Kingmaker

19 December, 2010

Michael

Well, we’ve dealt with most of the outstanding problems. I rather feel that we have come to the end of a chapter, of sorts, what with His Lordship’s imminent elevation. But first I’ll tell you what happened with the owlbear.

The city was in an uproar, of course. After a brief discussion amongst ourselves, we decided that nothing was to be gained by waiting around. I gave His Lordship a little boost in the Lordliness [Eagle’s Splendour] as usual, and he addressed the crowd. We would pursue the monster forthwith and – of course – bring back its head. The crowd were much cheered: we judged that we could depart and leave them for a few days, at least. If we should return reasonably promptly, then we should not have to face unrest and discontent.

More exactly: we had six days.

Tracking the beast proved no difficulty whatever – a trail of destruction led back to what was unmistakably its lair. We cast our spells, and ventured in.

The first chamber had exits in three directions – the exit ahead of us clearly being the primary one. We decided to clear out whatever might be lurking beyond the two smaller ones so that we might not be attacked from the rear. But among the fungi in the cave, we spotted a pair of shriekers. We decided to shoot them from outside the cave mouth so as to be out of the range of the effect of their noise. Rainor dealt with the first quite handily – it let out only a peep before expiring. I shot the second, but did not dispatch it, and it let out its alarm. Rainor dealt with it immediately, but the damage was done.

In retrospect, I utterly screwed the pooch in this encounter. a) we could have just left them alone while we dealt with what was in each side chamber, and b) if I hadn’t shot that second one with a measly 1d8+1 damage and instead waited for Brett’s/Rainor’s next turn, we could have gakked it quietly.

We entered the cave again, and His Lordship proceeded to the smaller entrance to the right. Within was a Shambling Mound, and they commenced to do battle. But as they did, a half-dozen giant spiders emerged from the entrance to the left. And among the mushrooms in the chamber itself were a few myconid – violet fungi. We were attacked on two fronts – His Lordship and Rainor battling the mound, while the rest of us were picking off spiders and fungi with magic and weapons. We were making progress, when finally the monster itself – the giant owlbear, 15 foot high at the shoulder [about a storey and a half, maybe two] – emerged from the central passage.

And I was standing in exactly the wrong spot.

It swiped me with its enormous claws and flung me aside. I cast Vanish and side-stepped, but it tracked me by smell. Meanwhile, His Lordship had fallen, or nearly so, dealing with the shambling mound. But Morgana saved the day, for the nonce, using her slumberous hex on the owlbear. Someone gave a potion of healing to His Lordship, the last of the spiders was dealt with, and finally the shambling mound slain. But as it was, a nest of spiders emerged from it and proceeded to attack – going after the ranger’s wolf. We decided to flee before the monster awoke (Morgana’s hex lasts only a brief time), for His Lordship was still badly hurt. We would run from the owlbear on our horses, the respite allowing us to use Morgana’s wand of healing.

I screwed the pooch again with how I played Morgana. Luckily, didn’t get her killed.

Once outside, Morgana immediately took to the air. The rest of us ran for the horses and proceeded to gallop away, Rainor firing at the monster as he rode, hitting it as often as not. But Morgana cannot fly as fast as a horse can gallop, and began to fall behind. Nevertheless, she again saved the day, cursing the owlbear as it thundered past. We reined in somewhat so as not to abandon her. But this allowed the owlbear to catch up with us, and … and it caught up with Dobby and clawed her terribly, flinging her to the side. Poor Dobby! No battlehorse, she! She died almost immediately, I but managed to keep my feet falling from her.

Then the monster came for me! It swiped at me, but blessedly missed – I think solely because of my Blur spell. I cast Invisibility from a scroll, and tried to follow Morgana’s lead, using Levitation to get out of the thing’s reach, but flubbed the spell badly for fear [Rolled a 1 on the concentration check.] as the thing sniffed me out and followed the sound of my spellcasting. Rainor continued to fill the monster full of arrows from a sensible distance, and His Lordship – restored at the price of many potions and spells – rejoined the fray.

Eventually it monster went down, I believe to a final shot fired by Rainor, cursed by Morgana, covered with rents from His Lordship’s sword and skewered by a score of war arrows. I did nothing but distract it for a little while, but I am content simply to be alive.


A search of the cave uncovered a thing or two. In the shambling mound’s room, we found a wand of Lightning Bolt wielded, no doubt, by some poor fool who did not know that lightning heals such things rather than harms them. In the beast’s chamber, we uncovered a Ring of Animal Friendship. On close inspection, there was a curse on it: after a while, an animal that you befriend with its power will turn upon you in a rage.

But there are deeper mysteries. Owlbears – of any size – do not take it upon themselves to attack cities with walled castles. And those shriekers were in such a perfect place to act as sentinels that I have no doubt they were planted specifically. Come to that, trolls do not generally settle in dwarf ruins and wear armour, and we know from interrogation that the goblin army and the bard were specifically sent by an enemy of our little steading.

On second thought, no mystery at all, really. The only question is whether we face one enemy or several working independently. And who that enemy might be. And why they oppose our civilising of the Stolen Lands. Okay, so that’s three mysteries.

We returned to Fort Tuskwater with – of course – the monster’s head, and there was much rejoicing. We organised the reconstruction of the ruined buildings, and the annexation of a little more land, and then His Lordship and his privvy council (us) were called to Restov. The word is that His Lordship will be created a duke, and our lands a duchy. We shall have to rename our capital: Port Tuskwater, or Tuskwater City, perhaps.

Rainor’s vision quest calls him onwards, and Morgana, too, has had some kind of vision. For my part, Mother has written me with regard to certain family business. She prepared a scroll or two for me, I think as much as anything to remind me of what I have abandoned by choosing the path I have chosen – works of art and power that I doubt I will ever attain.

No doubt the Swordlords will lay another mission on His Lordship, and so we each go our separate ways. But I am loath to break our party – I still feel that we are fated to travel together. And I doubt that I can run mother’s little errand on my own.

I will spend a few days collecting supplies for the wands I intend to make. And tomorrow I will find out what tomorrow has in store.

Your sister-in-exile,
Seldryn.


Kingmaker

16 December, 2010

God, what a meat-grinder! The adventure as written was tough, but we are a group of very experienced players, so the DM bumped it up a notch. There was enough XP in the dungeon to get us from 6th to 7th all by itself. I burned through a lot of consumables, as did Morgan (I’m speaking as me, so Morgan is himself in this blockquote :)).

Tripping is über in pathfinder. Then again … maybe that’s accurate. Once you are down, life gets tricky. Andrew (aka Jope, His Lordship) made a full round attack with haste – trip (fail), trip (succeeed), ordinary hit. Large troll tries to stand up – aao/trip. Large troll tries to stand up again – aao/trip.

On the other hand – even while prone you can still do full round attacks with reach. So, ok, take the AC penalty and just lay about with those big arms of yours. If that troll had just ignored being on the floor, the fight might have gone differently.

I’d make a couple of rule changes:
* AAOs are an immediate action. They consume your next swift action.
* Combat Reflexes allows you to make multiple AAOs all as part of the one swift action.
* Being prone reduces your reach to half, rounded down. A prone human does not threaten adjacent squares. A prone big-ass troll does.
* While prone, you can only attack with small or natural weapons (as per being grappled). No swinging about halberds or using martial forms when prone. Unless you have the “mat fighting” feat.

Sundering, also, is über. All that work and money into a flaming halberd, and now His Lordship owns a stick. Well – two sticks.

Michael,

Before I begin, I must unsay some of my words about Larien. During an attack on our town while we were absent, he conducted himself entirely as a Verdant ought. By all accounts, he fought with ferocity and intelligence [it’s elvish – an idiomatic encomium], and won respect for himself and our house.

But more of that later.

After the fight in the guardroom, we ventured further into the complex. We decided to “blitz” (a dwarvish word for lightning) in order not to lose our short-duration magic. The next room contained an interesting sight – a troll that had been neatly bisected with a nearby axe, and which was regenerating into two new trolls. We fought it/them, and another one and it’s trollhound. But there was nothing much more in that area.

Back the way we came, a crude earthen tunnel lead down. I scouted forward and saw two more trolls in a large chamber. Big ones. I called for backup and disabled one of them with a Hypontic Pattern (I realised later that stealth was almost useless – the trolls have an excellent sense of smell). We engaged. One of us (Rainor, probably) noticed an odd troll-shaped rock in a chamber off to the left. Morgana hexed it with her “sleep” power.

The thing is – trolls take a long time to kill, even if things are going well. From beyond the large chamber we were in appeared another two big trolls, wearing some sort of chieftainly outfit. One of them had two heads. At this, our chances began to look bad. we began to stage a retreat. One of the two new trolls launched a fireball at as (from a necklace) and suddenly things were looking really grim. [Necklace of Fireballs with an 8d6 bead. Ow.]

I think by this stage one of the two original trolls was dead, and the chief cooked the other, but that troll-shaped-rock turned out to be a rock troll and followed our retreat up the corridor. Unlike regular trolls, it was mostly immune to fire. We blocked the corridor as well as we could with Grease – not much, but all we had. Luckilly, the chief and his two-headed offsider elected not to follow us.

[The rock troll and the ettin troll were thrown in by Dave to spice things up a little. If he’d thrown them at us regardless, we would have had some character fatalities.]

All we could do was have His Lordship drop the thing, then I used my Acid Splash cantrip until it stopped regenerating.

Then there was a lull – a bit of a stand-off. I think the two remaining trolls did not wish to fight in the dwarf chambers at the top of the earthen tunnel, as it was a trifle cramped for them. We healed and restored our enchantments (at the cost of several hundred worth of scrolls). We decided to press the attack, as we would only have to return and who knows what they might prepare for us when we did?

I remember little of the final fight. I sent my dancing lights down the tunnel – perhaps a foolish gesture, but I meant it as a signal that the fight was back on. The two trolls were there and we joined combat. Jope swung his fiery halberd, which the two-headed one broke. He continued on with his fists and spiked gauntlet. Rainor shot, Morgana and I used our spells (Flaming Sphere mainly). Eventually we downed one, and then the other, and then with fire and conjured acid we destroyed them.

(Tragically, however, we were not able to do so before Minion – His Lordship’s brave shield-bearer – fell in battle. Although we never spoke despite spending the last two or so years adventuring together, I almost feel like I knew him. Actually, no – he was pretty colourless. But brave. Definitely brave. And dead, now. But there you go. It’s not such a tragedy for humans, because they don’t live all that long anyway.)

We rested for a moment, and then we proceeded to thoroughly loot the entire complex. Honestly, I forget what we turned up. The point is, we have broken the hol of the trolls on the south. Without their chief, they will no longer attack in organised parties. In all likelihood, for the next few years they will mainly spend their time attacking one another, until each individual has a more usual territory.


Regrettably, this bit of storytelling didn’t happen all that well on the night. Dave was keen to deliver the cutscene before the christmas break, but it was nearly midnight and the non-nightowls among us were keen just to get out and go home to bed. It’s bad for the DM when your players bustle about while you are trying to deliver plot; but some people *cough* Andrew *cough* simply don’t function after the clock strikes 23 and that’s the way it is. Meh. Christmas.

We returned to find Fort Tuskwater in chaos! Our town (city?) had been attacked! Larien met us first and gave us the news: an owlbear, twelve foot high at the shoulder, had torn up buildings, killed dozens of townsfolk – rampaged through the town, basically. We have only had the most preliminary of reports. Our cousin was at the fore in the group of archers that pursued it to the edge of town and drove it off.

We are going to have to track it, and slay it.


Level 7! A feat, and my first level of Arcane Trickster. I have taken a Pathfinder trait that gives me +2 CL if I multiclass, so I have the spell list of a 4th-level wizard but am CL 6. No third-level spells, yet, but with a good Int and being a specialist caster, I have enough slots that I am not burning scrolls all the time.

Speaking of which – I have taken to using actual little post-it notes for my scrolls. Much easier to organise than scribbling and crossing-out in pencil.

Oh – and I also get two new spells without having to pay for them. Yay! Acid Arrow is better than Scorching Ray now that I am CL 6 – 6d6 acid over 3 rounds, plus sneak attack. Apart from that … 2nd level spells are pretty much tapped out. I could complete the suite of stat buffs (only Str, Dex, and Int).

In other news: I think I’ve managed to find my own personal way with magic. Nothing that anyone back home would approve of, I think, but I have gotten good with Mage Hand – achieving very fine control.

I intend to study Giantish – I’m pretty sure that some of the inscriptions we’ve been seeing are giantish.

I think I’ll hit the workshop when we have some time and try my hand at creating wands. Some spells I just use over and over, and a wand is far cheaper and more convenient than a stack of scrolls. A wand of Mage Armour will cost me about 325 gold – the equivalent in scrolls twice as much. A wand of Scorching Ray 2250 – that’s about 3750 in scrolls.

Morgana is keen for a wand of Scorching Ray (which she cannot cast) … but frankly I’ve seen her shoot and I don’t think it’s all that good an idea: you have to aim that particular spell. Magic missile will be more the go, but it will cost about 375, 1125, or 1875 depending on how many missiles she wants. Or there’s the New Lore: Hydraulic Push, Flame Breath.

Alternatively, I could do her a wand of Enlarge Person and free her from having to keep it memorised for His Lordship. A wand of Bull’s Strength will cost more, but Rainor gets the benefit from it too via his mighty longbow. Choices, choices.

Regardless: it all costs, and we are short of fluid funds. His Lordship feels that its time we redirected some of the public moneys into personal kit – although to be fair we are amply kitted out in most respects. He’s been putting funds into monuments to himself so as to reduce some of the unrest when we do. We’ll see how that goes down.


Kingmaker

9 December, 2010

To whom it may concern:
Please convey this message to Michael of family Verdant, Kyonin.

Michael,

Just a quick note, as I only have a few seconds. Some people might think it’s a little unwise to sit down and write a note while we are in the middle of a troll lair, but I have never been accused of having wisdom.

As I mentioned, we are hunting down a troll infestation. At the moment, we are in some sort of defense complex built into a hillside – watchtowers, that sort of thing – which our ranger tracked the trolls back to. We have just killed four of them (and another one on the way, so that makes five) and have a moment before the rest of them come pouring through the door.

Trolls will recover from any injury except acid or fire. But we seem to have our tactics worked out: Jope and Rainor drop the trolls, and then Morgana and I destroy them with fire and acid. Although we have just downed four of them, it’s still very dangerous. Anything could yet go wrong.

I am still mainly using that Acid Splash cantrip – it’s effective and I don’t need anything more flashy. [As a player, I enjoy using low-level spells – it’s surprising how useful Levitate, or Rope Trick can be, if you use it right.].

As for everyone else, we took a couple of weeks off before this assault. We attended to kingdom business and did some crafting and shopping. His Lordship imbued Rainor’s bow with magical fire. Moraga purchased a magical campfire – useless as a weapon, but once the trolls are unconcious his lordship simply deposits them into the flames until they roast and die.

A difficulty is that the fire cannot be moved without extinguishing it, and once extinguished it takes a while before it can be used again. But I just had a brainwave: Floating Disk. It lasts ages, and (of course) I have a scroll. We’ll put the magical campfire on the floating disk (You know the spell? A force effect – quite impervious to fire) and just tow it along behind us. There’ll be no stealth, of course, but the alarm is raised, so it’s not an issue.

Enough! We are nowhere near done. Hopefully, I will be able to write more anon.

Seldryn of family Verdant of Kyonin.


Kingmaker

28 November, 2010

How would youngish (50 or so) elven females swear? I don’t know. I’ll just go with “generically”

Michael,

Who in gods’ name decided to let Larien wander off to our kingdom – or dukedom, or whatever the blazes it is – on his own? He’s what – thirty? Barely more than a child, I could name a dozen human peasants older and with more commonsense. I have just discovered that he has spent the past week earning himself free drinks at every bar within ten miles telling tales of my little indiscretions back at Restov. We are trying to run a kingdom, here! People depend on us for their safety and prosperity and here’s an idiot relative of mine undermining it all. I’m absolutely mortified.

In all fairness, it’s been rather an education and I owe father the apology that I didn’t have the experience to give him before. I better understand, now, the effect that my own rather childish and silly behaviour had on other people. I think I’ve discovered why humans are so mature so quickly. It’s not age that makes an adult: it’s responsibility.

But that doesn’t mean Larien is forgiven. I’ve had a chat to him and I don’t think he listened to a word of it. Well this is how it’s to be: the families can exile whoever they wish, but while we welcome trade and settlement by the folk, Freedonia is not a dumping-ground for every fool and/or malcontent south of the river. We’ll round ’em up, put them all on a wagon and ship them all back home if it comes to that. Larien will be first, if he doesn’t shape up, and good riddance.

Having said that, I suppose I should give you the usual rundown of events.


We made camp away from the tower and prepared spells for the morrow. Next day we went straight back to the tower and commenced with plan A. Morgana brought down the force barrier around the silver material, then his lordship began smacking at the runes to damage them physically, and Morgana fired another Dispel Magic. It worked perfectly [some nice rolls] and the sliver liquid started draining out onto the floor – quite a bit of it actually – pooling around the base of the obelisk and tracing out the old runes. After a bit of this, a human (or something) emerged from the stone.

We held off attacking. He stretched and walked about dazed for a moment or two (as you would, I suppose) and began speaking. Some sort of magical or supernatural effect was in play: he was speaking a language that none of us recognised, but we all understood his meaning perfectly. There were some tense moments, but luckily no-one broke and started hostilities. There was a great deal of chat – as far as I can make out, he had been in that stone for a thousand years or so. Grandfather’s time, maybe earlier! It seems he was a disciple of “The Unbroken Way” – a monkish order that traces its origin back to the first gith to rebel against the illithid.

And a great deal of lt;dr besides. Module designers: please stop giving DM’s big indigestible chunks of colour text to read out.

The upshot of it all is that the island was a monastery, and he intends to re-establish it. We are quite happy for him to do so, even in the absence of any explicit treaty or fealty – realistically, if this human really was taught by gith and survived being locked in stone for a thousand years with his sanity intact, then if he wants to build an abbey, an abbey will be built. Anyway: Rainor seems quite taken with him [Brett wants to go Zen Archer]. I suppose we should negotiate some sort of “freedonian law stops here” deal, perhaps designating the mere as a shared fishing zone.

In any case. Having dealt with that, we went back to the work of clearing the worst of the wildlife from the area.


The marshals – the Sootscale kobolds (and my aren’t there a lot of them these days! It’s what happens when you don’t cull them. Not that I’m shapist, or anything.) – had reported troll activity to the west and south. We investigated the site of their most recent battle. A lot of alchemical fire scorchmarks and not a few bodies. We headed south, toll hunting.

On the way, we came to an area of forest suspiciously short of larger game, and with giant lizard tracks here and there. We eventually came to a copse that looked like it might be the lair of this giant lizard. While discussing what to do, we were swooped by a forest dragon.

Well – drake. Still: not to be taken lightly. His lordship engaged it on the ground. I have my bow, but I rely on precision and have to get in fairly close. It was a bit of a melee – the thing came after me at one point. Everyone hacked away at it, but I scored the killing blow with a Scorching Ray.

Kill steal! Crit + sneak attack with a Scorching Ray makes … ooh: one, two, three … 10d6 fire damage. Yow! 35 points of damage, on average, nearly as much as Jope does in a single round!

The drake had one or two items, including a rather threadbare but serviceable hunter’s cloak [Elves of course don’t call ’em “cloaks of elvenkind”], which I have been after for some time. Oh, and there was a reward for the thing’s head. Seems everytime we sally forth, we return with more severed heads. His Lordship thinks that he can turn its hide into some armour.


A little further to the south again, we found some sort of large animal lair. Something needing to be cleaned out before the are could be settled, anyway. I sent down my Dancing Lights and definitely stirred something up. I went in – my belt gives me darkvision and some dwarvish instinct for stone. His Lordship came down as well, and preceded me into a cavern – neatly stepping around a bit that opened at his feet.

Rainor followed, and was first to notice a pair of eyes right behind His Lordship and call the alert. And it was on. I cast Scorching Ray … but completely mixed up the second shaping ward. It backfired badly – I’m still seeing pretty coloured lights.

[Rolled a 1, a 1 to conform the fumble, and a 2. We use GameMastery crit fumble cards. A fumble that bad makes it DM’s choice. 3 wisdom damage, on a character that has a wisdom of 8. Ouch. We don’t have any Lesser Restoration or opportunity for bed rest.]

Anyway. The fight proceeded regardless, and despite everything I managed to get in the killing shot with the bow. [Two kill-steals in one session! W00T!] Turned out the thing was a mutated crocidlyid. Nasty. No loot to speak of.


Well, after wandering about for days we finally found a couple of trolls. They very nearly got the drop on us, but I think we saw them first. Unfortunately, they attacked from the rear. Instead of doing the sensible thing and running behind the fighters, I cast blur. I was promptly attacked and grappled. I cast grease to escape – drawing on the family magic – and got away, although the thing swiped me as I got out of range. Damned near knocked me unconscious [1 hp].

Switch’s bonded item is a family signet ring. As she is currently disgraced, she wears the stone reversed. Under pathfinder rules, your bonded item once per day allows you to cast any one spell you know without preparing it. The flexibility this gives has been crucial on a number of occasions.

While this was happening, my comrades had done a great deal of damage to these two things and knocked them unconcious, but they just kept regenerating. I had prepared the Acid Splash cantrip, as it is one of the few spells I know that will damage a troll. I found that even though it’s a small amount of damage, by placing the shot I could get good results. Eventually Morgana and her Flaming Sphere and I with my Acid Splash – with of course Rainor and His Lordship keeping the trolls disabled – managed to dispatch these two trolls.

I prepared Acid Splash because I knew we were after trolls. t was at the table that I realised that it was ranged touch, and so Switch would do sneak attack damage. Dave clarified that yes, if you sneak attack with energy damage then the damage type is the same as that of the attack. So Morgana is doing 5d6 fire (2nd level spell) and Switch 2-and-a-half d6 acid per round with a cantrip. Switch could have done a flaming sphere as well, but I wanted to keep something in reserve. As per last week – this character is starting to come together. 3 kills out of four, if you include the kill-steals 🙂 .

So, we eventually defeated two trolls which we believe are not as big as the troublesome ones. It’s a great worry how difficult it was to do. We are going to have to rethink tactics. I would love a wand of scorching ray. A wand of Flame Arrow would be good too – the spell is beyond my abilities at present – but it would cost thousands.

Anyway.

With fondness, as always,
Your sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


Kingmaker

24 November, 2010

Brett is back with us this week, and we were able to proceed with some more storyline

We had some discussion as to what to do next. We decided that it would be best to deal with the lizardmen encamped around the lake to our south, and then perhaps to investigate that tower in the centre of the lake – the subject of Rainor’s vision quest.

So we set off to the encampment. We were ambushed by some lizardmen sentries and took one as prisoner (glossing over a number of unpleasant details), and he told us – well – everything we needed to know, really. The lizardman village was on an island in the swamp, surrounded by a palisade. We considered options, and eventually decided to use my extremely precious scroll of Fly (I had not been able to transcribe it into my spellbook, yet – it was a little beyond me). We would enlarge His Lordship, cast Fly on him, and he and the witch would carry everyone over the defenses.

Well, a Fly spell does not a skilled flyer make. We landed roughly, but all together and in one piece. “Take us to our leader!”, said His Lordship – in very bad draconic – and the leader came out. And ordered his warriors: “Kill them!”.

Well, that took care of a number of moral ambiguities that I had been a trifle uncomfortable about. The chief was a giant, and beat up His Lordship rather badly. He would have shrugged off Morgana’s blindness spell, and so I Glitterdusted him. It took two goes.

In retrospect, our tactics were wrong. Rainor was focussing on the Lizardmen mobbing him, and I was shooting at the now-blind chief. But even blinded, I couldn’t get through his armour. What we ought to have done is have Rainor ignoring the Lizardmen around him – I should have gone in with my rapier or just shot them – and concentrate on the chief. Worked more as a team.

We won anyway. The warriors having been defeated, the rest of the village took flight. Except for Timmy.

I should explain. Two years ago, before this whole “Kingdom” business, there was a poster up at Olegs, offering a reward for anyone who could find a lost boy named Timmy. Well, we – we never really got around to it, you know? And gave him up for dead.

Well, Timmy was in the crocodile pit – by which I mean minding the crocodiles. We captured him and have returned him to his parents, who were surprisingly good about it. Everyone seems very happy that we “rescued” the boy, except perhaps the boy himself. Frankly, I don’t think it will end well. It might be a wise move to see if we can attach him to the sootscales – he could become an amazing ally, or a real problem.

Oh well. On to the tower, which we have left alone for too long.


The lizardman chief had some sort of fey or elemental with him that shot lightning. When he died, that elemental shot off towards the tower. Forewarned, Rainor and I prepared as many Resist Energy spells as we could. Five between us – enough for everyone. Rainor’s spells would not last as long as mine, but I had prepared a few scrolls a while ago and still had them, so we were set. I gave one scroll to Rainor and two to Morgana.

We landed on the island midmorning. Apart from the tower itself, there were some ruined outbuildings – just outlines on the ground. We approached the tower with all caution, but there was nothing happening.

The building itself was some sort of structure extending into the sky surrounded at the base by a two-level building, with a broad stone walkway/steps leading up.

Inside was really quite extraordinary. A stone obelisk of some sort. Mainly grey-white, but blackened towards the tip as if it had been burned. There were several layers of writing – the inside of the walls, engraved into a circle around the base of the obelisk, and a band of writing on the obelisk itself.

The band of writing on the obelisk itself was most curious – an etched inscription al done in one continuous stroke, along which some sort of silvery liquid flowed. The whole was encased in some sort of force effect or other protective – we could not touch it.

The band of writing engraved into the floor had been defaced, and what was written on the walls appeared to be graffiti. None of us could read any of it, although the writing on the floor seemed to be lawful in nature, and that on the obelisk itself chaotic. The magic auras were abjuration and conjuration – an odd mix. But we could make nothing more of any of it.

Investigating the floor below this – viewing platform, I suppose – we found braces and structural supports that could possibly be damaged.

We decided to wait until midnight. Our Resist Energy spells would run out, of course, but I could meditate and prepare them again before then, sometime near the end of first watch. We made camp outside.



I’m really quite pleased about the role my character played here. The trick to playing a wizard is that you must scribe scrolls. You have a lot of variety, but not many slots. A spell that you know but cannot cast when you need it is pointless. The solution is scrolls and wands. It’s expensive … but then again, you are not spending cash on armour and weapons like a fighter has to.

My favourite moment of play is “Oh – I got a spell for that”. I don’t mind that my character is a “mechanic”, is one spell level behind and somewhat dependent on items. She scribed the scrolls herself, after all, and low-level spells can be very, very handy in surprising ways. It’s correct for a rogue to be a “bag ‘o tricks” character. Morgan likes being artillery, so it all works out nicely.

In short – the character is starting to work. This could very easily have resulted in deaths without my character preparing those three scrolls.

Wish there was a way to scribe scrolls more cheaply but meh: we can’t allow wizards to have infinite spells, any more than we can hand out 2nd-ed vorpal weapons. I will start crafting wands, definitely – Resist Energy is a case in point. Our party of five will burn through five castings – seven if we do the animal companions. Wands are a must-have for spells that you need lots of, for one-per-person buffs. Morgana can take Craft Wondrous Item. It’s a pre-req for Craft Construct, which Morgan is inexplicably keen on.

At dusk, things started happening. The obelisk became active, and two of those lightning motes appeared. They attacked. Those three scrolls came in very, very handy. I can just manage to cast a spell without preparing it (bonded item), and so I protected His Lordship. Mogana gave her scrolls to Rainor (Protection from Energy is a little foreign to her, and she decided to to risk miscasting it), and Rainor protected everyone else except His Lordship’s shieldbearer, whom we advised to get down.

With that protection, the motes were only a nuisance – except for the sheildbearer, who was fried terribly. We burned 225gp worth of scrolls, and worth every penny. We couldn’t hit these things – they were just too fast. I didn’t even bother. I went into the building to see the obelisk for myself.

It was – quite extraordinary. Pulsing and carrying on. I really, really couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Morgana joined me, and eventually we puzzled it out. The stone trapped some sort of entity, which was being used to open a portal to the negative material plane. To deal with it, we had to deal with that band of writing around it – but it was protected by that force effect, and we had no way to deal with it.

So we ran outside, and told everyone to run for it. After we got a way from the tower, the motes stopped pursuing us.

In retrospect, it’s somewhat clearer now. The writing around the base of the monolith was from the same time as the thing itself. At some time in the past it was attacked, burned, and bound by a chaotic enemy. Hence the graffiti, the defacement of the original writing, and the bindings. There is still something there, and it is being bound to summon these motes and who knows what else.

It’s a simple matter to deal with freeing the thing. Morgana can prepare a Dispel Magic (it’s a little beyond me at present). That will dampen the force long enough for us to physically chisel and damage that inscription around which the silver liquid flows. Maybe simply blocking the flow for a few moments will be enough. But should we? Is the power in the stone being forced to bring forward creatures from the negative material plane, or is it being kept from doing so?

Option two is to damage the foundations of the building, perhaps toppling or breaking the stone.


Kingmaker

15 November, 2010

Michael,

Well, Rainor is lucky to be alive. Really. Even with the aid of magic, it will take him a week or two to recover from the blood loss. I mean, the rest of us are all luckyy to be alive, too. I escaped without a scratch – but only because the fighters were up front taking the brunt of it all. Rainor’s wolf companion saved the lot of us.

We have started to explore the south, a rather more dangerous area than the areas we have pacified already. Last week, we found an old-style fort. One of ours. You know the ones? Central tower, and a smaller tower at each point of the compass? A relic of grander days. If we proceed with this idea of one city each, perhaps I might claim dibbs on it.

Of course, we had to investigate and clear it. Pretty much straight away we were attacked – they almost cut His Lordship in two by dropping the old portcullis on him, he just managed to dodge aside – winding up alone on the inside of the keep. I used one of my new spells “Expeditious excavation” to dig out some of the dirt under it so we could get inside and join him.

We were being attacked by some sort of elemental or fey – fey, I think – moving too fast to easily be seen. Some of us attempted to engage it, although Morgana was the one who finally downed it with a sleep spell of some kind.

In the inner tower, his lordship found a trap on the stairs, and called me to disable it. I got caught by it – a spray of narcotic perfume, an attack designed to weaken the will. But I managed to spike the thing after a bit.

Meanwhile, everyone was investigating the other towers. One was full of rats, and Morgana dealt with that with a fireball – I know that much. Noisy. Two of the others I am not so certain about.

The fourth tower was home to [the elvish name for] an assassin vine, and there was something else in there as well. Morgana and I used Flaming Spheres on the vine (which allow you to attack without getting to close), His Lordship used his morning star, and Rainor shot the thing, and we brought it down. The other thing inside – another fey, think – Morgana blinded.

And that left the inner tower and its now-disabled staircase.

Rainor and I … actually, I think I went up first, then His Lordship’s shieldbearer followed. Upstairs there was a a room and a fey had taken up residence! I was so happy – you know part of the reason I went along with this whole business was to see some of the fey. She began to do this dance thing, and it was entrancing – I couldn’t pull my eyes away. Morgana came upstairs and she reacted similarly.

Then Rainor, all of us just watching the dance. When she started clawing and biting at Rainor’s neck, when the blood began to flow – it all seemed so natural and right. Sensuous and wild and, well, fey. There was some sort of fight downstairs, but finally his lordship came up and began to watch, too. All of us simply entranced while this thing was killing Rainor, and was going to go on to kill each of us, too.

Finally, Rainor lost so much blood that he could no longer stand and he collapsed. [It was doing Con and Str damage. Luckily for us all, Rainor ran out of Str first.]. That broke his trance, and he whistled for his wolf companion. The wolf came up the stairs and attacked the thing, tripping it over. And that broke the trance over the rest of us. Without the ensorcelment of its dance we were a match for it, and killed it – although it still took a bit of doing.

It was a damn near thing. If it wasn’t for the wolf, we would all be just another set of corpses fed to the rats downstairs. We looted the place – a couple of rather nice antiques from the [insert elvish word here] period, I think. And then we came back to the castle to recuperate.

It was a very, very close thing indeed. But, we are still alive and that’s what counts.

Until next I write,
Your sister-in-exile,
Seldrynn.


Kingmaker

7 November, 2010

Oops – skipped a week. I’ll try to remember what happened

Michael,
It’s an absolute whirl of activity – I shouldn’t have left it so long to write to you. We explored almost all of the lands to our north. To the northwest we found this statue of Erastil (or something), and just to the south of that we found a suspicious looking pool with a dead unicorn nearby. No ordinary unicorn, either – I think it was some sort of avatar of the forest. We decided to explore south and east – heading towards Melanae’s grove, and we met this dryad, who asked us to deal with a “Scythe Tree”. We did – a difficult fight, but we managed it.

We went back to the dryad – she was very grateful – and then to Melanae’s grove, but she had already headed off to the castle. We caught up with her there, and she was terribly shocked and distressed. I’d like to know more, but I’m not sure how to ask.

What else? Some settlers came south to set up house in the forest. Melanae insists on having veto on activity in there, but, well – it was a bit beyond our immediate territory. Never mind, though, we have annexed it, and extended Fort Tuskwater. We have also built a cathedral! It looks … a tad lonely, all but itself, but the bishop isn’t complaining. We have built some improvements at Oleg’s – quite the little township.

The money is positively rolling in. I’m a little worried that we haven’t spent a lot on defences, seeing as we know for certain that we have – not to put to fine a point on it – enemies. The kingdom (sorry, barony) is getting a little difficult to manage.

Oh! How could I forget to mention! We had a bit of a problem with a cult of some human goddess who tends to attract certain women – let’s just say it’s the goddess of poisoning your husband. We put a stop to it hard: I pulled everyone off their normal duties and set them to tracking down these people, and we found that they had set up shop in a barn in one of the farms outside the city. We surrounded it with a cordon of Kundal’s finest and went in. Morgana and I Glitterdusted most of them, but the priestess/ringleader was not affected by our spells. Apart from turning all sparkly. But no matter – Rainor had some human bane arrows and she was dead in a trice. The cultists that tried to escape were killed by his Lordship and/or caught by the cordon. (Actually, his lordship tripped a few of the blinded ones). There was this magical book thingy, which Morgana, his Lordship’s shield-bearer, and I dealt with – but it turned out to be nothing of real magical power- it was just for show.

Really, it all went about as well as it could possibly go. The cultists were stealing and sacrificing babies: the whole lot of ’em were executed, but in a open and legal fashion, after a trial with a “jury” (a bit of an innovation, that – His Lordship is very progressive). We didn’t torture people or fiddle about, nothing to distres the commons, it was just a clean, surgical strike. The shrine in the barn had blood everywhere – there was no question of their guilt.

I have decided not to fire Firthak. The man is just so incompetent and stupid that he is absolutely invaluable. People up to no good expect to be spied on, so it makes sense to give them someone to keep an eye on, someone easy to evade.

As for me (how long has it been since I mentioned anything personal!) my studies are not progressing in any orthodox fashion, but rather well in their own way. I am certain that I can combine the things I have learned by simply surviving our various fights with magic. [We leveled up. Switch is now Rog3/Wiz3 and qualifies for Arcane Trickster]. It’s a matter of … well, it’s difficult to describe. But it can be done. With respect to more orthodox matters, I think I will put some effort into learning to construct wands. I’ve been scribing scrolls, but it’s just so expensive! I have been using certain spells over and over, it just makes sense to take the time and money to make a wand.

In any event. Freedonia is, well, beginning to feel like home. I have not forgotten our forest, but for now there is just so much to do!

Your sister,
Seldrynn.