GM report from session 1:
I relied heavily on the Flashcards google doc (thanks guys) and I also printed out face cards of my own to use as player handouts. In the future I’ll probably attach names to the face cards as well as giving players a place to write notes. They just used the backs of my cards to note down influence skills and weaknesses as they discovered them.
I added 6 Senators, and I actually reduced the number of rounds towards the end because they ran out of stuff to do. I ran it so if they beat a DC by 5 or 10, they would have additional successes (and this happened a lot). They finished every NPC, but they didn’t finish one room influence. They actually didn’t start doing room influence until after they had finished all the NPCs, mostly because I pointed it out. I’m not sure I did a good job of explaining how room influences could help them, I think they just thought it would give static bonuses, and not boons.
They actually only discovered weaknesses on about 1/3 of the NPCs. There was also several NPCs that they didn’t bother doing any discovery checks on, they just assumed diplomacy would work, and the bard’s check would net them several influence points at once.
I ended the session with the teleportation sequence and just a smidge of exploring the puzzle rooms. In order to get around resting, I went ahead and had them do a “video game level up” where the level up also resets everything as if they had rested. This gets around the possibly insane requirement that they complete the adventure without resting.
EDIT: I’m doing milestones instead of exp, so they leveled when they hit the basement. I am also planning on doing another “video game level up” for when they hit level 3.
The party looks out over the Dead Fields in all of its desolation. It exists as a hardened plain of bare rock, thin soil, and brittle bones. While not as arid as the Ashen Waste, it is still susceptible to the occasional bone storm when the winds are just right. The entire brown expanse is dotted with gleaming white patches where bones and bone fragments protrude from the hard earth, and every step in this region produces a crunch as these remains are reduced to powder and white flakes underfoot. Amidst the many dead are the skeletal remains of many siege weapons. Rolling towers, covered rams, armored battle wagons, and crude breastworks dot the plains and hills, all in extremely poor repair.
From this distance (100ft) all of the characters are able to ascertain that the corpse is a dark color and is size huge. Momir’s sharp elven eyes catches something that the others do not: a faint hint of movement from within the corpse’s belly.
DC 15: Based on the smell alone, the corpse seems reasonably fresh, probably less than two weeks old.
DC 20: Despite the distance, the state of decay seems to indicate that it’s probably right around a week old.
DC 25: Winds have scoured most of the evidence away, but a dragon of this bulk still leaves quite an impression in the land. It looks like there is a trail that the dragon left on the ground behind it, but the party would need to get closer to ascertain more.
DC 13: This appears to be a black dragon, judging by the curved horns and the color. They usually live in swamps and are associated with water.
DC 18: Black Dragons breathe horrifying streams of acid and command lesser reptiles.
DC 24: Taking into account its ponderous bulk and the size of its horns, the dragon was likely an old or very old dragon. Alive, it would have been a very difficult challenge for the party to defeat. At this age it would have powers over plants and water.
Over Paizocon, part of this adventure was played out in person.
The ooze disgorges a gang of skeletons in an effort to overwhelm the party, but the move is fruitless. The blob is rapidly dispatched by the party. They continue squeezing down the narrow tunnel until they reach the final chamber.
Inside, Tark and his warriors are waiting, their barbarian finery clinging to their bones. His minions turn their gazes upon the party, instantly turning both V and Momir insane. Worse yet, Tark darts in and out of combat with frightening speed, his unearthly touch draining the vitality of the living. Sakura calls upon her sorcerous might, great fireworks exploding across the undead warriors. Momir regains a moment of clarity, enough to shoot and injure Tark. V turns to a primal rage, nearly turning on her companions until threatened by the barbarian warlord. In a race against time, the band of Pathfinders manage to bring down the undead horrors. Then, they have to face a greater threat... their friends. Fortune smiles upon them, and with a few moments of lucidity, the half-orc and the elf allow themselves to be subdued and bonded. Sakura and Argos search the cavern and recover Tark’s equipment. Then, they pull out one of the scrolls supplied by the Venture-Captain and teleport to the Wardstones border, walk across the line of menhirs, and teleport to the Nerosyan Lodge.
The group takes a few days to recover after a house visit from a Iomedean cleric. They catalogue their artifacts, sell their miscellaneous equipment, and restock on supplies. Afterwards, they return home to their inn in the same way, by teleporting to the border and then walking across.
There, they find their first guest. A charismatic halfling, Phedre, armed with shadow and flash stands up to the group’s scrutiny (despite V’s grumbling protests) and she joins them in pursuit of adventure. The party traverses to one last site in the Ashen Wastes...the massive arachnid that menaced them when they first started their explorations. They engage it much the same way they did the first time...dropping fire into its lair. The hideous beast of massive proportions springs out, thwarting invisible Phedre’s defenses and pinning her with its webs. Sakura and Momir weave their attacks from afar as V stands as a wall against its poisoned fangs. After the furious battle, they descend into its lair to find a vast collection of eggs, numbering in the thousands. They leave none alive, fire crackling and bursting the fragile skins in a rain of ichor.
After the fight, Phedre slips away, a creature of her own whims. The Pathfinders cross the road into the Dead Fields. They head towards a dark shape in the distance, which reveals itself as they get close.
A single leathery wing rises high into the air like a malignant sail. Ahead is the ponderous bulk of a massive dragon, lying on its side, its scales a dull, charcoal gray. It lies on the ground completely still. One wing extends skyward, locked into its current position. Its other wing is curled beneath its bulk at an awkward angle. Its skull- like head stares vacantly ahead into eternity. The carrion stench floating on the breeze is horrifying.
The half-orc squeezes sideways into the tunnel, leading with her shield arm. She is closely followed by Momir and then Sakura. The going is painfully slow until V rounds the bend in the tunnel, coming face to face with a solid wall of cold, dark material with a full skeleton embedded in it.
DC 15 This appears to be some kind of ooze.
DC 21 This is an undead ooze, an unusual creature that dwells in forgotten tombs and graveyards. It moves slowly, but tends to simply mow down prey and engulf them with its frigid touch.
DC 26 The undead ooze gains its name from its ability to animate the skeletons within it and expel them at foes. Luckily, unlike many oozes, it does not have any special defenses.
V: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Sakura: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Momir: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
Mishka: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Argos: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (6) + 0 = 6
Enemy: 1d20 - 5 ⇒ (5) - 5 = 0
The party finds nothing of interest in this chamber. There is only one exit out of this chamber...a tiny, narrow 2-1/2ft passage. The narrow passage has a greater concentration of burials than elsewhere, and the preponderance of bones protruding from the walls makes it seem even more claustrophobic.
Argos steps up beside the faltering crusader, striking with holy might. The shadow bear recoils from the blast of holy energy, but surges back with a spectral roar. Sakura flicks her fan and five points of light shoot out, leaving a trail like waterfall mist. The light strikes the creature and blasts through its darkness, tearing the creature apart.
1d20 + 11 ⇒ (8) + 11 = 19
The shadow bear attacks with all of its fury. Its incorporeal claws latch into V, vitality leeching out of her body. She staggers under its assault, falling to one knee before rising shakily again.
Attack 1: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Damage 1: 1d6 ⇒ 6
Attack 2: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
Damage 2: 1d6 ⇒ 1
Attack 3: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
Damage 3: 1d6 ⇒ 6
Initiative Round 1:
Attack: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32
Confirmation: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
Damage: 1d6 ⇒ 2
The group continues down the tunnel. A large chamber has been dug out of the mound here. It appears to have been enlarged at some point, and large gashes like claw marks still mar the walls. Several complete skeletons in reclining positions are visible in the dirt that comprises the walls of the chamber. A very narrow passage leads out through the east wall.
DC 21: You are startled to see that your light source is somehow projecting the shadow of a massive bear on the far side of the chamber, poised as if to strike, yet you see no source for this strange phenomenon. You may act in the surprise round.
DC 13: This is some kind of Shadow, an incorporeal undead creature that drains strength on touch.
DC 18: Any creature killed by the Shadow’s strength damage will rise as a shadow.
DC 25: This is actually a Shadow Dire Bear, a specific type of Shadow that is tremendously deadly. These rare creatures are a strange incarnation of sentient darkness and feral rage. While incorporeal most of the time like other shadows, it can also manifest itself as partially corporeal to maul its prey.
1d20 + 18 ⇒ (3) + 18 = 21
V: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Sakura: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Momir: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Mishka: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12
Argos: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
Enemy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
<MAP: Barrow 3 R0>
The southern fissure opens into a small hollow with a small crevice in the floor. Wedged in this crevice is the skeletal corpse, partially devoured. It still bears some valuables consisting of a +1 guisarme, a pair of boots made of a dark slick unknown leather that identifies as a pair of boot of elvenkind, and a small belt pouch with a greenish stone amulet depicting a crude horned figure (worth 35gp).
Momir leaps to defend his faithful companion, skillfully sidestepping and ducking low to shoot through Mishka's legs. He strikes the soft underbelly of the worm, and it flails helplessly. It releases its grasp on Mishka and attempts to retreat into its den, but Momir's assault is both fast and merciless. On the other side of the tunnel, V plunges her sword into the worm, and then smashes its head with her shield. Both worms cease their attacks, and twitch their final death throes.
9: Mishka (readied)
0: Barrow Worms
Worm 1 Attack: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27
Worm 1 Damage: 2d8 + 9 ⇒ (1, 4) + 9 = 14
Worm 1 Grab: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (19) + 19 = 38
Worm 1 Constrict: 4d8 + 18 ⇒ (8, 6, 4, 8) + 18 = 44
Worm 2 Attack: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
Worm 2 Damage: 2d8 + 9 ⇒ (5, 1) + 9 = 15
Worm 2 Grab: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (10) + 19 = 29
Round 1 Initiative Order:
23: Momir (readied)
19: V (readied)
0: Barrow Worms
A few of the party members hastily ready attacks as they listen to the sounds of an enormous shifting in the walls. As fast as lightning, a massive worm covered in bristles darts out of its den. Two scythelike mandibles snatch madly at V , but find no purchase, before retreating back. Momir's arrow strikes it deep right behind the jaws, and V lands a blow as it moves back. But as she is busy attacking the first worm, a second one strikes from the opposite wall, its vicious jaws biting deep into the Crusader. It attempts to grab her, but she manages to wrench free from its grasp.
<Combat Map: Barrow 2 R1>
DC 23: This is a Barrow Worm, a frightful vermin that lives in dark underground tunnels. It is adept at squeezing itself into tiny spaces, and then shooting out and dragging prey back into their burrows.
DC 28: Barrow Worms are extremely averse to light. They suffer continuous damage under the rays of the sun or similar spell effect, and are known to immediately retreat. They can even sometimes be fooled with a lowly flare spell.
Worm 1 Attack: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (9) + 15 = 24
Worm 1 Damage: 2d8 + 9 ⇒ (6, 7) + 9 = 22
Worm 1 Grab: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (8) + 19 = 27
Worm 2 Attack: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (14) + 15 = 29
Worm 2 Damage: 2d8 + 9 ⇒ (6, 6) + 9 = 21
Worm 2 Grab: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (3) + 19 = 22
The revealed tunnel is crude, but seems stable. Visible in the dirt and rock walls are embedded skeletal remains, poking out here and there. The party advances cautiously past the opening.
DC 15: There appear to be fissures in the walls, opening formed along natural fault lines.
DC 25: Your keen senses tell you that there are some manner of crawling creatures hidden in the fissures up ahead. They are on either side of the tunnel, and sound like they are quite enormous.. You may act in the surprise round.
V: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Sakura: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Momir: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Mishka: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Argos: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (15) + 0 = 15
Enemy: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (13) + 0 = 13
Surprise Round Initiative:
As Sakura speaks, the small statue kami makes a musical noise, like the sound of the wind whistling through a natural hole in a stone. It has pressed itself agains the weak wall, as if listening to it. Then it picks up a stray stick from the ground, and pantomimes digging.
"Ancient tunnel dark,
Looking around the mound, Argos states, "This is the cairn that they call Tark's Mound. A great barbarian warlord is buried here." Sakura thinks for a moment and recalls a legend from the Crusades about such a name.
The Legend of Tark:
Men of all kinds flocked to the banner of the First Mendevian Crusade. One of these was the infamous Kellid warlord Tark who led his barbarian horde to assist in the attack on Tsar. This was not done out of any great loyalty or allegiance to the good deities or even the civilized realms. Rather this merely illustrated that an entity as vile as Orcus attracts enemies of all kinds. Few within the Iomedean Order were comfortable with the presence of the barbaric and uncouth warriors of Tark, nor even the vicious warlord himself. However, before long all were thankful for the presence of these peerless warriors and their savagery in battle.
Mere weeks after the crusaders had encamped on the plain outside Tsar, when only the beginning skirmishes of the epic battle to come were being fought; it was Tark and his band that turned the fate of battle in favor of the cause of Good. Orcus had long anticipated just such an attack, though he had perhaps underestimated the attackers’ strength and resolve. To prepare for such an event he had allied his disciples with many foul races of the Under Realms. These loathsome aberrations and creatures of all kinds had delved a tunnel beneath the plain so that it could arise far from the walls in the very midst of any besiegers’ should the need arise. When the Army of Light was dug in, these foul allies from the lightless deeps completed their tunnel, opening it in the unsuspecting camp in the darkest watches of a moonless night and pouring out in a braying, gibbering horde of terror. The tunnel opened in the camp of Tark. The Under Realm horrors never had a chance.
The warriors of Tark, hardened berserkers all, were accustomed to sleeping in their light armor with weapons at hand. Their senses, sharpened through a lifetime of constant battle and feuding, detected the work of the tunnelers just before it opened among them. The barbarians were horribly outnumbered and the bloody battle raged for an hour before the nearby encampments of troops could rally and organize to join in the battle. By the time they had arrived Tark and all of his warriors were dead, lying on heaps of bodies that were once their attackers, but the backbone of the surprise attack had been broken. In the face of fresh troops the few surviving creatures fled screaming back into the tunnels. Their defeat was so sound that their alliance with the disciples of Orcus was forever broken, divesting the defenders of Tsar of a full quarter of their forces. Realizing the enormity of what had occurred and the disaster that had been so narrowly averted, the generals and war captains of the crusade reverently recovered all of the barbarians’ bodies, including that of Tark himself surrounded by the corpses of an army of aberrations. Gathering them together they raised a barrow mound there over the spot where they fell and esteemed it as sanctified ground in honor of the valiant heroes interred within.
V calls out a warning just as the lizard creature dashes into sight. Reflexively, Momir shoots into the creature, and the wails of his ancestors seem to completely befuddle the creature. V smashes it with a quick blow from her shield, and the creature falls limp. The battle is over in the blink of an eye.
In the aftermath of the brief battle, the party has a look around the burrow. The creature does not seem to have accumulated any treasures.
The back wall of the burrow seems weak and crumbling compared to the rest of the hollowed out walls.
Momir Gaze Chance: 1d100 ⇒ 53
Basilisk Fort: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
The party approaches the mound and the crows caw menacingly at the intrusion, but no not take any other actions. A newly dug tunnel, roughly 10ft wide but only 5ft tall, extends back into the mound before rounding corner and sloping into a low burrow. V, in the lead, steps cautiously into the burrow.
DC 20 (add distance): There is a creature hiding in the burrow! You may act in the surprise round.
V: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
Sakura: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Momir: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (12) + 12 = 24
Mishka: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Argos: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (17) + 0 = 17
Enemy: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (2) - 1 = 1
A squat reptilian eight-legged monster scrambles out from the crevice in which it was hiding, and hisses furiously at the party. It dashes into a position where it can see all of the intruders.
<Combat: Barrow 1 R0>
DC 15: This is a Basilisk, a vicious creature that can petrify with a gaze attack.
DC 20: Unlike the more threatening medusa, the basilisk's petrification has one remedy. If a creature turned to stone is coated in the blood of a freshly slain basilisk, she becomes instantly restored to flesh.
A barren dirt mound rises from the ashen plain here. It too bears a layer of the powdery dust, but from patches visible here and there it is evident that it is constructed of the actual brown soil that lies beneath the dust layer of this area. Weathering and erosion have taken their toll on what was once probably a very regular, man- made construction. Now it is pitted and scarred with erosion draws but still rises to an impressive 40-foot height. Atop this prominence you can see a few large crows staring down at you with a sense of malevolent intelligence. In front of the party, there is a tunnel entrance that extends back into the mound.
Momir creates a sphere of shimmering force that slowly settles into an ashen gray matching the sand around them. Working with V, they brush the sand around the area and conceal the dome from prying eyes. The party rests for the rest of the day and a night. Sakura completing her ritual and Momir settling to his crafting. Momir, you may complete 2 hours of crafting, if desired.
During the dark of the night, the group hears an unearthly piercing keen outside of their camp. The party can see clearly outside of their hemisphere a pair of translucent ghostly forms, unable to penetrate the spell or see inside of it, but clearly aware of the life within. They press hungrily against the hemisphere, mouths stretching to grotesque proportions as if attempting to suck the warmth from those within.
DC 10: These are incorporeal undead.
DC 14: These are Screamers, the remnants of soldiers who have fallen to the horrors of mass conflict and warfare. Against the party, they are barely even a challenge, and it would take many more of them to be a true threat. However, their abilities should not be underestimated, as they drain charisma at a touch and possess a horrific scream that strikes fear into the heart.
DC 19: They are most famous for possessing the body of the living and then using their own limbs to commit suicide. Sadly, this is the only way to permanently destroy these malign spirits: kill a host while possessed. Otherwise, these creatures will reform in 24 hours.
The combat is furious but brief against the pitiful creatures. Momir's arrows strike true, freely passing out of the tiny hut and pulling away wisps of the creatures to their agonized screams. The rest of the party easily shakes off their screams, which pale in comparison to the burst of holy energy that Argos channels. V easily finishes them off with a few swipes of her holy sword, and the creatures dissipate with a last mournful howl. Though easy, the encounter sets the party on edge, reminding them of the dangers in the Desolation.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully. In the morning, the two crusaders complete their devotions side by side, sparring ritually before their prayers. Though their exercises differed by church and tradition, the two found much in common. The party prepares their daily spells, and set off in the direction of the last interest point on their map: The Burial Mound.
1d100 ⇒ 17
1d3 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Momir studies the figure carefully, analyzing it with his magic. It seems not quite a ghost...it would be what scholars would classify as a "haunt". An echo of undeath lingering long after some horrific event or dark energies. This one in particular emits a fear gaze, causing the weak-willed to flee in fear. Presumably, the reason that the dust digger made its home here is that the phantom's aura would make for easy pickings. Momir notes that the figure itself appears to be a young man, gazing listlessly into the distance. It does not bear any marks of violence...leaving only the imagination as to what could have brought this terrible fate on him.
Haunts can be temporarily neutralized by positive energy, causing them to disappear or become inactive for some time. However, like ghosts, destroying them completely requires some sort of specific action to put the spirit(s) to rest, like burning down a haunted house.
Momir signals the party and all of them leap to action like a well oiled machine. At the end of the first volley, the beast is merely injured and infuriated. It flails momentarily at Sakura's illusion, but quickly loses interest. It raises its bulk out of the sand, almost as if looking around for prey. This does the creature little good, however, as the second volley of arrows, bolts, and spells strike it. It doesn't even have the opportunity to consider fleeing, and its heaving bulk shudders in the dust, tentacles still twitching even as the main body controls them no more.
As the dust settles, the party moves in, still cautious. As they approach the ghostly figure, it seems to become more menacing with every step. While still unmoving, its visage evokes dread in all who behold it. Mishka refuses to go near it.
Averting eyes seems to alleviate the feeling, and Momir seems to be affected the least of the group. Turning the creature over reveals a cache of buried gear.
A battered suit of half-plate, an amulet of mighty fists +1, and an unlocked iron chest holding 4pp, 135 gp, 342 sp, two rubies worth 900gp and a wand of detect secret doors (21 charges), a masterwork cold iron battleaxe, potion of eagle's splendor, and an arcane scroll of protection from evil.
Will Save 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Momir flies high up into the air as his companions look on approvingly. He stares intently at the ground beneath him, feeling the faint currents in the wind. Drawing five arrows, he pulls and releases in a rhythm, and they land in the sand below.
Sand billows up with frightening speed from the ground directly beneath the ghostly apparition. Tentacles snap and thrash, seeking out the prey that triggered its ambush. Plumes of dust obscure its form...but it looks much like a grotesquely enormous upside-down starfish, five arms drawing prey into its central maw. Despite Momir's initial guess, this creature is actually huge in size.
<Picture: Dust Digger>
DC 19: This is a Dust Digger, an aberration that lives in the soil and catches prey via ambush. They see in the dark and can sense prey by vibrations in the earth.
DC 24: Normally these creatures are a small threat to the current party, but this one is quite larger than normal. They have the ability to move through the earth with the greatest of ease, as well as cause a collapse directly above them and drop prey right into their mouths.
DC 29: Dust Diggers can swallow their prey whole, at which point it is subjected to stomach acid and grinding.
It's not quite initiative...as the party is all rather far away and could just leave if we wanted to. But it's definitely angry and looking for prey at the moment.
The figure ahead is translucent, much like a ghost. There's a variety of incorporeal undead that it could be, but it's difficult to tell without the figure behaving in some way. At the very least, its not a spectre or any of the undead that fear sunlight. Considering its apparent lack of response to stimuli, however, it's also possible that it is a haunt, an illusion, or even simply an echo that has no malign properties whatsoever.
Momir's feet lift off the ground and he steadily gains altitude. Leaving his companions standing a safe distance away, he moves closer to the figure. The figure continues to ignore Momir's presence, even as he gets closer.
Momir Perception or Survival:
DC 20 From your vantage point in the skies, you notice something that would be difficult, if not impossible to see from the ground. There is a distinct pattern in the sand right underneath the ghostly figure. It looks somewhat like the pattern that a sand lizard or a burrowing scorpion would make while lying in wait for its prey to come within striking distance. You would guess that the creature beneath is size large, but it is difficult to tell specifically what it is.
The group spends about 30 minutes more at the tomb, interring the dead and consecrating the grounds. Momir admires the double locks on the inside of the hidden entrance before resetting them. Once the group leaves, the mausoleum will sealed once more.
Argos steps out, and takes a long look behind him. Then, he nods to his new companions, and Momir closes the door, confirming the final clicks with his sharp hearing.
With a few hours remaining on Momir's phantom mounts, V volunteers to travel by foot, as she is able to hustle and keep up with the mounts' normal speed. In about an hour of riding, the group sees what must be the ghost that they have heard about. Through the haze of dust ahead they spy a lone figure standing on the plain. It appears to be a warrior in chainmail with no visible weapon. He does not appear to take notice of you and makes no moves.
If the Guecubus were seeking an easier target, they were sorely mistaken. Sakura casts her spell, knowing that her companions are ready and waiting. A threat finally within reach, Mishka savages the undead monster beside her. Mineral encrusted bones scatter around the room, some bouncing off the walls with the force of the wolf's attack.
Momir casually steps away from the undead creature beside him. Faster than the eye can see, the blunted arrows find their mark. The unloving soldier practically explodes into shards, and what little fragments remain collapse to the ground.
Argos sighs heavily. "Brothers, you deserved a better fate than this. May you rest in peace from henceforth, and not rise again." He looks up at the Pathfinders, a stony expression upon his face. "Let us put these remains back into their intended sarcophagi, and then we can be gone from this place. It seems that I am now a commander without men, a man displaced from his time."
14 V (readied)
Sakura blasts the room with fire, the afterimage of lilies floating in the air. The first creature, unsettled by Argos’s prayer, takes the full brunt of the blast, but the second manages to dodge behind a sarcophagus in the nick of time. Momir lets loose a rain of arrows, adeptly shooting over V’s shoulder. His first three strike true, and chunks of earth fall from the creature. Argos grips his holy symbol and draws upon his sacred powers, erecting a ward against evil around his fellow crusader. As he does so, the earth within the ward ends its churning...stilled by the aura. The 10ft around V is no longer affected by their difficult terrain aura.
The two undead soldiers snarl in anger, their way blocked by the half orc in front of them. It seems that they retained some twisted sense of their tactical knowledge, driving them to easier prey. They both drop to all fours and dive into the earth. While the ward prevented their churning earth, it seems it does not prevent them from entering. The first emerges next to Sakura, only to be struck by V’s readied attack. Earth and bone fly against the back wall, completely disrupting its attack. The second emerges next to the that so damaged it, but also completely misses its attack.
Map: Tomb 3 Undead R2
G1 Reflex: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
G2 Reflex: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
G1 Attacks: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (1) + 13 = 14, 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
G2 Attacks: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (1) + 14 = 15, 1d8 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
G1: -80, Prayer
Round 1 Initiative Order:
14 V (readied)
V steps front and center, her sword leveled in the ready stance of a warrior. She stares into the darkness, aware of the creatures. Argos shifts to make room, and calls upon the Empyreal Lord of Righteous Fury to bless the group. Sakura calls upon her magic, while Momir continues to stare intently in the room.
You sense a dozens of aura, because V is standing in your concentration zone. However, being incredibly intelligent, you're familiar with the auras that V normally has on her, plus you know that Argos just cast prayer. Disregarding those, there is one additional aura in the area, and it is moderate.
Out of the darkness, something stirs. As skeletal carcass pulls itself out from behind the sarcophagus, its body formed from the stones and tiles as much as it is bones and rotting flesh. Earth seems to ripple around it, almost like rings in a pond as it moves up to the half-orc, eager to rend her flesh. It calls out, the sound of earth and decay, "At last...the ward is broken!". It runs up to V, and bashes against her shield, teeth scrambling for purchase. V strikes quickly at its unprotected side, making contact. Enraged, the creature backs away from her. The second one moves in and attempts the same, but also fails to hit her.
DC 10 This is some sort of corporeal undead.
DC 23 These are rare, unusual undead called Guecubu, undead formed partially from the earth in which they have been entombed. They have an unusual affinity for the earth, and can control the earth around them to the detriment of their enemies.
DC 28 These undead are immune to electricity, resistant to cold, and are best damaged by bludgeoning weapons.
DC 33 Arising from cursed earth, these undead can spread a curse not unlike a witch's evil eye by touch. However, holy spells and wards against evil can prevent some of their abilities from functioning.
Map: Tomb 3 Undead R1
Note: Anything within 30ft of these creatures is difficult terrain. Anything inside of the room is double difficult terrain.
V's Readied Attack: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (7) + 21 = 28, 1d8 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18, 2d6 ⇒ (1, 2) = 3
Guecubu 1: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (6) + 14 = 20, 1d8 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Guecubu 2: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (15) + 14 = 29, 1d8 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Surprise Round Initative Order:
V, sensing danger, tightens her grip on her weapon and casts shield of faith, ready for any threat that may appear. Momir begins to ascertain the type of magic that could be affecting the area...noting that the ground is incredibly rough and difficult to move through. Only eerie silence permeates the room, and nothing seems to leap from the darkness. Yet.
You detect the presence of magic
Argos takes the briefest of moments to glance back at Sakura, and releases the catch. "It will take them but a moment to wake from...what? To arms!
As Argos opens the door, a foul stench hits him like a physical blow when the stone door slides open. Beyond is a long, sectioned chamber running east and west. Spaced along the walls are dozens of stone biers. The floor of the room is a clutter of discarded armor and weapons mingled with scattered and well-gnawed bones. Many appear to have been split open to get at the marrow within. The ground all throughout the chamber appears to have been dug up, churned as though creatures erupted from within.
The entire terrain is double difficult terrain (4x cost to move through).
V: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Sakura: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18
Momir: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Mishka: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Argos: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (18) + 0 = 18
Enemy: 1d20 ⇒ 6
DC 32 There appears to be a creature in here, hiding in the darkness in the southwest corner
DC 36 There appears to be a second creature in the eastern side of the room
Momir Only Perception Check:
DC 29: The ground here is covered in small stoney spikes. They look very painful and trap-like
Argos considers the party’s words. ”Master Elf, I know not the exact mechanism by which Zelkor placed me here...he was an archmagi with powers far beyond my understanding. He placed me in stasis, guarded by both summoned creatures and stout walls. He created a device... a sort of hourglass by which to count the years. It was supposed to have triggered my awakening. Perhaps it was damaged by the ages? Your presence does indeed seem to be the catalyst. At the very least, if there has been another intruder then I do not know of it happening.”
He looks around at the three Pathfinders, and seems to contemplate his situation. ”While I would not normally join a band seeking relics...it seems as though you are no common adventurers. If you also seek to destroy evil, and to eventually go into the heart of the vile city, then our goals are one and the same. It would be my honor to accompany you for now, even if our fates diverge in the future. But come, enough talk. Let us awaken my men.”
Argos, now resplendent in his gear, leads the group out the door. He points at the shards of glass and metal in the main room, ”It looks like the device was indeed damaged. A pity.” He surveys the room and the signs of recent battle with a practiced eye, and notes the bound aranea in the hallway. He heads straight for the hidden door on the southern wall and reaches to release the hidden catch.
"A hundred years...I pray that the seasons have not taken all of those I loved away from me. But I knew the risks. It was my duty to stay here, my friends. The Archmage Zelkor, the leader of the forces of the Crusade, came up with a daring plan. The battle with the forces of Orcus had gone on long, but we had been making progress. The leader were worried, as evil is tenacious, and festers in the darkness even when we believe it defeated. His plan was to entomb a captain and his platoon in stasis, to awaken in fifty years. Then, if evil had arisen anew, the devastating horrors from the war would be fresh in our minds, and we would not waver or forget our duty. With all due respect, Crusader Venator...we had no idea if our legacy would be carried on."
While he speaks, Argos begins to don his gear. All of it is exquisitely decorated, but clearly meant for battle. It includes a set of silvery chainmail with motifs of angel's wings across the shoulders, a shield polished to a mirror shine, helm adorned with red garnets, a quiver of javelins, and a bag of potions. Lastly he pulls out a scabbarded longsword, and draws the blade. It is obvious that this is his most prized possession, etched along its length with scenes of heaven's hosts in victory. Satisfied that all of his gear is in order, he continues.
"You see then, that I must continue my task, as is my sworn duty. If you are here to fight demons, then perhaps I should join you. If you have no need of me, I will travel to join the 'Fourth Crusade'. At the very least, we should go and awaken my men."
Momir, you note the presence of lingering transmutation magic. For being asleep for a century, Argos seems to be in good spirits and in good health, and does not seem like a construct.
A moment passes as the man breathes again and draws a deep breath. His eyes flutter open, and he sweeps aside the shroud over him. Dressed in only a tunic, he slowly rises and faces the party, piercing liquid golden eyes taking in the situation. With the grace of a practiced warrior he spreads his hands in a nonviolent fashion and bows before the party, paying special attention to the one who spoke to him. ”Greetings, my lady. I never imagined such a vision of heaven as yourself to greet me when I awoke from my sleep. I would endure another fifty years of dreams if only to experience this very moment again.” He reaches for Sakura’s hand, and if she allows it, he gently kisses it. ”I hope that you are the bearer of good news. Tell me, were we successful? Has the taint of demonic influence been eradicated from this land?” He looks around at the three pathfinders, and then checks himself, “I apologize for my haste. Argos, Knight-Captain of the Crusade, Servant of Ragathiel. Might I ask your names that I may address you properly?”
Knowledge Planes DC 15: He is an aasimar.
Momir examines the eastern hidden door with the utmost care, admiring the almost seamless stonework. Dust lies deep in the grooves, indicating the door has not been disturbed in a long time. Noting no suspicious grooves, acid burns, pin holes, or anything else, he gives a nod to the rest of the party just as Mishra chirps her approval. Stowing her sword, V steps up to the door and puts a shoulder to it. With a shudder, the massive stone block pushes in, catching on well-engineered grooves and sliding easily aside.
The secret door opens onto a musty chamber with stale air but strangely free of dust. A marble slab dominates the center of the room upon which lies a supine form draped in a gauzy, white shroud. The man’s face is visible and is achingly beautiful with flawless alabaster skin, flowing blond hair, and an inner radiance of peace in death. Against the wall behind this magnificent, perfectly preserved corpse is an armor stand and weapons rack. Adorning these is a beautifully crafted suit of golden chainmail, silvery helm and mithral shield along with an assortment of weapons of the finest quality.
The silence is disturbed by a sudden intake of breath. The figure on the slab stirs.
After a few minutes, the main chamber clears of the greenish gases. Within, the main golden sarcophagus dominates the room along with shattered ceiling and pieces of broken glass strewn about. Otherwise, there are two standing sarcophagi on the east and west sides of the chamber.
When party searches the chamber they discover a large gunnysack in the corner with a number of treasures inside. The otherwise quiet aranea hisses in displeasure as they sort and identify his things. Additionally, the keen-eyes party discovers some interesting features in the chamber hidden doors behind each sarcophagus, as well as a hidden door in the south wall. They almost miss it, but something catches Momir's eye. Benefitting from long practice from his trapmaking skills, he spots a hidden catch that appears to unlock the southern door.
Aranea: 3 beads of force, wand of dispel magic (CL: 6, 20 charges), ring of protection +1, ring of counterspells (empty), brooch of shielding (87 hp), headband of alluring charisma +2
Sack: 435 gp, 2,341 cp, a platinum scepter (1,050 gp), a +2 handaxe, and 3 blocks of incense of meditation.
A few seconds tick by with only the sound of labored movement and coughing emerging from the cloud filled room. Slowly, the aranea emerges, glaring balefully at the party. He is in quite pitiful shape, scorch marks mar his clothing and his chest heaves from the effort to breathe. Up close, the highly perceptive party can see the small faceted eyes hidden in his hairline and the fangs in his open mouth. ”I sssee that you are strong. I bow before you, ssspare me, and I leave this lair for you.”
22 Sakura (readied)
24 Momir (readied)
The party hears the whispered hiss of the spellcaster in the other room, and both Sakura and Momir unleash their powerful spells. The explosions rock the dome, ancient dust falling from every surface into the green clouds. Instead of spellcasting however, the group perceives instead the sound of coughing and hacking coming from the other room. No fool, the aranea calls out raggedly to the party. “Ssstop...haaa...*cough*...stop casssting! Kolscillisk sssurender!”
Fort versus cloud 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Ref versus fireball 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (15) + 13 = 28
Lightning Bolt (50%, high good)1d100 ⇒ 7
Sakura casts her spell, and unlike last time, the roar of exploding fire fills the top half of the room, and she hears a satisfying hiss of pain from above. Momir throws his spell components into the air, and the room becomes even more dense with the nauseating gas. On the outside, V scales 15 feet up the side of the wall. Other than the hiss of pain from Sakura’s spell, there is other sound from the aranea. Mishka moves into position.
1d20 + 20 ⇒ (3) + 20 = 23
26 V (delayed)
Sakura casts her spell and the glowing bead leaves her hand...but mysteriously no explosion comes from above. To those well versed in the arcane arts, it was probably counterspelled. Momir backs out of the cloud, his bow still drawn. V dashes out of the pea soup, tendrils of the gas still clinging to her. She rounds the corner, squeezes past the wolf, and out of the building...right up to the point where the buttress meets the building. From above, there is only silence, and nothing hints at the activity of the aranea.
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (17) + 6 = 23
A green beam strikes the invisible glittery foe, spreading across it briefly. Sakura produces another feather but the aranea still seems unamused, perhaps doubly so considering his predicament. He casts again, seeming to grow desperate. Momir’s spell strikes him but he manages to twist out of the worst of it. As he finishes spellcasting, a dense green cloud permeates the entire bottom floor up to a height of 20 feet.
Spellcraft DC 18:
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (13) + 14 = 27
Will save: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33
Ref save vs lightning: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29
Concentration: 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (9) + 20 = 29
Will save vs glitterdust: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
22 Sakura (delayed)
24 Momir (delayed)
V casts her spell and indicates the enemy’s position. Sakura points her fan in that direction, and golden lilies stream forth, blossoming across the area. Their petals open, and sparkling pollen coats the area, outlining the aranea and covers its eyes. He curses in frustration and begins casting again, but Momir shoots, catching him under the arm. It looks for just a fraction of a second that he is going to complete his spell, but then the arrow Momir fired screams in the unearthly voices of those long dead, disrupting his spell for good. Furious, the aranea reaches into his bag and pulls out a wand.
Spellcraft DC 22:
<<New Combat Map>>
Sakura attempts her spell, but the aranea again resists. As he starts casting again, V shoots, aided by Sakura’s call of encouragement. However, the bolt bounces off an invisible force field around him, and as he finishes casting, he disappears. Back in the hallway, Momir dispels MIshka.
Will save: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (4) + 14 = 18
Initiative Round 1:
26 V (readied)
24 Momir (readied)
Sakura flutters her fan delicately at the dark shape in the ceiling. He hisses in displeasure as her command washes over him, and Sakura knows that the spell had no effect. ”Intrudersss, chk chk! Liars, liarsss!” He then begins to cast a spell at the party members, his facial expression leaving no doubt as to his hostile intent.
Spellcraft DC 18:
Momir and V both shoot the aranea as he begins casting, breaking his concentration. He howls in pain and anger. He moves along the domed ceiling until he is above the doorway, breaking line of sight to the party members. Mishka, confused, attacks Momir.
Will save: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (9) + 14 = 23
V’s confirmation: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (18) + 18 = 36, 1d10 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Momir’s Atk: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (18) + 18 = 36, 1d8 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Concentration: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Concentration: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20