December's Pathfinder Adventure Card Game release is The Hook Mountain Massacre, the third Rise of the Runelords Adventure Deck. In this chapter of the story, the stalwart heroes are asked to investigate Fort Rannick, a ranger outpost near Hook Mountain. Fort Rannick is home to the Order of the Black Arrows, a cadre of rangers that have kept the local ogre problem at bay for decades, but now the outpost is ominously silent.
Striding boldly (or not) into the foothills near Rannick, the players quickly find themselves in conflict with the first of the area's "looming troubles."
Let's take a moment to dig into the first scenario of the adventure, Them Ogres Ain't Right—a card that still regularly wins Mike's vote for "Best Card Title"—and preview some of its giant-sized participants.
Though you might not normally associate an ogrekin matriarch with necromancy, Mammy is happy to change your mind. Ancient Skeleton henchmen aren't a major threat to the characters at this point, but every little bit hurts, and Mammy's habit of using the dimension door spell to escape the fight and heal up doesn't help.
From a mechanical standpoint, we don't often ask you to remember specific details from turn to turn, but Mammy provides a rare exception. Though you may not remember if you tried to recharge that Lightning Bolt spell last turn, we're pretty sure you'll remember whether or not the gracious Ms. Graul has already escaped your best efforts.
Of course, Mammy's going to want some help, and not just from some puny skeletons; luckily, there are plenty of Graul Ogrekin to go around. In fact, there are so many Graul Ogrekin that we didn't think a single static card would do them justice.
When you're bred (and re-bred, and re-re-bred) from fine stock like most ogrekin, you're bound to see a few… changes… pop up here and there. You never know exactly what to expect from a Graul Ogrekin. Some have especially thick skin, while others have massive, oversized arms. A few have an extra head or even a vestigial twin keeping an extra 1d3 eyes out for trouble. One thing is pretty common to the Graul Ogrekin, though—they live in small groups, so when you've beaten one, there might still be another cousin, nephew, or really ugly relative waiting just around the corner.
Next up in our giantkin parade, let's look at the current occupants of Fort Rannick itself, the Kreeg Ogres. In case the ogrekin you've already seen weren't big enough, "Pappy" Jaagrath Kreeg has brought you some new friends to play with.
Combining all the fun of a whirling barbarian with the sheer entertainment value of an ogre (and showing off our basic ogre power, the ability to hurt everyone at its location), Jaagrath also has a special hate-hate relationship with humans. He's not so bad to start, but once his rage kicks in you might need to dig deep for that Combat 23 check, especially since you might have already lost a card from your hand.
Lest you think Hook Mountain Massacre is just about simple giantkin doing what simple giantkin do, there are always a few subtler opponents moving around behind the scenes. Given that the Graul Ogrekin and the Kreeg Ogres have been held at bay for decades by the work of the Black Arrows—and the on-again, off-again Kreeg-Graul feud—you might wonder why things have suddenly changed.
If you ever find yourself lacking for temptation with just a touch of silver-tongued treachery, look no further than the friendly local lamia matriarch. These shapechangers are known for their malice as well as for their spellcasting prowess. Lucrecia's presence definitely suggests something more than ogres run amok.
Good News from the Front
Luckily, it's not all bad news on Hook Mountain (heh). In addition to the new playmates, there's also some potent new help on offer, including members of the Order of Black Arrows themselves.
Jakardros is a grizzled veteran of the Black Arrows, and with his help, anyone can have a little ranger-flavored assistance. Whether you're trying to make your Ezren more of a team player, or just trying to make Harsk win all the battles from the next location over, Jakardros can lend a bow. He's lived in Fort Rannick long enough to learn to hate giants of all types, a talent that I promise will not go to waste. For those of you who enjoy the story of the Adventure Path, Jakardros has a not-so-public relationship with someone you have probably already met… someone who might even be with your party at this point.
While rangers are all very well and good, we all know that if you want a job done right, you do it yourself, with magic. If that's more your speed, I have a little something for you.
This one works for both kinds of spellcasters, Country and Western... I mean Arcane and Divine. Swipe's versatility doesn't stop there, oh no! It can be used to help out a comrade in a fight, to put up a decent fight of your own, or to seal the deal on that nice weapon, armor, or item that you just happened across. That's plenty of potency for our part-time finger-wagglers who might have spent some attention on other shiny things (looking at you, Lem!), while still rewarding the dedicated magic-is-my-life spellslingers. It's a great way to make your blaster a little more party friendly, or to pick up that Vicious Trident +1 for your friendly bear.
Finally, just to reinforce the idea that every cloud can have a silver lining, and anything with a silver lining can be stripped for parts and sold, I bring you a blessing from the God of Greed:
Sure, Norgorber has a dark side—or 3, or 4—but who's counting? You know who likes acquiring boons? You do. And everyone else does, too. When you break out the PACG and play over the holiday, this card will help you get that gift that you really wanted.
That's it for The Hook Mountain Massacre. I hope you enjoyed reading about it, and I hope that you enjoy playing it! Thanks again!
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Developer