Ancient Awakenings - A pogre Story hour with lots of pics (episode eight 1/10/13)


Ancient Awakenings

Campaign Note: This campaign is based on Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. There are numerous spoilers throughout this narrative. One aspect of the hobby I enjoy is creating terrain and painting miniatures – I endeavor to include numerous pictures of these props in the story hour. Directly after I post an episode I will include notes on rules, information on players, etc.

Episode One

“Vermin. Ratlings.” The small group of Rat-folk heard the whispers and murmurs follow them as they made their way through the festival crowd. They even heard the old Dwarven name, skaven, bantered about as they passed through the teeming crowd.

“I thought this was a religious festival,” one of the ratfolk said to another. All three of the sleek-furred adventurers smiled. The ratfolk adventurers were accustomed to facing some level of prejudice in human-dominated towns such as Sandpoint.

The festival at Sandpoint was indeed a religious festival. The Swallowtail Festival would serve a double role this Autumn Equinox, for it would also serve as the moment for the sanctification of a new massive stone temple in the town.

The festival was opened with the usual speeches by the mayor, town sheriff, and head priest. Some noble fop did not show up to give his speech so the local theater owner stepped up and gave the crowd some good laughs. The priest and his acolytes wheeled in a large cart and released thousands of swallowtail butterflies. A free lunch was catered by the local taverns with lots of savory dishes.

The afternoon passed pleasantly enough and as the sun began to set an explosion near the speaking platform. The head priest smiled pleasantly from the platform and looked as though he was about to speak. Everyone relaxed from the initial alarm raised by the loud noise, but just as quickly screams began throughout the area.


A strange sing-song gibbering rose from the edges of the festival. A yelp rose from under a nearby vendor cart as a small, wide-headed humanoid slit the throat of a poor stray dog. Screeches of inhuman delight rose from around the square as small parties of goblins unleashed attacks. Cries of alarm competed with the strange jibbering song, shouted orders from the town guard, and the clash of metal on metal as combat broke out.


The ratfolk adventurers were joined by a half-orc barbarian, a half-elf, a catfolk, and a human female in taking on the goblins. As soon as this intrepid group took down one set of goblins they moved on to another. The goblins seemed to be everywhere. Fortunately, the goblins were easily distracted – they stopped for a bite to eat from vendor carts and banquet tables, gave battle to dogs, horses, and people with equal zeal. Some of the goblins wielded torches and started small fires throughout the area.



A group of town guardsmen fight a group of goblins.

The group finished off the last group of goblins in their area, including one of the singing female goblins. As the adventurers paused to catch their collective breaths a strange calm descended over the area near the temple. The head priest of the temple looked up from helping some of the locals with wounds and walked over to the group.

“Gods bless you all,” the priest called to them. As he neared he asked, “Are any of you hurt?” He quickly cast healing prayers over some of the adventurers. The priest was continuing to praise their collective bravery, but sounds of combat to the north of caught the adventurers' attention.


The adventurers scrambled north and quickly saw a noble fop cornered with his loyal hound by a nasty goblin mounted on a strange looking canine.


The group rushed towards the conflict and were intercepted by another set of goblins. As the adventurers hacked through the goblins they heard a yelp from the guard dog and a cry from the fop.

The goblin was poised to strike at the nearly defenseless fop when the adventurers managed to knock the goblin off his mount.


The ensuing combat was decidedly one-sided as the adventurers hacked the goblin and its mount to pieces. One of the ratfolk quickly went to the beleaguered dog and murmured a healing prayer.

The noble introduced himself to the adventurers as Aldern Foxglove and thanked them profusely for saving him. He informed them he would be in town for a few days and invited them to come see him at the Rusty Dragon where he can properly reward them.


The adventurers began laughing as the goblin raid ended. Their laughter was half-relief and half joy. They finally got around to introducing themselves to each other. The Lady Mayor Deverin approached with a partially torn garb with outstretched arms. “Saviors of Sandpoint! We are indebted to you!” The Lady Mayor warmly embraced each adventurer, even the ratfolk and catfolk.

As the adventurers started walking back through the town they were greeted as heroes everywhere. Their names became known and people called them out by name. They received promises of free drinks, home made pies, meals, and even lodging.
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Short session as most of our time was taken up creating PCs.

This is my first game of Pathfinder. The Anniversary Edition of Rise of the Runelords was what triggered me to run this game. I purchased it this summer along with a bunch of Reaper miniatures to paint up for the campaign.

Normally, I am a bit of a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to D&D 3.5 PC choices. I disallow this and that and constrict choices in general quite a bit. Well, I decided to throw the doors open for this game and allow PCs to run whatever they wanted.

I certainly got an odd racial mix as a result:
3 ratfolk (rogue, cleric, sorcerer)
a catfolk (rogue)
a half-orc (barbarian)
a half-elf (ranger)
ONE human (paladin)
At least the classes were fairly standard....

We have seven players who made PCs and we were missing one possible player. The reason for having so many folks is I fully anticipate people missing a session here and there, and such a large group helps insure that I will always have four players to run each week. The plan is to run almost every week and get through the entire adventure path by the end of next summer.

I like 3.5 D&D quite a bit. I like Ben Durbin's Trailblazer even better. Pathfinder, I am finding, is a cranked to 11 version of 3.5! I am kind of glad I went with an anything goes attitude into this campaign - I think it fits the rules well.

I made numerous rulings on the fly tonight and left it to the players to research the rules and correct me for next time. I hate waiting to figure out a rule during game time - so I'm sure I screwed quite a few things up. I also frequently have two people taking actions in combat with their PCs at the same time. It works fairly well it big groups like this.

I really like the Rise of the Runelords campaign. It looks like a lot of fun. I would ask that readers refrain from posting spoilers about the campaign ahead of the story as I am sure my players will visit this thread to remember what's going on from time-to-time.


Episode Two

“Saviors of Sandpoint! That has a nice ring to it,” the Half-Elf ranger said with a smile.

“A bit excessive,” Aggie, the paladin replied with a shrug.

“The sheriff cometh,” the Ratfolk rogue Bug announced.

Sheriff Hemlock marched straight towards the group with the priest Zantus following in his wake. The Sheriff thanked the group again for their service during the recent goblin raid. Hemlock went on to explain that he would like for the adventurers to accompany him to the Sandpoint Boneyard. The priest Zantus interjected that he found something amiss with the priests' burial vault. Hemlock wanted the group to accompany him to check out the vault.


Skeletons burst forth from the vault!


Skeletons taken care of the party found a robe that had a slight aura of magic and confirmed that the tomb of the town's previous head priest's sarcophagus had had been opened and the remains were stolen! Sheriff Hemlock asked the adventurers to avoid talking about what they had found as the town was shaken enough by the recent goblin raid.


The adventurers received a round of applause as they entered the Rusty Dragon tavern.


The noble fop, Aldern Foxglove, offered them a place at his table.


The owner of the tavern, Ameiko Kajitsu, offered them as much free food and drink as they could consume. Ameiko also insisted that they stay at her tavern for free. Foxglove invited the adventurers on a boar hunt in the Tickwood Forest the following morning, which the group gratefully accepted.


The boar hunt went well and the group and Foxglove were enjoying a feast of pork with many of the other Rusty Dragon regulars. A grumpy old man rudely stomped into the tavern and began screaming and yelling. The owner, Ameiko, came out and confronted him and a loud argument ensued.

The Ratfolk priest, Shagrax, asked a nearby yokel, “Sayeth, who be that loud ancient one?”

The yokel, well toasted by excessive drink and food, answered, “That's Lonjiku, her dad.”


The fight degenerated into a physical confrontation. Ameiko finally banged her dad over the head with a ladle and he stormed out of the tavern.


A couple of days later the adventurers had a meeting with the Sheriff. The Sheriff had not made much progress and discovering who was behind the raid. The Sheriff related the recent history of the town, including the fact a trusted citizen had gone mad and murdered 25 people in one month and the next month there was a massive fire that ruined the north side of town. The murderer was found in his strange abode on an island near the town.

The group resolved to check out the abode of the murderer despite assurances from the Sheriff that the place had been destroyed all those years ago. On their way to the island they were intercepted by a frantic townswoman – she told them she had a goblin loose in her house and her husband was chasing the goblin.

The adventurers rushed in and found the family dog – dead, found the husband – dead, and found the goblin and killed it. They came back in the street and shared the good and bad news with the frantic woman – the goblin was dead, but so was her husband. The woman had a complete meltdown.

“She seemeth exceptionally ungrateful,” Bug commented.

“She just lost her husband!” Aggie replied.

“Truth, but the vengence is complete with the demise of the gobbo,” Shagrax objected.

“I cannot believe you are a priest!” Aggie replied.

The sheriff showed up to investigate the commotion and after the adventurers told Hemlock what happened. He took control of the situation and made arrangements for the woman and her children.

“I knoweth not the nature of these females. Why would she not returned to the now safe den?” Shagrax asked.

Aggie, nearly apoplectic, replied, “Because her husband was just slain in that house!”

The Ratfolk shook their heads in confusion and scurried on.


The trip to the island proved unfruitful and when they returned to town the adventurers were summmoned back to the sheriff's office. When they arrived at the office they met the Elf Ranger, Shalelu Andosana. She gave them a report about goblin activity in the area and a rundown on some of the nastier goblins.


The Sheriff informed the group that Shalelu will continue to explore the surrounding area for clues about the new goblin activity and the party would remain in town to reassure the townsfolk.

Shalelu and the group went to dinner that night at the Rusty Dragon and compared further notes on the local goblin tribes.



The next day a Halfling female in the service of Ameiko comes to the party and tells them her mistress is missing. She gives them a note she has translated. The note was from Ameiko's estranged brother asking her to meet him at the family glassworks. The adventurers agreed to immediately investigate.


The glassworks were very quiet, but smoke still puffed out of the central smokestacks. The curtains were drawn on all of the windows and all of the doors were locked, including the showroom door. Bug was the first notice there were skylights and he quickly scrambled up the building to have a look.

Bug spied numerous goblins capering around the glassworks' furnaces. The goblins appeared to be dancing, singing, and hacking the bodies of workers apart.


Bug scrambled down to report the atrocity to his companions.

The adventurers broke into the factory and confronted the goblins. The goblins began to quickly fall to the groups' blades. Suddenly, a few of the goblins recognized the adventurers as the “longshanks” that had butchered so many of their kind during the town raid.


A trio of the goblins fled the chamber.

The adventurers butchered the rest of the goblins, and led by Shagrax, pursued the escapees.


Shagrax followed the stink of the goblins down some stairs and into a small bedroom. There they confronted a trio of goblins and the half-elf Tsuto.


As the group fought and killed the goblin guardians Tsuto sought to steal past the adventurers.


The Saviors of Sandpoint caught him though and the Half-elf was cut down.


A thorough search of the building led to discovery of:
A semi-obscene journal kept by Tsuto detailing plans and hopes about the destruction of Sandpoint;
Ameiko, bound, gagged, but still alive.
Ameiko's father dead.

The group also now had more questions than answers!


Episode Three

Ancient Awakenings

Episode Three

The adventurers returned to the Rusty Dragon with the rescued Ameiko Kajitsu. There they met with the Ratfolk sorcerer, Fentra, and the Catfolk rogue, Yara. The group decided to rest and recuperate and then return to the tunnel below the glassworks to discover where and what it led to. The next morning they followed the tunnel and it emerged in a cave with a small beach. In the cave, the adventurers found numerous signs of goblin infestation and another tunnel leading away from the cave into the bedrock.


As the group went down the tunnel they came to an intersection and ducked into a small side cavern. They were immediately attacked by a horrible, bipedal beast.


The Half-Elf ranger Fireheart was injured in the melee, but the combat was over rather quickly.


The adventurers realized they just had overcome a sinspawn, an aberration born of raw negative emotion.


“Maybe one should reconnoiter ahead without visible illumination,” Shagrax the Ratfolk priest suggested.

“I shall travel with great stealth ahead of thee to view potential hazards lie ahead,” Bug the Ratfolk rogue said.

“You do that din-din,” Yara said.

“Mayhaps my name escapeth thy cat mind. I am Bug,” Bug said tartly.

“I have decided you need a new nickname. He (pointing at Fentra) is Breakfast, he (pointing at Shagrax, the Ratfolk priest) is Lunch, and you are Dinner,” Yara said with a feline smile.

A low chuckle came from Skulleater, the barbarian.


The adventurers stumbled into a shrine.


Beyond the shrine they found a cathedral-like room. An impish creature appeared before the group and screamed, “How dare you invade the sanctum!”


The wee creature flew over to a large pool and cut her arm to allow blood to drop into the sinister liquid. A sinspawn quickly emerged from the pool.


Skulleater charges!


The combat was a frustrating trial for the adventurers. The female impish creature continually disappeared and reappeared flying around the huge vaulted hall. Skulleater was poisoned by a large spider the imp had summoned, following a pummeling from the sinspawn.


Yara held her shot with her bow until the little, winged demon appeared and then shot her. The creature would disappear for a bit and then reappear.

Finally, as Skulleater was fending off a summoned creature, the creature appeared behind him and stuck him with a dagger. Skulleater roared in pain and spun around with his great axe. Skulleater's ponderous weapon cut deeply into the winged creature. The creature screamed and paled as blood left her fragile frame. Struggling to remain aloft, the small creature disappeared again. The adventurers cleared the chamber of the summoned creatures and left the area unharassed by the winged imp.


The door opened and revealed a circular room dominated by yet another well in the center. As the adventurers came into the chamber a piercing scream echoed through the area. Half the group was paralyzed. A flying skull came floating down from the darkness and attempted to kiss the frozen Fireheart. The remaining unaffected adventurers proceeded to beat the vargouille to a pulp.


The adventurers found two spiral staircases in the complex, one leading up and the other leading down. Both stairways were clogged by rubble and impassable. The group moved on to an interesting room that had a door that opened to a rickety looking wooden platform overlooking a number of prison cells.


The adventurers descended some wooden stairs to inspect the cells. When they reached the floor level of the chamber they were ambushed by a pair of sinspawns.


The melee was a desperate affair requiring numerous healing prayers from Shagrax and teamwork from the group. Fentra, who had exhausted most of his magical reserve, drew his sword and stumbled forward and stabbed the remaining sinspawn. The creature teetered and then fell to the floor dead. An exhausted cheer rose from the group.


The chamber was an unusual shaped room dominated by almost a dozen oubliettes covered by wooden planks. The adventurers quickly discovered each oubliette held a zombie pacing hungrily at the bottom of these small pits. Suddenly, a crazed mutant goblin rushed into the chamber and attacked the adventurers.


The group quickly killed the gobbo and Shagrax destroyed the zombies with positive energy prayers. Fireheart was delighted to find the strange goblin wielded a magical longsword.


The final chamber the group explored was a strange spherical levitation chamber. The barbarian Half-Orc Skulleater bumbled into the room and quickly found himself floating easily above the floor. With a smile, the greenish adventurers gathered up the items floating around and stepped back into the hall. The treasure haul included a strange tome written in Abyssal, a wand of shocking grasp, and a bottle of wine.

Without much debate the group decided to leave the complex. The little witch of an imp would just have to wait for another day. Instead, the group decided they needed to make haste to Thistletop to confront whatever lay there including this person named Nualia mentioned in Tsuto's journal.
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Episode Three Notes

So far so good - everyone is having a good time. Particularly amusing this evening was the catfolk's continual references to the ratfolk adventurers as potential food. At one point she referred to the three of them as emergency rations.

The conflict with the flying, invisible Quasit was pretty frustrating for the group. I think it's designed to be. I was kind of glad they decided she was not worth the trouble and moved on.

I'm certainly getting solid mileage out of the Sinspawn figure! Especially when compared to Tsuto!

The paladin was missing this session because she was away on business. However, I planned on people coming and going on a regular basis. Attendance has been steady thus far.
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Episode Four

The group set-off for Thistletop after learning from Tsuto's journal that the mastermind of the attack of Sandpoint was there. They found the coast covered in a thick layer of nettles, thorns, and briars - many reaching over 20 feet in height. The Ranger, Fireheart, found some narrow tunnels and paths leading through the brushy stuff. The group found numerous signs of goblins and a well-used path that led to a concealed passage deeper into the brush. Following the tunnels of greenery led to a clearing dominated with a large hole.

Inspection of the hole revealed that it was at least 80-feet deep and the sounds of sloshing water could be detected far below. Aggie suggested jumping down. Bug replied, "Yeah, probably right into the maw of a giant Black Pudding."

Skulleater mused half to himself, "Mmmmm, pudding...."

The group chuckled and moved through some more tunnels and found a large group of goblins.


There were almost a dozen goblins in the clearing, but the group made quick work of them.


The adventures also came upon a kennel of goblin dogs and hacked the nasty beasts down in short order.


Further exploration led to unmanned guard outposts overlooking the bluff and shore and ocean below. The group then found a clearing with a nest of sorta and another chamber beyond.


Bug spotted a thrush burst up through the growth into the air above the brambles. Bug reported to the group, "I think somebody just sent out a warning about us."

The group moved to the next chamber and found a goblin shaman with his pet wildcat.


A brutal combat followed, but the Goblin shaman and his wildcat escaped into the undergrowth.

A quick check about the place revealed a lot of bird bones and not much else.

The group finally stumbled onto a rickety rope bridge leading from the shore to an elevated island topped by a wooden structure. Fearlessly (foolishly?) the piled onto the bridge to run across. Naturally, the bridge gave way, but every single adventurer was able to grab onto the remaining rope to avoid tumbling 80-feet down to the surf below. The group resecured the bridge again and made their way across a bit more cautiously the second time.

A wooden gate flanked by high guard towers dominated the shore. As the adventurers approached they were attacked by goblins on dogs below and goblins with archers above.


The goblins took a while to kill and the entire time the group was getting peppered by goblin arrows. The archers were not particularly deadly, but highly annoying nonetheless. The enraged barbarian cleaned up the remaining mounted goblins with his mighty ax swings and burst through the gate into the structure.

Shagrax called for a spiritual hammer and smashed two of the goblin archers. Meanwhile, Fireheart quickly scaled a tree near a tower and surprised the remaining goblin archers by practically jumping atop them.


The Half-Elf ranger quickly killed the remaining archers as the rest of the group made their way into the structure.

In the first room the group was confronted by a half-dozen goblins. Shagrax got in a bit of trouble by running out in front of the group to confront the goblins.


However, by the time Fireheart made it down to them from the tower top the chamber was coated in Gobbo blood.

The group continued to explore the area and found a large open air plaza with four goblin dogs pacing about.


The dogs were killed quickly. An injured horse was discovered in an outbuilding near the plaza. The group debated putting the animal out of its misery, but decided to move on instead.

They found numerous other nasty goblins secreted about the place, including some leader groups. They killed them all. Shagrax insisted on collecting goblin ears on the way just in case someone back in Sandpoint would offer a bounty for them.

With about half of the complex explored the adventurers came across a nasty privy, but in the privy's fall wall they found a concealed door and a sizable amount of treasure beyond.

Skulleater opened another small door and found some stairs leading down. "Let's go down," the barbarian suggested.

"Leaving thy enemy behind to ambush our skins reeks of foolishness. There be numerous places on this story yet unexplored," Shagrax replied.

The group divided in a debate on whether to proceed down or explore the rest of the ground floor they were on. An ominous half-roar. half-moan issued up from the stairs.

"By the gods! What was that?" Fireheart exclaimed.

"Don't blaspheme!" Aggie the paladin retorted.

The strange sound issued forth again slightly louder from the stairs.

The entire group let out collective curses, including Aggie.


Episode Five

The ratmen's arguments won the day and the adventurers agreed to finish exploring the upper story of the structure. The Half-Orc, Skulleater, was placated by promises of more gobbo hacking and he reluctantly left the stairs behind. Their path brought them back to the original foyer and a long hallway with numerous doors.

Skulleater's acquiesence was quickly rewarded as the group stumbled onto the throne room of the goblin chieftan, Ripnugget! Ripnugget was mounted upon a nasty, toothy looking beast. The chieftan was accompanied by a trio of tough-looking gobbo warriors and a goblin War Chanter.


Aggie, the paladin, leapt to the forefront - taking the battle to the goblins. The templar was bushwhacked by the mounted Ripnugget as the goblin chieftan came cruising past her and attacked on the run. The mounted chieftan moved in a continuous charge and moved away before Aggie could even lift her sword against him. Following the chieftan's lead, the goblin warriors soon swarmed Aggie.


Fortunately, Aggie's heavy armor saved her from most of the goblins' cuts and soon her fellow adventurers were cutting their way through the goblin swarm. Skulleater pushed his way through the lesser goblins to take a swipe at Ripnugget and his monstrous mount. The goblins did not last long against the adventurers' onslaught and soon the throne chamber was awash in gobbo blood.

Bug, the ratman rogue, nosed around the area and found a set of keys on the deceased chieftan. Two of the adjoining doors to the chamber led to a bedroom chamber,


and an armory.


Descending the stairs the adventurers discovered an abandoned dining hall.


A door from the dining area led to cavernous areas that were piled up with junk.


Bug was scouting ahead of the group and was grabbed up by some horrid land squid thing. The monster poisoned and incapacitated the ratman and it looked like death was near. Bug was saved by the healing prayers of his fellow ratling, Shagrax. The rest of the party hacked the beast up and Bug was rescued.

The adventurers approached a pair of carved doors with learing demonic faces.


Pushing beyond the doors they discovered an evil temple. As they approached the altar they were attacked by a pair of strange hounds.


The baying of the hounds sent a couple of the adventurers, Bug and Fireheart running. The melee was brutal, but the adventurers overcame the hound guardians.


The chamber they entered appeared to be some sort of planning area. An area map was on the wall and crude plans for an attack of Sand Point were sketched in slate there. The plans made it clear another attack from the goblin tribes was being planned.

An adjoining door led into a room, which was obviously a research chamber of some sort. A beautiful dark-skinned human woman was reading some scrolls intently.
She reassured the adventurers she was just doing some research into an ancient dark cult. She admitted that her studies had led her to the complex and she had convinced the local goblin population that she was a powerful priestess to allow her to continue her studies. Aggie had some doubts about the veracity of her claims. The paladin also insisted that the evil artifacts the woman, named Lyrie, had to be destroyed. A deal was struck where Lyrie would be allowed to study the objects for a couple of hours and then the materials would be destroyed.

Skulleater was particularly annoyed by this agreement and wanted to kill Lyrie immediately.

The group posted guards at the open door and watched as Lyrie continued inspecting the artifacts.


Twenty minutes later, Lyrie suddenly scooped up all of the scrolls and dashed through a secret door in the back of the chamber. Amidst loud scoldings of “I told you so” from Skulleater, the group dashed in pursuit.

Following a chase down some stairs into a lower level of the complex


the adventurers burst into a circular room containing Lyria and a woman they had seen depicted in Tsuto’s journal, Nualia.


The adventurers let out a collective groan as they realized they were facing two hostile spell-casters in a battered and depleted state. Retreat apparently was not a consideration though as they dashed to the attack.

Lyrie immediately cast the always annoying mirror image.


The red-clawed Nualia proved to be a dangerous foe and soon had Fireheart down on the ground bleeding out.



Only a prayer from Shagrax saved the half-elf. Skulleater was being battered by spells from Lyrie and even had his precious battle axe shattered by one of her spells. Nualia kept the group in desperate straits by continued use of negative energy channeling.

Yara dashed into the room to attempt to pull Fireheart’s body out of the fray. Meanwhile, Lyrie disappeared from Skulleater’s view. The half-orc turned his attention on Nualia grabbing up Fireheart’s now unused sword. While Aggie, Bug, Shagrax, and Fentra concentrated on Nualia,


Lyrie suddenly reappeared and attacked Yara. Just as events looked most dire a killing blow was landed on Nualia. Lyrie soon abandoned her attack and braving blows from Yara and Fentra cast another spell via scroll and disappeared.

An inspection of the room revealed that Nualia had left a journal behind. The journal detailed her sad and lonely childhood including some traumatic events in her adolescence. It described her murder of her adoptive father, the late head priest of the temples in Sand Point and her goal of replacing her angelic heritage with a demonic one. Nualia was apparently currently engaged in a search for a demonic beast called a barghest that she hoped would complete her transformation.

The battered group decided to hole up for a long rest and continue their explorations of the lower level after they recovered.


Episode Six
The fight had been an exhausting one. To make matters worse, as the group was initially recovering it was clear Skulleater was in distress. Fearing that the half-orc had been poisoned or contracted some dread disease, the half-orc was sent packing for Sand Point to rest and await the adventurers return. Following a prayerful vigil, rest, and healing the group endeavored to explore the rest of the lower complex of Thistle Top.

The first chamber the adventurers discovered was an L-shaped room. At the far end there was a pair of double doors with ornate skeletons carved on them. Immediately to the group’s left was the top of the “L” which had a large column seemingly made of gold coins. Yara, the catfolk rogue, spent a lot of time in an effort trying to pry loose some of the coins from the column to no avail. Shagrax, the ratfolk priest, after a quick prayer announced the column radiated magic and in his estimation was likely an illusion.


The party proceeded through the ornate double doors and entered a large vaulted crypt.


As they began to explore the chamber they were attacked by a trio of undead shadows.


The shadows were tough to hit and their icy touch began to drain strength from the adventurers. Once the shadows were defeated the group was forced to rest to recover from their lost strength.

Shagrax suggested that the group once again check out the gold coin column. The ratfolk priest held up a sihedron star the group had recovered from Nualia. Shagrax was convinced the action was a bust, but a slight flash on either side of the column caught Bug’s eye. Searching further, Bug discovered a pair of slots on either side of the column – each slot was about the right size to accommodate a coin. Aggie and Shagrax stepped forward and deposited coins in the slots simultaneously. With an ominous grinding and creaking the column moved up and revealed a secret area beyond.


There was a vigorous debate on which of the three doors they should explore first. The room beyond the northernmost door was a throne chamber flanked by statues.


An apparition of some sort was seated on the throne repeating the same phrase over and over again in an ancient tongue. Convinced that some sort of magical glitch had led to the repeating message, the group moved on.

The second door to the west led to a chamber where the group found a large sihedron star. This star proved to be the key to opening the final door. The final chamber was dominated by a pool of fire in the center. Snarling at the adventurers was a horrible demonic beast.


This could be none other than Malfeshnekor, the demon Nualia had been searching the complex for. The fight with the beast was brutal, but fairly quick.


The lower levels of the Thistletop complex were explored:


The wounded and exhausted adventurers were making their way out of the Thistletop fort when they were confronted by a diverse group led by a human. The foes were blocking the exit and consisted of the three goblin warriors, the goblin druid and his wild cat, a huge bugbear, and a human warrior.


The human asked the adventurers if they had defeated Nualia. They admitted they had. There was hurried discussion amongst the foes in goblin. Little did they know – Bug was fluent in the goblin tongue.

The human seemed to be deferring to the bugbear and explaining that he could not rule Thistletop. The bugbear seemed satisfied and agreed to let the group pass. Further exchanges went between the adventurers and the human warrior and accord was reached. The adventurers moved away from the coast and headed back to Sand Point.


The following few weeks were fairly leisurely for the adventurers. They ate, drank, studied, and generally recovered from their exploits. Special order weapons and armor were crafted and new skills learned.

A grim-faced sheriff Hemlock asked the adventurers to come meet with him. As the adventurers took a seat in the sheriff’s office, Hemlock took a deep breath and began to speak, “I want to thank you again for all of your help for Sand Point. My own men are solid folk, but inexperienced. Our community is fortunate indeed to have your aid. I am once again forced to ask for your help, but this time you seem to have a personal stake in this task.”

“You certainly have our attention sheriff,” Aggie replied.

The sheriff nodded and continued, “Last night there were some particularly gruesome murders. A pair of victims was found down at the lumber mill and I have to warn you it is not pretty. Sadly, this is not the first of these kinds of murders. A few days ago a trio of known conmen was slain in a barn just south of town. Their bodyguard survived, but is mad as a hatter. He has been placed in a sanitarium.”

“What makes you think the two incidents are related?” Fireheart asked.

“Let’s just say both murders have very similar signatures. I fear we may be facing a dire situation much like the mass murdering spree of the chopper a few years ago. I certainly do not need the mass panic that those caused the community. I need you to help because of your experience, but just as importantly this was found pinned to one of the victims with a wood splinter.” The sheriff handed a folded piece of parchment over to Aggie, which clearly has her name printed on the outside in dried blood.

Aggie read the note aloud, “You will learn to love me, desire me in time as she did. Give yourself to the pack and it shall all end. Your Lordship”

“It seems that our murderer is someone already known to you,” the sheriff observed. “I have these commissions of deputation into the guard prepared for you. I need this investigation to be kept as quiet as possible and I would like for you to start by heading down to the lumber mill. I need to get that scene cleaned up as quickly as possible.”

“What about the victims in the barn? Can we see them as well?” Fentra asked.

“Yes, they are in cool storage below the guard barracks”, the sheriff assured them. He then went on to ask the adventurers to begin their investigation as soon as possible.


A crowd of gawkers had already gathered around the lumber mill as the adventurers approached. A beleaguered looking guard quickly motioned the group through to the lumber mill. The scene was every bit as gruesome as Hemlock had warned them. A female had been sliced to pieces by the water-powered log splitter. The remnants of a male were hanging from some metal hooks on the wall. The males face had been peeled off and his lower jaw was missing. A huge seven-pointed star, the Sihedron symbol, was carved in his chest.

Closer inspection of the body revealed several finger-sized claw marks and some faint bloody unshod footprints were found. There was a decidedly rotten flesh smell around the footprints and the claw marks on the victim. Using his superior nasal capacities, Shagrax, trailed the smell and footprints out to the docks overlooking the river. A search was then conducted of the river’s far bank and more prints were found. The adventurers concluded the assailant was undead and was lying in wait for the victims. An inspection of most of the riverbank and the river yielded no results.

The adventurers learned the victims were secret lovers and the male was a part owner of the lumber mill. They also learned that the female’s father was a tradesman in town who did not approve of their relationship. Sheriff Hemlock was holding him in a cell, but he had already been largely dismissed as a suspect.

The adventurers decided they would next inspect the bodies of the murdered conmen and then journey to the sanitarium to see if they could learn anything from the “mad” surviving bodyguard.


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**D.M. Note**
This part of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path involves a lot of investigation, diplomacy, and other non-combat encounters. It's been very enjoyable. However, it is not very visually exciting and there are not a lot of pictures to show. As a result I have made the decision to give general background and describe the few major combat encounters in more detail with accompanying pictures.

Episode Seven
The adventurers journeyed to a nearby sanatorium to interview the lone survivor from the barn murders. They found the survivor was not only mad, but was undergoing the transformation to becoming a ghoul. The doctor in charge was corrupt and in league with a small time necromancer. Much blood was shed, the doctor arrested and clues gathered from the rantings of the near-ghoul survivor. The group returned to Sand Point, turned the doctor over to sheriff Hemlock and was immediately faced with another crisis.

An infestation of ghouls had emerged around a farm south of town. The farmhouse was overrun with ghouls, and had a few more clues. Putting it all together the group determined that everything pointed to the abandoned Foxglove manor. The same estate their friend they had saved from the goblins, Aldern Foxglove, had said he was in town to restore.

The adventurers headed south to Foxglove manor. There they found a long abandoned estate that was creepy and full of haunts. Eventually, they freed the undead spirit of Aldern's murdered wife Iesha. Iesha made a mad dash to dark caverns below the haunted mansion.

The group scrambled to keep up with Iesha and came to a large cavern dominated by a pool in the center. Iesha was on the far end of the cavern clawing madly at a door.


As the adventurers moved to follow four goblins emerged from the pool. It became clear almost immediately that the goblins were now undead bent on destroying the adventurers.


Skulleater was surrounded and was touched by all four goblin ghasts in succession. Miraculously, the half-orc shook off the ice cool touch of the creatures.


Roaring in anger, Skulleater's mighty bastard sword sliced through undead green flesh in a flurry of violent steel. The sorcerer ratfolk, Fentra, came forward and blasted the creatures with an electrical touch. The rest of the adventurers helped the raging Skulleater finish off the ghasts.

Catching their breath from the encounter, the adventurers looked up to see that Iesha was gone. She had clawed her way through the door. Coming from beyond the door the adventurers heard a loud growl followed by an ear-splitting scream!


Sprinting past the door the adventurers found what was left of Aldern Foxglove, a horrible vision of ghoulish undeath. Standing over the limp revenant of his late wife, Aldern's terrible face split into a sharp toothed grin. He cried out to Aggie, "Aggie! My sweet love, you've come to me! I knew my letters would sway your heart, my love! Let us consummate our... our... hunger!"


Aldern rushed to the attack. His first attack wounded and paralyzed Aggie. Skulleater dove into the fray and inflicted terrible damage on the ghoulish Aldern. Aldern turned and wounded the half-orc and he too was paralyzed. Bug, the ratfolk rogue, dashed in with a brutal blow causing the fiend's legs to half-buckle. Aldern turned and clawed Bug and the ratfolk froze, paralyzed.

The paladin, the barbarian, and one of the rogues was now out of action. Yara, the catfolk rogue, swooped in and pulled Aggie to safety. Fireheart, the half-elf, ranger made a pair of attacks on Aldern and Shagrax hit the beast with a spiritual hammer. All of these blows were largely ineffective though. Aldern turned his attentions on Shagrax. Although the cleric was wounded he managed to shake off the icy ghoulish touch. Desperately, Shagrax channeled positive energy at Aldern. Aldern leered menacingly at Shagrax, teetered, and then collapsed.

A search of the cavern revealed a number of notes, but most significantly a letter. The letter indicated Aldern was working for something called the brotherhood in Magnimar. It called for Aldern to a meeting at the Foxglove townhouse in Magnimar. The missive was signed Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven.

Voidrunner's Codex

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