Rise of the Runelords, Session 6: Burnt Offerings

Last night, we rejoined the group as they returned from Shank's Wood with Ilsoari's spyglass, as well as some other nifty trinkets, in hand. Upon returning the spyglass, Ilsoari granted them their promised reward, three vouchers from the General Store for 100 gp each!

With their new writs of credit, they headed out, gathering for a short time at the cathedral so that Rissi could identify the items they had obtained, and separating the goods among themselves and designating those they would like to sell. Once this was hashed out, the three went their separate ways, agreeing to meet in the morning.

The next day, the group converged and decided they would try their luck selling things deemed unnecessary/unwanted to Vorvashali at The Feathered Serpent. Rissi took her writ to the General Store, but the boys stayed to deal with Voon, and the eccentric wizard offered them a fair price for their items, but they ended up trading a few things, as well as Walt and Vic's General Store vouchers, for Walt a new shield.

After running a few errands, the guys saw a plume of smoke at the north side of town and immediately made their way toward it to discover that The Way North (a map and atlas shop) and an adjacent house was on fire! Racing to the scene, the two were accosted in the street by a bugbear and a few goblins, which they defeated fairly handily, though Vic had taken a few good licks from the goblinoids. Others, including a few spellcasters, showed up shortly and were able to successfully combat the fires by conjuring water.

When Rissi was leaving the General Store, she also heard news of passing, panicking townsfolk of the fire in the north of town and began to rush to the scene, to be accosted by goblins of her own, one of which caused a grievous wound to her shoulder with an arrow, but the clever alchemist put her foes down with powerful bombs.

Walt and Vic had taken the bugbear captive, and Vic was taking him to the garrison when he encountered Rissi, who decided to venture further to catch up with Walt, to gain healing for her shoulder and aid how she could in the fire relief.

Vic, however, came upon an alarming scene as he approached the garrison. The heavy reinforced door was wide open and the guard posted just inside was asleep, only being roused by vigorously shaking him. Vic ran toward the goal, to find the jailor, Vachedi, also asleep and in danger, with a dog-sized spider creeping toward him and two goblins capering around the room. Vic immediately engaged the goblins and was able to put them down quick and to kill the spider before it did too much harm, though it had gotten a bite in on Vachedi first.

Vic alerted the rest of the garrison, which was unaware of what had transpired in the gaol, and the attendant guards (though few they are) jumped to action, searching for Tsuto Kaijitsu (a local forsaken noble that had banded with someone who was apparently a demoness) and Erylium (a quasit in league with Tsuto and his compatriots somehow), prisoners the party had taken earlier, who had seemed to escape! Clerks were also sent as runners to alert the Mayor and to gather Walt, Rissi, and others of import who might be of help/needed to be informed.

After the situation had gotten under control and circumstances and knowledge considered, the party resolved to immediately depart for Thistletop, a goblin compound on an island a couple hours to the north, where they knew that Tsuto's demoness was mustering goblins and others for the destruction of Sandpoint (this according to Tsuto's journal). Upon arrival, the party saw that a boat that they had spotted earlier was no longer moored to the island, and thatthe goblins had painted lewd and humiliating cariactures of the group running away in parody of their departure from the site on their previous venture. The most important thing, though, was that the rope bridge they had cut on a previous venture was still down, though they fixed it with their Rope of Knots (basically a cooler rope of climbing).

When we cut for the night, the party was about to venture onto Thistletop!

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 4 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi, Ratfolk Alchemist 4 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 4 - David

Notes: The jaunt to Shank's Wood that they were returning from at the start of the session was a combination of the side-treks from Pathfinder comics #1 and #3. I've been enhancing the adventure path with more content here and there because, even though there are only three of them, the party has been lagging slightly in experience and in gear. This gives me a chance to not only establish the setting more, and so far set up some great roleplaying opportunities, but to fairly tightly control the PCs' advancement without trying to shoehorn content into awkward places only presented in the published adventures.

Also, it was really neat seeing the reactions of the group when they encountered the fire and the attack on the garrison. There was anger and worry conveyed when I hurt "their town", and the roleplay was really nice. I can't wait for them to storm Thistletop.


Reconciling the Keep's Past With its Other Past and the Present

I know that title sound awkward, but what I mean by it is that I'm having a slight problem as I flesh out Bugbear Falls. The problem lies in the fact that I'm using the classic B2: Keep on the Borderlands module as my base, layering over Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, and then taking what has transpired in my previous Wilderlands games and reconciling those two sources with how things are currently.

I hadn't considered using Return to the Keep on the Borderlands until about 3 months ago, so I began to read it and slowly flesh out the NPCs that hadn't shifted roles between it and the original module, and who were still in their posts as of the present in my Wilderlands game.

Then I began to explore exactly how population would have changed in my game, taking that data and laying over the information about food stores and such (since MY Keep is experiencing vast food shortages thanks to the blight and famine) and deciding exactly how that would be handled, as well as replacing some character or another with the choice I find more interesting of the two from either module.

The issue with the food stores, I think, bothers me more than any other. In the updated "Return" module, the parade grounds in front of the Keep proper have been turned into gardens, and a couple of the towers along the wall house livestock, etc.. Now, where I have problems with this is that the wife of the Castellan is a very devout follower of Famine, the Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Would a ruler that follows famine keep food stores like this? I can argue no easily, but I'm more interested in if there is a "yes" in this debate. I suppose that the nobles (who have almost all converted to Famine worship) could keep the stores to themselves, thereby promoting famine amongst those who are without - most of the populace - or that they are somehow blessed since they aren't experiencing the blight that the common farmers are, etc.

Further, some of the NPCs that are in the "Return" module are very flavorful, but I would like to avoid two things that I can see easily cropping up: 1) overpopulation. The town has been hit hard by famine and blight, and I don't want it to be bustling when people should be wanting to leave. 2) I don't want the stereotypical "look at how awesome my NPCs are" town filled with person after person with multiple levels in PC classes. Something akin to the DMG breakdown is what I'm after. I'll need to check that out.

Anyway, I'll be revisiting that kind of stuff soon, as well as some other ideas I have for a multitude of other games, as well as shooting off some notes on my current Rise of the Runelords campaign.

I've also been thinking about doing the A to Z design blog marathon, and I'm unsure exactly what I'm going to focus on there, be it my Khardtha setting or Wilderlands. We'll see!

Rise of the Runelords, Sessions 1-5: Burnt Offerings

As mentioned previously in my Morale System posts, I've put my Wilderlands game on hiatus and have started a Pathfinder game using the first Adventure Path published for that line.

Angela, David, Paul and I got together on September 19th to make characters for the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. Since there are only three players, I allowed them a bonus feat (chosen from the RotR Player's Guide), two traits, and 200 gp to start. Using my standard method of rolling (4d6, 7 times, no rerolls, four 1's is a four, four 6's is a 19), everyone quickly put together their characters and we were able to resolve the first three encounters before we called it a night.

This, I thought, was really amazing, and it shows the fine level of my group that everyone can have their character made, go through a text-heavy intro with role-play, and resolve three combat encounters with more rp in between all in the span of about 4 and a half hours. This has been a recurring theme, as well, as the group has really made strides in the game, not allowing lulls, even in downtime.

After the Swallowtail Festival opened the game, and helping to quash an attack on their hometown of Sandpoint by goblins, they were invited to meet with a visiting noble named Aldern Foxglove to obtain a reward for his rescue. The reward took the form of a hunting invite and the gift of horses and lances to perform the hunt with, as well as a shared meal with Aldern at the Rusty Dragon.

The PCs quickly inserted themselves into the action by taking up tasks with Father Zantus and Sheriff Hemlock, providing further aid by trying to help a woman whose son had been assaulted by a goblin, though she lost her husband in the ordeal. The group also cleared a small group of goblins from Junk Beach, where the town tosses their garbage.

So far, their duties as deputies of the town have also led them to investigate a large underground ruin beneath the Glassworks (after finding that a local noble of the family that owned the factory was in league with the goblins and had slain his father and kidnapped his sister), where they encountered strange warped humanoids known as 'wrath spawn," according to the local sage, as well as a quasit, whom they detained since they didn't have the ability to inflict harm upon her.

After finding evidence of conspiracy between the detained noble (one Tsuto Kaijitsu) and the Thistletop goblin tribe, the PCs were led to travel north to curtail further attacks by goblins by cutting off their route to the mainland after an assault that dwindled some of the number of the goblin forces by a score, almost.

After their trip to Thistletop, the group came back and took on a task issued by the Headmaster of the local academy, but have yet to return from that trip.

Thoughts: I'm really liking this! The party has cultivated good relations with various NPCs that have led to them knowing a bit more than they should at this point, but it is a deserved reward for smart playing. In addition, the PCs have begun to form strong bonds to the community and have had many good roleplaying encounters (like Walt and Shayliss Vender's budding romance) that have solidified this as a game I won't soon forget.

This campaign is shaping up to be really fun and I will try to keep up with the games as they happen from now on, so that I'm not just giving broad brushstrokes like today's post in the future.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Human Cleric 4 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi, Ratfolk Alchemist 4 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 4 - David

The Age of Worms, Sessions 10-14

It's been quite some time since I posted a session recap, and honestly, the details have been a little fuzzy lately, but what I can say is that we're still in the same dungeon complex after 5 full session of play since the last recap, and have now entered a maze populated by kenku.

This has been a complete slog for us, and has caused all of the players to check out at certain points, but the kenku encounters and entering a new section of the catacombs has seemed to give us another boost to enthusiasm, and hopefully I will have quite a bit more to report next session.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Cast of Characters
Sagt, Varag 4 (Racial levels) - Me
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 2/Wizard 2 - Paul
Rosebud, Gnome Warmage 4 - Paul (we're allowed to have 2 characters)
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 4 - David
Xan, Maenad Duskblade 4 - Andrew (David has been playing him with Andrew's absence of late)