I've been absent for some time from the blog, but gaming has continued. I'll be catching up (hopefully) with some short session reports on the games I've not posted yet and I still have a few other articles swimming in my head for when I get caught up.
This write-up is coming to you over a month after the actual session took place, so if I flub somewhere, maybe one of my players will swoop in with any corrections.
When we left off, Walt had just followed a mesenger-trained raven to its roost in the Underbridge district of Magnimar, to a rickety-looking clock tower. The cleric then made hast back to the rest of the party and reported his findings. Not wanting to let the villains no doubt holed up in the tower get mobilized to further their plans any more, the party made haste to the tower, set to enter and put an end to the murders that have gripped their part of Varisia!
Therein, the group found the place to be empty save for a pile of rags and refuse in the corner, a wagon, and an iron staircase leading up to the belfry, which they began to approach after a cursory search of adjoining rooms that were also empty. However, the base of the tower was occupied, after all, as the group found out when the pile of rags stood to almost twice the height of a man and brandished a weapon! The scarecrow-looking man began to mumble its eponymous rhyme as it began to attack the heroes, but quick action took the monster down with little injury to the PCs.
At this point, they reckoned (after a little investigation) that the scarecrow-man was nothing but a guardian construct, and thus began to traverse the floors of stairs leading up to the top of the tower. The going was slow, due to the questionable sturdiness of the stairs, but the group devised a system and began to make their way up to the top when one of the bells came cascading down the tower, slamming into most of the party on its descent or in its roll after landing. Only Walt escaped being struck by the heavy structure, but was there with healing to aid his companions that had been pummeled.
Using the Rope of Knots to bridge the gap in the stairs caused by the bell, the rest of the party ventured forward, with those leading the pack engaged in combat with some faceless stalkers, who had originally been disguised as tied up captives. These nuisances (the third group of these things encountered in the campaign!) were quickly dispatched and the party made their way to the roof, where they were ambushed by Xanesha!
The lamia's strength, suite of spells cast, and repitoire of spells at hand, as well as diversionary tactics proved too much for our heroes as Hyrum and Walt engaged and fell, followed by Rissi and Natsha, with Vic living at the end, corrupted by a charm spell cast by the Mistress of the Brotherhood, his fate, and that of the missing Elspeth, forever a mystery...
Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 7 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul (deceased)
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 7 - Angela (deceased)
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 7 - David (whereabouts unknown)
Elspeth, Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker) 7 - Tami (whereabouts unknown)
Hyrum Vassal, Chelaxian Human Tyrant (LE Antipaladin variant) 4 of Urgathoa/Monk 3 - David (secondary) (deceased)
Natasha Caine, Chelaxian Human Rogue 5/Assassin 2 - Angela (secondary) (deceased)
Final thoughts: Well, the TPK (we counted it as one) was somewhat unexpected. I had read all I could about the adventure path on the Paizo forums and in blogs, and I knew that Xanesha was pretty much the encounter that would give PCs the most trouble. Still, with their track record up to that point, it was a little shocking, especially when they started to turn things around mid-way through the combat.
All in all, though, I think it was fun. Though Rise of the Runelords is kinda meant to run you through the major tropes of fantasy rpgs, it's still fun, and that's what mattered to us in the end, though since this Rise of the Runelords and Taylor's Curse of the Crimson Throne games are canon in my Golarion, we might revist the fates of the fallen heroes at a later time.
Since we TPK'd in my game, David started running the Dark Heresy trilogy of adventures called The Haarlock Legacy. Much fun! More on that later.