19 December, 2010


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,


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.


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.


9 December, 2010

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


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.