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After action report, 31 Lamashan. Simon Roque reporting.
1. After being informed by former Guard Captain of an operation soon to be in progress at the Shadow Clock in Underbridge, proceeded to said location to meet nameless adventuring company and offer services.
2. Made contact with adventurers and offered services without being shot or fried by spells. Asked for and received a minimal retainer for services, with the understanding of payment in equal shares of whatever spoils were gained. Continued up the interior of the clock tower. Incidental intelligence: Stories of the Scarecrow in the clock were true, apparent flesh golem dispatched by party prior to my arrival.
3. Falling bell trap damaged several and knocked me off the stairs; falling some 50’ onto rubble. Minor damage sustained, healed by flying cleric. Cleric granted me the ability to fly, and we began ferrying the party to the top of the tower interior.
4. Dropped off Paladin and engaged three creatures (Faceless Stalkers?) on top section of stairs. Party’s piecemeal arrival and unsafe stairway prevented effective engagement of the enemy, but the abominations eventually fell; no party losses.
5. Stairs continued outside the top of tower to a rookery (nothing interesting here) and then on to the roof. Apparent nest of a creature (Lamia Matriarch?), which attacked without warning as party was distracted by a circling illusion. Extended combat ensued, moderate damage sustained by most combatants, effectively healed as occurring by the cleric. All members accounted for themselves well except for the Druid, who remained distracted by the illusion throughout the encounter. Creature eventually slain, considerable treasure gathered.
6. Evidence of Lord Mayor as a target for assassination by the creature let to a banquet in the company’s honor and considerable additional reward.
Conclusions: group has impressively diverse capabilities, but little real cohesion or direction in combat. They seem aware of their desperate need for front-line fighter, and are willing to take me on as a prospective partner. As they have granted some concessions as to combat organization, I believe that I may be able to work with them; the level of pay seems adequate to my needs.
Note to self—avoid talking to the Druid, he’s a stuffed shirt who can’t take a joke.
And up and up we went. Zandu cast a couple spells on me as I stayed behind as the group started up the stairs. We had finished searching the ground level, finding some stuff where the flesh golem had stayed and his magical scythe. We put the scythe in the wagon for later retrieval and took the cloak and monetary with us.
Not entirely trusting the stairs or Zandu, I was tentative in walking in the air, but used it when the front members came to a gap in the stairs. With Zandu able to walk in the air also, we were able to help the group across a quick rope bridge and we continued up.
We reached a point where we could see a little further up the stairs and noticed a couple things. First, there were more gaps and bigger ones that we would try to avoid. Second, one of the bells was tilted and slightly moving. Then suddenly it was falling. The bell clipped several party members and with two exceptions, left them hanging from the stairs.
I forgot to mention that part way up we were paused when someone entered the lower level and hollered at us. Apparently the guard captain told a sergeant that we were in need of some help. So this Simon showed up and came along for the ride. Well, other than some yelling back and forth, that’s the short of his introduction. Good sized human that appears to be a fighter. Well he fell 50 feet or so back to the ground when the bell hit him. The loud crash and cursing was about all that was heard.
Zandu went down and got him, probably healed him a little. Annie’s fox wasn’t so lucky. The bell killed the fox and it fell down to the bottom in the rubble with the bell. Needless to say, Annie was upset.
After all this, we decided to try another tactic. Zandu cast fly on Simon, and he flew up, grabbed Rikert and went to the top. Zandu grabbed Friedrich and I grabbed Ramad and went to the top. The last stair level had three faceless stalkers waiting for us. With no way around we had to engage. Rikert took one and I tried to let Ramad cast at another, while Sheldor and Zandu fought the last. Simon was trying to keep some distance and fired a bow. The problem was still the stairs. Very weak and wobbly and with the fighting, something had to give and it did. Sheldor dropped 20 feet or so to some stairs directly below, luckily. But the way was clear, as the three beasts were dispatched and thrown off the stairs.
We entered a rookery and again Sheldor asked some questions of the resident ravens. They weren’t as helpful as the last batch. Some of us geared up with spells, me included, and we went up to the roof. There was a balcony on the outside leading up to the roof with a 3 foot ledge around the edge of the roof. There was a statue of an angel with some chests and a mattress under it. We saw nothing else until a flying monster of some sort. Ramad hit it with a lightning bolt, which caused a reaction. About that time, Friedrich came over the edge of the roof. He was attacked by a lamia.
Xanesha struck from invisibility with a long spear which cleanly drove through and the barbs were an added torture as it was removed. Friedrich crawled back over the edge to remove himself from combat. There was a sudden burst of despair that washed over the group, but we were not affected except for Annie, who was still suffering affects of the loss of her fox. Xanesha had multiple images surrounding her, meaning that actually hitting her would be difficult. The fighters went to work and I got ready.
Ramad tried some spells, and I did also. Mine fizzled and so did Ramad’s early attempt. She had some resistance to magic and the fighters were having a tough time doing damage. I copied her tactics and cast mirror image and then vanish to sneak into the fight to avoid moving through her reach and getting a free attack as I closed. My first strike dropped her final image, leaving us to fight just her. After Zandu did some burst healing, Friedrich hit her with a bomb. My second attack coursed lightning through her as I got through her defenses, both magical and physical. She jumped (slithered) away and we had to re-engage, meaning she’d get to attack us as we moved in. We did, she did, but we finally finished her off. Even Annie, suffering as she was, got a shot in. By the way, the flying monster disappeared; Sheldor was trying to find it.
We gathered everything up from the chests and roof and got back to the bottom. We reported to the guard captain and gave him the update. We also turned over the journal and a note we found from a sibling, the tone says sister, but that one is doing similar stuff in Turtleback Ferry. It turns out that the Lord Mayor was a future target.
We got word that the Mayor wanted us to join him for dinner. He thanked us for what we did and rewarded us. We need to stick around town for a few days to sell off some stuff before we head back to Sandpoint.
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After felling the beasty and while tidying up a bit, a burly, muscle bound , armor hulk entered the bell tower. I felt we may have been inadequate to repel him had it been required for he is quite large in stature. Luckily he requested to sign on with our troupe…awkward timing…but tact and formality do not seem to be in his repertoire. Simon is his name. A “former “ Sgt. Of the City guard. Hmm? In any case a welcomed sight for we need a bit of beef in the front row. I think I will call him…Brisket!
After introductions and the informal agreement assuming he survived, we attempted the stairs. While not stirred to emotion by heights, I am found of firm footing which is the very thing the stair case did not provide. A creaking, wobbly, popping, unnerving, swaying LIE! This was no staircase, but rather a set of ladders loosely affixed to scaffolding. Indeed, the rickety nature and dry rot are of one concern the added nature of being smaller and overextending one’s self to simply advance up the stairs was a continual mentally exhaustive exercise in fright management! While my agility and acumen were up to the challenge, the threat of an open staircase was quite unsettling.
And of course, about the time I felt I had mastered the motion of the stair case, those we had come to visit loosed one of the enormous bells sending it crashing through stairs and the troupe without pause straight to the floor below. Splintered wood and bodies tumbled, and the newest addition to the trouped accompanied the bell as did Annie’s Fox companion to the ground impacting the wagon with a brief muffled ring. As I was simply holding on for dear life hoping against all odds the stairs would not collapse, I did not see the impact but heard its final rest. Not until I had regained my footing and steeled my resolve to move once again did I look about to see the damage. While most of the troupe had received minor wounds, all save Brisket and the Fox were present and mobile. Xandu found Brisket serviceable and returned him to the troupe.
Our Clergy and Arcanists put themselves and others to actual flight and took to advancing without the stairs while Annie and I made our way as best we could. Lynn came back to advance our cause but no sooner than we had breached the last gap in the stairs a fight ensued with another trio of faceless stalkers and we were left to advance the remainder of the stairs on our own. After this conflict a second followed quickly with a foul reptilian she snake. She was deft , agile, and hell with a spear. Just ask Freiderich what his insides look like, because he can describe them now!! EGADS!! Once again I was late to the battle and have not been there for my troupe mates in their moment of need. Magnimar has been a difficult time for me for some reason!?!
We informed the Capt. of the Guard and met with the Mayor who rewarded us handsomely! We have found reference to a co-conspirator of the Snake lady doing “business” in the Turtleback Ferry area. After we escort Uther back to Sandpoint and lay him to rest with Lucien and Barus, I believe we should see to this “Sister”! R.I.P’s Fox!
First Day of the Month Neth
I suppose it has only been a couple of weeks since I last wrote of my adventure with this troupe of likeminded fools; it feels as though months have passed.
We were able to discover the plot in Sandpoint and put it to an end. My guarded suspicion of Zandu was fully cleared. He was simply being used as a distraction. Turned out the Foxglove family has a very dark past, and the undead menace stemmed from their manor located further down on the coast. It seems that Aldern’s grandfather had attempted to make himself into a lich, luckily he was unsuccessful; though in the process he more or less cursed the house. We not only eliminated the obvious undead threat, including an undead Aldern who had some poor dealings himself, but we were able to lift the curse from the manor. Clues gathered pointed us towards Magnimar, as Sandpoint was just one grain of sand in the dunes of some scheme.
Upon our arrival we heard of nobles being murdered of late. We decided to take a look around the Foxglove mansion in town to try and find the next lead. After dealing with some unsavory creatures disguised as Aldern and some servants, we proceeded to search the house and found an agreement between Alderns grandfather and some group working out of The Seven’s Sawmill, our next stop… well would have been our next stop if we were not arrested out front for the nobles’ murders. It was more so a staged arrest, as we were commissioned by the Lord Governor to solve the matter as quietly as possible.
The sawmill was unguarded on the lower levels, and we ascended slowly clearing each floor before moving on. Near the top we heard a scream and Zandu rushed ahead out of sight. By the time Uther and I had caught up he had already alerted a large group of cultists of our presence. They moved in upon the three of us cutting off any chance of retreat. I may not strike hard with this spear but its poisoned head affected quite a few of the blasted cultists. At the start of the combat Uther and I were back to back, as the chaos continued we were separated by the sheer numbers of cultists and, though he fought fiercely with shot after shot ringing out, and many dead with large holes were tissue should be; he fell and neither Zandu or I could get to him soon enough to save him.
After a thorough search of the area an encoded journal was found, as well as a coup of messenger ravens, plans were also made for young Uther’s body to be transported to Sandpoint for proper burial. So while some went to work with the ravens I started working on the journal’s cipher, a complicated mix of three languages. After a short time the other group informed the rest of us that the ravens fly to a terrible structure in underbridge known as the Shadow Clock. We decided to wait until the journal was fully deciphered until beginning our assault, a process that took a week to complete and unfortunately no applicable information was gleaned to aid our planning to cleanse the Shadow Clock.
Entering the base of the Shadow Clock bore a very dark, cluttered interior. We split up and began searching for threats. Zandu, once again, was right next to the conflict. I swear that kid is drawn toward death, like a fool to a mirage; some promise of greatness in the afterlife gives him no regard for his physical existence. Yet in his flirting he has yet to give in to death’s seductive bosom. From the rubble a construct emerged, a mass of flesh cleaved from multiple creatures creating a massive perversion of life; its face that of a child’s, though a disturbing intellect was witnessed within. Immune to arcane intervention and resistant to our physical attacks I feared the creature would take more of our party. Hoping to give them time I drank an elixir of enlargement in order to engage the monstrosity. Moving into position behind him I was glad to see Rikert tearing into it with his great two handed sword. I struck the creature once and was about to grab it when Rikert finished his maneuver and the creature’s existence.
After a short breath we began to ascend the rail-less staircase into the engulfing darkness above. We had just come to a gap when below a new voice was heard. A man dressed as a Magnamar guard explained that the captain had sent him to assist us. The climb proved to be rather difficult as multiple sections of the staircase were missing. Zandu was able to make a few people walk upon the air and they were able to assist in our climbing about. At the top we encountered three more of the shifting creatures we had previously faced in the Foxglove mansion in town. I downed a potion of spider climb to keep off the stairs while assisting the fight. Once that short conflict was settled we continued to the top of the tower.
When we came upon the roof a demonic creature was spotted flying its perimeter. Our wizard lit it up with a lightning bolt and shortly thereafter a wave of fire. While watching the spectacular display I remember a heavy thud from behind and noticed an intricate spear point protruding from my chest. I became rather nauseous from the image and simply stumbled over the edge without viewing my attacker. Luckily my potion of spider climb was still active or I may have fallen to the street, a few hundred feet below. After drinking a strong restorative and having the familiar fire wash through my body, I returned to the fight. A large snake-woman thing had engaged the guard and Rikert. I moved to gain higher ground and ran up a pillar and began throwing targeted bombs from the partial safety of the shrine’s ceiling. Eventually we felled the blasted creature and took another minute to breathe. The demonic creature was nowhere to be found and I fear it will go to warn some higher master, for among our findings was a note from the snake’s kin describing his/her own dealings with the collection of greed.
We reported our discoveries and were awarded greatly for ending the murders as well as saving the Lord Governor as he was on the list of those to “harvest”. Tonight he has invited us to feast with him and after that we will likely be on our way to the next afflicted town.
RIkert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
Following the battle with the shambling guardian at the base of the tower, we began our cautious ascent up the rickety staircase that wound its way up through the tower. Only minutes into our climb, we stopped and paused to see a large human in quality armor make his way into the entrance below. He was armed with a sword and shield, and carried a torch that revealed his heraldry to match that of the guards in the city. We questioned him and found his name to be Simon, and that he had been told by the captain of the guard that we may need his assistance. After a brief introduction, considering the circumstances of our meeting, we allowed him to accompany us into the heights of the tower.
Our climb was continually interrupted by unsafe or missing areas of the stairs, and at one point, one of the huge bells broke free and fell down amongst us, breaking more of the stairs, and carrying Simon and Annie's fox to the floor 50 feet below. Simon proved to be tough and lucky, and landed in some of the loose rubble which helped break his fall. The fox, however, was not so lucky and was crushed by the enormous, brass bell.
Xandu rushed back down to attend to Simon, and then called upon some new magic that allowed himself and a couple of the others to fly or otherwise "walk" in the air. At this point, the flying members were able to carry the rest of us up through the tower to the top, thus avoiding more problems with the stairs. (Or so we thought!)
The top of the stairs were occupied by more of the faceless stalkers similar to the ones that had attacked us in the local Foxglove estate. We engaged and dispatched these quickly, while keeping the groaning staircase in the backs of our minds. Sheldor found a weak spot in the stairs and fell to the level of stairs just below us. He was lucky indeed, as a fall to the bottom of the tower from this height would likely have been fatal.
As we passed through the doorway that led to a more physically solid area of the tower, we found additional messenger ravens and another door that led to more steps on the outside of the tower that led to the very top. We formed up into a marching order with myself and Simon near the front, and climbed to the upper rooftop area.
At this point, a flying, demonic figure appeared, hovering of to the edge of the tower. This immediately drew fire from our spellcasters and those with the ability to reach the creature. Meanwhile, Friedrich and couple of others walked out onto the roof. Ahead of us there was a covered structure on the roof that seemed to contain several large chests and a variety of pillows and cushions that gave the appearance of a huge bed or lounge.
Our attention was drawn away by the scream of Friedrich as he was attacked by a large, snake-like creature with a human upper body. Xanesha! She had appeared suddenly behind Friedrich and ran him through with a large spear that was now protruding from his chest.
I immediately called upon the power of Iomedae to fill my sword with holy energy, and ran to destroy this abomination that was responsible for so many of the problems we have faced. Simon also charged with his shield to the front, and crashed into the bulk of Xanesha. As others joined the fight, Xanesha fought back with the spear, and blasts of magic from the mask she wore. She surrounded herself with false images that confused our strikes and led us to miss the target.
As the fight progressed, she slithered quickly through our ranks to avoid being surrounded, and we were forced to once again charge to engage her in the new location. Eventually, our combined attacks wore her down and we were able to literally strike the head from our immediate problem.
Following the battle, we tended to the wounded, and searched the chests to find a rich treasure of coins, jewelry, and other items. We spent some time to carry all of these down to the ground using magic and patience. Among the chests, we also found a letter written to Xanesha by someone who referred to her as "sister." Whether this is a true, blood-relative, or just someone who shared a close bond with her remains to be seen.
We then reported our victory to the Lord Mayor, and received additional rewards from him as well. We now have a little time to repair and replace our equipment, and make arrangements to return Uther's body to Sandpoint.
Where our path leads after that remains to be seen.
Last night was a short but particularly violent evening.
We began with the group still having dinner with the Lord-Mayor and his decision between the meal and desert to ask for assistance in shutting up some rather pesky advisors. They were told that some scruffy rangers in the backwater hills near Turtleback Ferry hadn't been heard from and the town wanted someone to find out what was going on. Also there was some elven woman was making a nuisance of herself by pushing for this to happen. He told them that he would agree to pay each person 750 gold for their agreeing to do so.
At this point, the new guy Simon said, "sure, we'll do it." To which the Lord-Mayors response of "do you speak for the group?" Before anyone at the table could disagree, or barter, Simon replied, "yes I do." To which the Lord-Mayor said, "Good, its settled then. You'll leave in the morning?" The question being more of a statement than question. At which point he stood and left the room, leaving the rest of the party there to finish their deserts and to drink before it became uncomfortable to sit in a room surrounded by servants waiting for their eventual departure.
They then spent the next 4 days shopping and arguing about when they would leave. They also met Shalelu when she arrived at their inn asking to tag along.
The group decided on a river trip, after Shalelu suggested it, since the group was initially thinking about going to Sandpoint first. The trip began innocently enough. The fact that fall was over and winter was coming (?). The weather was typical november weather, cold, overcast and generally rainy.
The group spent their days on the deck of the barge discussing what they were going to name their band since Simon convinced them they needed a moniker other than "the Heros of Sandpoint."
Sheldor and Ramad spent their days on the bow watching where they were going. Ramad in a folding chair with an umbrella. They noticed a fog bank along the river and about 100' out, Sheldor realized it wasn't natural. It was then that they noticed the two large boulders arcing towards the boat.
I set up the encounter with two marsh giants behind their magically created bank of fog. Every turn the boat moved 20' forward towards the bank with 50% concealment for all attacks until they passed into the fog and the giants attacked. Every turn two boulders would come in and either hit a party member or a crewman. The boulders only did real damage at the very beginning when one landed on Ramad and one knocked a crewman off the barge. After that it was nothing but hit, nope, concealment. I did manage to drop one on the paladin right at the end when melee ensued.
The fight was rather intense with the giants using their gaffs to great effect. Choosing to power attack on unarmored looking individuals, vital striking the heavily armored ones, etc. The group was flinging fireballs, and a metric crapton of lighting. It was during this part of the fight that someone yelled "Storm Wardens?" or something like that, and a chorus of "I like it!" rang out. It was also at this time that one of the giants who had just been blasted by a gout of acid from Ramad took his revenge and power attack/vital striked. I did 4d6+21 damage and rolled around 39 points. Ramad the halfling wizard had 1 con save and rolled a 1 and died. I also managed to utterly destroy one of the poor crewman who was brutally dismembered.
So that brings my total to 4 dead characters since the start of this adventure.
1st- Lucian (Human Fighter)
2nd- Barus (Dwarf Ranger)
3rd- Uther (Human Gunslinger)
4th- Ramad (Halfling Wizard) <--- Played by the same guy who played Barus. Drooling, slope fore-headed killer mentality 0, GM 2
We ended the night with the group having docked in Whistledown to have Ramads body sent to Magnimar for burial and for the ship captain to trade more grain before moving on to Ilsurian.
After action report, Simon Roque reporting:
1. Reported to Watch Captain results of the Shadow Clock incident, and turned over the discovered note threatening the Lord-Mayor’s life. He requested we stay in town for a few days. Later same day received communication from Watch Captain that the group was invited to a banquet in our honor at the Lord-Mayor’s residence.
2. Banquet accomplished without major social incident. Mayor gave each of the group a substantial reward for saving his life, and then ordered us to go to Turtleback Ferry and investigate some alarming reports seemingly related to the note recovered at the Shadow Clock. Order was worded as a request, and as none of the others seemed inclined to acknowledge as such, I accepted the order on their behalf. Another bag of money to each of us followed.
3. Funds allowed purchase of needed equipment. Negotiations with the rest of the group allowed better efficiency for the purpose, but I had to leave my shield with an enchanter for three days, thus feeling rather naked as well as broke. Forced to sell healing potion acquired as loot from the clock in order to remain solvent. Female Elven Ranger seems to have attached herself to the group for the trip to Turtleback Ferry.
4. Shield recovered with extra enchantment. Took ship to Turtleback Ferry via the Yondabakari river.
5. Third day upriver from Magnimar, encountered ambush by Marsh Giants. Some damage sustained. One giant killed, one driven off; Ramad Underbridge (Halfling wizard) killed in action. As closest party member, applied healing potion at earliest opportunity, incurring serious damage in the process. Healing potion wasted, Ramad DRT. RIP. The group adopted the name "Storm Guardians" by acclaim during the fight.
Campaign Journal Post for Sheldor:
Finishing up in Magnimar – The party spent the next few days after our harrowing encounter with the snake lady re-equipping ourselves and some of the party sold some of our booty in the various markets in this big city of immorality and lawlessness. The party negotiated passage on a fairly large barge of a boat that would take us to Turttleback Point for our seemingly never ending quest for the truth to our mystery.
Despite our cramped sleeping quarters I found myself spending most of my time on the upper deck along the bow of our transport observing our natural surrounding as we made our way up river to our destination. Although I was not rambling through the woods, I found great peace observing it and the occasional wildlife drinking and traveling along the banks. Most of the party, did what we could to bide our time while confined on the boat.
Occasionally, the captain would make stops at small rendezvous points along the way to partake in trading of goods with locals. One night in particular we stopped and spent the night. One thing lead to another and a party broke out with Moxie being the center of attention for many of the men that night.
As we continued to make our way we met with a deadly encounter. Rocks and small boulders came hurling out of a very thick unnatural bank of fog striking the boat and knocking a pole man into the river. These boulders cam at us two at a time from opposing sides of the river, I quickly turned myself into a Raven and went to the sky for an enhanced aspect of the source of this bombardment. The barge quickly went on high alert and the other members of our party and the crew began readying themselves and their arms for whatever came out of the fog.
My short flight revealed two what would turn out to be, giants, swamp giants to be exact. Hurling boulders at our boat like it was a game. As our ship drew closer and closer and with me back on deck as an elf again, crossbow bolts began piercing the fog in hopes of scoring a hit, and some hopes came to fruition. Unfortunately, Ramad was caught by a one of the giants’ mighty blows as they approached the ship and was struck down. Great efforts were taken to revive him to no avail, he was gone. Those of us with magic abilities began an onslaught of lightning and fire strikes against the giants. The fighters were able to land some devastating blows as well. In the end, one giant was slain while the other greatly wounded slithered back into the river to be not seen again.
Though this was a harrowing encounter, I was left with a greater sense of improved power at the end of our melee. Farewell Ramad the Halfling. Thanks for the stuff!
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A more acceptable float on the Yondabakari
Following the Clock Tower conflict and reward the Lord Mayor of Magnimar provided further reasoning for us to continue our interest into the She-snake’s “sister” in Turtleback Ferry. He requested we call upon the Order of the Black Arrows, a troop of rangers whose responsibility is to patrol and ensure the safety of the pioneers. Apparently they have sent no word for some time and the Lord Mayor grows concerned for their well being. OH HOW EXCITING!! But at the suggestion we leave with quickness, the troupe retorted that a few days would be required to refit for the voyage north. The Lord Mayor, reluctantly I believe, acquiesced to this request.
SHOPPING….HUZZAH!!!! Xandu, Ramad, Brisket and I spent the better part of two days haggling for the best deals we could manage. And with the coin dispersed amongst the troupe all had their opportunity to purchase what Magnimar afforded them. When we regrouped the night before leaving Magnimar, the troupe looked a bit different. Annie even managed to replace her fox. We suggested she train it using a bell…yes it was bad form, but…well that is the way the troupe has come to show it’s affection for one another. As for me I traded the “special” dagger for a mithril throwing axe of the same quality, and a mithril shirt. There were many other purchases of smaller items but those are for me to know and others to inherit. So the morning of the fourth day we booked passage and embarked on a barge traveling up river.
Upon leaving Magnimar the rivermen tended to pole the barge toward the northern bank away from the Mushfens Swamp. It is a beautifully eerie sight with vast tall saw grass glades and a giant cyprus canopy. Teeming with all manner of critter’s…most of which I would rather avoid making their acquaintance but fascinating to behold! To the North were the farmsteads and open plains of the Magnimar and Sandpoint hinterlands. I forgot to mention Lady Shelalu had joined up with us the night prior to our departure, and Lynn inquired about Fort Rannick , the Black Arrow Rangers and if she had any knowledge of the sihedron mystery we were tracking. She had little more information than we. So for the remainder of the day I studied her mannerisms and talked with her at length about what rangers do. So as not to overstay my welcome, so to speak, I checked in with the troupe mates and rivermen to keep the voyage on a brighter note as the weather turned to crisp and cold. The end of the second day saw us to the trading post at Wartle. There we disembarked for the feel of solid stable ground and found a tavern. Xandu and I performed and brightened the mood on a cold winter’s night and did so without having to worry for the expense of victuals or libation, for the generous townsfolk provided for us…praise Shelyn!!
The morning of the third day saw us off early all went well for half a day. Sheldor and Ramad took up lookout positions on the bow, though Ramad was lounging in a chair with an umbrella. Suddenly Sheldor and Ramad spied an unnatural fog bank up river causing them to sound the alarm. No sooner than the alarm was sounded, two huge boulders arced from the fog, one impacting a riverman sending him into the water, and the other striking Ramad smashing him to the deck splintering his easy chair and umbrella (giggle!) The Boat Captain called for his pole men to quicken the pace, and ordered all hands on deck to repel boarders. Seeing crossbows and bolts handy I readied a crossbow and steadied it on the port rail amidships and waited for a target. Hearing others loose into the fog bank and striking home I hesitated briefly recalling Lettie Guffman and loosed the bolt in apprehension. No response! Reloading I witnessed up close and personal, a boulder arc from the fog and bounce off the deck in close proximity. Uncomfortably close! I returned fire and heard a muffled grunt, probably a hit but could’ve been a simple grunt!?! Just then the fog bank, port side erupted in a conflagration of fire from Ramad. Bolts of lightning ripped the firmament to strike at the beasts also. On the prot bow the mist began to part and a big figure wading effortlessly started towards the boat. Someone called out “Storm Guardians!” causing me to looked about, It was simply the climactic continuation of the conversation the troupe was having prior to the encounter with the giants concerning a more fitting name for the troupe. And here I thought we were being rescued by a troop of cavaliers or paladins. The starboard side was engaged as well, but the fog was still intact on that side. As we approached I pulled my percussion wand, stood fast, brought it to bear on the hulking figure, worked the action, placed my finger on the trigger and fired. Aaand missed. RELOAD!!! The barge advanced as did this creature who was identified as a marsh giant…(GULP! EGADS!!)…I am not a giant slayer! Damn you Barus! Dwarves don’t like water! What were you thinking; we could use a giant slayer right about now!!! Just as the giant pulled alongside I finished reloading. I took a step back and repeated the firing process…striking the pasty white lummox in the fat-sack! (HUZZAH!!!) He was also summarily zatched by an electrical discharge from one of Freiderich’s bombs. At which point the giant naturally felt outmatched as he dove into the depths of the river never to be seen again. I turned to move to the stern reloading on the way. Then I heard a now too familiar call, “MAN DOWN!” I glanced to the bow hoping it was not one of our troupe. Alas, Ramad lay slain and pouring onto the deck. At which the troupe to starboard hacked their giant down.
Now the voyage had the stain of loss. Ramad as well as some of the crew lay covered in as good a repose as could be afforded considering the gravity of wounds the giants inflicted upon them. In any case we now approach the outskirts of Whistledown, my birthplace and ancestral home. We must arrange for Ramad’s transport to Father Zantus in Sandpoint.
The mayor decided to ask for our assistance. Outside the note we had found, he had been receiving requests for assistance in Turtleback Ferry. Apparently the newest member of the group, Simon, really wanted to work. Didn’t negotiate or anything, just took the offered 750 and said we’d go. Despite having other plans or desires, we left in 3 days.
When we got back to our inn, Sheleilu was there. We hadn’t seen her since back in Sandpoint. We got her caught up on our exploits and asked about hers. She had heard that we were in Magnamar and she was going to ask us to go with her to Turtleback Ferry. The local rangers, The Black Arrows, had been having issues and she was going there to help. She offered to go with us and suggested we go by boat; it would save a week of travel.
So we got on a boat, and up the river we went. It was fairly uneventful the first couple nights. We ran into some swamp giants that seemed to be trying to take a toll. They killed Ramad, with a rock. We killed one and the other escaped. Now we have to get to the next town and figure out what to do. I had been working on something for Annie and Rikert wants an upgrade to his armor. I want a vacation.
Seventh Day of the Month Neth
More missions – More death – More names
During our dinner with the Lord Governor he thanked us for our work, requested our band to look into trouble down at Turttleback Ferry, and then, after Simon accepted for the group, promptly left. It is obvious we are nothing but instruments to him, however, a little courtesy would do him well. The next four days were spent shopping, arguing over names for our troupe, and planning our trip. Anne requested more poison to replenish her stock and that took most of a day to construct. We eventually left by boat as it would take half the time and we had wasted enough of that already.
The first few days were quiet, I spent most of my time above deck enjoying the scenery and sketching pictures of plants and wildlife. It was kind of nice having a chance to relax, the constant feeling of something trying to kill me had let up and I was more than glad for it. I am not like Rikert and Simon, I do not relish combat. I also know that I cannot allow these murders to continue so perhaps my involvement and acts may be considered necessary. I only mention this because on the third day we encountered two Swamp giants. They concealed their presence with a magical fog across the river and began their assault by throwing massive boulders at the barge. One crewman was knocked overboard and Ramad caught a heavy blow as well in the first volley. I could not see the attackers due to the fog so I began preparing with a mutagen and a few elixirs.
When the fight truly broke out there was so much electricity and ozone in the air between Ramad casting lightning and fire, Sheldor calling lightning from the sky, Lyn casting more lightning and my electrical bombs, that I could not help but yell out during combat that our group should go by “Stormguard”. There was resounding agreement just before one giant horridly clove Ramad nearly in two, killing him instantly. One giant took off and the one that slew Ramad fell to a bomb.
After the chaos, words were said for the hafling, and the barge was cleaned up. A few of us got together and talked tactics afterward in an attempt to increase our chances of survival against organized foes. Hopefully we can find some time to practice working together more before we reach Turttleback Ferry.
We went to the Lord-Mayor’s place and he rewarded us well for our part in the solving of the Magnimar murders and Xanesha's plot. Simon seemed to have settled right in with the group. I watched him speak with the Lord-Mayor and while I couldn’t hear all of their conversation I did pick up on the fact that he agreed for us to take on yet another job. Something about a bunch of scruffy rangers. I’m glad Simon has thrown himself so heartily in with us. I needed to make arrangements for Uther’s remains and the troupe needed to sell and buy some needed supplies. We left the Lord-Mayor's mansion and headed to an Inn.
Lady Shelalu, as Moxie refers to our ranger friend, found us in the Inn and asked us for assistance at Turtleback Ferry. The same place that the Lord-Mayor had just hired us to investigate. While Shelalu’s reason was genuine concern for her ranger friends “Order of the Black Arrows” or something like that. Simon didn’t think the Lord-Mayor had any concern at all for the rangers or for the people of Turtleback Ferry. Simon didn't think the Loard-Mayor liked us either but had to "put up" with us because it would be bad form otherwise. Bad form? What does that mean? Simon said the Lord-Mayor only cared about how others saw his action or inaction on matters, not about the people themselves.
For me it couldn’t be any more obvious, 1. Xanesha’s note pointed to Turtleback Ferry. The Lord-Mayor wanted us to go to Turtleback Ferry. 3. Shelalu was looking for our help at Turtleback Ferry. In my travels I’ve heard mention the rule of three. And what I had heard of the rule of three wasn’t always pleasant. I didn't care about the Lord-Mayor's reason for hiring us.
After a few days in Magnimar with Shelalu and Simon and everyone else having a good time we arranged for passage to Turtleback Ferry. All was good and sometimes fun. We laughed and sang I played my flute and Moxie danced and the ship’s Captain smiled (I think that’s as good as it gets for the Captain). It was turning out to be a great week.
Then it happened. The morning of the third day on the river we were assaulted. Ramod let out an alarm of “In Coming” There was no time, huge rocks fell from the sky and the oarsman right next to me was hit by one of the huge rocks and over the rail he went. I moved to help him back onto the boat. More large rocks shattered beams and timbers sending sailors and passengers sprawling about. I leaned over the railing and helped the sailor out of the river and back on deck.
Out of the mist ahead came a huge pale gray fishy giant and he cut a boatman in half, there was no fixing that. Then I saw Ramod take the full force of a giant’s blow and the gloom entered my bones. Time slowed and I could see Ramod casting spells at the giant and the giant looking intently at Ramod, the giant’s weapon high in the air as it started its arc towards the little Halfling. The weapon sliced and I thought it missed at first but then Ramod slumped and fell to the deck and blood poured from his wound. So much blood. So much blood.
I channeled Desna’s healing power in desperation and said goodbye to Ramod. I allowed myself one look at Moxie to make sure she was alive. Another at the rest of the group then I went bellow deck. I had had enough. Gripping the rail to the lower deck I prayed. Desna oh fountain of freedom, save me from despair, keep my friends from the gloom that I feel. How many must die before we end this? How much blood must be lost? I then returned topside and began taking care of wounds and friends. There has been so much blood.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
Following our victory over Xanesha at the clock tower, we were invited to attend a meal at the Lord-Mayor's house and given his thanks and a monetary reward. He spoke to us about another job in a place called Turtleback Ferry, and Simon, the new guy, jumped right in and said we would do it and agreed to the terms with no discussion from the rest of us. Perhaps I should speak with him about the art of diplomacy and negotiating conditions.
We had a few days in the city before we were scheduled to leave. We took advantage of this time to buy new supplies and work on our equipment. Lynn once again was able to help me increase the effectiveness of my gear, and I owe him something in the future.
We left on a boat down the river later that week. The first few days passed uneventfully, and we all found some time to relax after the chaos of the past few weeks. However, our trip was interrupted on the third day by an attack from two grayish giants that waded out into the river under the cover of a heavy fog bank to attack our boat. At the time of our attack, I was below deck, and heard the battle break out above me and the shouts of the men mixed with the thudding crashes of rocks hitting the deck. It took me a few moments to don the rest of my armor, and then I hurried up the stairs to the deck.
"CRASH!!!" Without warning as I rounded the corner to see what was happening, I was struck a solid blow by a rock that must have weighed more than 70 lbs. My newly repaired armor took most of the force of the missile, but it spun me around and I fell onto my knees, gasping to catch my breath and clear my head. As I arose, I grabbed a large crossbow that was sitting near the rail and looked for signs of the threat through the fog. Following the shouts and sounds through the fog, I fired several bolts into the mist that managed to strike one of the giants.
As the boat continued forward, the outlines of the giants became visible as they waded toward us, swinging great, spear-like weapons similar to a boat hook. The giants used the long poles and their great strength to their advantage. The pendulous swings swept crewmen from the deck like wheat before a scythe. It was during this time that Ramad fell to the giant on the opposite side of the boat from my location. I was fighting the closest giant and didn't actually see him fall. Eventually, the firepower from our magus and bombs from the alchemist dropped one of the giants, and caused the other to flee.
We rushed to the fallen halfling wizard, but it was too late. The blow from the giant had nearly split him in two pieces. He was an asset to the party, but seemed to often find himself in dangerous locations during battle. This time, it cost him his life.
Last night the group started in Whistledown staying in the local inn there. The sounds of the wind chimes giving a few of the players pause. The next day they wanted to look for a scroll and I essentially used the same settlement rules that is listed to Turtleback Ferry. Spending 1 hour looking for the scroll (always a 1d4 hours check in my game) with the captain spending 2 hours looking for a replacement crewman. Mid morning they shoved off and plied up river to Ilsurian.
They stayed there that evening and then plied upriver to Turtleback Ferry the next day.
The player who was playing Ramad, formerly Barus, brought in a new character. A half-orc ranger that followed Erastil only so far as the hunting aspect was concerned. (He's a surely player lover, ie., dump CHA so he can crank STR and/or DEX) The background we are following for his reason for being there is that he was an adventuring companion to Jakardros Sovark for a small while and was in the area he had heard his friend had moved to. He also learned of the disappearance of the Black Arrows and had arrived in town learning that others have gone up to find out about the missing rangers only to never return. Knowing that Magnimar might be sending help, he had planned to tag along with them rather than go solo.
So a large portion of the night was the role-play between the new character and the group. Learning what little he knew and talking. Most of the "face" players were not present for this part so only Lynn attempted to gather any information. Even though he rolled poorly, I gave it to him anyways since one of the other "face" players would have learned about the Paradise.
The half-orc was also the only player to notice the tattoos on some of the people in town. When he made note of that to the group when asked if had seen anything odd in the town, the group had a grand discussion at that tidbit. Xanesha's letter from her "sister" being the main focal point there.
They then started the next day up the road to Fort Rannick. The encounter with Kibb might have been a wash had the half-orc and druid listened to the paladin and fighter. The sound of the barking dogs and off-key singing had the group not entering into the woods and just standing on the road "holding" position. The half-orc moved in roughly 100' to discover Kibb and just barely made the required DC 15 check to realize that Kibb was a animal companion. By this time the druid had arrived as well as an invisible Lynn. For a few rounds they struggled with the bear trap unable to overcome the DC 28 STR check to release the cat before they prepared for the approaching hunters.
Because I have such a large group, I switched the encounter to 10 dogs (normal HPs) and twin ogre-kin brothers. Rukus essentially had a twin brother with the exact same deformity but on the opposite arm.
The ogres ordered the dogs to attack when the 'parlay' did not go over with the party refusing to give them Kibb. Well, CR 1 dogs (even 10 of them) do not stand up long to a 8 level 8 characters. In addition the orc fired enough (gravity bow) arrows to do 60+ damage in a single round to one of ogre-kin. So bawling at the damage and loss of their dogs they ran. And were essentially destroyed with one Entangle, a few arrows, a really big bomb and a dimension doored fighter.
We called it there for a night with the druid having cast Speak with Animals and learning about "master hurt" and "kibb fetch help."
Action report, draft; Simon Roque reporting.
1. Remainder of trip to Turtleback Ferry was uneventful after the demise of Ramad Underbridge. Discussed tactics with several other party members, and requested the alchemist make me some potions to raise combat effectiveness.
2. Turtleback Ferry is not much more than a one-horse town. One Inn, one tavern, no whorehouse. It’s almost like we’re camping out, except that the innkeeper charges far too much for his accommodations. Met local HMFIC (Sheed?) and discussed the situation. Everyone seems simultaneously happy that someone has come to their aid, and yet disappointed that we’re not the whole damned army.
3. Met a half-orc ranger who desires to tag along with us to Fort Rannick looking for the Black Arrows. He knows the right names to drop. Not sure I trust him, orcs are known to be violent and less-than-stellar intellectually, as well as lazy and untrustworthy. We’ll have to wait and see.
4. Next morning took the path north toward Fort Rannick. Rain seems to be the one constant feature in this region. Only a few miles outside of town, the orc “heard a noise” and took off into the woods, which are known to be crawling with ogres and other dangerous beasts. Defying direct orders from Rikert, the druid set off after him; Lynn vanished and apparently followed. Moxie, Friederich and Zandu held proper formation as we awaited developments.
5. Finally entering the woods at a word from our insufficiently wary companions, we were reforming the line near a trapped animal when we were set upon by two deformed individuals and a pack of dogs. We made short work of them, and the orc actually fought on our side. The druid claims to be talking to the (now freed) animal, and we are proceeding deeper into the woods…
Simon gave us a lot of good reasons for fighting as a group instead of just running around hitting the first thing you came to. It will be hard for me but Simon seems determined to get me and the others trained. He asked me if I would use a long spear for a weapon and I said sure. He wants me to stay behind him and Rikert and fight with the long spear when I can. My main mission in a fight will be to boost others abilities and heal the troupe and be more of an aid using Desna’s divine power in a more positive way. Simon, for behaving like such an oaf, really takes keeping the troupe safe even in a fight very seriously. I think Rikert is the same way he just never treated the rest of us the way Simon does. I think Rikert expected it from us but we never knew it, whereas Simon demands it outright no questions, just do as I say.
The boat’s Captain stopped off at Whistledown to hire another crew member, so we were able to sleep in a bed yet again. I like this boat travelling idea. The next morning we went up river to Ilsurian and spent yet another night in a warm comfy bed. This was our last stop before we reached Turtleback Ferry. We were back on the river heading to Turtleback Ferry. Sheleilu had taken up Ramad’s place at the front of the barge. She was keeping to herself for the most part only occasionally smiling or even singing along when Moxie and I played an old Sandpoint song or tune. She had a distant demeanor and was not ready to share with us what was troubling her.
We reached Turtleback Ferry late afternoon early evening in time to get a room and a meal before running off to the tavern. I played my flute and sang songs with the locals and some of the sailors from the barge. The rest of my troupe sat at table and drank. I saw a big half orc approach Simon and for a second I thought there was going to be a fight so I changed up the song I was playing so that most looked to me to see what had happened to the music. Simon stood up and after a brief moment sat back down and so did the half orc. The half orc looked like a ranger and I figured Simon was getting information from him. The others were busy talking with people too. I went back to some songs I had learned while in Magnimar and everyone seemed to like them. I retired early enough to take a quick walk around town before doing my daily meditations to Desna. I enjoy our talks at midnight, the beginning of the day, I speak to her and sometimes in my dreams she speaks to me. It’s the best time of day. In the morning when the sun came up I ventured into town to purchase a long spear. I found one and had Desna bless it and made it better.
After breakfast we headed out of town to Fort Rannick to see what had happened to the rangers. The half orc accompanied us, it turns out that he and Sheleilu had a mutual friend in the Black Arrows and they were both anxious to find out more about what had happened to them. While we were walking the conversation turned to what the troupe had learned the night before. It would seem that a “pleasure” boat had sunk a few weeks back and that the clientele had tattooed a sihedron star somewhere on their person to be allowed more access to the girls and gaming on the boat. Everyone doubted the sinking and that the proprietor of the boat a red headed hottie was probably the person from Xanesha’s note, we will figure it out I’m sure. I was caught off guard as the half orc stopped and darted off into the woods, followed by the druid. Rikert said “Hold” and turned towards the direction the ranger and druid had gone. It was unbelievably hard not to chase off with the others. But I remembered Simon's words.
Simon said do not go off alone and I fell in behind him, Rikert and Lynn just like Simon had told me to. Moxie stayed with us, Friedrich was on my left side and Rikert and Simon in front of me, Lynn was just in front of me and to my right, I asked for Desna to allow any of Lynn’s wounds to be shared with me. Lynn then disappeared from sight and it wasn’t long before I felt Desna’s bond drop, I knew Lynn had moved away from us as the spell has a short range. Simon said “We stay together and move as a group” and started swiftly off in the direction the ranger had gone; we stayed as a group and followed. I could hear hounds and singing ahead and wondered what we would find. It appeared to be some kind of hunt. The druid was tending to a large fire pelt cougar. He was the only thing between the cougar and the hounds. I asked Desna for the aid of another large cat to help us. It came and fought two of the hounds I struck at hounds from behind Rikert and Simon. There were two Ogres as well and they were laughing and yelling at each other as the dogs’ attacked us.
At some point I realized that the half orc and Lynn were fighting the Ogres from a distance. The Ogres actually fled Simon yelled "Do not let the Ogres escape" at which point I asked him if he wanted to be next to them. He said "Yes, they must not escape to warn any others". I closed my eyes and in my mind Desna showed me a door that would lead me straight to the Ogres location, I walked through with Simon in tow. Something grabbed my feet as soon as I had taken that step through the door but it didn’t matter Simon and I were right where we wanted to be and Simon attacked, Friedrich attacked, the half orc attacked and Lynn attacked, the Ogres fell. The fire pelt cougar was pulling on the druid to follow it....
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Into the Wilderness!
Poling up river there were no further encounters with giants or any other creatures to Whistledown. I found the town quaint and hospitable even in the chill of the cooler climate. As the Riverboat Captain needed to recruit replacements for the crewmen slain by the marsh giants and intended to stay overnight, I slipped away and attempted to find the places I recalled from childhood memories. Sadly, they had changed to a point that allowed for recognition, but just barely. The buildings remained though in different ownership and none dwelling there knew of my relation personally. Oh some knew of them through word of mouth but I found they had all passed to the arms of Shelyn or travelled to new lands to pursue opportunity elsewhere.
Walking the cemetery grounds I could recall no names save a single grave marking the final resting place of my beloved grandmother, who it was told grieved for a long period at the report of the death of her daughter and her family on the road to Sandpoint many years ago. She was a warm memory to me. Always a loving smile and open arms ready to hold and hug, playful and kindhearted, but serious when required. I knelt at her grave and paused for a while. I said hello and introduced myself to her again. I apologized for being so late in coming to visit and asked her forgiveness. I recounted all the warm loving moments we shared in my childhood and thanked her for them. I also expressed my gratitude for all the life lesson’s she had shared and the early guidance she had afforded me. With a tearful countenance and heavy heart I expressed my deep regret for not pursuing family at an earlier age and apologized once more. I said goodbye and recited the children’s prayer to Shelyn she had taught me when I was young. Walking back through Whistledown I slowed, closed my eyes and let the wind chimes songs enter my heart. I do not know if I will ever be back, and wish to remember the feelings I have here and now, so that I never take advantage of my relationships or my time gifted by Shelyn again!When I regained the troupe I wiped the emotion from my eyes and took in the martial instruction Brisket was giving. Sensible, sound advice in theory! The test is, can it be implemented? Luckily it did not fall upon deaf ears so some of us may survive…maybe. We shall see? At the conclusion of our training session I retired early to relieve myself of the emotional weight of the day.
Eyes still closed in that dream state I heard myself say “Shelyn be praised.” I awoke from a dream which can only…only… be explained as a gift from god! I spoke and interacted with my family as I recalled them as a child. It was so much fun; it was filled with so much love…WHAT A GIFT!! Eternal Rose, thank you for this blessing! I rolled over on my back and streeeetched to the squeak! Gathered myself and washed from a bucket of well water. After eating we disembarked on the barge upstream. I stood on the stern of the boat and watched as Whistledown faded from view and then rejoined the troupe for another lesson in martial instruction. We landed that evening in Ilsurian and spent another night in the dry, warm, bed of an Inn. Early again the next day we were off to Turtleback Ferry.
We moored to the pier at Turtleback Ferry in the early evening. The end of the line on our river voyage, I wished the crew and Captain the best of luck and made for the Inn. With it being such a small town it was best to secure a place to sleep as soon as possible. We all made our way on sea legs to the local tavern and listened to Xandu’s songs and flute while we threw back some ale’s. Xandu suddenly changed his tune, mid song, and wondering if he had lost his mind, I turned to him with a scowl. At which point I saw he was attempting to warn us of the approach of a road weary half-orc inbound to our troupe. Menacing in appearance only as yet, I took no comfort in his lack of hostility and quickly moved to ready my wand! As it happens the half-orc wanted to join our troupe to check up on a colleague and fellow ranger at Fort Rannick. Half-orc’s??? Rangers??? Who knew!!? Anyway Brisket got him squared away and up to speed with our intended path, and hopefully our new tactics. A half-orc….hmmm!?
After what was likely the last warm dry bed we will have for a while. I enjoyed the comfort and rest. I rose with the crowing of the rooster, washed up and ate the warm food provided. A great day for a stroll, cold and rainy…love-ly! We struck out for Fort Rannick, my eyes watching the half-orc. Shalelu must have sensed my distrust for the new guy because she struck up a conversation with him and they found common ground on a fellow ranger they both claimed as a friend. Yaa, well, we’ll see! Suddenly the rangers and the druid bounded off into the woods! Rikert told us to stay put, Brisket Xandu and Rikert watched as they moved into the woods. Brisket turned to the troupe and said “Stay together and move together, understand?” I nodded and followed them into the woods. Once I could see what was going on I stopped! A firepelt Cat..EGADS! I wanted nothing to do with another great cat! Apparently caught in a trap….SO!! WHATS THE PROBLEM?? I scrunched down in the foliage as they released the cat from the trap. It started to pull at Sheldor, trying to lead him..TO HIS DOOM NO DOUBT! Then the baying of hounds filled the dripping soggy wood. Followed by the duet of the most woefully pathetic idiots I have ever heard, loping along behind their dogs. The dogs must have caught the scent of the great cat as they advanced quickly. The dog handlers called out saying that we should not hurt their dogs and be on our way. From my vantage point all I could tell was that they were oger-ish types, but not quite, really. They were like twins but with misshapen arms. One had a left arm shaped like a big finger, the others was his right arm. Anyway, the troupe held its ground as the dogs were given the command to attack. They were obliged in kind and dread was placed upon them in large amounts quickly. I struck two with my axe from afar. I found myself vexed and exposed with the sudden disappearance of my wall of meat and healer. Frederick and I were left behind and he left to engage the orges deeper in the woods. I found myself with a druid, a great cat and a half-orc….NOT GOOD!! So I crept back to a good hiding point and listened to the combat come to its climax deeper in the rain soaked woods. Thankfully the entire troupe returned mostly intact. Now we find ourselves being led by the great cat to its master…based on previous experience, what could possibly be wrong with this idea…EGADS!!!
Well, we left Whistledown and continued on up river to Turtleback Ferry. There we made arrangements for Ramad’s body to be sent back to Sandpoint. We went into town and got rooms at the local inn.
We cleaned up a bit and were grabbing a bite to eat when we were approached by the local religious figure. We spoke to him about things going on here and let him know we were going to look into it. Many of us went across the street to the tavern. I got some good wine and bought a round for the house, apparently a couple rounds. Moxie and Zandu were performing and getting the house kind of lively.
A half-orc over heard people referring to us as “the help” being sent down from Magnamar. He came over to the table and we spoke. He was here looking for a ranger friend of his that he hadn’t heard from in a while. The name caught Sheleilu by surprise as this was who she was looking for also. Her connection is a bit tedious as he was her mother’s lover and he left her when a dragon attack killed her mother.
Anyway, he said he wanted to go with us and I agreed and explained to some of the other members who were not busy at the time. He said he’d been in town for a few days and had noticed some things but it was a combination of our journey and investigation that led to any real information.
I started asking some locals about things going on in the area. They didn’t want to talk, but alcohol loosens the tongue. It appears that there was a boat that supplied gambling and women for those who paid. The boat was called the Paradise and it sunk about 2 weeks ago. To get into the special rooms, you had a tattoo put somewhere on your body. I think there’s some sort of underhanded religious thing going on here and that’s what the sibling to Xanesha was referring to in the letter.
We left the next morning in the cold rain and traveled north toward Fort Rannick. We went so far and then some party members heard guttural singing and a cat scream. Some of us ventured into the woods to check it out despite some of our military type members saying not to. We found a fire cat in a bear trap and multiple ogre types and lots of dogs coming. We struggled to get the cat out of the trap because the cat was apparently a druid or ranger companion animal, according to the half orc.
About the time we got the cat out two ogrekin showed up with a bunch of dogs. Zandu, Simon and Rikert had moved up us by that point and the fight was on. There was a short discussion, the animal companion was trying to get Sheldor to go with him back to his master. We killed the dogs and the ogre kin and now we’re going to follow the cat deeper into the woods. Maybe this ranger or druid will be able to give us some information on what is going on around here.
Rikert Krupt- Paladin of Iomedae
Following the fight with the giants and the death of Ramad, we tended the wounded amongst the party and the crew, and then continued on up the river. We passed through a small town that appeared to be largely populated by gnomes. We stopped here briefly, and then once again boarded the boat to complete our journey to Turtleback Ferry.
When we arrived at Turtleback Ferry, we made arrangements with the captain to return Ramad's body back to Magnimar and then on to Sandpoint. Following this somber business, we found lodging at a local inn and I took advantage of the opportunity to get a hot bath and relax before heading down to the common room to eat and find my friends. During the time I was getting cleaned up, the party had made themselves at home, eating and drinking while Xandu sang and played to entertain everyone.
I was surprised to see a large, half-orc talking with Simon. Evidently, he had talked his way into joining us as we continued our search for Xanesha's "sister." It seems his interest in finding the missing Black Arrows coincides with our plans to travel to Fort Rannick.
We heard rumors of a "pleasure" boat that had been operating in the local area. The boat held various temptations and sinful activities that drew many of the locals to sample the opportunities presented therein. Many of the people who frequented the boat received sihedron tattoos that matched the amulet and clues we have found during our investigation. The boat disappeared within the past weeks and the rumors say it sank. This sounds like a good place to spend some time investigating the real facts about the boat and the mysterious woman who seemed to be in charge.
It was decided that we should continue on to Fort Rannick in the morning, and investigate the boat later.
We left early the next day and walked along the road that led to the fort. After we crossed a small bridge, the half-orc motioned that he heard something in the woods just off of the road. He immediately moved into the woods along with the druid. I told the others to "hold" here and not run off into the woods. Simon echoed my instructions and cautioned the others to stay together and advance as a group. As we moved into the woods, we heard dogs barking and what sounded like singing. We found a small clearing just ahead, and located the druid and the half-orc working quickly to free a large feline stuck in a leg trap. As they released the creature, a pack of dogs burst into the clearing, followed closely by a pair of grotesque twins with deformed features and arms. We made quick work of the dogs, and the half-orc fired long arrows that struck the first humanoid with furious force. As we engaged the other creature, they both turned to flee back in the direction from which they had first appeared. The druid called forth the power of nature and slowed their retreat with grasping weeds and vines which tangled around their legs. At the same time, Xandu and Simon both appeared directly in front of the creatures and Simon quickly cut them down.
Following the fight, the druid told us that the feline belonged to another druid that was nearby and needed help. We fell back into our traveling formation and began to walk in the direction indicated by the druid.
Eleventh Day of the Month Neth
Investigation – Suspicion – Communication
We arrived at Turttleback Ferry in the middle of the evening finding residence in its only inn. After paying the necessary monies I dropped my pack and extra weight before heading across the street to the tavern to join the rest of the troupe. While a few spent their time trying to figure out what had been going on, I was trying to plan for what we might encounter. Apparently the rangers of the area have gone missing or at least haven’t come by for some time. As well a pleasure barge had disappeared a couple of weeks back, run by a lustrous red head by the name Lucrecia (or however you spell these odd Varisian names). To get into the “VIP” section one had to get a tattoo somewhere on their person. This tattoo just so happened to be the same sahedrin ruin we have encountered many times now. So, somehow she was using the tattoo to harvest the greed from these foolish people. We agreed to head to Fort Rannick first thing in the morning.
During breakfast I noticed a new face at the table; a half-orc, hunter or forest walker by the looks of him. Somehow I had missed his joining our adventure last night at the tavern, could have been all that ale. Anyway started heading north with the river to our left, keeping in our new formation, with the half-orc scouting slightly ahead. Some kilometers out of town I heard what sounded like multiple dogs barking and closing on us from the forest to the left. When I looked back to the front of the column the half-orc had moved into the forest with the druid moving in as well. Rikert and Simon were trying to get people to hold, so Lynn, Zandu (surprisingly) and I stayed with them. We waited about half of a minute trying to figure out the situation. I took advantage of the seconds to dump a few chemicals down my throat expecting a fight. We moved in together finding the druid trying to get a very large firepelt cougar out of a bear trap. It was obvious that this was a highly trained animal, not some wild creature, likely some druid’s companion. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to move once the creature was free as I could hear the dogs to be very close as well as what sounded like two deep voices attempting to sing, in some unintelligible mix between common and giant, a song about eating kitties. When they came into sight I understood why they sounded like simple minded folk. They were humanoid in shape, though I am unsure of their blood, perhaps they were human, but inferior genetics likely due to inbreeding was apparent. Probably twins, they mirrored each other physically, having an arm that deformed into a single massive finger. They made a request that we give them the cat and they would let us leave. I responded that their request was unreasonable as this was not some wild animal to be hunted. They either didn’t comprehend what I said or they didn’t care and proceeded to release their hounds.
The ensuing fight lasted less than a minute; minimal wounds on our side and complete annihilation of the brothers and most of their hounds. After the druid spoke with the cougar, he told us that its master was nearby and in need of our help. We are currently on our way to provide what assistance we can in hope of gleaning more information on the recent goings on.
So last night the group moved on to the Graul Farmstead and "hillbilly hell."
I will say that the overall room description had many of the players squirming in their seats and one of the players seriously wants to write Paizo and say, "WTF?" but in a good, I liked it way.
The initial encounter was with Crowfood with two other ogrekin running into the barn as described in the encounter rules for not wanting to fight in the open. They made short work of Crowfood, ie., 2 rounds and beyond dead.
They then moved to the barn and began their assault with an attempted door beatdown and then assault. As in my other fights all the mobs had full health, and I had 6 ogrekin in the barn armed with a spear and ogre-hook. Lets just say that 6 ogrekin at full health do not in any way slow down 8 level 8 players.
The ogre-spider (even at full health) was reduced to 1/3 health from 1 volley of arrows from the half-orc ranger and one alchemist bomb. From the description they were worried it was going to be a "party wipe or TPK" creature. With only 1 attack, hitting a AC 26 isn't easy. It only got the one attack before it was killed off.
A small break in the quickness of their assault was given while Shalelu and her step-father talked at the doors of the barn while most of the party spoke with Kaven and Vale. The rest of the party was spelunking for hidden treasure in the spider hole.
Eventually the assault on the home began with the group entering into area A4 since it was the closest door. Needless to say after the first trap sprung heading to A3 and it hit Simon, they began looking for traps in all the doors. The group moved their way through most of the house having seen to the "nursery" and we called it in the middle of the fight with Mammy.
So far they have cake walked through Mammy's 6 ogrekin sons and 3 zombies (all at max health) with Lynn and Simon making their very important saves vs Contagion (Blinding Sickness) and Curse.
As a GM I wonder if this encounter is a little light in the challenge rating. Need to do some more reading to make sure I am not missing somehting.
Action report, draft, Simon Roque reporting.
1. Followed the druid and the “talking” cougar several miles through woods to a farmstead, several misshapen “ogrekin” evident. Two took shelter in a barn, one charged. Charging creature killed, we then hastened to the barn where we were forced to break open the door. About six ogrekin inside were killed with only minor injuries sustained to our group. I must impress upon Friederich the need for him to remain in off the front line; he managed to sandwich himself between me and an assailant. Someday soon we will run into fighters that are not a joke, and then we will lose our best damage-dealer through his own carelessness.
2. Rescued three Black Arrows from imprisonment in barn; there were excited shouts about a spider ‘as big as an elephant’ but no injuries.
3. Reunited Shelelu with her “father,” which seemed very reserved. Not a very touchy-feely family, I guess. Shared intelligence with the Black Arrows, who seem less than eager to assault Fort Rannick. They claim it has been taken by an organized force of ogres, and that the Black Arrows were destroyed piecemeal as they were on patrol.
4. Search of farmhouse has turned up horrors beyond imagining. Several more ogrekin destroyed, and several traps found the hard way. Confrontation with clan matriarch is ongoing…
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nasty, Nasty, NASTY!!
Accursed foul weather! Does it rain here day in and out? EGADS!! We followed the firepelt to assist in rescuing its master. I stayed well to the rear of the troupe to avoid it as it seems much larger than the gobs that nearly made me its cat snack on Thistletop. It led us to a farm with a house, barn and an unnerving number of ogre-kin. While grotesque and vile, I must say I prefer them over the undead! I knew this cat would be our undoing! It has led us into a trap or a fight a might more troublesome than we have faced in some time. These ogre kind are much meatier and hostile than we are accustomed. EGADS!
Our approach did not go unnoticed and thankfully were charged by one of three of the ogre’s with the others taking shelter in the barn. Well shelter is not quite right. The single ogre was felled sharply and we advanced upon the barn. The door showed no sign of malignant hostility. Upon opening the door the rest of the ogre clan rushed the troupe. A great melee ensued. I managed two arrow hits, one barely pierced flesh the second burrowed to the fletchings. Spells and bombs rained at the entrance of the barn, soon all was quiet again. We conducted cursory searches and found doors sealed by large timbers on the main floor and two more doors leading to the same room accessed by catwalks to either side of the room. I went with Frederick, Lynn and the half-orc, whose name is Dorkus…no no umm, Darkarse….nooo…Duh’rock I think…maybe??! When we opened the doors the cat walk went around the entire wall of this room but at the corners were cages for prisoners. We entered to find a humungous spider web from which issued a GIANT human faced spider, and by giant I mean the size of a gypsy wagon! And wouldn’t you know it, all the prisoners were in the cage on the other side of the barn. I resigned from sight and scaled the cage to the catwalk and crept to the other side of the barn as the bold troupe mates I had entered with fought the beast. It was frailer than I had assumed and was dispatched by the time I had scale the occupied cage. Unlocking the cage we found three unhealthy looking prisoners. Xandu saw to their needs as I unlocked their manacles and shackles. Extricating from the spiders den we moved to the entry of the barn where the drama of Shelalu and her father took place with a quiet heated discussion. I joined the handsome prisoner at the still, only to be snubbed by the offer of better quality booze…UGH!! I thought of Shelalu and poured her a drought of the moon liquor and met her at the door where she had stood lookout watching the house while we cleared the barn. I approached and offer a mug. Apparently she is no fan of moon liquor…who knew?? After she regained her breath she made that clear!
Following the barn assault we turned to the house. The door was found to be clear of any dangerous intent and unlocked. We entered quickly and were assaulted in the extreme by the site and smell of a butcher shop of horrors! All manner of body parts being prepared for consumption…VURP! Gag…VURP! UHHH! Spit…spit…covering my mouth with my elbow I swooned about, steadying myself with my bow so as to concentrate on not fainting. EGADS is this the legacy of the Black Arrows!?! Is this how they met their end!? Whatever is responsible for this horror is deserving of all my pent up anger and frustration. As I recovered from the stench and visage of the kitchen of carnage Brisket attempted a door, a door as yet unchecked, a door as yet cleared of any malign consequences. One pain inflicting scythe trap later it has been again suggested I clear the entries before attempting them. A wise decision indeed!
In the connecting rooms we found a nursery…scratch three offspring! Also a room with crates full of baby female ogre-kin corpses and bones…gender preference?? To what end?? Further we found a room with a floor trap and a pit of spikes. Finally as disturbing an experience as the Kitchen of carnage is the bed chamber of the ogre-Mammy. A putrescent, corpulent, floating, soiled, turd-painting she-ogre-kin covered in the funk and filth of how long only the gods may know. Could I but remove a wall of this house I would drag this fetid witch-ogre to the river in the rain through the mud and drown her with my own hands. Her existence offends my spirit and the natural order of the world in which we reside! “Shelyn guide our hands as we cleanse this offense from the world, make us fast and accurate so that we may pursue the devils using them and lay them low as well!”
We were charged again by ogre-kin and zombies…apparently I have spoken to soon…undead and ogre-kin…how shiny!! They attacked and the bloated she-ogress slung spooks and spells at the heavy fighters of the troupe. I prepared my percussion wand and blasted the nearest ogre-kin from the back rank using the proper form and technique learned from my trainer and my observations of Uther. As the festering spunk collector gnashes her foul black magic at our troupe, and we smash her toy soldiers, I will hack and blast her to the special places of fear and darkness where she will be treated in the way she is most accustomed. There…reloaded, now who needs some lead jewelry?!?
We followed the cougar deeper into the forest. He seemed to be certain of his destination. We came to a trail and followed it for several miles. It led to a farmstead. The farmstead no longer housed humans, but more ogrekin. One very large creature seemed to be minding the crops, but poorly. We split up, with our new half-orc companion sneaking closer and us continuing down the path. It was raining since we left and it wasn’t letting up now.
There were two ogrekin outside besides the large one minding the crops. They saw us and charged right after the large one saw us and roared. Our attacks felled the three monsters and we proceeded into the barn.
We found several more in the barn and set to taking them out also. When we finished, we found a barred door in a wall dividing the barn. There was a catwalk that went down the two sides of the barn and led to a small door on each side. When we went through the door, we found the bottom half of the barn was covered in webs with a large hole funneling down into the dark. There was a cage with 3 men in it; they appeared to be unconscious at least. We freed the men and killed the creature that someone called an ogre spider.
It turned out that one of the men in the cage was the one that Sheleilu and the half-orc were looking for. The other two gave us a rundown on what had been going on with Fort Rannick and the Black Arrows. Apparently both were overrun by ogre kind and they had reinforced the fort.
We left them to go explore the house. We found what appears to be young ogrekin and we disposed of them. Then we made a discovery of piles and piles of baby bones that appear to belong to female baby ogrekin. All of them had their necks broke. Looks like only the males survive.
We found the “mother” along with 3 zombies and more ogrekin in a room. We are in the process of killing all of them.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
The cat led us farther into the woods along the road. After traveling a fair distance, we came upon a ramshackle farmstead complete with a poorly tended field of corn. I guess the "farmers" at Sandpoint must have spread. Someone needs to teach these people about how to properly grow crops or they are likely to starve to death.
We were immediately attacked by more of the ogrekin as soon as we approached the house and barn. These flawed, inbred, mutants don't seem to be much of a threat, at least not to our group which has been showing improved combat tactics with the addition of Simon.
We killed the three outside the barn and then made quick work of another group within the barn. We found the prisoners in a cage in the back area of the barn, along with a huge spider web that nearly filled the room. The enormous spider appeared, but didn't catch us by surprise as we had kept a close eye on the web. The alchemist and the new archer made short work of the spider, and we were able to release the prisoners. We spoke briefly with them and healed their wounds before they left and we moved to the house.
Opening the door of the house set off a trap that caught Simon by surprise. The wicked blade and the resulting injury made us more cautious as we entered the house. Inside, we found the gory remains of the ogrekin's food which seemed to consist of humans who had been captured and killed. We searched through the house, finding a few more ogrekin, and evidence of a brutal system of selection practiced upon the ogrekin children. It seems that all of the female young were killed soon after birth.
We reached a large room at the back of the house that held the bloated and disgusting "mother" of the ogrekin and more of her twisted children. In addition, it appears she is a necromancer of some skill as we faced undead zombies and dark spells that she cast at various members of the party. I once again summoned the holy power of Iomedae and commenced to cut down these evil abominations.
(Player's note: I'm pretty sure that whoever wrote this portion of the adventure has seen (and possibly has an unnatural attraction to) the X-files episode titled "Home" about the inbred family that had an old farmhouse full of traps and three mutant brothers who kept their quadriplegic mother under the bed for breeding purposes!) see link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_(The_X-Files)
We then moved to the barn to finish the other two and to hopefully rescue the fire-pelts master. The doors to the barn where shut and Moxie examined them for traps. Finding none she said that they were probably barred from the other side. The big guys up front beat and battered the doors open and we were set upon by more ogre-kin. Being unskilled and out matched we overcame them. They fought to the last man, never a thought about surrender or quarter. People were moving around in the barn, two catwalks lined the outer walls of the barn each ending at a door. There was also a huge double door on this floor barred from this side; definitely keeping something inside the ogre-kin didn’t want to deal with. The troupe split into three parts two parts to either door at the end of each catwalk and a third was keeping an eye on both the house and the progress in the barn. I was with the latter.
Simon and Shelalu were at the barn’s door looking out into the rain watching the house and I was at the base of one of the cat-walks ready to aid either side, uncomfortably waiting for something to burst through the large door in front of me. The guys on the catwalks disappeared into the room beyond the doors and a cry came out that the group on the right side had found people in a cage and couldn’t tell how badly they were hurt. I looked at Simon and he shooed me away to go and help. I asked that Desna please save and revive these men and even though I felt her power course through me the men remained unconscious. I helped get them to their feet and walk them slowly to the barns ground floor. The whole time I was doing this the rest of the troupe’s attention was on a gigantic spider web that filled the entire rest of the barn. And I had a clue as to what the ogre-kin were afraid of. As I had almost reached Simon with the person in tow a scream and fight broke out behind me. It ended before I could react. One big dead ogre-spider. As Simon would say “WTF over” I don’t know what it means but he says things like that at times like this. Oh, one of the prisoners was both the fire-pelts “master- friend” and the ranger the half-orc and Shelalu had been looking for.
As I tended the wounded, Shelalu and the ranger moved away from the rest of us and started talking to each other. Ok maybe Shelalu started talking very loudly at the ranger. The other two rangers, Kaven and Vale, gave us a grave report. It would seem that while the Black Arrows were out a large group of ogre-kin had taken their home, Fort Rannick and have all but wiped them out. Eager to travel onward to Fort Rannick we moved towards the house hopefully to find it empty, t’was not the case however. Decay and death filled the air as we opened the door. A gross display of cookery and bowls filled to overflowing with mangled body parts. The smell alone would gag the best of us but the congealed blood and the thick cloud of bloated flies was too much we moved to the next room without Moxie checking it and got reminded that there is always time for caution. Simon took a nasty cut from a trap; I’ll check him for disease later. I along with the rest of us just wanted out of the “kitchen”. In this room we could see the nasty workings of the trap that just sliced Simon and Moxie was able to disarm them. She was looking a little pale but now that I think of it so did everyone else. We started moving through the house killing, destroying any foul thing that showed itself. Simon and especially Rikert were on a mission to kill anything remotely evil. I could see Rikert’s veins on his neck as they bulged, everyone was tense. Then it happened Moxie checked a door and we went in ready for the next assault on our senses but we weren’t ready for what waited there.
The huge, bulbous, fat, disgustingly ugly, matriarch of these ogre-kin laid waiting for our entry into her bedroom. Her bloated body floating just above the filth covered floor. The lust in her eyes for whatever she wanted from us was plain for all to see. She must have known that we had just killed everything that was between her and the rest of humanity and she hadn’t a care in the world. She was going to feast on us and she knew it. Ogre-kin and zombies attacked at the same time she did, my world had become suddenly black. I was wet and movement was difficult, the smell, the sights, even the taste, was horrific. I didn’t want anything to touch me. I felt that if it, any of it got on me I would surely succumb to it’s disease. I feared for my friends, I feared for us all.
Last week (little late in posting this) the group finished up in the farmhouse.
The night began mid-fight with Mammy, a few "sons" and two remaining ghouls. About all she managed to get to work was a cause blindness on the Alchemist after nailing her with a rather impressive bomb. As it was, she doesn't deal much direct damage unless she channels and I never had the opportunity to do it. The only other action was to Grease Simon's bow, but he continually made the Reflex save to maintain his grip.
Eventually she reached her damage threshold and Dimension Doored to the barn, not knowing that it was already cleared of any reinforcements. Instead she arrived to find Shalelu, and the remaining rangers. Narratively, I had her cast Reduce Person on Shalelu, while the rangers fought with Ogre Hooks that were lying about after the fight with the party.
The group as soon as she left scattered to find her. The half-orc eventually broke through a boarded up window to look outside, while the paladin began running to the basement. The rest of the group moved "mostly" together to the upstairs. At this point it was sort of a "herding cats" moment, so I did a quick turn based action for each person at the table, since most were buffed.
When it was all said and done, most of the party was upstairs poking around finding it empty, the half-orc had returned inside and was going to assist the paladin in the basement when he made the perception check to hear the sounds of combat coming from the barn.
Stepping outside he was greeted to the form of Kaven running down the path, looking rather pale and weak (narrative negative channels from Mammy). He shouted an alarm and then moved to see what was happening and with one arrow, ended Mammy. She only had 9 wounds left when she cast Dimension Door.
Most of the group ran outside but the paladin continued on. Eventually he found Hucker and since he was mostly alone I just left it him and his rats but all at max health. The Ninja/Witch and half-orc arrived next while the rest of the group was spending time curing and making sure there were no more surprises upstairs.
The fight with Hucker was meh, the rats did nothing but provide a flank for one sneak attack before they were all brought down. He did hit rather hard and the paladin did have to use a couple of lay on hands to stay healthy. Thats when they moved on and found the Tendriculos.
The fight here was rather fun since I grabbed the paladin in the mouth and spent several turns before eventually swallowing him whole. Grabbed a vanished Witch/Ninja and began crushing her, and then with its other tentacle tried to keep the doors shut so the half-orc couldn't shoot it. By the time the whole party arrived and broke down the door, the ninja/witch and paladin had nickel-and-dimed it down enough so that one volley from the group killed it. The paladin was very close to 0 HPs, the ninja/witch was as well. Turned out to be a fun fight in the long run.
It was then that the group began talking with the rangers about what to do in retaking Rannick.
Action report, draft, continued; Simon Roque reporting.
1. After her minions fell, the matriarch made a magical escape. Believing the fight to be all but over, the party scattered to search the house. Frederick had been struck blind, and Xandu seemed to assign himself to assisting him.
2. Rikert and the orc headed for the basement, while I lead the remainder of the group upstairs. Once at the head of the stairs, having opened a door leading to a dormitory of sorts, Xandu claimed that he heard the orc shouting that our adversary was in the barn. He then magically transported me, Lynn and himself there, where we saw the matriarch expiring on the ground; no permanent injuries were sustained by the group. Believing the fight to be truly over now, we began trudging through the rain back to the house to regroup.
3. While gathering the party on the main floor of the house, I heard shouting and fighting from the basement, and all of us who could ran in that direction. Rikert had been swallowed by a plant creature, but hacked his way out. No significant casualties sustained.
4. After completing a thorough search of the premises as a group, we adjourned to the barn to camp and discuss our next moves. Xandu was able to cure Frederick’s blindness, and one of the Black Arrows drew us a crude map of Fort Rannick. I fear that the assault on the fort will require more stealth and luck than we have readily available.
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I'm sorry. I have to step in here and invade your wonderful campaign and say: I've thoroughly enjoyed reading of your exploits. I'm so impressed with not only your session descriptions, USEPLANB, but also your players. I'd like to single out Moxie and Uther, especially. Don't get me wrong, Lint, MordeanGrey, Eilarolyn, and everyone else: you've been stellar. Just call me: captivated :)
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Well, mommy whipped out some of her spells when she figured that the guards she had in her room failed to hurt us. I got slowed and Friedrich got blinded. Due to the effects of the slow spell, my usual tactics were difficult. Other companions got involved in hand to hand and in my line of fire for spells. I took a wait and see approach.
Meanwhile, Friedrich handed me a potion to counteract the slow spell. I’ll just say at this time, never trust a potion from a blind alchemist, more about that later. While the fight raged, the old hag used dimension door and slipped out. Some of the party figured she went to the basement, others went upstairs. She actually slipped outside to the barn and had been engaged by the rangers that we’d left out there and Shalelu. By the time most of us had made it outside to re-engage in combat, the half-orc had finished her off with a volley of arrows. Rikert had run downstairs by himself and Moxie was left upstairs.
We found the rangers injured but ok. Shalelu, however, was about 3 foot tall, with weapons of similarly reduced status. It was about this time that some of the party members decided to go back in and find our other party members. I was having some other issues.
It was at this time that I started feeling sick and nauseous. I think Friedrich may be re using his vials. I need to speak to him about that. I don’t know what else had been in that vial, but it didn’t set well with me and I remained outside the house with the rangers. Hindsight being what it is, maybe it was the house and things in the house, but I’m not going to hurry to trust a blind alchemist.
Clinging to Desna I channel her divine power to aid my troupe. The Ogre-kin Matriarch steps through a doorway to another location and people run out of the room past me to trying to catch her and scatter though out the hose searching for her. I helped Friedrich find his way, he’s been blinded by a spell from the Matriarch. Some of the troupe had gone upstairs and some found their way to the basement, I heard the half-orc ranger yell that he had found her in the barn. I reached out to Desna and she showed me the way to the barn from within the kitchen I just happened to be in touch with Simon and Lynn at the time and we instantly were in the barn.
All I know is the air was so much better out here and I wasn’t even aware of the rest of the people in the barn. I know they put the vile Ogre-kin Matriarch down, but I couldn’t tell you how. The sweet smell of the rain outside was all that I cared for. I stepped out of the barn and into the cool clean rain and I raised my hands up to Desna and bent to my knees and wept for the rangers that had lost their lives in such a horrid way. I thanked her for saving the ones that were left and for the sweet, sweet rain that hid my tears from everyone else. I stayed outside in the rain while my friends cleared the rest of the house. They did meet and defeat more nastiness inside and I healed their wounds. We slept in the barn. I had nightmares of what I have witnessed to this date. The evil seems to grow and I can’t get away from its stench. Into Desna’s arms I go.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
The fight with the bloated "mother" continued with her casting spells and floating mostly out of reach from our physical attacks. As I closed to attack her, she magically gated herself out of the room.
We immediately spread out through the house to find her to make sure she didn't escape. I ran for the basement stairs that we had passed earlier, with the half-orc archer right behind me. As I moved down the stairs, I didn't see that the archer had turned and went through the back door that led outside.
I continued on down the stairs and found a short hallway and several closed doors. I opened the doors and checked each room quickly, using the light emanating from my empowered sword to shred the darkness of the basement. I soon found myself in combat with another of the hideous freaks and two giant rats. The brute possessed great strength, and managed to breach my defenses to wound me during the fight. Annie and the archer both arrived behind me in the hallway and joined the fight. With their help, we were able to kill our enemies and move on to the next area in search of the "mother."
In the last room, we encountered the worst of the mutated creatures. It appeared as a large, plant-like creature with long tentacles and a gaping mouth filled with teeth. I pulled the half-orc back out of the doorway as soon as I saw the creature, and spared him from being snared. However, in my rush to shield him, I left an opening that was quickly taken by the plant to grab me with its mouth and tentacles. I struggled to break the hold of the creature, while my friends continued to attack it. Annie also moved too close and was grabbed by a tentacle.
The strength and leverage of the creature was immense, and it gradually began to swallow me deeper into its body. I was forced to draw a dagger and attempt to cut myself free from the inside. The burning, acid bile of the creature and its relentless embrace were pushing me to my limits to stay conscious and continue to fight.
At the last possible minute, my dagger found a weak spot and I slashed a long cut through its thick skin and tumbled back out onto the floor of the room. It took a few minutes to recover, and I allowed Xandu and the others to help me in my weakened state.
I then learned that the "mother" had been killed, and the house and area are clear of the mutants. We chose to rest there for a day to heal our wounds and plan our assault on the fort.
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Don't split up they said!
“You filthy bloated sow! May you rot in the depths of the deep dark where only the most ravenous of spirits resides you ogrish she cow!” I barked as I attempted to purchase some space with which to fire my percussion wand down the passage into the bulbous floating turd painter. Please excuse mydisgust and enthusiasm for dispatching said wicked beast, but it offends my spirit! Oh…and I don’t believe I mentioned it before now, but I named my wand “Uther.” Any way just as all seemed too be finished and the hall opened for a clear shot, it vanished through a magical passage from my vantage point. Very anticlimactic and unsatisfying to say the least!
We retraced our steps to a stairway to the second floor, the gods only knew what horrors lay in wait there. At any rate this is the moment Rikert decided to strike out on his own to the basement….but we talked about this and you said we shouldn’t….never mind we will bury you with the others in Sandpoint! I was proud of the others staying together as a group, especially since Frederich was blinded by the beast. Where’s Duh’rock!?! EGADS!! We found a door atop the stairs to the right it was checked and found safe enough for opening. I slinked in with my torch stone about my head. No sooner than I had given the room a cursory glance, and had decided to give the troupe the lowdown of the room. A hushed conversation ended with a magical flashpooft!! I stuck my head out, and they were all gone, every single one of them! “…guys,…..hey guys!?!”
FINE!! I went to the single chest in the room, checked it and commenced to openit. EGADS, obviously easier said than done! I attempted it with tools and a prybar, again, again, and again. #!@%!#@%!!! Finally I got it, by myself, without any help from my now missing troupe mates who aren’t supposed to leave anyone behind! Oh and looky, a bag-o-money!!! Wait that looks to “trappy”! So I gave it another check for nastiness. This place deserves it! NOPE! So I grabbed the heavy bag and removed it. SLICE!! “#!%@$%!@#!!! MOTHER OF PEARL!!” that stings, was my initial thought as all cuts sting. Then it began to burn…fabulous(ironic smirk) how quaint of me! When and if I am reclaimed they will find their sneak-about dead at the foot of a poison trapped chest with a bag of coins. Great, how iconic! The wound was deep but the poison worked on me physically. It was painful and I began to feel weaker and was losing my balance. I decided to rob my troupe of such a visage and dragged the bag-o-money to the door way. There I was met by the troupe, but whom I could not say as I was dizzy and trying to maintain forward motion. Then off they bounded yet again and bid me to follow. They out ran me and I finally caught up with them in the basement where I witnessed the now swallowed Rikert cut his way from the gullet of some plant creature. Completely uninterested I made my way to the barn by way of the cleansing rain dried myself and equipment . I received Desna’s healing from Xandu and went to sleep, a good end to a truly nasty day!
So last night the preparations for the assault on Fort Rannick began.
Along with the advice from the remaining Black Arrows they learned of the myriad of ways to sneak in and decided that the bitterbark route from the caves would be the plan. The group spent 1 day gathering up the bark while Moxie and Davok (the half-orc ranger) watched the keep. Since they left the Graul farmstead in the early morning, the 10 mile trek got them to Fort Rannick mid-afternoon.
One player (actually multiple) knew what Bitterbark was and showed everyone that went to look. At that point I just asked those that looked (that didn't have Kn: Nature) to roll an INT roll, DC 10 to find some. Enough succeeded that I stated that around 10 pm that evening they had found enough.
Since the rains and lightning were still happening they decided to push for the cave system to rest in since the outside was miserable. The plan evolved into the three remaining Black Arrows and Shalelu would create a distraction at the north end of the fort and the group would use that distraction to get into the cave system since there was to much open ground between the tree line and the fort. Armed with a couple of provided Alchemist Fires they did just that by lighting the East gate on fire, and firing a few arrows into the courtyard.
The group had used a Silence spell and immediately began running to the large pool of water at the base of the waterfall. Since that distance was roughly 120 feet from the treeline I had them make Perception checks, with minuses for the rain and darkness. Three of the party noticed that the portcullis was rising at the South gate and that they were in the open. Quickly canceling his Silence the cleric told everyone to head back into the trees. Luckily they did as by the time they got back the gate opened and two ogre-fighters and four ogres ran off to see what was setting the place on fire. One of the ogres rolled a 20 to spot the group, but I only let that hang for a few seconds before he ran off with the others. I then gave them 10 rounds to cross the grounds and get into the cave before the ogres were going to be coming back. Round 10 the last person made their climb check to haul themself into the cave.
I described the returning ogres as having obviously having seen combat. All of them had arrows in them, one was rather bad off and there were only five returning. At this point they began a slow check of the caves behind the fort. I played the two Shocker lizards in B13 and looking around before wandering back into the tunnels below, no fight with the group.
They crossed the ravine without investigating its depths (initially) and eventually made their way to the crypt. Since I had 8 players, in narrow confines I just used one Spectre but with max health. That became an interesting fight with the half-orc losing 4 levels before the combined might of the party brought it down. (Really it was one alchemist bomb that did 36 damage [then halved] and 2 swings from the paladin that did the most damage).
After that they continued until they reached the secret door leading to B4/B5 and opened the door. Since the doors are stone and I would imagine heavy I made it a DC 20 STR check to open them. Since there was an attack the ogres were a little more alert and were not inside any of the buildings, and the fact that the group was back lit with all manner of torches, their goose was cooked. Only 1 ogre noticed them and as everyone was panicking as to what to do since they were pickled, I had a player cry out, "I'm using my boon, reroll the perception check!" Well played sir, well played. So they were able to close the secret door and remain undiscovered.
Moving back in I reminded them (with and INT check, DC 10) that Vale mentioned that there were 'multiple' hidden entrances. So now they really began looking, which included a thorough check of the ravine and the unlucky thief that perished there. Moxie coming away rather well since only she went down in to look around.
Using Spider Climb, the alchemist moved through the lower tunnels to investigate while the group remained in B13 using the crates to block the lower tunnels. Since the alchemist was clinging to the ceiling and not making a nuisance of himself the shocker lizards let him be. Other than the occasional *ZAP CRACK* and then a rat squeak it was quiet. He found the tunnel which led to B36 and almost opened the door, (/evil grin) but didn't. So they opened the secret door leading to the New Barracks and setting fires by dropping the bitterbark in the furthest parts of the cave the lizards poured out into the ogres creating a nasty and funny distraction. They then sealed the secret door and moved down to the secret door leading to B36.
Next week they enter into Fort Rannick proper.
Action report, draft, continued, Simon Roque reporting.
1) Discussion of map drawn by former Black Arrows reveals presence of a hidden ‘tunnel complex’ in the mountain behind Ft. Rannick, and infestation of tunnels by ‘shocker lizards.’ This presents a possible avenue for infiltration of the fort and a possibility of whittling down the garrison at the same time.
2) Arrived at Ft. Rannick midday. Moxie and the orc went to scout, the rest of us gathered bitter-root bark in preparation for our upcoming cave excursion. Preliminaries complete, we awaited nightfall to enact our plan. Under cover of darkness, the remaining Black Arrows, Shelelu and the druid would cause a diversion at the fort’s east gate. The rest of us would then cross the open ground to the south and gain access to the tunnels behind the waterfall. There was a close call when a sortie from the south gate nearly discovered us, but the tunnels were gained without incident.
3) Exploration of the tunnels revealed three entrances to the rear of the fort. One entrance just north of the keep (10 ogres spotted on duty), one at the south behind the ‘new barracks’ building (snoring evidence of more ogres in the garrison, outside the keep), and one entrance in the cellars of the keep proper (thanks to Freiderick for finding that one). Small incident with a specter in a crypt, minor damage to the orc later healed by Zandu.
4) Using the bitter-root bark, several fires were set deep in the complex, and a herd of shocker lizards was enticed to exit the tunnels behind the new barracks. Sounds of mayhem ensued. We then closed that exit and moved to the cellar entrance for our assault.
I'm sorry. I have to step in here and invade your wonderful campaign and say: I've thoroughly enjoyed reading of your exploits. I'm so impressed with not only your session descriptions, USEPLANB, but also your players. I'd like to single out Moxie and Uther, especially. Don't get me wrong, Lint, MordeanGrey, Eilarolyn, and everyone else: you've been stellar. Just call me: captivated :)
You Flatter our motley troupe. Your affections are well received and appreciated! Do not feel as though you have invaded our domain. Your interest and others provides inspiration to our efforts. Thank you for your kindness!Pardon me but I must excuse myself, the troupe is planning our assault on the Orgre's occupying Fort Rannick, and I shouldn't keep them waiting! They hate that!!! ( Big bright smile...wave...curtsy)
Since you’ve broached the subject Good Sergeant, I would offer the following reasons for said actions:
First of all most people consider being caught out in the rain a nuisance and refer to it as getting wet. By all accounts, since our mutual troupe agreement, I have come to the understanding that you consider it a bath! Second, I would ask you attempt to refine your interpersonal skills and mannerisms and in doing so exclude expelling deadly vapors in polite company or the need to share bits of funk picked from a bodily orifice. Additionally, the innuendo laced foolery does not garner further regard by any but those who require payment! And I am no Pixie Kitten! Finally I would point out your proclivity towards leering, and would venture to guess your holding of the rope would be in hopes of gaining a better perch from which to LEER! Though you need to bend your neck to meet my gaze, I simply wish for you to do just that. My eyes are the sparkly bright orange gems set higher than your usual targets, albeit not much higher, they tend to reside on either side of my nose and just below the brow…UP HERE!!! You are a soldier and a (hu)man, I understand! Living this close to the edge tends to make people want to experience life to the fullest in all facets. I get it…you won’t, at least not from me!
But let us come to the mutual accord. You treat me as a fragile troupe member and I will promise to help you become fitting company for the ladies. That said, when we return to the civilized world for every week you spend in gentlemanly pursuits I will afford an evening for you to be “entertained” by someone other than myself. And NO! The rest of the week is on your dime and still by someone other than myself! I sing, dance and sneak, THAT’S IT…PERIOD!
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1) While my choice of vocabulary for day-to-day use may be somewhat, shall we say, “rough” I do not believe that my behavior has been as uncouth as you describe. I am well aware of the purpose and procedures of bathing, I simple do not think it necessary to announce such functions to the world at large. In civilized cities of my experience, it is possible to combine bathing with certain forms of “entertainment,” and has been my habit to do so. It is also not my habit to conceal normal bodily functions which all humanoids share. I can assure you that girls fart too.
2) Having some knowledge of engineering, and having CLOSELY examined the angles involved, I believe that it would be virtually impossible to determine from your vantage the actual object of my gaze; the differential distance between your eyes and cleavage is too small to be significant. Also, I can assure you that while in fact my pupils may be pointed directly at your own, my peripheral vision is entirely capable of encompassing your exquisite décolletage as well as your shapely derriere.
3) Your interest in raising my level of so-called “culture” is misguided. I can assure you that I am perfectly capable of engaging the time and (feigned) interest of the “ladies” who interest me. Indeed, I do not pay them for their attention so much as to have them leave once the deed is done. Should more courtly manners be required in an official capacity, I can assure you that I will keep my big trap shut and defer to our friend Rikert.
4) I have, and shall continue to treat you as a talented and valuable member of our company; your services are esteemed far above some others I could name. I propose that we maintain our one-sided appreciation society on a verbal and pleasantly pithy level; the entertainment provided by the expressions of our esteemed companions (as I’m sure by your coy little smiles that you have noticed as much as I) provides much amusement in itself.
Besides, I don’t think it would fit. Unless of course you’re willing to go halfsies on an extended duration Enlarge Person potion. Only our alchemist need know for sure.
Butterfly...you couldn't stop a kid licking a lollipop so flutter by! Brisket I hope you're never required to breath through your nose for that would be a sad ending. Fine, have it your way...to put it in terms you may understand...as you were! NO HALFSIES OR POTIONS! (grumble) Knuckle dragging (grumble) plague ridden (grumble) gobknocker! XP
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A Spelunking we will go!
Having spent the night in a relatively dry spot, I slept very well, only to wake to yet another dismal dreary day. While packing and eating we conversed with our black arrow rangers on the layout of Ft. Rannick and our best approach. Scouting was suggested with Duh’rock and me volunteering for scout duty. We broke camp and trudged off into the forest, in the rain, ugh! The rangers spoke of shocker lizards that inhabit the mountain caves behind the Fort, and access points to said caves, with a specific opening behind the waterfall. They said the lizards were mostly an annoyance unless agitated, but are especially dangerous in large groups. It was mentioned that they used bitter root bark during the lizards mating season to smoke them out as they are more aggressive during their rut. Our plan was hatched during the later portion of our mornings trek as we breached the tree line and started into the rockier mountainous terrain. The scouts would advance in the early afternoon hours and watch for sentries, patrols, and activity within the Fort, meanwhile the rest of the troupe would collect bitterroot bark to use on the shocker lizards if the opportunity arose.
When Duh’rock and I left the troupe to scout the Fort, the conversation became less frequent and more abrupt which I wrote of as his attention to details as we progressed. Remembering how Barus would interact, which was only slightly more open as we would travel or spelunk, I began to understand the mindset of rangers and began to pay attention not only to my surroundings but also the specifics of Duh’rock’s movement and interests as we crept closer to the Fort. I realized that rangers and sneak-abouts such as me are kindred spirits, the only difference really being our environment in which we operate. Sneakers deal with civilization and its foibles, rangers with the wild and its instincts. I could do this; I have an affinity for the creatures of the wild…in dry areas! I will endeavor to study their craft as I am in the company of a number of rangers.
The scouting expedition revealed little, except that the north gate was in a poor state, the south gate was intact, no patrols to speak of, no one about the ramparts of the Fort’s wall, and sparse activity within. Duh’rock even managed to climb a tree for a better view of the interior and found nothing more than we had previously learned, but did so unnoticed…well done. We returned to the troupe where a plan was hatched in which the Black Arrows would provide a diversion allowing the troupe to enter through the water fall cave entrance by cover of stormy darkness…a sound plan as yet heavier rain and winds approached! BAUGH!!
The Black Arrows set out to provide a diversion and we managed to make our way to the edge of the woods just south of the Fort a couple hundred feet from the falls. Pitch black darkness pierced by bolts of lightning from the heavy storm masked our approach. There we waited for the explosive diversion agreed upon. Suddenly the north gate erupted in a fiery episode which quickly turned to a heavy rolling smoke in the storm Myself, Annie and Lynn intent on making the quickest transit of the open ground and rigged for the silent run unperceivable to eyes watching from the tower, bolted into the open at best speed. Those incapable of resigning from sight began the quick march in silence until the south gate showed signs of the enemies intent to investigate the area. Duh’rock hunkered in the rain soaked grass while the others returned to the safety of the woods, unnoticed…barley! I continued the runand was none to satisfied to see the carnage the new occupants of the Fort had deposited in the pool below the falls. Parts and carcasses of the former residents and their attendant animal companions lay in and below the surface of the pool, and the only way to the cave was through the pool. So reluctantly I swam with minor difficulty to the ledge behind the falls leading to the cave mouth. Annie and I climbed the wall and assisted the others in doing so. Miraculously Duh’rock had been the first to arrive safely and was scouting ahead. Slippery entrances lead to a room with a cache of weapons placed by the Black Arrows. Duh’rock said Shocker lizards had wondered away down a narrow passage so we took the other passage out. We happened on a footbridge crossing a ravine and after inspection crossed in single order so as not to test its limits. Following this path we found an alcove burial chamber of the Black Arrow’s which turned out to be HAUNTED…legitimately so! Duh’rock took an absolute pounding and retreated from the fight looking piqued and sallow. Xandu and Rikert were summoned to resolve the matter of the apparition. We advanced to the end of the cave where we found a secret door devoid of any nuisance. I attempted it woefully unsuccessful! Brisket managed to get it after a long period of effort. Breaching the entrance we found numerous ogre-lings and a few hulkers to boot at which point we quickly doused our lights and accomplished shutting the door.
With Duh’rock in a bad way and the troupes spell pushers running on empty we decided to bed down in a dry area for a change and rejuvenate ourselves for a hard fight. Another secret door was found in the narrow hall the shocker lizards wondered down and a plan was hatched to attempt to smoke them into the Fort via this door. The troupe saw to the preparations to implement said plan, Frederich scouted the lizard hall while I delved into the ravine. Brisket lowered me by rope where my torch stone illuminated the bottom some 60ish feet below the bridge. I let go and touched down lightly at the bottom near a not unfamiliar sight. A halflingmummified corpse laying broken in its apparent state of thud. Checking for signs of unlife I thankfully found none. Although I did find two stones and a… MITHRIL SHORT SWORD!! (HUZZAH!) After reporting back to the rest area and a nap by waterfall ambience we put our plan into operation. Frederich took the bitterroot bark and set it aflame returning that he had found another secret door that led inside the Keep of the Fort. Out rushed the massively sparking Shocker lizards. Impressive would be an understatement! Much chaos ensued within the courtyard of the Fort. (giggle, snicker!!) The door was closed as the smoked cleared and we trekked into the haze that hung in the Shocker lizard cave as we made our way to the secret entrance to the Keep. “Shelyn keep us safe, remember those who gave their lives here and we few about to go in harm’s way in their memory.”
For some reason, I think it's the rain, I just didn't feel like venturing deep into the caves to find, first lizards then ogres with a probable lamia at the end. Have I mentioned I want a vacation?
But, my vote doesn't count, so we went wandering around dashed through open field swam a pond climbed a wall only to fall on my ass walking through the opening of a cave. Fun so far.
Followed a passage, found secret door that was more like a wall, peaked out and almost got spotted. Retreated to find and smoke out lizards through different door. Lizards chased/smoked into ogre sleeping area, now the fight's on.
What were we thinking?