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In the deep night, Ned digs fists into his eyes as he tries to stay awake near the warming blaze as his companions slumber. Without warning, there's a terrible scream from upstairs, a crash like a vase or lamp striking a hard surface, and then silence. Everyone is awake.
The scream sounded like Jakker's wife, Freta.
The dogs whine a bit and then trot forward, their noses extended with tails wagging furiously.
"Ha, Sandpoint!" The man is elderly and limps forward. His crinkled visage comes into view under the light of his lamp dangling under its rusted chain. "Didn't think you were the Creeper!"
Ned has known this man from his own childhood. This is Sander, who has worked as a servant for the Quinns for his entire life.
"So the Mayor's wantin' to know what's takin' us so long, huh? Come inside by the fire. You'll be wantin' to see Master Quinn."
Once inside and after introductions have taken place, Jakker Quinn welcomes you inside to a small sitting room lit only by a roaring fire. Firelight glints off the stone walls, casting the room in shades of dull orange and red.
"My apologies for the suspicious greeting earlier. Out in the countryside, we get some queer folks wandering through, and at night, we can be a little .. jumpy. You're welcome to spend the night here and see for yourself how the mill's shaping up in the morning. Will that give you sufficient time to inform the Mayor?"
Due to a washed out bridge necessitating a long detour, it's early evening before you make it to the Quinn's residence. A sturdy, if small and rustic, manor house rests atop a low rising hill. As you approach, a pair of mastiffs gallop towards you, with bristling hair and a low growing growl.
About 20 yards behind the dogs, you can make out a shadowy outline of a man holding aloft a swinging lantern. "Ahoy, there, who are you?"
Yeah, it was fun. Exhausting but fun. We're on the east coast, and decided to do a trip 'out west'. So we visited Zion Canyon for a few days then flew to LA, and stayed in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland. My oldest kid and I did a day at Star Wars Celebration, and we also all spent a couple of days at the 2 Disney parks.
Lleidr, after scanning Selia's room for quite some time, you spy a partial footprint near the threshold, outlined in a thin crust of dried mud. The foot was unshod and apparently human.
Setting a snare in Selia's room is a simple matter for you, and you all see how to avoid triggering it on yourselves. To the unsuspecting, it would be difficult to see this. The trap is set and you're all ready to head out to the Quinn's new mill.
"That's a wonderful idea, Brother Nicholae, but perhaps we can build a monument to all of you, which we'll rededicate each year during the Swallowtail Festival."
Hemlock nods. "A monument is the least we can do for you, in exchange for saving this town. It'll be a reminder that whatever troubles we face in the future, we can get through it."
Mayor Deverin laughs. "Well, I doubt we'll see anything worse around here than united goblin tribes."
Hemlock grimaces. "There's always the Scarnetti clan. I think the gods put them on this earth to make my job harder."
"You're not alone in thinking that way. That reminds me ... the town could use your help with something else. The Quinns are trying to rebuild the Soggy River Mill, and if they manage it, the Scarnettis no longer have the only grain mill in the area. Would you folks mind checking in with the Quinn family? There's no rush. I'm sure you'll want to rest a bit for a few days first."
Hemlock says. "It's better if you all go, since you're not Sandpoint officials. I can give you directions, but I'm pretty sure Ned knows the way already."
[Night, Sandpoint, 12th Day After Goblin Raid]
Father Zantus receives you, and without any words exchanged, knows exactly why you’ve arrived at the cathedral at this late hour. “As long as there is a Sandpoint, these young men will be remembered,” he promises. “Their sacrifice has enabled all of us to live in a world that is safer.”
The next morning Hemlock is waiting on you all to get downstairs. “After you’ve eaten, the Mayor wants a complete rundown of everything that you’ve seen.”
Several townsfolk crowd around your table, including Brodert Quink, Sandpoint’s sage-in-residence. “And, after you’ve talked to her, my friends, I’d appreciate a visit myself. I’m most curious what you’ve seen inside the catacombs of Thistletop. My guess is what you’ll tell me will confirm my theories about the place.”
Later, in town hall, as promised, Mayor Deverin hands each of you a leather pouch stuffed with coins. She then relaxes in an old fashioned, dark lacquered chair opposite you, smiling. “Well, the Scarnettis have lost a round. They can’t stir up the folks in town about a goblin threat now, can they?
"You’ve done good, although I am truly sorry about your losses. I remember those boys as they grew up here very well, and believe me, I’m as saddened as you. We’ll have a memorial service for them in a couple of days with full honors.”
Since there's no real time pressure at play here, you have the leisure to take as long as it takes to find many things in the cold dark waters:
92 additional gp
I'm not sure how much more time you want to spend in Thisletop, and that's OK. We can continue our posts focused on your recovery & identification of these objects along with carrying the dead back to town.
In the meantime, I'll start a thread where you've already returned to Sandpoint, and we can see what the reaction of the town is in regards to your return.
I'm going to be offline from 4/10 through 4/18 for a family vacation. Not to rush you, but we're at the end of the first part of Rise of the Runelords. Can you guys give me a couple of Swim and Perception checks each, if you're interested in seeing what lies at the bottom of this cave? Then, we'll close the books on this chapter. We can assume that, if they're curious, Nich & Selia join Ned and Lleidr in the cave.
I'd like to get rolling on Part II before I leave.
With great difficulty and with assistance from Nicholae holding your lifeline from above as well as from the summoned dolphins, you manage to find and free your brave companions. It takes tremendous effort to haul up their bodies, but somehow you all manage it.
But, that's not all you find. Ned brings up a small, rotted leather purse of 8 gold coins minted by the city of Magnimar. It looks like there's other treasures in the floor of the cave, scattered among piles of bleached and brittle bones.
The cold ocean water in the cave churns from a new source ... three sleek finned shapes cavort about, diving and splashing. The bunyip cries aloud in outrage.
Ned's blow crashes into the monster, and it sinks under the surface, leaving a crimson trail.
Several long moments pass. There's no further sign of the bunyip. Nor do you see Jubrayl or Hakak.
NOTE - I'm not including a map update since this encounter is essentially over.
NOTE - If the lack of organization in this post is confusing, let me know.
Breathing heavily but happy to see a friendly face again, Selia runs and re-joins Nicholae. (NOTE - your casting will begin at the start of the next round, ie later in this post).
With better leverage on the ledge, the bunyip thrusts his bulk forward, snapping his jaws full of needle-sharp teeth and Lleidr finds it impossible to get away in time (8 hp dmg).
Catching another fortunate current, Ned bumps up against the ledge and finds a suitable handhold. (NOTE - I'm assuming a 2nd move action, to climb up and get onto the ledge).
Nich tries fishing for Hakak and Jubrayl, but their bodies are nowhere to be seen.
Dodging another attack from the bunyip (NOTE - it got an AoO), Lleidr treds warily backwards, going behind Ned as the ranger emerges from the water. Another arcane blast slams into the monster, as it continues to bellow in rage. However, Lleidr's wound bleeds profusely, and the halfling looses another 6 hp dmg.
Standing at the edge of the deep well, Selia enters a trance-like state, once again chanting liturgical prayers, beseeching the divine for aid.
The bunyip swims a single square to the east, eager to engage this new trespasser. It nips Ned with a small but deep bite (3 hp dmg). The animal's eye gleam with malevolent violence, and its body is shaking in rage.
next round - Selia + 1d3 dolphins
Instead of updating the map and doing the usual recap, here's the outcome:
Selia's got another round of running back before she's back at the hole, but she'll returned with the effects of Barkskin! Nich's still got a firm grip on the party's lifeline. The water's proving a tad calmer, Ned catches a random current and is only 20' away from the bunyip now. The bunyip has a better grip on the ledge and lashes out with deadly force but, totally focused on his enemy, Lleidr flattens himself against the wall and avoids another snap of the bunyip's terrifying maw.
So, not much has changed, although I'm suspicious that Lleidr's player is somewhat psychic. I rolled a very high number for the monster's attack, but it missed only because Lleidr employed full defense.
No, I'm not planning a TPK, and once you guys surmount the terrain challenges here, I'm sure you'll dispatch your enemy(s) very quickly.
Since both Hakak and Jub failed their Swim checks by a huge margin and since they're both abandoned PCs, it's an opportune time to tidy things up a bit. The game should start to move a lot faster now, too, since we only need 4 player responses to keep the flow going.
[Early Afternoon, Thistletop, 12th Day After Goblin Raid, Round 2 Part 2, Thistletop Sea Cave]
The rough waters prove impossible for Ned to make any progress. It’s all the ranger can do to keep afloat!
With a gurgle, Hakak disappears underneath the waves.
[NOTE – I didn’t get an action from Nich, so I’m assuming he’s still manning topside) Nich holds tight of the rope on the surface, hoping to haul his friends to safety soon.
Dodging the great beast’s maw, Lleidr looses another arcane bolt against his foe.
[Round 3 Part 1]
Finally, her heartbeat and breath begin to slow, and Selia is able to master her fear. Taking a moment inside an overhang of dense thistle, the fear subsides completely.
Thrashing madly in the water, Jubrayl begins to sink! Lleidr and Ned now see neither Hakak nor Jubrayl.
With an angry snarl, the bunyip leaps out towards Lleidr again, but the halfling is much too fast for the lumbering creature.
[Early Afternoon, Thistletop, 12th Day After Goblin Raid, Round 1 Part 2, Thistletop Sea Cave]
Ned tries shimmying down the rope, but slips, and crashes into the water far below (15 hp dmg, 4 points nld).
Hakak dives into the water, yelling a roar of his own in response to the beast lurking below (same dmg).
Nich stays up top, holding tight to the rope.
Retrieving his arcane wand, Lleidr commands an arcane bolt to fly out and smack into the bunyip’s face.
[Round 2, Part 1]
Selia keeps running! She’s at the entrance to Thistletop by now.
Jubrayl struggles in the rough water, and goes under!
Wounded, the bunyip howls in pain and its face distorts into an ugly snarl. Again it lunges at the halfling, but Lleidr steps back just in time to avoid its bite.
Eek, i should have mentioned this earlier, and i'll update tonight's map to show it. But you can see daylight coming through a tunnel in the south-west. This tunnel originates from a different cliff face than the one you saw.
I didn't have daylight set up properly on Maptool, which is the reason for this oversight.
I may not have described this well. The hole up top leads into a 70' shaft before it opens into the cave that Lleidr, Hakak and Jubrayl are inside. Imagine a funnel turned upside down.
You'd have to jump down the shaft (DO IT!) to get line of sight after you've landed in the cave, or the bunyip would have to swim directly under the hole.
[Early Afternoon, Thistletop, 12th Day After Goblin Raid, Round 1, Thistletop Sea Cave]
Jubrayl makes his save and leaps down the hole into the water (failing a DC 20 Swim check: 15 hp dmg and 4 points of nld). Amidst a spout of water splashing up towards the rock ceiling, he smashes into the water, directly under the shaft.
Panicked, Selia flings away her weapons and runs towards the entrance of Thistletop's tunnels.
The bunyip races towards the southern ledge, its howl a challenge to the halfling. Its massive jaws reach out and snap at Lleidr, but the halfling dodges the beast.
You're able to scale the steep wall and get down to the ledge. As you're examining your surroundings, a large, brown-furred face pops up from the surface of the water and spies you. Its mouth opens, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth, and the creature lets loose a horrifying roar.
Will save please (it's a fear-based effect).
After about an hour, Lleidr once again is dangling from a rope about 10' above the churning water, and 70' from the surface.
The place is unchanged from your last visit:
A glittering grotto sparkles here, its walls dripping with moisture and alive with sea urchins, anemones, and other tidal life. The cave’s roof
Ned - correct about the sea cave's location. It's under the cliffs, on the mainland. But the bridge could be rigged to provide a way to climb down the cliff face. Of course, you could just use a regular rope to achieve the same effect.
Looking down the face of the cliff, you see no opening to the cave below above water. Under the water, Lleidr spies an opening in the rock which leads south in the direction of the cave.
I think we're going to need to get a post per day from each player. Right now, you all are at a decision point: explore Thistletop further or return to town.
I'd like to update you with goings on in town or with the result of dropping into that hole again, but I don't know what the party's doing. So, put a post in Gameplay; even if your character doesn't have a specific thing he/she can be doing, you can let us know what you're thinking or you can say which direction you think the party should take.
Congrats on wrapping up the first volume of Rise of the Runelords! In addition to your newly found loot, there's also the promised reward you each get from the Mayor.
I'm going out of town this weekend. I'll post an update again on Monday. Assuming you're going back to Sandpoint, tell me of anything in particular you'd like to do or perhaps someone you want to speak with after your return.
[Early Afternoon, Thistletop, 12th Day After Goblin Raid, Round One, Thistletop Second Level]
Once again, Jubrayl’s blade smashes into the massive creature, shattering a huge part of its carapace into slivers.
His axe held aloft, Hakak jumps into the water, and chops at the beastie’s snapping claws and armored spindly legs.
Selia’s Bless gives each of you renewed vigor and spirit, and her newly appeared eagle tears and claws at the crab.
In unison with Selia, Nich bestows a blessing of his own upon Ned.
An arcane bolt flies from Lleidr’s mystic wand and smacks the giant crab.
Ned draws back his sword in readiness for a powerful blow. Twisting his body to dodge the crab’s mindless assault, he closes and swings his blade with terrific strength. The crab’s underside cracks and goes to pieces like crockery dropped on a stone floor. The creature collapses into the shallow pool, with the helmet falling on its side.
After rummaging through the pool for roughly ten minutes, you’ve uncovered:
NOTE – I didn’t upload a new map image since the combat is over.