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Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hooray! The move's the hard bit - everything else is just details.

And... he HAS internet, after only 4 days without! :(

Now that all the computers are set up, I can get to typing. May 11 post, here I come!

(And the awesome news is, not a single computer was lost during the move. Considering we've got 4 "in use", 1 "standby", and 3 "storage", having 8 computers survive the trials and tribulations of a move is nothing to sneeze at.)

Glad to hear that! I always consider moving computers to be the most nerve-wracking aspect of moving! ^^;;

Well, I managed to get the summary written up and sent off for review, but considering that Shiro and Raesh's players are off at E3 until Friday, we'll see whether they get their edits in in a reasonable amount of time...

Shiro's player at least says he's read it and he likes what he sees...


Aw... wow... I haven't received the player edits yet, and I just opened the box with my session notes... Gotta add Brandi to the writeup.

Yes. Brandi. With an "i". Blame Shiro. :-P

So we're doing a short session tonight, and I can yell at them all to have their edits done on Monday or I'm posting whatever the heck pops into my teeny little brain.

So yeah, I lied. Monday night looks like a good deadline at this point. We've got a game tonight, California Academy of Sciences tomorrow, Carrion Crown on Sunday, but NO SCHOOL ON MONDAY!!!!! It's summer vacation! Woo hoo!!

Brilliant! Gotta get my Shiro on!

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11-May-2013 Game

OK, it's been a LOOOONG time. So long, in fact, that I'm sure I'm going to omit large portions of the narrative. Fortunately, I have three eager proofreaders to keep me honest. There was no combat, and hence no Silver Tsuto Award, but it was an epically-fun session that might have gone on quite a while longer if we weren't all dead tired by the end of it. It's going to come across as "The Raesh Show", but that's intentional -- Shiro will get his turn soon enough...

03-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

The party gathered their kites, and immediately realized that the best possible place to fly them would be from the rooftops of Azlanti Keep. They headed up, and for once Hi's player didn't roll a random encounter. Arriving at the keep, Raesh explained to the on-duty guard that they would like to return to the rooftops to fly kites. One miraculous Diplomacy roll later and the party was back on the roof with the off-duty guards, unpacking, assembling, and flying their kites.
The guards were very interested in the activity, and first started making small friendly wagers on whose kite would fly the highest, and then asking to participate. The party gladly broke out the remaining kites and doled them out to some of the off-duty guards. In particular, they socialized with the sergeant on duty, a human named Fennerel. The party stayed there long enough for the shift to change, and socialized with the second group of guards as well. They learned that the guards of Azlanti Keep were duty-bound to the city, not any politicians inside of it, and hence were far friendlier-inclined towards the adventurers than many city guards would be.

The afternoon passed pleasantly enough, and soon wore on towards sunset, and the party decided they wanted to attend the evening ceremonies at the temple. Hi obliged and teleported them back to the temple. Shiro had fully expected to end up in the ocean, and was a bit surprised when they landed spot-on on the temple steps. They proceeded inside. As they made preparations for the evening ceremony, Shiro decided to mingle with some of the other paladins. He asked me whether there were any female half-elf paladins training at the temple. I doubted it, but I rolled, and sure enough, there was one. I dubbed her, "Brandi," as there was a bottle nearby. Sometimes, I just make bad life choices.
Shiro chatted with Brandi for a bit. When she mentioned that she was a "forlorn elf" because she no longer lived with her parents, but spent all her time in the temple, Raesh rolled her eyes so animatedly they nearly popped out of her skull.
Fortunately for Raesh, there was suddenly a great commotion outside: A full-grown silver dragon had landed on the steps outside the temple, and was asking for Rae'Sheleth by name!
Sure enough, as Raesh, Halek, Hi, Shiro, and Brandi went out the door, they found Etrenne in her full silver dragon form, waiting outside for them. Her silver eyes gazed intently at Raesh. "I would have words with you. Words that others may not hear. Would you ride with me now, so we can observe the sunset together?"

Shiro nearly exploded. The notion of Raesh riding into the sunset on the back of a silver dragon was just too much for him to bear. Because Raesh had to be Raesh, she hesitated. "And we cannot talk... on the ground?"
Ignoring the hopeless noises coming from Shiro's direction, Etrenne responded, "No. I do not want any others to know of our conversation. I would take you to the skies, where those who want to know what we discuss must overcome your mind, or mine. I do not believe there are any in Absalom capable of such a feat."
Raesh acquiesced, and approached Etrenne as Etrenne lowered a wing and a shoulder for her to mount. Shiro stood raptly, taking mental images of the entire proceedings. Raesh mounted Etrenne, and Etrenne took off into the sunset. Shiro got a multitude of images, savoring every one.

The pair flew higher and higher, soon reaching an altitude of several thousand feet, gazing over Absalom in all its glory as the sun set over the massive city. "Rae'Sheleth, what is your intent in Absalom?"
"I do what is asked of me by my high paladin and by my temple."
"That is an acceptable answer from a paladin, but you are no ordinary paladin. Absalom is a city in pain. The slavers trade openly in the markets. The council performs random acts of cruelty on a single noble's whim. The entire city cries out for justice, and relief. And I have been working towards this goal. Slowly, subtly, never showing my hand. But inexorably trying to influence my students, and the council, towards a greater good.
"And you come along, and upset the balance of power. And attract the attention of the nobles, and of the city at large. And, in a single speech, do more to sway the Bardic Council than a decade's work on my part.
"You and I could do great things together for this city. We could end slavery. We could end the depradations of the council. We could turn Absalom into the shining beacon it once was, in Aroden's time. What say you, Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae the Redeemer?"

Raesh looked down at the city. She knew that with but a word, she could rain fire and destruction on the slave markets, ending them for decades, if not forever. She fondly imagined the slave markets in ruins, the slavers burning and suffering, and the slaves freed, and only stopped herself because she know how many innocents would suffer were she and Etrenne to follow through. She remained taciturn and careful. "My duty is to my temple, to my first paladin, and to my allies. We have duties that we still must attend to. I cannot promise to do anything else."

Etrenne's disappointment was palpable, in a very physical way. Her shoulders drooped. She sighed heavily. "Very well, Rae'Sheleth. I will return you to your temple. But, if you find at a later time that you wish to cleanse this cesspool, know that I will be waiting for you. I need your leadership. I need your visage. You are a beacon of hope to all in Absalom. With but a word, you could change everything around you. Remember that. Until then, I return you to your friends."
Etrenne swooped down and landed heavily, though not so heavily as to dislodge Raesh. Raesh dismounted. Etrenne bowed respectfully to Raesh, to Shiro, to Hi, to Halek, and to an obviously-flabbergasted Olytrius. "Rae'Sheleth, think on what I have told you. You know where to find me if you change your mind."
With that, Etrenne took off into the night sky.
Olytrius whistled. "Geez, Raesh. Talk about making friends in high places!"

Shiro wanted to do something very special for dinner, so he asked Jeryl where they could find the best restaurant in Absalom. She explained that there were two choices: The restaurants in the Petal District catered to high nobles, so the prices were extreme, the waitstaff was sycophantant, and the food was excellent. However, for truly great food, the Merchants' Quarter was superior, as the customers there cared far more about how the food tasted than about how they looked eating it. The party immediately decided on the Merchants' Quarter, and Jeryl recommended 'The Gilded Tulip', causing no end of giggling among my players.
Much to Raesh's displeasure, Shiro invited Brandi to join them. He also invited Olytrius, but Raesh didn't mind that nearly as much. Both accepted, and the party of 7 took the High Paladin's carriage to the Gilded Truffle. They had a spectacular meal, and Shiro footed the bill, to the tune of 500 g.p. plus a 50 g.p. tip. Both Jeryl and Brandi's eyes bugged at the amount of money Shiro so casually passed around.

After a truly fantastic dinner (indeed, they had to admit that it was even better than Ameiko's cooking), they rode back to the temple and retired.

GM Note: We do quite a bit of off-table RP'ing via e-mail or IM. Shiro and Raesh had a long conversation that night. Normally I don't include such things in my write-ups. But this one bares a bit of Raesh's soul, so with Raesh and Shiro's permission I've added key portions of it to the main write-up.

A few minutes later, Shiro scratched at Raesh's door. Recognizing the sounds of his paws, she let him in. He reverted to kitsune form. "When we went out last night, Olytrius gave you some news that hit you pretty hard... I saw you almost cry, or at least I thought so. I was wondering if you wanted to talk about it?"
After a bit more persuading, Raesh spoke. "I was always told of how Icobar found me, the lone survivor of a purge against the drow. They deserved it, for they were evil... unquestionably. But he had doubts that an infant would truly be evil by nature, so he could not condone the slaughter in the nursery. He rescued me... carried me out in his own arms and would not give me to anyone. When I was a tiny child, I remember bouncing on his knee... he was one of the very few who ever showed me genuine affection. Now I have learned that he had a real daughter. A daughter with an angel. I must have been such a pale substitute. And somewhere, I have a "sister"... a bright, shining creature of good... the daughter of his heart and blood. He never even saw me grow to fulfill his hopes... Here I am, a full paladin, true to what he envisioned. And all because of him. But doubtless I was merely a replacement for something better."

Shiro spoke at length. "I believe you would do Icobar a disservice to think that his thoughts for you were in any way untrue. I cannot say as to his reason for the things he did; but I can say this. What may start as a simple motivation, brought about by a previous loss; a need to serve; or just a need to do what is right... this may start someone down a path. It may make them take and protect a young child... But what grows after that, for the rest of his life... was surely not for the same reasons. He truly loved you, of that I'm sure. And you were a part of his life... You were his daughter, and if not of his flesh and blood, certainly of his heart. That I can tell just from the simple stories you have told me. And as for being a replacement for something better; please... You do yourself a disservice."

They spoke a bit longer, Shiro convinced Raesh to read Icobar's journal in the morning. Raesh excused herself, feeling the urgent need to spend time in prayer. Shiro asked whether she required privacy, and, when Raesh responded that it did not matter, he curled up in little fox form under her bed once again.
End of inter-player interlude

04-Abadius-4708 My favorite day of the entire campaign so far. But maybe I'm a little biased...

Raesh awoke as usual, performed her devotions, met Shiro, and they approached Olytrius, asking to see Icobar's journal. Olytrius agreed immediately, "Of course! I'd been hoping you'd read it before now. It's set aside for you. And I've had Xerashir prepare Plane Shift for you if you feel the need."

Raesh and Shiro retired to Olytrius' study, reading Icobar's journal. He wrote of the pointless journey to the wilderness, wondering what Sarenrae knew that he didn't. Then came the attack, where demons poured out of nowhere to overwhelm their party; all of them would have been slain had it not been for a rescue party of archons and angels who had appeared and driven off or slain the demons. He wrote at length of Irrylia, the angel who had healed him and many other members of his party. He wrote of her beauty, and her kindness, and the wrinkles around her eyes and her mouth when she smiled, and the absolute perfection of the feathers in her wings. It did not take a Perception roll to know that Icobar was in love. He wrote in great abstractness of how she decided to stay with him rather than return to the Celestial plane, how she became pregnant, how they named their daughter together, and how they planned to raise her on the Material plane as husband and wife.

Then, the Worldwound opened. Hell poured forth upon Golarion. Icobar was called to duty to fight this plague. And he know that Golarion was no longer a place he wanted his love nor his daughter to be. He begged Irrylia to return to the Celestial plane, to keep their daughter safe, with reassurances that even if he fell in battle, he would eventually be able to find them there in his afterlife. Tears streaming down her cheeks, Irrylia promised to return to the Celestial plane, and to keep their daughter safe from harm until he returned, or until the Worldwound closed. Icobar handed Irrylia his wooden symbol of Sarenrae, asking her to give it to his daughter Leilani so that she could remember him, closed his eyes, turned his back, and winced in agony as Irrylia returned to the Celestial plane.

Every night, he prayed to Irrylia, telling her of his journeys. He survived the battles in the Worldwound, returned to Absalom, and was soon assigned to battle the drow incursion to the north. When he entered the nursery and found the small abandoned baby that the other paladins wanted to slay, he knew he had a new purpose: He must raise her as his own, and prove to the others and to Sarenrae that all races were redeemable with love, care, and kindness. He adopted her, and raised her as his own. Every night, he prayed to Irrylia of her progress. He told her when she learned her first word, when she learned to walk, and when she learned to first hold a wooden scimitar. No father ever could have been more proud! He prayed of her exploits, and of her temper, and of how proud he was of her progress. As he aged, his entries became sadder, as he realized that he would not survive long enough to see her reach adulthood. His final entry, in a barely-legible scrawling hand, was, "Irrylia, my love. Age has overtaken me. I am not long for this world, and will seek you in the next. Please watch over our daughter Rae'Sheleth for me; I fear I have done her a grave disservice by bringing her to Absalom, but I have never been anything but proud of her. I will see you soon, my Love. Icobar."

Raesh wiped a tear from her eye, unashamed. "I have done Icobar a grave disservice."

She and Shiro left the study and approached Olytrius. "Did you find what you needed?" he asked. Raesh nodded.
"Do you want to go to the Celestial Plane?"
Raesh answered, "I'm not sure that will be necessary..."
Shiro looked horrified. "Aw, c'mon, Raesh! We could go to the Celestial Plane! We could meet an angel!"
Raesh looked uncomfortable, "I think I learned everything I needed to know by looking at Icobar's journal. I am not sure that we need bother Irrylia." Even Hi looked disappointed. Raesh eyed her companions. "Do you really think we should do this?" Both Shiro and Hi nodded furiously. "Very well." Resigned, Raesh turned to Olytrius. "We will go to the Celestial Plane to meet Irrylia. When will Xerashir be ready?"
"She is ready now! Let me get her!"
Shiro, Hi, Halek, Raesh, and Xerashir met in the temple library. They joined hands, and Xerashir performed a Plane Shift to take them all to Nirvana.

The world was beautiful. The sunlight was bright, but not too bright, nor too hot. A cool breeze, but not too cool, rustled the green grass and the leaves on the green, green trees. The air was scented with flowers, grass, and just plain growth in general. A few clouds scudded across a perfect blue sky. Shiro drank it all in, then spent a moment rolling in the luxurious grass. In the near distance, they saw a white house with dark brown trim at the top of a small hill. In the greater distance was the massive fortress of Heaven rising into the sky. A small dot with wings, probably an angel, was flying away from them towards Heaven.
They approached the house. As they came within a few hundred yards, a tall winged figure with a huge hammer came forth from the house to observe them. She flew towards them, and the party stopped and waited for her.

The angel landed. She was at least eight feet tall, beautiful, with blonde flowing hair and white wings, a white robe, and a large bronze hammer. She gazed upon the group, dropped her hammer, and embraced a startled Raesh with her arms and her wings. "My daughter! You've finally come!"

The party stood, utterly flabbergasted, for several moments, before recovering their poise enough to introduce themselves. Irrylia led them to her house, where they found a strange, dual-natured abode. Her daughter Leilani was clearly of human stature, as half of the furniture was designed for a (tall) human; Raesh found it quite comfortable. The rest of the furniture was angel-sized, and far too large for the party members, even Halek. Irrylia made them tea, and Shiro was delighted to find that the same teapot poured each person's favorite tea as Irrylia served them. He tried Halek's tea, made a face, and decided to stick with his own; his favorite blend from Minkai, even better than he remembered.
They chatted with Irrylia for hours. She explained that she had heard all of Icobar's prayers, and knew all about Raesh's childhood for the first few decades, but was saddened when Icobar died and she no longer heard of Raesh's progress. She was extremely happy to see that Raesh had attained full paladinhood, and cooed over her quite a bit. Most of the afternoon was spent telling Irrylia of their exploits; she seemed just as interested in Raesh's days training at the temple as she did in Raesh's accomplishments slaying dragons or driving off incredibly evil outsiders. In return, Irrylia spoke a bit of Raesh's sister Leilani. She was a Life Oracle, destined to spend her life on the Material plane, but not called there yet. Irrylia was insistent that they not meet her, as Irrylia wanted to keep Leilani safe on the Celestial plane as long as possible. Leilani was training with the hound archons to be a combat healer, and Irrylia was hoping her training would be complete before she was called to travel to the Material plane.

After many hours of pleasant conversation, they headed back towards the shift location. Looking at the beautiful pastoral scenery, Raesh smiled a bit, "Go ahead Shiro, I will hold your things for you." Shiro could not resist, and turned into his fox form, scampering around the grass joyfully, nipping at party members' toes, and dashing off into the trees to play. Irrylia could not resist such temptation; at one point while Shiro was running off, she too shifted into tiny fox form and took off after him like a shot. She hit him broadside and Shiro and Irrylia tumbled about playfully as the other party members watched astonished, wondering, "Do angels really DO that?!?!?!"

They finally reached the appropriate spot, Irrylia returned to her angelic form, and she turned to Raesh. "Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae. I know that you have had a hard life, and you are not accustomed to such expressions. But know that you have a family here, on the Celestial plane, and we will be waiting for you. Icobar will return here in a few thousand years, and I wait for him patiently. As he and I will wait for you. And some day, you and Leilani will meet, and you will be sisters. You will always have a family here, and you will always be welcome. Of that be sure."

Raesh looked at Irrylia, countless emotions (for Raesh) playing across her face. After a moment, she stepped forward and embraced Irrylia warmly. Shiro was nowhere near as reticent, and Irrylia rewarded him by wrapping him in her wings and giving him a huge bear hug. Hi was utterly buried in her hug, and Halek accepted the hug with aplomb. Xereshir cast Plane Shift once again, and they returned to the Material plane, only to find that an entire day had passed on the Material plane while they were visiting Irrylia.

It was already around 8:00 pm when they got back. They decided for a quick dinner at the Saucy Wench, and once again Shiro invited Brandi and Olytrius along. Raesh was annoyed at Brandi's inclusion, but kept a perfectly stony face. The only space they found was in the region of an absolutely abysmal flutist who was chasing off customers for tens of feet around him. Much to Brandi's delight (and everyone else's relief), Shiro convinced the flutist to cease and desist, and he then performed for them and drew quite a crowd. After a fun-filled evening, they returned to their rooms to sleep for the evening. Raesh prayed to Irrylia to thank her for her hospitality and her kindness. One natural 20 later, Raesh knew that Irrylia had heard her prayers, and was a bit abashed, but a bit grateful as well.

The party retired for the evening.


After Raesh's devotions, the party decided it was time to smoke out Larena DuPris. And what better way than to head to the parliament buildings? They put on their best clothes (except Halek, who looked as he always did), bought Jeryl a 75 g.p. Courtier's outfit, and had her lead them through the Petal District and on to the House of Lords, but they quickly learned that they could do nothing but observe the proceedings, and the balconies were well over 60 feet from the speakers. It was as if the entire building had been designed to allow the speakers to speak without fear of being detected or influenced! They went to the House of Commons, and learned that people who wished to speak could line up and wait in line for 8-12 hours for their chance to speak.

Shiro happily got in line, and started bribing the other people in line to allow him to cut. It took him quite a bit of gold and influence, but in only a couple of hours he was at the front of his line.

Shiro made an eloquent speech about how the House had been infiltrated by a traitorous lamia who was charming and influencing house members to do her will. He did not name Larena by name, but spoke so clearly that few could doubt who it was he was talking about. It caused exactly the ruckus he was hoping for, and he and Raesh scanned the crowd, Sensing Motive to see whether they could see anyone more obviously upset than the others. They spotted two men, Turin Crest and Lyell Vorse, both of whom seemed far more upset than the rest of the crowd. They left the building and, amid the chaos, tried to approach Turin Crest. His footmen would not allow them to approach, and told them they'd need to set up an appointment. They promptly arranged an appointment at his office the following day at 11:00 am.

We had to end the session at that point, as I had to figure out how she was going to deal with this new development.

*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 14 June 2013. (Already played)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber




...AND THEN...?

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Sorry, real life intruded in some major ways, so our playing time has been extremely abbreviated.

The last writeup is sitting in Raesh's hands, and she's trying to find time to do her edits. (She keeps saying, "Post without me," but there's a whole section where we need Raesh's input.)

We have a full Hollandaise-Pathfinder day planned on Saturday as life returns to semi-normalcy, so hopefully you'll get a couple of writeups in the next couple of weeks.

We have no vacation plans in August, so hopefully real life will start behaving itself, allowing us to resume fake life. :-P

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I figured. Just wanted to make sure everything was OK on your end. After all, it had been a month!

Here's hoping the next installment comes soon! As much as I want to see the group back on the AP, I understand why you're taking time out to do this. They're about to be stuck for a long while in a place with less opportunities for roleplay. Get it while you can!

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14-June-2013 Game

This was mainly a "reacquaint yourself with your character" session, so again, lots of RP, no combat, and no Silver Tsuto Award. It looks like they'll wrap up Absalom in 3-4 sessions, and we'll resume Book 5 of RotRL.

And no, I had nothing to do with moving my thread to the campaign journals section; I knew it would end up there eventually...

Finally, a quick retcon: Once the temple cashed out all the loot from the necromancer and assassins, the party got around 25,000 gold each. Shiro decided to buy a wish, and went to the Arcanamirium to purchase it. He recognized Dean Tyrell Fargurst as the wizard they had encountered in Magnimar, but the dean pretended not to know him, so Shiro returned the favor. With the dean's help, Shiro wished to extend his lifespan to one comparable to an elf's; that is, roughly 800-1000 years. The wish was cast, and seemed successful, and Shiro knows that he's increased his lifespan, though even Dean Fargurst isn't sure by how much.

05-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

Leaving chaos strewn about in his wake, Shiro smiled, and the party decided to take a carriage back to the temple.
Once at the temple, they had to decide where to go for dinner. After a short discussion, they all decided on the "temple" of Cayden Cailean.
They walked to the temple, and were again amused when they could hear the festivities for several blocks before they arrived at the temple proper. As they went inside, they were delighted to find that a traveling circus was in Absalom, and apparently the performers were relaxing here. Two female tumblers danced about the floor, first tumbling together in a human "wheel", then rising straight up with one on the other's shoulders, then falling back again into the wheel. A juggler practiced his art while riding a unicycle among the tables and drunkards (no easy task). A bear in a tutu held a mug of beer in one paw (again, no easy task) and balanced on a ball. In the corner, the circus knife thrower was taking many of the customers to town in a throwing competition, but he was not cheating them. The level of drunkenness and bravado simply ensured that he had no lack of challengers, and the level of drunkenness also ensured he won every contest. For a moment, the party pondered sending Halek in to challenge the thrower's skill, but they decided it would be too hard to remove the daggers from the wall after Halek embedded them there and chose not to pursue it. Scanning around, Shiro could recognize other performers by their clothes, but either they were not in the mood to perform, or their skills were such as could not easily be employed in a "tavern".
The party retired to a table to watch the performances, Hi took his usual spot in a bonfire, and there were drinks all around. Shiro decided to play a lively tune to accompany the acrobats, and they first smiled at him and timed their tumbles to his tune, then, once he and they were done, they came over to talk to him.

Their names were Helma and Laesha. He learned that they were members of a circus troupe from Osirion, traveling through Absalom on one of their regular tours. Shiro told them that he was from Magnimar, and it turned out (a natural 20, of course) that they not only knew Magnimar, they had performed there! They both showed an exceeding interest in Halek. Was he a real Shoanti? Did he really have such endurance that he could run all day and all night in the blistering sun without getting tired? Shiro grinned and assured them that Halek was indeed capable of great feats of endurance. He offered to introduce them, and brought them over to the table. To his surprise (and Raesh's and Hi's), Halek was extremely quiet and introverted, and showed no interest in the girls whatsoever. After a few minutes of cajoling short reponses out of him, the girls shrugged their shoulders and turned their attentions back to Shiro. Shiro noticed an older man watching him, dressed somewhat like one of the circus troupe members but more raggedy, as if some kind of somber clown. From his demeanor and the way he was watching Shiro intently, Shiro guessed he was the ringmaster.
Sure enough, after the girls had been at the table for 15 or 20 minutes, the ringmaster barked out some orders in a foreign language, and the resting troupe members tumbled back onto the floor. The party sat back, enjoyed the free show, and spent several pleasant hours chatting with the girls during their breaks. At some point during the evening the bear had finally passed out, and was lying flat on its back, snoring, empty beer mug still gripped in its paw.
At the end of the evening, the ringmaster came over, introduced himself, thanked the party for their kind attentions, and gave them complimentary passes to tomorrow's show in The Coins. Shiro was a bit disappointed to learn that he would not be IN the show, but only watching it, but he figured that was good enough.

As they left the "temple", a liveried footman approached them. There was a horse-drawn carriage across the street. Shiro recognized the livery as that of Lord Gyr himself, Primarch of Absalom. Shiro examined the footman carefully, and recognized that it was a man in disguise, though he did not recognize the man. The footman informed them that Lord Gyr had invited them to his manor, and would they be so kind as to accept a ride there?
The party Sensed Motive, examined the footman carefully, and decided to take the risk. Raesh entered the carriage first, then very clearly drew her scimitar and laid it across her lap. Halek entered next, sitting across from Raesh and pulling out his earthbreaker. Woe betide the villain who sat between those two! Hi got in and sat next to Halek, and finally Shiro bounced in and sat down cheerily next to Raesh.
Violating proper protocol, the footman entered the coach with them, sitting down next to Hi. He slapped the wall of the carriage twice, and it started moving.

"I heard about your little speech at the low council. It was quite inflammatory. And I want to make myself perfectly clear. Absalom is a city of law. There is nothing illegal about a lamia being in this city. If she is indeed using magic to manipulate the minds of the low, or even the high, councilmembers, then she is indeed guilty of a crime punishable by death. But this is not your decision to make. I have seen no evidence of such influence, but now that I am alerted I wll keep my eyes and ears open. But I have seen your methods. I looked the other way when you killed the Red Mantis assassins in the streets. Once again, when you slew them in their nest at the perfumery I chose to accept that it was in self defense, and for the good of the city. But then you slew the necromancer! You invited a silver dragon into my city! A dragon! I cannot tell you how irresponsible that was! And now, I know you hunt the lamia, and I know your type; you will kill her first and find the evidence later.
This is unacceptable and illegal, and I will not have it. You are not to investigate her. You are not to approach her. If she mysteriously ends up dead, I will have you all arrested. I will not believe an argument of self-defense, unless she is so foolish as to attack you in broad daylight in front of dozens of witnesses. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

Raesh seethed. Yet again she was being taken to task by city authorities for performing her duties, protecting herself and her friends, and ridding the city of several deadly menaces. Instead of addressing all of the charges, the party pointed out that they had neither summoned nor known about the dragon; that had been nothing more than an (un)happy coincidence. They decided to trust Lord Gyr (for it was he) with the entire scope of their tale, and Shiro described the Sihedron runes, the soul-stealing, and the runewells. He used Prestidigitation to show Lord Gyr what the rune looked like. Lord Gyr found it fascinating, but assured them he had seen no such runes nor soulless bodies, and if they could show him a soulless body, they would have a much freer hand in dealing with the lamia.

The carriage dropped them off at the temple of Sarenrae. Before they went in, Raesh asked Halek what was bothering him. "We know who she is. We know what she is. We know what she is doing here. We must kill her. But we hesitate, playing these political games. This is not the way of my people. She should be hunted down and exterminated."
Raesh responded. "Halek, I understand your feelings. But we are in Absalom, and we must obey the laws of Absalom. You heard Lord Gyr. If we go after her now, we will be arrested. And we cannot possibly take on the combined forces of Absalom. So we must find another way to make her make her move, that we may confront her."

The party, uncomfortable and wondering what to do next, went to bed.


Raesh performed her devotions, Halek his exercises, and the party prepared for the morning.

They breakfasted and headed for their appointment with Turin Crest. They found that his "office" in the Petal District was nothing more than a lower room of his house, converted to have an outside entryway and an official-looking sign on the outside pointing them to the door. They knocked, and were greeted by a kindly-looking older maid. "Oh, you must be Mr. Crest's eleven o'clocks! Come right in! Care for some tea and biscuits?"
As they waited, she brought them a tray of tea and biscuits. While the tea was somewhat drinkable, the biscuits were beyond recognition. Lumpy, hard, and white-grey, they looked more like halfling sling-stones than food. Undaunted, Shiro tried one.
And it nearly came back on him.
He made a magnificent Acting roll and declared the biscuits delicious. The maid beamed, "Oh, thank you, thank you, kind sir! You are too kind!"
Shiro managed not to say, "Yes, I am."

Turin opened his door for the eleven o'clock, saw who it was, and immediately panicked. "No! No! I won't see you! I won't have you spreading any more slander about Larena!"
His presence was enough. Raesh Detected Magic on him. Shiro Sensed Motive. It was clear that he was too far gone: She had charmed him for so long that he had truly fallen in love with her, and would protect her to his last breath. They knew it was hopeles, but Shiro tried a different tactic. "Well, if you won't speak with us, I guess we'll just have to go talk to Lyell Vorse."
"I don't know who that is, and I don't care! Get out!"
Knowing a hopeless case when they saw one, they turned to leave. The maid looked sympathetically at them. "Oh, dear. I wonder what you did to get him so riled up. You seem like such nice folks! Well, here, maybe a biscuit or two on the road will cheer you up."
She pulled two more biscuits from her apron and stuffed them into Shiro's hands. He wondered what he would do with them? Hockey pucks? With a grin he realized that at the very least he was saving some other visitor from the ordeal.

As the time for the circus approached, the party headed for The Coins. They found the amphitheater in which the performance would occur, and got themselves good seats. The performance was wonderful! Tightrope walkers, tumblers, jugglers, clowns, animal trainers, the (hung over) bear, elephants, and more! The ringmaster was in fine form, barking out commands in Osirian as the performers went through their paces. The crowd applauded wildly at the end, and the party was left with their fundamental dilemma: What could they do next?
Finally, it came to them: Although they could not investigate Larena directly, Jeryl had told them of information brokers in the city who might be able to give them more information. They decided to approach Nuar in the Taurean Embassy first.

As they approached the Taurean Embassy, the footmen at the gate bowed deeply and opened the gates, as if they were expected. They were led straight in to a dimly-lit hallway, where Nuar sat in a large, comfortable, almost throne-like chair surrounded by benches. Raesh muttered, "Finally, someone who knows how to properly light a room."
Nuar looked over them. "Let me tell you how this usually works. You ask me for information. I name a price in information in exchange. You see, as an information broker, money is not so important to me. My currency is knowledge of the happenings of this city. If you have no knowledge to share, then you may pay a cash price, but it is much steeper.
"I will be the judge on whether the information you give me is worth the information you seek. But, as this is my career, know that I will not sell or pass on any information that I have not paid for. This would be bad for my reputation.
"Finally, know that the knowledge you seek is important to me as well. Lamias are infamous for using beast men as their shock troops, so, if your accusations are true, my people are in imminent danger. So you may find that you receive a discount from me. In return for this discount in the knowledge you seek, I ask only this: Help my people. They are easily misled. They can be dragged into wars in which there cannot possibly be any winners, and they will gladly fight to their last breath in them. Watch over them, protect them, and ensure they come to no harm because of the lamia."

Once again, Raesh seethed inwardly. Why did people keep asking her to do what was just and right? Did they not recognize her as a paladin of Sarenrae? Did they have some doubt as to her commitment or her devotion? Why did they feel the need to vocalize something so insulting? Of COURSE Raesh was going to protect his people, not because he asked her to, but because it was the right thing to do. And of that, none should ever doubt her.

The party explained the situation as Nuar listened. When they showed him the Sihedron Rune, he told them that that was the new mark being used on all of the slaves branded in Absalom. Raesh hissed. Larena was going for quantity over quality all right! But why hadn't Lord Gyr known? Nuar explained that such trivial details as the appearance of a slave brand was of no consequence to Lord Gyr, so it was unsurprising that he didn't recognize it. As a minotaur, Nuar was far more aware of the slave market. But if the slaves were all being branded, and had been being branded for the last few weeks, surely one had died by now? And surely someone would have noticed the lack of a soul?
Who would try to Raise Dead or Speak with Dead on a dead slave? Only someone seeking to know where other escaped slaves were hiding. So they were looking for a dumping ground for soulless bodies of escaped slaves.

So where in Absalom could you dump the soulless body of an escaped slave and never be noticed!

The party turned to each other, their eyes widening in realization: The Puddles!

"I suggest you see Grandmaster Torch," Nuar said.

Before they left, they had one more question: Why was the lamia so interested in Raesh?
Nuar responded. "I am surprised you have not yet figured it out, after hearing my people's plight. There are other races, far more dangerous than minotaurs, who might be turned to aid the lamia's master. You, young drow, are the world's only known connection to the drow armies who surely mass beneath us as we speak. As much as you might resent it, paladins can be forced to fall, and once they have fallen, their minds can be turned, and you might lead her directly to your people, where she might find an entire army ready and willing to serve her. You are her best chance at a great army that lies beneath her feet."
Raesh managed not to break anything, nor to harm Nuar. The notion that she could be broken was more than she could bear! To think that one might think she could fall so easily, or that Sarenrae would turn her back so readily, was blasphemy of the highest order. She was Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae, and she would never fall!

They left the embassy pondering how they would approach Grandmaster Torch. Hi worried openly about how a man scarred by fire would react to a pyromancer. Should he hide his identity, or would that make things even worse if he were to be revealed? The party had much to plan for...

*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Saturday, 20 July 2013. It's been a very eventful few weeks, but it looks like things are finally settling down to allow for gaming again.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
NobodysHome wrote:

14-June-2013 Game

Raesh managed not to break anything, nor to harm Nuar. The notion that she could be broken was more than she could bear! To think that one might think she could fall so easily, or that Sarenrae would turn her back so readily, was blasphemy of the highest order. She was Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae, and she would never fall!

I'll take "Things a Paladin Says Right Before They Fall" for $200, Alex.

Misroi wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

14-June-2013 Game

Raesh managed not to break anything, nor to harm Nuar. The notion that she could be broken was more than she could bear! To think that one might think she could fall so easily, or that Sarenrae would turn her back so readily, was blasphemy of the highest order. She was Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae, and she would never fall!
I'll take "Things a Paladin Says Right Before They Fall" for $200, Alex.

You're a bad, bad man!

And I don't know if you're looking at the Second Darkness thread, or Useplanb's journal, but we *did* manage to get some game time in on Saturday, between trips to Umami Burger and IKEA, and I'm working on the writeup this week. Hopefully this weekend you'll see another post, and then we're playing on Saturday.

As Shiro's player says (since he's doing it in our Carrion Crown campaign right now), "Offroading is HARD!"

Quick update for everyone: Yes, we ARE still playing. We have three sessions under our belt, Larena DuPris has been "dealt with", and this Friday the group is likely headed back to Magnimar to resume the AP.

So where are all the writeups? Well, #1 has been sitting in Raesh's player's lap for the last week, so we're now all ruthlessly badgering her, which would be fine except that that means I'm behind by TWO full write-ups, so she can badger me right back.

Give us a week or two... several write-ups should appear...

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27-July-2013 Game
...Also known as, "The game that almost didn't happen because the players were too busy running amok in real life." We were supposed to start around 11 am, but Raesh's player insisted on taking us to the Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland (lots of fun), then Umami Burger (nom nom. Highly recommended.). We finally got back to my place, only to have the gamers declare my table inadequate, and off to IKEA we went for a new table, which we then (of course) had to assemble before starting the game. Fortunately, we were all too full from Umami Burger to run off to dinner, so some gaming occurred.

While we still wait for a coveted Silver Tsuto award, I've decided that I am never again going to run Red Mantis assassins. They look really cool on paper, but they are utterly ridiculous "crit magnets" at my table. After a particularly bad round for them, even Shiro decided to take a swing and I deadpanned, "Just watch. Shiro's going to quadruple-crit and one-shot this guy." Nope. Shiro only triple-crit. Yeah, that's the kind of day the Mantises had. All day.
06-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

The party left the Taurean Embassy in the early evening, had some discussion as to where to have dinner, and ended up deciding to stop at a random restaurant in the Merchants Quarter before heading back to the temple for the evening. (Yes, believe it or not, I didn't even have to give it a name.) They had a good dinner, discussed their plans for the next day, and turned in for the night.


[b]Raesh[/b] performed her devotions, Halek his exercises, and the party prepared for the morning. Jeryl arrived, and they asked her about visiting Grandmaster Torch. She explained that while she herself was less-than-enthusiastic about entering The Siphons, there was a local healer/witch known as The Green Strumpet who was well known for attaching herself to adventuring parties and guiding them wherever they wanted to go. Jeryl believed that all they would have to do would be to enter The Puddles and make their presence known, and the Green Strumpet would find them and most likely assist them in finding Grandmaster Torch. Jeryl had her pride, however; if the party would prefer her guidance, she would do her best.
Shiro reassured her that they didn't think any less of her for knowing her limitations, and told her she could lead them to the edge of the Puddles, and they would proceed from there.

As the party travelled by foot to the Puddles, Jeryl described the situation: The district had always been prone to flooding, and hence populated by many of Absalom's poorest and most desperate. When the quake rocked Absalom a decade ago, Puddles had sunk several inches, and was now perpetually flooded. The main power brokers were Haigen Topkick, nomarch of Puddles and head of the local guard (known colloquially as "Muckruckers"), Lady Seichya of Tevineg, who ran The Brine, one of Absalom's most notorious prisons, and the Green Strumpet, a wise woman and healer reputed to be half gillman. Most of the district's income came from salvage work on ships that blew into the district during storms, but much of that income was lost to adventurers who also had a taste for looting shipwrecks. So Puddles was a district of those too poor to leave, too stubborn to abandon their homes, or too desperate to give up hope of a "big score" in one of the wrecks. Haigen meant well, and tried to provide for his people, but the cutthroat world of salvage resulted in a great deal of violence and death that he could not prevent. They arrived at the edge of Puddles, and Shiro dismissed Jeryl for the day, telling her they'd see her bright and early tomorrow. Jeryl gratefully accepted the dismissal, turned her back on Puddles, and strode off. Shiro summoned phantom steeds for the party, and they rode in.

While they were prepared for the misery they expected to see, the reality was still depressing. Underbridge in Magnimar was a sea of rotting houses and starving, desperate humanity. Puddles was that in 6-12 inches of standing water. It stank. The houses were rotting from the bottom up. Those few "stores" that were open were piled with sandbags, scrap wood, or just plain mud to keep the wares out of the water. Residents scurried away from the party on their magnificent steeds, and there was no sign of the Green Strumpet. As they moved deeper into the Puddles, they saw the Little Inner Sea, an area that had once been a park, but that was now eternally flooded. Three groups stood at the edge of the "sea": A group of obvious residents, perhaps 20-30 strong, led by a man dressed in the ragged tatters of what might once have been a uniform. The party guessed that the man must be Haigen. The two other groups were obvious adventurers; one group of four and one group of six. All three were gazing intently at a new-looking wreck in the center of the lake. It was obviously going to be a race to reach the ship first.
Shiro and Raesh had a very brief discussion: If the residents got to the ship first, they would receive much-needed food and supplies. The adventurers might need the salvage for other reasons, but it was far more likely that Haigen's group had the most need for the wreck. That being decided, they rode to meet him. The other townsfolk cowered away as they approached, but Haigen stood tall and proud. "What can I do you folks for?"
Shiro explained that they had no personal interest in the wreck, but that they felt that the residents of Puddles needed the salvage the most, and they would like to help. Haigen was absolutely willing to let them help, and asked what they could do. Shiro summoned five phantom steeds to help the townsfolk both get to the wreck, and carry stuff from the wreck.

This unfair advantage was too much for the smaller adventuring group to bear. Two of the members pulled out their bows and rained arrows on the townsfolk who were trying to mount up. A few obscenely-high rolls by the GM later, one of the villagers dropped dead to the ground. As Halek drew his earthbreaker, Raesh hissed, "Do not kill them, except those who killed the townsfolk!"
The instructions were easy enough for Halek; he galloped forward on his phantom steed, swung down at the fighter, criticalled, and the fighter vanished in a bloody spray. The other adventurers were nonplussed to have a high-level barbarian among them, so the ranger and cleric stabbed him. The mage was obviously gearing up for something, so Hi disintegrated him. Low-level wizard vs. Disintegrate? Bad.
The fight was completely out of hand. Two men were dead. Halek was about to rage. Raesh called out in her sternest voice, "Halek, Hi, that is ENOUGH! You there! Surrender now!"
The men didn't argue, and surrendered immediately. Halek dragged them back to the crowd. Raesh and Shiro exchanged significant glances. It was easy to see that Shiro was unhappy with the situation; to the point of showing a combination of fear and disgust at the swift and deadly actions taken against obviously weaker opponents. Their fellow party members were becoming a bit too bloodthirsty, and something was going to have to be done. Haigen declared the ranger's life forfeit for his unprovoked attack on the townsfolk, and summarily executed him. He released the cleric to his own recognizance. The other adventuring party watched the bloodshed and decided that no wreck was worth it. When Raesh learned that the wreck might contain perhaps 500 to 1000 gold pieces worth of salvage, she was even more incensed at the idiocy of all involved. In the aftermath of the battle, she knelt in the knee-deep water and prayed silently and fiercely to Sarenrae. She was joined by several denizens of the Puddles praying for their deceased.

She excused herself and the rest of the party from Haigen's company as soon as she could, and they rode off as the townsfolk reorganized themselves and started riding Shiro's phantom steeds to the wreck.

A few moments later, the group realized that they were not alone. A beautiful olive-haired woman strode beside Raesh, easily keeping up with her phantom steed. "That was well-done, paladin. You saved many lives today, and helped the people of Puddles to survive another week."
Raesh scowled. "No one should have died."
"Yes, but it happened, and you stopped it before too many died. Now tell me, what are you doing in my district?"
Raesh and Shiro decided to trust the Green Strumpet without hesitation. They explained the Sihedron Rune, and the soulless bodies, and their search for Grandmaster Torch. The Green Strumpet looked concerned. "Several weeks ago, Grandmaster Torch learned something that terrified him. He has retreated deep into the Siphons, and foul creatures never before seen there block the way to him. I know how to reach him, but I dare not go there, as it is too dangerous."
"I look at you, Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Sarenrae. Swear on your honor that you will protect me, and that no harm will befall me, and I will lead you into the Siphons and to Grandmaster Torch."
Raesh pondered how she could word such a promise. "I swear that I will do everything in my ability to protect you in the Siphons."
The Green Strumpet accepted this oath, and led them through the Puddles to a muddy opening leading underground. "You will have to leave your steeds behind. The passages are narrow, but the water is neither too foul nor too deep here."

GM Note: So I'd set up a whole list of 10 possible encounters in the sewers, and described things as they proceeded, figuring they'd have a few fights, get to the finale, and feel completely exhausted and exhilarated to have finished the Siphons. And of course Hi's die didn't cooperate, and they barely got one encounter before the big fight. So I had to make it the gugs, because Raesh really needed to kill her some gugs...

Hi cast Darkvision on everyone (including the Green Strumpet), and the party travelled deeper and deeper into the Siphons. The Green Strumpet proved amazingly adept at avoiding the denizens, leading them around oozes, crawlers, and other non-intelligent beasts. After some time, the party estimated that they were a mile or two in. Ahead, Raesh spotted a glimmer of fur and limbs, and every hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Gugs! She bonded her scimitar (Axiomatic Flaming Burst. Ow.) and charged. The fight with the gugs was short and brutal. Halek and Raesh carved them up, Shiro performed, and Hi blasted away at them.
To my great misfortune, as the last of the gugs dropped, Shiro made a massive (40+) Perception roll and spotted the Red Mantis assassins sneaking up behind the party. The Sarge, two high-level minions, and four "standard" CR8 assassins swarmed the party, trying to use the narrow passages to their advantage to flank the party members.

Things looked bad for the party when the assassins ambushed the rear of the party, poisoning Hi and dropping him unconscious to the ground (drow poison). Before the mantis leader could strike the killing blow, Raesh used King's Castle to swap places with Hi, and the mantis suddenly found himself face to face with a grinning, gug-blood spattered drow paladin. Unfortunately, assassins' base attack bonuses stink, and the assassins wasted a lot of attacks swinging hopelessly at Raesh. Even worse, the party could not stop criticalling. Every round Raesh got a double or triple crit. Most rounds she got more than one! Even Shiro got in on the act with a triple crit. With that kind of damage output, it was kind of moot that the assassins managed to drop the Green Strumpet right after she healed Hi. I *would* have had them attempt coup-de-graces, but they were just dropping like bugs... It was a VERY anti-climactic "climactic battle". Some days, your players' dice just hate you.

Having lost the Green Strumpet to drow poison, the party decided that their oath to protect her had to take precedence. Hi did not want to risk teleporting her to the temple, because no one had ever seen her outside of the water, much less outside of Puddles. After quite a bit of debate as to whether it might be safe to teleport her with some of her native water, it was decided that Hi would teleport alone back to the temple and bring help back to the sewers. Unfortunately, Hi, being Hi, didn't even think of not mentioning the gugs, and sheepishly returned to the party, Olytrius and Xerashir in tow.
Even after Xerashir cured the Strumpet of poison, Raesh insisted that she be the one to perform healing and thus honor her oath. Once the Green Strumpet was healed, she warned them that Grandmaster Torch was extremely paranoid, and they would have to approach a massive underground chamber filled with a deep lake, and call out their requests to him across the lake. Any attempt to enter the chamber or cross the lake would result in his flight. As they approached the lake, Raesh called out. "Grandmaster Torch! We mean you no harm! We are here to help!"
GM Note: I can't get Raesh's wording just right here, but I know I was listening for specific things -- Grandmaster Torch knew what had terrified him, knew why he was hiding, and knew what he had to hear to help. And it took a bit of time for Raesh to find the right path and start coaxing answers out of him. It was a very tense, very tentative conversation.
Eventually, Raesh convinced Grandmaster Torch that she needed to find the soulless bodies that they knew were in the Siphons somewhere in order to proceed. He gave her directions to walk a few hundred yards down a side passage. Once again placing her trust in her contacts, Raesh and the rest of the party members followed his directions.

They found themselves in a massive, faintly-lit chamber. Dozens, if not hundreds of bodies littered the floor. Many had had Gentle Repose cast on them. Every one was a slave. Every one was marked with the Sihedron Rune. And the party knew that if they checked, every single one would be soulless. Before going to Lord Gyr, they wanted to be absolutely sure. Xerashir quickly confirmed that all of the bodies were soulless; they had found the proof they needed for Lord Gyr!

Leaving Olytrius, Xerashir, and the Green Strumpet watching over the bodies, the party first walked out of the Siphons (Raesh insisted it was necessary in case there were any other gugs or abominations they missed on the way in. I hand-waved a few encounters for them), then teleported to Lord Gyr's manor. They were granted entry immediately and led to a pleasant waiting room. Lord Gyr arrived within a few minutes, looking irritated and a bit out of breath, but bright-eyed and eager to hear their tale. Raesh made opening remarks and asked Shiro to tell Lord Gyr the tale of what they'd found. As Shiro started to explain, he created a silent image of the chamber filled with bodies. Lord Gyr looked horrified at this image and immediately teleported the party to the chamber, where he himself examined the bodies. After a brief conversation wherein he spoke with both Olytrius and Xerashir he teleported the party back to his manor, took them into his den, activated some concealment magic, ordered the servants from the room, and pulled out a parchment.

"Lady Rae'Sheleth, Second Paladin of Absalom. This is a writ of termination for Lady Larena DuPris, along with any beings aiding and abetting her in her plans. She is currently residing in Pullyer Manor in the Petal District. Do you understand the magnitude of this order?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then we are done here."

Lord Gyr dismissed the party. Raesh held the parchment. They finally had a free hand to cut the head off the snake in Absalom. They had much planning to do...

*** End of session (Well, not really -- we went on for another 30-40 minutes, but that write-up fits in better with the next session ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 02 August 2013. (Already played).

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Immense apologies everyone. Today marks the party's arrival at the Runeforge, and my being FOUR full writeups behind. I blame Leilani entirely, for giving me a chance to type in the first person, which I've been finding much more fun.

However, I've almost completely caught up on Leilani's journal, I have the first of the four writeups perhaps two hours from completion, and I will desperately try to get back to weekly posts so I can at least keep up with our games.

And yes, I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing how the party manages the "wings of Sin" in the Runeforge...

Well done, as usual, NBH. I love the episodic nature of your writing. :)

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Aw, thanks! As a GM, I take a great deal of pride in my ability to slip "inside the heads" of my NPCs; in yesterday's session the party was walking down the street with Rilka, Shalelu, Halek, and Etrenne, and never once had to ask, "Who said that?" (Yeah, I should have attacked them with Red Mantis assassins for comedy relief, but I just didn't have the heart.)

Similarly, it seems like Halek and Shalelu are showing the first signs of mutual attraction. NOBODY expected that, least of all me, and I play both of them!!

So while writing the RotRL writeups I have to worry about who did what, completeness, and keeping the story intact. When I write as Leilani I just slip into her head and the words spill out. In abundance. Very viscerally satisfying. It's good to be the angel!

And as GothBard said, she's a "very outspoken" girl.

Anyway, the August 3 writeup is out for review by the players, and since Raesh's player has an "off week" from running Second Darkness, the edits should come back fairly quickly and we'll get this thread back on track.

EDIT: Yes, yet again we played an 8-hour session, and 6 hours in they were still running amok with the NPCs. It was finally Shiro's player of all people who said, "You know, maybe we should get to the Runeforge and start running the AP..."
But of course, he had to print all the Runeforge maps for me, so he had a vested interest in seeing them used...

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03-August-2013 Game
We've finally fallen back into a weekly game, if not a weekly write-up. We missed the weekend of the 9th because Raesh's player had a really rough day and we had to run her off to Rivoli for dinner (some things just Must Be Done), but we played the 16th, the 23rd, and we're scheduled for the 31st.

The Silver Tsuto award continues to elude us; I think it's just Absalom. It's too far away from Tsuto's grave to feel his dire influence. Hopefully now that the group is headed back for Magnimar and the actual AP we'll start seeing some hilarity again.

This session was entirely build-up to the final confrontation with Larena DuPris. Yeah; they got to kill some really fun stuff, and Shiro made a game-changing Perception roll and fateful decision, but you won't get to read about the final battle (and its lack of a monologue. Ahem. Raesh.) until the next write-up.

And yes, for those of you familiar with the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP, I ruthlessly used the map of Arkona Manor, along with a few of my favorite features from it, to create Pullyer Manor.
07-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

The party's very first discussion centered around who to tell about this new development. Olytrius? Etrenne? Some members of the town guard? They finally decided on Azlanti Keep. The guards there had impressed them with their honesty, integrity, and downright friendliness. They took a coach to Azlanti keep and, in spite of the late hour, were welcomed in. Raesh asked whether they might see the commander, and they were almost immediately led into a very Spartan office with a chair for each of them, a desk, and a chair for the commandante.
Moments later, a middle-aged human woman who had seemingly spent her entire life in the military stepped in. Her hair was close-cropped, and her body was clearly corded muscle under her uniform. She gazed at the party dispassionately. "Good evening. My name is Commandante Cressle. I am familiar with who you are, and what you have done for our city so far. How may I be of assistance to you?"
As they sat down, Cressle ordered a subordinate to bring them tea. Shiro in particular noted that it was sub-par; some kind of military blend that did not capture the essence of good tea. At all.

Raesh turned to Shiro, and Shiro almost gleefully spun the tale of the Sihedron rune, of the soulless bodies, of the machinations against the council, and of Larena Dupris. As a finale, he produced the writ of termination. Cressle's face showed no sign of emotion. "I see. And what is it you want from me?"
Raesh met her steely gaze with one of her own. "We wish you to be aware of what we are doing. Should we fail in our attempt to stop Dupris, she must not be allowed to proceed with her plan. All of Absalom is at stake."

Cressle leaned back in her chair and steepled her fingers. "Allow me to be blunt with you. Azlanti Keep does not get involved in the internal politics of Absalom. We deal only with threats to the city itself. So the fact that the lamia is seducing the council and turning their votes her way is meaningless to us; it is almost politics-as-usual here in Absalom. Lord Gyr's paper is similarly meaningless to us. However," she leaned forward and her gaze became intense, "the tale of soulless bodies, of threats from the past rising up to engulf the world, of minotaur armies being raised at our gates, of gugs in our sewers, THAT is a threat to Absalom herself, and that I cannot tolerate.
"I cannot openly send my troops into the streets of Absalom. The local guards would be rightly fearful, and I would be risking civil war. We would win, of course, but at what cost to our city?
"So here is my offer. Heed it well. I will open the inner armories of Azlanti Keep to you. Take whatever you need that you feel might assist you in slaying the beast. Return anything that survives the battle. In deference to your reputation, I will not move for 24 hours.
"In 24 hours, Azlanti Keep shall rise, and shall sack Pullyer Manor, burning it to the ground and slaying all within without mercy, as they represent a threat to Absalom. Guards will try to stop us. There will be great carnage. There may be civil war. But the lamia will die. Of this I can swear. Are these terms acceptable to you?"

Raesh looked at her friends, turned to Cressle, and replied, "Yes. Those terms are quite acceptable."

Cressle called in a staff sergeant, jotted a quick note, and handed it to him. He paled visibly. "ANYTHING, my lady?"
She did not bother to respond, but only fixed him with a withering glare. "Uh, er, this way, please!"
The sergeant led them down deep into the heart of the keep, past magical wards and alarms, dozens of alert guards, and many other sentries, finally arriving at the heart of Azlanti Keep and its armories. An ancient quartermaster hobbled forward. "And what might you folks be needing?"

Raesh looked at 4000 years of armaments, seemingly unimpressed, and asked, "Do you happen to have any holy monstrous humanoid bane arrows?"
Quivers were rapidly filled with arrows and bolts, until every party member had a full quiver of such arrows. The quartermaster looked puzzled, "Is that really all you need?"
Raesh gazed back, stony-faced. "This should be sufficient."
Shiro didn't really want anything, but felt bad because the quartermaster seemed quite proud of their weapons collection and took some arrows to make the quartermaster feel better.
Hi also picked up a wand of Dispel Magic.

Once out of the keep, they took a carriage back to the temple, debriefed Olytrius as to the situation, and retired to their cells for the evening, figuring all of them needed to prepare for the final battle on the morrow.


The moment Raesh finished her devotions in the morning, they caught a carriage to the Petal District, allowing themselves to be dropped off a few hundred yards out and to go on foot the rest of the way.
Their first order of business was to examine the manor itself. It was a fairly large estate, built in the Absalom (Greek, since I couldn't think of a better description) style. The grounds were mostly open grass, with a few bushes, olive and fig trees, and a very natural feel. The house itself was white, with white columns along the front porch and figures of grapes and grape vines carved throughout. A small servant's building stood about 30 feet from the main building, made of brown wood and clearly sturdy, but not made for appearance. The entire party could see the single gardener working in the front; Shiro was perceptive enough to see a second gardener working out back. The entire estate was ringed with a 10-foot-tall wrought iron fence.

It was obvious that the 'proper' means of entry was to approach the main gate, attract the attention of a gardener (or possibly someone in the main house), and wait to be let in. Instead, the party chose the "Hi" method of entry. One Invisibility Sphere, Silence, and Dimension Door later and the party was on the front porch undetected. Raesh sensed the Alarm spell on the front door, and Shiro promptly Dispelled it.
They slipped in the front door, not disturbing anyone in the main entry hall. Moving down the hall and around a corner, they spotted a maid. Shiro Silenced her, Halek grabbed her, and Raesh Detected Evil on her. Seemingly harmless, they took her into a side room they found (a guest waiting area, appropriately enough, though they identified the brandy as magically diseased, and Shiro managed not to drink it), bound her, and questioned her. Questioning was going poorly until Shiro broke 40 on his Diplomacy roll, at which point it became obvious the maid was smitten with the handsome and charming young bard.

They learned that, in addition to the master and mistress of the house, there were 9 servants: The two outdoor gardeners, an indoor gardener who was "a bit thick in the head", two maids, a butler,
a chef, a sous chef, and a handyman. The captured maid did not care for the chef or sous chef; they seemed quite sadistic to her, and she did not know why the masters kept them employed. There were also armed guards, as was fairly standard in Absalom manors, but she didn't know how many, though she never saw more than two at a time. She provided them with the rough layout of the house, including the massive indoor garden that none but the indoor gardener ever entered.
Finally, they asked her about Larena Dupris. She admitted that she'd seen many people coming and going from the house, but she didn't know where they went, because she was never asked to greet them or serve them.

In spite of her helpfulness, they left her bound and gagged in the visitor's lounge as they went in search of other servants. Left unspoken was the likelihood that they left her bound for Shiro's protection, rather than her own.

They proceeded to the end of the hall, finding a large statue of a beautiful woman that somehow looked amiss. On closer examination, they found that while most of the statue was of fine marble, her dress was of cheap plaster, and concealed a pair of skeletal legs. Urgathoa!
Now on their guard, they explored the rest of the lower floor, with the exception of the garden. Notable rooms included a library with treatises on both Urgathoa and Lamashtu, with the tomes on Lamashtu having been recently added, a smoking room whose cabinets were trapped with some kind of summoning spell (they identified the spell, but did not try to disarm the trap), a room with three statues, two of which detected as magical, though Hi could not discern their auras, and, of course, the indoor garden. As they moved through the house protected by the Invisibility Sphere and Shiro's stealth (he had left the sphere to talk to the maid), they captured any servants they ran across, questioned them, and left them in the visitor's lounge.
GM Note: Yes, I forgot to write down exactly who they captured, and it's been a while, but I know they captured two guards, one of whom detected as evil, and the chef and sous chef (both evil). Then things got hairy...

On returning to the main entrance, a guard on patrol performed admirably: He spotted Shiro, rolled a higher initiative, and managed to yell out an alarm before Shiro Silenced him. Two additional guards appeared on the balcony, firing down at the party with crossbows. Even more alarming, two leukodaemons appeared and started shooting. Raesh invoked Magic Circle Against Evil to protect the party, preventing the leukodaemon's swarm attacks from overwhelming the party. Not one to be bothered by a bit of blood loss, Halek left the circle, climbed straight up the wall (a climb check of 45 will do that for you), and engaged the guards and the daemons on the balcony. As Hi cast spells from below and Shiro performed, Raesh grit her teeth in frustration; she could not abandon Hi and Shiro or the leukodaemons' swarms would overwhelm them, but her bow was nowhere near as effective against the daemons as her scimitar would be.
The fight became even more tense as the mistress of the house arrived, proving herself to be a formidable cleric of Urgathoa. Unfortunately, the party made numerous saving throws to prevent her spells from doing anything too nasty, and Halek eventually smashed his way through the daemons and reached her, though not before losing around 150 hit points. She was already sorely wounded by Raesh's arrow fire, and dropped quickly.

As the party recovered from the fight, Shiro made a miraculous Perception roll: I counted the squares, the walls, and the high priest's Stealth check, and the resulting roll was in the 40's. Shiro made it, exactly. He knew someone was rushing down the back stairs. At first he warned the party that someone else was coming, but then realized that the priest was fleeing! The priest smashed the cabinets in the smoking room, triggering the summoning spells and bringing more daemons to his aid, and continued his flight.
In a moment of disturbing tactical acumen, Shiro decided that the priest must be fleeing through the door into the room with the status, and Dimension Doored the party there. I had them put their figures on the map. Shiro dropped Halek adjacent to the poor priest, with a full-round action ready.

Yeah, high-level clerics not in their armor vs. raging barbarians with full-round actions? Not so much...

The party realized the summoned daemons were bound to the smoking room, and Raesh took little time in dispatching them. They searched the rest of the house, finding many of my favorite features of Arkona Manor: The ever-clean toilet, the ever-warm hot tub, and all the other luxuries that made you think, "Ahhhh! This would be a nice home base for our party!" The guest bedroom was clearly unused; wherever Larena DuPris was staying, it was not in the guest room.
The clerics' office had similar disturbing clues: A long list of names, many of which were crossed off. Shiro recognized several of the names as being from the high and low councils. Every crossed-off name was a name Shiro had not heard. The party surmised that this was a "hit list", and the crossed-off names were nobles who had already been eliminated.

Having searched the entire house except for the garden, they peered in through the skylight. Gunn, the mentally-challenged gardener, was moving about, performing his duties. A massive plant in the center of the room included a flower shaped like a nude woman; she moved about and seemed to be conversing wtih Gunn. Shiro examined the plant from afar, but could not figure out what it was.
The party opened the door to the garden and were immediately subject to the plant's scent; both Hi and Halek went slack-jawed and listless. Raesh and Shiro closed the door and pulled Hi and Halek to safety. (Yes, believe it or not Shiro suddenly has one of the better Will saves in the party. Seems totally wrong to me, too.)

Steeling herself, Raesh covered her mouth and nose and went in to converse with the plant and the gardener. She beckoned Gunn to come out, but their conversation with him was not particularly useful; he loved the plant and took care of her, and seemed unaffected by her scent. Otherwise, he knew little of her or of the rest of the manor. Setting Gunn safely with Hi and Halek, Raesh once again went in.
The conversation with the plant was pleasant enough, but unfruitful. The plant lived in the garden and protected it from intruders, and in return the Pullyers fed it. It would not allow the party to explore the garden, but Raesh did not want to cut down an intelligent being for no purpose. After making a handful of Will saves to resist the plant's aroma, Raesh returned to the party, baffled as to what to do next. Shiro continued to question Gunn about the plant, and suddenly, in a bit of inspiration, he identified the plant as an "alraune", an intelligent carnivorous plant that delighted in burying sentient beings alive and devouring them slowly.
GM Note: I allow players to reroll Knowledge checks if they get a new source of information. I figure Gunn's description of the plant's habits were enough to justify a reroll for Shiro, and the roll was so high (something from a 2 the first time to an 18 the second time) I figured Shiro just suddenly recognized the description or something.

That was enough for Raesh. She headed back in, invoked Smite Evil on the plant, and demanded that it explain itself and let them through. The plant prepared to attack and we went to initiatives.
In perhaps the most single-sided, embarrassing, overkill moment we've seen so far, Raesh won the initiative battle and proceeded to roll enough criticals to obliterate the plant's 200 hit points and then some, rolling up some 250+ points of damage in her first round. Paladin cuisinart? Meet sad plant!

The party explored the garden and found dozens of shallow graves, each with human remains in them. Shiro identified the tattered clothing as noble, and recognized many of the family crests as those from crossed-off names on the list they had found upstairs. Searching the back rooms, they found dozens of family heirlooms worth tens of thousands of gold pieces, stockpiled and prepared for sale on the black market. Going through the paperwork, it was easy enough to determine that the temple of Urgathoa was funding itself by luring enemy nobles to the alarune, having it kill them, looting their bodies, letting the alarune devour them, and selling the heirlooms on the black market. Raesh was Not Pleased. They also found many robes and holy symbols of Urgathoa. Raesh decided that, wherever the temple was, it had to go.

Leaving the heirlooms alone for the moment, they searched the rest of the building, sure that there had to be a passage down somewhere. Remembering that the priest had fled to the statue room, they examined it more carefully, quickly determining that all three statues could be turned. Shiro cast Revelation (yet another "in Hero Labs but not in the PRD" spell) and determined that the middle statue was the key, while the other two were actually stone golems who would attack if you tried to move them.

Steeling themselves, the party turned the middle statue, revealing a staircase headed downwards. They descended into the darkness, wondering what they would find below...

*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 16 August 2013. (Already played).

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16-August-2013 Game and 23-August-2013 Game
The group wrapped up the Absalom sub-plot on the 16th, and then we had a very abbreviated game on the 23rd (curse Raesh's player getting a 'real' job, after all! Isn't gaming FAR more important?). Since the 23rd was so short, I thought I'd just include it here, and then roll into the LONG game on the 31st with my next post.

In theory, we wrapped up Absalom on the 23rd and returned to Module 5 of the AP, but of course, being my group, they spent another 6 hours on the 31st roleplaying through meeting all their favorite NPCs, so don't be surprised to see Absalom for another couple of posts. Ah, how I love my players!

As usual, there is no Silver Tsuto award, though I'm tempted to give Raesh some kind of "irritating the GM no end" award for her performance on the 16th. Seriously? No BBEG monologue? That was just WRONG, Raesh!

08-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

The party found an ancient flight of steps leading into the depths below Absalom. Before proceeding further, Hi cast Darkvision on the group. Descending perhaps a hundred feet below the surface, the party found themselves in a large room, perhaps 30' by 50'. The center of the room was marred by a horrific cesspool, stinking so foully that everyone had to make a Fortitude save to tolerate being there. Nigh-unidentifiable shapes floated in the muck, but some were clearly parts of humans. There were doors to the left and ahead of them. In front of the door to the left were two urns, both filled with what appeared to be clear water, but both of which reeked of magic. The urns were decorated with depictions of beautiful people whose flesh was melting away, revealing bones and rot beneath. The door itself was decorated with similar murals. Across the room was a large (12' tall) statue of Urgathoa, and behind her was a similar pair of double doors.
Totally random GM side note: At this point, I was trying to freehand draw the room, and the group started laughing at my attempts to draw a spiral staircase, declaring that it looked more like a sea cucumber. As I continued sketching the room, Raesh's player started wiggling her pen menacingly along the mat, and asked me, "What's this?"
Frustrated at not being able to draw a single room without ridicule, I impatiently asked, "What?"
"A pearlfish."
Look it up. Look up what they do to sea cucumbers. It's Not Good. And that's your educational note for the day.

The party had no desire to approach the urns, but proceeded extremely cautiously into the room. Shiro first checked the door behind the urns, hearing nothing, then the door behind the statue of Urgathoa. He rolled something completely ludicrous (mid-to-high 40's) and notified the rest of the group that prayers to Urgathoa were being made behind those doors. Raesh readied her bow and activated it as her bonded weapon, Halek pulled out his earthbreaker, and Shiro opened the door. Inside was a temple of Urgathoa, with a Daughter of Urgathoa standing at the far end of the temple in front of a massive curtain hiding the back of the room, and four obvious clerics performing rites over urns similar to those in front of the other doors. Raesh needed no prodding. She invoked Smite Evil, shot the Daughter three times, including a critical, one-rounded my poor priestess, and announced, "Forsake your evil ways and accept the path of Sarenrae or die."
Three clerics immediately surrendered. The fourth, with a hopeless roll, charged the party and channeled negative energy. His one-on-four fight with the party did not go well. As Raesh asked each cleric whether he was truly willing to give up his worship of Urgathoa, Shiro Sensed Motive. Two of the three seemed perfectly willing to give up their pursuit in order to survive. The third tried to lie, Shiro caught him at it, and Raesh summarily executed him. The other two felt better about their decision.
With yet another miraculous Diplomacy roll (you'd think he was a CHA-based character who'd maxed out Diplomacy or something...), Shiro convinced one of the surviving clerics to talk: Larena was in the meditation room, through the curtains, out the door in the back of the temple, left down the hall, last door on the left. The urns were waters of Urgathoa, granting disease and protection to those who washed in them. The other room was a storehouse for their formal robes and holy accoutrements, as it would be unseemly to have them seen upstairs. Trusting the cleric, the party followed his directions and came to a large blank stone door. Listening, they heard a woman casting spells. Halek shoved open the door.

The room was immense, at least sixty feet across, and the floor was covered with sand. And there, at the other end of the room, with mirror images dancing all around her, stood Larena Dupris in her half-woman, half-snake form. Kneeling in front of her was Turin Crest, clearly enraptured by her and paying no attention whatsoever to the party. She looked up at the party, smiled wickedly, and declared, "Ah, Rae'Sheleth and friends. I am happy you are finally here. Let me tell you how this will proceed."
Raesh responded with a curt, "No," Smite Evil, and a hail of arrows.
GM Note: Raesh's player knew darned well I spent a bunch of time writing up a monologue for DuPris. Seriously, Raesh? "No"?
The battle was short and brutal. Dupris raced forward, obviously under the effect of Haste, and used her reach to lay into Shiro. Halek couldn't hit her to save his life. Hi had trouble with her spell resistance. Then Shiro hit her with Greater Dispel Magic. Goodbye, Haste, Mirror Image, and Mage Armor! Hello, trouble for Ms. DuPris! Raesh happily accepted the attacks of opportunity, but learned that neither her Smite Evil nor her Holy damage was affecting Dupris. (I gave her levels of Master Spy to reflect her overwhelming influence in Absalom.) Unfortunately, her monstrous humanoid bane arrows weren't fooled, and Raesh just couldn't seem to miss. (I'm glad she wasn't using her scimitar; she rolled an obscene number of 17's and above.) Dupris turned her attentions to Halek, and whopped him for about 150 hit points. Unfortunately, he could take that kind of punishment.
Eventually, as always seems to happen to Raesh, she dropped Dupris under 100 hit points, and I (trying to build drama), said, "Well, if Halek doesn't kill her, he's dead, so I'd better roll in the open." Yeah, one natural 20 and a crit autoconfirm later and Dupris was snake pate on the floor.

Turin Crest was apoplectic, and placed the group under citizen's arrest. Raesh raised an eyebrow at him. "And what do you intend to do with us?"
"Present you to Lord Gyr, of course!"
"Oh, very well, once we are finished here we will accompany you to face Lord Gyr."
With Turin temporarily mollified, the party took to ignoring him.

Raesh stepped up, neatly beheaded the corpse, and put the head in one of the party's Bags of Holding as they explored the rest of the temple. The cleric's description had been accurate, so Raesh decided the temple must be cleansed. Hi teleported them to the temple of Sarenrae, where Raesh approached Olytrius in his study. She presented DuPris' head. "It is done, Olytrius. You are free. But we have found a temple of Urgathoa that must be cleansed, so there is work yet to be done."
A storm of emotions washed over Olytrius' face. There was relief, and joy, and concern, and finally a steely gaze that said that all was not right. "Who else knows about this?"
"Only Lord Gyr and the Commandante of Azlanti keep knew we were striking tonight."
"Good. Good. Let me gather our people and move out."
Hi did a sending to the commander of Azlanti Keep telling her she could stand down. "DuPris dead, manor secure, call off attack." The reply was as curt as expected. "Acknowledged."

The clerics and paladins of the temple were getting accustomed to having to cleanse areas, and were ready to depart in a remarkably short time. A veritable caravan of coaches filled with the clergy of Sarenrae proceeded to Pullyer Manor. Olytrius remained tight-lipped. They entered the manor and went straight downstairs to the temple. As Olytrius saw the pool, he started fishing around in it, much to the dismay of every non-paladin (and quite a few of the paladins) in the group. He pulled out ankle after ankle, until he pulled one out that visibly cheered him. "Aha! We're safe! Look at this, Raesh! What do you see?"
"I see an ankle."
"No, no! What about the marks ON the ankle?"
"There are no marks on the ankle."
"EXACTLY! This was a free man! This was not someone you could chop up and throw in a pool just because you felt like it. This should make us safe!"
As they proceeded into the temple proper, Olytrius explained: Absalom was a city of tolerance, above all else. Just because someone worshipped Urgathoa was not a reason to persecute them, destroy their temple, or murder them. While the party had cause to believe that the temple was willingly cooperating with DuPris, and therefore sentenced to death for getting in the way, Absalom politics were such that having hard evidence would help immensely. Once Olytrius was satisfied that there was concrete evidence that the Urgathoans had been murdering civilians, he assured the party that he could take care of cleansing the temple, and they should see Lord Gyr as soon as possible. Raesh gave Olytrius a stony face. She informed him that she was well aware of the laws and tolerance of Absalom. She had simply felt that the room upstairs full of the looted heirlooms of murdered Absalom nobles accompanied by the list of enemies of Urgathoa with lines crossed through the accompanying deceased would be evidence enough. Oh, had she neglected to show him that on the way down? Apologies.

The party decided that things couldn't be all THAT urgent, so rather than teleporting, they tracked down the coach they'd come in and took it to Lord Gyr's house, with Turin accompanying them and sure they were under his arrest. They were immediately led to Lord Gyr's study, where he was already waiting. "You are done already? That was fast?"
Instead of responding, Raesh reached into the Bag of Holding to pull out DuPris' head. Lord Gyr was visibly upset at this. "No, no! Don't pull it out! I don't need to see it! You'll get her blood on my carpet!"
Raesh was puzzled. "Do you not need proof that it is her?"
"Are you a paladin of Sarenrae?"
"Yes, I am."
"And you swear by your goddess that DuPris' remains are in that bag?"
"That is good enough for me. I do not need to see the grisly remains."
When Turin tried to protest, Lord Gyr had him led out of the room, and promised the party that he would be dealt with. Gently, but firmly.


GM Note: At this point we transitioned between the 16th and the 23rd, and I'm afraid it's more of a laundry list of activities than a coherent story:

Lord Gyr asked them what they would like as a reward: He could grant them a house, gold, services, a seat in the lower house, or what-have-you. They chose citizenship in Absalom as their first reward, and that was granted. After a week off to think about it, they also asked for a home in the Ivy District that they could rent out, but whose top floor would always be open so Hi could teleport them there at any time. Rather than adding up every mantis mask, scroll, spellbook, and the like, I offered the party a flat sum of 300,000 gold (honestly probably a bit on the low side, as some of the enemies were very well-equipped), and they accepted. Halek upgraded his Belt of Physical Perfection to +4 and upgraded his armor to medium fortification. Shiro purchased a Headband of Alluring Charisma +6, as did Raesh, along with a Cloak of Resistance +5 and an upgrade to her armor. Hi helped pay for items for Halek and the gifts to the people in the Puddles (detailed below).

Now that the crisis was averted, Olytrius tried to convince Gregory to return to the land of the living, but he refused. Olytrius instead turned to Xerashir, and she accepted the high priesthood of the temple, allowing Olytrius to resume his travels. The party asked where he was heading, and he declared, "South!", showing off the map Raesh had purchased for him previously. Raesh informed Xerashir of the abandoned temple in Underbridge in Magnimar, and donated 5000 g.p. towards restoring it. To no one's surprise, Brandi was one of the paladins selected to help restore the temple. Shiro approached Lord Gyr and asked for a letter to his parents granting them free trade in Absalom. Lord Gyr would not write the letter personally, but had the city's chief financial officer draft a letter inviting Shiro's father to establish trade with Absalom, and granting him a waiver from port taxes for him and his family for the remainder of his life. At Shiro's request, he added that Shiro the bard had been instrumental in securing him this trade agreement.
The party then made their rounds of goodbyes. They visited Azlanti Keep, returned their borrowed items, and bade farewell to Commandante Cressle and her men. GM Note: At some point Shiro bought Cressle some fine Minkaian tea and gifted it to her, but I can't see where it fits in the narrative, since I thought it was before DuPris' demise. They visited Etrenne at the bardic academy, and Raesh gave her a fine carved wooden griffon that she had carved herself. Etrenne was still regretful that they would not stay in Absalom and help her accomplish great things, but understood their need to move on. They told Etrenne about the house being a teleportation target for Hi, and that if she ever needed them she could call. Lord Gyr made a similar request, asking that he be allowed to contact them if he found the need, and they agreed to at least listen to any of his propositions. They spent a last night at the Saucy Wench with Olytrius, dining and drinking and performing and having a rousing good time.


In the morning, Jeryl arrived to guide them, and they told her their time in Absalom was done, and gifted her with a Cloak of Resistance +1. They went to Puddles, and gave Haigen Topkick a pair of brand new rowboats, a spyglass, and various salvage gear to help him help the people of Puddles. The Green Strumpet met them there, and they made their farewells to her as well. Next, they travelled to the Merchant Quarter and visited Tuar, assuring him that his people were safe. In return, he informed them that a few members of the Red Mantis survived, but were hiding from them in the Guild of Wonders. They sent them lilies.

At this point, they were ready to teleport back to Sandpoint, but they wanted to make sure they hadn't forgotten anyone, so we ended the session with them ready for the teleport.

*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Saturday, 31 August 2013. (Already played).

P.S. We had games on 31-August, 06-September, and 20-September, and we have a full RotRL weekend planned this weekend (both Friday and Saturday). They've cleared the Shimmering Veils of Pride and declared war on the Iron Cages of Lust, so I think we're going to see a complete purge of the Runeforge over the next couple of months. I'll really try to get back to weekly posts, but with Raesh's new job and GM'ing Second Darkness she's having trouble keeping up with the edits. (And I write so much Leilani I fall down on the job on RotRL, though I'm slowly catching up on both).

I'm only partially through this all...thank you so much for this. As I'm planning on running my own campaign of RotRL soon, this is incredibly wonderful for helping me set things up in my head and learning about how you went about integrating roleplay opportunities and sidequests etc into the main AP.

Well, thank you! Your timing is exquisite -- I just sent out Part I of the August 31 writeup for player review (yes, this one has PARTS), so I'm actually *almost* on track for once a week again. (No, I don't think all three of them will do their edits by the time I go to bed tonight, so I'm going to be a little behind, but nowhere near as bad as I have been.)

I got inspired by reading other people's writeups. And I'm really enjoying doing a player journal for Second Darkness a la Useplanb, but I am suffering from being an excessively-prolific writer. Vorne is desperately trying to catch up, but Leilani just talks too much...

Things like this are just so very useful...especially for those of us who don't GM much. I've always been more of a player...I've been gaming for over 30 years, but I rarely ever GM. I've also been looking for some video files...people recording their games off these APs so I can see visually how people set things up and how they relayed tone and roleplay points to people.

Unfortunately I haven't been nearly as successful in finding those. Understandable though...not like everyone enjoys the thought of seeing their casual geekness on camera for the world to critique.

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Yeah, someone suggested we record our sessions, and the unanimous consensus was, "No way!!!"

Not only is there the fear of someone pointing out where you messed up, but there would be the general horror at the sheer quantity of high-end food laid out on the table. Yes, we have a table where, "Can you move the pate, brie, and baguettes so I can move my mini there? No; just put them next to the Vosges bars..." is all too common...

Hah...we threaten to add a hidden camera all the time. We have an ongoing quote book where we put in all the ridiculous things people say that can make you just facepalm when taken out of context.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would actually probably be more distracted by the high-end food to notice the gaming going on.

"Mmmmmmmm, warmed Brie...*drool*"

LOL. Ok. You guys have me. From now on I'll add a "menu" to the gaming summary. It won't be as over-the-top now that Shiro's player and I realized that we could send a kid to college on what we were spending on food every week, but at least two of us (Raesh and I) love to cook, so it should still be fun. Last week was Raesh making Julia Child's chicken friccassee with my, "Oh, you have leftover heavy whipping cream from making the chicken? No problem, I'll just add that to the potatoes," mashed potatoes. This week I'm doing Julia Child's roast chicken. If that doesn't make you drool, you need to try it. We love us some Julia Child!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey, Julia was a foodie long before there foodies had a name. Well, they did back then, but 'epicurean' just sounds pretentious. Anyway, she laid the ground work for everyone to come, and pulled back the curtain on the mysteries of French cooking. The most amazing thing her show ever did was show that it was OK to make mistakes when cooking. "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." She was a fearless woman at a time when women were still supposed to just be housewives and not have a career.

The most extravagant thing I made for one of my games was a little over a year ago - I made Alton Brown's roast turkey recipe for them, and asked everyone to bring Thanksgiving fixings. That was one of the best meals I had for a game, though I'd be lying if it didn't make trying to run a masquerade ball adventure for them difficult. "OK, these are the people that are also attending. Who would you like to speak to first? Anyone? Anyone? Why are you all falling *yawn* asleep?"

Bah foodies. Food! Eat! I mean take a look at lobster, all over the place and they actually had to make laws saying you couldn't overfeed your workers on lobster. Now it is $10 a pound so you can only have it once a year. Lobster rolls? Hot dog roll with a dab of mayo and lobster $10!! :(

Still loving this. Only up to the point where they encountered the faceless stalkers in Skinsaw, but well worth it. I'm finding myself getting confused on some of these damage stats mentioned one where Halek did max damage of 27..but no mention of a crit and Raesh doing 31 also without a crit...our of curiosity do you use a lot of house rules...or am I just unfamiliar with the damage scale of Pathfinder still from my move over from D&D 3.5?

Sorry to post about arbitrary stuff...especially since I'm reading so far behind...but thank you again for these, truly a great read. Did you mention that you also did one of these for your Crimson Throne campaign?

Answers, answers, answers...

- Halek is a barbarian who always power attacks. At that point in the campaign, I would guess he had a Base Attack Bonus of around +6 and a Strength of 20. So his normal damage would be 2d6+7(STR on 2-handed weapon)+6(Power Attack on a 2-handed weapon), so max would be 25. Then Shiro's always performing for +2, giving the 27 you see.

- Raesh's damage is harder to figure unless she crit. She didn't have the sword Olytrius at that point, so she'd only be 1d6+3, and she doesn't tend to power attack. Even Smiting Evil would only put her up to a max of 1d6+10 or so, so I'm guessing she crit and I didn't write it in.

You'll find that fighters and barbarians with power attack just get silly. Just yesterday my fighter got dropped on a witch who was trying to fly away, and with three attacks of a dagger did a total of 80 damage!! 1d4 + 5 (STR) + 8 (Power attack with a +12 BAB) + 5 (Good Hope and bardic performance) = One whopping ton of damage with a single dagger. (The middle hit was a crit.)

So if you're used to low-level play where players are just rolling weapon damage + strength bonus, you'll see threads where a fighter hits for 35 points of damage and think, "What the heck??"

Every hand-to-hand fighter needs the Power Attack feat that adds +2 damage per 4 Base Attack Bonus (or +3 for two-handed weapons). Every fighter needs a bard who frequently adds +4 or +5 on top of that (performance and Good Hope). Add maybe a +2 to the weapon, and you can easily be getting an extra +12 damage on just an 8th-level fighter or barbarian. It gets pretty obscene!

When he's raging, Halek's crits do over 100 points on damage bonuses alone!

P.S. For avid readers, yes the writeup is STILL under review by Shiro, Hi, and Raesh, and I'm sending them a friendly reminder that I'll have another writeup ready in a day or two so they really need to get those edits in.

Raesh is going to loose her cooking privileges if she delays these too much. ;)

Ouch...and yet most places I see people complain that Fighters are underpowered. Boggles my mind.

Well, a 2-handed weapon fighter (THW is the initialism I think they use on the boards) is awesome against a single opponent with no mind control. Put in flying opponents, opponents raining down arrows from a balcony, or any other situation where the fighter can't reach the opponent, and it's far less fun. You have to rely on the rest of the party to get you where you need to be, or spend thousands on magic items that aren't upping your damage or AC. And you still get mind controlled. Because even at 20th level you have all of +6 to Will. You can burn feats and get that +5 Cloak of Resistance, and you're still going to miss that DC 23 Will save close to half of the time!

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At the same time...that works for any melee based class...fighter, monk, rogue, ranger (non-bow oriented)...and any caster class with range obviously falls apart once gaps are closed. I tend to find almost everyone being fairly equally balanced.

I am constantly amazed in your thread not only by the quality and fun of the roleplaying...but the oddly high level of innate caution and calculation that also goes into things. (so far at least). The constant use of detect magic and detect evil to find the scarecrow ghouls at max range etc. I've seen several times where they've done this to obviously good effect. Meanwhile I'm quite sure my group would have whistled right on up and gotten a good smacking there as well as at the Misgivings. I'm planning on making one of the ghouls or 2 tied down to their scarecrow crosses (or whatever they're called) and struggle to get out. I'll tie that up with the two infected humans who have also been placed out there weakly struggling. It would amuse me to know end to hear one of my players go "hey uh...Tim....that one with your sword in its gut doesn't appear to be too undeadish". Might be a little cruel...but would also help enact a little caution :D

Kayland wrote:

At the same time...that works for any melee based class...fighter, monk, rogue, ranger (non-bow oriented)...and any caster class with range obviously falls apart once gaps are closed. I tend to find almost everyone being fairly equally balanced.

I am constantly amazed in your thread not only by the quality and fun of the roleplaying...but the oddly high level of innate caution and calculation that also goes into things. (so far at least). The constant use of detect magic and detect evil to find the scarecrow ghouls at max range etc. I've seen several times where they've done this to obviously good effect. Meanwhile I'm quite sure my group would have whistled right on up and gotten a good smacking there as well as at the Misgivings. I'm planning on making one of the ghouls or 2 tied down to their scarecrow crosses (or whatever they're called) and struggle to get out. I'll tie that up with the two infected humans who have also been placed out there weakly struggling. It would amuse me to know end to hear one of my players go "hey uh...Tim....that one with your sword in its gut doesn't appear to be too undeadish". Might be a little cruel...but would also help enact a little caution :D

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This is the best group I've ever GM'ed, both in terms of roleplay and in terms of tactics. If you count groups "on long-term hiatus", I'm involved in 4 active campaigns and 2 slumbering ones. Of the 4 active campaigns, this group is the ONLY group that constantly uses Invisibility Sphere, Silence, Detect Magic, and Detect Evil to make sure they're never ambushed. As you read through the thread, you'll find fights that were out-and-out embarrassing because of the party's preparation. (Mama Graul? Mokmurian? Ouch!)

I love this group! (We were just discussing how we have to kidnap Mikaze and make him GM so the four of us can run together in an AP. :-P)

Hah, you're very lucky. I used to be in a game that ran for about 6-8 hours every Saturday. Unfortunately my close friend who ran it passed away almost 2 years ago now from Lymphoma. I'm been struggling to find a gaming outlet since.

I'm in a regular game with friends that has been running for about a decade on Thursdays, they're the ones I've been eluding to on my own thread you saw. Great bunch of people...but it's much more a social event than actual roleplaying and generally goes for about 3-4 hours. I saw that there were some online campaigns and recruiting threads out here on the boards...I was hoping to eventually check into those to see how they worked and to maybe find something that could work. Until then I'll have to live vicariously through your threads and those of others.

Sorry to hear about your friend -- I know what that can do to a group. We had a gaming group that ran 4-6 hours A NIGHT from 1988-1991, then I lost my best friend (suicide) and we didn't get a consistent gaming group again until 2008! But we're back up to 2-3 times a week, and with kids and real jobs, that's quite the accomplishment for us!

Anyway, speaking of 'real' jobs, I'm supposed to be reviewing some training videos for technical content...

I hear ya, I'm supposed to be doing QA testing on a new code release for a client. Cheers.

Condolences on your friend, Kayland. That's never easy.

I was lucky enough to DM a group for two and a half years that had upwards of a dozen players showing up weekly. This was...oh 2003 to say 2006-ish. I had two DM's running parallel story-lines interwoven together under me at times. We had over half the group that I'd never met before...they'd hear about it, and show up to watch (we always had an audience), and ask to get in on it. I loved it, and its great to run into players years later and counties away, who immediately light up and talk about the greatest campaign they ever played.

I've been lucky enough to game with women most of my life. I find them to be far better gamers, lol. More character development, less rules-lawyering, they pay attention to the nuances of a story and can go sessions without combat and be completely fine, and I've only ever seen one power-game. And that was cause her gamer fiance' was teaching her that's how you play.

Those groups, those characters, those stories...and those scrumptious meals...that's why we game. :)

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31-August-2013 Game, Part I
My players have asked, both for their own sanity and for the sake of a weekly post, that I break my posts into easily-digestible pieces until we're all caught up. So here's Part I of our Saturday game, all the way up to the point that they headed to the Runeforge. Since it's only Part I, there was no combat, hence no Silver Tsuto Award. Considering we're playing weekly again, I'm going to have to post a bit more than weekly just to catch up!!

And yes, I know that it's annoying that I have an obit for Halek posted for our September 28 game and I'm still back in August, but be patient, I'm working on it!

10-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last session)

The party teleported uneventfully back to Sandpoint. If Shiro was grateful that Hi now knew Greater Teleport and no longer risked dropping them in the ocean every time they tried to travel, he was polite enough not to show it. Hi placed them on the bridge just outside of town. He promptly Dimension Doored to Rilka's and a warm welcome, while the rest of the party slowly strolled in to town. Much to their amazement (OK, not so much, as they're getting used to their GM rolling a 1 for all Perception checks), no one noticed them, and they managed to get to the Goblin Squash stables unnoticed. Raesh wanted to check in on Shadowmist, and called out to Daviren Hosk. Daviren greeted the party warmly, and led Raesh proudly over to Shadowmist. He had filled out nicely, completely recovered from his encounter with the goblins, but was still all lean muscle, the result of countless hours or working out with Daviren and his apprentices. Raesh was vastly appreciative of Daviren's skill with the steed, fed Shadowmist an apple, and they moved on.
Before they had traveled twenty feet, Ameiko strolled out of the Rusty Dragon and beamed at them. "Your usual rooms for the night, then?" she asked. The party immediately agreed. They flew a banner at the top of the cathedral to let Shalelu know they were back in town, but she managed a 3 on her Perception and also managed to miss them.
Dinner was fairly simple fare, as Ameiko hadn't been expecting them, but their rooms were done up exactly the way they wanted them. Raesh had her tub and her truffles, Halek his bath and red-headed bath toy, and Shiro Ameiko's room. They all slept (relatively) soundly, and woke refreshed in the morning.

GM Note: Sometimes I love it when you do a loooong tangent, and you get to watch the player's faces as they wonder, "What were we supposed to be doing again?" Honestly, it was only a 5-10 second pause, but it was delightful. The combination of that and their paranoia that now that they were back Sandpoint was going to come under attack again was just priceless!

The party spent the morning wandering Sandpoint, greeting all their old friends and throwing Detect Magics at anything and everything, trying to make absolutely sure there was nothing afoot in Sandpoint. They visited Mayor Deverin, Sheriff Hemlock, and Father Zantus. They made sure Brodert Quink was OK, and learned that he'd fallen and injured his knee and was relegated to researching the lighthouse until his knee healed. (If he found it very mysterious that Father Zantus couldn't heal such a simple injury, he didn't mention it.) They learned that the trading with the stone giants was going better than anyone could have anticipated; the giants were willing to haul in (and sometimes shape) cartloads of stone in return for fish, grain, and livestock. Both groups were benefiting greatly from the agreement.
By lunchtime, Shalelu arrived, having seen the banner in the early morning. She hugged Raesh and Shiro warmly, leaned down and hugged Hi, and politely shook Halek's hand. She told them that goblins were beginning to re-establish themselves at Thistletop, so the party made a quick excursion via teleport to cleanse Thistletop once again and give Yippy a good meal, and get in a nice picnic while they were at it. Yippy was looking downright svelte, so they made sure he had plenty of goblin to eat before returning to Sandpoint with Shalelu. She told them that other than that, goblin raids had become virtually nonexistent; their leaders were dead or in hiding, and every time a group was bold enough to try to re-take Thistletop they ended up fed to "that horrible ravening beast that lives beneath the waves".

After some discussion, they remembered that they were supposed to seek out some place called the "Runeforge" to create Runeforged weapons to combat the runelords. It was fairly obvious that Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed, should be their first target, but they didn't know what school of magic he studied, nor which schools opposed his. They figured the library at Jorgenfist was likely to have the needed information, so their first stop was The Way North, where they picked up ten sheets of map-sized vellum. They then headed over to the Curious Goblin, figuring that even if Chask Haladan didn't have any books of use to them, they might find something fun to buy. Sure enough, as they perused the bookshelves, Shiro found that Ameiko had obviously liquidated much of her father's estate, as there were many books on Minkai in the bookstore, including many written in Minkaian. In spite of his delight, Shiro managed to restrain himself (stupid Cloak of Resistance(!)) and not buy them all and make Halek carry them. Raesh held up a book. "I object to this title... 'Lawful Naughty Paladins in Chains.'" Chask looked back at her and shrugged. Raesh declared, "I wish to purchase this." Everyone stopped for a moment and goggled as she put down the silver on the counter. She then turned and strode from the store, went straight to the nearest cliffside and tossed the book into the junkpile before returning to the store. After a bit more browsing, she found a formal Minkaian historical romance (written in common) that better suited her.
Finally, with an hour or two to go before sunset, they distributed the kites to their recipients. Shalelu seemed amused, perplexed, and delighted all at the same time, while Rilka was all astonishment, and Ameiko was obviously touched that they had thought of her, and brought something from 'home'. Unfortunately, Ameiko and Bethana were busy in the kitchen preparing 'something special', and it was close to sunset, so the abbreviated kite-flying was only the party, Rilka, and Shalelu, but they still had a grand time.
Dinner was truly awe-inspiring. If word that the Heroes of Sandpoint hadn't reached the townsfolk the day before, it certainly had that day! Hundreds of people filled the streets, and the impromptu "stage" in the Rusty Dragon had been converted into a table for the honored guests, Shalelu included. Ameiko pulled out all the stops for them; a huge traditional Minkaian banquet with sides of roasted fire peppers for Hi, rock lizard for Raesh and Shalelu, and an interesting brownish-green muck for Halek. A fine time was had by all, and they went to bed stuffed and relaxed.

Raesh stirred in her sleep. In a faraway city, a king lay dying. His red-haired queen stood over him, the evil glint in her eyes belying her bereaved demeanor. Visions of the future flashed before Raesh's eyes: A city beset by riots, plagues, fire, and finally warfare. A name echoed in her mind: Korvosa.
As she struggled to move forward to fight these visions and save this city she had never seen, she saw others in front of her. Another paladin, obviously a human, stood before her, blond-haired and wielding a longsword with emblems of Iomedae emblazoned on his armor. Next to him stood a beautiful half-elven bard, and to either side of them was a vicious-looking tiefling and a strange, wispy elf-like man who was almost an elf, but not quite. Rounding out the party was a purple-haired female gnome with mischief in her eyes. She felt, rather than heard or saw, Sarenrae's presence. And she knew. These were the heroes who would try to save Korvosa. And if they fell, Sarenrae would call on her, Rae'Sheleth, for help in saving the city.

As she awoke, Raesh understood far more than that: She was no longer beholden to any temple or cleric. She was no longer Rae'Sheleth, paladin of Absalom. She was Rae'Sheleth, paladin and avatar of Sarenrae, and beholden only to her goddess. Raesh allowed herself a toothy smile.

GM Note: Yes, it's a shameless tie-in to our CotCT campaign, but that campaign's been dead in the water for nearly a year now, and the kids are begging to play it again, so I'm pondering doing a crossover to finish Book 6 of CotCT with a combined party, then Book 6 of RotRL. The only issue is that Raesh's player would have to play two very different PCs, and I'd have my hands abundantly overfull with THREE GMNPCs, including a gnome. Nobody needs a GMNPC gnome!


Shopping day! Raesh and Halek arose at dawn, as usual. They waited for Hi and Shiro, then gathered Rilka, Ameiko, and Shalelu and teleported to Absalom.
GM Note: Sticklers may notice that Hi frequently manages to teleport one more person than his limit allows. For storytelling purposes, I allow Halek to ride along in a Bag of Holding, especially because the notion of a massive barbarian being stuffed in a bag entertains me. Shiro's player points out that ever since he got the fox form feat, it's Shiro who turns into a little fox and rides in the bag, but I still like the mental image of Halek doing it.
Their first stop was the Ivy District, where they thought Shalelu might bond with her fellow elves and buy some "homemade" wares. They quickly learned why she lived alone in the woods, as she eviscerated her kin as "soft-skinned, weak-willed city dwellers who wouldn't last a day in a REAL forest". There was nothing remotely appropriate for her there.
They immediately headed to the upscale shopping area of the Petal District, where they found "Veronica's Short and Small", a dress shop run by an efficient middle-aged halfing named Veronica and her all-halfling staff. They took one look at Rilka, clucked, and set to work. As her measurements were taken, the entire party was seated in luxurious chairs, treated to complimentary hors d'oeuvres and champagne, and the women were offered manicures, pedicures, and to have their hair done. Raesh allowed them to trim and buff her fingernails, but no more. Halek, seeing the women being pampered so, sat down with them. The staff at Veronica's didn't bat an eye, and set to work filing down his dagger-like toenails and fingernails. They even sent to a toolsmith for a real file to deal with the callouses on his feet. After watching the women's hair being done for a while, Halek asked to try. Obsequious to the point of embarrassment, the halflings allowed Halek to style their hair. One natural 20 later, and it was clear that Halek was a natural at such things!
After several hours, the end result was stunning: Rilka's brown curly hair was done up in diamonds and pearls, with wispy curls trickling around her ears, across her forehead, and down her neck. The yellow-gold gown offset her brown eyes and dark skin magnificently. GM Note: I told the players, "Imagine Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, except shorter." Veronica herself presented the bill to Hi. 3000 (THREE THOUSAND) gold pieces!! Ten times the price they were expecting! Hi didn't blink, and paid Veronica in platinum. She curtsied and thanked the party for their patronage.

After a short discussion as to the prices in the Petal District, Shiro asked Veronica where he might find a good shop to outfit Shalelu. She took one look at the thin, muscular elf and suggested Athena's just down the street. Sure enough, Athena's catered to women who wanted to look like adventurers or outdoorswomen, but weren't. Shalelu didn't fit in at all, but the moment the tray of herbed steamed mushrooms in cheese arrived, she plopped into an overstuffed chair, kicked off her boots, and demanded, "Fine. Make me a dress!"
Once again, Halek and the ladies (except for Raesh, who declined a second such session) enjoyed manicures, pedicures, and, for those who had hair, more pampering. Once again, Halek practiced on some of the saleswomen, and a natural 19 (oh why couldn't he have been in combat?) meant that he really was quite good with hair. Shalelu's dress was an amazing assortment of mottled leaves, looking like a vine-wrapped tree in the midst of the woods, yet form-fitting and attractive enough that her lithe shape was sure to turn heads. Her hair was done in emeralds, malachite, and diamonds, along with a smattering of permanently-preserved leaves for that "authentic" look. She was so delighted that she wanted to wear the dress right out the door! Shiro paid the 3000 gold pieces. Shalelu wrinkled her nose at the dirt-filled street, not wanting to damage her new dress, turned around, held out her arms, and said, "Halek, carry me."
Halek swept her up in his arms with the gentleness and surety of many years' practice, and she smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck as they left the store. There was more than one raised eyebrow.

Neither Raesh nor Ameiko approved of such extravagance for themselves, so Shiro hired a coach to take them all to the Coins, where both of them got form-fitting but functional cheongsams, Ameiko's in red and black and Raesh's in beautiful silver with gold trim. Both were incredible masterworks (masterwork royal outfit = 300 g.p.), extremely flattering but allowing complete freedom of movement, with slits for hiding scimitars or spatulas. Both women were extremely pleased. Player note: Raesh passed on a dress altogether... Shiro had one made behind her back and surprised her with it later. Once all four women had their dresses, Hi stopped by a magic shop and purchased three additional wands of Unseen Servant for Rilka. GM Note: As noted on another board, no one has the heart to tell Hi that Rilka can't use them, and has to have Ameiko use them for her. On the other hand, it works, and it's not like Rilka isn't visiting Bethana at the Rusty Dragon often enough anyway. Their shopping in Absalom complete, their next stop was the Shoanti deli in Magnimar.
A quick Greater Teleport later, and the shopkeeper was once again welcoming Halek to his shop. They stocked up on cindersnake, rock lizard, some strange mushes, some roots, and a goat. Finally, they returned to Sandpoint.

The next few hours saw everyone getting dolled up for the theater. To everyone's misfortune, Halek's miraculous ability with hair vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and the ladies were forced to do their own, or have the ladies of Sandpoint help them. In their ravishing gowns they were still the stars of either the show or the audience. Rilka's eyes glistened like diamonds as all her friends took her in in her magnificent gown. The play was the story of Iesha the Revenant, and brought tears to everyone's eyes. At the end of the evening, everyone went back to their respective homes or rooms, happy at a day of complete rest and relaxation.

13-Abadius-4708 through 15-Abadius-4708

To summarize a long and painful series of embarrassing rolls by Hi and Shiro, the party teleported to Jorgenfist to research the Runeforge, the Runelords, their sins, their magic schools, and their opposition schools. They focused on Karzoug and Alaznist in particular, as they were fairly sure Karzoug was involved, and were worried Alaznist might be stirring as well. Because of a huge number of rolls of 5 or less, the party ended up spending the night in the library to complete their research. They learned that Karzoug was the Runelord of Greed, and a master of transformation magic. His oppositions were lust (enchantment) and pride (illusion). His "headquarters" were at the top of Xin Shalast, a mythical mountain in the Kodars. Alaznist was the Runelord of Wrath, and a mistress evocation magic. Her oppositions were envy (abjuration) and sloth (conjuration). Her "headquarters" were now deep under the sea. They were surprised to find very little mention of the Runeforge; apparently it was a closely-guarded secret even in Thassilonian times. They learned that it was a place where researchers from all seven runelords could meet and do research, and all seven branches were working to preserve their runelords' lives from an upcoming cataclysm. (Presumably Earthfall.) Similarly, they found no mention of Runeforged weapons, nor how to create them.

Once their research was done, they teleported back to Magnimar. Not wanting to risk the sword Olytrius had gifted her, Raesh purchased a new +3 adamantine scimitar to use in the Runeforge. They went to a map store and got an excellent description of Riddleport and the Cipher Gate, then teleported there and headed off on phantom steeds towards Lake Stormunder. There were a few jokes as to how the party should track down Clegg Zincher and Boss Croat and show them a thing or two, but Raesh was against it for some reason, so they rode on. I dutifully rolled for random encounters, but the notion of anything giving four 15th-level PCs the slightest hiccup was ludicrous, and nothing happened.


The party arrived at Lake Stormunder, and embarrassing hilarity ensued, but that will have to wait for part 2 of the writeup.

*** End of writeup ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 6 September 2013. (Already played, but I've still got to finish the 31st).

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31-August-2013 Game, Part II
While we STILL have no Silver Tsuto award, I'm declaring a new award, the Brass Shiro award, given when utterly clueless players manage to completely hose BBEGs either through incompetence, forgetfulness, or (as in Shiro's player's case), just plain player apathy or laziness. I'm no longer allowed to put spoilers in the header (thanks, players!), so you'll just have to scroll down and marvel at Shiro's magnificence yourself.

16-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last writeup)

As the group approached the vastness of Lake Stormunder, they admired Rimeskull towering behind it. Knowing that whatever they sought was at the base of that majestic mountain, they casually rode across the lake. On the eastern shore, a quick search revealed a large circular hill. On the hill were seven stone heads, each head obviously the head of one of the runelords, and each head with an open mouth, as if to put something in. Shiro confirmed that the runelords were arranged so that each was across the circle from his or her 'opposition school' runelords. Fifty feet away, a ledge marked the bottom of a steep staircase ascending to a huge cave shaped like a gaping mouth -- the peak of Rimeskull being the head.

The party was at a complete loss. Detect Magic did not detect anything beyond the normal preservation magic on the heads. They had nothing they could think of to put into the mouths. There was nothing to do but fly up and investigate the cave.
GM Note: And here we award the first ever Brass Shiro award. To start the session, I had handed Shiro's player the Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 handouts, and said, "You should probably review these. You guys have been in Absalom so long you've probably forgotten some important points."
Shiro's player shuffled through the handouts, found Handout 5-1, and read ONLY THE BOLDED portions of the handout. So when they got to the circle of heads, Raesh and Hi turned to Shiro and asked, "What do we do?" and Shiro responded, "I dunno."
With no clue how to proceed, and me unwilling to provide them any additional prodding, they hopped on their phantom steeds and FLEW up to the cave mouth.

GM Note: Now, review the setup in the book: The earth elementals are guarding the stairway, NOT the landing, so they were completely bypassed. The description of Arkrhyst specifically says that after a head is set off he is "shaking sleep from his eyes." To me, that's a pretty sound ruling that he's asleep on his hoard, at the end of a 400' tunnel and a 300' drop. That's one heck of a Perception roll to wake up! And yes, as always, his initial roll when the horses landed was a natural 1. My dice hate me.

The party proceeded with their usual caution: Darkvision spells instead of light, liberal uses of Silence and Invisibility Sphere, and I had them move round-by-round through the entire cave, making Perception rolls for Arkryhst every round from the moment they were within his earshot. To make a long story short, he was completely hosed.

As the party proceeded through the enormous cave, Halek made a spectacular Survival roll and noted that something huge and clawed used the tunnel regularly. The entire party thought, "Dragon." Around 200 feet in they spotted two statues flanking the cave. They moved forward extremely cautiously. As they approached the two statues, both Raesh and Shiro Detected Magic and spent the time necessary to determine that the statue on the left was an illusion. Coming closer, they saw that the cave turned into an extremely steep ramp heading down to a massive drop of unknown depths. Examining the illusory statue, Shiro quickly found a hidden ramp that went along the outside of the drop, at a much gentler slope than the main cave floor. He Silenced the party and they raced as far as they could down the hidden ramp.
For me, it was a long game of cat-and-mouse once the Silence field wore off: They still couldn't see the bottom of the cave, but they didn't want to risk casting another Silence spell for fear that whatever was at the bottom would hear. So they relied on Stealth rolls. Yes. A paladin rolling Stealth. And I rolled the dragon's Perception vs. their Stealth.

Unfortunately (for me), it was an epic fail. The party got within 120' without waking the dragon, and Raesh could examine the bottom of the cave. In a massive chamber below were seven huge icy pillars surrounding an eighth even-more-massive pillar. In one corner of the chamber slept a dragon atop its hoard. In an epically one-sided battle, Hi dropped Dancing Lights down on the dragon to give Shiro visibility, and Shiro used Bard's escape to drop Halek and Raesh flanking the dragon.
Arkryhst awoke being pummelled by a barbarian and a paladin smiting evil. To add insult to injury, everyone rolled a higher initiative than him, so he took another full round from Halek and Raesh, then Hi finished him off with Chain Lightning. He never got an action. Ouch.

They searched the dragon's hoard. I ruled that killing him so brutally while he was atop his hoard broke his potions, but all the other items were intact. They found woven Shoanti prayer rugs, tapestries, furniture, art, silverware, jewelry, a pair of greater dragon slaying arrows (always gotta love the adventurers who bring really nice gear to kill a dragon and then fail), and the usual assortment of magic items and loot. But no key!

They searched again, rolling Perception checks throughout the room, and found that every pillar had a keyhole in it, but still no keys! There were eight passages leading out of the main room, but all led to vast empty half-ruined chambers, though "chambers" is an understatement: The rooms were hundreds of feet across!

Completely at a loss as to where they were going to find the key, the party gathered around the central pillar. Shiro's player pulled out the card again, and this time read it. "Oh, guys! This has all the instructions as to what we're supposed to do! I guess I should have read it, huh?"

Hilarity ensued, and we called it a night.

Congratulations, Shiro, on the first-ever Brass Shiro award! If you'd read the instructions, you'd have woken up Arkryhst, and there might have been a real fight!

*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 6 September 2013. (Already played).

Almost done...midway through page five now at least. Still very enjoyable reads, although I'm starting to wonder if Shiro should get tested for V.D. :)

Kayland wrote:
Almost done...midway through page five now at least. Still very enjoyable reads, although I'm starting to wonder if Shiro should get tested for V.D. :)


The moment Shiro's player wakes up I am SOOOOOO pointing him to this! He'll get a huge kick out of it!

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That stands for "vulpine disease," right?

Finally caught up. I'm curious how you're planning on altering encounters since it appears your players are 3 levels or so beyond the recommended levels for the AP. Are you maxing HP...adding some Mythic Tiers?

No; I haven't been giving them all that many levels, so they're all 15th level, which is where they're supposed to be by the time they "begin exploring the sixth wing of the Runeforge". So they're just about right. Considering their encounter with Vraxeris came within 30' of killing Shiro (and that writeup is on my "To Do" list for this weekend), and their encounter with Delvahine killed Halek and forced the rest of the party to flee to avoid a TPK, I think they're just about the right level.

No need to up monsters when you're coming close to killing, or outright killing, a PC in every fight. (Raesh was a round from death against the Karzoug statue, but that thing just didn't have the hit points to withstand the combined attentions of her and Halek).

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06-September-2013 Game
Ah, we're back on the AP, and in the Runeforge no less! Even better, the party FINALLY had a few challenging fights! I figure I'm just going to stop reporting on the Silver Tsuto, since it's been so long since anyone's earned one. By my count, I'm 4 posts behind (including this one), but we've been playing Friday night games, so they've all been pretty short, and we won't be playing this weekend, giving me a chance to catch up a bit.

16-Abadius-4708 (Continued from last writeup)

Once the party read the entire deciphered note from the Scribbler, they had a good idea as to what to do. They spent the afternoon shovelling Arkrhyst's hoard into Bags of Holding, then, as sunset approached, went back out to the circle of stone heads, once again using their phantom steeds and avoiding the staircase.
Sure enough, as the sun set, the statues started detecting as magical. Shiro and Hi put their heads together, and determined that they had spells from all schools of magic except Necromancy, and they had a handy wand of Gentle Repose in their loot, just in case Halek was to depart the mortal coil again. (And considering I've already posted it in the obits, how prescient of them!)

At each statue, either Shiro or Hi cast a spell of the magic school associated with the runelord. They started with a Transformation spell for Karzoug and went around the circle clockwise. As they cast each spell, the spell was absorbed by the associated head, the ground shook, the head let out a piercing trill, and a key appeared in the mouth of the head. Shiro joked that it was a good thing they hadn't set off the heads when the dragon was alive, or all this keening would have woken it for sure. After a few abortive attempts, Shiro finally snatched the key from one of the statue's mouths. When nothing happened, the party gathered the remaining keys, flew back to Arkrhyst's lair (yet again avoiding the stairs), inserted each key into its corresponding pillar, turned it twice (apparently Shiro learns from experience, and read the whole note this time), and eventually activated the portal into the Runeforge. Not knowing what to expect, they cast Invisibility Sphere and Silence and stepped through the portal, with Raesh taking the lead, followed closely by Halek, then Hi and Shiro.

There was a sinking, twisting sensation as the party was ripped through space, only to arrive at the very end of a long stone passage. Not wanting to attract attention to themselves, Hi cast Darkvision on himself, Halek, and Shiro. Moving forward down the passage, they came to a large circular domed room. Its central feature was a vast pool of bubbling prismatic liquid, perhaps fifty feet across. The chamber itself was nearly 200 feet across, and the floor was decorated with a massive sihedron. At each point of the sihedron, near the edges of the chamber, was a twenty-five foot tall statue of a runelord. Once again, they were arranged so that each runelord faced his or her opposition schools. Behind each statue was a wide stone corridor leading out, for a total of eight corridors including the one they just came in.

The party examined the pool carefully, and Hi concluded that it was most likely used in the enchanting of weapons, but he couldn't figure out how it was done. After a bit of discussion, they decided to head past the statue of Xanderghul and see what awaited them in the wing of Pride. They stepped into the corridor and moved forward into the darkness. As they proceeded, Raesh felt a swelling in her chest, as if this were a place she was truly welcome. The others felt as if some ominous presence were observing them disapprovingly and judging them lacking. After perhaps 150 feet, the corridor ended in a T intersection.
As Raesh turned to go right, movement caught her eye. She looked up and saw her own reflection in a mirror on the wall. Much to her surprise, her reflection stepped out of the mirror and drew her sword, obviously intent on attacking the party.
GM Note: Yeah, I hadn't read ahead for this session, because I didn't see how I could prepare all seven wings on time, so I didn't read carefully enough and only one Raesh reflection attacked the party instead of two. Otherwise this was quite the epic running battle.

Raesh thought quickly: If the other party members also saw their reflections, they could be in real trouble, so she cast Deeper Darkness on the entire passageway and backed out of it, forcing the faux Raesh to blindly pursue them. As Faux Raesh emerged from the darkess, real Raesh and Halek engaged her. She managed to do a significant amount of damage to Halek, but without being able to Smite Evil, and without the Holy damage. she eventually succumbed.
GM Note: For the Vraxeris encounter, I decided that since they were all clones, they would all take identical actions. This led to a pretty incredible fight, so I highly recommend it.

Once the party had healed itself, they headed back through the darkness. As they emerged on the other side, they barely had time to register the vast room before them: A magnificent hall, at least 100 feet across, lined on every wall (and even the ceiling) with mirrors, lit by four immense chandeliers hanging far, far above them, and with a huge unmoving peacock on a pedestal near the center of the room. Then, like Romulan Birds of Prey, six identical wizards faded into view, hitting the party with 6 fireballs, then vanishing again.
GM Note: Yeah, if you have Greater Invisibility prepared, why would you ever use Invisibility?
The party, all save Hi sorely injured, retreated back into the darkness to heal. Pressing their advantage, the false Vraxerises advanced invisibly. Then, things just got stupid and ugly. Six Dispel Magics hit Raesh's Deeper Darkness. Six Dispel Magics failed. (Yeah, even I was impressed at THAT series of rolls.) Shiro sent in an illusion of Halek. The false Vraxerises, being masters of illusion, had one Vraxeris interact with Halek first. And he rolled a natural 1 on his Will save. Six Feebleminds hit the illusion of Halek. Oh, well. As the party healed down the hallway, Shiro Greased the floor in front of the darkness, and left Halek to stand guard. Of course the scouting Vraxeris, trusting in his Invisibility, blew his Reflex save and fell on the grease, triggering Halek using Blind Fight to pummel him into paste. One down, five to go.

Time was working against the Vraxerises. Their Greater Invisibility ran out. As they gathered at the darkness, trying to decide how to proceed on their end, Hi decided that fair was fair and put Greater Invisibility on Halek. Shiro used Bard's Escape to drop the party at the opposite end of the hall behind the Vraxerises.
GM Note: Now, Shiro's player is an engineer and an avid gamer. He understands distances, and movement, and such things. But when I counted out that in order to reach Shiro with Scorching Ray the Vraxerises would have to move just within charging range of Raesh and Halek, I thought, "Now that's just not fair!" I decided that the Vraxerises still believed that they had the upper hand, so instead of moving forward to certain death to hit Shiro with 10 Scorching Rays (40d6), they'd hang back and hit him with 25 magic missiles. The difference was crucial, as it allowed Shiro to survive with all of 9 hit points left.
The Vraxerises unleashed a barrage of Magic Missiles on Shiro, nearly dropping him. Raesh and Halek charged forward to engage. Hi Disintegrated one of the Vraxerises, and continuing my series of wonderful rolls, Hi's player got to roll a huge number of dice and watch a Vraxeris vanish in a puff of green.

With only four Vraxerises left and the fighters engaging them, it got ugly fast. They hit Hi with Scorching Rays, tickling him slightly. They hit Raesh, irritating her. The last Vraxerises standing stepped into Raesh's darkness long enough to cast Invisibility on themselves again so they could slip past Halek and finish off Shiro with Scorching Rays. Fortunately for Shiro, his player was feeling rather cowardly and a moment before had cast his own invisibility and slipped away with stealth to nurse his single digit hit points away from the combat. At the end of it all, the party was sorely depleted but victorious, and hadn't lost a single soul.

The group wanted to continue to explore the halls, but it was already 11:30 pm at night, and I told them they had another fight coming right up in that wing, so we called it an evening.
*** End of session ***
Next Planned Session: Friday, 13 September 2013. (Already played).

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That's a pretty good idea for the Vraxerisi, NobodyHome. Since they're all slightly off clones as well, I could see them taking different (and occasionally counterproductive) actions, each of them believing that theirs is the most effective and obvious thing to do at that moment. Still, I like the idea of a bunch of wizards focus firing, and if my party gets there and is stupidly powerful, I may do this as well.

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