The Festering Maze of Sloth

JordimandusRise of the Runelords Campaign Journal. Session Date: 17 April 2015. Continued from previous session

After spending several weeks in Magnimar resting and creating new magical gear, all that was left was to resurrect Nanali. The only cleric capable of performing a true resurrection was the high priest of Abadar, who agreed to lower his fee in exchange for a position for one of his clerics in Jorgenfist – bringing banking, religion and civilisation to the Storval Plateau.

Nanali’s resurrection went well, though a faint smell of smoke seemed to follow the shaman even after the spell was complete. She claimed to have spoken to ‘the spirits’ in the time she was dead, and insisted the party return to Runeforge to destroy all its inhabitants. The heroes didn’t need much convincing, and so they returned to Runeforge and entered the wing of sloth.

This wing of Runeforge turned out to be a festering maze of sewer-like tunnels, with an almost-overwhelming stench filling the entire area. The heroes encountered several disgusting demons and other creatures inhabiting these filthy tunnels. During these encounters they discovered that Nanali had learned some fiery new spells as she destroyed enemies with righteous fury.

In the depths of the maze, the heroes found a morbidly obese wizard with a heart of slime and tentacles, apparently being kept alive by noxious vapours from several pipes. He was not alone either, and was aided by four vrocks. Jordimandus used powerful spells against the heroes, and even managed to blind Nu, but once they worked out that his life force was tied to the coloured liquid in the pipes, they were able to cripple him, forcing him to flee elsewhere in the wing. Unfortunately his demonic heart could no longer sustain him without sustenance from his lair, and he was dead before the heroes tracked him down.

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Fiery (NPC) Death

ThundercallerSession Date: Friday 27 March 2015. Continued from previous session

Having survived their encounter with the leader of the warriors of wrath, the heroes healed up and continued their exploration of the Halls of Wrath. They soon discovered a lab featuring numerous sinspawn and a vat of foul-smelling, twitching flesh. There were also about a dozen warriors of wrath in this lab, who were all too happy to have a break from their tedious work.

Although individually weak, the warriors of wrath had numbers on their side. They were tough enough to survive Ciaran’s first two fireballs, after which they reciprocated with their own. Radha and Cecil had no trouble dodging out of the way, but Ciaran and Nanali were not so lucky. Nanali was hit by 8 fireballs, which killed her instantly.

With their healer down. the heroes worked quickly to neutralise the threat before the warriors were able to throw more devastating spells at them. Ciaran eventually paralysed the last remaining warrior before disintegrating him at point-blank range.

With the warriors dispatched, the heroes returned to Athroxis’ chamber where the massive sihedron rune etched onto the ground, and finally figured out that it would absorb teleportation magic. They managed to open a portal to the mountain Rimeskull, in the centre of the circle of statues of the Runelords. From there they decided they had better return to Magnimar to resurrect Nanali – anything less would almost certainly cause a war with Nanali’s tribe.

The heroes also took the time to recover, upgrade their gear, and prepare to return to Runeforge and destroy its few remaining inhabitants. There were still three wings they had not yet investigated, but they were bound to contain evils to vanquish – and riches to claim for their cause.

RotRL Campaign Journal: Golems are Scary

Pathfinder Campaign Journal. Session Date: Friday 21 February 2015. Continued from previous session.

Karzoug-golem1

After surviving their adventures in the Runeforge wing of pride and illusion, the heroes moved onto the halls of wrath – transmutation magic. They didn’t quite expect the magnificent marble entrance hall guarded by a massive iron golem wielding a huge bow which shot arrows of flame. The golem also happened to be standing on a platform 30 feet high, made of smooth – unclimbable – marble.

The golem’s location forced the Nu and Radha to move in close in order to damage the 12-foot-high statue. This opened them up to the golem’s devastating melee attacks, which had both the monk and the ninja seeing stars rather quickly. Fortunately, Radha was prepared for the golem’s tough exterior, and managed to deal a massive amount of damage with her adamantine kukri, bringing down the golem, but not before it set off the alarm which surely alerted the entire wing to their presence.

However, no follow up attacks came, and so the heroes investigated the room the golem had been guarding. They found a red circle and a blue one, carved with ancient runes which seemed to indicate that they were some sort of teleportation circles. Having read in Vraxeris’ journal that the halls of wrath contained a portal that allowed the user to exit Runeforge entirely, the heroes were hesitant to use the circles without knowing where they went.

Eventually they decided to send Ciaran through one of the circles, leaving his familiar Snappy behind to (hopefully) maintain contact with the others. Invisible, Ciaran stepped into the circle, arriving on what seemed to be another level of the halls of wrath. There, several warriors and monsters were waiting – Ciaran dispatched these with a few well-aimed fireballs. He then returned through the portal, remaining invisible to his friends and observing them.

The remaining heroes were unable to interpret Snappy’s communications with them, and assumed Ciaran had been lost through the portal. They decided to head back to the Runeforge pool and attempt to enchant their weapons before following Ciaran into the unknown. At least then they would have something that could help them stand against Karzoug.

Upon activating the magic of the Runeforge pool, however, the statue of Karzoug animated and taunted the heroes, claiming they would never reach his hidden city. The statue then attacked, very nearly making Karzoug’s taunt come true. It was only with the help of the magic of Nu’s newly-enchanted temple sword that they were able to destroy the statue – and some invisible help from Ciaran, who finally decided to reveal himself at the end of the battle.

The Vault of Greed

250px-NalfeshneeAfter dispatching the mithral mage and his apprentices, the heroes moved on to the next room, which was full of golden statues in various combat poses. There was also a nalfeshnee demon present, who promised them “great rewards” in exchange for his freedom.

When the demon realised the heroes weren’t likely to free him – the monk was not fooled by his empty promises – the demon quickly summoned two vrock allies and attacked. Their screeches dazed Cecil, Radha and Ciaran right away, giving the demons the advantage. Their other demonic abilities further put the odds in their favour, but they did not expect the heroes to be protected from evil, and the sheer amount of damage done by Radha’s sneak attacks eventually wore down even the tough nalfeshnee demon. He would never have admitted it, but it was almost a relief to be released from his thousands of years spent guarding this room.

With the demons vanquished, the heroes thought they had probably dealt with the worst that the vault of greed had to offer, but in the next room they found a strange pool of water, pulsing with raw magical energy. They only realised the danger of the pool when it drained a part of Cecil’s life force (-6 ability drain to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma). After that, they kept their distance as they tried to figure out just what the water was for. Ciaran successfully used mage hand to fill a flask with the water, after destroying a wand of scorching ray.

When they took the flask of water to the central Runeforge pool, it glowed with magic energy, but some components seemed to be missing. Ciaran conjured a magnificent mansion where they could all rest before attempting another wing of the dangerous Runeforge.

Review: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends

PZO9425_500It’s not exactly a new product, but it’s one that I have referred to extensively in my Rise of the Runelords campaign, so I thought I would write a quick review.

As part of the Pathfinder Player Companion line, Varisia, Birthplace of Legends is limited to the 32-page format used by all the products in this line. Nevertheless, it manages to pack quite a bit of content into those few pages.

As a GM, I have found this book extremely useful in preparing NPCs and general flavour for my Varisia-based campaign. Since there is no Campaign Setting book that covers Varisia as a whole (and I don’t really expect there to be one in the future), this is the next best thing to get a good overview of the types of people who live in the region.

The inner front cover provides a map of Shoanti territories, as well as the important totems, domains and oracle mysteries that are relevant to to each of the clans. There are two more pages later on that offer some names, traits and typical roles of the Shoanti people. These are invaluable if you want to play a Shoanti character, or if you want your PCs to interact with the Shoanti people. There are also a couple of pages detailing the native Varisian people, which are similarly useful for populating the region.

There are a couple of new feats and archetypes, with Thunder and Fang feat and the Thundercaller bard archetype really standing out to me as interesting and flavourful options. There is also a quick overview of arcane schools and major religions in Varisia, as well as region-specific equipment.

The two centre pages contain a rather cool-looking stylised map of Varisia. Perhaps the most useful feature of this map is the travel distances between the various towns, information which is handy for PCs and GMs alike. The inside back cover shows Varisian trade routes, and also has a useful distance and travel time table between the major settlements in the region.

The second half of the book briefly details the major settlements of Varisia, giving stats of the settlement, some traits for PCs who want to originate there, and some roles describing local characters. There are four pages at the back of the book listing adventure paths that take place in Varisia, with some traits for each, plus a brief player’s guide for the Shattered Star adventure path. These pages are a bit strange, and seem at first like advertising, but they are actually mostly made up of campaign-specific traits, so they make sense in a player companion for the region.

This book also looks good, with great cover art and some really nice interior pieces. I recommend Varisia, Birthplace of Legends for anyone spending significant time in the region.

Worm Attack!

undead_worm_by_michalivanSession Date: 11 December 2014 (final session for the year). Continued from previous session. This was a relatively short session focusing on tying up loose ends and ending off before the holidays.

After defeating the white dragon and his minions, the heroes gathered his hoard (and several trophies from the dragon himself) and returned to Magnimar to equip, sell and purchase materials to craft new magic items. With these in hand, they returned to their stronghold at Jorgenfist, where work was already underway on building dwellings for its new inhabitants.

In addition to crafting new equipment for the party, Ciaran was also working on a secret project – a simulacrum who would act as ruler of Jorgenfist while the party was away. Cecil and Nu decided they would take up leadership roles related to security and defense, while Radha knew immediately that the role of spymaster would suit her perfectly. Mayor Grobaras sent one of his clerks, Gellius Krupt, to keep an eye on his new outpost.

Before the heroes could commission any new projects, however, they were informed that a huge worm had killed several miners. Naturally they hurried to defeat the beast and get the mining operation back on track. Though the worm was indeed massive and terrifying, the heroes found strength in the defense of their own holdings, and the poor beast didn’t stand a chance.

With the mines cleared out, Ciaran instructed Harsk, the mine foreman, to increase the mining operations, and used his magic to locate several more rich veins of minerals that could be extracted. They also commissioned a new smithy to be built in their fledgling village. Soon they would be ready to head to Runeforge with confidence that their kingdom would be all right in their absence.

Journey to Runeforge

Sins_of_the_Saviors_cover_detail

Rise of the Runelords Campaign Journal. Continued from previous entry. Session date: 5 December 2014.

After realising that the Scribbler had left vital clues to the location of Runeforge in his strange poem, the heroes sought out the local map maker. Here they discovered that the ‘steaming mirror’ was likely Lake Stormunder in northern Varisia. This lake was located beneath the famous Rimeskull mountain, so named for the intimidating face carved into it. Armed with this information, Ciaran teleported the group (some of them safely inside bags of holding) to the mountain.

The heroes were somewhat unprepared for the blizzard they teleported into the middle of, and they were even less prepared for the altitude of 16,000 feet where breathing was difficult at best. The heroes hastily made use of the other spells available to them – a combination of feather fall and dimension door – to reach the relative safety of the ground. Were it not for the hot springs, the group could well have frozen to death right there.

After a dip in Lake Stormunder, the heroes donned appropriate winter attire and started to look for anything that might lead them to Runeforge. A hill at the base of Mount Rimeskull featured several standing stones. Upon closer inspection, these turned out to clearly be of Thassilonian origin, each stone bearing the face of one of the seven Runelords. Ciaran quickly deduced that each stone would therefore be linked to a certain school of magic. He cast a spell near one of the stones, which was absorbed by the stone, causing it to glow and the ground to shake, revealing a key in the stone head’s mouth. All was quiet after that, except for the howl of the wind, and something that sounded awfully like the howl of a wolf on the wind.

It wasn’t until they had activated all seven stones and claimed the seven keys that they realised they were being watched. A huge white dragon swooped down from a cave above and snatched Nova up in its claws, dropping her from a dizzy height. Ciaran used his familiar, Snappy, to cast feather fall on Nova, allowing her to float down safely. The dragon swooped down on the group and breathed its icy breath onto them before wheeling away and disappearing into the blizzard.

The group hurried up the stairs that led up to a nearby cave, and were dismayed to find that the dragon would probably fit comfortably through the entrance. Nevertheless, they hurried on, hoping to find either the entrance to Runeforge or the dragon’s hoard. They found themselves in a long icy tunnel, fortunately finding a safe, if slow, route down into the chasm ahead. At the bottom of the seemingly-endless cavern were seven stones surrounding an eighth one. Each of the seven stones bore a keyhole that seemed to fit the keys they had collected from the stone heads.

However, the heroes thought it would be worth their while to investigate the tunnels leading away from the central chamber. They eventually found a chamber large enough to house the dragon and his hoard, though there were a number of smaller sized beds that indicated others lived in the caves too, those these inhabitants, as well as the dragon, were nowhere to be seen.

It wasn’t long until the heroes realised they had walked into an ambush as they were attacked by a number of humanoid wolflike creatures, whose white fur had allowed them to hide almost in plain sight in the icy cavern. These adlets were fast and tough, and the heroes fought long and hard for their victory over them and their dragon master. The reward was well worth it, as the chamber did indeed house the dragon’s substantial hoard.