Activation Cube

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15 posts. Alias of @scottg0.


Two tall sandstone outcroppings rise to the north and south, channeling whistling wind and stinging sand through this pass. The carcass of a giant serpentine beast covered in dried blisters lies in a heap at the gorge’s narrowest point, the body savaged by some powerful predator.

Enigmatic hieroglyphs cover just about every surface of this chamber excavated into the mountain. Bas-relief engravings stretch along the walls all the way from the lofty, tapered ceiling down to floor level, their eerie pictography suggesting an unnerving story. Toppled columns, crumbling shreds of cloth, and potsherds scattered throughout the chamber attest to the place’s abandonment and antiquity. Small holes in the vaulted ceiling let in thin beams of sunlight but do little to illuminate the chamber.

Player Handout #3 wrote:

Loyal Pathfinders,

The Sapphire Sage has requested our help once more as his hunt for the lost order of the Jeweled Sages and their iconic gemstones continues. Amenopheus tells us that Kafar and his pupil Nefti have snatched two of the gems: an emerald and a yellow topaz. It goes without saying that the Aspis Consortium’s involvement in this matter troubles me deeply; I will not have them outwit us as they did my colleague, Hestia. It saddens me that such a pair of brilliant operatives may die before your mission is over, but I would sleep better knowing that they were no longer a threat to the Society. Were that they had chosen to become Pathfinders rather than pawns of the Aspis Consortium!

I hereby deputize the Sapphire Sage Amenopheus to lead this expedition, and you shall assist him in his quest. Remember our tenets: explore, report, and cooperate. I look forward to receiving word of your success.

Venture-Captain Norden Balentiir

Player Handout #2 wrote:

The following are abilities shared by all characters with three mythic tiers or the sage-blessed simple template.

Amazing Initiative (Ex): You gain a +3 bonus on initiative checks. In addition, as a free action on your turn, you can expend one use of mythic power to take an additional standard action during that turn. This additional standard action can’t be used to cast a spell, and you can’t gain an extra action in this way more than once per round.

Hard to Kill (Ex): Whenever you’re below 0 hit points, you automatically stabilize without needing to attempt a Constitution check. If you have an ability that allows you to act while below 0 hit points, you still lose hit points for taking actions, as specified by that ability. Bleed damage still causes you to lose hit points when below 0 hit points. In addition, you don’t die until your total number of negative hit points is equal to or greater than double your Constitution score.

Mythic Power (Su): You can draw upon a wellspring of power to accomplish amazing deeds and cheat fate. This power is used by a number of different abilities. Each day, you have 9 uses of mythic power (those with the sage-blessed simple template receive 11 uses). If an ability allows you to regain uses of your mythic power, you can never have more than this amount.

Recuperation (Ex): You are restored to full hit points after 8 hours of rest so long as you aren’t dead. In addition, by expending one use of mythic power and resting for 1 hour, you regain a number of hit points equal to half your full hit points (up to a maximum of your full hit points) and regain the use of any class features that are limited to a certain number of uses per day (such as barbarian rage, bardic performance, spells per day, and so on). This rest is treated as 8 hours of sleep for such abilities. This rest doesn’t refresh uses of mythic power or any mythic abilities that are limited to a number of times per day.

Surge (Su): You can call upon your mythic power to overcome difficult challenges. You can expend one use of mythic power to increase any d20 roll you just made by rolling 1d6 and adding it to the result. Using this ability is an immediate action taken after the result of the original roll is revealed. This can change the outcome of the roll.

Player Handout #1 wrote:

Sage blessed template

You received a gift of extraordinary power from one of the Jeweled Sages. See Player Handout #3 for more information about these abilities.
Rebuild Rules: Type gain the mythic subtype; Initiative gain the amazing initiative ability; HP increase hit points by 15; Defensive Abilities gain the hard to kill and recuperation abilities; Special Attacks gain the mythic power (11/day), surge, and versatile surge abilities; SQ gain the mythic heroics ability.

Mythic Heroics: Choose two of the following abilities.
Heroic Dodge: You gain a +1 dodge bonus to your AC.
Heroic Resilience: You gain a +1 bonus on saving throws.
Heroic Skills: You gain a +1 bonus on all skill checks and ability checks.
Heroic Speed: Increase your base speed by 10 feet.
Heroic Spellcasting: Increase the saving throw DC of all of your spells by 1.
Heroic Warrior: You gain a +1 bonus on all weapon attack and damage rolls.

Versatile Surge: You can expend one use of mythic power to do any of the following. Except when noted, using this ability is a free action that you can use once per round.
Mystic Might: Increase the caster level of the next spell you cast before the end of your next turn by 2.
Penetrating Strike: Your attacks deal an additional 3 damage and ignore all damage reduction until the end of your next turn.
Savant: When performing a skill check or ability check, you may roll twice and take the higher result.
Unbeatable: As an immediate action, you can reduce the damage you take from one attack, spell, or special ability by 10.

The growing light of predawn filters in through a window of the two-story building that Amenopheus has rented in Eto, and the aging Garundi man takes a seat on one of the cushions set out for this meeting. He produces a sealed letter from his robe, placing it in the middle of the floor before speaking.

“Good morning, Pathfinders. As you know, we have had our share of setbacks recently. Not only have the emerald and topaz gems sacred to my order slipped through our fingers, but we also faced the frustration of finding nothing but fragments of the once great ruby. Thankfully, its power is not lost entirely, and through the Ruby Sage’s blessing, it lives on in you. I am thankful that you have agreed to act on her behalf and see this through to the end.

“As we speak, the scoundrels who seized the two gems cross the Pillars of the Sun to meet their employer, the cryptic Diamond Sage.” He sighs heavily. “What she intends to do with the gems is a mystery, but the sage jewels are too important for me to take risks with. If the power that you wield is representative of a shattered jewel’s potential, imagine what one might accomplish with three undamaged stones! Until we know what her plans are, it is paramount that we get to the jewels first."

“Kafar and Nefti have a rudimentary map of the Pillars of the Sun, and last night I found a bartender who spotted them poring over it between drinks. She recalled little of the map, and she could not make sense of the marks or annotations; however, the right spells have allowed me to probe her mind and determine Kafar and Nefti’s entry point into the mountains. We will follow them from there.” With a somewhat chagrined smile, Amenopheus adds, “It may be that they will lead us to the Sanctum of the Sages, a hidden complex I have long suspected might be in this area.”

He stands and announces, “Prepare yourselves quickly. We shall leave momentarily.”

This large columned chamber shows signs of past comforts, but an ancient battle scorched the walls and ceiling, and cracked and smashed the floor and columns. The remnants of furniture are scattered against the walls, and piles of bodies are stacked in the sleeping alcoves along the south and west walls. A dais crowned with a great, round table rises from the floor in the south part of the room. Three corpses sit around the table as if in conference, each dressed in fine silk robes. A slight breeze whistles through with a sound like a distant, murmuring voice, but there is no sense or meaning in it. An open hallway to the north leads to a natural cavern. Stairs lead downward in the northeast corner of the room, but were buried in stone when the wall collapsed.

The arch around the north entrance to this hallway is covered with detailed carvings depicting the life and accomplishments of a female pharaoh. A charred corpse covered in flecks of glass is visible just inside the hallway.

The ceiling of this natural cavern sparkles with thousands of tiny crystals, while the center of the cave is split by a chasm that wends deeper underground. A stone bridge stretches over the gap. At the center of the bridge rises a black granite obelisk, covered with gems and hieroglyphics. The obelisk is a masterpiece of sculpture, with flawless lines and beautifully rendered images of the past. Large double doors provide an exit to the north while an open archway to the south is covered with wall carvings and leads to a hallway.

The rich scent of palm wine, cinnamon, and myrrh fills this magically illuminated storehouse. Each wall has deep slots filled with papyrus scrolls. A white-and-black marble altar enveloped in faint wisps of faerie fire sits squarely in the center of the room. A ladder to the south leads up to a walkway, with more shelves and a golden sarcophagus.

The relaxing splash of water echoes throughout this tiled room. A large, pristine pool occupies much of the chamber, and a statue of a warrior-maiden serves as the centerpiece, endlessly pouring water from an ornate jar. A large carving on the east wall depicts a frightening man who stares at the viewer, with half his body burnt and ruined and the other half young and healthy. A withered corpse lies in the northwest corner. An open doorway to the south leads to the fortress’ entry hall.

A profound quiet has settled over this timeworn hall. Elegant stone columns line the passage, and hieroglyphics and colorful art depict scenes from a distant age. A small wooden door stands at the east end of the hallway, while a larger door leads south. The sound of steady splashing water is audible through an open passageway to the north, and large stone doors lead outside. One of the pillars has collapsed, and a crushed human corpse lies pinned underneath. The distinctive shape of a wayfinder peers out from under the body’s hand.

The wind gusts about this small courtyard, filling the air with fine grit. Corpses litter the area, little more than bone and desiccated, leathery skin. A dry well occupies the center, surrounded by the remnants of an outdoor market, though even the best tent is tattered and leans precariously. To the east, a set of low steps rise to a set of stone doors surrounded by symmetrical wall carvings of pharaohs. Stairs to the south ascend to the outer wall.

The remainder of the journey through the desert proceeds uneventfully, with only the rise and fall of the dunes to break the monotony. A low, uneven hill of granite appears on the horizon to the northwest, presenting the only shelter for miles around. Although the crag appears solid from a distance, on closer examination there is a wide fissure in the rock sealed by a heavily weathered stone wall fitted with a large iron door.

Relax Camel, nobody said you were getting eaten...yet.