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Bag of Holding

Our Mysterious Benefactor's page

2,619 posts. Alias of James Martin (RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32).


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Initiative!
Pai: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
Slumper: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
Paxs: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
Corbyn: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Ruperta: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
Skeletons: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12

Round 1:
26 Paxs
25 Ruperta
23 Pai
15 Slumper
14 Corbyn
12 Skeleton

Surprise round:

Ruperta calls down fire upon the skeletons! Reflex leader: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Skeleton Reflex: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3

All but six of the skeletons explode into ash as the holy fire arcs down!

Paxs hastes the party, Slumper readies for battle and Pai casts a spell of breakage on the leader!
Lashton Fort: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
The spell causes the skeletal warrior to shudder as dust rains down from beneath his armor. He slumps slightly, but still appears strong enough to do battle!

Heroes are up!


Any other surprise round actions?


From across the causeway, a door in the castle opens. Out rides a skeletal rider on a skeletal nightmare. His lance is decorated with dessicated heads, his armor gleams with polish. Behind him follows 16 heavily armored skeletons, in four rows of four with military style and bearing. They step out, fall into lock step and march toward you!


As Slumper sets foot on the causeway bridge, the Harrow deck in his backpack suddenly begins to shake and rattle! A strange wind that blows only around Slumper appears, causing his hair to fly about. In the wind you can see shapes: screaming faces, tormented souls. With a sudden WHOOSH, Zellara appears in front of you, her form surrounded by the howling spirits. She opens her mouth to scream, but her scream is cut off as her ghost is sucked across the causeway and into the Castle! The wind abruptly dies and all is quiet.

But the Harrow deck is no longer magical...


Despite your caution, the orcs simply watch and mutter as you pass. The long stone bridge lies ahead...

Who is carrying Zellara's Harrow Deck?


Cireth & Zanu:
The blood stain is small, too small for a man to have bled to death here. And the base of the gargoyle is too smooth. If this had been an accident, you would expect the gargoyle to have weathered on the bottom, as time and the elements slowly eroded it away until it fell. But instead the base is smooth and not weathered at all, as if it hasn't been exposed to the elements long.

Ezechias keeps an eye out, but other than the pervasive sense of closeness, nothing seems to be amiss.


Harrowstone is located on a barren hill south of the city of Ravengro, the stark, sagging roof of its central structure visible through a large gap in the surrounding wall. A partially overgrown track leads from the southern edge of town, winding around the base of the hill and then back up along its southern slope to the prison itself.

Harrowstone’s grounds are contained within a crumbling ivy-covered stone wall, the eastern portion of which has fallen away into a huge sinkhole that formed when the extensive eastern wing of the prison dungeon collapsed after the dreadful fire of 4661—this collapse took with it the prison graveyard, which now lies in ruins at the bottom of the murky pond that filled the sinkhole.

As you approach the walls, you can easily find the place where the Professor was found dead. In fact a large gargoyle lies smashed, with a rust-red stain beneath it. However it is the feel of the place that impacts you the most: an overwhelming feeling of being watched, a close, paranoid feeling. It's not hard to imagine that the old ruined prison would be haunted by the restless souls of the dead.


Okay, it's now the time on Sprockets when we need maps. I am using Roll20 to keep track of everything. Thus you will need a user account there. It's free, it rocks and here's the link.


The orc stares hard at you for a long moment. "Very well. The Deadwatchers will let you pass. Beware the castle. A shadow dragon lives within, as well as many, many dead things. Great evil sleeps here. Take care not to awaken it." He turns and barks orders in Orcish to his men, who reluctantly pull back and allow you to pass.

Castle Scarwall looks every bit as foreboding as the legends say. Dark walls rise from darker bedrock to steep rooflines set with gargoyles and minarets. Battlements look down from towers and defensive walls, and many dark carrion birds perch among these and soar above them. Mists rising off of the black tarn obscure the lower portions of the rocky island, giving the whole an ethereal appearance. Surprisingly, even though the structure is many centuries old, its walls and roofs remain intact with no visible breaches or obvious signs of damage. A ghostly glow lights some of the windows and arrow slits, and now and then, faint flickerings betray the motion of creatures within.

A high bridge crosses the vast expanse of black water between the barbican gate and the entrance to Castle Scarwall. The bridge is ornate and in excellent condition, with only a few tenacious patches of moss and lichen clinging to it here and there. High arching columns reaching from the waters below support the broad span, each of which is marked by a pair of sinister gargoyles that stare out over the dark lake. A larger pair of these statues flanks a great archway that encompasses the near end of the bridge.

Across the bridge, the Castle waits.


The orcs seem confused by this and there's a bit of chatter back and forth, then the big one pokes his head over the edge again. "Alright, pinkskin. You stay there, I'm coming down."

In a moment the orc emerges. He's huge and green skinned with a massive axe strapped across his back. He stops a few feet from Ruperta and huffs. "What do you want?"


The orcs look somewhat confused. There is a chatter of voices behind the parapet. "Why is a pinkskin coming to this place? This place is death!"


As Ruperta walks toward the ruins, the orcs notice her and scramble for cover. From atop the ramparts of one of the ruined towers a larger orc appears. In harsh Common he calls out, "Halt there, pinkskin! This is Deadwatcher territory. Leave or die."


Mother Grimburrow steps closer and lowers her voice. "Gibs Hephenus came to us yesterday. He's been in a consecrated room with an acolyte guarding him all day and night. He's not moved from that room, I can assure you. He is not your possessed party."

Zanu, despite your best book flipping, the most you discover is that spirits such as ghosts and demons can possess the living. The best defense is a spell designed to ward against evil or a consecrated room.

It's not getting toward dinnertime. What do you wish to do now? Or are we ready to move toward the next day?


Mother Grimburrow turns and steps close to all of you. "Do you know what I spend my days doing, young ones? I help give birth to the children of this town and when their time is up, I help send them out of it. I have no desire to see any of them end their time early through 'adventuring'. And when the times comes, I will see to your corpses as well. So don't mistake me: If I had the information to save your lives I would gladly share it. But I will not aid in your deaths by making any of it sound sexy or glamorous. If you know of one of my flock who needs aid, bring them to me or tell me know. Otherwise, kindly refrain from dying any sooner than Pharasma wishes."


Ruperta can see at least a half dozen orcs milling around the ruins.


Cireth and Caesare dive into the town hall's archives after sweet-talking the elderly female clerk. They discover some information about the two remaining prisoners.

Of the five notorious prisoners, only Father Charlatan, real name Seflick Corvin, was not technically a murderer, yet his crimes were so blasphemous that several churches demanded he be punished to the full extent of Ustalavic law. Although he claimed to be an ordained priest of any number of faiths, Father Corvin was in fact a traveling con artist who used faith as a mask and a means to bilk the faithful out of money in payment for false miracles or cures. He became known as Father Charlatan after his scheme was exposed and his Sczarni accomplices murdered a half-dozen city guards in an attempt to make good the group’s escape.

The Mosswater Marauder (Ispin Onyxcudgel: Only 5 years before his hometown of Mosswater was destined to be overrun and ruined by monsters from the nearby river, Ispin Onyxcudgel was a well-liked artisan and a doting husband. When he discovered his wife’s infidelity, he f lew into a jealous rage and struck her dead with his hammer, shattering her skull and his sanity with one murderous blow. Wracked with shame and guilt, Ispin became convinced that if he could rebuild his wife’s skull she would come back to life—but unfortunately, he could not find the last blade-shaped fragment from the murder site. So instead, Ispin became the Mosswater Marauder. Over the course of several weeks, the cunning dwarf stalked and murdered nearly 20 people while searching for
just the right skull fragment. He was captured just before murdering the daughter of a visiting nobleman from Varno, and was carted off to Harrowstone that same night.

He finds the names of the guards who lived, but all of them seemed to have died since the closure of Harrowstone. They also find some faded maps of the grounds of the prison, but nothing on the actual prison layout. The elderly clerk tells you that such maps were only kept at the prison to deter any would-be break-out artists and burned when the prison burned.

Sonny and Xerice pursue Brother Haius, asking him questions about haunts and their ghostly cousins. He knows a bit about the unquiet dead, telling you that most spirits and haunts linger for a reason, usually unfinished business or because of a traumatic event. He says that they can be disrupted by overwhelming them with positive energy or by consecrating the ground. He also conjectures that if spotted early, they may be avoidable. However, having been mostly a scholar he has no real advice to share. He is interrupted by the unsmiling face of Mother Grimburrow, who curtly reminds him of his obligations to tend to the shrine at the cemetery. He smiles, bows and runs off.

Grimburrow turns on you, her tight face even tighter as she stares at you. "Kindly stop filling my novice's mind with tales of adventure, outsiders. We've had quite enough of adventure in Ustalav. Good day." She says in a clipped voice and sweeps away to tend to the shrines.


You can always make un-called for skill checks if there's something you want to know or think your character might know.


Ezechias:

Mother Grimburrow greets your questions with a tight lipped stare that, even though paladins generally don't feel fear, does make you feel like the butterflies in your stomach exploded into flames. However, as soon as she's dismissed you with a curt nod, one of the acolytes gestures at you from an alcove. He's human, around his late teens, and wears the robes of a novitiate in the temple. He's going prematurely bald, but his remaining hair is reddish. He looks somewhat nervous and checks twice to ensure Mother Grimburrow is out of earshot.

"Reverend Mother wouldn't approve of me telling you this; the Whispering Way is not something Pharasma wants spread about or perpetuated, but I figure you being a holy warrior and all, it's okay to tell you. The Whispering Way is a sinister organization of necromancers that has been active in the Inner Sea region for thousands of years. Agents of the Whispering Way often seek alliances with undead creatures, or are themselves undead. The Whispering Way’s most notorious member was Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant, although the society itself has existed much longer than even that mighty necromancer." He leans in closer and whispers the next part.

"The Whispering Way itself is a series of philosophies that can only be transferred via whispers— the philosophies are never written or spoken of loudly, making the exact goals and nature of the secretive philosophy difficult for outsiders to learn much about. The temple here has heard of rumors around Ustalav, and I spoke with the Professor a few times, but we've never heard anything solid. If we did, Mother Grimburrow would belt on her breastplate and let loose Hell. Sorry I can't tell you more. I have to go now. If you need aid, ask for Brother Haius." He smiles and quickly slips away before his absence can be noted.


All the research so far has been in the professor's library or from interviewing local residents. There's also the town hall or Temple of Pharasma that are available.


Laori overhears your words and smiles, skipping (literally) off to tell Sial he's in. They break camp quickly and are soon ready to travel.

The rocky volcanic ground here is warm to the touch and studded with volcanic glass that makes walking a cautious affair. As you approach the top of the volcanic caldera the Castle sits in, you can see it's actually a lake, with the castle situated on an island in the center. A ruined barbican, a fortified outpost or gatehouse, sits on this side of the lake, with a crumbling wooden bridge heading across the water toward the Castle. You can see signs of orcs in the barbican, and can't be sure you haven't been spotted.

You have three approaches: the barbican and bridge; swimming through the lake; or using magic to fly to the castle. Which will it be?


Okay, if you want to perform some more research, give me some knowledge Local or History rolls. If you want to head to the Prison, let me know!


"If this is your stance, then Asyra and I will take our leave of you. Good luck in Scarwall." Sial nods to the kyton and begins walking back toward their camp. Laori shudders. "He's always sooooo serious and gloomy. It's like he doesn't have any fun at all!"


So, is the goal to leave for Harrowstone this morning?


Leftover funds: 1d4 ⇒ 1 Platinum.


Alright, I've taken the liberty of making an introductory post in the gameplay thread. Feel free to play off it.


Aside from the bloody letters, the hot topic is the departure of Cassandra who left in the night. Kendra reports that she received word of a relation in danger and gave her regrets, including returning the ring she received as inheritance. The discussion is interrupted by a knock at the door. A coachman waits there, along with a man who shows signs of both human and outsider ancestry. Kendra directs the coachman to an empty room, while escorting the man into the parlor.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Sonny Wright. I sent Sonny a letter along with the rest of you, but his arrival was delayed. Please, get acquainted while I retrieve something for you, Mister Wright."

As you begin speaking, Kendra returns with a small wooden coffer and hands it to Sonny. "Father wished you to have this, as a remembrance. I kept it back during the reading of will, since I feared you were killed before you could arrive." Inside the coffer is a amulet on a simple leather thong. The amulet is a silver figurine of Saranrae, arms spread wide, with radiance flowing from her. However, it seems as if it was melted in a fire at some point, since it is slightly contorted and flowing. For now the amulet adds +1 healing to any channels you make to heal damage. It may display more powers as time goes by.

Feel free to roleplay out the greetings and bring Sonny up to speed in character.


Sonny, welcome. Your crunch looks fine.

Let's say you were invited to the funeral, but an outbreak of zombies in the city you were in delayed your departure and you have now arrived late at the late Professor's home.


Sial's face goes from smile to hard in a blink. "Attack my companion and you will see what Zon-Kuthon's favored servant can wreak. Asyra is my companion, sworn to aid and protect me. She has already proven her worth in the Desnan shrine. She will not act without my leave and I vouchsafe for her. If you cannot accept her, then we shall part and explore this castle separately."


Cool. Just wanted to make sure!

The Shadowcount smiles. "Of course, if you'd rather Asyra was left to her own devices, I'm certain she would love to be free to travel the face of Golarion."


Doh, my mistake! His companion is a female kyton, not a succubus. Sorry!


Laori runs over to see you, while the Shadowcount walks over at a leisurely pace. The perky elf woman scoops Pai up in a bear hug, squealing with delight. "Oooo! It's soooo good to see you! No, silly! I've been tasked with exploring Scarwall since the beginning. After I reported back in after talking to Salvator, my superiors wanted me to check out this moldy old place! You know it used to be a temple to Xon-Kuthon? Plus, my superiors thought it would be great if I could find people to help me through the castle! And now you're here! Isn't that wonderful!" Laori darts in to hug Pai again, before the gnome can stop her.

"Help us through the castle, elf." The Shadowcount calls out with a tight lipped glare at the elf. "Greetings, again. It would seem our paths were meant to cross. I take it you have met my... colleague then?"


I'm contacting one of the people in the recruitment thread who expressed interest in playing a cleric. If he doesn't respond, I'll take recommendations on replacement players. I've reconsidered, and you do need a cleric/positive channeler and I don't want Xerice to have to compromise her character idea.

Let's put the game on a slow idle until I can get a replacement up and running. This is a good spot for replacements, which will become much harder when you get to Harrowstone.

Of course, I reserve the right to spice up the encounters to reflect your numbers... My spice weasel is a fiendish variety, I admit.


As you move southward, the land becomes increasingly rocky until you break into an area where large mountains jut from the ground. Scarwall is built on once of these, situated in the bowl of an extinct volcano. At the base of the mountain, two tents wait. One is large and grand, the other small and practical. Standing in front of them are three figures: Shadowcount Sial, his succubus companion and the perky leather clad elf Laori. Laori is standing on her tip-toes, waving furiously, while Sial gives her a look of pure and unadulterated loathing.


The town guard soon disperse the crowd, leaving you to watch as one of the guards begins to wipe off the letters. He tastes a drop of it and spits. "Chicken blood." he mutters before washing the letters away.

What are you going to do today?


The barkeep hands over the bottle, and you teleport back to your friends.

The next day you once again gather and teleport just outside the small town. Farmers in the fields blink when you suddenly appear, then seem to decide it's best not to be too curious.


The woman shakes her head slowly. "Yer as damn fool as them. Head south till you see it. It's an hour's ride. You'll know it. Yer guts'll freeze."


The lady shrugs. "Jes' told 'em not to go. Dead things walk there and the dark has eyes. They seemed pretty happy 'bout it."

Yes, Scarwall Castle.


The woman nods, and takes the gold. "They come in here couple nights ago, asking about Scarwall. Perky elf and morbid old man. Seemed to dislike each other. Asked all sorts of questions. Headed off toward the castle."


"3 silver. You with them pain-worshippers?"


At the mention of wine, the woman sniffs loudly, turns and pulls out a dusty bottle. She bites the glass top off, spitting it behind the counter and pours a thick red wine into a mug. "Scarwall. Ain't smart to go there. Dead walk. And worse."


The tavern is spare and lightly furnished. It looks as if you could rebuild every bit of furniture in this place is the span of a weekend.


The woman stares hard at Ruperta, then grunts. "Leesa. Ain't much news. Never is."


Ruperta scries!
- Scrying on Queen Illeosa fails, as your spell hits another spell designed to defeat scrying!
- Field Marshall Cressida Kroft looks tired. She sits at her desk, working on paperwork, which mainly consists of requests for funds that she must deny because it seems her ledger is increasingly empty.
- Trinia seems to be in some sort of ruin, exploring with three other people, one of whom is an elven man with long white hair.
- Vencarlo cannot be located!
- The Grey Maiden patrols an alley in Korvosa. At the mere sight of her, citizens suddenly find a need to be elsewhere, some of them bearing tell-tale bruises and marks of abuse!

Divination reveals a small village in the shadow of Scarwall, called Lasthome. It's a village of less than 100 people, mainly half-orcs with some humans. The villagers mostly farm, with some goat-herding, and seem to be shunned by the orcish inhabitants of the Hold of Belkzen. It's not likely to be a very friendly village, but they're also not likely to try to kill or enslave you.

Pai and Ruperta teleport 1d100 ⇒ 60 to Lasthome. They appear in a field near the town and walk into town. They get a few curious looks and curt nods as they pass. There seems to be one inn/tavern in town, not named but known by a sign of a fist holding a mug. If they go inside, they find a clean, if rundown tavern. The bartender is a large woman who looks used to wielding a sword. Her nose was broken a long time ago and never set properly and she looks you hard in the eye as you walk in. She grunts a greeting, then pours you two mugs of strong ale, unasked for.


No worries. Actually the behir and possibly fighting Kafar and Nefti were the only battles you missed. And Kafar and Nefti got stuck in quicksand, which made them a lot less likely to fight... Still, I'm glad you all had a good time!


Nefti and Kafar look at each other and nod. Kafar speaks, "We would be very grateful for that recommendation. I think the Society would be a much better organization to work for!"

You pass the night quietly, as Nefti entertains you with stories and tales far too wild to be true. The next morning Amenopheus returns, looking tired but pleased. "I believe this is the beginning of a very promising moment for the Sages and for the Society. I thank you, my friends, for aiding my cause so aptly. I shall definitely commend you to the Decemvirate."

Amenopheus teleports you back to Eto, only to discover Grandmaster Torch has disappeared.

Thus passes Destiny of the Sands! I shall have chronicle sheets to you soon! Thanks for playing!


The only two prisoners you are able to find mention of in the library are the Piper and the Lopper.

Before he snatched his victims, the Piper taunted his targets with a mournful dirge on his f lute. He preferred to paralyze lone victims by dosing their meals with lich dust and then allowed his pet stirges to drink the victims dry of blood.

When the Lopper stalked prey, he would hide in the most unlikely of places, sometimes for days upon end with only a few supplies to keep him going while he waited for the exact right moment to strike. Once his target was alone, the Lopper would emerge to savagely behead his victim with a handaxe.

Of the Mosswater Marauder and Father Charlatan, you find nothing.

Asking around the village, you soon discover that either the locals know nothing about the specific prisoners or they refuse to speak of them.

Researching and asking around the village takes all of day 3.

Unless you have anything specific to do overnight....

Day 4:

You awaken to even more talking and mumurings of the crowd outside. As you emerge, blinking into the light, you can see that despite being scrubbed away, two letters written in blood now adorn the monument in the center of town:

VE

I'll let you know when you level. It's easier that way.


Amenopheus and Tahonikepsu are silent for a moment. Then Tahonikepsu smiles. "Let us ask the other Sage present." She motions to Amenopheus, who frowns for a moment, then smiles. He brings the topaz from his pocket and places it upon the stone column. It sits there a moment, then a topaz light illuminates Amenopheus. Tahonikepsu nods, then bows her head.

"I submit to the majority. Amenopheus shall lead us."

She and Amenopheus begin to speak quietly, but not before a crimson light shines around each of you, flows to the column and resolves itself into the fragments of the Ruby jewel. You feel yourself lighten, as the mythic power leaves you.

The last item of business is what to do with Kafar and Nefti. They have voiced interest in defecting to the Society. When you go back out, they greet you, sitting around a small cooking fire with a soup bubbling upon it.


Amenopheus begins, "As I have to this point: by researching artifacts and spells that may aid the Crusades and using them after they've been vetted and thoroughly tested. Erratic magic use is what caused the Worldwound in the first place."

Tahonikepsu nods. "I believe the issue of the wardstones is the first matter to be solved. Once we contain the demons once more, then we can focus on the issue of closing the vile portal once and for all. I believe that there must be ancient magics that would apply to the wound. A restored Order would allow us to focus the attentions of the Sages on the issue from multiple angles."


Two for Tahonikepsu, one for Amenopheus. Looks like it's up to Karos to create a tie or decide it all!


Despite her best efforts Xerice is unable to find out anything more from the townspeople than Zanu unearths. It seems that the townspeople have mostly put the issue of Harrowstone far from their minds.

Ceasare and Cireth's research about the "Splatter Man" reveal a sordid tale:

Professor Feramin was a celebrated scholar of Anthroponomastics (the study of personal names and their origins) at the Quartrefaux Archives in Caliphas. Yet an accidental association with a succubus twisted and warped his study, turning it into an obsession. Feramin became obsessed with the power of a name and how he could use it to terrify and control. Soon enough, his reputation was ruined, he’d lost his tenure, and he’d developed an uncontrollable obsession with an imaginary link between a person’s name and what happens to that name when the person dies. Every few days, he would secretly arrange for his victim to find a letter from her name written in blood, perhaps smeared on a wall or spelled out with carefully arranged entrails. Once he had spelled his victim’s name, he would at last come for her, killing her in a gory mess using a complex trap or series of rigged events meant to look like an accident.

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