Useplanb's RotRL Game - Player Journals Included

Rise of the Runelords

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Not my best day!

After napping and swapping stories of the days events it was clear we had the better of the duties. It seemed they all came back battered in some form or another and the worst was that Uther had been blinded. Apparently the farmer reported a tussle in his barn which had the same foul odor as was noticed at the sawmill, and that a fellow named Graste had been sent for observation and care at the sanitorum. Well long story short, they found a necromancer plying his trade in residency and killed everyone/everything save the sanitorum staff on duty. It seems the necromancer had both bribed and intimidated his way into the home, providing the coin to keep it operating. We shall have to see about options for alternate funding of the sanitorums need. As planned I donned my armor, mask, and scarf for a night patrol. Once on the street I made my first check on Master Vosk singing a local upbeat song in a normal voice giving him plenty of warning as I approached. Only after taking my leave did I don the mask and head for the deepest shadows in town. Waiting for lurkers, I moved periodically through town to the dark places to keep vigil for the good people of Sandpoint. Most of the night went by without incident and I returned to the Rusty Dragon Inn two bells before sunrise for a warm up by the fire, and quietly sneaking to my room to wake hopefully around mid-morning.

Waking form a night-fright in a state of heavy breathing and sweat, I scrambled from the bed and to the corner of my room closest to the bed with my blanket and dagger until I could focus my sight in the bright daylight coming through open shutters. All I could remember of the dream was Barus’ face when he was bitten by the Sin spawn, and the attack under the stairs by the same upon me. After some attempts at relaxing my mood, I occupied myself with tending to my raft of otters. Wouldn’t you know it, as I began to relax an older gentleman skittered across the bridge rambling frightfully about scarecrows looking back to see if he was being followed as he ran into town. (SIGH!) So I went up to the road and waited for a while to see if any-one-thing followed. Nothing!?! I returned to the Red Dragon Inn and informed the assembled troupe of the event I witnessed and potential of a new act in the drama.

Not but the time it took for me to dress for the imminent calling, and to collect the quickest of breakfast of boiled eggs, honey porridge and corn muffins with preserves did Sheriff Hemlocks guard arrive. Scooping the last bit of porridge in with a gulp of buttermilk, dipping a muffin in the jam, holding it in my teeth and grabbing an egg, I trotted out behind the troupe on their way to the garrison. There we found the old man “Grump” in a fitful state. Bantering of scarecrows attacking and demanding action from the Sheriff. I took his hand and tried to comfort and console him. The essence of libations still lingered upon his breath. He seemed to enhance his calm briefly to explain that the farmers south and east of town had come to grow tired of attacks by scarecrows from the Hambly Farm and decided to take matters in their own hands and deal with the menace themselves. Grump ended his tale by saying all were killed and that the scarecrows even ate the dogs. Admittedly, my first thought was, “Where were they a couple of weeks ago, we would have gladly kept them in a steady diet of dogs!” I think my distraction from his tale was noticed and Grump returned to his fitful state with the Sheriff and his guards. Removing Grump to the holding area the Sheriff turned to us and asked for our help investigating the claims Grump had made. My first thought was…Hmm!?! Untold numbers of man eating scarecrows? NO! Alas and alack, the troupe decided otherwise.

It was explained to the troupe that farmer Hambly was a known miser who would deny his family basic necessities for reasons known only to him. A hard man not unlike Ven. This along with the Harker incident is fearsome portent for the folk of Sandpoint as they will not bare such things lightly. Sooner or later all the suspicious activity will come to light whether through rumor or truth after the fact and they will react badly.

Any way we head to the Hambly farm, along the way we happen upon a farmer and his clan packing up to move into Sandpoint after witnessing a person snatched from the road never to be seen again, by a scarecrow, before his eyes. Xandu provided them a small stipend and we took our leave. Again, this is compounding into something really, really bad! As we travelled further, and closer, I felt a building powerful sense of foreboding. As we came upon the Hambly farm I was awash with discomfort. From the hill overlooking the farm it was apparent the field was strewn with scarecrows. The corn stood three times my height and I could make out only those scarecrows close to the road as we moved onto the farm. I immediately had the urge to set the corn ablaze and watch from afar, but resisted and continued into the maze…err…labyrinth. At the very least I needed warning. More than the corn was affording. And finding no solace in the leisurely stroll we conducted as we marched the path between the fields, I decided to provide myself with the sense of security and warning I required. Knocking arrow after arrow I launched at successive scarecrows as we approached hoping to antagonize a reaction before we were abreast of them. One leapt from its perch and attacked Rikert as I attempted poorly to climb upon his horse. Terrified of being mauled and savagely consumed alive, I stood bewildered as yet another of our troupe threatened violence upon a troupe mate!?!? Her eyes bathed in the fire she had used to help dispatch the first scarecrow, Annie now poised to set the western field ablaze. It comforted me! But after Lynn’s promise of violence she weighed her options, released the fire spirit and strode defiantly toward the farm house. Were that the end of the drama for the day, I would have found it manageable. This was not to be the case.

As before, I slung arrows after scarecrows as we advanced upon them. Turning towards the house was another scarecrow in a direction we were not travelling but still a good chance of achieving a hit. And that I did, not my best work, but a solid strike. It shuddered and went limp. And for that reason alone it was investigated and found to be a woman who had been suffering from ghoul fever that had been dressed and secured upon a stand to resemble a scarecrow. Yes, yes it was me. I slayed the woman dressed as a scarecrow. I alone carry that weight and I alone will atone for it in whatever manner the family wishes, should any have survived, not to mention what Father Zantus or Sheriff Hemlock deems appropriate penance or punishment for said act. I believe I can be trusted with that, as I have seen to my fellow troupe and Sandpoint people’s needs, before and since becoming a “Hero of Sandpoint.”

We advanced on the dwelling, and split between the barn and the house. I rode with Rikert and tried to get on the roof of the house to watch the fields. Annie watched from the road. I really had no desire to engage in combat on the ground. However my attempts failed and combat ensued, taking Rikert form the horse. Fearing the horse may follow or spook, I elected to peer through the window. (Egads!) Such a craven visage! Another bloody spectacle, apparently the “message” we were supposed to…AAARRGGH! BRAINTHZ! Suddenly I found myself fully exposed in the window frame to two ghoulish creatures, one that reeked of a stench similar to the one at the sawmill. As I felt breakfast start to find its way out, one them took a bite of my waist and my entire body locked into one excruciating cramp, I fell into the carnage filled room waiting to be fed upon just as I had thought would happen in the field. Once again locked in abject terror alone as my eyes welled, blurring my vision, barely able to gasp shallow breaths. Then Rikert’s healing hands lifted my wounds and paralysis, but not the cramps, full heaving gasps, choking or spitting of vomit. I thanked him and sat up, back against the wall below the window, head down, arms around raised knees balling my eyes out. As I sobbed I thought…

“I wonder if they know, see, or care? Sandpoint…my home…is on the verge of devolving into chaos, of a sort not yet experienced by the troupe. Maybe they just need to be told the last two religious observance days have been marred by heinous events. The goblins raid, and now the gruesome murders. Master Kaijitsu’s accusations, and now Ven’s. I fear there will be no reconciling him now! People respect or respected them to some degree. When the farmers get to town and start to share the scarecrow incidents who will come to reap this harvest? With no help from Magnimar who would escort them for safety sake? What compassion have we shown the people of Sandpoint? We have accepted their gifts, treasures most will never see or touch. Is it enough to solve their problems and take their gifts or do we engage them on a personal level and be satisfied with the booty we get from these forays to protect Sandpoint? It is my wish that the people of Sandpoint see us as benevolent and not as haughty profiteers. Alas, my fate is sealed.”

Collecting what reserve of faculties I possessed, I wiped my eyes and washed my mouth from my wine skin and assisted in checking the house. We searched and found a significant cache of coinage under the floor boards, that being the family’s inheritance. I heard mention the carnage in the barn to be much more gruesome and wanting nothing to do with that, I left the house and walked to the path toward the fields and looked at the woman whose life I had taken while the rest discussed what to do next. I will walk out of this farm if it be Shelyn’s will. But I will NOT deal with any scarecrows, PERIOD! I await the curing of a ghoul fevered family member so I might make amends. As yet no attempt has met with success…?

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Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero:

Thank the gods for Xandu!

After being led by the hand back to Sandoint, I was feeling quite miserable. Despite my blindness, I was able to feed myself at dinner (quite a struggle, that) and was considering crawling into a bottle in my room; the normal noise of the common room seemed terrifically loud and raucous in my state, and I was not in a sociable mood. I was sitting alone later, feeling quite sorry for myself, when Xandu came calling and cast a spell upon me which removed my affliction! I was very nearly grateful enough to kiss him, but instead offered to make a gift of gold to the local cathedral.

The next morning at breakfast, we were once more approached by the sheriff. A farmer from the area south of town had arrived early that morning with awful news; a group of landsmen had taken it upon themselves to try to get to the bottom of some unusual occurrences (tales of walking scarecrows and deserted farms) which seemed to be centered around the Hambly farm. He finished with excited exclamations of many taken and “they even ate the dogs!” Once more we agreed to get to the bottom of the story, and we equipped ourselves for the outing.

South of the town, we came upon a farm family busily packing up their lives, intending to move into Sandpoint until the “trouble” was finished. They reiterated to us the elements of the story we had already heard, and directed us to a more direct route to the Hambly farm. Farther to the south we crossed a creek which seemed to mark a boundary of sorts; north of the creek the fields were harvested stubble, while on the south side the corn still stood tall, rotting in the fields. Fearing the ghoulish assailants promised both by the excited farmer and by the final declaration of Grayst, we brought weapons to hand and proceeded with caution; Rikert and I on our faithful steeds followed by the rest on foot. It wasn’t long before we came to an abandoned farmstead, the departed family’s belongings still untouched, but no one about. The silence and empty fields weighed upon my mind.

As we neared the Hambly farm, we came upon something different: each small field of the farmstead had at least one scarecrow resident, mounted upon a crosspiece above the corn near the intersection of each winding path. Across the fields we could make out the house and barn, and so we bore to our right to find the most direct route to the supposed center of the trouble. Moxie nocked an arrow and sent it into the first scarecrow we approached, and Rikert lopped off its flour-sack head as we passed by, revealing its straw stuffing. I marveled at how deeply paranoia could strike, silently creeping into our lives. The next scarecrow was some twenty feet or so away from the path at the next intersection, and seemed to twitch as we drew abreast of it. Suddenly, it leaped down from its perch and rushed upon us in eerie silence, biting at Rikert’s leg as he sat astride his horse. Those of us who were nearest came immediately to his aid and we quickly dispatched the thing, Annie getting the final blow as she breathed a gout of flame at it. She seemed intent on burning the entire farm to the ground with all of us in the middle of it, and I was about to take issue with her when Lynn beat me to it. I’m not certain what argument he used, but she did quit the fire-breathing act with the fields still intact.

Moxie was apparently quite shaken by the thing disguised as a scarecrow (I believe it was one of the ghouls we had heard about), and she climbed up behind Rikert and began shooting a more-or-less continuous stream of arrows at each of the scarecrows we approached. The last such seemed to me to give a twitch as the arrow struck, but moved no further; I decided to ride down the path to it and investigate. This “scarecrow” had bled when the arrow struck it, and removing the flour sack over its head discovered it to be a woman; far gone from the ghoul fever as Grayst had been, and disguised as a scarecrow and fixed to the cross with wire. Moxie’s arrow had struck her dead. I believe that Xandu could have cured her, and we might have got some valuable information about what was going on had we not all been so afraid of being mobbed by “scarecrows.” When we returned to the group with the news, I may have been a bit hard on Moxie for her part in that particular tragedy, when the truth is that we were all on-edge and trigger-happy.

We rode on up the path to the farmhouse and barn, and quickly split up to look at the bits that interested us; Moxie (riding behind Rikert) trying and failing to climb to the roof of the farmhouse, Ramad and Frederick moving to the barn, Lynn and Xandu heading for the house. I took a position where I could keep a lookout to the west and south, while Annie (showing some uncharacteristic prudence) watched to the north and east. The smell of death was heavy about the place, and I felt that whatever evil lurked about the place would not be long in revealing itself. Nor was I wrong.

A stifled shout from Xandu, and he and Lynn were suddenly fighting with two ghouls that had come from the house. As we all turned that way, several more burst from the barn heading in that direction. I shot one down as it ran, and my companions quickly finished the rest, but a warning cry from Annie told us that more enemies were on the far side of the farmhouse. In the final analysis, we dispatched some 5 or 6 ghouls and something far fouler which Zandu called a “ghast.” This ghast had once been one of the manservants for the lordling Foxglove who had accompanied us on the boar hunt long ago. I shared a look with Lynn, as we both had a sudden insight who the note writer “your Lordship” might be, and why The Misgivings (the old Foxglove manor) would be his throne…

Grand Lodge

We finished up Part 3: Walking Scarecrows last night with the group moving together to each scarecrow. The SOP became, Detect Evil from the Paladin at 60', if it radiated evil, they moved to with 30-35' where the Magus used Disrupt Undead. If there was a reaction they moved in to kill it after making sure it was in fact undead. Generally a description by me would be you can tell there is the stink of death to the creature and it thrashes against its bonds to get at you. In order to speed the process along, I had the group roll a d20 for initiative of the group, with a +2 modifier (rough average of the party) and then I rolled an initiative for the ghoul. We would go around the table starting with one person before the turn would be mine. Only 4 of the ghouls managed to tear themselves free right at the start of the initiative but I did manage to get 1 bite in, with several others being very close, as the held actions of the party destroyed the creature when it arrived.

The roleplay with the group when and after they healed Horran Guffmin and explained what had happened to his wife, Lettie. This roleplay extended to Sandpoint where they decided to escort Horran there for his protection instead of heading directly to Foxglove Manor.

The next day they started out fresh and went to Foxglove Manor. I did what I could to help enforce the creepy nature of the place, but the "hundreds upon thousands of ravens sit quietly in this area, covering every square foot of the ruins. These ravens are disturbingly silent and still, watching as one . . ." was what clinched it later on when Moxie dragged Xandu out of the house trying to save her daughter (failed the save on the haunt in B5 The Lounge.)

One of the things I tried to enforce to the group before they entered was that the Haunt mechanic was going to be used (although I just described it as a "new" mechanic) in the manor and that I didn't want to see 25+ years of gaming paranoia to crop up. I did not want to see the "its an obvious trap and I'm not setting foot in there!" attitude from the players. I did warn them that some of these "encounters" could be very deadly and/or painful, but it was the only way they would understand what was going on.

In the end everyone seemed to enjoy what had happened but we only looked through the ground floor and had pressed on to the second floor when the evening came to a close. Next week I hope to finish up the upper floors and possibly complete the lower levels.

I feel your pain on the "take some damage to learn the story" aspect of the house -- good on your players for sticking it through. It was one of my favorite sections to GM, but also the most frustrating, because eventually any group of players is going to say, "OK, the story just isn't that important to us any more. We're sick of all these haunts!"

I've read where other GMs toned down the damage-dealing aspects of many of the haunts, and had a lot more success getting parties to put the pieces of the story together without it feeling like drinking broken glass...

Well, we finished with the scarecrows. There were about 16 more to look at 1 surviving farmer and a couple real scarecrows and the rest were ghouls. One by one we took them down as carefully as possible, without burning the fields. We then returned with the farmer and cared for his needs. We decided to burn the barn as there was no real way to clean or bury the mess adequately and quickly enough. We returned to town.

We saw to the needs of the farmer and decided not to really share much with Hemlock. I still wasn’t sure if we could trust him or not, but he told us that Foxglove had left the road to go to his old house and that was the last he had seen of him. We then decided to venture to the Foxglove mansion the next day. We arrived late morning and surveyed the exterior then proceeded to enter.

You’ll have to excuse my crude descriptions but the first floor wasn’t what I was expecting. Things were dusty, moldy and dim with lots of doors and windows. The group started venturing forth and soon I and Friedrich split from the group to investigate a short hallway. We found a passage to what I believe is the main entry, with some sort of musical device in it. We then found a washroom with a basin in it. There was a disgusting tumor riddled rat in the basin. It leapt out of the basin and tried to attack me. I killed it. We kept moving forward and found another room with a fireplace. There seemed to be some sort of disturbance in the air around the fireplace, but I couldn’t decipher it.

About that time, Rikert and a couple others came through another door and entered into the area with the fireplace where Friedrich and I were. We started to re-gather and I went through a room that I was sure had some arcane properties, but I couldn’t decipher it. Friedrich said it had something to do with the stained glass windows. There were various beasts, a treant, and others that appeared to be being sucked into a box and the beasts appeared to be afraid. The group had found a library and many members seemed to be overcome with various short term fears or possessions. Xandu said it was haunts and there appears to be stories accompanying the haunts. We may need to pay attention to what’s being done to us so we can find out what happened as that appears to be what the haunts are hinting at. Moxie and Xandu left the manor under the affects of a haunt and found that there were thousands of undead crows outside the manor. We won’t be leaving until we find a way to deal with them. Hopefully something is controlling them and we can destroy them. We found stairs going up and that’s where we’re going.

Rikert Krupt, Paladin of Iomedae

Following the battle at the Hambley farm, we regrouped and then set out to destroy any additional ghouls in the fields, being careful not to accidentally kill any surviving humans in the process. We also burned the filth that was left in the barn to avoid the spread of disease or worse from the rotting remnants of the bodies.

During our efforts to cleanse the fields, we found one survivor who turned out to be the husband of the woman who was inadvertently killed by Moxie. We cut him down, healed him as best as possible, and then told him the truth about what had happened to his wife. We offered our services to help return her body to their farm, and bury her properly.

We then brought him with us back to Sandpoint so he would be safe while he healed and recovered from the wounds and traumatic experience.

On the way back to town, we discussed current events and I brought up the topic of the local Sheriff. I am concerned that we have been letting him in on too many aspects of our investigation, without knowing much about him or his allegiances. Although he has not shown any outward signs of being involved directly with the events in town, we have decided to use more caution before telling him everything about our plans in the future.

After finding the farmer a room in town and making sure he was comfortable and his expenses were covered, we headed out on the road to the Foxglove manor. The house is referred to as the "Misgivings" for a reason. It is a crumbling ruin set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the water far below.

We entered through one of the main sets of doors at the front of the house and proceeded to investigate the first floor. The entrance area was filled with hunting trophies and the stuffed bodies of several creatures, including a large, foul-looking winged creature with mismatched body parts. Several members of our party were frightened by the erie feeling of the house, and most of them seemed to be jumping from perceived threats in the shadows. Other than a report of a diseased rat in one of the rooms, I saw little evidence of any real threats. However, Xandu and Moxie both ventured briefly from the house, and returned quickly with a warning that there were thousands of (undead) crows perched everywhere outside of the manor.

We found stairs leading up and moved to investigate the second floor.

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Saving Horran Guffmin

With much anxiety I followed the troupe as the scarecrows were checked. To be precise I stayed in the path, the center of the path, and near a troupe mate. Always looking about, peering down the rows as we advanced. When we would stop I would ready my ability to resign from sight, and listen for sounds emanating from places other than our troupe. I occupied myself talking with Annie, attempting to convince her of the value of her and me fighting as a team now and in the future. I flinched at the outbreak of combat, the start exacerbating sore muscles, and at times reissuing the painful cramps experienced from the bite received at the Hambly homestead.

Finally a ghoul fevered survivor was found, Horran Guffmin, whose farm we had found in a ramshackle mess on our way from Sandpoint. Having found no other survivors I was shocked to speechlessness as I realized my unfortunate target had been his newlywed Lettie Guffmin. What words does one use to console the family of a loved one you have made victim? Now I bare the victimization of two persons…as it should be. With blurry tear filled eyes I turned form Master Guffmin, looked to the sky with hands raised and quietly prayed…

“Shelyn be praised. Goddess… I humbly beseech you to assuage the grief of the innocent Master Huffmin. Grant him the peace he deserves. Lift his burden in this tragic sorrow and place it upon me. Accept Miss Lettie as you would a martyr in the struggle against darkness, and see her to her final rest in the peace, love, and beauty that you provide. Her spirit is carried by the wings of Desna, see her home in the warm light of your joyful grace. Forgive my acts of ignorance and arrogance in this and all endeavors and bring us all safely home to Sandpoint. Blest be your will, Shelyn be praised“

Wiping the tears from my eyes before returning to Master Huffmin, I heard him ask of his wife. (Hard swallow!) I turned to him, approached and explained as softly as possible that his wife had died. He wished us to take him to her. And after Xandu had finished his accounting of Master Huffmin’s condition, we escorted him to Lettie. As his questions came, the events leading to her death were explained. He expressed his desire to bury her in the family plot on his farm. We assisted in the transportation, preparation, and burial of Lettie. During which I reclaimed the arrow at an appropriate moment while Master Huffmin was found preoccupied by other duties. The arrow shall be rendered useless and the head retained as my reminder of the consequence of rash actions.

After a moving burial ceremony of Desna from Xandu, we helped Master Guffmin mount a horse and escorted him back to Sandpoint. Once we had secured care for Master Guffmin with Father Zantus we made our way to the garrison to report to the Sherriff. The Sherriff produced a bottle of hooch from his desk as we explained the nature of the expedition to the Hambly farm and drank liberally from his bottle at the descriptions of the varieties of creatures encountered and conditions of the farm house and barn. We explained also the reasoning for setting the barn aflame. After he had the story clear and told him of the lone survivor, I confessed to slaying Lettie Guffmin. In a generous and kindly sincere tone he understood my lack of intent to do harm under the circumstances and explained any action of justice would be based on Master Guffmin’s desires. An arrangement I found fair. After visiting with Him a while longer I accompanied Xandu to the Cathedral to arrange for the care of Master Guffmin.

Upon our meeting with Zantus I heard Xandu provide funding for the Sanitorum and I matched his offering. I also asked for a meeting between Master Guffmin and myself to be facilitated by Father Zantus. During this meeting I confessed to the slaying of Lettie and while tearful and stressful, all went well. When the Sherriff arrived to speak with Master Guffmin I took my leave and privately requested Father Zantus to catalog the expenses of Master Guffmin so I might provide some relief of his burdens more immediately.

Returning at last to the Rusty Dragon Inn for another nights rest from a horrible combat, I once again melted into the steaming tub, this time actually letting myself fall asleep and waking in the lukewarm water. Feeling worn ragged, I wrapped in my towel and padded my way to my room only to receive a massive Charlie-horse cramp in my side, lower back and left leg. Crawling the rest of the way to my room I lost my towel to a defect in the flooring. Recovering the towel I scrambled as best I could to my room and waited for the cramping to subside. Seeing to my wounds all I noticed was a bit of tenderness and a slight numbness. A good night sleep would take care of it surely. So retiring early I wrapped in warm blankets against the ever cooling climate and quickly plunged head long into a deep, hard slumber.

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I do believe in spooks!... I do!...I do!...I DO!!!

Waking to the sounds of activity in the Inn, I rolled from the warm blankets and stretched to the ….CRAMP!! AAAACK!! Worsening both in intensity and lingering pain. What have I done to myself!?
As I prepared for the day I felt a lingering dull achiness that had spread to every extremity and found myself in a state of lethargy. Taking a longer time to prepare I painted away the weariness with a touch of Xandu’s gifts to hide what appears to have been a rough night’s sleep! Wrapping in a scarf my new buckskin cloak and plumed hat to keep the cool autumn from assaulting me. Picking at what looked appetizing I packed what would travel in case my appetite should return on the road. And return it did!!

EGADS..I must have eaten a complete days’ worth of prepared trail meals, only to hurl it into the creek not a quarter of an hour later. Luckily I had decided to walk with my spear well behind the group in case I was assaulted by one of those damnable cramps…I do not need to be fawned over for some stupid muscle cramps that will subside if given enough time. Something must have gone bad in the trail packs I ate, I decided to stick with the jerky as it did not seem to turn my stomach.

As we approached the house it appeared to set precariously on a promontory overlooking the sea. As we approached it I found it would be better described as a precipice than a promontory. An old dilapidated home with a burnt out, out-building. My stomach gave a gurgle, but this was anxiety grunt rather than an evacuation alarm. We searched the out-building first, nothing of great interest here as the building had burnt down long ago. Then a creepy visage of what appeared to be a murder of very sickly ravens watched as we advanced on the house. All access and attempts at peering into the home failed as grime covered windows and heavy curtains obscured the view of the interior. Alas I moved forward and unlocked the door with the key taken from Master Foxglove’s ghastly manservant. Then I returned to my place in line to leave the opening to someone thicker than I.

Upon entry we were initially mortified to see a monstrous stuffed…??? It was a huge, winged, spikey tailed lion demon! A curious addition to one’s home, especially at the entrance…creepy! As the troupe once again split up and wandered off, I took notice of a mummified monkey head with a pull string…well what are pull strings for…PULLING!!! It sounded a bell. This led to an inquiry later. No one spoke up and my retort was something to the effect of "Huh thats strange!" knowing full well the new wizard could have, but didn't rat me out. He may not be so bad after all! Oh and it was only hanging on the wall, not affixed to it, so I freed it from such an old unappreciated perch to come home with me! Later I found a set of beautifully crafted book ends crafted in a Desna motif, simply gorgeous, again…freed. One had what appeared to be….EEWW!!...a bloodstain with matted hair on it!! Oh well, they will clean up nicely!! Then everyone was going on about a “spook” walking back and forth in front of a fireplace in a parlor or some such, so I went to see what the devil they were on about. By golly there it was, the dust moving as though someone was pacing back and forth…”Hey Mr. Spook can you…AAAAA!!! Run child, RUN!!!!!” The next thing I knew I was holding Xandu’s hand in a frightful, breathless panic standing… outside (!?!?) with multiple thousands of the sickly looking ravens watching our EVERY move??? Then as Xandu let loose with a calming healy whoofa-thing he does the birds took to flight…TOWARDS US!....” AAAAA!!! Run Xandu, RUN!!!!” As the door closed behind us my heart pounding, lungs burning, I leaned back to temper the oncoming cramps and exclaimed, “I do believe in spooks…I do…I do…I DO!!!”

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero:

After the battle in the farmyard, we decided that a tour of all the scarecrows in the fields was in order. My horse had shied a bit at the first couple of shots, and I thought it a good idea to get her more accustomed to the sound. Mr. Hosk claimed that she was combat trained, but my style of combat is a trifle unusual for a horse. We toured the fields, and more or less took it in turn to dispatch the “scarecrows” that attacked us. Since we were approaching them singly and knew what to expect they were not too difficult to take down.

One of the “scarecrows” turned out to be a live but very sick man. We cut him down and Zandu was able to cure his disease, but he was still very weak. Once he could speak, we found that the woman Moxie had killed earlier was this man’s wife; and her loss coupled with the attack and affliction utterly devastated him. By this time we had finished our investigation of the ghoul farm, and we took the refugee and his deceased wife to their farm where we assisted in the poor woman’s burial. Rikert and I did the grave digging, and I will be sore from the unaccustomed labor. We then took the man to Sandpoint and delivered him to the temple for care and succor, and made our way to the see the sheriff and report the situation.

Moxie impressed me during this whole portion of the affair by being very frank and honest about her part in the slaying of the poor farmer’s wife. It was an unfortunate situation at best, but she did her best at restitution. Now if she would quit parading about the Rusty Dragon in naught but a towel…

The next morning we set out on foot for the Misgivings; the old manor house of the Foxglove family. Rikert and I both left our horses in the town stables; I know I had a bad feeling about what we might face, and didn’t want to leave my mare unattended for however long it might take in the place. In hindsight, it is a good thing we left them behind.

The Foxglove manor stands on a coastal promontory a few miles south of Sandpoint, looming over the sea like some dark idol. As we approached, the trees and vegetation took on a foreboding aspect, seeming to be warped or twisted in some unholy fashion into grotesque shapes reminiscent of grasping skeletal hands. A huge murder of mangy-looking crows loitered about the place, and after some inspection of them Rickert announced that they were undead. They didn’t seem threatening, but they were eerily silent and watchful. Some ruins outside the main house invited our inspection, but yielded nothing substantial about the estate’s condition. We stepped up to what seemed to be the main door, and entered the Misgivings proper.

This house gives me the creeps. I believe that nearly everyone has seen or experienced something since we entered this horrid place, though some remain silent about it. Zandu saw a reflection of a woman he’d never seen before in one of the windows, and I was attacked by an apparition that tried to strangle me with a scarf. It seems that someone had their head bashed in with a bookend fairly recently (Foxglove, or one of his servants?) in the library. Moxie suddenly became frantic and practically dragged Zandu back out the front door; at which time we found that the flocks of hideous crows (hundreds of the foul things) would not let us leave. I’m sure the others have seen and experienced things as well, but they remain tight-lipped. I fear that we are trapped here until such time as we can lay these spirits to rest, and I’m not sure we are up to the task; I cannot harm an apparition with bullets, can I?

Grand Lodge

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So last night we completed almost all of the upper levels to the Foxglove Manor. We had a few interesting moments with the Haunts, as the newly inducted Paladin, Rikert, overcome with rage against women attacked Moxie with his two handed sword, and was then promptly stabbed back by a shocked and startled Moxie.

When the paintings of the Foxglove family line changed and twisted, two members contracted the Phage. One of those same members tried to claw non-existant tumors from his face in an earlier room.

The newly introduced halfling wizard, Ramad, grabbed the piece of wood from the desk and 'almost' committed a coup-de-grace on himself. He actually did zero damage on 2d4 + double strength, but the minimum damage of 2 meant a DC12 Fort save which he failed. I gave everyone a chance to save him and an immediate channel from the cleric meant he stabbed himself but did not die. (Honestly, I didn't want to have his second character die a few sessions after his last one died.)

Once they reached the attic, they were almost to B22 when they heard the womans shriek of pain and ran forward to unlock the door to B24. The group had a few enter in the room slowly with Moxie, Annie, and Xandu going in. Annie moved the mirror to the side about the same time as Moxie saw what it was. The subsequent shriek paralyzed almost the entire party with fear except the paladin who was anchor to the party marching order and in the hall, Lynn who was also in the hall and Xandu. Xandu failed his roll for Knowledge Religion, so I allowed (one time only and because the story behind Iesha is so cool) someone to give up their boon so he could reroll that failed Knowledge check.

The irony to this (any many actions of the night) was that whenever we have a giant LAN party with our XBox's we usually play Left for Dead 1 and/or 2. The player of Xandu loves to poke the witch, and the sudden crying means he goes into crazy 'poke the badger' mode.

Long story short he realized what she was and with major convincing to the paladin NOT to attack her, she would lead them to Aldern.

Once she breached the floor and dropped into the basement, the chase began.

Xandu and Ramad tried to keep up with her, but she ran through the Yellow Mold and kicked up all the spores infecting Xandu who stopped on the other side to take stock of his rapidly decreasing Constitution. Iesha kept going. Ramad stopped but had to wait to use burning hands once he made the appropriate Knowledge check to know what to do.

By then Iesha was gone deep into the tunnels and the ghouls from B34 ran forward to start munching on Xandu, who was hit 3 times with bites. (Rolled a 16, 16 and 20, but didn't back up the threat.) Luckily he's a half-elf so the paralyzing aspect didn't affect him.

Just as they had cleared all the spores, moved in to support Xandu and dispatch the remaining ghouls the Skaveling showed up and attack the slowly streaming in members of the group who were descending the rope one at a time into the basement. By the time they managed to kill the Skaveling we called it a night.

The remaining part should be fun as they learn all the remaining pieces to the puzzle.

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Make way for the Queen!!

As the troupe discussed the next course of action, I remained at the doors, doubled over trying to catch my breath and recover from the state of panic in which I had been unknowingly thrust! I don’t recall why I ran outside, but I definitely recall why I ran inside…where did all those ravens come from?!? EGADS! As the troupe started up the stairs, I motioned them onward saying I would catch up as soon as I had recovered. The intensity of cramps was still increasing and the recovery time is as well. By the time I had rejoined the troupe there was discussion of a “voice’’ asking what was wrong with someone’s face? Apparently Lynn reacted poorly to the inquiry, but it was all over by the time I caught up with them. They pointed out more stained glass windows and those educated in spell pushing recognized the symbology as Necromantic in nature, in laymen’s terms…BAD, VERY BAD! So our greeting to the second floor was much the same as it was on the ground floor so far.

We landed first at a door of a bed chamber which I unlocked. It was a disheveled mess, all torn and broken bits of bedding and furniture strewn about the room. However a painting faced in reverse, towards the wall peaked my interest, so I entered the room…just…and summoned a mages hand to assist in righting the picture. Satisfied with my eventual success, the portrait revealed a beautiful brunette woman and everyone was intrigued with the craftsmanship…then they all turned and looked beyond me to the doorway with expressions of surprise and disbelief. Before I could turn to look I was struck hard by heavy sword thrust though the back and chest just below the right collar bone. (GASP!) There was much burning pain and the sickly feeling of it being unsheathed from me, and the warm spurt and continuous flow of life blood pumping from each exit. Falling to a knee I looked back to see a familiar face filled with rage not unlike that of Barus when he had been assaulted by the sin spawn. Fearing my immediate demise, I lunged back, dagger in hand. With Annie to his rear, I hoped beyond hope for a helping hand in a prolonged fight, for my ability to remain engaged was already in question. Luckily Rikert’s rage was short lived and we both parted with equal wounds, but mine were more telling as I am not a brawny warrior who can take such beatings on a regular basis. It’s like this, when you step on a hardy shrub it grows back, when you step on a delicate flower it withers and dies! Eventually I was “convinced” he was sincerely apologetic and let him tend my wounds, but not without a dagger in hand, concealed, this time, here, in this house.

We found another room with no less than eight family portraits. Parents and their children, one of which was the child likeness of Aldern Foxglove. And then along came the spookification! As the room began to chill, frost ran up the walls, and the pictures began to change. About the time one of the father figures throat ran with blood, I turned away and closed my eyes. Some were afflicted with a pox to exposed areas during the effects, for some reason as yet unknown I was not one of those afflicted, Sheylin be praised! Another room was what could be said to be the apparent location of the throat cutting from the painting I experienced, as a desk was covered in an old coagulated pooled blood stain. As I peered at the scene I noticed a silver dagger and watched in horror as Ramad tried to give himself a goblin necktie with said silver dagger!! Locked motionless from the quickness with which it happened I noticed Xandu had loosed another whoofta and physically prevented Ramad’s untimely and unappreciated demise! Strangely the silver dagger was actually a piece of wood on a second and closer inspection. I wonder if Ramad noticed a difference from his perspective?? A short period of discussion was engaged allowing for a brief repose before it was decided to continue upward. Rising slowly my punished body revolted mildly against the renewed activity.

As we climbed the stairs to the third level, or attic, we found rooms filled with items for repairing the house, furnishings and so on. As we turned a corner I noticed the crying of a woman towards the end of the hall. As we have progressed though this house the key taken from Aldern’s manservant had come in handy. But I have come to realize some one has fiddled about with the tumblers on the locks to make it more difficult to gain entry. Especially this room where the crying woman noise came from. This lock was nearly rendered useless and impossible to open with any devices. But I saw it completed and entered the room slowly.

I entered and s l o w l y, moved to the right along the wall, dagger in hand. Moving forward from the corner I simply wished to see if this was a real person in peril or another spook room. To my COMPLETE dissatisfaction it was neither, for there before me is what I would have qualified as a certifiably crazy neglected hag, that I was sure would rip my battered body asunder in a Magnimar moment!! I crept further as her gaze was fixed upon a mirror. Then Annie rotated the mirror in place until her line of site was broken. At which point she stood wailing a hideous blood curdling scream. (EGADS!!) While startled, I was still…semi functional as the suddenness of the scream had shocked my muscles into a major cramping event and I huddled, wincing in pain form this alone. Fully expecting to be eviscerated by her extremely long fingernails I was happily surprised by the fact that, but for a fleeting glance…she shambled by without interest in me…(HUZZAH!!) Xandu called out that she was a…Rembrandt….no!….Regal Aunt…noo!!...Rebel Treant…NO NO NO!!! Damned “R” words!! REVANENT!!......Maybe?....Oh well that’s close! Anyways she crept out of the room walking by all in the party, so I returned to Annie and let her know we were going to follow her to where ever she’s going and let her have her vengeance on whoever and help us out in the process…hopefully!?!? At which point a second blood curdling scream came down the hall. Just then everyone beat feet chasing the Revenar, Ravenar, Ragnaro… - HAG down the stairs. As I reached the stairs I fell in a MASSIVE cramp attack and stumbled, rolled, slid down the first set of stairs, and waited at the bottom briefly until motion was again an option. As I continued I felt the malaise get a bit worse and I slowed somewhat to see if it would subside. Tired and battered it has been an awful, AWFUL DAY!

I found the troupe in the entry watching the HAG stand in the great moldy stain and stair at the floor. Then suddenly she began tearing away at the floorboards until she had made a suitable hole for her to descend into the darkness, and down she went. I shambled over and dropped a sunrod into the hole and awaited my turn to descend the rope we had tied to…I don’t know what!?! Xandu, Ramad, Rikert, Freidrich, and Uther all advance before me and there were spells and calls and combat taking place as Uther and I entered the scene below. A smell of burnt fungus and entrails lingered on the breeze, I had just enough time to take this in when I was assailed from above and behind me by a GREAT…UNDEAD…FLYING…BAT-THING!?!? “WAAA!!!” The bite sunk deep in my left ribcage, arm and shoulder. If I am ever made to choose which creature I am to be consumed by, I prefer a great cat over these filthy things!! Once again this bite, locked my entire body in a rock hard cramp. I could feel me extremities contorting in unnatural ways and could hear and feel them popping…this is the most painful experience I have ever encountered…EEEVVVER!!! A curative spell relieved the wounds but the cramps remained in full effect until they had naturally run their course. “GAAAASP!!!” (sob!)

After collecting myself and when fully recovered from the bite cramp I felt better or simply didn't hurt to the degree I had just experienced and that most certainley felt better! Rising from the scorched ground I brushed away the sooty stuff, coughing it from my lungs and blowing it from my nose I stretched and rubbed my sore spots back into place and produced Luciens small mirror to clean myself up and noticed the intensity of the cramps, or one of my more recent hard landings had apparently burst a blood vessel in my eye as it was mostly red and creepy looking, but didn't hurt. A badge of honor, it makes me feel tougher! I think I'll keep it! I was afforded a moment of laughter as I thought of how my troubador and acrobat guardians would have died of shock seeing me in this state of battered and bruised! (GRIN!)"Shelyn Be Praised!"

Up we went, to a second story of dust and mold. I spent a lot of time in hallways and not in rooms, but we’ll get to that. The first room that I remember was another with stained glass where it should have provided a beautiful view of the ocean. These windows depicted various things used in necromantic magic. According to Friedrich, the various items were used specifically in the process to become a liche, a very powerful undead wizard. It is at this point that I forget some specifics. One of the rooms that we entered, something happened to me. I was overcome with the feeling that I had tumors and masses growing out of my face. The itching and overwhelming desire to remove them took me to the point of scratching and itching until I scratched and scarred my face. Nearly as soon as it started it stopped, but the damage was done.

Another room we ventured into had the remnants of a bedroom. There was a picture turned facing the wall. Moxie used a small magic spell to gently turn the picture around. Now, when this happened, unbeknownst to us, Rikert was overwhelmed with the incredible hatred of women. Moxie happened to be standing in front of him when he struck and suffered a severe wound from Rikert’s sword. Not knowing what was going on, she returned the attack. Once again, the haunts were at work. No more had Moxie struck than Rikert came out of it and immediately tried to make amends. Healing was offered and done and we were off to the next room. Another contained eight family portraits, including Aldern and his sisters. Apparently some people saw the sisters fog over and the rest had various awful fates happen to their bodies. One was burnt and broken; another drew a knife across his throat. I don’t recall all the various poses of death, but these were various haunts and hints we’ve experienced through the house. Ramad and moxie ventured into a room. There appeared to be a block of wood sitting on the desk and Ramad picked it up and tried to slice open his throat. It turned out to be a dagger, not some wood. We continued searching the floor and found more stairs going up.

The final floor had various doors and stuff, but there was sobbing and crying coming from a room. Moxie carefully opened the door with Annie and in they went. There was an obviously undead woman sitting in front of the mirror. It was the same woman that was in the picture when Rikert attacked Moxie. Xandu said it was a Revenant and that it would lead us to Aldern. Annie moved the mirror and she shrieked. Xandu made some comments about staying out of its way so I did. She went down the hallway and down the stairs all the way to the ground floor.

She apparently clawed her way through the floor, revealing an old stone staircase going down to lower levels. We tied a rope to a table and started going down. Xandu was first with Ramad trying to keep up. She tore off down the stairs and ran through a cavern. Being the last one down, I heard a battle with some ghouls, but happened upon the scene after they had been dealt with.

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero:

On the second floor, things started to get strange.

We’d come to the conclusion that we should stick together; it seemed that the haunts in this godsforsaken place could only affect one of us at a time, and it was our fervent hope that we could prevent whichever of us a particular haunt ‘chose’ from doing too much damage.

As elsewhere mold was ubiquitous, though those with more knowledge of such things than I maintained that it was harmless. We began by checking all the rooms around the outside of the house, starting with the child’s room at the top of the stairs, where Zandu claimed that he saw a woman holding a torch and a man covered in tumors wielding a knife trying to kill each other, and a feeling that whichever survived would come for him next. What an endearing family.

Next was a conservatory of some sort, with more stained glass windows overlooking the sea; Frederick claimed that these depicted the spell components for creating a Lich, whatever that might be. Beyond that was a moldy bedroom; here Lynn became convinced that he was covered in tumors and boils. I heard a childs’ voice ask, “what’s on your face, mommy?” Lynn returned to himself once he was removed him from the room.

Next was a room with a large metal bathtub. The floor seemed ready to collapse from the weight, and we all declined to enter.

At the far end of the hall was a thoroughly destroyed bedroom, with a portrait over the mantle turned to face the wall. Moxie had to look at it, and turned it around to find a striking portrait of a beautiful woman, and some heard the words, “What do you get up to down in the damp below?” At about that time, Rikert was taken by the haunt, and attacked Moxie; it was a miracle that she wasn’t cut in two by the blow. We were all taken by surprise, and I swung my pistol to bear on the Paladin as Moxie turned to defend herself. Fortunately, Rikert returned to himself before more blood was spilled, and fell on his knees asking Moxie to forgive him. After this episode, Moxie stuck to Annie like glue, and they concerned themselves with opening a locked door at the end of the corridor while the rest of us returned to the central hall.

The central room contained portraits of two generations of the Foxglove family, one set each on the north and south walls. The north wall portraits were of a clean-shaven man with blue eyes, a woman in a blue dress (apparently the same as the one in Moxie’s portrait; she had taken it from the frame just before the incident with Rikert) and a young girl with a doll. On the south wall were a thin man with a mustache, a woman with long red hair and a playful smile, two girls and a little boy that could only have been Aldern. As we took all this in, the room became chill and the portraits began to change, most looking dead and bloated. The man in the northern portrait became covered in horrific tumors and growths, and the man in the southern portrait developed a throat slit from ear to ear. The entire process only took seconds and was terribly unnerving, but all quickly returned to what passed for normal in this place. Unlike the rest of the haunts and apparitions so far, I think that we all witnessed this transformation.

Beyond the portrait hall was the master bedroom which was quite well preserved, the mold for some reason not having taken hold there. As we looked around, the Halfling grabbed a jagged piece of wood from the desk at the north window, and tried mightily to slit his own throat; he very nearly succeeded. Fortunately Zandu was present to minister to his wound.

Moxie and Annie meanwhile had opened the door to the third-floor stair, and we trooped up once again. Here there were rooms filled with repair supplies and mundane junk, and it was obvious that someone (Aldern and his two servants, likely) had recently begun repairs on the building. As we turned a corner of the hallway, we were unnerved by an unearthly shriek from a room at the end of the corridor, and we hastened to discover what might have made it. In that room was mirror turned to the wall, and a partially obscured figure behind it. As Moxie and Zandu entered the room, the shriek erupted from the figure once again, and completely unmanned me. I found out later that it was something Zandu called a ‘Revenant’, and that it was only concerned with Aldern; none of which mattered to me as I cowered in a corner.

Luckily, the effects wore off quickly, and those of us left behind were able to join the hunt: the revenant had ignored us, and screeching Aldern’s name had ran off the way we had come. We all pursued as best we could, and caught up with it in the entry hall on the ground floor, where it was busily tearing up the floor where the mold had made a remarkable kind of spiral pattern. In matter of minute or two, the thing had torn through the floor and dropped into a basement chamber some 20 feet deep, where a stairway leading farther down had been excavated in the recent past. We took advantage of the pause to rig a rope to descend, and Zandu rappelled down with it, with Ramad feather falling immediately after. The creature took off down the stairway, and Zandu raced in pursuit. As Rikert descended the rope, I tumbled down without its benefit; it went well except that I missed my footing on the excavated stone and slammed into the wall rather hard. Shaking off the damage, I headed down the stairs after Ramad and Zandu, with Rikert following on my heels.

We descended perhaps sixty feet in a spiral, and then into some kind of cavern complex far beneath the foundations of the house; I saw the glimmer of a sun-rod Zandu was holding far ahead, and then a flash as Ramad sent a sheet of flame before him; as I came up behind I saw that Zandu had been engaged by three ghouls. I shot one and blew its head off, as Rikert lumbered past me to engage the two remaining; and I heard the footsteps of the rest of the group coming rapidly behind me.

Suddenly there was a shriek from Moxie, and I turned to see a gigantic loathsome bat had flown down to attack us from behind. I shot it, and hit it solidly as it flapped away. Once again, Rikert ran past me (if you can call what he does in all that armor ‘running,’), and with a mighty leap, struck the bat as it hovered some fifteen feet above the floor! I know that Frederick hit it with a bomb, and Lynn might have hit it as well, but we had to pursue and destroy the creature farther back in the cave. If finally fell, crumpling to the ground, and we returned to our companions in time to hear the revenant shriek from far down one of the other tunnels…

Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae

As we continued exploring the ruins of the Misgivings, I began to feel that the only way to rid this cursed place of the haunts and evil that was so pervasive was to burn it to the ground. In my years of training as a holy warrior I have never come across a place that seemed to harbor as much residual evil lingering from the deeds of its former residents.

Our search through the upstairs rooms led us to discover the twisted history of the Foxglove family through its recent generations. It was also here that I succumbed to an overwhelming hatred caused by the lingering haunts, and struck one of our own from behind. I was briefly overcome with rage and swung my sword wildly against the closest female. My attack on Moxie shamed me more than any event in my life. I strive to be strong and set an example for others to follow in the spirit of Iomedae, and I am deeply concerned about the weakness I showed here.

As I regained my senses, I fell to my knees, barely aware that Moxie had stabbed me in well-deserved retribution. I begged for her forgiveness. The hurt from my betrayal that showed in her eyes was the worst feeling I have had. It took me a minute to calm and assure her that I would never choose to do such a thing. Eventually, she allowed me to heal her wounds, although she is still rightfully uncomfortable in my presence.

This incident only fueled my resolve to level this place after our investigation.

Farther on in the house, we discovered another foul undead creature. Xandu convinced me to allow it to pass unharmed as it was a revenant set on destroying Foxglove himself. We followed the female aberration downstairs and then on into the basement as it tore its way through the wooden floor to gain access to the lower levels. The hole in the floor was deep enough that it required us to use a rope to descend. This slowed our progress and allowed the revenant to gain a large lead as we straggled along in pursuit, spread out in a long line behind the creature.

Xandu and Ramad were the first in line ahead of us, and ran into problems with more ghouls and a patch of poisonous mold that sickened Xandu. As I ran to engage the ghouls in combat, I heard a scream and the sound of battle from behind me. I turned quickly and headed back after dropping the last ghoul, only to find the stragglers fighting a vile winged creature that seemed to be a mixture of bat and demon. With the help of the others, we killed the giant bat and paused briefly to assess our situation.

Grand Lodge

Last night the troupe finished up Part 4: Misgivings.

We started up with the group still standing in B34. After doing a quick check of wounds they continued on but ignored heading to B35 and instead moved towards B36. Standing around talking about how they were going to navigate down the spiraling slope they were assailed by the 4 Goblin Ghasts (all at max health) who were returning after helping Foxglove finish Iesha.

With ravenous hunger (or at least the dice were ravenous) they assailed the Paladin as he was the first in the room. Taken by surprise, and a low initiative roll meant the creatures were able to eventually cause his collapse from Paralyzation. By this time there were only 3 left who then went after the cleric. After one round of combat, there were only 2 left when the cleric disengaged to move further down the hallway to heal, the creatures though followed him ignoring all others. One took a good whack but both made it to the cleric and latched on with their bite attack.

It was at this time that the 3 (max health) ghouls came out from B35 because of the commotion, (the gunshot really) and latched onto the gunslinger. At this point a very potent burning hands from the mage removed all 3 ghouls in 1 blast.

Again, the cleric disengaged and moved back through the party in the direction they had initially been going. By this time there was only 1 left and since it could not reach its quarry, it latched on to one of the others. When it was all said and done the paladin was down around 20 or so health (but so was the cleric who had cast shield other on the paladin long before the fights started).

Doing a quick look through B35 to make sure there were no more surprises they waited out their sickness from the ghast stench before moving on. Eventually they came to B37 and found a very wounded Foxglove (only 3d6 health left and I rolled 10). A small narrative ensued where his Lordship gave away a few secrets and then the Hurter arrived and initiative was rolled. Foxglove actually beat everyone (which is stupid rare, but having a +10 Init helps) and went after the cleric. The damage was superficial and not many of these guys fail their saves so no disease but one hit from the magus ended the encounter rather quickly.

Since the original object of his obsession was the late Lucien Prospero they found a broken cameo of his likeness on the table as well. A Knowledge: Arcane or Nature DC 25 told them that the mold in the room was not "natural" but infused with arcane and divine magics of some sort. The rest of the evening was their discovery of what it would take to "cure" the Misgivings. A DC 22 Knowledge: Religion told them what would need to be done.

The painting of Foxgloves new obsession in blood and gobbets of rotten meat was a great touch and several players balked at that news. I allowed Presdigitation to lower the DC of the Craft: Painting check to 15 so they could have that done during Market Day which happens every 2 weeks in my campaign. I imagine there may be a painter (starving artist) that arrives in town during that time as well to do the work for them.

I allowed the puzzlebox to be mended and sold for 100g as a novelty item as the box itself was no longer magical. I also gave them a gold value for all the books they found in B23 even though it is not listed as treasure, but they decided to give the books to the owner of the Curious Goblin.

They finished checking the rest of the basement which I had sealed off in my version to prevent their entry into the basement early. Had they killed Iesha they would have had to figure out how to get into the basement and an axe to the only door they couldn't open would have been the answer.

One of my favorite moments was the group checking the kitchen area in the basement and the sudden onrushing sound of the plague rats in the two small tunnels in the kitchen being completely nullified by the cleric with a stone shape. That is until they opened the door to B27 and encountered them anyway. Telling people that roughly 600 plague ridden rats (2 swarms) poured out of the room was another great moment as several shudders from the players made me smile.

Next week, Part 5: Chasing the Skinsaw.

We followed the revenant or at least the direction it went deeper into the cavern. We couldn’t hear any sounds of a fight or her shrieks so it was move forward and hope we find where she went. We came across a cavernous hole with steep slick sides and a narrow pathway. We were set upon, or maybe I should say that Rikert was set upon by 4 goblin ghasts. They singled him out, ignoring the rest. They surprised the group and we were slow to respond. I know I and Barus hit a couple of them and we started to thin them down. Rikert fell to one of their wounds, and they set upon Xandu. Xandu tried to move away from them, but they seemed determined to finish him and moved with him. About the time that he moved away from them, three ghouls attacked from a side passage. For a bit things got interesting. Barus hit all the ghouls with a spray of fire and killed all the ghouls. The horrid stench from the ghasts rocked nearly all of us and made attacking difficult, but we made it through and destroyed all the undead foes.

We slowly made our way down the path to what we finally saw was a door that the revenant had apparently destroyed to track down Aldern. We approached the door and cautiously entered. Inside, we found the revenant down on the ground apparently defeated and a battered Aldern Foxglove. Aldern seemed almost possessed as he broke down and cried, saying he never meant to hurt her. That she said they would protect her. That he had sent some of the tumor ridden mice to town. Apparently, about that time “His Lordship” took over and basically attacked Xandu. I stepped forward and struck him down.

We found several things in the room, from items stolen from Xandu to strange depictions of him, i.e. paintings, drawings and a cameo. There was an odd wall with a nearly human looking imprint in it. We disturbed it and destroyed it. We think it was the soul of Aldern’s grandfather. We ended up finding references to him trying to become a liche in later rooms, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We searched and removed items of worth from the room and then determined to return and properly search the entire house to make sure we had removed all the undead. We had one more battle of note. A horde, or plague, of tumor ridden rats attacked us in the pantry. We destroyed them and found some wonderful wine in a hidden door, thank you Moxie. Uther and someone went back to town to get a wagon. They returned and we loaded everything up and went back to town. The undead crows had all left at sometime.

I can’t wait until Fyreday as I have some shopping to do. First, however, I have a bath to take, and wine to drink.

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The Pit of Despair!!!
With a newfound dislike of ALL THINGS UNDEAD!!!.. as I appear to be as tasty to them as Lynn is to dogs, I placed myself midway in the troupe to avoid being accosted from the bow or stern! As we progressed from the charred floored room attempting to trace the path of the “Reverend”, we were set upon by a scalp of goblin ghasts, who fixated upon Noble Rikert…giggle…a penance found most suitable to my tastes! Speaking of tastes, it is unmentionable how nasty ghasts are. At first contact I held my nose, but still, was brutalized by the stench. My eyes watered as badly as if rubbed with a cut onion, and the taste which lands in the mouth…(GAG!! EGADS!!) I immediately resigned from sight and let the swarm chase by in pursuit of Xandu…giggle…how comical it is when you are not the one set upon by these yuckies!! I armed myself and moved to protect Rikert in his state of paralysis, watching as the swarm chased back through the group after Xandu…giggle…what a treat this is!! The comedy ended abruptly with the onset of hostilities at the rear of the group with a rot of ghouls crashing into the troupe from behind. Ramad quickly roasted them with a fan of hand fire. The gob ghasts were also quickly dispatched having run the gauntlet through the troupe and back again taking several haymakers along the way.

We found ourselves entering a room ringed with a pathway which sloped downward toward the center to a brackish pool. It seemed to swell with the surf just discernible from the rushing sound of its ebb and flow. Foul icky looking water! Across the pool appeared to be a broken door…and no other noise…sound…creepy! Again I wished to hang back mid-troupe and let the brave, courageous, and noble assail the breech. When all was finished the rever…thing, and an undead Aldern lay splayed and battered on the ground. A brief banter from the afflicted Aldern was heard prior to the combat, but the meaning was lost to me by proximity and the rush of the noble in Aldern’s doom. Xandu set to cleansing the site of evil spirits, and while he did we had a look around. We found a broken cameo of Lucien(!?!..mine!!) an intact cameo of Xandu(!?!) numerous disturbing sketches of Xandu’s demise(!?!?) a valuable painting nearly destroyed by applications of blood and flesh, and what appeared to be a moldy visage of a human sized figure spackled to the wall??? Hmm!!? “HEEEY…WHASSSAT???” Approaching some said they heard a jingling sound, I however did not. I used the same minor affect here I had with the painting upstairs to remove a shiny object from the spackled man, moving away quickly. Upon inspection it was found to be a small chime used by some to magically open doors. With but a minor amount of magic remaining I gave it to Annie and explained since she has yet to master the art of the tumblers, she should hold it to make sure the troupe has a way to gain access or exit, should I go missing. Awaiting Xandu’s completion of the cleansing we, especially me, were treated to a heart stopping display as “SPACKLE MAN” leapt from the wall towards…Xandu(??) and let out with a howl most heinous before collapsing in a pile of nastiness!! It was then that we were all cured of the weasel measles and whatever else we may have been afflicted by and a bit of healing power too. Immediately my stiffness and malaise were lifted and but for a few sore spots, felt like a bag of platinum ingots!!

As we retraced our steps we decided to give the house the once over with fine attention to detail. Aside from the wave of tumor ridden disease infested rats, we did pretty well. We divvied the coinage and I was given a ring which provides a physical barrier of protection and two keys. One is a three bladed, long shanked copper key with a lion’s head, the other a tarnished iron key with a snappy opal set in the bow. Mention of the Foxglove home in Magnimar was made and I am quite certain these keys are too said same. We also found a stash of fine wine, each of us afforded a bottle, which someone appraised at one hundred gold pieces per bottle!!! So with so much loot, many mundane and awkward items not here in listed, we sent runners to town to fetch a wagon and returned to town by evening, tired, hungry, and stinky!! When mentioning how nice a bottle of chilled wine and a hot bath sounded, the troupe made complaint of my bathing practices, and how I should take more care to keep covered more appropriately….(PFPFPFT!!!…YAA THAT”LL HAPPEN!!!…silly boys!!)

Xandu’s Journal Entry:
The past days have had me in a foul mood. We have tried our best to overcome many wrongs that surround Sand point. And have found ourselves in a haunted house experiencing worlds I’d rather just read about. I’m sure a researcher would love to be here but not me. We have each been visited by haunts showing us a horrible picture of the past wrong doings that have taken place here in the Foxglove estate called Misgivings.

The stories we all share are what some would call fantasy or make believe but they are all too true and instead of retelling them I will ponder on them when I again have time to calmly talk with Desna. We are in pursuit of a revenant in hopes that it will lead us to what we believe is what is left of Aldern Foxglove. I will share my life force with the Paladin, hoping to keep him alive, it may be our only hope of surviving this cursed place.

We finally caught up to Aldern, well what was left of him anyway, discovered he was a victim of the undead happenings earlier under Sand Point and became entwined with the plot to take over Sandpoint for dark forces, a plot that continues even now. The web gets ever bigger the closer we get to it. I pray that Desna keeps us safe as we try to unravel it.

Xandu's Journal Entry:
I love to travel and wonder the world and will continue to do so but I now have roots. Here in Sandpoint I have made friends and feel comfortable in one place for the first time in my 40 years of my blessed life. I have made a commitment to help keep the sanitarium open. I will be it's patron. I have made arrangements with Father Zantus giving him funds to disperse as needed. I have made him scrolls for healing of wounds and disease.

I have also found a a place within a troupe of adventuring colleges that I will maintain as long as I'm able. It is a strange and wonderful feeling to be a part of something. I am Xandu, gypsy follower of Desna, from Sand Point, along with my friends "The hero's of Sandpoint". I may have to work on that.

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero:

After dispatching the giant bat-thing, we regrouped and followed the shrieks of the revenant deeper into the cavern. The entire cave seemed to be breathing like some enormous sleeping creature, which turned out to be caused by a large round chamber into which the tide was forcing seawater from below; the rising and falling water acting as a sort of bellows. As we came to this chamber we saw that a ramp-like stone ledge, wet and slick with moss, spiraled downwards. Xandu was sure that the revenant had come this way, and we were deciding how best to proceed when we were attacked by a group of foul undead goblins.

I took an involuntary step back from the miasma emanating from the things as they set upon Rikert like a pack of wild dogs, biting and tearing at him with their ghastly claws. I fired once and damaged one of them just before Rikert went down, and they turned their attention to Xandu. We brought one of the goblins down as Xandu panicked and began to run. Fortunately, he didn’t run down the slick ramp or over the edge into the sea cave, but through the rest of us and back into the caverns.

Amazingly, instead of turning their attention to Lynn the goblins chased Xandu right through the midst of us! We all struck out as best we could; I managed to strike one of them with the butt of my pistol as it passed, but I was distracted by the wave of stench that rolled over me as they approached. They caught Xandu in short order, and he turned back to us, eyes wild, and ran right back through us again! I’ve seen mice act this way, running in a blind panic when pursued by a larger creature, and I thought of the devil dogs beneath the goblin fortress and how Annie and I had run blindly away from them. This time we were ready, and we finished off the last of the things before they managed to bring Xandu down like Rikert.

As we took stock after the fight and bound Xandu’s wounds, we also discovered that Rikert had not expired. Frederich produced some healing potions and those of us who had been wounded in one or the other of our last fights were restored in short order. We waited a short while for the nausea caused by the goblins’ foulness to pass, and then we cautiously descended the sloping ledge in the hope that “His Lordship” was waiting below.

Indeed he was. A chamber off the ledge had had the door torn from its hinges, and the remains of the revenant lay within. On one wall was some hideous fungal growth, its vaguely humanoid shape intensely disturbing to look upon. Nearer the center of the room, the creature that had once been Aldern Foxglove leaned on a throne-like chair. He was obviously quite the worse for wear after his confrontation with the revenant, and he broke down in almost human fashion when we entered and he laid eyes on Xandu; whining and confessing his sins, sniveling that nothing was his fault. Suddenly his aspect changed, and he attacked without warning. Rikert and Lynn quickly struck, and what had been Aldern Foxglove fell dead.

While some of us examined the items strewn about the room, Xandu informed us that the place needed to be cleansed, and commenced some sort of ritual. We found an interesting letter to the ghoul that had been Aldern from someone in Magnamar who called herself “Mistress of the Seven” which indicated that Foxglove had been taken advantage of and manipulated for some nefarious purpose; it looked as though we would be taking a trip to Magnamar soon to put paid to that portion of whatever plot Aldern had become involved in. As Xandu finished his ritual, the fungal growth on the wall fell to dust and we all felt the weight of the evil in this place lift from our minds. A welcome respite indeed.

In the next couple of hours, we completed our explorations of the cavern, the basement of the house (a brief altercation with swarms of plague-ridden rats there), and a thorough search of the now benign mansion; we managed to find a few trinkets to compensate us for our troubles. As we left the building, we found that most of the mangy crows had gone. Some of us wanted to burn the place to the ground, but we were reminded that the sheriff had asked that we not cause any permanent damage to the place that could be avoided. In the end we acquiesced, and returned to Sandpoint.

Grand Lodge

Last night the group received some much needed down time. Having returned late in the evening on Wealday they departed for Magnimar on the following Moonday.

Before they left they finished a great many things.

1. Spent money and sold lots of items during the bi-monthly market day. Including finding an artist that was willing to restore the painting of Iesha Foxglove found in Vorel's Laboratory. Presdigitation could only do so much, but I allowed the use of the spell to lower the DC of Craft: Painting from 25 to 15.

2. Made amends with Ven Vinder by explaining that the killer of their daughter was found and killed by the heroes of Sandpoint. Xandu gave the initial explanation and was able to quickly lower Ven's disposition from Unfriendly to Indifferent with a good Diplomacy check. This allowed the original offender (Uther) the chance to apologize for the predicament he had gotten himself into and to explain that the Heros of Sandpoint were continuing the investigation by heading to Magnimar to remove the person(s) that caused Aldern to kill his daughter. This was helped by rolling a 31 Diplomacy. I gave a bonus of +8 to the roll because of Xandu's roll and the honest explanation that was given by the characters without being to graphic.

3. Took Sheriff Hemlock with them back to the Misgivings to prove that it was in fact Aldern, (to some degree) as the body was rather messed up after tangling with Iesha. They burned all the undead bodies they could find with a rather green looking sheriff and then buried Aldern and Ieshas corpse near the house and then consecrated those grounds as well.

4. Agreed to carry a notice from Hemlock to the House of Lords that explained the death of Aldern Foxglove, which may or may not come back to haunt the party. *evil grin*

The trip to Magnimar was simple and quiet with no encounters.

The arrival to Magnimar allowed for Rikert to reunite with his family who had moved there from Korvosa. Their estate wasn't big enough to allow for the entire group to stay there so from some semi-missguided advice from some guards, the rest of the group went to stay at an inn in the Dockway that was a popular if raucous place. It was also a place that the halfling wizard Ramad was familiar with as his backstory has him from Underbridge.

I had Rikert learn from his family that the local rumors among the semi-elite of Magnimar was that nobles were being murdered. It was all very hush hush, but some nobles would not travel alone in the evenings for fear of being taken.

The other group picked up on similar rumors. Murders in Magnimar happen, but when a murder happens and no one talks about it when they should spoke volumes as to the severity of the crime.

The next day the group spent a little time with Rikerts dad who agreed to help them in the house of lords when he really had no pull, but wanted to get out of the house. He was their source of information about the general location of the Foxglove townhouse. From there the group did a cursory look of the house and its grounds but decided not to enter and instead headed to the Bazaar back in the Dockway. There they unsuccessfully managed to get what they hoped for when selling a few items.

Moxie while trying to learn about the "toughs" that ran protection of the bazaar became a focus of their attention by not shopping and instead standing out as a possible thief. From there Moxie was introduced to Sabriyya Kalmeralm. With some role play she was able to learn that the guards were on alert as of late, and avoiding their attentions was a good thing. She also imparted knowledge that to avoid suspicion while looking at "townhouses" it was best to act like they owned the place. This was their clue to use the keys they had from Aldern to enter into the townhouse without someone alerting the guards.

Xandu being a Varisian was trying to look for other "gypsies" and was rather free with who he was and where he was staying and looking for information on the murders in the area. This may or may not come back to haunt him (and by extension the party) but it could also be a boon. How it is role played will determine that.

We ended the night with the group entering into the townhouse (with its size doubled to account for my über sized group) and the sounds of silverware and dinner plates. As they moved into the house proper and closed the door, the main doors to the dining room opened and the group was surprised to see Aldern and two of the manservants they had met on the boar hunt.

Next week the plot thickens!

Xandu's Journal Entry:
WTF Alderen? No Way!

Let me Back up.

Remember the haunted house? Yeah, like four days ago. The ghoul in the basement, Alderen Foxglove the ghoul, the ghoul of Alderen Foxglove, the undead thing that Alderen Foxglove became. Alderen Foxgloves House. We killed him and set the house right so it wasn't haunted anymore.

Now we come to His estate in Magnamar, we walk in like we own the place and who walks through the dining room door but Alderen FoxgloveThe Living breathing Alderen Foxglove.

Again I got ahead of myself. Let me try again.

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero:

Once back in Sandpoint, we retired to the Rusty Dragon for some much needed baths and refreshment. It is amazing how truly disgusting dealing with undead creatures can be; I fear that I should burn my clothing and start over. Hmmmm, the weather IS getting chillier, and I could use a new coat…

On Oathday morning Zandu, Rikert and I went to see the sheriff, and told him what had transpired at the Misgivings. He asked if we had any proof of our tale, and we offered to accompany him to the house and show him what remained, and he jumped at the chance. Thus, we returned to the catacombs, and gave sheriff Hemlock a guided tour with many horrific visual aids. We decided that we should at least give the remains of Aldern Foxglove and his wife (the revenant) proper burial, and we all pitched in to dig two graves in the side yard of the mansion. Zandu blessed the graves after they were interred, and we all returned to town. The sheriff went so far as to thank us for our service, and said that he did not envy us for what we had faced in the Foxglove Mansion. We also let him know that we had recovered clues that this plague of ghouls seemed to be spilling out of Magnimar, and that we would likely be heading in that direction on Moonday, unless he had a pressing reason for us to remain. Hemlock said that he would be drafting a letter to be delivered to the House of Lords in Magnimar, and asked that we deliver it; we agreed.

The next morning was the Fireday market in Sandpoint, and I had some items that I needed to buy; materials for another pistol and some more cartridges. I let slip at breakfast that I didn’t think I had sufficient funds for the quality of weapon that I desired to build, and Rikert volunteered to put up the shortfall, which was a pleasant surprise. He also allowed that if anyone else needed funds for equipment, he would be happy to help. In the end, we managed to sell some of the trinkets we had on hand and I didn’t need Rikert’s money; I kept it on account nonetheless. I’m sure that in Magnimar I will have ample opportunity to repay the debt.

I spent the remainder of the weekend in crafting a handsome new pistol and replenishing my stock of ammunition; I have become sufficiently practiced at reloading that my rate of fire has significantly increased. While I still cannot fire and reload with a pistol in each hand, I feel that it is wise to have a backup in case of a misfire in a situation where I cannot easily spend the time to repair a single weapon. If our fortunes continue to rise, I might someday have a real brace of pistols. I believe that might make me quite an imposing figure.

Zandu was also busy on the weekend, and told me that he had visited with Ven Vinder at his home and had somehow managed to soften his heart toward us; he mentioned that Mr. Vinder had admitted that if I came to him and apologized personally and agreed to stay away from his remaining daughter that our group would once again have access to his store. So on Moonday morning, I went to the general store with hat in hand and gave my sincere apologies to Mr. Vinder, and agreed to abide by his wishes regarding his daughter. I also pledged that my companions and I would get to the bottom of the matter of his eldest daughter’s murder. While I cannot say that we parted friends, he did say that our company would have a discount for merchandise in his store, and we shook hands as gentlemen. I feel that a great burden has been lifted from me.

Shortly thereafter I retrieved my horse Twilight from the Goblin Squash stables, and we all took the road for Magnimar. Rikert carried the sheriff’s letter in a scroll tube, and Moxie rode behind him. At the end of that day’s journey we came upon an inn, and spent the night in relative comfort, though the fare was not in any way equal to that we had grown accustomed to at the Rusty Dragon. Still, we had a roof and a fireplace rather than the open sky and our bedrolls on a blustery fall evening.

The end of an uneventful second day’s travel brought us to the north gates of the city of Magnimar; the largest city I have seen since leaving Cassomir. Rikert and I located a seemingly reputable stable and arranged for our horses for the next week, and he went to seek his parents estate; the rest of us went looking for an inn. A city guard was kind enough to inform us that the lodgings in that part of town were quite expensive, and that we might be “looked down upon,” and so directed us to the Old Fang Inn near the town docks. The atmosphere was quite raucous, and the fare was filling if uninspiring to the palate. Ramad was recognized by the proprietor (to his amazement, I think), and we spent the night in only moderate discomfort (Lynn, on the other hand, vowed not to spend another night or farthing in such pedestrian accommodations. Perhaps his delicate pointy ears were offended by the sea chantys of the sailors).

We had all heard rumors of unusual murders and mutilations happening in town, and that it was unsafe to be on the streets at night; we decided that strangers asking too many questions about such things would likely come under unwelcome scrutiny. The next morning, Rikert arrived at the inn early and we went to scout the Foxglove townhouse. While asking directions, it came to light that the place had been boarded up Moonday afternoon—disturbing timing, that. We took a look at the place, and thought to conduct what business we might and decide on a plan of action. We stopped by Rikert’s parent’s home, and his father accompanied us to the House of Lords to deliver the letter from Sandpoint, and we then stopped at a café and talked with the elder Mr. Krupt (Rikert’s family name. Korvosan, you know). We were able to glean some information as to the political workings of Magnimar, but our tales of the goings-on in Sandpoint seemed to disturb the old man, and he soon took his leave. We headed for the bazaar to sell our trinkets.

The bazaar was quite remarkable, but we were unable to get what we considered a fair value for what we had, even after haggling with various merchants for most of the afternoon. While Ramad, Rikert and I were about that, Moxie conducted some business of her own, and when we gathered had come up with a remarkable plan for infiltrating the Foxglove townhouse (and saving us some money to boot): since Rikert and I could more-or-less impersonate a noble bearing, we would simply walk up to the place (the front door remained unboarded) and use one of the keys that she had acquired at the Misgivings! I liked the audacity of the plan and the others seemed game, so we suited action to words and entered the house without incident.

As we stepped in the front door, Rikert turned and locked it behind us. I then heard a clinking as of dinnerware from an adjoining room, and no sooner looked to that door than it was thrown open, and the (living) man we had known as Aldern Foxglove stood there before us, two of his manservants still seated in the dining room beyond. “Gentlemen!” he exclaimed in surprise, “do come in!” Think fast, think fast...

I loved the rest and it was necessary. Oathday and Fyreday went according to plan. I found the items I was looking for. Some of the group took Hemlock back out to the Foxglove manor to show him what we’d found and done. They buried the bodies. I stayed in town, went back down to Cracktooth’s Tavern to enjoy some performances and wine before returning to the Rusty Dragon for evening meals on Oathday. Fyreday found me successfully shopping for some items. With winter coming on, I needed some warmer clothing and boots and cloak. My armor needed an upgrade also. All things considered, I felt pretty good.

We had a couple items that we couldn’t sell for what we wanted in Sandpoint and the group wanted to follow the clues we found or got from Foxglove. So Moonday we were off to Magnamar. About halfway there was a very common inn. We spent the night and were back on the road the next morning.

We arrived in Magnamar late the next evening and were directed to a dock area inn. Rikert went to his family’s house and we found out that Barus was from a part of Magnamar called Underbridge. One night in Iron Fang Inn was enough for me. I am moving to nicer digs for our duration.

There is a huge bazaar each day around the docks and we went there to sell our items. We managed to sell one we’ll try again with the other. Found some good wine and picked up a couple bottles. I need to find a temple.

There are rumors about nobles or rich people being murdered in town. The guards are keeping it quiet, but people are actually upset and concerned. The murders aren’t normal and the bodies have been marked. We don’t know details, but we assume it’s like the murders back in Sandpoint with the bodies marked with the seven point symbol.
With a little help from Rikert’s dad, we found Foxglove’s manor. We decided to try the front door approach. We have keys and we believed one of them will open the manor here in Magnamar. So we went in.

Things were a little odd, since the manor had been boarded up a couple days earlier, so we were a little paranoid. We got to the door and Moxie recommended a specific key. We opened it and went in. Nobody appeared to be watching. We got inside and heard a noise that sounded like silverware on plates. We were prepared to about anything to walk through that door except for Aldern Foxglove, welcoming us to his house like old friends. We all would have sworn we just killed him.

BEHOLD! The City of Monuments!

At the last turn onto the bridge into Sandpoint I gathered myself and anxiously awaited our arrival at the Rusty Dragon Inn. At the quick step, I leapt from the back of the wagon and dashed to my room. Depositing my gear and loot and removing my uppers I made for the bath with a new long shirt and a bottle of wine. Stopping to sneer and stick my tongue out at the puritan members of the troupe, I started pulling my shirt out of my leathers as I skipped off to a hot bath!

After removing the longshirt, I took stock of our recent adventures, from the sawmill murder scene to our return from the Foxglove Manor. We had not faired too bad, other than being chewed upon and man-handled too many times by undead and plague infested foulness. We had come through it mostly intact! It was time to give thanks indeed! Making the sign of Shelyn in the air, I knelt to the floor with hands raised and sang my praise.

(Beautiful Dreamer)
“Eternal Rose, all praise unto you, for bountiful gifts and deliverance too.
We ask for your guidance, in all that we do, to realize the beauty in all you imbue.
Cast loving blessings, to all who have come, admiring the Lady of Chrysanthemums.”

I remained in meditation for a few moments. Then with a smile on my face I made the sign of Shelyn again and finished undressing. I grabbed the bottle of fine wine chilled it with a minor magical affect, removed the stopper with my teeth and took a couple of sips as I slid slowly into the hot water. This was as blissful as the hot bath after thistle top, only made better by a fine bottle of wine. Having consumed the first third of the bottle, I began the bathing ritual, the heat from the water and chill of wine made it very leisurely, very luxurious, and relaxing. I felt knotted muscles melt, relieving the joints and stress from my tense, coiled body. After a couple good scrubs I took a large drink of my wine and then took a couple of palms of the wine and cleansed my face and neck, and repeated the process until every part of me not in the bath was lightly scrubbed down again. I rinsed with the bucket of cold water and scampered for my towel. Sitting from the wooziness of a hot bath and wine, I dried completely. I put on the long shirt, slung the towel over my shoulder, ran my fingers through my hair, grabbed my laundry and remaining wine and sauntered up to my room feeling wondrous!! Initially I took the time to gather my armor and equipment and inspect them for ware and damage. Gathered laundry to be cleaned and then rejoined the troupe below.

The next morning after the romp with my raft of otters I had my arms and armor repaired, cleaned, and well oiled. As for my laundry, I dunked it in a horse trough and gave it a good wringing before taking it to the shop to relieve them of the foulness of undeath received at the “Misgivings”, so as not to punish the good people providing the service. I spent our down time tending to my otters, combing the beach and swimming only during the warmest times of day. Helping serve and clean up and occasionally performing a song or dance in the evenings for the patrons of the Rusty Dragon Inn. I ventured to the Cathedral and presented Fanter Zantus with the stone Desna bookends that Xandu had repaired, and visited the shrine of Shelyn to sing praises to her. On Fyreday I had the nearly ruined painting repaired and managed to sell all of them for a fair price to benefit of the troupe. I grew ever more anxious and excited as the days advanced and we prepared for our expedition to Magnimar. Thankfully the week’s end went by trouble free, and there was much merry making, something we all needed most definitely.

Finally the day arrived and as we prepared Uther , Alone mind you, made his way to Master Vinder’s to make amends. And believe it or not came back with all his teeth and body parts intact and seemed much relieved at mending of their relationship! What a wonderful start to an exciting adventure! So off we went, spending our first night at a road side Inn…not so special…but we tried to liven it up and were off early again to Magnimar the next day. As we approached the City I was amazed at its size and grandeur! Huge stone buildings, people of all stripes, animals, carts and children moving about everywhere. The smells changed from nasty to wondrous with every step, and the noise was constant! Carvings, statues, monuments to hero’s past at every turn, and a beautiful sparkly paved plaza…what a site to behold!

At my peek of excitement I realized…STOP IT!! Just look about and act like the locals, quit acting like a visitor from the back woods!...(Deep breath aaaand sigh!) Reclaiming my bearing I lingered mid troupe with Annie and was fine with the Noble, taller folk do the talking. A guard sent us to the Dock district to an Inn known as the Old Fang, which we found to be a salty sailors dive, though a lively establishment. Ramad was welcomed by name by the proprietor, a large swarthy woman everyone called Ole Ma’am. While quaint in a seafaring, sweaty, fishy, kinda way, It was rather blah as to the fare and accommodations it affords. After a late night and early rise I skipped the breakfast offered and walk briefly in the dawn light to see the tall masted ship lining the piers and watch the sailors single up lines and get under way, or witness the loading or unloading of the big ships, it was fascinating!

We awaited the arrival of Rikert who had stayed the night with his parents who live in Magnimar…who knew!?! Then after a nice breakfast of coffee and honeyed rolls we were again off to the grand Magnimar Bizzarre (SQUEAK!) As we perused the markets I noticed the toughs and what appeared to be their Matron. As I began to watch how they carried themselves it wasn’t long before I was made…and tailed. I approached the toughs and began to inquire about…”my responsibilities.” They took me to the Matron, who introduced herself as Sabriyya. The gracious Lady afforded me the time for a brief inquiry and was very insightful as to the current state of mind throughout the city concerning the sihedron murders locally and the guards attentiveness to such matters. She also explained the best maneuvers to acquire entry to the Foxglove Estate. I thanked her and offered a small token of appreciation for her time and attention…surreptitiously of course! Once the troupe had regrouped I shared my new found information. We formulated a plan and set to it. The plan being simply to go to the Foxglove Estate and walk in like we owned the place, which we did.I checked the street as we entered and saw nothing, yet I felt eyes upon us. So after we gained entry I made my way to the nearest window, which we found had been boarded up not two days after we had cleared the Foxglove Manor and laid Aldern Foxglove’s undead form low. At which point we heard the clinking of silver and flat ware as if a house servant had just cleared a table or someone had risen from dinner. The doors opened as the troupe gazed about the entrance and I could feel the tension in the air thicken to a crisp as the now evident stretch of leather and link sounded just before a familiar voice rang out…WELCOMING US TO HIS HOME…(HARD SWALLOW!! HEART POUNDING!! EDGADS!!) What to say!!?!! What have we done!!?!? What do we do now???...(SHUT UP AND RESIGN FROM SIGHT YOU IDIOT!!!)

Grand Lodge

Last night the group started up where we left off in stunned silence as a very convincing Aldern Foxglove seemed generally surprised at having guests enter his town home and invited them all in to eat. Instead of having it be Aldern and Iesha as the AP suggests, I had it be Aldern and the two manservants from the boar hunt (the third manservant having already been killed where they found the key to the Foxglove manor).

Several of the members went into the dining area and sat down as the manservants brought out more food, while others lingered around the double doors leading into the dining area.

Because of my army of players I doubled the size of the town house and increased the difficulty by adding 1 Faceless stalker (all with max health).

General banter and roleplay began with the group trying to get Aldern to crack under their questions but the disguise skill was to difficult to see through. There only true clue that something was wrong (other than the fact they were talking with Aldern) was that the food was described as cooked by someone who didn't know how to cook. Since the creatures don't eat normal food the fare was described as having been cooked by a bachelor who had never cooked anything before in their life.

It was then that the two manservants made their move. Aldern seated at the head of the table did not open with any attacks. The one thing I forgot was to use their reach on the opening attack, so poor Lyn took two swords and two grabs. I rolled a crit with one and grabbed (with CON drain) and rolled a miss with everything on the other.

At this point all hell broke loose and a good and creepy encounter ensued. Stupid alchemist and his stupid poison. :) Moxie had poisoned the Aldern stalker with a STR drain poison and DC 21 Fort was not easy to make, the continued loss of STR made him rather ineffective for the rest of the encounter. Not to mention the fact that I forgot they could change shape and gain a morale bonus on attacks and damage. On the plus side the subtle changes of broadening and creepy smiles as they attacked effectively creeped out the group.

They then spent the next hour pouring over the house looking for clues and finding none. Even though I kept mentioning the "extravagant" fireplace on the third floor, no one looked at it until Moxie said she was going to look at all the fireplaces.

Because of the fight, spells and of course several shots from the gunslinger an alarm was raised. So the group was quick to note that the appearance of flickering lights from windows showed a large contingent of town guard standing outside the town house.

The plan here for me was because of the note from the sheriff to the house of lords alerting them of Foxgloves death, Xandu asking about the murders near the bazaar of sails and directing any info to be sent to where he was staying, AND a ruckus coming from the town house, the Lord Mayor arrived but stayed in one of the wagons. All the descriptions tell that he is rather sharp of mind and not an idiot, and in dire straits with important people being killed (including his friends) and the city on the verge of panic. His plan was to arrest the party to find out what they knew and throw them in the hells. If they were the ones causing the murders then all was good for Magnimar, but as it turns out, the party is looking for the murderers as well.

The lord mayor seizes this chance to end his problem and convinces them to help, rather forcefully. The party was to be taken to the Hells to wait until dark when they would be released. It would be announced that the murderers were caught and taken to the Hells. They would continue their investigation and pass any info on what they find to the guard captain that arrested them. This makes the party realize that their time in Magnimar isn't for sight seeing and that they need to follow up on the clues learned at the town house.

We ended the evening with the group spending the next day selling equipment in the morning, looking in on Pugs Contraptions and questioning the halfling there. And the early evening was spent watching the Seven Sawmill for any activity.

I think keeping Iesha out was a brilliant move -- I read your players' posts, and was ecstatic at the universal, "What the heck?!?!" response.

My group saw Aldern and Iesha, the paladin immediately Detected Evil on Aldern, and the fight started. Very anticlimactic. Especially since the attackers decided that fumbling multiple times was an effective combat technique...

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero, Hero of Sandpoint:

“Gentlemen,” Aldern said, “do come in!” Lynn, Freiderich and I obliged, followed by Annie, the others gathering near the dining room doors. “Aldern” called to his servants to bring more food, and I remarked on the boarded-up house. “Ah yes, well I’m sure you’ve heard about the ‘incidents’ in town. Can’t be too safe.” “You mean the mutilations? Yes, we’ve heard the rumors,” I said. Aldern blanched, “I hadn’t heard about that; I just heard there were nobles being murdered.” As his men returned with plates and platters of food, I mentioned that we wouldn’t have thought of barging in as we had if the door hadn’t been ajar. Aldern allowed that he was rather certain it had been locked, when Lynn let out a startled yelp; one of Aldern’s servants had stabbed him through the shoulder, grown a tentacle, and had latched onto Lynn’s neck and was sucking his blood!

The fight was on, long before we had managed to learn any of the information I wanted. Lynn managed to retreat under the table as Zandu moved in to engage the two “servants” who rapidly changed into grinning freaks. I backpedalled to the nearest corner and began blazing away, as Ramad came into the room casting. Annie, Friederich and Moxie (I think, I kept losing track of people at that end of the room) engaged with “Aldern” who was literally grinning from ear to ear, and with far too many teeth that were much too long and sharp. Lynn, Annie and Friederich were badly hurt before the fight had really begun, but we managed to end it in relatively short order.

Certain that the noise of battle had aroused the locals, we made a hasty search of the house but found nothing until Moxie was able to use one of the keys we had discovered in the other Foxglove mansion. In the compartment revealed, we found a deed to the manor on the coast, a ledger with some interesting recent entries, and a small fortune in platinum pieces. Before we had time to give these items more than a cursory glance, there came a banging on the front door; the city guards had come in force, and the house was surrounded. Rikert and I sprinted for the door with the key, with Lynn and Ramad on our heels. Rikert opened the door, we took in the situation (or at least I did), and the imperious captain at the door demanded that we step out and surrender our weapons. In the face of some forty heavily armed guards, I was inclined to simply do as he demanded; Rikert was not. I couldn’t believe my ears as he started mouthing off to the captain! Had no one ever told him that one simply does NOT talk to the guards? “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir.” The captain was rapidly losing patience, and was on the verge of ordering a beat-down that would have included us all, when I stage-whispered to my paladin companion to shut up and do as he was told.

We were quickly relieved of our weapons (though not searched), and we four were conducted to one of the waiting paddy wagons. Already inside were another guard and a hooded and cloaked individual. I was sure that though we had done nothing wrong, we might still be locked up in the Hells; it would be best if we simply held our silence and claimed innocence; we had defended ourselves when set upon by monsters and nothing more. It only remained to be seen whether we would get a bit of the mailed fist in payment for Rikert’s insolence first.

The guards quickly rousted the rest of the group into the other wagon, and as we began our journey the hooded man revealed himself to be a local bigwig. He introduced himself as the Lord-Mayor (a fellow that Rikert’s father had only that morning extolled for being highly intelligent), and he explained to us that we were to be made scapegoats for the recent murders. He had in hand the letter from sheriff Hemlock regarding Aldern Foxglove’s death, and demanded to know what we had been doing in the Foxglove manor. At that time, my plan of silence went out the window, and we claimed to have information that the incidents in Magnimar seemed to be related to similar incidents in Sand Point. While dismissive of the general troubles Sand Point had recently suffered, he seemed impressed that we had as much or more knowledge of the situation as he and his guards had; it was then that he showed his true shrewdness. He acknowledged that we were in a unique position to assist Magnimar, in that we were eminently expendable. If we agreed to find the perpetrators of the local murders and keep the guard captain informed, we would be released from the Hells in a few hours. The news would be let out that arrests had been made in order to calm the populace, and we would be allowed to continue our investigation. The not so veiled threat was that if there were more murders, we would shortly find ourselves returned to the Hells. With that, the Lord-Mayor disembarked and we continued our ride to gaol.

Once ensconced in the guard-captain’s office in the Hells and our equipment restored, we were able to reassure our comrades from the other wagon that we would be free to continue our investigations, but that the sand was running through the hourglass. The captain was cordial enough, even to offering us refreshment, and once darkness fell, we were released. We found an Inn, and spent the night laying and discarding plans.

The next morning found us once again at the bazaar, and this time we were able to get a fair price for our unneeded items. Along with the platinum from Foxglove’s stash, we were fairly rolling in coin. We then headed west through town to the islet where the deed we had found indicated that the Brotherhood of the Seven had a business in the form of the Seven Sawmill. Finding nothing remarkable there in the middle of the day, we headed on to check out Pug’s Contraptions, the maker whose mark had been on a cage (holding two plague-rats) in the Misgivings. The owner was quite an amiable Halfling, and readily recalled that he had constructed “a couple of dozen” such cages for Aldern Foxglove about three weeks prior. Once outside, I remarked that Magnimar might just be having a plague in the not-too-distant future, in addition to the other troubles; another indication that time was running out.

As the afternoon melded into evening, we found some likely places from which we could watch the Seven Sawmill. We knew from the ledger entries that Aldern had made payments at the place each Oathday at midnight (last night, drat!) so we resolved to wait and see if anything untoward happened. Interestingly, we saw not a single living being working the sawmill; as the afternoon ended and all the other workmen in the area headed home, no one left the Seven Sawmill, even though the log-rollers stopped delivering raw materials to the chutes…

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As the troupe filed into “Aldern’s” dining room (SPIDER WEB!!) I advance unseen down the right side of the table slowly. A sly conversation was thrown back and forth until Xandu spit out that he had buried Aldern Foxglove four days hence….(Really,?!?!? Give a girl a chance to work here!!)…then all hell broke loose. Lynn seated at the table was skewered through a chair back, tentacle grappled and throat bit from a tongue leachy thing from one of the “man servants” bringing poorly cooked food from the kitchen…(YIKES!) Then I was momentarily locked if fright as “Aldern” advanced down the right side of the table and with an unnatural sickly deviant smile, attacked Annie who stood at the table just behind me to the left. (Whew!) Now I took my advantage creeping behind the beastly Foxglove and shanked the creature to the hilt soundly. Sadly the blow was not as effective as it might have been but the purple worm poison took hold and started to work its magic on “Aldern”. Friederick engaged and was assailed by tentacle and sucker as well to some effect, but honestly, being fully visible again my attention was fully on the creature to know for certain how Friederick was faring. Striking again I but nicked the creature however the poisonous effect seemed to increase as the creatures blows seemed to weaken. Having applied my work with “Aldern” I tumbled from the creature to advance in secret on one of the two “man servant” creatures. Unfortunately my attempted strike failed but Lynn and I had a tactical advantage, at least for a moment. Thankfully Uther laid the one of the “man servant” creatures low with a report from his percussion wand. Ramad took down “Aldern”. At which point I suddenly found myself grappled with a tongue leach sucking the very life from my body. Thankfully again the creature was laid low and let loose of me.

Recovering from the leaching, I watched the initial morphing of the creatures to their true form, ugly and nasty things. Finding my ears ringing from the multiple reports of Uther’s percussion wand and knowing the magic cast provided for some form of light show, I raced to a boarded window to sneak a peek and see how much attention we had attracted. I was unable to see anything from my perspective and felt a need to find what we could before an inquiry came. I searched the main floor with Uther, finding nothing, while the troupe scoured the rest of the house. Then I remembered there were two keys collected for the Foxglove/Magnimar Estate. The Opal bowed key opened the doors, the need for the long shanked, copper, lion’s head key was as yet unrealized. The troupe came back down and told the top floor had a fancier décor. (Hmm?) I went to the top floor and looked about. On the ornate fireplace was a sculpted lion’s head, and low and behold, a hole matching the key. I called for the keys and unlocked a secret compartment in which we found a hoard of platinum (!!!) a box of legal papers and a ledger! A quick perusal found a curios document with an official seal. As I read it I found it to be an important clue in our investigation and told Rikert to collect the troupe. When all were present I read the document aloud and then checked the ledger and found entries for recent significant payments to B7 on Wealday at midnight at the Seven Sawmill. No sooner than we had found our next step in the investigation then there was a pounding at the front doors. I immediately stowed the platinum in Friedericks haversack…wow that’s a nice bag!! I took the papers and hid them on my person and went to the rear windows on the second floor and found guards waiting with spears and torches in the court yard…(%&#@!!) hearing a rather forceful demand to surrender our arms and descend immediately, I acquiesced and told the guard I demanded the return of MY keys in my property!

Yaa, looks like the gallows for a gnome at sunrise was all I could see of my future at this point. I had some presence to pull a hood over my head before I exited the Foxglove Estate. Oh looky a carriage ride!! Ugh!! So off to prison we went, how degrading! I believe the gallows would be a fine alternative to obscurity in a big city prison! Upon our arrival we were shoved into an…office??? Maybe to hold us for interrogations, or simple processing. Then Uther, Rikert, Ramad and Lynn all assured us things were better than they seemed and to just be patient. The Capt. of the Guard offered refreshments, and brought all our gear and weapons. After realizing our good fortune I inquired about the recent murders to see what, if anything the good Captain might know…nothing new. With a full stummy and a cat nap we waited until just before the dawn to be released and sent back into the world to solve our mystery. Mention was made of the Highlord Mayor and some cover story as long as we solved the mystery sooner than later or some such.

Leaving the prison we made our way to the Bizarre where we finally managed to move the last of our items for a fair price. I also took a moment to approach Sabriyya and inquire whether she could help in identifying the name Xanesha…possibly a poor decision…but worth a try, however nothing did she share. We shopped a bit more and landed in Pug’s Contraptions. A shop on the Isle of sawmills and the craftsman who made the cage for holding rats at the Foxglove Manor. In brief conversation we learned he had crafted numerous cages and sent them to the Manor some three weeks hence…that is a lot of nasty yuckified rat!! Trying to kill a tree full of birds with a single fireball, I purchased a small figurine that most resembled Ameiko and asked for it to be delivered to her with a greeting from Magnimar at the Rusty Dragon Inn in Sandpoint. As the day passed we strolled the area checking out the sawmills. The amount and degree of automation through the use of the water wheel was impressive. We settled in on the one we wished to observe and found no one left the mill at the end of the day, as would be normal, and was so for other establishments…Huh?? This should prove all too interesting….and painful!!

Ok, what to do what to do. We were stunned and needless to say, weary. He invited us in to join him for dinner, after a short conversation. We mentioned the murders and mutilations and he paled, reacting much like the Aldern we all knew would. Not wanting to be rude, some of us joined him at the table. His servants were bringing out food, and that’s when the fight started.

The two servants were behind me and they attacked. I was stabbed and grappled. Before we could react I was attacked again and nearly dead. I broke free and used the chair as a shield in addition to improving my own defense. The others joined the fray. Their disguises discarded, they were some sort of shape changing creatures called ugothol, not Aldern and his man servants.

Zandu did a healing burst and I felt a little better and went on the attack. I was unable to hit the foul creature that continued attacking me, but I kept him occupied while other party members continued attacking. Uther fired several shots, which alerted the neighbors to the fight. We finally dispatched the three aberrations and started searching the house. We noticed several people watching the house and figured we had very little time.

To sum up, Moxie found a hiding spot with some cash and a deed with a journal. We read the deed and found that the Foxglove family was in bed with the Brothers 7. Whoever they are. That was all the time we had as the guard finally showed up and started beating on the door. We were taken into custody. The wagon I was in, had the Lord Mayor in disguise and he started asking questions about who we were and what we were doing.

Uther, the hafling, and I were in the wagon and we told him everything we knew. He found us to be truthful that we were following a trail of murders form Sandpoint to here and all we wanted was to find the person behind it. He basically saw us as an easy, expendable group to lead the investigation without losing any of his guards. We were kept for a few hours and released after dark to start our investigation.

We found a new inn and split up the money. I am going to go find my temple.

Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae

Following the unpleasantness in Sandpoint, the trip to Magnimar felt like a refreshing change. It was good to finally visit the city where my family had established their new home and lives.

Magnimar itself is a grandiose place filled with ancient ruins and statues. Upon our arrival, we spoke briefly with some town guards who recommended an inn farther along near the docks. At this time, I told the party that I needed to stop by my family's estate since I had not visited them here previously, and in fact, it had been nearly two years since I had seen them.

My parents were surprised and pleased by my unannounced arrival, and I spent the night with them after introducing them to my friends before they left for the inn. I explained to my parents that we were in town following up on the events and murders in Sandpoint. My parents told me that there had been a recent string of murders in Magnimar, all of which involved wealthy families and nobles. They told me how most nobles refused to travel alone now at night in fear for their lives.

These murders seemed to me to be a strange coincidence considering their timing. I have a feeling that our investigation here may uncover a link between the murders in Sandpoint and the killings of nobles in Magnimar.

The following morning, the party traveled with me and my father to present the letter from the sheriff to the local authorities. We ate lunch with my father and then headed on to the market to sell some items before investigating the local Foxglove manor. We were surprised to find the local manor recently boarded up and apparently empty.

I took a break from the party and visited the Church of Iomedae, where I introduced myself to the high priestess. I told her of our investigation into the murders and she provided me with additional information about the local killings. After a brief conversation, I gave her a gift of gold for the local church, and made my way back to join the party.

Early that evening, we went back to the Foxglove manor and entered it with the key we recovered from Aldern. We were shocked to find it occupied by an apparently healthy Aldern and two of his servants who were just sitting down to dinner. We were immediately distrustful of this obvious impostor since we had recently killed his undead form back in Sandpoint.

It didn't take long for the hoax to unwind as the trap was quickly sprung. Aldern and his men were in fact some foul creatures that used magic to impersonate others. The fight was over quickly, but Lynn and a few of the others were wounded in the melee. I helped heal those in need, and we then proceeded to search the manor. It wasn't long until our attention was drawn by a loud pounding on the front door that marked the arrival of the local authorities.

Following a terse encounter we eventually allowed ourselves to be detained rather than risk spilling the blood of the locals in a clash with the city guard. We were separated into smaller groups and led to wagons for transport to the local prison, a place charmingly named The Hells. Within the wagon, we found a robed figure who questioned us about our purpose in Magnimar, and then revealed himself to be the Lord-Mayor of Magnimar himself. We discussed the events that had led us here, and he told us he would allow our investigation to continue in hope that we would end the string of murders that were terrorizing the local nobles. We agreed to his terms, and he offered us what help he had available should we need it.

We continued on to the prison to complete the ruse of our arrest, and were eventually freed after a few hours and allowed to leave under the cover of darkness. We retired to our beds for some well deserved rest, and then met again the next morning to sell more goods at the bazaar. We then followed up on the additional leads we had yet to pursue, and set up watch on the Seven Sawmill which was the next location in our investigation.

Grand Lodge

Well . . . how to start? First off I doubled the size of the map, so a 5' square was a 10' square which worked great for the party of 8 players.

Last night the group decided to camp out and watch the Seven Sawmill to see if anything or anyone would come by. They decided to go in at midnight, on Oathday. Huh, look at that Sermons are held on Oathday at midnight. Sooooooo increased CR encounter it is. Because of the vast quantities of players I had increased the total body count of all the normal encounters by 1 and left them at their normal HPs. Only Ironbriar was at max health.

The group was sans Moxie for the night and the player who had the chime of opening wasn't there yet when they started. So with a Silence spell on Uthers pistol they broke the doors down to get in, starting on the lowest level first, this room like the ground floor and two floors above them were empty of people and dark.

As they moved around the building slowly looking at everything and checking each floor before moving higher they began to notice the sounds of a "sermon." They also noticed lights coming from the top most floor through the opening near the stairs.

Just as the group was split up on the second floor a horrid scream of pain broke the otherwise quiet sermon. The scream of pain was a "victim" that Ironbriar was carving a rune into. This scream spurred them into action and we went in an initiative order, the cultists got a monster high roll and went on 24 just after Xandu.

Xandu wanting to heal the victim to ruin the ritual had run upstairs so his head and upper torso could see the room full of cultists and Ironbriar. Ironbriar then rolled stupid high on his perception and noticed Xandu. Screaming "interlopers" the fight was on. Giving all the cultists only a standard action for pseudo-surprise they all cast Shield of Faith.

The group panicked when Xandu said they were all clerics, after making his spellcraft check and realizing what they had done. Ironbriar cast Invisibility and then spent the next few rounds self buffing and summoning in a dretch.

The fight though was intense. The damage output on the party wasn't spectacular but when they could flank they did. Most of the fight took place on the stairs so flanking was difficult. Uther was the biggest threat upstairs because when he pulled the trigger he was doing 20+ damage per opening shot which was killing the 21 HP cultist. So they flanked the crap out of him, and I had several good rolls for damage (almost max) even though all the cultists were debuffed with Prayer from Xandu. I took him to 0 wounds and then Ironbriar channeled because he was facing a mirror imaged magus and Xandu (even though he did have back up of two cultists as well) and did 12 damage which Uther failed his save and took it all. Failing his Fort save after this, he bled out and died.

Eventually they dropped the group of cultists and Ironbriar, saved the "victim" and began to immediately discuss what they would do with Uthers pistols since they were worth a lot of money. "When you die can I have your stuff?" :D

Next week we will continue from there as they investigate the remainder of the Seven Sawmill.

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The Yondabakkari and Me

We settled on a plan of attack. Xandu would place a silencing affect upon Uther and we would advance through the mill as quickly as possible until we found ourselves neck deep in combat or the affect ran it’s course. Then we return to a normal sneak about for the rest of the job. We walked to the sublevel entrance where I attempted to ascertain whether it presented any harmful intent. Finding none, I worked on the locked door and found it exceedingly difficult. Meanwhile the troupe had gathered around and Xandu began his application to Uther’s percussion wand. Finally I relented to the brute force approach to the door and backed away in defeat.

I sat upon the pier railing in frustrated silence. One by one the troupe advanced on the door. Rikert paused in front of me briefly to allow others to proceed before him. As he turned to the back of the troupe he drew his sword quickly. As he did the scabbard raised causing me to lean from its arc…and lose my balance, plunging head long into the Yondabakkari River…at night…with winter advancing!!

Interestingly, most of my fall was quiet. I heard only the briefest moment of my scream before splashing into the cold, dark water. It is not advised to swim the Yondabakkari by night! At least not in the milling area as the current quickly pulls you seaward beneath the raw uncut timber. Another important safety tip for night time swimming in a pier environment…with a current, keep your hands in front of you as you glide along. The moon and stars do not cast shadows as effectively as the sun and the hands provide the warning the forehead needs to avoid pier columns. While pushing down from the timbers, and with a hand out in front I finally breached the surface after clearing the mill and swam vigorously toward the shore until I noticed a low brick wall which I decided was to tall and difficult to scale from the river’s current.

Needing to remove myself from the cold waters of the Yondabakkari, I scanned down river for the quickest opportunity to make my exit. A small boat dock and shipbuilders slipway appeared to be my least, worst option so off I swam. With arms and legs feeling the cold, the slipway was my best bet as my hands were beginning to numb. I made my way from the river through the mud and sand on hands and knees up the slipway and onto the street. Pouring water from my boots in seclusion I watched the street for activity. Figuring I could warm myself and still assist the troupe, I resigned from sight and made haste up river, along the cobblestone road back to the Seven’s Mill. Upon my arrival I found our entry still ajar. I slipped in and made my way through the mill slowly. I was none to satisfied with all the squishing and dripping as I left a trail through the mill, but I had to regain the troupe! The noise from the water wheel and its associated mechanics were truly impressive and very effective at muffling footfalls and squishing. In fact it was hard to make out anything over the mill’s operating wheels and gears. Then the crack, muffled as it was, of Uthers percussion wand was a distinct oddity amongst the mill’s operation. I felt it was coming from a higher level than I was on and peered up the staircase. I managed to get a good grip on a dagger with a cold hand as I climbed to the next level slowly. As I looked higher in the mill I saw flashes from the release of magic with the muffled sound of combat and the occasional bark of a percussion wand. I scrambled as quickly as my muddy, water logged legs would carry me, only to arrive after the conclusion of hostilities.

Apparently some dozen of a razor wielding death cult had been knee deep in a ritual, but the troupe had rescued the intended sacrificial victim and laid low the death cult! Some troupe members were grievously injured, others untouched. I had thought all were still serviceable until it was spoken that someone witnessed Uther take a lethal blow. (GASP!!) With muddy- daggered hand covering my mouth, I breathed “NO!!” With the smell of his percussion wand’s smoke still hanging in the air, it pained me to know that this would be the last time his “PISTOHL” would shatter the calm and to see yet another of the original Sandpoint Hero’s cut down. He will not get the opportunity to complete the adventurous life he hoped, following his uncles example. At least he made his peace with Vin Vender before…(tears)…passing. I made the sign of Shelyn in the air and sat by Uther’s side holding his hand and cried while humming a hymn. I silently asked for his safe passage to his final destination and then did my best to clean him up and make him as presentable as possible. I wonder, whether he would have desired to be laid to rest with Barus and Lucien?

(1) Aw, man! I liked Uther! And I was looking forward to how a gunslinger would proceed through RotRL!

(2) OK, Moxie. Single...most...brilliant...absentee...writeup...EVER!!!!!

Grand Lodge

Yep, his death was a shock. I don't pull punches other than I will allow for some saves to keep a player alive. For example, his CON was 12 and the damage from the Channel was 12 so I gave him a Fort DC 22 save to stay alive. Not easy but technically its supposed to be a CON check not a Fort save. It did suck but my damage dice did not like him. I kept maxing out damn near on every roll against him, while others it was almost non-existant, especially with Prayer killing 1 point. Of course he was the only one I was really flanking other than Xandu.

And yes, Moxie, that was awesome.

OH!! AVATAR OF SHELYN!(delicate and graceful deep scraping bow)..and Noble Harm,(curtsy...wave!) Greetings on this most eventful day. Indeed, the loss of Uther is tragic for our troupe...(wiping away mud and sand)... we must hope we few can manage without him. As for my misfortune, I am glad it provided you some amusement! (wry smile...giggle!)

Uther Eld, Taldorian Pistolero, Hero of Sandpoint. RIP

No regrets, Uther was out there with only Freiderich nearby, and took down five of those buggers in four rounds of firing. They couldn't ignore that, they had to mob him.

Apparently my god will have to wait. The party decided to go to the lumber mill and watch the comings and goings. Nobody did either. Sometime around midnight we broke in. Zandu used a silence spell and they had to break down the door as Moxie wasn’t there to pick the lock. They moved in and I stayed back until the silence passed by me then I and Ramad moved in. We searched through the lowest level and found there was no way up, just a bunch of water wheels and gears.

We went around to the next level and same protocol, silence followed by breaking in the door. Again I and Ramad hung back to allow the spell to get away from us. The lower three levels were clear of people, at least that we found, but up we went and we heard voices on the top level, chanting, ritual like, then a scream.

Up we went without really knowing what we were going into. Apparently, they had captured another noble and were carving on him. The fight commenced.

There were 13 of them or so and the main guy vanished right before our eyes and so did I. My initial thought was to join the combat, but things evolved so quickly that I decided to go after the big guy, whoever that was. It took a couple round of maneuvering, and I wasn’t very quick to react, but just as I was about to move to the wounded guy, right beside he the leader appeared, and attacked Zandu. So I returned the favor. A new spell delivered through my scimitar resulted in a little damage and a little added frustration was when he finally decided to attack me he couldn’t decide which one to hit as the mirror images were there to protect me. It took several rounds and some help from others, but he finally fell along with the other evil doers. Apparently during the combat, Uther killed several and was mobbed and killed as well. The party will miss his firepower in combat. I have personal feelings toward his demise that I will keep to myself.

We need to search the mill before we leave and hope we have time before anyone shows up. The recently saved should be able to attest to his rescue and maybe there are more clues leading us further up the chain.

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Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae

Under the cover of darkness, we made our way forward to the mill's lower level. Using Uther's pistol to shatter the lock on the door under the cover of magical silence provided our entrance. As we worked our way through the lower levels of the mill, we found only churning gears and pulleys endlessly turning and grinding as the water wheels used the river's current to power the mill.

Our search of the lower levels proved fruitless, and led us to try again at the main entrance farther up. Here we struggled with the doors, but eventually forced them open and found ourselves in a large room with wagons and equipment for moving and loading the cut timber. Once again, this area was empty, so we continued up to the next level using a set of stairs along the wall near the entrance. This level also was unoccupied, so we spread out to search the workshop area where the large saws were located. As the druid and I led the way into the workshop, some of the others moved to another set of stairs leading to the top level. At this time, a shriek of pain from somewhere above us started a headlong charge to the upper level. Unfortunately, myself and some of the others who were more suited to lead the charge into combat were located farthest from the stairs. This created a poor tactical situation where we found ourselves entering combat in a reverse order, with the spell casters and the other lightly armored members leading while the rest of us ran to catch up.

Upon reaching the stairs, I could tell from the sounds above that the battle was already well under way. As I started up the stairs I immediately ran into a pair of cultists and moved to engage them in combat. They proved to be only a minor hindrance to my progress, but during the time I fought though them, a foul demonic creature was magically summoned in the room above. The aberration oozed corruption and a terrible smell emanated from it. The smell was so strong that many of my allies found themselves sickened and struggling to function within the cloud near the creature.

Steeling myself against the overwhelming stench and calling on the divine power of Iomedae, I charged the creature and struck it down in a single great blow from my sword. Upon the creature's death, the smell seemed to instantly fade, and my stricken comrades were able to quickly shake off the nausea that had affected them. At this point, the tide of the battle seemed to turn in our favor as more of us reached the top of the stairs and engaged the enemy.

The carnage in the upper room was terrible to behold. Cultists and party members fought and bled in a wild melee. The leader of the cultists was trapped between Lynn and Xandu, and being attacked mercilessly by both of them. He responded by channeling multiple bursts of dark magic which washed over us like cold, prickly waves that sucked the life from you. It was here, near the end of the fight that Uther went down. As we despatched the remaining cultists, we found the victim whose screams had brought us to the battle. He was still alive, and suffering from cuts to his chest where the cultists had begun to carve their symbol into his flesh.

I checked on the survivors and then spent several moments attending to Uther. Alas, he was beyond our abilities and had passed on to whatever reward or fate awaited him. He was a good man who had chosen to fight for what is right, and I know that we will miss his steady presence and the deadly blasts of his pistols in future battles.

Grand Lodge

Last night was a light night for the group.

We spent the first part of the evening with the group going over the bodies of the now dead cultists and the body of Ironbriar for loot. Spending time looking about the upper level they found the journal/log of Ironbriar but could tell that it was going to take time to decipher the code. Moving to the rookery they found the messenger ravens and discussions about what message they should send started. Eventually they realized that sending a message wasn't needed, but they could follow the raven by releasing it. It was also about the time they realized that releasing a "black" raven at 1 a.m. would be difficult to watch.

So in the morning before releasing a raven and with Ramad ready with a Fly spell to follow the bird the snow druid Sheldor cast Speak with Animals. Sadly the only thing that was going through my head were the sea gulls from Finding Nemo. So instead of "mine?" they repeated "more?" in terms of the food the druid also fed them while asking questions.

Once their questions were answered Ramad cast flight and Sheldor convinced the raven to fly to the snake lady tower and then come back with a Handle Animal check. So out comes the calculator. I figure that the tower is roughly 6,000+ feet from the Seven Sawmill and flying at 40' a round (raven speed) that it would take a smidge over 15 min to get there. Doing that made me think that a DC 20 spot to see a raven go to the Shadow Clock seemed a wee bit low. I wish I could see that good.

Ramad's spell lasted only 6 min and he had one more prepared before he had to drop to a roof and watch the bird go on to a very familiar sight. Ramad took the Underbridge Dweller trait and was familiar with the area.

At this point Ramad runs off to The Hells to find the guard captain they agreed to notify when they learned about the murders and to take him to the Sevens Sawmill. Lynn grabbed some guards on patrol in the area around the Seven Sawmill and asked them to also get the guard captain from The Hells. So we had some good role-play interactions here.

The group then started discussing about what to do with the masks. Masks that they "knew" what they did because I read the description to them. I told them that the Charisma loss on whoever wore the mask was not important because I knew someone would put one on. Faint evil aura or not. Its human nature. Thats when the group had a mini debate about money versus putting evil items on the market. So a few greed tick marks later, Xandu convinced everyone that they should be destroyed and that the Rikert's church of Iomedae would be the best place to take them. So as the book reads, they were given half their total value in gold for their destruction. (I let them slide on selling the mask Aldern wore because I forgot to mention that it had an evil aura to it.)

They decided to spend the next seven days deciphering the journal (players rolled a 7 on 2d4) of Ironbriar. They then spent the first part of the next day going to individual monuments and gaining a few boons before they journeyed to the Shadow Clock.

I admit that I was a little worried about this first encounter because the Scarecrow is . . . well, a beast. Once again, I doubled the size of the map, which made the lower level freggin huge, but would make the upper levels easier to navigate with so huge a group. I also gave the Scarecrow max health. Well it started like I feared it might, a charge attack on Sheldor did 20+ points of damage. This thing is always going to Power Attack. The scary moment was when I rolled a 20 on Xandu. Thankfully I rolled a 4 on my confirm roll and didn't do 8d6+68 on the Cleric. At that point Rikert was doing substantial damage after DR and the removal of magic damage.

The Scarecrow then focused his attacks on Rikert since he was the biggest threat, but my dice left me. I couldn't roll higher than an 8 for 4 rounds of combat. I'd get an occasional hit now and then from his reach and Attacks of Opportunity but I could do nothing at that point. The last round of combat, the Scarecrow went from 37 to waaaay below 0 when a now Hasted Rikert got two crits while Power Attacking.

We ended the evening with the group partially up the stairs and breathing heavy from the fight. I sooooo wanted to hit a few more times. Pucker factor 10 moments are so rare and should be enjoyed.

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Whose not ready, and why am I waiting…tap,tap,tap!

“Thump, thump, thump, I didn’t kill any of these heathens…why am I draggin’ em down the stairs…they’re twice my size, all yucky and…UHHH!! If I have to pick this up and strap it back on you one more time….there, now where was I…thump, thump, thump (grumble!)” We took all the bodies of the cultists and Uther to the wagons below and covered them with canvas. We gave the cultists the once over collecting their meager belongings. Checking the mill a journal from their leader, Ironbriar was located however it was penned in a dark tongue. The deciphering of which was left to those with such knowledge as I have no wish to utter a syllable in that or any other dark language. In further exploration we found a bird sanctuary on the roof filled with hungry crows…err…ravens. “EGADS!! Are they undead!!? Are you sure!!? How can you tell in the dark!!?” Finding them amongst the living and not the undead variety as the ones found at the Foxglove Misgivings Sheldor spoke with them and arranged for one of the murder to fly to its normal delivery site, circle it and return…the next morning when we could see its path better.

So after drying my apparel, I took what slumber was afforded in the rhythm of the mills mechanical chorus. After the dawn we returned to the rookery and loosed a raven watching it fly north over the city. Ramad flew off after it. Then about a third of the way, dove in a rather erratic fashion out of sight. (GASP!) Only to appear above the sky line seconds later and in controlled level flight. Ramad followed for the second…third of the flight and though far enough away to see very well, he descended a second time but in a more controlled fashion. Watching the raven’s path we barely saw it flying circles around a tower beneath the giant bridge span…err…Underbridge. Then the little bugger returned and was rewarded with a handful of feed.

We returned to the ground floor where the ritual victim was recovering from his drug induced slumber. When he came to, his panicked state, revealed more than his fright. He was definitely a noble. So to help ease his discomfort I sat close to him and offered him a bite to eat. Once he was initially convinced we were not his Noble-nappers he relaxed a bit and shared from my food. Some good long while passed, and fearing Ramad was incapacitated for reasons unknown, Lynn left to secure our relief. He returned to say he sent two guards to request The Capt. of “The Hells” presence in short order. Again we waited, until there was a sound at the door. There we found Ramad, the Captain, and his retinue to include the runners Lynn had spoken. We explained the events and found the leader to be a JUSTICE of the local council of high muckity-mucks. OH HOW GRAND!!! Nothing says the gallows like slaying a noble council member and accusing him of…high murder!?! Ritualistic occult activity!?! OH, and aggravated mopery!!! And what did we do…hand it all over to the Captain of “The Hells”…we will all swing for sure. Oh well at least the helpful ravens will get fat on our carcasses! Inquiries as to a local death cult led the Captain to name some deity…Nogoodburglar…Nobledogooder…GobbleBluebooger, whatever it was it seemed he was quite confident that this wasn’t their doing. He was quite shocked at the involvement of Ironbriar and his current state of…dead! He sent the victim away with guards and told us he would take care of the rest including seeing Uther ‘s passage home to Taldor by way of the Church of Desna. I penned a letter to his family expressing his noble deeds and character and our condolences on behalf of the greatful people of Sandpoint and Magnimar. I included a post script requesting they contact the family of Lucien Prospero informing them of his final resting place in Sandpoint. Before leaving I checked Uthers condition and clipped a lock of his hair for a keepsake.

We left the mill and made our way to the Bizarre of Sails, made our transactions and went to the Temple of Iomedae to offer the masks of the cultists for destruction and then went our separate ways to meet again at the Inn. I went back to Pug’s Contraptions and requested him to fabricate a wind chime made from the five silver bullets and five cold iron bullets I had been gifted from Uther’s possessions. I figured since I wouldn’t hear Uther’s percussion wand shatter the calm again, I could at least have a remembrance of him that would enhance it. Pug agreed and forty gold later I would retrieve a beautifully crafted and toned chime four days later.

We waited a week for those who could decipher Ironbriar’s journal to complete their task and gleaned some information from it’s contents. During this wait I accompanied Xandu to a relatively safe perch from which to watch the Clock tower in Underbridge. While we waited for anything to happen I contemplated our loss and my future. I had promised myself long ago to increase my staying power and effectiveness for the troupe during combat actions. On a day Xandu dismissed me early, I delivered an amount of money to the Church of Desna to be sent to Father Zantus. I had also decided to resolve my issue of combat efficiency. After making the delivery, I found a manufacturer of percussion wands and asked to be familiarized in their operation and care. He took the time to instruct me until I was comfortable with doing it myself. Then I perused his shop and found the perfect wand for me. A slim ladies dueling variety, with an almost bone white wooden grip and polished metal surfaces of the finest quality and all the accoutrements necessary to keep it in good working order, all in the perfect size for my stature. (grin!) I attached the leather scabbard to my belt, placed my wand snug inside and let the soft flap cover it from view.

With the week past and the journal deciphered we decided to check out the clock tower. I, of course checked the doorway for traps and found none. I checked the door. It was unlocked. I differed the entry responsibilities and joined mid troupe to allow those handier in close quarters the opportunity to shine. Upon entry we found an open expanse with a few offices in a sad state of disrepair, and a rickety old wooden stair case reaching up into the bells. As we inspected the ground level a gruesome fleshy construct stood in the shadows and attacked Sheldor. The troupe converged. My arrow bounced! I advanced as it took vicious swings with a scythe slicing all who dared encroach. As I moved in, I lingered momentarily behind Lynn, resigned from sight and then moved in stealth behind the beast. This…beast was a hodge-podge of creatures, horse, cow, human…gross!! It advanced on Rikert and Xandu so I swiped at it heel string and just broke through the hide to the fat meat when Rikert chopped it to the ground.

Ok….now what???

Sergeant Simon Roque, former Magnimar City Guard:

This is a fine time to find myself drummed out of the Guard.

I was born twenty-five years ago in the Underbridge section of Magnimar; my mother was Varisian, and my father was a Shoati warrior. Mom always claimed that she was gang-raped, and she hated all Shoanti because of that incident. Since I was an unpleasant little reminder of it, she never cared for me much either. Fortunately, I had a big sister who pretty much raised me. She's the one told me that Mom wasn't so much raped as "not paid enough."

When I got bigger, I ran the streets along with every other kid in Underbridge. I was big for my age from early on, and pretty quick too; good thing, since there are people who trade in children that get their stock under the bridge, chief among them a smelly guy named Haugen. I crossed paths with him a couple of times in my youth, and I was always just that bit quick enough not to get snatched by him. Some of my friends weren't so lucky, one reason I don't go under the bridge if I don't have to. I might run into that filth, and then things would likely get messy.

Once I was big enough, Mom sold me into apprenticeship with a blacksmith just over into the Dockway. I spent several years stoking fires, pumping a bellows, and being a gofer. He treated me well enough, fed me and gave me a warm dry place to sleep. I suppose if I had stuck with it I could have been a pretty good smith, but I liked getting in trouble too much; I was a fighter at heart. Time came when I figured out that the city guard got paid to bust heads, and I ran away from the smith and joined up. I even saved up my guard pay (plus my cut of the bribes the squad garnered) and bought out my apprenticeship; I just did it a little late.

I did all the regular stuff that Magnimar city guards have to do; training in armor with swords and shields, archery, standing watch on the walls and the Arvensoar, pulling shifts in the Hells. I took to it like a duck to water. The discipline and structure were exactly what I needed, and the older guys gave me the occasional attitude adjustment when I needed that. I worked my way up from armory assistant (somebody found out I was a blacksmith's apprentice) to guard private, to corporal, to sergeant and then drill instructor. I thought I'd found my niche-- then disaster struck in the form of a junior officer who knew that he was destined for greatness.

Look, I'm a soldier. I follow orders, that's my job. But when it is obvious that those orders are stupid and will get me and everyone in my unit killed, I tend to take issue with that. In this case, the junior officer giving the stupid orders wouldn't listen to reason ("I'm the Officer and you are the Sergeant. I'm a noble and you're nobody, so just do it!"), then other measures become necessary. In the end, this idiot officer had himself an accident and is no longer capable of giving stupid orders to anybody.

I've been a soldier for Magnimar for more than twelve years, and the higher ups know me and trust me; I knew that there wouldn't be any problems from them (they knew this guy was an idiot and were looking for ways to get rid of him. Part of why I was assigned to him in the first place). Unfortunately, sometimes politics get in the way of reasonable solutions, and the idiots' father had more pull than anybody thought. The Guard needed a scapegoat and that turned out to be me, Sergeant Simon Roque.

So now there are a bunch of mysterious murders of town bigwigs happening, and nobody knows what's going on. I just heard from one of my old Captains that he's in touch with an adventuring company looking into the mess that needs a good fighter. He couldn't tell me their name, but he told me they're pulling some kind of operation at the Shadow Clock. Super, I get to find out if the stories about the Scarecrow that I heard as a kid are true, I get to maybe run into Haugen, I get to maybe get killed by a bunch of jumpy adventurers before I can introduce myself. What kind of adventuring company doesn't have a name? I just hope they're not complete amateurs...

Well, we searched the mill and found some stuff and a journal/ledger belonging to the leader of this group. Turned out it was some judge or high ranking official in the town, but I’m kind of jumping ahead here. We finished searching and moving bodies, including Uther and Ironbriar. We found some messenger Raven’s up top in a rookery and our druid spoke with them. He determined that they communicated with Ironbriar through this method with a tower. He talked one of them into flying to the tower, turned out to be the Shadow Clock in Underbridge, and circling it. Ramad cast fly on himself and followed for as long as he could and landed on a roof. After the raven returned, I went and found some guards and asked them to get the captain of the guard from the Hells.

When he showed up, with Ramad in tow, we explained the situation to him and who was involved. He was very disturbed. He said he’d clean up the mess at the mill and inform the Lord Mayor of the situation and progress. We told him our next step was something going on at the Shadow Clock.

We sold off the stuff we didn’t want and the skin saw masks and Ironbriar’s mask to a church to destroy. Split up the cash, traded in some weapons for weapons that we could use. I finally put some of my stuff to use and made Friedrich’s weapon magical and gave Rikert’s a permanent keen edge. I’ll have to look into that for my own weapon. Visited my temple again.

Zandu has been watching the Shadow Clock, but nothing has been seen to my knowledge. We finished deciphering the ledger, which was written in three languages and found that Xanesha and Ironbriar had been in contact.

Well off we went to storm the castle. We entered the clock tower and started looking around. We were attacked by a flesh golem. Magic doesn’t work and adamantine weapons will hurt him. Well we were fresh out of adamantine and had lots of magic. It took several rounds, but we finally destroyed it. So now it’s up the stairs we go. We must stay 10 feet apart, the stairs aren’t stable.

Xandu's Journal Entry:
I’ve never cared for cities. Too much wanderlust in my heart I suppose. And of late my heart has been troubled. There is a dark stain in my world and I can’t get my head around it. I can’t figure out why it is this way. I have never felt so heavy or burdened as I do now. I have witnessed unspeakable acts and have had close friends die all while supposedly doing a good dead.

We are following a string of murders and every time I think we are getting to the end something slips away and there is more to be discovered. I have grown weary of the death especially the death of my friends. My reality keeps slipping or at least it keeps getting challenged. I've seen horror's that shouldn't exist.

I’m scared. Desna has kept me close and safe but I keep losing loved ones, most recently Uther. Uther was my closest friend. He may not have known it. I’m not good with making friends. He was a good man and always watched out for us. Who’s going to be that now? Who do we have that will always be there? Three of us are gone; I didn’t realize how much I depended on the others. I’ve been a free spirit all my life and having these people to laugh and love with has been a welcome change. I’ll be alright as long as Moxie is okay. (No, don’t even think that way.)

This web of murder is ever widening, from a goblin raid in Sandpoint to this. We are in Magnimar’s Under Bridge district following a clue we found at the Seven Saw Mill. During the day I’m watching a tower we suspect is the lair of the one behind all the murders here in Magnimar and of those in Sandpoint as well. It is too dangerous to be out here at night so I stay at the Old Fang Inn, singing and trying to help the mood of the locals. This is a dark dangerous city. At least where I am is. There are nicer parts I’m sure but we’re solving a mystery and this is where it has lead us.

Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae

The party decided it would be in our best interest to take advantage of the time needed to translate the journals and papers by preparing ourselves for our next encounter. This included selling items to raise money for new equipment and repairing and enhancing our current gear. For me, this meant hiring Lynn to put a magically keen edge on my greatsword. I continue to be impressed with the elf's arcane abilities, and this new talent used to enhance our weapons is a great boon to the party.

The clues from the encounter at the sawmill led us to the Shadow Clock in hopes of tracking down the leaders responsible for all of the murders in Sandpoint and Magnimar. The tower is a menacing structure, partially hidden in the shadow of the ancient bridge ruins that rise over a large part of Miramar. Upon entering the building, we found the inside to be a dark place, filled with ruined offices, broken wood, and general signs of decay. The party noticed large, humanoid(?) footprints in the dirt and dust on the floor that seemed to indicate that the tower was still in use by someone or something.

As we spread out through the large structure, Sheldor and Xandu shouted a warning that they had found the creature responsible for the footprints. Rising up from where it had crouched in the shadows of a dark corner behind a wooden staircase, a huge creature that seemed to be an amalgam of various animals and assorted parts towered over the party. It held a great scythe in one of its enormous hands as it moved to engage the druid. I ran forward to lend my blade to battle in an attempt to draw the creature's attention away from the others. As I advanced, I noticed several attempts by my companions to harm the creature fail as arcane energies simply washed over it with no effect, or arrows and blades bounced off of its thick hide.

I knew this would be a true test of my newly enhanced blade, and I jumped into combat swinging great strokes that would carve most men in half. Even with all of my strength driving the enhanced blade, my sword seemed to meet great resistance with every stroke. My attacks, limited as they were, drew the creature's attention fully to me and I had to fight harder to avoid being dismembered by its incredible strength and the vicious scythe.

Eventually, with the assistance of my companions, and the vision of Iomedae guiding my blade, I struck two telling blows which crippled the creature and dropped it to the floor.

I then checked on my friends to help with any who were injured before we began the ascent up the long wooden staircase that disappeared up into the darkness of the tower high over our heads. Maybe now we will finally find the source of the murders and evil deeds lurking somewhere above. Maybe now we can avenge Uther and the others who have died for our cause.

Grand Lodge

Last night the army finished up their investigation of the Shadow Clock.

Because I increased the size of the shadow clock (doubling it) the initial hike up the stairs took a little longer as well. Because I had ZERO desire to draw out each level as they ascended I just kept track with one figure on the mat with their approximate location over the main level. The group maintained a 10 gap between each party member on the ascent. As they reached the first gap of (30 feet now instead of 15 feet) the door below opened and what looked to be a city guard entered. (AKA the new guy Simon). Some role-play interaction and then they began to climb again.

The clock and its height meant there were lots of ways they planned how they could circumvent the climb. The alchemist had Spider Climb, Xandu prepared Fly and Air Walk (multiple times). Using these spells they ferried and climbed their way up.

Around the halfway point the faceless stalkers made their attack with the bell. Now, because I wasn't paying to much attention and the fact I didn't want to figure it out precisely, I just nominated every landing to be 5' higher then the landing below it. So at the bottom level the landing there (NW corner) was 5' above the ground, the NE one was 10' above ground level, the SE one 15' and so on. In retrospect this made the clock tower shorter than it should have been, but in the grand scheme it was no big deal. 50' above the ground is high enough to kill someone in real life so the threat is there, an extra 30' or so is not really needed.

When the attack came I calculated that the lead person (Simon), who was now in the lead because they had to climb strait up because of the loss of stairs, was roughly 55' above ground level. Because the trap said it would hit a d4 (for a party of 4) I increased it to a d8 and rolled a 5. This ended up hitting the Paladin, Wizard, Ninja/Witch, Alchemist, and Fighter (Simon). Only a few failed the Perception check and were caught flat footed, but in the end it didn't matter. My lowest roll was a 6, on the flat footed Ninja/Witch and the bell hit them all for 19 points of damage on 6d6. Everyone save Simon (who used a boon to reroll) made their save. So the new guy plummeted 55 feet to the ground floor below landing inside one of the ruined offices. In this case it was 5d6 falling damage and he took another 20 damage or so. (Cue Bruce Willis voice: "Welcome to the party pal!") Also when the Witch asked about his familiar, we backtracked for it and I ended up killing it. Felt bad about that one, but the Witch also failed her save later on from Xaneshas weapon, so I described his sadness and despair stemming from the loss of his familiar and its final breath wondering why the witch allowed it to die. (/evil grin)

At this point they were fed up with the stairs and started carrying people straight up to the landing that led to the stairs on the outside. I had the 3 stalkers on the stairs about 15' apart with the top most one in the doorway on the landing. The now flying Simon carrying Rikert reached them first and began their fight with the stairs protesting under their weight. For this they had 3 rounds before crack, 20' drop to lower stairs. For the initiative of this fight everyone rolled, but only the paladin and fighter acted on that round, the next round we added the cleric who was carrying the druid, and the round after that we added Lynn carrying Ramad. The rest of the party was stuck in their positions with large gaps in the stairs in front and behind them. The alchemist drank his spider climb and began climbing the remaining 50' feet up, and Annie used here ring of jumping and stupid high acrobatics skills to animae leap 20' over and 10' up stairs with no loss of movement (DC 22 and she was in the mid-30s).

The fight went quick, the dead stalkers having a 25% chance of falling off the stairs when killed (15 or higher on a d20) and any body that fell I gave a 1 in 20 chance of hitting someone below (just for fun and to make people flinch).

The fight with Xanesha worked as it should. The party was focused on the demon flying around the tower and flinging spells at it, Xanesha though opened with a crit (and I forgot about her Power Attack, and multiple attacks) on the Alchemist. In the end it was the alchemist that got the killing blow on her so kudos on payback. In the end I would say that using her Acrobatics and Combat Reflexes is the way to work her. Backing up 5 and attacking with a reach weapon just wasn't cutting it. Not to mention the party ACs were difficult to hit when Power Attacking. In the end the Mirror Image made her a PITA, but once those came off, she dropped rather quickly, even at max health. The damage output she did was easily kept up with by Xandu's channels (Shield Other on the Lynn also really allowed Channels to work well). Her SR was also infuriating the casters as they rarely got through it, and the only one that didn't have SR was a Reflex save which she darn near couldn't fail.

We scrambled through the "loot" phase and dinner with the Lord-Mayor because of time, but those in attendance had fun I think.

Grand Lodge

Campaign journal from Sheldor

Mirror, Mirror on the Roof or For whom the bell tolls
After and arduous journey up the rickety, rotting stairs that seemed to go on and on we faced an obvious new problem, missing sections of this death trap of stairs. Through the ingenuity of some of my fellow adventurers we were able to overcome these obstacles. The potion making alchemist actually swallowed some sort of elixir thing and began to climb like a bug up the tower walls like he was part arachnid or something, the rest of us used ropes and climbed our ways to the next section of intact stairs. Then an unfortunate tragic event occurred. We began hearing the creaking and moaning of rafters giving way. Then it happened, one of the gigantic bells dropped from the ceiling. As it fell, it tumbled striking the tower walls and our stair well! It caused many of the party to get hurt and knocked them off balance falling but catching themselves on the edges of what was left of the stairs. It almost fatally crushed them and took them to the floor below. There was one fatality; Annie’s fox paid the ultimate price. It fell to its death and she became inconsolable. It was apparent her bond with the fox was unnatural. Some of my fell party members took great pleasure making jokes about her loss. Any tragic ending to one of nature’s creatures is always appalling.

This new setback caused by the colossal bell dropping bore new resolutions by the party. Flying skills emerged from several of us and Xandu agreed to fly me up to a landing spotted just above the bells. As we flew up two by two we were met by these humanoid creatures with tentacles for arms. As we assembled on this landing we engaged in combat with three of these nasty things. Just as I was about to finally dispatch the one I was tangled with. The floor gave way below us and I fell 20ft to the landing below. I survived but the creature fell to its death. I moved back up the stairs and joined everyone entering the doorway.

We moved into the adjoining room and found the other rookery from which the birds from the mill went to and fro. I spoke with these Ravens and found that the snake lady was up higher in the clock tower and not much more than that other than they too we very hungry birds.
As we made our way up, the stair were now located on the exterior of the tower. The first members of the party spotted what seemed to be a winged demon flying around the tower. Lighting and fire were wielded at it with little effect. The alchemist was grotesquely ran through with an wicked long spear by the Snake Lady. One by one we may our way on to the roof. There we engaged the Snake Lady and she became about six. When I had an opportunity I tried to summon lightning but I was unable to affect her. One by one the party dispatched her imagines. I turned into a Raven and flew around seeking the winged demon and was met with disappointment, it had vanished. After taking an inordinate amount of bludgeoning, the Snake Lady succumbed to her wounds. A quick search of the area revealed her treasure.

Inside her seven chests was more coinage than I have ever seen in my existence! I guess she had an affinity for copper because there were so much we could even count it, but we did. My share of the bounty was more than I could have ever imagined. Besides the coinage, I now am in possession of her wicked instrument of death, her long spear. This will work nicely on her sister…. Our next adventure.

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Xandu's Journal enty:
Just after a great lunch we all headed for the clock tower. It was a nice morning but some clouds were moving in and by the time we got to the tower the weather had changed. I felt the heaviness of Uther’s loss and a chill crept into my bones. The tower looked as if it could topple over at any moment we opened the doors and went in closing them behind us. Although it was dark inside just having a break from the wind made me more at ease.

There was a smell but that was everywhere here in Underbridge so I didn’t know if it came from the area or something in the tower itself. We spread out, the tower was immense but in ruin here on the first floor. Looking up I could just make out the bells and an open stairway circling its way up the outside wall. I investigated the stairs and asked Desna to illuminate my way, casting a light spell part way up the stairs so that it would lighten up an area in deep shadow. As the others moved about the towers main floor, looking in ruined rooms and through piles of straw, I was able to keep a close watch on them all from my vantage point.

Sheldor gave a shout and a hulking beast rose up out of the darkness and charged. I thought at first it was a daemon but in time I understood it to be a construct. This must be what the locals referred to as the scarecrow. At least this scarecrow was easy to recognize as bad and needed to be destroyed. Not some helpless farmers wife dressed up to look like a threat and killed accidently because we’re too on edge. This thing needed to die and the sooner the better. I tried to run past it to heal one of my friends and it reached past him and cut a huge swath across my chest. Rikert killed the thing and I was able to heal those that it had injured.

We regrouped and gave the main floor a final sweep. We put the monsters weapon in a wagon. Its magical cloak went to someone in the group and up we went staying a ways apart from each other as not to put too much stress on the ancient stairs. As I would not be in reach of my friends during our assent I asked Desna to allow me to share the burden of any harm that came to Lynn and that he be given the means to walk on air like one of her beloved butterflies. Part way up the stairway there were missing stairs and we had to decide how to get past the gap. At this point the front door of the tower opened and a torch was being held in to light the way of its bearer. I could see by the torch light that it was a city guard and I yelled down to him that we had permission to be here. Ramad also said a greeting but I was speaking at the same time so I didn’t make his out. The guard explained that the Captain of the Hells that we were in contact with had sent him to help us since we recently lost one in our group. Simon was his name.

We told Simon he was welcome to join us and to be careful on the stairs. Lynn helped at the first missing stairs by walking on air and tying off rope to help the others across. At this time I asked Desna for the same ability she granted Lynn and I too was able to walk on air and help the others make their way safely to the other side. At another section we had to use rope and climb straight up to the next set of stairs. I was very happy to have Desna’s help at this point. Again we made our way up the tower when we heard a loud creaking of heavy timbers. We looked up and saw one of the bells swaying, most of us saw it in time but that didn’t matter much when it fell, tumbling down at us.

The bell crashed through stair and wall and person without slowing down at all, nothing was going to impede its decent to the floor below. Rock debris, bell and stairs knocked several of us off the stair. Some held onto the remaining stair but Anne’s fox companion and Simon were sent hurtling down end over end to the floor below. The fox fell in eerie silence; the city guard on the other hand never stopped cursing until an abrupt thump. In darkness and out of sight I raced down to see if either had made it. I doubted but asked Desna to spare them both. Simon was a very large human and in armor I had no doubt he would make a huge crater and be soup in a can when I found him.

To my amazement Simon was groaning and stirring a small trickle of blood from his mouth and his eyes didn’t focus well for a moment but luck had been with him for he landed in a pile of straw, not a thick pile but he was alive none the less. Anne’s fox didn’t survive the fall. I healed up our city guard and he asked me for a copper. I handed him a copper as he asked, he explained that it was a retainer and he expected to be paid if we made any money on this outing. He also gave me his name, he started with something else but in mid word said Simon, my name is Simon. I introduced myself as Xandu and asked if he would like to fly instead of walking back to the others. He thought about it for a short while but then accepted the offer. With a quick prayer to Desna he was on his way back up to the others.

With three of us able to fly or walk on air we decided to make haste to the landing above to a doorway and hopefully safety from the falling bells. Simon was ahead of me carrying Rikert I was carrying Sheldor and behind me was Lynn carrying Ramad. Moxie and Anne were left on the stair for us to come get them. Immediately I heard fighting in front of me as I neared the bells that were still mounted to huge beams. Rikert and Simon were in combat with the same kind of faceless creature that pretended to be Alderen Foxglove. I wonder how many more are in this city pretending to be someone else. I brought us to the top of the stairs and Sheldor and I attacked a faceless together. I tried not to add to the weight on the stairs but in a few seconds the faceless and Sheldor fell through, leaving a gaping hole in the landing they had been standing on. Thankfully Sheldor landed just a few feet below and somehow running up the stairs was Annie, how did she get there? Rikert and Simon and Ramad had taken care of the two faceless that were left and Lynn was retrieving Moxie. This time we regrouped on a stairway that wrapped around the outside of the tower. It was a short way to the top and on the way Ramad spotted a flying monster and had hit it with magic lightening as to keep it away from us.

As we got to the top of the tower and trying to keep an eye out for the flying daemon, we were assaulted by a large snake lady. She plunged a wicked looking spear into Friedrich whose eyes I’ve never seen wider. A huge fight on the roof erupted and all I could do to was to channel energy into my friends and myself there was no time for anything else. The guys fought bitterly and it was frustrating for them and me to watch image after image being removed and not a bit of damage to the snake itself. Finally they all started to connect and made very short order of her. I believe she was taken by surprise at the amount of damage the guys dished out when it was apparent that she could be hurt.

Long story short we found more clues and also that the Mayor himself was on the hit list sort of speak. We were rewarded and now Have to decide what to do about this guard whose offered to sign on. He has many ideas and “demands” but they all sound good, time will tell.

An Email from Simon’s player to all of us, I decided to include it because it’s fun.:

(This comes after introductions and war-stories, when he picks your brains for the details of operations up to now)

Okay, so here’s the deal. You are now dealing with a plain-talking professional soldier. He does not know the group members (yet), but they have begun to earn his trust and respect (and hopefully he, theirs). He’s willing to join up, but he has some suggestions and some conditions of employment. (From here on, this is in Sgt. Roque’s voice)

Suggestions: 1) the company needs a name. There are plenty of adventuring companies around and they all have names; hell, Magnimar was founded by one, the Wardens of the Eye. Sandpoint might be a great little town, never been there myself, but “The Heroes of Sandpoint” doesn’t mean s&%* to anybody outside of Sandpoint. You need a scary, cool, catchy name.

2) Hey, Sheldor is it? You’re a Druid, right? How come you don’t have a wolf or bear or badger or wolverine hanging around? Hell, this little girl over here had a fox that could maybe bite some bad guy’s ankle, and you got nothing. Isn’t that what you guys DO?

Conditions: 1) you’re an adventuring company, you’re making money, you’ve got a name. What I need is a contract. It’s all very well to work things out as friends, but I’m not your friend yet. At the moment, I’m a mercenary. I like nice clothes, I like good food and good wine, I like a clean bed and a roof over my head, and I like whores. All those things cost money. You’re hiring me to do a job and I want it stated up front, in writing, signed/sealed/delivered just what that job is, and what I’m going to be paid to do it relative to what everybody else is paid. That way, if things don’t work out we can go our separate ways with no hard feelings. By the way, I’m not going to be a hireling bodyguard; it’s full partner or nothing (another suggestion: a hireling bodyguard or two might be something to think about, especially for you two brainiacs {Ramad and Freidrich}. Plus you could use another real fighter or two. Just saying).

2) You have to have a combat leader. I’m NOT putting myself up for that job, a frontline fighter is usually looking at the world through a narrow little slit and has sweat in his eyes, not the best conditions for knowing the big picture. But SOMEBODY has to keep the goal in mind, and be in a position to order a change of formation, or a retreat, or order somebody to do something normally outside their job description. Personally, I’d be ok with either of these two brainiacs in the job, but that’s up for you guys to decide, I don’t get a vote on this.

3) You MUST learn some tactics, and this point is non-negotiable; falls under me doing the job you’re hiring me for. Also falls under me not dying like those other guys you got killed. Yes, I’m saying that you got your friends killed. Some of you might hold a little more responsibility for that than others (looks pointedly at Xandu and Rikert), but that’s water under the bridge. Accept that mistakes have been made, learn from them, and try not to repeat them.

I’m not talking here about making plans before an operation; that’s strategy, and everyone knows that plans go out the window when the swords come out. I’m talking about defining a few formations to cover moving around and fighting in corridors or big open spaces. I’m talking about everyone having a job to do, and then doing that job unless specifically ordered to do something else by the leader.

As I see it, there are four job descriptions for a fighting company. There’s line fighters (me, Rikert, and Lynn in some situations, like with that snaky b%~@@ the other night), there’s scouts/flankers (Moxie, probably Annie and sometimes Lynn), there’s artillery (Freidrich and Ramad, maybe Sheldor), and there’s healers (Xandu and Sheldor). It’s Sheldor right? Like the Conqueror? You’ve got a couple of healing spells, you’re a healer. You can summon s$@@ too, that’s fine; just let the line guys know it’s f~%&ing coming).

The line fighters job is to be in front, holding the line. They define the front of the formation. Nobody gets in front of them unless their name is Moxie, or the leader tells them to. The scout/flankers job is to be out front looking for dangerous stuff. If the s#%@ comes down, they need to get back behind the line, or flank the bad guys engaging the line and then get back behind the line, or hide and assassinate the boss bad guy. They will need to take cover or stay out of the way of the artillery; the finger wigglers likely can’t see you and it’s not their fault if you get caught where the leader tells them to lay it down. The artillery guys job is to stay behind the line (as far as they can be and still hit their targets) and blast the enemy. Please don’t singe the line guys eyebrows unless they specifically ask for it, we f%@!ing hate that. The healers job is to be behind the line and in front of the artillery and heal us as we get hurt. Above all else, you STAY BEHIND THE LINE. Also you keep the undead stuff back, if possible. But, and get this, if the healers or the artillery are swinging at bad guys, THEN WE ARE LOSING. So you (points at Xandu) need to stow that toy Shoanti pig sticker of yours unless you need it to play a song. Don’t kid yourself about being a fighter, I don’t care how fast you think you are. The first time I see you in front of the line without specific orders to be there, if we both live through the operation I will PT you until you think you’re gonna die. The second time it happens, I will consider my contract terminated.

So that’s it. That’s everyone’s job; figuring out the best way to do your job is your business. Figuring out the best formations to do them from is a matter for further discussion. Now, if we have a deal, we can get down to business and decide how we’re going to do these things.

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