Caeller gives a nod and a huff as he fidgets with the brim of his hat.
"I must preside over Petros's interment on the morning," Grimburrow adds, "But as soon as the service is done, please stop by the temple and I can allow you to draw a few items from our stores in preparations for your expedition."
Sorry! I know I've been awful lately, it seems, oddly enough, that bringing over a new teacher results in MORE teaching hours for everyone else, what with the partying, hangovers, and sick calls. I know this post was no gem, but please rest assured that I'm not abandoning the game. Is there anything else you guys wish to do before morning?
Sorry, I know I've been scarce this week. We had another teacher arrive last Friday, and have one leaving tomorrow, so it's been pretty hectic getting the first situated, and getting the second ready to go. Everything should be skippy by Saturday afternoon though. I'll have something more up by then at the latest!
Harrowstone Knowledge checks for those who have not yet attempted them (such as Carol). A high result naturally yields all information which lower DCs would provide.
Knowledge(History or Local) DC 10:
Harrowstone is a ruined prison—
partially destroyed by a fire in 4661, the building has
stood vacant ever since. The locals suspect that it’s
haunted, and don’t enjoy speaking of the place.
Harrowstone was built in 4594. Ravengro
was founded at the same time as a place where guards and
their families could live and that would produce food and
other supplies used by the prison. The fire that killed all
of the prisoners and most of the guards destroyed a large
portion of the prison’s underground eastern wing, but
left most of the stone structure above relatively intact.
The prison’s warden perished in the fire, along with his
wife, although no one knows why she was in the prison
when the fire occurred. A statue commemorating the
warden and the guards who lost their lives was built in
the months after the tragedy—that statue still stands on
the riverbank just outside of town.
Most of the hardened criminals sent
to Harrowstone spent only a few months imprisoned, for
it was here that most of Ustalav’s executions during that
era were carried out. The fire that caused the tragedy was,
in fact, a blessing in disguise, for the prisoners had rioted
and gained control of the prison’s dungeons immediately
prior to the conf lagration. It was only through the selfsacrifice
of Warden Hawkran and 23 of his guards that
the prisoners were prevented from escaping—the guards
gave their lives to save the town of Ravengro.
At the time Harrowstone burned, five
particularly notorious criminals had recently arrived at
the prison. While the commonly held belief is that the
tragic fire began accidentally after the riot began, in fact
the prisoners had already seized control of the dungeon
and had been in command of the lower level for several
hours before the fire. Warden Hawkran triggered a
deadfall to seal the rioting prisoners in the lower level,
but in so doing trapped himself and nearly two dozen
guards. The prisoners were in the process of escaping
when the panicked guards accidentally started the fire in
a desperate attempt to end the riot.
"Magic cannot fix everything, I'm afraid," the priest admits grimly. "Solely I among the clergy have the ability to ward the departed from such a fate, and even then only for a week. There are greater rituals that might be performed, but making them last is difficult, requiring greater power than our temple possesses. And even if we had such means, we generally don't have necromancers plaguing our burial sites - the one relief to be found in all this, small as it may be, is that these occurrences are certainly the exception to the rule of our norm." He sighs as he turns to gaze out the window, hands clasped behind his back. "As for what's responsible, I wish I could say I suspected a necromancer, but the Sheriff and I took the liberty of inspecting the graves. It would be feasible, however monstrous it might be to consider, that someone crafted these bodies and planted them in the earth as an ambush..."
"But," Caeller interjects. "Them graves were old, and what dirt hadn't been clawed through was packed and solid as an orcish mud-hut. No signs of recent digging, least not before them skeletons clawed their way free."
And that means they couldn't have been planted there," Grimburrow continues. "They had to have been animated from within their coffins, and necromancers usually need direct access to the bodies they intend to defile This is beyond the capability of any simple spell I've ever encountered." For the first time, you see the priest's composure falter as he begins to fidget nervously. "A concentration, or a burst, of negative energy might accomplish such a travesty, though I'm not certain what might trigger such a phenomenon. One tends to see this sort of thing in hauntings - places where great tragedies have occurred in the past, and powerful emotions have flared. Large battlefields, ancient mansions, evil temples -,"
"Or Harrowstone." Father Grimburrow simply nods at Caeller's interuptions.
"Yes, Harrowstone too. Such an event could leave the necessary traces of evil for this sort of thing, but why now, after fifty years? Except for that question, Harrowstone would seem the most likely, but there are other explanations. Large cults might accomplish such things with elaborate rituals, and the presence of powerful undead in an area have been known to give rise to such fell births."
"Harrowstone," grunts Caeller as he looks to you, seemingly for confirmation.
"It's no problem at all,"[b] Adivion insists, his voice barely above a whisper as he runs has fingers along a stack of books books. His mind seems to be elsewhere. [b]"I do not presume to involve myself in your affairs. I am here to pay my respects to Petros, and provincial superstition do not concern me - unless they lead to the desecration of my friend's remains. Whoever is responsible, I would see justice visited upon them." He turns to you, his posture austere with his hands clasped behind his back. "I will render you whatever resources I am able. For a start, I'm told the Outward Inn is... habitable. As the Lorimmer home is full, I shall see to it that you're taken care of there." He stares out the window towards Ravengro, sighing heavily as he regards the silhouette of the buildings over the darkening horizon. "This is distressing news, and so with your permission, Miss Kendra, I shall take my leave to make preparations at the Outward End. You will find rooms for you there when you're ready to retire. Kendra, you said the private service would be in the morning? I will return shortly after dawn." He gives a nod as he departs, the rasp of his cane on cobblestones announcing his exit as he steps out of the door.
Not long after, there is a knock at the door, and upon answering, you find Sheriff Caeller waiting outside, Father Grimburrow in tow. "Burning skeletons, I hear?" he asks with a grunt.
In regards to the lance, I don't think there's anything in the rules that requires it to be used from horseback. One thing that bothered me a little about the longsword, actually, was how vanilla is what. I like the idea the favored weapons stand out more often than not. Already in PF, if you someone carrying a starknife, there's probably a suspicion that they're affiliated with Desna. With this change, priests of Iomedae may well be known for wielding lances on foot.
Any thoughts on any of those others?
All three names are on the list of guests to be invited to the funeral, though Lorrimer's will is still in the hands of Councilman Hearthmount. It seems that Father Grimburrow has left for the evening.
You find Kendra upstairs in her room. The door is open, and she's sitting on the edge of her bed as she stares distantly towards the wall, a porcelain doll on the bed next to you. She manages a half-smile as you approach. "I had my toys put away more than a decade ago," she offers as she gestures to the doll. "I was so ready to grow up, to be an adult. I insisted that adults didn't play with dolls - I wanted to throw them away, but my father... He just smiled. He said we'd put them away in case I changed my mind later. I was furious at the time that he thought I could be so fickle. I thought I'd proven him wrong. I've never touched a doll since that day, but..." She picks up the doll and clutches it tightly to her. "I'm glad that I was wrong now. Zhan, thank you for being here." She moves across the room and throws her arms around your shoulders, hugging you tightly, even uncomfortably, before releasing you.
"So, what was it you wanted?" she asks, quickly regaining her composure. Her eyes brighten a bit at the news of more guests, though they quickly grow wide as saucers after she has a moment to think about it. "The foyer!" she gasps, "The drawing room! They're a mess!" She bolts away from you and down the hall.
A few minutes after Zhan's departure a woman in her mid-20s appears at the top of the stairs. She is thin and fair, with a trained posture and auburn hair that looks as if it is normally well-kept, though at present she looks tired and disheveled.
He takes a deep bow, throwing one hand behind his back. "Of course, Kendra. Your father and I may not have always seen eye-to-eye in matters academic, but we were colleagues. You know as well as I that such differences are to be expected amongst Ustalav's intelligentsia." As he rises he clasps a hand on the young lady's shoulder. "Old friendships run deeper than petty intellectual disputes. I was devastated when I learned of his death - I would have been here sooner, but you know how demanding Caliphas can be. The jewel of our nation does not shine when we neglect to polish it regularly." His warm smile fades and gives way to an expression of concern. "I hope I'm not too late for the service?"
"I'm afraid so," she nods. "But there have been, um, events, since then, and we'll be holding a second, private service tomorrow morning out in back. You are welcome to attend." She shakes herself out of the apparent reunion and turns to Ember and Carol, realizing she's been neglecting her other new guests. "all of you are welcome, of course! I'm afraid the timing is terrible - all manner of bizarre happenings have been occurring in the town lately, but truly I am grateful for your presence, and we'll do our best to make you feel welcome here! I'm afraid our guest bedrooms are full up, but I'll be more than happy to cover your rooms at the local inn - but I insist that you join us here for meals."
Just let me know if you're ready to move ahead. It feels like everyone is just about wrapping up introductions, so I was wondering if you would like to move forward at this point.
Also, I've been working on a revised favored weapons list for the major deities of Golarion, and was hoping to get some feedback (and help!). Thing is, several of the choices have been spot on, but several of them have always felt a little off, whether because another weapon would suit the deity so much better (such as Calistria, see below), or because a different weapon has in practice been strongly associated with their church (such as Norgorber). Also, I wanted to make sure that each cleric actually gained something based on their deity's favored weapon. It always felt disappointing to me that a cleric of Zon-Kuthon essentially gains Exotic Weapon Proficiency for free, while a cleric of Nethys or Pharasma has nothing extra. This is not to say that ever single weapon has to scale exactly with the others on the list, but I want each cleric to effectively be granted a feat they wouldn't otherwise have. Keeping those goals in mind, what do you think of the list I've got so far, and would you (mostly Ember) prefer to see it used in this game?
Abadar Crossbow This is unchanged, but his favored weapon is generically considered to be a crossbow, and his clerics are proficient with hand crossbows and repeating crossbows.
Asmodeus Flail The flail strikes me as a good choice for Asmodeus because it can easily be imagined as a device used for torture or to motivate underlings to work (think of it as a heavy horse whip). It just has a very tyrannical, dominating feel to it.
Calistria Short Sword In the church of Calistria, a short sword represents the sting of a wasp. 'Nuff said.
Cayden Cailean Rapier This one is unchanged.
Desna Starknife Unchanged.
Erastil Longbow Even though his favored weapon is technically a longbow (unchanged), his clerics are proficient with all varieties of bows (not crossbows).
Gorum Greatsword Unchanged for now, but I've been thinking of changing this one either an axe or something involving more spikes. If someone could point me towards a martial or exotic variant of the spiked gauntlet, that would be ideal.
Gozreh Trident Unchanged for now, but I've been thinking that a harpoon (from UC) might be a better fit.
Iomedae Lance The longsword was already Aroden's favored weapon, and there's been a theme thus far of 'no repeats.' I know she's the Inheritor and all, but the lance is just so valorous and knightly, and could easily be interpreted and symbolizing a ray of glorious light.
Irori Unarmed Strike In addition to receiving Improved Unarmed Strike, clerics of Irori (and only clerics) are proficient with monk weapons instead of the usual simple weapons clerics get.
Lamashtu Kukri They've already mentioned that the kukri is often considered a sacred weapon of Lamashtu, and most depictions of her show her wielding kukris. I like the idea that they symbolize a beast's claws.
Nethys Quarterstaff Unchanged, but his clerics get Quarterstaff Mastery from UM as a bonus feat. I've also been thinking of making the double-bladed sword his favored weapon to better reflect the god's duality and exoticism.
Norgorber War Razor It's easily concealed and easily passed off as a mundane tool. Perfect for the gods of secrecy and murder. Plus, his Skinsaw cult has a track record of favoring these weapons.
Pharasma Khopesh This is the best I can come up with for now, but Pharasma has been giving me more trouble than any other deity. I figured a Khopesh would simply be a relic of her origins as a Garudnit (and especially Osirioni) deity. I feel like it's a little too similar to Sarenrae's association with scimitars, though, and I'd really prefer to find a more dagger-like weapon that has some ritual significance. Any suggestions?
Rovagug Earth Breaker This is that big spiky hammer from the Inner Sea World Guide. I just figured that the god of destruction would like a weapon that's good at smashing junk. I've also been thinking about the Heavy Pick for this one.
Sarenrae Scimitar Unchanged.
Shelyn Glaive Unchanged.
Torag Warhammer Unchanged.
Urgathoa Scythe Unchanged.
Zon-Kuthon Spiked Chain Unchanged.
Sorry, sorry, sorry! I forgot I had to go to a student's birthday last night, and, this being China, not attending or leaving early would have been a disastrous career move.
Ember and Carol:
Professor Petros Lorrimer is dead. This was the word you received last week - that your old friend had passed away. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of Caliphas has a way of sucking people into its maelstrom of activity, and the demands of the city kept you from making his funeral on time. However, you were determined to pay your respects, and began making arrangements. Fortunately, after wrapping up your business in the city, you were able to find passage with another old friend of the Professor's, the noble and scholar Adivion Addrisant, also held up by business. A recent associate of yours, he offered you a ride in his coach early this morning, and you have been making remarkable time since then. On the ride, you've gotten to know each other a little, but your patron has certainly been the dominant personality in conversation, reminiscing about the Professor, lamenting his fall, and making half-hearted inquiries into your own relationships with Petros Lorrimer. He's also shared with you a bit of information on the town of Ravengro, eager to demonstrate his knowledge. Local attractions really don't go beyond the temple of Pharasma, the weekly farmer's market, or the local inn with vulgar menu items. However, just to the south of the village lies Harrowstone, an old Ustalavian prison that burned down in 4661, and that many still believe to be haunted to this day. He's certainly a knowledgeable man, but he cannot disguise a subtle sense of superiority that makes it difficult to listen to him for too long, and you find yourselves relieved when your coach arrives at your destination. You now find yourselves stopped before a modest two-story home, conservatively decorated with toned-down Caliphasian sensibilities. "We arrive at last," Adivion mutters somberly as he regards the manse. "Come, let us pay our respects to our departed friend."
Riff nods fearfully as he gazes on the charred bones littering the Restlands before he turns and sprints towards the town square. Zhan's healing helps to close some of Valachi's wounds, but the pain is still excruciating as you walk back towards the Lorrimer home. Several of the townsfolk bring cover quiet gasps as they see the crispy Varisian limping from the Restlands, and one or two concerned villagers rush to his side to offer aid, though they comply when you wave them away.
As you approach the house, you see a stern-looking coach park before it, lead by a team of magnificent black horses. A middle-aged man with hawkish features and a rapidly receding widow's peak is stepping from the carriage as you draw near. He is dressed as a noble of Caliphas, and carries himself as one, standing rigidly and holding a decorative cane close his side. He arches a brow your way at your approaches, and nearly dose a double-take as he realizes you are bound for the Lorrimer home, though he manages to retain his composure. "Good evening,." He greets you with a bow. "I am Adivion Adrissant, from Caliphas, and I've come to pay my respects to the late Petros Lorrimer." He spares a worried glance towards Valachi. "I hate to state the obvious, but it does seem as if your friend needs the services of a doctor..."
Going to be proceeding after I get off work today, and bringing in Ember and Carol.
Appologies for the brief lull in activity - been wrestling with a new Chinese law regarding income tax and foreign laborers.
Ah, I also recalled another of my old house-rules (I know, I'm really bad at mentioning these), but this one shouldn't really affect anything, and I doubt anyone ought to have a problem with it, nor should it impact anyone's build or decisions. But basically, when wielding a light shield (not heavy shield), I do allow you to use that hand for spellcasting, though arcane spell failure still applies when applicable, and your hand must still remain otherwise free.
Zhan peels off another shot, but the bullet misses it's mark, chipping off the corner of a nearby gravestone.
Valachi's claws find a hold on the skeleton's ribcage, and he manages to carve a deep furrow into the sternum even as the flames lick his hands.
The skeleton proves relentless, however, and reaches for Valachi with eager claws. It's pony hands carve a deep gash in his chest, flames cauterizing the wound even as the sear the ranger's flesh.
Attack Roll: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
Agnar rushes to Valachi's aid, cleaving through the skeleton with one mighty blow, and once more, the creature flies apart in a shower of bone and fire.
With the last of the creatures felled, you are left standing burnt but breathing in the middle of the Restlands. The sound of screaming prisoners rapidly fades, and bones of the skeletons crumble to ash.
As you stand trying to catch your breath after the skeleton's fierce assault, something catches your eye. It's the headstone that was clipped by Zhan's bullet. At first, you think it's simply the chipped edge, but when you look a second time, you realize that the letters have been freshly carved into the face of the stone. They read...
Come to my world, and be as I.
As I am now, soon you will be.
Embrace your end and witness me.
Well, it looks like combat is going to be drawing to a close soon, and I want to introduce the new PCs upon the next in-game day. I'd like to correspond with Carrol and Ember a bit in order to work out how they knew Lorrimer, let them know who they're traveling with, and seeing if they've got anything they'd like to see worked into the AP's plot.
For the new PCs only, plx:
Assuming it's suitable for your characters, you will both be traveling to Ravengro by coach another old friend of Lorrimer's, Adivion Addrisant, an affluent noble from Caliphas. If you wish, you can have some prior connection to the man. He's pretty well-connected, especially with the intelligentsia and social of elite of Ustalav with an interest in philosophy and ancient cultures of Golarion. Learning of your association with Professor Lorrimer, he offered to bring you along in his coach, and has been reminiscing on the ride over about his former colleague.
Sorry for taking so long. Really been feeling the ennui this weekend, and it's been nigh impossible for me to muster the willpower to do anything. Looks like we'll go ahead and puppet Delia for the round. Valachi, I'm afraid that since they deal non-lethal damage, your standard unarmed strikes are futile against the undead, though correct if I'm overlooking something.
Zhan leaps back as ribbons of flame lick his face, and as his gun retorts a sizable chunk of bone flies from the nearby skeleton's skull. It jerks violently for a moment, but the bullet is not enough to stop its assault, and along with it's companions, it claws its way free from the grave. All three of them regard you with sadistic grins as the air around you ripples with an unholy heat.
No sooner has the skeleton next to Agnar worked its way from the other than he brings his sword to bear against, the hefty blade shattering bones as it crashes through the ribcage. With a chilling screech, the bones fly apart - violently. Fire rushes from the center of the thing as boney splinters flay everywhere, searing Agnar in foul retribution.
Valachi lands two sturdy blows his his fists on the skeleton adjacent him, but the creature seems largely unbothered by his assault. It turns towards the ranger, flames erupting from the depths of its eyes as it readies it burning claws.
At Delia's command, a stocky pony with a flowing gold of mane springs into existence and lashes out with its hooves at the creature next to Zhan, unfortunately, its assault is wildly uncoordinated, and it misses its mark entirely.
2 Skeletons are left. 1 standing 5 feet from Zhan (A), and one next to Valachi and a celestial pony (B). They can still each be reached with a move action by anyone on the battlefield. Skeleton A has taken light damage.
I know I've asked this already, but I figured with a couple of new dudes coming in, I'd ask once more.
What type of prior experience do you have with the Carrion Crown AP? Has anyone played through the whole thing, played through part of it, or read it? No problem if you have, I just want to know what kind of expectations or extant knowledge I'm dealing with.
I'm also noticing that Ustalav seems to breed a startling number of orphan PCs. I don't supposed any of you would be surprised if we start using Guardian Forces and the BBEG turns out to be the head of your childhood orphanage?
After another moment, the disturbance in the dirt beneath cannot be ignored. There is a clatter as Riff stumbles backwards, knocking his stool over. The deputy looks in mouth agape, frozen in muted horror as small cracks begin to form in the earth. As something continues to force its way upwards, you begin to feel an intense heat from the graves at your feet. Suddenly, there is a violent surge of motion beneath Valachi's feet and a gout of flames shoots out from the ground. Fire begins to erupt from the other two graves as charred skeletal hands force their way through the soil, and all around you can be heard the din of men shouting in panic, and the roar of a pitched inferno is barely audible.
Skeletal forms frantically begin to work their way free of the graves, and you can now three fully formed skeletons clawing their out. They are charred and blackened, with gouts of flame whipping around their ancient bones. Their skulls are twisted into supernatural expressions of rage and malice as they peer up at you hungrily.
The skeletons are going to be using their first round to finish freeing themselves and stand, which will provoke an AoO, so everyone can basically make two attacks before they get a round in. However, their flames are pretty hot, so at the start of your respect turns, you take a bit of fire damage for being next to them...
Alyoma: That should work fine. If you're alright with it, your local temple may have given you a specific agenda in Ravengro, as you were headed that way regardless. If you can send me an e-mail (address is listed above), I can mention a couple of ideas I might have for the character. I'm trying to fold everyone's history into the AP, but I want to run it by everyone first, since, y'know, it's their character.
Trinam, that's fine, but be warned - if your character shows up in a fedora, he will not be long for the world.
Also, it seems Sagaar has posted in the IC thread, but made no mention of his absence, or the fact that we pretty clearly have two new people coming in. What do you guys want to do? I think he's probably hoping to make a show of activity, which I can appreciate, but personally, to me, it feels like too little too late, given the fact that since we've started he's had an average span of 4 or 5 days between each post.
Oh! Also, given the increasingly byzantine web of relationships that's going to be coming out in this game, and the number of mystery parents we've got, I was wondering if everyone could include their character's age in their profile?
Zhan, it definitely seems that the corpse crawled out of the grave itself. The indentations are too near the grave to have been made by someone leaning over the edge. Also, pointing out the sounds would provide a +2 bonus, however that's still not enough to bring anyone else to the proper DC. Val, in this case, there isn't going to be enough time to take 20, however...
Those who rolled 18 or higher on Perception:
There is a sudden crashing sound like shattering wood. It's louder this time, though faint, as if coming from a great distance. You hear the soft scraping sounds of moving earth, and looking about the cemetery, you see the ground rising around three of the nearby graves. Each moment it undulates softly, pulsing in tandem with your rising heartbeat.
You have a round or two to make any preparations you wish.
Alright, I think I've got a few things cooked up for the story arc. Zhan, once again, your idea is brilliant.
I want to restructure the campaign a little after this, which might take a couple of days to do. I think that the new private service for Professor Lorrimer (held tomorrow in-game) would be the perfect time to introduce a new character to the game, so my proposal would be to take two or three days to find a dude, during which I'll be rewriting a few things and working a couple of new elements into the plot. Yes? No? Maybe?
We'll conclude the rest of this in-game day before that, of course.
Father Grimburrow spends the better part of an hour speaking with Kendra, but at length the two of them step back outside. Kendra's eyes are a little puffy, but there is an elusive calm in them despite the dried tears. "Father Grimburrow has explained the situation to me, and we've decided to bury Father at the house. My father always did enjoy his privacy, and there's a small fenced-in plot out back. It will afford us the discretion we desire, and it will prevent..." she bites her lip nervously before continuing. "It will keep him confined should the worst occur. We'll be digging a grave this evening, and I understand that you have other things to worry about, but I would be most honored if you wish to contribute."
"It is not a requisite, of course," Grimburrow quickly reminds you. "I can have a few of my older acolytes do the work, if you wish. Tradition would dictate that the Professor go into the Restlands, where his soul might join with others in eternal rest, but it is not unheard of for a deceased relative to be interred closer to their home - this is a good, solution, I think. It allows us to retain our privacy, has a measure of security built into it, and it follows all necessary funerary procedures. We shall prepare the grave tonight, and inter the body tomorrow morning with a small, private service."
With everyone in agreement over how to handle Lorrimer's body, the Professor's remains are moved to the cellar, where they are covered with a makeshift burial shroud and locked behind latch and key. All business being handled, you and Grimburrow head towards the Restlands to inspect the site of the grave. The site of your party moving through Ravengro with the Pharasman priest draws a few curious glances, but no one seems especially suspicious given last nights defilement. You receive passing nods and casual waves, though for the most part no one seems to want to interrupt your business.
The Restlands are more populous today, with several villagers coming to pay their respects to the departed, and several of them look rather nervous as they lay flowers upon graves. The deputy you recognize as Riff sits by the grave whittling idly and occasionally glancing up from his work. He stands with a start as he notices your approach. "Good day sirs... and, er, miss! I'm Riff, been watching Mr. Lorrimer's grave, I have. Shame what happened, really, but we'll get to the bottom of it afore long. I, er..." He glances back and forth between you, and resumes his seat. "Sheriff said you might be coming by. He's got a few ideas on what might've happened, but he says he's keeping his peace on it till he's gotten more evidence. Grave's right there. I'll just sit down. Be right here if you need me."
The grave is certainly open. Small mounds of loose earth lie on either side of a narrow funnel of dirt, which travels six feet down to a partially unearth coffin, splintered but still lying in its proper place. The headstone is lopsided with a small rise in the earth beneath it, as if someone had tried to upturn it from underneath. A few shard of the coffin lie scattered about, along with tattered pieces of a burial suit. The earth has been thoroughly trampled, and the sides of the gravesite have been swept mostly smooth.
Perception or Survival DC 15:
Several of the coffin pieces are covered in claw marks, likely made by human fingernails. There is a slight swell in the displaced earth near the coffin that indicates that's where the digging probably started. Long smooth furrows cover the funnel of earth, reminiscent of someone's leg rolling across it. It is, however, dotted with small depressions where a knee might have been driven into the ground, and the edges still bear the shallow grooves of raking fingers.
Perception DC 23:
You hear the muffled sound of wood splintering beneath the ground several feet away.
I agree that we definitely someone who can heal. The question is what constitutes a viable healer for you guys. A cleric is the classic choice, but oracles usually work too, and what about a druid or a witch? With the inclusion of archtypes, we've got songhealer bards. Do you consider paladins to be viable healers with their lay on hands in PF? I usually prefer to place as few restrictions as possible during recruitment.
Zhan, I love your idea, but I might take a couple of liberties with it, if that's alright.
Delia, I'll try to nail down an appropriate town, though you would likely have traveled to Caliphas for your studies.
Agnar, that's all cool. I have a couple of ideas that I can tie Agnar into using his general character and background, but if you come up with anything more specific, let me know.
Now, as far as Sagaar, it's been a few days now and we haven't heard from him. At this point, my inclination is to open a thread to find one new character, bringing the party total to five, before heading into Harrowstone, because we'll need everyone active in the dungeon, and I just don't think that it's a commitment he will stick with. So, I was wondering what the rest of you thought on this, and, assuming we look for a new guy, what do you want to add to the party? Currently, we are missing...
I don't think that these three roles can be reasonably filled by a single character without strictly dictating what people can apply with, which I hate to do, so how much stress do we want to place on finding a healer, and how much on finding a thief? If we get another secondary healer, would Zhan be comfortable sharing healing duties between them? Would the party be willing to operate without a dedicated thief-character?
So I'm going through PC histories to try and find points that can be folded into the AP, and I was wondering if you guys had anything to add to your character histories, or anything specific you'd like to see resolved in regards to your characters?
So far, Delia's history is by far the easiest to work into the AP, with a murder mystery and a missing parent. I was wondering where Delia grew up though? If she was one of the Professor's students, did she live in Caliphas?
Valachi also has some good leads, given his mysterious origins.
Zhan and Agnar are a little trickier. Zhan's past experience might create some interesting side effects when dealing with the myriad of necromancy effects in the campaign, but beyond that most of his issues have been resolved.
I'm still trying to nail down something more personal for Agnar. I love the backstory, but nearly everything in it has been resolved, and so far I've pretty much just got his experience with demons and his barbarian upbringing to work with. Broad concepts like that are no problem, but if you'd like to add a mystery or two to Agnar's backstory, I'd be happy to work them into the campaign.
Father Grimmburrow simply gives a determined nod. "I'm afraid that as priest of the Lady of Graves, I cannot allow the body of a man - a friend - to lie above the ground, though if you would prefer, he can be re-buried in another locations. Perhaps one that can be more easily observed. Do not worry, Petros was my friend as well, and I shall not allow his remains to be defiled, nor will I allow this desecration to go unpunished." His gravely voice hardens with harsh certainty. "We will find whoever is responsible for this. Give me a moment to fetch the necessary supplies, and I shall meet you back at the manse. If the Way truly is involved here, then discretion dictates we travel separately."
After traveling back to the Lorrimer home, you don't have to wait long for Father Grimburrow. You show him to the body, which he regards with stern disapproval. He kneels before the Professor's mangled corpse, lays a hand on the chest, and recites a brief prayer before shaking his head. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can determine about what may have brought unlife to this body. I can ward the body against further tampering, but only for a day. The church could place a stronger seal that would last longer, but it would require the body to be properly interred in a grave first. If you like I can see to the specifics with Miss Kendra."
Grimburrow halts in his tracks as Zhan finishes his explanation. One knobby hand comes up to remove his spectacles as he he locks you in his scrutinizing gaze. He arches his brow as he measures the truth of your words, and after several long moments he gives a long, tired sigh.
"I'm sorry you felt the need to keep this concealed, though it shames me to say that I understand your desire to do so. Be assured that the trust you have shown me will not go unrequited - I shall do whatever I can to allay Ravengro's mistrust towards you. Show me to the body, and I will see the proper precautions are taken before we lay Petros once more to rest." He turns his back to you, resting both hands on the table before him as he gives your words further consideration. "As for the Way infiltrating the temple, I find it difficult to believe. Both myself and the other priests are equipped to detect such treachery, and I do not believe one of them could hide amongst our ranks for long. Do you have any evidence to warrant such a suspicion?"
+1 Trust Point. Current Trust Points: 26
Kirill Innokenti wrote:
Kirill needs to bow out for now I'm afraid. I thought after lightening my load by dropping a couple of games I would still be able to commit to a few, but with all that I have going for the time being I can't really split my attention enough ways, and I needed to make the difficult choice of choosing between playing here and continuing to run my own PbP and it would be unfair to my players to stop a campaign that has been running for months, especially with the great group that I have. I hope that at some point (after I move next week and after my work load lightens up by finishing my current project) I will be able to play regularly in several games again, but right now it isn't right for me to be sucking up a spot in an excellent game when I won't be able to regularly contribute. I apologize and hope to be back in a few weeks/months, if possible. :(
Sorry to hear it, Ringtail. Best of luck in your project, and I hope we see you back in a month or two. If your load does lighten, by all means let us know!
For now, we'll relegate Kirril to an NPC in the town. He'll be assumed to be keeping watch over Kendra.
To all those other dudes.
Well, with Kirill's unfortunate departure, what do you guys want to do about this open spot? Do we fill it, or do we want to keep trucking with 5 guys? If you need, take a day or two to mull it over, but I want to make sure that we've got it figured out before the party starts delving into the dungeons in earnest.
Also, one other topic I feel ought to be addressed, which is Sagaar's status within the game. When we started, we were shooting for one post per day, and I know that many of us (myself included) have been falling short of that mark, but Sagaar, you have been posting very rarely since we started, and when you do, it's often entirely OOC. I've been tiptoeing around this for a while, but we're now down 1 PC, and the party will be engaging in regular combat and dungeon exploration soon, and in this adventure, someone with Sagaar's abilities will be sorely needed. I probably should have said something sooner, but I have to ask if you would be willing to post a little more frequently. I understand that between issues in our personal life, school, and/or work it's difficult to keep up at times, but if your schedule is such that you cannot allow more frequent posting, it might be that a PbP is not the wisest investment of your time.
At the Temple...:
At your request, the acolyte who escorts you to a dimly lit room where towering bookshelves loom over you. Several candles, set in a large iron chandelier above your heads, casts a net of shadows across the chamber. Father Grimmburrow sits at a desk in the center with a series of unfurled scrolls lying next to him, and his nose pressed close to an open tome. He looks up as you enter the room, a heavy frown on his face. He waves the acolyte away, and as soon as the door closes behind him, the elderly cleric begins to to speak.
"I'm afraid I have found more concrete information on the prisoner you mentioned - the wizard. His name was Hean Feramin, and he was once a professor of Anthroponomastics, which as far as I can tell deals with the origins of personal names. I'm not sure what happened to him, because he was once a good man, but one day his studies took on a much darker turn, and he became obsessed with what happened to someone's name following their death." He stands up and begins pacing in front of his desk. "He started by studying the names of victims who had already passed away, performing arcane experiments of a morbdid - but safe - nature. I'm not sure what he found in those studies, but it must have turned him to madness, for after that, he began killing. His murders were well-planned and well-executed, so there isn't much information on his methods, but it seems those he killed would find a single letter of their name every day or two, perhaps written on a card in their home, or scrawled on a familiar wall - in blood." He shakes his head. "But as I said, we found no spirits lurking in Harrowstone when we investigated. This is most unusual, and I'm beginning to wonder whether another expedition may be warranted." He rubs his temples wearily as he lets out a heavy sigh. "In any case, what did you want to see me about. Has your investigation turned up anything new?"
Those going to the temple...:
It's a short stroll to the Temple of Pharasma, and largely uneventful, but tension is still thick in Ravengro. The citizens mill about, performing their daily rituals with a staunch determination to remain ignorant of the suspicious events of which they are all aware. A few of them tip their hats as you walk by or offer forced smiles, but for the most part everyone keeps their eyes on the dirt.
You are greeted cordially upon entering the temple by one of the acolytes, who seems to have been expecting you. He explains that at Father Grimburrow's command, the church is to aid you in any reasonable fashion - you will be granted unrestricted but supervised access to the temple's archives, and you will be receiving a minor discount should you need supplies or services from the church. When you inquire about preventions against necromancy, he suggests a few simple scrolls, both of which are amply stocked.
The acolyte has suggested scrolls of Sanctify Corpse (UM) to prevent the raising of corpse, which are available to you for 20gp apiece. This spell wards a body touched for 24 hours, making reanimation impossible for that period of time. He also mentions that if you are concerned with preserving a body, you may want to consider a scroll of Gentle Repose, will prevent the body from decompsing. These are available for 125 gp apiece.
You may continue to use the temple's libraries to gain a +4 bonus to knowledge checks concerning Harrowstone or the Whispering way, which stacks with any other bonuses you might have acquired. Those you put ranks into relevant knowledge skills this level may re-attempt them. Furthermore, you will receive a 20% discount on items purchased from the church, and you may have any 1st level cleric spell casts for free, assuming you remain in good standing with the church, and that the spell requires no costly material components.
EDIT: Sorry, Zhan. Typed out that last post as you were responding. I'm about to crash for the night, but I'll get to the interaction with Grimburrow in the morning. Since nothing has really occurred yet, anyone else who wishes to have accompanied Zhan to the church is assumed to have done so.
Does anyone else feel like things have begun to slow down? I confess this is probably my doing. In any case, I'm looking through books to find exactly what options are available to the church, and thus which resources are open to the party. I need to help make a quiz tonight, and we'll proceed to the temple after that. Zhan, did you just want to purchase scrolls and services, or did you want to play everything at the temple out? It won't be much of an issue to bring a single priest to wherever you need him (within the town, that is) as long as you have any reason that's remotely good.
Grimburrow nods. "I shall let the acolytes know that if I am in the temple, I am to be notified of your need, and if I am not, they will give you my current whereabouts. For my own part, I will see what my own studies can glean."
He chuckles softly when you ask about Harrowstone's legends. "Legends? Related to Harrowstone. I'm sure you fill find a great many, though most of them grossly exaggerated. I have my own ideas on the matter, but an educated speculation is still a speculation - I will tell you simply what is true about the place. It was built in 4594 to house the most depraved of Ustalav's criminals, though they rarely stayed for long." His tone grows more somber. "During that era, most executions in this county or any bordering it took place at Harrowstone, and I think the echos of so many deaths can still be felt there. In fact, at the time of the fire, five notorious criminals had recently brought to the prison, and one of them was a wizard, now that you mention it. He had once been a professor in Caliphas, I believe. We may have more information on him in our records, though today, most simply remember him the Splatter Man." The aged priest goes quite for several moments. "I never met him, nor bore witness to his crimes, but it's said that he would make his victims mad with paranoia, watching them for weeks before leading them into a death trap."
He begins lead you back towards the town. "As far as the rumors about the place? The church has investigated, and we found no ghosts. A corruption of life and death as powerful as that could not escape our notice. Still, it's true that I feel an unexplainable fear whenever I venture near the place, and the acolytes did meet with an unusual number of accidents while inspecting the prison. Suspicious, perhaps, but we found nothing concrete, neither with eyes nor the guidance of Pharasma. Now, though, I must return to the temple and see what I can determine about these recent events. I will let you know if I turn up anything of significance, and I would ask that you extend the same courtesy." He offers you polite nod before taking his leave, moving back towards the Temple of Pharasma.
The priest's ancient brow furrows with worry when you mention the Whispering Way, and as you finish your story, he grimly traces the symbol of Pharasma over his chest. "Walk with me," he says simply as you finish. He starts slowly towards the Restlands as he glances casually about, though the frantic motions of his eyes betray the easy nature of his gaze.
"I'm glad you brought this to me," he continues in a hushed tone. "When we speak of this, we must do so quietly, and in the open - the Restlands will be sparsely populated at this time in the day, and there Pharasma will shield us. The Way is no light matter, so I hope you are certain of their involvement. I'm afraid I don't know much of the them - they hold secrecy as their greatest weapon - but if what I've heard is to be believed, their agents might be anywhere, and conversing about them in crowded places, or where walls offer places to hide, only invites them to hear us." He takes a quick glance back over his shoulder before he resumes speaking.
"Petros often saw evil in every shadow," he sighs, relaxing just a bit."[/b] And while I agree that something is amiss in Ravengro, he did have a tenancy to assume the worst in a situation. If the Way is truly involved here, you have my full support. For now, I will aid your investigation in whatever way I can personally, but as I said, this is a serious matter, and I will need something more substantial before I can devote resources of the Church to your efforts. Until then, exercise caution. I would urge you to bring anything relevant to the recent happening to both Sheriff Caeller and myself, though you might want to neglect mentioning the Way to the good sheriff. He does a good job of keeping the peace in Harrowstone, but his time in Caliphas has made him a bit paranoid, and mentioning a conspiracy may lead him to rash action."[/b]
He stops before the gates of the Restlands, turning to face you directly. "Again, you have my thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will tell you anything you wish to know of the Way - though my own knowledge of the subject is limited - and of Harrowstone. If there was indeed suspect activity occuring there, it might behoove us to determine why. Beyond that, I can give you free access to our archives, supervised and during regular temple hours. Simply announce your presence and you will be admitted. I will remind the people that not all that is different is wicked, though if you truly wish to endear them to you, it will be your own actions, not mine that will accomplish this. They've warmed to you a little since you've arrived, but many of you have been rather reclusive - they think you hold yourselves above them, or that you're keeping secrets. Especially that young Varisian you travel with. Opening up to the town a little would go a long way in earning their trust."
+1 Trust Point. Current Trust Points: 25
I suppose I ought to throw in my two cents, since the way I interpret good and evil alignments will likely have some small significance in the campaign. Here's the way I usually play it...
Beings with an aligned subtype cannot be any alignment other than that subtype. These are usually outsiders, which I interpret as physical manifestations of an ideal - they are incapable of being anything else. Their alignment cannot be changed naturally, only with powerful magic, and when that occurs, their subtype instantly changes and in the case of outsiders, they begin a slow transformation into a different type of being (so if you nail a Succubus with a Helm of Opposite Alignment, for example, she begins a very slow - likely centuries long - transformation into an angelic being). Note that this applies only to creatures with an actual aligned subtype, not all outsiders.
As far as mortals go, they are generally capable of deviances from the norm and of radical changes in their alignment, with a few exceptions. A few creatures simply have physiological quirks that make a good alignment difficult at best. A perfect example from 3.5 was the mind flayer. Lords of Madness explained that due to the way their brains are wired, they are literally incapable of feeling benevolent emotions, making alignments other than evil impossible for them. The only commonly encountered creatures for which I have a similar interpretation are goblinoids. Due the the psychotic way goblins and bugbears have been presented in PF, I play them as have a natural chemical imbalance that sparks their psychotic and sadistic urges. These creatures require magic aid in order to change alignment, though it need not be quite as powerful as that required to redeem an outsider with an aligned subtype. Ogres are also usually a pretty safe bet for being 'always evil' in any campaign I'm running.
As far as slaying beings generally considered to be evil, I take into account the world in which the characters live - one that has goblins, orcs, drow, and devils running about. It's not really a place where we have the luxury of politically correct thought, and I don't necessarily always apply modern conventions of morality to a setting dealing with medieval fiction. Even though I abhor the "it's evil, kill it" mentality, I generally consider this characteristic of a neutral alignment at worst when it is applied to monstrous races. Basically, think of the various PC races being locked in a perpetual state of war with the monstrous demihumans, with expectations of local society coming into play where appropriate. Think of orcs and goblins and whatnot as you would an enemy solider, and you'll get a good idea of what will and will not fly for good characters in my game. You come across a band of armed orcs in the woods and handily dispatch them with no questions asked, and it's considered fairly standard, provided you don't torture or otherwise brutalize them. A clearly unarmed band, however, or one containing a large number of non-combatants, is another story, just as it would be to ventilate a goblin approaching a town gate bearing a flag of truce or surrender.
That being said, I'm certainly not going to fault a good-aligned character for taking a more even-handed approach to such creatures. A more open attitude towards the "savage" races in this game would be best described as uncommon but not unheard of. You'll probably frustrate a few people, but most of them will just shrug their shoulders and think you're weird - they don't mind as long as the problem's been dealt with.
Alright, I guess you do have a point about me springing this on you suddenly. We'll go ahead and go with RAW for alignment detection (the results of your abilities are still unchanged - Caeller showed up as Lawful, and neither showed up as Evil or Good).
I guess I'm just worried that PCs will get into the mindset of "Is it evil? Yes? I kill it!" which I've seen happen far too often in other games. As long is things don't devolve to that point, I'm content.
Alright, I'm considering one of two options as far as Athletic goes. The first is to rename it to something like "Outdoorsman" and have it provide a bonus to Survival in addition to Athletics. That's the most likely route right now, and any prestige or feat that would normally require Athletic as a feat would instead require either Skill Focus (Athletics) or this new feat, on a case-by-case basis.
The other one I'm batting around is probably a bit too good, but I was thinking of scrapping both Athletic and Acrobatic (because who really wants that Fly bonus?) and rolling them into a single feat called Physical Conditioning that gives a +2 bonus to Athletics and Acrobatics.
Ah, and I think I'm going to have to say that yes, you need to have two OTHER allies threatening an opponent for Gang Up to work.
I've posted my current houserules in the Campaign Information thread. I think that everyone should be okay with them, though if you think any of them are grossly unfair, I'm prepared to discuss it with you. A quick explanation of the reasons behind the rules...
Weapon Finesse: This just seems like the way it should have been from the start, to me. It prevents a common feat tax, and at the cost of a feat, dex-based warriors can get a little help with damage.
Athletics: This is one of the few things I really liked in 4E. I feel that this streamline was simply one that should have happened, and that Acrobatics was just a little too good as a skill. This affords a slight out-of-combat niche to the strength-oriented classes without such a skill sink, as well as taking some of the uber out of Acrobatics. You may re-allocate skill points at this point if you desire to take ranks in Athletics.
Alignment Detection: I've always preferred a more investigative approach to determining whether someone is good or evil (especially given the nature of this game), and want the fluidity of mortal alignments to be reflected in the magic system. I realize this might be the one change people may take issue with, though I encourage you to give it a try before railing against it.
Called Shots: Like it says, I just don't want to dive into this system too fast.
Neither of the men register when you cast Detect Good, and only the sheriff seems to be Lawful. Also, I have a few house rules when it comes to detecting alignment which I will go over soon - sorry I neglected to mention them. You would naturally be aware of this as it is the way magic simply functions in the campaign, but unless you are looking at a creature with an actual aligned subtype, they register as neutral unless they are actively contemplating or engaging in some type of aligned activity. In this case, the sheriff's duty's as a lawkeeper are very much on his mind, thus he registers as lawful.
I want to give everyone a heads up that I'm going to post a few house-rules in the Campaign Information later tonight. I don't think anyone will find them objectionable. So far, it should just be the weapon finesse rule we've discussed, streamlining a few skills into a new Athletics skill (including jumping from Acrobatics), and a change in the way alignment detection works.
Father Grimburrow halts as you approach him, along with the sheriff. "Of course, we might discuss anything you wish. What is this concerning?"
The sheriff waits around for a moment, hoping he will be included, though after several seconds he merely shrugs and moves back towards the jail.
You detect no traces of evil on either of the men, or in the area of your spell.
"Very, well," responds the priest, bowing his head graciously. "I leave it to you to break the news to Ms. Kendra."
The sheriff steps forward, flicking a piece of straw from his teeth. "Right. When we've learned more, we'll bring it to you, and if you turn up anything relevant in your own errands - whatever they might be - I'd ask that you let me know." The two of them turn to leave, though Caeller quick stops himself and turns quickly on his heel. "Oh. I hate to sound crass, but if you do want to see the grave for yourself, let me or one of my deputies know. We're keeping it open for a couple of days, and one of use will be out there most times. We'll get this resolved, I promise you that, but it's bad for the village's sensibilities to keep a desecrated grave open for too long. We'll have to fill it back in before week's end, body or no, and I'd ask that you let Ms. Kendra know before then. As next of kin, there are a few legal issues she'll have to wrap up." With that, he turns back towards Father Grimburrow, and the two of them start back towards the temple.