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Starfinder Charter Superscriber. ***** Pathfinder Society GM. Starfinder Society GM. 1,412 posts (9,775 including aliases). 572 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 12 Organized Play characters. 20 aliases.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 37:

[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.

GM Commentary:

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!

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I’ve run or played almost all of Season 0. They don’t tend to be overly challenging for modern Pathfinder PCs. My advice is not to overthink things and just play whatever PC sounds fun.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm going to play my support paladin, Trokkus (Level 11). Thanks for running Qstor!

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And of course, don't forget the Pathfinder (First Edition) Core Rulebook, handy pocket editions in stock! There's a thriving community to join, and lots of other First Edition rulebooks available here.

2/5 5/5

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It seems a bit far-fetched to have a bunch of orcs suddenly joining the Pathfinder Society, as much as I would love to see some new options and love being given to PFS1. But who knows. I think we'll have to wait for a clearer go-ahead.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm just finishing GMing my second AP, so that's given me a lot of experience with high-level play. I've also played in a homebrew campaign that got to level 13ish, and a ran/played a few modules & PFS scenarios above level 10. I'm actually running Academy of Secrets right now (for the second time). I guess I enjoy high-level play much more than the common wisdom should indicate.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'd treat it like fast healing--once a character is dead, the healing ability stops. (whereas regeneration makes it very clear it operates no matter how much damage has been taken unless a special method is used to stop it)

2/5 5/5

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
roll4initiative wrote:
Has my submission to GM PFS1e Ruins of Bonekeep Special been rejected?

I'd be keen to try Bonekeep. My PC would die in the first chamber, but I'd still be keen!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've got some current capacity both as a player and GM, and I'd like to see more games offered (conventions are great, but we don't have to wait for them to start!).

Would someone like to do a GM barter? I'll run a scenario that you want, and you simultaneously run a scenario that I want? (starting after a week's prep time)

I'm keen for Bounty 6 as well.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 36:

[31 Desnus 4708 A.R. to 12 Sarenith 4708 A.R.]

Under the reign of Queen Ileosa, every day in Korvosa brings word of a strange--or ominous--development. No party has claimed responsibility for the coordinated burning of three of the city’s granaries, food has become more expensive in the city, and sporadic rioting is commonplace. But the Queen seems little concerned by the unrest, and her increasingly heavy-handed and numerous patrols of the Gray Maidens enforce her bizarre dictates like a new law prohibiting any other woman from wearing green dresses resembling her favourite style! The Queen has also taken steps to further cement her symbolic power over Korvosa, as the city mint has begun circulating new coins that all bear her image on one side and her new crown on the other. When older coins come into the bank, they’re melted down and re-cast. Other actions are more mysterious in their purpose, such as a royal decree authorising the Temple of Asmodeus to collect a vial of blood from every resident or the dismantling of the Great Tower (former home to the now-disbanded Sable Company) for stone blocks to be used in a major new construction project.

But Ileosa’s ascendance to the throne have had more than purely internal effects. The city is abuzz with word that she has withdrawn Korvosa from the tentative military alliance it had with Magnimar and Riddleport to coordinate the defense of Varisia from the surprisingly-sophisticated giant armies of the northern Kodar mountains. Scattered reports indicate the invaders have moved far enough south to besiege the Hold of Belkzen and have sent scouting parties even further!

For the Harrowed Heroes, the days after their rescue of Castle Korvosa’s former seneschal, Neolandus Kalepopolis, and fencing academy instructor Vencarlo Orisini are filled with preparations for a planned trip to the Cinderlands. Their ability to move around the city is constricted by the need to avoid spies, patrols, and agents of the various enemies they’ve made in recent months. In the face of mounting pressure, the decision to leave the city for a brief period seems especially wise.

Yraelzin accepts a position as Chaplain to House Arkona, and remains out of view of the public (and any inquisitors from Razmiran that may be looking to speak with him). It seems that Glorio Arkona is endlessly amused by Yraelzin’s preaching. The only drawback to the priest’s plan is the lack of access to a substantial amount of gold he had hidden in his aborted “Temple of Razmir”.

After the days spent in Old Korvosa, Goldcape checks on Old Lady Cloggins and is happy to see she is safe in her repaired home. The Giotorris, whom Goldcape stayed with for some time recently, are also well. However, Rodolfo has decided to abandon his toy shop in Old Korvosa due to how dangerous it is there, and instead sell his wares from a small cart closer to home. The vanara spends several days in libraries researching Shoanti and the Cinderlands. During one such visit, she meets with a well-disguised and extremely-cautious Vencarlo. He explains that he and Neolandus are leaving Korvosa for the time being—it’s just too dangerous with the Queen’s Gray Maidens and the Red Mantis assassins after them. He tells Goldcape that they’ll be heading to Blackbird Ranch outside of Harse, a property owned by a trusted old friend from his adventuring days. It’s clear Vencarlo doesn’t like being forced out of the city he loves, but knows that escorting Neolandus to safety is the honourable thing. He makes a special note of asking Goldcape in particular to visit him at the ranch when she and her companions have finished their mission to the Cinderlands. He doesn’t explain why, but just mentions he thinks Goldcape has an important part to play in the city’s future.

Anorak has used his favour from Glorio Arkona to gain a small workshop in Old Korvosa, as well as enough raw materials to begin some crafting of magical items. He starts with an enchanted jacket that can store the infused power of a potion for hours! One day while working, he receives a visitor: a strange, bald, almost bug-eyed man named Mortimont. With unsettling mannerisms and word choices, Mortimont explains that he’s opened up a bakery across the street in an old toy shop, and has a favour to ask. He produces a lockbox made out of an unusual, dark green metal with clasps that look like claws, and asks if Anorak is willing to keep it for him temporarily in exchange for a handsome fee. Anorak is understandably suspicious, but Mortimont refuses to divulge the contents of the box or who might be looking for it--though he does emphasise that it should never, on any account, be opened. When Mortimont’s offered fee is over 900 gold pieces, Anorak reluctantly agrees.

Concerned about how much Meliya Arkona’s spy (carried around unwittingly by Goldcape for months) has discovered, The Reckoner moves his safe-house to a new location in Old Korvosa. He hits the streets for some information on Thousand Bones (the Shoanti shaman the group plans to visit at the Kallow Mounds in the Cinderlands), and practices combat tactics with Goldcape and Rocky. He also (with funds provided by Glorio) commissions the manufacture of an expensive suit of armor from the craftsmen at the Stalwart Shield, but the intricate work involved in creating it means it won’t be completed by the time the others could be ready to leave the city. He does succeed in finding Majenko, the house drake who swore to aid The Reckoner for a year and a day, and learns Majenko has been targeted multiple times by swarms of undead ravens, each time barely managing to escape with his life.

Before The Reckoner can investigate further, he receives a hidden message through a pre-arranged system with Cressida Kroft, Field Marshal of the Korvosan Guards. The message asks The Reckoner to come alone to the paupers’ cemetery area of the Gray District. The Reckoner is wary it could be a trap, but Kroft really is there waiting for him. She leads The Reckoner into the very same warren of tunnels he and his allies once cleared of Rolth Lamm’s derro allies while searching for the corpse of a Shoanti brave. Crates full of food, water, and weapons are on display, and space has been made to house dozens. “Welcome to the resistance,” Kroft says, explaining that it’s become clear that trying to resist Ileosa’s cruel reign through open and lawful means is futile. Kroft says she’s planning something big, something that will strike at the heart of Ileosa’s power, but she won’t reveal what it is until the time is right. She distinguishes her efforts from Grau Soldado’s “rabble-rousing” in the Shingles which, she says, will only lead to violent repercussions. But to ensure The Reckoner and his allies have a chance to take part in what she’s planning, she needs the ability to contact him wherever he is and at any time.

She beckons a figure hiding in the shadows to come forward, and introduces the woman as Bishop Keppira d’Bear, High Priestess of the Church of Pharasma in Korvosa. Kroft says that d’Bear is the only member of the resistance with the spellcasting prowess to communicate with others at great distances, but that she needs to have seen the individual in-person first. For her part, d’Bear explains that she’s allowed the resistance to use this subterranean area of the cemetery as their headquarters because the Queen’s cruelty make it clear she’s not fit to be monarch, and the revelations that she’s consorted with the Cult of Urgathoa are damning.

But before he leaves, The Reckoner asks a question that the other two hadn’t considered: what happens if the resistance is successful in overthrowing the Queen? Who would replace her? Kroft is embarrassed to admit she hasn’t thought that far ahead, but The Reckoner says it’s crucial--otherwise, a manipulative aristocrat like Glorio Arkona could step into the void. Kroft promises to work on the problem, and says that d’Bear will be in contact when the time is right for the next step in her plan—though it may be some days or even weeks, because the resistance may only get one chance.

[Starday, 13 Sarenith 4708 A.R.]

After several days spent separately on errands and preparation, the Harrowed Heroes reunite at The Reckoner’s new safe-house in Old Korvosa. In his real identity as Ralph Blackfeather, he relates what he’s heard about the two separate resistance groups in the city, while Anorak talks about the mysterious lockbox, Goldcape shows off a new magical bow enchanted to look like a lute, and Yraelzin proclaims how pleased he is with his new role (despite Ralph’s warning that Glorio Arkona is a criminal). The group discuss what’s been happening to Majenko, and the zombies seemingly sent to attack them at Arkona Palace, and conclude that Rolth Lamm is responsible. They make a tentative decision to try to deal with the necromancer before leaving the city.

Goldcape reminds the group about the need to purchase supplies for the journey such as food and a new, custom-made saddle that can (uncomfortably!) seat all four members on Rocky’s back. After collecting contributions, she leaves the safe-house through a backdoor into an alley and flies Rocky via a circuitous route into the Midland District, avoiding Gray Maiden patrols. In the shops at Eodred’s Walk, she buys rations, tries (but fails) to trick Jope Chantsmo at Trapper’s Hole into believing she’s someone else, and gets a dubious Harrow reading full of predictions of doom and gloom from an old lady at a stall. She then visits Old Lady Cloggins and stashes some gold safely in her home.

Meanwhile, Ralph and Yraelzin agree to take a look at the mysterious box Anorak has been paid to hide in his workshop. Ralph takes a look at the lock on the box and notes it’s high-quality, and although he might be able to pick it, it could very well be trapped. He suggests finding out more from this baker, Mortimont, about what the box contains. The three hatch a plan that involves Anorak distracting Mortimont by going in the front door of his shop while Yraelzin and Ralph snoop around the shop’s back door. The back door is secured by an almost suspiciously high-quality lock, and when Ralph tries to pick it, his hand begins to freeze and turn black! He rubs it vigorously to get the blood flowing to it and decides not to tempt fate again. He and Yraelzin join Anorak in the front of the normal-looking bakery, but Mortimont refuses to discuss anything about the box and instead tries to get Ralph to eat his fresh-baked croissants. The three return to the safe-house, convinced more than ever that Mortimont must be more than he says he is, but lacking hard-proof he’s engaged in wrong-doing.

It begins raining in the afternoon as Ralph ascends to the rooftop of a nearby building and signals for Majenko to fly down. Despite the quarantine, it seems disbanding the Sable Company has stripped Ileosa of the ability to secure the airways--both Rocky and Majenko have been able to fly over Old Korvosa without difficulty in recent days. Ralph collects more details from Majenko about where the flocks of undead ravens have been congregating, and realises that all of the attacks seem to originate from the South Shore district of Korvosa. Back in the safe-house, Ralph shares what he’s learned and says the group should investigate. Goldcape is more inclined to leave the city immediately, but is persuaded to stay a little longer. The decision is made to head to South Shore first thing in the morning.

Goldcape manages to get a few hours’ research on Harse completed at Jeggare Library and learns that the village is an important river crossing and ranching hub in Korvosa’s hinterlands. Yraelzin heads back to the safety of Arkona Palace, while Ralph beds down for the night in his safe-house. Anorak figures out that by carefully focussing a spell through the lock-box’s keyhole, the tell-tale traces of powerful conjuration magic can be detected.

[Sunday, 14 Sarenith 4708 A.R.]

The next day, after some confusion and delays figuring out how to manage it, all four of the Harrowed Heroes climb onto Rocky’s back and try to settle themselves into the exotic passenger saddle. Although Rocky is more than strong enough for the group’s combined weight, flying promises to be uncomfortable for the bird and his riders. Goldcape again takes Rocky on a circuitous route, leaving the city from one direction, circling back, dipping into the river as a prank, and re-entering from another direction. She drops the others off near the gate separating South Shore from the rest of the city and flies on to see if she can lure Majenko’s attackers out from hiding. Just as the others slip past a Gray Maiden patrol, Goldcape succeeds--hundreds of ravens, somehow flying despite rotting flesh and visible skeletons, swarm into the sky from sewer grates and attack!

The plan to discover Majenko’s attackers has worked, but will Rocky and Goldcape survive it? And will success lead the Harrowed Heroes to their goal of dealing with Rolth Lamm once and for all?

GM Commentary:

There are a lot of little hints in this recap to plot points that will emerge in later chapters: the collection of vials of blood from Korvosans, a massive new construction project, Vencarlo's request that Goldcape visit him after the Cinderlands, and more. Good storytelling makes developments seem organic and well-integrated into the story (rather than coming from out of nowhere), so I always try to drop things like this in when possible.

I mentioned the coin in particular because Paizo started selling Korvosan coins! I got one for each of the players for Christmas and attached a one-time in-game benefit to it.

The storyline involving the Army of the North (because the PCs lost in Rise of the Runelords) continues in this chapter, as we see that Ileosa's reign threatens all of Varisia. In sessions much later (During Chapter 5), one of the PCs has a chance to get involved more directly in the political situation between the city-states. Although the PCs didn't figure it out at the time, the burning of granaries mentioned in this session were done by an advance team of saboteurs sent by one of Karzoug's generals to soften up Korvosa.

Poor Yraelzin never did get back that gold he buried in his "temple".

Goldcape always did a great job taking advantage of Korvosa's excellent libraries and museums to research likely destinations, foes, and more. I always try to reward smart thinking, and Goldcape's contribution to the group's success in this way is often underappreciated by the rest of the group.

Mortimont! One of my favourite homemade NPCs ever. The picture and voice I use for him are Peter Lorre at his in his bald, bug-eyed, and creepiest persona. With Mortimont, I can make the most innocuous requests (like trying a pastry) drive the players into rampant paranoia. And of course, who can resist a mystery like "what's in the box?" especially when told, adamantly, never to open it. I introduced Mortimont here because I wanted Anorak to have his own subplot to help develop his personality and role-playing. It really worked a treat, and the consequences for the campaign end up being pretty significant, as we'll see later.

This session also starts to develop the idea that the rebels are splitting into different factions: Kroft is leading a sort of well-organised, lawful good faction of the solid middle-class and military veterans, while Grau has organised a hit-and-run, more anarchic group drawn from the Shingles and Korvosa's extensive underclass. And as we'll see later, The Reckoner's fears that Glorio Arkona might make a play for the throne come to pass as well. Some of this is drawn from the AP itself (like Kroft and d'Bear using the catacombs in the Gray District), while some of it is my own additions to add some more intrigue and realistic unpredictability to the revolution.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's an interesting proposal and I can see some value in it.

Thanks for running!

I've got some GM credit for a new Level 2 PC. I just have to make the character. Will do that this weekend once I figure out what it's going to be.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yeah, whenever I see a reference in adventures to identifying a poison, they always use Craft (alchemy).

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

@GM Nowruz: I'd be up for Heroes for Highdelve! What sort of info would you like?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In GMing, I try to distinguish between collateral damage that's intended as fun, cinematic description but that has no meaningful game effect (the walls are scorched by searing ray or random furniture is smashed by the sheer power of a sonic attack) versus collateral damage that affects gameplay (starting a building on fire, harming NPCs, rolling a nat 1 on a Reflex save vs an area attack). I'm free-wheeling with the first type, and RAW with the second type.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Me too! As I prep some more PFS1 to run (enjoying Academy of Secrets right now and getting something ready for the con), I'd love to get a couple more of my characters in PBP games. Anyone have any plans to run anything?

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Pathfinder Tales novel Lord of Runes has several chapters that take place in Korvosa. It's set after the end of the AP, but the flavourful descriptions of several locations and NPCs (Vencarlo Orisini, the Acadamae, drake vs imp fights, and much more) could be extremely useful. Plus, it's a great novel!

2/5 5/5

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

For what it's worth, I'd do what I could to accommodate the player by incorporating their ship into the adventure. Don't let it disrupt things overmuch, but let them have some fun with the fact that they bought/earned something cool and now get a chance to use it.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I guess, if nothing else, she can wail to alert some of the other potential defenders (gargoyles, maybe the dragon?, etc.) that intruders are coming.

For what it's worth, my players explored the castle during the daytime and nighttime (though they were over-confident, and the banshee did end up killing one of the PCs and forcing the others to flee inside quickly).

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 35:

[Sunday, 31 Desnus 4708 A.R.]

Deep below Arkona Palace, the Harrowed Heroes converse with their captor, Meliya Arkona, about how to best kill her brother, Glorio. The Reckoner persuades her to let him go out into the city for an hour in search of magical potions to aid the upcoming confrontation, on the condition that the others are left behind as hostages. The masked vigilante finds a new rowboat tied up on the pier that juts into the sea caves under the palace, and rows it (with some difficulty) through an illusory wall and out into the waters lapping the coast of Endrin’s Isle. Hurrying through the streets of Old Korvosa, he realises that rioting has begun afresh. He spots what looks like a group of priests being chased by a mob, but decides not to intervene. When he reaches Ledbetter’s in Bridgefront, the cranky old man refuses to even open the door at first. The Reckoner cajoles him into selling a few vials of magical elixirs, and hears that the rioting was caused by a massacre on the only bridge that still connects Old Korvosa to the mainland.

When The Reckoner returns, Meliya says the plan is a simple one: she’ll disguise herself as a bruised and battered Vencarlo Orisini, lead the others through the palace until they find Glorio, and launch a surprise attack. Neolandus and the body of the real Vencarlo will have to stay behind. The Reckoner interjects that they should be entitled to any of Glorio’s possessions after he’s killed, and she rolls her eyes and agrees that they can have anything on his corpse besides keys or documents.

The plan faces its first hiccup when everyone emerges from the secret passageway and into the gardens. The tools of the all the labourers hired to help repair the damage from the fire have been scattered about as if their owners fled quickly. Then, shapes can be seen dimly outside the enchanted windows before they burst open in a spray of glass to reveal the walking dead! "He . . . knows . . ." the zombies moan with rotting tongues and torn vocal cords. Goldcape wants to stay and fight them, but The Reckoner persuades her there’s no time—they need to find and fight Glorio quickly, before their temporary magical augmentations fade away. As they move through the palace, Meliya whispers that Glorio wouldn’t have summoned undead, and may be just as confused as they are by the cause.

The search ends on the second floor. Glorio is there standing in front of the entrance to his rooms, obviously having surmised that something is afoot. He is warm and welcoming at first, but as the group move closer and closer to him, he realises from the way Anorak grips his waraxe that they’ve come to kill him! In an instant, the co-ruler of House Arkona has lifted off the ground and begins to hover in mid-air over the opening to the gardens below, out of reach of anyone on the balconies. But the otherwise-clever tactic doesn’t account for an assailant who’s a roc! Rocky smashes into Glorio as a mass of talons, beak, and feathers. Glorio intones mystic words to conjure a bolt of pure lightning at the bird. In moments, the scene is awash in projectiles, explosions, and blasts of crackling magic. Yraelzin quickly changes the tide by stripping Glorio of his magical levitation, forcing the man to (slowly) descend to the gardens below.

Meliya, in her guise as Vencarlo, remains on the balcony and contributes little to the fighting in a bid to retain her disguise. But The Reckoner rails against her for not contributing to the battle and their argument reveals the truth to Glorio—“Vencarlo” is really his sister! Glorio laughs at the trick and tells the Harrowed Heroes he has much more to offer them than she does and then he turns invisible to buy time. Meanwhile, zombies begin crashing through the burnt foliage and attacking every living creature they see. Meliya flies down into the battle to bring her full might against Glorio, but Glorio’s silver tongue (and her own sharp one) has led to another betrayal! Everyone turns their weapons against Meliya—and Goldcape even magically conjures a rhinoceros to pin her in! The battle is a crazed melee, with Meliya surrounded by Rocky on one side, The Reckoner on another, a rhinoceros on the third, and zombies on the other. Even her mysterious defences can’t hold out for long, and Rocky’s bite (enhanced by the magical oils obtained by The Reckoner) prove devastatingly effective. Terribly wounded, Meliya’s rage at the sudden reversal is obvious: “You’ll pay, Ralph Blackfeather!” she snarls before drawing a wand and disappearing through a conjured doorway!

Although his new allies are frustrated by Meliya’s escape, Glorio takes it all in stride. He watches as Anorak destroys most of the remaining zombies with fire (one of which turns out to be the body of the “Emperor of Old Korvosa”), and then thanks the group for their timely assistance. He offers the group his patronage, though The Reckoner is more interested in hard currency or magic items than any intangible support. Still, Glorio insinuates the problems in the city will only grow worse with Ileosa at the helm, and that, perhaps, they’ll need each again in the future.

With Neolandus rescued and his story about Queen Ileosa’s crown told, a difficult choice stands before the Harrowed Heroes: stay in Korvosa and try to continue undermining her cruel reign from within, or leave for the Cinderlands in the hopes of discovering the dark secret of her newfound power.

GM Commentary:

This was a big session, and was the capstone to Chapter 3. The battle between the PCs, Meliya, and Glorio was exciting, cinematic, and suspenseful, and I for one was not expecting the sudden switching of sides! The result certainly had major implications for the rest of the campaign, as Glorio became a prominent leader and potential claimant to the throne, while Meliya was forced to flee and go into hiding (and the PCs never tracked her down--I probably should have done more with her knowledge of Ralph Blackfeather's secret identity). I had a blast with this one, and it certainly set things up well for the next chapter.

At the moment, I can't recall the in-story reason I had the zombie waves attack. It might have been a revenge plan by Rolth Lamm against Goldcape, et al., or some other story thread I was setting up.

Bluff is one of those skills you might think aren't important, until you try to "casually" approach someone (like Glorio) you intend to assassinate. Anorak's low roll and Glorio's high Sense Motive meant he had time to avoid getting stuck in melee.

We see another early glimpse here of The Reckoner's preoccupation with short-term buffs (potions and wands), which forced a round-by-round running clock even outside of encounters.

The grumpy, racist Bridgefront alchemist, Silas Ledbetter became one of the most memorable NPCs to the players even though he actually only appeared in a few sessions.

I'm sorry everyone, but it'll be best if I drop out now. I really want to get into Traveller at some point, but getting my head around a whole new system and active campaign just isn't really in the cards for me right now between work, the holidays, and my other PBP games. One of these days the stars will align! Thanks for considering me.

I always find the loot drops in Society games a little awkward when it comes to verisimilitude: she's giving us an item worth 3600 credits for cleaning some shelves and Ikea-assembly! (and as an unasked for bonus beyond what we negotiated with her looking up the info). Either business is booming or this store won't be open for long :)

I'll be about the same as Malaxius.

Okay, let's try this again!

Str: 2d6 ⇒ (4, 1) = 5
Dex: 2d6 ⇒ (3, 2) = 5
End: 2d6 ⇒ (5, 1) = 6
Int: 2d6 ⇒ (6, 6) = 12
Edu: 2d6 ⇒ (1, 2) = 3
Soc: 2d6 ⇒ (6, 3) = 9

STR: 2d6 ⇒ (4, 4) = 8
DEX: 2d6 ⇒ (3, 4) = 7
END: 2d6 ⇒ (1, 1) = 2
INT: 2d6 ⇒ (2, 2) = 4
EDU: 2d6 ⇒ (1, 1) = 2
SOC: 2d6 ⇒ (3, 1) = 4

I have an idea for a Noble (Dilettante) named Gerhard Ginsquallor that could be fun, but if that idea doesn't work, I can think along another direction.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Oh, cool! Okay, I'll get something ready.

Sorry, I'm a bit slow! I've skimmed the Player's Guide and the first few posts of this thread as suggested. For the list of available careers I'll need to download the rulebook PDF I take it?

Checking in. Thanks for running!

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'll just bob to the surface here if you need an alternate at some point. I'm only really familiar with Traveler from having played (completed!) the Megatraveller I and Megatraveller II CRPGs way back when. But I remember being impressed by the setting and vast array of career paths, etc.

I love a good, classic SF tale of mystery, exploration, character development, and (of course) danger.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sounds good!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'd love to play!

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 34:

[Starday, 30 Desnus, 4708 A.R. continued]

The Harrowed Heroes are in dire straits! Goldcape is unconscious, Yraelzin has a shape-changing serpent poised to bite his neck, and Anorak and The Reckoner have just encountered a *second* Vencarlo Orisini! But after The Reckoner realises this new Vencarlo is the fake, the impersonator smiles wryly and reveals herself to be Meliya Arkona! “You can’t blame a girl for trying,” she says in a cultured Vudrani accent. “How was I know to you know you would manage to retrieve the real Vencarlo from Sivit? The darksphinx doesn’t let her prey go lightly.” She nods in recognition of the group’s accomplishment, and then says that the real enemy is her brother, Glorio Arkona. She says that Glorio betrayed the group and notified her the instant they entered the Vivified Labyrinth, doubtless hoping that either they would kill her or she would kill them. She says that, together, they can confront Glorio, earning the adventurers their freedom and herself the rightful place as the sole head of House Arkona.

When The Reckoner balks, Meliya begins to press. She says she knows the group is at its weakest with Goldcape unconscious and her pet roc effectively neutralized. Plus, she explains, her “little spy” has been watching the group since they obtained it from Verik Vancaskerkin and revealed themselves to be interesting new players in Korvosa’s power struggles. To prove the truth of her words, she drops a stunning fact: The Reckoner’s real name! But despite the not-so-subtle threat to reveal his secret identity to the world, The Reckoner is having none of it. He strides up and smashes his hammer into the surprised woman’s ribs! She grunts in pain but doesn’t seem to be seriously hurt, and shakes her head in mocking disappointment as she assumes a Vudrani martial arts stance!

The Reckoner and Meliya duel off, with each finding it difficult to land a meaningful blow on the other. The real Vencarlo Orisini, using Goldcape’s magical rapier, joins in the fray. Meanwhile, Yraelzin feels the snake’s fangs tear into his neck and he feels momentarily disoriented. The situation becomes even worse when Anorak conjures magical darkness, making it impossible for the Priest of Razmir to see! But Yraelzin hasn’t been idle during his time as a hostage, as he’s secretly slipped the marble elephant figurine out of his robes. He throws it blindly in the darkness, and it careens through the illusory wall and lands right behind Meliya. Suddenly, a massive elephant trumpets its arrival and joins The Reckoner and Vencarlo in attacking her! Still, she is incredibly nimble, and even apparently solid blows seem to do little harm to her when they land. Anorak dispels his darkness spell and chops into the strange snake, simultaneously releasing a magical ray of flame he had previously stored within it. In an instant, Meliya’s spy is burnt to a crisp.

Anorak and Yraelzin rush over to help the others, but that only gives their foe a nefarious idea. “If you won’t stand by my side,” she says with a smile to The Reckoner, “then your friends will pay the price.” She dances out his reach and with a fearsome combination of kukri swings, throat punches, and roundhouse kicks kills Vencarlo! And then she continues her flurry of attacks on Yraelzin and Anorak, wounding both of them severely. The survivors respond with everything they have, but Meliya’s defences against blade and spell are just too strong. Faced with the imminent prospect of witnessing another death, The Reckoner finally relents. He lowers his battle-maul and agrees to her terms. “Thanks Ralph,” she says, flourishing her power. She says the group will need to be at full strength to help her defeat her brother, and says they should rest for now and she’ll return for them in the morning. She warns them to stay away from any bloodstones they see, as Glorio can magically look through them.

With Venarlo’s body in tow, the group return to the chamber where they freed Neolandus from the clutches of his three-faced torturer. The former (or, arguably, still) seneschal of Castle Korvoa is stricken by Vencarlo’s death and acknowledges that none of them may make it out of the Arkonas’ clutches alive. He says that one of them has to, however, if there is any chance of ever deposing Queen Ileosa and liberating the city from her insane cruelty. As Goldcape finally wakes from her magical slumber, Neolandus reveals the information that the Harrowed Heroes braved the quarantined Old Korvosa to discover.

When Neolandus confronted Ileosa about the king’s death, he explains, she sent Red Mantis assassins after him! Only through luck and a deep knowledge of the castle’s layout was he able to escape and then go into hiding with the artist Salvator Scream in Old Korvosa. While recovering from the attack, Neolandus says he pieced together everything he could think of that would explain Ileosa’s sudden personality change from a petulant queen to a scheming murderer and dictator. He explains that he knew she had been “borrowing” the treasury key to look through the city’s treasures for months, and that there are several old and obscure legends about the rooms below Castle Korvosa. One of the legends is that they were used to hide something of great power or terrible evil--the so-called “Midnight’s Teeth”, a sacred relic dating to the time when the Shoanti had occupied the ziggurat that Castle Korvosa is built upon. Neolandus relates how he connected that to a separate legend that hundreds of years ago, a blue dragon agent of Zon-Kuthon (the god of pain) named Kazavon ruled the land as a cruel tyrant until he was finally defeated and his remains scattered—but that some of his body parts, including the fangs, contained fragments of the dragon’s essence. Neolandus says he thinks the Midnight’s Teeth and Kazavon’s fangs could be one and the same, and match the description of the new crown she’s said to wear! If so, that power would explain how Marcus Endrin’s assassination attempt failed so spectacularly.

Neolandus says he only has theories, however, and not proof. As Korvosa’s founders didn’t think it was important to preserve much in the way of Shoanti culture, there’s no way to research the history of the legends about the Midnight’s Teeth and Kazavon within the city. But, he says, the Shoanti have very strong oral traditions, and if anyone knows how much truth lies within the legend (and what, if anything, can be done to break the crown’s power), it’s doubtless the tribes in the Cinderlands—an area said to have been once ruled by Kazavon. Because the Shoanti have long distrusted Korvosa and are suspicious of outsiders, they will doubtless view visitors as trespassers and enemies. But Neolandus explains he knows where they might be able to start: with the Skoan-Quah, the Tribe of the Skull, a tribe that was involved in peace talks with Korvosa prior to the king’s murder. One old shaman was particularly level-headed and friendly, Neolandus says, a man named Thousand Bones from a place in the Cinderlands known as the Kallow Mounds—about fifty miles east of the city of Kaer Maga and several days’ ride from Korvosa.

The Harrowed Heroes have much to ponder as they rest and try to recover from their wounds.

[Sunday, 31 Desnus 4708 A.R.]

In the morning, the group discuss what to do. Goldcape is not happy that The Reckoner made a bargain with Vencarlo’s killer, but says that she can bring Vencarlo back to life (though perhaps not in the same body) once she obtains some rare magical oils and herbs. Yraelzin says his prayers to Razmir have been answered, as he’s intuited the mystical means to communicate at a great distance with those he knows. The group discuss whether anyone in Korvosa could come to their aid, and conclude there isn’t—even Field Marshal Kroft is barely holding onto her current position. An interesting possibility opens up when one of the wands found on the darksphinx’s body is identified as allowing short-range magical teleportation. Members of the group debate whether to stay and fight on Meliya’s side or make an escape attempt. The Reckoner and Anorak vote to stay and fight, thereby preserving the former’s secret identity and avoiding having created yet another powerful enemy in a city seemingly full of them. Goldcape argues for escape, saying there’s no way to know whether they can defeat Glorio or that, even if they do, Meliya won’t just turn on them. Yraelzin is torn, as he wants House Arkona as long-term allies to help his “Temple of Razmir” flourish in Old Korvosa, but he’s afraid that choosing the wrong side in Glorio’s and Meliya’s rivalry could prove lethal.

Eventually, the group decide to stay. Seconds later, Meliya appears in the room, seemingly from out of thin air. “Good choice,” she says. “It’s time to go.”

GM Commentary:

I've just finished running Session # 95 as I write this commentary, and I had forgotten how much of a challenge Meliya was for the group. There's very, very few NPCs in the campaign that have been able to stand toe-to-toe with the entire group and come out ahead. Her high DR and AC was definitely part of it. The fact that she knew The Reckoner's secret was a heavy blow, and explains better why the group "suddenly" decide to turn on her in the next session.

I had also forgotten that she killed Vencarlo! Fortunately, the group was able to bring the man back to life--otherwise, some things in the campaign would have gone very differently.

The Neolandus exposition of course sets up Chapter Four. I wanted to make sure the PCs had all the info they needed because I had no idea which, if any, of these NPCs would live through the Vivified Labyrinth and the next few sessions.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sorry about that! I've swapped Nixxer for Speaker for the Dead (Level 5)

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
phaeton_nz wrote:

Thanks. And this all reminded me I was setting yp a table for A Festive Operation but didn't get enough signups to make it go. I had a space reserved for Morvruul the Merchant if you still want it.

The signup sheet is here

Ooh, I'd be up for that--I just need to get my PC details when I get home to sign up.

Any takers on Colossus Heist?

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 33:

[Starday, 30 Desnus, 4708 A.R. continued]

Deep under Arkona Palace, the Harrowed Heroes face a dilemma: one of their number has fallen under a magical slumber and can’t be awakened! Yraelzin makes several attempts to remove the enchantment, but meets with no success before proclaiming that his “nearly inexhaustible” reserve of magical energies are running low. With Anorak still wracked by pain from another magical trap, The Reckoner says the group needs to retreat. Goldcape is bundled onto Rocky’s back. The explorers backtrack to the original chamber where they pulled the lever, and pull it again. But although the room slowly spins as before, it doesn’t return to its original position! Instead, it rotates only 90 degrees to reveal a new series of chambers. The Reckoner quickly tries to pull the lever again, but the mechanism must have a built-in delay! He tries to force it nonetheless, but the gearwork behind the lever is too complicated for him to adjust.

Mere seconds later, the danger of being stuck in the Vivified Labyrinth in its current configuration becomes apparent: the darksphinx has been set free! The dangerous foe has the body of a lion, wings of an eagle, and the upper body of a comely woman. She smiles at having found her prey so easily, and conjures forth a cloying gray miasma of dark energies that roils through the group, and even the unconscious Goldcape and his companion Rocky are harmed by it. The darksphinx then retreats the way she came, and when Anorak rushes to follow, he sets off another magical symbol trap! Fortunately, his innate dwarven resistance to magic sees him through the danger. Thanks to Glorio Arkona’s earlier warning and The Reckoner’s foresight, the group has come prepared with vials of magical oils to coat their weapons with. The darksphinx lands one deep cut on The Reckoner, but his battle-maul proves devastatingly effective and Anorak finishes the battle with a powerful swing of his dwarven waraxe.

The group pushes forward into the darksphinx’s throne room. Manacled to a tiger-headed statute is an unconscious man covered in bruises, barely-healed cuts, and tattered rags: Vencarlo Orisini! The Reckoner smashes the manacles to free the man, and the judicious application of a magical healing wand brings the fencing instructor (and noted critic of the monarchy) to consciousness. Despite the obvious pain he’s in, Vencarlo manages a smile when he recognises fellow allies of Field Marshal Kroft. But he also realises that the labyrinth is no place to linger, and asks the group if they’ve found Neolandus Kalepopolis yet. When he hears that they haven’t, he explains that there’s an illusory wall near the entrance to the labyrinth—and he saw Neolandus being dragged through it. The Reckoner lends Vencarlo a pair of short swords so that he can contribute should there be a need for more bloodshed.

This time, when the lever is pulled, the room rotates—but to a configuration that sees the chamber’s only exit completely blocked by solid rock! The Reckoner spends the following minute trying furiously to speed up the built-in delay mechanism, knowing that the group’s magical defences are ebbing with each passing moment. When the gearwork finally resets on its own, another pull of the lever appears to have restored the labyrinth to the configuration that the group first found it. Vencarlo shows The Reckoner where the illusory wall is—it leads to a tunnel and a set of stairs that descend to a door. Sobbing—and gentle murmuring--can be heard coming from the other side of it. When the door is opened, the relief of finding Neolandus is tempered by the realisation that he’s stretched out on a torture rack! The entire room has been furnished with torture devices, and its stranger master is present: a six-armed woman whose head has three fanged faces! A whispered spell temporarily paralyses Anorak, but his willpower is strong enough that he’s able to break free seconds later. Meanwhile, The Reckoner and Vencarlo rush in to surround her. But the torturer is too wily to be surrounded so easily and dashes away, leaving a bloody gash in The Reckoner’s jerkin from a sharp-edged kukri. The room is small enough that she’s quickly cornered—but it’s Yraelzin who wins the battle. With his most common enchantments depleted, he recalls a necromantic spell he had almost forgotten about. Overcoming his foe’s resistance to magic, Yraelzin forces her bones to shatter! But when the sagging corpse falls to the ground, the group is horrified to realise that the flesh is slowly knitting together! Nothing seems to work to stop it until another vial of blessed oil is applied to The Reckoner’s hammer.

As the group is freeing and rousing Neolandus, rumbling can be heard from the north and from above, and the ground itself seems to shake. The group race up the stairs and towards the illusory wall, but then they hear a voice on the other side of it pleading for help—Vencarlo Orisini’s voice! The Reckoner peers through and sees a second Vencarlo who looks almost exactly like the one that is with them. The “new” Vencarlo and the “old” Vencarlo argue and are questioned, and both give plausible accounts. The Reckoner is torn on what to do until he notices some of the “new” Vencarlo’s skin looks like it’s flaking, and that the figure’s voice is higher in tone than the “old” one. But before he can confront the newcomer, Yraelzin’s voice calls out from the tunnel saying that there’s been a betrayal! The others rush back to see that the silver dagger Goldcape took from Verik Vancaskerkin’s office weeks ago has somehow turned into a snake—and it’s poised to sink its teeth into Yraelzin’s neck!

GM Commentary:

In-game, the group is rushing from place to place so that their short-lived buffs don't expire. This has become one of the most notable features of the group that I'd never seen before: at points, they might each have literally a dozen low-level buffs (from wands, potions, and spellcasting) going. Keeping track of all of these bonuses and their durations is a logistical pain in the butt.

What became the group's favourite spell for Yraelzin, boneshaker, made its debut this session. Whenever there's indecision about what the character should do during an encounter, the chant "boneshaker!" starts up pretty quickly.

The "two Vencarlos" worked pretty well! I might have even carried it further, except The Reckoner has a pretty high Perception score. I was also thrilled to reveal that the "silver dagger" Goldcape has been carrying since mid-way through Chapter 1 is a shapechanging monster that has been spying on the group for House Arkona.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dm Joseph Rauel wrote:

Why not dredge up a post from just over 5 years ago...

** spoiler omitted **


I honestly didn't prepare anything for it. You could go with something relatively minor (a normal snake with the amphibious subtype) or have fun with a massive sea serpent that you don't actually stat out but just scare the players with.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 32:

[Starday, 30 Desnus, 4708 A.R.]

After spending hours barricaded inside a small room to recover from injuries sustained in battle, the Harrowed Heroes awaken feeling fully refreshed. But as they’re gathering their things in preparation to renew their search for Vencarlo Orisini and Neolandus Kalepopolis (and while Yraelzin is pacing with worry about the possibility a Razmiran inquisitor has come to Korvosa), the sound of shouting can be heard outside the room, just over the sloshing waters of the sea cave. “Avidexu!” the voice calls. “Where are you? We’ve got another one for the labyrinth!” Goldcape shouts back pretending to be whoever Avidexu is, hoping to lure potential foes into an ambush. But her voice doesn’t match at all, and, when the Reckoner peeks out, he sees two figures armed with crossbows standing on the pier. Next to it is a small rowboat containing the bound figure of a dwarf who is just starting to wake up.

Willing to attack first and ask questions later, The Reckoner shoots an arrow from a ledge high above the newcomers, and Goldcape joins in with her crossbow. Yraelzin strikes a dramatic pose and shouts warnings of his vast arcane might, but (apart from conjuring a shimmering suit of magical armor) also relies on a crossbow to attack. The short-lived archery duel is inconclusive, and is brought to end when the dwarf rouses himself enough to push the boat away from the pier, burst his bounds, and conjure magical attacks of light and fire at his kidnappers! The spells go awry, but The Reckoner leaps dramatically from the ledge to the pier and shatters one of the crossbowmen’s skull with his war-maul! The other quickly surrenders, but The Reckoner won’t allow him to leave until he explains what’s going on. The kidnapper, who gives his name as Hal Fivecoins, says he’s a member of the Cerulean Society (Korvosa’s only—and semi-legitimate—thieves’ guild) and he was bringing another prisoner to Avidexu for the labyrinth. After being forced to reveal the location of the secret door to the labyrinth, the kidnapper is allowed to take the rowboat and paddle away.

For his part, the dwarf introduces himself as Anorak and explains he was attacked on the streets above. The Reckoner and Goldcape are focussed on opening the secret door and searching for traps, leaving the dwarf to Yraelzin’s not-so-subtle proselytization. With nowhere else to go and sensing safety in numbers, Anorak joins the others as they walk down a long, winding tunnel that’s lit only by the glow Yraelzin enchants his mask with. The tunnel curves sharply and then ends at a set of large bronze doors, each carved with images of tigers chasing other tigers in four adjacent circles. The doors open silently with the merest touch, revealing a small chamber containing a pair of statues of tiger-headed men, their arms wide as if to usher visitors in. Curiously, a small seam—barely an inch wide—is noticeable in the floor, walls, and ceiling between where the statues stand and the smaller chamber beyond from which a long lever with an ebony handle protrudes from the wall.

After carefully ushering everyone in past the seam, The Reckoner pulls the lever. A loud rumbling begins from somewhere below, and then the room starts to slowly spin! Goldcape tells the others to remember the plan: get Vencarlo and Neolandus, and then get out quick. But The Reckoner says there may be some interesting things to find in the labyrinth, and they shouldn’t necessarily be in a hurry to leave. In a matter of seconds, the spinning stops: the previous entrance has disappeared completely behind a solid wall, but a new exit is visible. The passageway leads in one direction to a new lever, and in the other direction, a mystical symbol on the floor that flashes suddenly before disappearing—a magical trap! Anorak grunts as his body is wreaked with constant pain. The Reckoner realises the group is being scried upon by an almost-invisible magical sensor and alerts Anorak, who is able to dispel it.

Through an oddly-shaped hallway decorated with complex murals of a hot, steaming jungle full of predators, the group open a door into a room that is clearly a test or trap of some sort. Three large wooden chests, their lid decorated with carvings of cavorting tigers, sit against one wall, each with a message in Vudrani carved on the lid. The group hasn’t come prepared for an exercise in translation, but still proceeds cautiously at first. Anorak uses a minor spell to open one of the chests from a distance, revealing a mass of slithering, venomous snakes! The snakes quickly swarm over the explorers, and this is one danger The Reckoner’s hammer can’t solve! But Goldcape saves the day by conjuring spears of ice that impale and freeze the snakes, leaving only a few left to destroy with careful application of alchemist’s fire. The opened chest does yield some minor magical potions, showing that whoever put the trap together had a sense of humor. Goldcape impetuously opens the last two chests despite frantic attempts by the others to dissuade her. One of the chests releases a poisonous gas, while the other is covered in a sticky poison! Both are otherwise completely empty, and only luck (and a strong constitution) keep Goldcape from getting sick.

But luck can’t last forever. As the group explore a side passage, another magical symbol on the floor flashes. Goldcape drops to the ground in a heap, snoring deeply—and this is a slumber she can’t be awakened from!

Tricks and traps pervade the Vivified Labyrinth, and some are obviously quite dangerous. Will the Harrowed Heroes find what they’re looking for before it’s too late?

GM Commentary:

This session is most notable for the first appearance of Anorak, a new PC by a player experiencing Pathfinder and RPGs for the very first time. And unlike some of the early players, this one stuck around! Anorak was a dwarven magus and adventured with the group for quite sometime before meeting an unfortunate end in Scarwall--but more on that later. It took me a bit to come up with explanation for his appearance here, and ended up having to go with the admittedly cliched "prisoner of the bad guys in need of rescue, whose gear just happens to be stashed nearby." But at least I was able to add a bit about the Cerulean Society and the secret door. This session revealed that no one in the party is particularly good at ranged combat, and Anorak learned the hard way that fireball spells don't work so well against rogues that have evasion.

The Vivified Labyrinth (the dungeon) has a really interesting set-up because every time a lever is pulled, four parts of it rotate on their axis, meaning that there are multiple configurations and times where exits are blocked or suddenly open up. I represented it by drawing those areas on then cardboard, cutting them out, and then using blu-tak to hold them in place after each spin. It seemed to work pretty well, though I think I was more impressed with the concept than the players were.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I just realised I suggested characters that are actually Level 6, not Level 5. I've instead placed on the slide a Level 3 character, Jilla.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've got two level 5 PCs raring to go: Siegfried of Daggermark, a rogue who definitely doesn't use poison, and The Shining Knight, a heroic cavalier type.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Excellent! More PFS is always good. I haven't played that one yet. I just need to go through my folder and select a character to propose.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Good to see you back!

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Purchased! Can't wait to see the first new/old/revised PF1 content in years.

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yes, those of us who love first edition got dropped like a hot potato years ago when second edition came along. But for the first time in ages, there's a new Paizo book for PF1: the PFRPG Kingmaker Bestiary. I don't plan to run Kingmaker anytime soon, but I bought this because it's the only way to show Paizo that there's still people ready to shell out bucks for PF1, and that maybe they should throw us a bone once in a while. If you've just stubbed your toe on a glass jar containing $ 40 in coins, bandage your toe and then take that jar to a coin-sorting machine and order the book too. More monsters are always nice, and who knows what might happen!

Got it, thanks.

I was negligent in paying attention to the changeover to ACP (I never use them), and now I can't for the life of me remember what we're supposed to do with boon slotting. Do we still slot boons? Should GMs still remind players to slot boons after the briefing? Thanks!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Recap # 31:

[Fireday, 29 Desnus, 4708 A.R. continued]

The Harrowed Heroes have destroyed a band of fungus-covered skeletons under Arkona Palace. But the victory comes at a cost: Katash, severely weakened by the creatures’ poison, recalls a strange dream he had weeks ago and had forgotten. In the dream, a Varisian fortune-teller performed a reading for him and turned over the cards of Death and The Lost. She interpreted it to foretell that if Katash entered a maze, he would surely die! Shaken from the memory, Katash announces he can’t go any further. He’s going back to the streets of Old Korvosa and help to restore peace to those living in the aftermath of the rioting and plague.

After his departure, the remaining members of the group spread out and look around, confirming they’re on an upper ledge overlooking the sloshing waters of a sea cave far below. A series of rope bridges lead to consecutively lower bridges. As there seems to be nothing of interest (and no secret doors) on the upper ledge, Goldcape carefully tests one of the rope bridges and finds it sturdy enough to lead the group to another ledge that’s about fifty feet above the water. A wooden door has been built into the back wall of the ledge, and a set of large brass doors can be seen inset into a wall near the base of the sea cave. The Reckoner examines the area carefully from above, noticing a wooden pier jutting out into the water. Suddenly, he shouts that there’s a creature submerged in the water! Eager to show off the virtues of his special underwater crossbow, Yraelzin fires a bolt. Although he misses, he comes close enough that the submerged creature surfaces and reveals itself as the largest reefclaw that anyone in the group has ever seen! At the Reckoner’s behest, Goldcape and Yraelzin begin shooting at it from above, but do only minor damage to it before it sinks below the surging waters and vanishes.

The nearby wooden door is opened to reveal a small chamber with nothing more than a simple bed, shelves carved into the walls, and several small animal figurines. Some of the figurines are crude, but others are exquisite and made from valuable materials like coral, redwood, and gold. Unlike the representations of fauna native to Vudra in the palace above, these figurines look to be from creatures common in the wilds of Varisia—geckos, firepelt cougars, and flame drakes.

With nothing else to explore on this ledge, and intent on destroying the reefclaw, The Reckoner ties off his rope so he can descend to the lowest ledge that is only a foot or two above the water. He’s not surprised when the reefclaw clambers out of the water like a predator that has just found prey, but he isn’t prepared for how quickly it moves! It catches him in a powerful claw and starts trying to crush the life out of him! Goldcape sends Rocky to fly down and help, providing just enough of a distraction for The Reckoner to slip free of the enormous reefclaw’s grip. With arrows and spells raining down from above and The Reckoner and Rocky smashing and tearing at it, the creature is badly wounded and tries to swim away. Rocky swims out over the water and delivers a killing blow, but in its death throes, the reefclaw tears into the roc, leaving it badly hurt.

After some magical healing from rapidly-diminishing wands, the group decide to press onwards. The Reckoner puts an ear to the seam in the brass double-doors and hears hissing and a muted voice on the other side. Suspecting they may have found the lair of the darksphinx, he douses his battle-maul with blessed oil and throws open the doors. Four lit braziers illuminate the vast chamber on the other side, a cathedral-like space made all the more immense by its lack of benches or other concessions to comfort. The floor is polished tan marble, with the walls rising up to form a domed ceiling sixty feet above. Alcoves line the walls of the chamber, six in all, inside of which stand human-sized statues of a tiger-headed man. At the far end, a few steps lead up to a pulpit-like area with three more statues of the same figure—the central one being twice as tall and holding out before him two lances from which hang flags of Korvosa and the Arkona coat of arms. But this shrine to House Arkona has not been left unguarded! Two, truly enormous 18’ long immense snakes are here, one of them having recently shed its skin. And feeding on the shed skin is a powerful-looking, tiger headed beast-man!

The giant snakes surge forward after a mere nod from their trainer, and prove to be fearsome not just in size, but also from their deadly venom! Goldcape finds herself weakening with every second and almost at the point of collapsing before she remembers her mystical nature magic can neutralise the poison. She saves herself just in time, and uses the same magic to help The Reckoner, who also finds himself on the wrong end of a cobra’s fangs. The snakes are dispatched relatively quickly, but the beast-man is another matter entirely. Spells of lightning and slowness have absolutely no effect, and the nimble foe darts quickly from target to target leaving everyone—even Yraelzin—wounded. Finally, Yraelzin manages to break one of the beast-man’s defensive enchantments, Goldcape magically manifests spears of ice to wound him, and The Reckoner gets him cornered and starts wailing away with his battle-maul. Although somehow incredibly resistant to harm, he’s eventually defeated. Yraelzin is left bleeding from a jagged kukri slash, Goldcape is limping from a severed tendon, and even The Reckoner shows multiple wounds.

The group patch up their injuries as best they can, search the shrine thoroughly, and then decide to take the risk of resting in the small chamber off the middle ledge. The wooden door is barricaded and, not trusting Yraelzin to keep watch, Goldcape and The Reckoner decide to take turns standing guard.

Although much blood has been shed, there’s as yet no labyrinth and no sign of Vencarlo Orisini or Neolandus Kalepopolis. Have the Harrowed Heroes fallen for a ruse, or have they missed the only path forward?

GM's Commentary:

Katash's player, who was only dropping in for a few sessions, went back to college, so I had to come up with an excuse for the character to depart.

I found the ledges and rope-bridges a bit confusing to map here. I'm not sure if I got them 100% correct, but we muddled through.

There wasn't really any need to kill the reefclaw. Sometimes The Reckoner just gets bloodthirsty!

The tiger-headed creature was a rakshasa. Interestingly, I don't think the group has ever really made the connection between House Arkona, Vudra, and rakshasas!

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It sounds like the problem isn't the biohacker per se, but that other classes have been given options to easily steal/duplicate what should make the biohacker feel special. (A bit like a low-level PF1 spellcaster figuring out how to get knock, jump, detect traps, and invisibility to make the party rogue feel kinda useless.)

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I haven't statted him out, but I always imagined he was a ranger since he runs a horse ranch. But who knows!

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