Unbind; Emancipate; Make Subtle War

Game Master GozrehTime

Marshal mind and matter. Recover stolen occult lore as you discover strange truths both personal and cosmic.

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In this adventure, you will assume the role of a secret enforcer for the Ascetic Order of Bliss in Bitterness, a cult of psychic adepts dedicated to the improvement of body and mind. You are either a high-ranking member of this organization or an outsider with a reputation for impeccable discretion. As such, you have been selected for a delicate task which, if what you've been told is true, will protect not only the Ascetics' deeper secrets, but also the safety of an entire region's populace.

This adventure is for BeoPere.

The Ascetic Order of Bliss in Bitterness

Exoterically regarded as a commune of benign eccentrics, the Order bears a (self-imposed) mantle as protectors of deleterious occult lore. Believing that knowledge is intrinsically important, the Order attempts to disseminate that information which can be put to benignant ends while preserving, under close guard, recondite information which might prove dangerous in the hands of the public. Instead of destroying this information, the Order's doctrine holds that today's apocalyptic revelation may be tomorrow's salvation, wherefore dangerous data are preserved for posterity; further, history reveals that, just as a skilled medic fashions antidotes from fatal venom, so laying bare the causes of atrocity and disaster may illuminate the solution thereto.

The Ascetic Order of Bliss in Bitterness consists of rigidly hierarchical, absolutely self-sufficient communes united under the rule of a remote, clandestine council. It is not commonly known who has a voice in this council or what, if any, internal structure governs it. Decisions about what texts and artifacts should be kept where are conveyed via sending and other forms of long-range communique, often encoded. It is believed that the council members may themselves conduct their abstruse functions via semi-constant psychic contact.

Some exposition: Matthias, having proven himself a capable and trustworthy hero, has earned the respect of the Ascetic Order of Bliss in Bitterness. One of their colleges in particular, located in a lovely glade near the town of Silverfall, and several days' ride from the former Khazadorn lands, has called upon him on more than one occasion in the past. At this college, there are several talented adepts, versed in occult lore and spellcasting, who have developed a means of remote communication reliant on locational symmetry. There is a circle fashioned of a particular kind of stone, abundant in that region, with which the adepts are able to emit simple ethereal emanations over long distances. They can contact any person to whom they have given a peculiar item: a small trinket fashioned of the same stone as their ritual circle, inscribed with a rune which the adepts invoke to contact the particular person.

It is with just such a communique, the glowing of the rune-adorned stone, that Matthias's aid is requested at the college. How does he respond?

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias notices the the rune stone glowing as he finishes his morning stew of vegetables, a few dried meats, and just one or two stones tossed in for flavor. He listen to the communication attentively.

He glances over to Bathos and says, "It seems the Silverfall college has something interesting going on. What do you think?"

After being answered by some rather large eager licks he says "Aye me too. Our business here can wait. Let's head out today"

Matthas breaks camp. Leaves some farewell messages for his friends in the, previously, Khazadorn lands and heads to Silverfall.

It is four days' ride to Silverfall along a relatively safe road. Shortly after departing, you see your first fellow travelers: a convoy of wagons accompanied by robed and veiled humanoids, most of whom wield curved blades. The wagons are traveling in the same direction as you and moving slowly (much slower than you if you are mounted, and less even than your marching pace if not). The caravan is long and dispersed; even as night falls, you still see wagons both ahead of you and behind you. How do you plan to spend your nights on the trail?

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias' last few days have been spent alone.

It's always good to hear what rumors are about

He glances at Bathos looking for his tell-tale response to any disturbing auras. Assuming Bathos is calm, he approaches the caravan without subtlety.

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist


HP: 64 (18 non-lethal damage),
AC:22 FF:16, T:16Saves:12,12,9 DR:6
Perception:12, SM:9

He also considers what he might know of their distinctive robes and blades... before approaching

Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18. Capped at 10.

Does Matthias wear any badge of office from his time as StrorBaek? Does he bear insignia or rewards for past acts of heroism? I get the impression he wouldn't, but I'd like to know for certain :).

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

He wears none. Someone with moderate knowledge of dwarven culture who studied his scars/tattoos would be able to infer the highlights of his backstory hehe.

Bathos is calm; seems to sense no malice.

Knowledge (local):
It seems to be a caravan of merchants. You've seen people dressed and armed in this fashion from time to time on the main roads; they come from the steppes and deserts far to the west. In your previous interactions, such traders have proven polite, but curt and business-minded.

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias approaches them in a friendly manner.

"Greetings! Are you heading way of Silverfall? I'd be glad to have some company and offer my services to your caravan on the road"

Bathos trails behind. Large and powerful, but tail and body language projecting calm.

In slightly accented, lilting, musical Common, the man responds:

"Indeed, you may travel with us, stranger. We are happy to trade our wares if you are of a fair and honest mind. If it is as a sword arm that you offer your services, we would be glad of a guardian to ride before us. I am Solefil; may I ask whom I address?"

"It is a great and seeming mighty beast that travels with you. Tell me, is this your companion tame?"

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias greets the man warmly, sizing him and his fellows up.

"I am Matthias, and my companion is Bathos. Indeed he is tame. And though I don't favor the sword, I do have strength with which to offer you. Tell me, what have you heard of in recent news concerning Silverfall?"

Bathos glares at Matthias at being called "tame". He knows how much that irks Bathos.

"Then peace be to you, Matthias, and peace to you, Bathos. I see you bear no weapon. I have heard tell that there is a monastery in Silverfall, one where bodies are trained under great asperity and hands become deadlier than blades. Are you of those monastics who call themselves the Ascetic Order of Bliss in Bitterness?

"Of news in Silverfall, I know little. It is a regular journey that we make to these lands, buying and selling wares. There are honest men and fine goods in this city. We value the honesty and the fineness.

"If you care to stand guard, you might take this coin. If you ride vigilantly to the front of the column and keep a wary eye for danger, you will meet our premier. Seeing this coin with the mark of Solefil, she will reward you for your service."

I already like Bathos's personality (caninity?).

Solefil is also sizing you up for deception throughout this process, so please roll if you are bluffing :). To expedite, I'll also roll Bluff for him (even though he's totally telling the truth) in case you want to size him up.

Solefil's Sense Motive:
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19

Solefil's Bluff:
Bluff: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (17) + 0 = 17

No peeking!

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12.

"I'm not a full member of the order, but I respect many of their ideals and sometimes pursue their business, which I do now. I seek the very monastery of which you speak."

Before accepting the coin Matthias glances at Bathos.

Matthias sighs inwardly. Haven't enough years passed that you can give up this paranoia?

Matthias takes the coin, providing Bathos doesn't care. "I shall seek her out now. What is her name? Will I find her easily?"

After hearing Solefil's response, "Thank you Solefil. Stay well."

Matthias journeys onward with Bathos, seeking the premier.

I'd allow Bathos to do the old "Bluff to convey secret messages" thing with Matthias. Seems like he'd be able to rock some Sense Motive and give general impressions to Matthias; INT 6 and a strong bond are enough for that.

Solefil seems honest enough to you.

"Premier Moltenen is at the front of the column. We'll be stopping soon to make camp for the night; I believe you will be able to find her before she retires. You will recognize her carriage with ease. Well met, Matthias. May you go well and, for both our sakes, unmolested."

Assuming you continue along the column, you observe the wagons pulling away from the road, drawing into circles alongside the trail. A fire is made in the middle of each such circle.

The sinking sun gilds the wagon-flaps' canvas edges. Men and women go to work establishing camp, producing food and drink and the occasional musical instrument. The discipline of the day relaxed, they speak freely in Common and at least one other tongue. What languages does Matthias know?

Thus you proceed, Bathos loping beside you. Roll Perception.

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Common, Dwarvish, Terran, Undercommon, Aklo. Also another opportunity to roll perception for me or spoiler a DC! Sorry if that sounds nagging :(

Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32

Matthias travels the column enjoying the atmosphere of the caravan but keeping his senses (extremely!) sharp.

After hearing how worried Solefil was about the dangers of the road, Matthias takes a moment to recall the how dangerous the area is and what those dangers might be.

Did I meet the caravan near the Khazadorn lands? I think he'd be fairly knowledgeable.

Not nagging! It's useful to be reminded. I think we'll develop a good flow this way. Feel free to let me know when I could be more efficient :).

You pick up snatches of the conversation spoken in Common, but not the other language.

Linguistics DC 10 to Identify:
The language is Ignan.

With your extremely sharp senses, you hear shouting and splashing off the right side of the road, seeming to come from the other side of a hill.

Knowledge (geography) or (local) DC 10:
There's a river in that direction.

You can make this Knowledge (local) check untrained if that applies; this is near Khazadorn lands, so you're from around here :).

Knowledge (local) DC 10:
The main road leading to Silverfall is not particularly perilous, but you recall a few tales of dangerous wildlife.

Knowledge (local) DC 15:
You particularly recall encountering aggressive hippopotamoi and mastodons in the area. Very occasionally, magical beasts from the forest or aberrations from the Underdark can be encountered, but this is a rarity and usually the result of the creature becoming lost.

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Linguistics: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19

Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8

Regretfully, almost all of Matthias' experience was below ground and he cannot dredge up any memories of surface dangers. However, he makes a mental note to ask Premier Moltenen. Who's name makes a lot more sense now.

Good god do I want to read those spoilers lol. I didn't realize how scrumptious and tempting they were when I can't click them!!!!

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias' alerts Bathos and then other members of the caravan.

Quietly, "Bathos.. somethings up, be ready."

Loudly and urgently, "Men! There are signs of struggle coming from over the hill. I've just joined your caravan, will anyone investigate with me?"

Matthias' will wait a few moments to see if anyone will join him, then quickly investigate the sounds.

Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22

I assume Bathos heard the sounds as well.

Bathos is already alert as Matthias warns him. He bounds ahead, arcane sight and scent primed for information. He doesn't get too far ahead of Matthias who waits for others.

There is a wagon circle within earshot, and you see those who were already armed and standing guard snap to attention. Bathos's ears prick and his nose quivers, but he hears only the splashing and clangor you do; the wind is at your backs and little can be detected by scent.

When/If You Go Charging up the Hill ...:

... you see a river. There are great vessels of clay and stone strewn about, many shattered as though thrown down in consternation. A group of eight or so strong men and women, bearing the curved blades and dusky white robes of the caravan traders, are attempting to fend off a brace of adult hippopotamuses. Others, seemingly noncombatants, are beginning to flee, but others lie bleeding on the ground. With your ears still straining, you and Bathos hear the vexed screams of a man being borne downstream. Thin ribbons of red foam wash down the river as blood dribbles from the great beasts' jaws.

I seriously rolled for wind direction. One nice thing about PbP is I am already on my computer and can calculate arbitrarily complex random operations in Python!

Here is the situation. Place yourself as you like! You have four additional guards with you (and, of course, Bathos).

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Matthias desperately assesses the situation. It's a hard call to make.

Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26

Does it look like he can catch up to the man being borne down river?
If so:


Matthias charges downriver to help the man. He shouts behind him, "Drive them off! Don't engage if you don't have to! Just scare them and retreat!"

Matthias attempts to move earth to allow the man to grab on something and stop.

If he cannot catch the man easily:

He attacks the hippos!


Matthias shouts to a caravan guard, "You there, help the man down river, we shall handle the beasts!"

He gathers earthen power into his hands, forming it into a long jagged spear which he hurls with his right hand overhead into the northern hippo. He shouts, "Drive them off, but do not risk yourselves!"
Empowered earth blast attack: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25
Empowered earth blast damage: 4d6 + 15 ⇒ (2, 5, 1, 4) + 15 = 27*1.5 = 40 damage.

Bathos does not hesitate to asses like Matthias, instead he charges the northern hippo darting around the fleeing innocents and caravan guards swiftly.
Not actually charging
Bathos' bite attack: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (9) + 12 = 21
Bathos' bite damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12

If he hits:
Bathos' trip attempt: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (6) + 16 = 22

If the hippo is tripped Matthias will direct his attack southward

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist


HP:64 (18 nonlethal) AC:22, T:16, FF;16 Saves:12,12,9 DR:6
Perception:12, SM:9


HP:63, AC:20, T10,FF19 Saves:9,6,3

Initiative (GO AHEAD AND LOOK):

Riverside Guards: 24
Guards: 21
Bathos: 20
Fleeing: 18
Hippo: 14
Matthias: 13

Matthias takes a moment at the top of the hill, losing momentum as he considers whether he can save the man being swept away by the current. Bathos and the other caravan guards overtake him as he does so.

I'll resolve the turns of the guards, then you should move Bathos and have him take his turn.

Edited to make clear that this is simply why Initiative shook out as it did and minimize GM narration of PC action :).

The guards near the river complete their advance. As they charge, curving blades gleaming in the late evening light, the hippos lash out, each biting a single guard as the others attempt to cut their leather-tough flesh.

North Hippo AOO:

Bite: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 82d8 + 10 ⇒ (4, 5) + 10 = 19

The hippo lunges at one of the guards, but she nimbly dodges aside, allowing her momentum to bring the charge to a close with an upward swipe.

South Hippo AOO:

Bite: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 252d8 + 10 ⇒ (4, 5) + 10 = 19

The second hippo bellows mightily as its crushing jaws penetrate armor, closing down on the man's flank. He barely has time to choke forth blood and a scream as, worrying and wrenching, the hippopotamus drops his limp form into the shallows.

NPC Status (DM Only):

River Guard 1: -3 HP

The guards' charge:

Scimitar: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 231d6 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4

Swiping upward, the guard whom the northern hippo attacked slices the creature's forelimb.

Scimitar: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 131d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Scimitar: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 181d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Scimitar: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 211d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8

Beside her, one guard executes a two-handed slash which the hippo dodges, bringing its flank into range of the third and fourth guards, whose blows connect.

Scimitar: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 231d6 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9

The southern hippo suffers a single solid blow from one of the guards, as ...

Scimitar: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 91d6 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11
Scimitar: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 151d6 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11

his comrades, a panicked man and woman, swing their weapons with wild might, both falling wide of their mark.

NPC Status (DM ONLY):

River Guard 1: -3 HP
North Hippo: 40 HP
South Hippo: 50 HP

The guards who joined you have crested the hill. Acknowledging your obvious expertise, apparent in your every movement and in the quickness of your senses, they shout a request for orders. However, they do not slow, as they intend to join their comrades by the river.

If you want them to leave Bathos a charge lane, now's the time :).


HP:63, AC:20, T10,FF19 Saves:9,6,3
Perception:13 Initiative:+2

Bathos doesn't hesitate and charges the northern hippo.

Bathos' bite attack, charging: 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 12 + 2 = 29
Bathos' bite damage: 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16

If he hits:
Bathos' trip attempt: 1d20 + 16 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 16 + 2 = 25

The four guards shout assent and break into a run, forming a loose circle around their comrades near the southern beast. They begin to set themselves for combat in formation, speaking words of encouragement to their nervous fellows, who snap to and regain their forgotten discipline.

Bathos's turn. He's nimble, so he can easily leap over/past the people fleeing if he wants to charge.

The Guard Who Got a Shot in before Getting Bitten:

Scimitar: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 151d6 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9

This man's strike narrowly misses, but leaves his flank open for a terrible blow.

The northern hippo, despite its sturdy frame, is overturned by Bathos's furious assault. A deep gouge appears on its chest where the lupine jaws rend it.

NPC Status (DM ONLY):

River Guard 1: -3 HP
North Hippo: 24 HP
South Hippo: 50 HP

The hippos take their turns (as described above). The noncombatants flee over the hill. Matthias, it is your turn!

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist


HP:64 (18 nonlethal) AC:22, T:16, FF;16 Saves:12,12,9 DR:6
Perception:12, SM:9 Initiative:+10

Matthias begins to mentally berate himself for his slow reactions.

Time for that later, I need to act.

Matthias decides that every moment the beasts remain engaged with the soldiers more lives will be lost. The man being taken downriver must wait.

He charges forward, catching up to Bathos', and prepares to gather his power.

Matthias shouts to the southernmost guards, and perhaps the fleeing innocents, You there! Get down river and help that man! Be on the lookout for other creatures!"

The southernmost guards begin to shift their formation, leaving some in a defensive formation to cover the rear while the rest rush downstream.

Roll Diplomacy or Intimidate.

Beat a DC 12:

The fleeing innocents, their resolve steeled at the air of confident command in Matthias's voice, begin to turn back, some shouting to the rest of the caravan to bring tools. With their own guards and an accomplished hero protecting them from harm, they know they can safely commit themselves to the defense of their comrade.

Fail to Beat a DC 12:

The fleeing innocents hear Matthias's call to action, but, having seen the destruction the monstrous river horses can wreak, continue to retreat in terror.

So, Matthias has taken his turn. Top of the lineup! The southernmost guards withdraw from the hippos' jaws, while two of their comrades assume defensive positions to cover their escape. The wounded man lies still as his life's blood pours forth.

Those engaged with the other hippo attack with new resolve.

Scimitar: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 61d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Scimitar: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 141d6 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Scimitar: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 161d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Scimitar: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 191d6 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5

A single guard manages to land her blade at the hippopotamus's shoulder, leaving a wound that causes the creature to roar. The others' blades slip and glance off the terrible wet hide.

NPC Status (DM ONLY):

River Guard 1: -4 HP
North Hippo: 19 HP
South Hippo: 50 HP

Bathos is up!


HP:63, AC:20, T10,FF19 Saves:9,6,3
Perception:13 Initiative:+2

Recall the hippo is prone - if that helps our guard friends, as well as the hippos next attack

Bathos, seeing his adversary lose it's footing, attack with full force, trying to get at the creatures neck.

Bathos' power attack including prone: 1d20 + 12 + 4 - 2 ⇒ (14) + 12 + 4 - 2 = 28
Bathos' power attack damage: 1d8 + 15 ⇒ (7) + 15 = 22

M Human Level 6 Geokineticist

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 432 - 432 ⇒ (2) + 432 - 432 = 2

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