Modoru Redgrave

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154 posts. Alias of WizardlyBlood.


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My Silver Ravens return to the Tooth & Nail after securing the aid of Octavio Sabinus at the Shrine of Saint Senex. Before heading home, Setrona convinces the PCs to join her in a game of Devilpin. They get a few round in before I realize this game is not balanced for average 4th level PCs and everyone including Setrona with her +4 bonus are racking up Hell-debt. I'd amend the rules in the future to be 10-15-20 instead of 15-20-25, which would probably make a bit more sense for a game typically played by drunk people.

Either way, several turns into their Devilpin game, I had a handful of Logrunners approach and stick them up for the apparent money they had staked on this game. The PCs ultimately manhandle the Logrunners, then learn about the drug-dealing gang and a bit about the Old Kintargo gangland in general.

We end with the SRs leaving the T&N. In their absence, Tayacet Tiora will visit the T&N and forcefully ask to investigate the scuffle.

Proceeding deeper into the Pestilent Palace, the Gobstoppers have dispatched the tooth fairy swarm and the pair of ropers. I managed to paralyze and extract 5 teeth from the witch before the kineticist obliterated the swarm with +50% damage from his aoe blasts. It was a disturbing scene and I got a satisfying reaction from the players describing the little fairies working together to pry his mouth open and wrench out his teeth.

The also explored G8. The Spider's Nest, but per the text, I had the leng spiders away from the palace at this time. They did however discover and loot the treasure, so the spider twins will be very upset upon their return.

We ended mid-combat with the baregaras. I had them start out by hurling the smashed stalagmites with Throw Anything, then they retreated to the far side of the big pit. Next time, I'll have them begin by summoning dire apes in the midst of the PCs, and they will attempt to grapple anyone who approaches the pit. My goal is to get one of the PCs in a grapple. The baregaras have good DR and a climb speed of 40 ft, so the idea is to simply have the creatures grab one of my players and dive into the pit with them. The savage fiends should have an unsettling disregard for their own safety. If they succeed, they'll use their climb speed to scale the sides of the pit and try to take another victim down with them.

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Patrickthekid wrote:
Sabo the Spider is definitely Portia de Rossi, specifically her role in Better Off Ted.

Based off her art and vibe, I see her as Tilda Swinton.

Here's a few more casting rumors for Book 2:

Setrona Sabinus - Carrie Coon

Octavio Sabinus - Chris Evans

Luculla Gens - Lauren Graham

Tayacet Tiora - Awkwafina

Varl Wex - Tony Dalton

Cassius Sargaeta - Finn Jones

I also had the rift drake encounter at the ruined excavation. The open territory gave the drakes plenty of room to maneuver for their breath weapons and flyby attacks, and were actually pretty vicious foe for my party.

I believe I actually combined the ogre encounters. The PCs arrive at Kosseruk's abandoned encampment and engage the 6 brutes. Several round into combat, Origa and the two hunters arrive on scene and join the fray. Origa pops off some of her abilities, but I had her flee when it became clear the ogres were done for. The PCs nearly killed her as well, but I had her fly off and join up with hobgoblin bounty hunters from the back of Book 2, which I developed into a subplot throughout Book 3 and the beginning of Book 4.

Their final confrontation with Gaugagh, Qa'al, and Origa goes down in the atmospheric water hall in the dwarven ruins where the PCs face the cephalophores.

Random thought: but it occurs to me that the Arhlantu - and the greater Pestilent Palace as a whole - give the vibe less of natural cavern, and more of the chambers and organs of some living thing, with a living heart at the center.

What if, unbenownst even to Arlantia herself, the entire Darkblight - with Arhlantu at it's center - is being prepared as a quite literal, physical body for Cyth-V'sug himself? Like once the entire Fangwood succumbs to the Darkblight, the demon lord would emerge in a catastrophic "birth".

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I am neck and neck with erucsbo it seems. Maybe a session or two behind.

We left off in the middle of a joint encounter with the faun chirurgeons and the blighted handmaidens from the Stitching Lab and the Infested Parlor respectively. The Jimenju tree immediately took out my heavy DPS characters (the kineticist and the eidolon) with it's intoxicating stench ability, which turns any fight into a bit of a slog. Without their main damage output, the party is forced to weather the magical attacks of the alchemists and witches (looots of abilities and buffs to keep track of in this fight, gee whiz). Several of the party members have been shaken, enervated, evil eyed, and enfeebled. The single blightguard as well as a couple of the chirurgeons and handmaidens had fallen, but the tree still stands as we left off last session.

The tooth fairy swarm lurks in the room ahead, which I have been excited to run since I first read about it before the campaign started. The party is also about due for a rest, and since the witch and druid can cast fairy ring retreat, resting should be trivial even in this hostile environment. So to add a little interest to things, I'll have obvious blightguard and bandersnatch tracks all over the place when they emerge in the morning.

By this point, the blighted unity ability of the fey means the element of surprise is gone. How have other GMs dealt with this? There appear to be some contradictions in the text, such as Orielle the blighted pech supposedly unaware of the intrusion before the PCs arrive at her chamber, despite her blighted unity ability.

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Reporting in with an update on the Gobstoppers. We are deep into Book 5, having just entered Arlantia's Pestilent Palace. This section of the adventure has been a gauntlet of brutal encounters. The advanced Jubjub bird following directly after the blighted dragon. However, my party has mostly handled the fights, though they are blowing through a ton of healing. Of all the encounters, it was actually the froghemoths in the Blighted Depths that actually struck a killing blow on the party's druid. A raise dead scroll brought her back, but they were only able to heal one of the permanent negative levels, so she is fighting with a bit of a handicap until the party can find some restoration magic.

Speaking of the druid, her parents from Crystalhurst will be among the captives being held in Arhlantu. The dwarf kineticist has some incentive to restore Gendowyn and avenge the dwarven armies that fell in the Darkblight. And of course Gendowyn herself has kineticist abilities.

Reporting in just to say, I'm replacing Quicken Spell-like Ability (deep slumber) with Weapon Focus (spell touch) on Kusana.

The amended tactics will be to get her in flight, use her movement to stay out of range to cast spells, first mirror image, followed by suffocation, then her touch spells, casting out of range, then on the following turn, swoop in using spring attack to deliver the spell and get back out of range. If she manages to pull this off with a bestow curse or poison spell, she'll enter firey form and try to detonate on as many PCs as possible. Then, she'll attempt to grapple her grandson the witch for a little blood drain. She doesnt want to kill him just yet. She's fine with dispatching his friends, but she wants to subdue the witch and extract the spells from his familiar.

Well, in my group, Kusana is the party witch's grandmother (Navah is his mother), so hopefully there will be some opportunity there. Since he is a male witch, and thus not qualified for hag-ification, she instead wants to capture him and extract all the magic from his familiar. I'll have her use her disguise hex to appear as a sweet old lady with a picturesque little cottage.

I'll give some incentive to resolve the encounter non-lethally since the witch is likely to be interested in Kusana's spell list.

As for the tactics, yeah that does seem a bit sloppy. It's likely that Spring Attack is meant to be used in conjunction with the touch spells, but I see no way around the deep slumber oversight. PCs and companions will all be over 10HD at this stage. I'll likely just replace that feat.

My interpretation is that "takes to the air" probably means staying pretty close - maybe 10-15 ft up - using Spring Attack to dive in to deliver touch spells and claw attacks then retreat back out of melee range.

About to run the Even-Handed Synod. Very stoked on the aesthetic of Kraggodan, and I have a good idea for the character of the dwarves.

Has anyone done anything with the especially tantalizing hook of the actual king and heir being down in the final vault. Have anyone's parties asked to go down and meet with King Borom or tried to release Darund from his crystalline prison? The way it's described in the book, it's hard to imagine a party not wanting to investigate this strange mystery, it almost comes across as the main plot.

The party has arrived in Kraggodan. New casting leaks are as follows:

Prince Gorm Greathammer - Kumail Nanjiani

Exemplar Thramirra Greathammer - Mindy Kaling

Hikal Balatum - Erin Kellyman

Royal Archivist Karburtin Lightbrand - Jemaine Clement

Colga of Trudd - Michelle Rodriguez

Sethvir wrote:


I have been waiting to run this AP since it came out and finally after numerous delays, I have finally begun. It's been the first one that I could really sink my teeth into.

Someone earlier in the thread commented that they had 6 players, I am currently running with 8 players and me...

I concur that the nature of this part of the adventure means a party of 8 is going to find the encounters less than trivial. And I mean many of them might find themselves rarely even getting a turn in combat. Until the trog caves, it's wilderness adventure with only one or two encounters each day. My own party of 5 at the time, absolutely demolished these without breaking a sweat. With a party of 8, adventuring days with a handful of encounters will barely scratch their daily resources.

A couple recommendations: First, max out your monster HP for the rest of the adventure. Don't take the recommended average or roll it, just max it. I did this shortly into my run and haven't looked back. My party still mostly crushes encounters, but I at least can get an extra turn in here or there to add a little drama.

Second, use the back of the book bestiary table or even dip into the generic forest ones in the GM tables and bestiaries (can't remember where these are all located). Pad out the adventuring day and tax their resources a bit with 'random' encounters. I pre-roll mine, so I can weave them into the narrative a bit better, so not really random I guess. I used a couple as narrative encounters with skill checks and RP instead of combat. The sunflower leshies and Molthuni scouts in particular.

Final hail mary suggestion: Split them up and run two parties of 4 as god intended. XD

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De-imp-ified in what way? Like turned back into a halfling from her life? Probably some very high level magic like greater wish, miracle, or true resurrection. It's been decades at least since her mortal form perished, so the latter is a stretch. Even then, I'm not sure she'd retain her imp memories, plus the sticky situation that she was an evil halfling in life, which is how she ended up in Hell to begin with. I'd buy it, but only with a sufficient redemption arc of some kind.

Short answer: maybe? And if so, it'd be extraordinarily expensive high level magic, so late game stuff.

A few more days pass after discovering Blosodriette. Turns out the half-elf street urchin character has a Sarnini somewhere back in his family tree.

To my surprise, the party didn't balk at all at bringing the tiny imp into the fold. I had Rexus and Morgar Manthai act as a foils in the conversation, expressing their extreme reservations at having an actual devil in their midst.

Rexus wonders whether this will send the wrong message to their supporters. However, the Silver Ravens had made their decision, and given the alternatives, it might be for the best. Sure, they could send Blosodriette back to Hell... along with all their secrets. Whether it gets back to Thrune and the Asmodeans is a long shot, but it's still a scary loose end.

The rogue decides to take his chances and attempts to control the imp using the power of the blood contract. For the moment, the imp has agreed to remain in the hideout and has been sworn to silence regarding all she's seen down there.

Moving on, the rogue had also taken some extra ranks in linguistics and is now helping Rexus with the decoding work. So this week they learn the 4th fact about the old Silver Ravens: Jackdaw and her friends had repelled no less than a dozen attempted conquests of the city. So now, it's 2-3 weeks depending on linguistics checks until the docs are fully decoded.

Finally, after another day or two of laying low and doing a bit of shopping, the party recieves some alarming news. One of their tiefling supporters appears at Longroads and informs them that the Chelish Citizens have captured none other than Zea for an unsanctioned doghousing. After the party's exploits at the Sallix Salt Works (they dumped all the bodies in the salt pit), Thrune is hoping for some unofficial retribution against these upstart criminals. The thugs at Aria Park will have limited descriptions of the PCs based on the injuries seen on others.

Huh. I thought it was great if for no other reason that the party gets a talking dinosaur as a reward. It also involves several important NPCs. Hetamon Haace, Shensen, and Strea Vestori all have important character beats in this mission. Meeting and rescuing Strea is something a party invested in Kintargo intrigues should find rewarding. She should have been talked up by other NPCs like Zea and Hetamon up to this point, and any of the NPCs who knew her should be ecstatic to find her alive.

Octavio's detection spell to locate Hetamon, and Shensen's eagerness to find clues about Guttugger should be enough of a hook to get players interested. Getting to the bottom of what happened at the Silver Star is payoff for stuff set up back in book 1.

The party just discovered Blosodriette. It was about a week after the Dottari showed up at Longroads, and the team still had no leads. On a whim the party's time-mystery oracle casts detect evil in the Stormwater Shine and sure enough, there is a presence that the oracle pinpoints hiding behind Calistria's head. A successful command spell brings the presence to the dock. The orphaned, street-urchin half-elf rogue demands that the creature reveal itself. The tiny devil appears and turns to face the rogue, she bows deeply and pleads "Please, don't harm me. All I've done has been to aid you, Lord Sarini.."

Just as some more general character notes:

-Rexus is not hopeful for his parents survival, but the lack of closure does give him a glimmer of hope. But he isn't delusional, people who get disappeared by the Thrunes don't usually have good things happen to them.

-I play him as a bit hapless and absent-minded professor, but in a very endearing, self-aware kind of way. This is how I interpreted his higher charisma score, while keeping him out of the direct spotlight within the rebellion.

-He spends most of his time plopped in front of a mountain of papers in the hideout, with a giant coffee and plate of pastries from upstairs. Treep Fushi has become his unofficial office assistant.

-Rexus's gender identity is totally matter of fact. It's not something he shoehorns into conversations, but he doesn't hide it either. It's not any kind of secret, though people outside of the Greens (my PCs) would have little reason to know or care about such scandals among the nobles. Laria has known for years of course, and probably even helped connect Rexus with his alchemical needs via the Newt.

-I really love the idea of connecting the proclamation against mint to the existence of the Mulibrous Tincture and Anderos Salve. An underhanded way for the Thrunes to indirectly cause harm to "aberrant" segments of the population.

When my party went to investigate the ruins of the Victocora estate, I had them discover a dented lockbox that survived the collapse in a small alcove under a staircase. Inside they found a worn, simple wooden amulet bearing the holy symbol of Irori (a memento from Porcia's days as an Iroran monk), and a hand painted portrait of the family. The portrait showed Rexus's parents and between them a little girl with the same expressive brown eyes and curly brown hair. The party assumed the little girl was a sister or even his mother.

When they returned to the Wasp's Nest, they show Rexus the portrait and he lovingly traces his fingers over his parents' likenesses. He reveals matter of factly that the little girl in the portrait was him. He reveals that he was raised for the first decade of his life as a girl, but his parents accepted his male identity without hesitation despite the social blowback. He reminisces briefly about the Shelynite priest who aided his transition. Unless there's some direct contradtiction of this in the story (haven't read all the books yet), I'll likely have that priest be none other than Zachrin Vhast, current high priest at Songbird Hall. Described as "androgynous" in his little blurb on the back cover, and the book briefly mentions his "performing illegal marriages in Nidal". I think that's a good enough foothold to build out that connection.

I imagine that the Victocoras could have afforded the Elixir of Sex Shifting, though it would have come quite dear for them. Something like that Elixir might not be common knowledge outside of certain circles. The NPC background states that Rexus had coveted that life, but never pursued it until meeting the Shelynite tutor, so maybe neither Rexus nor his parents realized that it was a true possibility until then.

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Rolled a purple worm on the random encounter table. It's their first fight after leaving the Long Walk, and it's quite a doozy. We ended with a cliffhanger on the top of the second round of combat. By then, the worm had grabbed and swallowed the party's eidolon. It still has more than 130 hp left. Should foreshadow well the dangers that lie ahead on the route to Kraggodan.

Yep, I have her minutes-per-level and longer buffs and spells already running. We did a cliffhanger after some intense negotiations. They refuse her bounty to bring back the trox slaves out of hand (they HATE slavers). Kisegar tries to play diplomat, but once Rovalda sees the dwarf in the party, all negotiations are off. She hovers up from her beetle's saddle and imperiously calls down that she will not suffer upworld weaklings to walk the sacred stones of the Long Walk while she draws breath.

My party has arrived at the Five-Eyed Matron. Any tips on running Rovalda? I've never run a psychic before. Just been reading and re-reading about how these phrenic amplifications all work. My plan is to separate the healer with an ectoplasmic wall. He's usually flying, so I'll put the wall as a sort of "trough" underneath him, then attempt a targeted dispel on the fly spell, with a dispelling pulse via telekinesis.

The duergar guards will enact their enlarge person ability to form a bulwark of protection and go toe to toe with the enlarged eidolon, while the chapel beetle will attempt to trample several PCs if the opportunity arises. The eidolon usually makes quick work of the front-liners, so I'll have limited rounds for Rovalda to put out her spells.

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By serendipty, my players happened to mention their old svirfneblin friend from Book 1 on the day they were set to encounter Novvi's trading party. So it was a fortuitous reunion. I tried to play up the alien weirdness of the various dark folk, and it was fun teasing out the reveal of Novvi, as she slowly unravels the filthy rags and removes the false nose (a pitted gray mushroom) of her dark creeper disguise.

The Gobstoppers, plus Kisegar and Chen, have arrived at the Five-Eyed Matron, and officially reach the end of their journey on the Long Walk. Kisegar faces a tough dilemma as she must choose between her employers and clients whom she correctly sees as a source of great wealth, and her people and god in the form of Rovalda's party. Of course one of the tenets of Droskarites is their willingness to get one over on their fellow duergar, so it probably won't be too much of a dilemma. The Gobstoppers' open revulsion for slavery is fascinating to Kisegar.

Rovalda confronts the party in the shadow of the giant five-eyed statue. She barely gets her offer out before the party aggressively refuses. The tidy sum she offers is meaningless to them now. Their refusal, plus the presence of the dwarf kineticist sends her into a rage and she flies up from the saddle of her chapel beetle. We ended on the cliffhanger as she and her party move to attack.

In the middle of book 1 at the moment. My players are halfway through clearing the Sallix Salt Works. My plan is to have Forvian Crowe suggest the Tooth & Nail as a temporary safe house, since they are out after curfew, and crossing the city and Bleakbridge to get back to Longroads is a bit out of the question.

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Kisegar is a lot of fun. I keep having Chen buzz lazily through the air and bump off the eidolon and flip on his back. Every party of duergar or other random encounter on the Long Walk, Kisegar explains that she is escorting very important surface dwellers, and that she is the premiere guide for any traveler on the Long Walk. She explains proudly to anyone who will listen how she was a slave only a couple days ago. I had the drow encounter last session, a slaver party for house Vexidyre, and tried to hype it up by having Kisegar wanting the party to run. They would have none of it, and confronted the twisted elves and put a very final stop to their quest for slaves from the surface.

Venturing into Ironfang Invasion Season 4, we have some great new actors and some returning familiar faces as well.

Origa (Michelle Yeoh)

Iuwlas (Fred Armisen)

Zanathura simalcrum (Angelina Jolie)

Flendak Derth (Jonathan Banks)

Kisegar (Emma Stone)

Novvi (Kate Micucci, met the party back in Season 1)

Continuing the campaign, the Gobstoppers teleport back to Longshadow for some much needed R&R. They pick up a few scrolls and wands, and Navah delivers a handsom gift to the party's summoner. The Breastplate of Command (reskinned as studded leather) embossed with the twin likenesses of Hillmer's owl and bear heads on the pectorals.

After this they teleport back to the silent and empty morlock warrens. They take the passageway to the Long Walk, and after a couple hours on the road, they are ambushed by the slaver party. Flendak Derth opens combat with a surprise round (the duergar are hiding behind a large chunk of rubble) by casting a shadow conjured spiked pit. However the DC is pitfully low and the eidolon and lynx companion easily pass the saves and engage the duergar warriors.

The party easily handles the rest of the encounter, and after some fun negotiations, Kisegar joins the party as a guide. With a successful diplomacy check, they convince her to take a handful of magic items looted from her erstwhile captors as part of her eventual full payment. She jacks up the price due to the presence of a dwarf in the party, but eventually relents and they settle the deal at 7500gp, upfront payment in the form of protective magic items, and a cash sum upon completion of services.

Kisegar has been a real treat to play as GM, and having a dwarf in the party to berate is such a sick pleasure. She even successfully cajoled him into approaching the twilight mushroom hazard with her, and I was able to deploy her "pitiful weakness" dialogue. If the party is sufficiently heroic and impressive over the course of their journey together, Kisegar may even have a change of heart and start to see surface dwellers in a new light.

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Zanathura the Second falls and the party advances to 12th level! Iuwlas is tentatively helping the party, but now that the simalcrum is destroyed, their usefulness to the morlock is running thin. He's planning to have Grax and the other morlocks below ambush the PCs and tie off this loose end. Iuwlas hopes the party will dispatch Grax for him and he can take over, leading the remaining morlocks deep into the Darklands to await the return of the "true goddess".

Revisiting this adventure. Was wondering if anyone has run with a sorcerer in the party and if so, did you use Moltus Vargidan as the sorcerer mentor?

I'm curious about his intended backstory. There's nothing listed beyond "sorcerer mentor". What does everyone think his bloodline might be? The flavor text describes the old man wandering around his estate muttering to nobody, which suggests to me some otherworldly intelligence. Also something kinda creepy and evil given his apparent obsession with propagating the bloodline. Also meta-wise, we're probably pulling only from the CRB. That makes me think, abyssal, undead, infernal. Something along those lines.

Okay, so reading through Book 4, I found something curious.

Book 4, Part 1, G17 wrote:
In addition to these treasures, Zanathura’s notes detail an obsidian troglodyte sword she recovered in the Darklands and awarded to Chief Grax when she made the hulking mutant her champion. The same notes also detail the ritual she used to enlarge the weapon to suit the hulking woman’s frame, and with these same notes the PCs can reverse the ritual, transforming the Large-size nine-ring broadsword into a Medium-sized one suitable for their own use—if they can recover it from Chief Grax, of course. The reversing ritual takes 2 hours to perform, requires either a potion of enlarge person or a potion of reduce person as a material component, and only works on obsidian weapons.

Now to me, this looks a lot like a way to bypass the typical restrictions on resizing weapons. My party has an eidolon that shifts size often, and is the party's main weapon user. With access to this esoteric ritual, I'm tempted to allow my party to resize more stuff. I think after making an appropriate arcana or spellcraft check. Gating the ritual behind a crafting feat might make sense too.

Of course one interpretation of the text implies that this will only re-shrink Grax's sword to its original medium size, and shouldn't be used to resize gear at will or at all.

Edit: just read the part about obsidian only. Duh. Still, seems like something an accomplished caster/crafter may be able to adapt to their own purposes.

Captain Morgan wrote:
How divination heavy are your parties? Mine got hella into it, and a lot of creative energy was spent on omens.

We have a witch and a druid, so mainly just scrying an area, studying it for several minutes, then teleporting. In total, they spied on Gaugagh three times using her bastard sword to lower the DC. It was a fun way to give the players some tidbits and background info on these NPCs, as well as the Legion and the adventure in general. It was their first glimpse of Aloi, although they didn't realize it. They got a look at the size and composition of the army camped there. They saw the onyx tower at the center of camp. They saw that Gaugagh was shunned by the rank and file hobgoblins. They overhear Qa'al cautioning Gaugagh that she needs to stay in control and disciplined. Gaugagh paces nervously and mentions that "this dwarf in my head won't shut the hell up!" referring to the pyrokineticist's mother/Gaugagh's medium champion spirit.

I actually haven't experienced a game where players really made a lot out of the divination spells.

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There is a massive showdown in the Water Hall. This has been a long time coming.

Qa'al the gunslinger and Gaugagh the medium had first ambushed the party all the way back at the ruins of Redburrow in early Book 3. They harried the party briefly while they were busy with the trench mist, before escaping on their wyvern mounts. However, since the witch managed to sleep hex the medium, she dropped her +1 bastard sword, and using this the party would scry on her a handful of times over the coming weeks.

This was a great way to show the Ironfang camp in the Valley of Aloi, and foreshadow the size of the invading force coming to Longshadow. During these scrying sessions, the PC's learn a few more tidbits of lore. They see the neat and orderly rows of tents teeming with hobgoblins, minotaurs, and morlocks. At thh center, a handful of wooden barracks and the Stone Road tower, standing tall.

The two unusual hobgoblins are bounty hunters are encamped a fair distance away from the main force, not official members of the Legion. Qa'al is cool and collected, focused on the mission and the money. He cleans his guns, inspects and organizes his ammunition. Gaugagh is slowly descending into madness (RP of the spirit influence class mechanic). She has been channeling the spirit of a party member's mother (champion spirit), who she had killed some 20 years ago during a raid on this PC's village (Palette Falls) giving him his Unbreakable Survivor campaign trait. The unquiet spirit of this PC's mother is straining at her captivity just as Gaugagh channels the spirit's power to enhance her own abilities. She also completely freaks out all the superstitious hobgoblins. Just one reason why she isn't at the Battle of Longshadow.

Qa'al and Gaugagh remain in the Valley during the invasion, their orders come from higher up and they don't answer to Kosseruk. When it becomes clear the invading force has been defeated against all odds in Longshadow, the bounty hunters take to their wyvern mounts, and with a grenadier troop at their command, they camp in the heights of the valley, waiting for the PCs to inevitably arrive. I leveled Gaugagh up a few times (8->11) to keep her viable in the combat vs my 11th level PCs.

Flash over to the PCs who have made their way through the valley recovering the treasure and intel from the abandoned encampment. They face down Origa and her ogre minions. They almost kill her as well, but she uses everything she has to flee. She recognizes the PCs for who they are, and as a specialist of sorts herself, knows of the 15,000gp bounty on each of their heads. Thus, she resolves to go find the bounty hunters and throw in with them.

Fast forward to the Water Hall, the PCs have dropped the final of the four cephalophores, but before they can figure out their next step, a challenge rings out. Gaugagh is stepping onto the scene. She speaks an incantation, lifting up a handful of iron powder. She snorts it and grows to immense proportions. Qa'al pops from around a chunk of rubble with his loaded musket and takes a shot. Meanwhile an invisible Origa, flies into position to flank the party's squishy casters, nocking two arrows in her +1 shock longbow.

What followed was an intense battle in the atmospheric water hall with the summoner's wall of flame and the druid's ice storm in play. The grenadier troop joins the fray in the 2nd round. The NPCs use everything they have. Gaugagh's array of buffs (mirror image, displacement, haste, heroism, protection from good, and enlarge person) keep her standing way longer than most foes.

After finally dropping Qa'al to negative hit points, the battle is over. In this holy site of Grundinnar, the PC's mother (a dwarf) miraculously manifests for a brief moment, and our pyrokineticist gets some closure, as his mother's spirit is finally put to rest.

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Making our way through Book 1, the party has just dealt with the tooth fairies, after staying the night at the Cloven Hoof Society, they return to Longroads the next morning. There they touch base with Rexus, but they are interrupted by a commotion. Morgar Manthai barges in with the faerie dragon Vendalfek gripped tightly in his fists, claiming he found "the saboteur" skulking around in the Stormwater Shrine. The PCs mediate the situation, informing Morgar that Vendalfek is an ally. As a former Dottari, Morgar has a difficult time accepting the chaotic little creature, but eventually they smooth things over. Turns out, Morgar used to take his beat in eastern Villegre, near the White Gate. Fortunate, as the party has expressed interest in entering the Greens to investigate the ruins of the Victocora Estate.

My VTT of the scene.

The party entered the morlock warrens. They are making their way through the first level. Sadly no one has failed a poison save yet, and so far the creepers are a bit underwhelming. It was funny to have a few of the advanced morlock mooks use their leap attacks on hovering party members just outside the cave entrance. Unfortunately, none made their grapple checks and immediately fell to their deaths, but it was entertaining and perhaps a bit unsettling for the players.

On Roll20, I just a made a medium sized token for my hobgoblin troops. Gave them initiative and hp, then just copy + paste until I have filled out the space of the troop (for the basic troop, 16 individual tokens arranged in 20x20 space). For the minotaur troop, it was 4 large tokens grouped together.

Here's how it looks on my VTT.

I found that the troops make great additions to battles to raise the stakes and give the party a wall of nameless mooks to tear through. It's a way to streamline the process instead of adding dozens of individual low CR creatures. They also have a fair amount of guaranteed damage since they don't actually make attack rolls, so a decent way to soften up a party, and give your more unique monsters and bosses some room to use their more interesting abilities.

Functionally, they attack like a massive swarm, share a large health pool, but take damage as medium-sized creatures, so not as frustrating to kill as an actual swarm. I described them losing HP as individuals within the troop falling and dying, but more troopers simply step into their place and close ranks. The phalanx troopers in particular were fun to pit against my party with their Close Ranks and Tripping Spears abilities. The morlock swarmer troop has terrifying potential in the Battle of Longshadow. Their Expert Climber and Leap Attack abilities mean the entire troop can run up walls and leap through the air, crashing over your party like a tidal wave, doing automatic troop damage all along the way.

About halfway through book 1, here's what our cast looks like so far.

Barzillai Thrune - Mark Strong
Rexus Victocora - Elliot Fletcher
Laria Longroads - Sinead Cusack
Zea - Zendaya
Nox - Sarah Jessica Parker
Hetamon Haace - Lee Pace
Morgar Manthai - Josh Hartnett

Book 1 hints early on that the Chernasardo Rangers are preoccupied. I believe there is some clue at All-Eye's Wood or one of the other woodland locations. So I assume the takeover came very close to the Night of Iron Fangs, if it wasn't the very same date.

I don't think it's ever stated whether the onyx key is used to capture the Chernasardo forts, but I had it that way in my campaign. Specifically, the key was used to open a passage to the forest about a mile from Trevalay. This is how Eygara, Salokut, and the Ironfang rank and file get there. From that point, troops are sent to Ristin (who are subsequently clubbed to death by korreds), and the alliance with the trolls secures Nunder.Of course, Ibziariak, Jang, and Parthuk are native inhabitants of the Fangwood, and are the ones who help facilitate the takeover.

After recapturing the fort, my party found the tumbled down slag remnants of an onyx tower near Trevalay, though they wouldn't confirm what it was until they see a tower collapse firsthand at Longshadow.

I also set mine at the summer solstice. Wealday, 21 Sarenith, 4717 to be precise. Important milestones:
-Camp Red Jaw: Moonday, 17 Erastus.
-Red Rock Revel: Fireday, 4 Arodus
-Battle of Trevalay: Moonday, 28 Arodus
-Arrive at Longshadow: Moonday 18 Rova
-Battle of Longshadow: 26-28 Rova
-Enter Valley of Aloi: Toilday, 10 Lamashan

In retrospect, I might have set it on the spring equinox to keep it more in line with the 'official' canon, which would put the Market Festival/Night of Ashes on Moonday, 20 Pharast, 4717.

Trudging through the Valley of Aloi. The rocket tag portion of the adventure begins in earnest. Initiative rolls are really telling now, the rocs rolled low and got dumpstered in 2 rounds, but the rift drakes rolled high and put a PC down in the first round. Left on a mid-combat cliffhanger with only one of the drakes having taken any damage. Flyby attack, power attack, bleed, and the breath weapon are brutal, and blow through 11th level HP pools.

The PCs handled the ogres at the abandoned encampment. After sorting through the treasure left behind, I had Origa and her hunters arrive on scene to confront the PCs. The oni recognized the mark of the kami on our pyrokineticist, and reveals the 15,000gp bounty on the PCs' heads. After a couple rounds of combat, Origa uses her fly and invisibility to escape with a handful of HPs, resolving to go find and throw in her lot with the hobgoblin bounty hunters: Qa'al and Gaugagh. The party knows they are also in the valley somewhere after scrying them.

The plan is to have Qa'al, Gaugagh, and Origa ambush the party just as they defeat the cephalophores at the Water Hall ruins. That scene with the dwarven ruins and the aqueduct in the shadow of the mountain is too damn dramatic and atmospheric not to have a higher stakes mini-boss fight there. A nice set piece battle for the PCs to say goodbye to the surface world and sky for a good bit of time.

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My party used the Gather Information action during their militia turn to scout the Valley of Aloi. Many old miners and prospectors in the Hollow Hills will repeat legends about the riches tucked away in hidden Aloi, though few know it's location and fewer still have laid eyes upon it. Their conspirator team hiked out from Longshadow and managed to discover the high pass into the valley along the old dwarven highway. From saddleback pass, they spotted some large aerial predators (drakes or rocs, they couldn't tell at a distance), and weren't equipped to fend them off. They did note for the PCs that there was a thick bank of fog shrouding the valley for all but a couple hours before dusk.

Soon the PCs will venture to the valley themselves. Hopefully the breadcrumbs from Kosseruk's encampment and the morlock warrens will be enough to take them through the Long Road to Kraggodan.

I've been contemplating this too. I'm almost to my first 10'x10'square maps in Book 4, so I haven't quite crossed that bridge yet (and blown it up behind me).

For the really big ones, I'll probably do exploration and reveal areas on the 30' map normally, but switch to a localized battle map for combats.

In my game, I just jumped right into the action. I let the players give a short introduction or tell a story in the pub, then I shot Aubrin with the ballista bolt!

I really like what you've done. These games are clever, and show a lot of character for the NPCs and the setting.

If you make it all the way to the end, you have to have a festival in the reconquered Phaendar and replay all the games.

After the end of Book 3, there's been a bit of a break in the action. First a militia turn:

Spread Propaganda raised Fort Phaendar from Hostile to Unfriendly. The way I spun it was their new Longshadow Irregulars crew managed to infiltrate and make contact with the slaves kept in the complex, so next time maybe a latch will be left open here, a door left ajar there, etc. Also a way to do a bit of foreshadowing - they learn the bridge has been completely rebuilt, walls have gone up around the place, and it's patrolled night and day by elite soldiers and specialists on the ground and in the air.

Gather Information sent their conspirator team out to the Valley of Aloi, where they scouted the old dwarven highway and the mountain pass. They report back that the place was totally shrouded in fog except for around 2 hours at dusk, and that some kind of fearsome flying beasts lived up in the mountain aeries surrounding the valley, but they weren't sure if they were drakes, wyverns, or something else.

Lastly, since they've kept their notoriety low, events have been rare, but this time we got one, and as luck would have it they got 'Festival' the day after winning the Battle of Longshadow. Okay then!

After dealing with their militia, they went on a shopping spree with a dose of character backstory. First to Korvosa, where our Acadamae dropout witch ran into some old classmates and the party got to see some of what had happened since our last campaign (CotCT). Next, they teleport back to Trevalay, where they reunited with some old NPCs from previous books, though their destination is Crystalhurst. The druid wants to return home and touch base, and is upset to learn that her parents along with several other druids and animals from the village have gone missing, this has coincided with a renewed advancement of the dreaded Darkblight. More foreshadowing for Book 5, I'll try and impress that they aren't quite ready for the challenges there yet, perhaps even give them a taste of the disease/curse thingy.

Eventually, they will hopefully make their way to Aloi and the breadcrumbs there will take them through to the Darklands and Kraggodan.

Okay, my group finally finished this book and overall I think it went pretty well. The battle felt epic, and although no one died or even went down during the siege, they burned through an incredible amount of healing magic. Druid + witch in the same party = pretty powerful healing. Here are some random notes about the Book 3 climax:

* The Dreamstalker sisters attack 2 nights after their failed nightmares. Ambushing the party + mayor in some back alleys. They kill one and captures the other. This comes back later.

* They recover 2 of the big charges from Ecru, and use the rest to blow the place to hell. Vane Oreld (who showed up with a group of C. Rangers) relishes the prospect of blowing the largest stump-remover in the books.

* Minor side quest where the party recovers the Swift Obsidian Axe for Maldeen Kulcher. They uncover a series of tunnels in Warehouse Row using tremorsense, and capture Neele Wittich, a Molthuni spy, interrogate her for a bit and throw her in jail. They discover a cache of weapons including the magic axe, and gain a few Defense Points.

* They gain a few last minute Defense Points when the kineticist and druid sweep the perimeter looking for tunnels to seal up. They find a handful. One leads to the warehouse tunnels. One leads from the old Cerisum manor currently occupied by Razmirans. They get invited to a potluck. And finally, one leading from the southern sewers of the city to a mausoleum in the Last Shift graveyard. This was their idea and I thought it was clever and a good way to throw in a little more flavor for the city.

* Day 1 goes off without too much trouble. They handle the atchach with ease, and they are able to cut off reinforcements at the docks before more troops arrived. The witch is heal hexing everyone he sees, so I reduced the DP attrition somewhat. Grenta Irontusk joins the fight against the fire elementals, but not before they burn down the jail, and release the surviving Dreamstalker sister.

* My group pretty much mopped up the various missions around the Hollow Hills, the timing really couldn't have been better, and I stayed true to the book's recommended countdown. I think they spent just the right amount of time in Longshadow getting to know the city, but never really getting a chance to relax. Because of this, there were a lot of empty turns during the battle. So I had Kosseruk deploy some of the back of the book encounters, mainly the Burl ogres joined the battle. Though the hobgoblins find them distasteful as anyone, they desperately needed the shock troops. I beefed up the Warmaze Masters with a few more advanced minotarus to replace the gorgons.

* Day 2, they are still handling the encounters fairly well, although they usually have some help from various NPCs, the mayor, Aubrin the Green and a couple others are at the south gate. Navah, Maldeen, and Hillmer are at the main gates. Cirieo and Meriam Kems are at the north gate. I think the morlock swarmer troops sufficiently foreshadowed how awful the beginning of Book 4 will be. I had them swarming up building to collectively leap off onto PCs.

* As the DP total falls on the second day, I describe teams of hobgoblin sappers deployed to the walls in multiple locations. They tunnel underneath and start to weaken them and I try to impress that the defenders are running out of time.

* I have the Dreamstalker sister attack the mayor from invisibility during the second round of the giant ankheg encounter. She sees an opening to decapitate the leadership, but the mayor tanks the blow and the party dispatches the bugbear along with the Earthshaker and the cavaliers. They see the clear opportunity and take the tunnnel to Kosseruk's encampment.

* The encampment becomes a 3-hour rolling encounter leap-frogging from the behir, to minotaur troop, to phalanx troop, with Kosseruk hurling threats as she descended the tower with her bodyguards. The party handles things quite well all things considered. They take some considerable damage, but no one goes down. A clutch Wall of Fire does significant damage to the phalanx troop while the eidolon made his save to avoid banishment by the Dismissal scroll. The image of the druid, in earth elemental form, wielding a whip of centipedes as she was surrounded by the burning phalanx troop is seared into my mind.

* Kosseruk goes toe to toe with the hyper-buffed, huge-sized eidolon with 7 attacks (w/haste), and just can't take the heat. Even with her bodyguards boosting her AC and healing, the eidolon and kineticist carve through her HP in a few rounds.

* We end with the party collapsing the archway and collapsing the tower, but not before stuffing all the intel and treasure from up top into their bag of holding.

Gosh, the alchemical golems are absolutely brutal. They are crushing my party. The phalanx troop softened up the eidolon, but the bombs targeting touch AC was too much and a few solid hits puts the eidolon out of commission, even with the summoner siphoning his own HP to the creature. The DR and magic immunity is making it very hard to do damage, with the eidolon as the main source of physical damage, still getting DRed. The druid's pet goes down and suddenly the party is seriously on the backfoot. More golem bombs bring the witch and kineticist down quite low as well and only one golem has taken damage. We ended on a cliffhanger where the party was deciding how to best make a retreat.

Thank goodness I didn't deploy my clockwork excavator. One of the bombardiers ran over to activate it, but the party intercepted, and a timely Hold Person spell kept the excavator out of the fight. It will be just perfect if the party manages to take down the golems only to realize that the hobgoblin was just a few feet away from unleashing something worse. Also, would be a cool reward for them to somehow capture the excavator to use in the battle (though bringing it back to the city could be problematic).

erucsbo wrote:

Or you could have him go with Novvi. He should know the punishment that waits for him back in the Legion and may decide that the most expedient action is to help her carry equipment and act as bodyguard as she returns to the Underdark.

You could even have him reappear down the line in book 4 when Novvi pops up again.

I like this. Just punish Farhrak by forcing him to be Novvi's pack mule and assistant through her Darklands adventures. They can even meet him again in Book 4 when they take the Long Road. They can see it eating him up inside giving his direct enemy the very tools they will use to take down the Legion. If they get magic armor from Novvi, make sure she orders Fahrak to help the PC don it.

Another note: I plan on adding a clockwork excavator to the Ecru/munitions camp encounters to add a bit of additional interest. The Ironfang Legion found one in the Hollow Hills and the alchemists here have been working here to repurpose it for the attack on Longshadow.

When else am I gonna have a chance to dig into those back of the book bestiaries? I'm placing it in the ruined building toward the south part of the village. It'll have a tarp thrown over to hide it, but once the PCs attack, either an alchemist or one of the phalanx troopers will run over to activate it. At that point it'll just run wild attacking anyone on the map. The alchemists don't really know much about clockwork devices, so they were not successful in "training" the construct to target only humans or non-hobgoblins. With a lump of iron in it's headpiece, the excavator attacks anything with iron materials on their person.

Prepping for the Dreamstalker sisters and came across this in Universal Monster Rules for Frightful Presence: "This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice than the creature has." Since the bugbear sisters are HD 6 and my party is almost level 10, seems like this ability is DOA? All I can guess is it's an oversight or the Nightmare template was applied for its other granted abilities. In any case, I can probably still squeeze some narrative juice out of it by having the fear aura affect townsfolk nearby.

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The infiltration has been uncovered. After confronting "Garret", they quickly knock him unconscious, revealing his true doppelganger form. Detecting magic, a necromantic aura leads them to some loose floorboards where they discover none other than the Gently Reposed corpses of all three advisors. The party brings the corpses and the unconscious doppelganger straight to the Town Hall and the mayor's office. The mayor breaks down, deeply saddened by the lost of three of his best friends, but is strengthened in his resolve to aid the party and unequivocally believes the PCs about the Ironfang threat.

The mayor dusts off his old half-plate, and has the party help him into it (it's a bit tight around the waist after all these years), he thinks about taking Navah's +2 Huntsman spear, but grabs his trusty +1 adamantine halberd instead. He immediatlely makes a proclamation to lock down the city. All three main gates are shut and placed under 24/7 guard, and the river ferries temporarily shut down. Together, they make their way up toward Seneka Volstadt's home knowing 'she' and 'Solomon Zane' are still at large somewhere in the city. I placed her home among the wealthier homes in the Northeast district. When they arrive, they find a well-kept, stylish home, but no Seneka. Only her live-in cook who hadn't seen his mistress all day. The mayor tearfully reveals that she has likely been killed and replaced. And for the first time the party starts to get some idea of why this man became mayor in the first place. Despite his laziness and cowardice, he has a real way with people. He knows almost everyone (even a lowly cook) by name, knows details about their lives, their kid's names, etc. He tells the cook (and himself), with tears in his eyes, that Longshadow folk don't back down, and they are going to need each and every person to pull together to survive this onslaught.

Between the combined scent abilities of the lynx animal companion and an Evolution Surged eidolon, and a few lucky rolls they manage to pick up the scent trail of an inhuman creature. They trace it back to the safehouse where they found 'Garret', but find no one. At the temple of Abadar, they manage to find the trail again and follow the trail (presumably Solomon) to the south gates where it becomes clear that they just missed the imposter. The signs show that a single humanoid came out here and launched a rowboat into the river, which is where the trail goes cold.

Meanwhile, a large group of freed slaves (from the warbeast camp) arrive at the Longshadow gates. As evening falls, they have a few precious hours of R&R at the Canary. Aubrin the Green, Cirieo Thessaddin, and Vane Oreld are here with a contingent of the PCs' militia.

During the night, the PCs make a few perception checks while they are asleep, but not good enough to notice a lock of hair being stolen from the witch in his sleep. In the morning, they quickly notice a chunk of hair sheared from the back of his head. They surmise it must be for Scrying. Fine by me!

But this weirdness will have to wait. With only 4 days until the assault is set to occur, the PCs still have 2 major sites left to visit in the Hollow Hills. The druid flies out and scouts both the river crossing as well as the village of Ecru. Ultimately they teleport a few hundred feet from the river crossing where the Nuckelavee lowers the water and the catapults start their transit. The defenders put up a fight but it's not enough and as soon as the Nuckelavee falls, the water comes crashing down sweeping away all 4 catapults. Across the river, the assembled hobgoblin troops begin to panic and scatter into the Hills. I had to think fast here, because my PCs wanted to immediately dimension door to the other side of the river (into more than 100 hobgoblins). I stressed that there was a group of injured and traumatized slaves standing nearby, as well as describing the hobgoblins scattering.

Ultimately the party decided to split up. Two members teleport back to Longshadow to complete a couple more Defensive activities, while the other 2 escort the refugees back to the city on foot. When they have almost made it back to Longshadow, two more ragged refugees stagger out of the wilderness asking for help. But a Detect Magic spell reveals these guys are packing heat, literally. As soon as the Summoner starts casting a spell, they attack, throwing their fireball beads at the party. It's the two remaining Infiltrators here to make a desperate play to recover from their failure in the city. With the party split, this is their best chance, but alas, even two Gobstoppers deal with the doppelgangers handily.

We end the session with the party back in the Canary settling down for rest. The witch rolled an unbelievably lucky will save to resist a Nightmare spell effect. He gets some kooky visions, but no damage and no fatigue. But whatever did this to him is still a mystery.

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Last session was a huge culmination of planning for my game. The party made their way through Navah's tower. During the confrontation at the top, she rolled a bad confusion roll, attacked herself and was immediately put to sleep by the witch. But that wasn't the fun part. After some fun roleplaying involving the Skelterhide and some funny pantomiming, they convince Navah to teleport with them back to Longshadow.

That's when the bomb is dropped. Navah is the witch's mother. She recognizes the witch during their confrontation in the tower, but due to her insanity, thinks it must be some sort trick of her hag mother. Thom Crawbert is the father. This led to a dramatic confrontation. Thom had recognized the witch as his and Navah's child before he sends them to check out the tower, but neglects to reveal the truth at that time. Navah casts Expeditious Retreat and Kung-fu Hustle blasts across the city streets to the Town Hall to confront the mayor. The mayor is so flustered he can barely speak. Navah has the spear that she had commissioned for the mayor to patch over their awkward relationship. Meant to be a thoughtful gift, she how has nothing but sneering disdain for the mayor, she tosses the spear onto the floor of his office and leaves. But not before declaring that she will aid in the battle, but makes it clear, she's not doing it for Thom.

We end the session with the party finally managing to track the doppelgangers using scent back to an abandoned house. A sign on the door says "Condemned, DO NOT ENTER. Direct further inquiries to Solomon Zane." Inside the find "Garret Greygallow" and he keeps playing dumb. He draws his cane sword when the party makes it clear they are there to subdue/arrest him, and that's where we ended things.

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Reporting in: The Gobstoppers have spent the last 2 days ranging around the hills taking out the wyvern scouts and the warbeast camp. Remember that wyverns have language and intelligence when your party decides to murder the chained young wyverns like mine did. Then when they get to the warbeast camp and kill Old Mama, have her say with her dying breath, "At least my babies are still alive out there... somewhere.."

They've been using the druid to wildshape and fly ahead, then scry on her at the new location where the witch studies the area for a teleport spell. This leapfrog travel method has allowed them to make fairly good time with their sabotage efforts.

We ended last session after dealing the killing blow to Repral in the back of the cave. Next time we'll go through the loot, release the prisoners, and come to terms with the implications of the aftermath. They will learn the disturbing fact that a giant monster of an ankheg used to lair here, but the big bug is nowhere to be found.

This has been my favorite part of GMing the AP so far. Can't wait for the actual battle. Not sure exactly where my group will head next. The munitions camp and seige crossing encounters are both still up for grabs, but they might return to Longshadow first where they will get a nasty surprise. None of the townsfolk will seem to realize they've been gone for 2 days, and will express their condolences about 'the accident', and generally the town's opinion of the heroes will seem to have soured for no good reason. Until they find out that sabotage has occurred, and furthermore that the townsfolk claim that the PCs themselves were present when these accidents occurred. Of course, this is the work of the doppelgangers. As soon as the PCs realize this fact, it'll be a scramble to deal with the sabotage from the inside while enacting their own sabotage against the Ironfang forces assembling across the Hills.

Cherry on top: Mayor Thom is going to plead desperately with them to check on his old friend (and flame) Navah who he hasn't heard from in some weeks (not unusual in itself, but he's worried now that he is taking the Ironfang threat seriously.

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