And so it ends

22 September, 2013

Michael,

We are alive. All of us. And Nerissa is dead. Or, at least as dead as she can be. She lived in a separate pocket plane – wheels within wheels. It was the fact that Locate Object could not find Briar that was the main clue. I tripped the portal to her plane within a plane with a correctly keyed visualisation. Happily, we had a group share thoughts effect, so the others were able to follow.

The fight was – well, as tough as you might be able to imagine. 8th level spells, and a pair of shambling mounds tricked out with just about every artifact we had discovered over the past few years. All scattered across the astral plane, now. She was beaten up by the boys – my main contribution was Glitterdusting her so that Rainor could see where to aim (oh – and dealing with a Wall of Force at one point), but once the mounds were dead she abandoned stealth and simply dropped one high-level spell after another on us – I recognised Prismatic Spray, Firestorm, Gruyere our healer was Mazed at one point … I was twice within a fingernail of dying.

But we have prevailed. And Fredonia faces now the harrowing prospect of a few decades of Peace and Prosperity. Perhaps His Majesty will be up to the challenge, perhaps not.

I will remain a season or two, to see the royal heir. Morgana tells me that the queen carries twins. Then I will come home and heal my soul for a while, under th trees, under the stars. Father sent me out about the annuals to grow up a little. If seeing bloodshed makes an elf an adult, then surely I am one now.

After that – I really don’t know. I hope that King Jope’s line continues – perhaps even beyond my lifetime. But our shared destiny is done, now, I feel its ties slipping away.

Expect me home by – oooh, let’s say before two turnings.

I am,
Switch, thief and convict
Countess Verdant, of Fredonia
Once chosen of Zon Kuthon
but always,
Your sister, Seldryn

Goodbye Switch! It will be a melancholy moment when I put you into the shredder! You will always be, for me, proof that Arcane Trickster rocks as a class.

Thanks most of all to Dave, who for just shy of three years has DM’ed above and beyond the call, not just running game but fleshing out each of our characters with backstory and seamlessly and imaginatively integrating those stories into the campaign, inventing whole slabs of module – cloudarc temple, the kobold slaves, and God knows what else because it was so well done that even at the end we didn’t know what was Paizo and what was Dave.

Amazing job.

He wrote a coda for each of our characters.

Switch, it seems, grows bored of the elven court and – after a series of high-profile burglaries, each of which bears the tell-tale evidence that no-one has any clue how they might possibly have been accomplished – shows up at Castle Tuskwater with a bag of holding containing a number and variety of rather powerful magic items. Many which she herself crafted … but some which she almost certainly didn’t. She shows up just in time to either assist her old comrades explore (ie: annexe) parts of the feywild, or to deal with some rather nasty developments happening up north in Brevoy. Epic-level stuff.

But, as Michael Ende said – that’s another tale, and will be told another time.

Next post will be Andrew’s campaign, running the rebooted “Rise of the Runelords”.


Kingmaker

29 July, 2013

Goodness, I haven’t made a diary entry in ages. And so much to write about!

We get the impression, from Briar, that Nerissa has some few main underlings and that killing them might be a good idea. So instead of simply heading to where we think her castle is, we are taking side trips, and periodically returning to prime for much-needed recuperation.

We took down the enormous crow (or whatever it was) that seemed to be linked to the dreams that had been besetting our people. It was shrouded in shadows and hard to hit – I burned a Limited Wish and a 1500gp diamond to duplicate the effect of a Farie Fire spell, after which it was easy meat for his majesty.

We were attacked by frost giants in a frozen graveyard – one of them being particularly enormous and four-armed. It was a straight-up fight, that one: I didn’t get involved.

We visited some sort of iron beehive thing, and were attacked by trolls. One particularly big one had a necklace made of soul cages, which we had enountered before – any harm done to the wearer is transferred to the pixies trapped within. While Jope and Rainor dealt with the other trolls, Kalos fumbled about, attempting to get the necklace off the troll with his lance. Not the right tool for the job. Happily, Gruyere cast a spell on it, forbidding it to attack, and it retreated indoors. I asked Kalos to kindly bugger off and Dimension Doored inside its home – chasing it about until I could grab the necklace, then Dimension Doored out again and freed the pixies. Always prepare two castings of Dimension Door – one to get you into trouble, and one to get you out again.

Switch used an improved invis and a expeditious retreat to chase the thing, and Arcane Trickster “Ranged Legerdemain” to swipe the MacGuffin. DM handwaved the chase.

And while I was busy doing that, the boys beat it up, and we stacked the trolls outside and set fire to them. [We just assumed this – didn’t actually do the “making sure they were actually dead” bit IIRC.]

At which point, we headed to the big tower thing that we had been leaving till last. As we suspected, it was the same as the tower that appeared breifly on out plane, disgorging an army of fey. On this plane, it is surrounded by statues of fey – all broken. We surmise that each statue is one of the fey that came to our plane and was killed.

Rainor heard deep, very slow breathing within, and we surmised “dragon” – the great blue dragon that we had seen earlier. So we cast protections from lighning and his majesty insisted on attacking through the air, from the top. I thought that was a bit pointless, but it turns out that it was the right thing to do.

Inside the tower was an enormous pile of treasure, moving as the dragon beneath it breathed. I blatted it with my most powerful offensive spell and we were attacked. From above. With acid.

Damn.

Still haven’t surprised anything and used the Arcane Trickster “surprise spell” class ability.

Completely fooled. It was invisible, and completely the wrong colour. The attack popped the Phantom Steeds that Gruyere and I were using, and the acid formed a pool at the base of the tower into which we were dropping. I cast Feather Fall and was lucky enough to fall on the pile of treasure. I spent ages casting Fly, and when I finally attacked it with a Disintegrate it dodged the blow. Double damn.

Next thing I know, I was on the floor with Kalos was applying a paste – Stone Salve. I had been petrified. Another few precious seconds to cast See Invisible and Glitterdust, and then I flew up to give Gruyere a Resist Energy. The damn dragon nearly got me.

Switch failed her reflex save by one point, was out of action points, and should be seriously dead. But we are at the “Fuck it, let’s finish this campaign” stage.

And no-one wants Zack Jackson back.

I finally dropped a Greater Dispel Magic into it, targetting any See Invisible or True Sight spells it might have. Now I was ready to lay down some hurt! But Rainor, who had been calmly firing arrow after dragon-bane arrow into the thing got his final shot and felled it. Deservedly so, and it’s unbecoming to be grumpy about it I suppose.

The dragon was rocking See Invisible, Mage Armour and Fire Resistance, and a few other things. The greater dispel took down those three, and I totally would have gotten the kill. Then again, Andrew was playing Rainor and missed a whole swag of damage that Rainor would have been doing. The fight would not have gone on for as long as it did had Brett been at the table. Get well soon, bro!

So. A dead dragon – an elder black dragon, in fact. We took its head for the trophy room (Naturally. Perhaps His Majesty might like to make it into a throne? Or a towel rack for the turtle-shell bath?) and then we fell to sorting through its hoard. Quite a bit of copper and silver – the acid not doing that any good whatsoever. I suggested that if Gruyere could Create Water, we could flush the worst of it away. There were sundry bits and pieces, plenty of diamonds (I shall Shatter some at next opportunity – I am fresh out of dust for Stoneskin).

Second-cheesiest spell in the book: Stoneskin (communal). We have gone through 5000gp worth of diamond dust so far at 100gp per recipient. Totally worth it. Cheesiest is now Greater Forbid Action.

There was an Apparatus of The Crab under all that coin. I’m fairly sure that that’s what the dragon had placed his illusion on, to make us think that he was beneath it all. An enchanted starknife, which I have claimed, a gem of seeing, a Manual of Bodily Health (for Kalos, whose companions keep getting confused and using him as a practice dummy), Cloak of the Bat (for Jope, I think, who often needs to fly at things to beat them up), some armour, a pair of (very powerful) bracers of armour, and – Sweet Desna! Oh my god! A Rod of Quicken Spell, and not just any, but a Greater Rod of Quicken Spell! There’s not a mage on Golarion but would seriously consider selling their soul for such! Never in my wildest – well, actually, several times in my wildest dreams. But now – how many of these can there be in the whole world?

As I mentioned, nominated “rods” for my special prize and rolled 100. Un-freaking-believable. I might go wizard instead of rogue for my next (and probably final) level, now that I can get off those high-level spells.

We rode the Apparatus of the Crab back to the portal to prime, and I’m sure the royal navy will welcome the addition to their amphibious division. I might add some illusions to it, when we have leisure to do so, and King Jope – master armourer that he is – has some ideas too.

After passing through the portal, we found that several days had passed, and the dreams had ceased as we had hoped they would with the death of the giant raven in the other world. Nerissa knows that we are coming for her, Briar in hand. I think the people need to see their victorious king, dragon-head in tow. We oughn’t dally, but I think we need some time off. There’s a spell: Forcecage, which I have been working on, and we have more than enough ruby from the dragon hoard for a few castings.

And, if we succeed, after that? I don’t know. Perhaps I should return home, or at least visit. I cannot stay with the annuals forever, as some of us have. But it says a great deal that I can think of a future beyond this war.


Random treasure

29 July, 2013

So anyway, we killed a dragon. An elder black dragon, if you please. I should write it up, but there was a lot of fumbling around. Got turned to stone, at one point.

Anyway. Dave the DM looks at the loot in the module and says “Pfft! Call this a dragon hoard? Ok, guys: weapons, armour, rings, rods, staffs or wondrous items. Pick one each, roll percentile.”

I picked “rods”. Hey – I could get lucky!

Rolled 100.

Greater metamagic rod of quicken.

OMFG.

Has Desna forgiven Switch, yet? I don’t know. But things have definitely gotten cheesier.


Well, that was bit of a worry!

1 July, 2013

Limited time this week, so we got straight down to business. “Sorry for throwing one combat after another at you guys”, said Dave afterward. Like that’s a bad thing.

We headed “north” from the fungus patch to a lake, where Zutteger reported that the “big bird” was attacked by an Owlbear. Rainor and Rainen ascended to rcon, and sure enough were attacked – by two of them. I cast Fly on His Majesty then used Phantasmal Web, but it really seemed to have little effect on proceedings. A third one attacked, getting Kalos in its claws. Another Phantasmal Web was as useful as the first. Finally I used a scroll of Fly, but by the time I was close enough the others had taken care of things.

We decided to head north up the river, shortcutting our way to Nerissas’s home. After a bit the Fly started to run out, and so I did Phantom Steeds all around. But after a bit, we realised that we had been turned around – the magic of the plane sending us “south”. Suspiciously, we were following Zutteger’s footsteps and sure enough the river froze and we wound up on top of a frozen waterfall, overlooking a graveyard.

Endure Elements all around (from the first wand I ever made!) and we made camp on the frozen river. I covered the area with four overlapping Alarm spells (from another wand) and we set watch.

Before midnight, the alarms went off and we were blasted with an enormous fire evocation of some sort. Then these crystaline insect things came up out of the ice. I used Shadow Conjuration to create the effect of Acid Fog, but it did little but get in the way of eveyone else. A Fireball, converted to lightning worked rather better. Off in the distance we saw movement in the trees – we were about to be attacked by more plants. Remembering the lightning treants, I finished off the last swarm of crystal ants with a Lightning Bolt, as the spell was useless againast trees. Four or five treants came out of the woods – not those lightning treants, thank the gods – and attacked. I used my bond to cast Contagious Flame. It was not as effective as I had hoped – the flame does not echo if the creature it hit dies, and of the four I hit, three were dead in seconds. Further, I cannot aim the echo rays as well as I can when I fire them myself – they are not as precise.

Eventually, we took down the treants with ordinary Scorching Rays and the old standby: hitting them with oddly shaped lumps of metal until they stopped moving.

A great deal else happened, of course. Healing, charging, flying about, shooting things with arrows. But I am concerned that if we can’t get a full night’s rest somehow, we will not be able to succeeed. Additionally, each hour in here is a day outside. Even if we succeed, we may find that we have no kingdom to return to.

On the other hand: what of it? The humans will endure, in their own way, and stopping these Fey from establishing a major foothold on prime is far, far more important than preserving a kingdom all of five years old.

If I can get some damn rest, I will see if I can organise a Rope Trick or better for tomorrow, although it may be impossible to create an extradimensional pocket here.

We must not fail.


Kingmaker. Take 2

24 June, 2013

Exiting the portal, we discovered that three days had elapsed. This is good news and bad news. Bad, because each day that passes on prime is another night of nightmares, chipping away at the resolve of our subjects.

Good, because it means the en of the month comes around again, and we can kingdom-build and loot the treasury.

After a day to recuperate, to grab Zutteger’s Picnic, and to take in tow Jope’s new cohort – a healer named Gruyere, we reentered the portal.

This time, we faces the treants fully buffed up – protection from lightning, resist elements, stoneskin, the works. And there were only three of them. Not only did we take them down handily, but Kalos (who rolled a 1 on his perception) completely demolished a regular tree. With a lance.

Way to go, Kalos.

The map indicated that ahead of us was a path leading to a mushroom garden. With our superlative knowledge of dungeons, we were aware that mushrooms tend to give off poison spores. Gruyere gave us all a Delay Poison. Inside a wall – which Switch blocked off with a Wall of Stone, a host of little mandrake men assembled themselves into a gargantuan Mandragora. It attacked Rainor, who was standing on the wall, and then sort of poured over the top – a Cloudkill (via Shadow Conjuration) having no effect on it.

Now, Jope had thought it would be a good idea to cast a Silence. Switch didn’t like the idea, because it interferes with spellcasting. When, oh when will the party learn that she has a dreadful grasp of tactics? The Mandragora released a scream that nauseated everyone in range, and nausea pretty much disables a character. The next few rounds saw the nauseated characters running away, unable to do anything, while the Mandragora pummelled team shiny at will.

Eventually the nausea wore off, and His Majesty strode in and trashed the thing.

Oh, and Gruyere gave everyone a Neutralize Poison. Wise move, because more than half of us were hit by its natural attacks, which would have caused confusion when the delay poison wore off.

Jope clubbed the impromptu door open, and inside the garden was a wide path of dead fungi left by the shadow cloudkill.

So. It took us about four hours to get here. Four days of outside time. I say we move forward to the next spot on our map (the tower?), take our bearings, then teleport back to the entrance of the realm and do some kingdom building. With so many citizens succumbing to nightmares, we are going to need a whole bunch of new statues.


Kingmaker

18 June, 2013

Just briefly:

We went through the portal to Nerissa’s demiplane. Found Zutteger’s footprints and followed. Encountered some pixies, which we frightened off, and five lightning treants which creamed us. We did manage to take down two, but had to flee back to the portal which (thankfully) opened to let us through.

Jope will now be on his sixth cohort, who will be built as a healbot.

The only high points for me were using a metamagiced Scorching Ray – these things were immune to fire and healed by electricity, but thankfully not immune to sonic – and summoning a Wall of Iron with a Greater Shadow Conjuration. Took the treants one round to punch through, but got the paladin out of there without his having to take AAOs.

It’s a nice comedown from being world-striding 16th-level demigods.


The weekend that was

11 June, 2013

Big weekend. Enormous weekend. Pheno ’13 Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, home game on Sunday, Good Games on Monday. I’m wrecked.

My PFS character got killed. Should have seen it coming – the DM announced that “if you don’t tell me, then it didn’t happen”, mumbled some crucial colour text (which in-game our characters would have been studying for days), and then when we reached the Door of Doom announced that he needed us to repeat exactly the right words – no, the fact that out characters would have made notes of this was not good enough. AKA: “so you walk downstairs with no pants on” DMming (you know, ’cause you didn’t tell me that you were putting on your pants).

Should have turned back then and there. Oh well. Khadem is dead. I think my next character will be a half-orc ranger. Darkvision and a bow.

Home game was big, too. Army battle, then a lesser Jabberwock (which was the toughest thing we had ever faced – confusion is a bitch and any one of our characters can one-round kill any of the others), then we had to recite a magical chant to open the portal to the Other Place. The chant involved something about a “Highway to Hell”, and the DM gave us a handout with the words to recite. Correct method, there.

Monday was way more relaxed. Navigating through a trapped vault, most of which traps were nonlethal. I used a mundane item (Foaming Plaster) which I had purchased on a whim, in-character. Eunice spoke to an angel who, sadly, had to inform her that no – she was not dreaming all this.

And it’s not quite over, yet. Tomorrow I run Quest For Perfection part I. I have run PFS before, but now I am dealing with an organiser for Canberra and I want to perform well as a DM. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and I discovered on the weekend that I don’t know some of the intricacies of the rules as well as I should.

Need to print out some handouts. I loathe reading blocks of colour text.