Olwen's Shattered Star campaign

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Moonbeam wrote:
Sucks to be them.

It sure does! And it's actually quite refreshing to have a group of neutral characters who are perfectly fine doing this.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good to see you've finished the missing session. Looking forward to reading more.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the support, MrVergee! :)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Last summary that spoils The Champion's Belt, Chapter 5 of the Age of Worm adventure path.

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXI

Neth 12, 4712 AR
Day 5 of the Champion's Games

The matter of the assassins taken care of, the companions went back to rest before the big day, for their final battle was to take place at midday. Despite the night's interruption, they were able to benefit from the calm Coenoby to rest a little more in the morning. No tension transpired from the underground rooms as both Auric's Band and the Four Deadly Sins isolated themselves to focus on the upcoming battle. The breakfast was only interrupted by Draco's gluttonous appetite.

(The PCs are now level 10.)

A few minutes before midday, a group of guards in full parading livery led Auric and his wizard companion, Khellek, to the Arena. Little after, if was the Four Deadly Sins' turn. As the lift brought them in the full daylight, in the center of the arena, a massive crowd cheered the Pathfinders. From were I stood in the official gallery, I could see them revel in the crowd's support. I even heard a few calls to the Pathfinder Society amid the shouts for the Four Deadly Sins, Wildfire, or the name of her companions. Even if they were not to overcome their opponents today, they would have already succeeded in boosting the Society's standing in Magnimar.

Maybe not very surprisingly, Jorston was not in the official gallery to introduce the last two fighting teams (we would learn later that he had already fled Magnimar by that time), but Talabir Welik swiftly took over, his magically enhanced voice booming over the wild crowd. As he described the numerous deeds of Auric's Band and the Four Deadly Sins, the two teams started their preparation, covering themselves in enhancing and defensive magic. As Auric stood at the front of their zone on the arena's sand, his two-handed sword ready, surrounded by the Leatherworks (the band's two leather golems), Khellek flew to the edge of the allowed zone. In the meantime, Laslo grew his wings and hovered over the battle field, already eying the wizard, while his companions boosted themselves with more discrete spells.

When the battle finally started, it was quick and brutal. Khellek was the quickest to react. Fearing Viv's fireballs he snuck in her mind and attempted to reduce her to a mindless idiot with a feeblemind spell, yet the Asmodean cleric relied on her archdevil god to overcome this mundane effect. A quickened shield further protected the frustrated wizard. Auric's reckless assault on Draco took everyone by surprise. Flying barely above ground, he covered a large distance to hack at the barbarian, who couldn't help but groan under the blow. But that may have been his undoing as Nasim took this opportunity to haste his companions and, even though Laslo simply turned invisible (under the crowd's jibes), Draco unleashed his fury on Auric. Too close to the champion, he unexpectedly went at him with his claws and bit. The crowd went wild at Draco's rage. After this feral assault, Auric was in poor shape, bleeding profusely, and his golems rushing to protect him were not quite fast enough to reach him and shield him. Viv's fireball slowed down the construct, even further limiting their involvement in the battle.

Khellek worried about the invisible Laslo, cast confusion on where the Ustalavian stood just before, but the Pathfinder had learned a lot from his past encounters with Ashamintallu and he was able to resist the magical compulsion. He retaliated by charging and pouncing the wizard, even though his spectacular assault was completely lost to the crowd as he was invisible. The attack scared the wizard, who quickly realized he wouldn't survive two of these assaults. Only one of the claw attacks overcame his mirror images, but there weren't many of these left when Laslo was done. The wizard's stoneskin also helped him, but Laslo's attacks expertly targeting weak spots still hurt.

In the meantime, Auric took a step away from Draco, tossed his shield on the ground where it magically animated and protected its owner, and imbibed a healing potion that had little effect on the large gashes left by Draco's claws and fangs. He wouldn't go far, though, as Nasim's black tentacles engulfed him and the golems, grappling all of them. Draco couldn't resist such a tempting target and, still with his claws, he dropped Auric before turning on a golem. But what would happen if the tentacles were to kill the former champion after he had fallen unconscious? Would that disqualify the Four Deadly Sins? Viv didn't want to risk it and she dived on the battle field and attempted to drag Auric from the spell's tentacles. She completely failed, and even got hit by a golem in the process. Nasim consequently wasted a few seconds to dismiss the spell.

At the other end of the battlefield, Khellek stepped out of the range of the invisible Laslo (who quickly stepped up to him) and tried to frighten him with a fear spell, maybe not the most useful spell against an Ustalavian, as these are renowned for their brush with unspeakable things in their dark land. The magic failed and Laslo, still invisible, further assaulted the wizard. A few seconds later, one of the golems taken care of, the other one blinded by one of Viv's walls of ashes, his mirror images vanished, Khellek grimly surrendered to the Four Deadly Sins…

… The crowd erupted in celebration for the new champions, screaming their names (except for Laslo's whose knack for invisibility did not please the audience). The stewards had a hard time preventing crazed supporters from jumping on the arena and directly celebrating the Four Deadly Sins. I have to admit that I was overjoyed by this swift victory and what it meant for the Pathfinder Society. The mission at the Serpent's Run was a complete success: the recovery of the Shard of Gluttony, the destruction the Apostle of Kyuss whose awakening could have destroyed Magnimar, and finally the victory in the Champion's Game! Much celebration was enjoyed for the remainder of the day, some of them political with the most prominent figures of Magnimar coming on the arena's sand to congratulate our champions: Mayor Grobaras himself, Toth Bhreacher (the leader of the Golemworks), Jyronn Imikar (the prominent leader of the Magnimarian church of Abadar), and many members of the noble families of Magnimar. The only ones who hadn't come to enjoy the celebrations were apparently Viveltre's parents, still unaware of their daughter's recent history, who threatened the group that there would be consequences to their daughter's disappearance. I couldn't help but sigh, but Viv would be kind enough to later write a letter vouching she was fine, but far away, in case the Vanderale would press charges.

It's only later in the evening, when we were all together at the Manor, that Draco found the time to focus on the Shard of Gluttony so it would reveal where the next Shard awaited discovery. There was no mistaking the tall, magnificent white marble tower that he saw, rising high over an abbey like a lighthouse. The Shard of Envy was in the Windsong Abbey. But it was ruins of the Abbey that Draco saw! A grim turn of events for sure. What could have possibly happened at the Abbey. Sure, the death of Aroden and the Pharasman priest of the time killing many of his companions in a crazed frenzy had hurt the ecumenical ideal of the Abbey. Sure, the Abbey wasn't anymore the sanctuary where the priests of twenty of the twenty-one core deity of Golarion (all but Rovagug) were gathered to peacefully exchange and share. The Abbey's influence had waned over the last century but, if I remember well, there were still priests of five deities (Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Nethys, and Zon-Kuthon) who remained full-time in the monument. Serenrae's followers had never come back after their priestess, the Masked Abbott (i.e. the leader of the Abbey) was assassinated by the Pharasmin Ardathanatus when came the time of the Death of Aroden, but the religious site had nevertheless survived these hard times. What could have possibly happened for the Windsong Abbey to appear in ruins, as if hit by an earthquake in Draco's vision, the neighboring village a smoldering pile of ashes?

Neth 13-14, 4712 AR

My agents took a couple of days of rest to recover from their fights in the Serpent's Run. Although they were highly celebrated in the city, they took only the time they needed for their purchases before they headed for Sandpoint, which was on the way and maybe knew more about the Abbey's demise.

My husband, who was still exploring the Sandpoint ruins, would indeed be able to help them and point them to an old Varisian woman who had gone by the Abbey a few days ago, only to be welcomed by a rock hurled at her by giants. She had fled swiftly, but not before she recovered a blood-soaked cap, the sure sign that, in addition to giants, evil maniac and murderous feys called redcaps were involved. The news turned even grimer when Canayven, my husband, told my agents that, a few days ago, Koriah Azmeren had passed by Sandpoint and told him that she had decided to stop at the abbey to run an errand before she would head further north to explore an entrance to the Darklands that she had recently uncovered. I shudder as I think of what could have happened to my dear Koriah…

Neth 15, 4712 AR

At dusk the next day, my agents were viewing the destruction that had been wrought onto the religious buildings. Ettins and giants were roaming the village, preparing a house for a bonfire to roast a cow that was mooing as if the Abyss itself was looking upon her. A try at communicating with the giants failed and the Pathfinders had to stand in front of three waves of enemies that proved no more than a very mild threat as my agents slaughtered them one after the other.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 29 (Auric charging Draco with his +1 greatsword).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 31 (Draco with his +1 longsword, charging an ettin).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 66 (Viv, with an empowered fireball on a hill giant).

Sovereign Court

Hurray for the Four Deadly Sins!

I forget if you mentioned it before, but... does each PC have a specific sin associated to him/her? :)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

More or less. The players actually decided out of character which of the seven sins (and therefore Shards) would be a better fit for their character. That way it's fairly obvious who gets which Shard. Some of the links are a little hit and miss, but it's a good fit overall.

So we have:

  • Draco, the unvulnerable rager barbarian with one level of alchemist (vivisectionist): Gluttony and Wrath
  • Laslo, the vivisectionist, beastmorph alchemist: Lust
  • Nasim, the magus: Greed
  • Viv, the cleric of Asmodeus: Pride and Envy

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXII

Neth 15, 4712 AR (continued)

Silence fell over the village after the brutal slaughtering of the small army of ettins and hill giants. With the sun diving into the ocean, the winds changed and the tune of the Windsong Abbey quietened. Laslo decided to use the benefits of his mutagened wings, his invisibility extract, and his darkvision to scout the abbey grounds without being noticed (or so he hoped). Of the wooden floors of the abbey, extending above the stone walls of the ground floor, one building had been completely burned down, but the two floors of the watchpost still stood above the gate. The floor of the main housing buildings was also still sound, and Laslo noticed a group of four redcaps on a balcony, standing guard above the courtyard. They were armed with very large crossbows for their small size and their caps were dripping with fresh blood. Luckily, they did not noticed the invisible Ustalavian.

From the housing floor, a wooden gallery extended in an arch over the crashing surf, its walls holding many stained-glass windows. Beyond the gallery, a simple room overlooked the ocean, above a hollow stone pillar that dived in the waves more than 100 feet below. Despite a thorough inspection, Laslo noticed no hidden way to enter this isolated room. What he did notice, though, was the collapsed cathedral of the abbey, which seemed to have been at the epicenter of a massive earthquake. In the ruins the vivisectionist spotted two disgusting monstrosities, masses of floating intestines tangled around a fanged mouth, the tips of their coils also ending in toothy maws. These things were slithering on the debris guarding this gaping entrance into the abbey. Above the courtyard, the main white marble tower, iconic building of Windsong Abbey, soared more than a hundred and fifty up in the air, untouched by the destruction that had been laid to the famous site.

After Laslo's scouting, back in the village, the companions confered on the best possibilities to enter and explore the Abbey. The Pathfinders quickly decided that they would try to enter the isolated room above the ocean. Everyone had a way to magically fly, at least for a few minutes, and Viv's stone shape spell should allow the cleric to shape an entrance in this single room. But with Draco's and Viv's need for light at night, they resigned to postpone their infiltration to the next day so they wouldn't be flying beacons of light in the middle of the dark night. The group moved a couple of miles away from the abbey's destruction to rest, making sure to set guard duties.

Neth 16, 4712 AR

The next morning, my agents snuck to the small harbor of the village. From the piers, they followed the beach that the low tide had revealed, all the way to the cliff that plunged just below the abbey. There, they spotted the entrance of a cave that had gone unnoticed to Laslo in the darkness of the previous night. In addition, Laslo also saw the signs of a submerged tunnel, just beyond the shoreline. Before they would proceed further, Draco decided to explore this submerged tunnel. Could it be a hidden entrance into the abbey, looming more than a hundred feet above?

Pushing aside curtains of seaweeds, the barbarin swam in the dark for maybe fifty feet before he reached a natural grotto inside the cliff. Blind in the pitch black cave, Draco did not get the time to light his wayfinder that he heard the upset hisses of a group of creatures. Whatever they were, they seemed big! Draco attempted to dive back in the water before it was too late, but he wasn't quick enough. The cavern suddenly lit up with an electric blue light and the barbarian could see, horrified… Six massive sea drakes, more than 10 feet long each were already assaulting him. As three of them dived on him and furiously bit him, the three others expelled balls of lightning that snaked in the room before hitting Draco for a massive amount of electrical damage.

The barbarian was brave, but not completely suicidal, so he swiftly retreated back through the submerged tunnel to his companions. He was crawling back on the beach in front of his puzzled friends, covered in his own blood, when three of the sea drakes burst from the waves and attacked the group. They had followed their quary, soon joined by their three other companions. A violent fight ensued, Laslo's sharp claws answering to the drakes fang-full maws, Nasim's deadly dance retaliating over the draconic mortal embrace. But when Viv started to hurl fireballs onto the battle field, three of the sea drakes stroke back by engulfing my four agents in an explosion of lightning that coursed through all of them. Poor Draco who was attempting to stay out of harm's way got hit by the full blunt of this assault. His already overworked heart stopped in an instant and his charred body collapsed on the wet beach sand. The youngest of the Don Zerba had died again.

As Laslo and Nasim teamed up against the remaining three drakes, flanking them efficiently despite the creatures' immunity to the Qadiran's shocking grasps, Viv rushed to Draco's side. She called on the dark powers of her Lord to snatch her fallen companion's soul from the path to Pharasma's lands. Asmodeus was only too happy to oblige and the breath of life brought Draco back to the beach. Eventually, all six drakes died to my Pathfinders who, after a moment of doubt as the surprise took over their hearts, turned into the efficient killers they have become.

Draco had seen a set of stairs going up inside the drakes' grotto so the Pathfinders decided to all swim through the submerged tunnel. The tunnel was short enough that even Viv and Nasim who couldn't swim well succeeded at enter the natural cave. On a ledge the drakes' hoard was piled on a high ledge; the companions swiftly shoved all these coins in their handy haversacks. The ring of wizardry and the amulet of mighty fists ended on Nasim's hand and around Draco's neck (whose aegis of recovery was rendered useless by his death).

The stairs led to a complex of clearly old corridors and room. Was that a Thassilonian architecture? Not even the educated Viv could confirm it. The first room they reached placed a pale on their mood. It appeared to be a torture chamber, and Laslo recognized the components to craft an alchemical golem. Only the centerpiece of the golem, a human brain, was still missing. "Facinating," he breathed…

The Pathfinders explored the corridors beyond, which appeared empty until Laslo stopped dead. These two large boulders, there… The Ustalavian was sure they had "twitched." Something wasn't right and my agents initiated the casting of their defensive spells, but before they could complete their incantations, the stones did move, taking the shape of human-sized crablike creatures, scuttling on six stumpy legs, with a pincer, and a sting, and a barbed tentacle, and a gaping mouth, and a hand armed with a scimitar! Qlippoths! These were other qlippoths! Abominations from the Abyss!

Despite their horrific appearance, the Pathfinder focussed on destroying these things, and were quite successful at it. The gongorinan qlippoth's magic wasn't very efficient against our companions, but their multiple appendages sporting multiple method of inflicting pain did hurt my agents, especially since these took a while to be efficient against the outsiders: Nasim's shocking grasp at first couldn't bypass the qlippoth's magic resistance (but then, oh, did it), Laslo couldn't find a good flanking position against the cunning creature he was fighting and Draco, although his beautiful hurling charge did a lot of damage, gathered many bleeding wounds from the qlippoth, keeping Viv busy at healing the barbarian. Eventually, Draco massacred one of the gongorinan. Soon after, the other one was whisked out of sight by a dimension door.

Afraid the qlippoth could be setting another ambush (and feeling their enhancing magic was nearing its end), the Pathfinders rushed through the corridor, leaving quite a few closed doors behind them, as well as two different flights of stairs going further up into the cliff. Eventually, they reach a set of half a dozen small rooms, quarters that might have one day belonged to monks, or priests. The companions had not been very discrete so when they got jumped on by a group of particularly wrathful sinspawns, all but Laslo and Viv were taken by surprise. If the sinspawns were decent fighters in melee combat, they were particularly deadly with their bows. Laslo was going claw to claw with two of the monsters, while Draco and Nasim thought everything was fine as they protected Viv from the last creature. But when more of the bedrooms' doors opened, revealing three more thassilonian aberrations, two of them with a direct aim at Viv, she couldn't react as she had just unleashed a fireball on the first group, targeting Laslo to maximize the effect.

The sinspawns were particularly ruthless against humans and, shot by four human bane arrows, Viv collapsed on the tiled floor, going from full health to laboriously breathing as she struggled to survive. Desna must have been looking over Draco's shoulder, for when the sinspawns turned on the barbarian, most of these arrows missed. In the meantime, Laslo had dealt with one of the aberrations, but he was finding it difficult to deal with the second one. As he aimed for the creature's mouth, he fumbled and opened his side to a bite from the sinspawn. The sinful magic of Thassilon that enliven the creature transferred to the Ustalavian. Overcome by wrathful thoughts, he started to feel unwell; despite it, he killed this last threat. In the meantime a relentless Nasim litterally got one of the sinspawns to explode under the assaults of his shocking grasp. His dervish dance was not even necessary since, as soon as the tip of his scimitar touched the beast, it exploded from inside, vanquished by the Qadiran's magic. By this point, only two sinspawns were left and they were quickly dealt with by the group. Viv, still down had at least stopped bleeding.

After the fight, the Pathfinder took the time to recover, healing Viv with infernal healing and letting Laslo alone so he could wish away his sinful thoughts.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 25 (a sinspawn guard sniping at Draco with a +1 human bane arrow).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 17 (a sea drake's ball of lightning on Draco).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 43 (Laslo, pouncing with a claw on a sea drake, sneak attacking).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 108 (Nasim, critically hitting a sinspawn guard with a shocking grasp).

Unconscious: Viv (-1) transformed into a porcupine by two sinspawn guards shooting human bane arrows, with favored enemy (human).
Death: Draco (-24) sizzled by the conjunction of three sea drakes' balls of lightning, falling unconscious, and die to the end of his rage and his aegis of recovery not healing him enough.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXIII

Neth 16, 4712 AR (continued)

My agents took some time to recover from the violent fight with the sinspawns. Viv's brush with death meant that it would be a while before the infernal healing closed all the arrow wounds she had sustained. The quarters in which the sinspawns had been hiding contained nothing of interest, except for a privy. At least the latter, having not been used in ages, was not stinking like the rotten bowels of Kabriri!

This corridor a dead end, the Pathfinders opened the door they had bypassed earlier, to their left. Laslo, who was leading the way, noticed right away the invisible creature that stood in a corner of this library. The permanent see invisibility spell he had had cast on him(*) before leaving Magnimar revealed a tall, lanky humanoid, with very long, pointy ear, an oval-shaped head, and absolutely no mouth. That did not prevent it from "talking" with an echoey voice that resounded next to his head: "Ah, you see me. This is not expected, and it's not supposed to happen. I will have to remedy that." The Ustalavian only had time to warn his companions that the bogeyman — for Nasim would later realize this evil fey was one of those bearers of the darkest fears — attempted to destroy him. Although the illusion of the phantasmal killer did not fool Laslo, the bogeyman became visible and his aura assailed the three companions present with their greatest fears.

That's before we realized see invisibility cannot be made permanent

Viv saw herself imprisoned in her parents villa, ready to be married in an arranged wedding of the Vanderale's heiress with a member of another Magnimarian noble family, ready to be chained for life. Laslo saw himself in Lepistadt, caught by an angry mob of so-called people of "science," ready to roast him on the pire for his despicable acts. Nasim saw her; her tail, her large, graceful wings, her small horns protruding elegantly from her forehead, and this naked body of hers, oh her naked body ... Yes, it could only be her! She had found him!

Although staggered at the sights of their most dreaded fears, the companions still engaged the bogeyman, whose other magic proved inefficient to bypass the Pathfinders protections. Viv's conjuration of a wall of ashes prevented the fey from turning invisible again, while Nasim and Laslo cornered it betwixt claws and scimitar. A few seconds, and the bogeyman was no more. The fears yet persisted and it was not before another quarter of an hour that my agents felt strong enough to forage into the library.

As Laslo was cooking up another one of his extracts, Viv and Nasim riffled through the books. Meanwhile, Draco was standing guard in the corridor. It turns out the books, now safely stowed at the Heidmarch manor, are written in Thassilonian and cover the topic of the worship of Groetus (the god of empty places, ruins, and oblivion, the End of the World). They describe apocalypses of the past and future, and catalogue ruins. They are quite outdated, dating back to the Thassilonian age, but they are still a valuable addition to the Pathfinders' library!

The continuation of the corridor led to the set of stairs going upwards that my agents had already noticed, in a room whose walls had been carved in wonderful forestry sceneries from green marble. There, a door stood, with an intricate lock shaped in the form of a blue skull-faced moon. Viv recognized a very old symbol of Groetus. Perusing the library, she learned it was likely a doomsday lock, an intricate magical lock that required a specific key, a doomsday key (big surprise there ... ), to be turned with a specific combination before the door would open. In addition, the constant humming that emanated from the door convinced Nasim that it was a malfunctioning portal to a destination that had now been destroyed. Wisely, they decided to give the doomsday lock and the door a wide berth.

Instead of taking the set of stairs going up, my agents proceeded to the other flight of stairs they had found earlier, leading deeper into the earth, to a small chamber whose only exit was also closed by a doomsday lock. This door wasn't humming, though. After some pondering on Laslo's ability to pick the complex magical lock, the Pathfinders decided to investigate other options before turning to such extremities. After all, the door was exuding an aura of abjuration and the lock a strong aura of transmutation. Before they left, the companions noticed that the stone wall on the western side of the chamber had been shaped via magic. Maybe this led to the natural cavern they hadn't explored on the beach? Backing up, they went up to the previous level and, from there, climbed one of the other sets of stairs to reach the unexplored level above.

The hall they entered was magnificent. The plastered walls of the room bore an incredibly realistic mural of the interior of a ruined cathedral. It felt as if they stood at the center of a much vaster chamber than it truly was. Archways to the north, south, and east appeared to be freestanding stone arches that looked almost like strange portals, while the stairs they had entered through gave the impression of disappearing in an endless pit. The depicted cathedral must have been so magnificent before its decay into ruins that a crushing sadness overwhelmed my agents. Laslo were particularly hit by anguish that he started crying at the lost beauty of the world. No one would have expected the heartless Ustalavian to be so moved by destruction.

All at their gaping, the group did not notice that amidst the carving of ruins stood one of the boulders they had seen before. It's only when the gongorinan qlippoth transformed into its repulsive abyssal shape that the companions noticed it. Laslo incapacitated, Draco delayed below, the onus was on Nasim and Viv to destroy this monstrosity. But the cleric of Asmodeus felt quite lonely when Nasim succumbed to the qlippoth's confusing aura. She repeatedly called on Asmodeus's negative energy to damage the monster, its spell resistance and thick hide jeopardizing the efficiency of all other assaults.

Laslo eventually overcame his grief to help his companions, which allowed Viv to heal Nasim, thereby focussing his confused mind.The Qadiran later vanquish the confusing thoughts that assailed his mind whenever he got close to this qlippoth and my agents proceeded to destroy the abomination through a thousand paper cuts, slowly killing it with many small wounds that could barely bypass its resistance. The creature's keen, stalked eyes would always allow it to move before Laslo could apply his best knowledge of vivisectionism.

Just as they were about to rejoice at the destruction of yet another dweller of the abyssal fiend (after a hard fight, at that), another gongorinan phased in the chamber! Again, the fight was tense as the outsider's abilities seemed to counter my agents' niche abilities particularly well. Things took a grim turn when the qlippoth, focussing his assaults solely on Laslo, pinned the Ustalavian with its pincer. Neither Nasim's scimitar assaults, nor Viv's major image of an enlarged Draco rushing up the stairs, ready to smash the qlippoth, would stop the monstrosity from jutting out a slimy stem that swiftly entered the helpless Laslo. In a sickening noise, the vivisectionist's ribcage cracked, and he screamed. His screams redoubled as he felt the qlippoth implant an egg in him. When the gongorinan retrieved its stem, Laslo's mind was abuzz with the confusing thoughts that exuded from the foreign body in his chest. However, at least for now, he could still move as the qlippoth released him.

The gongorinan focussed its attention on the illusion of Draco and wasted precious seconds that allowed the impaired Laslo, the confused Nasim, and the frail Viv to finally destroy this other qlippoth before it could dimension door away. Yet the egg was still gestating in Laslo's chest and Asmodeus would not grant Viv's break enchantment the power needed to annihilate the foul pregnancy. The Pathfinders decided it was time to retreat and rest. Their magic was almost completely exhausted, and Laslo needed to be taken care of. The sea drakes' cave seemed like a quiet, out of the way site for a shielded rest.

As they woke up in the middle of the night, Viv's regenerated powers would be able to destroy the gestating egg before it hatched.

(The PCs rise up to level 11.)

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 18 (a gongorinan qlippoth slashing at Nasim with its scimitar).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 22 (Nasim, retaliating with a critical hit of his scimitar on the gongorinan).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 24 (Viv, assailing a gongorinan with a channeling of negative energy).

Sovereign Court

Olwen wrote:
  • Draco, the unvulnerable rager barbarian with one level of alchemist (vivisectionist): Gluttony and Wrath
  • Laslo, the vivisectionist, beastmorph alchemist: Lust
  • Nasim, the magus: Greed
  • Viv, the cleric of Asmodeus: Pride and Envy

Interesting. And were they too lazy to assign Sloth? ;)

Does Viv envy anyone or anything in particular, do you know?

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXIV

Neth 17, 4712 AR

The Pathfinders proceeded with the exploration of the long-forgotten temple of Groetus, under the Windsong Abbey, in the hope of finding the Shard of Envy and, hopefully, Koriah. Back at the level on which they had fought the sinspawns and the boogeyman, the started systematically exploring the rooms behind the mundane doors they had so far left untouched. The first one they opened led them to a simple warehouse. The wooden boxes and the sacs present had been there for much too long and they crumbled to dust as soon as my agents inspected them. However, they found a dagger with a dull blade under one of the boxes. A bit of cleaning and Nasim's keen inspection with detect magic revealed it was in fact an unholy magical dagger. Not the least disturbed by this malevolent item, they pocketed it and proceeded to the next room.

When they opened the door, my agents were assailed by a waft of scorching air, and a sight that would not have been out of place in the City of Brass. Four pillars carved with blazing flames supported a vaulted ceiling forty feet above, leaving the center of the room for a diamond-shaped pit of roaring fire in which sat a magnificent forge. A tall woman of fire was toiling at the forge, assisted by a handful of smaller fiery creatures. Viv was in awe in front of so much fire, the beauty of its snaking flames, this woman whose skin was the color of brass and whose jet-black hair entwined with the flames as she worked on the forge. Nasim, hailing from the south, rapidly recognized her as a powerful efreeti, accompanied by her cohort of salamanders. Annoyed at the disturbance, she turned to my Pathfinders and, in strongly accented Common told them: "I've only got one more day here. Leave without a fuss and I won't be forced to burn you alive." But they had no intention to leave. Draco was too absorbed by this beautiful forge that reminded him of home, Viv was entranced by all this fire, Nasim curious of the efreeti, and Laslo couldn't help but wonder what she was doing with this forge.

A tensed conversation began, as Beshka, the efreeti, was loathe to lose even a minute on this plane. My agents, through a combination of cajoling and honesty nevertheless learned from her that she had been bound by an elf, Ardathanatus, to craft two powerful items with this forge: a magical halberd she had already delivered, and a magical armor whose forging would take her another day. Ardathanatus ... That was the name of the cleric of Pharasma who, in a crazed rampage, had slaughtered the Masked Abbot at the time of the death of Aroden and caused the fall of the Windsong Abbey. Could he have come back? And, if so, why?

So they could learn more, and not make an enemy of the efreeti, my agents offered to help her forge the armor, which Beshka accepted. And so they toiled at the forge for the next hours. Draco brought his knowledge of mundane crafting, Laslo and Nasim their knowledge of the alchemical and magical powers, and Viv her intimacy with fire. Forging the armor in coordination with the salamanders and the efreeti, they worked well, and as they did, the Pathfinders took this opportunity to learn more about Ardathanatus. Yes, it must be the same Ardathanatus who was the local Pharasman, more than a century ago, who had returned to the Abbey, and wrecked it as my agents had found it. The efreeti knew he dwelled further into the underground levels of the temple, likely on the lower level the Pathfinders had found blocked by a doomsday lock and, yes, she had seen him absent-mindedly playing with a piece of green noqual that resembled the Shard of Envy.

The powerful armor forged after hours of work, the Pathfinder faced a dilemma: let Beshka bring the armor to Ardathantus, at the risk of making him more powerful, or prevent her from doing so, but that would likely mean killing her here and then. They could not bring themselves to do so and let the efreeti teleport herself to the elf. If they could just rush after her via more mundane means, they might still have an edge ... Beshka, not liking in the least to have been bound by the elf gave my agents all the information she could on Ardanathus's location and added, before leaving, that their help at the forge would not be forgotten once she was back in Bayt al-Bazan, in the City of Brass, on the Plane of Fire. She disappeared at this instant, whisked away by teleportation magic.

My agents rushed down to the door with the doomsday lock on the lowest level they had explored and where Ardathantus laired, according to the efreeti's indications. They were taking a big risk: with no time to cook new mutagenes for the alchemists, or to prepare new spells for the spell-casters, they were not going to be at their optimum. But that was a risk they needed to take. Down below, the Groetus lock still blocked the door, and they still had no key to open it. The magical aura of abjuration on the door did not inspire confidence and a deeper look made them suspect a magical trap. Spitting on the ground, cursing magic, an enraged Draco sundered the magical effect with all the might he could muster, leaving Laslo to attempt and pick the magical lock. However, with the complex combination required to open the door and the mouth of the Groetan symbol closing on his tools, it was a nigh impossible task, especially as Laslo wasn't boosted by the chemicals he usually injects in his bloodstream. They had to find another solution, so they decided Viv would carve a passage in the wall, next to the door. The wall itself was not warded and she started shaping stone it in the form of a narrow tunnel until it bypassed the door. That is when they came ...

... Shadows in the dark, emerging from the new tunnel, from the walls, from the floor! In all, there must have been at least four powerful shadows which, in a single touch, almost killed Laslo, Viv, and Nasim. The Pathfinders were truly unprepared for this assault! They had to act quickly, or die there and join the ranks of the incorporeal undead creatures that were marching on them! With a few quick moves, they all gathered around Nasim, who teleported them to the upper level with a well timed dimension door. That had been close ...

When my agents eventually came back down, they were prepared, weapons ready, magically created armors and shields up. They sustained the full brunt of the shadows' assault. Even the mighty Draco, who did his best to bait the undead so his companions would survive, was severely damaged by the shadows. The Pathfinders retaliated with a mix of magic and brawn and it seemed they would prevail, with the shadows' numbers dropping from four, to three, to two ... But the last two cornered Laslo, their inexistent arms passing through the Ustalavian's body, sucking the very life out of him. He collapsed on the ground, dead. Worse than that, his shadow right away started to decouple itself from his corpse. He would himself soon be another shadow, unable to separate friend from foe, only attracted by life that needed to be snuffed. Unable to counter this curse, the companions swiftly dealt with the remaining two shadows and, when Laslo's shadow attacked them, they forcefully destroyed it. Their companion was no more, but at least, he had only turned into an undead for a mere few seconds. Now if only they could bring him back to life ... The philosopher stone they had found earlier was an option, but so was a word of recall back to Absalom or Magnimar to get him raised from the dead, or resurrected.

The companions decided on this latter option for the moment, but going back to the city meant losing days, at least, so they first resolved to push as far as they could in the Groetan temple before Viv would teleport them out. They shoved Laslo's body in their bag of holding and pressed onwards into the next room, from which the shadows had emerged. It contained nothing but a set of sarcophagi. Dust on the ground showed clear signs of recent disturbance. The companions continued forward, leaving a tunnel to the north to continue further east into another crypt sporting more sarcophagi, decorated with runes and symbols of skulls and moons. A passage to the south had collapsed, so they continued even further to the east, despite it leading them away from the supposed location of Ardanathatus to the south-west.

The companions penetrated a hall whose walls were beautifully decorated with yet more Groetus-related mosaics. A pillar at the center of the hall bore Thassilonian blessings to the God of the End of the Time but before Viv could comprehend their meaning, a sense of doom took hold over the companions and the lights that had illuminated the wall mosaics came to life and assaulted the three Pathfinders. Balls of light, they would release bolts of cold magic and zig-zag around at an incredible speed. They quickly cornered my agents, who unleashed all they could at the Groetan candles: axe swings, channeling of the powers of Hell, and electrical magic. But the latter proved completely ineffective against these things, and so did all other form of magic. Slashes and gashes it would be, then, supported by Viv's channeling. Slowly, but surely, they overcame the candles at the cost of a significant fraction of their health.

Yet, the Pathfinders still proceeded to the south, through more crypts, full of sarcophagi. It is only when my agents finally reached a dead end that the sarcophagi revealed their true nature as they disgorged wave after wave of mummies. Paralyzed for an instant at the powerful vision of this horde of undead creatures assailing them, my agents retreated into a blocked passageway, where they fought for their lives. The mummies would bash, and bash, and bash. Blood was spilled, bones cracked, wounds opened. The most powerful magic the Pathfinders could still muster was used in retaliation: Nasim's storms of electrical magic combined with his furious dance of blades, Viv's fireballs, particularly effective against the desiccated undeads, Draco's wide swings of his hammer. All these slowly brought down mummy after mummy, but at great cost, and still the mummies were invading the corridor, risking to overwhelm the cluster of three Pathfinders at any second ...

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 25 (a Groetan mummy pummeling Draco with a power attack slam).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 8 Str (a greater shadow sucking Laslo life out of him).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 56 (Draco, critically hitting a Groetan mummy with a power attack critical hit of his +1 greataxe).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 70 (Nasim, critically hitting a Groetan mummy with a shocking grasp).

Death: Laslo (0 Strength) brought down by the greater shadows assaults.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Moonbeam wrote:
Olwen wrote:
  • Draco, the unvulnerable rager barbarian with one level of alchemist (vivisectionist): Gluttony and Wrath
  • Laslo, the vivisectionist, beastmorph alchemist: Lust
  • Nasim, the magus: Greed
  • Viv, the cleric of Asmodeus: Pride and Envy

Interesting. And were they too lazy to assign Sloth? ;)

Does Viv envy anyone or anything in particular, do you know?

Some of the sins were assigned as they went so the first four Shards would be distributed among the four characters, out of fairness. So Gluttony and Envy are the least fitting to the characters and the choice also comes from the mechanical benefits for these. But Viv can be so unsecure about everyday life, and men in particular, that it's actually quite fitting that she's envious of those who can understand the non-adventuring life better than she does.

As for Sloth, we'll have to see who volunteers, although the mechanical bonus from this Shard may well mean that Nasim will let no one else keep it! :)

Sovereign Court


I'm slowly going through the entries. Poor characters, they are all being mistreated one after the other. :( Now I just read up where Laslo got infected with a Qlippoth egg.

I've only read this Adventure Path, never played it, so it's interesting for me to see how it comes to life in real play.

Great job again with the logs...

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Moonbeam wrote:
I'm slowly going through the entries. Poor characters, they are all being mistreated one after the other. :( Now I just read up where Laslo got infected with a Qlippoth egg.

It turns out that Beyond the Doomsday Door is pretty brutal! I hadn't realized it when I read it. Maybe it's also because the PCs entered through the backdoor and were one level lower than they should have been at this point. But my players are good, so that's usually not too much of a problem. Mind you they have enough resources at this level to deal with death.

Moonbeam wrote:
I've only read this Adventure Path, never played it, so it's interesting for me to see how it comes to life in real play.

Yes, I always like that too. That's the case for me with your Skull & Shackles campaign!

Moonbeam wrote:
Great job again with the logs...

Thanks a lot! :)

Sovereign Court

Poor Laslo... Yeah... That module sounds a lot more difficult than I expected, based on what I just read in this journal.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, things only get worse in the next session recap... ;)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXV

Neth 17, 4712 AR (continued)

The last wave of undead Groetan priests proved too much for Draco to withstand and he collapsed on the ground, unconscious. As his wrathful energy stopped sustaining him, he once again exhaled his last breath. Yet, Viv, protected by her last standing companion saw the big man fall and quickly preyed to Asmodeus so that He would breath life into Draco again. Nasim, in the meantime, destroyed two of the last three standing mummy. It was down to one mummy, towering above a now barely conscious, prone, but revived Draco. Abandoning all pretense at sanity, the hulking man slashed and thrashed as hard as he could at the undead abomination with his claws and fangs and, in a final puff of dust the Groetan priest was no more.

The companions were beaten up, barely standing, and very low on resources, so Viv recalled them all back to the Heidmarch Manor, in Magnimar. For the heroes of the Champion's Games (and the heroes who had destroyed tribes of derros, and much, much more), it was relatively straightforward to set up a raise dead ritual for Laslo at the church of Abadar. I could easily convince Jyronn Imikar, who was aware of the Pathfinders' goal, to perform the ritual this very evening once he had expedited the numerous obligations he had to attend to as the grand priest of the city's Abadarian clergy. The other companions took this opportunity to better equip themselves.

Neth 18, 4712 AR

The next morning, as my agents were enjoying a hearty breakfast in the manor's kitchen, a fire mephit just appeared out of nothingness. Past the first moment of surprised (and tongues cast by Viv to understand the outsider's complaints in Ignan), the mephit, Gogorog, explained that he had been sent by the efreeti Beshka to reward them for their help in fulfilling her duties to Ardathanatus. He offered them a blade, just before he disappeared in a puff of smoke. The blade was beautiful, carved in the shape of a flame. It took us all most of the morning to identify what it really was and I must admit that, at first, I couldn't believe the outcome of our arcane research: this was a potent luck blade with still one wish attached to it! Viv secured it at her belt, if only to benefit from the good luck of the sword.

Soon after, Viv recalled the Pathfinders back to the sea drakes cave that she had thoroughly studied before for just this purpose. On their way to the dungeon's lowest level, they saw a guarding gongorinan qlippoth dimension door away. Someone was now aware of their presence ...

As they were no more in a rush, my agents took the time to quickly explore the rooms they had previously bypassed in the crypt. One of them was an ossuary, another one an embalming chamber in which Viv recognized embalming tools used in Groetan rituals. Laslo uncannily noticed that these embalming tools had been transformed so they could potentially be wielded on their user. That creeped Nasim out.

The final side room they explored had its door locked by yet another doomsday lock, which Viv bypassed with another clever use of stone shape. Nasim was incredibly excited when he realized that they had entered a treasury room; less so when he noticed that most of the coins on the ground were mere silver coins. On further inspection, however, they were Thassilonian and of such old make that they would likely still fetch a good price. Among minor gemstones and nice pieces of coral, the only thing worth noticing in the treasury room was a set of five large clay urns. Nasim and Viv, conferring together as their companions were standing guard outside the room, realized that the foul residue that coated the inside of the urns indicated that they had once been filled with water from the River Styx. Even more surprisingly, each urn contained a magical item. But when the first one Nasim checked turned out to be a cursed amulet, and another one was revealed to be a cursed stone of weight the Pathfinders decided not to trust the other three items (a ring, bracers, and a medallion). They nevertheless careful stored them in their handy haversack for further study at the manor, but, yes, after we studied them together once my agents were back, we realized they were all magical items which had been cursed by too long an immersion in the corrupting waters of Abaddon.

My agents proceeded through the old crypt in which they had encountered the hive of Groetan mummies and reached the unexplored parts of the level. As Laslo snuck forward to scout for danger, he soon entered a spectacular tomb, hosting nothing but a large sarcophagus lit by four braziers. The only way out of this room was a set of double doors, each sporting a doomsday lock. In front of the sarcophagus stood the mummy of a grand priest of Groetus. His attire was spectacular, and clearly from eons ago. Despite the undead creature uttering an imposing "Halt!" in Thassilonian, despite the fear-paralyzing aura of the mummy, Laslo pounced forward just after turning himself invisible. But as soon as he got within a few feet of the mummy, he became visible again. Undeterred, he still assaulted the grand priest, although most of his claws attacks got entangled in the cloth shreds that covered the mummy. Still, it would call for the attack to stop, protecting itself with an antilife shell and giving my agents one last chance before they would be destroyed. Viv diffused the situation when she eventually entered the room and started asking question. Kandamereus, the grand priest of Groetus, forcefully put the Pathfinders back where (he thought) they belonged. Not answering any questions, he demanded answers to his own questions about the state of the world, 10,000 years after the fall of Thassilon.

It appears my agents answered to his satisfaction as he shared with them his worry that the elf Ardathanatus was not opening the doomsday door in the nearby temple of doomsday to usher forward the end times, but only to bring forth a small localized apocalypse or, worse, for his own personal benefit. Groetus and his grand priest would not allow this to happen, and Kandamereus would team up with the Pathfinders to destroy the elf. The mummy explained that opening the set of double doors (and the one behind these to reach the temple of doomsday) required two doomsday keys. He knew that Ardathanatus had one of the keys, and that he had given another one to a minion in the upper levels of the temple. The third key, Kandamereus thought, had been lost a long time ago on the surface. The Pathfinders, newly anointed Champions of the God of the End Times, decided they would bypass the locks like they had before. With Kandamereus's approval, they rested in his crypt until the sun set on the outside world and Viv could prey Asmodeus to grant her her daily magical powers.

(The PCs level up to level 12)

Neth 19, 4712 AR

The tunnel Viv opened in the wall next to the doors led to a T-shaped junction guarded by two gigantic stone golems. The Pathfinders overcame them quite easily through a combination of a grease spell and furious assaults. This had not been quiet, though, with the stone golems toppling on the ground and shattering. The dwellers of the doomsday temple now knew enemies had come to deal with them. With some stairs leading below blocked by a gigantic cave-in, there was only one way forward, through another set of double doors with doomsday locks. My agents only took a minute to cover themselves in protective and bolstering magic before Viv carved another way through the wall to bypass the magically warded doors. They saw the doomsday temple ...

The passage opened into a grand cathedral, shimmering with a sickening pale green light. To the north, a pair of towering wood-and-metal doors lied closed, if maybe slightly ajar. The nauseating green light was coming from its edges, pulsating with a foul rhythm, leaking into this world in writhing streams, as if the light seeped in the air at a very slow speed, almost alive. The twisted bodies of many sinspawns were sprawled in front of the doors and a strangely disturbing wind, akin to the breathing of a mighty beast pulsed in the very air. In front of the door stood Ardathanatus, a tall and pale elf. Before he put the helmet of his new armor on, the Pathfinders could see his left eye was missing, leaving but a sickening hole in its orbit. Turning to my agents he uttered but a single sentence, "Yamasoth will appreciate your sacrifice," before the battle started. In the midst of the action, Viv recognized the name of Yamasoth, one of the monstrosities of the Abyss, a qlippoth lord itself ... "Surely he can't be trying to bring such an abomination onto this world?" worried Nasim. "I think this is exactly what he is trying to do," gloomily replied Viv. It is with redoubled fury and fear that my agents engaged the crazed elf, his sinspawns guards, and the two gongorinan qlippoths that stood very near the door they had bypassed ...

The two qlippoths reacted first; one dived forward to block the entrance, spewing a web at Viv (whose freedom of movement already proved useful), while the other one attempted to polymorph her into a snake, but Asmodeus was looking over her and the magic fizzled. Laslo took the queue and dived through the passage, just under the qlippoth's crab legs, invisible. He clawed at the creature, which was now aware of his presence. From the other room, peaking into the doomsday temple, Nasim disrupted the enemies plans with a well aimed spell. Black tentacles rose from the tiled floor in front of the doomsday door and grappled the four sinspawn guard who could do very little against the magic. Ardathanatus, on the other hand, was impervious to this magic. In an attempt at freeing the passage, Draco dived through as well and attacked the gongorinan which resisted valiantly. Also just peaking through the passage she had carved, Viv unleashed the very fires of Hell onto Ardathanatus and the sinspawn. As the empowered fireball exploded, it almost wiped two of the sinspawns out of existence, the other two still sustaining a lot of damage. Even the crazed elf suffered from the assault as Yamasoth did not seem to protect him from fire. He quickly retaliated with a protective shield and a repulsion effect that engulfed the whole room. Getting closer to him now felt like fighting one's way through molasses!

The inhaling and exhaling of the breathing that suffused the room showed their foul power, in turn healing chaos and evil, or damaging law and good. In the back, Kandamereus started an incantation that would bring forth a couple of shadows to help the Pathfinders. The sinspawns, still entangled in Nasim's magic, were failing to free themselves and both Laslo and Draco could focus their efforts on the qlippoth blocking the way. The abomination retaliated on the barbarian before it was killed. So as to further hamper the enemies in the back, Nasim engulfed the other side of the temple with a stinking cloud that proved inefficient, except later when Laslo fell into it. Viv's additional call to the fires of Hell were more efficient and destroyed two of the sinspawn guard, rendering them into puny piles of ashes. As the remaining qlippoth was busy with the shadows, all the companions but Viv entered the room unhampered, although a web spun on Draco stopped him for a few seconds.

This is when Ardathantus revealed himself to be quite a threat as he called on sickening green fire to engulf Nasim, Draco, and Laslo. The divine fire would stick to them damaging Nasim quite significantly. The Ustalavian retaliated by pouncing Ardathanatus, closing the distance between them at an incredible speed. Yet, the elf's new armor, that the Pathfinders had helped forge the previous day magically protected the cleric of Yamasoth. Most of Lalso's claw strikes proved ineffective at bypassing the enemy's stoneskin. Yet Laslo had bypassed the repulsion sphere, and so did Nasim. That was at least a small victory, even though Viv took the time to nevertheless dispel the effect a few seconds later.

Answering a call from Ardathanatus, the screams of thousands of dead souls echoed through the doomsday temple as blasphemy temporarily dazed all three companions in the room, weakening them at the same time. The elf further displayed his power by creating a blade barrier across the room, targeting the dazed Pathfinders. If neither Draco nor Nasim were hurt, Viv was now on the other side of the blades and Laslo, in a rash move to avoid the wall of swords, dived into Nasim's stinking cloud. The foul stench of the Qadiran's magic incapacitated him. He could do nothing else but puke. At least, he was still invisible and not an obvious target for the enemy.

Viv got inside the room and carefully took the time to walk over the blade barrier so she would be on her companions' and Ardathantus's side of it. With Laslo out of the picture, Draco got closer to the cleric of Yamasoth, but his assault got blocked by the last remaining sinspawn guard. The only one able to strike Ardathanatus was Nasim, but he was so weakened by blasphemy that his usually beautiful scimitar dance was but a parody of itself, dealing only feeble damage to the elf. With my agents in sorry shape surrounding him, Ardathanatus took a gleeful moment to channel the revolting powers of Yamasoth into the room. Forced to breath this foul mist, Nasim almost collapsed to the ground. He was now barely standing ...

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 23 (a stone golem, slamming Draco).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 53 (Ardathanatus calling down on Yamasoth to flame strike Nasim and his companions).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 31 (Laslo, destroying a stone golem with a claw sneak attack).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 81 (Viv, with an empowered fireball on Ardathanatus).

Death: Draco (-31) pummeled to death by wave after wave of Groetan mummies. Brought back to life with a breath of life.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Great stuff, Olwen. Lots of action, lots of danger. Keep it coming.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXV

Neth 19, 4712 AR (continued)

Yet, with a quick succession of strategic moves, the dire situation promptly turned. Kandamereus's attempt at dispelling the effects of the blasphemy spell on Nasim failed, so the weak Qadiran sluggishly danced his magic away from Ardathanatus to benefit from Viv's healing powers; in an instant he went from the doors of the Boneyard to full health, before he dived back in the melee, dancing like never a dervish had danced before. This matter handled, the cleric of Asmodeus, took precious seconds to also heal Laslo. Even though his invisibility meant he had not suffered much damage in the battle, his plight had been his failure to resist Nasim's stinking cloud. However, the upheaval in his empty stomach resulted in very visible bile appearing in the room, where he stood. Without this, it would have been difficult for Viv to touch the Ustalavian tiefling and infuse him with the restorative magic of the Duke of Hell.

Draco, in the meantime, battled the remaining sinspawn guard who would constantly retreat to shoot his remaining human bane arrows at the barbarian. Shot once, twice, Draco still relentlessly axed at the aberration and, eventually, cleft it in half. One of the shadows gone in the blade barrier, the remaining one battling the last gongorinan, it was down to the Four Deadly Sins against Ardathanatus. The crazed elf stood his ground, promising tortures beyond death to the Pathfinders, but he eventually fell. Cornered by Nasim, Laslo, and Draco who hacked and hacked again at him, supported by Viv's channelling, Ardathanatus first lost his dangerous halberd in an ill-advised move. Facing the onslaught of claws, scimitar, and greataxe attacks, he resorted to heal himself, but his caution while casting in battle made him lose the thread of his spellcasting and the magic fizzled. It was not long until Nasim brought him down with a final series of assaults.

Ardathanatus had passed away. The sick green light that exuded from the doomsday door's cracks disappeared. The mighty breathing that had healed evil and hurt good stopped. All went silent, and dark. The companions' lights had trouble piercing the surrounding darkness. As they caught their breath after yet another victory, Nasim made sure the elf was dead and Laslo got closer to the doors under Kandamereus's guidance to attempt to close them. This is when he came, in his full, horrific self…

With a bang, the doors slammed open, just in front of Laslo, and Yamasoth, the Polymorph Plague, stood at the edge of this world. His (its?) gigantic tentacled body was blinking in and out of existence but, still, this was a sight to behold. A horrific sight. Their blood curdled in my Pathfinders' veins. Laslo, standing but a mere few feet away from the qlippoth lord could do nothing but gaze at the demi-god with terror. Nasim felt the insidious evil of the ancient abyssal lord snake into his mind, promising him all he had ever wanted; the Qadiran had to focus all his willpower in an attempt to resist the unforgiving taint on his soul. Draco and Viv looked in horror as Yamasoth's multiple tentacles entered this world and repelled the companions, crushing bones and leaving sickly colored bruises behind. But the worse was that tentacle that had wrapped itself around Ardathanatus, threatening to drag him back to Sekatar-Seraktis, and with him the Shard of Envy!

They could see the artifact on the elf's belt. Draco dived and, bending his muscles like he had never before, he attempted to break the tentacle's hold on Ardathanatus's body. To no avail. Viv touched the corpse, Nasim and Draco with it, and wish her recalled to Magnimar. To no avail, as her magic was not powerful enough to overcome the power of a qlippoth lord. And already, the elf's body, with the Shard, was sliding ever closer to the door. Reaching it, Yamasoth opened her mouth to eat Ardanathatus's body and they all saw it. The Polymorph Plague's eye. The size of a giant, red, evil. They all felt the powerful gaze caress them, and their awareness of who they were slowly dissolved. But our agents are Pathfinders, among the best. They dug to the heart of their conscience and resisted the powers of a demi-god.

Laslo was our only hope. He alone stood close enough to the doors to attempt an ultimate move before the Shard disappeared forever. Breaking out of his terror, he dived on Ardathanatus's body and snapped the Shard of Envy from his belt, a mere instant before Yamasoth dragged the body through the closing doors, peeling it of its armor like a fish at the monger's. The doors shut in a thunderous crash. The Shard was in Laslo's trembling hand.

The four companions collapsed on the ground, their knees buckling under their own weight. They had glimpsed at a qlippoth lord, a demi-god, and they had survived. We do not fool ourselves, though, in believing that this was not Yamasoth's doing. Had he cared about my agents, they would have died there and then. Or worse. Yet it was Ardathanatus that the Polymorph Plague wanted, that day, not our companions.

It took a long time for the Pathfinders to get up again and overcome their dread at what could have come to pass. Among the haphazard bits and pieces of equipment that had been peeled off Ardathanatus and scattered throughout the room, my agents finally found one of the doomsday keys, which they used, under Kandamereus's guidance, to lock the doomsday door. This is when the companions decided that no one should ever know about the deeper levels of the Groetan temple under the Windsong Abbey. They committed to finding the other doomsday key Ardathanatus had given to one of his minions, and to only compile the truth in this volume of the Pathfinder Society, now safely secured in the deepest vaults of the Grand Lodge of Absalom. As the wise reader knows, only the expurgated version of this volume made it to the public, and the tale of the Shard found in the rubble of the abbey, destroyed by a rampaging group of giants leftover from Karzoug's army is only this: a tale.

When Kandamereus moved to uphold his guardian role again, Viv started doubting the abilities of the grand priest of Groetus, in her eyes responsible for Ardathanatus accessing the doomsday door and almost connecting Golarion to Sekatar-Seraktis. The mummy took offense at such accusations. With an imperious voice, he asked the Asmodean cleric if she challenged him and his millennia of guarding the doors. Spells started flying as soon as she simply replied "Yes," but the mummy, surrounded by my agents, did not last long. The outcome could have been very different had his confusion spell laid waste to the Pathfinders, but they are now well protected against these effects that assail them time after time.

Before shaping the tunnels that led to the doomsday door into an inaccessible maze, the Pathfinders cleaned up the rooms above to recover the other doomsday key. In a prison, they found the Abbey's former priest of Erastil, a broken and despondent man who had lost his faith in the gods after all he had seen, culminating in Ardathanatus's swift destruction of Windsong. They also located the former priest of Zon-Kuthon whose body was covered in scars, apparently tortured to death. Finally, in the neighboring quarters, they tracked down Zolerim, the traitor priest representing Nethys, to whom Ardathanatus had given the second doomsday key. He posed no significant threat to the Pathfinders who could easily retrieve the key.

By the time they cleared the deeper levels of the Groetan temple, none of the redcaps, qlippoth, or giants remained on the surface, nor in the top levels. They must have sensed their master's demise and fled. In a room of the Abbey, the Pathfinder discovered an incredibly detailed statue of Koriah and they realized with horror that our friend and companion had been transformed into stone. It did not take long for Viv to break this enchantment and Koriah could reveal that she had come here after receiving a panicked sending from her father, the Abbey's resident priest of Desna. Koriah had fought bravely, but had eventually been overwhelmed by the giants, and transformed into stone by a medusa, companion of Ardathanatus. With no sign of her father in the Abbey's ruins, she feared he had pursued the fleeing troops of the now dead elf. She left the Four Deadly Sins report back to me on their discoveries and the situation. In the meantime, she would follow the tracks she had found in the hope to catch up with her father before the giants and redcaps noticed they had a tail. I am glad Koriah did not die despite her foolish attempt to solve this problem on her own… We later heard that she had safely reunited with her father.

Neth 20-22, 4712 AR

The Pathfinders' journey back to the City of Monuments was uneventful and they could finally rest again in their own beds before embarking on the next step of their journey for the Shards, and the Gods know this was amongst the tallest steps to climb…

(And this concludes Beyond the Doomsday Door, which turned out to be quite a thrill, and quite dangerous for the group of Pathfinders!)

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 30 (Ardathanatus hacking at Draco with his flaying halberd)
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 25 (Zolerim casting a flame strike on Viv)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 50 (Laslo sneak attacking the baregara with his claw, power attacking)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 65 (Viv, with an empowered fireball on Kandamereus)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

After Beyond the Doomsday Door, the PCs were about half a level lower than required, and the journey to Guiltspur was going to take 3-4 weeks anyway, so I squeezed a modified version of the module "The Hateful Legacy" from Dungeon 131. So be aware that this entry and the next one spoil parts of this scenario.

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXVII

Neth 23, 4712 AR

Back in Magnimar, the Pathfinders focused on their latest discovery, the Shard of Envy, to determine the location of the Shard of Wrath. The vision revealed a towering green spire, emerging from a ragged landscape of long-frozen lava spills. Recent scaffoldings and signs of construction indicated that someone, or something, was already investigating the spire. Laslo quickly recognized Guiltspur, a site located on the northern end of the Storval Plateau, near the Kodar mountains. Said to be cursed, Guiltspur is a Thassilonian ruin that is rumored to have been both a laboratory for the Runelord Karzoug, as well as an embassy for some of his strange, otherworldly allies. Little more than rumors until a few years ago, the Ustalavian had heard, when he was still studying at the University of Lepidstadt, that the great blue dragon Cadrilkasta had forced entire tribes of hill and fire giants to excavate the ruin. For what reason, no one knew, but with the Shard of Envy pointing in this direction, we could only guess that the recent excavation was tied to the Shards.

Cadrilkasta… A name to be feared for sure. Even Nasim who hails from the distant lands of Qadira knew that the blue wyrm once terrorized even the Hold of Belkzen. A true monster's monster, she was rumored to have abandoned her lair a few years ago, after she had explored and destroyed a Thassilonian ruin, and moved west into the Cinderlands in order to excavate Guiltspur. Many a giant who rebelled against had faced her increasingly violent behavior and been slain. Now a small army of these served her… Discussing with my agents, they ventured a timeline that, I must admit, would make a lot of sense. What if Cadrilkasta her discovered the Shard of Wrath in this first Thassilonian ruin she had explored in Belkzen, only to be overcome by the curse of wrath? The Shard then could have led her to Guiltspur where the Shard of Sloth would await its discoverer. But if that was the case, the great blue wyrm would soon know the location of the Shard of Pride that Viv was carrying! Or, worse, the dragon already knew where the Shard was! Time seems to be of the essence here, especially since the journey to Guiltspur will take most of a month!

Neth 24-30, 4712 AR

My agents nevertheless took the time to prepare themselves for the dangers to come. One does not just walk into a great wyrm's lair unprepared and expects to survive. Viv's growing clerical powers allowed the group to teleport to Absalom to purchase powerful magic item. Whilst there, I know that the Grand Lodge took the opportunity of the presence of this active and renowned group of Pathfinders to have them lecture the younglings on the dangers and joys of the life of a Pathfinder. In the course of only a couple of months, my agents have become truly famous, even beyond the borders of Magnimar, and even Varisia. I am proud of them and what they accomplished.

Whilst they were absent, I secured a passage for them on the Lucky Jenny, a halfling trading boat that was headed for Fort Rannick. Although heading for Kaer Maga before crossing the Cinderlands was an option my agents considered, I eventually convinced them that heading for Fort Rannick and asking the Black Arrows (the resident group of rangers, defenders of this part of Varisia against ogre and giant incursions) for a way to cross the deadlands to Guiltspur was a more sensible option.

Kuthona 1-4, 4712 AR

The voyage to Wartle on the Yondabakary river, along the Mushfens, was not the most leisure of voyages. The boggards of the Mushfens were restless. Something, or someone, had riled them up and they now more frequently attack lonely barges or boats. A group assaulted the Lucky Jenny, one night, but the powerful Pathfinders swiftly repelled them. The discovery that they proudly wore a very ancient Thassilonian rune that could be tied to Lust, or the Runelord Sorshen, troubled my agents. They fear, as I do, that Ashamintallu has turned into a real danger. She will need to be dealt with.

Kuthona 5-8, 4712 AR

The journey to Whistledown unfolded without event.

Kuthona 9-10, 4712 AR

After a good night of rest under a roof, and in a proper bed, for once, the Lucky Jenny departed for Ilsurian, across Lake Syrantula. These commerce lanes are well traveled and rarely disrupted by danger.

Kuthona 11-12, 4712 AR

The last stretch of the journey led the Pathfinder to Turtleback Ferry, an inconsequential little town that had come very close to being destroyed by ogres and the destruction of the dam of Skull's Crossing some years back. We have the heroes of Sandpoint to thank for repelling the ogres and saving the dam. Maybe one day the heroes of Magnimar will be remembered for similar high deeds?

Kuthona 13, 4712 AR

After a final halfday of travel on dirt roads, the Pathfinders finally reached Fort Rannick. In much better shape than 5 years ago when it had been overtaken by the Kreeg ogres, the Fort now hosted a company of more than twenty Black Arrows, along with at least as many Magnimarian soldiers, for we shall not forget that the Fort is a Magnimarian holding!

The Black Arrow hosted the travelers well, along with a young noble woman from Korvosa who had left the city for fear of its turmoil. The dinner was enjoyable and the conversation straddled many topics, from Korvosan to Qadiran politics, the Pathfinders' adventures, and the current situation at the Fort. The Black Arrow leaders, Jakardros Sovark and his lieutenant Vale Temros, looked alarmed when they learned that my agents were planning on crossing the Cinderlands all the way to the Kodar Mountains. According to them, the giants were restless in the north. Since the disbanding of Karzoug's army in Xin-Shalast, scores of giants had fled the ruins of the mighty Thassilonian city, only to form their own bickering bands and fight for the possession of their own territory in the Cinderlands. Even mighty rune giants had been spotted in the deadlands and, according to Vale, the crossing to Guiltspur was no less than a suicidal mission.

Towards the end of dinner, Jakardros nevertheless reluctantly offered another option: if the Pathfinders were to keep to the western shore of the Storval Deep instead of heading straight towards Guiltspur to the north-east, they could reach a hidden rift that, rumor had it, extended from the Iron Peak, all the way to the foothills of the Kodar Moutains, not two days away from Guiltspur. Of course, the valley was said to be haunted by the ghosts of the orc hordes, servants of the Whispering Tyrants, which had fled in front of the victorious knights of Ozem, so long ago when the Whispering Tyrant had been repelled and imprisoned in Gallowspire. And to add insult to injury, the only known entrance into the valley birthed in the ruins of a troglodyte fort that hosted a large tribe of ogres… The Pathfinders debated their options but eventually decided that, the next day, they would head for the Iron Peaks and, following Jakardros's indications, they would find this hidden valley and travel through it to Guiltspur.

As they all retired to their rooms, Nasim had the satisfaction of realizing that he had most impressed the young Korvosan noble, and they spent a rowdy and sleepless night together. Things were not so sublime the next morning when the "woman" grew dark wings, claws, and haughtily told the Qadiran, with disgust in her tone: "Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim, you are as stupid as your fathers' fathers. Now that I have what I need, we will see how much smarter than you your offspring is, and we will see how your father takes the news of where you squirm on this world." She laughed, and disappeared in a puff of sulfur before Nasim could overcome his surprise.

So it seems Nasim's past has come to haunt him… Let us hope this does not interfere with the search for the Sihedron Shards and that the Whore Queen herself does not come on Golarian to deal with her spawn herself. Erynies, I believe my agents can deal with. The mother of all erynies, I do not think so…

Kuthona 14-20, 4712 AR

The journey through the moutains along Storval Deep proved grueling, with many climbs and descents for little gained distance.

Kuthona 21, 4712 AR

Following Jakardros's indications, the Pathfinders eventually reached the Rock Tower that guarded the entrance to the haunted valley. Before they got too close, they spotted an ogre lookout, far above the ruins of the old fort that merged with the rock. Flying under the protection of invisibility, they slaughtered the ogre before it could notice their approach. Laslo pounced on the ogre so violently that he severed the creature's spine and paralyzed a cry of pain in his lungs. Next were four sentries. These lasted a little longer, but they could not resist the onslaught of magic and violent assaults. Finally, the Pathfinders gained the core of the rock fort that opened onto a narrow canyon hosting luxuriant vegetation. But before they could enter the canyon, they had to contend with the whole tribe of warrior ogres and the mighty hill giant that served as their leader.

Viv stood her ground at the entrance of the large cave in which the ogres had built their village amongst older ruins. Protected by Draco, she could spam fireball after fireball, wreaking havoc among the many groups of ogres. The flying Nasim and Laslo took on the hill giant leader. Hitting like a titan, his blows crushing bone and life at the same time, his fighting style was nevertheless ill-suited to cope with the deft Qadiran dervish and the invisible Ustalavian vivisectionist. He dealt a couple of powerful greatclub blows to the two Pathfinders, but they retaliated by quickly cutting him down. The remaining warriors fought to the death while the young and old ogres in the village, along with a couple of pregnant female ogres cowered in fear in front of such power. The shaman of the tribe, an old female ogre, stayed those who were not warriors and, when the calm settled back in the cave, she was instrumental in letting the Pathfinders pass through to the canyon. Not caring a Shackles' rat for the ogres' political strife, my agents resolved to simply pass through the remains of the village and enter the haunted valley, or so it had been called by the Black Arrows…

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 35 (an ogre power attacking Laslo with his ogre hook).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 66 (Laslo, critically goring an ogre fighter with a sneak attack, using his deliquescent gloves).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 78 (sizzling an ogre fighter with a critical hit of his shocking grasp).

Woohoo, I've finally caught up with this awesome journal again.
Seven posts in as many days most certainly compensate for the long drought suffered before...;-)

Still, I do have one question regarding "Beyond the Doomsday Door", which apparently was a real meat grinder:
Where did the group fight a baregara in the last section of this adventure? Was it summoned by the elven priest? You mention it in your "damage" comments below the post but did not describe the actual combat scene.

Looking forward to the group's antics in Guiltspur (and hoping for less character deaths this time ;-)).

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank for the kind words, Monrail. :)

Monrail wrote:

Still, I do have one question regarding "Beyond the Doomsday Door", which apparently was a real meat grinder:

Where did the group fight a baregara in the last section of this adventure? Was it summoned by the elven priest? You mention it in your "damage" comments below the post but did not describe the actual combat scene.

It was guarding the prison in which they found the despondent priest of Erastil. The fight didn't last long because, by that time, the PCs were quite powerful, and also because that was after the main fight, when they were cleaning up the abbey, so I didn't want to waste too much time there.

Monrail wrote:
Looking forward to the group's antics in Guiltspur (and hoping for less character deaths this time ;-)).

Well, for the moment, Draco died twice, out of stupidity, and heroism. And I expect it won't be all as we finish Into the Nightmare Rift this week. ;)

I'm actually quite happy with the deaths in this campaign: there are a few, but there aren't too many that the game grinds to a halt, and the deaths happened at high enough level that the PCs could deal with them with breath of life and raise dead. Quite a few of these Prestige Points given at the end of each AP volume have already been used for raise dead and restoration combos!

I think death should be part of high level play, otherwise the game just becomes too easy.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXVIII

Kuthona 22-23, 4712 AR

Advancing through the valley, there was rarely any choice of direction as the canyon slowly wound its way through the Cinderlands, never larger than a few hundred meters. Any crack in the wall that escaped the main gorge soon dwindled to passages too narrow to be followed. Sunlight was a rare sight in the valley as only a small openings in the rocky ceiling let any light through. At first, the Pathfinders were surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and they could spot dinosaurs in the distance. But after the first day, the vegetation took a sickly turn. Scrawny trees were soon the only sight around. Pools of fools orange-tinged waters replaced the initial lakes, and foul clouds of miasma exuded from geothermal springs, when they did not spurt forth because of a hidden geyser. Silence took over the hidden valley, and signs of life became very sparse.

For their second night of camping in the valley, the Pathfinders were very quiet, obvious intruders in the desolate landscape. They set up guards for the night and, awake, Viv noticed her companions shifting in their uneasy sleep. Yet, before she decided to wake them up from whatever nightmare plagued them, she heard the sound of massive beasts crashing through the thin vegetation to reach the camp. The group barely had time to get ready that the camp was surrounded by three gigantic tyrannosaurus rex. The beasts appeared charmed, or under the influence of a compulsion as they did not right away attack the camp. Instead, a deep voice rumbled between the walls of the canyon, demanding for the Pathfinders to explain the reason of their presence. A bhuta soon made itself visible, flying twenty feet above the dinosaurs. As her companions tensed at the encounter and the obscure goals of the undead, Viv recognized in it a creature born of horrible death or murder in a natural setting, a manifestation of rage at the injustice of a death that interrupted some important goal or unsated desires. Diplomatically, the cleric of Asmodeus explained that the group needed to traverse the valley but that, if the undead would be kind enough to explain what wrong it had suffered, they would attempt to help him.

It rapidly became clear that the bhuta was a former Knight of Ozem who had been hunting for the lost treasure of the Whispering Tyrant. The Pathfinder pieced together that centuries ago, as Tar-Baphon had been dealt a major blow by Aroden himself, his armies fled to the west, back to what would become the Hold of Belkzen and, beyond, into the Cinderlands. Rumors abound of a small part of the Tar-Baphon's army disappearing in this part of the Cinderlands with the remains of the Whispering Tyrant's treasures. Centuries later, the bhuta had led a group searching for this treasure, only to lose his life to the dangers of the haunted valley. The companions vouched to look for the treasure and to remove it from the valley if they could. Apparently satisfied, the incorporeal undead became invisible again and disappeared, soon followed by the three tyrannosaurus. Nasim was the only Pathfinder unhappy to have avoided a fight: "And now I won't know how efficient this new spell I learnt to fight incorporeal undead creatures really is…"

My agents' sleep was still troubled, that night, but not to the point that they could not sleep.

Kuthona 24, 4712 AR

That day started well: more light from the outside world seeped into the canyon, and the Pathfinders journeyed efficiently despite a couple of geysers spurting scalding water a little too close to them. In the darkness of the afternoon, though, they started feeling more and more oppressed. They pushed their horses, but that would not be enough. Slowly, ghosts emerged from the ground behind them. First one, then two, then five, then ten, then dozens… Before they could realize what had just happened, a whole army of orc-like ghosts, some missing limbs, others their incorporeal guts spilling from their incorporeal, swollen bellies. The ghosts of Tar-Baphon's army blocked any way back, and advanced towards them. That could not be! Focussing all their will, they hoped for this vision to be an illusion. It was not and, soon, the army was joined by ghosts of red dragons emerging from the canyon's wall. Flight was the only option! But the ghostly army had timed their ambush well for in front of the Pathfinders, the valley narrowed to a crack.

Draco dashed forward, abandoning his horse. His keen eye spotted that, if at ground level one needed to squeeze between the rocks, a small ledge higher up led to a large opening between the walls of the canyon. He quickly climbed the ledge, soon followed by a flying Laslo, while Viv and Nasim conveyed flying powers to their horses before they also followed, doing their best to reign in the animals as the ghosts grazed them. The canyon opened again and the Pathfinders hoped for a second that the narrow crack would prevent the army from getting through. But the ghosts soon emerged from the obstacles, on their tracks, accompanied by even more ghostly dragons, and wyverns, and ogres that came out of the neighboring walls. Their escape would not be over for long.

Soon, the ghost of a red old wyrm rose into the air. The valley was so narrow that the tip of his wings merging with the canyon's cliffs. And he dove, ready to blanket the ground with fire that would surely engulf my agents. Viv recognized the haunt for what it was and, knowing it was vulnerable to positive energy, she pushed her horse ever higher and higher, reached the ghostly dragon, and blasted it with a breath of life spell. A lake of brackish water now blocked the way forward, except for a small passage on its side, hugging the crumbling cliff. If Draco took no time to dive in and cross the hurdle with powerful strokes, Laslo simply flew over the obstacle, and their companions rode their flying horses across the water. Nasim's horse reluctantly kicked out for a few seconds, allowing the ghosts to get even closer, sucking some of the Qadiran's life.

Beyond the lake, the miasma they had often spotted in the haunted valley had accumulated and engulfed most of the canyon. Pressed for time, they pushed through, either holding their breath or sneaking between the bulk of the poisonous fog. Finally, they could see the end of the canyon and the valley opening again. Relieved, they dashed forward, but stopped dead in the tracks when more ghosts rose from the floor, blocking their only way out. They were now cornered by the ghostly armies of Tar-Baphon! Undeterred, Viv pushed her horse to rise higher, and higher, and higher, climbing so hard in the air that she even passed over the ghostly giants ahead. Relying on his own wings, Laslo more easily followed, while Draco chose to climb the sheer cliff. The climb proved so difficult that he was too focused on his moves and did not notice some of the ghosts caught up with him. Yet he overcame their soul-sucking touch. In the meantime, Nasim knew he did not know the ways of animals well enough to force his horce to simply rise into the air. Instead, he created a wall of ice between the ground and the cliff above the ghostly army blocking their way forward. With ground under its feet, the horse was much easier convinced to rise into the air and leave behind the ghostly troops.

The valley had widened again at the location of a bubbling geothermal lake that the ghosts seemed reluctant to get close to. The Pathfinders had overtaken the armies of the Whispering Tyrant, but their joy was short lived, for from the mud banks around the lake soon rose the decomposed bodies of three undead creatures. Viv recognized two of them as soul-sucking wight lords, who were protecting what could be nothing else than a grand priest of Tar-Baphon, or what was left of it. The ground around was littering with the remnants of a long gone caravan. Had they just found the remnants of Tar-Baphon's treasure, guarded by the leader of the ghostly army. We would never know for fireballs soon flew over the battle field, quickly followed by flame strikes and lightning bolts from the grand priest. Laslo and Draco took on the wight lords and Nasim provided support. Out of evocation spells, Tar-Baphon's minion summoned many crawling insects. But if they slowed down the Pathfinders, they did not threaten their lives. Soon, the undead creatures were overcome, leaving only the ghostly armies, threatening them from the narrow canyon. But even these shortly merged back into the ground and walls with a screeching sigh.

My agents did not waste anytime checking whether the haunt that was casting a pale on this valley had been entirely lifted, or merely postponed. They grabbed all they could from the remnants of the caravan, and carried toward the north and the Kodar mountains.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 24 (a wight lord on Draco, with a falchion swing).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 32 (the grand priest of Tar-Baphon engulfing Draco in a flame strike).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 41 (Draco hacking at the grand priest of Tar-Baphon with his +2 furious greataxe and power attack).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 80 (Viv obliterating a wight lord with a heal spell).

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXIX

Kuthona 24-28, 4712 AR

Two days later, my agent finally emerged from the haunted valley, on the foothills of the Kodhar mountains. Another two days of stealthy traveling through the badlands, in valleys carved by the winds through millennia-old lava flows, and they finally arrived at their destination: Guiltspur. An obelisk made of a green metal towered above a plateau, next to a wooden two-storied house built for giants. On top of the ledge that led to this plateau stood three ballistas maned by giants and ready to be used against intruders. The valley itself was blocked at the foot of the plateau by a wooden barricade whose only passage was a closed gate flanked by two tall guard towers.

The group barely had the time to gauge the situation that their lack of discretion meant that the giants guarding the towers immediately spotted them. As a powerful hill giant blew into his mastodon horn to alert his companions, the other started hurling stones at the Pathfinders, quickly followed by ballista bolts from the giants on the plateau. The giants proved pathetic with the siege engines, but remarkably accurate with the big rocks they hurled and, before my agents could get much closer, they had already been hammered by a few of these. Draco rushed forward after ingurgitating a couple of protective extracts, Nasim boosted himself with magic, Laslo turned invisible, and Viv provided the artillery as she wrecked the ballistas and the giants manning them with fireball after fireball.

While she took care of the giants in the back, her companions took on the hill giants at the gate. Two stayed in their towers, hurling rocks, after they had opened the gate for two terror inspiring mastodon riders. This battle turned into a bloody affair. Despite Laslo's well aimed clawing, Nasim's shocking grasp assaults, and an enlarged Draco's powerful hits, the giants were still giants and could take on an unbelievable amount of abuse before they would fall. But the companions slowly did away with the giants, Viv taking the time to wreak destruction on one of the two guard towers flanking the closed gate. There was now a way in.

Things didn't go so well for the reckless Draco who, emboldened by his powerful attacks, took on mastodon after giant after giant. It was eventually down to the giant hurling rocks from the only tower still standing, an instant before another wave of the monstrous humanoids arrived, preceded by crazed mastodons they had lit on fire. So Draco climbed the remaining tower as his companions got ready for the new wave, and he took on the hill giant on his own. He prevailed, but his health was eventually so low that only his rage sustained him. He rushed to the Asmodean cleric, but his superstition of all things magical meant that Viv's healing magic had little chance of being very helpful. Eventually, he resolved to leave his raging state, and hope that his aegis of recovery would save him. But it did not, and Draco exhaled his last breath. Again… Viv hastely breathed life into him. Again… And she brought the not-so-invulnerable rager back to life.

When Laslo and Nasim killed the last mastodon, the remaining giants decided their salute was in a retreat and they rushed back to the giants' steading. One of them did not run fast enough and Nasim cut him down, yet the last one entered the building as the Pathfinders were only halfway up the ledge. So as not to give the giants too much time to prepare, my agents quickly congregated and exchanged healing spells before they rushed to the entrance of the steading.

The door to the building with adorned with a tapestry that represented crude figures of giants jumping on crude figures of elves. Laslo recognized the symbol of the Elfstompers, a well-known tribe of violent giants said to roam the Cinderlands under the vicious rulership of Chief Jubbek. My agents pushed the door open, ready for anything… except what they found. Half a dozen giants stood alert in a large smoky room around a bonfire, ready for a fight, yet they did not attack. Instead, on the balcony that overlooked this main room, a towering female fire giant slowly clapped before complimenting my Pathfinders on their combat prowess against the guards outside.

Uneasy and unsure what to do, my agents decided to have Viv (who had cast tongues on herself) discuss the situation with the fire giant leader, who called herself General Stom. It quickly became clear that the General did not believe that the blue dragon Cadrilkasta who had been ruling the tribe above Jubbek still lived. If the Pathfinders were ready to kill chief Jubbek below, in the hallways the giants had carved our of lava to access Guiltspur, she would take all the surviving giants and simply leave this accursed place to head back to the Cinderlands. Although she was not very open on what had happened to the dragon, my agents and Stom quickly reached an agreement. They would kill Jubbek, as much for them as for her.

Two fire giants led the Pathfinders to a set of stairs carved out of lava and leading to the darkness below. "She's a really hot babe," dreamily added Viv, referring to General Stom.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 57 (a Guiltspur giant charging Draco with his lance, on his mastodon).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 126 (Draco retaliating on a Guiltspur giant with a critical hit of his +2 furious greataxe, power attacking).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 114 (Viv engulfing a fire giant in an empowered, intensified, cold fireball).

Death: Draco (-30) as he left rage in an attempt to get healed by Viv. She had to bring him back a second later with breath of life.

Sovereign Court

Whew! I finally caught up as well!

Great job writing the journal, as always! I especially enjoyed your description of the encounter with Yamasoth, that felt quite scary...

It's strange how the group went through the fourth adventure: they started with the 2nd half, which was quite hard (I guess they were one level lower than expected, among other things). That was unexpected, and quite cool. But then I guess when they went back upstairs to "clean up", it might have felt a bit anti-climactic, and they also missed out on some cool encounters, experience, and treasure. I thought it made sense the way you played it: that some of the denizens had left the region, knowing/guessing that their master was dead. But how did you like the sequence of that adventure, as it unfolded in your campaign?

Then you guys already started the 5th adventure. You seem to be going through the campaign at a swift pace! Especially if I compare it to my group's progress through Skull and Shackles, we only did an adventure and a half after one year!!!

It liked the idea that the group passed by Fort Rannick: did you guys play through Rise of the Runelords? If so, was there some nostalgia on your group's part at being back to that location?

And I noticed that the group did a long and arduous journey on foot instead of using high-level magic such as Wind Walk to make the trip faster and easier. Was that a decision based on role-playing concerns? Did it originate from the players, from you, or perhaps from both?

The encounter in the valley with the ghosts of Tar-Baphon's followers was unusual: was that taken from an adventure, or did you create it yourself?

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

As usual, thanks for the kind words, Moonbeam. :)

Moonbeam wrote:
Great job writing the journal, as always! I especially enjoyed your description of the encounter with Yamasoth, that felt quite scary...

The best part there is that I actually had everyone on the edge of their seats in-game. That was quite rewarding, as you can imagine! :)

Moonbeam wrote:
It's strange how the group went through the fourth adventure: they started with the 2nd half, which was quite hard (I guess they were one level lower than expected, among other things). That was unexpected, and quite cool. But then I guess when they went back upstairs to "clean up", it might have felt a bit anti-climactic, and they also missed out on some cool encounters, experience, and treasure. I thought it made sense the way you played it: that some of the denizens had left the region, knowing/guessing that their master was dead. But how did you like the sequence of that adventure, as it unfolded in your campaign?

It was fine. In fact, it was better in the sense that we went through this book quicker than we otherwise would have. It's quite a long dungeon and after 4-5 sessions, things get a little stale because it seems that there is no end to the number of rooms that need to be explored. At least, the way the players did it, they was always a clear driver: getting in, exploring, getting to Ardathanatus as quickly as possible, (getting killed,) getting back as cautiously, but still as quickly as possible.

A few nice encounters were skipped, but that doesn't hurt the story, so I don't mind too much. As you mention, going back for the exploration of the upper levels after dealing with Ardathanatus was a little anticlimatic, but that's also why I assumed that most of the threats had left the abbey. So it only took us a couple of hours to wrap this up, at the end of the session. I made sure it wouldn't last longer than that. At least it provided a positive end to it all since the PCs went out of their way to make sure the doomsday door would remain secret.

Moonbeam wrote:
Then you guys already started the 5th adventure. You seem to be going through the campaign at a swift pace! Especially if I compare it to my group's progress through Skull and Shackles, we only did an adventure and a half after one year!!!

I need to catch up with the write-ups, but we're now half-way through The Dead Heart of Xin! :)

We try to play once a week, but that usually turns into ~30-35 sessions a year, and it takes us about 5-7 sessions to go through one of the chapter, on average. I feel we're still enjoying the scenarios and getting the most out of it. Taking longer would likely make the campaign less appealing. I find it hard not to get a little bored of the campaign and the PCs after a year in real life. If the end is in sight by then, it's very motivating, otherwise I get the feeling everyone is slightly less motivated.

Admittedly, they just did last session what they had done for Beyond the Doomsday Door, and skipped a third of Xin's palace! They were clever, used other means of bypassing difficulties, and I always think it should pay off for the PCs. They miss a bit on the backstory, but they still get a lot of the background anyway, so I don't think they feel cheated, or lost.

Moonbeam wrote:
It liked the idea that the group passed by Fort Rannick: did you guys play through Rise of the Runelords? If so, was there some nostalgia on your group's part at being back to that location?

Yes! And that's why I offered for the group to stop in Fort Rannick if they wanted to (the other solution was Kaer Maga). Out of my four players, three were players of mine in our Rise of the Runelord campaign that we stopped after the Hook Mountain Massacre. So freeing fort Rannick was their moment, 4-ish years ago. It didn't go without a couple of deaths, so I think it was nice for the players to go back there and see it rebuilt. The fourth player also played RotR, albeit with another group, so he also knew what Fort Rannick meant.

It was also fun for me to place them in this situation. At least there was no need to introduce new NPCs to give them the information about the Cinderlands and how they could reach Guiltspur.

Moonbeam wrote:
And I noticed that the group did a long and arduous journey on foot instead of using high-level magic such as Wind Walk to make the trip faster and easier. Was that a decision based on role-playing concerns? Did it originate from the players, from you, or perhaps from both?

The players decided the PCs would travel by foot. I think they simply did not have other means of traveling to Guiltspur. The only two spellcasters are the cleric, and the magus, and neither had access to teleport, or wind walk, or anything like that at the time. Their UMD is also pathetically low. They could have bought a few scrolls, but I guess it never crossed their minds, or they figured it's something their PCs wouldn't do. It was good for me, though, since that meant I could add some content to compensate for the large chunk of the Windsong Abbey they hadn't explored. Even though we ditched XPs for this campaign, I don't like giving them 2 levels in quick succession.

Moonbeam wrote:
The encounter in the valley with the ghosts of Tar-Baphon's followers was unusual: was that taken from an adventure, or did you create it yourself?

That was my addition to the adventure. I used the framework of the original module published in Dungeon, but the details were very much a succession of combat encounter, which I thought was quite boring. So I re-flavored everything for Golarion (linking it to the knights of Ozem and the fall of Tar-Baphon), re-flavored encounters with dinosaurs into the encounter with the bhuta that the PCs could decide to roleplay through instead of fight through if they wanted to, and I added the chase scene through the canyon to make it more dynamic than a succession of fights (which can easily take 30-60 minutes at this level). In the end it worked okay, despite the mechanics being a little too visible for my taste when we played through it. But the players were very inventive, that evening, and that helped a lot to make it heroic. They could have gone for the simple rolls of this, or that, but they sometimes went for unexpected spells (breath of life against the dragon haunts, wall of ice to ride over threats,…), which added a nice breath of fresh air.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXX

Kuthona 28, 4712 AR (continued)

The set of stairs led down to a series of tunnels carved from lava tubes and ended in a large cave where two fire giant stood guard near a large fire. Although the Pathfinders attempted to communicate with the giant, just like they had in the steading above, these guards roared furiously, alarming other nearby giants, and reached for the pile of rocks amassed near them. This time, a fight was in order. The first volley of molten rocks welcomed my agents with pain, and the group of three hill giants that emerged from side tunnels made the battle all the more messy. Despite missing digits, an arm, or presenting nasty scars, the giants were efficient brutes. However, the Four Deadly Sins were quite deadly too: Draco stood his ground, hurling retaliating stones at the giants before moving in to block their advance towards his companions; Laslo, invisible, wreaked havoc on the giants tendons, soft and vital parts; Nasim blocked the horde of giants by greasing the ground under their feet; and Viv topped it off by wielding the doomsday staff she had looted from Kandamereus in the Windsong Abbey, and confused the whole lot of giants. Between two giants attacking each other, one pathetically crying and flailing helplessly as he was unable to get up on the greased floor, and the other two fire giants suffering from both magical cold assaults from Viv, and very physical assaults from Draco, these guards were in fact not much of a threat anymore.

Yet one of them fled down a lava tube, and could not be caught before it was too late. Fearing this lonely guard would raise the alarm, my agents soon ran after him through a couple of tunnels and unoccupied rooms. They quickly reached a grisly sight: a long hall entirely covered in limbs and entrails, heads and viscera, so much of it, in fact, that it was difficult not to slip on all the blood and ichor that coated the floor. Behind twenty meters of that gore, the hall was cleaner until it reach a set of double doors, now guarded by three giants — the fire giants who had fled in front of the Pathfinder and two Guiltspur hill giants — who awaited my agents. As soon as they appears at the other end of the hall, the giants hurled stones. These would have splattered any heroes less experienced than the Pathfinders, but they shrugged it off. Laslo dashed forward, flying just above the gore on the ground, while Nasim clumsily danced his way through it and Draco trudged forward with strength. Standing in the back, Viv once again called on the doomsday staff to confuse the giants, but when she finally decided to cross the hall, a trap opened just under her feet and she fell through a chute into a pit in a nearby room.

The confused giants would keep themselves busy so the other companions investigated Viv's fate and, after a time, decided to follow here down the chute. In the meantime, in the pit with the Asmodean cleric, a pathetic hill giant with no hands or legs prostrated himself in front of our hero, begging for her not to kill him. But if she did not, the rift drakes overseeing the pits did not take kindly to the intrusion and rapidly moved to breath corroding acid on the companions, now gathered with the hobbled giant. Their savage bites, combined with their speed surges, left nasty marks on Laslo and Nasim (Draco had eventually decided to stay in the gory hallway so he could deal with any giant who would bypass the confusing effect of the doomsday staff). Eventually, the Pathfinder prevailed over the draconic creatures and they could learn of the tribe from Togbad, the crippled giant who had been hobbled so by Jubbek after he had attempted to aid a group of Shoanti prisoners escape. The poor thing was obviously not evil and explained to the Pathfinders that Jubbek and his retinue resided behind the double door at the end of the hallway of gore. In exchange for this information, Togbad was let go to join General Stom and what would soon be her tribe. He crawled away as best he could.

Once they flew out of their pit, my agents spotted two other such pits in the same large room. One was populated by a dozen trolls, while the other hosted three giants. All were crippled at one stage or another. A consequence of Jubbek increasing wrath, Togbad had said. The Pathfinders let the crippled in the pits as they did not want to waste their precious resources on them, but did not want to free them either. Back in the main gory hallway, Draco had dealt with the final hill giant, lone survivor of Viv's confusion spell. As they stood in front of the doors to Jubbek's quarter, my agents bolstered themselves with magic: mirror images, barksins, heroism,… many spells were cast before they pushed the double doors open and faced Jubbek.

But the giant chief was not alone: just past the doors, four poorly disguised hill gaints, pretending to be Shoanti barbarians were performing the mockery of a play in front of Jubbek, who stood further away, slouched on an immense throne made of wooden timbers and mastodon bones. Around him, a fire giant bodyguard and a concubine, as well as his faithful giant smilodon pet, Skullcracker. The giants did not take kindly to the interruption yet, before they could move their large carcasses to face the enemy, Viv's fireball was already flying on the stage, hurting the four hill giants who could do nothing else but stand there. Draco and Nasim quickly followed to wrangle with them, while Laslo, as often invisible, sneakily made his way next to Chief Jubbek, a towering hill giant that soon seized his morningstar and his shield. There, he pondered. Should the Ustalavian kill the mighty fire giant bodyguard, or should he slither his blade between the chief's shoulders? He decided to go for the chief, and hope that his invisibility would preserve him from the bodyguard's assaults. And it did, but Jubbek, a powerful hill giant, was barely stopped by the damage he sustained.

The battle turned into a bloody mess when the giants were joined by the chief's concubines, as well as his pet smilodon. Confusion spells flew, the powers of Hell were channeled, axes hacked, the dervish danced, and the Ustalivian targeted vital organs one after the other. There was no pretense at strategy on either side. What only mattered was to wade through the enemy. From the hall the Pathfinders had just crossed, a troop of hill and fire giants closed to join the fray when Nasim blocked the passage with a well placed wall of force. Seeing the gory fight, these giants wisely decided not to circumvent the magical barrier and quietly left the scene (later to be picked up and added to General Stom's tribe). Eventually, Draco struck the killing blow on the giant chief. Another duel of titans, each of the two hitting harder than the previous blow they had received, again and again. And, barely standing, Draco almost cleft the giant in half. But his joy was short-lived as, seeing his master fall, the smilodon Skullcracker pounced on his master's killer and proceeded to rip Draco to pieces. In its frenzy, the giant tiger dismembered the human, and sent his limbs flying across the room. The mighty Don Zerba had fallen again.

Without their chief, the remaining concubines and giants were easily dispatched by the remaining three Pathfinders. The fight over, my agents first collected the body (parts) of their fallen companion, before they turned to the chief's quarters, intent on finding the Shard. That was not difficult for it was embedded in the giant's morningstar. Theirs. The Shard of Wrath was now theirs, ours, and only the Shard of Sloth was missing. We are this close to reforging the Sihedron! Focusing on the newly found artifact hinted that the last Shard was hidden deep within Guiltspur. With Cadrilkasta? Could she have fallen to the curse of the Shard of Sloth, thereby explaining her absence for the past months? The Shard of Wrath indicated that the way forward was through a side-passage that opened onto a pit of roiling back fog and darkness. My agents would soon dive into the pit but, first, they climbed back up to the surface and showed General Stom that they had upheld their part of the bargain. The fire giant upheld hers and her tribe promptly left this forsaken place.

Viv then recalled everyone back to Magnimar so Draco could be raised from the dead. The reckless man is really trying the influence of the Society in Magnimar and, this time, it was quite difficult to convince Jyronn Imikar and the church of Abadar to perform the ritual. But Draco was eventually raised that very evening and, after only a night of rest at the manor, Viv recalled the group back to Guiltspur so they could delve deeper into the ruin of Karzoug's embassy and laboratory of the strange and unexpected.

Death: Draco (-90) ripped apart by Skullcracker, Jubbek's smilodon, after Draco had killed his master.

I unfortunately lost the sheet that listed the damage dealt and sustain during this session. But that was nasty

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXI

Kuthona 29, 4712 AR

Flying through the black fog that obscured any sight into the pit below, the Pathfinders soon emerged from the ceiling of in what was left of a Thassilonian library. Most books had turned to ashes over the eons. If the pile of leathery flesh on the ground attracted my agents' attention, it was in fact from the shadows of the domed ceiling that the threat soon appeared: two skullrippers, scorpion-like creatures of the times of Thassilon covered in skulls, moved to attack the unsuspecting companions with an incredible speed. If Laslo's bestial characteristics allowed him to react swiftly, all the others were taken aback, and soon overwhelmed by the monsters and their fearsome aura. It certainly didn't help that it took my agents a while to realize they were facing constructs and not undead creatures, leading Viv to waste a powerful destruction spell on them. In addition, the powerful grip of the skullrippers made it very difficult to escape their grapple.

Draco spent most of this fight in a duel of strength with one of the constructs, eventually abandoning all hope of escaping its grappling embrace and deciding instead to focus on ripping the monster apart with his raging claws, and with Nasim's help. The other creature almost proved Laslo's plight, until he remembered to activate his ring of freedom, a few seconds shy of being decapitated by the skullriper! And when he was finally able to escape its grapple the Ustalavian fell prey to the construct's aura of fear. He fled in the next room no one had yet explored, only to be surrounded by six statues of faceless angels! But luckily for him, the statues were just that, and they did not move to attack him. Eventually back in the library, Laslo teamed up with the cautious Viv (very wary of the skullrippers' pincers) to destroy the last creature, in particular with a well aimed disintegrate ray.

The Pathfinders, somewhat against there nature, decided not to disturb the library and only took the time to identify the leathery mound of flesh as the remnants of three cloakers, possibly destroyed by the giants some time ago. As they moved to the room with the statues, these uttered words of cautious against anyone who would dare disturb the "exhibits of the Hall of Arcane Wonder." Suffice to say that my agents were happy to have left the library mainly untouched. Viv did shudder, however, as she recognized the faceless statues for the abominations they represented: emissaries of the Faceless Sphinx, the Crawling Chaos, the Outer God Nyarlathotep…

Moving on with redoubled caution, the companions entered a series of room with the most puzzling and wonderful displays: a shrine to the Faceless Sphinx; a giant fireball of roiling fire stopped in the midst of its explosion; a tower surrounded by a spirally staircase, emblazoned with what could have been a rune of Desna, the tower emerging from the ground to merge into the ceiling, as if it intersected this room; a juggernaut, monstrous construct of the serpent folk, displayed like a spoil of war. Plagued by visions of dark spaces, a cold plateau swept by icy winds under a pale mournful moon, the Pathfinders only took the time necessary to gather a few items that appeared to belong to no one (a broken crystal ball, an incandescent blue ioun stone, a rod of the viper…) before they moved forward into the Thassilonian laboratory.

For, yes, it was clearly a laboratory they entered next. Four vats filled with a swirling green liquid were holding four indistinct shapes that a closer look revealed to be an aurumvorax, a roper, the partially dissected body of a phase spider, and a silver dragon. More of the eerie yet immobile faceless statues surrounded the vats. After a quick discussion, the group decided it was best to leave this room alone and they pushed through the only way out, a set of double doors. Yet, little had it revealed a large fountain in the next hallway that my agents triggered a sonic trap that echoed, deafening, through the complex. The vats shattered , pouring their liquid nutrients and their hosts onto the floor. If the phase spider was obviously dead, the other three creatures, apparently crazed from the long stasis, lashed, confused, at anything they saw. To make matters worse, the fountain in the next corridor started boiling to reveal two enormous water elementals that, although more than 15 feet away, instantly attacked Draco and Laslo at the door with their long reach.

The aurumvorax and the roper were too confused to be much of a threat to the companions and Nasim quickly dispatched them with Draco's help while Laslo tried to keep the elementals at bay. Viv, in the meantime, dealt with the dragon. Despite her reluctance at attacking the noble creature, she resigned to defend herself when the dragon engulfed her in her cold breath (for an instant, they were all worried at the sight of the cone of cold engulfing the statues of the faceless angels but these again did not react to the attack; maybe they were really just statues?). Viv's magic was not very efficient against the draconic creature but she eventually fell her with Laslo's help, the Ustalavian having abandoned the doors to join the cleric of Asmodeus. With the passage wide open, the elemental glided in the water that covered the laboratory, pummeling anyone they could in passing.

The dragon down, it looked like the fight against the elemental would be quick and easy, until an intellect devourer burst from the dragon's skull! Still shuddering at their previous encounter with such an aberration, in the derro's lair below the Deepmar mine, Viv and Laslo focused all their assaults on the walking brain, dispatching it before it could endanger them. That left Draco and Nasim alone to face the two elementals that had ample time to coordinate their furious assaults. Eventually, they were also dispatched by the Pathfinders once these were able to join their efforts against the waves made being.

All was dripping with water, or nutrient fluid. The bodies of the vat creatures oozed to nothingness, and silence suffused the halls again. My agents took a few minutes to recover from their ordeal before they moved forward again. A few other rooms displayed even more strangeness (balls of churning water suspended in midair; a chapel consecrated to the Outer Gods and the Great Old Ones; a mage's magnificent mansion whose access was a superb painting in a wall) and, yet again, the companions were assailed by more horrific visions: gaunt gargoyle-like creature hurling them into the black nothingness of space, a peek at the true darkness that awaited beyond the veil of reality… They shuddered at what they saw…

Eventually, they reached a hallway sloping downwards, escaping the laboratory. Extending for more than a hundred meters, its supporting pillars were all carved in the shape of the faceless angels, dozens and dozens of them. By now, my agents had learned to consider them as mere statutes so they were taken completely aback when two of them animated and attacked the Pathfinders with a supernatural speed. Only Draco was walking on the ground while his companions all flew, so the statues jumped on him, hacking at him time after time before he could react, opening nasty gashes with their siccatite swords. Just like at the entrance of the Lady's Light, these caryatid columns proved particularly dangerous to the group with their complete magic resistance and hard rock "skin." But, once again, my agents did not falter and they prevailed without losing anyone.

As the hallway ended, the companions were left standing at the edge of cliff. The opening revealed a large subterranean lake that expanded beyond the edge of their darkvision. Pillars of a long gone bridge marked a path into the lake that the Pathfinders decided to follow.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 55 (a skullripper, squeezing Draco with his pincer)
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 23 (the silver dragon, engulfing Viv in her breath)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 103 (Draco, critically hitting a faceless angel with his greataxe, power attacking)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 103 (Viv with a disintegrate on a skullripper)

Sovereign Court

Poor Draco :( He's often the one who dies :(
By the way, can't Viv bring him back to life? Why do they need Magnimar's priests to do it for them at that level?
Skip the middle-man, I mean.

Olwen wrote:
The best part there is that I actually had everyone on the edge of their seats in-game. That was quite rewarding, as you can imagine! :)

Oh, yeah! That is not something that's easy to pull off on jaded veteran players!

... But your players seem quite fun and inventive (from what I extrapolate from the logs).

Olwen wrote:

I need to catch up with the write-ups, but we're now half-way through The Dead Heart of Xin! :)

We try to play once a week, but that usually turns into ~30-35 sessions a year, and it takes us about 5-7 sessions to go through one of the chapter, on average. I feel we're still enjoying the scenarios and getting the most out of it. Taking longer would likely make the campaign less appealing. I find it hard not to get a little bored of the campaign and the PCs after a year in real life. If the end is in sight by then, it's very motivating, otherwise I get the feeling everyone is slightly less motivated.

Wow, already!!

I agree, I feel the same way about getting a bit bored with the characters after a year or so: already, by that time, concepts for a number of new characters begin to "pile up" inside my brain, and I'm itching to try something new. Same thing for the cool adventures I receive monthly (tantalizingly), faster than I can play them. :)

Reading your journal is really making me want to play Shattered Star, for example, but alas, I have no time. :(

It's funny, we play roughly the same number of games per year in my group, but we progress way slower. Maybe because our games last only 2.5 hours? Or maybe because some people around the table spend too much time talking about real life things... :|

But the advantage of covering less ground during the games is that the logs are faster to write. I get the impression that it must be quite a challenge for you to write these detailed logs, given that your group covers so much material in any given game!

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Moonbeam wrote:

Poor Draco :( He's often the one who dies :(

By the way, can't Viv bring him back to life? Why do they need Magnimar's priests to do it for them at that level?
Skip the middle-man, I mean.

I suspect it's partly because she'd rather have other spells memorized. The problem is that it would mean having raise dead and restoration memorized! and it also costs money. It's also because it's possible to simply use Prestige Points to get raised, so it doesn't cost them anything this way. And since they are always only a word of recall away, it's not difficult to pull off. It also gives them a secured location for resting.

It doesn't really slow the game down, to be honest, since Draco (or others) usually dies in big fights, before they'd want to rest anyway. And Viv can often use breath of life, avoid the use for raise dead altogether.

If Draco dies it's because, well, he's the barbarian, and that's unfortunately what barbarians do at high levels. Once you lose more than 10-15 hit points when you fall unconscious and exit rage, it's very hard to not die. Add to that the fact that the barbarian usually has a rather low AC, and you get a lot of dead Dracos...

But he's not the only one to die in Into the Nightmare Rift. ;)

Moonbeam wrote:
I agree, I feel the same way about getting a bit bored with the characters after a year or so: already, by that time, concepts for a number of new characters begin to "pile up" inside my brain, and I'm itching to try something new. Same thing for the cool adventures I receive monthly (tantalizingly), faster than I can play them. :)

That's certainly something I can relate to! :)

I wanted to play Wrath of the Righteous next, but my players favored Way to the Wicked, so they'll soon play the very bad guys instead of the very good ones. I anticipate we'll finish Shattered Star before the end of January (because traveling and the holiday season means we won't play for the next month), and likely start with WotW straight after that. I'm curious to see how it plays out, and whether it gets boring after a chapter or two, or whether I can bring them all through 20 levels of wickedness.

Moonbeam wrote:
It's funny, we play roughly the same number of games per year in my group, but we progress way slower. Maybe because our games last only 2.5 hours? Or maybe because some people around the table spend too much time talking about real life things... :|

I think that makes a big difference. We play 6-hour slots, but there is easily 30-60 minutes lost to getting started, stopping for a food break, ending slightly earlier because it's a fitting break point, etc. so with a 2.5 hour session, I imagine it's hard to really play more than 2 hours.

Moonbeam wrote:
But the advantage of covering less ground during the games is that the logs are faster to write. I get the impression that it must be quite a...

There's a reason why I'm a few sessions behind! ;)

But since we are rarely able to go for long streaks of weekly session, I can usually find some time to catch up during the week we are not playing.

Sovereign Court

Ah, Way of the Wicked, something else that sounds quite cool... from its concept. I haven't actually read any of those adventures.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXII

Kuthona 29, 4712 AR (continued)

The bridge over the subterranean lake long gone, there was an obvious way forward, but no clear path to follow. Three of the companions took up to the air with magic or alchemical transformation, and Draco, always the athlete resolved to hop from one crumbling pillar to the next. That worked fine until he reached a void where one of the pillars had completely collapsed. As he was eyeing the next pillar further ahead and sizing up his chances of making the jump (or end up in the black waters bellow), he felt his mind being probed by something alien, something dark and slithery. Taken aback, he nevertheless overcame the psychic intrusion. When it happened a second time, he warned his companions that something was afoot. He warned them just in time, too, for he had just ended his sentence that a gigantic octopus like creature with a long neck emerged from the lake below to breathe a mephitic cloud of madness on the group.

The first time my agents suffered from confusion magic, when they faced Ashamintallu, it cost them Draco's life, and no small part of their pride, so now they carried and wore many wards that protected them against mind-affecting magic. This time was no exception as the Pathfinders resisted the foul miasma. Soon thereafter, Laslo dove in, claws first. If he could not reach the mother of oblivion under the water, he would meet her in the dark lake. Draco dove too, swimming powerfully with strong strokes. If his greataxe was of little use underwater, at least he could distract the outsider for long enough that Laslo would carve out her innards. Or so he thought, for the creature, with its many gleaming red eyes, would not be distracted so easily. So Draco resigned himself to wielding his axe. Above the water, Nasim remained cautious and, if he provided some indirect support, he mainly waited for the creature to emerge from the water again, which would never happen. Viv, even higher up in the natural and gigantic cavern, hurled a powerful fireball, that exploded under water and heavily damaged the mother of oblivion. In the end, it was the two most daring, Laslo and Draco, who got the wounded monstrosity to flee far into the unfathomable depths of the lake.

Wary of other attacks, the three flying companions grabbed Draco and carried him with them to a small island the ruins of the bridge ended at. This small plateau, which rose fifteen feet above the water, hosted the ruins of a tower. A casual inspection revealed nothing… until Draco, the only one who walked around, suddenly disappeared in a pit that was well concealed by an illusion. Luckily for the barbarian, his ring of feather falling was active and he gently fell down the two hundred feet to the Embassy of Leng that was buried deeper under the Cinderlands. Once they spotted the illusion, his companions quickly followed him into a small room whose only exit was a set of black metal double doors. The faces of these doors bore the detailed carving of a vast mountain range under a night sky—an eerie castle of immense size crowning the tallest of the mountains. Nasim recognized Kadath overlooking the cold waste of Leng, the realm of Nyarlathotep, among other unfathomable horrors. Laslo and Nasim, focussing on detecting magic, spotted a trap on the doors, that Draco swiftly sundered with all his rage against magic and superstition.

The Pathfinders entered a vast cathedral. Flanked by half a dozen statues of faceless angels honoring the Crawling Chaos, the passage opened onto a vast chamber. Flickering motes of blue light near the ceiling, high above, revealed an elephantine statue of a faceless sphinx on a dais. My agents barely had time to move towards a new set of double doors, baring the same carving as the previous ones, that a powerful wind bellowed in the cathedral. The gusts were so powerful that they sucked the companions onto the tiled floor for those who were walking, and sent Nasim tumbling through half of the chamber to crash into the distant wall. At the center of the tempest now appeared a horrifying vision: a tower of flesh, eyes, and tendrils coiled through the air, half present and half absent. In a frenzy, the Pathfinders went on the offensive. Viv threw an incredibly powerful fireball at the aberration. Her raising ability in the casting of this spell meant that it was easy for her to bypass the magical barrier of the flying polyp and the magic crashed onto it with deep red flames and heat. As Draco was doing his best to thrust himself through the roaring winds, Laslo, quickened by his boots of speed, dove on the monster with all claws, pouncing it was added fury. The battle was over quickly and the eyes, tendrils, mouths severed from the bulk of the polyp slowly drifted away under the dying winds. What other monstrosities dwelled in Karzoug's embassy?…

The doors opened on a large pit of silver mist at the center of a large room with half a dozen doors and a fountain of surprisingly clean water. Draco, who had earlier focussed on the Shard of Wrath to realize that the Shard of Sloth was in Guiltspur, had the flash, a vision of a ritual whose focus was the fountain and would allow them to pass through the silver mist into another place where the last Shard awaited them. Yet this knowledge led to frustration since he could not remember the exact details of the ritual. The Pathfinders explored around, finding an empty treasure room whose only items were cursed, a room with a floating stone, which Nasim identified as a Thassilonian source of knowledge (sadly it was not operational), an engine whose electrical humming and its source of power, abyssium, led to powerful dizziness, a room that hosted a powerful being, a demilich, that the companions made sure not to wake from its slumber by not touching any of its possessions, and two other rooms in which they met new companions.

One of the rooms was a summoning chamber. As they entered it, two outsiders appeared above binding foci: an astral deva angel and a nalfeshnee demon. Little had they materialized that they both talked over each other, the angel begging the Pathfinders to free him, and the demon imploring them not to listen to the angel, but to free him instead for he was not what he seemed. The confusion was total and Viv intimidating both outsiders to silence to allow for a proper conversation did not help at all as she soon became convinced that the nalfeshnee should be freed (her, a follower of the lord of devils!), because he was actually the angel! Draco blocked her, very worried about the consequences of freeing such a powerful demon if she was wrong, while Laslo pondered. Nasim, who had cautiously stayed near the door, pushed for them to just get out of there and leave the outsiders to their bindings. In the end, Viv had it her way and she was right: the nalfeshnee was indeed an angel who had been propelled in the foul body of the demon millennia ago by some experimenting summoner. However, the Pathfinders were disappointed that this demon-looking angel, Ævænthial, knew nothing of the embassy and the way through the pit of sliver mist. He nevertheless promised to help my agents until they had found what they were looking for.

The final room is the one in which the companions found answers in the shape of a Leng ghoul, Morcruft, nibbling at the dry bones of long dead priests. The cowardly creature was quick to show submission and, in exchange for the possibility to join the companions to its world, beyond the silver mist (for, you see, it was stuck in our realm), it narrated the recent activity it had spotted in the embassy. Cadrilkasta had come through this place and performed some kind of ritual before passing worlds. The dragon had tossed some of the abyssium power of the engine into the fountain, cast a spell on it, and then disappeared into the pit. Sadly, Morcruft was no spellcaster and he had no idea which magic was used. His pantomime in attempting to reproduce the spell casting of a dragon could be understood by neither Nasim nor Viv. They were at another dead end, when Morcruft added that soon thereafter, a bejeweled skull (the demilich, obviously) had flown into the room with the Thassilonian source of knowledge and removed a large sapphire from it. Could the sapphire the size of a human heart that the companions had spotted within a foot of the undead be the key to the source, itself the repository of some knowledge about the ritual they needed to perform? There was only one way to know, and it meant dealing with the demilich in the neighboring chamber.

The companions placed themselves strategically around the slumbering skull (Morcruft elected to remain very far from it) and they attacked in unison. Greataxe, claws, and scimitar sliced through the air, and the skull shattered in hundreds of shards. The powerful undead was no more. With the sapphire key, the Pathfinders activated the whisperstone and learned that they needed to cast a nightmare or a plane shift spell on the fountain while sprinkling it with abyssium dust to open the portal to Leng. Luckily, the demilich's horde hosted a nightmare rod! My agents prepared themselves, started the ritual… and dove into the unknown.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 43 (the Mother of Oblivion biting Viv with an improved vital strike power attack).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 34 (Laslo, pouncing with his claw, with power attack and sneak attack on the slumbering demilich).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 105 (Viv, hurling an empowered intensified fireball at the flying polyp).

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Olwen wrote:
The first time my agents suffered from confusion magic, when they faced Ashamintallu, it cost them Draco's life, and no small part of their pride, so now they carried and wore many wards that protected them against mind-affecting magic.

Fortunately your PCs are protected from this kind a magic now. I have a severe dislike for spell effects that take away the players freedom to control their own character, since that often spoils their enjoyment of the encounter. Confusion - when the PCs are not protected against it - is a very annoying and disrupting spell. Once protections are up though, the spell gets turned into a complete non-event. Neither of these (complete disruption or complete non-event) add much to the game in terms of having fun, so I don't really understand why this effect appears so often in this AP.

Still, as a player, I'd prefer the non-event, and as a DM too for that matter, because I don't have fun if my players are not enjoying themselves.

BTW, that fireball (105 damage) must have been a hell of an explosion!

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
MrVergee wrote:
Still, as a player, I'd prefer the non-event, and as a DM too for that matter, because I don't have fun if my players are not enjoying themselves.

Despite the PCs having wards and the saves being reasonably easy, these spells still create tension in the game because you really don't want to fall to a confusion spell when you're at high level. So that's good, even if the PCs save. But even if they fail their saves, they now have many ways to break the effect (dispel magic, heal, etc), so it's not as bad as it was at low level. Still, it's true that this campaign has a lot of confusion effects, probably too much. On the other hand, once the PCs have invested in protections against these, it would be a little sad to remove all of them, because the PCs wouldn't get to benefit from their new toys. It's a difficult balance…

MrVergee wrote:
BTW, that fireball (105 damage) must have been a hell of an explosion!

It sure was! :)

Viv had used the evocation focus found in the laboratory, one level up, and she already specializes in fireballs. So she can be pretty nasty with these. Despite what everyone says of evocation spells which are not supposed to be as good as battlefield control spells, fireballs and other flashy spells are down right nasty when you specialize in them.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXIII

Kuthona 29, 4712 AR (continued)

(I forgot to track the level changes in the journal, but the PCs now move to level 15)

The Pathfinders emerged from a portal in another world. The air was thin, and freezing cold, both clear signs that they were now very high up in altitude, as confirmed by the sheer cliffs of black stones that surrounded the platform on which my agents had appeared. Above and below, dark clouds were roiling, barring sight of the surrounding landscape. Nasim and Viv immediately felt uncomfortable in this place. The Qadiran quickly realized that they were in a god-forsaken place, in a plane at the boundary of reality and dreams; they had landed in the realm of Leng. They shuddered at the thought, but Morcruft and the nalfeshnee/angel accompanying them yanked them our of their scholar considerations: "Ahhh! The faceless monsters, they are coming to get us!" screamed the Leng ghoul as a pack of tall, winged creatures without a face (nightgaunts, Nasim would quickly realize) emerged from the clouds, as well as from the niches and cracks in the black cliffs all around them.

As Morcruft ran between sets of statue of Nyarlathotep in his sphinx-like guise towards a set of giant double doors made of black stones, Laslo pounced and destroyed a couple of the winged creatures, while Nasim was getting himself ready for the fight to come. In the meantime, Viv and Draco hurled a barrage of fireballs, from her Asmodean magic and the Shard he was carrying. Draco's magic paled in comparison to Viv's masterful wrangling of the fires of Hell. Her magic utterly destroyed almost half of the flock of nightgaunts, making the rest of them flee in fear.

On the platform, in the wind, the temperatures were not getting any warmer, so the companions followed Morcruft inside the Temple of the Crawling Chaos. They found him in great conversation with other Leng ghouls who were apparently eager to taste the Pathfinders. It was, however, easy to convince them that this was far from a wise move. A dozen Leng ghouls might have dwelled in their quarters covered in limbs and remnants from many cadavers. Despite the gory sight, the freezing temperatures were keeping the stench to a bearable level and the ghouls were open enough to confirm that the dragon Cadrilkasta had blasted her way through this place, to the great temple beyond. As my agents were about to follow their indications, they warned them that they had called on the priests to the Crawling Chaos and that these were now conducting a ritual to summon a weapon to fight the dragon. Wary of what this all meant, the Pathfinders nevertheless cautiously proceeded forward. If they could find allies in this dreadful place, they would. But the alien priests would see things in a different way…

The Pathfinders entered a grand cathedral, in which four elephant-sized frog-like monstrosities with tentacles for mouths—moon-beasts, Nasim would later tell his companions—were conducting a foul ritual around a gigantic bowl filled to the rim with a foul liquid in which tentacles, mouths, eyes, and other strange features were in the process of assembling. The moon-beasts were summoning a horror, coalesced from insane dreams from many realms. A shoggoth. Viv entered the cathedral first, with the goal to communicate with the moon-beasts, but little had she said "Hello!" that she felt the creatures tug at her mind in an attempt to dominate her. She did not lose any time to retaliate with fireballs, followed by the assaults of her companions. The confusing or dominating magic of the moon-beasts had little effect on my agents, who were now well protected against such compulsion magic and so they methodically carved their were through the tentacled-monstrosities. As one of the priests fell close to the vat of the thrashing shoggoth, the abomination engulfed it and absorbed it, visibly growing in strength. In an attempt to stop the ritual, Nasim foolishly attacked the shoggoth in its vat. His assaults, too weak, did very little to the thing but, luckily, his mirror images prevented him from being utterly destroyed by the creature of beyond the darkest reaches of space. That, and probably also the fact it had not yet entirely entered the demi-plan of Leng.

When the last moon-beast fell to the combined assaults of the companions, the ritual failed and the shoggoth withered and wasted in the space of only a couple of minutes. Their encounter had not gone as nicely as my agents had wanted, but at least they had prevented the summoning of the otherworldly abomination. They took a couple of minute to heal themselves and proceeded down the only way out: a tunnel carved in one of the cathedral's walls. Soon, they reached a new platform outside, looking over the mountains of Leng, with the sight of Unknown Kadath mounting the tallest mountain around, its towers almost touching the gloomy moon above. It is said that the weak of mind falter and become insane at the sight of this impossible castle. Luckily for us, our Pathfinders are not weak and they quickly turned to the matter at hand without losing their mind. On the side of the platform, rubbles, coins, and magic items had been stacked to form some kind of nest and, there, sleepily raising her head at the interruption, lied Cadrilkasta, the mighty blue wyrm who had, for centuries, terrorized the Cinderlands.

"And you would be those I have dreamed about. I can smell the other shards on you. Thank you for bringing them to me, apes. Leave them here with me, and I will not contest your immediate and silent departure," said the dragon, still in a dreamy haze. Taken aback at the dragon's lethargy, my agents decided to use this at their advantage and immediately jumped on Cadrilkasta. Yet their assaults seemed utterly pointless in front of the dragon's power. She barely moved and the clouds around were already cracking with electricity that hammered Laslo and Viv in turn. It would have turned them to ashes had the Ustalavian not protected himself against electricity, and had the Asmodean not used her powerful heal spells twice. In the meantime, Laslo's claws would only rip off the thick scales of the dragon. Nasim's assault, once he had created artificial mirror images of himself and cast spells to resist energy, were equally pointless. Viv, when she could spend some time not healing herself against the storm breath of the blue dragon, attempted to hurl a few fireballs, but these were not able to bypass the dragon's natural resistance to magic. And yet the dragon still wasn't moving, only eying my agents with a sleepy eye, apparently bored. It took Draco to enrage her. When the barbarian charged the mythic creature, he was the first able to really damage her… and wake her from her haze at the same time.

Cadrilkasta rose in the air, furious, despite the curse of the Shard of Sloth that would have her sleep. Calling on more lightning bolts from the clouds around to hammer Viv, she coordinated a breathing of powerful electricity on all the companions but Nasim and the thundering lightning almost had the best of Viv. The cleric collapsed on the ground, unconscious. In addition, the dragon quickly displaced herself, making it even more difficult for the three remaining companions to hit her. Nasim hasted every one before he ran to Viv and cured her with a potion. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get her back on her feet. Hasted, Laslo and Draco could better coordinate their assaults on Cadrilkasta and, soon, a contingent invisibility spell activated on the dragon, and still Draco would axe at the giant beast, guided by Laslo who could see invisibility. Little after this, the dragon teleported away. As quickly as they could, the Pathfinders healed each other with magic, and used these precious seconds to enhance and protect themselves with more magic. They had jumped on the dragon unprepared and it had almost cost them dearly. Although Cadrilkasta was gone, they knew she would come back, for her horde was still on the platform, and a dragon never abandons her horde. After a minute had passed, they were less sure of this and, in an attempt to taunt her back, they started loudly commenting on their looting the dragon's coins and magic items, and actually started shoving these in their magical containers. Yet the dragon would not come. Only the nalfeshnee/angel, who had initially stayed behind to study the moon-beasts' ritual had now rejoined with the Pathfinders.

Finally, Cadrilkasta reappeared, not from the mountainous landscape as they had expected, but from the tunnel they had themselves taken to reach the platform. The dragon was blocking the way out, its massive bulk barely fitting in the passage. As soon as she appeared, the clouds started cracking with electricity against and bolts of lightning once again smashed the companions. But the nalfeshnee realized this version of Cadrilkasta was in fact just a powerful illusion! Laslo boldly went into the tunnel to find the real dragon and, to create a distraction, Viv summoned the illusion of an army of adventurers climbing the cliff onto the platform, charging inside the tunnel with Laslo. But Cadrilkasta, hiding deeper in the passage, invisible, would have none of this and she welcomed both Laslo and the army with a prismatic spray. A green ray hit the poor Ustalavian square and, even though he is pretty resilient to poisons, he dropped on the tiled floor, dead, with only the time to utter a gloomy "Crap…"

That's what happens when you roll a 1 on your save and you have no ward to allow you to reroll!

Draco abandoned his idea of assaulting the invisible dragon and, instead, grabbed the corpse of his dead companion, whirled around, and brought it to Viv so she could breathe life in him, bringing the vivisectionist back among the living, if only barely. My agents were in a dire need of a distraction, so Nasim cast glitterdust on the dragon, rendering it visible from all, before blocking the tunnel with a cloud of killing poison which did little against the dragon, but killed her summoned lillend companions who had likely healed her. Cadrilkasta emerged from the cloud, enraged. Paying no attention to the Qadiran whom she did not judge a threat, she breathed deadly electricity on Draco and Viv who were now, like Laslo, barely standing. The Ustalavian and the Asmodean hid behind a wall to patch themselves up while only Nasim and a bleeding Draco stood alone in front of the powerful beast.

Close to the edge of the platform, the nalfeshnee-angel had attempted to dispel Cadrilkasta's invisibility and displacement spells to make my agents' life a little easier. Most of his attempts had failed when, finally, he was able to dispel these effects. Feeling somewhat tight in the tunnel, the dragon roared and flew to the other side of the platform, next to its edge overlooking the precipitous cliffs of Leng. There, she propelled magic missiles at Viv… who absorbed them in her ring of forcefangs. Roaring even more furiously, she hurled more bolts of electricity at the sturdy Draco, utterly destroying him. My agents only brought back the charred remains of the powerful barbarian to the manor with the Shards

Yet the other companions were still standing. Nasim danced like life depended on it, and it did, as he weaved true strike in his feints. Laslo aimed all his assaults at vital organs for if not all claw assaults bypassed the dragon's thick scales, those that did certainly hurt the creature of legends. Viv grabbed her unholy symbol of Asmodeus and, again and again, summoned fiery tentacles of hellish fire that relentlessly ensnared Cadrilkasta. Finally, the dragon was weakened enough that it seemed she could be brought low by a single hit. That's when she attempted to teleport again… only to fail her concentration as she split her focus between the spell casting and avoiding the assaults against her! Seconds later, it was Laslo who dealt the killing blow to the dragon. Cadrilkasta, monster of monsters was no more!

The Shard of Sloth glittered in the spasming claw of the dead wyrm. Finally, that was it, my agents had found all seven Shards! The Sihedron was soon to be reforged!

The companions gathered the dragon's horde and Draco's charred body, and they got out of the godforsaken plane of Leng as quickly as they could. They climbed back the many levels under Guiltspur, now completely empty, before Viv could finally recall them all back to Magnimar.

It has been a trying ordeal, with many dangers and deaths but, finally, the Sihedron will be reforged and soon protect Varisia against its many enemies, known or unknown.

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 25 (Cadrilkasta, biting Draco with an attack of opportunity)
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 122 (Cadrilkasta breathing electricity on Draco and Viv)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 58 (Laslo, with a claw sneak attack on a nightgaunt)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 180 (Viv disintegrating a moon beast into oblivion)

- Laslo, hit by a green ray of Cadrilkasta's prismatic spray, and rolling 1 on his Fortitude save.
- Draco (-86), sizzled a bolt of Cadrilkasta's storm breath.

Unconscious: Viv (-7) after the combination of Cadrilkasta's breath and a bolt from her storm breath.

Sovereign Court

Wow! That fight was epic! Quite a contrast compared to the demilich who got "wtfpwned" without being able to do anything.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Yes! I was pretty happy with myself after the fight with Cadrilkasta. :)

I was wary of the CR system at high level after the PCs had dealt with the flying polyp or the mother of oblivion so easily. But Cadrilkasta was spot on, and the 1 on the Fortitude save certainly didn't help the PCs' cause!

As for the demilich, that's how these creatures go: either you kill them before they can do anything, or the PCs are in a world of pain because she can effectively kill a PC (and sent them out of reach of breath of life) every round. They played smart, recognized the creature, and gathered information in the complex before coming back to deal with her when there was no other way. So I don't mind them killing it before I got to play her.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXIV

Gods and goddesses, what plights this day has brought upon us. At a global and on a personal level. Had I known what was to come I wonder if I would have had the strength to conduct the ritual to reforge the Sihedron. If I still believe in my heart that it will one day come to save Varisia against an unknown threat, we have, along with Magnimar, payed a steep price for it…

Kuthona 30, 4712 AR to Abadius 3, 4713 AR

As soon as my agents reappeared at the manor with the good news that they had gathered all seven Shards, I put things in motion for the ritual of the reforging of the Sihedron. Dignitaries needed to be invited, the Pathfinder Society needed to be warned so they could send representatives, people of power needed to be called for from all over Varisia. This would take a week that our companions took to rest and also re-equip themselves. The hunt for the Shards was over but I suspect that, like me, they felt that not all was over. Powerful as they now were, they teleported to Absalom, the largest city on this side of the world. What impression they made on the trainees at the Grand Lodge! What impression they made on us all over the few months. A new year was upon us, and it would be a different year, under the protection of the Sihedron.

A single week was not enough for artisans to craft the magical items my agents wished, so, in an impressive display of their power, Viv created a demi-plane in which time flowed more slowly and the crafting could be completed. It was not difficult to find craftsmen who would agree to spend two weeks in a place of wonder to perform their art. I heard that Viv and Laslo also took some of this time to discover each other more thoroughly.

Abadius 4, 4713 AR

The eve of the ritual. I gathered the members of the reforging council, as I had named our group of dignitaries. Aram Zey was there, Master of Spells of the Pathfinder Society, along with Kreighton Shane, the Master of Scrolls. From Magnimar, I had invited Mayor Grobaras, as well as the head of the Abadarian church, Jyronn Imikar (who had so often brought Draco back from the realm of Pharasma), Toth Breacher, the founder of the Golemworks who had helped us by crafting some of the necessary ioun stones, and captain Odinburge, representing the city guard in the absence of Officer Kasadei who was on a mission to curb the boggard's activities in the Mushfens. Koriah was also here after she had reunited with her father in the aftermath of the Windsong Abbey's destruction. She was now involved in the rebuilding of the Abbey and even offered Viv the position of the Asmodean priest there. Finally, the heroes of Sandpoint had journey to the city to offer their support: Sharic, excentric wizard, Sarabelle, travelling cleric of Desna, Coll, always invested in some shady actions, and Elana, the half-orc monk who had temporarily exited her seclusion for this event.

I explained that the ritual would take place on the most open and magnificent location of the city, the Irespan. This would allow many Magnimarian to attend. The heroes of Magnimar would bring the seven Shards and seven powerful spellcasters from the council would pour raw magic in the reforging altar that had been unconvered in the Crow. From my research, this should be enough to trigger the reforging of the Sihedron. I thought the plan was simple, but as soon as I had laid it out, most present shouted louder than the others to try and make their point. The Pathfinders wished the artifact secured in one of the Society's vaults when Mayor Groboras vouched it belonged in a museum, on display, so "we could show these snobs in Korvosa who holds the glory and the power in Varisia." Everyone was trying to explain their point of view in the cacophony. Even Nasim interjected that he wasn't sure he wanted to part with the Shard of Greed after all.

It took some convincing and most of the afternoon, but with my agents' help, we were able to convince everyone that we would do things one step at a time, starting with the reforging the next day, and that maybe the best protectors of the Sihedron would be those who had enabled its discovery and reforging: the Pathfinder heroes of Magnimar. Not everyone was happy with this solution, but at least no one disagreed with it. Even Nasim could be convinced that he needed to give his Shard for the ritual, even though he was disappointed that he wouldn't be part of the magical ritual. Taking them aside, I explained to my agents that it would be wiser if they could participate, but not exhaust their magic on the reforging. A large crowd was expected and I wished they were at the top of their game if anything were to happen.

Abadius 5, 4713 AR

That was it, the day of the reforging. The few months leading to this day, since Natalya's folly, had passed us in a haze and I felt like I had not slept since my agents had brought the first Shard back to the manor. An immense crowd had gathered in front of the Irespan. Thousands of people. It felt as if all Magnimar had come to witness this historical moment. It was the dream of merchants, peddlers, pickpockets, and doomsayers. My agents noticed Kandamereus there, who had long ago helped them locate the Lady's Light. When he saw them, he belowed: "The Harbingers of Doom have returned and with them they bring the End of the World. Rejoice, for the apocalypse is upon us!" As they passed him to reach the location of the ritual, they could not shake off (and neither could I) that maybe the crazed man was not wrong…

The ritual started with the egotistical Grobaras explaining to the assembled crowd that he had made it all possible. I then took the stage to right this wrong and thank those we owe the gathering of the Shards to: Draco, Laslo, Nasim, and Viv. The "Four Deadly Sins." The heroes of Magnimar. And we started the ritual. The seven spellcasters who poured raw magic into the altar could barely stand afterwards, but it did the trick. The seven-sided Sihedron now floated above the altar, bathing the surroundings with light and humming slightly. After a few seconds of tension during which I expected the world to shatter around us, I could finally relax. Beaming, I turned to Viv, smiled, and started: "Well, that went better than I…"

I would never finish my sentence for the Irespan shook with a terrible tremor that lasted, and lasted. As we stood on the Irespan, we could see tiles, stones, beams fall off the city's buildings, threatening to crush the crowd at any moment. The crowd, which was on the verge of turning into an aimless mob. The tremors showed no sign of subsiding and the Irespan shook more violently when a first hairy limb emerged from a crack, then another, then another. Soon, a shriezyx of nightmarish proportions stood at the edge of the massive bridge. At this horrific vision, we got into motion. I did my best to usher away the spellcasters of the council who, exhausted, were in dire threat. The city guard did its best to keep the crowd under control so they wouldn't trample those who had fallen from the shifting ground. Viv flew above them and poured all her notoriety in her commands to the crowd. In the meantime, Laslo grabbed the Sihedron who swiftly placed itself as a halo behind his head. With Laslo and Nasim's help, the Sihedron floating from one to the next, they quickly dealt with the shriezyx, despite its bulk.

The tremors stopped. Silence overcame the city, silence only broken by the cries of those hurt in the earthquake. And the city started humming. The monuments scattered throughout the city, blessed by the angels, transformed into beacons of light. It was as if the City of Monuments had awaken. Something even more odd happened, as the sea retreat in a single big rush, leaving behind the sorry shells of boats on the bay's shoals. The heroes reacted quickly: they understood they had but a minute or two before a tsunami crashed onto the city. Words would be inefficient against the powers of Nature, even though Draco, Laslo, and Nasim were doing what they could to channel the crowd. Without losing an instant, Viv grabbed the scroll of miracle she had kept from Cadrilkasta's horde. Flying barely above the Irespan, alone facing the ocean, I saw her clamly start her incantation. I shuddered as I understood she was calling on the Prince of Hell himself to protect Magnimar.

When the wall of water appeared on the horizon, advancing towards land at an incredible speed, it seemed that nothing could stop it. Despite Viv's incantation, nothing seemed to happen at first. But when the wave threatened to crash onto the harbor, Asmodeus answered the prayers of his minion. Writhing tentacles of hellish fire rose from the shores, wriggling in the air with some evil intent that, on this day, would protect us all. The wave crashed on this fragment of Hell, vaporising in an instant. For a moment, no one could see anything through the steam, but as it started to receed, Magnimar's harbor stood there, mostly intact, dripping. I cringe to write this, but Asmodeus has saved the City of Monuments today. But what a price it would soon cost us.

Smaller waves followed the tsunami and, with them, parts of constructs beached on the flooded streets of the harbor. An army of clockworks seemed to have ridden with the wave. Thassilonian clockworks, Xin's clockworks… The heroes quickly dove to deal with the situation and some clockwork leviathans which were still alive and attacking what they could. When it seemed this was finally over, it's a furious creature of the depths that emerged, hurling whole boats, along with insults in Thassilonian at the poor souls who were still on the harbor: a scylla, creature of legend. Yet when this scylla saw Viv in her guise of Sorshen, she quickly submitted to her. This thing, it seems, had been an agent of the Runelord of Lust when she still ruled parts of Thassilon. Her slumber had been shattered by the earthquake and she had come to investigate this "ruin," as she called it (Magnimar), that crept over the Irespan. With all the authority she could muster, Viv was able to convince the creature that she needed to retreat back into the ocean and await her call. Relunctantly, the beast withdrew and disappeared in the choppy waves of the bay.

It was over. Magnimar had been saved from no small threat.

The council gathered at the manor. Nasim and Toth had reached the same conclusion: Xin's palace must have risen in the middle of the sea far off the Magnimarian coast and, with it, the armies of the fallen Emperor of Thassilon had awaken. We could but turn to our heroes and ask them to investigate the threat and, if possible, cleanse it. Luckily, they accepted and decided to depart the next day. But as the council was drawing to a close, a commotion could be heard outside. The Pathfinders, who still had some energy left in them, even after the ordeals of the day, were the quickest at the door.

It was dark outside, now, but we could see that a small crowd, maybe a hundred-person strong, had gathered in front of the manor. They were armed with forks and makeshift clubs. The torches they were carrying gave to the scene the appearance of a cliché from Ustalav, recounted by a bad bard. Two Vanderales were leading the enraged crowd. These were Viv's parents, who had never agreed to her freedom, but had been swift to turn against the Pathfinder Society when Viv had not returned from the Lady's Light. Or so everyone thought, since the Asmodean cleric had changed bodies there, her soul transferred in Sorshen's clone. There stood the Vanderales, adamant, pushing the crowd to burn the manor and the Pathfinders who had brought so much destruction to Magnimar on that day.

Calmly, Viv went to the front of the crowd, accompanied by her lover, Laslo. Draco and Nasim stood in the back, eying the situation (and Nasim evaluating how easy it would be to deal with such a the crowd, which spells would be the most efficient). Viv was eloquent, convincing maybe half of the crowd that they were not the enemy, that Magnimar needed to stand united on this difficult day, that the threats were not over. Maybe it was her speech, maybe it was the sight of the beastmorphed Laslo next to her, maybe it was the sight of the brawny Draco, or that of Nasim's glittering scimitar in his hand, whatever the reason, parts of the mob started to disband. The Vanderales, however, would not budge. Soon, Viv's mother grabbed a torch from one of the hesitant invaders and, tossing it on the manor's roof yelled, "That's how we need to deal with these enemies of the city!" I don't understand what happened next. The torch was not even much of a threat, especially since Draco quickly climbed on the roof to put it off. Viv's glare took the icy edge of steel. Something changed in her. She snapped. "So you have chosen…" Her voice trailed into in incantation. The fires of Hell obliterated everything and everyone around her but her companions. The horror. Of the mob, only a few charred skeletons were left. I was dumbstruck. Draco looked sad, Laslo uneasy. As we all looked at her in shock, the Asmodean attempted to justify herself, that they had started, that they were committing arson, that it had to be punished before the city collapsed into chaos in these dire times. I could hear none of it. Viv, the Viv I've known for so many years, is gone. Taken away from me by the Prince of Hell. Was this the price to pay for Asmodeus's protection against the tsunami? Was it worth it?

The only thing I heard before retreating to my chambers to think of my failures to Magnimar, and to Viv, that day, was Nasim's take on the horror the Asmodean had just committed: "Who am I to judge…"

(And, with this, Viv switched from LN to LE.)

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 9 (Laslo getting slammed by a clockwork leviathan)
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 24 (Nasim, getting steamed by a clockwork leviathan's breath)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 50 (Laslo, ripping through the giant shriezyx's carapace with a claw sneak attack)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 116 (Viv, disintegrating a clockwork leviathan)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXV

(The PCs are now level 16.)

Abadius 6, 4713 AR

After the events of the previous evening, I could not bare myself to see off the heroes of Magnimar. Maybe I had been blinded before by the excitement of the hunt for the Shards, but I did not recognized my former agents. Maybe they could prove their value again by saving Magnimar from the clockwork armies of the dead emperor Xin? If such threat really existed. My good husband, Canayven, wished the heroes of Magnimar well as they departed, offering them the powerful wayfinders that they should have been given by the Society for their discovery of the Shards. It seemed such a menial reward after the heroes had saved Magnimar from the devastation it seemed bound to suffer in front of this gigantic tsunami wave.

It took a good part of the day for the heroes' boat to reach the vicinity of the new island that now stood amid the vast expense of the sea. Yes, Xin's palace had risen from the sea, a black scab of obsidian in the middle of ruined buildings from another age. The fishermen who had brought the company so far wished to sail no further and the heroes finished their journey by taking to the air. A short flight around the island showed no obvious sign of activity among the algae-covered buildings but splashing fish, abandoned by the retreating sea. The stench of the rotting crustaceans and vegetation was overwhelming. Our heroes snuck into the ruins and, still far from the looming black stone of the palace that showed no window, they set up a small camp to allow the Asmodean to mediate and venerate her dark god in magical fumes.

The cleric was deep in her dark prayers when three gillmen emerged from the nearby ocean. Communication was nearly impossible with them as no one spoke Aquan and Viv, who could have used tongues was deep in her trance. The situation lasted for an uncomfortable time when the sea-men suddenly attacked our heroes! These soon realized that the gillmen were but illusions manipulated by three submerged aboleths, apparently not ready to let anyone close to their realm, or what they considered their realm. The slimy creatures proved ineffective at dominating the companions and even Draco, with the help of the Sihedron, did not fall pray to their manipulating magic. Sure, Laslo got hit by a slimy tentacle or two and his skin turned translucent for an instant but, with Nasim's hasting magic, the three companions dispatched the aboleths without too much difficulty while the Asmodean stayed deep in her trance.

With the cleric's magic bolstered as the night fell on the Steaming Sea, the heroes of Magnimar approached the dark and immense structure that stood in the middle of the ruin. If there was a door, it had melted into the walls of black obsidian, leaving no lock, or opening mechansim. It was obvious no one was welcome inside. Nasim noticed strong hints of a magical trap on the door, which Laslo disarmed before masterfully disabling the blockage and opening the obsidian door on an antechamber. Blue lights floated near the ceiling, illuminating a small hall decorated by the statues of Azlanti. Most had crumbled to the ground. Before the companions could move to the opposing obsidian door, clouds of runes made themselves visible only an instant before they coalesced into beautiful elf-like being of light: axiomites, pure creatures of law who were guarding the entrance to the main hall of the palace. "None shall disturb Emperor Xin, not even you my Lady, and your retinue of noble primitives," they stated, apparently taking the Asmodean for the Runelord Sorshen. The axiomites would not budge, explaining that one does not request an audience, but beckons to Xin. Bit by bit, the smooth-tongued Asmodean was nevertheless able to instigate doubt in the axiomites minds, as she explained that things were amiss in the palace, and that Xin himself likely did not embody law anymore, that his mind, or his legacy, had been corrupted. Surely the chamberlains wished to investigate the state of Xin and his palace, just like the companions wished to! Reluctantly, the lawful creatures agreed to accompany the heroes of Magnimar to Xin's throne room.

The axiomites of Xin opened the way into a massive hall, its ceiling disappearing in the distance more than two hundred feet above and its crystal-like floor revealing row upon row upon row of clockworks in a submerged storing chamber below. Xin's army numbered in the hundreds if not the thousands. Advancing between rows of clockwork guards, the group reached a throne of jagged black crystal that seemed to grow from the floor. There, a bent, wizened, motionless figure sat. Bearing obvious azlanti features, the man appeared to be mortally wounded—both his legs had been blasted away, along with his right arm. The stumps were charred black, and horrible burns marred much of the rest of his body where flesh could be seen through his tattered, once-regal robes. Long black hair cascaded from his head, adorned by a metal circlet. This was Xin, the emperor of Thassilon. His dead-looking body stirred, as if the emperor had just awakened from a long nap. "What strangeness disturbs my well-deserved rest? Another assassin?" he muttered as the axiomites kneeled in front of him in deference.

Before they could move, the heroes of Magnimar were seized by a vision of a large crowd of Azlanti assembled around a younger Xin who held a large stone of evident power in his hand. The Pathfinders experienced the founding of Xin's Palace from this stone after he had fled from Azlant. They experience the passage of time; ten thousand years, imparting all the loneliness, madness, despair, and frustration that built in that eon. The vision revealed the island rising anew from the sea, and an endless legion of clockwork soldiers marching into the waves. This was what was to come: the armies of Xin taking over Varisia again, led by a clattering shape with a skeleton trapped inside— the clockwork reliquary that now hosted the dead emperor. This vision ended with this clockwork army dismantling Magnimar and replacing it with a new city of gears and crystal ruled by a reborn Xin…

The heroes of Magnimar were back again in the great hall of Xin's Palace. This hadn't happened. Yet. On the throne, the spirit of Xin, half translucent got agitated. "What is that? Chamberlain! Fetch my Sihedron!" And, turning to the Asmodean, his gaze finally focussing, with great anger and spite: "You! Assassin! You have come to finish what your minion could not accomplish? You won't stop me in my new immortal body! My legion will remake the world out of the ashes of yours, as soon as my body is rebuilt!" Before the Pathfinders could voice their opinion, or maybe even their respect, Xin's spirit screamed and parts of his essence engulfed one of the clockwork legionnaires that formed the passage to the throne. It shambled forward, covered in blue light, at the same time as half a dozen other legionnaires. Surrounded, the heroes defended themselves and crushed the constructs one after the other. Under the aegis of the Sihedron, the constructs could do little to harm them. And when they did harm one of the heroes, these were swift to circulate the Sihedron between them so they could share its healing powers.

The hall was soon silent again. Troubled, the axiomites opened to the Asmodean's request that the companions should be allowed to investigate what had come of Xin and if folly had overtaken him. The heroes now faced multiple choices for many doors adorned the grand hall. A large rune on the floor could also transport passengers to the lower submerged levels or to the levels higher up in Xin's palace. My former agents decided for the latter. They were not here to explore and, in doubt, always go up. And if it could lead them directly to Xin, that would be best since the group was not the most efficient against constructs (especially golems), despite the impression they had just given in their fight against the legionnaires.

The flight of magical stairs led the group to a hall of golems. In this long chamber, inert constructs of all shapes and sizes lined each wall. The specimens were each more complicated and intricate than the last. The collection was impressive, in particular the gigantic draconic clockwork that stood at one end of the hallway. But nothing moved at the group's appearance and the heroes had the choice of one of eight doors around. The first one they opened, at one end of the hallway, revealed an orchestra in a round chamber. Investigating further, the companions triggered a magical effect that led to a discordant cacophony. The Pathfinders steeled themselves, resisted the mind-affecting magic, and closed the door. They went for the larger one at the other end of the large hall. However, as soon as they got closer to it, the massive clockwork dragon animated, breathing gouts of fire on the heroes of Magnimar. But, once again, as soon as they overcame their surprise, the companions were extremely efficient, bolstered by the Sihedron. The artificial dragon soon exploded in a self-destructing blast of scorching heat. Nothing the Sihedron could not heal in a minute.

The room behind the clockwork dragon contained one of the famed spellwells, potent artifacts used by Xin to store and study spells. This one was tied to the school of enchantment. Two traps triggered as the heroes neared the only other exit, a door that ornated the opposing wall. Slivers of crystal bursted from the door, barely hurting the heroes, and the gigantic crushing hand was unable to take a hold on Viv, protected by a spell of freedom of movement. The door was melted in the wall, though, but the deft Laslo opened it as he had opened the entrance of the palace.

The dark walls of the room the companions entered dampened the light of their wayfinders. A large Sihedron rune was inlaid in the dark crystal floor, each of its arms painted a different metallic sheen—black, blue-green, pale green, red, coppery orange, silver, and ivory-white. Studying the rune, Nasim realized it was some sort of teleportation circle, but it was not clear how it worked, except that spells needed to be focused on the rune, or some parts of it to trigger an effect. The Asmodean tried to cast a random spell, but the only thing this triggered was the summoning of a marut inevitable that quickly moved to defend the room. It took a combination of the cleric's wall of ashes to blind the outsider, as well as Draco and Laslo to dismantle it. Another spell tried by the Asmodean summoned another inevitable. They were clearly going nowhere like this, so the cleric decide to use powerful means of divination and communed with the Prince of Darkness. Through a series of questions, she learned that successive spells of the appropriate school allowed a user to teleport to the next room in the sequence. These spells had to be from the schools tied to the seven sky metals that the Sihedron was made of, and were represented by the different colors on the rune that covered the floor.

The companions readied themselves and the Asmodean cast an illusion spell on the coppery arm of the rune to be spirited away into the first of the seven sky vaults of Xin's palace…

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 35 (Viv, struck by the vital strike of a legionnaire of Xin with his greataxe).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 21 (Draco, hit by the magic missiles of an aboleth).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 63 (Laslo, dismantling one of Xin's legionnaires with a claw sneak attack).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 129 (Viv, obliterating a legionnaire of Xin with stormbolt).

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

And with this, I'm finally caught up with the game. Tomorrow will be the third session through The Dead Heart of Xin and it will be the penultimate, or maybe even the last session of the campaign as the PCs beelined to the end through Xin's palace.

The PCs are incredibly powerful at level 16 with the Sihedron, so I wonder how tense the final battle will be. I hope it'll be tense and stressful! The future of Varisia is in the balance after all.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have fun!

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Our heroes overcame Xin and successfully concluded the campaign!

More to follow once I write up the final journal chapter.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Gratz, I can't wait.

Sovereign Court

Awesome! Congratulations!!!

Regarding Viv's alignment change, I'd always assumed that she was LE from the start. ;)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Eh, no. She had always been LN. A somewhat unhinged LN, but neutral nevertheless. ;)

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XXXVI

Abadius 6, 4713 AR (continued)

The Pathfinders reappeared on a large Sihedron rune in the first of seven sky metal vaults; the horacalcum vault. Plates of the coppery metal covered the walls of the small rhomboidal room, carved with numerous depictions of First King Xin through the ages. Time appeared to freeze, and accelerate, to freeze again as a whirlwind of matter and time took form. A bythos aeon guarded this room against intrusion and immediately attacked the trespassers. Although its arms carried aging powers, Laslo (who was the only one hit by the outsider) shrugged of the magic and slashed at the creature, soon followed by Draco who hurled his magical stone and charged in melee. Nasim's shocking grasp intertwined with this scimitar assaults and the Asmodean's final destruction magic got the best of the aeon.

The Pathfinder grabbed a magical sandglass displayed on a nearby dais and channeled the transmutation spell of the Sihedron in the corresponding branch of the Sihedron rune on the floor. Yet, before doing so, they had decided to use magic to render themselves invisible, so when they appeared in the adamantine vault and nearby statues of the runelords animated, these could not efficiently pinpoint them, but our heroes could also not see each other! Any sense of tactics turned into a slugfest. Eventually, Nasim grabbed a magical halberd that stood against the wall and the casting of an enchantment spell into the Sihedron rune on the floor whisked them all away to the next vault.

The djezet vault hosted a large bowl of the sky metal, from which amorphous blobs coalesced into two forms of Xin. The two creatures would finish each other's sentences maybe not even aware that they were two different entities. The mezlans, for these were some of these magical oozes that had not been seen on this world since the times of Xin, imperviously pretended to be the First King and asked for submission. But when the Pathfinders dismissed their invisibility, the creatures saw that the Asmodean resembled the runelord Sorshen and they immediately attacked. Lightning bolts sliced through the air and sizzled the companions who quickly retaliated and dealt with the oozes. It took only a minute for the powers of the Sihedron to heal my formed agents. The large djezet bowl soon found its way into one of their bags of holding.

Another spell cast on the floor rune and the Pathfinders were whisked to the inubrix vault whose walls were plated with the pale white sky metal. Before incorporeal creatures could assault the companions, they move to the noqual vault. There was no sense in getting delayed now since they could always come back later to strip these vaults of any valuables. The green hues of noqual covered every surface of this vault, which held numerous weapons and armor. That was enough to give the group a second of pause and they decided to fight the two crystallises guardians, elemental creatures of the plane of earth, whose claws were particularly deadly. The antimagic properties of the noqual surrounding everyone made for difficult castings of spells, yet the Asmodean was able to almost destroy the two guardians with a single particularly powerful fireball, even though that meant Laslo and Draco were also burned. The creatures were soon finished off by the Pathfinders, who took the time to shove all the weapons and armors in their dimensional containers while the Sihedron was cycled through them and healed them.

The siccatite vault in which the group next appeared turned from freezing, to scorching, to freezing again in a matter of seconds, endlessly cycling under the effects of siccatite, a sky metal that can be utterly cold or hot. The scalding mist in the room would soon turn to ice rimming all surfaces before turning again into a thick fog. The temperatures as well were more than incomfortable, except for Laslo and Nasim who, as tieflings, were mainly impervious to non-magical fire and cold. The situation was such a surprise that the Pathfinder got jumped by a massive golem of iron, its arms ending with sihedron shaped weapons where fists should have been. Since he pounced the construct, Laslo was an easy target and got severely injured but, again, that was not anything the Sihedron could not heal in a mere few seconds after the group had dealt with this guardian. There was now only one vault left and there was some apprehension when the Pathfinders cast the ice storm spell of the Sihedron into the floor rune to be teleported to the abysium vault.

As they passed from vault to vault, the Pathfinders had been seized by visions of the life of Xin: fleeing Azlant; founding his beautiful and pure crystal palace that would become the obsidian prison the companions were now exploring; building the sky vaults to store sky metals; misguidedly giving more power to his apprentices that would later attempt to assassinate him and become the runelords; toiling, alone, at his forge, creating a mighty army of thousands of clockworks to take over Varisia; and, finally, working on a massive construct that would provide him with eternal life. These passed by like a flash, as if the walls of Xin's iconic moments infused the palace so deeply that they imprinted themselves on all it held.

As soon as they appeared in the vault of the blue-green sky metal, flakes of abyssium slowly drifting around, the Pathfinders started to feel the potent nauseating effect of the poisonous metal that suffused the air. This time, there was an exit to the room, a large door of dark crystal. But before it stood a mighty guardian: a marilith demon who did not seem in the least bothered by the room's nauseating atmosphere. She also seemed glad to have company and did not attack the Pathfinders like the previous guardians. Instead, she started a game of a question for a question. The companions were happy to oblige if it meant that they could learn more about Xin and the palace. The demon, Belmedra, had been guarding this vault for the last 11,174 years and she even seemed proud that her mind had stayed much more stable than Xin's over these millennia. Xin who was awakening somewhere beyond the door she guarded. In exchange for this information, Belmedra was most interested in what had come of the world in this eon; the Pathfinders were happy to oblige. However, she was adamant that she would kill them if they attempted to get through the only exit to the vault. Direct questions about the magic that bound her here and her contract made it clear that the companions did not wield the powerful magic necessary to release her from her guardianship.

In an attempt to circumvent the compact (and quicken the conversation for the foul abyssium atmosphere was starting to take its toll), the Asmodean pretended to be searching for some item relevant to the conversation to instead reach for the iron bands of binding she had recently bought in Absalom. Alas, the marilith saw through her bluff and attacked in the instant. She turned into a whirlwind of sky metal swords as she unleashed her assaults on Laslo who, once again, had been the first to react and to pounce the female demon. The Ustalavian proved too deft, even for the powerful outsider and none of the swords hit. Despite the nauseating atmosphere, the companions overcame the guardian with magic and weapons. Barely taking the time to grab the many sky metal swords, some of them of magical nature, the Pathfinders rushed into the corridor behind the black crystal door. The air was more breathable here and my former agents took the necessary time to heal themselves from the debilitating effects of the abyssium, as well as further bolster their defences with magic. They knew Xin was not far ahead.

As they pushed the door at the end of the corridor, the Pathfinders entered a room filled with cogs and gears, thousands upon thousands of them. It was difficult to wade through this sea of metal to the door on the opposing wall, but no threat awoke to block their passage. Pushing the door, the companions were overcome by yet another vision. This time, it was the vision of Xin's assassination by an immense rune giant who had snuck into the palace. Yet, as the giant was about to strike the killing blow on the old king, calmly—smiling, even—Xin reached out a bony hand. "You will die. But I will live again!" Holding high the fragments of the Shattered Star he had just used to power his final massive construct of eldritch power, Xin closed his eyes and hurled the Shards at the giant. A blinding white fire consumed all… and in the room in front of them, the Pathfinders could see the walls, the floor, melted, still sputtering from this fire started millennia ago. The massive carcass of the assassin shambled to life and the rune giant emerged from an eon-long slumber to attack the companions. "Kill! Kill! Kill him!" it would utter in Thassilonian, completely crazed. However, time must have gnawed at its powers for his giant magical katana proved little threat and the undead soon joined the other guardians of the palace in the afterlife.

A magical staircase was the only way out, and it led the Pathfinders higher up to the apex of the palace, in a room that hosted another one of the spellwell. With little attention for it, the group rushed through a final door that led them to the ultimate confrontation with First King Xin… or what was left of him…

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The final chapter

A large, glowing Sihedron rune carved around a pulsating crystal the size of a heart provided the only light for the cathedral-like chamber. With each pulsation of the crystal, electricity coursed through the walls, cycling all around the room. On the rune, a massive construct of sky metal and crystal was slowly whirred into motion by the skeleton of Xin in its central vat. The intent of the First King's remains was clear: to squash these invaders. However, their rushing through the palace to reach its apex so quickly put the old emperor at a disadvantage as the adamantine claws, the engine of abyssium and the plates of djezet were now only getting into motion. The path to the clockwork reliquary seemed open for the Pathfinder, but only for an instant as two elder crystallises, similar to the guardians they had fought before in the noqual vault, emerged from the walls to block the way forward. At the same time, clouds of runes appeared out of thin air and soon coalesced in the elf-like shapes of Xin's chamberlains. The apex of Xin's palace exploded with violence.

Nasim was the quickest to react. He conjured a wall of force to split the enemies' forces, blocking one of the crystallises and two of the axiomites in one half of the room. That proved little more than a temporary setback for them as the axiomites immediately flew above the wall of magic, and the crystallis burrows into the floor to reappear on the other side. In the meantime, Nasim also quickened his spell casting to unleash a shocking grasp on the other earth elemental. Laslo pounced forward, impervious to Xin's guardians and lashed at the construct with claws and bite, leaving nasty gashes on the construct's armored plates. Tiny machine swiftly activated themselves on the clockwork reliquary to repair the damage. Abandoning all pretense at defense, Draco followed in the beastmorph's footsteps, hurling his stone in a charge he concluded with his greataxe. Leaving by a crystallis was a mistake, though, for the elemental used the opening to sunder the barbarian's magical greataxe in two powerful claw strikes. The potent greataxe that had accompanied Draco for so long, since my agents' foray in the Deepmar mine, was now nothing else but shards! At the same time, the other crystallis breathed a paralytic cloud of fumes on Nasim and Draco, but their strong constitution allowed them to resisted the fumes' mephitic powers.

Xin's chamberlains offered all the support they could muster to their master: one hasted his (her?) companions, another one attempted to stop Laslo by holding him (but the Ustalavian resisted the spell), and the last one whirled around to flank Draco with the clockwork reliquary, which was now moving into position for a powerful attack on the unarmed barbarian. Before he could do so, though, the Asmodean called on the powers of her Dark Prince to blast her enemies with hellish fires. Draco and Laslo were so frantic, evaluating their low chances of survival in front of Xin that they both screamed for the cleric to target them so the blast would engulf the construct, but she had none of it and kept a cool head. Instead, she methodically engulfed the two crystallises and two of the axiomites with one, then a second fireball of such potency that one of the elementals litteraly exploded. The other one was badly hurt. The axiomites, on the other hand, deftly evaded all damage from the evocation.

Meanwhile, the clockwork reliquary had finally awoken fully. Plates opened on its back, revealing coils pulsing with the poisonous aura of abyssium. They whirred, pulsed some more, and a sickening wave of abyssium flakes covered all nearby, weakening all the companions but the Asmodean who stood at a safer distance. As it did so, the construct propelled itself on its three legs, towering above Draco. Whatever happened, he thought himself protected by the powers of the Sihedron, but this would not last, for Xin used his telekinetic powers to wretch the artifact from above the barbarian. The Sihedron, their best defense against Xin, was now stuck safely inside the clockwork's plates! And the construct stood even taller above the unarmed Draco when it unleashed its four adamantine claws at him. They whirled and slashed… Yet the Pathfinder survived the assault because, you see, he had had the cunning of creating mirror images of himself before entering this chamber. All the images were now gone, but only one of Xin's claws had hit him. But what a hit. In a single swing of that claw, the clockwork reliquary had almost gutted the puny human in front of it. If Draco still stood, it was only due to his barbarian heritage. His entrails were slowly sliding from his belly and he coughed blood, but he still stood, ready to give his life for his companions.

As he saw the power of the clockwork's adamantine claws, Nasim got scared and decided to focus on the guardians. He knew he would not have lived through the onslaught Draco had just survived. A magical hand interposed itself between the First Xin and the Qadiran while he focussed on the remaining crystallis. Dancing around the elemental, he weaved a shocking grasp in his dervish dance and his multiple scimitar strikes hacked the guardian to oblivion. Also realizing he would not survive the attention of the clockwork reliquary, Laslo tumbled out of its reach. He was usually so acrobatic that tumbling away from a threat rarely caused any difficulty, but the construct was oh so very close to slicing through his flesh that the Ustalavian was even more glad to have left Draco alone to face the might of the First King.

The barbarian knew he was doom, so he did what he did best: bash at the enemy until it fell. His greataxe shattered, he promptly grabbed the magical halberd the Pathfinders had found earlier in the vaults. His first hit ripped off the metallic plates of the clockwork reliquary, the second one too, but not the third. The halberd drew a large arc in the air and struck the construct at a weak joint. All saw it shudder under the attack, its legs swept under it. Draco had significantly weakened the clockwork reliquary and it was also now prone on the ground. The barbarian, calm in his rage, turned to the Asmodean and uttered a single sentence: "Heal me so I can help you again," before his fury abandoned him and he collapsed on the ground, dead, once again. His companions were shocked at him committing suicide instead of bitterly standing until the last second. They would eventually figure out that the barbarian had hoped the cleric would be able to breath life into him before his soul departed and that him dying this way would make it easier. But this was at best a long shot and Viv was anyway too busy dealing with the situation to have time for this.

With the biggest threat to Xin down, the axiomites attacked Nasim, but to little effect, while the Asmodean focussed on the clockwork reliquary. She unleashed her most powerful magic on him in an attempt to disintegrate it and it is only through drawing from all the powers she could muster that the spell bypassed Xin's wards. Yet the construct was still sturdy and the spell did not produce the intended consequences. The following intensified fireball, empowered by Asmodeus to maximize its damage was another story and the construct shuddered as the fiery blow impacted. Despite the small machines' continuous effort at repairing the damage done to the clockwork reliquary, it was clear that they were unable to keep up. Plates of metal were starting to fall from the construct and it whirred with an increasingly laborious noise. Sensing the danger, Xin's remains inside the machine incanted a powerful spell to repel all who dared come closer. With no enemy nearby, it took the necessary few seconds to stand up again on its three legs and quickly attempted to wrench Nasim's scimitar from his hands, only to have one of the Qadiran's mirror images disappear. In retaliation, the dervish dancer, strong willed, dashed forward despite the repulsion effect, electricity coursing through his scimitar. He fenced, lunged, twirled, circled, pirouetted, striking left, right, center. Even though his magic fizzled against the noqual plates of the construct, his physical blows wreaked havoc on its machinery.

More and more, the mechanical host of mighty King Xin stumbled, weakened by the Pathfinders' assaults. Its repairing machines could not undo the damage that the companions had already dealt. Mindless, they carried on their efforts, but they were doomed to fail. Laslo, now invisible against the wall, had been waiting for an opportune moment as he stood out of reach of the clockwork's claws. He waited for an opening to pounce the construct artifact. There it was. The Ustalavian focussed all his will to overcome the repulsion aura. And he pounced as Nasim distracted the enemy. One claw ripped on the sky metal plates; the other snuck inside cogs and cables, cutting, slicing, carving, lacerating. The clockwork reliquary thrashed, attempted to avoid the vivisectionist, but the tiefling held tight and concluded with a bite, his fangs penetrating deep inside the arcane and oily mechanisms of the mighty construct. It shuddered one last time and First King Xin finally died, more than ten thousand years after he had been killed by his minions.

In retaliation, the axiomites of Xin abandoned all pretense at sanity and unleashed on Nasim. If he withstood the assault, it stung, so the Asmodean concluded the search for the Sihedron by blasting the outsiders into nothingness. Engulfed in a stormbolt, they disappeared to leave the apex silent, but for the electricity that coursed through the walls from the crystalline heart of the palace. Already, it was failing. Cracks appeared in the walls, the floor, and the ceiling. Large chunks of obsidian threatened to collapse on the Pathfinders at any second.

Oil and metallic fluids completely covered Laslo; for Nasim, it was blood. Draco lied dead on the ground and the Asmodean's teleportation magic would still not work inside these walls. The cracks widened and a ray of hope emerged through. The setting sun's light cast its warming beams. Before the whole palace collapsed on them, the Pathfinders retrieved the Sihedron from the clockwork reliquary and flew through the crack into the salty air outside. Xin's palace crumbled under them and, soon, it was but another ruin among this new island that had risen from the sea.

And so ends this volume of the Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar. The Shards of the Shattered Star were found by our best, the heroes of Magnimar; the Sihedron was reforged. This threatened the City of Monuments and parts of Varisia, but we are now armed with a weapon like no other, a weapon we could never have dreamed of wielding. The artifact is secured in the vault of the Heidmarch Manor, in Magnimar. The heroes have now gone separate ways: the Asmodean accepted the invitation to represent her god in the newly rebuilt Windsong Abbey; Laslo followed her and would benefit from the quiet environs to write his anatomical discoveries and research; Nasim traveled back to his land to finally deal with his father who wanted him dead, eventually becoming an advisor to the Emperor-Padisha. Only Draco stayed in Magnimar, opening a forge there and he is always celebrated as one of the heroes of the city. Yet, they all promised they would come back to us if Varisia was ever in need of the Sihedron.

Let us all hope this will never come to pass…

(The PCs ended the campaign at level 17.)

Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 165 (the clockwork reliquary achieving a critical hit on Draco, with one of its adamantium claw).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 31 (a mezlan sizzling Viv with a chain lightning).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 99 (Draco, hitting the clockwork critically with the +2 keen halberd he had found minutes earlier).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 144 (Viv, obliterating the last two axiomites with a stormbolt).

Death: Draco (-40, badly timing the end of his rage when, half dead, he was facing the clockwork reliquary).

And this marks the end of our Shattered Star campaign. In two days, we are giving Way of the Wicked a try. Although it's not as polished as Paizo's APs, there's potential for very enjoyable games in the Fire Mountain Games AP. And (mainly) playing the "good guys" will be a nice change for me. ;)

I think it's safe to say that this campaign had a clear winner:

Death: a confused Draco (-24) hacked by an incubus and a confused Oriana

Death: Draco (-24) sizzled by the conjunction of three sea drakes' balls of lightning, falling unconscious, and die to the end of his rage and his aegis of recovery not healing him enough.

Death: Draco (-31) pummeled to death by wave after wave of Groetan mummies.

Death: Draco (-30) as he left rage in an attempt to get healed by Viv.

Death: Draco (-90) ripped apart by Skullcracker, Jubbek's smilodon, after Draco had killed his master.

Death: Draco (-86), sizzled a bolt of Cadrilkasta's storm breath.

Death: Draco (-40), badly timing the end of his rage when, half dead, he was facing the clockwork reliquary.

The fellow had lives like a regenerating Time Lord.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Congratulations on completing your campaign. I enjoyed reading your journals. So, Way of the Wicked next? I hope you have fun with that one as well. If you decide to write a journal about that campaign too, I will be happy to read it.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Kyrademon wrote:

I think it's safe to say that this campaign had a clear winner:

Death: a confused Draco (-24) hacked by an incubus and a confused Oriana
Death: Draco (-24) sizzled by the conjunction of three sea drakes' balls of lightning, falling unconscious, and die to the end of his rage and his aegis of recovery not healing him enough.
Death: Draco (-31) pummeled to death by wave after wave of Groetan mummies.
Death: Draco (-30) as he left rage in an attempt to get healed by Viv.
Death: Draco (-90) ripped apart by Skullcracker, Jubbek's smilodon, after Draco had killed his master.
Death: Draco (-86), sizzled a bolt of Cadrilkasta's storm breath.
Death: Draco (-40), badly timing the end of his rage when, half dead, he was facing the clockwork reliquary.
The fellow had lives like a regenerating Time Lord.

Well, yeah, when you play a barbarian, you play to win this game. ;)

So what's the final death tally? Viv 1, Laslo 1, Draco 7, and Nasim 0?

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
MrVergee wrote:
Congratulations on completing your campaign. I enjoyed reading your journals. So, Way of the Wicked next? I hope you have fun with that one as well. If you decide to write a journal about that campaign too, I will be happy to read it.

Thanks! I'm planning on starting a new journal for Way of the Wicked. I'll post a link here when I start it.

Writing these journals is a lot of work, but it's the only way to keep a reasonably accurate trace of the campaign. It's always fun to reread them years down the road and remember the fun that was had…

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