Kingmaker – Oh for heavens sake! Really?

13 March, 2012

So we decide that we couldn’t simply leave whatever-it-was in the cave behind us and take the hostages back home. Instead we leave them with Rainen (who Rainor can telepathically communicate with), and go to investigate.

On closer inspection, the fog in the passage leading into the hill seems to be an “Obscuring Mist”. It tastes a little chaotic, if that makes sense. Beyond is was a room with three priestesses of the hag goddess – remember those cultists who gave us some trouble early on? There is a fight, and they are laying about with some sort of Confusion effect. I damn near kill Ovthen.

I didn’t blog last week’s Serpent’s Skull. Finally popped my DM cherry – killed a character. Tim’s. Needless to say, Ovthen is also Tim’s character. I don’t have it in for him, I swear!

We deal with the priestesses. There are two doors. Oh, and I might mention: there seems to be a Guards and Wards effect on the place. Webs, disorientation. A real pain. Very important we don’t become separated.

Beyond one door is a statue of a barbarian – no doubt the one who is al prophecies to return and scour the world clean of decent, civilised people. Beyond that, a room with four identical exits. Damn. With the magic on this place, you know that it spins around to disorient you.

Beyond the other door is an odd room – four differently sized boulders and four depressions in the floor. Ah – a puzzle. Do people really put those sort of things in dungeons, as in the books? It appears so. But why?

The boulders are too heavy for me to help with, so go back to the corpses and commence to cast Create Treasure Map. The map is quite odd. Rather than being filled with detail, it simply shows the chamber we are in, and instead of an “X marks the spot”, there is a circle drawn around a whole chunk of the map to the northwest. Then I understand – this place is not a temple of the Hag Goddess. These priestesses were here to raid it, and new only the rough location of something significant.

The boys trigger a trap in the boulder room, and several of us are caught in it. They then decide to put the boulders in in reverse order, and that seems to fix the problem.

Tim found out about the granted ability of the Strength domain – a +11 to Ovthen’s strength for a limited time. Nice. That’s how we shifted the boulders. Oh, and his Cure spells are 150%.

Onward.


Rainor and I think Klael go into the next room. It There is some sort of wheel on the ground, which they turn. Immediately the whole room becomes icy cold and conjured ice walls them in. They keep turning the wheel. I try to deal with the wall with a Scorching Ray, but it just burns a hole through and hits Klael (shooting a lot of own-goals today). Ovthen tries to bash through the ice from outside – I drop a Resist Energy on him. Eventually he gets through, and I leap through the hole he made as the room seals it up again.

Inside I first of all give Klael a Resist Energy by way of apology. After a moment, I need one for myself – it is cold in here. They keep turning the wheel. It clicks to a final notch and they hold it in place, and as they do the cold lessens somewhat. I jam the wheel in place. We discuss unjamming it – maybe it needs to be wound up and unwound, but Rainor disagrees and keeps holding the wheel. After a few more moments the conjured ice dissolves away and the next door opens. Seems Rainor was right.


The next room is simply a large chamber with an animated statue. We have Enlarged Jope, and the statue beckons him. They fight. My magic does nothing, and after a couple of wasted attempts at casting Displacement, I just sit back and watch.

Watching, I understand. For heaven’s sake! This whole place was built by barbarians and the rooms are a series of hairy male challenges. Strength, endurance. I suppose the other rooms test you for ability to drink mead, or stupidity.

Still – it rather works in our favour. The hag-goddess priestesses would never have gotten through. If anything, this whole place might very well have been built specifically to keep them in particular out. In fact, this place might very well have been built to admit someone just like his thickheaded lordship through to whatever treasure the priestesses were after.

In other words, we are not necessarily in enemy territory here.

Gods! This barbarian destined to return and conquer the lands … you know how these prophecies work: they are worded so vaguely that whoever happens to fulfil them becomes “the chosen one”. Can it be that Jope himself could be (or become) the prophesied conqueror? It all fits rather neatly, I fear. Lets face it: that’s exactly what he is doing. I wager that beyond this next door lies a sword in a stone, or some sort of ancient barbarian crown or some such.

Then again, perhaps the current ruler of Pitax is “The One”. You know how these prophecies work. Whoever wins becomes retroactively legitimised. I might keep this to myself for now.

Jope defeats the construct. Not far beyond is, well, no doubt something.

So Switch’s and my speculations about the campaign are out-of-game for the other characters for the moment.

Kingmaker

22 January, 2012

We’re back! More or less. Next week is CanCon, and game will be off, but it was great to get back to game, even if things are going to be a bit choppy, schedule-wise.

Michael,

Having liberated Fort Drellev, we decided that it would be a good idea to pacify some of the surrounding area. Farms are dull, but an indispensable source of regular income. We spent a week or two back home. I did a little crafting (a pair of bracers of armour for Rainor, scrolls, and a fresh wand of Grease), and so did His Lordship. We also organised a caravan to take materials back to Fort Drellev. We do intend to annexe their territory into Fredonia soon, and I’m fairly sure the locals understand that.

In any case, we accompanied the caravan to the bridge at the northwest, then headed into unclaimed land. We were looking for a Dire Tiger, and various other jobs for which there are bounties. We also need to find Cloudarc Monastery, but I suspect that such a thing is more likely to be in the mountains to the southeast of Freedonia.

Cloudarc is not part of the pathfinder module – it’s a special quest that Dave is putting on for Brett. He’s been waiting a while 🙂 – Andrew, Morgan and I have had ours.

First day, we found some sort of beast lair, or at least a place where a beast had been. I assumed it was our Dire Tiger, and decided that I would scan the area with Locate Creature each night just before bedtime.

In the morning Rainor cast a fascinating divination. He doe nature magic, of course. The divination works with his own tracking ability, and allows him to actually see a creature by looking at its tracks. Rainor described the creature and without a doubt it was a Chimera.

Well!

The tracks were old, and we decided to push on.


Next day, we came to something odd. In the near distance was an enormous smell of offal, but before we could really investigate, we were attacked by tribesmen. I watched for a moment, but they were really to threat at all to the boys, so I left them all to their fun and wen to have a closer look to what lay ahead.

Well! I caught a glimpse of a Blue Dragon head. Chimeras fly, you know, so as I was a good distance from the fight – which was mostly over by this time (I have become quite hardened to slaughter, over the past couple of years. Not quite the human disdain for life, but getting there.) – I dropped a Hypnotic Pattern on the area. Hopefully, that would stop it taking wing too quickly and the lads could get a hit in.

The fight with the tribesmen ended, and His Lordship & co approached the spot where I was keeping the Hypnotic Pattern going. After a few moments, they signalled the all-clear. Approaching, I saw our Chimera, which had been savagely ripped in two by something. Something that hadn’t even bothered to eat it.

Bad news. This can signal the presence of something abberant or magical – something that doesn’t eat. But the real worry is that whatever it was had taken down a grown Chimera. Our Dire Tiger was the best candidate – although why it didn’t eat anything is a minor mystery. Perhaps Chimera meat simply tastes bad: I was not inclined to find out.

Back at the fight scene, there was one tribesman left. I had not prepared my usual full complement of spells that morning, so as to be able to to prepare and cast Locate Creature that evening. Instead, I spent a few minutes and prepared Toungues, and cast it on His Grace.

His Grace interrogated the wretch. I gather that there was nothing much by way of information. Some insults.

Jope: “You are not very good fighters”
Tribesman: “Says girlie-man dressed in metal”

Dave is a fine DM 😀 .

Most importantly, a mention of a name which escapes me right at the moment. Not a god, or anything any of us recognised. Apparrently, so-and-so would totally kick our butts, or some such. Also interesting was his mentioning that things around here – the lands, or something – had changed in the past few seasons. I got the impression that something large-scale, magical, but subtle (so far) was happening.

I have my suspicions, but they are out-of-game.

Oh – I almost forgot. A third thing of importance: the weapons these tribesmen were carrying were quite uniform and of excellent quality. I suspect Pitax.

Anyway. Rainor grabbed the tribesman, frogmarched him over to the chimera, and threw him in the offal. Then untied him and let him go! But a moment later I spotted Rainen and understood. Our wolf and ranger would have no difficulty whatever tracking them back to their camp. He ran off, and we returned to discussing this person, or thing, that the tribesman mentioned.

We do have a duchy, you know. His Grace has this whacking great banner with a dragon’s head on it. It’s quite magical. One of its powers is that it can Message any Fredonian military unit, once per hour. So we prepared a message, to the effect of “Require intel on ‘(name)’. Inquire sages, casters tower, temple. Report hourly.” and sent it to the captain of the keep guard. After a couple of hours, we were informed that (name) was some dead barbarian hero, prophesied to return and rampage across the continent, or some such.

Hmm.

We tracked our tribesman, actually slowing down our pace so as not to catch up with him. Rainor and Rainen had no difficulty whatever – zero, zip, none – following, despite the backtracks and dust-baths. We arrived at a valley exhibiting signs of human activity, and spied a tent camp.


A tent camp! The barbarians had taken hostages from Fort Drellev, could some of them be here? We had to know, before mounting an attack.

Well, guess whose job it is to scout out enemy encampments? There was brief debate, but the decision came down to “Someone invisible who can cast Dimension Door.”. Lucky me. Behind the camp was a steep hillside/cliff. We circled around and climbed it from the other side. I used Invisibility and Feather Fall and came down near an interesting entrance into the hillside towards the back of the camp.

I wandered down the passageway a bit. It looked to me like an old hewn passage recently re-opened. There was an abjuration across it further down (Mother’s gift had been invaluable more times than I can count). A alarm spell, or something like it. It looked divine (or at least fabulous). I debated dispelling it and looking further, but that was more risk than I cared to take.

Instead I investigated the tents. The big one was just a common sleeping area. One of them was guarded, so I snuck up behind it and made a little spyhole. Inside were two ladies with rather out-of-place clothing, one having a sobbing fit. It would be the simplest thing in the world to just teleport us all out, and that’s what I decided to do. I cast Reduce Person, stepped around the guard at the door, and wandered inside the tent.

Just as Rainor/Rainen has no trouble tracking a dude who is covered in offal, invisible Switch has no trouble wandering about a campsite at 3 in the afternoon when no-one is looking for her. We didn’t even roll the checks – her stealth is 23, +20 for being invisible. A guarded doorway is a little different. Arcane Trickster “Tricky Spell” lets her cast a spell silenced and stilled. Bonded item lets her cast a spell she has not prepared.

Inside I spoke to the one who was not having a crying jag. But she seemed to think she was hallucinating, or something. After a bit (and an incident with a pillow), I managed to half-convince her that she was not. In any case, I asked her to go over and calm down her friend. I then dropped the Reduce Person and the Invisibility, and teleported us all out. The crying friend was caught by surprise, but I managed to grab her anyway.

Switch has Cha 9, Wis 8. She is young and impulsive (for an elf). She also rubs people up the wrong way, the whole “I’m actually from a very old and respectable elven family” shtick, and comes across as flaky and generally not inspiring confidence.

Back on the brow of the hill, we all spoke a bit. The sensible one is Cassandra’s sister – Namaste’s other daughter. I was rather chuffed, until someone spoiled things by asking “what about the other three hostages?”

Damn. They were in another tent at the other end of camp, it seemed. The place was in an uproar. There was absolutely no reason to delay, and plenty of reason not to. I cast another Feather Fall (why do I prepare two? Because, that’s why.) and we entered camp. Rainor stayed on the hill to shoot things: he would have no trouble getting down if he needed to with his monk training.

The fight was, well, brief really. In the middle of the afternoon people were dozy and I imagine half the warriors off hunting. The boys had no trouble. His Lordship wanted an Invisiblilty Sphere, but I refused after what happened last time. If the very first thing you are going to do is attack, why waste a spell that will dispel the moment you do? I’m not made of magic, you know.

Klael positioned himself in front of the tent with the hostages. I made a spyhole at the back, and prepared to shoot at anyone who got past Klael. The ladies positively threw themselves at Klael (a paladin – all shiny armour and good looks) and actually interfered with his stroke at one point. But there was no real difficulty: two dangerous fighters on the ground, and a skilled bowman above with a clear shot at everything. I hadn’t done much … but I suppose clearing out one tent so that we didn’t need to split our forces was a help.

So. We have five hostages, and half a barbarian camp who haven’t come back from the day’s hunt, yet. We have an unexplored possibly quite old passage into a hillside, warded by some kind of divine abjuration. We are about a week away from Fort Drellev, the hostage’s home. I’d like to explore the passage, but it would be a pity if the returning barbarian hunting parties killed the ladies while we were busy inside. But if we just leave, who knows what will come out from under the hill to harry us? What shall we do?


Kingmaker

20 December, 2011

Michael,

It’s been a while since I wrote, and I’m a trifle drunk. But I’ll manage as best I can.

I checked a couple of doors, and behind one was the Baroness. My plan was to shoot her, then demand her surrender. Well: I shot her a tiny, tiny bit too well – she was completely unawares. I feel, well, a little badly about it really. But what’s done is done, and gods knows what kind of spellcaster she was and what she would have done if she’d had the chance.

The baroness was a level 8 aristocrat, and Switch put 16d6+16 points of hurt into her with no warning. She’s neutral: this sort of behaviour is acceptable, but barely, and not if she makes a habit of it. It is war, and aristocrats take their risks. It comes with the position.

We secured the castle, more or less. Dropped the portcullis and dealt with the troops inside. Rainen (I think) saw two groups leave the castle – the baron and some giants headed for the secret entrance down by the lake, and some other troops heading eastward towards Pitaxe.

His dukeness split us up: he would wait at the balcony, Rainor and Rainen above, and Klael, the warden (you know, the fellow we were there to rescue), and me below.

Hmm. Well: we closed the big secret door down in the basement and waited. After a few minutes, we heard banging on the outside. Now, Rainor a while back had given me this magical bird that could carry a message, But I didn’t think to use it. We fell back from the door, and I put up an illusionary wall. As soon as they levered the door open, we started tossing alchemists fire through. There were some screams (I really don’t like this combat business at all), and a little grim comedy as my illusion fooled the regular troops: I could actually see them pulling their blows as they hacked at thin air with their tools. I heard a female voice telling them it was illusion – Drellev’s bard/lover, no doubt.

It might have fooled the regular troops, but it didn’t fool the more experienced of our foes. Drellev himself came through the wall, and attacked. Klael took the brunt of it, but whatshisname also fought. Completely outclassed, of course, but with all that human “I’m only going to get old and die soon, anyway” bravado.

Meanwhile … something damn odd. I noticed a couple of illusion auras, and they had broken through our line. Not actively looking for them, you understand, but mother’s gift probably saved all our lives. I dropped a Glitterdust on them forthwith. What the dust revealed was – honestly, a human-sized and two giant-sized air elementals. We pieced it together later: the bard and two giants has come throug our ranks in Gaseous Form. A nice tactic.

Well, after revealing them I got away from them, which meant heading into the front. I finally had a chance to cast Improved Invisibility, and then proceeded to do what I rather felt was my job: taking out the bardess. Meanwhile, she had dismissed both spells, and the giants were attacking Klael and the castle warden. I put a Scorching Ray into her.

I think it was about now Rainor entered. One of the giants charged him, straight through Switch’s position. I appealed the call. “Roll a phenomenal stealth check”, said Dave. Natural 20, for a total of 43, not including the bonus for being invisible (which possibly might not stack with the Cloak of Elvenkind). Phenomenal enough, it seems. 🙂

Around now, His Grace finally arrived and things began to look more equal. The bard decided to flee. Klael had fallen (again – his God must be mightily sick of reviving him by now). I pursued the bardess until I had reached Klael’s position. I dropped another Scorching Ray into her, which was enough. (I had to get help to do it. Normally I reserve that for emergencies, but dammit: she was getting away. It was an emergency!) Then I pulled out a healing potion and revived Klael. About now, Rainen had come through the long way (ie, through the tunnel from the lake) and could help out Klael himself.

Scott’s paladin is built around being able to do a lot of healing for himself as a swift action. But he was tanking it and soaking up a lot of hurt from Drellev and the giants.

As for Switch, Dave’s comment at the table was “people on the boards who say Arcane Trickster is a weak class don’t know what they are talking about”. Switch has a Ring of Wizardry II (Thought and Memory), a Pearl of Power II, and a bonded item (T&M, again). I think she put a total of 5 Scorching Rays into various soft bodies over the course of this assault. A 11th level character with a Dex of 18 and Point Blank Shot does not miss a ranged touch attack.

At this point in that game, at the table I said to Scott, “Ok: Klael has had as much help as he deserves”. 😛

Looking back, His Grace and Rainor (when had he arrived?) were in trouble. Rainor was fighting hand-to-hand, which is a little unusual. One of the giants nearly killed His Grace and he had to withdraw.

We play with the GameMastery™ critical hit and critical fumble decks. Unknown to Switch, Rainor had fumbled and had had his ability to shoot a bow nerfed for 3 rounds, to general hilarity.

Anyway. I’m not a cleric, you know, and there’s not a lot I can do. But I maneuvered in and put a Displacement on Rainor. I had been saving it for His Grace, but he wasn’t there, so tough titty.

Damn! Giants are bad news. They have a good chance of hitting, and they hit hard. Ovthen held off two of them, but only because he was AC-ed out to the max. Jope had to run off – no choice. I think he took the brunt of it for two rounds or so, and that’s all our main heavy fighter could take.

Displacement really shines as a defensive spell when you are up against things with a good to-hit. Let’s say your enemy hits on a 19-20 (2/20). With displacement, that reduces to half (1/20), so effectively it’s +1 to AC. Lets say, OTOH, that you enemy hits on a 7 (14/20). Displacement effectively gives you a +7 to AC: better than the best non-epic armour you can get.

It definitely saved Rainor’s life. The way Dave was rolling was also a big help 😛 .

We killed the last giant, and all but one of the guards, and then we piled onto Lord Drellev himself. I don’t know who struck the final blow.

The guard, quite sensibly, surrendered. I think he may have soiled himself. We spared him – not a nice man (according to Klael), but not supernaturally evil. He told us that many of the pitaxe mercenaries were of the opinion that a lord who couldn’t hold his keep was no lord, and left. Demonstrating once again (if more demonstration were needed) the sheer folly of using mercenary troops: anything you win or keep with their aid is not truly yours. We rely on kobolds, admittedly, but they are definitely ours, and will fight to the death for Freedonia.

We decided on a fiction: that this warden person (Cassandra’s father – the one whom we had come to rescue) was the one who slew Drellev. We laid one of the giant’s swords on him and took him out on a litter (couple of spears from the armoury). The locals were suitably impressed, but rather more impressed by Drellev’s head on a pike.

Possibly a little unsafe, politically. His relatives have a claim on the barony, now. Right of conquest and all that. But I think I might mention in strictest confidence to one or two of the right people what actually happened.

We returned to Tuskwater. Business as usual: bills to pay, statues to erect. His Grace sent some cash to Fort Drellev for rebuilding, which was very gratefully received.

I’ve given Rainor my Braces of Armour and strengthened the enchantment on them (The chain shirt that Jope did for me is better, but Rainor doesn’t wear armour). I do want another Wand of Grease – the one I am using is just about done. And scrolls, of course, always scrolls – silver dust and a few days of scribing. I really, really, really should do up a replacement spellbook, too.

We simply must deal with these barbarians. There’s also a great deal of land to the east to claim. Perhaps I might petition for a grander title than “Baroness”. His Grace, after all, will soon have enough lands to style himself a King, which will be terribly amusing. Do you think I should fancy myself a “Countess” amongst the humans? It might annoy people, but that is the whole point.

Until next I write,
Your sister,
Seldrynn.