Inspectre's Curse of the Crimson Throne Alterations (Spoilers!)

Curse of the Crimson Throne

301 to 350 of 372 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>

Hey, I missed a session . . . .

Session Ninety:
Did Cid know how much time he had before he would go poof if he didn't find Euridice in the real world?

With respect to Wrath of the Righteous, I've seen several people post that it's not too shabby if you DON'T give the PCs any Mythic Tiers, but instead give them no more than regenerating Hero Points (although it sounds like even these aren't strictly necessary).

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Good news everyone! I’m back, and I’m back with some very exciting updates! No, no promises that I won’t up and disappear for months at a time again – I know better than to not promise that. :p But I *do* have something very good to report! Next session will mark the very last session of Book Four, after something like two years running it (which includes the several month hiatus I took). It’s been a very convoluted, meandering road to get here, but I’ll have finally done it!

As a result of reaching book five, I will be taking another break while Oliver’s player runs us through a second 4E game – and this time it’s actually a planned break! That should allow me plenty of free time to prepare the dark dungeon citadel of Scarwall in preparation for our poor bastards, er, intrepid heroes. In addition, hopefully I will have more time to divert to writing up session logs, so we can start closing that gap which is roughly a full year (50+) of sessions! Even more importantly, with most of the secrets and mysteries of the campaign laid bare (except for what’s waiting for them in Scarwall – shhh, don’t spoil the surprise!), I have decided to allow my players access to this forum thread! So now, with any luck, you will get to hear directly from them how I made them scream (probably in frustration for the most part >< ). So, that ought to be fun assuming any of them take the bait and chime in at some point in the near future!

Veltharis – Mashing Curse of the Crimson Throne and War for the Crown could be a lot of fun – for you. I don’t know a lot of War for the Crown since I haven’t been following it much, but I know it involves a succession crisis. From the high-level plot, I don’t see why you couldn’t mash the two together, with the party ending up in support of the “princess” Ileosa, overcoming various challenges including crime boss/dirty tricks bagman for the opposition Gaedren Lamm and a crazy undead cultist super villain. Then she gets on the throne and gets the crown, and oops! It turns out the crown that gets put on her head is actually an evil artifact from the dawn of time that takes her over for the second half of the game that’s dealing with the fallout. Managing the levels would be difficult, but if you’re mashing two APs together you’re going to have to deal with that anyway. Could even create a stronger connection between the party and the ultimate villain! Especially since they’ll be directly responsible for the disaster that is Ileosa’s reign of terror.

Domicilius – That sounds like a great game you’ve got there! Hoping you’ve got more to share now a few months on from that last post of mine! >>

Okiba – Perhaps you should have hired those adventurers to keep me here, hahaha! Sounds like you had at least some fun with the Wrath of the Righteous AP, which is more than a lot of DMs can say. >< Good show!

UnArcaneElection – There wasn’t really a time limit on Eurydice’s (her name I picked partially be accident, but heh, it turned out to be extremely appropriate given who Eurydice is in mythology) offer. But Cid was being hunted by an army of devils, which they caught a couple glimpses of now and again, which was being led by a Retriever named Zarix (so they could run but couldn’t hide). And since the devils could just teleport back to Korvosa and chat with their bosses, Cid dying and coming back to life only bought them a little bit of time as the army started heading back to Korvosa before they were alerted that Cid’s souls was not safely imprisoned in their little demi-plane Belzeragna. So Eurydice’s interference and Cid’s temporary resurrection thanks to Hazmarduk bought them a little breathing room.

I considered having the devil army attacking poor Harse at the same time as Zareem’s new raiding band for maximum chaos, but I was still struggling to put together the Battle of Harse anyway, so that idea got tabled in favor of a lingering threat.

Session Ninety One:

So the party got back to Harse to find that they had managed to get ahead of Zareem’s army and beat it back to town – barely, but a small party weaving through the woods would certainly make better time than an army plowing its own path. They returned to find the town militia manning the walls and prepared for war. Apparently Kroft had gotten her drunk head out of her self-hating ass long enough to rally what defenses the town had available. Which admittedly wasn’t very much, about thirty low-level warriors, the Horsemen of Harse, and a dozen Grey Maidens that wanted to leave rather than stay and defend the town.

The party actually helped with that last bit a little, as Rholand did his usual “yell at the stubborn NPCs until they behave themselves out of shame” diplomacy with Vaz’em snarking from the sidelines (I guess being dead, and soon to be dead again, Cid wasn’t feeling up to joining in the snark fest at that moment).

Despite the relatively meager defenses (compared to an army of ogres, owlbears, and manticores anyway) Kroft seemed confident that they could hold the town with the party’s help. Mainly, she wanted the party to deal with the dragon, as Zareem was going to be a serious threat to the low-level warriors of the miltia who would pretty much just piss themselves and run away for 5d4 rounds after he showed his face. That required getting Zareem to land where the mostly melee party could engage him though, but even here Kroft had a plan.

Taking the party up to the roof of the militia barracks, Kroft revealed that the town’s defenses had a ballista. Only one ballista, so the chances of success weren’t great, but Kroft was going to man it and do the best she could to take out Zareem’s wings so he would be forced to land. She even had a plan to do that, involving creating a “chain shot” ballista bolt that would basically wrap Zareem’s wings in heavy chain, causing him to plummet out of the sky. Only problem was actually getting the chain for such a thing, but the party managed to convince the local blacksmiths to whip something up in the couple hours they all had left.

I think there may have been a couple other projects around town that the party could work on beyond convincing the Grey Maidens to stick around and getting Kroft’s chain shot ballista bolts ready, but I can’t recall off the top of my head what they were at this point. Mostly, this was a filler session as I was still flailing, trying to get a full map of Harse together to use as a site for a running battle as Zareem’s army closed in from all directions. It sounded really awesome in my head when I first thought of it, and it still did even after I came back from my stress freakout, but making an entire town map in scale to serve as a battlefield was *hard*. So it turned out that I wasn’t quite ready to get the game rolling at full speed again, considering I didn’t have this Harse map prepared ahead of time.

Even so, it was a session, the party got to do some stuff, and the stage was set for the Battle of Harse. Oh, and Cid confronted Jasan after the tearful reunion with his family. Cid had been looking for the original second-in-command of the Order of the Nail, Damont Almson, for quite some time now as he suspected that Damont had escaped the Order during Domina’s “death” at the hands of the then-commander Leo Astares and went into hiding. Cid’s player had been jumpy about any NPC possibly being the outcast, and zeroed in on Jasan as a likely suspect despite Jasan giving no outward sign.

My original plan had been for a crazed hobo-type to show up during the end of Book Three to save Cid from the assassination attempt by the devils and introduce himself as Damont Almson. That scene went through a lot of revisions, actually, until we ultimately went with what actually happened – Cid getting ambushed in Vox’s quarters, Vox getting murdered, and Cid taking the fall for it. Which, unfortunately, also wrote out Damont Almson as Cid managed to very capably get himself out of that situation, minus the whole “your order thinks you’re a murderous traitor” part. So he didn’t need to be saved by some crazy conspiracy hobo type, which left Damont Almson hanging in the wind still.

In this case, I *did* decide to go with Cid’s theory that Jasan was the missing second-in-command, as it was pretty cool and let Jasan have something interesting to his backstory beyond “friend of Vencarlo”. Said backstory was that he escaped from Korvosa, met up with Vencarlo and some others, and they adventurered for a time before the two of them decided to “retire” – Jasan to the quiet family life on his new Blackbird Ranch and Vencarlo back to Korvosa to take up the mantle of Blackjack.

Of course, just because Cid was insistent that Jasan was really Damont Almson didn’t mean that he had any proof of such. So Jasan angrily refuted his accusations until finally they walked away from each other in disgust. But Cid was still convinced that he was right, a fact which was proven in the following session when Jasan felt he needed to dip into his old Hellknight/magus abilities in order to survive the battle.

Speaking of the Battle of Harse, we ended the session with the first ogres emerging from the treeline that began some distance away from the town’s encircling palisade wall.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Welcome back Inspectre!

Indeed I have a very interesting Curse of my own running now, though I've been plagued recently by large gaps in play sessions as well.

I have to skip over quite a bit, as I don't have the time for a full in detail write-up, but here is my rough outline:

my book 2:

Before starting my second book, I took a page from your book and spent a few sessions in an interlude. I spent a session with each of the players interacting with their own plotlines, including the Arabasti bastard meeting Venster for the first time. One of the other players' contacts wanted to escape the city with all the riots, so I had Vencarlo approach the party wondering if they could get Trinia out as well. Trinia isn't as important in this run as she was in the as-written version, and I just had her not be involved in any murder investigation at all. The whole city was more incensed about the massive crystal located at the bottom of the amphitheater and rebuilding after Gaedren.

Leaving the city by boat, I had them encounter some Hellknights who had some friend-of-a-friend connection to one of the players. The Hellknights had not forgotten about the murder investigation, and really wanted Trinia. The players didn't really understand why they wanted a painter of all things, but did understand that they hated the Hellknights and didn't like swords in their face. The battle was pretty epic, I had the PCs on a riverboat fighting the Hellknights on a low stone bridge overlooking the river. The PCs couldn't quite get up past the Hellknights' polearms, but the Hellknights were also unable to get into the boat for fear of falling into the water and drowning. Eventually the PCs prevailed, but killed 4 Hellknights in the process. This would start a period of lasting enmity that would end up with the Hellknights entirely leaving the city.

The coronation was, as I mentioned last time (months ago...) more to get the party interested in the city politics as a whole. I introduced all of the noble families (all of the Big Families in the Guide to Korvosa) as well as some of the notable non-nobles, like the leaders of the Hellknights and the Sable Company. I introduced Reiner Devaulus here as the Queen's new Head of Intelligence, and he thoroughly freaked out most of the party. They were also a little terrified of Lord Ornellos, who I let slip was a very high level wizard (as is mentioned in the Guide to Korvosa). The PCs meeted and greeted the upper crust, gaining a look into how the non-Underworld did things.

The coronation's peace was broken by an attack by Bloodveil Zombies (yes, the same ones you used :P) assisted by Urgathoan Cultist/Alchemists. I held the coronation high up in one of the outer gardens of Castle Korvosa, which meant the zombies could use their climb speeds to attack from all sides. The Urgathoans hurled Smoke Bombs and really did their best trying to keep the more combat-capable from massacring their zombies. I even had Andaisin show up, though she was offscreen the entire fight killing nobles and dueling with Blackjack (Vencarlo got in as Kroft's "+1," which is a whole other bag of worms). The PCs fought off zombies and cultists in their corner of the gardens, representing the entire battle which was being fought offscreen. They were defending the head of Jeggare house, who I painted as an elderly archaeologist/professor type, and the head of Leroung house, who I painted as a stereotypical over-enthusiastic bubbly scientist.

Once the smoke cleared (literally), the PCs were left in a battle-scarred garden with Sabrina, Reiner, and Queen Ileosa. I left a lot of evidence of death around the three of them, so the PCs would understand that Reiner == Sabrina in terms of power level (and they were already terrified of both of them, already). I had been representing Ileosa as a little anxious and nervous about her new role and seeing her local heroes covered in blood and smoke was enough to nearly push her into a mental breakdown. As she tottered backwards, she brushed her hand against the Crown of Thorns, which she hadn't had a chance to put on yet. I made the CoT the main actual crown of Korvosa in an effort to explain why the previous rulers had always been iron-fisted and kind of evil, but of course all of the PCs failed their checks to figure out there was something off about the crown. As she touched the crown, Kazavon buttressed her mind, soothing her fears and anxiety, and gave her the resolve she needed. She put on the crown, and all of the worry in her face changed to firm, hard resignation as she realized what this attack meant (she had seen Andaisin flying around too).

Reports of a new disease had been floating around the city the last few days, but they had been put down to just colds caused by the chaos of the riots. Simultaneously with the coronation attack, zombies appeared all over the city and attacked citizens in the streets, causing a mass panic (again). Reports from Sable Company members were coming in even as the last zombie fell at the coronation. Andaisin magically enhanced her voice as she flew above the city, announcing to the city that these attacks and the plague to come were intentional and all caused by Ileosa. Andaisin went on to explain Ileosa knew what had to be done to make them stop, she just wouldn't do it, and that she wasn't loyal enough to Korvosa to do everything that was necessary to make the attacks/plagues stop.

Ileosa heard this and knew she would have to act quickly. She took the party and asked them who to give support to, and who to withhold support from. I ran this as a minigame, where the PCs could choose which groups to "save" and which groups to "doom." They could get extra "saves" if they also used extra "dooms." Groups had a base 60% chance to survive the plague if they weren't interacted with, and a +-40% modifier for save/doom. Named NPCs like leaders usually survived the plague, but I had a few die for cinematic effect. The PCs couldn't really choose who to save and who to doom, but finally made all the hard choices. The crux was that the entire Underworld died off, leaving a huge power vacuum, the Hellknights died off, the Jeggare family lost quite a bit. Several named NPCs also got the plague but didn't die from it, like Vencarlo.

I'll skip describing the "deal with the plague victims" encounters, because they mostly amounted to running around the city, looking for Andaisin. They did end up fighting a suped-up infected Girrigz with a massive silver earthbreaker while zombies tried to swarm them, which was a load of fun.

The PCs eventually figured out that Andaisin was in Old Korvosa, trying to reach through the Planar Boundaries to get to Scarwall (which remember, I put in the Shadow Plane floating over Castle Korvosa). The PCs raced through Old Korvosa while that part of the city burned -- they were running away from fires started by rampaging zombies. They came to the lighthouse Andaisin was atop of and charged/climbed up it, wading through a horde of zombies in the process. Andaisin succeeded as they came up the stairs, fully pulling Scarwall into the Material Plane, but was unable to use its power to supercharge any spells before the PCs interrupted her. An epic battle ensued, and I ended up using her tactics and statblock almost verbatim from the as-written part of the AP. They almost died to her negative channels multiple times, and Phase 2 dropped 2 players below 0. I feared a TPK, but the rogue got a couple lucky hits in and dropped her.

For now, the city became at rest. The PCs figured out a cure working with Reiner and Rolth and got it spread through the city in time to save roughly 50% of the population. Yes, they worked with Rolth, who they freed from prison specifically due to his expertise with diseases. I had Ileosa trade him a pardon to work with Reiner on curing the disease. Reiner was a good guy in this run, and will continue to be one (for now :)). Old Korvosa burned to the ground, leaving only the stone structures still standing. Much of the city was decimated by the riots followed by the plague in quick succession, and I intend the interlude between Books 2 and 3 to be a recovery period.

My Book 3 is going to be the final chapter. I'm going to run a politicking minigame with the PCs supporting Ileosa versus her various political enemies, like Glorio. We've got 2 big megadungeons for the PCs to run through, Castle Korvosa and Scarwall itself. Scarwall is still hanging in the air above Castle Korvosa, but nothing has come out of it yet. The PCs all chose to back Ileosa, who had to make quite a few hard choices about dealing with plague survivors. She had to implement rationing enforced by the Gray Maidens just to keep the city alive, which didn't win her any favors.

I've skipped over quite a lot, but thats the rough outline. My players are chomping at the bit for more Curse, and I have to say that so am I. We'll probably finish by next summer. Looking forward to seeing more posts from you again!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Domilicius – That sounds awesome! And not just because I see a few bits and pieces of my own ideas salvaged and tweaked in there, either. ;)

Session Ninety-Two:

So, remember how I did all of this work building up to the Battle of Harse, making a full map of the town, planning out a rolling battle through the streets of the town with the ogre invaders, all that? Yeah . . . it ended up not happening. *sigh* The joys of DMing sometimes, although this one was wholly on me as I didn’t want to drag the Battle out over multiple sessions, so some . . . condensing happened.

Anyway, the party made a few preparations – Rholand cast Protection from Fire on everyone, including Kroft & the ballista, Cid did his usual buffing of Mirror Image, and Vaz’em got ready to go Invisible up on the palisade wall to snipe some ogres. I’m pretty sure Oli set himself up near Kroft in an attempt to protect her from the manticores. All of the townsfolk who weren’t fighting and too stubborn to leave their homes were packed into the small temple of Erastil that was Harse’s main religious site.

They had also gotten a heads-up from Jasan that when the ogres had attacked Blackbird Ranch, Zareem had found his “rainy day” stash of buff potions (i.e. his “oh s*~#” card should the Order of the Nail ever found him). It was a *lot* of buff potions, but it basically amounted to just slightly more than what applying the Advanced template to Zareem would have accomplished – except that these bonus stats could be Dispelled away (sadly it was mostly flat buff potions like Bull’s STR and Barkskin – should have given him some really nice ones like Haste and Displacement).

So the ogre army appeared, along with the manticores in the sky above, closing in from the south side of town (where the main gate was), along with from the east. No Zareem in sight yet (the result of the invisibility potion also in Jasan’s stash, which he was using to carefully approach the town to blast that troublesome ballista to pieces).

So the ogres and ettins advanced on the town from the south and east in a long, staggered battle line. With each group was a pair of owlbears, carrying a massive tree trunk between them to serve as a battering ram. The southern group would smash through the front gate, while in a strategy typical for ogres, the eastern group was going to break down through the entire wall, into the militia barracks beyond. Long range arrow fire went out, inflicting minor injuries among a handful of ogres as they charged towards the walls. Cid dropped a fireball on the southern owlbear pair, catching two ogres in the blast – the owlbears made their save and kept going, the two ogres didn’t and immediately dropped from full to 1 HP & 0 HP respectively.

Zareem made his appearance shortly thereafter, appearing in the air directly over Kroft and leering down at her an instant before he opens his jaws and dropped a blast of fire on her and Oli. A blast of flame that did something like 2 HP of damage thanks to the Protection from Fire on them and the ballista – well that was underwhelming! Zareem flew off over the town, cursing loudly at their damnable magic and got a cutlass slash from Oli for his trouble. Which is pretty much the point that Kroft twisted the ballista around on its turret mount, and shot Zareem in the back with the chain shot bolt. Boom, chains go around his wing, and down goes the dragon, crashing into the roof of the church of Erastil. From which erupts screaming as said dragon smashes his way through the tiled roof and slithers inside, dragging his mangled wing along with him.

So, that resulted in the big swirling fight on the walls getting pretty much immediately dropped in favor of running in and putting Zareem out of the world’s misery. Jasan, bolstered by a haste spell, got there first, and shouted about holding the beast off for as long as he could. Cid, Vaz’em, and Rholand all headed towards the temple, along with Oli after Kroft assured him she would be alright and she was going to use the ballista to put down some of these manticores (which she did, obliterating one of the youngling baby manticores a round or two later and earning her the wrath of the whole manticore family).

The town of Harse was pretty big when you were moving about it in combat rounds, so it took a number of rounds for the party to get down off of the walls and arrive in front of the temple of Erastil. A temple which now had a steadying stream of people fleeing from it and screaming in terror as they did so. Vaz’em, Oli, and Rholand (and by extension his new animal companion Bruno the Amazing Bear) got there eventually without any problems and pushed their way through the crowd into the temple. Cid, however, flying along just over the rooftops, got held up by an old friend-turned-bitter enemy. Cyrus, now a full-blown Hellknight, suddenly appeared on a nearby rooftop from Invisbility as he blasted Cid with an Armor Lock spell (that sadly didn’t work) to slow him down.

Cid stopped to try and talk the former armiger down, but Cyrus was having none of it. He blamed Cid for Vox’s death, demanding to know why he killed her in cold blood, how he could betray the Order like that (it would seem that the young armiger had had a crush on his commanding officer, making his anger over Cid’s “betrayal” particularly hot-blooded). Cid was unable to convince Cyrus to stand down, although not for lack of trying as he continued to try and explain himself while Cyrus wailed away on him. And boy did he – Cyrus had come to this fight buffed to the gills, and with a few tricks to specifically deal with Cid’s favorites – like closing his eyes and relying on Blind fight to ignore Cid’s mirror images.

I had expected Cid to get sick of it eventually, and knock some sense into him instead of keep trying to talk him down (as would have happened at the planned-and-aborted end of Book 3 most likely when he showed up alongside Gwen to stop the party from escaping Korvosa). But, Cyrus got some good rolls, Cid didn’t fight back, and despite fully expecting that Cid would obliterate the little snot with a Shocking Grasp Crit, instead Cyrus put Cid down. This whole “Cid gets his ass kicked” thing was really starting to become a persistent theme to the game, and frankly . . . well, let’s just say it helped mollify a lot of the hair I pulled out in the earlier books when Cid would steamroll over everything in his way. :D

So while the party dealt with Zareem in the temple, Cid got his ass kicked to negative hit points, collapsing to the rooftop and getting Cyrus’s boot put on his chest as the student Hellknight finally became the teacher – sort of. Cyrus kept ranting that he should kill Cid right here and now, but that unlike him, he would obey his orders to bring him back alive. At this point DeVries himself appeared from invisibility and in a surprise reversal of everything Cid expected DeVries commanded Cyrus to get off of Cid. The Hellknight commander then proceeded to feed Cid a healing potion, bringing him back into the positives and basically brushing him off and helping Cid back up onto his feet. At this point both Cid and Cyrus were staring at their commander like he had just grown an extra head (the impact was a little diminished since the Hellknights had shown up a couple sessions previously in that aborted scene, but Cid’s player had been pretty firmly in the camp that DeVries was a big bad guy. This whole scene turned that on its head and basically pile-drived it into the ground).

DeVries revealed that he knew about the soul-selling contracts, and that was what was responsible for his sudden about-face at the start of Book 3, when he vowed to Cid to destroy Ileosa only to turn into her loyal lap dog the next day at Togomor’s appointment to seneschal. The devils had come to him through a representative (I think one of the members of the Ornelos family), and informed him that if he didn’t declare his support for Ileosa, they were going to make the news of what the Hellknights had *really* signed public. And then as DeVries’s precious order crumbled into chaos and disarray over the immense revelation of betrayal, the devils were going to hunt them all down like dogs and collect on those irrevocable contracts. So to buy time DeVries went along with their plan, seeking a way out discretely – while Vox & Cid investigated with pretty much all the subtlety of a bull in an antique store.

He assumed that Cid was not to blame for Vox’s death, and that it was part of the devils’ continuing to cover up the truth until the time was right. Still, his flight from Korvosa had made for a useful pretext for DeVries in declaring the Hellknights were leaving Korvosa to go hunt him down (in reality fleeing as far and as fast as they all could from Korvosa before the devils could move against them). Unfortunately most of them would only be able to run so far, which was why DeVries had one last order for Cid to follow. He was to take Cyrus with him and keep going as far away from Korvosa as he could. On the way to Kaer Maga, he was also to make a stop at a druid’s grove tucked into the forest beneath Kaer Maga’s cliffs, and deliver the contents of this wooden jewelry box. Inside was one of Vox’s fingers – it was DeVries’s hope that the druids would be able to reincarnate her, thus freeing her (temporarily) from her torturous damnation. The druids owed the Order of the Nail for some help that the Hellknights provided their grove a number of years ago (ironically Vox was the leader of that expedition), and so DeVries expected them to pay that aid back now.

I had sort of planned in the back of my head that DeVries would meet his end about this time, charging into the midst of the devil army chasing Cid to hold them off (as they’d be swarming into Harse about this time after him) while something like this (Overburdened by Disturbed) played. He’d take out a bunch of devils with his bare hands as he had earned his moniker “Boneclaw”, only to ultimately fall to the Retriver’s eye ray bombardment or maybe even Mavrokeras, the devil’s chief enforcer (and Book 6 baddie) showing up to deal with him. Alas, with the Battle of Harse already wrapping up early, I decided against that plan entirely, and so after giving his final orders to Cid and Cyrus (which was basically “stop blaming him for killing your crush and help him”), DeVries flew off into the sunset, never to be seen again (okay, for a long while :-p ).

Meanwhile, while all this head-scratching drama and heel-face turns were going on outside the temple, the party was kicking the s### out of Zareem inside. They found Jasan fighting defensively against the dragon inside the temple’s main worship area, a bunch of magical buffs running and with Jasan fighting like a Hellknight/magus. Surprise, surprise (said no one), Jasan was really Damont Almson, a fact which he copped to immediately as the party squared off for a rematch with Zareem that was ultimately pretty underwhelming.

Rholand spammed Dispel Magic, easily stripping Zareem of most of his combat buffs due to the potion’s low caster level (and leaving the useless stuff like Resist Energy – since cid wasn’t around – intact). And then Oli and Vaz’em went in, flanked the dragon, and filleted him in 2-3 rounds between Oli’s crits and Vaz’em’s by-now massive sneak attack hits. There was no big brother to save him this time, and Vaz’em made sure the dragon’s head was fully detached from his body this time.

Cid showed up around this point with Cyrus in tow, and brow beat Jasan into revealing to Cyrus that he was his long-lost grandfather. Cyrus, hot-blooded idiot that he was, and hating his grandfather for the fact that his family had gone through Hell (to use a turn of phrase, heh) thanks to his desertion – punched Jasan in the mouth for his confession.

The ogres, hearing Zareem’s death roar (or something) immediately realized that they weren’t really all that excited for attacking a well-defended town anyway, especially one defended by people who could kill their “boss”, and fled immediately (before even the amphibious assault from the west and north as the ogres waded through the river next to the town started). Thus ended the Battle of Harse, with pretty much our heroes just having to kill Zareem the idiotic land pirate dragon in order to win it (which to be fair did make a lot of sense since this whole “attack Harse” thing was entirely Zareem’s idea). The manticores and owlbears f%%&ed off too, never to be heard from again.

But there was one dark moment that overshadowed the victory. Rholand, after standing there and examining the dead draconic form of Zareem, felt something stir to life inside him. Clutching his head, he screamed out “This is my world now!” and then collapsed. This was all the idea of Rholand’s player, as he played on the idea that his contact with the Crown of Fangs was having lingering effects on his psyche. Considering that I had hinted as much and was toying with the idea of having something like this happen myself, I was perfectly fine to roll with this! Unfortunately, while it was compressed, the “Battle” of Harse had taken up the entire session anyway, and thus we had to break before we could get any further.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session Ninety-Three:

So we left last session off with Rholand screaming “This is my world now!” before collapsing into a coma. The party was understandably concerned by this sudden malady affecting their healer, although what Heal checks they could make suggested nothing physically wrong with him. At some point Cid examined him with Knowledge: Arcana and maybe Detect Magic I think, and discovered a small burr of dark magic connecting Rholand to something (a lingering connection to the Crown of Fangs from his little ritual at the end of Book Three).

*That* seemed like the source of the problem, and with some more really high Arcana and Spellcraft rolls Cid managed to dig the darkness out of Rholand’s psyche and destroy it. Probably a mistake on my part as I had planned for Rholand’s Book Four arc to be about slowly going insane as Ileosa did from Kazavon’s influence, eventually reaching the point where he hallucinated a maimed Ileosa appearing to him in the same way Eodred appeared to Ileosa. Oh well, I figured out a way for that to happen to a lesser extent anyway, but more on that much later (during Rholand’s actual “I’m special!” questline).

While the party was freaking out over what was happening to Rholand, he was having his own issues as disjointed scenes played out in front of his comatose eyes. (To this b$&*#ing soundtrack – Firewall by Les Friction, which was also the inspiration for Kazavon’s declaration that “This is my world now!”. )

Rholand saw a vast army standing before a balcony, upon which stood a tall and stern-faced figure, who raised his hands to the sky and declared “This is my world now!”. The assembled army of darkness roared its approval, and then the scene shifted to a more intimate setting.

A dark torture chamber, where the same figure who had been addressing the army a moment before now lay defeated. As his heart was slowly cut out of his chest, the man growled his defiance – “This is my world now!”

Another shift in scenary, as a different man stood before a different army. But there was something about the way this new man carried himself that called back to the first. And as he fingered a crude necklace of bone shards (fangs?) hung around his neck, he addressed the army with the same declaration “This is my world now!”

A final scene shifted into existence, a great and terrible battle between two great armies, magical power flashing between them and obliterating them both. And at the center of this maelstrom stood the man with the fang necklace, doing furious battle with a stunningly beautiful woman with raven hair – although Rholand didn’t know it at the time, this was Sorshen – at the time the Runelord of (I believe) Temperance, before she became known as the Runelord of Lust. Once again the man fell, but even in defeat his confidence was palpable.

Unfortunately, at that point, Cid pulled the plug on the connection, and Rholand got no more confusing visions (at this point in time). He slowly came to, confused and struggling to hold onto fragments of what he had seen (which he correctly surmised was Kazavon at some point in time), but otherwise as well as could be expected.

Now that Rholand was back amongst the group in one piece, it was time to turn their attention to fixing Cid. Which was a difficult proposition – I had granted that since the Temporary Ressurection had created a new body for Cid out of earth, the group could use Raise Dead on it once the 24-hours were up and Cid expired once more. The problem with that plan was that the party had no one that could cast Raise Dead – Rholand was still a level short I believe (due to being an Oracle with a 1 level-dip in fighter, slowing down his spell progression even more – not that Rholand minded too much as those fighter HP and Fort Save bonus had come in handy a few times thus far). Being a small town, there was no one in Harse who could cast the spell, and it was several days of travel until they could get to a bigger city like Janderhoff where a suitable cleric would be available. And those days would be days that Cid would spend getting tortured in Hell/Belzeragna, which would probably feel a whole lot longer to him than a couple days.

Which is when the party suddenly realized that, oh hey, they had an entire city market that could come to them! Digging into his pack, Vaz’em produced one of the Foreign Merchant cards that the party had all steadily been collecting from when he would dutifully show up at the start of every book and hand them out because Zellara drew his card during the Harrowing. Vaz’em tore the card in half, and suddenly the Foreign Merchant appeared from around the corner of a nearby building. “Welcome!” He declared, presenting his (Metropolis-equivalent) set of goods to the party. Which meant that he had something like a 75% chance to have most any magical item available for sale, within reason.

As it turned out, due to an unlucky roll, he did not have a scroll of Resurrection, or even Raise Dead I believe. But he *did* have a scroll of Reincarnate, and at this point . . . Cid was willing to take whatever he could get. Vaz’em also had some important shopping to do, as he asked if the shopkeep had any scrolls of Wish or Limited Wish. The merchant got very quiet for a moment, dice were rolled, and then he declared very quietly that yes, he did have a scroll of Limited Wish available. But that it was a very dangerous thing to hold indeed, and Vaz’em had better be absolutely *sure* he was clear in the wording when making the wish, and not to be too greedy with it (cue horror stories of a~*&+%~ DMs twisting even the most innocuous wish to have a horrible and opposite outcome). It was basically like finding a nuke on the black market, and Vaz’em already knew what he wanted it for (nuking any Geas that was on Cinnabar when she eventually showed back up as she promised would happen) so the merchant’s warnings fell on deaf ears. I had planned on making them deal with an a~~!+*+ wizard in Kaer Maga who had accessed to a Limited Wish to fix either Cinnabar’s Geas or the one on Gwen anyway, so the party getting their hands on a scroll of Limited Wish didn’t worry me too much – I was 99% certain that’s what it would get used for, and if not, well, there was always the twisting of the wording if they used it for something extremely foolish (like wishing Ileosa to die or something similar).

Oli also had some business with the merchant, handing over his beloved cutlass to get it boosted in enchantment up from +1 Keen to +3. By the rules this should have taken a week or two in order to do the crafting checks and such necessary to buff it’s existing enchantment. I should have just had the merchant rub the cutlass on his belly and turn it into a +3 on the spot or something, but instead I played by the rules. And poor Oli never saw his cutlass again for like 10+ sessions as that “week” in-game passed very slowly due to how busy the party was. In the meantime, he had to use his backup Alchemical Silver cutlass which wasn’t nearly as good, nor did it let him make full use of his new Improved Critical feat that he got on his recent level-up, which was to replace the Keen enchantment. Which basically resulted in him spending his entire current level not being able to make full use of that Improved Critical feat because he already had Keen, he just wanted to change his cutlass up from a +1 (Keen) to a +3. Sometimes you really need to say screw the rules if they’re going to get in the way of fun *sigh*. Oh well, in my defense I didn’t think the trip would take that long, but things kept coming up on the way to Kaer Maga (seriously, we have like 10 more sessions before the party makes the week-long trip there, and they had already spent like a dozen more session in Harse. Book Four was crazy yo!)

Rholand may have purchased a few consumable from the merchant, unfortunately I don’t remember what, if anything, he actually bought. And with their business concluded, the merchant waved, promised Oliver would get his cutlass in a week once it was re-enchanted, walked around the corner, and disappeared.

With the battle over and the sun going down (I think?) Cid was in a bit of a hurry to get his rebirth over with. Since no one in the party was a druid, I believe Vaz’em as Use Magic Device monkey was called in as the understudy. He managed to make the checks necessary to impersonate a druid, have a high enough Wisdom score, and all that. And as the spell completed, Cid’s temporarily resurrected body crumpled back to broken earth with a final sigh of release. Some of the dirt was picked up by the wind and swirled around, blowing down the street and around the corner. And from around the corner a few minutes later was a naked, cursing half-orc (I was really, *really* holding out for a gnome. Because a pint-sized pissed-off Cid would have been HILARIOUS). But no, he got a rebirth that was pretty good for a melee-based magus, boosting his strength while kicking his already lousy Charisma in the teeth.

And that was pretty much the entire session, minus the party saying its good-byes in Harse and getting out of there. And by good-byes, I pretty much just mean to the Horsemen of Harse. The Shaoti brave Thunder f*$%ed off into the sunset, never to be seen again (thus far). Jasan managed to convince the group that he needed to stay in hiding with his family, a fact that Cid grudgingly accepted. Trinia managed to convince the party to take her along. And Kroft, the battle serving to remind her of who she was and wanted to be, decided to return to Korvosa and try to keep an eye on things, maybe even start some sort of resistance movement against Ileosa. Cyrus, of course, also traveled along with the party although he was rather grumpy about getting paired up with Cid (still had that chip on his shoulder).

And with that, the party finally got to leave Harse after a dozen or more sessions (counting Vaz’em’s “I’m special” quest inside the Arkona Summer Manor. Of course, the road ahead was just as packed with encounters and side events as I crammed pretty much everything under the sun in their way. Including some tastes of what was to come for Rholand, Oliver, and Cid.

Shadow Lodge

There is no such handmaiden in Queen Ileosa’s court, of course. “Elliana” was really Queen Ileosa herself in disguise, using the Alter Self power of the crown (an ability that she was actually familiar with due to being a Bard) to assume the form of an elf underling. I had plans for “Elliana” to become a regular traveling companion with the party throughout the coming Book Two, but alas, it never materialized as Queen Ileosa was much too busy fending off a city-wide plague to slip out of the castle and pretend to be someone else for a while. A pity, as the look on the party’s faces when they would have discovered Elliana’s true identity would have been priceless....

HA! I always wondered what happened to Cid's first GirlFriend. It was Rholand's girl... Awkward!

Cid's player, ladies and gentlemen. My most hated nemesis! ;-P

Shadow Lodge

Inspectre wrote:
Cid's player, ladies and gentlemen. My most hated nemesis! ;-P

Nemesis/Co-Soap Opera Writer!

Shadow Lodge

Just got to the resurrection bit AKA Cid's true form! Just you readers wait until he gets to Kaer Maga where things get weird and then weirder, and climaxes at the most awful thing Inspectre thing he has done in the is campaign.

Inspectre may get his pissed off Gnome Cid yet!

Shadow Lodge

Inspectre wrote:
A few minutes later, several guards dragged Adonis Kreed, wrapped in chains, into the room and shackled him down to the bench across the table from the party. Despite his condition, the evil lawyer greeted them with a pithy tone. So Cid greeted him with a punch to the face (ah, the days when Cid was a complete a@&*@#&). That got the guards upset, who while they were happy to see this guard murderer beaten, their orders were to keep him in one piece, and Cid using him as a punching bag was decidedly against that. There was another pissing match between Cid and the guards, which being a Hellknight of course Cid ultimately won, with the guards sullenly retreating back to their corners with orders not to do that s#&@ again.

I feel as though this was really retroactively a well deserved punch to the face.

Yeah Kaer Maga is a hotbed of activity for us, given just how much went down in that place and how hard we tried to do anything to actually help regardless of how much pushback we got. And it might be hard to narrow down a singular awful thing he's done; He's done several.

And that reveal most certainly would've been awkward as to who Elliana was. Though that would've fed into helping explain why I make Rholand so open with sharing info to his allies, particularly with the nightmares and NPC meetings and successful checks.

Hi all, I'm Rholand J'skar's player. And yeah, I should've seen many things coming.

Shadow Lodge

UnArcaneElection wrote:

But with a party of 4 at 6th level (especially Cid), they would stand a pretty good chance against Dr. Devaulus if they could catch him without minions.

Hell yeah! *Flex*

Shadow Lodge

Inspectre wrote:

Yeah – my players have spoiled me by playing mostly melee guys. It’s actually pretty easy to challenge martials . . . casters, not so much particularly if they have even a passing interest in bending the game over a barrel. I will hold off on any rants about 3.X/PF at this time. :-p Anyway, this next session was our *last* session on Roll20, as I fixed Maptools by sorting out my router the following week - hurray!

** spoiler omitted **...

Best trap ever! I'm stealing this one at some point.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session Ninety-Four:

So we started this session with the party on the road, leaving Harse and heading for the dwarven city of Janderhoff, which served as roughly the midway point between Korvosa and Kaer Maga. With the party were Trinia and Cyrus. Things seemed to be going pretty well, it was a nice day, and so of course trouble came literally screaming out of the sky as it found them. To wit, an armored wyvern and black plate mailed rider came diving out of the sun at the party shortly after they entered the open plains beyond the forest surrounding Harse.

Dark Rider Theme – Isengard Unleashed from the Lord of the Rings Two Towers Soundtrack

During the surprise round Cyrus got to be the unlucky winner of the dark rider’s attention, receiving the rider’s lance and the wyvern’s tail to the chest as his reward. He immediately crumpled off of his mount to the ground, badly wounded and losing CON at a terrifying rate (not good when he already had taken a bunch of HP damage from the lance/tail ride-by attack combo). Trinia jumped down to try and help him as best she could (Heal checks mostly to help against the *very* nasty high Fort DC of the wyvern poison – DC 24!). With the two NPCs thus distracted (Trinia busy helping Cyrus, and Cyrus busy dying), it was down to the party versus the dark rider.

Unfortunately the rider’s follow-up wasn’t great – or rather, there was nothing he could do to stop Cid & Vaz’em (using that same stupid wand from Book 1!) from magic missiling his mount to death. Can’t make Ride checks to negate auto-hitting magic, sadly. :( Getting the clue quickly that circling around to double charge/fly-by attack someone every couple rounds wasn’t going to work for very long before his mount just died from the magic missile chip damage, the rider descended and hopped off of his mount to engage the party without fear. Now down on the ground, the party saw that the plate mailed rider seemed to be an absolutely massive orc, with equally massive horns jutting from his head. The rider brandished its shield and drew a spiked blade (terbutje) from its belt and went straight at Oli, and the rest of the party was happy to let the two armored juggernauts have at it while they swarmed the now grounded wyvern down.

The rider unfortunately didn’t accomplish much of substance besides intimidate the hell out of the party because he just didn’t seem to give a f#*@, and the party had no idea what the hell this thing they were fighting was. It looked like an orc, had horns like a minotaur, regenerated like a troll, and hit like a freight train. Another of my custom creations – the orctaur, a blending of orc, minotaur, and troll (basically an orog on crack). As the damage on the orctaur started to pile up, it snarled and ripped its shield off of its arm to hurl at someone (Rholand?) before continuing the fight with a two-handed grip on its weapon. In the end, the rider finally followed its mount in falling, and stayed down after Cid obliterated its head with a Scorching Ray coup-de-grace.

Examining the corpse, the party found that carved into its heavy black iron armor was an increasingly familiar symbol – an impaled bleeding eye. They found a variety of surprisingly well-crafted weapons on the body, including the lance, terbutje, as well as a battle-axe and oversized punching dagger. They also found a folded letter on the body, on the sealed back of which was penned “To the spawn of Parashial Kalisreavel”. Which was certainly something that they didn’t expect to find on a random attacker falling out of the sky at them.

Oliver took the letter and after a quick detect magic determined that it was not magically trapped (heh, they had learned their lesson finally about Explosive Runes apparently), he opened it to read. On the inside of the paper was a map of Varisia and the surrounding countryside, including the Cinderlands. Near the border of the Cinderlands and the Holds of Belkzen a large X had been drawn, with the caption “Death Awaits”. And on the top half of the fold was an additional note. It read as follows.

“Greetings and Salutations to the latest spawn my old friend Kalissreavel had some human saarjar (that's draconic for "whore", by the way) squirt out for him. I sent my messenger to escort you to me so that we might have a little chat about Dear Old Dad, but if you're reading this I imagine he failed. Hopefully he's dead, but if not extract his internal organs out of his mouth one inch at a time for me, will you? In any event, I would like to extend to you an invitation now to come visit me at my new home. I've included a map in the likely event that Parishial hasn't told you where that is, out of embarassment of the fact that it used to be *his* home." I would sincerely enjoy the opportunity to make your acquitence at your earliest convenience, but if you like your father lack the stones to come see me, I understand. - Your Greatest Enemy, Zarmangarof”

Having never heard the name “Zarmangarof” before, of course the party was quick to start the mocking. And since the X was marked at a considerable distance beyond even Kaer Maga, the party pretty much chalked up going to investigate as something that they would do pretty much never. But thanks for the invite, Shmuckgarof. Gathering up the rider’s gear, the party continued on its way.

Oh, and Cyrus narrowly survived thanks to Trinia’s help, although he was one more failed Fort save or two away from death – I think I rolled only middling on the Con damage from the 1d6 wyvern poison most rounds, and I handwaved the hit point loss as not enough to kill him (Trinia may have spammed a couple Cures on him as well at some point). Anyway, important thing was he lived (for now *DM grin* ), although he continued to be rather sour and sullen at traveling with the party, earning him more than one lecture from Rholand.

There was no further trouble on the road, and a day or so later the party found itself in front of the stone gates leading into the dwarven hold of Janderhoff. And as luck would have it (*DM cough*), they weren’t alone in Janderhoff – shortly after passing into the cavernous city the party encountered the familiar face of Laori Vaus (yay she’s back!). And she had a party of her own with her this time – a dour-faced man dressed in elegant garb and a woman covered head-to-toe in thick burka-like robes. Laori was, as usual, overjoyed to see the party, and showed it by attempting to hug them – a bad deal given her spiked-covered armor. She quickly introduced the party to her companions – the Shadowcount Sial, and his traveling associate and “special friend” Asyra.

It quickly became clear that one, Sial was an a$~&*%#, and two, he and Laori grated on each other’s nerves, as Laori openly mocked him and Sial bitterly snarked and tried (futilely) to keep Laori in line as the expedition’s de-facto leader. Apparently the group of Zon-Kuthites were also on their way to Kaer Maga, to attend a “council of war” being hosted by Parashial Kalisreavel (hey, you guys know that guy!?) but on foot due to Sial not ever having been to Kaer Maga and not wanting to risk a teleport directly there (one of the many things Laori mocked him for).

But Laori also had business of her own in Janderhoff, which she immediately shared with the party. Pilts Swastel, the deposed Emperor of Old Korvosa, had sought asylum here in Janderhoff and while the mostly good dwarves wanted nothing to do with him, gold still talks. So he bought himself an old theater here in Janderhoff and holed up with what few of his followers remained. Laori was planning on paying him a visit, over Sial’s objections that they didn’t have time for these trivial diversions, so that she could pay him back for giving her an upfront demonstration of how his Tall Knife worked (well, almost – the party managed to save Laori from the burning theater at the end of Book Three if you recall before the guillotine blade came down on her neck). The party, of course, was absolutely in for joining her to visit the old Emperor of Old Korvosa after his part in Ezram’s whole demon portal plot (and sending the Punishers to kill them).

But before they could move ahead with that plan, they needed to find a place to sleep – plan being to hit Pilt’s new palace in the morning. Sleep arrangements proved not to be a problem, however, as a Varisian man came over to join the party after Laori & Sial & Asyra left, inviting them to come to their small inn, where their stay would be free of charge. It quickly became clear that this was a member of the Scarzni crime family, and they were aware of the party’s situation – and their deal with Oliver was still in full effect. Offering him and his companions free room and board was the least they could do – but of course, there were some strings attached. The Scarzni had a problem in Janderhoff that needed dealt with quickly and decisively, and since they were such good friends, perhaps the party would at least acquiesce to listen to what they needed? In the interests of continued friendship, of course.

The party agreed to at least hear them out, and stayed at the Varisian inn for the night. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go over their offer this session, but that was fine as it made a fine opener for the following session. The extra special following session, which came at my favorite time of the year – the first week in April!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session Ninety-Five:

So this week was my favorite week of the year – the week of April Fool’s! We started the session off with something serious, with the party discussing what the Scarzni wanted them to do. It turned out that for all their talk of law and good, the dwarves were still dwarves and thus could be bought off (see Pilts setting up shop here for Exhibit A). As such, the Scarzni’s “business associates” outside of Korvosa – a group of slavers run by a pair of fire giants known as Pyre N’ Slag - had regular caravans passing through Janderhoff from Kaer Maga to go to the lands over the Mindspin Mountains, mostly Molthrune and Nidal. Someone was attacking these shipments while they were in Janderhoff, and the caravans were getting supplies for the journey over the mountains.

This wanna-be do-gooder called himself Justice Fist, and he was making himself a real pain in the ass for the slavers, freeing a number of slaves, smashing crates of supplies, and beating up Scarzni and slaver alike. This sort of interference into their client’s business made the Scarzni look really bad, to the extent that Pyre N’ Slag wanted this problem solved – or else. And so since the Scarzni and Oliver were really good friends, they needed Oliver to go and take care of this Justice Fist – however he saw fit, so long as this Justice Fist stopped attacking their caravans of slaves.

After hearing Justice Fist’s modus operandi – namely running in from out of nowhere and beating the s%*~ out of people with his bare hands - Oliver actually had a pretty good idea who this “Justice Fist” was. Dodger, and he told the Scarzni as much which they were quite interested in hearing about, including that he had a sister. Oliver was not happy with helping slavers, but with his gang relying on the Scarzni and their back alley deals with Ileosa to keep his people safe, he pretty much grit his teeth and agreed to hunt Dodger down. His sister was off-limits though (a fact which the Scarzni conveniently ignored, of course).

Anyway, satisfying the Scarzni with promises that he’d look into it, Oliver and the rest of the party went to bed. At which point the weirdness of our annual April Fool’s game began, as Oliver woke up to find himself tied down to his bed, his gnomish hirelings Righty and Lefty looming over him. They apologized for this, but insisted that this had to be done for his own good. A pack of gnomes then came into his room, and carried Oliver, bed and all, off into the night of Janderhoff’s tunnels, down into an uninhabited series of tunnels leading ever deeper into the earth.

Eventually, they arrived at an underground lake, where a rowboat was waiting for the group. Loading Oliver bed and all into the boat, the gnomes pushed off from the shore and traveled to the far side of the lake. On the far side was a dock, and a sizable town of gnomes – although being gnomes Oliver was basically walking through a town of little kid playhouses. But it was a nice little gnome town . . . a nice little gnome town known as Margaritaville.

Theme Song – Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet

Cutting Oliver loose now that he was stuck here in Margaritaville, Righty and Lefty explained that their king needed his help. But they would let the king himself explain – on the way there Oliver stopped at a “lemonade” stand selling margaritas . . . in little gnome-sized cups, so Oliver only got a few sips of alcohol in him to cheer up his foul mood before having to move on to the castle in the center of the gnome city.

Ducking inside into the throne room, Oliver found a gnome-sized Dodger seated on the throne, who welcomed Oliver warmly, again apologizing for his treatment, but that it was necessary to bring him here. Only he could help his old friend Dodger – who had managed to get himself elected King of the gnomes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games, as the king was tasked with the protection of the mythical Shaker of Salt. Now the Lost Shaker of Salt, as Dodger trusted the wrong redhead (hrm . . . wonder who that could be) and the b@*&& had stolen it and ran away. Now, if Dodger didn’t recover the Shaker of Salt before the next full moon, the gnomes were going to have to switch to Bloody Marys . . . and they were going to use Dodger’s blood to make them! (It was right there in the town’s rules – King loses the Shaker of Salt, he gets ground up into the next round of drinks).

Reluctantly, Oliver accepted this “quest” of grave importance, although Dodger cautioned him that he would not be able to succeed on his own. Fortunately, Dodger knew of several allies that Oliver could call upon to help him. Unfortunately, those allies were currently busy at a match for the World Bear Wrestling Federation, so he’d have to go to their headquarters nearby to meet with them.

Grudgingly going along with this madness that he suddenly found himself in, Oliver traveled to the nearby wrestling ring outside of town, to find that the match was just starting. With Vox and DeVries serving as commentators (and a familiar looking old foe – Gaedren Lamm – as referee), music blared out as the challengers entered the arena – the Professional Bear Wrestlers, Cid Donary & Cyrus Almson! (Cid kept joking about wrestling Bruno and becoming a professional bear wrestler. He thought it was a joke. Well I showed him! Who's laughing about wrestling Bruno now, smart guy!?)

Theme Music – I Devise My Own Demise by Papa Roach

Unfortunately for the two, the bears – a swarm of Bruno look-a-likes – were waiting in ambush, and as the two made their way down to the ring bears clutching metal folding chairs in their paws sprang out of the crowd, swiftly bludgeoning our two intrepid bear wrestlers into submission while Devries screamed “It’s a set-up! It’s a damn set-up! Oh, damn you to hell you crafty bears!”

Cid and Cyrus were dragged into the ring barely conscious, while Lamm stood there conveniently looking the other way like all professional wrestling referees. Dragging Cyrus into a corner of the ropes, the bears took turns sitting on his face, smothering him with their butts until he passed out. Dragging Cid into another corner of the ring, they prepared to do the same to him when suddenly Vox cried out, and the music blared a new entrance theme.

“Look! Up there in the rafters! It can’t be! It is! It’s EL GATO LOCO!!!!!!”

Down in Mexico by The Coasters

Vaz’em leapt down into the ring, breaking out into crazy break dancing moves that confused and befuddled the bears, allowing Cid to recover. Oliver got involved at this point, but only to storm the ring and take out the ref (Lamm). It was around this point that I realized I had made a little DMing error – I had been describing all of this to the group, and while I had a map as well, I had forgotten to set it to viewable by players. So all they saw was a black screen while I was describing all of this nonsense instead of the actual map – which was unfortunate as I had created new macro sets for each player to use – including a tag team one for Cid, where he’d tag in Cyrus, who would immediately whine and actually do NOTHING! Anyway, the party swiftly cleaned up the bears, and after explaining his quest, EL GATO LOCO and the Hellknigh – Bear Wrestlers agreed to help. They had actually seen this redhead, traveling to the north through the graveyard of no return.

Not scared, the party traveled to the graveyard, whereupon they encountered Andaisin literally rising from the grave, who challenged them to a dance off. A dance off with her ZOMBIE BACK-UP DANCERS! The ground exploded all around the party as the dead rose from their graves . . . and immediately started to dance THE zombie dance. You know the one, the only.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

Vaz’em did his best to counter their thriller line dance with his fancy ninja break dance moves, but even EL GATO LOCO was helpless against the horde of zombies all giving each other aid another bonuses to their congo line of zombie thriller-ness. Things were looking grim for our heroes as the horde closed in from all directions and Andaisin cackled maniacally. And then, EXPLOSIONS! RHOLAND WAS HERE TO SAVE THE DAY!

Libera Me from Hell from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

With Rholand’s aid, they were quickly able to cast down the wicked Andaisin and her horde of evil zombie back-up dancers, and continue on to the final confrontation with the thieving woman who stole the mythical Lost Shaker of Salt! Arriving at the final room, the party discovered not Ileosa on the throne, but Natiri Brosa – I mean, Trinia Sabor in her red-head wig! Declaring that they were expecting the wrong red-head, Trinia awaited their attack, to their horror using the mythical Lost Shaker of Salt to create . . . TEQUILA!

Vaz’em was up first, busting into a fancy series of dance moves, but it was all for not as Trinia broke the bottle of Tequila over his head and made him swallow the worm! Cid was up next, and he chose to use his turn to tag cyrus in, hoping his partner would do something cool . . . only to be greeted with a childish pout and a stern “No!” Rholand, feeling that this was the only way to win, used his giant Ban hammer to Ban . . . ALCOHOL (gasp!) Trinia admonishing him for his recklessness, the ground began to split open and the entire cavern come down on their heads – Rholand was sucked into a chasm that yawned open, never to be seen again.

And then it was Oliver’s turn, their last hope for victory. Who in a freakish turn of events, proceeded to give live birth to every single character from the campaign thus far!? (*record skirtch* o_O ) Whatever, it was good enough to secure the win (I liked picturing it as something like this scene where everyone bands together to overwhelm Trinia through sheer numbers). With the mythical Lost Shaker of Salt secured, Oliver was victorious – at which point he woke up from his bizarre dream . . . with an odd, inexplicable desire for margaritas. HAPPY APRIL FOOLS!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session Ninety-Six:

So, back to more serious business as the party woke up the next morning and prepared to deal with Pilts Swastel once and for all. They met up with Laori – Sial was not going to waste any time on this “petty” grudge – and headed up the mountain. Outside of Janderhoff’s extensive tunnel system, built on the side of the mountain itself about halfway up, was an old theater that Pilts had purchased with plans to renovate. Not having any idea who he was aside from a creepy human from Korvosa, the dwarves let him buy the dilapidated old structure and move in with what was left of his Imperial Court. Focused on re-establishing himself and hiding from any retribution from Korvosa, Pilts was keeping his head down for the moment but seemed to be keeping lax security.

A fact that was confirmed after the party trekked up the side of the mountain to find a handful of dwarven laborers working on the theater’s outside without oversight from any imperial lackeys. Rholand being his typical do-gooder self, made friends with the surly laborers and flipped them all a platinum piece for some information on the layout of the theater and to tell them to take a hike, they were done with work for today.

Now aware that Pilts was indeed present in the main stage part of the theater, the party advanced cautiously into the theater’s lobby, but not before Vaz’em spiked shut the theater’s side entrance – there would be no escape for Pilts. Going into the lobby, the party found several more dwarves for Rholand to pay off, and several more doors for Vaz’em to spike shut, including one set of double doors leading into the theater proper. And then with a minimal amount of preparation the party stormed the theater.

Pilts’ Theme – Vicarious by Tool

On paper, the fight that awaited the party was a difficult one – 8 of the Imperial troopers (warrior 5s), 3 of the Imperial officers (one each of the 7th level fighter, wolverine-esque ranger, rogue sniper), 2 Brass Juggernauts (two big dwarven statues that were CR 7 apiece), Jabbyr Pilts’ mute gnome barbarian bodyguard (9th level), and finally Pilts himself (11th level Bard) to amp them all up. In practice Rholand cast Blessing of Fervor, the party left Laori to AoE most of the troopers down with Channel Negative Energy and charged the stage. Oliver got there first ahead of the party (can’t remember exactly how he got so far ahead of the others), charging onto the stage and greeting Pilts with a hard slash to the chest.

Things *did* look bad there in the next moments as Pilts retaliated by making his concentration check to cast in melee, hitting Oliver with a Hideous Laughter while Jabbyr and the two Imperials officers also on stage (the rogue sniper was up in the rafters snping) closed in to hack him to pieces while he started laughing uncontrollably. Unfortunately for Pilts, Oliver was a half-elf, and that bonus to enchantment saves meant that he laughed off the spell, not started laughing. Still, getting surrounded by three melee beatsticks was not a fun time, and the rest of the party made it a priority to get up on the stage to help Oli. Except Rholand, who single-handedly demolished at least one of the brass juggernauts with his destructive touch revealation, which does *a lot* of damage to objects/golems. The other one was dropped from a variety of attacks from the group, fireballs from Cid, etc.

Pilts didn’t have much better luck with any of his other spells, either as the party all made their Will saves against his Confusion, and Cid made his save against the Antithetical Constraint spell that would have prevented him from attacking Pilts (Pilts being a bard was NE, and the spell would have forced Cid to only attack CE targets as his alignment was now LG). He did manage a Shocking Images spell at one point to try and survive another couple rounds, but even here he had no luck as a Dispel Magic from either Rholand or Cid stripped it away almost immediately. Jabbyr tried to protect his boss by using his Groundbreaker barbarian rage power to shatter the theater floor right in front of Pilts, which would have sent the group tumbling down into the room underneath the stage, but everyone made their Reflex saves to jump back out of the way. Including Vaz’em, who ended up on the Pilts’ side of the pit right next to him while under the effect of his Improved Invisibility trick. Cue the chunky salsa track, courtesy of EL GATO LOCO.

Not that there was much left of the opposition aside from Jabbyr (Oliver and Cid had spent their own turns hacking down the two officers, and the last couple of troopers had surrendered, giving cyrus something to do as he went around tying them up), but a stunned silence filled the theater as Pilts fell to the stage in five separate pieces. And then a burning, stabbing pain filled Rholand’s chest from where he had been stabbed by Togomor, an instant before the shadows up in the rafters of the stage tore open to disgorge a bat-like creature of pure darkness and malice the size of a small building, crashing to the stage on top of Pilts’ remains and turning him into literal salsa. Cue the “PCs pissing themselves” track, especially Vaz’em who was now right next to the immense terrifying beast – a beast that could clearly see him despite the improved invisibility.


The beast roared, turning its head at an unnatural angle to affix its empty black eye sockets solidly on Rholand.


And that was the end of this session! Will our heroes escape certain death? (Yes.) Will Rholand sacrifice himself for his friends? (Nope!) Tune in next time, same cursed forum thread, same – well, there isn’t really a set time that I manage to get these things put together, is there? Well, whenever I get the next session write up written up, you’ll get to find out how they escaped from a CR 14 Nightwing.

Whoa, all of a sudden a grand reappearance, and nobody told me! Overall pretty awesome turns of events all the way up through Session Ninety-Six, although the (not yet delivered) deal with the Sczarni is worrisome. And I see that Rholand seems to be not off the hook yet from whatever was partially possessing him (assuming that the monster that showed up at the end of Session Ninety-Six is related to that) . . . .

And by the way, have you started doing anything with Horror Adventures/Horror Realms yet?

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Not yet! Although with Scarwall coming up, I may have to give it a read through. >:)

Session Ninety-Seven:

The Nightwing was sort of related to Rholand’s crown fiasco, in the sense that they both had a common origin point: Togomor. I had planned on including a scene with Togomor in the (never written) Book Four intro sequence, showing him plotting against Rholand by enacting an ancient Thassilon ritual known as a Blood Curse. He managed this by using the blood Rholand left on the dagger that Gwen pried out of his chest during Togomor’s attempt on his life at the end of Book Three.

The Blood Curse was basically a form of punishment enacted by the Runelords upon people they didn’t like by siccing a horde of extremely powerful outsiders/monsters on them in a high-level D&D version of a fox hunt. The winning monster getting to take the victim’s soul to do with whatever they pleased so long as it was unpleasant. In Rholand’s case, this meant three powerful monsters were now on his tail, hunting him down without mercy or pause until he was dead. The musical theme for these three hunters (or Claimants as I called them) was the same, and they were actually inspired by the song (indeed the nature of each hunter was more or less inspired by one of the “voices” in the song itself). And the Nightwing found Rholand first, making it the First Claimant.

Theme of the Claimants - Rain of Brass Petals from Silent Hill 3

So Vaz’em was rightly pissing himself at the Nightwing’s sudden appearance right next to him, especially since (with the stage being dimly lit) the Nightwing could see him despite his Greater Invisibility ninja trick. Laori was also afraid, because being a servant of Zon-Kuthon she knew exactly what this thing was, and so called out to the party that this was one of those things you don’t try to fight and instead just run away from, since as a being of pure shadow it would not be able to follow them outside into the bright daylight (a solution that would only be available for another twelve hours or so).

Taking her advice, Oli, Cid, and Vaz’em dive off the stage, but of course being a raging enemy barbarian Jabbyr didn’t, and charged the ugly monstrosity that had just crushed his former boss into crimson jelly. The Nightwing simply laughed, scooped the gnome up in its mouth with its AoO, and threw him down into the pit leading to underneath the stage. So much for Jabbyr (although technically he survived the bite and fall damage . . . maybe I should have him come back some time as a villain in someone else’s employ). That also used the Nightwing’s AoO, allowing Vaz’em and Cid to get clear without risking their own bite attack.

Focused only on Rholand, the Nightwing crawled on its insectoid front legs (the picture I found suggested a sort of cross between a butterfly and a bat, which sounded pretty good given the butterfly is Desna’s symbol and I could see Zon-Kuthon going for a bit of mockery/desecration) to the edge of the stage, its sole focus on Rholand who was still in the front couple rows of seats. As it turned out, the Nightwing was precisely five feet short of the range of its Finger of Death spell-like ability – couldn’t have planned that better if I had tried, as the goal was, after all, to scare the s**! out of Rholand, not kill him in the first moments of the hunt).

So instead it focused its attention on Cid’s sword that he had left on the stage – the Nightwing could eat magic, and a Magus Blackblade’s weapon was certainly quite magical! So the Nightwing scooped Retribution up, sucked the magic out of it, and then bit down, shattering the supposedly unbreakable (while Cid had at least 1 Arcana point left!) blade. Cid’s eyes got big at that one – fortunately he was still able to summon the hilt of Retribution to him on his next turn, and since technically he had made Retribution in the first place at the start of Book Three by spending an Arcana point to repair the blade, I let him do so again here to get Retribution back in one piece after all the shock of the moment wore off. For I am a kind and merciful DM (as Xerxes from 300 would say).

Around that point, Trinia who had been back up at the entrance to the theater hopped into the “control” booth at the back, and angled the sunlight reflecting mirrors that had been set up to serve as spotlights onto the Nightwing, causing its flesh to burn and to make it give an undignified shriek of rage. This distracted the Nightwing for another round as it spent a turn casting Deeper Darkness on itself to block out the sunlight spotlights, giving the party time to escape. Which turned out to be not much of an issue once the party was all off the stage – basically Rholand cast Blessing of Fervor, and they all ran away at warp speed, exiting the theater in a round. So that was a bit anticlimactic, but on the flip side the Nightwing could have killed someone outright on a failed Fort save versus that Finger of Death, so it was for the best that the party didn’t stick around.

Outside in the bright, safe, sunlight, the party debated just how deep of s#!@ they were in. At this point they still didn’t know anything about Rholand’s situation, just that apparently obscenely powerful monsters (like a CR 14 Nightwing) were now hunting Rholand to take possession of his soul. Laori suggested that they speak of this problem with Sial, who being an occult sage type might have some idea of how they could fix this. Sial did recognize Rholand’s condition as the Blood Hunt, an ancient Thassilon ritual, and that the Nightwing would not stop hunting him until one of them was dead. Given sundown was in a matter of hours, the party probably couldn’t manage to get far enough away that the Nightwing wouldn’t be able to catch up.

Instead, in return for the promise of a favor from Rholand, Sial offered to teleport Rholand along with Laori and Asyara to Kaer Maga, which would give them some breathing room. Hopefully with the time they gained before the Nightwing caught up, they would be able to use Kaer Maga’s Great Library to research the Blood Curse more thoroughly and figure out how to dispel it. Seeing no other options beside fighting to someone’s death against the Nightwing, Rholand agreed and the group teleported away to Kaer Maga, leaving Cid, Oliver, and Vaz’em behind to catch up as soon as they could. (This worked out as well as Rholand’s player was going to be absent next week anyway, and I hosted a few private games for him in Kaer Maga before the party caught up).

Meanwhile, before heading on to Kaer Maga the reduced party still had a few other bits of business to take care of. Namely, seeing the druids to the north about reincarnating Ronda and Vox’s severed finger that Cid had been entrusted with. And, of course, fulfilling the Scarzni’s little problem with JUSTICE FIST (AKA Dodger)! The party settled on getting Oliver’s cohort back in the land of the living (and Cid’s girl friend – not to be confused with girlfriend!) first.

Riding north from Janderhoff, the party arrived in the section of forest that housed the druid’s grove without incident. Shortly after leaving the road, however, they were accosted by a pair of centaurs who asked what their business here was. When they mentioned that they were here to see the druids after reviving a member of the Order of the Nail the centaurs got a lot more cooperative, as apparently the Order had done something for the Grove a number of years ago, and now it was time for that debt to be paid (something DeVries had been counting on to get the druids’ cooperation and why he had pushed for Cid to take Vox’s remains – if a finger could count as that – there).

The centaurs showed the party to the grove, which was little more than a small clearing in the forest, with a large pool of water at its center. The presiding druid was a goofy old man, and without any direction from the campaign material, I just made him be a druid that Oliver’s player had played in a different campaign, a crazy old coot druid named Griswold. Griswold gave some in-jokes, munched on some mistletoe, and just generally was crazy and goofy, but ultimately helpful. Since they were here from the Order of the Nail, who the druids’ grove considered friends, Griswold was willing to reincarnate Ronda and Vox.

However, there was some trouble that the grove was having that he expected the party to help with in exchange for Ronda’s reincarnate (Vox had already paid for hers with the prior aid, essentially). Apparently the same old evil that the Hellknights had driven off last time had returned, and was making trouble by kidnapping Fey from the surrounding forest, which were under the grove’s protection. The party agreed to that, and Griswold got down to business, starting with Ronda.

Ronda’s dead body was placed in the pool at the center of the grove, Griswold jammed some mistletoe into the corspes’s mouth, and as he recited the spell her body sank beneath the surface of the water. Several minutes later, Ronda came sputtering back to life, and swam back up to the surface . . . as a kobold. This was a bit of a disappointment for Oliver’s player, as while the transformation boosted her Dex it gave her the Small size penalty for CMD checks, which was her whole schtick with the whip disarming and such. Also, it tanked her Constitution even further, making it a question of when, not if, she would die yet again. Still, at least Oliver had a cohort again.

Griswold then wrapped Vox’s finger in some mistletoe, tossed it into the pool, and read a new Reincarnate off of a scroll that he happened to have handy. Several minutes past, and then the waters erupted as Vox emerged – as yes, you guessed it, a CENTAUR! Bit of DM hand-waving there considering a centaur is more or less a natural 100 and the DM deciding to be nice instead of a dick, but it was my plan to reconcile the whole LE human/LG centaur issue. For now, Vox was probably closer to LN, but like Cid she would seek redemption before the end of Book Four (though trading her magus levels in to become a Star Order Cavalier, rather than a straight paladin).

As it turned out, Vox had been the one leading the Hellknights the day that they drove off the evil threatening the druid’s grove. As such she was able to provide the party a little bit of background on what said evil was – a night hag by the name of Malathrope (yes, the same one as in Book Five Skeletons of Scarwall – Scarwall was letting her out to play early in an attempt to gather more souls for the nightmarish realm to feed on). Apparently, the grove had been expecting the arrival of a fey seer soon, as the seer periodically came by to visit – and he hadn’t shown up.

With that as a lead to where they might find this resurgent evil, the party headed for the seer’s section of the forest. Which is where we ended this session, although sadly the next session was a bit of a disappointment as Malathrope certainly didn’t live up to her hype!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session Ninety-Eight:

So with an idea of where to start their investigation, the party traveled to the Seer’s section of the forest (the Seer being a Faerie Seer fey), and found the wizened old man looking fey tied up at the feet of a withered old crone – Malatrothe. The night hag and the party exchanged smack talk, and Malatrothe revealed that she had brought back-up. Expecting some Hellknights or some other do-gooder to show up to interfere in her soul collection business (this time on behalf of Scarwall that hungered for more fey souls), Malatrothe had hired some bodyguards.

Two elf-like fey materialized out of the shadows of the forest a short distance away from the party, wielding curved elven blades. Malatrothe introduced them as svar’tal’far, elite fey assassins, and if anyone messed with her, the party would feel their wrath. She might as well have not wasted her breath, because of course the party was not intimidated by only *two* mystical fey assassins.

Vaz’em did his invisible ninja blender thing, with Trinia, Vox, and Ronda also buffing the party (bard song, Haste, etc.), and Oli and Cid advanced to melee beatstick.

I’d like to say that this was a pretty good fight, but I completely bungled the handling of the svar’fal’tar and Malatrothe didn’t fare much better. Malatrothe managed to stave off the inevitable melee beatdown for a couple rounds by using her Invisibility and running away to keep the distance open, but she didn’t manage to contribute much. She tried to deep slumber someone early in the fight, but a DC 19 Will save isn’t that hard to pass at 10th level even if it causes a momentary bowl clench. Her quickened magic missile wasn’t bad, as 20-ish damage per swift action isn’t anything to sneeze at, but with few offensive spells to follow-up with its not terrible impressive. I gave her the advanced template and light armor proficiency to pump her AC up to an impressive 34, but again it was merely delaying the inevitable.

The sval’tar’far tried their whole invisiblity assassin schtick, but they spent most of their turns turning invisible and closing into melee with the party. It also didn’t help that I rolled terribly for them, as they whiffed what few attacks they did manage. So no chance for them to use their Bane weapons, nor their magus-like spell strike abilities to deliver touch spells through their weapons. Glitterdust pretty much ruined their invisibility once the party knew the square they were in to target it properly, and spamming Glitterdust everywhere was pretty much what Vox did for her turns the rest of the fight. One Sval’tal’far got revealed with Glitterdust, and ate a Shocking Grasp crit from Cid. 96 damage – even with DR 10/Cold Iron and Electricity Resist 10, that was enough to take it from about one-third of its HP left to negative 34 – SUPER DEAD!

By this point the other Sval’tal’far was starting to wise up that he had picked a dog of a client, and mentioned that he was willing to negotiate (more on that at the end of the fight). Malatrothe also got the idea it was time to get out, and called for Soulfire to show up and help her. Cue Nightmare descending from the forest canopy in a blaze of majestic fire. Malatrothe hopped onto the nightmare, and the beast lifted off into the sky but not before Vaz’em raked it with his claws a couple times – leaving it at ONE HIT POINT! - but the two were now safe from harm. Until the DM decided he should be sporting, and left the nightmare visible just below the line of the canopy, and thus still visible to be targeted. Cue magic missile from Cid, frying the nightmare, sending Malatrothe crashing back down to the ground to laughter and cheers from the party. Already pretty beat up by this point, Malatrothe got cut down shortly thereafter, to be sent screaming back to Scarwall for punishment (and perhaps another round of upgrades considering she was supposed to be a scary taste of things to come, damnit!).

Negotiating to save its own ass, the surviving svar’tal’far offered one use of its services in exchange for its miserable life. Happy to have a fellow assassin under his beck and call, Vaz’em accepted the offer, and got a small black crystal item, which he was to smash when he wished to summon the fey assassin for his free job. The fey then got the heck out of there before the party could change its mind.

With all threats dealt with, the party cut the faerie seer loose, and in gratitude the fey offered to use its powers of prophecy to foretell the answer to one question from each PC. Of course being a crazy old fey, and Divination being the source of its powers, the answers were pretty vague and unsatisfying. Someone got the bright idea to ask about how to take Kazavon down, and I think Vaz’em used his question to ask about that (since he already knew pretty much everything he wanted to know about his own heritage – perhaps too much! – and was more or less confident in his own abilities to handle the future). I should have just used the poem from the start of Book 5 that Zellara delivers, but instead I had to go and try to make my own divination rhyme on the spot, which meant I paused the game for like half an hour while I slapped something together (stupid divination rhymes. Stupid DM trying to be clever).

So after a “long” time thinking, the faerie seer cleared his throat and intoned the following.

“Sacred steel Serithiel,
Bringer of woe to Agonybringer but to the world weal,
Must find again to wield,
Else Korvosa’s fate is sealed.

Carved deep into immortal flesh and soul,
But wielder could not withstand the toll,
Other arose to take on role.

Took blade into darkness deep,
Plan to forever keep,
Chained in hopeless sleep.

Go to place where world last scarred,
And which the dark still holds sacred,
But beware that your way is barred,
Lest you can see the path of dread.

Seek out one who has walked the way before,
Waiting for lost love forevermore,
In the house once used for slaves to store.”

Vague enough to be pretty much meaningless at this point, save that they needed to seek out Serathiel in Scarwall, but that in order to get to Scarwall they would need a guide. That guide was Parashial of course, who was awaiting them in Kaer Maga (as he told Oliver at the end of Book Three).

Cid was up next, and predictably his question was in regards to where he could find the Valley of the Ascendant Spire. The faerie seer responded with cryptic nonsense here as well, but rather than a divination rhyme told Cid straight out that he could find the path in Kaer Maga. He did also have a warning for Cid, in that there was a balance to the light, and in order for one to rise another must fall. The intent was to foreshadow Eurydice sacrificing herself to save Cid during Cid’s redemption, but instead Cid’s player twigged on to the idea that it was Abigail who would fall. Ironically, it turned out that his prediction was also correct, although I had no originally planned that for Abigail (although as you will see in later sessions, I did have some plans to bring Abigail grief – the PCs aren’t the only ones to suffer in my games!) Abigail’s various disasters to come was all the fault of Cid’s player though, as he linked me this song at one point as a theme song for a Cid x Abigail relationship, so I just gave him wanted he asked for – misery, tragedy, and more misery (and finally DEATH, AHAHAHAHAHA *ahem* ).

Since I felt bad that Rholand was not present due to Blood curse doom, I decided not to cheat him out of the chance to ask a question of the seer as well. And since the faerie seer could see things and knew that one of the PCs was missing for this rescue, he allowed someone else in the party (maybe Bruno, who was still there as Sial couldn’t teleport the bear along with the rest of their party due to person/level teleport restrictions?) to ask Rholand’s question on his behalf. And of course, his question was whether Ileosa could be saved. The seer basically said that it didn’t look good, but love had managed to salvage unexpected victories before now (sadly, instead of convincing Rholand to continue clinging to blind hope that he could save Ileosa it seemed to finish off his hope, leaving him with a growing resolve to put her out of her misery instead –ah well).

And finally, Oliver asked if his offspring, should he have some in the future, would go on to be “important”. It was a pretty vague question to begin with, as Oliver had no current offspring so it would be a number of in-game years before any such prophecy would come due, barring a long-lost son/daughter he had sirred while in slavery in Cheliax (before growing up and fighting his way back to Korvosa to take revenge on Lamm). So the seer simply answered with an equally enigmatic, but unequivocal “yes”. The other players were jealous that Oliver had gotten such a straight answer out of the obnoxiously cryptic seer, hahahaha.

The seer had one last prediction to give, to the entire party, and was the main reason why I put this little cryptic gibberish spewing a!&~&@% in their path to begin with. He said, in no uncertain terms, that if the party went to Scarwall, at least one of them *will* die. This was more than just more hype for Scarwall or the DM playing the odds that one or more of the party would buy the farm to one of the more lethal denizens of the place, but since my players are now reading this thread I’m not going to spoil the surprise with the actual reason behind this prediction.

And that was pretty much the end of the session, with the party returning to the druid’s grove to report their success and get a mistletoe confetti parade from Griswold, and then onward back to Janderhoff to deal with Dodger, I mean, JUSTICE FIST and his interference in the Scarzni slavery operation.

You're back!

Session Ninety-Seven:
Good trick with the reincarnation of Vox! Now they just have to find somebody who can cast Polymorph any Object to fix Ronda . . . .

Also, I think that with some preparation, this party might be able to outright kill the Nightwing without taking any losses . . .

Session Ninety-Eight:
. . . Although the 3/4 strength party beating up 2 Svartalfar and a Nighthag is deceptive for judging the above, since Fey tend to be really wimpy -- d6 hit dice and 1/2 BAB really hurts them unless they have some serious magic to compensate.

Too bad about Rholand losing hope for Ileosa . . . .

1 person marked this as a favorite.

They probably could kill the Nightwing with 0-1 losses (it might be able to get that Finger of Death spell off, and insta-death spells are always scary because you can always roll that “1”. I try to avoid them because I dislike rocket tag, but as an occasional threat they’re alright. It’s also not like the Nightwing doesn’t have other scary things it can do, like summon Greater Shadows. A melee powerhouse, it is not, however since it only gets the one bite attack each round. So yeah they probably could have managed to stay and slug it out, considering Vaz’em basically can delete any monster with 100+ damage a round now if he gets a sneak-attack empowered full attack.

The Sval’tal’far were a huge disappointment though because they do have a lot of magic, between invisibility, bane, sneak attack, and magus-like spell strike capabilities. If they had gotten to do their thing they could have really walloped someone, but since the party already knew they were there and poor tactics/dice rolling, they pretty much did nothing at all. Fey are a pretty big disappointment though, not sure what to do about it . . . hrmm . . . maybe class levels . . .

Session Ninety-Nine:

So, the party returned to Janderhoff to deal with Dodger intercepting the Scarzni’s slavery transports. While slavery was technically illegal in Janderhoff, that didn’t stop it from being a major hub for slavers heading east through the mindspin mountains to places like Nidal that love having disposable slaves from Kaer Maga. To stay out of legal trouble, the Scarzni either knocked the slaves out and packed them into boxes to be shipped as “cargo” through Janderhoff, or simply camped outside the dwarven city and used the roads around it in the morning.

However, the Scarzni were not actually the ones in charge of the slavery ring, they were merely the link in the chain around Janderhoff due to their expertise in smuggling. The real slavery operation was a group known as Pyre N’ Slag, a pair of (original character) fire giants operating out of Kaer Maga (while slavery was a major business in Kaer Maga, I don’t recall any actual slavery operations being detailed in the City of Strangers sourcebook so I made my own big operation). The Scarzni really didn’t want Dodger screwing things up any further, because Pyre N’ Slag were not people you failed, and if any more slave shipments went missing or were delayed because of Dodger’s sabotage they were going to start taking a personal interest in this problem. And since the Scarzni were the only thing really keeping Oli’s place in Korvosa safe, the party had their own stake in making sure Dodger stopped causing problems.

The party’s plan for stopping Dodger basically involved pretending to be the soon-to-arrive next slave shipment. They got some empty crates from the Scarzni, and went through Janderhoff hoping that “Justice Fist” would strike. He didn’t disappoint, as a cowled figure popped out of the shadows behind Oliver, fist raised with a cry of how Justice Fist was here to save the day. Dodger immediately stopped his attack when he saw that in fact the “slavers” were the party, unmasking himself to demand what the party was doing here. Oli revealed that he was working with the Scarzni, and that Dodger was causing them problems and that he needed to stop. Dodger explained that after moving to Janderhoff with his sister after the plague (during Book 3 basically), he caught wind of the slavery operation and thought he’d give this whole hero thing a try.

Unfortunately, Dodger’s attempts at heroism were endangering Oli’s people thanks to the Scarzni being the only thing standing between them and the Grey Maidens rounding them all up as supporters for a wanted traitor. So, sorry Dodger, but the party was going to have to take him in. Aware of how dangerous the party was both from personal experience and from looking up to them, Dodger simply surrendered, allowing himself to be bound by the party for the upcoming slaughter without a fight.

When they brought Dodger in, the leader of the local Scarzni postured in front of him, taunting that the almighty “Justice Fist” was now their prisoner, and got headbutted for his trouble. Oli intervened at this point, trying to broker a deal that would spare Dodger’s life so long as he stayed out of the hero business. The Scarzni weren’t happy about that due to the trouble Dodger had caused them, but “in the interest of continued friendship”, they eventually agreed not to horribly kill Dodger and/or sell him into slavery. His sister, however . . . well, the Scarzni had needed to make it up to Pyre N’ Slag for the lost slaves, and since Oliver had already revealed Justice Fist’s real identity as Dodger, they had kidnapped Dodger’s sister and sent her on as part of the next chain of slaves bound for Nidal.

Everyone was pretty pissed off at that, and Oliver badgered the Scarzni until they coughed up the hand-off point from the Scarzni to a group of Pyre N’ Slag’s own employees to make the dangerous trek through the Mindspin Mountains. The Scarzni argued that hey, if the slave chain was attacked while in the Mindspin Mountains, well, they weren’t responsible for those losses and slave chains did occasionally disappear due to the mountains being a dangerous place.

Racing out of Janderhoff and into the mountains to the east, the party eventually found the slave chain marching through a pass – a chain of about a dozen slaves which included Laressa’s sister, guarded by a quartet of fire trolls (fire-resistant troll variant) and a huge hellhound (Nessian warhound go!) D&D economy here folks, with a dozen slaves being worth apparently thousands of gold somehow, enough to justify such a high-level escort. Whatever, can’t let our heroes have it easy!

However, a fight was not forthcoming in fact, as the party came up with a rather clever idea to get Laressa out of the slave chain. To wit, the party went up to the troll slavers and proposed a trade – Laressa for Cid. The trolls were suspicious of this, but their orders were only to deliver as close as possible to a dozen slaves intact to Nidal, so they didn’t really care who was a part of that slave chain. And a tough looking half-orc would certainly make a better slave than some slip of a girl. So they unlocked Laressa’s chains, and put Cid in her place. A short distance down the road, Cid cast Dimension Door to escape and disappear in a single word, leaving the poor trolls holding the bag for delivering one less slave than promised. But whatever, Dodger had his sister back and promised not to interfere any further in the Scarzni business, lest the party have to come back to permanently end him. Considering it a job well done, the party then left Janderhoff and headed for Kaer Maga.

The last stop on the trip before the chaotic city was the small town of Sirathu, which formerly belonged to Kaer Maga but was now under Korvosan rule. It sat at the foot of the impressive cliff face that Kaer Maga stood atop, and effectively marked the end of Korvosa’s influence. As the party would learn the hard way next session, they wouldn’t escape Korvosa’s sphere of influence so easily. Well, they kinda did because the DM’s monsters continued to underperform, but that’s another story!.

Rholand’s Field Trip:

So after that session, but before our next, I finally managed to get together with Rholand’s player to have a private session with him. Rholand appeared with Laori, Sial, and Asyra atop the cliff, just outside the massive walls of Kaer Maga. The stone faces that made up the rim of Kaer Maga overlooking the cliff were clearly visible, water pouring out of their skeletal mouths to merge into an equally massive waterfall that crashed down onto the Varisian plains below. Interestingly, the land up on the Kaer Magan plateau was rather barren, rapidly growing into an even more stark wasteland to the north deeper onto the plateau – the Cinderlands.

Wasting little time, Sial directed the group to circle around the city to the upper-level entrance through the walls. As they walked, Laori and Rholand had a flirtatious conversation where Rholand learned some more about the odd Zon-Kuthite. Taking a page from Mikaze’s CotCT game, I revealed that Laori’s skin-tight chainmail was anchored in place by strategically placed metal hooks that sank into recessed plates that had been grafted into her skin. Laori claimed that she did this for looks because she liked how it turned her armor into a second skin, and didn’t seem to get that embedding metal plates into your body as part of a fashion statement was perhaps a little . . . extreme.

Laori also revealed to Rholand why she was a Zon-Kuthon and put up with Sial’s b$+~&&~#, when it was clear that she didn’t like him, and he didn’t like her. Basically, the church of Zon-Kuthon was her family, an acolyte of Zon-Kuthon having purchased her from some slavers after they found her wandering away from her family home, which had just been destroyed by orcs. She was the only survivor, and while service to the church of Zon-Kuthon wasn’t exactly pleasant, it was still better than the life that awaited her elsewhere as a slave. And she eventually discovered that she was pretty good at being a pain-dealing Zon-Kuthite, and it seemed only a reasonable transition to join the Brotherhood of Bones and do something meaningful, hunting down the lost relics of Kazavon (in truth that was the only Zon-Kuthon sect that would tolerate her . . . non-standard view on life).

Rholand still tried to convince Laori that there were other paths in life she could walk if she so chose, but his prodding fell on deaf ears at this point as she was quite happy with where she was and who she was, thank you very much. The talk came to a close as they arrive at the entrance to Kaer Maga, which was little more than a deep hole that had been blasted through the incredibly thick wall surrounding the city. Beings of all sorts and shapes bustled about on the ground around the entrance, on scaffolding and walkways that had been strung up between the walls, and peering out of tunnels that had been bored into the walls themselves. The whole passage that had been blasted through the wall had basically been turned into a series of shantytowns stacked on top of each other, and it was here that Rholand got his first sense of the glorious chaos of Kaer Maga.

Hobgoblins, orcs, and even a few ghouls mingled with the populance, who carried on as if it was business as usual. Prostitutes waved down at Rholand’s group as they entered the chaotic sprawl, including a few that were clearly zombies (undead prostitution was something given in the Kaer Maga sourcebook City of Strangers, although like much of the city, I may have turned it up to 11 here). If Rholand was disturbed by this culture shock from the orderly Korvosan society he was used to, he did his best not to show it as Sial lead the group deeper, into Kaer Maga’s core. Beyond the walls was a more traditional city scape, with stone buildings arranged into slightly less haphazard rows, surrounding a large lake that sat at the center of Kaer Maga.

Through the crowded streets, Rholand caught a flash of green hair peeking out from a cowl – Gwen. Rather than being concerned that Togomor’s apprentice was here, Rholand chased after the apparition, into a neatly organized section of town on the north side of the lake – Widdershins. Shortly after entering the unusually clean district of the city, however, he was stopped by a group of constables, who asked if he belonged here. When it was clear that he didn’t live here, they rather rudely and roughly escorted him back to the edge of the district. Somehow, Gwen was permitted in this district, but since Rholand was not that put an end to his investigation rather quickly.

Joining back up with Sial and Laori, Rholand found that Sial had managed to secure accomodations with them in the Downmarket district, which was what passed for Kaer Maga’s “business” district (Rholand passed a hawker announcing the sale of slaves starting shortly, courtesy of Pyre N’ Slag). So, Rholand’s first impressions of the city weren’t particularly good, although his introduction here would pale in comparison to what the full party would be treated to shortly (the plan all along was to get the players to sorely miss the relative sanity and safety of their home of Korvosa, and I succeeded magnificently on that front as everyone told me later, heh).

There was a little bit of conversation after that, but nothing particularly meaningful, and Rholand went to bed. In the morning Rholand went for a stroll, intent on figuring out how to get permission to go into the closed community of Widdershins so he could look around until he found Gwen. He crossed paths with Laori again on the street , although something seemed off about the Zon-Kuthite as she walked towards him. The big hint, though, was when his chest started burning with the same intensity of pain as when the Nightwing manifested itself. The real Laori walking around a corner nearby a few moments later sealed the deal that the Laori approaching Rholand was an imposter. The Second Claimant had found Rholand.

Yelling at Rholand to run, Laori blasted the imposter with a column of hellfire. The fake Laori’s features melted and liquefied, as one arm turned into a long bladed tentacle. Rholand got the hell out of there with a boost from Blessing of Fervor, but not before the thing’s arm whipped out to an impressive length (15’ just like a regular whip!) and raked him across the back for 20-some damage. Rholand and Laori fled into the crowded side streets hoping to get away, but it was a vain hope.

Shortly after leaving the alleyway ambush, Rholand saw Togomor approaching him, grinning silently as he neared. But it wasn’t the real Togomor, of course, but the shapeshifting assassin (a mezlan, a shapeshifting ooze assassin with some magical abilities that was also a CR 14 monstrosity, matching the “I am the second, alone in a faceless crowd” line of the song). This time the creature launched some sort of projectile from its own body, like a crossbow bolt, again scoring a vicious 20-some damage hit on Rholand before he managed to get out of sight down another alleyway. Rholand did his best to patch himself up, but it was clear that this chase wasn’t going to last long – although still burned from Laori’s blast “Togomor” seemed to be regenerating its own injuries.

As the assassin closed in again for a third time, its efforts were thwarted as a dome of invisible force suddenly slammed into being around it, trapping it. Sial had arrived, and managed to blockade the thing with a timely Wall of Force in dome-formation. Unfortunately, it was only a temporary solution, as “Togomor” reverted to its true form, a faceless humanoid-shaped ooze thing, which immediately began bashing at the ground around the edge of the dome, making a small hole underneath the dome’s rim that was more than enough for it to start slowly leaking through to escape. Seeing that, Sial wisely advised the group to get out of here while the Mezlan was still trapped, even though he found the ancient Thassilon creature fascinating (he also knew what it was, of course, being a scholar of all things Thassilon and ancient magic – and evil?).

Seeking a way to escape, Sial teleported the group away again, this time down off the Kaer Magan plateau to the small town of Sirathu (how convenient!) on the plains below. It was clear that the Claimants were able to track Rholand, and that effectively nowhere was safe for him at the moment. Nonetheless, Sial promised to return to Kaer Maga and start researching the Blood Curse at the Great Library as soon as he could secure access. Meanwhile, Laori would stay to watch over Rholand until his associates finally got off their asses and left Janderhoff to join them in Sirathu – clearly there was some safety in numbers after all. Of course, that did leave the question as to how the Mezlan got to Kaer Maga ahead of Rholand (oh, I dunno, maybe it hitched a ride on Togomor’s apprentice who was also in the city now ahead of the party)?

And with that chilling reminder that he was a doomed man, we ended Rholand’s private session.

With respect to Fey getting beat up: From what I understand of White Wolf's Old Work of Darkness, this happened there too.

Session Ninety-Nine:
Too bad about the party deciding to make a deal with slavers . . . I wish they could have at least secretly sent the authorities in Janderhoff a message about the slaver problem (Janderhoff(*) is supposed to be Lawful Good).

(*)While you're at it, if you haven't already, check out the enhanced map functionality on (this appeared a few months ago as the result of one of the community projects on these forums.

Rholand’s Field Trip:
I didn't know Pathfinder had a Terminator T-1000 . . . Now THAT'S a tough monster, especially if properly prepared (which it can be, with appropriate foreknowledge and assistance).

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session One Hundred:

And now we come to an extra special episode of the CotCT game – the one hundredth! Yes indeed, and while I didn’t have anything crazy planned (I save the real madness for the April 1st games), it was certainly meant to be a momentous game. The party was *finally* arriving at Kaer Maga, where they would soon learn to wish that they hadn’t come. But that was in the future – for now, there was the thrill of success at finally reaching their destination, and I did have a few callbacks to earlier parts of the game planned.

But first, we needed to get the whole party back together. Which was accomplished pretty much immediately after the main party reached Sirathu, the small town at the base of the cliff Kaer Maga sat on. The largest and only real inn that the town had was the White Fountain Inn, so named for the massive white marble fountain that dominated the town square, and was essentially the biggest point of interest in the town (due to being blessed by a saint or some such). The party found Rholand and Laori resting in the tavern portion of the inn, where they got caught up to speed on Rholand’s newest unwelcome admirer.

Zellara chose this time to subtly hint to Vaz’em that it was time for a Harrow reading, and the party managed to secure a small meeting room in the back of the tavern section of the inn while Laori, Trinia, and Vox had girl talk in the tavern (which no doubt would have been hilarious to listen in on, to the tune of “a centaur, a Zon-Kuthite, and a bard-painter-kingslayer walk up to a bar . . .” joke.

The Harrow was a nice way to return things back to the very first session in Zellara’s House where the first Harrow reading was conducted, but unfortunately it wasn’t a particularly memorable reading. Probably because for once, the Foreign Merchant did *not* in fact, turn up in the nine card spread as he had done for the past three Harrow readings like clockwork! But there was a semi-coherent theme to the draw that allowed me to press the idea that they were wading into a duplicitous minefield ahead, and that they needed to find the survivor of the last battle against Kazavon so that he could serve as a guide on how to find Serathiel (Parashial).

After the Harrow, there was a thunderous crash from outside the Inn, and Laori started yelling at the party to get out here quick! Emerging from the back room, the party emerged to see through the tavern’s windows that the fountain outside the inn had been blown to smithereens by what was apparently a massive fiery meteor. And as the curtains of smoke rising from the impact crater began to clear out, an ogre-sized creature of twisted, singed flesh and metal emerged from the crater into view, bellowing at Cid to come out and face his demise. It was Xerxes, the fallen Hellknight that had tried to assassinate Ileosa back in Book One, only to fail, fall in battle to the party, and be tortured by the devils that were the real masters of the Order of the Nail! He was back in a brand new body that was more machine than devil (I found a seriously wicked picture of some sort of chicken-legged thing in flame-covered plate mail – perfect material to use as a representative picture of the new Xerxes!)

As the party emerged from the Inn to confront the reborn Hellknight, Xerxes taunted them with the news that the Order of the Nail was dead. In its place was the new Order of the Bleeding Eye (Xerxes was wearing a tabard with an impaled eye on it, as the by-now familiar symbol of Kazavon), and the first order of business was exterminating the old Order. Of which, only Cid, Cyrus, and Vox were left of it now, as Xerxes threw a bloody sack at Cid’s feet, which when opened revealed the severed head of DeVries! Vox, having hideous flashbacks of being brutally tortured in Belzagara after her death, turned and fled, leaving the party (plus Trinia and Laori) to deal with the first-born Order of the Bleeding Eye Hell Knight.

Xerxes Reborn – Those Who Accept the Protection of the Stars from FFVII Crisis Core OST

I pulled out all the stops for the new Xerxes, giving him the Swift Mythic *and* Invulnerable Mythic templates, which basically gave him DR 10/Epic and 2 initiatives a round, but despite the new look he was otherwise functionally a level 11 magus. Despite all the mythic stuff, and having pre cast a number of buff spells, and showing up with a bastard sword instead of a two-hander this time (he learned how a magus really fights!), *and* having the flamboyant arcana feat so he could either parry with that or the Invulnerable mythic blocking ability – Xerxes still got his ass kicked. Which I guess was an appropriate callback to how he got completely schooled the first time around, with *Rholand* of all people grappling him for a round.

Basically, he couldn’t roll above a “5” on any of his special b@@&+~!# blocking abilities, so nobody’s attacks got nullified, DR 10 just doesn’t do much when you’re eating 20+ damage a hit, and 180 HP just isn’t what it used to be. Xerxes did manage to get off the magus “I blow myself up” spell Detonate though, dealing a pretty hefty chunk of damage to pretty much everybody, and then did it again for free when he died as his fiery new body erupted in a nuclear detonation of released mythic power (which the second detonation did manage to *nearly* kill Ronda, bringing her to -6 which was only a few points away from death due to her reduced CON. So Oli’s fears about a repeat of the Hazmarduk BBQ were justified, I guess).

The party did not get to gain a mythic rank for their trouble, but in the miniature crater Xerxes left behind, there were 4 still glowing embers of power (one for each PC). Each could be crushed to unleash the power, granting the user 1 mythic point to use to either gain an additional standard action, or add 1d6 to any roll – taking 1d6 Fire damage each turn that the power was not used to represent the power slowly burning its way through their body. The party pretty much immediately forgot about this priceless gift however, so they *still* have all four of those embers. Now that they’ve been reminded about them, I suspect that they will be used up pretty quickly going into Scarwall.

In any case, with the battle over, Cid goes looking for Vox, finds her trembling some distance away, and gets the explanation for why she fled (overwhelming dread at being killed to return to her brutal torture in Belzagara). She also reveals a strange ritual that was performed on her during her torture, of being forced to drink from a chalice filled with black blood (the importance of this would be revealed later, but basically it’s Kazavon-relic-juice, and it’s what Xerxes drank a whole lot of to get his mythic superpowers).

Not wanting to deal with any questions from the local authorities about what just happened, and aware now that the devils were *still* hunting Cid and were in fact very close. In fact, I had debated having the devil army that had been chasing the party, complete with Zarix the Retriever, show up after Xerxes’s defeat to force the party into a running battle through the town and surroundings into the tunnels that lead up through the cliff to Kaer Maga. Ultimately though I scrapped the encounter due to time and effort, and had the devils basically be unwilling to engage the party in the middle of civilization (for whatever reason). Which meant that they were safe as they fled Sirathu and went to the entrance to the tunnels leading up to Kaer Maga, which is where we ended the session.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Gratz on #100. Too bad about the fountain in Sirathu, though ...

Session One Hundred:
"Trinia, and Vox had girl talk in the tavern (which no doubt would have been hilarious to listen in on, to the tune of \“a centaur, a Zon-Kuthite, and a bard-painter-kingslayer walk up to a bar . . .\” joke." -- I would like to have heard the punchline . . . .

Xerxes' problem: Having 2 initiatives and being level 11 doesn't beat having 4 initiatives and being level 10 (+ 2 more initiatives at level {whatever}). In other words: Xerxes apparently hadn't learned one of the Evil Overlord's Rules: Thou Shalt Have Minions, And Have Them Assis Thee In Combat.

MrVergee - Yeah. It was deliberate destruction as a signal that the new (Kazavon-led) regime in Korvosa had no interest in maintaining the (peaceful) monuments of the past.

UnArcaneElection - Well, while it didn't work, that was specifically the idea for the fight. One guy against the party in an epic showdown, who could actually hold his own, instead of all the other fights they'd had where it was "one nasty guy plus friends". Clearly I didn't make him scary enough, and when it comes time for some of the relic bearers to fight the party I may need to resort to some extreme tactics if I have them as "one guy/gal against the party in an epic showdown". I *did* manage to get a couple fights later where one monster utterly trashed the party, but given the popular opinion on that one monster specifically, maybe I'll need to reconsider (always remember: big monster in anti-magic fields rip players apart if they are unable to disable or somehow thwart said anti-magic fields).

Shadow Lodge

To be fair that one monsterhad minions. I'm excited we are at kaer maga

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Heh, yeah we all had fun in Kaer Maga (well, I had fun. The poor players might have had more like “fun”). But we spent a *lot* of time in the city, to the point that we just passed Session One Hundred. Book Four lasted until session ONE HUNDRED FORTY-NINE. Yes, that’s right – just shy of 50% of the entire game thus far was spent on what’s ahead, including just shy of 30 of those session in Kaer Maga. What can I say, the city’s over the top nature really inspired me. *evil DM grin*

Session One Hundred One:

So the party left Sirathu near the middle of the night and fled for the plains entrance to Kaer Maga. I can’t quite remember if it was night time and thus the narrow pathway/elevator up the side of the cliff that was used for trade wagons and the like was closed, or if it was further away from the tunnel entrance, or some other reason. But in any case the party could not use that method to reach Kaer Maga, but instead had to trek through the tunnels dug into the cliff face to ascend up into the catacombs of Kaer Maga, which was the most common method of gaining access to the city.

Using those tunnels, however, required hiring a guide in the form of a member of the Duskwardens, an organized dedicated to keeping the tunnels up to Kaer Maga relatively safe and clear of monsters. At least the passages that got used by them, anyway. The party chafed a bit at having to pay for some schmuck NPC to hold their hand, as they figured they could handle any monsters that popped up (with justified confidence, mind you). However, wandering around aimlessly in the dark maze-like tunnels until they found a way out or died of starvation *was* somewhat less appealing, and so they eventually consented to paying the exorbitant 50 GP fee (less than chump change at their levels, but it was the principle of the thing)!

Their two Duskwarden guides were at least reasonable competent, despite them perhaps arrogantly treating the PCs as if they didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. The party reached the catacombs level without incident after a few hours of trekking up through the tunnels, and then finally emerged into the city of Kaer Maga proper. At which point I showed the entire party the map of the city districts, very briefly describing each district and its relation to the city as a whole.

Like Rholand, the rest of the party was somewhat disturbed at the “business-as-usual” reaction of the city’s citizens to undead, goblins, and other . . . let’s say less-civilized humanoids wandering about the city streets. Oliver in particular bristled at the casual nature of slavery in the city, including another announced auction for the infamous Pyre N’ Slag brand. While they are wandering around in the Downmarket part of the district, they are approached by a varisian half-elven woman who greets them in the name of the Scarzni.

The Scarzni, in the interest of their continued friendship, have arranged for them to all be given discrete quarters at an inn in the Hospice district of the city that the Scarzni do business with and trust. An inn called Smitherby’s, run by a Halfling named, you guessed it, Mister Smitherby. Although they didn’t know this at the time (and technically . . . neither did the DM!) this Varisian woman was a grifter known as Madame Zayana, a skilled witch who had dealings with Scarzni . . . and Togomor. Which meant that she had in fact sold out this Smitherby’s safe house to an enemy of Pyre N’ Slag, and convinced them that the party were close allies of the slavers (which wasn’t really a lie, either, even if Oliver was gritting his teeth the entire time). Those slavery haters would make their presence known in the following session, but for the moment there was no reason to believe that this Smitherby’s was anything but safe. At least, as safe as the party could trust Pyre N’ Slag not to stab them in the back . . . which wasn’t very far indeed.

So the party all arrives at Smitherby’s, which is deserted except for the proprietor, who explains that Pyre N’ Slag had instructed him to keep the inn clear and empty just for them. That unnerved the party a little bit, as they were left wondering what else Pyre N’ Slag had left for them. That suspicion of theirs grew when each of the players were informed that they had also been left a complimentary gift in their rooms by Pyre N’ Slag, Smitherby explained as he handed each PC a magical necklace that radiated Necromancy, stating that they would have need of those. So magical necklaces radiating necromancy and a “gift” left to each of them in their rooms by well-known slavers really set them on edge, but nothing happened.

No one bothered them, and they were free to drink as bunch of the booze in the house as they wanted, and Cid and Oliver did not hesitate to take him up on that particular offer. Cid did get a little bit upset when it was revealed that Vox could not be given a room, she was too big and would have to sleep in the inn’s stables with the rest of the horses (evidentially the inn was not geared to cater to centaur clientele)! But she reassured Cid that it was alright, and retired there after having a few drinks with Cid, Oliver, and the rest of the party (who nursed their drinks much more carefully, particularly Vaz’em who was expecting some sort of knockout-drink-wake-up-in-chains trickery – but then Vaz’em was always paranoid). No one got upset at Righty and Lefty, Oliver’s two little gnome minions, about having to share a room (Cyrus, Trinia, & Ronda each getting their own), but that’s just typical PC behavior of not caring about the little guys. ;)

In any event, slowly one by one the players filtered up to their rooms, where they found their “gifts” waiting for them, and all became clear. Courtesy of Pyre N’ Slag, waiting in each of the player’s rooms was one of their finest undead courtesan slaves, the necklaces they had been given were their command items, as stated in the Death’s head talismans statted up in City of Strangers. Those necklaces marked them as the courtesan slaves new official owners, as only they could command them now (theoretically, anyway, since there wasn’t really anything stopping someone from making more than *one* such talismans per undead). But these were not disgusting half-decomposed zombies like the common undead prostitutes of Kaer Maga’s slums, oh no, these were top-of-the-line juju-zombie models (commonly called “dolls”, or “f&#%dolls” if you want to be crude like Oli) with embedded Rings of Gentle Repose, worth thousands of gold apiece. The alluring undead girls had once crossed Pyre N’ Slag in some way as well, leaving their gift to the party as also a warning – they could stay on the slavers’ good side and be rewarded with money, power, and women, or cross them and be turned into slaves – or worse things, like undead sex slaves. And yes, this DM is aware of how f~#&ed up these “gifts” were, that was the whole point of them – as an introduction to how Kaer Maga worked and how f@&#ed up the city was in general. As such, they worked perfectly, and the party was quite taken aback by this turn of events.

Rholand was gifted Belinda, a human cleric of Pharasma who was terrified of what would become of her now that she was an undead, an utter abomination in the eyes of the Pharasman church. She had been protested Pyre N’ Slag’s close business relationship with the Church of Urgathoa, who provided the necromancy expertise necessary to create these dolls in the first place. Well, now she got to see the process first-hand after Pyre N’ Slag got ahold of her. Rholand was quietly disturbed by this gift, but as usual he was more concerned about Belinda’s wellbeing, and tried to reassure her that Pharasma had not forsaken her (it was a little uncertain if that was true, but Belinda still had her clerical powers so she couldn’t be completely forsaken by her god and source of divine power, right?)

Vaz’em was gifted Aelah, a kitsune rogue (the closest thing Pyre N’ Slag had to the catfolk – rakshasa?), who had stolen some of the slavers’ money. She paid with that heist with her life once they caught up to her, and worse since now she was one of their undead slaves to “work off” her debt. She was definitely the most well-adjusted of the four to her new existence, however, as she had always wanted to live forever anyway, so aside from the whole slavery thing she was fine with being an undead. Vaz’em was probably the least disturbed of the group as well, as he considered having an extra trained thief working for him to be an asset. He was concerned, however, by Aelah’s straightforward answers to his questions that, yes, she had been sent there to spy on them, and could potentially report everything she saw and heard to Pyre N’ Slag. But he was her Master thanks to the necklace, so he ordered her not to do that, and that would fix everything . . . right? Of course, having a voluptuous kitsune slave girl around *did* draw Vaz’em some ire from Trinia – more of that little snag later.

Oliver was given Elice, a half-elf fighter who was a member of the Freemen, an organization that was the mortal enemy of slavers like Pyre N’ Slag which was founded primarily by escaped slaves (the Freemen were also the ones coming to attack the party, thinking they were willing allies of Pyre N’ Slag). As such she hated her new existence, and particularly hated Oliver, physically attacking him as soon as he entered the bedroom and not stopping until he finally overpowered her and pinned her to the floor (it was at this point that Ronda pointed out he probably could have used the necklace to just order her to behave instead). He eventually managed to convince Elice that he was not, in fact, a slavery-loving a&$**!+, but she still didn’t *quite* trust or like him. For his part, Oliver wanted no part of Elice either and thought it was just an unwanted pain in the ass Pyre N’ Slag had given him, and he eventually handed over the necklace and thus “ownership” of Elice to Ronda - who loved having a big strong “human” she could boss around and massage her little scaly kobold head.

Finally, Cid (who was now a half-orc remember) was given Serassa, an orc barbarian who had been captured attempting to raid a slave chain as it crossed the Mindspin Mountains. Like Elice, she hated her new existence, and wasn’t too thrilled with Cid. Cid wasn’t especially happy either, although the two of them came to a much quicker understanding than Elice and Oliver did. Eventually, Cid asked Serassa if she wished to continue her existence, and when she said no he drew Retribution and hacked her body to pieces, destroying it and freeing her soul to return to the afterlife. He wanted no part of Pyre N’ Slag’s “gifts”, and certainly said it in the most strong way he could (major LG points there for him, technically, as he outright refused the idea of allowing Serassa to continue to be an undead slave, particularly when she did not want to be one). Not desiring to sleep in a room with a chopped up corpse, though, Cid left his “gift” in pieces on the floor of his bedroom and retired to the stables to sleep with Vox (who was still in the running with Abigail and Laori to be Cid’s love interest, but get your mind out of the gutter as their relationship was still platonic at this point – besides, we’ve already poked Cid’s player with all of the dirty jokes you could make about a centaur/human relationship).

And with each player having resolved their “gift”, they settled down to sleep – only to get their sleep interrupted a hour or so later when the Freemen arrived to firebomb Smitherby’s, but that’s a story for another session. Welcome to Kaer Maga!

Session One Hundred One:
Yep, Pyre N' Slag is eeEEEEEeeeeeEEEViiiiiiilllllll!!!! I knew the party should have never made a deal with them. Now they're going to have Abaddon to pay . . . .

1 person marked this as a favorite.

UnArcaneElection – YUP! I mean, they’re Fire Giant Slavers. If that doesn’t scream LE to you, well . . . you’re far more trusting than I. The whole thing was *extremely* frustrating to Oli, because he just had to smile and go along with it . . . unless he wanted something untoward to happen to all of his people back in Korvosa.

Session One Hundred Two:

So, the party was resting uneasily in their rooms at Smitherby’s, convinced the other shoe was going to drop after Pyre N’ Slag had rolled out the red carpet for them, complete with high-end courtesans. Sure enough, the other shoe drop, although it was not due to any fault on Pyre N’ Slag’s fault – this was solely a Freemen attack due to them believing that the party were slavery-loving shills. And not even the main Freemen group, but instead a radical sub-faction within the Freemen led by a man named Trent, who fervently believed that the unease peace between the Freemen and Pyre N’ Slag (and the other slavers by extension) that had been forced upon them by the rest of the city was a mistake. Considering that said peace basically allowed Pyre N’ Slag to operate without constraint (beyond a vague “no kidnapping citizens of Kaer Maga to press gang into slavery” rule), Trent perhaps had a point to his stance but attacking the PCs was *not* the way to solve the problem.

In any event, the PCs had no idea at this point that the Freemen existed, and so it’s understanding that they believed this was some sort of half-ass assassination attempt on Pyre N’ Slag’s part when the attack on Smitherby’s kicked off. To whit, the first sign that they were even under attack was when rocks where thrown through the windows of each of their bedrooms, followed by flasks of alchemist fire, oil, and a single fireball into Vaz’em’s room. I think the first fireball that cheap shotted him while he was still asleep actually did damage, but after that he was awake and making Reflex saves, and with Evasion that pretty much they were wasting their time.

It wasn’t much of a big deal, given that it was just a rogue UMDing a wand of Fireball for 5d6 or so, but seriously threatening the party’s lives wasn’t the goal here. If they were lower level it would be pretty threatening to have your bedroom set on fire with you in it without warning, but the Freemen chose to attack adventurers who had thrice saved a major city. But it did introduce them to the fact that Kaer Maga was not a friendly city, it interrupted their rest, and it pissed them off. And boy did it ever piss them off.

Oliver grabbed up his weapons and just cannonballed out of his window, taking the minor falling damage to land amidst the Freemen gathered up in the street below throwing flasks of alchemist fire up at their bedrooms. Whereupon he got back up and started laying waste to anyone in arms reach on the following round.

Vaz’em with his ninja skills was easily able to make the 20’ horizontal jump across the street to the roof of the building across the street, where the wand-equipped rogue was throwing another fireball, this time (randomly) into Cid’s empty room. He pretty much lost all of his limbs on the following round as Vaz’em diced him apart, a little surprised and disappointed at just how quickly he died. Which, duh, he was something like a 5th level rogue with a wand of Fireball going up against a party of 10th level killing machines. And the Freemen had a pretty good inkling of that anyway – the plan was to pelt the building with some firebombs, and then run away. But they never got to succeed at that second part of the plan thanks to . . .

Rholand spent a round putting out the fire in his room (while fire spread from Vaz’em, Oliver, and Cid’s rooms), and then started using his B.S. DM-boosted Stone Shape spell to start turning the street’s cobblestones into a wall of stone sealing off the street so that the Freemen couldn’t run away. Which resulted in the couple of Freemen who did manage to avoid getting immediately cut down by Oliver, shortly get trapped by the stone walls and forced to surrender anyway (although unlike Vaz’em, Oliver was knocking people out instead of cutting them in half).

And where was Cid during all this? Well, remember that Cid went down to the stables to join Vox. He found her curled up in one of the stables, and entered the stables to join her, resting his head on her flank after she indicated that it was alright for him to join her. They both fell asleep lying together, so I guess that counts as sleeping together? Anyway, they slept through the initial round of fiery explosions, so they got to wake up to the sensation of something wet and vicious being poured all over them – oil. One of the Freemen had slipped into the Stables to steal their horses, and found Vox & Cid there instead, and decided to be an a~$#!*& and set them on fire. It didn’t hurt too much being only a couple d6 to be immolated like that, but it certainly pissed them both off. Vox extinguished the fire with an Ice storm, dealing even more chip damage to herself and Cid (she warned him about this beforehand). Then she started getting dressed (she had removed her armor and rough clothing that the druids had provided after her reincarnation) while Cid went running out after the fleeing Freeman into the street. He joined Oliver near the tail end of the battle to take down the last trapped Freemen.

But the danger wasn’t quite over yet, as the top floor of Smitherby’s was now on fire, despite Rholand’s efforts, and the party’s hirelings were in all the rooms across the hall, presumably trapped by the flames now filling the hallway. There was an alley around the back that the other side of the inn overlooked, and several of the party went around to get to the other rooms that way, while Rholand kept trying to put out the fire with Create Water. They found Trinia already on the windowsill outside her room, skittering across to the window of Cyrus’s room (it had been awhile since I had Trinia do something badass, and with the Shingle runner feat I felt like spidermaning around the windows would give her a chance to do something. The party probably wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped, but meh.) With Trinia’s help they manage to get everyone to safety, and all of the flames put out. Aelah shows up, slipping up and calling Vaz’em “Master” instead of Vaz’em as he asked, and upon seeing the scantily-clad kitsune, well, Trinia was rather interested in knowing exactly what Vaz’em had been up to prior to the attack. He, of course, blamed it all on some game that Pyre N’ Slag was working towards. The fact that there were still other “gifts” to the other PCs supported Vaz’em’s story somewhat, and so Trinia accepted the explanation due to the more important issues the party had right now, like figuring out why they just got attacked.

They manage to bring the captured Freemen up and around and start interrogating them in the downstairs tavern, while Smitherby wrung his hands and fretted over the bad business and nearly losing his inn. Aware now that their attackers were not working for Pyre N’ Slag but instead the Freemen, Oliver remembered that Elice was a member of the Freemen herself, and there was another round of shouted accusations between them as Oliver blamed her for this attack. She managed to convince the group that she was not in fact a spy for the Freemen, and that they would try to destroy her now that she was one of Pyre N’ Slag’s abominations, but it almost resulted in Oliver ordering Ronda to order Elice to do something unpleasant (I dunno what that would have been, maybe throwing herself off the cliff face of Kaer Maga or something).

Also adding to the confusion in the aftermath of the Freemen attack, a troll showed up at this point, walking down the street and grumbling to itself when it discovered Rholand’s stone wall. He returned the street to normal for the troll, who introduced himself in broken common as “Harold”. It took the troll repeating himself several times before they realized that he was actually saying “Herald”, which was apparently his name? Designation? In any event, Herald was part of the Augurs, another mainly troll faction within Kaer Maga who performed auguries and offered advice for a fee. Interested in meeting the party and making friends (a common theme in the first couple sessions of Kaer Maga, everyone either wanting to be friends or enemies with the party), Herald was offering the group one free divination.

I don’t remember if they took him up on the offer or not, but I think they did (although like the faerie seer’s divinations, it didn’t really tell them anything they didn’t already know from other sources). They did get to see how Herald performed his auguries, though – he cut his own entrails out with a stone knife and flopped them down into the ground to read them, before shoving them back up into his slowly sealing stomach. Kaer Maga, it’s a f$#$ed up place (and that is *also* in the City of Strangers book).

Eventually, the party learns from Elice and perhaps Herald that the Freemen are based out of the Common House, and that it’s likely to be some sort of sub-faction within the Freemen who attacked them, not the entire organization. So, the party ultimately had the self-control not to storm the sizable Common House base of the Freemen, killing anyone they met inside (and there were a lot of Freemen inside). They manage to talk their way past the doorman at the front, basically being telling him to suck it and his centaur buddies could either stand aside and let them enter or there was going to be a mess made out of them.

Inside, the party found itself in a large, packed drinking hall, dwarves, humans, and centaurs all rubbing shoulders while getting hammered drunk. There was also some sort of fighting match going on in the sparring pit in one corner of the cavernous room, and as they peered closer they got a look through the cheering crowd to see what the performance was. An elf was beating a trio of ogre zombies to death with his bare hands, with two of them already put back down and the elf ripping off the head of the third as they watched. As the crowd went wild at the elf’s victory, the elf turned around to face the group and Oliver got to see that it was his dad, Parashial. Apparently the ancient elf warrior was good buddies with the Freemen, as he exited the arena to be greeted with a mug of ale and plenty of back slaps. And so the rest of the party finally got to meet Oliver’s dad.

As they quickly learned, Parashial was an a!&~!@$, as the party approached him and he immediately started berating Oliver, b$%%*ing him out for failing to bring Neolandus to Kaer Maga as he had asked (which Oliver did indeed fail at doing, with the party chickening out of going to Arkona Manor to rescue him at the end of Book Three). Oliver of course responded with insults of his own and excuses, asking Parashial why he didn’t do it himself if it had been so important to rescue Neolandus, to which Parashial’s only reply was a loud ale-aided burp. It was clear the elf warrior and ambassador was already more than a little soused, so the party left him to get even more drunk while they “lodged a complaint” with the Freemen leader, Halman Wright.

The party was not impressed with the leader of the Freemen, who in the years of “peaceful co-existence” with Pyre N’ Slag in Kaer Maga had become more of a bureaucrat than a warrior. He was, however, disturbed by the news that some of “his” men had attacked the party without provocation, and immediately hissed the name of “Trent”, theorizing that the upstart lieutenant had arranged this attack on his own authority without authorization. He promised that he would look into this matter and punish Trent for his indiscretion if he was in fact behind this attack. For their part, the party promised that if they got attacked by Freemen again, they’d be coming back to the Common House only this time it wouldn’t be to talk. Dissatisfied with the outcome of this meeting, but at least mollified that an entire faction of the city wasn’t immediately out to kill them, the party came back out in the main room to talk with Parashial some more.

Before they got much further into that conversation, however, the Starweavers arrived. Along with a small contingent of centaur constables from Widdleshins, a couple of Pyre N’ Slag fire trolls, and a six-pack of clay golem soldiers from the Ardoc family. None of the Starweavers looked happy, and Abigail was particularly grim as she formally addressed the party. She asked them to quietly come along, as the party was under arrest. Not for any violence committed in the city, however, oh no, something far worse. The ambassador from Korvosa was aware of their arrival in the city, and had filed a formal request to the city council that they be extradited back to Korvosa for crimes against the state.

Not wanting to fight the Starweavers, and a little impressed that they were apparently held in such high regard as dangerous people that the city council sent their own main adventuring party to collect them, but also a small army, the party reluctantly agreed to surrender themselves quietly. Ronda, meanwhile, quietly slipped under a table, and disappeared into the crowd, intent on finding a way to save the party’s bacon from what would happen should the city council rule in the ambassador’s favor and ship the party back to Korvosa in chains. Welcome to Kaer Maga!

Session One Hundred One Addendum:
I forgot to mention that the Sczarni are also truly Evil for working for slavers . . . but what can you expect from organized crime? Never get into any kind of obligation with them . . . .

Session One Hundred Two:
Hmmm, the Freemen seem to be not so clean themselves -- gladiatorial fight against zombified Orgres? Something's messed up . . . .

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It’s important to remember that while Korvosa is a Lawful Neutral city with strong Lawful Evil tendencies, Kaer Maga is a Chaotic Neutral city with strong Chaotic Evil tendencies. And where it not for the Starweavers and a few good citizens, it would be Chaotic Evil with strong Chaotic Evil tendencies. Anything goes in Kaer Maga, and the allowance of slavery and necromancy pretty much have infected every part of the city’s culture, such that nobody really blinks an eye at someone having a gladiatorial fight with three ogre zombies (it was Parashial’s idea anyway because he wanted to show off to his buddies the Freemen). Also, ogre zombies made good giant-type targets for the Freemen to practice against in preparation for the day they needed to go up against Pyre N’ Slag’s small army of fire trolls, without the problem of hiring giant humanoids to get beat up or talk about the fact that the Freemen were still practicing how to fight against giant-type humanoids.

Basically, the whole city is designed to make the players homesick, and I played up those parts to make sure that happened. And boy, do my players ever *hate* Kaer Maga (with the exception of Cid, who only likes it because it’s Abigail’s home, and Oli’s player, who loves the weirdness compared to other more “normal” D&D cities).

Session One Hundred Three:

So the party was escorted to a building somewhere in Kaer Maga to rest until morning, when they would go before the council. I can’t remember if they were taken to the Starweavers residence, a massive tower in the Hightown Stacks, basically the noble district of the city, or shoved into a room with some bedrolls in the City Quorumtoriam, the city’s center of “government” near the central lake. Either way, they did get some sleep in relative peace for once, at least a few hours into the morning, when the Starweavers returned. I don’t remember if they were asked to surrender their weapons or not – removing their weapons was a common thing when going before leaders so maybe, or given the nature of Kaer Maga nobody may have bothered.

In any event, as they were walking into the Quorumtorium where the city’s council met, they were bumped into by a “guard” who handed them a dossier on the city council and its members, a basic primer to let them know who was who and what they represented – Ronda’s doing. The overall jist was that unlike Korvosa, there was no real central authority in Kaer Maga. However, in order to survive war with Korvosa and a major internal civil war that threatened to destroy the city (the schism within the Brotherhood of the Seal in the Oriat district that led to all-out war between the two factions that ruined the Oriat district and threatened to spill over into others), each of the major factions in Kaer Maga nominated a representative to form a city council. The city council’s word was basically treated as law within the city, although factions that disagreed with a decision often went along with the council’s decision just enough to avoid destroying the illusion of unity. The council was made up of one representative from each district of Kaer Maga, usually appointed by whichever gang or organization had the most influence within that district, plus a twelfth “moderator” position with no real power save trying to keep debate civil and avoid open warfare between the factions again. It was basically like herding cats for the poor bastard as all of the factions in Kaer Maga pretty much hated each other.

Thus, the twelve members of the city council (marked as OC for original characters or CoS as mentioned in the City of Strangers book) that would decide the party’s fate were as follows:

  • Moderator: Luis De Silva (OC) – Yes, the “ambassador” from Kaer Maga that the party saved from assassination in Book Three due to Ileosa having a fit was in fact the glue that held the city council of Kaer Maga together. Which is probably why he came himself, as he sure as hell wasn’t going to trust any of these jackasses to represent Kaer Maga before Korvosa’s new queen (not that it helped him in the end anyway). He was undoubtedly in the party’s favor, but unfortunately as the moderator he had no actual voting power – whoops.

  • Pyre N’ Slag Slavers: Pyre (OC) – The “oh s#*%” moment when my players were escorted into the Quorumtorium and saw a fire giant labeled “Pyre” at the massive city council table was PERFECT. Ironically, Pyre was probably their staunchest ally on the council at the moment (which admittedly was just saying he didn’t want to kill them or throw them to the wolves). The inspiration for his personality was pretty much Wilson Fisk from Daredevil – an unrepentantly evil man, but one who was willing to work with anyone without thought of betrayal provided their interests were aligned. Cross him, however, and he had the influence, money, and power to make your life miserable in a thousand different ways. To Pyre, high-level adventurers were both extremely useful and extremely dangerous, but since Oliver was the Scarzni’s “man” in Korvosa that put him and the rest of the party in the “useful” category – for now. So he did his best to stay on their good side, while continuing to be a blatantly evil jerk. He also clearly distasted the just-under-control anarchy of Kaer Maga, wanting to bring it all to (lawful) heel – chaos, after all, was bad for his business.

  • Widdleshins Constabulary: Chief Constable Taius Jessen (SoC) – The commander of the Widdleshins Constabulary, Taius was pretty much as much of a racist as could be expected for a man hired to keep a city district “clean of undesirables”. So he didn’t much care for Vaz’em or Cid just because of who they were, and thus was perfectly happy throwing the party to the wolves if it meant keeping the peace with Korvosa. Obviously he didn’t much care for the non-human members of the city council either, although at least he was smart enough not to get too insulting at Pyre.

  • Church of Urgathoa: Horus Ilaktya (SoC) – Horus was the chief priest of Urgathoa in Kaer Maga, and a close business partner of Pyre N’ Slag. Originally the two were competitors, slaves competing against undead for the city’s grunt labor pool, but eventually they realized they could team up (to produce things together like dolls), each filling their own specific niche and both benefiting from cooperation. Horus was less certain than Pyre about sticking their neck out in support of the party, especially since the party’s opposition to Lady Andaisin, Urgathoa’s chosen, was well known by this point. But he did have to admit that the party could prove to be a strong ally against the Church of Pharasma, so earning their favor before Pharsma could do it instead was critically important.

  • Cult of the Child Goddesses: Shamalay Kasan (SoC) – So basically there was a cult set up in Ankar-Te that involved children being sealed up in stone coffins, and carried around the city district to distribute blessings to the people (in exchange for a small fee, of course). Noises occasionally came from the sealed coffins, so there was something moving around inside, and the cult put forth the idea that the children inside were children of the gods, how else could they survive? The truth, of course, was that they were just a bunch of animated skeletons rattling around inside, and the whole thing was a massive con job. But Shamalay was vehemently insistent that she was a servant of these immature gods, and she had divine powers to prove it (some more chicanery there, of course, or perhaps she was really a servant of Norberger – never decided for sure). In any event, she was sort of the buffer between the other two major churches of Urgathoa and Pharasma that were in a state of perpetual cold war, and was completely self-serving. For now, she was undecided on what should be done with the party, but was willing to lean in whatever direction the overall wind of the council blew.

  • Commerce League: Zib’ulub’yipyip (Organization SoC, Representative OC) – Long ago when randomly asked what a kobold’s name was, I threw together some random syllables and a yip yip sound at the end like a small dog barking as back in the day, kobolds were dogs, not lizards damnit. And thus Zib’ulub’yipyip was born, and I loved the little s++~ so much that I try to squeeze him into my other games now and then – and since I needed a kobold mouthpiece for the Commerce League, here he was. Of course, “Commerce League” wasn’t really an alliance of legitimate businesses, but rather a front for all of the gambling, prostitution, and protection rackets that the underworld ran in Kaer Maga. The real leader was a naga known as Dakar, but he liked his shadowy existence and privacy so he commonly had kobold mouthpieces serve as his voice on the city council. As such, Zib’ulub’yipyip didn’t really have his own opinion towards the party, although he was afraid of them and wanted to get rid of them despite Dakar’s instructions to size them up first and see if they could be useful to the League, and if not to ensure that they were deported or otherwise disposed of.

  • The Freemen: Halman Wright (SoC) – While the first iteration of the city council did enforce a peace treaty between the slavers and the Freemen, one of the concessions that was granted to the Freemen was a seat on the city council. Becoming a bureaucrat to continue the “good fight” in the halls of power rather than in streets awash in blood, Halman Wright did his best to play the game of politician. And to his credit, the Freemen did grow considerably during the following years of peace – but they also grew complacent. And while he hadn’t intended of firebombing the party while they slept, he still wanted to get rid of Pyre N’ Slag’s new friends, and saw his chance to do so here by getting them deported. The party grew to really hate the man’s guts, mostly because he was just a pain in the ass coward and backbiter.

  • The Troll Augurs: Herald (Organization SoC, Representative OC) – The troll augurs, despite being trolls, were all-in-all nice people (for trolls). They just wanted to be left alone and contribute to the city in a way that their unique regenerative nature could be of use, by using their own bodies as components for divination rituals. There were quite a lot of them all told, at least several dozen, and being trolls they had a fair bit of power when they moved together. Plus, they had built up a reputation over the years of not just being capable of divination magic but just being fairly wise and a good source of advice to the citizens of the city in general, hence they got a seat on the city council even though they were largely indifferent to the honor. Herald, in particular, was a very nice troll, and had gotten a sense that the party’s presence here would be of great benefit to Kaer Maga (plus he had simply decided he liked them). So Herald was in favor of protecting the party and not deporting them, only he was one of the few present with perhaps the exception of De Silva who didn’t want any favors from the party in return.

  • The Duskwardens: Rothgar Hammerfall (SoC) – The Duskwardens were sort of the nominal protectors of the city, although they were certainly aware that they were *not* the police. Their duties were just to explore the immense catacombs and tunnels beneath the city, keep the monster population down below from spilling up to the surface, and establish safe routes through to the plains below. That’s it, and it was a job that they did very well. Rothgar did not suffer fools, but unfortunately the city council was packed with fools and thus Rothgar spent most of his time making wise cracks and just being generally abrasive to get under the other representatives’ skin. It was a coping mechanism for him so he could survive putting up with these boring, frustrating meetings that almost never went anywhere. While basically indifferent to the party’s plight, he would be willing to support them if the party could prove themselves to be an asset to the city instead of just trouble.

  • Church of Pharasma: Delana Karaheis (SoC) – As high priestess of Pharasma in Kaer Maga, Delana had the unenviable task of trying to limit the influence of Urgathoa’s church. Which was difficult with the widespread presence of undead in the city, a fact that made the Pharasmans’ blood boil. Unfortunately, there was nothing short of open warfare that would solve that problem, and any such act of open aggression would immediately turn the rest of the city against her church so her hands were pretty thoroughly tied. As such, the best she could manage was to act as a counterweight to Horus on the council, and since he and Pyre were buddy-buddies and in favor of the party, that meant she regrettably had to be against them.

  • Arcanists Circle: Suthevan Graves (SoC) – A rough collection of mages, alchemists, and arcanists working out of the Tarheel Promenade district, the Arcanists Circle was basically Kaer Maga’s answer to Korvosa’s Acadamae. Although predictably, the Arcanists Circle was a loose collaboration between individual magic-users within the city of Kaer Maga, each with their own students, instruction methodology, and business. Suthevan was one of the most powerful of the wizards within the city, and so he got the task of sitting on the city council. Something which he didn’t particularly like very much, and tried to stay out of everyone else’s way as much as possible while trying not to look *too* bored or asleep while he mentally worked on some sort of arcane problem. So basically he was another council member who didn’t give a s~%% about the party one way or the other, and largely didn’t say much during council meetings.

  • Ardoc Family: Merriman Ardoc (SoC) – The patriarch of the infamous Ardoc family of Kaer Maga, a large extended family of skilled craftsmen, the Ardoc name was synonymous with the use of golems and other constructs within the city. Essentially, it had been a three-way competition between Urgathoa’s undead, Pyre N’ Slag’s slaves, and Ardoc ‘s golems, but now that Urgathoa and Pyre N’ Slag were allied, the Ardoc family was at a notable disadvantage. And Merriman Ardoc, a consummate businessman, really didn’t like that very much. He also had no patience for further disruptions to his business, which the party was threatening with the risk of war with Korvosa by their very presence. And war would mean that the city council would expect him to contribute many of his golems to its defense – for free, which was an intolerable thought. Thus, the party was his enemy, and had to be dealt with.

So, with this “brief” primer on who the city council members were, and their relations with each other, the party was then ushered into the immense city council chamber, where the twelve members of the city council were seated around a massive circular table. Standing in the middle of this circular table (with a slot cut into it to allow people to move from outside to inside the circle) was Korvosa’s new ambassador – Gwen. And upon seeing the party (and with a mouthed “Sorry!”), Gwen again declared the position of her city – either Kaer Maga immediately extradited the party back to Korvosa in Gwen’s care, or Korvosa would deem any refusal as an outright act of war.

Cue the city council immediately starting to argue with each other and verbally snipe each other like children fighting over a sweet, with De Silva nobly trying and failing to maintain order. Horus and Delana sniped at each other, while Shamalay snarked off, Zib’ulup’yipyip shrieked that the party must be deported immediately, with Pyre and Herald arguing that they could be of great benefit to the city, and Halman of course arguing the reverse because that’s what Pyre wanted. It was a complete and utter clusterf$+@, and as intended, continued to drive the point home that Kaer Maga was a chaotic, unfriendly city, and a far cry from the orderly city they once called home.

Eventually the party managed to speak in their own defense, with Rholand taking the opportunity as always to rub the NPCs’ noses in the mess they had just made on the floor (to be fair they really deserved to have their noses smacked this time). Unlike previous efforts at lecturing/inspiring others to do the right thing, this time Rholand’s pleas fell on deaf ears and the council *still* continued to bicker and argue, going nowhere towards a decision.

Eventually, Parashial himself barged into the city council, the Starweavers and other guards uselessly trailing behind him. Apparently Parashial had saved the city many years ago from a black dragon (not Zarmangorf but another spawn of Kazavon nonetheless who was attempting to entrap the entire city in a web of conspiracy and intrigue, and succeeding quite magnificently until Parashial shoved a sword through his eye), which bought him a fair bit of respect and credibility from the council.

Parashial likewise drunkenly came to the party’s defense, lecturing the council that there would be a *big* problem with him if they deported his son back to Korvosa and his death. At one point, after it being pointed out that he was barely understandable due to slurring his words so badly, Parashial paused a moment to produce a vial from a pack, downing the contents and immediately becoming clear headed (there’s a potionable spell that removes any drunkenness – quite popular with Parashial for obvious reasons). Now clear headed, Parashial continued his arguments, while examining Gwen with a suddenly critical eye.

Without warning, he produced a shuriken and threw it into Gwen’s chest, causing her to scream and the wound to immediately start smoking as the dragon bane enchantment did its work. Now revealed to be a dragon, all of Gwen’s credibility went out the window, as the council united against her (the memory of the other dragon that had nearly conquered Kaer Maga from within left a *really* bad taste in their mouths). Struggling to keep her temper, Gwen continued to threaten the reaction of Korvosa if the Kaer Maga, to which the joint council reply was pretty much “stuff it, dragon, and gtfo before we have Parashial skin you alive”. Something which Parashial was *really* keen to do, as he kept taunting Gwen and proposing that she shift back into her natural dragon form so it would be a fair fight when he ripped her head off (earning him a lot of ire from Rholand).

Flustered at the sudden reversal in fortune and still in pain from the bane shuriken (those things hurt!), Gwen fled from the city council chambers with a promise that they would all regret this. And thus ended Gwen’s brief career as a diplomat. She disappeared before Rholand could have a conversation with her, a fact that irked him with the council and Parashial. But, with certain war with Korvosa now on the horizon, the city council was *much* more interested in securing the party’s services in return for asylum in Kaer Maga. The threat of deportation back to Korvosa was over. But the council division was still clearly present, despite the common enemy of Korvosa to keep them “united”. The party had a feeling that they were all doomed as they were allowed to leave the city council chambers. De Silva generously offered to put them up in his own residence, a very nice tower within the Hightown Stacks (the Starweavers also lived there).

For managing to “convince” the council not to extradite them, the party finally got enough XP to level up to eleventh level (while the party’s cohorts simultaneously leveled up to ninth level). They also earned a brief reprieve, and got to split up into small groups to do their own thing as they got to know Kaer Maga a bit better. I don’t quite remember what everyone did on this first actual day in Kaer Maga, but a remember a few of the roleplaying vinaigrettes.

Trinia, Cyrus, and Vox went to go shopping in the markets for new clothes and just to see what was available (and proper armor for Vox’s new centaur booty – er, body) – this will be of critical importance later.

Rholand met with Laori and Sial and got a status update on Sial’s progress in gaining access to the Great Library. Sial was making progress, and they should be able to start studying the ancient texts within the library for any information on the Blood Hunt curse in another day or two.

Oliver and Cid had a brief talk with Pyre, who expressed his desire for continued goodwill and cooperation with the party. He apologized for the unanticipated attack by the Freemen dogs, and promised retribution on their behalf. He then asked how the two enjoyed their gifts, and Cid told him in no uncertain terms what he had done with his “gift”, which incensed Pyre given that it was a “senseless” waste – if Cid hadn’t liked his gift, he could have simply returned the doll to Pyre and been reimbursed the value in gold! Oliver wasn’t particularly interested in dealing with the chief slaver of Kaer Maga any more than he had to, but he paid lip service to the idea of continuing to work together. Meanwhile, he set Elice on the task of using whatever contacts she had left to figure out where Pyre’s businesses were within Kaer Maga, and what sort of guards he had guarding them. Just in case he ever decided to sever their relationship . . . decisively.

Speaking of slaves, Cid was wandering around in the downmarket when a slave sale was announced, and to his shock discovered Abigail buying a number of the slaves up for auction! After the sale was concluded, the paladin motioned for Cid to accompany her and personally escorted all of the purchased slaves to the Common House where she officially freed the slaves and introduced them to the Freemen. The freemen members that took responsibility for the freed slaves were kinda dicks about it, making disparaging remarks to Abigail about selling out, which she weathered stoically (to be fair, the Freemen themselves purchased slaves to then immediately free them, so they really shouldn’t be throwing stones here).

Once away from the Common House, Abigail explained that, a long time ago in her youth, she had been a member of the Freemen. A rather violent member of the Freemen, much like Trent, who would have burned down the entire city if it meant killing all of the slavers like Pyre N’ Slag. The impetus for this hatred was the fact that Abigail’s younger sister, Lucinda, had been kidnapped by slavers and sold off into slavery in some distant land (back in the bad old days when the slavers preyed on Kaer Magan citizens). Abigail would have come to a bad end eventually, if not for the actions of an old paladin of Sarenrae passing through Kaer Maga after retiring from the Worldwound Crusades, who took her under her wing and taught her about Sarenrae’s mercy. Following in her mentor’s footsteps, Abigail also became a paladin of Sarenrae and left the Freemen and her angry violent teenage years behind. Instead, she became a hero and protector of Kaer Maga, and did what she could to make Kaer Maga a better place. It was an ugly, mean, place, but it was her home and there *was* some beauty and kindness beneath all of the filth and self-interest.

I’m not sure what Vaz’em was doing during all this, but I do know that he was away from the Trinia/Vox/Cyrus NPC group. Maybe accepting the courier package from Glorio that showed up around this point with all of the gold he still owed them from selling the items they found back in the Arkona summer manor outside Harse? Seemed as good of a distraction as any.

In any event, after this all too short period of calm, a concerned Vox and an ashamed Cyrus came and found the party. While Vox was getting fitted with armor, Cyrus and Trinia had continued wandering around the market, and they passed a small Varisian harrow tent. Enticed by the harrower inside to come get her fortune read, Trinia went inside while Cyrus, who was supposed to be her escort and bodyguard (Vox could take care of herself), stepped on to check out a nearby merchant’s wares. When he was done and came back to catch back up with Trinia, she was gone. And so was the Varisian Harrower, and on further reflection, Cyrus was concerned that Trinia’s sudden intense desire to go in and get her fortune told was the result of some sort of charm spell, likely Suggestion or the like. In other words, Trinia was gone, kidnapped by persons unknown for reasons unknown . . . but in a city like Kaer Maga, there could be no good reason. Welcome to Kaer Maga, Cliffhanger Part Three!

Session One Hundred Three:
Cult of the Child Goddesses: Shamalay Kasan: ". . . She had divine powers to prove it (some more chicanery there, of course, or perhaps she was really a servant of Norberger – never decided for sure) . . ." -- not sure if City of Strangers has something for this already, but if not, here is something useful for this kind of thing, that just came out very recently.

If it hadn't been for Parashial, the party probably would have been sent back to Korvosa in chains, unless somebody else thought of a way to reveal Gwen as a Dragon.

I've gotten a bad taste about Sarenrae's church in general -- even though some individuals within are good people, her faith has a great many slaveholders in it.

Shadow Lodge

Blasphemy! UnArcane! Blasphemy!

I think Cid sold out Gwen much to Rholand's disapproval.

I don't think Inspectre truly emphasized how seriously annoying these council members really are. We couldn't get a word in edge wise they some disagreed just because someone agreed with us. They couldn't even stop bickering when we were saving their sorry hides!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Cid’s player does have a point – I believe that Cid did indeed try to voice the news that Gwen was a dragon early on in the proceedings, but got a stern elbow in the gut from Rholand before he could really raise those concerns loud enough for the arguing Council Leaders to hear him. Which was pretty much an ongoing problem for the party throughout their stay in Kaer Maga, as the city leaders were ALWAYS bickering.

Session One Hundred Four:

So, after spending the last several sessions being battered, insulted, and just generally made to feel unwelcome in Kaer Maga, our heroes finally had an outlet for their frustrations. The people who had kidnapped Trinia certainly made a mistake, as the party had a very particular set of skills, developed over a very long campaign. Skills which made them a nightmare for people who went around kidnapping people off the street to sell into slavery. And there was little doubt what they were going to do when they found these people. (Yes, I pretty much made Taken jokes non-stop during this whole bit. The DM has to find his fun somehow!)

Anyway, given how much ground they had to cover, the party reached out to what few friends they did have in Kaer Maga, namely the Starweavers and Laori/Sial. Sial wasn’t much help, although he reluctantly agreed to keep his eye out – he had heard about an unusual sale of slaves going through the city soon (that night I think?). As a VIP from Nidal, he had pretty much no problem securing an invitation to this underground slave auction, which was rare for Kaer Maga since thanks to Pyre N’ Slag most slave auctions were open to the public. Sial’s investigation would become relevant later.

Abigail promised to start looking for their missing friend right away, while Edward had the more practical idea of simply scrying on Trinia. Inviting the party up to his little corner of De Silva’s tower (the top attic portion which he had converted into pretty much the inside of the archetypical mage tower), Edward procured one of Trinia’s hairs left on her belongings that the party still had, and got out his crystal ball. He had a little bit of trouble establishing a connection, and when he finally did the picture inside of the crystal ball was somewhat hazy, but it did show two hobgoblins carrying a large box into a darkened room. Opening one end of the box, the hobgoblins tilted it a bit, and dumped a bound and gagged Trinia out onto the floor, dropping her at the feet of the half-elf Varisian woman who had escorted the party to Smitherby’s! A woman who had gone by the name Madame Zayana from the name stitched into the side of her tent that Trinia had gone into.

The woman was talking to a fourth person in the room, an agitated tiefling in rich clothing, who was grousing about how this little stunt was going to bring too much attention down on him, even with the profits from selling off the Kingslayer who slew Korvosa’s King Eodred. Tilting her head, Zayana suddenly looked directly at the crystal ball, drew a knife from her robes, and slide it underneath Trinia’s chin. “Stop scrying. Now.” She announced, leading Rholand to shout repeatedly at Edward in a panic to “turn it off, turn it off!”

Edward fortunately obeyed, so they didn’t have to watch Trinia get diced up in increasingly permanent ways, but as soon as the scrying connection was gone Edward started swearing. He had recognized the tiefling – his name was Nicodemus. The same Nicodemus who had been the N’ in Pyre N’ Slag, which had formerly been Pyre, Nicodemus, and Slag slavers prior to Nicodemus being banished from the city. Banished from the city for kidnapping people within Kaer Maga and selling them off into slavery, which included Lucina – Abigail’s sister. Needless to say, Abigail would *not* be happy to learn that the slaver who nearly ruined her life (and certainly ruined her sister’s) was back in Kaer Maga, and Edward strongly cautioned the party *not* to tell Abigail that it was Nicodemus who was behind Trinia’s kidnapping.

However, Nicodemus’s involvement meant that they didn’t have a lot of time – rather than holding Trinia for ransom the plan was clearly to sell her into slavery, and if that happened, it was highly likely that they would never see her again. Or they’d at least have to spend a hell of a lot of time looking for her, a result that Togomor was hoping for as it would keep the party effectively busy chasing its tail. And if not, well, they lost a friend to a lifetime of degrading and brutal slavery, which would hurt – that would also satisfy Togomor, sadistic bastard that he was.

While the scrying had not told them exactly where Trinia was, it had given them a lot of valuable information. Namely, that she was going to be sold into slavery, and that meant an auction. An auction happening rather soon, and likely out of the way so Pyre N’ Slag didn’t get involved and try to take a “union” cut (Nicodemus was rather pissed at them as well, since they forced him out in the first place). Kinda like that secret underground auction happening tonight, maybe?

The party did a bit more digging, met up with Abigail and told her they thought there was someone trying to sell Trinia off in an underground auction. Having been a former Freeman and having a particular interest in rooting out any slavers who were unwilling to toe the party line Pyre N’ Slag had set up (no kidnapping Kaer Magan citizens!), Abigail had resources to help narrow down where the auction was being held. To wit, she had a source, a low-level contraband peddler named Xavier who had a knack for learning what was going on in the underworld.

Long story short, the party tracked this Xavier down with Abigail, he tried to run, the party easily caught him, and after a short “polite” conversation with Vaz’em, Xavier told the party everything he knew. Which was basically that there was a new player in town, who wanted to make a big splash in Kaer Maga’s underworld. So he was hosting a party/private slave auction tonight, at some new place called the Edge of Hell Marketplace. It sounded too cheesy and unlikely to go over well with the Kaer Magan populace (chaos and LE Hell don’t tend to mix well, after all), but it was pretty exclusive. The only way to get in was to have an invitation to tonight’s event – but with a bit more persuasion Xavier was able to figure out a way to get the party an invitation. He didn’t think he could forge an invitation in the couple of hours he had before the auction started shortly after sunset, but no doubt invitations were sent out to a number of movers and shakers in Kaer Maga. Xavier *did* have a good idea who those people were, and which ones were unlikely to attend despite getting an invitation. So the party just had to go and steal one of those unused invitations – which Vaz’em pretty much did in five minutes.

With an invitation secured, the party was ready to go to an exclusive underworld slave auction party! Which did have to wait for the following session to actually take place.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hi Inspectre

I greatly enjoy reading your journal, but sometimes I find it hard to keep up with all the characters. Just looking at the party itself, including all the extras hanging around them, it gets hard to keep track.

So I gather you have a four-men party, consisting of Rholand, Oliver, Cid and Vaz’em. But then there are people like Trinia, Cyrus, Vox, Laori, Belinda, Elice, Serassa, Aelah … Are all these character GM controlled NPCs or are they cohorts and do your players take control of them?

I’d also be interested in knowing exactly what class and level everyone is (stats would be even better). As a casual reader of your (sometimes irregular) posts, it is hard to remember all the details, so an occasional overview of the party and their close allies would be a great help to keep up with your wonderful tale.

Anyway, keep up the good work, I love sharing your brilliantly creative/chaotic mind.

Shadow Lodge

It's a HUGE cast of NPC. I'll try to remember everyone....

Cid Donary---- Half-Orc Paladin 12
Rholand Human 1 fighter/11 Oracle
Vaz'em "Catfolk" 12 ninja
Oliver Half elf 12 fighter/Darkside

Cyrus (Cid's) 10 Magus
Bruno (Rholand's) Bear
Rhoda (Oli's) Kobold bard.


Trinia - Painter/kidnap victim
Laori - Cleric of Zonny/Trauma victim
Belinda - Zombie ho
Elica - Zombie Ho
Serassa - Zombie Ho
Vox - Former Hellknight/mount

Edwin - Wizard extraordinaire
Ganthor - Barbarian Smash
Abigail - Pretty Paladin/demon
Sergio - Cleric Dad

Adonis Kreed - Who?
Togomar - Rholand's best friend
Elzeer-Ka - Cid's pal
Vimidus - Vaz's aunt
Lord Vile - Daemon bastard
Sial - chief Zonny Cleric and a#@%~~~

1 person marked this as a favorite.

That’s a great idea MrVergee! I see Cid’s player has already posted a brief preview, I’ll see if I can post an update every now and then with what the party’s status is at the current point in the story.

Our Heroes:

Oliver Kalissreavel – Half-Elf (No Archetype) Fighter 11, uses sword and cutlass (with occasional Adamantine Lucern Hammer use). Built as a heavy armored tank that can take quite a bit of punishment, and dish it back out with critical hits from his cutlass (which thanks to the rest of the party having Outflank, tend to blenderize anything that gets flanked by them).

Rholand J’Skar – Human Oracle (of Nature) 10, Fighter 1, has an animated shield and bec de corbin. Does a little bit of everything, serving as a combat buffer, healer, summoner, back-up front liner, and moral center of the party. His animal companion bear, Bruno, tends to do a lot of the melee fighting on his behalf.

Vaz’em – Catfolk Ninja 11, uses a claw blade and his Arkona ancestral short sword Hazaali. Invisible melee blender and sneaky thief.

Cid Donary – Half-Orc Black Blade Magus 11, formerly human prior to a Reincarnate, uses a falcata for massive shocking grasp crits. Also provides party with some AoE capability with fireball and various support spells like Fly.


Ronda – Kobold Bard 9, formerly human bard, cohort of Oliver. While she was formerly a whip-spec Disarmer, her recinaration into a kobold left her poor at that trick. So she mostly just hung back and buffed with Bard Song and occasional buff spell.

Cyrus – Staff Magus 9, human, magical debuffer/nuisance (primarily with Toppling Magic Missile). Not quite sure when Cid took the Leadership feat to take Cyrus on as a cohort, but it was around in this period where he transitioned from a tag-along NPC to a full-on cohort. Cid rebuilt him at that point, with the only caveat that he had to keep Cyrus as a Staff magus (as he’s meant to be sort of a “sissy” scholar type compared to the brutal killers that filled the ranks of the Order of the Nail.

Bruno – The Bear Extraordinaire, animal companion for Rholand through companion revealation of Nature oracle. Was picked up by Rholand at a circus between Korvosa and Harse, as a replacement for the sadly dead Flank. Built for melee with armor barding and adamantine tooth caps. Not quite as brutal of a melee tank as Flank was, but still decent. Serves as frequent comic relief where he “talks” to the party with “Bru? Bru. Bru!”

Trinia Sabor – Human Bard 8. Mostly just secondary buffer and healer, and rarely stabs things with a rapier. She’s sort of redundant thanks to Ronda also being a bard, but she still helps out with buffs like Good hope, and helps Rholand heal the party back up after major scraps with CLW, CMW, & CSW spam. Has a knack for getting into trouble because she’s essentially The Woobie, as defined by TV Tropes as the innocent, sweet, cute character that the writer hates and enjoys making suffer. As is the current situation, with her getting kidnapped by some of Togomor’s Kaer Magan friends like Madame Zayana! Has a thing for Vaz’em, as he’s often helped her out of her bad situations and just been supportive.

Vox – Centaur Magus 13, formerly human. Vox participated only rarely in the party’s fights, mostly be debuffing enemies with Glitterdust or softening them up with the occasional AoE spell like Fireball. Unlike Trinia, she tended to be less aggressive in combat since I didn’t want her somehow overshadowing Cid since she still has two levels on him. Plus, y’know, random NPC ally rather than a cohort so in general she’s going to be less helpful.

Laori Vaus – Elf Cleric of Zon-Kuthon 10. Occassional combat ally of the party, who usually just bashes things with her spiked chain, spams negative energy channels, or Flamestrikes things. She tended to only help the party occasionally in fights as they didn’t tend to be together a whole lot in Book Four. When she was around, though, she’d at least help out hurting the party’s enemies. Likes to flirt with Cid, a lot, which sort of makes things awkward given Cid’s growing romantic relationship with Abigail (oh so awkward).

Shadowcount Sial – Human Mystic Theurge 6/Wizard 3/Cleric of Zon-Kuthon 3. Has Asyra, a kyton fighter 4 as a Called outsider bodyguard who generally walks around in a burka so as not to draw attention to the pair in civilization. Much less helpful than Laori, although he doesn’t hold back on the snark. He’s proven useful on occasion though, with Walls of Force and Teleport and similar support spells, so the party puts up with his sarcasm. Also, he’s sort of a package deal with Laori at this point so the party just sighs and puts up with him – for now.

The Dolls – Serassa’s re-dead at this point. While Elice, Aelah, and Belinda continue to be occasional sources of information for the party, they don’t ever help out in combat (they’re only level 3 or so anyway). Eventually they were all freed and left to their own devices or put to rest, as we will cover in the coming sessions.

The Starweavers:

While the party largely didn’t have many friends in Kaer Maga, they did have the Starweavers, Kaer Maga’s premier adventuring party that largely served the same role for Kaer Maga as they had served for Korvosa. The Starweavers provided a lot of support to the party during its stay in Kaer Maga, mostly as a resource and guide rather than combat, although occasionally there would be a large-scale fight where both the party and the Starweavers fought side-by-side. Generally in those cases Abigail and Granthor would melee, Sergio would heal, and Edward would cast some sort of AoE damage/control spell, and the Starweavers would engage some other target off to the side of whatever the party was fighting.

Abigail – Human Paladin 10. The leader of the Starweavers, and daughter of Sergio. Lost her sister Lucinda to Nicodemus, who sold her into slavery. Very close to Cid, with a possible romantic relationship between them in the offering.

Edward – Human Wizard 10. A generalist wizard, Edward is the one both parties turn to for answers when they need something scried or researched. Usually buffs the Starweavers with Haste and then uses various AoE damage/control spells in combat. Always prepared with consumables or a clever plan, although he’s decided Neutral and pragmatic in his approach, which occasionally clashes with Abigail’s LG idealism. Original member of the Starweavers and a good friend of Sergio’s.

Sergio – Human Cleric of Desna 10. The former leader of the Starweavers and their founder, who has stepped aside to allow his daughter to lead them. Mostly focuses on healing any injuries with Channel Energy and stays out of the way as he’s an elderly man now and getting a little too old for this adventuring s#@+.

Granthor – Dwarf Barbarian 10. A boisterous and uncouth dwarf, Granthor tends to treat everything has a joke, and harasses Abigail about her feelings for Cid like an older brother. He is, however, fiercely protective of all of the Starweavers, as they’re the only family he has now. Generally just rages and beats the hell out of things with a Greataxe.

Session One Hundred Five:

So the party now has an invitation to the Edge of Hell Marketplace, and as the sun sets on Kaer Maga they (Vox, Ronda, Bruno, and Cyrus in tow) head to the non-descript back alley where this marketplace is supposed to be. They find a set of stairs leading down to a basement-level entrance, guarded by a pair of hobgoblins. They show the hobgoblins the invitation, and they open the (magically sealed) doors, allowing them entry.

As the party step inside, their stomachs lurch, allowing them to make Spellcraft checks to realize they just stepped through into a Demiplane, a created extradimensional plane of existence. Rholand also feels somewhat ill, triggering the revelation that this demiplane had the Impede Magic (Good-aligned) trait. It was likely that the doorway they had just stepped through was also the only way out of this demiplane, short of Plane Shift. (This demiplane had been created by Nicodemus off of a scroll that Togomor granted him through the intermediary of Madame Zayana.) With those details in mind, the party was on guard, but also in information gathering mode rather than attack mode, until they figured out more what exactly they were dealing with – and to ensure that someone didn’t kill/slip out the back with Trinia while they were wreaking havoc in the front.

The Edge of Hell Marketplace itself was a gaudy mix of Hellish architecture and Qadiran (think Arabian Nights), complete with a large water fountain and basin dominating the entry room. A sizable number of hobgoblin guards stood at attention throughout the room, while girls dressed as Qadrian slave girls (think veils and chains and not much else) carried platters of food and wine glasses around to the various guests. It seemed that the auction had not started yet, and so this was still the “mingling” portion of the evening. The front three rooms of the plane were open for the party to move about, and so they circled around seeing who else was here to purchase slaves tonight.

Laori and Sial (with Asyra at his side) were present, and while Sial studiously maintained his distance from the party Laori was her usual bubbly, friendly self, flirting with Cid and letting the group know that she had their back. Also present was a huge orc, missing his right eye, along with two heavily armored bodyguard who looked *exactly* like the Dark Rider that had attacked the party on the back of a wyvern. Followers of the Bleeding Eye, and by extension Zarmangorf. None of them were friendly, mostly just grunting at the party and staring at them, Oliver in particular (although they didn’t attack him on sight). Also present was the fire troll Hazzik, one of Pyre N’ Slags lackeys, who somehow had been let in (Nicodemus did want to gloat and rub his return in his old partners’ noses, after all. The fact that they sent a lackey instead of coming themselves was proof enough what they thought of him.) The final guest of honor was Victae Corbaru, a vampire wizard and member of what passed for Kaer Maga’s nobility. Although the party didn’t learn this until much later, Victae was an old friend of Togomor’s, and they had studied blood magic together. Victae turned himself into a vampire to continue his studies of blood magic, while Togomor focused on becoming a bloat mage, imbuing his body’s humors with magic at the cost of his body swelling to its present grotesquely fat shape. He was therefore rather cold with the party as well, although he also maintained his party animal/playboy façade well (he was attended by two invisible stalkers, who followed him around as bodyguards).

The party was just starting to get anxious, and Oliver was starting to enact a plan of having Elice dress up as one of the slave girls and try to innocently wander past the hobgoblin guards at the doors leading into the back of the plane to see what was back there, when the doors opened and the assembled guests were permitted to enter the sale floor. Greeting the guests just inside the doors was a towering stone statue of a devil, its face carved in Nicodemus’s likeness (this was actually a stone golem with the shield guardian template keyed to protect Nicodemus and take half of any damage he took – another gift from Togomor). Several rows of chairs had been set up in meticulous even lines on the stone floor, in front of a large wooden stage. Standing on the stage was a well-dressed Tiefling man – Nicodemus, who greeted all of his guests warmly and informed them that while it had been a long exile in the distant land of Qadria, he was now back in Kaer Maga in style!

I had expected the party to sit down together as a group, but instead they scattered about the available seating, which made the opening part of the combat to follow a little awkward as I had intended for the party to have to fight their way through one set of guests – either the Bleeding Eye orcs or Victae – before dealing with Nicodemus. The intent was for the Starweavers (who were on their way and would show up shortly) to deal with the other set of guests at the same time, both groups fighting their way to the stage to get at Nicodemus, but alas that plan had to be scrapped.

Without much further preamble (and to a little heckling from Cid and Oli, who just couldn’t help themselves), Nicodemus started with the big draw of tonight’s sale, and then promising other slaves would be available for purchase afterward, including the grey render that sat pouting in a cage in one back corner of the stage. Clapping his hands, Nicodemus summoned several hobgoblins, as well as Madame Zayana, from a side entrance onto the stage, dragging “The Kingslayer”, Trinia Sabor – clad in a similar slave girl outfit, with a fake gaudy crown perched on her head, and a dagger dripping blood sovereign glued into one hand. Although the party had no way of knowing this, Trinia had not been a cooperative captive, and had already used her bard skills to fascinate a group of hobgoblin guards before she attempted to escape. Since she was on a demiplane, however, her escape attempt ultimately failed, and so now she was dragged onto the stage in chains and gagged to prevent any repeat problems during her sale.

The biding got started with a three-way bidding war between the party, Victae, and Sial (which drew some flak from the party afterwards, but from his LE perspective Sial planned to quietly buy the girl for the party, and then release her into their care *without* having to resort to killing everyone present). Sadly, a peaceful resolution was not going to be possible, as the doors boomed open to admit the Starweavers, having left a trail of dead hobgoblin guards behind them as they stormed the Marketplace. Nicodemus and Abigail recognized each other immediately, and things got a lot more hostile as they traded threats, and Nicodemus threatened to kill Trinia if the Starweavers didn’t back down immediately. In an uncharacteristic display, Abigail basically shrugged and said go ahead and kill the girl, but it wouldn’t stop her from killing him (that’s not very paladin-like behavior Abby!)

Madame Zayana shrugged, and with a gesture ordered Trinia to kill herself, slowly. Raising her sovereign glued dagger, Trinia obeyed, stabbing herself in the stomach (Zayana had used a Dominate spell on Trinia just for this situation). Nicodemus also gestured, and the giant devil statue of himself rumbled to life, and used one of its shield guardian abilities to dimension door to his side, blocking the stairs up onto the stage. With another gesture, Nicodemus activated all of the traps that filled the meticulously arranged floor seating, sending crossbow bolts flying along rows of seats, along with guillotine blades dropping down from the ceiling to cover most of the aisles around the seating, and a cauldron of molten gold to dump itself on Hazzik (who didn’t care due to being a Fire Troll and thus immune to Fire, dummy Nico).

Things got only more chaotic as Victae (being a secret ally of Togomor and thus aware of what was going on) turned himself invisible and ordered his invisible stalkers to attack. Has he had also dominated the Grey Render previously (being the actual seller of it, using Nicodemus as an intermediary), Victae ordered the creature to break free of its cage and run amok, which it sadly failed to do, failing what should have been a fairly easy strength check to break the bars of its cell over and over until I finally had it give up in disgust (not that the fight wasn’t already a complete clusterf!*$). All of the slave girls who had been serving food also revealed themselves to be Victae’s vampire spawn at this point, dogpiling on Abigail who shrieked in rage more than alarm as the vampire spawn had a lot of trouble hitting her decent AC (the dozen or so spawn did do their job of keeping the Starweavers busy though). Hazzik, obviously pissed off at getting covered in molten gold, stormed the stage with a promise of retribution against Nicodemus on behalf of his old partners, while the Bleeding Eye orcs just sat back and watched everything, much more entertained by this chaos than the boring, orderly auction.

The party for the most part tried to get out of the way of the traps now flying every which way in the room, and Vaz’em and Oliver stormed the stage to get at Trinia. Vaz’em leapt onto the stage easily with his ninja skills and tackled Trinia, wrestling for control of the dagger, while Oliver went up the steps after Nicodemus, only to be blocked by the stone golem (who could spam Slow, which really cut into Oliver’s damage as he was now perma-Staggered). Rholand summoned a Hound Archon, only for Nicodemus to shriek that he was in charge here, and good-aligned outsiders were NOT allowed, banishing it with his next action (as he was the owner of the demiplane, he had some degree of control here, including being able to eject outsiders he didn’t like, although I decided not to extend that to mortal visitors as otherwise this would be a short fight with Nico kicking the party out one by one, followed by the Starweavers). Cid and Laori mostly focused on clearing out the line of hobgoblin guards blocking access to the stage, firebaling and flamestriking the poor bastards into oblivion (they were level 1 warrior thugs that Nicodemus hired to look intimidating – not the sort of thing that’s even going to really slow down a high-level party). Vox started spamming Glitterdust trying to reveal the stalkers and Victae, which was only partially successful as Victae kept moving and was lucky in zig-zagging out of the way until he finally got hit by one and had to pause his barrage of debuffing spells to turn himself invisible/dispel the glitterdust off himself).

It was around this point where we paused the fight – with all of the combatants on both sides of this mess each combat round took quite some time - needing to save the second half for the following session.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Session One Hundred Six:

So as we picked up where we left off in the chaotic battle in the Edge of Hell Marketplace, things only continued to disintegrate as Madame Zayana announced that Togomor sent his regards, and pulled out a scroll of Summon Monster VIII, which she successfully activated, summoning a Hezrou to join the chaotic fight occurring pretty much across the entire massive hall. I don’t think I had the Hezrou use its Blasphemy, as that could have carried the risk of banishing people out of the demiplane, or maybe I used it but everyone luckily made their Will saves. Either way, it was yet another big huge melee beastie that joined the stone golem in pounding on Oliver.

Rholand sent Bruno up ahead for support, and dispelled the dominate on Trinia, leaving Vaz’em and Oliver free to focus on Madame Zayana who was still in melee range, standing right next to Trinia. A new thorny issue revealed itself there, however, as Zayana laughed and Trinia screamed as wounds opened up to join the one she had left in her stomach – like Nicodemus and the golem, Zayana and Trinia were sharing damage (courtesy of an Unwilling Shield spell Zayana had also placed on the poor bard). Rholand dispelled that in relatively short order too, however, and so Zayana decided it was time to get out of here, using a Damnation Stride spell to blink out of existence in a ball of flames (damaging Oliver, Vaz’em, and Trinia some more), to reappear down on the far side of the room by where the party *had* been sitting. Oliver dutifully went chasing after her while Vaz’em and Trinia joined Cid in going after Nicodemus.

Before they could get at the slave master, however, they had to deal with the Hezrou and the stone golem. Fortunately aid was coming by this point, as the Starweavers cleaved through the last of Victae’s vampire spawn, leaving Abigail free to charge the stage (focused soley on Nicodemus) while the rest of the Starweavers joined Cid in beating on the Hezrou.

While Cid and the Starweavers dealt with the Hezrou, Rholand and Vaz’em dealt with Nicodemus’s stone golem, Rholand using his Corrosive Touch to high effectiveness as it does a *lot* of damage to constructs. Abigail got between Nicodemus and the stone golem, and that mistake nearly cost Abigail her life, as Nicodemus tumbled into flanking with his golem and they both hacked and pummeled the enraged paladin within a few HP of her life (Nicodemus was a high-level rogue, so if he had flanking he could really put on the hurt). Finally, the Hezrou went down and things started looking up for the party. The stone golem went down a round or so after that.

The Bleeding Eye orcs at this point decided it was time to leave, and just walked out of the place without joining the fight for either side. Everyone was too busy not to simply let them go, and probably a little relieved that they didn’t have yet *another* group of bad guys to fight (I was waiting for someone to slip up and “accidentally” hit them with an AoE, which would have been a “that’s it!” moment for them). But the party wisely decided not to bite off even more to chew at this point, and so wisely left them alone. Victae also wisely decided that this wasn’t a fight he was going to be able to turn into a win, and so negotiated an armistice with the party, allowing himself and his two Invisible Stalkers (only one of which was badly damaged at this point) to leave peacefully (the party would come to deeply regret letting Victae live later on).

Zayana got Oliver’s cutlass buried in her chest, and out of cute tricks like sharing the damage with Trinia or having Stoneskin up to block the damage, finally died. That just left Nicodemus alive, as the Grey Render was back to just sulking in its cage, no longer trying to escape (after someone, I think Cid, fried it with a Fireball at one point, just to make sure it knew to stay in its cage if it didn’t want to die). Nicodemus threw up his hands and surrendered at this point, trusting Abigail’s honor as a paladin who keep him safe.

He couldn’t be more wrong, as the enraged paladin threw him to the stage and stabbed him in the shoulder, before screaming in his face about what he had done with her sister, Lucinda. Nico thought a few moments, and then smirked and said he couldn’t quite remember, earning himself another stab wound. *That* jogged his memory a bit, although he couldn’t help himself from sneering as he explained that he had sold that Lucinda brat to an interested buyer in Nidal. She probably was worm food by now, or a human skin pelt on some Zon-Kuthite’s wall by now. With a howl of fury Abigail prepared to deliver a death blow (more accurately a series of smite evil empowered stabs, with the holiness rapidly draining from her blade as Sarenrae temporarily took away her paladin powers to put her in time out for all of this not-paladin-like behavior), only to be stopped by Cid. Cid was deeply concerned by this sudden shift in Abigail’s personality (driven by her clearly not-healed anger over what happened to Lucinda, and Nicodemus managing to escape with just exile from Kaer Maga, only to come back now), and he pressed for a different solution – Pyre was a member of the city council, and Nico had broken the one rule of slavers by kidnapping Trinia to put her up for auction. So, hand Nicodemus over to Pyre N’ Slag, and let them deal with their former, disgraced business partner. Nicodemus *really* didn’t like that idea, preferring death, but it was too late, as Abigail managed to pull herself together enough to realize that Cid was right, and handing Nico over would be a worse fate for him (and indeed it was as pyre N’ Slag turned him into one of their juju zombie dolls after slowly torturing him to death in the privacy of their own sanctum).

With all of the enemies dealt with, and Abigail kept from doing something stupid in a fit of anger (and temporarily losing her paladin powers), it was now time for everyone’s favorite part of D&D – the looting! They got some decent magic items off of Nicodemus and Zayana’s body, although most of it ended up being sold for gold, as the fate of most low-level magic items eventually becomes. The only thing left was to explore the side rooms off of the auction hall stage, and as Vaz’em and Trinia (since she had already been back there) went through the side door to the back, we ended the night’s session. But the party wasn’t completely out of danger just yet, as even being on another plane of existence didn’t keep Rholand safe from the monstrosities now pursuing him . . .

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks, this cast of characters really helps.

Keep the good stories coming ...

Summary of parties: Thanks for the update!

Session One Hundred Six:
"Rholand using his Corrosive Touch to high effectiveness as it does a *lot* of damage to constructs.":

Corrosive Touch allows Spell Resistance.

Stone Golems (you have to scroll down to get to the actual Stone Golem entry) are immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows Spell Resistance, and Corrosive Touch isn't one of the spells that a Stone Golem gets a special effect from, and I can't find an effect in the Nature Oracle Mystery that would bypass this.

Sorry, of course there would be a spell called "Corrosive Touch". It's called Erosion Touch, and it's an Oracle of Nature supernatural ability (and thus not affected by spell resistance as spell resistance only affects spells and spell-like abilities, not supernatural abilities). Golems have spell immunity, which functions like unbeatable spell resistance, and thus doesn't affect supernatural abilities.

It's basically designed to be a golem/construct destroyer, so I'm fine with it as it gives Rholand something to do to them besides pout since his melee damage is good not but great (most of thus get eaten by golem's DR), and obviously spells = no good.

Sorry for the confusion!

^I see what you mean. I should have figured that out, although the limited uses per day (4 for Roland, although in 1 more level it will be 5) really hurts.

Campaign still on?

We are on break currently, but plan to restart in April. Until then I am hurriedly trying to put together the entirety of Scarwall so that it's a ready playground for them to do whatever in. Sadly, getting that ready is taking an ENORMOUS amount of my free time, so the journal has been put on the backburner for now. But it will return - once I ever have free time again!

^I know what you mean -- work has been kicking me hard . . . .

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey Inspectre, just wanted to thank you for all your hard work on maintaining this thread. It was really influential for my own CotCT campaign - I found it somewhere near the end of my Book 1 while I was searching for ways to mix things up with Ileosa, and it bridged a couple gaps I was having trouble with! I thought I'd come and share how things were going with mine, too. We're about halfway through Scarwall and booking it to the conclusion, since we're playing on an Actual Tabletop and I'm moving in three and a half months.

My CothCT:
Quick run-down of my PCs:
Nika, part of a Sczarni crime family, Human War Oracle/Brawler
Indigo, murder orphan and 15yo alcoholic, Gnome Unchained Rogue, took Majenko as a cohort via Leadership; they're flanking buddies
Jennara, of the Korvosan Guard, Human Polearm Master Fighter
Ulafiel Susperio, sister of mad Jolistina, Elf Wizard
Imperia, Divine Hunter Paladin of Abadar, replacement for an alchemist PC that Andaisin killed

My Book One was pretty standard (and for the most part I've tried to stay close to book events and utilize assets as-written), but by the end of it I knew I wanted to mix things up. My players were getting suspicious of Ileosa because of her treatment of Trinia and her behavior at the 'execution', and I wanted to at least *complicate* that a little.

So I stole bits of your Andaisin. She was an older, matriarchal figure to Ileosa, who, like yours, was a groomed street-rat meant to help Andaisin gain political power. But Andaisin was also a cleric of Calistria in my game, and a cleric who, in her youth, had been subjected to an ill-defined tragedy (it never came up with my players, so I kind of forgot?) for which she blamed all of Korvosa, and her actions in the book were all part of a long-con revenge plot to get Korvosa to drive itself to destruction - and get some big ol' ritualistic power built up too. Ileosa wasn't a part of those plots at all, and though she found the crown (Domina's old crown, also stolen), she was resisting it in favor of trying to settle things in the city down herself.

The big place where my plots diverged was when Ileosa invited the party to a planning brunch with a bunch of noble families and publicly lauded them as better citizens of Korvosa than anybody else present, which pissed off the nobles and brought a lot of uncomfortable attention onto the PCs. But Ileosa spoke with them privately afterward, promising them whatever support the crown could muster, and then wound up *flirting* with Nika. the end of the chapter they were deeply romantically entangled, and I was mentally cheering, because that player had just raised the stakes for the entire g$+&#%n story, and man has that decision radiated through the rest of the campaign.

In that chapter they also decided to capture Girrigz, the wererat firebrand, and talk to him while he was bound in an abandoned warehouse until they convinced him they could talk to Ileosa and realize a brighter future for wererats in Korvosa. I also had Rolth lure them into an ambush full of nasty undead in the Shingles that was a ton of fun - I really wanted them to hate that dude, and Ulafiel already hated his guts. And that was BEFORE she chased her sister through a house full of zombies that Rolth had ordered her to create, having a screaming argument/spell-fight that ended with Jolistina locked up in Deathshead Vault.

And then they found the proof on the Direption that pointed to Andaisin, and the entire party froze and turned to Nika, who was already halfway in love with the Queen. She convinced the rest of the party that she should go in alone and confront Ileosa over the information while everybody else (except Majenko) went to report that information to Cressida. I started rubbing my hands in unrestrained glee. Of course, Ileosa was as surprised as anybody, and had Sabina bring in Andaisin to argue things out. And that sparked off one of the best scenes in our campaign so far.

Furious that Ileosa had found her out, Andaisin used Hold Person on Nika, who failed her save(!), and Nika was paralyzed while she watched Andaisin strangle Ileosa to death. The entire table was dead silent as Andaisin walked to the window and tried to calm herself down after, uh, regiciding the fate of Korvosa, and Nika, still paralyzed, watched Ileosa regenerate thanks to the crown, sneak up, and push Andaisin out the window. Of course, Andaisin laughed and Air Walked away, but now she had a lot less to lose - and she was gunning for Ileosa. Nika and Ileosa also consummated their relationship! It was a great scene.

Cue the party's assault on the Temple of Urgathoa. They had done swimmingly, but decided to stop after clearing out the room with the Blood Vats (but not breaking the vats!) and SLEEP IN THE TEMPLE BARRACKS. I triple-checked with them, voice dripping with DM menace. The ambush was their own fault. Half the party tried to run, half the party tried to fight... it was bloody chaos! Most of the party made it to the elevator, but I had Andaisin coup de grace the alchemist (to be resurrected as a Juju Zombie) and knock out Nika (to use her as a bargaining chip, since Andaisin knew exactly how Ileosa felt about her).

My party now has a phobia about sleeping in the dungeon, and they do everything they can to remove themselves to a safe place before resting. Nika learned the Nap Stack spell because of this experience.

Andaisin contacted Ileosa immediately. If the Guard retreated from Bridgepoint, then Andaisin would arrange an exchange for Nika - but Ileosa had to be present at the exchange. The party, Cressida Kroft, Sabina Merrin, and Grau Soldado would act as the personal guard for the exchange. Blackjack was there too, of course, and revealed himself at a wonderful moment, causing Indigo to nearly pass out from excitement. They found Nika, wounded but stabilized, but then a big illusion appeared in the sky that appeared to be publicizing the exchange - with some fictitious elements that indicated Ileosa was selling out the city for her squeeze. It also indicated, with a big glowing arrow, right where she was. And so the party got to execute a fighting retreat and protect Ileosa while leukodaemons attacked them from on high and angry mobs of Korvosans tried to hunt them down, and the Hospice filled with angry blood-veil plague zombies, since they had had JUST enough time to finish its evolution. My players had no questions re: Old Korvosa's quarantine in the next chapter.

Now, Cressida was concerned about the Queen's decision making after Chapter Two, and so gave Ulafiel a wand of Sending to give her private updates on the situation, since she felt she couldn't trust Nika to tell her the truth. Thus began like two chapters of hilarious spy-versus-spy nonsense as my players leaned into their character's suspicions and motivations.

During Chapter Three I worked in the House on Hook Street module, which my players loved, but completely replaced the villain with Gaedren, who was partially immortal thanks to the blessing of the spider idol in that adventure. My Lamm had a lot more occult connections than it seemed, and my players hadn't really disposed of Gaedren's body, so I was well within my rights to give him a rebirth as Old Korvosa's dream-realm boogeyman. Salvator Scream had been abducted and sucked into the dream-house with Gaedren and his loyal cultists, which allowed for both an extended time with Laori (with whom Ulafiel up and fell in love with, so now we have a great redemption arc going on there) and an awesome rematch with Gaedren the nightmare occultist, his terrified son, Rolth, and a couple of demons. Nika also got a fun visit to Ileosa's Kazavon-infused dreamscape and watched her get tortured by the old warlord, which clued her into the fact that things were not healthy there.

My party loved the Arkona dungeon, and I managed to separate them into three different groups, but thanks to the Paladin Archer nothing really stood a chance in there. After Neolandus shared that he believed that Ileosa was responsible for the King's murder, she nearly killed him then and there - Ulafiel tried to grab her and Dimension Door her to Cressida's office, but Nika made her save, so instead Cressida showed up with Ulafiel seconds later and Majenko had to talk Nika down telepathically. The party is still operating under the assumption that Andaisin is responsible for regicide (which is correct), but Vencarlo and Neolandus aren't so sure. Ulafiel does a little "bad of feed/chicken/fox" puzzle with Dimension Doors to ensure that Nika isn't ever alone or relatively alone with Neolandus, while also transporting everybody to the forest outside Korvosa. Glorio Arkona is still scrying on them using his third eye this entire time, and now has a TON of useful information, and they're not at all certain that he's a Rakshasa since he really nailed them with his detect thoughts and Bluff checks early on. At this point, he does Send to one of them to thank them for taking care of his sister, but...

He also immediately goes to Ileosa to let her know that Nika betrayed her, and that the party has left the city and is working against her interests. Ileosa doesn't COMPLETELY buy it, but she does send a nasty little sending to Nika, and Nika responds with a warning about Glorio. All through Chapter 4 they have been Sending little warning messages to each other, but Ileosa has pretty much decided that she's going to have to deal with this Kazavon thing herself.

I'm relocating the Everdawn Pool to the chambers beneath Castle Korvosa in my game, because I don't want the sudden relocation in my third act, but I DO want hordes of vampires in my third act. It also provides a great reason for why my Ileosa would sign a contract with devils - she needs the strength to get down to the Pool, can't do it herself, and so hires a couple of tough devils to help her do it. Plus, she plans on using the pool's power to destroy herself to ensure Kazavon's fangs get destroyed as well (it can grant eternal life, so it can rob eternal life too, right?), so she won't have to actually see through some of the points of that contract. As she descends into the catacombs, she instructs Glorio to manage things in her absence. Which he does... as Ileosa. He is a Rakshasa, after all, and suspects that no matter what happens down there, he may (for a short or long period of time) have just inherited rulership of Korvosa. That'll be a fun reveal for my players.

Meanwhile, I've been playing the rest of Chapters 4 and 5 pretty straight, albeit with lovingly-illustrated maps and wonderful inter-party moments of bonding. Having one character absolutely dedicated to Ileosa, and the rest committed to removing her from Kazavon's influence by any means possible, has definitely changed the tenor of all of it, though. Kazavon has definitely become my campaign's ultimate villain.

^Cool plot twists -- be sure to let us know of the conclusion. Also, might want to find a way to finish up the campaign by e-mail or something so that you don't have to rush things.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

We're trying to be efficient, but we have plans to move over to Roll20 and play War for the Crown after anyway, so if we don't fit everything in before the end of June we'll just finish up online.

Just had another Scarwall session today...

Scarwall stuff:
They wandered directly into a fight with Mithrodar during their first foray, ran away as he reformed, and then spoke with Glimkarus, who I am treating as a friendly NPC and shop within Scarwall (that will also feast upon them if they lose some of their numbers), and I've started hitting them with increasing Will saves whenever they try to leave the castle to avoid getting struck with the curse and finding themselves unable to leave. So far, Laori, Ulafiel, Majenko, and Sial's eidolon have started bedding down in the castle, which means teleportation out of the castle has to be done with items, or not at all. The rest are still heading over to the barbican to get a quick nap stack in, but that might stop being feasible soon, especially since they spared an orc from the Deadwatchers. So far they've been lucky on random encounter rolls before regrouping, too.

At the beginning of the session they went and traded with Glimkarus, who was happy to trade in nightmares and regrets for store credit. He had a few wands, two dozen random potions, and three major magic items that would require some big mental sacrifices or lots of coinage to obtain. Jennara surprised me by offering up her regret over her year of training to be a paladin of Sarenrae, which took the form of a loss of all seven skill ranks she had split between Diplomacy and Sense Motive, but for that I gave her 17500gp worth of store credit. Glim got all excited, and she bought herself a fancy new shock lucerne hammer. I'm also allowing them to trade in any dreams they have in Scarwall before the curse is lifted, but at the cost of those dreams later crystalizing and giving them symbolic visions or something like that.

Then they gathered up Malatrothe, who they promised to bring along for the first spirit anchor fight, and they headed up to take on Nihil. I inflated the fight a bit (since there were ten acting units in the party!) by giving Nihil max hp and fudging a few of the summon rolls, and so ensured that they walked into a fight with four barbed devils and three bone devils.

Nika always has true seeing on these days, had overland flight cast on her, knows invisibility purge, and went third in the initiative. So she flew up into melee with Nihil and purged the entire room, which was a big swing in favor of the PCs. But they crowded into the middle of the tower (except for Nika, who was flying at the top, and Indigo, who haste-spider-climbed up the tower and leapt ONTO Nihil), and then I separated the top and bottom of the tower with a horizontal double-layer Wall of Ice and flew a Bone Devil down to flank Ulafiel and Sial in the doorway. I also managed to grapple Imperia, Jennara, and Laori with barbed devils, and Imperia had another barbed devil ripping into her - it was an awful situation down below.

Up above, Nihil and the bone devils whiffed a bunch, which allowed Indigo to get a hasted full attack (with two crits) against Nihil, dealing around 190 damage to her, and putting her in lethal range of Nika's follow-up two hits and a crit. Nihil fell through the walls of ice, but I still had enough time for those barbed devils to kill Imperia with a 50 damage critical hit. The party watched as her soul was getting ripped into Scarwall, but she made her save and Nika flew down as soon as she could with a Breath of Life to get her back in the game.

After that it was just clean-up, but we all felt good after that fight. It was the first time in Scarwall that the party felt really threatened (another three party members were one hit away from dropping), and I felt like my monster tactics had been on-point. We also learned that barbed devils are jerks.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ah, it has been too long, far too long since I have injected my unique brand of madness into this thread like a spider hunter wasp does to its prey. Fortunately I see we’ve had a new DM making use of my ideas! Welcome OatsMalorne! I’m not sure when you’ll see this, but I would love to hear more about how your campaign ended! I imagine it’s winding down to its final thrilling conclusion by now! Interestingly, Cid’s player actually found your old blog where you described your Book One sessions, and we were both eagerly awaiting for more! Thus, it was very pleasing to see you post an update here about how Book Two developed through Book Five, which is where we are just starting to dig into (sorry I wasn’t able to provide some ideas to crib for Book Five & Six, but we’re still not there yet and my players are watching this thread now too!)

Session One Hundred Seven:

So with Nicodemus and friends defeated and Trinia safe once more, the party decided to check out the rest of his demiplane – for MOAR LOOT! Vaz’em and Trinia were in the lead, heading into the side room off the stage, where they found loot of a sort. The north wall of the side room was lined with cages, which contained some more slaves and beasts that Nicodemus was planning on selling off, including a cockatrice, a sick looking she-elf named Maple, and a gnome alchemist named Gideon (this was a future cohort that Vaz’em was planning on taking at something like level 15, so I figured I’d introduce him now and provide a reason for him to want to hang out with the party).

There were also a quartet of hobgoblin guards seated at a table back here, playing cards (apparently they couldn’t be arsed to go out and try to help their boss once the fighting started – smart hobgoblins since obviously that would have just gotten them slaughtered). The hobgoblins pretty much surrendered immediately, Trinia glared at them while sweeping the coins that they had been gambling off the table into a sack, and Vaz’em went to work on the cage doors. Being simple cages built on the cheap, Vaz’em is able to easily spring the lock on Gideon’s and Maple’s cages – the party wisely decided to leave the cockatrice locked up (despite promises that its feathers could be used as a petrification cure). Gideon thanked the party for their assistance, while Maple simply continued lying inside her cage, breathing shallowly.

Maple’s poor condition got Rholand’s attention, and while the healer went inside the cage to examine her Vaz’em and Trinia moved on to the next phase of the looting process by moving on to the next room that was apparently Nicodemus’s treasurey/storage room. Vaz’em finds a large treasure chest, picks open the lock, and opens the lid to discover a shining pile of 10,000 gold coins.

It’s around this time that Rholand’s chest suddenly starts to burn with a by-now familiar sharp stabbing pain. A shimmering portal of darkness rips open in mid-air a short distance from Rholand, and a massive armored giant with glowing red eyes and clad in full plate mail with a shield and sword strides out of the portal.


The monstrosity roars – the Third Claimant, a Sepid Div, has found his prey. Rholand makes the Planes check to identify the creature as a Div, a cruel outsider that feeds on souls and particularly enjoys slaughtering good-aligned heroes. A perfect hunter for Togomor to sic on Rholand, naturally.

As with previous Claimants, the party has no desire to slug it out with this terror, and starts rapidly exiting stage left. Rholand or someone (Cid?) helps support Maple’s weight and carrying her out, while Vaz’em and Trinia peer out, see that this thing isn’t here for them, shrug, and go back to shoveling as many gold coins into their sacks as they possibly can for a round or two before turning invisible and also fleeing for their lives. The div’s advance is momentarily stopped as a shimmering wall of force snaps into existence to bar its path, Sial smirking in the background.

Unfortunately for Sial, like the last T-1000 rip-off, the Sepid Div had a workaround for a Wall of Force, although much more impressive to behold. To wit, he cast Disintegrate to instantly destroy the Wall of Force as mandated in the Wall of Force’s spell description as to what happens when you blast a Wall of Force with Disintegrate. But at least the Div didn’t get to use that spell-like on Rholand? Nonetheless, that does give the group enough time to flee, Vaz’em and Trinia leaving a trail of gold coins behind them (they only got about 2,500 GP of the available 10,000 GP due to some low rolls with grabbing coins for a round or two). Once everyone was through the doors leading back on the stage, Sial used Arcane Recall to regain his Wall of Force and dropped another one in the doorway, again barring the Sepid Div’s path.

Unfortunately for the malevolent outsider, Disintegrate was a once-per-day spell-like for it, and so it could only roar in impotent fury as the party fled the Edge of Hell Marketplace with Gideon, Maple, Trinia, and the Starweavers. And at some point in all this, the Div vented its fury by using its eruption-like power to summon a column of debris flying in all directions that tore the four hobgoblin guards into little bity pieces. So all of Nicodemus’s operation was completely destroyed, from the boss himself all the way down to the lowliest hired guard (although Victae Corbaru managed to escape, having secured a peace treaty with the party).

The rest of the session is mostly just clean-up work from here. Gideon says his good-byes to the party before going off to who knows where (due to return at some point if Vaz’em takes Leadership). The party discovers that Maple is a dryad, kidnapped from her forest not too far away from the Druid’s Grove they passed through. They managed to get her sent off somehow back to her grove after Rholand patches her up a bit from all of her lost Con due to being too far away from her tree (she wouldn’t have lasted long past Nicodemus selling her, making it a very Caveat Emptor sale).

Cid has a “what the hell?” conversation with Abigail about flying off the handle over Nicodemus, although now that he’s dealt with she’s much calmer about the situation, and thanks Cid for stopping her from doing something rash – Cid also promises to help her find her sister one day, after this whole Korvosa mess is all over. It’s around this point that he also mentions his latest death vision to Abigail, bringing up the mysterious Eurydice who spared him from Hell (technically Belzagra), and told him to go find the Ascendant Spire. Abigail didn’t know where the Ascendant Spire was, but figured the Great Library in Kaer Maga might have more information for him (Rholand & Cid would have several days ahead of them bonding in the library once Sial got them access). She also pulled out a holy book of Sarenrae, showing Cid a picture of the mysterious hunched over masked figure of Eurydice (an artist’s rendition), which identified her as Eurydice the Leper, a servant of Sarenrae who occasionally appeared to those in need of mercy and redemption to help them find their way again.

Sial and Laori remind the party that they will be having a Council of War meeting with Parashial the next day to discuss Korvosa’s problems, and basically how screwed they all are, before they both saunter off. Sial also promises to keep working on researching Rholand’s new problem, since it was clear that these things were not going to stop coming until Rholand was dead and his soul was devoured (or imprisoned for all eternity in some sort of hellscape which was almost as bad, really). Sial also has a bit of a spat with the group over bidding on Trinia, which he rolls his eyes over and explains that he was trying to avoid a fight by simply winning the auction – the party didn’t really buy it, and so yet another attempt by Sial at being a friend to the party gets thrown back in his face.

Trinia thanks everyone for her rescue, assuring them that she was alright – Nicodemus was very determined that the “merchandise” not be damaged or spoiled until after her sale, so nothing untoward happened fortunately. Nonetheless, she was very happy to be rescued before the auction was over and all bets were off! She also announced that she was heartily sick of being the damsel in distress and was going to do something about it. She also forgave Cyrus for letting her get kidnapped since it was clearly a targeted effort to distract the party by Togomor (through Madame Zayana) and not just a random kidnapping.

The last business of the night was Rholand meeting back up with his “gift” from Pyre, the doll cleric Belinda. She was still uncertain how Pharasma felt about her now that she was one of the undead, but despite her fear was still certain that she didn’t want to continue existing in this way. And so, after a bit more deliberation with her to confirm that she actually wanted this, Rholand killed her. Hacked her zombie body apart with his flaming bec de corbin and burned the pieces to ash. And after this cold-blooded mercy killing, he wandered off repeating to himself that he was still a good man. And the little fragment of Kazavon that was still in Rholand’s brain despite Cid severing the connection between it and the rest of Kazavon’s spirit back in Harse smiled, because it knew better. And it grew stronger in the dark depths of Rholand’s mind, waiting for the day when it could color Rholand’s perceptions further.

301 to 350 of 372 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Curse of the Crimson Throne / Inspectre's Curse of the Crimson Throne Alterations (Spoilers!) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.