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Gluttony wrote:

I love how you handled scrying. I always have trouble making that spell work. My players always end up knowing either too little, or too much when I try it.

So... Well done. ^_^

Thanks! My original plan was to have the scrying 'invisible' to the player whether or not she made her save, but then I realized that a player making a saving throw should know that something happened; I don't like situations where the GM says, "You resisted something, but you have no idea what, and it didn't feel like anything."

So I had her make her first saving throw before I told her anything, she made it (Hello? Paladin!), and THEN I started describing how the scrying felt, so we had the context established. Every time thereafter she made her save, and felt the 'presence'. When she finally let it in, it functioned like the spell is supposed to, and she had no idea she was being scried.

I especially like it because it establishes a baseline for later in the scenario when scrying by both sides will be commonplace; the monsters have some protection from 'scry-n-fry' tactics (They make their save = they know you're looking), and the characters have some protection from utter hosement. (Yes. That's a real word. Really it is.)

I considered giving her a 'mental image' of the scryer, but decided that that would be giving her too much information; the whole point of scrying is that you're getting a massive tactical advantage over your opponents, and it's NOT a cheap spell to cast.

Anyway, I'm vastly looking forward to Saturday -- we've set aside around 10 hours for gameplay, so there's a chance we'll finish Module 2. I doubt it, because I'll be awake and they'll want to explore Magnimar with a coherent GM, but there's a chance! ;-)

Oh, and congrats on post 100 on my thread! I should send you something! Maybe I can convince Raesh's player to make a second Silver Tsuto (I got 3 in the set) and you can have your own! :-P

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Ok, so I already saw the obituaries...when do we get details!

The e-mail went out around 6:00 am this morning. Usually the edits go Raesh -> Shiro -> Hi, but Hi doesn't check his e-mail 'til after 6:00 in the evening, so I'd say all the gory details should be up tonight once the Paizo's servers are running again...

I was wondering whether anyone'd noticed the obits...

Yeah. Sad, sad day.

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Oh, I wouldn't worry about it TOO much. This is the 'roleplaying is key' group. Of COURSE they spent all the money they got from the session paying to raise the dead NPC barbarian.

Would they do anything else?

He counts as an obit because he died. But yeah, he'll be back in the next installment. (I didn't put the resurrection into the summary because they haven't done it yet, but I don't see them changing their mind in a week and deciding, "Well, we could have Halek back, or we could have this nifty +1 holy scimitar. I think we'll go for the scimitar...")

Lol. True. Good on 'em! I just had a character killed by none other than Keith Baker. Thankfully, through some fantastic role-playing on the parties part, I survived. Love when a game goes that way. :)

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OK, I'm going to violate protocol a bit and post before Hi's player gets a chance to edit. His edits are usually minimal, but after two people have indicated interest in the story, I figure I'll post it now, and do "Hi's Highlights" in a second post when Hi's player takes care of it.


13-Oct-2012 Game

The players finished off module 2 in an epic 12-hour session on Saturday, which kind of explains why this post is so late and so long.

We also have the honor of seeing the same BBEG get the first player kill AND a Silver Tsuto Award in the same combat! But just in case you haven't checked the obituaries and don't care for spoilers, I won't say any more 'til we get there...

28-Lamasht-4707 (continued from last session)

We decided to resume the session with the party at the Foxglove Townhouse, as we'd ended the session rather abruptly last time due to the late hour.

After further thought and discussion, the party realized that hauling a bound prisoner through the Summit at night while carrying a corpse in their bag of holding was probably not the best of ideas. Knowing that the temple of Iomedae was only a few blocks away, they decided to hide the dead Skinsaw cultist alongside the two faceless stalkers in the garden shed, while they stuffed the live cultist into the bag of holding. If he objected, his gag and Halek's persuasive shoving made it moot.

They hurried to the temple, so as not to suffocate the prisoner, and were met by an acolyte. While the acolyte didn't recognize them, when they said they had urgent business in the temple he led them in immediately. He had them wait as he summoned the night cleric, Mikkel, and while he was away they looked around the temple. There were only two paladins and perhaps 3-4 worshipers, all of whom looked like mercenaries. They took a chance and let some air into the bag of holding, and no one noticed. Mikkel came out and they explained their plight; they were investigating a series of ritual murders in Sandpoint, and had learned that similar murders were occurring in Magnimar. They had tracked Aldern Foxglove to his manor and dispatched him, but papers on his person led them to Foxglove Townhouse, where they were attacked by two cultists and two aberrations. They killed the aberrations and one of the cultists, but they captured the other. Tira (Ronnova, Chaplain of the temple) had warned them against trusting the town guard, so they were hoping Mikkel would hold the prisoner overnight, and let Tira turn him over to town guard she trusted in the morning. After a masterful Diplomacy roll, they convinced Mikkel to send a pair of paladins to remove the bodies from the townhouse to the Temple of Pharasma for a proper burial, and to keep the prisoner tied up and locked in a cell until morning. They were worried that he was a suicide risk. Mikkel agreed to keep the PC's identity anonymous for one week to give them time to investigate, after which he would need to tell the authorities about their actions.

With the cleanup and prisoners taken care of, the party returned, weary but victorious, to the Blue Bunyip. What they saw there stopped Shiro in his tracks. A female kitsune, perhaps 17 years old, was performing as the bard that evening. Shiro sat down to listen. She was playing a mournful old song from Minkai about one of the great families who had sensed a great threat and fled over the Crown of the World and left Minkai behind forever. She wasn't performing all that well (a 4. My die hates me), but Shiro was well aware of the trials and travails of playing in public. Halek retired for the evening. Raesh and Hi stayed with Shiro, and they waited until she completed her performance at midnight before Shiro introduced himself. She was Kaede Kobayashi (bard, 17), one of two families of kitsune who had fled Minkai during the Amatatsu exodus of 4652, and who were now living in Magnimar. Her parents were both performers (her dad was a bard and her mom was a geisha-style hostess) who usually worked at the Osprey Club. Her mom sometimes acted as a hostess at the House of Welcome, and on those nights her dad liked to play at the Blue Bunyip. When he was at the Osprey, Kaede liked to perform at the Bunyip. She was very excited to meet another kitsune, much less one so recently from Minkai, and she asked him if he would teach her more 'modern' songs from Minkai. Shiro readily agreed that, if he was around the next day, he would teach her. As she was leaving, she transformed into a human to walk the streets. Shiro turned into his fox form and gave her a bow. She smiled, returned the bow, and departed. Everyone found their maids waiting for them; once again Hi asked his to draw his bath and nothing more, Raesh had hers draw her bath and leave (so that she could play with her toy bunyip), and Shiro accepted "help with the bath, but nothing more."


Raesh rose with the dawn and proceeded to the temple of Iomedae to perform her morning devotions. Almost exactly an hour after sunrise, there was another scrying attempt. This time, as she knew what it was, she had no difficulty whatsoever repelling it. She met Halek as he was completing his exercises, and they met Shiro and Hi for breakfast. Around 10:00 am, a very old kitsune strode in, flanked by two town guardsmen. He strode up to Shiro. "You are kitsune?"
"I am Sunaki Mikune, patriarch of the Mikunes and member of the Council of Ushers. You know songs of Minkai?"
"You are free tonight?"
"I do not know that. I may not be alive tonight."
"Very well, we will be here tonight. If you are not, it will not be an issue. If you are alive and you are free, you will teach us. I will bring the clan."
Sunaki (aristocrat/diplomat/expert, 65) bowed and departed. Shiro bowed back. Raesh disapproved of Sunaki’s imperious nature, but since Shiro seemed OK with it, she said nothing. Once he departed, the party decided to investigate the Seven's Sawmill. First, as they were passing through the Dockway anyway, they did a bit more window shopping, discussing what they would buy once they had the money. They proceeded to the sawmill and noticed that from the outside, it looked like a perfectly ordinary sawmill. Another high Knowledge: Local roll and they knew that locals wondered about the sawmill's production; even though it seemed to be in service as much as the other sawmills, it only produced a third as much wood as the other places. The party wasn't surprised.

They approached the sawmill in the open and tested the front door. It was locked. They went around the side to a lower door right on the water. This one was also locked. It was very curious to have a business have its doors locked during the day, but this wasn't enough to justify storming the place. Deciding on discretion, Shiro picked the lock on the lower door (which had the advantage of not being easily visible from the street) and opened it. Inside they found the inner workings of the sawmill: Four immense waterwheels powering an intricate maze of machinery filling most of the bottom floor. Three workmen were there, working on maintaining the machinery, and they noticed the intruders immediately. They stopped what they were doing and approached. As they approached, Raesh Detected Evil on them and found them to be evil. (They just HAD to have a level of cleric, didn't they?)

They tried to be friendly and shoo the party out, but as usual, Shiro called their bluff. Shiro, clued in by Raesh simply said, "You are evil..." prompting the cultists to attack. As the Skinsaw cultists donned their masks and pulled out their razors, Raesh took the one on the right side of the door. Shiro tried to use Acrobatics to tumble through the machinery to make room for Halek, but instead rolled a 1 and tumbled prone into the machinery. Halek raced forward and missed both cultists. Hi fired an elemental ray that also missed. Raesh struck hers again and said, "Halek. Hit them."

It was bad. It was really, really, truly bad. Halek raged. Halek rolled his first attack. And crit for 72 points of damage. Halek rolled his second attack. And crit for 63 points of damage. Two Skinsaw cultists vaporized in a mist of gore and bone chips. Raesh critiqued, "That was a bit excessive, Halek."

Raesh dropped her cultist, but refused to provide Halek a mercy. He was unhurt, and if he was going to vaporize cultists, he was going to have to live with being fatigued. They carefully placed the skinsaw masks on what was left of the cultists, so any guards finding the dead men would know they were no good, made a Heal check to determine that the final cultist was at -9 hit points and wouldn't wake up for hours, and decided to leave him tied up below as they explored the rest of the mill. (GM Note: I did set Perception DCs for the cultists on every floor to notice fights below them. The cultists on the second floor rolled a dead-up 1 to notice this combat. Stupid die!) They noticed that they could possibly climb up the log chutes to the floor above, but noticed that a failing roll might drop them into the machinery, so they decided that discretion was the better part of valor and went around to the front door. Again, Shiro could hear nothing but machinery inside, so again they had Shiro pick the lock (he really did have a good run with everything except Acrobatics this session). The first floor was devoid of activity, and seemed to be some kind of loading area, with two wagons less than half-full of lumber, and half-doors leading to areas where turning shafts were carrying the waterwheel's mechanical power to the upper levels. The only unusual feature of the first floor was an immense pile of hay; Halek determined (another crit. Maybe my die was starting to behave) that it had been slept on by a large creature. Shiro and Raesh figured it might be a giant or ogre. They proceeded up the stairs.
The stairs led to a small anteroom. Proceeding, they found the lumber collection room, with four 'workers' stacking wood. Once again, as they walked into the room and the 'workers' approached, Raesh Detected Evil on them and warned the party. The fight was short and brutal. About the only thing that went well for the cultists was that they Commanded Raesh to drop her longsword, but she just pulled out her scimitar and kept right on whacking them. Halek seemed utterly incapable of not killing the cultists he hit; it was really beginning to irritate Raesh. The cultists on the next floor up succeeded in their Perception roll (hooray!), but just ran down the stairs to get themselves slaughtered; no one felt like failing a Will save that day. Hi was on remarkably good behavior; he used targeted spells like Elemental Ray and Acid Splash, and even went over and put out the fires he started when his Elemental Rays missed. Towards the end of the fight, one cultist fled upstairs to warn the remaining cultists to prepare, and Raesh made sure Halek didn't run ahead to chase him.
The party proceeded carefully up the stairs, moving as quickly as they could to try to catch up, but not so quick as to be careless (in other words, we stayed in combat rounds. I even determined on which round Ironbriar heard the ruckus and started buffing himself.) There was no one apparent on the next floor, but there was a closed door, so Hi positioned himself there, ready to barbecue anyone or anything that tried to come out. Raesh, Shiro, and Halek kept going up the stairs (they could hear the movement above with yet another great Perception roll from Shiro). On the top floor, Raesh simply walked intentionally into the ambush. Never have no many hand crossbows been shot so uselessly. Tiny arrows tinked off Raesh's armor as she stared at the remaining cultists as if to say, "Really?"

Halek raged in and started pounding cultists. Shiro performed. Raesh joined Halek. The three remaining cultists dropped quickly, Hi started climbing the stairs, and they were just about to start searching the room when Boom! Someone channeled negative energy, hitting Halek and Raesh and killing the three unconscious cultists. The party moved quickly to search the upper floor, but found no one. The door to the office was unlocked, and it had a ladder leading to the roof. Had the leader of the cult fled upstairs? Shiro irritated his GM immensely by casting Detect Magic into the study and realizing someone or something was in there but invisible. Deciding that lunacy was the order of the day, Shiro ran in waving his arms around, trying to find his invisible foe.

You figure a sneak attack on an opponent who's running around waving his arms like a loony should be pretty devastating, right? Ironbriar 'devastated' Shiro for all of 5 points of damage. So he got off his Summon Monster III to flank the party with 3 lemures, hit Shiro with a near-harmless attack of opportunity, then knew the joys of a raging Halek and evil-smiting Raesh. It was so hopeless he started channeling negative energy in spite of the fact that he was dropping his own lemures, but it didn't matter. He got off no clever soliloquies, no monologues of ego-stoking or threats of doom, he just got whomped on fair and square. Raesh even had to hold back on her final attack to avoid killing him, leaving him at the number of the day: -9 hit points.
With the Skinsaw cult smashed, Ironbriar prisoner, and only 3 surviving cultists (did I mention that Halek really made a mess of things?) , the party explored the sawmill at their leisure. Ironbriar had rare books, a spellbook, artwork, and an encoded journal the party couldn't read, along with his combat gear (a wand, a magic short sword, a magic buckler, a mithral chain shirt, and a masterwork hand crossbow with poisoned bolts). Shiro took the buckler, the mithral shirt, and the wand, Halek took the short sword, and they sold the rest. They left the Reaper's Mask on Ironbriar so someone else could 'expose' him. In a closet on the second floor, they found Skinsaw cult robes and a barrel full of loot (gold, potions, diamonds, and a decanter). On the third floor, they noticed blood and gore mixed in with the sawdust. Shiro used Blood Biography and confirmed that whoever had shed the blood had also lost his or her soul. The party shuddered a bit at that news. The ladder in Ironbriar's office led up to a rookery with three ravens in it, along with a pile of parchment, ink, and a quill. Shiro looked for indentations on the parchment, but Ironbriar had been careful enough to write only one sheet at a time. They decided that they would rest up for the day, then try to release and follow a raven the next day. Raesh put her hand on Hi's shoulder and looked at him, "You showed exemplary self-control in using your spells wisely in the sawmill. I commend you for your self-discipline!"

As they thoroughly searched the sawmill, Shiro used Knowledge: Local to be sure the party did not disturb evidence that would allow the conviction of the guilty. They then sent Halek to notify Tira at the temple of Iomedae. About half an hour later, High Cleric Tira herself showed up on horseback with a handful of paladins, another cleric, and several town guardsmen. She listened carefully as they explained what had happened. Then they asked her to perform the unmasking of Ironbriar, so she would see him revealed. She told them she had to inform the mayor and the rest of the town guard. They accepted her decision. Her group then gathered everything from the sawmill for an accounting. In addition to the items mentioned above, the party kept Ironbriar's journal. Once the cleric had performed his initial accounting, he provided the party with a writ of credit for over 28,000 g.p. They were rich!

On their way back through Dockway, they did some more shopping. Raesh ordered +1 mithral plate mail. It would be ready the next morning. They also purchased a mithral breastplate for Halek and a wand of Silence. The party returned victorious to the Blue Bunyip; at least they tried to. Standing in front of the Blue Bunyip was a page in the Lord Mayor's colors. As they approached, he stepped forward. "The Lord Mayor would see you at your earliest convenience. Preferably now."
The party accompanied the page to the Pediment building, where they were required to turn in their weapons. Hi insisted that his hands were his weapons. They didn't even bother taking his dagger. They did take Halek's dagger. Raesh was obviously seriously offended by the request; she just stared stony-faced at the guards, as if daring them to take her weapons. They simply shrugged and said, "It's the rules. If you don't turn in your weapons, you don't get to go in."
Raesh relented with a scowl and let them take her weapons. The party noticed that magical weapons were given special locked holding boxes, while mundane weapons were just tossed in a bin. The page led them through the foyer, where everyone except Halek sensed anti-magic at work. Finally, they were led upstairs to the mayor's office, where they had to wait for about 15 minutes in the (very comfortable) reception room before gaining an audience with the mayor.
The mayor's office was ludicrously opulent; the carpet was so thick and lush it rivaled the beds at the blue bayou. Everything that wasn't polished mahogany was gilt. The remains of a roast duck and some potatoes sat on an ornate platter on one corner of the mayor's desk, along with a goblet of what was probably very fine wine. The mayor obviously loved his luxuries. After inviting the party to sit, the mayor started in. "When I originally sent my page to summon you, I was going to express my extreme displeasure at your vigilantism in my city. However, Tira informs me that earlier today, you broke the back of the Skinsaw cult in this city, likely ending the string of murders that has plagued us, and found evidence that one of our own high justices is guilty of treason. I appreciate that greatly. Not only did you do all of this, but you did it quietly, without turning it into a circus. I am an honest man, so I will make you a deal. Tell me the entire story, from the beginning, omitting none of the details, and I won't have you thrown into the Hells for the rest of your lives."
The party was aghast. Shiro Sensed Motive. My die hated me yet again (a 2 on the mayor's Bluff roll), so Shiro got the works: The mayor cared nothing about vigilantism or murder of anyone not close to him, but was vastly concerned about his image. If it got out that a high justice under his watch had been a serial killer, it would vastly undermine his power. His sole concern was how the series of events would make him look; the fate of 'lesser people' was of no concern.
Raesh was offended. "You said yourself that we stopped the Skinsaw cult. How can you claim to be an honest man and then threaten to have us unlawfully prosecuted?"

"Oh, I'm sure I could make something up, create some evidence that would get you locked away for life. It's not all that hard. But that's not what I want here. All I want is to know exactly what happened, and you're free to go. Lie to me or withhold information, and your life will become extremely... uncomfortable."

Raesh went silent, the rage seething beneath her best stony face. Shiro turned to her for guidance, but all he got from her was, "Tell him what you want. I will tell him nothing."
Shiro decided to do exactly what he'd done with Captain Corwin. He started in, telling the tale from the absolute beginning at the Sandpoint festival, in as much excruciating detail as humanly possible, hoping to bore the mayor to tears. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes in he realized that he was dealing with someone a cut above the captain. The mayor was listening intently, asking pertinent questions, and seemed not at all disturbed by the pace. In fact, the mayor sat back and said, "You are a masterful bard. You have taken half an hour to tell a tale that should have taken two minutes. But I am a patient man, and I have sat on council meetings that went on for 36 hours. I do not think you have a hope of boring me. Perhaps you'd like to set your pace appropriately?"

Shiro quickly did some calculations in his head, and determined that he had about 3 hours before he was supposed to meet the kitsunes at the Blue Bunyip, so he timed his tale to tell the mayor everything, and end exactly at 6:30 pm, giving them just enough time to get to the Blue Bunyip by 7. True to his word, the mayor listened patiently, despite Halek's snores. At the end, he smiled. "See? That wasn't that hard, was it? And now, as long as you promise to keep this quiet, you're free to go."
The party woke up Halek and skulked out, Raesh still seething. They collected their weapons, and found that they had been cleaned and polished. Halek nearly wept at his blood-free earthbreaker. Raesh and Shiro consoled him. "There, there, Halek. You'll get to smash someone tomorrow, I'm sure of it!"

They arrived at the Blue Bunyip to hear a commotion inside. They entered, and the entire dining room was full of kitsune! There were eleven in all. Sunaki strode forward and welcomed them. "Tonight, you are doing us a great service, and you must be our guests! Dine with us! Drink with us! And sing us your songs, that we may learn them and remember our homeland!" He was much jollier than he'd been that morning.
Raesh excused herself to tidy up, then stormed up the stairs and spent a few productive minutes brutally attacking her pillow in frustration before resuming her traditional calm demeanor. She donned her casual black leather armor and proceeded back downstairs.
The two families had five bards among them (Kousei Kobayashi, 45 (the dad); Kaede Kobayashi, 17 (big sis); Yuto Mikune, 25 (big bro); Umie Mikune, 19 (sis, and WOW!! What a CHA); and Makine Mikune, 15 (sis). As Shiro started performing, all five bards gathered to listen intently, take notes, and ask questions about variations in the performance, or how to perform on different instruments. As the bards listened to Shiro, the rest of the clan did their best to make the other party members feel welcome; Shirota (65) and Meguma Mikune, 53 (mom) sat with Raesh. Kasuri Kobayashi, 8 (sis) and Leilani Mikune, 9 (sis) sat with Hi. Hiriko Kobayashi, 43 (mom) took care of Halek, having a surprising amount of experience with Shoanti from the House of Welcome. In the corner sat Shirota Kobayashi, 13 (bro) taking care of Kenji Mikune, 13 (blind oracle bro), a white kitsune.

By around 12:30 am, the kitsunes had had enough training for the night, and decided to head home. Raesh rushed upstairs and came back down with a pair of wooden fox toys she'd carved for practice. She gifted those to the little girls and they squeed and hugged her, making her almost-smile. Yuto offered to stay and help Raesh 'relax' with a massage and bath. She politely declined. Shiro was very interested in Kenji, and asked him whether he was an oracle. Kenji replied that he was, and he had been chosen to lead his clan back over the Crown of the World to Minkai when the time was right, but that was not his destiny quite yet. Shiro also took Shirota aside and told him of the Skinsaw cult and the mayor's reaction to it. Shirota smiled, "That's our mayor! Utterly corrupt, but he does manage the city well! Thank you for the information! It may be of use some day!"
Hiriko walked over to Halek, whispered something to him, and he grabbed his earthbreaker and headed out the door with them. Shiro did a quick Detect Magic, but Hiriko reassured him that such a large party at night might attract trouble, and Halek would discourage it, plus Shoanti loved to protect their elders, so he'd have a good walk. It was a bizarre sight; as each kitsune headed out the door, he or she popped into human form, waved, and left. At the end, Shirota gave Shiro a deep bow and thanked him for his teachings, and told him he would always be welcome at their houses. Hi made an inappropriate comment about breeding stock and new blood, but fortunately nobody overheard.

The party had had a good day, and slept well, but not before Shiro knocked two separate times on Raesh's door; the first to be sure she had a good evening. He so wanted that she enjoy her time with the Kitsune and at the same time realized that she might be feeling down being the only Drow they were likely to ever meet on friendly terms. The second time he cautioned her to check her room window as he had found his unlatched. His attempt to warn Hi of the same failed, as he was already sound asleep.

The party leveled up to level 7.


Raesh felt the scrying yet again right after her morning devotions. This time she rolled a natural 20 to resist, and she got a mental image of her scryer: He was a middle-aged man, disheveled and looking rather worn and sickly, wearing a weather-worn cloak and no indication of his school. This was odd; he was clearly a wizard, but every wizard she'd seen had had some indication of his or her school somewhere; this man looked as if he was trying to hide the fact that he was a wizard. Above him she could see ship's rigging. She could also sense that he was within 100 miles of her, but nothing more. She raced to a cleric and cried out, "Scrying! Now! Trace!"
The cleric clucked. There was nothing they could do to trace the scry unless they had an image of the man, some possession of his, or some information about him other than the fact that he was trying to scry Raesh. Raesh then asked to meet briefly with Tira, and reported the mayor's behavior; that he had threatened them with false imprisonment if they didn't divulge information. Tira replied that the temple was well aware of the mayor's 'shortcomings', but as lawful members of the city, they were duty bound not to actively oppose him. However, they did happen to know of a location where, if you left enough platinum and the handwritten name of an innocent prisoner, the platinum and the note would vanish, and the prisoner would mysteriously 'escape' without any guards being hurt. But they would NEVER use such underhanded means to free innocent prisoners, of course. Raesh nodded understandingly and explained that should she and her party vanish without word, she simply wished someone trustworthy to have a suspicion of their whereabouts.

The party had breakfast and headed back to the sawmill, picking up Raesh's armor on the way. While they were there, they picked up a scroll of Trail of the Rose and a pink rose, though Shiro nearly bought every rose in the shop. As soon as she donned it, she smiled openly, worrying Hi. A paladin shining in +1 mithral plate is a sight to behold, and she strode proudly down the street. At the sawmill, they met the town guard and one of Tira's paladins. The guards let them in, and they went upstairs to the ravens. They were worried that the mayor would try to pull some underhanded deed, but the ravens looked the same, did not detect as magic or evil, and the guard stationed with the ravens seemed overly fond of them, or at least of feeding them. He pointed out that his job depended on the ravens staying alive and caged, so he had a vested interest in their health.
They quickly drew a heart on one of the sheets of parchment, attached the 'love note' and the rose to a raven's leg, cast Trail of the Rose, and released it. They watched the raven as it flew due north, then turned east to Underbridge and landed atop a massive clock tower there.
GM Note: I realize that the AP wanted the characters to be able to track the ravens relatively easily, but a DC 20 Perception check to spot a raven in shadow at a distance of around 4000' seems utterly ludicrous. I greatly prefer that my players figured out a way around this, although while writing this I learned that Trail of the Rose is from a Player Companion, and normally would have been disallowed. It was a fantastic idea and it took a lot of time and research on the players' part, so I'm glad I allowed it.

The party raced to Underbridge. As they entered, the world around them changed. Gone were the fine paved streets and washed stone buildings of Magnimar; instead the streets were filled with dirt, filth, beggars, and worse, and the buildings were mere shanties. As they moved toward the clock tower, they heard six girls jumping rope and singing a strange song:
Mumble Mumble Scarecrow,
Alone in the maize.
Sleeping in the daytime,
A stitched man he stays.
But when the moon she rises,
Up Mumble gets.
He shakes his hands at first
And moves his feet the next.
And when the dog is snoring,
And when you're fast asleep,
Mumble Mumble Scarecrow
Will find you good to eat.

GM Note: I noticed that another GM moved this rhyme to the "Walking Scarecrows" section. I heartily agree; the poem makes far less sense here.

The party approached the clock tower and after dismissing the idea of entering directly to the upper floor, decided on a frontal assault.

Final GM Note: I understand that the clock tower is the "big finale" of Module 2, but I'm taken aback by its sheer character-killing ability. The scarecrow's a good fight to eat up the party's healing, but one critical hit and you've got a dead character. Similarly, the bells can easily kill a low-HP character like a wizard or sorcerer who doesn't have Feather Fall prepared. And Xanesha probably would have killed everyone but Raesh if not for some wild swings of luck. But perhaps that's the point -- the frontal assault is meant to be a death trap. But it was after 11 pm, and my players REALLY wanted to finish, so they chose the front door and most of them managed to survive... but Xanesha -- wow!!

The party entered the front door and found a partially-ruined ground floor, with a pile of rubble in one corner, stairs leading up the tower near that corner, and several ruined offices. They searched the room and the offices but found nothing. (A certain Scarecrow crit his Stealth.) As they headed up the stairs, the Scarecrow stood up and swung his scythe at Shiro. In a precursor of things to come, with two surprise attacks, he only hit with one. Halek moved in, raged, and started banging on him. Raesh attacked. Shiro cast Grease on the scythe and the Scarecrow was promptly disarmed. Hi's Elemental Ray missed. (Did I mention the Scarecrow rolled a 1 on his initiative, giving him the magnificent initiative of 0?) In a surge of utter incompetence, the Scarecrow's Power Attacks with his massive fists were utterly useless; he couldn't seem to roll above a 7, and at +10/+10, that wasn't enough to hit either Halek or Raesh, and Hi and Shiro had moved out of range. Hi hit him with an Elemental Ray and learned the bad news that golems are immune to magic, and apparently the Scarecrow was some kind of flesh golem. However, Raesh and Halek managed to beat him down rather quickly, and Shiro moved in to help, so the Scarecrow was soon under 20 hit points and tried to run. The party chased him down and after determining he was a construct, slaughtered him on the front steps, beheading him just to be sure. Then they dragged his body back into the clock tower and closed the door. Halek and Shiro got the small amount of healing they needed, and they headed up the stairs. (Again, Shiro crit his Knowledge: Engineering to recognize the limitations of the stairs, so even those weren't much of a trap. Shiro was on a roll.)

The faceless stalkers above heard the commotion, and prepared the bell trap. Unfortunately, they were due for some incompetence as well. I dutifully rolled to see how many characters I hit, and got a 1. I rolled to see which character, and got another 1: Raesh. I rolled all of 15 damage, and Raesh used her drow abilities to gently Feather Fall to the ground floor. While she was there, she grabbed some timbers to help span the gap in the stairs, and some quick jury-rigging with the spare wood from the basement allowed them to proceed up the stairs.

Why the faceless stalkers decided to make their stand on the stairs in the bell room I'll never know. Shiro Greased the stairs as Hi, Halek, and Raesh peppered them with arrows. Within a couple of rounds one was dead, and the other two had fallen to the bottom of the tower, where the party shot them quite a few more times until they were thoroughly dead. The party kept going up as the stairs wound outside to the outside of the tower, and back in to the rookery. They noted that the stairs continued upwards, or there was a boarded-up door here. They noted that their raven was here, but the note and the rose were gone, and the rosy trail led up the stairs. They tied themselves together with a rope for safety, and kept going up. The party sent a note back by raven to the sawmill indicating that they were at the clock tower and so far things were going well.

At the top of the tower they found a nest of sorts: Above them was an onyx statue of an angel. Across the room was a pile of silks and cushions, along with several chests, the rose, and the crumpled-up note. They used Detect Evil and Detect Magic on the angel, and Detect Magic on the cushions, but did not detect anything beyond some magic in one of the chests. As Raesh, Shiro, and Halek stepped into the room (Hi stayed outside), the floor boiled into smoke and a horned devil burst upwards, bellowing, "How dare you disturb my repose! Prepare to die!"

Raesh invoked Smite Evil on him and shot an arrow. Halek shot two arrows. Hi shot an Elemental Ray. Shiro Greased his barbed chain. Everyone made Perception rolls, and Shiro had the realization that the devil was just an illusion, but it was too late...

Xanesha stepped up from the corner where she'd been hiding invisibly and Power Attacked Halek three times in the back for 63 hit points. As the party turned to face her, they saw that she'd used Mirror Image, and they were facing seven copies of her! Shiro cast Haste for the first time ever, surprising the GM. Halek raged and took his two shots; one destroyed an image and the other hit Xanesha for a whopping 19 points. Xanesha Did Not Approve. She Power Attacked Halek again for another 62 points, sending him to -30-something and instantly killing him. Raesh invoked Smite Evil and started smiting mightily, hitting two more images and getting in one good whack on Xanesha. Hi used Elemental Ray, overcame her spell resistance, but hit yet another image. Shiro stepped up to stab her and missed. It was looking bad. Then visions of Tsuto started dancing in Xanesha's head. In my defense, I have never fudged a fumble for this group. I have no idea why my BBEGs do this. Admittedly, between Halek, Xanesha, and all the sawmill guys I'd been rolling a LOOONG time without a true fumble. So yeah, Xanesha missed Raesh on her first attack, then fumbled on her second. She was blinded for a round. I figure she accidentally knocked her Medusa Mask askew. Raesh's first attack was a critical, but it hit an image. Her second attack and her third attack hit images. Reash snarled in frustration. Hi's first Burning Hands also blew through her SR and damaged her. Shiro's attack did away with her images entirely. For her blinded round, I decided to have her cast defensively and bring up some more Mirror Images to help. I fumbled her defensive casting roll as well, and Raesh and Shiro hit her with their attacks of opportunity. Now that the images were gone, Raesh's smiting started cutting her up like a Christmas turkey. She decided it was time to run, but I had to give Hi his round. He cast Spontaneous Immolation, blew through her SR yet again, she failed her Reflex save, and down she went. Raesh looked at Xanesha's burning, unconscious form and said, "Although she is the mastermind of a group that committed countless murders, and although she is a lamia, known to be evil creatures through and through, we are not duly deputized officers here in Magnimar, and therefore we should bring her back to face the corrupt mayor's justice. But first, let me check on Halek." Realizing that Xanesha was unconscious and would feel no pain, Shiro stood by idly over the dead body of his friend while Raesh did her examination..

Between the speech and the Heal check on Halek, Raesh managed to delay long enough to allow Xanesha to burn to death. Sarenrae really couldn't disapprove. Hi put the Sihedron Medallion on Halek to preserve his corpse. Unfortunately, the GM was still keeping them in combat rounds, so they knew something else was coming.
Sure enough, they heard a clattering coming up the stairs. Hi raced in behind Raesh, who looked down and saw her scryer racing up the stairs, along with a rather-obvious paladin of Sarenrae in full magical plate wielding a scimitar and a massive steel shield. Raesh allowed herself a real smile. "Olytrius! I have something for you!"

She reached into her backpack and presented Olytrius with the map she'd purchased for him in Sandpoint. Olytrius threw back his visor and beamed. "My little Snow Kitten! I was so worried about you! When we received word that Nemar was dead and you were off investigating a goblin uprising, I packed and headed here as quickly as I could! I'm afraid Gregory didn't quite agree with my decision; I've heard that I'm no longer a paladin of Absalom. Oh, and this is Fernando. I'm afraid I had no idea how to find you, and I knew that some of the Slave Liberation Army had just been captured and happened to have a wizard who wouldn't use offensive magic against the guards, so I 'borrowed' him from the prison. Fernando agreed to scry for me in exchange for my freeing him far enough from Absalom that he could resume a more 'restful' lifestyle. I'm afraid he's all done revolting."
Fernando looked at Raesh a bit worriedly, "What did you do to me when I was scrying you?" Raesh looked mysterious and did not answer.

Shiro and Hi did their absolute utmost not to lose it entirely on hearing "Snow Kitten", but couldn't help but snicker. Shiro made a mental note to NEVER call Raesh by Olytrius' pet name for her. He also realized that being allowed the use of the shortened name Raesh in their private discussions might not be quite as big a deal as he thought it was.
Raesh glowered at Olytrius. "That is NOT what you called me."
Olytrius laughed and hugged her anyway. "Oh, Snow Leopard. How I've missed you! Show her, Fernando!"
Fernando sighed, reached into his pack, and pulled out the snow leopard toy Raesh had made for Olytrius on their parting.

The expanded party searched Xanesha's lair, and in addition to tens of thousands of coins, several magic items, some potions, and her gear, they found a note from Xanesha's 'sister' indicating that the lord mayor had been on Xanesha's 'hit list', and that her sister was in a town called Turtleback Ferry and planning on taking over Fort Rannick. A quick Knowledge: Geography roll was all it took to know that this was a frontier outpost critical to Magnimar's defenses. The party stuffed Halek's body and the loot into the bag of holding. Fernando had several Fly spells still queued up, and everyone except Raesh accepted his offer to fly down the tower. Raesh chose to levitate herself down. Olytrius beamed. "Learned some new tricks while you were away, I see! I kept telling Gregory you needed to get out! Saved a whole town! Killed a lamia! You are making Sarenrae proud!"

If Raesh blushed at all, no one noticed.
The party had little difficulty returning to the temple of Iomedae and reporting. Raesh personally paid for a room for Olytrius at the Blue Bunyip.

We need to clean up the aftermath a bit, so we'll stop there.

--- End of Session ---
Next Scheduled Game: Friday, October 19, although that's going to be a short-ish (4 hour) session just doing between-module roleplaying stuff.

Grand Lodge

Great read! I am so glad I am not the only GM that gets irratated by the overly clever actions of a party. :)



LOL. It's not so much overly-clever parties; it's when I follow the as-written tactics of an enemy and he turns into a buffoon because of it.

In our CotCT campaign, my wife turned the Temple of Urgathoa into a killing field by carefully choosing her path and making sure no one escaped any of the combats to spread the alarm, going so far as to have the wizard summon an octopus onto a fleeing bad guy. I had no issues with that. It was pretty epic. As was this party's handling of the ghouls on the farm.

But Ironbriar? You hit for 1d6+1+1d6 in melee and you're seriously going to 'let [your] cultists handle the intruders'? He needed to totally skip all of his buffs and just be out there with the cultists shooting his poisoned hand crossbow and/or hoping for a lucky Suggestion or Hold Person on Halek. Ah, well, live and learn. Next caster's not going to hide in a back room buffing as the only troops that'll keep him from becoming sushi die off outside. He was just out-and-out embarrassing because he spent so much time buffing that his troops were all dead before he was even in the fight, and an 8th-level cleric/rogue going hand-to-hand with a 7th-level paladin and barbarian just ain't right.

I liked Xanesha's tactics a lot better, even if they did kill Halek: Get in a massive first shot, follow through, and then cast defensively to keep those Mirror Images up as you slaughter the party members one-by-one.
Or just fumble, blind yourself, and fumble your defensive casting roll for an encore...

Grand Lodge

Yeah. Ironbriar was not a tough encounter. Xenesha totally made up for it though.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

22-Oct-2012 Game

Y'know, you hand your players a 12th-level paladin and they suddenly decide the world just isn't that scary a place...
Lots of juicy roleplaying over a 5-hour session, but very little action, and none that lasted more than a round.

However, I am happy to report that a Silver Tsuto Award was earned on the very first attack of the evening: Not only was a pack of ghouls foolish enough to attack a party with two high-level paladins, but the first ghoul decided that his neighbor looked far tastier than Shiro and bit him viciously, causing him to miss as well. (How else do you explain rolls of 1, 1, 5, 1, 20 for the first two ghouls?)

Anyway, on with the story:
30-Lamasht-4707 (continued from last game)

Raesh, Shiro, Hi, Olytrius, and Fernando left the clock tower, with Halek's body and most of the loot from Xanesha in their bag of holding. Unsurprisingly, none of the local toughs were willing to take on a pair of paladins in mithral plate mail, so the party had no issues getting to the temple of Iomedae. Raesh was a bit irritated when all the guards on duty noticed them, looked alarmed, drew their swords, and offered a salute. "We don't have time for that! We need to talk to Tira as soon as possible!"
The party was taken to Tira immediately. She turned to Olytrius and asked, "What may I do for you, your Lordship?"
Olytrius laughed and pointed out that Raesh was their leader, and he was only along for the ride. Raesh explained that Halek had fallen in battle, and they needed him raised. Tira apologized that she could not perform the service for free, but would give her as much of a discount as possible (only 5225 for Raise Dead and 1140 for each of the Restorations it would take to bring Halek back to 'normal'). Raesh continued to be irritated. "Of course we'll pay for the resurrection!"

Tira sent for a cleric who could perform the spell, and as he prepared his ingredients, the party explained to Tira everything that had happened in the clock tower. Tira thanked them profusely for taking care of the lamia, and warned them that she would have to report the incident to the town guard and the mayor; lamias are notoriously good at swaying men's minds, and it was quite possible that Justice Ironbriar had been controlled. The spell was finally ready, and the party watched as the cleric cast Raise Dead.
GM Note: If you're going to try to build tension by rolling dice for no reason, make sure they're behind the GM screen! I told the group, "Now we need to find out whether Halek is willing to return," rolled a die, and got a 1. D'oh! Fortunately, Raise Dead doesn't require a roll, so I could ignore it safely, but it would have been a bit embarrassing to have done that in the open.
Halek woke up. "Where am I?"
As Raesh tried to explain to Halek through his confusion that he was safe and the fight was won, she and Olytrius used Lay on Hands to raise his hit points, while the attending cleric cast the first Restoration. Although they got Halek to full hit points, he was still exhausted, and the cleric explained that Halek would have to rest and recuperate for a week, after which they could cast the second Restoration. Halek fell asleep during the explanation, and the party carried him to a cell in the temple. Raesh pointed out that she'd learned from Bethana that barbarians prefer to sleep on the hard floor when they are recovering, and, after a spectacularly bad roll from the acolytes, everyone concurred and they placed Halek carefully on the cold stone floor.

Once Halek was taken care of for the evening, Olytrius indicated that he and Fernando needed to speak with Tira in private. The party waited outside for a few minutes, and Olytrius alone joined them on their way to the Blue Bunyip. They asked about Fernando, and Olytrius explained. "As you know, slavery is legal in Absalom, so the major churches look the other way. Fernando is not so pragmatic; he decided to dedicate his not-inconsiderable talents to freeing the slaves. Unfortunately, Fernando is also an incorrigible idealist; he refused to use any magic that might harm the guards, even if by accident. Needless to say, he was captured rather easily. I argued for quite a while with Gregory to get him released, but Gregory refused to get involved. When we received the news of Nemar's 'incident' and Gregory refused to let me go, I figured I'd need a good scrying wizard to track you down, so I kind of 'pardoned' Fernando and took him with me, on the promise that I would help him establish himself somewhere far away from Absalom where he could rebuild his life. I asked Tira if she could possibly help get him set up at the academy in Korvosa. She said she'd do her best, so tomorrow he'll be setting off."
They finally asked an acolyte about translating Ironbriar's journal, and he recommended Harvel Wilker at the Stone of Seers in the Keystone district, as he didn't trust Almya Gorangal over at the Pathfinder society.

The party had quite a bit of time before dinner, so they took care of some business: They shopped for various magic items such as +2 cloth armor and Bracers of Armor +1 for Hi, similar bracers for Shiro, and Boots of Striding and Springing for Raesh. Raesh also ordered two custom-made gold bracelets worth 100 gp each for use in casting Sacred Bond.
GM Note: I just noticed the restriction in the book on the bracers not stacking with anything else. The nice thing about being a non-PFS GM is that you get to completely ignore such silly rules. I'm sure someone abused the bracers at some point in the past to make that rule, but I'm not going to go nuts about +1 AC on a sorcerer.
Hi searched far and wide for something for Rilka, finally deciding on a tiger eye hair comb with carved dragonflies. Shiro expressed concern that the shopkeep had had exactly the item Hi was looking for sitting right there on the shelf, but the shopkeep spun a wonderful tale about Vudran treasure-hunters being attacked by a tiger near a pond, and finding the vein of tiger eye near the site of the attack, hence carving it to match the dragonflies that fluttered around the pond. Shiro knew a cock-and-bull story when he heard one, but he decided to let the shopkeep sell Hi the item anyway, since it really was a nice comb.
Finally, Shiro and Hi thought of their own travels, and thought it would be wise to send notes to their loved ones in Sandpoint. Hi dashed off a letter to Rilka describing his adventures and assuring her he was OK, and Shiro sent a short letter to Ameiko. Once the letters were sent, Shiro, Hi, Raesh, and Olytrius headed for the Blue Bunyip. Raesh wouldn't hear of Olytrius staying at the temple of Iomedae, and promptly secured him a room on the same level as the rest of the party. Kousei was performing that night. Raesh went up to change into her leathers, drawing a raised eyebrow from Olytrius, and then the party sat around the table, listening to Kousei perform, as Olytrius asked to hear the entire tale of their adventures. (There was quite the entertaining discussion of what he would/could drink, which he solved by going to the bar and grabbing a mug of ale.) They asked him what he planned to do, now that he no longer had a temple to call home, and he smiled and said, "Oh, I'm going to follow you guys around for a while, of course!" Once Kousei was done performing, everyone retired to their rooms for the evening.


If Raesh was at all surprised when she and Olytrius opened their doors simultaneously, she didn't show it. They went to the temple of Iomedae to perform their devotions, and Raesh was pleased to see that Halek was up and trying to exercise, though he was moving very gingerly, as if sorely wounded or concerned about overextending himself after his recent bout with death. All three of them returned to the Blue Bunyip to meet Shiro and Hi for breakfast.

Their first order of business was to head over to the Stone of Seers, where a quick request for translation brought out Harvel. They told him that they wanted him to keep the translation absolutely secret, so he doubled his normal price and charged them 300 gp for the translation. Shiro paid in full, and said, "There will be a tip in it for you if you finish early." Harvel told them he'd deliver the translated journal in 3 days, doing all his work in a scry-proof room. (Little did the characters know, as soon as they walked out the door I made his skill check and he rolled a natural 20, so the translation got done in a wee bit less time than expected...)

The rest of the day was spent planning a 'Welcome Back' party for Halek, capped by Hi rolling his Knowledge: Local to find some local Shoanti establishments, and a whopping 22 untrained Diplomacy roll (19 + 3 for CHA) to find the Shoanti deli. They ordered many unidentifiable foodstuffs, along with several that were all-too-identifiable as dead animals nailed to the wall and for sale, plus a small furry creature (a guinea pig) filled with Halek's favorite alcoholic beverage (no goat for him!). Raesh picked up her bracelets, and Hi and Shiro rented a private room in a small tavern on the Street of Taverns in the Capital District for Halek's party. Shiro asked to train a bit with Olytrius, and a natural 20 was enough for Shiro to recognize many of Raesh's moves in Olytrius. When Shiro commented, Olytrius pointed out that she'd trained him as well, and had a reputation for wanting to turn all cadets into drow -- no one escaped unless they were black-and-blue over every square inch of their body. Unfortunately for Shiro, Olytrius also rolled a natural 20, so Shiro didn't manage to outduel Olytrius during their training. That evening, they had the party, and a good time was had by all. Halek sipped very gingerly at his guinea pig, obviously not wanting to overextend himself in any other way, either.


The party decided they wanted to show Olytrius around Sandpoint, and Hi and Shiro both wanted to bid their farewells to their respective sweethearts before leaving on an extended journey, so they saddled up their horses and headed out along the coast. Before they left, Shiro picked up three packages of imported Minkai tea for Ameiko. The day was uneventful; as if the GM never rolled under a 16 on his random encounter rolls. They arrived at the inn midway between Sandpoint and Magnimar (I really should name that place), but Shiro assured them they didn't have to stay there! He cast his newly-learned Tiny Hut spell to provide shelter for the party. Far better to sleep on bedrolls in a magic hut instead of on proper beds in an inn!


The party arrived in Sandpoint in the late afternoon to cries of, "The heroes of Sandpoint have returned!" They asked Ameiko to prepare a feast, and Hi promptly vanished with Rilka until dinner. Halek went to the Goblin Squash stables and started socializing with Verinder. Cyrdick(?) came running out to meet Shiro, and begged him to perform that evening as his recent revenues had been less than stellar and could use a boost. Shiro graciously acquiesced. Mayor Deverin and Sheriff Hemlock came out to meet with Raesh and Shiro and discuss recent activity, and Olytrius stayed with Raesh. Sheriff Hemlock told them about recent events: A creature disguised as Halek had attacked Percy Buttonwillow, but a trio of adventurers (two elves and a snake-like man) had helped kill the creature. Sheriff Hemlock offered to let the group examine the body, and they confirmed that it was a faceless stalker. An epic series of blundered Heal checks later, they had no idea what had killed the stalker, but Shiro surmised that Buttonwillow was full of greed, so the stalker had been sent to Sandpoint to perform the Sihedron ritual on him, and was trying to frame Halek for the murder, as he would have been the most likely member of the group to do such a thing. They shrugged, dismissed it as old news, and asked after the adventurers. They had left for Magnimar two days ago, so the two parties probably just missed each other. Sheriff Hemlock assured them that, other than that single event, the town was quiet, and they were still grateful to the adventurers.

The next stop was the cathedral, where Father Zantus greeted them warmly, They stayed for a short while, but on departing, Olytrius commented to Raesh, "We really do need to get a competent cleric out here one of these days."
GM Note: Raesh's player continually gripes about a piddling 4th-level cleric as the head of the cathedral of six gods, and his constant reactive, rather than proactive, stance. All I can say in his defense is, "If you're a 4th-level cleric in charge of keeping an entire town both physically and spiritually healthy, wouldn't you be a bit cautious with your resources, too?"
Raesh had an inspiration: She took Olytrius to the map store. And just like that, he was gone. He marveled at the charts, drooled over the surveys, and pined for the unfinished sketches. As soon as the shopkeep saw him, they were an inseparable pair. Raesh asked Veznutt to take good care of Olytrius and strolled back to the Rusty Dragon, proud of a job well done.

That evening, Shiro performed at the Sandpoint Theater, giving a grand performance and earning a not insubstantial 24 gp for his efforts. The rest of the group enjoyed the show from Ameiko's box. After the performance, dinner was a spectacular feast. All the heroes' favorite dishes returned, from the curried salmon to the sashimi to dozens of roast chickens, and the crowd spilled outside and filled the street. Ameiko regretted that she had only 3 rooms available, but Hi quickly volunteered to stay with Rilka, and Ameiko invited Shiro to share her room.

Once they were alone, Shiro started his heart-to-heart with Ameiko. He explained to her that he'd met eleven kitsune in Magnimar, and although he wasn't tempted by any of them, he really wanted to know what their relationship meant to Ameiko. Ameiko sighed, smiled wistfully, and caressed Shiro's cheek. "Ah, Shiro. You're a handsome boy. And you're a lot of fun. But you're a boy. And an adventurer. I don't have any plans to marry you. Go. Have fun! See the world! Enjoy yourself! Consider me a friend... with benefits. I hope that doesn't make you sad. I'm sorry if it does. I really enjoy your company and your enthusiasm."
Shiro sighed. "Yes. It makes me a little sad. But I think I can live with it."
"Good," Ameiko responded, "Now what are we going to do with this..." as she pulled out a silk rope.
Shiro's player proceeded to completely change the mood by pantomiming pulling out a little black book and marking, "Sandpoint: Ameiko".


The party sought out Brodert Quink, and for a bit I was ecstatic as they looked like they were going to go on an epic chase for him, but after missing him in his hut and in the catacombs, someone finally realized that he might be in the lighthouse. They indeed found him there, and offered to take him to Thistletop. He asked, "Is it safe?"
The party all looked at Olytrius, rolled their eyes, and said, "Yes."
They had a pleasant-enough stroll to Thistletop, though as they passed the Pauper's Graves a group of seven clearly-deranged ghouls ambushed them. The first ghoul bit the second. The second, clearly distracted, rolled a 1 and quite nearly bit the first one back. Their attacks on Raesh and Olytrius were expectedly hopeless. Ghoul #6 was lucky enough to have Hi as a target, and successfully bit him. Hi graciously failed both saves, and ended up paralyzed and with ghoul fever. Unfortunately, Raesh channeled positive energy, making the ghouls sad. Olytrius followed suit, making every ghoul except the aforementioned ghoul #6 drop. Ghoul #6 was now lonely. Shiro wandered over and relieved the ghoul of his loneliness. Raesh tried to lay on hands twice on Hi to remove the disease, but bad rolling had Raesh's player snarling in frustration. Olytrius tried and, of course, rolled an 18 to cure Hi on his first try.

As they neared Thistletop, they spotted Shalelu in a tree ahead (a 1 Stealth check. Good thing she was found by friends!). Shalelu joined them, Raesh introduced Olytrius, and the now hopelessly-overpowered group approached Thistletop. Shalelu reported that many goblins had tried to re-take Thistletop, and Yippy had eaten more than his share, but she hadn't managed to stop them all, so a few goblins now held the fort. The party passed through the bunny-infested thistle tunnels, checked on a now-morbidly-obese Yippy (Raesh added, "Aw, who's a good bunyip?"), crossed the bridge, and saw the goblin sentries. Raesh had had enough of goblins. "Surrender now and beg for redemption or die where you stand!"
Remarkably, the goblins rolled well enough to have a lick of sense, and surrendered immediately. Halek and Olytrius bound them and hung them from the bridge, so if they tried to escape they would plummet to their doom. They scoured the fort and the first floor, and were delighted to find that the goblins had managed to fumble their perception checks in the room with the secret door (Yeah, I'd get a new die, but it entertains me. What do you want?), and had painted over the door. The party proceeded to the second floor and started showing Brodert around.

Unfortunately, while Brodert had proved himself quite the expert in the Catacombs of Wrath (nothing under a natural 18), apparently his mastery was over Alaznist's history; he had no clue what to make of anything in Thistletop. He barely rolled well enough to recognize Karzoug, Warlord of Wrath. But he did translate the repeating recorded message for the players, and was ecstatic to explore the whole second level. Then came the shadows. The poor, poor deluded shadows. Who were more than a match for a group of second-level PCs. Who rolled an 18 (+12=30 Stealth) while hiding from those poor poor second-level PCs. Their Stealth rolls this time were 3, 4, and 7. Raesh rolled a 19. Olytrius rolled a natural 20. Raesh channeled positive energy. The only thing that ever went right for the shadows again was her natural 3 on 3d6. Then Olytrius rolled 28 on his 6d6. The shadows were gone. Brodert was good enough to identify the tombs in the shadow room as belonging to the original architects of Thistletop; they were supposed to have volunteered for death, but the shadows indicated that maybe some of them hadn't quite been ready. Shalelu spotted a secret door in the back of one of the sarcophagi, and the party explored the rest of the second level. It turned out to be two passages leading to two flights of stairs that now led to the same tide pool, at the bottom of which was some gold, some magic items, and a giant 5' helm that appeared to be made of gold, and that watched any light that approached the water. A quick Dancing Lights spell in the water was enough to lure the giant hermit crab that was living in the helm to attack it.

The party entered a Great Debate: Was it OK to kill the crab? It was just a harmless animal like Yippy, and they weren't about to go around killing Yippies, but if they didn't kill it, Brodert would likely get himself killed by it while trying to fish antiques out of the pool. They decided to try to lure the crab away from the pool using Dancing Lights, and if that failed, they'd kill it. It failed. They killed it. (Olytrius just HAD to show off by rolling a quadruple critical against a poor defenseless crab, Halek, clearly still disconcerted by his recent death, fumbled and sent his earthbreaker skidding into the pool..) They searched the pool, retrieving the earthbreaker and grabbing the loot, and Raesh Levitated the helm, making it easy to push all the way up two levels, out the door, and across the bridge. Much to Shalelu's amusement (she had been quite displeased that they let the goblins live), the party put all the loot in the helm, tied the goblins together, and had them carry the helm and the loot back to Sandpoint. As they walked, they told Shalelu that they would be heading off to a place called Turtleback Ferry soon. Shalelu expressed surprise, and asked to travel with the party there. (I'm leaving it to Raesh's player to explain to the rest of the party why).

Raesh took a moment to apologize to Shalelu if the goblins' presence made her uncomfortable. She explained that where she came from, Drow were treated as vermin and exterminated on sight, and if it had not been for the faith of the paladin Icobar, Raesh herself would have been slain as an infant. With such a background, she felt it behooved her particularly to offer the light of Sarenrae to those who were capable of receiving it, although she was not gullible enough to suppose that every creature who claimed to seek redemption actually meant to do so, which was why she insisted the goblins be appropriately tried. Shalelu nodded. She understood Raesh's convictions, and even admired Raesh for her compassion, even though she herself still considered goblins to be destestable, irredeemable scum. Shalelu took her leave at the town border, inviting Raesh to come out and spend a few nights patrolling with her, if she was so inclined.

The trial of the goblins was short and brutal: Each goblin was questioned as to crimes it had committed against humans. Being staked to the ground among goblin-hating warhorses made the goblins very chatty. As long as the horses did not actually touch the goblins, Olytrius and Raesh decided it was acceptable. Unfortunately, every single goblin was guilty of at least one murder, attack, stabbing, or animal mauling. And not a single goblin was sincere about redemption by Sarenrae's light. (I was REALLY disappointed -- I was rolling for each goblin in turn and really hoping Raesh was going to get a goblin follower, but I was rolling in the open and my die just refused to give me the 1 I was looking for.) Most of the goblins were executed for murder or attempted murder. Two of them were put up in the garrison. Seeing justice served, the party retired to the Rusty Dragon for the evening.

end of session

Next Game: 26-October-2012 (Already played. Coming on Tuesday, I hope)

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26-Oct-2012 Game

This was a surprisingly uneventful game, with the exception of a near-TPK by a group of harpies that are FAR nastier than their CR indicates. Fortunately, the party went from 'doomed' to 'laughing at the pathetic harpies' in under a round, so we'll just get started. There was no Silver Tsuto Award this session, and my die finally decided to give up on rolling under a 10 once the party was wandering Varisia, so I got to use only one of the cool random encounters I'd rolled up for them...

3-Neth-4707 (Continued from last session)

Before retiring for the evening, the group decided that they wanted to show Olytrius some of the local 'color', so they took him to the Hagfish. After Hi's spectacular performance, plus the lure of a platinum piece to start the pot, dozens of hagfish hopefuls had tried and failed to add their names to the ceiling, and Jargie Quinn had had to nail up a second pouch just to hold the extra silver. As they walked in, a would-be hero fumbled his save, and Olytrius rushed over and performed first aid to save the man's life, though his dignity was a lost cause. In spite of Hi and Shiro's urgings, Olytrius wouldn't even try to drink from Norah's tank. However, Shiro decided that after the lich fungus, how bad could hagfish water be? Another failed Fortitude save later, he knew that even his taste for the exotic couldn't manage Norah's slime. Fortunately, he rolled well enough to keep down his lunch. The party spent a relaxing evening at the Hagfish, watching would-be hopefuls try and fail to obtain the bulging bags of silver.


The party decided it was time to head back to Magnimar, get Halek his second Restoration, get the journal translation, and head for Turtleback Ferry. They decided they'd better fly the banner to let Shalelu know they were going. She showed up within 5 minutes, and surprised them all by asking whether she could accompany them to Magnimar. They promptly agreed, and decided they'd need more horses. To their utter astonishment, Daviren Hosk gifted them with the two extra horses they needed. He pointed out that he'd been selling "Shoanti-trained steeds" for weeks, and had made a tidy profit from Halek's pastime, and Halek hadn't once asked for payment for his services, so he was feeling kind of guilty about the whole thing. The party didn't argue. Hi made his tearful farewell to Rilka, promising to write, and Shiro made his goodbyes with Ameiko. The group also bid farewell to their other friends in Sandpoint, and set off for Magnimar. It was clear that Shalelu had rarely if ever ridden before, and Shiro pondered offering to let her ride with him, but finally thought better of it. Shalelu tried to start up a conversation with Raesh in Elven, but Raesh preferred that they speak in a language the entire party could understand.

By the time they reached Foxglove Manor, a light rain was falling. They were surprised to see the two paladins and the cleric from the temple of Iomedae still there, apparently at a loss. The cleric explained that though they had been prepared for the haunts, the giant undead bat in the cellar was proving too much for them. The party dutifully headed down the stairs. As they entered the basement, they realized the problem: All three members of the party from Magnimar were human, and couldn't see the bat coming before it reached them. Raesh solved the problem by shooting the living daylights out of the bat before it was anywhere near the party. It made a desperate attempt to attack Olytrius, of all people, and Raesh and Halek killed it while it was over his head, spreading undead entrails all over the shiny paladin. Olytrius Did Not Approve, but Shiro used Prestidigitation to clean him up, and they proceeded to the room with the fungal lich. The lich's final efforts were totally ineffectual against a group with so many paladins in it, and a quick Dispel Evil did away with the lich. Hi finished it off with Spontaneous Immolation. Shiro did not eat the fungus this time.
The Iomedaean group joined the party on their way to Magnimar, and the paladins started quizzing Raesh about how she could see in the dark. She tried to explain that all drow could, but the thick-headed paladins were convinced that she was an oddly-colored or strangely-tattooed elf. Raesh was frustrated by the entire conversation, though Olytrius found the whole thing far too amusing for Raesh's tastes. They spent the night at the Midway Inn, though Shalelu insisted on staying outside and sleeping in the dirt and rain. Raesh found this behavior beyond strange, but didn't argue.


The group arrived in Magnimar. Shalelu set up camp outside the walls. Shiro asked her whether she would be OK in the rain and the woods, and whether she would need protection. She rolled her eyes and assured him she could manage to survive in the rain and the woods just outside of a major city. The party's first stop was the temple of Iomedae to check in with Tira to let her know her paladins were on their way. Their next stop was the Stone of Seers. As soon as they arrived, Harvel quickly showed them back to a scry-proof room. "Do you know what you've found?"
He gave them the translated copy of the journal. It was a history of murder, torture, and recruitment. Not only did it detail many of the Skinsaw murders and sacrifices, it showed that Justice Ironbriar had been the head of the Skinsaw cult in Magnimar for decades, reporting only to a mysterious entity known as the Forever Man. It described him meeting "Lovely Xanesha" and learning a new "wonderful" method of murder, and also has an entry on receiving payment from the assassins' organization known as the Red Mantis for "Vorel's Legacy". Harvel pointed out that this information would be a horrific scandal, would send Ironbriar to the gallows, and would be severely politically damaging to the mayor. The party assured him they would report all of his findings to the mayor, and keep Harvel's name out of it. Harvel was visibly relieved, and showed them out.
They promptly went to the temple of Iomedae and let Tira read the journal so she would know what was happening. While there, they were approached by another of the mayor's pages, asking them to come to him as soon as possible. So summoned, they went immediately to the Blue Bunyip to secure their rooms for the evening. The concierge was more than happy to oblige, and if a few guests ended up getting shifted around as a result of their arrival, they were none the wiser for it.

After spending an appropriately-long time relaxing at the Blue Bunyip, they finally decided they'd go see the mayor. Once again, they had to turn in their weapons at the gate, with the notable exception of Olytrius, who was allowed to keep his gear. Shiro rolled his eyes. "Of course HE gets to keep his stuff!"
The mayor was dining on what appeared to be an entire roast lamb, baked apples, potatoes, and a bottle of wine. He welcomed the party in, and thanked them for dealing with Xanesha for him. Without any fanfare, Raesh handed him the translation of Ironbriar's journal. His face visibly paled. He asked who knew about the translation, and they told him that only the translator and Tira knew, but they were bound not to divulge the translator's name.
"Good, good. That's fine. I'd recognize Harvel's writing anywhere, and the man knows how to keep a secret. As for Tira, she's a trustworthy sort. She may not approve of everything I do, but she knows I'll do it better than anyone who replaces me. Now, I hope you understand; from the evidence in this journal, Ironbriar has to die. But for the details of this to get out would be political suicide for me -- a justice in my own government head of the Skinsaw cult? I'd be ousted within the week! So I have to trust in your discretion not to tell anyone else about this, and not to question the method of Ironbriar's 'execution'. He's obviously guilty of murder, and he's going to get a trial, and he's going to die. The trial just might not present the evidence as you know it, if you know what I mean. Now, I like you, and I'd like to trust you, but I'd like to see you go on a trip for a while until the furor over Ironbriar's trial dies down. And I have just the work for you. This piddling little town called Turtleback Ferry has been complaining that the nearby fort, Fort Rannick, has gone quiet on them. Now, I don't care that much for the Black Arrows, the men who man Fort Rannick, as they're a little too independent for my tastes. But it seems like I can kill two birds with one stone, as it were. I'll pay you 750 gold each to go to Turtleback Ferry and figure out what's going on with Fort Rannick, and you'll be out of town for the trial and the furor, and won't accidentally let anything politically damaging spill. How does that sound to you?"

Raesh stared the mayor straight in the eye. "I will not work for you."
"What's that? You won't take the job? Don't you realize that this means I'll have to send younger, less-experienced adventurers in your place? You might be dooming some group just because of some personal dislike. I work with people I don't like all the time. It's part of the political process, as it were."
"I told you before. I will not work for you."
The mayor and Raesh were at an impasse, and so the party took its leave, not taking the job. They were allowed to leave, and went back to the Blue Bunyip, where Kousei was performing. After a while, Raesh told Shiro she had something for him, and took him outside. They strolled away from the Blue Bunyip for a few hundred yards, then Raesh put her hand on Shiro's shoulder and cast Darkvision on him.
What wonder! Shiro finally knew what it was like to see like Raesh did! He looked around! He closed his eyes and looked at the backs of his eyelids! He looked in corners to see what the shadows looked like! He looked into the windows of darkened buildings to see... whatever was in them! Shiro spent the next hour exploring Magnimar with Raesh seeing in the dark. He was ecstatic.

The party retired for the evening.


The party spent a fairly relaxing day in Magnimar. In the morning, they went shopping in Dockway, picking up a wand of Grease. Shiro mysteriously bought two scrolls of Shape Change, but wouldn't explain what they were for. Once the afternoon rolled around, it was finally time to take Halek to the temple and get him fully restored. With Halek restored, they had another celebratory meal at the Blue Bunyip and prepared for their trip to Turtleback Ferry.


The party set off for Turtleback Ferry in dreary, wet weather. The weather got no better for most of the trip, but apparently the rain kept the random encounters away. After a day's travel, even Shalelu moved into the Tiny Hut, welcoming some warmth and dryness after days in the rain. Very few notable events occurred. One night, a pair of mites investigated Shiro's Tiny Hut, but it frightened them off even before Raesh implemented Hi's plan of grabbing one of them and yanking him inside the hut to terrorize the other. As they traveled through the Sanos forest, gnomes made it clear that they were being watched, but Hi and the rest of the party waved merrily at them and they waved back and gave the party no troubles.


As Raesh and Olytrius finished their morning devotions (in the rain), Olytrius suddenly looked distracted and started muttering to himself. A few minutes later, he woke the party. "Everyone wake up! We're going to have company in just under an hour!"
Raesh asked the question on everyone's mind. "Friendly or unfriendly?"
"Well, neither, if you ask me, but I guess it depends on who you are."
Olytrius went on to explain: Gregory had died of mysterious causes the previous evening; they suspected either poison or disease, but they could neither Resurrect him nor Speak to him. The council held an emergency council and for the first time in a century unanimously elected a new leader.
"Congratulations," Hi interjected.
"Thanks, but I don't think congratulations are in order. They're looking for someone relatively independent of the temple to investigate Gregory's murder, and I'm their #1 candidate. So I'm stuck at a desk job investigating the murder of my predecessor, all the while wondering whether they're going to come after me. Not a job I covet. Heck, I wouldn't even covet the job if I came by it naturally. But duty is duty, and I'm afraid I have to go."

Shiro nearly exploded. "No, no! You must still have just a few minutes! I need you to try something! I need you to be a little fox for a while, to see what it's like! I have the scrolls and everything, and it'll only take a few minutes!"
Shiro begged and pleaded, but Olytrius would not be swayed to risk himself in such a manner. Shalelu on the other hand volunteered to take his place immediately. With both Shiro and Shalelu pressuring her, Raesh agreed to be a fox for a few minutes. Shiro cast the spells, and then shifted into fox form. Shalelu immediately started cavorting among the trees, smelling things, yipping, and having a grand time. Raesh stood still and growled at everyone. Shiro watched. Shalelu ran up and nipped Raesh playfully. Raesh growled more. Shalelu rolled onto her back, rolled up again, and nipped Raesh again. This was too much for Raesh, and she finally pounced on Shalelu, and the two of them went tumbling through the brush as everyone watched and enjoyed the show. A few minutes later, they were Elven again. Raesh carefully dressed behind a tree, while Shalelu had no issues dressing in front of the group, which was greatly appreciated by all.

Just under an hour later, two clerics, two paladins, and a wizard teleported into their campsite. The clerics adorned Olytrius with his holy symbols, and declared him Lord High Paladin of the Temple of Sarenrae in Absolam. As soon as he was so anointed, he approached each party member in turn.

"Shiro. You're a good kid, with a good heart. Keep your optimism. Keep your spirit. And stay away from angry dwarves!"
"Hi. You are a gnome among gnomes. Just be careful to burn only the things you intend to burn. And even then, be careful."
"Halek. You are a mighty warrior, though you say very little. Stay true to your little band, and do great things."
"Shalelu. We have only known each other a short time, but I have faith that you will guide my friends true. It was a pleasure meeting you."
"...and Raesh, my little Snow Leopard! And I can get away with calling you that now, because I'm the Lord High Paladin! Nyah!"
Raesh rolled her eyes.
"Here are my orders: Continue with your investigations. Follow them to their conclusions. Stay with your friends, and do not return to Absalom until you are absolutely sure it is what you want to do. Are those orders clear enough to you?"
"Yes, your Grace."
"Then I have to leave you again, little Snow Leopard. Don't stay away too long! I'll miss you!"
Raesh replied, "Olytrius, I am sad for you, but happy for the temple. I am pleased that you are cognizant of your duty so that I do not have to beat you in order to make you accept your position. There could not be a better choice for Lord High Paladin."
Olytrius pushed down on Raesh's shoulders and stood on his tippy-toes so he could kiss the top of her head. It was totally undignified (for both of them), but Raesh allowed it. Olytrius joined the rest of the group from Absalom with the wizard and with that, they teleported away.

The party spent the rest of the morning riding through the drizzle. By mid-afternoon, they knew they were getting close to Turtleback Ferry. A haunting song came over the wind... and every single party member save Halek failed their Will saves!
GM Note: At this point Shiro's player insisted on casting Gallant Inspiration to help his own save. There's nothing in RAW to disallow it, so I allowed it, but if a bard in your party takes Gallant Inspiration, definitely talk with them about when it can and can't be used. It's a really powerful spell, as we'll see in a moment...
Shiro and Halek were smart enough to mimic the rest of the party, dismount, and walk towards the source of the singing. There, about 200' ahead, were five harpies, one of whom was singing a haunting melody that had most of the party enthralled. As they came into bow range, Halek whipped out his composite longbow and shot the singer. And that would have been the end of the party had the other four started singing and Shiro not used Gallant Inspiration.
GM Note: Seriously. Read their song some time. No new saves as long as they keep singing, and no time limit on the song. The party would have walked up and gotten coup de graced in a horrifically stupid ending. So I guess I'm not TOO mad about the Gallant Inspiration after all.
Instead, Shiro Countersonged to the tune of a 25 Will save, and the harpy's spell was over. Then came Hi.
Hi cast his first Fireball spell ever. And rolled 8 dice. And got a two, two fives, and the rest sixes. There, sitting in the middle of the table, was a 42-point 8d6 fireball. Scorched feathers exploded across the landscape. Two of the five harpies out-and-out dropped. Raesh, Halek, and Shalelu opened up with some composite longbow pain. Halek crit one, Shalelu dropped the second, and the third fled as fast as its smoldering wings could carry it. Raesh crit it from a spectacular distance (something like 200') and dropped it.

As Raesh stepped up to kill the fallen harpies (no mercy this time), she noticed that the scimitar she pulled out was not her own. A note tumbled to the ground from her scabbard. She read it and muttered aloud, "Olytrius, you're a rank sentimentalist."
She didn't share the note with the party (I'll post it when she does), but the sword itself was magnificent. It reeked of magic, and had "Olytrius" in Elven on one side, and "Olytrius" in Dwarven on the other. Hi rolled a straight-up 30 on his Spellcraft to identify the sword, and (though I didn't give it to them at the time) realized that they were now the proud owners of a +2 keen holy scimitar! Who says that giving away cartloads of treasure to NPCs is a bad thing? It just lets the GM do the shopping for them!

The rest of the day was uneventful, and the party camped in yet another sodden field on yet another rainy evening.


The party arrived in Turtleback Ferry, and we'll stop there, because I didn't have the town well-prepared, so there were lots of inconsistencies such as, "Where do the ferries actually go?" I'll clean that up in the next write-up.

*** End of Session ***

Next Game: Friday, November 2, 2012.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Some quick notes about harpy song: It's a standard action for the harpy to maintain the song, and it ends one round after the harpy stops maintaining it, so a single harpy cannot coup de grace a whole party. Of course, with multiple harpies and poor will saves, they can present a very credible threat.

I'm glad the party didn't meet such an ignoble end though. Still enjoying reading about your group. My own has just finished up RotRL1, and is about to visit the first murder scene.

ubiquitous wrote:

Some quick notes about harpy song: It's a standard action for the harpy to maintain the song, and it ends one round after the harpy stops maintaining it, so a single harpy cannot coup de grace a whole party. Of course, with multiple harpies and poor will saves, they can present a very credible threat.

I'm glad the party didn't meet such an ignoble end though. Still enjoying reading about your group. My own has just finished up RotRL1, and is about to visit the first murder scene.

Well, that was the issue with having five of the things -- the very first one started singing and we got a series of really bad rolls (seriously -- a 7th-level paladin failing a Will save? What's wrong with this picture?), so the other four harpies were free to move in and start coup de gracing. It was 'uncomfortable'.

Speaking of uncomfortable, I did just find out from another thread (and Hero Labs) that my supposed 24,000 g.p. 'gift' was actually worth 72,000 g.p. Oops! On the other hand, with Olytrius' note Raesh is kind of stuck with that sword for the next 900 years or so, so she'll eventually level into it... :-P

And thanks for posting -- I really appreciate knowing that people are still reading. I'm going to have to put warnings all over the Hook Mountain Massacre posts, but I'll just resurrect the spoiler tags and put "Not for the squeamish." Yeah, I'm going to play it full-tilt. Should be gruesome. But it'll give Raesh a place to put that sword...

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

NobodysHome wrote:

Well, that was the issue with having five of the things -- the very first one started singing and we got a series of really bad rolls (seriously -- a 7th-level paladin failing a Will save? What's wrong with this picture?), so the other four harpies were free to move in and start coup de gracing. It was 'uncomfortable'.

I'm pretty sure the other harpies are not able to attempt coup de grace actions. They can certainly attack captivated creatures, but it states that captivated creatures can take no actions other to defend themselves (so they're not "helpless"), and they only offer no resistance ("helpless") to the harpy that has them captivated when within 5' of her.

NobodysHome wrote:

And thanks for posting -- I really appreciate knowing that people are still reading.

No problem. I really enjoy the level of verisimilitude in your game: you and your players do an excellent job of making it feel like they're actual characters in a living world. Gives me lots of ideas as to how to develop my own game, and something to aspire towards. Keep up the awesome work.

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Why I love the messageboards -- you're right; the affected PCs are only helpless against the singing harpy. Still, would have been embarrassing to have another resurrection so soon after the last one.

And as I said, it's really hard to take too much credit. When I started our Kingmaker campaign, Raesh and Shiro's players conned me into running a private session for them and Hi's player, just so Shiro's player 'could learn the rules'. The four of us just 'clicked'; I was making stuff up as we went along and it was still an awesome session. Raesh and Shiro's players then conspired to get me to run the RotRL AE just for that particular group. Wasn't that hard, since I'd already ordered it, and the four of us have pretty free schedules. So it was a set of happy coincidences and lots of conspiring against the GM.

But as I've said on other threads, the 'keys to GMing' that work for me are:

(1) Your job as GM is just to provide the world. The players decide what they're going to do in that world. I learned that from better GMs than I, and it works absolute wonders in most campaigns. (It's REALLY not working in Kingmaker, unfortunately.)

(2) Really get into the NPC's heads. My wife has always complimented me on my ability to play multiple NPCs convincingly. It was a LOT harder with Halek, Shalelu, and Olytrius all in the party, but it's a lot easier with townsfolk who come and go in much shorter time periods.

(3) (And this I take full credit for) If you're going to have random, chaotic creatures, let random, chaotic people (kids) play them. I've noted it on several posts above, but the kids loved being part of the adventure, and watching the players panic not knowing what the heck the goblins were going to do next was awesome! I still LOVE the belly-slide my younger son's goblin attempted across a Grease spell. It didn't work, but it was SO goblin-like!

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Once again posted without Hi's player's feedback. You'd think he had a life or something!

02-Nov-2012 Game

I was really looking forward to playing the Graul homestead over-the-top, with lots of references to inbreeding, cannibalism, and other fun. And I was going to add a lot of spoiler tags to avoid offending anyone. Then my players just killed every Graul and nuked the homestead with very little fanfare (though with Hi around I really do need to get 'Ride of the Valkyrie' as an MP3). But expect "gross-out spoilers" to start appearing as we work our way through Hook Mountain Massacre. I will do my best to be careful about people's sensitivities.

Also in the 'Regrets' column, we have no Silver Tsuto Award winner this week. Unless you count 'taking sheer unadulterated massive damage from a Hasted paladin Smiting Evil with a keen holy sword' as a failure on the poor victim's part, everyone fought fairly well.

And here we go...

14-Neth-4707 (continued from last session)

The party rode in to Turtleback Ferry in the misting rain and immediately noticed the difference from Sandpoint: People noticed them and stared. As they rode up the muddy road, people gathered in the rain to watch them ride by. They arrived in an open market area in what seemed to be the middle of town and were approached by a friendly-looking middle aged human who introduced himself as Maelin Shreed, cleric of Erastil, head priest and mayor of Turtleback Ferry. He asked where they were from, and when they told him they'd arrived from Magnimar he immediately assumed they were there at Mayor Grobaras' request and invited them to the church to talk. The party explained to him that we were not here by Mayor Grobaras' request but rather out of our own wish to help, having heard their plight. The mayor told them of the town's recent troubles: How the Black Arrows from Fort Rannick had stopped their regular visits about a month ago, and the initial party sent to investigate didn't return. When questioned about why they didn't send any further parties, he described how the pleasure boat The Paradise had sunk only a week later, drowning all 25 on board, including the Lady Lucrecia, and that provided a distraction from the missing Black Arrows. With such a great loss of life, they didn't want to risk any more town members, but now hunters and trappers were returning from the Kreegwood with tales of ever-more-dangerous predators stalking the woods, most likely driven south by increased ogre and giant activity to the north. Most hunters now went east into the Ashwood for their hunting, though some few still used the Skull Ferry to get through Bitter Hollow and into the Sanos forest. After a few more questions, the party took its leave of the mayor and headed over to the Turtle's Parlor to secure food and stabling.

When Cesten Orlandi welcomed the guests and told them it would be 5 g.p. per night per person, Raesh's immediate response was, "And what do you REALLY charge?" One massive Intimidate roll later, Cesten admitted that the correct rate per night was 1 g.p. for lodgings, food, and stabling. Raesh relented, and said, "Well, then, for your honest answer we will split the difference, and pay you 3 g.p. per night per person." Cesten's initial fear of the drow immediately transformed into gratitude, and he hastened to get the party settled in their rooms. To the party's surprise, even Shalelu was willing to stay in the inn instead of in the rain. Unfortunately, Turtleback Ferry made Sandpoint look like a bustling metropolis; baths were little more than dipping yourself in a lukewarm washtub. Hi at least fixed the lukewarm part, but the rooms definitely left much to be desired.

Once the party was refreshed, they headed over to the Bottoms Up tavern to have a few drinks and listen for rumors. The locals seemed both welcoming and wary; "Welcome to our town. Now what are you up to again?" Buying a round for the house quickly relaxed everyone, and the adventurers were left to their business. Shiro offered to perform for a while and the proprietors, a halfling couple named Tads and Berthandy Kesker, gratefully accepted. While playing, Shiro cast Detect Magic on the patrons and searched them for signs of the Sihedron Rune. Detect Magic didn't show any magic, and Shiro did not spot any obvious Sihedrons. After an hour or two of performing, Shiro returned to the table and rolled Knowledge (Local) to listen for rumors around the other tables.
GM Note: For this roll, I set the DC at 10 since it's a rumor-mongering village, and for every 5 above the initial roll I gave him another rumor, so he got 4 rumors.
According to the locals, Black Magga, the monster of the Storval Deep, could actually move between the Storval Deep and the other local lakes through some underground passages. Continuing the aquatic theme, one hunter said that a group of fishermen from Pendaka had been eaten by the giant gar nicknamed Pinkeye, who roamed Claybottom lake. The third rumor was that there were strange lights in the Shimmerglens lately. This was worth investigating, so Shiro asked around. As he expected, the people who admitted to seeing the lights were "more like him" in that they were whimsical and more likely to pursue flights of fancy, while those who claimed not to have seen the lights were "more like Raesh" and were very down-to-earth and straightforward. He found that around 20% of the people he surveyed had seen the lights. Finally, they heard an old man saying that he'd seen the leader of the Black Arrows, Lamatar Bayden, coming and going from Whitewillow in the Shimmerglens across the lake. Shiro bought the man a drink and questioned him further, and the man said that he fished along the Willow River delta and so had an excellent view of all the Shimmerglens, and would occasionally see Bayden heading for Whitewillow in the early evening, though he hadn't seen him since the Black Arrows stopped coming. He viewed Bayden with distrust, since nothing good ever came out of the swamps.

After hearing as many rumors as they thought they were going to get for the night, the party retired.


The party woke to another miserable overcast day. They chose to leave their mounts with Cesten and travel the trail by foot. About 3 miles in, they crossed a bridge over the Skull river and Hi announced that he heard a large cat yowling nearby. Investigating, the party traveled around 100' into the woods and spotted a firepelt cougar with its rear paw trapped in a simple wire snare trap. A great deal of discussion ensued, as the party had a bad history with firepelt cougars, and it was quite possible that this was either bait or a creature trapped by a trap a hunter had left behind, but they didn't want to just leave it to suffer and starve. Hi, of all people, kept insisting that he could Elemental Ray the wire and free the cougar without having to approach it, and seemed frustrated by any argument against freeing it RIGHT NOW. Apparently forgiveness (or forgetfulness) is native in gnomes, along with a general lack of caution (but we all knew that). While they were debating the cougar's fate, Raesh heard hounds baying. In fact, with her crit, she heard a low-pitched, dim-sounding voice singing, "Gonna catch me a kitty! Gonna catch me a man! Gonna bake 'em in an oven! Gonna fry 'em in a pan!"
Raesh was unimpressed with the rhyme scheme. She warned the party that the dogs' owner was most likely hostile, as he was singing about baking humans, and therefore the dogs were likely unfriendly as well. As the dogs neared, Hi gave up on the argument and Elemental Rayed the wire into oblivion. The cougar raced at them full speed, barely two rounds ahead of the dogs. Raesh scored another massive success on her Animal Handling, recognizing a well-trained animal companion when she saw one racing in terror towards her. As realization dawned on the characters, you really felt pity for the dogs. It was ON. Halek took point, and the rest of the party pulled out their bows.

The dogs exploded into a hail of arrow fire. The cougar took cover next to Shalelu, just behind Raesh. Apparently, that was all the motivation Shalelu needed; she went from two misses the first round to not another shot missed through the whole combat. The cougar really shouldn't have bothered hiding. The dogs were mowed down mercilessly by a hail of composite bow fire (and a pair of crossbows). As the last dog turned to try to flee and fell with three arrows in its back, Raesh spotted a deformed humanoid turning in terror at the edge of the woods and fleeing. In no hurry to pursue the miscreant, the party took the time to remove the wire from the cougar's paw and cast Cure Light Wounds on it. The cougar desperately wanted them to follow in the direction the humanoid had fled, so they cautiously proceeded into the woods, weapons out. About three-quarters of a mile later, Crowfood Graul had spectacular luck; none of the party members rolled a Perception roll high enough to see him, he got a free surprise attack on Raesh, connecting soundly, and he rolled a relatively high Initiative to boot. Unfortunately, in his eagerness he hadn't waited for the squishy party members. Putting yourself right next to the barbarian and the paladin and out of reach of the ranger and the sorcerer is really not super-genius tactics. Crowfood ended up crow food, to no one's surprise except perhaps his own. A few charges (ok, a LOT of charges) from the wand of Cure Light Wounds later, and the party was ready to proceed.
GM Note: As I've said, I like all my NPCs to play in character. I figured Crowfood would be so confident in his abilities that he'd try to crack the 'toughest nut' first. Too bad it got him whomped so bad. But Raesh developed a severe dislike of ogre hooks.

About twenty yards later, the forest trail opened into a clearing, in which were two decrepit buildings (a barn and a farmhouse), along with some pathetic crops. The cougar led them into the clearing, but in a spectacular display of incompetence, couldn't make the Perception roll to tell them in which building his companion was being held. After circling both buildings and determining that all the windows were boarded up, Shiro decided to start peeling back boards and peering into windows. Unfortunately, the first time he did this he heard screams of terror from inside. "Mammy! Mammy! They're outside our window!" The second window (into Rukkus' room) was equally noisy and useless, and the party regrouped to decide how to approach the farm. They had no proof of any wrongdoing on the farm, so they didn't want to go in waving swords around, but they strongly suspected that the cougar's companion was nearby and that those who occupied this farm were evil. Should they knock on the barn door? Knock on the front door of the house? Knock a hole in one of the weakened walls?
GM Note: I deserve extra bonus points for maintaining a poker face here. They were about to break down the back wall of the barn, right into the ogre spider's lair, which would have been REALLY funny. But I did not encourage them or snicker or anything...
The group finally got frustrated and prodded the cougar a bit, hoping to get any kind of indication as to which building its companion was in. The cougar FINALLY made a decent Perception roll and led the party to the barn. Raesh, being Raesh, walked up and knocked.

Hograth Graul believed himself the luckiest ogrekin on Golarion. He opened the door to find a beautiful purple woman clad in glistening plate before him. He cried out, "Oooh! A real girl! I get her first," and attempted a grapple. Raesh stepped gracefully out of the way out of his groping paws. Shalelu retorted, "Keep your filthy paws off her, animal," and buried an arrow in his chest.
Jeppo and Sugar came pouring out to help their brother. Unfortunately, they had never studied Combat Reflexes, and tried to move past Halek to get to better positions. Halek hit both of them. They stabbed at Halek ineffectually. Halek Cleaved both of them into unconsciousness. Raesh hit Hograth, but, still standing, he tried to grope her again. Hi, enraged into a sputtering ball of fury, aimed an Elemental Ray at Hograth's groin. It connected and dropped Hograth to a (barely) quivering mass on the ground. The party had Halek pull all three miscreants into the barn, where they stabilized them and tied them up.

They searched the barn, and the cougar led them to a second-floor catwalk leading into a back room. Opening that door, they saw that the center of the room was a giant funnel web. In each corner was a wooden cage.

OK. I'm very careful. Some people might find this bothersome.:

In each cage, three walls had manacles about 7' off the floor attached to the wall, and the fourth wall had manacles about 3' off the floor, a sawhorse about 2' out from the wall, and manacles in the floor under the sawhorses.

In the cage directly in front of them were three naked men chained to the walls.
Raesh stepped into the room to look down the funnel, and Shiro mysteriously darted past her all the way to the cage. He was rewarded as an ogre spider charged up its web and shot a wad of sticky webbing at him. One Windy Escape later, Shiro was grinning at his brilliant plan as Raesh and Shalelu started peppering the creature with arrows. With no room to maneuver, Hi and Halek raced down the stairs to the catwalk on the other side. The spider, enraged at Shiro's trickery, bit him full on. Another Windy Escape reduced the damage a bit, and, more importantly, saved him from being poisoned. Raesh and Shalelu continued their fire, and Halek came up the other catwalk and shot it from behind. Hi, tired of being left behind because of his little bitty legs, stepped in, hit the spider with an Elemental Ray, and laughed as it fumbled its Reflex save, taking the ray full in the face and expiring immediately.
The party approached the cage, but it was locked. "Halek, go find keys," Raesh snapped.
Halek ran back to the room with the tied-up ogrekin and promptly crit his Perception roll. (Raesh's player quipped that all you have to do is tell Halek what to do and he performs magnificently; it's just leaving him to his own devices that's unwise.) He quickly returned to the party, keys in hand. One of the men heard the noises and groaned, "No! Not me! It's Vale's turn!"
Shiro and Raesh rushed in to reassure the men, "It's no one's turn. You're being rescued."
Shalelu stepped forward to one of the men. "You are safe, stepfather. I am here. With friends."
The man barely opened his eyes, but managed to whisper, "Shalelu?..."
They used the keys to free the men, and broke out their winter blankets and other gear to clothe them. After ensuring that the spider was dead, Raesh channeled positive energy and healed the men a bit. They identified themselves as Jakardros Sovark, second in command of Fort Rannick and Shalelu's stepfather, Vale Temros, and Kaven Windstrike. All three tried to describe what had happened to them at the hands of the Graul family. All three failed their Will saves to be able to describe it. Raesh's face went still as stone. "You do not have to tell us what happened."
She stood up, silently walked out to the tied-up prisoners, and slit their throats with the sword Olytrius. Everyone in the barn saw her armor brighten and start flickering as if it were reflecting the sun. She looked at the rest of the party. "There will be no mercy here."
The party nodded agreement. Except for Hi, who started playing with fire between his fingertips and looking positively gleeful.

Jakardros told them what he knew: He had taken an extended patrol out of the fort, was delayed returning, and returned to find Fort Rannick in the control of ogres. He tried to re-take the fort, but lost a third of his men in the attempt. During their flight away from the fort, they were ambushed and captured by the Grauls,


who had slowly been torturing, killing, and devouring them (not necessarily in that order) one-by-one until

the three of them were all that remained of the Black Arrows. The cougar was Jakardros' animal companion, Kibb.

Shalelu volunteered to guard the men while the rest of the party explored the house. Hi suggested prying the wood off each window and dropping a fireball inside. The party overruled that and decided to head in through the side door. The side door led into a kitchen that made it even clearer that no one in the house would be spared; the Grauls had clearly been eating the captured men. Shiro crossed the room, failed to spot traps, and stepped into the dining room just in time to be hit rather harshly by a scythe trap. The dining room was even more grotesque than the kitchen, and every door was guarded by a scythe trap. Shiro finally worked out the mechanism to disable all the traps, and the party proceeded into the playpen, where Lucky and Maulgro Graul (two adult ogrekin with childlike intelligence and behavior) were nothing more than a minor footnote in the party's wanderings. They crossed the dining room to a hallway and located Rukkus Graul. He had little better luck than his dogs, and was quickly dispatched.


The next room was a storeroom scattered with the bones of perhaps eight or nine baby girls, all with ogrekin deformities (Raesh crit her Heal check to get this info). Raesh concluded that Mammy Graul didn't like competition, and killed all her daughters the moment they were born.

The next room was the family room, complete with a couch upholstered with both human and fox skins, horrifying Shiro beyond anything he'd seen so far. As Shiro moved in to unlock the front door, he noticed the pit trap around the couch and warned the party to avoid it.
Finally, the party reached Mammy Graul's room. Once again, standing around buffing turned out to be a really really stupid tactic for a spellcaster.

Shiro heard her start her buff spells almost the moment she started casting them, and cast Silence on the door as Raesh and Halek rushed in. Imagine being so grossly obese that you can't fit out the door any more. Now imagine that someone casts Silence with a radius such that only a 3' spot in one corner isn't Silenced. Yes, you have gone from being a BBEG to being a pinata at a party. Sorry, Mammy! Raesh and Halek hacked and pounded her mercilessly. Her six mirror images lasted all of 2 rounds. Hi shot his crossbow at her, just because he could. She hit Shiro with her wand of Magic Missile, but HE was svelte enough to fit into the one non-Silenced corner and heal himself. All her monologues, her obscenities, and her horrors died with her in silence. Shiro opined, "Well, THAT was anticlimactic." (Yes, I know there were supposed to be three zombies in there, but it would have prolonged my agony for all of a round, so I skipped them.)

The party looted her and moved on. Upstairs they found the bedroom with a chest they couldn't open, so they stuffed the entire chest into their bag of holding to open later. The attic contained several flasks of acid and enough tools to make three full sets of masterwork thieves' tools. Downstairs they first found a storeroom, and then some kind of furniture-making room with two dire rats attempting to hide behind a moldy mattress. As Raesh stepped in to try to attract the rats, the party experienced their first ogre hook critical. Hucker Graul stepped from the shadows and criticaled Raesh for a whopping 63 points (yes, I know. I rolled low.) Halek had no desire to see Raesh meet his fate, so he raged and used his Improved Bull Rush for the first time ever to push Hucker into the wall, away from Raesh. The rats charged forward. One bit Raesh and dropped her, and the other attacked Halek, missing. Shiro healed Raesh, Hi fired Elemental Rays at Hucker, Raesh spent every round laying hands on herself and hitting the rats, and Halek and Hucker went toe-to-toe in the corner. In spite of her minimal hit points, Raesh was enraged that the rats prevented her from getting at Hucker, but Hucker fell before Halek's rage long before she could reach him, and the rats fell quickly after that. Lots and lots and lots of healing later, the party was ready to proceed. The next room was filled with mud, water, moss, fungus, and mold. Amazingly, Shiro chose not to eat any of it. Even more amazingly, the party spotted and identified the tentriculos without any trouble. As the final nail in its coffin, I ruled that it was indeed evil because it had once been an ogrekin, and retained its cruel streak. Speaking of cruel streaks, the party dropped Haste and Invisibility on Raesh and let her walk in and Smite Evil on the tentriculos. To my amazement, it survived the first round. Barely. Her initiative was so much higher than its as to be embarrassing, and one tentriculos slaw (it *never* goes over well at potlucks) later, the party was moving on. The final room contained the Graul treasure, including all the Black Arrows' equipment.

They returned to the surface, gathered the remaining Black Arrows, Shalelu, and Kibb, and Raesh turned to Hi. "Yes, Hi."

Hi dropped two fireballs into the Graul house proper, and another fireball into the barn. Then burned his Burning Hands spells. It was spectacular. It was beautiful. The house went up like a medieval Apocalypse Now. Raesh faced the blinding (at least for her) glory of the flames and knelt, praying over her scimitar in an elegy for the souls who had met their ends at the hands of the ogrekin. It was 2:00 am in the real world. We called it a night.

*** end of session ***

Next planned game: Saturday, 10-Nov-2012

I forget sometimes that Hi is a gnome. When I remember though, he seems a lot like a character I played alongside with my first character ever.

Except that the gnome sorcerer from my memory was absolutely despised by the rest of his party.

(Ah memories...)

Grand Lodge

I revised the Mammy Graul encounter to allow her to leave the room. She escaped downstairs to join Hucker and Muck Graul. I was hoping it would be epic. Not so, the party turned them into toast.

Your group is catching up to ours. It has been several weeks since we have been able to get together for one reason or another. I look forward to what happens at Fort Rannick, and how your party deals with a certain sister.



Gluttony wrote:

I forget sometimes that Hi is a gnome. When I remember though, he seems a lot like a character I played alongside with my first character ever.

Except that the gnome sorcerer from my memory was absolutely despised by the rest of his party.

(Ah memories...)

So... you know a lot of humans who have a habit of burning all their clothes and wandering home naked?

Your college is FAR more interesting than mine...

Mazra wrote:

I revised the Mammy Graul encounter to allow her to leave the room. She escaped downstairs to join Hucker and Muck Graul. I was hoping it would be epic. Not so, the party turned them into toast.

Your group is catching up to ours. It has been several weeks since we have been able to get together for one reason or another. I look forward to what happens at Fort Rannick, and how your party deals with a certain sister.



I think if I'd added Mammy there Raesh would have died, all because of those ogre hook crits. And in the original edition they were x4? Talk about your overkill! "Oh, I rolled a 20. You're dead!" Yeesh!

I don't know about catching up; you know my group. We're planning on meeting on Saturday from 10:00 am - midnight. But from 10-11:30 is brunch. Then we'll spend 2-3 hours roleplaying in town as they talk to the Black Arrows. I strongly suspect that after the discussion they'll head to the Shimmerglens first, which'll take all the time 'til dinner. So they won't even start planning the assault 'til 8 or 9 at night.

My group is the slow-cooked, rich-n-juicy roleplaying pot roast...

And yes, we both talk about and eat way too much good food!

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NobodysHome wrote:
Gluttony wrote:

I forget sometimes that Hi is a gnome. When I remember though, he seems a lot like a character I played alongside with my first character ever.

Except that the gnome sorcerer from my memory was absolutely despised by the rest of his party.

(Ah memories...)

So... you know a lot of humans who have a habit of burning all their clothes and wandering home naked?

Your college is FAR more interesting than mine...

"Interesting" is one way to describe it. Winter temperatures prevent a lot of nakedness though.

Our gnome ended up dying in a sorcerer's duel to a kobold who was as much of a pyromaniac as him. We did nothing to help, other than enforce the battle as 1 on 1, and happily recruited the enemy who'd slain our comrade once the fight was over.

Grand Lodge

NobodysHome wrote:

My group is the slow-cooked, rich-n-juicy roleplaying pot roast...

That sounds nice and tasty in many ways. My party likes the tactical aspects and we move from one encounter to the next with some role playing, but nowhere near as much as I prefer. That is why it has been most enjoyable for me to write the exploits in a novelized form to expand on details that were just quick notes in game play. This has actually helped the party too.

I anxiously await your next installment. :)

Mazra wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

My group is the slow-cooked, rich-n-juicy roleplaying pot roast...

That sounds nice and tasty in many ways. My party likes the tactical aspects and we move from one encounter to the next with some role playing, but nowhere near as much as I prefer. That is why it has been most enjoyable for me to write the exploits in a novelized form to expand on details that were just quick notes in game play. This has actually helped the party too.

I anxiously await your next installment. :)

LOL. I have my group reading your thread right now.

They LOVE reading other people's threads, but CERTAIN posters (Ahem, Gluttony!) have players who roll WAY too high on their knowledge checks and learn things my players don't know yet...

My players don't get to read this until after Saturday's game:

Yeah, I plan on introducing them to the 'down side' of the Sihedron Medallions while they're trying to Stealth into Fort Rannick. Oops! Someone's going to start yelling for the guards, because he would find it amusing... (I'm going to read a bit ahead just to make sure it's OK, but it definitely seems like the kind of thing he'd do at this point.)

Gluttony wrote:

"Interesting" is one way to describe it. Winter temperatures prevent a lot of nakedness though.

Our gnome ended up dying in a sorcerer's duel to a kobold who was as much of a pyromaniac as him. We did nothing to help, other than enforce the battle as 1 on 1, and happily recruited the enemy who'd slain our comrade once the fight was over.

Poor Atali is going to turn blue!

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10-Nov-2012 Game, Part I
There are few things more gratifying as a GM to have one of your players (Raesh's in this case) say, "It was an awesome session. With Hollandaise sauce." Yeah, we ended up going out to a fantastic breakfast with various items smothered in Hollandaise sauce (Hi's player refrained and had pancakes, because even in real life he's gots to be a gnome), gaming for 7 hours, going to dinner, and gaming some more for a grand total 13-hour session. Yikes!

So lots of preliminary notes, and a long-enough session I'm planning on breaking it in two just for sanity's sake.

First and foremost, I don't like posting NPC obits to the obituary thread, but we can say goodbye to a pair of the Black Arrows:

Name of NPC: Vale Temros
Class/Level: Fighter 4/Ranger 2
Adventure: The Hook Mountain Massacre
Catalyst: Critted an ogre fighter and got its attention
Story: As the party began its assault on Fort Rannick, Minktuck Kreeg and his minions stormed out to meet them. With Shalelu providing withering arrow fire from the nearby woods, and Jakardros putting them in a crossfire, it seemed like nothing but mop-up duty. Vale stepped forward and criticaled Minktuck for 50 points of damage, sure that it would drop the burly mink-wearer. Unfortunately, though his underlings were puny and dropping like flies (well, big, ugly, ogre-sized flies with worse diets), the hit did nothing but enrage Minktuck. Minktuck Power Attacked Vale and hit twice for 69 points. Vale was dead before he hit the ground. Minktuck met Halek. Halek crit for a wee bit more than 50. Minktuck Did Not Like. The party may find where his head finally landed when they proceed up the mountain...

Name of NPC: Kaven Windstrike
Class/Level: Ranger 2/Rogue 5
Adventure: The Hook Mountain Massacre
Catalyst: Apparently ticked off Jakardros just a little too much
Story: In the travesty that was Lucrecia's swan song (have I mentioned that putting spellcasters in small enclosed rooms is NOT a good plan with my party?), Jakardros was supposed to be guarding the door and providing supporting fire, but he couldn't refrain from pumping arrows into Kaven. Four shots, four hits at near-max damage, and Kaven was a minor footnote in the annals of our campaign.

Second, I don't think anyone really *earned* the Silver Tsuto Award this session. Lucrecia rolled a hopelessly low Initiative, and Jaagrath out-and-out fumbled his, but being slow doesn't compare to the magnificent incompetence we've come to expect from Tsuto winners. Two-shotting a PC and then blinding yourself? That's a Tsuto. Stumbling flat-footed through a group of PCs, generating attacks of opportunity from all of them? That's a Tsuto. Being so slow you get whomped because your AC isn't high enough and an angry Hasted drow paladin is Smiting Evil on your tail with a holy sword? Sucks to be you, but not Tsuto-worthy.

I think that's it. Let's get started:
Party leveled to 8th level, Shalelu included. Wow! The Grauls were worth a LOT of experience!

15-Neth-4707 (Continued from last session)

As Raesh, Shiro, Hi, and Halek watched Hi's handiwork, Shiro asked Raesh whether she had noticed the Sihedron tattoo on Kaven's wrist. She had noted it as well. On their way back to Turtleback Ferry, Raesh and Shiro dropped behind to talk over what to do about it. Shiro finally couldn't contain himself (we were all astonishment) and walked right up to Kaven and asked him about the tattoo. Kaven made up a song-and-dance about how he'd had it for years, originally receiving it from a tattoo artist on a Varisian caravan, who had given it to him as a blessing to the stars. Unfortunately, Shiro's Sense Motive beat Kaven's Bluff by a solid 15 points (why does *any* party travel without a bard again?) and he knew a cock-and-bull story when he heard one. Next, he tried slipping into Varisian while talking about the tattoo. Kaven knew Varisian. Next, he tried asking Hi about the Sihedron medallion right in front of Kaven, and even went so far as to have Hi pull it out, and that got Kaven to pale noticeably. Additional attempts didn't elicit further responses, so the party decided to watch Kaven carefully, trying to figure out what he was up to.

They returned to Turtleback Ferry in the misting rain to great fanfare. Farmers in the fields yelled out in surprise when they saw the surviving Black Arrows, and sent youngsters to notify the rest of the town. By the time they arrived in the town proper, there were several dozen people there to meet them, Mayor Shreed included. Mayor Shreed was a shrewd man, and knew the Black Arrows would need rest and relief, so he quickly had some burly men provide a buffer of a few feet between the party and the onlookers. Much to the party's surprise, Cesten Orlandi came out of the Turtle's Parlor and offered the men two rooms for the evening. The men went upstairs to bathe, while a local hedge mage used Pretidigitation to clean their clothes and gear. Since there were only two tubs, Jakardros stayed behind and told his tale. (Combined from his conversations with Shalelu on the way back and the questioning from the tavern):
Jakardros started as an adventurer who saved a small Elven town from a marauding green dragon, though he lost his fellow adventurers during the fight. Shalelu's mother nursed him back to health, they fell in love, and were wed. Unfortunately, a necromancer resurrected the dragon and its second assault killed Shalelu's mother. Once again, Jakardros set out and slew the dragon, once again losing almost all his men. He could not bear the pain of facing Shalelu (at this she snorted derisively) and fled, eventually finding his way to Fort Rannick, where it was easy to forget his past in his duties. He quickly rose through the ranks to become second in command. He was on an extended patrol with 20 men, which was fairly routine, but the men started having 'fey-like' troubles, with broken straps, missing buckles, and other minor pranks that seemed harmless enough, but that delayed their return by several days. At the same time, Commander Bayden was scheduled to take his monthly 'communion with nature'. The timing of the ogre attack was extremely suspicious, right while both the commander and second-in-command were gone, and many men were out on patrol. When Jakardros saw the fort held by ogres, he attacked and attempted to get it back, losing 1/3 of his men in the process. Fleeing at night into the woods, the remaining men were easy pickings for the Graul family, who then killed them one-by-one until only Jakardros, Temros, and Windstrike were left. They asked him what he thought of his men, and he considered both of them to be solid men. Kaven had had his issues as a youth, but had grown into a fine soldier, and Vale's heart was unquestionably loyal.
The party made many murmured comments about how being under this guy's command seemed to be a mark of death.

Once Vale Temros was done with his bath, Jakardros headed back to the inn to take his bath and the party started questioning Vale. Shiro was extremely suspicious of Kaven Windstrike, and went over to check on him. He had already gone to bed, and Shiro could see and hear him snoring in his room. They questioned Vale and learned that he was a simple fighting man; his parents had been Black Arrows, and so he was a Black Arrow. They asked him about the commander and Kaven, and learned nothing new. They stayed in the tavern for a while, Shiro performed for the clientele while Hi trolled for information. This time it was Hi who got the lucky 3 rumors, and learned that the last time they'd had rains this bad was 40 years ago, and there was flooding. Those rains had been caused by a witch who'd wanted to turn everyone into toads! They learned that hunters, trappers, and fishermen had been vanishing, and the locals suspected the Graul family. The party reassured the man speaking that the Grauls were unlikely to kidnap any more trappers. Finally, they got the precious rumor #10: A young man's uncle had a star-shaped tattoo that he'd received around 6 months ago and was trying to hide. The young man had seen "lots of people" around town with the tattoo. Shiro wondered why he hadn't seen any, but figured people probably hid them really well. Before they retired, a young boy came in exclaiming about lights in the Shimmerglens again, and sure enough, the entire party could see the will-o-wisp like lights darting through the air across the lake. While watching the show, a hunter commented that the fey over there were getting more and more aggressive; just that day one had spent several minutes trying to lure him off the trail. He'd had to shoot at it with a few precious arrows before it finally flew off and left him alone.

Their curiosity somewhat satisfied for the evening, they retired to the inn. Shiro turned into his fox form and climbed to just outside Kaven's window so he could watch him, but Kaven was already gone. A quick Survival roll showed that the tracks led back up towards Fort Rannick. The party decided not to pursue; he might he hours ahead, and there might be a nasty reception waiting for them if they went there in the dark. They figured it would be foolhardy to go to the fort the next day, as it would be on high alert and waiting for them, and planned to investigate the Shimmerglens instead.


Another miserable, rainy day dawned, and the party prepared for their trip to the Shimmerglens. To their surprise, Shalelu asked to accompany them. "If you haven't noticed, my stepfather is somewhat useless. He flees from emotional conflict and somehow manages to kill all the men who follow him. I think I would rather spend my time with you."
Jakardros was livid when they told him they would not be assaulting the fort that day, but Raesh said very carefully, "We have something else to do today. We must take care of it first."

They took the Skull Ferry across, tipping the boatsman 100% (of course they did!), and having lunch at a small tavern in Bitter Hollow. The food was warm and filling, and they got to eat indoors in a heated room, which was about all the tavern had going for it. After lunch, they headed out across the Wicker Walk, a raised wooden walkway leading across the marshlands, and supposedly safe from the fey. Soon, Hi heard small wings approaching. He called out, "Incoming with wings!", though even he couldn't see what it was. A small human with colorful butterfly wings appeared just as he swooped down and fell prostrate at Raesh's feet. "OhDarkMistressPleasedon'thurtmemymistressisintroubleandIneedyourhelp!"

Raesh looked down. "I will not hurt you. Stand up and tell us what help you need."
The pixie introduced himself as Yap, and, while flying in circles in a hopelessly excited and erratic pattern, told them a hopelessly excited and erratic story. Apparently his mistress in the Whitewillow at the heart of the swamp was so ill that 'death would have been a kindness'. She was pining away for her human lover, and Whitewillow was dying around her, but none of the humans would help him. He was overjoyed to see elves crossing the Wicker Walk, because elves help with such things, don't they? He turned to Hi and apologized, "I am sorry, Master. I know your people do not want us coming to you with our problems, but we need help, and I was hoping the elves would help us."
Hi, confused, said, "Don't worry about it. I'm with them."
Raesh and Shalelu exchanged a look, Raesh consulted the rest of the party, and she turned to Yap. "We will help you. Lead us to your mistress. Do not forget that we are in a swamp, and we do not fly. Please be sure to lead us over solid ground. Do not forget this."

Yap excitedly flew a few loop-de-loops, and smiled for the first time. He led the party southwards into the swamp. It was a miserable slog through thick mud and dripping rain, but Yap was a decent guide, and the mud never went above Raesh's calves. After nearly an hour of miry misery, they came to a clear boundary: Behind them was a natural swamp in winter, grey-green, stinky, and wet, but full of life, growth, and the noises of countless denizens. Ahead of them was more swamp, but it was dying, rotting, and desolate, with no signs of growth or life. Yap turned to them. "I'm sorry. We must pass this boundary to get to my mistress. It will be hard. I am *so* sorry!"

Yap flew across the boundary as one who had failed his Will save against despair so many times that the pain was a constant companion. He dropped almost three full feet, his wings drooped, and tears ran down his cheeks. Raesh stepped through. She vaguely felt the sense of being immortal, of watching all those she loved wither and die around her, but, being a paladin, made the save by such a ridiculous amount that she just shrugged it off as part of the scenery. She offered Yap her shoulder to ride on, and he gratefully accepted. Shalelu stepped through and failed her save. Much to the party's surprise, she took Raesh's hand, leaned into her, and in Elven said, "I cannot stand to lose you, love-who-is-mortal-and-who-will-die-before-me, please stay close to me."

Raesh was taken aback. "Shalelu. You do know who I am, right?"
"You are Raesh."
Raesh let it drop, but allowed Shalelu to cling to her. She turned to Hi and looked vaguely worried as he stepped through; just how many party members were going to be attached to her by the time they got through this boundary?
Hi proceeded to crit his save, and his gnome heritage gave him far more information: This had been a guarded glade; a sacred spot of the fey. Something had corrupted the guardian, and now her (for it was certainly a 'she') corruption was spreading through her domain. Hi got an overwhelming urge to burn the person or persons responsible. But that was just Hi being Hi.
Shiro failed his save miserably (the players were all shocked! OK. No they weren't). Fortunately, being only slightly related to fey, Shiro felt an overwhelming despair of lost love, but in game terms it had no effect on him. Halek out-and-out fumbled his save, but, being a non-magical human with no fey blood whatsoever, just grunted and proceeded on through. Sometimes it's good to be clueless.

As they proceeded through the swamp, all of them saw bony hands reaching for them out of the corners of their eyes. Turning to face the bony apparitions revealed nothing but denuded trees whose brances seemed to reach for them. Hi, Shalelu and Halek failed their Will saves and became shaken. It was a cheerful party indeed! They came upon a still pool, and Yap said, "Do not look into the pool!"
Raesh turned to see Shiro gazing longingly at the pool. "No, Shiro. Do not look in the pool."
After a bit of whimpering and frustration, Shiro finally tore himself away without looking into the pool, and the party went around it, giving it a wide berth.
They proceeded deeper into the woods, and started seeing apparitions of deer, squirrels, birds, frogs, and other wildlife. The spectral apparitions would appear, frolic for a few moments, then fall over, die, decay into rot and corruption, and fade. Yap confirmed that the apparitions were shadows of the life that had once bloomed here. Hi's grimace tightened. "We need to fix this."
Soon, Yap gasped. "I've never seen THAT here before!"

Ahead of them was a shipwreck covered in moss. Shiro practically drooled at the shipwreck, obviously wanting very greatly to explore after being denied a chance to glance at the forbidden pool. The ship was of Varisian make; an oceangoing vessel named the Midnight Dancer. It reeked of magic. After some discussion (during which Raesh mercilessly teased Shiro with remarks such as, "We have important things to attend to... we may need to just move on..."), the party decided to investigate. There were no skeletons or any other signs of life on deck, and the moss growth implied that the ship had been here for months, not just hours. Below decks was equally mysterious; there was no bilge, no furniture, no sign that the ship had ever had a crew or sailed the seas. The only place they found anything was the captain's quarters. There they found the skeletal remains of the captain sitting at an ancient harpsichord, nautical charts and a silver goblet clutched in one hand, a book of music in front of him on the harpsichord.

A lot of thorough investigation ensued; they were surrounded by magic, yet nothing was innately more magical than its surroundings. Shiro had sailed halfway around the world, but the nautical charts indicated nowhere on Golarion Shiro knew of; he was sure the charts were of another world. The captain's dress and the ship's architecture indicated that it was around 450 years old. The log was decayed into almost-nothingness, but the final entry was, "I am finally going home," and one of the charts had an "X" in the middle of an ocean that was marked "Home" in old Varisian. The music was unbelievably complex; Shiro recognized it as a masterwork, signed by Vakrin Godra, who they assumed was the deceased captain. Shiro first tried to play the harpsichord, but time had rendered it unplayable. He tried to play the tune on his lute or sing it, but all his attempts were for naught; the music was just too complex for him. He decided to dedicate himself to practicing it until he could play it perfectly.

After some discussion, the party decided that the best way to honor the Captain was to bring back proof of his life and his journey, so that he would not be forgotten. They gathered up all his belongings, the charts and the music book, the silver goblet and the captain's log. They then placed the captain's body on the cot, and covered him with his time-worn blanket. Raesh spoke a prayer to Sarenrae over him. To everyone's astonishment Halek opined, "This man traveled the stars. he is a Varisian. Our prayers for him must be to Desna." Raesh stepped aside, agreeing that such was appropriate, but feeling that it was unfitting for her to pray to another deity. Halek started praying in Shoanti and making various gestures over the man, and the party quickly remembered that Halek was of the Lyrune-Quah, the Moon Clan and devout followers of Desna. Once Halek's prayers were done, the party bid the captain farewell and climbed back to the deck. There, waiting for them on deck, was an ancient white dog with milky white eyes, sitting silently. As they emerged, the dog trotted up to Shiro, bumped the music book with its nose, and leaped off the boat and headed deeper into the Whitewillow, directly towards Yap's mysterious mistress. As it reached the edge of the clearing, it faded into nothingness. Unlike the other animals, it was not a vanishing of corruption, but a simple fading. Raesh said, "Shiro, take that book. We must follow the dog."

They proceeded deeper into the woods, to the heart of the Whitewillow. There, Yap said, "I am sorry. I can go no farther. My mistress is just ahead."
The party stepped into a clearing filled with a pool that must have once been beautiful; perfectly round with calm waters that might once have been crystal-clear, the pool was now black and reeked of despair and death. A spectral woman howled forth from the pool. "Where is he? Where is my love? Why did you not protect him!?!?! Why haven't you saved him??!?!?"
The ghostly nymph was horrific to behold. While she still held much of her beauty, her arms were no longer attached to her body, and dangled uselessly a few feet below her. Her legs were a tangled mass of confusion. There was madness in her eyes. Raesh tried to reason with her. They were there to help, and they wanted to know what was happening and where to look, but the only information she could get was that she was trying to reincarnate her "dear Lamatar" but he wouldn't come back to her, and she was convinced that someone had bound his soul. The party immediately suspected the Runewells, but did not want to upset her, so said nothing. Staring through her, Shiro noticed the white dog across the pond, looking directly at him. After a few missteps, he finally understood what the dog was trying to tell him.

In one of those epic storytelling moments you only get once or twice a campaign, Shiro Inspired Competence on himself (an ineffective action, intended to help the player's confidence more than the outcome), cast Gallant Inspiration, and played Captain Godra's magnum opus. And rolled a natural 20! In real life, the table exploded with exclamations of joy. Gamewise, with the Gallant Inspiration and the critical Shiro hit a straight-up 40 on his Perform check. All negative mind-affecting conditions on all the PCs vanished. The nymph Myriana's madness ended, and the sense of doom around the pool lifted. Even Yap came into the clearing. Myriana turned to Yap. "My dearest Yap. You who have been so loyal and been through so much. You have done well. My madness will not be gone for long. All of you, quickly. I must show you what I know."

Myriana invited the party to gaze into her eyes and experience what she had experienced. Raesh declined, choosing to guard the party, but the rest of the party agreed. They gazed into her eyes, and were drawn into her tale.

Sex and Violence. Woo hoo!:

The males of the party found it a bit awkward as the vision started with them experiencing being Myriana as Lamatar Bayden made love to them in a secluded bower in the moonlight. All except Shiro, whose player declared that he was taking mental notes. As they made love, they were interrupted by a woman's voice screaming, cracks of wood breaking, and gruff voices laughing. Myriana immediately knew that one of her dryads was under attack, and she and Lamatar raced to the scene to find a group of ogres destroying the dryad and her tree. Myriana and Lamatar attacked, easily slaying many of the ogres before the glade crackled with magic and Lamatar froze in place.

Lucrecia strode forward, smiling as a horde of ogres rushed forward to assail Myriana. "Take her. Do what you will with her. Anything. As long as Lamatar is watching the whole thing."

The ogres, furious at their fallen, grabbed Myriana and started pulling. She screamed. The party members had to make Will saves to avoid taking Wisdom damage from the incredible pain. Astonishingly, everyone succeeded. The ogres ripped off Myriana's arms and legs, and she dropped to the ground. She considered herself fortunate to experience nothing but pain and death at the ogre's hands. Her vision blackened seeing nothing but Lamatar's horrified face as he was carried off by a pair of ogres in Lucrecia's wake.

As the party came out of the dream and explained to Raesh what had happened, her face turned stony. "We will search for Lamatar for you. The ogres will pay for their crimes. Lucrecia will pay for her crimes."

Myriana sighed. "That is all I can ask for. And you, my bard. You brought me out of my madness long enough to give me hope. For this you have my blessing."
Myriana caressed a cold, undead, incorporeal hand along Shiro's cheek. He managed to make his Acting role to avoid shuddering. She pulled a lock of black-as-death hair from her head and entwined it on his cloak pin. Shiro immediately felt the Muse's Blessing on him (+4 to all Will saves, Craft checks, and Perform checks, plus 9 extra rounds of performance per day). Shiro thanked her profusely, and she replied, "My madness is returning to me. You must go."

Yap offered to accompany the party on their quest, but the party agreed that although he would make an excellent scout, he would be in too much peril. There was no way they could keep him alive against ogres. They thanked him for his enthusiasm, but told him to stay with his mistress and care for her until they returned.

The party headed out of Whitewillow. None were surprised that the ground before them was dry, and the trees parted for them. They made it back to Bitter Hollow in the early evening, and proceeded into the night to arrive in Turtleback Ferry in the blackness. They were somewhat alarmed to learn that they had been missing for 24 hours, and Jakardros was livid, but they replied, "We were attending to something of paramount importance. That's one more day the ogres have been on full alert. They must be getting tired by now."

The party smiled and rested up. Tomorrow, there would be ogres.

*** End of Part 1 ***

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10-Nov-2012 Game, Part 2

17-Neth-4707 (Yes, the 16th is missing somewhere in the fey lands)

The party awoke to more rain, and planned an assault on Fort Rannick. Jakardros showed them the various entrances to the fort, including a secret tunnel behind a waterfall just below the south gate that seemed like their best bet. Unfortunately, the tunnel was filled with shocker lizards who were quite aggressive during their mating season (which happened to be right around now). He explained that the Black Arrows usually used willow bark smoke to drive the lizards out of the caves when they became too aggressive; other than that, they were excellent guardians. Everyone decided that Hi really needed a shocker lizard as a pet. Hi liked the idea of flying up to the aerie above the fort instead and raining fiery death from above, but Raesh and Shiro vetoed that, as the ogres might still have prisoners. Halek and Shalelu went shopping for arrows, and returned with almost every available arrow in Turtleback Ferry; perhaps seven or eight quivers in total.

They set off on their grim task in the driving rain and cold, and nothing dared bother such a determined group. (Stupid encounter rolls!) Once they neared the fort, Shalelu climbed a tree near the southern gate to provide covering fire. Jakardros sent Kibb into the woods, as close combat with ogres was no place for an animal companion. Their initial plan was simple: Approach the southern gate in stealth, enter the secret tunnel, and slip into the fort. Unfortunately, the party's Stealth rolls left something to be desired, and as they approached the gate four ogres poured forth: Minktuck Kreeg (a captain who had lost his lower jaw and now wore dead minks like sideburns to cover it up) and three regulars. The party opened up with a withering crossfire: Shalelu from the trees behind the ogres, and the rest of the party from the base of the cliff. By the end of the first round, one ogre was dead and another heavily wounded. Vale Temros saw his chance to bottle up the ogres and turn the combat into a killing field. He stepped forward and crit Minktuck for 50 points. Unfortunately, Minktuck didn't drop. Even more unfortunately, Minktuck went immediately after Vale on the initiative chart and hit him twice for 69 points. Vale was dead before he hit the ground. Vale's effort had not been in vain, however. His move stopped the ogres long enough for Shalelu to drop a second one. Halek rushed forward and crit Minktuck. (My die apparently has a strong dislike of ogres. I didn't even mention Shalelu's failure to roll below a 15 on six shots at them.) 83 points later, Minktuck's head was sailing up the cliff, dead minks in tow. The final ogre met Raesh. It did not go well for the ogre.

After the battle, Raesh quickly stepped forward and slit the throats of the wounded. "These ogres sacked a fort and committed atrocities against the men within. There is no need for mercy here."
Her armor blazed in agreement.
Halek and Jakardros dragged all of the corpses to the cliff, hidden from the fort's view, and Shiro created a Minor Image and Ghost Sound of the ogres pursuing the party away from the fort. Raesh disapproved of being depicted as so cowardly, but Shiro insisted it was necessary to avoid alerting the other guards.
A heated debate ensued: Should the party take advantage of the now-open southern gate, or stick with the original plan of going through the caves?
GM Note: The debate was really long; maybe 8-10 minutes of real time. Sometimes I feel like I should set a timer that dings when the debate takes too long and something happens inside the fort to force a decision, and other times I feel like that would just make me a jerk GM. With this group, I chose to let them debate as long as necessary. Because I like them.
Shiro Stealthed up to the gate just enough to see that the new barracks near the southern gate was being used by the ogres (a wooden building deemed a fire trap by the Black Arrows, as it was two stories and had only one exit door). They finally decided to go with their original plan. They gave Shalelu a thumbs-up and started climbing the falls. Jakardros fumbled his climb (now THAT'S the die I know and love!) and fell sputtering into the pool below. Raesh could have sworn she heard Shalelu snickering from 100' away. Jakardros succeeded on his second attempt, and the party was in the caves.

As they proceeded through the tunnel, Raesh spotted two shocker lizards long before they saw her (stupid 120' darkvision!). Hi insisted that they not be hurt, as all they wanted was 'a little privacy'. The rest of the party, being my group, strongly agreed, and sat down to discuss how to get past the lizards without hurting any of them. (I swear, one of these days I'm going to put 'cute bunny guardians' in front of a gate just to flummox my group.) They'd forgotten to harvest any willow bark, and now that some of the guards were dead, it was too late to go back and get some. Shiro finally had an idea: If the lizards were ultra-aggressive, wouldn't they chase dancing lights like the crab at Thistletop? He sent Dancing Lights into the room with the lizards. Sure enough, they first bit at the lights, then tried to shock them, then skittered away when the shock didn't seem to hurt the lights. The party entered the secret armory, where everyone replenished their arrow supply and they found half a dozen +2 shocking burst arrows.
Jakardros led them to the secret door that opened up behind the new barracks. Shiro opened the door and peered out. They were safely hidden behind the new barracks, but could see very little of the rest of the fort. Although the new barracks was obviously designed by the author to be burned (a wooden building called a 'fire trap' that has firewood stacked beneath it? Really?), the party didn't want to risk the death of any innocents. In one of his bravest, most suicidal actions to date, Shiro turned into a tiny fox, Hi turned him invisible, and he went to explore the barracks. Fortunately, his 1-in-20 chance of instant death (a fumbled Stealth roll) did not come to pass, and Shiro was able to report back that there were twelve ogres in the barracks, but no living hostages.

The only humans there were the cooked body parts of the Black Arrows on which the ogres were snacking during their 'down time'.

Shiro Greased the front door, and Hi took over from there, and in moments there was a small but intense fire under the barracks. The party sealed the secret door and followed the tunnel north, figuring the burning building would be a spectacular distraction, if nothing else. Jakardros led them across a rickety bridge, past the crypt, and to the second exit, right next to a dangerously-dilapidated guard tower. Once again, Shiro opened the door carefully to peer out. In the courtyard ahead, four ogres were watching the fire. Two looked like regular ogres. A third had legs that bent backwards like chicken legs. The fourth was enormously obese,

and was chewing on a skewered, roasted Black Arrow while watching the fire.

A fifth ogre sat at his post at the east gate, but was clearly wrapped up in watching the fire. Knowing that they had a few moments to plan, the party slipped behind the guard tower and the wreckage of the stables. First, they Silenced and killed the gate ogre. The other group did not notice at all. They then decided that the chicken-legged ogre was likely the most dangerous, so they would hit him with a Silenced arrow, then drop a fireball on the entire group, then mow them down as they charged. The plan proceeded almost flawlessly. The Silenced arrow hit Karly-Lop Kreeg, silencing the whole group, and Hi's fireball exploded around them. Unfortunately, in an epic bit of irony, the obese ogre (Jolly Kreeg) crit his Reflex save to take minimal damage from the fireball, and then fumbled his Perception roll to know what was going on. As the other ogres charged, Jolly looked to the sky and opened his arms, trying to figure out how he had managed to be burned by a fire so far away.

The fight was short. Karly-Lop almost managed to reach the party, but after getting hit with several arrows and a fireball, meeting Halek one-on-one did not go well. The other two ogres dropped quickly. Only Jolly stood there, watching the fire, oblivious to the carnage behind him. They started shooting him, and he finally realized that something might be amiss. Unfortunately, his charge was far too late, and Jolly was a footnote in the history of the retaking of Fort Rannick.

The party quickly explored the courtyard. All of the ogres in the barracks were dead; they had spent so much time fighting each other to get out first that none had escaped. All of the posted guards were dead. They were in control of the exterior of the fort. They stepped out to give Shalelu a thumbs-up and let her know that things were OK, but they saw no sign of her in the forest. They figured that was just as well.

They approached the front gate of the keep and noted that it was badly damaged. Shiro changed to fox form and peered in stealthily, but saw nothing. He had Raesh look in, but she saw nothing but the entry hall. Halek pulled the doors open, and the party crept inside.

The trip through the keep was essentially a game of whack-a-mole. The party's Perception rolls were much higher than the ogres', and the ogres didn't tend to close doors because of the difficulty of opening them and slipping through them. So in each room, Shiro would Silence Raesh, Raesh and Halek would rush in and engage, and Jakardros and Hi would provide ranged support. It was a lethal combination, and one that precluded ogres elsewhere in the keep from being aware of the combats. The first of the ogres, overly excited at seeing a "real girl", tried to grapple Raesh instead of hitting her. After that, Raesh started letting Halek lead the charge so that the ogres would be thinking about combat instead of 'other things'. Finding the armory early on so they had a near-infinite supply of arrows for Jakardros did not help the ogres' cause. Every populated room revealed new atrocities performed by the ogres, so every ogre that fell had its throat slit by Raesh. The only exception to this was in the infirmary, where Silas Kreeg was desecrating the body of the Black Arrows' cleric. As Jakardros seemed quite upset (he rolled insanely well against Silas) Raesh ceded the coup de gras to him.

In yet another Epic Moment of Poor Placement, the party decided that they didn't want to make any noise going down the stairs, so Shiro Silenced them all. If you take a look at the room Lucrecia is in and imagine that the red sofa thing is where she's lounging, the Silence doesn't hit her as the party comes down the stairs, and she doesn't have an always-on Detect Magic going. So at the moment Raesh opened the door and saw Lucrecia stroking Kaven's hair as he knelt in front of her, it was all about who saw what. And Lucrecia fumbled her Perception roll, giving the party a single surprise round to act. And that was pretty much all she wrote. Halek and Raesh rushed in and pinned Lucrecia against the wall, Raesh Smiting Evil. Kaven uselessly flailed at Raesh. By the time Lucrecia had a chance to act, it was over. Her Silent Still spell choices were 3rd level and lower; she couldn't Dimension Door away, neither Hold Person nor Invisibility would have protected her, and Mage Armor was moot as she'd already taken over 100 points of damage and knew she'd be dead on the next round unless a miracle occurred. So she took a shot at Raesh, hitting her and draining her Wisdom by a point. Too little, too late. Halek and Raesh rendered Lucrecia paste. Jakardros was in the door pumping arrows into Kaven, and by the end of the second round Kaven was down as well. Raesh and Shiro scowled. They had been hoping to save Kaven once Lucrecia's influence was eliminated, but there was nothing to be done. The party all silently high-fived as Lucrecia's dead body reverted to its lamia form.
The party finished off the basement, and knew their only remaining task was to clear the second floor.

The second floor was as depressing as the first. The door to the chapel was closed, but Shiro heard movement inside and they did the usual Silenced Raesh and Halek rushing in. Jaagrath Kreeg hit hard enough he probably could have one-shot Halek. Unfortunately, he fumbled his Initiative roll and the party recognized him as a much bigger threat than most, so Raesh started Smiting Evil as she rushed in. And criticaling. A lot. Jaagrath took two rounds from Halek and Raesh, two Smite Evil criticals from Raesh, four arrows from Jakardros, and a couple arrows from Hi. And still barely fell. But the party finally hit the "200 hit points in 2 rounds" milestone, which was enough to prevent Jaagrath from hitting anyone with his ultra-nasty ogre hook.

Unfortunate Sex and Violence:

In the next room, Shiro heard the distinctive sound of lovemaking. Ogre lovemaking. Yuk! The Silenced party burst in and started hitting naked ogre flesh. Apparently Shiro really Did Not Like. First he Hasted everyone. Then when Halek missed, he used Gallant Inspiration to turn the miss into a hit. At three hits a round each, Raesh and Halek made quite the mess of Dorella and Harlock Kreeg.

The party searched the remainder of the fort, questioned Jakardros about every recognizable corpse, and even went over the parapets and the aerie with a fine-toothed comb, but still were unable to find any trace of Commander Lamatar other than his marsh-walking boots, his locket, and his effusive poetry to Myriana, which really did show that the commander was as much in love with her as she with he. Frustrated at finding no trace of him, the party went out and signaled Shalelu and Kibb. Since it was early evening, they decided to spend the night at the fort and return to Turtleback Ferry first thing in the morning.

We wrapped up around 11:40 pm, over 13 1/2 hours after we'd first met. It was a good day.

*** End of Session ***
The party increased to 9th level, with the exception of Shalelu, who'd stayed outside.

Liberty's Edge


I both love and hate shocker lizards. They're adorable and always seem to make players seek out alternatives to fighting, which can be nice for a change of pace in a combat-heavy dungeon, but the appearance of one always seems to warp the session into a discussion of how to catch it and train it (it's happened with three different groups of mine, as of RotRl).

Also, your group is lucky that your dice hate ogres. As far as I can tell, it's players that my dice hate. :P

Gluttony wrote:

I both love and hate shocker lizards. They're adorable and always seem to make players seek out alternatives to fighting, which can be nice for a change of pace in a combat-heavy dungeon, but the appearance of one always seems to warp the session into a discussion of how to catch it and train it (it's happened with three different groups of mine, as of RotRl).

Also, your group is lucky that your dice hate ogres. As far as I can tell, it's players that my dice hate. :P

Oh, just wait. As we retired for the evening all three players were talking about spending the next day (in game) trying to obtain a pair of shocker lizard eggs for Hi. So I'm sure that's going to be the first 3 hours of our next session! On the other hand, it's our first encounter with them, so I can roll with it. (Though I can't wait to see the party stumble into a room of 12 shocker lizards and learn what communal shock is all about.)

And yes, with the kind of damage the ogres dish out (I *always* had them Power Attack), I'm just as happy my players combined good tactics with good rolls to avoid a mass melee with 6+ of the things at once. My die has a remarkable predilection for 1's, but since it affects Halek and Shalelu (and any other NPCs) just as much as it does the monsters, I keep it around.

My d20s seem to love numbers in the range of 16 and higher, with a remarkable ability to roll natural 20s whenever someone uses an ability that a successful saving throw will entirely negate. Since my players own their own dice, only the monsters get to benefit from those high rolls. It generally puts the players in a "learn to adapt fast, or you die" situation. I'm surprised nobody in my RotRl group has died yet (they've just about retaken fort Rannick) considering that they're new to the game.

Grand Lodge

I think the 'cute bunny guardian' thing has been done before. The last one I recall could fly through the air decapitating its victims. :-)

My party had a similar reaction to the Shocker Lizards. Let's make them pets! They tried to 'speak with animals', but I didn't allow it. Shocker Lizards are Magical Beasts and not Animals. I made them easily spooked, and when a party member approached they attacked. But they were docile if the party kept their distance.

Lucrecia was a 'piece of cake' in your campaign. She escaped in my campaign to fight again. I am looking forward to the rematch.

Always a good read!



Note to Guttony: Your post reminded me of a DM I had for a few sessions many years ago, his 20 sided die had another 20 where the 1 was suppose to be. He was hands down the most saddistic DM I ever played under.

Was it an actually-rigged die, or did it just seem that way? Actually-rigged would be harsh.

I think I qualify as a sadomasochistic GM. I spend the buildup of each session cackling about how the upcoming encounters will surely be the ones to kill a player or two, and I definitely take great glee in seeing the occasional PC take a trip to the boneyard, but I honestly don't expect it to happen all-too-often. I also love the realization that even though the players speak to me in-game as though they hate my guts, despise every decision I make, and are physically incapable of censoring their language towards me, they also keep coming back for more, putting extensive effort into their characters, and praising my GMing during non-game time.

As for cute guardians, I've yet to find any monster that has triggered cuteness proximity better than the shocker lizard. Though perhaps a CE awakened kitten sorcerer might top it... (Must remember to find an opportunity to try this.)

Grand Lodge

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The die was actually rigged. I don't know where he got it.

Cute Bunny Guardian

Still loving it, NobodysHome. :) Bring on the rest!

mittean wrote:
Still loving it, NobodysHome. :) Bring on the rest!

I know, I know, it's been a while.

With Thanksgiving here in the States, our normal schedules got disrupted (pesky families!), and everyone's going into RotRL withdrawal. This weekend got booked up before we could do anything about it, so our next game is probably going to be Monday the 3rd, though I'm hearing hints of Thursday. Failing that it'll be Friday the 8th. (Un)fortunately, my wife and I are off for our 25th anniversary the weekend after that, and it is unlikely that I will be GMing that weekend (and hold your inappropriate comments! You know who you are)!

But we'll definitely resume ASAP, and the whole group wants to get back to a weekly schedule.

Thanks for the support!

EDIT: OK, Mittean, what did you do? I posted this and 7 minutes later got an e-mail from our friends canceling our Friday plans, so it looks like we're going to do RotRL this Friday after all. I call foul play!

Grand Lodge

Happy Anniversary!

It is OK for me to have an inappropriate comment, because in two weeks my wife and I celebrate our 26th Anniversary. ;-p

We too have been on a hiatus. I am hoping we will get to play some this Thursday. It has been three weeks since we played.

I too look forward to your next post.

Update: Next game is Saturday, December 8, 2012.

So happy anniversary, Mazra, and sorry we're such a slow read all of a sudden, but as I said, Thanksgiving caused quite the bit of mayhem on our schedules...

We're trying to do a 3-game week, with games on December 3, 7, and 8, but the weather will almost certainly reduce that to the 7th and 8th, and my writeup of that long of a session will take forever...

(Yeah, yeah, I'm in California, so 'weather' is too strong of a word for what we get around here, but Shiro's player is a 45-minute motorcycle commute during rush hour, or a 2.5-hour car commute, and he doesn't bike in the rain.)

NobodysHome we're almost neighbors I see your in SF. I'm located in Santa Cruz.

Matthew Bellizzi wrote:
NobodysHome we're almost neighbors I see your in SF. I'm located in Santa Cruz.

Technically Albany (stuck between Berkeley and El Cerrito), but when I say "Albany" everyone assumes New York, in spite of the Best Game Ever (Runequest from the Chaosium) originating right out of a basement here in little old Albany! ;-)

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Bellizzi wrote:
NobodysHome we're almost neighbors I see your in SF. I'm located in Santa Cruz.

And I'm in between the two of you, in San Jose. I'm running RotRL, too (at a FLGS; we've got two tables now, and ten players!). Fortunately I had an extra copy of the AP, so I could lend one to our 2nd GM when the group grew so large I decided to split it. I've just got a third copy - the super-special Deluxe Edition arrived today!

I'm not in California. However, I work out of LA all the time. I fly down there to three times a month easily.

And as for your Friday game? I work in mysteries ways ;-) Gotta get my fix.

So looking forward to tomorrow's game!

Update: We got a fairly long session in on Saturday (through Turtleback Ferry and Skull's Crossing), and it'll probably take 'til Wednesday or so for it to get posted here.

Favorite critter so far: The Skullripper. What a neat idea!

Least favorite moment: A raging Halek double-criticalling the Skullripper before it popped anyone's head off. It now holds the dubious distinction of taking the most one-hit damage in the campaign so far...

Oh no! Do I sense a new Silver Tsuto recipient on the way?

Grand Lodge

The Skullripper is cool. It is a truly lethal creature. I look forward to the tale.

Now you need a Halek award for when a PC exceptionally defeats the DMs nastiest monsters, or foils his most nefarious plans.

I think that one is called the Silver Raesh has demonstrated so many times. :)

Gluttony wrote:
Oh no! Do I sense a new Silver Tsuto recipient on the way?

Oh, my dice were streaky like you wouldn't believe. I earned 5 of the 6 fumble cards drawn that day, but also had two double criticals and another two or three singles.

I'd have to say Halek "pulled a backwards Xanesha". He hit himself for full damage against a troll (in the same full-round action that he crit said troll). He knocked himself unconscious against Grazuul and nearly got coup de graced. And then he saved Shalelu's life with a double crit. So he's getting the Silver Tsuto for sure.

And Mittean, I think you just made Raesh's player's week! As soon as I get in touch with her I'm going to make her check the thread!

Finally, Mazra, I will not name an award after a GM NPC, even if my NPCs were particularly ruthless to my monsters this time. (Hi got saved by the other double critical, so my dice were definitely in a "Let's make the NPCs look insanely good" mode, which is never fun as a GM.)

Anyway, I know, I know, "Get to typing, you! You've got a summary to write up!!"

NobodysHome wrote: dice were definitely in a "Let's make the NPCs look insanely good" mode, which is never fun as a GM.)

Ugh, I know that feeling. It's always "no really guys, I just added in this NPC of my own creation because I thought the AP was a bit lacking in this section. They're meant to assist you, not outshine you." which is then immediately followed by a string of 19s and 20s for that NPC and automatic suspicion from the players that I've created my own little pet NPC.

Grand Lodge

NobodysHome wrote:

Finally, Mazra, I will not name an award after a GM NPC, even if my NPCs were particularly ruthless to my monsters this time. (Hi got saved by the other double critical, so my dice were definitely in a "Let's make the NPCs look insanely good" mode, which is never fun as a GM.)

Good point! But that was a monster attack on a particularly vicious creature. It likely saved a PC or two.

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