Pathfinder 1E The Fall of the Great Kingdom: Adventures Near Rauxes (Episode 1: The Shadow Hound Attack)

My Pathfinder campaign started a few weeks ago and is set in the world of Greyhawk 589 CY. The campaign began in the (small) city of Orred, located in the Marchlands of Rauxes, in the United Kingdom of Ahlissa.

Several weeks ago, some disaster, some say a curse, befell the Capital City of Rauxes, just 30 miles west of Orred. Some say that the Overking, Ivid V, who was rumored to consort with foul other-worldly creatures (Demons, Devils, both??), was the cause of the event. No one knows for certain, but a great magical event took place in Rauxes. A magical explosion of light illuminated the night sky for miles. No one is known to have come from the Rauxes since.

With the loss of Ivid, the “Mad Overking,” and the Capital (Rauxes), the nation formally known as “The Great Kingdom of Aerdy,” strained by war, corruption, and madness, descended into chaos. Orred is currently under martial law. Soldiers have mobilized to secure the city and areas just outside the city.

Immediately after the events in Rauxes, towns, villages outside of Rauxes, including Orred, were plagued by some magical effect. Strange and terrible creatures teleported into the city and attacked anyone nearby. The teleporting monsters don’t occur quite as frequently as they did in the first few days after the event but still occur.

The Party (1st level):

-Aeya, the Half Elven Ranger. She has close ties to the Elves of the Grandwood and despises Orcs.
-Aesun, the Human Monk. His mentor was a Suel Monk, originally from the Scarlet Brotherhood, who was mysteriously assassinated several weeks ago.
-Shard, the secretive Human Psion, who speaks with a strange accent and only admits to fleeing from "the South."
-Krono, the eccentric Human Oracle, who was raised by Halfings.

All but Shard are from Orred. The Party mey by chance encounter when shadow hounds appeared and attacked the city market.

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(Episode 2: We Are Family)

The Party continued getting to know one another and, before lunch, with a mid-summer thunder storm passing over, set off to Market Street to meet the Leather Merchant whose life was saved by Krono after the Shadow Hound attack at the market.

As the Party passed by the dress shop, operated by Rebecca, Aeya’s twin sister, the shop door burst open as Rebecca frantically exited the shop, crashing into Aesun. Aesun’s monk reflexes saved both from falling onto the rainy cobble-stone street.
Rebecca explained that a ghost was after her. She had been harassed and stalked by a local named, Ilalgo Sten. Ilalgo kept making unwanted advances and a week ago assaulted Rebecca, pulling her into an alley and, at knife-point, attempted to push her to the ground. She resisted and, in the struggle, Ilalgo was stabbed in the neck by his own knife. Rebecca, certain that he had been killed, ran to report the incident to the town guard. When she returned with the guard, the body had already been taken away. Rebecca put the unfortunate incident behind her but this morning, as she got dressed, Ilalgo’s ghost appeared behind her.
As she finished her story, she and the Party heard a raspy voice, “I’ll have you Rebecca!!” The Party checked but could not find anyone or anything in the alley intersection where the voice had come. The Party went to check Rebecca’s shop and apartment but was unable to find any clues. They went back to the alley, using Detect Magic, detected faint & diminishing levels of illusion magic. They returned to the shop and similarly detected faint but fading traces of illusion. The Party decided to go with Rebecca (return to the scene of the crime) back to the alley across town where Ilalgo had attacked Rebecca.

As they exited the shop door, Krono was felled with a sleep-poisoned dart. The others spotted Ilalgo standing at the corner, near the alley intersection. Before they could react, he tossed a small coin-sized object in the street. The object shattered and covered the street in thick black smoke, obscuring sight between the Party and the alley intersection.

Aeya and Aesun dashed (ran) into the smoke to confront Illalgo but, in their haste and due to the blindness from the smoke, tripped over the uneven flagstones. Both tripped and fell to the street as they reached the edge of the smoke and alley. Shard ran into the smoke and was more fortunate. He did not trip; however, Ilalgo was not there.

Aeya and Aesun recovered from the ground and Ilalgo appeared a few dozen feet down the alley. This time he fired a poison dart at Shard, missed; and again, tossed another smoke bomb to obscure sight. Aeya, using her keen Elven hearing to aid her aim, fired an arrow into the smoke. Thup!! The arrow struck Ilalgo in the leg. Aesun and Shard advanced into the smoke and again Ilalgo was gone but appeared again, not quite as far away. Another dart and another miss. Aeya fired and another arrow hit home (Ilalgo). Esun and Shard closed on the rogue; Aesun grappled him and Shard knocked him out cold with the hilt of his sword!

The Party tied Ilalgo up, relieved him of some choice items, including a Ring of Invisibility, sleep poison, and a few smoke bombs, and summoned the town guard. The guards arrested Ilalgo and Rebecca expressed her heart-felt gratitude.
Afterward, the Party explored and visited a few places in town, including the leather merchant shop, wizard/arcane items shop, and alchemist shop.

Next, they visited the city guard captain, who had informally offered the Party jobs as city guards. The captain confirmed the offer but the Party (politely) declined. On the way back to the inn, the Party stopped by Esun’s Aunt and Uncles house; Aesun discovered that his aunt & uncle, minor adventurers, had gone exploring in a village almost a day’s travel west. They left a note inviting Esun to join them. That evening, the Party continued their “get to know one another” talks. Aesun, as non-confrontational as possible, confronted Shard about his suspected ties to the Scarlet Brotherhood. Shard, while not directly admitting ties, told the Party that he knew of the Brotherhood and, because of his beliefs do not align with the Brotherhood, might in fact be hunted by Brotherhood agents.

The next morning the Party set off for Brookhollow Homlet. Just before evening, they arrived at Brookhollow and soon after discovered that Aunt Lia and Uncle Tori were missing!! The Party began investigating!!

Episode 3: Evil Unearthed at Brookhollow

The Party finished meeting with Tacks, the Miller and returned to Cutters Inn. Their initial questioning about Aesun’s missing aunt and uncle, Lia and Tory, gave some clues. Searching their room gave more. Hidden under a loose floorboard, they found an old amulet of Hextor, along with Lia’s diary. The most notable entry in the diary was related to two notes Lia and Tory received. Both notes suggested that they meet the unknown note-writers at Logs Landing, to “get information about the growing evil.” One note invited them to a 10pm meeting. The other for midnight meeting. Tacks had explained to the Party that he had send the note with the midnight meeting but Lia and Tory never showed up. Subsequently, he heard they had left town but did not believe it. He was certain someone kidnapped them and was worried he and his niece and nephew might be next.

Back at the Inn, they hoped to speak with Otis, the Halfling Trapper. Otis didn’t seem to have many friends town, and didn’t seem overly friendly when the Party first arrived at the inn. As a Trapper, he might have seen or heard something out in the woods that might be a clue. They ordered dinner and drank/eat with Kerwin, the Dwarven Blacksmith. It was late (9pm), and no one had seen Otis since earlier in the evening. After dinner, the Party debated going to bed or going to see and speak with Arias at the temple of Pelor (god of healing), just outside the town. The Party decided to make it a late night – with Light Spells from Krono to illuminate the way, off the temple they went.

It was quiet and dark at the temple and the doors were closed. Perhaps Arias was sleeping. The Party knocked at the door. There was no reply. They walked around the temple and noted a back door. Aeya (Half Even Ranger) spotted fresh foot prints, near the back door, heading away from the temple.
The Party returned to the front, main doors, opened the doors, and cautiously went inside. There were several rows of pews and an elevated dias and alter. Near the back was a closed door. The Party knocked but again, there was no reply. They opened the door to the priest’s modest bed chamber. The bed was empty and did not appear to have been used. There was a door that clearly was the back door, where the Party found the fresh foot prints.

The Party went out and followed the tracks a short distance to a mausoleum. The stone doors were closed but the footprints clearly went to the door. They opened the door and entered. There were five sarcophagi lined in a row. Five large statues of ancient Pelorian warriors faced each sarcophagus. The tracks led directly to the center statue. The human-sized tracks were joined by a set of smaller, Halfling-sized foot prints.

The Party rotated the statue to reveal an opening to a tunnel beneath the mausoleum. Aeya speculated that there might be vampires involved!
They descended into the tunnel and encountered several traps along with undead guardians – skeletons and zombies. After some tense combat (often the result of terrible die-rolling), the Party fought their way through the horded of undead. They discovered a few side passages and then came across a pair of Dwarven zombies carrying sacks. Unlike the other undead, these two did not attack. Carrying sacks, they simply passed by the Party, back in the direction that the Party had just come. The Party turned and followed. The zombies entered one of the otherwise empty side passages and dumped the contents of the sacks into the chamber. The sacks contained freshly dug rocks and dirt. After dumping the sacks, the zombies plodded back in the direction that they had come. The Party followed.
The zombies turned a few corners and entered a large chamber, with a large and deep pit in the center. The chamber was lit by torches. Several humans and demi-humans, tied together with ropes, worked digging inside the pit and far side of the chamber. Nearly a half-dozen small, lizard-like creatures (Kobolds) “supervised” the slaves, while a human, fitting the description of the priest, Arias, oversaw the operation from the opposite side of the pit.
The Kobolds turned and moved to attack the intruders (Party)!! Arias commanded the Dwarf zombies into the fray and Aesun was nearly killed. The fight was again made more epic due to terrible die rolling. The Party chopped down the Kobolds and Zombies, forcing Arias to flee (run). Aesun immediately chased after him. After finishing the last Kobold, Aeya and Shard chased after the priest and Aesun. Krono stayed and freed the captives, discovering Aesun’s aunt, Lia among them.

With Aesun in pursuit, the priest dashed through a secret door. When Aeya and Shard arrived, the three entered though the secret door and confronted Arias.

In the center of a chamber turned bedroom, the (obviously evil) priest held Aesun’s uncle Tory captive, with knife to his throat. Arias threatened to kill his captive of the Party did not immediately leave. Aesun spring into action! The Party initiated offensive actions and Arias began cutting into the throat of Tory. Aesun, using his monk martial arts skills, closed the gap between him and the priest and his uncle. Before he could complete the “coup-de grace,” Aesun (with Hero Point) grabbed and pinned the priest with a wrist-lock, arm-bar, and finally pinned him to the ground, saving his uncle Tory.
After tying up loose ends (ie an evil priest), the Party discovered a Hextorian plot. (The priests of Hextor, god of war), who had gone into hiding after the events in Rauxes, were plotting a come-back. They had partially unearthed a “Blood Golem” (imagine an armored, armed Frankenstein monster).

They also found clues indicating the Hextorians believed a second Blood Golem was hidden in some ruins several miles north of Orred.

Episode 4: Bad Halflings and Mud Men

In the underground passages, the Party decided to try sabotaging the Blood Golem (imagine armored Frankenstein monster, powered by human blood). It took some time, but they removed the tube used to provide the golem blood.
Afterward, they rested and the next day, returned to Brookhollow with the recently freed prisoner-slaves.
At the inn, they spoke with Trill, the Halfling innkeeper about Otis. Otis was a collaborator – involved in the kidnapping of people used as slaves by the evil priest, Korlorian. Kelorian was turned over to the town constable-magistrate. No one, including love-interest Trill, had seen Otis since the previous evening. The magistrate sent message to Orred to have Kolorian picked up and transported to Orred for prosecution.
The Party heard a scream from outside and dashed out to investigate. A boy, perhaps ten years old, half-covered in mud, ran up the hill toward the inn. He explained that he and a friend were skipping stones on the mud pool at the center of town when some sort of small mud man attacked them. It hurled mud at them and his friend had been covered in mud. The Party ran down to the mud pit, where they discovered a small boy, almost completely covered in mud. Only his feet were showing.
In the mud pit, two mud-like small humanoids stood menacing. As the Party moved to rescue the mud-covered boy, the mud men began hurling blobs of mud.

The Party pulled the boy to safety and removed the mud, which would have otherwise suffocated him, and engaged the mud men in combat. Compounded (again) by very bad dice rolls, it was not easy. The Party wounded the two mud men but was forced to retreat.
After a short rest, the Party returned to the mud pit and destroyed the mud men. Shard surmised that the magical effect causing the importation of other-planar creatures was getting worse; shadow creatures were now replaced or superseded by elemental creatures.
Afterward, the Party tried to track down Otis, the Halfling who had been working with Kelorian. With Aeya’s tracking skills and a bit of luck from Aesun, they picked up his trail at the mausoleum and followed the trail for a few miles, north east to the road leading back to Orred.

The Party returned to Brookhollow to say goodbye and rest before heading back to Orred.
The next day they arrived back in Orred. Just outside the city, they passed a contingent of Dragon Guard- elite Orred guards, assigned to the most important security functions, such as VIP security, including VIP prisoner escort. The Party tried but failed to flag down the Dragon Guard as they past.

Back in the city, the Party camped at Aesun’s aunt and uncles house and then visited several shops to make purchases and gather information:
-Marmaroc's Arms & Smithy: Discussed prices for some masterwork items. Seems like a “local” shop, run by local guy.
-Walgrun's Smithy: Discussed prices for some masterwork items. Dwarf-run shop and Dwarves typically better smiths than the typical human smith.
-The Party also picked up a few tidbits of (local) information:
--From one of the slaver workers, named “Ambar”, rescued from the underground work pits, whole towns in the former North Province are being turned into undead. Locals fear an undead army invasion from the north.
-From the father of one of the boys rescued from the mud man, a fisherman was recently attacked and almost killed by some sort of water-creature, like a snake or python.

The Party decided to travel & explore the ruins north of Orred, where a second Blood golem is rumored to be hidden.

Episode 5: The Gith and Castle Ruins

The party set out from Orred, heading northeast before following the small stream north toward the marshlands. They wanted to find the purported ruins which allegedly contained another Hextorian Blood Golem.

A few hours later, as they neared the southern marshlands, the spotted vultures circling overhead- a sign that something or someone had recently died. Shard detected psionic energy. Cautiously, the approached. They soon came across the body of a Githzeria, a humanoid race that dwell in the Astral Plane. The female Githzeri had several goblin-made arrows protruding from her body but clearly she had sustained a mortal wound from something other than an arrow in her abdomen.

As Aesun checked on her wounds, she suddenly awakened and grasped Aesun’s arm. In her death gasp, she sent a psychic message. Her name was Izilzin and she had been involved in a great battle against the hated Githyanki in the Astral Plane. She suffered a mortal wound in the battle. In the middle of the battle, as she was dying, a strange votex opened, which pulled her into the Prime Plane (Oerth). She carried a powerful magical artifact, which was also pulled through the votex. As she tried to find her bearings, she was attacked by goblinoids, who took the artifact. She warned, “others will come to recover it [artifact].”

Respectfully, the Party buried her now dead body and set out to track down the goblins. Aeya quickly picked up their tracks in the muddy edges of the marsh but, as the trail entered the rocky hills a few miles away, she lost them. The Party’s (newly purchased but yet un-named) guard dog picked up the trail. The Party followed for a few miles but eventually the dog lost the scent, as well.

It was getting late; so the Party set camp and watches for the night. After an uneventful night, they headed south into the marsh to try to locate the ruins. With luck, perhaps they might even come across goblins.
A few miles into the marsh, they came across fresh human-sized footprints heading east, deeper into the marsh and, in the general direction that Aeya believed the ruins lie. The Party followed and, after a mile or so, could make out what appeared to be the remains of a castle outer wall. Stealthily, using the tall grass for concealment, Aeya and Aesun crept forward. As they neared the ruined wall, they could see a look-out, armed with a bow. The look-out had apparently not detected the stealthy duo. The crept back to inform the others.

The Party quickly devised a plan. They did not know who was with the look-out or their intent; so they would not attack. Shard and Krono, with pack mule and guard dog, would approach, posing as lost merchants. Aeya and Aesun would sneak along from the right and left flanks.

As they approached, the look-out fired an arrow that struck just ahead of Shard and Krono. The look-out warned the pair to turn back. Krono tried to bluff (“lost merchant”) but the look-out ordered two hidden Orcs to go check and “relieve the merchants” of any valuables.

Combat ensured! The marsh slowed movement, but the Party quickly dropped the Orcs. Aeya fired a pair of arrows dropping on of the hated creatures. As the Orcs dropped, the look-out retreated, with Aesun in close pursuit.
Aesun pursed the human around the edges of a deeper area of marshy water. Suddenly a giant frog sprang from the water and attacked Aesun’s quarry. A second giant frog sprang to attack Aesun.
The others arrived and joined in combat against the man and the frogs. Aesun quickly finished off the frog but the man had not been so lucky. The frogs long and powerful tongue held him. The Party finished off the last frog and Aesun knocked the guy out before he could attack or get away.

A short time later, when he regained consciousness, the Party began interrogating the human man. Samran the Archer was a mercenary from Orred. He had been hired Kyra, a Hextorian priestess, to help locate some relic in the ruins of the castle. (Shard new from bits an pieces of information he had heard and read that the ruins [Castle Rax] were once the home of the noble family Rax. House Rax had been killed or died off some 150 years ago. The surrounding lands were said to be cursed- crops could not grow in the areas and, even before the events in Rauxes, there were no known human/demi-human settlements nearby.)
Kyra had also hired the Orcs, along with two other mercenaries. She and the other two Mercenaries, Amiri Skullcrusher, a huge & brutal woman, and Delrian the Half Elf, an insane & masochistic “Half-Breed,” had entered the ruins of a fallen tower. Samran and the Orcs had been left to watch for and intruders.

The Party quickly debated Samran’s fate and decided to relieve him of his valuables, except a dagger and gold coin, and release him. Samran (regretfully) thanks the Party for their mercy and set off. Almost immediately a giant frog emerged to attack Samran, who quickly changed direction and ran from the creature before it could bite or catch him with its tongue. Samran ran and them fell into a pit that opened in the center of the ruined walls.

The Party carefully peered down and saw Samran’s crumpled body some 30 feet below. Using grappling hook and knotted ropes, the Party climbed down into what appeared to be circular chamber. Samran was dead, his neck broken in the fall through an old rotted ceiling trap door. The Party seemed to be inside a tower that had sunk below the marsh. Other than the bits of wood, mud, cobwebs, and Samran’s body, the room was empty, except for a trapdoor in the floor.
The Party opened the trap doors and followed a short circular staircase down. The stairs entered a small cob-web filled room. The was a door and a single skull on the floor. As Aeasun stepped down, the skull began rolling toward him. He stepped back onto the stairs. The skull rolled to the base of the stairs and rolled over, it’s teeth clacking together as if attempting to bite. (Krono spoke to the “angry little skull” which responded with clacking teeth. Krono approached and carefully inserted a dagger into the mouth of the skull. The teeth clamped down firmly onto the blade, even when Krono lifted up the dagger. Finding the animated skull interesting, Krono stuck the skull, with dagger in mouth, into a sack and into his backpack.

The Party cautiously opened the door, which led into a semi-circular bedroom. There was a large rotted bed, writing desk, and wardrobe. An open window was filled with earth/mud.
The Party opened the wardrobe to inspect inside. A small doll-like creature, a halfling-sized golem lunged from the wardrobe and, wielding a morning star attached to it’s arm, attacked. After a few smacks, the Party quickly destroyed the creature, which appeared to be a rudimentary (early??) Blood Golem.

The Party explored and found a few salvageable valuables in the desk drawers, which were trapped. Shard’s hand was pricked by a poisoned needle but fortunately the poison had weakened over the many years. There was another door. TBC....

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