the Way of the Wicked

Escape from Branderscar!

(spoiler alert - they escape)

In the sudden silence after the short but brutal dining room battle, Fitch's keen hearing picks up a whispered conversation from the next room. Two worried servants are discussing whether they should run to the guardhouse for the guards, or whether the noise was just a drunken brawl and they'll get in trouble for bothering them.

Fitch strides into the room and, brandishing a dagger that he has just carefully bloodied for dramatic effect, intimidates them into sitting down quietly and allowing them to be tied up. Questioning from Sam persuades them to spill their guts (metaphorically; perhaps surprisingly our heroes leave them tied up but otherwise unmolested). In between requests that they please not be killed, the servants tell them the rough layout of the area and approximate disposition of the guards, and the password to pass the gatehouse and bridge ("Hesterfield"). They also tell Sam that Blackerly is nearby, in his bedroom which can be reached via his office off the corridor, likely having a drunken nap before tonight's card game.

Sam is fired up to get revenge on the man who branded her and laughed. "Let's kill him while he's sleeping, it'll be easier!"

"Wait, let's rob these footlockers first!" comes the reply. The 12 footlockers yield the following:

potion of cure light wounds

a map

empty

silver holy symbol

bottle of whisky

a small supply of delicious cookies

A surprisingly well written love letter ending in
a proposal of marriage to someone named ‘Michelle’ and a sapphire engagement ring worth 100
gp
A masterwork lute (worth 100 gp).
Ink, quill and a personal journal that reveals thisweek’s password “Hesterfeld” – the Warden’s
home town – and the details of Blackerly’s illicit gambling sessions including exactly when the
next game will be (later tonight)


A small coin pouch with 3gold in miscellaneous coinage.


A bottle of absolute rot gut without label worth 5 gp.


A collection of cheap, tawdry, crudely printed
books (the so-called “penny dreadfuls”) about
dashing heroes, daring do and amply bosomed
damsels prone to fainting and outdoor bathing
(no resale value) (Adelea guiltily sneaks these into her clothing without anyone seeing)

Using Adelea's cunning suggestion of greasing the hinges with fat from the kitchen, Fitch ghosts into the sergeant's office. Unfortunately, however, he makes a complete arse of quietly opening the connecting door to the sergeant's room, dropping his thieves tools with a loud jingle.  “Oh for fuck's sake" mutters Sam to Adelea as the sergeant wakes up and looks around wildly, grabbing for his sword.

Creel is equally disdainful as Fitch steps forward to engage Blackerly, asking “sure you don't want to blow an alarm horn or something?”

The eagerly awaited battle with the hated sergeant proves to be something of a farce. Blackerley swings wildly and gets his sword stuck in the bedframe. With an angry ogre in front of him and an enemy on each side, Sam steps forward and intimidates him into surrender: “your only miniscule chance of survival is to do exactly as we say, drop your sword and on your knees”

Adelea tries to kill the helpless sergeant but makes a horrible botch of the swing, her sword missing entirely and clanging off the floor next to him. Making a successful bluff check she "styles it out" and pretends she was only trying to scare him. This works and he begs for his life.

The party proceeds to tie up Sergeant Blackerly and search his room, and then Sam asks Grumblejack “is that the guy who burned your arm? “- Yurr “would you like to pull his head off?” -Huhuh yerr “Go ahead and do that then”. Grumblejack flexes his mighty thews and pops the sergeant's head off. Adela comes back from the kitchen with a burning brand and expresses her disappointment that she cannot burn his eyes out now.

The party find 1245 GP in a chest in the room, plus some “medicine” which they realise is rotgut spiked with an excessive dose of sleeping herbs. They also find a map of the castle in the sergeants room. Adelea takes a masterwork longsword from Blackerley's body

Blackerly's keys allow access to a storeroom with some potentially useful items, and to the castle armoury. The party avail themselves of the contents, with grumblejack very pleased with his new “poky thing” (a glaive), Sam picking up a spear, and Zachariah Creel finding a heavy mace which gives him immense satisfaction as this is the favoured weapon of Asmodeus. Fitch picks up a rapier and swishes it around, while Adelea finds a shank made from a woman's metal comb in a pile of confiscated weapons,  and realises that this is a weapon that might be hidden in her hairstyle.

Returning to the kitchen they find the tied up servants sitting quietly exactly where they were left, and once again refrain from murdering. Using the "medicine" from sergeant Blackerly's room they create some spiked meat for the dogs and head for the guardhouse, with Fitch using sleight of hand to surreptitiously drop drugged meat into the kennels in passing.

With Grumblejack bundled in the large servant's large green cloak and trying to look small, and the others dressed as guards, the absconding criminals successfully bluff their way past the guards at the guardhouse and at the gatehouse at the head of the bridge, pretending to be a party off to collect firewood, passing the gatehouse with a masterfully bored and long-suffering rendering of the password (Hesterfield). Sam's bluffing skills are on fire tonight, and the guards' perception is very much not. One of them warns Sam to "keep an eye out for… well, you know" but it is not clear what this might mean.

Unbelievably, they have escaped without the hue and cry going up.

The party decide to head for their mysterious benefactor's mansion to lie low and consider their next move. This involves crossing the moors at night, and while Adelea's survival skills allow the party to chart a direct course for their destination there is one complication. The moors at night are the haunt of the cunning and vicious giant toad, Lashtongue.

Surging out of one of the network of black pools and boggy channels on the darkened moor this cunning ambush predator achieves complete surprise. Picking on Fitch in preference to the chainmail wearing Adelea and Creel, or Grumblejack who seems like an overlarge mouthful, the huge amphibian brutally hurts Fitch with one enormous bite, and positions his unconscious victim in his enormous batrachian mouth in preparation for swallowing him whole.

Luckily for Fitch the rest of the party are not in the mood to let some humungous toad mess with them after their hard day escaping from prison. First Creel uses his new mace to channel a trickle of the power of his god, then Adelea wounds the monster with the masterwork sword she took from Blackerly's cooling body, before Grumblejack's brutal swing ends the amphibian's reign of terror. The unconscious form of Fitch tumbles out of its now gaping mouth, close to death and covered in frog spit. Creel manages to stabilise him however, and Grumblejack is happy to carry his unconscious form to their destination.

The party are met at the door by Tiadora who summons some curiously meek servants to show them to their rooms and see to their needs. Healing draughts are provided for the wounded, as well as food and water and fresh clothes. 

Once they are rested, refreshed and restored to health they are finally introduced to Tiadora's mysterious patron.

“I believe you to be the first to ever escape from Branderscar
Prison. Well done! Of course, you had help from the outside,” he says with a wicked smile.
“But enough with the pleasantries. You must be curious why I’ve helped you. Rest assured this is no random act of altruism. I have brought you here for a reason. My name is Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. I am the last high priest of Asmodeus left on the island of Talingarde. Once the Prince of Nessus was rightly revered alongside the other great powers. Now, the king of Talingarde has become a
puppet to Mitran fanatics who wish to destroy any religion that does not bow to their insipid sun god.
“For their blasphemy, I will see the same people who imprisoned and condemned you suffer. I understand what you went through for I have faced it myself.” With that, he pulls down the sleeve of his robe and reveals his own runic ‘F’ brand. “I am going to burn Talingarde to the ground
and from the ashes I will build a new nation that knows its rightful master. I cannot do this alone. I seek servants worthy of our Infernal Father’s majesty. Have I found them in you?”
He rises and his eyes flash with hellfire and divine purpose. “Join me! Serve me well in this holy endeavor and I will raise you up in the eyes of gods and men. I will make you princes of the new Talingarde. Today, swear fealty to me and to Asmodeus.


“Put aside forgiveness and I shall give you vengeance.
Put aside mercy and be made powerful. Put aside peace
and become my harbingers of war. What say you? Will
you swear your allegiance or will you burn with the rest of
the blind fools?”

They all agree to sign a pact in blood. Sam intends to break this as soon as convenient, and cheerfully levels to Creel that she will do so. However Creel, knowing his patron Asmodeus is a god of Law as well as Evil and loves deals that bind one party more than expected, suspects it will not be as easy as Samrael believes. On the other hand Asmodeus is a god of ambition also, and may be charmed by Sam's ambition to rise to godhood herself.

Cardinal Thorn takes one copy of the contract and leaves another with the party. It is written in red ink on an unknown leather. He tells them to stay within the manor and prepare themselves, as in three days their training will begin.

After they leave the presence of the cardinal a servant meekly asks them what equipment they might need, up to a value of 200GP. While they ponder this, the scene fades to black

Comments

Am genuinely surprised that went as well as it did. All went pretty smoothly apart from somehow managing to wake up a guy in a drunken coma!
The toad thing was pretty scary. If that had been me instead of Fitch, could easily have one shotted me, without us even having a chance. We need some more perception! Also disappointing he didn’t have any drops considering he was a ‘named’!
What’s the deal with Grumblejack? Does he get to come with us? Does he get a cash allowance for some gear?
Also, can we supplement our allowance with the cash we ‘liberated’ from Blackerly, or is it just “200gp worth” of stuff?

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Thorn chose you guys for his scheme. Grumblejack is a tag-along. If you can persuade him to tag along with you some more, Thorn isn’t going to have a problem with this (although depending where you go it may be tricky to conceal an ogre). You’ve got 800GP allowance split 4 ways; if you want to spend some of your own gold on pretty much anything you can obtain in a large city that would also be acceptable, and if you want to then give it to Grumblejack that would also be fine.

For all you know there was a severed arm with some fancy rings on it in his stomach, or a pouch of gold. Did you cut him open to check?

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Yeah, would be a shame to lose Grumblejack now!

Regarding gear, I’m happy with weapons, so have spent the whole 200gp on a shiny breastplate!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

There were a bunch of ways that could have gone wrong. If you’d not heard the servants or dithered I was going to give them a dc10 wisdom roll to run for help instead of staying quiet and hoping you’d go away. If the guards had had a chance to blow their signal horns you’d have been swarmed. Either way you’d have found the gates locked and guards pinging arrows at you from elevated positions.
Your disguise plan was solid and it was a bit after dusk but they still had a chance of making tricky perception rolls against you.
I should probably have given you a bonus for the map you found in the chest (there was a better one in the tower) but even so you might have wandered the moor til dawn when they’d have gone after you with dogs.
Hell, Fitch could have dropped his thieves tools in the cell and you’d have been sitting there with no thieves tools and severe beatings in a prison on high alert.

Also if that toad had had a better initiative roll he’d have swallowed Fitch and made a break for it.

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Adelea, I haven’t had a good look over the equipment list yet, but its very likely that I won’t need to spend much of it.
My abilities don’t really come from gear!
I’d like to get Grumblejack some basic gear, and am then happy to chuck in my allowance (plus my share of Blackerly’s cash) to you if it means better armour or whatnot.
I’ll post a list here of what I get for myself and the Ogre, and how much cash I have left, which I will donate to the pot.

Escape from Branderscar!
 

From a protection point of view, the breastplate is about as good as it gets.

It has an AC6 modifier – the same as other armor types, but lets me retain the 3dex ac bonus – armours with higher than 6, lose some or all of the dex bonus.

Full plate, with ac9 and +1 allowed from dex is better – but that has a base price of 1500gp, and is heavy armor, which has it own set of drawbacks!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Oh, just noticed – wearing armour lowers your speed – so I should have an effective speed of 2/3 what I have unarmoured – so 2 squares/round.

Escape from Branderscar!
 

cool – well offer is extended to everyone if they’re short of cash. The only stuff I would buy is in the tens-of-thousands range…

Although I can always get a few scrolls to have a bit more variety.

As we’ve been given this circlet of disguise, I’m gonna guess that our first assignment is likely to be in a city where we have to be sneaky. So kit yourselves out for that! (and yeah – might be hard to conceal the ogre if thats the case)

Escape from Branderscar!
 

With the circlet, can we maintain an illusion of ourselves but slightly modified?

ie can we run around with arms exposed, and hiding the forsaken branding?

Escape from Branderscar!
 

I have a cunning plan for that!! :P

Escape from Branderscar!
 

It’s like having a disguise self spell permanently in place (with the occasional mutter of a command word or effort of thought, so trivial if you’re not asleep or unconscious or eg desperately trying not to drown. In those circumstances it’ll run out in about ten minutes.)
Looking up disguise self you can certainly use it to hide a minor feature like a brand. Creatures interacting with the illusion would get a will save if there was a reason for them to think it might be an illusion (feeling a scar on a “smooth” arm for example, or maybe getting a diffuse detect magic result off you)
Worth looking up the spell yourselves I reckon. That android app Andrew found is rather handy.

Escape from Branderscar!
 

So my plan (pending GM approval).

I have bought some ink with some of my cash. In our 3 days downtime I would like to tattoo over everyone’s brand with an insignia that conceals the ‘F’. Something like a leviathan cross – I uploaded a pic to the media library to give you an idea.

It won’t pass any kind of close scrutiny, but would certainly disguise it from a distance.

The story could be that we are servants of the minor noble, whose son Adelea is after. The noble is very possessive of his servants and insists they are all tattooed with his seal, to ensure loyalty.
Its a vaguely plausible story, and might have the added benefit of drawing out or leading to Benjamin, who is top of our current hit list.

The plan would be a good backup to the disguise self stuff, in case we need it.

Thoughts?

Escape from Branderscar!
 

My gear in total:

Spear (already had)
50’ Rope (already had)
‘F’ Branding Iron (already had)
Bullseye Lantern (already had)
1 x Potion Cure Light Wounds (already had)
Holy Symbol (given)
Iron Circlet (given)
Ink vials x 5 (40gp)
Backpack (2gp)
10 x Rations (5gp)
Robe (5gp)
Spell Component Pouch (5gp)
1 x Smokestick (20gp)
10 × 1st level scrolls (150gp) (4 paid for by Adelea)
Light Crossbow (35gp)
50 x bolts (5gp)

Started with 450gp – spent 267 – leaving 183 for the pot. If you spend it let me know how much.

I spent pretty much all of Grumblejack’s cash on some splint mail. We’ll see in game is he comes with us or not (or even if that is wise – will depend on the mission I suppose)

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Let’s have everybody post their shopping list here, or they ain’t getting a bean.

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Armor for large creatures is x2 cost – so the splintmail would be 400g, GJ is a bit short of being able to afford that.

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he had 245 (of Blackerly’s cash). If noone needs to use my funds, I’ll sub him the 155 he needs

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Items purchased – other items on character sheet

Breastplate (200g)
Backpack (5g)
Bedroll (1s)
10’ Chain (30g)
Fishhook x10 (10s)
Flint & Steel (1g)
Lantern, Bullseye (12g)
Oil Flask x5 (5s)
50’ Silk Rope (10g)
Rations x10 (50s)
Waterskin (1g)
Belt Pouch (1g)
Whetstone x2 (4c)

Total : 260g 66s 4c = 266g 6s 4c

So 66g 6s 4c used of my money

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Fitch, you should also contribute some cash towards Grumblejack’s armour, as he did rescue you from Toady McToadface!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Oh, hey – that glaive of Grumblejack’s is a reach weapon, meaning he can attack a foe up to twice his reach away, but not one right next to him. Might be worth also getting him a nice greatclub or something similarly flavoursome. (He’s also meant to get a -2 penalty for an “inappropriately sized weapon” if I understand the rules right, but I’m assuming you’ve done some simple mods to what is, after all, a simple blade on a pole, in order to make it work for him.

Escape from Branderscar!
 

Swapped out the glaive for a greataxe. He’s not interested in keeping things at reach – he just wants to do as much harm as possible!

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you could get him a couple of javelins too?

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Throwing, Dex based?

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It’s traditional for ogres!
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/humanoids/giants/ogre/

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OK took a couple. So Grumble is 177 gp short of cash now.

I still have 183 remaining – so can fund him the lot if noone else has any cash left (although I’d be surprised!)

Of course will only pay for his armour if he comes with us!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

You know, reading Chris’s character sheet it looks very much as though he took “stabilise” as an orison. If that’s true he could have cast it at will instead of making a skill check and getting Andrew all worried. What a monster!

Speaking of which, give some thought to what orisons (level 0 spells) you want to take for next week, as well as the spells for your spell list. Can’t imagine you’d want “disguise self” as your domain spell Chris, you’ve got a magic circlet that’ll do the job. So I suspect you’d take the level 1 spell from your other domain, Fire, which is burning hands.

You can cast any ones you fancy though, right Rick? You don’t need to pick in advance?
Escape from Branderscar!
 

I have a limited number that I ‘know’ (5), but can cast any of them an unlimited number of times.

I have Read Magic (of course) as one of them. Can we please just assume that it is always up, so that I can read scrolls? Duration is 20 minutes – if we’re in a fight that lasts longer than that, we have bigger problems!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

It’s a cantrip, so you can cast it at will, however it won’t be up in general just as there are plenty of times in day to day life you wouldn’t have your weapons out and ready. If you’re expecting a fight we can assume you’ve cast it as part of your prep, if you’re caught flat footed (eg you’re in normal day to day travelling and ambushed, or if you’re woken from sleep, or if you’re enjoying a nice meal in an inn and nobody is expecting trouble) you’d have to cast it, or do the normal spellcraft check against a DC of 20+spell level to use the scroll.

Actually, if I am interpreting the rules right, you’d need read magic or the spellcraft check to decipher and understand the scroll, not activate it. Assuming you’ve done this previously you shouldn’t need to have read magic up and running at the time you want to use it: activating it would require a check only if the spell’s caster level was higher than yours.

So if you’re picking up a random scroll you haven’t seen before you’d need to have read magic or do a spellcraft check in order to turn it from “hmm, a scroll!” into “aha! A scroll of fireball!” (and a further spellcraft check to cast it as it’s above your level, and you’d need the requisite ability score to cast it at all).

Whereas if you’d previously bought a scroll of grease from “Magic Bob’s Magical Emporium of Magic and Magical Items” and had now taken it from your scroll holder, we can assume you’d read and understood it at your leisure “off screen” and would not require any checks in order to cast it.

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Ah ok. That is not how I interpreted it, but that’s even better

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http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/magicItems/scrolls.html#scrolls

A character can decipher the writing on a scroll in advance so that she can proceed directly to the next step when the time comes to use the scroll.

Give it a read, but it seems pretty clear cut to me.

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Just noticed the Favoured Class thing. When you level in your favoured class, you get either 1HP or 1 skill point.

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My equipment will be -

Masterwork Thieves Tools (2 lbs) – already have
Daggers x5 (5 lbs) – have 2, 6 gp for rest
Sap (2 lbs) – 1 gp
Smokestick x2 (1 lb) – 40 gp
Backpack (2 lb) – 2 gp
Waterskin (4 lbs) – 1 gp
Oil, 1 pint flask (1 lb) – 1 sp
Signal Whistle (0 lbs) – 8 sp

I also want some black leather armour, just to have it handy in case needed and not worn as routine, so another 10gp.

So far that is 60 gp,9 sp spent.

Total weight carried 17 lbs. I have not added in any weight for clothes, and am saving some on the assumption we’ll need to carry food and maybe pick some stuff up as we go. I’ll add more if I think about anything to add, and it may need to change depending on if we are on wilderness travel and actually need to be carrying things like waterskins.

Max weight I can take without penalising all STR and DEX skills with a penalty is light load of 26 lbs.

Also, do we need to include our clothes in weight counted for encumberance? Page 159 lists various outfits and I fancied a black traveller’s outfit, but including clothes in weight seems a bit much!

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can you use some of your leftover cash for grumblejack please Andrew? You can’t carry the extra weight anyway!

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Put 100 gp to Grumble jack. I still need to buy food.

Any chance we can get Grumblejack a big backpack to carry supplies as well as fight? Would be nice to have the help carry food, water and camping supplies for us!

Escape from Branderscar!
 

I’m sure we can. But there is still no guarantee he’s coming with us. I’m going to need to have a chat with him.

Adelea has plenty of spare capacity though. And I still have a bit

Escape from Branderscar!
 

You don’t need to buy food and water unless I tell you to. Right now you’re in Cardinal Thorn’s manor and you’ve been given 200gp for equipment, not equipment plus snacks.

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Also -

Chalk, 3 sticks (0 lbs) – 3 cp
Flint & Steel (0 lbs) – 1 gp
Glass Cutter (0 lbs) – 5 gp
Glue Paper, 3 sheets (0 lbs) – 3 sp
Wrist Sheath x2 (2 lbs) – 2 gp

That’s 169.23 gp of my allowance spent, including the 100 gp for our Ogre associate.

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why not get spring loaded ones? Then you can get weapons out of them without provoking an attack of opportunity

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Shopping trip:
Scale mail 50gp
Backpack 2gp
Bedroll 1sp
Rations x10days 50sp
Flask water 3cp
Flint & steel 1gp
Chalk 1cp
Healers kit 50gp
Scroll of CLW x 8 200gp

I make that 309gp, 1sp, 3cp. So after my 200gp allowance (thanks dad). It’s 109.13gp from my stash. I’ll aslo sell the lute and ring for 200gp. Leaving me 340gp, 8sp and 7cp I think. Also puts my weight at 56.5lb (including my mace).

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Change that. I’ll keep the ring…money is heavy!

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177.23 gp spent

Escape from Branderscar!
President_Weasel

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