1 February, 2014

Another nest of evil vanquished, but I fear that this conspiracy is far wider than our limited efforts can bring to heel. Then again – what pride is this? Of course the all-father has many irons in the fire! We are surely but one piece of his plan. All we must do is our whole duty.

Our inquiries in Magnamar led us to a clock-tower, rumoured to be inhabited by some snakelike creature. Entering, we were attacked by a construct stitched together of flesh. We would simply have bypassed it, but it went outside the tower and would have attacked bystanders. I judged that a present danger to the people outside was more important that whatever might or might not be at the top of the tower, and so Bhalek and I engaged it. On discovering that it was impervious to magics, Aeona and Vik ascended the steps on the inside of the tower, Zoran guarding them. (A flashy and distracting fighter, but not without valour).

The fight against the golem was tough, and made tougher by enemies above us dropping the bells of the clock onto us. I do not know what transpired above, saving only that Zoran fell a good hundred foot onto the floor, only his natural grace saving him.

Withal we brought the golem down, and our casters came down from the roof – Vik in her winged form (a creature not of evil, but of pure chaos – I mislike it: such a creature by definition cannot be bound to service forever) carrying Aeona.

We spent a moment healing ourselves, the potion of increased size which I had drunk to fight the golem wore off. Avove, we saw a great winged creature – an illusion (as we later discovered) that the snake thing had created to distract us while it descended to attack.

There is not much to describe, in truth. It was a tough fight. I lost concentration at one point and fell unconscious – revived by Aeona. Finally, the thing chose to run. Sadly, I am not well-suited to running down a fleeing foe. Vik’s eidolon, however, and Bahlek’s bow most certainly are.

We searched for evidence, we uncovered items of value. We found yet another letter leading us on to our next port of call – Turtleback Ferry, which lies in the shadow of Hook Mountain. I confess it will be a relief to get away from these swampy lowlands: the smell of the sea is not to my taste at all.

It concerns me somewhat that at each stage of our investigations we have been led thither by a note or letter left conveniently lying about. Do these people lack the commonsense to destroy their correspondence? Are we deliberately being led by a trail of breadcrumbs, placed by our foes? I hope not. But we have little choice but to proceed. At least – I do not. The motives of by companions are less clear to me, but I thank Torag for them.

The letter indicated that the purpose of the Runelords (or those that imagine they serve them – who knows? The Runelords are figures of myth.) in Magnimar was to harvest the souls of those prone to the vice of greed. And it mentioned that the Lord Mayor was a particular target. When we reported our results to him, I made particular mention of this – that the ancient thassolonian vice of greed made him a target. In truth, each of the ancient vices is a virtue mistaken. Greed is merely the virtue of prudence, of thrift and hard work, the virtue of taking care for the future, to prepare for it and to stockpile the today’s harvest against future’s want taken to extremes and placed above all other considerations. It is good for one who rules to be somewhat greedy, if you will, but he should be greedy on behalf of all his charge, and not forget the many other things also of import.

So I told him. I do not know if he listened, but I said my piece.

We were rewarded and fêted. In truth, we were in receipt of a prodigous amount of money – much of it in the form of credit to be spent in the city (I believe merchants in receipt of these notes can use them to pay tax, at which point the notes are are voided. The implications are stunning – this man has found a way to create gold out of thin air.).

We all purchased useful equipment, I am pleased to say. Aeona and Vik have spent considerable time purchasing ingredients and crafting items of magic. We have lingered here in town for weeks, in truth – but we know of no special timetable on which the runelords are operating. I have alternated between drinking and serving as an auxiliary with the town guard. A number of nasty little fights – I have become rather good at striking a target with the follow-through.

Aeona has enchanted my shield and – at my request – placed an illusion on my armour. To the ordinary eye, my half-ton of stone seems to be a simple suit of decent but somewhat worn leather. Deception is part of war, after all. I am not swift to run about the battlefield like Zoran – I need my enemies to come to me, or at least to stay in range. Stone armour tends to discourage that. I can better defend my companions if I appear easier meat.

Aeona has also greatly strengthened the enchantment on my axe. According to her, [aplologies to Brett for speaking for his character] her enchantments (as I understand them) work by choosing a future when the axe strikes true. Before, there was a slight blurring when I swung the axe, a trick of the eye easy to discount. Now, it is unmistakable – as I swing the axe there are multiple images of its flight through the air. Oh – less than a fingerwidth apart, true, but placing a blow here rather than there by less than a fingerwidth is the difference between a blow that bites and one that glances away.

Vik also gifted me with her time, and wove a belt with the enlargement charm. Now with a word I can battle a giant on more equal terms. A helpful trick if we head into the mountains.

Might also pick up a protective ring – I think I have the gold.

As to Vik’s eidolon – I will write no more today. It continues to be an issue of concern to me.

Lewt! Lewt! Sweet, sweet lewt! The level up to 7 is not as exciting – not a lot of goodies: extra hp, and a feat. Feat is ‘Orc Hewer’: you can cleave foes that are not adjacent to one another if they are your size or smaller. This + the belt ‘o enlarge makes it doable vs giants. Duke Jope was rocking one last campaign, so Andrew can scarcely object. Paid for 20 rounds a day b/c I have 17 rounds of defensive stance. Standard action to activate, which is a bit of a bummer, but very reasonable and takes some of the limburger off it.

After looking through all the possible cheese, I settled on simply upgrading the axe to +3. The extra pluses are always useful, all the time – not just in special circumstances. A +3 weapon also beats DR/cold iron or silver, and we were up against bearded demons earlier.

Upgraded the shield. It’s pretty basic: if you are sword-and-board, then a +1 shield and +1 armour is way cheaper than a +2 on either. There are one or two cool shield enhancements, although I haven/t looked through them yet.

With grateful thanks to Rudyard Kipling, that horrible old racist and snob, who penned this D&D player’s anthem:

If you've ever stole a pheasant-egg be'ind the keeper's back,
 If you've ever snigged the washin' from the line,
If you've ever crammed a gander in your bloomin' 'aversack,
 You will understand this little song o' mine.
But the service rules are 'ard, an' from such we are debarred,
 For the same with English morals does not suit.
    (Cornet:  Toot! toot!)
W'y, they call a man a robber if 'e stuffs 'is marchin' clobber
 With the --
(Chorus)  Loo! loo!  Lulu! lulu!  Loo! loo!  Loot! loot! loot!
               Ow the loot!
               Bloomin' loot!
            That's the thing to make the boys git up an' shoot!
             It's the same with dogs an' men,
             If you'd make 'em come again
            Clap 'em forward with a Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot!
    (ff)  Whoopee!  Tear 'im, puppy!  Loo! loo! Lulu!  Loot! loot! loot!
Now remember when you're 'acking round a gilded Burma god
 That 'is eyes is very often precious stones;
An' if you treat a nigger to a dose o' cleanin'-rod
 'E's like to show you everything 'e owns.
When 'e won't prodooce no more, pour some water on the floor
 Where you 'ear it answer 'ollow to the boot
    (Cornet:  Toot! toot!) --
When the ground begins to sink, shove your baynick down the chink,
 An' you're sure to touch the --
(Chorus)  Loo! loo!  Lulu!   Loot! loot! loot!
               Ow the loot! . . .

Durak becomes useful

19 January, 2014

Rise of the Runlelords SPOILERS!
Had to break the session kinda-sorta in the middle of a fight, Friday night. We haven’t dealt with the BBEG, but Durak was very handy against the mini-boss.

We took down a trio of bearded devils. Durak and Bahlek both failed a fort save, so something unpleasant is coming up.

The casters did some crafting – Durak now has a nice suit of +1 lamellar stone armour, a +1 double-headed dwarven axe, and Boots of Striding and Springing. The armour was enchanted by Aeona, so is covered with runes and designs of horological significance.

I’m becoming concerned that taking the cleave option might not have been the best choice. It’s great for move->hit things->move->hit things, but the stonelord stance means that Durak must be mostly immobile (although there is cheese to counteract that). With Haste, you are getting three attacks per round anyway, two at your top attack bonus, which is as good as cleaving. Great Cleave will give you N hits, but realistically you are never going to get more than two or three in a round.

Oh well. It’s cinematic, and it might work out ok. My plan is still Great Cleave followed by Orc Hewer. We will be up against giants eventually (not that he knows this), and needs to be fighting them enlarged. After Great Cleave at level 7, it would be fun to have a scene involving mowing down a room full of goblins.

Just sayin’.

We eventually wound up at a clock tower. Basically a lighthouse – hollow on the inside. Some fun environmental challenges involving rickety stairs.

The mini-boss on the ground floor was an awakened flesh golem. Our party bypassed it, but then it headed outside – screams of terror. Durak, paladin that he is, decided that an attack on actual people happening right now took priority over what might hypothetically be at the top of the tower. Goddamit. Bahlek stayed below, but everyone else was already heading upstairs. So, team dwarf.

Flesh golems are immune to magic and have DR 5/adamantine. So Durak was the perfect – Stone Strike makes your hits adamantine, and enlarged he is a pretty heavy hitter. He blocked the door, Bahlek behind plinking arrows into it which unhappily didn’t do much thanks to the DR. Worst of all, this thing was rocking a scythe and we are using the paizo critical hit deck. But we had a stroke of luck – it crit fumbled. We are using the crit fumble deck as well, and Durak grabbed the scythe off it – dropping his axe to do so. On his round, he threw the scythe out of reach over his shoulder, picked up his axe (AAO), and kept swinging.

Main problem was that our party was split and our healer had gone up the stairs. I wasn’t keeping track of my HP as I should and was running lower than I realized. Managed to stanch the damage with lay on hands when I realised what was happening, but it was closer than it ought to have been.

Oh – did I mention that it was a clock tower? Bad guys on the rafters above, dropping bells on us. Big bells. There were two fights simultaneously. Up above, Vik (a summoner with an eidolon that can fly) was bull rushing bad guys off the rafters. Splish. Zoran the swashbuckler neatly riposted a blow, and crit fumbled. You see, his practised riposte unfortunately involved a turn and sidestep and with a splendid “Ha ha!” he stepped off the rafter. He also splished, but has a few more hp than the average mook and survived.


Bahlek got the kill steal, but Durak had used a potion of Enlarge Person with no way to dismiss it, and had no way to get up the rickety stairs. Meanwhile, Vik confronted the real BBEG above and was promptly charmed – the BBEG suggested that she fetch Aeona and bring her upstairs for some healing.

However, the last thing that happened prior to this was that Vik had asked Aeona to cast Silence on her. Which, on her turn, she did. So Vik picked up Aeona and flew her up to the BBEG, who could not use her magic thanks to the silence. So it attacked – dispelling the charm/suggestion/whatever, and the two casters came back down to ground level, the BBEG retreating upwards.

(Part of this was that we had Protection from Evil on and the suggestion should not have worked at all. But magic, you know, is tricky and unpredictable.)

And that’s how things stand. We are back on the ground, badly beaten up, there’s something nasty in the top of the tower, and Durak weighs a metric ton and cannot ascend the stairs.

A small miscalculation

13 January, 2014

There is little to tell.

We rode from Sandpoint to Magnamar, fighting off a gang of three trolls on the way. We were a little short of fire – a situation I have somewhat remedied. The trick to dealing with trolls is to keep them down once they go down, but we managed well enough.

Once in Sandpoint, the more stealthy of us went to investigate the residence of the very late Squire (Lord? Sir? Whatever!) Foxglove, and Aeona and I went shopping. Much to see, of course, but we were not offered any difficulty.

Vik, Bahlek and Zoran returned, reporting that the place had been boarded up. They were keen to investigate overnight, but I was adamant that we ought to present our credentials to the local authority and proceed that way. By credentials, I mean that we had requested a letter of introduction from the Sheriff of Sandpoint.

That evening, we listened to gossip. I seems that Mangamar, too, has had a series of ritual murders. How wide does this plot extend?

Next day, introductions made, we visited the Foxglove townhouse, one constable doughnut in tow. We knocked, and the door was answered by … Aldern Foxglove himself! And his wife! What strange doings were afoot here? Both we knew – or thought we knew – to be dead!

They explained the boards on the windows – they were expecting renovations, it seems. An … odd explanation. The well-to-do do not generally oversee tradesmen in person. They invited us into a parlour. Two of us accompanied and – when our group was split – they attacked. My calls that they were under arrest going unheeded, we fought, we being careful to knock them out rather than kill. They did not fight as civilised humans would, forgoing weapons they struck us with their hands with unnatural strength. When they were subdued, our arcanists pronounced that they were very likely not human.

We secured them, and searched the house for evidence.

We found a small cache of documents, detailing that the residence near Sandpoint had been financed mainly by the “brotherhood of seven”, and was to revert to them after a mere hundred years (which I suppose may seem a long time to a human). The parallels were too obvious to miss – the seven points of the Sihedron rune, the letter stating that a “brotherhood” was involved. But all very thin and inconclusive.

We also discovered that the woman Aisha (Aldern’s wife, or rather the someone who seemed to be her) would make periodic payments to be collected at a sawmill at midnight.

We returned to the Magnamar authorities. The “brotherhood of seven” are, it seems, a merchant company. All above-board. Regardless, we requested leave to investigate this sawmill further. During the afternoon, the more bookish of us went to the registry office and investigated, but discovered little of substance.

That night, we visited the sawmill. A large building full of machinery powered by waterwheels. The first two floors held nothing of interest to anyone except perhaps an gnome of engineering bent. We discovered a hidden closet full of some sort of robes and mention of the god of murder and assassination – Norgorber. On ascending the stairs to the top floor, we heard a scream – exactly the kind of scream that would be emitted by someone having a seven-pointed star being carved into his chest.

Bursting into the room, we found it full of perhaps eight or a dozen cultists led by what was plainly a priest. The fight was straightforward – Aeona dropped a Silence spell on the whole area, and without their spellcasting the cultists were easy meat.

And wasn’t there just one very unhappy DM at the table that night? All these guys were equipped with Command, which just doesn’t work in a Silenced zone. Absolutely correct action by Brett, there, when dealing with a roomful of religious cultists (ie: spellcasters).

We had the drop on them, and Zoran simply walked through them to get at the main guy – no AAOs because they were flat-footed. That put him in a nasty spot. As soon as I was able, I moved Durak in to take some of the heat off him. At one point, I used my extremely cheesy interpretation of the rules to have Durak make a 5-foot step, use lay-on-hands to remove his own fatugue, resume his defensive stance (free action) and then make a full-round attack.

Oh, speaking of cheese, I need to have Durak talk about Vik.

The cultists fleeing, including their leader, we ran in pursuit – Vik teleporting down. Which I will write about in a moment. I being slower than the rest, opted to make an opening in the wall by which I was standing and walk through. This proved to be a small miscalculation, as I plummeted down into the river wearing full armour. It took a moment for me to find a pier with handholds, but I managed to drag myself up out of the water before my breath let out. By that time it was all over.

An eventful night. But we have aside from flushing out a nest of these cultists (and let us not make light of that, we have saved one man’s life, at least), we have discovered little but that we are working against a large, organised group, associated in some way with the cult of Norgorber. How this relates to the runelords of ancient Thassilon, I cannot say.

I am most concerned about Vik. One of the two sisters, Vik’s art mainly concerns the summoning of creatures from – well, from wherever such things are summoned. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the red-eyed slavering of these creatures. Clearly Vik, though not evil in herself (yet), is having some sort of truck with the lower planes.

Last night, she summoned a being which she calls her “eidolon” and – for want of a better word – clothed herself with its substance. This being has all the red-eyed, bewinged, fanged ferocity one would would expect of a demon. But despite its appearance there was not the stench of evil coming from it. I simply don’t know what to make of it.

I should speak to her first, I think, before acting. But act I suspect I shall have to do.