[Sunday, 14 Sarenith 4708 A.R.]
While searching for clues as to Rolth Lamm’s whereabouts, Goldcape and Rocky are attacked over the skies of South Shore by flocks of undead ravens! Goldcape shouts for help to her allies on the ground far below, and sends an electrified arrow from her new magical bow into the mass. She tries to escape the nauseating creatures by having Rocky do a sharp turn, but the bird can’t quite manage it. Suddenly, hundreds of the mystically-animated rotting birds are all over them, pecking at every unprotected area of their flesh! Anorak tries to assist by sending magical spheres of force at the storm of carrion, but there’s just too many of them. And as The Reckoner struggles to get a wand to activate, a new danger emerges: Gray Maidens! A patrol has seen the battle in the sky and matched it to a sketch of Goldcape. Now the vanara faces the additional danger of arrows bracketing her position!
In a wild mid-air flurry, Rocky manages to destroy enough of the undead ravens to break free. With the swarm hot on their heels, Goldcape leans back and fires an arrow behind her—it bursts into an electrical discharge that disperses the rest. Back on the ground, the Gray Maiden patrol hasn’t noticed Goldcape’s allies—a nearly fatal mistake as Anorak rains fire down on their heads! All but one fall immediately, and The Reckoner quickly reaches the scene to finish the job. Only one of the Gray Maidens is dead, and Goldcape patches up the unconscious, bleeding remainder. Anorak shouts that another patrol will be on the scene in minutes, so the group flees into the Green Markets. Zeyla Foxglove is there and recognises Goldcape from the time she assisted in laying to rest an unsettled Shoanti spirit that had been haunting the area. Zeyla says she hasn’t seen anyone matching Rolth Lamm’s description, but she does provide the keys to a nearby sewer grate—the same one the undead ravens had been roosting in.
The sewers under South Shore (Korvosa’s newest neighbourhood) are narrow and poorly constructed. A channel of effluvium runs down the center of each tunnel between slippery ledges. While the others have various means to see in the total darkness, Yraelzin is forced to rely on a magical torch-like spell that will make the group easy to notice from a distance. Goldcape puts her jungle-honed survival skills to good use, noticing faint footsteps in the muck down the eastern tunnel. She sets up a false trail down a western tunnel in case the Gray Maidens follow the group into the sewers, and then everyone sets off. After several minutes, Goldcape’s bat-like eyes pick up something lurking just below the surface of the sewage water almost ninety feet ahead. She relays the information to her allies, and the group move cautiously towards it. Once Yraelzin’s light shines over the area, a massive crocodile, clearly dead but still animate, leaps out! Anorak reacts quickly and sends magical force missiles into the hulking thing. But when the dwarf tries to push past Yraelzin to get closer, he slips and falls face-first in the muck. Meanwhile, Goldcape conjures spears of ice that stab into the undead crocodile’s soft underbelly before flipping the creature over on its back! The Reckoner then dashes forward and brings his enchanted war-maul down on the creature’s jaws, destroying it.
After several more minutes trekking through the sewers, the group reach their quarry: Rolth Lamm! Standing between a pair of lit braziers over a hundred feet away, Rolth curls his fingers around the bars of the portcullis in front of him and cackles. “Hello boys and girls, Uncle Rolth is back in town! And he knows what you did!” Goldcape taunts back that they’re going to kill him just like they did his father, and the battle begins! She summons magical hailstones to pelt the necromancer, while Yraelzin and Anorak cause magical fiery explosions to envelop Rolth. Rolth responds by trying to paralyse the charging Reckoner, cackling “hold that thought—I’m in the middle of something!” But The Reckoner’s willpower is far too strong for Rolth’s paltry magic, and he shrugs it off easily. But when The Reckoner gets close to the pool of water separating the nearest ledge from Rolth and the portcullis he’s hiding behind, dozens of undead hands crawl out of the water and toward the vigilante! But Goldcape conjures another magical hailstorm that destroy the eerie swarm and force Rolth into a full retreat. “It looks like the jig is up. But I’ll see you kiddos again in Corpse-vosa soon!” With another cackle, Rolth conjures a magical doorway, steps through it, and is gone!
The Harrowed Heroes are frustrated that Rolth has slipped through their clutches a second time. They make it back to the surface and fly on Rocky back to the safe-house, again taking a circuitous route to avoid notice. Conversation is had about how to track Rolth down again and battle tactics that could keep him from escaping through magic.
Late that evening, as everyone is pulling out bedrolls, The Reckoner hears a strange, surprisingly loud buzzing sound from outside. Goldcape pulls open a shutter just a crack, and spots a grotesque abomination: something that’s a cross between a fly and a plump human infant! Goldcape closes the shutter and informs the other that there’s an accuser devil outside—a denizen of Hell that can psychically record everything it sees and pass the information along to another creature by touching it. The Reckoner suggests someone may be trying to pin-point the location of his safe-house. The group discuss whether to just stay inside and avoid the risk of detection, or confront the creature. A somewhat-confused plan emerges to slip out back- and side-doors and then lure the creature into battle at a nearby alley. The Reckoner moves noiselessly into position and then calls out loudly “Hey blowfly!” The buzzing winged thing flies over, but at a height that foils The Reckoner’s planned ambush. Goldcape and Anorak use lightning spells to weaken the accuser devil, forcing it to flee. It almost gets away, but The Reckoner quickly draws his bow and shoots it with an arrow. The creature spirals downward and then crashes into the cobblestones, dead from the fall.
Was the accuser devil near the safe-house as part of a mission, or was it just a coincidence? With only a corpse on their hands, it may be impossible to know.
I was familiar with carrionstorms from Rise of the Runelords, and thought they'd be exactly in Rolth Lamm's wheelhouse. They function as a swarm mechanically. The reference to Rocky being unable to make a sharp turn is an effect of my use of the full Pathfinder rules for flying, which are cumbersome (my players don't like them) but do make flying a little more balanced while rewarding creatures with good Fly skill mods. This encounter may be one of the last times The Reckoner fails to activate a wand; always annoyed at the risk of poor rolls messing up his combat strategy, his player pretty soon had the PC take a special ability so he could Take 10 with Use Magic Device.
Anorak's fireball was devastating on the Gray Maidens. Blaster casters have a bad reputation in Pathfinder, but against a large group of foes with low Reflex saves, they can be pretty effective.
I enjoyed the sewers parts. I was aided by an excellent map pack and the hardcover collection's random encounter tables, plus my "Sewers Terrain Cheat Sheet" that summarises material from the Core Rulebook.
I may have leaned too heavily into making Rolth a Joker-like figure in this scenario. I loved the "Corpse-vosa" line (but doubt I made it up myself--it may have come from one of the audio CDs). His ability to dimension door or teleport away just in the nick of time frustrated the PCs to no end (just as Rolth would have wanted).
We always say The Reckoner has only one weakness: ranged combat. But here, he takes down a foe with a bow and arrow!