The Kingdom of Vloda - A Kingmaker Playthrough


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Since Canarr asked, I've decided to post my notes from Kingmaker on here. These were originally written up to be read by the players to remind themselves of what had happened in previous sessions, and so only included what they had directly experienced. I'll be adding a little to this to make it a little clearer to write up, and adding some commentary on why I did certain things to the bottom of each post. I hope that this is of some entertainment to other Kingmaker players, and please feel free to comment or question as we go.

Just to note that I started running Kingmaker a little over four years ago, and we're currently about 114 sessions in and on Book 5. So this might take a while.

Thanks for reading!

Dramatis Personae:

Our stalwart heroes are a gang of friends and friendly rivals who dubbed themselves the Blades of Restov, and between them scraped and saved enough money to buy the fourth, and least desirable charter issued by Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius of Restov. After all, the Nomen Heights has the age-old centaur threat to content with, the Hooktongue Slough controls the chief trade route to New Stetvan, and the Glenebon Uplands has the might of the Tiger Lords. What does the Greenbelt offer for glory? Naught but disorganised bandits. Still, beggars cannot be choosers.

At the start of our campaign, the Blades are:
* Rodrigo Crezo, a Halfling Bard
* Piotr Ilyavich Lem Stroganov, a Halfling Rogue
* Alexander of Restov, a Human Cavalier and Sword Lord, and his mare, Granite
* Ilyana Bellerose, an Elf Ranger

1st Session - 12/01/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Ilyana, Alexander

28/02/10: The Blades arrive at Oleg's Trading post. They meet Oleg & Svetlana Leveton and hear about the monthly bandit raids - and the Restov bounty on bandits. They also hear of some of the local trappers, Bokken the alchemist hermit, and Svetlana's stolen ring.

01/03/10: An ambush is set for the bandits, during a torrential downpour. Despite the attack not going entirely to plan, all of the brigands are wiped out with ease. Only their leader, Happs Bydon, survives. Happs takes out Ilyana with one brutal shot, but surrenders when the rest of his men are killed.

I had to start the most obvious way that I could, with a fight. I usually find this a good way to start a D&D or Pathfinder game. No-one has a fully fleshed out character set out yet, so let them soak up a bit of the world without having to make big decisions while they decide who they want to be. I also decided early on that I was going to be making extensive use of random weather tables, and made myself a quick spreadsheet to generate weeks and months of it in advance. That way I wouldn't be slowing the game down rolling all the time, and the players who had put points into Survival could make rolls to predict what was coming and adjust their plans accordingly.

2nd Session - 26/01/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Ilyana, Alexander

01/03/10: Our heroes interrogate Happs, who tells them about the location and defences of the Thorn River Camp. In return for his cooperation they do not execute him, deciding that getting people to surrender to them is preferable to fighting to the death, but inform him he'll be exiled from the Greenbelt after they deal with the bandits. When talking to Svetlana, Ilyana hears the story of a temple to Gyronna that once existed on the shore of Lake Tuskwater, to the south, which is suspected to be behind the recent rise of banditry.

02/03/10: The rain has broken and they head west. They spend the night camping in the mouth of a boarded-up mine, where their dreams are disturbed by a lurking will-o-the-wisp, not that they realise it.

03/03/10: Late in the morning the Blades find the Thorn river, and navigate to arrive at the bandit camp; Lem sneaks around and determines that only about half the bandits are in attendance. He leads the party in, attempting to assassinate one of the guards in his sleep. But his quarry survives and wakes with a piercing scream; a messy skirmish ensues. Alexander rides into the camp and engages two bandits and their leader, Kressel, while the others snipe at the arboreal watchmen. Alexander and Granite drive off the two bandits, but Kressel downs both Cavalier and mount in a blood-soaked, profanity-laden melee – Alexander succumbing first but remaining in his saddle, and then having Granite crush his leg when he collapses. As she spits curses at the others, Lem lays her out with a well-placed arrow, but she still gets a final swing at Ilyana when the elf runs forwards to aid Alexander. One bandit escapes, clutching a hand mangled by Granite's bite. The Blades loot the camp, taking as much as they can carry, hide the excess goods stolen from Oleg nearby, throw Kressel over the back of a horse and burn what's left. Rodrigo leaves a warning of the death penalty for banditry nailed to a tree. Heading back east, they again attempt to sleep by the old mine, but this time Ilyana spots the will-o-the-wisp and is attacked by it as it spreads it's nightmares. Nearly killed from one jolt, the Blades make a hasty escape and march through the moonlit night.

04/03/10: Arriving back at the Trading Post shortly after dusk, the Blades find a tiny tented garrison of three soldiers led by Kesten Garess at the gate, sent from Restov to respond to Oleg & Svetlana's request for aid. Overnight a blizzard hits the region, trapping everyone within the outpost in very close quarters for three days. Kressel is interrogated, revealing the details of the drunken Stag Lord who commands the bandits, the location of his fortress on the shore of lake tuskwater, the crazy old man who also lives there, the ongoing war between the kobolds and mites, the rough location of Tuskgutter's lair, the lair of a particularly nasty bear and the river-borne threat of tatzlwyrms. Kressle is brought gagged into the snow and beheaded by Alexander for her crimes. She dies defiant and happy that she bested a swordlord in combat. Kesten, a very minor noble, says he will send word back to Restov that the Blades have more than satisfied the bounty on bandits, and their reward should follow soon. Rodrigo uses his Mending spell to repair everything he can in the outpost.

Svetlana is a good source of rumours at the start of Kingmaker; short on detail, but with just enough to get the players interested.

The Will-o’-Wisp & the abandoned mine were both random encounters. The Wisp came up as a wandering monster, and I realised that it would have been pretty much unbeatable by the lvl 1 PCs. So instead I gave them nightmares. But one reprieve was all they got - a second night sleeping there was too tempting. Anyway, I knew that they were on their way to safety at this point, so I wasn't worried about slowing down the game by roughing them up too much.

The bandit with the maimed hand was a throwaway comment, but one that stuck in everyone's mind. He eventually turns up again in session #41, over a year later, in a very minor role.

Kressle's execution was the first big choice the PCs had to make. She was an unrepentant bandit, but were they ok with capital punishment? The answer was yes, yes they were. From this adventure forth, any time the death penalty has been instituted in game it has been by decapitation - quick, relatively painless and intimidating.

Rodrigo Mending everything was the player exploring what he could do with his tricks. His practical, helpful attitude would grow as the game went on, to the point where he is beloved in the Kingdom.

Great story so far.

Very cool, thank you! Looking forward to more...

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Dramatis Personae:
Two players joined up for this session, and were easily written in as members of the party who had been held up by business in Restov. They were late to the party, if you don't mind the pun. Only one of them stuck around - Van Tan's player would rejoin the game later, but it was so much later than he wound up making a new character.

* Svetlana, a Half-Elf Druid
* Doctor Van Tan, a Human Alchemist

3rd Session - 26/01/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Ilyana, Alexander, Svetlana, Doc Van Tan

08/03/10: The blizzard finally breaks, and Doc Tan and Svetlana pick their way through the deep snows, having been separated from the rest of the Blades in Restov. Kesten sends a kestrel to the city with details of the bandits killed so far. The Blades head to the eastern edge of the Greenbelt and release Haps, giving him a knife, food, and a warning never to set foot there again. They set down to the important business of exploring the land, and swiftly find Bokken's wattle-and-daub hut. From him they hear of the trapdoor spider to the south, the war between the mites and the kobolds, and his crazy (or at least crazier) brother.

09/03/10: A day of mostly uneventful exploring occurs, with rapidly rising temperatures causing the snows to melt and the ground to become sodden. A brush thylacine stalks the party throughout most of the evening, and attempts to drag off Tan's pony in the night. It is badly wounded and driven off, then hunted down and skinned at first light by Ilyana.

I made a lot of use out of the wandering monster tables during the heavy hexploration section of the game, though I didn't always have it be a direct combat encounter. I believe the thylacine was a random encounter when entering the hex, but as a straight-up fight it seemed pretty boring and quite unrealistic. So instead I had it follow the PCs for a bit.

10/03/10: The temperature continues to rise, but the day is uneventful beyond the discovery of a folly; a stone crossroads in the middle of nowhere on the plains, connected to no path.

I can't find the thread, but someone on this forum came up with a nice set of "random things" tables for the different terrain types. Sometimes what I rolled wound up inspiring plots, sometimes it was just a cool visual.

11/03/10: While exploring the plains, the Blades come across the desiccated remains of wildlife and men. During their investigation, Rodrigo is nearly abducted by the massive trapdoor spider of which Bokken spoke, but some lucky dives, use of explosives and one incredible shot soon put pay to the beast. Alexander loots it's lair, discovering in the process that it's not easy to climb when heavily armoured, and recovers an exceptionally crude treasure map marking a claw-like tree.

12/03/10: Another rainstorm adds to the swollen rivers and boglike ground as the Blades return to the trading post to rest. A porter by the name of Jacobi has traveled down from Restov, seeking work now that the city is abuzz with the exploration into the Stolen Lands. Rodrigo hires him on, paying him 2 silver pieces - an advance of nearly 3 weeks wages - and starts to learn the intricacies of a new game called King of the Stump. Rodrigo & Ilyana then put away one of the bottles of green liquor taken from the bandits.

Jacobi comes straight from Hirelings - Into the Wild and 9 in-game years later he's still following the group around. They love him. He's picked up a few personality quirks along the way, most recently starting his own gin-brewing business during long downtimes months and carrying a still with him. I think a lot of it was that he neatly resolved the issue of "what do we do with the mounts?" every time the player had to go into a dungeon, and he never lost one.

13/03/10: The Blades head south-west to retrieve the supplies looted from the Thorn River camp. Exploring as they go, they find a patch of moon-radishes claimed by the Sootscale kobolds. After some threats, music & negotiation, they barter two throwing knifes (taken from Kressle) for a basket of radishes and some seeds. They wisely avoid the old mine when camping that night.

This was the first big debate in the group - what to do with the kobolds? When the PCs first arrived, the Kobolds were lying around in borderline food comas from a moon radish feast. They quickly wobbled to their feet, grabbed spears and threatened the PCs. One player was all for killing them, the others wanted to negotiate. After all, it's not like they had any more of a claim to the radishes than the Kobolds did. The negotiators won out, which opened up allying with the Sootscales later on in the campaign.

14/03/10: Reaching the swollen Thorn River, the Blades send Ilyana ahead to sneak into the camp. It remains deserted, but the notice Rodrigo posted has been removed. They recover the safely-hidden supplies belonging to the Levetons, and settle down for the night.

The Blades also acquire the attention of Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut, who start to play practical jokes on them. Perlivash steals Ilyana's left shoe, while the grig dumps a treeful of raindrops onto Svetlana.

15/03/10: The hot morning leads to a thick fog rising from the rivers and marshes and cloaking the Northern Greenbelt. Ilyana discovers that one of her shoes has been stolen. With donkeys and porter hard at work, they spend the day transporting the crates of hides, furs, etc. through the mists and back to the trading post.

16/03/10: The Levetons are overjoyed to receive their supplies, and Svetlana attempts to surreptitiously pay Rodrigo for the radishes but he refuses. Instead the Svetlana's both spend an afternoon planting the seeds in the outpost. During the afternoon, a courier from Restov arrives to deliver the 400gp bounty for the bandits already dispatched, and Kesten mentions another long-standing bounty on the elimination of the "Kobold Menace".

17/03/10: The Blades head North-West, finding a trapper's camp but no trapper, and Ilyana and Alexander's horses almost collapsing due to an unexpected Grease spell. When Van Tan hears giggling from a nearby tree he immolates it with an alchemical bomb, but the culprit appears to escape unharmed.

Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut became "those two guys" for the rest of the campaign. Whenever I need shorthand for how the fey in the land are doing, it's generally one of them that provides the example.

This session was one of the few times I had to give the players OOC reasons to do things, and it's one of the flaws with Kingmaker. The PCs have been sent to the Greenbelt to defeat the bandits, and Kressle has told them exactly where the Stag Lord's Keep is, so it makes perfect sense that they should make a beeline right to it. I laid out the level requirements and promised that it wasn't something that would come up much in the campaign, and they agreed to "scout out the land" before taking on the principle threat, but it wasn't particularly satisfactory. Thankfully they all stuck with me, and with better prep time for the other modules stuff like this didn't crop up again.

4th Session - 23/02/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Ilyana, Alexander, Svetlana

18/03/10: The Blades continue following the tracks from the trapper’s camp, but find themselves hindered by yet more rain, turning the forest into a quagmire. They narrowly avoid the den of a grizzly bear, while still suffering the ongoing pranks from their fey persecutors - largely revolving around rotten eggs and a squirrel enchanted to sound like a rampaging ursine. The tracks finally become lost in a glade filled with hidden bear traps, which badly injure Granite and Rodrigo's mule. Angered, they devote their time to removing as many of the traps as they can find, happening upon a delicious trapped boar in the meanwhile. That night Alexander falls asleep on watch with a little help from fey magic and Ilyana is roused by her meditation to find a faerie dragon drawing on Svetlana's face with charcoal from the fire. The faerie flees, but Alexander discovers that it had healed the wounds on Granite's leg before indulging in some half-elven graffiti.

I forgot just how many random encounters came up in one form or another in the early days of the campaign. Between that, random weather and making everyone track rations, it was a really different game.

19/03/10: The Blades spend a full day in the soggy forest, removing more than half a dozen bear traps. At nightfall, the destroyed remains of one is left in the camp by an invisible intruder, along with a gift of fangberries.

20/03/10: Svetlana gathers berries, and with help from the other Blades spends the morning making a somewhat passable jam, which is presented along with a highly-polished coin in an effort to placate the fey. The rest of the day is spent exploring, but come nightfall the faerie dragon Perlivash and the grig Tyg-Titter-Tut present themselves to the group. After brief discussion, they thank them for being good sports and for destroying the traps, admitting that they initially assumed them to be bandits, like most bigginses. Tyg-Titter-Tut is in awe of Rodrigo's music, while Perlivash is able to provide directions to several local spots of interest, including a bear-haunted ruin, a hot springs with really big toads, the moon radishes & the Thorn River bandit camp (the latter two admittedly not so useful), as well as the rough location in the southerly hills of some large fangberry thickets. They also advise that the southern Greenbelt is home to some powerful and dangerous fey, and generally avoid it themselves, and that the cruel trapper the Blades have been following has been killed by his own traps.

21/03/10: Travelling to where Perlivash & Tyg-Titter-Tut advised that the trapper died, he is found with his legs crushed beneath a deadfall trap. Ilyana identifies that the deadfall was cut free by something with sharp teeth, but after dealing with the bear traps none of the Blades decides to question this. Running short on supplies, they decide to return to the Trading Post, a two-day ride for them.

22/03/10: A tremendous storm hammers the Greenbelt, and the Blades are forced to remain seeking what shelter they can in the forest.

23/03/10: The storm briefly abates, leaving a freezing cold pall, but as they have determined it will return with a vengeance the ride all day & all night, force marching their horses. Svetlana & Jacobi's mounts suffer the most from this, and they are night-riding when the storm hits.

24/03/10: As dawn breaks, the Blades arrive at Oleg's; sodden, freezing and miserable. Another new arrival is in the outpost, who introduces himself as Jhod Kavken, a hunter and cleric of Erastil. He's come to offer assistance to the burgeoning community, and also because there are rumours of an ancient temple to Old Deadeye in the Greenbelt.

25/03/10: The storm continues, and everyone wisely stays indoors.

Brother Jhod! This session was a great example of how something very small can influence an entire campaign. As you likely all know, Jhod is there to push the Temple of the Elk quest, and can serve as the Kingdom High Priest if none of the PCs fit the role later on. At the end of this session, Rodrigo's player told me he was asking Jhod about Erastil, due to being curious about the world. I started to give him a quick rundown on Erastil in Golarion, and the player politely cut me off. He didn't want the blurb, he wanted to hear what Jhod had to say. Ok, I thought I'd give Jhod a Knowledge: Religion roll to see how well he lays out the teachings. I rolled in the open - Natural 20. And lo, the scales fell from Rodrigo's eyes. From that moment on, he was an eager follower of Erastil. The Bard became an evangelist, to the point of multiclassing into Clericbriefly, Erastil became the Kingdom's primary religion, everything. I think I'm lucky to have players who are willing to look for opportunities like this.

5th Session - 01/03/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Ilyana, Alexander, Svetlana

25/03/10: The Blades remain in Oleg's trading post as the storm howls and crashes around them, tending to animals, playing King of the Stump and scribing.

26/03/10: As the storm breaks, the Blades mount up and head west.

27/03/10: The western forest gives way to freezing water-logged plains, dotted with the remains of long-abandoned settlements and spooky, semi-submerged graveyards. Wild goats and sheep prowl the moors in an unthreatening manner.

28/03/10: After passing the remains of an elk killed by what appear to be huge wolves, the Blades find an ancient caern in the flatlands, surrounded by blackberry brambles. Rodrigo detects the aura of magic within the burial mound, and while the others stand guard crawls inside the abandoned wolf den beneath. He finds a wooden Ring of Swimming on the skeletal remains of the tomb, and the group move on. That night Alexander sees gleaming eyes and huge shapes watching from the darkness beyond the campfire, which slink away when he rouses Ilyana.

29/03/10: Moving South, the Blades spy more wolf tracks, clearly moving ahead and around them, but don't catch a glimpse of any until late in the evening. Passing near a ruined farmstead, they hear a voice calling for help, claiming to have been captured by kobolds. Suitably suspicious, they do not fall for the ambush the pack of worg have attempted to set, though the cruel monsters still do significant harm to the Blades before they can be cut down. Their pelts are claimed as trophies, and Jacobi shows his value as he rounds up the scattered horses & mules after the attack.

It didn't seem likely that the players would fall for a trap like this, but sometimes there's nothing wrong with putting in obvious attempts at deception. If nothing else, it makes it seem fairer when more elaborate stuff turns up later.

30/03/10: Picking around temporary lakes and muddy pastures, the day is cold but without incident. Seeing yet another storm on the horizon, the Blades settle in the most intact ruin they can find to wait it out.

31/03/10: The Blades wait it out.

I rolled so many storms on the weather charts. Whenever anyone questioned the realism of this I blamed Druids - someone cast Call Lightning or Gust of Wind 500 miles away and it had knock-on effects.

01/04/10: Cautious of their supplies, the Blades start travelling back to the trading post, skirting North on the plains to avoid the dense forests.

02/04/10: Late evening, not far from Oleg's on the South Rostland Road, the Blades come across a band of wanderers claiming to be mercenaries heading into Brevoy. Ilyana spots a Stag Lord amulet on one however, and once they are out of sight sneaks after them, with the rest of the party following behind. After some hours of tracking, the ranger finds the brigands camping off-road, and due to some judicious spellcasting on the part of Svetlana they are easily subdued, or run down by Alexander. Two of them are taken alive, to be brought to Oleg's for questioning and likely execution.

I bumped up how many bandits answered to Staggy by quite a lot. Only those listed in Stolen Land regularly reside in his fort, but there were dozens of smaller bands who had to give him a cut and semi-regularly report in floating about. Otherwise even the northern part of the Greenbelt is just too big to feel menaced, let alone Brevoy itself. Encounters like this were intended to give the setting a living feel, that it wasn't just going to sit there and wait for the PCs to find things - even though a lot of it totally was. Smoke & Mirrors!

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6th Session - 08/03/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Alexander, Svetlana

03/04/10: The Blades arrive back in Oleg's with their two captives in the middle of the night, waking everyone and deciding that they'll need to build some form of stocks if they're going to keep bringing back prisoners. After a deep sleep, the brigands are questioned, confirming some details about the Stag Lord's keep, estimating that maybe another dozen bandits reside there, and that Falgrim Sneeg is among them. Brother Jhod also talks with them, and determines that despite the stag/elk imagery, they have no ties to Erastil. In return for full confessions, Alexander promises the brigands quick deaths and a burial, instead of joining their fellows hanging from the walls of the outpost

Falgrim Sneeg is the bandit the Kesten is hell-bent on destroying in one of the inside-cover side quests for Stolen Lands

04/04/10: Our heroes decide to spend a few days recovering, resting, scribing and awaiting the delivery of cold iron weapons Oleg ordered from Restov.

08/04/10: The weapons arrive, delayed by the recent bad weather.

09/04/10: Hoping that the worst of the weather has passed, the Blades head south again, crossing the plains and approaching the rolling hills of the Kamelands.

10/04/10: As they explore, the Blades spy a single, dead & blasted tree atop a hill, which seems to match the crude treasure map found in the trapdoor spider's lair. Rodrigo swiftly determines that magic lies beneath the tree, and Jacobi digs, retrieving a leather cloak wrapped around a masterwork dagger, a silver ring, a willow & gryphon-bone wand of Burning Hands, and a moldering spellbook. During the night, Rodrigo hears roars and crashes, miles to the south.

I like giving a bit of fluff description & visuals to magic items. For wands, I used a random Harry Potter wand generator that I found online.

11/04/10: As they continue to explore the hills shortly after dawn, the Blades stumble across three sleeping trolls and wisely decide to give them a very wide berth. Everyone is very, very alert and nervous for the rest of the day.

Yet more random encounters which don't have to lead to combat, but can be played for tension and laying the seeds of future threats.

12/04/10: Passes without incidence for once.

13/04/10: In a particularly craggy bit of hills, Svetlana spots an interesting cave, and Lem realises that it contains gold.

14/04/10: Continuing west on a freezing day, the Blades pass dead kobolds, seemingly killed by mites, before hitting the rain-swollen Thorn river. While they find a rickety bridge, after much consideration they don't use it, instead slowly fording the river in a shallower spot.

15/04/10: Spring finally begins to hit the Stolen Land, with the Blades spying blooming flowers and other touches of colour as explore the land.

16/04/10: The weather turns warm as the Blades turn east, seeking the great sycamore home of the Mites.

17/04/10: Shortly before dusk, the Blades spy the sycamore - an ancient tree a hundred feet tall, visible for miles around, but decide to leave approaching it until the next day. They make camp for the night, keeping double guards, but before Svetlana hears Mites moving in the light woods around them. Everyone wakes, but they diminutive fey do not approach, until Svetlana tells them to f$#$ off. The Mites respond by briefly leaving, and returning with an immense hornets' nest, which they fling into the camp. The Blades are horrifically stung by the thumb-sized, winged jerks, though they manage to disperse the swarm and kill one of the Mites.

Mites are not threats, even to low-level PCs. So it's always worth considering how the environment and tactics can transform a fight. In this case, as soon as I described a papery hornet nest arcing through the air the players panicked, turning the fight from a slog to a frantic scramble.

Dramatis Personae

We got the last of our regular players into the game this session, and probably the one who has shaped my plans the most. I'd been upfront with the players about what the game was going to entail - wilderness exploration turning into politics, lost of natural and fae enemy types, etc. - so that everyone could make a character who fitted. But Felix Saban was perfect. Thanks to the random background generator in Ultimate Campaign he was a Wizarding School drop-out on account of having little to no magical talent. While slogging home after this, his fae-blood sorcerous potential was awoken by a dragon.

When we hit the Kingdom building phase of Kingmaker, the group decided that Felix would be the Ruler. A Fae-Blood Ruler laying claim to the Stolen Lands, and a dragon responsible for starting them down that path? Plot hook gold. The dragon became an agent of Shyka the Many, weaving the skein of Fate. Felix coming to power was far more than a mortal land grab, it was a Fae claiming the land - which is of course exactly what Nyrissa is trying to do! While none of this directly changed what happened in the campaign, it all provided great reasons for why it was happening, making the whole thing that bit more personal.

7th Session - 22/03/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Alexander, Svetlana, Ilyana, Felix

18/04/10: Suffering badly from the venom of the hornets, the Blades hastily abandon the Mites and pick their way North.

19/04/10: The temperature rises drastically as the Blades arrive at the Leveton's trading post, meeting with Ilyana and Felix; the latter recently arrived following familial problems in Restov. The Sorcerer bonds with the Blades, and joins them in their efforts. Svetlana Leveton, somewhat uselessly, tells of rumours about veins of gold somewhere in the hills.

I used rumour charts from each book. Sometimes the players had already discovered the truth behind the rumour before they even heard it, but the NPC told it to them anyway :)

20/04/10: A day is taken to recuperate and shake off the lasts of the venom.

21/04/10: Heading back out into the wilds, progress is slow as a disastrous attempt to cross the Thorn River leaves the group sodden and exhausted.

22/04/10: An eerie fog fills the forests as the Blades find the ancient temple of Erastil mentioned by both Perlivash and Brother Jhod. The bear-warden of the site stumbles through the mists, enraged by the interlopers, but he is defeated and released from his curse by the strength of arms of our heroes. The blessing of Old Deadeye returns to the site, driving away the lingering corruption.

[occ]Again, random weather tables! The Temple of the Elk encounter is pretty basic as presented, and while the cursed bear is moderately tough, Pathfinder's action economy mean that he'll go down pretty easy to a group of four character, let alone six. But when the players stumble into the Temple and only have visibility of 20', the water-slick ruins looming around them, hearing the noise of something huge hidden in the mist... it gets fun. The bear was on top of them before they knew what was going on, and was able to get in some serious hits without the PCs buffing themselves or getting in ranged attacks. Even better, because I'd been very upfront about random weather, it didn't seem like a staged encounter, or one designed to hamstring them. If the players had turned up on another day it would have been a very different fight and they knew it.[/ooc]

23/04/10: Using the Temple of the Elk as a base, the Blades continue their exploration as the fog burns away.

24/04/10: The temperature continues to soar as the Blades push east and Spring hits with a vengeance.

25/04/10: The Blades find the Skunk river; odious at the best of times, the heat makes the sulphurus algae of the river almost unbearable.

26/04/10: Travelling North around the source of the Skunk, the Blades spy the hot pools and their immense frog inhabitants, as warned of by Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut. They decide to simply avoid them for now, continuing into the marshes which extend into the Hooktongue Slough. Setting up camp in a handy spot for the night, they easily spot the hermit Roman watching them. Ilyana carefully talks the wildman into joining them, bribing him with tea (and later, thanks to Felix, with wine) and he reveals the location of a statue of Erastil to the south, and that Tuskgutter's lair is to the South-East. He becomes upset when discussion turns to wolves - especially talking wolves - and slips out of the camp early in the night.

Random Encounter Table: 1 Werewolf. Again, having him directly attack them seemed a bit boring, and it would have been a slog of a fight. So I decided that he was both cautious, but also a little starved for company. The players figured this one out pretty fast when the topic of wolves came up, but decided that trying to hunt him down on a hunch wasn't exactly reasonable behaviour.

27/04/10: Another thick fog blankets the land as the Blades leaving the marshes and heading up to the north-westerly plains, but other than wild sheep and evidence of wolves, the day passes without incident.

28/04/10: With the bizarre fog slowing progress, the Blades are still on the plains come nightfall.

29/04/15: Descending back into the marshlands, the Blades enjoy a soggy day of carefully picking their paths. As they set up camp, Felix is hailed by a Nixie named Bracken, who assumes the Sorcerer to be some form of noble. When disabused of this notion, the fairy briefly interrogates Svetlana about unicorns before swimming away.

Ah Fae Blood. Bracken is yet another random encounter, this time used to set up a lot of social interactions in the future. Clearly, a sorcerer like Felix would appear quite impressive to a young Nixie. High charisma, aura of power, etc. When Felix says that he isn't noble, and yet becomes Lord in a few sessions, he picks up the appellation "The Lying Lord" amongst the fae of the Greenbelt and the Slough. Of course, if he had said that he was noble, then the more important fae of the region would have challenged this upstart quasi-mortal. Not exactly lose-lose for the players, more than either choice would provide drama down the line.

30/04/10: The 15' statute of Erastil, all that remains of an ancient lodge, are found and duly noted on the map. The night passes without incidence, warded by the lingering influence of the god of the hunt.

01/05/10: The last of the area around the statue is thoroughly explored, before the Blades again set up camp. Under the cold, starless night and the full moon, a wolflike shape watches from far out, but flees when Rodrigo calls out to it.

Roman can't decide if it's worth risking a fight with the PCs or not, but his cursed bloodlust keeps bringing him back to them as long as they stay in his turf.

02/05/10: The heat wave finally breaks, returning to a more pleasant temperature as the Blades begin to pick their way back to the trading post to rest and restock. Again, wolves watch from the night, but do not approach.

03-04/05/10: The Blades decide to avoid the forests, remaining on the plains and enjoying some welcome rain after the heat. They arrive at the trading post on the 4th, to find that Jhod has been out hunting for several nights.

05/05/10: Jhod arrives back at the outpost and is overjoyed to hear of the temple and statue, making plans to take a trip to them. Svetlana talks freely about werewolves, and when Ilyana asks the priest about them he becomes nervous, warning that it is curable, but the process is hard and unreliable - but careless talk about such things can do great harm.

Jhod, of course, has his own history involving werewolves.

Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier; before the first game I got the poster-sized maps for the Stolen Lands, mounted it on foamcore and covered it with contact. Then I got post-it notes and covered it, one note per hex. Only the South Rostland Road and Oleg's Trading post were left blank for session one. When the players were exploring, I would free each hex as they entered, or maybe a few at a time if an NPC gave them good information. This wasn't something I kept up for the other maps, but it really added a feeling of exploration to the game. How far does the forest go? Where does this river lead?

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8th Session - 29/03/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Alexander, Svetlana, Ilyana, Felix

06/05/10: The Blades escort Jhod to the Temple of the Elk, slowed en route by the perilous crossing of the Thorn. Rodrigo takes up worship of Old Deadeye, inspired by the practical cleric.

I jumped the gun earlier - this is where Rodrigo's conversion to Erastil kicked in thanks to one awesome roll.

07/05/10: Arriving at the Temple. Jhod sets up a permanent camp while the Blades head south.

08/05/10: Ilyana & Alexander spy the tracks of Tuskgutter the Boar, track the legendary beast to his lair and slay him.

This description seems a bit brief; it was a cracking fight from what I recall.

09/05/10: The exploration of the forests continues, until a torrential storm grips the land.

10/05/10: As the storm howls, the Blades huddle down in Tuskgutter's lair. Felix takes several bones from the boar to whittle while Rodrigo claims a pair of antlers.

Felix's player threw a skill point into Craft, just because she thought it would be cool. I love it when players do stuff like that.

11/05/10: Heading west into the Narlmarches, exploration continues. I might be repeating this phrase this a lot.

12/05/10: The Blades find a boggard named Garuum living in some ruined buildings with his faithful slurk, Ubagub. Garumm has claimed the area as his own, and when communication proves impossible, but sides decide to leave the other along.

13/05/10: Exploration of the mire continues, only now during an unseasonal amount of sleet. Everyone is miserable.

14/05/10: The Blades pass the statue of Erastil on their voyage west, and Rodrigo lays antlers as an offering, earning the favour of Old Deadeye.

15-17/05/10: Exploration of the mire still continues, with a boggard who may or may not be Garuum watching the Blades from afar.

I don't think I ever decided if this was or wasn't Garuum, it was a random encounter. Sometimes it's best to leave things unspecified and retcon them into something more relevant later.

18-21/05/10: The Blades pick their way back to the trading post. En route they dodge wandering bears, meet with a highly impressed Perlivash & Tyg-Titter-Tut – who warn that the ruins inhabited by Garuum are marked as forbidden by a fey noble – and finally deliver Tuskgutter's head to Oleg amidst much aclaim. Oleg holds onto the head until the next visit by Vekkel Benzen.

I was planning on having Garuum's lair being the village of New Sehir, as created by RobRendell. I don't think it ever came to fruition sadly.

22/05/10: Time is taken to relax, and Rodrigo asks Felix to carve new bone King of the Stump playing pieces.

They're a gift for Jacobi, because everyone loves him.

23/05/10: The Blades travel south, having decided to seek out the Sootscale kobolds before directly attacking the Mites.

24/05/10: Exploration of the plains continue, with an ancient caern offering a stunning view across the shrike river and down into the Kamelands.

Every so often I'd pause the game for a bit of scenery porn, trying to instill a sense of awe in the players about the wilderness they're exploring and hoping to stop it becoming routine.

25/05/10: The Blades follow the river, finding a decrepit rope bridge and waking the Davik Nettles, the deceased former bridgekeeper. The restless, rotting undead commands Alexander to throw the Stag Lords body into the river or join him, and then retreats into the water. The Blades quickly move on.

26/05/10: The Blades cross the Shrike, entering the Kamelands proper and continue their exploration.

27-29/05/10: As the weather grows hotter and fog rises from the rivers, the exploration continues.

30/05/10: The Blades find the old silvermine occupied by the Sootscale kobolds, and reach an agreement with Chief Sootscale and Shaman Tartuk to cease attacking traveller if they return the relic of the kobold's god, Old Sharptooth, from the Mites.

31/05/10-02/06/10: Deciding to make sure they are as prepared as they can be for the upcoming fight, the Blades return to the Levetons as Summer proper begins, and the first season of exploration ends.

I think almost everyone in the group was inclined to be favourably inclined to kobolds, viewing them as a kind of comic-relief Evil Lite. I blame the 3rd Ed D&D artwork, characters like Deekin in NWN, all that stuff. There's room here for a shocking swerve when the "harmless" kobolds are revealed to be truly nasty underneath it all, but my group wouldn't have enjoyed that. So allying with them was inevitable.

As an aside, I think the OwlCat Kingmaker CRPG's take on Tartuk is brilliant, and I really wish I'd been able to use it in my games. Having the players find a diary detailing his transition from Gnome of Kobold was very metagame-y, and not really all that satisfying a way to reveal his backstory.

As a further aside, I decided that I wouldn't be using Alignment in this game. I think this has helped it massively, and since no-one was playing Paladins or Clerics there was very little mechanical impact. Once the Kingdom phase gets going, there will be lots of Tough Questions to be answered by the players. I'm totally in favour of a villain making a well-reasoned point, or a well-intentioned ally taking poorly thought actions. Slapping a magical Good or Evil onto that undercuts a lot of the tension.

That said, a few things kept their Alignments - all Devils, Demons and the Undead are Evil for the purpose of protection or damaging spells, as well as a few of the nastier Fae. But mortals can have virtues and failings at the same time, just to make things nice & awkward.

9th Session - 12/04/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

03/05/10: Back in comparative civilization, the Blades take a brief detour to commission healing potions from Bokken in preparation for their fight with the Mites. Rodrigo uses his magic to repair items around the outpost and earns enough to pay Jacobi for another few weeks.

Bokken never really became a major factor in my game, despite being a fun NPC. Ilyana's player has been funding him to produce fangberry-scented bath salts for most of the latter part of the campaign.

04-07/05/10: While they wait, they explore the far north of the Stolen Lands, a comparatively peaceful stretch of plains on the border of Brevoy, finding little to trouble them beyond hayfever.

08/05/10: Upon their return, the Blades meet two trappers in the Trading Post; Vekkel Benzen, who presents the Blades with his prized longbow and claims Tuskgutter's head, and Tollya Sur, a hunter recently roughed up by the Stag Lord's bandits and sent to deliver a copy of the Six River Freedoms as a reponse to the letter left in the Thorn River Camp.

I don't think Tollya ever turns up again. Sometimes I forget about NPCs.

09-10/05/10: Travelling South, the Blades enjoy the hot summer weather, being only slightly perplexed by Ilyana finding the tracks of a herd of goats who simply disappear halfway around a hill. That night, a wandering band of Mites happen upon the sleeping heroes, using prestidigitation to befoul them. Lem tackles one of the fey, capturing it, while one other is shot dead by Ilyana while the rest flee. When they determine that the Mite speaks no language that they do, it is summarily executed.

The goats are from a "random stuff to find in a hex" table. The players were figuring out just how much Otherworld stuff there was going to be in the game by now.

11/05/10: While Jacobi minds their (semi-)noble steeds, the Blades descend into the cramped tunnels beneath the old sycamore, cutting a bloody swathe through the Mites and their pet giant centipedes. They rescue Mikmek, a Sootscale kobold captured and tortured by the Mites, who joins the party, while Lem gathers a sackful of the centipede eggs. Deeper still, they find a huge whiptail centipede, over 30' long, but Rodrigo's timely used of his wand of burning hands burns the beast to a crisp before Alexander finishes it off. With Mites fleeing before them, the Blades press on...

Great read so far!

Do you still have a link to the weather generator you used?

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While not Morrigan, I DO have this saved for my own game, and it's massively useful as weather, moon phase and calendar generation.

Roonfizzle Garnackle wrote:

While not Morrigan, I DO have this saved for my own game, and it's massively useful as weather, moon phase and calendar generation.

Looks great, thank you!

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Roonfizzle Garnackle wrote:

While not Morrigan, I DO have this saved for my own game, and it's massively useful as weather, moon phase and calendar generation.

That's much better looking than what I had Roonfizzle - I just had a basic Excel spreadsheet for each date, with a RANDOM function spitting back the rolls & a text field for the basic weather chart in the Pathfinder rulebook.

One thing I really like about Golarion is how they matched the weeks and months to the real-world calender, making stuff like this pretty easy. What phase of the moon is it on the 10th of Arodus 4710? Just check what it was on 10/08/10, done.

10th Session - 19/04/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

11/06/10: Beneath the Old Sycamore, the Blades (and Mikmek) continue the war with the Mites, crossing semi-perilous depths before facing the assembled tribe, their leader Grabbles and his trusty pet Tickleback. The tide of battle turns due to the cramped circumstances favouring the horrid fey, with Alexander and Ilyana falling to Tickleback. But Rodrigo's tactical use of his wand of Burning Hands puts pay to many of the mites, while Felix explodes the wounded Tickleback and Mikmek finishes off Grabbles. Honest. The surviving mites free, the statue of Old Sharptooth (and other loot) is recovered and the Blades return to the Sootscale Mine. Having learned en route that most of the recent attacks on travelers have been prompted by Tartuk, the Blades hand the statue to chief Sootscale. The kobold destroys it and turns the tribe on Tartuk, who escapes. The Blades make a peace agreement with the Sootscales, uncover the truth about the psychotic reincarnated Gnome Tartuk, and get the pick of his loot - including Svetlana's wedding ring.

Mikmek also became unexpectedly popular in the group. After one of the PCs downed Grabbles, Mikmek kept stabbing his hated for in a frenzy before announcing that he'd killed him. The PCs let him believe it, and brag about it once he was back with the other Sootscales. In years to come this will lead to him killing an aging King Sootscale and claiming the title for himself. As long as the Kobolds keep this kind of practice within their tribe, the PCs had no beef with it.

Again, environment played a huge part in this dungeon. The players were cramped and slowed for much of it, putting the mites on a much more level playing field. Felix started a pattern here where he finishes off very tough foes who are down to their last one or two HPs with Shocking Grasp, dealing far more damage than is needed to off them. Which I usually take to mean explosive bodily trauma. Once the character became the Ruler the other players gave him the nickname Lord Killsteal, or Lord Badtouch. Also, exploding giant ticks are gross, but at least you get your blood back. Kinda.

Tartuk will turn up again in Realm of the Fellnight Queen, having thrown in with Rhoswen.

12-14/06/10: The Blades return to the Trading Post, but en route Alexander and Ilyana show signs of red ache from Tickleback's bite, swiftly falling to the disease. They manage to return Svetlana's ring to Oleg before collapsing. The others find out that in their absence a badly-wounded trapper named Elyin Ursage arrived at the camp, having heard beguiling music and then fighting dimly remembered foes. Kesten Garess has taken one of the other guards and headed out to deal with this threat. With Svetlana caring for Alexander and Ilyana, Rodrigo decides to travel to the Temple of the Elk to see if Brother Jhod can help.

Elyin is another of the local hunters that I named for continuity purposes and then totally forgot about. The PCs were now of a suitable level to face the Stag Lord; I decided that escalating the situation was a good way to indicate this.

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11th Session - 26/04/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Lem, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

15/06/10: With Ilyana and Alexander sick, Rodrigo, Lem & Jacobi ride like hell to the Temple of the Elk. A short distance from the Trading Post, they meet an idle satyr playing his pipes - Lem explains their plight and asks him for any help he can provide with regards to healing. The satyr assures the halfling that he'll head up to the outpost to see what he can do.

Redwood the Satyr was lifted from a SideTrek called Lust in Dungeon #95. In that, he's a Half-Fiend satyr who is randomly attacking and tormenting the inhabitants of a nameless forest. I dropped the template fluff, but kept his stats since that put him on about the right level for the PCs. While most of the Stag Lord's followers were mortals, it seemed to fit for one or two to be something more exotic.

Oh yes - Redwood was totally one of the Stag Lord's men, and Lem told him exactly how weakened the PCs and the trading post were. Redwood's assurances were literally true.

16/06/10: Alexander overcomes the red ache with Svetlana's aid, while Ilyana sickens and slips into a coma. An exhausted Rodrigo and Lem reach Jhod, resting at the Temple before setting out again before dawn.

18/06/10: Shortly after nightfall, the Leveton's Outpost is attacked by the Stag Lord's brigands - including a certain satyr. Flaming arrows are shot over the walls, and only the iron will of the gate guard allows him to overcome the charm of the panpipes and shout a warning. Nonetheless, most of the defenders break into dance when they attempt to put out the fires and the guard has to slap sense into Felix to get things moving, while Alexander is unpleasantly surprised by a skunk shoved under the gate. Arriving back in time to lend their aid, Rodrigo counteracts the satyr's tune with his flute while Lem and Jhod deal with the attackers - aided themselves by the return of Kesten. Felix, Alexander & Rodrigo finish off the satyr, while the recovered Elyin Ursage leads the effort putting out a fire. In this he is soon greatly aided by the inspirational talents of Rodrigo, and the outpost is saved. Two of the brigands escape into the night, but the Blades fortify their defences to await the dawn rather than pursue them through the moonless night.

More NPCs who came out of the game rather than being planned. I had named Kesten's guards, just in case it ever came up, but had given them no detail beyond that. When one of them - Drago - aced his saving throws, and then got Felix to snap out of Redwood's spell they remembered him fondly. Drago Lordslapper still crops up from time to time when adventure takes the PCs to the town he lives in - and he always greets Lord Felix with a jovial but firm slap to the face.

The siege was a fun battle. Bandit archers hung back and picked at the defenders on the walls while others snuck closer and Redwood's song caused chaos. All of the bandits had earplugs, naturally. I was really happy with the skunk tactic too, as a simple one-shot trick. I conspired to have Lem and Rodrigo arrive at just the right moment, so that Rodrigo could have a musical battle with Redwood, and Lem could hang back and get in sneak attacks against the archers - and when this risked going badly wrong for him, I had Kesten appear to pull his fat out of the fire. The whole thing worked in the way the best games do, with rules and ranges fudged when they needed to be and everyone feeling like their character had contributed, with the regrettable exception of Ilyana. I gave her player Elyin to control for the battle, using Ilyana's stats, so at least she didn't have to totally sit out the fight.

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12th Session - 18/05/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

19/06/10: Svetlana returns to find the siege-damaged outpost, and aids Jhod in waking Ilyana. In the remains of the previous night's fight, four bandits are dead - one of whom appears to be a doppleganger - and two have fled. The Blades try to track the survivors, but find no joy on the hard summer earth.

One of my favourite third-party sourcebooks for 3rd Ed D&D was Goodman Games Complete Guide to Doppelgangers. It presents a brilliant adaptation of mimics & doppelgangers, adding the massive, hive-minded doppelstadt, adds in philosophies and religions - all great stuff. Kingmaker might be the last really big fantasy game I run for a long while. It was now or never. And that's where the Monks of Candlemere came from. I knew it was going to be a long time before this plot came to fruition, but it was one that needed a looooong buildup. Hence, a single, inexplicable doppleganger.

20/06/10: The gathered healers help Ilyana overcome the red ache, and plans are drawn up to strike against the Stag Lord. Felix buys a loyal hound from Oleg.

Felix's player loves her dogs, and this trait carried over into the game. This is one of the areas you really need to fluff it in a game like Pathfinder or D&D, because at anything other than very low levels a loyal hunting dog will just die within seconds of any combat breaking out. So except for RP purposes, both I and an enemy ignores Felix's dogs, and they in turn don't do anything except bark a lot.

21-22/06/10: The Blades ride hard to the south, crossing the Thorn where it meets the Shrike. Near dusk they are close to the waters of Lake Tuskwater, and settle down to wait for dawn.

23/06/10: Using Svetlana's magics and the descriptions gleaned from Kressel, the Blades easily find the Stag Lord's fort. They spend the day scouting around in the light woods surrounding the hilltop vigil and arguing about how to get in, an issue settled when Felix finds ancient, forgotten tunnel into the mound.

I wasn't pushed about the zombies infesting the cursed ground around the fort - there's no way for the PCs to find out why they're there, especially since the bandits have no control over them. It's a bit random and distracting. I covered it with brambles instead. Immobile but hungry, blood-drinking plant monster brambles. The kind of thing a bandit lord would encourage as a living defence around his fortress.

24/06/10: Shortly before dawn, the Blades use the passage to enter the fort. While their stealth is short-lived, the element of surprise serves them well, with the brigands spread out and unprepared. In the ensuing battle; Svetlana kills Auchs the Brute with her shillelagh, while Kahn kills Dovan. Beaky the Owlbear escapes, and is lead a merry chase by Ilyana to save Svetlana's life. The Stag Lord wakes from a drunken haze, and meets Alexander in combat, downing both cavalier and horse, and only the timely intervention of Rodrigo saves them. This allows Alexander to join with a mysterious turncoat bandit named Akiros and decapitate the Stag Lord. Felix and Ilyana take down the rampaging Beaky, leaving the Blades bloody but victorious, with a lone bandit fleeing to spread the word of their deeds.

Granite, the Paladin's mount, wishes it to be known that no Animal Companion enjoys being subject to a Reduce Animal spell and then shoved into a tiny, dark tunnel. People may have been bitten, but they deserved it.

Khan was Svetlana the Druid's animal companion.

Akiros Ismort is one of the more interesting NPCs in the Adventure Path, to me anyway. Since the PCs weren't going to have any non-combat interactions during the adventure, I decided to have him be inspired by them and join the fight against the other bandits rather than just be killed. Put it down to the hand of Erastil.

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13th Session - 24/05/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

24/06/10: In the Stag Lord's fort, the Blades start cleaning away the bodies when they uncover stairs into the store rooms below. They descend, encountering the shapeshifting Nugrah the Decrepit, whose summoned allies and wolverine claws tear through Alexander and Svetlana before Ilyana puts him down.

I really do wish that my players had gone for more of a subterfuge angle with the bandits, since the backstory of the Stag Lord (and Nugrah) is suitably tragic, but there you go. I got a chance to tell it a long time later when Rodrigo used Legend Lore to find a way to defeat Staggy's Ghost.

They stay put for the reminder of the day, and the whole of the next one, resting and taking stock of their haul – Ilyana claims the Stag Lord's helm, Svetlana takes his armour and Alexander his sword. The spoils of years of banditry lie within the keep, immovable for now, and not of tremendous value. Investigation reveals that the brambles around the
fort are carnivorous, and the heads of all the bandits bar the Stag Lord himself are put on spikes along the border. Ilyana skins Beaky, taking the makings of a fine cloak from the owlbear. Falgrim Sneeg, who had not died from his wounds, is bound, gagged and brought along to face justice in Restov, as per the request of Kesten Garess. Akiros Ismort repents his banditry and so is not hung, instead joining the Blades on their trip North.

I'd forgotten that Ilyana has an owlbear-fur cloak. I really should remind her of that.

27/06/10: After travelling along the banks of the Shrike, the Blades hurl the Stag Lord's body into the river by Nettle's bridge. The restless undead claims the remains of his murderer and disappears, leaving Alexander with his ranseur and nightmare-free nights.

[ooc]I'd totally forgotten this too. When the Stag Lord's Ghost rises (9 IC years & 3.5 OOC ones) later there was a search to find his body. As far as anyone could remember, IC or OOC, he was decapiated with the rest and the body lost when his fort was turned into a castle. It's been quite illuminating, writing these notes!

28/06/10: The Blades arrive back in Oleg's, where there was much rejoicing, involving a hearty meal, the consumption of the expense liquor taken from the Thorn River camp, and much clapping on the back. The reward for dealing with the Kobold Threat has been delivered from Restov, only adding to the celebrations. Akiros admits his past as a Paladin of Erastil to Rodrigo, who talks him into visiting the Temple of the Elk.

I toned down Akiros' crimes quite a bit. He still had an affair with a married woman, but instead of killing her when she claimed that he had raped her and then gutting her husband, I had her husband attack Akiros and the Paladin react in a rage, killing the man without thinking. My players wouldn't have been willing to forgive the first one. For a man dedicated to a deity who is overwhelmingly pro-family, an affair in itself is a massive sin. Akiros' barbarian temper just sealed the deal and sent him on a self-destructive slide that wound up in the Stag Lord's employ.

29/06/10: Kesten and Drago head back to Restov, with Sneeg in tow, to deliver word of the Stag Lord's demise to the Mayor. Our heroes enjoy baths, hangovers and some much-needed rest.

30/06/10: As Akiros has informed them of the nesting places of the predatory Tatzlwyrms, the Blades join him in heading into the Kamelands, parting ways after a few days as he leaves to talk to Brother Jhod. As Summer storms crash against the Greenbelt, the Blades explore West of the Stag Lord's Fort.

03/07/10: The Blades join Rodrigo in celebrating Archerfeast, hunting and drinking meads brought from Oleg, playing games of skill and enjoying a lull in the storms.

05/07/10: In a spider-haunted valley, fields of fangberrys are finally found, and harvested amidst much swearing.

08/07/10: Along the Skunk River, the nest of the elusive & predatory Tatzlwyrms is finally found, amidst sand islands in a ford. The three dragonkin are dispatched without too much difficulty due to careful manoeuvring on the part of the Blades. The remains of a previous explorer are found in the nest, and on the shore the ruins of an old settlement, complete with the bones of the former inhabitants. The Blades spend the night here, sheltering from the tumultuous storm before travelling north in the morning.

12/07/10: Detouring somewhat, the Blades visit Bokken, providing him with his long-sought fangberries. The alchemist makes good on his promise, making cheaper potions for them for the rest of the summer. Jacobi is presented with a birthday present of King of the Stump pieces carved from bones recovered from Tuskgutter's lair by Felix. After the short trip back to the Leveton's trading post, our heroes find Kesten waiting for them with a message from their patron, the Mayor of Restov. Their presence is requested, at their earliest convenience...

[ooc]Bokken was as pleased as Bokken can be, which isn't much.

14th Session - 31/05/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem

13-15/07/10: The Blades travel for Restov, stopping in Fort Serenko and the village of Nitka's Crossing en route and hearing tales of the newly founded Varnhold. Jacobi disappears into the Restov to spend his accumulated pay.

16/07/10: The Blades meet Ioseph Sellemius, the Lord Mayor of Retov. Rod delights him with tales of their adventures in the Greenbelt and they are promised a charter recognising their claim of the land, to be formally presented in a few days.

17/07/10: The Blades go shopping. Rodrigo tries to sell local Halflings on the merits of the new community, and visits Ezvanki Keegh (Restov's high priest of Erastil).

18-20/07/10: The ceremony! In attendance are local nobles, minor scions of a few of the Houses, representatives of the Churches and Maegar Varn. Over the course of the evening and the next few days, the Blades meet with various factions to secure resources for their fledgling settlement, making some deals and discarding others. Restov itself, backed by the Swordlords, provides most of the capital, while Ioseph adds some out of his own pocket in exchange for having a man in the settlement.

Erik Freund's Venture Capital thread was a huge boon for my campaign. The players got a meagre amount of BPs from the Crown of Restov, and then got to decide who they want to get into bed with for the rest. It was also a nice opportunity to play up the tension in Brevoy & lay out which noble houses were in which power block. I knew at this stage that Brevoy was going to collapse into civil war during the campaign, and this would impact on the player's Kingdom. In the end they wound up mostly allied with the Houses that didn't support Noleski Surtova's claim to the throne.

After meeting with some of the Houses, the Blades makes deals with Houses Medvyed & Garess. The latter are interested in control over mineral imports into Brevoy, while the former want a scion of the House to marry the ruler of the fledgling nation. The Churches of Erastil and Pharasma are also approached, and give their blessing to the endeavour in the form of preaching and the emigration of dedicated followers.

Medvyed's arranged marriage worked out pretty well. I used Central Casting's old Heroes of Legend book to get personality details for the bride, who will turn up in a few sessions.

Rodrigo also spreads word through the halfling community about the prospect offered by the new holdings, and on a visit to Rajo Chladny, Master of the Academy of Arcane Sparring, secures the aid of the wizard school. The revelation that Granite is from stock bred by the mage doesn't hurt matters either.

Granite was, again, Alexander the Cavalier's steed. She was pretty damn badass. At this point in the game, it was a regular joke that the Cavalier was her assistant, responsible for drawing enemies in close enough for her to kick them to death.

The Academy of Arcane Sparring was my effort at keeping Restov's tone very solid. If the culture is all about duels and swordfighting, then even the mages could be focused on similar, martial & challenge-based applications. Rajo became a less-comedic version of Mustrum Ridcully from the Discworld books, very physically commanding and interested in animal husbandry. He's also the one who kicked Felix the Sorcerer out of school for not being magical. Felix still begrudges this.

Lem is approached by his old legitimate business friends in the Merchants Guild of the One Eyed Witch, who have an interest in running trade through the Greenbelt, to which he agrees. Alexander meets with the Swordlord Jamandi Aldori, and talks them into upping their investment, but only as long as he maintains a high profile in the settlement and keeps Mivon in check. Svetlana is approached by Irig Svenson, a Cleric of Hanspur, and makes a tentative agreement with him for support in exchange for religious freedom, but this is cut thankfully short when the Blades figure out who Hanspur is.

The rivalry between the Swordlords of Restov and Mivon would give me lots to work with over the years.

Hanspur is going to be another recurring thorn in the PCs sides. On one hand, the God of Rivers is definitely someone to keep on-side when you're founding a new River Kingdom. On the other, sometimes (not often, but sometimes) his priests will murder people by drowning. The river gives and the river takes. Svetlana, a follower of Gozreh, rolled very poorly on her Knowledge: Religion check when first approached. Rodrigo rolled much better when Svetlana presented her new ally to the group.

Finally the Blades meet with Count Addar Arnovski, a retired general with a keen interest in river transport, who owns a large amount of the Restov docks, and agree to work together to clear the Shrike and secure a path into the River Kingdoms.

This was a pretty simple deal - instead of Build Points, Addar would pay half the cost of a Docks in their main settlement if they opened a water route between it and Restov. If nothing else, it helped me steer the path of the Kingdom gently towards where I wanted it to go.

15th Session - 07/06/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem, Felix

It takes over two weeks for the Blades to lead their caravans from Restov, across the Nomen Heights to Olegs Trading Post, then south across the plains and hills to their destination.

After much debate, the positions of authority are assigned, with the charismatic Felix taking the title of Lord. Alexander the Cavalier becomes General, satisfying the Restov Sword Lords. Rodrigo the Bard is appointed Diplomat, Ilyana the Ranger becomes Councillor, and Svetlana the Druid becomes the Marshall. Lem the Rogue, to the surprise of no-one, is unofficially appointed Spymaster.

Felix's appointment was a treat for me. As a character, Felix was a great compromise candidate between the other strong personalities in the group, able to balance and support as needed. OOC, Felix's player suffers from a lot of anxiety, and her friends nominating her for the role was a good bost, and really gave her a lot to interact with. The social aspect of a good RPG can be very theraputic.

Oleg is easily convinced to take on the role of Treasurer, with a much more cautious Jhod becoming High Priest. Kesten Garess eagerly becomes the Warden, while his former underling Drago becomes the temporary Magister, based on his ability to resist ensorcellment.

Drago Lordslapper had no qualifications whatsoever to be Magister.... but neither did anyone else.

The new settlement of Vloda is started on the shores of Lake Tuskwater, with the hot month of Arodus spent in a buzz of activity; farms are started, fishermen explore the lake and the ground around the Stag Lord's old camp is cleared. The killer thorns burned out by Svetlana.

Naming the new settlement took almost longer than anything else in this session. I used DM's veto to shut down one or two names, which were taken from real-world sources because they were too immersion breaking. Brevoy had been protrayed in a Slavic manner, so someone looked up the word for "water" and came back with Vloda. I'm not sure of the accuracy of that translation, but it's a good, realistic name that also fits a fantasy setting, so everyone was happy with it. The Vlodan flag became a horse (Granite) stepping over churning water.

The long summer cools, and as Rova arrives the first buildings are erected and settlers track up the Thorn river, laying roads and slowly moving towards the Temple of the Elk. A family of halflings approach Rodrigo with a goal of building a new covered bridge at Nettle's Crossing, looking for his blessing. This is granted, with the caveat that agents of Lord Felix are exempt from any tolls. The wizard Zedrack arrives from Restov, clearly unhappy about being moved from his teaching post in the city down to the wilds - especially when the ruler is a dropout from the academy, and a sorcerer. But Rodrigo placates him, and the prospect of becoming Magister seems to hold some appeal.

Nettle's Crossing was a freebie for the players, in much the same way as Tatzlford will be, only much smaller in scale. I gave it to them partially to reward the Halfling Bard's work on encouraging immigration, but mostly so I could use the Buzz in the Bridge adventure from Dragon Magazine. Nettle's Crossing just seemed the best location for the bridge that scenario requires.

Zedrak was based on one of my first D&D characters when I was a kid, now portrayed as a city wizard banished to the sticks. He was an Abjurer, because I find that school of magic very interesting. It speaks a lot to the mindset of someone who will choose to focus on protection spells. He got quite popular with the group.

Rumour from the local hunters who arrive in Vloda to trade speaks of a green dragon terrorising the southern Narlmarches. The Blades decide to visit the Candlemere Monastery, and midway through the month of Rova follow along the coast of the Tuskwater. On the way they stop to see the swamp witch Akiros warned them about, discovering that while she is old and cantankerous, the Old Beldame is not actually that nasty. After a brief misunderstanding concerning the Stag Lord's Helm, she welcomes the Blades and is interested in her new neighbours from Vloda. She warns them of crazed hermits, orcs, oozes and drakes, tells them of an ancient barrow to the east and when Felix asks if there is anything she needs, requests Black Rattlecaps from the other side of the lake. The Blades continue on, discovering that Lake Candlemere is a lot bigger than they had realised, and return to Vloda to secure boats.

There's no Dragon, just the Forest Drake from Rivers Run Red. But it was enough to make Lord Felix's ears prick up, what with his "awoken by a green dragon" backstory.

Candlemere Monastery was, as I mentioned before, a Doppelganger colony. I wanted it to be there, but only in the background, for as long as possible. So whenever the PCs got too interested in it, I gave them a quiet distraction somewhere else. Not enough to actually stop them if they were determined, just enough to be subtle.

The Old Beldamme has mostly served as exposition in my game; very much in tune with the fae & the First World, but also old and isolationist.

For a long time in-game I gave Ilyana the Ranger grief over people thinking she was the Stag Lord/Lady.

The next day they sail through the Tuskwater, stopping near the thermal mud pools beyond the southern shore to collect the rattlecaps. Unfortunately an immense fungal monstrosity called Tendriculos also sleeps in the hot springs, and makes gathering them more of a chore than anticipated.

I'm pretty sure that Tendriculos ate Svetlana, but she had been holding a rope which then wound up in a tug-of-war between the plant monsters and a Summoned Infernal Pony. Rodrigo the Bard was getting very religious, but felt that summoning a hell pony to a situation in which it was very likely to be eaten was preferable to putting a celestial one in the same spot.

16th Session - 14/06/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

18/09/10: Lem takes the badly wounded Svetlana back to Vloda to heal, while the others gather rattlecaps and return to the Old Beldamme. She accepts the mushrooms and sets to drying them for use in her teas, promising a discount on any enchanting work the Blades need doing. Again attempting to reach Lake Candlemere, our heroes continue to sail down the lakes, but as they enter the rivers joining them they disturb several oozes in the water, who attempt to mindlessly consume the boats. Pierre the boatman drags the paralysed Lord Felix to safety at the cost of his own life, being melted by a stream of acid from the protoplasmic hunters, but careful use of conjured water elementals on the part of Rodrigo slows them enough for the Blades to slice them to pieces. With Felix paralysed for several hours, the Blades return to Vloda again, and Ilyana sends an Animal Messenger to the Monks. No reply is received, but Pierre is posthumously awarded the medal of Granite, for Bravery.

Poor, brave Pierre, melted in his prime. At least he got a medal. Named after a horse.

I'm pretty sure that the Oozes in question were a Sea Scourge and a Slithering Tracker, for a nasty combo of ranged, stealth & paralysis.

I love ooze monsters. I had them originate as sloughed-off bits of the Doppelstadt, to explain why there were so many of them of so many different types. Having Lake Candlemere be known for it's Ooze problem let me put plenty into the game without the PCs questioning why I kept using the same enemy type, though honestly I suspected them to get suspicious about how the "monks" dealt with them much earlier.

The weather worsens as Lamashan falls, and with it comes disputes between the worshipers of Erastil and those of Pharasma. Both churches sponsored Vloda, but the council is clearly favouring one, say the followers of the Lady of Graves. Suck it up, say the followers of Old Dead Eye. Despite the spiritual leaders of each side attempting to defuse the situation, it takes its toll on Vloda until a graveyard is built (followed by a jail in Kuthona) and a request sent to Restov for an accredited priest of Pharasma.

Random Kingdom Event - Religious tension! One thing I learned very early on was to roll up Kingdom Events months and months in advance, so I could prepare for them and work them into my plots. Which the events were totally random, they all fed back into the story very pleasingly.

Through Neth and into Kuthona, expansion is upriver along the Thorn, with farmlands being divvied out. Zedrack takes on the role of Magister from Drago, who is happy to return to a post under Kesten Garess in the town guard. The Rezbin family approach the town council about building on the site of the Tatzlwyrm Ford, in the ruined village, and are granted this right under certain conditions.

I'm not really sure what to do about explaining where everything is as the Kingdom begins to grow. This could get confusing. Is there any way to link pictures into posts on here?

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Morrigan wrote:

12th Session - 18/05/16

Akiros Ismort is one of the more interesting NPCs in the Adventure Path, to me anyway. Since the PCs weren't going to have any non-combat interactions during the adventure, I decided to have him be inspired by them and join the fight against the other bandits rather than just be killed. Put it down to the hand of Erastil.

He was a big hit with my players, as well. The PCs had been drawn apart a bit during the fighting in the fort, when Akiros came up from behind and went for the sorceress and the barbarian protecting her. The cleric came up to support, with one reformed bandit NPC they'd been lugging around (War-1) at his side.

Unfortunately, when the bandit saw the kind of damage Akiros could dish out, he failed a morale check I made for him and tried to run, but got cut down by Akiros' attack of opportunity. The cleric saw him bleed out, but couldn't get past Akiros to administer a healing spell, so he decided to use Channel Positive Energy in order to prevent their ally from dying, even if that meant healing the enemy in the process.

I figured that was just the kind of sign Akiros would be looking for to convince him that these people might be more worthy of his service than the Stag Lord, so he surrendered. "Don't know who you people are, but if you'd rather heal an enemy than let a friend die, you have to be better than this."

Canarr wrote:
I figured that was just the kind of sign Akiros would be looking for to convince him that these people might be more worthy of his service than the Stag Lord, so he surrendered. "Don't know who you people are, but if you'd rather heal an enemy than let a friend die, you have to be better than this."

How did you approach his crimes? They're pretty serious.

17th Session - 21/06/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem, Felix

The year turns, and though the winter of Abadius 4711 is a heavy one, settlers flock to Vloda and the lands surrounding it, bolstering the population to well over two thousand. Despite this, the month passes smoothly, with builders reaching the Temple of the Elk to prepare it for restoration and a shrine to Pharasma being built beside the graveyard in Vloda itself. The only bad news is for Lord Felix, who is informed by cash-on-delivery messenger that his mother will be coming to live with him once the snows thaw.

Felix's backstory included an incredibly annoying, status-hungry mother. So of course she would have to turn up. Felix was utterly incapable of dealing with her, even now he was literally forging a Kingdom, and used to hide a lot. If his player missed a session, we usually declared that Felix had disappeared somewhere to get away from her.

Calistril, however, comes thick with disturbances. Builders in the Stag Lord's keep find evidence that it was once a shrine to Gyronna - very little remains, but this is a poor omen. Vuksha, devotee of Hanspur, is spotted by Svetlana in town working on the docks, and after some debate the council have Kesten march him out of town, threatening him with imprisonment if he returns.

And the problems with Hanspur kick off. This caused Unrest, and any accident that happened on the rivers of the new kingdom was blamed on the Lords upsetting Hanspur. This was also the first reference to Gyrona, and the players would come to despise her followers.

Shortly thereafter, a letter comes from Maegar Varn concerning the arrest of Haps Bowden, who maintains that the Blades pardoned him of banditry. They send back that they did no such thing, they just exiled him. Rumours fly of elven ruins in the south of the Greenbelt, of relics containted therein, of massive hookjaw turtles and of hodags and shambling mounds. Early in the month a traveller named Trindon Mosley brings a request for aid from the Ughar villages of the souther Kamelands. The message is unclear at best, but the Blades decide to help their new neighbours and head into the melting snow on 09/02/11. The trip is tough, with raging water and troll sightings, but real worry kicks in when they find the widespread remains of the trapper Meg Maces, and Ilyana and Svetlana identify the bizarre signs as the work of nothing less than a Wendigo. They arrive in the village of Gloym on 11/02/11, to find the untrusting locals preparing to send "sacrifices" to appease Istria, the Goddess of the Mountain and call off her killing breath - the Wendigo.

The fate of Haps Bowden was a pretty small thing, with no major implications beyond deciding how the rest of the world - and the populace - saw the new Kingdom. Forgiving, vengeful... how did they want to be seen? They had banished Haps, but he was still a bandit who had preyed on the outskirts of Brevoy, and someone else caught him for it. So Maegar Varn had him hung.

Gloym and the Goddess of the Mountain come from Legendary's Cold Mountain. I pruned the adventure down a lot and set it in the very south-east of the Greenbelt... where there totally a very small mountain range. Don't ask any questions.

18th Session - 28/06/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem, Felix

11/02/11: The Blades argue with the elders of Gloym long into the night, eventually staying despite the villager's disapproval at the behest of Ganec Trom.

In case you're not familiar with Cold Mountain, it concerns a minuscule village being threatened by a Wendigo, and the Elders not wanting outside help at all. They regard the Wendigo as being a curse sent against them by a "Goddess" on the mountaintop for displeasing her. I don't want to give away the whole plot, but it's a great addition to Kingmaker.

12/02/11: The Blades start their ascent of Istria's mountain. The find a site of worship consisting of a dolmen built atop a waterfall, where Lem is attacked by a wendigo raven - before it is immolated by Svetlana - and the haunted waterfall comes close to drawing them all over the edge. Continuing upriver they find the ghost of Piotr Nizolek possessing a stromkarl nixie, and after some quick talking by Lem make peace with the restless spirit, promising to resolve his rage against the goddess. Through freezing weather, thinning air and avalanches the Blades press on, leaving their mounts behind until they discover the Valley of the Goddess, who, it transpires, is a mountain fae called an orruol. It transpires that Istria and her spriggan attendants released the curse of the wendigo when her lover, Byard, was possessed and turned on her, which itself followed Piotr's accidental death in the mountains. Our heroes talk reason into Istria, who banishes the spriggans and talks with Piotr, who is freed to enter the afterlife. Unable to control the wendigo, she presents the Blades with relics which may help in destroying it and resolves to take more care when it comes to the Ughar people.

Istria was a useful NPC. I played her as millennia old, and utterly disinterested in anything not relating to rocks or mountains, expect when her ego was flattered. So she was a good source of information on things which had happened aeons before - such as the Cyclops Empire - but very bad on details.

Her Spriggans were more malicious and frequently gave her really bad advice for dealing with mortals, leading to them getting banished when the PCs pointed this out.

Morrigan wrote:
Canarr wrote:
I figured that was just the kind of sign Akiros would be looking for to convince him that these people might be more worthy of his service than the Stag Lord, so he surrendered. "Don't know who you people are, but if you'd rather heal an enemy than let a friend die, you have to be better than this."
How did you approach his crimes? They're pretty serious.

I believe if he actually raped the woman,they would never have accepted him. But killing two people in the heat of the moment didn't seem to strike them as overly severe. I suppose being adventurers and used to killing things for gold makes you take a different perspective.

I'm planning to steal a scene out of Reverse's Kingmaker Podcast (Sugar-fuelled Gamers; if you haven't heard it, I strongly recommend it) where a Paladin of Erastil comes up with an arrest warrant for Akiros. Should be interesting...

Glad to see you brought in Cold Mountain. I've been considering that myself, but was wary of extending the already long AP by even more story. What parts did you trim off to shorten it?

Canarr wrote:
Glad to see you brought in Cold Mountain. I've been considering that myself, but was wary of extending the already long AP by even more story. What parts did you trim off to shorten it?

Cold Mountain is very good, but like most published adventures it puts in too many loops and fights for me. I don't mind this at all, I want to be clear - I'm much happier to buy an adventure which gives me too much and then prune it down, rather than bare bones I have to spend time adding to.

Of course, I've now been running Kingmaker for over four years, and I'm only on book 5, so take my advice for 'shortening' things with a grain of salt.

Firstly I just took out a few steps for the ghost. Instead of 'big brother goes up mountain to beseech goddess to save ailing little sister, gets killed on mountainside by beasts, hunter brings back bloodied clothing, mother goes up mountain to scream at goddess, falls off mountain, ghost possesses goddess's lover', I just went 'big brother goes up mountain to beseech goddess, falls off mountain, ghost possesses goddess's lover'. Net effect is an angry ghost and possession. Might loose a little bit of nuance, but it's less info that I have to work into the narrative so the players know what's going on.

I dropped Trindon Mosely being distrustful of government and the PCs having to bump up his attitude to get the full story from him. They had a lot going on in the kingdom, and I wanted them to head off & do the adventure. So instead, he makes a beeline for them, flat out asks for help and gives them all the info he has.

The trip to Gloym was described in a bit of detail to enforce how wild and rough the frontier was. I dropped the Voonith, Owlbear & Grizzly Bear encounters totally, and just put in evidence that the moss trolls were in the area, but not as a fight. I wanted to put lots of signs of trolls into the AP early on, to build up Hargulka's presence for later on.

The bloody victim discovery stayed as written.

The people of Gloym were unfriendly, but not too hostile, and I gave Sense Motive checks right off the bat to suggest how scared they were. It's my experience that players will be more likely to help NPCs that they either like or feel sorry for. I also kept with the more slavic theme that my game had for Brevoy and the Stolen Lands, as opposed to the Native American artwork in the adventure.

I think I had the ghost be verbosely screaming a lot in the waterfall encounter, to suggest that it could be communicated with, and the PCs took the bait.

Climbing the mountain and talking to Istria went pretty much as written, with a slant the suggest she doesn't really get what's going on or why what she's doing is wrong. The villagers ancestors promised to worship her as long as she kept the mountain safe - all of a sudden one of them is possessing her lover and screaming at her, so as far as she is concerned, she is the attacked party. She had no idea there was a plague, and there wasn't much she could do about it even if she did. Her interests are in things of stone that last millennia, and her ego.

The PCs used their knowledge of the fae, buttered her up and explained the situation, and she agreed that maybe she had overreacted, and told them how to destroy the wendigo.

Rather than having the PCs hunt the wendigo, and then one of the villagers still being cursed and attacking that night, I just had the PCs encounter some infected villagers in an outlying farmstead, before they lured in the infected wolverine that was the primary vector for the curse.

I kept for the spriggans trying to mug the PCs on their way home, but that encounter took about 10 minutes from start to finish, and set things up for down the line.

19th Session - 05/07/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem, Felix

13-15/02/11: Armed with the wands provided by Isstria, the Blades return to Gloym and spend two days scouring the surrounding countryside to determine the ideal ambush spot for the Bloody Beast. They discover that the inhabitants of one of the local farmsteads have become wendigo and have been preying on their neighbours; they swiftly put them to the sword, burning the remains.

Wendigo-ism being highly contagious in this adventure.

16/02/11: Using Rodrigo and a sack of rabbits as bait, they lure out the Wendigo Dire Wolverine and set fire to it, the bloody battle ending with Lord Felix's legendary Bad Touch spattering it's hindquarters over a wide area. The villagers are overjoyed and while not eager to welcome an influx of "outsiders", pledge welcome and support to the rulers of Vloda. They are also presented with exquisite gems marked by Istria with her favour, delivered by her great owl.

Bad Touch is Shocking Grasp. Felix inevitably uses it when he's behind someone to get flanking, so it's frequently on the rump of larger enemies.

The gems conferred a +2 Diplomacy bonus to stone-type fae, iirc. The players could mount them however they wanted. Some put them on shields, some in rings or necklaces, etc. It was mostly a bragging rights reward.

17/02/11: Leaving the village the next day they are held up by Istria's dismissed spriggan servants, who attempt to mug them for reparations. A brief but bloody battle later and both surrender, though Alexander badly injures one even while she yields. After some debate, Felix confiscates their belongings - including more precious gems - and banishes them from the Greenbelt.

Consequences! The Culchek Spriggans are a threat in Book 3, and this was a chance to set that up. When one of the Spriggans surrendered and Alexander kept attacking - until the other PCs yelled at him - the seeds for the Spriggans loathing the PCs were sewn.

20th Session - 26/07/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Felix

26/02/11: As the Blades continue to explore the Kamelands, having send Lem to intercept the local priest of Pharasma, a rainstorm sweeps over the hills. Amidst the swollen rivers and hammering rain, a wandering troll is drawn to their campfire; it is dispatched, but the efforts required to incinerate it's remains are intense.

The PCs had sent a message back to Vloda requesting the aid of the settlement's priest against the Wendigo, but defeated the monster before he arrived. When Lem's player missed this game, it seemed like an easy reason for him not being around.

27/02/11: Reaching the edge of Lake Tuskwater, Ilyana and Svetlana find Crackjaw's cove, and with a bit of work the turtle menace is dispatched.


28/02/11: While crossing the Shrike, the Blades find themselves ambushed by a pack of hungry brush thylacines, but some careful spellcraft and charging drives off the predators.

01/03/11: Spring officially begins as the Blades return to Vloda. Arven is presented with Crackjaw's shell, and duly hands over his magic ring - which turns out to be enchanted with Feather Fall. The town is bustling, and with Felix's bride-to-be on her way, preparations are made - hiring Anando Veresisi, a recent halfling immigrant, to serve as his steward. The council disagree over money, with the Church of Pharasma pleading the necessity of a hospital, Oleg arguing for more incentive for merchants, Zedrak demanding a school, and Kesten urging the founding of a barracks to get a proper armed force in place. Jhod sends word from the Temple that the rough settlement around it is now almost complete, with several workmen setting up permanent residences there. Several vineyards are established around the growing town.

Anando is the second use of the Hirelings free supplement. Anando won his way into the Felix's heart by acting as a buffer between him and his mother. Which made his eventual betrayal all the more of a gut punch.

The Temple of the Elk became the second settlement in Vloda. The Erastil worship was strong in this place.

13/03/11: Without warning, a beautiful yellow flower opens all along the northern shore of the Tuskwater and up the Thorn river just as Ilva Medvyed arrives with her entourage. She is taken with Felix, and the flowers are named Ilyas in here honour. She spends several days in the settlement, before requesting a trip to the Temple of the Elk.

Random Kingdom Event! That tied in so nicely. Ilya was another NPC I made with Heroes of Legend. Luckily for Felix, she transpired to be a basically decent person, in a very material way. The type who thinks she should enjoy life and not worry about anything too deeply, because they could so easily die without warning. Well, it is a D&D world. She also got a weird quirky where her family thought she was the reincarnation of a potent Druid - whether she is or not has never been answered - and occasionally odd stuff happened. I used random appearance of Ilya's Bloom as a sign that things were going well for the Kingdom from time to time after this.

21st Session - 02/08/16

Characters: Rodrigo, Svetlana, Alexander, Ilyana, Lem, Felix - Plus special guest Yarrick

Yarrick is a good friend of mine who moved abroad a few years ago, and was back in the country for a few weeks. So he hopped into the game playing one of Ilya's bodyguards.

14/03/11: Lem continues to keep his ear to the ground in Vloda, hearing of an expedition of gnomes who recently passed through on a mission to map the Stolen Lands, and of the highly-profitable Corax logging camp.

Again, much better to have the players know of local NPCs before they run into them in the wild - in this case, the Narthorple Expedition.

15/03/11: At Ilya's request, the Blades take a trip to the Temple of the Elk. Now a small tent-town, consisting of workers and those who provide for them, the biggest problem is Grigs stealing from the tap room.

16/03/11: Svetlana manages to track down Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut. With their aid, they make a deal between the workers and the Grigs. The Grigs will act as foragers and watchmen for the settlement, and will in turn be paid in beer and song. Almost everyone on both sides is happy, and Ilya is highly impressed.

18/03/11: As the Blades near Vloda, their horses and dogs go crazy. Ilyana and Svetlana identify goblins, and a hurried return is made to the fledgling town. With the aid of Ansa, they determine that there are two armies moving to surround the town - the populace is divided between the under-construction castle, and the jail & buildings surrounding it. Rod send elk riders up to farms to the north to evacuate, and to the Sootscales and the bridge-building halflings of Nettle's Crossing. The goblins attack at twilight. By the prison, Ilyana intercepts the vulture riders (who get a LOT of botches) while Lem and Yarrik lead rooftop archers, and Alexander deals with the goblins who break the barricades. Lem and Yarrik finally finish off the chieftain while Alexander organises bucket-chains to deal with fires the goblins started. In the castle, Felix and the others hold off a second warband, raining flame, arrows and sorcery upon them from the walls.

Within the walls of the castle, Kesten holds a pack of goblin dogs back from the villagers, while Zedrak the Abjurer literally holds the gates.

Pathfinder Goblins are too cool to not fit into the game somehow. I'd read a lot of the threads on Hargulka's Monster Kingdom at this point, and while it didn't directly appeal to me there was a lot of inspiration there. While Hargulka didn't make alliances with other races, he did drive a goblin tribe living near his lair against the interlopers into "his" domain. Hargulka himself was also being spurred on by Nyrissa, not that this will come to light for a long time.

The siege was quite dynamic, with the PCs separated around the settlement fighting off different waves of foes. Most of the PCs had NPC backups, and I just used the success or failure of the PC attacks to decide how well their support was doing. The Stag Lord's keep had become a castle at this point, where all the non-combatant population had been crammed. Without wanting to dilute the players being the heroes, I had NPCs get off-screen awesome to show that they PCs weren't surrounded by incompetents. When Lord Felix came down to find a bleeding Kesten surrounded by dead Goblin Dogs, and an exhausted Zedrak holding the fragments of a ruined castle gate together with Abjuration magic & keeping the worst of the attack away from a bunch of kids, none of the PCs felt robbed, and they built up a history with the NPCs.

The players also made really good tactical choices and I rewarded that with minimal casualties and damage to their city, so I gave them a +2 Loyalty as a reward.

Other than goblins being fun, the main purpose of this siege was to get the players thinking of Vloda as a place, instead of a stat block. Even the settlement grid is pretty abstract. This was the first time the PCs ran down streets between buildings they had placed, scaled walls and jumped from one to the other. It made Vloda much more real. Instead of the players asking me where things were, or what were good defensive points, they were able to look at their own map and make references to the defences they had put in place to control the battle. At this point I started coming up with a lot of minor plots which required the players to travel to specific buildings, or meet people in a tavern they had named, and so on.

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