Back to Kingmaker. Yay! We finished up last session before Dave went away with a cliffhanger.
Well, it has all turned out all right in the end. We solved all of our problems with magic, which is as it should be.
Rainor and Rainen responded to the Farie Fire spell by dropping down into the chasm. The goblins were sweeping the south border of the chasm, so I cast invisibility and extended it with my rod (I am using it to extend the darkvision spells for His Lordship and Rainor, but that leaves one zap free per day). After a bit, Rainor and Rainen came up from the cavern. Curious, because Farie Fire usually lasts for longer than that.
Anyway. I signalled them with Dancing Lights so that I could keep my invisibility. This attracted attention, of course, but (with the help of an old family friend) I had some in reserve and so cast invisibility on them both. No diving headlong into that chasm for me! We decided that rather than go to join His Lordship, we would go to the great stairs in the west and wait there. I’m not entirely sure why we decided that, but it worked out quite well.
We totally metagamed. There was stuff going on with Jope, and the party was going to have to get out and escape up the stairs. I might let Giacomo tell that story.
As it was, we arrived at the foot of the stairs. We sent back Rainen alone to pick up His Lordship, Giacomo, and Ovthen. I gave him a scroll of Reduce Person for Ovthen (hoping Giacomo would be able to cast it – it’s a simple spell really), but it was still going to be quite a load, and he was beginning to sound a little puffed. So I used a scroll of Bear’s Endurance as well to give him a bit of a lift. A clerical Restoration would have been better, but we do what we can. I must say – just as soon as we get home, I am going to shut myself in for a month and scribe scrolls day and night. Maybe a wand or two, too – my wand of Grease is just about done.
Anyway, Rainen returned with His Lordship, a kobold, and a shrunken dwarf – all four little the worse for wear. Then we began to climb the stairs.
Then strode forth Jope, hero hewn mighty ‘neath stone-roofed lightless cavern, thrall home and prison both and to kobolds made known hope of freedom, he bringer of war and true drow foe, with immortal words “They may take out lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”. Right quickly they bore him to council grave, where within their hearts did hope and fear make battle. Though plans be set on the morrow sooner yet would foul goblin, drow-thall and kobold-bane search kobold home from east to west. So Jope did remove himself to make ready, faithful sky-wolf reuniting him with his companions, they to ascend dragon-stairs to conceal themselves for a time.
As always, Giacomo puts a slightly brighter gloss on events than strict accuracy would suggest. But Andrew’s speech – shamelessly ripped off Braveheart
– cut short negotiations with the kobolds.
The council are another matter. Each member wants a shrubbery of one sort or another – each is worried about some aspect of this proposed uprising. The hatchery-mistress wants a better future for the kobolds, so that’s sorted. The smith/armsmaster wants to know where the kobolds will get their weapons from. The planner/workmaster dude needs to be convinced that we have some sort of workable plan. Hmm – tricky.
But, if Andrew wants his mini-artifact from the DM – he’ll have to come up with something It’s his mini-quest, after all. Go Andrew! We are all right behind you.
Oh – the stairs. As you know, kobolds usually have a dragon cult of one kind or another. The stairs follow a dragon-sized shaft that goes right to the top of the mountain. Apparently their private god is long dead although he still guides them spiritually. Bless! Anyway. “Up” is as good as “away”, which is where we needed to be. And so we began climbing.
Of course, we were followed. A party of goblins, to be exact. The stairs had periodic platforms, about two hours climbing apart. These platforms service some quite old (and non-drow) machinery. An elevator system of some kind. I should make some drawings, come to think of it. In any event, once we were well above the cavern floor we laid an ambush for the goblins.
Which I totally ruined. I jumped out early and hit them with a spell that I have been wanting to try for a while (Dust of Darkness), which accomplished very little. The party attacked, and we did rather a dreadful job of cleaning up some goblins. But any fight you walk away from is a victory.
Essentially, we had forgotten how to play these characters. Switch should have cast her buffs – Blur in particular – before combat. Rainor was tanking it at the back to prevent their escape … which is not really what we pay him to do. Andrew forgot about his ring of free action and could have just walked through the greasy stairs. Etc. A two-month break will do that to you.
After the immediate problem was dealt with, we still had a mile or so of stairs to contend with. It was going to take a week to get up and back, which frankly is way too much like work for us. We discussed our options. At the end, we came up with something that could work. I would summon some riding horses with Mount, and Ovthen would enchant them with a rather nice clerical spell he called Air Walk. Ovthen’s spell would permit the mounts to simply walk up the stairs (not normally the sort of thing a horse enjoys). It might take a while, but it would be a hell of a lot quicker than doing it the hard way.
And so that’s what we did.
And our DM threw his hands up and said “Ok, it’s magic.” That’s kinda the game, after all. We turned a week-long climb of immense religious significance to the local kobolds, a trial of endurance, into a day trip.
DM-ming is like life: just as the imaginary conversations you have with people never actually turn out that way, the players always find something you didn’t think of (and ignore your most obvious hooks). The DM’s problem is that the players know their characters far better than you do. But then again: the whole point is that it’s collaborative fiction. The unexpected things that the other participants do is what it’s all about.
Another thought is that although “we solved our problems with magic”: it’s no more than what real-life technology does for us all, every day. I routinely do speeds on my scooter matched only in nature by a running cheetah or swooping hawk for minutes at a time. It’s magic.
Getting down? Well: I do know Feather Fall, and we do have this dragon-sized vertical drop. We would have to free-fall for a while, is all. We’d need to judge it just right. I think it might be safer to build sleds and sled down the stairs, or just to go down the way we came up. Hmm – I wonder if I could adapt the Grease spell to be longer-lasting? You’d have to apply the material component directly to the object at hand, rather than conjuring it from a distance, perhaps use wax rather than butter … but it would be do-able. The key part of the spell would be
We don’t have a font for discussing the ins-and-outs of pathfinder spellcraft on wordpress, sad to say. Switch’s digression on the Grease spell gets a little technical and involves diagrams not reproducible here.
Anyway. Getting back to the story. It started to get seriously chilly as we approached the top of the stairs – no doubt at the summmit of a mountain. I crafted a wand of Endure Elements a while ago. It’s a simple spell (a basic abjuration), but when you need it, you need a lot of ’em. So a wand was the way to go (not to self: must do up a wand of Resist Energy). With that and a round “Coises! Foiled again!” from the DM, gallivanting about on mile-high mountain-tops becomes a rather different affair.
Which is where we eventually emerged.
A mile-high mountaintop plateau with an obvious dragon-cave. We had rested the night two-hours below (at the penultimate elevator-stop) and prepared for a dragon encounter. Essentially, the three of us who cast prepared some Resist Energy spells. Venturing into the cave, we encountered a dragon skeleton! But it was quite non magical and very dead. Encased in ice – a silver dragon if I am not mistaken. Interesting.
The chamber had been quite thoroughly looted, and there was old evidence of a dragon fight. No great mystery there, although one does wonder who the winner was. Behind that chamber was another chamber with some sort of mosaic. All covered in ice of course. We took quite a bit of care and spent an hour or three uncovering it. It depicted a landscape – quite clearly the mountain range we are in. And a temple of some sort with a horde of refugees heading to it. Rainor was quite taken with this. I believe he believes that that temple might be “Cloudarc Monastery”, or some such – something of interest to mystics like that monk on the island (and, I suppose, himself). I was rather interested in it from the point of view of convincing the Kobolds that there was sanctuary close by to which they cold escape.
In any event. There’s more of this complex to explore yet. If it takes the rest of the day, I can do a Tiny Hut for us to camp in.
The fabled Cloudarc (or arch) Monastery! Nothing yet for us to report back to the kobolds … but then again, we are not trying to get them to revolt in order to serve some other purpose, but because we actually are trying to free them. So it’s not a matter of tricking them into thinking we have a plan – we actually have to have one.
Next week – what’s in that chamber a little bit own from where we are?