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I am currently running a Iron Gods campaign for a group of friends and have set this up for their journals and my GM notes for other GMs to read for information and ideas.
When I started up the campaign, I initially didn't give the players any information as to what the campaign was going to be or where. I only asked them to answer one long question. Do you want your characters to be from the town the campaign will begin in, the country the campaign is set in, or from outside the country? I told them not to think about races or classes and instead think of a background ideal. Where is your character's investment in the campaign?
The next week we all got together and I explained that we would build the characters in one setting. Otherwise they have a tendency to waffle around and when the game officially starts everyone is something other than what they had started as.
In order to help curb the power creep that I have noticed in the latter part of campaigns, where the term 'rocket tag' begins to take effect, I put limitations on character building. I have a group of six players which already sets the party number to two higher than the campaign is designed for. (Personally I would love to see Paizo start including CR upgrades in their campaigns for larger party sizes. I think that would be a HUGE boon for any GM and a nice feather in the cap for Paizo's customer service.)
The first thing was character maximums and minimums. We went with a 20-point build. The only stipulation I put on this was that AFTER character racials were applied, the maximum a stat could be was 18 and the minimum a stat could be was 8. The other change that was made will not come into play until level 8 and beyond. I am giving a flat stat maximum of 20 to any stat. (I am not worried about the Aging rules, as they aren't going to come up.) This forces the players to put points in those 'dump stats' or at least bring up their shortfalls. I tried to enforce the idea that the players shouldn't be looking at building a character to solve a puzzle, but instead build a character that will interact within a story.
All to often at character creation people will build, me included, a character that is the best at what they can do. Every trait, feat, stat and to some extent skill, is created to make that character the best at what they do. I feel that this detracts from the other characters in some way and limits character growth. Characters in stories don't develop along an idea of what they want to be, but are shaped around the story as well. In the case of Iron Gods, the Technologist feat and introduction of technology as a whole should vastly change a characters growth.
So I asked the players to keep this in mind during character creation. Whether they actually did this is entirely up to them, but one-trick ponies get boring real quick for the player and I want them to be invested in the game so that everyone, including me, has a great time.
The other thing I did was create my own Players Guide. Using my design tools as a graphic designer I was able to cut/paste a lot of the information that I wanted the players to know about Numeria as a whole. So a general timeline was included, monthly temperature averages, etc. I included a lot of my own write-ups as well. I also set a few limits on the actual Campaign Traits.
All the characters that were from Torch and Numeria were able to pick any of the campaign traits. Those that were from outside Numeria were only allowed to pick Against the Technic League and Stargazer. This gave the characters outside Numeria specific traits that would lure them to Numeria for some reason. Hopefully as the players include their player info and stories you will see those individual choices.
The campaign started for me with all those not from Torch starting in Hajoth Hakados and joining a caravan of smiths and merchants traveling north to Torch. Its on that journey of six days that the players find 'kindred spirits' of a sort and become quick friends. They actually arrived in Torch four days before the torch goes out. When using the timeline provided in Fires of Creation that gives the characters ten days to become acquainted with the players from Torch.
Right now I am going to give every creature the Advanced Template with maximum hit points and not increase their numbers. (My Rise of the Runelords campaign with nine players was nuts enough with advanced everything and increased numbers, larger maps to accomodate everything...ugh.)
The player list is currently a dwarven cleric of Brigh, a human gunslinger, and elven unchained rogue, a human swashbuckler(/soon to be investigator), a variant multiclassing Bard with clerical tendencies, and a human two-hand fighter archetype.
I am giving all players a boon if they write their stories here like I did with my Rise of the Runelords campaign. A free d20 reroll that they can use for themselves, another player or to make me reroll a d20.
Hopefully other GMs will enjoy the read, and Pathfinder lovers will enjoy the stories. I encourage anyone to post within the thread to ask questions to me or the players. I ask that we keep the spoilers of future events limited to PMs. Thanks and enjoy! o/
Our party is an Android Fighter, elven rogue (Numerian scavenger archetype) Dwarven Oracle and Android Diviner (no not the kind that finds water, it's a running joke in our campaign:-D)
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I should note that I was also not allowing certain races, android specifically. (Which surprised some of the players as they didn't know the race existed.) I will allow for the android race to be played in the game should a character die and are more experienced with the setting. Hopefully this won't need to happen but dice are dice.
Stupid Captain Yesterday!
I have kids in the party, so it was pretty much a requirement, also for the rogue think Tankgirl for inspiration :-)
I'll stop stepping into it now:-D
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I rather enjoyed your first campaign and look forward to seeing this one. :) And I hope your group is as varied and imaginative as the Runelords group (no doubt you have some of the same players involved). Especially as I kind of doubt I'll ever run this, seeing one gaming group hasn't met in seven months and the other will likely take another year to get through the combined Runelords and sidetreks into WotR (I'm using Midnight Isles to learn the location of the Runeforge, and may have the characters post-Karzoug have to deal with Book 6 of WotR if they feel like it).
Undoubtedly after this, we'll do Hell's Rebels, seeing one player likes staying in one area and building up things. He might not be able to do this right off, but over time I suspect HR will be more to his liking than bouncing around various locales which IG and other such APs would require.
Good luck! :) And I look forward to seeing player reports! :)
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Only one player is a carry over from the Tuesday group. This is another group of friends. They are all young and full of hope, soon to be squashed. /snicker Which is funny because I am one of the youngest of the 10 man group on Tuesdays. Of course they are only about ten years younger than me but I have to lord something over them. :)
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Greetings all, I am playing Tyriis Kryst, one unchained rogue in Useplanb’s campaign. My elven scoundrel is male, 6’1”, traditional long blonde hair and blue eyes. His studded leather and two short swords are not of the finest quality that can be found, but they are in good condition and are well cared for. He is more of the dungeon delving trap finding sort of rogue that enjoys exploring and finding things others haven’t seen in ages and less of the criminal/thug sort of rogue. However, as one that really enjoys his drink and prays to Cayden as often as he can find a bar to do it in, he isn’t above underhanded choices and tactics when needed.
His back story is that he comes from a long family of elves that in ancient years (when the River Kingdoms were still the Telvurin hunting grounds) were Guardians and Keepers of the vast hunting grounds south of what is now Numeria. When Star Fall happened, several families of Elves were sent north to document the destruction and to render aid and assistance as they may. Some of the families were given the additional mission to act as spies and gatherers with the priority goal of accumulating anything of interest that may expand the power of the Elves. Over the years and with the passing generations, almost all of the Elves have forgotten their history and have settled into their harsh new home. The father of Tyriis has not forgotten his history as the mission was passed to him from his father. The problem is that Tyriis is really too much of a random variable to be trusted with this sort of information. So while his father won’t tell him about the family secret, he is not afraid to send Tyriis off to do things that advance those goals without Tyriis being any wiser.
Generally Tyriis follows his own codes and loyalties, but seeks to not be harmful to those that don't deserve it. He often has a coin running about his fingers or some other such toy that keeps his fingers moving. He has is quick to laugh and gamble and enjoys all forms of games of chance, whether he is any good at them or not!
It is with glad tidings that I send this first missive back to you and Mother reporting my progress. Please extend my warmest regards to Mother and assure her that I am following her words of advice to the letter.
While I confess that I still do not completely grasp your intentions for me by requesting my presence on this caravan guard, however I certainly have learned to trust in your wisdom. I have not heard of any of the other youth at the Academy participating in a “coming of age” experience, but of course if you insist then it is my pleasure to follow your will.
At our parting you indicated it would serve me well to keep you informed of the companions that I meet for the duration of this journey. I find that to be an interesting request as it is highly unlikely that any of the souls I encounter will ever find their paths intersecting with your own, but perhaps I will divine your reasons in time. I have endeavored to catalog and document every detail of any significance and will include them in my reports as I have time and as my duties allow.
Thus far our journey has taken us from home to Torch, I served as a scout for the guard company that was hired to escort a caravan of merchants, tradesmen, and smiths seeking to take their turn at the great purple flame. While there were a large number of hirelings and sell-swords in the employ of the caravan, several of the individuals that I encountered seemed to really stand out as interesting and full of potential. During the six day march these other five adventurers and I quickly bonded over surprisingly delicate dinners and fine brews. Many stories were shared and lies told, but the six of us seemed to get along well.
The roster of my travelling companions includes: a bushy-haired and almost constantly scowling dwarven cleric of Brigh, an impeccably polite and quietly reserved gentleman that seems to fancy firearms, a well-dressed individual that seems to share many of my own skillsets, a skilled bard that appears to be far more devout than many I have encountered before, and finally a very large human that although he speaks very slowly and with great deliberation carries a very large blade that he seems to be ready and apple to apply to dangerous situations.
That is all for now, other than I wish to sincerely thank you for that lesson on the reverse hand feint that you taught me last summer. This very eve I was able to employ that maneuver to separate the head of a crazed robot from its metal body before it managed to send one of my companions on to their next life! I will write again soon, I promise!
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Name's Grym, chief custodian and bottle washer in the service of her ladyship Brigh here in Torch. Don't get me wrong, I'm right where I want to be in the workings of the machine, but it's not all rainbows and unicorn farts down here in the cheap seats.
I work for Joram, head cleric around here. He's a great teacher and does a good job keeping us in line. He even managed to guide me into Her light, that says a lot for his patience. I've also been gifted with the guidance of Khonnir Baine, who runs the Foundry. I'm not much use on the arcane side, but have picked up loads of knowledge of technology. I even get along pretty well with Val most days, though there has been some head-butting; we both have such sweet tempers.
Know a few folks that help deal with the long days. One of the locals is a singer with close ties to Desna(or was it Callistra?), guess he's keeping his options open. There's a few guys who came in with the caravans; a fairy with shortswords, a swish with a letter opener, sour-faced guy with a pistol, and a meatwall lugging a greatsword. An odd bunch, but that's what you get in a small burgh like this.
Things have been real slow since the Flame went out; business falling off, people worrying. Khonnir led some folk through an underwater tunnel that was found to lead under the hill. They brought out a broken automaton and some strange stories,but weren't able to find the problem. They went back in a couple days ago, and have yet to return.
We were sitting at the Copper, spinning our gears and soaking up the brew, listening to the loose talk. One of the guards let on that the council was offering money for a rescue run under the hill. I'd been toying with the idea, but this might be some help to get me there. We headed to the Town Hall to ask around, and actually talked with Dolga. Seems the council is serious about this, and they want Khonnir back in one piece(probably the others, too). When we agreed to go, she even gave us vouchers to get gear at a discount.
We left the Hall, most to their lodgings to retrieve belongings, headed to the Foundry, where we'd be based. I went to the Temple, to let Joram know we'd accepted the job and how many there would be for his spell. He told me of what he knew of Khonnir's trip, and what we might find. It was like sitting at the grown-up table, really being listened to. Could get used to this.
Took my personal stuff and headed for the Foundry, needed to see how Val is doing and prepare for the run. Arrived to find that I had missed everything. The automaton was less broken than thought, and had tried to leave the workspace. Apparently, no one had taught it about doors, so it tried to make it's own. When the first three showed up and tried to slow it down, it tried to make doors in them. A close fight; the git finished it off after the bard brought the shooter back from the light. All I contributed was some clean up.
Got Val settled down and put our stuff in the main room. Need to visit the store and market and prepare for the descent. This will have to wait for the morning, have used most of Her blessings fixing folk. Finally get to put all this book learning to practical use. Save a friend, find lost wonders, restore the Flame, and be famous. This is what I signed on for!
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I am playing Raimden, a human swashbuckler. He is a young man in his early 20s, oilve skinned and dark haired. He has a charismatic smile he shares with any that would give him a minute. He is always talking, assuming everyone around him is a friend ready to share a drink or a story. Though he dresses well his clothing and hair is always unkempt. On his waist he carries a rapier in it's sheath, and a second matching but empty sheath. Though he often acts dense or uninterested Raimden is intelligent and perceptive.
“They were just starting to warm up to me too,” it was Raimden’s turn to frown. “It’s hard enough to get used to this city without you running of any girl that takes a minute to listen to me. We don’t all have tales of our heroic thieving for the Pathfinder Society.” “I know you think it was a time of thrilling heroics but there were just as many times where we were in the middle of a s$++ty desert not sure if we would ever see another drop of water. I lost plenty of friends and I’m lucky that I lived to retire.” Ohra was a short women by most standards, but her presence filled any room she was in. Even here in the crowded market stalls of Katapesh her voice carried to every customer and her smile sealed the deal. The wares she sold at her stall were exotic trinkets from all across the Inner Sea, but she was as approachable as someone you’ve known for years. Raimden carried the same smile but it never felt as genuine as his mother’s.
“Is that why we had to leave Absalom? Because you didn’t want to be reminded of the friends you lost? Or did you just get bored again?” Raimden kept his tone polite but an edge was starting to creep in. “There were many reasons to leave Absalom, but mainly I wanted us to have a fresh start. For so many years you thought I was just a merchant leaving on business when really the Society needed me, now that you know what was happening I wanted for us to spend some time together, make up for the time we’ve lost,” Ohra turned to her son, holding out her arms in an attempt to start making amends. “You could have just left me there, I would have been just fine staying and you didn’t seem to ever have a problem leaving me before,” Raimden threw a stack of silken blackest over his mother’s outstretched arms. The dip in Ohra’s smile was barely perceptible, but he had made the cut and tried to push away the guilt that swelled in.
She had know that trying to rebuild the bond lost between her and her son would be difficult. For years they had lived in Absalom and she had secretly worked for the Pathfinder Society. Every time she would leave the city under the pretense of working as a merchant, she would leave him with this friend or that. It didn’t come as a surprise to any that he would clash with authority and the law repeatedly. Despite that none could say the boy wasn’t smart or cunning, just made it that much sadder for all involved. After a particularly dangerous mission Ohra decided to retire from the society and tell Raimden what had been happening. He was outraged at what he saw as a betrayal of trust and a clear sign that she thought him nothing more than an inconvenience. In the months since then she had moved them to Katapesh and opened a small store selling the exotic trinkets and prizes she had collected over the years. Things were difficult but slowly they were drawing together. Raimden listened to his mother’s tales of her time in the Society and would tell them to the merchants and customers, passing his mother’s achievement’s for his own. She didn’t mind, having found something that was finally brining them together. She thought that she had finally found a way to bring them back together, but fate rarely lets us have our way.
Raimden’s morning had already started of badly. Though he assured the girl’s father that her virtue was still intact he found that the man was still not fond of the stranger in his home. The guards had made that even clearer when they threw him out and suggested that if he was caught again he would leave less of a man then when he entered. He had torn his favorite doublet when he tried to escape through the window, he was half way out and his escape assured when the young girl wrapped herself around his legs and declared her eternal love. He was walking into the market when he saw his mother talking to a man he hadn’t seen before. His mother was good at hiding her emotions behind her famous smile, but he could tell that something was wrong. The man turned to leave as he noticed Raimden’s approach, but Ohra grabbed his hand and held it in a more familiar way then Raimden had ever seen his mother act. The display gave Raimden pause as he walked up to his mother.
Before he could say anything his mother smiled and reached out to greet him. He smiled and returned his mother’s embrace and before he could ask what was wrong, “I think it’s time to move back to Absalom.” Raimden was shocked, he had spent months pleading with his mother to return to the city he grew up in and now she seemed in hurry to go. She had already started to pack together the first crate in his absence. He was left speechless, “Yes, of course that’s what I’ve been saying we should go back.” Suddenly he was energized by his mother’s decision. He started clearing the line of nesting dolls his mother had brought back from Ustalav when he noticed something new that he hadn’t seen in the stall before. He turned to his mother holding up a pair of small silver scorpions set with green gems whose lust and shine seemed to fade in and out. “Are these new? I’ve never seen these jeweled scorpions.” “Scorpions? I don’t….no” the words barely came out of her mouth as she spun in place. Raimden never even saw her throw the knife that tore the first scorpion in two. Before he even realized it his mother had crossed the 20ft from the other side of the stall and slapped the second scorpion from his hand.
He fell to the ground, caught off guard by her sudden display of celerity. The first scorpion lay at his feet torn in two, it’s mechanical legs and tail twitching and a green liquid oozing from it’s body. He had lost sight of the other, he looked up at his mother not understanding what was happening. He looked up into her face and was greeted with a sad smile that instantly crushed his heart. “I’m sorry she whispered. I tried to be a good mother. I just wanted you to be happy …” He still wasn’t comprehending what was happening, did he do something wrong? Were they not going back to Absalom together? Ohra held up her hand and they both could see the green glow starting to run through her veins, the same pulsing glow from the scorpion’s jewels. She fell there, into his arms. Repeating herself, “I just wanted you to be happy.” Raimden called for help and a crowd started to gather around the stall. The green glow flowed through her veins, pulling the skin taunt and leaving a green hue on her fairer skin. Desperately he cried for help as his mother withered in his arms. The man from earlier pushed his way through the crowd and jumped behind the stall beside Raimden. His face was a mix of rage and sorrow. “Help her!” Raimden pleaded. Ohra’s smile was still strangely soothing, even as she wasted away, “No, Raimden. This debt was mine to pay. I pay it gladly so you can live. Promise me, promise me you’ll live for both of us.”
She died there, in his arms. Everic tried to console Raimden that that was the death she wanted. The stranger had introduced himself some time later in the market place. He tried to tell Raimden that he had seen this happen before and that he should brace himself for what would follow. He had appealed to every temple cleric and sage in the city, yet each told him the same thing. The soul would not return to the body, something prevented the divine magics from working on Ohra’s body. Everic held his tongue, seeing the distress that Raimden was in. He had sold off everything in his mother’s shop to pay for the clerics and money was running out. A week later Raimden finally agreed to make preparations for a funeral. Finally, Raimden turned to Everic and addressed him for the first time since when they met, “Who are you and why did this happen?”
Raimden was silent through Everic’s entire story. He told Raimden about Ohra’s last mission for the Society. An expedition to Numeria to steal secrets from a group called the Technic League. Ohra had been chosen to go because she had made contacts there long ago on another mission. Everic didn’t know the details of the mission but he knew that when Ohra returned she was intent on leaving the Society. She had made some concessions to the Society in exchange for their help in disappearing from Absalom. Everic was the only person she confided in before she left. She had given him some items for safe keeping that were important to her, but would be a risk to keep in her possession. She had left her journal and her sword with Everic in Absalom, where they still are now. “As for why this happened…. I assume it has to do with the Technic League. I saw a scorpion much like that little one in Numeria, though much larger. Much larger.I promised your mother that I would make sure you got safely to Absalom and would have enough money to start a life there, without the Society. To keep you out of the world she lived in.”
Raimden looked at Everic, determination and seriousness crossing his face for the first time ,”Do you think that is going to happen?” Everic allowed himself a slight chuckle, “No, you are your mother’s son after all. You’ll come with me to Absalom though, you’ll want her journal at the least.” A familiar smile grew on Raimden’s face, “Good, on the way there you can ell me more about Numeria and the Technic League.”
It's been about four months since I've left Absalom. With Everic's help I have been able to retrace my mother's journey south from Numeria. Following her journey in reverse I have made my way through parts of Ustalav, Razmiran, the River Kingdoms and then finally into Numeria. I've hired on with a caravan to help guard the travelers going to Torch. Mother's notes on Torch are vague, but she spent a good bit of time there. There seem to be several others that have signed on as guards with this caravan that have come to Torch for the first time. There is an elf, Tyriis who seems a kindred spirit. In another life I am sure we will be brothers in service of Cayden Cailean. I seem to remember him the most because each night at the tavern he challenges me to a drink. There is also a local dwarven cleric whose god (goddess?) I don't remember to clearly, a human that carries pistol and seems unwilling to talk about himself, a bard who continues to regale us each night with song and dance,and finally a large man with an equally large sword. He speaks slowly and keeps to words with three syllables or less but I think he is smarted than he gives on.
Things have taken a unexpected turn in Torch. The strange flame that gives this town it's name has gone out. The merchants and traders that have come here seem to not know what to do now. I hear several expeditions have been sent in with mixed success. Even now the town has put a reward out for help investigating the ruins underneath the flame. On of the locals, an expert I assume on the flame has not returned from his second foray. Several of the others that i have sharing a table with at breakfast seem to have it in their mind to take a chance at the reward. I would have stayed out of the situation, but I had overheard a pair of locals talking of a Technic League spy in town. If there is a spy here it stands to reason that there could be a connection. I have agreed to help look for this Conner, so I had best make my intentions clear with the master of the caravan I was hired on with. Then we will see what lies underneath Torch.
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I love that backstory. I hope you got something extra for that work :)
Work? Extra? Hell's no he didn't. He gets the pleasure of my company. :)
That aside, I've asked them to come up with a backstory, ie. their motivation for coming to Torch, and reveal that during the game to their new found friends. Its also why they are using the /spoiler tag. I've asked that the other players not read that part as it will spoil their roleplay throughout the campaign.
I really need to get Kallidos to post his 'actual' backstory as its equally as long and well written. Then I have to teach these guys about using a character alias for their posts like Morgrym did. He is the half-orc ranger from my Rise of the Runelords game with the other group.
I should mention that when I get a chance I am going to work on some simple rules for gambling games that I will introduce here for those times spent in Silverdisk Hall. The Dungeon Masters Guide, or whatever its actually called, talks about some things to do but I wasn't sold and think I can generate a few things on my own.
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Ok so I grabbed the back story for Tyriis out of the email I sent to UseplanB before the game started and I added a little to it.
Tyriis Kryst’s family lines extend back in time to the original families that were the care takers of the hunting lands of the Kyonin elves, now known as the River Kingdoms. In ancient times these lands held the name Telvurin and were an immense resource for the elves. Many esteemed families were tasked with upkeep and protection of these lands for the betterment of the elven nation, but that was in a time that many have forgotten.
It was during these great times that far to the north, in what was considered a great omen of inscrutable meaning, that what appeared to be a small sun lit up the night and crashed to the ground. The damage that was done to the local and surrounding lands was devastating but went mostly unfelt in the rich lands of Telvurin. In the weeks following the star fall, a council of elders and druids came together to decide what should be done and what part the elves should play in this historical event.
It was decided that several families should head north and begin researching the event and documenting the effects of this strange situation. The elders felt that all care should be taken to ensure that their presence was only barely felt, and that if possible their intent should not be discovered. They would present themselves as a group of emissaries sent to render aid and lend assistance to survivors and to offer support in rebuilding any communities they encountered. It should be noted that many of the families that volunteered for this mission did so out of a genuine sense of goodness and concern for their northern neighbors. Many intended to ignore the research and data collection orders and instead focus only on the purpose of aid and rebuilding both the inhabitants and the natural environment that had suffered. However there were also some that were not so pure of heart of that went with a benevolent spirit but were there purely to discover what new artifacts or items of interest might be brought back for the benefit of the elves only, with little care for the local inhabitants.
It is from this initial group of elven immigrants that Tyriis Kryst traces his lineage. Several generations of elves have come and passed since the ancient events that have been described. While most of the local elves aware in a general sense of why they were uprooted and moved to this harsh and unwelcoming land rather than stay in their beloved forests, but the full details and designs that intermingle with the history of his people are lost on him. In fact many of the remaining elves in Numeria have completely forgotten or were never told about their initial reasons for being here. To them, it is just home.
There are those that still remember the mission and are still focused on the tasks given to them thousands of years ago. Those few have taken careful pains to keep their true goals hidden, with the history passed from parent to child by word of mouth only. Having settled in Hajoth Hakados (in fact the elves were instrumental in the establishment of the community that eventually blossomed into Hajoth) the Kryst family has been a behind the scenes force that has helped develop and guide Hajoth and its policies. While his father Spirian has decided not to reveal the true history of the elven people in this region (due to the mostly care-free and casual nature that Tyriis exhibits) he is not afraid to use Tyriss as a pawn in their mission. Hoping that perhaps that with a few hundred years of experience and maturity that Tyriss will, in time, grow into his role as a resource for the elves, Spirian watches and waits in the shadows guiding Tyriis.
“Ahh my son” Spirian sighed as his face displayed the ever-present look of disapproval “you really must attend to your left guard or you will find a blade in it one of these days.” Spirian watched as the blade so easily plucked from the hands of Tyriis slid across the floor out of reach. “If I am able to disarm you with my cane how can you expect to stand firmly and survive an encounter with those that would assault you with steel?”
“Well, father, first I doubt that in this scenario I would actually be bound and hanging by my feet from a beam in the middle of the room. And secondly I doubt that they would be as skilled as the Guild Master of one of the 5 great houses!” Tyriis quickly used his one free hand to fish a small hidden dagger out of the lining of his belt that his father had missed when searching for weapons earlier. In a flash, the blade sliced through the bonds about his ankles as well as the loops that held his right arm and wrist securely behind him. With the grace of a stalking cat he flipped right side up and landed silently on his feet as the cut ropes released him from the high beam of the training room.
With a deep sigh, Spirian reached up and carefully adjusted his fine green and black doublet as the hard glint in his blue eyes softened just a bit. “I have endeavored to prepare you for any situation that may arise in your coming adventures my son. One cannot always choose the timing of an attack and often it is at the most inconvenient times that a stumbling unwary guard may happen in and interrupt your clandestine activities. I see that armor I found for you suits you well, the red and the black leather is a striking look against the metal studs. I always was fond of it when I wore it.”
Tyriis flashed a wide smile as he looked over himself in the wall of mirrors that lined the training room walls “I hope I wear it as well as you, I don’t see many repairs or extra stitching so you must have been good enough to avoid much conflict!”
“I saw my fair share,” Spirian chuckled, “but I knew when to fight and when to run. This face is too pretty to let cold steel leave a lasting mark!” Spirian paused as he turned to leave through the ornately decorated wooden doors. “Do you remember that job I mentioned to you at dinner the other evening? A business acquaintance is in need of some strong arms and wary eyes to guard his caravan that he is sending north to Torch.” Leaning forward in a more conspiratorial manner he continues “I am concerned that he may be involved in some personal trade that has not been sanctioned by the Guild, which of course cannot be allowed to go unpunished if true. Considering that you have officially come of age, I believe that this would be the perfect time for you to undertake your first adventure and you can keep an eye on who Radivan deals with along the way.”
“Hmm, that means I will have to miss Oldath’s final celebration before his wedding” Tyriis frowned “and that promised to be an event that would live on in legends for generations! His father had a wagon of the finest spirits brought all the way from Cheliax! Oh well, I am sure he will find other things to celebrate. If you will excuse me, I will go and organize the things I will need for the trip.”
As Spirian watched his son walk away, the kindly warmth on his face slowly faded into stone as his calculating eyes considered the many possible futures that lay before Tyriis. “I hope this is what you need to set your way son, I do not wish to start over with another son but I will if I must.” That and other dark thoughts floated through his mind as Tyriis disappeared around the corner.
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Ok so I grabbed the back story for Tyriis out of the email I sent to UseplanB before the game started and I added a little to it.
** spoiler omitted **...
That's not your backstory! That's the script from Smokey and the Bandit and you just replaced Burt Reynold's character with your own. I say sir, I will not be hoodwinked in this fashion.
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Well, we got a lot further along with the game tonight than we did on the starting night.
We started the day following after their altercation with the advanced repair drone. Looking back I believe that I should not have had the encounter be against the advanced version. That aside, they did succeed. Knowing that it was going to be the last encounter for the session was my main reason for leaving it in. All the player resources, granted only three character, could be used to succeed.
So we started with the group getting their Water Breathing by Joram. Having six players meant that even with the Rod of Metamagic (Extended) each player only had four hours of water breathing. From there they made a quick stop off at the general store where they purchased multiple waterproof sacks and then they made their way to the Weeping Pond.
As a description for the pond, I gave the imagery of the multicolored hue of oil on water. Something that is really only seen if the light hits the water correctly. We then formed a party order for entering the pond and making their way down the underwater tunnel. The first two players failed their DC check to advance and I gave the description that between the sensation of being able to breathe in an environment that until now was impossible to do gave their character pause. The third in line made their check and I described that this player, the kellid fighter, sank like a stone to the bottom of the pond where he made his way along the bottom of the tunnel and arriving first ahead of the others. The cleric also had issues and even though he also sank like a stone, he couldn't find his way. I was somewhat worried that constant dice rolls just to make their way down the tunnel would bog down the game with needless rolls and so I only had their first success dictate who arrived on the shore first.
The bard and rogue both failed their constitution checks for contact with the contaminated waters and were at a small disadvantage when the fire beetles attacks. For this fight I did make all three beetles advanced and with max hit points. The group managed to remove the threat rather quickly but my dice were not kind to the rogue who was rather quickly reduced to zero hit points and was staggered for the fight. Regardless of the advanced template the beetles would have hit, just not as hard. The combat was also interesting because it meant the gunslinger could not use his weapon as it was wrapped tightly up in a waterproof sack. Sadly for that player, his dice were not as kind as they typically are and he spent a majority of the evening missing. Spending seven gold per shot at 1st level meant he chose those shots carefully.
They then took the tunnel through A3 and discovered the body of the dead half-orc. A few of the players recognized the corpse and decided to leave it alone. Not wanting to metagame the fact that I had a large print-out of the entire map printed out they moved into A4 with the intention of moving back through A2 to make sure they did not miss Khonnir's body should it be there.
As the attack from the Blindhelm started, the Swashbuckler yelled out not to kill it as he wanted a pet. It was made in jest and I made it part of the game considering the creatures past. I also had it initially attack him. Looking the creature over I had initially decided to make it advanced but decided against this when I realized how difficult it would be to hit and how easily it would shred the party with its massive amount of attacks. The only modification was to make it full health. Once again, the rogue found himself on the mean end of my dice and only the bard was blinded by the creature. He was also the only one to have a chance to know what it was. I gave him a chance to know with a higher DC check after the encounter as he did see it right before he was blinded and since he was working from memory. He made the roll and knew that the blindness was not permanent. They did discover the brand and the cleric was the only one of the group that spoke Undercommon. Even though the Blindhelm doesn't have a language per se, the use of the word 'pet' was something it knew, at least in inflection.
After heals the group pressed on with the rogue stealthing into A2 with the fighter following along. The slime molds moved forward into them after they moved further into the room. Once again, I kept the encounter at three molds and advanced them with full HP. Again the rogue had a bad dice day by me. The boons the players had, of which there were three, were almost all used by this point. Regardless the party managed to kill them and top everyone off mostly. The rogue decided to hang back for a while and allow the other members of the party to scout ahead.
As a GM, I failed here. Massively. One of the rules I have adopted from another campaign I play in is to have the rogue give one roll for stealth. It only resets after a combat encounter. This way we don't bog the night down with constant rolls and detract from the story. My failure was forgetting the nature of stealth and forgetting to allow him to scout ahead possibly not being seen. In the case of the molds they did move forward but it was because of the obvious fighter in heavy armor sloshing along behind the rogue. The stealth roll didn't make the rogue invisible but I did have two of the molds attack the fighter while only one of the molds attacked the rogue. The attack was also made after the rogue had stabbed at it. So even if he was unseen, he was obvious at that point. Regardless, it is an area I will have to manage better as a GM.
They then moved on into A5 where they poked around a little and discovered nothing but the drawings on the walls. The rogue did get a fairly high Perception check while watching the SE tunnel but not high enough to realize that a skulk was there and moving slowly away from them to warn the others. So I just explained that he felt as if he was being watched but didn't know why or from where.
They then pushed on into A6 and the group didn't push on into the room. The fighter was leading the way and made a Knowledge: Dungeoneering roll recognizing the brown mold and how dangerous it was. They also used rope that the rogue had to fashion a noose and succeeded in recovering Gerrol's corpse. They discovered the odd markings and again the fighter made a Dungeoneering roll recognizing the russet mold. They took what they could off the body and left him in the room knowing they needed to research more about russet mold before removing the body.
Backing out of the room they made their way through A5 into A7 and made contact with the skulk tribe. The elected group that went was the gunslinger who did the negotiation, the cleric and swashbuckler. The others remained behind and minded their manners.
All dialog that I did, first with Luepel and then with Sef was done in a broken common, although I did make Sef a little more competent with the language. They agreed to Sef's terms and made their way into the gremlin caves.
Again I messed up, it was a little late, and I had them attacked by all three gremlins after the fighter triggered the trap in the first room. I had them all dimension door in and begin their attack. Again I was going to make them advanced until I realized that would make them damn near impossible to hit. Even deadlier with their DR, so they only had max health. Their low damage meant that they only could do 1 point of damage as they never got a flank with the small confines of the room. In fact the rogue moved through the caves to get behind them and was able to get past the DR with the additional back stab damage.
Throughout the encounters the bards Inspire Courage ability really helped the group get past difficult combats so his ability was invaluable. They eventually made it to A11 and Jazvit. His advanced nature was giving them problems to hit even with the dog pile the combat became. The gunslinger finally gave up and just did a grapple check and succeeded at holding him down. He was 1 player away from dimension dooring it out of there when the swashbuckler got a critical hit killing him.
We finished the evening with the group collecting their end of the bargain in silverdisks and the brown colored cards, as well as returning to Torch to rest for the night after speaking with people in town with what they found (Dolga/Emelia/Joram). In my campaign I have decided to alter the weight of silverdisks. I was not a big fan of each disk being one pound, so they are .25 lbs per disk instead. I believe this still implies its technological nature and uniqueness to standard coinage. I am also trying to decide on what I am going to do with them for actual loot. As tech they are valued at 10 gold each. So I either make them that in trade or as something that needs to be sold for 5 gold only.
I was a bit rusty on the running of the game but I hope to make up for my mistakes the next week. No one died and the encounters were all epic in small but memorable ways, and the players all agreed they had fun. Lets hope next week is better and their journal entries are enjoyable to read.
EDIT: I forgot to add, that after a critical hit is confirmed I play this from my laptop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA0erM_B3CA
Those Gremlins are a++#&~!s! the whole night my party fought them, it didn't help that our fighter decided she should trip all the traps and miss all the goblins, many one's, two's and three's she rolled that night, but yeah it was close to thirty rounds and i even "forgot" the AC bump for the advanced template on the last one, f!&%ing a#%#%$#s:-D
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Now, I'm a crafter of some small skill, good with my hands; I get by. But, SWIMMING? Just ain't natural, how's a dwarf supposed to act?
Went to the temple for Joram's spell, stopped by the store, and arrived at the pond. Shooter found the path, and we all rushed in; yours' truly as graceful as a drunk auroch on ice. Thrashed around before finding the tunnel, not the most stylish entrance. While some were coughing up a few gallons of the pond, a couple local beetles introduced themselves. Being the size of small dogs, they got in some good licks before meeting their maker. Almost cut the git in half, but that sort of thing is to be expected when he's that skinny.
Patched folks up, and the shooter found a body down a side passage. Half-orc named Garda, used to fight for money around town; don't know how she got talked into this. Bastards took her stuff and just left the body, will have to remove the body after we find Khonnir and the others. Followed the tunnel to another beach and stream(connected?) and were looking around when a frog-thing appeared. It gave off a burst of light that blinded the bard, but the rest moved in to take it down. A body was found in the water, but was too chewed on to identify. Worked on some small wounds, but the bard says his sight will just take time.
The scout and I followed the stream to see if it leads back to the entrance, and check for survivors. He moves very well down here, but I guess my three left feet gave us away. Three blobs came at us, and proceeded to beat most of the stuffing out. The skinny one again got real close to the light, But Brigh saw fit to send him back. Beginning to give more weight to the rumor I've been hearing; folks say that nature thinks elves are delicious. No accounting for taste.
The kellid took the lead down more tunnels, found a large pile of junk from things I can only hope to find. There's a hoard of tech in here somewhere, can't wait to play in it. Came to a frosty chamber with a body to one side, big guy says it's full of "brown mold" that will freeze you solid. Also, fire makes it grow like crazy; important safety tip as I almost use Her blessing to flame the room. A rope is used to recover the body, that turns out to be Gerrol, a local who was part of Khonnir's group; another to bring out later.
The next passage gives a sense of unease, and leads to a large chamber. There are crude huts below, a large pit to one side, and a large metal door/hatch on the far side. As we moved, a shape stepped from the wall. It was a skulk, one of a group living here, and their leader asked our help. Some nasties were attacking them, and if we get rid of them, we get passage and reward. Twisting tunnels led to a spike trap that the kellid found with his thigh. Three of the gremlins ported in and started swinging;not much damage, but hard to hit. Finished them, plugged up the fighter, and moved on to a large chamber. It was filled with more junk, and the head runt. He was more of a fight, but was soon dog-piled. The far wall held another of the metal doors, but this one was closed. Checked the area, but only found another trap, which I cleverly sprung with my big feet.
Hobbled back to the skulks, who gave us a bag of silver discs and some information. A bunch led by a female with purple hair had gone through some days past, and left through the closed portal. They could be the idiots that shut down the flame. Khonnir had come by, taking the open door; our next goal. Before continuing, we return to town to pass on information and regroup. I hate to lose any more time, but it will take all the blessings She will provide to get through this pit.
The adventuring thing sounded a whole lot better when downing a cold brew. Note to self; pick up more Oldlaw.
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It appears know that our little fellowship has finally found a focus: Khonnir Baine. Some of us are of course connected to him personally, some are now drawn to him primarily due to the promise of future financial reward, but we are focused and moving towards finding him. It seemed a common theme with every merchant or smith that we spoke how Khonnir Baine was good for Torch, so it is wonderful that we are headed to find him. Hopefully our first adventure together as a company will prove to be a successful one.
After receiving the blessing from the cleric Joram we proceeded to the pond. While the water did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary at first glance, we quickly found out otherwise when its oily film covered us. We sank to the bottom in various degrees of grace, speed, comfort, and concern but we did all manage to find a tunnel a ways down that lead back into the tunnels Khonnir had described upon his first return. We emerged unceremoniously into a small opening with barely enough solid ground to stand on or space to swing a blade. My elven blood could not handle the depths to which that water had been poisoned and I was sickened. Waiting in ambush were three beetles the size of dogs with large scythe-like mandibles and brightly glowing orange eyes and the moment we cleared the water they were upon us.
We were not prepared as our gear was still stowed protectively from the water and a couple of us were suffering from contact with that unholy pond. We each played our part one of those beasts in particular made a lucky hit and forced me to retreat from the battle or face dire consequences indeed. I was ale to find an opening while one was focused on Aiden and was able defeat it in one strike. However then my strength failed me between the sickening water and my blood being in a large pattern on all of us and had to watch from a few feet away. It was almost like watching a troop of children chase a greased chicken through a corn field. No one could keep a grip on their weapon, the ground was so slippery people were sliding all over into each other, and there was no space so we were all in each other’s way. It was a horrible first encounter but we survived, barely, and thanks to our fine furry dwarven companion and his most generous deity.
During the fray our firearms specialist retrieved his weapon and crawled up to the small ledge above us and kept watch down the connected tunnel ensuring we would not be caught unawares. After receiving the healing touch of Bligh I joined him at his perch. He nodded his head forward without letting his eyes leave the mark he was watching. “Do not step in front of me, it would be unfortunate to be caught in the blast. However there is something up ahead in the darkness that I cannot quite make out.” It was much easier for my eleven eyes to see farther down the tunnel and I spotted a corpse left in the dirt. “I will go ahead my friend, and see if there are any surprises.”
In near silence I crawled through the many spindly stone columns in this cramped and narrow tunnel. Weaving my way in between them I approached the corpse and found the body of a half-orc – Garda I think her name was – dead from many very nasty looking dagger wounds all over her body. Whatever founder, did so with speed and certainly, those were a lot of cuts. Softly I called back to the group urging them forward as I crept into the small cave that opened before me. It was appalling how much noise they made as they cautiously made their way through the pillars, but in the silence of a cave all noises ring about your eyes as if in a concert theater under the stars.
As the last of us piled in and Aiden stood to stretch his back now that the ceiling was higher than 5 feet tall, a brilliant white blast of light assaulted us out of the darkness. All of us but the bard were able to avoid it in time, hopefully the damage isn’t permanent. A bulbous, veiny, thin-skinned, over grown mushroom was attacking us. Others moved to engage it first while I waited for a smart moment to strategically position myself. As I moved about the edge of the battle to place myself opposite of Alexi, the creature lashed out with razor sharp claws that immediately ripped the breath from my lungs. The damage was extensive and I could only summon the strength to feebly make single attacks to defend myself as I was staggered from the clearly near-fatal blow. The beast was quickly defeated thanks to my companions, and I took a knee and tried hard to concentrate on finding air while Morgryn once again beseeched his god on my behalf.
Before moving on we decided to double check a back channel that led off into the darkness. Again I volunteered my stealthy skills to scout ahead and mark our path. Since Morgryn had been forced to patch me up several times thus far, he decided to simply follow me this time to cut to the quick. Unfortunately it was his heavy boots that brought about the attack from some undetected slimes in ona small beach a short way in. The rest of the group had stayed behind and could not reach us before the slimes had done their damage. I could not withstand the assault and dropped to darkness, splashing loudly as I fell under their blows.
I awoke a few moments later, Morgryn once again using his healing magics to keep me on this plain. At this point I told the party I had about enough of taking the abuse for the day and someone else could strike out and search for traps because so far all I’ve found is monsters rending my flesh from my bones. With all seriousness they understood and agreed.
We later came across the creature that I think is responsible for all the dagger wounds in Garda. We were walking carefully through another tunnel when the wall itself spoke to us and bid us halt in broken common. We all about freaked out as a creature that looked to be made of the stone itself –a creature I later learned would be known as a Skulk- bid half our group follow or all would perish. It was agreed and so we learned from other of her kind that there were several gremlins about that if we would remove as a threat, we would be granted safe passage to continue our search for Khonnir. Of course we readily agreed and sought out to find them and eliminate them.
I kindly offered to once again assume my role as scout and resident trap locator but the group felt that I should wait as my wounds had not been fully healed from the last encounter. In fact I was in critical condition but I refused to complain but I did agree to watch from the rear. Aiden took one step with his size 14 boots into the next small chamber and a GIANT spike on a sprung-tight log came flying out of no-where and impaled itself in his leg to the bone! At that precise moment, we were ambushed by three of them but because of the tunnel network I was able to avoid the initial onslaught and instead ran around behind them. I caught one of them flatfooted and my blade easily sliced through his thick hide and ended his life. Thanks to smart positioning and coordinated attacks we were able to assault their flanks and do well enough to get past their defenses easily enough. Their commander was found a few twists and turns later and put up stiff resistance, but he too swiftly fell to our blades.
We returned to the Skulks and as agreed we are now allowed to pass unmolested through their lands as long as we bring no violence to her people. And thus ends our first day underground!
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My character has ranks in knowledge dungeoneering and local, Gods don't fall under those. Also travelling with a dwarf that mumbles a lot. Bligh is what I stand by!
The other grammar/spelling issues are because yes I was sick for 5 days and then tried to rush the post late at night, but Bligh I can argue and live with.
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Sorry for the late post we took a small hiatus from the game to test out Monte Cook's new game The Strange and because of that I took a break from updating my post.
We began the evening with the Torch Event and the meeting of Garmen Ulreth. I enjoyed the initial role play of the messenger and his being nervous. I am unsure as to why the Adventure Path listed him as being such but I assume it was either a) being sent by Garmen to do a task, b) having to meet a hard group that came back out from the tunnels or c) the guy was just useless. Either way the group took their time before going up and were each surprised to get a 100 gold voucher.
I decided to use the Dungeon Masters Guidebook for the gambling test and we did the Roll the Bones. In theory the players win 48% of the time. In reality they win every time. Whats the saying thirty percent of the time it works every time? In order to not bog the night down with rolls I allowed only a few rolls for each player. What I erred in was allowing there to be a one hundred gold per roll table. That aside, you would still think I wouldn't fail at rolling higher than a 6 on a d20. On the plus side it worked in the players favor. They used the excess winnings to purchase a lot of bullets for the gunslinger and a wand of cure light wounds since healing was an issue. More on that later.
They once again returned into the tunnels and other than the feeling of being watched by the Skulks they knew to be in the area but never seeing they entered into the Habitat Dome unmolested. What is interesting to me is the insane ability for our player who is running the rogue to continually get the wrong end of the stick. It happened when they encountered the repair drone in B2. They determined that it wasn't a threat as it wasn't attacking them but were wary of it. None of them made the connection with the card opening the door and when the rogue attempted to pick the lock the drone activated and walloped him something fierce. A quick fight later they progressed into B3 and only searched through B4 and the cages in B3. B5 was simple and it wasn't until we did the encounter at B6 that I may have made some errors.
Understanding the timing of the Ghelarn is key for a GM to make this encounter work. I made a few errors at the beginning of the encounter but what ended up happening is everyone failing their check to be entangled and then making their escape artist check to get out ended their turn. It made the fight drag on and made the encounter a little hard to stomach for the players. Part of that was my fault and I will have to double check the timing of the encounter again in case they encounter any more in the course of the campaign. They ended up destroying the creature with combined ranged fire from the gunslinger after the fighter sundered the shell.
So the group entered into the dome itself and began their search opting to follow the footprints of the previous expeditions. I decided to advance the kasatha skeletons and was surprised that the group essentially one-shotted the first two with out them ever swinging back. I ran the encounter by general initiative as there was no surprise as the skeleton would pull itself from the sand when they approached within 10 ft. The first two encounters was a player beating its initiative and proceeding to crit the creature and one shot it. Even with max advanced health they only had 10 hp. Although on the first creature I forgot their DR when the swashbuckler attacked. The third one though almost wiped out the party. As a GM I would strongly advise any GM from not advancing these. As a first level party will have a difficult time hitting it for one, getting past its DR, and weathering its four attacks. I would suggest maybe doing a half advance if you have a party size above 5 players and give the creature a flat +2 to CMD/AC and a +1 hit and damage. Increase the XP from 200 per to 300 instead of the advanced 400. The next fight I left them as is and they went down rather easily but the players were a little off put as we discussed the advancing rules for a good portion of the night.
The "illusion" of B10 was an enjoyable RP part of the game when we got back on track and the rogue lucked out and disabled the malfunctioning "trap" in B11. He waited for the pulse, ran in, and began attempting to fix the trap. He rolled his d4 for the number of rounds it would take and I rolled my pulse timer. I rolled max both times and he made it out successfully before the trap hit him. It took two attempts but they got passed the trap.
They proceeded into B12 where the player of the bard ran in and pushed a random flashing button on the console much to the dismay of the cleric. The chart at the beginning of the AP was used and we had some fun RP but no one was willing to touch anything after the threat of violence from the cleric if that was done again.
So they entered into B13 and I was worried about this encounter after reading some of the forum posts and his ability to TK parties. After having done Rise of the Runelords and watching that possibility almost happen to our group from an early boss fight below Thistletop I decided to leave Hetuath alone. He did some damage but in the end the fight went quickly and although he did some scary things, the swashbuckler's ability to reposte his attacks slowed his damage output. I think in retrospect a half advance would have been good. Definitely DO NOT full advance him.
Once he was dead, looted and the room searched they used the newly acquired card to open the doors to B14 and proceed to the lower levels. I did a semi GM intervention here for two reasons. I wanted to call it a night as it was late and I was tired, I wanted them to figure out the habitat dome to gain the XP rewards so they could level to 2 and because I wasn't fully ready to run the next part of the adventure.
The did figure out the controls and activated the power but ended the evening there. The group has decided to camp in the dome rather than move back and forth from the tunnels to Torch. That was an interesting decision by the group, we will have to see how that will play out.
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Well it would seem that after returning to town, my companions required some down time to shed the stresses of being underground roll off their shoulders. I don’t quite understand how participating in games of chance that are heavily weighted to the advantage of the establishment makes them feel better, but things seemed to go well for us as a group. I believe we all ended up making some coin as the fates seemed to be in our favor. After spending some time there we all retired for the evening to prepare for the next trip below.
The next morning we again descended into the tunnels and picked up our explorations where we left off. We noticed how the walls quickly stopped being made of stonework and shifted to being made of some kind of strange dark grey metal. The corridors were very quiet except for the ringing echo of our steps as we slowly made our way deeper.
I scouted ahead and stopped the group as a robot guard came into view. After looking it over we determined that it was just another repair robot and that it was not interested in us or much of anything else. It just stood there as we approached carefully and did not react as we circled it and waited. After a few moments of nothing happening, we decided it was safe to try and find a way through the portal door that it seemed to guard. There was a small raised pad area on the side of the door so naturally that looked like a great place to start. Grabbing my best set of picks I worked my way under the panel and heard a click as my picks activated the mechanisms underneath. I heard Aiden shout out my name and then I remember nothing as the back of my head caved in…
I woke up at some point later thanks to Morgrym’s magical healing. I’m not sure what happened for the few minutes I was unconscious, but I am starting to be afraid that one of these times Morgrym won’t be able to bring me back from the brink. I’ll just have to be even more on my toes as we continue in this strange environment. Which speaking of strange, as we crept forward the walls kept changing back and forth from smooth and obviously metal structure to deep red rock and natural sand floors. I’m not sure why it changes back and forth but it is disturbing.
In the first major space where the engineered tunnels converted to wide open natural rock and sand we ran into some kind of creature I had never seen before. This beast lived under the sand and it would fling tentacles at us as it tried to pull us into a maw of razor sharp teeth. That particular behavior was not uncommon amongst other creatures we have all encountered, however it had some sort of ability to make the sand around it turn to a thick and almost soupy sort of consistency that instantly would start to suck you downwards. My natural agility made it easy for me to escape the clutches of the sand once it had me, but there was little I could do to avoid the initial suction of the sand. Because of this I spent most of our battle dancing in the sand trying to avoid being dragged below to my death. Finally other members of our band were able to raise enough offense from a distance to kill off the monster.
After defeating the sand monster we ventured further into this great desert expanse in the darkness that surrounded us. We were all eager to understand what was here under the Hill but after the many surprises we had encountered thus far we were understandably cautious. With a marching order that best utilized our reaction times and skills we set out following the footsteps in the sand that obviously just had to be Khonnir’s group, right? We had seen very little sign of any other recent activity down here so we figured that these footsteps must have belonged to the remaining members of the group we are here to rescue. As we forged ahead, we encountered (at different times) these wandering four-armed and rather tall skeletons that had way too many bones in them and that also prominently featured this sickly green light that while was bright, seemed to ooze out of their eye sockets. The first of these fell before the rapidly moving blade of RaimdenThe creature could not even muster a defense in time to stop the angry thrusts leveled against it. . After the battle Raimden mentioned that he had spent time in Osirion and that even that far south he had heard rumors of four-armed aliens and that these may be undead versions of those beings. The second creature suffered the same fate although in this instance it was the mighty hammer of Morgrym, guided by the power of his faith, that turned the walking pile of bones to dust.
A while later as we were moving deeper into the land we encountered a third one, only this one was a king of its kind for sure. This superior being quickly overpowered Aiden as he rushed in to meet the beast face-to-face. It battered aside Aiden’s weapon and with seemingly one strong swipe tore a gaping wound the length of Aiden’s torso wide open which quickly put the brave fighter out of the battle. The rest of us quickly moved to encircle the creature and to move it away from Aiden, but we had very little success in even hitting it. When we were able to land a blow, it seemed that our weapons could not find solid purchase. I was able to sneak past its defenses and land a shot, which quickly earned me some unwanted attention. As has been the standard for my time with this group, in short order I was overpowered by the sheer strength of the beast and was left unconscious once again. I don’t know how the fight ended as I was not standing to see it, but we were victorious and had to move away quickly to find a safe spot to lick our wounds.
After we were back to some sort of fighting shape we continued on towards a lit cavern off to one side. We were able to explore some areas that some of the smarter folks in our group were very excited about because they were full of technology to play with, but I was more focused on another four armed fellow with very sharp serrated short swords that seemed intent up killing us. The fight raged back and forth trading advantage between sides but eventually we were able to strategically position ourselves and finish him off without too much of our blood being spilled. For now though, our group is out of spells and tricks for the day, so we must rest and see what the next day will bring!
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So this week started Part IV and the Science deck.
A small amendment to my last post. Seems two weeks of downtime muddles the brain. I had forgot that after the near TPK with the advanced Kasatha skeleton the group pulled back to Torch to rest for the night and exhausting their spells for the day. They had gone back in the next morning encountering the last Kasatha skeleton along the path about 24 hours after the last encounter with one of the Kasatha skeletons. Key word here being "24 hours." Then their encounter with Hetuath with which healing was done with wands. Not a huge change but important none-the-less.
As a GM I made a minor error here, and the best advice I can give any GM is to always read every sidebar in the AP before the start of every session. I don't know what it is about sidebars but I always forget that info and it always bites me in the ass down the road. Even though the doors require a black key-card on the science deck level they are not, in fact, all locked. Something I forgot to mention to my players and as such we played the whole night assuming everything was locked. It wasn't until the encounters in C6/C7 that I realized this when I wondered how the vegepygmy's got around. So I did a minor ret/con with the players later on for their journal entries and we will alter how we deal with doors from now on.
I also introduced a new rule I am trying out. In order to manage the super-loot (as we call it) phase of the game, I have every player roll a perception check at the end of the encounter. Then as the next few minutes of non-combat play out the characters will discover or find those "room only items." Looking over the dead is always going to happen so that loot is almost always going to be found. Other players may be tending the wounded or investigating something important to their character. In the course of those actions they may then discover those "treasures" that are in the rooms beyond whatever the BBEG was carrying. I will run this for the rest of the first book and try to report how this worked out at the wrap up of the last encounter of book.
The group entered into C1 and began poking about. Turns out the bloody northern doors creeped them out the most and was the driving force to make them follow the path of blood.
The length of C2 just added to the horror and as a GM there was a perverse sense of pleasure in describing somewhat clean areas marred by bloody violence. The feel of those two rooms for an entering party was well done by Paizo and I would encourage any GM to really play up fear of what caused the violence and how it looks to have ended.
The group continued on into C4 and I admit I enjoyed this encounter as well. The description of the curiously cleaned floor leading from one door to the next made the encounter with Fungus creepy cool. It also helped when the creature is described as a child asking questions. Then you are just playing up the horror movie stereotypes. I left the creature alone, opting not to increase the difficulty of the encounter any and leaving it instead at maximum health. It did its damage and the group only had to use minor resources to continue. They did find the box with the 3 timeworn flare guns, but are not sure exactly what they are. Other than single shot weapons of some sort the group has decided to bank them and their first real discovery that might lead them to Sanvil Trett.
I thought the group was going to go directly into C11 when they decided to clear out behind them, "just in case." So they entered into C5 and I enjoyed reading off random bits of goo tube food ideas, settling on Teriyaki Grablaw (since it may taste like chicken but isn't an actual chicken). I'd love to see a list of goo tube flavors somewhere to use as a percentile chart. I allowed the cleric who has the technologist feat a chance to figure out how to turn off the stove and he did so, slowly lowering the heat of the room. Everyone took some, mostly I think to sell as they might bring in a fair amount of cash, but I think some of the more adventurous players might keep them to eat. The humorous thing here is that I could in fact make a few goo tubes toothpaste and they would probably still eat it not knowing exactly what it is, other than minty.
From there they entered into C3 and instead of two CR1 boilborns I made them two CR2 plagueborns with maximum hit points. I also really played up the goopy, slimy nature of the creatures and their sounds and effects of damage caused to them. Much hilarity ensued when the fighter crushed one with his earthbreaker sending a massive pile of diseased acid everywhere. A note here for GMs, diseases are not able to be treated until the affliction becomes apparent (onset). The group made their knowledge check and knew that they carried disease but they really have no way of knowing that anyone is afflicted until someone becomes sick. Having a 3 month calendar available will help you plan out when the affliction manifests. Since the Golarion calendar mirrors our own with different words for days and months its easy to print these out to have on hand. I started our campaign on the day we actually started playing in real life.
From here the went into C9 and a few horrible rolls later by both the cleric and rogue at attempting to remove the coupling for repairs, they decided to leave it and return to C1 where they entered into the side room finding its contents but being unable to open the white pass-card box. The fighter offered to open it with his earth breaker but the group declined his offer of assistance. That would have been very interesting to play out. They returned to the "lift" and finally succeeded in removing the coupling for repairs before continuing on.
From here they took the side passage into C7 and I altered to room somewhat so that the weedwhip would be able to use its camouflage ability. No one made the DC 15 check and everyone moved into the room before it attacked leaving the rogue, fighter and swashbuckler/investigator sickened and poisoned. I did the half advance I mentioned in my last post to the creature with max health. So instead of a flat +2 to all rolls its only +1 and instead of the +4 AC/CMD its +2 (For XP rewards I just put it the halfway point between the rewards for CR. So if it was CR2, 600 XP and I half advanced it I would give 700 XP as CR 3 is 800 XP). I expected the encounter to be a little more difficult but at max health of 28, the cleric ran in hitting it with his warhammer for 2 reducing it to 26 and the gunslinger moved in and fired rolling a natural 20 and backing the threat up. He caused 27 damage. Sooo, I described the shot shattering the central stalk and the round ricocheting off the back wall and back into the weedwhip effectively cutting it in half. That was round 1. /blink blink
I told the group when we started that as a GM I wanted to make sure that the game was always about the story and it was never going to be GM versus the players. So I made sure to congratulate the player on a lucky shot and move along. All too often I think GMs might feel that its an 'us vs. them' game and it sours the game as a whole. That statement is a two-way street as well. The players might be thinking the same. As a gamer I think we need to try and get back to the story and should enforce that play at any table we sit at in some way.
The vegepygmies showed up in round 4 while the group was still working out the poisons and sickness and after a quick but lively scrum the group succeeded in killing them off. Again I did a half advance with max health on all the vegepygmies. We ended the night with the group gathering the loot from the rooms and the now dead followers of Brigh.
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This place we have decided to stumble through just seems to continue to offer surprises and disconcerting situations. It has become increasingly challenging to even describe the artifacts and machines left behind by the aliens (for indeed these can only be from an alien source) after the destruction of their habitat. Should we find Khonnir and return him safely to Torch, we will surely be able to fill our pockets with gold after selling the strange and wondrous things we keep happening upon. Of course that assumes that we will survive the trip.
As our group has progressed through the tunnels and rooms of this alien place, I have continued to search for any of the traps or barriers that one would commonly expect in standard expedition exploration. However as this is so strangely different from any of my previous hunts through underground places, I have yet to find anything that resembles your usual explorer-bait. I’m continue to be vigilant but I am concerned that I will become careless and when the time comes that I truly need to perform my duty as an expert in traps and barriers that I will miss a sign to the detriment of my companions. I will just have to stay motivated and do my utmost to remain focused.
We began our exploration by opening into a medium sized room that seemed to have a central desk and various bits of debris and whatnot scattered about. There was the presence of some nasty red mold off in one corner but our bard assured us that is was harmless. The primary thing of note was the massive red stain of dried blood and gore that had once pooled under a door to the north. The size of the stain left little to the imagination of the fate of the victim, but only about half of it was on our side of the door and the rest disappeared behind the closed portal door. A moment passed where we each seemed to catch each other’s eye in a questioning sort of way and as a group we sort of mentally shrugged and prepared our individual weapons for what may lie ahead.
Cautiously we opened the door and peered ahead, expecting an ambush. Instead we were greeted with a scene of horror and ruin that caused us to take a step back. A hallway extended before us, the floor coated in gallons of dried blood from what had to be many bodies being dragged through to the door beyond. However it appears that the group gave as well as it got as there were many twisted and melted heaps of metal in clumps along the curving hall. It appears quite an exchange of steel and magic reduces many of the automatons to melted rubble, but not enough to stop several explorers from passing on. The floor was not the only place covered in the dark red tapestry, as many splashes and slashes of dried blood on the walls encouraged us to keep our hands to ourselves as we passed through this hall. It curved to the right and ended in another portal door, I wish the blood trails would have ended there as well however we could see them continue on as if it were some gore-filled fairytale road.
We entered the next room and it appeared to be some sort of study area or science oriented location. We observed piles of dirt and geodes on tables strew about the room. Off to one corner there seemed to be some sort of plant creature that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was only as tall as a gnome but it was shaped like a giant bulbous brain with spindly little limbs that barely supported the weight. The most commanding feature was the giant mouth the spanned the entire span of his round body, like some sort of tooth-filled Mohawk waiting to chew us down. Oh, and also it spoke directly into our minds, sounding like the scariest child imaginable. We spoke back and forth briefly and were able to determine that some machines had dragged several bodies through the room into some other hallway beyond yet another portal door. After saying several times that it enjoyed the “bright red food” left behind by the previous altercation in the hallway, it finally got hungry enough to try and take some more bright red food directly from our bones. Or course we were loath to comply with such a request and a fight for our lives ensued. It was a quick battle with bites and blades exchanged, however the important part is that yours truly survived without incident! I don’t believe the creature was able to even strike a blow against me which is truly a wonderful turn of events! It did have one sneaky trick, some sort of sound pulse that was so powerful in our minds that caused a few of us to be sickened and nauseous for part of the battle. In the end, I was able to land a particularly solid stab that seemed to cut the fight short, or at least hasten the end of the plant’s life.
As we continued on through the portals on the other side of the room we continued to follow the trail of blood. It led to yet another doorway that seemed to move into some other area, so we decided to double back and clear the rooms behind us to assure that nothing angry (or hungry) would surprise us amid another battle. I wish I could explain the different machines and other baubles we encountered, but I don’t understand at all what we were seeing. I will say we found some strange tubes that seemed to have rations in a gooey almost liquid form contained within. Even after such a long time underground the goop still had a great flavor and seemed to be edible. Several of us took some to either use or sell as each wished, but other than that the technology in this place is beyond my skills. Morgrym and the bard seem to be as happy as can be rushing from thing to thing, I am just hoping to survive!
This small prep room opened into a much larger room that seemed to be designed as a large dining room. Mostly overturned metal tables and stools occupied the room along with some machinery along the wall. We did run into a couple of small yellow globs that I had heard tend to carry disease. They slowly creeped across the room and I tried to warn my companions, but Aiden leapt off one of the tables heroically and smashed one of them into the ground with his massive weapon. The resulting explosion of acid and goop may have exposed several companions to illness, but only time will tell.
Eventually we came to a different sort of room, it was a small place and the doors did not react in the same way. Morgrym told me it was called an “elevator” and that if it was actually working it would act in the same way as a lift. There was some sort of sparking and arcing lightning bouncing around some metal wires that burned a bit when I tried to remove the broken parts. I had to give up on it but had better luck when I came back through later. It took all of my skill and reflexes but I finally got it out on the second try.
It seems that maybe some of the experiments may have grown up and taken over this place as we continue to encounter aggressive and oversized plant life that hungers not for the sun, but for flesh. This time we moved into a room covered with ivy and foliage. In the back of the room, hidden in the lush dense brush was a giant yellow flower with very long thorny vines. Of course, as we are very attached to our skin we fought back and thanks to one heck of a great shot by Alexi the plant was beaten quickly. I wish to point out that I survived yet another battle with barely a scratch, so this must have been my blessed day! As we were wrapping up that engagement, a door off to the side of the room swished open and a band of tiny living vines with claws came pouring into our space. They were mean and angry little beasts but we were able to finish them off with careful application of strategy and sharp blades.
After we explored the room and found cell with human prisoners with torsos that had exploded outwards, as if some vile creature had burst forth from within. What sort of clue that might be is yet to be determined, however I am sure that I will not be taken captive under any circumstance if that is to be the fate of prisoners. I believe each carried a holy symbol of Brigh upon them, which was not a pleasant situation for Morgrym to have to face.
Here we paused to discuss our options, I will report our decision of which path we choose to follow in my next journal entry.
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Okay, slight delay in my posts. We played one night, had a week off and then took it back up this past weekend. So I apologize for that.
That being said, our game from a few weeks back was almost a TPK and campaign TPK. There was a lot of frustration at the table, even I was pissed. At the time, we spent a majority of the evening after the game talking about everything and nothing. The evening was a comedy of errors that compounded into the worst night of RP in a long time. We only cleared two rooms. C8 and C12 respectfully.
Two of the harder hitters on the entire level. Error #1 (really just bad luck on the party's part). The group was also really banged up when they entered into C8 and hadn't topped people off (multiple player errors there). Error #2. I misplayed the sneak and initial round of combat. Error #3. Fight ended and then they moved into C12. Error #4, which becomes apparent a few rounds into the combat. No Knowledge check made on encountering the two new robots, Medical drone and Collector robot. Error #5. Semi-good dice rolls on my part and poor dice rolls on players parts. Error #6 (but like #1, just bad luck). Half-way through encounter group learns they have 0 channels and no spells from Cleric or Bard, only the wand of cure light wounds. Error #7 (this was their seventh encounter in a row I think one of the players said). Collector robot Hardness. Error #8. No one was able to *really* hurt the robot. In the end it was the bard who was two-handing his longsword that did a majority of the damage before the fighter finished it off. Almost every player had been in the negatives, multiple times. It was at that point that fingers were pointed (not really) and a lot of bad blood began to boil.
In the end we discussed a great MANY things. From how I introduced character creation, to suggestions on what to do in these types of encounters (i.e., aid another actions). Point here is we spent a lot of time on this.
As a GM I would HIGHLY suggest other GMs running this keep a close eye on party gear to know if they can handle the encounter. If you even think they may not be able to handle the encounter I would suggest removing the Collector robot from the Science deck and replace it with another Medical drone. Maybe just do the mini advance like I talk about in my previous post if you think the encounter would be to easy for your group.
We took a week off the following week for a birthday party game weekend for the player of Moxie in my RotRL campaign and came back refreshed for this past week.
We did a minor critical shift to a few things we had done the last week with the group returning to Torch. Namely it was my error on not being able to find the actual rules on figuring out tech (Kn. Engineering). So with the Cleric making some awesome rolls was able to figure out a majority of what they had found. Sanvil Trett had showed up at the same time as Dolga with their reward for the return of Khonnir. He offered to explain the rest which he *almost* did. Turns out his skill level was similar to the Cleric. So the group paid him for his services and he got to see everything they had found.
In order to do the Torch Event 3 since the group had only just met Trett, I decided to have him sneak in and get caught. We did this in a narrative mechanic as I am trying to push a story and not just mindless dice rolling. The humorous part for this was that the inn was rigged with bear traps. One of the player characters had some for some reason and once Val saw them, she asked if they could use them to keep an eye on the repair drone corpse to make sure it didn't activate again and used the remaining one at the back door to the inn. Which is where Sanvil was caught on his way out with a few of the really expensive items the group had found. In the end they found the note in his pocket as they made sure he hadn't stolen anything else but didn't know what it meant.
Trett was thrown in jail, which was a great RP session and very humorous. A TRUE comedy of errors. The next day the group split their reward and tried to figure out what to do. I suggested they purchase one adamantine weapon, another wand of cure light wounds and split the remaining 250g among the group. It was decided that was a good idea should they encounter another Collector robot. I *think* we convinced the gunslinger to purchase a few adamantine shots as well. But the 66g cost per shot was to expensive. I plan on saying that as long as you can recover the corpse and take a few minutes you can retrieve the adamantine shot and then remake it into a new alchemical charge. This way you can have 10 or so rounds on you for emergencies and only need time to replenish your capabilities rather than gold. Not sure if the player went that route or not.
We spent a majority of the evening in this phase, i.e., maintenance. The great time killer.
When we picked it back up we had a lively RP session with the group interrogating Sanvil and learning what they could. The investigator/swashbuckler was able to smooth talk out some info with some help from Dolga (essentially a written copy of his release should his information pan out, AFTER a hefty fine was paid for his transgression and the required tax for the Technic League). This meant the group would get his monetary wealth and Sanvil would keep his "gear and merchandise." Which in turn meant he would have to sell his merchandise to have some cash. His fear of failure meant that he wouldn't be telling the Technic League what happened but you never know what villains will do in the end. Right now he will be locked up until the end of book 1 at the minimum to ensure the group isn't interrupted. I also seeded the 'anyone could be a Technic League spy.' Not for any particular reason but just to remind the group of how they operate.
With this done the group scouted out the warehouse and then threw me a curve ball. I expected sneaking in and subduing the catwalk guards and then the main altercation with Garmen. They did sneak in and did a great job, but then they pulled out the Bluff card. The investigator/swashbuckler tried to con the two ropefists to leave as he had orders from Garmen. What the player didn't know was that Garmen was in the warehouse. They did the assault/scout during the early afternoon. I figured there would be a 50/50 chance he would be there if they had gone at night.
Well the Bluff was amazing but the fact Garmen was there had them pensive. It also didn't help that more and more of the party slowly walked in. Suddenly the two ropefists were outnumbered and unsure what was happening. The player then stepped into the stairwell in the office area and then started a new bluff trying to convince Garmen that his character was an unscrupulous technic league spy offering to keep silent on his dealings if he turns over all his "tech." This roll wasn't as good and we roll played a fair amount before it turned into a fight.
All I did was mini advance the four ropefist thugs and Garmen, As well as give them max hit points. The fight went rather well with a few sneak attacks from the thugs, and the fact they punch rather hard made it interesting. The only player that went down was the investigator/swashbuckler when Garmen feint attacked him twice, one of them a critical. He almost died to be honest. The Bard and Cleric were able to immediately take care of the damage the thugs caused when they hit. Garmin was pretty bad assed but they got him when the fighters dice woke up. That player has a rotten time with luck and dice.
So when we pick up this weekend we will be starting with the group completing the repairs on the power coupling and then returning to the tunnels under Black Hill.
Also the group was around 400 xp away from 3rd level so I had them level their characters then but the characters were still down the 400 from level but this way it wouldn't slow down the next week and we could get going with little delay.
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Ahh, the sound of new book bindings creaking, always a rewarding sound! I had to replace my old journal as it suffered a significant amount of damage in the last trip underground due to an upset automaton pounding my body into pulp several times. However I was glad I had my journal as I am sure it saved me from a final blow from the angry machine by providing just enough extra padding that my lungs were not destroyed!
It seems that our jolly band of treasure hunters needs to work on our communication skills a bit, lest we suffer another round of near-extinction! After we wrapped up in the room with the dead prisoners we decided to continue on and explore just one or two more rooms before we retreated to regain our strength. For whatever reason, it did not get clearly communicated that our cleric and bard were basically out of their magical abilities for the day. Also some of the more physically inclined party members failed to disclose exactly how hurt they were from the previous encounters. Looking back, it is pretty easy to see how we ended up nearly all dead and just another footnote in the history of Torch.
Anyway the rescue of Khonnir was accomplished, but it was almost an end to our troupe. We encountered these two automatons and they were a significant challenge for us. Yes we were depleted and out of resources, but even if we had our full complement of spells we were still unprepared for what we faced. One of the machines seemed to just want to inject some sort of sleeping poison into us then the other one would scoop you up and pound on you. The first machine was not horribly difficult to deal with and even though it managed to cause some issues it was tackled fairly quickly. The second one was an entirely different story.
As it turned out, almost nothing we had in our arsenal was strong enough to get through the additional armor and padding built into that foe. Even with my ability to find and exploit weak spots, we were unable to do more than chip off dust or occasionally ding the outer shell. The one guy we were really hoping to make the difference by using his earthbreaker seemed to be unable to hit or when he did the machine would jerk just to the side and cause the hit to glance off. The fight dragged out and part members were falling left and right so Alexis and I decided to just grab Khonnir out of the metal cage he was in and make a break for it. Well it turns out that the machine did not want to let Khonnir go and instead of focusing on the combatants directly surrounding it, followed Alexis and I as we tried to escape. This of course ended up with us being beaten unconscious, then healed back from a magic wand, then beaten down again, rinse repeat.
Eventually the bard ended up saving the day by landing some especially critical hits while using his longsword two handed. We learned that we did not have the correct tools for that job so we needed to correct that situation. We returned Khonnir to Torch but had to seek some immediate help as his mind had been diminished to almost that of a feral beast due to some sort of mechanical disease called nan-ite-is or nanbots or nanites or something like that. But a couple of days under the care of the local healer and Khonnir was back to his old self.
(OOC) – So, as UseplanB said, this night was uber frustrating and it was our fault as party members and also the encounter being something we as a group were not ready to handle. Because we only play every Friday night, we somehow forgot to go over the fact that we had not rested at the end of last Friday and so were all still hurt and out of spells. So yeah, rookie mistake and dumb of us. However the fight we ran into was hard enough that it would not have mattered if we had all our abilities and I encourage GMs to think about it very carefully before getting here. We ran into something that had a hardness value that none of us were prepared to handle. Our group has never been the most strategically minded so we almost never run away from a fight, so we even tried that and it didn’t work. We also almost never use the assist other function so we didn’t think about that until it was too late. So don’t be afraid to offer some gentle nudging or ideas if your group doesn’t have a lot of heavy hitters.
After returning to town and seeing that Khonnir was safely taken care of, we did what any other adventuring group does and focused our efforts on getting paid for our efforts, selling our finds, and getting some much needed rest. I mostly spent my time around the tavern resting and regaining my strength. I know Grym and the singer spent some time meeting with a local Sanvil Trett and had some of our finds evaluated and traded. That ended up leading to Trett trying to sneak in and steal some of our tastier things later that night. It did not work out so well for him as he found one of the bear traps Aiden had left about as protection. It basically mutilated his leg and alerted us to his presence. He had waited until the very darkest hours of the night while we were all sound asleep but we caught him.
I searched him and found our stuff but I also found a slip of paper with our names all listed as well some other folks in town. We went around and interviewed the folks and ended up talking with Garmen about why his name was on the list or if he knew anything about a warehouse that was also written down. He of course, as a fine upstanding citizen had no idea what we were talking about. We had a feeling he wasn’t being honest so we dropped it at that and left.
After some interrogation of Trett at some later point we learned that he was a member of the League and that Garmen was a major crime boss in the area. We also learned that he might be hiding some things of value in his warehouse across town. This of course led us to checking the place out the next day. We cased the place and found that it was disguised to look abandoned but that there was one entrance that had been recently used. After employing some heroic lock-picking skills I was able to get us into the place, but that presented a problem. As usual, we had not discussed what we should do if we run into someone on the inside. So upon opening the door and seeing 2 Ropefist guards walking around, well, we had no idea what to do. Our swashbuckler just strutted right past us and started working some bluff magic and found out that Garmen was here.
Well, that presented some problems so we employed our standard tactic of shoot first ask later and jumped into a free for all right there on the catwalk. When I finally rolled into the building I was momentarily slowed by some feeling of sickness that seemed to vibrate in the air but it quickly passed. Later I found out that Garmen had been hiding a particularly rare piece of technology that was causing headaches and sickness all over town. The fight was relatively short in that we were able to handle the Ropefist guards rather quickly even though they really pack a punch (pardon the pun). Garmen nearly gutted our swift-talking fancypant swashbuckler but we were able to gang up on him and eventually bring him down before finishing the job.
So now, we have to figure out what to do with this new piece of tech as we prepare to return to the tunnels below!
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Fresh faced and ready to go the group completed the repair on the power coupling. In this case I had Khonnir make the roll with up to two assists being allowed. Since the cleric has Craft: Mechanics I allowed him to add an assist (assuming he made the DC 10 check) and they paid another smith, someone that Khonnir recommended, to being the second helper. This meant that the group was going to head down into Black Hill the next morning. That's when they did something somewhat unexpected. The dwarf decided to try drinking the fluids from the top of Black Hill.
I will admit that I had mentioned it as a joke to the player (dwarf cleric) who will ALWAYS play with a Deck of Many Things that I was surprised he had left it alone. So he marched up the hill and drank a pint. He failed the addiction roll AND rolled poorly on the Side Effects chart taking 4 CON drain. The player was not amused. That's when another player (elf rogue) decided to do the same as a joke to prove that elves were better than dwarves. He succeeded on his addiction roll and was only nauseated for a few hours but otherwise unharmed. They also, now with the level, have the ability to pick the white access card lock on the box they had discovered in C1a. They managed to figure out some of the grenades, but not all of them. Which is when I explained that the fighters offer to open the box with his earthbreaker would have been "interesting" and they understood.
So the group had a late start getting into Black Hill but eventually made it there. Before taking the elevator ride to the Engineering deck, they poked their head into C11, the last room on the Science deck they had not entered. They easily dispatched the medical drone and moved on with only the rogue having taken any damage. (Honestly, I have no idea why, but I can hit his player ALL NIGHT LONG, and he can see my dice rolls. So all I can do is shrug.)
From here we moved to the Engineering deck, the group opting not to try and check the other levels first. I also moved over to 'correctly' using surprise rules and the encounter with the dogs in D1 went well, but rather easy. Again, I used the mini-advance rules on them as well as give them max health. We were 5 players strong at that point with the swashbuckler/investigator arriving at the end of the fight. The 'ding' the elevator making when the door opened explaining to the group why the dogs were alerted to their presence.
They did a quick scout of the long tunnel to the north but stopped after a few minutes to return. From here they went D3/D4 south in order of rooms. In this case they encountered the same number of Fanatics and Scrappers as the AP lists, albeit mini-advanced with max health. It was at this point the dice went ice cold for me. I couldn't even hit the elf, that's how bad they went. Still the Fanatics surprised the group when they didn't fall when they should have. Of course, I did another error here and should have had them fall when their negative HP hit their CON. In the end it didn't matter they were never really a threat with my dice rolls. They enacted 'super-loot' rules, ie me giving them everything on the corpses and the player with the highest Perception roll the room Treasure. In the case of multiple treasures, I will split that loot up among the players with the high rolls so as to include everyone.
Instead of pushing further east, they moved south as I mentioned earlier. Checking the hallway just to the south of D4 then moving to D2 and successfully disabling the "trap." (Great roll by the rogue there.) Then moved down to the next hall before returning to D2 and then moving into D8.
As a GM I was a little torn here as to how this should play out but it worked out rather well in the end. We used the surprise rules since the door opening was obvious to Gruethur although he didn't see anyone. In this case the rogue scouting was working as was his awesome stealth roll. He spotted Gruethur because he is painfully obvious but as far as the rogue could tell he was just another statue, except made of stone. The rogue motioned for the group to follow but kept his eye on the statue since it was so out of place. At that point Gruethur sees the group enter and attacks. I had him speaking in Terran the whole time using words such as "unworthy" since the Terran language is slow to speak. This fight though turned out to be a TOUGH fight. Mostly because the fighter went down early. I had Gruethar spread his attacks out and only focus all his attacks when a character injured him, ie. more than 5 points after DR. This had the rogue down, the fighter down and had almost dropped the cleric. I believe I had chewed a bit into the Bard and Gunslinger, but had ignored the swashbucker/investigator since he wasn't causing any real damage. The humorous part of the evening was Gruethur making a snide remark to the cleric about his god not being worthy here, and then the cleric had a critical hit with his magical hammer (from the original Brigh adventurers) and doing an obscene amount of damage when he only had 3 HP left.
We ended the night there with the group having healed everyone and engaging 'super-loot' phase.
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So it appears that whatever that broken piece of tech was we salvaged out the lift was turned out to be pretty easy to fix. It only took Khonnir an hour to get the thing bent back into whatever shape it needed to be back into. Now that we have corrected that particular problem, it means it’s time to wander back down into the interesting spaces below the Hill. We made our way back down below and placed the piece back into the correct setting and suddenly things start lighting up and working again.
There was what turned out to be a final room to explore that held one of those machines that liked to stick needles in your body. We were able to dispatch it quickly but not before it got in a good shot on me and sliced open my side as I moved to flank it. A quick spell from our bard and I was good as new.
We discussed it for a bit and decided that we should try and check out what awaited us above. As the lift doors opened on the top floor, a small chime rang out announcing our arrival. This alerted several large dog-like creatures with spiked collars and overly large fangs that dinner was being served. They were lounging about upon piles of old bones, tattered cloth scraps, and various other bits of debris but they were certainly quick enough to leap into the fray as we spilled out of the lift. I think I am starting to learn some strategy as even though I was the quickest to react to the situation, I allowed others in my troupe to dance ahead of me and engage the beasts so that I might better find a flanking position to attack from. The fight went surprisingly well and we were able to dispatch the fiends with little effort, only some minor scrapes and wounds amongst we the intrepid heroes.
This room that we had found was oddly shaped in a sort of half circle with many doors along the flat wall ahead. I decided to start from the left in an orderly fashion and doing my best to be silent I opened the first portal. I was certainly surprised to see two half-orcs and three ratman-type creatures beyond the entrance wearing an odd assortment of make-shift armor and improvised weaponry salvaged from rather large bits and pieces of sharp metal and broken tech found lying about. Thankfully I was able to duck out of sight before they noticed me. I signaled back to the group and they prepared for the engagement. The group braced for combat as the scavengers ran out and started attacking. Some fantastic swordplay was on display as we traded shots back and forth. At one point I was even balanced up on a rail stabbing down at the green-skinned brutes. I found a weak point in their defense and exploited it deftly, killing the beast. While I was bounding about the battle my allies were also doing well as they were able to defeat the poorly equipped creatures. The fight wrapped up quickly and we were able to continue with our explorations.
I opened a second door and found a trap unlike anything I had seen before. Bold green arcs of electricity bounded back and forth from small projections in the walls of the small hallway. It took me some time to find the mechanism that disabled the lighting. After bravely walking through I found another interesting room behind another door. The room featured a broad staircase prominently featured in the center leading up to a raised balcony area. Off to my right I quickly spotted a suspicious looking statue that resembled one of those ghastly gargoyles I’ve often seen decorating important buildings around town. It sat between two large burning brazier’s which seemed odd to me. I’ve read in other journals of explorers describing similar scenes and I always wondered if it were true? Where were the stacks of wood that would be required to fuel such things? Where would the smoke from the burning go? Who stokes the fires and keeps them running? Well, I have no answers to any of those questions, but sure enough there were two of them burning happily away in the center of these tunnels deep below ground. Odd.
Anyway, it turns out that I was right to be nervous about the statue as it was a living beast. I guess it didn’t notice me but it did notice my friends and it quickly came alive and flew over to assault them. The fight was very tough because of the beast’s thick hide that seemed to be able to deflect our blades and offer it some significant protection. Eventually I and Aiden fell below the mighty blows of the living stone fists and claws, thankfully the rest of the group was able to finish off the creature and then tend to our wounds.
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Where to start? The last several days run together and it's difficult to keep facts straight. While pleased with Khonnir's return, it's obvious that Jorum is less than pleased with the disruption of my studies; even Khonnir's patience seems to be wearing thin waiting for a written report of our findings that he might study at length. Apparently, spending all my time elbow-deep in my comrades, keeping them upright in our continuing battles just isn't enough(effective range of zero meters, and all that). Thankfully, She sees that my heart and will are true, and hasn't abandoned our struggle.
The recovery of Khonnir, explorations of the hill, Trett of the Technic League, Gharmin and the Fists, and the meddling of troublesome entities yet to be identified. All these distractions keep side-tracking us from the original goal, getting the fething Flame rekindled. There was something about a purple haired woman(?), but it's hard to focus when spending most of my effort trying to keep down breakfast.
Assisted Khonnir repairing the power coupling, and we made ready to return under the Hill. Cleared the last room on this level of automatons, Aiden's new toy seems to be quite effective. Now to get him wrapped in some fancy metals so he stays on his feet. Tyriis managed to reconnect the coupling with only minor scorching, my training is sorely lacking in this area. It's going to be a long, bloody process of OJT to catch up. Decended to Eng to look for the problem, found some hungry dogs. They went down fairly quick, and we poked around for a bit. Opening a door, the elf found some orcs and ratmen(?) equipped with reclaimed scrap. They attempted to reclaim us, but we put up a better fight than the surrounding rooms. No idea how long they've been here, or how they got in; we barely made it, and there's a trail of vital fluids to prove it.
Opened a main passageway to discover an elaborate barrier; arcs of green energy shooting back and forth at random intervals. Choosing not to test the physical effects, Tyriis carefully studied and shut the thing down(note to self, Really need to figure this stuff out). Moved into a multi-level room where the elf pointed out an oddity. It looked like a cornerpiece the stuffier religions use to decorate their halls, but this one flew up and dove into the party. We took turns pounding the thing, but weren't making much headway; even Aiden's toy was less than hoped. Tried Brigh's hammer and was rewarded with a clean hit, and partial disembowelment in return. The group was slowly falling to it's attacks, and in it's hubris, the creature slighted Brigh's power to effect events; She was not amused! The hammer may have glowed, but my arm shot forward, and the creature exploded in a cloud of gravel. I again pledge myself to She who has my back.
Moved among the bodies and found all to be at least breathing. Got everyone upright, and glanced around to see many odd devices and a false alter to an imaginary deity. This could take some time to unravel.
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Well, after a couple of months off due to holidays, family, and folks being away we are back in the saddle… Let the fun commence!
Well, well, well. I finally get some time to get back to my journal. I regret that I have been distracted of late as details begin to slip if not written down quickly. However after finishing up our romp through the halls of the ship below Torch we had a bit of cash in our pocket and some pent up stress that needed to be taken care of which kept us busy for a few days. The band of merry adventurers has been spending loot, buying trinkets, and seeking the company of the fairer kind while we explore our next moves.
I guess I should mention that we were all surprised to discover that the giant flame that makes Torch and Black Hill such a destination for metalsmiths and crafters was a lot more complicated that we expected. The giant flames that burst from the ground above are the result of a broken bit of technology down below. I say bit, but it was actually a massive room sized bit of machinery that I don’t understand at all. Morgrym described it as the power source for the entire ship and that after all of these many many years it was still working, kind of. The machinery is damaged and degraded and the flames are a result of energy building up and having to release which is why it is hotter and better than any other flames in the land. The interesting part is that someone else found out about the source of the flame and has been trying to divert the leaking energy to another source by using some kind of transmitter. This transmitter is why the flames stopped, which we decided to take for ourselves to figure out.
The details are a bit foggy as the brews that they make in this small town are surprisingly strong, but somewhere along the line we decided to stick together and see where this leads. We gathered ourselves, refreshed and repacked our supplies, and headed out. At this point I am just following Morgrym and Raimden around as I’m sure they know where they are going. Our travels began well enough, however a couple of things have happened.
Firstly we ran into a trail of robotic footprints the size of small wagons! Their course and heading were similar to ours, but not parallel, so it appears we missed whatever massive creature is owner of those paws. Our bard, who seems to be knowledgeable of a great many things, did some scouting about and thinks that whatever it was, it had multiple legs similar to that of a spider. I had heard rumors back in Torch about a giant robot wandering the wastes but at that time I had brushed it off as silly nonsense, now I am not so sure…
The next day started out as any other, Morgrym woke us at dawn with his prayers and I was stiff from sleeping on the hard ground. We each went about our normal routines as we nourished our bodies and prepared for more walking. Early that morning, right in the middle of a wonderful discussion about local legends, the ground collapsed and swallowed up a good half of the group! In our travels we tend to keep the softer targets in the middle so that anything that may happen to surprise us has to fight to the middle. Well when it turns out the middle can’t react quickly enough to dodge reflexively, that creates a problem for the rest of us. Thankfully our bard was able to react with lightning speed and cast some sort of falling spell that kept our friends from being hurt. However as they lightly touched down in the ring of light that was created by the hole in the ground they fell through, all we could do was watch as they started shouting up to us about shuffling tech-mashed undead that were slowly moving in for a freshly delivered dinner!
I quickly grabbed the rope off my pack and lashed it to the pommel of my sword with a sailors knot, and then rammed the sword down into the ground to serve as an anchor point to rappel down into the void. There were no trees or large rocks as the lands we were travelling through were pretty barren. The trick worked for me, however one of the *ahem* heavier members of the group tried to climb down after me and instead succeeded in pulling my blade free of the ground. There goes our way out… Anyway we landed in some long long forgotten underground building or temple that was home to a sizable army of undead that had been experimented on, I guess? They had massive drill bits for arms and other pieces of what appeared to be random pieces of tech wired in to their bodies but they all wanted one thing, our blood!
Long story short, we were able to fight our way out as we explored several rooms and we ran into many packs of the nasty zombies. Of interest is that they were all slightly different and we were able to learn which ones had different traits and how to fight them. We also found the creature that had raised them all back to life, a nasty (although surprisingly physically attractive) tiefling type caster that was raising her own army! Our group did a fantastic job of engaging her and her troops so that we suffered only minimal damage. The only other thing that stood in our way was some crazy type of plant that barred the door out, any time we got close it would shoot roots out at us and then fling clouds of spores at us. I don’t know what the spores were fore, but I didn’t particularly want to play host!
My turn for watch is coming up, so I must retire from writing for now. I will have more time to record my thoughts now that we are travelling again, so I will get back to this soon!
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Yeah, Im way behind on updating my end of the story and GM rules.
First let me say that doing the everyone roll Perception at the end of a conflict is a great way to go to speed up play. Rather than yell, super loot and heal me, there is a chance for everyone to discover something while patching wounds, checking gear, checking loot, general information gathering etc. It also allows the party to find those random bits that are somewhat hidden in room descriptions that I would feel guilty not giving out because no one said they were investigating "there."
Last week we got back into the game after almost a two-month hiatus for the holidays and family obligations.
We lost our gunslinger as the player wasn't having much fun with the class so he introduced the new sorcerer/wizard (arcanist I believe).
I had him be our first introduction to the rumors of a giant robot in the area as he stumbled upon a witness to its actions. I set the story with him riding a caravan from Hajoth Hakados (he's also an elf and very distantly related to the rogue). Along the way north they come across a Kellid carrying an enormous amount of gear. Essentially everything the guy could retrieve from the ripped apart caravan he came across. The description of all the pack animals being riddled with bullets, as well as the ground and a few of the caravaners. The rest of the caravan was just "missing."
All of this was a set up to how I was going to run a small XP encounter to give the group some XP as the second book said they should be 4th at the start. They are part way through 3rd right now.
The size of the annihilator robot weakened the ground in an area that the group traveled over on their way to Scrapwall. So I set up a trap with a 30 ft fall centered on the group as they walked in a line. The Reflex DC was 12 for the outer members (#1 and 6 in the line), DC 14 for the next inner group (#2 and 5 in the line) and DC 16 for the middle members (#3 and 4 in the line) to avoid the collapsing roof. I used the underground map from the Tech flip mats as the area for these encounters.
I called it the Halls of Fen the Despicable. Where Fen is a NPC codex rebuild of the Battle Mage to a Necromancer with the Fiendish template applied. The area was a mix of various types of Zombies (plague, fast and normal) and Rust Risen (different types here as well). There was also a Yellow Musk Creeper and a few zombie creepers as well. The idea was that Fen was being blocked from getting more test subjects by the Creeper and was building up her group to kill it and clear a path for her to find more Kellids to necro-tize.
So I set up a total of 4 encounters for the group which is an APL of 4. The first two encounters were Challenging CR5, the third being Hard CR6 and the final being Average CR4.
Encounter 1 was 5 Zombies and 1 Rust Risen (metal jaw, steel clad).
Encounter 2 was 2 Fast Zombies and 2 Rust Risen (both arm drill and metal jaw)
Encounter 3 was 2 Rust Risen (arm drill and steel clad), 1 Plague Zombie, 2 Fast Zombies and Fen.
Encounter 3 was a Yellow Musk Creeper and 3 Musk Creepers.
They went through it pretty well. The dice got a little cold on me for the night and we had a few crits from the group that just outright murdered what they hit. I enjoyed the fight and the creation of the BBEG as I never make wizards.
I know of one more random encounter I have rolled up before they reach Scrapwall with the possibility of 1 or 2 more before they make it but haven't rolled yet.
I will try and keep up to date again as my time allows. Real life sucks.
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LOL. I hear you about "real life" vs. "gaming"!
- Yeah, I've just gone with "who has the highest Take 10 Perception?", I give them everything that grants them, and if they don't think it's enough they can fiddle about and roll. But it's more fun to give them the loot and tell them the story than to watch them roll dice.
- One of my players had the same reaction to his gunslinger. Admittedly, he's only 11, but the rules for grit points, when the bullets were touch AC and when they were full AC, and so forth, just made it more of a bookkeeping exercise than a character. Gunslingers are supposed to start shining at level 7, but that's when he quit his, and sounds like your gunslinger quit before that.
Anyway, happy to have a thread of your group's to read again! I've been missing them!
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Ah, quickly now, I must commit my thoughts to paper before they begin to fade. Hopefully the light from the burning wagons will last long enough for me to complete my thoughts…
It was a fairly uneventful rest of the trip north from Torch, which we were thankful for after falling into that pit of undead. The group seemed jumpy and skittish the last few days, each of us waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop as we each built up our own worst expectations in our minds while we trudged quietly along towards Scrapwall. It seems as if the joyous times carousing in Torch were not enough to battle back the uneasiness we all harbored, so the march north was a near silent affair.
The day before we expected to reach Scrapwall we happened up on curious sight that of course resulted in conflict as is the norm for our little band of heroes. The terrain we were travelling across was not particularly rugged but the rolling hills and valleys did make it difficult to see very far off into the distance. This is why we were able to avoid detection as we came out of one of these small valleys and spotted a Gearsman and a Collector robot leading a trio of prisoners or captives in chains. We were able to approach undetected, upon revealing our presence the Gearsman blasted the area with a deep resonating tone that caused my ribs to rattle in my chest! It warned in Androffan that we were not to interfere with Technic League business or we would be dealt with severely. Well, we don’t have any particular love for the Technic League so the opportunity to interrupt their plans (no matter how small) was too good to pass up. A swirling melee ensued but it seemed that the lances of lightning Tharion flung about were the real work horses in that battle and they really turned the tide against our heavily armored opponents. After defeating the robots, we passed some extra weapons and food rations to the prisoners after releasing them from their bonds. They thanked us and headed off on their own.
Oh, I forgot to mention, my cousin Tharion has joined us from home. He was sent by father to check up on me after some of my reports made their way home and of course father was ever concerned that I would be unable to take care of things. After the departure of our gunslinger at the conclusion of our activities in Torch, having an arcanist add his power to our arsenal has been a real blessing. Also it is very nice to have someone fluent in our native tongue nearby so that we may discuss matters in the appropriate manner.
It took a week of travel from Torch, but we finally crested a barren and shrub covered hilltop that offered a distant view of Scrapwall. We can see the fort of Aldronard’s Grave sitting on the west bank and the eyesore that is Scrapwall rising from the dust on the east bank. We wandered through a few more wadis and washes losing sight of Aldronard’s Grave for a bit. When we came back into the flatlands leading down towards the river valley we suddenly spot thick black smoke rolling up from the fort where before there had been none. Tharion and I decided to scout ahead under cover to see what was happening. We encountered a couple of guards on the fort wall that tried to convince us they were burning plague-infested corpses. We immediately noticed they had a very strange manner of speaking, their words were in the common tongue, but their pronunciation was weird and they formed their words with accents I had never encountered before. Tharion and I quickly retreated and gathered the others as we were sure that something dastardly was underway.
As we approached the front of Aldronard’s Grave, the soldiers inside waived to us and called out that if we were determined to help burn the bodies then they would welcome our efforts. Again their odd speech patterns assaulted my ears but I thought little of it. Several of us cautiously stepped towards the portcullis and as we passed through the archway the gate was dropped and their ambush unleashed! Raimden and I dived forward out of the path of the falling gate while Morgrym and Aiden fell backwards outside. Poor Menas was so surprised that he was unable to react in time and was pinned beneath the points of the falling portcullis. Raimden and I could only shrug and we looked at each other and then drew blades to face our attackers. We were heavily outnumbered however we could tell by the way they held their blades that they were not as skilled with their weapons as we were with our own. Raimden quickly dived into a group of them and was immediately surrounded but his ability to deflect and riposte served him well as we was able to fend off most of their attacks. Some blades got through but they did mostly superficial damage. As I approached one warily, I quickly discovered the reason for their odd accents as each of them had cut off their own lips leaving their grisly gums and gnarly teeth exposed and protruding from their faces!
Raimden and I were forced to defend ourselves for a few seconds while Aiden and Morgrym tried desperately to lift the portcullis but after a few attempts it became clear they were not up to the task. I had to valiantly dive into the gatehouse, risking life and limb, to use the winches to lift the gate. That was even more challenging while I was forced to dodge the attacks of two of the lipless mongrels. Thankfully the combination of their poor quality blades and obviously ill-fitting armor that they had scavenged proved to be a blessing as it hampered their efforts to stop me! Eventually I was able to lift the portcullis a few feet and allow the rest of our group to join the fight. Once the others waded into the battle, it was quickly finished but not before Aiden hit one of them with his earthbreaker so hard that the vile ganger literally exploded like a blood filled wine skin smashed beneath the wheel of a carriage! Tharion and Menas were bathed in blood and I am sure they will not soon forget that day!
Afterwards we explored what was left of the fort and found things that turned my stomach. The lipless ones had assaulted those occupying the space and were working on flaying and fileting their bodies for dinner! We found horses and humans in various stages of butchery, their skin hanging from makeshift hooks being smoked and saved for dinner. We also found some horribly beaten (and I assumed tenderized) survivors that we immediately set about healing and getting them back in shape. We had the unfortunate task of informing them of the indignities inflicted upon their companions, but the news was taken as well as possible by the stoic paladin leading them.
We learned some of the history of this place, but the most intriguing point is that locked away behind those doors directly opposite of me wanders the spirit of Aldronard himself, still around and haunting any that would dare venture inside. The warning not to enter of course only piqued our interest further and I wanted to scribble down the events thus far before anything else happens, just in case we do decide to investigate this specter further. I shall report back more once we make our decision and if I survive, the results of our exploration! So exciting!