time to time. This keeps the focus on the PC and sends the NPCs to the background in the overall story, while on a micro level you can pick NPCs with a personal interest in that part of the adventure, which adds depth to the quest at hand.

What I usually did in such cases, is roleplay the character outside of combat (in a very low-key fashion) and let the player control the NPC in combat.

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Wayne Reynolds has some sweet artwork for issue 99 and 100 on his facebook page. Check it out for a delicious preview.

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Swiftbrook wrote:
Check out the Pathfinder Minis site.

Looks like there are some spoilerish protype previews on the gallery site as well.

The second one is the beast of Lepidstadt. Nice!

Yes, I really love this set. It's definitely on its way of becoming my favorite so far.

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The Harrow readings are only in the adventure for flavor. There is no harm in leaving them out. You could also put them in, but not have them turn into a deck of many things at the end, because that is even less necessary for the story. It's just a gimmick, which I won't be using either, because decks of many things are notorious game breakers.

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The companions return to Vencarlo's burned down academy and build a pyre for Alika. Sjo prays to Pharasma to show mercy on the poor, misguided girl's soul and Quint pours his sorrow in a sad song. Balian just watches in silence as his sister's remains are consumed by the flames, hoping that she will find some kind of peace in the afterlife. Afterwards the party heads to the Endrin Academy, where Amin Jalento, Korwick and Heldrin are still safe. The sadness of Alika's demise is somewhat compensated by the joy of Mouse, reconnecting with his two best friends. Realising that they accomplished nearly the impossible by saving the three boys from the clutches of death definitely brings some comfort. Weary of today's trials, our heroes quickly slink away in sleep's embrace.

22 Erastus 4708

The next morning immediately proves how resilient young boys can be. Although they went through a traumatizing experience, Korwick, Mouse and Heldrin do not appear dazed. Sjo feels proud when he sees that his wards put food first in their priorities, plundering the provision cabinet for salami. Having faced the revenge of a deranged necromancer did not break little Mouse, as he recounts to his friends how the heroes saved him from the bad man with much gusto. Who knows, these boys might have the making of heroes in their hearts as well.

Following up on Amin Jalento's hint that Salvator Scream, the painter, visited his master Vencarlo Orisini on several occasions, the companions head over to the artist's house. The decripit building on the Narrows of Saint Alika appears in an even sadder state than the last time the party came here. As Balian moves in to pry open the lock on the front door, he notices that someone beat him to the punch. It looks like Salvator Scream already had 'visitors' a couple of days ago. The door swings open to reveal a front room with multiple muddy tracks covering the floorboards. The footprints lead to the bedroom with a single bed. The blankets and pillow atop are in disarray and there is no sign of the painter.

Salvator's studio stinks of must and mildew. At one time this room was a sanctuary where an inspired madman committed the visions of violence and horror in his head to canvas, but Salvator's latest work shows none of that brilliance. Frustration must have taken hold of the artist, as he destroyed his own lackluster creations.

Outside the party comes across some of the emperor's men. Quint inquires about Salvator Scream's whereabouts and easily tricks the goons into admitting that mister Scream is a 'guest' at their master's. Seeing this as an easy opportunity to make some money, Corl, one of the thugs, offers to procure an audience with the emperor in exchange for a pay-off. He wants 25 gold sails, but is haggled down to a mere 5 gold pieces before he takes to companions to the emperor's poor excuse of a palace.

Emperor Pilts Swastel heartily welcomes the heroes back to his place and after graciously accepting their gift of a magic cloak as a tribute, he agrees to let them speak to the painter for a couple of minutes. He takes the companions into the building behind his throne and leads them to a dark, unpleasant room, scarcely more than a cell, in which Salvator Scream is pining away. Pilts has no intention of leaving the party alone with the painter and sits down in a chair as he invites his guests to have their little conversation. The emperor feels comfortalbe in the company of his four personal bodyguards, who easily kicked the heroes' butts last time.

Scream looks in bad shape and seems ill at ease with the emperor staring down his face. Still, the companions convince him to talk. His tale starts with Neolandus Kalepopolis, the seneschal of Castle Korvosa. The two of them became friends a few years ago and regularly shared drinks to discuss art, religion and history. Then, three months ago, things started going horribly wrong. First Scream lost his muze and and three weeks later Neolandus Kalepopolis showed up on his doorstep, on the morning of King Eodred's death. The seneschal was grievously wounded and had lethal poison running through his veins. Kalepopolis drifted between life and death for many weeks, but somehow the good man survived, taking even longer to fully recover. When he finally felt better, Neolandus entrusted Salvator Scream with the terrible truth of what had happened to him. He had discovered that Queen Ileosa was responsible for killing her husband and that she had enlisted the aid of the Red Mantis, a secret organisation of deadly assassins. Two of those dreaded killers in their red insectoid armor had tried to slay him, but Neolandus escaped, barely alive, fleeing to Old Korvosa.

Neolandus admitted that he had never been a fan of Ileosa, but in the final weeks of Eodred's life, she had somehow changed for the worse, whatever that entailed. The seneschal did not share more on this topic with Scream, claiming "the less the painter knew, the safer he'd be". Neolandus also realized that he the painter's humble shack was no safe place to hide any longer, so now that he finally felt better, he wanted to find another refuge. Scream suggested the Arkona's, Old Korvosa's only remaining noble family. Since the island had already been cut off from the mainland at this point, the Arkona's seemed like the safest place to stay. The seneschal had his doubts, but Scream convinced him there was no alternative. Moreover, the artist liked Glorio Arkona, to whom he had sold several of his paintings in the past. He took Neolandus Kalepopolis there and hasn't heard from him since. The Arkona's seemed nice enough when he delivered the seneschal to them and Salvator Scream had felt like he could trust the nobles.

That changed after Scream talked to Vencarlo Orisini. The fencing master never tried to hide his disdain for House Arkona and seemed convinced that the family was involved in all kinds of dark, criminal activities. He was so outspoken about his distrust for these nobles that it took Scream three visits, spread out over more than a week, to gather the courage to tell him that he had delivered Neolandus Kalepopolis into their hands. Orisini got raving mad when he heard that, claiming that the seneschal would have been better off in Ileosa's dungeons.

When the heroes inform Salvator Scream that Vencarlo was attacked by the Red Mantis and has disappeared after escaping the assassins, the painter gets even more worried. He has no idea where the fencing master could be, but if he's still on the island, he might very well have gone to the Arkona Palace to find the seneschal.

At this point Pilts Swastel interrupts the conversation. The content smile on his face shows that he is pleased with what he has just overheard, but now he claims that time is up - the cloak the heroes gave him only bought them so much time. Sjo shoots a glance of understanding at Quint and the bards spurts into action, suddenly casting a haste spell. Balian takes advantage of his accelerated actions to chop down one of the emperor's bodyguards with three heavy blows. Puk throws himself at Pilts Swastel and almost takes the man out with three vicious lashes. Spyder finishes the job by grabbing the surprised emperor by the throat and choking the life out of him. The remaining bodyguards back down when Sjo steps in front of them, growling like a mad dog. The fight ends as quickly as it began, just like the first confrontation with the emperor, only this time the companions are on the winning side. The emperor's rule is over! Sjo drags his dead body outside and throws it on the guillotine. Most of the emperor's men have already cleared the scene; some of them are glancing at the adventurers from a safe distance and witness how their precious leader loses his head under his own tall knife. Sjo shouts out a challenge to them: "The emperor is dead! If I ever catch as much as the smell of you cowards, you'll suffer the same fate! Now RUN!" At that the mob disappears, leaving only a stupefied one-eyed gnome on the open-air balcony. When Sjo leans over him, the mute creature starts gesturing that he is innocent, pointing at the emperor's remains as the source of all evil. With a nod Sjo lets him go and the gnome jumps at the chance to get away.

Quint comes out with his hand on Scream's shoulder. "You're free to go, Salvator, Swastel won't bother you again."

"So, what do we know about this Arkona dude?" Balian inquires. "We met him once, at the great council in the castle ... He seemed pretty level-headed to me. And didn't we see his sister at the celebration in the Jeggare Museum, before the opera?"

"Yes, we did", Quint confirms. "I've picked up many rumors over the years. They say that the Arkona's are one of the richest families in Korvosa - if not the richest. Their home is supposed to be a magnificent marble castle, up on Garrison Hill. They do business with the distant nation of Vudra ... very lucrative, since they are one of the few trading companies allowed to import and export goods there. Most of their vessels never even make it to Korvosa, preferring to sell their cargo in the Inner Sea region instead.

The guards at their palace are Vudran too, as is Glorio's other half. Most people think he has a wife and two kids in Cheliax, but I've heard his spouse is a Vudran beauty who has never left her home country. She's raising his son and daughter there as well.

It was actually one of Glorio's forefathers who established the profitable relations with Vudra, a man named Nerio Arkona. He saved his house by pouring his last coins in a trading vessel, the Reprieve it was called ... hmm, must have been two and a half centuries ago, I reckon. Anyway, his journey was fraught with peril, but he survived and turned his enterprise into a smashing success. Upon his return, three years after he had left, he ordered the Arkona Palace built. Yes, he really managed to turn his fortune around, going from nearly bankrupt to filthy rich."

"Still, why does Vencarlo think he is so dangerous?" Puk wonders. "Aren't the Arkona's known for their generosity, providing cheap housing for the poor and sometimes even handing out money in the streets?"

"They are", Quint nods. "The man is quite popular and respected in this district. But this image of the big-hearted benefactor hides a less admirable truth. I'm afraid Vencarlo may be right. I've also heard that the Arkona's are heavily involved in crime, through the Cerulean Society, to be exact. Korvosa's thieves' guild does some dirty business, but by never crossing the line and by paying a hefty vice tax, they can get away with it ... even with being a 'guild' in a city that allows none. What's their leader's name again? Boule! A brute of a man, if rumors be true."

"Doesn't really matter how good or bad our man is, I suppose", Sjo interjects. "We'll find out soon enough as I suggest we pay him a visit. What do you say?"

"I guess we must", Balian smiles. "Let's knock on his door for a cup of tea."

"Coffee", Quint remarks. "Vudrans drink a bitter black tea they call coffee."

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Maybe Reaper deemed it inadvisable to release the miniature, since it already appeared in the Pathfinder Battles line. I, for one, seriously doubt if I'd buy a pewter mini of a character that is already in my prepaint collection, especially when you know that this fig might never even make it to my gaming table in either version (never played RotRL and it's not on my schedule).

The Lyrie miniature by Reaper actually ("Released on 09-12-11") predates the prepaint version ("Release Date: August 2012"). I can imagine that a prepaint version of a mini has a negative impact on the sale of a pewter version, even with people who play the AP in question.

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Good analysis. I totally agree.

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

I really would like to see a book in the 64 page Modules line designed for characters of 17th level that would take them to level 20. That could function as a retirement module, perhaps even expanding it to 90+ pages for that particular module.

If I had my druthers it would be the Quest of the Starstone so players could immortalise their PCs as Gods.

I've stated before that I'm not a fan of high-level adventures and I'm one of the people who has no need to see AP go any higher, but creating a high-level adventure in the modules line seems like the best answer to some people's needs for high-level content.

If Paizo was to do such a thing, I would advise them to try and tie the adventure in to as many APs as possible (i.e. create possible links to continue the AP with this adventure).

I'll give an example. The Test of the Starstone would make a perfect stand-alone high level adventure, but it could also be a possible follow-up for Curse of the Crimson Throne (I'm using this AP as an example because I'm familiar with it).

How to tie it in:
At the end of Curse of the Crimson Throne the PCs are left with the Crown of Fangs, which can only be destroyed by "a holy sword forged by a once-mortal god" (see Crown of Fangs p. 64). The Starstone might be the perfect place to locate such a blade, if the DM decides that Serithiel does not do the trick (the blade from Skeletons of Scarwallis rumored to have been made by Iomedae, but rumors are not always true ...).

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Sjo's player wrote down his version of the end of the session:

The Necromancer just escaped with a dimension door and Sjo - driven by the momentum of his charging attack- lands on the balcony where Mouse is still lying gagged. The healer suppresses his urge to go to the kid to undo his bindings but instead spies the sky in search of Rolth.
His limited vision prevents him from seeing his surroundings clearly but there seems to be no sign of Rolth.

Where did that filthy piece of s&$# go? Acting on his instincts Sjo jumps off the balcony and summons his fiery wings to glide down, back to the basement of the belfry tower. Getting more and more confident with his new form of movement the Shoanti takes his time to flutter down while quaffing 2 healing potions before his feet touch the ground.

Sjo pushes the doors of the building for the second time and is surprised to see Rolth standing in the big entrance hall. "You filthy piece of Shoanti-s#~&" the Necromancer shouts. "Why you just don't die as everybody else?" and 5 missiles shoot from his fingertips targeting the Oracle. Sjo starts to charge towards the necromancer, stoically taking in the missiles without giving a glimpse. Luckily the Shoanti was almost completely healed using his remnant potions.

In a final leap Sjo throws his full weight at Rolth and both crash to the ground. The necromancer tries again to escape the clutches of the furious Shoanti by casting a spell which would take him farther away from his nemesis. But this time he is not so lucky and the spell fizzles before it takes effect. Sjo seizes the opportunity to slip his arm around the filthy death-reeking man's neck and starts to strangle him. In his rage he calls out to the domain of Asmodeus to get that all-consuming fire. By setting his own arms ablaze and ever squeezing harder, Rolth only has a couple of feeble attempts left before all the life fades away from his body. While the necromancers' consciousness slips away, Sjo whispers in the dying mans ear: "I sentence you to die Rolth and hope you'll burn in hell for all what you did to us and the kids ..."

Even when the body goes limp, Sjo keeps getting on to that burning fire until he's exhausted.


Asmodeus is sitting in audience, listening bored and half-heartedly to the umpteenth dispute about some contract. Suddenly the Prince of Darkness' attention is caught by a little disturbance in one of his domains. Something is pulling fire with that much hate and force that it gets to his attention.

Shifting his attention away from this ever-dull audience the Ruler of Hell notices that the power is drawn by some Shoanti warrior in an amusing attempt to fry someone's head.

There's something about these two that gets the Dark Lords attention: This Shoanti must be that runaway pupil Reebs keep ranting about in his communes, and the other one... yes, that's the necromancer who - not even a day ago- haggled endlessly about a contract he wanted to sign.

The Lord of the Pit is amused with the situation: this filthy worm will fulfill his end of the contract very soon it seems. And the bigger irony is that this Shoanti-runaway is now fulfilling a service to him without even having a clue.

Burning his head every day for at least a hundred years seems like a good start to teach this would-be necromancer a little lesson in humbleness. As for this Shoanti-character: might be worth keeping an eye on that one.

The Prince of Darkness stand up from his throne - dismissing the audience- with his thoughts full of crispy heads ...

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MannyGoblin wrote:
LoL at Clem being up to his neck in water(to Valero's right)Time for some stilts.

Thanks for spoiling Lem's disguise check, MG. "Look guys, I'm skum!"

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

With Heldrin and Korwick safe, two of the three children living with the party in the villa are now out of harm's way. Heldrin joins his friend in the Endrin Academy while the companions head over to the old city hall to rescue the third and last missing lamb: Mouse. Korvosa's former townhall is situated in the quieter part of the island, up on Garrison Hill, quite close to the Palace of the Arkona family. Apparently the nobleman's name still carries enough weight to keep the emperor's men at bay. The high tower of the abandoned building is impressive. The companions figure they will have to climb it to the top floor, with the stories in between forming the perfect set-up for traps. Proceeding with caution the party locates and dismantles three traps on the lower floors. Climbing the tower turns out to be safe, at least until the companions reach a very high-ceilinged room in which the stairs wind up to the top floor. About halfway up the stairs acid rain starts pouring down on the heroes, burning their flesh. Balian scurries all the way up to shut off the sprinkling system. One wooden trap door separates the party from their destination, but Puk and Balian find powerful magic protecting the lid. Quint sacrifices himself and suffers the effects of a symbol of pain to open the trap door, while his friends hide on the floor underneath to keep out of the harmful magical blast. Next they storm through the hole, with Balian and Puk leading the way.

The top room has windows on all sides, overlooking the region. There used to be a huge clock in here, but it was removed and melted down decades ago, when queen Domina needed funds to finance her ever growing hunger for fancy building projects. A balcony juts from the south side of the tower; the open door reveals Rolth standing in the wind. Tied up, on the other end of the railing, is Mouse. One nudge would suffice to push him down. Barring the way to the door are three bearded devils and Alika. Hate flickers in her eyes as her brother steps into view. "For the glory of Urgathoa! Time to settle the score!" she hisses as she removes a long leather glove from her right hand. Her limb is completely stripped of flesh, leaving nothing but bone, like an undead graft on living tissue.

Sjo quickly gauges the situation and notices the schmuck smile on Rolth's ugly face, indicating that the necromancer feels in control with the little hostage at his mercy. The Shoanti summons his fiery wings and flies out, surprising the evil wizard and positioning himself between the foul man and his prey. Rolth looks most displeased and lifts off into the air himself ... he obviously prepared a fly spell. Still, he is frustrated, having hoped to threaten the party with the helpless boy and cast spells at them from a safe position. He calls into being a wall of force that block the doorway and curses Sjo for ruining his plans once again. Sjo pulls Mouse over to the safe side of the railing and lifts off. The two flying men engage in an aerial dance, swirling around each other, trying to hurt one another with magic. Sjo easily withstands the burns of two scorching rays and scoffs at Rolth's attempt to fear him, but he sees his own hold person and dispel magic fail as well.

Meanwhile Puk and Spyder are keeping the bearded devils occupied. One of the creatures claws into the halfling and rends his flesh with his filthy beard, while the other two wield glaives and cut Balian and his pet dog from a ten feet distance. Alika immediately charges her brother and starts hacking away at him. The ranger returns the favor by showing no mercy when he wields his greatsword. Doubt still creeps through his veins as he misses his target more than he hits it. Quint pulls out the wand of cure serious wounds and reverts to healing again. He also launches a discouraging satire in infernal, weakening the devils' attacks. Puk has already taken considerable damage, but strengthened by Quint's cure, he survives long enough to cut down a bearded devil. Next thing he knows is darkness, as the glaive of another devil drops him as well. Alika's skeletal claw hit several times, but deprived of an opportunity to sneak, the rogue does limited damage. When Balian's strokes hit, they are much more harmful. Even when the ranger realizes his sister is close to death, he does not hold back. He drives his blade through his sibling's chest, finishing her off once and for all. The foul necromancer corrupted her beyond saving, Balian sadly realizes. Death was the only release from this mortal existence that was left to her. And since she was Balian's responsibility, the cruel task fell on him. Still, the time to mourn will have to wait, for there are two dangerous devils left. Quint revives Puk and joins him in cornering one of the opponents, leaving the other one for Balian and Spyder. The heroes now have the upper hand and finish the job in a few rounds.

Outside the flying struggle continues. Rolth blasts Sjo with a powerful lightning bolt, but the Shoanti casts some healing magic and flings himself at the wizard, grappling him. Rolth curses even more in frustration and barely succeeds at mumbling the words of dimension door. From one second to the other he disappears. Sjo figures out that the wizard has to flee to a place close-by that he is familiar with, like somewhere else in the tower. The Shoanti flies down to the front door, quaffing more healing potions on the way. He enters the front hall again and stumbles upon his opponent in there. He jumps the necromancer once more and grabs him in a choking hold. This time Rolth fails his effort to cast magic and fizzles his get-away teleport spell. Sjo is determined not to let go of his prey and clasps his arm tightly around the man's throat, sending fire through his hands again and again. He only stops when he has no more fire left. Rolth's charred and lifeless body tumbles to the ground.

The companions recover some loot and find a special document in Rolth's possessions. After surviving the explosive runes on the parchment, Quint discovers it holds the precise wording of an infernal contract between Rolth and a devil named Chyvvom, promising the necromancer the services of infernal creatures up to five times in return for his immortal soul. The companions do not regret having had to fight their way through the servants from hell, as they now realize that Rolth will pay the price for these creatures' assistance with eternal torture in the afterlife. A fitting fate for one so foul!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There is no slavery in Korvosa, officially. There is no public display of slavery in the city.

However, the guide mentions:

  • "Rumors persist throughout the city that the temple of Asmodeus actively supports and encourages the slave trade" (p. 17).
  • Eodred II had "slave girls in his harem" (p. 36); who are labeled "enslaved beauties" on p. 40.
  • The Cerulean Society "exports homegrown pesh, slaves, and infernal goods" (p. 47).
  • The Guide also compares the first three years of apprenticeship in the Acadamae to "slave labor" (p. 53).

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe you could have the PCs be somewhere else with Rexus (they are friends, sharing a drink in a bar). Rexus gets targeted as well and the PCs have to save him. After the attack he wants to return home, only to find it burned to the ground ... The PCs could also pick up rumors of other places that were attacked.

This way your PCs can contribute actively, by saving Rexus from his attackers, but they can still share his grief. After the attack Rexus decides to go underground and a week later, he sends a letter to the PCs to meet him during the demonstration in the park, leading to the first adventure.

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Cthulhudrew wrote:
I have a sudden urge to reimagine Hell's Rebels as an A-Team series...

Especially when you know one of its former members was a Halfling wizard named Ba.

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Jurgen Dark wrote:
Very awesome. Did you have to paint each of the books that make up the creature?

The books and scrolls are printed as shown in this tutorial:

How to make books, scrolls and maps

and some more

Some examples of books, scrolls and maps.

You basically look for some nice pictures of book covers or scrolls online, print them out really, really small. I glued the books on some thin cardboard and stuck some masking tape in the back of the scrolls.

The figure itself was built up on a washer with a hot glue gun. Then I stuck the books to the base and the scrolls to his body.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think the scrivenite from In Hell's Bright Shadow is so freaking awesome that I crafted one myself. Here are some pictures:

Scrivenite 1
Scrivenite 2
Scrivenite 3

Click on the images to enlarge.

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Ashkar wrote:
As GM, I use contact rules. Some of mine players are thinking on taking Glorio as contact (he gave them a sidequest/job, so they met him between first and second arc). Im torn between "yes" or "no" answer. Is it a good idea, to maker him a contact for the party?

I'm not familiar with 'contact rules', but having Arkona as a contact should be quite interesting. He will only feed the PCs the info he feels they should have and he will probably use his 'contact' influence to manipulate the PCs.

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Deathstar wrote:
We will be running it with a solid group of three players, plus one occasional on-and-off character who will just disappear within the ranks of the crew when the player is not available.

Let the player leave his character sheet and let the other players use this PC in combat. That is how we do it at my table when one player is absent. It provides continuity for all characters and for the campaign.

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ChargingCavalier wrote:
I am working on a similar slow leveling Curse of the Crimson Thrones campaign with more emphasis on the various noble houses in Korvosa and their own machinations.

Sounds great. I'd love to hear more about it when you get that far.

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Great work, thanks!

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Nullpunkt wrote:
Were they afraid that the PCs might end Devargo or his business in Edge of Anarchy and thus the plot hook would dissolve?

This would be my answer to your question.

If Devargo Barvasi is still alive in your campaign, there is no reason why you wouldn't be able to make him the Spider Emperor of Old Korvosa instead of Pilts, if you wanted to do that. Your group might even enjoy that more.

I foreshadowed Pilts Swastel in my campaign, so I kept him as emperor. Barvasi still lives as well, and if my PCs were to approach him, I'd have him ask them to remove Swastel from power. I doubt they will do that, though, but they have already got their own minds set on taking Swastel out, since he humiliated them when they went to ask him for help in tracking down another enemy who is hiding in Old Korvosa: Rolth the necromancer. You can read all about it in my journal.

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Cleanthes wrote:
I've also used a rebased Heroclix Lorelei mini in that role, which can usually be purchased quite cheaply.

Lol, I did that too. She's a bit on the tall side, but she makes for a good seductress type.

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Add me as a fan to start at level 1.

I'm not looking for AP's that go all the way to 20, on the contrary, I would prefer them to go even less high than they do now, maybe 13 or something. I find high-level play harder to manage and more time-consuming (both in preparation and at the table). So going to 13 would actually work better for me. It would even leave me the option to add an extra homebrew follow-up to the campaign, which I find increasingly tricky at the 16+ levels.

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Phew! That's quite a read. Congratulations on finishing the AP. Looks like you guys had fun.

So, switching GM's around, isn't that tricky? You have a lot of meta-knowledge you need to set aside when you're a player. On the other hand it forces you to stick closer to the AP than you might want to. It is more difficult to deviate from the original story if you are not in control of what follows. It is nice, though, that it offers you the opportunity to be a player as well.

I noticed you changed some of the rules and story elements. They match my sentiments. I think the ship combat rules are a bit shaky, especially since not every player is involved. Story-wise, I also prefer story-based railroading to rather aimless and story'less' sandboxing. In that respect, I also appreciate Legendary Games's adventures, which add story-heavier scenarios to the sandboxing. Likewise, I think that Plunder and Peril might make an excellent addition.

I also couldn't help but wonder, when you wrote:

Drakir2010 wrote:
And thanks to the generosity of Jason Nelson, I was able to review an early version of Legendary Games' upcoming product, Fort Scurvy.

Is there any ETA on this adventure, because it's been 'upcoming' for quite some time now? I've been waiting for it for over a year now ...

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Travelling to the Copper-Beater hall sends the party through the heart of the emperor's district again. They pass four of Pilts' ruffians on the way, who glare at the heroes and start chuckling, but do not engage. As the thugs walk down the street, a gaunt man with a blank stare in his eyes exits from an alleyway. He's clinging a simple wood-chopping axe in his grasp and is dressed in an ill-fitting and awkwardly strapped leather armor. The man pays the companions no heed, but trots off after the four bullies instead. Quint shouts out to him, but his cry only makes the emperor's men look back and notice the haggard man approaching. The wretch raises his axe and charges the thugs, but his inept swing goes wide and the next moment he is on the ground with the four ruffians on top of him. They cheerfully disarm the poor man and drag him along.

The Copper-Beater Hall is an impressive structure with a fancy front door. Peeking through the windows Puk makes out a luxurious meeting room and a richly decorated office, which are both deserted. The side of the building sports large warehouse doors through which crates and containers are normally transported in and out of the building, but they are shut now. The three chimneys are spouting black smoke, but there is no thunder of pounding hammers, which usually resounds from within. There is a third way in on the backside of the factory, which looks like the entrance for the workers. This is the entry point the companions choose.

The heroes walk into a small changing room with some clothes and leather aprons hanging from pegs on the far wall. The dry, mouldy bread on the table suggests that the workers have not been here for some time. The door leading to the copper-beating furnaces feels slightly warm to the touch and Puk's observant ears pick up some low growls on the other side. Sjo casts resist fire on Balian and Puk, trusting that his innate fire resistance and Quint's ring will prove enough protection to withstand any potential fire attacks. As Balian pulls open the door, he is met by three powerfully built wolves, the size of draft horses, with ebony fur and fiery eyes. Spikes protrude from the fur on their backs which seems to flicker with red flames. The biggest of these hellhounds turns towards the intruders and spews forth a sea of flames, engulfing all companions in an inferno. His breath weapon also lights up oil which flows through several gutters in the workplace. Tied up in front of the blazing furnaces is Heldrin, who is now struggling to avoid the wall of fire that spreads through the room. Puk can evade the fire breath completely, while Quint and Balian get seared moderately. It is the fire-loving Shoanti, however, who takes a heavy burn. Before he can recover, Sjo gets jumped by a second warhound, whose fierce bite puts him down. Quint pulls Spyder, who is also heavily charred, behind the open door and waits for Puk and Balian to lure the hellish canine into the changing room. Then he kicks the door shut, giving his friends the opportunity to quickly take out this opponent. Meanwhile the bard uses his wand to put Sjo back on his feet. Next Quint reopens the door and Balian charges the two remaining Nessian warhounds the workplace. Through sheer luck Heldrin has avoided most of the flames and is still on his feet, though barely. Fortunately the oil in the gutters has burned away and the fire in the room is now dying out. Balian cleaves and Quint makes it to his side, for the ranger is taking multiple bites and is in desperate need of healing. Puk tumbles into an advantageous position and works his sneaking magic. Sjo aids in healing Balian, whose heavy hits kill off a second hound, but the ranger still gets dropped himself before his friend finish off the last Nessian warhound.

The healing wands are drained further of their cures and the companions realize they are slowly getting through their resources with at least one more rescue attempt ahead. Quint notices a wooden replica of the Old City Hall, the tall spire of which has in indentation which fits the feet of the Mouse miniature. At one time in history, this belfry-like structure was the tallest building in all of Varisia, until the Arvensoar in Magnimar stole away that distinction for more than a decade. Korvosa quickly reclaimed the honor with the completion of the north tower on Castle Korvosa, though. The Old City Hall's black stone walls have led to people calling it the Charcoal Palace. It served Korvosa as city hall for 60 years, until Remsev Ornelos decided that its many stairs leading up the tall tower were a terrible inconvenience to anyone working there. The building might have been prestigious in design, it was also very impractical. So when the city expanded to the mainland, the Korvosans constructed a new, more practical city hall in North Point, which remains in place until today. The Old City Hall has housed a handful of private initiatives over the last two centuries, but it has stood empty for at least as long as any of the companions can remember, serving mainly as a landmark in the oldest part of the city. Will this tall tower be the arena for the party's confrontation with Alika and Rolth? Judging by their resources, the heroes certainly hope so.

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While making their way to the temple of Aroden, the companions find the streets mostly abandoned. Has the plague decimated this district so thoroughly that there is hardly anyone left or are people so scared of the emperor that they dread coming outside? The first reason will surely have a huge impact, but fear of Pilts Swastel definitely plays a part as well, which becomes clear by the little game some ragged children are playing. Faking an execution with some simple wooden stick dolls and guillotine, the kids sing a macabre song:

"Off with your head, off with your head!
The Demon's Maw will see you dead.
He'll put you down, his blade will thrust
and BANG your head drops in the dust!"

Sjo tries to scare away the children by telling them he will grow two heads if his is ever chopped off, but these little upstarts are not spooked easily. Having survived as long as they have in these inhuman circumstances has clearly hardened them. They simply change their lyrics to "off with your heads ..." and carry on singing.

The temple of Aroden is an old, crumbling building which has lost almost all of its former splendor. Sjo uses a new neat trick and summons a pair of fiery wings, allowing him to fly up to the bell tower. Using his mace, he strikes the brass bell in an effort to distract whoever is inside the building, while his friends burst through the front doors. The ring of the bell is answered by the rattling of chains and the wails of a young child crying out in pain. When Balian pushes open the front doors, he finds the temple covered in a web of chains. A strange figure, dressed in tattered robes, is standing at the other end of the room. Multiple chains flow from his body and seem to bring the entire iron meshwork to life. Above the altar hangs the squirming form of Korwick. The shackles are squeezing him ever tighter and make him scream out in agony. Balian and Quint find a path through the tangled web and close in on the enemy, who unleashes a cacophony of dark, soul-shaking howls from the pits of hell. A pitch-black cloud spreads out around him and the overwhelming scream deafens the two brave heroes, who summon the strength of their will to fight back an even nastier effect. Puk and Sjo enter as well, but the Shoanti is the only one who can see in the dark - his limited clouded vision does have its advantages after all. He notices that the evil fiend moves through the sea of iron braids with ease, while his friends all get caught in it. The healer throws a burning hands on the creature, but the flames simply glide off its body, leaving it unharmed. Spyder's keen sense of smell allows the dog to locate the devilish monster in the darkness and attack it with a critical bite. But the canine's teeth do almost no damage. So the devil needs specific weapons to be hurt; unfortunately no one in the party possesses the knowledge to know which. Groping around in the blackness and struggling with the entangling chains makes the party very inefficient. Balian manages to pull free from the grasp of the web and makes his way to the monster, but as the darkness drops away, he now faces the unnerving gaze of the sacristan kyton - who has lowered his hood - and is staggered. The chain devil keeps moving agilely through the crisscross of strings and lashes out mercilessly with his own spiked chain, making all the heroes bleed. Quint stumbles out of the church and pull out his wand of feather step to allow himself faster movement in this difficult terrain. The combination of the entangling chains and the unsettling eyes of the kyton make this fight very hard. The companions keep getting stuck in the iron web - even the dexterous rogue Puk - and the monster's gaze continually steals actions from the heroes if they fail to summon the willpower to resist. The only upside is that the devil's most efficient tactic is to cleave away at his enemies, thus spreading the damage over multiple targets, instead of focus firing. Of course, this forces the companions into combat healing as well, Puk has to pull out a potion to stay in the fight, while Quint resorts to his wand of cure serious wounds and Sjo burns through his own healing magic. Quint makes it to the altar, where the strangling chains have forced poor Korwick into unconsciousness. He saves the boy's life with a touch of the wand. Meanwhile Balian scores his first hit; his greatsword's magic is not empowered to bypass the devil's damage reduction, but his heavy hit still deals a fair gash. The ranger's skill of following up when his enemy tries to step away also proves its worth, forcing the devil to stop moving about. Sjo also closes in on the kyton and strikes hard twice. It takes many more rounds of healing, striking and trying to avoid the creature's gaze or facing the potential staggering effect before Puk finally gets into position and finds that the silver of his off-hand short sword actually does full damage to the fiend. The halfling's first strike is also his last, as the sacristan kyton finally drops to the floor, defeated at last.

The companions dig deeply into their resources of healing wands to restore everyone to full health. Korwick has lost consciousness again, but is still alive! Puk finds another wooden miniature building, representing the Copper-Beater hall, an enterprise close to the pier of Eel's End. This wooden toy house fits the feet of the Heldrin puppet. Sjo also discovers the bodies of the three priests of Aroden in a backroom of the temple. They have all been slashed to death by the kyton's cruel barbs.

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Erik Mona wrote:
There are (many) more townsfolk coming.


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He might have picked up rumors that the Sklar-Quah are actually preparing for war, and decide to return to the Cinderlands to talk them out of it (unsuccessfully, of course). That is a good excuse to leave as well ...

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The way I understand it: the disappointment at the PCs' sudden flight is totally yours, not Glorio or Vimanda Arkona's. Why should they care that the PCs did not invade their manor and took their 'ace in the hall' Neolandus Kalepopolis from them? There is absolutely no need for them to seek revenge for something bad that the PCs did not do to them. In fact, the fact that the PCs did not interfere with his plans, keeps Glorio on course to execute them (his plans, I mean, not the PCs!).

The way I see it:
Glorio Arkona has his mind set on gaining the Crimson Throne. That is why he kidnapped Kalepopolis, as a weapon to use against the queen. There is only one problem: Ileosa has grown too powerful for Glorio to move against her. With all his resources, Arkona might even suspect where the queen gets her power from and covet this artifact for himself. Being the Machiavellian mastermind that he is, Glorio Arkona even realizes that the PCs might aid him in his cause, after all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend!

So what would be his goals?

He wants the seneschal to be his puppet, so breaking Neolandus Kalepopolis' will to cooperate or manipulating the man thoroughly until he believes Arkona is his friend is probably high on his list.

Gaining the support of the other noble houses and the common man is important too, because he needs that if he wants to gain the throne once Ileosa is beaten.

He also wants the PCs to succeed. If they can remove Ileosa from power, the way is open for him to step in. So, if anything, he should support them. This is very far from the bloody mess you want him to inflict on the party.

So how would I use him?

The way I would (and probably actually am going to) use him, is this. I'd have him step in the moment the PCs defeat the queen. Have him show up when the ultimate fight is almost over, hell , you might even have him deliver the killing blow, so he can steal the glory (is that why he's called Glorio?) He will immediately try to make a grab for the crown once Ileosa is down. If he succeeds, then you can have him inflict all kinds of badassness on the PCs. If he fails, he still stands for king. His claim will be more powerful if he has Neolandus in his corner. Let your party deal with that! This use of Arkona is much more devious and possibly more epic as well.

On the other hand, if you still want your epic end to part three, you could play the Vimanda card. Her ambitions do not run as high as her brother's. She wants to gain control of the House. The PCs might have been excellent tools to achieve that goal. So, if she still wants to take over House Arkona, she could contact the heroes and convince them to attack her brother with her aid. She will give them Kalepopolis in return. Of course, she will betray the PCs. In spite of her promise to stand by the party in the fight, she will hang back and let the heroes do the fighting. Once her brother is dead and the PCs are low on resources and hit points, she will attack them. Her plans for the seneschal might not be as ambitious as Glorio's, but she could simply trade the man off to the queen, to gain standing and influence at court. After all, who doesn't want to be BFF's with the radiant Ileosa?

Of course, if you do decide to go for the beat the PCs into a bloody pulp, I'm sure I'll have fun reading about it. After all, I do like the way your insidious spectre mind works ...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In fact, Thousand Bones left Korvosa shortly after the PCs recovered Gaekhen's body and Neolandus Kalepopolis never met with him.

Quote from History of Ashes, p. 11.:
Of all the Shoanti tribes, it has been the Skoan-Quah who have been most open to talk of peace between Korvosa and the tribes. Until recently, a large number of Skoan-Quah ambassadors dwelt near Korvosa, and peace talks between the two factions were slowly but surely heading in the right direction. Neolandus recalls one old shaman in particular as being level-headed and friendly, a man named Thousand Bones. One of the last things Neolandus tried before the Arkonas got hold of him was to arrange a meeting with the old shaman, but unfortunately, shortly after an event involving one of the Shoanti braves during the riots, the Shoanti abandoned Korvosa. Thousand Bones and his people have returned to a place east of Kaer Maga in the Cinderlands known as the Kallow Mounds, and their reports on the tumult and chaos in Korvosa very likely fueled the neighboring tribe’s sudden need to strike while the enemy was wounded.

If the Shoanti haven't left Korvosa yet in your campaign, you could have the threat of the plague send them running back to the Cinderlands.

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