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.
A tall half-orc woman casually lounges against a fig tree, occasionally plucking a fruit from a high branch. She is clad in well-used, hand-tanned deer hides, and a wide brimmed hat protects her from the desert's sun. A large backpack with a carefully wrapped rapier and cased bow stands at her feet.
Thank you, Venture-Captain. I'm glad for this opportunity to work for the Society. Work has been... scarce since I came to Osirion. I ain't much of an archaeologist myself, to be fair, but I'll happily help as I can with the excavation. Carrying rocks and working underground... well, that much I am used to.
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Spitting out a fig what moments ago was hastily stuffed into his mouth, a small goblin (who is small even for a goblin) retches a little cluthing his stomach with a single hand - the other dragging behind him an overly-complex crossbow looking to be about twice-and-a-half his height and probably weighing a ton - and announces himself.
"Longshanks nasty beans taste like licking poisoncane" he complains "But Briney not mad - Briney happy to help" he walks over to Neera - the sound of metal scraping harshly against the ground and leaving an ungainly scratch mark "Hi Nice Orc Lady - we friends now" waving to her despite being within handshake distance - then randomly "Hot here" wiping the sweat from his oversized head - perhaps half his body mass!? - eyes brightly taking in every detail of the surrounding scape - and listens to Norden Balentiir - getting suddenly excited at the only kind of paper-function he deems not a waste "Ooh Ooh! Can Briney see Map?"
Reaching greedily as like a child for the last cookie in the jar!
Neera smiles uncertainly at the exuberant goblin and waves back.
Hi... friend Briney. Glad to have you with us. Not a fan of the desert, hu? I'd like to say that you get used to it... but I think that'd be lying. Been here for nearly six months, and the place would make me miss the Darklands if people weren't... so much more welcoming here.
She follows Briney to the table, squinting as she leaves the comfortable shade of the fig trees, then awkwardly navigating around the giant crossbow blocking her path. What is this thing? And how the hell will he ever manage to shoot it? By Gorum, I hope that Norden knows what he is doing sending us there.
She then turns to Norden.
This is, purely digging and exploring then, I gather? Or have the Osiriani allowed us to bring you back objects of potential historical interest?
A young man with vulpine head and wagging tail behind arrives at the scene. His milky white fur with dark shades covers all his body, visible on parts not covered with cloth. He nods to the venture-captain and gives him a charming fox smile before he introduces himself. ”Delta Variant is my name, dear Venture-Captain,”
”Thank you for having us here. Such a cozy place,” he says as he scans around the place. ”Anyway, what would you like us to find in the excavation, any in particular? Or are there threats awaiting us that we need to be taken aware of?” he continues.
Decaine grabs a fig from the table, rolling it between the palms of his hands - applying pressure in a methodical, almost ritualistic, way.
The pressure causes the piece of fruit to shatter, revealing pinkish flesh inside.
Something arcane is sure to be found underneath the buried kingdom of the God-King.
The Varisian's armor is covered in a large cape. A shield bearing a heraldic representation of Nethys strapped on his back.
What caused these people to change their mind on foreigners anyway?, Decaine wonders, chewing on a piece of fig.
Sorry. Here now.
The other half orc at the table just grabs several dates as the other talk and shoves them into her mouth. She considers the taste, then spits the seeds into her hands and wipes them into her outfit. She looks at Balentiir. "Will you want to use these in your garden?", as she offers four seeds on her palm.
If not, she will put them into one of her pockets for later.
She has messy, gray hair, almost forming dreadlocks, and is dressed in hardened leather, with multiple pelts attached to the shoulders, forming somewhat of a cape.
"Lifting rocks in a heatwave, I can manage. What else is there do do in this dig site, besides being wary of snakes and scorpions? I assume the Pathfinders have other interests here. Do we know anything about the location?"
Waiting for @Mr Tea to join, then I'll make the Quest progress.
"Osirian has fascinating history. Gods and monsters, beings who refused to stay dead. Couldn't turn down this mission."
The shimmering, silver-blue kobold turns to look at his new companions. He is tall for a kobold, standing around 3'4" with a long tail as well. He wears purple-dyed studded leather armour. There is a spring in his step.
"You all look talented and up for a challenge. I'm Pasqualek. Call me Pasq. Conduit to the positive plane."
The Venture-Captain takes a sip from his cup, Of course the Society has further interests in the tomb than solely excavate it, but before sending scholars to check and catalogue every single item in the complex we need to make them able to get inside the place.
The desert is full of dangers, from gigantic insects to the burning sun, and Osirian tombs are also usually filled with traps, vermin, animated guardians, and undead, so keep your wits about you and be prepared for anything.
The government has agreed to work with the Society to explore the ancient burial sites of the Nation, they can use our archaeological expertise and we can surely get something good by searching these troves of ancient knowledge. But this agreement is not yet solid as the stones you're going to explore, so be careful not to antagonize the local authorities, this is very important, crucial even I would say.
We don't know much about what's inside the place, only the very top portion has been revealed by the shifting sands, so it's up to you to discover who's tomb is it. Or if it's even a tomb, from what we know.
"So what you are saying is - there will be local authorities at the excavation site?", Channary seems curious. "Are the locals guarding shifting dunes?"
She pauses. "I'm not opposed to it, just surprised."
Yes, there should be some guards at the site, making sure no one but Pathfinders will excavate and enter the dig site. The Venture-Captain takes a big bite at the plumpy fig in his hand, I can't stress this enough, but please don't antagonize them, we need to keep the dealings with the Osirian authorities as good as we can, or they on't let us in their buried secrets anymore.
Neera longingly looks at Decaine's Wayfinder.
I hope that we do not ALL need one to enter... the Society hasn't given me one of those yet.
If you'll excuse the question, Venture-Captain... you do seem awfully focused on the risk of us ruffling the guards' feathers. Do you have any reason to think that they would be ill-disposed towards us, or cause us trouble if we do not walk carefully? Or is there anything special that we should know about Osirian to avoid giving offense, beyond common courtesy?
Showing your wayfinders won't be enough, so I'm sending you there with an official written permit from the Osirian office. He handles you a piece of paper, looks pretty official. You shouldn't need to show any wayfinder at all, in fact, that piece of paper should get you access to the digging site by itself.
The Venture-Captain looks at Neera, I'm stressing this out because if we lose our peculiar agreement with the Osiriani Government we can say farewell to any further digging in these landas. I hope I don't have to explain to a group of Pathfinders how crucial it is for the Society that this agreement won't go to waste. You don't have to be absurdly carefully with your wording or follow any particular custom with the guards, just don't go there as you own the place and treat them as menial laborers. Respect them, and they'll respect you.
Channary nods. "What's the saying? Walk softly, but carry a big stick?", she smiles and taps her walking staff with her fingertips. A rather long one, slightly bent in multiple places by nodes.
"Briney not need Longshanks Silly Map" ignored - but somewhat accustomed to it, his crime being, well, a goblin, and, well, a short one at that - short even for a goblin! - his attention span quickly rides to the next distraction - he turns his heels on the Venture-Captain, and goes around to meet everyone he hasn't already met.
To Delta Variant "Hi White Foxy Doctor!" noticing his med kit "Briney knows science too!"
To Decaine Reed "Hi Holy No Face Man!" pointing to his shield "Briney stand behind and keep back safe!"
To Channary "Hi, umm, Other Nice Orc Lady!" he adds a thoughtful comment "You smell like Outside!"
To Pasqualek "Hi Little Holy Man Dragon!" he points to a bottle on his belt "Briney like be Dragon too!"
Having run his circle amid the bunch, he returns to Neera "Briney ready when Nice Orc Lady ready!" unable to hold still, he begins to set forth into the desert sands, sweating profusely as the heat of his disproportionally large head compounds in the sweltering heat of day!
Delta nods to the goblin. "Ah, hello!" he says in response while smoothing his whiskers. "Perhaps we should go now. For sure we'll find more from the site, don't you think?" he asks. "Briney is ready, so am I." he adds, wagging his dirty white tail.
You may want to wait until dusk or dawn to set out to travel through the desert says the Venture-Captain, the heat could be fatal if you have no mean to prevent it. There's no immediate rush to get to the digging site, the guards are keeping everyone but Pathfinders at a distance, so you can avoid the hottest hours to fare through the dunes. He bites a fig, then adds Well, maybe don't wait too long, the guards are indeed doing us a favor, try not to waste their time.
"Very important to be properly dressed. Lots of loose layers. SHould I get a walking staff? Maybe that will make me look the part. Let's hope we have no need for dragon breath!" Pasq will wrap himself like a desert dweller and get hold of a walking staff.
Neera passes a dry piece of cloth to the sweating Briney.
I believe I'm good to go as well. I wouldn't mind a moonlight hike in the desert. The night sky is beautiful out there, and the weather so much more bearable.
But if some of you do not enjoy the desert nights, we can certainly wait for dusk.
...seconds later, Briney hands back the now-soaked piece of cloth to "Thanks Nice Orc Lady!" and paces back and forth impatiently until it's time...
"Ah - thank you... Briney?" Channary sniffs her hides. "A well placed compliment from one as-", she seems to be looking for words. "-distinguished! As yourself..."
She looks around the room. "Sorry, I don't mean to be impolite, I just don't do... crowds. Working on it, however."
She offers an awkward light bow. "I am Channary of the Flood Road. Nice to meet all of you. Mister Balentiir, I believe the gob-", she stops herself mid-word. "Briney here wanted to look at your map. I would also like that. Are we allowed?"
"Briney proud extinguished gobbo" our short impatient and impulsive hero assures Channary, his pronunciation a near-miss "Other Nice Orc Lady can call Briney 'the goblin' Briney not angry with Other Nice Orc Lady!"
"If it's all the same to you, Briney, I will use your name. It's a bad habit I am trying to get rid of. In return, you can call me by mine - Channary.", she smiles at him. With a certain degree of awkwardness.
Dusk comes soon, and you set out to travel the desert with a cool evening breeze.
You travel the whole night, and with the first lights of dawn come into sight of the digging site.
As you approach though, something doesn't look right: the site seems to have already been dug up, there is an entrance to the ruins already excavated, a canvas fence positioned to avoid more sand getting into it.
When you approach you see a guard sit under a tarp, looking clearly bored, as well as other two men napping in the shade. The woman stands up and addresses your group.
So, more Pathfinders eh?Where have you been all this time? It's not very "cooperative" to wait until all the hard labor has been done to show up she scowls at you annoyed. I'm Officer Elrekah, show me your papers so I can confirm you're with the expedition.
Channary remains in the back, looking at the situation, and ponders. "Hello!", she greets the guard as she is peering at the documentation. "Sorry, but ... Is the other group still here? Can we speak with them?"
Okay, your papers look fine the woman says, handing back the papers to Neera, The chief of your expedition is down there, in the ruins. He doesn't come up frequently, I have to say, seems like he took residence in those dusty chambers.
The others left as soon as they finished digging up the entrance, guess they weren't that into studying old stones.
This all started well over a month ago, but your boss has been down there only for a week, more or less. The other Pathfinders spent much time digging up and securing the entrance Elrekah explains. Are you sure you are with this expedition? You act like you knew nothing about this... She looks suspiciously at the group, thinking, Let me see your papers once again, please.
"Okay Other Nice Orc La-" "Um" "Channy!" pronunciation was never Briney's strong suit.
Scared of the desert, our goblin hero drags the contraption behind him, carving a wake in the sand behind him, making the party unnecessarily easy to tail - were they being followed - but also, wind-dependent, leaving a clear path back to the home base - if they had needed to turn back - and finally, creating additional drag upon his small body, raising his already sweaty temperature to critical levels, reddening the greenish tone of his skin, and overall, creating one of the most miserable travel experiences of his short life!
The prospect of finally arriving does, however, brighten his spirits - he rushes to Channary's defense "You better answer Nice Channy's questions Mean Guard Lady!" and though he doesn't raise his crossbow to her (because "Silly Longshanks sed 'dont untagonize the guards'"), he does eyeball her person, looking to see what weapons she may be carrying amongst her effects "We don't need Silly Papers!" he wasn't quite sure he knew what "to antagonize" meant, but he was pretty sure it simply meant "to shoot"...
Make an Impression (Diplomacy, Trained): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Oh, that's alright Briney... our friend here is only doing her job. Being thorough is commendable, when guarding a site of such cultural and historical importance. I am sure that she will give the same scrutiny to the other group's papers, and that we can all together clear up this misunderstanding.
Neera leaves her papers at the guard's disposal, if she chooses to reinspect them.
Well, I already HAVE scrutinized the other group's papers. They've been here for more than a month, as I've said, and their papers are all in order Elrekah says while checking again the party's papers, as seems to be yours, she handles the papers back once again.
Well, I guess you want to talk to the chief, then go on, down those stairs, she indicates the entrance, he should be down there somewhere.
Before going down the ruins, you can all read the handout on slide #7.
Delta's smile widens as the conversation goes. He begins to think something is odd but can know what. He just responds to Pasqualek's comment. "Indeed." he says, while maintaining his wide grin.
Yep... if those first Pathfinders are who they say they are, the Society will look like a bunch of disorganized idiots. But that might still be the best outcome. If they looted the place in the name of the Society, not antagonizing the guards will be the smallest of our diplomatic worries.
Anyway... let's go see if we can figure out who that Chief of theirs truly is?
Everyone who's going down in the ruins, please place your token on the map on slide #8.
"Longshanks talks too much!"
Angered and agitated and impulsive, Briney the Younger descends into the cave.
Exploration: Investigate but That's Odd
PFS Note: GMs should provide a character with the That’s Odd investigator feat a hint whenever the character enters a room with hidden aspects, specifically with regard to hidden passageways (such as scuff marks near a bookcase that’s actually a swinging door), creatures or hazards (such as drippage on the floor from an unseen fungus growing on the rafters), or valuables (such as bunched carpet over a secret compartment in the floor that contains a bag of coins). The GM does not need to provide clues for rooms that have no significant secret or hidden features. These clues should indicate only that the character should investigate a given section of the room, not let them automatically uncover the hidden element or provide any additional information beyond signaling its presence.
When you enter a new location, such as a room or corridor, you immediately notice one thing out of the ordinary. The GM determines what it is, or whether there's nothing reasonable to pick up, skipping obvious clues that can be easily noticed without a check or specifically looking for them. You learn only that an area or object is suspicious, but not why it's suspicious. For example, if you entered a study with a large bloodstain on the ground, the bloodstain is so obviously suspicious it's evident to you already, so the GM might note that there's something suspicious about the desk drawer instead. You would then need to investigate the drawer further to find out what specifically is out of the ordinary. That's Odd doesn't reveal whether creatures are suspicious.
You don't typically get any benefit when you leave and come back to a place, though if a major change has happened there and time has passed, the GM might determine that you do.
Briney notices something strange in the corridor leading west.
"Let's talk to this person, then. I am eager to hear what he has to say."
She quietly follow Briney into the depths.
Scout Activity, Perception +7
And I just realised I did not provide a list of my prep for the day, so here goes:
Ray of Frost
When the party is inside, Channary speaks up. "You know, I could change form into a critter of some sort, when we are closer to the person inside, and see what he's up to without turning heads. It doesn't last for a long time, so ... That's why we should be closer."
Briney pipes up "That's Odd! Water falling from roof not collecting on floor!" he points to the slit in the floor "See tiny tiny hole! Maybe something nasty comes out! Watchout!"
He avoids the area and instead tries to go around, scraping his crossbow contraption loudly across the dungeon floor...