"I Don't Believe in Faeries!"


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Lots of cats got out of lots of bags last night.

So a (not-so-)minor update on what's gone on in the past couple of weeks:

> The entire party is now aware of Errol's bargain with Mab and that Puck and Oberon have been alternately masquerading as Ivan. The entire Council - including partial members like Cesca (replacement Magister on the months Errol is gone), Eranex, Svetlana (still on as Treasurer in the official books, though Valkeri technically holds the position for statistical purposes), and Lilith's retinue of spies and informants - is likewise aware of Errol's situation but not Ivan's secret.

> Lilith bargained directly with Titania to join the Summer Court but leave the seeds she was growing to remain Wyld until they chose a court for themselves (or chose not to choose). In exchange, Titania bid Lilith to attempt, when Briar is found, to keep it out of Winter's hands and "return it from whence it came"; Titania, over the centuries, has come to regret the punishment Cordelia laid on Nyrissa, and knows the mad nymph's condition cannot be rectified until she and Briar are reunited. She didn't reveal this to Lilith though, other than the cryptic comment of "When the time has come, you will know what to do".

> An assassination attempt got rolled the month after the Coronation ceremony, with Akiros as the unlucky target. Thankfully the kingdom easily made its recovery roll, and the guards intervened before the Councilor could be slain; unfortunately the assassin could not be taken alive. Elegy was able to get a little information off him using speak with dead: the assassin was sent by "Lord Trask" under orders of "The Duke" because the Iomrallans were considered "a threat". Similar assassins had been dispatched to Shadrach and Weuland. The guilty parties are, of course, Ameon Trask and Duke Drelev; however the true puppeteer of the whole situation is Lady Marae, who in my game is the real villain behind Drelev, and the one who gave Hannis the "suggestion" to order Trask to send assassins to the other colonies.

A devotee of Irshya, Goddess of Envy and Harpies and my setting's closest equivalent to Gyronna, Marae Quintessa* - changed in my game from human to Ael-Varan (as stated earlier in the thread, a homebrew race that are feywarped cousins to elves, resembling their kin but with wings growing from their backs and talons for hands and feet) - is masquerading as an envoy from Divus*, the Ael empire to the south, but in actuality is only acting in her own interests and those of her superiors, the Black Sisters (who are likewise Ael). The Black Sisters, in turn, are cooperating jointly, and unbeknownst to their benefactors, with both the prominent dragons in the region, Ilthuliak and Cuorvhain the Conqueror. Ilthuliak is of course trying to advance Nyrissa's agenda, while Cuorvhain is making the first move in claiming Ilthuliak's abandoned territory and clearing out the humanoid "infestation" growing there by sending the Sisters and their champion, Armagk the Twice-Born, chieftain and warlord of the Talon Lords lizardfolk tribe. Marae is their inside man, having gotten on Duke Drelev's good side and slowly but surely moved herself into a position of power; by the time Book Four rolls around, she'll be in control of all of Drelev demesne, and be the real power behind the throne in Drelev. This of course will result in Duchess Pavetta and Imeckus Stroon being in the uncomfortable position of effectively powerless in their own home - Imeckus won't give Marae what she wants and become another puppet like Hannis Drelev has, but at the same time he's not quite ready to abandon his sister's holdings yet. The two might become unlikely allies against Pavetta's husband and Lady Marae, though the PCs already much HATE Pavetta mostly due to her spoiled nature and "Precious Jewel". (It's too bad I haven't recorded the way Lilith's player says that. It just drips with revulsion.)

Marae has a contingency, courtesy of the Black Sisters, that if she drops below a certain HP total or chooses to activate the contingency manually (a standard action) will teleport her to their location, or the nearest available spot if they're in a warded area like Armagk's Tomb. So that gives her an escape plan if/when the PCs take Drelev. Otherwise her main duty is to be a distraction - keeping the PCs occupied with the Fort Drelev situation while Armagk performs the necessary rituals and tests to reach Ovinrbaaane and reclaim his legacy. Even if forced to flee, she is nearly guaranteed to succeed on this task - and for her efforts the Black Sisters, and their jealous goddess, are ready to reward her. When the party finds her again in Armagk's Tomb, she'll no longer be an Ael, but rather a Fey Harpy, and make her final stand against them alongside the Sisters.

The intended goal, of course, is for Armagk to reclaim Ovinrbaane and lead the Talon Lords roughshod over Drelev, Iomrall, and Varnhold, and perhaps even Weuland and Shadrach, reclaiming the Stolen Lands for the wilds of the Northlands, and seizing the territory for one of their draconic masters - the Sisters and Marae aren't particularly picky which one - over which they believe the dragons will set them as representatives in reward for their service and success (a belief that in Cuorvhain's case is at least true, as the blue wyrm keeps his word; Ilthuliak is trickier and less assured, especially considering Nyrissa's plans for the region, though she might happily hand the avian trio over to the nymph to work in her service instead). Likewise the Black Sisters believe that, as they were allowed to reward Marae for her successes in Drelev, Irshya will reward them for succeeding at their plans for Armagk by changing them into Harpies as well.

* = Divan names are Roman/Latin in origin, so Surname precedes Given Name.

> The party is currently in Shadrach, attending the first of many Rushlight Festivals. I changed the event to be less a single celebration and more an annual event, one that will get steadily more difficult and challenging both in competitions and in political maneuvering for Elegy, who is disinclined to participate in the physical events. In this first arrival, Lilith encouraged the party - including the five PCs, Lilith's Winter Wolf cohort Emari, Akiniyi, her daughter and Lilith's apprentice Glaicyd, Cesca, and a retinue of guards half humanoid and half Lilith's mixed pack of winter wolves, worgs, elusa hounds, and dweomer-wolves - to flaunt their weirdness in front of the Shadrach crowd, making no secret of their mixed bag of races and origins and making it quite clear that Iomrall was a different sort of colony than its neighbors and they would not be conforming to expectations of normalcy. The daring move impressed Lord Havelock and Lady Engelidis, and they have their eyes even more on the party... though they aren't yet aware that the PCs are searching for Briar, it's only a matter of time until one of them finds out, even if it comes by way of Nyrissa contacting them directly.

Likewise, the group has been introduced to the Shadrach cabinet - including Gaetane and Alasen (both keeping their lycanthropy hidden, and thus appearing to be human; Alasen was introduced as the Warden, while Gaetane was dubbed an "executive assistant" which the PCs easily deciphered as "executioner/assassin"), General Avinash Jurrg (likewise taking human form, to hide his oni-ness, which would be immediately and easily recognized by Takeshi), and their marshal, a man in an Oni mask introduced as Nakamura Shinobu.

The problem with this is that, at least to Takeshi being Senkakuan himself, Nakamura Shinobu is clearly a pseudonym - the name is taken from Senkakuan folk tales and stories, with Shinobu himself being a wandering ronin and a humorous Don Quixote-type character, designed for the "proper" citizens of Senkaku to use to show how foolish and silly ronin are for trying to survive and operate outside of the normal hierarchy. In reality Shadrach's Shinobu is Takeshi's missing father, who fled Senkaku years before his son due to crimes committed against the local lords. One of these crimes was the theft of an ancient scroll, which told the story of a rogue oni who had stolen a great treasure and, with a crew of Tengu, fled to lands afar to hide his bounty; this oni is, of course, the Lonely Warrior the group has already slain and collected a portion of his treasure, while the remainder is now the possession of the oni's later master, Vordakai.

Shinobu has narrowed down the location of the treasure to somewhere in the Stolen Lands but mistakenly suspects that the Lonely Warrior laired up instead in the Castle of Knives and that the old ruin holds the secrets of the lost fortune. This is of course untrue but the Castle does have its own secrets - its connection to Thousandbreaths and the House at the Edge of Time being just one of them - but since allying with Havelock and being given the position of Marshal in Shadrach (a job Shinobu thought would allow him the opportunity to examine the Castle at his leisure) he's simply been too busy and occupied with other tasks to investigate in depth. Depending on how the eventual conflicts in War of the River Kings play out, Shinobu - if he survives, and depending especially on how things with Takeshi go - may retreat to the castle after Havelock is defeated, both to escape the wrath of Cuorvhain that will follow (I'm sticking him into Chapter Five rather than after Nyrissa) and to investigate the Castle in-depth at last... only to find himself in Thousandbreaths, and the treasure he sought being a forgettable pittance in the face of the wonders of FaeReie.


Elegy: *nod*

Actually, DM
was Duchess Drelev there?
me: Nope
Duke Drelev and Lady Marae are but no Duchess
Elegy: Elegy's really got a thing about bad first impressions =)
And she doesn't like him much
Errol: Doesn't like the Mister Drelev?
Elegy: he reminds her of evan (Elegy's politician older brother.)
Too artificial
She's suspicious of charmers - she grew up with one.
It's...really one reason she gets along with Errol.
Yes, he's a terrible personality for politics...but she can trust that.
It's not a facade, she knows she's dealing with exactly what he's presenting.
So quite frankly, Duchess Drelev would be her preference to work with over Duke.
me: heh
Elegy: Yes, she's an obnoxious shrew, but...it's honest.
Elegy's weird.
Errol: No it makes sense
Elegy: ...and might be remembering a bit strongly she could well have ended up a similar spoiled b!$+~ if she hadn't had a hell of a wakeup call
Errol: Perfect sense actually, and something that's good in a leader
me: Yeah, especially being from a politican family
Elegy: So she'll make allowances for her behavior
Politics isn't about working with your best friends
*looks at Errol*

This could turn out well for them come Chapter Four then....

The group recently allied with a Thriae hive thanks to rolling a New Subjects event. Elegy was taken to meet their queen, who revealed the reason she'd wanted to ally with the colonists: a bizarre and disturbing vision she'd had. The Thriae are noted seers and diviners, and the queen so above all. She shared her vision with Viscountess Elegy, who then took it back to the rest of the group. They're still attempting to decipher it.


Kyriaki leans forward slightly, and her antennae reach out and touch Elegy's forehead.

Suddenly she feels herself falling, and the room around her vanishes as if she'd dropped into a deep, black pit. The blackness around her, despite the dark, swirls with strange hues, different shades and pigments of black, taking and losing shape without much coherence for a few moments.

Suddenly there is an explosion of color and light, and she finds herself bathed in the glaring rays of a prismatic sun.

She is exhausted, hot, thirsty, and dazed, standing in the middle of what appears to be a ghost town - complete with tumbleweeds. A low, sinister cackling echoes from abandoned terraces and forgotten houses around her. Above her, the glaring heat of a desert sun over cracked badlands stares down, red and lowering. As she wanders, listless and directionless in the desert heat, a shadow suddenly falls over her. She turns toward the source of this blessed shade only to see a tiny figure, a halfling-sized faceless gremlin or goblin, walking up behind her. Before she can speak, the figure doubles, triples, quadruples in size until it towers over her, giant-like. It reaches to grab her, and as it stretches, its body becomes emaciated and skeletal, its hands twist into bony claws, and its face contorts, the burning sun behind it suddenly piercing the creature's skull, giving it a single, hatefully-glaring red eye. A murder of crows surrounds them, plunging the world once again into darkness as cold, clenching claws grasp her.

She feels herself falling up, wrapped in a cocoon of frigid wings, before being carelessly deposited on cold stone. As she raises her head, she sees herself in some kind of barbaric feast-hall, a cavern lined with trophies of dead beasts of lore, ancient and primeval monstrosities slain by elite warrior hands. Where there should be carousing feasters are instead the skeletons of lizard-like humanoids.

As one the undead turn, empty eyes locking on first Elegy, then the far end of the feast hall. In a towering chair of skin and fur and bone sits a shadowed figure, with only two glowing orange eyes and a single hand, bluish-green and equipped with horrible claws, visible. Clenched in that malicious grip is a sword the size of a man, its blade barbed and serrated, its crossguard and hilt decorated with alien-looking runes. As Elegy observes, a third glowing eye - first orange, then baleful red - opens at the intersection of hilt and blade.

She is then deafened by the cry of a raptor, shrieking in her ears, and the world around her cracks and shatters like broken glass, then rains down on her and blows away as black feathers in the wind, that yet reflect light in countless innumerable colors like shattered stained glass.

She turns toward the source of the wind and sees a castle towering amongst spire-like stones, huddling in the depths of a forest and shrouded in a halo of darkness against the spring light. The wind intensifies, accompanied by the sound of wolves howling, and the windows in the castle fly open, unleashing a horde of bats, a swarm of black wings and smoldering red eyes.

When the bats have cleared, everything around Elegy has changed. The landscape is vibrant, alive, and filled with colors unnamable, a primeval realm of life and light unlike anything she has ever seen. The castle has been replaced by the realm of a fairy-tale princess, tall and gleaming spires and perfect ivory walls strewn with tapestries and pennants.

There is a sound like rushing water, and suddenly a sucking sensation, and as Elegy watches the world around her swirls - like water down a drain, except going upward - and the perfect fairy-tale realm disappears upward, infinitely high, disappearing into the night sky. And left in its place is barren sand and once again the scorching sunlight. In place of the castle she sees the gates of Dun Raige, its streets barren cracked earth, its buildings crumbling and rotten, its castle a ruin, and its population - human, halfling, kobold, ael, aranea - scattered skeletons in the streets.

All goes dark again, then Elegy awakes back in the hive, huddling in front of the queen.

The answers are, of course:

The desert ghost town is Varnhold. The tiny creature is a spriggan, which then grows into its full-sized form, then turns into Vordakai. Big V in my game is heavily associated with ravens and crows, in addition to having a raven familiar he also keeps murders (both living and undead), and in ancient times allied with a rogue group of Tengu and Dire Corbies (which still serve him today in undeath, and will be filling much of his lair alongside the cyclopes zombies), and having had images of himself painted on the walls of the Lonely Barrow, where a Yamabushi Tengu Oni wight and several skeletal Tengu were interred.

Elegy has been warned of being watched by a Red Eye before by Cesca, whose visions are far less complete and reliable compared to the Thriae.

The feasthall of undead lizardfolk is the Talon Lords tribe and the Tomb of Armagk, with the lizardman in shadow being Armagk Twice-Hatched clenching Ovinrbaane. The references to raptors and feathers are to Irshya, goddess of envy and harpies, my setting's replacement for Gyronna and patron of the Black Sisters and their minions, Niska Malzagorta (just recently slain) and Marae Quintessa.

The castle is the Castle of Knives in Thousand Voices forest, which in my game is the current lair of the dread vampire Ibrahim, sire to Lilith, signified by the wolves and bats. The shift in perspective is of course comparing the Castle of Knives to the House At the End of Time and Thousandbreaths.

The swirling upward into the air and leaving ruin behind is the Stolen Lands being bottled by Nyrissa.

Brilliant ideas Orthos. I can see it really working.

Thanks =)

Orthos wrote:

One of my players - the duchess - was told by an NPC I've created with minor, uncontrolled precognition (the Old Beldame's apprentice) that a strange red eye was observing her, or would be observing her in the future. Curious and a little worried, she performed a divination asking what it was. The answer is Vordakai's Oculus of Abaddon, of course, but since she asked about the eye itself and not its user/wearer, this is the answer her spell got:

"Eye of crimson, eye of depth
Eye of sorrow, eye of death
Hear thy sinister siren call
Marching off to eternal slumber all
Deepest Stygian depths you see
Plucked from boatman's skull for thee"

We're finally around to book three, and the group has both noted the absence of Varnhold trade caravans, and received the letter from their sponsors asking them to look into it. Elegy of course first attempted sending and scrying on Varn and Cephal, to no avail; Elga Verniex and a neighboring colony's wizard likewise reported failure in the attempt. She then fell back on divination once more and received the following in response to "What happened in Varnhold?"

"Ancient secrets buried deep
Aged treasures long to keep
Lunging hands and longing hearts
Through gates of old so long apart
A gift for one, a queen so fair
A mystery deep and value rare
Stirred from the grave a soul forgotten
Malice born and rage begotten
Hear thy sinister siren call
Marching off to eternal slumber all
Lost in realms of canid dream
Deep beneath the earthen seam"

Of course anyone still using the centaurs should replace "canid" in that second-to-last line with "equine" or something similarly evoking horses; I replaced the centaurs in that region with Fenrin, my setting's wolf-folk, mostly because when I began the story I had a centaur PC and didn't want the negotiations to be super-crazy-easy. (Said PC has since been reincarnated, obviously....)

This summed up the players' reactions

Apparently this is going to be the chapter of Bad Things Happening.

The group got to Varnhold and, only a few buildings in (the Hog Farm, Tannery, and Brewery) are already commenting on how creepy the place is. They found and killed Horagnamon (spotted him standing on the Tannery watching them before they set it on fire [they were PISSED about the skins] and shot him down when he flew away, then he blew up in the Ruler's Winter Wolf cohort's mouth) and, between some good rolls all around, determined yes it was a familiar, yes it had a TON of HP, and yes the master made it use SelfDestruct somehow. They are now on "kill all carrion birds" mode.

They'll get a little more into the city before I'll drop the first Spriggans Vs. Thornjacks skirmish on them, right around dusk. Spriggan scouts have rigged the town with traps but Lilith will be easily able to spot most of them; it's mostly just the center area where the fighting is happening, not the outlying portions of town. Agai and Filchergrip Jane (a female Arctic Plant-Imbued Springheel Jack in charge of the Thornjacks) will make appearances on the rooftops in mid-skirmish but disappear fairly quickly, leaving the party to deal with the underlings; I've rebuilt Agai to make use of Skybolt as his main ranged weapon so the PCs will get a chance to see it in that opening salvo as well.

While they're gone - coincidentally timed right around the same time they eventually get into V's heavily-warded lair, so they can't be warned by their allies via sending in mid-quest - something I've wanted to do for quite some time is going to happen. Elegy's parents, Stelian and Adelina Medvyed, will come at last to the colony. Unfortunately, this isn't a cordial visit. With political tensions in Olorunium coming to a head soon, Stelian is seeing his daughter's successful colony as prime real estate and, with the blessing of the Barony he'll be showing up with paperwork in hand to take over the colony in Elegy's absence. ("After all," the barony officials think, "he IS her father, and she's busy taking care of the Varnhold situation like the Swordlord asked; who better to make sure things stay running smoothly?")

This will have several unpleasant repercussions. First off, the group's diplomat Akiniyi was placed as interim ruler; Stelian - who dislikes any species not human, halfling, or kobold - will oust her and her family from the castle and city, along with the rest of the council that doesn't fit his expectations (or, in the case of some like Eranex, disguise themselves well), and use the century of Olori soldiers he brings with him to chase citizens of those undesirables out of the city as well, banishing them into the Greenbelt wilderness. (Most will flee to Tatzylford, Gildgate [built around Oleg's], or Duskgrove [built around the Dancing Lady's Keep]. Some however will camp in the farms around Dun Raige until chased further off, and/or retreat to the Fort built at the Old Sycamore. The Sootscales will have left the city in protest, despite not being ousted, and sequestered themselves in their mines, depriving the colony of metals and gems in the interim.) By the time the party returns Dun Raige will be a quiet, somber town with Olori knights patrolling the street, Stelian in firm command, and a waiting heir of his choice - a lesser Alvaris nobleman named Casimir - and a court authority waiting to get Elegy married off ("Properly this time!"). Everyone else in the party, unless Jaekah and Takeshi show up in human form, will get chased out of town by the guards (who are combat veterans, and thus not quite the pushover town guards you'd expect).

Obviously they can't start a fight in their own city, and I can't imagine Elegy will condone her party members killing her father, so they'll have to find another way to solve this after dealing with Vordakai.

So due to some quick thinking, fast deals, and badgering, Elegy just managed to slip out of everything I'd planned for the above post. Just before taking off to Varnhold (yeah we do these sort of time-displaced single-person RPs all the time, out of game), Elegy teleported out to her family's homestead, recovered her mother and brought her back to Iomrall, explained the situation, and then went to Ivan and had him file both a divorce for her parents (with her mother's permission) and a writ of emancipation for herself, cutting off her father's intended takeover by severing herself from his authority and taking every advantage of the fact that she now outranks him (as a viscountess versus a mere land-owning lord). Furthermore, she traded with Ivan/Oberon knowledge for knowledge, telling him some of the secret bits of her own past in exchange for him spying out her father and learning what his plan is. Oberon agreed, and even offered to come back with said information, ready to make another deal with Elegy once she knows what she's facing.

Stymied by the sudden one-two legal punch Ivan is sending to Olorunium, Stelian Medvyed will instead hire up a gang of mercenaries along with some Alvaris soldiers headed by Casimir, and head out to Iomrall just before the chaos in Olorunium explodes into all-out warfare, intending to seize his daughter's colony by force since his legal options will have been outmaneuvered. Iomrall hasn't done much as far as military, maintaining only the same four small militias they had since just after tangling with Hargulka, so Oberon's offer will be to supplement Iomrall's meager military force with faerie armies.

His price? All of Elegy's unborn children. She, being asexual, wasn't using them anyway. (That and being an aranea, she can't have children yet; the Children of Arachne don't become able to reproduce until their final metamorphosis.) I'm not sure what Oberon will do with that once he has it, but it seems a fair price. Moreover this will add yet another complication into a potential next ruler for Iomrall, in addition to the extended lifetime of their current one....

...Huh. That's pretty clever, actually. He's not just been outmaneuvered, but outright embarrassed. I mean, she didn't even need to file the divorce to be freed from his patriarchy(at least, as far as I know). Now he doesn't have anything except his land and title, and it's clear that soon he won't even have that, thanks to impending war.

I guess the thing that confuses me is how she knew to take this course of action now. I don't know if you've been hinting at her father trying anything in the game, based on what I've read here and on your campaign journal. I take it she received some form of warning from her brothers?

As for the last point in that post:

Future Campaign Tie-Ins!:
possible origin for the Curse of the Crimson Throne?

Good job bringing a History of Ashes into Kingmaker. If ever there was a place for that module, it's here.

Talking Skull wrote:
I guess the thing that confuses me is how she knew to take this course of action now. I don't know if you've been hinting at her father trying anything in the game, based on what I've read here and on your campaign journal. I take it she received some form of warning from her brothers?

Background drama with her father has been building for some time now, though I haven't been posting much of it in the journal since it's been happening in offscreen one-on-one RPs between me and Elegy's player, fleshing out some of the details of her backstory.

Stelian is extremely traditional, fairly racist (if you aren't human, halfling, or kobold, you're a monster unfit to be considered intelligent), somewhat sexist, and obsessive about prestige, position, and respect. Elegy is several years younger than her brothers, and didn't have a proper place to "fit in" to her family's hierarchy, and his attempt to marry her off got sabotaged by her developing oracle powers - which he refused to let her get looked at by the local priests for fear of further embarrassment, which only fueled the fires until Adelina took matters into her own hands, taking her incognito to a local temple and arranging for training sessions with a priestess until Elegy got the basics under control.

Over the months out of game/years in game, Elegy has been very slowly coming out of her shell, primarily thanks to encouragement from Akiniyi and her daughters (who are basically Elegy's surrogate family now), her brothers (more Emerson than Evan, obviously), her nieces, and some of her party mates (particularly Errol and Lilith), as well as her mother's brother, Uncle Rupert, a wizard she once wanted to apprentice under (before being banned from doing so by Stelian) and who has been communicating with her occasionally starting during the downtime. Rupert is currently in Drelev on business, and will be imprisoned there during Blood for Blood; his communications with Elegy will stop suddenly just before the attack on Tatzylford.

What sparked this latest bit, and this final set of actions, was actually him and Lilith. Rupert had been updating Elegy on the status of things in Olorunium, and telling her how bad things had gotten. He made mention of how Stelian was sort of "preparing for the worst" and doing quite a bit of stockpiling and fortifying in Moira, Elegy's hometown, as well as how Evan and Stelian were "not talking to one another" at the moment; Elegy panicked a little, badgered two scrolls of teleport out of Errol, and arranged an escape for Adelina. After bringing her back to Tatzylford and getting her set up with her family there, Adelina and Elegy had some mother-daughter time, which included things like explaining the situation back home, commiserating over Stelian, Elegy revealing the results of her reincarnation, and otherwise basically re-establishing their strained relationship.

Elegy, feeling guilty, revealed to Akiniyi (as Diplomat) and Lilith (as Spymistress) what she'd done, worried that her actions might have initiated some possible threat against Iomrall. Both agreed she'd done the right thing but Lilith pointed out she was right to be worried, and heavily advised she take legal action. Elegy spoke with Adelina regarding the possibility of divorce, Adelina agreed, and Elegy went to Ivan to get the paperwork handled.


As for the last point in that post:

** spoiler omitted **

HAH. I am definitely interested now. Suggestions?

Good job bringing a History of Ashes into Kingmaker. If ever there was a place for that module, it's here.

Yeah I thought so too, and since I couldn't find a way to fit it into my future run of CotCT, I really wanted to use it, it is a well-written adventure, just a bit out of place in the otherwise-urban sprawl that is CT. Scarwall I've already found a solution for, as well.

Interesting. Looking over CotCT, I'd have done away with HoA but kept Scarwall, being atmospheric, a powerful reminder of the stakes they're fighting for, a bit of a breather from the non-stop revolutionary urban adventure(because HoA would be replaced with more Korvosa), and just all around awesome. Plus they'd have Teleport magic available to them by then, so leaving the city for brief periods wouldn't hurt the city drama as much. But I'm still interested in seeing what you have in store to replace Scarwall.

Well, the Curse is stated to be two-fold:

1. The Ruler does not die a natural death.

Most importantly is 2. No monarch has produced an heir while ruling.

While I had an idea that, due to obfuscating language, Oberon's agreement could apply to all heirs to the Throne, not merely Elegy's heirs, it runs counter to Elegy's biggest strength, so I don't see it happening(use it if you think you can get away with it, though!) So, instead, I figure that Oberon would instead pose a similar deal to all future Rulers when they take the throne. Sometimes he'll offer aid, sometimes he'll offer an alliance with Summer, sometimes he'll offer protection, but he'll always ask for the same price: your heirs, please. It won't violate any previous dealings with Elegy, and it may tip the balance in the territory in Summer's favor.

And while I have no direct answer for how The Deal applies to number 1, I figure that anyone who refuses this deal with Oberon can expect a short tenure on the throne...one way or another.

Oh I am NOT getting rid of Scarwall.

What's actually going to happen is that the current castle in Dun Raige is going to get something happened to it - not sure exactly what* - a few centuries or so after KM ends that turns it into Scarwall. The city will be moved slightly north, with the stuff nearest Scarwall (which will be blockaded off, separated slightly from the city, protected by priests, and otherwise a major Keep Out zone) becoming Old Dun Raige and the focus of Chapter Three.

*: I will probably place the blame on Ibrahim Al-Aziz-Zaman Faysal, Vordakai's former apprentice and Lilith's Mythic Dread Vampire sire, a powerful Sorcerer/Archmage who the group will tangle with but probably not permanently kill at the end of Blood for Blood.

Anyway, I like your suggestion very very much.

We've already determined how Elegy herself will die, provided she survives the campaign itself of course. And there's already been some suggestion that Elegy was looking at adopting/assigning an heir if she never made an alliance that could produce one through normal means. I imagine between that and the eventual Curse, such exchange of the throne becomes almost tradition in Iomrall.

Despite my earlier ideas to the contrary, I've decided Havelock has chosen to betray Nyrissa, keeping Briar for himself (more to keep it out of her hands than personal gain or greed; he's LE rather than CE like Irovetti is in the books), and since my PCs' kingdom is so friendly with and entwined into fey politics he's wary of them being her latest set of minions. He knows something of her plans from Engelidis, who in my game is her half-fey Yuan-Ti daughter, who has been convinced to throw her lot in with Havelock and his retinue.

If the PCs can negotiate with them and reach a peaceful resolution, they might find themselves able to get their hands on some very useful information from Engelidis.

Much of the conflict of WOTRK will be replaced with the arrival of Cuorvhain the Conqueror, finally coming to seize Ilthuliak's territory and drive civilization out of the Stolen Lands in one fell swoop.

Speaking of Engelidis, she and Elegy have been getting on very well, and one of the things Elegy's learned about her is that she has a fondness for historical lore - particularly ancient cultures such as the Giants that once inhabited much of the Stolen Lands.

Elegy's player is fairly confident they're going to find a third ring of the jabberwock in Vordakai's lair - which is correct, except she thinks Vordakai's going to have it. (They haven't managed to learn anything about Willas yet - they lost interest in exploring Varnhold in detail before they found his place [due to a combination of distaste for the Varnholders, fighting the Spriggans/negotiating with the Thornjacks, and eagerness to get in, get the job done, and go home before something bad happened back in Iomrall], and they completely disregarded everything else in Pendrod's paperwork when they spotted Vordakai's name.) She's pretty much declared that when (rather than if) they find another one, it's stopped being coincidence - and as the only expert on this kind of historical lore that she knows, Elegy's going to turn to Engelidis for help identifying it.

Engelidis, in turn, will instantly recognize her mother's insignia. Given she and Havelock have turned their backs on helping Nyrissa and are pretty cozy and comfortable with their life in Ankh-Morpork Abednego, the last thing she wants is Nyrissa getting wind of her location, or worse, that she and Havelock are hiding Briar there, having made their decision not to return it to her or continue assisting her plans shortly after finding it. So now I need to think of how much information she'll be willing to part with, and whether or not she'll consider Elegy - as Mab's proxy - a threat to her current situation and, if so, how she'll handle it.

Alright, after quite a bit of thinking, here's what I've come up with.

Engelidis and Havelock have for some time suspected the PCs are looking for Briar, but other than Elegy's known Winter connections and Errol's sword being of Summer make, they've been unable to determine whether they're friend or foe in the big Faerie showdown to come. Politically, Shadrach is a lot different from Pitax - its ruler isn't as expansionist and is a better planner, IMO. So there's no real reason for Havelock to go to war against Iomrall... unless he believes the PCs' kingdom is a legit threat. That, and they'll have already dealt with treachery twice when WOTRK comes up - first the dirty deeds going on in Varnhold, then the attack by Drelev - and I'd like to not run three in a row on "You can't trust your neighbors/fellow colonies" here. If Havelock goes to war, I want him to have a justifiable reason beyond conquest.

As of the end of VV, the war back in Olorunium is going to be in full swing. Elegy's dad is going to show up after they deal with Vordakai with a last-ditch effort to seize Iomrall for himself in the chaos, but after that point and through the latter half of the campaign the colonies will be on their own. Shadrach will be the first to declare official independence, and I imagine Iomrall will not be far behind, nor will the other two remaining colonies (though Drelev may be too distracted with other issues).

So, on to the issue of Engelidis and the ring of the jabberwock. Elegy plans to contact her when they get back to Iomrall (and, presumably, after the not-yet-known attack from her dad gets resolved). Engelidis has a pretty darned good bluff score, being a high-level sorcerer, and just might be able to conceal her surprise at Nyrissa's emblem from the inquiring viscountess. She'll stall for time, saying she needs more time to do research; presuming not too much downtime, the PCs could get wrapped up in Chapter 4 stuff and give her time to work things out - not about learning about the ring, she already knows what it is and does, but about what she and Havelock should do about the PCs.

What they'll end up doing, unless I get good reason to change it, is when the plot-time is right Engelidis will report back to Elegy, inviting her and the rest of the PCs to Shadrach to discuss the ring and its implications. While they're away from home, Havelock will maneuver his armies to a convenient location in southern Drelev where, if needed, he can launch an offensive at Iomrall; however, he won't give the order to attack until the PCs give him reason. Engelidis will make some inquiries to the PCs about where they found the rings, who had them, what they were doing, and why the PCs keep getting involved with people wearing them. The more she'll ask, the more piercing her questions will get, until she's stopped asking about the rings themselves and begun prying more into the PCs' own fey connections.

If their answers are satisfactory, Havelock will call off the army, and Engelidis will reveal her connection to Nyrissa and give the PCs some unobscured information on the Queen of Forgotten Time at last. Havelock will then challenge Errol to a duel and reveal that he's had Briar all along; he and Engelidis will explain their part in Nyrissa's plot and why they decided to turn on her, and how they've been keeping Briar hidden away for all these years. In said duel, Red Right Hand and Briar will shatter, and the former will regrow into the latter, passing ownership of the artifact from Havelock to Errol. (This is, of course, barring further interruption of the duel or the circumstances around it from Elegy or Lilith, who both have their own plans for Briar.)

If their answers are NOT satisfactory, Havelock will reveal the location of his army, and give the PCs a chance to surrender and excuse themselves from the Fey war before he attacks Iomrall. For the most part this potential path would play out WOTRK as written, but that could change. I don't expect the PCs to take this route though, but it would hardly be the first time they've surprised me like that.

Regardless, before the PCs can go on the hunt to find a way to reach Nyrissa - either after peacefully negotiating something with Shadrach's leaders, or playing out WOTRK as normal - Cuorvhain arrives and attacks, starting with Shadrach and making his way east. The more pressing threat of the dragon will force the PCs to put aside dealing with Nyrissa directly until Chapter Six, and require them to focus on the threat of the big bad blue dragon bearing down on them.

Though I'm rather curious if Elegy will report to Mab about finding that Havelock was the one who took the sword from Evindra (though technically that was The Gardener, who sealed her away; Havelock's men just found the sword abandoned in her demesne, but on the other hand they did take it), thus ending her debt to Mab, or keep that a secret and endure still being the Winter Queen's servant to protect their alliance. I'll have to play that one by ear.

So after purchasing or tracking down all the available parts, I'll be adding Maure Castle - all available levels: The Grand Hall, Tomorast's Hold, Kezira's Fane, The Statuary, The Greater Halls, The Chamber of Antiquities, and Warlock's Walk - to the end of Blood For Blood as the current lair of Ibrahim the Dread Vampire, Lilith's ex-sire and world mastermind extraordinaire, and now master and "father" of such sinister foes of the party as Dovan, Kressle, Rigg, Grigori, and the rebuilt Stag Lord, among many, many others. I'm thinking of having him do something with the decapitated, incinerated, and thoroughly disgraced Cinderlander, as well.

Sure it'll steal a bit of thunder from Armagk, but this particular inevitable head-to-head is a bit more important to my PCs' personally, I think. I've dropped far too many hints of Ibrahim's interest in Lilith's kingdom to not give the party a fitting fight with the mythic vampire, and heck, if I'm going to have an uber vampire villain, I'm going to give him a suitable Castlevania.

+1 for the Cinderlander! Man's badass enough to earn a second shot against those meddlesome PCs. You know what you're going to make him, yet?

How badass is Maure Castle? I'm not familiar with that one. Now, Ravenloft, on the other hand...

Stag Lord is still being re-worked and customized for your party's eventual power levels. Don't worry, I'll do him better justice this time.

Talking Skull wrote:
+1 for the Cinderlander! Man's badass enough to earn a second shot against those meddlesome PCs. You know what you're going to make him, yet?

Probably a Pale Stranger actually, with the guns replaced with an upgraded crossbow or perhaps a longbow instead. (I was planning on putting a nasty artifact bow in the treasure for Lilith to find; I might have her get it off the Cinderlander instead, now that I think about it. Crossbows are already sadly ineffective, and will be even more so by the time the party gets to Chapter 4's endgame.)

Talking Skull wrote:
How badass is Maure Castle? I'm not familiar with that one.

As written, the tougher enemies hover around CR 15-19, depending which section of the castle you're in (tougher stuff is deeper in obviously; the Grand Hall is the first/entry section and Warlock's Walk was the last released). However, it's written for 3.5, so that's off by 1 or 2 low, so probably closer to CR 14-17 in PF, give or take.

Its main draw is that it's huge and it does give a very Castlevania vibe, which is more what I wanted it for than the as-written combats and Greyhawk lore. (Though I will be keeping SOME of the history of House Maure.) Each of the sections of the castle is distinct, yet noticeably connected. I'll be redoing a lot of the encounters - both to add Ibrahim's "children" and to give the place a slight Mythic facelift - but there's a few things (the Purple Stone, the Id Core and the Maurids, the demon Kezira, and a few other things) I will probably leave in place.

I'm back, baby! And to celebrate my return, I'm giving out presents! Behold, Staggy 3.0, firmly nestled in CR 20!

The Hit Sequel to Brawn of the Dead!(It's actually objectively better):

Pox sores oozing from cracked flesh pulled taut over bony ribs like papyrus leaves, the beast has all the appearance of a starved, diseased horse – up until the neck, where the head should be. In its place is a half-eaten human torso bleeding a small stream of maggots, rippling with dying muscles that snap and crack as it heaves breathlessly. And on top of that is a skull of what once must have been a majestic megaloceros, poking out of the human-sized neck as though it were a tight-collared tunic. Eyeless sockets wash over you, and it opens its mouth and screeches at you with a moldy tongue. The bubble of shadowy tendrils that wash around it a moment later cannot hide the nightmarish form entirely, leaving you to imagine how its features move, rustling behind its veil, for the rest of your life.

Deadly Aim, Power Attack, Rapid Shot and Manyshot are included in the following stat block.

XP 307,200

CE Large Exemplar Construct(augmented monstrous humanoid) Ranger 3/Rogue 6
Init +17; Senses blindsense 45 ft., low-light vision, darkvision 90 ft., scent; Perception +17
Aura Crypt Musk 45 ft.(DC 16, 2 rounds), Transcendent Pain 90 ft.(DC 26)

AC 42, touch 22, flat-footed 29 (+8 armor, +13 Dex, +12 natural, –1 size); +2 deflection vs. Good
hp 225 (15d10+6d8+27); regeneration 10(positive energy)
Fort +15, Ref +29, Will +23 ; +2 resist vs. Good
DR 15/Good and slashing; Immune Variant Construct traits, magic
Defensive Abilities evasion, trap sense +2, uncanny dodge, resiliency(6 hp)
Weakness Trauma

Speed 60 ft.
Melee +3 gore attack +32 (2d8+32 plus Scars of battle), 1 +3 slam +30 (1d8+22), 2 +3 hooves +30 (1d6+22 plus Scars of battle)

OR +3 speed keen scimitar +32/+32/+27/+22/+17 (1d8+29 dmg plus Scars of battle, 15-20/x2), +3 gore attack +30 (2d8+32 plus Scars of battle), 2 +3 hooves +28 (1d6+22 plus Scars of battle)

Ranged +4 adaptive speed composite longbow +29/+29/+29/+29/+24/+19/+14 (1d8+31 dmg plus Scars of battle; 19-30/x3)
OR with poisoned arrows +29/+29/+29/+29/+24/+19/+14 (1d8+31 dmg plus Scars of battle plus purple worm poison; 19-20/x3)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks powerful charge (gore, 4d8+31), Scars of battle(DC 26, 3d4+3 bleed), favored enemy (human +2), sneak attack +3d6, Point Blank Shot, Purple Worm Poison(25 arrows)

Str 48(+19), Dex 36(+13), Con --, Int 18(+4), Wis 30(+10), Cha 26(+8)
Base Atk +16; CMB +33; CMD 43 (47 vs. trip)

Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bull Rush, Minotaur’s Charge, Multiattack, Power Attack (-5 atk, +10 dmg), Toughness, Ability Focus(Transcendent Pain), Point Blank Shot, Deadly Aim (-5 atk, +10 dmg), Weapon Focus (longbow/comp. longbow), Quick Draw, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Blind-Fight, Manyshot, Improved Precise Shot, Improved InitiativeB, Iron WillB, RunB

Skills Acrobatics +37, Appraise +28, Climb +23, Intimidate +32, Knowledge (geography) +14, Knowledge (local) +28, Knowledge (nature) +28, Perception +37, Stealth +33, Survival +34, Swim +23, Use Magic Device +32

SQ undersized weapons, favored terrain (hills +2), Rogue Talents(combat trick, resiliency, weapon training), track +1, trapfinding, wild empathy +8

Combat Gear +4 adaptive speed composite longbow, +3 speed keen scimitar, +5 arrow deflecting light steel quickdraw shield, 25 arrows coated in purple worm poison, 125 arrows Other Gear Belt of Physical Might(+6 Str, Dex), Headband of Mental Prowess(+6 Wis, Cha), Bracers of Armor +8/Falconer’s Aim, Amulet of Mighty Fist/Natural Armor (+3 both), efficient quiver, greater sniper goggles, ring of Invisibility, 2677 gp

Variant Construct Traits (Ex)
This particular intelligent construct is immune to death effects, disease, necromancy effects, paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects, or is harmless). Constructs are not subject to nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or energy drain. Constructs are not at risk of death from massive damage.

Crypt Musk (Ex)
All living creatures (except those with the stench special ability) within 45 feet must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 stench creature’s racial HD + stench creature’s Con modifier) or be nauseated. The duration of the nauseated condition is given in the creature’s descriptive text. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the same creature’s stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonus on their saving throws.

Transcendent Pain (Su)
Any living creature that comes with 90 ft. of the Stag Lord Reborn feels an increase in air pressure and an unshakeable pins-and-needles feeling pressing on them; unbeknownst to them, the Stag Lord Reborn’s negative energy nexus is tapping into the creature’s life force and creating a sympathetic connection between them. All hit point damage the Stag Lord Reborn takes is halved, and the remaining half is taken by one other living creature within his aura, as the unwilling shield spell. This creature is always the closest individual to the Stag Lord Reborn that fails a Will save when damage is calculated (DC 10 + racial HD + Cha modifier). If there are no living creatures within 90 ft., the Stag Lord Reborn does not receive this benefit.
This aura of sympathetic connection also magnifies pain and uses it to supplement the Stag Lord Reborn. Whenever the Stag Lord Reborn deals 10 points of damage or more to a living creature within 90 ft., he gains a +1 luck bonus to AC and all saving throws until the beginning of his next turn.
Lastly, whenever a spell with the [Pain] descriptor is cast on a living creature with 90 ft. of the Stag Lord Reborn, that spell receives a +3 profane bonus to the DC.

Immune to Magic (Ex)
The Stag Lord Reborn is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.
• Gentle repose causes The Stag Lord Reborn to become stiff and helpless for 2d4 rounds if it fails a Will save against the spell.
• Any spell that inflicts positive energy damage deals no damage; instead, it disables his regeneration ability if he fails his save against the spell. See the Regeneration section for further details.
• Any spell that inflicts negative energy damage deals no damage; instead, it reactivates his regeneration ability (no save) and gets rid of the shaken and staggered conditions, if The Stag Lord Reborn currently suffers from them. See the Regeneration section for further details.
• Rest eternal slows The Stag Lord Reborn (as the slow spell) for 4d6 rounds (no save).
• Animate dead and create dead haste The Stag Lord Reborn (as the haste spell) for 3d6 rounds.
• Any magical attack that deals cold damage adds 1d8 points of cold damage to all of the Stag Lord Reborn’s attacks for 1d6+1 rounds.

Regeneration (Ex)
The Stag Lord Reborn was infused with a nexus of negative energy upon creation for the purpose of stitching together any wounds it might take in combat, giving it the ability to regenerate despite having no Constitution score. However, unlike most forms of regeneration, if the Stag Lord Reborn is hit with an energy type that causes his regeneration to stop functioning, it does not resume functioning in another round. Rather, the regeneration is de-activated until The Stag Lord Reborn is hit with a negative energy attack, at which point it begins regenerating hit points as normal.

Scars of Battle (Ex)
The corpses that comprise this abomination were both slain in terribly violent fashions, and when they were re-animated, they were driven to spread the pain and misery of their battles to any that have the misfortune of fighting them. When a creature fails its save against this curse, another wound like the one that passed the curse appears on the creature’s body, as though it were struck again; like a hoof-shaped bruise or a bleeding hole like a goring horn. The bleed damage is a continuous effect; however, due to the immense pain of the curse, the DC for concentration checks is calculated using the full damage of the bleed as opposed to using half of the damage. The save DC is Charisma-based and includes a +2 racial bonus. A successful save negates all effects of the curse. After the curse has been inflicted, the bleed damage can be healed using healing magic or a Heal check (DC 15) as normal.
Scars of Battle: curse; gore, hooves, manufactured weapons—injury; save Fortitude DC 26; onset 1 rounds; frequency 2 rounds; effect 3d4+3 bleed damage, staggered for 1 round.

Trauma (Ex)
The magic that gives this unnatural monstrosity its sentience is still flawed. It has exacerbated it’s old fears and even created new ones, as the spells do not erase the creature’s death trauma(s). In this case, the Stag Lord Reborn has a new phobia of fire, after an incident involving spilled booze and a fire elemental resulting in his untimely death, and he has (re-)developed a psychological reaction to acid, the last legacy of his insane father.
• Fire damage causes the Stag Lord Reborn to become shaken for 2 rounds, plus 2 more rounds for every 10 additional points of fire damage he sustains. Fire damage from multiple sources do not stack and cause the Stag Lord Reborn to become frightened; instead, it extends the durations of the shaken condition. Fear effects from other sources stack, and can cause the Stag Lord Reborn to become frightened.
• The first time the Stag Lord Reborn sustains acid damage, he becomes staggered for 2 rounds, plus 2 more rounds for every additional 10 points of acid damage he sustains, as he cries and tries wiping the acid away.
• Every time the Stag Lord Reborn sustains acid damage beyond the first, however, he gains the benefits of rage, as per the spell, for 2 rounds plus 1 round for every additional 10 points of acid damage sustained. During this time, he focuses his attacks on the source of the acid damage, only stopping if the target is destroyed or the duration of the effect expires, whichever comes first.
Any time fire or acid damage would reduced to zero through resistances or immunities, including the Immunity to Magic ability, treat the Stag Lord Reborn as though he has sustained 1 point of the corresponding damage for the purposes of this ability. Any fire or acid damage negated by Reflex save or the Evasion ability does not count as having sustained damage for the purposes of this ability.

Undersized Weapons (Ex)
Although The Stag Lord Reborn is Large, its upper torso is the same size as that of a Medium humanoid. As a result, it wields weapons as if it was one size category smaller than its actual size (Medium).

Flesh-Stripped Skull (Su)
The megaloceros skull affixed to The Stag Lord Reborn’s neck stump functions as the focal point for an unhallow effect, penalizing the DCs of any positive energy spells cast on him by 4 and allowing him to make a second save against various charms, compulsions, and mind effects. The effects of the magic circle against evil spell are already included in his stat block here, just as the equivalent cost of creating this particular magic item has been taken out of his gp expenditures.
The skull is also somewhat optional – if removed via a vorpal blade or similarly enchanted weapon, the head flies 10 ft. away from the square the Stag Lord Reborn occupies. The Stag Lord Reborn then gains the blinded condition, and loses his gore and powerful charge attacks. He still gains the benefits of the unhallow effect if he’s within 40 ft. of his severed head. As long as the regeneration effect is active, he can re-attach his head as a standard action.
The additional spell effect is currently darkness; however, feel free to change it as needs must!

Director's Commentary:

Some big changes here, some small.

First, DR. I actually found something I liked: Good and slashing. Decently high level and not easy to penetrate, fits in thematically.

Next, Magic Immunity. Mostly just changed the spells to make the critter more individualized, instead of a carrion golem copy. Some nasty surprises for metagamers as well, though I don't think it'll be a problem here.

Speaking of individualized, you're probably wondering what Trauma is about. I wanted to include some consequences from Staggy's earlier defeat, so I read through your CJ for some inspiration. Trauma's goal from a design standpoint is to give the spellcasters some new ways to affect the fight without compromising the Magic Immunity. Instead of damage, they inflict conditions and force a change of tactics. The callbacks are simply gravy. One thing about this ability I'm on the fence about, however, is how Evasion and Reflex fit into it. I've put my personal take on it in the statblock as Word of Maker, but feel free to change it if you don't like it. Staggy's Reflex is scary high, after all.

Of course, part of the reason I'm giving spellcasters a break is because I've made an adjustment to Scars of Battle to really screw 'em over. Buffing up the bleed damage, then making all bleed damage count on a concentration check instead of half gives this ability more bite than before, and it might actually screw your PCs over some.

And then there's Transcendent Pain. Oh boy. This one is a recent brainchild of mine, and it's still pretty rough around the edges. Any feedback you have on this one is appreciated.

But that's not the best part, and isn't the real reason for the increase in CR. I'll admit the reason I feel more confident about this submission the application of the Exemplar template and the addition of PC level gear. His AC is actually pretty good now, and can only increase with his new shield, while his Reflex and Will saves are nasty, nasty business. Compound that with his DR and regen, not to mention miss chance from concealment, and you've got one defensive son of a witch. His offensive abilities are still top-notch, with decent DCs for his abilities, sky-high attack and damage, and now some nasty poison on top of it. Funny thing about poison - it stacks not by increasing the effects, but by increasing the save DC by 2 and 2 rounds increased duration for every failed initial save. 7 ranged attacks a round just make this cheating, and I'm a dirty b@$tard for including this tactic in his statblock. Feel free to change this if you want - Staggy got a little over a 19th level PC's worth of gold. By the time your players get around to fighting him, you'll probably need to bump him up some levels, so don't forget to increase his gp accordingly. >:)

Again, Orthos, any criticisms and questions are welcome. This is much improved, but still needs refinement, especially before I inflict this on any players.

Lastly, I hereby dedicate this monstrosity to Scintillae, author of this quote:

Scintillae wrote:
Well, it's not like anything else connected to the Stag Lord has any dignity left to it.

FWIW, Scintillae is the player of Elegy, our Viscountess and the person behind 9/10 of the nonsense that happened to Staggy in that fight.

And it is beautiful. Beautiful. Oh I love it. It's perfect. Thank you millions man. That is creative insane genius. It's going to be quite a trick bringing Dovan, Kressle, Rigg, Grigori, and the other returning faces up to this par. Heck, he might even outdo Vordakai's round two.

Orthos wrote:
FWIW, Scintillae is the player of Elegy, our Viscountess and the person behind 9/10 of the nonsense that happened to Staggy in that fight.

Which makes the dedication doubly suitable!

But...better than Vordakai? Now I know you're pulling my leg, man. Your version looked pretty mean, and that's before getting buffed up for the next fight.

'Tis true. I'll have to post his statblock shortly ;) And he'll have some new equipment and a few extra levels and/or tiers before the party tangles with him again.

He'll be a different fight though, probably after Staggy but before Ibrahim himself.

A quick summary of the endgame of chapter three as well, while I'm here:

> Vordakai was slain, but his phylactery was not in his tomb in Varnhold; divination informed Elegy that "To ensure that even in loss was won / The father's soul is in hand of the son", which the players have interpreted as Vordakai's phylactery being in the possession or protection of his former apprentice Ibrahim.

> The surviving Varnholders and Maestro Pendrod were returned to Varnhold (with a little help from Oberon). The de-facto ruler of the colony, Varn's daughter Miriam, was informed by Elegy that they'd be discussing Varnhold's situation and options once the current crisis was settled. In-game about a week later, Elegy and Akiniyi are making plans to make the journey back out to Varnhold to start the annexation process, adding Varnhold to Iomrall's states and adding the Nomienn as vassals under Iomrall's protection.

> Speaking of Oberon, the Summer King reported back to Elegy after leaving Vordakai's lair, and informed her of both the in-motion collapse of Olorunium and her father and Casimir Alvaris marching on Iomrall with a large military force. Once Elegy was out of panic mode, she notified all the leaders of Iomrall's cities to make preparations, used a sending to contact her brother Evan and catch him up to date as well as get some information out of him about young Lord Alvaris, and most of all addressed Oberon's suggested solution: Elegy's potential future unborn children for the bolstering of Iomrall's armies with Summer knights.

Elegy was wary about the deal, but not for the reason I thought most people would be: I figured if there was any hesitance it would be from someone who actually wanted children, while Elegy's made no secret of her lack of interest in the subject. No, it turned out instead that Elegy's complaint was equal parts about an unfair advantage to Oberon's side of the deal and the fate of sending children to FaeReie. Doing the math for the average lifespan of an Arachne, the number of eggs one could theoretically produce, and the children that would result would even significantly outnumber Alvaris's armies on a one-for-one basis. Instead, after some false starts and debating, she offered a counter-offer: the potential unborn children from her human life instead. While a significantly lesser amount, the fact that that phase of Elegy's life was currently non-existent made the deal much more appealing to Oberon, and he accepted for the chance to seize something forever lost.

And then that's when things got insane.

While the rest of the party was recuperating, preparing, or communicating, Lilith was sent to go spy out the enemy army. She, without orders, decided this should also entail taking along her little squad of fellow-spies (Mikmek, Glaicyd, Keldri, Silent Valkeri, etc.) and her gang of Za-Forest Guard fey (led by Perlivash, Tyg, and Ledipte). They proceeded to spend the next three days in the enemy camp making the soldiers' lives a living hell of faerie pranks, while the spies rode out along the edges of the camp and reported things back to Elegy via Glaicyd's sendings. Lilith herself even snuck into newly-named Count Medvyed's tent and spent the entire trip dosing him with Insanity Mist poison, so that by the time the army reached Iomrall he was a WIS-dumped, raving, hallucinating wreck.

This allowed Elegy and Casimir to talk about the situation without his interference, get things settled and reorganized and clear the air a bit, and actually led to Stelian being so broken and disorganized that he couldn't put up his usual arrogant front, which allowed him and Elegy a bit of opportunity for reconciliation. She's keeping him as a house-prisoner in Iomrall while Casimir takes a missive from her to his father the Vanguard Lord, requesting Iomrall's independence as a way to spare the Alvaris lands from the expense of maintaining the colony during the revolution.

> The colony, now, has ten months of downtime before BFB starts in earnest with the attack on Tatzylford. In that time they plan to officially annex Varnhold (they're already claiming hexes in that direction) and possibly formalize their alliance with Alvaris if Elegy's letter is taken well (Nat 20 + Maxed Mythic Surge = 60 diplomacy roll!! The only other person in the party who rolls those kinds of numbers is Lilith doing stealth or Errol doing Knowledge Arcana and Spellcraft) as well as whatever kingdom events come up.

After that the plot begins to roll again with the side trek to Drelev and the Slough, the Lizardfolk, and the return of a few familiar foes.

Orthos wrote:
Instead, after some false starts and debating, she offered a counter-offer: the potential unborn children from her human life instead. While a significantly lesser amount, the fact that that phase of Elegy's life was currently non-existent made the deal much more appealing to Oberon, and he accepted for the chance to seize something forever lost.


*Slow Clap*

First: mad props to Elegy/Scintillae. That was...inspired. Played right towards the sensibilities of Fey nobles, and completely out there. My hat is off to you.

Second: Orthos, what I wouldn't give to see what you have planned for this!

Orthos wrote:
They proceeded to spend the next three days in the enemy camp making the soldiers' lives a living hell of faerie pranks, while the spies rode out along the edges of the camp and reported things back to Elegy via Glaicyd's sendings. Lilith herself even snuck into newly-named Count Medvyed's tent and spent the entire trip dosing him with Insanity Mist poison, so that by the time the army reached Iomrall he was a WIS-dumped, raving, hallucinating wreck.

And the mad props keep coming! Sounds like it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. I am impressed by Lilith's skill and chutzpah, for daring to do and doing... while never getting caught.

And, of course, diplomacy roll of 60.

'Nuff said.

I think the lowest Stealth roll Lilith had on those whole three days was in the high 40s. Most of the rest were 50s. Combined with a greater hat of disguise and several bluff checks to pass as a local soldier, it was an insane amount of skill and perhaps a little bit of luck.


Elegy hauled Stelian back to Dun Raige for trial by council. Lilith and Takeshi discovered this just before leaving Gildgate (formerly known as Oleg's) and confronted her; she explained her reasons. Takeshi was, as usual, "sure whatever"; Lilith however was far more irked, and Glaicyd (LN Aranea Inquisitor of Arachne, eldest daughter of diplomat Akiniyi and one of Lilith's primary spy network underlings) had to talk her out of poisoning Stelian on the way back. Lilith instead shared the information with Errol and Jaekah, who were likewise "meh whatever" and "if that's what Elegy wants to do" respectively.

Stelian was pretty mute during his trial, knowing he had no excuses or testimony that would much sway the council; he was pretty much riding on the goodwill of his estranged daughter and he knew it. Rannulf the Worg Marshall pushed for execution, as the man had nearly led an army to conquer and subjugate Iomrall and would have spared them no mercy; Errol and court assassin Mikmek supported this move. Jhod and Elegy, however, pushed for prison time followed by supervised hard labor - to pay for his threat to the kingdom in labor and time. Lilith, swayed by Elegy's declaration that Iomrall was "a land of second chances, which many on this council would not be here without" (looking at you Jhod, Akiros, Elegy, Errol, Lilith, Silent Valkeri, etc. ...), proposed that of all people they ask his recently-divorced ex-wife Petra to be his overseer, noting that of all the people in Iomrall she'd be the least likely to fall for any shenanigans he might try to pull.

The council then voted: 6 for imprisonment and labor and 3 for execution, with 2 abstaining (Valkeri [Treasurer] and Takeshi [Warden]). Stelian was hauled off to prison. Elegy later approached Petra in Tatzylford (where she's a teacher at the academy there) and gave her the news; Petra was a little miffed at being volunteered without being consulted, but said she'd think about it and give a final answer when they were ready to let Stelian out of prison, in the meanwhile he could rot there for a few months/years without knowing what his ultimate fate would be. (And probably scheming, she said, though Elegy considers him too broken to pick up old habits again, at least this quickly.)

The party now has an 16 month break before BFB starts in earnest with the attack on Tatzylford (though in this game, it'll be a Boggard army from the swamp rather than the Talon Lords or Drelev's armies, though they will have been urged by Drelev's giants and the alliance between Marae Quintessa and the rusalka Ngara, who Marae believes is a representative of Ilthuliak [which admittedly is close: she works for Nyrissa, who Ilthuliak works with]). That should lead the PCs to investigate the Hooktongue Slough, hints after dealing with Ngara (such as the imprisoned young Miss Numesti; the warning to Tatzylford will come instead from the Boggard exile Garruum, who's been silent since Chapter One) should lead them to Drelev, dealing with the Drelevs will implicate Marae and the Black Sisters of Irshya, which will lead them to Armagk.

In those sixteen months:
> The interim council broke up a smuggling ring shortly before the party returned from Varnhold. In the immediate next month, random rolling for magic items came up with an intelligent chaos diamond. We've decided to tie them together and, in the words of Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, "Let's See What Happens" in-game rather than simply handling it through the normal kingdom-building rounds. That will have repercussions yet to be investigated.
> At the least, Elegy, Lilith, Jaekah, Akiniyi, and possibly Errol will be visiting Varnhold again to oversee the annexation, make peace and arrange protections and a vassalhood for the Nomienn, and set warnings and alerts for the possibility of Vordakai's return. (He won't be, he'll be spending the rest of Chapter 4 recuperating from his loss, rebuilding his magical equipment and backup spellbook, and otherwise preparing to face the PCs again when they are finally lured to Maure Castle by Ibrahim and his children. But the PCs don't know that and Errol, Elegy, and Lilith are extremely paranoid about having a Lich on the loose.)
> Around the turn of Midsummer, a response to that ridiculous 60 diplomacy roll will come from Vanguard Lord Ulrich Alvaris, the charter's original sponsor, granting Iomrall its independence and sending back his youngest son Casimir to formally seal the alliance with Elegy. This works out wonderfully for Casimir, as Elegy herself isn't human (or another species compatible with humans) he'd have to find a surrogate to produce heirs in her stead (not that it will matter, as Elegy will outlive them and many generations to follow, unless she dies and can't be resurrected somehow); Casimir has long had an off-the-books relationship with his wizard bodyguard Lady Jaroslava, this arrangement will not only allow that relationship to continue but will actually legitimize it, allowing any children the two produce to be considered proper heirs.
> Puck and Mab have both completed their arrangements for the party, each is now in possession of half of Errol's memories in the form of a cracked-in-half ruby sphere. Mab of course immediately reshaped it into a full (if smaller) sphere, and will be returning it to Errol and "fulfilling her part of the bargain" come winter, then dragging him off to Arctis Tor for the agreed-upon three months. Puck, on the other hand, has already delivered his half to Lilith, and left getting it back to Errol to her own devices.
> Speaking of Mab, she called Elegy in for a swift talking-to regarding making alliances and bargains with Oberon. There was some arguing and Mab getting very angry, but Elegy managed to weasel her way out alive and was dismissed. Mab is now very strongly considering her daughter Desdemona's offer to purchase Elegy's debt (for a price neither has shared with her); Elegy and Desdemona get along a lot better than Elegy and Mab do.
One of Elegy's main complaints was that she went to Summer because she knew where their representatives were and how to approach them directly; she couldn't summon Mab in person to ask her, since Mab's arrival always plunges the area around it into deep frost and Iomrall's economy is very heavily agricultural, and didn't know how to arrange for a meeting with another representative. In response to this, Mab has given the duty of arranging a proper face for Winter to the Winter Trickster and Herald, Puck's Counterpart, the Greymaulkin. (Think the Cheshire Cat + Cat Sith from The Dresden Files + Puss In Boots + Krosp from Girl Genius, all in the form of a grey-black cat the size of a human, with black eagle wings and a white snowflake on its chest.) Maulk has arranged for one of Winter's Le'Fay (mortal representatives and proxies whose job it is to intercede between mortality and the Fey Courts, and vice versa) to be added to Iomrall's number in a short time.

I think that sums up everything that I have planned until BFB gets rolling, but a suitably inspiring kingdom event might add something.


So here's how all that stuff played out.

> The Chaos Diamond turned out to contain the severed memory of a lillend named Parodia; some tricky scrying using the gem as a focus found her body in a sort of stasis, crucified to a tree in Thousandbreaths. I'm not 100% sure yet what she's doing there or who specifically is behind it (either Nyrissa, Ilthuliak, or TWM; leaning more toward Ilthuliak right now admittedly). She's currently in Lilith's possession, as she's the only one besides Errol who can use the chaos-aligned item without penalty, and Errol already has one sentient item to deal with.

> Annexing Varnhold went remarkably smoothly. Elegy and Lilith made the situation very clear with Miriam Varn and Narthropple - the only two remaining councilors of Varnhold - of what Iomrall expected of their new vassals and how things would be dealt with between them and the Nomienn. Then everyone but Lilith hopped out to visit the Fenrin, taking the two ex-councilors with them, and negotiated a truce between the two. Xamanthe (changed to a Fenrin Witch with a Divination specialty in my game; Krojun took her original role of hotheaded tribe champion and barbarian war hero) was selected to serve as the viceroy to the vassal state for the Council. Meanwhile Lilith took Filchergrip Jane and the Thornjacks and led them into the southern parts of the Tors de Levinies to claim some new territory for themselves, ushering them out of Varnhold before conflicts could start again. This also reminded her that the Culchek Spriggans are running around somewhere in Southern Iomrall and the party needs to go track them down before they start trouble again.

> The party got the response from Vanguard Lord Alvaris and everything went nuts. Elegy of course had zero interest in getting married, and not just because of the species incompatibility, but also clearly recognized that refusing the marriage would be taken as an insult against Ulrich and might start the very conflict they'd been trying to avoid. Thankfully she was quick to learn about Casimir's relationship with his bodyguard and his own disinterest in having another relationship with Elegy, so they basically just signed the paperwork, altered their vows so they didn't promise anything to each other that they had no intention of holding up (which is very important - Elegy's Oracle Curse is Legalistic, and she's almost to the level where if someone breaks their word to her, THEY start taking the Legalistic penalties as well), and pretty much just carried on with how things were before.

There was a massive wedding though, Ledipte in her role as court clothier got to make an enormous amount of wedding attires (basically the little fey's dream come true), and almost every friendly or allied NPC of any importance was invited to make an appearance at the gathering. The Council was also very clear to send invitations to all three of the Courts of FaeReie - knowing that if they failed to invite any one of the group they ran the very real risk of the offended party going Maleficent on everybody. Cernunnos actually came to the gathering himself to represent the Wyld Court, both Mab and Lady Desdemona came for Winter, and Summer sent Lady Cordelia, who immediately got on the bad side of everybody in the party.

> Elegy did some delving into her family history and learned that prior to her grandfather getting pissed at the fey and running off and starting a tiny branch of the clan that had nothing to do with them, most of the Medvyeds through history had had strong connections to the courts, including no less than 5 pledging themselves as Le'Fay (two to the Wyld court, two to Winter, and one - the first Le'Fay, Morgan herself, yes was a distant ancestor of Elegy - to Summer). She inquired of this to the Greymaulkin, the herald and trickster of Winter, and he introduced her to one of her ancestors: Magda of the Hounds, once a human (and later Werewolf) Le'Fay of Winter, and now a Daoine Sidhe (and still a Werewolf) in Winter's service, having chosen immortality among the Fey rather than to succumb to death as a human at the end of her life. Magda deemed herself indebted as kin to Elegy to inform her of things she should have been educated as a child by her clan and shared a great deal of historical, ancestral, and magical information with Elegy basically for free (as a one-time deal of necessary education of a younger clansman, a debt she recognized herself as needing to fill since Elegy's own father had failed to oblige, himself being raised to despise the fey and knowing little of them thanks to his own father's antipathy). She also made an appearance at the wedding.

On that note, Elegy did one more thing of great cunning - having seen how much Lilith got out of Puck in exchange for "a maiden's first kiss" (Puck, not knowing that in Lilith's long dhampir life she'd never taken any lovers, had initiated her transformation with a kiss; when Lilith later revealed it was her first, Puck was understandably flabbergasted and forced to acquiesce that he indeed owed Lilith yet another debt for it), she went straight to Mab to offer it before she was forced to give it up for essentially no profit at her upcoming wedding. Mab agreed and took the kiss herself, after placing a handful of limitations on the currently-undecided favor Elegy would ask of her in the future for it, preventing her from getting too much out of an otherwise-open-ended deal, including the right to outright reject requests she felt were of greater value than what Elegy had given.

> Dang but these guys are getting good at dealing with the Fey. Lilith, as per her excess debt with Puck, had made arrangements to recover Errol's memories of his prior life, which had been taken by Cordelia of Summer. Errol himself had made a deal with Mab for those very same memories. Cordelia, through deals unknown to the party, managed to make deals with both parties and gifted both Puck and Mab with half the memories in total. Puck, as per his agreement, delivered his directly to Lilith; Mab was going to deliver her half to Errol on the Winter Solstice when she sent her Cold Riders a second time to bear him off to Arctis Tor for the agreed-upon three months of winter service to her.

Instead, Lilith summoned Mab up, flattered her with a very-well-prepared hosting in her own home (the tree-ified Talonquake), and made a deal that was ten times more alluring to Queen Mab: she offered instead to have her own children, a brand new race of fey, spend those three months as guests of Winter, under Mab's protection and guidance. She desired this as she wanted her children to have the ability and right to choose their court of allegiance for themselves, despite her own oaths to Summer, and knew that if she didn't make some sort of arrangement like this with Mab that they would only ever be exposed to Summer and the Wyld and would not be properly educated and able to make an informed decision. Seeing the potential in introducing this new species in its first generation to her court, and the possibility in the distant future of generations upon generations of the leanai-dubh choosing of their own free will to come to Winter's side, she agreed to surrender one meager mage's memories and his debt to her to Lilith in exchange. Lilith then combined the memories' halves into a restored whole and presented it to Errol as a Midwinter Gift. We ended the last session with Errol opening his mind to those lost memories and cutting to white.

> The Greymaulkin delivered the requested Winter servitor to Iomrall: Traversini Regula Le'Fay, an Ael-Varan swordswoman and blade-mage (using the Battle Scion class). She was, for the time being, placed under the command of Ivan (AKA Puck or Oberon, depending on time) and put to work in the castle on whatever tasks he needed her for. The party's hoping she'll prove herself adept at one thing or another and they can find a better or more useful place to put her; in the meantime, though, this puts the representatives of both Summer and Winter somewhere they can keep an eye on each other, which reduces the need for the party to keep closer tabs on them personally.

Regula is unaware of Ivan's dual identity; she only knows he is connected to Summer somehow, and theorizes he is simply some bizarre sort of fellow Le'Fay.


We'll be starting BFB proper this Thursday, with Garuum the Boggard hastily reporting to the leaders and military in Tatzylford of an impending Boggard attack from the Slough to the west. Investigating that will lead the PCs to the current "ruler" of the frogmen - the Rusalka Ngara, a servant of Ilthuliak and ally of Lady Marae in Drelev; a few captive Drelevians will also be able to inform the Iomrallans of Duke Drelev's involvement in the situation, pointing them toward their hostile neighbor. Couple this with Elegy's uncle Rupert, a powerful Conjurer who has been working with Drelev for the past few years in his situation with the Talon Lords, going suddenly silent a few months prior to the attack, and the PCs will have more than sufficient reason to investigate Drelev in person.

Yeah, I think these Faerie courts are going to stop making new deals with these PCs soon. They're clearly getting too good at haggling and bargaining for it to be fun much longer.

Also, a wedding where no one dies? Scandalous! Looking forward to seeing more of Casimir, in any case. Seems to have it together for a 'dilettante.'

Why a liliend is in Thousandbreaths...well, Liliends are like celestial muses with a great love of nature. This could've been a favored grove of hers, either before or after it was assimilated into Thousandbreaths, or she could've just gotten lost inside when she visited the area around the entrance to Thousandbreaths.

Have I got a deal for you!:
She could even have been summoned expressly for this. Likely, her imprisonment is either a means of keeping a section of Thousandbreaths anchored, or a sacrifice for greater power. Or both. Why else would the memory be siphoned off from the rest(Into a jewel not unlike Errol's memories, no less!)? Pay for your infusion of fey power in just four easy installments!

Yeah, the anchor idea and siphoning power off her was what I was thinking. TWM likes twisting celestials to his bidding, as well, so there's that to mess with also.

In other news....

So my original plan for the beginning of BFB just got thrown completely off the rails.

Elegy's uncle has been working in Drelev for years. At Elegy's wedding, about seven months before BFB started, she spoke with Engelidis from Shadrach regarding the rings of the jabberwock; Engelidis, being Nyrissa's daughter, immediately recognized the symbol, and Elegy did take note of the familiarity, despite it being quickly hidden and not pushing the issue afterward. Engelidis urged Elegy to inform people she trusted from the other colonies about the Queen of Forgotten Time and the threat she might pose; Elegy did so quickly, telling three people from Weuland (their magister, diplomat, and high priestess) and Rupert being the only person from Drelev who was both present and trustworthy.

Seven months later, Rupert stops contacting her. Attempts to scry on and send to him or his familiar fail. Divination basically tells Elegy that he's locked in a lead box.

Now, I certainly expected everyone to be worried and anxious. Rupert's a 15th-level Conjurer; the guy's no pushover. But I'd forgotten one teensy detail: the PCs have been to Fort Drelev before, passing through on their trips to the Rushlight in prior years. So rather than hiking across the landscape or marching through the Slough like I'd expected, and like the adventure expects because the PCs are supposed only be level 10 rather than 14 with 3 mythic tiers (though hey at least the gap is shortening!), they just sent their diplomat and spymistress to teleport there and look around.

So I had to quick-ad-lib and make some on-the-fly adjustments to my intended plans. Here's the short version of what's going on in Drelev.

Rupert didn't keep the secret about the Queen for long; it was of course never intended to be a secret, anyway, as he was supposed to be keeping an eye out for more signs of her activity and making sure Drelev was prepared for a potential attack. So eventually he did let his bosses in on the goings-on and warn them to keep their heads about them. Unfortunately one of his bosses (at least unofficially) is Marae Quintessa, who works for the Black Sisters, who work for both Cuorvhain the Conqueror and Ilthuliak, so long as the two dragons' goals are mutual (drive out the humanoids and reclaim this portion of the Northlands for the wilderness). And Ilthuliak works for Nyrissa, the Queen of Forgotten Time.

Drelev's a dangerous place. It's located right on the Slough, it's in the middle of a constant violent stalemate with the Talon Lords lizardfolk, and there's boggards, bandits, giants, and more in the general area just waiting to make a threat of themselves. So it's kind of assumed that people will go missing from time to time; when people disappear, it's presumed something in the wild got them. So Marae has been able to keep a strong alliance with the rusalka Ngara for several years by quietly kidnapping people - usually young human women - and sending them to the Slough for the rusalka to do something with. (I haven't decided what, though it might be as simple as eating them, or something more nefarious. Ngara also answers directly to Ilthuliak, though she's been fairly lazy about getting anything of value done, enjoying her time as "queen of the frogs" and pitting the boggard tribes against each other for kicks rather than looking for Briar or actively working to strengthen Ilthuliak's hold on the Slough in the dragon's absence.) It was a nice racket, until Rupert caught on, urged by the warning from Elegy to keep a closer eye out.

Well Marae wasn't having her plans interrupted now, when the Black Sisters were so close to unleashing a fully-reborn Armagk on Drelev and its neighbors. So she had Rupert taken when his guard was down and put in a lead-lined, dimensionally-anchored, heavily warded cell deep in Drelev's dungeons - the only one of its kind they could afford to build, and it put them in debt to do so. (One of many things that led to Drelev's current social and financial instability.) And while she was at it, she let the power go to her head. She ordered Drelev to lock up his wife too, just because she was getting tired of not having Drelev all to herself and having to endure Pavetta's presence; Hannis, ever the slavish one to his mistress, obeyed without question. With those two locked away, things changed dramatically in Drelev almost overnight. Guards who knew what was going on (though perhaps not why) but didn't have the guts to confront their duke about the situation up and left; Drelev was forced to recruit swamp bandits, highwaymen, and hill giants to fill their posts, and thus began the downward spiral of Drelev into the slum it is by the time the PCs arrive. Ngara keeps arriving as originally scheduled, on the night of every full moon, and leaving with one human woman; however, given the state of Drelev after night curfew time, there's no longer a need to do so in secret, as the streets are mostly empty, so a few people in town have caught on to the fact that this exchange goes on every full moon.

Now. The original plan was for two months after Rupert's disappearance, Garuum the Boggard would come screaming into Tatzylford, kicking up a racket and forcing the authorities there to come look into the situation; he would then reveal how he'd learned of an impending Boggard raid on the town, just in time for the PCs to rally their reserve armies and beat back the incoming force. They would then be prompted to investigate the boggard tribes in the Slough, eventually find or fight their way to Ngara, and free her latest captive - Kisandra Numesti - who would then urge them to investigate things in Drelev. But the reason for the switch was because Drelev would be running out of young women to offer, and Ngara would send the boggards to investigate and raid another town, Tatzylford, to get what she wanted (because either she just prefers the taste of young human women, or because that's what she needs for whatever nefarious magic she's doing, be it tied to the fey, the dragons, the harpy goddess, or something else). But the PCs jumping the gun two months early means they wouldn't have made the change yet.

So I rewound things a bit. Kisandra, or "Kris" as she's referred to in the journal, is still free - not yet captured by Drelev and Marae and offered to Ngara to get rid of her - and working alongside Satinder Mourne to destabilize things in Drelev. Mourne in my game is an Entomorph - a species of moth-like monstrous humanoids created by a symbiotic metamorphosis initiated by the sting of an entonyd, a scorpion/locust-like creature native to this part of the world. Mourne had been captured by Drelev in an earlier rebellion - the same one that initiated him adding the giants to his forces - and as punishment had left her out in the wilderness for the entonyds to mutate; thankfully Kisandra and other allies (most of which are gone or dead now) had found her and rescued her in time to save her mind if not her original body. (I also changed her class to Inquisitor because I like it better than the Rogue/Cleric multiclass, and made Kisandra a Magus with the Arcane Archer archetype rather than just a noncombatant damsel in distress.) I also gave them Munguk the Hill Giant from Chapter 2 as a lair-guard - I didn't have time to introduce him back in RRR, so I moved him to Drelev, and rewrote him as a reject from Drelev's original recruiting process who was then scooped up by Numesti and Mourne.

So what's likely to happen is flipping those two events. The PCs are about to storm Drelev, with Elegy emphasizing making Drelev and Marae's lives living hell through rude but not necessarily hostile actions (playing music very badly, being prissy noblefolk, and otherwise making annoyances of themselves in town) until Drelev throws the first punch, while Lilith teams back up with Kisandra, Satinder, and Munguk to go looking for Rupert and Pavetta. Eventually it probably will lead to a nasty showdown in the keep, Hannis dead or incapacitated, Pavetta demanding a divorce, Rupert pointing the PCs toward Ngara, and Marae only escaping to the Black Sisters by means of her contingency.

Ngara, cut off from her source of food/ritual victims/whatever she's doing with them by the PCs' actions, will now have double reason to focus her next raid on Tatzylford: not only does she need a new source of young women, she has a reason to have a grudge against the Iomrallans. So that bit will play out as originally planned, just later in the plot. And dealing with Ngara should be able to point them into looking for Marae, which will get them to the Black Sisters and Armagk.

Then once all that is done, the PCs will return back to Iomrall to find a large-scale slaughter on their hands, courtesy of the undead deadly dancer Dovan from Haven, inviting the party to come visit Ibrahim's castle and finish the conflict between him and Lilith once and for all. That should spur the PCs to seek out Maure Castle, where they'll meet the reanimated remnants of their old foes, finally face Ibrahim head-on, and end Chapter 4.

Then will be some time of peace before word finally gets back from Engelidis, who at this point will have finally decided that the PCs are going to be the only ones capable of putting a stop to her mother's plans. With some reluctance on Lord Havelock's part, she'll invite them to Shadrach, where she plans to reveal her connections to Nyrissa, the rings, and Briar... but before the PCs will be able to do anything about it, Cuorvhain the Conqueror will decide he's had enough of these pitiful humanoids in his lands and will arrive with his forces en masse, initiating the War of the River Kings.

Seems like you've adapted pretty well to the surprise. You've got a working plan, and most of the original 'big' events of BFB are still intact.

I suppose one thing that bugs me most, looking at this, is why Marae and Ngara have this particular arrangement in the first place. It looks as though it is more of an inconvenience for both than anything. Rusalkas tend to prefer a core group of strong thralls to act as enforcers and guardians, mostly, and they look to whole communities for adulation and tribute, which Ngara seems to be getting from the Boggards. As for Marae, if she needs to disappear someone, I'm sure she doesn't need to send them to go "sleeping with the fishes." Perhaps they are simply acting on the behalf of their patrons, and you can look to their cooperation for reasons why they'd gather more young women.

Here we go again:
Maybe Ilthuliak sacrifices the thing these women love the most to help fuel the Stolen-Lands-in-a-bottle ritual or her own transformation, and the Irshyan cult recruits the women after? I imagine they'd certainly be full of anger and envy afterwards.

But then, that's just how I'd go about it. I'm sure you can think of something that works for you and your setting if that doesn't work out for you.

That makes pretty good sense to me. Thanks for the suggestion! =)

Andrea1 wrote:

Something I have been wondering about is if you do anything on the Fey/Human hindsets, especially now that a number of the party is fey. Quite often the Fey do things that would be considered insaner/callous/etc by humans but is perfectly in line with Fey thought.

Forexample, perhaps Nyrissa's stealing of the River Kingdoms is viewed as perfectly within her rights to the First Kingdom and they start hinting to the PCs to just 'Roll with it'

'After a couple of centuries, she'll forget about you and we'll just trade her something for the kingdoms and plop them right back.'

Now that this is spoilered over in the journal, and now that I'm not busy with other things, I'll actually take the time to answer here =)

The big issue in the courts with Nyrissa's plan is less if she does or does not have the rights to nab the Stolen Lands from a pack of mortals who happen to have some lesser-fey friends (even if one of them is technically a brand-new Firstborn) and more the fact that that bit of land she wants to nab is also wanted by... well, everybody else.

As mentioned in earlier posts, in addition to her Love being taken and used to forge Briar, she lost her Nobility to her sentence when judged by Titania and Cordelia; unlike Briar, it wasn't formed into a solid object that could be (relatively) easily moved about, but rather scattered to the winds carelessly, and most of it settled into the terrain around the Stolen Lands. This has seeded the region for millennia with fey magic, which has bloomed, grown, and spread like the flora and fauna also growing in the area. That's the main reason the Stolen Lands in my setting is so fey-heavy, the reason the borders between the Material and FaeReie are so thin, and the reason the place has everyone's attention.

Most of it's subliminal. Despite the Northlands being much, much bigger than the Stolen Lands, and some of the terrain being less harsh and/or less already-occupied, colonists from the south and east have focused on this bit of territory to fight over, attempt to colonize, and otherwise drawn their attention to over all others. That's one of the side effects of the Nobility of the land, calling out for someone worthy to rule it - and while it doesn't always get that, and in fact never has before now (unless you consider the prior ruler of pretty much all of this stretch of land, Ilthuliak, as worthy of the calling), there area countless people who have "heard the call" and found ways or excuses to head west and seek fortune, fame, glory, and conquest in the Stolen Lands. It's just that before now, they all failed - and even of those remaining, two of the five colonies also failed (Varnhold) or are failing (Drelev).

Shadrach was successful on its own after significant efforts, but Havelock also got help by making a deal with Nyrissa and getting her daughter Engelidis as his partner; he's only getting out of that by he and his companions convincing Engelidis to throw her lot in with the mortals and betray Nyrissa. (Which, they don't believe Nyrissa knows, but she has spies in Shadrach's courts and has indeed learned; the replacement plot of WOTRK will be focusing on the return of Cuorvhain the Conqueror, whose decision to finally come down and remove the invading humanoids from his Northlands was somewhat urged on by Nyrissa herself, starting with Shadrach as vengeance for her daughter's and Havelock's treason.)

Iomrall's been successful due to luck, good alliances, and a swiftly-growing-cannier leadership who is becoming very savvy of their situation and quick to adapt accordingly. Their mistakes have been relatively minor and they're quick to correct and quicker to learn from them.

Weuland is in about the same boat as Iomrall. They're sort of a "hero of another story" situation off to the side.

Anyway, I kind of drifted off the question there. No, there's no suggestion forthcoming from either Court to just let Nyrissa do her thing then wait til she forgets about the annoying mortals, because nobody else wants a low-ranking Upstart to nab a large chunk of fey power inherent in the land before they can. Mab and Cordelia primarily are very interested in getting their claws into much of the Stolen Lands as they can, because they want to claim that power for their Court... and in a slightly more focused manner, for themselves. Of the two, Mab has the better plan - she's thinking far more long-term, getting Iomrall on her radar and working her way into alliances and agreements with its leadership. It helps that Desdemona is actively looking to mend some of Mab's earlier conflicts with Elegy, and that Lilith patched over the situation with Errol to Mab's satisfaction. Winter has a strong foot in the door in Iomrall, bolstered by Elegy's interactions with both queens and with Lilith offering the opportunity for her children to become Winter-bound if they so choose.

Cordelia is too short-sighted, spiteful, and petty to make these acquiescences, and the entire party already hates her, so she's pretty much out of luck. She has nothing she can offer the party, none of them want to deal with her, and she isn't working closely in tandem with Titania the way Mab and Desdemona are working together. In fact, Titania and Cordelia are actually working at cross-purposes, though Titania has kept this hidden from her daughter by remaining mostly uninvolved.

Titania is after something completely different: she doesn't care about the Stolen Lands as much as the rest. Titania wants Nyrissa back in the Summer Court proper. Nyrissa, in her exile, has become very, very powerful, enough to where she is starting to become a threat to the Courts, though at this point not to the queens themselves. And the loss of her Love has twisted her severely, turning her against her own. The Lost Court has been involved in things going on in the Stolen Lands too, and Titania fears that if they convinced a renegade as powerful as Nyrissa - who already has a foothold in the Summerlands with Thousandbreath - to swear herself to the Lost, the shadow-fey would have an easy door back into FaeReie and it would be the Great Fey War all over again.

Titania believes if Nyrissa can be reunited with Briar, a process that will inevitably require her death, she can be rehabilitated back into Summer after she is reborn. Hence her agreement with Lilith, and some comments Puck has made on the subject - she is to make sure Briar is kept safe and that it makes it to the confrontation with Nyrissa in one piece (and preferably awake). If she can add this powerful ally back to her court, the power inherent in the Stolen Lands is an acceptable loss - especially if it's lost to mortal control rather than to Winter or the Lost Court.

Heck, seeing to Nyrissa's rehabilitation might actually be Lilith's first major job as a full-time member of the Summer Court, after Kingmaker ends and she leaves Iomrall behind.

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Suggestion for Orthos to make things more interesting in a fight

Since you have a number of fey characters playing, consider Cold Iron dust being spread around. I was thinking that having to trudge through clouds of the stuff poofing around them would make Fey very uncomfortable/nauseaous. Cold iron doorknobs to burn hands, CI nails in bent back wooden board/poles CI buttons being slingstoned at them. Instead of sowing the fields with salt, put cold iron in them and CI spikes in trees to poison dryads.

My reaction

So I can't lie, I love your ideas, and they were in line with what I was struggling to come up with on my own, so I MAY be borrowing them for my own campaign...

But I'm also thinking I would like to make it Mythic as well, and I thought it would be interesting if their mythic ascension (the bear at the temple) could somehow tie in with the Summer/Winter/Neutral Courts of the Fey.

Do you have any thoughts on this?

Glad you like!

My group is using Mythic, actually, though it didn't kick in until much later - they picked up their first tier after defeating Mythic Hargulka and the Nyrissa-powered Talonquake.

Tying the mythic power more strongly with the three courts, however, could be done fairly easily. There's the basic method, a representative of each court offering the PC(s) the mythic empowerment. Perhaps seeing them defeat the bear proves they have a chance to be useful pawns in the Stolen Lands, and the courts choose that time to make a move. This also has the potential fun of having each PC's mythic power coming from a different source, and the different courts having different things they want out of their new beneficiaries.

Another that could work is taking the Dire Bear's curse as the source of their mythic energy. The best method, IMO, for changing that would be having the curse come from someone in one of the courts, rather than Erastil. Instead of returning to its source, the mythic power leaves the dying bear and instead bonds to the PCs. This could of course result in the original curse-giver coming to the PCs and demanding that for taking their power they are now indebted to the fey.

I have N behind the bear's curse (in order to drive away Erastil's influence and keep the stolen lands untamed). When the PC's defeated it, Erastil redirected that mojo into the them rather than let it return to N. This has given N a link to the PC's (for the purposes of scrying, weakness to spells, etc), and may require them to give up their power in the big finale in order to actually defeat N.

We just ran through it last night. I ended up having N behind the bear's curse as well. I'd kept track of the choices each character was making throughout the beginning which came in handy.

After they defeated the bear, and the entire party had drunk from the fountain, the cg Cleric of Calistria played into my hands by saying "I'm going to rest here by the fountain for a bit." She rolled a will save, and "fell blissfully asleep". Everyone else thought they should roll as well, and came up with 7, 8, and 4. :D Brilliant.

I'd had no intention of them having to do this, the original will save was just to throw her off base, but this was just too perfect to not use.

They all "awoke in land that is not your own, though you can't quite place why." It was basically a dreamscape/demense. Depending on the choices of the characters they were approached by a likeness of either Queen summer or Lady Winter. Two of them should have been approached by a neutral entity, but I couldn't think of anyone. My bad :-/

The likeness told them in a dreamy, ethereal voice they had overcome a powerful foe, but there were worse yet to come. Their assistance in helping to vanquish these common enemies would be heartily awarded.

After this, they looked around and saw they were dream sharing and were each carrying on the same sort of conversation with the same, or similar entities. Through a q&a session that was heavily laced with rhyme and riddle and words unspoken on the part of they Fey, they learned that each could choose a different side if they wished, though the potential allegiance and protection of one side would not apply to those who were allied with the other. Further, remaining neutral was an option as well, but would mean no guarantees of protection from any side.

In the end, two chose Summer and two chose Winter. They awoke to feel the essence of either cold or warmth flowing through their entire bodies and then their very blood seemed made of liquid "ice/fire". Thus the onslaught of their Mythic power.

The best part is, the party members seem to think there is the potential to reap huge rewards from the fey, perhaps even eternal life... But no bargains were made. The gift of Mythic Power was given, and received, with no guarantee of retention after the "problem" is dealt with. And no specific rewards or gifts were guranteed on behalf of either court beyond vague "protections".

All in all I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. They players are happy knowing they have a specific source of their mythic power, and that is not some deity they don't have allegiances to. I'm happy to have been able to include a stronger presence of the Fey, and even more pleased to have been able to do they fey courts proper justice in both circle-speak and vagueries.

Depending on the choices of the characters they were approached by a likeness of either Queen summer or Lady Winter. Two of them should have been approached by a neutral entity, but I couldn't think of anyone.

The neutral (or perhaps more accurately, unaligned) entity I usually go with is the Lord of the Wyld Hunt. For possible future reference =)

All looks and sounds well-done. Best of luck!

Lantern Lodge

I'm a little surprised this hasn't been asked before in this forum (Kingmaker) with the fey thing going on, but have you played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning? I only bring this up because feel of the environment, and not any plot concerns.

I have not! Haven't even heard of it, actually. What system is it for?

Lantern Lodge

Xbox 360 and Windows.and PS 3. Its about two years old at this point, but basically you are fighting off raids of corrupted winter fae in the Faelands as someone from a Norse inspired mortal races. They basically wanted to set God of War style combat in an Elder Scrolls like setting. RA Salvatore came up with the world, and Todd McFarlane worked on the art direction. Might be worth stealing from a little.

I'll have a look into it =) Thanks!

So as Chapter Four nears to a close, I'm starting to look in more detail at what I plan to do with Chapter Five... because as written, and with all the changes I've made, Havelock and Engelidis have almost zero reasons to initiate hostilities with Iomrall. Which is fine, as Havelock wasn't meant to be the villain of this chapter - Cuorvhain the Conqueror is.

I think I've found the perfect place to steal a replacement plot from - Red Hand of Doom. It will require a severe scaling-up, but replacing the villainous half-dragon general's devotion to Tiamat with a devotion to his draconic father instead and swapping in a clash with Cuorvhain himself in place of the original climactic ending boss should be sufficient, and much of the plot - from a quick glance - should still work with minor tweaking.

That said, some parts of War of the River Kings will remain. There's some intrigue going on amidst Havelock's own court - at least two of his councilors are not as loyal as they seem, and thanks to being let in on Havelock's secret, they're almost ready to make a move for their own. All they need is sufficient distraction... something perhaps like a draconic army swooping down from the mountains...?

That's a great idea! The module presents a framework that could apply to almost any 'war-between-two nations' scenario, and I can see some geographically similar points between the Elsir Vale and the map of Pitax Book 5 provides, so fitting the areas together won't be too hard. Plus, frankly, I love the Spawn, especially the Godslayer. I do hope the Rushlight tourney part of Book 5 stays, however.

Unfortunately, RHOD isn't perfect. There's one bit in particular that really doesn't work in the module as written:

RHOD Spoilers!:
The whole last act tends to feel tacked on, especially after the big siege, and doubly so since you basically just kicked the collective asses of the Red Hand. The 'a new, more invincible army is being summoned' thing just cheapens the PC's accomplishments up to that point, makes the main villain(in this case Cuorvhain)look detached from his own plot if not straight-up incompetent, and reeks of an a$$-pull to boot.

In this case, here's the solution I'd recommend: you have two nations being directly threatened by the march of the Red Hand here, Weuland and Shadrach. Have two columns set out and have both columns hit a nation's center of government. Whichever column the PCs engage, the other razes a nation to the ground, and the remnants of both armies fall back to re-group with a force Cuorvhain's held back so he can steam-roll the places he's softened up. This re-group gives the PCs the time to strike Cuorvhain in his command post, before the forces can rally and march.

That's how I'd handle it, anyway. It's up to you how you want to play it.

Minor idea - while I can hazard a guess who the 'untrustworthy' members of Havelock's cabinet are, here's some food for thought:

More RHOD spoilers!:
Annamede Belavarah, the Shadrach bard from your previous Rushlight, could be 'Miha Serani' in disguise. Maybe she can persuade certain people to betray their current loyalties, and soften up Abednego for an invasion or siege in doing so?

Lastly, a question.

Seriously? Another Spoiler Tag?:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is Cuorvhain going to become your Kazavon, and Briar your Serithial?

Talking Skull wrote:
That's a great idea! The module presents a framework that could apply to almost any 'war-between-two nations' scenario, and I can see some geographically similar points between the Elsir Vale and the map of Pitax Book 5 provides, so fitting the areas together won't be too hard. Plus, frankly, I love the Spawn, especially the Godslayer. I do hope the Rushlight tourney part of Book 5 stays, however.

There'll be another Rushlight, yes. The players actually got to go to their first one back between chapters 2 and 3, and have gone every year since, though some of them (looking at you Elegy) are going primarily as spectators and diplomats, rather than participants.


Unfortunately, RHOD isn't perfect. There's one bit in particular that really doesn't work in the module as written:

** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, I noticed that. Rather than the "invincible army" thing, I was thinking of moving Azarr Kul himself down into the siege event, and after taking him out, the players would have the opportunity to head to the Red Hand's lair to challenge Cuorvhain directly. I haven't quite worked the kinks out completely yet, obviously.

I do like threatening the two separate countries equivalently and making the players have to choose who to aid. It'll probably be Weuland - they've always been closer with them, and they have a mutual defense treaty that Weuland has answered at least once, coming to assist them with the Talon Lords attacking Drelev/Merfyn, so it'll very likely be obvious that they'll return the favor for them before jumping to Shadrach's aid.

One thing I DO want is the actual battle with Cuorvhain to be a dragon-riding event featuring some assistance from Eranex and some other friendly dragons in the area, provided the players can successfully negotiate for such direct aid. Thinking the gold dragon Garaudhilyx living to the south just beyond Weuland might have some children of his own he could call in a favor on. But that's because I've always wanted to do a big dragon-riding battle someday. =)


Minor idea - while I can hazard a guess who the 'untrustworthy' members of Havelock's cabinet are, here's some food for thought:

** spoiler omitted **

I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good one, stolen.

I'm curious who you suspect, because I did set up a couple of red herrings, but I'll go ahead and reveal =)

The actual traitors are Avinash Jurrg and Nakamura Shinobu, Shadrach's General and Marshall respectively. Jurrg is, as in the book, an Oni; I'm debating between making him a nastier breed of such or just giving him more class levels. Shinobu, on the other hand, is the renegade father of Iomrall's general Takeshi, who the samurai came to the mainland and got lost in the Stolen Lands pursuing in the first place.

Jurrg, like most Oni, wants power and authority and doesn't want to work excessively hard for it. Being General sated him for a while, but Havelock runs a pretty tight ship so he hasn't been able to indulge his "order everyone about and thrash anyone who doesn't immediately obey" urges as much as he'd like, and he's started to chafe on the restrictions. When Shinobu let him in on his plans, he was all too eager to turn the tables on his current master.

Shinobu is a consummate traitor, a fact he's kept well hidden from Havelock thus far. He left Senkaku in the first place after betraying his lord to an enemy in combat, taking his reward and escaping before his "new" lord could determine him too much of a liability and have him removed before he could be betrayed in turn; that treason is the reason Takeshi went Ronin, breaking their lord's command not to pursue in order to get the justice/vengeance he felt he deserved. Shinobu drifted from group to group, mostly bandits and brigands and vagabonds, and either abandoned (usually after robbing blind) or betrayed each as convenienced him. He might have been able to kick the habit in Shadrach... if the prolonged silence from Havelock and her daughter Engelidis had not prompted Nyrissa to get suspicious and acquire an inside man. She managed to learn of Shinobu's history through her spies and decided he would be the perfect pawn, had him abducted away to Thousandbreaths, wined and dined him in her nymphy way, and sent him back with a jabberwock ring (which he is wise enough to keep out of Havelock's sight, knowing the magus will recognize it immediately) and the seeds of another betrayal in mind.

More on Shinobu here if you want/need the refresher course, though the details are a little old and out-of-date, it does explain his origins and the source of his alias.


No, actually we've worked out something quite different on that.

Crimson Throne spoilers:
Our Kazavon is actually going to be Ilthuliak. Unless the players severely bomb the final chapter of Kingmaker, she/her corpse will be dumped back on the Material when Thousandbreaths gets forced there; eventually some genius decides "hey free dragon bones!" and harvests her remains for something. Among those treasures will be one of her skulls (remember my Ilthuliak is a Cairn Linnorm/Black Dragon hybrid), which will eventually make its way into Iomrall's castle.

Somewhere centuries down the line, a powerful necromancer - possibly the vampire Ibrahim himself - attacks Iomrall, and the necromantic attack culminates in turning the castle and surrounding portions of the city into the warped necro-fortress of Scarwall. The king at the time is a paladin (whose name I have written down somewhere but can't look up at the moment) wielding Serithial, which is in turn lost in the attack along with the king himself, sacrificing himself to fend off the hordes while the city's citizens flee north.

By the time of Crimson Throne, Scarwall will have swallowed all of the city around the Tuskwater Lake. North of that will be a blockade that separates Scarwall from the city itself, and north of that the city will have been rebuilt and expanded, including the creation of a new castle, where Ileosa will eventually reside and rule.

In the Scarwall attack, several treasures would have been grabbed and retrieved from the castle's vaults by dedicated stewards or thieves taking advantage of the chaos. One of those would be Ilthuliak's skull; the strong necromantic magic in the area would be enough to rouse the dragon's ancient spirit, perhaps dispelling any rest eternal or similar spells the party puts on her corpse. At the time of Scarwall's creation, her spirit's too weak to do more than send out some minor psychic vibes; just enough to convince some looter to grab the dragon skull - or, since it's too big, just pull out some of its fangs - instead of some other treasure. The treasures are eventually retrieved, recovered, re-bought, or otherwise make their way to the new castle's vault... where Ilthuliak waits and bides her time, sending out psychic emanations to sensitive minds until Ileosa makes contact with her.

Orthos wrote:

I'm curious who you suspect, because I did set up a couple of red herrings, but I'll go ahead and reveal =)

The actual traitors are Avinash Jurrg and Nakamura Shinobu, Shadrach's General and Marshall respectively. Jurrg is, as in the book, an Oni; I'm debating between making him a nastier breed of such or just giving him more class levels. Shinobu, on the other hand, is the renegade father of Iomrall's general Takeshi, who the samurai came to the mainland and got lost in the Stolen Lands pursuing in the first place.

Well, d@mn. I fell for one red herring; Jurrg, I'd suspected, being an ogre magi, but he wasn't my first choice. Gaetane was my number one pick, since he'd been pretty unreliable in the source material, and figured he'd be easy to bribe and turn, not to mention his similarities with Skather, mechanically(archer assassin) and narratively(assassinating enemy leader). Shinobu wasn't even on my radar at all.

On the other hand, that's a really cool backstory for a villain, and it sounds like the perfect lead-up to the Betrayer template!

Orthos wrote:
**spoiler omitted due to overload of awesome**

Somehow, that is even better than what I had imagined. Nice work!

Hah! Yes, Gaetane and Alasen were the red herrings, especially once the PCs figure out they're lycanthropes (they haven't yet, though Elegy got a strong hint from her dweomerwolf Rubata that Alasen smelled strongly like wildcats - I gave her a decent-sized list of explanations, including being a ranger/druid with a wildcat companion or who frequently/recently wildshaped into one, being a lycanthrope, visiting/working in a zoo or preserve, and some other options). Gaetane's sketchy as hell but loyal as Shadrach's assassin, and Alasen's a trustworthy Warden. But I definitely wanted the party to think otherwise, and still do - the two of them will be doing some sneaking off during various scenes, actually to investigate things without blowing their lycanthropy into public knowledge and to do the sneaky things sneaky characters do, but I expect Lilith at least will still ace the Stealth vs. Perception checks and will get all suspicious and convince the party they're up to something.

... also major derp moment. Takeshi is Iomrall's Warden, Jaekah is Iomrall's General.

Talking Skull wrote:
Orthos wrote:
**spoiler omitted due to overload of awesome**
Somehow, that is even better than what I had imagined. Nice work!

Yeah, we're really looking forward to it =) It kind of makes me impatient to get to it, since not only do we have the last 2 chapters and change of Kingmaker still to go, but all of Savage Tide after that. On the other hand, I really really want to run Savage Tide, and I think the players will appreciate getting away from Iomrall (and Wachara in general) for a couple years before diving back in for Crimson Throne.

There's a LOT about CT I'm really looking forward to. My plans for amping up Gaedren Lamm to be a respectable opponent, a recurring Joker-and-Harley Rolth and Jolistina team inspired by Mikaze, of course Laori, the plague, my replacement chapter for History in Ashes, Scarwall, my ultimate plans for the final Ileosa showdown(s)... I could probably ramble on about these for quite some time, and it's still years down the road =) Also wrong forum ;)

I will likely be finishing Armagk's Tomb this coming Thursday, after which point - due to various out-of-game issues, mostly burnout - Errol and Jaekah's players will be withdrawing from the campaign for a time. We're hoping to welcome in a new fourth party member, but until I know if the player can make it and what their character will be if they can, I'm rather strapped for ideas about how to introduce them. There's the obvious ones - a citizen of one of the Stolen Lands colonies who got wrapped up in another of Nyrissa's schemes elsewhere in the region, a fellow wanderer with a reason to go after Ibrahim as the party'll be headed that way this (in game) coming winter, an expatriate from the Northlands if the player's race is sufficiently monstrous, or something else, just depending on what the player gives me to work with.

The main question that I'm trying to mull over at this point is what to do about Red Right Hand. Its original purpose in the plot was to drag Errol to a confrontation with Briar's wielder, at which point in the combat both swords would shatter, but Red would reform as Briar itself, having "consumed" its rival to become it and placing the weapon firmly in the party's control. However, chances are Errol will be absent from the front lines when Briar makes its appearance (it's currently being used as Lord Archmage Havelock's Black Blade, obviously, concealed in a lead scabbard).

At the moment, since Errol will be regulated to the role of NPC for at least the next chapter, the obvious answer is to write Red off to another one of the party members - they all but bluntly know that Red's desired rival is Briar, so they know it won't be satisfied to be kept on Errol's mantle while he takes some time off to go home and be a family man. (Also let's keep the Chaotic Evil bloodthirsty weapon away from young children and wayward students, shall we?) I imagine it'll probably end up in Elegy's hands, and minus the utterly incompatible alignments she's the most prone to keeping the sword in line. (This is of course assuming the new player doesn't play a Magus. If so, I can just pass Red to him.) Then that particular bit of Chapter 5 can play out as normal.

As for what "play out as normal" is in this context: sometime during the next chapter Havelock and Engelidis are going to be forced to lay their cards completely on the table. (Possibly after the Red Hand razes Abednego, since I'm 99% sure I'm going to go with "hey you only have time to save one of these two countries and I know you're super friendly buddies with Weuland".) Among these will be revealing they have had Briar all along, and explaining how they got it. (This will also lead the PCs to The Gardener, eventually, which will at long last suffice to complete Elegy's debt to Mab - finding the thief who stole Briar from Evindra in the first place. That Gaetane stole the sword from The Gardener and took it to Havelock afterward is immaterial to her.) This will put the inactive Briar in the party's hands for Chapter 5; it'll also be what prompts Shinobu to at last make his move, and he and Jurrg will probably look for an opportune moment amidst the chaos caused by Cuorvhain and the Red Hand to pounce on the party to attempt to seize the sword.

Again barring the option that the new guy decides to play a Magus, I imagine Briar will end up in Takeshi's hands, as I'm fairly certain he'll be the only front-line fighter now that Jaekah is stepping out. For the same reason I imagine - if they don't just outright destroy it for fear of Takeshi rolling a 1 on a Will Save at the wrong time - he'll also be wielding Ovinrbaane. THAT could get interesting.

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