A new era is beginning for the Pathfinder Society, with new recruits and new factions all excited to build connections and embark on grand adventures. The PCs are among these recruits invited to attend a welcoming party where they can meet both the old guard as well as the up-and-coming leaders. But the party's not all talk; the PCs learn of four exciting escapades in Absalom, through which they can kick off their adventuring careers!
This adventure's individual missions include numerous variations that make each play-through exciting and different.
A pot-bellied Goblin enters the room half-carrying/half-dragging a rust-stained canvas sack behind him. He himself is well-kempt, and his equipment would otherwise be utilitarian, if it weren't for a plethora of human-sized rings and bangles worn on whatever appendages will support them. Some are crafted of precious metals while others are obvious fakes. None of them look like they were made for him.
When the smell of the bag hits you, he grins a toothy smile and breaks into song!
"Thorax Toothlicker's Bag of Meat,
Is a mobile feast of all-you-can-eat,
Don't be upset at all the gore,
I always add more, more, more!"
Then a dwarf arrives. He has got a long rusty colored beard and a backpack behind his back. A shield is attached to the bag and he carries a battle axe over his shoulder.
He looks quite afraid at the goblin already here.
I'm Dran'Thor from the Dran'Thil family from the Torgin's clan.
Hopefully the smell of what should be a bag won't be a problem for the mission. Perhaps they will go in the water after all. So the smell will disappear. The nature is stronger.
He remains cautious.
PREQUEL: The Sandstone Secret
The shaded gardens outside the Sandswept Hall provide a welcome respite from the sweltering midday sun. Venture- Captain Norden Balentiir reaches up to one of the date palms overhead, pulling down a bunch of ripe fruit to share with the table.
“They’re good for much more than shade, my friends. But I did not call you here to enjoy my garden. A few months ago, I finally received confirmation that we would be able to execute one of the last excavation permits issued by the Osiriani government. The site is a desert location where the dunes have shifted, revealing the beginnings of a staircase leading down beneath the sands.
The Osiriani government is protective of its cultural history, and with recent changes in their stance on allowing foreign archaeologists to work inside their borders, I wasn’t sure this permit would even stand. The bureaucracy was rather slow this time around, but it turns out we were approved before they stopped issuing permits. I’ve already secured your provisions, including camels, tents, food, water, tools to perform the excavation, and a map to the site. As you know, it may take many weeks to clear the site of debris. The desert can be unforgiving, so don’t hesitate to return here to rest as needed.
The government has already sent guards to oversee the site and protect against any potential thieves. Remember—keeping up a good reputation in Osirion is vital to the Pathfinder Society’s continued presence here. Don’t antagonize the guards.”
He then frowns.
"Do you have any questions?"
NOTE: Handout 1 on Slide 2 contains useful facts that, as members of the Society, you would be aware of.
|Zac Freelan 2|
Yes, can we have more people to help excavate the site of debri? We will protect them, but the more manpower we have the with the shovels the better. Or have a wizard with spell the can destroy matter, so the debry will be gone from the entrance and we can go in an explore.
"Unfortunately, what with the recent changes in the Society, we don't have a lot of available manpower, or arcane power, for that matter - if I had access to the services of a wizard capable of disintegrating rock, I wouldn't need to ask you to do this task."
He then sighs.
"I appreciate that it isn't an exciting task, but not everything the Society does is 'high adventure'..."
Adalan chimes in a bit hesitantly, "Ah... does the Society have any information at all on what we might expect to find at the bottom of those stairs? Oh, and how long of a journey is it to the site?"
The VC nods to Adalan.
"The shifting winds revealed only the top portion of the staircase. What lies beyond it remains a mystery. That's where you lot come in," he says with a grin. "As to how long it will take to reach the site, I would expect it should take no more than a week by camel, assuming you avoid traveling during the heat of the day, and stick to the early morning and late evening."
Mara's been sitting quietly in the back, munching on dates. "I hope we won't have to come back and rest too often, if it will take us a week just to get there. Where will we be picking up these supplies you've procured?" She shrugs. "No other questions here; it all seems simple enough."
can we have more people to help excavate the site
Thorax perks up in response, but his mouth is comically full of food.
*Mmph, ulp*, "Yeth! Hath hep! Uuthon! Cuh 'ere!"
A rail-thin, aging human wearing armor emblazoned with the symbol of Iomedae peeks his head from around the corner.
"Yes, indeed, my good fellows. I will be accompanying you on your journey. But, I must be quite frank. My debt is to the goblin."
He then goes back to sentry duty.
The VC nods to Mara.
"Well, depending on the size of the site, it could take months to clear it of debris, let alone record it. I dare say that you will need at least a weekend off every month...
As for the supplies, the stablehands should be packing them onto the camels, as we speak.
If there are no further questions, I will let you be on your way!"
A rather pale gnome stumbles into the garden. "Sorry I'm late. Was having an argument at the abby. So...something bout a buried structure? How long we got to handle this? Guessin them Osirian's don't want us living there indefinitely?"
"Also, we find something dangerous down below...are we to remove it from the site for safety?"
"OH! Uh, by the way, I'm Deshacerla. Feel free to come up with something shorter to call me...and while pale, I promise I'm not one of dem bleachers! I just died once and Pharasma said I had to come back."
Fingering a wooden symbol the lady of graves, the small woman eyes drift to someplace else...slight disappointment crosses her expression briefly.
"Anyway...so...uh...first time out fer me...kindo glad it seems to be a straight forward mission to start me off."
Thorax continues to munch on whatever other people haven't finished.
"How much you pay us?"
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The dwarf remains quiet during the entire scene. Just the last question retains his attention. So he's now waiting the answer with a bit of anxiety.
Adalan raises an eyebrow at Ulthun's announcement, then steals a brief, curious glance at Thorax.
When Deshacerla introduces herself, he hurriedly adds, "And I'm Adalan. I must say, I'd love to hear the story behind that... incident with Pharasma. Maybe during the journey?"
Well they are ready for a story now. Do they have to sit down and listen? Let's see what happen.
Thorax is so engrossed with eating that he absentmindedly chews on the edge of his plate.
The VC nods to Deshacerla.
"Precisely what the structure is, is unclear. The permit is open-ended, so there isn't a strict time limit, but I imagine the government might make things uncomfortable for us if excavation took years..."
He then turns to Thorax.
"Your pay will be pro-rata'ed according to your ability, once the task is completed."
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Amusingly, none of the questions you asked are covered in the scenario...
After being given the permit, and heading out to the stables, the party finds half a dozen ornery camels weighed down with digging equipment, surveying tools, torches, food, and camping gear.
The party's journey to the archaeological site is relatively uneventful. It is hot, but by sticking to traveling in the morning and evening, and resting in the heat of the day, it is shifted from dangerous, to simply unbearable.
Upon arriving at where the ruin is supposed to be, the party discovers that the entrance has already been excavated. A canvas fence secured around staircase keeps most of the sand away from the opening. Nearby, a guard sits under a tarp, humming to herself to stave off boredom while two additional guards nap in the shade, resting with four camels.
As the party approaches, the guard straightens up, and shouts at her colleagues to pay attention. She then addresses the party.
"Hello! Are you more Pathfinders? You're late. Typical; showing up after the hard labor of clearing the entryway has already been finished..."
Mara frowns. "'More' Pathfinders? We weren't told of any others...and we were told that the entryway would still need excavating when we arrived. Who else is here?"
The guard frowns.
"The expedition began over a month ago, but much of that time was dedicated to clearing and securing the entrance. It was only in the last week that the head Pathfinder was able to begin cataloging the ruin’s history. The rest of the agents went home once the sand was cleared away. We've stayed on to make sure that no-one else disturbs the site, either from within or without, and to make sure that nothing is taken that should not be."
She then eyes Mara speculatively.
"Speaking of which, can you show me your permit? You know, to prove you are who you say you are, and not simply a group of vagabond thieves?"
(The last bit said whilst eying the Goblin...)
"Of course." Mara finds the permit and presents it. "These Pathfinders, what were their names? It seems very odd that we would all be sent to the same site without being informed of each other."
The guard pulls out a magnifying glass, and goes over the permit in minute detail.
After a few minutes, she nods.
"Well, everything seems to be in order. You are permitted to enter the dig site. In answer to your question, I didn't really pay attention to the mob of laborers, but the lead Pathfinder's name is Durvin Kline; I had never heard of him, but he seemed to think he was a big deal," she says with a snort.
|Zac Freelan 2|
You mean they went in their a month ago? Did they all come out? I'm being serious, if they not everyone came out, they might be trapped in there. You did keep track of who came in and out, right?
"While there will come a time I'm willing to share my story...now is not it. Sadly, I'm still trying to understand it myself."
Frowning, she muses "So...a fake mayhaps? So much for an easy assignment. Perhaps I'll be seeing Pharasma again sooner than later."
Forcing a smile, he inclines her head to the guard. "So, everything is in order on our end, I suspect. Are we cleared to head in? We do still have much work to do, my good sir. That and, we are so thankful for your due diligence in your duties."
"You know, to prove you are who you say you are, and not simply a group of vagabond thieves?"
(The last bit said whilst eying the Goblin...)
Thorax practically *growls* at the accusation.
Says the Rogue with Thief as their specialization...
Deception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Thorax pulls out his Wayfinder and starts waving it around as if it were a prop.
"You silly guard, you think we thieves?
We Be Pathfinders! You better believe!
It's Durvin Gest! And Eando Kline!
We gotta get down there! There ain't much time!"
Performance (singing): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Totally typed that up thinking I'd taken Impressive Performance. Turns out that's later in the build =\
The guard gives Zac a puzzled look.
"No, they started digging a month ago. It took them most of that time to empty hundreds of years of sand out of the entrance chamber. Once that was done, as I mentioned, the workers went home, and the head Pathfinder stayed on to catalogue the ruins."
She then nods to Deshacerla.
"Yes, everything seems to be in order, so I suppose you can head inside."
The guard then frowns as Thorax breaks into song.
"Not what I was expecting, but then again, Pathfinders are renowned for being unusual folk... when they are aren't garnering a reputation as murderous thiev... I mean, archaeologists."
She then stands aside, and ushers you towards the stairs.
Now would be a good time to establish a marching order ;-)
The staircase goes down about 60', ending in an impressive grand entryway. Lamps spread liberally around the chamber ensure that it is well lit, allowing you to see that pillars (some of which have collapsed) line the room, and statues around the periphery depict scarab beetles.
Mara: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22.
Adalan: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19.
Both Mara and Adalan know that in Osirion, scarab beetle iconography is commonplace in tombs and other places associated with death.
There are two exits: A 10' wide corridor to the West, and a 5' wide corridor to the North.
Since Thorax is highest level, and has Trap Spotter, I'll happily volunteer to be in front, unless someone else wants to be.
For Exploration Mode, Thorax will use the Track Activity combined with Trap Spotter to Search for Traps.
Given his inexperience and relatively fragile physique, Adalan follows behind the others. As they walk, he perpetually mutters a simple incantation to scan for the presence of magical auras.
"I'm for going straight ahead through that wider hallway so we aren't quite as boxed in."
Using Detect Magic for his exploration activity.
Adalan does not detect any magic in this area.
With Adalan's nudging, Thorax heads down the wider corridor. keeping an eye out for traps...
Thorax, Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15.
...and promptly finds one, where there is suddenly a 'click' beneath his feet!
With a grinding noise, a several tonne slab of stone in the ceiling drops down...
Thorax, Reflex: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (14) + 11 = 25.
...but Thorax somersaults backwards, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the block (which now, incidentally, completely blocks the tunnel).
As the dust settles, it becomes clear that the only way forward is via the narrow passage...
"Hallway broken. This way we go!"
With the Track Activity, does Thorax see any tracks in the dust?
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Mara winces as the stone crashes down. "Well, if anything didn't know we were here before, they do now. At least you were able to dodge."
She follows Thorax down the narrow passage, looking for any clues that might indicate the nature of this place, (other than a likely tomb), as well as what the 'Pathfinders' proceeding them might have been doing.
Mara will be second in the marching order. She is Investigating as her exploration activity. She also has Trap Finder, which gives her a check to find traps even if she isn't Searching.
Thorax notices numerous tracks in the dust, from a shod, medium-sized humanoid.
Going down the narrow corridor, the party sees a door to the East, whilst 15' beyond that point, the corridor takes a sharp turn to the left.
Quickly nipping up to the corner reveals a long corridor, with single doors to the South and West, double doors to the North, and two side corridors to the South.
Let me know which room(s) you want to explore, and in what order.
"It's probably best to be thorough and explore each room as we come to it. No sense letting something get behind us because we didn't check." Mara stands by the eastern door. While waiting to see if there are any objections, she checks it for traps.
Mara votes for the eastern door, but won't open it until some of the others have had a chance to weigh in.
|Zac Freelan 2|
Deshacerla would prefer to be in the middle of the group with protection both front and rear. :-P
A soft squeak comes from within the pale gnomes robes as the ceiling collapses. "Shh Tumba. It'll be ok. A professional is guiding us."
The smallest of rodent faces peaks out for a moment before burying itself deep within her clothing.
Eyeing the two options, she considers it a moment. "A wise trainer once told me left is always right, until there is only right. But, I've no preference myself. Whichever way you wish is fine with me."
Seeing two of her group going in opposite directions, she wavers for a moment before heading after Mara. "Tumba and I will watch your back, Mara."
At the mention of it's name, a tiny rodent begrudgingly climbs out into the open. Sniffing the air and looking around, it settles on the Deshacerla's left shoulder.
"Nobody down here," Thorax says while looking around the corner. "Open door."
EDIT: Just noticed my bulk was off, and Thorax is encumbered. Is it alright if Thorax left his shortbow and arrows back on his camel? Unless someone else wants to carry them for him.
Sorry Thorax - I don't have the strength to help you out.
Also...uh...if this is exploration mode still I would use the...seek action
Mara can carry your shortbow as well as her own. If I've done the math right she's only at 4 bulk right now, (out of a max of 6). Or she could carry some other piece of equipment if you'd rather keep the bow. Maybe your healer's tools or climbing kit?
Thorax can Treat Wounds in Combat, so he'll need his tools, but carrying the climbing kit would work. Thank you!
You can is practically every skill in Exploration Mode. Tracking is Survival. Search is Perception.
The dwarf doesn't like at all to be compared to a thief. Fortunately for the guard Mara shows him the permit.
Once he knows that the excavation is done: That sounds not good that somebody already went down there before us.
When they enter
I should manage to be in the first ones. Not the first because I doesn't have good reflex. But I could help with Architecture Lore and Perception. Then if there is a fight I would be useless if I need to run from the back.
Yeah goblin, move quietly, don't run in this underground. We're not under pressure, are we?
The druid moves with his axe and shield in hands.
Stealth: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
Thorax attempts to disappear into the shadows, but gets bored after mere moments and starts noisily snacking on a bag of rations.