Band of Misfits -- A Return of the Runelords Campaign Journal


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Dear Diary,

Things went very poorly for us at first.

The transit through the portal to Alaznist's realm temporarily caught Azriel in some unknown space between realms, and it wrenched away many of the carefully cast spells we had prepared ourselves with. I lost, among others, Haste, False Life, See Invisible, Stoneskin, Brilliant Inspiration, Freedom of Movement, Tongues, Message, Glibness, Fins to Feet, Protection from Evil, Protection from Cold, Protection from Acid, and Resist Cold, Acid, and Electricity. Fortunately, some of the ones that remained to me, Including Sonic Form, Fly, Shadowbard, Mirror Image, and Protection from Fire and Electricity, proved very useful indeed.

When we arrived, it was at a stone island in the middle of a lake of lava, with a bridge leading to Alaznist's golden throne. She was waiting there for us, along with two Rune Giants, two Sinspawn Slayers, and a Clockwork Goliath. Our words were short; we enjoined battle immediately. It began with an attempt to wrest the timeline itself back and forth, with Alaznist ultimately proving victorious and acting before any of the rest of us could do so.

She led with a Time Stop that allowed her to layer buff spells on herself, Haste the Rune Giants, and catch Szarlej in a Crushing Fist. I managed to escape being caught in a cage of force, but my attempt to dispel the magical fist around Szarlej failed. He managed to escape thanks to a spell of Nine Lives he had retained, but soon after one of the Rune Giants swept him straight into the lava lake with an Awesome Blow.

It was not an auspicious start.

We got our first piece of good fortune when I managed to sing so beautifully that one of the Rune Giants immediately died of sheer joy. The first time I have ever seen the capstone Bard Ability used at all, much less used successfully. Alaznist threw a Mythic Meteor Swarm at Akkumsah and myself, but between the monk's evasions and my remaining spells, it did little damage. As Szarlej climbed out of the lake of lava, still burning, clinging to the side of the rocky island, Akkumsah and I swept forward and the battle began in earnest ...

To Be Continued.


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Dear Diary,

It was at this point I began to employ a tactic which, I am not too humble to say, I believe may have turned the tide of the battle for us. Every time I was able, I waited until Alaznist attempted to cast a spell, and then I tried to counter it with a Greater Dispel Magic. I believe that, over the course of the battle, I prevented her from casting a Maximized Chain Lightning, a Maximized Disintegrate, a Wish, a Time Stop, and a Finger Of Death. Even so, she hurled quickened spells upon us, and on the occasions when for one reason or another I was unable to counter her, her spells were potent indeed. Meanwhile, I assisted my allies where I could by Inspiring their Courage and providing Gallant Inspirations and Saving Finales, while my Shadowbard attacked with Weird Words, to mixed effect.

Akkumsah had charged solo into the melee, and soon was surrounded by both Sinspawn Slayers, who proved unexpectedly tough, and the Clockwork Goliath, whose cannonballs had done little to that point, but who proved to be a fearsome melee foe. While one of the Sinspawn soon perished at Akkumsah's hands, between the three of them they were able to bring her unconscious. Meanwhile, Szarlej cast a Greater Dispel Magic of his own, which annihilated many of Alaznist's defenses save for a Mirror Image, and then cast a spell of flight to escape the other Rune Giant. It was around this point that Azriel appeared, turned into an earth elemental and hid within the rock, and began summoning Storm Giants, eventually calling three of them to our aid. To roc Wind flew forward to assist with the melee battle.

Szarlej being unable to reach Akkumsah in time, I flew down and healed her, and Alaznist used the opportunity to cast a Mythic Maximized Chain Lightning. Once again, it had less efect than she had hoped, but we knew that if she cast enough of them, they would eventually pierce our defenses.

It was about then that the Qlippoth appeared.

Massive, hideous, it burst forth from the lava even as the molten rock burned through its resistance to fire. We all thought that the battle was about to turn against us once again ...

To Be Continued.


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Dear Diary,

Much to our surprise, the Qlippoth promptly attacked everybody, both ourselves and Alaznist and her allies, hurling beams of disintegration around the room like they were on sale at the market. One Storm Giant was brought near death, but otherwise everyone was able to evade the bulk of their effects. The one that struck me made me temporarily larger, for reasons I cannot fathom.

Wind, Akkumsah, and the Storm Giants managed to defeat the remaining Sinspawn and the Clockwork Goliath, but not without receiving so many grievous wounds that they were both of them on the brink of perishing. Happily, Szarlej, concentrating with all his might, just barely managed to ignore the combined distractions of the Rune Giant and the Qlippoth and cast a spell of Mass Heal upon them, which likely prevented the battle from taking a dire turn.

Akkumsah turned her attentions to Alaznist, who had managed to supplement her Mirror Images with a Displacement by this time, while her ranseur hurled lightning bolts at us. Nonetheless, in spite of the difficulties, the monk landed a blow, which did not pierce the Runelord's defenses. I attempted to assist with sonic attacks, but she was well-defended against those in some way, and they did no damage. It was hard not to notice that, well into the battle, we had done no damage to Alaznist at all.

The Qlippoth chose this moment to reveal its true, even more hideous form, which blinded Wind and all the Storm Giants, and made their minds feeble. Szarlej, or Azriel, or both, dispelled Alaznist's defenses once again, and Akkumsah was able to pummel her with blows, at last dealing damage to our ultimate foe, Everyone but Azriel stepped in to assist. And I think it was around this point the the final Rune Giant was dispatched; I honestly cannot recall how she died.

The Qlippoth then attempted to cast an Imprisonment upon Alaznist! She was able to resist it, however. Alaznist, beset on all sides, managed to cast a Time Stop. She healed herself completely, replaced her Displacement, and fled to a different part of the cavern. It was to be the Runelord's last great spell.

While Wind the Roc battled solo against the great Qlippoth, the rest of us pursued her. We quickly had her surrounded again. My attempt to slay her with music failed, but the physical assaults of Azriel and Akkumsah proved her undoing. In a final act of defiance, she slashed Szarlej with her ranseur, and then Akkumsah knocked her out.

And I, as I had vowed, ripped her heart out of her chest and devoured it.

To Be Continued ...


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Dear Diary,

When the Runelord perished, the Qlippoth vanished from the cavern. Reality began folding in on itself. We tried to find a way to escape, but

Time

Closed

In

And

we appeared outside Hollow Mountain. But to our shock, the Gulf of Varisia was not visible. The mountain was no longer on an island, but among the fields and hills of the mainland.

We had been transported thousands of years in the past, before Earthfall. We had fixed our own timeline, but been expelled from it, back before Alaznist's first attempts at meddling with time.

We won. Yay?

I am separated from Audrahni by a gulf of millennia.

At least I know that she lives. Will live. Will have a life, although it may be without me. I do not know if I will ever find my way back to her.

I do not know if I will ever find my way back.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Gah! What an ending! O_O Blessed goddess... wow. Simply... wow.


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I am home.

I suppose I should feel worse about being marooned in the distant past of my former life and all I held dear in it, but then, I have felt unrooted in it for as long as I can remember. This time is different: It welcomes me like rich black soil does a sapling's root. I belong here.

It will take some time for us to regain our bearings here — even between our extensive studies of history and the glimpses into Thassilonian life I gleaned during my training, we know next to nothing about the true nature of life in this era. We do know the Runelords are not only alive, but at the apex of their power here; even after our victory over our version of Alaznist, we cannot expect to stand against even one of them in direct confrontation and live. In any case, even if we could kill a Runelord before their time, it would mean derailing the timeline that we strove to restore, and all would be for nought. I suppose we will have to seek a quieter life now.

We do not even have a way to ascertain that the Varisia of this timeline has been restored to a semblance of what we remember, although we seem to agree on an intuitive level that this is likely the case. In any case, it is out of our hand now; we have done our part. I should be long past such vanity, but I admit I do retain a hope that, through some curious property of the laws of time, our names and our needs remain known in Varisia. But what does it matter?

At any rate, I had an epiphany on the eve of our battle with Alaznist. I finally saw in its entirety the wisdom of the Thassilonian masters I had studied for so long: The secret purpose of their order was not merely to attain power or perfection, but specifically to provide a weapon against the Runelords if ever it would be needed. Through my visions, I had received that knowledge exactly when the need for such a weapon was greatest.

With that in mind, I had vowed to myself to do my part to safeguard this knowledge — after all, even if we did prevail against Alaznist, Sorshen and Belimarius would remain alive and powerful, and others might attempt to take up the mantle of the fallen Runelords. I resolved to found my own monastery and teach a new generation of Monks in this sacred art, for as long as a Runelord lives, so should the knowledge on how to slay them.

I can no longer teach them now, with millennia separating them from me, but I put my faith in Master Ko and my fellow students who studied the art with me. May the Master of Masters guide them as he did me. Meanwhile, I will do what I can on my side of the great divide to help this knowledge survive into the Varisian age. I will seek the monastery at which I studied and join the masters in their efforts to perfect Thassilonian martial arts and help it endure through the millennia. Should the monastery not yet exist at this current age, I suppose I will have no choice but to found it myself.

And who knows, maybe Varisia has not seen the last of me. The most accomplished of Monks have been known to stop aging entirely — who is to say that I might not live that long?

PS: I admit I was hoping to found my own monastery somewhere warm where mangoes and pineapples and vanilla grow. Now I suppose I'll have to settle for the stark beauty of the Storval mountains again. But this is a prosperous age; surely I can arrange for regular supply caravans?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Akkumsah wrote:
With that in mind, I had vowed to myself to do my part to safeguard this knowledge — after all, even if we did prevail against Alaznist, Sorshen and Belimarius would remain alive and powerful, and others might attempt to take up the mantle of the fallen Runelords. I resolved to found my own monastery and teach a new generation of Monks in this sacred art, for as long as a Runelord lives, so should the knowledge on how to slay them.

So how likely do you think it is that Akkumsah's training lessons originated from Akkumsah herself, passed along through Master Ko and many generations of Masters in the last 10,000 years?…


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Olwen wrote:
So how likely do you think it is that Akkumsah's training lessons originated from Akkumsah herself, passed along through Master Ko and many generations of Masters in the last 10,000 years?…

According to my backstory, the monastery was abandoned at some point (certainly during Earthfall?) and only resettled in recent times. As such, the lore most likely didn't get handed down through 10 millennia.

However, Akkumsah gleaned the secrets of the Thassilonian style from her temporal visions while training at the monastery's ruin, which allowed her to observe the ancient Thassilonian inhabitants during their training. Now I know why — she was there herself! She must have seen those training session THROUGH HER OWN EYES. >:) It's basic quantum-ki-dynamics!

Now, if she taught those secrets to herself, where did they originate? I suppose she developed them herself during the events of Return of the Runelords... after all, she started out as a rather normal 1st-level Monk and only gained all her special abilities during the adventure.

In retrospect, it seems exactly like something Irori, the Master of Masters, would do. Rather than teach your students, let them teach themselves. :D


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Dear readers — we'll be playing Strange Aeons next, and we'll have our first session tonight. Wish us luck and sanity, and stay tuned for our new campaign journal!


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Welph, I guess the characters' sanity is still reasonably okay after a 4h session. As for the players, I can't say for sure… :-p

And, on my side, it starts here.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Loved this campaign. I was running RotRL right along with this, and reading how other players handled it was very helpful, although we finished back in November. Our AP before that was Strange Aeons, so looking forward to seeing how you guys deal with that one as well.


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I'm liking Strange Aeons a lot after one session.

What were some of the differences between your RotRL campaign and ours??


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I gave my players a mythic rank after they defeated Zutha, and whenever they killed an entity capably of granting spells. They hit MR 4 by the end. Consequently I had to up the challenge of a lot of encounters. They were a lot more murder hobo-ish than you guys as well. :(


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I ran into that problem with Reign of Winter, the first time I ran it. I love Mythic... and the Black Rider's mantle does resemble Mythic a bit... but it was too much. Especially when you add Hero Points to the mixture as well (Hero Points are sort of the precursor to Mythic).

For that matter, I also had Mythic in my Rise of the Runelords game, but I kept them at Tier 3 and didn't allow them the initiative boost or the ability to cast Swift spells for a point of Mythic (as that part of Mythic was truly broken). Though what was truly fantastic was the end fight against Karzoug. I had him with 10 Mythic Tiers and for each Projected Image they took out, he lost a Tier. Even so, he still had 5 Tiers at the end.

The group used a Nap spell to regain spells before Karzoug could after having swept through the final fortress in one huge melee. They were low on Mythic. The first thing he does is a Mythic Wish to bind away their Mythic for the length of the fight. It hit a Spell Turning with 9 spell levels in it... rebounded... and Karzoug rolled a Natural 1 for saving against his own Wish and had his own Mythic abilities bound away. It was truly a thing of beauty. =^-^=

But yeah. I'm only allowing Mythic in games designed for it in the future. It is tremendously OP. Instead I give the players a bonus Hero Point every game session, and only require one hero point to avoid dying.


Saleem Halabi said wrote:
They were a lot more murder hobo-ish than you guys as well

Yeah, we do tend to like trying to talk when possible ... which was actually a bit of an adjustment for me, since I'd previously played in a number groups where fighting was even less of a focus! I've had to shy away from some possible character concepts because I didn't think they would survive or be effective in this kind of play; one of these days, though, I'll try something like my completely pacifist Paladin again, just to see what happens ...


Ice Cracking In The Sunlight wrote:


Yeah, we do tend to like trying to talk when possible ... which was actually a bit of an adjustment for me, since I'd previously played in a number groups where fighting was even less of a focus! I've had to shy away from some possible character concepts because I didn't think they would survive or be effective in this kind of play; one of these days, though, I'll try something like my completely pacifist Paladin again, just to see what happens ...

Sorry to be cramping your style! :\ I’m hoping we’ll do War for the Crown next; maybe that’s an opportunity for a pacifist.


Not a cramp; just an adjustment. There's nothing wrong with the fact that a character who refuses to kill anything ever and hands out pamphlets to monsters explaining why Good is better than Evil doesn't fit into an even slightly more traditional campaign!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Okay, story time!

The first time I ever was in a(n) (A)D&D game, I was a kid. I was curious what these older kids were doing and they allowed me to join in the group but seeing I had *no* idea what the game was (outside of basically being like Tolkien's LotR) I was given a "Lantern Bearer" for a character. The other kids just wanted to have me die and then kick me out.

So they gave me a short sword and told to hamstring an Ettin. I snuck up to it and missed. It turned around, I quickly hid the sword behind my back, and proceeded to tell a tale about vitamins and how it wasn't healthy to eat good people because it was evil people who were nutritious and full of vitamins! And the GM rolled with it and the rest of the group watched wide-eyed and amused as I basically bluffed an Ettin into becoming my 1st level character's friend.

Sadly after we got the Ettin relocated, our next encounter ended with a TPK as things went poorly. I managed to drag another player back to a safe room, a third character joined me, we barred the doors, and were trapped in a dungeon where we starved to death. Alas.

Still, I remember that adventure fondly. It was my first... and showed me that if you're fast on your feet, got a quick mind, and are smart, you can prevail where blades or fists fail.

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