Hippie out

30 May, 2013

Just a quick note, this time.

I have finished my little speaking-stick. Tongues, once per day, for about an hour, on whomever holds the stick. I had to explain it twice, and they asked me “So, what do you do with it”, to which I replied that I had told them how it worked, and how they organised their meetings to take advantage of its magic was not my problem.

You know, it’s rather answered for me something that used to be a puzzle – where do all those odd little one-off magic items come from? The doors that open themselves, little flying whistles, you name it. The answer is: people like me make them. Obvious in retrospect, really.

Actually … I think I may have screwed up the base price of the item. Calculated it for a 2nd level spell rather than a 3rd level. Oh well.

Rainor had a long talk to the oak in the center of the manastery. Then, speaking-stick in hand, we had a chat to one of those insectoid things. They have a hive mind, and were not really much help. All we really got was that it would be worthwhile talking to the vine that has come through the portal.

So Rainor chatted to her (why her? It’s what she identified herself as, and it’s not for us to judge) and all we really got there was that she was physically plugging the portal to whatshername’s pocket plane and was not inclined to let us through.

We went back home, at a bit of a loss, and then back to the arena for some more dreams. This time, one of us dreamed of an attack on Wyvern Bridge by giant worms. One of them broke through to where we were, and then an alarm came from the castle – Wyvern Bridge was under attack.

We teleported. I could have worked on the spell of Greater Teleport, but instead I have been working on Limited Wish. I still can’t teleport eveyone at once, so we split into team elf and team shiny – I took Rainor and Rainen and what do you know wound up miles away (we need to organise teleport targets for all the cities – a circle with a distinct pattern for each).

But, I managed a second casting and got it right this time. Team shiny were fighting some giant worms. I stayed out of it – flying and invisible, firing scorching rays. A nasty moment when one of us was swallowed whole by one of the things, but we killed it quickly enough for him to cut his way out.

Fun aside, we are really at a bit of a loss. I don’t think I can manage a Plane Shift, and even if I could I’d need a key for the particular demiplane we are looking for. We have collected some items from various creatures from this plane, but blowed if I know what we should do with them.

I’d have to say, at this point, that whatshername is winning. At this rate we will have to abandon the capital and leave it to the fey.

Searching for a nice picnic spot

19 May, 2013


Forgive me for not writing sooner. I have … I have been down a strange road.You may have heard rumours, that I was dead, that I was alive, that I had changed. Many of them true, it grieves me to say. But at the end, I could not betray my friends, and the god had no further use for me. From it all I have learned little, I think, but an abiding respect for those who deal with the gods. Many mages dismiss those who dabble in the holy and profane. Not I, anymore. I have stared over the lip of the abyss, nearly fallen in. Such beings – it awes me that any mortal could traffic with them. And yet so many do. I will leave them to it.

As to Freedonia, the tale is more simply told, if no less dire. We seem to be the epicenter of a major incursion from the first world. And no mere planar concurrence, soon to pass; but an organised attack by a powerful noble among the fey. The duchess, or queen, or whatever is fated to die by a certain sword which we have in our posession. There have been large scale occurences around the kingdom – vast whirlpools in the lakes, armies of small twig men. Every night our capital is buffetted by nighmares, and these nighmares pull summoned creatures into our reality (I belive it’s a gate rather than a summoning, as the corpses of the creatures are left behind if they are slain, but this is a technical point).

As the nightmares seem to attack the more prominent citizens, we the court have taken to sleeping in the arena, that the commons might not be harassed by what our dreams pull in from the first world.

But we have hope from a curious quarter.

We have found a children’s book – Zutteger’s Picnic. Although oddly dreamlike and altered, the events in the book match the events in the real world. That is: this author seems to have written out some sort of prophecy. The childrens book descibes the whirlpool, describes the army of twig men. It describes an icy graveyard, which we found in our mountain range. Most of all, the book centers around a hunt for a crow (who had stolen his spoon). In all of these dreams we have been having, the image of a crow, or great black bird, is always in the backgound. I believe that this bird is she herself – the fey queen (or duchess, or whatever) that we face.

So we have been traipsing around the kingdom, trying to match locations to the events in this children’s book. Happily, I have grown skilled enough to cast spells that makes this a great deal easier.

These days we Shadow Walk to a hex on the overland map, and Teleport back to Fort Tuskwater. Switch teleports half the party, and Kevin (not his actual name – Bevis’ paladin) uses a Helm of Teleportaion to teleport the other half. If we need to move around, Rainor rides Rainen, Kevin rides his Kirin, and Switch does a Phantom Steed for everyone else, which flies and lasts 28 hours. Getting from A to B is not a challenge for a 15th level party.

If anyone follows my blog, we have missed out a bunch of real-world stuff. Scott has gone to Wollongong, Bevis has returned. But in game they were both playing paladins, so it has been pretty seamless, there. Andrew has switched from playing Duke Jope to playing a sorcerer and a cohort dwarf oracle of Desna. Switch had been looking for a cleric of Desna for some time what with the whole Zon Kuthon business. Currently Andrew is playing Jope again, as the large-scale narrative kinda centers around the duke.

So. The book describes a waterfall, and we have tries a couple of locations in the kingdom to find it. We went to the Shrike Cascade, which were inhabited by these odd centaur-fey things. I used my new spell: “Freezing Sphere”, and it was most fun. These things were quite nasty, actually. Not a problem for me, as I was Flying at the time, but they nearly killed Fiver (the Oracle of Desna).

This party is juuuust about getting to the point where D&D becomes a little silly. Everyone seriously kicks ass. Switch dropped two Freezing Spheres (14d8), a Chain Lightning (14d6) and a quickened Fireball (10d6), oh and then some Scorching Rays to mop up. Remeber – Arcane Trickster with sniper goggles. Three scorching rays, each one doing 4d6+6d6 sneak attack +12 if the target is within 30′. And a rod of Quicken Spell, so she ges off two of those.

Meanwhile Rainor is smacking these things with the Bow of Herne (bane human and fey), Jope is being Jope, and Kevin is using a lance with Spirited Charge and some sort of abilty that effectively transmutes it into cold iron.

These things were aquatic fey with some nasty, nasty abilites, but the Freezing Sphere turned the entire waterfall to ice six inches thick. Which kinda fucked it up for them. Oh, also they conjured a mist granting them concealment, but both Switch and Fiver have Greater Dispel Magic.

To give them credit, they did nearly kill Fiver with some sort of poisoned wave of water ability.

After this, we were thinking of visiting the other falls upstream to the north, but really these fey would be doing something more spectacular. So went instead to the river that feeds Lake Silverstep. Pretty, but nothing there. We went to the waterfall behind Vordakai’s tomb. Not as pretty, and nothing there either.

But we had another lead. Up at cloudarc is some sort of portal to the fey realm, and Zack Jackson (Have you ever heard of him? Professional vandal pretending to be an archeologist) saw something inside that matches one of the scenes in Zutteger’s Picnic. So we headed there.

The mythal still defends the place, so we had to ascend on foot. I had never been there, you know. It’s a temple, a monk temple. Plain food, and people practising martial forms. There are creatures here (I am writing this from the temple) which, well aparently there’s a bit of a history. They were evil things under the control of the fey when his Majesty cleaned it out, and now it seems they are not. I don’t know what they are. Insectoid, but not Thri-Kreen. They tend the plants and practise the monk fighting forms, but they and the Kobolds are not able to communicate at all. I’m making a speaking-stick for them (tounges once per day – should take me about two days to do). Perhaps its not actually a good idea, maybe they’d be better off learning to coomunicate in their own way. But, well, I’ll make it anyway.

Rainor is hanging about, doing monky things. Koans and whatnot (what do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?). The other two, I’m not sure. I imagine Jope has found some alcohol, and Kevin is busilly trying to convince the monks to be fanaticlly dedicated to a god, which just isn’t going to work, you know.

Oh, I should mention.

I have finally done as I have been meaning to do ever since our heirloom fell to me to bear. I have added an enchanment on top of the other enchantments he bears – Freedom of Movement. I would have loved to add to his power to grant additional spells to his wearer, but honestly it’s a bit beyond me and all things considered this enchantment might be a better choice. Since the first Verdant was – well – like me, it seems that whoever of us bears this ring will always be getting into scrapes. Dimension Door twice a day would have been an option, too (always pack two – one to get into trouble, and one to get out of it). But I think I have done the right thing.

You honour your house, Verdant-daughter. You honour me. I shall bear this gift of your power for as long as I and your house endures. When the time comes, pass me to another. I am not yours to keep forever.


17 December, 2012

Well, I’m not sure what voice to write this post in. The usual “letters to Michael” won’t really cut it anymore, because Switch has turned to the dark side.

She got a bit of a psyhic note from Zon-Kuthon, a very specific Contact Outer Plane spell, that must be cast on someone who is bleeding out. Now, last session Klael caught a wererat – this week we questioned him, promising him freedom for information.

After we let him go, Switch went invisible, said she was going to check some stuff, and chased him down. The problem is that the spell doesn’t work on someone who is dead – they have to be in the process of. But Switch does have access to one spell that does the job.

Magic Jar.

She cast Improved Invisibility, then possessed the rat. Then it was a bit of comedy, trying to find some way to kill the rat. Switch still had her spells while possessing the rat’s body, so cast Scorching Ray and Acid Splash until the rat was unconscious and bleeding out. Then, back in her own body, cast the spell.

All invisible. Rainor was watching, but there was nothing to see. The conversation went like this:

ZK: What?
S: I am willing to serve.
ZK: I see. And what do you offer?
S: Well, this wererat.
ZK: Yeah, ok (“It Is Sufficient”). What do you want?
S: Um, Arcane Power!
ZK: Orly? And what do you offer in exchange for that?
out of game: Guys? Scott is definitely going to Wollongong in the new year?
out of game: Yeah dude, totally.
S: The life of the paladin with whom I travel.

To general hilarity. Dave was expecting “My full loyalty” or some such, but I was a bit put on the spot and tried to think “What would Zon-Kuthon really like?”. So, yeah – Switch has offered to gakk Klael (who has saved her life dozens of times over) in exchange for cool shit from the God of Pain and Envy. Not to mention murdering a wererat after solemnly promising to let him go.

Yeah. That’s, well, that’s pretty darksided. Murder, betrayal. Definitely, unquestionably evil. A real dick move.

After this, the god conveniently disposed of the body, which was way better than my plan of using Expeditious Excavation to do a grave. There was seriously nothing for Rainor to see (and yeah, he was watching).

Switch has a acquired a level of “Chosen of Zon-Kuthon”. She gets regular spell progression and a bite attack (that does Con damage). Oh, and she has adopted black velvet, lace, choker with a silver skull type outfit. Beats me how long she’ll be able to hide the “biting people FTW” from Rainor. Klael I’m not really worried about, ’cause that sucker is going down. Might have to poison him a bit, first. Fun times 🙂 .


12 November, 2012

More war, but I think the last of our big battles. We had dealt with a couple of armies – another one to the north a day or two away, and were resting up to give the centaurs time to recover. But the Pitax army marched and attacked.

It was a major battle, and I think decisive. The Pitaxian giants mounted on mastodons, the wyvern flight, and two hordes of barbarians against our centaurs, kobolds, mercenaries and our regular army. We took down the wyverns first and I sent the mercs to fight the giants. We lost the mercenaries and the kobolds, we scattered the giants and one of the hordes, and finally we down to our centaurs and a few of the regulars.

(I sent the mercs against the giants because I rather thought that the fewer mercenaries left alive at the end, the better. It is usually the case that an army that wins with mercenaries has won nothing, because the mercenaries will then hold the kingdom ransom. But having them wiped out rather fixes that problem. Nasty, but that’s politics for you.)

Finally, we saw that it had all become very iffy, so we seven, the Court of Fredonia – entered the battle as well. His Grace and his bearer, Klael and mount and lance, Rainor with the Bow of Herne and Rainen, and me and my wand of Fireball (a sensible investment, that). The last of the regulars fell, the centaurs scattered, but we seven were able to carry the field. Qui stat uictor est.

It was damn close. Dave permitted us to enter as an army if we all spent an action point to do it. Level 14, a “tiny” army (so, CR 7), but with improved defenses: Stoneskin for everyone, improved weapons and armour, and other relevant buffs. We would have lost otherwise. Dave ruled that we were at 2/3rds hp and with most of the Stoneskin used up.

And finally all that was left was the opposing command. Three trolls – one with a banner – a mounted combaant and a weretiger. The weretiger shot at me (!) and then went invisible. She (and it was a she) was a specialist in hitting the weak spot. Like me, but rather better at it. Even with a See Invisible I couldn’t spot her. And then she attacked me from behind, grappling and clawing. I should have Dimension Doored out, but instead tried to slip out of her grip. Would have died if Klael had not lanced her and Rainor shot her.

But while this was going on, Jope had done for the other combatant (quite the battle, but I was rather too busy to notice. Weretiger.), and so we were just left with the three trolls. I had a second or two to finally cast Improved Invisibility, and then it was just mopping up. Both Jope and Klael had fire weapons, and I could finally be useful.

So. We were victorious. But I had been rather badly mauled by a lycanthrope. It’s a curse, you know, not a disease. But I am already cursed by Zon-Kuthon – why not be twice-cursed? And in any event the form of a weretiger, if you can manage the bloodlust, has definite advantages. Especially for one in my line of work. Already I am drinking blood at every opportunity, so why the hell not? How much worse could it be?

Try not to judge me, Michael.

Last night was the full of the moon. I felt it in my blood, the affliction, the curse. I felt my senses becoming keener, my bones trying to shift, felt the savagery, the freedom, the urge to hunt and kill. I was ready, Michael. I wanted to contend with the madness, to master the lycanthropy. I was eager for it. Weretiger! What’s not to like?

Then, a blue light. (Blue? Not exactly, but there is no better way to describe it.) And the cold of death. (I’m not just being poetic: it’s quite specific. I’ve been there, you know.) And a forbidding, a prohibition, a refusal, a ban:

Blood may serve only one master.

The god had spoken. I woke in the morning. The lycanthrope’s claw-marks had faded altogether to just an ordinary bruise. The power had gone, the were-taint. I was clean.


I have just got to get rid of this thing.

Kingmaker – retaking Tatselford

28 October, 2012

More war. I took a rather more direct hand in this fight. We were re-taking Tatselford. It has a wall, of course, but I suggested to his dukeness a thing or two that I can do, and he incorporated it into his plan.

First, the kobolds came in from the swamp mounted on crocodiles. By some freak chance we had a fog rolling in, and they were concealed until they were more or less right at the town. They attacked but were not all that effective.

Then I began my phase. Two Walls of Stone forming an assault ramp (more a bridge, really) from the ground to the top of the wall. The defenders moved to where they were anchored to hold off the assault, of course, and after giving them a moment to do that I put a Wall of Fire across the top of the town wall.

It was – it was rather nasty, Michael. They jumped – some the wrong way, they ran looking for water, and while they did the first of our teams climbed the ramps and some more brought up siege ladders. Once our people were in place, I dropped the Wall of Fire and left them to it.

And then flew over to the side of down where the Fredonian militia had assembled and did it again.

Which about tapped me out. From there I followed the centaurs, who put flight after flight of arrows into the keep of the castle. Once the troops has rammed the keep door open, the Pitax troops surrendered.

We questioned the leader – a giant – with Share Language (as I know giantish but Jope doesn’t) and Detect Thoughts. He turned out to be something of a loyalist, rather than a mercenary. And – of course – he knew nothing. He was expecting relief but had no idea when it might arrive.

One or two of our mercenaries were quite complimentary about my magic. Apparently, most casters seem to think that their job at war is to hurl fireballs, which although devastating to a unit really often has little tactical effect on a large battle. (A pity I can’t quite manage passwall, but I have been splitting my attention).

The carnage bothers me less than it used to. I hope it is simply that I ma becoming inured, and not that my affliction is having an effect on how I view life.

Kingmaker – WAR!

22 October, 2012

Been a while since I blogged kingmaker – I think I skipped a week. Paizo seem to include bonus rulesets with their adventures, and “War of the River Kings” has rules for conducting large scale war. It’s cool, but it shares the weakness that the “Crime Pays” rules have – by treating “the party” as a single unit, there’s not much for each character to do. The kingdom-building minigame has the same flaw, really.

How would you fix it?

Well – the Paizo games where you have to sweeten up NPCs (Serpents’ Skull, Skull and Shackles) get part of the way there. Each character picks an NPC to schmooze. But even then, everyone is rolling diplomacy. What you need is rules where the character’s individual strengths become important. If the king is a bard, then he plays it differently to how a fighter plays it. A rogue’s division of sneaks might be able to nobble the enemy before the battle, casters might buff/debuff rather than doing damage.

Ultimately it does come down to the fact that the game system is about individual activity, and a lot of the time the world doesn’t work that way. An NPC king might be an Aristocrat 15. Crappy, right? But that king has a bunch of stuff that D&D doesn’t really model all that well. He’s only crappy as a dungeon explorer and monster slayer. As a king, he’s doing all right.

Be that as it may, we moved our armies around the kingdom map and had one big battle at the end. As Machiavelli says: “never hazard your entire kingdom on anything less than your entire force”. Then we broke out into regular D&D after the armies had done their thing.

Oh – what the world needs is magnets that have whiteboard on the back of them, so you can write on them and move them around the magnetic board.


You have heard about the war, of course. I’m not paying as much attention as I really should – just hundreds of humans (etc) butchering each other, and I can’t really watch. Jope has called in the sootscale tribe, we have built a mercenary force, and the centaurs are helping, which is wonderful.

We were holding off the giants besieging Fort Tuskwater – there was a bit of business with that capstone we found. It’s some sort of cyclopean artifact which they were using to give them some sort of protection. Quite weird – it opens up and inside is this fountain of water. Of course, that’s only how it looks in our reality. I tried to pinch it. I summoned an elysian archer (one of the Bralani) and made him invisible, and asked him to grab the capstone while I distrated the giants with illusions. But the thing was dimensionally anchored, somehow, and unmovable. And the sorcerers using it had See Invisibility and Glitterdust, which rather puts a kink in the way I do business. We had to abandon the effort, although the archer was kind enough to hang about for a bit and shoot while I made my escape.

Now that Switch is using Summon Monster, although the spell compels service, when it comes to celestials she is being polite and treating them like actual people – NPCs. I think it’s more correct that way, and the spell does not establish a telepathic link or anything. For anything more complicated than a straight attack, you need to communicate with the summoned creature. Switch speaks celestial, so she spent a round or two outlining the plan with the Bralani.

So next day we attacked the encampment, using multiple Invisibility Sphere spells to cover our attack and exit. Oh, and a Wall Of Fire to slow down the bulk of the army. We didn’t recover the capstone, but we did manage to take out the giant that was using it and his two sorcerers before flying and teleporting off.

And then it was all armies on the move. Klael notified us from Tatselford that the place was under siege by a large flight of wyverns. All they could do was hide out and wait. But another large group of trolls was bearing down. We got the sootscale kobolds there first, and they ambushed the trolls as they marched to the town – absolutely tore them a new one. But as we were making sure of the trolls with Walls of Fire and general beheadings, the wyverns attacked and broke the sootcale army. Killed at least every second one, I think.

And so the wyverns continued to assail the town. We had some of the Nomen who would reach it next. The question was – attack with the centaurs, or wait for more of our forces? We decided to attack, or the wyverns would recover from their wounds. Even if the centaurs suffered losses, attacking sooner rather than later would give them a few days more to recover.

Well, the wyverns clearly expected more kobold arrows and not what they actually were facing – a century of skilled archers with full sized longbows. They were massacred.

But our information was that there was a colossal force of humans on the march from Pitax. Rather than defend Oleg’s, we decided to withdraw everyone to Fort Tuskwater and have a single, decisive battle there.

It was … it was war, Michael. I pray I’ll never have to see the like again. In the afternoon, Pitax were routed and our troops remained standing (and can I say that the mercenaries were useless – it was the kobolds with missile support that took them down).

I rolled for the mercs – a 2 and a 3, I think.

We charged the command hill, and that dammned Oni was there. I Glitterdusted him, as he has a habit of turning invisible. But we were not quick enough to keep him from reading a scroll and then teleporting out.

Well, this scroll created, or summoned something that pulled all the battle dead in and animated them as an enormous undead thing. Jope, Rainor, and Klael did what they do (and my, don’t the do it well), but I felt what they really needed was some celestial help. So I called for Hound Archons and three of them came. They couldn’t do much to the thing itself, but what they could do was extend their aura of protection – they adopted the form of small dogs to do so (to minimise their chances of getting hit. If they attracted the attention of this thing, it would simply have oblitrated any of them.)

Well, I don’t know how much it helped, but I’m sure it did. Gods knows what tricks this thing had. After that, I really couldn’t do much else – we didn’t have time to cast our spells before attacking. The boys took down this thing. I made sure to thank the archons sincerely and without flattery. If I’m going to be asking for celestial help, it would be wise, I think, to be diplomatic.

Now we have to mop up.

Hound Archons radiate a Circle Against Evil 10′, and they just got in behind Jope and Shieldbearer to cover them and cast Aid. And it was the right move – this thingumajig had a number of nasty tricks that the archons protected the characters from. It would “possess” a weapon, turning it against the party. It did this to Rainor one round, but hound archons have a continuous Detect Evil and Greater Teleport, so one of them popped over to cover him. And it would use Telekinesis to keep the heavy hitters back away from it. But Unable to do that, Jope got all his attacks. (Actually, I’m not sure that Protection from Evil would have done this. But that’s how we played it on the night, so meh.)

We took down a CR 16 thingy. Dayum! Now, let’s see how many saves vs the negative levels Jope and shieldbearer fail 🙂 .

PS: Oh! I almost forgot!

Jope and I have been working on some special barding for Klael’s pegasus. Jope’s workmanship is honestly astonishing – as good as some of our stuff. I worked a few illusions into the item – pink ribbons and rainbows. Klael’s mount, when it takes flight, looks absolutely faaaaabulous. I’m not sure Klael is entirely pleased, but it’s what His Lordship wanted and who am I to argue?

Kingmaker -Treachery! Treachery!

23 September, 2012

Well it’s been a while since I wrote, but I have been detained.

We delivered that capstone to the scholar from Daggermark, and he was quite taken with it. I dropped in on him just quietly, and I’m fairly certain that he had abandoned taking any interest in the games to study it. But no real sign of what the capstone actually did.

The games themselves went quite swimmingly. We participated in four competitions – archery, woodcutting, oratory and the joust, which is traditionally participated in drunk.

Rainor simply blitzed the archery. There were three targets at various distances, points given for distance, accuracy, and swiftness. Rainor shot ten arrows at the far target – launching his second flurry before his first arrows had even hit, and turned away without watching the last ones fall. No bullseyes, I’m afraid, but ten hits. It think one competitor did score two bullseyes on the middle target and approached Rainor’s score, but that was simply luck. Everyone knew that Rainor completely outclassed everyone else – it was obvious.

Jope did the woodcutting – six logs, cut through as many as possible in a minute. Well, we were caught by surprise as it turned out that magic was permissible: people were using potions and one sorceress casting Tenser’s Transformation. The only rule seemed to be that your spellcasting must be done in the time limit. Jope and I conferred. On his go, he stepped up and drank a potion of Enlarge. Meanwhile I cast Haste, but concealing the gestures.

Arcane Trickster “Tricky Spell” feature.

It was cheating, but we seemed to get away with it. Our story would simply be that he had gotten some odd combination potion off an alchemist. Enlarged, he worked his way along the logs and got through all six of them within the time, with a few seconds to spare. An unprecedented achievement, apparently.

The logs were set 15′ apart. Andrew did full round attacks, but on each round did a 5′ step to get closer to the next log in line. Enlarged, he could reach the next log in the middle of his full round attack once the one he was working on was through. He had to do a move action to move up the line on one round, but apart from that it was a blizzard of damage. Don’t know if the game designers thought of that one <g>.

On the oratory, we did less well. Jope related our assault on the underground drow fortress and how we came to free the kobolds. He wasn’t the worst, is all I can say. The winner and favourite was one of the Pitax counselors, who told stories about an unnamed kingdom – quite obviously our own, relating some of the events in a way that made us look like fools. She knew all of our business! And was letting us know that she did. Not good – Pitax’s spies are far better than our own.

The joust was to be held the next day. But the ruler of Pitax and host of the game announced at the dinner that there had been cheating! Naturally, we nearly shat ourselves. He held up a bunch of arrows. (whew!) It seems that someone had swapped in arrows with adamantine heads: non-magical, but more likely to pierce the targets. I cast Detect Thoughts, concealing the gestures again and scanned the other competitors. The daggermark contingent was in an absolute tizz, and it’s plain they were the cheats. I mean, really! At a friendly games and all!

The next day, I and I think also Rainor checked in on the scholar, but nothing to report. There were heats for the joust, and I’m sorry to say that Klael was knocked out early on, but by the eventual winner and favourite so there’s no great shame in that. Even so, Fredonia had won the competition on points.

But at the awards, the lord of Pitax announced that there had been a murder! The scholar was dead, his capstone missing, and the awards moot.

We went to his pavilion and investigated. We were questioned, and were open with answers which, in hindsight, was rather silly. His lordship arrested us and had us taken to a villa a few miles away, where we were under arrest.

Well, we politely stayed in the villa like idiots. Five days we cooled our heels, then the head of the secret police came in and simply ordered “kill them”, and pitax warriors poured into the room. Rainor, Jope and his shieldbearer, and Klael began punching the warriors out and scrabbling for the weapons they dropped. I tried to cast, but it had been some days since I had drunk the blood of anything respectable and had trouble concentrating. Eventually, I got off a Haste and a Greater Invisibility (it’s my only defense, really – up against a trained fighter who can see me, I am toast) and proceeded to deal with the Pitax bards who were busy singing their national anthem and war chant. Meanwhile, Rainor and Klael were whistling for their companions.

Within a few seconds (frightening how fast a battle goes, after days of inactivity) they were done, and Klael and Jope began stripping the armour off the warriors, shieldbearer helping them dress.

Rainor and I stepped outside, to where the head of the secret police was calmly smoking a Galois on the porch, watching the detachment of soldiers that had brought him ride off down the road. Rainor had a moment of bad luck or just plain clumsiness and alerted him and they began to fight. He knew I was there, too, even invisible. He was too quick to hit in a sensitive spot with a Scorching Ray, so I brought out my only big hitter: Phantasmal Killer. But he shook that off, too. It took Rainor, Rainen, and Klael’s pegasus to bring him down. Rainor grappled and pinned him, and I put a Scorching Ray into the base of his skull.

The stasi officer was a high-level rogue. Seldryn has 3 levels of rogue and cannot get sneak attack on a high-level rogue with Uncanny Dodge by flanking or invisibility. They have to be immobilized. The Phantasmal Killer had a decent chance – it plays on a rogue’s weaknesses – but he made his fort save.

As soon as we were free of the villa, Jope started to receive messages – Tatselford and Fort Tuskwater were under attack by Pitax! They would had to have started their march as soon as we were safely occupied with the games.

Of course.

So. Here we were. Armed and armoured if just barely, in hostile territory, and me without my godsdammed spellbook. I performed a Locate Object (with a little help from our family friend), but it was nowhere nearby. We needed our gear, including my backpack with probably close on a hundred thousand gold worth of scrolls which I have been crafting for the past year and my goggles. I mean – yes, everyone else has their stuff too. But I was lost without my spellbook.

The one soldier we had left alive was no use whatever. I suppose Mr Secret Policeman might have been some help, but I had incinerated his brain and no help was to be had there. There was nothing for it but to mount up (thankfully the stable had about a dozen horses) and ride for the games ground. We tied up the prisoner. We should have killed him, but Klael wouldn’t hear of it and even Rainor was squeamish. I suppose it wasn’t that important.

Sigh – the things that a neutral character has to put up with! Klael is a Paladin, and he and Seldryn avoid each other as much as possible.

We made decent speed and got to the site of the games within a day or so. We found our troops – a detachment of humans and kobolds, as well as His Grace’s masseurs and whatnot camped in the woods where we had left them.

The games were still being packed up. At the grounds we came dressed as secret policemen, of course, and Jope has “imperious” pretty much down. It seems our gear had been awarded as booty to the general of the Pitax army, and was with that general over at Tatselford.

So. Home with the best speed we could manage with a dozen or so troops, to assault the army besieging Tatselford.

Well, we didn’t really want to assault the whole army – just a quick strike into the command tent to get our stuff. It was a large pavilion surrounded on three sides by a palisade. Archers on the corners, a pair of trolls out front, and who knows what inside. The plan was to have our dozen or so troops stage a distraction outside at the main camp and to do a quick strike – in and out – at the pavilion.

We buffed up. I had Stoneskin (communal) prepared and a few pinches of diamond dust in my pouch. I also still had the Keen Weapon that I had prepared for the woodcutting. The godfolk were perfectly fine, of course, and cast their various blessings. We Dimension Doored into the pavilion and started the havok.

The interesting thing for me was just how much magic Switch still had, even without being able to prepare spells and without access to her scrolls. Thought and Memory acts as a Ring of Wizardry II, as well as being her bonded item. Stoneskin (communal) is a rort – 600gp worth of diamond dust to give everyone 110 points of DR 10/adamantine for 10 minutes. We needed it.

The general was an Oni – a spellcasting ogre. Great. He had two other people in the pavilion, both quite nasty fighters. Klael held off the Trolls, taking a real pounding doing so. I summoned an air elemental as a distraction (it fought defensively). Jope, Rainor and shieldbearer were dealing with the people inside, and I think Rainen and the Pegaus were taking out the archers outside. Our gear was all there in a big chest, but we didn’t have time to root through it. The Oni dropped some spells – confusion among them. Went invisible. I cast See Invisibility and Glitterdust, but he had gotten outside and was flying off. I managed to hit the trolls, too, with Glitterdust, which was handy, but I had no fire left to deal with them. The two offsiders were dead, the Oni had escaped, the trolls were healing up as we watched and had dealt with the elemental. Rainen, I think, had dealt with the confusion on shieldbearer but Klael was just about done. Jope and sheildbearer grabbed the chest and Jope was positively screaming at me to get us out of there (although I think we could have taken the trolls), so I did and we Dimension Doored back to the rendezvous. Less than a minute later, Klael on his pegasus and Rainor on Rainen arrive too.

And I have my spellbook back! The boys are rearming, Jope has his flail. We are still less than half a mile from a hostile army. We have barely a moment to take a breather.

I bet Dave threw in the trolls just because – well, because we are us.

Klael, between the Stoneskin and his Lay On Hands (which is a swift action for him, I belive), took about 300 points of damage. The dude is a tank.

Switch has used 21 spells – 5 in that last fight. She still has:

  • Detect Magic, Dancing Lights, Mage Hand, Acid Splash
  • Feather Fall × 2, Identify
  • Resist Energy
  • Major Image, Fly, Dispel Magic × 2
  • No 4th level spells
  • Phantasmal Web

Fun times.