Kingmaker

6 November, 2011

Missed a week blogging. Oh well.

Michael,

I am absolutely furious. Bloody livid. I’m sorry if I vent a little in this message, but really!


From the Inner Sea World Guide. Hopefully our characters get a better map than this!

What was going on last time I wrote? We came back from the mountains, there was an attack on Tatselford, that’s right. We worked out that there was trouble from the west.

Well, after stabilising things we went home. Things to do – there wasn’t going to be another attack any time soon. I took care of business, and His Dukeness relaxed by pursuing his hobby down ‘t forge, making me a really very nice chainmail shirt, while I did up some scrolls to replace the ones I had used. We’d all like to have done more, but there wasn’t time. Eventually we simply replaced our consumables by buying them. We can afford it, these days. The people in our academy and caster’s tower also had recently researched some new spells, one or two of which I have transcribed.

Switch relies heavily on scrolls: it’s really the only way to play a wizard, I think. Her bonded item also gives her just that little bit of flexibility, but she scribes and uses a lot of scrolls.

The “new spells” are in Paizo’s new “Ultimate Combat”. Dave rolled for whether the ones I wanted were available. One or two were, and it actually came in handy.

I took “arcane armour training” as the 12th level feat. The chain is +3, which is level-appropriate. Quite a bit better than the old Mage Armour, and more rogue-y. Anyone want a slightly used wand?

Meanwhile, this woman had been pressing His Grace to do something about Baron Drellev, to the west, who was behind the attack. The baron (like ourselves) had been charted by Brevoy to tame a chunk of land, but had had much less success than us. Apparently he eventually struck a deal with the local savage tribes – they would take hostages in exchange for not razing his town. Thing is: the baron is without issue. So instead they took the first born of each of his council. This woman – Cassandra – was from one of the families.

Now … really. Have you ever heard anything more suspicious in your life? I’d wager considerable gold at poor odds that the Baron himself is behind the whole thing, and that these hostages are not held by some savage tribesmen but are instead tucked away in the dungeons of that castle I can see just beyond the trees.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

We headed out, sallied forth. We were simply going to go to Fort Drellev and, well, find out what was what. His Grace also decided to clear out the worst of the monsters as we went. I think he’s feeling acquisitive again (now that we have the resources, we should finally start regular patrols in the forest. We needn’t build roads through it, but I’d like to know that it is definitely our territory.). We bought along our new hangers-on: the dragon disciple who we discovered at the attack on Fort Tatselford, His Grace’s replacement for dear little Giacomo, and Scott’s character who I just can’t quite recall, sorry dude (all I can picture is your rogue from the other game).


The land to the northwest is swampy – you can see it on any map. We left our roads and made our way overland to the north, where there is an important bridge, then west along the trade road to Fort Drellev. The road runs along an enormous swamp, and the local residents are tough – it’s not a wonder that Baron Drellev had difficulty establishing his barony. We took down some ettins who attacked our camp, not a problem. Then there were some aggressive frogs and lizards which were a little near to the road. These lizards – well, they turned out to be basilisks and I don’t mean to worry you but they got me. One moment I was shooting Scorching Rays at these things, next I was regaining consciousness with a gutted basilisk carcass draped over my head, the blood from which had reversed the petrification. (Nasty stuff. Acidic. When the petrification was reversed, I used Prestidigitation to clean it off. My hair is a fright.)

So anyway. The basilisks were done for, but the frogs had run off and were huddling around this hill, a few score feet away. Rainor shot an arrow into it and the whole bloody hill turned out to be a Froghemoth. Just as well they woke me up first [says Switch, preening slightly]. Froghemoth (what’s the plural, do you suppose?) snatch people with their tongues and swallow them. I must make up a new wand of Grease at earliest opportunity: this one is nearly done. His Grace was fine of course – Ring of Free Action. Once everyone was greased up I dropped a Scorching Ray into it, but it was really no use at all. I simply must spend a little time and research a variant that uses a different mode of action. They simply whacked it until it was dead.

Anyway. Job done, after a few tense moments. We continued on.

Oh, a rules clarification. In Pathfinder, if a spellcaster’s rest is interrupted then it isn’t “Ha ha! No spells for you!” as in 3.5 and earlier. It takes an extra hour of rest per interruption. Any spell slots you use cannot be used again until 8 hours have elapsed. Much less annoying.

So. Fort Drellev. Cassandra gave us a contact, a certain X at “The Velvet Corner”, and a token to show her. We tried to bluff our way in as a mercenary company, but the guards were just a shade too bright.

We rolled badly. Dave ruled that we were suspiciously well-equipped for a down-at-heels mercenary company, which is the only kind that would be seeking work here.

So instead it was my job to make contact. Rainen would fly me over high enough that we would not be spotted, I would use Invisibility and Feather Fall, and that would be that. I used my rod of Extend Spell. With that, I can do a simple Invisibility for about an hour and three quarters. Plenty of time.

The guys are all going “HALO drop!” Switch could probably simply have walked in through the incomplete wall. But meh: using magic is the first thing that occurs to her, so it’s in character to do it the complicated way.

What? An assignation, a clandestine meeting! I wake, a little. We are a shadow, we walk past them – they never know we are there, not once. Roomsfulls of swords, yet we have no fear whatever. Even if they did see us, they could do nothing to impede us. And it matters not – we are too cunning for such as they.

I had thought to drop the invisibility once I had gotten into town, but there were guards everywhere. So whatever. I found “The Velvet Corner”, which – as I should have suspected – is a brothel. (Why not call it the “Velvet Clam” and be done with it?) I located the madam, who went into a back room to do a little paperwork. She left the door open to give herself a view of the front desk, which made it easy to enter.

Well. Here I was. What to do? I wasn’t sure that this was my contact – she was using a working name, I think. But, well, I couldn’t imagine that someone of good family would work here as a companion, so the madam was probably she.

I gave a discrete cough, which got her attention. I dismissed the invisibility. After a beat, she went to the door, told the guards that she was not to be disturbed, and closed it. What a sensible woman, thank Desna.

Well, I won’t go into too much detail. I don’t think I was very persuasive. But I did set up a meeting for an hour after dusk tomorrow, at “The Iron something-or-other, a disused inn”. A sign of how badly the baron is managing things, bye the bye, that an inn right in the middle of town is disused. I cast invisibility again, asked her to open the door, and went to see this inn. I took careful note of things so that I could Dimension Door in tonight, teleported out as far as I could (beyond the treeline), made a note of where I had teleported to, and went to report.

I flubbed the encounter rather badly, forgot the name of the chick who sent us here – thought and memory had to remind me. I’m actually think that’s kind of ok. Switch has low charisma. I think it’s not because she’s bad-looking, it’s because she sucks at dealing with people. Sigh. I’m a lousy roleplayer: I always wind up playing myself. She also has a low Wis and gave away details such as that we would teleport in. But compared to what happened next…

Anyway. His Grace’s new offsider can cast Clairvoyance (she’s a sorceress, you know, so it doesn’t count). I used one of the new spells: Share Memory to give her an accurate picture of whatshername’s office. We snooped, but I don’t think we accomplished much by it.

We would idle away tomorrow, and meet an hour after dusk. What could go wrong?


So anyway. His grace, keeping up the charade that we were a mercenary company trying to get into town, went down to argue with the new gate guard. Unknown to me at the time, he decides to bribe the guards to get in. Ovthen also bribes his way in, our scruffy down-at-the-heels mercenary dwarf dropping more money on them than they will ever see in their entire lives.

Stuff happens. Ovthen decides to make an absolute display of himself. He’s tyaken to the castle. Don’t know where His Grace and the four or five hangers-on he took into town with him are. First thing I know about it, Rainor and I see what is unmistakably a Flame Strike hit the castle. Shit. I’m running to Rainen, casting invisibility as I go. Another one for Rainien and Rainor on the way over (I use the low level spell because it lasts longe and it’s less risky). Ovthen is in the castle courtyard, enlarged, fighting two giants. I do the HALO jump again (not sure why they call it that), yell “Ovthen, you bloody idiot” so that he knows it’s me, and then Dimension-Door the two of us the hell out of there.

Dave dealt with this at the table by having us play the bad guys – the human guards. My dude got toasted 😦 .

I’m – I still can barely contain it. THe whole town, the whole town is in an absolute uproar. I don’t know what our contact, Madam Whatshername, is going to think. At least it was only one of us, and His Grace wasn’t in the castle courtyard, openly fighting with the guards.

We have a Hat of Disguise, so maybe we can deal with this mess by disguising Ovthen and pretending that the fracas was nothing to do with us. Maybe not. I think we should just bury him up to the neck in the woods and pretend we never knew him. Pick him up later. He’s a dwarf, he’ll survive. I can still teleport us into and out of the old inn where we are supposed to be meeting tonight.

Or maybe we might as well simply assault the castle and damn stealth. I don’t know.

It’s just appalling.

Unknown to Switch, His Grace et. al. was in the bearded clam (whatever), and sort of did a hat-tip to Ms Thingy (actually, it was Ben’s character, the Dragon Disciple). There was also a nugget of information – Lord Drellev has been acting weirdly ever since he got a new caster. An important development. Switch couldn’t have gotten that info, with her crap social skills.

In any case. Game on next week.


Kingmaker

24 September, 2011

As always, this blog is heavily Switch-centric, which I can’t really help.

Well, this other group of about five large trolls began to absolutely trash the market. Rainor, Rainen, Ovthen and I were going to have to deal with it. I put a Displacement on Ovthen, as he was going to have to get down amongst it. I used dear little Giacomo’s wand – now that he’s gone, I rather miss him. How can we go on, without his tuneless doggrel to inspire us?

Ovthen used a prayer to make himself greatly more fearsome in combat. And then I used an Improved Invisibility on myself. I have no illusions whatever about my own ability to withstand a swipe from one of these things. My strategy is not armour, but avoiding being hit at all.

Meanwhile, Rainor was already firing – putting three arrows into the nearest one. He uses Gravity Bow, you know, and a bow with an enormously powerful draw. Being hit like that would fell most things – but it seems not these trolls.

I moved forwards into the market to deal with the one that Rainor was shooting

Negotiating the fence with an elven grace and agility completely wasted on account of her invisibility. Acrobatics +23.

They are always telling me to concentrate fire, so that was my plan – would finish off the ones that were down. Rather a repeat of that previous time we cleaned out a nest of trolls. An Acid Splash is surprisingly effective if you place it right, instead of simply splashing it at your enemy as most are wont to do.

Switch gets 4d6 sneak attack: 3 levels of rogue, 5 levels of Arcane Trickster. Her Sniper Goggles add 2 per sneak attack die. Very respectable damage for a cantrip – but you do need a 4th-level spell to make it work.

Anyway, this half-orc emerged from the liquor store and began advancing towards the troll. As he was fighting rather than running, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and to assume he was a proprietor rather than a looter. I thought it impressive but stupid of him to not be cowering in the castle with all the other peasants, but soon he demonstrated why – breathing fire at the one Rainor had shot and dropping it.

Well!

Ben is going Dragon Disciple. An odd class – primarily a melee combatant and capable of going toe-to-to with a troll. I had worried that the trolls would get into the casters and mince us, but a dragon disciple and a cleric with Divine Power is more than enough thump. The auras, as well, will take over some of the work that the bard was doing.

There was another troll in the yard, and so I rather pulled rank and commanded him to deal with that while I finished off the downed one. I am a Freedonian baroness, after all. I had to be rather definite, you know, as I was invisible at the time.

An Acid Splash carefully placed directly into the Troll’s brain via the eye-socket soon stopped its twitching and regenerating. (You first remove the eye and pierce the back of the socket with a dagger, because the conjuration produces only a small amount of acid for a very brief time. Sorry to be gristly, but it’s a tip that may help you someday.)

CDG is a full-round action that provokes. It takes all your attention. This troll took 27 hp of acid damage (from memory), and then failed to make a DC 37 fort save. That’s how you finish off a Troll.

Looking up when I had finished taking care of that, the half-orc was not at all well. He’d taken at least one swipe and was bleeding. I had a few Scorching Rays prepared (our family friend is a godsend) and used one. I can manage two rays, and one of them hit the bullseye and it died outright.

Crit with a scorching ray. Two rays + 1 crit is 12d6, plus 8d6 sneak attack, plus 3 from Point Blank Shot, plus 16 from the sniper goggles, makes 20d6+19 for an even 80 points of fire damage (slightly below average). With Ben’s damage – also fire – dropped the bastard outright. We added up the dice a couple of times and got different results … it’s possible that the lower value was correct, but fuck it. 80 points off a crit is believable for this character.

The “family friend” is the artifact Thought and Memory, which among other things acts as a Ring of Wizardry II. Switch packs 3 Scorching Rays, and also has a Pearl of Power II.

Anyway. I told this half-orc to go to a giant dressed as a dwarf just outside for some healing, and then headed over the fence myself. Just outside the market, there was a downed troll next to Rainor and Rainen, and Ovthen was standing off two of the things. Not a scratch on him – a parting gift from Giacomo. After a moment or two, we all had dropped the remaining two and I took care of the twitching with the “Acid Splash into the eyesocket” trick.

But there was one of the damned things on the battlements. The half-orc took Ovthen up there with a Dimension Door (he’s a sorcerer, I think. I know it’s wrong to look down on people, but still…), and Rainen took Rainor. I elected to try out my new Fly spell. By the time I got there, the fight was over. Oh – another sorcerer had turned up – His Grace’s new Golden Haired Boy. An improvement on the kobold, I suppose,.

There was a bit of a hush in the yard, as there usually is when a battle is done. I put on my spymistress cap and called out “Hooray for Duke Jope! Huzzah!”. I don’t have much of a voice for that sort of thing, but luckily the crowd picked it up. Could have been a little embarrassing.

Charisma 9. No ranks in “perform”. Rolled a 20.

After a moment the great man himself arrived and took charge, and we all began to mop up.



From the Inner Sea World Guide. Hopefully our characters get a better map than this!

Rainor and I wandered outside for a rather unpleasant bit of business which might best be kept from the commons. We found a human with a bit of rank, removed a page of parchment from his back (Rainor’s job, that) and I cast Treasure Map on it. The map reveals the location of whatever the, ah, donor felt was precious. It’s a little stomach-turning to watch: the veins sort of rise to the surface and pop, but after a day or two they go black and it’s less disturbing. We are not interested in some soldier’s treasure, of course, but I was hoping that we’d get an indication of where the person’s home was, which is why I chose someone with a bit of rank rather than a private who might have been a mercenary from anywhere. It’s possible that he might have had some loot buried in a field, I suppose, but hopefully we have at least got the general region right. We got a rather useful map of the lands to our west. There is a lake surrounded by swampy lowlands, and a settlement on that lake where the person’s treasure was located.

Rainor transcribed the map onto, shall we say, cleaner parchment.


Well, we all wracked our brains for information. The region is one of those areas that Brevoy felt authorised to give out to people. Like our own “Stolen Lands”. It was all barbarian tribes prior to that. You know: tribes of 20 adults each with their own pet name for God and nursing undying hatreds for the other tribe living over in the next valley. Rather like in the old testament (oops: broke character there!). One of us felt that there might be a connection to the Hag goddess (we cleaned out a nest of them in Fort Tuskwater soon after we established the town. Seems ages ago, now.)

His Grace received a petition from someone from that area. Apparently, the fort on the lake is controlled by a person named insert name here. He has done a deal with the various barbarian tribes in the area where he gave them hostages – family members of each of his high-ranked advisers. The petitioner’s sister is one of those hostages, and she would like our help. She feels that the whole area is unstable enough that switching to a new lord would not be difficult for them.

We also questioned a couple of prisoners. With the aid of Zone of Truth and Detect Thoughts we were nonetheless unable to drag anything out of them simply because we didn’t have the stomach to hold their toes into the fire. His Lordship ordered the cleric and the goody-two-shoes paladin out of there, but even then we couldn’t. One of them eventually offered us information in exchange for gold and a ticket to Brevoy. We agreed, and got some information.

(I have also asked our factor in Brevoy to arrange for something suitable for this person. He invaded our lands, killed our citizens, looted our cities and we pay him off? Absurd! I wanted very much to try the Phantasmal Killer spell. Perhaps I’m turning bloodthirsty, but seeing armies fight is a very different thing to removing the odd monster. The shorter-lived a race, the more savage it is, as a rule.)

I have one or two personal theories. It occurred to me straight away that if we deal with this chief, then the tribe’s hostages are worthless to them. That being the case, it’s rather possible that this chief has such a tenuous hold on the loyalties of his advisors that he himself arranged for this hostage taking. Under color of appeasing the local barbarian tribes, he has secured his own place at home.

Having said that, it’s ten people. How many of our citizens died in this attack? What kind of ruler has trolls in his armies? Damn stupid, long term. I say – decapitate the kingdom, annexe it, and hold nice funerals for the hostages. Who knows? Maybe the barbarian tribes will even return them nicely if we threaten them. After all, they would now be dealing with the might of the Fredonian armies. Mainly kobolds, true, but we don’t have to tell them that.

We’ll spend a week taking care of business. Then we’ll head out.


Kingmaker – it never rains but that it pours

20 September, 2011

We have started the next module, which it would seem involves war and mass combat.

Michael,

No rest for the wicked, it seems. I was rather hoping to be able to take a month off (after attending to business). But we arrived home to

(How odd, that I call Fort Tuskwater “home” now. Perhaps you only recognise home as home by leaving it and returning. Home is home only when compared to all the places that are not.)

home to find that Tatzelford was under attack by an organised force. We went there with dispatch, of course. My poor scroll-case! Emptier by the day, but there’s no help for it.

At Tatzelford, well – I didn’t pay much attention o business. Too many cooks spoil the broth, you know. General Rainor and His Grace organised most of the battle. We spellcasters prepared some suitable spells and let the general know what they were so that he could integrate them into his plans. I don’t normally do evocation, you know (well, aside from Scorching Ray) – I find it a little dry and mathematical. But Vordakai (Remember him? The lich we banished.) had Wall of Fire in his spellbook, and I have successfully transcribed it. It’s perfect for this type of battle. Ovthen can cast Wall of Blades, of course.

Switch is a specialist Illusionist. I went specialist to get those extra spell slots – important when you are multiclassing. I chose Illusion for Improved Invisibility, a given when you are a Wizard/Rogue. Her opposition schools are Necromancy, because it has the wrong flavour for the character (although it’s tough to give up some of the best attack spells in the game); and Enchantment, which requires more role-playing than I want to do.

I don’t have much truck with blasty AoE spells, usually. A fighter does way more damage, more reliably, and without hitting the other party members. But sometimes it’s the right tool for the job. Switch actually does not know Fireball at all, or I would have prepared a couple for this fight.

Anyway, we chose our positions. Most of the morning was spent fighting off a mass of common soldiers. Our wall spells did terrible damage. I’m finding that I don’t have much taste for mowing down scores of ordinary humans or burning them alive. It has to be done, but it’s very terrible. I’d far rather deal with the persons responsible for the attack and simply absorb the lands and its commoners into Freedonia.

After them, we were attacked by trolls. Our forces are somewhat split. His Grace’s battle went well – although one did escape. Trolls regenerate, of course. They dealt with this by knocking them thoroughly unconscious and then dropping them onto that magical campfire that we have been carrying around since day one.

But there’s another group coming over the hill now, and it’s just we spell casters and Rainor. Well see how well we acquit ourselves. These are things I am perfectly content to set fire to.

Ben finally has his character ready, a sorcerer who does “do” AoE blasty spells. Our characters are on a roof at the moment, so I suspect it will be sorcerer and ranger blatting things, and invisible wizard/rogue getting up close and personal, relying on improved evasion buffed with a Cat’s Grace to avoid the Fireballs that the sorcerer will be lobbing.

The DM has ruled that the rogue can coup-de-grace with a ranged touch spell as a full round action, same as cdg with a missile weapon. With Acid Splash, sneak attack, the auto-crit, and her Sniper Goggles, that’s 1d3*2+4d6+8=26 average, a fort save of 36. With Scorching Ray, it’s 4d6*2+4d6+8=50 average, a fort save of 60. If the DM allows me to fire with both rays for the CDG (because you can’t really CDG two enemies at once), the extra 4d6 makes it a fort save of 72.

IOW: it would take a disastrous roll for a Rogue/Wizard not to CDG an unconscious troll with Scorching Ray. Even with the cantrip her odds are pretty good. But she has to get right next to them and is relying on the other characters to drop ’em to zero.

Hmm. Might go Cat’s Grace, Improved Invisibility, and Grease. Her Acid Splash has a range of 50′ now that she’s CL 10, and the Sniper Goggles give her sneak attack even at that range. Average damage 24, but it’s acid. Worth doing that for as long as possible before getting close.