Soanso's Fireside Chat: Rise of the Runelords (AE)

Abciximab

Explorer
The Sandpoint Heroes are…

Vahoi – Human Male, Stormborn Sorcerer (Brent)
Shaiira – Half-Elven Female, Rogue (Dave)
Caramour – Human Male, Cleric (Peteinmaine)
Mundin Ironhand – Dwarven Male, Fighter (MundinIronHand)
Sivoulette – Human Female, Bard (Soanso)

We’ve had a good start to the AP. Session 2 was the first full session, with a lot of good Role Playing with some combat mixed in. The PCs are creating bonds with the residents of Sandpoint and have quickly become the true Heroes of Sandpoint.

Highlights of Session 2.

Investigating the goblins.

Sivoulette running interference for Caramour as he went to investigate the “Rats in the Basement”. Quick thinking and Diplomacy saved the day on that one.

The whole party coming to Amieko’s defense at the rusty dragon (I think they earned more XP from this one non-combat encounter than any other single encounter).

My crit from a boar vs Shaiira. 12 hp (I believe it was max dmg) to knock her well into the negatives. Ouch.

Everyone did a great job, not just staying engaged, but smoothly moving the story forward. On more than one occasion, I had to jump to an encounter as one of the PCs decided to go in just the right direction. It was an interesting experience, having the players seamlessly driving the story forward. I think it was one of the smoothest sessions I have ever GMed. Hopefully everyone else had as much fun as I did. Session 3 on the other hand… Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves ;).

Session 4 will run tomorrow.
 
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soanso

First Post
Summertime and the living is easy

Hello, hola, willkommen, greetings, salutations to you all!

First, thanks for following our Story Hour! To write is a selfish pleasure, to share is a simple one. Soanso here, dropping in for a quick IRL note:

What a great group we have, truly thankful to have played with the same core group for almost 5 years- or is it over 5 years? Anyways,

Rise of the Runelords has been fantastic to play, and I'd like to credit Abciximab with running it so well. The players are digging it- it's our first turn through for all but one, and the outlier is really doing well as the super-non-spoiler.

We are taking a short break from game-play; our next game is 20 August. In the meantime, I will be posting everything we've experienced up until last night's near-TPK....

Oh yes, I just teased you a bit.

IRL, I'm a session behind in the Fireside Chat. For me, "summering in Maine" means working like a dog, so I'm taking this brief hiatus to bring everything current.

If only it could be "summoning in Maine"... ooh, the minions, the minions!

And when was the last time I saw a dog work? What the-

Anyways, keep an eye on this thread, it will weave a tapestry before your eyes. Grandy Vin told me so.

-Soanso
 

soanso

First Post
Beneath Sandpoint

Tsuto had little affection for Sandpoint. His leather-bound effort was part military campaign journal, part bad poetry fawning over one referred to as “My Love”, and part half-lucid daily entries. With so much information in it, I took my time reading and noting what seemed important.

The attack on Sandpoint was deliberate and coordinated by Tsuto at least, and perhaps others. His notes detailed the attack, marking the Smuggler’s Tunnels beneath the glassworks as well as a riverfront approach at the town’s eastern border. He listed Brethazmus and Ripnugget as allies; two names I recognized from our chat with the elf ranger, Shalelu. Tsuto paraphrased His Love, writing that once “Malfeshnekor is released and under her command, we won’t need to worry about being subtle.” This Malfeshnekor is an entity worth researching.


He also hinted at another raid with 200 goblins backing it, something to consider going forward. He also mentioned a being simply called “the Quasit”, whose lair was beneath the town- “Send her freaks up from below via the Smuggler’s Tunnels beneath my father’s glassworks…” Tsuto had a grand plan for invasion; I wondered what kept him from executing these orders to their full extent.


The next entry chilled me to the bone- Nualia, the adopted aasimar daughter of Father Tobyn, is alive.


We never checked her tomb in the family crypt; it was undisturbed and that was how we left it, in deference to the deceased. Tsuto wrote that the invasion was simply a distraction to gain Tobyn’s body, so that Nualia could sacrifice it - “She remains obsessed with removing what she calls her ‘Celestial taint’ and replacing it with her Mother’s Grace. Burning her father’s remains at the Thistletop shrine seems to have started the transformation, but I can’t say that her new hand is pleasing to me…. Maybe I’ll luck out. Succubi are demons, too, aren’t they?” Tsuto’s obsession was Nualia, who seems to be bent on destroying Sandpoint, or at least herself, in some macabre ritual.


Tsuto also mentioned Nualia’s “obsession with the lower chambers”, perhaps another tie to the Quasit. A thick plot of intrigue, sabotage, and death plagued my mind; I stepped out to find my friends and to share my findings. Surly as Tsuto might have been, something must have warped his mind to this nefarious plot.

I told myself that perhaps Tsuto’s death was necessary; a splinter of doubt in this evil cabal’s paw. I struggled to find a parable for the event; I found none. This is how tales begin, then. In a moment of necessity, to be forever celebrated or reviled for the outcome.

My friends reclined in the common room; I brought the journal with me and we began in earnest to decipher the text. Shaiira recognized the sketches of Nualia, which surprised me. We decided to further explore the glassworks, hoping to find the goblin’s entry-point and close it.

Before we turned in for the evening, we asked Bethanna if Ameiko would see us. The halfling said her mistress was in good health and would meet us in short time. She met us in the drawing room, and said she was as well as could be expected. She told us that Tsuto tried to recruit her to the Thistletop goblin’s banner, and that Nualia did indeed guide her brother’s hand. She refused his offer, of course, and the goblins attacked and captured her. We bid her goodnight, and retired to our chambers for some true rest.

We awoke, refreshed and ready for the day; Mundin was uncharacteristically jovial at breakfast. I took this as a good portent- a happy dwarf means no rain. A common Shoanti saying about gray mornings near the Storval Plateau; its veracity is questionable, but tis a colloquialism I’ve come to embrace. The more time I spend with the foul-tempered dwarf, the more I find his dour visage a mask for something else, something deeper than the disdain he projects. I wonder if my conviviality strikes him similarly. I respect his prowess in the field, and we’ve yet to sit by the fire to share yesterdays, but I know we both share the tragedy of loss. Tis in his eyes, and likely mine.


We made cursory stops at a few shops in town to pick up some trinkets, and headed back to the glassworks. Descending deeper into the basement, we came to a crossroads of three tunnels. The tunnels leading forward and to our right continued on into the darkness. The third tunnel, to our left, was bricked up, but a hole had been punched through from our side, leaving an opening. We went left.


A humanoid advanced upon us; a zombie, most likely. To our surprise the thing was quick and struck with nasty claws. Combat was over in two blinks of an eye, but I stopped to study the body. C and Vohoi thought it to be a sinspawn; not an undead beast but something warped by the powerful magic of the ancient Thassilonian Runelords. I recognized the reference, but could not believe this was such a creature; my scholarly friends’ gravitas gave my own mind doubts.


We followed the natural cavern until it ended abruptly; a door in the rock to the right was unlocked. Shaiira opened it and we entered a small room of worked stone, a grand statue of a woman holding a finely wrought ranseur in one hand, and a tome embossed with a Thassilonian rune in the other. Vohoi noticed the Sihedron, a rune associated with power in ancient Thassilon, and I noticed the ranseur as being particularly ornate. Sha freed it from the statue; we held our collective breath as the stone continued to stand guard. We studied it briefly, but made no assumptions about it beyond that this was, indeed, an ancient place. When Vohoi tried to determine its arcane potential, nothing but the walls were imbued. Odd to find magic to keep things current, here.


Another door in the tunnel; Shaiira again led us in. This opened to a wooden scaffolding, maybe ten feet above the floor of the room. A horror stood on it, and we advanced.


Twas the size of a man, but odd. Once I met it with my rapier, I knew it to be another sinspawn.


Its mouth was double-jawed, one set opening onto another, with a set of feelers, maybe tiny hands, set about the chin. Red eyes that absorbed light and flickered with hate. Arms too long, ending in wicked hands tipped with three vicious claws; legs that bent back like a dog’s; deathly pale skin, the kind of pale you expect from a derro, or an undersea fish beyond light. And the tenacity of the walking dead, but fast. Faster than a wight, and more wicked, more hateful in its approach.

We fell to the beast as another crept up from beneath the scaffolding; I struck true more than once.

This hero business is an easy sell to myself when I harness the emptiness left by the giants; each time my blade draws blood, I feel the sick pleasure of contrition. Panting, we surveyed the room, what must have been some sort of prison. Empty. This is my family, now. Vengeance grows in my heart, a dark spot I have not felt before. I will not let them die.
 

soanso

First Post
Foul Water and Bad Portents

The haunted stone walls howled in mourning, like a far-off hound baying in the fog-shrouded night. Though at the edge of perception, tis real enough. Vohoi has noted the magic aura of this room seems to shift and pulse, as if some ancient magic preserves this place. We quickly searched the room beneath the scaffolding, finding iron pins and hooks in the walls that were once used to hold prisoners in chains, but little else.

Back up to the scaffolding and to the door, which Shaiira opened with ease.

The next room was some sort of torture chamber. Its archaic apparatuses were in poor shape; though whole, they looked as if they’d crumble with the slightest touch. Again, the walls were in good repair; it was obvious that the architect of this place cared more for the bones than the organs. Another door, another entrance.

This room had a vaulted ceiling, and was fairly rectangular, opening lengthwise to our position. The floor was marked by what seemed to be circular wicker or wooden disks, about five feet in diameter. At the far end of the room stood a goblin, but at the same time, a not-a-goblin. Hands moved to weapons.

Though his melon-head, pointy ears, sickly grey skin and nasty breath were certainly goblin, he was easily twice his kin’s usual size, standing nearly as tall as Vohoi. A third arm branched from the right shoulder, ending in a normal hand, holding an ornate longsword. And a fourth arm, though it was shriveled and seemed useless. His other hands wielded a fine dagger, likely silver, and a well-made hand axe. I sang “Verses of Honor”, an uplifting hymn from old Taldor. Vohoi enchanted Mundin’s axe with an electric charge; this baddie was in for a surprise, should the dwarf hit.

Mundin led the charge, and the beast immediately vomited a string of gore and puss I wish to never see again, stopping the dwarf in his tracks. As he retched, I remembered Grandy Vin’s Forever’thing Recipe, and quickly flashed a magic pulse at the dwarf, who immediately recovered from the vomit-spray and struck the too-big goblin with a vicious hack from his axe, following with an electric charge that scorched the scant hair it had on its back. Shaiira, as always, was in perfect position to strike the enemy; his retaliation missed. Mundin dropped his axe again for the kill.

We stood over the horror, wondering what, exactly, it was. I remembered Shalelu’s assessment of the goblin tribes as my eyes fell to the ornate longsword. Koruvus, the Seventooth champion who disappeared, wielded such a weapon. Shelelu said he was considered a ghost or worse; such details matter little as a foul champion is gone. Mundin now has an enchanted hand axe and a silver dagger, his jagged grin wearing the sum of the battle. The ornate longsword called to me, but my rapier is quicker. We decided to keep the blade until it serves a purpose in battle or on the market.

C and Vohoi consulted for a few minutes, and told us of a powerful mutagen known as “Waters of Lamashtu.” This unholy potable purportedly imbues one with supernatural mutations, such as extra limbs or a larger size, should one survive the ritual. It originates from an uncommon spell of the same name; was this was a deliberate action by some foul soul? Nualia? This might explain Koruvus’ disappearance and transformation- perhaps the Mother of Monsters called him to service, and he imbibed these waters and became an abomination. We should tell Shalelu of Koruvus’ fate, should we meet the elf again. Finding Koruvus here, then, made sense; Lamashtu is revered by the goblins because she freed them from the diabolical machinations of the Prince of Hell, Asmodeus.

Back to the wicker carpets. We braced ourselves as C tipped one over with his walking stick-a pit in the ground about eight feet deep and under five across, with a zombie shuffling hungrily within. Perhaps once a macabre garbage disposal, now an afterthought. We shuddered and moved on to the door.

The door opened onto a weird, circular room. The floor was checkerboard, and in it several items floated in midair. The walls were plated in red metal, and embossed with strange runes. Vohoi identified them as Thassilonian, and interpreted them to be those of anger, rage, and wrath.

Suspended in midair were a dead raven, a scroll, an iron bar with a forked metal tip, a book, and a glass bottle filled with liquid.

None were brave enough to step into the room. The angry runes and the hatred exuded by the red metal gave us all pause. C went back to the previous room and purloined a zombie lid, attached it to the end of his quarterstaff, and batted the items our way.

With a simple game of rebound and deft hands, Caramour was able to position the items towards us. We recovered a scroll ensorcelled with burning hands, a wand of shocking grasp, a holy book dedicated to Lamashtu, and a bottle of Magnimarian wine- the same style and vintage we found on Tsuto’s desk. The raven was left in orbit; if only we could speak with the dead or see its last moments.

Two bottles of wine with the same vintage and vintner- I should drop in on my friend Aldern Foxglove; perhaps he can shed some light on this coincidence, being a nobleman of Magnimar. I am haunted by the raven, a portent unheralded and undisclosed.

The next room was small, and presented three doors, each marked with the seven-pointed star of wicked blades; PopPop and I once encountered the symbol as we trekked across Varisia. His blood ran cold and we hurried from the obelisk bearing its mark. The brave man spoke no words. I recalled the same symbol emblazoned on the book held by the statue holding the ranseur. I would need to ask Vohoi about the history of this mark.

The room itself was a graveyard of crumbled furniture; though a sheet of paper discovered on the floor held a flaming sphere spell. We opened the three doors in succession; each contained the mutated skeleton of some sort of humanoid. I guessed Waters of Lamashtu gone wrong. I closed the doors on the grim remains, wishing them to never again see light. Perhaps these were to be the meals for the pit-zombies we encountered.

“Vohoi,” I said, closing the third and final door. “You seem to know much of this mark. I have seen it, too, in my days. What of it? I know it is a terrible portent for travelers.”

Vohoi thought a moment, and said, “The Sihedron, as it is known to history, is the mark of the Runelords. We must be in some sort of ancient temple or stronghold, for it to be so freely displayed. The seven points of the mark represent the seven schools of arcane magic practiced during the time of the Thassilonian Empire.”

“Divination was not a school then,” C added.

“Correct,” said Vohoi. “But now is not the time for a history lesson. We must proceed- the correlations in Tsuto’s journal to the foul fiends beneath the glassworks gives us great cause for concern for Sandpoint.”

“Aye,” Mundin said, shadowed in the darkened room. “We must rid this place of evil.”

“Follow me,” Shaiira said, setting off deeper into the complex. The tunnel brayed with energy. At first I thought it sad mourning, now I am almost convinced it is the maddened howls of the hateful spirits spawned, trapped, and killed here; the spirits of spite, evil, and wrath.
 

soanso

First Post
From Sandpoint to Thistletop

The tunnel ended in a chamber that featured a stone basin and several carvings of monstrous abominations and prayers which Caramour identified as sacred to Lamashtu. This, then, must have been the source of the unholy potable. A set of double doors were summarily unlocked and untrapped, and Shaiira carefully opened them. We readied ourselves for any horror we might encounter beyond the ancient portal.

The long chamber’s walls were covered in large, spiked runes, some painted, some carved. They were similar to the ones we met in the
checkerboard-floating item-weirdness room, but were scribed with a more agitated, angrier serif.

The room’s vaulted ceiling traveled the entire length. Across the room, a short stone staircase led to a pool crafted from polished humanoid skulls; a small, winged being hovered over the roiling liquid, and two sinspawn flanked the pool.

“What is it?” Shaiira asked.
“Likely a demon,” Vohoi answered.
“Might be Tsuto’s ‘Quasit’,” I said.
“They are small, winged demons,” C confirmed.
“It’s dead,” Mundin answered as he hefted his axe and strode towards the beast.
“Who dares enter the Mother’s Sanctum?” the demon shrilled, her tiny knife held to her wrist.

We followed the dwarf to our foes, quickly cutting down the sinspawn. The demon took the wee knife and cut itself over the pool, droplets of blood splashed the surface; another foul sinspawn rose from the waters to attack. It was quickly felled. We surrounded the pool as the quasit took to the far corner of the cathedral-ceilinged room, and became invisible. A pair of dire rats appeared and were quickly dispatched. The demon briefly appeared but disappeared again. Vohoi attempted to track it with magic, but was unsuccessful.

Several of us succumbed to magical stasis while our spells and weapons glanced off its wretched hide. The battle wore on, and it became quite apparent we were unprepared for the demon. Its ability to incapacitate us with its magic, in combination with our inability to penetrate its abyssal hide with our simple weapons, was trying. Grandy Vin was telling me to focus on its powers, to figure out its game like hide-a-shell, but the idea fell to the floor- a casualty of my inexperience with such a situation.

“We cannot strike it,” said Vohoi.
“My arrows are useless, and it’s flying about, I think,” Shaiira said, “and it’s enchanted itself invisible.”
“Aye, Sister, tis too much for now,” I concurred. The three of us slowly backed ourselves to the doors; Mundin and C tried again to engage the demon, who threw a needle-like dagger at C, but missed.
“To us!” I shouted, motioning to the dwarf and the Vudrani.

Mundin spat; the bloodlust was in his eyes. “Nay, child, I can slay this beast, I just need to-” the clang of his enchanted hand-axe against the floor echoed in the cavernous room “- hit it! Damned beard of Droskar! It was just, it was just right there!”

“Mundin- to me, now! We must go! Caramour, what are you doing?” I shouted to the far end of the chamber, where Caramour tarried by the dread cistern.

A pair of eagles flooded in golden light appeared from thin air; C moved towards the dwarf, stooping to grab the silver dagger and hand-axe. Each was an unsuccessful attempt to strike the demon, and the eagles fared no better, striking as it came visible again but with little effect. Shaiira, Vohoi, and I moved out of the room, waiting for the cleric and the fighter. Mundin shouted what I can only imagine to be an insulting and profanity-laced tirade in his native tongue towards the thin air as we slammed the door behind us. I grabbed my hammer and iron spike and slammed the piton home, hoping to seal the “mother” and her “children” within for at least one night.

Mundin paced, muttering, “By the corpse of Dravik, I could’ve had the thing! I only needed time-”
“We had no time, friend,” Shaiira said quietly. “Were we to wait a fortnight for you to strike the beast, then what?”
“A fortnight without ale,” C said. Mundin stopped his pacing and his head snapped up, staring at C in disbelief.

I laughed, hard. I had to. Vohoi chuckled, C’s eyes reflected a humorous light, the dwarf seethed.

Then he laughed, too.

“Aye, let’s be to the Dragon, fill our bellies with ale and our scabbards with a proper demon-killing arsenal,” he said.

A fine idea. We quickly swept through the ruins we’d already mapped, leaving the few unexplored spurs for later. We asked Gomer and Guber to post a watch at the glassworks, and to alert us immediately should anything raise their suspicion of the place. They acquiesced, and we headed to Ameiko’s for rest.

We arrived late in the evening, and a platter of cured meats, cheese, and crusty bread greeted us, along with a savory silver beet relish and smashed black mustard seed tapenade, a mug of fine dwarven stout, and a bottle of Sargavan croix-de-guerre, a blush wine with a complex nose of apple, Thornberry, thyme, and a coppery undertone culled from the bloodrose, a blossom native to Garund. The savory, tangy relish met the smoked meat and strong cheese head on, a delectable supper for such a trying day. The Garundi wine was a strong compliment to the repast, respecting everything at the plate. Mundin drained his mug in one slow, satisfying draught.

After we ate, we talked strategy. I had a bounty of coin, and offered it for whatever we might need. I planned to purchase cold iron bolts for myself and Mundin, as well as some arrows for Shaiira- at least we could hit and likely damage the flying demon with cold iron. Caramour, always quizzical, simply stated he would be ready tomorrow. We agreed it best to start early, and to speak to Father Zantus. We had no magic to counter the demon’s invisibility; perhaps he did, or could provide us guidance with a prayer.

A few rounds of brandy saw us to sweet, silent sleep.

When my eyes creaked open with the rising daylight, I was secretly happy that nothing disturbed my slumber. I rose and stretched, reasoning that either nothing had crawled from the depths beneath Sandpoint- or it had, and everyone lay dead. I assumed the former as I padded to the washroom. At breakfast we quickly ate and hit the market for supplies. We met with Father Zantus and told him what we found beneath Sandpoint.

“A corrupt place, Father,” Caramour said, calmly. “Myself and the scholar both believe there is a danger in this place.”
“Indeed, Father,” Vohoi said. “I recognized some of the runes to be those of wrath, anger, and the like.”
“The walls hum with hatred,” I added.

We described the statue of the woman holding the ranseur and the book carved with the sihedron, the altar dedicated to Lamashtu, the twisted goblin, the quasit, and the sinspawn.

“I would like to follow you into the dark,” Zantus said, “so that I may see with mine own eyes what it is you speak. Should I prove a burden, I will return topside.”
“Desna’s Chosen are never a burden, Father,” I replied. He smiled.

Back to the glassworks; we met the sentry and found they’d be on watch for a few more hours than promised. I passed each a few silver and thanked them for their vigilance. When I was young, maybe twelve summers, we made several monthly trips to Riddleport. I was old enough to see things. PopPop knew that and winked, once, and came to me sitting on the drover’s plank, and said low, “A silver in hand can spring a sword in need.” He had just given coin to a few guards to keep them dumb enough to the Sczarni’s questions, sure to come after we’d left the city.

We made our way to the quasit’s lair; the door had been jacked open enough to allow a small creature to slip through. I silently cursed my cheap Korvosan iron spike. Next time I’m in Janderhoff…

We entered the seemingly empty room. Vohoi searched it with his magic, but we found nothing hiding. We brought Father Zantus to the skull-pool, I was suddenly struck by a fear that he knew something nefarious, and that we might be in grave danger. The waters were less violent than they had been yesterday.

“A summoning pool,” he said. “My guess is that it has a limited functionality, that it summons a finite number of creatures.” My heart tightened with apprehension.
“Let us draw blood to test this theory,” Zantus said, looking us all in the eye. No one blinked. The cleric shrugged. “Then I guess it’s my turn,” he said, drawing a knife to the tip of his last finger, squeezing drops of blood into the pool. It roiled and a sinspawn emerged, only to be hacked down.

The pool went dark, ceased its noxious roiling and lay still. Father Zantus, to my relief, did not turn into an abomination.

We moved to explore the last region of the complex. Travelling down a corridor and up a set of stairs, we met a circular room occupied by another pool ringed by skulls. This time, one rose to attack. The vargouille was surprised by Shaiira’s cold iron arrow and my rapier, and quickly fell. The door across the way opened onto a rockslide. Doubling back through the dungeon, we could not find the quasit; it had escaped either physically or through subterfuge, as our combined magic could not place it. Caramour burst positive energy unto the pit zombies, ensuring further explorers would not need to hassle themselves with that hazard.

We headed back into the main tunnel that extended from the glassworks. One branch travelled about a half-mile until Shaiira found a secret door;
it opened onto a circular cave that held evidence of goblin activity- smelly pallets, rat and bird bones, other refuse. Goblin tracks led from the beaches to this point, and then through the secret door; but none led back to this place.

The final spur leading from the glassworks ended abruptly in a rockslide. We returned topside and searched the river banks east of town for any continued goblin activity, but found none. Father Zantus thanked us for our efforts and returned to the temple. Being early evening, we took to the cliffs, and a fellow named Gorvi met us.

“Aye, an’howyado. Gorvi’s de name, been here junkin’ forebber.” Gorvi stank of trash and rum.
“Gorvi, seen many goblins about?” I asked.
“Neh. They been gone since ah since the battles, yep. Us’lly three, five days they junk.”
“Ever notice particular marks?” I asked.
“Summa have a necklace with teeth. Ottern’ that, naw. They’s far out, I don’ pay much mind ‘cept for the Dealer.”
“Who’s the Dealer?” Shaiira asked.
“Da gobby who tries to sell his finds,” Gorvi coughed a lung. “Sometimes he’s got real cheese.” We took our leave, none the wiser.

We decided to meet with the local sage, Broddart Quint. He seemed to recognize Vohoi and Mundin, but I could glean nothing by that. He met us in his well-stuffed home, more museum than anything. Charts, maps, thick leather tomes, a ball on a spike that spun – a “globe” he called it. Piles of papers, documents, scrolls, a suit of Taldor armor, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves crammed with books, documents, and scrolls circled an overstuffed armchair attended by a squat, wide-topped mahogany table, also covered in books and scrolls.

We described all we had encountered in the dungeon below Sandpoint.

“The statue you speak of, it is likely that of Alaznast, the Runelord of Wrath. The Thassilonian Runelords have a varied, compelling history in Varisia.

“It seems you found what is known as a rune-well. A sacred place for the Runelord Alaznast, the recent activity here must have stirred up the place’s power.” We chatted for a fair time about the town and any details he could give us. His eyes lit when we produced the ranseur we freed from the statue. He stood firm on the price, which we decided was good enough.

None of us lived here previous, but Sandpoint has taken us in because we happened to be here when the town needed help, and rose to serve. We stopped the goblin invasion, only to learn that the tide pulled harder. Unable to convince Tsuto to turn himself in to the local authorities, we found his absolute distrust of anyone, even his half-sister, had driven him to deplorable moral depths.

There is a danger hovering over Sandpoint, and her name is Nualia. The fire that consumed the old temple supposedly included the pastor and his daughter, an adopted aasimar. We know from Tsuto’s journal she lives and is attempting some sort of transformation.

We know, too, that Thistletop is the linchpin in many of Tsuto’s ravings in his journal; he says the ritual to remove Nualia’s celestial heritage took place there. We decide to travel on horseback.
 

soanso

First Post
Trouble at Thistletop

We set out from Sandpoint as soon as Sheriff Belor arrived with a small detachment of soldiers from Magnimar. I expected more, but this should be enough to keep the town safe. We travelled east, wary that without a guide the goblins would be difficult to track. We took the Lost Coast Road, chatting up the few isolated farmers and travelers we met. All agreed that the Nettlewood was infested with goblins, but had no more knowledge than we about their situation.

Aptly named, the Nettlewood was a hardy, dense forest of close-knit trees and burly shrubs, hugging the road and obscuring the sea from our view. Vigilance was essential, and we were able to find a switchback trail in the heath. Following what seemed to be a deer path deeper into the wood, we came to a small clearing.

“Walls,” Shaiira said, taking a moment to soak in the sun that leaked through the towering canopy. Raising nearly two stories, such a collection of scree and shrub growth I’d never seen in my travels. Shaiira stood a moment, pointing out the structured vines, brush, and trees that formed a natural border. “Walls have doors, and… here!” She said quietly, pointing to a peculiar square in the bramble that made me wish I had gauntlets. The sharp thorns in the Nettlewood are enough to draw serious blood. Mundin opened the thicket door for us, revealing a cramped tunnel of underbrush and thorns. My stomach turned, but I followed the rest into the small corridor.

We made our way by taking left turns through the tunnels. We reached one point that appeared to be a lookout post over the sea; we could see the rock spire of Thistletop if we craned our necks hard enough. This was something else, then. We continued on and reached another lookout rook. We could clearly see the island. Another thistle-barbed door greeted us; Mundin threw it open and we happened upon nearly a dozen goblins. Shaiira and Mundin set themselves to the doorway as we tried to pick them off from behind.

I sang a lullaby to enhance Vohoi’s sleep spell, which dropped many of them into slumber. Mundin’s axe was true, and Shaiira fought valiantly. One of the goblins aided the effort by striking down one of his own for his weakness against us Longshanks. I heard the far-off braying of goblin dogs. Mundin, Shaiira, and Vohoi held the goblins in check as C and I turned to cover our flank.

Despite the cramped quarters, we were enjoying great success against the bastards; a quartet of goblin dogs appeared, and C and I decided to wade in against them. We knew our allies would wipe the floor with the goblins in no time, and we could engage their dogs and draw them back to the rest of the party. Shaiira joined us across the room, leaving Mundin and Vohoi to mop up the incapacitated goblins.

A big, mangy, yellow-toothed cat slinked around the corner, red eyes pulsing anticipation. I took pause.

Something was wrong.

And I did not hear the sounds of success from the far side of the chamber I expected.

We tangled with the dogs until another goblin came to the scene. Its raiment was enough to panic my heart- an ensorcelled goblin. As it chanted, my heart sank. The living walls of the warren reached to grab us, entangling us with their dangerous nettles.

Too quickly the tide turned; now we were in danger. Split by the goblin’s magic, things fell apart. Shaiira, C, and I were taking real damage from the goblin dogs; the cat was devastating. Caramour dropped first, being closest to it. The cat ravaged him with its claws and then dropped him with a vicious bite. It prowled the battlefield, stalking its next kill. Shaiira and I exchanged a glance; we would survive this.
Meanwhile, Mundin and Vohoi attempted to finish off the remaining goblins on their side of the battlefield, but met little success. The goblin’s spell gave us all pause to rendezvous.

The cat next pounced on Shaiira, swiping and biting with its vicious attacks as its goblin master gleefully danced. In a few seconds, my sister was dead. I had seen her fall once, and it scared my soul; this time my soul echoed the dull thud of her body to the packed earth of the warren. She was dead. Enraged, I attacked the goblin, striking true.

“Mundin!” I called as hard as my lungs could.

I knew there was too much between us to survive. The goblin’s magic was too much to overcome- the very wood could kill us if given the chance. This, and the large cat; in my falling mind, ‘twas the first goblin druid I’d ever seen; hopefully my last.

I was torn down by the pack of goblin dogs, I think. I know I crumpled into a heap.
*
Mundin heaved a sigh, looking towards the entangled growth that separated him from Shaiira and the rest. He and Vohoi were trapped on the wrong end of magic.

His heart skipped when the dire nettles were dispelled- it was the worst of all scenarios. The others were captured, or worse. He hefted his axe and turned to Vohoi, a stranger barely known but an ally now.

“Ye might best say a prayer now. You’ll die alone.” Mundin walked towards their allies’ last known position.
Vohoi pulled himself up to his full height, nearly another dwarf taller than his companion. “Ye best say a prayer now, friend, for we die together.”
The dwarf stopped, and turned his head. “Aye?”
“Aye.” Vohoi met Mundin as the goblin shaman and its cat moved in for the kill.

Mundin traded blows with both goblin and cat, who ravaged him with claw and tooth. Vohoi, sensing the battle was out of hand, made one last attempt to turn the tide.

Focusing his last spell, he jolted the druid with a cacophony of electricity, sending the howling goblin slinking away, cat protecting the retreat.
 

Azkorra

Explorer
Ouch! :eek:

Even though this ominously sounds like a TPK, I sincerely hope it hasn't been one as I really dig this journal and the characters involved!
 

soanso

First Post
Thistletop Blues

Mundin and Vohoi waited what seemed a lifetime, until all they heard was the sonorous crash of waves upon the rocks far below. The dwarf unstoppered a potage and poured it down Caramour’s throat. In a moment, the cleric was restored, and he immediately burst positive energy.

I came to, groggy and heavy-headed. One look in the direction I did not want my eyes to turn to confirmed what I had not forgotten-

Shaiira was dead.

Caramour’s energy burst did not affect her. I moved towards her like a drunk on the heaving deck of a storm-tossed caravel, keeping my left hand low for support; I had tarried at death’s door too long. My mind was still blasted by battle and trauma as I approached her body. I put my ear on her chest and begged Pharasma for Shaiira’s life.

All for not.

My sister was dead. The family was shattered, again. I was alone, again, without identity, without my sister, left alone, again. Am I the curse, the unlucky soul that steals away my own kin? Am I the facilitator of the Farateldi demise? My heavy head held so much. My eyes watered, and I lifted them to the sky, hoping that Desna might give me a sign.

Halfway to the heavens, I saw Caramour. And Mundin. And Vohoi. Each knelt at my sister’s side. Why did Tsuto turn on his kin? How could you choose pride over family? I- no, we- found each other, so how can you turn away family? I’d already lost everything once, landed in Sandpoint on a whim, and then found my sister. And then I found this band; I’ll be shouldered with each of them to the end. They had gathered at Shaiira’s side because it was right.

“Desna, keep her in your grace as she walks to the Boneyard,” I whispered, passing my hand over her face, closing her eyes to the world. We stood, silent as stones. I prepared my bedroll to transport my sister back to Sandpoint.

Shaiira’s eyelids fluttered for an instant, as if they were butterfly wings. Then they shot wide open and she vomited blood; C quickly cast a healing spell on her before she passed out. I shrieked with joy; her heart beat echoed in my ear as we burdened her steed with supplies, and she rode, unconscious, in my arms for the long trek back to Sandpoint.
 


Abciximab

Explorer
End of Session 4.​

That was a close call. Luckily C and Siv were able to stabilize, but Shaiira had to be saved with Hero Points.

There are some new characters coming up… That’s all I’ll say about that for now.

That covers everything up to Session 4. We played session 5 on the 20th of August and the next session will be the 3rd of September.

My favorite sessions so far have been session 2 and session 5. Session 3 & 4 had some really tough encounters that took up a good chunk of time. The Quasit in session 3 was a stalemate that dragged on and on without either side being able to cause any real harm to the other. The Goblin Druid in session 4… that was a tough encounter and, as Azkorra observed, very nearly ended with a TPK. Almost as stressful for the GM as it was for the players.

Contrary to popular belief, I actually want my players and their characters to succeed and survive the entire AP.

The combined penalties for Squeezing and being in the area of an Entangle spell really taxed the player’s mobility and led to the dreaded “splitting of the party”. Though they were separated by only 20 to 30 feet, it might as well have been a mile, with the front line fighter unable to close with the enemy. This left the cleric, the bard and the rogue confronting an overwhelming force. (Players: “How long does Entagle last?!?” GM: “For this battle? It might as well be forever.” ;) )

Once they were down, the Goblin Druid and his cat (Fear the Cat!) dropped the Entangle and closed with the fighter and the wizard. A critical hit from Jolt (one of the Cantrips left out of Ultimate Magic) brought the Goblin down to single digits (3 hp to be exact) and the Goblin and his pet beat a hasty retreat.

Luckily, after having faced two frustrating and difficult encounters back to back, the players returned to the table for session 5. What happened then? Stay tuned, Sivoulette will be back to tell the tale! (Unless she died, or was knocked unconscious, or lost her voice, or…)

(My apologies if I spell character names wrong from time to time, the players have some very creative names and I can’t take the time to look them up every time I mention one of them…)
 

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