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Once again, Hi's player contributed to the final events at the infernal engine, but didn't get a chance to do a thorough edit, so I may post a correction or two...

08-Dec-2012 Game
As mentioned previously, for me this game was dominated by streaky dice. Hi had another near-death experience, but I think the major theme of this session had to be the major friction between the PCs caused by the soul-sucking nature of Skull's Crossing's infernal engines. It's the first time the characters have had such an open conflict, and the roleplaying next session should be spectacular.

I am happy to report that Halek returned to his clumsy ways, earning the Silver Tsuto Award not just for criticalling a troll and then hitting himself on the same round, but for following that up in the very next fight with the lovely, "Fall unconscious for 1d6 rounds" fumble on his first swing at Grazuul. He blew his Fortitude save as well (he was really on a roll), and Shiro had to take an attack of opportunity from Grazuul just to save his barbarian tail! Way to go, Halek! It's one thing when you injure yourself. When you injure yourself, open yourself up to a coup de grace, and force your teammates to take massive damage just to save you, you've earned a Silver Tstuto through and through.

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17-Neth-4707 (continued from last game)

The party searched for an adequate place to rest; Shiro and Jakardros preferred a place near the main entrance to the keep to ensure no one would accost them unawares, while Hi preferred a place in a tower, one level below the pouring rain. Shalelu agreed with Hi, Shiro chose to sleep somewhere near Shalelu, and the matter was settled; the party stayed in a tower for an uneventful night, with Raesh, Halek, Shalelu, and Jakardros trading off watches.

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18-Neth-4707

While Jakardros fervently wanted to stay and defend the fort, and Hi was tempted by the chance to capture a Shocker Lizard egg and try to tame a shock lizard, the party eventually decided to head down the trail to Turtleback Ferry, get some new recruits for the Black Arrows, and reinforce the fort before the seemingly-inevitable next ogre attack. As they traversed the switchbacks through the seemingly-endless rain, Shiro noticed that the river was far higher than it should have been; in fact, it seemed to be overflowing its banks.
Sure enough, the river was at least twenty feet higher than usual, and the party immediately knew that this would be trouble for Turtleback Ferry, as most of the town was right on the river. Shiro looked upriver, and thought he could faintly make out a white sheet, perhaps a waterfall, on one side of Skull's Crossing (the dam), where no waterfall should be. They decided to hurry to town to find out how the villagers were doing. Unfortunately, the bridge over the Skull River was under a foot of water. Fortunately, the bridge was made of reinforced stone and wood, so it was surviving the massive force of the river against it. The party roped themselves off, crossed the river, and proceeded up the other side. As they walked up the hill, they heard a massive cracking behind them. Huge green tentacles, as if belonging to an octopus a hundred feet long, had wrapped around the bridge. Some massive creature was trying to prevent itself from being washed downstream! As they watched, the bridge crumbled beneath its weight and whatever it was was washed down the river, straight towards Turtleback Ferry.

While the farms north of town seemed relatively unscathed, the party walked into town to see half the town flooded. Even worse, there had obviously been a church service going on when the town went under; tied to the roof of the cathedral was the red turtle ferry with eight small children in it. A woman, probably their teacher, was helping the last little girl board the ferry. Mayor Maelin Shreed stood with her, steadying the boat, glowing like a miniature star and with phantasmic antlers sprouting from his head. Even from a distance, Shiro could tell that the ferry would not hold his weight. Further (with a freakin' 31 Sense Motive), Shiro knew that Mayor Shreed knew full well that saving the children would be his last act on the mortal plane. Erastil was obviously greatly pleased with Shreed's devotion. The party had a brief discussion about how certain other clerics of certain other small towns (*cough* *cough* *Sandpoint* *cough* *cough*) could learn a thing or two from Mayor Shreed, and decided then and there that Mayor Shreed would not die that day. They quickly tied several ropes together, gathered two dozen stout volunteers who had been watching the tableau unfold from the still-safe eastern shore, and Hi flew out with the rope, intending to hand it to Mayor Shreed. Unfortunately, the nightbelly boa that had been planning on having Tabitha Kramm for dinner spotted the small, tasty morsel flying above it, and easily plucked Hi out of the sky, grappling him. Hi tried to cast a spell, but the boa easily hit him with its attack of opportunity and caused his spell to fail. Shiro Hasted the party and started performing. Raesh, Shalelu, and Halek shot at the boa to little apparent effect. Mayor Shreed dove into the water and touched Hi, casting Cure Moderate Wounds while hopelessly failing his Swim roll, ensuring he would start drowning the very next round. On its turn, the boa had a choice to make: Drag Hi underwater and drown his remaining hit points, or stay above water and constrict him to death. Considering the extra 1d6+10 from constriction, and the seemingly-safe situation, the boa decided to spend a round finishing off Hi, and caused him massive extra damage. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to send Hi to negative hit points.

Then came Jakardros. I rolled a 20. No problem! It's just a crit from a composite longbow, right? Another 20. Oh, carp! This is going to be an unhappy boa! An 18. Ouch. Needless to say, the boa did not survive a 60+ hit point arrow, and fell unconscious into the water, freeing Hi. Hi flew to the mayor and touched him, casting Fly, and the mayor made a miraculous Fly roll (a natural 18) to get back to the roof of the church. Things were looking up!

Then the GM decided that Hi really needed to die that day, and Black Magga surfaced right next to him, devouring the unconscious nightbelly boa in a single bite. Unfortunately, Raesh had other ideas, invoked Smite Evil, and nailed Black Magga with a composite bow arrow. Oh, the pain! Oh, the agony! Black Magga knew who she'd be eating next round! Raesh commanded the villagers to flee... there was little if any argument. Halek, Shalelu, and Jakardros shot arrows almost-ineffectually, though Jakardros criticalled yet again and got through her DR on his second arrow. As Black Magga headed for the PCs on shore, Hi took his declared action and dropped a fireball on her, blowing through her SR as if it didn't exist. (And who didn't give her any fire resistance, darn it??!?!) Unperturbed, Black Magga breathed on all the PCs on shore, confusing all of them. Hilarity ensued as Raesh beat the living tar out of Jakardros, Shalelu and Halek spent their rounds stabbing themselves, and Jakardros decided he didn't like himself either and stabbed himself some more. Hi dropped another fireball on Black Magga, blew through her SR again, and she'd had enough; whoever this gnome was, he was ouchy, and she was in no shape to take him on. As she fled, Raesh came out of her confusion and shot at her, but Black Magga's armor protected her, and she escaped to fight another day. Raesh, mildly repentant, healed Jakardros of the wounds she had inflicted.

Exhausted but triumphant, the party helped the kids, the teacher, and Mayor Shreed to shore, had the villagers gather what they could, and led the entire town to higher ground in the Ashwood forest. Shiro made an excellent Oratory roll to convince the villagers of the dangers of their Sihedron tattoos, and the party soon learned that over half the town had been convinced to receive the tattoos from Lucrecia in exchange for added perks at the Paradise. The party showed Mayor Shreed the Sihedron Medallion as an example, explaining that the souls of those who died wearing the symbol were forfeit, and the mayor innocently asked, "So why isn't that one bad?" The party exchanged alarmed glances, and into the Bag of Holding went the Sihedron Medallion.
GM Note: Curses!
That evening was one of triage and town management: The townsfolk, fearing for their very souls, were willing to have their tattoos cut off. Raesh gathered the wounded in a tightly-packed circle and channeled positive energy to heal them. The tattoos were burned in a massive bonfire. Shiro set up a couple of tiny huts for the sick and elderly, and the town spent a restless night in the rain in the woods. It was clear they had only one possible course: Move the town to Fort Rannick.

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19-Neth-4707

The party led the entire town of Turtleback Ferry on a 'forced march' through the rain to Fort Rannick. While the walk itself was a relatively-easy 10-mile stroll, the driving rain and the river crossing with only a single ferry boat turned it into a 16-hour ordeal. Fortunately for the NPCs, the GM continued to roll poorly on the encounter table, and they arrived at Fort Rannick at roughly 10:00 pm that night. Shalelu noted ogre tracks in the mud, and the party went ahead to explore the fort. After half an hour of fruitless searching, they determined an ogre scouting party had come to the fort, found its denizens slaughtered, and fled. They led the townsfolk into the courtyard, set the most elderly and feeble up in the keep, and set the more stout-hearted hunters and fishermen to clearing out the atrocities the ogres had left behind. Within an hour, a huge bonfire was burning in the courtyard, burning the stained furniture and many of the ogre corpses. Jakardros raided the hidden armory and armed a dozen men. By midnight, the party was fairly sure that the villagers could hold the keep for several days at least; water was a non-issue, they had enough wood outside and enough craftsmen inside to rebuild the gates, they had at least a dozen fighting men who could shoot decently, and they had brought at least two days of food with them. They settled down for the evening, safe in Fort Rannick, and Mayor Shreed blessed the people of the town and the PCs for enduring such ordeals.

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20-Neth-4707

Jakardros stayed behind to manage the defense and rebuilding of Fort Rannick, while Shalelu, Hi, Halek, Raesh, and Shiro headed for the dam. The problem was obvious as soon as they were within a mile of the dam: The skull-shaped spillways intended to release pressure in a controlled manner if the Storval Deep flooded were not working; they were all closed, and instead water was flowing over a breach in the top of the dam. As they approached, they spotted large shapes hammering away at the left (westward) side. Hi used his newly-learned Dimension Door to teleport the party to the top of the bridge on the eastern side. They Silenced themselves and opened the door to the control tower.

Now, riddle me this: You have a group of 4 trolls. Their description reads that they "hide among the fungus hanging down along the walls". With no Stealth skill. So who the heck are they hiding from? Answer: Ogres. And pretty much nobody else. The trolls rolled a combined 6 on their Stealth. Yes. That was their fully-modified Stealth roll. Six. My description had to match this fiasco, so I ruled that they had completely covered their heads with fungus, hiding themselves from each other's view, but otherwise being completely visible. Raesh walked in and started beating the regenerative stuffing out of them. Halek joined her. One of the trolls, not content with merely being the worst hider in the entire AP, decided to fumble and daze himself to boot. Way to go, Mr. Troll! The fight was a laugher. The only tense moment was when Halek criticalled Mr. Dazed Idiot, killed him, then fumbled on the follow-through and hit himself, doing the most damage to any party member of the day so far. Hi happily dripped Acid Splash all over the unconscious trolls, ending their lives without a second thought.

They explored the control tower, found the nests of 14 trolls, wondered where the rest were, and finally came upon a stone door leading to stairs down. Strange writing in blood was on the door, but none of them could read it, so they opened the door and headed down.

Grazuul had an awesome first round. His surprise round hit Raesh for 40 points in a single hit. His low Initiative let the party members go first, and Raesh hit him for a bit of damage, but Halek ran up, fumbled, and knocked himself unconscious. Time for a coup de grace! Shiro sacrificed himself to save Halek, taking a 36-point attack of opportunity to drag Halek to safety. Unfortunately for Grazuul, he'd finally pissed off Raesh. She didn't even bother smiting. She just walked up and went against him toe-to-toe. It was ugly. For Grazuul. He really didn't have much of a say in the outcome. He just doesn't have a tactic to deal with, "Getting your tail handed to you by someone who's just waaaaaay better than you," so he died uneventfully. And REALLY painfully. Yes, Shalelu was filling him with arrows, Hi was blasting away, and Shiro was performing. But Raesh was just kicking his a$$ old-school. They looted his corpse, were properly impressed by his adamantine trident, woke up Halek, and proceeded. As they moved on, Raesh took Halek aside. "Halek. You have been getting sloppy. Please shape up."

The GM managed to suppress a giggle as they moved into the dam's control room, seeing the small model of the dam in miniature and trying to figure out what it did. Shalelu crit her perception, spotted the skull ripper clinging to the ceiling, and put an arrow in it. Taking offense, it dropped from the ceiling and ripped into Shalelu, pinning her in one pincer and preparing to rip her pretty little head clean off. Everyone had a single round to save her life. Raesh missed and started cursing in several languages. Shiro gleefully Greased Shalelu, because Greasing elves is what he does, and added a Gallant Inspiration when her escape check failed, pushing her just high enough to get loose. Halek raged for the first time in the session and wheeled back with his earthbreaker. Raesh spoke. "Halek, hit it." Sometimes I hate Raesh. An 18 on the first roll was enough to start things off. The second hit was a 20, 20, 15. Fully raging. The damage bonus alone was 126 points, and I had to roll 14d6 on top of that. 170 hit points later, Halek had pulled out his lobster bib and was digging in. The double crit was 149 points, for the biggest single hit of the campaign so far. Shiro dispelled the Grease from Shalelu and used Prestidigitation to clean her up. She hugged him. Shiro grinned.

Unfortunately, the party couldn't figure out the dam controls. They tried opening the miniature skulls, but this had no effect on the actual spillways. A horrific series of Spellcraft rolls later, the group decided to search the rest of the control tower. Eventually, they came to a room where two pit fiends had been imprisoned to power the dam: Avaxial still survived in one prison, but the other pit fiend had long since perished.

Negotiations with Avaxial were long and fruitless. He was willing to do almost anything to secure his freedom, but Raesh did not trust him, and would not free him under any circumstances. Every time he offered a promise, she and Hi pointed out how he could twist that promise.
GM Note: My favorite one was when he promised not to harm anyone or anything for as long as he was stuck in this plane, and that he would return to his plane as soon as he was strong enough. Hi immediately asked, "And how long after that would it take you to return to this plane?" He stammered and eventually had to answer, "Immediately," at which point that bargain was off.
Shiro and Raesh argued about which of them was more appropriate to power the other side of the dam, knowing nothing more than Avaxial's description of "your soul being slowly sucked out of you". Hi insisted that grabbing an ogre and stuffing him into the machine was a far more practical solution. Shalelu agreed with Hi. Halek remained silent. Both Shiro and Raesh agreed that no ogre's soul would be sacrificed to the infernal machine.
Knowing full well that once the spillways were open, every guardian on the dam would come for them, the party decided to first exterminate said guardians, and then return. Avaxial indicated his willingness to wait, and to continue negotiations with such pleasant company. Raesh was unimpressed.

The poor exhausted ogres on the top of the dam are barely worth mentioning. Shiro Silenced them as Hi hit them with a fireball. They didn't get to act before Hi hit them with a second fireball and Shalelu crit their leader, killing him outright. Only one ogre survived the double fireball attack, and Raesh made any question of dragging him to the infernal engine moot by fumbling her Heal save and killing him. Sometimes Sarenrae works in mysterious ways...

Gorger and Chaw the ettin ran up to confront the attackers, got beaten senseless almost immediately, and the party questioned Gorger. A natural 20 on his Diplomacy roll allowed Shiro to question him thoroughly: Gorger and Chaw had originally been paid in food to guard the entrance to the Skulltaker tribe's domain (the trolls), but had accepted bribes (of food and gold) to let the ogres in, resulting in the current war on the top of the dam. He was extremely remorseful, and offered to go back to the Skulltakers. On being informed that the Skulltakers were dead, he wept, and seemed truly remorseful. Unfortunately, further questioning indicated that he was not remorseful about eating the flesh of sentient beings, nor could he understand why you wouldn't do such a thing, so, over Hi's protestations, Raesh sentenced him to die for his crimes and slit his throats.

Gorger and Chaw had a remarkable amount of treasure; on top of the gold, platinum, and jewels, they found a phylactery of positive channelling (yeah, thanks, make the paladin even MORE powerful) and a case with five scrolls in it: cone of cold, hold monster, telekinesis, Resist Energy: Fire, and Permanence.
GM Note: And what does it say about you as a GM when you slip in a pair of scrolls designed specifically to make Rilka's scarf fireproof, and the entire table turns to you and says, "That's not in the AP! You made that up so Hi can fireproof Rilka's scarf!" On the other hand, they're using a scroll of Permanence on a scarf, so I will argue that my group might lack the power gamer gene...

Lacking any further enemies, the party returned to the infernal engine. Raesh and Shiro continued their argument as to who should go in first. (Seriously. This argument took almost an hour in real time. It was awesomeness! Hi's player and I were just watching raptly, mouths agape, as Raesh's and Shiro's players went at it, completely in character.) Finally, they asked who was willing to go in. To their amazement, Halek raised his hand along with them. They promptly vetoed Halek and agreed to go in together. Avaxial assured them that it wouldn't work, and one of them would be taken and the other wouldn't be.

Shiro said that he was going to raise the portcullis so that when they finally settled who was going in, it wouldn't be in the way. As soon as it was high enough to get through, Raesh made her move for the platform. Because Shiro had been expecting exactly such a maneuver, I ruled that it was an initiative roll to see who got in first. Shiro won the roll, dashed in, and lost a permanent level. Raesh screamed in frustration at him. The spillways opened, Shiro passed out from the pain, Avaxial was burnt to ash, and Turtleback Ferry (and the dam) was saved. Hi, Halek, and Shalelu just gaped in surprise.

The trip back to Fort Rannick was silent. Raesh seethed, any other emotions hidden behind a stony mask. Shiro remained proud of his actions. Hi, Halek, and Shalelu remained silent, not wanting to set off any further confrontations. At Fort Rannick, Raesh refused to bunk in the fort, and instead knelt in prayer outside in the driving rain. Shalelu came out and sat next to her silently, keeping vigil over the paladin as she prayed. After a couple of hours, Shiro, in fox form, came out to join them. Raesh did not acknowledge his existence.

Shiro failed his Fortitude save, rendering the negative level permanent.

The party leveled up to Level 10

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, December 22, 2012 (Yeah, yeah, the world's going to end the day before, but I figure SSPF will go on...)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Another awesome read. I'll be thoroughly saddened if the world ends before we hear the full tale of Raesh, Hi, and Shiro. Also, does this mean that Hi will no longer end up naked at the end of every battle? That's a little disappointing, though I suppose it does tarnish the "mighty multiple-village-saving heroes" look.

Really enjoyed what you did with Mayor Shreed. I've a paladin of Erastil in my group, so I think I'll have to steal that (that is, if they survive Xanesha next week).


I can just imagine what those trolls must have been thinking.

"I can't see them, therefore they can't see me. It's FOOLPROOF!"

GM Sneakyness:

Spoiler:
Also maybe you should have included only one of the two scrolls among Gorger and Chaw's treasure, and put the other one elsewhere. I bet suspicion wouldn't have been raised if they only picked up the scroll of permanency among the by-the-book treasure, found the other scroll in an entirely different area, or maybe even in a different dungeon.


Gluttony wrote:

I can just imagine what those trolls must have been thinking.

"I can't see them, therefore they can't see me. It's FOOLPROOF!"

GM Sneakyness:
Also maybe you should have included only one of the two scrolls among Gorger and Chaw's treasure, and put the other one elsewhere. I bet suspicion wouldn't have been raised if they only picked up the scroll of permanency among the by-the-book treasure, found the other scroll in an entirely different area, or maybe even in a different dungeon.

While I appreciate the spoiler tag a great deal, the cat's already out of the bag, so I might as well respond in public.

I was worried that a scroll of Energy Resistance would get used or sold too quickly, and a scroll of Permanency might have been used to give Shiro permanent Darkvision or other such nonsense, so I put them together to make it clear what they were supposed to do with them. Unfortunately, it was a little *too* clear...

And yes, even I *loved* the ludicrously unstealthy trolls.


ubiquitous wrote:

Another awesome read. I'll be thoroughly saddened if the world ends before we hear the full tale of Raesh, Hi, and Shiro. Also, does this mean that Hi will no longer end up naked at the end of every battle? That's a little disappointing, though I suppose it does tarnish the "mighty multiple-village-saving heroes" look.

Really enjoyed what you did with Mayor Shreed. I've a paladin of Erastil in my group, so I think I'll have to steal that (that is, if they survive Xanesha next week).

Oh, they hated Zantus so much I figured I owed them a *real* town cleric. Shreed's definitely devoted. He's just so low-level it pretty much means, "risking his life at every opportunity to protect the town", but isn't that what Erastil is all about?

I do enjoy having every cleric/paladin manifest their gods/goddesses when they do something particularly noteworthy; just makes roleplaying them all the more satisfying. Just wait 'til Raesh finds and exterminates that nest of gugs just outside the orphanage... oh, wait...

Good luck on the big X -- I only killed one of my party members with her, but it took a major fumble on her part to avoid more deaths (in my mind -- the players disagree, but I have her stat block).

Grand Lodge

I like how your party repopulated Fort Rannick. Hey, just move the entire population of Turtleback Ferry via forced march. Makes sense!

I also like the mass tattoo removal. I may need to borrow that one.

It is official your gaming group has passed ours. Our last session ended with a retreat and rest from the Skullripper. (I know. I am way behind on posts.) :)

Look forward to your next entry.


OK, I know, I'm now three full sessions behind my group (December 22, 28, and 29). But the December 22 session has been all written up for days now, and we're waiting on Raesh(!!) of all people to do her edits (I usually get hers within 2-3 hours of sending), then Shiro wants to do a second set of edits post-Raesh.

Obviously a very significant setting in my players' minds.

So just so's people know where we are, they cleared out the Kreeg Clanhold under Hook Mountain, returned Lamatar to Myriana, saved Sandpoint from attack, and took a field trip to Thistletop to feed Yippy.

They'd like to march on Jorgenfist, but they had so much fun on the 29th just roleplaying through two days in Sandpoint that they're thinking of spending several sessions just hanging out with NPCs in Sandpoint and Magnimar before actually continuing the plot.

Have I mentioned that I love my players?


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22-Dec-2012 Game
While my die was extraordinarily bad this session (I think I rolled around fifteen 1's as opposed to two or three 20's all day), it mostly distributed itself evenly between NPCs and monsters. The hill giant's gross incompetence at hitting Halek was made up for by Shalelu hitting less than half her shots, against giants no less. And the only two fumble cards drawn for the day were one by Halek (ah, Halek, what would we do without your fumbling ways?) and one by Lamatar.

However, the Silver Tsuto Award was won in a landslide by the annis hags. After FINALLY finding where the coven rules are covered (in Bestiary I under "Green Hag" for those who can't find them), I spent a bit over an hour carefully planning out their tactics based on the party's make-up: They were going to Forcecage the party, keeping Raesh and Halek away from them, then Baleful Polymorph Hi into a bunny, Charm Shiro, and spam Raesh and Halek with Baleful Polymorphs until they had a nice set of dinner bunnies. At least that was their plan. Until they rolled three 1's in a row (initiative and the first two Reflex saves against Hi's introductory fireball), followed by a 6 (the third Reflex save) and a 2 (the concentration check to get off their Forcecage). By the time their initiative came up, they'd lost over half their hit points to Hi's fireball, and a Hasted Raesh and Halek were among them. Not good for CR 6 hags. At all. Thanks for wasting my morning, stupid hags! I thought you'd be the fight of the day...

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20-Neth-4707 (continued from last game)

Raesh, Shalelu, and Shiro sat in the pouring rain for a while. Finally, Shiro stood up, turned into his native form, and walked over to face Raesh. She did not acknowledge his presence.

"Rae'Sheleth paladin of Sarenrae I, Shiroi-Jikkou-Sha, a bard, follower of Shelyn and your ally, seek an audience." Shiro, saw that Raesh was in the middle of a fairly long prayer so he waited patiently. The gravity of the situation was perhaps evident as he was never in Kitsune form in the rain, he never called her by her full name except to strangers, and he never, ever, used his own full name. Some 20 minutes passed until she finished her current prayer and paused long enough for him to speak without being rude.

"Rae'Sheleth, I would speak to you in two ways. First, I would speak to you as an ally. Ever since we met, you have been our leader, and we cannot afford to lose you. I cannot be our leader, because I do not have a strong enough will for it. Halek cannot be our leader. He is a harrowed barbarian, and wants nothing more than to return to his homeland. Hi is a gnome, and everyone knows that you don't take a gnome as a leader. Shalelu cannot be our leader. She is too much of a loner.
Our party cannot exist without a leader, and so our party cannot exist without you. If you were to have stepped on that platform, and it had turned you to ash, we would not have been able to continue, and our cause would have been lost. Even worse, if you had stepped on that platform and turned to ash, I do not think I would have been brave enough to step on that platform after you, and we might not have opened the dam.
I was convinced that the devil was playing a trick, and it was a matter of luck who would be turned to ash, the person who stepped on the platform, or the devil. I am a very lucky man, so I was the correct choice. Today I'm alive and the devil is a pile of ash. Even more than that, the party could have continued without me, but it cannot continue without you. I was the correct choice to step on the platform, and I hope you will acknowledge that.
"I would next speak to you as a friend, but first I must speak to Shalelu."

Shiro stood up and walked over to Shalelu. She looked up at him and smirked. "You know we're right next to each other. You don't have to keep walking around as if it's some great distance."

Shiro spoke. "Shalelu, you are the deadliest archer I've ever met and you are a valuable asset to our party. Yet I see two of you. There is the warrior you present to the world, tough, demanding, and formidable. And yet when I had two scrolls to turn people into animals, you immediately volunteered, and I saw you jumping about gleefully, sniffing things and playing with Raesh, and that was when I decided that you were my friend, and that there was much more to you than you have shown us. I do not know for certain why that softer Shalelu stays hidden, but I would like to be your friend, and to help her come out more. I think I know what happened. I saw a bit of it when we entered Whitewillow: You had a mortal lover once, and he died, and it hurt you greatly. This explains why you so objected to Jakardros' relationship with your mother, and why you reacted so strongly when you entered the Whitewillow. You carry this burden with you, and refuse to let anyone get close to you. No one who can play so freely in fox form should spend so much of her time alone and away from others.
So Shalelu, I will tell you this. As your ally I will do my best to inspire you to greatness, to aid you in battle, and should you be in dire straights I will use my magics as best I can to protect you. As a friend, should you ever be lonely and in need of company I will gladly spend a night with you, allowing you to protect me while I sleep and doing the same for you."

"And if I should need a man?", questioned Shalelu suspiciously, "I suppose you are offering."
"Alas, no...", replied Shiro, "Perhaps someday, but that is not what I was offering. I wish to be a friend and I wish to spend time with that playful fox you have hidden so well."
And I would ask you one more question, and I hope that you will forgive me and not hurt me for asking it: Are you and Raesh secret lovers?"

Shalelu looked at Shiro seriously, but quizzically. "Why would I hurt you for asking such a question? As for the answer, it is not my place to give you an answer. You must ask Raesh."

Shiro thanked Shalelu, stood up, and walked back to Raesh. This time Shalelu smiled openly. Shiro spoke again. "This time, Raesh, I would speak to you as a friend. There are four people in this land I would die to save. The first is Rilka, as I could not stand the look Hi would give if he knew I could have saved her and did not. The second is Ameiko as she has taught me many things about myself and I greatly enjoy her company. The third is Shalelu because when she was transformed into a tiny fox she captured my heart and when she changed back my imagination. And lastly, there is you Raesh. You were my first true friend once I left home. You sat beside me on the deck of the boat that brought us here, staring at the stars as if you had never seen them before and though I often do things some would consider foolish; you do not judge me. I care a great deal for you and as soon as you took that first step towards the platform you did for me as much as any friend could ever do. It did not matter to me which of us arrived first, but that you tried.
Oh, and one last question; Raesh, are you and Shalelu secret lovers? I'm dying to know!"

"What do you mean by that?" Raesh replied.
"Are you in love with Shalelu?"
"No."

Curious and confused, Shiro headed inside to get the water and mud out of his fur. Several of Turtleback Ferry's women happily volunteered to help him, and he was soon dried, combed, and brushed, and went upstairs to bed.
Raesh remained outside in the rain, kneeling in prayer for the night, with Shalelu watching over her.

=====
21-Neth-4707

After her morning devotions, Raesh returned to Fort Rannick, accompanied by Shalelu. They met Halek on Jakardros on their way in, Jakardros was grim. He explained that, while they had over 400 people willing to help, and almost as many able, they just didn't have the tools and supplies necessary to rebuild the fort, nor did they have enough food to survive for more than a week, even assuming the hunters managed to find game in the Kreegwoods. He said, "I know I have no right to ask this of you, but if you can get word to Ilsurian or Magnimar of our plight, and get supplies here, I can see that you are rewarded."

Raesh scowled. "Of course we will bring you help. And we need no reward. It is our duty."

Once Hi and Shiro woke up much later that morning, the party had a brief discussion as to where to go. Shalelu warned that Raesh would be shot on sight in Ilsurian, so they decided on Magnimar. Hi felt he remembered the lobby of the Blue Bunyip well enough to get them there, but he could only teleport four people. Shiro cheerfully volunteered to go into the bag of holding; he'd always wondered what it was like in there. So he clambered in, forgetting to bring a light with him in the excitement, and found it dark and crowded. Fortunately, he could provide his own light, and found himself in a fairly cramped black 'closet' with black curtains for walls. Hi teleported the party to Magnimar without incident.
While the concierge at the Blue Bunyip was obviously quite surprised to have them appear in his lobby, he quickly regained his composure and asked them whether they would be wanting rooms. After a few comical moments, the party remembered to let Shiro out of the bag, and Shiro told the concierge that he wasn't sure they would need any, but gave the concierge 5 platinum pieces, just in case. The concierge promptly turned around and started ordering the staff (in Varisian) to vacate the occupants from "our favored guests' favorite rooms", make sure said occupants were made comfortable in their new accommodations, and prepare the rooms for the party. Unfortunately for the concierge, Hi spoke Varisian, and politely requested that since the party did not know if they would be staying the night, any guests currently in their old rooms not be disturbed. And that should they need a room for the night, the party would be quite happy to stay in any available rooms, but his efforts were appreciated.

Their first stop was at the temple of Iomedae, where the paladins on duty crisply saluted Raesh and allowed the party to proceed within without a word. An acolyte greeted them, and Shiro attempted to explain his plight. Unfortunately, the acolyte promptly rolled a 1 on his understanding of the matter, and rushed the party to Tira with some urgency, believing that Shiro had made a pact with a devil. After the party cleared up the situation, Tira called a healer. She apologized that she would have to charge the party for the Restoration for Shiro, as they were heroes of Magnimar and beyond, but the temple could not afford to donate so much diamond dust, even to a party so worthy. Raesh retorted that Tira should never apologize for charging for healing, and promptly paid the fee. Shiro was restored. As the party prepared to leave, Raesh asked for a few minutes of Tira's time. Tira agreed, and the rest of the party agreed to meet Raesh at the Blue Bunyip.

Raesh started. She began by reporting in full the incident at the dam.
"High Cleric, I need your advice. As a paladin, my goddess grants me a portion of her grace that I may withstand many things that others cannot. In return, I must protect those around me. I have failed in that duty. By allowing Shiro to reach the pedestal before me, I failed in my duty to protect my allies."

"Rae'Sheleth. You know of the order of Iomedae. We are warriors. We lead parties against the Worldwound. Many who come with us are not paladins, but simple warriors, or even common mercenaries. And they fall. Yet do we feel we must seek atonement for all who die in battle for our cause? Do we feel we must step in front of every sword blow, every talon, and every curse in order to protect those foolish enough to join us in our quest to rid the world of evil? Of course not. They volunteered for our cause, one and all. They join us because they respect our leadership. They trust in us to do the right thing. They trust in us not to throw their lives away needlessly. And if we repay that trust, and fight the best fight we can, and ensure we are not losing lives needlessly, then we need not seek atonement.
"Your comrades have given you a great gift. They have made you their leader. They trust in you with their lives. The fact that Shiro was willing to lay down his life for you for the greater good speaks so well of you it defies description. You are taking a group of men and women, who might otherwise have gone their entire lives without aspiring to much, and turned them into something great. And they respect you, and follow you from that respect. They respect your leadership so much they are willing to lay down their lives for you. That is something precious. That is something wonderful. That is NOT something to atone for.
"So, Rae'Sheleth of the Temple of Sarenrae in Absalom, I reject your atonement, because I strongly feel that no atonement is necessary. You have done nothing wrong. In fact, you have done something great, and you are leading your group to things even greater. I will not accept an apology nor an atonement for this act."

"Very well," Raesh was silent and pondered for a moment, "Your advice is sound, and I accept it. But I still feel I must perform penance, please assign me a task."
Tira smiled, "I believe our front steps need washing."
Raesh went off with an acolyte to get a bucket and scrub brush.

At the Blue Bunyip, Shiro asked Shalelu what she normally drank. While her reply of "rain water" took him back a bit, he asked the concierge whether they had any. Much to the group's amazement (a natural 20 on the availability roll), the Blue Bunyip had an elven druid working in the back that day. Shiro and Shalelu received bowls of woven leaves and grass containing fresh rainwater. While Shalelu drank hers down happily, Shiro found his a bit leafy-tasting. They decided that the next order of business was to get Halek a goat, as he hadn't had one in a long time. They headed down to the Shoanti deli they had found on their previous visit to Magnimar. There it was: The stinking building with random dead animals and parts nailed to the wall. Halek's face exploded in a grin and he rushed in. The shopkeep immediately abandoned his other customers, smiled broadly, and slapped Halek on the back, spewing something in Shoanti. And they were off. Halek pointed at various dried meats, dead animals, and strange grey putty that might once have been vegetables, and the shopkeep carefully wrapped each purchase in dried animal skins and added it to the growing pile. Halek offered Shiro, Shalelu, and Hi a bit of cindersnake jerky, which they found somewhat tasty, but a bit ashen. Hi asked for an couple of pounds of it for himself, much to the delight of the shopkeeper. The shopkeep brought out a goat. Halek promptly strapped it to his back and started drinking.
GM Note: For those new to the story, Halek drinks quite a bit of a strong Shoanti alcoholic beverage that is distilled and then stored in a goatskin. The party encourages him.
As they were totting up Halek's purchased, Shalelu asked whether they had any rock lizard. Of course they did! She gave Shiro a nibble and it was much better than the cindersnake -- more tender, with less of an ashy flavor. The entire trip cost all of 5 g.p., and the party returned to the Blue Bunyip.
After a couple of hours at the Blue Bunyip, the party grew concerned for Raesh. Shiro and Shalelu went to see what was keeping her, and saw her, on her knees, scrubbing the steps of the Temple of Iomedae with another acolyte. Shiro looked for another bucket, but there wasn't one. It was still a bit before sundown, and it looked like the scrubbing had been meticulously arranged so she would be done right at sunset. They went back to the Bunyip, and Shiro started performing.

A few minutes later, the most beautiful kitsune Shiro had ever seen walked in the door. She looked very confused. "Oh... are you performing? Er... I thought I was performing! Aw, darn it! I can never get the nights right!"
Shiro tried to reassure her that she was indeed scheduled to perform that night, but quickly learned that not only was she not the sharpest tool in the tool shed, she might have been left out in the rain to rust one time too many. Eventually, Shiro got across that he'd only been playing to pass the time while waiting for his comrade, and Umie started playing. Fortunately, her playing (a harp) was actually quite good, so as long as you didn't try to hold a conversation with her, she was quite an asset for the inn.

Shiro, thinking to repay Umie for her performance, gave some of his special tea (imported from Tian Xia) to the concierge to prepare for her. Hoping that she would appreciate the gesture, though knowing he would not be around to see.
Raesh returned from her penance, and apologized for taking up more time than she had anticipated. The party decided they needed to get Jakardros' request for more men and supplies to city hall. No one wanted to see the mayor, but they knew they had to get Jakardros' plea in. So off to city hall they went. This time, the guards let Raesh through with her weapon and without a search. Shiro, Hi, Halek, and Shalelu were going to be searched, so Shiro suggested that Halek and Shalelu wait outside. They happily consented, and Halek continued sucking on his goat. As Shiro turned to ask Shalelu whether she'd be able to manage Halek, she gently reached over, oh so gently tipping him backwards, until he plopped off of the bench and into the plants behind. "I think I can manage him," Shalelu responded.
Raesh, Hi, and Shiro tried to give the writ to the receptionist, but as soon as the receptionist read the missive, he ushered the party upstairs to the mayor's office. The group sighed as one and followed. The receptionist brushed past the mayor's assistant without a word, knocked on the mayor's door, and without waiting for a response opened it.

The party found the mayor at his desk, this time with an entire boar, complete with apple in its mouth, on a platter on the desk, along with potatoes, ale, and greens. The mayor wiped his hands on his velvet doublet as the receptionist handed him the writ. Seeing this, Shiro used prestidigitation to clean him up a bit, earning a nod of acknowledgement. The mayor read over the writ quickly and smiled a greasy smile. "Ah, wonderful! You have taken care of my Turtleback Ferry problem for me admirably! I will send supplies and men to them forthwith, to arrive in two weeks' time. In the meantime, I believe that I offered you payment for your services, and I belive that whether or not you said you were working for me, you did indeed deliver those services..."
The mayor produced three pouches of coins and put them in front of Raesh, Hi, and Shiro. Shiro spoke up, "We were also assisted by Halek the Shoanti barbarian and Shalelu the elven ranger."
"Of course, of course," the mayor produced two more pouches.
Raesh scowled and took the pouches. "I will deliver your donation to Turtleback Ferry's reconstruction fund."
She could not hear the mayor's thoughts as he mentally deducted her reward from the amount he would spend rebuilding Turtleback Ferry; had she suspected, the mayor might not have survived his supper.

The party took their leave of the mayor, and gave Halek and Shalelu their pouches. Each pouch contained 75 platinum pieces. They went to the Blue Bunyip, settled in to their rooms, and went to bed. Unfortunately, Shiro could not let a night in an inn pass without pounding on a few doors. First, he pounded on Shalelu's door. Puzzled, she answered, and Shiro hugged her. "Thank you for being my friend," Shiro said, and scurried off.
He pounded on Raesh's door, but she did not answer. After several tries, Shalelu grew concerned, knocked, and called, "Rae'Sheleth, are you well?"
Through the door, Raesh snapped, "What?"
"We were just concerned for your safety. Thank you for responding."
Shalelu returned to bed. Shiro, disappointed, went to his room and went to bed.

=====
22-Neth-4707

The party spent the day selling their loot from Skull's Crossing, and purchasing a vast amount of 'standard' gear, such as Rings of Protection, Handy Haversacks, Cloaks of Resistance, Boots of the Winterland, and other basic magical gear that they had been slow in obtaining in the past. After spending nearly 48,000 gold in the marketplace, they returned to the Blue Bunyip to decide how to feed the residents of Fort Rannick for the next week. Once there, they found that the mayor had been true to his word, and had had two large bags of holding full of tools and supplies delivered for them. Fully prepared for their return, they teleported back to Fort Rannick.

As soon as they arrived, Mayor Shreed and Jakardros dug in and started distributing supplies. The party quickly learned that few residents had eaten in the last 24 hours, and most doubted that Mayor Shreed had eaten since their exodus. Raesh grabbed him, forced a roll into his hand, and watched contentedly as he absent-mindedly gnawed on the roll while directing distribution of the rest of the food to the needy folk of Turtleback Ferry.

Jakardros reported that the bridge across the Skull River was already repaired, and some parties had made to it to Turtleback Ferry to retrieve some tools and supplies, but the tools and food in the bags of holding from Magnimar were of far greater quality, and would allow them to have the fort in working order in days, rather than weeks. The party had to admit, Mayor Grobaras had finally done something decent. By the time the bags of holding were unpacked, the citizens were fed, and the tools were sorted and laid out, it was fairly late in the evening. After a brief discussion with Jakardros about the best way to approach the mountain (northwest would take them through the territory of a powerful hill giant named Razmus who so far had not been a threat to those outside of his territory, west would take them through the dangerous Kreegwoods, and south around the peninsula would take multiple days, and they would still have to go through the Kreegwoods eventually. They decided to take the third route. The party retired, knowing that the next day they would begin their assault on Hook Mountain.

Shiro, in small fox form, was curled up in a corner of the common room. Raesh, just before retiring, approached him, knelt, and rapped on the floor next to him as if knocking at a door.
"Shiro, it has taken me some time to come to terms with events, but I need you to know that I forgive you. That it has taken so long is a reflection on me, and it will still be some time before I can forgive myself for what has transpired... but you, my friend and ally, are forgiven." With that Raesh turned and headed up the stairs to the tower room where the party had laid out their bedrolls. Shiro trotted up the stairs behind her and, once she was finally settled in her bedroll, curled up in the small of Raesh's back and went to sleep.

=====
23-Neth-4707

Hi and Shiro arose along with the rest of the party at dawn, though Shiro asked, "Do people really do things at this hour?" He summoned Phantom Steeds for the party and they rode down the Skull River, across the peninsula a few miles north of Turtleback Ferry and Claybottom Lake (Black Magga's new abode), and up the path to Bitter Hollow. They lunched in Bitter Hollow, enjoying a brief respite from the rain, and headed on foot into the Kreegwoods towards Hook Mountain.

Unfortunately for them, a family of ogrekin was flushing out food. Unfortunately for the ogrekin, Raesh beat their Perception rolls by 26 (!!) so the party was well-prepared. What might have been a neat little ambush with six regular ogrekin and two ogrekin fighters turned into a slaughter. I think one ogrekin actually got a swing in at Raesh, but I'm not positive.

As evening fell, Shalelu crit her Survival roll and found them a small cave to camp in, complete with a pool of fresh water to drink from. They set up watches. Late in the night, Shiro awoke to hear Shalelu speaking with another woman in Elven.
"No. I will not wake him. I must protect this party, and I will fight you if I must."
"I intend him no harm, but he bears the mark of my kind. I must know why. All I want is to speak with him."
"Speak with him and then drown him, or speak with him and ensnare him?"
"You take your guardianship quite seriously, young elf, but I will see him, and you will not stop me."
Shiro opened his eyes...

And was immediately in Love. An exquisite woman, naked save for a thin transparent wrap, was standing ankle-deep in the pool speaking with Shalelu. Shalelu had her bow out and an arrow nocked, but not drawn. Shiro stood up.
"Ah, you see, young elf. He is awake now, and he comes to me of his own free will. I promise I only want to speak with him."
Shalelu shook Raesh's leg. "Rae'Sheleth. I need your assistance. Do not wake any of the men."
Raesh stood up and interposed herself between Shiro and the woman. The woman looked extremely displeased, both at Raesh and at her interference.
"Do not interfere, vile one. This is not of your concern. Do not make me kill you."
"You will not harm our bard. And you are welcome to try."
Shiro stood behind Raesh, wondering at all the beautiful women arguing over him. It felt kind of good. But kind of scary. But kind of good.

The woman seemed ready to attack, thought better of it, and tried again. "I do not wish to kill him. He bears a mark I must examine. And I must speak with him. Do not interfere."
Raesh was adamant, "If you attempt to harm him, you will die."
Raesh and the woman stared each other down for a moment, and the woman finally gave up. "Please let me speak with him."
Raesh stood aside, scimitar at the ready, and Shiro looked up into the most beautiful pair of eyes he had ever seen. They looked vaguely familiar...

The woman spoke. "Tell me, young one. You bear my sister's mark, but I felt the pain of her passing many weeks ago. How can this be?"
"...?"
The woman reached out and touched the location of the incorporeal lock of hair and it flared into reality for a moment. "This is my sister's hair, though it is black instead of blonde, I would recognize it anywhere. How came you by it?"

Shiro finally understood. He explained the events of Whitewillow, and how they were on a quest to lay Myriana to rest, and Myriana had given him her blessing to aid him in this quest. The nereid's entire posture relaxed (stupid bards and their stupid Diplomacy rolls!). "You are doing a great service to my sister. Greater than you can know. You have my blessing, and neither you nor your companions will come to harm in my cave tonight."
"That has been true this entire time," Raesh interrupted.
The nereid glared at Raesh but continued. "Sleep here in safety. Save my sister from her fate. Should you need me, my name is Lyriana."
With that, she faded into the pool, and the spell over Shiro was broken.

Shiro nudged Hi awake just in time for him to blow his Will save. Because no one should miss an opportunity to see such beauty...
The party slept the rest of the night safely in the nereid's cave.
=====
24-Neth-4707

In the morning, Lyriana appeared again to give the party her blessing. Rather hilariously given his past, Shiro was the only male in the party to make his Will save the second time she appeared. Hi and Halek stood there, jaws agape, staring at the beautiful woman as Shalelu and Raesh rolled their eyes and got the party moving.
The climb up the mountain was uneventful, and even with bonuses to their Perception rolls, the party noticed the guards at the entrance to the Kreeg stronghold before the guards noticed them. Shiro cast Silence on three of Shalelu's arrows, and Halek and Raesh 'snuck' up as close as possible. As Shalelu fired, Halek and Raesh charged, engaging one ogre each. With the fighting silenced and each ogre one-on-one against a 10th-level fighting class, the ogres never had a chance.
They proceeded into the cave, through the ribcage of a monstrous (but long-dead) dragon. They noticed the Sihedron Runes carved into the bones, and were surprised that some of the carvings were at least decades old, indicating that the Kreeg clan was far more involved with the Rune Lords than anyone else they had encountered so far. They passed a monstrous 'statue' of an enormous giant wearing a hideous mask and a Sihedron Medallion. A quick Detect Magic later, and they knew that the Sihedron Medallion, though gigantic, was fully functional. They decided that the statue was most likely a long-preserved corpse affected by the Gentle Repose effect of the medallion, but they chose not to meddle with the medallion.

The next room had a deep pit, but the party did not take the time to investigate. There were more ogres down the stairs, so once again they had Shalelu fire Silenced arrows as Raesh and Halek charged down. This time one of the ogres got away to spread the alarm (in spite of Shiro Greasing the stairs) as the others tried to hold off Raesh and Halek. Shiro performed and cast Heroism on Halek. Not content with the minor winces the GM's own PC evoked whenever he hit a creature, Raesh cast Bull's Strength on Halek. Damage Mode = Stupid Hurtful.
As the party took control of the choke point, they saw a dozen ogres in an armory preparing for battle. Hi introduced them to his fireballs. The ogres Did Not Like. They gave up trying to don their armor and simply charged the (greased) stairs. Hi got them with another fireball. The survivors got to meet Raesh and stupid-mode Halek at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn't much of a fight.

The party explored the armory, destroyed the bellows, and ensured the ogres would not be forging any more weapons here, though there was a great deal of consternation over why the ogres were forging so many ogre hooks, and why many of the hooks were obviously too large for ogres to wield effectively. They checked the passageways to the mines, determined no one was coming, and proceeded through the stronghold.

Cue the GM's evil laugh as the party approached the well-prepared hags' room. Raesh peeked in. Inside was a beautiful garden, with a vibrant lawn, a crystal-clear waterfall tumbling down shimmering rocks, and a glistening fountain in the middle. Three young elven maidens cavorted around the fountain. Seeing Raesh, they smiled and beckoned to her. Raesh, being Raesh, used Detect Evil on one of them. I ruled she had to make a Will save to see through the layers of illusions piled up in the room. Raesh, being Raesh, crit her Will save. The illusions dissolved, and Raesh was left staring at a barren rocky room, littered with bones of many creatures, with three hags standing in the middle of the room, beckoning to her. She stepped back into the passageway, out of sight of the hags, and said, "Hi, we need a fireball."

The hags knew what was coming. They took cover behind a rocky outcropping, and prepared to drop a Forcecage on Shalelu, Raesh, and Halek as they did their usual fire-Silenced-arrows-and-charge-in routine. So of course, Hi turned Invisible and walked in on his own. The hags weren't expecting it, the hags didn't see it, and Hi moseyed over to a comfortable spot where he had a clear shot at the hags as Shiro Hasted Raesh and Halek.
The hags were still waiting for Shalelu to pop out when the fireball hit them. Their Initiative roll was a 1. Their Reflex saves were a 1, a 1, and a 6. Their Concentration check to drop the Forcecage on Hi was a 2.
So yeah. Three ones, a six, and a two. My die hates me.
With the extra movement provided by Haste, Raesh and Halek reached the hags in a single round and dropped two of them. Designed for hand-to-hand combat they were not. Shiro stepped in, smiled, and told me he was preparing a counterspell. So the lone remaining hag tried to bring up a cloud of fog to escape, and Shiro instantly Dispelled it (he rolled something stupid like a 30 on his caster check, just to make me sad). Raesh was faster than Halek that day, and cut down the remaining hag. Sarenrae was pleased. The hags, less so.

Proceeding through the stronghold, the party came to a junction. To the left was a shrine to Lamashtu. Neither Shiro nor Raesh saw movement in that direction, so they went right. A huge stone thundered past Raesh (stupid paladins and their stupid flat-footed AC).
There, in a large room, were two stone giants. One was sitting on a throne casting spells. The other was hurling stones at the party. Shalelu and Raesh started shooting the casting giant with arrows (Raesh Smiting Evil, of course) as Shiro buffed the party and Halek charged forward. Hi recognized that the spellcaster had cast Fly, so he cast Fly himself and soared upwards, taking the higher 'ground'. The spellcasting giant tried to Blind Raesh, but her Will save saved her. The next round was more arrow shooting, rock throwing, and spell casting, though Halek continued his charge towards the stone-throwing giant. Shiro once again delayed. This time when the spellcaster tried to Blind Raesh, Shiro Silenced his throne. Halek finally reached the stone-thrower, and he threw stones no more.
Silenced, wounded, outnumbered, with a gnome above and a barbarian below, Barl Breakbones surrendered.

They dropped the Silence field and questioned the Barl, learning that the stone giants had a new leader, a great wizard named Mokmurian, who had plans to invade all of Varisia, starting with an attack on Sandpoint using stone giants and a dragon. Raesh offered to let the Barl live if he would promise to return to the Storval Plateau, never return to the lowlands, and never again attack a smaller creature except in self-defense. The Barl eagerly agreed to these terms, but a massive Sense Motive on Raesh's part revealed that he meant none of it. Raesh quickly ruled that for his assault on Turtleback Ferry and Fort Rannick he was guilty of mass murder, and was clearly unrepentant as he would not promise not to kill smaller folk, so she sentenced him to death and carried out the execution. The Barl Did Not Like. On the Barl's body, they found a note detailing the attack on Sandpoint, and took it with them as evidence.

Before searching the Barl's treasure hoard, they returned to the shrine of Lamashtu. As they approached, Lamatar Bayden, raised as a frost wight, stood up and started firing his bow at Halek. Halek started taking massive damage. Shalelu and Halek tried to engage him in a bow fight as Raesh charged, but Halek was on the losing end of that one. As Halek's hit point loss hit the triple digits, Raesh arrived at Lamatar, Smiting Evil. She criticalled. Double criticalled. With her first hit while Smiting Evil on an undead opponent.

The two pieces of Lamatar dropped to the ground. Shiro tried to stuff him in his Handy Haversack. When I pointed out that the haversack's largest pocket could only fit 80 pounds, he responded, "Can I fit only the top half in, then?"
Raesh sighed, rolled her eyes at Shiro, and they threw a Sihedron Medallion on Lamatar's body and stuffed him in the bag of holding.
With their enemies defeated, they searched the stronghold. Much of the loot they found obviously belonged to dead Black Arrows. The party didn't even write it down; they just said, "Oh, we're donating all of that stuff to Jakardros."

Yeah. My party. Greed incarnate.

Hi had enough spells left to teleport them to Bitter Hollow, and they quickly crossed the bridge and headed for Whitewillow. All of them noticed that the rain had stopped, and the clouds were breaking up. Yap met them as soon as they left the path. "What news? What news? Have you come to help my mistress? What is happening?"
Hi replied, "We found Lamatar. We're bringing him to your mistress."
"Oh, that's wonderful! Did he say why he didn't come sooner?"
"He's not alive. He was undead."
"Oh..."

As they approached Myriana's pond, she streamed forth. Yap hid behind the party. "And what news do you bring me, my bard? I still do not feel my love!"
Shiro pulled Lamatar's body from the bag. Myriana floated over and 'sat' next to Lamatar, caressing his cheek with an incorporeal hand as a tear rolled down her cheek. "Ah, my love! What have they done to you?!? You could not come to me because you were undead! That explains all! They will pay for this crime."
Shiro spoke up. "Er, they already have."
"You have done well, my bard. Let me bring my love back to me."

Myriana Reincarnated Lamatar. He sat up, gazed at her, and said, "Ah, my beautiful treasure! What has happened to you?"
Myriana reached out, embraced Lamatar, and the two of them floated over the pond. As they reached the center of the pond, they sunk down under the water. After a few minutes, the bubbles stopped. Raesh quipped, "I guess he won't be needing his bow back after all."
Two spirits, bright and fresh, emerged from the pond. Myriana was returned to her former beauty, and the lock of hair on Shiro blazed from black to blonde. Lamatar stood on the water, resplendent in his Black Arrow uniform. Yap started doing loop-de-loops. "You did it! You restored our guardians!"

All around them, life started returning to Whitewillow. The sense of despair was replaced with a sense of hope, of growth, of life, and of love. The two spirits darted through the trees together, touching trunks, and bushes, and even the ground, and where they traveled, life and light returned. As the party turned to go, Myriana returned to them.
"My bard, you and your friends have done a service for which we can never repay you. I can only grant that my blessing be upon you for the rest of your days. Thank you. Thank you all!"
She bowed to each party member in turn, offering them a beaming smile and a bow, never letting her hand unclasp from Lamatar's.

Hi spoke up. "M'Lady. I am happy we could help you, but now we are needed elsewhere. Our city is in danger. May I have your permission to teleport from within your realm?"
Myriana's laughter was the tinkling of a spring brook over moss-covered rocks. "Of course, my friend, of course. I would do it for you if my powers extended that far, but they do not."

Hi teleported the party to Fort Rannick. As we called it a night, he said, "We have done a great thing today."

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Friday, December 28, 2012 (Already played)


Oh, and just so people know, I'm playing as a player in a Carrion Crown game with a completely different set of dice, and just last session my weapon master rolled a 1, I invoked the 'free reroll' ability, rolled another 1, and then rolled a 3, for a 1-in-1000 fumble.

It's not the dice; it's the roller.


Since the party willingly gives up treasure, how about blessing their weapons/armor at certain points so they don't fall behind.

For your selfless courage, I bless your armor to shield your body.

Perhaps something like heritage/personalized weapons that grow with them?


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Andrea1 wrote:

Since the party willingly gives up treasure, how about blessing their weapons/armor at certain points so they don't fall behind.

For your selfless courage, I bless your armor to shield your body.

Perhaps something like heritage/personalized weapons that grow with them?

I gave Raesh Olytrius' sword, that isn't in the AP. (And a +2 holy keen scimitar ain't something to sneeze at.)

Shiro got the Blessing of the Nymph, which is just plain stupid powerful.
Once we get to the 29th writeup, you'll see that Hi gets blessed with something similarly stupid powerful.

So they're being rewarded for their selfless acts, as I agree; people who play "truly good" really do need to get rewarded, because it's a lot harder. (Yeah, there's some bitterness in there. My PC in Carrion Crown is getting no love because the other PCs are claiming items as 'more useful to them', then selling them and grabbing the cash, so it's a totally different world, making me even more inclined to reward PCs who cooperate...)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What's your character in CC NobodysHome? And how far are you guys?


Cori Marie wrote:

What's your character in CC NobodysHome? And how far are you guys?

Raj Sklaarson, Gentleman for Hire, a half-Vudran, half-Shoanti fighter from Magnimar. Unfortunately, his hit dice aligned with my usual rolling (5, 5, 2, 1) and he ended up with the fewest hit points in the party (33 at 5th level) as well as the least loot, so considering we're now storming the castle at the end of Module 2, I suspect he's not long for this world. But he's had a good run, and he has some inner angst I've just been beginning to play on, so I can't complain. (Cue Shiro laughing hilariously at me -- he's the GM for that campaign, and he has to listen to me bellyache on an almost-daily basis).

Stradivarius Blackwood, elven wizard, is in the wings once Raj bites it and the party refuses to pony up to resurrect him. Yep. That kind of party...

EDIT: I was trying to be polite, but it's the kind of party where one player took Lopper's axe in Module 1, then in Module 2 sold the item for thousands of gold and kept the money with the rationale, "Well, you gave me the item to improve my character, and I'm using the money I got to improve my character, so what's the problem?" As a 6th level fighter, Raj's total gear is worth under 4500 g.p., which just ain't enough to keep your fighter alive in any reasonable campaign... especially with the bad HP. He's going to multiclass into barbarian as he rages against being so wimpy... Halek he ain't.
Raesh just insisted I point out that *her* bard in the campaign isn't like that at all, and it's absolutely true -- the bard's saved the party at least five times now (!!), and got even less loot than Raj. Though Raj is plying her with valuable gifts, so her net worth passed his only because of his silliness.


I find it hilarious that Shiro said you don't take a gnome as a leader, primarily because it was around this point in the adventure for my party that Lulu (a gnome-changeling, but if anything that would seem to make her even less qualified) began to prove repeatedly that she is perhaps the most mature and competent leader my group has.

Oh, and this one may well have been the greatest line ever:

"Hi introduced them to his fireballs. The ogres Did Not Like."

I approve. XD

Grand Lodge

Your party made short work of the Hook. It was good reading your thread. Our party goes into the Hook in the next session.

spoiler:
Lucretia is with Barl, so that may be a tougher fight. And if the party is not stealthy, I plan to have Lamatar with the Hags. I am sure the party will find a way to spoil the nefarious plans of the GM. They usually do. ;)


Mazra wrote:

Your party made short work of the Hook. It was good reading your thread. Our party goes into the Hook in the next session.

** spoiler omitted **

Yes; I'm playing the AP tactics as-written, but I see a lot of places where I might start changing them. There was a great description of Crowfood actually USING his rogue abilities to drag individuals into the cornfield using his Stealth and then beat on them one-on-one. Your ideas make better tactical sense than the as-written tactics.

And I've already posted to Gluttony's "What would you have changed?" thread about the fiasco that was the attack on Sandpoint, though it did have a spectacular start when Raesh went one-on-one with Longtooth in the skies over Sandpoint. But I get ahead of myself. I'm hoping to finish the next two writeups this weekend, considering I don't have the next section prepped, but I am receiving threats from my group that they're just going to show up on Saturday anyway and roleplay for 12 hours, so I don't have to do any prep on their behalf...

And Gluttony, feel free to steal the "Did Not Like" line as often as you like. I find it a very useful and succinct description...


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28-Dec-2012 Game
I think everyone involved agreed that this was an extremely dissatisfying session; the fight for Sandpoint was so less-than-epic that the party felt guilty beating up on such misguided giants (and bears), and the questioning of the survivors with their "immune to Intimidate" feat was nothing short of aggravating.

We ended up playing a game on the 29th just to get the sour taste of this game out of our mouths. The game on the 29th was a blast, even though nothing actually happened. (At least nothing with regards to the AP. We seem to wander off track a lot...) A second game with no AP on the 5th means I'm WAAAY behind, so I'll be catching up as quickly as I can.

Speaking of dissatisfying games, there was no Silver Tsuto Award this session. I'm sure Halek did something silly, because he can't go a full session without fumbling, but it was so unmemorable I can't recall what it was, if anything.

Anyway, on to the story...

The party leveled up to level 11, while Shalelu hit level 10.

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24-Neth-4707 (continued from last game)

The party retired for the night in their tower. Late in the night, the full-length mirror that had been brought in for them started rocking. As they watched, the mirror startd turning towards Hi, rocking back and forth on its feet to turn itself. Hi moved to avoid being directly in front of it. Raesh looked into the mirror, seeing only her own reflection. Shiro glanced in the mirror, but also saw nothing unusual. After several minutes of Hi standing behind the mirror, moving with it as it turned so it never faced him, the party finally gave up and decided to see what the mirror wanted. As the reflection came into Hi's view, he saw an ancient gnome, so grizzled and wrinkled that he could not tell its sex. It wore a drab grey-green robe and gold-rimmed spectacles. Its grey-green hair was tied back in a stern bun.
Hi spoke first. "Greetings, elder. What may I do for you?"
The gnome spoke in a voice crackling with antiquity. "Hi Ichiban, I have come for you. We must speak. May I enter?"
Raesh took a position guarding Hi.

Hi gave the elder gnome permission to enter. As she stepped in, Hi felt her age, for she was indeed a she. She must have been old during the First Age, and had seen thousands of summers. She gazed at Hi with bespectacled green eyes. "Hi Ichiban, you have done a great thing today. Even as the gnomes of the Sanos forest declared that the corruption was not of their doing, and not of their concern, it spread towards our forest, and from there towards the First World. Death, sadness, and doom stalked our people. And you stood forth with your comrades and stopped it. Not only stopped it, but restored the balance. For this, I give you a gift."
As Hi argued that no gift was necessary, she took off her spectacles and handed them to Hi. With eyes full of mischief she said, "Look to your loot," and strode back into the mirror.

Hi opened the bag of holding and the party starting going over the remains of their loot. Each item looked the same as it did without the spectacles. Hi rolled a spectacular Spellcraft on the Sihedron Medallion, and realized that it might be used as a scrying device as well as all of its other functions. After much discussion of hanging one on all their dead enemies, or putting them in inappropriate places, they decided to put them back in their bag of holding. No other items seemed to look any different from the outside. After much convincing, Hi opened the necromantic spellbook they had captured from Barl Breakbones. To his astonishment, he could read the writings within! Not only that, but he felt that he might be able to cast the spells!
GM Note: The game effect is to allow Hi to prepare up to 9 levels of spells total (or up to 3 spells) as a wizard would, from any spellbooks he owns, adding them to his list of available sorcerer spells for the day. So, for example, he could learn Ghoul Touch from the spellbook and cast it as if it were one of his own 2nd-level spells. The next day, he'd have to learn it again if he wanted to use it again.

After reviewing the rest of the items and determining that reading spellbooks and memorizing spells was "all" that the spectacles did, the party went back to sleep.

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25-Neth-4707

Raesh, Halek, and Shalelu let Shiro and Hi sleep in, knowing that their Rings of Sustenance weren't fully active yet. Once the party was awake, they bid their fond (or not-so-fond, as the case may be) farewells to Mayor Shreed and Jakardros, then teleported to "Magnimar". Gazing at the grassy plains around them and the swampy river just to their south, Shiro said, "Uh, Hi? I don't know what you remember about Magnimar, but I really don't think this is it."
Hi tried again, and this time they landed square in the lobby of the Blue Bunyip. Once again the concierge was delighted to see them, especially when Shiro again gave him 5 platinum pieces, while indicating the party most likely wouldn't be staying the night.

They hurried to the Temple of Iomedae, received the now-customary salutes and rapt attention, and were immediately ushered in to see Tira. They showed Tira the note and told her they needed as much help as possible in Sandpoint as quickly as possible. Tira told them she'd spare a contingent of clerics, but they should really see the mayor. They reluctantly agreed, and headed for the Pediment building. Again, Raesh was not required to give up her weapons, Shalelu and Halek stayed outside, and Shiro and Hi went with Raesh. It was lunchtime, and this time the mayor was working his way through an entire roast turkey. As quickly as possible, they explained the situation to Mayor Groboras, and he agreed to send troops to Sandpoint, though he wouldn't be able to muster them in under a week, and more likely two weeks. The party agreed that this would have to do, so they went outside, discussed whether they needed to purchase any more items, and decided to teleport directly to Sandpoint to prepare for the assault.

To no one's surprise, they appeared just outside of Rilka's house, finding Rilka hanging laundry in the midday sun. Rilka rushed to Hi. "Oh, Hi! You're back! I've missed you! I'm so happy you're OK! Are you going to be here long?"
Hi explained the grave situation to Rilka, and insisted she not leave his side for the duration. She complied. The party proceeded first to the cathedral and Father Zantus, then to the garrison and the mayor's office, and finally to the Rusty Dragon. Ameiko was clearly pleased to see Shiro and the rest of the party, and again offered them rooms, though again there wasn't *quite* enough room and Shiro would have to sleep in her room. They warned everyone of the impending attack, and Sheriff Hemlock gave them complete disposition of his twelve men.
GM Note: At this point we rolled out the map of Sandpoint and they put all named and useful NPCs in position.
As Hemlock's men watched over the city, the party went to bed. Halek had a 'bath' with an enthusiastic partner. Shiro spent the evening in Ameiko's company. Hi had a 'bath' with Rilka. Raesh spent the evening alone.

=====
26-Neth-4707

The 26th was a day of tension and anticipation, as the entire city prepared for the attack. Perhaps 100 residents fled to relatives outside of town. Rilka, Ameiko, and Bethana stayed at the Rusty Dragon, as Hi, Shiro, Raesh, Halek, Shalelu, and Hemlock guarded over the city. The party evacuated the northern residents, warned the nobles of the impending attack, and prepared as best they could. They used the theater as a staging area, moving all vulnerable NPCs to the basement under the theater, along with Father Zantus and all his healing supplies. The lighthouse and cathedral were their main watch points, hoping they would spot the giants before the attack began.

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27-Neth-4707

The morning of the 27th dawned with men stationed on the top of the lighthouse and the cathedral. As Raesh, Halek, and Shalelu took their positions atop the cathedral, Shalelu spotted movement to the north.
GM Note: A DC 30 Perception check for giants more than a mile away seems awfully generous; if I were to replay this section, I'd put the giants at 6400 feet and give the PCs appropriate modifiers as the giants approached; having the PCs spot the giants so early (and having Longtooth spot the PCs in return) really changed the tenor of this encounter.
Raesh cast Levitate and raised herself to 300' to determine the extent of the attack. With a massive perception roll (a natural 20, of course, we're talking Raesh here), she saw all 13 giants plus the 3 bears and the groups they were splitting into, plus the dragon. While the giants did not notice the Levitating paladin, Longtooth rolled a 37 on his Perception and spotted a reflection off the drow's armor. Determined not to let a spy ruin their assault, Longtooth launched himself into the air and charged the tasty morsel floating over Sandpoint.
GM Note: Yeah, having Longtooth arrive early to attack the paladin was suicide, but how was Longtooth supposed to know that it was an 11th-level paladin in mithral plate mail awaiting him in the skies over Sandpoint?

Raesh grinned a toothy grin and invoked Smite Evil before the dragon was even in bow range. She dropped slowly towards the rest of the party, but there was no hope she'd be down before the dragon arrived. Those on the ground might even argue that she licked her lips in anticipation of her first conflict with a dragon. For his part, Longtooth cast TrueStrike and prepared Vital Strike and Power Attack, hoping to one-shot the idiot interloper before she could report to her colleagues below.

Hell broke loose over Sandpoint. Shiro cast Good Hope as Shalelu and Raesh peppered Longtooth with arrows; Raesh's arrows were particularly painful to him, but he perservered. His Truestrike hit Raesh, but only weakly; she took 30 points of damage and stood defiant in the air before him.
GM Note: Yeah, I should have sundered her bow, but then Hi would have cast Fly on her and she would have gotten a full attack with Olytrius' sword, which would have been even more anticlimactic...
As he hovered outside of Raesh's range, preparing a full attack of tooth, claw, and tail on her, she willingly accepted the attack of opportunity (a miss) and shot the living daylights out of him. Longtooth was reduced to 2 HP after just two rounds of combat!
He fled at full speed, giving all participants a last shot at extreme range (400') to try to bring him down. Shiro whispered to Shalelu, "I know you can do it. Take him down, Shalelu!"
Shalelu fired before Raesh had a chance to launch a parting shot. She missed, but Shiro used Gallant Inspiration to turn her miss into a hit, dropping Longtooth. His encounter with the ground 300' below did not go well for him.
Raesh screamed in frustration; her first chance to slay a dragon had been taken from her! "Nice shot, Shelalu." she snarled through clenched teeth, trying her best to regain her equanimity. The party moved to the northern gate. Seething, Raesh prepared for the giants as Shiro tried to comprehend what he had done wrong.

Two giants strode into view, throwing rocks at the northern gate. Shiro began playing (inspire courage) and the party responded to the giants with a withering volley of arrow fire. The giants returned the favor by focusing all of their attacks on Shalelu, quickly dropping her to only 1/4 of her hit points! As she dropped behind the wall to hide, a third giant appeared immediately next to the wall (natural 20 on Stealth, baby!) and grabbed at Shiro, who was desperately trying to heal Shalelu. As they fought at the top of the wall, a group of giants and dire bears crossed the river at the tannery, obviously intent on capturing as many victims as they could. The victims fled the new assault.
Halek had had enough. Using his Improved Bull Rush, he rolled a natural 18 and pushed the giant at the wall over, while Hi and Raesh dropped the first giant in the distance. The next round, Shiro Greased the Halek/giant pile, and Halek pulled out his shortsword and started doing stupid damage with it to the giant. The second attack was a triple-critical. In Halek's hands, that was One Dead Giant. The other giant at range could not withstand Hi and Raesh's attacks and dropped. As soon as all the giants at the gate were dropped, Shiro healed Shalelu as best as he could as Raesh channeled postive energy and Hi Dimension Doored the entire party onto the ridge overlooking the next set of giants to deal with their assault.

The invading party at the tannery should have been significant; three dire bears and two stone giants seems like a decent encounter. Add a Halek critical, Shalelu spraying arrows, and Raesh wreaking havoc, and it's really no big deal. Halek one-shot a bear. Hi, Raesh, and Shalelu dropped the giants. Shiro Greased the incline so the bears couldn't reach them. The last few rounds of combat were nothing more than wondering whether or not it was moral to kill unintelligent-but-trained bears when their masters were already dead. (The party decided the bears could not be allowed to live to threaten the citizens of Sandpoint.)

Pity poor Teraktanus. His first two assault parties were unconscious or dead by the time he strode into view. And there the poor sap was, wading across the river, thinking that he was "all that". Hi's first fireball nailed him in the middle of the river, also lighting the sawmill on fire at the same time. He ducked behind the Scarnetti sawmill. So Hi Dimension Doored the party, Raesh included, to right in front of him, and Raesh invoked Smite Evil on his sorry stone giant butt.
She whacked him for around 100 damage. He missed her on 5 of his 6 attacks. She hit him again. He dropped. The rest of the stone giants fled, before any kind of attack on the brewery or Scarnetti Manor. Halek hit one in the back with a rock, but Raesh scolded him so he desisted. The entire fight was under 12 rounds. The end result: 3 captured stone giants (including Teraktanus), 2 dead stone giants, 3 dead dire bears, one dead red dragon, and 8 fled stone giants.

On interrogation, the party learned that two of their three captives spoke Common (Teraktanus and one of the captives). The general information available was:
- Teraktanus was an idiot, Raesh dearly wished that Sarenrae would forgive one good smack to his hard head, but knew she would not.
- The attack had been ordered by Mokmurian, the new leader of the stone giants, who promised to restore all of Varisia to stone giant rule.
- Mokmurian was based in Jorgenfist, a stone giant stronghold in the Iron Hills.
- The next massive invasion would not occur before the new year.
- The giants appeared to have been sent to get something from Sandpoint. Shiro's best guess was something from the old lighthouse.
- The entire party felt somewhat sheepish requesting aid from Magnimar for such a minor attack.
The party set the two non-evil stone giant captives to repairing the damage they had done to Sandpoint (the destruction of the tannery and the sawmill), and prepared Teraktanus for shipment to Magnimar for trial.

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, December 29, 2012 (Already played)

Grand Lodge

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Since your party is just ahead of ours, it is really good to read your journal. It gives me ideas about how to play the events in our campaign. Truthfully though this is the first encounter in Book Four, it should be very winnable by the party. Not every encounter needs to be epic.

I don't recall ever playing through an adventure at roughly the same time as another GM, much less three or four other GMs. Reading others campaign threads has been great fun and useful.


Unfortunately, I'd prefaced it a lot as an "epic battle" and a "Kobayashi Maruu", and Shiro's player did a table-sized map of Sandpoint so we could track all the destruction.

Then... very little.

However, as I mentioned, we've done two full sessions of socializing in Sandpoint and Magnimar that I haven't written up yet, so if you like character/NPC development, you'll like the next two posts.

Otherwise, I'd apologize, but who reads my thread to get the AP parts? ;-P

Grand Lodge

Actually, I really like the PC/NPC interaction. It is fascinating how different DMs play the NPCs. Sometimes I borrow from this too. Also, the interactions within a party can be interesting too. Look forward to your next post.

Scarab Sages

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I've spent the last week off and on reading this thread. Not only does it seem like you are a fantastic GM and a great writer, but you have a stellar group matched up with you. I've laughed, I've felt bad and I keep finding myself reading on instead of going to sleep like I know that I should - it's almost like reading a really good book!

I'll be reading this as you continue. Thanks for the campaign log!


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Abjurer wrote:

I've spent the last week off and on reading this thread. Not only does it seem like you are a fantastic GM and a great writer, but you have a stellar group matched up with you. I've laughed, I've felt bad and I keep finding myself reading on instead of going to sleep like I know that I should - it's almost like reading a really good book!

I'll be reading this as you continue. Thanks for the campaign log!

And thank you for the kind words!

Lots of cool NPC stuff over the next two sessions -- just have to find the time to write them up. (My son just demanded that we resurrect the Crimson Throne game, so I'm GM'ing MoWeSa, and playing Sunday. Real life? What's that?)


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29-Dec-2012 Game
I had no intention of running a game on the 29th; my players just showed up, said that they understood that I didn't have anything prepared, sat down, and started playing. I stopped after 5 hours because I was a tad sick, but we've had a couple of awesome RP sessions where nothing 'significant' happened.

So no fights, no Silver Tsuto Award, no XP, just lots and lots of juicy roleplaying.

One note from the previous session that is extremely important: While Hi was testing his glasses, he tried to analyze the Sihedron Medallion yet again, got a 35 Spellcraft, and realized that the medallions could be used as foci for Scrying. Back into the bag the medallion went.
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27-Neth-4707 (continued from last game)
 
The party waited for at least half an hour for any further attacks, but none came. They went out to check on the dragon, and found it dead in a small crater several hundred yards from town. Without further ado, they got a wagon and dragged the corpse back to down, bringing it to the (now damaged) door of Larz Rovanky's tannery. In spite of the damage to his building, Larz was happy to see Raesh, one of the few customers he'd ever met who truly appreciated fine leatherwork. Raesh asked, "Can you make leather clothing out of this?"
Larz was ecstatic; he'd been studying dragon hide for several months now, and had just received the tools for working with it. (Yes, the GM rolled a natural 20 on whether or not Larz could work it.) They ordered a suit of fireproof leather clothing for Hi, letting Larz keep the rest of the dragon corpse in exchange, as long as anyone else in Sandpoint needing dragon parts could come and get them. Larz immediately agreed to this bargain. Raesh took two small dragon teeth to make into earrings, and Larz eagerly offered to have it done for her. In addition to the dragon, the party provided the bears to Larz, with the caveat that he make a bearskin cloak for Halek from the one he slew, and distributed the bear meat to the needy in Sandpoint. Satisfied that the dragon and bear corpses would be put to good use, the party moved on. 

They next met with Sheriff Hemlock about the disposition of the captured giants. Hemlock explained that technically they were still bound by a treaty between Magnimar and the giants, and Teraktanus at least would have to be tried there. The party agreed to transport Teraktanus to Magnimar at their convenience. In the meantime, Raesh asked the giants why they were capturing humans. "To be our slaves, of course," the giants replied.
"Then you expect to be enslaved?"
"Of course. We lost the fight."
Raesh would not accept the term "slave", but was willing to put the giants to work. She and Mayor Deverin worked out a deal whereby the giants would repair all of the damage done to the town, plus do any other major work around town for a period of two weeks, at which point the giants would be given a wagon to take their dead back to the Iron Mountains to provide them with a proper burial. The giants were astonished by the generosity of this offer, and readily agreed. The townsfolk even agreed to cast Gentle Repose on the giant corpses to keep them fresh for the journey.

The group's next stop was at the cathedral to determine the extent of the injured. Fortunately, very few people had been caught up in the battle, and Zantus had been able to heal them all. Next, they stopped by the playhouse (they had set it up as a 'safe area' for the townsfolk) to make sure everyone there was safe. Rilka gave Hi a huge hug, and then suddenly said, "The soldiers from Magnimar just arrived!" (Another natural 20 on Rilka's Knowledge: Local to hear the rumor. Apparently my die is absolutely ecstatic when doing NPC stuff that helps the characters.)

The party went to meet the newcomers. It was a party of 5, clearly the group from the temple of Iomedae, as their leader was an unusually slender man in full plate mail with the trappings of a paladin of Iomedae, and the other four were obvious clerics. As Shiro looked at the paladin, he asked, "Is that an elf?"
Sure enough, as the paladin removed his helm, he was revealed to be an elf in the absolutely classic sense; long blond hair, green eyes, pointed ears, and a dazzling smile. Somewhere, Shayliss sighed. "Well met, friends. I am Tesserel of the temple of Iomedae, and these are my clerics. How may we be of assistance?"
Shalelu snickered openly. "I know, I know. My parents wanted a girl, so they were all ready to call me 'Tessera', but when I came out a boy they were a bit surprised and made do."

Raesh apologized that the threat to Sandpoint had been overstated, and had been dealt with already. She suggested that they might want to return to Magnimar and report.
"Oh, that's wonderful news! Well done! My clerics are a bit wet behind the ears and eager for battle, but I'm just as happy we missed it. However, I have been assigned to assist the Second Paladin of Absalom in any way necessary, so I'll be staying here in Sandpoint indefinitely..."
Raesh hissed an intake of breath. "Oh, I'll get him for this. He'll pay for this one."
Shiro and Hi were overcome with laughter, and congratulated Raesh on her 'promotion'. It made perfect tactical sense: If you were up to your ears in political intrigue and fearing assassination from all quarters, what could be more ideal than putting up an absolutely intolerable candidate as your successor? If someone didn't want Gregory or Olytrius in charge, they would writhe in agony at the notion of having Raesh running the temple! Everything suddenly made sense: The salutes from the paladins at the temple of Iomedae, the special treatment at the Pediment; It was all because she was now the Second Paladin of Absalom, heir to the seat if something should happen to Olytrius. She was displeased, and immediately started plotting revenge.

As they debriefed their new allies, Tesserel explained a bit about the assignment. It was a test of sorts for him, that only a human would think up. His grandfather had been kidnapped and 'tortured to death' by drow, and his superiors wanted to see how he would react to meeting and working with a 'real' drow. However, according to his father, his grandfather had been extremely skilled in 'certain arts', and the drow had actually assigned him to their infamous lust pits. (Raesh maintained her customary stony face through this story, but the tips of her ears blushed deep red.) When a rescue party finally reached him, he had taken up arms against them and tried to stay. The rescuers claimed that it was because he had been driven mad by the torture; Tesserel's father did not believe that for an instant. In any case, his grandfather had died among the drow nearly 800 years ago, and Tesserel had no idea why he was supposed to harbor a grudge against the drow, but he was following his assignment.
Further questioning revealed that Tesserel had already done one sojourn in the Worldwound, and had no desire to return. Raesh asked him for more details, and he described how it had grown after Aroden's death, and how Iomedae was pledged to eradicate it, so every cleric and paladin of Iomedae at least once in their life went to the Worldwound to do battle. He had lost almost his entire group, and was happy to be away from that place, alive, and unlikely to ever have to return there.

After their introductions and conversations, the party assigned the clerics to assist Father Zantus in crafting more wands (two of the clerics were of high enough level to create wands of Cure Disease, which were desperately needed in Sandpoint), while they and Tesserel went in search of Brodert Quink. As usual, he was underground in the catacombs. As usual, Shalelu declined to come with them underground. They found Brodert cradled in the arms of the statue of Alaznist, doing something to her face, but he perked up as soon as he saw them. They plied him for more information about the Sihedron Rune, Sihedron Medallion, relationship between the giants and the Runelords, and anything else he knew, but a series of hopeless Knowledge rolls rendered Brodert utterly useless. They returned to the surface to find Ameiko preparing a massive party outside of the Rusty Dragon to celebrate the town being saved yet again. The two captured giants were even setting up a table for themselves among the guests! Shiro and Hi decided it was time to corrupt some clerics. They told Tesserel that he absolutely HAD to bring his clerics to the Hagfish to meet Norah. Tesserel wanted assurances that it was safe and would not cause his clerics to fall, so they visited the Hagfish and introduced him to her. Tesserel asked Jargie Quinn how he had come to own Norah, and Jargie proceeded to spin a marvelous tale about fishing during a storm, doing battle with a sea monster, pulling in a massive ball of slime, discovering Norah, and receiving divine inspiration that his fate was to open a tavern. With a natural 1 on his Sense Motive check, Tesserel swallowed the whole fish tale, hook, line, and sinker. (See? Now THAT'S why I love my die!)
Tesserel agreed to let his clerics participate, only if he got to watch from a dark corner. The party readily agreed.

First came the party. Ameiko and many of the townsfolk had gone all-out to provide a banquet for hundreds. Tables lined the streets outside of the Rusty Dragon. The giants had their own table, with a roast ox and a barrel of ale each. They actually seemed to be greatly enjoying their "slavery". After an hour or two of revelry, the party moved on to the Hagfish, where all four clerics miserably failed their Fortitude saves and caused quite a mess. Tesserel let them suffer for an hour, then used Lay on Hands to cure their sickness. Raesh appreciated his approach to training.

Tesserel and his now-feeling-slightly-better clerics returned to the cathedral for the evening, Hi went to Rilka's, and Halek, Shiro, Raesh, and Shalelu went to the Rusty Dragon. Once again, they were mysteriously one room short, and Shiro had to share Ameiko's room. There were no complaints. Except for the patrons anywhere near Halek's room, where his fondness for 'baths' had resurged with great vigor.

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28-Neth-4707

In the morning, Tesserel and his clerics joined Raesh and Halek for their morning activities. Much to Raesh's irritation, Tesserel took the Kohai (subordinate) position behind her. She sighed and continued her devotions, noting that he and his clerics were matching her as much as they could, considering the two different dieties.
With Sandpoint safe and at least a month before the giants were to attack, the party decided to take a picnic at Thistletop. The party was fortunate enough to be beset by goblins on their way, and the clerics had their first taste of combat. Unfortunately, they loved it, as the goblins were not a significant enough threat to even merit a die roll. They carried the bodies to Thistletop, cleared out the handful of goblins that had settled there (Raesh and Tesserel used the opportunity to thoroughly critique the clerics' combat technique), and provided Yippy with a well-deserved (and well-appreciated) meal. Yippy barked happily up at them. "Aw, who's a good bunyip," Raesh purred.

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, January 5, 2013 (Already played)


5-Jan-2013 Game
Very much like the December 29 game, I told my players that I had nothing prepared, yet we got together, did eggs Benedict, and gamed for 6 hours with absolutely nothing planned.

So once again no fights, no Silver Tsuto Award, and no XP.

=====
28-Neth-4707 (continued from last game)
 
After ensuring that Yippy had plenty of food, the party returned to Sandpoint. Nothing bothered them on their return journey, much to the clerics' disappointment. As they settled in at the Rusty Dragon, Shalelu addressed the party. She explained that while she greatly enjoyed traveling with them, the recent troubles in Sandpoint had reminded her how much Sandpoint needed her, and that, given the choice, she would remain in (and around) Sandpoint as its guardian, (assisted by the Iomedaeans, of course) rather than assaulting Jorgenfist with the party. The party readily agreed to Shalelu's request, declaring their happiness and relief that Sandpoint would be protected in their absence, though Shiro did make some kind of comment about whether Shalelu staying in Sandpoint had anything to do with a certain uber-handsome elf paladin who had just happened to have taken up residence there. Shalelu did not harm Shiro at that point.

Shiro proceeded to invite everyone he could think of (the party, Rilka, Shalelu, Ameiko, Bethana, Tesserel, and his clerics) to see the play at the Sandpoint Theater that night. Bethana bitterly explained that if Ameiko was going, she would have to stay and mind the tavern, at which Ameiko merely smiled and said, "Thank you, Bethana!" Hi and Rilka opted for a quite night at Rilka's home.  As they strolled towards the theater, Shiro offered an arm each to Raesh and Shalelu. Ameiko gave Shiro a sharp look, strolled over to Tesseral, and had him take her arm. There wasn't enough room in Ameiko's box for the entire group, so Tesserel sent the clerics to the general audience. The play was an interesting production about an adventurer who ventured into the Cinderlands, seduced a barbarian princess, brought her home with her father's magical cloak, and then left her for a more 'civilized' woman. The play ended when the barbarian woman poisoned the cloak and joined the adventurer beneath it, killing them both. Most of the audience found it very depressing. Halek found it an excellent lesson on trusting 'civilized' people, and was downright jolly after the play.
Not wanting to return to the Rusty Dragon (thereby forcing Ameiko back to work), the group went to the White Deer, where Halek introduced them to the owner, Garridan Viskalai. The White Deer was extremely posh compared to the Rusty Dragon, reminding them a bit of the Blue Bunyip, but the food simply didn't compare to Ameiko's home cooking, and the patrons were far too full of themselves for the party's tastes. After a bit of time, they returned to the Rusty Dragon, looking for a livelier atmosphere.
It was late, but Raesh requested that Shiro perform. He decided to perform the masterwork he had found in the Shimmerglens. One excellent roll later, all the patrons left awake were greatly inspired, and even Bethana and Ameiko regarded Shiro with new admiration. The party went to their separate beds.

=====
29-Neth-4707

The party arose early, prepared themselves, had Teraktinus loaded on his cart, and headed for Magnimar. Shalelu, Tesserel, and his clerics remained in Sandpoint, reducing the party to just Shiro, Hi, Raesh, and Halek. Unsurprisingly, there were no encounters, though Raesh was fairly sure she saw some terrified mites fleeing at their approach.

=====
30-Neth-4707

The party continued on their way, arriving in Magnimar in the early evening. As they arrived at the Noble's Gate, guards from the Arvensoar took possession of Teraktinus, and the party was welcomed through the gate. Raesh reluctantly admitted that being second paladin of Absalom did seem to have certain advantages.
They proceeded forthwith to the mayor's and he met them immediately. He allayed their concerns about the treaty: The giants had attacked Sandpoint, violating the treaty, and therefore anything the party felt needed to be done would receive the Mayor's full support. As soon as he realized that they were going to storm Jorgenfist themselves, without the need for troops or supplies from him, the mayor proved quite jovial, and agreed to anything the party might desire, including a paper granting the party the right to negotiate with the giants should such be possible (subject, of course, to final approval by the Magnimar city council). Shiro was forced to conclude that as long as their goals were in line with the mayor's, he really wasn't as unpleasant as he could be.

Once their business with the mayor was done, the party returned to the Blue Bunyip, where the concierge was elated to welcome them, especially after receiving his customary 5 p.p. tip/payment. When the party went upstairs to refresh themselves, Hi was overjoyed to discover that they had installed a fire shower for him: A tiled room where fire poured from a nozzle onto the bather. Hi spent quite a bit of time 'cleaning' himself and snacking on marshmallows, reaching out of the shower to grab one and then pausing for it to catch fire before eating it.
Coming downstairs, the party found Kousei performing. They had dinner and listened to him for a while. At around 9:00 pm, Kaede, Umie, and Yuto arrived, joining the party. Kousei emphasized to Shiro how nice it would be to have 'new blood' in the family, and Kaede and Umie sat on either side of Shiro, squeezing him in a bit as they smiled at him. Yuto sat between Raesh and Hi, and smiled shyly at both. "Well, you know why they're here, so I guess you're wondering about me. As you know, it has been foretold that my brother Kenji will lead our clans back over the Crown of the World to return to Minkai. He obviously cannot lead us, as he is blind, and my father is far too old for such a journey. Therefore, it must be my destiny to prepare, organize, and lead this journey, and so I am preparing myself with as much knowledge as possible. If you do not find it impertinent, I would greatly appreciate learning about your journeys, and especially the foes you encountered..."

Raesh, Hi, and Shiro were impressed with Yuto's demeanor, thirst for knowledge, and determination to take his clan safely home. They shared as much as they could with him. As the hour grew late, Kousei, Kaede, Umie, and Yuto excused themselves to return home. Once again, they asked Halek to accompany them, and he agreed. Yuto smiled. "I will certainly need a Shoanti warrior with us on our journey to smooth the path."
Halek looked pleased. Raesh, struck with sudden inspiration, requested someone be sent to wash her hair for her and luxuriated in the sensation of being attended to. The party turned in for the night.

=====

01-Kuthona-4707

Shiro managed to wake up astonishingly early, perhaps half an hour after sunrise, and rushed off to find Raesh at her devotions at the temple of Iomedae. He was quite pleased with himself for having woken up so early, and marveled at the low sun in the sky, and the number of paladins who willingly woke up this early every morning.

As they returned to the Blue Bunyip, they were surprised to find Kaede, Umie, and Yuto waiting for them. Yuto explained that they had the day off, and their fathers had encouraged them to spend time with the party. Umie giggled. Raesh and Yuto rolled their eyes in synchronicity. Hi just smirked at Shiro.

The party's first stop was the Founder's Archive to try to learn more about the Sihedron Medallion. Yuto proved to be invaluable: The librarians recognized him on sight, and were surprised when he asked to see the Thassilonian archives rather than the maps of the north, but obliged. He was familiar with their filing systems, and was able to find the documents they were looking for quite quickly. Umie, less so. She might have recognized that they were looking at books and scrolls, but she didn't let on. Kaede did her best to assist, but was clearly unsure of what the party was looking for.

In an attempt to entertain them, Shiro used Prestidigitation and Silent Image to create a book entitled "Beautiful Women of Magnimar" with pictures of Umie and Kaede in it. Umie utterly failed her roll to detect BS and squealed with delight to see herself in a book. Kaede rolled a natural 1 and also believed the book to be genuine. Both kitsune women were ecstatic. Yuto rolled his eyes. The eye-rolling definitely seemed to be catching...

With Yuto's assistance, Hi was able to learn a bit more about the medallions: They were designed for military commanders in the Runelords' armies. Not only did the medallions help protect the commanders, but the Runelords could see through the commanders' eyes at will, and, if necessary, could even speak through their voices. The party was just as happy that the medallions were safely in the bag of holding, and spent some time discussing the silliest places to put the medallions.

Their next stop was the Shoanti deli, where Halek picked up more 'delicacies' and the entire party experimented eating unfamiliar 'meats'. After a bit of discussion, they bought an entire picnic's worth of food and headed over to Seerspring Garden for a picnic lunch. It was an extremely pleasant day, good company, and mostly-edible food, and the party enjoyed itself immensely. Yuto explained the Blessings of the Monuments in Magnimar: By praying at each monument in a certain way, you could receive a certain blessing for the day. As the party prepared to leave, Yuto demonstrated by praying at the "Our Lady of Blessed Waters" fountain, receiving a +1 to all caster level and concentration checks for the day. The party returned to Dockway and picked up Halek's fresh-made +1 earthbreaker (yeah, I needed that). As they returned to the Blue Bunyip, Yuto suggested that the party might greatly benefit from the additional services offered by the Bunyip, such as their massages.

As they arrived at the Bunyip, Kaede moved to the common room, as it was her evening to perform on the lute. Umie moved to the dining area, where she played the harp. She turned out to be quite adept at the harp, showing where all her skill points had gone. Yuto dined with them, but then excused himself, as he, too, had "duties".
On Yuto's recommendation, both Shiro and Raesh ordered massages, while Hi contented himself with an hourlong fire shower. There was a knock at Shiro's door, and he opened it to find a middle-aged woman trailed by three younger women. "Please disrobe," the woman blurted curtly.

Shiro was in heaven. The three younger women combed his fur expertly as the middle-aged woman worked out every knot in every muscle in his body, starting on his temples, working through his neck, down his shoulders, down his spine, out to the tip of his tail, and down his legs and feet. It wasn't until later that Shiro learned he'd been serviced by the personal masseuse of His Lordship Sunaki Kobayashi, patron of the Kobayashi clan, city council member, and emissary to Tian Xia. All he knew was that his muscles felt like melted butter, his fur was brushed to a silky smooth sheen, and he slept like a rock.

Raesh heard a similar knock at her door. Opening it, she was taken aback to see Yuto there, a towel on his arm and a sheepish smile on his lips. "I told you they give good massages here. And I really am a masseuse here."
"That is good," Raesh deadpanned, "I will not be forced to kill you for deceiving me." Drow humor.
Raesh consented to let Yuto work on her, and he turned out to be extremely competent; he worked her neck, shoulders, spine, back, legs, and feet until she was almost as relaxed as Shiro. Raesh was definitely beginning to develop an appreciation for some of the luxuries available to successful adventurers.

02-Kuthona-4707

An extremely-relaxed party woke up to another crisp, sunny morning and headed for the stables, where their horses had spent the last few weeks. To their horror, the stablehands' notion of 'exercising' the horses was to walk them from one end of the city to the other, and all of their horses were sleek, shiny, content, and FAT. They took possession of their horses, mounted up, and headed back for Sandpoint.

03-Kuthona-4707

The party arrived in Sandpoint on the evening of the 3rd, finally ready for their assault on Jorgenfist...

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, January 12, 2013 (Already played)

Grand Lodge

It was good that Shalelu did not harm Shiro. That could have been bad.

Nice interlude. It has been a long time since we have had such an adventure with no encounters and just role playing.

Look forward to the next chapters.

Silver Crusade

Enjoying the campaign. Dual purpose encouragement and dot. :)


Capricornus wrote:
Enjoying the campaign. Dual purpose encouragement and dot. :)

Thanks -- that's just the push I need to get the January 12 session written up! Yet another combat-free session, but at least they're getting close now...

(Got asked to prep Crimson Throne, Kingmaker, and Rise of the Runelords all for sessions this week, so writeups (and life) had to wait for a bit...and my fighter survived Trial of the Beast in Carrion Crown! Yay! I still get to play in at least one campaign!)


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12-Jan-2013 Game

A third session with "almost" no fights and no Silver Tsuto Award makes me wonder whether my players are the combat monsters I thought them to be... (What might have been a cool fight was utterly destroyed by an insanely-high Perception roll, as you'll see.)

=====
03-Kuthona-4707 (continued from last game), plus the 4th and 5th
The party arrived in Sandpoint in the early afternoon, and were welcomed once again as the city's saviors. Ameiko made rooms available to them, and Hi promptly hunkered down and started scribing scrolls in preparation for the upcoming battle. The party was a bit surprised that Shalelu was in town, but she explained that she and Tesserel were working together shoring up the town's defenses. In fact, Tesserel was building full-blown ballistae at strategic points along the town walls.
While Hi scribed three scrolls, Shiro spent time in the woods with Shalelu learning Survival, and Raesh studied the path to Jorgenfist. The path seemed straightforward enough: Take the Lost Coast road to Windsong Abbey, which had once been a great cathedral for many religions, evil ones included, but was now run down and mostly empty. Then cut across the plains to Galduria, home of a well-known school of Varisian magic. Finally, follow the river through Wolf's Ear and Ravenmoor, up the Storval Stairs, and into the Iron Mountains. On horseback, the trip would take roughly 11 days. Raesh acquired the necessary supplies, the party bid their fond farewells to Sandpoint yet again, and they rode for Windsong Abbey.

=====
06-Kuthona-4707 and 07-Kuthona-4707

The trip to Windsong Abbey was uneventful; the Lost Coast road was not exactly a highway, but it was smooth enough, and the fine winter weather persisted; a bit of fog in the morning, but then crisp sun and reasonable temperatures for the rest of the day. The abbey itself was a monument of decayed magnificence; it must have once been a spectacular structure, but now it was run down, with entire wings needing repairs to the walls and ceilings. Where once a dozen religions had studied and worshipped under a single roof, now only worshippers of Abadar and Erastil remained in any number. There were a few outlying clerics of Desna and so forth, but the only permanent priests were those either fond of the wilderness, or determined to restore the abbey to its former glory. Shiro went to the shrine of Shelyn, found it slightly dusty, and tidied it up and said a few prayers. Halek and Hi found the shrine to Desna spotless; enough Varisians still frequented the abbey that the shrine saw at least weekly use. Raesh found the shrine to Sarenrae in a sad state, covered with dust and obviously not having been used in months, if not years. She dutifully set about cleaning the shrine, and soon thereafter Halek, Hi, and Shiro arrived to help her. Once their respective shrines were restored to order, and having no significant business at the abbey, the party paid their respects, prayed at their appropriate shrines, spent the night, and moved on.

=====
08-Kuthona-4707

As they set off across the Varisian plains to Galduria, the fine weather persisted, but the road did not. Firm-packed smoothed earth gave way to a rutted wagon trail, and it was clear that travelers on this road were few and far between. By the mid-afternoon, the party spotted some disturbed trees and stones a few hundred feet off the trail. Investigating, they found the remains of a giant camp; large flattened areas of grass showed where the giants had slept, and an extinguished campfire filled with entire logs indicated that the giants were not afraid of being seen at night. After surveying the area, Halek concluded that four giants had slept there perhaps four nights ago. They proceeded on their way, and camped for the night. Shiro's Ring of Sustenance finally kicked in, and he was able to keep watch with the rest of the party, making him happy. In spite of the ring, he managed to sleep in every morning anyway, making him even happier.

=====
09-Kuthona-4707

The next day brought even more grim news. Mid-morning they spied a Varisian caravan a few hundred yards ahead of them, but it was clear that all was not well; the wagons were not moving, and the middle wagon was overturned. As they approached, it became clear that the caravan had been attacked by giants. A huge stone lay in the middle of the center wagon. Human bodies of men, women, and children lay strewn about, some showing signs of being crushed while prone, and all clumsily stripped of even their most basic belongings and left to rot in the winter sun. The wagons had been ripped open and searched. This was nothing like the attack on Sandpoint; these giants had no interest in slaves; they had brutally murdered all they found, and made off with all their belongings. The party searched for a name, and found that these were members of the Versani clan. As they prepared all the bodies for a funeral pyre, they found a stone cairn the size of a stone giant; apparently the Varisians had been able to fight back a bit after all. Halek spat on the grave. They moved the wagons off the road, but left them there as a warning to other travelers.

Once the party had burned the remains and spoken words over them (Halek for Desna and Raesh for Sarenrae), they checked the tracks. The giants were still three days ahead of them, and headed straight for Galduria. The party pushed on.

=====
10-Kuthona-4707

Grim-faced, the party set forth at a brisk pace, hoping to continue gaining ground on the giants. Unfortunately, the distractions continued. Around lunchtime, Hi spotted Varisian warning flags about a hundred yards off the trail, surrounding an overgrown tree stump. As they neared the stump, they saw a strange squirrel standing on it and watching them. Shiro recognized it instantly (he rolled a Perception of 36 to beat its 34 Disguise roll, then made his Knowledge to know what it was): A Wolf-In-Sheep's-Clothing; a vegetative predator that lured would-be predators by animating dead prey animals with its tendrils until the predators were too close and then SNAP! Dragged them into its maw with its many roots. The party wondered whether they should waste their time and resources when the predator was so clearly marked, and when they were already in pursuit of much more dangerous quarry. Finally, they decided that since they COULD do something about it, they would.

It was as silly as it was unfortunate. The first fireball obliterated the squirrel and the tendrils animating it. As the poor creature charged its full movement of 10', Raesh and Halek peppered it with arrows, and Hi dropped a second fireball on it. It started 60' away from the party. It never broke 50'. Ouchy.
GM Note: Wolves-In-Sheep's-Clothing. Really cool as long as the party doesn't see them. Unfortunately, if the party sees them, they're less-than-cool.

As they explored the hole where the creature had originated and hacked its body open to find what was inside, they found the obvious remains of two people: One had tattered leather armor, a crowbar, thieves' tools, iron manacles, a broken shortsword, and other signs of a man up to no good. The other was in a blue-green dress that had once been magnificent, with a gorgeous turquoise-and-opal butterfly hairpin, a blue-and-green silk Varisian scarf, and a magical ring with a reptilian pattern on it. Finally, they found a bit of coin. Any other evidence or loot had been destroyed in the blasts.
Figuring that the woman must be of noble blood, they gathered her things carefully and packed them into their bag of holding. They removed the Varisian warning flags, figuring the stump and any of its offspring were not likely to have survived Hi's ministrations.

In spite of the delays, they managed to arrive in Galduria in the early evening. The town was tiny, but welcoming enough. They went straight to the mage academy. Sure enough, the woman's remains were Dialena Skysong, a daughter of wealthy Varisian parents who showed some magical talents. She had been approached by a young handsome rogue in the tavern one night, and what happened next, no one knew. Either he had threatened her or he had convinced her, but she had sneaked into the academy, stolen a ring, and vanished with the man, never to return. They had been waiting for a ransom note for several months now; the mage was very sad that he would have to inform her parents that she would never return.
The party returned all of her belongings to the school, and when the mage tried to pay them, they refused. At this, he stared at them seriously. "While you may be great heros, and this may be your nature, you must know that Varisian magic requires balance. We cannot be in debt to you. You cannot be in debt to us. Please consider a payment. We must repay you for the ring, and we must repay you for returning Dialena's possessions to us."
The party agreed to ponder what the mage school could do for them.

Their next stop was the mayor's office. He was a small, reedy man, but friendly enough. When the party asked about marauding giants, he paled visibly. Many of the local farmers had lost livestock and even husbands, sons, and daughters to the giants. It was getting to the point that they were thinking of sending to Magnimar for help. If the party could help in any way, he would be eternally grateful.

They spent the night at a small inn that wasn't up to even the Rusty Dragon in comfort, but felt wonderful after so many nights on the road.

=====
11-Kuthona-4707

In the morning, they rode out towards one of the ruined farmsteads. Before they were halfway there, Halek spotted the tracks of three giants, less than a day old.

The hunt was on...

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, January 19, 2013 (Already played)


At the risk of repeating Abjurer's post, I started reading this thread on Monday and finished it yesterday, forsaking all other activities. I can now eat and sleep again :o)

Compliments on the excellent writing style, first of all. I appreciate the effort you put into sharing your campaign and group with us.

And speaking of the group - what a group! Role-playing for a full day without any combat? Jealous! Each player does an amazing job of portraying believable and lovable characters with wonderful examples of growing attachment and interpersonal conflict. Your exemplary role-playing, NobodysHome, is also obvious from what you've written here and the fact that your players have developed relationships (good and bad) with so many NPCs. Oh, and the time Halek chased off Aldern - pure comedy gold!

From a mechanical perspective, it has been very interesting for me to 'witness' your GMing style and how you make it work. As well, it's impressive to see how a good group of players can inherently reduce the challenge level of encounters with sound tactics and smooth execution.

I'd pay to be part of a group like this (assuming I was good enough myself to make the cut).

I'll just finish with a thank-you for sharing this and I'll definitely be following it to the end. You've inspired me to get my own campaign going and to try chronicling it like this.

- Niilo


Niilo John Van Steinburg wrote:

At the risk of repeating Abjurer's post, I started reading this thread on Monday and finished it yesterday, forsaking all other activities. I can now eat and sleep again :o)

Compliments on the excellent writing style, first of all. I appreciate the effort you put into sharing your campaign and group with us.

And speaking of the group - what a group! Role-playing for a full day without any combat? Jealous! Each player does an amazing job of portraying believable and lovable characters with wonderful examples of growing attachment and interpersonal conflict. Your exemplary role-playing, NobodysHome, is also obvious from what you've written here and the fact that your players have developed relationships (good and bad) with so many NPCs. Oh, and the time Halek chased off Aldern - pure comedy gold!

From a mechanical perspective, it has been very interesting for me to 'witness' your GMing style and how you make it work. As well, it's impressive to see how a good group of players can inherently reduce the challenge level of encounters with sound tactics and smooth execution.

I'd pay to be part of a group like this (assuming I was good enough myself to make the cut).

I'll just finish with a thank-you for sharing this and I'll definitely be following it to the end. You've inspired me to get my own campaign going and to try chronicling it like this.

- Niilo

Aw! Shucks! Thank you SO much!

Yesterday we had our second-ever player-GM conflict (the first was when Raesh slit Gogmurt's throat), and the entire discussion was, "I notice that you're choosing spells for Hi's spellbook as you go on the adventure and encounter things. I'm not comfortable with that, so would you please complete his spellbook now."

"Do you really want to stop and have me do that?"

"Yes it would make me more comfortable."

"OK."

Yes, we are a room full of epic conflict monsters. ;-)

I really do enjoy the feedback; I still take great pride that Mazra mentioned me as one of the reasons he started his journal.

Anyway, the summary of the 19th is written up and with the players for review, and the 26th was an absolutely fascinating noncombat session. (How do you award experience when your party extremely cleverly bypasses an entire army of 'innocent' stone giants they refuse to kill, because the party is convinced they're misled rather than evil?)

Anyway, more coming soon...


NobodysHome wrote:
"I notice that you're choosing spells for Hi's spellbook as you go on the adventure and encounter things. I'm not comfortable with that, so would you please complete his spellbook now."

And I thought my players were the only ones who did that. (My Jade Regent players, I mean. The RotRL group is pretty great). XD

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
NobodyHome wrote:
How do you award experience when your party extremely cleverly bypasses an entire army of 'innocent' stone giants they refuse to kill, because the party is convinced they're misled rather than evil?

Tough call. I forget how many stone giants are in that army, but I also wouldn't award them XP for each of them, since it's a lot, if memory serves. Really, the point of that scene is to figure out away around the army of giants, rather than through it. Your players just figured that out faster than some. Basically, ad hoc something like two or three encounters at their level for XP, and move on?


Misroi wrote:
NobodyHome wrote:
How do you award experience when your party extremely cleverly bypasses an entire army of 'innocent' stone giants they refuse to kill, because the party is convinced they're misled rather than evil?
Tough call. I forget how many stone giants are in that army, but I also wouldn't award them XP for each of them, since it's a lot, if memory serves. Really, the point of that scene is to figure out away around the army of giants, rather than through it. Your players just figured that out faster than some. Basically, ad hoc something like two or three encounters at their level for XP, and move on?

I liked Shiro's player's (my Carrion Crown GM) suggestion that you treat monsters just like traps: If you bypass one in a clever manner, you still get the XP for them.

So I'm totting up the XP for the monsters they got past without fighting, not the ones that just happened to be in the area.

It's definitely a judgment call, but I don't feel that penalizing my players by having them fight Big M at 11th level is a reasonable reward for clever tactics...

Gluttony: Hi and his spellbook weren't so much, "How do I mini-max this?", but, "How should I know what spells to choose? I chose 'sorcerer' for a reason, you know!"
So it was more that he couldn't think of any 'good' spells he wanted, and then they'd come to a river, and he'd say, "Hey, 'Breathe Water' would probably be really handy!"
So it wasn't over-the-top metagaming, but it went far enough I decided that I'd prefer to stop it.


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19-Jan-2013 Game

We had several 'special guest stars' this game: Our Runequest GM got the dates wrong and showed up at Shiro's players' house for the game. Who are we to say, "No?" We handed him Halek's character sheet, I gave him Halek's background, and he rolled with it. All I'm going to say is, Halek's behavior this session is NOT MY FAULT. Similarly, my younger son *really* wanted to 'play some bad guys' again, so he was in charge of the hill giants at the top of the Storval Stairs. Their decision to throw rocks at Hi instead of finishing off Halek is similarly Not My Fault.

I am also happy to resume awarding the Silver Tsuto Award. This week's winner was a dire bear, who fumbled twice, was criticalled by Raesh, and was triple-criticalled by Raesh... ALL IN THE SAME ROUND! Way to go, bear! You inpire us all to greatness! Or at least great incompetence!

=====
11-Kuthona-4707 (continued from last game)
Halek sniffed the air. He pulled some grass from the ground, rubbed it between his fingers, and let it drop, testing the wind. He felt the soil, sniffed it, and brushed it off his hands. "We go that way," he said, pointing to the massive broken limbs and indentations in the earth left by the marauding giants. Leaving their horses stabled, the party proceeded, using Shiro's phantom steeds to improve their pace, hopeful that they would catch the giants soon. They first tracked the giants to the scene of yet another massacre, a farmstead where all the inhabitants had clearly been carefully and deliberately slaughtered. Raesh, Hi and Shiro looked at each other with hard expressions and Raesh spoke up. "These crimes are unforgivable. If we find this group of murderers, and there is no reason to doubt that they have performed these atrocities, I move that they be executed outright for their crimes."
She looked expectantly around and was met with grim nods of approval by the rest of the group. They continued to follow the trail of the giants. Sure enough, shortly after midday Shiro made yet another spectacular Perception roll and saw the giants in the distance, over 300 feet away. Raesh did not want to simply kill them outright, but wanted to learn why they were behaving in such a brutal and destructive manner. The party (save Halek) dismounted. Raesh hailed the giants. The giants responded by charging the party.

As the giants raced forward, the party recognized that these were no ordinary stone giants; they were horribly deformed with ogre-like features, and were carrying ogre hooks. Raesh winced. She did not like ogre hooks. But these giants were clearly ogre-stone giant crossbreeds, and as far as anyone in the party knew, would be considered abominations by all giantkind. Where had they come from? Who had allowed them to live? As they asked themselves these questions, Hi casually dropped a fireball among the stogre giants (yeah, I made that up. Yeah, it makes me feel clever. Sad, really.) and Halek and Raesh opened fire. Shiro performed and took a couple of shots, just because it seemed the popular thing to do.
Another fireball, a critical hit from Raesh's composite bow, and by the time the giants were in range to throw rocks there were only two left. Their hurled rocks bounced harmlessly off Raesh's plate mail and shield, and the party finished off the giants.

The group quickly determined that none of the giants spoke common, Shoanti, or any language other than Giant. In addition, they radiated evil, and were clearly responsible for the slaughters they had seen, as their bags contained both human and livestock remains (including half an aurocks(!!)), many human-sized personal belongings, and a few valuables.
Raesh did not hesitate. She proclaimed the giants' crimes and executed them. Sarenrae did not object. On closer examination, the party was horrified to discover that all of the stogres had been tattooed with sihedron runes. They had unwittingly assisted in the sacrifice of further souls to the Runewell! Raesh scowled, "We must be very careful from here on out, we must try not to kill until we have the chance to remove any sihedron marks."
Once the examination was completed the bodies were stacked and burned. Words were said by some, but at least one party member just enjoyed the warmth of the fire...

Without even sorting the booty, the party put it carefully in the bag of holding and returned to town. The mayor was exceedingly surprised to see them back so quickly, and even more surprised to learn that the giant problem had been eradicated. As they took out the bag the giants had been carrying, the mayor was able to identify most individual's remains or possessions. The mayor pointed out that some of the loot was from homesteads that had been completely wiped out by the giants, so there was no one in town to claim it. As usual, the party donated all such loot to the temple of Erastil to help those families that had lost family members and were struggling with their losses. The cleric of Erastil blessed them for their generosity, but could do little more for them. Raesh, Shiro and Hi scoffed at the idea that they had done anything requiring reward.

They next visited the Twilight Academy. The head mage asked them about the giants, learned that they were half-ogres, and acknowledged that, as a paladin of Sarenrae, Raesh had been duty-bound to eradicate the threat, so the extermination of the giants required no reward. As for the reward for returning Dialena's things, the party finally agreed on six spells of up to 4th level in a spellbook, plus one 7th-level scroll. Hi chose Summon Monster VII for the scroll. The spellbook would take a week to prepare.

The party spent the rest of the day assisting the town as best as they could. Raesh provided healing and Cure Disease. Halek, Hi, and Shiro provided manual labor on farmsteads that had been hit by the giants. By the evening, the party were the saviors of Yet Another Town, and no one would hear of them paying for accommodations. They had the best rooms in the inn (which wasn't saying much), and were provided with supplies and directions to help them reach the Storval Stairs.
They learned that the Storval Stairs were a giant staircase close to 600 feet long, with 2-foot steps climbing 400 feet to the Storval Plateau. It was one of the lowest points along the cliff face; even a few miles away from the staircase the cliff between the plateau and the lowlands rose back to 800 feet or more.

=====
12-Kuthona-4707

Between the possibility of combats with giants, the Storval Stairs, and the fact that they had an excellent stabling location, the party decided to leave their horses in Galduria and proceed the remainder of the trip on Shiro's Phantom Steeds. With the excellent mobility provided by the magical steeds, the party bypassed Wolf's Ear entirely, camping along the east side of the Lampblack river (away from the Churlwood) for the evening.

=====
13-Kuthona-4707

One more day of hard riding brought the party to the shore of the river across from Ravenmoor well after dark. Although there was a ferry station on this side of the river, it was unmanned and there was no bell. Shiro sent Dancing Lights across the river, and the ferry station on the other side was similarly unmanned. Halek promptly dove in and swam across the river. Hi Dimension Doored the rest of the party across, and they waited for Halek to finish his swim. Once they had all arrived in Ravenmoor, they assessed the situation: There was no ferryman, nor anywhere for one to stay. The entire town was surrounded by an 8' pallisade save the entrance on the river. No people were visible, and no one came out to greet them. Raesh called out, "Hello, the town!"
A voice called back, "Quiet down out there! You want to wake everyone up? What's wrong with you?!?"
Approaching the voice, the party met Hanser, a local merchant whose house was unfortunately close to the ferry. He told them that there were no inns in town, and they should just camp near the ferry and move on first thing in the morning. He was very eager to be rid of them. They obliged, leaving him to whatever it was he was doing and moving through town. While there were a few people still out in the evening, on seeing the party they quickly vanished into buildings. None of the buildings were labeled; you could not tell a house from a store from a tavern from a smith's. It was as if the entire town wanted to avoid visitors at all costs. The party finally found the city hall, only remarkable for the gallows in front of it. The rope was cheap, but serviceable, and the group decided to camp in the square in front of city hall. Halek went back to the ferry, picked up the boat, and carried it back to the camp. When the other party members questioned him on his behavior he explained, "They told us to camp near the ferry. Now we are near the ferry."
Their curiosity satisfied, the party settled in for the night, Halek sleeping under his newly-obtained boat.

=====
14-Kuthona-4707

As dawn broke, Halek (with a crit Perception roll) heard several villagers worriedly discussing their missing ferry boat. Halek dutifully picked up the boat, carried it back to them, and said, "Your boat is not missing."
They asked him why he had stolen their boat, and he provided them the same explanation he had provided his party. Looking Halek up and down, the townsfolk decided not to argue with him. Raesh performed her morning devotions and Halek his morning exercises, while Shiro and Hi slept in as usual. When the mayor arrived, he was curt but polite, and the party heard a similar tale: Giants were roaming the area, and Ravenmoor had closed its gates and strangers were not welcome. While Shiro's player was out of the room, Raesh told the town that they were headed to Jorgenfist to end the giant menace, and proceeded to crit her Diplomacy roll. Not only did she charm the mayor, but, feeling that the townsfolk could use a bit of "redemption" for their lack of hospitality, she asked that if Shiro were to perform, the townsfolk would all dance. The mayor was confused, but agreed, and spread the word among the townsfolk. An elderly woman asked Halek to carry her, and he promptly obliged, carrying her to various gardens, letting her sniff flowers, and otherwise acting as he had been trained since birth.

Once Shiro's player was back, Raesh suggested that Shiro perform for the townsfolk. "What should I play?" he asked.
"Oh, perhaps something lively..." Raesh replied casually.
Sure enough, in an epic "Footloose" moment, once he was playing, the townsfolk started to dance. Even the old woman Halek was carrying had Halek dance with her. Shiro randomly inspired competence (or whatever it is that bards do that's not lascivious or corrupt) on several townsfolk, and the town broke into an impromptu festival. Halek played tug-of-war with a dozen young children (it's gotta be something about Halek -- I hadn't told the player that Halek loved to play with kids). Hi put on a fireworks performance.
By the time the party was done entertaining the crowd, they found they were in another town that welcomed their presence. Unfortunately, it was time to move on, so Shiro summoned his Phantom Steeds, and they rode north towards the Storval Stairs.

=====
15-Kuthona-4707

Other than it being my wife's and my "Golarion anniversary" (December 15, 1987. Yeah. I'm old. She's not. I'm a cradle-robber. She was 5.), it was an uneventful day as the party rode up the west side of the river, away from the stairs and prying eyes. The random encounter tables did not love me this trip.

=====
16-Kuthona-4707

Another event-free day; the party arrived at the foot of the cliff below the Storval Plateau (yeah, I should look up the name of the cliff, but I'm really feeling lazy right now) just at nightfall, and decided to camp at the base of the cliff. Once again, no encounters.

=====
17-Kuthona-4707

As the party pondered the Storval Stairs, Hi pointed out that his Dimension Door could easily reach the top of the cliff 800 feet above them. So they skipped the staircase entirely and Dimension Doored to the Storval Plateau. They decided they should at least condescend to look at the top of the staircase, and were unsurprised to see a crude stone structure there, guarded by what looked to be a single hill giant. They fired a Silenced arrow into the hill giant, but it bounced off his thick hide and fell to the ground beside him. The remaining set of arrows were more accurate (much to everyone's chagrin, Halek used one of the +2 giant bane arrows) and the giant was heavily wounded, but still managed to lob a boulder off of the nearby stone building, setting off the alarm.

Some days, having extra players just makes combat far more interesting than it should be. As I mentioned, Halek was being played by our Runequest GM. The giants were being played by my younger son. So as five hill giants poured out of the stone building, Halek charged into the middle of them, not only taking 93 points of damage, but preventing Hi from effectively fireballing the center of the group. However, the hill giants were apparently not interested in going for the kill, as the giant on the end threw rocks at Hi instead of finishing off Halek. Big mistake. Raesh quickly moved in to take care of one end of the line of giants, while Hi prepared to take full advantage of the open terrain to cast fireballs at the other. Shiro inspired courage and cast Haste.
As Halek and Raesh got full rounds of attacks, hill giants fell. The remaining giants continued to hurl rocks at Hi as he fireballed them, ensuring everyone was taking plenty of damage, but no one (other than the giants) was dropping. Soon enough, the hill giants were exterminated. Once again, all the giants had been slain outright in the course of battle, and, sure enough, close examination revealed Sihedron rune tattoos on all of them. Raesh cursed.Shiro frowned. Halek received massive amounts of healing, and the party looted the hill giant's hut. Much to their surprise, the hill giants had far more than mere silver and gold: They found a carved mammoth figurine that Raesh's player desperately hoped was a Figurine of Wondrous Power (her Crimson Throne character named her elephant figurine "Stampy"), but it wasn't. They found a jewel-encrusted eyepatch Halek identified as being from the Lyrune-Quah. They found a Varisian +2 defending bladed scarf, plus many potions, a quiver no one could identify, many magical arrows, and the Lost Crown of the dwarven Pallgreves clan. Raesh and Shiro looked at each other, wondering who could manage to return the crown without getting their heads caved in. Best of all was a mithral anklet decorated with moons, butterflies, and stars. Halek fumbled his Appraise roll, so I told him he believed that the anklet had been worn by Desna herself. Cue much hilarity as Halek became extremely indignant when anyone doubted the veracity of his assessment, decided that Raesh was the only one holy enough to carry this relic (and proceeded to call her "Holy One" and avert his eyes from her), and went WAAAAY above-and-beyond the call of duty in roleplaying the issue to the hilt. By the end of the day, Raesh was utterly tired of Halek's attentions, and Halek's player asked me if I would kindly continue Halek's delusions when I took over playing him next session. Great fun.

The hill giants defeated, the party proceeded to the Iron Mountains. I *finally* rolled an encounter, but it was a venomous snake swarm, the party spotted it hundreds of feet away, and Hi barbecued it without any fanfare at all. They had snake for dinner that night, camping just outside of the valley that they knew must lead to Jorgenfist.

=====
18-Kuthona-4707

The party proceeded as cautiously as possible up the valley, but by mid-morning were spotted by a patrol of two stone giants with three dire bears. The stone giants released the bears and tried to flee while the bears engaged the party. Unfortunately, one bear met Halek. The other charged Raesh and performed the magnificent fumble-fumble-miss combination, followed up by Raesh's crit-triple crit-hit-bear takes 117 points of damage combo. Shiro inspired courage and stood defiantly against one of the bears, striking it repeatedly with his rapier and using windy escape to avoid its gnashing teeth. Though the bear did occasionally show signs of discomfort when Shiro scored a critical hit, the entire fight seemed more of a delaying action that lasted until an actual combatant arrived to slay it. I *thought* one of the giants was going to get away, as Hi was fireballing the other one, but it was not to be; even at full move the party perforated and dropped both giants, Halek using up the other +2 giant bane arrow in the process. One proved to be dead, but the other was able to be stabilized. They desperately wanted to question him, but unfortunately, no one spoke giant.

The party was faced with a dilemma: They had used precious resources defeating this scouting party, and could use a rest as well as some way to communicate with the captive, but as soon as the scouting party failed to report in, the fortress would be on alert. What to do, what to do...

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Saturday, January 26, 2013 (already played)

Grand Lodge

NobodysHome could you provide the stats for Stogre Giants wielding Ogre Hooks? That could be just wrong. I like it.

Our party hasn't figured out the need to be careful with killing things marked yet. Kudos to your party for that one.

Good read as always!


Mazra wrote:

NobodysHome could you provide the stats for Stogre Giants wielding Ogre Hooks? That could be just wrong. I like it.

Our party hasn't figured out the need to be careful with killing things marked yet. Kudos to your party for that one.

Good read as always!

I'd love to say I did something clever, but I didn't. It didn't seem like applying the ogrekin template to giants applied, so they were statted as stone giants wielding ogre hooks.

In other words, a 'special effect' instead of a new build.

Sorry!

Grand Lodge

No need to apologize. Cool enough!

Thanks.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
NobodyHome wrote:
Halek sniffed the air. He pulled some grass from the ground, rubbed it between his fingers, and let it drop, testing the wind. He felt the soil, sniffed it, and brushed it off his hands. "We go that way," he said, pointing to the massive broken limbs and indentations in the earth left by the marauding giants.

A regular Leatherstocking, that one.


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26-Jan-2013 Game

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, this was a fascinating session. I was sick, so it was a shorter-than-usual session, and the party went to extremes to avoid combat with any marked stone giants. They used Invisibility Sphere, Dimension Door, and Silence to great advantage, all but one of my giants hopelessly failed their Perception rolls to detect such tactics, so the only 'fights' were a silenced Halek coup de gracing three sleeping bears (6d6+51?!?! Yeah, make THAT Fortitude save, bears!), and yet another epically-lucky moment where they heaped a ton of nonlethal damage on Conna the Wise. Yeah, it's hard to call it 'luck' when your party keeps choosing ideal tactics again and again and again...

I have to admit, I'm getting less and less worried about a TPK by Mokmurian, and more and more worried he's going to end up pasted before he gets to do anything.

Anyway, on with the story...
=====
18-Kuthona-4707 (continued from last game)
The party was at a loss as to what to do. They needed to question the giant, but they had no way of communicating with him. They could teleport back to Magnimar, but that would leave the giant alone and exposed for as long as they were gone. After some discussion, they decided he would probably be OK for a few hours, so they checked his bonds one final time and then teleported to Magnimar.

The concierge of the Blue Bunyip was overjoyed to see them, and asked whether they would be staying. Shiro replied that they were just passing through, but did grab a few cucumber sandwiches while he was there. The concierge hovered around them expectantly, but they were in a hurry, and departed the Bunyip without their usual tip. Although he was a consummate professional, the concierge was unable to fully hide his disappointment. GM Note: Hmm... now THERE'S a great Runewell of Greed candidate...
The party hastened to Dockway, where scrolls and wands of various translation spells (Comprehend Languages and Tongues in particular) were in great supply. Not wanting to spend too much money, they eschewed a wand and chose to get three scrolls of Tongues instead. Scrolls in hand, the party attempted to teleport back to their giant captive...
...only to have Hi roll a 00 for a teleport mishap. After some discussion with the players about what would be 'more fun' (Raesh's player disapproved of making each player roll separately for their 'mishap', which most likely would have resulted in spreading the party across all of Varisia and wasting weeks reconvening), we played it by RAW, Hi rolled his die, got 'on target', and they arrived at the giant only slightly the worse for wear.

Shiro used one of the scrolls of Tongues and started conversing with the giant. Unfortunately, his Diplomacy roll of 41 put the giant squarely in the 'Team Shiro' camp, so the besmitten giant answered any and all questions Shiro asked. In spite of his best efforts, however, Shiro was unable to convince the giant that the Sihedron tattoo he bore placed his soul in peril of destruction. They got a general layout of Jorgenfist, learned of the various giant encampments around Jorgenfist, and even learned of Cinderma the taiga giant and her watchtower guarding the entrance to the valley. Shiro offered the giant the chance to be released to the Storval Plateau and translated Raesh's "request" that the giant pledge not to seek out unnecessary combat against smaller, sentient creatures. When the giant objected that an honorable death would be preferable, Raesh generously offered to slay him quickly and cleanly should he wish it, but only after removing his tattoo. He counter-offered to face her in single combat. Being uncertain of the state of the party's resources and not wishing to waste precious spells and healing for the day, she did not choose to accept. The party, having gained much valuable information and feeling they were at an impasse, then removed the giant's Sihedron tattoo against his will, healed him, and suggested that now that it was clear he'd assisted them, he should flee. He did not need to be told twice, and fled for the wide expanses of the Storval Plateau.

The party moved to a point just before the entrance to the valley that contained Jorgenfist, cast Invisibility Sphere on themselves, and proceeded in. They saw Cinderma's tower, exactly as described, and Jorgenfist proper. Shiro's knowledge roll was insufficient to determine the nature of taiga giants, so they decided to leave the tower alone. Hi Dimension Doored them to a point just below the walls and between two of the encampments, and then to the top of the walls. Finally, at the top of the walls of Jorgenfist itself, one of the stone giants in one of the watchtowers crit his Perception roll and heard them. He came out onto the ramparts searching for them and bellowed out a warning to his fellows. The party, being the party, stayed absolutely still and silent as he searched for them, and his second roll trying to locate the invisible party failed utterly, so he decided that he was just hearing things and went back into his watchtower. The party noted that each watchtower contained at least one stone giant, and there was one stone giant training a mammoth in the courtyard. Hi spent the remainder of the time of the Invisibility Sphere spell studying their location, then teleported them back to Magnimar.

The concierge of the Blue Bunyip was overjoyed to see them again, especially when they asked for their rooms. Hi worded their request extremely carefully: They did not want to displace anyone already in their rooms. A few rolls later, it was determined that only Halek's room was occupied, and Hi offered to double up with Halek. Raesh payed the concierge 2 p.p. for the rooms, above their going rate, but further disappointing the concierge.
The party decided to make a trip to the Magnimar library and find out more about taiga giants. Learning that they are highly spiritual by nature and not at all evil, the group was very happy with their decision to leave Cinderma and her kin unmolested. They returned to the Blue Bunyip and relaxed for the evening. At 5:00 pm, Kaede Kobayashi showed up to perform on her lute. As usual, as soon as she crossed he threshold she reverted to her natural form. Shiro was clearly pleased, but made no move to interrupt her performance. Dinner was excellent, with roast aurochs, roast pheasant, potatoes, and other 'comfort food'. Raesh and Hi went to bed. Halek headed for bed, but Kaede stopped him, asking if he would kindly escort her home. Shiro nobly volunteered to escort her, so Halek went to bed. Shiro escorted Kaede home, and noticed that the walk was perfectly safe; it seemed far more likely that Kaede enjoyed the company more than needed protection. Once they arrived at her house, Kaede invited Shiro in 'for a drink', but Shiro gallantly declined, stating that he had important business on the morrow, but he greatly appreciated the invitation.
Shiro walked home alone, and was not assaulted.

=====
19-Kuthona-4707

As usual, Raesh and Halek were awake far before Shiro and Hi. In spite of their Rings of Sustenance, Hi and Shiro still enjoyed the comforts of sleeping in. Once the party was awake, Hi first cast Invisibility Sphere on the group, then teleported them back to the wall of Jorgenfist. This time there were two giants in each tower, and a half dozen more in the courtyard. Their Perception rolls were certainly not the stuff of legend (nothing over a 5). The party chose to ignore them all and proceed to the root of the problem. Hi Dimension Doored them to the top of the pit in the center of Jorgenfist and Shiro used his wand of Silence to silence them as they proceeded down the ramp underground.
The first alcove had three sleeping dire bears in it. Shiro Silenced Halek as he coup de graced them all. The second, third, and fourth alcoves were empty as far as Raesh and Shiro could tell. The final alcove was in an interesting tactical position: There was a passage off to the west, a passage off to the north, and an alcove. This would be an ideal 'choke point' if anyone were trying to prevent further incursion into the underground area, but there were no obvious foes. On searching the alcove, both Shiro and Raesh easily spotted the stone giantess there, watching the ramp for intruders. She was definitely different from the other stone giants; she wore a simple black dress and carried no weapon. The party easily identified her as a caster of some sort.

Raesh signaled to Halek that he was to do nonlethal damage; she did not want any more souls powering the Runewells, and she hoped to question someone with knowledge of the tunnels if possible. She and Halek combined for a surprise attack on the hiding giantess. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you're an evil GM), Conna rolled a very high Initiative, so after the surprise round, when her round came up, she desperately gestured at the party with arms out, palms up, and no weapons. Raesh recognized the gesture of surrender and immediately ceased attacking while signalling to Halek to do the same. Shiro cast Silence on the entrance to the cave, and dropped the Silence that they had been walking with.
First in Giant, and then in Common, Conna said, "We cannot talk here. Please come with me."
The party, recognizing a plot point when they saw one, proceeded to ask only a few questions to ascertain that they were not being led into a trap. Feeling that Conna was being forthright with them, they proceeded to follow her to the shrine of the ancestors. Both Shiro and Raesh easily made their Knowledge: Religion rolls to recognize an ancestor worship shrine, and the entire party could feel the malicious presence there, a being of such hatred that, if is were not for its love for Conna, would be assailing them. They asked Conna if she had a Sihedron tattoo, and she told them that she had refused to be marked with it.

Conna's story was tragic: Mokmurian was her son. As he had grown in power, she and her husband had been proud, until the day came that Mokmurian had challenged her husband Vandarrec and deposed him. This was normal in stone giant society, but then Mokmurian had proceeded to take them to Jorgenfist, and to sacrifice Vandarrec in the shrine. The magnitude of sacrificing one's own father in a shrine of ancestor worship was not lost on the party. Conna wished nothing more but to return the stone giants to their old ways, and to abandon the folly of an attack on the humans of Varisia. She asked the party their intentions, and when they told her that they sought to free the stone giants from Mokmurian's evil influence and slay the ogres and hill giants she became downright friendly. To aid the party, she drew a map of the underground as she knew it, warned them that Mokmurian was a powerful wizard and spent his time in the library below, and asked them to avoid killing any stone giants they could. The party readily agreed to these terms. In return, Conna distracted the stone giants who were supposed to be guarding the passage as the party, Invisibility Sphered and Silenced, moved past. They passed Enga Keckcia, kobold extraordinaire, without her detecting them, as well as the ogres in the tannery. They even chose to ignore the lamia priestesses in the temple of Lamashtu for the moment, although they made a mental note to "cleanse" it on the way out. They Dimension Doored past the trolls guarding the entrance to the library, and proceeded down the stone passage...

Party leveled to 12th level (As mentioned earlier in the thread, I gave them experience for each fight they avoided, so it was plenty.)

*** End of Session ***

Next Planned Session: Not yet set. I'm supposed to be making ribs and potato salad Friday night for our Saturday Runequest game, but something tells me the players are going to show up, help me with the cooking, and force me to run them. I love my players. But I've been uber-sick the last couple of days, so I'm skeptical it's going to happen...

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah. Now that I see what your previous question is in reference to, I totally agree with Shiro. They should get the XP for finding a way around their problems that doesn't involve reducing to 0 HP as quickly as possible!

Liberty's Edge

Awesome as usual. FYI, I flagged one as a double post.


HangarFlying wrote:
Awesome as usual. FYI, I flagged one as a double post.

Thanks! Appreciate it! I had no idea how to delete it. The usual; you hit "Submit" instead of "Edit", and suddenly you're getting e-mails that evening that you double-posted.


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I finally finished the whole thing and all I can say is just wow. You and your group are awesome after just starting to run this campaign all I can ask is if I can't use some of your ideas for my campaign. Just started Gming fairly recently and must say this makes me want to be a better GM.

Also get better soon your players want you better im sure and I bet many of us readers do as well.

Grand Lodge

Another good read. Your party is doing a great job avoiding encounters.

Curious, did you award XPs for bypassing the Lamia and Trolls? What if they come back and destroy them later? Would it be zero XPs for them then? I am not trying to be argumentative, but trying to figure out if something similar happens in my campaign, what would be the best course of action and awards. My thought is 100% award for non-evil they avoid or save; plus I may be tempted to give them a bonus for saving a non-evil giant and removing the rune. But award only 50% for evil encounters they avoid, maybe even just 25%, so as to provide some incentive for the party to finish the job later.

Look forward to the next one. You are not that far ahead of us, but just enough to give me ideas for when we play these events. It has been fun following you along.


Mazra wrote:

Another good read. Your party is doing a great job avoiding encounters.

Curious, did you award XPs for bypassing the Lamia and Trolls? What if they come back and destroy them later? Would it be zero XPs for them then? I am not trying to be argumentative, but trying to figure out if something similar happens in my campaign, what would be the best course of action and awards. My thought is 100% award for non-evil they avoid or save; plus I may be tempted to give them a bonus for saving a non-evil giant and removing the rune. But award only 50% for evil encounters they avoid, maybe even just 25%, so as to provide some incentive for the party to finish the job later.

Look forward to the next one. You are not that far ahead of us, but just enough to give me ideas for when we play these events. It has been fun following you along.

I'm afraid that with my party, it's easy to give them 100% for bypassing the lamias and the trolls, because you know darned well they're going to come back and exterminate them. There is NO way Raesh is going to let that temple go.

So yeah, they'll get 0 XP when they kill them later, but knowing my group, that isn't going to matter.


Lord Otter wrote:

I finally finished the whole thing and all I can say is just wow. You and your group are awesome after just starting to run this campaign all I can ask is if I can't use some of your ideas for my campaign. Just started Gming fairly recently and must say this makes me want to be a better GM.

Also get better soon your players want you better im sure and I bet many of us readers do as well.

Feel free to loot my ideas willy-nilly; I know I've 'borrowed' from other GMs. But if you start posting a campaign journal and a drow paladin of Sarenrae shows up, I know a certain player who might be tracking you down. :P

In all seriousness, this weekend I've got tiki bar tonight, cooking all night tomorrow, then RQ on Saturday and Carrion Crown on Sunday, so the poor RotRL crew is going to have to go a week without an update.

What can I say? I like to game and cook too much!


I can finally respond to the post now since I have finally caught up on the thread! I have enjoyed reading your posts and I am planning on starting my own ROTRL campaign in the next couple of months. I constantly move around every couple of years, so getting a good regular gaming group is hard to come by. I would love to have your players or participate in a gaming session that had dedicated and experience players. I feel roleplaying and character/NPC developement is key to Pathfinder style games. I look forward to reading your campaign updates and wish you the best of luck.


First of all, I want to say Wow! I've really been enjoying reading these write-ups. I almost feel like I was there to watch while your group was playing, instead of just reading about it. I've read up to Foxglove Manor so far, and it's brought back a lot of fond memories of the RotRL campaign I played in a few years ago. Which leads to the question, have you ever had a player play a character that was crazy?

NobodysHome wrote:

The party heard scrabbling in the next room, and found a small washroom with a hopelessly-diseased rat trapped in the bathtub. Raesh quickly dispatched it. No one had the urge to eat the dead rat.

GM Note: OK, I love the author's writing, but why was it necessary to list the effects of eating everything in the house? What kind of gamers does this guy GM for? Seriously. "I eat the rat." Yeah. None of my players said that. Ever.

I played two different characters during our campaign. Both were crazy. One was a quiet kind of crazy. The other was a complete lunatic. The party never knew when he would do something ridiculous. Needless to say, he tended to cause lots of problems for the group. I actually started rolling Will saves to see if he would do whatever new thing had come to mind, but he always seemed to fail. Unfortunately, I was absent the day the party investigated Foxglove Manor, otherwise I'm sure something in there would have wound up at least getting tasted. I can definitely see the GM describing the rat and me rolling a 3 on my Will save and saying, perfectly straight-faced, "I eat the rat." And then having to duck all the dice that would get thrown at me.


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Judael wrote:
I can finally respond to the post now since I have finally caught up on the thread! I have enjoyed reading your posts and I am planning on starting my own ROTRL campaign in the next couple of months. I constantly move around every couple of years, so getting a good regular gaming group is hard to come by. I would love to have your players or participate in a gaming session that had dedicated and experience players. I feel roleplaying and character/NPC developement is key to Pathfinder style games. I look forward to reading your campaign updates and wish you the best of luck.

Eek! My evil twin has found me! Everybody flee! ;-)

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