You stare at the placid waters of the Bay of Goka as you ride one of the ferry boats to Xielan Island, the gentle rocking waves causing your minds to drift back to the meeting that launched this journey:
Ambrus Valsin stalked into one of the meeting rooms on the first floor of Skyreach. With a bare nod of greeting to you all, he said, "First, congratulations on qualifying for the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. Well done. As you know, every ten years in the tiny fishing village on Xielan Island, warriors and martial artists from across Tian Xia and the Inner Sea congregate for one express purpose: to compete against one another in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. For those that step into the ring, there is no greater prestige than to be the victor of this glorious event, and those that win an invitation are often the greatest fighters of their art.
"The tournament itself traces its roots to the sorceress Hao Jin, a devout Abadarite who had set her mind to collecting her own First Vault. Over her centuries-long lifetime, she had collected a vast treasure hold of items she deemed either perfect or wondrous, suitable for display in her Vault. In true Abadarite fashion, she made arrangements for the divestment of her estate, and left very explicit instructions: if more than ten years and a day were to pass without her entering the Grand Bank of Abadar in Goka, then a grand tournament would be held on the ten year anniversary of that day. The tournament would be overseen by the Abadarites, and the winner (be they an individual or a team) would be allowed to take one item from the Vault as a prize for their victory."
Valsin abruptly halted his staccato delivery to look each of you in the eye. "And this, my dear Pathfinders, is why you were asked to qualify for the tournament. We have learned that Hao Jin had in her possession a Tapestry, one rumored to contains its own demiplane filled with archeological wonders. The society must have this tapestry in order to plumb its depths of knowledge. So the glory, honor and other riches are yours, but you must win the tournament and claim Hao Jin's Tapestry for the Society. You. Must. Not. Fail. Am I clear?" After getting confirmation from each of you, he continued.
"Over her lifetime, many aware of the will tried to end her life prematurely - and several were even successful. A sorceress of her power, however, is not easily set back, even by death. Each time an enemy killed her, she would emerge unscathed days later, her red hair a shade more vibrant than before her death. Her ability to shrug off death and her hair's resemblance to an animated flickering flame earned Hao Jin the nickname "The Ruby Phoenix," and some said that she was truly immortal. However, all men must die, and in 6891 IC, the recordkeepers at the Grand Bank noted that a decade and a day had passed since the Ruby Phoenix had entered the temple. She was assumed to have met her final end, and the first tournament was held ten years later.
"As you know, in the years between the tournaments, the Abadarites in charge of the tournament organize smaller qualifying tournaments in many of the great population centers in both the Inner Sea and Tian Xia--the ones which you used to qualify for the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. So prepare yourselves for the journey to Xielan Island, and remember to pack the vellum scrolls you claimed as prize for winning the qualifying tournament--with their impressive calligraphy. They are your invitations to the main event. It's time to go win our rug. Good luck. And don't fail."
The boat gives a gentle shudder as it comes abreast of the main dock in the center of the crescent-shaped isle, and you're shaken from your reveries. You look around at the other Pathfinders who form your team.
Describe your character and feel free to share any relevant info your fellow travelers might've noticed on your long journey from Absalom to Goka.
You may make purchases, etc, before leaving Absolom (or in Goka).
Please note any purchases (or retraining) in the discussion thread.
|Jeras van Hidden|
Jeras, high blonde elf, stands leaned back on the wall and cleans the nails with one of his knives. So leaned back he listened to the words of others and watched their movements to study them.
The aasimar has a scholarly look, and is scribbling in a notebook.
"Fascinating, really. You know, the gnome researcher Parabataculontico Wack had a theory that Hao Jin was actually the eidolon of a powerful summoner who remained hidden, and that accounted for her ability to reappear after each time she was seemingly slain. Of course, this theory was put to the test in 6884 IC, when the warlord Zhong Kai assembled over two dozen powerful clerics to bombard her with Dismissal spells, counting that one would get through. Either luck was on her side, or the eidolon theory was wrong. So the next attempt..."
He continues on, rattling off bits of history to anyone who will listen. As you have noticed, he is greatly interested in the lore of Golarion, although often his attention is derailed by a bit of trivia that he finds particularly interesting. Daathiel is apparently brilliant, though a bit absent-minded.
"Did you know that Hao Jin always filed her fingernails from right to left, with the exact same number of strokes each time? Must be an Abadar thing. Order and counting and whatnot."
A halfling, exuding power well beyond her stature joins the group assembled.
A chill ocean spray whips around her from a barrier of water that floats in front of her as jungle flowers bloom along the woody texture of skin and then wither and die in a cycle of renewal that happens at an accelerated pace. She carries little in the way of weapons, though her bandoliers are festooned with a variety of wands.
As she has done several times on the long journey, she closes her eyes. The longs feathered headdress she wears begins to flutter, first in chaotic spasms and then rhythmic undulations that quicken as the flapping of wings. The headdress flies from the halfling's head and begins to spiral up and out as a bird of prey looking for its meal. After a few minutes, it returns to the top of her brow, settling in place as it communicates to her all that it has seen.
A male Aasimar with eyes like moonstones carefully takes stock of the allies that the Society has assembled for the tournament. He has a prominently displayed symbol of an Iron Hammer around his neck, along with an assortment of ioun stones flying around his head, but no weapons. He appears to have muscles comparable to those of Absalom’s weakest mage, but wears Monk’s robes nevertheless.
Well met. It'll be a long journey to Xielan Island. The Society says we can not fail in this mission, so I suggest we familiarize ourselves with each others abilities and plan accordingly. I’m a follower of the Father of Creation, and while most of us practice their skills with the hammer, I’ve found the best way to prepare for anything is to hone the one weapon that cannot be taken from you, yourself. I receive blessings from the Father and accordingly, if any of you have need of minor divine assistance, I can provide it. My abilities are limited to minor deeds and I suspect foes we face in the tournament will have far stronger magics. Regardless, every foe I’ve faced, from Aboleth to Zombie, has broken on the shield I've trained my body to become.
"I have found knowledge is a powerful weapon. I will try my best to inform you of our foes' abilities and weaknesses. I can also disable traps, including magical ones, and have a selection of spells to make you all better at... well, whatever it is that you do. And I'm reasonably good at talking to people. I am also an excellent dancer if I do say so myself. Oh, and I can fly."
Angelic wings unfurl as the aasimar takes to the air.
His normal routine in the first round of combat will be Naturalist (insight bonus to attacks, AC, and most saves) and a spell, probably Haste. Or start Blinking if he is not already - he tries to keep his ring active as much as possible. Note that since his performance is not a competence bonus, he gets more use out of his immediate-action Timely Inspiration and Gallant Inspiration than most bards do. If he has nothing else to contribute in a combat he might use his Wand of True Strike combined with his whip to Disarm and Trip.
His wand of Bestow Grace is a very nice boost for any good-aligned characters with high Cha.
It looks like Daathiel is the face of the party as well as the Knowledge expert. Hopefully that and the buffs will make up for him being useless at direct damage. His trap skills may not be needed with Jeras along.
Flora extends a hand and a hundred sharp splinters of wood fly from it, embedding themselves in a nearby post. She then creates an icicle out of the air and stabs twice at a wall with it causing shards of pure ice to explode from her blade which melts away in a moment.
"I command the jungle spirits and the cold ocean spray. The wood and water listen to my voice and do my bidding."
Fairly standard wood/water kineticist. I can fight at range or in melee. Have s decent AC and Fort and Reflex saves although Will is a bit of a weakness. I have a +19 UMD and a variety of wands that I can activate with it.
|Jeras van Hidden|
"Daathiel, you think that you know how to disable traps. Leave that to me and you just speak and dance and we will be fine." says Jeras.
"Hi everyone, I am Jeras! All sorts of traps and fighting in flank are my expertise."
The society was wise to assemble a scholar, a master of the elements, someone with skill in subterfuge, and myself. I can also deal with Droskar’s follies, including magical ones, but that is not my primary focus, so I’ll leave it to you Jeras. My main focus is that I am master of not only the snake style, but also the crane style. The Snake style particularly enables price strikes, similar to yours Jeras, through swashbuckler techniques. More and more enemies as of late take to the skies rather than fighting face to face with honor. A few missions ago I bought a carpet that deals with that particular problem, and without a wizard among us, some ability to do that may be useful. Those wings are indeed useful Daathiel.
Does anyone have contingencies in the event of an untimely demise? Fellow pathfinders I’ve met before have asked me to use various scrolls on them or return their bodies to the grand lodge should things turn for the worst.
On a more recreational note, I recently took up brewing as a hobby. A fellow pathfinder taught me how to brew a potent tonic that enhances my abilities for a short duration. It takes quite a while to brew, but that is time well spent, Hops and Water is not beer after all. It seems Daathiel spends his free times in books. Does anyone else have any labours of love they can practice on this long journey?
Mal always starts in snake style and activates crane style on his first round. He always fights defensively and usually positions himself to attack if it is possible. If not he may UMD one of his wands or use a spell. Snake fang gives him an attack of opportunity of someone attacks him and misses.
Against particularly fierce looking opponents he’ll enter crane style, and either cast shield, or total defense, which will let him use crane riposte.
With no high level divine support in the party it would be good to have some sort of healing. Does anyone currently have anything along the lines a breath of life scroll, first aid gloves, or a heal scroll?
Daathiel raises an eyebrow at Jeras's tone.
"Jeras, I know for a fact that I can disable traps up to a Symbol of Death reliably. Don't question that. But if you would consider it stepping on your toes, by all means, that can be your job."
OOC, I do realize that the Skill Unlock makes your action economy at Disable much better.
"Mal, I cannot cast the Fly spell, unfortunately. But I find that Air Walk is often more useful than Fly, for those that are not at home in the air. I can use such scrolls fairly reliably."
UMD +21, +23 with Heroism, and easily buffed to +27 with Grand Destiny.
As to healing, Daathiel can do a Mass CSW (3d8+12) with 4 rounds of performance, so that's really out-of-combat healing. Also does some condition removal.
To be clear, feel free to continue chatting and strategizing amongst yourselves, if you so desire. Good idea to get to know each others' abilities, etc. Just no official gameplay posts from me to start the game. You have any ooc questions for me, fire away.
As the ferry nears the dock, a particularly friendly Gokan fisherwoman carrying a large pack approaches, tilting back her conical hat and cheerfully introducing herself. "Why hello there, travelers from afar. I am Risha. Given your attire and the timing of your arrival, I take it you are here for the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. Do you fight individually, or as a team? Clearly this halfling is no one to trifle with. And indeed, each of you have the bearing of one who can handle themselves in times of trouble. It's been so long since the last tournament. I can't wait to see how each of you fare. Tell me the truth, if one were inclined to wager on such contests, which of you would be the best bet?"
Well met Risha. I'm Mal and we intend to fight as a team. It would be argonent to suppose yourself the strongest in a team, as every link in chainmail protects from a dagger entering that point.
|Jeras van Hidden|
"Yes Risha! I am team fighter! In individual fight, I will be down in first round."
"Yes, we are a team as such I do not see any sense on such a wager."
"It appears none of you are the type to lumber around in heavy platemail, which is good. Skill and agility are often rewarded in the arena, while those weighted down can find the sands unforgiving." Turning to Mal, Risha says, "Your doughty frame and strong calloused hands would seem to indicate you are no arcane caster, casting spells behind the protection of your friends. I take it you are a monk of some sort? There are many such fighters here in Tian Xia. Are you a master of any particular style? Tiger? Turtle? I recall seeing a master of the pummeling style charging into combat and beating his opponent to the ground before his foe could even act. A fine display, though it was over so quickly..."
Mal thinks to himself before responding, as this fisherwoman appears to carry herself in a manner that indicates she is not to be trifled with You’re quite observant, Risha. Tell me, what is your interest in the tournament? I’d imagine we’d see masters of styles from everywhere on Golarion from men who’ve learned to pounce as tigers from M’wangi, to Chelaxians who survived the acadamae and can bring the fiercest devils to bear upon us, and everyone between. You’re quite right armor can be a boon or a hinderance, depending on the circumstance and the training of the fighter wearing it, and that masters of pummeling style can fell a foe seconds after seeing them with a single ferocious attack.
"If I were inclined to wager, I'd say that I could be the last one standing through frustration - not through actually defeating my foes but by surviving until they quit. But circumstances have gone against me in the past when I have been on my own. I much prefer being part of a team."
"Ah, my friends from afar, this tournament comes but once every ten years. The wagers are mere amusement to add a little spice to the mix. Indeed, as your astute friend noted, the real opportunity is to see warriors from across all of Golarion gather in one place to do battle to win a rare treasure from the fabled vault of Hao Jin herself. It's a rare opportunity that must be savored as deeply and richly as possible, so as to carry one through ten long years until the next Ruby Phoenix Tournament. Forgive my over-eagerness; I don't mean to be rude, but I'd love to be able to tell my friends I spoke with the winners. Hence I ride the ferry whenever I can leading up to the tournament, to seek out who might be the real contenders, and maybe gain a little insight, the kind of insight that also could help win a friendly wager or two."
d: 1d20 ⇒ 12
pf: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (2) + 22 = 24
pj: 1d20 + 23 ⇒ (13) + 23 = 36
pm: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (7) + 24 = 31
pd: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (10) + 14 = 24
You may be speaking with the winners, or not, only time well tell. If you've found competitors on this Ferry who would openly boast of their abilities, I'd wager their overconfidence alone may cause their downfall.
Tell us a little of your life Risha. What do you beyond making exceptionally astitute observations of those riding to the tournament?
|Jeras van Hidden|
"Well, I do like picking up practical advice as well. A woman must know how to defend herself, so any pointers you might have on effective fighting techniques, particularly defensive techniques, would be most appreciated."
Mal wonders about Risha’s motives as the conversation progresses.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (20) + 21 = 41
Mal considers what he discerns and responds Risha, You seem to be deflecting and attempting to represent yourself as someone you’re not. Why?
"Probably competition trying to learn our abilities and plan for them. I suspect you can learn just as much by actually paying attention to the contests."
"Might have been better to deceive her... but I don't think we gave away anything of importance."
|Jeras van Hidden|
"I hope that we didn't!" says Jeras to Daathiel.
Mal responds to Daathiel Deciet probably wouldn't have been succesful anyways. Anyone I would consider a potential competitors wouldn't see 4 compansions traveling together, carrying an assortment of magical items and arms, and proceed assume they're on their way to Xielan island to learn the secrets of fishing.
Knowing that we're a team and going to the competition and having laid eyes upon us doesn't really tell a person much. Although this does stress we should probably be careful going forward with everyone we meet and their friendly offers...
AS you get off the ferry, you hear a smattering of cheers as you walk down the docks. As you approach the town proper, you see the streets are lined with townsfolk, some of whom hand each of you a ceramic cup filled with a warm pungent liquor. Cherry blossoms float down from the second story windows as you're ushered down the main thoroughfare. The size of the crowd and the sounds of their excitement and cheering grows with each step. You're lead to the center of town, to Yon Loi's Noodle Shop. Several of the elder townsfolk await inside the door for your arrival; clearly they have been chosen for the honor of seating and serving you. As you enter the Noodle House, more cherry blossoms rain down on you as the crowd, especially up on the balcony, shower you with adoration.
See Map. Note previous slides show map of Xielan Island and an image of Risha. Longer post will follow.
"I suspected people might seek an unfair advantage. That is why I took the opportunity to purchase a want before we departed. It contains a spell that will allow you to rest while remaining awake. I figure it will have enough power to allow us to remain vigilant until we leave, assuming we are not attacked every hour of the evening".
A prudent measure to be sure, Mal agrees with Flora. I suspect the tournament has strict rules forbidding such actions, but I also assume proving someone violated the rules, and who is at fault is a difficult proposition. In any event, an adversary simply trying to get fools to boast of their abilities before the tournament starts is probably the least of our concerns.
I was thinking more along the lines of lying to her about what our abilities were, rather than pretending we weren't combatants, but no matter.
Daathiel is particularly nervous about the people offering food and drinks. He eyes everybody suspiciously, but knows he isn't good enough to spot an assassin. He resolves to wait to eat or drink until a minute or two after another of his comrades has started, although he knows that isn't enough of a delay to catch all poisons.
The udon and bubble tea are amazingly tasty. While most of the occupants of the room are dressed in local fashion, as you look around the ground floor, several figures stand out, mostly for being the center of similar fawning attention of the locals.
The gentleman in blue seems to be watching you intently and openly, and when your eyes meet, he smiles and nods and raises his glass to you.
He is an Avistani half-elf whose equipment carries the markings of a worshiper of Iomedae, and indeed, on his chest hangs a beautiful elaborate silver holy symbol of the Inheritor.
The woman with the pink flower in her hair appears to be a human woman of Vudrani heritage. She appears to be wearing no armor and carries a kukri on her hip.
The man with the green tunic is a human male dressed as a simple monk. His head is mostly bald, except for the extremely long braided ponytail that reaches the floor.
It's difficult to make out many details on the man dressed head-to-toe in the tell-tale black shinobi shozoku of a ninja, other than the kyoketsu shoge hanging at his side.
The crowd at the railing watching from the balcony appear to be mostly locals.
Mal looks over the assembled warriors and is proud to have the honor of competing among them. He is clearly excited for the tournmant to come, but tries to remain stoic about it. He quietly enjoys his meal and carefully sizes up those who'd be his competition
Let me know if I need any sense motive checks or perception checks on them.
Daathiel looks around. He fidgets with his ring (it is a Ring of Blinking) but does not activate it.
Cleric or Paladin; Wizard or Sorcerer; Monk; Ninja. Or something like that.
Do these four individuals appear to be together?
Each sits separately, surrounded by their own fawning local townsfolk, though none but the female seems to enjoy the attention. It is difficult to make much of them without directly interacting. Each carries an air of competence.
Once you have mostly finished your meals, the Iomedaean stands and walks over to you. "You must be the Pathfinders I've heard so much about. Wonderful! I am Marthysan the Righteous, reigning champion of the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. And with luck, I'll be passing my crown over to you." While he is addressing all four of you, when he spies the hammer of Torag on Mal, his smile broadens.
"Of course, when I won the tournament ten years ago, it was the 3rd Centennial of the tournament, so they added an additional round of competition, bringing the total competing teams to 128. So I had to win all 6 rounds to win my chance at claiming my prize from Hao Jin's Vault. You'll only have to win 5. And..." He pauses to get your attention and then offers you a wink. "you don't have to face me."
After a hearty chuckle he continuee. "While there are humble lodgings offered to all the contestants, as champion I have an entire suite in the adjacent inn, with plenty of room to spare. If you'd rather have a little more living space--and much finer accommodations, you're welcome to stay with me for the duration of the tournament."
The way the locals look at him with reverence, and treat him with complete deference (not to mention everyone nearby is clearly trying to listen in on your conversation), there can be no doubt this is indeed Marthysan the Righteous, reigning champion of the Ruby Phoenix Tournament.
"And, of course, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have, about the tournament, Xielan Island, or my own personal exploits in winning the tournament ten years ago. It was a glorious thing..."
He gets a faraway look in his eyes and a self-satisfied smile crosses his face before he shakes off the reverie and returns his attention to you all.
Flora: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Jeras: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Mal: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (19) + 21 = 40
Daathiel: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
hmmm: 1d20 ⇒ 20
sense motive: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (20) + 21 = 41
Mal considers the man, what he thinks of him, and the offer.
Mal thinks that Marthysan is 100% genuine in his offer and all that he's said, and indeed, the deference of the locals make it obvious he is the reigning champ (several of whom are positively aquiver at even being near him. (think the Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show).
Let me know if you have any questions for Marthysan.
Let me know if you want to go interact with anyone else in the Noodle House (there are the three obvious contestants:
1) female human in kukri
2) male human monk
Flora figures she'll let her abilities do the talking at the arena. Still, she'd like to get a better look around, but didn't want to wander too far by herself.
When she can pull away from the crowd, she will find nearby spot to meditate. She will then call upon the spirit in her tribal headdress to take to the sky and get a view of the area.
Using elemental whispers when I have the chance to send my "osprey" familiar out to get a bird's-eye view of the city.
Mal smiles at the Iomedaean, replying " Many thanks for the offer Marthysan. Assuming none of my colleagues object, We'd be honored to stay in the suite.
I have several questions if you don't mind. Can you tell us a little about how the tournament works? Were you a sole champion or part of a winning team? Do the teams fight seperately from the individuals or is it a single contestent pool? With 6 rounds I assume that it is single loss eliminiation? Do contestents deal non-lethal in the arena or do they have magical standbys to avoid untimely deaths of participants?"
Mal is mostly interested in talking to the reigning champion and while he tries to observe the manerisms of other obvious combatants, he makes no move to talk to them directly.
I'd imagine these questions occuring in conversation form, one by one, but there is no reason to delay the progression.
|Jeras van Hidden|
Jeras is not interested in talking with other people.
Daathiel will mingle with the crowds, making idle chat and hoping to overhear anyone talking with the other contestants.
Perception: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (15) + 14 = 29
He hopes to subtly learn about them without making himself too much the subject of their attention - at least for a bit. Should one happen to seek him out in the crowd he will engage in respectful conversation.
The main combat matches against other competitors are indeed single elimination. Each contestant gained entry into the tournament either as an individual or a team. Team versus team, team versus individual, individual versus individual all can and will happen, though you should be competing as a team throughout during the main bouts. And all of those are held at the Grand Pavilion and are judged by “The Emissary.” And be warned: they can and will change the terrain within the pavilion. Luckily there is a thirty-foot high permanent Wall of Force surrounding the battle area that protects the audience.
There are also exhibition matches that take place at different locations all over the island—and even sometimes in the Grand Pavilion—don’t worry, you’ll know whether it is an exhibition or an elimination match beforehand. The exhibitions are judged by trusted Ruby Phoenix Tournament appointees or the bound oni, Kiang Zhen. They will not mean elimination from the tournament, but do represent a chance to test your skills, and potentially help you gain favor with the crowd, who will also be watching you in the Grand Pavilion.
And the crowd can sometimes be the difference between success and failure. If you deal a particular strong blow maximum damage or manage to strike a critical hit, or when you vanquish one of your foes, you can play to the crowd…and you should. Take the opportunity to try and gain their favor, for surely your enemies will do the same.
Performance Combat: During any combat held in the Grand Pavilion, the PCs (and their opponents) may attempt to gain the support of the crowd by playing to the audience with spectacular shows of martial prowess using the optional performance combat rules described on pages 153– 157 of Ultimate Combat. (The rules in this module mostly follow Ultimate Combat, though there may be some small variations.) Combatants can make performance checks when they perform certain triggering actions, such as dealing maximum damage, scoring a critical hit, or vanquishing an opponent. Success or failure on such a check changes the crowd’s attitude and grants potential morale bonuses or penalties on all attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws.
They also stage tests of your skills. Again, these are opportunities to build reputation both with the judges and the crowd…and also can win you items and boons that will aid you in the main competition.
More importantly, the crowd is like having an arena full of friends who’ll keep an eye on the contestants, making certain nobody cheats. It’d take someone with very quick hands or even quicker tongue to get away with cheating in the Grand Pavilion.
As for lethal or nonlethal methods, it is a matter of your own conscience. Contestants can yield or surrender at any point, and once there is a surrender of any single contestant on a team, the entire team surrenders and has lost. Also, the other side must immediate cease hostilities as well. Failure to honor that by either side means immediate disqualification. As for healing and other magical standbys, you are on your own. Only participating contestants may aid each other, with whatever spells, abilities and/or equipment they bring into the Pavilion themselves. You would not be here for this contest if you were not at least as capable, if not more capable than any who will be watching.
As for my own triumph, I indeed won it as a solo competitor…for I would share my spoils with none but the Church of Iomedae. The glory was mine to be had, and mine alone.