I have to start this thread because it's been quite an interesting experience running an evil party through Carrion Crown. Their actions and motivations have been so different from those of the other parties here, that I wanted to share them. First off, let me preface this by saying that we did experience quite a bit of turnover in ToTB, due to the air elemental at Schloss Caramarc killing off half the original party. Currently the party is just approaching the Stairs of the Moon in book 3.
The party as it stands includes this:
Roknar - Chaotic Evil Half-Orc Barbarian: Easily the most evil member of the group, he is your prototypical orc savage. Raised within an orc tribe, he killed his father to assume leadership of the tribe, but with his youth and inexperience they were slaughtered by a rival tribe and he barely escaped with his life. He believes in survival of the fittest, might makes right, and so far has killed quite a few NPCs, along with raping a green hag and two werewolves to prove his dominance over them, along with killing one of the werewolf pack leaders and proclaiming himself Packlord (no, he's not a werewolf, but with intelligence of 6, he might not be aware that is necessary).
Lawful Evil Elven Evoker: Not as savagely evil, he is simply ruthless. He's in it for only one reason, personal power and knowledge. Currently researching both golem creation and the history (and magic) of the Runelords, he's devoted to the arcane arts more than anything else.
Sticks - Neutral Evil Gnome Sorcerer: She is less evil, and more capricious. A sensate at heart, all she cares about is new experiences, both wonderful and vile. Has an excerbated case of ADD, she would be far more terrifying if she could focus on anything for longer than a minute or so.
Lawful-Evil Dwarven Priest of Greed: He worships the almighty gold piece, and is constantly exhorting his companions to follow his worship and donate to the church. Beyond talking in a nigh-incomprehensible (bad) Scottish brogue, he's actually a good guy until his streak of greed comes to the surface.
Mina - Lawful Good (Chaotic Evil) Summoner: This one is interesting. She's the summoner that merges with their eidolon (too lazy to look up the name right now), and is a 9 year old girl, that gets possessed by a demon when threatened with danger. It's a flavor take on the summoner class and has been interesting, because the PC is so terrifying in combat that the other PCs have taken to worshiping "Jenny" (as the 9 year old calls her 'imaginary friend'). There is a story twist in place that the girl will find out at the Stairs of the Moon (once the PC's undergo the ritual)that the Demon has been keeping her from aging and she is truly 29 years old, but has been possessed and stifled by the demon for the last 10 years. She will get to confront the demon and if successful will return as a woman of 29 and a paladin of Desna.
Aiden - Neutral Human Fighter (archer build): The only non-evil member of the group, he's taken to crying himself to sleep on some nights; particularly when Roknar is in one of his moods.
Dead PC's include a CE half-elven ranger, NE human summoner, a LE dhampir Oracle and a NE human Witch.
CC1: This one was the easiest to motivate the PC's with, as they all had background reasons to get involved with the Professor's death. Additionally, the Witch was intrigued by the Whispering Way and determined to make contact with them to plunder their secrets on necromancy. The only real differences here was that the group slaughtered the mob out of hand when they were confronted at the graveyard, had no use for any of the townsfolk except Kendra, and let the townhall burn down, while they laughed at the burning, inbred backcountry hick townsolk. Ironically, they had great sympathy for the ghost, because both the witch and the oracle were heavily into necromancy and went out of their way to cultivate a good relationship with her.
CC2: This is where things started to go wrong. It began just fine; Roknar loved meeting up with the carnies, because he finally found some real-women (ended up seducing the pinhead sisters), which kept his bloodshed at a minimum... at first. However, at the point of investigating the Beast, the PC's started to have problems. Roknar originally wanted to free the Beast so he could challenge him to single combat, but when the Beast started crying about the dead girl, Roknar quickly decided that he should be burned for being a weakling, and attempted to convince the rest of the party to let him burn. Luckily, they had lots of platinum reasons not to do that, which worked for a time.
While investigating the murders, the witch nearly started killing merchants because of the idiotic way they did business in town. Trying to track down the owner of the surgeons' tools irritated him to no small end (you make the tools, then instead of selling them you put them on auction for someone to buy to sell them to the surgeon that actually needs them?! He nearly killed all the merchants involved, simply out of the desire to stop the stupidity at the root source.). Additionally, they killed their guide after he made one too many annoying comments, tossing a flask of alchemist's fire at him and telling him to 'catch it'. Eventually they did prove the Beast's innocence, however reluctantly, though not before the witch ended up falling face first into a bear trap and the ranger got killed by Brother Swarm (which made that fight particularly nasty as she ended up coming back as a wraith mid-fight).
Finally, Schloss Caromarc served as one giant loot-haul at this point. Already irritated at the Beasts' creator for having started all this trouble, they then blamed him for the trolls inhabiting the castle as well, and proceeded to strip the place of anything of value. The evoker mass memorized Shrink Item, and even took doors and other bulky items while Raknor ate all his food while the dwarven priest drank his wine collection and smoked his tobacco. In the end, they didn't bother controlling the Beast, as the orc refused to let a weakling fight his battles. The Air Elemental was a bigger threat than the Aberrant Promethean and they cut him down in just a couple rounds. They did let Count Caromarc live, after shaking him down for as much as they could, threatening him with blackmail.
CC3: At this point, Raknor is the only living member of the original party, but the newcomers have other reasons for wanting the Whispering Way dead. Some just want to get paid, while others want their knowledge or just to settle old debts. We may lose Raknor at this point, as the PC is quickly becoming obsessed with ruling all the werewolf packs by killing and eating the pack leaders' hearts. Other than that, damage has been fairly minimal, as Sticks is heavily enchantment based, and prefers trickery and subterfuge to violence. When some of the PCs have instigated violent confrontation as a solution, she has no hesitance to back up her viewpoints with carefully worded suggestions and charm persons.
Interesting. The Mina/Jenny character is very interesting, but problematic. How on earth has the Mina half of that pair been getting along with the party?
1) Desna is Chaotic Good, and therefore does not have paladins. Unless you're hand-waving the alignment-within-one-step-of-deity's requirement for your campaign, which you well might for story reasons.
2) Speaking of Desna ... the ritual at the Stairs of the Moon is a problem.
First, the ritual requires the PCs to sanctify the area, doesn't it? That doesn't sound like your party's style. What will you do if they re-dedicate the temple to an evil deity? What if they decide to make it the first Temple of Jenny, spattered with the sacrificial blood of all the guests in the nearby lodge? What if they pack it full of wood and turn it into a gigantic bonfire?
Second, even if they go to the trouble of cleaning the place up, why would Desna answer them? As a goddess, she would easily be aware that the ritual's celebrants had blackened souls. I suppose she might answer Mina, but it would be weird if she deigned to favor the others with an audience.
3) If Mina is successful in fighting off her demon and becoming a paladin, would she not be morally obligated to kill all her companions for their repeated acts of villainy? I can't see a paladin being okay with the mass murder, rape, and grand larceny they've gotten up to. Would the PC become an NPC dedicated to hunting the party down, and the player roll up a new PC? Or would there be a big in-party fight in which at least one PC dies? That there is a recipe for strife in the group.
1) Basically we're going to have her become a Paladin of Freedom. Same essential abilities, but with a Chaotic Good alignment, with the belief that all people should have the basic rights of freedom and to choose their destiny. That's been discussed already with the player in an aside, because she's the one that approached me with the idea of a class change.
2) You're right, the ritual is problematic, but the Evoker has had a close relationship with Mina, as he's been trying to awaken her potential. Additionally he has an arcane interest in the ritual and he's the one that actually pieced together that it can be activated. He plans to send the party off on a distraction while he activates the ritual itself. Though he's evil, he hasn't actually done anything vulgar in and of itself. To be honest, most of the group has just been selfish more than anything, only Raknor is thoroughly beyond redemption. I'm planning on having any of the other PC's have a chance for an alignment shift if they participate in the re-consecration of the temple. If they refuse then they'll be violently cast out of the communion.
3) This is a big potential issue down the road. Because she's a 9 year old girl when 'Jenny' isn't around, both the Evoker and the Sorcerer have become very protective of her. Whenever something vile has gone down, they've either distracted her, or the Sorcerer wipes her memory (with that 6 second memory-wipe spell). So she's unaware (to date) of the true nature of some of her companions. The real issue, is like always, with Raknor. He sees 'Jenny' as Mina's orc blood trying to break free, and is determined to tutor Mina in the ways of the orc. He's consistently trying to get her to follow in his footsteps and is consistently arguing with his companions who try to shield her. But yes, there is a recipe for strife with the group, and it may end up with at least one PC death. Luckily, our gaming group has been intact for the last 10 years, and we take that sort of thing rather well (Last campaign was an Eberron Pathfinder conversion and my insane CN Barbarian was left on the plane of Xoriat by his 'friends' because they considered him too much of a threat to the world if they let him return).
Okay, good that you've thought about these things.
This has caught my interest, so I'm just going to list off all the possible outcomes I can think of for the confrontation between Jenny and Mina.
1) Mina kills Jenny. She becomes a paladin, triggering all of the problems that would bring in an evil party.
2) Jenny kills Mina. Having done so, Jenny no longer has any tie to the material plane, and therefore cannot manifest. Player makes a new PC.
3) The contest of wills shatters Mina's personality; either Jenny is now in charge, or Mina has been thoroughly corrupted. Mina's alignment shifts to Chaotic Evil. Player can continue with the same PC, but the character loses the internal conflict that makes her so interesting.
4) Mina severs the link between herself and Jenny. Mina becomes a paladin; Jenny becomes an unfettered eidolon (as per Bestiary 3, but based of Jenny's stats). Player has the option to play Jenny full time in the evil party, while Mina can make occasional cameos as a recurring heroine.
5) Stalemate. Mina and Jenny battle one another till they both drop without resolving anything. Player can continue playing the PC as-is, but Mina is likely to now be aware that Jenny is not her friend after all, with interesting role play possibilities.
6) Balance. Mina and Jenny fight it out, but in the process learn that they are inextricably linked, and have to work out a détente:
- Both Jenny and Mina shift alignment to True Neutral.
This would require a rebuild of both Mina (1/2 Cavalier, 1/2 Summoner) and Jenny to reflect the smaller pool of build points. The Horse Master feat from UC might reasonably be applied here to let Jenny keep her existing total of build points, but if her existing form is not suitable as a mount she'd probably still need some adjustment.
The player would also need an order. Order of the Cockatrice would suit the party well, or you and the player could work together to come up with a new order.
Do keep us posted, this seems interesting.
I'm glad that you've taken an interest in it, and I'll definitely post updates as they occur. Hopefully we'll get to a conclusion within the next 1-2 weeks, if our group can finish it without too many interruptions.
I do really like some of the suggestions you've put up there though, for more endings than just the original two that we lined out. I'm going to bear those in mind when we have the solo scene and if it goes down one of those alternate paths, we can see where that leads us.
Whatever happens, it's going to be interesting for the party dynamic. I'm looking forward to the next 2-3 sessions to see how things unfold for the group as a whole.
The campaign had a very interesting start to it, mostly because the party despised all the villagers so much for their suspicion and their superstition. Considering there was a necromancy-heavy witch, the half-orc and an oracle of bones in the first party... they right away clashed with the villagers. They immediately dove straight into the prison, because they were more interested in the undead than the living.
The half-orc has been hilarious to play with. Not to make light of his actions, but listening to him painstakingly explain to a nine year old girl, the importance of eating the heart of your fallen enemies, has had the group in stitches at times. Bear in mind, this was before they even reached the Shudderwood; he has been eating the heart of worthy foes since the beginning. When he found out that's how werewolves determined rank, he became absolutely obsessed with becoming Packlord.
His relationship with Mina has been likewise an interesting one. He originally wanted to sell her into slavery, until he saw her turn into 'Jenny', and since that time is determined that she must be an orc, because she can kill so effectively. He's no protective of her and is nurturing her 'orc blood'. For Mina's part, shielded from the worst of his excesses, she's become an efficient manipulator. The girl has a 15 intelligence while Raknor's is a 6, so she's done quite a bit to redirect his natural bloodlust. One example is that when he gets bored of all the 'talky talky' and wants to kill s%*~, she convinces him to go outside and play with her imaginary friends (i.e; summon monster summoner ability). She used that quite extensively in Ascanor Lodge to keep him from brutalizing Madame Ivanja and her call girl.
Did you tone down the Abberant Promeathean? Because as written, it pretty much kills one PC a round when it full attack and grabs then constricts on the second attack.
No, the half-orc barbarian had enough hit points to survive being grabbed and constricted. Additionally, he has a bite attack that averages 30+ damage a round when it's his primary attack (since he couldn't use his axe). So after he got grabbed, the party healers focused on keeping him healed, and there was a bit of trickeration used as well. The evoker ended up casting grease on the half-orc, which royally screwed over the APs ability to keep him grappled. Since the path wrote the AP as continually attacking the closest target, I wasn't able to switch to the evoker (as would have been the most intelligent thing to so, as he could be one-shot), but kept attacking the half-orc, who had wisely thrown himself at the AP immediately.
While his attention was on the half-orc, the synthesist basically tore him into pieces. Her fire damage didn't matter for the DR, and with so many attacks a round, it was just a matter of time before the thing hit the ground. The combat took 3 rounds, and was over well before I thought it would be.
An interesting party. Definitely refreshing to see an evil group that isn't just wandering around killing everything including each other. Most evil parties (or the "We're not evil! Chaotic Neutral isn't evil!" mass-murdering hobo parties) tend towards breaking the adventure and killing all the useful PCs.
I would say that if the Orc player is thinking of changing to werewolf packlord, well, I think eating the hearts of werewolves has a good chance of infecting him with Lycanthropy. Then you can use the big event at the Stairs to upgrade him from afflicted to natural/native/whatever because of all the magic swirling around. Then the Orc can retire from PC and become the NPC werewolf packlord.
You could have the big bad werewolf from book 6 show up and beat him to a bloodstain for daring to usurp his betters. Again, with the PC's approval
As for the Promethean. Magical fire doesn't hurt flesh golems; it slows them, so the AP would have had only a single standard action a round (though with his Quickness ability, he could still move, just not full attack). Fire from the Eidolon's Energy Attacks evolution would still work (as it is supernatural), but not flaming weapons or amulets of mighty fist.
My party also destroyed the promethean without the Beast or any party deaths, but they used Lantern Archons (mobile laser platorms), fire, and an almost-dead druid.
I wouildn't mind him becoming packlord. I already told him that I might have to run a post-CC "Kill Bill" game, where all the children he's sired on the women he raped join together and hunt him down for vengeance. That's if he survives until the end, that is (Though to be fair, he's a tough one to kill. Well over 100 hp at level 7, the ability to heal while raging, and Superstition have made him a tough SOB to bring down, especially with healing backup).
We had this discussion at the table when the fire damage hit. The conclusion was that magical fire spells and spell effects don't hurt flesh golems, they just slow them. But the flaming ability is not a magical spell or spell effect, and just like Alchemists fire, would be able to affect the flesh golem, since he doesn't actually have fire resistance or immunity. It was a 30 minute discussion right in the middle of combat (our group always breaks for rules discussions), but that was the mutual resolution at the end of it.
I'm kind of scared to ask, but what became of Kendra Lorrimor?
Nothing too untoward actually. All of them had tie-ins to Professor Lorrimor, particularly the Oracle of Bones dhampir and the Necromancy-heavy witch. Their backstory was kind of interesting actually. The oracle and witch grew up as friends, the oracle often had to protect his friends from being bullied and assaulted as kids (the witch had a low strength and con score, a frail and sickly kid). The oracle's family however was cursedm, so that when a family member died, it would turn into an undead mockery of life and attach itself to the closest surviving kin and the curse had followed them for generations. In the process of attempting to help remove the curse through necromancy, the witch's magic was horribly twisted and he turned his friend into a dhampir. That's where they met Professor Lorrimor; he was helping them research a cure for the oracle's half-undead state.
All of this meant that they were quite well-disposed towards Kendra; indeed the oracle of bones had struck up the beginnings of a romance with her, before his untimely demise.
1) i stayed away from this post, per DM's request (initially). i've only looked at this now that he's told us it was ok to do so.
i (was) am the original witch. he actually had a very (relatively?) high (16) con, but died to a bear trap at fairly low levels (nothing he was designed to do worked [dice rolls are a b@&+@] so i "suicided" by taking a face plant into a bear trap) and came back as a fey sorcerer. the witch had an abysmal str (6), but a good con (16), as all the beatings he took over the year toughened him up.
2) the sorceress's name is stix. get it straight!
3) the group dynamic is one of the most interesting i've ever played in. i don't know that i would classify my (gnome) sorcereress as evil, but i can see how someone else might. her primary concern is alleviating her boredom (so as to avoid the paling), so all she really cares about is new experiences, regardless of how morally reprehensible they may be (she's a hedonist to the core, and anything that could be deemed entertaining is fair game). she has no desire to cause pain to anyone, but if they die in an entertaining fashion, she's all for it (s+$!'s and giggles, and all that).
basically, if she laughs in the process, why not?
By the Paling you mean the Bleaching, am I right?
I'm surprised of how that's actually come up with a Gnome character for once.
Also, glad to hear you guys are having fun. I nearly cried tears of joy after Kingmaker yesterday because the group told me why we've been playing twice per weekend instead of only once so far. They've apparently just had that much fun so far playing while I've been the DM. I just hope I can keep the quality all the way from Rivers Run Red to Sound of a Thousand Screams or whatever the last book was called, since I heard the quality drops considerably around Blood for Blood and War of the River Kings.
yes, i suppose i did mean "bleaching." i was typing from memory. i'd say the two are fairly synonymous with one another from a conceptual standpoint, but you are most certainly correct in terms of logistical accuracy (ya, i'm that guy).
also, and i don't say this lightly (been playing for roughly 24 years (started at about 8, now 32), this is one of the most interesting games i've ever played in.
today's session is, hands down, one of the most memorable i've experienced to date.
I find your opinion interesting, despite not agreeing with it.
You guys keep up the good work, though. I have a daring plan to MAYBE establish a diplomatic line with the DM I walked away from.
I'm the Elven Evoker (named Mardenu) and just like Stix, he's only evil by certain standards. He's certainly willing to sacrafice others for his own gain, but only if that's the absolute last resort. He did stay behind to help Mina when others deserted her, and has even put himself into real danger to ensure others survive. However, he is all about himself and the goals he has (of attaining immortality and Knowledge of the Runelords, among other things).
His personal investment in the other members of the group grows as he travels with them, and friends are friends even to most "bad" people. He has no problem, however, in killing innocents, children, etc if it seems as if that's the only way to get what he wants.
So yeah, he's probably Lawful Evil, but not in the manner of Thay Wizards or Palpatine...okay maybe a little like Palpatine.
As you can see, our party moved past the showdown at the Stairs of the Moon, so I gave my players permission to look at the thread I've been writing here, no longer fearing the spoilers in store for them.
So the party tore through the Stairs of the Moon fairly easily. The Vilthraxis(s?) was unfortunate enough to possess Stix, and thus possessed truly pathetic physical stats for its attack. It tried repeatedly to jump to a proper melee target, but could not manage it and only dealt limited damage before being killed. The canopic stone was found and destroyed.
Outside of this fight, the werewolves didn't pose much threat, as Raknar and Jenny were more than enough to rip through them easily enough. I beefed up the end encounter by adding 2 invisible 4th level ranger werewolves that were flanking Mathus. Even with that help however, he was a disappointingly easy kill, though it was done in epic fashion. The party managed to convince the druid that Mathus was in league with the Whispering Way, and she turned on him. Mardenu then proceeded to force punch Mathus off the observatory, where he fell 150 feet. Though he survived the fall, Raknar yelled that he wanted Mathus' heart, so he leapt off after him. I forced an acrobatics check to leap off accurately, and then an attack roll with a -5 penalty, but he managed to hit both and cleaved Mathus in twain.
He then proceeded to eat Mathus' heart, was inflicted with lycanthropy and claimed the title of Packlord of the Shudderwood. Cybrisa, having watched him just leap off the tower and cleave Mathus in two, was not exactly in a position to challenge him. Mardenu, meanwhile, used Raknar's distraction to convince the rest of the party to cleanse the tower so that he might cast the ritual to commune with Desna. Instead of going with the proscribed book encounter, I personalized it to each of them; culminating of course in the Mina/Jenny face off.
Stix was embraced by Desna, who encouraged her sense of wonderment, askisng only that the little woodland sorceress sing songs to Desna in the evening. After their conversation, that included answering many inane questions such as "what do colors taste like" Stix encountered the proscribed visions within the module.
Raknar as well had a vision of Desna, where the goddess talked to Raknar about being a werewolf. She bargained with him, to exclude her worshippers and those falling within her portfolio from his predations. In return she would give him control over his shapeshifting, making him an amalgam of an inflicted shifter with control over his shifting. Raknar was so overwhelmed by Desna, that he later vowed to make her his mate. In addition to now aspiring to godhood, Raknar is trying to reign in his bloodlust so that she might not be offended by him. Of course due to his limited comprehension abilities, Raknar believes that now she can only see him at night, and so he's going to be Chaotic Good at night, while being Chaotic Evil during the rest of the day; though he will hold to his bargain with her at all times.
Finally, Desna informed Mina about her situation, and restored Mina to her natural form. Mina then confronted Jenny, who stepped through the portal in all her demonic glory. While Jenny tried to convince Mina that she had only protected Mina, and that Mina should accept her and that they could come to an understanding together, Mina was hearing nothing of it. Mina tried to convince Jenny to leave peacefully (but horribly failed her diplomacy roll), and so we ended the campaign with the two about to face off for dominance. Due to the RP, assuming that Mina defeats Jenny, she will return to the party now as a Holy Champion (re: CG paladin) of Desna.
It's certainly an interesting change for the party. Our once carefree band of greedy, self-absorbed, bloothirsty power hungry adventurers seems to be taking a... well if not a turn towards good, at least towards neutrality (except for Mina who has certainly become a champion of good). The party dynamics seem to be shifting in a major way, and I'm interested to see how it's going to play out in the weeks to come.
Raknar was so overwhelmed by Desna, that he later vowed to make her his mate.
That sounds like a really well developed character, in that the player always knows what the character would do.
So, is Raknar going to stay in the Packwood lording it over the werewolves then, or is he going to continue on with the party?
Looking forward to hearing about the Mina/Jenny fight.
Raknar was torn. He was leaning towards staying, but his player wanted to continue playing him, and the party didn't want to lose him either. Luckily the scene with Desna provided a way out without breaking character. I forgot to mention that in order for Raknar to understand the importance of Desna's request, she granted him a smattering of knowledge about the things sacred to her. Mechanically speaking, he picked up one free rank in knowledge (religion). Knowing how important travelling and exploration, he refused the mantle of pack leadership so that he might pursue his burgeoning (in his mind at least) relationship with Desna.
So, the adventuring has picked up once more, with the battle between Mina and Jenny. It was hectic for a moment, because while Mina was a paladin and in a straight battle should likely be more than a match for her demonic counterpart, Jenny has one advantage that Mina lacks: wings. So Jenny began combat by casting Evolution Surge and turning Large, while taking to the air. Mina responded by buffing herself as well and activating her divine bond to turn one side of her dual-scimitar into a holy weapon (Mina's paladin build is a dual-wielding, high charisma build). We realized at that point that with reach and flight, there was every possibility that Mina was doomed, as Jenny could attack her and never get hit. However, fate intervened as Jenny horrifically failed her Fly check to hover, and plummeted to the ground, falling prone in front of Mina. So the fight ended in spectacular fashion as she got hit with a full attack smite evil by Mina, and thus Mina was reborn as a Holy Champion of Desna (re: CG Paladin).
And thus the party continued on, with a slightly different makeup. Changed by their encounters with Desna, the party alignment has steadily shifted a bit more towards Good. The dwarven priest was shown to be a priest of Desna that had corrupted her religion from freedom and travel to freedom through wealth. Desna had a rather stern talking to with her priest during the commune spell and he has had some (hilarious) dialogues where he has been trying to break his avaricious nature (have you ever heard a horrible scottish brogue accented dwarf start crying when he donates to charity? It's hilarious, let me assure you). Stix hasn't changed much, the capricious fey creature remaining much her usual self, nor has Mardenu (invoker) or Aiden (archer) undergone much change. Raknar's changes we already covered, so while I wouldn't consider them a good party, they are shifting away from the vile evil that they began as.
After the defeat of Jenny by Mina, and her assumption of her true self, the party left the Stairs of the Moon behind, in pursuit of the Whispering Way. They ran into the Prince's Wolves, and easily allied themselves with the wolves. Raknar has repeatedly called them the Princess Wolves, however, and has demanded on repeated occasions that they submit to him as all princesses should do to their orcish overlords. That could have caused issues, but the fact that Raknar did just cleave the last Packlord claimant in half with his axe and devoured his heart, did give them pause for reflection. So they received badges of the Prince's Wolves and set out for Feldgrau.
The encounter with the Hangman Tree was ridiculous, as Mardenu's insanely high knowledges identified the tree from a distance, and they amused themselves with slowly burning it to death while walking backwards and laughing at its 10' movement speed.
Within Feldgrau itself, they had a few encounters with the cultists and their undead minions, but none of it taxed them too hard. The fight with the Demon Wolves however, would be something else entirely. They ran into Duristan, however while they distrusted him, they did follow him back to his 'mercenaries' at the mill. They were incredibly suspicious however, as their conversation with the Prince's Wolves at the dyers shop had indicated that this is where the Demon Wolves were located. Mardenu snuck into the Mill invisible, while Aiden and Raknar distracted Duristan. While the guards at the lower level seemed legit, when he climbed the ladder and spotted the form of the Demon Wolves' packleader, that was a different story entirely. He went back outside before he could be detected (via the hybrid's scent ability), and gave Duristan one chance to come clean. Duristan finally failed his bluff check, and Mardenu responded with a Wall of Lightning (having the ability to change elemental damage types) that zapped Duristan and the Demon Wolves within the mill. Being an invoker, that wall hit like a truck, and the Wolves retreated, leaving Duristan to his fate.
The party followed the retreating wolves to the second floor,via an invisibility sphere followed up with a Dimension Door to bring the party to the second floor, completely invisible. From there, combat ensued, and much havoc was wreaked. One half of Mina's dual-scimitar was destroyed by the Blackguards Improved Sunder ability, and both Mina and Raknar were nearly killed through repeated Great Cleaves by the mooks, and full attacks by the Blackguard. Raknar's Superstition worked against him as he saved against Gimmelot's healing attempts, and he was at death's door by the end of the encounter. Still, the party prevailed despite this being the most precarious position they'd been in since nearly getting wiped by the air elemental back in Schloss Caromarc.
So, any more updates on this? It seems pretty likely that eventually there's going to be a confrontation between Mina and Raknar.
@Tinalles: Sadly that now seems less likely as the player of Mina is going to miss sessions until the new year because of her new job. So she's going to be temporarily written out of the story until her player can come back full time. But on to the updates.
Though nearly spent after the battle with the Demon Wolves, the party wasn't quite ready to rest yet. First, Marden (the evoker) decided to deal with the two clerics and their growing army of skeletons in the town square. This was handily accomplished via an (acid) ice storm cast from 200 feet in the air, which easily destroyed the skeletons and made retreat difficult for the pair of clerics. While one of them dispelled his fly spell, Raknar raced across the ice-strewn ground with his newly completed boots of speed (crafted by Marden who only slightly overcharged his somewhat less intelligent counterpart for them). Raknar finished off one of the clerics, while the other fell to Aiden's arrows, a far more complete victory than the hard-fought one against the Demon Wolves. On the way out, the unconscious Duristan was casually decapitated, after the party weighed his actions and decided he was, in fact, a dick. Mina actually was the one to do the executing after she talked with Marden about the nature of werewolves and viewed the fact that he accepted his feral nature and not only didn't fight the evil, but tried to join a demonic group of werewolves to be condemnation of the man.
On their way back to a rendezvous with the Prince's Wolves, the group stopped off at the glassblower's shop for a bit of looting and slaughtering of undead. Unfortunately, their attempts at stealth was stopped when Raknar knocked on the door and called out "Hello! Everything in this shop belongs to us, so you better get out before we come in to take it." Upon opening the door, he took two readied action searing rays to the face, along with readied attacks from the two menadron festrogs waiting by the door (I replaced the skeletons with menadron festrogs because... well the skeletons are barely more than speed bumps). Additionally, since rogue 3/wizard 3 is a terrible idea as it was written, I increased the power of the wizards by letting them have ranks in their 'wizards guild' which I figured the Whispering Way qualifies as. That way their spells and caster level don't suffer from taking 3 levels of rogue. Raknar's reaction to being crit with a searing ray and bit, fed on and tripped by the menadron festrogs, was to immediately shut the door in front of him before standing up. The remainder of the fight was short, but intense, as the cultists picked off the party members with ray spells, but were tied down by web and glitterdust, while arrows rained down on them. Their sole remaining bodyguard was removed through a create pit and after that the end was nigh.
Finally spent, the party went back to the Prince's Wolves for a night of rest. Here, Mina said that she would lead the Prince's Wolves to dispatch the remaining cultists, while the party tackled Auren Vrood holed up in the tower. Done for two reasons, the first, well she feels more comfortable with the pack of werewolves than with her party, and more importantly, because the player is going to miss the next month or so of gaming. Aiden spent the night seducing one of the Prince's Wolves for a bit of a nighttime romp. Reinvigorated the next morning, the party set out to deal with Vrood once and for all.
You would have thought that the party would have learned its lesson about arguing in front of doors, but no. Raknar, the parties elected door-opener, showed a bit of hesitation in opening this door, after the last one left him burned, bit and tripped in short order. Gimmelot questioned Raknar's manhood, which nearly led to a brawl, but the dwarven priest instead opened the door and stepped through, yelling "see laddie? It's that easy." Raknar then shut the door behind him and waited to hear screams. They argued some more through the door, giving Vrood all that much more time to prep himself, before finally stepping through as a party. Gimmelot led the way once more, through the curtain in search of Vrood... who was waiting with a circle of death. As a dwarven cleric, Gimmelot laughed off the spell, easily saving against it. Aiden however, was not so fortunate, and he crumpled up in a heap. The party didn't have time to mourn the loss of the archer, as they were set upon by Vrood and his minions (replacing the skeleton archers with another festrog, and actually making use of Vrood's Craft Wand and Improved Familiar feats, by having his familiar equipped with a small array of wands to use in combat). Still, the undead minions were neatly disposed of by a wall of fire that encircled them. Vrood took to the air with his homonculous in tow, firing off enervation rays from his wand. And that's where we ended things, as the gaming shop was closing and we couldn't finish the fight.
Sounds like you're moving at a pretty good clip. Pity about Mina's player missing a month.
Keep us posted!
So the party continues to get less and less evil. The new PC joining (replacing the fallen Aiden) is a Paladin in service to Iomedae, who's squadron of soldiers was wiped out on patrol by the Whispering Way and their undead minions (so convenient!). Oathbound to take vengeance upon them and to wipe out the cult of undead, he's willing to overlook some of the less than savory natures of his newfound party, in order to defeat the Whispering Way. Still, he's already had clashes with Raknar, though he's also done a good job at reigning in Raknar's more savage nature.
So the party continued on their way to Thrushmoor, encountering a Night Hag (random encounters ftw). Because it was another hag encounter, I made her connected to the trio of hags that Raknar destroyed (raping and killing one, while driving off the other). The night hag came for vengeance and began riding Raknar, draining his Con. Their newfound paladin friend had a solution for that; lying in wait for the hag, while Gimmelot casted Ghostbane Dirge. He managed to crit with his Falchion on his first smite evil attack and nearly obliterated her right then and there (105 damage, 4 away from a one-shot). She fled and decided that vengeance would not be had so easily (can you say repeat nemesis?).
Finally they arrived in Thrushmoor, asking around for the Dark Riders and encountering the stablemaster/assassin. Raknar upset his plans by simply lifting the entire wagon into the air (rolled a 20 on his strength check, and had a 32 strength), so the attack wasn't nearly as effective as it could have been. Particularly because they all attacked Raknar, and he happened to be immune to flanking, spoiling all those lovely sneak attack dice. Gathering more information (with only threats of death this time), they were able to pursue the rider to Illmarsh. Arriving there, they decided they absolutely detested the place and all the people in it, but struck a deal with the mayor to investigate the kidnappings.
Sadly, they decided to bypass the church first, in place of going directly to the Undemiode House, so I'm going to have to ad-lib a bit with the remaining priests, but that's alright. They left off having obliterated the Marsh Giant and discovering the phase door within the standing stone there. It was a fun session, but there was a surprising lack of depradation and acts of random violence. Still, the entire town may be in danger if the party actually learns the whole truth about the Dagon worshipping and pacts with the skum. Should be fun...
The party picked up another new member, Arcee, a half-savage tribal half-elf barbarian fighter, a tribal protector who's tribe was wiped out by the Whispering Way in their pursuit of their current agenda (and need to bolster their undead forces). Of a more neutral outlook, she despises arcane casters and necromancy in particular.
Current Party Makeup:
The party has taken a slight shift towards good, though really they're more of a ruthless neutral than anything else. The paladin once again reigned in the more overt evil acts that Stix and Raknar are prone towards doing, Stix out of capriciousness and Raknar from sheer cruelty. I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen with this group when they reach the moral grey areas presented in the fifth installment of the AP.
Continuing their search of Undemiode House, the party encountered the trio of priests holed up in the bottom floor. They quickly dispatched the outmanned clerics, but the entire adventure session was nearly derailed at the discovery of the human baby that the priests had. After the paladin vehemently stepped on Stix's and Raknar's various suggestions (drowning the baby so that it wouldn't suffer, taking it to sell into slavery, etc...), they convinced him that they couldn't return to town and let whoever else was here in the house escape. So, after jury-rigging a knapsack to carry the baby in, the paladin took possession of her while they continued into the house. This was soon shown to be a horrible decision when the very next encounter was with the incredibly nasty tick swarm...
The swarm was made even worse, when Raknar was one of only 2 party members that noticed the ticks within the bedding, and his response was to slam his axe into them, shouting "Stupid bugs." Luckily for the baby, the other person to notice was Gimmelot, the cleric, and he completely walled the paladin off from the swarm with a timely Wall of Stone. The fight that ensued was probably one of the nastiest encountered to date. While no one died, both Arcee and Raknar nearly did, and this could have been close to a TPK, were it not for the timely fireballs by Mardenu, backed up by the electric explosion of his Improved Familiar (a wand using Inevitable).
After the fight, another discussion was had (after healing and Restoration spells were cast). Obviously the baby could not be kept with the party, the tick swarm would have been instant death were it not for an ingenious use of Wall of Stone. The solution was... very different. Mardenu cast Feather Fall and used a scroll of Water Breathing on the baby, and then they dropped the baby in the well for safekeeping. Moving on, they went upstairs and immediately encountered the head priest of the church of Dagon. After a brief, but somewhat frantic battle with the priest (and the ensuing spawning canker), we ended the session with back to back crits from Raknar's axe putting it down in short order.