Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Rise of the Runelords
This'll be the first time I've posted campaign details online in this manner, but this campaign is going well so far, and for a group of brand new roleplayers, these players are doing quite well. So I'll be keeping a record.
The game is being played through a combination of texts, instant message, forum posts, skype, and in-person game sessions. The players have been incredibly eager to game so far, so we're progressing quite fast (It took them about 2 weeks to clear Burnt Offerings, for example).
The PCs (as of 1st level):
Uriel - Male LG Aasimar Paladin (of Iomedae) 1 (This is my second player over the years who's liked to use angelic naming.)
Lulu - Female CN Gnomeborn Changeling Witch 1 (Lulu was the result of a joint-effort between me and the player to help her create a PC based on the champion of the same name from the online game League of Legends.)
Atali "Inkskin" Saar - Female CN Human Barbarian (Titan Mauler) 1 (Atali has a tendency to go naked in battle.)
Zaru - Male CG Vanara Inquisitor (of Sun Wukong)(Sin Eater) 1 (Zaru seemed inconspicuous enough at first, but has already grown to be the wildest character build to ever grace my table.)
The travelling paladin Uriel arrived in Varisia, having come originally from his home in Lastwall. He progressed towards Sandpoint to join in the festivities of the Swallowtail festival. Journeying with him was the barbarian Atali, a native of the Sodden Lands, whom Uriel had met convinced to come see the world with him (this was initially a ploy to convince her to break her habit of constant nudity, by introducing her to more civilized society, but the two have since grown closer as friends. Uriel now accepts Atali's traditional nudity in battle, and Atali now agrees to cover herself in everyday life).
Simultaneously arriving in Sandpoint was the inquisitor Zaru, who had been drawn across the crown of the world by a mysterious and unclear command from his patron deity, the Monkey King Sun Wukong. Upon arrival in Sandpoint, the vanara encountered a new arrival to the material plane itself, the witch Lulu who had wandered into the First World 6369 years ago and had only recently realized how long she'd been gone for (and returned to find a world in which everyone and everything familiar to her was long-gone). Lulu found an immediate friend in Zaru, who like her, didn't quite fit into modern Varisian society, and the two decided to stay at the Rusty Dragon until the end of the festival, making an acquaintance of tavern owner Ameiko Kaijitsu as well.
At the eve of the festival's conclusion, the four of them all happened to be gathered in the same place to observe the ceremony...
Part 1: The raid
An unexpected scream and chant during the ceremony caused panic through the streets, and a grin of smug confidence from Atali. The barbarian liked the goblin chant, as it clearly spelled out who her enemy was and why they were to be disliked. Uriel on the other hand preferred to get down to business immediately and moved towards the first group of goblins he saw while Atali peeled off her clothes. Before he could reach them though, a crossbow bolt struck one, toppling it! And when Uriel struck the second and just barely failed to finish it off, an oddly dressed gnome whirled past him and struck the goblin down with her claws! The barbarian cut down the final goblin and from that moment on, the four would be together, though they didn't know it yet.
An explosion caught the group's eye across the square, and the group moved to investigate, putting themselves in combat with another group of goblins! Zaru shot down the goblin spellcaster, but Lulu was taken out of commission by a well-aimed dogslicer. Fortunately the group was able to (mostly by accident) find Father Zantus to administer magical aid to Lulu and get her back on her feet.
With Lulu on her feet, the group followed the sound of a scream to find a cowering nobleman, whom Atali rescued from a mounted goblin leader (while the other heroes fought the goblin leader's henchmen). The noble, one Aldern Foxglove, was quite taken with the naked woman who'd saved his life, and invited the group to join him for boar hunting and a meal, as well as a reward for saving his life later.
Part 2: Sandpoint's heroes
The group that had fought together attracted attention together, and in the aftermath of the fight a fair number of intrigued men (and women) who had gotten a glimpse of a tattoo-covered naked woman slaughtering goblins were eager to seek out Atali and her friends. Sheriff Belor Hemlock and his guardsmen kept the crowds dispersed, but the rest of the town had already grouped the four adventurers together and begun to think of them as Sandpoint's heroes.
In the confusion, Ameiko Kaijitsu sought and Lulu and Zaru to inform them that their bill at the Rusty Dragon was now nonexistant, and that they (and the other two of Sandpoints heroes) were free to stay at her inn at no charge.
It only took a few hours of free food and drink, discounted armor, and cheers going up wherever they went for the adventurers to realize their own status as heroes, and for the sheriff to realize the same. Hemlock chose to make full-use of these new heroes to combat the town's problems, and the paladin Uriel complied, actually approaching the sheriff with an offer of aid whenever it was necessary before the sheriff could approach them.
In the days following the raid, a number of minor problems arose, and always the heroes were there. The desecration of tomb the town's previous priest, Father Tobyn was the first, and the heroes destroyed the wicked undead that had been left in the tomb. Following that, the group was forced to deal with a wayward goblin, unfortunately arriving too late to prevent the gruesome fate of family man Alergast Barett.
Even unwinding in the Rusty Dragon was not to be relaxing it seemed, as the appearance of owner Ameiko's father, Lonjiku Kaijitsu seemed to suggest. Lonjiku's berating of Sandpoint's new heroes nearly drew violence from Atali, and revealed a bit more of the group's background to each other. A paladin of Lastwall, a warrior of a Sodden Lands tribe, a headhunter from Minkai... Only Lulu freely admitted to having no military or combat background upon Lonjiku's accusation of the four being too unprofessional for Sandpoint. The irate nobleman's retort was quickly cut short by the arrival of his daughter however, and in the argument that followed, a soup ladle to the head was enough to make the man all-but disown his daughter!
Ameiko retreated to the kitchen before any could attempt to console her, and Uriel went about getting gawking people back to their tables. It was at this point that Atali was approached by one miss Shayliss Vinder to deal with a rat problem. Eager to get out of the tavern, where people seemed to be battling with words rather than the weapons Atali felt they should be using, Atali agreed.
She arrived in the Vinder cellar to find not rats, but a cot, and the suddenly-naked Shayliss Vinder. Atali accepted these advances without a second thought, and was too engrossed in passionate lovemaking to hear the girl's father descending down the stairs. The man was furious to find the two women in the midst of what they were doing, and lashed out at Atali, who made no effort to disguise her actions as anything other than the truth. Ven Vinder lunged at her, fists flying, but was quite easily knocked to the floor by a sweep of Atali's leg. The barbarian then made the uncharacteristic-of-her decision to not fight back (mostly because she knew Uriel would be upset with her if she did), wished Shayliss a quick goodbye (and a playful "see you again"), and then grabbed her things and hurried out. Ven's fury quickly spread through the town, and the heroes' reputation quite nearly suffered a nasty blow. Fortunately for Atali however, the expert negotiation and deception abilities of Lulu countered Ven's words, and the average townsperson soon became convinced that Ven was merely being an overprotective father who had been unjustified in meddling in his daughter's love life.
That night, the heroes met once again with Aldern Foxglove, hunted a boar in the Tickwood, and enjoyed a hearty meal at the Rusty Dragon.
It wasn't until the next morning that less isolated events would begin to occur...
Part 3: A Tale of Three Kaijitsus?
The arrival of the elf Shalelu Andosana caused a stir among Sandpoint's guards, and Uriel was quick to know about it. Shalelu had brought distressing news of suspicious goblin activity in the hinterlands, and raised Sheriff Hemlock's concern enough that man decided to recruit some additional muscle in Magnimar, asking Sandpoint's heroes to fill in for him (and most of the guard, who would be likewise away). The heroes agreed and took charge of half a dozen or so guards while the sheriff and the rest went on their way.
On the morning after Hemlock's departure, Zaru (being from Tian Xia) was contacted by a halfling woman employed by Ameiko who informed of her concern, and the tavern owner's disappearance. Zaru easily gleaned the details of the Minkaian note found in Ameiko's room, and the four heroes followed its trail to the Sandpoint glassworks. Within they confronted goblins, and rescued a catatonic and near-dead Lonjiku Kaijitsu, who had suffered extreme burns from being encased in glass from the neck down. (Lonjiku was treated by Father Zantus, fortunately for him, but still retained facial scarring, which he saw as shameful and blamed his daughter for). With Lonjiku rescued, the heroes delved further into the glassworks where an intense battle with Ameiko's brother Tsuto and his remaining goblin minions ensued. The battle ended without victory, for though Tsuto fled, the heroes did as well! Atali was knocked out and nearly bled to death while Zaru rushed her to the church, and Lulu was forced to stay behind and guard the unconscious body of Uriel (who was too heavy for her to carry, but had stabilized, unlike Atali) while hoping for dear-life that no enemies would come upon her, as she herself had serious injuries as well and had expended most of her magic.
Fortunately Zaru got Atali to the church to be healed, and then rushed to bring what few guards remained in Sandpoint to the glassworks. They found the lower level of the glassworks abandoned by Tsuto (who had fortunately left Ameiko behind in his haste) and recovered the half-elf's diary, foretelling sinister plots in store for the town...
I love that in both our campaigns we just happened to have people from Tian Xia! I simply mandated that if my player wanted to play a kitsune, the kitsune was going to have to be from Tian Xia, with no idea how significant that was.
Nice to hear that in other campaigns, Tsuto is actually competent, and doesn't have an award named after him!
The PCs leveled up around the conclusion of the glassworks. Here's their level 2 advancements:
Uriel - Male LG Aasimar Paladin (of Iomedae) 2
Lulu - Female CN Gnomeborn Changeling Witch 2
Atali "Inkskin" Saar - Female CN Human Barbarian (Titan Mauler) 2
Zaru - Male CG Vanara Inquisitor (of Sun Wukong)(Sin Eater) 1/Monk (Martial Artist) 1
Part 4: The Catacombs:
The heroes discovered the tunnel Tsuto had fled down when they searched the glassworks thoroughly, and so two days later, they set out down it, rested and ready for anything.
Within they found a labyrinth of horrible things. Lulu was bitten near the entrance and her thoughts were overwhelmed by a sickening rage for the remainder of their time in the dungeon. She confessed all the things she hated about the unfamiliar present day, and her companions, but realized that something was clearly affecting her mind, which the others could see as well from her drastic shift in personality. Lulu insisted they press on despite her though, and so they moved further into the labyrinth, accidentally coming across the quasit leader of the place, where they were in for a tough battle.
The heroes could do little against the monster as it attacked them from the air, though they weathered the damage for a fair amount of time. Eventually Uriel allowed the quasit's magic dagger to strike him so that he could grab it and prevent it from returning to her, and Atati blocked the only escape route by closing the room's sole exit. With the door blocked, her weapon gone, and her spells exhausted, Uriel, Lulu, and Zaru focused their attacks until she was dead!
Lulu toke note of the strange well of orange liquid, and how its glow had diminished at the sacrifice of blood to create a monster. Without hesitation, she clawed open her hand and spilled some of her own blood into the well, creating another creature.
The group killed the monster and began to scold Lulu for her actions when the changeling outlined her theory; that the power of the strange artifact could be exhausted by continuing to create monsters. Lulu's idea convinced the others to try it, and the well indeed fell inert from their actions, thus ending a threat that was greater than they knew.
With the well and the quasit dealt with, it was a simple matter to defeat the rest of the monsters in the dungeon, though the group was unnerved by the sound of eerie howls from below, and from finding terrible things written on the floors of rooms they'd passed through earlier.
Now, the group realized, there was just one pressing issue remaining: Tsuto's journal had been uncovered in the aftermath of the battle at the glassworks, and if the writings in it were true, then Nualia, the daughter of the town's previous priest, who everyone had assumed to be dead, was all-too alive and undergoing a demonic transformation. Nualia had apparently established a base at Thistletop, the most dangerous of the local goblin strongholds, and if she was left unchecked, the town of Sandpoint would burn!
The Catacombs of Wrath were enough to get the PCs to 3rd level. Here are their advancements:
Uriel - Male LG Aasimar Paladin (of Iomedae) 2/Bard (Arcane Duelist) 1
Lulu - Female CN Gnomeborn Changeling Witch 3
Atali "Inkskin" Saar - Female CN Human Barbarian (Titan Mauler) 2/Sorcerer (Wildblooded Tattooed Sorcerer, Pit-Touched Bloodline) 1
Zaru - Male CG Vanara Inquisitor (of Sun Wukong)(Sin Eater) 1/Monk (Martial Artist) 1/Fighter 1
Part 4: Hedge Maze:
Lulu found Shalelu on the roof of the chuch, the elf keeping watch on both Sanpoint's north and east entrances at once, and the two spoke of the oncoming attack. During their talk, Lulu spotted Hemlock returning from his trip to Magnimar with a small unit of guards, though not nearly enough to defend the town with.
Shalelu, followed by Lulu, rushed to confront Hemlock about hiring so few additional guards, but the sheriff was convinced that a handful more was enough to keep the town perfectly defended, especially with the aid of the heroes. Hemlock politely forbade the PCs from leaving town, as they would be needed to fight the second goblin attack, while Shalelu stressed that waiting for the goblin tribes to gather was an extremely bad idea.
Lulu promptly charmed Hemlock with her magic and simply asked for permission for her group to go tackle Thistletop, with Shalelu staying in Sandpoint in their place. The sheriff, enchanted as he was, had no problems catering the witch's request, so Lulu quickly slipped off to find the others and skip town before her magic wore off and Hemlock tracked them down.
Zaru and Uriel were easy enough to find sparring behind the Rusty Dragon, while Atali was eventually located in the small tavern known as Risa's Place, and had to be almost pried away from a dinner with Shayliss Vinder (this was technically a date, but also a covert meeting to discuss the fact that both women had manifested diabolic powers after their sexual tryst earlier. Shayliss suspects her father's ancestry as the source, as Atali's barbaric heritage would be too chaotic for diabolic influence. Of course Atali hasn't told Shayliss all of her mysterious and disturbing true history yet, nor do her fellow heroes know of it). Fortunately Uriel was convincing enough to get ms. Vinder to believe Atali's sudden departure was entirely the fault of her friends (which it was), thus avoiding damaging the budding relationship.
With the group gathered, they left town for the first time since arriving for the Swallowtail Festival several days ago, and made their way towards Thistletop on foot, based on directions Shalelu had left with them. They arrived in the general area of the goblin stronghold about 3 hours later. They were met with a massive thicket of bramble on the edge of a cliff, and discovered after a search that there was no way around the obstacle by land.
While Uriel and Atali argued the pros and cons of a naval assault, Zaru and Lulu closely examined the edge of the thicket itself, discovering the hidden entryway before Uriel and Atali could come to a decision. They opted to proceed into the maze, following it through first to a campsite of ten goblins (of whom the group dispatched eight and bound and gagged the other two to bring back with them later), then back slightly to another disguised entrance to the maze, this one leading onto the western cliffside of the peninsula. They followed this short path to its end, discovering the entrance to a wide sea-cave below it, and climbed down to the cave, hoping it might be a back entrance.
Their choice of entrance resulted in a chaotic fight against a powerful Bunyip, in which Zaru's blood filled the water, and Atali fled in fear of the Bunyip's roar into the churning waters outside the cave, where she nearly drowned! The group fortunately managed to drive off the monster, heal Zaru, and throw a rope to Atali before he breath ran out, but it was tense.
Deciding that the sea cave, and the west side of the maze were too much trouble for little outcome, the group returned to the maze and made their way east, where they fought down a kennel of goblin dogs before being attacked by the firepelt cougar Tangletooth, and ambushed from behind by the goblin druid Gogmurt. The battle resulted in the group very nearly being defeated, with Uriel consuming all of his healing powers, and Zaru going down with Lulu's own healing already used on him. Uriel went down as well, though Lulu managed to get her back on her feet, and both Lulu and Atali were injured nearly to the point of unconsciousness! Gogmurt's ability to walk through the walls of the maze, combined with his ambush tactics, made the battle very difficult for him. The group was only victorious in the end thanks to Lulu forcing her way into the thorny wall that was Gogmurt's escape route, thus blocking his path, and stunning him with a spell as he attempted to retreat past her, casting the spell successfully despite the goblin's attack on her!
With Gogmurt momentarily disabled, Atali and Uriel were able to surround the goblin at last and the three conscious heroes cut him down before he could respond! The damage had already been done however, and the group was forced to grab the unconscious Zaru and flee the maze as Goblins from Thistletop responded to Gogmurt's signal and began combing through the maze in search of enemies!
Are you kidding? I'm still going nuts over a "worse" instead of "worst" typo in one of my posts.
It's really cool/interesting to watch your campaign progress alongside mine -- the thistle maze seems to be a party-whomper for everyone. My party didn't even make it past the first group of goblin dogs, and nearly suffered a TPK.
My next session notes should be up tomorrow, but my players spent the entire 6-hour session milling around Sandpoint, roleplaying like crazy but not progressing the campaign at all, so I suspect you're going to catch up with me soon enough...
I'm aspiring to be an editor. Not catching such simple mistakes really bugs me. :P
Indeed. The maze in general was tough, but it was Gogmurt that was the real killer. Lulu's defeat of him was impressive; forcing herself into the thorns, willingly taking damage to block his escape, readying an action to cast defensively if he tried to flee, launching an ear-piercing scream from directly beside him, succeeding at the defensive casting while also successfully dazing Gogmurt with the spell, which allowed Atali and Uriel to beat him down to low enough hp for Lulu to claw what remained of his consciousness out of him before he could respond.
Ha, a player had to leave early last session, so we called it a day after a 5 hour play session, but the fight has been left with one defeated Bunyip, an almost defeated Cougar in one round (it was on 2hp, so ran off to Gogmurt, who the PC's don't know about) and two of the party members (Tristan the Half-Elf Rogue/Magus and Ajax the Knife Master Kukri Rogue) on 13hp and 8hp with only one Cure Moderate Wounds potion left.
So, we're all around the same part of the campaign.
You write well Gluttony. Your telling of this great adventure has been entertaining. I look forward to more post.
I too really like how the different campaigns progress. The subtle differences here and there add flavor, and enrich my own recollection of events when I ran this part of the adventure. My party had trouble with the Bunyip too. But Gogmurt was easier for them. Sometimes its just a roll of a die here and there that can make a difference.
Thanks all (Hugs to Malag). It's nice to hear from people who are reading, so I'll keep writing these adventures up as we progress (including one new update today).
Part 5: Orik
The group managed to evade detection until late the next morning, at which point Uriel and Lulu had already managed to revive everyone from the majority of the damage from the night before (albeit using up all their healing magic in the process). It wasn't until they were set to head back to Thistletop that a goblin search party stumbled upon them and attacked in a fury, but Uriel stood at the front and took blow after blow, dodging strikes and deflecting blades with armour and shield alike! He cut down the goblins one after the other so quickly that only two of the half-dozen were left among the other three adventurers. Zaru finished off one, and Lulu used magic to daze her kill for Atali to finish, rather than land the final blow herself, as she knew Atali would prefer not to be the only one to kill no opponents in a battle.
The group traveled through the hedge maze again (which was primarily empty, as the Thistletop goblins didn't have enough numbers to restock its guard until the other goblin tribes arrived), and this time made it far enough to find the bridge to Thistletop itself. Except that they promptly decided that a frontal assault was a horrible idea, and ignored the bridge (being unaware that it was trapped, and only avoiding that trap by sheer luck).
They all backtracked and cut stealthily across the water, avoiding the watching eyes of the gambling and sleeping goblins on guard duty, and they discovered an entrance halfway up the rock on Thistletop's right side. Zaru quickly scaled it with his impeccable racial climbing skills, and had just enough time to secure a rope before he was attacked by tentacles from above! Unfortunately the next one coming up the ladder was Lulu, and she was little help in close combat, so by the time Atali, and Uriel had made it up the rope, Lulu was off the floor, gripped in the tentacled monster's clutches!
The group managed to shoot it down, those who couldn't reach attacking the monster's stinger whenever it lowered the appendage to attack with. Fortunately they were able to defeat it before Lulu sustainted significant damage, and so they pressed onwards, wandering randomly and coming across a grouping of five small rooms, which unbeknownst to them, contained the sleeping quarters of Nualia herself, as well as her four most-powerful henchmen!
The first of these doors that they opened led to the room of one Orik Vancaskerkin, and he and the group engaged in a violent skirmish that left Atali unconscious and Uriel nearly-so! Orik was forced to surrender by Zaru though, and offered his aid to the group if they agreed to spare his life. They took him up on that offer and he was healed by Lulu, effectively joining the team (if only temporarily).
Upon emerging from Orik's room though, the group discovered that they had been heard, as Tsuto himself was emerging from his own room to find out who was talking! As a sign of his good will Orik stepped to the from of the group, while Zaru rolled past Tsuto, surrounding him in the narrow hallway! The two, assisted by Lulu's spells, easily defeated the man they'd had so much trouble with before, and locked him (bound and gagged) in Orik's room while Atali used her prestidigitation magic to erase all signs of struggle in the hallway by giving it a good cleaning.
With that done, Orik explained the likely location of the Bugbear Bruthazmus, who the PCs found and defeated, and the group then entered Nualia's chapel through its back door. The two Yeth Hounds inside proved terrifying to the group, causing Orik to cower behind the altar and Uriel to flee in fear back towards the cave entrance they'd come in though! By the time the hounds were defeated at the blades of Atali, their baying had raised an alarm to practically every resident of the island! Fortunately though, the group managed to flee undetected back to Orik's room, Uriel joining them as he came to his senses.
Orik proved an exceptional liar thanks to some pre-emptive advice from Lulu, and he convinced Nualia entirely that he knew nothing about any of the intruders. He lied so well that she decided not to have his room searched at all, and the heroes were able to hide out inside their enemies' very own stronghold, undetected, for a restless night of recovery...
Again, great stuff. My party also sneaked in by the back door too. But they found the stairs to the lower level. They bound and gagged Lyrie. Then the party went down and defeated Nualia before facing the rest of Thistletop's foes. Lyrie managed to free herself with a little feline help, and alert the rest of Thistletop. Bruthazmus and some Goblins went down to encounter the party. But the party was holding up in Nualia's study with the trapped hallway making a good defense. They defeated Bruthazmus there. None of the of the other Goblins were brave enough to venture down. When the party came back up, Ripnugget and the remaing Gobkins were waiting. A big battle ensued, but the party found help from Orik to win the day. They captured Lyrie again and was about to execute her, but Orik plead for her life. The party reluctantly agreed to spare Lyrie's life. They gave some of the silver found to Orik. Orik and Lyrie left to venture on their own. In the third book, Orik and Lyrie has met up with the party again, and is now adventuring with them. Lyrie is writing the party's history in an effort to regain favor among the Pathfinders.
I really enjoy reading about all the twist and turns different parties take. Again, I look forward to reading more of your adventures.
My players will being doing the Glassworks next session and I am super excited to run the Tsuto encounter, I really hope mine goes better than that >_<. Flurry with sneak attack beckons to me.
My guys actually came 1 point away from the perception roll needed to find the BACK-back-door (the underwater one I mean). That would have been an interesting twist I think. Though I'm glad for them they didn't. They wouldn't have been ready to fight multiple shadows at 3rd or 4th level.
The shadows are doable at 4th level. There is something far worse for your party to deal with lurking below. ;)
I haven't looked at the AE version of this encounter, since my party is past this. I am curious if it is still a very tough encounter.
EDIT: I just checked. Yes. It is still a very tough encounter. I look forward to hearing your reports.
Depends on the party for shadows. None of the casters are very damage-focused (Lulu mostly harasses, Atali mostly gives herself minor buffs, and Zaru doesn't have particularly useful spells for that situation), and none of the PCs have magic weapons. Any incorporeal creatures would likely have proved all-but invincible against what this particular party had available at 4th level.)
I see. Yes without magic weapons, Shadows are tough for sure. You are so right, it is good they failed their Perception check. Hopefully, your party will soon be better equipped. Maybe they will miss the other encounter all together. It is not essential. But it can be a lot of fun.
Little chance of that. They're thorough explorers. :P
Anyways. They actually leveled up pretty much right when they breached Thistletop (XP for avoiding the trapped bridge by finding the backdoor pushed them over the level up mark). It didn't count immediately though, as I didn't want to stop and level up mid-game. So their new levels took effect after resting in Orik's room.
Uriel - Male LG Aasimar Paladin (of Iomedae) 2/Bard (Arcane Duelist) 2
Lulu - Female CN Gnomeborn Changeling Witch 4
Atali "Inkskin" Saar - Female CN Human Barbarian (Titan Mauler) 2/Sorcerer (Wildblooded Tattooed Sorcerer, Pit-Touched Bloodline) 2
Zaru - Male CG Vanara Inquisitor (of Sun Wukong)(Sin Eater) 1/Monk (Martial Artist) 1/Fighter 1/Ninja 1
Orik Vancaskerkin - Male CN Human Fighter 4 (Guest PC played by a visiting player)
Part 6: Thistletop Pileup
The group set out from Orik's room with Thisletop on high alert for attacks from outside, and so were easily able to take most guards by surprise, defeating all the enemies they could find, even the wizard Lyrie, with little effort and before an alarm could be raised. They then moved deeper into the dungeon, leaving the goblins above clueless of their whereabouts.
In the level below, Zaru accidentally triggered a dangerous trap, but fortunately managed to leap out of its path before it could harm him. The noise of the trap's activation did alert Nualia in the room just beyond though, and when the group chose her door, she was ready to face them. The baying of her yeth hound pet sent Zaru and Atali fleeing through the dungeon in terror, Zaru upstairs and Atali through a thusfar unopened door to the south, and towards another unopened door (which unbeknownst to any of them, led to a room filled with undead shadows) Lulu was forced to follow Atali and stop her, doing so after several failed attempts through other means by placing the barbarian under the effects of her slumber hex, which fortunately lasted for the remaining duration of her terror.
Orik fought the yeth hound and Uriel fought Nualia, and the two together eventually managed to kill the hound and force Nualia to attempt to escape. Nualia almost managed to do so, filling the room with fog and dodging blades as she ran out of the room, but she stumbled as she tried to jump over the trap Zaru had triggered earlier. Nualia was cut to pieces by her own last line of defense as the group watched in horror!
Zaru meanwhile, had managed to flee upstairs in a winding path that took him right through the goblin fortress above, and into the throne room of chief Ripnugget himself! Ripnugget attempted to Coax Zaru towards diplomacy, but the vanara didn't fall for it, and managed to single-handedly fight and defeat a number of Ripnugget's own minions before he was forced to make a slow retreat. Fortunately the rest of the group had finished with Nualia and woken Atali by the time Zaru was retreating back towards the southern stairs that he'd taken up to this floor, and they met up at the landing, establishing a defensive position in the front hall while Ripnugget rallied every goblin within earshot for battle.
The fight against Ripnugget and the Thistletop goblinss was long and arduous. Lulu and Uriel were both knocked unconscious at points (each being healed back to consciousness by the other), Zaru took heavy damage, and Atali nearly died of fatigue as she ran out of energy to fight with her normal fury. The whole team was on-edge as a result, even after the battle's completion and Atali's recovery.
What few goblins remained fled Thistletop that night, taking their goblin dogs with them while the heroes rested and recovered. In the morning, the fortress seemed empty. All that was left was to explore the few remaining unexplored rooms of the basement, and uncover the meaning behind a certain piece of goblin artwork...
That sounded like quite the session. At least your party should be better equipped to handle what is to come.
Poor Lyrie. She was not much of a challenge. I had her to surrender to the party when they found her room. The party did take her stuff. Nice stuff too, and very usable down below. I have big plans for Lyrie in my campaign.
It is cool to see how it works out differently with different groups. I like how you allowed Orik to be run by a guest player. I often try to have an NPC with the party, though they were on their own through the Skinsaw Murders.
I look forward to your next session where Shadows and a powerful evil lurk below.
I like seeing how they turn out as well! I have a while before we start this campaign. I'm getting plenty of good ideas of how the world will react to the heroes.
Just curious, as our group hasn't done a lot of multiclassing, how have your players felt about their multiclasses? Are they feeling in line with those with one class?
@Mazra: A 4th level wizard with no allies and no room to maneuver does not make for the most difficult encounter. *nods*
Our group backed Lyrie into a corner, beat her unconscious in about 2 rounds, with her only attempt to cast a spell resulting in a natural 1 on her concentration concentration check to cast defensively, the result being that her spell fizzled and she was counted as though she'd tried to cast it normally, thus provoking attacks from Uriel, Atali, and Orik.
After she was knocked out, they tied her up, healed her back to consciousness, and then Lulu charmed her into telling them how to get further downstairs (thus revealing the room's secret door, which they had failed to find by themselves).
If any NPC in my campaign deserves NobodysHome's Silver Tsuto Award so far, it's Lyrie (although Nualia stumbling into her own trap and dying from it was pretty bad too...).
@CaroRose: They're fairly content with their own multiclass and the multiclass of others. Orik's power attacks definitely outshine the others in terms of flat damage, but he's a single-classed fighter so that's kind of expected. He can't do much else other than damage. And Lulu is playing as a support caster mostly. She boosts he allies and harasses enemies for them to take down more easily, rather than do it herself. As such she doesn't really stand out over the others.
Zaru's class combo is wild though, and I'm truly shocked that it's actually been working decently. As a whole, this group seems to like to multiclass a lot.
(Looking over their future plans; Uriel will be incredibly effective, Atali will be interesting, and might actually successfully pull off dual-wielding barbarian sorcerer, and I can't really predict what'll happen with Zaru. I've never seen a PC progress even remotely like he's doing, so I don't know how it'll turn out.)
Lyrie definitely should have won the Silver Tsuto Award in my campaign. (Good job NobodysHome for coming up with that one.) She was captured not once, but twice by the party. And then, was literally on the chopping block before Orik pulled a Pocohontas to save Lyrie's life. With the situation evolving I took to heart the line in the AP about Orik being infatuated with Lyrie. So Lyrie had the worst possible day that ended, without her fully realizing, to be the best break of her lonely cold and miserable life.
Orik has proven to be a faithful companion for Lyrie, protecting her with his own life. In return Lyrie's cold heart has began a very slow process of thawing a bit. She recognizes that Orik is useful. And after weeks together, she is actually beginning to care a little for Orik. In DMs terms, I have moved Lyrie's alignment from CE to CN with evil tendencies.
I am glad to hear Gluttony that Lyrie survived the encounter at Thistletop. She is a fascinating NPC. It didn't hurt that the new artwork for her was nothing short of stunning, and the same for her miniature in the RotR set. I am glad to be able to use both Lyrie's and Orik's miniatures in my campaign now since we are well past Burnt Offerings.
(The PCs hit 5th level from the huge battle of Thistletop, but I'll post the details of their level advancements later.)
Part X: The one that was retconned away
The group, emboldened by their success, pushed forwards into the rest of Thistletop's dungeon after handling issues in Sandpoint in the aftermath of the previous fight. They entered the room that Atali had nearly made it into and discovered a secret door there, but were attacked by undead shadows as they found the door. 18 seconds later, all of the heroes were dead.
I blame this one on the adventure, and the placement of the shadows so early in it to be honest. I sort of saw it coming that (aside from in Carrion Crown) my players aren't usually ready for incorporeal undead so early in an adventure. Especially multiple ones that attack an ability score and hit with touch attacks. I probably should have adjusted it beforehand (Something to add to my things changed topic I suppose).
Yeah, that was one *ugly* room. I had to fudge it slightly -- the bard only missed his PER roll to see them by 2 (their Stealth rolls vs. 4th or 5th level characters are obscene, but he rolled really well), so I told him he might have seen some movement out of the corner of his eye.
I probably still would have killed the entire party if it weren't for the paladin deciding to Detect Evil on each sarcophagus in turn. I figured, "That's a good, shadowy hiding place, and if the shadow is right on top of one, it'll ping, so I'll give some tiny chance like 1 or 2 in 20 that the shadow was stupid enough to be there."
Before I'd even decided what the shadows' 'luck roll' was, the first shadow rolled a straight-up 1, and I used it as an excuse to have the Detect Evil ping.
Bad, bad room. Sorry it got your party! I just don't know what they were thinking -- my party's entire incorporeal 'arsenal' is a single +1 longsword and the sorcerer, but he would have been dead FAST in that room.
EDIT: Raesh's player informs me that my 'fudge' wasn't necessary, because she'd been planning on Detecting Evil in the room anyway. Just wants to keep her reputation pure. What a paladin! ;-)
The PCs' 5th level advancements (in which Zaru finally takes his 2nd level of something):
Uriel - Male LG Aasimar Paladin (of Iomedae) 2/Bard (Arcane Duelist) 3
Lulu - Female CN Gnomeborn Changeling Witch 5
Atali "Inkskin" Saar - Female CN Human Barbarian (Titan Mauler) 2/Sorcerer (Wildblooded Tattooed Sorcerer, Pit-Touched Bloodline) 3
Zaru - Male CG Vanara Inquisitor (of Sun Wukong)(Sin Eater) 1/Monk (Martial Artist) 1/Fighter 1/Ninja 2
Part 7: Shadows
The group, emboldened by their success, pushed forwards into the rest of Thistletop's dungeon after handling issues in Sandpoint in the aftermath of the previous fight. They entered the room that Atali had nearly made it into and discovered a secret door there, but were attacked by undead shadows as they found the door. The battle was grueling and all four felt their strength sap away, nearly to the point of death. In the end Lulu just barely managed to turn things around with a powerful bolt of lighting which destroyed two of the three shadows, and the group heaped what normally would have been healing magic onto the remaining monster, just barely finishing it off in time to end the battle without any of their own dying.
They were forced to retreat back upstairs after that, despite it having been their first and only battle that day, and they spent a fair number of days recovering, during which time the gobling fortress above had begun to undergo refurbishing by workers hired from Sandpoint. It would be several days before the group would even think to return to the dungeons beneath their new budding stronghold, and when that day came, other trouble had already begun to arise...
You know your party. You were very concerned about the Shadows, and rightfully so. My party had a Cleric played by an experienced player. The Shadow were tough, but they were able to overcome.
There are so many memorable events in this AP. I look forward to read about the next adventure.
Part 9: Murder Most Foul
The heroes returned to Sandpoint to more-quickly completie their recovery, which was aided thanks to free healing from the elderly healer Koya Mvashti, a friend of Ameiko who the bartender had convinced to patch the group up at no charge as a favour. The group then began selling what treasure they had recovered from the dungeon, and looking to buy supplies for the exploration of the final few rooms of Thistletop, but were interrupted by an offer from Sheriff Hemlock of dinner, and important matters. The group agreed to let Hemlock take them to dinner, and before too long they were gathered in the Rusty Dragon’s back room, learning that while they were away, a murderer had begun to play. Two citizens, Banny Harker and Katrine Vinder, had been found gruesomely murdered by the morning workers of the Sandpoint lumber mill, and Hemlock was hoping that the heroes would help him in his investigation. The sheriff provided an intriguing touch of incentive for them too, a note with Atali’s name scribed in blood that read:
“You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to the pack, and it shall all end.”
The note was unsigned, but it got the group asking questions, and when they learned that one of the two victims was Shayliss Vinder’s sister they had almost no choice but to give in to Atali’s requests for them to comply and investigate. Allying themselves with Hemlock, the group split into three groups to tackle different aspects of the investigation simultaneously.
The first group consisted of Uriel and Lulu, who interviewed the man who found the bodies. They coaxed secret knowledge out of their interviewee, one Ibor Thron, of the deceased Banny Harker’s affair with the deceased Katrine Vinder, as well as Banny’s embezzlement scheme and Thorn’s suspicion of the noble Scarnetti family, owners of the mill. Thorn claimed the Scarnetti were they type who “Probably wouldn’t be above muder, if it was in their own interests.” Thorn couldn’t come up with an answer when Lulu inquired about the gruesome style of the murder, and why it would have been done in the way it was if it was truly done by the Scarnetti. Ibor maintained his stance on Scarnetti guilt however.
The second group consisted of Zaru and Sheriff Hemlock himself, who travelled to the scene of the murder to investigate the hard evidence. Zaru found tracks that the guards hadn’t, suggested searching across the river where Hemlock located a spot that provided a perfect view for observing the mill, and perhaps most importantly of all, he recognized the rune carved onto Banny Harker’s body as one he’d seen on a medallion that the group had retrieved from Nualia’s remains in her trap at Thistletop. The group had already sold the medallion itself, but Zaru suggested that it might still be in town. Hemlock quickly responded by giving a queasy-looking guard a break from corpse duty, and sending the man to the Feathered Serpent (a shop of magical goods where the group had sold the medallion) to either confiscate the item as evidence, or learn of its fate in the event that it had already been sold. The one clue Zaru failed to decipher was an axe, found at the scene of the crime and rancid with rotten flesh and the stench of bad meat. Zaru didn’t have the faintest clue what the smell was (aside from that it was disgusting) but realized he was likely overlooking something obvious, and suggested that Hemlock preserve the axe as best as possible for the others to examine later.
The third and final group consisted of Atali alone, and she quickly made her way to the Vinder household. With Katrine dead, and Ven in prison (for attacking sheriff Hemlock in a fury at the news of his daughter’s death) the big house felt very empty. Ven’s wife Solsta Vinder quietly welcomed Atali in, and spoke quietly to her, saying that she’d become worried about the recent actions of her still-living daughter in the aftermath of Katrine’s horrible fate. Solsta was unable to coherently explain Shayliss’ recent “actions”, so Atali went to see for herself. What she found was the young women in the midst of a terrible infernal ritual, a sight that Atali realized looked terribly incriminating at first glance. Atali had feelings for Shayliss though, and chose to speak with her rather than jump to conclusions. It was thanks to this patience that she learned of Shayliss’ intentions. The woman had recently developed the same diabolic powers as Atali, and upon the death of her sister had snapped. The ritual Atali had found Shayliss in the midst of was an attempt to use her new powers to attract the attention of a devil to deal with, and Shayliss had vowed she would make the one who broke her family get the punishment they deserved at any cost (she didn’t like her sister much, but had never wanted to see her dead), even if that cost was her own soul. In the end however, Atali was able to talk Shayliss down, outright threatening her in order to break her will to continue the ritual. Shayliss eventually gave in and broke down into a sobbing wreck to be comforted by her mother, and Atali promised her that she would need no devil, for the barbarian would deal out vengeance for her lover’s sister personally.
When the group reunited, Uriel and Lulu had various thoughts and theories to report to the sheriff. Atali had nothing to report, save that she’d found nothing amiss at the Vinder household.
Shayliss = Total awesomeness!
You'll see my party's take in a couple of days (takes me 5-6 hours to write up the summary, then they each take a couple of hours to do edits), but the similarities and differences are still really fun to read.
We're still a bit ahead of you, but this weekend's game promises to be fairly short (out to a nice restaurant for dinner and then a game from maybe 8-12, depending on how much the group imbibes), so you'll pass us soon enough!
(At which point I'll have to tell my players to stop reading your thread. I kept talking about it, and I know that at least 2 of the 3 of them are reading. I told them I'd keep tabs and let them know once you got ahead or revealed anything I didn't want them to know... but they've already Id'ed the murderer(s) and they're heading out to capture him/her/them/it, so I worry more about the spoilers in my thread -- the paladin deduced a LOT. Gave her bonus XP for figuring out practically the entire plotline in one two-minute monologue, so you definitely don't want your players anywhere near my thread this week.)
@mln84: No problem, thanks for reading!
@Nobodyshome: If your group's only at or around where your campaign log currently is, then we're actually already past you all (we're well-into Skinsaw Murders at this point, with the murderer(s) having already been dealt with). It's just that sometimes Uriel's player is a bit slow on responding to the posts I send out to her (and the others) for review, so I can't get them up here at the quickest rate.
Today's post included a guest NPC. Talathel Andosana (Male LN Elven Alchemist 1) is a Jade Regent PC played by one of my roommates in another campaign I'm running, and she agreed to play him as a minor NPC in this one, working on expanding on her character's backstory in the process.
Incidentally, NobodysHome: I believe this one hits on something rather major your players don't know about yet (see: the 3rd-last paragraph), so you may wish to advise them to stay away at this point.
Part 10: Tea and Dumplings
It took Uriel next to no time to identify the flesh on the suspicious axe that Hemlock had saved as being from undead, specifically ghast flesh. However though undead were a pressing issue, the heroes had two more things to look into for their investigation before research into ghasts could be done. The rune carved onto Harker’s body was one, and visiting an asylum was another.
First of all, they needed to research the rune. Hemlock’s man had recovered the medallion, but aside from that it was certainly the same image, they had no idea what it was. Zaru and Atali visited The Curious Goblin, a local bookstore, hoping to finds tomes of research and runes. At the same time, Uriel and Lulu visited Sandpoint’s temple to Irori, a place known as the House of Blue Stones. The two nearly failed to talk their way through the doors, but managed it thanks to the timely arrival of one of the house’s worshippers to Irori, an elven alchemist named Talathel Andosana, Shalelu Andosana’s younger brother. Thanks to Lulu’s friendship with Shalelu, Talathel was willing and able to provide the extra bit of convincing that the temple’s owner Sabyl Sorn needed to allow the two inside.
Meanwhile, the Curious Goblin was proving a subpar source of research material. It did however, provide Atali and Zaru with a new lead. The scholar Brodert Quink happened to be browsing the bookstore at the same time as them, and was curious to know what two of Sandpoint’s heroes were doing looking through old tomes. Atali brushed him off, thinking to keep the investigation secret as Hemlock had expected, but Zaru thought to ask the wizened-looking old man if he happened to know much of magic and history, or of any scholars who might. Quink revealed in response that he himself was an accomplished scholar, and Zaru asked if they could have a discussion somewhere more private than the bookstore. This was how Zaru and Atali ended up having tea with Brodert Quink in the Old Light, a ruined lighthouse on the coast-edge of Sandpoint that Quink lived in, and suspected was once a massive siege weapon of some sort.
Through their investigation, and with the help of Sabyl and Talathel, Uriel and Lulu learned of the uses of the medallion, which they now knew was known as a Sihedron Medallion. The medallion provided powerful effects, but also a potential danger. It was susceptible to acting as a conduit, through which a powerful spellcaster might puppet the body of one who wore the item. With this knowledge they called for the town guard to bring Hemlock to the House of Blue Stones, where they explained the danger over dumplings eaten on the building’s front steps. The two requested that Hemlock lock the medallion away, to ensure nobody risked wearing the thing. Hemlock agreed, and allowed the group to keep the gold they’d earned from the sale of the medallion in the first place, since its dangerous power had not been their fault.
Zaru and Atali meanwhile, learned of Thassilon. Thassilon was once a vast empire ruled by powerful wizards, but it was long-gone by now, and most had forgotten of it. Quink had learnd bits and pieces of Thassilonian lore from relics and old stories, but his knowledge, and the knowledge of Thassilonian scholars as a whole, was still severely lacking. Quink hypothesized that the empire had fallen 10,000 years in the past, and was able to identify the rune as a Sihedron, a seven-pointed star symbolizing the seven virtues of Thassilonian leadership. However, Quink theorized that the corruption of Thassilon’s rulers likely gave birth to the seven mortal sins.
Atali put forth the opinion that the murderer might be a fanatical scholar of some sort, based on the ancient rune carved into the victim. Brodert was rather confused by her slip of the tongue, and in the end the two were forced to reveal the investigation to the old sage, requesting that he keep it quiet. Quink was excited to be of help, and so he agreed. He was also eager to point out that while Atali’s point was a good one, he of course, was innocent.
Lulu got a modified 41 on her Knowledge (Arcana) check. As a 5th level character she got that much! I wouldn't have dreamed of revealing the medallion's possession power normally, but with a result that high I felt like it'd be in bad taste to deny her even the slightest bit of information about it.
20 on the die
That's just Brodert being Brodert. :P
Part 11: The Asylum of Monsters
Two days ago, a patrol of sheriff Hemlock’s guards were attacked by a man that was identified as obviously sick and insane, a local thug named Grayst Sevilla. Near Sevilla, the guards found the murdered bodies of Tarch Mortwell, Lener Hask, and Gedwyn Tabe, a trio of local conmen. Records from Ameiko’s “help wanted” board at the Rusty Dragon revealed that Sevilla had answered an ad to act as a bodyguard for the three conmen on the night before the murder. Grayst’s raving insanity, plus a strange note, which was signed “-Your Lordship”, that Hemlock had found on the bodies had already convinced the sheriff that the thug couldn’t have been responsible for such an intricate, detailed murder (especially now that there’d been a second one while Sevilla was locked up), but the heroes felt it best to be thorough and paid the coach fare to be escorted out of town to Sevilla’s new address, namely the Saintly Haven of Respite, better known locally as Habe’s Sanatorium.
With the aid of a note from sheriff Hemlock, the group, with Uriel as their face and Lulu and Zaru contributing to the conversation (Atali had little to say) were able to talk their way into an interview with Grayst Sevilla himself! Grayst had little but mad ravings for them however, until Atali entered his room to suggest to the others that his words were pointless. It was at that moment that Grayst’s eyes grew wide and the man first spoke coherently. He spoke of a master, who had left with him a message for Atali:
“He said that if you came to his Misgivings, that if you joined his Pack, he would end his harvest in your honor.”
Uriel knew the meaning of the words. The Misgivings was the local name for Foxglove manor, owned by Aldern Foxglove, whose infatuation with Atali the group had forgotten about entirely ever since her relationship with Shayliss began. Now though it made sense to them, and they knew who the likely culprit was, though they still clung to the hope that the friendly Aldern was not to blame. Perhaps there was another Foxglove responsible, or someone else entirely?
Speculation was cut short however by Grayst’s attacking, and though he was subdued quickly, Erin Habe, the owner of the asylum was shaken and panicked. Habe fled downstairs, opening a cell door on his way despite the group’s attempts to assure him all was well. In response, Lulu pursued Habe while Atali and Uriel struggled to force the wererat patient Habe had released back into his room, and Zaru attended to the wounds of the dying Sevilla.
Downstairs, Lulu caught up with Habe just in time for the man to sic his two fiendish orderlies, a pair of tiefling brothers, on her. The witch subdued one brother, and Habe himself with magic, putting both to sleep for a short time, but the other brother resisted. Fortunately Lulu deflected his sword off her claws, which were hard as wood (even more so than the rest of her unnaturally tough skin) and Zaru arrived downstairs in time to force the second brother to flee to his bedroom with magic.
Just when the battle seemed to have been avoided however, a small troop of zombies spilled from the basement, followed by a wrinkled old necromancer, all of whom attacked the heroes on sight! In the battle that followed the heroes were scattered by horrible nauseating vapours that the old necromancer summoned into the main workroom of the place, where the battle was fought. Atali and Uriel managed to stave off the vapours initially, long enough to destroy a zombie each and rush out of the gas before it affected them. Lulu sought refuge in a corner next to Habe that had managed to stay just out of the magical cloud’s radius, and Zaru was forced to flee back towards the stairs for a breath of fresh air. The fight then proceeded slowly, with the sleeping tiefling waking up (and the sleeping Habe doing the same, only to find himself tied up by Lulu). When the necromancer’s cloud dispersed, the tide of battle changed, and his remaining zombie and tiefling ally were defeated by Zaru and Uriel while Atali ran to aid the cornered Lulu, who was being attacked by the fourth zombie. She didn’t even arrive quickly enough to defeat the undead monster though, as Lulu screamed for Uriel to get out of her line of fire, and ran the zombie and its master through with a surge of lightning the moment she had a clear shot! The last zombie was destroyed by the blast, and the necromancer, defeated!
Once a quick search made it clear how unethical the practices of Erin Habe and his workers (as well as their basement tenant) were, the group decided it was best to drag Erin Habe, the necromancer Caizarlu Zerren, and the tielfling Gurnak back to Sandpoint for trial, and the asylum’s four patients back to be moved to a place that would provide better treatment and care. The other tiefling, Gurnak’s brother Gortus, escaped in the confusion of the fight with Caizarlu, but that was the least of the group’s concerns. The necromancer’s spellbook contained numerous notes on Thassilon, including sketches of the Sihedron rune, which despite the man’s claims of being purely coincidental, threw doubts onto the heroes’ theory that Aldern Foxglove might be the murderer they sought.
When the group returned to Sandpoint, one more problem awaited them; sheriff Hemlock had left!