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GoB's Runelords / Kingmaker mashup campaign *Spoilers for both AP's*


Rise of the Runelords

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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lift away, man. Send me an email to the address in my profile if you want any of my notes.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 29 - Diplomatic and other blunders

In attendance:
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, Black Arrow back from leave
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Mark - Human Evoker

Another pure Kingmaker session transplanted to Varisia. This was an extra long 12-hour session because we were all on holidays and it proved to be a further proof of the axiom that your PCs will follow the tangent you least want them to follow and are least prepared for.

Here's what I had planned:
- drop a few hints about things to come
- let the PCs set their own agenda for a while
- hit them with the events from Varnhold Vanishing and run it more or less as a slightly higher level version of those events to give the PCs a break from tough adventures.

The scene:
- My PCs had made contact with an entrepreneur who asked to found a new town within their exploration territory, halfway between Turtleback Ferry and Ravenmoor. They agreed. This town was needed to get the juices flowing for the beginning of KM4 if I chose to run it in the future as it is the target of an attack from the East and seen as a provocation to the kingdom there because it's close to the border.

- My PCs had recently captured a Shoanti Werewolf from a kingdom event at the end of last session, forced him to choose between death for murder or taking Belladonna followed by imprisonment until the next full moon to see if it worked. Because Jerrick (also Shoanti) decided to show him a little compassion and spent time talking with him, I decided to use him to plant a little seed about a schism among the Hawk Clan Shoanti people (North of Ravenmoor).

- I had planted other seeds, including trying to point their eyes south to Ilsurian and having a nobleman mention his missing brother (one of the KM3 quests), all of which were promptly ignored.

What actually happened:

The one tangential hint about the Shoanti was seized upon with singular vigour and the PCs delved wholeheartedly into the area I had prepared for KM4: Blood for Blood. Jerrick's player was suspicious that it was a Xanesha plot of some kind and pushed the group to go this way. The spoiler for him is it's not anything to do with Xanesha.

They headed north into the Iron Peaks and found the mountain ranges almost impassable but chose not to explore on their way so missed a bunch of potential adventure. This took them around to the border between their territory and that for Ravenmoor, whereupon they spotted their guard tower overlooking their mutual border.

They decided to go and ask about the Shoanti schism at the tower and got a frosty reception there. They decided to head into the city and ask around there, splitting into several groups:
- Richard remained outside the walls after everyone was asked to surrender their weapons at the gate as is customary.

- Abinscole and Vor headed to the tavern to try to gather information. They found the people extremely close-lipped about what is going on in the city

- Arcainen and Jerrick headed to the Church of Erastil (finding it incomplete and unoccupied), then went to the keep to talk to the lord with a very half-assed plan on what they wanted to find out about. They were fairly rudely received because they were unannounced but were eventually ushered into an audience with a very suspicious leader. The audience did not go well - they were asking about routes to the north (which is obvious based on any map) and the leaders refused to talk about the Shoanti (because in KM4, they had a deal with that tribe that led to the city being in poor shape and under martial law and whatnot).

They made some comment about the watchtower and the Baron of Ravenmoor seized upon it and made it very clear that he was unhappy about them founding a town within miles of their mutual border and that they were not to cross it or there would be trouble.

In the end, it was a very undiplomatic meeting indeed and actually works out well for the future.

- The fourth group was Wyndham who went to the Brothel and talked up the madam there, a priestess of Calistria. He rolled very well on his diplomacy checks and got some good intel about how the people in the town are worried and intimidated by the mercenaries. They talked openly about liberation which she wasn't in favour of because it's the people who usually suffer in those scenarios. They agreed to talk again and he offered to help if she sent a message of some kind.

In all, the whole trip to town was an unexpected success from a DM's point of view as there is a ton of groundwork laid for future adventures if it comes to that. The group left the town and had a long discussion about mounting an army and what they would need to do to shore up their defences in the long run. They decided to head north and start exploring, looking for the Shoanti splinter group anyway.

This led them into nasty hexes that included a random encounter with a pair of Chimera who killed several horses and Orik (who had been adventuring with them as a camp attendant/horse minder). They spent the money to raise Orik from the dead and Richard antagonized him a little by talking disparagingly about him within earshot. It was at this point when Mark's player made it to the session so the PCs sent him a Sending asking him to bring new mounts, which he did, meeting them in the new border town, which was very much under construction, called Sanos Pass.

Next, they met a 12-headed Hydra encounter that could have ended badly and then an encounter with a group of refugees who were huddling nearby and were trying to reach Thornhold (the PC kingdom). The group hummed and hawed over what to do next and decided to split up into two groups - Richard, Jerrick and Orik to lead the refugees back and the others to continue on.

The big group found the Armag's Tomb encampment (the Shoanti schism group) and were attacked without warning. They managed to win but it was a tough fight with Abinscole losing yet another riding dog in the initial barrage. They rescued a group of captives who gave them some information about the occupants of the tomb nearby. They decided to mount up with the Shoanti horses and take the captives back to civilization.

The small group were hit by a nasty random encounter (rolled honestly), one of the unique CR10-11 dragons from KM3. With only two level 9 characters, it was very much a hit or miss as to whether they would survive, but they managed to succeed, losing 5 refugees in the initial skirmish and very nearly losing Jerrick because of poisoning (he was into his Bear's Endurance constitution and had a lesser restoration to get him to above 1 when that ran out).

Both groups rendezvoused in Sanos Pass, dropped off the refugees and captives and then returned to the Shoanti encampment to find it mostly abandoned except for a little movement inside the tomb entrance (a pair of Shoanti scouts on lookout). They bashed in and attacked, killing them easily but then Richard was really far ahead and bumped into the two priestesses just as they finished summoning their Babau demons in a flanking position.

The priestesses followed up with a negative energy channel and a Hold Person, which Richard failed. The PC spellcasters failed 3 consecutive Dispel Magic checks as the others edged into the room so Richard was coup-de-graced the next round.

Others were then confused by the Madness domain aura and it was an ugly, bloody encounter. They retreated, raised Richard from the party pool raise dead scroll, Jerrick fixed his negative levels and they returned to do a couple more rooms in the complex - the rotating floor trap room and the pinnacles and ant swarm room before we called it for the night.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm having a minor crisis of conscience here. My group is in the KM4 final dungeon despite being just level 9. I'm worried that they are going to get slaughtered because they are at least 2 full levels behind where they should be before venturing in.

I like the idea of the PCs being able to get themselves into a little trouble if they go somewhere they shouldn't but they lost their fighter on the opening salvo and have pressed on despite not really having a strong plot reason for being here. I am thinking of either switching things around a bit, closing parts of the dungeon for the time being or sending an NPC in to try to pull them back to the levels they should be at.

Their next encounter should be with the auto-regenerating Iron Golem at CR13+ and the only one who will be able to do damage is Richard because he swings an adamantium long sword. I'm guessing that if there are 5 or 6 of them it won't be a TPK but you never know. A failed fort save off the bat against his poison breath would be trouble.

Liberty's Edge

I would within a couple rounds of fighting against the golem that they might come to the conclusion that they are currently outclassed by the thing.

Not to say my players are metagamers, but I think if they saw me pull out the fourth book in the series while they were still just level 9, they might decide that continuing on their current path might be a bad idea. Or at least decide proceeding with caution would be wise.

Side question: Do you use a GM screen? I own one, though I rarely use it. Not really ppro or con myself. I just find individual peoples reasoning for using it or not using it to be interesting, lol.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I use a screen for notes, maps and a few secret rolls but am rolling almost everything out in the open for this campaign. I used to fudge rolls all the time but I decided to do the attacks and saves totally in the open this time around.

Which book I'm working from doesn't really come into play because my map has encounters from KM1-4 and I've had to flip around in RotR 1-3 so far.

The other part of the danger here is that in that dungeon, Guards and Wards is running so every passageway is foggy so it's tough for the non-melee folk to hang back like they are used to - everyone needs to pile into the room to be effective.

I know for sure that my Rogue isn't going to be at the session so I may be able to have him ask "why we are here again?" I doubt they'll take the hint as from a metagame sense, they know they've stumbled on something and will probably be loathe to leave it alone just to have it restocked with (educated) monsters the next time they come through.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 30 - The fruits of unrest

In attendance:
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, Black Arrow back from leave
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board

Missing:
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Mark - Human Evoker

Kind of a weird night - everyone was late and some were really late so we didn't get too much done. I started the session with a recap of the previous session like I always do and I used Wyndham to ask "why are we here again" like I planned. Luckily for me, the PCs ran with this, Richard especially who was swarmed by ants didn't care about this dungeon any more and advocated to leave it alone. They decided to watch the entrance for a couple days and then explore their way home in predominantly kingmaker action.

Their first occupied hex had the Wandering Giant (a drunk hill giant who had been driven out of his home). I'd intended this as a roleplaying encounter if the PCs took the bait and he would be able to tell the PCs about being driven out of his home because he disagreed with the plan to join Mokmurian's forces to the north. The roleplay was relatively short and Richard decided to kill the giant for being a giant. I strengthened him up from a vanilla Hill Giant (I used a Fire Giant's stats with lower AC) but the fight was pretty low-risk. They found a map to a troll encampment in the wyvern mountains.

They moved on and discovered a giant snapping turtle in a small embayment of Lake Coal and decided to leave it alone, moving North up the river that goes into the Iron Peaks. There, they found a ford in the river (they were looking for one) that had cairns marked with Giantish warning runes. They pressed ahead and were met by a Bronze Dragon named Schissilax who came out of the water, interested in the party and happy to chat. This was a fun roleplaying encounter and out of the blue, Abinscole ended up asking the Dragon about the seven-pointed rune they found. I used the dragon to give some general background on superficial Thassilonian history, the seven virtues/sins, the different domains of Thassilon and plant the idea of runelords, lost cities of gold and all that.

The PCs shared the story of their adventures so far (which the dragon was interested in) and mentioned their troubles with their neighbours (which the dragon didn't care about). She shared that a group of hill giants from up the valley had decamped and moved somewhere north over the pass onto the Storval Plateau. This was supposed to have gone with the information from the other Giant but my PCs never got that snippet.

The PCs decided to offer to avoid Schissilax's lair but she (the dragon) instead said she would probably move to Storval Deep now that Black Magga is down stream. They resolved to contact each other if there was ever any need and Schissilax showed the group her "human" form.

From there, they avoided any occupied hexes and just before returning to home, rolled a nasty random encounter with a large group of Shambling Mounds. Richard lost another horse in the battle (there is a pattern here - it turns out mid-level over-land adventuring with regular horses means lots of dead horses) and everyone had a good fight.

They returned to their kingdom to learn that there was an agitator in Turtleback Ferry. They hurried back to town to find Grigori calling them out for being away for weeks at a time, for driving monsters into town, for not being around for the werewolf and other transgressions. This was another largely roleplaying encounter and they decided to fight the battle in the diplomatic arena, with the bard, Abinscole leading the way. They managed to win the war of words and the mob descended on Grigori, driving him away from the town on the horse he came in on. The party was split on whether to arrest him or let him be driven away so Vor left alone to arrest him in secret.

Vor's horse was slower but his animal companion was fast so Grigori was driven before him and eventually tracked down after he had ridden his horse to death. Grigori was waiting and managed to charm Vor but was unable to force him to do anything so Grigori left and Vor escorted him to the border.

We ran a kingdom turn at the end and that's where we left it. Next time, I plan on running Varnhold Vanishing, with reports arriving up-river that Ilsurian is abandoned, its people vanished. The PCs have a good relationship with Ilsurian and so they are likely to take the bait. I am thinking that I may add a Thassalonian twist to the Cyclops temple at the end of that book but that's at least a couple sessions into the future.

Liberty's Edge

Any future plans already in mind or hopes of what the PCs might do, now that they have contact with a dragon 'ally'?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I may use her as a source of intel to witness the giant movement around the Storval Deep, now that she's moved there. I guess she could also be an army of one when it comes to War of the River Kings and/or a Kingkmakeresque giant invasion if it comes to that.

Richard expressed some interest in learning draconic from her and she said she'd return some day (but some day to a dragon might be decades in the future). I'm sure this is a thinly veiled attempt on his part to set up some dragon back action in the future but he's CHAOTIC (goodish) so might not be the best fit from her point of view. Still, it could be fun later on when the mount and the rider would be better fits in power level. She's Adult right now so her CR is 13 which means she'll be a good candidate for being a high level mount down the road.

Liberty's Edge

Very cool ideas.

I still havent read all the rest of the AP yet, but Ive skimmed through some other peoples play reports, and one person made it sound like he had had all the allies of the good guys invade Xin Shalast, while the PCs went to take on K himself. I liked the idea and decided to use it (dont know if he made it up or not, lol), so when my PCs make their way to the lower levels of Jorgenfist and find the pair of red dragons, they will instead be brainwashed gold dragons. If the PCs succeed in subduing them without killing them, then I'll bring them back later for the assault.

Making them mounts might be an even cooler idea, though, so I'll have to look into that.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Brainwashed Golds is a really fun idea, especially with charm zombie makin' Xanesha still crashing around IMC. It'd be fun if the war part of this adventure (be it Giants, neighbouring kingdoms or a siege of Xin Shalast) was epic in scale and could involve dragon flights.

I don't know if it'll ever get that size though as my PCs' kingdom is growing pretty slowly (I think it's something like 4000 citizens).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 30 - The Ilsurian Vanishing

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak

Missing:
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays
Mark - Human Evoker

Small group, no healer so at the DM's suggestion, they spent some of their common pool money on healing wands and off we went to run the start of Varnhold Vanishing.

The PCs received word that something was wrong with the ferries from Ilsurian. They were several days overdue and there hadn't been any warning about it so they decided to send a small party (the PCs in attendance) to check it out.

They got there, went through the empty houses and got righteously spooked by the strangely empty town. Going from building to building, they pieced together some clues about what happened, learning about a conflict with the Nomen centaurs (but not their exact location - only that they live in the Sanos Grass between the Sanos Forest and the Shimmerglens). They found the note about Vordakai's island and they talked to a house cat who said that its "feeders left at the red sun time, followed the new bird song and didn't return".

They found the fort occupied and had a chance to be bad-asses as they mowed through the spriggans who were there (I reduced their number a bit and pared back some of the treasure because it was going to be a very easy encounter no matter how I ran it). They took one prisoner and Abinscole (using change self to look like a regular sized spriggan) went through a really cool interrogation scene using bardic Fascinate followed by spamming Suggestions like "Remind me: (how long we've been here)/(what the town looked like when we got here)/(where we came from)/(whether there are any others)/etc./etc./etc.

They then did some very careful tracking and found that the townsfolks' footprints led west at an easy pace and then just vanish without sign of struggle.

Their working theory (exactly what is desired by the adventure) is that somebody found the bracelet (suspected to belong to the Nomen Centaurs), brought it back to town, sparked a fight of some kind between Ilsurian and the Nomen and the Centaurs used some kind of charm effect to disappear the village. They reached the conclusion that they had to look into this because "if it happened here, it could happen to us". They even suspect Xanesha might be behind it. We left it with Jerrick Messaging the group the morning after their encounter with the town so they may exchange their group composition for their expedition into the Sanos Grass (to accommodate changes in the party because of no-shows).

:-)

This summary doesn't really do justice to how much fun the start of Varnhold Vanishing is to run. It was a fun and spooky evening of whodunit adventuring.


Took the better part of three weeks (what with classes and all), but I just read this from beginning to here...and am very impressed. Honestly, when I first saw this topic I purposely skipped it, as what little I knew of Kingmaker then sounded absolutley uninteresting. After having read this (as well as the first book I picked up shortly after finally beginning your journal), I'll be picking KM up in its entierty.

Wish I had something constructive, other than compliments, to offer, but I'm only famliar with the first half of RotRl, and not at all with KM. I do sympathise with Richards horse problems...I was in a campaign in second where our entire party regularly lost mounts, to the point that by mid-high levels we were all riding purple worms or magical caravans and whatnot. Horses just don't scale very well...

Anyways, I look forward to your next update.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On the horse topic, Richard refused to buy yet another one. I wonder if one could houserule somehow where longtime mounts could gain HP and saves without getting better in combat and overshadowing the players.

He wants to get boots of striding and springing so he can move as fast as the halfling's dog or one of the horses in metal barding. Fortunately, Abinscole's Pathfinder Chronicler class ability has a thing where he can help several people move faster through the wilderness so when moving at 30 and helped by Abinscole, the slow-movers move through the forest faster than unencumbered horses and at the equivalent of 40' over trackless plains.

There are some cautions for running Kingmaker. The hexploration part is a boon and a curse in that it's pretty common to have just one encounter/day and so players tend to go nova with their 1/day abilities. The flip side is as a GM you should be ready with random encounters but that creates some significant prep work or on the fly stuff. Also, many of the scenes aren't mapped at all so be ready to do lots of drawing on the fly if you do a tactical combat kind of campaign.

I would say that the KM works better with smaller groups and that it grates a bit on the more hack-and-slash players in how the level of action can be a little light at times compared to more standard dungeonwork. The RP and old-time players are having a blast with it. They seem to really enjoy working at growing their kingdom and protecting its interests.

Liberty's Edge

If you want to make the horse(s) tougher, you could give them npc levels. It'll give them a little bit of hp slowly, but theyll still be sucky enough in combat that they shouldnt be able to handle anything much more than they normally could have.


godsDMit wrote:
If you want to make the horse(s) tougher, you could give them npc levels.

::blink blink::

I was honestly just thinking of ways to alleviate Greycloak's horse issues in my own gaming, but letting the mounts gain NPC levels never occurred to me.

I'll have to ponder this level of genius a bit more.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not necessarily NPC levels; just giving them extra hit dice would boost them a bit.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, it's not a big enough problem that I'm going to fix it for this go-round but adding one animal HD for every 4 levels or something might not be a bad fix. The thing to watch is this free horse would have to be markedly worse than a ranger's animal companion horse.

Dead horseys is just an obvious consequence where tough as a horse doesn't mean much when exploring in areas with CR8 average encounters and it really doesn't come up in a lot of campaigns.

They're at the level that Richard is seriously looking at Boots of Striding and Springing (mv 40'), one of the figurines of wondrous power that you can ride, or a wand of Mount (a 5th level wand is good for 50 days of guilt-free riding at a cost of 3000gp).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

^^^
Maybe make it a feat?

Technically, you could have Leadership give you a cohort horse that was your HD-2. It'd be a pretty easy thing to balance. I guess this works for fighters who want a pet dog that isn't monster mush on day one too...

Hmm...


The feat idea is interesting, but personally I think there are a lot of feats out there representing things that could have had better mechanics but it was easy to "just make it a feat"...Maybe something based on handle animal ranks? Oh so many ranks equals an extra hitdice for critters you've taken care of for oh so long...something like that. Seems like you're doing a good job of keeping time a little more realistic (as opposed to the more typical 1-20 levels in under a year), so you could easily put the stipulation of "you gotta work with the animal for a few months" to keep people from going out, buying a horse, and it suddenly turning into the John McClain of horses over night.


I'm kind of enchanted with the idea of horses (and pets, I guess) earning experience points. Take your warhorse into enough battles, eventually he becomes a level 2 warrior warhorse. Leave Wildfire grazing in the field while you go slay drow in the deep-below and no advancement for him.

I haven't found anything yet that gives an intelligence requirement for earning XP.

The biggest flaw in this plan, though, is how do they find a replacement horse without getting saddled* with a brand new 0-level pony.

* See what I did there?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The danger will be in setting something up where animal companions might be overshadowed. They get lots of other abilities (link etc. that allow for free handling) but they should be better in terms of HD. Specifically, I would worry about a Ranger or Animal Domain Cleric's horse needing to be better than whatever scheme one came up with.

Then, you get into the silliness where you can level up a horse by adventuring with it but you can't buy a horse like that (or better) at any price.

All that said, I don't mind the idea of a feat that allows someone to be able to handle an improved mount that would gain HD at the Ranger animal companion rate but wouldn't get any of the extras (abilities, link, evasion, extra tricks, and whatnot) - just advancing in animal HD with the attendant increases in HP, saves, ability every 4 "levels" and so on. You'd need to come up with some kind of way to account for buying animals at higher level or something.

I would totally do a bunch of math to figure out how to balance this if I were running a serious mounted campaign but for now, I'll probably offer to my players that they can take something equivalent to Leadership and select improved mount cohorts with no followers. To me, that sounds pretty easy to balance.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 31 - Into the Sanos Grass

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil

Missing:
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays
Mark - Human Evoker

Short session of moved Kingmaker action.

The party decided to head into the Sanos Grass (the patch of plains land between the Shimmerglens and the Sanos Forest, north of Whistledown).

They used a typically linear search pattern and ended up clearing all of the hexes in that region. There, they met a boggard ambush at the margins of the swamp, a pair of advanced Bulettes (who escaped thanks to their burrow ability) and a group of Manticores at the Nomen burial grounds.

In the end, they encountered a Nomen centaur warband and, after some communication issues, they dropped the name of Vordakai (the centaur lich behind the attack) and were escorted to the settlement where they negotiated with the Nomen priestess and eventually were told where the Valley of the Dead is to be found.

======================================================================

I'm thinking of updating Vordakai's lair with Thassilonian-themed sights and sounds and I'm looking at tweaking Vordakai's spell list to make him a challenge for my group. His lair is square in the middle of Shalast (Karzoug's domain) so it makes sense to convert him to a Transmuter (enchantment/illusion opposition schools, maybe a necromantic dabbler).

He has some innate advantages in that liches are immune to the shadowdancer's critter's strength drain; they have DR 15/Magic and Bludgeoning, which takes the arrow spamming ranger, arrow spamming cleric and sword and board fighter out of contention for major damage output.

Preliminary spell list:

5 - Transmute Rock to Mud (DC21), Summon Monster V, Cloudkill (DC20)
4 - mass reduce person (DC 20), fire shield (cold), Black tentacles, Dimension Door
3 - Slow (DC 19), Dispel Magic, Fireball (DC18), Tongues
2 - Eagle's Splendor (+38 HP), False life (+9+1d10 HP), resist energy (fire), Locate object (used to track PCs in lair)
1 - Expeditious retreat, Chill Touch (DC 16), Comp. languages, grease (DC 16), mage armour, shield, ray of enfeeblement (DC 16)
0 - Open/close, arcane mark, bleed, detect magic, read magic

Liberty's Edge

Not that Id imagine a single 1st level spell would be the difference in super epic encounter and a lame encounter, but I dont see the point in having the guy prepare both Tongues and Comprehend Languages. :P

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Seems to me they were in his original stat block in the module. He's supposed to be this slumbering wizard who doesn't speak modern languages and who uses his familiar to spy for him.

It'll take some serious battlefield control luck to get him down to those kinds of spells, for sure.

I'm thinking about adding a Symbol of Pain just inside the doorway on the floor to spice things up.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 31 - Into the Valley of the Dead

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil

Missing:
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays
Mark - Human Evoker

This was a standard-length session of Varisiaified Kingmaker action. Overall, it was a really fun night with some mystery, some gore and some fear among my PCs.

Having gotten an idea about where Vordakai's island might be found, the group struck west toward the Sanos Forest with the intent of crossing through to the Malgorian Mountain foothills in search of the Valley of the Dead.

I rolled a random encounter when the group was camping on the edge of the forest just after they crossed the Old Sanos Trail in the plains North of Whisltedown.

Not wanting a combat encounter, I decided to have the party notice another campfire a couple miles to the south and to have it be the group of loggers that will get into trouble with a dryad and a satyr in some hex to the north if my PCs ever get there. The encounter with the loggers and the fey is a set-piece encounter from KM2 or KM3 but this really cements what's fun about running a sandbox campaign. I don't know if my PCs are ever going to enter that hex or not but it's kind of like hiding Easter eggs everywhere. The group will find them or they won't and I never know what'll happen. Anyway, a campfire spotted at sunset was enough to ramp the paranoia up, especially because my group had several times spotted a raven that was spying on them. They approached carefully and had a little chat with the loggers in the early morning before heading into the forest.

There, they missed spotting the spying raven several times and made it through the trees without trouble, eventually finding the grim totems marking the entrance to the Valley of the Dead. They pushed ahead and just as they came across the first of hundreds of weathered cyclops gravestones, I did another round of perception calls and they saw the raven circling overhead. Jerrick used his Animal Domain ability and beast shaped into an eagle and headed off, eventually catching up to the raven in mid-air. When it became apparent that the raven wasn't going to be able to escape (or reach the safety of the crevice at the far end of the valley with the Dread Zombie Cyclops), Vordakai blew up his familiar in a spectacular red electric spherical explosion (I couldn't find the actual description or the damage so I winged it, rolled just enough dice to really scare Jerrick) and it was a fun mini-encounter.

After some worried conversation, the PCs hurried on to the crevice-stairwell and found the zombie-clopse. The fight was pretty quick (5 on 1 does that) and Jerrick channelled a couple of times, unfortunately taking out Wyndham's shadow companion, Shade in the process. Oops. Lucky for them, it won't really matter because most of the stuff in the island is undead so not subject to ability drain anyway and lucky for me it'll force them to bypass the traps without using an incorporeal scout to do the heavy lifting.

Anyway, they healed up after these two encounters and climbed up to the island-lake. Jerrick turned into a giant tortoise and the group roped up and climbed on his back only to be beset upon by a trio of wyverns. The wyverns weren't much of a challenge so much as where they fought them (I made them do acrobatics checks to stay on the back if they wanted to use both hands for something like a bow for instance). Wyndham killed two with his short bow and shadow conjuration ability and they let the third escape and didn't go looking for a lair.

Next, they entered the tomb, fought a couple more dread zombie cyclopes and then came to the room with the sunken passageway with the Elasmosaurus in the pool. Deciding to use some discretion, Jerrick summoned a pair of dolphins, one of whom swam towards the centre of the pool and one who swam towards the sunken passageway. They saw a swirl of silt and the one dolphin died with one bite. This got them really worried about swimming in the pool and after feeding the elasmosaurus a couple sharks that went down just as easily, they decided to retreat and camp in the dungeon.

That night, I had Vordakai scry Richard (a failed Will save out of the blue = good for paranoia) and he sent a soul eater to go after the party. The Soul Eater's order of operations is to attack arcane casters, divine casters, then everyone else. That made poor Abinscole the target for the nighttime attack and the party was really scared when they took something like 15 wisdom damage in the first round because of attacks of opportunity. Abinscole went down quickly to wisdom drain but made his first saving throw to resist being soul-drained. He wasn't so lucky on the second shot, then failed his Get Back to Tell the Tale pathfinder ability and then failed his hero point extra saving throw and died, died, died, or so he thought. When the others got in enough hits on the Soul Eater, it died and Abinscole's soul returned to his body.

That's where we left it - it's last watch after a bunch of lesser restorations and some healing in the dungeon. It was a really fun night with several really varied encounters that gave everyone a chance to shine a little. My group is a bit strange but functional without any arcane casters but there you have it.

--------------------------------------------------------

I decided that my tie-in for Rise of the Runelords is that the cyclopes were allies of Karzoug and that Vordakai helped craft the Rune Giant Cauldron-ma-jigger, whatever it's called. Vordakai hid in his island during the collapse of the empire and then was prevented from awakening by the centaurs, per KM3.

The PCs found some ancient cyclopes coins that showed the all-seeing Cyclopes eye on one face and one of their kind holding a seven-pointed star on the other but I'm planning on some art showing the Cauldron crafting and some tie-ins back to Shalast and Thassilon, but I have some time to ponder that and do some rewrites before we get back to it in a couple of weeks.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 32 - Vordakai's Tomb

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil
Mark - Human Evoker

Missing:
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays

The party pressed into Vordakai's tomb. They basically Nova'd on the first encounter (Elasmosaurus in the flooded room) - Jerrick blew a quarter of his spells off the bat making it a very easy encounter.

They pressed on and did well against the flooding room trap (because they had water breathing running and Richard with his adamantine long sword to cut through the portcullis). They bypassed the stygian fires trap and had a tough fight against the Piscodaemon who I had start things off with Stinking Cloud which worked great for crowd control. Along the way, they found some hints in the artwork that the cyclopes worked with the unnamed runelords to make a cauldron of some kind that turned giants into sihedron-giants.

At this point, they were hankering to settle down and refresh spells but pushed ahead some and found the room with two Soul Eaters (that weren't so scary as the first time they fought one), continuing until they found the secret oculus focus room, where they decided to stop for the night. This wasn't a great choice on their part as it's a dead end and somewhere that is very important to Vordakai so when he scried them that night (repeating the previous night's action) and saw them sitting in a room that could seriously hurt the artifact he had planted in his eye socket, he opted to switch from scry to scry and fry.

He popped in, fully buffed up and had a summoned baddie open the door for him so he could fill the room with Black Tentacles and get things rolling. I managed to really hem the party in to their room and it was a bit of a stalemate while the group couldn't move without getting into trouble and Vordakai (who I had with lots of area effect debuffs and crowd control spells) couldn't really reach them either.

Wyndham made the mistake of shadow jumping out of the room to get a look at what was attacking them and managed to pick the square that Vordakai was occupying. That shunted him away and he decided to sneak up on the Lich.

Vordakai spotted him and attacked with a Chill Touch/Lich touch/Paralysis combo which dropped poor Wyndham in his tracks (paralyzed). Luckily, Wyndham had shadow jump left over and used the remainder of his ability to mentally jump back towards his companions.

We left it there with the PCs hemmed in and the Lich in a somewhat depleted state. I think the short term plan will be for Vordakai to move in and try meleeing until he gets a decent chance for some area spells and then he'll dimension door away and return with reinforcements.

It was pretty harsh on my PCs but I couldn't see any way other than to scry and fry them given the circumstances.

============================================================
For next time, if they aren't TPK'd or something (not a compeltely trivial chance as he is pretty brutal in melee with his resistances and lich touch with an enormous DC), I expect they'll clean up the dungeon, return the people of Ilsurian to their home and return to their kingdom. Ilsurian, now without a leader, will pledge allegiance to heir kingdom of Thornhold and will be able to join their kingdom once they get enough hexes to connect it up.

Because of where the PC kingdom is at, I'll probably let them have a year or so of Kingdom turns to expand before I start the events of FotSG. I'm planning on dropping some more hints about giant movement towards the NW Iron Peaks, probably with a visit from the Brass Dragon they met who will give them decent recon to that effect after a bunch of time has passed.

If they choose to pursue the giant gathering problem, I'll do FotSG in reverse with the Giant Hold stuff first and the invasion (led by Xanesha as a retaliation for their previous actions) second.

If they don't, I'll do the attack on their holdings in Turtleback Ferry. There will be an initial attack on the Skull's Crossing Dam for Stone Tell (where I'll have to move the Scribbler) followed immediately by a giant attack led by Xanesha on Turtleback Ferry, more or less as described in the module.

They may also pick a fight with the Ravenmoor people, which would initiate the events at the beginning of KM4 or they could choose to do some more hexploration. We'll see - so are the joys of running an open campaign.

Either way, the giant movement and attack is going to happen on a 9-12 months time scale, regardless of what they do.

Liberty's Edge

Not that I think switching the order of FotSG is a bad idea, but doing so seeminly changes all motivation of the attack from 'research' to 'revenge'. Im wondering what you are going to do to hint at Xaliasa and the Runeforge before getting to SotS?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As I recall, the Xaliasa and Runeforge stuff is dropped at the end of FotSG, right?

I'm thinking that if I really want to switch things around I could go with a timeline something like this:

0) PCs don't pursue Giant rumours, don't find Jorgenfist on their own.

1) Giants raid the Skulls' Crossing Dam (where Xaliasa is hidden somewhere in the dam's dusty innards - perhaps in a door hidden underneath the Scrag's Pool where my PCs didn't notice it). They steal a bit of rock (and are witnessed doing so) and escape back toward Jorgenfist.

2) PCs find out several hours after the raid and pursue, eventually following the Giants back to Jorgenfist. In the meantime, Xanesha, Teraktinus, the dragon and the goon squad leave Jorgenfist to raid Turtleback Ferry. The two groups pass each other en route.

3) There, they will find an empty Xanesha Nest (they have found a few of these so far so I just need to find a perch that's high, describe it as a big pile of pillows and my PCs will have their suspicions).

4) They run through the Fortress, with or without the help of Conna. If they do get her help, she will tell them about the motivations for the raid but will not say that Xanesha left with the dragon and a squad of giants to take out the town until after they have dealt with Mokmurian.

5) Once they deal with Mokmurian, they'll learn everything they are supposed to learn about Runeforge and all that per the adventure. Then, Conna will tell them about Xanesha's attack on their town (whether they enlisted her help or not).

6) They teleport or wind walk or something back to town to find it under attack/soon to be attacked/all quiet depending on how they are doing.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 33 - Death of a Lich

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow
Abinscole - Halfling Bard/Pathfinder Chronicler
Richard - Chelaxian fighter, extreme AC sword and board
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays

Missing:
Mark - Human Evoker

We started the session in media res with Vordakai attacking the party stuck in a dead-end corner. It was a very tough slog with two of the party members being knocked down paralyzed (Abinscole and Jerrick) but the group was saved by the combination of channel damage, dispel magics to bring down V's defences and Richard donning the Freedom of Movement ring partway through the battle.

The party managed to knock the lich down so Vordakai dimension-doored back to his sanctum to heal up and muster his forces for a last defence.

The group used the majority of their scrolls to get everyone in fighting shape, Jerrick was able to prepare a fresh slot of spells (as it was near-morning, having been scry and fried during last watch) and after an hour or so, they headed off into the dungeon to go after the Lich.

Vordakai was waiting for them (with pretty much all of his spells depleted) in the large gallery room with a dread zombie wizard for fireballs etc. and 4 dread zombie cyclopes. He used his Telekenesis to take Richard out of the fight (lifted his sword up to the ceiling and carried him with it). In the meantime, the cyclopes and the mage engaged the party to strong effect, doing serious damage to the minimally armoured rest of the party and killing poor Abinscole in the process.

By the time they took care of the cyclopes, the party was significantly damaged, were spread out and Richard hadn't attacked since round 1. Vordakai then moved forward and in turn paralyzed Wyndham, Arcianen and then Vor, leaving the Archer/cleric Jerrick and Richard, who had been released from his TK-pinning and finished off the mage.

Several hero points later, the two chipped away at the Lich and eventually finished him off to everyone's delight. The party then mopped up the rest of the dungeon and we quit for the night.

============================================================

Abinscole's player decided to retire the character (because he's tired of playing a support character, no matter how useful) and is currently rolling up a Dwarf Barbarian and (at a little urging from me) his wealth will be sold off as BP for the kingdom). I'm hoping to advance the timeline a year or so off-line before next time (unless the group wants to play the kingdom turns live and at the table) and deal with treasure divvying as I find the last to be pretty tiresome as GM.

Next time - FotSG, somehow...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 34 - Coming home to roost

In attendance:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow (Forest Warden)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak (Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil (High Priest)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancelor)
Mark - Human Evoker (Magister)

New character instead of Abinscole:
Grisly - Dwarven barbarian (decent enough at ranged, great in melee, made of hit points and about the opposite of Abinscole in every way) (Captain of town guard)

We started with a little clean-up from last time. They got the people of Ilsurian home in their soul jars, released them and accepted them into their kingdom. They returned all of the treasure that belonged to someone, Jerrick became Pastor of the church in town (mostly a title without a duty) and I introduced a new NPC in the form of the daughter of the ruler of Ilsurian who was in the soul jar and will take over the duties of her father (also a potential love interest for Arcainen as she is keen to cement the political union between her town and Thornhold with a political marriage).

When the party returned to Turtleback Ferry, there were a couple of petitioners waiting for them - one was Akiros Ismort (from the Stag Lord group, way back at level 3/4) who had served his punishment for banditry and had joined the church of Iomedae in Magnimar. A long time back, Arcainen was diseased (I think by the fungus disease in Misgivings) and had to get someone very high level to do a remove curse on him. The church of Iomedae did so and also cast a Quest on him saying that he would be called on to do a service.

Akiros was there to call on them to do that (relatively minor) service, to build a shrine to Iomedae within one year and Akiros would remain to manage the shrine for the church and in the mean time would be at the party's service. They put him on the ruling council as Diplomat and I'm probably going to use him as a slightly intolerant voice for Good and Law on their council as everyone else is pretty lax about such things.

Also waiting was a Dwarven warrior, run by Abinscole's player, and the Nomen centaurs arrived to thank them for releasing the priestesses daughter from captivity and offered political alliance and peace.

They moved some people around on the council, promoted Orik to Executioner and spent 4 months crafting and ruling their kingdom. They then set out to clear the area between Turtleback Ferry and Ilsurian and the real adventuring started for the evening.

The trip down on the East side of the river was a breeze but they decided to head up the West side and clear out the south end of the Shimmerglens. There, they found some poisonous flowers, which they didn't realize were valuable and so bypassed. They then encountered swarms of mosquitoes and giant dragonflies before spotting a trail of smoke rising from M'botuu, a large Boggard encampment (from KM4).

They approached the shore of a smallish lake, could see the boggards scrambling around and then (having dealt with boggards before and after debating just fireballing the island from shore) demanded that a group of them come across the water to submit to Thornhold's rule (or something like that - not very diplomatic and not likely to be accepted without any proof by the Boggards).

The Boggard chief gathered his warriors (7 Boggard ranger 8's) and started swimming across the water like they were asked while the lesser boggards (more than 40) mustered on the island. The chief (a 10th level cleric) responded to the party's demands with an Insect Plague, all the boggards dove beneath the water and began swimming en masse to the shore, eventually erupting out of the shadows and attacking.

The PCs got to feel like bad asses killing scores of boggard mooks with their fireballs and the like and it was a pretty fun if long battle because it was the whole island worth of baddies all at once - a bit of a change. They then searched the island, found a Bog Strider captive who invited them to his home further north in the Shimmerglens and warned them about a serpentine woman he had seen visiting the Boggard leader. This got the PCs thinking Xanesha when it's really a Naga.

That's where we left it.
==============================

The party plans to do some more hexploration next time (there's a Naga battle coming and a bunch of fey encounters where they are planning on going) and then they intend to do some kingdom ruling and crafting without adventuring to pass the winter.

This winter, I am going to grace them with a few rumours:
1) Political strife in Korvosa (the events from the start of Curse of the Crimson Throne)

2) An attempted assassination of the Lord Mayor and some strife in Magnimar. This will end with the addition of the Hellnights (which I didn't really play up before) there to bring order.

3) Rumours of giant sightings along the Lost Coast, starting with a raid into Sandpoint at the Old Light, moving more or less SW to NE and hitting the various Thassilonian ruins along the way.

If they try to contact their dragon friend in the Storval Deep to ask about the giants, she'll have lots of news about mostly stone giants moving west around the north end of Storval Deep toward Jorgenfist but she won't know exactly where they are headed. Knowing my party, they may well decide to follow this thread because I've dropped the idea of giant movement a couple times before.

If they don't pursue this thread, the giant raids will culminate with a raid on the Skull Crossing Dam (to get a stone for stone tell) and a simultaneous raid on the town of Turtleback Ferry, played similar to the start of FotSG, led by Xanesha with a new bow and arrow, riding on dragon back with the intention of killing townsfolk who were branded with the Sihedron rune in pre-HMM events.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In case anyone's interested, my group's kingdom map is here:

http://www.mediafire.com/i/?yrn7ioos2jbhtmj
(red dots are explored, claimable hexes and the shaded hexes are farmed)

The kingdom's excel sheet is here:

http://www.mediafire.com/?m9uxanwp2yh3ilx

My next job is to draft up a town plan for the Giant invasion this weekend.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 35 - Nemesis

In attendance:
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)

Missing:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)

We finished last time off having cleaned out a tribe of Boggards in the southern Shimmerglens and releasing a Bog-Strider who was held captive there. They broke with their original plans and decided to escort the Bog-Strider back to his home, meet his family and then return to Thornhold to rule their kingdom for several months until the spring.

At the end of each kingdom turn, I shared a number of rumours:
1) The Lord-Mayor of Magnimar was accussed of corruption
2) Chaos in Korvosa (rumours of an assassination attempt/assassination)
3) Stories about giant sightings in lower Varisia along the Varisian gulf
4) These stories got more specific as Arcainen got a letter from his family saying that there had been a raid on Sandpoint and it was said that a party of Stone Giants was seen at the Old Light and left with a piece of it
5) Next they heard about giants a little closer to home and the pattern looked like they may be approaching Thornhold

The PCs didn't bite, other than a vague plan to investigate close to the last sighting near Wartle. In the mean time, they expanded their kingdom and annexed Ilsurian and began working into the Sanos Grass hexes to gain more farms because they had a major consumption problem now. Anyway, all was well and after a time of being on the razor's edge in terms of not being able to pay the kingdom's bills, they got to a more sustainable state of affairs.

That's when I started the giant raid on Turtleback Ferry. This was really quite fun because I had sketched up a map version of the town that they had expanded and planned and the fight involved attacks on their kingdom's resources, like their town hall, their tavern, their smithy and giants bagging citizens from the houses they had built. I more or less ran it according to the book with a couple of minor exceptions:
1) I bumped the red dragon up a couple CR to be a huge young adult (I used the Adult entry and subtracted 2 from everything martial - kind of the advanced template in reverse)
2) Xanesha was riding the dragon in human form wielding a bow and out for revenge against the people who had thwarted her plans thrice

The initial skirmishes with the rock throwing giants (attacking their Barracks to the North) and the people-bagging ones with the dire bears (crossing the river and grabbing kids from the school) were pretty tame. Because of the town layout there was lots of open space and good lines of sight, which benefited the party because they had their evoker along for the night. They were just mopping up the second group when Longtooth+Xanesha landed on the Town Hall and began picking off frightened citizenry.

The group scrambled and they gave Richard Spell Resistance and a Fly potion and he flew over to try to solo-attack the dragon and Xanesha (who was now perched atop the Tavern) without waiting for decent support. This proved to be a poor choice as Xanesha hit him hard with arrows, failed a spell penetration check and hit him with more arrows while the dragon attacked with a couple of full attacks followed by fire breath, igniting the roof of the tavern and knocking Richard into -ve HP territory before anyone else really got close enough to help.

The Dragon moved across the boulevard to the top of the Smithy and the group exchanged ranged fire with Xanesha for a couple rounds as the melee folk (Griz and Wyndham/Shade) climbed up toward the rooftop. There and mostly via frost arrows, they pretty quickly overpowered the dragon, who then fled, leaving Xanesha to finish the fight alone.

She was happy to try but didn't get enough damage in before she started getting triple-teamed by the meleers and outgunned by Jerrick's bow and Mark's spells. She tried to dimension door away to a better perch but the party burned a couple hero points on dispel magic counterspells, followed by a feeblemind (which save she failed), followed quickly thereafter by her becoming dead dead dead.

The very next round was round 25 so Teraktinus (who had free reign over his mission all this time) blew his horn and retreated away with bags full of yummy townsfolk. This is where we left it, the PCs ran up just in time to see a large group of Stone Giants melting away into the trees about 350 yards from the far edge of town. That's where we left it: Richard's bleeding stabilized on the rooftop and nobody got killed.

==========================================================
I'd say we're firmly back on the RotR path.

I continue my almost-unbroken streak of not knowing what my PCs plan to do next but that won't stop me from prognosticating. They think that the giants may have something to do with their unruly neighbours to the northwest (they don't directly - I may have the baron over there having been manipulated by Xanesha or another Lamia Matriarch on the side). Anyway, I imagine that their next moves will be:

1) hurry off in hot pursuit of the escaping giants and rescue whomever they can
2) return home to plan, equip, interrogate a stone giant captive
3) there, they'll learn that another group attacked the Skull River Dam at about the same time to fetch a rock (that group's long gone)
4) they'll head off toward Jorgenfist after potentially doing some work to rebuild their damaged town (the smithy and town hall are fine, the tavern is half-destroyed as is a block of houses where Teraktinus had free rein and they ignored a growing plume of smoke while they fought both their nemesis and a red dragon)

In the unlikely event that they ignore the giants, I'll probably spark off the start of KM4 - Blood for Blood, followed by a giant war on lower Varisia.

Liberty's Edge

So the dragon is still alive? Is he going to make a reappearance at some point?

This sounds like it was an awesome session. Congrats to your parts for finally dropping X.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dragon is back at his home near jorgenfist.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 36 - Hot pursuit

In attendance:
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)

Missing:
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)

When we last left the group, the party had driven the dragon away from Turtleback Ferry, killed Xanesha who led the invasion and witnessed Teraktinus and his cronies escaping into a copse of trees a ways away from town.

The group turned back and decided to requisition horses. (On this topic, I have allowed them as a perk for being Rulers to handwaive some reasonable expenses--like expendable riding horses). There they learned that the giants who escaped were specifically calling for "greedy merchants" and they learned that one of the giants they had downed was alive but unconscious.

Wyndham took it on himself to interrogate the prisoner, using his shadow companion as a strength-draining torture-mate. He wasn't happy with the giant's offer (set me free, I won't trouble you again and I'll tell you what I know), switched to intimidate and then when the giant became close-lipped, he executed the prisoner in the town square by having his shade drain him to 0 Strength. (more on this later)

They then set out in pursuit of the giants who were hustling away (what better way to make ground than eat up a handful of their many hitpoints to travel quickly). This led the group on a merry chase up-river towards the dam, across the river (which had an ensuing skill challenge to get horses and riders across the Skull river) and then pursuit into the Kreegwood.

They encountered the giant band in the wood and Teraktinus ordered his band to take out the mounts so there was a mostly ranged battle, killing a couple of the group's horses, disabling Vor's wolf companion and really scaring Jerrick that he was going to lose Shadowmist, his horse companion. The giants then decided to continue their escape while Teraktinus remained behind to run a little interference for his band, who had lost two of their number at this point.

That proved to be a bad plan because while Teraktinus was pretty strong, he soon found himself too close to too many attackers, starting with Wyndham's shadow companion, Shade.

Shade got a hit in before Teraktinus killed it in one round (a bit of over-confidence as the shadow had been mostly un-hittable in melee to this point because of a paucity of melee types with magic weapons). The group swarmed up, healed their companions and managed to kill the ranger giant before he could escape.

This bought the giants several minutes to get a head start but even with the time spent to release two bags full of prisoners, the giant group was doomed. The party caught up to them again, Vor smartly used spike growth and the fight was on once the giants realized there was no escape except via victory. The giants drove off Vor's Wolf, rushed forward to engage in melee, badly hurting Jerrick, Griz and Wyndham.

Jerrick's horse got in a couple of kills while his rider worried about being killed (he was one decent shot from being dead, dead, dead) and the giants fell to the party's combined efforts.

The party returned to Turtleback Ferry to plan and deal with loot and we ended there, early because everyone had work (me) or Mother's Day stuff the next day (everyone).
=====================================================================

On the topic of Wyndham's shade and his actions in the square - I called for a Loyalty Check as a result of the not-prevented chaos in the town and the ugly execution that was witnessed in the town commons. This works out well for me because it turns out that Wyndham is the one carrying the Occulus of Abbadon from the previous adventure. He has it in a bag of holding, hoping the extra dimensional separation will protect him. It won't and when I see a chance for a NE act, I'm going to start calling for Ego Check will saves until he drifts to NE, at which point he'll be compelled to cut out an eye and plunk the artifact in the hole.

On that front, I sent the Player a message saying that Wyndham experienced a new sense of enjoyment from his activities and he wasn't averse to the idea. He may be on the path to NPC status here (temporary, perhaps).


Just catching up on your posts, Grey, and I've one belated question.

What's your plan for the Korvosa rumors? It might be too late, but I thought it'd be neat to host a political event and have your PCs invited to Korvosa for the wedding of the king and his suspiciously young bride.

What was your intent for using up the first adventure of Crimson Throne as an off-screen encounter?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I wanted to generally outline the events in the other two Varisia APs (CotCT and SD) in the form of fairly vague rumours so if I decide to run this group through CotCT in the future, I'm ready to have the rumours go both ways without spoiling those plots too much.

Further, I want to be able to have the option of running the next AP after Skulls and Shackles (Shattered Star?) and keep the time lines intact. There'll need to be some jiggering in terms of whose kingdom is where and what the recent history is but it shouldn't be too touch as my PCs are mostly involved with neutral parties (Ilsurian, Ravenmoor and eventually Roderic's Cove/Riddleport maybe - as they may play the part of Pitax if I do the events from KM5)).

The other benefit of leaking the unpleasantness in Korvosa is that it also explains why that country isn't too concerned about a startup group uniting lands on their western borders as their attentions are focused inward.

Who knows? I may well never run CotCT and may skip directly to ShS or I might run CotCT with my kids and my brother and his kids or something but it would be nice to keep everything intact so there could be callbacks for those of us who lived through RotR.

I'm obviously planning ridiculously far in advance, being only halfway through this AP and planning on playing and not DMing the next one, but that's how I work.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 37 - Deadly diversions

In attendance:
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)

Missing:
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)

After a long talk about what to do, the party gathered some horses and headed towards the Storval Step, intending to head to Jorgenfist to directly confront the giant threat. On the road to Sanos Pass (halfway to Ravenmoor), they heard stories about giant activity in their realm from several days earlier and they pressed on with an uneventful trip until I made a throwaway comment when talking about geography that they were going to pass four or five miles west of the place where they had seen the Cougar Lord Shoanti tribe camped before (Armagh's tomb, from KM4).

Oops. Derail.

The PCs decided to investigate so I dipped into one of my Plan B's and we were into Kingmaker territory again.

I had already decided that when they had met the tribe earlier, it was before they had done much against Ravenmoor (Drelev) and while the tribe was first mustering. Back when the PCs first went here, they had killed the Black sisters before turning back so I had decided that the power vacuum would be filled by a pair of Lamia (using Leucretia's stats, who I had never used) and the story of Armagh would be co-opted to sow more chaos and feed the runewells.

Anyway, my group scouted, learning that the camp was a war camp consisting of about 300 warriors. Through invisible eavesdropping, learned about Armagh's attempt to gain a great weapon and their plans to sack Ravenmoor in the coming days/weeks. The party debated whether to do anything about it or not, as they are in diplomatic difficulties with Ravenmoor but eventually decided to try to parlay (again, despite being unsuccessful last time).

A small group consisting of Jerrick, Wyndham and Arcainen (small enough to use Word of Recall to escape), walked up to the camp dressed as Shoanti (which Jerrick is, Wyndham in disguise) and were met by a party of 20 warriors who marched to surround, and demanded to know if they were there to join Armagh.

The PCs answered no and made 23 on their diplomacy check (which was 2 less than they needed to affect the hostile Shoanti). The barbarians attacked, the trio bamphed away after promising revenge.

The next night, Arcainen and Mark (both blasters, one wiz, one sorc) flew above the camp and started carpet bombing with fireballs while the rest hid in the trees not far away.

They each got 5 rounds of fun before the two Lamia came out, approached the closest caster (Mark) and started returning fire with Lightning bolt. Now Mark is pretty weak HP-wise and didn't really play it all that smart and tried to return fire rather than running. He got knocked out in the second round and killed in the third (Arcainen got significantly damaged at this point and starting to flee).

Meanwhile, the group in the woods watched, save for Wyndham, who snuck into camp with his ridiculous stealth and hide in plain sight to see about the casters. He found one of them, moved nearby and waited for a spell to go off. He got in a sneak attack, which missed, then moved to attack on his next turn. The Sister returned with Suggestion, saying "You're fighting for the wrong side, join us". Failed save and away Wyndham went, off to fight his allies.

Now as a reminder, Wyndham was in possession of the Occulus of Abbadon, a powerfully NE artifact and was a bit of a nasty character himself. Before this session started, I had talked with the player about Wyndham recollecting fondly on torturing the Giant last game and that (OOC), this was the effect of the artifact and that he was to play a gradual alignment drift back to NE, which the player was fine with.

So now, Jerrick puts up a heeuuuuuge blade barrier that divides the fight into the party near the trees, a few barbarians on the party side that Vor and Grisly work over, and cuisinarted a bunch who were cooling themselves off in the river after being fireballed. Suggest-a-Wyndham hopped through just fine and made his way over to attack his buddies.

They returned fire with break enchantment (failed LC), dispel magic (failed) and some subdual (that didn't do much). As Wyndham, who can nearly become invisible at will in the dark, continued to get nasty sneak attacks in, Vor and Jerrick switched to lethal attacks that started to do enough damage to drive Wyndham off.

I decided at this point that having been Searing Lighted and shot with arrows was enough for Wyndham to snap so I asked for another Will save from the artifact, which he failed, so he disengaged, ran off, plucked out his eye and inserted the artifact before deciding to hurry off to the party's camp to murder their animal companions, to prevent escape.

Wyndham did not fare well and got beaten down by Jerrik's horse (Shadowmist) and Vor's Wolf companion. The other group grabbed Mark's dead body and, realizing that their fluffy pets were in trouble hurried back, arriving in time to see the Wolf rip out Wyndham's throat (after he was knocked unconscious by Shadowmist).

Dead Wyndham's hat of disguise trick ended and the PCs could see that he was covered in his own blood, missing an eye and sporting an evil artifact in his head.

So, the group limped away, wind walked/teleported to Magnimar to buy diamonds and whatnot. They summoned a hound archon to destroy the artifact, raised the two fallen schmucks, restored their lost levels and even regenerated W's missing eye.

Several days later, they returned to their overlook and found that the camp they had raided earlier was deserted. They decided to leave well enough alone this time, let the barbarians raid Ravenmoor if they wanted to and headed to the Storval Stairs, fought some Stone giants at range and we finished for the night.

=====================================================================
So, off camera, the raid on Ravenmoor will go as planned and if and when the PCs return to Armagh's Tomb, it will be more or less as described in KM-4, with the pair of Lamia subbed in for the Sisters of Geronna.

I think Mark learned a lesson about the need to do something in terms of defence and just how fragile his character really is. I'm not sure what will happen with Wyndham in the long run but he's playing smart NE for now (no scruples, does what serves him best exclusively, a bit selfish) and will likely drift back to a more palatable alignment over time.


Could you explain why the PC turned against his party?
I mean, just because he's evil doesn't mean he's stupid, and he'd know that he's no match for the rest of the party combined. Did he have reason to suspect that they'd attack him?
Just because he's NE doesn't mean he is no longer their friend, let alone hostile towards them. Ruthless, yes. Less altruistic, sure. Selfish? Maybe. He would profit from having stronger friends, so selfish for the party is just as likely, even more likely that trying to screw them over.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Suggestion.

The wording was "You're fighting on the wrong side. Join us instead." He failed his save in spectacular fashion and was compelled to at least ally with the baddies.

The player took the reins and leapt to the attack. I'm sure he was metagaming a bit and expected to have it dispelled but it didn't work and things kind of spiraled from there. I judged that once the attacks against him became fatal, that combined with his alignment drift was enough to force another confrontation with the artifact, which he also lost, his alignment drift was complete and the artifact forced the eye plucking and so on.

It was the player's idea to attack the mounts etc. but he didn't expect them to be quite so strong.

I know it sounds like a bit of a mess but it's all fine. We had a compelling night with an unexpected course of events and there was resolution on a couple of different threads. No hard feelings and all forgotten except for a depletion of the party pool of cash that is retained for raising the dead and all that. We're all old hands and have been gaming for a quarter century and it was actually a bit fun to dip into the taboo of inter-party warfare a bit.

Since we are editorializing a bit, I was a little surprised that Wyndham allowed himself to be raised because the character is pretty dysfunctional. He is a God in the dark so underground and in the dungeon, he is totally free to scout and do whatever he wants in near total liberty. When the lights are on and out in the open, it's a totally different story. He is not well optimized for combat, sucks at range and is outclassed by all the other characters, and he had a perfect "out" to start again.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I did some bookkeeping and have updated the kingdom map and excel spreadsheet:

Map:
http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/0305/ni4nrw3dvdj7rb85g.jpg

Spreadsheet:
http://www.mediafire.com/view/?ei8x35l9uryptqd

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 38 - Decision Point

In attendance (everyone):
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)

Having taken the Storval Stairs, and having learned about the depth of the Schism in his Shoanti Tribe (The Shiikirri-Quah (The Hawk Clan), who lives between the Lampblack and Chevali River west of the Storval Stairs), Jerrick wanted to find out about why his people weren't guarding the steps any more and to tell them that they are free of giants again. He convinced the others to stay and he wind walked to find his people. A couple hours later, he found them camped next to the river and met with his old chief and shaman. He shared his adventures to date and told them about Mokmurian and the Giants and that the Cougar Clan was planning on raiding Ravenmoor.

The Shaman gave him a bit of advice about dealing with the source of the problem rather than the consequences of it. Jerrick replied with saying something about cutting the Head of the Snake, to which the Shaman replied that it sounds like he has many snakes in his life, with the heads being Armagh and Mokmurian respectively. (This was me trying to guide the group away from wholesale slaughter every time and encouraging more surgical strikes). The Chief said that since the Cougar Lord separated from the rest of the clan, they ceded all of the territory east of the Lampblack River to avoid a war, and so he would not be sending a large force to watch the Storval Stairs as was his clan's ancient duty. Instead, he offered to send two braves who would climb the cliff and watch the top from the high side to report. Jerrick gave him the party's Silver Raven Figurine to report if anything happened and he headed on his way.

He decided to see what had happened with the Cougar Lord Shoanti, who had decamped from Armagh's Tomb and headed towards Ravenmoor several days earlier. He arrived in Ravenmoor to see it smouldering, clearly having been sacked, and he then proceeded to Sanos Pass (their closest town) to find it had not been attacked, and searched around until he found the Cougar Lord group about halfway back to their stomping grounds, laden with the spoils of war. Returning to the party, he convinced them to hurry to Armagh's Tomb that night and investigate it before the army returned.

(Yet another diversion from what I had expected for the evening. I give up. The Tomb is the trap-filled dungeon crawl from the end of KM4 so it's pretty nasty for a L10-L11 group, being an APL13 challenge, more or less. I left it as-is because that's the sandbox nature of things and they had all 7 PCs so were probably up to the challenge.)

Anyway, they whipped the horses, did a forced hustle for 4 hours to reach the tomb at sunset. They found it unoccupied outside and after a big discussion just outside the door, sent Wyndham in, found out they were waiting and started casting spells in the entrance before moving in to investigate. The two Lamia Matriarchs (twin Leucretias - a CR13 encounter) heard their spellcasting and were waiting for them inside.

(In this version of events, it was the Lamia who convinced Armagh to split from the rest of the Shoanti Tribe, of course brand all of the warriors with the Sihedron Rune, and convince them to go a'raiding.)

A big fight ensued and the Lamia managed to not charm the two fighters, managed to do some serious damage on Mark with lightning bolts down the hall (Killing him, requiring Breath of Life), but they were finally brought down once the two blaster casters stopped using spells with reflex saves (which never damaged the Matriarchs because of evasion and SR), and used dispel magic and rays instead, while Jerrick healed everyone who was in the lightning bolt hallway of death.

They headed through the test of strength (the giant rolling ball trap) and got smashed once before Wyndham disabled the timer portion so they could get the balls in place, reactivate the timer and have the far door open.

Next was the test of endurance (a wheel that takes 7 full round actions standing on a frost-damaging plate), which was totally bypassed by Arcainen using Telekenesis - solid thinking there.

Next was the Iron Golem room, which could have been pretty ugly except that Richard has an adamantine long sword and Griz has a golembane scarab. As it was, it was pretty nasty and poor Mark got himself in a bad position, got poisoned and needed a Hero Point to not die (he was sitting at 1HP/HD maximum so 10 HP fully healed after all his Con Damage).

===================================================================
That's where we left off - the party decided to hide the bodies and sleep in the dungeon, where they were left alone for the night. The Cougar Lord Shoanti won't be returning for several days (as needed) as they are going back to their various Septs to distribute their loot before returning to the Tomb to wait for Armagh's Return. I'd like to set it up so that the PCs can emerge, prove they have killed Armagh and disband the Cougar Lords. They will then tell the PCs that they sacked Ravenmoor and per instructions, forced Ravenmoor to raise a raid against the PC kingdom (per the plot in KM4, just doing the last part first).

I'm guessing that the Giants will remain where they are for a few adventuring sessions yet but I never seem to know - maybe they'll pick a fight with Korvosa or something for all I know. It's really been fun doing this kind of sandbox game because I really don't know what's coming next.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 39 - Armagh the twice-born

In attendance:
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)

Missing:
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)

The party rested in one of the passageways in the dungeon and when they woke and about to refresh their spells, they were surprised that the hallway suddenly filled with fog (I'd forgotten Guards and Wards last time so it was cast today but not yesterday -- probably because the guardian's eyes were elsewhere). This frightened them but nothing happened so soon they were on their way.

They returned to the room that had the iron golem and headed deeper into the dungeon, going first to the room with the bloody skeleton archers. The scout, Wyndham, didn't see them and they didn't see him so after he climbed up to where they were hiding and the first of the others came out of the foggy hallway (with some still working their way through the nearby webbed stairway), they were beset by arrows from above.

Vor returned fire, Griz drunk a potion of Fly and Richard unhooked his locked gauntlet and put away his shield to begin climbing up. Wyndham played it cool, waiting for a flank buddy to arrive and the arrows kept coming. Jerrick used a wand of searing light and Arcainen tried unsuccessfully to move through the webs, then tried to use elemental body to turn into a fire elemental and failed his concentration check before dimension dooring into the room.

Meanwhile, Griz was meleeing the skeletons with a morning star, Wyndham engaged them and Richard climbed up to the ledge, unfortunately ending his movement on a thin strip of earth overlooking a 20' drop. There, he was hit by two skeleton attacks, failed his balance (acrobatics) check and fell down again. Jerrick healed the group and Richard climbed again, was hit again and fell again before refusing to climb a third time.

Meanwhile, Arcainen finally moved into the room, took air elemental form and shot some quickened magic missiles and maybe a fireball (there are so many, I forget). Between Vor and Jerrick's arrows, Griz's Morningstar and Wyndham's club, they minced the 8 bloody skeletons.

They searched the room and eventually found a doorway hidden by illusion and locked, opened it and sent Wyndham into the fog. There, they met the Derghodaemon (which I had failed to use in a previous hallway) and that was a fairly ugly fight. The Daemon's Feeblemind aura hurt half the party (Arcainen, Wyndham and Richard), flooded the room with swarms of spiders and moved to attack.

Griz used a Wind Fan to blow the swarm away (clever) and they engaged the daemon hand to hand. Wyndham, Vor and Jerrick stayed back shooting their bows, Arcainen had nothing but a dagger (which he used to slash ineffectively at the stationary swarm) and Griz and Richard moved to melee. I rolled very poorly for the daemon's attacks, then a little better, rending both fighters but it eventually went down like a chump.

They healed and pressed on, fighting the cleric guardian (who really needed some allies as he went down pretty quickly because of action economy) and the party hurried into the final room of the dungeon to meet Armagh and his bloody skeletons.

This was much more of an interesting, chaotic fight as I had bumped the skeletons up to number 12. Jerrick moved deep into the room and started channeling to damage the skellies, Arcainen moved into a corner and was soon surrounded by skeletons himself, Wyndham looped around and got himself into a bit of trouble when the skeletons moved to him and Richard and Grisly waded in and melee'd the skeletons and Armagh. It was a pretty decent fight (8 rounds, maybe) and eventually Armagh was killed and his minions destroyed for all time.

They took the sword (Wyndham picked up and miraculously beat the first Ego check) and were talking about selling it (Which Jerrick refused to do because of the damage it could wreak on the community) or destroying it (the plan until Wyndham failed his ego checks). Wyndham struggled with the sword, eventually succeeding in beating it in a battle of wills and destroying it on Armag's tomb. They emptied the tomb and stripped the bodies, getting their first really big treasure haul in a really long time (something like 110,000 gp worth from this session).

They took Armagh's head and his stuff and went outside the tomb, finding a vigil of Cougar Lord Shoanti, who cheered the defeat of their former leader in glorious battle and opted to leave peacefully. They informed the party that they had sacked Ravenmoor and at Armagh's suggestion to sow chaos in the region, they had demanded that Ravenmoor send a raiding party against the PCs kingdom.

=====================================================================
This sets up the first encounter from KM4 after they have done the last part of it (Armagh's Tomb), which may well be followed by the middle part (going against the City of Ravenmoor). That may depend on what the PCs decide to do. I'll probably beef up the raiding force or something.

I really have no idea what my group will decide after they get attacked by the neighbouring barony. Since they stirred up this nest, I may have them be asked to depose the leaders of Ravenmoor to spark off that particular tangent. They may well want to wait for a couple months to build up their kingdom treasury to launch a real war, which is fine by me.

If I am successful in delaying my PCs' efforts against the stone giants, I may jump into the beginning of KM5 (the Rushlight tournament, probably run from Roderic's Cove at the behest of a Lamia Matriarch in control there) and run the stone giant invasion in a similar scale and difficulty as the invasion armies in KM5. Clearly, we'll see what is to come.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 40 - The battle of Sanos Pass

In attendance:
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)

Missing:
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief) ****Away for PaizoCon****

Last time, the party had learned that an invasion force from Ravenmoor was headed for their outpost in Sanos Pass (per the opening scenario from KM4). They hurried back, met the NPC lady who said the attack was coming in less than 30 minutes, so the PCs prepared what they could.

They opted to dig trenches, build barricades and put archers on the rooftops. The battle came from a slightly unexpected direction and played out pretty much as planned in the book. They ended up with a draw (2 vs. 2) and so repelled the invaders. I upped the ante with the hill giants, making them levelled hill giants or something (using the entry for Fire Giants from the Bestiary, 1 per PC, CR 10 each against my level 11 party). My PCs kind of dribbled in as the night went on so we ended up with 4 hill giants at the time of the attack and they were killed or driven away with minimal damage to the town (half the militia was lost, one bank of houses and the tavern were destroyed, and they got 2 unrest because of the close call).

They then decided to scry and fry the leaders of Ravenmoor and cut another head off of another snake, as it were.

They snuck into town coming downriver and water breathing at night and then blew their stealth checks in town, attracted some giants (also hill giants using fire giant stats) and had a brief battle in the streets before they snuck into the brothel to meet their contact there. She healed everyone's damage and a plan was hatched to dimension door into the top floor of the keep and fight down.

The alarm had been raised so I decided that all the leaders were in the throne room and there would be guards on the walls and balconies to defend against an attack from below. The PCs therefore emerged in an empty upper floor, checked those rooms and moved down a floor, bumped into a balcony full of archers (who miraculously won initiative and peppered Arcainen with arrows before getting slaughtered in a couple rounds by the heroes).

Sadly, we had to quit there because someone had to work early in the morning, with the keep alerted that there were infiltrators, the leadership of the kingdom mustered in the throne room waiting one floor below the PCs and spell durations ticking away.

=======================================================================
As of now, I still have no idea what my PCs next move will be, be it to go back after the Stone Giants or to deal with annexing a new piece of kingdom and/or sort out their current over-expansion woes and/or deal with their abundant loot from Armagh's tomb which they will probably mostly liquidate and craft into bigger and better stuff.

I've asked them to have an offline discussion so I can plan but I am skeptical that anything concrete will come of it and I expect to fly by the seat of my pants.

I really enjoyed the fight at the beginning of tonight's game - the battle part was very rules-light, I gave my PCs each a turn to do something interesting every round if they wanted (they mostly shot arrows, for which I dutifully counted dead baddies), and used the results from the rolls to simulate the various stages of the battle.

The attack on the keep was fun too but disappointing for me because I wanted to get to the end of the big fight in the same session so I wouldn't have a broken session next time with my players killing the leadership, finding new and improved gear and leafing through their books trying to decide what to buy or whatever, all while arguing about what to do next.

C'est la vie.

I'm thinking that if my PCs ignore the Giants for more than a couple of months, I will start the events of KM5 (an invitation to a tournament, the invitation coming from the leadership of Roderic's Cove), at the behest of a Lamia Matriarch in a position of trust there to divert the kings of Thornhold while the Stone Giants come pouring down the Storval Steps and we do the mass combat parts of that adventure with giant and troll armies instead of Pitaxians. This would probably be bad for my group as their kingdom is quite a bit behind where it should be but that's life.

In this time line, Mokmurian will have split from his army to go to Sandpoint to kill or capture the Scribbler, and he will then head to Runeforge and things may well be very different from then on. They'll get a heads up from Sandpoint saying that another giant was seen there and that a new passage was found in the catacombs of Wrath and strange things have been coming out of the hole. They may well reach Runeforge to find Mokmurian allied with the Mithral Mage etc.

If they hurry things along and confront the giants right away, they'll be back on the RotR track again at which point I think I'll let the kingdom stuff fade into the background and we'll follow RotR to its conclusion with a few minor alterations.

The long-term plan for a finale is once Karzoug is dead, the Leng device may be what is holding back the first world stuff from KM6 and so they will kill the guy they think is the bad guy just to find out that he was holding a crazy nymph back from ruining their lands with First World Eruptions.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had a fun idea this afternoon.

My PCs are delaying for a certain amount of time, probably several weeks or even several months.

I'm thinking that because of the delay, whenever they arrive at Jorgenfist, they will find the armies even bigger but the leadership gone. The dungeon will be there and all that but Mokmurian will be gone. Conna will be able to tell the party that he left to one of the locations that he got from talking to the stones, a location that he described as a prison under one of "Alaznist's Hellstorm Flumes", and that the prison held a key to creating a weapon of power to serve and free Karzoug the Claimer.

If they don't get it right away PCs will be able to research from the library and figure out that he's left for Sandpoint. They'll get there to find that the dungeon has been opened up and a lower level discovered. Maybe Mokmurian will leave them something scary to fight in place of the Scribbler, they'll be able to figure out the riddle and follow him to Runeforge, etc.

Maybe they then move through Runeforge and find that they are late again and he's left and an invasion is incoming.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 41 - A Barony for the taking

In attendance:
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)

Missing:
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)

We left last time in the middle of a dynamic assault of the keep in Ravenmoor. Resistance had been light and the PCs were confident. That all changed when they hit the second floor and met with some serious battlefield control spells.

Opening the stairwell door, they found that the landing room was filled with a wall of ice cold effect, this slowed them down a bit and focused them into the kill zone as far as the leadership of Ravenmoor was concerned. When the door opened, a field of black tentacles opened up, grappling most of the party. This was quickly dispelled and after a fireball softened the party up, the two warriors (Richard and Grisly) charged in, engaging the keep's guards.

Ravenmoor's wizard then used wall of force to separate Grisly from the rest of the party, who were left somewhat at a loss as to what to do. Grisly fought valiantly but alone and quickly shed hit points to the guards and the Baron.

The rest of the party circled around and ate a bunch of damage from the wall of cold, Richard and Arcainen dimension doored across the battlefield in time to cluster enough of the party to be in position to eat a confusion spell just as Grisly fell dying for the second time. The confusion did not go well as Arcainen, Richard and Vor all failed their saves, and Jerrick was out of Dispel Magics.

Still, they managed to kill pretty much everyone in the room, causing the Baron to flip away and try to flee, but not before Arcainen was left dying and the confused Richard killed the ranger Vor. Jerrick ran away from the killing machine Richard, chasing the Baron down and killing him with a single round worth of attacks. The confusion effect eventually lapsed and the body count was 2 dead PCs, Arcainen nearly dead and the Barony freed from its tyrant. Two quick raise deads and restorations later, the party secured the city and started to make plans for their kingdom.

They spent a long time coming up with questions for a Commune spell that they were going to use to gauge whether they could safely deal with kingdom business and ignore the Stone Giants for a time. They learned:
1) Mokmurian's armies weren't going to attack in the next 5 months but it was uncertain whether an attack would be coming in 6 months or not. The uncertainty is because in several months, Mokmurian will be heading to Runeforge and will be beyond even divine knowledge at that time

2) The dragon Longtooth is still an ally of Mokmurian

3) Mokmurian has no powerful enemies other than the party

4) Mokmurian has a powerful artifact (the Runeslave Cauldron)

5) Mokmurian's armies do not yet number more than 500 giants

6) If they kill Mokmurian, they don't have to worry about Giants attacking the Plains

7) When the giant attack comes, it's coming down the Storval Stairs

They were happy enough with these answers and decided to annex the former Barony in Ravenmoor and do some work to reduce their kingdom's unrest. They also decided to contact the other rulers in Lower Varisia and warn them about the coming Giant Invasion, Lord Mayor Gorbaras (sic?) countered, suggesting they have a summit, reviving a tradition called the Rushlight Tournament (from KM5).

The PCs accepted and did a couple of kingdom turns. With the rapid expansion they have undergone in recent months, the treasury is now totally broke, they can barely make Stability Checks, they got unlucky and failed three Economy Checks in a row so they didn't make any income in those three months. The up-side is they got rid of their unrest and consumption is zero. They may have to add actually add money to the Kingdom's treasury.

=======================================================================
That's the end of that night. Next session is the Rushlight tournament (lifted from KM5), which I will run with a couple of extra games depending on who shows up - should be a relatively light-hearted event. For Rulers in attendance, I am planning on having representatives from Riddleport, the Sanos Gnomes, Korvosa, Janderhoff and Magnimar in attendance and with champions entered in the games. There will be no treachery this time but I'm going to have to do some work to make the summit be what it should be.

If my PCs do well, they will secure help from several of these kingdoms in the form of armies (and maybe monetary help because they are so poor) when and if the giants attack. If they do poorly, they will get less and less help as they are positioned right where the giants are due to strike.

When my PCs do go after Mokmurian in Jorgenfist, they are going to find that he's left with his inner circle for the dungeons below Sandpoint and thence to Runeforge, the armies are still growing, and the chase will be on.

In an ideal world, they will have the tournament, delay for a couple of months to get close to their 6-month deadline, head to Jorgenfist, head to Sandpoint and meet the Scribbler, miss Mokmurian in Runeforge (maybe fight him and his cronies as he escapes), they will then have to solve the riddle on how to escape themselves, which gives Mokmurian time to march his armies and we'll do the war part of KM5 before the PCs head off to Xin Shalast.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 42 - Games for Kings

In attendance:
Jerrick - Shoanti bow hunter cleric of Erastil with a horse companion (High Priest)
Richard - Extreme AC sword and board fighter (General)
Grisly - Dwarven switch-hitting barbarian (War Chief)
Wyndham - Human rogue/shadowdancer with a nasty streak and a shadow-companion(Lord of Whispers)
Mark - Human blaster-evoker (Magister)

Missing:
Vor - Halforc bow ranger, former Black Arrow with a large wolf companion (Forest Warden)
Arcainen - Human water bloodline sorcerer, focused on rays (High Chancellor)

This night, I ran the Rushlight Tournament from KM5 as a summit organized by my PCs to talk to the rulers of the local kingdoms that might be affected by an incoming giant invasion. Those kingdoms include: Korvosa, Magnimar, The Sanos Gnomes, the Janderhoff Dwarves and the pirate barony of Riddleport and Roderick's Cove. Below is a bit of the notes I made on each ruler, who was entered in each event and some information I had set up before the PCs would meet with each of them.

Long Handout:
Magminar
Ruler: Lord Mayor Haldmeer Gorbaras
First Impressions: Fat and surrounded by hellknight bodyguards at all times.
Personality: Vain and lazy. In the years since the party interacted with him, he’s become more of an empty shell of a man, consumed by his appetites and corrupt. DC25 – He is secretly terrified. Since he was on an assassination list and since a similar attack against him a year ago, he has poured his vast wealth into personal protection and is extremely paranoid.
Objective: Wishes to project an aura of power to secure his grip on power in Magnimar. He is eager to support the winning side and so will be the first to lend support against the giant invasion (DC20 to secure help)
Events:
Archery: Villamor Koth (Pitax)
Axe: Villamor Koth (Pitax)
Boasting: Annamede Belvarah (Pitax)
Skills: Zuwa Odighi(2nd Pitax)
Joust: Villamor Koth (Pitax)

Riddleport
Ruler: Gaston Cromarcky, (NE F7/Exp5)
First Impressions: Rugged sailor type.
Personality: Confident in command, respectful of the PCs achievements as he respects a man who works for his coin. DC25 – He is not charmed but his confidant Yalleros Durban is.
Objective: He is neutral to the coming invasion talk, willing to work with the giants if they want or pick up the pieces if the PCs are spent against an invasion. He is the fourth to lend a hand. (DC35 to secure help)
Events:
Archery: Ilrath Valadhkani (Daggermark)
Axe: Timsina Siraj (Tymon)
Boasting: Memon Esponde (Daggermark)
Skills: Aliasghar Zirrians (1st Mivon)
Joust: Chantal Urena (Daggermark)

Janderhoff
Ruler: Turan Helmweir, (LG F8)
First Impressions: Gruff and stone-faced
Personality: Absolute skepticism about the PCs’ right to rule. DC25 – He is as he seems and is willing to talk business.
Objective: His interest lies in protecting and enhancing trade. He is willing to provide a mercenary army to fight the giants in exchange for the right of his people to make unfettered claims to mineral rights in the Iron and Wyvern Peaks. The owners of those claims may come under Thornhold’s rule and taxation but the benefit of the special hexes shall remain private. (DC25 to secure help)
Events:
Archery: Forin Mynak (As Florant Myank, Gralton)
Axe: Dizon Marmada (Mivon)
Boasting: Ankus Depergode (Gralton)
Skills: Tursk (as Zuwa with fast climb and no cheating)
Joust: Burak Tonwir (As Briannel Paulson, Gralton)
Sanos Gnomes
Ruler: Binka Seebles, (CG B5, E3)
First Impressions: Brightly dressed, scattered, female gnome
Personality: Flighty and unconcerned. DC25 – This is a façade
Objective: She is very much concerned about Thornhold’s growth on her borders and wants a formal treaty defining the limits of the human “incursion” into the Sanos Forest, though pleased that they made peace with the Nomen Centaurs. She warns about dangers in the woods and she is neutral to the giant invasion, trusting that her people can retreat to the forest’s protective reaches as they have always done. (DC30 to secure help)
Events:
Archery: Navarthana (Mivon)
Axe: Yegina Varudu (Daggermark)
Boasting: Mailolessa (Tymon)
Skills: Jas Timlottom (as Jas Heydari, Pitax 1)
Joust: Khristel Cotoio (Mivon)


Korvosa
Ruler: Eomwyr Chaltana, second cousin of King Eodred (LE R12)
First impressions: Crafty and charming
Personality: He is entirely there for the fun of it. He has no real power and has answered the invitation purely as a diversion.
Objective: He is here for a good time. If pressed on his kingdom’s happenings, he remains quiet, claiming that the Crimson Throne’s doings are its own business and not to be questioned by petty chieftans or lowly bureaucrats such as himself. (DC40 to secure help)
Events:
Archery: Damanjot (Tymon)
Axe: Kilbaskian Ord (Gralton)
Boasting: Ceala Ravenbrow Mivon)
Skills: Valeda Karmakar (Mivon)
Joust: Damanjot (Tymon)

Events
Magminar
Archery: Villamor Koth (Pitax)
Axe: Villamor Koth (Pitax)
Boasting: Annamede Belvarah (Pitax)
Skills: Zuwa Odighi(2nd Pitax)
Joust: Villamor Koth (Pitax)

Riddleport
Archery: Ilrath Valadhkani (Daggermark)
Axe: Timsina Siraj (Tymon)
Boasting: Memon Esponde (Daggermark)
Skills: Aliasghar Zirrians (1st Mivon)
Joust: Chantal Urena (Daggermark)

Janderhoff
Archery: Forin Mynak (As Florant Myank, Gralton)
Axe: Dizon Marmada (Mivon)
Boasting: Ankus Depergode (Gralton)
Skills: Tursk (as Zuwa with fast climb and no cheating)
Joust: Burak Tonwir (As Briannel Paulson, Gralton)
Sanos Gnomes

Archery: Navarthana (Mivon)
Axe: Yegina Varudu (Daggermark)
Boasting: Mailolessa (Tymon)
Skills: Jas Timlottom (as Jas Heydari, Pitax 1)
Joust: Khristel Cotoio (Mivon)

Korvosa
Archery: Damanjot (Tymon)
Axe: Kilbaskian Ord (Gralton)
Boasting: Ceala Ravenbrow Mivon)
Skills: Valeda Karmakar (Mivon)
Joust: Damanjot (Tymon)

Tournament Events
Day 1: Arrival, evening feast
Day 2: Archery competition (6 arrows total with MW bow provided, Targets are AC5, AC7, AC11 at 30’, 220’, 550’ with hardness 0, 2, 4 – Points are 1/3, 3/9, {5/15 hit/critical})
Day 3: Test of the Axe (10 rounds total, MW great axe, waraxe, battle axe, hand axe; 1-ft thick log, AC 3, hardness 5, HP 120, 5-points for cutting through, 2 for damaging, logs are 10 feet apart)
Day 4: Boasting (Beginning Intimidate, Middle Bluff, End Diplomacy, Overall Performance)
Day 5: The tower of Jewels (Climb a 60-foot high pole, Open a box, Grab the most valuable jewel, the competitor with the most valuable gem in the fastest time wins)
Day 6: Summits and feasting, capped off with midnight joust (Ride, CMB, CMD with MW lance and shield provided)
Day 7: Departure

Basic Tournament Rules
1) Harm no spectators
2) Kill no competitors
3) Competitions are individual efforts only
4) Use the equipment provided in the individual event
5) 3 points for winning an event, 1 point for coming in second, ridicule for coming in lower

Each ruler came in with an agenda and a different predisposition to help the PCs or not. Some had ulterior motives (that could be sensed with difficult Sense Motive checks) and some could help only if pressed.

The games were really run. I added the Tower of Jewels event from Jason Nelson's director's cut so each of my 5 PCs had something to do and that part of the evening was a success.

Jerrick won the Archery event by casting Divine Power in the first round and then Rapid Shotting 3 arrows in each of the next two rounds into the far target.

Griz came in second in the Log cutting in a tiebreaker by a couple of HPs after he missed his last swing with a 1 on the die.

Wyndham won the boasting by the slimmest of margins telling a re-tooled version of the Star Wars story with himself as protagonist in a fantasy setting (grew up on farm, had great power, turned out to be son of Emperor's right hand man, etc.).

Mark took part in the Tower of Jewels event, flying up to his box to find he couldn't get into it before fireballing it open, catching a middling worth gem and having several others smash on the ground. He did some interfering with the other competitors including disintegrating someone else's box but he ultimately lost because he was unlucky with the gem he caught and didn't have the ability to pick out a better one (he finished third).

Richard also finished third in the Drunken Joust competition, which I ran as an increasing penalty drinking contest, so each round the competitors had to chug a significant portion of ale, gaining cumulative -2 sickness penalties until they got rather easy to knock off of their horses.

Before the jousting, the group met with each of the five kingdoms and I was really happy with my preparations:

They started with the Sanos Gnomes who were totally unhelpful. Binka Seebles was only interested in securing a treaty defining the southern margin of her territories and warned in very dark terms that the Southern Sanos Forest is not to be entered by any humans for any reason. My group was a bit peeved by this as she was clear that it may well mean death for anyone who entered and that the party was to communicate this to their people. They did not win her over and she will not be supplying an army.

Next was Gaston Cromarcky from Riddleport who started neutral to it saying he could make a deal with the giants or even profiteer when and if chaos rained upon the plain. Amazingly (DC35 diplomacy), Wyndham was able to win him over, arguing that if the giants cleaned out all of their lands, Riddleport would be next.

Next was Turan Helmeir from Janderhoff who was ready to supply a mercenary army for money and mineral rights in the Iron Peaks and Wyvern Mountains. Even though my group is unlikely to do much exploration up there, they were reluctant to cede future rights (good avarice on their part) and so after some back and forth negotiations, they ended up resolving to pay double the cost for a mercenary army if they needed one. (When the giant invasion comes, they are going to get another offer for free help in exchange for the mineral rights again.)

Next they met with Eomwyr Chaltana from Korvosa. I've been leaking some of the Curse of the Crimson Throne details to my PCs so they know that there are troubles in the city. Eomwyr was just there for a good time and had no real power so he had an exceedingly hard DC to secure help (DC 40 diplomacy) which my PCs just missed so they had a little drink and went their separate ways.

Finally was Haldmeer Gorbaras of Magnimar. He was a shell of a man and paranoid to the extreme. He trusts almost nobody from his home lands and has come to trust the PCs because they have lived up to their deeds. He promised what help he could provide and the PCs asked him what they could do to help him and he answered that if they could secure the road between Ravenmoor and Wolf's ear, that would increase trade and would help him politically.

The whole event was a real success. My group had some great roleplaying time and had a chance to feel like kings. The summits especially were fun as were the conversations among my PCs between meetings about the previous people. They ended up very much annoyed with the Gnomes most of all and are still mulling the various offers the mercantile dwarves made.

They finished their crafting and we ran a couple of kingdom turns.
=============================================================
Everyone is now 11th level except for Jerrick who just reached 12th. The plan is for the PCs to head off to Jorgenfist on the morrow, where they will find hugely expanded armies swarming the valley and once they steal into the keep, they will find that Mokmurian has left the castle with his inner circle to Sandpoint and thence to Runeforge.

The plan for next time is not to move on to this but instead the Kings are going to hire some adventurers to do some exploration for them. My Players are going to make 7th level characters to explore the balance of the hexes around their lands and we're going to have a little mid-level intermission before we get into the end game story with their main characters. These 7th level guys will end up being NPCs that will be available to work for the kingdom in leadership roles in the future. I'm not sure how many sessions this hexploration is going to take, I'm guessing 3 or 4 to do everything that's left on the map. This time, I've enforced strict limits on character strength (everyone starts with the elite array and proper wealth for a 7th level dude).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I updated and expanded my party's country map today.

It's not 100% correct as I don't have my notes here detailing the Northeastern borders but it's pretty close and reflects the border changes they negotiated with the Sanos Gnomes. Since they are grown up kings now, they can stake claim to whatever they like so there are no restrictions (other than roleplaying ones) like on previous maps.

===LINK TO MAP===

Shaded hexes are farmed, those with red dots are explored and cleared. They are hiring adventurers to do some exploration because plot concerns have gotten in the way of expanding their domain.

Waiting out there are most of the fey encounters from KM2-4, the abandoned elven keep, the abandoned temple of Erastil, the Owlbear, the Troll lair, a green dragon in the Ashwood and all sorts of other minor lairs, baddies and roleplaying encounters.

(edit)
I noticed a couple more problems (the scale bar is off - should be 60 miles, not 120).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 43 - (Aside#1 with 5 half-elves and 2 dwarves)

In attendance (a bunch of names I don't remember):
Halfelf Ftr4/Rog3 - elven curveblade guy (a real melee killer)
Halfelf Ftr4/Rog3 - TWF guy (soft in melee)
Halfelf Ftr1/Wiz5/EK1 - Armoured wizard guy (mage hand, buffs and touch spells)
Halfelf Wiz7 - Conjurer and controller wizard
Halfelf Dru7 - Brother of elven curveblade guy, Weather domain
Dwarf Mnk7 - Weakly built monk who can't hit much (fell into the classic monk trap of high wis/dex/con, low str)
Dwarf Clr7 - Caiden Cailean - Basic cleric, mixed spells and melee, Travel and ??? domains

The main storyline party decided spend 1BP to hire an adventuring party to do some mapping and hex settling work for them. I made the guys make elite array characters (15/14/13/12/10/8 with average HP/HD and proper wealth by level for 7th level). This is the group they came up with.

The timeline is rewound 4 months to the beginning of spring.

The party met with the kingdom's Councillor (Rescued Black arrow boss Jakardos what's'his'name), got a charter and headed out to explore the Northern Sanos Forest and some of the lands around their various holdings. It was a lighthearted night of fast paced hack and slash back in the meat of the fast and fun levels before action paralysis sets in.

- They fought a random encounter with a pair of Chuul (really tough due to high AC, grab, etc.)
- They found a flooded silver mine with an advanced chimera living in it (not so tough, they worked better against it than against the Chuul)
- They bypassed a fight with a bull mastodon at the Linnorm grave
- They found the body of a dead nobleman who they buried and I rolled a grizzly bear random encounter for the night and randomly he came on the druid's watch, digging and eating the dead body. Druid befriended him with a huge Animal Empathy roll (bumping it up from unfriendly to helpful) and the party was a bit choked that he let the bear do that. Bear is now being trained 4 hours a day using speak with animals and handle animal.
- They were ambushed by a giant venus flytrap, which was a scary encounter, killing one horse and requiring both wizards to use true strike to break the grapple. It died in the end but it was close.
- They discovered an obvious ettercap trap (a sinkhole in the forest with a dwarf body with a glowing warhammer atop a pinnacle in the middle with 4 rope bridges leading to it, surrounded by spider webs). They couldn't resist the bait and a fight ensued that was interesting in its geometric complexity (collapsible web bridges, webby concealment, not wanting to go into the fight except for a couple of the lower wisdom folk who couldn't resist)

5 combat encounters, one bypassed, one NPC roleplaying encounter, 14 hexes cleared in a short night's adventuring (4.5 hours after auditing character sheets) and fun times were had all around. Coming next are a bunch of more complex fey-related encounters from KM2 mostly. Will be more roleplay and there are some ruins out there to explore that I'll have to beef up for APL 8.

Part of why I wanted to run this was to plant the seeds of the thin gateway to the First World of the fey in case I do KM6 after RotR6. I'm thinking that Karzoug's destruction may involve a retributive strike that breaks an ancient barrier he erected to suppress the Fey in the area.
I'm guessing this whole aside will take 3 or 4 sessions total if we keep going at a good clip and I don't hit them with too many random encounters. I'll probably have to do something along those lines soon though so they learn they can't Nova on the first encounter of the day. Then, it'll be back to the heady stuff of Runelords returning and giant invasions invading. We'll be back on the path by Octoberish.

I gotta say though, having the group at 15 point buy (Elite Array) is slick. I don't have to worry about some guys being unhittable or the wizard having half as many HP as the Sorcerer. The only adjustments I made were bumping the encounters by +1 CR to account for the large group and other than the flytrap encounter (which had some bad luck based on the dice roll as to who got snatched first and was APL+2), everything was fun and challenging but not too scary.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Session 43 - (Aside#2 with 5 half-elves and 2 dwarves)

In attendance (a bunch of names I don't remember):
Halfelf Ftr4/Rog3 - elven curveblade guy (a real melee killer)
Halfelf Ftr1/Wiz5/EK1 - Armoured wizard guy (mage hand, buffs and touch spells)
Halfelf Wiz7 - Conjurer and controller wizard
Halfelf Dru7 - Brother of elven curveblade guy, Weather domain
Dwarf Clr7 - Caiden Cailean - Basic cleric, mixed spells and melee, Travel and ??? domains

Not In attendance:
Halfelf Ftr4/Rog3 - TWF guy (soft in melee)
Dwarf Mnk7 - Weakly built monk who can't hit much (fell into the classic monk trap of high wis/dex/con, low str)

Exploration continued in the Sanos Forest - short session.

They pressed on, found a Roc nest in a ruined tower atop a tall hill. They fought and drove off the Roc (after the wizard got plucked away and his homunculous did some biting en route), finding a number of huge eggs and getting a great place to look around. They decided to offer half the eggs back to the kingdom if the kingdom sent someone to retrieve them, which they did.

From, the tower, they saw two structures - a building of some kind in the northern half of the forest and a large, vine covered keep with a large central tower many miles to the south.

They headed to the closer, smaller building and met a swack of giant spiders along the way, and were pranked by an unknown fey before they reached the building. It was an abandoned temple of Erastil with a huge elk carved into the side of a hill. There was a giant enraged dire bear there that caused some trouble before going down in a heap.

We'll probably finish the aside next week in an extra long game we have scheduled, or certainly by the week after and then it's back to FotSG/SotS action with the main characters.

I think this little vacation from the main guys has been well timed and they will be happy to return to the plot when the time is right.

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