Rise of the Runelords

Master of the Fallen Fortress
The Stress Test

Players Present

Jason – Grizzly Adams
Ryan – Jaigo Mongongwa
Caleb – Sun Time
Lon -Gandalf
Barret – Brion Baeli

Session News

We were joined by two new players – Lon and Barrett Murphy. They had been invited to our previous session but had to cancel. The session began with Jason, Lon, and Barrett starting character creation. They made significant progress, and we were able to begin the stress test before all the minor details had been figured out.

The Play’s the Thing…

Introduction

Having heard rumors that a nearby sealed siege castle had recently been opened by a minor earthquake, the party headed to investigate, hoping to be the first into the tower, which people are calling the “Fallen Fortress”

The tower was five stories tall. Only the top story was left completely intact, the earthquake having caused most of the east side of the tower to collapse. It contained no windows or doors, explaining why no one had been inside in centuries.

Beset by dogs

As the party stood at the base of the tower preparing to go inside, Grizzly Adams heard some rustling in some nearby bushes. After he called for whoever was in the bushes to show themselves, the party was beset by wild dogs, which were quickly dispatched.

Exploring the first floor of the tower, the party slew a spider the size of a man, and discovered that the stairs had become blocked by all the rubble created by the earthquake; further progress would require scaling the outside of the tower.

With no skilled climbers in the party, and few having brought climbing gear, the climb was a challenge. Eventually Grizzly Adams reached the second floor, where he secured a rope for the rest of the party to climb. Unfortunatly, Gandalf still had difficulty climbing up, and became unconscious after falling a couple times. After receiving some aid from other members of the party he was able to finish the climb.

Betrayal from within

The party moved into the southern room of this floor, which appeared to have been left undisturbed for a very long time, but on closer examination, Grizzly Adams discovered some tracks at the north-west door, and Sun Time discovered a trap in the same location. Sun Time chose to share this info with Jaigo Mongongwa and Adrian Monk, but not Grizzly Adams and Gandalf.

Grizzly Adams could tell that Sun Time was sharing a secret, and became concerned that members of the party were keeping secrets about discoveries in the tower. As Grizzly Adams was learning that a secret about the tower was being kept from him, Gandalf chucked a rock into the space that everybody was so intent on, triggering the trap without harming anyone.

Offended that Sun Time refused to share information about a trap with him, and concerned about what this meant for his future safety, Grizzly Adams chose to leave the party – and the tower – immediately, taking his climbing rope with him.

Moving forward

Continuing without him, the party moved to the west room tower, where they slew two young smelly troglodytes.

Rules issues

During the evening I discovered that I need to reacquaint myself with the combat rules, as there were some disagreements between myself and members of the party concerning the mechanics of a couple rules.

What follows is a summary of the disagreements and a ruling determined after the session by looking the rules up in the PRD.

Critical Hits

A player said that natural 20’s were an automatic crit, I thought they were just an automatic hit and still required another roll to confirm crit.

Ruling: A natural 20 is an automatic hit, and a critical threat. Another roll is still required to determine if the attack is a critical hit.

Withdraw

A player said withdraw is a 5-foot step that doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. I thought it was a full round action that allowed a reduced move to leave combat without provoking an attack of opportunity. I was not able to remember the details.

Ruling: Withdraw is a full round action that let’s you move up to double your speed (the equivalent of two move actions) without provoking attacks of opportunity when moving from the starting square.

Next session

Our next session would normally be on October 31, but a significant number of players are not available on that weekend, so it was decided we will not meet again until November 13th. I have since noticed that November 13th is a Thursday, so I am adjusting the date to November 14th.

Because of the length of time between now and the next session, we will dispense with the rest of the stress test and begin The Rise of the Runelords. It is expected that all Player Characters will be completed prior.

During the next four weeks players should use the forums to establish their backgrounds, including if any players knew each other prior to the beginning of the adventure.

Short story background can be found at The Story So Far

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The Story So Far
Story setup for the adventure

Five years ago a church for Desna in the town of Sandpoint burned down during The Late Unpleasantness, a time of tragedy for Sandpoint. A new church has been erected at the same site, and is ready to be consecrated during the Swallowtail Festival. You are in town to join in the festivities.

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Three Days with Loony
...an object lesson in Level One party dynamics

Mongongwa just shook his head in disbelief. Staring at the unconscious monk, rope laid sprawled over the body, Jaigo just continued to throw stones. Brion Baeli’s attempt at climbing the craggy cliff face was at once both humorous and telling of the futile attempts the party had in obtaining gainful employment. They had tried the past few days to inquire about all various rumors.

At first, their quick recognition as local heroes in fighting off the goblins earned them a loaf of bread and other admiration. Auron in particular caught the eye of a local shop keep’s daughter. Sadly, prices are now double for the group because of his apparent approach of equal interest or lack there of.

There was the strange brew incident where the brother knightly lost his mojo to make quality ale five years after his brother’s death, thanks to the chopper.

A farmer was ranting about a devil taking cattle. Between the belligerent calling for more libations and fragments of the story, the group determined this a point of interest sometime in the future.

The group was also called by Sheriff Hemlock to assist with the disappearance of a clergy man’s body. The resident ranger attempted to track the small group, unsuccessful

At last, sir fancy pants decided to host a boar hunt with the adventures by buying them all steeds. Paid friends or hired security, this should be interesting tomorrow

At least he knew they had four more days of free room and board before being turned out once more.

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Knock Knock!
How I earned Level Two

The group both cautiously and cavalier like approached the glass works to look into the windows and admire the curtains. The building stood unusually quite but smoke steamed from its stacks. A workday, the front door remained locked. A stranger from across the street says that no body has been seen coming out of the building recently. The door looks solid but is nothing for Auron’s lockpicks. The group enters slowly and rushing. Jaigo kicks the half open door open to the groups dismay. It was a shop room with a counter but no welcoming committee. “poor customer service.” Jaigo remarked. “do you hear the furnaces?” Bryan replied. The roar was a dull din behind the doors but markedly loud for being such.

Both Auron and Bleeden open separate doors, further proof of the groups scattered strategy. Following the Ranger’s initiative, the group follows looking for the missing inn keeper. Auron is unaware as he wanders another hall by his own. The group discovers the dinning room a mess. Stepping pass the littered ransacked hall, the group proceeds to the next room. A meeting room of sorts, this room is kept tidy with plans on the table. Jaigo inspects the gnatt charts but finds nothing useful along with Bleeden. The Magi focuses his skills at detecting magic below. Not particularly useful either. Following the sounds of the furnace, the group kicks open the next set of doors. The loud sound of the furnace room is matched by a shocking display of goblin fetishes. Dismembered humans and chard corpses litter the factory floor with a number of goblins in free blood frenzy. The group immediately breaks into diplomacy, “Charge!” Bleeden shouts.

Jaigo stands over the slain goblin steadily pushing his spear tip into and out of the lifeless bag. Bleeden accesses the dead in the factory, hoping somebody survived. Brion interrogates the last remaining goblin. No sign of the tavern keeper but her father’s remains lay in a state of aventgarde glass works. Auron takes a break and sips his mysterious beverage. Calmar helps with the goblin questioning. Soon they found a way downstairs. But before that, Jaigo disposes of the goblin in the furnace.

The basement seemed a dead end with the exception of a strange cooridor. They did find a half elf asleep and a locked door. The hobbit failed to impress the party blaming the lock. Bleeden awakens the half elf by the blade of his sword. He asks a question with no reply from the awoken. “Tie him up.” Bleeden commands. Calmar objects using his good silk rope on the prisoner long enough for Bleeden to deliver an evil eye of his own.

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Ranseurs and Wrath
or The Vomitous Soiling of a Loincloth

After Bleeden defeated the ectoplasmic being, he took up the ranseur and returned from the direction he had come. Shortly, he came upon his companions, who were in search of him. Quickly relating the tale of his battle, the adventurers continued down the tunnel to where the battle took place.

Finding nothing of interest in the small chamber, their explorations continued. A small distance further the tunnel once again branched, with the northern tunnel ending in a visible breach into a constructed room. Deciding the room used to be a storage room of little import (based on the debris), they opened a door that led further into the complex, Brion taking point.

On the other side of the door they found a winding hall. Continuing West at the first junction, they found themselves staring at a north facing statue. The statue was comprised of red marble and featured “a strikingly beautifull, but … monstrously enraged human woman” who carried a book with a strange seven pointed star and a ranseur made of glittering metal and ivory. To the North, stairs led up, while to the South was an opening rejoining with the tunnel they were following earlier, and to the West was wooden door.

After determining they knew nothing about the woman in the statue, or the symbol on her book, they listened at the door and heard two voices arguing in strange tongue. Bursting through the door, the party found themselves on a platform overlooking a prison cell block. On the floor below were two more ectoplasmic beings.

Without wasting time, Brion ran along a walkway and flung himself over a rail, using the walkway to pivot at the last moment a deliver a painful kick to the face of the first target, while Bleeden through his recently acquired ranseur into the body of the other. Calmar struck one with a stream of ice, while the actions of Aarohn and Jaigo were immemorable to the narrator of this account. Swiftly mounting the stairs, the nearest foe sank his teeth into Jaigo’s leg, upon which Jaigo became so filled with rage that he immediately began to vomit, and continued to do so while his companions dispatched with their foes.

After noting that the walkway seemed to be preserved by ancient magic, the party followed it North to an ancient torture chamber, who’s implements were decayed beyond use. Opening a door to the East, they discovered a study with three doors leading to prison cells containing odd, misshapen humanoid skeletons. A quick spell to reveal local magic directed Calmar to a scroll hidden under a chair.

With Jaigo now recovered from his vomiting spell, everyone returned to the Torture chamber, and then continued through the northern door, descending a short staircase leading to a room with several covered pits. Prompted by soft moaning sounds emanating from the pits, the group opened one to reveal a zombie 20 feet below at the bottom. Scanning for magic revealed that the zombies were being preserved by some spell, but it quickly became apparent that it did not prevent them from being destroyed.

After dispensing with the zombies, the party filed down a hallway, noticing that a magic aura was issuing beyond a doorway at the end of the hall. Before arriving at the door, party turned North to discover a stairwell leading down, but completely blocked by fallen rubble.

Several members of the party have decided they need to clear the stairs and make their way down.

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The Rise and Fall of Jaigo Mongwangi
...and nearly a TPK

Jaigo peered into the damp corridor shifting his eyes in the darkness. Several steps the stair well trickled with rain water. Mulling his prospects, the witch doctor called to his companions, “Stairs here!” He started his climb down without wait. Bledden did his best to steadily follow. Aaroun scampered next with Brion, Cal, and Anna in tow.

The beat of steady rain changed to a small din as the pathway rounded towards a warm glow of candle light. Cautiously the pack approached and investigated. The room was rather plain but nothing like the makeshift fort above, it was much older. Six doors lined the room in all directions, a pile of dog hides in the corner. The group fanned out to check each. As quiet as allowed, Bledden ventured to the far wall where three doors stood. Suddenly a large creature burst into the room, furry patches growing out of its hastily donned armor, its facial features pig like in nature. The bugbear announced himself with a roar. Immediately the witch doctor began his hexes. Frenzied moments passed too quickly. The warriors converged to attack while the spellcasters conserved their energy with ranged assaults. Growls and snorts of intimidation were not enough and soon it was obvious the bugbear had underestimated the adventures. The ranger finished the beast off with a powerful charge sending the creature across the room, barely missing Aaroun.

Relieved, the party looted the body and secured the beast’s room discovering his harem of four goblins. Not having time to risk release or interrogate, the best option was to lock them in an ancillary room. Further investigation of the doors revealed more corridors and other doors. There was an obvious fixation for privacy of whoever built the complex, Jaigo thought. “More doors?” was what he said. The only thing of interest were two stone double doors. What must be behind there must be important the shaman pondered. Taking the lead and ignoring the rest of the group, he braced himself against the doors and pushed them open with swagger. A mistake soon equal to the bugbear’s results.

Monstrous hounds flew towards Jaigo. His immediate thought was which hex to start. Brion and Bledden readied themselves for attack. Anna began to think about the situation but then began feeling a sense of dread instead. Fear filled her every thought. Dropping her crossbow and bolting herself into another room. Cal witnessed both the yath hounds snapping from his left and Anna’s retreat to the right. Aaroun stood indecisive. The confidence of the adventures shrunk as they began to realize each attack was barely scratching the beasts. Then the dogs began to trip them. The strange beasts would certainly kill them if they fell. Jaigo felt a sense of responsibility for getting his party into this mess. “One chance” he thought. Pulling the twig like wand out of his… hat, Jaigo began to cast a spell from the wand. He leapt into the air, expecting to transform into a large enough tree to block the hounds from harming his friends. He instead felt flat against the cold ground. Despair filled his heart for the first and final time before the hound’s teeth sunk deep into it. The last heart beats could be felt slowly like eternity. Brion fell. He could hear Cal’s conflict between chasing down Anna or helping out Brion and he while attacking another beast. Aaroun had disappeared and Bledden was pushing past a strange man to reach him. It was all too late. He was on his way to Pharasma.


Orik felt the rush and pulse of the battle still in his veins. It has been some time since he killed something. It was frutuitous the adventures had come along. He had hope that escape from his contract would come soon. He was worried the waiting had dulled his senses. Carnage all around him, just as he liked it. His assessment was quick of the party. A bookworm, spellworm, monkworm, clawworm, and a peck. Then there was a dead naked enthusiast with a top hat. The party had grieved for about five seconds over the death of “Jaigo!” as the ranger had called him before literally stripping the shiny loin cloth and handing it to the peck. “A memento?” he thought. Thinking on what he should say, Orik decided that telling them his real name might be risky. Best to use an alias. Sheathing his sword, the fighter introduced himself. “The name is Bad… Bad Bartigan. I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived.”

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Loot from Lyre and Tsuto

5 scrolls

  1. Scroll of Comprehend Languages
  2. Scroll of Minor Image
  3. Scroll of See Invisibility
  4. Scroll of Sleep
  5. Scroll of Whispering Wind
    dagger – 1gp 2sp
    Cloak of Resistance +1
    Everburning Torch
    fancy dress – 18gp
    pouch of artifacts – 3 sp for the pouch itself (the artifacts were mostly things like hair and fingernail clippings from Tsuto that Lyrie had been collecting).
    pearl earring – 30 gp
    Spell book
    ~5 lbs gold – 278 gp
    3pp

potion
composite short bow (+1) – 90 gp
mw flute – 60 gp
mw thief tool
pearl earring – 30 gp
6 gold dust pouch – 50 gp each
8 silver dust pouch – 5 gp each
10pp

mw scimitar – 189 gp
jade necklace – 36 gp
chain shirt – 60 gp
mw manacles
pouch full of malachite – 34 gp
fine gown – 90 gp
petty change ~ 150 lbs cp, 50 lbs sp, 89 gp, 3 pp

Cal, Anne please identify.

EDIT by Deg: Prices are complete

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A New Contract
How to make friends and influence people

Bad Bartigan grinded his teeth, something he did when he was frustrated. Bledden had felt the need to tend to the wounded mare for some reason. Meanwhile, Cal did not believe Bad when he said the secret was behind the commode. Auron was either adventurous enough or a connoisseur of bad hygiene as he looked for the secret panel that revealed the locked chest in the room beyond. Greed filled his eyes as he took his lock pick to the device. “Ouch!” exclaimed the Halfling, holding his hand in blood. Anna reviewed the damage, “It looks like I can clean it but I cannot tell if it was poisoned or else…” Auron’s eyes grew to saucer size in anxiety. These distractions gave Bad a chance to lead the group down the anterior stairwell, where they might be able to catch Tsuto off guard. He had plans to make the most of his new found friends, revenge and jealousy just seemed appropriate today. Once down stairs, they scoured the planning room. The door leading downward was blocked from the other side. They would have to look at that later.

Heading to the chapel, the group was soon able to investigate the statue to Lamatshu and the foul decorations of the shrine. The back door did not reveal anything unusual for a dungeon. They found the torture chamber devoid of actual torture. The group had apparently done a rather good job cleaning out the goblins from the day before. They decided to return to the blocked door.

Bledden took a mighty heave at the portal. pushing back the lock and stacked furniture behind preventing entry into the room. Immediately a painful energy filled his body and he staggered and struggled to support his weight. The battle began. The group prepared to pull the enemy into the larger room but when that did not work, Bad Bartigan stood up and entered into the room with the evil monk. “Come at me!” howled the sword lord. The monk quickly tried to hit the greatest swordsman that ever lived. His speed was no match to Bad’s awesomeness. Providing cover, Bad Bartigan allowed the party to move by him to chase down the magi. “Be careful with her, she is mine!” his words following their heels. Bledden was not feeling well enough to care at that point.

Brion ran down the woman and engaged her, only to be thwarted by mirror images. Cal did equal attempts to reduce the defenses of the magi. Anna prepared to counter the next magi spell, it never came. Instead Bledden bounded down the stairs, after the magi that had made him feel so inferior. He landed hard against the wall leaping through a magic image. She disappeared around the corner. Brion ran straight into the new room cutting the magi’s opportunity to escape. Anna took control of the situation and casted a spell that would reveal the enemy. Lit like a holiday rocket, Bledden stepped forward to deliver the killing blow to the magi.

Meanwhile, Auron could feel the pressure building as he was unable to hit the monk and his lightning fighting. The monk also began to focus on Auron, being the far easier creature to hit. Bad Bartigan tried slipping up the warrior by kicking a few items under the monk’s feet. Successful, the monk backed himself in a corner. The battle was over as soon as it was clear the monk would die by his wounds. Cleaning his blade, Bad motioned to Bledden, “Did you find my fire woman?” Bledden stood.


“It is so hard to explain to people that Dread Pirate Roberts might have been the best swordsman in the world but that he was no match for the greatest swordsman that ever lived. Understand the difference?” Bad Bartigan mused to Brion once more. Brion clearly thought Bad had too much the night before to be making any sense this morning.

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Boss Fight
Two ways to kill a monk, but you are going to need three

Aron only opened the door once the group was ready bows in hand, spirits raised. The corridor, dimly lit, was ominous in its glow. The party shuffled forward in curiosity. At the far end of the call stood a bifurcated statue of someone long gone, flanked by two stout doors. THere were two similar alcoves closer holding menacing men with glaives. Before them stood a section of the floor different than the others. It beckoned investigation. Aron knelt low, expecting the mechanism to spring at his touch. Sure enough, two portcullises dropped down to ensnare the unsuspecting. The statues seemingly came to life as they struck down their blades against the floor until it fell away, revealing a deep pit. The halfling felt especially accomplished for detecting the device and disabling the mechanism safely for others.

The party shuffled down the remainder of the hall. Stopping at the two doors, both the rogue and ranger took time listening beyond the barrier. Bledden responded in the negative. Meanwhile, Aron detected faint shuffling beyond his portal.

At this point it is proper to mention nobody can tell what goes through a hobbits head when they have an idea. It is best described by the result, both fantastic like bacon flavored ice cream and inconceivable such as Aron’s idea…

The hobbit’s eyes grew, looking back to his companions. A flash of confusion washed over them as the hobbit began speaking draconic as menacing as a three foot creature could. Bad Bartigan rolled his fortitude save not to laugh. Encouraging the haflings thinking, Calmar initiated a strange roar of beasts. Who ever was behind the door would either be not impressed or rolling on the floor laughing. The element of suprise was lost to madness. “Oh well,” Bad said to himself. “Here goes nothing, Aaarg!”, he led rushing through the door, war face and all.

Immediately the group felt the same terror that filled them facing the pair of Yath hounds. There was only one dog this time but commanded by a beautiful angel of demonic scars. It was her! Brion rushed into position for flanking while the hound let out a howl. Anne felt the tinges of fear but was able to push back the urge to run this time. She could see Bledden’s panic and knew he was not so lucky. Motioning to Calmar, Anna coordinated to keep the warrior from running off to regions unknown. Somehow, the magus was able to hold the stout ranger long enough for the cleric to cast a hold spell. First crisis avoided.

Bad stepped into the room, deftly dodging both the yath hound and evil cleric’s attack attempts. A confident smile, smug even, filled his grin as he trashed down a solid hit against the mistress of the keep. Aron followed up with a well placed sling stone that cracked bone where it struck. Brion attempted to penetrate the fell cleric’s defences but each blow glanced off her, one erringly striking Bad in the arm. Then the evil cleric took retribution, severly wounding the monk and then felling him. Things began to look dire.

Anna felt it was not the best situation but decided to channel her positive energy into saving Brion. This also had equal effect on Nutela. Aron was not having success with the attacks, so he helped contain Bledden as he awoke from his hold. Calmar found his energy to deliver true attacks against the fell one. Energy rippled over her skin, some being absorbed and only causing samll burn marks. Calmar and Bad then began shifting their position to flank her. Meanwhile, the yath hound attempted attacks in vain. Focusing her attack, Nutela strikes at the monk in rage for his insolence of breathing again. Deja vu over came Brion, the spiral path of Pharasma once more in front of him, if only for a few seconds, before he could feel the touch on his chest. “Jaigo?” questioned the monk. It was really Bartigan applying troll septic to the wound, which quickly began to regenerate ever so slow. Somehow he dodged the evil cleric’s blows while doing so. She grew in her vexation.

Anna loaded the cross bow with the silver bolt and took aim. A critical strike to the yath hound struck the animal dumb and incapacitated. Fortune began to shine on the group. Bledden, having come to his senses, rushed back to the group. Flashbacks of Jaigo’s death filled his mind seeing Brion down. “Not this time!” resolved the ranger, moving into position to supply a potion to the prone monk. “Just play dead,” was the ranger’s recommendation as Bartigan and Calmar dealt with the Aisimar’s attacks. The fighter made a show by spouting poetry about a rainbow of pain, but then proceeded to miss. Then Anna got an idea…

The problem with thrown weapons is that they bounce around if the miss their target. This happens a lot when the table is rolling sub-ten.

Three tanglefoot bags later, Brion is moving half his speed which keeps up with half the party. Calmar is glued to the floor. And Nutela is escaping through an obscuring mist and last ditch invisibility draught. Anna tried caltrops, Bledden tried one last tanglefoot bag, and yet Bad was able to place himself between the door and the hallway beyond, only to feel a small breeze past by. Was she still in the room? He shut the door hedging his bet. It was a fruitless search. She had escaped. Meanwhile the party counted their blessings and took note of the next time.

Aron broke the party’s exasperation, “I am going back to the room to check for gold, I mean loot. No, traps! That is what i mean traps, yes…” the halfing flared his fingers together mischievous.

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Inbetween the Lines
Downtime in Sandypoint

Many tomes lined the shelves of The Curious Goblin. Books of all different sizes and ages littered the tables in disarray. Bartigan lifted the cover of one. “101 Recipes for Onions and Turnips” one would have to be desperate to read this one he thought as he took a bit of his apple. His disgusted was lost upon Anna as she quickly descended on a particular stack of literature. They had ventured to the local library to research more on the beast in the ruins, this Barghest. Auron was also lingering with them. I did not take the scholar long before she located script that described the creature. “Why did we not use my monster book?” questioned the halfling. “Because pec…” Bartigan was about to say rudely before getting a stern look from Anna. “er, Auron. This beast is not a demon we believe,” the fighter finished. “That is correct.” Anna chimed as she began making notes on her own parchment.

“How long will this take? You write slow.” Auron continued to prattle. Bartigan took to distracting himself by searching deeper into archives. Sitting on the top shelf, a black tome inlaid with an imposing swordsman drew his attention. “Tales of the Blade: A Swordlords Memory” said the book title. He began to read, seeing that Anna would be awhile. Auron sneaked into under his arm, “Is this a picture book?” the rogue wit-fully commented to Bad. “No.” Bartigan said under his breath, “but it does tell me how to silence a halfling.” Really? How is that murfff!" Bartigan shoved the remaining apple into Auron’s mouth and continued to read. This stuff could be useful one day.

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