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.