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Human on Flying Carpet

MrVergee's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 984 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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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!"

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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 ...

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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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Nicely done; linkified for your convenience: Free Kintargo!

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Marco Massoudi wrote:
Who is this "Shensen" mentioned on page 13 of the Players Guide? ;-)

Her name immediately made me think of Shensen Tesseril, a female half-drow bard/druid/monk from the Shackled City AP. She's in Flood Season, in Dungeon #98 on p. 38-39, an adventure written by a certain James Jacobs. Some groups even gave her a recurring role in their game, making her an NPC ally or maybe even a replacement PC. Maybe Mr. Jacobs can lift a tip of the veil ...

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Definitely Amiri for first place.

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And so the companions return to Endrin military academy, with Amin Jalento in tow. Again, the only thing answering their call at the front doors is a dog barking inside. Quint uses the Key-lock Killer's bell to magically open the entrance. The barking comes from a room down the hall. It leads the young friends to a training room where a white labrador retriever sinks into a low growl. Balian sends Spyder over to ease the animal's discomfort, as suddenly one of the practice dummies comes to life and jumps down from the wooden scaffolding and swings his longsword at Quint. "Get out, intruders. We don't need looters in here!" He draws some blood, but when the bard looks at the man's face, he notices a long scar across his left cheek. When Danarella talked about Janros Rainwater, she mentioned such a distinct scar.

"We come in peace ... Janros Rainwater, I presume. We're not here to steal from you, we're here to talk. We want to ask you about Yuuna", the bard says.

"Yuuna, do you know where she is?" he jumps to Quint's words.

"We were actually hoping you might tell us", Quint continues with a slight tone of disappointment.

"She's been missing for a couple of days now, she hasn't been at work and she's not at home."

"So you've been to her place. Maybe you're the one who got in through the back window", Sjo speculates.

"Indeed I was. The only thing I found was a wooden toy house, representing a local little restaurant. I don't know if you're familiar with it, 'The Traveling Man' it's called. I went there and asked about her, but I didn't find anything."

"So, you're here all by yourself, or what?" Balian notices.

"Just me and Boomer", Janros pets the dog. "Everyone else was called back into service, when all the trouble started after King Eodred died. I am one of the seniors here, so I stayed behind to keep an eye on things. There have been a couple of attempts at looting since the quarantine. That is why I attacked you ... I do apologize, of course."

"Don't worry about it, hard times demand even harder measures. We understand," Quint assures the man." Still, I imagine you do not know what is happening to your brethren on the mainland. They are much worse off."

"My brothers, what do you mean?"

"Well, there is no easy way to break this news to you," Sjo explains. "The Sable Company has been outlawed after Commander Endrin attempted to murder the queen."

"He did what?"

"He tried to kill her, shot an arrow straight into her head, he did", Balian goes on. "Should have killed her on the spot, but she pulled it out like it was a splinter and planted it right between Endrin's eyes. Game over for him, and his troops with him. The Gray Maidens have been all over town hunting the Sable Company down."

"By the gods, I must get over there and help them!" Janros shouts.

"If some of your colleagues are still alive and at large, they've probably gone into hiding already. There's not much you can do", Quint says.

"The hell there isn't. I cannot sit idle while my friends are being butchered or arrested. I have to help, or at least I have to try!" Janros objects.

"Why don't you come with us to find Yuuna?" Sjo suggests.

"As much as I love her, duty calls. I'll give you the wooden house, though I don't see what good it will do. Then I have to go."

The toy house does not only portray 'The Travelling Man', but also the square in front of it, which is famous for its occasional otyugh outbursts. A small wooden circle represents the plug over the sewer entrance. Puk notices he can remove it and sees a strange, vaguely heart shaped indentation underneath it. Studying it, Quint realizes that it perfectly fits the feet of the wooden Yuuna figurine. So she is not in 'The Travelling Man' after all, but in the nearby sewers!

The companions quickly say goodbye to Janros Rainwater and Amin Jalento, who has agreed to watch over the Endrin academy in Janros's absence. Afterwards they hurry to the square in front of 'The Travelling Man'. A heavy grid covers a substantial hole in the ground, which is normally winched open every Oathday to feed the garbage eaters. Next to this giant plug is a smaller manhole with a lid, which opens easily, revealing a ladder down. A scared female voice rings from below: "Is anyone there? Please help me!" The slightly exotic accent betrays her Vudran heritage. It is Yuuna! And she is still alive!

The adventurers climb down and find a stone set of stairs leading further into the dark. Below a light shines from a locked cage which houses a scared woman. She clings to the bars in the front, trying to avoid the tentacles swinging at her in the back of the cage. A hungry otyugh is barred from entering at the other end, but it is attempting to grab the Vudran with its long feelers through the iron ribs.

Then a second female voice calls out: "Once again we bear witness to your slow and feeble attempts at rescuing those you love! You should have been here hours ago! Still, I'll give you this one shot at saving the damsel in distress to kick off our little game. There will be no such mercy from here on, though. So, prove to me how fast you are at rescuing your friends or watch them die! No time to dally." With the sound of metal grinding on stone several portcullises rise and at the same time the door in the back of Yuuna's cage swings open, clearing the way for the otyugh to charge in.

"Puk, use the cloak of the pixie king!" Quint shouts as everyone gathers around the halfling who zaps the party into the cage. Arriving behind the bars gives the companions the opportunity to confront Yuuna's foe, but it also keeps them safe from the pair of otyughs that enter the central room through the other opened passages, or at least the heroes think so, because the creatures simply stretch their appendices through the iron poles to attack. Balian cuts a deep slash into the sewer monster in the cage, but then he sees an extraordinarily large specimen emerging from one of the lower pipes. The creature glides its mighty tentacle through the bars and grabs the ranger with it, pulling him against the iron and crushing his ribs. Quint tries to save his friend by nauseating the huge grappler with cacophonous call, but his magic is easily resisted. One of the normal sized beasts also grabs Balian through the metal, putting the ranger in dire straits. Inside the cage the otyugh bites Sjo with its filthy teeth, but it doesn't survive Puk's deadly gashes. Next Sjo draws upon his mastery over the element of fire and hurls a fireball at the three monsters in the central room. Burned sewage is not exactly a pleasant smell, but the crisp meat on the otyughs' backs is definitely a welcome sight. Balian fails to free himself from the huge tentacle and has to resort to his dagger to gash the tendril that squeezes him. It takes several rounds of cutting and two extra fireballs to drop another otyugh and send the two remaining ones running.

While Yuuna thanks Quint profusely for saving her, Balian notices another toy house in the corner. This one resembles the temple of Aroden, an old crumbling church, devoted to the worship of the city's former most popular god, until he disappeared a century ago. A pitiful trio of clerics is rumored to maintain the building as best they can, going so far as to hold services every Sunday for a handful of patrons, most of whom are not worshippers, but simply curious observers. The feet of the Korwick doll fit into an indentation inside the wooden miniature building.

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The first assassin uses the element of surprise well by slicing into Quint's flesh with his curved, serrated blade. His comrade never gets the chance, however, as Balian brings down his greatsword in a devastating arch, tearing apart the man's carapace armor. When the heavily injured hitman tries to stumble out of the way, the ranger follows up with another bloody sweep, finishing off his opponent once and for all. As his corpse hits the floor, the room is suddenly filled with a red mist. The first trained killer realizes that newcomers aren't simple students of the Orisini Academy and vanishes from view. The next moment a giant real-life red mantis appears behind Balian. The ranger easily deflects the insect's claws and continues his deadly attacks, quickly chopping the creature down. Meanwhile Puk reaches into his pocket and draws out some dust of appearance, which he blows into the air, making the invisible assassin reappear. The opponent now finds himself cornered and summons four mirror images, but facing overwhelming odds, this act only prolongs his suffering. He manages one more feeble hit, before being overrun. As he falls down, more red mist arises and the companions notices that both assassins' corpses have completely disappeared, as if they were never there. So these are the dreaded red mantis? By the gods, how they failed to live up to their reputation!

Sjo suggests using Vencarlo's house to rest up, the hour is growing late and tomorrow promises to be a rough day. At the same time they can wait here for the fencing master to come back home. The heroes quickly scan the building and discover a hidden lockbox in Vencarlo's closet. It contains a bag of holding, which Balian empties on the floor. The black cloak, mask, boots and gloves and the fancy rapier leave no doubt as to its proprietor: this gear is Blackjack's. So Vencarlo is the caped crusader, just as the companions expected. Sjo puts the items back in the bag and return the box to its secret compartment. Let's just hope that the old pro gets home soon, the party could definitely use an accomplished ally at its side to steer through the murky waters of Old Korvosa.

21 Erastus 4708

Morning breaks and still there is no sign of Vencarlo Orisini. As the party leaves his house, Balian spots a shadowy figure trying to hide in the ruins of the burned training facility. The ranger rushes over, his greatsword blazing in the light of the morning sun. The shadow scurries backwards, stumbling over his own heels and falling flat on his bottom in the ashes. In the black dust Balian recognizes the face of one of Vencarlo's students: Amin Jalento, captain Jalento's boy.

"You are alive! I saw you enter that deathtrap yesterday evening ... those assassins were waiting inside. And when you didn't come out, I feared the worst!"

"So, what are you saying? You saw us walk into this ambush without warning us?" Quint raises his eyebrows.

"I'm sorry, I was hidden in that building up there, squeezed between the beams of the roof. A narrow hiding space, not easy to get out of, but a good place to remain from view. Anyway, after the master was forced to flee the day before yesterday, I've been waiting for him there."

"Wow, too much information at once, Amin, why don't you start at the beginning?" Sjo interjects.

"Of course, I apologize. You know I'm a student at master Orisini's school. I was on the island attending classes when the quarantine hit. My master was gracious enough to allow me to stay as his guest. My fellow students have all either left or died from the plague, but fortunately Vencarlo and I did not get sick. Then, two nights ago, we were set upon by five of those red killers in their ant helmets ..."

"Not ants, mantises actually, red mantis assassins to be exact", Quint clarifies.

"Gods, no ... those notorious slayers are after my master? They say the red mantis don't quit until they finish their contract. Then it's even worse than I feared. Anyway, my master held them at bay while he shouted for me to run. As I glanced over my shoulder, I saw how he took down one of them, but there were too many, so master Orisini knocked over a brazier and set the academy on fire, giving him the opportunity to flee as well. I haven't seen him since. I've been hiding, waiting for him to return. That's how I saw those two killers sneak into the house yesterday. They even lighted the fireplace, perhaps they were trying to suggest that I was in the building."

"And then we arrived. It didn't occur to you to shout a warning?" Balian grumbles.

"To be fair, I had dozed off, it was late after all. I was awakened by you knocking on the door ... before I could react, you had entered. By the time I had crawled out of my hiding place and made it to the door, I heard the sound of battle inside. When you did not come out again, I assumed you had been slain. So I hid once more ... I'm a coward, I know, keeping out of harm's way is the only tactic I know to survive."

"And what of you master, where could he be?" Quint asks.

"I don't know where he has gone. The master never tells me where he goes. Even in the days after the quarantine he left the house regularly, mostly at odd hours in the night, sometimes not returning until the morning. At one such return his clothes were bloody - he told me he had fought off a thief, but I'm sure there was more to it than that. Furthermore, in the days before the red mantis attack, my teacher had a singularly strange houseguest visit him on three separate occasions - a man with wild hair and a jittery habit of looking about. I guess he was some kind of artist, for he had blue stains on his hands and clothes."

"Salvator Scream, a doom-thinking painter who has been going through an extended 'blue period', no doubt", Sjo muses.

"That is probably correct, he definitely had this 'poéte maudit' vibe going for him. Still, Vencarlo always spoke to him behind closed doors. On their last meeting I heard my master raise his voice in anger, a rare thing, I assure you. Vencarlo Orisini is known for his patience and control. In over a year, he never got mad at me even once, despite my clumsiness and lack of progress."

"Don't sell yourself short, friend. You will find your courage yet", Sjo balms. "Still, one thing is clear, this place is no longer safe, not with the red mantis about. Do you have any other place to stay?"

"I don't. I live on the mainland, I just come here for my classes. Master Orisini is the only one I know here."

"So you don't know anyone at the Endrin military academy either?" Balian asks.

"Well, I know of the place. It's a Sable Company operation, but some officers of the Guard train there as well. Dad studied there for a time, before he made captain, when I was still a child. But I've never been there myself."

"Well, the academy is where we're going right now, perhaps you can stay there, you're the captain's son, after all", Balian smiles.

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roloz wrote:

The Party still LIKES Queen Ileosa and while I've been dropping subtle hints, it's either gone over their heads or they've rationalized it as a naive young queen getting bad advice from scheming nobles.

I may have laid it on a bit thick in the second session with the whole "Oh heroes, I am just a weak and innocent queen, please help me save my city" bit. Everyone liked her and the Bard is openly planning to seduce her.

You gotta love that! The queen should be a master manipulator, so having the PCs deceived by her is an excellent story-element.

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The companions' next destination is Yuuna's flat. Balian easily picks the lock and finds a small, but colorful room. There is no trace of Yuuna, there are no signs of a struggle, only the back window has been forced open. Nothing else is of any help to the young men, so they return to Eel's End to talk to Yuuna best friend, Danarella. The redhead has no idea where her Vudran colleague disappeared to, although she hopes her friend is okay. She might have fled to the mainland, but Danarella suspects that Yuuna would never do that without informing her. Maybe Yuuna's stalker knows more, she muses. She explains that Yuuna had a 'fan', a man who was probably in love with her and who regularly escorted her home after work. They jokingly called him her 'stalker', although he was quite a respectable man, a trainer at the Endrin military academy, called Janros Rainwater.

Endrin military academy is a whitewashed building that acts as barracks and training grounds for a small garrison of both Korvosan guards and Sable Company trainees. This place does not just only drill soldiers and teach them new tricks and tactical insight, it also serves as a breeding ground for good relations between the Guard and the Sable Company. The trainees act as liaisons between the two military forces, allowing for joint operations and continued mutual support. The academy's location within the old wall of Fort Korvosa, at the foot of Garrison Hill, provides a more serene scenery than the chaotic streets of Old Docks and the cramped alleys of Bridgefront. Although there are signs of plundering and destruction here as well, they are less frequent and there are no decaying bodies on the ground or thugs about.

Double doors bar the entrance to the academy. A note has been nailed in the wood: Academy closed - No entry. Balian knocks loudly. The only reaction is a dog that starts barking inside, but no one answers the call. Since this building is so close to Vencarlo's house, the companions want to pay the fencing master a visit first. Maybe he knows his colleagues in this training center, so he might facilitate their access.

Two blocks away stands Vencarlo's famed sword school, or at least, that is where it used to stand. The once-proud Orisini Academy is no more: the training facility has recently burnt to the ground. Fortunately, Vencarlo's living quarters still stand, nestled in the other corner of the compound. Puk's quick eyes pick up a line of smoke coming from the chimney, so the fencing expert is at home! When Balian knocks on the door, it clicks open from the impact of his blows. Why would Vencarlo leave his door unlocked? The companions draw their weapons and carefully enter the building. The ground floor is empty. If Vencarlo is still here, he is probably resting upstairs ... and if he isn't, the bedroom might just be the best place to find a trace. The stairs lead to a personal training room with a burning fireplace and two practice dummies in the far corners, to either side of the hearth. The exposed rafters give the room an open feel. There is one more door in here which can only lead to the bedroom. Puk's sixth sense warns him of a danger as two shadows drop down from the beams above. Their weird armor resembles the carapace of a scarlet insect and their blood-colored ant-like helmet completes the picture: Red Mantis assassins!

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The party decides to get into Old Korvosa by boat from the other bank of the Jeggare River. Trail's End, outside of the city walls, seems like the perfect spot to get across. Tayce Soldado, Brienne's mother and guard Grau's sister-in-law, lives there, so maybe she can help them find suitable transportation. The companions gather their gear and leave the villa. While making their way through Midland to the High Bridge, they suddenly see three scared Korvosans fleeing from something. Rounding the corner the companions come upon the source of this panic: seven Gray Maiden are locked in mortal combat with three Sable marines. The three black-clothed soldiers are obviously outmatched. Quint addresses the officer of the attacking force, questioning her violent actions and trying to get her to stand down by fascinating her, but he only succeeds in isolating her from the combat while her squad continues pressing the unfortunate members of the Sable Company. Balian's instincts tell him to interfere, but Quint cautions him: fighting the Gray Maidens will only result in outlawing the companions as well. So our friends watch with horror how the ironclad female warriors butcher the marines. The officer explains that Sable Company members have been declared 'public enemies'. These soldiers refused to surrender, so they were put to the blade. As the Gray Maidens march off, Sjo recognizes the dead marines from his days in the Sable company's stables. He feels torn, but has to agree with Quint that stepping in would have compromised their own mission. Quint also adds that killing Gray Maidens is not the solution, after all, these women are just following orders. Moreover, the companions cannot take on the complete force of Gray Maidens by themselves, as there are rumored to be 500 of them in the city and their numbers seem to increase every day. With a heavy heart the young friends continue their own quest.

Tayce is relieved to see Sjo: her daughter still hasn't recovered from the plague, so the healer digs up his wand of remove disease to cure the girl. In return Tayce convinces her neighbor Jarend to take the companions across the river. The skilled fisherman is glad to assist and drops the heroes on the easternmost quay of Old Korvosa, cleverly avoiding the Gray Maidens sloops that patrol the water.

Quint leads his friends straight to Eel's End. The 'entertainment center' is still running, although there are a lot less visitors than before. No surprise, since Old Korvosa is cut off from the rest of the city. Almost all patrons are sporting a strip of red cloth bound around their right arm. Quint quickly learns that they are the emperor's 'men', though the word thugs would suit them better. So Vencarlo's letter spoke true: Pilts Swastel, the crazy owner of obscene Exemplary Execrables theater, has become the self-proclaimed ruler of the quarantined district. Quint boards the House in the Clouds, the brothel where Yuuna works, and asks her boss about her. Madame Halvara claims that she hasn't seen the Vudran girl in five days. She recommends that the bard talks to Danarella, who is Yuuna's best friend. Perhaps she knows more. Sjo's ears already glow red as he thinks of the pretty redhead who helped him lose his virginity, but it looks like she is 'occupied' with one of the emperor's men for the moment. The Shoanti also picks up that the brothel's Madame does not seem overly pleased with Pilts Swastel's mob crowding her establishment. When he questions her about it, she whispers that the emperor's men act as if they own the place and pay only a fraction of the normal rates to get their kicks. But they are the only business Eel's End sees these days.

The companions figure that the emperor is probably the best source of information in Old Korvosa at the moment, so Quint uses fasinate and suggestion on one of his cronies. The ruffian, whose name is Patrick, agrees to take the party to see his boss. As he leads the way through the streets, his gang of thugs notice a drifter who is coughing badly and has trouble standing. Sjo immediately makes out that the stranger is suffering badly from the plague. "There's one of those filthy infected!" the thugs scream as they brandish their short swords and storm the unfortunate soul, quickly slashing him down without mercy. "That is the way we deal with the diseased in Old Korvosa", Patrick laughs. As they approach the former theater, the companions see that the playhouse has partially burnt to the ground, a theme that seems to run all over the island recently, just like the heaps of rotting cadavers in the streets. Several walls are covered in graffiti with slogans like "Gods bless the emperor", "Swastel is the man" or "Pilts to Power", and depictions of a bloody guillotine and heads flying about. Most houses in the area are boarded up tightly, others look abandoned with their front doors kicked in. Pilts Swastel's new 'palace' consists of a block of buildings that escaped destruction, right next to his erstwhile theater. Patrick knocks on the door of a small corner house and takes the companions past the guards up rickety stairs inside. Through a splintered hole in the wall he proceeds them over a rope bridge to a second building and then over another bridge to a huge open-air balcony clinging to the south side of a large tenement. The terrace is shielded from the elements by a brightly colored canvas roof that extends over the area like a dome, held in place by a wooden framework. The balcony itself contains two features of note. The first is a high backed chair that looks like a poor man's version of the Crimson Throne itself. Directly west of the throne stands an intimidating device, a tall guillotine of carved wood and bone, its blood-spattered base depicting grasping demonic feet and the housing that holds its glittering blade looks like a leering demonic face. Puk recognizes the apparatus as the Demon's Maw from Galt, one of Swalts' most prized possessions from his freak show museum. Flies hovering over a nearby basket leave no doubt to its content: severed heads.

Lazily relaxing in the throne's red cushions is a familiar figure. He looks even more hideous than he did when they met him three months ago. His eyes have fallen back in his skull, his pockmarked face indicates that he survived a bout with the plague, but not unscarred. He is dressed in a threadbare fur-trimmed crimson cloak and a cheap crooked crown, both pieces from his extensive collection of stage costumes and attributes. Pilts Swastel looks more like a vagrant king than actual royalty. His gaze betrays more than a touch of madness, but when he speaks the almost hypnotic pattern of his voice explains how he managed to gather the desperate and cruel to his banner. The toughest of the Old Dock thugs have made it to his personal bodyguards, guarding all corners of his throne. Staring from the hole in an executioner's mask is a sturdy gnome. Since the second eye-hole in the mask has been sewn shut, this can only be Swastel's tongueless, one-eyed sidekick, Jabbyr.

The emperor of Old Korvosa remembers the companions and welcomes them to his court. He saw them perform at the Marble Dome and was especially taken with their inspired alteration of the opera's final scene, with a genuine fight and real blood spattering the stage. When he inquires why the party has come to his island, Quint informs him that things on the mainland are getting out of hand. The bard recounts the story of what just happened in Castle Korvosa, using silent image and ventriloquism to depict the scene of queen Ileosa killing the commander of the Sable Company. Swastel loves it and already envisions a new play in which commander Endrin's sexual relationship with the queen ends in his death at her corpulent advisor's hands. There should definitely be room in it for a threesome with Sabina Merrin as well, he muses.

Next Quint changes the subject to Rolth, who is supposed to be hiding in Old Korvosa. He does his best to portray the necromancer as a great threat to the emperor's rule, but also admits that Rolth kidnapped some children who need rescuing. "So in fact you come to me seeking my assistance, hmm, let's see ..." Swastel sighs before mumbling the words of a detect magic. "I do like that belt you're wearing, young bard", he smiles at Quint. "It would make a handsome tribute to my person, as well as an acceptable payment for my services." The emperor makes his exorbitant demand with an air of self-evidence; emanating that he will not take 'no' for an answer. Being from a humble background, Quint has had to earn every one of his possessions through hard work and understands their value. He feels insulted and bellows at the emperor. Then things go fast: the emperor's bodyguards jump forward, stun Quint with a well-placed punch and grapple Balian. Sjo tries to freeze one of them with a hold person, but his magic is resisted. Balian struggles out of the brute's grasp, but the emperor whispers a charm monster and sways the ranger not to fight. "Just give me my prize and get to your knees, young bard. My court, my rules! Now don't be stupid!" Swastel grins at Quint. Puk realizes that complying with the emperor's wishes is the only tactic to get out of this mess alive, so he frees Quint' belt from the stunned bard's waist and throws it at Swastel's feet. The next moment one of the emperor's brawlers forces Quint on his knees and the fight is over. Pilts Swastel girds on the shiny belt and suddenly seems bored with his guests. "I'll see what I can do about this Rolth character. You are dismissed", he blurts out. Not wanting to overstay their welcome, the companions take their leave. A displeased Quint vows to himself this is not over yet.

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shadram wrote:
There was a miniatures game called Sails of Glory released a couple of years ago that has some nice pre-painted ship minis. There's a gallery on its BoardgameGeek page. The game's pretty fun, too! They're easy to find and buy online.

True, but these ship are mini-boats, so you can use them for chases, but not with miniatures on top of them, because they are way too small for that. The company also has nice battle mats which you can use for a sea terrain (the mats I use in my pictures are from Sails of Glory).

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If you're a bit of a crafter, you can convert Mega Bloks ships. They did some neat vessels in the past in their Pyrates line and they produced several boats from Pirates of the Carribean. They look pretty great, but like Lego they have these 'nubs', which are in the way of miniature gaming, so converting the ships is recommended. Of course, you could always use them as they are, they'd still be nice, I guess.

You can pick up the ships on the second-hand market on the internet. Be careful where you buy, because some sites offer these boats terribly overpriced. Still, I was able to pick up all the vessels I wanted at reasonable prices. It just takes some searching and patience. There are also several sites which offer tips and pictures on how to convert the pieces.

This is a link to my Deviantart page, where I've put up several photos of my conversions, like the Stormstalker with some pirates miniatures for scale. If you look through my gallery, you'll find other ships as well. I even have modular pieces (similar to Dwarven Forge) to construct the inside of a boat. They are a mixture of Psomminiature pieces (the barn set) and homebrew parts.

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In my campaign the Gray Maiden and Korvosan Guard soldiers who were securing the Hospice were oblivious to what was going on below the surface. The PCs bypassed them by making a whole in the roof in Dr. Davaulus' first floor office and then used the elevator to go directly to the underground temple. Since the guards were only on the ground floor, they didn't notice the PCs.

When the PCs came out of the temple, they used the ground floor and ran into the guards. The party bard scolded at the Gray Maidens for their ignorance at what was taking place in the cellar, leaving them dumbfounded (bluff check), so the PCs could simply walk out. This left the Gray Maidens to discover the temple for themselves.

The bard's satisfaction at his successful bluff disappeared the next day, when rumors in the city spoke of the Gray Maiden rooting out the treacherous temple of Urgathoa and taking care of the vile doctors. This provided the queen with public deniability, since it were 'her troops' who discovered the evil plot and killed the doctors.

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BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 7 (urban ranger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +11
AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 20
hp 76 (7 HD)
Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +4
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee greatsword +1 (two handed) +13/+8 ((two handed) 2d6+8/19-20)
Melee masterwork dagger +13/+8 (1d4+5/19-20)
Ranged masterwork longbow (composite/strength rating+4) +11/+6 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +7; CMB +12; CMD 27
Ranger Spells (CL 3rd):
1st (2/day) (DC 12) - lead blades, longstrider
Abilities Str 21, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 7
Special Qualities Favored Community Korvosa +2, Track +3, Trapfinding +3
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, Favored Defense (human +2 AC and CMD), Following Step, Power Attack (-2 atk, +4 dmg / +6 dmg on 2-handed), Step Up, Step Up and Strike
Skills Acrobatics +9, Climb +8, Disable Device +12, Heal +5, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (Geography) +2, Knowledge (Local) +8, Perception +11, Perform (Act) +3, Ride +6, Sense Motive +1, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +12, Survival +5, Survival (Follow or identify tracks) +7, Swim +8
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; masterwork dagger; masterwork longbow (Composite/Strength Rating+4)
Favored Community Korvosa (Ex) You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks. An urban ranger traveling through his favored community leaves no trail and cannot be tracked (although he may leave a trail if he so desires).
Favored Enemy (Human +4, Undead +2) (Ex) You gain a +4/+2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks when using these skills against humans/undead. Likewise, you get a +4/+2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against such creatures.
Trapfinding (Ex) At 3rd level, an urban ranger can find and disable traps, as the rogue class feature of the same name.
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.

SPYDER, dog companion level 7, N Medium animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8
AC 26, touch 14, flat-footed 22 (+3 Dex, +7 natural, +1 Dodge, +5 Armor)
hp 62 (7d8+28)
Fort +8, Ref +8 (evasion), Will +3 (+7 vs. enchantment and fear)
Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +12/+7 (1d6+4)
Abilities Str 19, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +7; CMB +11; CMD 24 (28 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +7 (+15 jump), Perception +8, Survival +6 (+10 scent tracking), Swim +10
Devotion +4 morale bonus on Will saves against enchantment spells and effects and fear
Possessions amulet of natural armor +1; studded leather barding +2


PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 7 (swashbuckler)
Init +5; Senses Perception +9
AC 24, touch 18, flat-footed 24, uncanny dodge
hp 58 (7 HD)
Fort +8, Ref +13 (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) +12 (1d4+2/19-20) and off-hand short sword +1 of shock (small) +11 (1d4+1+1d6/19-20)
Melee masterwork sap (small) +12 (1d4 non-lethal/x2)
Ranged shortbow (small) +10 (1d4/x3)
Ranged sling staff (halfling) (small) +10 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 19
Atk Options Sneak Attack +4d6
Abilities Str 10, Dex 21, 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 +17, Acrobatics (Jump) +13, Appraise +6, Bluff +7, Climb +8, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +13, Disguise +8, Escape Artist +12, Intimidate +4 (+0 vs. medium-sized), Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +3, Knowledge (Local) +5, Linguistics +4, Perception +9, Perform (Percussion Instruments) +6, Ride +5, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +12, Stealth +17, 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)

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.

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


QUINTILIAN (QUINT), CG Male Human bard 7 (court bard)
Init +2; Senses Perception +9
AC 21, touch 13, flat-footed 19, Combat Expertise
hp 58 (7 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +5, +4 vs. Bardic Performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee short sword +1 of frost +9 (1d6+3+1d6/19-20)
Melee longsword +8 (1d8+2/19-20)
Melee masterwork whip +9 (1d3+2)
Melee sap +8 (1d6+2)
Ranged shortbow +8 (1d6/x3)
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 21
Known Bard Spells (CL 7th):
3rd (2/day) (DC 16) - glibness, haste
2nd (4/day) (DC 15) - cacophonous call, gallant inspiration, heroism, mirror image, pyrotechnics
1st (5/day) (DC 14) - 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 , lullaby, mage hand, message, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic
Abilities Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 17
Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Lingering Performance, Skill Focus (Perform Comedy and Perform Oratory)
Skills Acrobatics +11, Appraise +6, Bluff +17, Climb +6, Diplomacy +19, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +11, Intimidate +16, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Knowledge (Geography) +6, Knowledge (History) +9, Knowledge (Local) +15, Knowledge (Local/Art & music) +16, Knowledge (Nature) +6, Knowledge (Nobility) +9, Linguistics +12, Perception +9, Perform (Act) +8, Perform (Comedy) +16, Perform (Dance) +7, Perform (Oratory) +16, Perform (Sing) +8, Perform (String Instruments) +7, Sense Motive +16, Sleight of Hand +7, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +5, Use Magic Device +13
Possessions short sword +1 of frost; chain shirt +1; buckler +1; longsword; masterwork whip; sap; wand of feather step; wand of cure light wounds; wand of mage armor; Shortbow; amulet of natural armor +1; Wand of magic missile (CL 3rd); Scrolls of levitate, gentle repose, false life, knock; Dust of appearance; ring of fire resistance (10); ring of protection +1; cloak of resistance +1; Belt of Physical Might (+2 Str/Con); [i]Key-Lock Killer's bell Bardic Performance You can use this ability for 19 rounds per day.
Versatile Performance (Comedy / Oratory) (Ex) You can use your bonus in the Perform (Comedy / Oratory) skill in place of your bonus in the Bluff or Intimidate / Diplomacy or Sense Motive skills.
Countersong (Su) You can counter magic effects that depend on sound.
Distraction (Su) You can use your performance to counter magic effects that depend on sight.
Fascinate (Su) You can use your performance to cause up to 2 creatures to become fascinated with you (Will save DC 15).
Heraldic Expertise (Ex) A court bard gains a bonus equal to half his bard level on Diplomacy, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nobility) checks. 2/day, the court bard can also reroll a check against one of these skills, though he must take the result of the second roll even if it is worse.
Satire (Su) A court bard can use performance to undermine the confidence of enemies who hear it, causing them to take a -1 penalty on attack and damage rolls (minimum 1) and a -1 penalty on saves against fear and charm effects as long as the bard continues performing. This penalty increases by -1 at 5th level and every six levels thereafter. Satire is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that uses audible components. This performance replaces inspire courage.
Mockery (Su) A court bard of 3rd level or higher can subtly ridicule and defame a specific individual. The bard selects one target who can hear his performance. That individual takes a -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.


SHAOBAN (SJO), LN Male Human oracle 7
Init +0; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Perception +2, Clouded Vision
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 24
hp 51 (7 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +9
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee cold iron mace +2 (heavy) +11 (1d8+5)
Base Atk +5; CMB +8 CMD 19
Known Oracle Spells (CL 7th):
3rd (4/day) (DC 17) - cure serious wounds, dispel magic, fireball, prayer
2nd (6/day) (DC 16) - cure moderate wounds, hold person, remove paralysis, resist energy, restoration (lesser), weapon of awe
1st (8/day) (DC 15) - burning hands, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, magic weapon, protection from chaos, remove fear, shield of faith
0th (at will) (DC 14) - create water, detect magic, purify food and drink, read magic, spark, stabilize
Abilities Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 19
Feats Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Combat Casting, Dazzling Display; Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace)
Skills Acrobatics -6, Bluff +8, Climb -3, Diplomacy +14, Heal +8, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (Local) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +8, Linguistics +0, Perform (Act) +9, Perform (sing) +9, Sense Motive +10, Sleight of Hand -1, Swim -3
Possessions cold iron mace +2 (heavy); ring of protection +1; full plate +1; amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +1, belt of giant strength +2, wand of cure light wounds, wand of remove disease; buckler

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

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