the Way of the Wicked

The Cruel Lessons of Master Thorn, Part 1

Five go dungeoneering

 

The party has 3 days of rest and recovery during which their requested purchases arrive and they get the chance to practice with their new equipment.

During this time our villains encounter another group of four who Cardinal Thorn appears to be grooming for another part of his plan. Led by the witch Elise Zadaria these adventurers style themselves “the White Ravens” after her albino familiar. They have been smuggled in by boat rather than breaking out of prison, but have also signed a similar pact.

 

Sam has a conversation with Grumblejack, with a view to persuading him to join forces with our villainous quartet.  Grumblejack strongly dislikes the knights of The Alerion, who had hunted him down and put a stop to his enjoyable occupation as a Highwayogre. Sam points out there's not much out there for Grumblejack as a hunted fugitive but the group have a plan and a patron, and “a plan to get rid of all these knights”. Grumblejack asks if there will be treasure and is assured there will be. Also Sam offers to buy him some armour. “Think bigger Grumblejack, you could be king of your tribe!”

He is very much convinced for the time being at least, and Sam chips in some of her funds and the party's to obtain a very large suit of splint mail and a solid greatclub sized for ogres.

On the evening of the third day Thorn summons them to his study.

“Have you enjoyed your gifts? The iron circlets allow
you to move amongst your enemies as one of them. The
silver amulets will remind you of your true loyalties. And
the other items – well, you need them now.


“You have done well to escape from Branderscar and
to accept my offer. However, you are still not ready for
my service. Tiadora will lead you to the basement of this
domicile. There you will find nine chambers each more
dangerous than the last. Somewhere hidden within these
chambers is a pendant of silver and sapphire. Recover the
pendant and bring it to me. Let nothing and no one stand
in your way.”


He stands up and looks out of the manor house window
across the grey moor. “It’s almost dusk. You have until
dusk tomorrow to bring me my prize. Do not fail me.

 

Escorted to the top of some stairs by Tiadora, who is completely unforthcoming about what they can expect, our villains enter the dungeon.

The first chamber has an inscription over the door: “Deception is a tool. Self-deception is death. Deceive always thy enemy but never thyself.”

The room is bare, save for a door on the far side. Fitch and Creel search the room for traps and assure the party there are none. The party then discover a pit trap through the cunning expedient of having Adelea and Grumblejack fall into it. Grumblejack takes consderable damage from the fall and the spikes and regains some from Creel's scroll of cure light wounds. Adelea takes damage from falling but her armour and agility allows her to avoid the spikes. Carved upon the wall inside the pit near the bottom is the phrase: “Thou wert deceived. Pain is thy reward.”

There is some grumbling about the rogue's inability to find the trap but Fitch points out that they all have eyes and can look for themselves.

Finding the door opens onto a blank wall the party are stymied. They spend a frustrating couple of hours searching for hidden doors before hitting on the idea of having Grumblejack bash the walls with his club and listening for a change in sound. This allows them to find two hidden doors. One leads to a small alcove with a pedestal, on which is a blue jewel, cold to the touch. After racking their appraise skills to the utmost and making use of detect magic, the party conclude that this is… a blue jewel, cold to the touch. The other door leads to… a corridor to another room! At long, long last they are making progress.

Room 2

This one has the inscription “Following the herd is for fools. Fear not their icy derision. Instead, fear only thy Infernal Lord.”
 

Our villains are quick to work out that they should not follow the tracks in the dust leading to the South or East doors. However the other door is blocked by a violet mold, and none of them have the dungeoneering experience to know this is a creature that sucks heat from its environment and is vulnerable to cold damage.

Adelea tries approaching the door with the gem in her hand thinking it is perhaps a key, but the mold sucks the heat right out of her, and she quickly retreats with 12 non lethal damage. The party consider using fire against it before deciding this is probably a bad idea – if it sucked the heat out of Adelea, maybe it would enjoy the fire?

Eventually it occurs to them to throw the gem at the mold, whereupon it shatters and reveals itself to contain alchemists' ice, a much, much colder version of alchemists' fire. The mold shrivels, blackens, and falls dead from the doorway revealing the inscription “Thou hast made thy own path.”
 

Room 3: “Know your enemy. Shatter all that blinds you and then burn thy adversary to ashes.”
 

This room is shrouded in impenetrable darkness. Adelea steps in and confirms that it's dark on the inside too, but that whatever is blocking the light allows sounds to pass unhindered. Luckily for her, although she is unaware of this at the time, she quickly steps back out again.

Sam uses detect magic to find that whatever is causing the darkness seems to be in the middle of the room, between about waist and head height. She asks Fitch to throw a rope inside, casts “animate rope” from a scroll and commands it to wrap itself around whatever is there, and hands the end to Grumblejack.

“What are you wanting me to do with that pedestal then?” he asks. At this point it dawns on the party that ogres have darkvision. He has been unaware they couldn't see anything, and increasingly puzzled by their antics.

He tells them there is a dark jewel on the pedestal, so Sam wraps the rope around it and asks him to pull it towards them. “Sure, but I don't think that mist thing is going to like it” he says.

A mighty yank on the rope plunges the party into stygian darkness as the source of the spell is pulled to where they are standing.

SMASH THE JEWEL!” they cry. Grumblejack cheerfully smashes the jewel into three pieces with his club, switching off the darkness instantly. In the newly revealed chamber the party see a pinkish misty form pass out of their field of vision to the left.

Fitch is standing in the doorway, and the vampiric mist is quickly upon him. A touch with a claw opens a bleeding wound, and he sees some of his blood be sucked up into the creature. Newly energised with stolen vitality it swiftly sinks through one of a series of small holes in the floor and out of sight.

The party, paranoid, stand with prepared spells and attacks at the ready, waiting for the creature to make a move, and Creel quickly stanches Fitch's wound. The creature is happy where is is, waiting for the bloodsacks to make their own moves.

This goes on for some time. Then it occurs to Sam to pour lamp oil into one of the holes and light it. A small orange glow comes through the hole. Adelea and Fitch have oil of their own and the party moves into the room, expanding the “underfloor heating” and attempting to smoke out the mist. It flows out of one of the holes and attacks Adelea, but misses. The party do enough damage to it that it flees back under the floor to cower, but the party pitilessly corner it with fire and finish it off. Vulnerable to fire damage it has little chance against an approaching line of burning lamp oil and a priest who can cast fire orisons through the holes in the floor.

Room 4: “Cruelty is a tool not a pastime. Be ruthless to thy enemy but reward those who serve thee well.”

The room is empty, save for a torture rack which stands ready for use. Our villains are shocked when Fitch successfully finds a secret door! Inside is the terrifed squire, Timeon of Balentyne. Young, gullible, alone, and terrified he is easily persuaded by Samra'el that our villains are a rescue party. Sam is darkly pleased to learn his master is none other than the witch hunter who consigned her to Branderscar, Sir Balin. “He's mine. This is going to be fun. But not for him”.

Sam's soft skills far outmatch Timeon's soft mind. He tells the party all he knows about the dungeon (It is clear that Thorn has allowed him to “escape” and overhear him while “searching” for Timeon, feeding him information so that the party could torture it out of him.) However Sam's a fan of lesson 1: deception is a tool, and has no need for torture. Timeon sings like a bird. The party contemplate how amusing it would be to say “present for you” and throw Timeon's head at Sir Balin, but Sam decides she'd rather use her iron circlet to pretend to be Timeon and get the drop on him. She persuades the terrified squire to hide again in his little cupboard, regretfully telling him that as a quick moving rescue party they are carrying no spare weapons, food, or water. This part is even true (except several members of the party have food, they all have water, and Fitch at least has spare daggers).

The party learn the following from the young dupe:

• there are vicious metal cobras in a
nearby room
• a secret door across from the stairs
hides the way out
• a shrieker screams when there is light
or movement nearby
• that four drowned men rise when the
shrieker cries

As the party head back down the corridor Sam's appearance warps and shifts until she looks like a somewhat oddly dressed double of the young squire.

Room 5. “The chosen are revealed by their might. The weak deserve no sympathy.”

The two mithral cobras in this room are small and fast and therefore hard to hit, and resistant to damage due to being made of metal. However they also have some trouble getting their fangs past the armour of the party's fighters, and, when they do get a solid chomp in, the party members' constitutions are proof against their poison.

Fitch's acrobatic skills allow him to move past one of the cobras to flank it without giving the ophodian automaton a chance to strike him, but his attacks do little damage due to the construct's damage resistance.

Eventually, after a hard fight, Grumblejack's club smashes one into scrap and Adelea's flashing blade, in a swift, yet powerful move, cuts the other into four unequal pieces. The head piece sparks briefly and the metal snake stops moving forever.

It occurs to Sam that mithral is valuable, and a quick appraise suggests the party now has about 1000GP worth of pricey scrap metal, which they load onto their ogre.

What awaits our party in the next room? Is it a secret door across from some stairs? Find out next week!

Comments

How can it NOT be the rogue’s job to find traps?!?

Similarly, I am thinking “4 drowned men rising” = undead. That’s the cleric’s job, surely!

As for Sir Balin – Please lets try and take him alive. We only need to convince him long enough for you guys to get the jump on him. I’m not saying do nonlethal damage – just that if he drops below 0 that we stabilise him.

I am so going to “to the pain” on him from the princess bride.

 

How can it NOT be the rogue’s job to find traps?!?

Because you are stuck in fantasy stereotypes and not embracing the new world order of Pathfinder! =)

Fitch does get a slight bonus true, but since it isnt a rogue only ability, we should take advantage of that, and have us all look in future.

Disarming traps is another matter of course!

Regarding the mithril, if possible could I buy some of other peoples share, with the intent of having a mithril masterwork BP forged at some point? Not sure it is in the rules, but it should be lighter than what I have, and hopefully allow a higher dex modifier to be retained and have less of an ACP – what do you think Steve?

 

A mithral breastplate would be -3 to your armour check and effectively light rather than medium armour (alhough would still require medium armour proficiency). However you’d need 4000GP worth of mithral for one. See:
http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/31425/pathfinder-mithral-breastplate-costs

(looking at costings you have 2lbs of mithral)

 

So, these were very very small snakes then! =)

 

you could get a bracer? Would that do anything?

And bah – well I can ‘look’ for traps, but perception isnt my thing. I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll only ever have a 1 in 20 chance!

How about the undead thing then? Am I perpetuating stereotypes by thinking thats a cleric thing??

Also Steve – occurred to me that we didn’t do some of my skill checks quite right. My face skills are all meant to be opposed. Dont think it would have mattered as I rolled pretty well on my bluff checks. But technically should have been opposed by his Sense Motive. Similarly when it comes to the disguise check – it is opposed by Perception – not just a DC target.

 

Yep, you got about a pound of usable scrap from each. They were small, remember how hard they were to hit? That wasn’t all armour and dex.

 

You’d think so, but not this cleric. Turn undead is a feat, and Creel does not have it. I don’t even have to check his sheet, because the prerequisite is channel positive energy.
Zachariah Creel ain’t no goody two shoes positive energy priest, he channels the bad stuff.

 

Control Undead? That’s the evil version isnt it? That a feat too?

 

ok yeah – just reading the negative energy thing – he can HEAL undead… not sure that’s exactly what we’re after…

 

Might be worth looking up what if anything evil clerics can do to discombobulate the undead. Turning them is right out, and the negative energy he channels harms the living and heals the undead (as you mentioned). I’m also house ruling that it harms constructs because that seems reasonable to me.

Keep me right regarding your skills, I’m new to the system and there’s a lot to keep track of.

 

Yeah will do Steve – that only occurred to me this morning!

Right – thinking ahead, and assuming that the squire’s info is in the correct order:

Next room will have stairs in it. And there is a secret door opposite that leads to the exit. Where do the stairs lead? Up or down? What’s at the end? And lets face it – they will inevitably be trapped!
Perhaps we could get Fitch to take 10 or even 20 to try and find em? We seem to be ahead of the curve time-wise. We should probably have done that at the start too!

Next room has a shrieker in it. Judging from the description, it’s one of these: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/plants/shrieker/ (I’m allowed to look this shit up, right?)
So we know it does sonic damage (DC11 fortitude save – although there’s no saying its not a beefier version). And that it will summon 4 drowned men when it cries. Likely undead – but who knows what type. Skeles, zombies, ghouls, ghasts – could be anything.
I don’t think we have any way of silencing it, or even sneaking past it.
What we could try and do perhaps is plug our ears with something to lessen the impact? Also I could maybe summon something to go into the room and trigger the undead whilst we prep in the corridor? At least then we could fight whatever comes on our own terms, with the tough guys at the front, rather than be surrounded? Any other thoughts?

Sir Twathead will probably be in a room – could have anything with him. Lets try and lure him out with our fake rescue, with Adelea and GJ hiding round a corner – so as soon as he passes them they twat him unawares. If he sees GJ he may start to doubt the story anyway. And yeah – take him alive if poss… muahahaha.

And I’m guessing the last room has the pendant in it. We have no info on this one, but again lets assume traps – and nasty ones! We were warned that each room is more deadly than the last.

Any other ideas?

 

We are getting into meta territory here. Are you allowed to look something up and act like you know, if the party as a whole lacks dungeoneering knowledge? Can I force you to pretend you haven’t? (No). Will it be less fun for me if you have underground discussions without me via email? (Yes.)

 

To be fair – the clue is in the name for this one! (I already knew what a shrieker was anyway),

To keep it cryptic – go like you did with the ‘drowned men’ – cos that could be anything (although probably undead).

If the book specifically says that he calls it a shrieker – then my guess is that we’re allowed to know what one of them is,

 

OK I’m feeling bad now.

Next level, assuming we get some training time, I will take a skill point in dungeoneering to justify my obsession of looking shit up and crafting wild theories!

 

Are we going to need a cool nickname like the other group has?

Do we have to style it after something about our group, like they did?

“The incompetent rogues” – striking fear into the local populace!

 

I think they’re a bit emo with this “White Ravens” business if you ask me, especially as they’re naming themselves after the witch’s familiar. But you guys can come up with a nickname for yourselves if that floats your boat.

 

a bit emo, and possibly a bit racist! We could noise them up a little with our name.

“99 problems but the witch ain’t one”?? :P

this could go on and on!

 

Wait a minute, Andrew had a rapier before! You had a rapier, Andrew. Why aren’t you using a rapier? Rapiers are cool! Also do more damage than your tiny knife.

 

Can he carry a rapier?

 

That’s a good point. He’s so weak he can’t even carry a tune.

 

Too heavy, and can’t throw them. Going with daggers means also that my Weapon Focus feat taking daggers as the focus covers my melee and ranged weapon.

Also, daggers are easier to conceal than rapiers!

 

Also, I’m going for the backstabby roguish assassin approach. Rapiers are for flamboyant swashbuckling types, not professional murderers who lurk in the shadows.

President_Weasel

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