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Kingmaker: The Varnhold Vanishing Sessions Three Through Ten

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m back!

It’s been a good long absence guys, and pretty hectic for me with a changing work schedule with new and weird hours.  On average, I’ve got time to run our Kingmaker game twice a month (two weeks running, two weeks not), but in putting in the time to do this, I have allowed my writing to fall behind.  Which is why this latest update will give you content from our last…eight sessions!

 

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they’d been tasked by the mayor of Restov to investigate what was going on with the neighboring kingdom of Varnhold, who had recently gone incommunicado.  Additionally they were to discover what had happened to Restov’s trading caravans, which had not returned for the last few weeks.  With that in mind, the group made their way east towards the Tors of Leviennes, passing through the Varnhold Pass and taking a look at the gently rolling hills surrounding the city.  Noting the possible signs of abandonment and/or death near the city, the party angled towards Varnhold, eager to find out what was going on!

Their entrance into the city was met with no fanfare or even signs of intelligent life.  Silence lay heavy on the streets, and the PC’s quickly surmised that there was little left here of interest.  Still, they dedicated themselves to searching through the houses and shops for any clues of what had happened.  Some disturbing wildlife and a couple of odds-and-ends equipment later, they hadn’t come up with much.  Inside what appeared to be the town’s main tavern, they struck proverbial gold– a tall creature, identified as being a Spriggan, appeared paralyzed in a corner of a room, clutching a book.  Taking a look at both this Spriggan and the tavern as a whole, the party started to piece a few clues together.  The Spriggan was under some kind of enchantment freezing him in stasis, triggered when he attempted to read the book in his hand.  Papers found upstairs, plus this book, told the PC’s that an explorer had found a bracelet on an island in the middle of a lake, and revealed an obscure bit of text mentioning the name ‘Vordekai.’

Continuing forward, more homes were checked upon, more shops investigated, but nothing of import was showing up.  Noruas the Gunslinger and Gavriil the Arcanist would on occasion collect childrens toys and books, preparing themselves for an eventual life of parenthood in the future.  In one of the last houses that the party entered, along the southern edge of the town, the group found a large four-poster bed of quite a bit of elegance!  Having judged by now that the townsfolk were all dead or missing, Noruas and Gavriil decided to take the time to carefully disassemble the bed for travel in their wagon, while Eneko the Bard/Cavalier and Elysia the Ranger continued forwards.

After clearing the last few houses, the Ranger and Bard made their way up a path towards a stockade upon a hill overlooking the town proper, wishing to find if that was still inhabited or, barring this, if it had any good loot.  Opening the thick wooden doors got them inside, where they found the courtyard abandoned of colonists.  However, they did spy a few Spriggans– these very much alive and well!  A battle began, with Elysia firing arrows at the Spriggans while the duo began to retreat back to the stockade doors.  As they reached their exit, the duo sensed that the tide of battle had turned in their favor…and decided to press the attack instead of retreating, with Elysia’s wolf Tyr and Eneko’s horse Taz both moving forward to help in the fight.

Unfortunately, reinforcements arrived in the form of arrows and bolts from the windows of the blockhouse, and diplomacy failed when the Spriggan leader inside refused to negotiate.  Noruas and Gavriil were alerted of the battle soon after, with the Arcanist making the journey up the road to the stockade to assist.  His Webs filling the upper floor of the blockhouse, plus some well targeted Sleep spells, put a quick end to the fighting as Elysia burst through the door and dispatched some of the defenders inside.

Our intrepid Ranger was able to search the rooms for loot while the rest of the party secured prisoners– three Spriggans remained; Sagai, Buckeye, and their leader, Agai.  Agai explained that their tribe, the Culchek Spriggans, had moved into Varnhold when the humans disappeared one day.  Finding it empty, they decided to move in and claim the town as their own.  Eneko sat the trio down and convinced them that the best course of action would be for them to join the PC’s for now, traveling with them for some redemption.  Gavriil spoke with Agai a bit, and convinced him that with enough dedication to a deity, he would be able to raise from the dead his clan, of which only he and his two companions were left alive!

While the Spriggans were busy getting a dressing-down for their crimes, Elysia finished her looting of the stockade.  She found a bag of holding which contained much of Agai’s treasure, including a magnificent bow and much gold!  She also stuck a few barrels of alcohol found in the courtyard into her bag, just in case she got thirsty later.

From here the group made the decision to travel the northern road to Brevoy, in an attempt to find what happened to the caravans that Restov had been sending.  It wasn’t long after they left Varnhold that they were beset in the night by a shadowy horror– a Soul Eater!  The creature was taken down rather quickly, but even the short amount of time it had to attack was dangerous, as it brought Gavriil dangerously close to losing his soul, his wisdom score ending at an impressive one!  A good bit of rest brought him back into the fold, and the party continued their travels, keeping Gavriil in the wagon for more rest.  Soon they came across the site of what was clearly a scuffle, many horse tracks and a few wagon tracks spread all over.  Engaging in proper tracking, the party made their way through the wilderness eastwards.

It was then that disaster struck!  The tracks led the group into mounds and furrows of land which marked the territory of a Bullette, a creature better known as the Landshark!  The party split, the majority of them moving around this disturbed earth, while Elysia continued gingerly through the Bullette’s hunting grounds, trying her best to remain undetected.  This worked for awhile…before she was unfortunately detected by the beast.  Though her companions could faintly see her in the distance, they were unable to offer much help until it was much too late.  Elysia dealt some damage, but got ravaged as the landshark pounced upon her!  As a last ditch effort, she thrown down one of her Tree feather tokens, sprouting a tree underneath of her which she was able to grab and ride to a height of about forty feet.  This kept her safe for a time, but the Bullette dove back under the ground out of sight of Elysia’s arrows.

Taking this to mean that she had scared the beast away, Elysia scaled down the tree…only to be surprised by the beast leaping forth from the earth, to pounce down upon the Ranger and take her into the great beyond.

The rest of the party, having seen the tree sprout spontaneously in the middle of this field, had changed heading to rush straight towards their friend, yet they were too late to help.  Gavriil took revenge by tossing fireballs at great range into the beast, and eventually felled the creature before it was able to do much more damage. Saddened, the group recovered Elysia’s body, and moved to continue following the tracks of the wagons, planning to return to Restov soon to resurrect their fallen friend.

The wagon trail continued south from there, leading the party to the open plains of the Nomen Heights, where they were met by none other than a group of centaurs!  The centaur war party of about a dozen rode up to them quickly, circling and surrounding them (Riders of Rohan style) and leveling spears at them, before one female stepped forward to speak.  Negotiations ensued as the centaurs attempted to convince the party to leave or else, and the party attempted to convince the centaurs to talk to them and help them figure out what was going on.  Fortunately, the party gained diplomatic ground when they mentioned a possible ancient evil having done something with the people of Varnhold, which seemed to strike a nerve among the horsefolk.  The war party’s leader agreed to take them to see their tribe’s War Priestest, Aecora Silverfire, for more talk!

Though the Nomen centaur tribe were quite wary of the ‘two-legs,’ the uneasy truce that the two groups had was respected as the PC’s were escorted into the Nomen camp, a large collection of hide tents and campfires.  They were brought to a large central tent which served as a meeting center, and allowed inside to meet Aecora, a noble looking female centaur with many tribal decorations upon her body.  Aecora, Gavriil, and Eneko exchanged information, with Aecora leaving no doubts that her tribe did not mourn the loss of those who had lived in Varnhold and intruded upon their lands.  She openly admitted to their raiding parties stealing the supplies sent from Restov, most of which had been dumped in the wilderness!

The party gained much trust with Aecora when they were able to produce for her Skybolt, an ancestral weapon of her tribe which happened to be the fancy bow which Elysia had looted from the Spriggans in Varnhold.  Aecora was delighted at receiving the item, so much so that the party immediately became the first non-centaurs adopted into the tribe!  She became gravely serious however at the mention of the possibility of the influence of an ancient evil, telling the party of her tribe’s ancient purpose; for in the dark days of yesteryear the Nomen centaurs declared themselves to be guardians of a place known as Olah Kakanket, or the Valley of the Dead, a burial ground in the mountains to the south of them.  Much of their purpose was lost to time, but one name remained through the years, one which they associated with great evil and destruction:  Vordekai.

Beyond this, she informed the party that one of her tribe, a young warrior, had recently reported spotting movement near the Valley of the Dead, which she found to be troubling news, even though the area was forbidden for the centaurs to enter.  She cautioned the party against entering, yet at the same time gave off a sense of hoping that they did investigate carefully– if something happened in the valley, the centaurs would be in great danger, and they were already spread thin.  Finally, before the party left, Aecora offered the group a parting gift– they were part of the tribe now, and as such she felt honorbound to offer them just as much as she would a centaur under her care.  She invoked her deity Mother Moon, and was able to cast Reincarnation, bringing Elysia back to life…as a Lizardfolk!

As an aside, I made the percentile roll to see what race she came back as.  I rolled it where all of the players could see, then checked the table…one result lower, and she’d have come back as a Kobold!  Everyone laughed over that possibility for a time, because of Chief Sootscale and his tribe’s infatuation with the Ranger already!

For her part, Elysia spent much of her time dead floating in a formless void of lightly shifting colors, where time felt almost meaningless.  Just before she was pulled back into her new body however, she was visited by an apparition of a glowing green lady, matching the description of the woman from Gavriil and Noruas’s dreams.  She told the Ranger that her time was not yet finished, and that she had much work for Elysia to do yet– she needed her to find her green and red blade in the west and bring it to her.  Though Elysia protested that she wanted nothing to do with this, she figure insisted even as she faded away into nothingness as the newly minted Lizardfolk awoke in the Nomen tribal hut, new life entering her lungs!

After a period of new body adjustment, the group made their way north to Restov, bringing word to Ioseph Sellemius that they had determined what had happened to their trade caravans, and had negotiated with the centaurs a peace– as long as humans did not intrude into their lands on the plains, the centaurs would leave the humans alone.  Receiving payment for their troubles, they sought out the services of a Cleric of Erastil who was able to restore one of Elysia’s two negative levels; as she could not benefit from this more than once in a week (yay for fully reading the rules!), the party purchased a scroll to accomplish the same task, for one of the clerics back in the capital to cast upon the Ranger when they eventually returned.

This business taken care of, and their three Spriggan companions left in Restov to start their new lives, the party decided to go down south to the Tors of Leviennes to find Olah Kakanket, where trouble was surely brewing.  On the way they passed through a few minor setbacks of encounters, but nothing that they weren’t able to handle adequately.  After several days travel they found themselves at the entrance to the valley, marked by posts with skulls stuck atop them as fence posts, crossing the entirety of the entrance.  After pausing, the party continued forward into the valley, unafraid of what was to come!

It didn’t take long for them to come across massive stone pillars, grave markers they came to know, marked with ancient cyclopean runes and names.  The cyclops empire, they had learned from Aecora, had at one time ruled over much of the land nearby in ancient times before the great battles between the cyclopes and centaurs had finally stopped the giant creatures.  Olah Kakanket appeared to be a large graveyard dedicated to those fallen warriors of the past.

When the group came to the end of the valley where the mountain descends to the ground in a steep cliff, they found a stone staircase etched into the rock and leading upwards towards the peaks.  This was interesting, but not as interesting as the large, one-eyed creature which stood at the base of these stairs.  A closer look showed that the creature looked badly mangled, bits of flesh hanging off of it and in some places it featured exposed bone– Gavriil recognized this as being a form of Dread Zombie, an old cyclops corpse being used for some nefarious purpose!  While they were studying the creature, a second shambled its way down the stairs next to the first, both standing mindlessly at the base of the steps.  Deciding on their plan of action, the party spread out and peppered the two creatures with ranged attacks, managing to take out both adversaries before they were even able to get into melee range!

With this complete, the next step was clear:  to ascend the steps cut in the stone.  Several hours of travel ensued, at the end of which they came out into a clearing in which there sat a lake, fed by a waterfall to the east which crashed downwards over a hundred feet from the mountainside above.  The center of the lake held an island which loomed up over the waters, a pillar of rock which appeared to have a beachside entrance at the base, while Elysia spotted a second cave entrance hidden by vines and shrubs several feet above the water line on the opposite side of the stone.  Deciding to try the beach entrance, the party made their way down to the water, unfolding their Folding Boat which they had obtained recently in Varnhold, and setting out on the water.  When they had almost arrived at their destination, they were set upon by three diving Wyverns descending from the waterfall cliffs above them!  Fortunately these proved not to be a great issue as Noruas clipped their wings with her musket, killing one, allowing a second to swim away, and leaving the final Wyvern to crawl out of the water onto the beach, too injured to fly away.

Landing, Noruas and Gavriil worked together to soak some food in healing potions and float them over towards the Wyvern, trying to ensure that the creature wouldn’t starve and would be able to heal the damage to its wings enough to escape eventually.  Eneko and Elysia both psyched themselves up for the exploration to follow, and then the group entered into the tunnel to see what was inside!

Inside, the party found the tunnel to have been carved, with ancient cyclopean depictions carved or painted into the walls. A crumbling arch was found not far in, with arcane runes whose power seemed to have been expended.  Turning a corner, the party came face to face with…yet another zombie cyclops!  This one managed to get a hit or two in before he was torn to shreds by Noruas’ gunfire, echoing her retort throughout the tunnel– there goes stealth.  The chamber that the party entered next similarly contained a zombie cyclops which was dispatched– perhaps this place used to be a burial tomb for cyclopes?

A secret door led out from here into a tunnel in which lay a pool of water, dark and cool but with something clearly moving underneath the water.  Gavriil could detect the presence of magical items at the bottom of the pool, but the creature was an issue.  A plan was concocted to lure the creature to the surface with food rations, where the party found that this was an Elasmosaurus, an ancient and thought-extinct dinosaur who appeared to make its home in both the pool here and the lake around the island through a connecting tunnel.  The Arcanist quickly cast a Deep Slumber on the dinosaur, allowing them enough time to enter the pool and take the underwater passage there to its end, where they emerged in a small room filled with pottery.  Finding nothing of real note here, the party continued down a short flight of stairs, into a room with several broken statues and no obvious way forward.  After a bit of searching, Elysia managed to find a mechanism to open what she believed to be a secret door– indeed it did open a passage, but at the same time it caused iron portcullises to slam down at either end of the room, while portions of the ceiling slid aside to release torrents of water down upon their heads!

To complicate matters, two false walls were shattered as a pair of dread zombie cyclopes forced their way free, landing staggering blows on both Noruas and Eneko which nearly brought them down!  (the racial auto-crit once per day can be a powerful surprise attack ally, let me tell you!)  Problems became complicated as arrows began to fire across the room while the water began to fill the chamber, sloshing around their ankles and making for quite the bad hair day.  After sending a salvo of gunfire at the immediate zombie threat, Noruas joined Elysia in trying to raise the portcullis high enough to allow the party to duck through.  After a few seconds, more complications arose– a large electric eel fell through the ceiling with the water, and began to thrash about!  It attempted to grapple the Gunslinger, but she was able to brush it aside and continued aiding in their escape.

Gavriil Dimensional Slide-ed to the other side of the portcullis, Noruas slipped under the bars once she and Elysia had managed to get it high enough, and Eneko made a fighting retreat to the exit, while the water was about three feet high.  Finally the Lizardfolk Ranger was snatched from underneath the portcullis to safety by the rest of the party as the eel engaged in combat with the remaining cyclops, allowing them to retreat up a set of stairs to safety, seeing the water stop following them at about ten feet up.  Sighing in relief and taking a brief moment to heal, they continued up the steps to see what other horrors awaited them in here!

The stairs dumped them into a new chamber, this one with three small shrines dedicated to what Eneko realized was one of the ancient fabled Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Charon.  Two doors were present in the room, one an ornate set with several carvings, and the other a plain bronze door.  The group decided they wanted to head through the carved doors, but hesitated a moment when Gavriil wracked his brains for knowledge about the shrines and rituals associated with them.  It seemed that performing the proper rituals with the shrines was typically done to interact with some kind of seal– though whether they wanted to enter the area beyond for exploration before sealing them up, or simply seal them straight away and move on was up for debate.  Eventually they settled on checking inside first, opening the doors and having dark magical flames engulf the room for a moment, singeing everyone inside!

Stepping inside, they came to a small room with an unfinished staircase which, after several people investigating, they concluded must not actually be a secret door.  Forward led them to a room with two pillars inside, and stepping in summoned before them a foul-smelling crustacean-like creature, a Piscodaemon!  It seemed to be acting as guardian of what lay beyond, and Eneko conversed with it, eventually convincing it that they came in the name of Vordekai and they were allowed to be there.  The creature let them pass at this, and they moved beyond into what appeared to be some kind of prison cell.  Inside was a single creature, a centaur female, looking thin and hurt, unable to give any kind of movement but a barely perceptible shiver of her eyes.  Thankfully, Eneko had a solution– his Cavalier teamwork feat, which he was able to grant to all of them (for the last time that day) to allow them to speak as though using the Whisper spell, but without moving lips!

The centaur, identifying herself as Xamanthe, told the party how she had been tortured and held prisoner there for days by a cyclops with a red eye.  She’d been investigating the tomb when she’d been taken by surprise by one of the zombie cyclopes, beaten, and when she awoke had found herself paralyzed here in the cell.  She’d been fed and kept alive, but had been promised great pain at the hands of ‘Vordekai’– yet another name drop!  The group decided to break her out of there and get her to safety, hoping to cure her paralysis.  Their plans were stopped when they got back to the Piscodaemon’s room however, as he took great offense at their actions, not believing their tales of retrieving the centaur for Vordekai!  A fight ensued, with the Piscodaemon creating a Stinking Cloud in the room that only affected Gavriil, and a Soul Eater companion appearing to attack Eneko, who fortunately managed to avoid any Wisdom damage.  The fight was brief and decisive, with the PC’s coming out victorious.  Exiting the jail chambers, they made their way through the last remaining doorway unexplored, leading them down a set of stairs until they tumbled out into a large chamber, whose most immediately threat was posed by a new group of none other than the dreaded Soul Eaters!

This is where we ended the session.  It’s been three weeks since we last played, but fortunately next week I will be able to run again.  We will see just what happens with our brave heroes then!

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Heroes of Luna Valley: Part 3

Session 5 had our heroes headed out of Fort Frostfell, leaving the wight undisturbed and the place unsearched. And the first thing our druid says as they walk out? “I look for basilisk tracks.”

*sigh*

Okay. Well. The monk left the suits of animated armor, which was pretty unexpected, and she really wants that basilisk . . . so there they go.

On the way home, they’re intercepted by Bazig, whom Chillwyrn had fetched at their request. Bazig, it turns out, is not a traitor from Tomar’s Crossing but a bandit leader . . . half . . . ogre? Putting aside heredity questions, the party quickly ascertained that Bazig was ready to deal. Especially once they impressed him by volunteering that a) they’d pretty much emptied the fort and b) they did not loot Chillwyrm’s lair.

He offered to take them where they were headed and get them in, if they’d help him take over the Black Skull Bandits. Once he was in charge, they could take the prisoners and go, and he’d get his group well away from Ralakai’s conspiracy.

That sounded good to all of them and they choose not to stop at Tomar’s Crossing, but send the rescued prisoners and supplies, along with both wagons and their horses home.

Bazig dispensed with his bandit accompaniment (who were loyal to his boss) and they found tracks indicating that the basilisk had found some humans to hunt. Going that way they ran straight into a cult meeting.

Long story short, after stopping the basilisk from eating even more cultists than it had (Bazig and Aang bonded over a bet about how many it would get before it was stopped), the druid convinced the cultists that they needed to find some things from a ‘holy list’ before offering any more sacrifices. They freed 2 people, one of whom was the Villagemaster’s niece Alleria, and continued their journey with a new entourage.

There was some contention over whether these people (who had murdered their families before beginning their journey in search of more sacrifices) were mad, driven mad by their clay tablets, or just plain evil.

Bazig got them inside Gardong Marhold as new recruits (they left the cultists outside for a bit) and sent them to see his boss. Here, I made a second mistake. Instead of having Therrath Shortcloak give them the job of cleaning up the upstairs to prove themselves, I had her ask them to kill Bazig. They asked for time and left to discuss the situation, and I think, because they wanted Bazig’s help. He was firm about having his hands full with the rest of the bandits so they went back in there to face Therrath on their own, after being sure she was alone.

Therrath was a handful, with a parry reaction that lifted her AC and 3 attacks and per turn. She took the druid down to 1 HP with her first attack and the druid morphed into an owl and took flight. (Things would have been different had a realized that 2nd level druids couldn’t morph into creatures with a fly speed . . . but I didn’t).

Therrath went after another target, but before she could hurt them too bad, the Druid in (illegal) Giant Owl form picked her up and dropped her again. I gave her saves, which she failed, so the falling damage took her down far enough that she offered to surrender for her life. The cleric lept all over that and they found out where Ralakai is holed up. Bazig came in and immediately tried to kill their captive but Ren was determined that he wouldn’t. Bazig, ever out for the best deal, (and the GM, ever out to go back to the story she’s abandoned) told them they could have Therrath’s life if they cleaned up the upstairs.

Rin agreed. Keziah refused. And there, on the brink of a split party, we adjourned.

Session 6 had the cleric’s character back down so that there was no split party . . . after I’d prepped for a split party . . . They gave Therrath to Bazig to kill after all. I fretted about how to feed them the info that upstairs was supposed to give them, the treasure that I’d hunted down stats and pictures for, and the cool encounteres.

While I was fretting, I ran part of what I’d planned for Keziah– they woke up to a murdered cultist and a comatose cultist (the one that had been caught in the comet dust storm and had been having bad dreams since). They fed the basilisk and had a discussion that enabled me to use Bazig to tell them some history about the cult they were dealing with, then took the prisoners they’d rescued, the rest of the cultists and headed back to Tomar’s Crossing. No looting, and Bazig didn’t offer to share . . .

The druid encounter I’d planned for Keziah seemed less fun with all three involved so mysteriously murdered a couple more cultists and Keziah became certain that the coma-guy was doing it. They made it back to town in time to see Ren’s mother being bullied aby a couple of refugee priests. They stepped in with diplomacy and saved the day.

They put the cultists in the Temple and took the rescued prisoners to the refugee camp where Keziah noticed a fight between a large commoner and a small noble. She discreetly interfered, tripping the noble while no one saw, so that he lost the fight but she made no enemies. She found out that the nobles from Safeharbor were throwing their weight around and filling out their servant ranks.

She brought back someone who could read the cultists’ clay tablets in the sanctuary of the Temple, but he told them it was a bunch of gibberish– albeit violent gibberish. In the meantime, Rin’s mother found a history book that shed more light on the ancient danger the cult represented.

Aang went and caught up with Jorney and Someth and collected the funds the Villagemaster owed them. He heard of a refugee noble who’d been making some noise– Cadicca LeBlorne.

The next morning, Brinner asked Keziah to be her new apprentice, since her old one disappeared. Keziah immediately decided there was cult activity in town.

Kadra Tormaline showed up to gift Rin with a jewel of brightness and news. She also tried to hide the fact that something has her very worried. Her friend didn’t pry, however.

As the group came back together Paumine Sandalwood approached with a request that they bring back some zombie rats for her on their next foray. Keziah pitched some social reforms to her and an alliance seems to be in place.

After this session, Keziah’s player noted that there was just too much for her to keep up with. She’s a new mother and I deem that concessions should be made . . . so I created a wiki of sorts that they can add to.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Lmfjv8OmuvTR8nvG9R1zPMIP6BTbra54ieCBF8sJNuk/edit?usp=sharing

I decided that if they didn’t want to engage with certain parts of the narrative, I wasn’t going to bang my head up against the wall trying to be sure that they didn’t miss anything. I did my best to fill in informational gaps and I’m going to let the encounters and treasures of Gardong Marhold stay untouched (unless I give the treasure to Bazig)

I was also confused about leveling. They should level at the end of Gardong Marhold . . . even if they missed half of it? Is the level for surviving long enough to leave? Not sure. I’ll let them level after next session and call it a day.

Heroes of Luna Valley: Part 2

Well . . . session 2 consisted of 2 hours of technical issues and 1 hour of meeting a wyrmling called Chillwyrm. Chillwyrm insisted on treasure or meat and our cleric gave him her silver holy symbol and a potion of cure light wounds while the druid tried to convince him that humans weren’t meat. And her horses weren’t meat.

They tried to glean as much information as they could from the single (dual?) minded creature and ended up sending him to talk to Bazig, his not-quite-friend. Chillwyrm took off in the direction of Tomar’s Crossing and the party briefly considered going back there to find the traitor, Bazig, but realized that the prisoners needed rescue.

They made their way up to Fort Frostfell, the two women in one wagon, the second left behind. The dwarf hid up under the carriage. The harmless looking women convinced the goblin guard to let them in and take them to their hobgoblin leader.

They found Dourkeg munching on a human leg to a lovely chorus of ‘ew, gross’ and his fate was fairly sealed.

Session 3 had Dourkeg pulling the women off the wagon to imprison them and a brief and discreet fight ensued in the room that ended with one hobgoblin, Seeg, still alive and making a bid for leadership of the rest of the goblins with temporary cooperation. There were prisoners in this room, one of which (the owner of the previously mentioned leg) needed medical attention. They were freed. Some attention was given to the map on the wall of this room.

The prisoners notified their heroes that there were more prisoners to be rescued and Seeg led the party there and stopped the goblins from interfering. He promptly snuck off with all of the goblins when the party got distracted.

The druid spent some time talking to the ice basilisk through the door and got a grudging promise of cooperation for setting it free.

With prisoners and (my mistake:) handwaved supplies aboard wagons, the party prepared to leave with their monster.

Aang the monk heard something and when he went to investigate, found the lower level of the fort. Like the intelligent people they are, the party decided not delve into this scary place . . . especially as I’d already accidentally given them the supplies that should have tempted them.

As they left the fort, the warrior woman they had heard but not found, and the Gnome wizard and the wight commander whom she had alerted, appeared. The wizard knocked a few of the prisoners out, betting that the party wouldn’t abandon them. Things went mostly downhill from there.

The woman, Harlyot, wanted the group to leave the prisoners but take the goods. Aang was agreeable and without his support, the ladies couldn’t hold their own against the wight and the warrior. The only good thing to come of it before the women were rendered unconscious was that the basilisk ate the wizard– before it ran away so as not to become an uber-powerful animal companion.

When the women woke up to their temporary prison Keziah made her displeasure with the monk obvious. They then got a chance to chat with Poitr, a prisoner that they had not known about. The ancient Halfling told them that he was kept here for researching the books in the library– a prisoner, but safe from the experiments Ralakai was running.

Session 4 opened as Harlyot gave the group the rest of the story in a bid to gain their cooperation– how Ralakai’s actions for the greater good and how what he was searching for, a cure to a mysterious plague that had 5 times destroyed the valley’s civilization would infect the world unless he succeeded.

The cleric wasn’t sold on Ralakai’s message so Harlyot left disappointed. Poitr, catching the drift of the party’s feelings let Fariae the Wise know that she might have a chance with them. The ghostly Druid explained that Ralakai was well-intentioned as necromancers go, but quite mad, barking up the wrong tree and close to making the situation go from bad to impossible.

Keziah was ready to throw in with the Druid on sight, but Ren wasn’t sure of their undead councilor. Feriae told them how to leave the room via a secret door and they talked Poitr into coming with them. Aang and Ren wanted to leave, but Keziah insisted on freeing Feriae, which entailed meeting two dangerous Dwarven animated suits of armor (but they have a Dwarf! who now has two dangerous Dwarven animated suits of armor to play with), working through a prison with 3 plague zombies and encountering Harlyot. With the suit of armor between her and the party it wasn’t too hard for them to pick her off at range. Keziah ensured that she would never return to bother them.

While Keziah struggled to free Feriae the other two followed the Druid to find the way out. They know where the wight is and Feriae offered to keep him occupied while they leave. There are a hoard of zombie rats and a few skeletons between them and safety and no one has really bothered to search this place– other than grabbing some Druidic tome from the library. There’s a question about whether or not Feriae is to be trusted in two of three minds. They aren’t safe yet!

One more session should see them out and headed back to Tomar’s Crossing.

In the meantime, they have a list of required items for a ritual to kill Xancrown, the source of the plague Ralakai seeks to cure.

 

Lemons and Lemonade; or Heroes of Luna Valley, Session 1

So. Matthew changed jobs. It’s mostly a good thing, but a new job comes with new schedule. New schedule means that on some Monday nights, he can’t run our Kingmaker game. The silver lining is that we know which Monday nights they are, and can plan accordingly. Instead of giving up the time we already carved out, I offered to run a short D&D campaign for the others. The offer was well received so here we are.

I’m using 5th Edition rules because I prefer 5th’s emphasis on role play and story. I’m looking forward to the new edition of Pathfinder because it seems Paizo has followed WOTC in an effort to streamline the system and that works well for me.

Since very early in my roleplay efforts, I’ve been a subscriber to Johann Four’s Roleplaying Tips.

When Johann and James Introcaso ran a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year for an adventure described as, “a clever mix of classic D&D adventure, sandbox, and hexcrawl in a post-apocalyptic setting you can easily drop into your world”, I backed it.

When I read it, it wasn’t something I wanted to drop into a world, but it seemed a solid story. There’s a little monster-slaying heroism, a little mystery and exploration and a little political drama all wrapped up in a fast moving storyline in a detailed (yet generic) setting with some great NPCs. So, I thought, I could run this and it would be quick, with minimal commitment and a good time will be had– you know that rosy image that you get pre-campaign . . .

Since Kingmaker posts will be slowing up as our Kingmaker game responds to real-world demands on time and energy, these posts will help hold the fort.

I have 3 players, all of which are in our Kingmaker game.

Kezia Yaska (aka Noruas) is a human druid. This is a character from a failed campaign, resurrected and reinserted here. Female.

Aang (aka Eneko, sort of . . .) is a Dwarven Monk. Male.

Rin Lightwind (aka Elysia) is a human cleric of Sune. Female.

I sort of randomly grabbed the Forgotten Realms pantheon without any real logic to the choice. I needed a Life and Light diety.

I wrote a little invitation/pitch for the campaign:

At the top of the world, on the Sardoon Sea, nestled between the Cold Peak and the Vinecrest Mountains, sits Luna Valley. The Valley is a northern frontier like any other, home to a few hundred inhabitants scattered in and near a dozen settlements or so.

At least . . . it was. A month ago a comet struck the valley, and the resulting energies
quickly began melting the Ice Tongue Glacier, turning the icy valley into a hideous mudpit.
The ecology was disrupted as temperatures rose past what the arctic wildlife could tolerate. Herbivores that couldn’t outrun the heat, died. This left the carnivores starving and dangerous.
To add to the problem any settlement built on top of the glacier collapsed in upon itself in the melt, resulting in pandemic homelessness and famine. Even at the coast, the sea level rose so quickly that the Valley’s port, the ironically named Safeharbor, flooded and became uninhabitable.
The only safe place in the Valley is Tomar’s Crossing– a village that had the remarkable foresight to be built on a low mountain that peeked up past the glacier line.
Every survivor of the comet is now at, on their way to, Tomar’s Crossing. A town that comfortably housed fewer than 500 people now finds itself the center of hope and life for 10 times that many– and this after its low-lying farms were utterly destroyed.
The town council has its hands full of traumatized refugees– and this in an election year.
The situation is dire. Can a handful of courageous creatures stem the tide of devastation before anything worse happens?
Day 1:
Our story really started last night when Rin Lightwind and her mother Isperil visited the latest refugee camp. Isperil runs the only place of worship in town, the Temple of Long Life. They’d gone to offer healing to the latest batch of refugees.
Rin overheard her mother and Councilwoman Kadra Tourmaline talking about news these refugees had brought, of brigands stealing supplies and taking captives. Isperil and Kadra spoke of how they might find someone to go liberate the people and the goods on behalf of the town. And Rin decided to take matters into her own hands. Seeing the dwarf from her window, Rin sought him out.
Aang intensely dislikes the crowds closing in on his formerly quiet home. He was born in Tomar’s Crossing and his equipment choices led us to decide that he makes his living chasing down and preparing rare herbs from the wilds for the brewery and doing a bit of specialty woodcarving on the side for the town carpenter.
We found him delivering a couple of barrels of ale from Brinner’s Brewery to Jorney’s Tavern. He found Jorney bewailing the fact that the town had finished the last of their food reserves, angry at anyone giving handouts to refugees when the citizens of the town were about to starve and deciding to run for Council. Aang helpfully suggested that Jorney hire hunters to supplement food and Jorney immediately wrote out a sign to that effect and posted it in his tavern.

 

Kezia is a refugee. She was part of a nomadic clan that was completely wiped out by the devastation. She came to Tomar’s crossing with her wagon and horses, found a place to house herself and her belongings at the only place in town with a large enough barn– the brewery– and set out looking for employment, lighting on Jorney’s Tavern.

Jorney doesn’t care for the refugees, but Kezia is a beautiful young woman and was looking for a job, not a handout. He’s also just a guy in a bad situation, not a bad guy. He was immediately smitten with her and agreed to let her work at the tavern singing for tips and to feed her while she was there.

The impulsive Kezia overheard Rin’s suggestion to Aang and immediately decided to help!

Meanwhile, the tavern was visited by two others: Sommeth Skullcleaver– the carpenter Aang works with. Sommeth came in and when he discovered that Aang and company were going out, offered to outfit them with whatever they needed. He couldn’t go with them, of course . . . he has a baby daughter and he’s widower and can’t bear the thought of someone else raising his darling girl. Oh, and did he mention that he may have a friend among the people taken prisoner by the bandits?

He, father that he is, reminded Rin to speak to her mother before leaving and bowed from the waist like a soldier upon being introduced to Kezia.

Also, Bjalien Viadis came in with a posting, which he carelessly put over Jorney’s own. He was looking for someone to go get the supplies. And the people. Mostly the supplies. And his niece. And the supplies. He’ll pay people to go get the supplies. And a greenskin head would be nice to have as well.

The company didn’t care for bringing heads back, for some reason.

Aang insisted that Rin tell her mother first.

They went to the Temple and Isperil made her appearance, old and limping. She can’t go on this quest! But when Rin pointed out that she could help with healing and such, Isperil agreed to let her go, hugged her warmly and told her she was proud of her. She then made a gift of 3 cure potions to the party and asked Aang to take care of her daughter.

That done, the party stopped at Sommeth’s and was outfitted with a wagon, his own large horse and weapons and armor. There they saw that Sommeth was providing firewood to the refugees.

The checked in with Huberg Greyborn for some information and were told that the goblins were organized, had bombs and a dragon. Huberg was curt but gentlemanly and took Kezia’s suggestion that he and his soldiers offer protection for the other refugees in return for food and such.

The party is trying to find employment for all, which is awesome.

They stopped at Brinner’s to get Kezia’s wagon and horses and were off.

They encountered a musk ox graveyard, some plants in the night that grew abnormally fast and tried to suck their blood, a mudslide that didn’t hurt anyone.

Day 2:

Then, following the sound of screaming, they encountered a severed head. The head had been uncovered by the melt and was speaking a language they didn’t know. It seemed that it used to be human and it did eye them as they approached.

Rin put it out of its misery with a spell and then Kezia, hearing the horses in distress, ran back to camp to catch sight of a white dragon there.

 

 

 

 

Players Don’t Read:

 

 

 

 

As written, the PC’s are supposed to get 9 quests right off the bat. I left out 2 intentionally, planning on bringing them in later and forgot 1. It’s nothing I can’t bring in later, thank goodness!

All in all, I was pleased with all of the NPC’s but I think I may have overplayed Jorney’s infatuation with Kezia a bit. No permanent harm done, I hope. The majority of what he had to offer was pretty solid.

I loved that Aang came up with an idea that was actually a quest in the adventure. He didn’t offer to take Jorney up on the job, but the job is out there.

I really can’t recall the reason I gave to the players that Sommeth came in. He’s a quest-giver, of course . . . but he’s a half-orc carpenter and a cool guy who will probably run for council and I wanted him to be sympathetic. So, I shamelessly played the ‘can’t leave my baby’ card. It worked quite well.

No one asked what Sommeth was doing with all of those weapons but I did let them know that he was the kind of man who went hungry for his daughter and shared what food he had with his horse. He was well-liked.

Isperil and Kadra also had quests but I took care of that off camera and gave the first one to Rin, which lead her to Aang. Since Isperil is Rin’s mother I’ve no concerns about getting sympathy for her, as needed.

Bjalin got a bit of interest as well. Jorney doesn’t care for him, and I told Kezia that he looked at her like a spreadsheet. This was enough to make him an object of curiosity, which is pretty perfect.

No combat yet, so it was a bit slow . . . but I think we left it at a good place. Next up, saving the horses. And the people!

I’m watching James Introcaso run this on YouTube as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqT4mYjzWt0&t=1s

Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red Sessions Twenty-Nine and Thirty

Sorry guys– once again it’s been quite a month, and we’ve only gotten two sessions out in the last four weeks.  So…here’s our recap!

 

After the resolution of the murder situation back in Elbat Dnuor, the party headed out west yet again towards the Hooktongue Slough– there was still the unresolved map location that Noruas the Gunslinger found on her father’s map of the Stolen Lands!  A few days of travel brought them to the aforementioned area south of Lake Hooktongue, where a bit of exploration brought them to their destination!  The party moved closer to the cave, taking a look at the area– several broken-down wagons, some overturned, were littered around the entrance of this area.  Noises were issuing from the cave mouth in a language that only Gavriil the Arcanist and Eneko the Cavalier/Bard could understand– they were speaking Giant!  While the first three party members began to approach the cave, Elysia the Ranger decided to hang back with her wolf Tyr, keeping her distance and remaining suspicious.

A shouted greeting from Noruas drew attention from inside; a moment later, a large Hill Giant, similar in size and stature to the Gunslinger’s friend Munduk, emerged from the darkness.  Noruas attempted to make nice to it– with Gavriil translating– and offered the Hill Giant some of her mead.  The giant, for his part, took the mead– and then decided that playing nice was no longer any fun, and took a swipe at her!  A fight was on, and many more hill giants emerged from the cave in short order!  One of them was almost two feet taller than the others, with a wicked-looking spiked club that he swung about wildly, charging into the fray with a wild roaring shout of glee!  While the party began dismantling their foes, this Hill Giant Chieftan rushed up to the three party members clumped together and grabbed Duke Eneko– then proceeded to use the Bard as a bludgeon to smash into the rest of the party!

After a few rounds of ‘smash the Bard,’ the chieftan was shot down, though not before Eneko was smashed into a bloody unconscious pulp.  Not long after that, the Hill Giants were defeated, with one running away after deciding that the fight wasn’t worth the gain.  The group managed to salvage several interesting items off of the chieftan, including a magical black dragonhide armor, and the insides of their cave was littered with goods and supplies that could be taken back to the kingdom and sold for three BP!

With that fight settled, and no clue as to why its location was marked on the map, the party set off to the south once again, in order to map more of the Slough.  A few days later, and they came across a patch of interesting lilies– which were identified as being the rare and valuable Azure Lily!  Five of them grew in a patch, and Gavriil, being the upstart gardener that he is, made it his mission to carefully uproot and prepare these plants for transport back to the capital, where he would attempt to replant them to grow more!  Noruas also prepared some special ingredients from what she could find around her in order to preserve some of the lilies for alchemical purposes, in order to sell them for gold.

Unfortunately, Gavriil wasn’t fully brushed up on his knowledge of the plants– as he quickly learned, even the slightest disturbance of their petals would send a cloud of dangerous pollen into the air!  Though the first lily’s pollen was mostly avoided, and the second sent him into coughing fits for a few minutes before he recovered, the third lily he attempted to carefully uproot sent a spray of pollen directly into his face!  An instinctive inhalation quickly caused issues, as he felt his body begin to stiffen up– fortunately for the Arcanist, Eneko was able to save the day by focusing Gavriil’s attention upon the Bard’s words, giving him an inner strength and allowing a re-roll of the saving throw.  After that however, it was determined that perhaps Noruas would do better at excavating the flowers, to give Gavriil a break.  As it turned out, Noruas didn’t fare much better; the next flower spat pollen into her face which she shrugged off, while she lost her balance taking care of the final lily and fell face-first into the plant, crushing it!  (let’s hear it for natural ones!)  Fortunately, even though she got a face-full of pollen, she refrained from breathing it in, sticking her head in a nearby pool of stagnant water to wash it away.

With that fiasco over with, the party set out once again, slowly making their way back towards the capital in order to plant the three transplanted plants they had remaining.  The course they set took them through much uncharted territory, with the plan being that they could explore new ground while also moving back home!  A few days later the group had a new encounter, this time with none other than….BOG MUMMIES!

The Bog Mummies turned out to be much more of a challenge for our party than I thought they would be, and came close to giving us a TPK– the closest that they’ve been since fighting the army of trolls all by themselves a few months back.  Three of the four party members were paralyzed upon the reveal of the bog mummies, who rose from the swamp water to ambush the group!  Only Eneko managed to make his save, and thus spent two rounds attempting to not die while his friends were constantly slammed into by the mummies.  Gavriil was the first to fall, going into the negatives on the last round of his paralyzation; Eneko followed quickly after, and the remaining two characters snapped out of their fear in time to grab their companions and ride them out of the mass of undead!  Noruas swooped down to take Gavriil’s body up with her, but Elysia found herself struggling to lift Eneko, and had to receive help from her companion Tyr in order to get him into the saddle.  This caused Tyr to be stuck back with the mummies for a time, with naught but Eneko’s horse Taz for support!

The PC’s rallied then, with the mummies slowly shambling after the horses and attempting to slay the two animal companions.  Potions and magic were used to get everyone back up on their feet, and Noruas was hit with Greater Invisibility– Gavriil’s latest spell that allowed the Gunslinger to fire with near impunity at their enemies!  This turned the tide, and soon the party was victorious; even the wolf Tyr and the horse Taz managed to come out alive, though Taz did go into the negatives for a time.  The party gave a collective sigh of relief at defeating these foes, and made sure to travel a good distance away from that location before making camp for the night.  During their rest however, all were beset by a sickness caused from prolonged contact with the mummies earlier; fortunately enough, all but Elysia and Taz the horse managed to shrug off the fever, causing the two of them to take Constitution and Charisma damage.  It was time to move on…back towards the capital!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players, do not read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for hanging around with me guys– I know it’s been awhile.  New job and conflicting schedules has led to a lack of games and a lack of time for writing, but things should settle down here soon.  That being said– I made some mistakes!

The two caves that I had told the party they found on Noruas’ map were supposed to be one filled with Hill Giants and one filled with Chuul, based upon two encounter locations on the map.  But then…I mixed the two of them up, and when the PC’s arrived south of the lake I brought out the hill giant encounter!  Alas, but hey, I can just swap their locations and no one will know.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a ton of fun swinging a PC around as a bludgeon– that was an impressive set of feats that the Hill Giant Chieftan comes with!

If you’ve run the two combat encounters that the group encountered in these two sessions, you might realize that I bumped it up a bit– or at least, you should realize I did so with the Hill Giants.  I ended up slightly increasing the number of hill giants (but kept them at range throwing rocks, so really they didn’t do too much) and placed the Hill Giant Chieftan in the fight to make it more interesting, and that seemed to go pretty well.  With the Bog Mummies (neat variants that are resistant to fire), I upped the number to seven mummies, and then buffed their paralyzing aura by ruling that the DC to resist the aura increased by one with each mummy that would affect the player.  Turns out these mummies were really good at hiding, and the party rolled pretty bad on their Perception checks, and so when they were surprised almost all of the mummies were within range.  So…three paralyzed party members, who became laughably easy to hit with the mummies that then swarmed.  It was nice to see the group rally the way they did though– a bad start but eventually overcoming the dangers.

One final note– I had an enormous laugh at the end of the session.  The Mummy Rot disease took just the ranger and the horse, but on the horse I rolled a six for Charisma damage.  Eneko helpfully informed me that the poor horse was down to zero Charisma, which places it unconscious!  Elysia the ranger piped up at that point, “Help!  I’m ugly and I can’t get up!”  Noting the ridiculous nature of having become so uncharismatic that you just fall asleep 😛

Thanks for reading guys, and hopefully we’ll be back soon with another session, in which I fully expect to get into book three finally!