Pathfinder! You've received an urgent summons to travel to a small town in the heart of Echo Wood in the River Kingdoms. According to the letter, a town named Thornkeep is undergoing evaluation as the possible site of a new Pathfinder Lodge in the area given recent troubles in Daggermark. Venture-Captain Adril Hestram has taken up lodgings at the Greenforest Inn there and is preparing a report on whether there are sufficient resources and local sites of interest. But disaster has struck several teams previously sent to assist him. It seems that Thornkeep itself is something of a den of thievery and murder, and a nearby ancient complex dating to the days of ancient Azlant hold terrifying dangers for those who would delve its secrets.
Riding his pony up the worn dirt road, Spackle finally arrives at gates of the small town. Huh. So, this is Thornkeep. Not the worst place The Society has sent me. The bard wastes no time finding the appointed Inn. Cayden, Ah'm a hopin' this place has a wee shrine to ya, as Ah'm more's a bit thirsty from all o' this ridin'. Spackle liked to think that he and The Drunken Hero shared something of a bond. He's convinced that the two would have made fast friends if only they had a chance to meet before the man's ascension.
After arranging for space in the stable, the gnome enters into the common room of the Greenforest. With a nod of approval, "Well now, it's certainly alot more looking from the inside, that's ta be sure." In short order, he makes his way to the bar. Flaggin over the barkeep, "Afternoon lad. Here's what Ah'm lookin fer. The perfect foamin' mug o' yer best ale. Cayden got me here without so much as a blister, 'n Ah reckin' it's only right ta show my 'preciation o' his lookin' out fer me. So, can ya help me with this? Can ya give me the best the house has on tap? Ah'd be mighty grateful. And ifin ya get a chance, can ya have the chef send out sumthin' meaty? I hear this place has a great beef stew, 'n a fresh loaf ta sop it up with. Thanks lad."
His order placed, he finally relaxes. Anyone observing closely might notice the fine chain shirt under his travelling clothes. Though he has a whip and rapier on his belt, they do not shown signs of a great deal of wear. The one piece of equipment that one would take notice of is the fine bow strapped to his pack. The finely crafted bow looks like it comes from the North, or the land of Belkzen itself. Thunderclouds are carefully etched into the flexible horn of some great beast. Spackle looks down at the hornbow. Ain't had ya long, but you've been makin' muh life easier ta be sure.
Spackle takes a long swig as soon as the tankard is set in front of him. He offers a smile as he slides a few coins toward the man. "Now THAT was worth the ride out here lad. Anythin' else ya got is gonna be gravy. Keep 'em comin' fer a bit an' you 'n I 'll be right a rain." With that, he sits back and waits for the others to arrive.
Bom and pet of Bom, otherwise known as Ulfur, arrive at the Greenwood Inn.
Thornkeep, a small town of around 500 people, lies about 10 miles from the broad, sluggish West Sellen River that winds through Echo Wood. As you approach the town, you can tell instantly that it’s a disorderly, ramshackle affair huddling on a low hill beneath the bramble-covered walls of a castle that’s also in poor repair. It’s clear no planning went into the town, as warehouses, homes, pigsties, and more appear mixed together around winding dirt tracks.
Before making the journey, you may have learned a little more about Thornkeep if you make a successful Knowledge (local) or Diplomacy (Gather Information) check with the following DCs. (Rephrasing and sharing this information in your character’s voice can be a good prompt for some introductory role-playing.)
There does seem to be a town green of some sort, but with recent spring rains it’s little more than open patch of muddy ground at the foot of the road leading up the hill to the castle. An unconscious man, hands tied with rawhide strips, is sprawled in the center of the field. Several businesses can be found at the edge of the green, and one of them is the Greenforest Inn mentioned in the letter. The inn and taphouse has fieldstone walls and finely carved woodwork adorning its posts and eaves. It looks like a respectable place, especially given its surroundings. Once you enter, a balding, middle-aged man with a mustache like a bristle brush welcomes you in. ”Reckon you must be the newcomers Adril’s expecting. He should be down for lunch in a moment. What an appetite! You can wait in the backroom. I’ll bring out some platters and pitchers. Oh, name’s Shandar by the way. If you hear someone yelling from the kitchen, that’ll be my wife Jalia.”
|Henry "Hal" Lancaster|
Henry Lancaster rides into Thornkeep. It reminds him of a place, of a time not too far off from his memory. A place where he was welcomed into thievery, heavy drinking, and debauchery. Henry gives a pleasant and satisfied sigh.
"It's not home, but it's close enough for today."
Local: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
"If I'm not mistaken, I recall something about a Baron Tervin Blackshield, a leader of some riff raff outlaws. But I'm sure he won't be too much of a nuisance."
Henry makes his way to the Greenforest Inn. For a moment he thinks he sees his old friend the knight laughing and drinking by fireplace.
"No. He and I have not seen each other for quite some time. Oh, well. I'm sure I'll find myself in trouble all on my own."
Patrons look at him as he enters. After all, he is a were-tiger skin walker.
"Good evening, Shandar. Glad to meet you. I am one of those newcomers, as you said. I'll head to the backroom to join any others and await Adril. Also, please send back a nice farmhouse ale and a hot bowl of .. whatever pleases you. I'm sure it will be delightful"
Bom and pet of Bom had spent some time talking to the locals. Bom was an affable guy. Longish dark hair, Ulfen features, and typical wolf companion.
Gather Info: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Bom shares what he knows.
"I suspect the thieves guild will expect us to pay them off if not rob us outright on the way to or from Thornkeep. Sounds like fun. I find a spiked shield to the face makes a greater opener in diplomatic discussions. Bom slams his spiked shield on the ground an erupts in laughter.
Bom makes a mental note to visit to the temple of Gorum and pay his respect to his diety.
Xilt tries to remember anything he might have read about this small town.
KS(Local): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (6) + 13 = 19
"Sorry. I don't recall anything more of interest. It is clearly not a town of any import."
Xilt's little friend hovers in the background. He attempts to show up his master in a display of knowledge.
KS(local): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
While the small Mephit clearly knows a little about the town. He tries to tell a tiny fib to lighten the mood.
"Clearly this town was the birthplace of Cayden Cailean. Some days it is said that he might appear as a ghostly reflection in the pub's mirror."
Bluff: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Spackle's and Born's entrance provoke no comment, though the latter's wolf certainly raises a few of the patron's eyebrows. But a loud crash can be heard when Henry strides into the room and causes a young, handsome server to drop a tray and let out a panicked shriek. Even in a place like Thornkeep, humanoid tigers aren't seen everyday! Shandar intervenes quickly. "Please excuse young Edders. Adril told us his company might be . . . unusual. Why, just last week, there was some kind of lizard . . . person. I'll make sure your ale is sent to the backroom."
Xilt doesn't see any other half-orcs in the inn's common room, but they must not be unusual in the area as none of the locals pay him any particular attention. Tzleztor receives some stares and hushed whispers.
Town gossipers will certainly have their work cut out for themselves today.
Xilt and Tzletztor communicate in some sort of strange language of their own making. After a while Xilt asks Shandar.
"Do you happen to have a Fletcher in town? I would not mind buying a quiver to store my bow or rather my friend's bow. He tires of carrying it in hand all day."
Shandar strokes his chin and squints. "Can't say we really have a fletcher, in the professional sense. But I reckon you'd find a quiver easily enough at the new trading post just west of Brokenhelm Hill, across the stream. Keep two eyes and a hand on your coin purse though! I ain't one to spread gossip, but more than one pickpocket has been seen spending time there." Shandar nods and hurries over to welcome a trio of armored figures who have come in, each of whom wears a badge bearing a stylized six-legged blue reptilian.
Xilt nods at the man's instructions.
He eyes the badges wondering if it looks like a variant of a Behir.
Dat enters near the other odd people watching and listening but not saying anything. With him comes a Deinotherium a strange elephant-like creature. Dat scratches him behind the ears.
Dat is dressed in just pelts and a backpack stuffed to the brim with helpful items.
Before long you all hear a bellowing figure tromping down the stairs, and moments later Adril Hestram bursts into the back room with a wide grin on his face. A veritable bear of a man, he slaps you warmly on the back as he makes his way to the table that’s now covered in platters of cheeses, roast mutton, and bread. ”Pathfinders! he almost roars. ”Welcome to Thornkeep! We have much to discuss. But pleasure before business. Please, eat and make merry. In our line of work, each meal could be the last, and that may hold truer here than anywhere else!” With that, he downs a tankard of ale without taking a breath and then takes to the meal with great avidity.
After everyone has had their fill and the table has been cleared, Adril sets his tankard down on the table with a definitive thump. ”Ah, the Greenforest Inn. There’s much to make life in Thornkeep miserable, but this place is the silver lining. Now, I don’t know how much you’ve been told about this town. In the past, the Society has generally steered clear of it, given its well-deserved reputation as a den of thievery and back-alley murder. But certain unfortunate events in Daggermark have necessitated research into whether a lodge should be opened elsewhere in the River Kingdoms, and I’ve been assigned to prepare a report on whether Thornkeep could be a viable location. For the town itself, you don’t need to know much more than not to travel alone and not to trust a local’s helping hand, because the other hand probably holds a knife. I’ve even had to swallow my pride and retain a local mercenary group, the Blue Basilisks, to provide some additional security for the Society’s agents.”
Adril looks disgruntled for a moment, but continues.
“In addition to its location, there are two things that make Thornkeep an intriguing possibility for a new Society lodge. First, there’s that striking tower of green glass just a few miles to the southwest. It’s doubtless ancient in origin and worthy of an extensive expedition if we ever figure out a way in. But the second thing, and more relevant to you, is that it turns out that Thornkeep itself is built around an underground complex dating to the days of Azlant! The ‘Halls Under the Hill’ or ‘Accursed Halls’, as the locals call them, were once thought to just be a forgotten oubliette from that castle where the current baron resides. But since my arrival, I’ve been sending delve teams and they’ve reported the Halls are far more extensive and contain far more value, in terms of history and artifacts, than we ever imagined!”
His eyes have lit up, as he continues.
”From what we’ve been able to pierce together, the Halls were once the redoubt of an outcast who fled or was exiled from Azlant at the empire’s height thousands of years ago. The fellow’s name was Nhur Athemon, and he was clearly a powerful wizard—maybe a summoner for those of you interested in the intricacies of magic, which I’m not. Anyway, Athemon filled the complex with a storehouse of arcana: previous teams have uncovered alchemical laboratories, a powerful scrying pool, a magical door that took us ages to figure out how to unlock, and far more. But the Halls aren’t just an unattended storehouse . . .”
Adril looks away, sadly.
”The place is full of dangers—-both animate guardians and cleverly-concealed traps. Some of the creatures must have moved into the place relatively recently, but other obstacles clearly date to the time of Azlant and must have been placed by Nhur Athemon himself! The truth is, you’re here because several members of previous teams didn’t make it out of the Halls alive. I won’t sugarcoat the matter for you, and I don’t want you to let your guard down. You might dispatch a solitary goblin in one room and then accidentally stick your hand in a bag of devouring in the next! I can’t figure out a rhyme or reason to the place.”
Adril pulls out a hand-drawn map and places it on the table.
”As you can see, the complex seems to consist of multiple levels, like an inverted tower. The level I want you to explore is the deepest one we’ve figured out how to access so far. So, if you still want it, the job is simple. Explore, report, cooperate . . . and stay alive. Any questions?”
Xilt turns to Adril.
"Are there items of interest that you wish us to retrieve on this level or is it simply a matter of removing undesirables from such close proximity to this town?"
"Also when should we set out to do this task?"
|Henry "Hal" Lancaster|
Henry nods as he hears the story.
"Sounds like a suicide mission... I'm in. I am Henry Lancaster. Dragon slayer. Future king. And one devilish good looking fellow. But you can call me 'Hal.'
You speak of some baddies down there. Any idea what we would be going up against? Types of monsters? Any particular dangers come to mind we can prepare for? Oh, and do you think you could hire some of those blue scale mercs you spoke of to go with us? Meat shields and all."
Bom not BoRN Looks at the map. "Undead...are there any undead reported in the dungeon? And traps..."
Bom looks at the party,
"Do we have any trap finders?"
The whimsical mephit points to the monosyllabic spouting Pathfinder labelled 'Stop Dat'.
"He might be good for springing traps. He looks hardy enough."
"No. Bad." Scolds the Dwarf.
He thinks hard for a second. "Dat know where danger." he finally says. He holds up a folding pole. "Danger stick.
Dat walks over to Xilt and hands him a wand, "Magic stick.
On the wand, it says "Please don't let Dat die." and on the other side it says, "Please keep mage armour on him (command word 'Magic stick')
As an odd rp experiment Dat started out with a hand full of words in his vocabulary he leans one more each session. This is due to years of isolation. He is in fact very good at finding traps, but not disarming them.
Adril listens to the questions and conversation. He opens a window, belches out of it loudly, and then returns.
He turns to the half-orc first. ”There’s nothing specific I need you to bring back, in part because I have absolutely no idea what you’ll find there! If you manage to sweep the area, draw up a basic map, and deal with any obvious threats, I’ll be happy. If you find entrances to other levels of the vault, note them on the map but don’t enter. And don’t feel like you have to press on if you get hurt or fatigued. There’s no hurry with this mission—-the vault has been there for millennia, and isn’t going anywhere. As for when to start? Well, that’s up to you. Like I said, there’s no hurry as long as the Decemvirate doesn’t get too impatient for my report.”
Adril turns toward the tiger-headed fellow. ”Nice to meet you, Hal. Dragon slayer and future king, eh? Well, I’m not normally one for mixing with nobility, but welcome all the same. As for the type of creatures you might encounter, pretty much the only thing I can rule out is natural animals. They’d have no way in or out that far underground. Though when it comes to wizards, who knows! As for the Blue Basilisks, I’ve retained them to keep an eye on things within the town. You know, to make sure no one sneaks into your chamber at night and slits your throat. But they won’t come with us on delves--at least not without additional payments I just can’t afford.”
”Now, Bom is it? You must be from the north like me! Well, I can certainly confirm that undead have been spotted elsewhere in the Halls. Why, the first party I sent in lost half their number to wights and shadows! And another team reported various magical traps, like statues that blew you across the room or sucked you in to smash against them. Reminds me of my own delves in the siege castles around Absalom. Ah, those were the days . . . But anyway, none of those teams went to the level you’ve been assigned, so I just don’t know. But as a general rule, I’d be prepared for both traps and undead anytime going through ancient ruins.”
”If you fellows have got any other questions, please ask away. Rooms have been booked for you upstairs, and Shandar and his family will make sure you’re taken care of. Just don’t complain about the cooking! His wife is meaner than an erinyes devil when provoked!”
Xilt turns to Adril.
"Well setting off first thing tomorrow morning makes sense to me. It will let us prepare and will not delay your report. Do you know if there is a hedge wizard or sorts in this town? The Exchange does provide us with some coin for preparations on our missions as it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Also do you have a scrap of parchment and a pencil or pastel to draw that map that you wanted?"
He turns to the others.
"A quick trip to the store to buy some supplies would not be a bad idea either. I can pick up a quiver of arrows. Does anyone have any rope? I find that it is always useful in a pinch."
Can you buy any spell casting services in this town? My character does have a slush fund of 50 gold for non-permanent expenses so it is use it or lose it. ;)
|Henry "Hal" Lancaster|
”Yes, a good night’s rest and a trip to the market would be quite beneficial. Before you know it, we will be back from this delve, sharing ale around the table, and recounting the daring adventure ahead of us.”
Limitations on buying gear in town?
Dat shivers at the mention of "wights and shadows" as he narrowly defeated them on the second crew through.
Dat is good with shopping and rest. He will just happily follow along.
Dat walks around offering everyone their pick from some of his stuff.
Holy water (2), acid (10), alchemist fire (8), wand of mage armor, wand of longstrider, wand of cure light wounds, wand of endure elements, smoke pellet, smog (6).
Sorry for my disappearance. Odd few days. However, I am back.
"Oi now, that sounds as ifin we're gonna need ta be at the top'uv our game. Still, not see'in it as too much of a problem." Hoisting a mug of ale, "To us!" He then starts emptying the tankard.
In response to Xilt’s question, Adril says ”There’s a resident apothecary and potion-brewer who might fit the bill. Her name’s Brishtargera Greenbottle and she lives northeast of town near the bridge. Shandar put me on to her one morning when I was feeling a bit out of sorts from one too many the night before. She likes to talk, that gnome does, but her concoction worked wonders for my headache. Now if you’re looking for proper spellcasting, there’s the guild tower for the Goldenfire Order that overlooks the pond north of here. They’re a bit prickly though, and tend to see visitors more as impositions than customers.”
Thornkeep is classified as a small town. According to the settlement stat block, you'll have a 75% chance of finding magic items valued at 1400 gp or less in Thornkeep. Maximum level of spellcasting services here, per the Guide, are spells that cast 3000 gp or less to cast. If anyone intends to use Prestige Points to make purchases, keep in mind this is a small town (population 630) and so the 5 PP surcharge applies.
|Henry "Hal" Lancaster|
Hal looks around for magic items at the market, but can't find the item he is looking for.
"Hmmm. This town doesn't have quite what I'm looking for. Perhaps I will find what I need while on the adventure itself."
Hal heads back to the inn for some rest, waiting for the group to head out.
Ready to go.
Bom will look to purchase an Oil of Bless weapon. After that, Bom is ready to go. He prepares the following spells.
1. Resist Energy.
2. Resist Energy.
Providing the keep is less than an hour away,, Bom will put longstrider on himself and Ulfer. He will also put Shield Companion on Ulfur and ask someone to put Mage Armor on Ulfer. Bom will replenish those spells every hour. Upon entering Thornkeep, Bom will hit himself with Heightened Awareness.
With preparations completed, you and your allies follow Adril Hestram’s map and instructions. Adril’s route has you trudging northwest from the town square until you reach the base of a large hill. Instead of climbing it, however, you’re to follow its curve around to the west. When you see a stepping-stone crossing across the river (that happens to have a couple of goblins trawling for junk with fishing nets), you then turn east and follow a barely visible, overgrown trail. There, under the bluffs of Broken Hill, a wide crevice leads into the hillside revealing a pair of enormous stone columns built into the rocky walls. You’ve reached the entrance to the Halls Under the Hill!
A route earned through the blood of several previous teams of Pathfinders leads through chamber after chamber of a vault constructed millennia ago but somehow still mostly intact. The Azlanti arcanist Nhur Athemon’s magical prowess must have been extraordinary, and these “Accursed Halls” stand testament to his power. After descending some distance underground, you reach the spiral carefully noted on the map Adril gave you—stairs that lead to an unexplored level of the complex.
The stairs lead down to a room that’s about twenty feet wide. Although much of the complex you’ve traversed so far was completely dark, here, torches somehow still burn brightly, held by elegant stands in each corner of the room. A closed stone door takes up half of the western wall. The first thing that catches your eye is a scuffed circle of bluish-white chalk marked on the floor in one part of the room, filled with strange sigils and runes. The second thing is the flickering, gray image of a metal helmet that seems to be floating silently in the center of the chamber. As you enter, you hear the deep tolling of a large bell. The sound echoes through the room, but no bell is visible.
The helmet begins to move, floating silently through the chamber, until it settles next to Xilt’s shoulder!
Notes: We’re in normal light, and you can assume that holds until I tell you otherwise. The map is now up in the “Maps & Handouts” link—please go ahead and place your minis (including pets—it might be crowded!) in the room that’s to the top right of the slide. Please note that west is “down” on the map. If any of you have ongoing buffs, I’m happy to assume you cast them just prior to entering this chamber. If their duration is measured is one round or one minute per level, I’ll keep a rough tracker and let you know when they’re about to expire. If their duration is 10 minutes or 1 hour per level, I’ll assume they last the duration of this adventure unless you decide to do something like rest (or another activity that takes up a lot of time).
Bom would have used Heightened Awareness prior and all his other buffs.. He'll trade in the bonus for an Init bonus whenever that comes up.
The map is view only
Arcana vs DC 25: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Arcana vs DC 13: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25 Question 1: What is it? Question 2: Special Attacks
"Alright, either ah'm too drunk 'r too sober. Y'all kin see that floatin' bucket that won't be holdin' no water, right?"
Bom, not sure what is going on attempts to figure it out as he draws his sword.
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
Bom laughs, "Ha. Ain't that like some wizard to put this in here to make a bunch of tomb raiders piss their pants."
But Bom doesn't seem all that convinced he's right and grips his sword a little tighter.
Don't know if the Spellcraft roll does anything here, so I haven't looked at the spoilers.
Xilt makes a brief visit to the trading post to purchase a quiver of cold iron arrows for his Mephit companion. He also arranges with a local priest to cast a spell of protection (Delay Poison) prior to their departure.
Total cost will be 12 gp due to spell costs being mostly absorbed by his slush fund.
Xilt casts a series of protective magics the night before on himself and his Mephit extending their duration with his rod.
False Life, CL 9,Potent Magic,Extended Xilt: 1d10 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
False Life, CL 9,Potent Magic,Extended Mephit: 1d10 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
Ablative Barrier,CL 9, Potent Magic, Extended on Xilt
Once they reach the site. He casts Heightened Awareness and Heroism Extended on himself. He reaches into his bag and pulls out two scrolls. He proceeds to cast Mage Armor on himself and his companion.
With his mind so sharpened by magic he easily is able to identify the Circle and the Helmet.
His take 10 on Arcana is now 28.
Three additional questions on the Helmet are 1)Is it related in any way to the summoning circle? 2)How is it activated? 3)Any magical powers/SLA.
Almost as an afterthought Xilt chews down a Blood Boiling Pill. He then draws forth his rod of intensify.
The small mephit flies around quite contently. He is very proud of his new quiver which holds his small bow.
"So are we going to go in soon? I am quite excited at the prospect."
Those of you using wands, potions, scrolls, etc., the usual polite reminder to make sure you remember to deduct expendables from your inventory tracking sheets/character encumbrance sheets.
Bom shrugs, "Mr. Helmet. Are you here to help us?"
"I suppose we ought to get on with it then." Bom turns to Lancaster, "You want to check the door for traps and such?"
While/if the rogue does his thing, Bom listen's for any movement in the next room.
Perception w HA: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (15) + 13 = 28