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Human on Flying Carpet

MrVergee's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 1,120 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Balian stands victorious over the contract devil’s corpse. Previously Chyvvom’s frame was draped with animated scrolls that, like their designer, have now stopped moving. Sjo tries to recover the lengthy documents, finding a great number of them totally illegible. Elvira suspects that these contracts have been fulfilled and their signers’ souls harvested. Eleven parchments can still be read, although only Elvira masters the infernal language in which they are written. The young mage takes a couple of hours trying to decipher which mortals signed these contracts. She’s content to find queen Ileosa among them, but she also finds deals struck by Headmaster Toff Ornelos, Dean Messida Vost of Conjuration, Dean Orianna Delmore of Necromancy, Dean Norva Alessain of Divination and – not surprisingly – Dean Elgin Togomor of Transmutation, the queen’s new seneschal and Elvira’s admirer. Two other names of note are the leader of the Korvosan Hellknights, Lictor Severs ‘Boneclaw’ DiVri, and the head of his magic-users, Paravicar Acillmar of the Order of the Nail. Of lesser note are Headmaster Toff’s grandson Akmelek Ornelos, the pesky noble the companions met a few times at a party, and Terentius, the mad wizard the party defeated earlier in Belzeragna’s library. One unknown name, someone called Marijkal, completes the list.

Realizing that time actually runs a lot faster in this dimension, Elvira suggests staying here a few more days to study some of the contracts in greater detail; after all, every day spent in here corresponds with only one hour in the heroes’ home plane. The girl finds a comfortable seat in the library and starts poring over Ileosa’s contract first. Meanwhile Sjo examines the pocket dimension in greater detail, finding nothing more of interest, except the many books that probably offer a treasure of knowledge he hasn’t discovered yet. The healer convinces Puk and Balian to aid him in going through the tomes, putting all the books that are written in common and might hold some interesting information, to the side. Balian also notices that the empty flasks he and his friends found upon entering this dimension are now filled with a swirling purple energy that matches the pulsating force of the closed portal.

Over the next ten days the party uncovers some vital information in all the writings. Ileosa apparently struck a very advantageous deal, binding no less than thirteen devils to her service, seven Erinyes sisters, three barbed devils, one vengeance and one horned devil, and finally a creature called a Bdellavritra. She also bonded with someone named Zanzinaria, inheriting her strengths and powers. The price for these boons is her immortal soul, unless she manages to send 5,000 innocent souls prematurely to their deaths in a horrible fashion within one year after signing the contract. The document also stipulates that Ileosa must lend her assistance to a mysterious entity, only identified by a long number, and that she has to prepare Korvosa as an open ground for infernal use. Elvira also sniffs out a hidden condition that states that Chyvvom can summon Ileosa once per year to have her perform a task for him. It turns out that by slaying the contract devil, the companions actually did the queen a favor!

Seneschal Togomor’s contract is much more basic, simply granting the transmuter three wishes. Finally, Elvira studies Norva Allesain’s contract more closely, figuring the party could use the Dean of Divination’s help in locating either Zellara’s disappeared ghost or the long-lost Sun Shaman’s remains underneath the city. El is pleasantly surprised to find out that Allesain bartered to become the Dean of Divination in the Acadamae before her thirtieth birthday, implying that Chyvvom’s end of the deal has already been fulfilled. Now only Allesain’s payment remains: her soul upon dying! Elvira imagines that the young Dean would be very interested in acquiring Chyvvom’s copy of the deal. After all, destroying both her and Chyvvom’s version of contract number 9485631,4655:9027,9836641 would free her from paying the price, while she already holds the reward she wanted. That promotion won’t just disappear when the contracts are destroyed, so yes, the party has the perfect bargaining chip to get the Diviner to help them!

In the meanwhile, Sjo, Puk and Balian try to make the most of the time available by doing research in the library. Being limited to works in the Common language, they manage to find a handful of useful tidbits about devils. Zanzinaria, the creature Ileosa bonded with, turns out to be some kind of Erinyes queen, while bdellavritra are very rare outsiders, also known as belier devils, who look like enormous slugs. One side of their body ends in a lamprey-like mouth filled with row upon row of teeth. The other end sports three grimacing humanoid heads that seem to be in incredible pain. The creatures specialize in possession, using hosts to further their cunning schemes and intricate plans, preferring to manipulate events from behind the scenes like puppet-masters. When Puk finally tires of leafing through tomes about devils, he starts reading adventure books instead and accidentally makes the biggest discovery of all: the true history of the cruel tyrant who was defeated by Sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame and his allies so many centuries ago.

More than 800 years ago, as the nation of Ustalav was recovering from the rule of the Whispering Tyrant, the threat of an invasion of orcs from the neighboring Hold of Belkzen was very real. For generations, the county of Tamrivena – known as Canterwall in modern Ustalav – held strong against the orcs, its standing army of rangers and the tactical genius of its leaders more than a match for the orc hordes. When command of Tamrivena fell to Count Andachi, it quickly became apparent that he had not inherited his father’s and grandfather’s gifts of tactics and eloquence. Mile by mile, the orcs pressed into Ustalav through Tamrivena, and Count Andachi grew desperate. Nothing he tried stemmed the orc aggression. His desperate requests to the government of Ustalav for reinforcements seemed mired in bureaucracy. Even his prayers to Desna seemed to fall upon deaf ears. And so it was with a desperation born of fear that he fell back upon his ancestors’ one-time patron—Zon-Kuthon, god of pain and darkness. And in short order, his prayers were answered in the form a powerful and gifted mercenary named Kazavon.

The new charismatic general took control of Tamrivena’s army and whipped it into shape with his brutal discipline and knowledge of tactics and warfare, honing it into a military killing machine. When they marched into Belkzen, the undisciplined savages fell in waves. Tales of Kazavon himself riding in the vanguard and hewing his way through the orc lines while the arrows and blades of his foes bounced harmlessly off of him filled Count Andachi with relief. By the spring of 4043 AR, the orcs had been driven from their lands into the inhospitable foothills of the Kodar mountains, bloodied and defeated.

His task complete, Kazavon did not return to Ustalav. Instead, he set his forces to the construction of Castle Scarwall, from which he could remain vigilant over the surrounding lowlands. Yet in short time, Kazavon’s true goals became horrifically clear. Diplomats from southern Lastwall traveled to Scarwall, bearing gifts of triumph and promises of eternal friendship. Their overtures of peace were met with violence as General Kazavon captured the diplomats, flayed them alive and had their skins stretched over frames; he painted these skins with his new coat-of-arms, the fanged skull. The skinless dead were then animated and sent back south into Lastwall beneath these grisly banners with a counter offer—fall under Kazavon’s heel or be butchered.

Some among Kazavon’s own troops found his actions repellent, but Kazavon’s army had grown over the years as his number of victories mounted. His ranks swelled with mercenaries—half of his force bore no allegiance to anything but their general’s gold. Those soldiers who rose in rebellion were immediately quelled and executed, and those who attempted more diplomatic protest were tortured and fed to wild beasts.

Aghast at this turn of events, Count Andachi at last found his courage. He raised a new army, ragged and inexperienced, from the last remnants of his people and marched west to face his former general. In a bold offensive he laid siege to Castle Scarwall. Yet, with the next dawn, he was defeated by Kazavon’s forces. Hapless Andachi was captured, publicly tortured and degraded, and ultimately executed. These grisly deeds completed, Kazavon turned his attention east toward Ustalav.

For well over a decade, Kazavon ruled a nation of slaves, victims, and horror. Tales of fields of men impaled for the general’s amusement, of mass executions, of Shoanti tribesmen hunted like wild animals and then forced to slay their own women and children in carnivals of torture and terror spread throughout the neighboring regions. Whispers of cannibal feasts and vampiric orgies trickled out of Castle Scarwall. More than once, the forces of goodly nations marched on Scarwall, yet such was Kazavon’s strength that no army could face him for long. To a man, every warrior sent against Scarwall suffered the same fate as Count Andachi.

Yet where armies failed, a small and secret cabal of heroes did not. Led by a heroic soldier named Mandraivus, this group of Lastwall mercenaries, Shoanti mystics, and Ustalavi arcanists tore through Scarwall, laying waste to the warlord’s minions and pursuing him to the castle heights. Finally Mandraivus and his remaining companions cornered Kazavon and slew the tyrant.

Mandraivus remained behind at Scarwall with only a few loyal retainers in order to watch over the castle itself and prevent it from being reclaimed by the minions of Zon-Kuthon. Unfortunately, the victory was short-lived. The orcs confined to the nearby mountains by Kazavon’s armies took note of the death of their enemy and rampaged forth across Belkzen once again. A portion of the horde attacked Castle Scarwall, which was defended only by Mandraivus’s small and inadequate force. The defenders were quickly overwhelmed, but as Mandraivus was slain, the curse of Scarwall took hold. The wholesale slaughter of first Kazavon’s armies and then Mandraivus and his soldiers had suffused the fortress. In an instant, the orc invaders found themselves facing a host of vengeful spirits and slavering undead. It is said that only one of the orcs survived to make it across the causeway from the castle, the flesh of his face blanched completely white from the horror he had barely escaped. He brought word to his people of the haunting of Castle Scarwall, and the tribal warlords declared the site forever taboo, leaving it to the bloodthirsty spirits who now claimed it as their own.

These annals provide the heroes with some much-needed background on the myths they learned from the Shoanti. It strikes them, though, that the records do not mention that Kazavon was a blue dragon whose remains resisted destruction after the fight. Clearly, Mandraivus made sure to strike these terrible facts from history in order to safeguard the secret of Kazavon’s relics.

After ten days of research the party decides to return home. Elvira casts an invisibility sphere. Next everyone quaffs his personally labeled vial of purple fluid, holds hands and steps through the portal. The companions appear in the Acadamae grounds, right behind the Hall of Wards. Elvira immediately follows up with a teleport spell, instantly transporting the group to Tenna’s Bed & Breakfast. The heroes figure it must be a bit over noon of the day after the night they left the city. If Tenna is surprised to see her guests ‘get up so late’, she does not show it. As ever she is the perfect hostess and prepares a lovely meal. During lunch Elvira composes a short missive to Dean Norva Allesain:

“Dear Dean

We’d like to meet with you since we require your aid. In exchange, we can offer you something that concerns the number 9485631,4655:9027,9836641. If you agree to this mutually beneficial rendezvous, please come to the old courthouse on the cliffs next to the temple of Asmodeus at 2 o’clock tonight. Please come alone.”

The companions discuss what they want to ask from the Dean of Divination when they meet her in 12 hours. They need her assistance in getting Zellara’s lost ghost back and locating Sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame’s bones, something her considerable power in divining can possibly provide. They also require funds to have Spyder resurrected. Sjo does not master such ‘raising’ magics, but he knows that Archbishop Keppira d’Bear of Pharasma does. The spell is expensive, though, as it consumes a diamond worth 10,000 gold sails. Since party funds are running low again, they might just as well ask Allesain for a generous contribution.

After the meal Elvira walks into the street, where she picks out a random young boy. She casts suggestion on him to deliver her letter to the Acadamae. When the boy returns 25 minutes later, she hands him a gold piece, happy to learn that he did his job well.

Despite Balian’s impatience to see Spyder returned to life, the companions decide to put off visiting the church of Pharasma until they have the necessary ingredient for the spell, the expensive diamond. Of course, Spyder’s corpse is not the only one in Balian’s bag of holding, Illia Ean, the Cerulean Society’s halfling rogue is in there as well. The party would like to return her remains to guildmaster Boule, fully aware that good relations with the thieves’ guild might come in handy in the future. They head to the Arkona Palace in Old Korvosa, where Lord Glorio receives them as friendly as always. The nobleman is charmed to meet Elvira Campert. When Sjo tells him that they recovered Ean’s little body and want to deliver it to guildmaster Boule, Arkona agrees to take the burden off their hands and rewards them with the item they need: a 10,000 GP diamond. The charming lord is also interested to learn about Chyvvom and Belzeragna and seems to appreciate the trust the party now places in him. Finally they are working towards the same goal: put a stop to Ileosa’s evil!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The companions immediately realize that the devourer and barbed devil have no desire to talk, so Puk races forward, trying to take the large undead by surprise. Unfortunately his stab misses the mark. Elvira gives her allies additional speed with a haste spell, which now allows Puk and Balian to tear into the creature, but the barbed devil joins the fray and throws an unholy blight over the heroes, dealing damage to everyone and sickening El. The tortured face of Illia Ean in the devourer’s chest screams out in silence, calling forth a huge earth elemental in one of the summoning circles in the room. The undead’s withered hand stretches out to Balian, trying to drain his life force, but the ranger bites off the brunt of the vile attack and sustains only minor damage. Just a second later the earth elemental slams into him, throwing the hapless ranger across the room with an awesome blow. Puk tumbles around the devourer and delivers some vicious cuts, leaving it to Balian to finish the job with his holy greatsword. Surely this weapon must be the best investment the party ever made! Meanwhile Elvira charms the barbed devil into believing she is his best friend. The hamatula aids the party in bringing down the elemental, but when El questions him after the fight, she quickly learns that her new ‘assistant’, Nagvix, won’t be of any help against the ‘master’ of this dimension, Chyvvom. Nagvix is bound to the contract devil with a might that undoubtedly supersedes a simple enchantment spell. The wizardess motions for her companions to take out her new pet, but despite the initial element of surprise, the fight is harder than expected. Each blow Puk or Balian try to deliver to the devil has his barbs cut them in return. When the devil tears into Puk next, he sends the halfling fleeing in fear. Balian is taken aback by the sudden desertion of his flanking buddy and misses his next attacks. Sjo steps in to take Puk’s place, but finds the hamatula too agile to hit. The enraged creature now encroaches on Balian and impales the ranger on his many deadly spikes. Elvira is stunned to see how her boisterous allies can’t even take out a charmed opponent, so she has to send it rolling on the floor laughing with hideous laughter to give Balian the opportunity to kill it.

It takes an entire wand of cure light wounds to nurse the party back to health. Ready to face the final test, the party walks up to the grand doors. Balian knocks politely before pushing the doors wide. The companions enter and find themselves standing on an elevated balcony that encircles a large round chamber. The dome that spans this rotunda bears the image of an aged, bearded human signing a contract held by a massive, flaming devil. The painted creature, that seems to almost glow as if burning and move as if alive, bears a passing resemblance to the towering, rust-skinned giant in the center of the room. A tangle of parchments hangs from the massive horns curving from his back and over his head. This is Chyvvom, the master of this demesne, in charge of ensnaring powerful souls from Korvosa.

Looking down on this regal creature, Sjo suddenly hears a charming voice echoing through his head: “Young Shaoban, noble scion of the strongest of Shoanti and Chelish blood, but treated by both of your ancestral races as a bastard, do you not dream of recognition? Do you not want to take your rightful place as a sun shaman of the Sklar-Quah, gaining the admiration of your people and the love of your mother? You have but to ask and we can make it so.”

Sjo is not dazed by the devil’s silver tongue. “I have gained all the respect I need among my people, thank you. I am already ‘nalharest’ and killing you and that devil-loving queen will wipe any trace of disrespect from the minds of both my father’s and my mother’s kin. I do not need your treacherous help to achieve what I can reach on my own. I am the master of my own fate!”

Puk also receives a telepathic offer: “Master Puk, I feel the hole in your heart, the guilt you try to hide from others and even yourself. Your sister, who fell to the badly-dosed drugs you bought from Gaedran Lamm, has not found her peace yet. Her lost soul wanders about aimlessly in Pharasma’s Boneyard. You can save her; all you have to do is ask me.”

Puk shakes his head in rejection. “I have made my peace with my past and I have taken my revenge on my tormentor. My faults are my own, but I have shaken off my nasty habits and atoned for my sins. My sister made her own mistakes and she will have to own up to them herself before she can find her peace. I cannot do that for her, but she has an eternity to figure it out before Pharasma sends her soul to whatever afterlife she deserves. It is not my place to interfere, nor is it yours, devil!”

Elvira hears the pleading voice in her head as well: “Young and fair maiden, still so inexperienced in the ways of the world. Would you not like to find your true place in this universe? I can give you all the knowledge you crave, the power you deserve or the stamina you lack if you want to continue hanging round with this reckless bunch. Whatever path you want to carve out, I can get you there in a heartbeat. All you have to do is sign your name.”

Elvira shrugs: “Why would I give up on the fun of fulfilling my own mortal destiny and condemn my eternal soul in the process? You have nothing to offer me, fiend, because my desires are few and well within my own reach.”

Naturally Balian receives an offer as well: “Eternal damnation … that is the fate of your sister’s soul. Everlasting suffering in the pits of Hell. I have made some good contacts there over the last few millennia. I could call in a favor and have her soul be free to attain any paradise Alika would have ended up in if her innocence had never been corrupted. I can help you keep your duty towards your helpless little sister. All you have to do is ask, and we can make a deal.”

Balian bites off the devil’s deceitful words: “You fool! It was my hand that condemned Alika to Hell. Her soul was corrupted beyond any hope of salvation. I did my duty, all right, by saving our world from all the horror she could still have inflicted upon it.”

Now Sjo takes the initiative. “You know why we are here, devil. Just cut the crap and tell us if there is any way for us to read Ileosa’s contract or buy it from you.”

“My price is well known, I would suspect”, Chyvvom replies. “To read this contract, even the lightest soul among the four of you would suffice. Selling off a contract is not something that I normally do, though, but if you insist, I’m sure that we could come to some kind of agreement in exchange for all your souls.”

Sjo scoffs at Chyvvom’s offer. “So there is nothing else we can pay you with? I have a book here that will make you even more charismatic. It is very valuable. I’d rather hang on to my soul.”

Now it is Chyvvom’s turn to laugh: “A soul is priceless, this book you have pales in comparison. No, unless you have something truly invaluable to offer in exchange, I’m afraid souls have to be our currency. Still, it doesn’t have to be your soul. You can give me your soul as a down payment, but I might be open to having you switch it out for another’s soul later on, perhaps that lovely girl of yours, Larella Semyr …”

“I see these negotiations are getting us nowhere”, Sjo grumbles. “I suggest we let our weapons do the talking!”

“So be it, ignorant human. I’ll just add you to the long list of insignificant fools who thought they could best me in combat” Chyvvom sighs, before activating a quickened shield of faith and summoning a bone devil. This horrifying fiend immediately takes to the air and turns invisible, but El’s permanent see invisibility and Sjo’s blindsense still perceive the husk-like creature with dried skin stretched across its skeletal frame. El steps back and casts haste on the defensive, careful to avoid the bone devil’s deadly stinger. Sjo follows up with a purge invisibility spell, giving Puk and Balian the opportunity to attack. Balian hits home twice, but Puk finds his little blades unable to get through the fiend’s tough skin without the advantage of sneak. Sjo wonders out loud if the monster can be hurt by fire, but El shouts out that it is immune!

“Indeed, it is!” Chyvvom laughs, as he conjures up a gigantic explosion over the heroes and his summoned servant. Elvira takes the full hit of the fireball and can barely keep herself standing. The bone devil recognizes her fragility and hits her with his claws, leaving her staggered, on the edge of death. Sjo saves her by casting mass cure light wounds, and motions her to the corner, to seek refuge. Puk crosses the balcony to the far end of the chamber, where Chyvvom is waiting, while Balian displays the awesome power of his holy greatsword to dispatch of the bone devil.

The halfling and ranger now flank the red-skinned devil, delivering cut upon cut, but the monster just keeps on fighting, no matter how many wounds he is bleeding from. Sjo and Elvira try to assist with spells, but find it almost impossible to make their magic succeed. Sjo’s green rays miss thrice in a row, wasting three castings of his dimensional anchor. El’s [i[hold monster[/i] and hideous laughter fail as well, and only the sparkling outline of her glitterdust takes hold. Meanwhile Chyvvom focuses his attacks on Balian, goring away at the ranger with his horns and trying to slam him with his contracts. When the powerful outsider finally seems to be wearing down, he impales Balian on one of his horns and teleports away to the other end of the pocket dimension, the entrance room. While Chyvvom knocks Balian unconscious, the other three heroes races through the demiplane to save their friend. Sjo is the first to arrive and gets hit by three scorching rays. He resists most of the burning damage of the first two flaming rays, but the third one burns him good. The badly-wounded healer now has a choice to make: does he heal himself or does he get Balian back on his feet? Realizing that Balian’s greatsword offers the best chance to hurt Chyvvom, Sjo opts for the second choice and brings Balian back to consciousness. Puk picks up Balian’s blade and holds it out to the ranger, hilt first. The ranger rises, grabs his sword and jumps on the contract devil. Driven forward by the hatred of a thousand condemned souls, Balian plunges his weapon through Chyvvom’s chest. With a look of utter disbelief in his extinguishing eyes, the devil slumps against the back wall. With his dying breath he tries to utter some final words, but Balian does not give him the pleasure. Twisting his blade in the wound, the ranger ends the fabled devil’s existence. “No more evil for you, fiend!”

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There is a link to some Sorshen stats in this thread. It does not include mythic rules yet, though.

If you ever work out a Sorshen scenario, I'd like to hear about it. I'm considering something similar myself.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you like the idea of 0-level characters, you can check my journal for some ideas. I had the PCs start off as lambs, giving them a reason to really hate the old guy ...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Guide to Korvosa is a great sourcebook indeed. I highly recommend it.

If you want to use the old cityhall, there is no map of the building available, so you could take a look at my version of it. The old cityhall was built for height (some sort of watch tower with an alarm bell at the top) and not for practicality. Eventually the people working there got tired of doing endless sets of stairs to get to their offices and Korvosa constructed a new, more practical city hall in North Point.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Again Balian listens at the iron door of the arrival chamber in the Hellish dimension. He still hears nothing and slowly opens it to find a corridor running off to the left with five more doors. The ranger checks the first one, then pushes it open. It leads to a small macabre office. Bones from dozens of creatures rest in neat piles on the desks, with the skulls sitting atop the rest of the skeletal remains. Hollow eyes stare from the sockets of mostly human heads, although the party recognizes other humanoid races as well, like halflings and gnomes. The desk at the back lies toppled over, the bones scattered over the floor. Elvira takes a look at some of the books on the shelves, but they crumble beneath her fingers when she leafs through them. Sjo is more interested in the skeletons, but when he disturbs a pile, he sends it crashing to the ground. On the largest of the bones he finds tiny writing scrawled over its surface. It reads:

“This is no Hall of Wards
But a Hell of Discords
No Breaching Festival
Just pure, pure evil
If you can, run, flee!
Lest you die with me.”

Startled by this ominous warning, Elvira wonders if they could even get out of here if they wanted to. She picks up a small bone and returns to the arrival chamber, where the purple portal still swirls against the wall. When she tries to throw the bone through, it simply bounces off. Just what she thought, the way back is closed! The only way left is forward.

The party moves to the second door on the right. It opens up into a torture chamber which reeks heavily of death. Chained to the far wall is a tiny figure, a female halfling. The gray color of her skin and the morbid smell leave no doubt as to her condition: she is one of the walking dead, but she moves with incredible speed. The chains seems to glide through her hands as she steps forward and swings her shackles at Balian, smacking him hard in the head. From her dry lips comes a wailing whisper: “Freeee meeee.” Remembering guildmaster Boule’s information, Elvira figures out that this is Illia Ean, the last member of the thieves’ guild to enter in the Breaching festival over a year ago. Balian takes a couple of swings at the fast zombie, but she is very nimble and he connects only once. Puk tumbles past her into a flanking position, but quickly discovers that she is too experienced in roguish combat to be hampered by this unfavorable arrangement. Her skill in sly and strategic combat becomes even more clear when she continues her attacks on Balian, first feinting him before pummeling him with terrible sneak damage. Her chains swirl around the ranger’s body and smash into his kidneys, causing massive internal bleeding. Sjo has to step up to heal his friend and Elvira, realizing that her mind-affecting spells are useless against undead, throws haste over her allies. Puk manages a few minor nicks, but Balian, dazed by this creature’s velocity, has trouble hitting home. Only one of his next series of attacks succeeds. The chained halfling presses the advantage, her shackles gravely hurt the ranger twice more, leaving him staggering on the edge of defeat. Sjo has to resort to extreme measures; he pulls out his scroll of heal to keep Balian in the fight. Enraged and empowered by the curing energy flowing through his veins, Balian growls and bears down on his tiny opponent. His greatsword sinks into her mithral chain shirt, pushing it deep into her undead skin, which spits through the links like meat in a meat grinder. Fortune now favors the party, as the undead rogue misses her final attacks before Puk and Balian strike her down.

Elvira’s detect magic reveals that the mithral chain shirt is magical and holds an enchantment that allows the wearer to increase his speed three times a day. Puk cleans it up and dons it. Elvira respectfully puts Illia’s corpse in her bag of holding, hoping to return it to the Cerulean Society later.

The next room the party explores is a library. Balian silently pushes the door wide and peeks inside. He sees a robed man with graying hair, who is standing in front of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The shelves are a mass of pages and volumes, which seems to flutter with life, flying around the chamber and rearranging themselves constantly. The man frantically flips through a heavy tome, curses and throws it on the ground. It immediately flies back up to one of the shelves. “No, that’s not it. Where is it? Where the hell is it?” the man mutters. The companions now step into the room and Elvira eyes the mad man closely. He looks a lot like Terentius, a conjuration wizard who graduated over a years ago from the Acadamae and competed in the last Breaching Festival. The only thing is, he has aged a lot, at least three decades. The ‘old’ wizard is solely focused on the thousands of bound volumes in front of him, though, and hasn’t even noticed the party come in. Elvira calls out to him: “Terentius, it is me, Elvira, from the Acadamae … Are you okay?”

“You … who … hmm, have you seen it? Do you know where it is?” he sighs.

‘What do you mean?”

“My book, of course. My spellbook. Where is my spellbook?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know. But are you alright? Do you remember me? I’m Elvira Campert, we were at school together.”

Picking up another book from the table and going through its pages, the mad wizard rants on: “No, that’s not it either. What do you mean, Elvira? You’re too young to be her, it’s been … well, so long … I can’t really say, but it’s been … many years. You look like you haven’t aged a day. Unless … of course, it’s YOU again, you fiend! Come to mock me some more, have you? Give me my book, I tell you!”

Elvira does her best to talk some sense into the crazed mage, but when a book flies over his head, he tries to grab it. He misses by an inch and then sets off in pursuit to the shelve where it lands. “There it is! I found it! Wait, what …? No, that’s not it at all. Asmodeus’ damnation take you all!”

“Terentius?” Elvira tries again.

“Huh, what, who are you?” As the mage resumes the conversation, he seems to have forgotten ever talking to these visitors. “Do you know where my book is? You do, don’t you? Give it to me, it’s mine!”

The man is obviously lost in his own madness. When Sjo finally suggests helping him by setting the place aflame, he reacts furiously and opens combats. A chain of lightning tears from his fingers and fries Sjo, Balian and Elvira. Since El is in the worst shape, Sjo patches her up with his magic first. The enchantress attempts a spell of her own, hideous laughter, but discovers that Terentius possesses some kind of spell resistance that proves too hard to be penetrated. Balian and Puk now close in on him and narrowly prevent him from casting an even more powerful spell. In hand-to-hand combat with two heavy-hitters the wizard stands no chance and his corpse graces the floor tiles only a few moments later. The party finds some magic items on him, as well as an infernal contract. Scanning the lengthy document quickly, Elvira sees it was signed by a devil called Chyvvom (instead of Chyvrom, as Sjo remembered it). There is something in there about “returning to Golarion”.

The last room to the right turns out to be a laboratory. Its sole occupant is a rather attractive white-skinned female with two long tentacles hanging down from the crown of her head. Her lower body blooms in a gown of writhing tendrils. Elvira knows this creature as a handmaiden devil. Balian wastes no time talking and charges forward to attack, but the devil woman is faster and summons three Erinyes devils to aid her in combat. Elvira wants to freeze the handmaiden in place with a hold person, but cannot overcome her spell resistance. Puk flanks one of the Erinyes and chops her down in a couple of seconds. His effectiveness is halted, however, when the handmaiden devil calls a mass of black tentacles into being that grapple him and his friends, locking them into place and slowly crushing their bones. Sjo and Elvira suddenly discover that these grasping tendrils make it almost impossible for them to cast spells. All the enchantress can do, is activate her aura of despair, while the two remaining Erinyes – who are also caught in the tentacles - now target the companions with their longswords. Sjo tries to hit one of them with his mace, but misses, finding his movement severely hampered by the entwining ebony limbs. Balian is the only one who manages to escape the wrestling feelers and slashes his way past a second Erinyes. The ranger breaks out of the writhing area and confronts the Handmaiden, but she is stronger than he thought. She hits him with her claws and swallows him up in the tendrils below her waist, confining him in a living cage. While Sjo and Elvira suffer several attacks from the last Erinyes, Puk finds his way out of the black tentacles, but without Balian to provide sneak opportunities, his attacks are puny against the devil’s hide. Sjo’s health is in steady decline, so he drops the shield other he cast on Balian earlier, to preserve his own life. His attempt to cast a powerful cure spell fails because of the grappling arms. His lot is slowly turning dire, so he decides to dig up a potion of cure serious wounds to hold out longer. Balian cannot free himself from the tendril cage and pulls out his dagger to cut the limbs from the inside, while Puk nicks them from the other end. The halfling is clawed in return, but a powerful cut from Balian opens up enough of the cage to squeeze out. Switching to his greatsword once more, the ranger now makes short work of the handmaiden. As her body hits the table and crashes into the vials of acid, the black tentacles and the summoned Erinyes suddenly disappear. Elvira spots no magic in this room, but she does find one interesting item on the shelves between the alchemy manuals: it’s Terentius’ missing spellbook!

The party heals up and makes for the door at the end of the corridor. Balian detects two voices arguing on the other side, but he does not comprehend the guttural language they utter. Elvira gives it a shot as well and has no trouble understanding the infernal tongue. Still, it is hard to pick up anything through the thick door, so she can only make out something about “torture” and “a contract”. Balian kicks the door open. The high-ceilinged chamber is modeled after the Acadamae’s summoning duel arenas. A pair of stairways flank the door and lead up to a balcony that encloses the room. Two summoning circles dominate the central floor, on which an agitated creature stands, locked in a heated argument with a barbed devil on the grand stairs at the far side of the arena. The large figure in the middle of the room is a devourer, an outerplanar undead who has the power to suck up souls and use their energy to bolster his own powers. This dry corpselike hulk’s chest is a prison of jagged ribs, within which a small tormented ghostly form struggles to get out. Elvira recognizes the unfortunate Illia Ean, the halfling rogue, in its facial features. The devourer’s mouth cracks into a horrifying smile: “Well, is it that time again? Travelers, I see, welcome in Belzeragna … welcome to your doom.”

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After having completed the challenge in the Hall of Lies, the party gets ready to tackle a second trial in the Hall of Charms. Elvira peeks outside and waits for the central patrol to pass, before leading her friends to the place of study where she spent most of the last decade. The building that houses the school of enchantment is the most beautiful on campus, looking like a grand palace of white marble and gold in true Garundi style. Puk and Balian have little trouble bypassing the magical lock and the companions can witness firsthand that the outside splendor of this edifice continues on the inside. Sculptures in rich materials and wonderful shapes fill every corner, often depicting attractive semi-nude young men and women in alluring poses. Similar topics adorn paintings, that seem to ooze charisma.

Elvira’s familiarity with this building facilitates the search and within a few minutes the party locates the key-light in a large auditorium. It floats jitterily at 12 feet above the floor. From the moment the companions enter, it shoot into action and flits through the room. Sjo summons his fiery wings and chases it down at great speed. As the light darts into the corner, the soaring Shoanti grabs it with great efficiency, but his momentum makes it impossible to avoid a collision with the wall. At the last moment he swirls around, taking the brunt of the crash with his shoulder instead of his head. As he puts his hand around the key-light, a wave of magic emanates from it, blowing over everyone in the room. The adventurers feel enchanting tendrils trying to take over their minds, but they all bite off the manipulation through mere willpower. As Sjo stumbles to his feet, he has the second key in his hands. So, that was it? That was easy, especially in comparison to the previous ordeal in the Hall of Lies. Well, so much the better, two down, one to go!

The party’s third destination is the Hall of Seeing, which is at the other end of campus. To avoid being spotted, the adventures cloak themselves in silence and invisibility. A big, glass dome tops the department of divination, filled with whirling wisps of mist. Upon careful examination the heroes can make out vague shapes of people and places in the smoke, making the half sphere looks almost like an immense scrying ball. The main entrance is on the front and borders the high western wall of the compound, on top of which two tieflings stand watch. The double doors look like two giant Harrow cards, that change their image as soon as Balian and Puk touch them, one taking on the appearance of the Big Sky and the other the Juggler, reflecting the personality of the two who handled them. Elvira tries as well, making the left door shift into the Wanderer. As Balian goes to work on the lock, the enchantress notices that the tieflings on the wall have remarked the changing images on the doors. The party, still clouded in invisibility, retreats to the back of the building, while the lookouts on the wall alert the central patrol to check out the anomaly. As the tieflings snoop around the hall’s entrance, one lays his hand on the right door, making it change into the Avalanche card’s image. Two of the four security guards make their way around the building and close in on the hidden party. Using his cloak of the Pixie King Puk dimension doors his friends away, but he is unable to take Spyder along, since his teleporting capacity is limited to only four creatures. The half-devils now see the dog and start firing arrows at the animal. Spyder tries to hide, but with his opponents’ eyes firmly fixed on him, that turns out to be impossible, so he explodes into a sprint instead, trying the hug the wall and make his way around campus in an effort to shake his pursuers. As the security detail chases off after the canine, completely distracted, the heroes see their chance to sneak back and slip into the building, making sure that only Elvira touches the door that still displays her true Harrow card. She leads the others straight into the central chamber under the dome, where the key-light is supposedly ever-present. And indeed, just below the clouds in the dome a white light dances in the air. As she reaches for the brilliant ball, a mask pulls out of the mist. One half is white, the other black. It represents the god Nethys, the all-seeing eye. The empty eye-sockets flash with blue electricity and a whispering voice emanates from the floating face cover:

“Eodred Arabasti witnessed two individuals climb through his window. What ensued, was a true scandal. The two men grabbed the golden goblets and candlesticks from the table and put them in a big bag. From the chest they stole jewelry and they snatched the paintings from the walls. When they had gathered all the loot, the two thieves climbed out of the window again and disappeared into the night. Eodred blinked his eyes once more and continued what he was doing before the burglars entered his room. Why didn’t Eodred do anything, while he was wide awake, perfectly healthy and in control of all his bodily functions? You can ask only yes- or no-questions and you have until the hourglass is empty.”

At that exact moment an hourglass appears in the air next to the mask. The sand of time starts slipping down. The companions formulate a series of questions:

“Was Eodred in his bedroom?”


“Did he know the thieves?”


“Was Eodred under the influence of magic?”


“Could Eodred see the burglars stealing his stuff?”


“Had he made a deal with someone to steal from him?”


“Did he think he was doing charity?”


“Was Eodred scared?”


“Did the thieves threaten him?”


“Was there a magic wall between Eodred and the burglars?”


The questions continue for eight minutes, but the companions do not get closer to the answer and cannot figure out the riddle. Finally the last grain of sand slips down and time is up. With a bright flash of light the mask, hourglass and key-light blaze out of existence. The adventurers blink their eyes to recover their sight. The blobs of white that temporarily cloud their vision, form into the riddle’s answer. In their mind’s eye they see baby Eodred lying in his cradle, smiling before he slips back to sleep.

Elvira realizes that the key-light is gone and won’t reappear for another hour, so she herds the others back to the front doors. Again making sure that only she touches the door that is still attuned to her Harrow card, Elvira opens it ever so slightly and peeks out. It looks like the guards are still distracted, so the coast is clear to move to the Hall of Induction, home to the school of evocation. Solid stone walls clad with dark-iron plating form an imposing, but plain square building, which Acadamae students refer to as the Cube. The heavy iron doors prove no challenge for Balian and Puk’s skills at lockpicking, and a few moments later the heroes find themselves in the wide, empty ground floor of this hall. A plain spiral staircase leads up to the next floors. With all open floors, it is not hard to locate the key-light, which hangs on the fourth floor. Elvira explains that the two top levels of the Cube are open in design as well, although they are actually divided into smaller rooms with invisible walls. The fourth floor houses a number a laboratories, one of which holds a strange contraption that contains the key-light. Two vats of bubbling liquid, one green and one purple, are connected by a spiral glass tube. The key-light burns in the middle of this tube, actually separating the acrid fluids. This apparatus is clearly alchemical in nature, but it also radiates strong evocation magic. There is no way to get to the key but shatter the glass.

Balian and Puk pull out their thieves’ tools and go to work on the tube with extreme caution. They manage to saw through the glass where it connects to the vats, using empty flasks to collect the chemicals that spill from the now free tube. As they back out of the room, the vats themselves continue bubbling and start spilling their contents on the table and the floor. Two puddles form on the ground and slowly creep towards each other. Handing the empty glass tube that still holds the key-light to Elvira, Balian summons a wind wall between the growing puddles, but his forceful barrier of air also hits the table with the vats. The vats are flung in the air, green and purple droplets spatter around. When two of them connect, they set of a mini-combustion, that immediately chain-reacts into a major explosion. Fortunately the heroes are not in the room anymore, so they only feel an immense displacement of air as an elemental storm of fire, acid and electricity tears through the lab. The dust settles, but the air continues moving with gusts of wind. Behind them the companions now see a greater air elemental draw closer. Elvira would rather avoid a confrontation with this tremendous guardian and pulls in her companions to dimension door everyone to the ground floor again.

Opening the front door and peering out, she picks up a worrying scene. The patrol that normally walks around the Hall of Summoning is now standing in front of that humongous building, in the center of the campus grounds. They have even gained the company of two more tieflings and a pair of winged stone monsters, garipans! Elvira fixes her gaze and sees that the guards surround a lifeless lump on the ground, the corpse of a black dog. Spyder did not make it! Afraid of Balian’s reaction, the wizardess chooses not to inform the ranger of his animal’s demise yet. Instead she tells her friends that they’ll need to act quickly and quietly. She reactivates an invisibility sphere spell through her bonded item and casts it on the party, telling Sjo to cloud them in another silence as well. Then she opens the doors and hurries the adventurers along across the square to the Hall of Wards. She hopes Balian will not pick up the horrible scene, but the ranger’s senses are too sharp to miss his faithful hound’s dead corpse. Without giving it a second thought, Balian draws his greatsword and storms at the killers, screaming out his lungs in anger. Puk follows, as does Sjo, albeit reluctantly. The healer gets shot by one of the tieflings, who seems very skilled at firing his longbow. Balian takes three hits from another archer, but Sjo’s shield other immediately mitigates half of the damage to the half-Shoanti. The four other tieflings draw their swords and shields and get into position to ward off the assailants, which is what they would have done if Elvira’s confusion hadn’t messed up their tactics. The two garipans and three of the tieflings are affected by her mind-mingling magic and are suddenly useless in combat. Instead of fighting the companions, they start hitting each other, and Elvira warns her friends to let them do so, since confused creature prefer to target whoever attacked them last. The few tieflings who are still of a clear mind, shoot arrows at Balian or Sjo, demonstrating a peculiar capacity to hurt humans. Sjo is forced to heal himself for the moment, Elvira casts haste on the party, turning Balian and Puk into even more deadly killing machines. Helped by hold person and hold monster the two melee adventurers have no trouble cutting down the opposition. When only confused adversaries are left, the companions leave them to slaughter each other and retrieve Spyder’s body. Then they make their retreat to the entrance of the Hall of Wards, the goal of their raid.

Elvira pulls out the three key-lights and immediately the front doors swing open ominously, revealing a wall of pure darkness. The heroes step into the void and fall into blackness for what seems like only a moment. Then their senses are restored. They find themselves in a small room, with little indication of where they really are. Elvira focuses her senses and sighs: “I think we are in Hell.”

A whirling purple portal hangs from the back wall and lights a small, stone room. A small, round table is full of empty, stoppered crystal vials with peeling faded labels. Behind the table a heavy iron door looms; a man’s bony remains lie on the ground underneath. Elvira examines the vials and after careful inspection can make out four names on the labels: Balian, Puk, Shaoban and Elvira. The mangled skeleton is clad in tattered wizard’s robes. Sewn in the seam El discovers a scroll, which she later identifies as a scroll of break enchantment. In his pocket there is a fading document, obviously an infernal contract. Using her librarian’s skills, El tries to decipher the parchment. She can deduce that it was signed by Gandrax, a student who graduated from the Acadamae two years ago who never came back from the Breaching Festival, and a devil whose almost illegible name could possibly spell out ‘Chyvrom’, the name that Sjo remembered from Rolth’s contract. El can figure out that Gandrax signed a deal for more power in exchange for one mortal’s soul for the duration of 101 years. Going through the rest of the document, the enchantress gleans that its complicated wording shrouded that fact that it really concerned Gandrax’s own soul and that his ‘servitude’ in Hell was meant to last an eternity.

Balian listens at the door. When he hears nothing, he knocks, but there is no answer. Since they are already seriously drained of their magic, Elvira and Sjo suggest resting up before continuing in this Hellish dimension. Nothing disturbs their sleep and about ten hours later, the party stands ready again for what is to come.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tels wrote:

Killing that tiefling guard doesn't sit well with me. I mean, he didn't do anything wrong, nor was he working for an "evil" organization or anything. Unless there is some justification I don't know about, beyond discovery, they just murdered him.

Did this point come up at all in the group? Unlike many of the groups they've gone against, these guys haven't done anything wrong.

The current line of quests has steered the party towards a Machivellian mindset of 'the goal justifies the means'. Secrecy is of the essence and it is not an option to be discovered in the Acadamae, so the PCs killed the guard without hesitation. I can certainly understand that such an act does not sit well with you, but under the circumtances, the players didn't give it much thought.

You should know that the party undertook quite a few efforts previously to 'save' innocent lives who were just working for the 'wrong side'. This has backfired more than done them well, so now the characters feel forced by circumstances to do what seems necessary. They are facing an enormous challenge which does not forgive failure. Their attitude towards kindness and good has evolved with these challenges.

PS: The players are well aware that the Acadamae has a strong inclination towards evil. The fact that it openly supports the queen is a clear sign of this evil(headmaster Toff Ornelos has openly sided with the queen, Dean Togomor acts as her advisor (an possibly even manipulator), the Acadamae has given Ileosa the opportunity to expand her evil powers and given her access to devils who were heavily involved in the massacre of young girls to create bloodclones). The tiefling guards are not necessarily involved in this evil, but they haven't been selected for their kinds hearts either, so they definitely do not fall in the category of innocent bystanders.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The companions spend a few hours preparing the net trap in the old courthouse. They want to lure the imps into the hallway that leads to the cell block and lock them in. The net will serve to cut off their advance, while Puk will hide behind the entrance door and close it behind the critters once they’ve flown in. During their work our friends also discuss which halls in the Acadamae they want to tackle tonight. They finally decide on the Hall of Lies (illusion), the House of Charm (enchantment) and the Hall of Seeing (divination), keeping the Hall of Induction (Evocation) as a back-up.

In the evening Sjo receives another sending from Thousand Bones. The old Shoanti shaman transmits that preparations are going as planned and the army will leave in one week. Sjo replies that they have made no progress, the chances of finding the grave look slim, but they are taking different measures.

30 Arodus 4708

At about 1.30 a.m. the party leaves for the Dock Trade. Puk and Balian have grown quite skilled at avoiding Gray Maiden patrols and guide their friends through the streets without any hindrance. The warehouse doors to the Dock Trade have been secured with a heavy chain and lock, giving Balian a shot at trying out his newly purchased masterwork thieves’ tools. A few moments later the chain drops on the ground and the companions slip into the dark building. Elvira summons some dancing lights to help the others see and to herald their arrival to the pseudodragon colony. Maya, the alpha female, flies up and Elvira carefully explains what the plans are and how the trap works. She also assures the tiny winged creature that there will be a reward waiting for her kind at the end of the trail: a veritable feast of butter, cheese and fish.

The party hurries to the old courthouse and gets into position. Puk hides behind the door leading into the trapped hallway, while his friends wait at the other end. Ten minutes later he hears the fluttering of many wings, announcing the flock’s arrival. A swarm of pseudodragons swoops in, headed by Maya, and flies straight into the cell block corridor. Over thirty imps are hot on their heels, but Balian judges the moment perfectly and drops the net exactly behind the last pseudodragon. The surprised imps hit the net hard and the force of their impact threatens to tear through the rope. Balian sets his back-up plan in motion and casts a wind wall right behind the failing net to halt the small devils’ approach. In the meantime Puk springs into action and shuts the door behind the swarm. He sees that three of the evil critters have not entered the corridor yet and draws his weapons to take them out swiftly. He gets stung twice, but resists the stingers' poison, and deftly finishes the stragglers off. On the other end of the hallway Elvira pulls out her first scroll of lightning bolt and fires it down the corridor. One bright flash of whitish blue light suffices to take every single imp out. Their blackened bodies litter the floor and give off an awful smell of burned flesh. Balian laughs away Elvira’s suggestion of clearing the cadavers out of the hallway and heads to the old torture room, where the pseudodragons’ reward is scattered over the floor. The tiny dragons are ecstatic at their eternal rivals’ demise and ravenously attack the food, eating it all in mere minutes.

Elvira asks Maya if she knows how many of the imps they managed to lure away. The alpha thinks they got most, but some will definitely have stayed behind. When Elvira implores the pseudodragons to finish the job, they happily oblige and return to the Acadamae to attack the last few imps, who are now totally overwhelmed by their nemeses’s numbers. While this aerial combat is in full swing, distracting the other guards, Elvira teleports the party inside the Acadamae walls, to a dark corner at the back of the Hall of Charm, the building that she knows best. Puk sneaks away to check if the way to the Hall of Lies is clear, but his swirling cloak catches some of the light beyond the shadows and draws the attention of a lone tiefling guard on the nearby wall. The horned man draws an arrow and shouts out: “Who goes there, show yourself!” Elvira reacts by casting hypnotic pattern on the archer, temporarily fascinating him with some shifting colors weaving through the air. Balian shoots two arrows in the guard, breaking his fascination, but before he can acquire a target for his arrow, Sjo pins him into place with a hold person. Puk appears on the wall (using his slippers of spider climbing) and shreds the man to pieces, kicking him over the wall when he is done.

The party cane now move to the back of the Hall of Lies undetected. Each day this edifice changes its appearance, shifting from the most regal of halls to the most dilapidated of sheds. Today it looks like a bleak prison. Peeking around the corner, they wait for the tieflings patrolling the central building to pass, and sneak to the front door. Elvira explains that these doors are protected with an arcane lock, making them hard to bypass and she already starts counting the seconds. She figures that it will take the security detail a good three minutes to clear the massive Hall of Summoning, giving her friends perhaps to the count of 200 to try and open the door. By the time she gets to 12 a smug Balian and Puk announce that they have ‘unraveled’ the lock.

The main entrance is a dreary room with cold, gray stone walls and chains hanging from the ceiling. Water drips down, filling the place with a musty smell. Elvira explains that the hall's outer illusion continues on the inside. She falls back on her knowledge of this building’s lay-out. Despite its evershifting appearance, the position of the rooms remains roughly the same. She leads her new friends through the offices and auditoria, peeking behind every door to pick up a sign of the key-light. After about four minutes they find a classroom with mirrored walls: the endless reflections make the room seem to go on forever. There is no key-light in the room itself, but its first reflection on the left holds a floating ball of purple light. Bingo!

The companions move inside and close the door behind them. Using her velvet glove, Elvira starts feeling along the mirrors, starting on the right. Meanwhile Puk moves over to the middle of the empty room, seeing himself mirrored on the left-hand side, just below the key-light. Elvira prompts the little rogue to watch his reflection and grab for the dancing ball of purple magic above his head. As he does so, the halfling stretches into emptiness. At the same time all the mirrors shatter. Elvira braces for the impact of the shards, but is relieved to learn that the sharp pieces of glass are mere illusions that disappear into smoke. The walls that are now exposed are pitch black and almost seem to pulse with life. From the center of each of the four walls a shadow tears free, three medium-sized figures and one smaller one, that seems to be wielding two blades. The other three looks like a slender woman, a bulky brute with a large sword and a tall, armored fellow with a club-like weapon. These are shadowy doubles of the adventurers!

The armored shadow attempts a spell on Sjo, but the healer withstands his magic. Elvira’s insight in language and sorcery aids her in recognizing the spell: hold person, but the wording is backwards. As the other dark assailants move into position, the enchantress activates her aura of despair. Spyder, the only one who is not duplicated, flanks the small shadow, giving Puk the chance to sneak attack, but the halfling finds his opponent too nimble to deliver extra damage. Of course! His double shares his uncanny dodge ability! Balian also gets hit by his counterpart and suffers a hard blow, but thanks to Sjo’s shield other, he splits his damage with the healer. Next shadow Balian moves up to Elvira and provides the dark halfling with an effective flanking opportunity. The misty rogue has no trouble hitting the shocked wizardess, bringing her close to death with three vicious cuts. Sjo’s double follows up with a dark version of fireball, which takes Elvira down. Sjo now casts his own hold person on Balian’s copy, but sees his magic resisted. With a breath of life he returns Elvira to consciousness. Seeing how easily the real Elvira got hit, Balian figures that her duplicate is equally vulnerable to melee attacks and mercilessly hacks into her dark form, but she survives the onslaught, at least for now. Elvira, who finds herself on the floor, bathing in her own blood and surrounded by two shadows, decides to cast her magic defensively and manages to win over the dark rogue to her side with a successful charm monster. Puk starts slashing at shadowy Balian and guided by Elvira’s enchantment, his double joins him in the fray. Together they bring the black ranger down.

Dark Elvira finds herself cornered by Balian and also attempts to use a spell defensively, but her magic fizzles. The greatest threat continues to come from Sjo’s dark lookalike, who is still moving unmolested along the far wall. He throws a black flame strike in the center of the room, bringing Elvira down again. The real Sjo reacts with a mass cure light wounds, while Balian now changes targets and attacks the shadowy Shoanti. As his greatsword bears down, the shadow raises his left arm to ward off the blow. The fluid motion seems to draw dark tendrils from his buckler, making it temporarily appears are a larger shield, that effectively blocks the ranger’s weapon. Elvira, who has just woken up from her second near-death experience, tries hideous laughter on shadow Sjo, but his will proves too strong. Meanwhile she directs her dark rogue puppet to finish off her own double. Sjo’s copy is the only remaining threat in the room by now - Balian and Puk hit him hard, but he continues his blackfire magic and summons another fireball, which sends Elvira into the clutches of death. Fortunately, the dark caster included himself in the explosion for maximum effect on his opponents and ends his own short existence with his own spell. Sjo musters all his strength in another breath of life and narrowly manages to pull Elvira back from the dead.

The walls of the room are still dark as Elvira gets to her feet and beckons the dominated dark rogue closer. She asks him: “Tile-eek uth teg oohy nack?”, figuring out that she has to phrase her question (Can you get the key-light?) in reverse. The shadowy halfling says: “Own.” So ‘no’, he can’t. Next she commands the shifty rogue to step out of the room. His form dissipates as he crosses the threshold. Suddenly the dark walls melts away, revealing a normal room, which is twice the size of the chamber the companions entered originally. The first reflection to the left in the former illusion’s mirror is now included in the space, and the key-light softly floats there in the same position it first appeared in in the mirror. Elvira steps up and claims the light. One down, two to go! Looking at her burned and tattered robes, the young graduate prays that the next encounters won’t be as lethal.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Since Erik Mona will be at Comic Con in New York this weekend, we will have to wait another week for the final two minis from Deadly foes to be revealed. I thought I'd use this 'downtime' to show you some minis of my own.

First we have Barzillai Thrune as he appears in the last installment of Hell's Rebels. If you're a player in this campaign, you might want to skip this picture, because it contains spoilers. I used two Reaper Bones minis to craft this figurine. So here he is: Barzillai Thrune in his new form.

The Hell's Rebels AP also features the strix, a race of birdlike humanoids. Deadly Foes contains a first strix mini, but if I ever play this AP or use the strix in another campaign, I'll probably need more than one, so I converted some Heroclix figurines. Have a look at strix 1, strix 2, strix 3, strix 4 and strix 5.

I hope you like them.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

PUK, CG Male Halfling rogue 10 (swashbuckler)
Init +7; Senses Perception +12
AC 26, touch 19, flat-footed 26, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge
hp 92 (10 HD)
Fort +10, Ref +17 (evasion), Will +6, +2 morale bonus vs. fear, +2 racial bonus vs. fear
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee main hand silver short sword +2 (small) +16/+11 (1d4+2/19-20) and off-hand short sword +1 of shock (small) +15/+10 (1d4+1+1d6/19-20)
Base Atk +7/+2; CMB +6; CMD 23
Atk Options Sneak Attack +5d6
Abilities Str 10, Dex 24, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
Feats Acrobatic Steps, Dodge, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Martial Weapon Proficiency (Halfling Sling Staff), Nimble Moves, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (short sword)
Skills Acrobatics +22, Acrobatics (Jump) +18, Appraise +9, Bluff +7, Climb +10, Diplomacy +7, Disable Device +15, Disguise +9, Escape Artist +18, Intimidate +4 (+0 vs. medium-sized), Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +4, Knowledge (Local) +6, Linguistics +4, Perception +12, Perform (Percussion Instruments) +7, Ride +7, Sense Motive +7, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +21, 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 +2, ring of protection +2, ring of featherfall; cloak of the Pixie King (+2 on saves, Dimension Door 1/day), belt of physical might (+2 dex/con), slippers od spider climbing

Sneak Attack (Ex) If you can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from your attack, you can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Your attack deals 4d6 points of extra damage.
Bleeding Attack (Ex) A rogue with this ability can cause living opponents to bleed by hitting them with a sneak attack. This attack causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for each die of the rogue's sneak attack. Bleeding creatures take that amount of damage every round at the start of each of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application of any effect that heals hit point damage. Bleeding damage bypasses any damage reduction the creature might possess.
Resiliency (Ex) Once per day, a rogue with this ability can gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the rogue's level. Activating this ability is an immediate action that can only be performed when she is brought to below 0 hit points. This ability can be used to prevent her from dying. These temporary hit points last for 1 minute. If the rogue's hit points drop below 0 due to the loss of these temporary hit points, she falls unconscious and is dying as normal.
Opportunist (Ex) The rogue can make an attack of opportunity against an opponent who has just been struck for damage in melee by another character. This attack counts as an attack of opportunity for that round and can't be used more than once per round.

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

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

SHAOBAN (SJO), LN Male Human oracle 10
Init +0; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Blindsense (30 ft.)Perception +2, Clouded Vision
AC 27, touch 12, flat-footed 27
hp 82 (10 HD)
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +12
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)
Melee cold iron mace +2 (heavy) +13/+8 (1d8+5)
Base Atk +7/+2; CMB +10/+5 CMD 22
Known Oracle Spells (CL 8th):
5th (4/day) (DC 22) – breath of life, cure light wounds (mass), flame strike
4th (6/day) (DC 21) - blessing of fervor, cure critical wounds, dimensional anchor, restoration, wall of fire
3rd (8/day) (DC 20) - cure serious wounds, dispel magic, fireball, invisibility purge, prayer, remove blindness/deafness
2nd (8/day) (DC 19) - cure moderate wounds, hold person, remove paralysis, resist energy, restoration (lesser), shield other, silence
1st (8/day) (DC 18) - burning hands, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, divine favor, hide from undead, magic weapon, protection from chaos, remove fear, shield of faith
0th (at will) (DC 17) - create water, detect magic, purify food and drink, read magic, spark, stabilize
Abilities Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 24
Feats Armor Proficiency, Heavy, Combat Casting, Dazzling Display; Lightning Reflexes, Toughness, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace)
Skills Acrobatics -5, Bluff +14, Climb -2, Diplomacy +20, Heal +10, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (History) +3, Knowledge (Local) +0, Knowledge (Religion) +12, Linguistics +0, Perception +2, Perform (Act) +11, Perform (sing) +13, Ride -5, Sense Motive +12, Sleight of Hand +0, Spellcraft +3, Swim -2
Possessions headband of alluring charisma +4; cold iron mace +2 (heavy); ring of protection +2; full plate +2; amulet of natural armor +1, cloak of resistance +3, buckler +2; belt of giant strength +2, wand of cure light wounds, wand of remove disease, scroll of Breath of Life, Scroll of Heal, Tome of Leadership and Influence +1;

Clouded Vision Your eyes are obscured, making it difficult for you to see.
Flame Mysteries You draw upon the divine mystery of Flame to grant your spells and powers.
Touch of Flame (Su) As a standard action, you can perform a melee touch attack that deals 1d6 points of fire damage + 1 per two oracle levels (1d6+5). Alternatively you can use this power to ignite your weapon as a free action, adding the same amount of fire damage to each of your weapon attacks during that round. You can use this ability a number of times or rounds per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier (10).
At 11th level, any weapon that you wield is treated as a flaming weapon, adding 1d6 points of fire damage + 1 per two oracle levels.
Molten Skin (Ex) You gain resist fire 10.
Wings of Fire (Su) As a swift action, you can manifest a pair of fiery wings that grant you a fly speed of 60 feet with average maneuverability. You can use these wings for 1 minute per day per oracle level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1 minute increments.

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

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

BALIAN, CG Male Human ranger 10 (urban ranger)
Init +5; Senses Perception +16
AC 26, touch 16, flat-footed 23
hp 116 (10 HD)
Fort +12, Ref +12, Will +10
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee holy adamantine greatsword +1 (two handed) +17/+12 ((two handed) 2d6+10/19-20)
Melee dagger+2 +18/+13 (1d4+8/19-20)
Ranged masterwork longbow (composite/strength rating+4) +14/+9 (1d8+4/x3)
Base Atk +10/+5; CMB +16; CMD 31
Ranger Spells (CL 7th):
1st (3/day) (DC 12) - lead blades, longstrider, resist energy
2nd (1/day) (DC 13) - perceive cues, protection from energy
Abilities Str 22, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 17, Cha 7
Special Qualities Favored Community Korvosa +4, Track +4, Trapfinding +4
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Favored Defense (human +3 AC and CMD), Following Step, Furious Focus, Iron Will, Power Attack (-2 atk, +4 dmg / +6 dmg on 2-handed), Step Up, Step Up and Strike
Skills Acrobatics +12, Climb +9, Diplomacy +0, Disable Device +15 (+20 traps), Heal +7, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (Geography) +2, Knowledge (Local) +11, Perception +16, Perform (Act) +3, Ride +6, Sense Motive +3, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +15, Survival +7, Survival (Follow or identify tracks) +12, Swim +9
Possessions holy adamantine greatsword +1; ring of protection +2; mithral breastplate +2; amulet of natural armor +2; belt of physical might (+2 str/con); cloak of resistance +2; wand of cure light wounds; dusty rose prism ioun stone dagger +2; masterwork longbow (Composite/Strength Rating+4); winged boots, headband of inspired wisdom +4
Favored Community Korvosa (Ex) You gain a +4 bonus on initiative checks and Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth, and Survival skill checks. An urban ranger traveling through his favored community leaves no trail and cannot be tracked (although he may leave a trail if he so desires).
Favored Community Kaer Maga (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 +6, Undead +2, Evil outsider +2) (Ex) You gain a +6/+2/+2 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks when using these skills against humans/undead/evil outsiders. Likewise, you get a +6/+2/+2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against such creatures.
Favored defense (human+3) You add half your favored enemy bonus to your CMD and as a dodge bonus to AC when attacked by favored enemy (human).
Push Through (Ex) 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.
Track (Ex) Add half your level (+5) to Survival skill checks made to follow tracks.
Trapfinding (Ex) At 3rd level, an urban ranger can find and disable traps, as the rogue class feature of the same name: +5 to perception to find traps.

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.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

ELVIRA 'EL' CAMPERT, NG Female Human (Taldan) enchanter 10
Init +5; Senses Darkvision (60 ft.), Perception +20
AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 14
hp 67 (10HD)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +13
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee masterwork dagger +4 (1d4-2/19-20)
Ranged masterwork crossbow (light) +7 (1d8/19-20)
Ranged masterwork dagger (thrown) +7 (1d4-2/19-20)
Base Atk +5; CMB +3; CMD 16
Wizard Spells known (CL 10th):
0th (4/day) (DC 18) – Detect Magic, Resistance, Acid Splash, Spark, Ray of Frost, Mage Hand, Light, Ghost Sound, Message, Haunted Fey Aspect, Daze, Mending, Flare, Dancing Lights, Arcane Mark, Open/Close, Prestidigitation
1st (6+1/day) (DC 19) – Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Disguise Self, Hypnotism, Mage Armor, Memory Lapse, Shield, Touch of Gracelessness, Vanish
2nd (6+1/day) (DC 20) – Alter Self, Blur, Darkvision, Daze Monster, Glitterdust, Hideous Laughter, Hypnotic Pattern, Invisibility, Mirror Image, Summon Monster II, Touch of Idiocy, Whispering Wind
3rd (5+1/day) (DC 21) – Blink, Deep Slumber, Dispel Magic, Displacement, Enter Image, Haste, Heroism, Hold Person, Invisibility Sphere, Suggestion
4th (4+1/day) (DC 22) – Charm Monster, Confusion, Crushing Despair, Dimension Door, Geas (Lesser), Invisibility (Greater), Moonstruck, Phantasmal Killer, Rainbow Pattern, Stoneskin
5th (3+1/day) (DC 23) – Dominate Person, Feeblemind, Hold Monster, Mind Fog, Permanency, Seeming, Telekinesis, Teleport
Abilities Str 7, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 24, Wis 12, Cha 14
Permanent spells Darkvision, Detect Magic, Read Magic, See Invisibility
Feats Bouncing Spell, Disruptive Spell, Greater Spell Focus (Enchantment), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Persistent Spell, Spell Focus (Enchantment), Spell Penetration
Skills Acrobatics +1, Appraise +11, Bluff +6, Climb -2, Craft (Glass) +13, Diplomacy +20, Escape Artist +1, Fly +14, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (Arcana) +20, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +14, Knowledge (Engineering) +14, Knowledge (Geography) +17, Knowledge (History) +17, Knowledge (Nature) +15, Knowledge (Nobility) +15, Knowledge (Planes) +20, Knowledge (Religion) +14, Linguistics +20, Perception +20, Perform (Act) +7, Ride +1, Sense Motive +1, Spellcraft +20, Stealth +1, Survival +1, Swim -2
Languages Celestial, Chelaxian, Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Infernal, Shoanti, Thassilonian, Vudrani
Possessions amulet of natural armor +2; eyes of the eagle; headband of vast intelligence +2 (bluff skill bonus); ring of protection +2; belt of mighty constitution +2; cloak of resistance +3; pearl of power (1st level); pearl of power (2nd level); 2 spellbooks; masterwork dagger; masterwork crossbow (Light)
Arcane Bond (Su) You have selected to establish a powerful arcane bond with an object, a mirror that is part of your amulet of natural armor +2. When attempting to cast a spell without your bonded object worn or in hand, you must make a concentration check or lose the spell (DC 20 + the spell's level).
Aura of Despair (Su) As a standard action, you can emit a 30-foot aura of despair for 10 rounds per day. Enemies within this aura take a -2 penalty on ability checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. This is a mind-affecting effect.
Dazing Touch (Sp) You can cause a living creature to become dazed for 1 round as a melee touch attack. Creatures with more than 10 hit dice are unaffected. You may use this ability 10 times per day.
Enchantment School You have chosen to specialize in enchantment spells.
Divination and Necromancy Opposition School You have chosen divination and necromancy spells as an opposition school. Preparing an divination or necromancy spell takes up two spell slots of the same level. You take a -4 penalty on any skill checks made when crafting a magic item that has an divination or necromancy spell as a prerequisite.
Enchanting Smile (Su) You gain a +4 enhancement bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Perform (act) skill checks.

Student of perception You have studied the art of perception in depth. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perception checks and Perception is always a class skill for you.
Natural born actress You have a natural knack for acting. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perform (Act) skill checks and the skill is always considered a class skill for you. You also gain a free skill point in this skill.
Natural charm You possess a natural charm that makes it easy to talk to others. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy and it is always a class skill for you.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The companions return the Tenna’s B&B and deliberate how to proceed. Elvira draws upon her extended book knowledge to explain about pseudodragons. These creatures are tiny cousins of true dragons, and are playful but shy by nature. They often only vocalize in chirps, hisses, growls, and purrs, but can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature. If approached peacefully and offered food, they are usually willing to share information about what they've seen in their territory, but threats or violence make them flee. Pseudodragons are carnivores, devouring insects, rodents, small birds and snakes, though they sometimes eat eggs and most also enjoy butter, cheese and fish. They either hunt on the ground like lizards or look for prey from the sky like a (somewhat clumsy) hawk. As smart as a typical humanoid, they do not enjoy being treated as pets and prefer being treated as friends. They are wary of evil folk, but can bond with sorcerers and wizards as familiars, and some have befriended druids and rangers or partnered with good dragons as scouts. Pseudodragons will serve as familiars if they approve of a spellcaster's personality, but often also bond with those whose company they enjoy or who have proven themselves true friends. A pseudodragon might follow another character in this manner for days, weeks, years, or even a lifetime if the creature is treated well, provided with food, and generally well-loved. Upon reaching adulthood, a pseudodragon's body is about 1 foot long with a 2-foot tail, and weighs about 7 pounds. A pseudodragon egg is the size of a large chicken egg, but leathery and spotted brown, and a mating female lays 2–5 eggs every spring. A clutch of pseudodragons (the collective noun—not to be confused with pseudodragons from the same brood of eggs) usually consists of a mated pair and several near-adult offspring.

So how will the party get the pseudodragon colony to assist them? Balian states that they should at least get a fair supply of butter, cheese and fish. Sjo feels that they might also appeal to the tiny dragons’ intelligence and sense of good. There is no need to disclose the whole plot that threatens Korvosa right now, but the healer has no qualms about revealing a small part of the truth that might convince the flying lizards. An evil devil in the Acadamae threatens the future of Korvosa and the companions need to get inside to take care of the problem. Elvira agrees, but thinks that a fresh head in the morning might be better to make plans. Sjo returns to Larella for the night, while Elvira sleeps in Quint’s empty room and Balian and Puk retire to the room next-door.

29 Arodus 4708

After a hearty (and late) breakfast at Tenna’s the companions buy butter, cheese and fresh fish and go to the Dock Trade. The market is already in full swing, but not only the ground is crowded. Up in the rafters Balian easily spots at least a dozen pseudodragons. He picks out what looks like the father of a family and flies up with his boots, approaching the being with caution. Offering it some fish, he beckons it to come down, where his friends have more tasty goodies. As the father flutters down, his family in tow, Elvira holds up another fish. She is startled by a second swarm that dives in from behind her. Moving to a quiet corner, she spreads out more food on the ground and allows the hungry critters to feed. One of the tiny dragons seems to demand the respect of the others, as they move back and allow it to eat first. It is slightly larger than the rest, and when Elvira greets it kindly in Draconic, it replies telepathically that its name is Maya, the alpha of this colony. Elvira says that they need the pseudodragons’ help to draw away the imps from the Acadamae and lure them into a trap. Maya’s interest is piqued – her dislike for the pesky little devils is obvious – and she inquires into the nature of the trap. Elvira manages to convince her that her friends can set up an ambush in the Old Courthouse, which will allow them to ‘fry’ the imps out of this plane of existence and send them back to Hell. Maya relishes this thought and agrees to cooperate, at least if the companions supply her flock with more food. Elvira gladly accepts this proposal and tells Maya she will return tonight to set the plan in motion.

Next the heroes move over to the Old Courthouse and plan a trap in the corridor that leads to the cellblock. They will prepare a net to capture the imps in the hallway and kill them off with magic. Sjo offers his fireballs, but Elvira tells him that imps are immune to fire and poison and also highly resistant to acid and cold. They do not possess any special defenses against electricity, though, so Elvira suggests buying a number of lightning bolt scrolls in the Gilded Orrery, the magic shop that supplies the Acadamae. Being a graduate, Elvira has no trouble making a purchase from Gasta Weagra, the small, greying woman who runs the shop and who is said to be Headmaster Toff Ornelos’s niece. Scrolls can be bought here by the dozens, so Elvira can easily get her hands on three scrolls of lightning bolt, cast at the highest level. Gasta also mentions a number of other items she has for sale, but most of these are already underpowered for the party. She does have one interesting item that might make a good buy: a deep red sphere ioun stone, which makes its wearer more agile. Unfortunately, paying off guildmaster Boule has drained the party’s coffers, so there are no funds to make the purchase at present.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

At midnight the companions travel quietly through the city to the Avenue of Arms. This bizarre street that extends from the Great Tower along the riverfront to Burnt Bridge Boulevard, holds one of Korvosa’s eerier landmarks. All along the wide thoroughfare rise silent and unsettling sentinels that predate the Chelish settlers who came here three centuries ago: exactly 127 stone arms reach up from the rock soil along the road at an even distance. No two arms look the same – some stick up straight, while others bend at the elbow. Roughly a third of them hold a variety of rusting weapons, while another third grasp stone representations of weapons. They all look like the arms of human adults; about a quarters of them are feminine, the rest appear masculine. Together they comprise more than a dozen kinds of stone. Despite these variations, all of them have a few things in common: they face the same direction, pointing toward the road. While the metal weapons are all rusted beyond repair, not an inch of the stone looks damaged or even weathered. Elvira picks up some kind of preserving magic on them.

The somewhat spooky atmosphere of the Avenue keeps most nightly visitors away, but spread out on top of the Mainshore wall beyond the Avenue are a number of Gray Maiden guards; so the party moves stealthily to keep from being seen. From behind a dark building a robust man with a square head and a sour countenance tears away from the shadows. Although Balian has never met the man before, he can match his appearance to that of the leader of the Cerulean Society, guildmaster Boule. The brute throws his gaze over the party slowly and nods, beckoning them to come closer: “Hmm, somehow I pictured you more impressive,” he sighs, “anyway, I heard you wanted to talk to me, so … talk.”

Balian explains that they need to get into the Hall of Abjuration in the Acadamae and require the thieves’ guild’s expertise from the Breaching Festival to achieve this goal. Master Boule seems a bit surprised that the party needs his insight in this matter, since they travel with a graduate from the Acadamae, but says he is willing to share what he knows. Still, this information comes at a price; after all, dealing in knowledge is one of the guild’s major sources of income. He demands a flat fee of 5,000 gold sails, which Sjo coughs up from the party funds.

To gain access to the Hall of Wards, the party will have to gather three magical key-lights from the other halls. Each hall has one of those: flying spheres of light, weighing no more than a feather. They hang about at random places, reappearing at a different spot every hour, so locating them is part of the challenge. Each key-light is also protected with powerful and often deadly magic, linked to the arts of the respective hall. Once retrieved, it stays with that person for exactly one hour before zapping back to its hall of origin. The key-lights are always present, not only during the Breaching Festival, but all year around. Some veteran students even like tricking novice pupils into trying to take one, which never ends well for the naïve newcomer.

There are three ways to overcome a key-light’s protection. The first is to undergo its magical effects, a dangerous choice, certainly for an individual in the Breaching Festival, since the competitors always have to face the test on their own. The second is to use the skills of a thief to get past the magic trap. The third is to study the defenses with arcane insight, identify the spell that protects the key and counter it with dispel magic.

The last competitor from the Cerulean society was an accomplished halfling rogue, who went by the name of Illia Ean. Boule admits that he was sad to learn that she never made it out alive, despite her careful preparations. Using the know-how of former guild competitors, she had analyzed the information thoroughly and made a shortlist of the three keys that would be easiest for her to retrieve. Such a breakdown was never air-tight, since the key-lights’ protections change all the time, but she still came to these conclusions:

  • The Hall of Summoning, home to the school of conjuration, is gigantic in size. The first and perhaps greatest difficulty lies in locating the key in this huge structure, which might take up too much precious time. The key-light’s defenses usually summon a number of devils, which can also prove tricky for a small rogue on her own, so Illia decided against this hall.
  • The Hall of Shaping, where transmutation is taught, has been altered time and again by hundreds of would-be graduates over the years, whose goal it was to change the shape of the stone as drastically as possible without causing the building to collapse. These numerous instances of magical tampering have left the structure a hodge-podge of forms and colors with scores of hidden nooks and crannies. This means that the key-light can be very hard to locate. Moreover, Illia feared this key’s protections, which often involve turning failed competitors into some kind of animal, so she wanted to skip this building as well.
  • The Hall of Charms, home to enchantment, is the prettiest building on campus, but its protections are rightfully dreaded by many. Even students from other specializations dislike coming here out of fear of being mentally manipulated. Being a rogue, Illia lacked the proper willpower to withstand such mind-affecting magic and prudently decided against entering this wonderful edifice.
  • The Hall of Whispers, the dread base of necromancy, is rumored to be haunted. Challenges inside often involve undead creatures or withering effects that suck away your life energy, both things that a lone rogue has trouble with. Going here would have been a great risk to someone like Illia. Moreover, Boule figures, if the party wants to sneak into the Hall of Wards unnoticed, they will have to do so at night, when most of the Acadamae sleeps. The Hall of Whispers would not be a wise destination for them either, since this is the only building that sees regular nighttime activity. As a matter of fact, the school of necromancy might even be more populated at night than during the daytime hours.
  • So what did Illia opt for? Her first choice was the Hall of Lies, where students attempt to master the art of illusion. This building seems to change shape constantly, both from the outside and within. This makes it hard to predict where the key-light will be, so locating it might take some time. That is why Illia put it on her list first. The protections surrounding the key are always of an illusory nature. If you manage to see through them, you can just take the key. On the other hand, if you can’t figure them out, the key will stay beyond your reach.
  • The Hall of Induction was second on Illia’s list. This building, also known as the cube, consists of five open-floored levels, which are connected by a central spiral staircase. Metal plating reinforces the stone walls, allowing evocation students to throw their worse spells without harming the building too much. The open architecture of the floors makes to key-light easy to spot. Most of the time its defenses involve some kind of major explosion, but rogues are usually quite adept at evading such magic, so Illia deemed it wise to come here as well.
  • Her last stop was to be the Hall of Seeing, center of divination magic. Here the key-light seems to hover in the same place all the time, a round chamber under the building’s dome. This makes finding it a no-brainer. Challenges are mostly at a spiritual level, making them less lethal than most of the other protections in the Acadamae.

Boule also gives extra advice on staging a nightly raid. Between two and five o’clock at night, the halls are mostly deserted, with the exception of the Hall of Whispers. This would be the best time to infiltrate. Of course the Acadamae is always secured. The tiefling guards keep watch day and night and can call a number of ‘garipans’, a vicious species of gargoyles, to their aid with a simple word. Still, the most effective alarm system protecting the school grounds are its many imps. These infernal pests never sleep and are ever watchful, alerting the Acadamae’s other guardians at the first sign of intrusion. Possessing the permanent power to detect magic and good turns them into very competent watchdogs, certainly against kind-hearted creatures. This makes sneaking around campus unnoticed almost impossible, unless you can find a way to distract the little devils. Boule has given this a lot of thought over the years. Although he has never attempted it himself, he has come up with a plan that might just work. The imps have one ‘natural enemy’ in the city of Korvosa, the pseudodragons. These tiny draconic creatures have even developed the ability to cut through the imps’ natural resistance for mundane damage with their stings and bites. A swarm of pseudodragons would definitely be the best way to draw away the imps’ attention. Boule even knows where the party can find a flock of those tiny dragons: the dock trade.

This market of questionable legality operates in New Dock, at the heart of the North Point district. Many of the goods sold within these three connected warehouses appear freshly delivered, although most have some amount of damage to them. For years the Hellknights have attempted to link these wares with cargo reported missing from ship manifests. Their constant vigil has prevented the Dock Trade from growing too much, keeping it a rather contained market. Only in the last two months, when the Hellknights were distracted with other worries and even temporarily banned from the city, has the Dock Trade flourished. Scarcity of common foods on the normal market made this place perfect to sell off provisions that were smuggled into the city.

A colony of pseudodragons makes its home in the rafters of the these warehouses. For the most part these creatures ignore the activity that occurs below them, hunting rats and other vermin. Every so often, though, a particularly succulent smell or shiny object attracts the interest of one of the small dragons. Once it notices such an item, the creature inevitably draws its comrades’ attention and an entire swarm swoops down into the teeming human masses. While they never mean harm, their sudden appearance disrupts transactions and sends a number of shoppers running, causing something of a stir. Order is usually restored quickly and trade life resumes within minutes. Boule recommends that the heroes head to Dock Trade and convince the pseudodragons to aid them. After this last bit of advice guildmaster Boule takes his leave and sinks back into the shadows.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Brian Turner 355 wrote:

I am running Curse of the Crimson Throne for the first time and i have a couple of questions:

1. If the pc's go to the fishery in the daytime and choose to go through the door (which according to the bbok is either opened slightly or all the way)that opens to area A7 (the room with Hookshanks) does hookshanks automatically attack them or could the pc's try diplomacy or bluffing to get through to try and get to Gaedren?
2. I noticed that the only way according to the map to get to is through the secret door through the bottom of the barge but since area A12 is below the main walkway to the barge is it conceivable that the pc's can see it and try to find a new way down. Or am i thinking too hard about this?
3. Never used or even heard of a harrow deck before but i have to say its what peaked my interest in this game. I have a pdf version of the harrow deck and i plan on using it (i use roll20). But besides the way its explained in the AP and in the instructions that come with the actual harrow deck is there anything else i need to know about using one (especially using it online).
4. Harrow Points. I understand how their generated. Seems kind of iffy how they are given to the pc's. Anything against the rules saying i cant roll like a d4 or a d6 in secret and say that's how many they get. Also the frequency they get them seems to be once per book (at least thats what i interpret when it says "at the beginning of each adventure"). Can they be regained at the beginning of eaach session or are they supposed to be of a certain limit?

Thanks for all the help.

1 Hookshanks is a coward at heart, so he won't attack anyone who comes in when he's alone. He's also dressed up as one of the kids, so he might just tell the PCs to leave, as Nullpunkt suggested. He might also ask the PCs what they want and react accordingly (if they attack, he will scream for help, threaten to kill one of the children to keep the PCs at bay; if they pose as customers, he will redirect them to the front door, telling them to go to Yargin's office - the door oppostite the entrance - if the PCs do that, he'll take the long route through the fishery floor to get to Yargin's office from the backside, taking Giggles with him as back-up).

2 It is perfectly possible for the PCs to study the building and spot the underpier, which they can reach with a simple climb check. They can get to Gaedran's playground from there. My players actually did that, but I added a trap door in room A7, which allowed Lamm to climb up from his private room and escape anyone who tries to corner him in his den.
3 The Harrow readings are mostly in the AP for flavor. I use the readings in my campaign, but they can easily be left out. Rephrasing a card's meaning into something that fits your campaign can get tricky. I'm not quite sure how you would go about using it online, so you'd have to figure that out before play, so you can keep the flow going.
4 The distribution of harrow points is indeed 'iffy'. The number of points someone gets is quite arbitrary. I also find the mechanics for actually using the points tricky (When do the players use them? How long until the get new ones? Some of the effects are useless to certain classes. You - the GM - have to remember to tell the player in which encounter he gets his benefit from the Chosen card.) I decided to give my players 'Harrow points', but I also use heropoints (a system I absolutely recommend) and I let them use their Harrow points as extra heropoints. So far this decision has served our campaign well.

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28 Arodus 4708

The companions complete their short trip to Kaer Maga by selling off the loot they gained from the fight in the temple of Asmodeus. They pick up another pair of teleport scrolls and return to Quint’s room at Tenna’s B&B in Korvosa.

During an elaborate brunch they discuss what to do next. To break Ileosa’s contract, they will have to destroy both copies of the document, one of which is with the devil who brokered the deal, while Ileosa holds the other one. Quint suggests falling back on his alter ego of ‘Marcus’, the stable hand who worked for Master Jacob in the Queen’s stables and try to work his way into the castle from there to do some recon. Undercover he might be able to find out more without raising suspicion, because infiltrating the castle in full party force will probably not go unnoticed for long. In the meantime his friends can follow up on the Acadamae and the contract devil who can somehow be reached from there. The bard wastes no time, dresses up as ‘Marcus’ and takes his leave, promising to get word to his friends about his progress in the palace when he can.

At the Acadamae Elvira wakes up to a whole new day. She packs her bags, feeling a bit strange that her harsh, but secluded life between the walls of this magic institution have suddenly come to a close. She says goodbye to a handful of fellow students, who are surprised to learn that she has graduated. The tiefling guards at the gate seem to be informed of her departure and let her pass, but no one else is there to see her off. As she steps into the streets of the city, she can’t help but feel a bit lost. Although she has lived in Korvosa for almost a decade, she does not know the place. The students’ time outside the Acadamae walls has always been extremely restricted. The young mage goes over the places and people she knows here in her head. There is The Gilded Orrery, the magic shop which caters almost exclusively to students from her school, the Leroung library where she used to work, but which was supposedly closed for business, and then there are the other members of the cast of Korvosa always rises, the play she recently participated in. She quickly discards the idea of the shop and the actors, the former holds no interest to her at the moment and the latter was nothing more than a gang of drug-using misfits with very loose sexual morals. Not wanting to wander too far from her former ‘home’, Elvira books a bed in The Frisky Unicorn, a bed and breakfast establishment in the Heights district and one of the few places in the area where people can actually get a room for the night, since the law forbids inns in this ward. Despite its appealing name, the structure looks drab and cheap, but El figures it will do for now. Afterwards she roams about aimlessly in the neighborhood, realizing that her feet have unknowingly taken her to her favorite destination, the Leroung library. The place is locked tight and the maidens who stand guard at the doors inform the girl that the Leroung family has disappeared after its head, Lady Eliasia, was brutally murdered by rebels. Elvira is shocked and ponders what to do next. She really wants to see a friendly face and decides she has only one place left to go to, Tenna’s B&B, where the nice bard she met a few days ago said he was staying.

Tenna’s definitely looks a lot nicer than the sorry excuse for a bed and breakfast Elvira just booked and its owner is a warm and welcoming woman. When Elvira enquires about Quint, Tenna tells her the young man has just left, but his friends are still here. She introduces the girl to Sjo, Balian and Puk, who immediately recognize her and invite her to join them at their table. They seem like a friendly lot: Balian explains that they are adventurers. The ranger certainly fits the picture with his broad shoulders and somewhat rough demeanor, although his eyes are friendly and his face is ruggedly handsome. He also has a big, black dog, called Spyder, who seems to take an immediate liking to Elvira and rests his head on her thigh as if he already knows her. The halfling is a weird little fellow who sneaks around the table and ‘accidentally’ pricks his fork in her arm, praying her to forgive his clumsiness. When he returns to his seat, he whispers something to his friends about her ‘not exploding’. Elvira is puzzled, but then Sjo, the big man in full plate armor asks her if she has a twin sister. He claims that they knew someone who looked like her, not just bearing a resemblance, but the exact spitting image of her. Madam Nesia, he calls her, and she even used to live with them. Elvira says she is an only child, but she is intrigued and prods the healer to tell her more.

Sjo asks her if she ever stayed in the temple of Asmodeus, and if she did, if she remembers all that transpired there. Elvira is surprised, because that is exactly what happened to her. A little over two months ago, she had an ‘accident’ while experimenting on a new spell which backfired and was taken to the temple for care. She was in bad shape and had to stay there for over a month to recover. She admits that large parts of this period are a blank to her and wonders how Sjo would know about that. Sjo, Balian and Puk look at each other, asking themselves if they can entrust this girl with the truth, but she seems so kind and innocent. Moreover, the fact that she looks exactly like Madam Nesia instills an immediate sense of trust in them, so the healer goes ahead and tells her. Madam Nesia was a clone, Elvira’s clone, and she was part of a grand conspiracy that is connected to the queen. Glancing about where Tenna is, Balian decides it might be safer to continue the conversation in the privacy of their room and invites everyone up.

The ranger explains that real queen Ileosa is not the do-gooder that Elvira portrayed in the theatre play. While it is unclear whether Ileosa herself is evil to the core or something malicious is controlling her, she is responsible for many heinous deeds, one of which are the so-called ‘blood clones’. Ileosa has been bleeding hundreds of young Korvosan girls dry – literally, meaning they died – to create devilishly empowered blood clone super fighters for her army. She was aided in this horrible endeavor by the church of Asmodeus and possibly Dean Togomor. When Elvira asks how the companions know about this, they tell her that they stopped this foul blood clone production in the catacombs of the Dark Prince’s temple only a few days ago. Elvira was an early experiment in this story, who was not bled to death and whose clone proved to be unstable. The companions found El’s experimental double, Madam Nesia, naked in the streets, suffering from memory loss. They took her in until she suddenly got sick. Since she was plagued by nightmares of blood, they went to the temple of Asmodeus for help. Highpriest Ornher Reebs acted quite weird when confronted with this case and finally suggested that Puk prick her with his dagger. When he did, she exploded in blood, leaving nothing but her clothes and red fluid everywhere. The current newest recruits to the ranks of the Gray Maidens, the blood clones, are perfected versions of this magic, but they still explode in blood when killed, linking them undeniably to whatever Madam Nesia was. Sjo cannot tell whether Dean Togomor was involved and asks Elvira if she can shed some light on his character. The girl admits that the transmuter has always treated her kindly – as he was infatuated with her – but he can be hard to others, cruel even, and like all Academics in Korvosa’s school of magic, he will possibly be up to his thick neck in all kinds of devilish dealings. The companions fill Elvira in on all the details of their raid in the temple, including the devils and the strange construct that was used to sap field marshal Cressida Kroft of her powers. El feels violated by this news and Balian asks her what she wants to do about it. Her reaction is somewhat philosophical, she was abused, but she didn’t really know about it until now, so it is hard to take a stand.

The heroes decide to disclose even more dark secrets. They tell Elvira how Lady Eliasia Leroung was assassinated by a salikotal devil, meaning that her soul is irrevocably lost. Next they reveal what has happened to the queen: she has claimed a mighty malevolent artefact, the teeth of a long lost dragon, which were hidden by the Shoanti in the mastaba centuries ago. Now she proudly bears the teeth on her head as her new crown and they have instilled her with tremendous power and overwhelming evil. To top that she closed an infernal deal with a devil in the Acadamae, which empowered and corrupted her even more. The queen was also the one who ordered the plague to be released on the city, making her responsible for thousands of deaths and proving her current evilness beyond any doubt. Taking the young friends at their word, Elvira can no longer deny Ileosa’s wicked character and, realizing that she was unknowingly personally involved in the queen’s vile practices, she offers to help.

Sjo welcomes the opening and tells Elvira that they could certainly use her aid to find out where they can locate the contract devil in the Acadamae. He even wonders if it is the same fiend who signed Rolth’s contract, a creature named ‘Chyvrom’ or something. El has never heard of him, but she could definitely ask around on campus. She suspects that the Dean of conjuration or headmaster Toff Ornelos will probably know the truth. Lord Ornelos might be hard to approach, but Dean Messida Vost might not.

Elvira returns to the Acadamae and gains an audience with Dean Vost. She claims to feel lost after graduation, not knowing what to do with her life next. Maybe a contract with Hell will aid this situation. The mistress of conjuration says that such a deal is indeed possible, but she advises against closing it without good cause. The price for such a contract is steep and it should only be made with the proper motivation and goals. Elvira has already proven herself quite powerful for her age, she does not really need extra power to make something of her life. Her talents will suffice for that. Of course, if she ever finds a goal that justifies the price of an infernal contract, she can always return here, as the Acadamae does indeed have an excellent ‘contact’ in Hell. In theory any devil, even the lowliest one, can close an infernal deal with mortals, but the more powerful both parties are, the better the benefits will be. The Acadamae holds a path to one particularly accomplished phistophilus who will be able to offer a lot more than his less skilled ilk. Elvira wonders if the ‘path’ to this individual is hidden in the Hall of Abjuration and Dean Vost compliments the young girl on her insights.

On her way out Elvira quickly stops by her former Dean, Heresta Tarlan. The mistress of enchantment understands that Elvira feels lost, but strongly advises against closing an infernal contract. Elvira also gets the feeling that Tarlan has never entered into such a deal herself. The Dean also claims ignorance when El tells her that she has picked up rumors about queen Ileosa recently signing an agreement with a devil in the Acadamae. Tarlan sees no reason for the queen to do so, since she already has all the powers she could ever want. She might have benefitted from such a contract when she was trying to seduce the king five years ago, but now she doesn’t need it anymore as the throne is already hers. El agrees and promises not to be stupid. She will find her own luck in the world. Dean Tarlan is happy to hear that and is confident that El’s charm and skill will suffice to make it ‘out there’.

In the meantime Sjo has left to spend some time with his fiancée, Larella Semyr, and Puk and Balian indulge in the pleasures of life by getting a massage and taking a relaxing scented bath. When they return to their room, the halfling finds a small note on his bed. Balian immediately realizes that someone infiltrated their room and indeed finds clues that the window was tempered with, but there is no sign of the mysterious messenger. The paper reads: “Come to the Avenue of Arms at midnight. Your contact.” So it looks like this is a note from Glorio Arkona who has made good on his promise and arranged for the party to meet someone from the thieves’ guild. Nice!

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Steve Geddes wrote:
How distressing - my group are likely to meet Mammy Graul next Wednesday. I doubt my case will be here by then, but that hill giant chieftain (chieftainess?) looks like a perfect figure for her. :/

If you're talking about Chief Guh, I fear this mini's a bit oversized for a medium NPC. Horrorclix actually had a figure, called Big Bertha, which fit Mammy Graul quite well, especially if you give her make-over.

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Don't worry, I took no offence. I even appreciate you pointing this out to me.

On topic, that is what I thought as well, no reference, so we can just make it up ourselves.

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Interference from my mothertongue, in which words ending in consonant + i add apostrophe s for plural. My bad, in English it now looks like Arabasti IS in Cheliax, sorry. It should have been Arabastis.

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Eliandra Giltessan wrote:

In updated news of "My players apparently fall for everything" (Seriously, my Mummy's Mask team has a Pairaka div who they think is a waylaid traveler setting up camp for them in the Parched Dunes). They went to see the mercane in the Temple of Asmodeus, and he offered to sell them things. My players were like, "Well, mercanes are usually lawful neutral, so this guy's probably okay." (I swear, I said "usually.") One player who decided to buy something got an actual ioun stone out of the deal. The other guy got a stone of weight. Fortunately for him, the oracle had remove curse as a known spell, and I let him make an intimidate check for a reroll.

But <3 my players.

Lol, tell them to max sense motive.

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Ashkar wrote:
Wanted to say that they were from Westcrown, but after quick check realised that I mistaken Arabasti line with Arvanxi, one from wich Ileosa comes.

Yes, that can get a bit confusing. I've been checking around myself, but I haven't really found anything yet. Just wondering if I missed something, or if I just have to make it up myself.

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Eviljames wrote:
I think they only have them pre glued for the kickstarter any new minis you buy in the store should come unassembled.

You are correct.

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The mini comes from Dungeons and Dragons arcane heroes 2 set and it is actually a repaint of an older mini, the bonded fire summoner from the War of the Dragon Queen set. The red-colored original version is actually for sale on the second-hand market for a lower price.

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Here are some basic ideas, that could be used in the first installment of the AP:

  • Commander Marcus Endrin is no fan of queen Ileosa. Why? Because seneschal Kalepopolis, a former Sable Company officer, told him that she changed for the worse, quite recently and quite suddenly. Kalepopolis was investigating the situation himself. Commander Endrin asks the PCs to try and find the seneschal, or – if they cannot – retrace his steps during the last few day before his disappearance. The PCs find out that he has been investigating the mysterious suicides of various artists in town, who suddenly lost their ‘muse’. This coincided with Ileosa’s change. The PCs might find the seneschal’s research notes in the Leroung library and go about the city to learn more about the suicides. You should be careful using this mission, because it will lead the PCs on a wild goose chase, since you will raise questions to which you cannot give the answer yet until much later in the campaign. It will be great foreshadowing, though.

  • Endrin’s mistrust of Ileosa extends to how she initially made her way into Eodred’s life. He asks the PCs to find out where Ileosa came from and how the manipulated circumstances to gain the king’s attention. The PCs will learn that she indeed staged her accident (possibly through someone who aided her in this conceit), which allowed her to meet the king. Although this proves her past scheming in making it to Korvosa’s queen, it does not reveal her recent schemes. Endrin just wants this information as a ‘weapon’ against a queen he does not trust. It will also give the PCs some nice background information, and serve as a reminder not to trust the woman on the throne too much.

  • Since the Sable Company guards over Korvosa’s sky and waters, they are responsible for finding and stopping smugglers. Since the problems in the city require all the Company’s attention, Endrin needs the PCs’ help to stop a gang of smugglers who are shipping food illegally into the city, which they sell at a stiff price. At the same time, the smugglers might hit existing food suppliers, like bakers or butchers, to put them out of business and take over their markets.

  • The Sable Company has never been friends with the Hellknights. The warriors of the Order of the Nail have been ruthless in their efforts to squash any and all signs of protest in the city. On one such an occasion, two Sable Company marines interfered with Hellknight ‘justice’, to save the lives of several citizens. They succeeded, but were captured as a result and are now being held prisoner in the Hellknight barracks. Endrin wants them out, but cannot send his own men, so he asks the PCs free these two captured soldiers in secret.

  • The hippogriff stable master is missing. The PCs have to find out what happened to him. Maybe he just stayed at home to protect his family in the troubled times that befell the city. Maybe he was (wrongfully?) arrested in the riots and the PCs have to get him out of jail by proving his innocence or pleading his case in front of a judge (nice opportunity to introduce judge Zenobia Zenderholm). This might even be an opportunity for the PCs to get a job working in the stables for one of the lambs they saved from Gaedran Lamm.

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When the Arabasti line in Korvosa lost power to the Porphyria's, Domina came over from Cheliax to resotre order to her family, which implies that there are still Arabasti's in the infernal motherland. But where in Cheliax do we find the Arabasti's? Are there any sources on this?

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You can add Taldor to my want list as well.

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Nice, looks like the dispel magic was the turning point in combat.

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Marco Massoudi wrote:

-Dolphin (hard to get in medium)

Hi, Marco. Heroclix has a medium sized green-colored version of beast boy in dolphin form. You can pick it up for cheap on the second-hand market. With some gray paint you can quickly repaint it to look something like this.

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Waw, a fantastic preview! I love every one of those figures.

As for suggestions for races or groups:

- the wonderful strix mini calls out for MORE!
- I would like some red mantis assassins as well.
- Shoanti, the particular nature of the Shoanti makes it quite hard to find proper minis to represent them. Most barbarian-like minis on the market are either too Conan-like or too viking-like. They don't have the Shoanti vibe.

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If you have a hot gluegun, it is really easy to craft an air elemental yourself. I built this one in 30 minutes, easiest craft I ever did.

You cut off the top of a plastic bottle (cut it off as big as you want your elemental to be). Use the hot gluegun to glue it to your base (I used a big washer, but even a piece of ordinary cardboard will do). Then texture the outside of the plastic bottle in a slanted swirl with the glue. The heat will make the plastic warp a bit, giving the whirlwind a more irregular and natural shape. That is basically it, the result will look something like the whirlwind/air elemental in the picture. Very easy and cheap.

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One day ago

After breakfast Elvira heads to the great Hall of Summoning, where she is greeted by Heresta Tarlan, the Dean of Enchantment. The homely woman smiles confidently when Elvira walks in and guides her to the left wing of the building, where students don’t normally come. She leads her into a small chamber and points to seven busts on display in front of her. “Tell me, Elvira”, she says, “what do you know about these seven people?”

The young mage immediately recognizes the stone heads as the seven Runelords from ancient Thassilon and goes on to explain. This fabled empire occupied most of Western Astivan for over a millennium, including the lands of Korvosa. Ruined remains are still scattered throughout the landscape of Varisia today, like the great mastaba, the Pillar Wall or the Gatefoot in Korvosa. Thassillon’s power was based on rune magic, said by some to be the written language of Creation. 11,000 years ago the First King Xin mastered this magic and used it to craft a vast kingdom. He arranged his ever-growing lands into seven domains, where he installed seven servants to help him rule, the so-called Runelords.

Each Runelord mastered one school of magic, becoming the most powerful specialist wizards in history. Thassilon recognized only seven schools of magic, regarding divination as a universal school. Each school was originally associated with one of the seven virtues of rule, wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger and rest. After Xin’s passing the Runelords took over power in their respective domains and their constant ambition for dominance over their peers led to much strife and death in the empire, quickly turning the virtues into vices: greed, lust, pride, gluttony, envy, wrath and sloth.

Thassilon was destroyed some 10,000 years ago by a cataclysmic event, called Earthfall, when a swarm of meteoroids impacted Golarion and wiped away civilization. The world was consumed by earthquakes and massive tidal waves, which swallowed great landmasses and led to the creation of the Inner Sea. A cloud of dust blotted out the sun for centuries, throwing the lands in darkness.

Next Elvira puts her hand on the busts, while explaining over which domain each runelord ruled:

  • Bakrakhan, the realm of wrath, which today forms the western coast of Varisia (although most of the domain sunk beneath the sea and now lies at the bottom of the Varisian Gulf), was ruled by Runelord Alaznist, the evoker. The Irespan in Magnimar is a ruin that dates back to this realm.
  • Cyrusian, the realm of Pride, lay in what is now north-central Varisia and part of the lands of the Linnorm Kings. It was considered the most powerful of all the domains, forming the de facto capital of the entire empire. Its ruler was satrap Xanderghul, a master in diplomacy and illusion magic.
  • Edasseril, the realm of envy, was the westernmost nation in Thassilon and suffered greatly from the tidal waves that destroyed the empire. Today a number of islands in northwest Varisia are all that remain of this domain. Edasseril was known for its backstabbing bureaucracy and its last ruler, Belimarius, was a heavy-set woman who came from humble beginnings and rose through the ranks through intrigue, blackmail and murder to finally claim the throne as a potent abjurer.
  • Eurythnia, the realm of lust, was ruled from the great mastaba in present-day Korvosa. Its runelord Sorshen was a beautiful enchanter, who based much of her power on slavery.
  • Gastash, the reams of gluttony, was located in the east, including today’s Willspin Mountains and the Hold of Belkzen. It was the most peaceful land, with fertile soil and plenty of food left after every harvest. Runelord Zutha was a master in necromancy, being an undead creature himself, who somehow managed to renew his body constantly to retain his human taste, touch and feel.
  • Haruka, the realm of sloth, was the smallest domain in Thassilon, located in the southeast. Its people were by nature extremely lazy and many worked as slavers to save themselves from the toil of manual labor. Runelord Krune relied on his mastery over conjuration to summon servants to do his bidding and to create what he needed.
  • Shalast, the realm of greed, comprised the central lands of Thassilon, including the present-day Cinderlands and the fertile lands to its south. Runelord Karzoug, master of transmutation, lived in an opulent palace on top of a mountain and constantly sought to expand his power, mostly to the west.

Mistress Tarlan congratulates Elvira on her knowledge. Then she proceeds to take the small busts and put them in a bag. “For your graduation, you will have to collect these seven statues before facing your final test. You are allowed to use your spells and other skills as you see fit, but remember that you will face your biggest challenge in the end, so you might want to save something for then. Use your wit first, then your magic! And don’t forget that in enchanting, sometimes less is more. When the bell rings, you can go through this door and start your exam. Good luck, girl. I hope to see you on the other side.” Heresta Tarlan exits through the same door that Elvira will have to take. Silence fills the room for what feels like an eternity, although in reality it might have been only fifteen minutes. Then the jingling of tiny bells resounds.

The tests Elvira has to pass, have been based on Challenge of the Champions, a series of fun scenarios in Dungeon magazine. I plundered five of the six ‘Challenge’ adventures for ideas, issues number 69, 80,91,108,138.

Elvira pushes the door open to start the exam. The first room is small; there is a table with a game of chess and there are two bags on the floor, a white one and a black one. A note on the table reads: “The first bust is in one of these bags. Choose wisely or face the consequences. The game of chess is not meant to be played, but it is of strategic importance to your decision.” Elvira’s permanent detect magic reveals that both bags radiate magic. They look like bags of holding.

There are seven white and six black pieces on the board. Since black is threatened, Elvira figures it has to be black’s turn, so she goes with the black bag. Her choice proves to be correct; inside the bag of holding she finds the first bust, the head of Belimarius, the runelord of envy.

Game of Chess:
Elvira got lucky choosing the correct bag, since she did not figure out the true hint. A chessboard has eight lines (numbered 1 to 8) and eight columns (numbered a to h). Following the white pieces on the board from line 1 upwards by reading the corresponding letter of each piece, would have yielded this result: 1-b, 2-a, 3-d and 5-b, 6-a, 7-g, spelling out that white is the ‘bad bag’. Doing the same for black would has resulted in ‘head bag’, indicating that the stone bust was in this bag. The white sack was actually a bag of devouring.

Elvira waits a while for the bell to ring again, but when it still hasn’t rung in five minutes, she just continues through the next door. The second room contains a 10 foot by ten foot pit of greenish fluid, above which a golden cage with vertical bars hangs from a metal chain on a pulley system that is connected to a crank next to the door. Turning the crank raises of lowers the cage, but there is no door or lid to the cage. On the ground are two 12 foot long poles. The small cage contains a slender pedestal on top of which the bust of Karzoug, runelord of greed, rests.

Delving into her knowledge of nature, Elvira can figure out that the fluid is acid, which will eat through the gold, but not through stone. By sliding the poles through the bars across the pit, Elvira can construct a bridge that will support the bust when she lowers the cage into the acid. The acid eats away the bottom of the cage, after which it can be pulled up over the bust. With mage hand Elvira picks it up without any problems. Then she proceeds to the exit.

The third room is an elongated room with a 90 foot long pool of water between the stone landings at both ends. In the middle of the 30’ wide channel are two stone islands, leaving only 10’ of water in between. Both islands hold a ferocious looking smoking dog with ebony fur and burning red eyes, chained to the wall. The chains give them full range of their islands plus five feet above the water. There is a small rowing boat with two oars at the start of the channel, which fits neatly into sloop-sized compartment. The far landing holds a similar niche. The rowing boat is made wood, but plated with metal on the outside. The far landing also sports a marble pedestal with one of the busts. Even from 85 feet away Elvira recognizes the bust of Alaznist, the runelord of wrath. She also identifies the dogs on the islands as Nessian warhounds, powerful canines from Hell who can spew fire and who have a weakness for cold.

When Elvira moves the rowing boat, she hears several clicks, which are followed by a louder click in the door behind her, locking it shut. She discovers five pressure buttons in the niche’s wall next to the rowing boat, which were pressed when the boat was in place. Peering across the water she spots five similar pressure buttons in the niche on the other side. The boat will have to be fitted in that niche to activate the opening mechanism of the far door, so Elvira will have to take it with her. A simple dimension door will get Elvira across, but not the boat, so the mage needs another solution.

Since she hasn’t used her magic yet, apart from a free mage hand, Elvira decides to access her spell arsenal. These hounds look particularly nasty and she’d hate to get caught between their teeth or in their fire breaths. She successfully casts a charm monster on the right dog and puts the left one to sleep with deep slumber. Then she boards the sloop and paddles to the other side, petting the charmed warhound on the head as she passes. She picks up the third bust and adds it to her bag.

The fourth room is small and contains a comfortable sofa across from a fireplace, which is decorated with the stuffed head of a bull. To the left of the sofa stands a sidetable, upon which rest a small mirror, a slender wand and two strips of paper, one covered with peculiar runes, the other with various letters. There is no sign of a bust. Detect magic shows the wand to radiate light magic. Elvira knows that wands often need a command word to work.

By reflecting the rune-covered strip of paper on the mirror, Elvira can see that they form into the words “AIM IT AT OX MOUTH”. To use the wand, she needs to find the command word. She remember reading about secret war correspondence, where messages were disguised in a similar fashion. By winding the strip of paper around the wand, the letters line up to read “command word is sihedron”. The sihedron rune in Thassilonian times was a seven-pointed star that represented the seven school of rune magic. Elvira aims the wand at the stuffed bull’s mouth and utters the command word ‘sihedron’, which activates a beam of light that strikes the ox’s mouth, causing a secret panel in the back of the hearth to open. The bust of Krune, the runelord of sloth, is inside.

The fifth room is small again and stands empty, safe for a flask’s stopper on the ground and an open doorway at the other side of the room, which leads into a corridor with walls made of mirrors. This seems to be the entry to a mirror maze.

El’s detect magic shows that there is a map of the maze engraved in the stone floor of the entry room, hidden with an illusion. The young mage makes a copy and uses it to navigate through the maze. The mirror wall are somewhat confusing, so Elvira keeps one hand in contact with the wall to remain oriented.

The center of the maze is clouded in a thick mist that assails Elvira with feelings of doubt, but she resists the effect and makes it through as fast as she can, reducing her contact time with the fog to a minimum. In the center of the maze Elvira finds a smoking bottle on a stand. She places the stopper on the flask, making the mist dissipate in a few seconds. Next to the smoking flask is the bust of Xanderghul, the runelord of pride. A door in the center room leads to a flight of stairs that goes down to another door.

The sixth room looks a bit like a laboratory. Three tables are positioned against the walls, one of them holds three sealed glass containers filled with different colored muck (blue, yellow and golden brown), another one holds two containers (bright green, drab green). Each of the glass containers is labeled with strange runes. On the third table Elvira finds a notebook, a glass spoon and an adamantine box, big enough to house a bust. There is a small peeping hole in the front. Peeping through with her permanent darkvision, Elvira can see that it contains the ugly head of Zutha, the runelord of gluttony. The notebook is empty, except for the first page, which contains a string of runes:

Elvira quickly figures out that these are made-up runes, but since there are 26 of them, she deduces they each represent one letter of our normal alphabet. With some imagination the letters even look like their normal counterparts. Using the alphabet Elvira is able to decipher the labels: azure fungus, yellow mold, russet mold, green slime, olive slime. She knows each of these substances from reading about them:

  • Azure Fungus: This strange blue fungus tends to grow on walls or other surfaces and typically has wispy strands that stretch out into the air from whatever surface the fungus covers like roots dangling in the air, twitching and swaying in an unseen breeze. Azure fungus is a rather dangerous hazard that as a byproduct of its growth builds up a charge of electricity that it releases in bursts into its surroundings.

    The azure fungus is sensitive to touch and discharges its electricity if contacted. The fungus discharges randomly. Azure fungus is immune to electricity and fire, but any amount of cold damage causes it to become inert for about an hour.

  • Yellow mold: If disturbed, a patch of this mold bursts forth with a cloud of poisonous spores, which weakens creatures. Fire destroys yellow mold, and sunlight renders it dormant.

  • Russet mold: This hazardous fungus can be found in dark, wet areas, and often grows in great abundance at the heart of a vegepygmy lair. When a creature approaches of a patch of russet mold, the fungus releases a cloud of spores. The spores weaken creatures to the point of death, after which he begins to vegetate. A day later, one of more fully grown vegepygmies burst from the cadaver.

    Exposure to sunlight halts the spores' growth. A patch of russet mold is unharmed by all effects save for acid, alcohol, or remove disease (or a similar magical effect, such as heal), all of which can kill a single patch of russet mold on contact. Sunlight doesn't kill the mold, but does render it dormant and harmless as long as the sunlight persists.

  • Green slime: This dungeon peril is a dangerous variety of normal slime. Green slime devours flesh and organic materials on contact and is even capable of dissolving metal. Bright green, wet, and sticky, it clings to walls, floors, and ceilings in patches, reproducing as it consumes organic matter. It drops from walls and ceilings when it detects movement (and possible food) below.

    Green slime devours flesh. On the first round of contact, the slime can be scraped off a creature (destroying the scraping device), but after that it is harder to remove. To remove festering green slime, it must be frozen, burned, or cut away (dealing damage to the victim as well). Anything that deals cold or fire damage, sunlight, or a remove disease spell destroys a patch of green slime. Wood or metal are also affected by green slime. It does not harm stone or glass.

  • Olive slime: Olive slime is a plantlike growth found in dark, damp underground areas. It is sticky, wet, and drab green in color. It clings to ceilings, floors and walls and consumes any organic matter it contacts. Olive slime can detect prey by vibration to a range of 30’ and drops from ceilings when it detects movement beneath it.

    When a patch of olive slime drops and attaches to a host, it secretes a numbing poison that makes its presence go almost unnoticed. An olive slime that has attached itself affects the thinking patterns of its victim, making the host’s main concern the feeding and protecting the olive slime (including keeping the creature hidden from any adventuring companions). This effect is similar to a charm monster spell. If a creature attempts to remove the olive slime from the host, the host either attacks that creature or attempts to flee. The only way to successfully break the link is to destroy the olive slime, destroy the host, or remove the olive slime from the host. A single patch of olive slime weakens a creature a bit more every day as it devours flesh, replacing skin and muscle tissue. Additionally, the host must double its normal food intake each day. When the host’s dies, its body transforms into a slime zombie.

    Olive slime can be burned, cut away (dealing an equal amount of damage to the host as well), or frozen. Anything that deals acid, cold, or fire damage, or a remove disease spell destroys a patch of olive slime.

With the glass spoon Elvira can apply green slime tot the adamantine box, which slowly eats away the metal. In about ten minutes the metal is sufficiently broken to take out the bust of Zutha, the runelord of gluttony. One more head remains.

The seventh room consists of a small antechamber and a larger room. A small table in the antechamber holds a piece of parchment, within a ring of letters “Come, human, die by sword or charm” is written. The room beyond is guarded by a large iron statue of a beautiful woman, holding a sword. Behind the statue is a display with the bust of Sorshen, runelord of lust.

Elvira identifies the statue as an iron golem, a construct that is beyond her skill to fight. This creature is highly resistant to weapon damage and immune to almost all magic. As long as Elvira remains in the antechamber, the statue does not move.

When trying to decipher the message on the parchment, Elvira is reminded of the lesson mistress Tarlan gave her when she came in: sometimes less is more. She has to read the message in the center of the note, using only the letters that are written in het ring. This excludes the letters B, E, H, I, S, U and Y. Dropping these from the sentence; it now reads: Com-man-d word or-c-arm. By speaking the command word orcarm, Elvira orders the iron golem to stand down. Now she can simply walk into the room and take the last bust.

Elvira enter the final room, a big chamber with a special summoning circle in the center, shaped like the sihedron, the seven-pointed star that represents the seven schools of (rune) magic. Dean Tarlan is waiting for Elvira in here in the company of headmaster Toff Ornelos and the deans of the other schools (Dean of Abjuration Julaei Cangi, Dean of Conjuration Messida Vost, Dean of Divination Norva Allesain, Dean of Evocation Salgar Irevotnin, Dean of Illusion Rombastle Falgeringer, Dean of Necromancy Orianna Delmore and Dean of Transmutation Elgin Togomor). The dean of enchantment congratulates her student on her success so far, but she confirms that the hardest test is still ahead: “By placing the busts of the seven runelords on the circle”, she says, “you will be able to activate its magic. Stand by whatever bust you choose and focus your energy to call forth a creature from another dimension. Next you will have to prove that you can master the creature.” Master Togomor also shoots Elvira a look of pride and satisfaction.

Elvira has no trouble reading the different runes. She places each bust on its corresponding rune. Next the circle starts humming with energy. Elvira has to concentrate to control the energy. After a few minutes the force of the energy suddenly increases. Still Elvira succeeds in keeping the waves of magic in check. When the energy builds to a climax, it gets harder to master the force, but Elvira keeps on top of things and with a few drops of sweat dripping down her head, she sees a winged shape appear before her in the middle of the circle. It is an Erinyes, a devil that looks like an angel with black wings. But in Elvira’s case, it is a male Erinyes. The young mage realizes how rare a male version of this creature is. The appearance of this Erinyes also elicits cries of admiration from the different deans behind her.

“Now, master what you summoned!” dean Tarlan repeats.

Elvira sees that the Erinyes looks anything but happy to be here. He draws his sword and flicks out his hand, throwing an unholy blight on the enchanter who summoned him. His wings flap as he lifts off the floor, preparing to engage. Elvira suffers the cold, cloying miasma of greasy darkness that tugs at her life force and leaves her sickened. Then she retorts with a spell of her own: hold monster. Devils like Erinyes possess a natural resistance against magic, but Elvira pushes through and her magic takes hold, freezing the dark angel in place an dropping him on the floor. Elvira immediately steps up and kicks his blade from his grasp. With her hand outstretched Elvira tries to make her spell last, when headmaster Toff Ornelos suddenly closes in. With a wave of his hand he dismisses the Erinyes and reaches his hand to Elvira: “I’ve seldom seen anyone pass an exam with so much ease, miss Campert, congratualions, you are now a graduate of the Acadamae.” The other deans follow to congratulate the girl and express their admiration at her success.

The last two to wish her luck are mistress Tarlan and master Togomor. They look especially pleased. Heresta Tarlan tells Elvira that she can keep her bag of holding and that she is always welcome in the Acadamae. She even asks the girl to consider becoming a teacher here in the future. Togomor replies that she is always welcome indeed, but if she wants to find him, she’ll have better luck in the castle than here.

Tonight Elvira will spend her last night in her room. Tomorrow she is free to go where she pleases. Maybe she’ll check in on that bard she met yesterday. Tenna’s B&B, that is where she can find him.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Two days ago

Exhilarating is probably the best word to describe Elvira’s feelings right now. Having just portrayed the queen in a well-received play was an overwhelming experience, an eye-opener as well. This was the first time she really got to experience the outside world in almost ten years. Yes, life in the Acadame of Korvosa often feels like prison or even worse. And now she was suddenly offered the chance to leave the bleak campus walls and have a taste of real life. It was daunting, for sure, but fantastic as well.

Being the only daughter to a wealthy merchant from Taldor, Elvira lost her mother at the young age of nine. Her father possessed a sharp mind for business, but had no clue how to raise a child on his own. When he learned from her tutors that she displayed a knack for the fine arts of magic, he sent her to distant Korvosa to start an education at the famed wizard school, the Acadamae, and easily put down the hefty enrollment fee. Elvira has been there since she was thirteen and successfully steered her way through nine years of hard training.

Possessing a fair amount of natural charm, Elvira chose the school that fitted her personality best – enchantment – to specialize in. She also showed a keen interest in illusion and transmutation, but shrunk back at anything that had to do with necromancy. Having survived the first three dreaded years in the Acadamae, in which students mostly perform slave labor for other students and the staff, she regained some independence when she finally started her actual studies. She spent a lot of time with her nose in books and scrolls, eagerly devouring every morsel of knowledge she could gather. She was especially intrigued with the workings of perception and memory and delved into fundamental philosophical questions about reality.

Her research skills did not go unnoticed and when Lady Eliasia Leroung asked to employ her in the university library – which did not belong to the Acadamae but was often used by its students - the request was granted. For over three years now Elvira has been combining her studies with a part-time job in the city’s center of bookish knowledge, which she absolutely loved, for it granted her a measure of freedom she had not felt since arriving in Korvosa. When King Eodred II died and all kinds of trouble assailed the city, however, the Acadamae closed its doors to the outside world, cutting off Elvira’s ‘escape route’ to the library.

Three years ago the pretty girl also caught the eye master Togomor, Dean of Transmutation. The old, corpulent and – honestly – plain ugly wizard launched a number of clumsy attempts at courting Elvira, who, due to her inability at reading people took some time to figure out his true intentions. She was obviously troubled by his interest: the feelings she had for him came closer to repulsion. Still she was smart enough to realize the importance of not upsetting such an important dean and used her diplomatic talent to ward off his wooing, which actually didn’t prove too hard. Dean Togomor was extremely confident when it came down to his mastery over magic, but he was equally unsure in his aptitude for the game of love. So Elvira allowed him to pay her compliments and treated him kindly in return, while keeping him from truly acting on his feelings. Their relationship never grew past a clumsy game of flirtation and Togomor seemed happy with that. Elvira also learned to use her ‘quick eyes’ to spot him from a distance and avoid him when possible.

When the Acadamae closed itself off from the rest of the city after king Eodred’s death, Elvira was confined to campus once more. The school’s focus also drifted from teaching, as many professors seemed preoccupied with the tenuous situation in Korvosa and started cancelling classes or kept forgetting to drown their trainees in homework. Most students enjoyed this chance at laziness for once, but not Elvira. She took this time to experiment with a spell she had been working on for quite a while. Her path of trial and error ended in the latter, as things went wrong, badly! Elvira drifted between life and death for a few weeks and does not remember much of this period, except for the fact that she was cared for in the temple of Asmodeus, not exactly her first choice of deity. When she finally returned to the Acadamae a couple of weeks ago, she was still in need of recovery, so she got a pass which allowed her to skip classes. This time she allowed herself to enjoy the spare time as well, dreading to jump back into her research after her failed experiment.

And then, ten days ago, another opportunity presented itself: the castle wanted to launch a theatre play that would recount the events that had plagued Korvosa in the last four months and Elvira was explicitly requested to portray the queen in this production. She knows that Dean Togomor has recently made it to court mage and seneschal in the castle, so she realizes that this request must have come from him. Since Elvira had always felt an affinity for theatre, she jumped at the chance to perform on stage for the first time in her life and she turned out to be really good at it. For ten days she was allowed out of the Acadamae for rehearsals, and even though she did not form a close bond with any of her fellow actors, she enjoyed this freedom tremendously. Today she was treated to the applause of hundreds of spectators and it was an absolute kick! She had even made a new admirer, who was a lot more attractive than Dean Togomor. His name was Quint, an actor who had starred in the recent hit The Passion of Saint Alika, and he wanted to see her again. If only he understood how strict Acadamae rule was: you can’t just walk in and out whenever you feel like it. Even today, while the rest of the cast will go into the city to celebrate, Elvira will have to return to campus. Her tieflings guards have already arrived to accompany her home.

When Elvira steps into her room at the Acadamae she finds the chamber filled with flowers. Seated in her chair is Dean Togomor, who claps his hands: “Congratulations”, he smiles midly, “you were wonderful.”

“Ow,” Elvira mumbles as she picks out a flower, “you overwhelm me, I am flattered, but I don’t deserve this.”

“Don’t be shy,” Togomor counters, “You were the star of the show. The queen thought so as well. We watched the show from the castle with the aid of magic. Live screening, I’m sure there is money in it. Anyhow, how do you feel about all of this?”

“Well, I have to admit, it was great.”

“That it was, sweet Elvira. And having spent so much time in the castle lately, away from the Acadamae grounds, I have rediscovered how nice it feels to have a change of scenery for once. I can only imagine that you feel the same, the enclosure of campus life gets to you after so many years, doesn’t it?”

“It does, it was nice to get out, even if my tiefling ‘bodyguards’ were always there to escort me back as soon as rehearsals were over.”

“Well, as you know, I have been watching you for a while and to be honest, I believe that you have learned everything you can in here. I’ve consulted with your Dean, mistress Tarlan, and headmaster Ornelos, and we all came to the same conclusion: you are an excellent student, you’ve made superb progression and you are ready to graduate.”

“By the gods,” Elvira gulps, “graduate? I still have over half a year to go before I finish my ten years.”

“You do, but it is not uncommon for students to take their exam during their tenth year, rather than at the end of it. Let’s say that having to complete the ride is usually a sign of mediocrity, a category that doesn’t fit you in the slightest.”

“And when would I have to do the tests?”

“Tomorrow, there is no reason to postpone the inevitable.”

Elvira’s mouth drops. “Tomorrow? Tomorrow? But I have to prepare, study. I have to get ready.”

Togomor chuckles. “You’ve been preparing and studying for almost ten years, child, you are ready. Just bring your gear and study whatever spells you deem wise.”

Elvira slinks over to Togomor, laying her hand on his. “And is there something you can tell me? To prepare? What challenges will I face?”

Togomor awkwardly puts his own hand on Elvira’s. “I cannot tell you, my dear. The test has to remain a secret, you know that. Moreover, it’s your dean who sets the challenges. Each exam is tailored specifically to the talents of the student taking it, although summoning a creature from Hell is always part of it.”

“But summoning is not exactly my strong suit. I only know a second level summoning spell that can call forth a measly lemure devil. I doubt that will suffice to impress the jury.”

“Don’t worry about your summoning spells,” Togomor reassures Elvira, “you’ll have to perform a summoning ritual, that’s true, but it won’t require one of your summoning spells.” Then the Dean of Transmutation gets up. “You’ll have to excuse me now, duty calls. I have to get back to her majesty. I’ll tell her you appreciated the flowers.”

“Please do, and Dean Togomor, thank you for believing in me.”

The seneschal gives Elvira a sheepish smiles before whispering the words of a teleportation spell and disappearing into thin air. Elvira takes some time to gather het bearings and then starts flipping through her spellbook, wondering which spells she will prepare tomorrow.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Due to tensions in the group we’ve had to say goodbye to Quint’s player, which was a hard decision because I’ve been playing with him for two decades now. B., if you’re reading this, I wish you well. On the other hand we were able to reconnect with an excellent player from earlier campaigns who has agreed to join our group and who has graciously offered his house as a place to play. Or as he phrased it last night: Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in. D., welcome back to the fold. He’ll be playing Elvira Campert, the beautiful Acadamae student who portrayed the queen in the mock theatre play Korvosa always rises. Yesterday we played a solo session to set his character up. Next time she’ll be introduced to the rest of the party.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
OatsMalone wrote:
So this dilemma turned into something great. The party took a pretty unexpected tact: they sympathized with Girrigz' rage and asked how they could help the wererat population in Korvosa, and noted that the plague could be the stimulus to their current state of affairs that they needed to change their standing in the city. They released Girrigz to set up a meeting with the wererat elders, and the party is dedicated to finding a way that the wererats can contribute to the city's health.

In my campaign Girrigz agreed to try and lead as many rats out of the city as possible, reducing the chance of spreading the disease somewhat and thus saving a couple hundreds of citizen lives.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's been quiet for a while, but here is something to look forward to:
- mysterious girl,
- same girl and her secret admirer.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Too bad we haven't heard from you in a while, Inspectre. I hope you're well.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

27 Arodus 4708

That morning Balian, Puk and Quint enjoy the finer things in life. After an elaborate hearty breakfast they have their tired muscles and aching backs rubbed by an experienced masseuse and take a long, scented bath. They feel totally relaxed when they join Sjo at the small temple of Shelyn and accompany Lady Merisse Bromathan and her son to the rebel base in the Gray District. Illrem Bromathan is very happy to see his family safe and is relieved to learn that his brother is still alive, even though he is locked up in Longacre’s deepest dungeons.

The companions can use Illrem’s improvised study as their own conference room. They amass all the facts they know about the Acadamae, where according to the information they gathered, Ileosa’s infernal contract was forged.

Prestigious and highly esteemed, the famed Acadamae trains some of the finest wizards in all of Golarion. Isolated from the rest of the city and the world, the faculty opens its doors but once a year to outsiders, during the notorious Breaching Festival. The school attracts students from all over the world, as far away as distant Geb, and even - to the annoyance of the far-more ancient colleges there - Cheliax. The ten-year education is said to cost hands full of money, so only the privileged few make it to its classrooms. The Acadamae trains specialists in all eight schools of magic, but its primary focus lies in conjuration. Regardless of an apprentice’s focus every student at the college must pass a grueling exam in conjuration in order to graduate. Thus, the college does not allow its students to forsake learning of conjuration. Despite its towering tuition only seven out of ten students actually survive their decade of instruction. Rumors speak of those attempting to quit the school becoming test subjects for students of necromancy, but to date no one has verified these stories.

Nearly a town unto itself, the Acadamae provides its students and faculty with everything they need to live. The only people normally allowed within the Acadamae either teach at or attend the college. Instructors live in apartment suites within the walls for free, while the rent for students’ tenement flats and studios are included in their already expensive tuition. Students rarely venture outside the Acadamae’s imposing walls. Those who go out do so in groups as part of their studies, to shop at the Golden Orery, consult the Leroung library or attend service at the temple of Asmodeus. On rare occasions, students slink into one of the many taverns in the city to relieve stress, although it is far more common for them to sneak alcohol or drugs back onto campus. Since the state of emergency was declared in Korvosa following Eodred’s passing, even fewer people have left the school grounds. While most of the schools work together in relative harmony, an increasing animosity between students of conjuration and necromancy has led to several duels over the last couple of years. Since they are strictly against school policy, these magical combats also take place outside of the faculty walls. Students who attend the Acadamae usually have no interest in doing good works. Generally, they seek power at almost any cost. Many become swayed by the honeyed words of the devils they summon, and most of these lose any morality they had and slip inexorably into evil.

Shrouded in secrecy, the campus’s 30-foot-high walls only barely conceal the grand Hall of Summoning. This imposing building is one of the largest structures in all of Korvosa. Rebuilt only a quarter-century ago, the Hall of Summoning has only recently returned to full use as the primary locus of instruction. All students receive at least some tutoring at the Hall of Summoning, and it is in the massive, central summoning chamber that students must face their graduation exam. Surrounding this grandiose edifice are a number of ‘smaller’ buildings, including a hall for every school of magic. Each of them houses classrooms specially designed to facilitate their area of study. For the most part, these buildings architecturally reflect the nuances of the schools they house.

As the companions have already witnessed on several occasions a great number of imps make their homes on the Acadamae’s campus. These imps frequently take to the air, flitting about above the campus and across Korvosa. They tend to travel in groups, as the city’s pseudodragon population views them as foul representations of evil and petty sadism.

Each year, as spring turns to summer, the Acadamae of Korvosa holds the Breaching Festival: a day on which a dozen hopefuls try to enter the famed magical university’s Hall of Wards by whatever means they can, and in doing so earn extravagant wealth and the praise and admiration of an entire city. Yet no one has emerged victorious from the Breaching in over a century and a half, and a great many contestants have gone missing entirely after trying to bypass the school’s defenses. The dean of abjuration at the Acadamae sends out the invitations to the contestants. The top students from each of the seven other schools receive one, as do the leaders of the thieves’ guild and four other worthy candidates chosen at random. In addition to the invited participants, the annual event draws hundreds of onlookers, who fill the Acadamae’s grounds and stare in wonder at the secretive college’s otherwise closed campus. Students manning the gates prevent beggars and riffraff from entering the grounds, and as a rule no human child shorter than a dwarf may enter. These visitors are only allowed into the yard, where they witness the introduction of the participants to the festival and attend the start of the competition. The onlookers are not permitted to loiter about freely.

Since the first festival in 4544 only one competitor has ever succeeded in passing the test. Only 7 years into the contest, Dyson Fordyce (the fourth son of the lord at that time) managed to step half a shoe beyond the building’s threshold, granting him a small fortune. Dyson donated half his winnings to his father, allowing House Fordyce to rise to the status of Great House (a title it only held for a century), and used the other half to ensure for himself a life of quiet luxury in the hills outside Veldraine. The next 157 never saw a new victor. Every year in which no one succeeds in breaching the Hall of Wards, the prize grows by a thousand gold sails, filling the current purse with over 150,000 gold sails.

The school of abjuration’s building looks relatively mundane when compared to the others, but its plain exterior hides the best-guarded building in Korvosa. Even the Mint of Abadar’s myriad defenses pale in comparison to those in place around and within the Hall of Wards. As such it is believed that the Acadamae’s biggest secrets are hidden in this building.

Armed with this information the companions realize that there are two more avenues to gather more intel: the Fordyce family and the thieves’ guild. Contacting the first source won’t be a problem, since the companions spent just last night in the company of one of the Fordyce nobles. Getting in touch with the Cerulean Society will prove harder, though. The companions have never dealt with this secret organization in person and have to rely on the rumors they know. The Cerulean Society is the only ‘legally recognized guild’ in this otherwise guildless city. They pay a hefty vice tax which allows them to conduct activities that border on the edge of the law. In exchange for this significant stream of tax income the city provides the guild immunity from prosecution as long as none of the crimes committed turn violent. Guild activities include a strong protection racket as well as drug trade. They also deal in sensitive information.

The thieves’ guild is not always the most powerful underworld group in the city. On occasion, a larger or more powerful group rises up and challenges the reigning thieves’ guild. The resulting gang wars pit the entrenched guild and its allies against the potential usurper and its supporters. This actually benefits the city, as it keeps both the Cerulean Society and its potential rivals from becoming too powerful.

The guild as it exists today is rumored to be in somewhat of a downward spiral. The current guild master, a man known as Boule, struggles to keep the organization from collapsing. More brute than brain Boule is respected by few, but feared by many. The man is noted for his bad temper and iron fist discipline. He’s a bad drunk with a strong desire for the mild stimulant from the Storval Plateau, Qat. His rule in the guild leans heavily upon his sense for sadism and cruelty. Never one to shy away from a fight, Boule can crush a man’s skull with his bare hands.

Some believe that Boule’s incompetence to lead is a clear sign that there is another power behind his throne. The name that is sometimes whispered is that of Glorio Arkona, whom the companions have dealt and allied with before. In their earlier transactions with the illusive noble from Old Korvosa he has alluded to underworld contacts himself, so the thought of him being the true ‘godfather’ of Korvosa’s Cerulean Society might not even be so farfetched.

The party decides to approach Glorio Arkona once more, but first they swing by House Zenderholm again, hoping to gain an audience with Lord Anaster Fordyce. Unfortunately the man is out for business, but his daughter Belinda kindly receives the heroes and turns out to be well versed in her father’s ancestral history, a trait not uncommon among nobles. Belinda confirms that ‘uncle Dyson’, as her ancestor’s younger brother is still called in the family, won the Breaching Festival 157 years ago, in 4551, when the competition was only seven years old. Dyson Fordyce was an Acadamae graduate who had specialized in illusion magic. He set a foot over the Hall of Wards’ threshold, thus technically fulfilling the stipulations of the contest rules, even though he never actually entered the guarded hall itself. Since his victory the rules for the Breaching Festival were tightened: they now require someone to actually enter the Hall through the front door and exit at the back. These stricter conditions have ensured that no one has won again.

Quint senses that Belinda is not revealing everything she knows and prods her to continue. It takes some subtle help from Sjo to get her to talk. Belinda admits there is more, but she swears the companions to secrecy. Uncle Dyson never actually won. Being a cum laude graduate in illusions, he somehow managed to use his guile to make it seem like he went over the threshold, but he never really did. His trickery worked and that is how he won. So, Belinda concludes, in the 163 years since the competition started, no one has ever managed to triumph, not even Dyson Fordyce.

The party’s next stop is House Arkona. The companions use a dimension door to get into Old Korvosa, so they can avoid the Gray Maiden patrol on the bridge. Lord Glorio is as hospitable as ever. He has heard rumors, he smiles, of remarkable things that happened in the city during the last few days and compliments his guests on these achievements. Sjo returns the compliment by expressing his admiration for how well Lord Arkona is always informed.

“In fact”, the healer states, “we have come to take you up on your kind offer of help and possibly use this intelligence network of yours. You see, we’d like to learn more about the Acadamae and ways to get into this secluded bastion of magic. Survivors of the Breaching Festival would be a great source of information and if we understand correctly, the thieves’ guild sends a competitor every year. No doubt their century and a half of experience must have amounted to a great pool of knowledge. Is there any way in which we could benefit from this know-how? Could you get us in touch with someone within the guild?”

Glorio smiles confidently. He will contact his sources and arrange a meeting, he states. He will let the companions know when it is set up. Balian says he can leave a message at Tenna’s B&B. Quint almost spoils the party’s good relations with Lord Arkona by indirectly suggesting that he is the thieves’ guild real kingpin, earning his party members’ angry glares in exchange. The bard’s diplomacy was definitely off today, maybe the perfumes of this morning’s bath got to his head. Fortunately Arkona ignores this remark and merrily sends his guests off.

Another dimension door gets the party back to the mainland, where they reconsider their options for finding out more about infernal contracts. The temple of Asmodeus is still under lock-down and our friends seriously doubt whether priestess Tyresha will still be in place. Although she did not take part in their raid two nights ago, she was partly involved by instructing the Gray Maidens at the door to let the mysterious ‘inquisitor’ and his bodyguards pass. Since the queen will be most displeased by the destruction of her blood clone operation, she might very well direct her rage at Tyresha, lacking the real ‘culprits’. They finally decide to go with Balian’s earlier suggestion to seek advice outside the city and head to Kaer Maga instead. This way they won’t risk more exposure inside Korvosa.

28 Arodus 4708

The next morning Quint uses his last scroll of teleportation to zap the party to Kaer Maga. They make for The Flame that Binds, the magic shop where they conducted some business before. Its owner Carthagos is a powerful magician of his own right. Being a bloatmage he is definitely not an Acadamae graduate, but he might still know more about infernal contracts in general or be able to refer the companions to someone else in Kaer Maga he does. They are lucky, because the obese man is actually quite knowledgeable in planar matters. If the visitors promise him more business, he freely offers them what he knows about deals with devils.

An agreement with a contract devil can only be broken in two ways. When a contract is signed, a second copy manifests; one copy is retained by the devil and the other is given to the mortal. Mortals are free to do whatever they please with the lengthy, obviously evil documents, while contract devils typically keep active contracts with them at all times. Should both copies of a contract be reunited, they can be destroyed. Any effects caused by the contract are canceled or reversed and the mortal's soul goes to its normal place of rest after death and can be resurrected as normal. Merely absconding with both copies of the contract is not enough to break it - as long as the copies exist, the signer's soul remains forever damned.

Alternatively, a second mortal might be allowed to adopt the terms of a contract - with its soul replacing that of the original contract signer after death. The mortal who seeks to pay the debt of another must contact the contract devil who holds the relevant contract. The contract devil has a choice of whether or not to allow one mortal to pay another's debt, but values religious and good-aligned souls over others. Shrewd manipulators, contract devils often only agree to allow one mortal to pay another's debt in return for some service or proof of worth. If a contract devil agrees to accept another soul in payment, the original contract signer retains all of the benefits of the contract, but is released from damnation and may be resurrected as normal. The new signer, however, receives no benefits, cannot be returned to life upon dying, and spends an eternity in Hell after death.

Carthagos also reveals more on contract devils, also known as phistophili. They are immune to fire and poison and possess a high resistance to magic and weapons that are not enchanted with ‘holy’ magic. When confronting one of them, the opponent had better prepare!

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sorshen's tomb under Korvosa.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As Puk and Balian walk through the North Point District, they notice Ileosa’s blue dragon on top of the Longacre Building. Questioning one of the workers on Jeggare Circle, they learn that this creature has been here since it was revealed to the city yesterday, and is now apparently guarding the courthouse/prison. Balian rewards the worker with one gold sail. Afterwards they complete their trip to Third Street, where the Bromathan residence is situated. The house is surrounded by a stone wall, leaving only the iron wrought gate to peek inside. Walking past, Puk and Balian see two Gray Maidens standing guard on the balcony above the front doors. Since hanging around the gate would quickly arouse suspicion, the two scouts decide there is nothing much to do for them around here anymore. They do remember, however, that Lady Zenobia Zenderholm, the Hanging Judge, lived in Fourth Street, and establish that the garden of her house actually partially adjoins House Bromathan’s backyard. Maybe they can gain more information from the Zenderholm family. As they head over there, they are surprised to see two Gray Maidens guarding the judge’s residence as well. They don’t recall having heard that this family has been placed under house arrest, so they assume that these guards simply act as ‘security’. Balian informs about judge and learns that she is at work in the courthouse. She won’t be home for a couple of hours. The two companions take their leave, glad to have gleaned from the guards’ behavior and accent that they were not blood clones, but real humans and real Korvosans to boot. Then the two young heroes rejoin their friends.

After his refreshing conversation with Dame Nesia’s double (or rather original), Elvira Campert, Quint joins Sjo at the old courthouse, close to the temple of Asmodeus. Sjo hasn’t done any scouting yet, since his limited vision of 60 feet makes that difficult. While Quint informs him how his meeting with the actress went, Balian and Puk arrive and report on their findings as well. Spying on the temple seems quite pointless too: the building is obviously closed to any visitors. A young man is denied entry by the Gray Maidens at the doors and when the companions intercept him, he claims that he couldn’t get in because the star-shaped building was shut for ‘temple business’. The youngster looks like a student from the Acadamae and his accent clearly betrays his Chelaxian background.

With their scouting mission over, Quint takes his friends to Tenna’s B&B, where he booked a room earlier. The owner is a great cook and conjures up a delicious supper for the party. Puk and Balian rent a room as well, and order a scented bath and massage session for tomorrow morning. Sjo is the only one who won’t be staying here, preferring to sleep with his fiancée at the temple of Shelyn. He is envious of the fact this his friends will have a personal valet here, named Bertol.

Around nine in the evening the party returns to House Zenderholm, hoping the find the judge at home now. The streets, which have more or less reclaimed their normal liveliness during daytime hours, are still very quiet at night. They companions make sure not to encounter any patrols and quickly find their way to Fourth Street. Two new Gray Maidens stand watch at the front doors now, but they do not keep our friends from knocking. Zenobia’s husband, Anaster Fordyce, answers and heartily invites the party inside. The complete family is gathered in the grand salon, judge Zenobia, her daughter Belinda, and her two sisters, Valesca and Almira, both spinsters who are in charge of the household. Quint accepts the offer of a cup of tea and asks to speak to Lady Zenderholm in private, while Puk and Balian agree to something stronger and entertain the rest of the family with funny anecdotes and jokes.

Zenobia takes Quint to her study. The bard quickly deduces that the judge still has her heart in the right place: she regrets that the queen has taken justice into her own hands, but does her best to stay on as head judge, to ensure that the law is still upheld as much as possible. Quint is quite open about his own recent findings, explaining what he discovered in the Temple of Asmodeus and revealing the Shoanti’s plans to wage war on Korvosa. He also confesses to freeing the Leroung family from house arrest, admitting that this endeavor did not go quite as planned and resulted in the assassination of Lady Leroung. Now he would like to extract Lady Bromathan and her son as well, but he wants to avoid bloodshed. Lady Zenderholm agrees: the Bromathans are the perfect example of the Queen’s self-righteous conduct. Although no real charges have been brought up to accuse the core family, they have been detained for being allied to House Endrin and the Sable Company. Lord Valdur IV, the head of the house, pines away in a cell beneath the Longacre Building, while his wife and son have been confined to their villa. And all of this without a fair trial! Lady Zenderholm supports Quint’s plans to free her neighbors, especially when she learns that Illrem Bromathan himself requested this. She would even let the companions use her house to do this extraction, as long as they do not betray her involvement to the Gray Maidens. The two guards at the front door saw four men come in and they are expecting four men to come out again! Still, the Zenderholm house can provide an advantage. Since Zenobia’s study is situated at the back of the house on the first floor, the window offers a great view over the dividing wall to the Bromathan residence. Lord Valdur’s and Lady Merisse’s bedroom is at the back of the Bromathan house, so Quint can clearly see their window from here. When Lady Merisse appears to draw the curtains, the bard casts message to magically whisper to the woman in the adjacent house. After her initial surprise, she confirms that she is eager to get out. The fact that her brother-in-law Illrem requested her rescue sets her at ease even more and she is overjoyed to hear that her husband (even though he is imprisoned in Longacre) and her daughter Aurelia (whom the party saved from the temple of Asmodeus) are still alive. She says that her son is in his own bedroom at the front of the house. There are eight Gray Maiden guarding the residence, but no devils. Quint tells the woman to sit tight; he will try to smuggle her and her son out without the guards even finding out!

Quint gathers his friends and leaves the Zenderholm house. He casts two invisibility spheres, one on himself and Puk, and another one on Balian and Sjo. The party now makes for Third Street, where they can stand in front of the iron gate without being seen. The son’s room is next to the balcony where two Gray Maidens are standing watch, so the heroes will have to proceed with caution. Using ghost sound inside the boy’s room, Quint lures the lad to the window, so he can cast another message. The bard whispers to young Valdur that he will be rescued at the behest of his uncle Illrem. While Sjo and Balian remain in the street in front of the house, ready to come to their friends’ aid if anything should go wrong, Puk and Quint use dimension door, one of Quint’s new fourth level spells, to teleport into young Valdur’s room. A second dimension door takes them to Lady Merisse. Quint renews his invisibility sphere, to include Valdur and his mother, and with Puk’s cloak of the pixie king, they can dimension door back to Balian and Sjo. From there they retreat to the temple of Shelyn, which is the closest safe place they know. Sjo’s fiancée Larella is happy to provide the saved nobles with a bed for the night. Sjo will remain there as well to watch over them, while his friends go back to Tenna’s B&B, to spend the night in a soft featherbed.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd go with the Reaper dwarven wizard as well, 77075: Khael Stonekindle, Dwarf Wizard. With the plastic Bones mini, you'll be able to cut back his hat easily to make it look like the flat-topped brimmed hat. The pipe could be recut into a flask-like thing, so you'd have the alchemist element covered as well. The staff can be retrimmed as well, although I don't know what is appropriate for the character.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Christopk-K wrote:

We'll start CotCT soon. I want to get some more background on the city my character spent his whole life living in. On the other hand I want to avoid spoilers at all cost.

Would it be consideres "save" reading? Or could I partially read it?

The Guide to Korvosa has been designed so that it is safe to read for players, except for the last chapter, which contains the secrets of the city for the GM only.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, there is not much official information on the Cerulean Society, which means it is open for your interpretation. There are several pages on the obsidian portal network that describe the thieves' guild with a mix of official material and homebrew stuff:

There seems to be a concensus in these pages that the word 'Cerulean' refers to the blue uniforms the gang members wear.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After having found out the basics on infernal contracts from Keppira d’Bear, the companions realize that they need to learn more about these devilish dealings if they want to stand a chance against Ileosa. The temple of Asmodeus is their best bet, but the place will be in state of alert after last night’s raid, so getting more information from someone like priestess Tyresha will prove very tricky right now. The Acadamae probably houses a fair number of scholars who have a keen interest in the planes, but as the place is off limits to the public and closely guarded, it will prove even trickier than the temple of the Dark Prince. The Leroung library used to have a chamber dedicated to planar studies, but when the party was there two nights ago, they were told that imps had overrun the room and destroyed all tomes referring to Hell. So this is not a viable option either.

They call in professor Sirtane Leroung to ask her who in the city were regular users of the library’s planar section. Unfortunately, she states that only Asmodeans and residents from the Acadamae frequented this particular reading room. So who else in Korvosa might know more about infernal contracts? The various devils themselves perhaps, but how would you go about getting them to talk? No, it feels like Korvosa will not offer this information freely. Balian suggests using the teleport scroll to go to another city to gather this knowledge: Janderhoff, Kaer Maga or even somewhere in Cheliax itself. Quint rejects Balian’s idea, at least for the moment. The bard proposes to stake out the temple of Asmodeus to find out how things evolve there. He still sees the temple as his best option and feels it would be unwise to simply dismiss this possibility without making sure it truly is impossible.

The bard also remembers Illrem Bromathan’s plea for help to free his sister-in-law and nephew from their home, where they have been placed under house arrest. Since the party’s first ‘rescue mission’ at the Leroung house didn’t end so well, it seems like a good idea to stake out the Bromathan villa as well, before actually moving in to free the prisoners. Illrem provides the heroes with a sketch of the house and looks pleased that the party will heed his personal request, as the truly fears for the safety of his kin.

The companions decide to use the rest of the day for scouting. Sjo and Quint will watch the temple of Asmodeus, while Puk and Balian will keep their eyes on the Bromathan villa. Traveling to these two destinations will take them to the northwest and northeast of the city respectively. This means they have to part ways at the Gold Market, so they might as well have dinner there first in one of the restaurants. After all, it is no fun staking out a place on an empty stomach.

The Gold Market is unexpectedly booming with activity. A large crowd has gathered in front of a podium. Asking around, the companions find out that there will be a free theatrical performance, with free food and drink to boot. It looks like Ileosa is working hard on her public relations with another offering of bread and games. Deciding that they don’t mind paying for a good meal, the companions find a great spot on the terrace of the exclusive King’s Table restaurant, from where they have a good, albeit somewhat distant view on the stage. Only moments later the play begins.


Korvosa always rises

Act 1

Scene 1

The opening scene shows Eodred’s harem: beautiful girls who keep the king occupied. After an exotic dance a smart-dressed man with a haughty attitude walks in and sends the girls away. It is the seneschal. The kings asks how his people are doing. Kalepopolis assures him that all is well and that his subjects are happy. The king does not need to worry, his seneschal has everything under control.

Balian recognizes the actor who plays Kalepopolis. It is Marco Ebhart, who was part of the Passion of Saint Alika cast, in which he played the Shoanti assassin who gave Alika her first vision.

Scene 2

Kalepopolis retreats to his chambers where he meets up with the Chelish ambassador Amprei. Amprei offers the seneschal a painting of a nude young woman, which Kalepopolis likes very much. He is especially fond of her boyish looks. Amprei claims it is a self-portrait of an up-and-coming new artist, named Trinia Sabor. Knowing the seneschal’s love of the arts, he is willing to introduce the two in exchange for his help. He wants to have the king sign a new decree, forcing poor people who can’t pay their taxes into slavery, as is the custom for halflings in Cheliax. Slavery will offer great business opportunities, as will the property market: slaves will be forced out of their homes and these empty houses will be up for grabs.

Kalepopolis likes the deviousness of Amprei’s plans, but he seriously doubts Eodred will sign such a decree: the kind-hearted king loves his people too much. Amprei says he has already thought of that. He calls in a woman whom he introduces as Lady Andaisin, high priestess of Urgathoa. She can brew a potion that will make the king do anything they want. They will simply have one of his harem girls slip the potion to him. Kalepopolis is easily convinced, but says they will have to wait until after the Founding Festival tomorrow, for the can hardly send a drugged king into the city to greet its citizens.

Scene 3

During his ride through the city on Founding Day, the king sees how a young noblewoman from Cheliax gets thrown off her horse and he saves her from being trampled. He learns her name, Ileosa, and offers to take her to his castle to have her rest. A mother with a small ginger-haired child watches as the king and the noblewoman ride off. “She is beautiful, isn’t she, mother?” the boy says. “She is, Tommy, she truly is”, the mother replies.

There is something strangely familiar about Ileosa’s voice and countenance. Studying her closer Puk sees that she looks and sounds exactly like Dame Nesia, the blood clone experiment who lived with the companions for a time before she exploded in a pool of blood. This woman must be Nesia’s original!

Scene 4

Kalepopolis is talking to Amprei and Andaisin. The seneschal is furious: Eodred has sent his harem away because he is infatuated with this new girl. The king has also decided to take a more active interest in ruling the city to impress his new conquest. Without the harem the conspirators won’t be able to slip the king the potion. Amprei admits this is a great setback. Now they will have to find another way to force the poor out of their houses, so he can buy big building blocks cheaply. But Kalepopolis needn’t worry, Andaisin has more tricks up her sleeve. After all, the best weapon against a woman with a gentle soul, is a woman with an evil one.

Scene 5

Eodred and Ileosa get married. The king promises to be a good husband to her and an even better king to his people. Naturally, he is concerned for his wife’s safety and he gives her a personal bodyguard, Sabina Merrin and a handful of queen’s guards, called the Gray Maidens.

Act 2

Scene 1

Kalepopolis has another meeting with Amprei and Andaisin. The seneschal is malcontent because he has lost a lot of influence over the last five years, since Eodred and Ileosa got married. The queen has made Eodred a better man and king, thwarting the conspirators’ plans. Amprei whole-heartedly agrees, although he has the funds to buy up land in Korvosa’s poorer quarters, prices are still too high. Andaisin says Urgathoa has the answer: the king will have to be killed. She takes out a potion bottle with a big white skull painted on it. But who will give it to the king? Kalepopolis smiles, he knows just the person. After all, it is high time the king adds his portrait to the gallery of monarchs.

Scene 2

Eodred and Ileosa are in their chambers, joking about what pose the king should assume on his portrait. Eodred wants Ileosa to be on the portrait with him, but she kindly refuses, saying tradition demands a state portrait of the monarch by himself. Then Kalepopolis interrupts, walking in with the artist, Trinia Sabor. Ileosa kindly greets her, but Trinia scoffs at her and demands to be alone with his majesty: there can be no distractions.

The woman playing Trinia looks familiar as well. Quint recognizes her as one of the Exemplary Execrables’ former actresses. He even recalls her name, Greta. She was the young girl who portrayed the vessel for Donodarr’s seed in Lucian Lycan’s (Lick’s) play The Hell Mother. Several of the other cast members belong to Greta’s gang of drug-using friends, whom the companions met as well.

Scene 3

Ileosa is talking to Kalepopolis. She is concerned for the king. Trinia has kept him locked up in his room for weeks now. Ileosa feels her husband should come out for some fresh air, the current situation is not healthy for him and it has also kept him from doing his royal duties. Kalepopolis wipes the queen’s worries under the rug. Eodred is just getting older, he claims, and Korvosa does not need him to exert himself; Kalepopolis is perfectly capable of taking those heavy duties off the king’s hands. Ileosa disagrees, she wants to take Eodred out for a walk on the terrace, but Kalepopolis blocks her way. “Not yet,” he grunts, “be patient, my queen, Trinia will finish her business soon enough!”

After Ileosa leaves, Andaisin crawls out from behind the curtain. She asks Kalepopolis why the king still isn’t dead. The seneschal says he might have misjudged Eodred’s charm, he fears the silly painter has fallen in love with the king.

Scene 4

Trinia puts the final touches on Eodred’s portrait. She walks up to the king and gives him a hug. Then she tries to kiss him, but he wards her off, saying those frivolous days are long behind him. He is happily married now. Trinia is obviously disappointed and asks the king if they can at least toast to the finished portrait. Eodred accepts. Trinia secretly pulls out the poison and pours it in Eodred’s drink. Then they empty their glasses and Eodred drops to the floor. The king is dead.

Scene 5

Ileosa runs into the throne room and falls to her knees, crying because her husband is dead. Kalepopolis follows a few moments later, saying “so it goes”. People grow old and then they die. Then he sits down on the throne, shouting: “The king is dead, long live the king!” As Ileosa looks up in despair, he smirks at her. If she is a good girl, he might find some room in his bed for her. “Never”, Ileosa screams in reply. The seneschal jumps to his feet again and draws his weapon. He claims that in ancient civilizations, wives joined deceased kings in the grave. Maybe it is time to revive these customs. He walks up to Ileosa threateningly, but Sabina Merrin shows up just in time to parry his blade. She wounds Kalepopolis badly and the man flees, swearing this is not over yet.

Act 3

Scene 1

Amprei and Andaisin are toasting the king’s death, when a wounded Kalepopolis stumbles in on them. He tells them his plans to usurp the throne have failed: they underestimated Ileosa and her protector Merrin. Lady Andaisin calls this only a minor setback. All the conspirators have to do is prove to the people of Korvosa that Ileosa can’t rule. Urgathoa will help them, she claims. She just needs some time to prepare a very devious plan, nothing short of a ‘masterpiece’. Meanwhile she wants her allies to undermine the queen’s authority. Kalepopolis cries he can’t do anything for now, he’s badly wounded! He will seek refuge with his Sable Company brothers to get well first. So it’s up to Amprei, who promises to do what he can to incite the people to rebel against Ileosa.

Scene 2

Amprei is talking to Trinia, who is angry with Ileosa for being the true cause of the king’s death. She calls Ileosa a Chelish wh*re. Amprei chuckles at this insult and tells Trinia to teach it to the filth in the streets.

Scene 3

Little Tommy, the kid with the ginger hair (now five years older) is walking with his mother, talking about how sad they are about the king dying. Suddenly they come across a group of people who are protesting against Ileosa (or the “Chelish wh*re”, as the call her); Amprei and Trinia are in the first ranks, shouting the hardest. Korvosan guards try to calm the demonstrators down, but Trinia draws a knife and skewers a guard. Sabina Merrin arrives on the scene, cradles the stabbed guard in her arms as he dies and then tells the protestors to return home. Amprei tries to stab her in the back while she is trying to defuse the situation. She manages to sidestep his vicious attack, knocks him out and then she draws her sword and holds it to Trinia’s throat. She arrests the painter while she sends the rest of the rabble home. When everyone has left the scene, Little Tommy and his mother remain behind. Tommy asks his mother what a “wh*re” is. She claims it is hard to explain, but whatever it is, she is sure Ileosa isn’t one. “What is she, then?” the boy wonders. “She is the one who is going to take care of all of us, as queens do”, his mother assures him.

Scene 4

Merrin brings Amprei and Trinia before the queen. Although she is still in mourning, Ileosa makes the right decision: she sends Amprei back to Cheliax, telling him that his title of Chelish ambassador is all that is keeping the axe from his neck. She tries to show some sympathy for Trinia, but the painter blames Ileosa for everything and refuses to show any remorse. With a heavy heart Ileosa condemns her to death.

Scene 5

As Trinia is being lead to the chopping block, Ileosa gives her another opportunity to confess her sins and repent, but again the girl refuses. Suddenly Blackjack appears and rescues Trinia. Merrin is frustrated, but Ileosa seems relieved: she is happy the gods helped her not to sink to Trinia’s level and take a life. She is sure the gods will see justice done.

Act 4

Scene 1

Lady Andaisin is working in a dark laboratory, injecting a rat with a green fluid inside a large syringe. Suddenly Blackjack and Trinia walk in. Blackjack removes his mask. It is Kalepopolis. Andaisin wonders why he bothered saving Trinia, she is a failure! The priestess claims to be holding the key to their success in her hand, showing the rat to her visitors. Trinia mocks the priestess: “You’re going to take down the queen with rats? How will you do that?” “Like this”, Andaisin replies, as she lets go of the rat, who runs over to Trinia and bites the girl. Trinia is shocked and runs for the door. Kalepopolis intends to stop her, but Andaisin orders him to let her go. If the people don’t kill her, the rat bite certainly will, she smirks.

Balian notices that the rat is not actually a real animal, but rather an illusion. He also briefly picks up a flash of the person casting the magical rat image: it is Rimando Lumenos, the gnome prankster who used to work in the Marble Dome for The Passion of Saint Alika.

Scene 2

Little Tommy comes home to find his mother chase off three rats. He tells her he found something outside. He leads his mother out to a haystack where Trinia Sabor is in her death throes. Tommy’s mother goes over to comfort Trina. With her dying breath the painter finally confesses: “It was never Ileosa’s fault, it was always mine.” Then she dies. Tommy’s mother closes the dead woman’s eyes and gets up with a cough.

Scene 3

Ileosa receives a number of plague doctors in her throne room. The physicians claim to have been sent by the Chelish government to help. Ileosa is grateful for their assistance, but after the doctors have left, Merrin tells the queen she does not trust them. The queen orders her personal bodyguard to keep a close eye on them.

Scene 4

Tommy brings his sick mother to the doctors’ hospital. The beak-masked healers put her in a bed and give her medicine. They order Tommy to leave, as he will only get in the way. When the boy is gone, they laugh: no one knows their medicine will only make people worse. Sabina Merrin is standing behind a pillar, eaves-dropping. When one doctor leaves and only one remains behind, she knocks him out.

Scene 5

Sabina Merrin takes the doctor she captured to the queen. She forces the man to confess, but his acknowledgement does not contain a grain of remorse. He is happy to die for Urgathoa as his work in the city is done. Merrin gives him his wish and cuts him down. Ileosa is in shock. She feels guilty for allowing the physicians into the city and orders Merrin to put an end to their vile practices immediately.

Act 5

Scene 1

Sabina Merrin and her Gray Maidens invade the Hospital of the Blessed Maiden. They kill the doctors in the sick room and save the patients, including Tommy’s mother, who is burning up with fever. She asks Merrin where her son is. The Gray Maiden commander tells her she will see him soon enough. She’ll be safe now. Tommy’s mother thanks Merrin, but feels that she will not survive. She is too sick. Then another Gray Maiden interrupts the conversation, saying she has found a way down to the underground temple of Urgathoa.

Scene 2

Kalepopolis and Lady Andaisin are in a state of panic, the Gray Maidens have discovered their hideout. Their sanctuary is under attack! Kalepopolis waves around papers which hold the recipe to the cure. He also has crates full of the medicine, which the doctors have been using to keep from getting infected themselves. Andaisin orders him to destroy the potions and papers, as she retreats deeper into the sanctuary, to the shrine of Urgathoa. There she will make her final stand.

After Andaisin leaves, Kalepopolis wants to burn the documents and smash the potion bottles, but Sabina Merrin arrives in time to stop him. Kalepopolis refuses to yield, shouting the throne should have been his. Merrin finishes him off by plunging her sword in his chest.

Scene 3

Lady Andaisin is praying to a golden statue of Urgathoa. Sabina Merrin walks in and the two of them engage in combat. During the fight, the golden statue animates and joins Andaisin in the fight. Merrin is hard pressed, but she wins out in the end.

Scene 4

Tommy runs to his mother’s sickbed. She is really happy to see her son one more time and tells him to be strong, for her time is up. Then the queen herself walks in. She ignores her guards’ words of caution and joins Tommy at his mother’s side. She takes the woman’s hand in hers and promises her she will save her. Merrin gets back and gives one of the potions to the queen, who immediately administers it to Tommy’s mum. The woman suddenly regains her breath and feels better. Tommy is overjoyed. Ileosa asks Tommy if there is anything else she can do for him. He tells her to take care of everyone in the city, as queens do. “I will”, Ileosa promises.

Scene 5

Ileosa accepts the crown of Korvosa out of Little Tommy’s hands, finding it only fitting to receive the royal headband from her own people. The boy is now perfectly dressed and Ileosa hails him for being everything a true Korvosan should be: brave, never-relenting and loyal to the city. In the rest of her speech she praises the citizens for surviving. The cure has turned the plague into a dark memory and brighter days are ahead. Ileosa swears to protect the people and serve the land of Korvosa. When the people on stage burst into cheers of “Long live the queen!”, their cries are taken up by the spectators. The play ends with Korvosa’s new anthem: ‘Gods save Korvosa, Gods save the Queen’.


After the play Quint makes his way backstage. He casts glibness and innocence on himself and weasels his way past the guards by calling out to his ‘friend’ Marco Ebhart, who is hanging around behind the podium. Marco does not know who wrote the play, explaining that the piece was provided by the magistrate of Expenditures, Syl Gar, who also hired the cast. He can tell Quint the name of the woman who played Ileosa, however, Elvira Campert, a student from the Acadamae. She is in the building behind him, which has been confiscated to act as the dressing rooms for the cast. Quint makes his way inside the house and finds Elvira in an upstairs bedroom, where she is removing her make-up. She has taken off her red Ileosa wig, revealing her lush blond hair. Now there is no denying it anymore, she is the spitting image of Dame Nesia! Quint introduces himself as a fellow actor and Elvira recognizes him from The Passion of Saint Alika, which she claims to have seen. This is actually her first time on stage, she explains, and Quint showers her with compliments on her performance. She confirms that she is a student at the Acadamae, the Hall of Charm to be exact. As an arcanist specialized in enchantment, she has always felt a great affinity for the theatre, even though she never actively pursued this profession. She claims that she was asked to play the part of Ileosa by ‘the castle’. When Quint pushes her to expound, she tells him that she has no real connections in the castle, apart from the new seneschal, Togomor, who is also the head of the transmutation department in the Acadamae. Although she did not study under him, the professor had a soft spot for her and tried to woo her in the past, without success. The man is powerful, which some girls might find attractive, but not Elvira. She is even repulsed by his appearance, which makes Quint smile. Togomor is not a good-looking man by any standards: old, balding and fat with a greasy skin. Not the type a pretty girl would fall for. Quint on the other hand is a handsome devil, and he feels that there is a spark between him and Elvira. He asks her if he can see her again. She says she would like that, but it is hard to get out of the Acadamae. She’s not sure if there are going to be other performances of the play, none have been planned so far. So she asks Quint where she can find him, if she manages to get out. Since the bard can hardly tell Elvira he is staying at the resistance hide-out, he has to resort to quick thinking, claiming he is staying at Tenna’s, a luxurious bed and breakfast establishment in Citadel Crest.

Next Greta - Trinia in the play - knocks on the door, asking Elvira if she is ready. Quint greets her and tells her he actually met her after Lick’s (or rather Lucian Lycan’s) play The Hell Mother, but she does not remember him. The bard is not surprised, recalling that Greta was ‘high’ when they met. Before he slips out, Quint manages to grab one of the cotton pads Elvira used to remove her make-up. This might be useful to scry on her in the future.

Before he joins up with Sjo in the old courthouse, Quint swings by Tenna’s to book a room in his name for several days. He leaves instructions at the desk to take a message for him if people come by when he is absent, which might happen often, he says.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
roloz wrote:

That thing is huge. And looks great!

What model is the Kroft figure?

Thanks. The woman tied to the akaruzug's chest is a repainted Heroclix mini, called Dream Girl.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Monrail wrote:
Great update as always, MrVergee. I wonder where this stuff with the blood clones comes from. It isn't part of the actual AP, is it? So did you make it up on your own or was it proposed somewhere as a possible side trek? Blends in quite perfectly with the rest of the plot.

I can't claim credit for the blood clone idea; I stole it from Moonbeam's excellent Curse of the Crimson Throne's journal, which was a great inspiration for my campaign. Moonbeam is the one who introduced the early blood clone experiment Dame Nesia, as well as the full blown Gray Maiden versions.

I ran with his idea because it provided several great opportunities:

  • It allowed me to build a much bigger Gray Maiden army.
  • It also allowed me to make the Gray Maidens more powerful (infusing them with Cressida Kroft's fighting abilities was my own idea), which gave me Gray Maidens who are strong enough to be a challenge to my PCs at their current level.
  • It also underlines the scrupulous lengths Ileosa is willing to go through to build out her power.
  • It gave me the chance to involve the church of Asmodeus.
  • It served as an excellent element in my alternative adventures for Skeletons of Scarwall.

I think Moonbeam got his idea from the AP's last installment: the Everdawn Pool in the Sunken Queen. As I won't be using that chapter in my own campaign, the blood clone Gray Maiden alternative sounded perfect. I guess Star Wars might have had an influence as well ...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, your guys did a lot in one session. sounds like all kinds of fun. I especially liked this detial:

Feros wrote:

Minerva used regeneration spells to heal Peppery, Grok, and the Stitchman before using a greater restoration to get Grok out of her catatonia. All three were overwhelmingly grateful and pledged their loyalty top Isobel and the rest of the crew, especially after Isobel proposed giving the Wormwood to them to command.

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Feros wrote:
We use Hero Points and I must say that they were all but gone by the end of the fight. In fact Jacen, who plays Silas, made the comment that anybody with full Hero Points after the fight would have some explaining to do! ;)

We use hero points too, real life savers. For me as a GM, hero points are a blessing, for they allow me to throw serious challenges at the party.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For those not following my journal, I'd like to offer a link to my home-crafted akaruzug miniature on deviantart: here and here.

The creature is featured in the bestiary section of Crown of Fangs. In my campaign, I've used this soul-sucking construct in an alternative way, turning it into an infernal engine that can drain skills from an 'original' and infuse these powers into newly created blood clones. The individual being drained was actually Cressida Kroft.

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