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Two weeks after wrapping up our Kingmaker campaign, our group has started Shattered Star in what will hopefully as fun a campaign to play (and GM for me).
The roll call is:
- Draco Don Zerba, fomer blacksmith from the Fenwall Mountains, male human barbarian (invulnerable rager) 1
- Laslo Grigorovich Budynek, misunderstood anatomist, in "sabbatical" from his home country of Ustalav, male tiefling alchemist (beastmorph, vivisectionist) 1
- Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim, hunted soul hailing from the far lands of Qadira, male tiefling magus 1
- Viveltre Vanderale, troubled daughter of one of the noble Magnimarian families, female aasimar cleric (theologian) of Asmodeus 1
Between the tieflings with tail and maw, or tail and claws, and the butterfly winged aasimar, the group's adventures should be most interesting!
What follows is Volume 7 of the Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, written by Sheyla Heidmarch…
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter I
(Should I be judged, I wish to be judged on facts, and not hearsay. This is the account of the discovery of the Shattered Star as it was recounted to me by my agents…)
Lamashan 3, 4712 AR
The new recruits are promising. I sent them today on the traces of Natalya Vakaskerkin, one of our infiltrated agents among the Sczarni. Before she disappeared, Natalya had forwarded a message to me, stating that the group she belongs (belonged?) to was securing an artifact that I suspect to be of Thassilonian origin. And then she disappeared.
Viveltre Vanderale seemed quite happy to be here and focus on other matters than the recent issues with her family. Her butterfly wings look prettier and prettier as she transforms from the girl she was into the woman she now is, and her celestial blood enhances her beauty even further. I’m still troubled that she wears a symbol of Asmodeus so openly, but if she finds solace in her faith, who am I to judge her?
Her new companions are quite her opposite. I certainly do wish that they will all get along well, despite their stark differences. I had no other choice but to assign two tieflings to this group, rather similar in nature carrying the obvious signs of their devilish ancestors. Their human origin, though, is quite distinct. Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim hails from the distant land of Qadira and his knowledge of Thassilon should be precious. His mastery over the blade and the arcane should also come in handy when his knowledge fails him. I heard he fled Qadira, and then Absalom where he was studying in quite a rush. I hope his problems won’t follow him here. Laslo Grigorovich Budynek is another troubled soul, or so it seems, his “sabbatical” from Ustalav must hide a more troubling problem. His thick accent certainly marks him as an outsider, probably as much as his devil tail, horns and claws, but Magnimar has it in his blood to welcome strangers from other lands. I hope that’s what he will find here. His alchemical knowledge, and mastery of the living’s anatomy should be found useful before long.
The gruff Draco Don Zerba rounds up this merry band. He sure does look more like one of those Shoanti tribesmen than a blacksmith. I wish his brawn won’t be needed, but I won’t delude myself either, and I know he should be a good match to the other three.
As I still had more to discuss with Koriah about the repercussions of her foray into the Darklands below Varisia, the new route down to Nar-Voth from the Fogscar Mountains, as well as the numerous objects of Thassilonian make she brought back with her, I decided to test the recruits. I asked them to find a way to open the paradox box Koriah had found, expecting it was empty. The new agents got to it right away, quickly finding the rune-words on one side of the box, and realizing that they could be switched from the word CRUEL to any anagram. With their first try, LUCRE, the box already burst open, disgorging two pugwampis into the room!
To my satisfaction, they fairly swiftly dealt with the unexpected gremlin pests. Although the library was damaged by the sudden outburst of violence, when Koriah and I errupted into the room, Viveltre was already mending most of the damage. Despite my anger, aimed at myself more than anyone else for my oversight, I was quite satisfied at the resources of my new recruits. I presented them with the problem at hand: Natalya Vankaskerkin, who was working as a Pathfinder spy in a Sczarni gang, had suddenly disappeared after reporting her group was about to “retrieve” what was likely a Thassilonian relic. I couldn’t tell the agents much more than the name of the middle man who was conveying informations between Natalya and the Pathfinder, an old Varisian called the Amazing Zograthy. I didn’t fail to mention the worrying rumors of many people disappearing in the shady neighbourhoods of the City of Monuments, likely sold to Nidalese slavers, or so the rumors said. Of course, there was always the option of talking to the night guard about Natalya, ineffective as this option usually is.
The agents dutifully followed these leads, discretely as I had asked. Their first foray into the town taverns didn’t tell them much about Natalya or the group she belonged to, so they headed to Washer’s Row and the Amazing Zograthy’s tent. Although their non-human faces didn’t present well in the Varisian neighborhood, the recruits’ discussion with the Amazing Zograthy was cordial enough if a bit tense. A few veiled threats didn’t prove much more efficient than money, but their disappointment was great when they only learnt that it appeared Natalya had gone mad before disappearing, and that her former gang members were actively looking for her. Also, they again learned about the rumors of Nidalese slavers, who seemed particularly prominent among the poor people, according to the Amazing Zograthy. Lacking other avenues of investigation, the group spent the rest of the afternoon trailing this rumor. To their surprise, they learnt fairly easily that their was supposed to be a pick-up of slaves by the Nidalese slavers this very night, at the derelict tavern “the Puffy Pelican” on the Docks.
They headed for the tavern an hour before midnight, expected time of the expected pick up. A single light inside the building betrayed some activity, but nothing stirred, even as they entered the former tavern to investigate further… When suddenly magical light engulfed Nasim, turning him almost blind. A now visible sorcerer, previously hidden by magic, had ambushed the group! Despite the frail constitution of the magic-wielder, he proved a difficult adversary to the group and, by the time Viv’ and Nasim subdued him, both of their companion were rendered unconscious by dancing lights. After questioning, it turned out that the man was a lunatic who had planted the rumors. In his twisted mind, he had thought that capturing a group of Pathfinders ("the only do-gooders stupid enough to fall into [his] trap”) would open to doors of the Aspis Consortium to him.
Lamashan 4, 4712 AR
The agents brought the man back to the manor for questioning. Despite the late time, I was still working and recognized Plutivarch Dremis, a man wanted by the city guard. He was otherwise of very little use to us and I told the group that they should head to the Arvensoar tomorrow, and collect the bounty. It would be payment for the dangers of their investigations. As they did so the next morning, they took the opportunity of their collecting the 100-gp bounty to ask Officer Kasadei about Natalya’s disappearance. She didn’t know much about the girl, but she did mention that she had previously been seen running with the Sczarni gang “the Tower Girls.” These, after a fall out with another more powerful gang, had relocated and, at least for a while, shared a warehouse Underbridge with a rather repulsive man called Fenster the Blight, the agent’s next lead.
In an unrelated note, Officer Kasadei mentioned that although the rumors of abductions by Nidalese slavers were bogus, she did worry, however, about the regular disappearance of artisans, merchants, or commoners. But since these people did reappear, amnesiac, days to weeks later, it was impossible for the City Guard to do much. With their apparent efficiency at recovering bounties, Kasadei mentioned to my agents that Lord-Mayor Groboras himself was bothered by the disappearances and had issued a 1,000-gp reward for whoever would solve this mystery. This worries me, but let us hope that this is not what happened to Natalya, lest she has forgotten all about the artefact and we lose its trace.
Under the darkly shadows of the Irenspan where midday sun provides no illumination, they found Fenster the Blight’s dilapidated warehouse. The man himself was in no better shape than the building but a small gold offering made him very useful indeed and he could tell my recruits that Natalya had apparently holed up in a boarded house at the edge of Underbridge. Whether that information turn out to be entirely useful remains to be seen, but it is certainly the most promising lead found so far.
This unrevealing boarded house certainly didn’t look like much. However, maybe a token of their being on the right track, the agents were accosted by a couple of Varisian thugs before they could reach the door. They erupted from a side shack and immediately showed themselves to be much more violent than your typical thug. My agents do not take threats lightly, though, and a brutal violent combat quickly broke out in the dark alley. Once they had upset Draco, though, it quickly ended with two dead Varisian, both crunched by the blacksmith’s lucern hammer. An impressive sight, I am told.
XP: 1,050 XP/PC (level 1)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter II
Lamashan 4, 4712 AR (continued)
To everyone's surprise, the boarded house's main door was not locked and it opened into a small room, its floor having long ago collapsed to reveal a pool of sewage oozing refuse five feet below. A wooden plank led to another door on the opposite side of the cesspool, and two narrow conduits were slowly dripping dark waters into the room. After a moment of puzzlement and reflection, Nasim was the first one to decide to cross on the narrow, slippery plank but, as he did so, three sewer goblins, pests of the Magnimarian underground, emerged from the conduits and started clumsily pummelling my agents with filth. That proved inefficient, as was a goblin's attempts at toppling the plank with the leftovers of a broom. The sewer goblins were quickly dispatched, with only Draco slipping and going for a swim in the filth.
The ambush in the next room was more difficult to overcome for my recruits. Inexperienced as they were at the time, they couldn't reach the two crossbow-wielding goblins behind a barricade of crates, beyond another cesspool. It took Laslo's very bold move (after he had been severely wounded), climbing onto the open ceiling's burnt rafters, avoiding the collapse of weakened beams, and consciously crashing on the little pests to prevent them from using their crossbow. What the tiefling didn't anticipate, though, was that the goblin he didn't crush under his weight would be able to wound him to unconsciousness, and that the two stirges he had disturbed in the rafters soon joined the fight. But Laslo's distraction combined with the companions' team work was enough to swiftly eliminate all threats through the use of both brawn, magic, and cunning.
After reviving Laslo, the group proceeded into the last room, with its floor still missing, and a chimney whose conduit had been removed at the ceiling height, producing a small snug chamber with a floor of discarded wooden planks, covered in rubbish and other detritus. There was Natalya! An obviously very insane Natalya, however, yelling at her two goblin minions in the rafters to shoot at my agents, and screaming at them that never would they stymie her master plans of domination. The quickest to react, Draco dashed on the ladder and climbed in to the small chamber, hampering Natalya's planned spell-casting. The two goblins were no threat at all, and, before long, my former informant was grappled, pinned, and tied up in ropes. Wounded as well, as she apparently resisted too much before her capture for Nasim's liking. To everyone's surprise, a sneaky goblin snake erupted from the sewage pool as soon as Natalya was incapacitated and tried to steal some coppery piece of metal attached to Natalya's belt. The creature was only able to try once before it was chopped by my annoyed agent, who didn't enjoy the disturbance.
Being a prisoner didn't prevent poor Natalya from yelling at my agents. That earned her to be gagged, and it is in a much more quiet environment that the Pathfinders searched the premises, retrieving the Thassilonian artifact I had sent them to find (the shard of metal the goblin snake had tried to steal), in addition to some more mundane items that would round up their reward. All things considered, Desna smiled on us all as the cursed artifact was picked up by the already proud and sometimes domineering Viveltre. The curse had little influence on her over the time it took them to bring me the artifact back and I could counter its perverting magic.
The PCs move to level 2
The ambush awaiting my agents outside the building turned out to have much more dire consequences… Little did my agents know that Terisha Skiloni, one of the Tower Girls, accompanied by a couple of Varisian thugs had been surveying Natalya's hideout and now awaited them outside. To make matters worse, as soon as Terisha saw that her former fellow gang member still lived, she yelled: "Natalya is still alive, kill her before they can flee with her! Protect the gang!" The two Varisian thugs were no match for Draco, Laslo, and Nasim, but, despite even Viv's best effort at protecting the unfortunately still tied-up girl, the repeated assaults of the Varisians eventually proved too difficult to deflect and, with a sneaky feint, Terisha slit Natalya's throat.
Her deed done, the acrobatic Tower Girl successfully climbed onto the house's roof. Flabbergasted at their prisoner's death, shock quickly turned to anger and Draco, the only one strong enough to follow her onto the roof, rushed after her and eventually knocked her out. Seething with rage, he was very close to simply kill the girl without any due process. His companions' screams however convinced him to take the assassin alive and question her back at the manor.
Truly shocked was I, at the manor, when the Pathfinders showed me the Shard of the Shattered Star. I must admit that, at the time, I didn't care much about Natalya's demise in front of the mighty artifact she had allowed us to find. Even now, her death is a very small price to pay for the recovery of such an item of legends. Imagine how well prepared Varisia would be with such a powerful object to defend her? We could stop fearing the rise of the runelords from their millennia-old slumber! For if Karzoug woke up from his sleep after so long, who can affirm that no other runelord of old will plague our times and threaten to enslave, or worse, destroy, these lands we have come to love?
I explained to my recruits that they had found the Shard of Pride, one of the seven pieces of the Sihedron forged by Xin, the first king of Thassilon, himself. I also showed them how specific ioun stones could remove the Shards' insidious curses. The Shard of Pride's curse could certainly explain Natalya's journey towards insanity, a reminder of how dangerous items of such power can be if discovered unprepared. But we are the Pathfinder Society, and we live for these discoveries, and to understand them. We prepare ourselves for these very moments.
In addition to its more mundane powers, every Shard is tied to the next one in a sequence (Pride, Greed, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, Wrath, and Sloth) and can be used to find the next piece of the Shattered Star. Focussing on the Shard of Pride, Viv' realized that the Shard of Greed was here in Magnimar, our lovely city itself! Desna smiles on us! It appears that the artifact's next piece is awaiting discovery in one of the pillars of the Irespan itself, in the Crow to be precise. My agents were as eager as I was to hunt for the six other pieces of the Sihedron and they agreed to start on their quest the next day, with a search of the Crow. Chambers in the Irespan's pillars are not unheard of, but they are usually simple rooms of little interest. I am keen on knowing what awaits them there!
Before they retired for a well-earned night of rest, the group interrogated Terisha Skiloni, the Tower Girl they had captured and who had assassinated Natalya. I wasn't very comfortable with their (mainly unsuccessful) threats of torturing the girl to learn why she had killed their prisoner but, Desna be blessed, it didn't come to that. It seems the Sczarni gang was scared Natalya would tell the Pathfinders all she knew about the Tower Girls, and that they couldn't let that happen. Little did they know that we really don't care about the Sczarni! This is all such a waste! In the end, an agreement was found with the girl: she would be freed and allowed to leave with her gear, but she would return a similarly large favor if my agents would ever need one. A crafty deal struck by Viv' and which could very well turn to gold in Magnimar and Varisia in general.
XP: 2,286 XP/PC (level 2)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter III
Lamashan 5, 4712 AR (continued)
After a morning spent in Magnimar, gathering the required equipment for their foray into the Crow, my latest recruits used the rowboat I had placed at their disposal to reach the remote pillar of the Irespan, rising above the ocean, half a mile from Magnimar's harbor. There, they find a flooded alcove which already hosted three boats. They were not alone in the Crow. Further signs of a presence were evident beyond a wall that has been shattered to reveal a series of rooms inside the pillar. These contained little of interest and the Pathfinders climbed up a set of stairs that raised for more than 150 feet into the heart of the pillar.
To their amazement, the stairs did not reach the top of the monument, but a simple landing much higher up, still inside the building. Beyond the landing waited an incredible surprise: protected by the cover of overturned tables, two Tower Girls waited with Terisha Skiloni, their crossbows at the ready, clearly intended on protecting their home from any intrusion! A tense conversation was engaged, the Tower Girls wishing the Pathfinders gone, and the Pathfinders wanting to proceed further into the Crow. Only my agents' deal with Terisha prevented the Sczarni gang from opening hostilities and, after a few difficult moment, Viveltre's threats of the unfathomable ancient Thassilonian dangers awaiting the Tower Girls in the Crow troubled Terisha enough that she agreed to call for the gang's leader, Ayala.
Still under the threats of the remaining two Tower Girls' crossbows, a few nerve-wracking moments passed before Ayala who, to the Pathfinders' surprise, turned out to be wererat, appeared in the midst of a cohort of at least a dozen of Tower Girls, mainly human, but accompanied by a couple of other wererats, and quite a few donkey rats. The odds were now clearly in favor of the Sczarni gang, but Viv's golden tongue worked miracle and she stroke a deal with the gang leader. A deal that was only begrudgingly accepted by her fellow Pathfinders: if the agents could show their archeological talents, they would be allowed to explore the parts of the Crow the Tower Girls hadn't yet explored. In exchange, the Sczarni would keep a share of a third of the monetary values of all my agents would find. This share would even turn to two fifth if the Pathfinders ever needed to pass through the Tower Girls' den for forays into Magnimar before the end of their exploration, much to Nasim's and Draco's groaning and threats. That was, of course, if they were able to prove their worth and open a Thassilonian door, made of saccitite, which had so far stymied the Tower Girls' progress. Blindfolded, my agents were brought to this set of double doors, a level down in the Crow.
The doors proved no barrier to my Pathfinders, though, as they happened to be secured by a mechanism similar to that of the paradox box they had so easily opened at the manor a couple of days before. Even the siccatite's fire as they touched the doors was no threat for the fire resistant devil-spawns Nasim and Laslo. That sure troubled the Sczarni!
Beyond the saccatite doors, my Pathfinders entered an old, dusty corridor, first of what would be a long series of forgotten locales they would come to explore in the search for the Shards of Sin. The corridor soon led to stairs leading further down into the Crow. There a small crack in the wall led them to a web-covered room opening onto a shaft. Two giant water spiders ambushed them in this room, the first of many a vermin infesting many a dark cavern they would survey. Despite their surprise, the group dealt with the spiders and even though they were bitten a few times they resist the spider's poison, their most dangerous threat. Apart from the shaft opening onto the sea with the promise of an alternate route out of the Crow, this cave was of no interest.
Deeper into the long-forgotten corridors, the Pathfinders discovered an ancient bath, populated by a couple of giant amoebas who didn't take kindly to the disturbance. They were no match for Draco's hammer, though. As this fight raged on, my agents scared a lonely mite who had been standing guard on a set of stairs delving deeper down into the Crow. The blue pest rushed down, screaming. So much for stealth and surprise! Instead of rushing after the fey, the group decided to thoroughly search this level so as not to leave threats behind them. In doing so, they disturbed a swarm of bats. If the giant spiders or amoebas were no threat, it wasn't the case for the swarm given how little my recruits could do against it! Only Viv could damage the swarm by calling forward the fires of Hell. Both Draco and Nasim had no other option than to play bait while the cleric of Asmodeus slowly, but surely, dispersed the bat swarm. In addition to this humbling lesson, the group discovered a window to the outside world, overlooking the ocean, hidden from outside by an illusory wall. Maybe the Crow wasn't completely closed after all and maybe it wouldn't be necessary to go back to the Tower Girls's den to leave the Thassilonian building…
Cautiously, the group decided to proceed further, down the stairs the mite had fled through. After a long corridor, the Pathfinders reached a room hosting six incongruous earth and stone mounds. What these were became readily obvious as one, two, three, four, and now five giant ants consecutively emerged from the mounds to defend their den! The Pathfinders were lucky the ants did not emerge all at once as they proved quite resilient, and their bites quite painful. But the Pathfinders prevailed and, after the fifth bug died, no other monstrosity followed. What sure troubled my agents was the size of every single beast in these Thassilonian dungeons. Exploring the room, Laslo found that one of the mounds, erected next to a wall, hid a small crack in the southern wall. Obvious mite tracks let to it. At the same time, Nasim found that one of the many (empty) alcoves that decorates the walls hid a secret door that opened on a wide set of shallow stairs.
Not very keen on squeezing in a corridor potentially full of mites, the Pathfinders left behind the obvious exit to the room and the small crack in the wall to advanced through the secret door. The cave it led to was roughly octagonal in shape and shrouded in thick sheets of tangled webbings. Despite the spider ambush they had fallen for less than an hour ago, my recruits again fell prey to another giant spider, this time a gigantic black widow spider, the size of a large horse! This combat was epic and let quite a few marks on the Pathfinders as they battled the ridiculously large vermin whose bite could have skewered a boar. Luckily, my agents were more agile and better protected than boars and, although both Draco and Laslo came very close to falling unconscious from the pain of torn muscles and flesh, the group's combined effort allowed them to prevail. Nasim, wielding steel and magic through spellstrike in the same assault through struck the final blow, leaving only the Pathfinders' panting breaths echoing through the cave. That, and the regular sound of distant picks hitting rock…
Largest amount of damage taken: 12 from a giant black widow spider on Draco.
Largest amount of damage dealt: 16 from Draco on a giant black widow spider.
XP: 4,636 XP/PC (level 2)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter IV
Lamashan 5, 4712 AR (continued)
Leaving to the side the rough corridor from which drifted the sound of picking and hammering, the Pathfinders proceeded ahead through a few steps leading them to a larger room. An alcove in the wall away from the entrance displayed the most incongruous sight: a mite, maybe slightly larger than your usual mite, sat in an overturned ogre skull, exuding a clear sense of self-importance, and made ridiculous by the single bracer propped up on the mite's head in a parody of a crown. My agents could do nothing else than seize the absurd situation before the mite, presenting itself as King Zuuga, asked if the Pathfinders were the heroes it had sent for. Cunningly playing along, the group learned that this "king" offered a diamond the size of its head as a reward if they were to recover its pet Clickylegs that had his spare crown. More curious than anything, they accepted, nevertheless wondering what this pet could be. A spider maybe? But the king said it had pincers in addition to its many legs. A scorpion, then? They would know soon enough.
Leaving this room and its crazy king, my agents explored one of the two recently carved corridors that left the giant black widow's room. Although hidden my a secret door, that one was of such poor engineering quality that it had of secret only the name. Emerging in a tiled corridor, the Pathfinders proceeded further south to a set of shallow stairs which led to a much larger space: the obvious den of the mites, hosting no less than nine of the blue feys, two of them riding more giant spiders. Diplomacy failed, here, and the mites frantically defended their home against my agents' intrusion. The fight was short, though, as the mites fled chaotically as soon as the two giant spiders fell to the defensive strikes of my Pathfinders. That left only one terrified mite in a corner of the room. Focussing very hard on being the least frightening he could, Laslo (the only one who spoke Undercommon), explained in the simplest terms he could muster that the Pathfinders were no enemies of the mites, and that they had been send by the mites' king to recover its pet. Although the mite didn't react much to that fact, it understood it would be better off helping these invaders and agreed to run after its fleeing companions to convince them to leave the Pathfinders alone. It fled through the spiral staircase plunging even deeper under the Crow.
The only room left unexplored at this level hosted half a dozen mites carving a new room out of the Crow. They let the group pass unmolested (or, more accurately, weren't molested by my agents) and were left in peace.
One level down, the corridors appeared subtly different, tiled in an altered manner compared to the previous levels of the Crow. Two corridors opened from the stairs' landing: one heading south which was covered in webbings; one heading west, dusty and web-less. The Pathfinders decided to head west (they'd encountered enough spiders already!) and soon turned up at the crossroad of three corridors of cell blocks, some of their iron doors blocked, others not. At the end of one of these corridors, four of the fleeing mites wrangled a giant crab spider, a scuttling hunter that does not spin webs. These mited apparently did not get the message that the group was no enemy, or simply did not care and, cornered, they frantically defended their lives and den. Somewhat confident, both Laslo and Nasim dashed forward to easily deal with the threat, leaving Viv and Draco to support them from the entrance of the corridor. But they were soon both surprised by three other giant crab spiders scampering forward from the other two cell block corridors. Defensively, Draco swallowed one of his extracts and enlarged himself into a hulking beast, too large to leave any opening through to his companions in the 10-foot wide corridor. In the end and despite a mite-induced feeling of doom creeping into Nasim's mind, neither the spiders nor the mites turned into a credible threat. A thorough exploration of the cell blocks led to no findings, neither loot, nor hidden secret passages.
Carrying on, the group reached an obvious albeit very old torture chamber. Its rotting instruments let no doubt to their original intent, and neither did the abomination hosted in one of two cells with walls of rusty iron bars. Nasim and Viv both quickly recognized the creature, now darting forward and putting all its strength on trying to destroy the rusty bars and reach my agents with its sharp claws: this was a sinspawn, creature of immemorial times when the runelords still roamed the lands that would become Varisia. The iron bars did not yield, and it is from a protective distance that Nasim acid splashed the abomination into a pile of mush.
Leaving a closed door behind them, the group followed the other exit from the room: an open corridor which led them to a small, quiet room harboring a fount of clear water. Nasim's detect magic revealed the fountain exuded an aura of conjuration magic mingled with positive energy. Boldly drinking from the pool, my agents realized that this water had the ability to cure them from their ailments. Further into the dungeons, the corridor led them to the web-covered room that hosted yet another group of giant spiders, as well as more mites. But, here, one of these was doing its best to convince the others that my agents should be left alone. That must have been the mite they had intimidated a floor above. It didn't take much convincing in front of the group's power. The mites with the spiders in tow departed for their den, one level higher, and left the Pathfinders in the empty room.
The group finally reached a kitchen that almost proved to be my recruits' undoing. No threat was obviously apparent and even when one of the old brick ovens started shaking, they simply fanned out around it, likely thinking any danger would be easily dealt with. They certainly did not expect the enormous swarm of hundreds, thousands of centipedes which erupted from the oven! Very quickly it was clear that they were overwhelmed with only Viv able to damage the crawling vermin. But even she was quickly out of spells and channelling. Swords and hammers could do nothing against the small insects but their numbers were submerging them, engulfing and poisoning the Pathfinders despite their fighting retreat. The strategy they had previously used against the bat swarm was inefficient here as playing bait is of little benefit when one cannot damage the enemy! The sticking webs of the spider's room transformed the retreat into a nightmare. Running seemed the only option, but the webs prevented them from doing so and the centipedes were crawling on the ground with more celerity than Viv could afford, encumbered that she was by her armor and shield…
But an idea started to sprout in Viv's pyromaniac mind. As Draco left his companions to rush back to the healing fount (to no effect as he had already been healed by it a few minutes ago), she desperately hurled a lit oil flasks at the centipede swarm, hoping the webbings would burst afire and destroy the vermin. Nasim, Laslo, and later Draco were back to playing bait to stop the advance of the swarm, taking damage, being poisoned. The tieflings' resistance to fire proved a valuable asset in this desperate fight as they could trod through Viv's oil induced walls of fire unhampered. Soon, the whole corridor was on fire, but the centipedes would not stay in the flames and let themselves be destroyed. Laslo eventually collapsed under the swarm's assaults and the vermin's poison paralyzed the frail theologist of Asmodeus. Things were not looking good, but the centipedes had also suffered from the relentless assaults of the Pathfinders and the battle was turning into a stalemate. When they saw an opening, my agents retreated to the fountain room with the paralyzed Viv, in Draco's arms, using the Shard of Sin to create the illusion of a great fire blocking the swarm's advance after them. The centipede, however, had taking enough damage from the fire that it did not wish to pursue its victims. Both opponents retreated to lick their wounds. That had been a close one. The most dangerous encounter so far in the Crow. The Pathfinders hadn't prevailed, but they had survived.
They barricaded themselves in one of the cells of the dungeon—where they had defeated the spiders and the mite—and rested. Refreshed, but unable to decide what time it really was now that they had been in the dungeon for quite a while, the group went on their hunt for the centipede swarm.
The PCs move to level 3
Lamashan 6, 4712 AR
They did not find it, but entered a large cave, a former room of the complex where the famed Thassilonian preservative magic was clearly failing. Apart from the statue of a beautiful woman wielding a ranseur (Alaznist, rune lord of Wrath), this was were Clickylegs dwelt, a giant cave fisher who, impervious to my agents kind attitude attacked them. Although they were at first uncertain on the tatics to use so they wouldn't kill the giant creature, once they set their minds to it, the fight was over quickly and it is a bound, unconscious Clickylegs that the Pathfinders brought back to King Zuuga with its leather bag.
To my agents' astonishment, the large mite was not well disposed towards them and screamed for his (invisible) executioner squad to destroy these enemies of the mites. After a moment of utter surprise, my Pathfinders reacted quickly with both Laslo and Nasim diving on the evil fey, Draco staying behind in case this executioner squad really existed and became a threat, and Viv supporting the tielfings' assault from behind, throwing all she could at the king: bolts of fire or a club. Although a king, the mite was still just that, a mite, and Nasim's furious assault of rapier and electricity litteraly exploded the mite with his shocking grasp like it would have an overripe pumpkin. Furious that a contract had not been respected, Viv killed the unconscious Clickylegs and thoroughly looted the room. The companions realized that the king's "crowns" were in fact rather powerful bracers of armor.
Still no sign of the Shard of Greed, so they headed back down to hunt for the artifact, as well as the centipede swarm. Investigating a storeroom next to the kitchen, they disturbed a group of six skeletons which were trivially dealt with, Viv calling on the fiery powers of Hell to destroy half of them in a single burning hands whilst her three companions demolished the other three with hammer and claws. The skeletons' broken scimitars certainly got Nasim's attention, now that he had mastered the Qadrian Dervish Dance.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 10 (a centipede swarm on Draco).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 5 (flaming oil on Draco).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 20 (Draco on a giant crab spider).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 14 (Nasim with a shocking grasp on King Zuuga).
Unconscious: Laslo (-1), engulfed by the centipede swarm.
XP:6,122 XP/PC (level 3)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter V
Lamashan 6, 4712 AR (continued)
The skeletons' remnants scattered on the ground, the group carried on with their exploration of the millennia-old Thassilonian kitchen, hoping to track down the centipede swarm that had been such a danger on the previous day. And find it they did, in a small storeroom, bursting from it as soon as they opened the inconspicuous door. This time, the swarm was little threat to the well-prepared Pathfinders.
Although my agents were disappointed at the lack of treasures in the levels they had already explored, they still pushed forward, deeper into the bowels of the earth. By then it was unclear whether they were only below the Magnimar bay's sea level, or whether they had now delved even deeper under the sea floor. The flight of stairs and the corridors led the group to an octogonal room hosting a striking red statue of Alaznist, the runelord of wrath… and a maggot-like abomination that was thriving in its own pus, spraying maggots around. The abyssal larva didn't pause to puke a putrid flow of vermin on the poor Draco who, on the verge of nausea staggered into the room to face the threat. Nasim quickly followed, lacing magic with scimitar assaults in a deadly twirling dance. Electricity cracked in the room. Laslo's and Draco's additional, combined assaults added to Viv's ranged support, were the plight of the abomination which disolved into more disgusting humors.
The inspection of the statue confirmed its quality, as well as that of its ranseur which quickly found its way to Draco's backpack. Out of three doors, the eastern one led the Pathfinders to a room hosting a couple of nupperibos, these pathetic, lowly devils, toys to other devils (even to lemures!), lacking freewill, and that were no match for Draco's and Laslo's weapons. Nasim, hampered by his heavy equipment, didn't even get the time to reach the devils whilst they lived. What were these devils doing there?! Deciding not to head down a set of stairs---the only exit out of the room---the group retreated back to the statue's room and voted for the westward door.
There, they reached a puzzling circle of protection against law in which burned a single flame, mid-air and with no source of fuel. Viv's discomfort at being so close to the magic circle was only balanced by her fascination for the beautiful flame. Not interested in the poetic ramifications of its presence, Laslo was the first one to cross the magic circle's boundary. Reacting to this intrusion, two smaller flames decoupled from the main one and attacked him. These were two fire elementals! Slashing his claws at the outsiders, Laslo fought bravely, impervious to the fire whilst his clothes burned. He was soon joined by Draco, never the last one to join a fight, and Nasim who did his best to help from outside the circle. Viv, very uncomfortable at the idea of attacking fire, expectantly stayed in the back. The fight was soon over, despite a few burns. The study of the flame revealed it was coming from a pinhole between the Material Plane and the Plane of Fire, its purpose lost to the contemporary explorers, but its sheer presence a testimony to the Thassilonian wizards power! But why was there a magic circle against law carved in the ground? To block the devils? To block some other threat?… At least it was, in itself, no threat; just a mere discomfort as Nasim and Viv crossed it.
The first door in the following corridor led to a room whose only exit was covered by a rusted mesh of steel chains and whose walls were covered by charcoal scribblings written in Infernal, repeatedly claiming the place as the "domain of the Suzerain of Little Erebus." But there was no time to ponder their meaning as the two inhabitants of the room, two lemures, lumbered forwards, disembodied moans echoing from their deformed mouths. Despite a few accurate claw gashes, the pathetic devils were, once again, no match to the Pathfinders. Things took an unexpected turn as soon as the lemures collapsed: a high pitched voice excitedly announced that my agents had passed the "first test" and that the Suzerain of Little Erebus would offer them riches and part of his domain if they were to rescue two of his lemures, captured by his hated enemy, Lord Baz, and if they were to kill him/it in his/its lair to the east. The only proof of riches the group could convince the voice to exhibit was the sound of coins. Deciding not to argue with the voice (that of an imp later ventured Viv?), the Pathfinders accepted the deal and continued with their exploration.
In the remnants of an alchemical lab, likely used in the past by the Thassilonians for their flesh-warping magic, two more lemures were quickly fell by the group. These were knocked out, however, hoping they could be the ones the Suzerain was looking for (unlikely) and, if not, that they could be used for the deal. None of the alchemical equipment proved worthwhile, to the disappointment of the group's alchemists. The storeroom explored next hosted a clockwork servant, a robotic construct, which obviously needed to be wound up to be of any use. But there was no sign of any key which could be used for this task.
The group's endeavors led them to a gigantic room, quite obviously set up as a comprehensive laboratory in times past. Sadly, no useful equipment could be salvaged after so many eons. The only thing of interest was the striking, expansive mural showing armies of deformed monsters and demons gathering on the shores of what was obviously the Hollow Mountain, lair of the runelord Alaznist. More worrying, below the mountain itself carved into the features of the runelord, in a gigantic complex of caves and caverns wriggled an immense monstrosity of tentacles, its angry red eye glaring, even through the millennia between the times of the Thassilonian empire when the mural was carved and the present Varisa.
My Pathfinders dutifully sketched a copy of the mural and, in the meantime, the two alchemists (Laslo and Draco) reprepared themselves and their mutagens before the group delved deeper into the dungeon. There, the tiled floors and walls became rougher caverns and natural caves. Puddles covered the floor and Laslo collapsed into one of them after trying to jump over it. But they weren't deep or dangerous, simply full of stagnating water. The massive skeleton of a bullete proved similarly safe and despite its ominous present it didn't move. My agents were so focused on these potential threat that they did not notice the gray ooze lairing in the cave. It proved to be a significant danger as it wrapped itself around Laslo and started to digest him. Its embrace was too tough for Laslo to escape and his companions, scared to damage their weapons against the creature coated in enzymes, weren't much help. Even Viv's fiery assaults were inefficient. In the end, it's only Nasim's sword, temporarily infused with his magus magic, which slew the ooze as Laslo was slipping into unconsciousness from the acid and the pain.
The vivisectionist healed, the group departed from this otherwise empty room and, through their choices of corridors, they reached a room whose pool of murky stagnant water was the only way forward, to another corridor on the other side of the obstacle. After a short discussion focussing on the group inability to swim properly, Viv decide to remove her armor---leaving her in the thinest white clothes---and swim through. But little had she started her swim that three monstrous sinspawn adapted to underwater life converged on her from the corners of the room! The difficult situation turned to desperate with Laslo jumping in the water to provide a (very efficient!) diversion and almost dying under the assaults of one of the sinspawn. Eventually, both Viv and the Ustalavian were able to retreat back to their companions, were they slowly dealt with one of the aberrations whilst a raging Draco jumped into the water and dealt with the other two with powerful blows. Nasim's final attacks dealt with the last beast.
Hurt, low on resources, tired, the group decided to retreat back to the magic fount, and rested there before backtracking there way to the Tower Girls' den and then to Magnimar. Before doing so, the Pathfinders made sure to hide most of the treasures they had found under the Crow. As they faced the Sczarni gang again, they made sure to list all the dangers they had so far dealt with, accompanied with Viv's collection of the monstrosities' bits, this had quite an effect on the Tower Girls! But Ayala wasn't too happy that my agents had supposedly recovered so little treasure. They let them pass unharmed, though, and it is with reliefs that I welcomed them back to the Heidmarch Manor after this two-and-a-half day exploration of the Crow.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 16 (a gray ooze constricting Laslo).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 21 (Draco on an aquatic sinspawn).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 15 (Nasim with a shocking grasp on the abyssal larva).
Unconscious: Laslo (-5), constricted by a gray ooze.
XP: 7,972 XP total (level 3)
- +1 ranseur
- brass crank with a pearl-inlaid handle (100 gp)
- set a mwk smith’s tools made of mithral (500 gp)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter VI
Lamashan 7, 4712 AR
Collecting all of the knowledge and information my agents had uncovered for the Pathfinder Chronicles took most of the night. But it had been a while since Canayven and I had seen such promises of wonders. I know that my dear husband, despite his expedition’s carts being loaded at that very moment, even considered postponing his foray into the runewell of Sandpoint so he could learn more about the Thassilonian wonders of the Crow. He knew his duties to the Pathfinder Society, though, and still left the next day, but not before personally rewarding our explorers for some of their extraordinary discoveries.
Rested, we discussed more about the situation before the group headed back to the Crow. The Tower Girls were a clear issue, especially as they were taxing all discoveries within the Irespan’s pillar. My cunning agents—and certainly to no small help from the Keleshite and the follower of the crafty Asmodeus—had already uncovered a loophole in the contract they had signed with the Sczarni: it mentioned treasures in the Crow, and not under it, so they had no intention of being taxed for all their discoveries below the mite’s lair. But I didn’t think the Tower Girls would take kindly to that reading of the contract and convinced my recruits it would be best for all if the Sczarni gang could be removed from the picture by the City Guard. I think I can pull enough strings in this city to convince people in power that a group who is ready to blatantly assassinate a Magnimarian (poor Natalya) and dwells in the hallways of a Thassilonian building known to spew shriezyx should be taken care of. Maybe I will even be able to convince the authorities to rewards my agents for their discovery of where the Tower Girls set up shop.
Bypassing the Tower Girls on the way back into the Crow proved no problem. The Girls and, in particular their leader, Ayala, seemed keen on the Pathfinders doing the dirty work for them. Deep under their den, my agents swam through the pool of murky water that hosted the sinspawns which had been so difficult to defeat but a day ago. Beyond the pool, a sloping corridor led them even further down into the complex. When they reached the entrance of an ancient sewer, they were quite convinced that they were now below the ocean’s floor. An everburning torch ensconced in the wall provided more illumination than Viv’s usual light spell on Draco’s cloth. It revealed three exits to a cistern filled with dark water which seeped through troughs along the three corridors. Timbers bridged the troughs, but when Nasim tried to walk over one of them, it collapsed entirely in the water below. It’s lucky the Qadiran is rather dextrous and didn’t follow the rotten piece of wood! That was testament to these sewers’ old age.
A raspy voice singing (in what Viv realized was Necril) was the only disturbance to the room, emanating from the eastern corridor. Following the song, the Pathfinders soon reached a cistern completely filled with water, with but a stone bridge crossing it to its only exit to the south. What stopped my agents in their tracks was the magnificent mural of the Magnimarian bay painted one of the walls. That mural clearly wasn’t millennia-old and its painter couldn’t have been from the Thassilonian age. Yet, no one was to be seen here, not even the singer who had stopped singing before anyone entered the room… But the raspy voice soon echoed from under the bridge, asking my agents whether they would be willing to help a poor soul. Although the voice’s owner would not reveal itself, it asked the group whether they could retrieve a broach from its boat’s wreckage, laying deep on the ocean floor next to the Crow. In exchange it promised to reveal the dangers that awaited in the corridors ahead. Creepy as it was, the voice seemed honest enough albeit it sure was hiding something. But it also pointed the Pathfinders to a room in the devils’ level of the dungeon where a staircase led to the ocean’s floor so it seemed easy enough to satisfy it, and thee stairs could well be another discrete way out of the Crow.
Back up they went, then, to find and search this wreckage, and they stumbled on another group of nupperibos which seemed to be protecting a door. Behind it was the most unexpected sight: a crying lemure. Much bigger than your normal lemure and incredibly stinky, this one was no less pathetic as it wailed in broken Common that the bullies had hurt it. The devil, which called itself Stink, promised its riches to the Pathfinders if they were to ever kill these bullies (likely some of the other devils dwelling on this level). “What a cute little thing” added Viv, to which her companions answered with dubious expression, and I must admit that I most certainly would have reacted in the same way had I been there!
Further exploration following the indications of the voice led the group to two extraordinary rooms: one with a set of stairs filled with water to the brim, the water blocked by a magical blue veil that was preventing it from flooding the complex (obviously the stairs earlier mentioned by the voice); and, higher up, what was revealed to be an observing dome covered with curtains of algae, overlooking the ocean floor and the sunken carcass of a ship: the Liza Jane. Both Laslo and Draco pushed through the magical veil, their skins tingling with a strange sensation. In the meantime Viv and Nasim observed from the dome, through the algae curtains slowly swept back and forth by the currents over the walls of force that prevented the waters to come crashing in.
The trip to the Liza Jane, a former trawler like many others in the Magnimarian bay, proved cumbersome for Laslo whose inability to swim forced him to walk on the sea floor. The much more athletic Draco suffered no such problems and that was for the best for the wreckage sheltered two nasty reefclaws which certainly didn’t take lightly to being bothered in their den by a group of humanoids! The skirmish was slow and clumsy: everyone held their breath as best they could, hoping for the reefclaws to be dinner food before they would run out of air. Nasim and Viv soon joined their companions under water, sticking to the sea floor and doing their best to reach the melee before it was too late. Laslo was the worse for wear and the awkwardness of underwater combat almost cost him his life. But, just before he was slashed to death by one of the reefclaws, Draco grabbed and pinned the troublesome crustacean. The second beast was taken care of through the combined efforts of all four companions before they rushed back in, gasping for air. There is certainly something to be said about the dangers of underwater combats!
Multiple forays into the wreckage allowed the group to thoroughly search it and find a few treasures: the broach they were send to find (a gold-and-pearl work of beauty inscribed with the letters “L.B.”) as well as more mundane items (a mithral rapier of good quality and a magical +1 buckler). The broach secured, the Pathfinder decided to clean this level before bringing its prize to the voice. A quick succession of rooms led the Pathfinders to a portcullis they could operate with a crane they had previously found. The grinding noise of the metallic apparatus was sure to make everyone on this level aware of the group’s arrival.
Although they didn’t realize it at first, they were now in Lord Baz’s lair… First they found two lemures stuck in a small room. Although mindless and moving to attack the Pathfinders, these seemed to be the two the Suzerain of Little Erebus had sent the group to fetch. My agents closed the door before the lemures could move and reach them, leaving this for later. The other important room in this series turned out to be Loard Baz’s home. The loathsome accuser devil, with the body of a pudgy child and the fangs, eyes, and wings of a disgusting fly, was quick enough to stall the Pathfinders. Telepathically communicating in Celestial with Viv—“the obvious leader of this group since what could a priest of Asmodeus be other than a ruler amongst devil-faced and humans?”— Baz cowardly offered to hire them to kill the Suzerain of Little Erebus and promised them more riches in than the Suzerain could assemble. But there is no point in trying to get a Qadiran, as well as a follower of Asmodeus to break a deal, so the little devil’s attempts at buying his survival proved worthless.
As Viv raised her unholy symbol of Asmodeus to call forth the fiery tentacle of Hell and destroy the two nupperibos blocking the entrance to Lord Baz’s room, the first ones to react were the two invisible imps in the room. Their magic wormed its way through both Nasim’s and Draco’s mind, suggesting they leave and never come back. Despite the obvious danger in such a plan, neither could shake of the enchantment and, thinking it was a good idea, they left this series of room at a walking pace. In a brilliant move, though, Viv had the time to add to the suggestion that they should go in that room they had gone through the day before and that harbored this circle of runes on the floor. If only they could enter the circle of protection against law and dispel the suggestion quickly enough, maybe Laslo and Viv wouldn’t have to battle the accuser devil and the imps alone for long!
A war of attrition begun… Laslo was handling the flying (and sometimes invisible!) imps as best he could, slashing wildly, sometimes hitting, often missing, whilst the imp would hurt him with their poisonous stings. In the meantime, Viv was channeling wave after wave of hellish tentacles, hurting most devils present. Not only was this very efficient against Lord Baz which, invisible, was attempting to summon magical swarms, but it was also a matter of pride to her, so she could show the power of Asmodeus over devils. All devils. After two attempts at summoning, both disrupted by Viv’s channeling, Lord Baz flew into a rage. He reverted to its basic instincts and charged the cleric of Asmodeus. Laslo, having just dealt with the imps, came to protect her as best he could and its the joint assaults of Laslo’s claws and Viveltre’s divine magic that finally overcame Lord Baz’s frenzy, despite a nasty bite on Viv. A few seconds later, Draco and Nasim finally reappeared after having shaken off the effects of the suggestions with the circle of protection against law, much to Nasim’s disgust.
Lord Baz was no more; the Suzerain of Little Erebus and “Stink” would be happy and the group would be paid for this. As Viv put it: “Congratulations, we’ve now all accepted money to kill someone. That makes us assassins.”
On their way back to report to the Suzerain, the Pathfinders found another magical fount which they used to heal some of their wounds, and in which they found a noqual key. It seemed the right size to be inserted into the clockwork servant they had found earlier and rewind it. The Suzerain, now visible as an imp, was overjoyed by the outcome of my agents’ battle with Lord Baz. True to his deal, he tossed the group a bag with mundane riches, and went as far as to give them his current rooms as he moved to Lord Baz’s former rooms.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 6 + 5 non-lethal (a reeflclaw attacking Laslo).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 13 (Laslo on a nupperibo).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 10 (Viv channeling on Lord Baz).
XP: 9,572 XP total (level 4)
- a scroll of animate dead
- 117 sp
- 2 tapestries (500 gp)
- a wand of lesser restoration (17 charges)
- a thin noqual key (500 gp)
- a Thassilonian zither (500 gp)
- silver coffer (100 gp) with 22 gp, 175 sp, 312 cp
- a mithral mwk rapier
- a +1 buckler
- Lord Heidmarch’s reward (1,000 gp)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter VII
Lamashan 7, 4712 AR (continued)
The level was much quieter now that the devils' feud was over, giving the Pathfinders more time for exploration. Back in the storeroom, the group rewound the clockwork servant with the noqual key found earlier in the fount. Naught happened except building frustration at the construct did not react to any command until Viv, exasperated, left the room and the clockwork dutifully followed her. My agents decided to fully explore the rest of the level before heading back down to the "voice." They found a rift syphon which connected directly to Hell, probably since the Thassilonian days. They ventured this could be the reason for the presence of all those minor devils on this level, including the hell hound they fought in the labyrinthine siphon. A set of another three rooms followed, with one hosting a sign warning to "not leave the cages open." Obviously, they were, as the group fought three (rather weak) monstrosities of dangling flesh, lost in these destroyed rooms for millennia.
One level down, the "voice" revealed itself as Lockerbie Brast, the former captain of the Liza Jane, and now an undead monstrosity, a lacedon. The former captain's current condition didn't deter my explorers, though, and they reached an agreement with Brast: they agreed to bring the broach back to his wife, and report he had died in his boat's sinking. In exchange, he would go as far as to accompany them forward into the sewers and show them the lair of the "blue dwarves" who, he thought, the Pathfinders had come down here to hunt. Even though this wasn't the case, my agents thought that if they could kill two birds with one stone and earn the mayor's reward for dealing with the abductions, they should as well do so. The presence of crazy derros would sure go far to explain the numerous disappearances plaguing Magnimar of late!
The stealthy group members (Laslo and Nasim), accompanied by Brast, sneaked forward. From a balcony overlooking a huge room whose walls were covered by luminescent blue cytillesh (a blue hallucinogenic mushroom harvest by derros), they spotted a group of three derros arguing between them before retiring to their separate rooms. The Pathfinders let some time pass before they followed Laslo's lead downwards into the derros' lair, as silent as the night's breeze.
Sneaking forward and, for the moment, not minding the derros, nor the gigantic spiral staircase delving deeper into the heart of the earth, Viv felt mentally "tugged" towards a wall behind which the Pathfinders, having now regrouped, found a secret door. Behind it, the webbed shape of a mummified shriezyx scared them for an instant and reminded the Vanderale of her grand-father and uncle, these heroes of Magnimar who had fought waves and waves of these abominations erupting from the depths of the Irespan. Yet this particular creature was long dead. Stairs down led the Pathfinders to the goal of their exploration: the Sihedron Shrine, hosting the Shard of Greed. The very Sihedron Shrine which can be used to reforge the mighty Sihedron once all the Shards are recovered and brought back here! But the Pathfinders were not alone here: two gigantic shriezyx, very much alive, this time, were ready to defend the Thassilonian artifact.
A brutal fight ensued during which Laslo, as furious as the beasts, fell under their assaults. As Draco and the clockwork servant took on the blunt of the assault to protect the fallen tiefling, Nasim unleashed his magic scimitar attack on one of the two creatures, frying it with his shocking grasp entwined scimitar slashes, killing it outright. Viv Vanderale, true to her namesake, jumped on the shrine and, from there, unleashed fiery assault upon fiery assault on the remaining shriezyx. Half-paralyzed by its fear of fire, the beast was destroyed by two final burning hand spells bursting out of the Asmodean's hands. Glad to have overcome the Thassilonian monsters, the Pathfinder dutifully retrieved the Shard of Greed or, more accurately, Nasim snatched it for himself. Despite the lack of the proper ioun stone to tune to the Shard, the Qadiran didn't feel much of a curse wash over him.
Relieved they had finally found the artifact they had been hunting for days of exploration in the Crow, the Pathfinders pondered whether they should just leave the Crow's dungeon or decidedly answer the City Guard's call and sort out the matter of the derros kidnapping Magnimarian. They eventually decided for the latter, thinking that otherwise they wouldn't be able to cash in the promised reward with mere information on the derros' location. Nasim sure was a strong advocate of doing all that was possible to ensure they would be paid more.
Upstairs, in the huge cytillesh-lit hall, the Pathfinders first headed to the southern set of rooms to hunt the lonely derro who had retired there. Behind a simple stone door, a dark corridor led to two small chambers after a bent. All their attention focussed on finding the skinny blue dwarf, neither Laslo nor Draco noticed the darkmantle that fell from the ceiling. As Laslo did his best to prevent the aberration from strangling the barbarian, he was attacked from the rear by a derro wielding an injection spear full of a unbelievably cold liquid. Despite the surprise ambush, the group was able to swiftly deal with both the derro and his darkmantle pet.
Exploring this derro's chambers, they realize one of them hosted a brown mold, exuding enough cold to keep a freaky abattoir running without body parts rotting, testament to the derro's folly. The other room harbored an alchemical lab in which Laslo was happy to find a few decoctions and grim apparatuses.
Back in the great hall, and afraid they would be falling into other ambushes in small corridors, my Pathfinders decided to face the blue dwarves all at once. Screaming to the top of her lungs, Viv called for them to face justice. At first, nothing happened. But, soon, one derro, accompany by a two-legged abomination stitched together from the remnants of many different bodies, entered the hall to silence this threat to the derros' operation. Nasim, Laslo, and Brast took them both on in a swift violent fight. Although the carrion golem looked threatening, it wasn't very efficient against the dextrous tielfings. Before this fight was over, though, the third derro entered from the western rooms, ready for a fight. To everyone's surprise, she was accompanied with an obviously charmed Fenster the Blight. Charmed, and ready to defend his new master. Whilst Draco battled the female derro (who tried to charm Viv, to no avail), Viv focussed on paralysing Fenster with a well-placed hold person. To her relief, she succeeded and the poor Fenster was incapacitated. At least, he wouldn't have to be fought and likely killed!
The Pathfinders had the fight well under control when, unexpectedly, another derro emerged from a small flight of stairs. That's when things took a grim turn as this aklys-wielding derro was clearly much more powerful than the others. A Magister, she turned invisible to prepare herself for the battle as her minions did their best to occupy my agents. Even her two homonculi joined the fray. When she was finally ready, she reappeared, levitating near the ceiling of the main room, and started pummeling the Pathfinders with well-aimed bombs.
The fight wore on for quite some time as the levitating Magister would often turn invisible again after throwing a deadly bomb, remaining too high to be an easy target for the group's melee weapons. Draco resorted to crude battling technique and went as far as to (successfully) hurl one of the dead derros on the Magister, before enlarging himself so he could reach her with his lucerne hammer. Yet that took quite some time that almost proved to be Viv's demise: targeted by a perfectly tossed bomb, the aasimar got splashed with acid. She would have died there and then in a puddle of her melting flesh if not for her natural acid resistant. She fell inconscious, on the brink of death. Brast took that turn of the tide to grab the body of one of the dead derros and retreat from the battlefield. As Nasim healed Viv back to consciousness, Laslo resorted to his (rather inefficient) crossbow, whilst Draco wielded his hammer in wide gestures. After many failures at hitting the deadly Magister, he finally crashed his hammer on her frail body in one particularly powerful blow [39 points of damage in a single critical hit!]. Barely alive, the Magister was able to turn invisible again. She was about to dash for the large spiral staircase in the middle of the room when a very lucky arrow shot from Nasim's bow skewered her despite her invisibility. That was the end of the derros and their kidnappings!
With no more threats in sight, my Pathfinders tied up Fenster the Blight so he wouldn't be a danger to anyone as the enchantment wore off. They then explored the derros' lair, retrieving quite a few strange items used by the blue dwarfs for their experiments. The large spiral staircase, to everyone's amazement, descended deep into the earth for more than 400 feet before opening in the ceiling of a gigantic cavern filled with all manner of deadly fungi and creeping oozes. It is a new route to the Darklands! Straight from Magnimar! I still cannot help but shudder whenever I think of the threat that poses to us, especially now that we know hordes of Drows dwell underground…
In a set of cells, the Pathfinders freed a handful of kidnapped Magnimarian, including Dalveni Ornando, a Varisian from whom they would soon hear more about. Bringing them back to civilization earned them the 1,000-gp reward promised by Mayor Grobboras. Giving up the location of the Tower Girls' lair to the City Guard further earned them another 4,000 gp. I'm happy I was able to pull enough strings to make this happen: my agents deserved it! They also took the opportunity of being back in town to find Brast's wife. Incredibly relieved to finally know what had happened to her husband, she offered my agents her husband's old magical armor as she thought they would likely make better use of it than her.
So there we were, with two Shards in our hands. Much closer to defending Varisia than I would ever have imagined! Now the next Shard needed to be secured… Nasim, focussing on the Shard of Greed, unveiled it was hidden somewhere close, in, or under the Lady's Light, one of the most prominent Thassilonian artifacts close to Magnimar: a "light house" at the tip southern tip of the Mushfens, beacon of light on the coast and shaped in the beautiful features of Sorshen, the mightly runelord of Lust herself!
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 21 (Magister Khrysm hurling an acid bomb at Viv, with sneak attack and a critical hit).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 11 (a hell hound breathing fire on Draco)
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 39 (an enlarged Draco on Magister Khrysm, with a critical hit).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 14 (Nasim on a Shriezyx with shocking grasp).
- Laslo (-5), attacked by a shriezyx.
- Viveltre (-5), hit by Master Khrysm acid bomb's critical hit.
XP: 14,272 XP total (level 4)
- 35 gp and 3 small garnets (50 gp each)
- a set of surgical tools, filthy but of good quality (200 gp)
- 3 Small light repeating crossbows
- an injection spear
- 8 vials of frostspore
- an extraction scarificator
- a wand of charm person (17 charges)
- 3 doses of id moss
- 2 doses of striped toadstool
- 10 doses of flayleaf
- 8 doses of pesh
- an elixir of love
- an elixir of truth
- 2 potions of cure moderate wounds
- 4 acid flasks
- a Small mwk leather armor
- a Small mwk aklys
- a headband of vast intelligence +2 (Craft [alchemy])
- a mwk alchemist's lab
- 3 doses of cytillesh extract
- 232 gp, 1423 sp, 2100 cp
- a lens of detection
- a golembane scarab
- a wand of spiritual weapon (11 charges)
- Brast's +1 studded leather armor
- bounty for the Tower Girls minus their share of the treasure (3,600 gp)
- Lord Mayor Groboras's reward for solving the abductions (1,000 gp)
- the Shard of Greed
- a pale blue rhomboid ioun stone
- a clockwork servant (3,750 gp)
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter VIII
Lamashan 8, 4712 AR
Big transition session this time around. Lots of exposition and unfolding PC's personal hooks.
Debriefing my successful agents took a good part of the night. As did writing up their discoveries and its ramifications. When we were over it, at the heart of the night, I retired to my room to write these Chronicles whilst I know the Pathfinders went to celebrate their victory over adversity in the garden. I told my majordomo not to bother them and I know they spent what was left of the night enjoying each other’s company near a gigantic bonfire (Viv must have had something to do with this). I suspect I smelled the distinctive tang of flayleaf, and their racket must have been enhanced by alcohol or other drugs. I guess I shouldn’t be too strict about this, as long as they do not turn this into a way of life. I know it is necessary to relax as much as one can after difficult missions and proud victories.
The morning was far into the day when they woke up and I could share with them that I had received the ioun stone I had gotten fetched so we could put the curse of the Shard of Greed to rest. The pale blue rhomboid snug nicely into the Shard's depression. Less appealing was a letter from the Vanderale family addressed to Viveltre, summoning her to the court of justice so she be judged: her parents, in retaliation for the "abandonment of her duties to the family so she could go gallivanting through sewers and caves" were asking for her to repay all the Vanderale had invested in her education. Furious, Viv wouldn’t let this pass. She was ready to defend herself at the court the next day. Laslo offered his scholarly knowledge and I allowed him to use the Lodge’s library for research before the trial.
Throughout this day, the first echoes of the Pathfinders’ discoveries started to reach us. The Council of Ushers was furious that simple "adventurers" would go about exploring Thassilonian ruins in search of artifacts. The fact that these weren’t mere adventurers but Pathfinders did little to staunch their outrage and they took this opportunity to remember everyone of the waves of shriezyx that the Irespan disgorged sixty years ago. But how are we to defend ourselves against the mounting threats against Varisia if we do not know of the power of old? Weren’t the derros proof enough that we are not well armed against threats? Although I wish I were in the field with my agents, it’s my duty as a venture captain to protect them through politics whilst they expand the knowledge of the Society. Here again I was able to quench the Council’s anger with the promise that the Pathfinder Society, after a short period to study the Crow in detail, would not interfere with the authorities regarding the Crow, and that the Irespan’s pillar would de facto be under their jurisdiction. Beyond the Council (mainly toothless anyway), it was reported to me that Mayor Grobaras, although satisfied with my agents putting an end to the kidnappings, was rather unhappy at the existence of a direct way from the Darklands to the Magnimarian harbor. It’s my understanding he ordered the best wizards of the city to block this passage with magical walls and wards, and dispatched a constant troupe of guards to ensure no horror from the world under the world would pass through to the Crow.
The Pathfinder spent most of their day at the city’s crafters and artisans, cashing in a good part of the treasures they had uncovered in the Crow. I am sure they also took this opportunity to bask in their new fame! After all, they are the discoverers of the Thassilonian hallways inside the Irespan’s pillar, and the heroes who solved the recent kidnappings. I heard Nasim was thanked by Sabbriya Kalmeran, the ruler of the Bazaar of Sails (there must be a Qadiran connection between these two), for enabling the discovery of her father’s remains. The man had disappeared more than twenty-eight years ago but his skeleton was found in a secret cache on a level the Tower Girls had claimed. Apparently, neither the Sczarni gang nor my Pathfinders were the first to find their way into the Crow.
For the first time in the week since I had sent them on their mission, my new recruits and I could share a comfortable dinner, and so we did. The Lady’s Light isn’t far from Magnimar and can be reached within a day by boat, or three on foot. I did not favor any of the two routes, but pointed the group to an eccentric man, Jasper Kandamerus, who I knew had explored the Lady’s Cape a couple of years ago. Last I had heard, the rather deranged man (a pleonasm for a follower of Groetus) spent most of his time on the seedy side of Beacon’s Point, rambling about the upcoming end of the world to whoever would listen to him. As he has now been doing so for years, it is hard to put any faith in his claims… I warned them that they would need to find a way to calm the man down before he could be of any use.
Lamashan 9, 4712 AR
Viv woke up feeling unwell, which was assumed to be due to her upcoming trial. At the court, she valiantly defended her independence from her family and how, if anything, her recent exploits were more in line with the great deeds of her great grand-father and uncle. But the court wasn’t entirely swayed by her arguments. If the judge did not ask her to pay the more than 2,000 gp demanded by her parents, Viv was nevertheless condemned to pay more than 200 gp and she was prohibited from using her name as long as her parents lived. Although things could have gone worse, she sure was fuming. I know not what she and Laslo conspired about in the library of the Manor, but I don’t think it bodes well…
Later that day, Laslo was accosted by a shadowy character who explained to the Ustalavian that his action (and how misunderstood he had been in his home country) had not gone unnoticed and that some people could soon be ready to use his talents. Faced only smiled when faced with Laslo’s cold behavior and his blunt comment how he didn’t like to be used as a tool. Before disappearing in the shadows of a dark alley, he added: "But the sharp scalpel of a god?…" My agents later ventured whether this man could have been a member of one of the cults venerating the Reaper of Reputations. Rumors have it that a few of these have taken hold in Magnimar like in other places, remote or close (Gwendor comes to mind here).
In the evening, the Pathfinders headed to Beacon’s Point to find Jasper. As they passed Washer’s Row, they were surprised to stumble on Dalveni Ornando, the Varisian they have saved from the derros’ clutches. He was apparently looking for my agents to tell them that their involvement in solving the kidnappings was greatly appreciated by the Sczarni gangs and, even though they had literally sold one of the gangs to the City Guard, the other gangs would not retaliate against the Pathfinders. Dalveni was warmly thanked by the group.
It is on a small square that they found Jasper Kandamerus. The priest of Groetus, god of destruction and the end of the world, stood on a barrel, screaming his ravings at the crowd:
Woe! Woe unto thee, O Magnimar, for oblivion approaches and thy lamentations shall drown out the sounds of the sea! The Great Whore straddles a two-headed beast and rides this way, sowing the contaminated seeds of her blasphemies as she draws nearer. Weep! Weep, O Generation of the Damned, for none shall escape the pitiless scythe of oblivion. Heed my warning and turn to Groetus! Grasp this mortal hand I offer and we shall march into the void together!
As soon as he saw my agents, his gaze gained a new intensity and, looking straight at them, he howled:
Behold! The Blessed Ushers of the End Times! The Holy Escorts of Oblivion! Soldiers of the Void, champions of mighty Groetus himself!
The Pathfinders got closer, with Viv ready to cast calm emotions on the priest of Groetus if he proved too unruly. Yet, before they could get much closer, a group of thugs showing the clear signs of drug addiction jumped on the disheveled man. As they mugged him, screaming for him to stop bothering the neighborhood, Jasper did little to retaliate against their assaults and soon fell unconscious. My agents reacted quickly and before long, the thugs were disbanding, running for their lives or bleeding to death in the gutter.
The action over, Viv healed Jasper under Laslo’s supervision, as Nasim and Draco were dragging back an unconscious thug. In front of the priest’s agitation, Viv complemented her healing with a calm emotions spell. After this, Jasper made much more sense as he explained he had gone to the Lady’s Cape (the marshes around the Lady’s Light) in search of the "Doomsday Door," which he hadn’t found, and may in fact have been sent drowned by the Skyfall. He had little more details to add to this, but he did mention that the Pathfinders should stop by Maroux the witch, a half-orc witch who lives on the Lady’s Cape. Although grumpy and not welcoming to visitors, she would likely accept their visit if they told her Jasper had sent them. Besides, she would most certainly have information on the state of the Lady’s Light and how to best reach it.
Lamashan 10-11, 4712 AR
The next day, it was time to depart for the hunt of the Shard of Lust. Viv hadn’t gotten any better, though, and Lalso’s examination of the symptoms led him to believe that the aasimar was afflicted with devil’s chills, a likely consequence of their late encounter with Lord Baz. They decided to depart anyway, betting on the Asmodean’s magic for healing the next day. The trip by foot took three full days and was eventless, although difficult through the swamps. The only action during these three days happened when they fell for a manticor’s ambush. The creature was able to transform Viv into a porcupine, rendering her unconscious, before an enlarged Draco could subdue the beast. Cowering under the barbarian’s stone and hammer hits the manticore surrendered and, in exchange for his life, guided the Pathfinder to the Lady’s Cape.
Lamashan 12, 4712 AR
At the neck of the Lady’s Cape peninsula, the Pathfinder found the bridge to Maroux’s Isle, protected by grim trinkets made of bone and covered in blood. At first, the witch showed no sign of warming to the visitor but, before long, they were all sitting in her hut as she shared her dinner with them. She later explained the current situation at the Lady’s Cape, with the recent visit of a group of woman mercenaries, the Gray Maiden, and how that had disrupted the frail peace between the local tribes of boggards and trogs:
The xulgaths (who you city folk know better as troglodytes) and boggards have bickered over control of the Lady’s Cape for years. They’re pretty evenly matched if you ask me. I’ve bloodied their noses when they’ve stuck them in my business, so for the most part they’ve let me be—that’s what the skulls and artwork on my bridge are for.
But then, a few months back, we had some new visitors. A troop of women knights or something, clad in plate and wearing red-plumed helms. Their leader was a woman named Oriana—pretty enough, at least till she took her helmet off and showed off her scars. She sat down to dinner with me just like you did, only she gave me a fine magic wand as a bribe, so I didn’t feel the need to send her off to gather seaweed. Anyway. She told me she and her sisters were from Korvosa, soldiers of the rightful queen who’d been tumbled off the throne a few years back. They’d had to flee the city once their queen wasn’t in charge, and fell into mercenary work until Oriana got the idea to plunder the Lady’s Light for the treasure they think’s hidden inside of it. Made me chuckle a bit, since I’ve heard there’s secret rooms in the Lady filled with treasure too. I’ve tried to find a way into the place before—there’s caves under the area that are supposed to connect to the chambers below the Light, but those caves belong to the trogs and frogs and bigger critters. I didn’t get far, and since then I’ve steered clear of the Light—the b+##! gives me the willies, anyway. Some powerful magic going on in there.
Anyway, Oriana was intent on getting under the Lady’s skirts, and she asked me if I knew a way in. I told her about the caves and warned her of the trogs ’n frogs, but that didn’t seem to bother her. Unlike me, she had herself a whole group of ironclad soldiers to back her up, after all. So off she goes, and damned if she and her mercenaries don’t make friendly with the frogs! Got them some better weapons, gave them some fighting tips, and then helped them launch an attack on the trogs. In return, the frogs gave her permission to use their tunnels.
But here’s the kicker. Oriana found a way inside the Lady—or at least she says so. She came my way ten days ago with a story that she’d found none other than the Runelord of Lust herself in there, and that the runelord had recruited Oriana to help her reclaim her lands and rebuild her kingdom! Oriana asked me to join their crusade! I politely refused and wished her well and she went on her way. Gods above an’ below, I couldn’t get her out of my hut quick enough!
The way I see it, there’s three possibilities. First, Oriana is lying, for whatever reason. The second, Oriana, sad child, is off her nut. And the third, someone or something in there is masquerading as Sorshen the Grand Whore of Thassilon and has tricked Oriana into being her minion. Well, I suppose there’s a fourth possibility—that Sorshen really is alive and well in the Lady’s Light, but if that’s really the case, then we won’t make the slightest difference and the Varisia we know will soon be destroyed!
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 10 (a manticore hurling a spike at Viv).Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 26 (an enlarged Draco hitting a manticore with his lucerne hammer).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: none.
Unconscious: Viveltre (-4), from a barrage of manticore spikes.
XP: 16,539 XP total (level 5)
Here are the PCs' backgrounds:
Laslo Grigorovich Budinek
In a godsforsaken town in the Ustalavic hinterlands, Laslo grew up as an apothecary’s son. He never met his mother, and considering the little horns on his face, the small but wickedly sharp black claws on his fingers, and the tell-tale tail he had inherited from her, maybe that was for the better. Life was harsh and prospects bleak, so his father supplemented his learned trade with any bits of useful knowledge he could get his hands on, even if it was considered “forbidden” or “dangerous” by some. No doubt Laslo owed his conception to such an experiment.
However, Laslo’s father never let that fact get between him and his son, and he went to great lengths to ensure that Laslo would be accepted as well as could be expected by the local populace, and to teach him that he was no worse person than any of them. His greatest achievement was to persuade the famed medical university of Lepidstadt to accept Laslo as a student.
There, however, Laslo encountered a wall of barely restrained racism from both students and instructors. Many accused him of cheating, using illicit methods, or even to be responsible when some patients developed complications or died. While Laslo never hurt anyone deliberately, he certainly showed remarkably little empathy for his patients, always more interested in the academic matters at hand rather than the well-being of the patients. With his extremely pragmatic view on unusual, painful, or dangerous methods — whatever works — eventually accumulated enough minor transgressions against university morals that the board could officially kick him from the curriculum and call for a criminal investigation. Although he felt he was innocent, he realized the sticklers would interpret the Laws As Written in such pointlessly literal ways as to make him seem guilty. He took the hint and left Ustalav for an impromptu “sabbatical”.
His journey brought him to Magnimar, where he would try to take up his studies again, though he had low hopes of success. After all, he still had little horns, claws, and a tail, and no father to vouch for him this time. On the other hand, he soon heard of the Pathfinder Society, their uncomplicated, stranger-friendly recruiting attitude, and their refreshingly positive attitude to rare and valuable knowledge. It sounded perfect — What could possibly go wrong?
Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al–Fahim (نسيم بن أسد بن شهزاد الفهيم)
Over a millennium ago, a beggar in the capital of the Padishah Empire of Kelesh struck a deal with the Whore Queen Ardad Lili: she would grant him and his heirs wealth and power in exchange for the souls of his male descendants of a thousand years. Several weeks after the contract was signed, Ardad Lili gave birth to his son and very soon the beggar started a new life. He gambled with the little money he had and won a fortune. After some time he was able to multiply his wealth and eventually to become a noble and an advisor of the Emperor. His son succeeded him, marrying one of the many princesses of the empire.
The dynasty lasted for a thousand years, when suddenly the contract expired. At this time, Nasim, the last descendant of the beggar, was ten years old. Over night, he grew a tail, his teeth transformed into needles and his eyes became yellow. Apparently, his ancestor had overlooked a paragraph in the contract that specified that all descendants not having reached adulthood yet would show signs of their heritage as soon as the contract would end. When his father Asad discovered this the next day, he accused his wife of cheating on him with a devil and killed her in his rage. With the help of a servant, Nasim was able to flee the manor, and joined a caravan to Qadira, selling all his personal belongings.
Arriving at Katheer he quickly ended up as a beggar and thief in the souks. However, he was lucky: a devote dervish of the Dawnflower, Matviyyah, recognized his talents and his speed and took him under her wing training him as a dervish dancer. Although he never really became a true faithful of Sarenrae, he was quick and eager to learn. While mastering the art of the dervish dancers, he became interested in the many ruins spread all over Qadira. In order to learn more about these ancient civilizations he joined one of the colleges of magic in Katheer. It was there that he read about the Thassilonian Empire the first time, and he became thrilled of learning more. Digging deeper into the old rune magic, he became adept in casting basic spells, in particular those connected to the virtue of righteous anger. Studying more, he even became able to incorporate this art into his dervish dancing. Life started to become interesting.
But then his heritage came to haunt him. Some weeks after Nasim’s 21st birthday, there was a assassination attempt on his life, that he was barely able to escape. His father had found him. He suddenly had to flee from his new home. So he went to the Pathfinder Lodge in Katheer to join the Society as an initiate, and was sent to the Grand Lodge in Absalom. There he past the tests of the three masters and was sent on his Confirmation which he mastered easily. He lived several month in Absalom, further studying texts on rune magic at the Arcanamirium and practicing his dervish dancing in gladiatorial fights. He also met an interesting girl named Viveltre. Suddenly, he heard rumors of a Kelish noble having arrived in the city, asking questions about other Keleshites that have recently arrived. He had not fled far enough.
He went to his Venture-Captain and asked to be sent to Varisia, as this place was not only as far as he could get, but this was also his change to directly study Thassilonian ruins. After a long naval trip to northern Avistan he finally arrived in Varisia, where he was sneaked into Magnimar by the merchant captain he had travelled with in over the Inner Sea.
As he arrived, Nasim found himself under the “protection” of the Princess of the Market, Sabriyya Kalmeralm, a no non-sense woman who rules over the Magnimar’s Bazaar of Sails, a destination for traders the world over, and the largest free market in Varisia. Clearly, she wasn’t too thrilled about an extra passenger on-board one of her ships, especially such a hunted man. An agreement was reached, though, and, as payment for her silence, she asked that Nasim to play at the Serpent’s Run for a week. The Qadiran knew better than to refuse…
A week later, Nasim has carried our his part of the deal, the crowd being fascinated by his dancing style of fighting, and he is now a free man in Magnimar. One of the first things he did upon discovering the new city is to issue a quick letter to the Heidmarch Manor. Two days have now passed, he is slowly getting used to the new city and strange people who inhabit it, such as a dwarf named Jorston Droaeb, the Master of Games at the Serpent’s Run, who became his drinking pal at the Old Fang. This very morning, he’s received a summon from the Pathfinder lodge. Hopefully the exploration of the Thassilonian runes would become interesting…
The Vanderale family name is one of the best-known in Magnimar. Indeed, it is hard not to know it given that 200 foot tall statues of a pair of Vanderales dominate the Grand Arch district. Every five generations or so, the Vanderales produce an Aasimar, which is generally greeted as a fortunate event and a sign of heaven’s favor by the family. Viveltre Vanderale was such an Aasimar, and an heiress to a sizable portion of the family’s fortune and status. However, quite recently she caused a minor scandal by taking the engagement contract her family had drawn up on her behalf to court, and successfully having it annulled. She is now estranged from her parents as a result.
Viv had a bit of a reputation as a fashion rebel by Magnimar standards, adopting the tattoos and piercings currently favored by the younger high society in Korvosa after a trip there. She had been thought to have grown less rambunctious in recent years, making the court case come as a bit of a surprise.
She was said to be somewhat unfortunate and accident prone during her childhood. Ceratinly healers were called to the family manse not infrequently to deal with her various injuries. A few years ago, she was apparently caught in a fire that broke out at the manse, and she did not appear in public for some time after that incident.
She brought her court case immediately after her family returned from a year-long trip to Absalom, where she was brought for “finishing”. It is said that members of the Pathfinder Society provided her with legal help or information, and she has been staying at the Magnimar Pathfinder’s Lodge while she looks for a new place to live.
There are those who say that Viveltre brought more than fashion statements back from Korvosa, and that she is one of the rare Aasimars who turn their backs on heaven and dedicate their lives to evil. They whisper that she is a diabolist and follower of Asmodeus, and wonder aloud exactly why none of her childhood pets ever seemed to last very long.
And the GM-only version of the story:
When Viveltre reached her adolescence, these objections turned into an escalating war of rebellion on her part and retaliatory punishment from her parents. A series of tattoos and piercings were rewarded with beatings. Her announcement upon returning from a trip to Korvosa that she had converted to diabolism resulted in her parents having all of her pets killed. When she soon after that started trying her hand at arson on the family manse, she was locked in a closet without food or water for many days, until she finally agreed to behave. After that, she maintained a façade of good behavior for long enough that her parents believed that had finally broken her spirit, and a year before she was to be wed they took her to Absalom for “finishing”. She spent the year furtively and desperately looking for any way out of the arranged marriage.
Among her tutors were members of the Pathfinder Society, and she befriended them and enlisted their aid. At night, with their assistance, she snuck into the Grand Lodge and searched the vaults for knowledge that would help her. The Asmodean priest who oversaw the vaults was happy to help her and encourage her on the path she had already taken a few tentative steps down. She began an intense study of the most violent and destructive aspects of Asmodean theology, looking for the perfect way to kill her parents, and in doing so a religion chosen in what was originally little more than an act of teenage defiance became a calling. But one that left her at a loss, since unlawful acts of arson, matricide, and patricide were anathema to the very philosophy she had turned to for its violence.
She was on the point of despair, thinking she would have to submit to the wishes of her parents, when she had a sudden realization – the Law itself was a weapon, one that gave the advantage to whoever wielded it best. Her parents were using it to force her to wed. She would use it better in order to defy them. Upon the family’s return to Magnimar, she took the engagement contract to court and, with the help of her Pathfinder Society friends, managed to have it invalidated due to a set of obscure but inarguable loopholes.
Her parents kicked her out with little more than the (admittedly very valuable) clothes on her back. Viv, as she has decided she would now like to be called, went immediately to the Pathfinder Society lodge, eager to put her extensive knowledge of hellfire and destruction in the service of the Society, and even more so in the servive of Asmodeus.
Draco Don Zerba
I've unfortunately misplaced his background, but he had the simplest life so far as a smith in the hills, north-east of Magnimar, before he decided to have a taste at adventuring through the Pathfinder Society.
We finished Curse of the Lady's Light last week, but I have a lot of catching up to do with my notes. This chapter of the Adventure Path was a real blast, though!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter IX
Lamashan 12, 4712 AR
As my Pathfinders were leaving Maroux's hut, the witch felt it necessary to add, in a bout of honestly, that Viv was actually much more friendly than she appeared. "I think I understand what you mean" replied the aasimar before the group engaged onto the Lady's Cape. During the supper, it had been decided that, with the Boggards allied with the Gray Maidens, my agents would go for a diplomatic approach with the troglodytes in the hope of peacefully entering the underground caves they were protecting to get venture below the Lady's Light.
However, as they reached the oil-covered barricades at the entrance of the troglodytes' caves, four guards lit these on fire and my agents were welcomed by roaring, blazing fires. The troglodyte guards were on edge and wanted nothing to do with my agents. Naught could sway their attitude and they had to be whacked on the head before they would become more friendly. The fire barricade was no threat to the outsiders (Laslo, Nasim, and Viv) and they quickly rendered the troglodytes unconscious. Making sure they were tightly secured, the Pathfinders healed one of the lizard creatures, a certain Sulgesh. When asked to bring the newcomers to their leader for parley, Sulgesh quickly considered his situation and agreed to lead the group to Uggilo, the priest of Zevgavizeb this tribe was following. He nevertheless warned them that Uggilo would likely not take kindly to their intrusion.
Inside the dark and stinking caves of the troglodytes, death and disease was omnipresent. From the conversation with Sulgesh and what they saw in the caves, the Pathfinders gathered that the troglodytes were in dire straits after they last battle with the boggard tribe. Not only had many of them died during that battle, but most of those that had come back had done so infected with a disease that was slowly killing the tribe. Other troglodytes joined the group and led them to a large cavern transformed into a disgusting shrine to the Demon Lord of Reptiles. Accompanied by two bodyguards and an enormous pet alligator, Uggilo was finishing a foul ritual during which sacrifices seemed to have prominently featured (were these really troglodytes' limbs?).
The grand priest of Zevgavizeb was standing strong on his believes and little the Pathfinders said swayed him. Although he conversed despite his hostility, Viv pointing out Zevgavizeb had failed the tribe did not stand well with the troglodyte leader. The tensed conversation suddenly turned into a battle as the grand priest realized the Pathfinders would make a gorgeous sacrifice to his Demon Lord. The fight was swift and the Magnimarian quickly overcame the troglodyte leader. The alligator's charge almost toppled Laslo, but the group's combined efforts, with Draco's powerful's assaults, Nasim's subtle dance of magic and blade, Laslo's painful, well aimed clawing, and Viv's gleeful unleashing of the fires of Hell were the plight of the Zevgavizeb grand priest.
Poor Ulgesh, uncomfortable and not wanting to take sides eventually fled the battle field, only to be ordered by Viv to stay. He complied, trembling like a leaf under the assaults of the gales of Gozran. Soothing him, the Pathfinders agreed to help heal the tribe of troglodytes if these were to explain how my agents could reach the Lady's Light. This could be achieved through a side-tunnel, protected by giant fungi the troglodytes were feeding so they would stay around and guard this entrance. Ulgesh further warned them about the giant albino vermin leaving further in the darkness of the underground tunnels.
Lamashan 13, 4712 AR
As Laslo stayed in the caves to take care of the troglodytes, the other Pathfinders scouted around the Lady's Cape and stumbled on the remains of a battlefield. Many dead, headless troglodytes and some boggards were rotting in the sun. On this site of the previous encounter between the troglodyte and boggards tribes, my agents found a broken dagger of good quality, but of unknown make. Caked in the rest of a foul mix, it was obvious these were the reason of the many diseased troglodytes. Whoever had armed the boggards with these (the Gray Maidens?) had also taught them nasty tactics.
In the evening, Viv could not resist an attemp at proselytism. She pointed out to the troglodytes how the Demon Lord Zevgavizeb had abandoned them, how sour things had turned without any intervention of the Lord of Reptiles. She pushed for the troglodytes to "enlighten" and follow the Lord of Hell himself over their minor Demon Lord. It was obvious to all around the fire, that night, that the Pathfinders' overall attitude had sowed the seeds of change in the hearts of the troglodytes.
Lamashan 15, 4712 AR
Having healed a large fraction of the troglodytes from filth fever, my agents were once more ready to move on and continue their search for the Shard of Lust. Thanking Sulgesh, they ventured into the side tunnel and right away stumbled on three violet fungi. Cocky, the Pathfinders initially thought these would pose no threat until Nasim's flesh started to rot under the assaults of the fungi's tentacles. Laslo's tumbling assault turned the battle. After literally goring one of the fungi to pulp with a powerful charge, his flanking with Draco was able to overcome the giant mushrooms. Nasim's discolored rotting flesh was worrying, to say the least, but not beyond the restoring abilities of Viv's magic.
Pushing further in the darkness of the tunnel—a crack in the rock, really—indicated by the troglodytes, the Pathfinders ventured for maybe twenty to thirty minutes until they reached the crossroad of many tunnels. In this large cavern, they where attacked by three giant albino cave solifugids, spider-like creatures that could easily climb the walls and whose rending claws welcomed Laslo by slicing through one of his arteries. Although interested in the anatomical knowledge his could have gleaned from letting the blood spit and spatter, he quickly staunched the bleeding and all Pathfinders retaliated on the giant, but still mindless, vermin. This time, it was Nasim who played the role of a meat wall while the others were dancing around him, chopping the solifugids to pieces.
After the violent fight, the group explored the tunnel crossing while the magic of infernal healing was working its regenerative powers. At the center of the cave stood a basalt monument on which was erected the shell of a statue of a beautiful woman with wings (a succubus? ventured Nasim, quite knowledgeable about these things). It looked as if something had come out of the statue, weeks, maybe months ago. Nasim's concetration through detect magic revealed that the monument had, at some point, been the focus of a powerful binding enchantment. Lust (or enchantment) Thassilonian runes covered all 7 faces of the basaltic monument.
Puzzled by their discovery, the Pathfinders nevertheless proceeded with their explorative duties. Leaving aside two corridors which were not headed towards the Lady's Light, they proceeded through the dark crack heading westward. After another half-hour of uncomfortable exploration in darkness, my agents stumbled on a very different room, with a tiled floor, a marble ceiling held by numerous marble statues of beautiful women, and a shaft of utter darkness at its center. As they entered and ventured closer to investigate the shaft, they were taken by surprise by the four statues animating. These caryatid columns proved very tough to battle. Their stone skin, combined with their innate resistance to magic meant that Nasim's Qadiran dance of scimitar and magic was useless against them. He reverted to his most basic instincts as he rushed one of the statues into the shaft. Laslo was more efficient against the stone women. Their guisarmes swooshing above his head, he tumbled around, selecting particularly vulnerable points to target with his claws. With Viv's support, Draco was simply smashing them as hard as he could with his hammer, and succeeding at destroying them.
The threat over, my Pathfinders were somewhat flummoxed at the lack of an obvious exit to this chamber. A thorough search revealed no hidden passage and they resigned to jump into the dark shaft, despite the absence of any indication of its depth and destination. The fall was, at best, eery. No sound and no light would pierce the blackness. At some point, they all felt it hard to even realize if they were effectively falling, or floating in nothingness, stuck forever in malfunctioning Thassilonian trap. The Pathfinders' worries proved unfounded as they eventually emerged from the darkness into a magnifiscent, large hall of Thassilonian architecture. Feather falling into the room, they could seize the surreal details of the many pillars carved in the like of Sorshen, the Runelord of Lust, they could seize the beauty of the glass balls hosting continual flames, attached to the ceiling and casting a warm light on the hall, they could also seize the magnificence of a massive sarcophagus displayed at the center of the chamber. The caryatid column pushed into the shaft was there as well but didn't resist long to the combined assaults of the four dedicated Pathfinders. True explorer, they focused their attention on the sarcophagus…
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 13 (the guisarme of a caryatid column on Laslo).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 4 Strength damage and 2 Constitution damage (the rot of a violet fungus attacking Nasim's flesh).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 31 (Laslo with a critical horn attack on a violet fungus).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 28 (Nasim's shocking grasp on Uggilo).
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter X
Lamashan 15, 4712 AR (continued)
True to their duties as Pathfinders, my agents could not let the sarcophagus untouched. Opening it proved much easier than they had expected as the stone coffin was not protected by any trap. To everyone's utter surprise, it contained the sleeping body of Sorshen, the Runelord of Lust herself. Through his detection of magic, necromantic magic, Nassim however realized that this must be a clone of the runelord, and not the runelord herself. But the clone was warm to the touch, and therefore "alive," and if it was so, it means that Sorshen is alive somewhere! Since I heard of this gloomy news from my agents, I conferred with Master Leis Nivlandis, founder of the Stone of the Seers, and we cannot find another explanation: Sorshen, just like Karzoug before her, survived the Earthfall and likely awaits to wake from her slumber. The good gods have mercy of our souls if this happens in our lifetimes… Little would protect Varisia against such a powerful runelord. Only the heroes of Sandpoints were able to stall the rise of Karzoug, and Sorshen is said to have been even more powerful than the Runelord of Greed. We are utterly defenseless. We must reforge the Sihedron, if only so it could be used for our defense if such a tragedy were to happen. I see no other option.
In the Lady's Light, the group also conferred about the ramifications of their findings and decided that, for the meantime, at least, they couldn't do much about it. Before moving on, they decided that it would be futile to leave behind the jewelry and gems the clone was wearing. As Viv reached for them, her eyes grew wide and her face froze, her heart stopped, and her body collapsed on the ground, dead. Her companions did not have the sliver of a chance to react as the magic that overtook their friend was instantaneous. To make matters worse, Viv's body had barely touched the ground that the body in the sarcophagus stirred, awoken from its millennia-long slumber! It threw off the surviving Pathfinders as they frantically cast defensive spells, even though they knew they would not survive a mere second in front of the Runelord of Lust. But Sorshen seemed to pay very little attention to the Pathfinders as she started laughing maniacally, looking behind her and muttering: "Gone! They are gone! Yes, they are gone!"
The confusion past, it quickly became evident that Viv's mind had transferred into the clone and that it wasn't the Runelord of Lust they were facing, but only their companion who had switched bodies. Proper answers to a set of specific questions only Viv could answer finished to convince Draco, Laslo, and Nasim. Viv decided to keep her former body in case it became useful later (for a resurrection?), and protected it with gentle repose. She then moved on to dress herself with more than the diaphanous robes the clone was wearing. Her breastplate proved a little tight for her now much more voluptuous body, especially her much larger breast, but she seemed overjoyed her wings were gone. As she undressed, Viv's companions certainly took this opportunity to ogling the most beautiful woman of her time in the flesh, a title that apparently wasn't usurped.
Once they had overcome the shock of this unexpected turn of events, the Pathfinders followed one of two pillared hallways to a wall made of djezet skymetal. A little more attention confirmed that this panel was in fact a door of the red metal, with panels that could be pushed like buttons. These panels showed Sorshen infusing objects and locations in the Lady's Light with succubi, likely to power magical effects, traps, so they serve as guardian, or simply to punish the demons. Pushing the central panel that represented Sorshen binding a particularly powerful-looking succubus to the Lady's Light scepter opened the djezet wall while a sentence in Thassilonian slowly glowed:
"Ayandamahla is bound to the Light for all ages."
Beyond the door flowed an underground river. Boats were tied to stone poles on a beach of white sand nearby.
The Pathfinders huddled in the boats and flowed downriver to reach a magnificent underground lake. At its end, a roaring cascade was crashing down into a lower cave and, at its center, a seven-sided basalt monument stood, holding a three-meter tall glass statue of Sorshen ready to leap into the water. The group decided to leave the statue alone as they fought the current to reach another white sand beach to the south, with a carved stone door in the cave wall. Passing through it, they entered a room that was a stark contrast to the natural cave. Its walls were covered with lascivious mural depicting wanton acts involving otherworldly beings of every description. The Pathfinders however noted subtle suggestions of deep spiritual rot and decadence throughout the mural. They were also able to spot the well-hidden name of the artists who had painted the erotic murals: Amivadeus Yasrin.
As they continued forward through the only corridor out of this room, my agents reached an iron gate behind which opened a hallway, its ceiling supported by columns carved in the guise of Sorshen. There, a pale-looking man wearing red (a dhampir, they later realized) smiled at the Pathfinders and queried: "Friend or foe?" However, upon seeing Viv, who had decided to play along with her new body Sorshen and pretended to be the Runelord of Lust, he muttered an apology, quickly bowed, and opened the iron gate. In the following discussion, Viv bluffed all she could to gather as much information from this Gnaeus, who himself did all he could to satisfy his mistress. Although he appeared confused multiple times by "Sorshen's" questions, he was able to tell the Pathfinders that he had been guarding this room for some times (days, maybe weeks), and that the Gray Maidens had passed through before that time.
When Viv asks Gnaeus to open the door forward and lead the way, he looked utterly confused at the order, as if it was completely inappropriate. Nasim, Laslo and Draco eventually went ahead ("a test for the new minions," confirmed "Sorshen") while Viv stayed behind with Gnaeus. Statues of Sorshen decorated the corridor ahead, but their heads quickly animated to attack the Pathfinder. As the fight went on and the nimble Thassilonian sentinels slashed at Laslo and Nasim, Viv pushed her luck a little too far and asked Gnaeus to help the Pathfinders. This is when the dhampir realized something was utterly wrong. Stumbling backward, muttering this wasn't possible, that Viv wasn't his true mistress, he became invisible. Seconds later, as her companions were busy surviving the sentinels, Viv heard him incant. Wanting to take no risk, she spammed a fireball and channeled the room to damage him, apparently to little effect than sniggering. In the meantime, the other three Pathfinders were fighting the razor claws of the sentinels. Nasim almost dropped from blood loss as he suffered the brunt of the constructs' assaults. He attempted to unleash his shocking grasp assault on the statues' heads but it had no effect on them. While he retreated and healed, Laslo and Draco finally destroyed two of the three constructs.
In the hall, Gnaeus reappeared, displaced, and spellstroke the fake Sorshen with an particularly powerful shocking grasp, almost outright killing Viv! She would have surely died had she not benefited from now being a sturdy pure-blooded Azlanti. Gurgling blood, she was still quickly sliding to Pharasma's realm. Seeing this, Draco abandoned the last Thassilonian statue and charged back into the room to save Viv, quickly followed by Nasim after he had healed himself with a potion and further protected himself with mirror images. Laslo held back and destroyed the last sentinel, pummelling his fist into the wall in the process. He then also rushed back to help his friends. Facing three determined and infuriated enemies, Gnaeus didn't survive much longer. Although he severely weakened Draco with a well-placed vampiric touch that also healed him, he wasted a shocking grasp on one of Nasim's figments. He was eventually brought down by the combined efforts of all three Pathfinders.
Upset at what he took as a betrayal, Nasim decapitated the dhampir and thoroughly looted him. Taking a break, the group took more than ten minutes to recover and heal themselves before proceeding further down the corridor. It was decorated by another set of magnificent murals depicting a throng of people assembled in a grand hall, Sorshen standing on a dais, arms outstretched as she addressed the hundreds of spectators gathered. Paying too much attention to the mural, Nasim, Laslo and Viv didn't realize they were standing on a trap that opened under their feet. Laslo was deft enough to avoid tumbling down the pit, but Viv and Nasim fell towards nasty spikes below. Nasim hurt himself from fall and the spikes while Viv slowly feather fell down but still impaled herself on a spike. Cursing at their lack of attention, the companions healed themselves yet again.
The corridor reached another hall, decorated by more columns sculpted in the shape of Sorshen ("I feel objectified" would later mention Viv) and a mural of her standing atop a towering pyramid. The walls and floor of this room were splashed with old (week-old?) blood, and guarded by an incubus. The group again pretended to be Sorshen and her minions and, this time, it worked as the incubus let them pass with deference. Through the only door, the Pathfinders entered a large chamber with white marble walls and ceiling. Two consecutive platforms led to a dais with a fire pit holding a gray flame. The eastern wall had a block of gray stone with an unlit torch in a sconce, while a western alcove hosted a door.
Figuring the torch had a specific purpose, Laslo grabbed it to light it in the fire pit. But, as he got closer to the top of the dais, four furious cacodaemons appeared, conjured into this room by magic of old. The ensuing fight was truly annoying as the daemon couldn't do much damage to the Pathfinders but they would in turn become invisible, were mainly impervious to Viv's fire assaults, and they even temporarily confused Laslo. They would eventually all be killed.
Lighting the torch with the cold gray flame and placing it back in the sconce had the block of gray stone slide outwards to reveal a set of stairs heading down. Forty feet below, they reached a platform and a dead-end where the wall opposite the stairs had a mural of Sorshen, arms outstretched as if to welcome one into an embrace, her lips twisted in a faintly cruel smile. A phrase was inscribed in gold across the top of the mural. In Thassilonian, it read:
Prostrate thyself and demonstrate proper devotion, my sweet slave, if you wish to enter my domain.
Nasim noted that the image's feet displayed more wear than the rest of it so, one after the other, the Pathfinders bent forward and kissed the mural's feet… to be teleported onto a platform overlooking another large lake, a cascade this time crashing down onto it. They figured this lake must be below the previous lake, even though the shard tugged Nasim "upwards" for its successor. Boats were attached to the platform but the companion decided to first rest from their past ordeal and replenish their magical power. The platform seemed isolated enough to provide them with a secured location to set up camp…
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 9 (the claws of a Thassilonian marble sentinel against Nasim).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 39 (Gaenus's empowered shocking grasp on Viv).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 20 (Draco with a raging, mutagened, lucerne hammer power attack on a cacodaemon).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 6 (Viv's fireball engulfing Gnaeus).
Death: Viveltre, killed by the phantasmal killer protecting Sorshen's clone.
Unconscious: Viveltre (-10), from Gaenus's spellstrike with an empowered shocking grasp.
Yes, that fight was very close! I thought I had killed Viv outright, but she was "only" at -10 with this empowered _shocking grasp_ dealing 39 damage points, in addition to the normal scimitar attacks. We figured afterwards that, without the added 6 hit points from the +2 Con of the pureblooded Azlanti after she had been transferred in the body of Sorshen, Viv would have died. That was certainly an interesting turn of events.
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XI
Lamashan 16, 4712 AR
My Pathfinders felt secure enough to rest on the stone platform, facing a gigantic underground lake they couldn't see the edge of. They nevertheless applied the basic precepts of dungeon exploration and, at all times, had one of them stay awake to guard the surroundings. And it's good they learned their lessons well in Absalom for, in the middle of their rest, as Laslo was testing new chemical formula while watching the dark waters of the lake, a group of lacedons (aquatic ghouls) invaded the platform. Taken by surprise for a split moment, Laslo quickly cried for his companions to wake up and, at the same time, started hacking at the reeking undead whose long arms ended in deadly, paralytic claws. Although Nasim and Draco quickly rose to defend their lives, Viv was deep in the realm of Desna and quite impervious to the threat to her life. Nasim moved to protect the sleeping cleric of Asmodeus, under the direct threat of two lacedons who must have thought the listless body tempting but, before he could reposition himself, a pair of claws slashed him and their paralytic curse overtook him. It was down to Draco and Laslo to defend their two helpless companions against the horde of eight lacedons!
The combined powers of the alchemist and the barbarian, strategically preventing the ghouls from attacking their companions on the small platform and soon joined by a groggy Viv, were enough to rout the frail undead creatures. It had been close, though, and they would have certainly all died, eaten alive by the lacedons, had they not guarded their camp. Soon, even Nasim could start moving again, cursing at the unfairness of the sneaky attack that had paralyzed him. Given the assault in the middle of their rest, the Pathfinders decided to stay there as long as needed for the arcane spellcasters to relearn their daily spells. If this attack was testament to what was awaiting them on this level, they would certainly need them…
(The PCs rise to level 6)
Laslo Male tiefling alchemist (beastmorph, vivisectionist) 6
Nasim Male tielfling magus 6
Viv Female human (pureblooded Azlanti) cleric (theologian) of Asmodeus6
Once rested, the Pathfinders crammed themselves into one of the boats attached to the platform while Laslo started flying with his newly acquired mutation bat-like wings. They cautiously followed one of the walls of the gigantic cavern hosting the underground lake and soon reached a stone platform; the flow of water transforming into an underground river continued towards the west. Hopping on this other platform, my agents realized it hosted another one of these red djezet-alloy doors, its face engraved with numerous scenes depicting a beautiful woman on a throne as numerous strange monsters (including giants, dragons, neothelids, sea monsters, mobogos, and the like) bowed before her. Pressing the central button, as before, caused some Thassilonian writings to glow softly ("And so do the mighty Architects serve eternal," it said) before the door opened on a giant-sized hall.
As they proceeded cautiously, the flames in crystal balls that were suspended from the ceiling revealed the other end of the hall, where a stone throne was raised on a dais. A cave giant was sitting on the throne, two large lizards sprawled on the floor beside her, next to half a dozen treasure chests. As she saw the Pathfinders, she stood up and screamed, her booming voice echoing through the chamber: "You dare enter my throne room, little mortals! If you kneel to me now, I, Sorshen, shall call off my pets and eat only one of you!" But the pets did little of that and my agents quickly decided to deal with both the monitor lizards and this obviously crazed cave giant. An impervious Viv coldly mentioned that she didn't take kindly to impostors in her domain, casting a death sentence on the giant. As the Pathfinders carved their way through the lizards, the cave giant hurled many of the chests on them. To the Pathfinders horror, these were full of bits of rotting flesh. In reply, fireballs were hurled while the screams of "Kneel, little mortals, I am SORSHEN!" were echoed by Viv's icy comments on the short lifespan the giant had left. The fight soon transformed into a battle of titan as a raging, mutagened Draco reached the towering cave giant. Powerful blows replied to other powerful blows and, after every attack, it seemed one of the two opponents would be cleft in half. Yet, they stood, until the barbarian had the last word and literally skewered the giant with one particularly powerful blow of his lucerne hammer.
While Nasim was rummaging through the bits of rotten flesh to find at least something of value (and he did for one of the chests contained the cave giants treasures), the rest of the Pathfinders found an intriguing consecrating platinum plate behind the throne. It read:
A gift for my Mistress Sorshen from her humble servant Ayandamahla, dedicated this celebrated day, the 25th anniversary of her ascension to rulership in Eurythnia. Present—Runelord Sorshen, Ayandamahla and her daughters Ashamintallu and Erixadallax, Lord & Lady of the Burning Bright, the Sisters of Charming & Delectation, and the Baron of Calamities, along with all slaves, servants, and supplicants in this, the Lady’s Light. May she reign unchallenged forever.
The ramifications of this discovery were unclear but would prove very valuable to my agents later on (proving the usefulness of cautiously searching for clues in a dungeon, any dungeon!). Viv nevertheless remembered that Eurythnia was a former Thassilonian province, and she even ventured it could have been Sorshen's. Of course, she was right, as we all know. They pried the plate from the wall so it could be consigned in the archive and listed in the Chronicles.
A thorough search for secret doors, including through the use of their wand of detect secret doors, revealed no exit from this room, so the group went back to the boat and proceeded further down the underground river. As the river narrowed, the Pathfinders could see the natural walls of the chamber had been carved with multiple alcoves that hosted manacled humanoid bodies in advanced stages of decomposition. Despite Viv's temporary visions, the skeletons were no threats, but the two giant undead bats that assaulted them certainly were! These skavelings almost proved to be the group's undoing. Squeezed on a boat, their movements limited with only Laslo able to fly, the undead monstrosities played with the Pathfinders' lives. Nasim's cunning use of a web spell was able to stall the creatures for a moment, but not long enough to make it a significant advantage. Soon, the rocking boat made any movement or casting of a spell difficult, especially after Draco's fall in the water that threatened to topple the boat entirely. Laslo's new ability to fly seemed a boon at first as he was able to reach the skaveling, but he quickly realized that he was no match to their paralytic assaults. Although their curse did not overtake him, he soon retreated after a particularly nasty bite, barely alive. The bats flyby attacks on Nasim and Viv were deadly and, although they both tried all they could to damage the undead, their options were limited since Nasim's scimitar was very inefficient against them, and Viv's Asmodean channeling completely ineffective. Eventually, Draco swam to one of the alcoves in the wall and, grabbing the rock he always carried with him, he hurled it at one of the skavelings, seriously damaging it. From there, the tides turned and the four companions were eventually able to destroy the flying monstrosities of another age. It had once again been very difficult and it was clear that my Pathfinders hadn't been prepared for such powerful flying enemies. Yet, every one of these failures is steeped with experience and mistakes that shan't be repeated.
The walls' alcove contained only the dead manacled bodies, and nothing of value, so my agents proceeded forward downriver to soon reach another gigantic underground lake. Phosphorescent lichen and fungus clung to the stalactites above, reflected by the waters below to make walls of the cave dance with a pearlescent shimmer. Soon, all the companions started hearing seductive whispers in their mother tongue, just at the edge of their perception. An overwhelming sense of need and longing quickly pounded in the Pathfinders' chests and they felled compelled to undress and dive into the lake, towards its northeastern edge. Viv and Draco resisted but both Nasim and Laslo started undressing like clockworks. In the boat, with his two companions, Nasim was restrained by Draco before it was too late and bound by a rope, but the flying Laslo was out of reach of his companions. As he dived into the lake, two giant moray eels that dwelt there must have figured he would make for a tasty snack as they quickly attacked. Chaos replaced any sense of strategy when the only two sensible heroes did all they could to help the magically compelled Laslo. Draco dived into the lake to wrangle one of the moray eels and, as the second one had latched onto Laslo and was quickly killing it, Viv went as far as to play bait in front of the giant fish (and almost died in the process!). They eventually overcame the animals and the sorry band paddled to a small cave and a shore of white sand to the northeast. Nasim, who had almost succeeded in freeing himself from his bounds was secured again, along with Laslo, by a rather irritated Draco.
From the beach of white sand opened two natural tunnels, but the Pathfinders took the time to heal with infernal healing before they let the compulsion run its course and take Nasim again. To their surprise, he didn't dive into one of the tunnels, but started scratching one of the cave's walls. Paying more attention to this wall, my agents found a secret door that led into a simple, tiled room harboring crude fishing implements. A single, closed door exited this room. Opening it, the Pathfinders reached quarters where half a dozen Gray Maidens, the first ones they encountered in the Lady's Light, were playing cards at a large table. Multiple crates were scattered around in the room.
As the Gray Maidens reached for their weapons, the Pathfinders were quick to react and, employing their now usual deception, Viv pretended to be the Runelord of Lust. The effect was immediate on the Korvosan mercenaries and the bluff worked. The Gray Maiden asked "Sorshen" when they would be ready to march on Korvosa, explained that a certain Quenelle had come up with detailed plans of invasion. They seemed very eager to take back the former city of Queen Ileosa, but Viv was able to talk her way out of this situation. Or so it appeared until one of the Gray Maidens asked the Asmodean cleric when they would be given the magical shields they were promised. Although the fake Sorshen did find the question a little fishy, she decided to play along and fell for the trick question. A brutal fight ensued during which the Pathfinders efficiently dispatched the group of Gray Maidens. Despite their qualities, the mercenaries were no match to the skilled, and well-trained, Pathfinders. In a single blow, Nasim could swiftly severe one of the Maiden's head while Draco and Laslo would savage two others, and Viv would wreak havoc in their ranks through the channeling of the fiery tentacles of Hell. The mercenaries did not respond to calls of surrender and three of them bled to death before they could be stabilized by the Pathfinders. The job done, Nasim rifled through their possessions and the many crates, neatly stacking the many full-plate armors and weapons in a corner of the room for a later pick up.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 39 (a critical hit from a skaveling's bite on Laslo).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 52 (Draco raging, mutagened, power attacking scoring a critical hit on Mochtau the Cave Giant with his lucerne hammer).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 17 (Nasim with a shocking grasp on a Gray Maiden).
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XII
Lamashan 16, 4712 AR (continued)
The group took the time to tie up the unconscious Gray Maidens and hide them in the side bedrooms, along with the bodies of the mercenaries who hadn't survived the encounter with my agents. Taking the time to rest for a few minutes before they furthered their exploration of the Lady's Light, the Pathfinders were taken by surprise by a group of another four Gray Maidens who burst forth from a steamy bathroom, directly connected to the barracks. Driven, the mercenaries fought to the death. They did not renounce their assaults despite Viv's offer of peace. Either they were well indoctrinated, or they were fanatical, or both.
Weary after their latest ordeals, the Pathfinders decided to rest for a little longer before they pushed into the corridors ahead. The rested for at least for long enough so that the alchemists could cook up more of their concoctions, and for Viv to peruse the large bath of scented, clean water. While she did so, apparently oblivious to the bath's location at the heart of the Lady's Light, her companions sure took this opportunity to ogle at her perfect new body.
From the steamy bathroom, the Pathfinders left the door to the south and decided to progress further west. They soon entered a gallery decorated with another set of four statues of Sorshen, with a Thassilonian engraving at their feet:
"By my touch may you enter the shining glory of my inner sanctum."
Three gold platforms were interspersed through the room, and the central one showed the clear marks of use and wear. Focussing his detect magic on that platform, Nasim noticed a strong aura of conjuration magic that led the group to venture that they were, once again, in the presence of another teleportation device. As they decided to follow the plaque's instructions, and in turn touched the hand of each statue, all three platforms turned brighter and brighter. Once they grew no brighter, the Pathfinders hopped on the central platform. But as soon had Laslo stepped on it that he disappeared and the platforms reverted to their original dull gold color. The magic had apparently reset itself automatically and it took the good fraction of a minute for Draco, Viv and Nasim to light the platform again, and again, and again so they could be teleported as well.
In the meantime, Laslo reappeared in an opulent chamber, its domed ceiling a fresco in the image of a starry night sky, eerily similar to the night sky he gazed at on dark night. The constellations, however, looked deformed and sometimes even unrecognizable. Could this be the Varisian sky of another era? He had no more than an instant to think about it before four monstrosities assaulted him. Sinspawns of lust, the creatures that attacked him with their guisarms had the deadly efficiency of Thassilon, with a sensuality that even their monstrous face could not rescind.
The fight was tough but, with Draco's eventual arrival and help, Laslo survived, even though he could barely stand when the two companions finally overcame the beasts of Thassilon. They were soon joined by the other Pathfinders and, after spending the time to heal themselves, they proceeded through a side corridor. Within a minute, the group entered a gigantic ballroom like they had never seen before. The pillars that held the ceiling were carved in the guise of trees, the ceiling itself painted to represent the night sky seen through the trees' foliage. However, what made the Pathfinders hold their breaths was the large crowd of aristocrats dancing to tunes of another age in front of Runelord Sorhen. Runelord Karzoug himself could be spotted in a corner of the ball room!
As the Pathfinders stopped dead in their tracks, Sorshen clapped her hands and started addressing the crowd, her voice seductive and penetrating:
Oh my sweet subjects. Now is the time for us to enjoy the succulent fruits of our labor. I give you license to indulge your appetites, every unexpressed libidinous impulse, for by such indulgences you honor me. Those who would interfere with this sacrament are like the blind chastising the sighted for looking with pleasure upon a rainbow. Why, some in our midst this very moment actively work against us—obstacles between us and the indulgence of our passions. Behold the cold and bloodless prudes who even now stand before us!
All faces turned to the Pathfinders, their expressions a mixture of contempt and disgust. Runelord Karzoug raised an accusing finger at them and yelled venomously: "The proper place for those without the Inner Fire is the grave! Come, let us drag them there!" At his command, the crowd surged forward, a roaring angry mob that threatened to quickly overwhelm my agents. Their reactions varied, between Draco's frantic gobbling of a shield extract, Laslo's retreat, and Viv's suspicious impression that they might be facing an illusion. An illusion it was indeed and, by the time the crowd reached them, the group had realized so, but they were now scattered through the room. A very real dretch appeared out of thin air, in the middle of the room. Although puny, the demon took the group by surprise and his swift casting of a stinking cloud indisposed both Laslo and Nasim, who, vomiting their latest meal on the beautiful marble floor, could be of little help to Viv and Draco when more fiendish spiders started appearing in the room.
As Draco did his best to slaughter the creatures, Nasim and Laslo what they could to stay out of danger, Viv started intently looking around as she suspected an invisible summoning caster was in their midst. She focussed all her attention on her surroundings and heard faint incantations in a corner of the room, next to the ceiling. Reacting quickly, she channeled the unholy powers of Asmodeus into this area, to little apparent effect. If she hurt something, or someone, the invisible creature's incantation nevertheless succeeded and another dretch appeared. The vile demon added more foulness to the battlefield as it conjured another stinking cloud which, thankfully, had little effect on Viv.
The caster finally revealed herself in her beautiful horror as she teased Viv: "You want to play this game? Let us play this game, then, it'll be enjoyable too," murmured the lustspawn sorceress as she blasted both Laslo and Viv with her wand of lightning bolt. With both Laslo and Nasim incapacitated, Draco hacking his way through the crowd of summoned creatures, Viv was left alone to fight the sorceress of Thassilon. If some of her spells did bypass the creature's magical resistance, her channelling and fireballs were not too efficient in scaring off the lustspawn. Besides, despite Viv's best attempts at staying out of reach, the creature landed just before her and almost hacked her to pieces with a quick succession of thrusts with her guisarme. Favoring survival, the cleric of Asmodeus collapsed on the ground, pretending to be dead so she still has a sliver of hope to pray on her survival.
By then, Nasim and Laslo have finally shrugged off the adverse effects of the stinking cloud and they took up the mantle, bringing the fight to the lustspawn. Draco soon joined them after he decided to abandon the surviving dretch to help his friends. A final lightning bolt from the sinspawn almost killed Laslo but Nasim's arrows and Laslo's claws eventually overcame the very attractive creature of Thassilon.
That had been a close shave with Pharasma, and everyone was suffering from numerous cuts, burns, or other gaping wounds. Viv stood with difficulty as a round of healing was in order. A long debate ensued on whether the Pathfinders should rest, and where they should do so. Their resources were almost entirely tapped, but the attack in the middle of their previous rest was still very present in their minds. The large ballroom in which they currently were seemed to be a dead end and the group was about to rest there when Laslo spotted a secret door. In order not to be surprised by threats coming through it, my agents decided to send the sneaky Laslo to explore through the door. Unfortunately, he quickly came back to report that a group of Gray Maidens, obviously aroused and ready to face an assault, waited behind the only door in the antechamber behind the secret entrance.
The Pathfinder decided to postpone their rest and to confront the Gray Maidens. Despite the attitude of the previous groups of Gray Maidens they had encountered, my agents resolved to convince the mercenaries of their friendly attitude. At first, Viv posed as Sorshen and the Maidens died not see through the bluff. Viv grasped this opportunity and isolated herself with the officer leading this group of Gray Maiden, Quenelle Page. The former aasimar did her best to convince the officer that the Sorshen they were following was not the true Runelord, that they had been deceived, that she herself was but someone with only the appearance of the Runelord of Lust. Didn't Quenelle remember the hollow statue in the tunnels guarded by the boggards, the statue Viv thought had spawned the succubus (or some other creature) that now pretended to be Sorshen? If the officer seemed to believe Viv and pushed to gather the troupe of mercenaries and lead them upstairs to confront the "fake" Sorshen, the Asmodean saw through Quenelle's bluff. Once back in the main room with her underlings, Quenelle tried to sneakily convey a message to her companions, failed miserably, even though its intent was clear to the Pathfinders. In a sudden twist of roles, Viv turned to the other Gray Maidens and, embodying Sorshen in full, she used all the authority she could muster to convince the mercenaries that their leader has gone mad and that Quenelle should be seized. Yet, here as well, the bluff failed and, as Viv's trick was not very convincing, a massive fight between ten Gray Maidens and the Pathfinders ensued…
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 18 (Charuka, the sorcerer lustspawn on Viv).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 7 (Charuka, the sorcerer lustspawn attacking Laslo with a lightning bolt).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 86 (Draco raging, mutagened, power attacking scoring a critical hit with his hammer on a summoned fiendish spider).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 12 (Viv with a channel energy on a summoned spider).
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XIII
Lamashan 16, 4712 AR (continued)
The fight with the group of Gray Maiden led by Quenelle Page turned into a bloody mess. At first, the element of surprise seemed in favor of my agents. Viv's fireballs did damage many of the clumped mercenaries, and Laslo's cunning idea of turning invisible before they met the Gray Maidens meant he could attack the officer from the stealth of invisibilty. But the ruthless efficiency of the Korvosans, combined with Draco's and Nasim's long preparation, as well as a few misguided assaults, soon overwhelmed the Pathfinders. Laslo had to vanish back towards invisibility under the attacks of Quenelle, almost dying in the process. Draco and Nasim were back against back, standing their ground as best they could despite the blood on the floor rendering it slippery. But even the enlarged barbarian was soon overcome and left his companion fight alone. Viv, starved of powerful spells, had to resort to fire bolts against the two Gray Maidens who had followed her into the adjacent room.
In the end, it was Quenelle almost killing Laslo, and leaving him for dead, invisible, that proved the Gray Maidens' undoing. Sneaking behind the mercenaries, the barely standing Ustalavian took the time to partly heal himself before he brought half of the still-standing Maidens down in a flurry of unexpected (and lethal) claws. The officer resisted a little longer but, finally, she was as unconscious as all the Gray Maidens still alive, except for one, Helanda Martien, who surrendered after the fall of her leader.
The Pathfinders were exhausted, bloodied by many cuts, their magic expanded, but they had survived once more against impossible odds. Dragging the surviving, unconscious Gray Maidens, my agents retreated to the grand ballroom, whose illusion had now faded away. They tied their prisoners to the pillars of the room and interrogated them. The soldiers appeared to know little else than the fact that their leader, Oriana, had led them to find treasures and valuables in the Lady's Light, only to stumble on Runelord Sorshen. The Lady had quickly overcome them, but she seemed to have liked Oriana's idea of Korvosa needing retaking, and the current weak leaders replaced by a new, strong leader, the strong leader Queen Ileosa had been until she was toppled, just shy of four years ago. Joining their forces, the Gray Maidens were now waiting, honing their battle plans and scheming their assault on the large Varisian city until Sorshen would trigger the assault.
The fanatical Quenelle, on the other hand, was not very helpful as it seemed she could only reply in spite to the gentle questions of my Pathfinders. She even got to the end of Viv's patience who, exasperated, turn to her companion barbarian: "Draco, knock her unconscious. She's boring me know." Taken aback and uncertain, the barbarian replied: "With what, my hammer?" "With whatever you want" was the only answer. "Cool!" he concluded before moving closer to Quenelle Page…
The resting period unfolded calmly as the first Gray Maiden attempted to be a pest was quickly knocked out.
Lamashan 17, 4712 AR
(The PCs rise to level 7)
Draco: Male human (Varisian) alchemist (vivisectionist) 1/barbarian (invulnerable rager) 6
Laslo: Male tiefling alchemist (beastmorph, vivisectionist) 7
Nasim: Male tielfling magus 7
Viv: Female human (pureblooded Azlanti) cleric (theologian) of Asmodeus 7
That morning… or was it the afternoon? My agents were incapable of figuring it out after spending such a long period of time underground.
Nasim, Draco, and Laslo woke to partial paralysis. The latter two were able to easily shrug it off, but the Qadiran remained stiff, even after flexing his muscles. They had contracted ghoul fever the day before, either from the ghouls which had attacked them while they were resting, or from the bites of the skavelings. A minor inconvenience, but Laslo did all he could to heal his companions and himself. A few extra lesser restoration spells from a wand helped Nasim recover his full abilities.
Leaving the Gray Maidens there, gagged and attached to the pillars, the Pathfinders carried on. A quick inspection of the room they had fought in revealed battle plans of the retaking of Korvosa. Much thought had obviously been put in these and they showed important weaknesses of the Korvosan defences that only insiders would know of. These plans would clearly fetch a high price from the Korvosan authorities… or from the Magnimarian ones, always eager to know more about the weaknesses of their rival city. The plans were pocketed and the decision of who to sell these to would be made later.
My agents followed the indications of the Gray Maidens and climbed the stairs which were encircling the wide, central pillar of the room. The climb was long but they finally reached a single circular room with eight alcoves. Seven of them contained black marble statues of the seven runelords. The eighth one contained nothing. On the floor, a Thassilonian inscription led my Pathfinders to believe they were facing another riddle. Although hard to make sense of, Viv and Nasim agreed that it read: "She who desires to ascend the Lady’s Light must first deign to embrace the Lady and the Lie." Who the Lady was was obvious, but it was Nasim who first noticed how incongruous it was for the statue of Karzoug, the runelord of Greed, to be offering the gift of a golden rose. Embracing the statue of Sorshen, and then that of Karzoug, produced a golden mist into the eighth alcove. In quick succession, the Pathfinders jumped into it, hoping for the best, and were spirited away.
They appeared in two separate groups, in two similar rooms, but quickly reunited in a central chamber harboring two mosaics of coiling serpents, wheels sticking out of them. Before they tried to figure our the mechanism and usefulness of the mosaics, Viv opened a side room, only to be faced with a Gray Maiden wearing richer gear than they had seen so far. Her "Oriana, I presume?" was met by a staggered step back, before the leader of the Gray Maiden charged forward, screaming: "You'll never play your tricks on me again! Never! I will die here before I become your slave again!"
Ensued a confusing fight during which Viv was doing her best to convince Oriana that they were not her enemies, through magic and then, failing, through words; Nasim was trying to fry the Gray Maiden officer to be safe rather than sorry; and Draco was trying his best to immobilize her. If Nasim's greasing of Oriana's sword partly removed her teeth, his magical assaults certainly didn't help Viv's diplomacy, and the hulking barbarian's grappling attempts were easily countered off by the nimble fighter would even succesfully disarmed Draco and stole his hammer. All the while, Laslo was raising his hands in the air, hoping sense would come to everyone. Eventually, as Oriana was even resisting Viv's attempts at healing her from Nasim's assaults, the cleric cast her shield aside and told the Gray Maiden that she was at her mercy. Oriana did seize this opportunity to strike at her enemy, twice, but, with no reaction from the Asmodean cleric but groans of pain behind her gritted teeth, she surrendered to the truth that Viv was not Sorshen. Oriana collapsed on the ground, in tears and expecting to be put through the sword.
The cleric of Asmodeus took the time to console Oriana and explain to her what they thought was happening: that a succubus had taken over the rulership of the Lady's Light and pretended to be the Runelord of Lust. As she took in the news, the eyes of the Gray Maiden leader grew wide, and lit with a sliver of hope. She quickly offered her help in dealing with the usurper. The Pathfinders accepted the offer as even Oriana's honesty as she condoned Queen Ileosa's rule and the toppling the current, weak rule of Korvosa so the city would not become Cheliax's puppet couldn't convince them that she was evil, simply pragmatic.
Oriana showed the group how they could operate the wheels tied to the serpent mosaic to teleport them to Sorshen's boudoir, where "Sorshen" was spending most of her time. Having been hit by a dispel magic as they entered this level, the Pathfinders decided not to burden themselves with too much protective magic lest it was all for naught. And so they teleported themselves into their enemy's chamber, feeling the tug of the [/i]Shard of Lust[/i], ever closer.
Sorshen was standing next to a grand bed on which laid the brittle, desiccated body of a naked Gray Maiden. The Lady herself was wearing nothing but diaphanous robes, a few potions and a wand at her belt, and had a tall guisarme hooked to her back. As she saw the intruders, she smiled. "Oh, this is a delicious surprise! Greetings, new supplicants, you’ve arrived just in time. My latest lost her allure when she lost her life. Perhaps you can keep me entertained a bit longer?" Seeing Oriana, she even added: "Oriana, my love, this is unexpected. Am I to take your return to my boudoir as indication you’ve had a change of heart after our previous… conversation?" The Gray Maiden blemished under the smile of the runelord, but the words only steeled the Pathfinders' resolve. As she stepped forward, Viv called to Sorshen and challenged her: "You are not Sorshen, the runelord of Lust. But who are you? Ayandamahla? Ashamintallu? Erixadallax? Who ever you are, this will be the end of you."
At the mention of Ashamintallu, "Sorshen" visibly lost part of her confidence and smug attitude. However, that didn't prevent her from casting the powerful confusion spell in the midst of my agents. Spells flew in retaliation, but much of the damage had already been done: Draco and Nasim were locked in a deadly dance of death, while Oriana, unable to resist the powerful magic yet again snaking through her mind and dominating her emotions, collapsed on the group, and repeatedly attempted to kill herself.
Although Viv resisted the multiple mental assaults of Ashamintallu, she was alone in her combat against the creature. Laslo's weak help turned to a threat as confusion overcame him as well. In the end, it is Ashamintallu's overconfidence as she clearly toyed with Viv that enabled my agents to survive. Hurt, not as fresh as just a minute before, Ashamintallu triggered her wand and disappeared, fleeing through a dimension door.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 18 (Quenelle Page, damaging Draco with her longsword).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 7 (Ashamintallu, with a fireball engulfing Viv).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 22 (Laslo clawing a Gray Maiden with a sneak attack).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 27 (Nasim, sizzling Ashamintallu with a shocking grasp).
- Draco (-5), in the fight against the Gray Maidens
- Nasim (-8), hammered by a confused Draco in the fight against Ashamintallu
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We finished Curse of the Lady's Light two sessions ago so I'm trying to catch up with the journal so I don't have too many entries waiting to be written.
We're skipping The Asylum Stone completely because I wasn't convinced by the scenario and I don't think it would have worked with our group. There's just too many random encounters crammed together in the second and third dungeon. Besides, I felt that the campaign wasn't spending enough time in Magnimar for the PCs to care about it in book 6. So I'm replacing the third chapter by the module No Response From Deepmar, and a chapter from the Age of Worms adventure path (the Champion's Belt).
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The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XIV
Lamashan 17, 4712 AR (continued)
Ashamintallu gone, there weren't many options but to continue the exploration of the Lady's Light until my Pathfinders could secure the Shard of Lust, hunting the alu-demon as they were going along. Only the gods knew where Ashamintallu had fled, or whether she was even still in the Thassilonian dungeon. My agents were worried, however, that she could have gone for reinforcements so, after a little time to let the final effects of the confusion spells wear off, the group swiftly moved on with the magic of infernal healing[ slowly closing their wounds.
Oriana whispered a quick prayer for the soul of her dead companion, Martena, and gathered the pieces of her armor for her funeral, when time would be right. A steely resolve washed over her. In the meantime, the Pathfinders figured that a couple of large amber gems found near the bed were the keys to use the teleporters out of this room. They activated the southern teleporter and hopped on it…
… to reappear in what was quite obviously a treasury. And there it was. Singled out on a lonely shelf, the Shard of Lust awaited. Laslo, who the group had decided would carry this Shard, lurched forward. In a foolish attempt to feel the full power of the artifact, he only tossed above his head the ioun stone that I had given them. He sure did feel the full brunt of the fragment of the Sihedron's magic. As the curse washed over him, he eyed Viveltre in the barely dressed body of Sorshen, his expression turning sleazy, and he started removing his armor which was sacrilegiously covering his body. Laslo's companions focussed most of their attention on the treasure they had uncovered: gems, many magical items, and even Ashamintallu's spellbook, which seemed to double as a journal of sorts.
All at their discoveries, little did they notice the waft of a sulfuric stench breeze through the room. When the incubus appeared out of thin air, they were slow to react. A second later, when Ashamintallu appeared on the teleporter, they knew they were in deep trouble. For the fraction of an instant, it was as if time had stopped, then the chamber exploded in magic and the clash of arms. The incubus charged Viv while Ashamintallu's confusing magic once again overcame Draco, Nasim, and Oriana. The unarmored Laslo, having just ensconced the ioun stone in the Shard retrieved part of his sanity and, joining the alu-demon close to the roof, he charged her with his claws… to little avail: Ashamintallu was protected by some kind of defensive magic. In the meantime, Viv was doing what she could with the few spells she had left, casting burning hands on the incubus, to no result given the demon's resistance to fire.
Draco, Nasim, and Oriana were locked in a deadly embrace that Viv was able to break with a clever use of her spiritual weapon: bluffed the Qadiran into thinking Ashamintallu was responsible for the attacks of the spiritual weapon. Despite this, neither him, nor Laslo were really able to do much to her. Laughing at their feeble attempts, the fake Sorshen was unleashing magic missiles after enchantment spells on the poor Laslo who, luckily, resisted most of her more subtle magic. But things were turning sour nevertheless, and fast. The incubus's scimitar was slicing through Viv's defenses, Oriana and Draco were engaged in a war of attrition, Nasim wasn't quite himself, and Laslo's life was leaving him with each assault of the alu-demon's vampiric claws.
Conferring in Infernal, Laslo and Viv decided their survival was in fleeing. Already, Viv's retreat closer to the teleporter had left Draco the only target of the incubus and he quickly fell under the combined assaults of the demon and the confused Oriana. It was clear they would not come out of this fight victorious. Nothing could be done for poor Draco, laying in a growing pool of his own blood, yet they thought there was still some hope for Nasim, despite his confusion: as Viv dashed through the teleporter, Laslo attacked the Qadiran before doing the same. In the magus's confused mind, Laslo became the enemy and he jumped on the teleporter behind the Ustalavian. The pool of Draco's blood grew even larger as his last breath left him.
Barely a few seconds after retreating in Sorshen's boudoir where they had first encountered the fake runelord, Ashamintallu appeared on the fleeing Pathfinders' tails. It seemed there was no escape… At least the incubus had not followed, likely dealing with poor Oriana in the treasure room. Ashamintallu started clearly toying with the remaining Pathfinders, taunting them and making it clear that the Shard belonged to her, that they wouldn't leave the Lady's Light with it. The flying Laslo faced the alu-demon in an attempt to protect Viv's retreat and to buy time for Nasim. The Qadiran disregarded the fake Sorshen, using his bow to try to kill his current enemy, Laslo. Luckily for the Ustalavian, the Qadiran's abilities with a bow were no match to his use of scimitars.
Desna be blessed for Ashamintallu's feeling of superiority as she didn't right away slaughter my agents. So cocky was she that Nasim soon recovered his mind and the three companions quickly decided they should flee further. Getting the help of the Gray Maiden wasn't an option anymore without Oriana, but if they could lure Ashamintallu away with the Shard, maybe they would be able to secretly retrieve Draco's body (and the treasure!). Nasim hasted everyone and they dashed through the next teleporter. They ran through the Thassilonian dungeon. Their magical speed, combined with additional magic (fly, expeditious retreat) soon left the alu-demon behind. At least three of them had survived! But they were not going to leave the body of their fallen companions behind…
They rushed through the ballroom (the Gray Maidens they had tied to the pillars of the room had had their throats slit in a gory display of savagery), the teleporters, the Gray Maidens barracks, to reach the beach on the border of the large underground lake. There, they regrouped, and considered options, of which there weren't many.
Eventually, the Pathfinder realized that they would not win a straight up fight with Ashamintallu and that the only way for them to retrieve Draco's body was for the group to split up. The fake Sorshen wanted the Shard? Then Laslo would bait her with it while Nasim and Viv would rush through the Lady's Light to, invisible, reach the treasure room. So they waited there, steeling their resolve, ready for the alu-demon. Less than five minutes later, their wishes were fulfilled for Ashamintallu stood at the entrance to the beach. Seething, she had abandoned all pretense at being the runelord of Lust; in her natural appearance, she resembled a beautiful woman with flawless skin but her darting red eyes, her pointed ears, the crimson horns protruding from her forehead, her tail, and her large bat-like wings linked her directly to her succubus heritage.
As soon as Ashamintallu appeared, Laslo shook the Shard at her: "You want it? Come and get it!" Mutated by his alchemist magic, he then dived into the lake and used his palmed feet to stay underwater as long as he could, break the lake's surface only when far enough from the more and more infuriated and frustrated alu-demon. She did attempt to dispel Laslo's mutations that allowed him to so efficiently stay underwater, but failed. Starved for spells, she could do little but wait for the Ustalavian to tire of this game over.
In the meantime, the invisible Nasim and Viv reached the treasury. There, Draco lied in a large pool of his own blood, and so did Oriana. What they hadn't quite envisaged was the presence of the incubus. This fight was violent but brief and, despite his elemental protections, the two heroes were able to overcome the demon. All they could find they shoved into the extra-dimensional bag they had found earlier, including Draco's and Oriana's body ("That armor must be worth quite a lot!" Nasim felt he should justify). Rushing down, they took the time to also gather all the Gray Maidens' armors and weapons that they had neatly stacked in the barracks.
Reappearing on the beach, Nasim and Viv used the wand of fly they had found on the lustspawn sorcerer to flee back up. Laslo was soon in tow, flying as well, enhanced by expeditious retreat, for once an aptly named spell. Ashamantillu, despite her demonic wings could not quite keep up and quickly faded in the background. Yet, as they reached the exit from the Lady's Light—the sarcophagus room where Viv's conscience had been transported into Sorshen's clone— there she waited for the Pathfinders, Ashamintallu who had again teleported as my agents fled.
Without spells, the alu-demon attacked the remaining three companions with her guisarme and her claws. The Pathfinders did resist and stood their ground for a little bit, hoping that the demon wasn't as powerful in melee, but it was soon clear that this was more wishful thinking than reality. Acrobatically jumping and flying around, they all dived upwards through the shaft that led them back to the tunnels under the Lady's Cape. They were hoping that Ashamintallu was tied to the Lady's Light and that she wouldn't be able to follow them. Although they would later realize their mistake in this regard, the alu-demon in fact didn't track them. My Pathfinders were free again! They had retrieved the Shard and, if Draco had valiantly died in the process, that would only be a temporary setback. Their delving in the Lady's Light had been a wonderful success and we are now one step closer to reforging the Sihedron!
My agents briefly stayed with the troglodytes, said their farewells to Maroux the witch (without the presence of the transformed Viv to avoid suspicion), and headed back to Magnimar. The trip back was eventless and gave them the opportunity to read the journal/spellbook of Ashamintallu: if the powerful alu-demon isn't tied to the Lady's Light, the Thassilonian monument has been hers since her mother, Ayandamahla, discovered a way to use her daughter as a surrogate of sorts, forcibly passing on the effect of her binding to the Lady's Light. However, that doesn't prevent the alu-demon from roaming the Lady's Cape on dark nights. Throughout the centuries, it seems Ashamintallu was almost able to convince herself that she was the Sorshen herself. I worry about the dangers of her reverting back to her true form, and the devastating effect of my Pathfinders assault on her fictitious realm. I will make sure that we keep an eye on the Lady's Cape in case the alu-demon finds a way to roam the world.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 17 (an incubus attacking Viv with his mwk scimitar).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 17 (Ashamintallu, with a magic missile against Laslo).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 20 (a confused Draco on a confused Oriana, power attacking with her +1 longsword ).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 32 (Viv, destroying an incubus with an inflict critical wounds spell).
Dead: a [confused Draco (-24) hacked by an incubus and a confused Oriana
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Thanks Monrail. :)
I got sidetracked by a lot of work-related trips to the various corners of the world, and games in-between. I have a lot to catch up on: we skipped the Asylum Stone and I replaced these with No Response From Deepmar and The Champion's Belt (chapter 5 of the Age of Worms campaign). That's all of these 6 sessions that I need to write up as we just started the Doomsday Door last week.
I hope to have more time in the upcoming month to catch up on the campaign journal, so stay tuned!
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Spoilers for the Pathfinder module No Response from Deepmar, and the Age of Worms chapter Champion's Belt. I figured the Asylum Stone wouldn't work for my group (too varied, lacking a well-defined theme) so I replaced it with the module and the Age of Worms chapter. Be warned if you plan on playing these two!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XV
Lamashan 17-19, 4712 AR
It took two days for my agents to make their way back to Magnimar. Few words were exchanged during the journey as they were all still reflecting on their defeat and their brush with death. Draco's body, stored in the bag of holding, was a constant reminder that their so-far successful adventuring could end at any time in a dank dungeon. Sure, they had successfully recovered the Shard of Lust, but at what cost… They needed to be more careful next time, but their rising fame among the Pathfinders would mean that the Society would cover the costs of raising Draco from the dead. I take care of my agents and believe that the Society should support their explorers in dire times.
Lamashan 20-21, 4712 AR
My agents took a couple of days of well-deserved rest. That was needed to get Draco's raise dead ritual underway. There are not many clerics in Magnimar who are able to cast such a high circle spell but I was able to call on a favor from Jyronn Imikar, the leader of the city's church of Abadar. Draco was soon among us again, to everyone's relief. Sorting the old artefacts and the mundane treasures the Pathfinders had looted from Ashamintalu's lair, selling it, and restocking on upgraded equipment took the remainder of these two days.
When he focussed on the Shard of Lust, Laslo readily recognized the vision as one of the Serpent's Run, Magnimar's game arena! Where most of the Shards in our city!? Were there underground dungeons dwelling deep under the arena? I promised I would research further on its architecture. What was clear was that, with the upcoming yearly Champion's Games, the building would be difficult to infiltrate. Maybe the easiest solution would be for my agents to actually run for the title, this year, and for the Society to sponsor them! I know not everyone in Absalom would support this bold move but, in Magnimar, the Society is not as much a part of everyone's life as it is in Absalom and any recognition from the Magnimarian would be beneficial for our recruitment and daily endeavors.
Yes, I will sponsor our explorers, and we shall see what happens. Their mission will of course be to recover the Shard of Gluttony, but if they can promote the Society in the meantime, it would be wonderful. That will take some pulling of strings and some planning and should keep me busy for the next three week before the Games start.
In the meantime, I must admit that I had hit a wall while my agents had been dealing with the Curse of the Lady's Light: I couldn't find the ioun stone that was necessary to block the curse of the Shard of Gluttony. For some unknown reason, it appeared that communications had been severed with the Deepmar mines, to the north, near Diamond Lake. The mines crystals were among the only ones in the region to hold the remanent magic necessary for the crafting of ioun stones. I had sent Andel Gesseran, the scribe of the lodge, to investigate, but I fear the worse as he hasn't come back. The City Guard is also more and more worried about the situation. Although quite distant from Magnimar, the Deepmar colony is affiliated to the City of Monuments and it is its influence over the region that is at stake.
A meeting with Captain Kasadei of the City Guard confirmed the Guard was worried that another Hook Mountain Massacre could have taken place in Deepmar. Their wish to investigate this situation discretely led the Captain to hire my agents to solve the matter. Should they do so quietly and promptly, Kasadei promised 10,000 gp to my agents, and the crystal we need for the ioun stone. With a week's travel there, and another one back, they could almost benefit from a whole week in Deepmar to deal with whatever situation they would find there.
Lamashan 22-28, 4712 AR
The journey to Deepmar unfolded without difficulties. The attack from a couple of ogres was briskly repelled, one evening, and the group didn't linger in the gloomy mining village of Diamond Lake. They stayed there only long enough to grab a couple of pints at the Feral Dog, the local seedy tavern, and secure a boat to reach Deepmar on the other side of the lake. No one knew much about the mining colony, except that little had been heard from it for a while.
Lamashan 29, 4712 AR
It is in the afternoon of Lamashan 29, under a light but insidious rain that soaked everything, that the Pathfinder reached the Deepmar colony. Behind the wooden palisade, naught moved. A thorough search through the dozen building led to a few strange discoveries: it was as if everyone had just disappeared in the middle of a normal day, days ago. Food, now rotten, laid there on tables, along with game cards left there in the the midst of a game. A drop of dried blood here, a few crossbow bolts missing there, eaten chickens in the garden were the only signs of something being out of place. That, and the crazed and gigantic four-armed, white gorillion they found in the mess hall, bashing on the kitchen's door. Enraged, the monster did not let itself be calmed down by the Pathfinders who resigned to kill it. That was done quite easily as the dextrous Laslo and Nasim avoided the massive claws of the beast and Draco bashed it to death. Strangely, the brain of the burly girallion was protruding from its skull, showing signs of of tampering (something Laslo recognized right away, and an act he envied, being the good vivisectionist he is).
A cook hid in the kitchen. Although it was clear no one had lived in the colony for days (if not for a week or two), this poor woman seemed convinced that she had woken up from a normal night by the girallion banging on the door. She seemed to suffer from some kind of amnesia. Something strange was afoot, and the discovery of a hidden tunnel in the colony's garden didn't help understand what had happened, especially with the tunnel trapped and needed to be abandoned as it threatened to cave in.
Eventually the Pathfinders decided to explore the two mining sites that the colony was still exploiting, Stygia and Caina (some twisted mind had decided to name the mines from the layers of Hell, to Viv's assent). Maybe they had encounter something after digging too deep and too greedily? Questioning the whispering coin got the group to focus on the Caina dig site. There, the group proceeded to the bottom of the pit of the open mine, only to be engulfed in an explosion of crystal shards. Recovering and looking around, my agents found a dark, cold tunnel that led deep into the earth behind a large rock.
It took half an hour for the Pathfinders to reach the lair that awaited them at the end of the crack in the rocks. And this is when they understood what had happened to the Deepmar colony as, from the ledge on which they appeared, they could see a group of derros guarding a network of other tunnels, alongside a massive rock troll. Could it be that the miners had been kidnapped by derros? After the Crow, that was already the second time in less than a month that derros were spewed from the Darklands on Varisia. Is that the sign of an imminent Darkland invasion on our lands? Gods, do we need the Sihedron to defend ourselves!
But the Pathfinder didn't have time to dwell on these threats as they attacked the derro guards. While Laslo flew into the cave with Nasim, Draco jumping close behind them, Viv remained in the back to provide a healthy amount of artillery support with her fireballs. The one derro who fled was quickly caught up by Nasim and slaughtered before he could warn more of the small blue dwarves.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 8 (a girallion clawing Laslo).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 13 (Draco suffering from sassone leaf poison).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 30 (Laslo with a power attack, sneak attack on the girallion with a claw).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 22 (Viv's fireball on a derro guard).
Thanks Moonbeam! :)
The reasons behind writing from Sheila's point of view are numerous: I'm the GM and I didn't want to impersonate the PCs for fear of misrepresenting them, I felt a story without a narrator would have been too close to a session recap, and using Sheila means that I can use her position as a venture captain to more naturally add some background information to the story (for instance, her constant fear for the survival of Varisia).
Besides, the search for the Shattered Star is supposed to be chronicled in the Pathfinder Chronicles, so that all makes sense!
Spoilers for No Response from Deepmar!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XVI
Lamashan 29, 4712 AR (continued)
For once, the Pathfinder decided to explore the derro lair discretely. Laslo snuck forward, invisible. The tunnel — partly natural and partly carved — quickly led to a large cave that hosted a derro riding a gigantic centipede-like creature. Although it looked like the typical underground vermin, it drooled blue saliva and pulsated with an ominous blue light. Taken aback, Laslo made some noise that caught the attention of the rider. The Ustalavian still benefited from the magic of his invisibility extract and he retreated to his companions quickly enough to give them a heads up of a few seconds.
The group barely had time to prepare for the arrival of the cytillepede (for it was a cytillesh-enhanced giant centipede) and the derro reacted first to the encounter. In revolting Aklo, it ordered the vermin to flare a powerful flash of blue light that overtook the heroes. They could feel confusion take over them, twisting their mind. Yet they remembered how they had eventually overcome Ashamintallu's confusion and, with an extraordinary display of willpower, they all overcame the mind-affecting effect. (Action points be blessed!) Taken aback but the group's sudden resistance, the derro and its mount had very little time to react before my agents slaughtered them.
After taking the time to heal themselves, the Pathfinder proceeded forward, this time a little more cautiously. Their exploration led them through numerous empty tunnels. They explored these for only long enough to realize that they had to lead to the Darklands. I must say that this worries me tremendously. After Koriah's discovery of this new entrance to the Darklands in the Fogscar Mountains, after derros sneaking into the heart of Magnimar through the Darklands route found by my agents in the Crow, now this: another unknown access to the dark layers of the underground realm, and more derros aggressive enough to take over a whole colony! What is happening under Varisia? Are these signs of an untold army that awaits our failures just below the thin crust of the Inner Sea? Will the Darklands soon spew armies of drows in another attempt to destroy the surface world. Will a group of heroes raise to the task, this time as well? It's only been a few years since the drow masterminds almost crash an asteroid on the Inner Sea region. We cannot let our hopes in the hands of would-be adventurers this time. We need the Sihedron reforged so we can protect ourselves…
As they were exploring their way back to the uncharted tunnels close to the entrance of the lair, the group noticed crude graffitis on the wall. These depicted blue-skinned creatures holding swords and spears. Derros? Were these warnings or threats? While they were pondering this, my agents heard someone rambling in the dark recesses of the tunnel. There, they found a man, wearing little else than rags, showing clear signs of having been tortured. Seeing the Pathfinder, his grip tightened on his pick. Viv cautiously started a conversation with him but almost everyone quickly noticed that something was odd with this character; something more odd that his outside appearance. The man presented himself as Daris Hulior, an escapee, and asked the group to follow him further into the tunnel, were they would not fear being found by the derros.
The Pathfinders followed him, on their guard nonetheless, and that's why they weren't surprised when the crazed man jumped on Viv with his pick. Despite his physical strength, the man was no match to the combined assaults of the group, but that's when things took a grim turn… Out of the man's skull, a brain emerged, rapidly grew to the size of a dog, and skittered around on its four taloned legs. Nasim is the one who recognized the disgusting creature for what it was: an intellect devourer. Turning invisible, the creature was a nightmare for the Pathfinders to deal with. Confusing Draco, inflicting serious wounds on Viv, its magic and physical resistances proved too much for Nasim who was rendered close to useless. Laslo, who could have used his vivisectionist eye to damage it was hindered by the narrow corridor, and the confused Draco bashing his head on the wall, screaming and sobbing that he didn't want his mind to be tampered with again, unable to support the Ustalavian. Only Viv's channeling proved damaging to the aberration, but its assaults on her were taking their toll. Eventually, Draco escaped his haze and hit the walking brain very hard numerous times, giving Viv some respite and it is a final channeling of Hellish flames that rid the Inner Sea of this abomination. Nasim, grumbling, had to share his views that it was unfair the gods of Golarion and the Great Beyond had let such a creature roam the world, resistant to magic and physical damage. "It's just not fair," he added, pouting.
The intellect devourer had led them to a cul-de-sac, so the Pathfinders doubled back again, this time to take the tunnel that would lead them to the heart of the derros' lair. They left a cytillipede hatchery to the side so they could focus on finding the prisoners: the guards and miners of the colony. That would later hurt them as the hatchery master would call the whole derro tribe to fall on my agents. In the meantime, the Pathfinders entered a dark cave, attracted by moaning. Numerous pits, fifteen- to twenty-feet-deep held a group of maybe six prisoners.
Draco didn't have time to grab one of the nearby ladders that the prisoners' warning cries alerted the group to focus on a huge shadow that dwelt between the ceiling's stalactites. A gug, monstrous creature of the Darkland landed in front of Draco. Despite quickly imbibing an extract of enlarge person, the barbarian still looked puny next to the four-armed abomination, its head splitting open to reveal row upon row of slashing teeth. Nasim and Laslo tumbled above the pits to strategically surround the gug, but the creature only had eyes for Draco that it swiftly and savagely butchered. The barbarian fell unconscious… only the have his aegis of recovery heal him back to life. Viv further soothed his wounds with Asmodean magic. That was a close call… The fury of the creature paused everyone, but only for the fraction of a second. The four companions combined their efforts like they had rarely. The enlarged Draco hammered at the monster, Nasim danced around it like the dervish he was, Laslo sliced weak tendons, and Viv supported all of them from behind, healing her companions when they would falter. The gug eventually collapsed and, in the aftermath, the Pathfinders could free the prisoners.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 17 (a gug claw attack on Draco, critical hit).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 11 (the intellect devourer, with an inflict serious wounds on Viv).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 28 (Draco on the gug, power attacking, enlarged with his lucerne hammer).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 27 (Viv, channeling the intellect devourer to death).
Unconscious: Draco (-5) after bleeding from a critical claw attack from the gug
Spoilers from No Response From Deepmar!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XVII
Lamashan 29, 4712 AR (continued)
Now responsible for half a dozen freed prisoners, my agents decided to lead them to relative safety at the entrance of the derros' lair. However, before they could go very far, most of the tribe of blue dwarfs fell on them. The hatchery master they had let roam freely had gathered a large troop of derros that emerged from a side tunnel just as the Pathfinders were retreating. The initial cytillesh flash of the cytillepede wreaked havoc in the group: some of the prisoners collapsed on the ground, in tears, Laslo, utterly confused, started carving out their organs out of the neighboring prisoners, while the rest of them fled randomly in the neighboring tunnels. It was a mess, and the side tunnel kept on disgorging derro after derro until my agents were facing a good dozen of them.
Nasim and Draco secretly thanked the gods for the prisoners were distracting Laslo so they did not have to deal with him and could focus entirely on the cytillepede and its rider. Despite a deep bite wound on the barbarian's shoulder, they did a good job at it. In the meantime, Viv was spamming fireball after fireball in the narrow tunnel were all the derros had piled up. That turned out to be a fairly efficient tactic and even though some of the Darkland dwellers resisted Viv's magic, most of them suffered greatly at the Asmodean sorcery and collapsed on the ground, charred carcasses. Eventually, the crowd of derros was annihilated, and the cytillepede sawed into chunks of its former self.
By the time all was over and Laslo had recovered, unsure whether he should regret his actions or not, the couple of remaining prisoners had scattered. Luckily, they had either fled towards a dead end where a cage contained many aggressive zombies behind a gate and swiftly retreated or they had fled in another tunnel close to the entrance. Rushing after them, the Pathfinders emerged in a natural cave that had been transformed into some kind of laboratory, manned by three derros who were toiling over large cauldrons. One of these contained a large humanoid body, floating in a bubbling liquid. A wooden cage dangled above another cauldron, its six occupants other prisoners screaming at my agents to help them. The fleeing prisoner the companions had rushed after was standing at the entrance, paralyzed by inaction, unsure of what to do, but he had already caught the attention of the three derros experimenters.
As soon as he saw Laslo, the fleeing prisoner started screaming, one of the derros topple the cauldron with the body, the others shot their crossbows at the Pathfinders, and the caged prisoners cried at them to watch out for the dead body… which didn't move at all. The derros were no match to my now experienced agents, despite Draco mainly paying attention to the body… which still did not move. Was this some kind of joke? No, it wasn't, for only seconds later, it rose as an abomination: a flesh golem. Despite the construct's resistance to all things magical, Draco's furious focus and Laslo's well aimed attacks did the job and the golem was soon transformed back to the limbs that should never have been stitched together.
The Pathfinders freed these other prisoners, calmed down the surviving others, and led them to the ledge above the lair's entrance where it was expected they would be safer. Now my agents felt they needed to get to the bottom of this derro incursion on the surface and wipe this tribe from existence before it became too much of an issue for Varisia, and I can only commend them for this. So they went back the side tunnel all these derros had emerged from and investigated further. They quickly discovered the blue dwarfs' main living area. A small cauldron exuded a thick tangy smoke, the fire on which it stood casting a flickering light over the piles of furs that the derros slept in. Some of these were quite exotic, tanned from Darkland beast that one never sees on the surface of Golarion. They quickly found their way in my agents' bags of holding.
It is in the next cave that they encountered the leader of the derro tribe, a deranged (but aren't all derros?) wielder of arcane magic who was in the process of experimenting on a handful of victims manacled to a natural pillar in the center of the cave. Two of these already seemed dead, one of them her brain slowly leaking from her open skull. Another one, a crazed female half-orc still wriggled in her manacles as the derro sorcerer experimented on her. A captain wearing the livery of the Magnimarian wardens was following the derro around, like a dull-witted bodyguard. My agents would later learn that he was Captain Ashferth, responsible for the Deepmar colony. When my agents entered the cave, ready to deal with the Darkland threat, the sorcerer giggle, blessing some dark god in Aklo for bringing him more subjects to experiment on. But it was not to turn out so, to the best of the Pathfinder Society's future.
All hell broke loose very quickly. At the smell of battle, the crazy half-orc raged furiously and easily broke her manacles, taking on Nasim, vomiting nauseating phlegm on the Qadiran who quickly ducked. That would prove her undoing as a swift dance step brought Nasim to an advantageous position from which he unleashed all the magic he could muster. Coursing through his scimitar, the electricity of his shocking grasp entered the body of the half-orc, who literaly burst open under the onslaught of magical energy. In the meantime, the confused Magnimarian captain blocked Draco as the barbarian was on his way to assault the derro sorcerer. This combat was brief and, with the help of a nasty claw slice from an invisible Lazlo, the Draco subdued Ashferth who seemed to come to grip with his situation as pain vanquished him.
The derro, in the background, quickly got the company of the invisible vivisectionist's presence, and learned about it the hard way, but not before he was able to haste his minions. The next spell he tried to cast was disrupted by an overjoyed, invisible Laslo who could easily step up to the retreating sorcerer. Cornered, Draco and Viv threatening to join this fight, he attempted to sizzle them all in a lightning bolt, but his attempt fizzled under pressure. Viv now closed in to inflict serious wounds on the sorcerer, who was then swiftly put out of his misery but an enraged Draco. The Captain didn't budge as Nasim, angry and always suspicious, was paying very close attention to him.
This new Darkland threat was over, and that's hopefully the last one we have to deal with before we have the Sihedron reforged. I wonder what is happening below the crust of Golarion for these derro tribes to feel compelled to reach the surface…
A trap led from the derro sorcerer's experiment laboratory to his den. Besides some mundane and magic items, a large pile of Deepmar crystals was waiting to be brought back to Magnimar, where the ioun stones we needed would be crafted. The rest of the lair had little interest, but my agents took the time to scavenge anything of value. They also dealt with an infestation of phycomids, and destroying the caged zombies.
The surviving prisoners (sadly only about a third of the abducted miners and guards) were overjoyed to breath fresh air again and they deeply thanked my Pathfinders before these set back to Magnimar on a cart full of crystals, expectantly waiting the reward promised by Officer Kasadei.
(Leveling up to level 9)
Draco Don Zerba: alchemist (vivisectionist) 1/barbarian (invulnerable rager) 8
Lalso von Grigorovich Budinek: alchemist (beastmoprh, vivisectionist) 9
Nasim ibn Asad ibn Shahzad al-Fahim: magus 9
Viv Vanderale: cleric (theologian) of Asmodeus 9
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 27 (a critical bite attack from the cytillipede on Draco).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 30 (Laslo with a sneak attack claw attack on Captain Ashferth).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 62 (Nasim with a critical hit shocking grasp exploding Klangin).
OK, I finally caught up. It's really interesting to see how the adventure comes into play. I didn't realize that the Lady's Light was so deadly. Too bad Draco died, but I'm glad they were able to bring him back to life.
How is the group managing, healing-wise? Is it mainly through Viv's Infernal Healing spells? Or does she memorize some cure spells as well? Or via wands?
Funny you mention it, because I've almost caught up with your Skull & Shackles journal. ;)
It's the confusion effects that are deadly for the group. They very quickly tilt the balance between a reasonable fight of 4 PCs and 1 NPC against 1 major NPC into 2 PCs versus 2 PCs and 2 NPCs (more or less). At this level, though, I think it's also part of the fun to know one can die. With all the Prestige Points the PCs accumulate, a raise dead and a couple of restorations aren't that expensive. We also play with actions points that allow a player to add a d6 to a roll, or lower a crit by one multiplicative factor. They are quite handy for saves.
Later on, breath of life came in quite handy, and we just had our second PC death last week, in the Doomsday Door. But, again, it's only a small set back that should be solved with a word of recall and a raise dead.
As for healing, Viv has quite a few cure spells memorized, but most of the healing happens after combat with wands. All the group members can use wands (even Draco who has one level of alchemist), so they've all bought their own (infernal healing for Laslo and Nasim), and many wands of cure light wounds for Draco. I believe Viv uses her own magic, or taps the others' wands.
Spoilers for the Champion's Belt, chapter 5 of Age of Worms!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XVIII
(That's a long entry…)
Lamashan 29-Neth 5, 4712 AR
The journey back to Magnimar unfolded without difficulties. Although there were rumors of brigands preying on caravans on the roads to Magnimar, my agents were not delayed on their way back to the manor. I was very happy to see them after more than two weeks away, even more when I learnt that they had brought with them a shipment of the Deepmar crystals, so necessary for the forging of the remaining ioun stones we needed to restrain the curses of the Shards. I was even more proud when they told me of what had happened at the colony, and how their actions had once more saved Varisia of an unwelcome invasion. The fact that they had freed our scribe, Andel Gesseran among the derros' prisoners also relieved me quite a bit as, even though he was a Pathfinder and ready for the dangers of exploration, I was the one who had sent him to Deepmar, maybe ill-prepared. Officer Kasadei shared my delight and rewarded my agents appropriately for liberating the Deepmar Colony.
The Champions' Games would start two days later, on Wealday Neth 7th, which left us little time for preparations. If most of the Deepmar crystals would be retroceded to the City of Monuments, I right away withdrew from the sample what we needed to forge the remaining four ioun stones, as per our original agreement with Kasadei. I immediately sent Andel to bring the first batch of crystals to Toth Bhreacher, founder of the Golemworks, so he could get started on the pink rhomboid ioun stone needed to quell the curse of the Shard of Gluttony. It wouldn't be completed before the start of the Games but, as their sponsor, I would be allowed to visit my Pathfinders once a day and I would discretely bring the stone to them. That is, if all goes well and the prevail for more than a day or two.
Neth 6, 4712 AR
During the free day they had before entering the competition, the companions spread over Magnimar in search of the many peculiar items of magic they thought they needed for their future explorations and, more importantly, to survive the fights in the Serpent's Run. A whole day was not too much.
I heard that Viv had taken Laslo out for dinner, that night, in a very fancy restaurant of the Alabaster district. Although I've never been there myself, the chef is known for his experiences with very peculiar ingredients hailing from distant lands, going as far as to mix magic with his cooking. It must have been quite a treat for them, and quite a change from iron rations in damp, dark corridors, but when I saw Viv this evening, she was more frustrated than ever, cursing at men in general and how confused they must all be. I preferred to leave it at that and let a restful night soothe her, hopefully more than the Ustalavian had been able to.
Neth 7, 4712 AR
This was the day. The day I would put the Society's reputation on the line, in the hope to bolster our publicity and, at the same time, cover my agents' actions as they would attempt to discover the Shard of Gluttony. What could possibly await them under the Serpent's Run? And why, by the Gods, was the Shard hidden under the Arena?
But before they were to enter the competition, and struggle for the title with twenty-three other teams (including Auric's Warband, the champions of the previous two years), my agents would need to decide on their team's name. Somewhat appropriately, they decided to go for the Four Deadly Sins. What an ironic connection to the very reason they were daily struggling for their survival together. That left the issue of Viv, who could not possibly enter the arena with her true name, given that she now occupied Sorshen's body. Her uncanny mastery over all things fiery led her to chose Wildfire as her nom de guerre. Her growing tendencies of burning anything that dares upset her with magical fires worries me, but I have to admit that this name is very apt for gladiatorial games.
The dinner that would mark the start of the Champion's Game took place in the Serpent's Run itself and was truly magnificent. All twenty-four teams were invited to the event, along with their sponsors and many Magnimarian people of power. Of course I joined, bringing Koriah along as she wanted to wish our team the best of luck before departing for Deepmar to further investigate the group's recent discovery of underground tunnels to the Darklands. Mayor Grobaras was there too, along with many representatives of the City's main noble families. As was, of course, Jorston Droaeb, the dwarven Master of the Games who came by every team to wish them good luck, and Talabir Welik, the master of ceremony who, in the middle of the opening ceremony, took the stage to remind everyone of the rules of the Games: the battles are potentially lethal, but one can surrender at any time; attacking an opponent who has surrendered, or surrendering and then attacking an opponent is ground for immediate disqualification, as is doing anything that would hurt the crowd of spectators; flying is allowed, but only as high as the last row of spectators; burrowing into the sand of the arena, or moving into the walls are forbidden; a match persists until all members of a team have been rendered unconscious, or have surrendered; finally, winning gladiators are rewarded by prizes, but have no right to the spoils of the fallen. The gorgeous banquet accompanied by subtle Magnimarian wine, as well as the daring entertainment of a troupe of gifted Varisians made for a very enjoyable evening that was concluded by a pyrotechnics show mastered by Talabir Welik. With the final explosion of purples are blues, Droaeb's thunderous voice proclaimed The Champion's Games open!
The twenty-four gladiator teams were led underground to the levels below the arena while us sponsors were escorted back to the entrance of the Serpent's Run. Two levels below the arena's sand, the teams took quarter in the Coenoby, as small subterranean village organized in old ruins crammed into a large natural cave. My agents recognized some clear signs of Thassilonian architecture. The Coenoby were very busy, that evening, leaving little chance for a cautious and discrete exploration. The only other place they visited was another large cavern which also hosted ruins, these in worse shape, but clearly sized for much taller people than humans. The statue of a giant, covered in runes, stood over a small lake, maybe testimony to the original inhabitants of this cave.
Could these strange underground caves host the Shard of Gluttony? It was hard for my agents to investigate this evening, especially since they noticed quite a few couples escaping to these large ruins so they could discretely ebb the tension of the upcoming fights with intimacy. Viv nevertheless learned from a hopeful (and later disappointed) suitor attempting to impress her that the lake was artificial, the consequence of Droaeb himself blocking a now submerged passage so foul beasts would stay at bay. What foul beasts, and whether this was legend or truth, it was hard to judge…
Neth 7, 4712 AR
Day 1 of the Champion's Games
The first round of fights in the 4712 AR Champion's Games took place that morning, drastically bringing down the number of teams from twenty-four to six. Indeed, the day saw the succession of six free-for-all battles in which four teams faced each other. Although only the last team would proceed further, the complexities of having four teams in the arena led to numerous circumstantial alliances.
At breakfast, a sign posted near the kitchen announced that the Four Deadly Sins would battle the Arcane Auriga, a group of discrete elven archers who hailed from Kyonin, the Cinderlands Revenge, a couple of foul half-orcs from the Cinderlands, led by a wild man and his badger companion, and the Sapphire Squad, a group of riders from Qadira, overseen by a very noticeable and brash ifrit adept of the dance of the dervishes. The teams posted, my agents wasted no time at approaching the other groups for an alliance. Nasim went to the Qadiran and, although he was polite, their leader stayed distant, apparently miffed at having to talk to Nasim and not the beautiful Wildfire he had been eying since the previous evening. Viv herself had approached the elves and was able to secure a temporary alliance with them. Auriga and her cousins agreed to deal with the two other teams before turning to the Four Deadly Sins. The half-orcs and the wild man of the Cinderlands Revenge were so gruff that Draco and Laslo had absolutely no luck at even talking to them.
But the horn was already calling for their turn to enter the arena… In the past hour, the sound of epic battles had drifted to the Coenoby, yet it was now the Four Deadly Sins' turn to experience first hand the adrenaline rush of the Serpent's Run. Nasim remembered the few days he had spent there before I summoned him to the lodge, but there was no comparison to what he was experiencing now. Despite the chill air, the Pathfinders could feel the whole structure of the Serpent's Run rock with the clamor of the crowd above. As the lift slowly hoisted them to the arena, they realized there was likely ten to fifteen thousand people here for them. What a moment! From the special lodge where I sat, my team appeared so small in their corner of the coliseum!
Talabir did a wonderful job at introducing the four teams, recalling the many feats of the Deadly Sins: protecting Magnimar from an underground invasion through the tunnels of the Crow, defeated the band of derros that had abducted hard-working Magnimarian, exploring the remote passages of the Lady's Light in search of ancient artefact, and further stomping the foul plans of yet another horde of derros under the Deepmar Colony! The crowd was roaring in anticipation. They had clearly chosen their team! As Talabir was describing the high deeds of all four teams, the gladiators took this opportunity to bolster themselves with offensive and defensive magic, imbibing potions, applying ointments, targeting themselves with wands, scrolls, or other powerful spells. Already Laslo's mutagen had transformed him into his bestial form and his his bat wings allowed him to slowly raise above the ground.
On Talabir's signal, the battle started. It was violent, bloody, and swift. Laslo and an enraged Draco were the first to move. The barbarian took up a defensive position in front of his companions, his lucerne hammer ready, bracing himself for a charge of the Qadiran riders or one of the Cinderlanders. The Ustalavian did not wait. In an instant, he was diving on one of the Qadiran mercenaries, claws first, almost killing him outright. The crowd bellowed furiously at the sight of first blood. Things turned from bad to worse for the Qadirans as Viv's fireball killed two of the mercenaries horses under them, drastically limiting their fighting options, and hurting them badly in the process. Already, the ifrit Korush was almost alone, his troupe of mercenaries close to being disbanded. In the meantime, the Arcane Auriga started to transform the Cinderlands Revenge into porcupines, dealing with them from a safe distance, at least until the shaman leading the Cinderlanders created a wind wall to protect them from the elves. He further pushed his enlarged badger companion to challenged (and if possible eat) Draco.
But this was not to happen as the barbarian quickly chopped the animal to bits, with one of Viv's fire bolts finally dealing with the badger. That seemed only to madden the wild man even more. As Laslo focussed on the Qadiran mercenaries picking them up one after the other until they collapsed in a pool of their own blood (from the distance, I could vouch he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself whilst doing so), or until they would surrender. He was oblivious to danger and Korush soon flanked him, fighting with an elegant style that was not unlike Nasim's. The Ustalavian would however swiftly benefit from Draco's help. Quickly, their combined assaults got the ifrit to surrender. Nasim doing the same with his mercenaries meant that the Sapphire Squad was the first team down, to the joy of the crowd who could revel in the Four Deadly Sins' abilities at wielding both magic and weapons.
On the other side of the battle field, the Arcane Auriga dealt with the two half-orc halberdiers who had bypassed the _wind wall_ to directly deal with the archers. In order, the elves relentlessly cocked arrow after arrow while slowly retreating in front of the half-orcs, striking true almost all the time. The two half-orcs were soon gurgling in a puddle of their own blood that was slowly absorbed by the arena's sand. That left Viv with ample time to target the wild shaman with a couple of fireballs. After each impact, the shaman would shrink under the pain, but he would remain standing. First taking the time to quickly heal himself, he then transformed into a huge dinosaur, quite a sight at which the crowd to gasped, and then clamored at the antics. The dinosaur charged through the arena in an attempt to reach the Four Deadly Sins and, in particular, Wildfire. But before he could do so, Laslo and Draco intercepted his charge. Their combined assaults were furious and soon the shaman transformed back into a man. Frothing with rage, he was forced to surrender. It was down to the Four Deadly Sins and the Arcane Auriga with their deadly bows…
Right away, arrows started flying at the Pathfinders, to which Viv replied with an empowered fireball, followed up with another fireball as her companions narrowed the distance between them and the elves. Laslo, not quite aware of the rules of gladiatorial fights for which the show takes precedence over efficiency, decided to turn invisible under the booing of the spectators who felt cheated at his sudden disappearance. Unabashed and, mainly, impervious to arrows and spells, he crept closer to Auriga. In the meantime, Draco dashed forward, taking cover behind the arena's pillars when the arrows flew in too compact a flock, leaving Nasim to cover Viv who became the main target of the archers after her flurry of fireballs. All the same, the Asmodean cleric willfully advanced towards the elves, healing herself as she forged ahead.
A third fireball took its toll and one of the elves surrendered, quickly followed by another one whom Draco assailed. As she saw the tide clearly turn, with Draco nearby, Laslo nowhere to be seen, Viv able to wield evermore powerful magic of fire, Auriga attempted to dispatch the Asmodean cleric with a single human-bane arrow combined with the insight provided by a true strike spell, only to have Laslo reappear next to her and slash her with his claws. Or at least try, since his assault utterly failed, welcoming the crowd's sneers and laughter. The magical arrow did reach Viv and hurt her, but it was only a mild flesh wound and the Ustalavian's presence near the elven arcane archer severely limited her options, especially as Laslo would always triumphantly step up to her when she would try to pull away from him. Auriga soon resigned herself to surrender under Laslo's repetitive assaults and the last elven archer quickly followed to leave only the Four Deadly Sins on the battle ground.
The crowd immediately burst in applauses and hysteric screams of support to the Pathfinders, even before Jorston Droaeb officially proclaimed them the winners of this fight. Despite writing these chronicles for weeks, now, I had never truly appreciated how ruthless my agents were. They leave as little as possible to chance, and they fight for their survival, not for the show. In some way, this may well be why the crowd liked them so much, because they were bringing something new.
I must confess that I was beaming when Droaeb handed me over the trophy for the victory of the Four Deadly Sins in this first battle. At least this part of the plan was unfolding nicely. With day two of the Champion's Games a resting day for the teams, it should leave enough time for the Pathfinders to rest, and take on the search for the Shard of Gluttony…
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 16 (a human-bane +1 arrow shot by Rennida Auriga on Viv).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 37 (Laslo, with a sneak attack claw attack on one of Korush's mercenaries).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 45 (Viv, with an empowered fireball on an elven archer).
I saw your comments on Moonbeam's journal and decided to give your story log a go as well. Two days later I've finished reading through the story so far. It is great fun to read. Kudos.
I do wonder about the multitude of confusions in the encounters. It usually is a bit of an atmosphere spoiler at the table, since it takes certain players out of the game. I have one very temperamental player who would have exploded by now, after so much confusion ... How do your players feel about it?
Reading everything in two days? That's quite a commitment, thanks! I'm always glad to know other people than me are reading this. :)
I've been meaning to read your CotCT journal, but haven't found the time to do it so far. It looks very intriguing, starting with young PCs!
Confusion effects are always tricky to pull off, that's true. On the other hand, my PCs happily and repeatedly used it in a previous campaign, so why shouldn't they also suffer a bit from it here? In addition, they have action points that allow them to add 1d6 to their save so failing their Will save doesn't necessarily translate into being confused. When they do get confused, some of the players grumble (but they are the players who always grumble!), but it tends to usually go reasonably well. It's part of the game basically. And some of the players actually seem to have fun hacking at the other PCs! ;)
I have been thinking of removing the next confusion-based encounters in this campaign, though, because the PCs have already suffered from it quite a lot, and I wouldn't want it to feel stale.
Edit: There are actually a lot of confusion inducing NPCs in the next books too, which I hadn't quite appreciated. Book 4 alone must have ten encounters that could pontentially lead to confusion in one way or another (aura, lesser confusion, confusion). Yep, I probably need to look into that…
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Spoilers for the Champion's Belt, chapter 5 of Age of Worms!
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XIX
Neth 9, 4712 AR
Day 2 of the Champion’s Games
Day 2 of the Champion's Games was a resting day for the six teams that had victoriously battled the other eighteen on the first day of the Games. Apart from the Four Deadly Sins, the Coenoby still hosted Auric's Warband, composed of Auric and his companion wizard, the previous year's champions (they still had not revealed their "trick," what these giant wooden containers that had been brought to the Coenoby held); the Asmodean Brood, a group of four religious Chelaxians openly wearing symbols of Asmodeus (they meant to show the power of the Duke of Hell over mere mortal, and maybe also that of Cheliax over Varisia; they meant business and no one had seen them smile yet); Pitch Blade, composed of two foul dwarf barbarian brothers who always angrily looked at my agents; the Snow Mammoths, an impressive group of Kellids from the Land of the Mammoth Lords (their battling style, mounting their mammoths had certainly impressed the crowd the previous day); and the Skull of Murq, a disgusting group of three bone-canibles from the darkest jungles of the Mwangi Expense.
But with the Serpent's Run dedicated to games, demonstration of magic, and mock battles, the six teams scattered throughout the Coenoby to properly rest and scheme the morrow's battles. Little interactions took place, except for Viv who spent quite some time discussing the tenants of the Prince of Darkness. She sure was happy to be able, for once, to open discuss her faith. During the day, the Four Deadly Sins discretely prepared for their planned nightly exploration of the arena's understructure. Time passed slowly…
When the guards doused the lights, the Pathfinders waited a little bit, and then snuck out. Discretely, they explored. They almost stumbled on a group of guards, but eventually avoided them. In the understructure, they noticed that the domed floor of a room displayed ancient runes, not unlike Thassilonian runes. Could there be something below the dome? Unfortunately, if Viv had queried Asmodeus for the powers to shape stone that evening, the application of this spell would leave a gaping hole in the floor. If this was an option, the Pathfinders preferred to remain more discrete as they did not know how many ventures they would need before they could find the Shard. So they continued their exploration, this time heading for the cavern next to the Coenobye that hosted ruins, the statue of the giant, and a lake. Had a gladiator not told Viv that the lake had been artificially created by Jorston Droaeb, the director of the arena himself, to prevent the passage of some undead horde into the Coenobye? Diving in the lake, Draco confirmed the presence of a plug, which Viv prompted shaped to let the companions pass. It did lead to a tunnel.
What the Pathfinders had not anticipated was the horde of ghouls that dwelled in the natural cavern beyond. Viv was ready to render them into cinders with a few fireballs, her companions were ready to take on whichever ghoul was brave enough to bring the fight to them, when they notice that the ghouls' leader was none other than Lockerby Brast, the ghast they had first encountered in the deeper levels of the Crow! The Pathfinders and the ghast rapidly reached an agreement and my agents were allowed to proceed to the tunnels the ghouls knew were very old, and that they avoided. In exchange, the Pathfinders would not explore down the other tunnels that led deeper into the ghoul warrens. I must say that I am very uncomfortable knowing that below our beloved city dwells a whole society of these undead creature. They appear to have left us alone so far, but who knows when they will feel the need to snack on tasty human flesh… I must confer with Officer Kasadei, and with the Council of Ushers, about what should and could be done about this.
The old tunnels the ghouls had mentioned were clearly of Thassilonian make. My agents were on the right track. They led to a sewage grotto, guarded by a swarm of oozes. Although the ochre jellies turned out to be annoying with their splitting ability, the Pathfinders dispatched them without too much difficulties. In the grotto, they found a hidden passage that led to a very old part of the Magnimarian sewers, where a hole in the ceiling apparently led to a hidden floor below the arena. Laslo was the first to climb and, through a pit, entered a small circular room of Thassilonian architecture. They had succeeded in entering whatever concealed level the Serpent's Run had been built on!
Once the group had gathered in the room, they proceeded down the only way out: a narrow halfway that soon led into a storage room. Yet, instead of mere boxes, the storage here consisted of three gruesome wooden coffins. No sooner had Laslo entered the room that these burst open, revealing wile undead abominations. If they looked similar to zombies, they dashed to their feet much faster than the staggered zombies and the worms that wriggled in and out of their flesh proved incredibly dangerous to the Ustalavian who was fighting without a proper weapon. Viv recognized there some spawns of Kyuss, monstrosities created in a foul ritual to a lost God of old, Kyuss, the Wormgod, now long forgotten. The fight was brutal and if my agents prevailed, the spawns' worms, digging into the living flesh to wriggle their way into their host's brain and transform them into new spawn, were one of the most horrific things the Pathfinders had witnessed so far. It didn't help that the next room they set foot in this time contained half a dozen of these shambling beasts. But this time, more space meant a better tactical advantage for the Pathfinders and they could more skillfully fight. Viv's fireballs, Draco's slams, and Nasim's bladed dashes were particularly efficient.
As the battle against the horde of undead turned to my agents' advantages, one of the spawns of Kyuss opened the only door out of the hall, revealing an altar room. A haughty Chelaxian, cleric of the Wormgod, turned at the interruption and started incanting. The Pathfinders' attention converged entirely on the ritual the man had been conducting on the altar, with a metallic shard of pale inubrix. The Shard of Gluttony lay just there, in a halo of sickly green light, over the distorted bodies of three angels, sucked of their celestial power! A ray of light spurted from the halo to disappear into a set of massive double doors.
The spawns of Kyuss dispatched, my agents focused their attacks on the cleric. If his magic protected him from magic missiles Viv triggered from her ring, the physical assaults of the others disrupted the Chelaxian's summoning. Cornered, his antilife shell dispelled, he quickly fell, but not before he channelled a rain of acid worms inside the room. And as he was about to perish, cleft in half by one of Draco's swing, the Kyuss cleric focussed for a second on his revolting ritual. Gurgling in his own blood, he uttered one last curse: "you are forcing by hand early and, for this, I promise you the true wrath of Kyuss!" and he exhaled his last breath at same moment he ray of light that escaped the Shard was severed.
In the silence, something big steered behind the set of double doors. Something incredibly massive. Unsure as to whether they should investigate what that was, or simply flee, it is good for us all that my agents eventually decided on the former for, behind the doors, a gigantic worm-like ulgurstasta stirred. The size of the church of Abadar, this thing was now attempting to bash the domed ceiling above its head, likely to open a way to lay destruction onto Magnimar! Bravely, the Pathfinders fought this obscenity. Despite the gigantic maw of the Apostle of Kyuss, despite the blanket of slashing tendrils that surrounding it, my agents advanced forward, only to be met by the ulgurstasta's deathly breath that sucked Draco's and Laslo's very life out of them. Their resistance was brave, but the two Pathfinders could still feel the necromantic power of the beast that had been fed by the Shard of Gluttony. Draco shambled forward in the corridor, toward the spherical room in which the beast seemed imprisoned for now. The barbarian got bitten by the worm-like monstrosity, brought to the door of death, and almost swallowed. He was barely standing, but anyone else would have already died. From behind started a tense battle between Viv's healing and the monsters staggering bites on Draco. Nasim as well was supporting his companions as best he could with his magic from beyond the tendril aura, while Laslo turned to a gaseous form so he could slowly drift around the creature and flank it. If only he could use the best of his vivsectionist's knowledge against the Apostle of Kyuss…
Often, my agents' survival stemmed more from Desna's watchful guidance than anything else. Often, it seemed Draco would be swallowed by the monster, that Viv's and Nasim's magic would lack power to stay the beast's assaults, but when Draco and Laslo could finally flank the ulgurststa in a series of deadly strikes, the worm-like monstrosity finally dropped dead in a resounding crash. In the end, looking at each other in bewilderment, they noticed that, apart from that one initial bite that had almost been Draco's end, they were rather unhurt. Nevertheless, they knew they had come very close to their own destruction.
Whatever evil ritual had taken place under the Serpent's Run, it is a blessing my agents stopped it. Who knows what damage would have been wrought onto Magnimar had this cleric of Kyuss succeeded in releasing the Apostle of Kyuss at the heart of the City of Monuments. At the time, we could not help but wonder how someone could have conducted such a scheme within the arena itself. Surely someone must have helped the Chelaxian. We would soon learn who it had been.
For the moment, my agents gathered all they could around, including the Shard of Gluttony, of course, in which Draco quickly embossed the ioun stone I had given them that very afternoon, and they discretely headed back to the Coenobye. Their nightly exploration had apparently gone unnoticed.
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 38 (the Apostle of Kyuss biting Draco).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: 30 (Viv's fireball on Nasim).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 48 (Draco with a critical +1 longsword hit on a spawn of Kyuss).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 35 (Viv, with a fireball on a spawn of Kyuss).
Nice. Will you be including more Kyuss-related stuff into the campaign, or was this a one-time deal?
I've been playing off again/on again an Age of Worms campaign with a friend for the past several years, and since I'm the player and we're only about halfway through it, I should stay away from spoilers. :)
No, it's the only chapter of Age of Worms that I'll be using in this campaign, so it should be safe for you. :)
The whole story is that I had started Age of Worms in Varisia for 3/4 of this group and they unfortunately TPK'd in the second chapter, slaughtered by Theldrick. It happens, for that also meant that I never got to GM "The Champion's Belt" which I find very iconic. Being gladiators in the arena, that's something that every player should get to experience once in they gaming life. Luckily, it worked very will to replace the third chapter of Shattered Star (which I'm not too fond of).
There were two huge benefits from inserting "The Champion's Belt:" One, the same players got to actually kill Theldrick, whom I used as a replacement for the scenario's tiefling cleric. My players' reactions were great: "Why, we know this guy. Isn't that the guy who…" Finally getting to kill him was very cathartic! Second, that's a very satisfying explanation as to why Varisia didn't get overtaken by Kyuss and his minions after the first group TPK'd. This group took care of that! In addition, it was a lot of fun to GM this one, so I'm quite happy of how it turned out. :)
And I finally found the time to write this missing session summary! We will likely wrap up Beyond the Nightmare Rift in a session or two, so expect a clear acceleration of this journal's postings as I catch up with where we currently are.
Once again, this summary spoils The Champion's Belt, Chapter 5 of the Age of Worm adventure path.
The Pathfinder Chronicles of Magnimar, Vol. 7, Chapter XX
Neth 10, 4712 AR
Day 3 of the Champion's Games
The wake up call, at dawn of day 3 of the Champion's Games was rough on my agents who had spent a large fraction of the previous night gallivant in the Thassilonian levels below the Serpent's Run. Six teams remained in the Coenoby and, by the end of that day, there would only be three. Before the start of the fighting day and its three major battles, each pitching one team against another, the religious Asmodean Brood spent their morning absorbed in prayers to their Dark Lord, acknowledged by Viv; the Snow Mammoths tended their rides and exercized their strength, while the Skulls of Murq prepared and feasted on a revolting stew that clearly contained body parts. That left only three teams around the breakfast tables: Auric and his wizard companion, Khellek, both so confident in their abilities that they were friendly to the other teams; the two foul-mouthed dwarf brothers of the Pitch Blade; and the Four Deadly Sins. Antagonism was patent between the dwarves and my team but things did not escalate beyond a few bad words despite the dwarves' taunting.
A herald announced the drawing for that day's fight just after breakfast: it would be the Asmodean Knot against the cannibals of the Skulls of Murq, Auric's Warband against the Snow Mammoths, and the Pitch Blade against the Four Deadly Sins. The dwarves welcomed this turn of events with a wide grin, although it later dawned on us that the game may well have been rigged all along so the frenzied barbarians would battle my agents in the arena, attempting to kill them in the process. An hour later, though, it became obvious that if this was indeed the intention, the mastermind behind it had utterly misjudged the abilities of the Four Deadly Sins…
The fight started with the two dwarven barbarians bolstering their abilities with magical potions and raging, their mouths frothing with hate and insults. In the meantime, and as Talabir Welik recounted once again their high deeds, my agents themselves enhanced their abilities with their usual spells and tricks, flying over the battle field. The battle was brutal, and short. Mainly, the dwarves were quickly overwhelmed by "Wildfire" and her companions. As Draco charged Drusfan, the first of the two brothers, Laslo and Nasim quickly followed and teamed up against Pharbol. Add to this Viv's fireballs cast from the safety of distance and the fight was over in less than thirty violent seconds. The two dwarven fellows did not survive the end of their frenzy and gurgled their last breath on the Serpent Run's sand. That was deserved if, as we feared, the Pitch Blade had entered the battle field to "inadvertently" kill the would-be heroes of Magnimar.
Again, the crowd rejoiced as the Four Deadly Sins moved on to the next round of the Champion's Game. Surprisingly to us at the time, Jorston Droaeb, the ruler of the Serpent's Run, showed clear discomfort at their victory, but he quickly hid his feelings to congratulate me and my team, offering us the victor's rewards. When I later visited them in the Coenoby, my agents pointed out that they too had noticed Jorston's unease and they asked me to quietly investigate the dwarf's affairs from outside. Could it be that he was in any way involved in the foul ritual my team had disturbed the previous night?
With their victory, our team joined Auric's warband who had defeated the Snow Mammoths, thereby unveiling the trick they hid in their large wooden boxes (a pair of leather golems that obeyed their every orders), and the Asmodean Brood whose ruthless Chelaxian efficiency had overcome the chaotic magic of the Skulls of Murq with difficulty.
Neth 11, 4712 AR
Day 4 of the Champion's Games
To everyone's surprise, and contrary to the tradition that the previous year's winner displaying its talent in an exhibition fight against a monster while it came to the other two contenders to fight they way to the final, the Four Deadly Sins were chosen for the exhibition battle. At first, it seemed it would be a nice resting day for my agents, especially since they overheard some of the guards complaining that Madtooth the Hungry, the monster they would face, was a forst salamander whose cage was difficult to keep cold enough. But already Viv notice this was likely false information they were being fed. These suspicions were confirmed when, later this day, it certainly was not a frozen cage that was pulled in the arena by a dozen scared guards. If the cage indeed read "Madtooth the Hungry" in tall red letters, the sloshing sound that escaped the cage made it clear an aquatic or amphibious monster inhabited it. To make matters worse, the heroes' introduction to the crowd was so long, before the battle, that the bolstering magic my agents had cast on themselves, as usual, expired. Someone clearly wanted them dead.
When the scared guards finally pulled the ropes that opened the cage, the Pathfinders were scrambling to once again protect themselves with magic. And now they were also facing an infuriated froghemoth. The beast quickly leapt forward and almost as swiftly grabbed Draco in its powerful maw. It would have gobbled up the barbarian had Viv not freed him just before it was too late with the freedom of movement spell, freeing Draco from the beast's maw and effectively rendering him immune to any further grabbing attempt. Laslo used this distraction to sneak around the abberation, but one of its three stalked eyes always followed the Ustalavian's every movement and he was unable to place himself in a good enough position to carve out the beast's vital organs. In the end, it was the unexpected outcome of Nasim's shocking grasp assault that turned the tide in this fight: it turned out that, if froghemoths are immune to electricity, they are still sensitive to it. So instead of sizzling the creature, the spell slowed it down, to the point that, staggered, it could not flay its multiple tentacles around while also biting. Viv's fireball, combined to her channeling to powers of Hell, added to her companions' physical assaults eventually overcame the monster.
The crowd turned crazy at the victory of their champions who had reached the final. Yet, once again, Jorston clearly showed unease at the victory of the Four Deadly Sins and, once again, he hid his true feelings when the time came to reward the victors. My investigations later this day hinted that Jorston could indeed have been responsible for the ritual involving the Shard of Gluttony as I found proof of him abducting beggars and other poor people, likely having them transformed into the army of undead my agents had destroyed under the arena. Sadly, I could not get this information to my team before the assassination attempt that took place that night, and by the next day, Jorston had left the city.
For, yes, in the quiet Coenoby, that night, my agents had not organized any guarding duties, despite the numerous attempts on their lives, and they suffered from the sneaky assault of a group of assassins. Led by the captain of Jorston's guards, Okoral, they almost dispatched Draco in his sleep. But, luckily, Nasim woke up in the nick of time and his shouts got everyone on their feet in no time. Without the element of surprise, and despite the confusion, the four guards and their leader did not stand a chance against our trained adventurers. Questioned later, Okoral would reveal that Jorston had not taken kindly to the Pathfinders meddling with his secret affairs in the Thassilonian levels of the Serpent's Run. To avoid any disruption of the Games before their victory, my agents resolved to bring the assassins who were still alive to the ghouls. These agreed to keep the prisoners alive for a day in exchange for the "tasty bodies of the two fallen assassins," as Lockerby Brast crudely put it. Being eaten by ghouls should be the fate of no human being. whatever their misdeeds…
Largest amount of damage taken from an attack: 29 (Orokal, sneakily attacking Draco).
Largest amount of damage taken from an effect: none.
Largest amount of damage dealt with an attack: 36 (Draco, enraged and power attacking Drusfan the dwarf with his lucerne hammer).
Largest amount of damage dealt with an effect: 47 (Nasim, sizzling Pharbol the dwarf with a shocking grasp).