You have each received a summons from Envi Zongnoss, the Venture-Captain of Vodavani Lodge in Caliphas. See Handout #1.
When you arrive in Caliphas, the streetsare bustling with activity due to an influx of refugees from the former nation of Lastwall. You make your way to the Vodavani Lodge. Entering the Lodge, you are met with a cacophony rising from dozens of Pathfinders discussing missions, sharing documents, and gathering supplies for their own quests. At the center of it all is a female gnome clad in a blue robe with crescent moons and butterflies in gold thread and a blue turban. She is simultaneously directing other Pathfinders and preparing her own weapons and equipment for some mission.
A dwarf in studded leather, with a drum slung like a satchel at his side, stomps through the room toward the gnome. He nods as she gets a moment between speaking to others and says, without preamble, "I'm lookin' for Envi Zangnoss."
A human male is right behind the dwarf. He has smoldering golden/brown eyes, bronzed skin and dark brown hair that effortlessly stays combed back. A fit but not muscular build is covered with a crisp white explorer’s outfit. His matching cloak has a large red cross stitched onto the back.
He softly raises his hand, "I as well, ma'am. Hester Motts is the name. Battle Medic reporting for duty."
Tarku had never been comfortable in towns, especially ones as bustling as Caliphas, nearly bursting at the seams with those fleeing the recent disasters in Lastwall.
The large bear cub striding at his side seemed less concerned, intent on following Tarku through the press of humanoids. He had little trouble - a 300 lb bear had a way of creating his own space, as the people of Caliphas gave him a wide, wary buffer. Reaching the lodge, he tapped the side of the doorframe and the bear obediently sat, watching the passers by. ”Don’t you make too many friends, Brick!” he said with a chuckle.
Eyeing the two others surrounding the gnome matching the description of Zangnoss, Tarku strode up, removing his wide brimmed hat. ”Name’s Tarku, ma’am. Understand you got some work for us?”
|Louis "Jabberjaws" Puddles|
Not far off, a human man is stuffing his face with what seems like pie. He looks in surprise to Hester and the dwarf, saying-"Dammit! I needed to search for Envi as well! Time flies with a good apple pie on your table"-he says with a broad smile.
The man stands up from his table, his solid sinew and muscle covered by a layer of fat twice as thick. His oak skin is a canvas for his big, friendly smile. He tries his best to straigthen up his messy shirt and suspenders and pipes up-"Louis Puddles! Just in time, by the look of it! Friends call me Jabberjaws or Jabber - you're welcome to call me what you will"-giving a wink to the party.
The gnome issues a warm smile. “Ah, thank you for coming. Gather around over here, please.”
Evni motions over to a nearby table upon which rests a parchment map stuck with miniature flag partly obscuring the label “Lastwall.” “Apologies for the out-of-date cartography, but it’s the best we can do at this time.
“The re-emergence of Tar-Baphon dealt a devastating blow to the Society, so we’ve been scrambling to consolidate resources. The Society is focusing on missions into the Gravelands for two reasons: to track down the whereabouts of Pathfinder agents who went missing when the undead hordes struck, and to recover the fragments of history and culture that yet survive. I believe you all should have received a letter from me containing your assigned destination.”
The scenario pauses for someone to show or read her the destination on Handout #1.
"Thank you," Evni says. "I have so many searches heading out that it is difficult to keep track."
Evni points to a flag in the southeast portion of Lastwall. “Goldenflame was an idyllic place surrounding a college sponsored and supported by the church of Iomedae. Fortunately, most of the town was able to evacuate swiftly, but we know that some residents stayed behind out of a sense of civic duty to defend their home against evil.
“Goldenflame College is known for its documentation of the history of both southeastern Lastwall and the activities of the church of Iomedae in the region, as well as its collection of invaluable local curiosities accrued over time. Those relics and stories—if they can be recovered, then Lastwall can live on.”
Evni excuses herself and shortly returns with a bundle of paper. “These dossiers contain information on all known Pathfinder agents in the region surrounding Goldenflame. Although we must hold out hope, I cannot truthfully say I am optimistic. Nevertheless, closure is important, and we can properly mourn for their loss and celebrate their lives if we know their fates. Perhaps these documents could be of some use to you in this quest. I’ve also completed and signed travel documentation stating your reasons for being in the Gravelands. Present this document to the border crossing, and you can then be on your way.”
Evni walks over to a nearby bench to a relatively massive pack, where she begins sorting through its contents. She pulls out a bundle of sacks. “Here. These are for you to transport any items or—” she bows her head “—remains you might find. I know it is a sad and gruesome task, but retrieving those fallen Pathfinders would bring closure to their loved ones.”[/b] Evni then closes the pack and shoulders it. “I’m also heading into the Gravelands myself. May Desna guide us all on our journeys. Hopefully we can find what we seek.”
I am going to experiment with semi-secret rolls.
Please make any secret rolls inside of a spoiler.
Secret Society Check, if you desire.
Hester follows her over to get their briefing. He shivers as the topic of undead are brought up, "not fun to fight, just relentless hordes."
He glances through the dossiers, but saves reading them for their travels. When the briefing ends he sighs, "Well, body recovery needs to be done and if we are lucky someone is still holding out." He rubs his forehead a bit and then nods, "Yeah, that's the hope I'm sticking with here. A strong enough barricaded location or great hiding spot, one could survive a while against the hordes. We make it quick, we might even be able to pull some of our people out."
Society: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Olnik nods. "Do we have any transport? Whether it is remains or injured, we might have difficulty carrying them all the way out of the Gravelands."
|Louis "Jabberjaws" Puddles|
Louis listens attentively, trying his best to keep himself focused. With great force behind his movements, he stands up from his table and says-"I'm on the same boat as Hester. If there's even a small chance to rescue Pathfinders from this catastrophe, we should give it our all to let it be so. You've got me movitated, ma'am."-he says as he takes most of the bags, assuming he'll be the one carrying the heavy loads.
Evni shakes her head. “Unfortunately, the Society is stretched thin at this point in time. Goldenflame is not far from here, though, so a round trip should be possible in a single day.”
Society Check Results
Hester adds, "About all I know about the area is that all the local city business went through the chapel in Goldenflame, so historical records would be found there, if anywhere. I'd say we start looking for it, especially since chapels are usually sturdy buildings that might provide refuge for any survivors."
He leaves unsaid that it is also a likely location for a last stand protecting the wounded and would be a smart place to start their body recovery job if there are no survivors.
Olnik nods to Hester. "Sounds like the best plan to me. That's about all that I know of the area." He surveys the group. "Looks like we've got a medic, and I know some healing magics too ... But if we run afoul of undead, my magic won't do much to sway them, I fear. Maybe we'll find some stockpiles of holy water in the chapel." He snorts, giving the dwarf's opinion of the odds of such fine fortune.
|Louis "Jabberjaws" Puddles|
Louis takes the challenge, saying-"Well, add procuring a cart to our to-do list. Chapel's our first destination then!"-he says, getting ready to leave. While in some circumstances a Pathfinder might keep asking questions to his or her VC, Louis instead takes a chance to kneel down and approach Tarku's bear-"Well, ain't you a looker!"-doing his best to pet the animal without getting bitten.
Society (T): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
A Dwarven woman comes bursting in the room looking rather disheveled. Her brownish-red hair is pulled up in a long ponytail with braids alongside her face, wispy strands fall into her dark brown eyes. She pushes the hair off her face as her eyes scan the room. Though she appears rather fit, she is panting as if she's been sprinting a distance. "Sorry, I'm late! My ma said I'd be late to my own funeral one day. I'm startin' to believe 'er. I'm Hatrabela Hillguard... Bela for short. What'd I miss?"
Tarku dips the tip of his brim towards the new arrival. "Oh, jus' a rescue mission into the Gravelands, miss. Nuthin' too exciting," he says with a grin. "Seems we're missing some Pathfinders, an' Evni wants us to help 'em find the way home."
After Louis' preemptive departure and Bella's late arrival, Envi directs Bella to the dossiers, allows the others to catch her up, and explains the best roads to use on your way to Goldenflame. "This one is more direct, but we've gotten reports of undead patrolling it even in the day, so you'll want to avoid that. This one here, even though it looks like it goes quite a bit out of the way--it's shorter than it looks on the map--will take you to this path here..."
She rolls up the map and hands it to Tarku. "Stock up here before you leave and then be quick: if there are any survivors, every minute counts, and you do not want to be in Tar-Baphon's territory any longer than needed lest you draw his soldier's attention."
You can buy any gear you have access to that you like. Once you head out, you will not be able to shop.
Society Check Results
Hester looks at Bella as she walks in and his concerned look about their mission fades into a big smile, "Bella! Oh man, it's great to see you again." He moves over to her and guides the dwarf into the group, "Gents, Bella and I came up through the Swords training program together. Top of her class she was, her instructor said she could wield an axe better than most professional swordsmen. I'm feeling better already about this mission."
He looks at the crew as they prepare, "Now who can carry extra water? I've got plenty of rations but water is heavy and will be risky to use if we find it out there."
Time to swap out the charm scroll for some holy water for Pathfinder training equipment?
Tarku slaps the rolled up map into his palm. "Righto, chief! Maps are good to have and all, but Brick an' I don't get lost much. We'll make for Goldenflame and get out who's there to be got...."
Tarku smiles at the brief reunion of Hester and Bella. "Always better to go a-wondering with some trusted friends, I say. Brick is easy to talk to but he don't say much. I'll take what water I can carry, but like as not we can make do with what we find there and back." He turns to Evni with wrinkled brow. "Unless.....inside this Lich's territory....are we likely to find wells and streams befouled with his magics?"
Informed and supplied, you make your way through Caliphas late in the morning and set out toward Goldenflame. It is a relatively short walk to the Ustalavic border crossing. Several tents have been erected on either side of the road. A plank lies across the road, propped on top of a barrel at each end. Inside the closest tent are three knights, sitting around a table playing cards.
After a very brief exchange, one of the knights stands and heads toward you. You can see that he wears a tabard with the symbols of the Knights of Lastwall. "Have your travel papers?" he asks.
After this scene, there will be a series of environmental challenges. The mechanic for those challenges is such:
1. ONE character makes a roll for the 'Set Up' to bypass the challenge. If successful, it will count as a success and grant everyone else a +2 to their own different checks.
2. Everyone else makes their assigned different check to get through the challenge.
3. If you do not think you can reasonably succeed at the check, you can 'Hustle.' Hustling counts as a success, but you must make a Fortitude save or become fatigued.
Hester pulls out his papers and presents them. He notices the border guards casual attitude and card playing, seems pretty calm here.
Just to confirm mechanics: 1) The first character is not allowed to Hustle through the 'set up' phase and 2) Everyone else has to decide if they wish to try their check OR Hustle, with essentially there being no opportunity to Hustle on a failed check.
Olnik buys a holy water. Upon hearing about the poison gas, he decides to also purchase a lesser antidote.
1 holy water from my Training, then 6 gp to buy a holy water & lesser antidote. Stat line and sheet updated.
Olnik passes over the travel papers. "Greetings, Ser Knight. We are off to Goldenflame. Any word of recent activity for us to keep an eye open for, or places to avoid?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
"Well, these look to be in order," the knight says after scanning your travel papers. "There's undead. Everywhere. The Tyrant's got patrols of undead beasts going over the roads, so keep an eye out for them. You don't want the Tyrant's attention brought down on you or you'll be sure to be overwhelmed within the hour as every once dead thing in the region heads toward you."
The knight moves the plank off of the barrels so that you can pass--not that it wouldn't have been just as easy to walk around the barricade. "Iomedae guard you on your way," he says as you pass through.
The 'Set Up' cannot be Hustled. However, if nobody feels as though they can do the 'Set Up,' you can skip the 'Set Up' and everyone just makes the regular check without the possibility of the bonus.
Correct: You have two base methods to overcome an obstacle: Make the Check or Hustle. Your third optional method is the 'Set Up,' which only ONE PC can attempt. Success on a 'Set Up' will grant everyone else a bonus and count as a successful base check.
To avoid delay, everyone may make their rolls (or Hustle) when they're available to post. The first person to make a 'Set Up' check, however, is only one who can make a 'Set Up' check for that obstacle. I will adjust any earlier rolls accordingly. Creativity may also provide a circumstance bonus.
A short while after crossing the border, you come upon a steep rise that blocks the most direct path. The road splits around the hill.
Set Up: Scout ahead for an efficient path (Scouting Lore or Survival)
Hustle: Hurry along the road to get around the hill (Fortitude save).
"Well, guess I'll just peek up ahead a wee bit ..." He moves up and surveys the area, quietly chanting a spell as he does so.
Set Up w/ Survival, using guidance to add a +1 to the roll. I'll be immune to guidance for the next hour.
Survival, guidance: 1d20 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 4 + 1 = 25
I'll assume that was a success, but roll without the bonus
Athletics: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
Hester looks at the steep rise, "I'm not getting over that easily, I'll try to hustle around and catch up with you all." With Olnik's advice, he tries to take a shortcut to reduce the strain of his jog.
Fort + Bonus: 1d20 + 6 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 6 + 2 = 24
Long accustomed to hikes in the wilderness, Tarku and Brick hurry along with Hester via the scouted path.
Fort + bonus: 1d20 + 5 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 5 + 2 = 11
Athletics (T) + Bonus: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 7 + 2 = 13
"I may be pretty solid for a lady, but I can still move like a gazelle!" she exclaims as she attempts to scurry up the steep rise.
While Olnik's does excellent work scouting a short cut across the hill, Tarku, Bella, and Louis (GM Rule #3, #5) still have a hard time making it across the rugged terrain. In the end, Hester actually has to wait for the rest to make their way over the hill.
Twenty minutes later, you spy a massive patrol of undead soldiers coming down the road.
Set Up (optional): Divert the army's attention elsewhere (Deception)
Check: Quietly skirt by the undead (Stealth)
Hustle: Hurry past before the undead's attention is upon you
Not being trained in either lying or sneaking, Olnik hustles his dwarven self as fast as he can.
Fortitude save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Tarku and Brick again attempt to move with haste again, and join Olnik in hurrying past the undead horde.
Hustle Fort check: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Hester attempts to create a false trail to lead the undead patrol away from the group.
Deception (T) Set Up: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
The undead patrol sends a dozen scouts to follow the false trail that Hester created while the rest of you hurry your way out of sight of the rest of the soldiers.
You now find that you must make your way through an area of tall grasses and prickly underbrush in order to make it back to the road.
Set Up (optional): Identify where the underbrush is not as thick (Nature or Survival or applicable lore)
Check: Make your way through the underbrush by either hacking your way through (melee attack roll) or nimbly navigating the path (Acrobatics).
Hustle: Jog the long path around the overgrown area (Fortitude Save).
I would like to cast guidance on whoever does the Set-Up check (likely Tarku has the best modifier)
Melee attack through underbrush: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Tarku, with Brick sniffing at his heels, attempts to find a quick route through the obstruction.
SetUp Nature w guidance: 1d20 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 7 + 1 = 17
|Louis "Jabberjaws" Puddles|
Louis uses his mace to bend the vines as much as he can, allowing himself and some others to pass through, saying-"We have a varied enough group, I'm glad!"-doing his best to keep up morale.
Melee Att Roll: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Hester again just tries to keep up, hustling around the impediment.
Fort: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Melee Attack: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Using her maul, Bella hacks at the underbush.
Bella: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
Hester: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Louis: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Olnik: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Tarku: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Tarku scouts out a less arduous path through the underbrush. Louis and Bella have little trouble smashing their way through the grass and brambles. Olnik, however, slogs through the tangle, managing to step right into the brambles the moment they spring back up from their beating.
Hester takes the long way around and meets the others on the road, but all his rushing has taken its toll. He is covered in sweat and is still working on catching his breath when the others arrive.
Status: Hester is Fatigued
You're tired and can't summon much energy. You take a -1 status penalty to AC and saving throws. While exploring, you can't choose an exploration activity. You recover from fatigue after a full night's rest.
Soon, Goldenflame comes into view. You descent a gently sloping path on your way to the town. Suddenly, everyone (except for Olnik) notices a figure in the distance--too far away to catch--run over the crest of a hill.
As you approach the town, you notice signs of disuse: cracked gutters, dried flower beds, and growing weeds against the flaking wooden walls of the buildings.
Everyone (except Hester) pick an exploration mode to represent your approach to the town.
Hester keeps up, but seems to be battling to catch his breath. He spends most of his time sticking with the group and trying to stretch out his sore muscles.
Olnik moves ahead of the group, surveying anything he can find about the area.
Scout activity: Everyone gets +1 to initiative (when it applies). Also, my mace is drawn.
Seeing Olnik take a wide circuit of Goldenflame to warn them of any approaching dangers, Tarku and Brick edge forward directly into the town, examining the gutters, weeds, and other assorted foliage for any signs of malign influence beyond normal neglect.
Investigate (Nature): You seek out information about your surroundings while traveling at half speed. You use Recall Knowledge as a secret check to discover clues among the various things you can see and engage with as you journey along. You can use any skill that has a Recall Knowledge action while Investigating, but the GM determines whether the skill is relevant to the clues you could find.
|Louis "Jabberjaws" Puddles|
Louis will lay down low, trying his best to remain unseen from anyone looking to ambush them. His big form seems to move swiftly through the overgrowth.
Avoid Notice! Stealth check bonus is +4
Hatrabella simply keeps an eye out for dangers.
Search, +6 perception, darkvision.
Bella: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 6 + 1 = 8
Hester: 1d20 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 3 + 1 = 23
Louis: 1d20 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 4 + 1 = 22
Olnik: 1d20 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 7 + 1 = 23
Tarku: 1d20 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 7 + 1 = 16
Horse: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
A: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (3) + 0 = 3
B: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (1) + 0 = 1
C: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11
D: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (14) + 0 = 14
Other Perception Check
Bella: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
Hester: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Louis: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Olnik: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Tarku: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Wow. Those were some crummy NPC rolls.
Olnik moves forward to get the lay of the area before waving the others forward. He spies a zombie horse--its flesh rotting and falling from its bone--walking erratically around the fountain in the center of town. A moment later, it spies him. It snorts and lets out a rasping whinny through a tattered gash in its throat. Several large, humanoid zombies in tattered clothes emerge from behind walls and dried hedges.
The Pathfinders, however, have the jump... most of them.
Environmental Note: Squares containing Hedges are Difficult Terrain.
Encounter Mode! Round 1. Bold may act.
Shambler Blue Circle
Shambler Red Circle
Shambler Blue Square
Shambler Red Square
Action 1: Religion check to identify creatures. Specifically, looking to identify resistances and weaknesses.
Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Action 2: cast inspire courage: +1 to attack, damage, saves vs. fear
Action 3: cast shield
Olnik looks around at the large creatures converging on the Pathfinders. "Looks like we got a fight on our hands ... Stand strong." He begins chanting in Dwarven, patting his drum with his off hand. Despite the threat, you feel a courage swell within you. As he chants, the air in front of him tangibly shimmers, as if the sound itself is forming a barrier around him.