The Slumbering Tsar - Starting, DM Set up, Questions, and Advice


Advice and Rules Questions

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Internet carrier pigeon is the way of the future.

But yeah my group is a rather chaotic (out of character) bunch with the exception of Beltin's player, and things tend to escalate quickly around them (in character). I'm just waiting for them to crash and burn with no help from the DM or the monsters :p


Lol, it was just the one-liner post this time so no biggie!


I had just started slumbering tsar with my group. In the brief 3 months that we played (I had to leave to go to a different school, tech college)

I one shotted one player with the lone paladin rider, that lance can hurt.
Killed the same guy again after he fell into the broodmother pit.
Lost another to the Bender Bros
Almost a TPK on a flashflood, they literally managed to CHANNEL the entire flood and survive. 2 Paladins + Life Oracle. It was an intense amount of number crunching. Only the sorcerer was in danger of fully drowning. Druid finally got to use an aquatic form. (maybe i misread channel but I don't think being tossed around in a flood interferes.)

The managed to Roleplay the druid encounter out and nobody was sacrificed (fairly neutral bunch, offered to deliver "evil" sacrifices, mostly that group of rangers instead of themselves.)

Sadly, we didn't get to far, this was just after running a Kingmaker campaign that ended just short of the last book. They tend to have ADHD, and they felt the story was getting stale. Not a bad group though, certainly entertaining and I look forward running it again sometime. Hopefully can find work back home and rejoin our group (circle of around 10, usually always can get a table to run something 4-6)

Though, after kingmaker they weren't super excited for another sandbox. Maybe Rappan Athuk when I get back? That sexy leatherbound book calls to me. I'll have to look into the Stoneheart(?) adventure path, maybe reintegrate them into the world. I had problems with the deity list, many had never played anything outside of the Paizo pantheon.
I've played some 2nd ed, oodles of 3.5ed (the core group comes from this) and we switched to pathfinder after the great edition schism aka 4th edition. I also have picked up the S&W books and look forward to building a campaign in that.


So I revamped Clantock and his Furious 14 (there are now actually 14 of them and they have higher than average HP!) in anticipation of the PCs intention to kill them all for money and the fact that the undead army under Beltin is growing. Now the real question is whether or not the Spitting Garygoyles are more afraid of Clantock or the PCs... I decided to give the Spitter leader a magical communication item (based on Farspeaking Amulet from 3.5 Magic Item Compendium; amulet has crystals you hand out and can use it like a cell phone x times per day) so if they decide they are more afraid of Clantock, the Spitters will give them fair warning. If not the PCs will be able to initiate it... time and maybe a percentage roll will tell.

Anyway here they are:

Clantock, Invulnerable Rager/ Survivalist, Scout Rogue 10:

Innate bonuses are factored in (a subsystem that scales with level and replaces stat items and magic weapon enhancements bonuses)

Str 26
Con 26
Dex 13
Int 9
Wis 10
Cha 8

HP = 180 (+20 rage), DR 5/-
AC = 19, 14 raging
Init = +5
F = 19 (21 rage, +4 magic)
R = 12 (+4 magic)
W = 9 (11 rage, +2 magic)

Feats
1. Power Attack
3. Improved Init
5. Iron Will
7. Cornugon Smash (free intimidate on each hit, he has +12 to it)
9. Toughness

Rage Powers
2. Lesser Beast
4. Superstition (+4)
6. Beast Totem (+3 nat armor)
8. Reckless Abandon (+3 hit, -3 AC)
10. Greater Beast (Pounce!)

Rogue
2. Bleeding SA (5 bleed on SA)
4. Pressure Points (1 str or dex dam on SA)
6. Weapon Training
8. Stand up
10. Opportunity (free attack when an ally hits)

Heartseeking Scimitar +24/19, 1d6+28 or claw, claw, bite at +20, 1d4/6 + 21

Other gear
Ghost Touch Scale Mail
Armband of Elusive Action (1/day movement does not provoke)
Mwk Handcrossbow + 20 limning shocking burst bolts

As a Scout he can Sneak Attack off a charge, so something will get wrecked... most likely undead Gurg out of spite. If the PCs stand near each other he will go in and get a hit on two of them, but I won't have him double hit an actual PC in the first round of combat unless they really ask for it.

Clantock's 4 Assassins:

Innate bonuses are factored in (a subsystem that scales with level and replaces stat items and magic weapon enhancements bonuses)

Scout Rogue/Fighter 6
Str 14
Con 14
Dex 18
Int 13
Wis 12
Cha 7

HP = 70
AC = 18
Init = +4
F = 9
R = 11
W = 7

Feats
1. Combat Expertise
1. Imp Trip
2. Imp Dirty Trick
3. Agile Maneuvers
4. Outflank
5. Iron Will
6. Greater Dirty Trick

RT
2. Weapon Finesse
4. Sneaky Maneuvers (take -2 hit when you can SA. If hit deal normal damage, then swift action do a maneuver in place of SA)
6. Offensive Defense

Mwk shortsword +12/7, 1d6+5 (+3d6 SA).
CMB = +16 Dirty Trick, +14 Trip

Mwk composite shortbow +11/6, 1d6+2

Other gear (the numbered items are split between the four, with each getting something unique)
Mwk Chainshirt
1. Quickrunner Shirt
2. Boots of Sidestepping (swift action, take an extra 5ft step. 3/day)
3. Burnt Othur Fumes (Dust), inhaled poison. Will punch a PC in the face with something coated in it.
4. Dust of Sneezing and Chocking (cursed variant of Dust of Appearance). Will be used as a last resort if he gets low but not dead as he will get caught in it too most likely. Thinking of nerfing it down to DC 15, 2d4 con damage on fail, stunned 1d2 rounds on success.

They will probably charge in pairs, with one set definitely going to try and disable Bol with Dirty Tricks, but other two will wait and see who looks easy. They will probably be under cover when combat starts and move in when least expected.

Clantock's 10 Mooks:

Bonuses factored in, etc.

Rogue/Fighter 5
Str 18
Con 14
Dex 14
Int 7
Wis 10
Cha 7

HP = 50
AC = 19 / 21 (for shield users)
Init = +2
F = 6
R = 6
W = 1

1. Power Attack
1. Escape Route
2. Duck and Cover
3. Pack Attack
4. Tribe Mentality
5. Outflank

RT
2. Pressure Points
4. Offensive Defense

Shield guys: +8 mwk heavy mace, 1d8+9
Non-shield: +8 mwk greataxe or falchion, dice+14. Or +8 mwk composite shortbow +3, 1d6+3

Should be considerably harder than the base version... but I still expect Clantock to be one rounded.


I would probably take raging vitality and extra rage power instead of iron will and toughness.

Maybe combat trick instead of bleeding SA and pressure points, he will do so much damage that 5 bleed or 1 stat damage is nothing really, maybe offensive defence and strong impression instead?


I mostly left Bleeding SA on as he had it base and I just didn't care enough to look through the Rogue Talents to find something better... kinda the same for feats so I just went off the top of my head. I also forgot Offensive Defense was a thing until I made his subordinates or I would have put that on him to start with. So goodbye Bleeding, hello AC! I'm thinking I will keep Pressure Points though just because his minions have it; keep the stacking going.

I forgot about Raging Vitality, so you're right I might as well take it over Toughness; not much of a functional difference for how he is going to be played but still. Good catch. I think I will incorporate Strong Impression for an extra +10 intimidate as well.


Yeah I love building npcs, At first I was like "what" but then I remember you are gestalt, haha


Session 5

-Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 8)
-Bol (Tiefling Vivisectionist Rage Chemist/Barbarian 8)
-Phil (player kept his sheet again so his character gets to keep his name; Oread Ranger/Empyreal Sorc 8) - Absent player
-Bradley Weatherby (Dervish Dancer 8 /Knife Master Rogue 7 / Duelist 1)
-Obnoxiously Long Name, aka Mac (not his real name besides the nickname, but he kept his sheet and his name was made to be ridiculously long and pretentious sounding; Ranger / Inquisitor 8)
NEW - Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor 8 / Paladin 8); there's a new crusader in Camp and he has a thirst for justice and smiting evil! But secretly he is only here for one reason... as a replacement PC. Who died and how? Keep reading more into "Chaos Effect's stupid game!!! part 5" to find out!

So the party is told about a magical item Clantock has to communicate with the garygoyle tribe and it seems all that has to be said has been said. BW is still considering killing them all, but the party decides to see what kind of treasure haul they get from their first tribute before they make up their mind for realz. Also the hostage (whose name I can never recall) is getting antsy and wants to leave. The spitters tell call out and tell him how they had a wonderful time with him and that he should come on back anytime. Tears start to flow from the hostage's deadened, thousand-yard-stare eyes, but hey he can suck it up; other people get systematically tortured for days all the time and you don't hear them complaining. The fact that Bol exists and there is an undead entourage surrounding him does not help his anxiety.

Up and out! The party travels the 200 feet up and gets back to ground level. They try to head southward but eventually realize they are trapped on an island of level with chasm all around; eventually it is decided Bol will ant haul and make multiple trips. The few hours roll by uneventfully and BW makes friends with the hostage (aided by Charm Monster after a certain point), who then starts to calm down, but he won't have Bol near him. As the final flight across the chasm is being made, Bol sees a group of margoyles start to fly toward him to engage, but then they stop and turn tail; either they heard of the alliance or margoyles will now forever have some sort of intense fear of flying 4-armed demon spawn embedded in their collective memory. Party doesn't give a s+$* either way.

South to the road! Onward they trek, encountering nothing besides a handful of Ghoul Wolves (which we don't even run), but eventually perception checks and the party notices some things, namely the broken fragments of armor and weapons throughout the area they are traveling. A knowledge check reminds them that this was once the main encampment for the Army of Light, so left over crusader garbage is to be expected... but what's that shiny thing? The party notices polished and gleaming pommel and hilt of some sort of blade... and it detects magic. Jackpot! After spending a few minutes studying it they come to the conclusion the magic is keeping it nice and shiny, and BW pulls it out. It's a broken sword with Prestidigitation permenancied on it; appears to be an officer's blade from the war. The party keeps it and begins to discuss how much a "relic of the Army of Light" would sell for. As the hostage discusses this with his new best friend BW, Bol suddenly approaches him from behind and for no good reason tackles the hostage and carves the symbol of his lord, Demogorgon, into his arm. He then releases him but the hostage understandably freaks the f#!$ out, and begins to scream and cry about how the beast has marked him and now will consume them all. BW works to quiet him down and makes Bol tell him that he has no intention of eating the man's flesh, but then from nearby they hear a deep chuckle from something that had been watching but now has decided to show itself.

A wild Nabasu demon has appeared! He watched the drama unfolding while invisible (because I misread his statblock and thought he had Invisibility like any other self-respecting demon). He has eyes only for Bol; he finds his refusal to eat the man amusing and he has just shown himself to be an enemy of Orcus. Time to get real. Initiative and Nabasu opens with an Enervation on Bol, because why not if you have it 3/day? His eyes then flash dangerously and Beltin is reminded of what it feels like to be level 7. He goes into the air and now it is an angry Bol. He buffs. He Rages. He flies up... and is out of actions. BW keeps an eye on the hostage, guarding him; Mac turns invisible for some reason; Beltin stares determinedly at the ground, and the archers do meh damage because of DR. Nabasu uses Enervation... it's not very effective and Bol only takes 1. Lucky. He then nearly proceeds to show the Nabasu the error of his ways; silly NPC the only condition worth inflicting is "Dead." Nabasu survives with about 2 HP and then is promptly dropped by archers. Beltin excitedly prepares to make himself a new, shiny undead but Bol puts his foot down. He disembowels the creature on the spot and draws a symbol of Demogorgon as a warning... to whatever. He then remembers that there were plenty of pre-made crosses at the Crossroads and that's where they were going! He takes the Nabasu corpse because there's nothing like crucifying corpses to send a poorly defined message. Beltin looks sad.

The party makes it to the Crossroads and camps. Not a single worthwhile encounter; based on what has happened and the demon corpse, anything with a semblance of intelligence has decided not to engage, at least at this time. BW makes a Tiny Hut and Bol hangs his trophy from a cross. All his right with the world. The party gets some rest and BW takes first watch... at 11:59 p.m. a strange feeling like static electricity and malevolence fills the air. BW feels the power all around him, building, building, and... midnight. It is gone, but a shadowy figure stands now in the middle of the Crossroads. Staring right through the opaque surface of the Tiny Hut at BW. He knows how this works and walks right up to the dweller and asks if he gets a wish. The dweller replies he only offers solutions for immediate problems. Oh, I have one, thinks BW and he wishes "for a way to control Bol." Granted. The alarm spells in the Tiny Hut start blaring and BW turns to see a shadowy figure plunge and equally shadowy blade into Bol's chest. 5d6 say 18, add 10 for the coup de grace DC for a grand total of 28. Bol rolls 22 and dies. The others in the hut and the undead begin to attack the shadowy figure (which is identified as some sort of creature from the plane of shadow) but after its deed is done it is already dissipating back to nothing.

So you asked for a way to control someone and you have a necromancer with a horde minions that obey his word as though he was their god... now all you have to do is raise Bol and he is controlled. Thank you for the wish, come again! The party is in disarray wondering what just happened and BW does his best to lie... but then at the same time both he and Beltin notice what appears to be a business card at his feet. BW gets it first but Beltin insists on seeing it: "Bradley Weatherby, It was truly a pleasure doing business with you. Please feel free to stop back any midnight. Sincerely, the Dweller of the Crossroads." Yeah... BW comes clean about his wish ("It offered me a wish. Why the hell wouldn't I take a wish?") and after some discussion the party decides Bol was a bit of a liability, so screw him, we're not using our Resurrection scroll on him. They loot him and don't even make him into an undead. Mac burns the body and back to sleep. Meanwhile, Bol finds himself before a very upset Demon Lord and is asked why he failed his master... he doesn't know. But he will. And I will bring him back as an NPC... preferably in the form of a super low tier demon that will maintain his exact stats and class levels and also have an extra set of arms and has a fixation on murdering BW. Come on party, summon a demon. Demogorgon f%@+ing dares you.

Day 7. The party continues back to the Camp, but besides the eeriness and loneliness of the wastes, they encounter nothing but the incessant howling of the wind that carries of the shrieks of the damned... and the screams of those on their way. As the sun begins to slip below the western mountains, the Camp is in sight and after a long journey they are "home." It appears as though there are more tents and ramshackle buildings; more have taken up the call for loot and glory at the crusades call it seems. The hostage parts company and heads to the embassy and tells the party to come in the morning. To the Bender Bros!

The brothers are more than happy to see the party and welcome them. They are just in time for dinner. Joining them are two shifty looking fellows and a noble and powerful looking Aasimar who introduces himself as Tarl, a paladin who has answered the call to cleanse the desolation in the name of good. BW strikes up a conversation and says that the desolation sucks and he never met a place that needed cleansed more. They enjoy a pleasant dinner, with BW and Mac drinking some fine wine but then the Benders come out with something a little stronger. On the house as business is booming! And because, they tell the paladin, men like him are the true heroes here. And then they thank him for his service. Fort saves are made for the dinner. Beltin, Mac, and BW fail... dun dun dun. Everyone knows what this means out of game.

The shifty guys leave, but conversation continues at the table. On of the Benders sits and drinks with Mac, an angry drunk, and commiserates, always being sure to keep his glass full while drinking suspiciously little himself. BW, a sly bastard out of game, strikes up a conversation with the other Bender and says how impressed he is with the place and that he has trade consortium connections; they may be able to do some real business together and maybe even invest/expand Bender Bro Fine Accommodations! The Bender seems intrigued, and BW's character gives a satisfied smirk as he knows he will not be murdered while on the crapper... maybe. Eventually Mac insists that he must leave in order to send a status report to the church of Muir/Thyr as he is behind schedule due to his being captured and staggers out, despite the best diplomancy the one Bender can offer. Meta-gaming bastards :p

Like clockwork Beltin awakes in the night and heads to the privy (no one noticed the trapdoors in the rooms yet... maybe next time I'll use em'), one of his disguised archers in tow. The Benders are not fooled, but they also know he has the rest of his menagerie out back. And if he dies they may go berserk. The necromancer gets to live as he is a time bomb. Next up is BW. He is told that there is a 10% chance the Brothers decided they don't need him. Roll... and he's save. He has his issues and sleeps fitfully, but everything is fine.

So Mac. He stumbles around in the dark, bumps into some people asking if they are adventurers, and then passes out in an ally but casts Alarm and Sanctuary on himself first. Sanctuary ends after 40 seconds and then he drunkenly sleeps through the Alarm as he is robbed of all his gold and the fine wine he insisted on taking from the treasure cache. And then he vomits and s$%@s all over himself in the gutter. Such a magnificent and shining example of the church of Muir/Thyr. We all see why he was sent to the Camp. The night passes uneventfully, but those two scruffy guys at dinner? Yeah no one will ever see them again.

Taking a break from writing, but will have the thrilling conclusion to the session in a bit... Day 8. Get ready for it.


We spent both sessions on H-4 with the party battling gnolls. It was a long battle on Friday evening with them entering the main area with the camp under alarm so the gnolls were ready for them. The sorceress was out so they had no arcane support, but had a half-ogre barbarian that played both sessions. 11 Gnoll rangers, 19 female gnolls, 2 hyenadons and 7 dire hyenas took the whole night.

On Saturday we had three more new players, a wizard, 1/2 orc barbarian and a human fighter. The wizard had evocation as his opposition school (no idea why) and relied mostly on conjuration. They did not wait for the half ogre to rest from his rage so he spent the entire battle on Saturday fatigued. They decided that while they were waiting the monk should try and sneak into the next area and considering 11 8th level gnoll rangers and 4 gnoll druids were there waiting and he rolled low on his sneak he was an easy target. The half-ogre decided to climb over the rubble while the rest went in. Katrina in round three decides to cast shape change on her tiger to make it a griffon. Well, I had the Stalker laying in wait and while he was going to go after the half-ogre she became a target of convenience. The wizard summoned an Erinyes to locate the Stalker and was able to at least locate his square. At that point he cast glitterdust on him. He failed his save vs blindness for 2 rounds and was peppered by the inquisitor down to about a third of his hit points retreating. Once he could see he flew over to the gnoll sorceress who cast d-door on the two of them. After another five hour battle that had the inquisitor unconscious invisible and nearly killing Katrina they finally vanquished this area. There has to be a defense against glitterdust. A 2nd level spell taking out a CR 15? I am redoing him with Deadly Aim so he does not have to use his sneak.


Having compared see invisibility and glitterdust, they are both 2D level spells, where see invisibility will allow the caster to see the invisible creature unless it is sneaking (hiding) or is not in sight range, but glitterdust requires the caster to determine the correct 10' square the opponent is in and a five foot shift or shot on the run can nullify that. Both have durations, but at the levels we are dealing with, that is not really helpful. Perhaps adjusting his tactics to always have a vantage point that also provides cover to hide behind everytime he fires? Then if he notices he is glittery, he just waits it out under cover or attempts to sneak away if he can not wait it out (using the pall to his advantage and possibly creating a chase scene to catch him before glitterdust ends and he gets away).

Support spells, when used well and with a decent party to back up the spell caster, can be hard to deal with, but it really makes the magic user use their brain for adaptability (instead of just being a combat monster blasting away). The stalker got caught off guard this time, but next time...maybe he will have the initiative after the surprise round to make a delayed action to shoot the spell caster mid casting for a disruption...bad guys have brains too...


Game 37 05/16/14

Roster: Half-Elf Ranger, Tiefling Paladin, Half-Orc Druid, Dwarf Cleric, Halfling Magus, Suli Sorcerer, Human Paladin, Half-elf Paladin.

Paranoia
The party was gathered on the steps (H12-45) leading to the cobweb covered stair (H12-64). They were hampered by the tight conditions and were slow to move because of the narrow stairs. At this point, there were two giant dead spiders on the floor of the room above, but the party was being cautious. The tiefling detects magic in the room and sees two sources, both obscured by webbing. They debate for a bit after seeing no movement and decide for the druid to send in some summoned spiders, who they command to clear the way up the stairs of webbing. The tiefling moves forward and checks again, noticing that one source of magic has disappeared and ignores the one still in the room, though it looks like a body. In single file they start moving into the room shoving aside the two large spider corpses. The druid remains suspicious and summons more spiders to experiment with the magic, eventually ripping apart the webbing revealing a corpse wearing magic armor. The spiders retrieve it and commence clearing the room of webbing.

The Blood Fountain (H12-67)
Eight party members flooded up the stairs following the tiefling, the half-elf paladin carrying a magical light so that he and the paladin could see in the darkness. Without much thought the tiefling crossed past the blood fountain and was snatched up by a (pair, gave it two tentacles due to party size) bloody tentacle. It dragged him underneath the surface of the pool, while the dwarf rushes in and dives headlong into the pool. Fighting from the doorway only half the party could engage, while others sat on the stair fearing the reach of the tentacles. (I was definitely using the tight corridors.) The magus ran up and incorrectly identified the creature shouting useless commands and information at the party. Though largely concealed by the pool, the party managed to pummel the creature (to exactly 0 hp). The party shuffled into the room, taking a breather and they had just enough time to get out of the pool, when the creature regenerated surprising the Magus as she was drug under. She failed her save to get a breath and could have drowned, except that the half-elf ranger quickly murdered the creature, even though she was blind firing.

Knock Knock (H12-69)
The party moves up and into the hallway examining it for magic. Noting the architecture the tiefling chooses the door (to H12-69, Dining Room) that most likely leads to a stairwell up. Much as they have they ignored the other doors and examined this regular iron banded wooden door, it was locked when the tiefling tested it, but he heard a strange voice when he tried to open it. “One moment please.” The party braced themselves and the door slowly swung open with a bearded old man on the other side, who moved to sit back onto his couch. The party stood slack jawed for a moment and he beckoned them inside and to come sit, which they did. (Much ooc talk went on about how bad this was going to be.) The groups exchanged questions with “Belishan” (Jarinov) and he offered them liquor, which the dwarf accepted as well as some pleasantries. During the conversation the Tiefling became assured that they could make a deal with this caster who was no servant of Orcus, but a few of the other party members like the Magus were prepared to attack at a moments notice. During the conversation “Belishan” agreed to dismiss Kroma from his service, provided that the party trouble him no more and not molest his Tower further. They asked about his intentions and his role in the war and were satisfied that they would have to leave, because Kroma would get a head start. “Belishan” even offered up that Kroma’s red jewel eye was his phylactery and wished them good luck, but that they must leave his tower as soon as they can, because his solitude was being disturbed. “Belishan” mentioned that the party had angered “The Malice” by taking something from his tower, but the party didn’t pay it much thought. (Custom Modification: The Shroud of Malice is something I went ahead with due to my party’s size. The Shroud is much as described in my previous posts and blocks all forms of Teleport and Plane Shifting. It is possible to run through the cloud, but it evokes attacks of opportunity as if from the creature the Malice. My reasoning was that half the party was fresh and it wouldn’t actually kill them to rest in the tower, though it would be dangerous because of the Pall and other inhabitants. Plus my party likes puzzles, to each their own.)

The Shroud
(Custom Encounter) The party quickly fled down the stairs, leaving “Belishan” alone, but somewhat disturbed by his confident smile. (The party was betting on betrayal, who wouldn’t?) They took the stairwell down to level one, went through the kitchens and down the basement stair, through the two secret doors and down into the winery (H12-26). When they got there they quickly made plans on how to avoid the Stalker by Dimension Door. Several of them drank potions before clarifying that their mission was now to eliminate Kroma. When the Dimension Door failed the dwarf went and looked out of the hole, hoping not to be shot, but what he saw was horrific. Outside of their Stoneshape tunnel was a whirling yellowish cloud of miasma shaped as boiling skulls. The dwarf and others debated running through quickly, it was only a cloud after all. They identified it as a colossal incorporeal undead and decided it would be better to test the cloud first. The druid summoned a pony and sent it in and watched its soul torn from its body. (The player of the dwarf had one of those funny … well I’m glad I didn’t do that looks.) They buffed up another pony with Deathward (which doesn’t protect against ability damage, yeah I know right?) and watched it die similarly. They came up with an idea to have all 3 paladins and cleric channel while moving out through the gap, but decided against it. By this time “Belishan’s” betrayal was sinking in and they were ready to go kill him. The druid went underground earth gliding, finding that the tower’s base was supported by a network of steel, but was able to find a route that led to the same miasma wall as above. About this time the druid revealed the presence of (with tremorsense) Kendral, who appeared behind them and asked them if they had any ideas. They talked with him about other things he knew about Belishan. They discussed returning the Malice’s treasure as an experiment and went upstairs. They had also discussed that the Malice had mentioned it was “his” tower and noted how Belishan had insisted it was “his” as if they were arguing about it.

Curse Your Inevitable Betrayal!
Reluctant as he was, Kendral agreed to temporarily return his treasure to the tower, but it had no effect. The party picked up their gains and went to go sort it out with Belishan. This time his door (H12-69) was closed and it cost them a knock spell to open it. He smiled as they exchanged some verbal barbs back and forth and stepped through a nearby wall (H12-68). They moved into the room and found his secret table device and were thoroughly sickened. (Dirty nerd jokes later.) They found the secret door leading to the adjoining room, but would not open it, expecting a trap. They sat there for a minute or so discussing their strategy and before the duration of the spell wore off, the druid felt the tremors of Jarinov running down the hall (to H12-70). The party followed suit and bashed the door down seeing a room full of plants, the druid identified them and the sorcerer cast empowered Fireball destroying them all. Charging after, they ran into (H12-73) and seeing Belishan there they charged! And a few moments later were highly disappointed at the Silent Image they had slain. Looking around, they saw the statue of the elven princess and began scouring the room, finding and recognizing a song about a kidnapped princess. The tiefling had performance remarkably since he was a follower of Sheyln (sp?). He touches the statue and it springs to life! Game Ends!

Note: Sorry it took so long to update, I’ve been preparing for my wedding. Ok so obviously the Shroud is going to be a large custom change, but I figure with 8 pc’s teleporting in and out, it’s going to be nearly impossible to tax them of anything substantial before they walk into the last fight. If they go in full strength, he’s going down in a round. Rather than go through this whole thing where Belishan repopulates the Tower in the 8 hours between their attacks, realistically he can go down and vampire spawn two dozen gnolls, but I’d rather keep the mass combats down for now. I’ve dropped several hints that they could appease the Malice by killing Belishan and I think at this point I’ve given him a big enough intro. I was happy my players stopped to talk to Jarinov rather than slashing him at first sight, we have this unspoken agreement about not using our RP opportunities as extra time to prepare for battle.

Serious Note: My wedding is coming up on the 7th so we might miss two weeks while I’m out of the country, plus two of the players had a serious falling out. We are definitely going to keep moving on, but I’m expecting to see several new faces at the gaming table. We’ve had a waiting list for people trying to get in. We’ll probably have time for one more before it goes quiet for a while.


@Chaoseffect - Having fun reading this. Reminds me of my old PC groups back in the day. Everyone was crazy and back stabbing each other.

@James - Good stuff as usual, congratz on getting married. Here's to hoping you don't draw too much "wife aggro" with your gaming lifestyle. It only gets harder to juggle it all bud!


@James Congrats on getting married. Hopefully she is a gamer, my wife is although that can cause some of its own "aggro" with the wife in the game<G>! Look forward to my party making it to the tower instead of just battling gnolls. They took the northern rather than southern approach to area H going back up the stairs.

@Chaoseffect You have one of the strangest groups and games I have seen in awhile, but it makes for an interesting read:)


Glad you guys are enjoying hearing about my game; I'm having run running it! Those crazy bastards in my game help with that. Unfortunately my next update, the second half of session 5, will be my last for a bit. I'm alternating with BW's player so we will be going back to Rise of the Rune Lords for a month or so. I figured once it comes back to mine I will try to introduce the party to the powers in town more thoroughly, as they didn't care enough on their first visit; figure they will have to meet people because they now have loot and no way to offload it without connections. I'm also interested in them meeting Father Death; I think his church will have a shrine to Nerull with drawn pictures and names from those who worship. Father Death will explain the faithful place them there and pray for the target's death, sometimes with offerings that are to go to anyone who makes it happen (wink, wink). Think Tuco's cousins from Breaking Bad. Including an assassination notice board will be interesting for a couple of reasons, namely it fits the camp aesthetic, it could lead to side quests for certain PCs, and it will come as a shock and a warning for certain party members when they see their likeness on the wall.

@James. Congrats on getting married! I also like the concept you have for the Shroud. When (if) my party gets to Belishan I'm definitely using that idea in some way.


brvheart, you are correct that there is no defence against glitterdust.

It is really powerful, sr:no? Better hope your golem is immune to blind because it is going to fail that will save


@James

Congratulations on getting married.


Thanks guys! Luckily my wife to be is a gamer, she's the player of the "I look at it and it dies Ranger". She's the dps to my tank in most online games, I'm a lucky guy.

As far as the game, I was just happy my players talked to Jarinov playing Belishan, it was a fun RP opportunity in a combat heavy adventure. I thought Golems were largely immune to magic, I meant to look that up today.


They are immune to a bunch of things, but are NOT immune to spells that are SR:No, such as glitterdust, grease, create pit, acid arrow, etc.

Since golem saves are usually pretty bad, unless they are immune to blind, gltterdust often makes them very not dangerous, same with create pit and other things


@ CWheezy

Shhhhhhh!!! (Wait until we're finished the campaign)

@ James

I know what you mean about the role playing. It can spice up a night and the group I'm GM'ing for has managed to use it to their advantage a couple of times.

Last session they had an involved conversation with Grampion. It gave me the opportunity to warn them that one of the vampires is out to avenge their elimination of Belishan (As Grampion explained "She love him in vampire way") and to use Grampion to suggest that Belishan had carved a secret into the frieze of purgatory. (Has anyone else's group encountered this yet?)

Unfortunately for them they also missed the secret door to area 46.

Now that Belishan is gone I've had to revise Jarinov's spells in preparation for combat when the party returns. Reading the game play above makes me think he should be sneakier and sell out the remaining vampire - on condition the party leaves the tower to him.


Call me confused, but who is Jarinov? I am not able to locate him.
It is part of the custom encounter?


He's the Rakasasha in room H12-69 of the Crooked Tower. He's supposed to parlay with the players, while pretending to be Belishan, and pay them off to leave.


Jarinov has been very fun to run.... :)

He continues to torment my players.


That is why I can't find it on a search, it is Janirov in the text:) Or at least it is in mine.


brvheart wrote:
That is why I can't find it on a search, it is Janirov in the text:) Or at least it is in mine.

Ah...(toe-mato / tah-motto)


brvheart,

Sorry to hear that your text is messed up.

I've modified J's feats, pulling the Cleave and Great Cleave to give him the option of nastier critical focus feats.


Geo Fix wrote:

brvheart,

Sorry to hear that your text is messed up.

I've modified J's feats, pulling the Cleave and Great Cleave to give him the option of nastier critical focus feats.

Yeah for as deadly a lot of things in ST can be, the NPCs with classes never seem to be there; I'm still not sure why the Usurer, the most powerful thing in the Camp, is just a level 12 wizard with 5 levels of an NPC class.

Anyway, here's the second part of last Saturday, my 5th session. I've been having fun with this, so I made a blog of it.

Characters

Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 8).

Bradley Weatherby (Human Dervish Dancer 8/Knife Master Rogue 7/Duelist 1).

Obnoxiously Long Name, aka Mac (not his real name besides the nickname, but he kept his sheet and his name was made to be ridiculously long and pretentious sounding; Ranger / Inquisitor 8).

Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor 8 / Paladin 8).

"Lawfully" executed, Session 5.2 - 5/24/14

Day 8. The party gathers (Mac wakes up robbed and stinking in the gutter) and begin to head out of the Bender Brothers Inn when Tarl approaches them and asks if they require another stalwart soul in their quest for truth, justice, and such. Beltin's response: "Well yeah... about that." To paraphrase the rest: "Surprise! I'm a necromancer!" Tarl asks if he's evil. He says he is not. Good enough, says Tarl and he joins the party. Yay! As they leave they have some small talk about the inn and its service, but notice how they always seem to get ill while there. They figure it must be from eating so much rich food after days of nothing but trail rations.

BW, Tarl, and Beltin go to see Samar at the Bard's Gate "embassy" (what appears to have been someone's office with all sorts of finery including a well made mahogany desk, tapestries, and rug, except transported to the back of a large covered wagon) to find Samar waiting for them and actually happy. He greets BW right away ignoring the rest and goes on about how the hostage (who was charmed by BW by the way) told him about how he mostly single-handedly rescued him from the creatures in the Chaos Rift and then slew some sort of mad four-armed fiend from the Abyss (Bol) that was going to consume him and then the rest of the Camp and perhaps the world. He shakes BW's hand vigorously as he tells him this and then releases his hand and beams at him, telling him that he has done a great service for Bard's Gate. At this point Beltin steps forward and Samar seems even happier. Ah, he's with you, he says, I thought you were surely lost to the Desolation. Beltin tells him fortunately that isn't the case, but about that contract.

Samar pulls out the promised mad loot from his bottom right drawer (which the party sees is actually a safe): 500 plat (Glira, the silent NPC partner, takes her cut first and then leaves to enjoy her time as an occasional NPC seen in Camp; it didn't really affect how much you got, should you be a player in this game reading this). The party then brings forth the loot from the caravan that was Bard's Gate property, but tells Samar unfortunately the creatures seemed to have a taste for fine wine so some bottles are missing; quite all right, quite all right says Samar, but bringing back the hostage and being so honest here with these goods when so many others here in Camp would have robbed me blind, I wish I could offer you a bonus, but right now I am tapped out until the next Bard's Gate shipment arrives. Beltin points out the chest of money they recovered and says well there is that and rolls diplomacy. Samar is all for it and pushes it toward them, thanking them again for their service. Yay, more loot!

While Beltin talks, BW is working on a letter to the trade consortium explaining about the Bender Brothers and how they could be a good investment. He finishes and has Samar add it to his outgoing mail (into the safe it goes), but it won't be sent for until the next official courier from Bard's Gate arrives, says Samar. BW then asks about the Benders but Samar says (truthfully) he doesn't know anything except they run a rather quaint inn from what he heard (he can never visit as he is always required in the embassy, he explains, stretching in his rather nice chair behind his desk) and that Bender is a shortened version of their real name no one can pronounce. People in town don't like to gossip about them, adds Samar as an afterthought, so they must be very well respected.

That's all very good, says Beltin, but we have some more news... and he explains about Clantock. Samar is very interested and immediately asks for their services again; though they would need to wait for payment, they would be true allies of Bard's Gate should they intercede on the city's behalf in this matter. He pulls out some forms, fills them out, signs, and then stamps it with Bard's Gate seal. Behold, an official writ of execution for Clantock and his Furious Fourteen! He hands them to Beltin... and then hems and haws about how maybe he should hold onto them and can present them as needed if the Camp denizens interfere (they are technically under the control of Bard's Gate, even if they and no one in Bard's Gate quite believe it); Beltin takes no offense and hands them back, saying he knows it would be bad for Samar if Clantock found those if they failed. Samar thanks him for his understanding and tells him all he knows of Clantock ("The man is some sort of brutal savage, but he can supposedly cut his way through anything on a charge") and his men ("He is supposed to have four captains that are a cut above the rest, one hobgoblin and three orc, but the rest is essentially just loosely organized rabble, but they have some discipline from hobgoblin captain and a few others of his kin in the Fourteen.") He also heard that they just arrived back in town and some are celebrating at the Drop of Blood.

So the party goes to the Drop of Blood and immediately see four orcs in matching blackened chain shirts with a 14 made of lightning bolts emblazoned on one shoulder; they are drinking heavily and involved in a poker game near the back with two townies (Campies?). BW and Tarl immediately make their way over and pretend to watch the game. Beltin spies Lucky Fjork the same time and he sees him, and Fjork enthusiastically waves him over; it is such a joy to be understood. Fjork tells him he thought he was dead and it is good to see him, as he pours him a drink. Beltin refuses it, saying he's on business, but asks if he knows anything about the 14. Fjork can only tell him what Samar said, but point to the four in the back. Beltin then asks him about the Benders and Fjork becomes much less open. He says he doesn't know anything really that they already don't. Beltin shows him the Decanter of Endless Grain alcohol the party took originally from Gurg and then Bol; Fjork clearly knows what this it. It's yours if you tell me, says Beltin, and Fjork makes a show of stretching and dropping his rag over the decanter before quickly pulling it back to him and stashing it under the bar.

So no one has ever seen them or caught them, but people go in and don't come out of the Benders', says Fjork. And then old Griswald, the "undertaker," (the sarcastic nature of the title is lost on Beltin as they haven't meant Griswald the literal ghoul yet) stops by at odd times and takes things away from them some people have seen. No one who lives in the Camp will stay in the place, but some are paid to point well off travelers to it... like that's needed as it is the only inn in camp, adds Fjork.

At this point Beltin looks up and can guess what BW is about to do and tells Fjork there may be trouble. He gestures to the girls to back up and he sits down on the floor behind the bar. And then things escalate. BW suddenly steps forward and cuts a throat; 1/14. There is surprised silence and stillness for a second as blood sprays all over the table and card players before everyone moves at the same time: The uninvolved locals duck for cover or escape out the back and front doors (batwings of course in the front), but the two townies at the table make sure to grab all bits then can off the table first; the three now truly furious members of the 14 jump up, ready to kill; Beltin ducks and starts commanding his archers to come in; Tarl steps forward and makes the party's score 2/14. The fight commences but it quickly looks bad for the two remaining. The archers step in and Beltin tells them to stop or get fired upon. The healthier orc stands his ground and covers his friend who jumps over the bar for cover and is soon cut down for his troubles. The last tries to escape but dies too.

Time in Camp: 36 hours. Self-defense kills: 1. Murders: 2. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 4.

Fjork stands up and looks around his bar, obviously annoyed by the state of his establishment but not at all surprised. He looks at Beltin and Beltin know he will end up paying the bill for this, but he has more important things to do. He begins casting Speak With Dead, and in the 10 minute time it takes no one comes back or seems to be approaching the bar; no one in the party is checking but the wenches are and getting more and more concerned as they talk to Fjork. The party ignores them. Beltin speaks with one of the dead orcs who they quickly realize is an unhelpful ass even in undeath and after failing his Will save. They learn nothing new from him and then begin wondering how they will assault the merc group's "clubhouse" on the edge of the Camp. They step out, archers in front and learn that won't be necessary. The street is deserted except for one, and that one is obviously Clantock.

He is obviously barely controlling his rage as he sees them and asks who they think they are assaulting his 14. Beltin, from within the safety of the bar still, denounces him for selling out the caravans to the creatures in the Desolation. Clantock is supremely unconcerned with this news being public and asks him, "So?" It occurs to Beltin that none of the locals would care, the same way they don't care about the Benders' side business. Silence... and then combat.

The rest of the 14 (besides the four conspicuously missing captains) stand up from their spots on the roofs of nearby building and fire their bows (poor tactical choice as they were made for melee, but poor DMs make poor choices). Clantock charges and nearly destroys one of the archers and wounds Tarl (Barbarian / Scout Rogue 10 now for Clantock... pounce and sneak attack off charging, oh yeah). The undead try to attack both the archers and Clantock, and the hydra begins scaling the closest building to go for archers. Mac, who isn't there in player but is being played by BW's, runs into the middle of the street and hits all the archers with Blistering Invective... and all are now demoralized and one is burning. They decide killing him will make them feel better and they all shoot... and miss. The burning one stops, drops, and rolls... right off the roof onto the street below.

At this point three captains make themselves known, right from the roof of the Sip of Blood. Two land on either side of Tarl, sneak attacking and greater dirty tricking him with blindness and sickening him (spun his helmet the wrong way and then sucker punch to the kidneys through a weak spot on the armor). Tarl fixes both with a standard action and Lay on Hands (so near death). The third captain swings through the batwing doors from the roof like a badass and punches Beltin in the face with some sort of ball with dust on it. Roll versus poison? Failed? Excellent. 1 con drain with several more con damage to follow makes Beltin a sad panda, who then goes invisible to escape his would be killer.

Then Clantock finally goes down (Dr 5/- and 200 HP later) and it is clear the cause is lost to his 14. The rest on the roof tops who were getting ready to finally charge into melee instead charge the opposite direction. One of the captains who is near dead stays and attacks Tarl again and his friend next to him retreats out the back door along with the one who poisoned Beltin. The one still the fray yells out "Do it!" and the party wonders do what? And then they know. The last captain on the roof gives a parting shot, a blast of Dust of Sneezing and Choking. Beltin is inside and shielded from it, but Bol, BW, and Mac take it; Bol and BW makes it and are stunned for the next 14 rounds, but Mac... he has 14 con. I tell BW's player to roll the damage so that he can be responsible for the death if it happens. And... 13 con damage. Still alive though he wishes he were dead! Some undead try to follow the escaping assassins, but they quickly escape. The hydra and archers (now using claws) take down the two remaining Clantock mooks on the ground who couldn't get away; the archers shred one and the hydra is about to crush the other one when Beltin commands it to bring him back alive.

The man in question can't wait to talk. With Clantock dead the men in his command are done; they had no real say in the deal with the spitters, but didn't really care. They were only loyal to money. But the captains... they were loyal to Clanotck, and acted as his assassins. The party should watch their back says the captured merc. He then rips the 14 off his shoulder and says that since they obviously no longer need him he will be going. And then Tarl commits a lawful execution on him.

Time in Camp: 36 hours, 30 minutes. Self-defense kills: 1. Murders: 2. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8.

People begin to mill about the street again, including some adventuring sorts, and murmur about what just happened, but none approach the party. Beltin casts Speak With Dead on the dead assassin and they learn that they will seek vengeance (the dead one says he will be seeing Beltin in hell soon and can't wait) and reveals one of their meeting spots. Note, one of them, hence forcing Beltin to use more questions to ask about the others. He gets the assassin to reveal the one they would be heading for, which is near the mountains to the West, but they decide not to follow as the dead assassin told them quite willingly and with a hint of a laugh. After their conversation, the party decides to point anyone they really need dead in that direction and that they never will go that way themselves.

The party heals up and restores some constitution right in the middle of the street (Beltin was at 11 con base, so 1 drain means he doesn't even care). They then wonder about selling some of this loot they have... yeah... DING, LEVEL 9.

1 Casualty: Bol. Cause of Death: A poorly worded wish and party members who don't miss you.


So much for the Furious 14! I have kept the party from tearing apart the camp and taking it over by granting them a Writ, but having it only in affect north of the camp. This means that they cannot lawfully just go around attacking people in the camp without being attacked first. Of course, this doesn't prevent them from doing it outside the camp:)


I look at janirov,and his cr is off.

A rakshasa cleric 11 is cr 20, not 16. Scary!


brvheart wrote:
So much for the Furious 14! I have kept the party from tearing apart the camp and taking it over by granting them a Writ, but having it only in affect north of the camp. This means that they cannot lawfully just go around attacking people in the camp without being attacked first. Of course, this doesn't prevent them from doing it outside the camp:)

Yeah they went down like chumps, but I think the party will soon learn to start watching their back and if they push too hard the Usurer (level 16 wizard/summoner gestalt now) will push back. They already made enemies with their murderous entry in the first session, but if they calm down the random murder they might just make it as though there are powerful people in the Camp, they don't care what you do as long as you don't cross them.

Anyway, I'm thinking that when I resume they will be accosted by a young, arrogant crusader with a pretentious self-given name and grandiose title who is currently the head of the official crusade on site who only got that position because the competent people above him were massacred in some way or another. He will have been working very hard to piss of the Usurer by trying to police the Camp (claiming it is his jurisdiction) and will try to force the gold standard as opposed to bits, and he is now essentially approaching the party yelling, "Halt! You have violated the law!"... the official writ of execution should satisfy him though he will still be disdainful of the party, especially the necromancer Beltin as "degenerates like you belong on a cross." Yeah he won't have made himself popular among the Camp or his own men... the Usurer will offer the party top dollar (or more likely access to a highly skilled magic crafter) if the party carries out small, clandestine assassination for him. The "good" members of the party will of course be misled as to why the man has to die.

@CWheezy

CR is always kinda iffy. He probably goes down like a punk either way to the much lower than 20 party, so I'm not sure how concerned I would really be.


I dunno, he seems pretty nasty to me:

Janirov:

Janirov CR 20
XP 307,200
Rakshasa Cleric of Ruapceras 11
LE Medium outsider (native, shapechanger)
Init +11; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +23
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 38, touch 21, flat-footed 30 (+4 armor, +4 shield, +7 Dex, +9 natural, +3 deflection, +1 dodge)
hp 283 (10d10+11d8+179)
Fort +20, Ref +20, Will +21
DR 15/good, 15/piercing; SR 25
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee +1 dancing kukri +21/+16/+11/+6 (1d4+17/15-20) and
bite +15 (1d6+8) and
claw +15 (1d4+8)
Special Attacks channel negative energy 10/day (DC 20, 6d6), detect thoughts, scythe of evil (5 rounds, 1/day), weapon master (11 rounds/day)
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th; concentration +15)
7/day—touch of evil (5 rounds)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 7th; concentration +12):
3rd (5/day)—fly, gaseous form
2nd (7/day)—bear's endurance, blur, invisibility
1st (8/day)—expeditious retreat, mage armor, magic missile, protection from good, shield
0 (at will)—detect magic, mage hand, message, open/close (DC 15), prestidigitation, read magic, resistance
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 11th; concentration +15):
6th—blade barrier [D] (DC 20), summon monster vi
5th—greater command [D] (DC 19), prstnt blindness/deafness (DC 17), quick divine favor
4th—aura of doom (DC 18), cure critical wounds, death ward, divine power [D], spiritual ally
3rd—chain of perdition, cure serious wounds, dispel magic, invisibility purge, magic vestment [D], prayer
2nd—aid [D], bull's strength, cure moderate wounds, grace, hold person (DC 16), resist energy
1st—bane (DC 15), bless, divine favor (2), protection from good [D], shield of faith
0 (at will)—bleed (DC 14), create water, guidance, virtue
[D] Domain spell; Domains Evil, Tactics, War
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 22, Dex 24, Con 24, Int 13, Wis 18, Cha 20
Base Atk +18; CMB +19; CMD 45
Feats Channel Smite, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Extra Channel, Improved Critical (kukri), Improved Initiative, Persistent Spell, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +33, Diplomacy +18, Disguise +26, Perception +23, Perform (Oratory) +22, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +11, Stealth +25; Racial Modifiers +4 Bluff, +8 Disguise
Languages Common, Infernal, Undercommon
SQ aura, change shape, domains (evil, tactics), seize the initiative
Other Gear +1 dancing kukri, ring of freedom of movement, robe of stars
--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Aura (Ex) The Cleric has an aura corresponding to his deity's alignment.
Change Shape (any humanoid, alter self) (Su) You can change your form.
Channel Smite Channel energy can be delivered through a Smite attack.
Cleric Channel Negative Energy 6d6 (10/day, DC 20) (Su) Positive energy heals the living and harms the undead; negative has the reverse effect.
Cleric Domain (Evil) Granted Powers: You are sinister and cruel, and have wholly pledged your soul to the cause of evil.
Cleric Domain (Tactics)
Combat Expertise +/-5 Bonus to AC in exchange for an equal penalty to attack.
Damage Reduction (15/good) You have Damage Reduction against all except Good attacks.
Damage Reduction (15/piercing) You have Damage Reduction against all except Piercing attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Detect Thoughts (DC 20) (Su) A rakshasa can detect thoughts as per the spell of the same name (CL 18th). It can suppress or resume this ability as a free action. When a rakshasa uses this ability, it always functions as if it had spent three rounds concentrating and thus
Flight (60 feet, Good) You can fly!
Persistent Spell Foes must succeed at 2 saves or suffer the spell's full effects.
Power Attack -5/+10 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Quicken Spell Cast a spell as a swift action. +4 Levels.
Ring of freedom of movement This gold ring allows the wearer to act as if continually under the effect of a freedom of movement spell.

Construction
Requirements: Forge Ring, freedom of movement; Cost 20,000 gp
Scythe of Evil (5 rounds, 1/day) (Su) Touched weapon temporarily becomes unholy.
Seize the Initiative (7/day) (Su) An ally within 30' may take the better of 2d20 for initiative
Spell Resistance (25) You have Spell Resistance.
Touch of Evil (5 rounds, 7/day) (Sp) With a melee touch attack, target is sickened and counted as good-aligned for the purpose of [Evil] spells.
Weapon Master (11 rounds/day) (Su) As a swift action, temporarily gain a combat feat you qualify for.


dr/15 piercing and good is pretty tough to get through, and his SR is still super nasty (Belishan has a 50/50 shot of effecting him! Also janirov can cast death ward, so har har to his enervates). With likely his time to buff, he gets a all the good cleric things and his innate spells: Mage armor, protection from evil, shield, bull strength, bear's endurance, Death ward, Shield of faith.

He can also summon powerful monsters, like a shadow fiend to hide in the wall until he fights or something


That is the problem when you let the players get too powerful. You have to increase the monsters to compensate or they run over everything. Where does it end? I am all for having the players have fun, but it is a very slippery slope.


I'm with CWheezy on Janirov as long as he battles the party intelligently or worse: leads them up to Belishan.

@ Chaoseffet - The Crooked Tower may give your group a worthwhile challenge. It's a collection of small rooms connected by 5' wide hallways and littered with traps so having an undead menagerie becomes much less usefull - especially if they're larger than medium sized.

@ brvheart - agreed.


Well, finally got around to finishing my write-ups for my last session so I figured why not share them as usual?

Session 6.1, Making friends for once:

Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 9).

Bradley Weatherby (Human Dervish Dancer 9/Knife Master Rogue 7/Duelist 2).

Obnoxiously Long Name, aka Mac (Ranger/Inquisitor 9).

Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor/Paladin 9).

Glira Cross (Human Gunslinger/Magus 7?). Old character sheet, played by a new player.

Making friends for once, Session 6.1 - 6/7/14

Day 8, afternoon. Half of the Furious 14 lie cut down like dogs in the street, and the party stands over them as a fairly rowdy crowd begins to gather and talk among themselves about what has just happened, and drinks seem to flow out of the Sip of Blood as some of the crowd get comfortable, expecting something to happen. The party wonders briefly what is going on, but is none too concerned, though Beltin is considering having a word with Lucky about his lack of warning concerning the 14 being outside as he "thought they were friends." But before he can, a group pushes their way through the crowd approaching the party.

"Halt, you are violating the law!" cries the young man in gleaming armor with the symbol Muir who seems to be in charge while simultaneously seeming hardly old enough to be in charge of anything. He is flanked by what appears to be a teenage girl dressed in the garb of a cleric, looking both determined and obviously nervous, and an older male cleric looking at the party disdainfully. Behind them stands at least 6 hardened looking crusaders. "You will pay for your misdeeds, criminal scum! You are coming with us!" continues the young paladin.

The party is bemused by this turn of events and begins to wonder who the hell these people think they are, and BW asks the party if they should just kill them too. The young man puffs up, indignant, and asks if they dare to threaten he, Lucius Desticus Caepio, Commander of the 2nd Regiment of the New Army of Light, and tells them that justice will be served and the Camp will be brought under the rule of law.

Beltin interrupts and points out that they were carrying out "lawful" executions of known murderers and traitors against Bard's Gate, but Caepio sneers at him and tells him that is an unlikely story for a necromancer and defiler of the natural order and asks what proof he has. Beltin explains how the writ of execution is at the Bard's Gate embassy and all they would have to do is go get it. A ruse more like, says Caepio as he prepares to give the order to take the party into custody, and then Samar pushes through the crowd and addresses him. He confirms the party's story and presents the writ to Caepio's obvious displeasure. He reads it, crumbles it up, throws it at Samar's feet, and orders his posse back. Before he leaves he glares at Beltin and the meaning is fairly clear: Something along the lines of "You'll step out of line and I'll be there," or "I'll see you on a cross, degenerate." Perhaps both.

Time in Camp: 36 hours, 40 minutes. Self-defense kills: 1. Murders: 2. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 4.

The crowd watching was obviously expecting more bloodshed, but as they were denied that pleasure, they mostly disperse besides those who were inclined to be drunk anyways: They stay sitting around and get to work on lawfully executing their sobriety with the aid of the helpful serving wenches of the Sip of Blood, who are more than willing to walk their asses outside if it means it they get paid more.

The party begins to talk about what to do with the corpses as no one else seems inclined to give a s@$# about the people rotting in the street, but then up pulls a cart and a strange looking man in a ragged suit and top hat steps down. He introduces himself as Griswald the undertaker and says he is here to get the bodies. The party asks why he does this and he tells them he performs this valuable community service out of the goodness of his heart... right. Beltin notices his movements are oddly jerky at times and is reminiscent of undead he has seen and animated, but doesn't mention it. Griswald is infallibly polite and even gets Tarl to help him load the bodies into the cart before thanking him and driving away.

With that taken care of, back to the bar to think of our next move, says the party. Beltin approaches Lucky and asks why he didn't mention the 14 outside and Lucky points out he can hardly be expected to be blamed for them not looking out the front door and fiddling with corpses for 10 minutes at the crime scene after carrying out a massacre in his bar. That said, have a drink on the house so we can put any hurt feelings aside, says Lucky as he pouts Beltin a shot from the Decanter of Endless Grain Alcohol. Oh Lucky, they can't stay mad at you.

Beltin asks about the boy commander who accosted them and Lucky seems mostly unconcerned. Caepio is some young upstart who got his position because his higher ups met their doom in the Desolation, mostly at the failed Crusader camp, and the "regiment" he claims to be in charge of is more a couple dozen men, most of which wish their commander would meet the same fate as his superiors. Caepio thinks he will take over the camp, says Lucky, and has been enforcing the "rule of law" for about a week now and has even carried out some executions on the gallows. This isn't the first time something like this has happened, says Lucky, so if history has taught him anything, it is that the young obnoxious paladin's time on this plane of existence are nearly done.

Beltin tells this to the party as they sit around and are joined by Glira again. Mac and Glira seem inclined to keep drinking at the moment, but Tarl, Beltin, and BW has plans. Tarl and Beltin decide they should check in with the power in town, the Usurer and see if he has anything for people of their skill sets, and BW has some up with a business proposition for the Benders. One that, unfortunately, the Benders took as one they "couldn't refuse."

BW went to the Bender Bros inn and met one of them sweeping up in front. Ah, BW, says the gnome, here for another night? No, says BW, I know about your side business and have an idea for you. The Bender's smile slips and he invites him into the office. BW lays out his plan: Instead of people constantly disappearing, as that is suspicious and will be even more so if the Camp keeps growing as people will notice, they should take a page from the trade consortium and perhaps diversify their business, and for a fee he can help.

"Have you ever heard of 'adventurer's insurance?" asks BW.

He explains the scam; adventurers pay an arm and a leg for a "magically binding" contract that will ensure they get medical aid when required, including from death. Obviously this never comes and seems like an obvious ploy. Except for one detail. He knows of an easy to manufacture poison that can be used to drive the victim temporarily insane and easy to trick; they can use it to get said adventurers to sign deals and include clauses about what happens to their loot if they are mentally incapable. He insists that such scams will work and the Benders will be able to greatly expand their profits while exposing themselves to less risk. The Bender listens raptly and seems to consider it. Finally he smiles and asks how soon BW can show them how to synthesize said toxin. BW rolls his sense motive and notices that the Bender does not actually seem happy. Oh, not at all. BW says he can have it for tonight and the Bender tells him to come back at sun down; they can go through the alchemical process and discuss it more then.

From the alchemical components from Bol, BW had everything he needed to make the poison but not a place. Back to the Sip of Blood! BW, with the aid of a wench, inquires about renting some work space at the tavern. And he places a pouch with several hundred gold on the counter. Lucky makes a show of stretching and puts his arm on the pouch before sliding it down behind the bar. "Well, there's my room..." begins Lucky and BW says he will take it. Lucky says let me finish and says no way in hell, but you can use the girls' room for the day. The translator sweetly asks if he needs any company. BW says it would be lovely. The sweet tone drops and suddenly business-like the women tells him 10 bits. BW tips it to her just to see her lovely smile again and tells her he'll call her in later. He rolls a sense motive to see if she really likes him and realizes yes, yes she does. Who wouldn't love a rich potential sugar daddy?

As BW gets to work "cooking meth" (because the alchemical process looks just like Breaking Bad) in the cramped bedroom of the four wenches, Tarl and Beltin approach the Usurer. They notice more guards standing outside the money changing portion and the man who lost a hand does not appear to be working there anymore, and they hear conversation from within the actual smithy. As they approach several orcs in familiar looking armor step out, though the 14's on their armor have been hastily scratched out. They stare down the two men in front of them and the Usurer calls out that the orcs work for him now and are no longer Tarl and Beltin's concern. They step aside and the orcs move warily away and head toward the money changing out building. Come in, says the Usurer and they do. He stops working on the armor he his hammering and asks what they want. Oh, a job? What a coincidence... Come back at sun set, my house, and we can talk.

They return to the bar and tell the party how they may have a job and will know later that night. BW does not share his news with them as he expects Tarl will not be pleased, but has already gotten Glira and Mac to agree to come with him as backup, though they will of course be hidden. Something about how that Bender looked at him didn't seem right... For the rest of the day BW makes meth and plots with Glira and Mac secretly, but Beltin and Tarl split up and go for a walk around camp.

Tarl, being a paragon of good, begins offering free healing and disease curing for the citizens of the Camp and some adventuring types and makes some friends. Grabbing a guy and taking away his clap just endears you to people. The good aligned adventuring types like him especially, but besides that Tarl can't quite remember what their names, races, classes, genders, ages, personalities, or physical characteristics are like, but he is sure that if a new PC needs to introduced he will possibly suddenly remember meeting them here.

Beltin decides he needs a place to call his own. He walks towards the out skirts of town and stone shapes himself a one story house. A man walking by, obviously an adventurer, stops awestruck as this is apparently the greatest thing he has ever seen. 10 bits for one of them, says the man. Make it 15 says Beltin and they come to an agreement and Beltin now has a neighbor and potential replacement PC, though his specifics are awfully hard to remember at the moment. Beltin also realizes this could be a brilliant money making scheme, as it's not like the Camp has building regulations. He may have just started his side-career as a real estate tycoon.

That night Tarl and Beltin return to the smithy and walk around back toward the Usurer's actual dwelling and they enter. The room is sparse and dusty but there are three chairs and they sit. They came at a good time said the Usurer and he was actually considering approaching them, though not perhaps in this configuration, he adds looking at the paladin. He and the Camp have a problem he says and the party met it earlier. The obnoxious young "commander." The Usurer confirms what lucky said about how Caepio got his appointment and mentions how at first he was beneath notice, but now... well, says the Usurer, let me explain. In the Camp and in life in general, there are guys you can hit and guys you cannot, at least not without permission. Caepio has hit a couple of such people that you can't and he certainly didn't ask for permission. He is a problem. He has to go.

At this point the Usurer looks at Tarl and asks what he thinks about this. Tarl responds that if the man is destabilizing the established order then he is inviting anarchy and must be stopped. The Usurer actually smiles and says he is glad Tarl sees it that way. In the Ashen Wastes there is an area of calm and peace, an uncorrupted graveyard with a fountain dedicated to an angel who was slain in the battle of Tsar. Soon Caepio, the two priests who act as his "advisers" and some men loyal to him, his "elite" plan on taking an expedition to that spot in the wastes. They think it will protect them and will perhaps be an area for a forward camp, says the Usurer. They are mistaken, he says, and they will see to it. He can disguise their true nature, make the crusaders believe they are being attacked by beasts from the Desolation, so should any escape they won't know who attacked them, and then the party will kill them.

At this, Tarl says no. He will not hide his nature or why he is there. The Usurer scowls and agrees. In return, he can will help them off load their loot; he can convince the merchants in town to give them better rates, though they will still need to trade their treasure for credit with said merchants. He also reveals he has some ability with the crafting of magical items and can help them, but this is a very exclusive service he offers to very few and they should feel honored. The terms are agreed to and Tarl and Beltin get up to go. They shake the Usurer's hand and for a second Tarl sees the face before him appear dessicated, almost mummified, and then the image is gone. Must have been a trick of the light.

Wait, says the Usurer to Beltin. One more word just between us. Tarl leaves. The Usurer gives him a scroll and tells him it will disguise them and he expects the paladin to be magically concealed, regardless of what he wants. Also, he reminds Beltin, such a precaution should not be relied upon. He expects them to leave no survivors. Beltin remembers how one of the clerics appears to be little more than a girl, but agrees. Business is business. The Usurer smiles at him and tells him that if they f*@# this up they shouldn't bother coming back and then he dismisses him.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Session 6.2, The perils of entrepreneurship:

Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 9).

Bradley Weatherby (Human Dervish Dancer 9/Knife Master Rogue 7/Duelist 2).

Obnoxiously Long Name, aka Mac (Ranger/Inquisitor 9).

Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor/Paladin 9).

Glira Cross (Human Gunslinger/Magus 7?). Old character sheet, played by a new player.

The perils of entrepreneurship, Session 6.2 - 6/7/14

Night, day 8. BW, Glira, and Mac have a plan, complete with spy thriller-esque fashion gestures to call down support sniper fire and an inside man. Glira positions herself on a rooftop near the Bender Bros Inn and knows to open fire if BW adjusts his scarf and Mac follows BW invisibly. BW tries to open the door to the inn. It's locked. He knocks. The Bender opens it, smiling, and invites him in, and at this point Glira may have realized she won't be doing much from her perch but stays put. He says they have shut down for the night to conduct their business, so they will not be disturbed. Please enter. BW tries to get a word in, but the Bender insists he enters first, and so he does, Mac on his heels. The door is shut behind them. And the lock snaps shut. There is definitely an ominous feeling in the air, and BW senses it.

In the entry hall he tells the Bender that perhaps upon reflection they had a misunderstanding earlier; by no means does he, BW, want to intrude on their business. Quite the opposite, he just wants to help, for a one time profit. From there maybe they could do more business, perhaps with the trade consortium. He rolls well (the Innocence spell helps with that) and the Bender believes him. He smiles, almost sadly, almost as though he regrets what is about to happen but the decision has already been made, but still he thanks BW for his candor and professionalism. He leads BW back to the office where a concealed trapdoor is open and reveals a set of crudely made stairs heading down. He motions for BW to go first and then he follows immediately, closing the trapdoor in Mac's face. As he cannot open it without revealing himself, Mac waits and considers tossing the room for loot, but remembers that BW is here for a business deal and would be pissed if he ruined it by burglarizing the joint. A few minutes later Mac hears the sound of a lock on the trapdoor. He waits.

Downstairs BW sees a fairly large dug out cellar with some crates and few furnishings besides a table with a alchemy lab setup. The only other way out of the room appears to be a curtained off tunnel at the end of the cellar opposite the staircase. Standing by the lab setup is the other Bender. He greets him and after the pleasantries they begin to cook, with the Bender at the table, obviously the chef of the family, watching and learning.

One montage and an hour later...

The Benders and BW stand back and admire their work, several doses of the poison BW has promised. He again explains the properties of the toxin and how it can be used to force people into making poor decisions. The Bender who greeted him at the door wears a sad smile and wonders aloud if BW had been sampling his own product. And then his brother moves to stab their guest in the spine. BW is ready. Always ready, as only someone with Improved Uncanny Dodge can be. He moves out of the way, draws his blade, and begins to dance. He tells them that they obviously have a misunderstanding, but they can cease hostilities and talk it out. The Benders only shake their heads and approach. Feint, stab.

"Ah, my kidneys!" cries BW as the other Bender pulls his shirt over his head, blinding him. BW goes to cry out again but hears the sound of a spell being cast directly behind him and then a hand brushes his back. He recognizes the spell and quickly draws in a deep breath. It is Aboleth's Lung. He feels the gills at his throat, but knows he is in the middle of a desert. He is doomed unless the cavalry arrives.

Meanwhile, Mac, the cavalry hears the cries of kidney-stabbing induced distress and ponders whether or not he will actually go to BW's aid. After a moment of indecision he runs out to the main entryway of the inn and waves Glira down. She parkours her way down the building and runs into the inn. Mac closes and locks the door behind her. He relocked the door. Such a small act, but one with great consequences. Next round they enter the office and Glira blasts the lock off the trapdoor.

Downstairs the Benders had been playing with BW, but now they look at each other and suddenly appear to split into a gnome legion... which then disappears. Mac begins to run down the staircase and suddenly lightning strikes up the stairs, metaphorically "effing him in the a." He continues downward and as he does several gnomes suddenly swing a blade out at stomach level and he impales himself. Glira follows down the stairs and begins to unload on the gnomes. Pop, pop, pop, watchin' Mirror Images drop. The real Bender in question gets winged but stands his ground. Gnomes reappear around BW and repeatedly try to sucker punch him in the stomach but to no avail. He and his attackers carry on their dance and more illusions go down and after the second time his shirt gets pulled over his head, BW cuts it off and fights shirtless like a badass. He tries to follow the invisible, but casting assailant by the sound of his voice, but has limited success.

Suddenly out of nowhere Black Tentacles rip out of the ground and the Benders are nowhere to be seen. Glira and Mac struggle but are trapped. BW struggles to not drown in air. Mac nearly is crushed. Glira eventually gets out and at the edge of the tentacles several gnomes suddenly appear and shank her. She blasts a few more illusions away, but then a crushing Telekinetic force impedes and the begins to squeeze the life out of her. And she gets eviscerated and hangs limp in the invisible clutches of the spell. Mac goes down in the tentacles. BW's time is dwindling. Hope is lost. The cavalry has fallen.

Wind back a few rounds. Remember that gun shot to blast the lock? A successful 50/50 percent roll gave Beltin and Tarl, on their way back from the Usurer with Beltin's skeletal archer bodyguards in tow, a perception check. A hard perception check. A high roll later and the duo pinpoint the noise as seeming to come from the Benders Inn and investigate. They arrive to find the door locked and are impeded for an extra round before Tarl breaks it down. They enter, Beltin Invisible, and follow the sounds of battle to the cellar steps and at this point they get to witness Glira getting her throat cut by a multitude of Benders, who all then look at the new guests and vanish in thin air. Alas, if only they could have arrived slightly sooner. Beltin dispels the tentacles and Tarl charges down, followed by the still invisible Beltin who moves to Mac's unconscious, but still alive side. As he get there, several gnomes appear and stab Mac in the face.

Coup de grace and then gone again are the gnomes. Beltin counters with a Breath of Life and remains hidden. Annoyed to his his kill stirring, but just thinking Mac was tougher than he looked, the gnomes appear again and put it right, this time beyond Beltin's ability to fix. Tarl duels the gnome legion before him and the skeletal archers pop some caps in some Mirror Images and are repaid by being engulfed in Black Tentacles, which Beltin dispels. BW, now forgotten and left for dead, finds a bucket and begins emptying all his water skins into it and eventually plunges his head in. Fun fact: Sun Bro had specified before he died but after he stole BW's gear that he was pissing in one of BW's many water skins. BW now realizes this. It may taste like deluded piss, thinks BW, but it's better than death.

More illusions and more invisibility delay the inevitable, but it is clear it is a losing battle for the Benders. Ninja Ki points are almost spent and useful spells from the Greater Invisible wizard brother are dwindling. Finally one Bender is slain and the other visible one runs to try to finish off his brother's murderer, Tarl. He soon joins him in death. As this was happening Beltin has edged himself to be in front of the curtain leading to the tunnel and thinks he will know if anyone goes by. He is seemingly mistaken as the curtain pushes inward of its own accord behind him as the last brother dies. And then there is silence. Beltin lifts the spell on BW and they get the story out of him about what had happened; he is now at least partially responsible for the deaths of four party members. New record! As BW is being treated, perception checks are rolled. Failed? Excellent.

Beltin orders the skeletons down the hallway only to find a short tunnel that leads to a dead end. At intervals are ladders going up to trapdoors, which the party realizes lead to the rooms above. Beltin Wall of Stones the ceiling, closing them off, and they head back out and search for loot... and find surprisingly little. The Benders had magic weapons and some small trinkets and they found a couple hundred bits, but was that all there was? Roll an intelligence check. Success. There had been some sort of lock box (inter-dimensional space, says out of game knowledge) on a crate in the corner before and there isn't now. The perception check earlier was to notice the last remaining , but still invisible, enemy taking it and slipping the Gem of Truesight out of one of the dead Bender's pocket. Out of game, invisible assailant, the unknown third Bender Brother that no one knew existed, Mage Handed the curtain, hid against the wall, looted the place while they were distracted, and then left up the stairs and escaped.

The party debates about what to do with the building and eventually decide to just leave it. As Beltin closed the ceiling at least if anyone takes if over they won't be able to run the same murderous scam, reasons the party. They take the four bodies with them and leave the door to the inn broken and ajar. Tarl makes a sign and puts it out front: "OUT OF BUSINESS."

Time in Camp: 46 hours. Self-defense kills: 3. Murders: 2. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 5. BW related party deaths: 4.

Tarl hangs the brothers on the gallows next to those recently hung by the over-zealous and soon-to-be-assassinated crusader leader, complete with a sign detailing their crimes. BW heads off to his room and his hooker while the other two then carry the bodies of their poor fallen friends to Griswald at his burial-mound-turned-home. They knock on the shoddy door and he answers almost immediately, up and dressed despite the hour. Beltin looks at him a second time and recognizes him as a ghoul. Tarl lays down the corpses and says they deserve a proper burial. But of course, but of course, says Griswald, and both realize he is lying. Beltin steps up and tell him to tell the truth or he'll make him a slave. He's an undead master man, don't f*%% with him. Grisward is frightened and says that surely they could not begrudge him his evening meal when he provides a valuable (and free) community service! Tarl and Beltin relax as they were expecting something worse. Still, says Tarl, he will actually bury these two and they will check the grave to see it is done and undisturbed. And it better be. Or else. Griswald is intimidated and accepts the terms.

Before they had left the Bender Brothers Inn, BW had ordered his skeletons to take some furnishings, including a couple mattresses. It all really pulls his stone shack together. Tarl spends the night on the guest bed and they wake early the next morning to a knocking on the door. It is a local courier with a note. A note from the Usurer. They take it. He holds his hand out for a tip. They give him some food. His hand is still out for his tip. They refuse. He tells them to go f%&! themselves and leaves.

The note is brief: "Noon."

So at noon the two go to his abode and find him not working, but waiting in his house. He is obviously agitated. He asks if they remember the conversation about there being people you can't hit without permission. Beltin hazards a guess that the Benders were such people. Correct, says the Usurer. They explain the circumstances to him and tell of the scheme, but he does not take it as an adequate excuse. He tells them the town economy is a fragile ecosystem and important people dropping dead left and right is bad for business, especially if they are in charge of such an important institution as the town's only currently functioning inn. As he can't be bothered, they are to handle the inn. He doesn't care how, they can feel free to quietly murder and rob guests too if they like, but it will run and it is their responsibility. Also, scowling, he adds they should have been focused on the job he had given them instead of butchering dishonest inn-keepers. Beltin says they would be on it, but you know, you called us. He tells them to get on with it then and get the f$&+ out of his face as he slams the door on them.

Casualties: 2. Glira Cross and Mac. Both slain by the Benders and for listening to BW.


I have the pdf of Tsar, but am getting the hard copy with Barakus. So much easier to read (for me) when I have a book in my hands. This thread has a ton of great info. Really looking forward to it.


I hope you have fun with it and it lives up to your expectations.


It's the best adventure I've ever run.


@Chaoseffect.

Great write ups bro. Love the black comedy vibe you guys have going through your campaign. It's also cool to see you actually squeeze so much gaming goodness just out of the camp. Please keep them coming!


Loved the combat with the Benders! It would be interesting to see your party and mine interact with mine having 2 Paladins of Muir, a LG cleric and a LG Inquisitor of Thyr! You really have an issue with Lawful Goods! Most of the rest of my parties tend towards NG to CG.


@KaiserDM

Glad you're enjoying them! I'm getting the feeling this is quickly going to turn into a town intrigue game with the Desolation and Tsar being more of a backdrop then a primary goal. That was a bit unexpected to me, but I'm cool with it; I'm sure they'll find reasons to explore the Desolation and breach Tsar in their own time, or if not I can always nudge them.

@brvheart

I don't think our parties would have too much of an issue as long as yours left them alone or at the very least didn't dig too deeply into their methods. They're pretty live and let live, unless they have a good reason to think otherwise (like greed). Actually I take that back, our parties would kill each other on sight probably.

But yeah, when I started running this game I was just off a Fallout New Vegas kick so I decided that I essentially wanted Caesar's Legion in my game somewhere. Plus I did start having a negative reaction to all the LG propaganda in RPGs in general :p... just gotta make sure it doesn't get too grimdark.

Anyway, here's the first part of my session for this week, and it's why I think our parties would never see eye to eye in retrospect. It got pretty dark pretty fast at some points.

Session 7.1, Officially mass murderers:

Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 9).

Bradley Weatherby (Human Dervish Dancer 9/Knife Master Rogue 7/Duelist 2).

Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor/Paladin 9).

Phox (Kitsune Rogue/He-kept-character-sheet-so-hell-if-I-know 9). Back story is currently ill-defined; didn't get a chance to talk to the player too deeply about it, but will care enough to hear it and perhaps incorporate elements from it should he survive two sessions. Phox walks in human guise and pursues a group of Tengu murderers who destroyed his home. He knows they hide in the Desolation and he seeks them. And they know. And he knows they know. And so on, into infinity.

Officially mass murderers, Session 7.1 - 6/14/14

Day 9, noonish. After meeting with the Usurer the party quickly prepares to head into the Desolation to fulfill their secret crusader extermination contract. On the way out of town with the menagerie in tow and the semi-crowds doing their best to get out of their way, they boast loudly about their intentions to go north and take care of the Margoyles that survived their first purge.

As they walk, Phox approaches them, concealing his true nature by walking in human form, and makes them an offer. He wishes to explore the Desolation for his own purposes and there is safety in numbers; going together is mutually beneficial for protection. As he is a replacement PC, this vague, shady-as-f~+@ story goes unquestioned, but on one condition: BW makes him tell the party, especially Tarl, that he has no intention of betraying, murdering, or stealing from them. He does so, truthfully. Phox has joined the party!

They head north along the road and soon only the incessant howling wind is their company... besides each other, but who counts that? After they are sure they aren't being followed, they step off the road and begin to cut across the Desolation, seeking the peaceful graveyard and the crusaders who are supposed to be camping there. They walk and walk and walk, and hey what's that? A DC 20 Survival check?

Nope, was just a bone storm. They hunker down and prepare a magical hut to wait it out, and Phox decides to lay down for a nap. As the storm begins to rage the party hears a soul-wrenching, but not too soul-wrenching as they all made the Will save, scream of utter despair on the wind. And then they hear it again. Two screamers dive through the dome and look for company in the form of BW and Beltin; both fail to squeeze inside their new friends, and BW viciously slashes one... who shrugs off half, being incorporeal and all. Still, it had enough of BW and tries its hand at soul-raping Phox, but also with no success. Beltin does his undead thing and dominates the one on him and sends it back out and up. It sounds disappointed. Tarl finishes the one on Phox and the danger has passed. About 10 minutes later the storm subsides and they continue onward, with the enslaved screamer following behind.

As they continue walking through the scenic Ashen Wastes, they finally decide to fill in Phox on their mission, and he accepts what they are doing without question in the way only a new, freshly introduced PC can. Apparently assassination contracts are just another day in the currently undefined everyday life of Phox.

Beltin pulls out the scroll given to him by the Usurer and realizes it is Extended Seeming and informs the party of that... and that it will have some other benefits to help them. The second part was a lie to get Tarl on board and he takes the bait. The party and undead horde are replaced by what appears to be a small demonic army; given how morally bankrupt the party is, it really doesn't make much of a difference overall.

Nothing else in the wastes harasses them as they continue on and by dusk they see the perimeter fence and some structures beyond. They have arrived at their destination. They approach, casting some buffs like Invisibility on BW and Beltin. They see some sort of movement further in... and as they get near they realize how easy it is to spot a column of demons in the middle of a desert. The crusaders spotted them and set up in advance.

Surprise round! They stand up as one and suddenly a Wall of Stone forms a dome over the archers, seemingly cast by the sneering, disinterested old man that they had seen with the paladin. Beltin barely escapes, and then immediately after they see the teenage looking cleric stand up and shout words of encouragement and arrows rain down on the party! More specifically they focus fire on the two lesser looking demons that are actually Tarl and Phox... Intelligence/Sense Motive check? Yeah, the magical disguise does not appear to be doing its job. The young paladin stands up eagerly and begins to move forward, calling everyone to charge; they do not seem inclined to listen to him.

BW and Beltin made the perception check and realized this was about to happen as it happened; BW parkours over the small fence and tries to move up behind the cleric, but realizes some force stops him. Strangely this spot happens to correspond to within 10 feet of the old man. Huh, that's strange. Beltin gives his commands to the undead and Gurg gets ready to try to smash a whole in the Wall of Stone. Hes does, but barely, and archers move out and are commanded to fire on the cleric and the old man!... the skeletons don't comprehend it as they see nothing there. Ffffff, thinks Beltin as he realizes that the first level spell Hide from Undead is his only weakness, but at least they can see the crusader archers! Tarl moves up to engage the paladin and battle is joined! Caepio smites the "demon" Tarl!... it fizzles. Yay, he's going to be so effectual here. The chimera and hydra begin to rush forward into the fray.

The old man looks right at the invisible BW with his knife nearly at the young cleric's throat, quickly does some Hold Person work, calls out to the girl to Purge Invisibility, and then lazily flicks his holy symbol in the direction of the chimera and hydra. Flame Striked! The girl hastens to obey and realizes how close BW really was to her. She steps away and speaks further words of comfort to the archers, one of whom is close enough to 5-ft step up to BW, but in an act of almost incomprehensible generosity and mercy from the DM, decides he doesn't want to coup de grace with a arrow to the eye, but with his mace. And he lacks quick draw. So he pulls it and settles for smacking him in the kneecap, thinking he will just finish it next turn. Meanwhile, archers shred the two massive and just Flame Striked undead and they barely survive. Gurg and the archers get to eat a Flame Strike from the old man too, obliterating two of Beltin's skeletal archers in holy fire.

Tarl and Caepio continue to duel and it is clear it is not going Caepio's way, especially when Gurg comes to help. BW makes his next save against Hold Person and then moves back to make Caepio's situation worse. As his last act he goes for one more smite... and he smites true. Gurg takes it and goes down like a punk, and then soon after Caepio follows. The mace wielding, would be assassin of BW, charges the hydra and smacks him down to broken bones. The chimera follows suit from concentrated arrow fire.

The fight isn't look good. The undead horde is decimated and the crusaders stand strong. Fortunately, the archers have taken damage and as the party advances they begin to drop and the girl cleric is gravely wounded. The old man calls forth ghouls from nothing and they move in to bolster their ranks, much to the girl's obvious horror. BW then runs up on her, and she tries to blind him but fails! He then cuts her so deep she wishes he didn't even cut her so deep. With their beacon of hope down, the the old man orders the few remaining crusaders forward, except for one who tries to drag the girl back further in. BW is having none of that and uses his attack of opportunity to stab her in the face to make sure she stays down. The old man, who had been injured by arrows but appears to be steadily regaining life at a steady pace (Contingency + Greater Infernal Healing), casts a Wind Wall as the man drags back the body of the cleric. And now that he is free from the harassing influence of arrows from Phox and the two remaining skeletal archers, he looks like he is going to make s#@~ real.

Sensing this, Beltin casts a dome of unholy ice over him and the crusader who had pulled the girl's corpse behind their new perimeter. Reflex saves? Yep, both fail. He then orders his screamer to dive through and attack... as it can only see the crusader, he tries to possess him and succeeds. The slow suicide commences inside, but out of party sight, the old man is supremely indifferent to the suffering of his soldier. So I'm trapped in a sphere of ice, thinks the old man. If only I had some sort of fire... suddenly a column of fire destroys the side of sphere facing away from the party. Yep, looks like he's free... but he waits. Beltin moves up closer and prepares to try to Hold Person him if he sees him come out.

Meanwhile Tarl leaves the clean up of crusaders and laughably ineffective ghouls to BW and Phox and Air Walks over the Wind Wall and lands at the newly created opening of the dome, but as he tries to push in his way is blocked by an intangible bubble of force, almost like Anti-life Shell somehow. The old man considers this young up start for a second and, almost quizzically, flicks his holy symbol out; Hold Person? Failed. With that he seems to resign himself to the tried and true and Flame Strikes the s&!! out of Tarl. It hurts. A lot. Tarl responds with a Dispel Magic and finally moves on up on the old man; Beltin is able to get close and poke! Finger of Death and he fails! Beltin excitedly rolls for a whopping... mediocre damage. Wah, wah, wahhhhh.

The old man is still up, but as Beltin touched him a black energy ripples from the old man's armor into him. Will save. Failed? Beltin used to have 10 constitution. Key word is used to. That Bestow Curse decided he could do with 6 less. It's pain almost behind reckoning for Beltin; he has never been so fundamentally hurt before. And it is about to get worse; seeing how he is trapped, the old man decided all or nothing. And Flame Strike! Tarl barely survives, but Beltin is burned to death in holy flames. Finally! Too bad about Tarl though, especially for the old man. One full attack later and the old man joins Beltin on the ground. The archers and ghouls get finished up without fanfare, and the possessed man finally finishes his protracted suicide.

Assassination mission complete!

Day: 9. Time in Camp: 58 hours. Self-defense kills: 3. Murders: 11. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 4.

The party briefly debates it but decides to use the scroll of resurrection they found in the spitting gargoyle horde on Beltin; he's a pretty cool guy. In another almost staggering display of generosity, the DM allowed it without rolling to see if they still had that scroll; its owner being incinerated in holy fire might have reasonably done some damage to paper after all. So the party strips the bodies of valuables, but make note to have some of the phat loot defaced before being used, like the girl's highly distinctive mithril armor and shield, as they are just too recognizable and they were never there after all (the paladin's great sword gets slung on Tarl's back with no consideration though).

They also find a scroll on the old man with several spells, including a partially cast Word of Recall; looks like someone could use it to be teleported back to his "sanctum." They consider using it (well mostly Phox argues for it) out of greed, but realize they have no idea where it goes, so it is an absolutely terrible idea.

As they gather their loot and BW steals the girl's Scarab of Protection (score!), he notices she is wearing another necklace besides her holy symbol. He recognizes it as the crest of a prominent Bard's Gate family that is tied heavily to his trade consortium.

>_< = BW's face when realizes he murdered one of his employer's daughters. You know, that might explain why she had all this shiny new gear. At this point he confides in the party and they briefly consider bringing her corpse back and claiming they found it (for a reward of course from her family), paying to raise her and being seen as heroes by her and her family, or maybe asking the Dweller at the Crossroads for a favor... they don't really consider the last one. In the end, they decide the best thing to do is burn the body beyond recognition and leave it in the Desolation, just like they had originally planned. Glad that's settled! While they were discussing this, Phox was busy putting enemy heads on the fence spikes. He is told to stop doing that and they burn those too. Out of sight, out of mind.

They head further into the cemetery and find tents setup around a fountain of a peaceful looking angelic figure, right about in the middle of the whole place. But they notice that they don't feel tranquil. Not at all. It's like something in the area has set its will against them, like some spirit here dislikes demons (or people disguised as them) carrying out massacres and then defiling the bodies. Who would have thought? BW drinks from the fountain and finds it safe, and then they tear through the tents for more valuables.

Besides random gold and bits, Beltin finds a letter from one of the archers to his young daughter, telling her how daddy will be home soon, but that he's fighting to make the world safer for her and he loves her with all his heart. Beltin quietly burns this letter, lest Tarl see it. BW finds a crayon picture in another tent showing a small child being hugged by a man and a woman, with the man in armor and holding a gleaming sword in the air; the caption reads, "Love You Daddy!!!" He decides to keep this as a souvenir of a successful contract. Sick bastard.

TO BE CONTINUED...


While it makes for a good story, I find nothing 'morally ambiguous" about the party at all and IMHO they should embrace their true evil alignment with Tarl converting his character to anti-paladin. I don't read much that is not Necromancer or Frog God and Bill doesn't use alignment much. The churches of Thyr and Muir are old and relatively small and lack power these days. They would not have the power to go on crusades and are more concerned with the growing power of Orcus and his followers in RA and Tsar. Yeah, RCD would not consider them anything but allies of the Usurer and thus needing to be put down. They might be more tolerant of them if they did not use murder and mayhem as their modus operandi. Why this party would have an interest in going into Tsar beyond setting up a base of operations along side the BBE that are already there escapes me. Beyond that as I said, good story.


chaoseffect wrote:

@KaiserDM

Glad you're enjoying them! I'm getting the feeling this is quickly going to turn into a town intrigue game with the Desolation and Tsar being more of a backdrop then a primary goal. That was a bit unexpected to me, but I'm cool with it; I'm sure they'll find reasons to explore the Desolation and breach Tsar in their own time, or if not I can always nudge them.

** spoiler omitted **...

If your party truly gets invested into the camp, that could actually serve as a strong hook. Think about it, they actually build up the town into something reputable and over time sort of become leaders of the place. It could lead up to a pretty big confrontation with the Usurer and before the town really gets going, certain parties unknown with Tsar decide to infiltrate the town or outright attack it. Cue, party finds out and knows they have to remove the threat if they want to secure their growing little feifdom.

Not to mention, parties like this can't help but want to know what kind of goodies and loot lie in an abandoned city.


@brvheart

Yeah, they pretty much are awful people and for the most part they acknowledge it, but in the grand scheme of almost incomprehensible mind shattering evils that exist in the Desolation, they are relatively tame and for the most part bound by logical motives (i.e. greed) besides wanting to watch the world burn. When you are comparing them to what they ultimately fight, I would say there's still some moral wiggle room, especially when you think about how they really aren't much worse than many in the Camp; it could always get worse. And it probably will. As alignment isn't terribly important to me I just let them call themselves whatever they want (though they may find Smite Evil begins to work on them sometime); I fear that if forcefully change someone's alignment they will take it to mean I am enforcing that they now MUST be an evil bastard as opposed to WANTING to be... if that makes sense.

I think their primary motives for going into Tsar will either be direct character hooks or just more greed; there is power there waiting for someone to claim it, most likely from its rightful owner.

As far as the relative weakness of Muir/Thyr, for my game they are essentially limited only to Bard's Gate, but they are heavily influential there; the crusade was more a tool to distract from rampant problems in the city and to give listless and potentially violent unemployed young people some purpose, while also serving the purpose of perhaps opening a safe trade route to the north that they would control; they really don't have the resources to do such a large undertaking. With that in mind they have sent only a relatively small number of "official crusaders" that are mostly riff raff as that is all they are able to muster, but independent heroes and mercs have taken up the banner on their own for their own reasons. Like the party. It's really just the place to be right now.

@KaiserDM

I'm not sure if the party would really want it to be a reputable place, but I could see them perhaps trying to put on at least an air of legitimacy for their own protection; it's much harder for the crusaders to justify slaughtering a "town" then a "bandit camp." I could see them setting up some kind of town council with them and important town members on it and try to get a Bard's Gate treaty recognizing their sovereignty drafted at some point.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Request for ideas:

My group's cleric just met with the Tsar Crossroad's demon at midnight and "Wants to vanquish all evil."

He is obviously going to die. However, I want to use his death to foreshadow some of the middle and end game (the party is still outside Tsar but getting close to taking their shot against Malerix). The player realizes he made a big mistake so I want to make it memorable for him at use him to get some meta-plot information to his party. So where do you send him?


I would bring all major antagonists from Tsar that cannot reasonably protect themselves from such a summons against their will (like Belishan) or are meant to be surprises (like the king giant in the middle of the city). Or if you wanted to be really mean, just bring them all... as summons. So if they get defeated they simply go back to where they were unharmed. He gets a chance to vanquish all evil and the party gets to see what they are up against in the future.

Or maybe Simulcrums of them that vanish upon the wisher's death; that way the party would get to see some capabilities and be forewarned, but the evils themselves would not necessarily be aware of the party by being called to them.


Here's the second part to this week's session. Yeah, they are firmly in "villain protagonist" territory.

Session 7.2: Got that wench a murder. Wenches love murder.:

Beltin (Aasimar Dirge Bard/Cleric 9).

Bradley Weatherby (Human Dervish Dancer 9/Knife Master Rogue 7/Duelist 2).

Tarl (Aasimar Inquisitor/Paladin 9).

Phox (Kitsune Rogue/He-kept-character-sheet-so-hell-if-I-know 9).

Got that wench a murder. Wenches love murder, Session 7.2 - 6/14/14

Day 10. The party, still looking like demons and drenched in their victims' blood, sleep like babies and wake up refreshed and ready to go. They climb the fence out of the cemetery (encountering nothing in the freshly tilled earth beyond the fence) and begin the long walk back to the road. Perhaps because of their demonic guise, nothing intelligent decides to do battle, but some scavenging ghoul wolves seek a meal and are quickly destroyed. Just before the party reaches the road the illusion on them drops and they head south; by that night they make it back to the Camp.

More people than usual seem to be up tonight and Lucky seems to be doing good business; perhaps in the "temporary" absence of the the "commander" Caepio, the men under his command feel free to do as they wish and the people left in charge know better than to interfere. Seeing the hour, the party decides not to disturb the Usurer and will see him in the morning. In the mean time, there's drinking and business to conduct. To the Sip of Blood!

The place is rowdier than usual and people are packed around the roulette table and several high stakes poker games seem to be going on; they can tell as knives are stabbed into the table for quick access and at least one man has his pistol laying on his lap just in case. Drunks are everywhere. The party finds some open spots at the bar and Lucky offers them some of the new house specialty; pure grain alcohol diluted with something vaguely fruity.

BW takes one and asks where the wench who was his special friend from the other night is, and then he sees her. She is sitting on the lap of a well dressed young man that looks like BW in his younger days. BW asks to roll sense motive: Yep, she's propositioning him. That was clear already, he says out of character. He wants to know if it looks like he could take the guy. Why yes, yes it does. He slips away from the bar and the conversation there and heads quietly back to the room he knows the girls' share. And then he waits.

Another of the servers approaches Phox and sits down next to him and asks if there is anything he needs. Anything. Anything at all. The meaning is clear and Phox pulls her close and slips 15 gold into her hand. Yes, there is a job he has for her, but of a slightly different nature than the one she is implying. And he begins to whisper into her ear.

Meanwhile Beltin and Tarl (well mostly Beltin) are having a conversation with Lucky and say they have a business proposition. They ask if he heard about the Benders and says yep, he saw the bodies on the gallows before they disappeared and Griswald knows better than to cut down the gallows bodies. Huh, that's weird thinks Beltin, but puts it out of his mind as it is unimportant. Well then, he says, you know the inn is out of business then and we have been tasked with keeping it going. How would you like to expand?

So the offer is made. Lucky will run both the tavern and the inn on their behalf for the low, low price of 70% of the profits. He is doing all the hard work after all, he reminds them. 60-40 in Lucky's favor and you have a deal, Beltin responds. Lucky is on board but gets them to agree that any security issues are their concern. Done. They shake and they drink to their new partnership!

About this time the young woman BW took a fancy to starts to head into the back with the well-dressed young man she had been engaged in conversation with.

As they talk, Phox tells the girl he wants her to start a bar fight. He doesn't say why and seemingly he has no reason other than for the lulz. She of course agrees and Phox slips out of the inn. The girl goes to watch one of the high stakes poker games where it seems two men had been having a disagreement earlier but had resolved to settle their differences in-game as opposed to out. She watches for several minutes.

"How do you have pocket aces with three on the board?" she stage whispers to the man she has been standing behind and flirting with, the man with the pistol in his lap.

It happens quick. The man across from him yells that he knew it and grabs his bowie knife out of the table and goes to lunge. The man he accused gutshots him, and the girl is nowhere to be seen. The man with the knife rolls on the floor in agony as the bar quiets to watch and the man with the pistol slowly stands up and walks around the table. He looks down at the man he just shot and then puts another round into his face, and the gunshot victim stops moving.

Day: 10. Time in Camp: 59 hours. Self-defense kills: 3. Murders: 12. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 4.

He quietly collects his winnings and walks over to the bar to get a drink for the road. People start talking and laughing again, but as the man begins to down his drink, Tarl tells him that he must repent for his crime.

In the backroom, BW hears a giggling girl pulling someone towards him and casts Invisibility. They move into the room and things begin to go as you would imagine. That is when BW steps up and cuts the man's throat.

Day: 10. Time in Camp: 59 hours. Self-defense kills: 3. Murders: 13. Maimings: 2. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 4.

The girl looks up at him shocked and then back to the man she had been with and then back to BW. It is beginning to occur to her that two men just "dueled" to the death for her honor (at least that's how she sees it) when BW speaks. Charm Monster. She fails.

She stares up at BW's face and says, "Oh my god you are so hot right now." Coitus ensues.

Back at the bar, the gunman looks Tarl in the eye and tells him to f$#@ off. Tarl stands firm. The man spits in his face. Tarl goes for his blade and the man for his gun. Tarl severs some tendons in the man's shooting arm, so, cursing, the man deftly draws left handed and jams the gun into Tarl's side and fires. Though wounded, Tarl doesn't relent and slashes the man across the chest and he drops to a knee. Realizing this is going poorly, he tries to flee from Tarl's wrath but one attack of opportunity later and he is unconscious and his arm will never be right again.

Tarl manacles him and then loops the manacles on a hook on the wall in front of the bar, so that all will see that evil will be punished in the Camp. Looks like he is on the path to taking over where Caepio left off, but according to him out of character, Caepio was weak and corrupt, things he will not be. Order will be restored. The Usurer will doubtless be pleased by this development, but then again he may not care as long as Tarl knows his place. Time and Tarl's future actions will tell.

Day: 10. Time in Camp: 59 hours. Self-defense kills: 3. Murders: 13. Maimings: 3. "Lawful executions:" 8. Sworn enemies of: at least 5.

BW finishes up with the woman he had just murdered for ("I don't really care about her, just did it because she's mine.") and loots the man he had just killed, the one who looked like a younger him, and as his clothes are ruined and worthless, just takes his money, short sword, and coat pistol. And then he finds his credentials.

It seems the dead man was like a younger BW in more ways than just appearance; he is a fellow troubleshooter for the trade consortium, though one run by a different contact. More interestingly he finds a letter on the man dealing with the "Rupert Smitty" contract; it seems he was here to poach BW's contract ("So me killing him was completely justified even if I didn't know til after"), though who knows if he even knew about BW. More importantly, BW realizes, he has been duped.

The contract the young man holds describes the job quite differently than how he heard it, about how Rupert Smitty was a man in middle management who stole from consortium accounts and then ran. Oh no, according to this new paper, Rupert Smitty is a fake identity for the organization's top and most feared problem solver, a man shrouded in mystery who has been rumored to have taken part in countless shady and often bloody dealings, Feron Amathy. The real contract is to terminate him. And it is worth considerably more than BW's handler offered him.

BW ignores the girl next to him and thinks this over. Oh yes, he has some choice words for some people at the consortium. And they will be renegotiating his contract. But why give the real thing to a young upstart and not him? Something's not right.

He gets out of bed and gets dressed and is almost startled to remember there is a corpse that needs to be taken care of. He looks over at the girl and says she can handle it, right, and she eagerly nods, still magically (and not) infatuated with him.

Casualties: 3. Beltin and two of his archers. Flame Striked into oblivion by "the old man." Beltin got better.


I like the idea of Similacrums or other illusions. Or you could teleport him into the city and let the party watch through a vision as he is ripped apart!


Back from Cozumel! And hopefully we will commence gaming on Friday.

@Zach - This seems like either a good way to introduce the Hammer of Mordacai's Doom or a reason to throw the player into a situation where he has almost no chance of winning. You want to vanquish all evil, fine! Teleported to the Abyss, get started! All wishes from the Dweller should end badly, but might have an incredibly small chance to turn out well. If its early on I'd definitely avoid sending them to the Temple of Orcus for any previews. You could give them a way out and have him teleported to the Pillars of Orcus near the top of the stair and have the Dweller taunt him to go further up so that he can begin "vanquishing all evil, its only just ahead...."


Welcome back James! Hope you had a good trip:)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

@ Zach

Have a procession of the more evil opponents from Tsar appear in spectral form creating a line of foes well spaced and stretching into the darkness. The first announces it's name and steps forward becoming solid and attacking the cleric. If the cleric wins then the second will step forward.

If anyone else in the party joins in the fight an additional foe steps forward and attacks.

I'd suggest starting with 1 of each type of the siege undead including the centaur like ones then the Seneschal from Kirash Durgaut, then General Myac (around page 181) then a flailing dreadnaught (page 166)then Malerix and so on. Describe the figures down to Malerix and let them see or sense that there are more besides those.

Keep going until the cleric is killed and then have all the apparitions vanish.

I agree with chaos effect about the opponents represented not having an idea about the party - this is entirely a Dweller at the Crossroads thing - but I don't think you need to explain it with simulacrums. In fact I'd say you shouldn't explain it at all so as to keep things weird and creepy and WTF-like.


Game 38 06/20/14
Roster: Tiefling Paladin, Half-Orc Druid, Dwarf Cleric, Halfling Magus, Suli Sorcerer, Human Paladin, Half-elf Paladin (after the combat).

Blood for the Blood God!
The party left off last game in the Crooked Tower’s Conservatory (room H12-72) right as the tiefling had gone up and touched the statue to activate the Petrified Horror. They had been chasing Janirov via the druid’s tremorsense ability. The group had remembered a rumor about a kidnapped elven princess, though none of them rolled anywhere near high enough to get the false history. So the statue comes to life surprising the party and activates its blood storm, blinding both paladins and it begins pounding on the tiefling not doing much, but doing steady damage. Though lite the acid damage is getting to the sorcerer who rushes out of the cramped room and the Magus runs into melee, but the damage reduction (and lack of evil alignment) is hindering her swings. The half-elf paladin being blind fumbles around for several rounds not sure what he can do, while the tiefling swings away blindly. The sorcerer and druid hear spell casting around the corner and identify it as resist energy lightning, he beat Janirov on initiative, he had been hiding around the corner. (He previously had blinked through the walls into room 72 and then run again through the wall into the back half of the hallway of room 70.) The sorcerer yelled for help knowing he couldn’t face “Belishan” alone and the dwarf cleric came running out and blocked the hallway with a double move. “Belishan” (shapechanged Janirov) stepped up with a flurry of blows starting with a Slay Living touch as the cleric though it would be impossible for a wizard to melee him down as he took almost 50 damage and was hit with several staggering criticals. The sorcerer takes his held action and starts casting Bone Shatter over the cleric’s shoulder, but is unable to affect Janirov. The rest of the party is trying to beat down the Petrified Horror, when the dwarf cleric is cut down by a round of devastating magically buffed attacks. (Holy cow Janirov is a beast when he is buffed.) The sorcerer alone in the hallway continues casting spells on Janirov who continues to shrug them off and rushes forward and decapitates the solo sorcerer. With no view of what is happening the druid peeks out just in time to see “Belishan” carrying the severed head of the sorcerer and he throws it at her. She had cast Barkskin and starts chain summoning Stone Giants. Seeing her summons Janirov calls out and tells her if she will change sides he will let her live as his slave, she declines. The half-elf paladin is free from the blinding effect when the Magus smashes the construct, though the tiefling is badly wounded. The half-elf runs out and blocks Belishan’s path giving the summons time to appear, though he gets bloody doing it, he is saved by holy benevolence (some paladin spell that heals them if they go negative). A round later Belishan offers the Paladin life in exchange for servitude and casting aside his false god, he declines, and the shapechanger stabs him in the heart killing him. The tiefling also freed from the blinding effect is healed by the druid and himself and he blesses his weapon, time bought by the dead half-elf. He runs into the hall with giants helping him flank and strikes Janirov in the face with his sword (he rolls a natural 20 and auto crits for about 140 damage, insane). Janirov retreats back into the hallway the giants unable to stop him as he defensively dispels one of them. The druid summons a Cyclops in front of him and another stone giant in the room with her and they all are swinging at the shapechanger. The magus runs out into the hallway and Janirov moves forward to kill the tiefling, but remarkably he misses and the paladin knocks him into the negatives. The giants pick him up and try to wishbone him, but are unable to tear him limb from limb (damage reduction). The magus runs forward and coup de graces him while the giants pull. (That was the gist of the fight, pretty rough.) At the end of the combat three party members lay dead along with a the corpse of Belishan, which reverted into some kind of cat creature. They gather up their dead and bless them, hoping they will not rise as undead along with Janirov hoping he will not return either.

Post Mortem Discussions
With three party members down the group went into fight or flight mode teetering on pressing forward for revenge or trying to flee. At that point the human paladin came running up to the party having missed the combat (Trevor showed up to game) and the party decided to negotiate payment with Kendrall to join the party (as an NPC). A hideous wailing from around the bend and the tiefling tells Kendrall to go check it out they have a quick discussion about what is relevant to their escape and what is not important, basically Kendrall explains he isn’t taking unnecessary risks. He goes around the corner (to room H12-71) stealthily and comes back and says there is nothing relevant and to leave it be. The party presses him for an answer and he tells them about the flesh headed statue and the group discusses it for a bit deciding they should free “him” if they can find a way to. He tells them about the shaft with the cracks in it and they debate what it means and how they could use it. They loot Janirov’s room (H12-73) finding the scroll with detect magic as well as the chessboard. They talk for a good while about the scroll, since it has infernal writing on it, but no one is able to read it. They debate burning the spellbook’s use of summon monster 8, but finally decide against it. The druid summons a centipede to climb the shaft and do some scouting, it returns with a count of 5 humans and one wearing red robes in the room above. Fearing that the fake Belishan was not the only one the druid convinces them they need to rest and they decide to check out the hidden room first (h12-68). From the description the tiefling did decide that the woman upstairs playing the instrument was the lost elven princess, though he didn’t see her.

Disco!
They open the secret door they had found last game leading into the Laboratory (h12-68) following the tiefling. They all start searching around the room noting all of the expensive items and pocketing what they can transport. The globe in the room blasts them with chain lightning and they debate breaking it, but Kendrall moves up to disarm it, if it is a trap. He fails and is electrocuted, the Magus heals him with her cure wand and he tries again successfully. They loot the room and head out.

No Rest for the Wicked
The party flees downstairs to the wine cellar where they check and see that the Malice is still blocking their path (my custom change to the Malice). They begin setting watch, because at this point it’s about 7 or 8 pm and they were supposed to escape around 3 or 4 just to have a safe margin of error. Kendrall decides to sample some of the wine since the players were being hesitant and he tells them it is blood. (I figured it would add to the mood.) The watches were set as: first Magus/Kendrall, second Tiefling, Kendrall, and third Druid/human Paladin (aka Jim the Second). The party wanted to camp down in a strategic location, but were very worried because with the cracks in the walls and the rampant rumors about vampires they were aware of vamps coming in Gaseous Form. The druid began Stone Shaping all of the exits shut and they hunkered down after the Magus activated an Alarm Spell. Sure enough the alarm rang out shortly after they started resting, a man they identified as a vampire was standing among them with a roll or parchment. It was a letter of amnesty for one member of the party if they were to pledge loyalty to Belishan and forsake their party, he invited that person to dinner. (Many jokes and none too subtle hints about being dinner later.) The party politely refused the request and the tiefling ran him through with a sword after he told them that King Kroma would be down to check on their accommodations shortly. The party flew into a mild panic, but decided they couldn’t do anything but wait it out, but King Kroma never came. (It was just a ploy to get them to try and run away through the death cloud or stay up all night and get no rest.)

The Pristinely Unlucky (Ungifted?)
Regardless, the dawn came and the Malice had dissipated with it. The party fled the tower and used Dimension Door to go to the Gates, where they could run across the swamp via Featherstep. (For once I fast forwarded and skipped encounters.) The tiefling insisted that they flee all the way to the Camp and then force marched them to Tranquility’s Face so that their only scroll of Teleport would not be disrupted by the mystical turbulence of Tsar. (The plus percentage thing between 50-25% error that I add depending on how close they are to Tsar.) So they roll on the regular table to Teleport to Magnimar and the Magus drops a 100, mishap! (DM mischief incoming.) Apparently their Teleport was so bad it threw them into the pocket plane where the Dweller resides during the day. He told them that they would be trapped there unless one of them made a wish, they examined the place and it was a twisted mockery of the Crossroads and no matter where they walked, all roads returned to it. The party determined they could Plane Shift out, but no one could cast it. They were stalwartly refusing to deal with him until they asked him what sort of plane it was and he explained that time worked differently here and that the outside world time would be traveling very fast so they knew they had to go quickly. The tiefling resolved to make a deal and he wished that his friends would be safely transported to Magnimar, knowing that the Dweller would twist it horribly for him. (Had he wished for them all, they would have permanently lost all their gear.) Indeed they were transported, without their gear, which remained in the realm with the tiefling. Unfortunately the Dweller’s deception wasn’t over, he allowed the Tiefling to continue as he had entered by the mishap Teleport, which transported him with all the party gear 78 miles west of Magnimar into the ocean, about 8 miles away from Hollow Mountain. Luckily the weather was good and he passed his perception to see a hint of land and after a swim check he drank a potion of Fly, otherwise he would be taking a long swim in full plate. He hunkered down in a cave, but saw lots of giants and the ancient face of a woman carved into the mountain. He has no idea where he is.

Streakers!
The rest of the party, magus, druid, and paladin were transported into Magnimar stark naked. Besides being gawked at and embarrassed they ran to the sorcerer’s home and broke in and stole some clothing. They weren’t found out by the town guards and they went to the bank where the Magus withdrew some of their Raise Dead fund. They ended the game Scrying on the Tiefling, but unsure where he was. (Although he had a coconut painted like Wilson.) Seven days had passed in the pocket plane and time was running out to Raise their party members. And remember the Tiefling has all their gear and most of the loot, including everything from the Treasury, minus the Jade Statue. Game Ends.

Fatalities: Dwarf Cleric, Suli Sorcerer, Half-elf Paladin

Note: Well I hope ya'll enjoyed that, my players were getting excited in that combat, but Janirov was massacring them one per two rounds. It was pretty gross. I went a little easy with the Dweller thing since it was a little forced, but still its an inconvenience, if they were lower level it would be more of a problem. We may or may not game this Friday, two of our players are going to Wargames Con, but we might run a side mission for the tiefling and others. Questions? Comments?

Edit: Just to clarify why Janirov is so dangerous, a 15-20 crit range with Staggering Critical with Aura of Destruction. Criticals auto confirm so if he rolls a 15 or up, the players are having to roll a DC28 fortitude or be Staggered. I think his AC jumps to about 35 after buffs and his attacks and damage get a huge bump too. My players never landed a spell on him successfully, the only reason they survived was a lucky critical from the Tiefling, but that didn't even take him down.

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