I vote Cavalier/Samurai for the next talented class, and if you think you can make that more awesome by adding Paladin/AntiPaladin that's great!, but I don't know how you'd do it.
But I don't know how you got fighter and rogue to be so awesome either, so do what makes sense to you, and we'll buy it!
And when you DO get around to talented spellcasters, make sure they are Spell Points compatible? I now run a spell points/talented fighters and rogues game, and it is SO much more awesome than core rules, and still works with all Pathfinder material!
The fact you think we misread the rules suggests you have no idea how either sympathetic pain or fear effects work in play. If it didn't have so many limitations, it would be way, way OP. It is, in fact, MOST powerful at high level. It's a game-winner at 20th level.
Yes, there is a touch attack. Those very rarely miss even for wizards, and the DM has a better attack bonus.
Now, take a 20th level DM. Let's say he has an Int of 4. So the save DC of this power, which takes two hands to use, is a pathetic 17. Let's further assume that no foe fails a save against it ever, in the history of the character.
It's STILL his most powerful option.
Round one, peg a foe with sympathetic pain. It makes its save, obviously. It is now shaken for 5 rounds. This is because the duration is 1 round/2 DM levels, and a target that makes its save HALVES THAT DURATION.
I pointed this out above, very carefully.
Round two, DM hits the same foe with sympathetic pain. It saves. It takes a new shaken effect. Oh, but what happens if you take a shaken effect while already shaken?
Becoming Even More Fearful: Fear effects are cumulative. A shaken character who is made shaken again becomes frightened, and a shaken character who is made frightened becomes panicked instead. A frightened character who is made shaken or frightened becomes panicked instead.
So, the old shaken runs 4 more rounds, the new one 5 rounds, so for 4 rounds the target is frightened. And what does that mean?
"Frightened: Characters who are frightened are shaken, and in addition they flee from the source of their fear as quickly as they can. They can choose the paths of their flight. Other than that stipulation, once they are out of sight (or hearing) of the source of their fear, they can act as they want. If the duration of their fear continues, however, characters can be forced to flee if the source of their fear presents itself again. Characters unable to flee can fight (though they are still shaken)."
Even a measly 8th level DM can now keep a target frightened forever -- just keep hitting it with sympathetic pain which EVEN WHEN THE FOE SAVES runs 2 rounds.
But you wanted to see what happened to a 20th level foe. Well, on round 3 the DM uses sympathetic pain again, and AGAIN THE FOE SAVES, so its shaken for 5 more rounds. But it's already frightened! What does that mean? Panic!
"Panicked: Characters who are panicked are shaken, and they run away from the source of their fear as quickly as they can, dropping whatever they are holding. Other than running away from the source, their paths are random. They flee from all other dangers that confront them rather than facing those dangers. Once they are out of sight (or hearing) of any source of danger, they can act as they want. Panicked characters cower if they are prevented from fleeing."
The target's saving throw bonus DOES NOT MATTER. Heck, immunity to mind-affecting effects doesnt matter, because the totem power isn't one (both because it doesn't say it is, and because it's a Fort save). SR doesn't help, because it's a supernatural ability. Only immunity to fear can save you.
Two rounds to force nearly any foe to flee you. By 12th level, in three rounds you can panic targets even if they make every single saving throw.
Now, since you said hexes are a better option, how about you show me the witch built that can even come close to being that useful?
Having played and GMed a few death mages, I can say that run properly they are extremely effective!
Dance macabre, by itself, makes them the better non-evil necromancers than any core rules character. That may not matter to other people, but it’s a big deal for us.
Also, fetishes are universally accepted as superior to any other option at our table. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I want more fetishes!
The light armor proficiency doesn’t exist to the death mage can pretend to be a magus or cleric. It’s there so the death mage doesn’t have to waste a round casting mage armor or something similar.
Pump Cha and Dex. Don’t worry about Wis and Int any more than you would for any character (Perception and Skill Piints are useful, but it’s not a big deal)
At 1st and 2nd level you don’t have fetishes anyway. Prep dance macabre and cause fear. Cause fear is awesome at low level, and since you automatically know all death mage spells there’s no reason not to use it. Like a sorcerer you fall back on a weapon if you run low on spells, but instead of a crossbow or dagger, you can take a falchion (and have a better attack bonus and hp than our theoretical sorcerer). Your arcane options are more limited than the 1st or 2nd level sorcerer, but either dance macabre or cause fear is always useful.
At third, you take fetishes, and gain two fetish powers. If you want to maintain melee as you back-up, you take death mask. (If not get a spiked gauntlet so you threaten so rogues can flank with you to sneak attack, and otherwise ignore weaponry). Death mask is flat superior to instrument of death, since you can do it as often as you lack and it lasts for hours and doesn’t cost anything.
Also for melee take deadly blow now and warding spirits at 5th or vice versa, depending on if you want to start with offense or defense.
A note on attunement. In our experience in a published adventure by 5th level you will be attuned to 90% of what you will run into for the rest of your adventuring career. Attuning isn’t expensive, doesn’t take long, and you can do it between encounters. Assaulting a drow stronghold and you’re not attuned to them yet? Hit a scout group, take a moment, and you’re good to go forever. It’s an awesome roleplaying consideration, but not a major power limiting factor.
If you aren’t making a melee death mage (and you don’t have to), ignore death mask for now. Warding spirits is still a great option (at 3rd level you may have the best AC in the group), but death focus, healing spirits, and sympathetic pain are also great choices.
Sympathetic pain, by the way, is one of the most powerful things SGG has ever released. A successful save just HALVES THE DURATION. Of a fear effect! Once you are 8th level, if a target *saves* they are shaken for 2 rounds. Next round you hit them again and EVEN IF THEY SAVE they are now frightened. And if you want, you can keep them frightened, no matter their saves, as long as you want to take the actions to do so.
No limit to how often you can do it. We’ve had AMAZINGLY effective death mages with this power alone. It’s the “save and flee” build. It’s SU, so SR does not apply. GMs learn you need to not depend on a single foe against a team with a Save And Flee DM.
And about being a one-school pony? It turns out that makes Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus *awesome* choices, since they affect your most powerful spell at every spell level. Combine with your high Cha and death focus, and you may have the highest save DCs of your party.
About the time cause fear is useless? Scare. (And if you are a Save and Flee build? You pick off your Scare victims with sympathetic pain.) Scare gets too low-level? Take a break from fear effects and use ray of exhaustion. At 7th level, go back to fear effects with, well, fear. At 9th you have some options – magic jar, waves of fatigues, but if you are a Save and flee build just pick up Heighten spell and stick to fear. At 11th you may want a circle of death in your pocket for hordes, but otherwise its eyebite. (Sicken a foe a round as a swift action? Let’s see your debuffing cleric manage that!) Also, you melee types now get harm, which is suddenly a real threat.
All necromancy, the only school with major spells with Fort and Will saves, so you can target the effects based on whether the target looks wise or tough. Again, this allows the death mage to get a higher DC than most spellcaster, and thus his limited selections are effective more often.
Just ignore the Int & Wis question of fetishes. Healing spirits is worthwhile EVEN if you only have a 10 Wis. Don’t feel you need to boost it, it’s emergency healing not your main focus. But it’s a MOVE action, so you can get your reduced healing in AND make an offensive action. The cleric can heal more, but not without failing to help drop foes. Even the paladin can’t heal someone else and hit something. AND it's ranged! Those little details are obviously WHY it’s based on Wisdom – it’s healing based, and if you could do it all damn day based on your pumped CHA it’d be OP. You think of it as MAD, but I have seen it in play. It’s balance, and its brilliant.
(You CAN build a death mage to be primarily a healer. Lots of temporary hit point buffs before or early in fights, and lots of Wis for healing spirits. Ive seen it done. It's a lot like trying to make your bard the priamry healer.)
Same is true of sympathetic pain. If its save DC was based on CHA, it’s be WAAAY overpowered, As it is it’s extremely effective if foes NEVER make their saves!
AND the death mage has double the spell points of a cleric.
It is also a GREAT "fifth character," when the roles of cleric-type, rogue-type, fighter-type, and wizard-type have been filled.
The death mage is extremely effective AND flavorful as-is, and can easily hold its own against other character classes.
And while Fiery Dragon created great d20 products, they have even less Pathfinder experience than Green Ronin.
I'm afraid this is a big part of my concern too. I can do a workman's job of converting to Pathfinder... what I need is brilliant conversion work I'd never think of on my own. People like Christina Stiles and Owen Stephens have lots and lots of Pf experience. And Mr. Stephens has done awesome work for GR before (though maybe never on Freeport? I dunno).
Why not get expertise like that on this book? Hearing Christina and Owen were on it would make me much more interested.
More than half of the characters in the games I run and play in who are considered "alpha" characters (the ones who define a game, take center stage, and are the most effective) are single-class fighters. true in games from 1st to 17th level. (I haven't had any 17th+ level games in a while). No other class hit the sweet spot of flexible, survivable, and effective anything like as often.
I sometimes wish I could sit in on the games of people who feel fighters are underpowered so i could actually see the problem they are experiencing first hand.
As GM, one of my roles is arbiter of how the world works. I try to make that clear when I am meeting players for the first time. Within that role, I do require some reason for player class choices.
Now, I'm pretty flexible about that. I've only ever had it be a problem once n all my games. I had a player who had been specifically dismissive of divine powers and gods, and in the middle of a dungeon he wanted to take a level of cleric of a deity that matched his alignment, while stating he disliked the god.
The player explicitly stated that since "no one could stop him" from taking a level of cleric he could prove gods were stupid. Either he'd gain his powers dispite maligning his god -- in which case gods are chumps -- or he wouldn't -- in which case gods are bullies.
If he'd selected a trickster god, or perhaps a god of logic or irony, I might have let him do it and run with the consequences. But his plan was clearly going to be disruptive to the game. The other players didn't want to spend time listening to him debate theology with himself, and I saw no reason he should be able to pick up cleric levels with a background of despising gods.
So I flat told him he couldn't take the level. He claimed I "didn't have the authority" to do that, and that obviously he could write whatever he wanted to on his sheet. Which eventually forced me to come to "I will not run your character if that's what you decide to write."
That player showed up at the game with a level of cleric, and the group as a whole decided not to play that night. We did a boardgame instead. We invited him to play it with us, but he refused. Even spent about half an hour "playing" by himself, declaring that he was killing other players and rolling dice, and stating that since no one was stoping him he could loot their corpses.
I honestly think we had a more serious disconnect than his class. A couple of years later he apologized, and we sometimes play card and mini games with him again.
If I run a game where I state all wizards must take years of schooling, you need a cover story to take a level of wizard. If paladins are blessed by the gods you need to play a character who could gain such a blessing (though Jim Butcher has what I'd call an atheist paladin in The Dresden Files, so I try to retain my flexibility). If sorcerers are presented like mutants whose powers kick in at puberty and your character is 45, we need to work together to find a way for your story to make sense with the campaign world's story in order to add a sorcerer level.
But my players *want* me to present a world with rules they can explore and depend on... so as I said it's almost never been an issue.
What I'd really like is a book on how to add any and all of your classes to existing adventures. Adding godling ideas to typical plotlines, replacing types of bad guys with armigers and magisters, and how to support those classes for PCs (who gets the paladin rewards if there's a templar in your group, does a magister get cleric rewards or wizard rewards?).
For everything you seem to want, I find Super genius has a few good options.
My favorite rogue replacement is the shadow assassin, from the Genius Guide to the shadow Assassin. It’s a cool darkness-manipulating stealth class.
I’m also a big fan of the Wolf Head, from Ultimate Options: Power of the Ninja. It’s a ki-less ninja archetype that has no Asian flavor.
For monk my new favorite is hands-down the Master of Arms archetype from Anachronistic Adventurers: The Tough, which can do monk-like tricks unarmed or with weapon groups. You can add it to the tough class from the same book, or to the enforcer from Anachronistic Adventurers: The Enforcer, or using the rules from the Genius Guide to Martial Archetypes you could add it to the fighter or even the monk itself (for an, in my humble opinion, “better monk.”)
For swashbucklers or many classes, including fighters and monks but also the magus swashbuckler the Picaroon, and the monk swashbuckler archetype the Seaswain (which was my favorite monk option until the Master of Arms came along!), I recommend Advanced Options: Fight Like a Pirate.
The Questioner wrote:
KTFish7 and Endzeitgeist; while it is true that the content of your reviews baffles me, I meant it quite sincerely when I stated that the bewilderingly-positive nature of the existing reviews could not be a matter of dubious authenticity. I was speaking quite literally and I meant to insinuate nothing. I do not question your integrity as reviewers! It is equally true, however, that I would absolutely suspect the existing reviews of being more or less blatant corporate propaganda if I had never heard of your names before, or if I did not have access to your established body of reviews here on the forums.
So, to be clear, you do NOT mean to suggest these two reviewers have the bad ethics to BE shills, but you DO believe SGG has the bad ethics as a company to hire shills.
Since, if these reviews were from anyone else, that is what you would believe.
That's still pretty insulting.
Comparisons-wise, I allow more Super Genius Games material than Paizo material, and I allow about the same amount of Rite material as I do Paizo material.
Me too! I actually think SGG's material is better-thought out and better-balanced than Paizo's on average. I mean, can you imaging the howls if a 3pp had released the magus?
I allow all Super Genius, nad have never regreted it. I also like the overall quality of Dreamscarred Press (if you are interested in psionics) Rite Publishing, Open Design , and Jon Brazer Enterprises (especially the Kingmaker stuff)
Super Genius Games have a selection of Races. I'm currently playing a Chelish character who was always teased for being the bastard Tiefling son of some devil, but his mum told him she was seduced by a Satyr when on a Pathfinder mission in the Mwangi jungle. He knows in his heart he's a half-Satyr (Piper from Races of Hoof and Horn) so he's now on a journey to the Mwangi Expanse to prove it (Serpent's Skull Adventure Path). If you hurry, Super Genius Games currently have a 50% off "can't make it to PaizoCon" sale on all their PDFs.
I'll second SGG in general, and their races stuff in particular, as really good and worth getting. They have great crunch in a lot of formats, and it's all broken up by topic, so if you want more battle options you pick up Feats of Battle, if you want more morally ambiguous PCs you pick up The Death Knight. And get all their Bullet Points -- theyre worth it.
In short, SGG can help build a campaign world by giving you rules that inspire plots, which is awesome.
Then I'd recommend Dreamscarred if you want Psionics. Rite if you want big lists of new spells or monsters with their own 20-level classes. Open Design if they cover a topic SGG or Rite haven't already. And Jon Brazer if you want stuff that ties into Kingmaker or Shackled Skull.
And while I've already mentioned SGG, their Super Genius Games Presents line of books deserve their own mention. Unlike the more crunch-heavy SGG books, these have awesome abckground amterial. The rules to support it are rock-solid too, of course, but if you want vile bad guys, dragonfolk, pirate drinking games, and a history of magic and how it ties into the three power words in the core rules, these are for you! You could build a whole campaign from these elements.
First, Owen and SGG are among the best-regarded and best reviewed Pathfinder 3pp. Second, Owen's credits with Pathfinder go back to its first releases, his credits with d20 go back to its creation, and he is consistently hired by Paizo to work on their major releases. Not only has he shown a clear undertsanding of how the pieces of PFRPG go together, he created some of them.
Third, he's a designer on the product we're discussing, he *didn't* design the spell most of us agree is broken, and he chimed in here to answer some design theory questions that were express asked of him. And then you slam him and his company with vague claims of ignorance, low quality, and uncaring marketing that can ruin people's games?
I allow all paizo (with a very few specific exceptions, like the Antagonize feat), all SGG (with no exceptions -- the rules are BETTER balanced than paizo!), most Jon Brazer Ent., and some Open Design, Rite Publishing, and 4 winds Gaming. I'll consider anything though most 3.5 WotC material is now out, and all 3.5 3pp is out -- they just end up being too different to integrate smoothly.
I'm particularly a big fan of SGG's godlings (which dont play as at *all* overpowered in my games), armiger, time thief, time warden, witch hunter and their archetype books, and Feats of Subterfuge. And Rite's monsters-as-classes books have been very useful.
And Spiritual Weapon Feats, which may edge out Time Thief in my mind as best Pathfinder 3pp product ever, though it's a bit early to day that.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Is there any reason the Tarnhelm couldn't be a ring or a cloak? I have a lot of players who would love to get relics as rings of invisibility or cloaks of invisibility!
Are we going to get more of these? Its already a pretty big book I know, but 8 just isnt enough of these! (Thats not a complaint, I just want more!) And, more templates for different kinds of items would also be a big help.
I'd happily buy Relics of the Godlings 2, or even a 96-page expanded version of the book.
From the ethereal jaunt spell: "An ethereal creature can't attack material creatures, and spells you cast while ethereal affect only other ethereal things."
Okay, so there's the other nail in the coffin of Ashiel's tactic.
For sale of argument, let's say you can maintain a projected image after ethereal jaunt. (I don't think you can, but fine). Now, what happens when you want to use it to attack the material plane?
According to project image "If you desire, any spell you cast whose range is touch or greater can originate from the projected image instead of from you. "
But it DOES NOT say the image casts the spell. YOU cast the spell, which originates at the image.
What does ethereal jaunt say about spells you cast? "An ethereal creature can't attack material creatures, and spells you cast while ethereal affect only other ethereal things."
So even if Ashiel is right and you can keep directing the image after an ethereal jaunt, when you cast spells and have them originate at the image, they still only effect ethereal targets. So the tactic of using a material project image to affect material creatures with spells you cast as ethereal is explicitly forbidden. No matter where those spells originate, if you cast them while ethereal, they affect only ethereal creatures.
Lemme start by saying I very much enjoy your products, so the following question comes form a place of real curiosity and affection.
Why do I want this? What makes these pirate spells good enough, in theme or mechanics, to make me buy it when I already have the APG, UM, and 1001 spells?
I want you to have an answer that convinces me, I really do. I'm just not sure what design philosophy you could have had for pirate spells specifically, that would create something with enough extra utility to be worth another reference. I am running a pirate game, I just don't know what kind of magic I need for that game that won't already be covered by the sources I have.
So.. sell me on this?
Ooooh, excellent idea with the Rite and SGG classes. "The Secrets of Renegade Teamwork", to follow the theme as renegade feats. The War Master was one of the primary inspirations for this series, and you can see hints of it here and there in the archetypes. I'll definitely add that to the list of ideas for later.
I love the war master, and I loved this. I'd buy a renegade version!
I just don't have a problem with this. I mean, it never comes up as a discussion.
My players just want to play. They don't care if they are different levels. I've had games where the group spread form 2nd to 7th level in the same group, The 2nd level characters were more careful, and the 7th level were bolder. And, of course, since the 2nd level players just needed 4,500 xp to get to 3rd, and the 7th level character needed 24,000 to get to 8th, the problem fixed itself in time. Even with more missed games, by the time the 7th level character was 8th, the lowest level PC was 5th and halfway to 6th.
I understand what people are saying when they say "When you dont get to play D&D a given week, the punishment is you didn't get to play D&D. You dont also need to dock the xp."
But for my players, getting to play D&D is the reward, and it doesnt mater what level they are at.
On the other hand, it also doesn't come up often except by design. (I played in a game with a 9th level wizard and a bunch of 2nd level characters he was trying to keep alive. That was a blast, but it's obviously a special case.) Our players rarely miss games, and if too many are going to miss one we break out a boardgame instead.
The few people we've run into who ever seemed touchy about how level differences were going to be handled weren't a good match for us anyway, although they dropped out of our games before there was any level difference in their characters. (One dropped out because the PCs wanted to give out magic items to whoever could use them best, rather than use on of her complex guild-loot-division systems that tracked value to the cp and used a MVP system to decided who got to pick items how often. The other refused to play if the GM wouldn't roll all dice in the open. Their issues with our play style seemed deeper than level differentials.)
But if a player we otherwise got along with did have a major issue with level differences in PCs, I'm sure we'd work something out. So far I just seem to attract people who think trying to be heroic as the underdogs is a fun as heck challenge, rather than worry about being "behind" somehow.
Well, I'm starting a Brand New campaign tonight! It's Golden Suns of Kor Kammor, a gestalt Pathfinder game allowing nearly all official Pathfinder material (there are, like, two feats and three spells I've outlawed until they get errata, and there is no way to detect alignment -- even smiting won't do it, since hp are abstract you can't tell IC if you "did more damage" because you smote evil, or because you crit, or because the bad guy only had 5 hp left), all Super Genius Games material, and a lot of Rite Publishing and Jon Brazer Enterprises material (and more potentially allowed with a GM review).
I hope to run it once a month. (Our gaming schedule is SO stuffed!)
At the end of the last campaign, Silken Sails of Kor Kammor, the heroes managed to reform the Aldean Church, and help the Messaih Reborn ascend to godhood. As a result the world is entering a new Golden Age, as mighty heroes are born who can face off against the vast evils that have taken over much of the known world in the previous ages. All PCs are in their late teens or early twenties, and have been identified as "reborn saints" granted special powers by the new Aldean god (hence the gestalt classes) and in most cases trained in Nuevo Akkador, the City of Heroes (and seat of the newly-restored Aldean Church).
Characters start at 3rd level, and background histories must include 2 noteworthy adventures the character has been on. The characters are:
Kinsen Jelt (Male NG human seer oracle of life/celestial sorcerer) Descended from the sister of the Messiah reborn, Kinsen (Kin's Son) is a scion of divinity, through whom magic flows life blood. As a boy Kinsen foresaw an invasion of his homeland by the Gnargir (flind/gnoll empire with half-demons and godlings common), and his divinely-inspired guidance was instrumental in its defense (resulting in him being taken to the front lines despite his youth). Then he insisted on aiding the enslaved orc shock-troops his people captured during the fighting settle as a (relatively) peaceful folk (though most hire out as mercenaries), resulting in a vast political power he has no interest in exercising.
Brand (Male LG half-orc paladin/inquisitor) One of the previously enslaved shock troopers Kinsen helped re-settle. Brand had no name as a slave, then on day threw himself in front of a scorching ray meant to slay Kinsen. The fire branded with the Holy Tree of the Aldean Church (an acknowledge miracle), and he became a paladin/inquisitor. Originally an orc, he is a half orc because the miracle was caused by a hound archon having itself bound to the orc in order to help guard Kinsen. Brand was taken to Akkador a few years ago for training, where he rooted out several bad elements by the simple expedient of allowing himself to be captured by bigots, tortured, and then rescued.
Hundred-Handed Lui ("loo-oi")(Male LN summer elf magus/monk) Reincarnated champion of the far east, Lui underwent the Gauntlet of a Century of Blows, a training exercise designed to identify reincarnated :Great heroes," and on his sea voyage to Nuevo Akkador helped defend the ship against the Bloodwind Pirates.
Mira Fatesdottir (Female CG dwarf clever godling/summoner) Literally a god born in a mortal body so she can experience mortal life before becoming the dwarven Goddess of Crafts. Her eidolon is The Breaker, an earth element assigned by her pantheon to keep her alive, because if she dies as a mortal, she will never achieve godhood. Mira fought off a pack of wererats as an infant, and then was captured by slavers working for Kaug Blackspear, an evil god also born into mortal form as a result of his immortal form behind killed. However she masterminded a slave revolt (and managed to badly wound Kaug Blackspear, who fled), then marching the survivors to Akkador as the nearest safe city. Though not Aldean herself, she respects the newly-reformed church.
Nenevieve Ravenswing (Female N aellar witch/shadow assassin) Nenevieve is the reincarnation of Dyrienne the Night Queen, a fallen saint who was responsible for the original downfall of the Aldean church. The Messaih reborn is giving her one more life to redeem herself, before she is cast into the Outer Darkness, home of the Elder Gods, forever. She and a number of other girls of her village were nearly killed by a hag who wished to drink their blood to gain power. Then she was captured by Kaug Blackspear who wished to turn her to evil, and instead she was rescued and befriended by Mira Fatesdottir.
Dellen Whitesmith (Female NG human fighter/armiger) Dellen is a smith's apprentice (a whitesmith works in mithral and adamantine, having it as a family name is a note of coming from a long line of master smiths) who thought she was 6 foot 4 inches and able to bench press a horse as a teen because her parents where both big northerners. She refuses to believe she is a "reborn saint" because she (unlike every other character) can't cast spells. She fought off a goblin attack on her father's forge as a child, and ended up being one of the guards of the caravan that brought her to Akkador after a few guards were killed in a Gnargir (flind/gnoll) attack. Fights with a longspear and tower shield (with spear brace armiger talent). She has trained to be in the Ivory Guard, so she can protect the "real" saints reborn, which is the only reason she agrees to go along with the group on its first adventure (to protect them).
Grun Ironhoof (male LE taurian Rog-Kalem/gunslinger) Grun was raised in Lybrittia, a patriarchal, misogynistic minotaur island culture, and was hired out to the Bloodsail Pirates as muscle. When an Aldean Wave Cathderal defeated the ship and captured him, he eventually agreed to give his parole so he would have more freedom to move about. The Aldeans have identified him as a reborn saint, and sentenced him to seven years service to the church, which Grun accepted. He was then sent on an expedition to fight Lybrittian slavers and explicitly given a chance to escape, to see if he could be trusted. Grun takes his seven year sentence seriously, and thus fought his kin with horn and musket as best he was able. It's already been established than Grun and Mira don't get along, but that's largely been chalked up to their racial and cultural differences so far (and actually Mira is more often the one to start trouble).
As far as the players know, their characters are to accompany the elderly Mother Wykka on a short trip up-river to the edge of the Dengdel forrest. There, every year for the past thirty years, Mother Wikka has taken the tribute of the Khek, a powerful tribe of lizardmen who were unwilling to convert to Aldeanism, but were willing to ally themselves to the secular power the Aldean Church represents. In return, Wykka gives them potions and salves for healing, disease removal, and good crops (worth exactly the amount of the tribute to be collected).
It's supposed to be a milk run...
So, Xorial makes a good point. What daily Pathfinder content is avilable right now? Especially free content? Id hate to be missing good stuff.
To open things, I know about the spell variants Owen Stephens does on twitter, under #Spelltweets. He usually does 2-3 day, and definitely averages more than 1/day.
Jon Brazer has started doing something similar under #Monstertweet with variant monsters. He doesn't seem as regular.
Super Genius Games Facebook page (www.facebook.com/supergeniusgames,) also does Microfeats, which are short feat ideas by Owen Stephens again, one every M-F.
Owen Stephenes also has a Google+ page (https://plus.google.com/u/0/101933517887238517736/posts) where he does some kind of Pathfinder item every weekday, under the pathfinder+ title.
Kobold Quarterly has some awesome free stuff on their website. Not daily, perhaps, but an important part of my reading weekly. (http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/category/articles)
What else is out there?
Also, for the sake of you 3PP guys, I've started setting up a sort of 3PP Central on the site, with some info for you. The page currently has Hold Time Requests and Ad Run date info.
Let me say that this kind of cooperation between 3pp and other "Pathfinder compatible stakeholders" (for lack of a better term) is exactly what I didn't see during the 3e days that makes me excited about Pathfinder as a community, as well as a rules set.
Let me add to the reviewer who said this is the best SGG book to date. It is! It may even be the best 3pp Pathfinder book to date!
For anyone even considering buying this book, do. The way to expands grit is amazing, and fixes every problem I had with the mechanic. And the fusilier is the best swashbuckling/musketeer class I think d20 has ever had!
This book can work in any game, of any style. In fact, it fixes the problem barbarians with greataxes have had keeping up with high-crit weapon builds, which totally blew my mind!
A thousand kudos to Owen and the SGG team!
In my campaign, an antipaladin PC has taken over a local abandoned keep, and declared himself Baron of Agony.
He initially worked the local farmers and hunters mercilessly to feed his appetites for fine foods and wine, while taking out his pleasures on their wives and daughters and terrorizing their children.
Then he expanded his territories, and found a new farm, which (until his arrival) were producing even more good food and wine. When he conquered them, their productivity went down. When he demanded to know why, the foreman showed him books proving that being worked to exhaustion, beaten, hunted, and ravaged was bad for morale and work hours.
So the anti-paladin stopped abusing his people, and took time to defend them from other local threats, so they can make him more food and wine. And while killing baby orcs may be evil, it does solve the problem of orc raiders growing up in his lands. If he wants to kill, torture or abuse people, he raids outlaying baronies other than his own. He's even set up a people's council to handle most criminal matters.
The antipaladins' player claims he's doing this because he's greedy,. gluttonous, lazy, and doesn't want to sully his hands with "law" and "justice." That's certainly evil. And he randomly raids nearby baronies, which is certainly chaotic.
But his own lands are becoming a model of well-run, secure, hands-off peasantry. Isn't that a good and lawful act, which should cost him his antipaladin status? Even if he has the worst of intentions, is the end result enough to make him a CE fighter without bonus feats?
No, see, the thing to do is demand a third stand-alone Kragnar book, then we can have Print Loot for Less and print Kragnar as two different books!
Champions/Hero/Justice Incorporated. I honestly don't even know what's system and what's RPG name anymore. It looks like the engine has been used both for similar-but-not-the-same RPGs, then codified. Then used for five (six?) editions of the codified version. And it's all fairly compatible, which I'm sure did not help my experience.
But in addition to a fair amount of online corporate hype (some, i confess, about being able to stop a bullet with their rulebook), one group of players just *gushed* at me about the game system. They were totally convinced, given my playstyle, that once I touched Champions I'd have a gamegasm and never use any other system again.
Creating a character took three days. I think those were four hour days, too, so it was a part-time job. I was promised it was worth it, because I could make my character be *exactly* what I wanted. I wanted to be precognative, and was told it didn't handle that well. Or being significantly weaker than an average person. Or being rich. or... sigh. Whatever.
I see why the people who love it love it. And I might have been able to. Until we had a fight. And it took 9 hours. To get through 14 second.
For. Teen. Seconds.
I rebooted the whole campaign with me as GM in Mutants and Masterminds. Worked much better.
Someone already DID "create Pathfinder before Pathfinder" – it was called Arcana Evolved, and it was backed by Monte Cook! And yet, it was totally unable to break significant market-share compared to WotC's products for as long as WotC was making things that worked off the same network.
WotC abandoned the 3.x player network because it was the only way to start making games that weren't OGL-compatible. And they did THAT for exactly the same reason they've stopped selling PDFs: to prove to their corporate overlords they had "fixed" a problem they were internally claiming were hurting sales.
When WotC sales go down, they must answer to Darth Potato Head. If sales are down for D&D, the Dice-Bouncing Department Head (exact title may vary) must explain why it's not *his* fault. The easiest way to do this is to blame the actions of someone who is no longer with the company (or assign actions to someone who is no longer with the company, even if they were only tangentally involved – after all they arent around to defend themselves anymore).
Darth Potato Head (DPH): Why are D&D sales down? You had a movie, just like Lord of the Rings! Why can't we license D&D toys to people?!
Dice-Bouncing Department Head (DBDH): One of the earlier guys decided to sell easily-pirated copies of our books, my lord. That means we can't sell as many copies, so our sales are artificially deflated. It's not my fault!
DPH: Then stop selling those!
(Next fiscal quarter)
DPH: Okay, NOW why are sales down?! They should have bounded back after you stopped selling pee-dee-effs.
DBDH (may be a different person than last time): My lord, the previous directors allow any rebel rabble that wishes sell games that use our rules. Fanbois can sell such thigns out of their garages, and we can't stop them!
DPH: Then stop making games they can do that to!
DBDH: There are... difficulties... with such a plan my lord. You see, our player base is...
DPH: Your player base is nothing! Make a new game! Make a new player base!
(Next fiscal quarter)
DPH: For the Love of Monopoly, NOW what's wrong?
DBDH (yet another guy): Well, eye-covered master of evil, it seems some designers failed to capture the Essentials of a good D&D system, but we have a plan to fix this...
And so it goes. Now, the Paizo version:
Lisa: Erik, why are sales down!?
Erik (looks confused): Ah, they aren't?
Lisa (mollified): Oh, Good. I was having a flashback, I guess. But.. What if sales *were* down? What would you do?
Erik (confident): Make better games!
Lisa: Good! Good plan. Weird, I haven't heard that before.
The Genius Guide to Feats of Spellcasting, which is Pathfinder compatible, has the amazing Blood Mage feat. It gives you access to additional spells, but you have to earn blood marks (by taking damage) to cast them. It's the simplest, most balanced blood magic rules I have ever come across.
2. The Pathfinder core rules has magic walls in the environment chapter, and how to make them. You might be able to convince a GM to use those for 3.5 as blood magic, since they'd let you use your mark-wall-with-blood idea.
My 3.5 books mostly sit in a dusty box now, so all my advice is Pathfinder oriented. Sorry I cant help more.
May be worn by athletes as an outergarment, or concealed as smallclothes, depending on the culture.
Black Days of Kor Kammor
It is unbeleiveably sweet how many of you have been so concerned, and I am very sorry to have worried you. That was never my intention, and had Mike S. not sent me an email that got through the most stringent of my personal filters, I might not have ever realized it. So, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry to have dropped off the face of the messageboards.
I am likely not going to have much of a presence here from now on, due to changes in my personal life. I am fine, and happy, but lack the free time or will to tackle discussions online atop of those I have in meatspace. It's not that I don't love you all, it's that I have had to prioritize and this is one of the things I love that was below the cutoff. Again, please accept my most humble apologies.
That does, however, leave one unfinished bit of business, and that's the Black Days.
When I begin this storytime, BDoKK was ongoing, though many weeks behind my posts. Since then, it has ended, as it was designed to. I wish I had the time and will to post about ever game session, but I just don't. However, I am also unwilling to leave you entirely hanging, especially given the positive feedback I have consistently received. So, here is a quick recap of the campaign, followed by the last game session.
The Heralds of Dawn discover not long after their adventures in Hollowfaust that the Goblins all follow a single goblin king, know as the Marrow Lord for his tendency to crack open and eat the bones of his foes. More than a century old, the Marrow Lord is behind the growth of goblin power, and the state of the southern lands at the beginning of the campaign. He is also responsible for killing Mhyssi's family (to prevent a prophecy that her line would "Bring the Herald of His Destruction"), and for controlling the demons that stole the Erossium, the holy statue Glidda was searching for.
The spell component pouch Mhyssi got from her hobgob owner, Kittur, contains among its powders and ichors a rare Silver Lotus seed, which Mhyssi simply ignored because she does not need it for anything. But it is needed by the Marrow Lord to ascend to godhood, which is why Bhog Bloodbeard was willing to risk war to retrieve it.
After a few more adventures, the goblin nation moves to war, invading the Westlands to gain access to the last living silver lotus, which is in the homeland of the Spring Elves. Mhyssi forms a mercenary company to help in the fighting, and everything takes a military turn for several sessions.
Deep in the Fortress Mountains, holding an ancient Traveler stronghold, the Heralds come across a more-than-ancient dragon, a creature so old it has no teeth or fire left. The hobgobs seek to enslave it, and the Heralds manage to kill it, an act only possible because Voronex has drtagon blood. In its death throws the dying dragon reveals that Voronex is the Pyre reborn, the living embodiment of the progress of knowledge. He may become a god on the last Great Eclipse (the Black Day), or that role may go to the Morrow Lord.
The goblins are turned back, but Mhyssi is captured by the Morrow Lord and her Silver Lotus seed taken. Voronex leads the Herlads to recover her from Urj Hundor, the Goblin Seat in the dread southern lands, despite a warning that her return will cost the world more than she can repay. In the effort, Glidda is killed and her spirit enslaved to serve the Marrow Lord as her Ghost Consort, and Teria and Daronelle captured, enslaved, ravaged, killed and reincarnated. Because they are given new names, are broken of their will and take new bodies, Voronex and the Heralds believe them dead and safely in the afterlife.
The Heralds rush to find how Voronex or the Marrow Lord could become a god, as only one will be able to do so. Mhyssi discovers that with her sword, she can summon angles to fight in righteous wars once every decade. It was this sword, and it's power, Gres Grekis had sought, and he continues to be an on-again, off-again ally of the Heralds as he seeks to convince Mhyssi to sell or trade the sword to him.
There are steps Voronex must take, from building his first temple to slaying a demons, and as he takes them the Marrow Lord takes similar steps. The two race toward godhood, knowing that a final confrontation is inevitable. According to a angle of lore, one of the two WILL become a god by end of the year.
Finally, word reach the Heralds that the Marrow Lord has laid siege to Beidien, the City of Light on the edge pf the Last Ocean and home to the Fountain of Divinity. While the fountain has no power when used by most mortals, it is the final step in achieving godhood. The Marrow Lord has meet all other requirements – if he drinks from the fountain, he will become the Dark God of Bloodshed.
The walls of Beidien are held by the Eternal Gates, which prevent any foe from bypassing their entryway. They do not, however, prevent things like spells, catapult stones or firepots from going past. The Undefiled, the defenders of Beidien, tried to hold the walls of the city and use ranged attacks to destroy the Marrow Lord's army. However, the Marrow Lord's forces managed to kill more than half of the city's defenders, and destroy it walls. Once the Eternal Gates are breached, nothing will lay between the foul goblin army and the guts of Beidien.
The Heralds arrive just in time for the Marrow Lord to try his Great Gambit – he uses the power of the Erossium to turn a broad group of Beidien's population into his loyal lovers. They turn on the Undefiled, as they are already INSIDE the Eternal gates, and try to overthrow the defenders and open the Eternal Gates from the inside. Among those present are the reincarnated Tiera and Daronelle, who mean no harm when they passed the gates, but are affected by the Erossium to loyally fight for the Marrow Lord. Voronex recognizes them with his spirit-sight (gained as part of his march towards divinity), and leaps in front of Teira to prevent Auriji from landing a killing blow. This slays V, and Auriji is nrealy killed by Daronelle until Quince slays both of the former Heralds. Mhyssi summons her angle army, and turns the battle of the fountain to the heralds victory, but just barely.
Freed, the spirit of Teira returns as a shaman spirit totem for Mhyssi and informs her that all may not be lost. While the Eternal Gates stand, though there is no wall around them, the Marrow Lord cannot enter. Voronex is already here on the other hand, and being dead need not stop him from becoming a god. There is a ritual that must be done, and the Undefiled cannot help. Indeed there are nearly no Undefiled left, and those that are must hunt down the last of the Marrow Lord's Beloved Betrayers. And if Mhyssi is interupted, the ritual at the fountain will fail, assuring victory for the Marrow Lord.
Humtum, having lived here in shame for months, promises to protect Mhyssi with his life, and Voronex as well. With this act, he finally becomes a true Dwarven Defender. That leaves just Quince, Auriji and Gres Grekis to defend the Eternal Gates. As Gres Grekis prepares to teleport away, Mhyssi tosses him the Blade of the West Wind, (Vekivaard). She promises it is his if he does his best to defend the Gates. After a moment he tosses the sword back to her, and she is disappointed. Then, Grekis states if they win, he'll take the blade and any other prize he wishes from Mhyssi. If he fails, he'll be dead and she need not consider what other desires he might have.
With a smile, Mhyssi agrees. She and Humtum rush V's body to the Fountain, to make their fallen friend a god.
Quince, Auriji and Gres Grekis turn and march to the lowest level of the Eternal gates. The magic of the Gates has never been broken – as long as its entrance hall is held, no force can bypass it through any means. But the gates themselves can be forces open, if not destroyed. These three must hold the first room of the Eternal Tower for no less than fifteen minutes, and better for twenty. The doors of the eternal gates are indestructible to mortal forces, but there is no indestructible lock or bar. Heavy wooden bracing holds it shut, but that won't stop the hoard of the Marrow Lord for long.
Seeing the death of Voronex has not broken the will of the defenders, the marrow Lord orders the advance.
A minute gets eaten up by bugbears slamming a battering ram against the door. Another minute is eaten up by a wall of force Gres conjured up from an item. Then, the wave of frenzied humanoids rushes forward, like a living tide of goblin anger. The defenders must hold not a round less than thirteen minutes.
(This was one of the longest fight's we've ever run in this campaign, and it was three against thousands. It far outdid the previous record-holder, which was the battle of the Ill Wind. Other players got to run villain champions, so they'd have something to do. Nothing less powerful than a bugbear was actually directly represented. Instead, each of the three defenders suffered 8 goblin attacks every round, to represent the crushing hoard trying to take them down -- mostly with ranged attacks. Those attacks required 20s to hit, and while on average the defenders took only 1d6+1 every other round, it did add up.)
The Marrow Lord opts to soften the defenders with waves of bugbear attacks, holding back his Champions until the trio is already weakened. He sends in his Spitting Hammerers first, 120 bugbear barbarians charging in with red rage already flowing through their veins. Quince is foremost of the defenders, with Auriji right behind him. Her reach with <i>Majah Gada</i> means no Hammerer can get around Quince to flank him without her getting a shot at them first. Similarly, Quince gets a shot at anyone trying to get to Auriji or Gres. Gres Grekin stays in back, alternating between his <i>wand of lightning bolt</i> (easily making his UMD checks) and the weaker beads of his <i>necklace of fireballs</i>. For two solid minutes, the Spitting Hammerers, followed by the rank-and-file bugbear warrior charge into a whirling churn of death. The heroes are driven back by suicide-bull rush attempts, but lose only ten feet of their standing. Quince holds the line and takes the brunt of damage, while Auriji (with whirlwind attack) and Gres (with the fire and lightning) actually do most of the killing. In the end, the goblinoid troops actually fail a morale check and fall back. With <i>Breach</I> giving Quince 1 point of healing for every foe he turns away from a siege, he ends this section of the fight with very little damage one him. Aruiji burns a large healing potion. Eleven minutes remains to their minimum victory conditions.
The Marrow Lord sees his bugbear army simply lacks the power needed to overcome the three defenders. He calls up his arlkang siege-troopers. The huge goblinoids include a few of the Marrow Lord's champions, Uharkis the Sanguinite (a spirit shaman), Hegga Mother (a female barbarian), Chur and Juks (twin hooded assassins), and Fettik the Foul (blackguard). They march forward with 90 massive arlkang, many of which have dire glaives. These do not charge, but march quickstep up the stairs while Uharkis dispels the area attacks Ges tries to mow them down.
The offensive power of Hegga Mother and Fettik challenge Quince and Auriji for the first time. The arlkang champions can't be killed in a single round, and are able to deal damage to the two melee defensers. Uharkis focuses on Gres Grekis, trying to pin him down until Chur and Juks can flank him. Gres discovers his own offensive magics no match for the Sanguinite, and drives in to engage in melee himself. While rank-and-file arlkang are no match for any of the trio, they are enough of a threat they can't be ignored. For the first time they can get past Auriji and Quince, threatening the duskblade, showing that they have a low-level of spell resistence. Nearly overwhlemed, Gres burns his 2 daily Quick casts for 2 <i>doom scarab</i> spells, followed by a 6-die fireball bead. This clears many of the arlkangs and gives him a boost of temporary hit points.
Quince challenges Hegga Mother, pinning her down and drawing her agrression away from Auriji. He discovers Hegga has a low AC, so he uses Combat Expertise to raise his AC, and with it and the DR from his shield, he's soon beating her in the hp exchange, though this takes most of his focus. Aurji is forced to dance about to prevent Fettik from stepping inside <i>Majah Gada</i>'s reach. Fettik does sic his fiend follower on Aurji, placing it so she can't prevent them both from being inside her attack range. However, she triggers <i>Majah Gada</i>'s one minute of holy damage, and uses a full attack to smash the fiend to pieces -- then burns an action point for an extra action and sets to receive a charge. Enraged, Fettick charges her, and takes a tremensdous blow.
Gres Grekis gives up trying to reach Uharkis, instead allowing Chur and Juks to reach him. They both miss, as Gres expends his <i>crown of protection</i> for +4 AC for 1 round. Gres then swings his greatsword, power attacks, casts up a 3d6 <i>blade of blood</I> (taking 5 hp in the process), and uses Arcane Strike to add +3 to attacks and +3d4 to damage. As a result, he strikes Chur for 2d6 (base) +3d6(blade of blood) +3d4 (Arcane Strike) +1d6(flaming weapon) +1d6 (shock weapon) +15 (+3 Strength, +10 Power Attack, +2 weapon) = 8d6+3d4+15; and rolls 58 points of damage. Chur fails a DC 15 Fort save (through it takes four rolls for him to fail, Auriji uses her TACTICS! Talent to good effect to force rerolls), and dies of massive damage. Gres damages Juks somewhat with his remaining attacks from his full attack routine.
Though winning the dual with Hegga Mother, Quince sees Fettik is badly wounded. Deciding one dead for is better than two wounded ones, he charges Fettick and lands a mighty blow, killing the blackguard. Hegga charges Quince, taking an attack of opportunity from Aurji but putting a critical on Quince. Gres takes serious damage from Uharkis, but manages to kill Juks before the two can flank him. The Heralds regroup, and surround and kill Hegga Mother.
Many minutes have passed, and the ritual os more than half done. (As an aside Humtum holds a narrow bridge from the main city to the Fountain of Divinity by himself against Beloved Betrayers for part of this time as well, eventually dying in the effort to protect V).
Enraged, the Marrow Lord orders in his most powerful forces, the host Consort and her ravaged (tortured to the point of death then healed so often they gain powers much like undead despite being fully alive) Scything Princesses. When the Scything Princesses appear on the steps, they force a fear save from all the defenders, Auriji fails, and turns to flee on her next move. Gres Grekis succeeds, but feigns failure. If Auriji flees, he has no belief the tower can be held. Quince, with the highest Will save of the campaign, succeeds. Further, he moves right after the princesses. Bellowing a <i>Call to Battle</i>, Quince gives Aurtiji a second save with a bonus, and this one she makes. Quince clears the area around the defenders, and steps forward, he fears if the Princesses are allowed to stay on the steps, they will unleash their fearful cries every round, until he runs out of knights challenges to restore Gres and Auriji. However, despite his best effort, he cannot fight through the arlkang to reach them.
Auriji sees the problem, and fixes it the way only a barbarian can. She burns an action point for an extra partial action, and leaps past Quince, over the arlkang's heads, down the steps, and into the mist of the Scything Princesses. Then she takes her full round action to maximize her power attack whirlwind attack, striking all four Princesses for massive amounts of damage. Then, they go, and ignore their scream to instead rip Auriji to shreads. She is left barely alive.
Gres sees there is little chance of continuing to hold, and seriously considered fleeing. He even takes a move action away from Quince, but can't bring himself to open the back doors of the tower, braking the mystic protection of the Eternal Gates. Instead, he burns an action point for a partial action to cast <i>regrouop</i>, bring Auriji back to his side. Then he lops his last bead from his <i>necklace of fireballs</i> at the Princesses, rolling well above average on a 10d6 attack. The Princesses are all killed, Auriji near death, and Quince is cut off from the remaining defenders.
Glidda appears in all her necrocarnum glory, and offers Quince a chance to switch sides. Every man in his family has failed at heroism she points out, and there's no need for him to break with family tradition. Tortured at the sight of an old lover turned to evil, Quince agrees. Suspicious, Glidda makes hium swear to serve her loyally and true, on his blade, honor and blood of his family, He does so, as Auriji screams at him for being a traitor, and Quince marches towards Glidda. Also suspicious, the Marrow Lord uses divination to see if Quince has truly given up honor and duty, and is surprised to discover he has.
Of course, when Quince reaches Glidda he runs her through, breaking Breach and detonating the old artifact within her. As they both die, the truth becomes clear to all. Quince had given up honor, as he was forswearing everything he just took an oath on. Like every man in his family, he broke a vow, failed his family's high standards, and betrayed the woman he loved. He just did it to save the world.
From there I am afraid it's pretty broing. The marrow Lord charges forward himself, and after a few minutes of combat kills Auriji and Gres Grekis. But they delay him along enough for voronex to become a god, which takes the form not of a dwarf, but of a great flame dragon. Mhyssi rides V back to the gates, where they drive off the marrow Lord, who now knows he will never be a god. V raises Gres Grekis and Auriji, but cannot restore the others to life. The Heralds officially disband, and Mhyssi leaves V forever, as she serves another god.
Auriji and Mhyssi form the Whiteblades, a mercenary company for hire in memory of Quince.
Greg Grekis becomes a loyal follower of Voronex, and invents gunpowder. As innovation explodes outward from Beidien, a new Renaissance begins to spread across Kor Kammor.
End of campaign. The next Kor Kammor hasn't started yet, but is to take place 100 years later. It is called "Six Schools of Kor Kammor" and explore what happens when arcane, divine and scientific begin competing for genius minds.
For the foreseeable future, this is goodbye. I love you all, and hope you keep gaming with your friends and loved ones!
Oh my lovelies, how it wounds me to have left your desires unfulfilled for so long. But fear no the Black Days aren't done yet! Though this took MUCH longer than the quick week-of-work I promised, it is finally ready!
Black Days of Kor Kammor
Far down, in the depths of Guttek Khir, far below the veins of blue iron and mithral, the Heralds of Dawn move toward confrontation with the King of Broken Swords. They have been long separated from their allies, lost one of their own, and suffered terribly at the hands of gnoll undead, rust monster, and mystic petrifying waters. Voronex's left hand is rock, Mhyssi has lost all her swords, and the Twins are beginning to suffer nerve attacks as they contemplate the cost of failure.
Through the bowels of the mine that were lost to rust plague the heralds have trod, into the lands of the tomiknackers, poor twisted creatures of living clay enslaved to the KoBS (King of Broken Swords). So far have they fallen that they must pass through the tomiknacker forges and the throne room of the KoBS, just to reach the chambers in the roots of the mountains. Even there, they still wait to face Agdrenel, the Vampire Queen of Pirates and their sworn foe, and all the foul rotting things she has commanded rise from their graves and serve her.
But at least, point out the Twins, it'll all make for a great puppet show someday.
Rested, and now fully healed (though that already leaves Mhyssi low on clerical spells), the Heralds make it up through the tomiknacker forges, and Voronex inspects them. They are crude, and the nearly-finished weapons they have laying about have no edge, and little temper. Though not up to the skill of dwarven or goblin smiths, tomiknackers are better than this, and Voronex wonders aloud what a king needs with thousands of useless weapons. Auriji shrugs, and says he just likes breaking them, hence the name King of Broken Swords. Mhyssi agrees that's *possible*, but usually people get such names for more impressive reasons. The Twins agree.
From the forges, without disturbance, the group work their way to a large stone doorway, where the tomiknacker map say the chamber of the King of Broken Swords lies. Above the doorway are carved runes in the abyssal tongue, which the Twins read for all to hear. "Let No Thing Grow But Decay"
Beyond is a vast cavern, in what Voronex identifies as an old magma chamber. The floor is a rolling, blistered mass of volcanic rock, and huge piles of glittering metal lay about. A wet smell, of mold and mildew and rust, fills their nostrils and coats the back of their throats.
Though the piles at first seems to be a vast treasure hoard, as a dragon might have, it is soon obvious that they are mostly made of broken and rusting weapons. The topmost layers, with the least corrosion, are crude tommiknacker weapons never meant to be used in war. But beneath them in the deep rust are the occasional sign of dwarven forging. Magnificent axe-handles and fine crossbow gears still linger on in the pile of decay, their masterful construction reduced to a few bits of oxidized metal and splintered wood.
Hundreds more broken blades hang by chains from the stalactites and vaults of the cavern's ceiling, the links and blades creating soft clanking and rattling. From them water drips endlessly, causing the sound of constant light rainfall. It makes a mist in the air, and throws dampness everywhere. The water is red with rust before it even falls, and forms rivulets and small pools before sinking into the porous volcanic rock.
The piles of weapons are piled around a massive stone slab, on which more rusting weapons are heaped about. A single shaft of smokey red light shoots down from the ceiling to illuminate a perfect, unblemished, golden greatsword. It is buried in the rock slab at angle, tilted to the same degree as the light coming through the ceiling, as though the sword had cut through the mountain from peak to root and left a light-shaft behind it. Beside the sword, though not within arm's reach of it, is an immense chair of mold- and moss-covered stone. Severed limbs and rotting bones from generations of tomiknackers are scattered about the slab, making a radius away from the King's throne.
For here sits the King of Broken Swords, and upon seeing him no doubt exists in the minds of the Heralds who he is. The size of a large human, he is lean but corded with muscle. Ancient armor clads his frame, and from it hang a voluminous cloak and long, thick streamers of cloth. His head is broad and face flat, with no nose and huge yellow orb-eyes. His skin is the grey of wet stone, his mouth a broad gash across the whole of his face, pinned by his own fangs into a constant scowl. A long staff, with massive bladed staff-head, sits across his knees. Huge black bat-wings furl and unfurl, their tattered membranes gilt in red-gold runes and rings piercing the lower edges.
Mhyssi makes a Knowledge (religion) roll, and aces it. With fear in her tremoring voice, she whispers so the nearest Heralds can hear her.
The King of Broken Swords stands, and where his foot touches the stone, new moss spreads, and a nearby sword collapses into red dust. His voice echoes out, like the groan of a dying man betrayed by friends.
"The moon turns swiftly, and for once in a hundred years my domain does not fail me. The spindle canon yearns to bring order to my chaos, and I must break it. Fall to your knees and grant me my tribute."
Voronex steps forth, voice calm and cold.
"We are no tomiknackers, swathed in fear and subservience to throw our forge-craft at your feet, Burster of Blades. We face you, the Heralds of Dawn, firm and proud. We wish but to pass to the upper halls, and mean you no insult or injury. Grant us your leave, and we shall take ourselves rom this place without further comment or disturbance."
The King tilts his head, and casually twirls his blade-staff. His eyes brighten, as if he had not truly seen the Heralds before this. His head tilts back, and lifts up slightly from his shoulders with the sound of bones cracking, his neck actually lengthening. His cloak flairs and mighty wings unfurl.
"For a mark of an eon have I sat, King of Broken Swords and warden to the Blade of the West Wind. In all that time, none have entered my chamber, but to bow or die. For trespass, you shall all suffer. The dwarf's life is forfeit, and the elves must remain here to serve me. You, daughter of the clans and you dvatorin, may go– though I shall brand you so that you will remember this moment for all your lives."
Auriji rankles, but Mhyssi steps up before any other actions are taken.
"Mighty King, I am Mhyssiveren Heart-of-War, Battle Daughter of Hyarl Lord of War. These lives are mine. Ask any other service of me in recompense for this intrusion and you shall have it, but know I shall not give over my divine lord's conscripts."
While Voronex shoots Mhyssi a look (he's not a fan of being laid claim by a god of giants, no matter the priestess who does it), the Twins begin to edge to either side of the group, ready to dive behind piles of rusting weapons when the fighting starts.
A long pause, and Mhyssi throws an Intimidate check. She rolls a natural 20. The KoBS opens and closes his wings once, then sits back in his throne.
"I was mistaken, Heart-of-War."
Mhyssi sighs in relief. The King continues.
"None may go. You all die."
With a finger, the King of Broken Blades flicks a mote of darkness at the Heralds, which grows in a second into a maelstrom of magic energy. From it step two hulking brutes, big as ogres and thick as dwarves, with flat, lizard heads, deep blue skin, and long bone claws arcing from their meaty fists.
Auriji gets initiative, rages, and charges a blue slaad with her crystal spear. She Power Attacks for 5, doubles it with an action point, giving her +20 damage with her 2-handed weapon, and scores a solid hit, dealing 30 or so points of damage, almost half the blue slaad's total.
Daronelle dashes forward next, and slashes at the same one, doing less but taking it past half hit points.
Voronex goes airborne, and heads for the King of Broken Swords, while the Twins separate and start stealthing their way towards the King's throne.
The blue slaads attack, one focusing on Auriji and the other drops a <I>chaos hammer</I> on Auriji and Mhyssi. As Mhyssi is neutral good, she is damaged and slowed, but chaotic good Auriji is unaffected.
Then, the King goes.
He focuses on Voronex, and casts implosion. While Voronex's mighty Fortitude save prevents him from dying, the Heralds suddenly realize just how out-matched they may be.
The Twins recognize the implosion spell, and know it's close range. They scream for everyone to scatter, and move quickly *away* from the death slaad King of Broken Swords.
Mhyssi realizes Auriji has no intention of fleeing, and *might* survive the implosion, but if left alone she'll surely be torn apart by two blue slaads. However, since implosion is a concentration-duration spell, Mhyssi decides there is another way to deal with it. She almost targets the KoBS with a sound lance, to disrupt its concentration, but her high Religion check to ID it reminds her death slaads are immune to sonic damage. Unsure what else might be effective, she unleashes magic missile, hammering out about 20 points of damage.
The Concentration check to keep the implosion is DC 30, and the King's check a +15. He fails the roll, and loses the implosion. That, of course, draws his attention to Mhyssi.
Auriji figures *she* has to deal with the blue slaads, to let everyone else deal with the King. She also sees the blue slaad are healing, and decided to focus everything on the damaged one. She is already in melee, so takes a full attack routine, discovering to her pleasure the crystal head of Maja Gada is giving it magic bonuses to hit and damage. She pegs one of the slaads twice, nearly dropping it.
Daronelle has also decided the King of Broken Swords is the major threat, and runs up to the dias to make an attack at him. Though her Spring Attack prevents her from taking an attack of opportunity from her run-by slice, she doesn't manage to damage the death slaad.
Voronex unleashes a fiery breath at the King, and does some damage. The two blue slaads flank Auriji, one of them hitting her three times on four attacks and taking more than half her hit points, the other maneuvering close to Mhyssi.
The King of Broken Swords turns briefly away from Mhyssi to Daronelle, and casts animate object on seven Medium broken swords, which immediately leap up and begin flipping, jumping and cartwheeling towards her. None hit the first round, but as there are seven of them Daronelle knows it's only a matter of time until one does.
The Twins keep moving up stealthily, through the piles of broken blades. Each also becomes invisible.
Mhyssi grabs a less-rusted than most greatsword, and throws it with whirling blade in a line that catches both blue slaad and the King. She damages the blues, but the weapon does nothing to the KoBS (and shatters off his armor).
Auriji does another Power Attack, doubling its value with an action point, and swings and kills a blue. She cleaves into the second one, damaging it badly as well. Then she rolls a natural 20 on her second attack and hits (but does not crit) even on her second attack at -5, damaging the second blue.
Voronex is not near the King (due to flight maneuverability restrictions) and sees Auriji is in trouble. He buzzes the remaining blue slaad and hits it with a weakening breath, bringing its Strength way down. Right after the slaad takes four swings on Auriji but only hits once, even so, she is near unconsciousness.
Daronelle tries running through the cloud of animated blades, but one crits her on an attack of opportunity, and she doesn't risk running past the rest. To get back to the KoBS, she'll have to outrun the blades. One the King's move, they continue to leap and spin toward her, though none hit her.
Meanwhile, the King has had enough of Mhyssi, and hits her with Power word, Blind, taking away her sight (and spell targeting) for 1d4+1 rounds. Mhyssi can't currently cure her blindness. Desperate, she casts true strike.
Auriji has a bad round, and does not put down the remaining blue slaad. Daronelle manages to get around to the King of Broken swords and hits him, but does not penetrate his DR. She does see he is healing as well, and cries out a warning. Voronex swing back around to breathe on the King again, discovering frost isn't any more effective than fire.
The remaining blue slaad takes down Auriji, though she isn't dead. Unhampered by fear of Mhyssi interfering again, the King of Broken Swords lets loose a <I>Word of Chaos</I>, hitting both Daronelle and Voronex. They are both confused, stunned, and deafened. Voronex falls out of the sky onto a pile of broken, rusting weapons, and is cut up.
The twins were also in the word, but as chaotic creatures were unaffected. Ryssa jumps up and hits the King with a touch attack, releasing a touch of idiocy and, most importantly, dropping his Charisma by 5. (And becoming visible)
Mhyssi burns a 3rd level sorcerer slot to fire a scorching ray at the last blue slaad, and with her true strike (which ignores the fact that being blind, everything has concealment) nails it with one ray, and kills it.
Auriji bleeds. Daronelle lies motionless. Voronex does both.
The King of Broken Sword roars in rage, and turns on Ryssa. Now limited to 3rd level and lower spells, it attacks her with its long bladed staff. It hits her twice in three attacks, and takes more than half her hit points. Lyssa leaps to her twins aid, and uses a whip to trip the King. (Becoming visible)
Mhyssi still can't see, but she remembers where Auriji was, and stumbles over a blue slaad corpse to find her. Daronelle begins to babble incoherently, while Voronex takes wing to flee from the King of Broken Sword at top speed.
The King rolls away from the Twins, and hisses. He claps his hands together loudly, and the shockwave forms a rift in reality, from it a new form, a seven-foot red beast with huge, clawed hands steps forth. A red slaad has joined the fray. Seven blades cut at Daronelle, who isn't moving anymore, and a few begin to cut her.
Ryssa falls back towards the far edge of the dias, and Lyssa produces a stale blueberry tart, and throws it in the red slaad's face. As a Tasha's Hideous Laughter spell. Despite it's +4 bonus for type, the red slaad's face cracks into an uncomfortable shape, and it begins to laugh mercilessly.
Mhyssi reaches Auriji, and hits her with the last cure spell she has left. This gets Auriji up, still enraged, and she leaps up and charges toward the red slaad (over Mhyssi's protestations that Auriji should drink a healing potion). Daronelle turns to one of the blades attacking her and hacks at it, but does very little past its hardness.
Voronex gets a moment of clarity, and wings back toward the King of Broken Swords. He yells for Lyssa and Ryssa to get Daronelle back, and give Mhyssi guidance. He takes a full flight move back, and uses an action point to breathe on the red slaad, injuring it. The red slaad laughs.
The King of Broken Swords advances on Ryssa, but has to go around Lyssa to get to her. Because Lyssa has Whipmistress (house rule feat, Whipmaster, allows you to take attacks of opportunity with your whip within 10 feet) she trips him again. But he has enough action to stand and, to her horror, spends an action point of his own to adjust and backhand her, dealing damage and stunning her for a round.
Ryssa scrambles further back, and yells at Mhyssi to shoot for her voice. (We then realize Ryssa has placed herself *exactly* on the far side of the KoBS from Mhyssi, right down a row of squares). She then throws up an invisibility sphere catching herself and Lyssa.
As a cloistered cleric, Mhyssi has access to the Knowledge domain. She moves toward the dias and uses her 3rd level domain spell she prepared, clairaudiance/clairvoyance at an "obvious location," just short of Ryssa's voice. I go ahead and have her roll Listen check and then a 50% miss chance to see if the spell lands in the square she wants it, and it does. We then have a brief debate about whether a blind cleric can see with that spell. Since it seems independent of the caster's own sense (it works *almost* as if they were there), we allow it.
Now, Mhyssi can see the King of Broken Swords again. Then Mhyssi uses an action point to cast her 2nd level prepared War domain spell, spiritual weapon. The spell forms a force replica of the sword stuck in the dias (much to Mhyssi's surprise), and begins to swing on the King.
Auriji charges the red slaad, Power Attacks, doubles it with an action point, and rolls a critical hit with a spear. She deals more than 70 hp of damage to the already injured red slaad, and kills it.
Daronelle spins and moves to close on the King, and voronex drops to the ground and starts to gibber uncontrollably.
The King of Broken Swords lobs a fireball at the invisible Twins. Though they save, the damage is enough to knock out Ryssa. Lyssa spends the round stunned.
Mhyssi runs up and charges up a pile of broken blades onto the dias. Weaponless, she decides to grab the golden greatsword imbedded in the rock. It fairly flies into her hands, and she turns to face the death slaad, who's eyes go wide with mixed shock and anger.
Auriji charges the King of Broken Swords, Power Attacks, and stabs at him, but can't penetrate his armor with her lowered attack bonus. Daronelle has a moment of clarity, and moves at best speed away from the fight, using an action point and her high rate of speed to outrun the animated swords following her (in hopes next round she can draw and drink a healing potion). Voronex can see the Twins and knows they are in trouble, and is driven to attack the death slaad, so he does a short hop and catches the King in a weakening breath, hoping to enrage the death slaad and draw it's attention away from the invisible jesters.
It works. The King bellows and uses and action point to move to Voronex, then takes a full attack action. Auriji manages to hit him on an Attack of Oppoortunity, but the King drops Voronex. Lyssa recovers, and drags her unconscious and invisible twin to the far corner of the dias.
Mhyssi moves up on the King, her spiritual weapon averaging just enough damage a round to match his fast healing. She uses an action point to cast true strike again, and swings down with the golden greatsword. Which, it turns out, is axiomatic and bane vs evil outsiders. Her hit does more damage than the King has taken yet, and he bellows in mixed pain and fear.
Auriji dashes around to flank the King, and stabs at him missing despite not Power Attacking. Daronelle is forced to flee the King, but this at least keeps her away from the animated swords. Voronex bleeds, unconscious. The King turns on Mhyssi, making a bladestaff/bladestaff/bite full attack, and taking more than half her hit points.
Knowing his Wisdom is low, Lyssa hurls a confusion at the King, and catches just him in it, but he saves. Mhyssi remembers that, as a celestial bloodline, she has smite evil once a day, and uses it to hammer on the King of Broken Swords with the Blade of the West Wind. She nails him, and deals 30 or so points of damage, but that (along with all the other damage he's taken) only drops him to about half hit points. However, suddenly Mhyssi can see again.
Auriji decides that, with hi DR (which she has to get past, unlike Mhyssi who is bypassing it), it's better to Power Attack and miss often that hit more for less damage. She keeps stabbing with Maja Gada, but again can;t connect with his AC.
Daronelle gets lucky, and gets to act normally, She drinks her last healing potion, which she had been keeping for her cousin in an emergency back before he was killed. Voronex stabilizes.
Seeing it may all end, Auriji throws Maja Gada to the side, burns an action point to gain Improved Grapple for one round, and grapples the King of Blades (on his last round on being weakened from V's breath). She yells "Run!" to Mhyssi, hoping the other Heralds of Dawn can escape.
Daronelle comes charging by, plucks up Voronex, and runs past with him. The King makes a terrible roll to escape Auriji, but it's obvious she won't hold him another round. Lyssa throws her whip at the King and uses an action point to cast animate rope causing it to snake around him. Mhyssi refuses to flee, and burns an action point to regain her Smite, and stabs at the King again.
Auriji again spends a point for Improved grapple. However, the king has his full +20 grapple bonus back, and shrugs her off. But he fails the DC 21 Str check to burst the whip around him. Lyssa grabs Ryssa's whip and throws it at him, again casting animate rope on it. Mhyssi again Smites. Auriji draws Phrit Fi and Power Attacks, but can't get past the King's DR even when she hits.
The King successfully makes a Concentration check to cast fly, and shoots straight up, taking an Attack of Opportunity from Mhyssi. Lyssa realizes he can fireball them at will form the air, and yells it *is* time to run, picks up Ryssa and gets moving.
Mhyssi screams in defiance, and casts whirling blade to throw the Blade of the West Wind at the King of Broken Swords. And since that counts as a melee attack, she burns *another* hero point, and reuses her Smite. Having been hammered for several rounds when he couldn't reply in kind, the King is much weakened. The blade strikes true, and he falls.
It's another few rounds before Daronelle can stop running from the animated swords.
Black Days of Kor Kammor
A stunned silence creeps over the group, broken only by Mhyssi's sobs, and even they begin to fade. Daronelle leaps in to try to dig Juiren free, and Voronex gamely goes to help. But the task is clearly impossible. Daronelle and Voronex dig through the rubble for several minutes, but there is too much rock to even find Juiren's body. The Twins try to comfort Mhyssi, the three collapsed in a silent hug. Auriji, stoic, stands watch.
After a few minutes, Mhyssi stands and pulls herself together. The Heralds are now lost, keep in the ancient mines, and wasting time searching for Juiren isn't going to help. Mhyssi asks Voronex if he can tell how deep they are, and he confirms they're hundreds of feet below the surface, lower than the base of the mountain. This is the Deep Rock, and aberrations rule such places. In all honesty, a vampire foe is not at the top of their concerns anymore.
Mhyssi sets her posture, pulls her sword, gets the Heralds ready to move. She doesn't issue orders, instead asking questions and letting the answers guide the party. No one, even Daronelle, believes they can find Juiren's body, so they agree it's time to move on. Ryssa takes point, quietly scouting, while Daronelle brings up the rear. A grim determination settles over the group.
From the site of their arrive in the collapsed (and now closed) shaft, there are dozens of tunnels. Voronex guesses which paths lead up, whispering his information to Lyssa, thus informing Ryssa as well. The caverns are rough, wet rock that look like piles of sand. Crystals of a hundred hues sparkle in the torch light and fungus in cracks and across the ceiling flutter as if struck by wind when the group's illumination strikes them.
Covered in blood (though healed, they aren't washed) and sweat, the Heralds are easy to find through Scent, and keep taking tunnels with air currents flowing out. As a result, their scent as wounded prey is sent throughout the lower Deep Rock complex. The smell reaches a large colony of monstrous centipedes, who stalk down and attack the heroes. The 8 Large vermin burst out from two cross-corridors, and sting and bite at the heralds. However, their poison never effects anyone, and the Heralds win handily. With no serious injuries.
Deciding more advanced scouting is called for, Ryssa begins stalking through the darkness, well ahead of the Heralds. Eventually she a chittering noise in the caverns, before her. Eyes straining with darkvision, she creeps ahead slowly. Ryssa wants to get within 60ft so she can identify the possible threat. In the main group Lyssa warns the other Heralds, who ready to sprint into battle.
Ryssa finds herself at the lip of a small cliff. Stretching out before her is a vast, curved canyon of rounded rock columns, thin waterfalls, and large interconnected rock. Within the network of pools, evil-looking needle-toothed fish swim, each with a dangling natural green light probe. The fish bathe the whole cavern in the dim, greenish light, dancing on the walls as moving flickers through the rippling water. Crawling across the floor are dozens of beetle-like creatures, with carapaced bodies, multi-jointed legs, and long feathery feelers. None are within 60ft of Ryssa and the green light is dim and full of shadows, so Ryssa can't see the crawlers clearly. In a pool near here, Ryssa can clearly see what appears to be an old, skeletal hand, long since picked clean of flesh and now petrifying.
They back out and the Heralds confer. Mhyssi recommends caution, given the large numbers and unknown power of the crawlers. Voronex agrees, but isn't sure they have an option. The cavern has many in-bound water-ways and its openness suggests it's a major junction for the natural caves. If there *is* a passable way up, this is the most likely place to find it. Auriji feels caution is a mistake. Caution sent them into the hidden passageways that led to the fight with the delver, and that got them lost and Juiren killed. Caution, the barbarian women opines, is the way to a slow death.
"Lets us fight boldly, and either win through with glory, or die with bloodlust in our hearts and smiles on our faces."
Daronelle is hurting at the loss of her cousin, and wants to kill *something*. The Twins, oddly, are feeling the need to *do* something as well. The group respects Mhyssi and her advice, and all agree it may be a mistake, but they don't want caution. They want to leap into the cavern, kill everything that attacks them, and fight there way out of the deep rock. Mhyssi smiles at them, and agrees. If they are going to die, they'll do it on their own terms. Mhyssi intones a war-chant to the glory of Hyarl (prayer), and the Heralds charge, screaming, into the cavern/.
(Aside: At this point the Twins' players says "Wow, how dramatic of it. Aren't we going to feel like idiots if they're just giant beetles and flee from us?" We all laughed. That's *not* what happened.)
The creatures turn at the sound of the Heralds, and immediately begin to swarm toward them, chittering and clacking, waving their feathery feelers in great excitement. Voronex, who was working on a description of the creatures before, suddenly recognizes them.
The party has a conniption fit, as weapons are swapped and plans suddenly change. Voronex breathes a mighty gout of fire, clearing a whole cone of the creatures, but others keep coming. The Twins use grease spells and their (leather) whips to slow the creature's charge, but can't stop it. Auriji flips Majah Gada, and begins using the butt-end as a club. Mhyssi yells for Daronelle puts her weapons away entirely, and run ahead to find a way out - preferrably one they can block to prevent the rust monsters from following them.
There is, just, enough room for voronex to make reasonable flying passes, so he begins to do so. This keeps up above the rust monsters, and lets him breath on sections of them, but the cavern is still full of the creatures. The trick is not just to kill them, but do so before they ruin Mhyssi, Daronelle or Auriji's armor. Even so, the group begins to feel they'll make it out without too serious a loss of equipment.
Then, one of the fish leaps out of a pool, and bites down on Lyssa. She screams, and slips on the fungus-covered floor. The fish appears to be made of living crystal, and is much harder and stronger than it looks. Suddenly, the fish are leaping out all over. Dozens of them spring from the water, trying to slide their needle-sharp teeth into soft spots. Mhyssi realizes once the rust monsters have eaten any metal, the fish must take the flesh and blood of now unarmored targets. Only bones remain, in the bottom of the pools.
Daronelle is tumbling, dashing and leaping through the vast chamber, carrying a torch and looking for a likely way out. She finds an angled shaft with water pouring out of it, and slides up to see if it can be climbed. As she does so, her torch touches the water...
And turns to stone.
Daronelle screams to keep away from the water. Voronex hears just as he's about to dive through a waterfall (even as a good flyer, he has a limited number of turn options and wanted to line up a particular cone for breath weapon). He hears her, but still flies through a partially-filled waterfall square. He fails his Reflex save to stay dry by 1, and then fails his Fortitude save to not petrify by 1. The rolls were so close (and he spent an action point on the terrible Fort save), rather than turn entirely to stone, his left hand is caught in the water and petrifies (-2 Dex).
Now the fight takes a new tone. The party has been leaping over pools and running beside the waterfalls, staying dry but not being worried about a little dampness. Now, suddenly, their carefree attitude ends. A single slip could mean death by petrification. The twins quickly decide to trip a rust monster into a nearby pool, only to discover the aberrations are immune to the water's effect, and the fish ignore their armored hides.
The rust monsters begin to crowd the heroes, and Voronex no longer dares fly, as he might pass through a waterfall on a poor turn. He takes the rear of the party, hammering with his morningstar (which quickly loses its spikes and becomes a club) and his already-stoned fist. The twins grease the sides of the path the Heralds are taking (eventually running out of 1st level spells, and then casting the spell with 2nd and 3rd level slots). Mhyssi focuses on using magic missle to finish off wounded rust monsters, and directing the group to stick together.
Lyssa spots an area with very little water, and screams for Daronelle to check it out. It's a rise in the cavern floor, thus the water doesn't flow up into it and the ridges can provide some cover against attacking rust monsters and crystalfish. Daronelle, now with sun-rod in hand, dashes over and confirms not only does it seem safe, there's a narrow rock chimney they might be able to climb up.
The Heralds rush for the clear area. Mhyssi sends Voronex ahead, as if he falls his wings can save him. This leaves Auriji and the Twins to hold the rear in melee, and the Twins can't do real damage with their whips. Auriji tries to hold the position with the butt of her spear, but just can't do enough damage. Suddenly, she tells Mhyssi to hold the back with spells for just a moment. Mhyssi fires off two scorching rays (action point) to keep the rust monsters back, while Auriji runs to a pool and thrusts the metal head of her spear into the waters. Since a Fort save is called for on equipment, I have her rolls one, and she gets a natural 20.
On the other hand, Auriji *wants* her metal spear head to turn to stone, and I don't want to penalize her for being clever and rolling well. So, the metal head first turns to grey granite, then at the last second as she pulls it out becomes sparkling crystal. Auriji now rages, charges back into battle with a crystal spear head, and begins to kill rust monsters left-and-right.
Voronex, and then Daronelle, climb up the chimney of rock. It isn't an easy climb, but they manage to get up out of the lower cavern, into an upper chamber. Voronex sees that the rock here was worked once, roughly, collapsing a more gentle ramp into a vertical drop. He looks out over the glowing green cavern of rust monsters and crystalfish. From this vantage, he can see rubble across the far wall, where the cavern has collapsed and expanded over and over. He realizes the rust monsters are eating the rich natural ore out of the walls with their delicate feelers, and as the ore is eaten the rock walls collapse, revealing more ore. Meanwhile, the underground rivers pour down from points all over the mountains, but by the time they get here can petrify, suggesting some great magic exists within the rock, and only the crystalfish have adapted to it.
Remembering the rune that marked the passage to the delver/gargoyle chambers, voronex whispers to himself "Rust Plague." He can't imagine a worse fate for a dwarven mine. But the rust monsters are small, despite being numerous. Why didn't the dwarves just drive them out in leather armor and sharpened wooden spears?
As Daronelle yells the upper chamber has a way out, V decides it is a question for later. For now, the other Heralds still need to escape. He throws down a rope, and tells them all to start climbing. Daronelle tosses her sunrod partway down the tunnel out and draws her blades, guarding V from any new threat at this level.
The Twins begin to climb the rope, Lyssa having trouble (bad rolls, but we chalked it up to her bitten arm.) Mhyssi decides Auriji is going to have to carry Lyssa, and takes over guarding the rear. She casts spiritual weapon so she can fight rust monsters without losing her metal magic items or short sword (as she's now in black leather armor, and lost her greatsword to the delver already), but also has the sword drawn for emergencies. Auriji puts away her longspear and fires up the rope, catching Lyssa when she loses her grip and falls.
Mhyssi is holding the bottom of the rope alone. Ryssa gets to the tops, and uses animate rope to get the rope to wrap around Mhyssi's waist. V can't haul her up until Auriji and Lyssa are off the rope, however. The crystalfish begin to hop out of the pools, forming a slow, vast swarm headed Mhyssi's way. She tries to drive it off with a sound lance (her last third-level spell slot for the day), and kills one swarm mass, but its only a third of the total crystalfish. The swarms overrun the rust monsters without damaging them, and Mhyssi suffers dozens of bites as Auriji finally gets to the top, and she and V haul Mhyssi to safety, bleeding but not quite unconscious. Her short sword is gone, but no other metal lost.
The group take a breather, and Mhyssi burns what few lower-level spells she has left to heal them. As this drains her cleric powers, and the heralds are still injured, this brings home the loss of Juiren more firmly. The Twins and Mhyssi has nothing but a few arcane cantrips. Everyone is wounded. Auriji doesn't even have a rage left. But, given the rust monsters *might* be able to climb, given time (they are scrabbling and clawing at the bottom of the rock chimney) the heralds decide to press on, trusting to V's endless breath weapon, and their own weapons.
Except Mhyssi, who doesn't have a weapon beyond a dagger anymore. Daronelle offers her a short sword, but the scout only has two left and is built on two-weapon fighting, so Mhyssi declines. The Twins have only daggers and whips, and V is down to a club. Then, Auriji produces a battle-axe she has been carrying (without ever using) since the group left Liberty. Thus armed, Mhyssi takes point behind Daronelle, as the Twins are a bit wrecked emotionally.
The group continues through the wet-sand looking stone, ignoring crystals and being suspicious about fungus. They find a large chamber that has many old, brittle rust monster carapaces in it. Many show signs of wooden weapons being used to do them in, making V wonder aloud why the dwarves couldn't deal with the "rust plague." They created a lower area to hold the rust monsters, and obviously could kill them. Why abandon the mine? No one answers.
Not much further along, Daronelle finds signs of tracks. They appear dwarven, but are coated in thin lairs of clay, and show signs of spiked boots. Voronex identifies the spikes as likely belonging to tomiknackers, a kind of evil dwarf-like fairy. They often make mischief in mines, but are normally rooted out. If these showed up after the place was abandoned however, they might have taken up residence. He can't explain the clay, however.
Nor does the mystery last long,. The Heralds come to another larger cavern, this one showing signs of dwellings having been set up with old mining equipment. As they try to pass quickly through, the tomiknackers stagger out of the doorways and deep shadows, moaning for help even as they attack. Each appears to be only half flesh, with half their body turned to clay. (Coal goblins with the half-golem, clay template). The heralds swing into battle, but discover the creatures cannot be hurt by slashing or piercing weapons. Voronex's fire works normally, and he tosses his club to Auriji, who does good damage with it two-handed. As the creatures start fighting with sudden bursts of speed, Mhyssi direct Daronelle and the twins into particular positions, the tomiknackers follow, and then suddenly Mhyssi has tricked them into all lining up in a big cone. Voronex sees the opportunity, and dashes over to attack. His fire scorches all remaining foes, and they drop. The fight is over.
As the chamber is defensible, and there is bedding and food, the heralds opt to stop here for the night. V finds a tomiknacker journal he can read, and discovers they moved in centuries ago. After a generation or two, they discovered the petrifying waters from below were changing them with each generation. They drank only the "sweet water" (non-magic), but proximity to whatever has created the petrifying rivers slowly turned them into living clay. They wished to leave, but the "King of Broken Swords" wouldn't let them. He demanded they forge for him, in endless tribute.
There is also a crude map, showing the forges, and the way out. Sadly, the only way up to the Mines is through the Great Hall of the King of Broken Swords. With no clue what that creature is, the Heralds set guards, and try to sleep. The twins seek comfort with Mhyssi, but she gently rejects them. Mhyssi, however, asks Voronex is she can share his bunk, and he agrees. They take no physical actions, just sharing the comfort of mutual warmth.
End Game 19.
Black Days of Kor Kammor
I'm working on Game 19, so this is just an appetizer.
I honestly don't have many details on this "session," because it didn't happen at my normal gaming venue. I was hanging out with the players of Quince, Tiera and Glidda, when it was revealed the other Heralds were going to be gone for longer than I had thought. Quince's player decided to take this opportunity to ask around about Glidda's temple, and the demon attack on it. This lead to research by Quince and Tierra in Hallowfaust, which left them convinced that the demons were working for a higher force, likely a mortal spellcaster of considerable power or a demon prince. That news was sent to glidda, along with an update that everyone else was missing.
Glidda, then, got a wizard to do her a "favor," teleporting her to Hallowfaust. There she joined in the research, and attracted Aaston's attention. She maintained a friendly flirt, but nothing more, which began to drive him into obsession (he doesn't deal well with rejection). This caused him to pressure Tiera for information on Glidda, though the two don't know each other that well. Tiera became suspicious, and sent her spirit totem to spy on Aaston. Though the totem's descriptions of Aaston's activities were sparse, they were odd enough for Tiera to bring them to Danar.
Danar then goes to Quince, to ask his opinion of Tiera's abilities as a spy, as she does not want to accuse a major guildsman on an outsider's say so without strong evidence. Quince, being too dang straightforward, suggests they just go ask him about the research, and see how he reacts to Danar's polite inquiry. Since Danar has tons more Sense Motive than Aaston has Bluff, and he has no warning she's on to him (the normal politics involving lots of beating aroudn the bush), he is caught by surprise. Even so, he starts to get around it when Quince asks, point blank, if Aaston has broken any unforgiveable laws of Hallowfaust. Aaston plays offended, but danar sees through him and orders his arrest. Aaston leaps at her, and Quince crosses blades with the now-outlaw necromancer.
Tiera and Glidda burst in, having followed Quince. Then Danar's guard bursts in. Then Aaston releases all his undead experiments to cover his escape, and flees the city. His most cunning creation is a series of ghouls who he has molded to look just like him, garbed in identical clothes. As a dozen of these rush about, Aaston manages to escape the city.
Glidda and Quince convince Danar to let them go after the other heralds, with a group of Stygian Guards. Tiera decides to stay in hallowfaust, unconvinced Aaston is the only problem in the ranks of the guildsmen.
Not sure where they are, but convinced glidda can find them, two more Heralds head into the woods around Hallowfaust.
End game 18-and-a-half
Black Days of Kor Kammor
The group swims hard and fast through the black waters of the underground river, desperately hoping they'll find air before their breath gives out. They must make Swim checks, and take damage from each failure as the turbulent currents bump them against rocks or twist their limbs. They do find a small opening, but it is just inches high. Each Herald, in turn, sucks up one or two gasps of air, and then dives back down. The long river has many such small air pockets, but none allow for more that half their heads to break surface, and the air is rarely fresh. Soon, endurance becomes an issue, as does cold.
Voronex and Auriji are able to make every con check called for, but Daronelle and Juiren, as well as the twins, begin to struggle. Juiren becomes fatigued, but manages to brace himself in a small pocket of air and cast <I>minor restoration</i> to renew himself. The Twins take turns being in front of each other, each finding the path of least effort for the other. But Daronelle simply falls to exhaustion, and is nearly wisked away down river. Auriji manages to sense her rushing past, and grabs her. Not long after, just before Daronelle would drown, the Heralds come up in a larger cavern, and drag themselves out of the water. They are alive, and seem not to be followed. But this place is clearly a feeding warren for the undead, as bloody bones lay scattered everywhere. They are alive, but far from safe.
Voronex brings forth the undead gnoll body he hauled throughout the long swim, for the priests and healers to examine. This is clearly no common zombies, but a gnoll filled with black power to be a flesh-eating, self-willed undead of some power. Given it's stench and paralytic bite, the Twins quickly dub it a gnoul, a gnoll turned into a ghoul. Mhyssi and Juiren are both concerned, since the power to create unique, self-willed undead is the sign of a powerful necromancer. Agdrenel is either more skilled in true death magic than most vampires, or she has a necromancer working for her. They find this disturbing.
The Twins look at the spiked leather armor phallus on the gnoul, and ask why the fact a Vampire can make Undead is what the clerics find disturbing?!
Daronelle and Juiren only know about Agdrenel from stories. Auriji was dead last time they faced her. Mhyssi and Voronex want her destroyed, but with his Wisdom fully restored Voronex now has doubts. There is no sunlight here to defeat her, and she only approaches near the cave mouth at night. She is far less vulnerable than she was on the ship, and they never really knew how powerful she was then, since they avoided actually fighting her. Her presence here, with the undead gnolls, can not be a coincidence. She must be looking for the Heralds, and her intentions cannot be good.
Mhyssi doesn't care. She's full of rage about what Aaston did to her that she swore not to reveal. Her Brand of Metroba is throbbing in constant pleasure/pain in the presence of so much undead energy. Mhyssi wants to hurt something, and decides its better to take her wrath out on the undead than risk attacking her friends. She tells Voronex she refuses to leave without taking on Agdrenel, and for her sake, he acquiesces. Mhyssi realizes he's only agreeing for her, and in a moment of tenderness all too rare recently, kisses his cheek.
Auriji doesn't care if they attack or not, but now that they have decided to do so wants it done quickly. The element of surprise is one of their only advantages, and they may not even have it anymore given the encounters further back in the mountain. The gnouls may or may not report regularly, and given she has magic powers Agdrenel may have scryed out their purpose. The heralds' best chance is to press on as fast as possible, by the barbarian woman's reckoning, and hope they can catch the vampress unawares.
If that seems impossible, Auriji warns this may be a suicide mission with no upside. Ryssa and Lyssa opine, for the first time ever, that if there is no likely hope of success, they will NOT follow Mhyssi and Voronex into a deathtrap. Auriji will follow her blood-brother. Juiren will follow Mhyssi. Daronelle will follow Juiren. The Twins shrug, warning they're not kidding about fleeing if things go bad, but for now they continue on with the rest of the team.
Daronelle is instructed to try to find a path that heads up and in, toward Agdrenel's mine entrance encampment, but if at all possible avoids areas heavily traveled by the gnouls. The scout gamely sets out to try to find such a path, and soon discovers areas with higher build-ups of stirge guano have fewer signs of the undead horrors. She leads the Heralds, there being no question now of not carrying a light. Behind Daronelle is Rysaa, then Voronex, Juiren, Lyssa, Mhyssi, the Auriji. The Twins both have everburning torches, and Aurtiji carries an actual fire torch.
Though the caverns they go, moving deeper into the mountain. The tunnels of rough, natural passageways cut through larger natural caves, across raging underground rivers, and past stagnant pools. The water carved these caves long ago, though Voronex is bothered by the patterns. There are no stalactites or stalagmites, and the water seems not to have always gone the route of least resistance.
The air remains foul with guano but breathable, and periodically a gust suggests they are following the winds toward Agdrenel. Voronex also notices some bore holes in the floor, old but clearly made a test-bores for dwarven miners. He manages to examine one while the rest of the group argues about whether or not to climb a 45-degree incline filled with dribbling water, slime, and mushrooms. The bore holes are very old, but also incredibly smooth. He determines they must have been made by adamantine drills, or magic–either of which means the dwarves were looking for some ore of great value.
Meanwhile, Mhyssi and Auriji argue to climb the dangerous shaft, as it seems to be the largest air shaft up. The twins, Daronelle and Juiren fear the climb is too dangerous. As the debate comes to a head, Mhyssi suggests the climb is less dangerous than being in the mines too long, and ends with "Right, Voronex?"
The malformed dwarf was paying no attention, and doesn't want to admit he was examining ancient dwarven mine marks, so he shrugs noncommittaly. The while group takes that as a reluctant agreement with Mhyssi, and decide to take the hard climb.
When Voronex looks up at the shaft, he is horrified by what he suggested, but now can't explain why without revealing the bore mark, which his instincts tell him not to do.
(Aside, the player had no idea why he was keeping it a secret, and marked it down to racial dwarf greed. The other players were okay with that, if curious. The whole thing had been handled by passing notes, and the player really hadn't realized what he was agreeing to.) Worse, his wings can't work in the twisting, jagged, tight passage.
The climb is slow and treacherous. Auriji and Daronelle lead the way, each wedging pitons (not hammering them) to which ropes are looped. The rest of the group climb along behind. The angle is not too steep, but the drippling water (that originally cut the passage anyway) makes the sides slick, and slimes and molds worsen that situation. Even so, the mushrooms show where there are little ledges, and the group manages to climb up 500 feet before a serious problem strikes.
One of the mushrooms screams.
The shreiker lets loose a horrid cry, and its fellow fungus take up its refrain. Auriji instinctively kills the shrieker near her, but the damage is done. The distant sound of wings comes from above. Mhyssi is the only oen to make the dungeoneering check to realize what's coming, and yells "Down, now!"
But it's too late. A flock of stirge swarm onto the Heralds of Dawn.
Ryssa is hit immediately, and loses so much Con she falls unconscious. She falls free, and her rope pulls at Daronelle, who has to brace herself to stay upright. Voronex is also hit by several, though Auriji is missed by all the attacks. The heralds start to climb up, hoping to find a ledge. Voronex puts u0p a fire aura, forcing the stirges to take fire damage every time they bite in. No one stirge stays hooked on for long, but the flock keeps replacing those that flee the burning targets.
Over a few rounds, things go from bad to worse. Lyssa passed out from con loss, and Juiren doesn't have three rounds to cast a <I>lesser restoration</I>. Mhyssi nails one with spells, but has very little left for the day. Voronex is hit time and again, but constantly takes very little Con damage, and continues to climb. Then, the sounds of climbers below them echoes up, and the heralds realize the shriekers have alerted the gnouls. A squad is climbing up at them.
Then, the green slime begins to drip down on them. It's acidic burns sear flesh and metal, but the stirges seem to have evolved a natural immunity. Juiren and Mhyssi pass out, and Auriji is left hauling them up by brute strength. Daronelle and voronex must carry Lyssa and Ryssa, and the gnouls are clearly gaining. Voronex actually fills a stirge to blood-capacity, and is still up and kicking. As the green slime begins to pool on the largest ledge they must get past, Voronex asks Auriji if she can carry Lyssa as well, and the barbarian gamely claims she can. She now climbs the slick walls whiles hauling a ripe with three unconscious comrades, making Str and Climb checks *every round* while Voronex begins to hammer at the large ledge from below it.
He makes a Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check to aid his own Knowledge (dungeoneering) check, and hammers at the ledge. He can *just* slam past the hardness of the stone (which is halved as a result of his skill checks), and must take many rounds to do much damage.
Auriji keeps climbing, and Daronelle is forced to follow her. The stirge focus on Voronex, because he's making the most noise, but none can stay on his burning body long. After many rounds, the girls manage to get to the top of the shaft, and look down, they can just see Voronex, engulfed in his own flame, constantly bitten at by stirges, no more than a hundred feet above the oncoming patrol of a dozen gnouls, hammering as a ledge of green slime trying to burn his face off. Daronelle turns to try to revive Juiren, while Auriji prepares to rope to help her leap down to fight to the death with her blood brother.
Then, Voronex cracks the ledge. The next round, he breaks it. And a long strip of stone, filled with green slimes, collapses onto the gnoul patrol. Not a single gnoul makes its Climb check, and the full squad slip free and fall down the hundreds of feet of shaft, as green slime burns their dead flesh. The huge cacophony attracts the stirge flock, which flies down after them.
Voronex climbs up, and joins the other Heralds. They stagger away, using potions to bring Juiren and Mhyssi around, then tapping any healing those two have left. When Voronex finds an old bunk-room, concealed in cunning stonework, once used by dwarven mines ages ago, the group decide they must risk bedding down. Auriji takes first watch, but never rouses anyone else. She simple makes Con checks all night, and then uses her last lesser restoration potion to remove her own fatigue.
Everyone in this group gains a level.
End game 17
Black Days of Kor Kammor
It takes more than a day for the Heralds to track down an entrance into the mines, through a series of natural caves low in the mountain from which a spring runs. There is much difficult climbing even once within, and there is the distant smell of wet decay, suggesting bodies are rotting in the river. The farther in they go, the stronger the smell gets. Also, once they are around the first two turns of the caves, there is no light at all.
This results in a debate. Voronex and the Twins can see with darkvision, and Auriji proves able enough moving in total darkness (combination of Blind-Fighting and good d20 rolls), but even Daronelle has difficulty with no light, and Jurien and Mhyssi are constantly barking their shins in total black. The Twins don't want to be spotted, and argue any light is too great a risk. Daronelle and Jurien argue their falling and curing is making enough noise to echo down the corridor and give them away in any case, and with no light they are close to useless in a fight. As the rotting flesh smell is getting stronger even as they just stand around and argue in forced whispers, they feel combat at SOME point is inevitable. Finally, the group agrees a few candles worth of shadowed illumination is better than no light at all. They pull three candles out of their packs, and Daronelle lights one with a tindertwig.
Revealing the cavern they are in is crawling with undead gnolls, creeping silently along the walls and ceiling.
With a howl, the gnoll-corpses fling themselves down on the Heralds in the surprise round. All the Heralds are flat-footed, though the Twins do receive special DM permission to scream in total panic as a free action as a pack of undead gnolls with spiked phalluses built into their armor leaps out at them. However, even flat-footed, Auriji is not about to let the gnolls attack without hurting them. As she has Combat Reflexes, she can make attacks of opportunity while flat-footed, and Majah Gada is always in hand, a reach weapon that happens to cover every line of attack the gnoll-corpses are rushing along, especially those undead leaping down from above. As we allow the longspear to trip in our games (to soup-up it's usefulness), Auriji throws a trip at every one of six attacking gnolls-corpses. She succeeds five times, forcing the gnoll-dead to the ground. As they were charging, their actions are wasted with them left prone. A single gnoll-dead beats Auriji's trip, and she is forced to drop Majah Gada. The sole gnoll-corpse standing bites Lyssa as a charge, and in addition to a horrific critical hit, it paralyzes her.
As the first regular round of combat begins, a waive of nausea overcomes the Heralds. The gnoll-dead are the source of the horrid stench of wet decomposition they smelled, and now it is overpowering. Voronex actually fails a Fortitude save, as do Juiren and Ryssa, and all three are sickened. Mhyssi is unaffected, and Daronelle and Auiji resist the effect. Auriji wins initiative, and quickdraws Phrit Fi, her punch dagger, and assaults the standing ghoul, Power Attacking for all she is worth. She even spends an Action Point to double the value of her Power Attack. Her attacks all hit, and she manages to destroy the gnoll-corpse in a single round of attacks. She then flips Phrit Fi to bury itself point-down in the foul corpse, and uses Quickdraw again (it's a free action) to kick Majah Gada back to her hands.
Mhyssi goes next, and throws a turn at the creatures. To the group's horror she manages a maximum turn, but does not affect a single gnoll-dead. Mhyssi realizes the entire cave complex has been desecrated, and all undead have high levels of turn resistence here. Her efforts are a waste. She whips out her greatsword from her charm bracelet.
The undead gnolls leap to their feet, but in doing so all draw attacks of opportunity from Auriji again, and she stabs 4 of 5 remaining foes wounding them. Mhyssi also gets one AoO, and slashes at the one Auriji misses. Then, the dead gnolls get attacks. Mhyssi is bitten twice, and Auriji once. Auriji has to save vs paralysis, but Mhyssi does not. Auriji succeeds, and is still up, though the gnolls are mostly inside her spear's range now. Jurien is also bitten, and instantly paralyzed.
Daronelle grabs Juiren and dashes outside the main circle of fighting. Ryssa leaps to Lyssa's defense, and tries to trip a gnoll-dead with her whip, but fails. Lastly Voronex goes, positioning himself to catch three wounded ghoul corpses. They are injured badly by his fire, but a secondary effect also occurs. The cave is revealed to be full of stirge guano, which burns easily. The cone of flame breath lights up vast piles of it, and the fire begins to spread quickly. Daronelle and Juiren are caught in the spreading fire, and take 1d6. But as the fire intensifies, that damage will grow.
Auriji suddenly can't easily get far enough away from ghouls to use Maha Gada without getting into a fire. Ignoring the d6 of burn damage, she tumbles into a small fire and stabs a ghoul-dead that is already burned and slashed and drops it, leaving 4. Mhyssi decides she'll need her spells later and just slashes at another wounded one, damaging it further. The ghouls are dripping wet (having swum just moments before climbing onto the walls and ceiling) and ignore the guano fire damage for now. Three focus on Auriji, tearing at her with long claws and snapping their long yellow fangs at her flesh, but they do little damage. One tries to grapple Mhyssi, thrusting its hips at her as it does so. She runs it through, but discovers that while these undead don't have Improved Grab, their lack of pain receptors allows them to continue a grapple even if they take an AoO, and it successfully grabs her.
Six more ghoul-dead rush into the far end of the corridor, also dripping wet. They rush through the slowly spreading guano fire to attack. Voronex and Ryssa take multiple hits, and must constantly save vs paralysis.
Daronelle gets Jurien into the river, standing waist-deep in the water to put out flames that had begun to lick at the hem of his tunic. In doing so, she fails a Reflex save (rolled a 1), and drops the only lit candle in the room. The cave is thrown into shadowed darkness, the only light the dozens of tiny fires flickering. Auriji shouts for light, and fights on anyway, but misses even with her Blind Fighting reroll. Realizing no else is likely to be able to, Mhyssi beats a grapple check (!) And using an action point summons up a <i>light</I>, throwing green-and-gold rays of illumination through the cave.
Gnoll-dead bite and claw, the 10 of them trying to surround the Heralds. Voronex can't risk another fire breath attack, and knows undead are immune to cold and Strength drains. Instead he wreaths himself in a fire aura, and tackles the ghoul between Ryssa and the river. He bares it into the spreading guano fire, and manages to do some burn damage through its wet fur. Ryssa gives herself <I>darkvision</I> and hauls Lyssa into the water by Daronelle.
Auriji intentionally cuts herself off from the Heralds, raging and screaming at the gnoll-dead. Able to see them again, she hammers at a wounded one and drops it, Cleaves into another wounded one and drops it, and stabs a third. Mhyssi is no longer convinced this battle can be won without spellfire, and opens up. She uses <I>whirling blade</I> to throw her greatsword at five of the gnolll-dead who line up, then begins to retreat to the river herself.
The ghouls surround Auriji and Voronex, biting and clawing but unable to paralyze them (they have the two best Fortitude saves in the party). Three gnoll-corpses slip into the river, where they show they have Swim rates and, since they need not breath, can shoot back and forth through the water with only ripples to reveal their location. Daronelle is pulled under by grapples,a nd ryssa must use both arms to keep either Lyssa or Juiren from sliding below the surface and drowingin.
Auriji throws caution to the win, and fights in a purely offensive style. She allows herself to get flanked so she can use Maja Gada on the ones about to bring down Voronex, then takes 5-foot steps in a fighting retreat so she can keep her foes in Majah Gada's reach.
Daronelle slashes and stabs, but can;t break free of 3 gnoll undead in the water, beneath the surface. Knowing how deadly underwater fighting can get, Mhyssi begins using <I>magic missile</I> anytime she gets even a flicker of a gnoll-corpse under the water, spending Action Points for Sudden Maximize each time to hurt them fast. She actually burns higher-level spells for more <I>magic missiles</I> once she runs out of 1st level sorcerer spells. She kills one Auriji and Voronex had wounded, then another on pure magic missile damage. Daronelle manages to escape from the third, but is BADLY battered.
Auriji is a bloody mess, actually kept up largely by Voronex's vigor aura. She and he finish off another Gnolls, and then rush to the river. And as they do so, *another* group of 4 undead gnolls swim in, remaining below the surface.
The Heralds are now all standing waist-deep in the river, as the dead water gnolls swim around them. The walls and ceiling are alight with burning stirge-guano, the flickering red illumination of which battle Mhyssi's green-and-gold <i>light</I> spell. No patch of ground isn't doing 2d6 fire damage a round, but the gnoll-dead can fight from below the surface of the water. All the heralds are damaged, three are sickened, and two are paralyzed. Voronex sparks two sunrods to life, dropping one to illuminate the gnolls from the bottoms of the river.
As their shadows are cast up onto the surface, the gnolls rush in, trying to bring down Auriji. She spies their approach, and skewers one. Daronelle jumps a second, just to draw its attacks. The gnoll-dead try to slip backl away from their hit-and-swim raid, but Ryssa nails them all with a <I>glitterdust</I> (action point for Still Spell). So the dark water no longer lends them cover. Voronex jumps on the one Daronelle is wrestling with, and Auriji throws Maja Gada at another, drawing Phrit Fi for close-in water fighting.
A few desperate round of hammer-and tongs fighting pass, with the Heralds grimly stabbing and slashing for their lives. When only one gnoll remains, it suddenly turns and tried to flee. Auriji grapples *it*, and is them paralyzed, while holding it. Before it can wriggle free, Mhyssi decapatates it. Voronex grabs a dead gnoll, and turns to flee back out of the cavern. But as he flies to the bend of the cave system, he hears marching feet. More undead, a patrol of them, are headed into the cave system, blocking their escape. Most herlads and single-digit hit points, the healer can;t mvoe, and Mhyssi the sorcerer is out of offensive spells.
Without hesitation, Mhyssi grabs Juiren, and tells daronelle to find them an escape deeper in. The Heralds rush down the river, only to find it flows out of solid rock.
Ryssa: "Since we can't survive another fight, we can safely assume there's air within swimming range."
Voronex (puzzled): "Why's that?"
Ryssa: "Because if there isn't, we're all going to drown."
Auriji: "Right!" (Grabs Juiren, dives into the underground river)
End Game 16
Black Days of Kor Kammor
The Heralds are fighting a twpo-front war, with two EYes of the Deep down in the sea water, and against a hoarde of Abhorrent One (AO) undead in the inverted hull of a slaver ship caught in a sargasso.
At the deepest point of the battle, Mhyssi is conscious and not badly damaged, but is still making Con checks with high (and growing) DCs to not start drowning, and is at the deepest point of the underwater battle. There is an illusion of her own form slowly sinking past her, and what *appears* to actually be Juiren doing the same. And an Eye of the Deep is attacking her. Her player does a quick calculation on how long it'll take her to get to the air pocket, and decided both she and Juiren will be dead before that happens. Desperate for any way to even the odds, she tries to snags Juiren's tunic (touch attack miss by one) and begins casting Summon Monster II (action point for Silent Spell).
The other heralds keep swimming downward. Meanwhile Ryssa, back safely on the Hawksail asks if they have a sea-caster, They do, of course, but he's not about to risk himelf in the situation Ryssa is describing the heralds being in. Rhyssa just wants a water breathing spell, because since it is a touch, hamrless spell she can transfer it's benefits to Lyssa, her other body. However, she bothces her Diplomacy check, and the caster is hesitant, since he can only cast the spell once per day. Normally, he uses it in emergencies, and casts it on multiple people. The ship's captain gives the caster permission to use the spell, but isnt willing to order him to do so. In the end, Ryssa shells out 240 gp for the spell, then shifts its benefits to Lyssa. She also "buys" healing spells from a 3rd level druid travling on the Hawksail several times during the fight. (This takes longer to arrange than tell, since Ryssa uses rounds of combat time to track people down and talk to them)
Despite being attacked and injured, Mhyssi successfully gets off her summing monster II spell, and calls forward.... 3 celestial porpoises!! Though she cannot communicate with them, they immediately see she is in danger of drowning, as is Juiren. With Swim speeds of 80, the poirposes have no trouble getting under the two, and swimming rapidly upwards. The third swims past the higher of the two eyes of the deep, and is sent back to its home plane with an attack of opportunity,. However, the EotD has no other Attack fo Opportunity to stop the two taking Mhyssi and Juiren up to the air pocket. The two arrive just as Mhyssi passes out, and a round before Juiren would die. He is, however, at -1 hp and in danger of dying anyway if someone doesn't give him aid.
Tiera has her hands full trying to hold the doorway from the Abhorrent Ones, and the beggar with the shiney sword is only some help, having already been beaten, diseased, and exhausted -- though somehow he keeps standing and fighting. Her spirit wolverine helps, and she has spiritual weapons going, but more and mroe of the creatures are cralwing out of the woodwork to swamp the position she's trying to defend. Now, Mhyssi and Juiren pop out of the ocean, breathing but exposed to the undead. The beggar lurches out to defend the two unconscious heralds, leaving Tiera unable to go help them wihtout letting the surviving slaves behind her be swarmed and devoured. Feeling she has few options left, she tries to call the sargasso weeds into the hull. A few fronds make it in through the water, but enough enough to do much.
Meanwhile, the waterborn fighting gets much more interesting. The Eyes of the Deep come rushing up from the depths, and the Heralds are swimming and singking down from abaove. The two groups come into contact, and mayhem is unleashed. Lyssa's dagger is more effective in some ways than Quince's longsword, and Daronelle switches to a twin dagger fighting style, but without doubt it is Auriji's Phrit Fi that once more does the most damage, and she hooks the glitterdust rope over her foe's claw. But the eyes have terribler claws and bites, and one manages to grapple Lyssa. Immediately, it can score its claw and bite attacks one her automatically every round, and she has only half the total hit points of her two-body soul.
Voronex takes the longest to get down, and positions himself oddly away from the others. Everyone assumes he can't possible use a breath weapon, as fire will be useless andd if he uses cold he may kill Lysaa, who is in the same space as one of the two EotD. However, instead of exhaling, Voronex inhales mightily! He catches the two EotD and Lyssa, and does a -6 Str penalty to all of them! (I thought this was a really cool effect for a weakening breath weapon, inhaling their strength, and we made it official from there on out) Lyssa then uses Escape Artist, which doesn't suffer from her lessened Strength, to easily slip free. Suddenly, the EotD hit much less often in melee, and do less damage when they hit. Quince engages the once Lyssa escapes, and hammers at it as it tries to catch up to the Jester, who begins making her way toward Auriji.
But claws are not their only weapons. The other EotD hits Lyssa with a hold person, a paralysis that has her begin drowning immediately. Except, she can breath water now, so even if she loses her breath she's at no risk! But Quince doesn't know that. Quince has to stop fighting to grab her, and move to safety. Darronelle covers his escape with quick, short passes against the eye of the deep, but cant keep its attention long. Quince kicks off a submerged rowboat, which flips and dumps a pile of bodies that begin to be dragged down by their iron chains. These bodies are clearly slaves, their throats bitten out by the undead and their bodies dumped into the water. They drift down, toward Auriji and the lower EotD. Quince believes he has just three rounds to get Lyssa into air, or she dies. Lyssa, meanwhile, checks to see if she has lost her breath, and hasn;t yet.
Voronex zeroes in on the EotD Quince was fighting, and breaths ice on it. Already wounded, it starts to flee. Voronex goes after it, but can't begin to keep up. Daronelle goes after him and can swim faster, but is quickly running out of air. The other Eye heads down, and Auriji is dragged by her rope after it, as the bodies drift about her.
In the hull, Tiera casts plant growth on the few fronds of seaweed that had crawled in, choking off the entrayway she needs to guard. The Abhorrent ones are cut off from the slaves, but so is Tiera. She spins, knocking shreiking slaves out of her was as she looks for another way around, so she can help Mhyssi and Juiren. The AOs start to hack through the vines.
Meanwhile, the beggar is the only one keeping the Abhorrent Ones off the two unconscious Heralds. They rush him, grappling him and bearing him to the ground. One disarms him, knocking his shining sword from him. The sword clatters from the beggar's battered hand, skids across the tilted ship decking, and slides into the sea. The beggar cries out in anguish, but lacks the strength to get the Abhorrent Ones off him. The sword appaears lost.
Food Arrives, and we take a few minutes to eat.
During the pizza break, Auriji's player asks me some questions about her tribe, for roleplaying purposes. She knows as a warrior her spirit is rewarded in the afterlife if she dies wll, and undeath is unacceptable to her people. She knows they burn bodies of the dead in pyres, to free any pieces of spirit trapped within, because she and I had talked about that. What she wants to know is, how does dronwing work into her people's mythology. It's a fair question, and over slices of mushroom and pineapple we discuss it. The Onyx Jaguars (her tribe) are a people that worship spirits of the air. They believe the more active you are the more air you breathe, thus the more in touch with the spirits. So an active death, or a fighting death, is best for warriors. So she doesn't want to die underwater, because water will fill her lungs. So she is putting her soul in risk with these actions.
Auriji's player asks what about bodies that die and then fall into water? After all, she wasn't worried about her soul when fighitng on the deck of the Ill Wind. Now, I'll admit that I was worried Auriji was going to get herself killed again, so I went a little CSI and mentioned that bodied that die, THEN go into the water still have air in their lungs. Auriji's player gave me an odd look, and asked if that was *really* common knowledge among her people. Would Auriji know that? I shrugged and said sure, their shamans find that stuff out and spread it around. I was hoping it t would encourage her to get Auriji, who I liked, back to safety.
Foolish me. Back to the game.
Tiera finds a crawlway leading back toward the part of the ship with Mhyssi and Juiren. She wriggles her way down it, toward the sounds of biting and tearing. Knowing Juire is nearest death (she could see how pale he was) she orders her spirit totem wolverine to guard his body until she arrives. The crawlway is broken with lots of little holes, leaving her vulnerable and exposed as well as constricted, but Tiera does not want to let her friends down.
Lyssa recovers from the hold person the next round and looks at Quince, who is clearly in trouble about air (he burned actions points for extra standard actions to get to her, and that's burned up his held breath fast). She indicates a chain he needs to cut. Having spent time learning rigging, she sees if he's attached to one of the ropes tangled up in the chain, cuts the chain, the heavy crossbeam on one side of the rope will fall, and Quince will shoot upwards. She ties him to the rope.... but unfortunately, her dagger can't possibly cut through it. Quince sees what she wants, but isn't sure he can hack a chain with his sword fast enough....
As the shining sword the beggar dropped slides right at him in the water. Quince is right under where it went in, and it is now falling past him. That provokes an attack of opportunity, and Quince, seeing how bright it is, takes a chance to grab it, Quickdraw it to ready it, and hack at the chain. As soon as his gloved fingers curl around the hilt: Quince is told in his mind the sword is Breach, Sword of Sieges, and it's purpose is Up, not here! Quince accepts this, as he wants to get up too. Since that completes it's special purpose, Breach gives him great power, and Quince Smites the chain. As Lyssa hoped, the Quince goes hurtling upwards. Lyssa is holding the cut crossbeam, and plunges into the depths. Lyssa is still holding her breath, even though she can breathe water and knows it. I didnt understand why, but acknowledge she's still got a lungfull of slightly stale air.
As one Eye of the Deep, roped to Auirji by the glitterdust rope, goes deeper and deeper, Auriji snags one of the bodies of the slaves which had their throats bitten out. She pucnhes her dagger deep into its chest, then moves to suck air out of its dead lungs.
Okay, debate time. It's a cool as hell manever, especially for a barbarian. But I don't believe for a minute it'll really work. But who wants real in a fantasy game? On the other hand, you have to have some kind of baseline, and if it isn't reality, it should at least be cinematic reality. In the end, I tell her that to reward a cool idea, she need not make a Con check this round, and her Con check is set back by 1 point next round. However, it didn't work, and Auriji now knows it won't work, so she wont have any reason to try again. This doesn't penlaize Auriji for her player's cool idea, but it also keeps the game more believable for me (and I discover later, several other players). Evenone is pokay with that ruling, and on we go.
Quince pops up with Breach, just as the Abhorrent Ones are finishing off the beggar. However, his means he's free to protect Mhyssi and Juiren... except he's not. Breach is the Sword of Sieges, and it insist on dealing with the Abhorrent Ones trying to get past the plant growths seaweed at the salves, ignores those laying on the ground. Quince tries to refuse, but having accepted its power to get here, Breach forces him to submit to its priorities. Quince scream and yells to get the Abhorrent One's attention, then lkeaps over the the vine choked doorway Tiera left a fewe rounds agi. Here, he stands with Breach, ready to hold it against all comers. This counts as a siege, and Breach gives Quince access to its full array of special powers.
Voronex is falling behind one fleeing eye of the deep, and decided it's time to turn back. He just wanted to chase it far enoguh it wouldnt come back, swim around him, and go get the vulnerabe auriji. But as he turns, he realizes he's swum too close to the sharks, still circling., Now, two attack him and Daronelle. Suddenly Voronex has more serious concerns than if a fleeing EotD is going after Auriji. Daroneele begins making Con checks to not drown.
Meanwhile, Auriji has the highest Con in the group, and it's even higher when raging (oddly the madder she is, the longer she can hold her breath), and she just sank for a few rounds rather than fight, but she's never gotten a fresh breath of air. She's more than three minutes under water now (Extedned rage the only reason she hasnt died earlier), and having to spend action points to increase her Con checks to the 20+ range to keep from beginning to drown.
But Lyssa, frail, pale jester, now reaches Auriji and lets go of the falling crossbeam. Lysaa reaches out for Auriji, and plants a kiss on the surprised barbarian's lips. And with that kiss, comes the last few rounds worth of fresh air from Lyssa's lungs. Lyssa backs away, a trail of blood tricking from her mouth (YOU kiss a raging barbarian girl and see how you look afterward), then takes a big lungful of water, breathing it happily.
Lyssa only had a couple of round before she'd have to had begun making con checks, so Auriji still didn't get a fresh Con-duratin in rounds of air. But I did rest her to DC 10 Con checks, since she got *some* fresh air.
Voronex alternates between weakning breath and cold breath, and he and Daronelle actually dispatches two sharks handily. But she needs air, and is forced to head not for the air pockets, but the surface of the sargasso. Sharks head after her. Voronex takes a round to guts the dead sharks, and swims away. When other sharks swim in, the fresh, dead sharks are easier meals than the dragnblooded deformed dwarf or the fleeing spring elf. Daronelle makes it to the sargasso surface and can breath, but is stuck. She misses the rest of the fight.
Tiera is crawling through a tight space, trying to reach the spot where Mhyssi and Juiren lay helpless, Juiren dying. (We don't kill people until they reach -10, -their Con, or -their level, whichever is greater, but even so Juiren is close to death just from bleeding). She has to duck through an underwater section, which is where she first gets to where she can see the two bodies. All but one Abhorrent One have gone to attack Quince, but that one has finished killing the beggar, and now turns it horrid, vile attentions on Mhyssi. As she tries to squeeze out to help, still submerged, Tiera finds one armed grabbed!
An Abhorrent one has found her, and grabbed her arm through one of the many cracks and opening in the crawlway. Tiera struggls to get free, but even with her bull's strength she is no match for its undead grip. She can see the vile thing the abhorrent One by Mhyssi is doing, but can't get free to help. Worse, it bites and claws as it violates her, and Tiera is sure if she sends her wolverine to stop it, it'll turn its attentions on Juiren, who will die after a single bite. Nor can she cast, because she needs both Silent Spell (as she's currently underwater) and Still Spell (since the APO has one arm). She can use an action point for one of those, but not both. She can hear Quince bellowing in rage, but he used Breach's power, and it won't let him leave a defensible position defending others to save someone with no foritifcation.
Renewed, Auriji reels herself into the EotD she;'s fought so long, and Lyssa catches a ride with her. The eye ties once more to paralyse them, but even though her rage ends, Auriji resists. It tries to bite them, and fails. Lyssa does a mime patonmine of how rediculous the eye of the Deep looks, using her motely hat and a glitterdust mop head nearby (from the original casting of the spell), creating an inpsiring quip. Now that she isnt enraged, Auriji is amused and gains a bonus from the quip to attack the EotD. They are also now beneath most of the debris. Auriji puts away Phrit Fi, and whips out Majah Gada. The Eye of the deep regains its strength, and attacks full force, and Lyssa loses sight of the two in a cloud of blood.
Voronex is also clear of the debirs now, returning his darkvision to full range. He sees the glitterdust rope far benath him, and sees the second eye of the deep headed toward that battle as well. Despite his slow speed, he heads that way.
Quince is a fury, hacking and slashing with Breach and taking on all but two of the Abhorrent Ones left in the hold area. He discovers that with breach, each time he successfully hits in defense of others in a fortification, he gains 1 hp. This encourages him to power attack less, as hitting with more, weaker blows gets him mroe healing. But he still can't reach mhyssi.
Nor can Tiera, and it's driving her mad. The player confirms it's only her arm that is pinned by the Abhorrent One, and I confirm that's the case. Juriens player encourages her to call her wolverine to help her, risk an AO killing him, but then getting free to help Mhyssi, but Tiera can ehar other Aos headed this way, and has other plans. Noting she has skinning and tanning skills, Tiera declares she's pulling out her boning knife with her free arm, and cutting off her pinned arm at the shoulder, working it through the joint as a clean cut.
A bit stunned, I require a DC 20 skill check, and a DC 25 Fortitude save. Tiera makes both (with the aid of an action point). I deal critical knife damage to her, tell her she's bleeding one hp a round, and otherwise let her go. The Abhorrent One with her arm begins to feed on it, And Tiera works her way free for the watery crawlspace.
Auriji slays one EotD, just as the second one arrives. Lyssa nails it with a Tasha's Hideous Laughter, which works despite the type difference (action point for Silent Spell) , and the two Heralds begin swimming upward. They join Voronex, who takes up a reargaurd.
Yelloweyes finds the main fight, at long last, and sees a new band of Aos ready to jump Quince (thoe ones Tiera heard coming). Yelloweyes takes human form, and tries to hit the lead one with a beguiling stare. However, the AOs are fully undead, and thus immune to mind-affecting powers. The Aos jump yelloweyes, baring her to the ground and beginning to feed on and ravish her.
Tiera, bleeding, bursts out and faces the AO violating Mhyssi's unconscious, and now nearly dead, form. She uses her other 4th level spell for the day (With Still Spell from an action point, since she is missing and arm and holding a knife), and casts divine power on herself. Then she jumps the AO, knifing it viciously. The two get into a nasty claw brawl.
Voronex falls behind, but is okay with that. The Eye of the deep he chased off once hits him with a stun cone, which does not affect him, but voronex stops moving anyway. When the creature grapples him, voronex hits it full n the face with cold breath. It freezes, and dies.
Auriji and Lyssa pop up, to see one AO attacking a wolverine, one rolling on the ground bwith Tiera, Mhyssi and Juiren laying in a heap, torn and bloody, and quince finishing off tweo OA by a weed-choked entrance. Auriji dispatches the one fighting the wolvering, and Lyssa applies a healign potion ot Juiren. And now, the healer is conscious, and has nearly his full complement of spells.
Juiren heals Mhyssi. Mhyssi nails the OA fighting Tiera with a scorching ray. Quince dispatches the last one fighting him, meaning he's now free to move from his spot. The group NOW hears the fight around the bend, where Yelloweyes is being bitten and molested. Auriji, Tiera, Quince, and Mhyssi rush around the corner, and engage the last Aos. Juiren checks out the beggar, who is dead and beyond help.
The heralds crush the last of the Aos, and Yellowyes is, just barely, alive. Juiren hels everyone, but cant restore Tiera's arm, which no one can find. Tiera shrugs it off.
Under Tiera's command, the sargasso pushes the capsized ship out (but lacks the strength to right it), and releases Daronelle. With the ship out of the danger zone, the Hawksail's crew help with rescue and recovery operations, which take the rest of the day.
Late in the day, Yelloweyes and Lyssa fall ill as the Abhorrent One bites infect and begin to send black streamers acorss their veins. Though bitten as much as either, Mhyssi makes all saves against the magic diseases. Jurien tries to cure Lyssa (he only has one prepared), but must make caster level checks against the magic disease and fails. Despondant, he promises to try again tomorrow. Mhyssi tells him she's sure he'll do fine, and he perks up. Tiera also promises to try, if Juiren fails, as her magic is different.
The dead are burned rather than buried at sea, at Voronex's insistence. Great treaure is brought from the slaver's hold, which the heralds share with the surviving slaves (each of whom refuse to take more than 1,000 gp each, still leaving the PCs a hefty haul). Quince tries to get rid of Breach, but it talks him out of it. He can do as he will in combat, as long as he doesnt call on its powers. But if he finds he MUST defend innocents anyway, why not use the sword? He grugingly agrees.
Among other treasures, Mhyssi finds an emerald that enhances weapons it is put on, and slaps it on her greatword. Auriji gets a big ring of protection and boots of spring and striding. A lot of magic armor is passed out. Voronex gets a belt of giant strength because no one else will take it (treasure overload, and people felt guilt for voronex not having class-specific items). Daronelle gets a pair of magic keen shocking short swords. Tiera gets a cloak of the bear. There's other stuff I didnt note at the time.
That night, Tiera simple goes to voronex's room with him, convincing Daronelle (with some reason) the two are now an item. Mhyssi is feeling a bit jittery, and asks Juiren if he'd mind if they had sex. Juiren is flabbergasted, which Mhyssi at first takes as a refusal, but when she discovers he's a virgin she decides to "break him in." Mhyssi needs only four hors of meditation, and as a result Juiren is fatigued the next day. Ryssa stays with the master of wings, while Lyssa sleeps in the infirmary with yelloweyes. Auriji and Quince go to their room, and have victory sex, then talk about Breach and what its powers mean.
The Hawksail finds bunks for 78 surviving slaves, and Tiera offhandedly convinces the sargasso to take itself, the capzied ship, and the debris back to the bottom of the sea. As the
End Game Ten
Black Days of Kor Kammor
It's dark in the water. While it's full light on the surface, the vast hull totally blocks light below it, and the seaweed sargasso chokes out most of the rest of the light. Voronex's darkvision is cut to half distance for the clutter and detris floating through the sea, those with low-light get clear illumination out to only ten feet, and the humans have only five feet of bright visibility. It's actually easier to see down than up (as the clutter is thinner below them), and the glitterdust rope is clearly visible from a distance, though it's illumination doesn't make the area around it much brighter.
Lyssa, Daronelle and Voronex are in the first major air pocket, in a mid deck now right below one of the middle cargo holds. There is the smell of salt, blood, human waste and fear everywhere. As soon as they pop up, several maddened, patchwork-wrapped grey men turn from their efforts to claw open a hatch, and lock their oily black eyes on the Heralds. These are the survivors of the Ghuraki crew, now fully undead Abhorrent Ones and seeking living flesh on which to feed. Lyssa and Daronelle gamely engage them, but their precision attacks aren't particualrly effective against undead. Voronex breaths fire in great gouts, confident the wood by the waterline is wet enough he won't catch the ship on fire. Lyssa suffers a terrible Abhorrent bite, which turns out to be infected.
Two dozen feet below them in the ocean waters, the Eyes of the Deep's twin stun cones hit Auriji, Quince, Tiera, Mhyssi, and Juiren, with Auriji and Mhyssi both hit by two of the cones. Mhyssi fails her save, is stunned 8 rounds, and immediately begins to sink. Since she is stunned, not unconsciuous, she still gets to make her Constitution checks to hold her breath.
Quince rolls a natural 1 and also begins to sink, drifting right past Auriji and Tiera. Auriji makes both saves, doesn't hesitate, swims past Quince's sinking body to rage and make toward the nearest EotD with her punch dagger, Phrit Fi. Tiera is forced to grab Quince, and struggles to get him to the air pocket the Heralds can see about them, shimmering like a liquid silver sky.
(Aside note -- even though it's a light weapon, Auriji can Power Attack for up to 5 with Phrit Fi. We have a weapons guru in our group, and he was bothered that the punch dagger, which is primarily based on getting your full body mass and strength behind it, couldn't benefit at all from Power Attack. There were a lot of other little bonsues he through weapons should have when used by an expert. So, we added a lot of little bonuses you get if you have Weapons FOcus, which includes up to 5 pts of PA for a punch dagger)
Auriji rages, and begins punching with Phrit Fi, engaging one of the EotD. The other takes a moment to create a minor image of an unconscious Mhyssi, sinking next to the real Mhyssi. Juiren can only see her at the shadowed limits of his vision. He grabs a length of chain hung up by some rope, and cuts it away. The heavy chain drags him down toward the two Mhyssi's faster than he could swim, but that also takes him further from the other heralds and any possible support.
Tiera is having serious trouble hauling Quince up to the shimmering pool of air above her. Then she spots a trailing frond of the carnivorous seaweed. Grabbing it, she depends on her command plants to communicate her need to make it to the air pocket (Cha check). Much stronger than her, the seaweed complies, bringing her and Quince up to the air trapped beneath the ship, saving them both.
Here the battle with the three Abhorrent ones is nearly done, but more of the creatures are moving to the sound of the fighting from other places on the ship. The door the undead were scrabbling at opens, and a ragged, wounded man with a finely crafted longsword (streaked with black blood) steps out. He warns them the ship has at least a dozen creatures still on it, and all efforts to swim out have been disastrous. He's done his best to keep the survivors together, but he has little energy left. He asks the heralds if they can grab a few women and children, and try to get them to safety while he holds off the Abhorrent ones. Vorenex flatly states the heralds aren't fleeing yet, and they plan to save everyone still on this ship.
Alone on top of the inverted hull, Yelloweyes finds a crack she can crawl through as a cat, and sneaks into the hulk. She wants to avoid getting wet, but most of the interior is cut off from the crack she found (which is why the ship is still flaoting, bouyed by the trapped air) and so she has to dive under a section of ship to make it to the main hold. She finds people huddling, but so far no threat or the Heralds.
Meanwhile, Juiren has reached one Mhyssi only to discover it's the illusion, The EotD that created the illusion is hammering at him, but he keeps making Will saves against its paralysis and stun attacks, and spending action poitns for Silent Spell to heal himself from its claw attacks. Mhyssi is still making Con checks, but the DCs now require very high rolls from her, and the EotD turns to attack her stunned form. Juiren releases his chain, and swims for Mhyssi even as the EotD begins to rip her apart. Having cast many times, Juiren is nearly out of breath. With a surge of speed he swims to Mhyssi's side (actions point) and casts panacea. It cures her of some damage, and negates the stun effect. Then, Juiren fails his DC 10 Con check. He passes out and begins to drown.
Auriji is swirling in a cloud of waterborn blood, trading blow-for-blow with the other EotD. It can't overcome her Will save, and she seems more than willing to let it claw at her if it means she gets to stab it. After Auriji scores a particularly amazing critical hit, the EotD decides she is too tough a target, and swims for Mhyssi and it's mate. Auriji grabs the glitterdust rope and swims after it, while tying the rope into a snare. She is now making Con checks every round to prevent herself from drowning.
In the inverted hull, a discussion on who should stay to deal with the Abhorrent and who should go back into the water breaks out. Quince, now revived, asks which spellscasters have water-breathing type spells. Unfortunately, none of the spellcasters has any kind of water breathing ready. The spontaneous casters don't know such spells, and the preparations casters, despite being at sea for days, didn't prepare any.
This resulted in some chiding from other players, until Voronex's player asked Auriji and Quince's players if they had bought any kind of potion for water breathing. In case waterborn assassins made off ther with spellcasters for example. When they confessed they hadn't, the player had Voronex drink his Admixed Potion of Swim/Water Breathing. He bought the potion in Liberty, just before ther party left, and reminded them he'd asked if anyone else wanted to buy one. They had refused. There was no further chiding of the spellcaster's readiness. Voronex jumps into the water, to hlep fight the EotD.
Meanwhile, Tiera yells she'll deal with *everything* in the hull, so the rest of the party can back up those in the water. She decides that since her wolverine spirit *can* fight at full capacity in the hull, and *can't* in the water, it makes the most sense for her to be the ship-combatant. However, since she knows everyone is going to be in dangerous underwater, she wants to free up *everyone* else. Garonelle doesn't hesitate, and jumps into the water. Quince does hesitate, but when Lyssa jumps into the ocean, he feels he must follow her.
Auirij can't move with the speed of an eye of the deep, and continues to swim downward toward Mhyssi and the two aquatic aberrations. Voronex tries to be right behind her. His main problem is even with a huge Swim check, he just can't go very fast. His ground speed is 20, which slows his swim speed as well. Two of the players suddenly suggest maybe I'm being unfair. They want me to give Voronex extra movement because he has wings. They envision him using them to propel him through the water like a manta ray. While I consider this (I give all comments one quick consideration before I make a ruling), voronex's player suddenly, and strongly, vetoes the idea. First, he asks if anyone thinks a bat shoved underwater would find itself propelled forward like a manta ray. Second, he points out he had the option to take an underwater power as a dragonmfire adept, and didn't. Flying is flying, and swimming isn't. I agree that sounds reasonable, and the other players (somewhat grugingly) agree.
Tiera is stuck inside the hull with a dozen mid-level undead converging on her, with only a wounded beggar and her spirit wolverine to help her protect the surviving slave cargo. Juiren is drowning, and while Mhyssi is awake she is almost out of air, and far below the waves. Auriji is nearly out of air, and swimming down rather than up. Voronex is fully able, but can't reach the EotD quickly. Quince and Lyssa are swimming toward the fight, but are once more holding their breath. Yelloweyes is cut off and alone, and no one even knows she's there.
End Game Ten, Part Two
Phew. I think this one takes longer to type than it took to run. We had a little dry-erase board next to the battle-mat, and put a side view of the fight on it. So we drew the ship at the top, and a circle in a specific color for each character to indicate their depth. That worked great, but obviously I can't do that for the campaign journal, so it all sounds a bit complex. I hope you could all kept track of who was where, when (at least as well as my notes cover such round-by-round events).
I'll get the final part of Game Ten up when I can.
No, no one cast any water breathing spells. Yes, the fight is completely submerged (though there were air pockets). They were all depending on being able to hold their breaths for an underwater fight.Of course, each standard action you take reduces the number of rounds you can hold your breath (starting at equal to your Cohn) by one, so that bacame an issue, as you'll see.
So, some people asked me my email or livejournal emssage, what the heck is a "Ghuraki" slaver, and why do we care?
well, unless you are playing in Kor kammor, you probably don't. But in case you do...
Cast your minds back to early in the life of the OGL. My main game group was one of those groups that was convinced our home campaign (not Kor Kammor at the time, mind you) would make a brilliant rpg product. So, we started compiling elemetns from all our games to make a set of game books -- Campaign Setting, Campaign-Guide's Handbook, and a MM-like book. And in that MM book, we were going to include our repalcements (niche-wise) for all the things not in the OGL. For example, my Blasphemer was chosen to take the place of the beholder.
For Githyanki and Githzerai, the group decided to use my Ghuraki. The Guraki are as much a condition as a race, a set of pirates ruled by the undead Drowned Queen all of whom have contracted her unique form of Mummy Rot. However, they are not yet undead, although they do have a strong connection to the negative plane of death (also called the deathlands). As their bodies rot, they bandage the corrupted sections of flesh in an effort to slow the progression. (When they lose too much of their life, they become Abhorrent Ones, which are full undead, controlled only by the Drowned Queen and her lichloved Bloody Maidens). They are generally deathmasters, hexblades, true necromancers and death-tinted arcane knights or spellsowrds.
rather than travel the astral plane, the Ghuraki are accursed to spend most of their lives in the para-elemental plane of fog. In that place, they build vast citadels out of sunken ships and captured docks, floating in the endless mist. From time to time, a Bloody maiden gathers enough power to peirce the misty elemental veil, and take a ship out onto the sea. It always carries a mist with it, wherever it goes, and the Ghuraki can only survive within the mist. (Think the Fog movie from a few years ago for how this often plays out in coastal towns).
Because they can never stay outisde the plane of fog for long, the ghuraki must raid for anything they wish to have with them. This means they hit coastal towns, other ships and islands to loot food, art, crafts, or anything else they might want. They also trade in slaves, both for their own purposes, and to other evil groups. They are famous for "Broken" slaves who have had their will ground down until they do whatever they are told, but retain a personality so they aren't boring automotons.
Slave ships are particular feared, because each one can hold as many as 500 slaves. Thus, the Heralds had ample reason to believe a few might have survived even the worst wreck.
Do I take issue? You bet I do.
At 7, you have to have more of 1 gender than the other, unless you do a hermaphrodite or androgene. So, why not 4 female to 3 male?
No one knows the male to female ratio of D&D players. Literally no one. None of our perosnal experiences has any beariong on that. The opposite of anecdote is not data.
Nor do all gamers play their own gender. Since we have no idea how many men play female characters, even if gamers are 80% male, there is every possibility a larger percentage of male-played characters are female. That would still mean more iconics should be female than male. (And for the record, I think 50/50 is exactly the right split to go with).
And to even presume you know what the :realistic" ratio is is silly in the extreme, to the point of insulting. IN the D&D universe, woman have no drawbacks compared to men. They are not weaker, slower, or stupider.
Even if you assume they are really, but the game makes allowances for you to play exceptional females, can only assume that for humans. maybe elven men are dumb as rocks, and their society is ruled by female wizards.
In Pathfinder, there seems to be gender equity. So, the "realistic" (hiss, spit) ratio is 50/50, just like it's the reasonable assumed ratio for farmers, paid companions, thieves, criminals, politicians, pirates, and any other role you care to think of.
To claim otherwise is wrong-headed and, yes, insulting.
And, fo rthe record, I LIKE the dwarf man-candy, and so do most girls and ebars I know.
Are any other women bored to death with prestige classes/magic items specifically designed for female PCs that focus on archery, healing, or dancing? (Or, for that matter, unicorns.) At least if the author of this item had used "he" in the descriptive paragraph I would have spent a minute smiling, instead of just yawning.
Seriously, I'm not in the least tired of them. In fact, I am pleased to see those roles are given any support. If you want to play a woman who swings a sword, lobs fireballs, or disintigrates undead, there's lots of stuff out their already. If you want to be a gypsie dancer, you often end up with a +2 rapier and a claok or charimsa. Yuck.
I love this item. It's colorful, useful, flavorful, and well-written. It also opens a whole world of potential magic items I'll be yoinking for my campaigns.
Also, apaprently based on my avator alone I should have entered the contest.
This thing is totally going into my game, right now, but with changes.
1: whoever uses the anvil must be of high enough level to make an item in order to destroy it or charge the anvil with it. they don't have to have the feats or pother prerequisites, just be high enough level
2: it takes a craft weaponsmith check to successfully imbue (but not destroy and charge). check DC is euqla to cost of items powers / 1,000. Thus a +4 weapon bonus (32,000 gp) takes a DC 32 craft weaponsmith check to imbue. If the check is failed, the magic is lost
3: If you change the size or category od weapon, you lose 1/2 the gp value of the charged enchantments (randomly losing powers and bonuses until you hit that level). thus a light weapon's powers taken into a two-handed weapon, or a large weapons powers being taken into a medium weapon, loses one-half of the value.
4: Thinking weapons get a Dc 10 will save to resist being destoryed.
This is because I think both erik and Wulf are right. This is cool and flavroful, but will wreck my game without these changes.