(Savage) Rise of the Runelords AP


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session One - 01-03-2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (monstrous lizard man monk with a heart of gold)

Cariryn : Krogg (abhorred half-orc garbage collector with doomed ambitions of bettering himself)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental)

Steboucha : Antony (amnesiac elf, washed up in Sandpoint with no memories of his previous life)

FESTIVAL & FIRE

The citizens of Sandpoint (a small, yet prosperous fishing community along the Lost Shore) are preparing for the Swallowtail Festival, a celebration to welcome the first day of Autumn. The streets are thronged with local residents and visitors from further afield, all dancing and making merry. But not everyone is enjoying the revelry, a scowling half-orc (Krogg) trundles through the crowds, pushing his red wheelbarrow before him. Meanwhile, a robed figure (Karrack) tries to make himself useful, but is shunned for his bestial visage. Ben converses with a group of drunken fishermen over 'the Late Unpleasantness', while Antony and his adopted family (who found and nursed him back to health, after he washed up wounded outside of town) enjoy a welcome respite from the forge.

At noon, the crowds make their way to the open square before Sandpoint's recently completed cathedral, a grandiose monument dedicated to the worship of Desna, erected after the town's old church was burned to the ground in a mysterious and tragic fire. Hundreds of butterflies are released into the air to the delight of the rabble - especially Karrack, who missed breakfast and apparently considers butterflies a rare delicacy. As Father Zantus tries to restore order for the ritual of consecration, Ben notices a squat figure darting through the crowd, followed by screams and shouts of alarm as a horde of loathsome goblins pour into the crowded square!

As the revellers panic, the heroes engage the goblin raiders, hoping to hold the line while the Sandpoint militia organises a counter-strike to repulse the invading force back into the wilderness. Karrack confronts a goblin armed with nothing but a bogey and only the sage use of an Adventure Card saves Krogg from a humiliating, soup-related fatality. Ben spends most of the combat trying to pull a cowering goblin out from beneath a wagon, while another of the little bastards throws plates at Antony's head.

After defeating the first wave of goblins, the party are reinforced by Sheriff Hemlock and a small band of militiamen. In light of the threat to the town, the Sheriff is convinced to deputize the PC's and dispatches them to deal with another group of marauding goblins laying siege to the Rusty Dragon Inn. On route, Karrack saves a small child from being crushed beneath the wheels of a runaway cart.

DIE, DOG, DIE!

Reaching the Rusty Dragon, the heroes find a group of goblins tormenting a cowering nobleman, having already killed his loyal hunting hound. Sabotaging any chance the party had of taking the goblins by surprise, Karrack announces that he feels no remorse for the slaughter of dog-slayers and wades into battle, the others have little choice but to follow suit.

Wiping out the enemy, the group rescue the nobleman, only to discover he's a bit of an a+%~++!#. Aldern Foxglove thanks his saviours and insists that they join him on a hunting expedition once things have settled down a little.

LOCAL HEROES

Having played a pivotal role in the defence of the town, the PC's are celebrated as local heroes, even Krogg is treated with slightly less disdain than would ordinarily be the case. Encouraged by Ben to seek social advancement in the light of his heroic conduct, Krogg approaches Sheriff Hemlock and asks to join the militia. His request is doomed after he experiences a moment of nauseating flatulence in the enclosed garrison, forcing the building to be evacuated and birthing concerns than the goblins may have engineered some form of biological agent with which to attack the town.

Antony is approached by Shayliss Vinder, the lustful daughter of the general store owner, but her clumsy attempts to seduce the handsome elf are foiled when he insists on declaring his intentions to her over-protective father - and is subsequently forbidden from ever entering his store - or his daughter - again, on pain of death.

Meanwhile, the other PC's are contacted by Aldern Foxglove and invited to join him on a boar hunt in Tickwood. Krogg and Ben meet the nobleman at the north gate and are loaned horses and spears. Karrack is deeply offended by the notion of slaying so noble a beast for the benefit of a privileged few and demands that whatever the hunting party kill is gifted to the poor, some of whom are starving, after the goblins put their winter stores to the torch. Foxglove laughs in his scaly face and rides off, leaving the Saurian monk to trudge after them.
Ben manages to track down a boar and the party dismount and wait to meet its charge... or at least, Ben and Foxglove do. Krogg, who clearly has no appreciation for the long established traditions of the hunt, hurls his spear across the clearing, skewering the beast from tusk to tail. While Foxglove berates the barbaric churl for his utter lack of gentility, Karrack emerges from the foliage and makes off with the boar's carcass. Foxglove objects and a tug of war over possession of the dead pig ensures, which the nobleman loses. The PC's host a feast for the poverty stricken and become folk heroes amongst the penniless beggars of Sandpoint, but simultaneously make an enemy of Aldern Foxglove.

A few nights later, the PC's are approached by a frantic woman, whose domestic bliss has been shattered by a rogue goblin, left behind enemy lines when the rest of his tribe retreated, following the recent raid. Exploring the house, the group find the poor woman's husband jammed into a cupboard, his face half eaten by the hungry wretch lurking beneath the floorboards. Unused to such gristly sights, Antony's stomach revolts and he is sick out of the window. The goblin launches itself out of the shadows, slashing at Ben's throat before scrambling for freedom. Karrack tackles the wretched creature on the stairs and demands to know who masterminded the assault on Sandpoint and why. The group establish the raid was incited by a sinister woman with white hair, scars on her belly and "a scary hand". They also discover the goblins were instructed to cause as much mayhem as possible, while other agents of the sinister woman stole something from the Sandpoint cemetery. The goblin doesn't know what was stolen, and having outlived his usefulness, the PC's execute him. The party wrap the dead husband's cannibalised cadaver in a sheet and carry it out into the street. Antony tries and fails to comfort the weeping widow. Krogg inadvertently steps on a trailing edge of the shroud, revealing the mutilated corpse to the assembled crowd, resulting in much fainting and projectile vomit.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Two / Part One - 08/03/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (monstrous lizard man monk with a heart of gold)

Cariryn : Krogg (abhorred half-orc garbage collector with doomed ambitions of bettering himself)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental)

Steboucha : Antony (amnesiac elf, washed up in Sandpoint with no memories of his previous life)

Crusader Hank: Rast (greedy dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching)

GRIM NEWS FROM MOSSWOOD

The following morning, the party enjoy a hearty breakfast before following up on the leads uncovered after their interrogation-come-execution of the goblin commando. They make a beeline for the Sandpoint cemetery and quiz the hideous, hunchbacked undertaker on any curious activity in the boneyard of late. They learn that the grave of the late Father Tobyn (the predecessor of Father Zantus) has been dug up and the skeletal remains of the dead priest exhumed. Jumping into the sodden grave, Krogg discovers traces of gold dust in the bottom of the empty coffin. At the mention of gold, Rast practically hurls himself into the hole head first and starts scraping up the precious flakes with his fat, sausage fingers. Searching the area around the desecrated tomb, the group find more trace elements of gold in the dewy grass, leading to the wall, where they find a ladder discarded in the overgrown bushes. Clambering over the wall, the party lose the glittering trail in Tickwood, so return to town to peruse the old church records, hoping to establish why the goblins were so interested in the earthly remains of a decaying clergyman.
Father Zantus welcomes the group to the newly consecrated cathedral and grants them access the parish records. Rast delves into the investigation with great gusto and discovers that the late Father Tobyn burned to death in the conflagration that destroyed the old Sandpoint chapel. The priest's adopted daughter, Nualia, also perished in the blaze, though no body was ever found....

Later that day, the heroes are summoned to the town hall to attend a council with Mayor Deverin, Sheriff Hemlock and Shalelu Andosana, an elven ranger recently returned from the depths of Mosswood with grim news. Apparently, the five goblin tribes along the Lost Coast (the Birdcruncher tribe, the Licktoad tribe, the Seven Tooth tribe, the Thistletop tribe and the Mosswood tribe) have been united under a single chief and given a single, driving purpose - the utter destruction of Sandpoint! Sheriff Hemlock departs for Magnimar, hoping to raise reinforcements to support the local garrison if the goblins do return in overwhelming numbers. He renews the groups' deputy status and asks them to keep the peace in Sandpoint while he is away, as the townsfolk still talk of their heroic actions during the goblin raid.

THE MISSING BARTENDER

Rast begins trawling through the garrison's archive, looking for more information about the Sandpoint fire, but becomes sidetracked by records regarding the Chopper - an insane serial killer who plagued the town five years previously, enjoying a string of gruesome murders before he was eventually killed. Rast is disappointed in his search for evidence of a gold mine in the area, but does discover an obscure report of several sacks of gold dust being stolen from the Sandpoint Glassworks (as gold dust is sometimes used as a reagent to create red/yellow coloured glass). Before the dwarven sleuth can reveal this discovery to his new companions, the group are approached by a frantic halfling woman, whom they recognise as the cook from the Rusty Dragon. She tells the party her employer, Ameiko Kaijitsu, has gone missing, leaving nothing but a curious note penned in an unfamiliar hand. Skimming the mysterious correspondence, the group realise that Ameiko has been summoned to a midnight rendezvous with her estranged half-brother Tsuto Kaijitsu, at the Glassworks. In light of Rast's discovery amidst the militia's dusty records, the heroes decide Ameiko's well-being is in jeopardy and make haste to the Glassworks, hoping they are not too late....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Two / Part Two - 08/03/2012

WRATH AND GLASS

As the sun dips over the ocean, bathing the streets of Sandpoint in its dusky light, Krogg leads the party to the rear, delivery entrance of the Glassworks. Rast attempts to pick the lock, before realising the portal doesn't appear to have a keyhole. Rather, he wedges it shut with a hard crust of dwarven bread, to prevent anyone within fleeing out the back door when the party storm the front of the building. Meanwhile, Antony scales the wall to peer in through one of the tall, exterior windows. The glass is frosted, but he can make out diminutive figures capering within, illuminated by the sullen, red glow of the smelting furnace.
Circling around to the front of the Glassworks, Rast picks the lock and the party creep stealthily inside. Or at least, Krogg, Karrack, Ben and Rast creep stealthily... Antony, on the other hand, swaggers in as though he owns the place, blundering clumsily into a display of ornate glass work. Rast makes a dive to catch the tumbling trinkets, but they slip through his (fat, sausage) fingers and shatter against the floor. Fortunately, whoever occupies the Glassworks doesn't appear to have noticed the din.

Sneaking through a hive of dark, empty workshops, the trespassing heroes soon reach the large, glass-working crucible, into which Antony caught an earlier glimpse. Bursting into the area with their weapons drawn, they find Ameiko Kaijitsu trussed up and surrounded by gibbering goblins, her half-elven, half-brother Tsuto Kaijitsu looming over her, gloating maniacally, before commanding his minions to throw her into the furnace. As two of the goblins manhandle the missing innkeeper towards the flames, the party leap into action! Krogg, Rast and Karrack charge the milling goblins, while Ben and Antony hang back and rain arrows on Tsuto - who returns fire and wounds the human ranger (the damage would have been more grievous had Ben not rolled so bloody well on his Soak roll). Karrack leaps up onto the long worktable and sprints along its length, bypassing the goblins thronged to either side and whittling their numbers down with shuriken, before the dwarf and half-orc crash into their front line. The Saurian monk is tackled - and both reptile and runt fall to the floor in one writhing mass of tangled limbs.
Overconfident in their martial supremacy over their little, green adversaries, the party are lured into overextending themselves - then yet more goblins flood the room from all sides, surrounding and outnumbering the surprised heroes. Escalating the situation further still, Krogg plays the Angry Mob Adventure Card and the players are reinforced by a horde of militia men from the Sandpoint garrison, responding to reports of a break in at the Glassworks. The ill-trained but enthusiastic guards burst into the building through doors and windows - even rappelling from the skylights like some medieval SWAT unit. The tide of battle turns against Tsuto and his goblin allies and they try to flee. Ben casts Entangle, frustrating their attempted escape with thick, clinging vines that snake around their legs. Although two of the goblins get away (and disappear into an old smuggling tunnel beneath the town), Antony puts an arrow through Tsuto's (once handsome) face, and down he goes, dead or dying.

Ben overcomes his animosity for Tsuto (who did shoot him, after all) and grudgingly consents to heal the villain, though nobody takes any pains to remove the arrow sticking out of what used to be his nose. Once he regains consciousness, the group find he will not answer their questions without a powerful incentive to talk. Antony provides such an incentive by yanking on the arrow still protruding from his face. Once he regains consciousness (again), he reveals that the goblin tribes are being mustered at Thistletop by a woman called Nualia, who shares his own hatred for the people of Sandpoint. They learn Nualia was alienated by her adopted parent (the late Father Tobyn, whose body was recently stolen from the town cemetery) after she became pregnant to a Varisian gypsy. She burnt down the church in which they lived, killing the old priest in the process and fled. Since then, she has found favour with a dark, unwholesome deity - and has returned to the Lost Coast with the power to wipe Sandpoint and its citizenry off the map.

The party leave Tsuto in the custody of the militia and return to the Rusty Dragon with Ameiko, who seems to have taken an unfathomable shine to Rast, despite the liberties the lecherous dwarf took to paw at her bound figure - or perhaps because of them.... (Quirk: Kinky sex games?). They brief Shalelu Andosana on their nights diversion and bombard the elven ranger with questions about Thistletop, since it appears they will be assaulting the place in the near future. Shalelu agrees to support their attack on the goblin fortress and the group resolve to head north the next day.

Meanwhile, ever since he read about the Chopper, Rast's grubby, dwarven soul has been consumed with the notion to search the abandoned house on Chopper's Isle (universally shunned by the local populous due to rumours of the killer's malevolent spirit haunting the burnt wreckage) for the murderers hidden treasure cache. Somehow, he convinces Karrack to accompany him on this scavenger hunt/suicide mission and the next morning they cross the sandbar to the foreboding islet. The pair ascend the broken stair and enter the blackened skeleton of the old house. Immediately, Karrack's eyes begin to ache, as though something unseen were worrying them with a rusty splinter. Consumed by goldlust, Rast drops into the dark, spooky basement through a gaping hole in the floor and discovers a creepy altar to a sinister, bird-like demon. He doesn't notice the Chopper's vengeful ghost materialising above him until Karrack yelps in surprise. The murderous spectre tries to put out Rast's eyes with its ethereal, blade-like fingers, Rast is so scared he is permanently marked by the harrowing experience, one of his eyes bulges comically and begins to roll around in its socket like a marble in a cup. Noticing the dagger he looted of Tsuto is glowing in response to the ghost's presence (it must be magical, hurray!), Rast jabs the ghost with the pointy end, causing the hateful apparition to vanish with a howl that rattles the foundations of the crumbling house. With the Chopper's ghost banished, the demon altar is sundered and Rast discovers a sinister grimoire. Vindicated (there was treasure after all!), Rast (and Karrack) returns to the Rusty Dragon and hands the book over to Ben. the only party member with any degree of magical aptitude. After a brief examination of the unsettling text, Ben discovers a new spell, enabling him to shape-change his body into the form of a small, evil looking bird.

The group set out for Thistletop with Shalelu Andosana as their guide. We rejoin them there next week!

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Three/Part One - 15/03/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (monstrous lizard man monk with a heart of gold, fighting for the liberation of goblins everywhere!)

Cariryn : Krogg (abhorred half-orc garbage collector with doomed ambitions of bettering himself)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental)

Steboucha : Antony (amnesiac elf, washed up in Sandpoint with no memories of his previous life)

Crusader Hank: Rast (greedy dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket)

With Shalelu Andosana to guide them across the wilderness, the heroes travel north along the coast until they reach the lightly forested outskirts of Nettlewood. Surveying the ramshackle goblin fortifications through his spyglass, Rast is unable to perceive any approach to Thistletop other than the heavily guarded rope-bridge leading right up to the front door. The stocky dwarven rogue decides to swim across to the island upon which the goblins have erected their stronghold, in the (somewhat desperate) hope that an alternative means of infiltration will present itself. Karrack volunteers to go with him, hoping to keep the little fellow out of trouble. It transpires that Rast is not so competent a swimmer as he imagined himself to be (sinking like a bearded brick the moment he is out of his depth) and his Saurian ally is forced to act as a buoyancy aid to save him from a watery grave. All is going swimmingly (haha!) until something with altogether too many teeth chomps down on Karrack's long, scaly tail. Having attracted the predatory attentions of a bunyip (imagine a cross between a bloodthirsty shark and a loveable seal), Karrack and Rast paddle for the dubious safety of the rocks. The bunyip soon loses interest in its prey, after Karrack puts out one of its eyes with a taloned fist.

Meanwhile, Ben decides to trial his new spell and perform some aerial reconnaissance of the goblin positions. He intones the words of power from the sinister grimoire that Rast plundered from the Chopper's haunted basement - and alters his form into that of a small, evil looking bird (with oily black feathers and three, glowing red eyes). Unknown to Ben, in doing so he has bared his soul to a dark and terrible entity, possessed of an insatiable - and unconventional - appetite.
Perched atop the goblin fortifications, Ben watches the compound below for any sign of a woman matching Nualia's description. Instead, he spots the Thistletop warchief riding around on the back of a giant gecko, a battered crown of scrap metal perched atop his misshapen brow. Taking wing once more, Ben swoops down to circle Karrack and Rast as they sit shivering amidst the jagged rocks at the base of the island. Landing in a cave mouth 50ft up the sheer side of the cliff, Ben transforms back into his human shape and lowers a rope to his two soggy friends.

Twiddling his thumbs as Rast and Karrack make their leisurely ascent, Ben is unpleasantly surprised when a rubbery tentacle snakes around his neck and wrenches him off his feet. A second, spiked feeler pierces the ranger's armour and skewers his torso, pumping organ-liquefying venom into his chest. Unable to break free of the Tentamort's deadly embrace, it falls to Rast to prevent the lurking horror from turning Ben into a gruesome, human milkshake.
Having defeated the mummy Tentamort, Ben, Karrack and Rast must deal with the creature's vile spawn, as the baby tentamorts burst out of the bloated corpse of the creature's last victim. Meanwhile, back on the coast, Krogg and Antony grow weary of waiting for the others to return and - having hijacked a small fishing vessel - row across to investigate the disappearance of their friends.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Three/Part Two - 15/03/2012

The group enjoy a welcome interlude, as Ben recovers from his tentacular tussle, before delving deeper into the dungeon beneath Thistletop. 'Tasting' the air with his long, lizardy tongue, Karrack takes the lead, following the goblin stink pervading the tunnels. Soon, the party come to a pair of enormous, stone double-doors, their faces carved with images of horrific, deformed monsters clawing their way out of pregnant women of all races. Repressing a shared shudder, the group decide to leave that grim portal alone for a while. Their aimless blundering leads to a gallery of goblin 'art' and Krogg pauses to admire a portrait of Warchief Ripnugget, smeared on the wall with what may or may not be poo.

The next chamber they enter is a cluttered workroom, littered with archaeological tools, dog-eared manuscripts and stone tablets covered in dense, spiky runes. The desk is occupied by an attractive, dusky skinned woman (Lyrie Akenja) and her beloved moggy. Glancing up from her studies as the party intrude upon her personal space, she demands to know what the devil they think they're up to, interrupting her important work at such a pivotal moment?! Her eyes begin to glaze over as Karrack starts banging on about her tyrannical oppression of the indigenous greenskins. Questioning the confused woman, they learn she is an academic hired by Nualia to investigate the ancient vault beneath Thistletop - and establish if there is any truth to the goblin's belief that a powerful monster is sealed therein.
Unimpressed by Lyrie's dispassionate, mercenary attitude towards the fate of Sandpoint should Nualia turn this slumbering behemoth loose upon the Varisian countryside, Antony slaps her upside the face and binds her hands behind her back. When her pet cat hisses at this unprovoked mistreatment of its mistress, Rast stabs it (which does little to raise Lyrie's already pretty poor opinion of the party). Not that her feelings matter for long, as when nobody is paying attention, Rast stabs her too - and since his dagger has been coated in organ-liquefying tentamort venom, her lingering demise will be neither quick nor painless. Blissfully ignorant of the murderous dwarf's penchant for acts of spontaneous homicide, Antony continues to haul the dying woman around with him.

Before they gagged her, Lyrie had directed her captors to Nualia's quarters, and it is in this general direction that the party now amble. Growing weary of the group's womanly dithering, Krogg takes the lead and barges into a harem of Ripnugget's goblin concubines, who seem excessively excited by the sudden appearance of this half-orc stallion. Coquettishly, they enquire if that is a longsword in his britches, or is he just happy to see them...? It transpires that it was a longsword after all, which Krogg draws from its sheath and sets to hacking the warchief's hideous courtesans into so much bloody meat, before they dare utter another indecent proposition.

Searching the chambers belonging by Nualia and her favoured lackeys, the party find only one room is currently occupied. They confront Orik Vancaskerkin, who is honing the edge on his blade in anticipation of trouble. He is unmoved the party's condemnation of Nualia's cause, having taken her gold to serve as her bodyguard. He challenges the group to fight him honourably, only to be dishonourably butchered before he can even strap on his armour.
Searching Nualia's chambers, Rast discovers the wicked woman's diary, which turns out to be a real page turner. Skimming through her angst-filled teenage years in Sandpoint, Rast reaches the juicy stuff regarding her servitude to Lamashtu, the Mother-Goddess of all Monsters. Realising that Nualia stole her father's skeleton so as to sacrifice it to Lamashtu in a ritual to gain infernal powers, the party rush back to the chapel and burst through the creepy double-doors that they bypassed earlier, praying they are not too late to interrupt Nualia's demonic transformation

Their charge breaks against a mob of mutant goblins (twisted by Lamashtu's corrupting influence), while Nualia releases the hellish Yeth Hounds chained to the altar. One of the demon hounds damn near tears out Rast's throat, soaking the dwarf's bushy beard in blood. After several arrows ricochet off her plate armour, Nualia loses patience with the cowardly archers and wades into the fray, laying her foes asunder with her +1 serrated longsword. Exploiting a weakness in Karrack's defences, Nualia prepares to deliver a mortal wound - but before her blade can bite into his scaly flesh, Krogg hurls himself into the path of the weapon, taking the damage instead of the Saurian monk. Shaking off his wounds, Krogg brings his own sword to bare and overcomes Nualia in a frenzied hurricane of steel. Searching her body, the party find a curious medallion inscribed with a seven pointed star that positively throbs with plot significance.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Four - 22/03/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary)

Cariryn : Krogg (Brutish half-orc garbage collector, has traded his wheelbarrow in for a life of adventure)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Steboucha : Antony (amnesiac elf, washed up in Sandpoint with no memories of his previous life)

Crusader Hank: Rast (sausage-fingered dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket)

Having slain Nualia, the party toss her father's skeletal remains into a sack, to be returned to the consecrated earth of Sandpoint's cemetery. Poking around the prison adjacent to the demonic chapel, they rescue a wounded dwarf from a cage suspended over a smouldering fire pit. He offers them no thanks, possibly because the goblins have cut out his tongue. Unprepared to burden themselves with a second loafing dwarf, the rest of the party fob the mute off on Shalelu Andonsana and pack the pair of them off for Sandpoint with news of Nualia's defeat.

While most of the group are eager to leave Thistletop for the various goblin tribes to bicker over, Karrack somehow persuades them to help him free the wretched greenskins from the tyrannical yoke of oppression. Whether the others actually support his noble quest - or simply saw an opportunity to plunder the rest of the goblin stronghold remains ambiguous.
The goblins have discovered the blaze in Nualia's sanctum and are organising a bucket chain to extinguish the flames. Taking advantage of the confusion, the party ascend to the upper levels, emerging into an open courtyard, overlooked by two sagging guard towers. A number of dead goblins litter the ground outside a large shed, from within which something is raising an ungodly racket. Several mangy goblin dogs converge on the party, barking and growling threateningly.
Against all common sense and self-preservation, Ben decides that sometimes it's better the devil you don't know - and lifts the bar across the outhouse door, releasing whatever manner of beast is raging inside. The ranger barely manages to avoid being caught in a cloud of splinters as the portal bursts open and a huge, magnificent warhorse in full barding erupts into the courtyard - eyes rolling madly, its mouth frothing with white foam! Alerted by the clamour, the goblin archers up in the two towers notch arrows and prepare to loose. Recognising the danger, Karrack vaults onto the back of the rampaging steed, then somersaults up into one of the towers! The Saurian monk knocks one of the marksmen out of the tower with his tail, the second surrenders and pledges his (somewhat dubious) allegiance to the benevolent lizardman.
Meanwhile, Krogg and Antony begin clambering up the outside of the other tower. Once the half-orc reaches the top, he makes short, gory work of the archers, then leaps through a trapdoor in the floor in search of more goblin blood in which to bathe his sword.
While the half-orc berserker runs amok, Ben turns his attention to the stampeding stallion. After its third attempt to kick Rast's brains out through the back of his thick, dwarven skull, the ranger casts Entangle, lassoing the horse with a length of magical rope. Surmising that the warhorse formerly belonged to Nualia's bodyguard (Orik Vancaskerkin) and that he's hardly going to have further need of it (being dead), Ben soothes the animal's ire and claims it for himself.

Seducing the goblin with promises of a brighter future, Karrack convinces his new best friend (Snot) to betray Warchief Ripnuggget. The party challenge the goblin leader for command of the tribe, putting Krogg forward as their champion. Rignugget rejects their proposal and mounts his giant gecko, then scales the wall of his throne room, beyond the reach of Krogg's blade (which Rast was thoughtful enough to smear in his last dose of tentamort venom). While the rest of the party whittles away the warchief's surplus of bodyguards, Krogg rages at the cowardly chieftan as he scrambles across the ceiling on the back of his sure-footed mount. Ben manages to dislodge the oversized newt, which crashes to the ground, spilling its rider from the saddle. Before Krogg can grab the slippery bastard, Ripnugget flees into his private rooms behind the throne. The half-orc gives chase and catches Rignugget as he attempts to escape down a stinking latrine. Krogg hacks the former warchief's body into bloody ruin, then fishes around amongst the entrails for epic loot.

Abandoned by their warchief, the surviving goblins (and the gecko) yield. Karrack dons Ripnugget's (bloodstained) crown, mounts the giant gecko and rides out to formally address his subjects. Warchief Karrack announces to what's left of the Thistletop tribe that they will be migrating south to Tickwood, an area of dense forest within a stones throw of Sandpoint, where they will found a new community and become respectable citizens of the Empire. Karrack sets to herding the milling goblins down the coast, while the rest of the party scour the abandoned stronghold for Ripnugget's treasure cache. Ultimately, it's Rast who discovers it, after fishing in the warchief's reeking latrine with his grappling hook (I'm sure he had his reasons....).

The party return to Sandpoint as heroes, apart from Karrack who is initially assumed to have defected to the goblins side, when he first appeared at the head of a great goblin army. He and his love interest (thanks Adventure Card!) Shalelu Andosana begin construction of the goblin's new settlement and assign Snot the important position of Human-Goblin Liaison Officer. Krogg is promoted to the rank of Sergeant within the Sandpoint militia. Antony continues searching for clues as to his identity and Ben fights the demonic compulsion to start harvesting eyeballs from the general populous. Finally, Rast is besieged by murderous cats who yowl outside his window at night and claws at his face during the day. He suspects he has been cursed and ponders how best to implement absolute feline genocide.

Thus concludes Burnt Offerings!

Next week... The Skinsaw Murders!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Five/One - 29/03/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary, founder of goblin shanty town in Tickwood)

Cariryn : Krogg (Half-Orc man-at-arms, promoted to the rank of Sergeant)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Steboucha : Aereon (Antony's super-magical uncle)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Rogue Alchemist, haunted by malevolent moggies)

A month has passed since the parties triumphant return from Thistletop. Relations between the Sandpoint citizenry and the freshly founded goblin colony of Hope (or Stinkpoint, as the locals have christened it) are strained. The villagers blame the new arrivals for the sudden predations upon the town's cat culture. The real culprit (Rast) is happy to let the greenskins take the fall, as he continues to wage his one-dwarf campaign against his feline persecutors. Rast does take an afternoon off from his sudden enthusiasm for amateur alchemy to rig the harpy wings (that he took from Ripnugget's trophy room) with a wooden frame. Observed by a crowd of curious spectators, the mad dwarf clambers to the tallest point of the Sandpoint cathedral and chucks himself off the edge. Those expecting a dwarf-shaped splatter on the ground are disappointed, when his makeshift hang-glider catches the wind and Rast soars majestically across the rooftops.
Meanwhile, Antony tends to the mute dwarf (who the party rescued from Thistletop's dungeons). Despite his scars/bruising, the tongue-less fellow's face stirs memories in the half-elf's addled brain. Once restored to health, the dwarf explains (using secret sign language) how he was dispatched by the masters of the monastery where Antony had been training - under his real name, Solaris - to investigate the disappearance of their champion. Antony accompanies the dwarf back to their mountain sanctuary to resume his instruction in the sacred arts, but does arrange for his super-magical uncle Aereon to travel to Sandpoint and aid the party in their continuing struggle.

Sheriff Hemlock approaches Sergeant Krogg and asks him to gather the rest of the gang, to discuss a dire new threat to the town. Once assembled, the Sheriff speaks of a series of gristly murders and asks the group to bring the killer to justice. The party are disturbed to discover the rune carved into the victim's flesh is identical to that on the medallion they lifted from Nualia's corpse. Worse still, the culprit left a note at the scene implicating Karrack in the crime!
The party rush to the Sandpoint sawmill, where the latest two bodies were found only this morning. A crowd of gawking onlookers have gathered outside, but Krogg persuades them to piss off. The first victim (Banny Harker) is only recognisable by a distinctive tattoo across his back, since the killer took the liberty of eating his face, before carving the seven pointed star into his chest. The second 'body' belonged to the sister of Shayliss Vinder (the wench who tried to seduce Antony in Week 1), although after being thrown into the wood-chipper, there's not all that much of a body left. It turns out that Uncle Aereon has as delicate a disposition as his handsome nephew and staggers back outside to throw up into the river.
Searching for clues, the party find a trail of muddy footprints that stink of turned meat. The tracks originate from - and return to - the river. Karrack, Ben and Uncle Aereon range up and down both banks, looking for more tracks, but find nothing.

Exhausting all their leads, the group decide to interview the only witness of the first three murders (a trio of greedy conmen killed and mutilated in a barn south of town), who has been detained at an isolated sanatorium. Krogg negotiates entry to the asylum, thanks to the Sheriff's letter of introduction. Erin Habe (the doctor in charge) and his two lumbering orderlies escort the party to the deranged man's cell. The lunatic is gibbering about his 'new family' and the Skinsaw Man who 'unmade him'. When the maniac spots Karrack standing outside his padded room, his eyes bulge and he relays a message from 'His Lordship'; "He said that the bodies you are finding are signs and portents; that when he is done, you shall be remembered forever and the Misgivings shall be your throne!”
Then it all goes a bit Chthulhu....

The inmates neck snaps backwards at a grotesque angle and his straitjacket begins to ripple and swell, like a cocoon about to disgorge some monstrous larvae. The fabric tears and the creature's four powerful, grey limbs (tipped with jagged claws, oozing brown blood that stinks of rotting meat) snap out to slash at the orderlies trying to subdue it. The vile fiend scuttles up the wall and across the ceiling, grabbing Karrack and hurling the Saurian monk down a flight of stairs. Fortunately, super-magical Uncle Aereon is there to save the day, blasting the undead horror into soup with spears of crackling lightning.
On some slim pretext, Ben decapitates the body, then scoops out and pockets the abomination's sightless, staring eyeballs (the good doctor confiscates the head). While Krogg raids the orderlies lunch and Rast rifles through the belongings of the other inmates, Karrack rolls the ghoul's headless carcass down the hill to Habe's cottage, breaks in and burns the body in the hearth. As the party prepare to leave, a storm breaks and Krogg borrows the good doctor's umbrella (and is almost struck by lightning). The group spend the night in the same barn where the Skinsaw Man slaughtered his first three victims.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Five/Two - 29/03/2012

Returning to Sandpoint the next morning, the party are intercepted by a distraught rustic, who implores the characters to clear out the terrible creatures infesting his cornfields. The old farmer's breath stinks of whisky, but even in his muddled state, the fiends that he describes sound uncomfortably familiar to the heroes, having just put down a similar entity at Habe's asylum. They agree to investigate the drunkard's concerns and Sergeant Krogg convinces the Sheriff to loan the party a handful of the militia's horses, to hasten their journey to the haunted homestead. Before they depart, Ben convinces Rast to show him where he buys such fine glassware, but a misjudged attempt at persuasion (to convince the merchant to apply a discount to marked prices) leaves the atmosphere charged with homoerotic possibility.

They reach the desolate stretch of abandoned farmland as dusk yields the sky to an early twilight. Noticing a number of ominous scarecrows have been erected amidst the rows of whispering corn, Ben begins using them for target practise. Suddenly, Rast notices that a number of the poles previously occupied by the straw men are now conspicuously vacant. As he turns in his saddle to warn the others, one of the ghouls attacks! While the wound is not deep, the brown slime coating the creature's claws leaves the rogue alchemist paralysed for 2 combat rounds, as the fiend tries to drag him from the horses back. The cornfield is full of undead horrors that begin to shriek and howl maniacally as they close in around the mounted party. Ben leads a desperate charge towards the dubious safety of the ramshackle barn beyond the blighted cropland - only for another horde of the gibbering, grey ghouls to erupt from within.

While Uncle Aereon and Karrack defend the helpless dwarf from the flesh-hungry monsters, Ben and Krogg trample the new threat beneath the iron-shod hooves of their screaming mounts (in retrospect, I should have made the horses make Spirit rolls or rear and flee from combat, meh). The half-orc's horse goes down, but fortunately Krogg manages to avoid being trapped beneath the animal's blood-soaked flank. Having turned the tide of battle (if bennies were legal tender, the party would have spent enough to buy a modestly priced car), the remaining ghouls flee into the bosom of darkness. As the party go about the gristly business of ensuring that none of the fallen creatures are playing possum, they discover one of the fiends is wearing a chain about its neck, from which hangs a tarnished, silver key. The key is emblazoned with a familiar crest, that Krogg, Karrack and Ben immediately recognise as belonging to their old friend, Aldern Foxglove.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Six (Part One) - 05/04/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary, hero of goblins and founder of Hope/Stinkpoint)

Cariryn : Krogg (Brutish half-orc garbage collector, has traded his wheelbarrow in for a life of adventure)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Crusader Hank: Rast (sausage-fingered dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket)

James: Snot (my nine year old stepson, guest starring as Snot the Goblin for one week only)

Having vanquished the horde of flesh-ravening ghouls infesting the old Hambly farmstead, the party pile up the fallen creatures with their partially digested victims/supper and set the whole lot ablaze (although, not before Rast goes rummaging amongst the entrails for whatever loot the undead may have overlooked). As the heroes toast marshmallows over the crackling pyre, Snot the Goblin (assigned to the role of Human-Goblin Liaison Officer by Karrack) trots up astride a mangy goblin dog and relays to the Saurian insurgent that the murderer they seek has struck again - and this time his victims were among the goblin residents of Hope. The group mount up and ride for Sandpoint, galvanising the woefully unprepared locals to prepare for the onslaught of undead horrors that they believe is imminent!
Pits are excavated, spikes are sharpened and barricades erected. The daunting task of convincing the leaders of Sandpoint (Mayor Deverin, Sheriff Hemlock & Father Zantus) that an alliance of necessity between humans and goblins is the only way for the community to endure the shadow of doom befalling them falls to Karrack. Against all odds, the lizard man's impassioned plea convinces the council of their peril and orders are given to abandon Hope (haha, very witty Krogg) and relocate all greenskins to the Sandpoint slums.

Once they are certain the militia are not going to get their asses handed to them by the first couple of ghouls that chance to wander up, the heroes set out for Misgivings (the aptly named seat of the Foxglove family), in the hope of severing the head of the (metaphorical, undead) serpent plaguing their town. Deciding to take the scenic route around the goblin-infested Brinestump Marsh - as opposed to slogging straight through the middle - it takes the mounted party several hours to reach the dilapidated mansion overlooking the sea (while Karrack does ultimately hope to make model citizens of the marsh goblins, he acknowledges now is possibly not the best time to embark upon such an undertaking).

Karrack detects the familiar taint of rotting ghoul-flesh in the briny air, the scent is strongest beside the collapsed well in the burnt-out ruins of the old servants outbuilding. While the Saurian seriously considers lowering Snot down the hole on a length of rope - to establish if anything is lurking in the darkness below - the others watch a couple of unhealthy looking black carrion birds circle overhead. Krogg thinks he glimpses a pale-faced woman watching them from a grime-encrusted attic window, but before he can mention this to his friends, a congress (thanks, Gary!) of zombie ravens force the party to seek the dubious sanctuary of the mansion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Six (Part Two) - 05/04/2012

No sooner have the party escaped the cadaverous congress, when they are confronted by a fearsome manticore! But wait - it's only a stuffed animal, albeit a frightening one. Clearly, someone in the Foxglove family had a morbid interest in amateur taxidermy.
Exploring the ground floor of the seemingly abandoned estate, the group enter a dingy dance hall with a sagging ceiling, the crystal chandelier that once hung there now a jagged wreckage across the warped floorboards. Snot scampers over and starts filling his grubby pockets with the sparkly shards (cutting his fingers to bloody red ruin in the process). Meanwhile, Rast approaches the grand piano, when a jaunty (yet discordant) Varisian dance number begins to play. Rast begins to prance and gambol around the room with an invisible dance partner. The others are laughing too hard to do anything about his bizarre predicament. (From Rast's perspective, the ruined hall is restored to its formed splendour and he is tripping the light fantastic with a beautiful, raven-haired woman. As the music grows ever more grating, his consort's flesh turns grey, her eyes pop from their sockets and her hair comes loose in wild clumps). It is only when Rast starts screaming that Ben bothers to hack the evil piano into so much firewood and the dancing dwarf is released from his torment.

From the adjacent room, a desperate scratching can be heard. Inside, they find a tuberous, undead rat trapped in the bottom of a dirty bathtub. Taking no chances with this daunting adversary, Snot plays the Last Stand Adventure Card and leaps into the bathtub (the first and last time in his loathsome existence that he'll have got into one willingly) to do battle! His verminous foe defeated, Snot prepares to devour the scabrous rodent - until the rest of the party convince him to find a less nauseating snack.

Soon, the group enter a library, groaning bookshelves against every wall but one, where a large, stone fireplace looms. Poring over the dusty tomes, Ben learns of Vorel Foxglove's (Aldern's grandfather) botched attempt to turn himself into a Lich and how his unquiet spectre now haunts the mansion and persecutes its occupants - even those who share his bloodline.

Thinking they could hear the faint sound of a woman crying from somewhere above, the party ascend to the first floor of the mansion. Passing through a portrait gallery, the hangings covered by billowing dust sheets, the party are forced to flee when the canvasses begin to spew poisonous spores into the air. In a long deserted bedroom, they find a desk, it's surface stained with blood, spilled many years ago. As though in a daze, Rast moves towards the desk and grabs a bloody dagger from a secret compartment he had no way of knowing about, then tries to open his own jugular. Karrack and Krogg prevent the possessed alchemist from taking his own life, while Snot encourages them to cut off the dwarf's hand (probably so he can eat it, having been denied his delicious rat).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Session Seven (Part One) - 12/04/2012

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary, hero of goblins and founder of Hope/Stinkpoint)

Cariryn : Krogg (Brutish half-orc garbage collector, has traded his wheelbarrow in for a life of adventure)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Crusader Hank: Rast (sausage-fingered dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket)

Steboucha : Aereon (Antony's super-magical uncle)

Josh: Snot (some random child, guest starring as Snot the Goblin for one week only)

The eerie sound of weeping continues to haunt the party from the mansion's unexplored attic. Ascending the creaky staircase, the first door they try opens into a drafty observatory, an expensive brass telescope pointing out of a broken window overlooking the storm-wracked Varisan Bay. Soon after Rast enters the room, he begins to feel uncomfortably warm - and within moments, the delusional dwarf is convinced his entire body is ablaze and the only way to douse the flames is to hurl himself through the unbroken window and plunge into the sea! Fortunately, Super Magical Uncle Aereon tackles the suicidal alchemist before his stubby legs can carry him to the brink.
The next room is being used for storage, although it was definitely here that the party heard the sound of a woman crying. They discover the body of a woman hidden amidst the clutter. The dead woman's unquiet spirit rises from her discarded mortal shell and shrieks; “Aldern! I can smell your fear! I’ll be in your arms soon!”
Having inadvertently released the vengeful spirit of Iesha Foxglive, the ghost ignores the party (who are mostly browning their britches anyway) and glides through the wall in search of her murderous husband. Exercising what little initiative he possesses, Krogg follows the spook down into the dark, creepy basement of the haunted mansion, where a hole has been excavated, descending into the sea caves below the Foxglove estate. Pursuing the spectre, the party traverse the shaft. The all too familiar stench of rotting meat rises to meet them.

Exploring the lightless depths, the party find the tunnel walls are covered with a unwholesome yellow fungus. They enter a large cavern and notice a huge, black cocoon suspended from amongst the stalactites. Being Ben, Ben shoots at it. The cocoon unfolds what transpire to be its tattered wings, revealing a giant ghoul bat! The group have interrupted the creature's lunch and it drops the tasty morsel it had been gnawing on - which Karrack is dismayed to note appears to be his giant gecko (which fled down here after the group abandoned their mounts to escape the carrionstorm). Despite being undead and about the size of a bull elephant, the giant ghoul bat still navigates its surroundings using sonar, so if the party stay still, it can't attack them. This doesn't occur to Snot the Goblin, who scampers this way and that like a headless chicken, until the winged nightmare swoops down and snatches the little bugger up in its claws. Super Magical Uncle Aereon tries (and fails) to bring the bat down with magic missiles. Rast manages to knock it out of the air and the creature pierces one of its ragged wings on a stalagmite protruding from the ground. Before the flying monster can take to the air again, Ben entangles it in magic rope and Snot clambers up onto its chest to deliver the coup de'grace (shooting a crosbolt through its exposed ribcage into its shuddering, undead heart). Once the giant ghoul bat has been vanquished, the heroes are free to loot the bodies of those the monster had preyed upon in the past.

Moving on, the party enter a partially flooded cavern guarded by a gaggle of zombiefied goblins. Snot's attempt to befriend his undead kinsfolk is doomed to failure, as the animated zomblins seem more inclined to eat his brain. Several rounds into the ensuring combat, the Skinsaw Man (aka: Aldern Foxglove, aka: that pompous git from Week One) makes his appearance, emerging from the tidal pool with a whole troupe of ghoulish puppets. While the rest of the party engage his minions, Karrack launches a lightning-infused, flying dragon kick at the Skinsaw Man, the sheer awesomeness of which catapults Aldern back into the water. His Lordship does not resurface from the foaming depths.

After defeating the Skinsaw Man and his undead lackeys, the party ransack his sanctum. Karrack is disturbed to find one whole wall of the room has been covered with crude, charcoal sketches of his scaly self. Clearly the grudge Foxglove has been nursing since the whole boar fiasco has deteriorated into a lunatic obsession. Rast uncovers correspondence between Foxglove and his 'mistress', certain passages indicate further clues might be found at the nobleman's townhouse in the city of Magnimar. Attached is a list of greedy souls that this unnamed mistress wishes claimed for her own (yet more mysterious) master, upon which are the names of the men already murdered by the Skinsaw Men, as well as those who would surely have been targeted next.
While the rest of the group poke through Foxglove's stuff, Snot finds himself drawn inexorably towards the far wall of the sanctum, where the yellow mould prevalent throughout the dungeon has formed what almost looks to be a face. Coaxed closer by hungry whispers, the stupid goblin is ensnared by a pair of fungal arms! Super Magical Uncle Aereon blasts the mould man into a cloud of choking spores and the group are forced to flee.

Where the yellow mould made contact with exposed skin, Snot's flesh has erupted in delightful, pus-filled tumours. Super Magical Uncle Aereon immediately prescribes leeches. Leaving the Foxglove mansion, the group are disappointed to discover the horses they left to fend for themselves (when the carrionstorm attacked) have been devoured by the undead birds. On the plus side, the ravens are now too fat and lethargic to bother the heroes as they trudge back to Sandpoint afoot.
Poor Snot is taken to the cathedral, where the acolytes of Desna pray to their Goddess to do something drastic about the goblin's nightmare-inducing appearance. Sergeant Krogg resumes his duties, though his pay has been docked to compensate for the loss of the horses he borrowed from the garrison's stable. Rast continues his headlong descent into madness and synthesises an elixir (from the blood Aereon's leeches sucked out of Snot's tuberous face) that transforms good, god-fearing people into flesh-ravening ghouls.

Finally Ben decides to do something about the list of greedy souls they found in Foxglove's lair and recruits Father Zantus to help implement his ingenious scheme. With the elderly priest in tow, he visits local lumber baron (and greedy bastard) Titus Scarnetti. After making the wealthy lumber magnate aware that his avaricious nature has bought him to the attention of dark forces beyond his comprehension, Ben convinces him to make an unnecessarily generous contribution to the church collection box. However, when Scarnetti agrees to donate a staggering 10,000gp, Father Zantus' old ticker gives out and he suffers a fatal heart attack right there in the merchant's reception room.

Oops.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Final Session (Part One of Two)

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary, hero of goblins and founder of Hope/Stinkpoint)

Cariryn : Krogg (Brutish half-orc garbage collector, has traded his wheelbarrow in for a life of adventure)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Crusader Hank: Rast (sausage-fingered dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket)

Steboucha : Aereon (Antony's super-magical uncle)

Having (seemingly) banished the ghoulish shadow of doom hanging over Sandpoint, the party are enjoying a well deserved respite from (mis)adventure, when an envoy arrives from Magnimar. Although the death/disappearance of Aldern Foxglove (aka: The Skinsaw Man) bought an end to his spree of murder and mutilation, there have been a number of similar slayings committed in the City of Monuments. Mayor Haldeem Grobaras is frantic to catch the killer(s) before the terrified population lose faith in his leadership. His desperate plea to the party for aid in the (thus far, ineffective) investigation is due to the imminent mayoral elections, which Grobaras fears he will lose if he cannot prove his competence by bringing the culprits to justice.
Hopping aboard a ferry (at the Mayor's expense), the party sail to Magnimar and disembark in the Bazaar of Sails. The envoy escorts them to the Alabaster District, where the most rich and influential of the cities residents dwell within their luxurious mansions and verdant estates.

Mayor Grobaras is a corpulent whale of a man with a a bushy, walrus moustache and mutton-chop sideburns, who is disgruntled to have his (second) breakfast disrupted by the appearance of a group of ragged adventurers. Between (vast) mouthfuls of food, Grobaras explains how the recent string of murders threatens his career and demands that the party bring him the bounders responsible - before the ballots are cast in seven days time!
Recognising that Grobaras exhibits certain avaricious qualities that may bring him to the attention of the killers, Ben and Aereon try to persuade the greedy mayor to change his money-grubbing ways. Grobaras misinterprets their concern (they don't want him murdered before he can reward them) as an attempt to fleece him out of more gold and he throws a chicken drumstick at Ben's head, then kicks the lot of them out of his mansion.

Finding five star accommodation at a hotel in the Vista district (despite their argument with the Mayor, they are still engaged upon his business and bill their expenses to his office), the party discuss how to find the townhouse of Aldern Foxglove amidst this vast, urban sprawl. Rast pops out to visit his brother, who owns his own locksmithing business in the city, while Krogg returns to the waterfront to make enquiries amongst the half-orc dockers and dunny men. Meanwhile, Ben visits Leis Nivlandis, the man running against Grobaras in the mayoral election and plots to overthrow the man who dared to bombard him with poultry.
The party soon have an address to the Foxglove townhouse. The key they found in the Skinsaw's Man's sanctuary (in the ghoul-infested sea caves beneath the ghost-haunted mansion) grants them access. Although the house seemed abandoned from without and the interior is in a state of disarray, they are met by a curiously dispassionate maid, who seems utterly unperturbed by the appearance of armed strangers. The group are ushered upstairs to meet the Lord and Lady of the household. They are gobsmacked to find Aldern and Iesha Foxglove - alive and well - waiting to receive them. The noble couple and their serving staff are all acting rather odd though - and things kick off when Lady Foxglove tries to brain Karrack with a bottle of wine. When the Saurian monk retaliates, her flesh ripples like pliant rubber and the lizardman immediately recognises the creature as a Faceless Stalker; marsh-dwelling dopplegangers. After exhausting the element of surprise, the Stalkers show themselves to be uninspiring combatants and are soon defeated. While most lie dead and twitching in various stages of bloody dismemberment, one survives long enough for the party to bark questions at it. Aereon realises the wretched creature is under some manner of enchantment and manages to break through the sorcerous conditioning.
Searching the house the party discover two items of immediate interest to their investigation; the deed to the haunted Foxglove mansion and a horrible, leather mask. They learn that Aldern Foxglove had fallen in with a rough crowd (of murderous cultists) called the Brotherhood of the Seven, operating out of a shady sawmill on Kyver's Islet (which Rast already suspected, having found shavings of sawdust at the scene of a recent execution).

Deciding not to take any further action before reporting their findings to the Mayor, Krogg takes Karrack, Ben and Snot out on the lash with the boisterous band of half-orc labourers he befriended that afternoon. Ben soon discovers (to his regret) that humans should not drink orc beer in excess and stumbles out of the tavern in the company of a woman ugly enough to be half troll (he wakes up the next morning handcuffed naked to a bed in some flea-ridden pay-by-the-hour waterfront dive, feeling bruised and abused).
Meanwhile, Rast and Aereon go looking for someone who can identify the magical properties of Foxglove's unsettling mask. They soon encounter an impoverished street magician, who makes the mistake of overcharging them for his decidedly unremarkable services. To teach him a lesson, they force the poor bastard to put the mask on and tell them what it does. His struggles soon lessen and his demeanour turns from miserable to murderous. Rast and Aereon conclude that whatever purpose the mask may serve, its use is not benevolent. Adding to the list of injustices visited upon this poor beggar-wizard, Rast also steals his Hat of Invisibility.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Final Session (Part Two of Two)

The next morning, once Ben has staggered back from his drunken tryst and Karrack has scrubbed the goblin sick off the curtains (Snot had drunk almost as deeply as the human ranger the previous night, and the party are determined to get the deposit back on their rooms), the envoy of Mayor Grobaras arrives to check on the progress of their investigation. After fobbing him off with half-truths and vague assurances, the party head for the Seven's Sawmill - but they do not go alone! Krogg returns to the Crabby Lady and gathers up as much muscle as can still stand after the last nights epic bender. Recalling the Mayor's promise of martial aid when the dung hits the wheel, Ben visits the Magnimar garrison and recruits a small contingent of armed guards to back up their assault on the Skinsaw cult's lair.

Once the militiamen have established a perimeter around the sawmill, the party and their allies breach the door. The men within immediately don masks and draw blades. The cult leader emerges, swearing to flay the skin off their faces and frame them for his dark Mistress. A chaotic battle ensures, by the end of which, 6 (out of 10) Skinsaw men, the cult leader, two half-orc thugs (Geoff and Dave) and one of Karrack's miscellaneous goblin lackeys lie dead. Unmasking the cult leader, the party are surprised to find the face beneath belongs to Ironbriar, the elven Justice whom the city put in charge of the murder investigation (which explains why it was going nowhere fast, before Grobaras involved the party). Deciphering Ironbriar's coded journals, Aereon learns that the villain had been living a double life for years, misdirecting any enquiries into the cult's activities in Magnimar. Until recently, Norgorber (the God of Murder, Deception and Poison) assigned the cults targets to Ironbriar via disturbing dreams, but recently, a creature described only as 'Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms' has been manipulating the Skinsaw Men to prioritise specific victims, specifically; the greediest ones. This scheming succubus has made her lair in the crumbling Shadow Clock, a major landmark of the city's destitute Underbridge district.

Having ended the threat presented by the Skinsaw Cult, Ben summons Leis Nivlandis to the sawmill, while Rast is sent to dislodge Grobaras from his mansion. Once the two political candidates arrive, the party reveal how the killers were being led by the very man Grobaras had put in charge of rooting them out! Handing Ironbriar's journals over to Nivlandis, the party pretty much guarantee the man a landslide victory in the imminent mayoral elections. Once the information contained within those pages is made public knowledge, Grobaras will be ruined! Understandably, Grobaras is not best pleased by this turn of events and refuses to pay the group the rest of their money. Most of the party accept that this is not an unreasonable reaction, considering how they have just completely buggered his political career, but Aereon stubbornly hounds the fat man's carriage all the way back to the Alabaster District.

Over the next week, Leis Nivlandis circulates pamphlets throughout the city, revealing how the incompetence of the current Mayor enabled the Skinsaw murders to continue right under his nose. Grobaras resigns from his office and his rival runs unopposed. Nivlandis well remembers the party's roll in his success and rewards them generously. Karrack forgoes all material recompense in exchange for a voice on the city's new governing council, the rest of the group seem perfectly happy to take the gold.

This brings Week 8/8 of the Rotation to an end, though the Rise of the Runelords saga is only just beginning! I hope to resume this adventure path later this year. In the meantime, please find below a list of loose ends - dangling threads of fate that have yet to be resolved....

The mysterious woman ("Wanton of Natures Pagan Forms"), whose unseen hand has guided the murderous actions of Aldern Foxglove and Justice Ironbriar is still at large in Magnimar. Clues uncovered in the Seven's Sawmill indicate she awaits the heroes at the summit of the Shadow Clock in Underbridge.

Why are only the greediest souls being targeted for ritualistic execution - and what is the significance of the seven-pointed Thassilonian rune being carved into the bodies of the dead?

Did Aldern Foxglove survive his confrontation with the party and if so, will his dangerous obsession with Karrack yet result in further tragedy and bloodshed?

For how much longer will Ben be able to resist the demonic compulsion to harvest more delicious eyeballs to appease the infernal parasite squatting in his brain?

After his drunken fumble with a hideous, half-orc wench, the girl's brothers are now scouring Magnimar for a man matching Ben's description, to 'persuade' him to do the honourable thing and ask for their sister's hand in marriage.

Does (former Mayor) Haldeem Grobaras nurse a grudge against the party after they sabotaged his campaign and cost him the governance of Magnimar?

To be continued... in a future rotation!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Rotation 2 / Session 1 (23/08/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk-turned-revolutionary, hero of goblins and founder of Hope/Stinkpoint. Now serving as political attaché to the new government of Magnimar)

Vic : Grogg (Locally celebrated hero of the underground blood sports conducted secretly by the half-orc communities in Magnimar)

Mal H : Ben (ludicrously wealthy ranger with a fetish for all things oriental... and eyeballs)

Crusader Hank: Rast (sausage-fingered dwarven rogue with an embarrassing rash, constantly scratching, one eye bulges comically from its socket. He has recently discovered a keen enthusiasm for amateur alchemy and is secretly building a flying machine from some tattered harpy wings he picked up somewhere)

Andrek : ??? (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, I forget the character's name)

Andy's character, a crusading priest of Sarenrae, arrives in Magnimar the week after the heroes assaulted the Seven's sawmill and slew the leader of the murderous cult (Justice Ironbriar). He is keen to purge the city of evil and rather put out to discover he's missed his opportunity. Nevertheless, trouble seems to circle this motley crew like vultures in the sky above a dead horse and the hopeful cleric attaches himself to their party, like a remora fish following in the wake of a shark.

Grogg hardly needs further introduction! His is a household name (in certain - dirtier - households) around Magnimar, a hero of the downtrodden and a celebrity in the gladiatorial, blood-sports that the half-orc community enjoy (conducted in secret, as the city watch take a dim view on such brutal amusements). The half-orc is also drawn to the party, unceremoniously forcing himself into their fellowship, much like an ingrowing toenail. His status does not excuse his boisterous behaviour in the city library (after following Andy's character inside to research cult activity in the city) and he is forcefully ejected from the building, while the embarrassed priest hides behind his books and pretends not to know the noisome lout.

His political ambitions frustrated by the parties betrayal, the former mayor of Magnimar; Haldeem Grobaras leaves the city in some haste, leaving his mansion in the Alabaster District unoccupied. Rast breaks inside and pokes around until he finds the fat nobleman's safe. Cracking the combination, the dwarven thief is horrified to find the vault occupied by a set of enchanted bagpipes (thanks for that, random treasure table)! Rast flees in abject terror (having gained a phobia of musical instruments after he was attacked by a haunted piano, while exploring the ghost-infested Foxglove mansion), but eventually masters his fear and subdues the screeching pipes, before trading them in for a new staff (+1 Fighting) for Karrack.

Speaking of Karrack, the lizardman revolutionary now serves as an adviser to the newly elected Mayor Leis, in the field of non-human relations (specifically, goblins). Snot is still around and acting as the Saurian's personal secretary. Karrack is busy working alongside the guild of civic engineers, implementing his scheme to develop the cities poor sewage network, by bringing in goblin work-crews from Hope/Stinkpoint to excavate the reeking tunnels.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party have moved into the the empty Foxglove townhouse, hiring a trio of half-orcs to serve as their butler, maid and doorman. Ben is lording it over their new minions, when he notices three unfriendly fellows watching him from the street. Grogg investigates and learns the three half-orcs staking out the house are the brothers of the hideous, half-orc maiden whom Ben drunkenly deflowered on his first night in the city. Also, the trollop claims she is carrying Ben's child! The brothers demand that the ranger do the honourable thing; marry their sister and provide for the child. Ben considers himself the victim of the loathsome creature's lustful urges and refuses. Before things can turn nasty, Karrack intervenes. The persuasive lizardman convinces the pregnant wench to SPILL THE BEANS (Adventure Card) and she confesses that she is not with child at all, it's just a cushion stuffed up her jerkin, as Ben was too drunk to 'perform' on the evening of their supposed tryst. Her brothers wanted to try and con the guilty 'father' out of some gold. Ben is not amused by the prank and has to restrained from an impulsive act of murderous rage.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Rotation 2 / Session 1 (23/08/2012) - Part Two

Having thwarted the homicidal designs of the Skinsaw Men, the party march on the tottering Shadow Clock to confront the villain responsible for the actions of Justice Ironbriar and his murderous cult. Karrack instructs several burly men of the city guard to break down the door, then stand watch over the entrance while the party explore the crumbling edifice. The priest of Sarenrae spots furtive movement high above them and the party warily ascend the treacherous stair winding around the inside of the tower. Grogg is kitted out in full platemail and his considerable weight proves too much for the ancient wooden steps to endure, only a lucky Agility roll saves the half-orc from a nasty tumble.

An ominous creaking sound overhead draws the parties eyes upwards - just as one of four enormous, bronze bells plummets towards them. Miraculously, nobody is injured - but the stairs (both above and below) have been smashed into firewood. The entire clock tower shakes alarmingly as the fallen bell crashes through the wall at the base of the spire. Despite the absolute lack of the climbing skill (or any rope), Grogg forges on - it surprises nobody when he slips and falls. None of his comrades seem inclined to help the free-falling half-orc as he plunges passed... Ben rolls his eyes and tries to catch him. Unfortunately, Ben's player rolled snake-eyes, resulting in a CRITICAL FAILURE! The ranger manages to grab the half-orc's flailing arm - but misjudged how heavy Grogg would be in full platemail - and is yanked out into the abyss after him. They both fall about 40ft and are soon making Soak rolls to avoid immediate Incapacitation. Miraculously, both survive! Andy's character descends with more care, in order to cast Heal on their broken bodies.

Karrack and Rast complete the climb and emerge through a trapdoor into the noisy, claustrophobic clockworks, where the massive gears and complex mechanisms that drive the hands of the Shadow Clock grind relentlessly. They are attacked by a group of dopplegangers mimicking the faces of their friends. Neither lizardman nor dwarf exhibit any qualms smacking around these clones - in fact, it's actually rather cathartic to beat up their 'co-workers'. No sooner have the faceless stalkers been dispatched (one is snagged by the machinery and crushed between the enormous gears), when a huge flesh golem wielding a scythe crashes through the ceiling! Ben Kotek and Andy's character join the fray, having clambered up after their comrades, but Grogg (still carrying three wounds) has decided to sit this fight out on the sidelines. The priest of Sarenrae ducks beneath a sweep of the shambling scarecrow's scythe - but is grabbed by the throat and dangled helplessly over the gaping hole in the clockwork's floor. Rast coats his magical returning dagger in ghoul slime (harvested from the bodies of Foxglove's undead horde) and manages to paralyse the golem, locking its bloated, corpse-fingers around the cleric's neck. Unable to break its grip, the quick thinking priest lops off the hand holding him at the wrist. Once the cleric is clear, the rest of the party pile in and manage to shove the golem off the edge of the platform (it does not survive the subsequent 60ft fall).

Having carelessly thrown a couple of fireballs at the scarecrow before being grappled by it, Andy's character has inadvertently set the clock tower on fire. With no means of fighting the blaze, the party continue to climb, hoping to escape the spreading flames. They emerge onto the open spire of the shadow clock, where they find Xanesha, the Lamia Matriarch ('Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms') waiting for them amidst her nest of pillows and silken drapes. She flirts playfully, but when it becomes apparent the heroes aren't warming to her charms, she assumes her true form (half woman, half serpent) and attacks. Xanesha stays airborne, flying through the scaffolding around the outside edges of the (now burning) clock tower to prevent the party mobbing her in melee. Down on the ground, Grogg intimidates the city watch into opening fire on the lamia. When a hail of crossbolts almost turn her into a pincushion, Xanesha takes notices of the impudent marksmen and swoops towards them as they frantically reload. Her terrible eyes glow green - and those unfortunate enough to meet her gaze are turned to stone! Grogg leaps from statue to statue in pursuit of the matriarch and lands a blow that leaves the lamia reeling. In retaliation, her eyes blaze emerald once more and Grogg is petrified (though still managing to strike a particularly heroic pose moments before turning to stone).

Securing ropes around the angel statue on the spire; Rast, Karrack and the nameless priest recklessly abseil down the outer wall of the clock tower in pursuit of Xanesha. The lizardman fashions a crude lasso and manges to ensnare the flying lamia. With the priest and the dwarf lending Karrack their strength, they begin to reel Xanesha in, like an unusually dangerous trout. Unable to escape, Xanesha flies straight towards the group, her eyes flaring with green light - only for Andy's character to smack her in the face with his shield. Unable to stay airborne while unconscious , the lamia matriarch falls out of the air like a stone. Her elegant neck is broken as the rope around her throat snaps taught with a gristly crackle of bone.

Alone at the top of the tower - with the flames rising around him, Ben makes a quick check of the creatures nest and turns up a long list of names (some of which have already been crossed out) - greedy individuals from Sandpoint and Magnimar, hand-picked by Xanesha to be targeted by the Skinsaw Men. But why were only these avaricious souls zeroed out for the Sideheron sacrifice?

Having defeated the Lamia Matriarch, the party enjoy some well-deserved downtime. Looting the body, the heroes claim a slippery snakeskin tunic, a magical mask that turns people to stone and a magical spear called an 'Impaler of Thorns' (on a raise on the Fighting roll, everyone - friend/foe alike - in a small burst radius must make an immediate Spirit roll or be Fatigued by sadness and despair). Rast returns to Sandpoint and proposes to his beloved innkeeper, Ameiko Kaijitsu. They are to be wed at the great cathedral within the month (the people of Sandpoint are still waiting on a replacement priest, after Ben accidentally triggered the fatal heart attack of poor, old Father Zantus). The rest of the heroes gather in the sleepy, coastal town for the ceremony (and specifically, the cake).

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Rotation 2 / Session 2 (30/08/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions.)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some worrying hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

The party return to Sandpoint to attend the wedding of Rast and Ameiko Kaijitsu. Pretty much the whole town has been invited to attend the ceremony. While Asha organises flowers and Karrack works on his speech, Grogg is busy getting pissed on complimentary wine. Ben considers gifting the happy couple with a pair of eyeballs from his ever-growing collection, when he asks for Karrack's opinion, the horrified lizardman suggests he consider a less gruesome wedding present. Meanwhile, Grogg drunkenly presents Rast with a box of official 'Grogg the Smasher' merchandise (t-shirts, posters, action figures, fridge magnets, etc).

As the great bronze bells above the cathedral clamour, Rast stumbles up the aisle to join his beloved at the altar. Before the happy couple can exchange their vows, they are subjected to a bizarre re-inaction of Rast's heroic exploits, performed with reckless enthusiasm by a troupe of masked goblins. The greenskin cast as the dwarven lead is even swinging around a replica of Rast's returning dagger on a length of elastic - and one goblin does lose an eye during the course of the performance - causing Ben to eagerly scramble after the wayward orb as it rolls beneath a pew. Karrack and Rast exchange worried glances over the ranger's increasingly erratic behaviour.
Karrack delivers his best (lizard)man's speech then steps forward with the rings. Father Pascal intones the rites of marriage before gods and men and asks if anyone present objects to this blessed union....

SUDDENLY, the tall, stained glass window (depicting the goddess Desna) over the altar bursts inward, showering the wedding guests with garish fragments of coloured glass. A huge, winged reptile with baleful green eyes and ebon scales clambers in through the shattered frame. Astride the wyvern's back is a familiar figure - the ghoulish killer once known as Lord Aldern Foxglove - cackling maniacally as the terrified townsfolk mill around in mindless panic! While Foxglove doesn't particularly object to Rast marrying Ameiko, he strongly objects to how the party broke into his haunted mansion, slaughtered wave after wave of his undead minions then left him for dead(er), floating like a turd in some subterranean tide pool. A horde of zombies boil up from the crypts below the cathedral, led by four of Foxglove's most reliable ghoul lieutenants.

Ben wastes no time casting Blast at the wyvern, shattering the rest of the chapel's beautiful windows in the resulting explosion. Father Pascal squawks with indignation, but is forced to flee for his life when the still-smoking creature hops down, crushing the altar beneath its tremendous weight. Asha is like a kid in a candy store, surrounded by so many of her favoured enemy, she can hardly swing her blessed blade without hitting something with the undead subtype. Meanwhile, Karrack plays the GET SAVAGE Adventure Card (Followers Edge) and the 5 goblin actors scamper into the fray. Grogg is kept busy fending off a second wave of zombies trying to break through the main entrance.

Karrack vaults onto the wyvern's broad shoulders and engages Foxglove in melee, his claws clashing against the ghouls filthy nails. Unable to match the scaly monks ferocity, Foxglove instructs the wyvern to withdraw. The monstrous creature closes its huge talons around Ameiko Kaijitsu and begins to rise. Rast leaps after his helpless bride and the newly weds are both carried into the skies over Sandpoint, as Karrack and Foxglove continue to duel across the wyvern's back.

While Asha, Ben and Grogg defend the folk of Sandpoint from the undead, the wyvern flies higher and further from Sandpoint with each beat of its enormous wings. Karrack severs Foxglove's head with a sweep of his spiny tail and the decapitated ghoul tumbles towards the ocean. Grabbing the reins, the Saurian forces the wyvern to land on the tangled fringe of the Brinestump Marsh, spilling Rast and his battered bride onto the marshy ground. Interposing himself between the wyvern and his wife, Rast chivalrously defends Ameiko from the beast until together, he and Karrack bring the monster down. They encounter a search party of concerned citizens as they trudge back towards Sandpoint and return to find Asha and the sheriff's men piling the last of the zombies onto a roaring pyre in the town square.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords
Rotation 2 / Session 2 (30/08/2012) - Part Two

In the aftermath of so eventful a wedding day, Rast and his new wife are eagerly anticipating a relaxing honeymoon aboard the 'Paradise' riverboat. Meanwhile, Mayor Leis of Magnimar asks the rest of the party to investigate troubling reports from Fort Rannick and arranges for them to also travel aboard the luxury vessel, as emissaries of the city.

Boarding the 'Paradise', the 'emissaries' receive a frosty welcome from the riverboat's owner, the Lady Lucrecia, who is unhappy to have been burdened with a group of free-loading adventurers, taking up space and generally lowering the tone with their crude table manners and crass company. Her 'Absolutely No Goblins!' policy is not well received, but Karrack relents and decides to not antagonise her any further by smuggling Snot aboard. Initially, Lucrecia attempts to restrict the heroes to their cabins (all except Rast and Ameiko, who are paying guests and can go where they please), but backs down when Asha argues that her vows to Sarenrae require that she worship her Goddess beneath the sun. 'Worshipping' translates to 'sunbathing', distracting Lucrecia's goons as they ogle the scantily-clad cleric's bronzed flesh. Asha's indecent habit of undressing on deck attracts the attention of a wealthy gnome playboy called Conchobhar Turlach Shortstone III (ported across from the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path, as I regretted killing him off so quickly in that game), whose seductive overtures are no more successful in this campaign than they were in the last.
A compulsive gambler, Grogg tries to take a seat at one of the tables, but Lucrecia's guards have been instructed to keep the boisterous half-orc away from the other guests. However, an influential half-orc industrialist from Magnimar (Brogg) recognised his face and insists that the goons allow Grogg inside as his personal guest and that all Grogg's (many) drinks be put on his tab. Grogg gambles recklessly - but wins big! He is invited to join Brogg in the high rollers lounge, but first told he must first agree to be branded with a tattoo, entitling him to VIP treatment throughout the rest of his journey. Grogg cheerfully consents and a seven-pointed star is inked onto his leathery skin.

Several days pass uneventfully, until the boat's leisurely progress east (along the the northern edge of the Mushfens) is halted by the unexpected appearance of a naked swamp giant bathing in the middle of the river. Her patience fraying, Lady Lucrecia orders the men under her command to begin constructing a light ballista on the deck. Karrack pleads with her not to rile up the soapy brute and she grudgingly gives the party until her goons finish building the catapult to move the giant on. Asha immediately strips down to her skivvies and lounges provocatively in plain view of Lucrecia's men, who are now finding it increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand.
Karrack swims over to talk to the large fellow and learns that he is "on a promise" and must make himself presentable for the lady giant he is courting. Karrack recruits the rest of the party (and a lot of the crew) in his endeavour to make the lovestruck giant irresistible to the opposite sex. Rast retires to his cabin and concocts a pungent aftershave while Conchobhar Turlach Shortstone III instructs the eager giant in the gnomish arts of love. When the giant's would-be mate appears, Ben strikes up the band, serenading the lovers with suggestive melodies. Thanks to the parties efforts, the swamp giant gets lucky and is dragged into the foliage for a little bump and grind - clearing the way for the 'Paradise' to float on eastwards towards their destination.

Before reaching Lake Claybottom, the 'Paradise' ties up alongside the gnomish settlement of Whistledown and many of the wealthy passengers disembark to spend the afternoon exploring the sights of the picturesque community. Conchobhar Turlach Shortstone III offers to give Asha a tour of the town, which she accepts - on the understanding that if he tries to touch her bum, she will kill him. The gnome reluctantly consents to keep his wandering hands to himself. During their exploration of Whistledown, the cleric notices a curious tattoo on Shortstone's wrist, a seven pointed star that she recognises from her research into cult activity in wider Varisa. What could this shocking development mean?!

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 3 (06/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions.)

Mal H : Ben Kotek (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some worrying hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast : (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course! Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Steboucha : Snot the Goblin (After a short period of absence, Steve returns to the club! Since it would have been awkward to shoehorn Aereon back into the adventure at this juncture, he was privileged to take on the much coveted role of Snot the goblin!)

As Asha confronts Conchobhar Turlach Shortstone III (re: his Sideheron tattoo), a sudden storm rolls in from the Hook Mountains to the north, choking the sky with dark, thunderous clouds. The amorous gnome is sceptical of the cleric's assertion that his tattoo is actually an ancient Thassilonian rune, claiming he was given it aboard the 'Paradise', to mark his VIP status. As the weather worsens, the wealthy passengers rush back to the pitching riverboat.

As Karrack heads for his bunk below decks, he notices someone trying to catch his attention. He is pleasantly surprised to discover that Snot the goblin had managed to sneak aboard the 'Paradise' before it left Magnimar. The wretched creature would have announced his presence sooner, but was trapped inside the crate it stowed away in and has only recently managed to gnaw its way to freedom. Yet the goblin bears troubling news - he is not the only stowaway aboard the riverboat. While confined to his box, Snot witnessed Shalelu Andosana sneaking on board - only to be apprehended by some of Lady Lucrecia's goons. Karrack immediately rounds up the party and sets to tearing the riverboat apart in search of his sometime half-elf girlfriend. Karrack, Grogg, Ben Kotek and the goblin waylay a group of Lucrecia's thugs, while Asha tries to talk Rast out of raising a customer service complaint with the duty manager.
The goon squad tell Karrack that the half-elf stowaway was thrown overboard, but the Saurian monk is convinced they're hiding something. Violence ensues, during which Snot is almost mortally wounded. The injured creature slips on the blood-slick deck and topples into the dark water. The clash of steel draws several wealthy passengers from the comfort of their cabins, who leap headlong to the conclusion that the riverboat is being attacked by pirates! Panic spreads like wildfire as the rest of the vessel's security force mobilise to repel the boarders. Being bloodthirsty (hindrance), Grogg 'forgets' that the party intended to keep one of the mercenaries alive and butchers the feeble human sellswords as effortlessly as a farmer would strike down his livestock on market day.

With only the vaguest notion of where Shalelu might be being held, the party continue their rushed and uncoordinated hunt for the captive ranger. Rast takes the opportunity to loot several unattended store rooms and (after playing the TREASURE TROVE adventure card) finds a Shroud of Lurking Menace (+3 Stealth).

Encountering a knot of Lucrecia's men determined to prevent the party from venturing any further into the bowels of the lurching riverboat, the heroes cut them down and consider the (now undefended) portal they had been guarding. Karrack listens at the door and hears what sounds suspiciously like someone coordinating an ambush on the other side. Retreating to a safe distance, the party cover their ears as Ben unloads a Blast spell on the threshold - obliterating the door (and the walls to either side) and spraying the men beyond with a hail of sharp splinters. Flushed with success, Ben exhausts his remaining Power Points on a second Blast, taking out the thugs still reeling from the initial explosion - then the rest of the party barrel into the breach!
Karrack's player throws down the REINFORCEMENTS adventure card - and 1D6 (2) more friendly goblins pop out the crates they had been hiding inside, slashing at the surprised goons with their jagged dogslicers.

Lady Lucrecia is poised above the prone figure of Shalelu Andosana, whose bare flesh has been branded with the Sideheron rune. Lucrecia drops her mortal guise and reveals herself to be yet another Lamia Matriarch - worse, a vengeful Lamia Matriarch nursing a grudge against the party after they killed her sister Xanesha back in Magnimar! The flying snake woman takes a moment to gloat about her evil scheme; how the souls of any sentient creature that dies while marked with the Sideheron rune speed the cataclysmic rise of her Master - the greedier the souls, the better! To make things even worse, the most invaluable minions of this maniacal overlord are granted Sideheron medallions that allow them to compel those branded with the seven pointed star. Shalelu Andosana lurches to her feet and attacks the party, her face contorted by an uncharacteristic expression of rapacious greed. Grogg feels the same compulsion to betray his friends, but the stubborn half-orc resists Lucrecia's sorcerous invasion of his mind, causing his own Sideheron tattoo to burn painfully against his rebellious flesh.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 3 (06/09/2012) - Part Two

SUDDENLY, a series of detonations rocks the riverboat - Lucrecia has conspired to sink her own vessel in the middle of Lake Claybottom, condemning her passengers to a watery grave and their blemished souls to the runewell of her Master! The party battle Lucrecia and her mortal henchmen as the dark water floods the hold of the listing riverboat. Defeated, the Lamia Matriarch blasts a gaping hole in the hull and escapes into the storm-wracked darkness beyond.
With Lucrecia beyond their reach and the 'Paradise' sinking rapidly, the party set to saving the doomed vessel. While the allied goblins struggle with Shalelu (who is still suffering the ill effects of the Lamia's Puppet power), Karrack and Ben race for the wheelhouse and steer the floundering riverboat towards the shore. While Grogg takes advantage of the chaos to loot the high roller's lounge, Rast rescues his beloved Ameiko and the newly-weds glide to safety (Gary is getting pretty good mileage out of those harpy wings) - leaving the rest of the party to drown.

The two tireless golems trapped in the riverboat's waterwheels drive the 'Paradise' into the shallow water along the edge of the lake, tearing the bottom out of the vessel with a god-awful crash that tosses the surviving passengers around like well-dressed scarecrows. Picking themselves up, the party (those that hadn't already abandoned ship to selfishly save their own skins) organise the evacuation of the wrecked riverboat. Once everyone is upon dry ground, Karrack addresses the press of dripping nobles, rolling a CRITICAL FAILURE on his (unskilled) Persuasion roll to restore some semblance of order. The passengers panic and scatter into the dark, ogre-infested woods. Grogg roars for them to come back (failed Intimidation roll), but only drives them deeper into the forest. Lamenting their compound incompetence at anything other than combat, the party return to the mostly submerged wreck of the 'Paradise' to spend the night in relative luxury.

In the small hours of the morning, Grogg (who pulled the short straw and got lumbered with guard duty) spots torches bobbing through the trees to the north. Suspecting that the locals have come to salvage what they can from the wreckage, the group prepare to defend what they now consider to be their plunder. Karrack heads down to negotiate with the horde of opportunistic peasants and bloodshed is narrowly averted.
Meanwhile, Grogg applies his unremarkable intellect to the problem of ridding himself of the Thassilonian rune that he (somewhat foolishly) allowed to be tattooed onto his shoulder. Before anyone can restrain him, the half-orc grabs a burning brand from the parties cook-fire and attempts to purify his body of Lucrecia's vile sorcery with purging flames. This hurts tremendously and achieves nothing - the tattoo is obviously magical and only glows ever more balefully in the centre of his scorched and puckered flesh.

The villagers agree to lead the party to Turtleback Ferry, where they can regale Mayor Shreed with their misadventures and actually crack on with the task of investigating the ogre activity near Fort Rannick.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 4 (13/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions.)

Mal H : Ben Kotek (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course! Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Steboucha : Antony (aka Solaris, the elven warrior monk! Formerly a handsome vagrant with no recollection of his own history, a chance encounter while adventuring with the party unearthed many painful memories - memories that perhaps may have best been forgotten....)

Having waded ashore after crashing the 'Paradise' riverboat in the shallows of Lake Claybottom, the party trudge north along the banks of the river until they spot the picturesque town of Turtleback Ferry nestled on the opposite bank. They cross the water upon a raft fashioned from the shell of an enormous turtle. Waiting for them on the dock is their old comrade-in-arms; Antony/Solaris, the amnesiac elf. After leaving the fellowship in the (somewhat dour) company of a mute, dwarven monk (whom the party rescued from the goblin dungeons beneath Thistletop) and returning to his mountain-top monastery, Antony found that his birthright had been usurped by a powerful rival! Rather than drag the order into a bloody contest over its leadership, Antony chose to leave, returning to the wilds of Varisia to contemplate his future.

Making their presence known to Mayor Maelin Shreed, the party learn that the rangers stationed at Fort Rannick (a group of gruff, capable men known collectively as the Black Arrows) have fallen ominously silent of late. The men that the Mayor sent to investigate have not returned. The party vow to leave at first light and determine the (likely grim) fate to have befallen the silent fort.

Unwilling to expose his new bride to further peril, Rast arranges for Ameiko to remain in Turtleback Ferry, while he goes gallivanting through the ogre-infested forest. Shalelu rejects Karrack's suggestion that she also stay in town while her wounds heal, as the half-elven ranger has pressing business of her own with the men of Fort Rannick....

It is STILL pissing it down with rain as the party set off on the morrow (despite their assurances to the Mayor, Rast's insistence on a hearty breakfast mean it is hours after first light when they finally depart). Several hours into their damp and dreary journey, they hear something crashing through trees, in their general direction. A wounded man - the tattered rags of his leather jerkin bearing the insignia of the Black Arrows - staggers out of the undergrowth and collapses across the trail.
Asha and Antony both rush forward at the same time, bickering over which of them will administer first aid to the mortally wounded man. After the cleric has cast Heal, the ranger recovers sufficient wit to warn his saviours that he is being pursued - just as a pack of snarling hounds erupt from the dense foliage! As the large, vicious animals circle the party, snapping and snarling menacingly, the master of the hunt - a powerfully muscled ogre - lumbers out of the bushes and demands that the party return his 'property'. The heroes are not prepared to yield the wounded woodsman into the custody of this shambling brute and brandish their weapons defiantly. The hounds lope into the fray. Ben Kotek and Shalelu put several down with their opening salvo, while Grogg and 'Monica' (his axe/trademark weapon) hack the rest apart with enough lunatic enthusiasm to land the bloodthirsty half-orc in hot water with Golarion's equivalent to the RSPCA.
Meanwhile, Asha and Antony find themselves facing off against one large and irate ogre. The cleric comes dangerously close to being eviscerated by a devastating sweep of the monster's crude (yet serviceable) spear! This wild attack creates an opening in the ogre's defence that Antony is quick to exploit, striking like a coiled serpent and driving his sword up under its chin and into its thick skull. With a flick of his wrist, Antony frees his blade, slicing off the lower half of the ogre's face and splattering Asha in gore.

Having evaded recapture, the ranger reports that Fort Rannick has fallen to an overwhelming force of ogres from Hook Mountain. The few surviving Black Arrows not immediately butchered and eaten have been scattered like the seeds of a dandelion clock, relentlessly pursued through the wilderness by hunting parties similar to the one the party just annihilated. He and the rest of his patrol had been captured several days previously and detained on a dilapidated farmstead to the north. He implores the heroes to rescue his comrades, before the ogres grow weary of tormenting them and simply eat their heads.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 4 (13/09/2012) - Part Two

The party abandon the beaten path and retrace the wounded ranger's tracks, back to the occupied farmstead, where the rest of the Black Arrow survivors are (not) enjoying the hospitality of the ogres. Ben and Antony creep into an overgrown field of long untended corn, hoping to get closer at the distant farm buildings. The rest of the party hang back, recalling their last excursion through a cornfield (where they were swarmed by ghoulish scarecrows).
Ben and Antony notice that the ground is rumbling beneath their feet - moments later, several Black Arrows hobble/crawl out of the tall crops (several have had their legs broken - or simply hacked off at the knees).The crippled rangers are pursued by a terrible engine of death - a group of merry ogres are pedalling a crude combine after their human prey! Even as the two heroes dive to safety, one unlucky ranger stumbles and vanishes beneath the scything blades with a (short) scream and a splash of blood. Mortified, Asha hurls a fireball at the ogre steering the awful machine, causing the brute to slump senselessly across the controls. Picking himself out of the mud, Ben centres a Blast spell on the reaping engine and plays an Adventure Card to double his damage output - reducing the threshing machine to a smoking crater and filling the air with fragments of deadly debris! Rast narrowly avoids decapitation as a length of jagged metal flies passed his head.

While the rest of the party search for survivors, Karrack stumbles upon a dazed ogre still reeling from the explosion and (miraculously) manages to prevent Grogg from immediately executing it. The SPILL THE BEANS Adventure Card is played (again) and the captive brute speaks at length on the deployment and disposition of the ogres of Hook Mountain. The party learn that the ogres are now under the command of the giant wizard Barl Breakbones (he's a giant AND a wizard, not just a really tall magic user) and since the change in management, the ogres have all been painting themselves with the seven-pointed Sideheron star. The party deduce that Breakbones has deceived the ogres (not difficult) into believing that the ancient rune is a powerful symbol of strength - and that every enemy they kill who has been branded in this fashion will only hasten the return of the malevolent despot whom Lucrecia spoke of during her last villainous monologue. This revelation is lost on Grogg, who beheads the chatty ogre the moment that Karrack's back is turned. The party watch as a spectral form (the ogre's soul) is sucked into the Sideheron star like a helpless spider being flushed down the toilet.

Having splinted bones and cauterised ragged stumps, Asha and Antony manage to work together to get the wounded rangers back on their feet (or foot, in some instances). Rast addresses the Black Arrows, attempting to persuade them to "man up!" and avenge their fallen friends - but their spirits have been broken and the party are denied their expendable ogre fodder as the maimed host wobble off.

Meanwhile, Grogg has devised a brilliant plan! Since he has also been marked with the Sideheron rune, he theorises, perhaps the ogres can be convinced that he is a favoured underling of Barl Breakbones and NOT attack him on sight. The rest of the party encourage the half-orc to test his hypothesis, then discretely wager how long before his cover is blown and the ogres eat his head. Rast decides (unwisely, as it turns out) to follow, shielded from sight by his cloak of shadows.
Hearing a great uproar from the large, ramshackle barn, Grogg is reminded of the fighting pits back in Magnimar and heads over to investigate. He is challenged at the entrance by a suspicious guard, but gets passed after flashing his cursed tattoo. The sentinel proves surprisingly perceptive for an ogre and spots Rast lurking about. The alarm is raised and while a group of angry ogres chase Rast around the muddy farmyard (cue the Benny Hill theme tune), Grogg slips inside the noisy barn.

Inside, the ogres have knocked up a primitive fighting pit, they are crowded around a groaning wooden balcony overlooking an enclosed arena. They are cheering on an immense spider, as it faces off against a bearded man wearing an eye-patch and wielding a small knife. Wasting no time, Grogg takes advantage of their inattention to shove several unsuspecting ogres into the pit! Meanwhile, the veteran ranger vaults onto the giant spider's bristly back and from there leaps up onto the balcony!

Outside, Ben Kotek casts Blast at the ogres bothering the dwarven alchemist and showers the rest of the party in ragged strips of char-grilled ogre steak, which also destroys the facing wall of the barn! Rushing across the rain-swept yard, the rest of the party enter the fray just in time to watch helplessly as Grogg and the ogre he is grappling with both tumble into the pit. The giant spider abandons the ogre it had been eating in order to menace Grogg - who ducks beneath its swollen abdomen and sweeps 'Monica' around in a ruinous arc that simultaneously severs all eight of the monster's spindly legs! As the helpless spider rolls around and gnashes its mandibles, Grogg bellows his famous catchphrase "THIS IS STRENGTH!!!" and buries his axe into the cluster of bulbous eyes above the spider's venomous maw!

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 5 (20/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Cowed by Grogg's demonstration of TRUE STRENGTH, the remaining ogres surrender to the blood-soaked fighter. He cheerfully executes two - before remembering that by doing so, he is inadvertently helping the bad guys! Rast suggests that he scrub the sideheron star off the final prisoner before hacking off its ugly head, but Grogg (somewhat uncharacteristically) takes pity of the brute and spares its life. He instructs the ogre to release the second ranger; Vale Temros, from his cage.

Shalelu Andosana rushes to the side of the wounded ranger with the eye-patch. Having sustained several nasty injuries during his fight with the ogre's pet spider, the creature's deadly venom is now coursing through the the man's veins. Shalelu reveals that this dying human; Jakardros Sovark, is her biological father and pleads with the party to save her dad! Asha draws the poison from the grizzled woodsman's wounds - which Rast eagerly bottles for future use.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party prepare to assault the farmhouse, where they suspect the last of the surviving Black Arrows are being held. Grogg's new disciple is quizzed, re: the layout/denizens of the area, but quickly proves itself to be a font of ignorance. Its only worthwhile contribution to the discussion is that the farmhouse is the lair of Mama Graul and her many 'husbands'.
Leaving Shalelu to tend to her weakened father, the party warily approach the forsaken residence across the muddy farmyard.

Creeping ahead, Rast listens at a boarded-up window and hears movement within. The dwarven alchemist tries to break through the barrier, but it too puny to get inside that way.
"WHO DAT' TRYING TO GET INTO MA' BOUDOIR?!" a gravelly voice roars from beyond. Grogg shoves passed the frail dwarf and applies his TRUE STRNEGTH to the problem. He is immediately thrown backwards by a blast of necromantic energy! Witnessing this, the rest of the heroes storm the front door!

Ben Kotek reaches the portal first and reaches for the handle. Rusty saw-blades erupt from the woodwork, but Mal plays the MALFUNCTION Adventure Card and the (potentially) deadly trap grinds to a shuddering halt - mere moments before the spinning blades would have severed the ranger's outstretched hand!
Ben, Asha and Vale Temros barrel headlong into the dark interior and narrowly avoid tumbling into a stinking pit as the floor gives way beneath their feet. Disdaining the front door, Karrack prepares to backflip through a boarded-up window - only to bounce ingloriously of the unyielding surface. While Ben chuckles over the monk's humiliation, he fails to notice the long, creeping tendril emerge from the gaping hole in the floor - until it wraps around his leg and snatches him into the hungry darkness below the farmhouse! (Why is it always Mal/Ben who gets picked on by the tentacled monsters? First the Tentamort beneath Thistletop, now a Tendriculos!)

MEANWHILE... still reeling after receiving a faceful of Mama Graul's bad mojo, Grogg struggles to find his feet in the treacherous muck. Rast pours the foul tasting contents of a bubbling flask down the half-orc's gullet. Grogg chokes and splutters as the ogre-blood potion burns his throat on the way down - suddenly, the muscles on his right arm only ripple and enlarge to freakish proportions! Clambering in through the broken window, Grogg confronts the grossly obese ogre necromancer and her three undead 'husbands'. A Black Arrow cowers in the far corner of the room, cradling the bloody stump of his left wrist (Mama Graul had been snacking on the severed hand before being so rudely interrupted). Grogg wastes no time introducing 'Monica' to the ogre matriarch's face, forcing her to throw up a magical barrier to deter a more intimate relationship with the half-orc's beloved battle-axe.

BACK IN THE BASEMENT... Ben Kotek finds himself dangling upside down in the foetid darkness below the farmhouse, suspended over the yawning maw of a HUGE carnivorous plant! The disorientated ranger panics and casts Blast - and rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE on his spellcasting die. The sorcerous explosion misses the tendriculos - but does destroy the floor above, showering the plant monster in debris. Karrack and Vale Temros plummet into the inhospitable hole and start hacking at the mass of writhing tentacles, while Ben is swung this way and that like a flag on coronation day. Asha invokes the wrath of Sarenrae and reduces the vegetative horror to ash in a pillar of righteous fire!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 5 (20/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Cowed by Grogg's demonstration of TRUE STRENGTH, the remaining ogres surrender to the blood-soaked fighter. He cheerfully executes two - before remembering that by doing so, he is inadvertently helping the bad guys! Rast suggests that he scrub the sideheron star off the final prisoner before hacking off its ugly head, but Grogg (somewhat uncharacteristically) takes pity of the brute and spares its life. He instructs the ogre to release the second ranger; Vale Temros, from his cage.

Shalelu Andosana rushes to the side of the wounded ranger with the eye-patch. Having sustained several nasty injuries during his fight with the ogre's pet spider, the creature's deadly venom is now coursing through the the man's veins. Shalelu reveals that this dying human; Jakardros Sovark, is her biological father and pleads with the party to save her dad! Asha draws the poison from the grizzled woodsman's wounds - which Rast eagerly bottles for future use.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party prepare to assault the farmhouse, where they suspect the last of the surviving Black Arrows are being held. Grogg's new disciple is quizzed, re: the layout/denizens of the area, but quickly proves itself to be a font of ignorance. Its only worthwhile contribution to the discussion is that the farmhouse is the lair of Mama Graul and her many 'husbands'.
Leaving Shalelu to tend to her weakened father, the party warily approach the forsaken residence across the muddy farmyard.

Creeping ahead, Rast listens at a boarded-up window and hears movement within. The dwarven alchemist tries to break through the barrier, but it too puny to get inside that way.
"WHO DAT' TRYING TO GET INTO MA' BOUDOIR?!" a gravelly voice roars from beyond. Grogg shoves passed the frail dwarf and applies his TRUE STRNEGTH to the problem. He is immediately thrown backwards by a blast of necromantic energy! Witnessing this, the rest of the heroes storm the front door!

Ben Kotek reaches the portal first and reaches for the handle. Rusty saw-blades erupt from the woodwork, but Mal plays the MALFUNCTION Adventure Card and the (potentially) deadly trap grinds to a shuddering halt - mere moments before the spinning blades would have severed the ranger's outstretched hand!
Ben, Asha and Vale Temros barrel headlong into the dark interior and narrowly avoid tumbling into a stinking pit as the floor gives way beneath their feet. Disdaining the front door, Karrack prepares to backflip through a boarded-up window - only to bounce ingloriously of the unyielding surface. While Ben chuckles over the monk's humiliation, he fails to notice the long, creeping tendril emerge from the gaping hole in the floor - until it wraps around his leg and snatches him into the hungry darkness below the farmhouse! (Why is it always Mal/Ben who gets picked on by the tentacled monsters? First the Tentamort beneath Thistletop, now a Tendriculos!)

MEANWHILE... still reeling after receiving a faceful of Mama Graul's bad mojo, Grogg struggles to find his feet in the treacherous muck. Rast pours the foul tasting contents of a bubbling flask down the half-orc's gullet. Grogg chokes and splutters as the ogre-blood potion burns his throat on the way down - suddenly, the muscles on his right arm only ripple and enlarge to freakish proportions! Clambering in through the broken window, Grogg confronts the grossly obese ogre necromancer and her three undead 'husbands'. A Black Arrow cowers in the far corner of the room, cradling the bloody stump of his left wrist (Mama Graul had been snacking on the severed hand before being so rudely interrupted). Grogg wastes no time introducing 'Monica' to the ogre matriarch's face, forcing her to throw up a magical barrier to deter a more intimate relationship with the half-orc's beloved battle-axe.

BACK IN THE BASEMENT... Ben Kotek finds himself dangling upside down in the foetid darkness below the farmhouse, suspended over the yawning maw of a HUGE carnivorous plant! The disorientated ranger panics and casts Blast - and rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE on his spellcasting die. The sorcerous explosion misses the tendriculos - but does destroy the floor above, showering the plant monster in debris. Karrack and Vale Temros plummet into the inhospitable hole and start hacking at the mass of writhing tentacles, while Ben is swung this way and that like a flag on coronation day. Asha invokes the wrath of Sarenrae and reduces the vegetative horror to ash in a pillar of righteous fire!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 5 (20/09/2012) - Part Two

MEANWHILE... while Grogg fends off Mama Graul's zombie grooms, the fat ogre matriarch steals away his sight with black magic! The blinded half-orc swings his axe wildly, demolishing the wall into the adjacent room and blundering into the hole that Ben's clumsy casting left in the floor. The human ranger targets Mama Graul with a second Blast, utterly obliterating the external wall that Rast had (until this moment) been cowering behind rather successfully. One of the undead ogres lumbers towards him and boots the feeble dwarf across the farmyard. It's a field goal! Hurrah!
The whimsical gods of exploding dice favour Andy this session, as Asha again rolls ludicrously well on her attack/damage, transforming Mama Graul's filthy nest into a raging pyre. The ogre necromancer is far too overweight to escape the flames of celestial judgement!

As the farmhouse burns in the cleansing fires of the sun goddess, the party recover the Black Arrows' gear. Ben eyes Jakardros' magical longbow covetously, silently cursing the old ranger for surviving his encounter with the giant spider. Karrack inherits a pair of arrow-catching gloves from a dead man who doesn't need them any more (after the ogres pulled off both his arms). Rast finds a copy of the Zombie power scrawled across a piece of parchment fashioned from a human face, while Grogg hits the healing potions HARD (on a whim, I gave Grogg an additional hindrance: Habit [Addiction to Healing Potions], maniacal laugh!).
While Rast bandages the wounded ranger's ragged stump, he learns the man's name is Kaven Windstrike and he was captured by the ogres alongside Jakardros and Vale.

Poking around the basement, the party stumble upon the workshop of loveable Uncle Hucker, the elderly, hunchbacked ogre responsible for all the delightful traps that the group have bumbled into since invading the farmhouse. The party waste no time expressing their displeasure with his handiwork.

The heroes head upstairs and hurry through the ogre's foul-smelling kitchen and into the dining area beyond, where there is evidence of a meal recently disturbed. The diners had been gorging themselves on the glistening entrails of a rather surprised looking corpse, his slimy gizzards strewn across the table like paper-chains. Grogg is sickened by this gruesome spectacle - who would eat human entrails without the proper seasoning? Disgusting!

A curious gibbering draws the party further into the farmhouse. They encounter a deranged old woman locked inside a nursery with a horde of wailing ogre babies. Blissfully ignorant of the hungry stares and dribbling saliva their appearance has provoked, Grogg, Karrack and Asha force a path through the sea of hideous infants to rescue their insane nursemaid. They establish that the old woman lived here even before the ogres moved into the area and murdered her kin, and that she alone was kept alive to babysit the younger ogres (as Mama Graul was far too busy to fulfil her maternal responsibilities).

And then the ogre babies attacked!

Grogg and Karrack beat off the savage little ankle biters, while Asha is dragged down beneath a swarm of ravenous monster children! Vale Temros bursts into the nursery, brandishing his twin axes and completely mad with berserker rage! Grogg throws the mad old crone over his shoulder and withdraws, leaving the vengeful ranger to his bloody business.

Returning to the barn, the three surviving Black Arrows gratefully accept the offer of aid recapturing Fort Rannick from the ogres of Hook Mountain. Jarkardros reveals the existence of a secret entrance into the fortress, which should enable a stealthy party to avoid the majority of the ogres occupying the keep. Karrack notices that Kaven seems less than enthused by the prospect of storming the ogre-held fortifications and sends the cowardly cripple back to Turtleback Ferry with instructions to mobilise Snot and his goblin commandos and rendezvous outside Fort Rannick.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 6 (27/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Having cleared out the Graul farmstead, the weary party retire to the barn to recoup and plan their assault on Fort Rannick. The secret entrance begins to sound much less appealing after the rangers divulge that it is occupied by a colony of fiercely territorial shocker lizards.
The Black Arrows are increasingly uncomfortable with Grogg's fondness for Fred the Ogre and cannot comprehend why the half-orc appears to be grooming the violent savage for a life of domiciliary servitude. Tempers begin to fray and Grogg is impelled to intervene when Vale Temros (who is not the greatest fan of ogres, after his entire family were slaughtered by them) lunges for Fred's throat. Relieving him of his bloody hatchets, Grogg suspends the vengeful ranger from a convenient hook until he has chilled out. Considering the froth bubbling from Vale's mouth, he will likely be hanging there for some time. Realising that co-operation between the party and the Black Arrows will be impossible while Fred is lumbering around after Grogg, the others convince the half-orc to cut the ogre loose. Their parting is an emotional one. Grogg stands in the rain as the ogre melts into the dark forest, so the others do not see his tears.

The sun rises on another miserable, rainy morning. The party (with some prompting) begin to suspect that the unseasonal storms might be the result of magical tampering with the weather. Rast takes some samples and tests the water for any unusual properties. His investigation suggests there is nothing extraordinary about the rain, other than the sheer volume of it.

After plodding through the wet foliage for several hours, the party spy the battlements of Fort Rannick looming on the other other side of a raging, rain-swollen river, dangerously close to bursting its muddy banks. Ogres patrol the walls of the fortress, though they clearly lack the vigilance and discipline of the fort's former garrison. Creeping passed the inattentive sentries, the party soon reach the waterfall and the cave entrance hidden behind the curtain of plunging water. Jakardros bids his daughter remain outside where she is less likely to come to grief, Shalelu looks to Karrack for support, but the humble Saurion only echoes her father's concerns.

One by one, the party cross a wobbly ropebridge spanning a deep, dark ravine. Jakardros (still woozy from the spider venom) staggers - but Karrack grabs the old ranger's arm before he can tumble into the abyss. (Nobody thinks to look down, and so nobody notices the skeleton of a halfling on a ledge some 20ft below, or the dim glimmer of the +1 magical shortsword clutched in its bony fingers.)

As the party venture deeper into the cave, the air grows increasingly foul as they draw closer to the warren of tunnels where the shocker lizards have made their lair. Ordinarily passive omnivores, the lizards can get vicious if their eggs are threatened. Rast goes into stealth mode and creeps through their nesting area - although the lizards cannot see him, they certainly pick up his distinctive scent (a potent combo of stinky cheese feet and chemical detergent) and grow agitated.
Reaching the opposite edge of the lizard's territory, Rast squirms through a narrow crawlspace and emerges into a dusty and disused crypt, sealed off from the rest of the fort when the shocker lizards first started making a nuisance of themselves. With a cheerful disregard for the effort that must have gone into crafting such an item, Rast sets to dulling the blade of his magical dagger by scraping away the mortar from between the stones of the sealed stairwell. His labours are interrupted when the skeletons of the former Black Arrows pop out of the dark alcoves where they'd been lain to rest, their repose disturbed by the industrious dwarf's infernal racket.

Alarmed by Rast's (somewhat girly) shriek, the rest of the heroes rush into the crowded lizard warrens. Karrack plays the PARLAY Adventure Card and addresses the shocker lizards in their own (forked) tongue. The lizards see the Saurian monk as an avatar of a superior race - the apex of their own evolutionary journey, as a result they are surprisingly receptive to his suggestion that they all go kick some ogre butt!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 6 (27/09/2012) - Part Two

Back in the crypt, Rast is hard-pressed to fend off a group of undead rangers, garbed in tattered leather and brandishing rusty swords with nothing short of the skill they must have honed in life. Asha and Ben are the first to reach the dwarf's side, hacking the skeletons into an untidy jumble of mouldering bones. To their vexation, the fragments immediately begin reassembling themselves, like some ghastly jigsaw puzzle. Ben's keen eyes spot a spectral figure floating nearby, so he targets it with Jet. Pierced by the sorcerous beam, the baleful ghost implodes, showering the ranger in ectoplasmic residue (re: ghost goo). Rast scoops some into a flask, so as to explore its alchemical qualities at his earliest convenience. The rest of the skeletons collapsed when the spirit was banished.

Digging through the pile of bones, Ben finds a fine bow with one skeletal fist still firmly attached. Attempting to prise the bony fingers loose, the shrivelled hand suddenly scuttles up his arm and grabs him by the throat! As the ranger begins to turn a funny colour, Asha lunges across the crpty and wrenches the murderous fist off Ben's jugular before pulverising it into a fine, white powder (which Rast surreptitiously scrapes into a small, leather pouch).

Grogg barges through the weakened wall into the dingy dungeons beneath Fort Rannick. The familiar figure of Kaven Windstrike dangles upside down from a knotted rope, blood from many wounds pooling between the flagstones below. Before the party can cut him down, the Lady Lucrecia (former owner of the 'Paradise' riverboat) appears on a balcony overlooking the heroes, flanked by a group of heavily armed/armoured ogres. She explains how Kaven first betrayed his brothers-in-arms for little more than a few nights of sordid passion, then returned to sell out the heroes - not that the ruthless Lamia ever had any intention to reward the ranger's (dis)loyalty with anything but a lingering death.
Three armoured ogres carelessly swinging spiked flails wade into combat, while the other (less formidably attired) brutes hurl blocks of rubble down from the balcony. Karrack drives the shocker lizards into the fray before joining the battle himself. He becomes entangled in the chain of an ogre's flail and topples to the ground, struggling helplessly as the fight rages on all around his prone figure. Another ogre drops a huge block of masonry on a cluster of his reptilian allies, squashing them into jelly.
Ben casts Blast, but the ogres duck behind their heavy shields and advance. Rast lingers in the stairwell, buffing his stealth modifiers - when he tries to join the fight, he discovers Lucrecia has summoned a Barrier to prevent the party retreating into the tunnels - and him from leaving them to help his friends! Grogg brawls his way up onto the balcony and charges towards the Lamia Matriarch, who attempts to restore her compulsion over the half-orc, via the Sideheron star inked onto his skin. But Grogg has already broken her spell once - and he resists again! The expression of surprise scarcely has time to register on Lucrecia's face before 'Monica' cleaves her beautiful head from her shoulders!

Even with the Lamia defeated, the armoured ogres remain a daunting threat and someone (I forget who) plays the REINFORCEMENTS Adventure Card to pull in some much needed support. Up out of the caves spill a small army of goblin warriors, with Snot at its head! The party finish off the ogres and secure the area before contemplating how to deal with Kaven Windstrike.
The traitor pleads for his life, swearing that Lucrecia used her magic to seduce and trick him into betraying Fort Rannick to the ogres. Jakardros and Vale are unmoved by his pleas - the Order of the Black Arrow was almost destroyed thanks to his duplicity - and chop of his head.

Mounting the goblin fighters on shocker lizard cavalry, the heroes emerge into the inner bailey and engage the rest of the ogres in a brutal contest for occupation of the castle. While individual shocker lizards do not present a dire threat to the ogres, so many of them congregated in a confined space has a curious effect on the storm-wracked skies - bolts of lightning bombard the compound, blasting whole groups of armoured ogres into wide, smouldering craters! Grogg imbibes more of Rast's marvellous medicine and bulldozes through the enemy lines, scattering ogres like tenpins in the wake of a particularly ugly, green bowling ball.
In the midst of the battle, the five heroes find themselves separated from their allies, facing off against the leader of the ogres, a mountainous specimen looming a whole head and shoulders taller than any of its kin; Papa Jargaath Kreeg!

While the rest of the party engage Papa Kreeg's entourage of ogre mages (their eyes and mouths sewn shut with human hair), Grogg and Ben Kotek clash against the huge ogre patriarch. One of the ogre wizards casts Shrink Person on Grogg, reducing the half-orc to the height of a gnome! Papa Kreeg roars with good cheer and raises his foot, preparing to stamp the pint-sized gladiator into the muddy ground, but Mini-Grogg braces himself against the sole of the ogre's enormous boot and pushes back - shoving the patriarch off balance! Enraged, Papa Kreeg sweeps his ogre-hook in a deadly arc, grievously wounding Mini-Grogg and eviscerating Ben Kotek, whose lower intestines make a surprise guest appearance. Plucking the helpless ranger out of the mud, Papa Kreeg smacks his lips and readies to suck Ben's delicious entrails out of his stomach.....

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 7 (04/10/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben Kotek (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recently wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Steboucha : Antony (aka Solaris, the elven warrior monk! Formerly a handsome vagrant with no recollection of his own history, a chance encounter while adventuring with the party unearthed many painful memories - memories that perhaps may have best been forgotten....)

Mal kicks off the final session by immediately playing the SECOND WIND Adventure Card, which removes all wounds that one character has taken during the current combat. Ben Kotek staggers back into the fray, holding his guts in with one hand and brandishing his katana in the other! He casts Jet against Papa Kreeg, pinning the ogre patriarch to the ground (after Vic played another Adventure Card that caused the hefty fellow to fall arse over tit in the treacherous muck). Karrack leaps onto the flailing brute's broad chest and sinks the two serpent fang daggers (looted off Lucrecia's headless corpse) into his bulging eyes sockets. Blinded, Papa Kreeg hurls the lizardman off and recovers his feet, swinging his great-axe wildly and hitting nothing (not with a cumulative -11 penalty on his Fighting roll!). Still shrunken, Mini-Grogg scampers merrily beneath the blade and attaches himself to the towering ogre's shin, like a dog dry humping it's owners leg. Papa Kreeg roars and tries to dislodge the midget menace. Seizing the moment, Karrack vaults onto the ogre's shoulders and stabs him in the ear. Papa Kreegs totters as blood streams from his sightless eye sockets, then topples face first into the mud. Rast glances across sheepishly from where he has has been busy looting the dead ogre mages, while the rest of the company fought for their lives.

With the defeat of their patriarch, the surviving ogres cut their losses and abandon Fort Rannick, retreating back into the wilderness. Antony/Solaris is almost trampled beneath the stampeding horde as he swaggers back from another of his mysterious absences.
Having recaptured Fort Rannick, the heroes tend to their wounds. Asha stitches up Ben's stomach, while Rast creeps around under his mantle of invisibility, looking for unattended treasure. The pious dwarf decides against pocketing the change out of the collection plate in the desecrated chapel, but eagerly prises a valuable-looking battle-axe from the stony grip of a statue of Erastil.
Karrack and Snot mourn the goblin casualties, while Grogg piles ogre corpses onto a roaring pyre.

Jakardros Sovark and Vale Temros both emerged from the fighting with minor injuries. Shalelu Andosana agrees to delay her return to Sandpoint, while she helps her father rebuild Fort Rannick and recruit/train a new generation of Black Arrows. Grogg immediately volunteers and a lucky Persuasion roll convinces the rangers to (grudgingly) suffer the goblins and shocker lizards to co-inhabit the caves below the castle and serve the order as mounted scouts.

Having completed their primary objective, the party consider their immediate future. They could return to Magnimar and claim the gold for a job well done - but in light of recent revelations (the trifling matter of an evil giant inciting the ogres to wage war on Varisia) - they cannot bring themselves to abandon the good people of Turtleback Ferry while Barl Breakbones is still at liberty. They resolve to make haste for the Kreeg Clanhold on Hook Mountain, where the giant is overseeing the muster of his army. Grogg is dispatched to track down Fred the Ogre, whom the party suspect can lead them straight to the remote clanhold. Rast accompanies the half-orc, hoping to extract some more venom from the body of the giant spider they left mouldering in the barn.

Several hours after the two of them set off, the heroes recuperating at Fort Rannick hear an ominous thundering that rattles the foundations of the castle. Looking to the north, they are appalled to see a large section of the Skulls Crossing dam has broken away! Water from the great Storval Deep is flooding the valley! The strong walls of the fortress protect those fortunate enough to be behind them from the deluge, but the subterranean lizard warrens below the keep begin filling with water. Karrack and the goblins risk their own lives to rescue the unhatched eggs from the flooded tunnels.
Meanwhile, Ben Kotek casts Blast over the forest, hoping to draw Rast and Grogg's attention to their IMMINENT DOOM!!!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 7 (04/10/2012) - Part Two

Trudging through the murky forest, Rast and Grogg glance over their shoulders as Ben's magical flare explodes overhead. They spot the towering wall of water rushing towards them at tremendous speed and absolutely brown their britches. Rast clambers into the upper branches of a convenient tree and spreads his makeshift wings, waiting for the opportune moment to launch himself into the air. Grogg (who cannot fly) has little alternative but to make a mad dash towards the Graul farmstead and hope to find shelter from the monstrous wave.
Rast waits until the last moment to make his Flying check - and he rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE! The harpy wings become fouled in the branches and the dwarf has barely enough time to curse his misfortune before the wall of water hits him like a colossal warhammer.
Meanwhile, Grogg reaches the farm mere moments ahead of the wave. Fred the Ogre lumbers out of the barn (having crept back to scavenge for food after the party had left). The two of them leap into the bed of the wagon parked beside the neglected cornfield and hang on for dear life as the water snatches up their little boat! Grogg spots Rast's limp body rushing passed (Vic spent a Benny to facilitate this fortunate coincidence), his ruined wings keeping him afloat. The half-orc scoops Rast into the cart and applies mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Rast regains consciousness - but immediately wishes he hadn't.
This unlikely trio eventually drift into the flooded town of Turtleback Ferry, where the townsfolk are too preoccupied saving their possessions from the rising water to much care about the group's unusual mode of transit.
Rast and his wife are briefly re-united, before he packs her off to the (dubious) safety of Fort Rannick with the rest of the villagers, while he and Grogg help the Mayor evacuate the town.

Meanwhile, Karrack ascends the tower overlooking the castle to better survey the damage to Skulls Crossing. He can make out familiar, ogre-shaped figures at work along the top of the dam. He also spots a huge shadow being swept towards Turtleback Ferry. The leviathan breaks the surface momentarily and the Saurian monk glimpses the aquatic terror known locally as Black Maga, a primeval terror whispered to occupy the lightless depths of the Storval Deep. Karrack, Ben Kotek, Asha and Antony/Solaris pile into the Black Arrow's only boat and start rowing after the monster.

Having crowded the residents of Turtleback Ferry onto the free giant turtle-shell rafts that gave the town its name, Rast and Grogg begin the arduous voyage back to Fort Rannick, a crippling struggle against the swift current. One of the three rafts is capsized, spilling screaming villagers into the swift water as Black Maga makes her presence known! Three huge, scaly heads on the end of long, sinuous necks snake out of the flooded river and begin preying on the terrified townsfolk. One head exhales a cloud of poisonous breath over the little boat that Grogg and Rast have commandeered. The dwarven alchemist has developed an immunity to fouler fumes than this creature can produce (re: every time he passes wind) and is unaffected. Grogg leaps to his feet and cleaves the offending head clean off in a single stroke, nearly upsetting their own vessel in the process! A second head pluck Fred the Ogre out of the boat - but has trouble swallowing the struggling brute, whose thrashing legs protrude comically from the monster's fanged jaws.
As the rest of the party s-l-o-w-l-y catch up, Karrack slips overboard and swims ahead. Ben and Asha target the monster with ranged attacks (both magical and mundane) from the rocking boat, while Antony/Solaris rows them in circles.

Misliking the (acquired) taste of ogre-flesh, Black Maga retches what's left of Fred back up. Dripping corrosive stomach acid, the ogre's trusty hook snags on the leviathans scaly armour and fillets the serpentine neck as he plunges into the river, opening its throat like the zipper on a winter coat. Two down, one to go! The final head smashes the small boat into flotsam, tossing Rast and Grogg into the roiling water. While the prudent dwarf paddles for higher ground, Grogg splashes recklessly towards Black Maga!
Ben, Asha and Antony/Solaris float up just in time to witness the half-orc severing the final head, hacking into the scaly trunk as a lumberjack would an ancient oak. As the dying leviathan's death throes churn up the bloody water, Karrack rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE on his Swimming check to get clear of the flailing tentacles. The Saurian monk is entangled and dragged down after the sinking body. Rast immediately dives after his scaly friend, a tense thirty seconds pass and neither emerge from the turbulent depths. Grogg instructs Fred the Ogre to help, then watches the ogre sink. Thoughtless of his own safety (or just generally thoughtless), the half-orc (still wearing full plate mail!) wades out after him. Rast - hacking at the thick tentacle wrapped around Karrack's torso - pauses to watch as first Fred, then Grogg plunge passed on their way to the bottom of the river. Once freed, Karrack rolls his eyes and swims after them. Somehow, the lizardman manages to haul the armoured half-orc up to the surface (Doug rolled really well on his Swimming roll, even with the -5 penalty).

Having defeated Black Maga and saved (most of) the villagers, Mayor Shreed pleads with the party to make all haste to Skulls Crossing and prevent the ogres from demolishing the rest of the dam. If they succeed and the Storval Deep spills into the valley, Turtleback Ferry, Fort Rannick and all of the neighbouring villages along Lake Claybottom will be utterly obliterated! The heroes shanghai a couple of fishermen to ferry them to the foot of the crumbling Thassilonian edifice, where they disembark and begin the exhausting climb. Along the cliff-side stair, they encounter evidence of a violent struggle between the ogres and the tribe of trolls that have long laired within the dam. Atop Skulls Crossing, the two forces are still in conflict - even as the dam cracks and crumbles below their feet!

The heroes must triumph over both bestial factions and find a way to avert ABSOLUTE DISASTER - before the dam falls apart with them still inside it!!!

To be continued... in a future rotation!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We will be playing RotRL for the next 8 weeks, I'm hoping to finish Hook Mountain Massacre and Fortress of the Stone Giants in that time. Questions & Comments welcome, just so I know someone is reading the thread. :p

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3) – 27/02/2014 (Hook Mountain Massacre)

By the time the heroes reach the top of Skull Crossing, the Kreeg ogres have slain the trolls inhabiting the ancient dam and set to demolishing the crumbling stonework.

“I told you we shouldn’t have stopped for ice cream!” Ben Kotek chastises Grogg, as the half-orc wipes a smear of raspberry ripple off his chin.

The party must wade through rushing water to reach the ogres. Karrack fumbles his Agility roll and is swept away. The plummeting lizardman manages to drive his staff into a deep crack in the face of the dam. He dangles there for a while, admiring the view. Two ogres are killed before the others even notice that they are under attack. Most of them are wielding huge hammers/flails, but a couple begin throwing large clay vessels imaginatively called boomjars (because they go boom!). Ben Kotek mislikes the notion of ogres tossing explosives around and casts Entangle to prevent further munitions from being lobbed. Unfortunately, the muscular brutes are rolling d12+3 to break free, so they do not stay entangled for long. Solaris takes careful aim and shoots an ogre as he is picking up another boomjar. The clumsy monster drops the clay vessel, setting off a chain reaction that detonates the rest of the explosives.

KABOOM!

Fred (Grogg’s pet ogre) is vaporised in the subsequent firestorm, while the rest of the party are pelted with chunks of smoking masonry. Picking themselves up, the heroes soon realise that the explosion has blocked the entrance to the dam with smouldering rubble.

“Oh, well done, Solaris.”

While the others mock the elven monk, Rast siphons blood from the few ogres not completely char-grilled in the explosion. The dwarven alchemist notes that several ogres are missing their eyeballs. Ben Kotek whistles nonchalantly, pockets bulging. Far below, Karrack notices that the cracks spreading across the face of the dam have opened an alternative route inside. The rest of the heroes abseil down to the lizardman’s position. Grogg struggles to squeeze his girth through the narrow crevasse.

“You’re stuck, aren’t you?” Karrack asks, after a few, uncomfortable moments.

“No.” Grogg lies, “It’s just a bit tight.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten all that ice cream!” Ben says smugly.

“Get Rast down here!” Karrack calls.

Rast coats Grogg in an alchemical lubricant distilled from tentamort fat. The half-orc emerges from the crevasse slippery and stinking of squid. The heroes make haste to the control room, searching for the mechanism to open the floodgates and avert the imminent calamity. They soon discover that the flood gates are powered by the life force of two ancient demons, trapped for aeons within a pair of magical circles. The first is barely alive and the other has been reduced to dust (which Rast scoops up) the last time the device was activated. The surviving fiend stirs and introduces itself as Avaxial, promising eternal servitude if the party release him from his prison.

“A vacancy has just opened up….” Grogg muses, lamenting the loss of his pet ogre. The rest of the party pile on top of him, before he can scuff out the magical circle trapping the demon.

With time running out, the party waste precious minutes bickering among themselves. Nobody wants to risk being reduced to dust, just to save the people of Turtleback Ferry.

“We could draw straws?” Karrack suggests.

“Arm-wrestling!” roars Grogg.

“How about a beauty contest?” counters Solaris, looking simply fabulous.

Ultimately, the groups three magic-users work together to channel their arcane energy into the empty circle, which (they hope) will fool the device into believing there is a living being in each one. Surprisingly, this actually works! Rast throws the huge levers, opening the floodgates. Turtleback Ferry is saved! There is much cheering and clapping of backs. Avaxial is vaporised of course, but that’s his problem.

The groups revelry is cut short when a siren wails, deafeningly loud. By flooding the magic circles with power, the party have overcharged the device! The power is building to perilous levels! If the party can’t find a way to stabilise the circles, the dam may still be destroyed!

“There’s got to be something we can do!” Ben says, “I know! We can run away!”

Karrack and Grogg race after the cowardly ranger, dodging falling rubble as the dam continues to break asunder. Rast and Solaris stay behind, determined to delay the explosion long enough for their friends to escape the blast radius. (This sequence was treated as a Dramatic Task. They managed to accumulate nine of the ten successes required to avert disaster).

“It was nice knowing you.” Solaris says to Rast, as the energy reaches critical levels.

Suddenly, Steve (Solaris’ player) decides to play the Malfunction adventure card – and the deadly arcane energy dissipates harmlessly into the surrounding stone. Rast and Solaris share a sigh of relief (otherwise, they would have both taken 3d10 = 27 damage in the resultant explosion).

Triumphant, the heroes return to Fort Rannick, where the refugees from Turtleback Ferry are being housed until the floodwaters subside. Now that he has the Repair skill (d4), Rast repairs his makeshift glider (making a couple of modifications to the design) and comforts his wife, who is not enjoying her honeymoon as much as she’d hoped. She had been expecting more candles and fewer ogres. Karrack persuades Mayor Shreed to allow several goblins to shadow the human stone-masons sent to repair the (extensive) damage to Skull Crossing. Grogg paddles down to the flooded village to recover several of Black Maga’s heads. He stacks this gristly totem in the castle courtyard and poses beside it, while a goblin artist paints his portrait. From the window of his chamber, Ben Kotek gazes avidly at the six, huge eyes staring lifelessly from the hydra’s three severed heads. How magnificent they would look in his collection! He begins to gibber and drool, scrawling unknowable glyphs onto the walls.

Vale Temros (one of the three rangers whom the party rescued from the Graul farmstead) approaches Grogg and convinces him to participate in a daring raid on the Kreeg clanhold, high on Hook Mountain. When Grogg tries to sell the others on this course of action, it begins to sound less like a daring raid and more like a suicide mission.

Vale had intended to assault the main entrance of the clanhold head-on. Ben Kotek scouts the rocky foothills and locates a network of caves, which he believes will enable the group to sneak into the ogre stronghold from below. These natural tunnels lead into the Kreeg’s mining operation beneath Hook Mountain. The heroes immediately begin slaughtering the fatigued miners (so much for the stealthy approach!).

To be continued....

(I ran Vales Temros as a medieval Mr. T, which seemed to go down well with the players). :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3) – 06/03/2014

Following the rusty rails of the old mine-cart track, Rast advances ahead of the party, shrouded in his Cloak of Lurking Menace (+2 stealth). He is soon crouched on a ledge overlooking a huge cavern aswarm with industrious ogres. The sweltering air rings with the clang of metal as the muscular brutes labour at their anvils, pounding shapeless metal into crude, oversized weapons. Two enormous vats of molten iron bubble and spit – and beyond that, the shaft of a large freight elevator ascends through the roof of the cavern. This mechanism is powered by a miserable collection of human/dwarven prisoners, trapped in a huge wheel at the base of the shaft. Their pleas for water and mercy are distantly audible, even over the general clamour of the foundry.

Rast returns to the party, reporting that the area ahead is teeming with ogres.

“Ogres?” Vale Temros enquires.

“Yes, lots of ogres,” the dwarven alchemist answers distractedly. “I propose that we sneak passed without drawing their attention and see if there’s any way to rescue - ”

“OGRES!!!” Vale Temros roars, charging off down the tunnel.

“He really doesn’t care for ogres, does he?” Ben Kotek observes, readying his bow.

(GM Notes: Again, so much for the stealthy approach, although this time it was an NPCs fault).

By the time they catch up with the bloodthirsty ranger, he is already trading blows with two of the hulking ogre metalworkers, while yet more crowd around to watch. The Kreeg overseer cracks his whip, ordering the distracted brutes to return to their work.

Rast flings himself from the ledge, the harpy wings of his glider snapping open on recently oiled springs. The thermal currents rising from the two huge vats of molten iron allow him to remain airborne almost indefinitely. One ogre takes umbrage with the dwarf’s blatant disregard for the rules of gravity and hurls a hammer at his head. Rast looses a couple of teeth, but remains in the air.

Grogg and Asha rush to support Vale, while Solaris snipes from the ledge. The burly ranger takes a nasty blow to the head and falls unconscious. The ogres place his body on an anvil and prepare to beat his skull into a more pleasing shape. As the hammer descends with bone-shattering force, Asha leaps forward and slices off the ogre’s arm. The hammer strikes the anvil (inches away from Vale’s head) throwing up sparks. Another ogre grabs the sun-worshipping cleric in his muscular arms, tendons straining as he begins squeezing the life out of her. Grogg hurls his magical battleaxe at the ogre’s head, burying the wicked blade deep in the monster’s skull.

Meanwhile, Ben Kotek repeatedly casts Blast (burning through Power Points like a fat child eats Smarties), mangling ogres left, right and centre. At the far end of the cavern, the large elevator begins to descend, groaning with the weight of its load. An angry stone giant emerges from the lift and tips over one of the two vats of molten metal. Everyone (except for Grogg and a couple of ogres) make their agility saves and get up onto the oversized anvils to evade the puddle of death. Grogg takes 3d10 = 6 damage (oh, fickle dice!) and refuses to catch fire. The half-orc begins splashing around (incurring horrific burns, but no actual wounds), searching for the magical axe that he threw earlier in the combat.

(GM Notes: The other players thought I was too lenient on Vic’s character and should not have allowed Grogg to wade around in a pool of molten metal. I rolled 3d10 damage for every round that he was splashing around (Vic really wanted that axe back before the iron cooled/solidified) and not once did the result exceed Grogg’s TN - even without his AV bonus. Those rolls could just have easily exploded for massive damage. Perhaps I should have rolled 2d10+4 instead).

Still flying, Rast circles the giant and chucks a pot of alchemical glue at its legs, adhering its great stone feet to the ground. Ben targets the immobilised giant with Jet (rolling exceptional damage on 2d10) and kills it with just the one spell. The giant topples over backwards, crashing through the huge wheel at the base of the lift shaft and releasing the prisoners who had been trapped within. Grogg and Karrack both play adventure cards to establish themselves as folk heroes in the vicinity of Hook Mountain.

“Thank-you for rescuing us!” one particular dwarf says, pumping Rast’s hand in his, “My name is Silas Vekker. Tell me, where is my brother? Is he well?”

Silas explains that his brother (Karivek Vekker) escaped from his cell two days ago and climbed the elevator shaft, hoping to escape from the clanhold and return with reinforcements to free the rest of his kin.

“Never met the fellow!” Rast answers cheerfully, “He’s probably been eaten. Did he have any good treasure?”

(GM Notes: This was a long battle for Savage Worlds, with lots of combatants and environmental hazards. With TN 12, ogres can be tough to put down, but most of the players are now dealing enough damage to take them out pretty quickly (Grogg is a viking in melee, Ben with the Blast power, Solaris using the Aim + Double Shot edge combo) Maybe I should give Savage Worlds ogres the Hardy ability, so that a second shaken result does not incapacitate them. Doug did had some trouble, I’m pretty sure that Karrack spent the entire fight trading blows with the same ogre. Gary did not build Rast for close combat and he avoids it religiously, relying on alchemical devices and his returning dagger to attack from range. I did impose the unstable platform ability to attack from the air, but that can be negated by taking the Steady Hands edge on a future Advance. I enjoyed running this fight, even though it did take ages, I just hope the players were not bored between turns).

Following Karivek’s example, the heroes climb the lift shaft and enter the ogre hold unremarked. Having learnt their lesson, Asha distracts Vale Temros by displaying a shameful amount of cleavage, while the rest of the party range ahead and slaughter any sentries that they find. Eventually, the party enters a noxious-smelling cave, where three ogre-sized hags cluster around a bubbling cauldron. This coven of loathsome old crones (Briselda, Grelthaga & Lorastine) are responsible for the unnaturally heavy rainfall plaguing the region.

Grelthaga is dealt a Joker during initiative and acts first, enjoying a +2 bonus to her spellcasting dice. She casts Blind and Ben, Grogg and Asha are all suddenly robbed of their sight.

(GM Note: I don’t like how the Blind power works in the rules as written, so I changed it up to impose the standard -6 penalty to do anything based on vision for the three rounds that the power lasts. Grelthaga could have extended the duration by spending power points, but that would have been a dick move and I didn’t do it. I got the impression these three players were not happy about being knocked out of the combat for three rounds, but I did advise them there was nothing to stop them wading in and rolling their attacks with a -6 penalty, dice do explode after all. I had thought that Grogg would have done that, but he ended up cowering in the tunnel, waiting for the spell to expire like everyone else).

Karrack rushes forward and drives his spear through Briselda’s eye, killing her instantly!

(GM Notes: This was a stupid GM mistake, I forgot that each of the hags was a Wild Card with multiple wounds – by the time I remembered, it was too late to do anything about it. I did consider dropping this fight altogether and going straight to the confrontation with Barl, but the heavy rainfall was such a big part of the villain's plans that I didn't feel I could overlook the cause of it).

Grelthaga lashes out with her filthy claws, scoring deep gouges in the side of the cauldron as Karrack ducks behind it. The final hag casts Baleful Shapechange against Vale Temros, transforming him into a pig. Her wicked cackling is interrupted when the animal sinks its teeth into her shin. Infuriated, she snatches the scrappy man-pig up and bites off its head! Salty pig blood gushes from between rotten, brown teeth.

Next, Lorastine attempts to transform Karrack into a frog, but he resists the effects of the spell. The lizardman monk subsequently kills her and Grethalga in a flurry of scaly fists!

Rast dredges the bottom of the cauldron and finds the skeletal remains of Silas Vekker’s missing brother, recognisable by the distinctive ring on one of his bony fingers.

Grogg recovers his vision just as the battle ends.

“Is anyone going to finish that pig?” he asks, stomach rumbling.

---

New Treasure

Ring of Miner’s Luck: A plain copper band that grows warmer the closer the wearer is to an unworked seam of precious metal. Highly valued by dwarven prospectors.

Vekker’s Pick: +1 (fighting/damage) pickaxe belonging to Karivek Vekker, functions as a +2 weapon when brandished by a dwarf.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 3) – 13/03/2014

The party confront Barl Breakbones (the stone giant necromancer responsible for the attack on Fort Rannick) in his throne room. The centre of the cavern is dominated by a deep pit, which the heroes soon discover is chock full of corpses (mostly ogres).

“So! You must be the meddlers who have been….” Here Barl pauses, struggling to find the right word, before lamely deciding on; “Meddling. In my plans.”

Rast runs to the edge of the corpse pit and takes wing (GM Notes: I dearly hoped Gary would botch this roll and fall into the hole). Barl’s two stone giant bodyguards swat at him ineffectually as he glides towards the throne. The necromancer waves his hand lazily, conjuring an invisible wall of force between himself and the dwarven bomber. Rast collides with the magical barrier and falls out of the sky. One of the bodyguards raises its huge, stone foot to stamp on the stunned dwarf. Rast rolls out of the way, bouncing down the oversized steps. He stops himself just short of rolling straight over the edge of the corpse pit.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party tackle the last handful of Kreeg ogres left on Hook Mountain. Moments after the heroes cut them down, Barl’s hands crackle with necromantic energy. He reanimates the slain ogres as lumbering zombies! Barl’s bodyguards wade into the fray, swinging their tree-trunk sized clubs in devastating arcs. Several undead ogres are knocked into the air, after shambling mindlessly into the path of these huge weapons. Grogg gets himself incapacitated and both Karrack and Ben are crippled (with two & three wounds respectively).

(GM Notes: The players agreed this was easily the toughest fight thus far in the campaign. This was most due to three factors. 1: I had previously been capping wounds at 4, making it much easier to recover from injury on the subsequent soak rolls, I only realised my mistake at the start of this rotation. 2: The ogres are rolling d12+d8+3 on a standard hit and the giants were even stronger! 3: My dice were on fire tonight, around 50% of the (fighting) rolls I made exploded, adding additional d6 to the already horrific amount of damage that the opposition could deal out.
The players could have retreated… but they wouldn’t have done. The combat could possibly have resulted in a TPK if Gary hadn’t played the Reinforcements adventure card when he did – see below).

Things are looking pretty grim for the heroes. Asha crouches next to Grogg’s body, forcing healing potions down his throat. Ignoring their grievous injuries, Karrack and Ben struggle to hold the stone giants back. Suddenly, seven of the dwarven prisoners that the party rescued during the last session charge into the throne room. The dwarves occupy the remaining ogres, allowing the heroes to focus their attacks on the two stone giants. Karrack kills the first by driving his staff up through the roof of its mouth and into its brain. The second giant roars and sweeps its club towards the Saurian monk. Karrack channels his chi into his staff. When the two weapons meet, the giant’s club explodes, leaving the towering thug dazed. Karrack takes advantage of his opponent’s confusion to jab his staff into the giant’s eye socket!

Barl Breakbones rises from his throne and joins the battle. The heroes pile into him. (GM: The players inflicted some significant damage in that first round, but Barl rolled really well on his soak rolls, leading to some frustration around the table as the necromancer shrugged off what should have been debilitating attacks). Doug plays the Villainous Monologue adventure card and Barl wastes his next turn explaining (at great length) his role in the imminent invasion of Varisa.

“My master Mokmorian is gathering giants to his fortress of Jorgenfist!” he says, “The weapons being forged below this very mountain will arm his horde. Your cities will be reduced to rubble beneath their feet and your kinsmen taking as their slaves.”

Eventually, after exhausting all his bennies, inflicting three wounds and one level of fatigue (tentamort venom!), Asha finishes Barl off with a 3d6 bolt of holy fire, reducing the stone giant to a pile of steaming slag.

(GM Notes: The players agreed that this was easily the most challenging fight of the campaign to date. I was reasonably happy with how things went. There was a real risk of death, but nobody actually died. I designed the confrontation to be difficult, as Barl is the BBEB in this module of the AP. The group are now 50% of the way through Rise of the Runelords.
I won’t deny that Savage Worlds is ‘Fun’ and ‘Furious’ (because it is!), but it’s perhaps not as Fast as advertised in the blurb. Sometimes, there are just too many modifiers on any one roll for things to run smoothly. Some players were rolling Fighting + Wild Attack + Gang up bonus + Large target modifier – Multi-Action penalty – Off-Hand penalty = too much math!!!).

The heroes loot the room. Beside the throne rest three large, stone chests; each one is brimming with gold and precious stones. A note (written in giantish, which Jarkardros later translates) from Mokmorian instructs that the treasure should be used to buy the support of the local giants.

“I can think of a better use for all this coin.” Grogg says, filling his pockets.

“Money won’t buy you happiness.” Solaris warns him.

“I don’t want to buy it,” Grogg replies, “Just rent it by the hour.”

Amongst the gold, the heroes find a number of magical items; +3 damage slingshot, +1 attack/+1 damage spear, +2 damage halberd, scroll of Obscure, ring of power surge. Looting the dead, Ben Kotek claims Barl’s Belt of Exceptional Intellect (+3 smarts) – which the stone giant had been wearing as a bracelet.

“Quick! Someone hand me a Sudoku!” he calls, buckling it around his waist.

He solves the puzzle easily. Rast watches the ranger enviously. He wonders if Ben would consider exchanging the belt for bucket of eyeballs.

(GM Notes: All of the treasure (apart from the stuff taken off Barl’s corpse) was randomly generated using the table in the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion. I regret asking the players to roll 1d100 to see if they found something, as everyone succeeded except Andy. I should have just let everyone roll up one random item and then decide amongst themselves how to distribute them amongst the party. You can sometimes get some strange results by randomly generating loot (magical bagpipes?), but this time they got a fairly decent haul of magical weapons. Karrack claimed the spear and Asha will wear the ring, but I doubt the sling or halberd will see much use, regardless of the modifiers they impart upon fighting/damage).

The heroes return to Fort Rannick with Vale’s (headless) body and Barl’s (bodiless) head (which the Black Arrows mount over their gate). The players get to enjoy some well deserved downtime. Wearing the Ring of Miner’s Fortune, Rast locates a promising vein of silver ore and uses his share of the party loot to stake a claim. He offers jobs to the dwarves rescued from the ogre clanhold and employs Silas Vekker as his foreman. Ameiko does not care for her husband’s jealous love of gold and badgers him to take her home to Sandpoint. (GM Notes: The issue of Rast’s surname came up this session, as now that Ameiko is married to him, surely it is her surname also? Ultimately, Gary decided on Sternhammer. I wonder how this will affect Jade Regent if we ever play that campaign in the future?). Karrack oversees the repairs to Skull Crossing and Solaris goes looking for elf friends with whom he can share his elf problems. Meanwhile, Ben Kotek struts around Turtleback Ferry, enjoying the sense of smug superiority that his new belt affords him.

Grogg uses his share of the treasure to repair and refurbish the ‘Paradise’ riverboat, restoring the vessel to some semblance of its former splendour. He renames it the ‘Everstill’ and opens for business. He advertises for a captain and Snot the goblin applies for the job. Grogg rejects his application out of hand. The next day, construction work on the dam grinds to a halt, as ALL the goblins form a picket line along the waterfront.

“We’re only goblins, what’s the worst that can happen?” they chant, waving their placards.

Karrack is forced to mediate between Grogg and the goblin union. The half-orc grudgingly agrees to hire Snot on a trial basis (“If we sink and drown, you’re fired”).

(GM Notes: The whole group were suspicious of Snot’s enthusiasm to become captain of the ‘Everstill’, they all thought I was planning to destroy the boat that Vic had spent so much character wealth investing in. Not so! I just wanted to keep Snot in the story and thought the idea of a goblin captain was amusing. Most of the decisions I make are determined by what I think will be most amusing).

After several months downtime, the heroes decide to return to Magnimar/Sandpoint. They plan to travel in style and comfort aboard the ‘Everstill’. Tempers flare when Grogg announces that he expects them to pay for their passage. The riverboat docks in Whistledown to pick up passengers & provisions. Grogg is approached by two gnomish gentleman calling themselves Stickle and Badcrumble. They claim to be huge fans and ask him to join them for dinner. Grogg is flattered and goes with them. He doesn’t come back. The next day, the rest of the group start looking for the wayward gladiator. Rast finds him unconscious in an alley, with a string of stitches around the circumference of his head. Solaris examines the drooling half-orc and opines that someone has cut open his skull!

To be continued…!

(GM Notes: I regret that I handled that last bit a bit clumsily. I wanted to sew the seeds of a Grogg-centric side mission later in the campaign, but for it to work, I needed a piece of Grogg’s brain. There were altogether too many opportunities for the rest of the party to get involved and interrupt what was going on, so I took Vic aside and asked his permission to narrate what happened to his character with little opportunity for the rest of the characters to intervene. Hopefully it didn’t taste too bitter going down. I’ll be giving Vic an extra benny per session until he recovers what was has been stolen).


I love you guys!


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Thanks for reading/posting! :D

They are a great group of players, although some of the things they get up to make me want to bang my head against the table. :p


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 4) – 20/03/2014

(GM Notes: Doug was absent this week, so Karrack was flying on auto-pilot).

After several days rest, Grogg regains consciousness.

“Please don’t be alarmed,” Solaris says gently from the half-orc’s bedside, “Someone has stolen a large piece of your brain. You should probably have died, but because you used that organ so infrequently, your body has adapted to managing without it. Of course, you could drop dead at any moment – but you should be alright, providing you don’t try to think about anything.”

Forced to confront the grim prospect his own mortality, Grogg summons a (goblin) lawyer to draft his will. It decrees that in the event of Grogg’s untimely death, ownership of the ‘Everstill’ passes to whoever possesses the necklace of gristly trophies (fingers, ears, etc; collected from his opponents in the arena) presently draped around the half-orc’s thick neck.

(GM Notes: Vic seems convinced that I’m trying to kill Grogg off and is taking precautions to ensure his character wealth can be easily/lawfully transferred to a new PC, preventing the rest of the party (coughRastcough) plundering his assets).

Meanwhile, Ben and Asha haggle with the merchants of Whistledown. They’re eager to exchange all the redundant magical gewgaws they’ve accumulated for something they can actually use. The gnomish traders have little to trade beyond intricate clockwork toys and ingenious clocks. Ben sighs and accepts a credit note.

Donning his deerstalker, Rast investigates the mystery of Grogg’s missing brain. After turning over enough stones, he learns two names; Samwick Stickle and Rollo Badcrumble. The former is a disgraced surgeon, the latter a brilliant – but deranged – engineer. The town militia have been looking for the duo due to allegations of unethical experiments being conducted on stray animals and the homeless. They were last known to be hiding out in a dilapidated warehouse on the riverfront. The building appears abandoned, yet the padlock sealing the front entrance is shiny and new. Rast picks the lock easily and slides the door open with a squeal of rusty runners. A half-taut tripwire catches his eye and he disarms the trap easily, disdainful of the sloppy work. Although most of the cavernous space is empty, one corner has been cordoned off. Bloodstained surgical tools lie discarded on a long table, dazzlingly bright amidst the dust. Something dry and brittle crackles underfoot. Dropping to one knee, Rast picks up something small and white(ish) and guesses it is a stray fragment of Grogg’s skull. Rifling through the hastily abandoned lab, Rast uncovers evidence that Monsieur’s Stickle and Badcrumble fled Whistledown earlier that very morning. Their destination: Magnimar. He also finds blueprints indicating that the body-snatchers were assembling some sort of humanoid construct, although the prototype of this device is nowhere to be found.

Once everyone is back aboard the ‘Everstill’, Captain Snot casts off. Goblin sailors scurry to make the vessel ship-shape (what other shape would it be?). The ‘Everstill’ putters west along the river. It is now early spring and the weather is bright, yet chilly. Asha takes the opportunity to soak up some sun, the rest of the passengers take the opportunity to perv on her scantily clad figure. Ben Kotek closets himself in his cabin with a mountain of magical literature (or so he claims, he was really reading the Twilight trilogy). Rast and Ameiko Sternhammer relax and enjoy each other’s company, often sharing meals with Karrack and Shalelu in the casino restaurant. Goblin waiters scurry up to take their order. Uninvited, Grogg pulls up a chair, completely ruining the romantic atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Solaris is enjoying a leisurely soak in the bath. He is washing the ogre blood out of his hair, when someone begins knocking urgently upon the door.

“Who’s out there?” he calls, wrapping a towel around his waist.

There is no answer, just more knocking.

Frustrated by the interruption, Solaris throws open the door. A bloodied dwarf falls forward into his arms, two black arrows sticking out of his back. Immediately, Solaris recognises him - it is the same mute, dwarven monk that the party rescued from Thistletop at the very beginning of their adventuring careers!

“What are you doing here?” Solaris asks.

The monk does not have the strength to respond. With his dying breath, he presses a scrap of bloody parchment into Solaris’ palm.

“Rest in peace, old friend.” Solaris says, lowering the dead dwarf to the floor. A golden whistle dangles from a string around the corpse’s throat. Unfolding the letter, he struggles to decipher the monk’s crabbed handwriting.

‘Brother Solaris,’ he reads, ‘You are in gravest peril. Agents of the Moonspike have escaped the shadowglass, they have abducted your super magical Uncle Aereon and corrupted the sacred relics of our order. I suspect that I have been allowed to escape only so that I may lead our enemies to you, yet find you I must! I can only hope this warning reaches you before it is too late. Your uncle thought he could separate you from your darkness and lock it away, but he was wrong.

< the next paragraph is obscured by blood >

‘Use the whistle to summon envoys of the Sunspire, they will deliver you to the Tower of Two Faces. There you must - ’

A sudden sensation of creeping disquiet causes Solaris to lower the letter. Two black-cowled figures step out of the shadows and attack. Both assassins wield nunchaku, one of which smacks the surprised half-elf in the face. He reels backwards, blood streaming from his nose and narrowly avoids slipping into the bathtub.

“Prepare to die, child of the dawn!” the hooded killers whisper in eerie unison. Both men have elven features and ghost pale skin, luminous beneath their cowls.

Unable to conjure a witty rejoinder, Solaris simply screams for help.

“Keep your girly shrieking down!” Ben Kotek yells, emerging from his cabin, “Some of us are trying to read!”

Realising that Solaris is in trouble, Ben casts Entangle, manifesting a length of magical rope with which to lasso the two robed intruders.

“Who are your creepy looking friends?” Ben asks, bundling the struggling assassins into a broom cupboard.

“Assassins, they were trying to kill me.” Solaris answers.

“Well, aren’t you popular?” Ben chuckles, looping another piece of enchanted rope around the handle, “That should hold them.”

“Ahem....”

Ben and Solaris turn. Asha is standing in the corridor, having emerged from her own cabin to investigate the disturbance.

“I think you’ve dropped something,” she says, averting her eyes. Solaris glances to where his towel fell when the assassins first jumped him.

Meanwhile, Rast’s romantic supper is rudely interrupted when some hooded, albino freak astride a giant owl firebombs the restaurant. Two more assassins appear out of thin air (GM Notes: imagine the way Nightcrawler teleports all over the place in the X Men movies) and attack!

“Ameiko! Stay with Karrack!” Rast instructs his beloved, before dashing onto deck.

Four owls circle the ‘Everstill’, winged shadows in the moonlight. Mounted figures snipe down at the boat or drop jars of alchemical fire, spreading pale blue flames across the deck.

“They’re burning my boat!” Grogg cries, “Nobody burns my boat but me - and maybe Snot!”

The half-orc rushes to the ballista mounted in the prow and begins the arduous process of loading it. An owl swoops towards him, talons poised to claws at his face. Aiming at the bird’s feathery breast, Grogg pulls the trigger (and rolls a critical failure on his unskilled shooting roll). The weapon jams! Realising something is wrong, Grogg dives to one side at the last possible moment and the owl collides with the ballista, tearing the weapon from its frame.

Ben, Asha and Solaris (still wearing naught but a towel to protect his modesty) emerge from below decks. Another owl swoops out of the sky and snatches the ranger up in its claws, carrying him off into the night. Asha casts Bolt, flash-frying the unfortunate bird. The two monks who had been riding the owl teleport to the deck. Ben grabs hold off one of them as they fall and is taken along for the ride. Both men appear, shaken and disorientated by the shared experience. Grogg hammers his shield into the stunned albino’s face, knocking him senseless.

“Who are you people?” the half-orc wants to know, “Why did you attack my boat?”

(GM Notes: Vic played the Spill the Beans adventure card, so the prisoners were more forthcoming that they might have otherwise been).

“We are the shadowcursed monks of Moonspike,” the prisoner responds, “We were dispatched by our master to slay the child of the dawn.”

Grogg looks confused.

“Him!” the monk spits at Solaris.

“Me?!” Solaris asks, “I don’t even know you people! What have you done with my super magical uncle?”

“He is being held prisoner within the Moonspike. If you wish to free him, you will have to return there. Our master is waiting for you. He has been waiting for so long….”

Solaris produces the whistle taken from the dead dwarf and blows into it. Doing so summons a convocation (apparently, thanks Google!) of large, celestial eagles, which bow their heads, inviting the heroes to clamber aboard their broad, feathery backs.

“Look after my boat!” Grogg instructs Captain Snot. The goblin gives him a big, green thumbs up. This seems to satisfy the half-orc.

“Rast Sternhammer! Where do you think you’re going?” Ameiko screeches, storming up to her husband, “Get off that bird this moment! What about the foot massage you promised me?!”

“Sorry darling,” Rast calls over his shoulder as the eagles take off, “I’ll make it up to you when we get back, I promise!”

Her response is lost in the howl of wind as the eagles launch into the sky. They ascend until the ‘Everstill’ is just a ill-defined blot on the blue ribbon river. The eagles soar northerly at great speed, while the heroes cling on for dear life.

“This is a decidedly second class experience!” Ben howls at Solaris, “Couldn’t you have summoned some more comfortable eagles? Mine doesn’t even have a cup holder!”

“Are we there yet?” whines Grogg, “I need the toilet!”

“You’re going to have to hold it!” Solaris snaps.

With all their b%&#!ing, it’s no great surprise that the group fail to notice the enemy fliers until they are amongst them. A great fiendish owl hurtles towards Rast’s mount and attacks it in a flurry of blood and feathers. Realising that his eagle is doomed, the dwarf throws himself into the abyss.

“Dwarf overbird!” Ben shouts.

“I can’t believe you just said that!” laughs Asha.

Plunging towards the distant ground, everyone around the table gets very nervous when the GM asks Gary for a Flying roll to activate his glider (GM Notes: Oh, how I prayed for a critical failure!). The harpy wings spring open and Rast glides along beneath the aerial combat, unobserved (for the time being).

Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes clash with the shadowcursed several thousand feet above the mist-shrouded mountains. Ben rolls a critical failure on his attack roll and somehow beheads his own eagle.

“Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiit!” he curses, tumbling through the clouds. Rast spots his falling friend and angles his wings to intercept - but he is not the only one to have taken an interest in the plummeting ranger (GM Notes: Mal played the Out of the Frying Pan adventure card). Flapping out of the dense clouds, a huge, mommy roc grabs Ben out of the air and carries him back towards her nestful of hungry babies. Rast glides after her, hoping to rescue his friend before he is eaten > regurgitated > eaten again....

To be continued...!

(GM Notes: I wasn’t too happy with how this session went. I decided to deviate from the adventure path and run a few homebrew excursions to encourage the development of certain characters (in this instance, Grogg and Solaris). This essentially meant derailing the story in order to put them onto a new track of my engineering – and the transfer was more than a little jarring. Andy immediately noticed that we were going off-piste.
Another regret was that I hadn’t prepped for the session as well as I could have done. Because Savage Worlds needs so little time/effort to prep (in comparison to other systems), sometimes I overlook elements that I should have paid more attention to. I’d statted up all the new monsters, sure – but I hadn’t given much thought to how these adversaries would respond to the PC’s outside of combat (interrogation) and how they would phrase the information that I needed them to relay, without it sounding clumsy/wooden/forced).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 5) – 27/03/2014

Karrack and Solaris chase after the shadowcursed monks that abducted Asha. By the time they catch up, she has freed herself, defeated her captors and hijacked their owl.

Meanwhile, Ben is carried towards the nest of the roc, where her chicks wait impatiently for breakfast. Ben hacks off the roc’s leg and falls 30ft into the nest. Rast throws a pot of alchemical glue at the enormous bird, sticking its feathers together and hindering flight. The bird lands awkwardly, tipping the nest at an alarming angle. Grogg flies towards the disorientated roc and delivers the coup de grâce.

The heroes adopt the surviving roc chicks as cute party mascots. Grogg slaughters one to feed the other two. Flying on, the heroes soon reach the Sunspire monastery and meet the sunkissed monks that live there.

The monks remember Solaris. They explain that Aereon is not his uncle at all, but the abbot of the monastery. Long ago, a darkness festered within Solaris’ soul and Aereon tried to lock that darkness away. Iit could not be contained and now reaches out to abduct the abbot and the sun relics holy to the monk’s order. Solaris and the others agree to travel through the cracked shadowglass to the Moonspike (a dark reflection of the Sunspire monastery) to release Aeron and defeat Solaris’ dark shadow.

The heroes defeat more shadowcursed monks as they ascend the Moonspike. Atop the tower, they confront the dark fragment of Solaris’ soul. Asha sustains a terrible head injury and collapses insensible near the edge of the tower (only a ridiculously good soak roll avoided death). Gary plays an adventure card on Grogg that allows the half-orc to bypass one character’s invulnerabilities (completely f*cking up the story). Grogg defeats the dark Solaris, who transforms into a dragon!

To be continued….

(GM Notes: Meh).

(Additional GM Notes: I think I’m going through Savage Worlds burnout (again). Deviating from the adventure path has been nothing but trouble and I regret doing it at all and hope to get the plot back onto Paizo’s railroad ASAP. I plan to burn the Savage Worlds adventure deck as soon as this rotation is over, as they have finally outstayed their welcome. I don’t blame Gary, I dealt him a card that gave the party an advantage in what should have been a difficult combat and he used it. However, I hadn’t anticipated how devastating this would be on the plot I had laid out*. I don’t know how to reconcile those plans considering how things panned out at the table, so I’m going to scrap the whole plot and move on from this whole, shambolic episode. I apologize to my players if my general disinterest in the system of late is having an adverse effect on their enjoyment. Thankfully, it will be over soon).

* in a nutshell: Lunaris (the bad Solaris) can only be harmed by sunlight. When the party rescued Abbot Aeron, he sacrifices himself to become a magical sword that deals sunlight damage. He also unlocks Solaris’ memories, revealing he is actually a dragon, albeit one with a split personality, which the monks tried to cure by removing his inner darkness and locking it away.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 6) – 10/04/2014

Atop the crumbling shadow monastery, Grogg the Smasher demonstrates his heroic strength once again by slaying a terrible dragon. Shadow-Solaris reverts to his humanoid form and dies in the half-orc’s muscular arms. His body dissipates into an inky black murk, leaving Grogg throttling an empty suit of (magical) armour. The real Solaris rushes over to intervene before the angry half-orc damages his inheritance. The two sunblessed monks summoned to aid the heroes during the final confrontation with Shadow-Solaris stare at the elf in slack-jawed confusion.

“Master Solaris…!” they stammer, “The prophecy indicated it would be you that defeated the shadowcurse, but you didn’t really do anything.”

“It only looked as though I did nothing!” the flustered elf explains, “I was pretending to be weak and useless to catch my enemies off guard… and it worked!”

The monks do not appear convinced. One asks Grogg for his autograph. The half-orc presses his bloody hand against the man’s chest, leaving a vaguely fist-shaped smudge on the fabric.

“I’ll never wash this robe again!” the monk promises.

Abbott Aereon appears, his frail body supported by two younger monks. The old man has been mortally wounded during his imprisonment within the shadow monastery. Before he dies, he pulls Solaris close and restores the elven wanderer’s memories. Solaris remembers who – or rather, what – he really is. He giggles like a schoolgirl, but chooses not share this revelation with his companions just yet.

Having made peace with Solaris, Abbott Aereon dies. A halo of blinding light encompasses his earthly remains, forging his soul into a magical blade. Grogg grabs the sword as compensation for the damage that Shadow-Solaris and his cursed monks inflicted upon his beloved ‘Everstill’.

Noticing that Asha is still lying unconscious with blood pooling around her head, Karrack insists that the monks attend to the cleric’s wound. He and Solaris decide to remain at the monastery while Asha recovers her wits. They make the most of this time to meditate and learn some kung-fu (GM Notes: I allowed Andy, Doug and Steve to take their advance mid-session, rather than at the beginning of next week to represent this training montage). The rest of the heroes leave much sooner, celestial eagles deposit them on the deck of the ‘Everstill’ the next day.

The boat docks in Magnimar and the heroes visit Mayor Nivlandis to make their report. For restoring Fort Rannick to the Black Arrows, each member of the group is rewarded with 1000gp.
Grogg is disappointed to learn the grand tournament has been delayed due to problems with the construction of the new arena (GM Notes: I had planned to run a second side quest focussing on Grogg’s reputation as a famous gladiator, but decided to try and get the AP back on track instead. This can always be explored in a later rotation, assuming I can rekindle my dying love for Savage Worlds).

The heroes return to Sandpoint (except Karrack, who visits the goblin shanty town of Hope (Stinkpoint) that he helped build). They have been absent for a long time and Ameiko is keen to get back behind the bar of the Rusty Dragon. She is outraged to learn that her tavern has been seized by the mayor’s office on some trumped up charge. The building has been stripped bare and boarded up. Storming over to the town hall, the heroes learn that Mayor Deverin has been displaced by their old enemy Haldeem Grobaras (formerly the mayor of Magnimar, before the heroes revealed his corruption and ineptitude). The new mayor has bought in his own man (Cubbin) to replace Belor Hemlock as the town’s lawman, he and his goons are little more than a band of officially sanctioned thugs.

Rast concludes that Grobaras is nursing a grudge against the party after they sabotaged his political future in the City of Monuments (GM Notes: No s#@~!). The heroes pay a house call on the former moyor. She expresses her suspicions that Grobaras rigged the recent election through a combination of liberal bribery and physical brutality. The heroes resolve to speak to the other members of the Sandpoint council about their involvement in this mess.

Meanwhile, Karrack discovers that the small goblin community of Hope has been burnt to the ground. He picks through the ashes and finds tracks leading north, into the Nettlewood. Since their homes were destroyed, the Stinkpoint goblins have returned to Thistletop. They recognise Karrack and explain that the new sheriff drove them off. Karrack resolves to return to Sandpoint and confront the arsonist. The lizardman is also able to reassure Snot the goblin’s concerned mother that her precious snotling is alive and well.

Back in town, Asha visits Father Pascal at the Sandpoint cathedral and notes the priest is sporting a black eye. She persuades the meek mannered cleric to open up to her and learns that Sheriff Cubbin roughed him up to ensure his support for the new mayor. Meanwhile, Rast and Grogg find Belor Hemlock drinking heavily in Fatman’s Feedbag, a sleazy dive on the waterfront, supposedly run by the Sczarni. Their former adventuring companion, Sergeant Krogg (GM Notes: Cariryn’s PC from rotation one) is trying to convince the former sheriff to drink responsibly. Together, they manhandle the grumbling sot over to Ben’s warehouse to sober up. Rast encourages the guardsmen to ignore the pickled eyeballs staring down at them from around the room (they were harvested exclusively from animals and humanoid monsters, each jar is meticulously labelled to avoid confusion/prosecution). Ben himself is busy hobnobbing with Titus Scarnetti. He manages to discourage the lumber baron from further business dealings with Grobaras. Finally, Solaris calls in on Cyruss Drokken, proprietor of the Sandpoint Theatre, who supported the new mayor’s campaign in exchange for the promise of a generous patron. Drokken turns out to be a vain, self-centred dandy who cannot comprehend the threat a man like Grobaras presents to the community. Solaris also learns that Drokken has composed a musical called ‘Grogg!’ and the titular half-orc has already given the green light on the production (for a paltry 5% of the profits).

Resolving that something must be done about the new mayor, Rast spends the rest of the morning in the makeshift laboratory he has set up in the basement of Kaijitsu manor (where he and Ameiko are staying until they recover the deed to the Rusty Dragon). He formulates an embarrassing but non-lethal poison and dedicates the afternoon to watching the town hall for an opportunity to administer it to his target. While he is waiting, he notices smoke rising from the Kaijitsu estate. His wife’s home is burning! Rast takes to the air and flaps towards the fire. The rest of the heroes also spy the smoke and join the dwarf outside the burning mansion.

Sheriff Cubbin and his men stand around the house, preventing anyone still trapped inside from escaping the inferno.

“I’ll tell you what I told those filthy goblins!” the lawman shouts over the crackling flames, “You aren’t welcome round these parts no more! Turn around and we’ll let you walk away!”

Rast goes into a dive towards the burning house. He hits an upper storey window with enough force to break the harpy wings affixed to his back. Crossbow bolts ping off the exterior wall.

“Ameiko!” Rast cries, shrugging off the splintered glider.

The heat inside the mansion is intense and the dark smoke fills his throat. Rast breaks an azure bauble off the bracelet that Ben gifted him on his wedding day. Shattering the gem summons a water elemental to douse the flames, while the dwarf searches for his beloved.

Meanwhile, Solaris charges the corrupt lawmen, who turn out to be a little more dangerous than your regular sellswords. Cubbin’s first attack opens a hole in the elf’s stomach. Entrails glisten between bloodied fingers as Solaris applies pressure to the grievous wound. Cubbin raises his sword to finish the job, but the blade is knocked aside by Karrack’s staff.

“You must be Sheriff Cubbin,” the lizardman says, “Let me tell you what I told ‘those filthy goblins’, that I would find the man responsible for destroying their homes and make him pay!

Asha drags Solaris out of the way and implores Sarenrae for healing. Two of Cubbin’s goons advance on Grogg, who swings his new, magical sword and severs both of their heads in one ruinous arc. The flaming blade instantaneously cauterises the ragged neck wounds, Grogg is disappointed, he quite enjoys being doused in arterial spray (it looks good on the posters, y’know). Before the bodies hit the ground, the half-orc is charging across the lawn, heading for the burning stables where the baby roc was being kept. A halfling maid employed by Ameiko’s family staggers from the front door, coughing and spluttering. One of the sheriff’s men readies his sword to cut her down, only to find an arrow sticking out of his upraised arm.

“Let her go!” Ben commands, readying a second arrow, “You won’t get a second warning.”

Karrack disarms Cubbin and strikes the man between the eyes, knocking him on his ass. The lizarman wrestles with his conscience as he watches the bloodied thug crawling towards his blade. Before he can come to a decision, there is an explosion from within the Kaijitsu mansion, the force of which knocks everyone off their feet! The fire has found Rast’s alchemical stores and set of a dangerous chain reaction! Poisonous green smoke begins billowing from the house. Cubbin and his remaining men take this opportunity to fall back towards the town. The heroes are faced with a difficult decision – pursue the scoundrels before they warn Grobaras or rescue Rast and his wife from certain doom?!

To be continued…!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 7) – 17/04/2014

Poisonous green smoke fills the Kaijitsu mansion as the volatile contents of Rast’s laboratory are consumed by the flames. Rast is unconcerned by this development, he is a dwarf with a plan. Breaking another bead off his bracelet, he summons an air elemental and commands it to clear the air. The elemental complies, sucking the poisonous fumes out of the house and dissipating them into the air over the bay (where they will likely do untold damage to the local ecosystem, but hey!). The water elemental continues to douse the flames as Rast searches the house for his beloved Ameiko.

Meanwhile, Ben Kotek stands between the sheriff’s men and the road back into town.

“You shall not pass!” he intones, standing his ground.

Two thugs raise their crossbows and shoot him in the chest. Seeing the ranger is grievously wounded, they switch to their long-swords and move in for the kill. Ben curses his own stubborn bravery.

Solaris notices that Sheriff Cubbin is making a run for it, leaving his men to cover his cowardly ass. Benefiting from the Quick power, Solaris effortlessly speeds ahead of the fleeing villain and readies his bow. When Cubbin comes puffing into view, Solaris double-shots him in the face.

“What happened to Cubbin?” Asha asks.

“I shot the sheriff,” Solaris sings, “But I did not shoot the deputy.”

“Yes you did. You shot him earlier. His body is over there.”

“Oh, yes. Yes I did.”

Karrack and Solaris run into the burning mansion to find Rast and Ameiko. Solaris moves from room to room in a blur of motion (maintained Quick power), he swiftly finds Ameiko’s body and drags her onto the lawn for healing. Karrack emerges with a choking servant draped over each of his scaly shoulders; then runs back into the burning house to ensure nobody has been left behind. Ameiko has inhaled a lot of smoke, but Asha is able to restore her breathing with the blessing of Sarenrae.

With the sheriff’s demise, the rest of his men throw down their weapons and beg for mercy.

“We were only following orders!” they wail, "It was nothing personal.”

“It feels personal.” Rast growls menacingly.

“We might still be able to reach an understanding…” Solaris suggests.

Suddenly, Grogg buries his axe into the guard’s skull.

“Gah!! What the hell?!” Solaris yells, wiping blood off his shirt, “I was talking to that guy”

“Roc chick hungry!” Grogg explains at length, “Need meat!”

As the half-orc dismembers the corpse into bite-sized morsels, Solaris turns to the next man in the row of prisoners.

“Sorry for the interruption, where was I? Oh, yes. We might still be able to - ”

“Yes! We’ll do whatever you say! Just don’t let that mad bastard feed us to his bird!”

Having secured the prisoner’s cooperation, Solaris returns to loot the sheriff’s body. He is surprised to find someone else has beaten him to the punch. Examining the body, he notices that the dead man is also missing his eyeballs.

“Ben!!!”

Once he becomes aware that his plans have gone awry, Haldeem Grobaras barricades himself inside the town hall, hoping the heroes will leave him alone. Surprisingly, this is exactly what they do – for the time being at least. Sergeant Krogg and the former guardsman still loyal to Belor Hemlock surround the building, preventing the mayor from doing a runner (or waddler, considering how grossly obese he is).

Asha, Karrack and Solaris commandeer a boat to Magnimar and report directly to Mayor Nivlandis. A bounty is placed upon the fat head of Haldeem Grobaras for his role in the unlawful attacks on the Stinkpoint goblins and the Kaijitsu estate.

The heroes return to Sandpoint to apprehend the mayor, but he isn’t coming quietly. Ben casts Blast and demolishes the front wall of the town hall in a fiery explosion.

“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Rast chides the overzealous ranger.

Karrack moves through the flaming wreckage into the council chamber beyond. Two of the mayor’s goons spot him emerging from the smoke and raise their crossbows. The lizardman reaches them first and incapacitates both men in a flurry of blows. A third thug lunges at Karrack with his sword, the Saurian monk grabs his extended arm – breaks it in three separate places – then flips him over onto his back.

“Don’t get back up,” Karrack suggests, stalking off.

Two guards on the balcony spot the lizardman approaching the stairs and take aim. Karrack snatches both crossbolts out of the air and starts up the steps two at a time.

“Leave some for us!” Ben complains.

Radiating righteous anger, Asha follows Karrack into the hall (GM Notes: Andy was dealt a Joker during initiative. Several weeks ago, he picked up a magic ring that gives him +2d6 additional power points every time this happens). The door to the mayor’s office bursts open and Grobaras emerges onto the landing, flanked by two armed bodyguards. He chucks a flask of alchemist’s fire at the heroes, Karrack bats it back with his tail. Grobaras retreats into his office and locks the door. Ben casts Blast, reducing the mayor’s refuge to a smoking crater. They find Grobaras curled up beneath the scorched remnants of his desk; a lobster-red, twitching wreck. His hair and clothes have been burnt away by the explosion. Asha stabilizes the fat villain and Grogg rolls him outside and into the custody of the waiting Justice. He is returned to the City of Monuments to stand trial for his transgressions.

The citizens of Sandpoint reinstate Kendra Deverin as mayor, although the town hall will need to be rebuilt before she resumes that office. Ben bankrolls the renovation work (GM Notes: the Rich edge may be a tad unbalanced, 150,000g every twelve months?!). Titus Scarnetti and Cyrus Drokken lose their seats on the town council; they are replaced by Karrack and Ameiko.

The heroes enjoy a period of well deserved downtime, but it is not to last. Rumours abound of giants raiding along the Lost Coast. The heroes remember what Barl Breakbones told them about his master Mokmorian and his plans to conquer Varisia. Steps are taken to ensure Sandpoint is prepared to repel the giants should they come calling – which they most certainly will… in a future rotation! :D

(GM Notes; Thanks again to my players for bearing with me during my mid-campaign crisis).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 1 (13/10/2017)

Andor Drake is propping up the bar at the Rusty Dragon, nursing his third flagon of strong ale when the recently reinstated Mayor Deverin slides onto the stool beside him. The former mercenary recognises her from the corner of one bleary eye and grunts in acknowledgment, before draining the last, foamy dregs from his glass.

“Miss Deverin. Congratulations on your re-election. I’d raise my glass, but it’s ill luck to toast with an empty cup.”

“Thankyou Andor, but I’m not here to celebrate. You’ve heard that there are stone giants on the march? It’s only a matter of time before they reach us. The town’s walls were built to deter wolves and goblins, they won’t hold against what’s coming.”

“Should have built a bigger wall.”

“We’ll have to make do. What we need are men to defend that wall and someone to lead them.”

“I don’t envy that poor bastard,” Andor chuckled, “Commanding a mob of farmers and fishwives against a giant raiding party? They’ll be wiping you off the soles of their stony feet! Hahaha – hold on, I can see where this is going! Nonononono, not interested!”

“Be reasonable Andor, you were a mercenary for ten years. You’re the only person in ten leagues with the kind of experience these people need. You’ve seen battle, even won a few - ”

“More than a few!” Andor interjected hotly.

Mayor Deverin leant forward, sensing that she had hooked the old warrior.

“If anyone is capable of turning these ‘farmers and fishwives’ into a fighting force able to hold their own against these odds, it’s Andor Drake.”

“I’m not saying that I’ll do it….” Andor said slowly, “But let’s say that I do… what’s in it for me?”

---

In the damaged council chambers of the town hall, the heroes of Sandpoint prepared for the imminent onslaught. Messenger birds had been dispatched to Magnimar and Fort Rannick to solicit aid from the heroes’ allies, but would the promised reinforcements arrive in time to turn the tide? Karrack the lizardman monk was drilling his goblin cohorts how to mimic his formidable spear fighting technique. Whilst tensions between the humans of Sandpoint and the goblins of Hope remain strained, the threat of mutual destruction has done much to turn the enemy of my enemy into my friend – even if he is green and a bit smelly.

“Heroes of Sandpoint, this is Andor Drake, the veteran I told you about,” Mayor Deverin said, gesturing to a man in rusty armour that had clearly seen better days, “He’ll be working alongside Sheriff Hemlock to co-ordinate the defence of the walls.”

“For which I will be handsomely compensated.” Andor reminded her, his voice sill slightly slurred by drink.

“Once we replenish the town coffers, yes,” Mayor Deverin sighed, “Haldeem Grobaras embezzled most of what the council had saved, but we’ll reclaim what he stole after his trial. Then you’ll be paid, as promised.”

This seemed to satisfy the mercenary, who joined the other heroes around a map of the Forgotten Coast. Reported sightings of the giants had been marked on the map with stone figures. The other people around the table needed little introduction, having been elevated to near celebrity status for their recent heroics;

Rast Sternhammer, dwarven sneak with a healthy marriage (to local businesswoman Ameiko Sternhammer) and an unhealthy fascination with debilitating poisons.

Grogg the Smasher, half-orc gladiator famous for his tacky merchandise and for bellowing his catchphrase at the slightest provocation; “THIS – IS – STRENGTH!!” Currently wrestling with an addiction to healing potions after gnomish artificers stole part of his brain.

Karrack Goblinfriend, benevolent lizardman monk and ally to the downtrodden, single-handedly responsible for humanising goblins in this setting, transforming them from a low level menace to a skilled workforce of tradesmen and artisans.

Asha the Almost Naked, scantily clad warrior priestess of the goddess Sarenrae.

and Solaris, an elf who thinks he might be a dragon (or maybe it is just a scaly rash?).

Shalelu Andosana bursts into the room, interrupting the meeting. She reports that the stone giants have been spotted!

“TO THE WALLS!!” Andor roars, rattling his sabre and trotting towards the frontline.

To be continued....


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 2 (13/10/2017)

Casting Quick on himself, Solaris began shooting arrows at the giants, nocking and loosing arrows faster than the human eye could follow, his bowstring glowing red with friction. Asha joined him on the walls, calling upon the sun goddess for aid in the battle and casting bolts of radiance into the giantish horde. Forgoing the safety of the walls, Grogg dropped down into no man’s land and led a one-man/orc (morc?) charge against the giants, his enchanted battleaxe wailing a song of ruin as he carved a path through their ranks. Andor Drake witnessed this display of true strength /reckless idiocy from the walls and – despite himself – felt the old flicker of battle lust rekindled within his old bones.

“You men, with me!” Andor commanded, drawing his longsword from its sheath. Despite the rust on his armour and the grey whiskers in his beard, the former mercenary’s sword positively gleamed. In fact, it glowed with a bright green luminescence that surely indicated there had been sorcery involved in the crafting of the blade. Clambering over the barricades with the vigour of a man half his age, Andor led his troops into the breach Grogg’s onslaught had torn through the giants front rank.

And then the dragon came.

With a roar that rattled windows and shook the cobblestones, the dragon dropped out of the clouds and spewed a sheet of flame across the walls, cremating the men of Sandpoint where they stood and stranding Grogg and Andor on the giant’s side of the inferno. Surrounded by enemies and with no line of retreat or hope of clemency, the two warriors stood back to back atop the mound of giant corpses they had made and readied themselves for their final battle.

Atop the highest point of the Sandpoint cathedral, Rast watched the red dragon swoop around for another strafing run over the town. His wife was down there, sheltering her neighbours in the cellar of the Rusty Dragon whilst the battle raged through their streets and rocks fell upon their homes.

“You picked the wrong town.” Rast said, yanking the lever that extended the wings on his home-made wingsuit. Leaping off the tower, Rast fell towards the ground before pulling up sharply and soaring after the dragon.

Grogg and Andor watched the dwarven aeronaut pass overhead in the wake of his scaly quarry.

“Well,” Grogg said, pausing to lop off a stone giant’s arm at the elbow, “At least we’re not the only ones about to have a really bad day.”

“You mean Rast?” Andor asked.

“I mean the dragon.”

“Looks like they’re getting ready for another crack at us.” Andor said, gesturing with the point of his sword to where another group of stone giants were mustering, “Hey, if we get out of this alive, can I have your autograph?”

The battle was brutal and although both warriors fought valiantly, they were eventually overcome by the giants’ strength and numbers. Andor struggled to rise, the blade of his magic sword sinking into the stony ground as he used it to lever himself to his feet. Grogg lay sprawled nearby, his thick skull ringing from one too many blows to the head. A shadow fell upon them both, as the nearest giant raised his massive foot and prepared to grind them both into a meaty paste beneath his sole.

Suddenly, the giant howled in pain! Andor looked up to see a spear buried between the monster’s toes! Attached to the spear was a goblin, riding on the shoulders of another goblin, who in turn was riding on the shoulders of another goblin (and so on). A scaly claw grasped Andor by the wrist and hauled him to his feet, as the giant hopped away on his good foot.

“You can’t die yet, General Drake,” Karrack said, passing the mercenary his sword, “It’s only the first week of the rotation.”

---

Meanwhile, above the battlefield, Rast pursued his winged adversary amidst the smoke rising from the burning town. He had taken care to stay out of the dragon’s peripheral vision and was pretty sure the beast was unaware of his proximity. Adjusting his thick flying goggles, Rast studied the dragon’s broad back, densely ridged with razor-sharp, armoured spines. Without pausing to reflect on the wisdom of his course, Rast dived! At the last moment, he levelled out, cut through the straps holding him into his glider and landed clumsily astride the dragon’s back. Sensing he had been boarded, the dragon rolled to dislodge the fearless dwarf, but Rast had already stabbed his dagger between the beast’s scales and now held on for dear life until the great lizard straightened out.

“WHO DARES RIDE THE MIGHTY LONGTOOTH AS THOUGH HE WERE A COMMON MULE?!” the dragon roared, “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS INDIGNITY WITH YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL DIE IN FLAMES!”

Rast grimaced and continued climbing. Dragons were notoriously difficult to poison due to their massive size, but if he could empty an entire vial of his patent-pending paralysing potion directly into its eyes, he could maybe blind the bastard. Reaching the dragon’s head, Rast bit the cork out of the flask and cursed as his lips and tongue immediately went numb. Leaning out over the scaly eyelid, he splashed the contents of the bottle into the huge black iris staring back at him.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY EYE!! I AM PARTIALLY BLINDED!! MY ABILITY TO PERCEIVE DEPTH AND MAKE RANGED ATTACKS IS SIGNIFICANTLY PENALISED!”

Whipping his head from side to side and blinking furiously, Longtooth managed to dislodge Rast before the dwarven rogue could bugger up his other eye too. Fortunately for Rast, the dragon’s struggles had carried it out over the shallows where the ‘Everstill’ bobbed merrily in the grey surf. Goblin sailors hauled him from the water and lay him - sodden and half-drowned - on the deck.

“Abandon ship!” Captain Snot cried, casting a green finger at the sky, “The dragon comes!”

Longtooth had watched Rast’s fall and subsequent rescue with his one good eye. Half mad with rage, the dragon abandoned his assault on the town and dived towards the little boat upon which his prey had taken refuge. Scorching heat rose in his gullet as he called forth the fire with which to turn Rast and the ‘Everstill’ into fossil fuel!

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 3 (13/10/2017)

Terrified goblins threw themselves overboard as the enraged dragon descended upon the ‘Everstill’.

“THE WATER WON’T SAVE YOU!” Longtooth crowed, “I WILL BOIL THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES!”

Barging his way through the fear-addled mob, Rast forced a path to the deck mounted ballista that Grogg had installed when he upgraded the vessel from pleasure ship to floating tank. Ropey muscles straining beneath his sodden armour, Rast loaded a bolt as long as he was tall into the device. Waiting until he could see the flames rising in the dragon’s throat, Rast fired the black arrow! He had been hoping to send the bolt flying down the beast’s gullet, but his aim was slightly off and instead it punched through the side of Longtooth’s scaly maw.

“RAAAAAAAAGGHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY CHARISMA MODIFIER!!”

Veering off course, the dragon crashed through a row of waterfront property and flapped away.

Demoralised by their dragon’s retreat, the stone giants were further disheartened when the reinsforcements from Magnimar and Fort Rannick swept into their wavering flank. From his vantage point overseeing the battle, the stone giant general Galenmir saw that the battle was lost and cursed the heroes who had inspired a mob of commoners to defy his army. To return to Jorgenfist with this disgrace hanging over him would be intolerable! The dragon Longtooth landed nearby, a spike of black metal protruding from his scaly jaw. Closing his stony hands around the shaft, Galenmir wrenched the arrow from the wound.

“This battle is not over yet.” he said gravely, clambering astride the dragon’s broad back.

---

Injured and exhausted, the heroes of Sandpoint gathered in the town square to report their victory to the leaders of the town. Their celebration was short-lived as the dragon Longtooth landed on the roof of the town hall, showering the party with fragments of brick and loose slate, General Galenmir, leapt from the dragon’s back, landing with such force as to knock the closest heroes off their feet! Wielding an enormous sword in one hand and an equally massive shield in the other, the stone giant commander was an intimidating sight!

“You may have defeated my army,” Galenmir growled, “But you have yet to face me!”

Karrack and Grogg charged the giant. Galenmir swung his massive sword, putting enough force behind that single blow to cut a mammoth in twain! Karrack cartwheeled over the blade and kept moving, but Grogg stood his ground and raised his twin axes to block the giant’s sword. With a screech of metal and a shower of sparks, Grogg somehow stopped the attac!

“Wait for it….” Rast muttered.

“THIS - IS - STRENGTH!!!” Grogg bellowed.

"There it is."

Still perched upon the roof of the town hall, Longtooth extended his serpentine neck and belched forth a cone of dragonfire upon the party. Asha and Solaris ducked out of harm’s way with only superficial burns, but Andor Drake was not so lucky and went up like a firework on the eve of the Swallowtail festival!

Meanwhile, having got inside the stone giant’s defences, Karrack drove his magic speak up through Galenmir’s chin and into his skull. The giant sank to his knees and died. Using the giant’s slumped body as a ramp, Grogg hurled himself at the dragon. Putting all his forward momentum into his attack, he carved a nasty wound in the beast’s scaly underside. With a cry that was equal parts fury and pain, Longtooth took wing and fled north in the wake of the defeated army.

Before their victory could even sink in, Shalelu approached Karrack with dire news! While the heroes had been fighting Longtooth and Galenmir, the defeated giants had abducted a number of prominent Sandpoint citizens, including Rast’s beloved Ameiko! Resolving to catch up the giants and rescue the hostages, the party lingered only long enough for Asha to treat Andor’s disfiguring burns before heading north. The tracks led to the very edge of Varisia, where a sheer cliff face marked the boundary of the giant’s ancient stomping ground; the Storval Plateau. Ignoring the Storval Stair on the grounds that if the giants were planning an ambush (which they were), that would be the place to spring it (which it was), the heroes elected to scale the cliff itself with the aid of the trained roc chick that Grogg had adopted several months previously.

The Storval Plateua spread out ahead of them like an lefeless, grey desert. Somewhere beyond that ashen horizon lay the stone giant fortress of Jorgenfist - and the heroes only hope of bringing their friends back alive!

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 2 / Part 1 / 19-10-2017

Steeling their resolve, the heroes of Sandpoint head into the grey wasteland in pursuit of the surviving stone giants. The Storval Plateau is an arid, ashen wasteland created by the volcanic smoke belching forth from the fiery mountains to the north, grey dust settling over the land like a mourning shroud. The party spot a swarm of carrion birds circling a nearby dune and leave the giant’s trail to investigate. They interrupt several giant buzzards hunched over the body of a dead explorer, pecking hungrily at the dry, desiccated flesh. Rast finds an amulet strung around the corpse’s neck, identifying the unfortunate soul as a member of the Pathfinder society, a well-established fellowship of adventurers with lodges and outposts across the continent. Rast notices that the amulet gently pulls northward when allowed to dangle from its chain, granting whoever carries it a +2 Survival bonus when attempting to find their way. The party also find a rare Potion of Intangibility and a Ring of Flying (after Gary used an Adventure Card to get a roll on the random treasure table).

Andor wants to sever the corpse’s arm to use as ‘bait’. It’s unclear exactly what manner of prey he is hoping to ensnare with this grim ploy. Solaris knocks that idea on the head by setting the corpse aflame with a sorcerous spark. Unfortunately, the smoke from this human barbeque attracts the attention of a stone giant patrol (who had been tracking the dead explorer). Rast spots a cave opening nearby and the party conceal themselves within while the giants poke around the area. Rast and Grogg (the only characters with some form of darkvision) venture deeper into the cave and discover that they have stumbled upon an abandoned shrine to the giant god Minderhal. The forgotten altar is attended by a lonely stone giant elder called Conna, who offers the group sanctuary and respite from their quest. Conna asks what purpose drives the party into giant territory and Andor (the only member of the party to speak the giant tongue) describes the raid on Sandpoint and the abduction of their friends. Conna sighs deeply and explains that their friends are likely being held in the fortress of Jorgenfist, an ancient black edifice that loomed over the plateau even before the stone giants colonized the area.

“The lord of Jorgenfist is a stone giant wizard named Mokmorian,” Conna rumbled in a voice like distant thunder, “Stone giants with innate spellcasting potential are often born small and weak. Mokmorian was such a runt, yet as he grew older, he never developed the magical potential he had been expecting. He grew bitter and twisted and left the tribe. I know not what befell Mokmorian during his absence, but when he returned to the plateau, he was transformed. Not physically, he was still a runt, but something inside him had changed. He turned the young warriors against the elders and led them to the ruins of Jorgenfist where he now raises an army strong enough to threaten the lowlands. Mokmorian has abandoned the old ways and leads our people astray. If it is your goal to slay Mokmorian, then we share that desire and maybe there is something I can do to aid you in this.”

Conna reached into the altar, the hard stone yielding to her touch like soft clay. When she withdrew her arm, she grasped a slender, stone spear of antiquated giantish design.

“This is Teraktinus, the Giantslayer,” Conna explained, planting the point into the floor of the cave, “The edge will cut through stone as though it were papyrus and grievously wound any giant whose flesh it pierces. I do not give this boon lightly, for this weapon represents a dire threat to all giants. Yet, if you hope free my people from Mokmorian’s control, you will surely need it.”

Solaris darts forward and licks the spear, in the hope that now nobody else will want it.

“You are welcome to rest here tonight,” Conna said, “The giants of Jorgenfist have forgotten their gods and will not trouble you.”

---

Andor kindles a friendly campfire in the centre of the cave and the party gather around it, soaking in the warmth from the dancing flames. Rast is feeling uncharacteristically mellow and passes around a flask of moonshine liquor distilled with his alchemy kit. For a while, the only sound is the crackling of dry tinder in the heart of the fire. Then Rast begins to speak. He speaks of his love for Ameiko and how he treasures her for her shrewd management of his many businesses. He explains how he must rescue her from the giants before the end of the current fiscal year, so that she can complete and submit his tax return on time. A single tear rolls down his whiskery cheek. When Rast falls silent, Solaris clears his throat. He expresses his grief over the death of his super magical uncle Aeron, who sacrificed himself so that the party could vanquish Solaris’ wicked shadow twin at the Moonspike Monastery. Karrack agrees that it was very sad. As the mood around the campfire turns melancholy, Grogg decides to unburden himself and speaks for the first time about the guilt he feels after accidentally slaying a friend and fellow gladiator in a moment of battle madness. Having exhausted themselves both physically and emotionally, the party slip into a restful slumber under Conna the Elder’s watchful gaze.

---

The heroes wake the next morning to find grainy sunlight illuminating the cave. Conna the Elder is knelt beside the altar, but when Andor attempts to converse, he realizes that she has been dead for weeks! The party spend a moment of silence to honor the departed giant and the gift she bestowed upon them from beyond the pale. With renewed determination, the party leave the cave and continue north toward the walls of Jorgenfist!

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 2 / Part 2 / 19-10-2017

Later that same day, the party get their first glimpse of the stone giant fortress. A 50ft wall encircles a courtyard, from which rises a towering spire of black stone. Outside the walls, the ground teems with giants and their monstrous allies.

“I don’t much fancy the look of that,” Rast grumbled.

“Why don’t we use the secret tunnel Conna told us about?” Andor asked.

“What?” Asha said, startled, “That wasn’t mentioned in the last write-up.”

“Maybe the GM had forgotten about it until now.” Andor replied, “He’s a busy guy and he’s putting these write-ups together at work when nobody is looking. Cut the guy some slack!”

“Fine! Let’s try the secret entrance.” Karrack said, “I just hope it's not’s not full of monstrous guardians and dangerous traps this time!”

---

Waiting until inky darkness had flooded the valley and the giants had gathered around their roaring bonfires, the heroes crept stealthily around the outskirts of the sprawling encampment. Three hours and a few close calls later, the party gathered on the edge of the ravine upon which the fortress had been built. Rast used his new ring of flying to search the cliff face for the tunnel Conna had indicated would deliver them into the dungeons of the citadel. The rest of the heroes made the descent more carefully and soon they stood upon a narrow ledge, staring with some trepidation at the hidden entrance. An unpleasant smell of decay wafted from the dark fissure in the rock. Grogg took the lead, hacking through the sticky strands of spider silk obstructing the passage with his twin axes. The floor of the tunnel seethed with small spiders and Grogg took enormous pleasure stomping on them as he walked. Rast paused to examine the critters more carefully and realized that they were undead, the desiccated husks of dead spiders animated by foul necromancy. Up ahead, the tunnel narrowed and became completely blocked by a wall of webbing. Nobody in the party is particularly surprised when they are ambushed by a swarm of large zombie spiders (yawn). They are surprised when they discover that the spider’s venom carries a powerful paralyzing agent that turns their bones to jelly! They are even more surprised when a massive zombie spider the size of a retirement bungalow comes skittering out of the darkness, gnashing its axe-like mandibles and generally scaring the s!!# out of everyone present! Then Grogg hits it with his axe, inflicts 40+ damage and pretty much kills it in a single blow.

“THIS – IS – "

“Yes, we know, give it a rest already!” Solaris snapped.

Rast is already reaching into the dead spider’s mouth, groping for its venom gland. He finds a horrible white sac of goo and gives it an experimental poke, causing it to explode like a pus-filled appendix.

With the demise of Deathweb, the rest of the undead spiders flee into the dark recesses of the cave and the party continue on into the dungeons of Jorgenfist.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 1 (26/10/2017)

We re-join our heroes in the fetid lair of Deathweb, the flaking husk of the megarachnid lying inert where it was slain. Tiny white spiders swarm over the massive corpse like a pallid veil blown by the rank breath of some dread deity. Karrack’s torch flickers as he edges along the wall of the cavern, poking the flaming brand into each crack and fissure wide enough to conceal either a lurking spider or the way ahead.

“Here!” Karrack rasps, crooking a claw to beckon the others, “There’s a tunnel leading on and – urggh. What is that smell?”

Never one to pass up on investigating a horrible smell, Rast waves the others back and stealths on alone. The tunnel terminates on a narrow, crumbling ledge overlooking a small cave. Three ogres stand around a stone basin, stirring the noxious contents with long wooden poles. The vile brew smells of vinegar and cat’s piss and brings tears to Rast’s eyes (although it’s unclear if this reaction is motivated by disgust or admiration). Scraps of leather and dripping fur marinade in the stinking broth and Rast deduces that he is in a tannery. He reports back to the others, who decide that they can probably take three stinking ogres.

Grogg leads the attack, positioning himself in a heroic (albeit precarious) pose on the ledge above the tanning pool.

“THIS – IS –FRED?!?”

“What?!” Rast spluttered.

“FRED!!” Grogg cried, dropping down from the ledge and grabbing hold of one of the ogres in a masculine hug, “It is you! I thought you were dead! You’re not dead… are you? Because we just fought this spider….”

“Grogg kill Deathweb?!” Fred asked, jaw dropping.

“Yes! I totally killed Deathweb! Pretty much by myself. It was awesome!”

“Do you guys know that thing?” Andor asked, slowly returning his longsword to its scabbard.

“Grogg and that ogre had some sort of weird bromance going on while we were liberating Fort Rannick from the Kreeg clan,” Rast explained, “We all thought he’d been killed. I don’t recall that any of us cared, except for Grogg. He built a little shrine back on the Everstill. It’s actually kinda’ sweet.”

“Sweet is not the word I’d choose.” Andor grunted.

“Grogg come to kill giant leader?” Fred asked eagerly, “Come to seize control of giant army and conquer puny human lands?”

“Yes, maybe and probably not.”

“Fred will fight with Grogg again!” Fred decided, “Just like old times! Others will join us! I have told them tales of the mighty Grogg the Smasher! I even copy your catchphrase, listen… THIS – IS –STENCH!!”

The other two ogres grinned big, stupid grins and did a little ogre dance to express their merriment.

“So the ogres are on our side now?” Asha asked, licking her lips and gazing longingly at the bulges of their massive ogre junk beneath their filthy loincloths. (I’m not even kidding, this actually happened in game) :sick:

“Fred, can you show us where the giants keep their prisoners?” Karrack asked.

“Prisoners?” Fred looked confused, “What is prisoners?”

“Little people locked in cages?”

“Oh, you mean food!! Yes, Fred will take you to get food! Fred hungry too!”

“What?! No eating the prisoners!!”

(This unplanned scene occurred after Vic played an Adventure Card that resulted in him recognising a familiar face or ally).

---

The party dash to keep up with Fred, who leads them to the giants gaol. A hulking, two headed humanoid sits beside a grindstone, sparks flying from the edge of his executioner’s axe as he hones the blade. One head drools and chunters a childish rhyme in giantish whilst the second is hidden beneath a greasy, black leather hood. The giant rises to defend the room but is quickly overwhelmed. Grogg buries his axe in the hooded head and Andor reduces the idiot head to tears with harsh words. Rast and Karrack work together to lift the giant-sized keys from the ettin’s belt and release the prisoners from their cells. There is no sign of Ameiko. The other captives report that she fell ill during the journey north and is being held elsewhere in the fortress. Solaris agrees to lead the prisoners out through the secret tunnel and re-join the party later, whilst Rast and the others continue to search Jorgenfist for his wayward wife.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 2 (26/10/2017)

Leaving the cell block, the heroes find themselves looking down into a natural pit. Sunlight floods in from a hole in the roof and a wide ledge cut into the rock face spirals from the top to the bottom of the shaft. A wooden platform laden with crates waits to be raised to the surface via a series of thick metal chains. Opposite the lifting mechanism, two juvenile red dragons have been chained to a boulder, their wings clipped and their jaws muzzled.

“We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!” Rast said.

“Wait!” Andor hissed, “What if they are related to the red dragon we fought in Sandpoint? They’re not exactly honoured guests here, right? They look more like hostages.”

“You think the giants have compelled Longtooth to join them by threatening his offspring?” Karrack asked. Andor nodded.

“That changes everything.” Rast agreed, “We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!”

“No!” Karrack snapped, “Let’s get down there and try talking to them.”

The party approach warily. The dragons watch them through slitted eyelids.

“No sudden movements….” Andor warned.

“Nice dragon.” Rast said soothingly, “I’m just going to unhook your muzzle so we can have a little chat. Nobody wants to harvest your organs. No need to try and bite me the moment this thing is off….”

Conversing in draconic, Karrack and Andor establish that the two brothers were indeed sired by Longtooth and are indeed being held as hostages by Mokmorian to ensure the red dragon’s compliance. The party decide that by releasing the wyrmlings, they remove Mokmorian’s leverage over the dragon and the giants lose their most powerful ally. Asha grows short of breath as the ogres strain their slab-like muscles to break the chains binding the two young dragons to the rock. Unable to snare the wind in their torn and tattered wings, the two brothers charge up the ramp to reach the surface and call for their father. Karrack follows them up to watch the fireworks.

The appearance of two furious dragons into the inner courtyard throws the fortress into disarray! The mammoth stables are ablaze before the giants are even aware that the dragons are amongst them. Panicked mammoths, their shaggy coats aflame, trample their riders underfoot. The sky darkens as Longtooth descends upon the walls, his massive wingspan momentarily eclipsing the sun. The red dragon strafes the citadel, blasting the defenders with his fiery breath. Landing in the courtyard, Longtooth picks up his two flightless offspring and carries them off. Blinking the ash out of his eyes, Karrack took in the chaos in the dragon’s wake. Smoke billowed from the burning stable and a second building had collapsed entirely. The black tower itself seemed unmarred by dragonfire, it’s surface as smooth and glassy as the surface of a dark lake. There did not appear to be a way inside at ground level.

“Longtooth is out of the picture.” Karrack confirmed, “We should keep going before the giant regroup and think to check who released their dragons.”

---

The party continue searching for Ameiko. They don’t find her in the next area of the dungeon, but they do find a golden teleportation circle inlaid into the stone floor. A control console nearby is indented with a seven-pointed hollow that likely fits the activation sigil. Next, they reach a pair of intimidating doors decorated by monstrous imagery.

“Woah, guys, strong sense of deja-vu,” Rast said, “Aren’t these creepy doors real similar to the creepy doors we saw under Thistletop?”

“The entrance to the shrine of Lamashtu, where we batted Nualia and her yeth hounds?” Karrack clarified.

“Fun times.” Grogg reminisced happily.

"You weren't even there," Rast said.

“Get ready,” Karrack warned, “Whatever is on the other side of these doors is unlikely to be good.”

---

Rast pushed open the door and stepped into the cosy taproom of the Rusty Dragon. The wooden stools had been stacked upside down on the tables and the bar was clear of flagons and drunken fishermen. Rast stood and breathed in the familiar scents of ale and wood polish. Ah, that was the smell of home! Something seemed strange though. Rast could not place his finger on it. How had he come to be home? Hadn’t he been talking to Karrack and Grogg just moments ago? He glanced around the empty taproom, no sign of either of them. Odd. A noise from upstairs caused Rast to lose his train of thought and he meandered over to the stairs that led up to his and Ameiko’s private rooms above the tavern. He could hear voices from the room where he and his wife were sleeping while the Kaijitsu mansion was refurbished. Heading in, Rast found his wife lying in bed, attended by two other women.

“Your wife is very fortunate,” said the first woman, “She is going to have a child.”

“A special child,” the second woman agreed, “We are here to assist with the birth.”

Both of the women smiled encouraging. Rast noticed that their smiles were much too wide to fit their faces, but that hardly seemed to matter right now. He was going to be a daddy! He hustled up to his wife’s bedside and took her clammy hand in his own. Suddenly, Rast heard the sound of breaking glass from the room below, followed by the sound of the taproom getting trashed.

“They are coming to take your wife and kill your child.” the first midwife hissed.

“Please Rast, don’t let them hurt our baby!” Ameiko moaned.

Rast scowled and readied his daggers. If anyone planned on hurting his family, they would need to go through him first!

---

Grogg and Fred the Ogre forced open the grim portal and led the way into a large, star-shaped ritual chamber. Human sacrifices were chained to stone pillars at each point of the star and in the centre of the room stood a squat, stone altar. Ameiko lay upon this altar, moaning and writhing in silent agony. Flanking the altar stood two lamia, monsters with the lower body of a giant snake and the upper body of a beautiful woman. The party had fought these dangerous creatures before and both times it had been a slog.

“Ah, so these are the fools who killed our sisters?” the first hissed, “So strong and so handsome – and soon to be so dead.”

“Let these people go!” Karrack commanded, brandishing his spear.

Rast stood beside him, slack jawed and glassy eyed. Karrack nudged him with the butt of his spear.

“You want to step in here, maybe? That’s your wife on the altar.”

“Huh? Nobody hurts my family!” Rast growled.

Suddenly, Rast turned and threw his returning dagger at Grogg! The knife only nicked his shoulder, but immediately Grogg’s muscles locked up as the paralyzing poison on the blade spread through his body.

“Kill the lamia!” Karrack said, “They have Rast under their control!”

The first lamia cast Fear at the lizardman, catching Andor in the spell’s AOE. Both heroes are suddenly required to confront their greatest fears! Karrack finds himself standing in a swirling blizzard, the wind howling all around him. A nightmarish snowman with blazing eyes looms over the lizardman, reaching out with skeletal arms. Meanwhile, Andor saw himself standing in the Sandpoint cathedral with all his old mercenary buddies watching from the pews. An elderly organist plays the wedding anthem and a veiled woman wearing a bridal dress appears beside him.

“I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the priest, “You may kiss the bride.”

“Noooooooooo!!” Andor wailed, falling to his knees.

Asha – the only member of the party able to function normally – started hurling bolts of celestial energy around the room, hoping to disrupt the sorcery disabling her allies. The lamia maintaining the Fear power loses her focus, releasing Karrack and Andor from their waking nightmares. Karrack darted forward and jabbed at her with his spear. Andor charged the other but ended up trapped in her scaly coils. Inexorably, the lamia started to crush the old warriors bones. Asha took out the first lamia with an empowered bolt, freeing Karrack up to go to Andor’s aid. Together, the two fighters fillet the second lamia and Andor rips out her spine to use as a belt. With the lamia sisters vanquished, Rast returns to his senses and offers Grogg a healing potion to apologize for stabbing him. Grogg chugs the whole flask down in one go and burps cavernously, that’s the good stuff right there!

Rast lifts Ameiko off the altar and carries her away from that dreadful chamber. She is alive, but her pulse is weak and her pallor deathly pale.

“Is it true, my beloved Are you with child?” Rast asked.

“Yes Rast, we are going to have a baby,” Ameiko said, “I only found out myself the night before the giants came. I wanted to surprise you.”

“I am surprised!” Rast agreed.

The party carry Ameiko back to the secret tunnel and leave her in Solaris’ care.

“I should stay with you,” Rast said uncertainly, “The baby….”

“You must go with the others,” Ameiko said weakly, releasing Rast’s hand from her own, “We’ll talk about this when you get back.”

Rast nodded somberly, planted a whiskery kiss on his wife’s brow and went with the others to confront Mokmorian.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 3 (26/10/2017)

Back in the teleportation circle, Asha inserts a glowing, star-shaped relic into the control console. She had found the strange, golden device on the corpse of one of the dead lamia sisters and known immediately what purpose it served.

“Seven points, seven possible destinations,” she explained, “Twist the dial and off we go.”

She twisted the dial and off they went.

The room around the party blurred and their stomachs lurched as they were hurled into the space between dimensions. A moment later, they reached their destination and appeared atop a mountain overlooking a ruined city of truly epic proportions. Even giants would have been dwarfed by this ancient, urban sprawl! A golden road winds through the crumbling buildings and climbs another mountain on the opposite end of the valley. The side of the mountain has been carved into the likeness of a stern and imperious face. Dragons wheel through the clouds above the city and the streets below teem with giants!

“I think we’re a little under-levelled to be here.” Karrack said, “Where else does this thing go?”

---

The circle moved and the heroes appeared in a tall, circular chamber. The walls are lined with shelves, upon which are stacked ancient, dusty tomes taller than Rast. Karrack notices that the walls and shelves are crafted from the same smooth, black stone as the tower. A cowled figure appears on a balcony overlooking the room. It is clearly a giant, but hunchbacked and twisted like a gnarled and dying tree. One grey hand grips the railing and the other clings to a black staff topped with the severed and rotting head of a black dragon. A string of severed and leering heads have been draped around the giant’s neck.

“Welcome to the black tower, heroes of Sandpoint,” the giant sneers, “I am Mokmorian, lord of Jorgenfist and the architect of your doom! Do you like my library? I hope so, for your bones will lie here for the rest of eternity!”

“Why did you send your giants to attack Sandpoint?” Karrack demands.

“It is the will of my master that this ‘Sandpoint’ fall to ruin,” Mokmorian answered, “There are secrets buried in that place that will accelerate his inevitable return to this world. Not that any of you will live to witness it! Prepare to face my headless lords! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!”

Six undead ogres stomped forward to stand between the heroes and the giant. Each was clad in black armour and wielded a pair of fearsome battle-axes. None of them had a head, just a bloody, rotten stump where the neck ended. Grogg and Fred charged!

“THIS – IS – STRNEGTH!!”

“THIS – IS STENCH!!”

“This is - not working!!” Andor added, his sword bouncing off the headless lords black armour. No matter how well they fought, the party could not seem to wound the undead ogres!

“Wait!” Karrack cried, his lizard mind racing in overtime, “Asha! Destroy the heads around Mokmorian’s neck!”

Asha released a wave of holy bolts at the giant, destroying two of the severed heads on his gristly necklace. Immediately, two of the headless lords collapsed.

“You are too clever for your own good! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!” Mokmorian laughed, pointing at Karrack with his staff. The severed dragon head on the end opened its maw and fired a blast of necromantic energy at the lizardman. Karrack somersaulted out of harms way and threw his spear back at the giant. The point sank deep into the giant's stony flesh!

“GRAAAAGHH!!” Mokmorian shrieked, “Teraktinus, the Giant-Slayer!! Where did you get that weapon?!? And why is there a rope tied to the end of it?!?”

“Well, Solaris loaned it to me,” Karrack explained, “But he got it off a benevolent spirit in an old shrine out on the plateau. And the rope is tied on so that I can do this!”

Karrack dropped off the bridge, swung across the room and started to abseil up the massive bookcase below Mokmorian. Grogg and Andor leapt across to add their weight to Karracks. The giant dropped his staff in order to brace himself against the railing, the rope drawing him closer to the edge. The balcony groaned ominously under his massive weight. At this pivotal moment, Rast jabbed his little knife - coated with his last dose of paralysing tentamort venom - into the giant’s foot. Mokmorian flubbed his vigor roll to resist the effects and found his body suddenly unresponsive to his brain. He lost his grip on the railing and was pulled over the edge! Karrack swung himself and the others out of the way as the giant fell past, hitting the ground below and impaling himself on the stone spear stuck in his chest!

To be continued….

(Ok, so I took some creative liberties there, but you got the job done).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 4 [03/11/2017]

The heroes were feeling pretty pleased with themselves after defeating Mokmorian and ending the threat to Varisia - when the giant warlord sat back up, eyes blazing with arcane fire.

“So these are the heroes of the age?” Mokmorian intoned, “You look more like gasping worms to me.”

The giant’s body moved jerkily as though being manipulated by an autistic puppeteer. His voice sounded different too, now it dripped with cultured malice.

“Come then, heroes. I – Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed - will await you atop the golden spire of Xin Shalast. Know that every minion of mine that you slay only serves to make me stronger and your own doom more certain. After ten thousand years, is this pitiful band really the best the world can do?”

The malevolent flame behind Mokmorian’s dead eyes flickered and faded and the giant slumped to the ground. Grogg stepped up and chopped off his head. He rolled his gory prize onto the balcony overlooking the giant encampment and threw it off to get the armies attention.

“Giants of the Storval Plateau!” Grogg roared, “Mokmorian is dead! Galenmir is dead! Your dragon has turned against you! Your conquest of the lowlands is over! Disband and return to your homes! Return to the old ways and pray for the forgiveness of the gods you abandoned! Don’t make me come down there and bang your heads together!”

With the head of the snake severed (and subsequently splattered across the inner courtyard), the stone giant army wandered off.

“What should we do now?” Asha asked.

“I will escort Ameiko and the other civilians back to Sandpoint.” Rast said, “I will ask Solaris to accompany me, for the road south will be long and fraught with peril. I will wait for you there.”

“The rest of us could experiment with the teleportation circle and see where else it goes.” Asha suggested.

Twisting the star-shaped control rune to the third position, the party found themselves standing in a dark cave that smelled like goblin. Another turn teleported the heroes into the midst of swirling blizzard. Karrack immediately turned blue and began to freeze. Asha twisted the sigil to the sixth point and the party found themselves underwater!

“Glubglubglub?!” Asha cursed, turning the rune to the seventh/final point on the star shaped console.

The party land in a stone chamber, soaked through and draped in foul smelling weeds. The walls glitter with a strange, sparkly purple stone and blue torches burn in iron braziers. A mysterious merchant offers to trade Karrack a jar of 100 eyeballs in exchange for one of his own. The party get a real ‘Needful Things’ vibe of the vendor and decline his attempts to barter. He is able to advise the party that they have stumbled into a chalice dungeon, a random assortment of traps, treasure and monstrous encounters that will be different every time they visit.

“Well that’s neat and all,” Asha mused, “But it doesn’t help solve our runelord problem.”

For lack of better options or signposting from the GM, the party return to the goblin cave and have another poke around. Grogg noticed a hole in the ceiling blocked by a heavy block of stone. Karrack climbed up on the half-orc’s broad shoulders and Asha clambered atop Andor. Working together, they shifted the obstruction and climbed into the room above. Karrack realised that they were back in the ritual chamber under Thistletop where they had fought Nualia Tobyn at the very beginning of their adventure and the stone block they just knocked over was the accursed altar to Lamashtu. Asha picked up a statuette of the Mother of Monsters herself and sets to bashing it in with a rock. Thistletop is a day’s travel from Sandpoint, so the party headed back there, wondering how they would explain their hastened arrival to Rast and Solaris.

Calculating that they have two weeks to kill before the rest of the party make it back, Asha visited the Pathfinder Lodge in Magnimar, returning the amulets that the party recovered from the dead Pathfinders on the Storval Plateau. She asked to make use of the Pathfinder’s library to research the fall of ancient Thassillon and how to combat the Runelords, should one actually be waking up. She finds information pertaining to a site called Runeforge, where a magical metal called Ithilliom could be used to craft weapons capable of killing the Runelords. No one runelord could be entrusted with control of this resource, so all seven maintained a presence here. The only thing the ancient scrolls do not reveal is the actual location of this mythical runeforge.

Meanwhile, Karrack, Andor and Grogg returned to the Storval Plateau to make sure the stone giants had abandoned their warlike practises. They find a group of elders restoring the abandoned shrine to Minderhal and Karrack promised to return the giant-killing spear Teraktinus once the Runelord Karzoug had been defeated. Grogg attracted the romantic attention of a young stone giant huntress called Sapphire. Andor persuaded the other hunters to take him mammoth hunting and they returned several days later dragging the corpse of majestic beast. The elders agreed to help the party decode Mokmorian’s journals and return to the Black Tower to do so. The party learned that Karzoug had compelled Mokmorian to seize several sites of interest (tenuously explaining the attack on Sandpoint), but seemed particularly interested in one specific ruin situated beside a frozen lake in the shadow of Mount Rimeskull, far to the north in the land of snow and swirling blizzards. Karrack curses his -4 racial hindrance in cold climates.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 1 / 10-11-2017

Two weeks after leaving the fortress of Jorgenfist, Rast and Solaris lead the convoy of weary civilians into Sandpoint. Ameiko floats a few inches off the ground, Rast having decided that his pregnant wife is too good to walk with the rest of the herd and gifted her with his ring of flying. The heroes are re-united at the bar of the Rusty Dragon and enjoy a rare drink together before going to report to Mayor Deverin and Sheriff Hemlock at the town hall. Andor opted to remain in the pub and drink himself into oblivion, having received the coin promised to him by the town council for his professional aid during the siege of Sandpoint.

“Thank-you for rescuing the men and women taken by the giants,” Mayor Deverin said, “As well as being my responsibility, many of them are my personal friends. The township of Sandpoint owes you all a great debt, even that drunken sot Drake. You are all welcome to stay in town and relax for as long as you like, I’m sure you could all do with a rest after your last adventure.”

“We can only afford to stay a few days,” Karrack sighed, “Much as we would all like to remain longer. For many months now, ever since our initial investigations into Thistletop and the Skinsaw Man, I have suspected a hidden hand behind the movements of our enemies. A nameless force that scars its wicked servants with the seven pointed mark of the Sideheron. That nameless force is nameless no longer, he revealed himself upon the death of his servant Mokmorian. The enemy we face is no less than Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed.”

“Karzoug… that name sounds real familiar,” Sheriff Hemlock said, thoughtfully rubbing his sandpapery chin, “Where have I heard that before?”

“The Runelords were the seven rulers of ancient Thassillon,” Asha explained, “Sorcerer kings – and queens – wielding godlike power. It was believed that they were destroyed during the cataclysm that ended their empire, but it now appears that at least one of them managed to survive.”

“That’s it!” the sheriff said, snapping his fingers, “Broderick Quirk, the mad old scholar living down by the waterfront. Every night, he’s in the Rusty Dragon, banging on about how the Runelords aren’t dead and it’s only a matter of time before they return to the world. The lads round him up every few weeks for being drunk and disorderly. He sleeps it off in the cells and then totters off home in the morning.”

“I think we need to have a word with this mad scholar,” Karrack said.

---

Bleary eyed and blinking owlishly, Broderick Quirk answered his front door maybe five minutes after Karrack started banging on it. Grogg had wanted to kick open the door and loot the room beyond until Solaris and Asha managed to convince him that that sort of thing was not acceptable outside of a dungeon.

“What delinquent devilry is this?” Quirk demanded, belligerently brandishing an empty wine bottle, “Think it’s clever to wake an old man up at… at ….”

“Four bells past noon.” Rast supplied, unhelpfully.

“ … at this ungodly hour? Well, do you? I’ll tan your hides, you rowdy brutes!”

“We’re here to talk about ancient Thassillon!” Karrack said hastily, as the old man began fumbling with his belt strap.

“Why didn’t you say so?!” Quirk beamed, thrusting the bottle into Karrack’s scaly hand, “Come in and have a drink!”

The scholar’s home was a mess, piles of books and dirty crockery rose in precarious towers from any flat surface upon which they could be stacked. Karrack whistled and an elite group of goblin cleaners descended on the cluttered abode.

“Those hideous children are stealing my precious filth!” Quirk cried in alarm.

“Calm yourself, scholar!” Karrack commanded, “Tell us about the Runelords.”

Referencing a selection of ancient scrolls and dusty manuscripts, Broderick Quirk explains how the realm of men was once governed by a race of powerful humanoids called the Azlant. The seven most formidable men and women of this legendary race became the Runelords and divided the continent into seven territories that each would govern with absolute power;
Karzoug, Runelord of Greed.
Zutha, Runelord of Gluttony.
Bellimarus, Runelord of Envy.
Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride.
Kruul, Runelord of Sloth.
Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath.
and finally Sorshen, Runelord of Lust.
“Why are these last two pages stuck together” Rast asked, “Eww. Nevermind.”

“Tell us about Runeforge and Ithillion.” Karrack said.

“Ithiliiom is a mythical metal that was scarce even in the days of old Thassillon,” Quirk explained, “It was mined from veins of crystallized mana in remote areas where wild, sorcerous energies saturated the ground. It was as much the stuff of magic as it was of the earth and could be fashioned into magnificent weapons and armour. Of course, no normal forge could handle so rare and wondrous an ore, so the Runelords built the Runeforge, the only site in all of Thassillon where Ithilliom could be refined. No one Runelord could be entrusted with control over such a valuable resource, so all seven maintained a presence at the forge, assigning favoured servants or monstrous guardians to safeguard their interests there.”

“So we’ll need people with smithing and sorcery skills to hand?” Solaris said, “With the spiritual guidance of my super magical Uncle Aereon - whose soul now resides within my sword and whispers to me in my sleep – and the technical guidance of that drunken death merchant Andor Drake, I’m certain I could use the runeforge to enhance our existing weaponry with the runelord-killing properties of Ithillion.”

“And then we’ll give Runelord Karzoug a spanking that will make him wish he had died in the cataclysm!” Rast added.

Having thanked the scholar for his time and promised to return with some genuine Thassillonian relics, the heroes of Sandpoint prepare to face the freezing foothills of Mount Rimeskull. Thick, warm coats are crafted from the mammoth fur Andor bagged on the Storval Plateau and Rast stocks up on potions that will protect his comrades from the cold. Once the party are as ready as they are going to get, they head for Thistletop and use the teleportation circle there to transport themselves to the shores of Lake Stormunder.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 2 / 10-11-2017

The party materialize in the eye of a raging blizzard! The icy wind howls like a banshee and the heroes huddle into their mammoth fur coats for warmth and the +2 vigor bonus against the cold. Despite these extra layers of protection against the hostile elements, it quickly becomes clear that Karrack will not survive in these harsh conditions for long (racial hindrance: cold blooded). Asha drives a spare spear into the icy ground and ties the end of her rope around the shaft with numb, trembling fingers. The party range away from the teleportation circle, using the rope as a lifeline to lead them back should they need to beat a hasty retreat. One hour and several coils of rope later, they stumble upon the edge of the frozen lake. The heroes set out across the black ice. The trek across the lake is a tortuously slow and singularly miserable affair, with each cautious step onward carrying the risk of the ice underfoot cracking open and spilling the heroes into the dark water below.

With their elite warrior training, Grogg and Andor are the only two party members alert enough to notice the wolf pack before the stealthy beasts’ spring their ambush. Claws scrabbling for purchase against the ice, three lean, hungry wolves burst from the blizzard in a tangle of grey fur and glistening fangs. They leap at Solaris and drag the half-elf to the ground, sinking their jaws into his legs and attempting to drag him into the night. Grogg leaps forward, cleaving all three beasts with one swing of his trusty axe and hauling Solaris back to his feet. More wolves harass the party, snapping and snarling and generally proving pretty ineffectual against veteran-level PCs, until the dire wolves turn up and shift the balance back towards Team Jacob. Asha screams as a dire wolf locks its jaws around her arm and violently shakes its furry head, trying to wrench the limb from her body.

Suddenly, a deep, ominous roar rolls across the frozen lake and the wolf pack whimper and flee the battle. The heroes have but a moment to ready themselves, before a monstrously overgrown polar bear lumbers out of the swirling snow! The bear rears up on its back paws and Andor darts in with his spear, sinking the shaft deep into the beast’s hairy breast. The bear roars and bats the old mercenary aside. Leaving his spear buried in the bear’s body, Andor switches to his glowing longsword and bounces back into the fray, swinging his blade at the beast’s head and hacking off its jaw! Karrack darts in and drives his spear up through the exposed roof of the bear’s mouth and into its tiny bear brain! The beast shudders and dies, spilling its hot bear blood across the ice. Everyone crowds around the furry corpse and spoons it for warmth. Karrack takes things a step too far, slicing open the beast’s tummy and crawling in amongst the warm, gooey entrails. He refuses to come out when the others tell him it is time to move on, so Grogg and Andor are forced to drag the dead bear across the ice with Karrack huddled inside.

The party reach the island in the centre of the frozen lake, upon which stand seven monolithic stone heads, each one marked with the runic symbol of a different Runelord. Rising from the centre of the island is a stone circle that remains curiously clear of the snow piling up on all sides. Unsure how to activate the ancient runes and reveal the entrance to Runeforge, Solaris communes with his haunted sword and the ghost of his super magical uncle.

“Each Runelord drew his power from a specific sin,” the sword reveals, “Charge their runes with strong memories of sinful behaviour and the way ahead will open to you.”

Solaris shares this information with the rest of the party. Rast steps up to the rune of greed and presses his grubby little palm against the dark sigil. The stone head feeds on Rast’s greed and lights up like a beacon. Grogg activates the rune for Pride by remembering how he left a ‘Grogg the Smasher’ action figure on the altar Minderhal. Asha activates the rune for Lust by recalling how she once surprised a virtuous and well hung paladin at the temple baths. Solaris activates the runes for both Wrath (killing his twin brother atop the Moonspike Monastery) and Gluttony (eating a load of cake and getting fat, before the monks whipped him back into shape). Andor activates the rune for Sloth due to the years wasted propping up various bars across Varisia, rather than doing something productive with his life. Finally, Karrack activates the rune for Envy, due to how he feels about the strength and togetherness of the humans he was raised amongst and how he has always yearned for that closeness, yet been pushed away due to his monstrous appearance (aww). Once all seven stone heads are illuminated, the stone circle in the centre of the island rumbles and shifts, creating a flight of wide, spiral steps descending beneath the lake. Steeling themselves for the trials ahead, the party enter the Runeforge.

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 3 / 10-11-2017

The heroes descend into a vast, domed chamber, easily two hundred feet in circumference. The space is dominated by seven 25ft tall statues of the seven Runelords. Behind each statue, arched tunnels lead off into the various wings of the dungeon, each area controlled by a rival faction. The centre of the dome is filled by an array of smithing apparatus, cold pipes and dark flues tangled together like a nest of iron serpents.

“The fires of Runeforge have slumbered for thousands of years,” Rast said with a dwarf’s surety, after resting his hands against the cool metal, “But I can rouse them again, given time.”

The party debate which of the seven wings to explore first. The consensus is: any one except Greed. For [reasons] they decide to do Lust first and head through the arch behind the statue of Runelord Sorshen. It is difficult to ignore (since she elected to model in the nude) that for all her megalomaniacal ambitions, Sorshen had a pretty fine ass.

“I would tap that.” Andor confided to Rast, with a suggestive wiggle of his creaky hips.

Rast grunts. He is not impressed by Sorshen’s smooth, perfect skin. He much prefers his women coarse and hairy.

The tunnel terminates on a stone ledge overlooking a seemingly bottomless abyss. Iron cages dangle over the pit from lengths of rusty chain. Pitiful figures wrapped in strips of greasy leather languish within their hanging cells. A larger cage looms near the centre of the cavernous space, hanging in space like a fat, iron spider in its web. Brightly dyed fabric has been draped over the sides and cavorting shadows writhe alluringly against the colourful cloth. The only sounds in the cave are the moaning of the prisoners and a suspicious, leathery flapping noise from the darkness above.

“It looks like we need to jump from cage to cage to reach the pavilion,” Karrack said, securing Teraktinus to his back, “And we used up all our rope marking the route back to the teleporter. If you’re coming across, try not to roll snake-eyes on your agility die.”

“Huh? Whussat?!” Grogg said. His mind had been elsewhere. What was it Karrack had just said? Oh well, it was probably not important.

Karrack and Solaris deftly hop from cage to cage without plunging to their almost certain doom. Halfway across the abyss, they are challenged by a skanky looking harpy waving a spear.

“Who seeks the pleasurable embrace of the Lady Delphine?” she squawks.

“We are mighty heroes, seeking tools to destroy Runelord Karzoug!” Solaris declares grandiosely, “Lead us to your mistress so that we may trigger the next combat encounter!”

“Follow me!” hisses the harpy, wondering when mighty heroes became so mighty predictable.

The cage into which they are led is a riot of garish colour and intoxicating smells. A smoking censer in one corner fills the room with a sweet, narcotic haze and both Karrack and Solaris begin to feel a little woozy. Several naked human prisoners are strapped to metal bed frames around the pavilion, moaning with some potent cocktail of pleasure and despair. Several more harpies are busy tormenting the prisoners with a variety of ghoulish looking instruments. A violet-skinned succubus with come-to-bed eyes and stab-you-in-the-face claws presides over the orgy from an uncomfortable-looking metal throne.

“Whatever have you found, sister? Fresh meat for us to grind?” purrs the succubus, rising from her seat and slowly circling the heroes like a hungry shark, “I am the Lady Delphine, mistress of the Iron Cages of Lust and devoted servant to the Runelord Sorshen. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

She offers her hand to Karrack, who makes a valiant attempt to kiss it despite his lack of lips. She turns to Solaris, who offers her a brisk, business-like handshake instead. She is less than impressed.

“So how can I help you two handsome studs?”

“We have reason to believe that Runelord Karzoug conspired to survive the cataclysm and now he’s gathering strength to conquer the world.” Karrack explained, “We’re gathering Ithilliom ore so that we can forge weapons capable of killing him before he regains his full power.”

“Let me get this straight,” Delphine said, “Runeforge is unsealed for the first time in a millennia and Runelord Karzoug is gathering allies to his side?”

“Err…” said Karrack.

“Yes.” said Solaris.

“And you idiots have already wound him up to the point that anyone delivering your bodies to his feet would likely gain immense favour in the new world?”

“Err…” said Karrack.

“Yes.” said Solaris.

“I guess I’ll be doing that then.” decided Delphine.

“You said you were devoted to Sorshen!” Karrack protested.

“Darling,” Delphine answered with a pitying smile, “To please powerful men, you sometimes have to be flexible.”

Karrack readies Teraktinus and moves to engage the succubus, while Solaris fends of the spear-wielding harpies.

“Sounds like fighting!” Grogg cries, reacting to the familiar clash of steel from within the pavilion, “Follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Rolling snake eyes on his agility die, Grogg trips over his own feet and falls into the pit.

Fortunately, the GM is too much of a nice guy to kill a PC for one crappy roll and Grogg manages to grab onto the underside of the closest cage. Unfortunately, he can only use one hand to hold on, as he needs the other to fend off the swarm of harpies flapping over to kill him.

Rast, Asha and Andor thin their numbers from the ledge and Grogg makes short work of anything that he can reach, as the cage swings wildly on the end of its rusty chain. Once all enemies are defeated, Asha casts Boost Trait to improve Grogg’s agility and the half-orc makes it back onto solid ground.

Seeing that she is outmatched, Delphine surrenders her treasures in exchange for her life. Solaris accepts her terms and rummages through her stuff. He finds one Ithillion Shard, a demonic Kama Sutra and a +3 sentient sex toy.

“Please take me with you!” it pleads, “The things I’ve seen!”

To be continued….


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Savours / Session Six / Part 1 (16/11/2017)

Having cleared the Iron Cages of Lust, the heroes return to the Runeforge hub and deliberate over which of the remaining six wings to assault next. Grogg suggests that his sideheron tattoo might allow him to infiltrate the fanatics loyal to Karzoug and the party head down the tunnel behind the big man’s statue – all except Rast (whose player was absent this week), who opts to stay behind and begin reigniting the runeforge. The passage ends at towering golden door studded with large, glittering gemstones of various hues. Andor examines the portal but can discern no handle nor keyhole with which to open the way ahead.

“It’s a good job that Rast isn’t here to see this,” Andor said, backing away from the golden door, “He’d probably try to do something stupid like prise one of the gemstones out … of… the….”

He trails off as Grogg steps forward and starts trying to prise one of the gemstones out of the door. There is a flash of light and a smell of burning Grogg as the half-orc gladiator pops a large ruby out its socket and is catapulted 10ft through the air by the resultant burst of arcane energy. Picking himself up off the floor, Grogg limps away to ask Rast to appraise his prize. Rast peers at the blood coloured rock and bites it experimentally, before declaring it to be a worthless piece of costume glass and tossing it over his shoulder. Grogg deflates like a little, sad balloon and slopes back to join the others at the golden portal.

“You boys look like you’re getting all hot and bothered,” said a silky voice, “Maybe I can help.”

Lady Delphine approaches brazenly, now dressed in figure hugging travelling garb and knee high boots that may or may not have been crafted from human skin.

“What do you want?” Karrack demanded, “I had hoped our paths would not cross again, demon.”

“Well, I was hoping to persuade you to return the special toy you took from my parlour,” Delphine purred, “You’re collecting Ithillion, right? You have no need of it and it has… ahem… sentimental value to me. It was a gift from my mother.”

“Don’t let her take me back!” cried the magical dildo from the depths of Solaris’ haversack.

“No!” the half-elf snapped, “I need it for… strictly academic purposes!”

“No harm asking,” Delphine sighed, “Anyway, I see you’re having some trouble with Odrikon’s front door.”

“Who is Odrikon?” Karrack asked.

“Karoug’s mortal representative here in Runeforge,” Delphine explained, “A tedious fellow, by all accounts, but he shares your interest in Ithilliom. I wouldn’t tell him why you’re gathering it though. He might not be too enamoured with the idea that you’re planning to kill his master.
“Since we’re bonding here, maybe you’d be kind enough to tell me where Runelord Karzoug has set up shop in your world? I’d simply love to catch up with the old rascal.”

The party form a huddle and try to establish which of them has the greatest chance of bluffing successfully.

“I can hear you.” Delphine sighs.

“We … don’t know where he is.” Karrack lied. Unconvincingly.

“Riiiight…” Delphine said, stepping up to Grogg and gently caressing his scarred cheek, “You want to give me what I need, don’t you stud?”

“Xin Shalast!” Grogg blurted out, succumbing to the succubus’ demonic allure.

“Aww,” she pouted, “I had hoped you’d last longer than that. Well, I’d love to stay and cuddle darling, but I have places to be! If you are determined to get through that garish entrance, you’ll need to touch the stones in a certain order. What was it now? Ruby, Emerald, Emerald, Amethyst, Diamond… I think. I’m sure you’ll work it out! How many combinations can there be? Cheerio darlings, until we meet again!”

Andor steps up to the door and presses the gems in the order than the succubus suggested. There is a crackle of energy and he is blasted across the room to crumple bonelessly in the far corner.

“Curse that deceitful succubus!” Karrack cried, shaking his scaly fist to the heavens, “If you can’t trust a demon, who can you trust?”

The heroes almost TPK themselves trying out different combinations, before wisely deciding to attempt a different part of the dungeon and return to this maddening puzzle later. They tap Rast for healing and soon the only thing still injured is their pride. Appropriately, they decide to visit the Shimmering Veils secreted behind the statue of Runelord Xanderghul.

To be continued….

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