[Pathfinder Campaign] Session One by Rvelasco

Posted: January 10, 2012 by rvel in Actual Play, Pathfinder, Roleplaying Games
Tags: ,

A bit of a long post.  Sorries for that.  I also included some notes for those curious on the details on some NPCs and mechanics.

The game begins in a flashback.  (The intention of this mini adventure is to have everyone get used to their character before actual play happens.  Also, its to add some storytelling flavor on a strict old school dungeon crawl, and also to make the characters shine with their own strengths. A prologue of sorts.)  The characters begin in the city of EGORIAN, CHELIAX (a Lawful Evil metropolis under the oppressive martial law of diabolists;  think Nazi Germany during WW2) with a mission to escort their “client,” the BARONESS CERRIS and her charming daughter ILLY out of the city to avoid a ‘distasteful’ arranged marriage with a hellspawned nobleman.  The baroness is one of the few Cheliax citizens who still has a good alignment, and such a match disgusts her.  She has thus hired the PCs to escort them out of the country into the northern provinces of Varisia, where a relative will keep them safe.  Only three of the starting player characters wanted to be RED BRANCH members.  The fourth, the rogue druid, THIAMASHIELLE, wanted to play an outsider.  So we agreed on making Thia play as the mercenary guide for the party, to lead them through the dangerous forests and mountain ranges that surround the country.


NPC Details:  The BARONESS CERRIS is a noblewoman through and through, and dislikes her situation, but will do anything to save her daughter.  The PRINCESS ILLY, however, a genki girl whose only adventure at home were the books she read about heroes, lies awestruck at the adventure ahead of them, and these “heroes” that would save them from danger.  She barrages the players with questions about their heroics.  They are being chased by a powerful nobleman, the BARON, Cerriss’s husband and Illy’s father, who intends to bring them back any way possible.

The necroelf, BONES, (played by Blake) suggested they use a different carriage, and presented his own, pulled by his skeletal horse.  Leaving an ally to drive the old carriage through the opposite direction.  Though the noblewomen were initially distasteful of the necromantic carriage, RENAULD (played by Niccomawf), an Andoran nobleman, easily charmed and reassured them that the ride will be safe.  With that, they departed the city, but not before being questioned by a few Hellknight sentries.  They are about to investigate the interior of the carriage (where the Baroness and her daughter are) when the guys decided on a ridiculous bluff, to present the Owlbear, RASTABAN (played by Alvin) as their “client,” which they will escort out of the city.  Merging the nobleman’s bluff, and the Owlbear’s intimidate, it was enough to give the Hellknights some pause, at least until their allies had spotted the Baroness’s (fake) carriage in the other end of the district.  With that, the hellknights left them and ran to pursue the decoy, and the group managed to leave Cheliax.

PC Detail:  For those curious, RASTABAN, the Owlbear PC was made without too much homebrew rules.  Since I allowed everyone to start with custom magic items, Alvin decided to purchase a scroll of Polymorph Any Object, merged with Bestow Curse.  It cost him his entire 3000 gp savings, but he’s pretty happy with it.

Their first decision was choosing their route to Varisia.  The nearby port cities near Cheliax were all under the evil country’s control, so they avoided those.  Which left two other paths, one through the Mindspin mountains (where monsters were said to inhabit), and the other is through the forests, exiting to a vassal state of Cheliax, Nidal.  The guys decided to take the mountainous route and to brave the monsters instead of Cheliax’s Hellknights.  Unfortunately, at their current level (level 3) no one had access to any nondetection spell, and their pursuers constantly gained on them through the mountain path.  THIAMASHIELLE, the druid rogue, suggested to bring the fight to them and set an ambush.  Being a nature buff, she easily managed to find a good ambush site: a circuitous path that left the players in higher ground, and their horse-mounted pursuers at a disadvantage.  (They initially wanted to put RASTABAN the Owlbear on top of the path to throw boulders at the enemies ala Donkey Kong, but decided otherwise)  So, they instead left the carriage in the base, guarded only by the Owlbear and lit by a campfire.  Their pursuers are 6 in total, with the captain, a Hellknight, at the lead.  Ever cautious, however, the captain cast Detect Magic spells to determine the nature of this Owlbear, and the surrounding areas for any ambushes.  Failing his perception roll, and detect magic having only a limited range, he wasn’t able to find the other PCs perched high up the cliffs in an ambushing position.  Then, RASTABAN the Owlbear does an intimidate check, and claims that it ravaged the Baroness and her daughter, trying to provoke the Hellknights into a fight.  Of course, hearing this… the lower officers respond with, “Kill it with Fire!” and begin to surround it in a tactical formation.  The ambush was then set off, and suffice it to say that the Hellknights were left unprepared for it.  Ever having the adventurous spirit, the PRINCESS ILLY, with the encouragement of RENAULD also joins in with the ambush, throwing her delicate heirloom knives at the knights.  The Hellknights, outnumbered, outmuscled (its a dual wileding owlbear barbarian that can cast spells) and outflanked (the druid rogue and her snake using fastsneak) they were massacred by the players.

GM Note:  I already knew how proficient the guys were at optimizing characters, so I readjusted most encounters here to their skill level.  But still, this was my first taste on just how optimized the guys did their characters, plowing through a CR 4 encounter like it was cheesecake with a hot knife.   To give you an idea, RASTABAN, at level 3, had an AC of 27 (the rest of them had 23+ AC), and dealt 3d6+8 damage.  THIAMASHIELLE had Stealth and Perception scores reaching 12+, and every single player character can cast spells.  Granted, uberly optimized, you can possibly reach an AC of 30+ at level 3, but this was still pretty awesome by an ACL 3 in Pathfinder standards.  It was almost funny, actually, when Rastaban had a nearly fatal encounter with himself:  namely, rolling a critical fumble, wherein I drew from the critical fumble deck and it had him deal damage to himself.  He was forced to use a hero point to save himself from getting killed off outright… by himself.

As they travel further, which took days of trekking through the mountains (and random encounters) they encountered the makings of a powerful storm.  The Druid/rogue once again proving her worth as a mercenary guide in a Survival situation, warned the party before the powerful storm hit them.  They sought safety in the nearby rural village of Serpent’s Bluff.  And this is where the actual module starts…

Module Note:  I’ll keep the module name a secret for now, but I’ll throw it out there once we finish the module.  It’s very customized, very very customized, since I changed the aesthetics and lore to fit the character’s backstories and also to fit the bigger picture of the entire adventure.  Mish Mash magic.  More on this in latter posts, suffice it to say that Paizo fans may recognize an encounter or two from here… (Shhh, for now. :D)

SERPENT’S BLUFF is difficult to even consider a village, since it is a collection of ramshackle homes united only by a single mayor and sherrif.  It is in the base of a mountainous clearing, between an entrance to the Mindspin mountains, and the seas to its West.  It is named after a legendary sea serpent who was linked to its past long ago.  It is also one of the PC’s hometown, THIAMASHIELLE, the very one that ostracized her and thought her a monster just for knowing the tongue of snakes.  So Thia, the rogue druid’s return was somewhat bittersweet.  The town was eerily silent, quite unlike the past that this remembers, and she urges the party caution.   They hear of ghost stories, of shades taking women in the night, so that the entire village has locked their daughters in their cellars.  Despite this, the party spends the night.  The necroelf BONES insists on standing guard to keep the noblewomen safe, and spent the entire night telling the curious princess ILLY everything he knows about his elven homeland of Kyonin and its beautiful Elf Queen.  That night, however, amidst shrill sounds, the “shadows” came.  They heard the scream of the BARONESS, and opened her door to see multiple shadowy figures, one of which carries the Baroness’s body in its wiry arms.  RASTABAN the Owlbear immediately gave chase before their ‘charge’ becomes a victim of these undead monstrosities.  The necroelf, BONES, however, immediately recognized their opponents for what they are: Not undead, otherwise, he could control them, but his nemeses, the levitating, darkness spouting, and red-eyed DROW.

PC Note:  The Necroelf (I call him that) BONES, is a True Neutral cleric that comes from the Mierani Elves (They’re like the Elves from Mirkwood, except crazier), which is the grim battlefront the elves have against the rising tide of the drow elves and the Darkland races.  Ever practical, he has been creating undead all his life, and battling in the forests of Mierani, so I gave him some free stuff via fluff:  namely, a +2 circumstance bonus to all knowledge checks regarding the Darkland races.  This helped him here.  To be fair, I also gave the others free circumstance bonuses related to their fluff.  THIAMSHIELLE had a +2 bonus to all knowledge checks related to serpents.  While the Andoran chick-magnet, RENAULD, had a +2 circumstance bonus to all knowledge checks related to women.  (He’s been trying to bed the princess since the mission started)  And finally, I gave RASTABAN a +2 circumstance to intimidate, because well, he’s a friggin Owlbear.

In this encounter, despite the raging storm outside, the creatures with darkvision helped defeat the enemies… namely, the druid, THIAMASHIELLE’s  “viper companion” and RASTABAN the Owlbear.  The Andoran nobleman sorcerer burnt through the smaller creatures, which was revealed to be the kobold slave race of the drow, burning them down with his AOE spells.  The drow tried to escape using his spell like abilities:  darkness and levitation, also using the strong winds of the storm to move faster in the air – but Rastaban spent a hero point to tackle him down as an immediate action, whereafter the snake bit him and he died of the poison’s constitution damage.  Thankfully, none of these attacks hit the BARONESS.  It was CR6 (+3 ACL!), but they pawned through it easily enough.  Also, I am unsure of the player’s motivations, (though I think t has something to do with the characters’ impulsiveness, a good trait for heroes) but all of them decided to hunt down these Darkland creatures despite their mission, leaving the Baroness and her daughter in the town, hopefully safe in the hands of the capable Sherriff.   To do this, they sought the help of the only one reputedly to survive the attacks, and to flee the creatures’s stronghold intact.  This was the child named VELLARA who stays in the orphanage at the north of town, supposedly saved by the heroics of the city mayor.

NPC Note:  VELLARA is a girl of ten, who has a very strange, unemotional attitude to everything, and a strange serpent-like doll she hugs all the time.  Her only companion is a mind-addled governess, whom, after the necroelf, BONES cast detect magic, found out was ‘charmed.’  They also found out that the girl also has magic in her, faint, though most of the magic was emanating from her doll, not her.   Vellara was supposedly saved by the City Mayor (who wasn’t one yet at the time), when he came back from the mountain with many wounds, and the child in his back.  The city rejoiced at his heroism, but now they have new heroes.

VELLARA tells the PCs she can lead them to the creatures’ hideout, if they wish.  The PCs agree in using the child’s know-how and begins following her through the mountainous route.   And through it all, we rolled for random encounters, where they encountered a totally random and comic experiences, from a silly kenku encounter (what’s a kenku doing here??) a few wolves, and later, a hill giant.  (CR 2, 5, and 7 respectively) Thankfully, they resolved these through diplomacy, not combat.   As soon as they climbed past mountainous roads of wailing forests, they eventually the end,  reaching the base of a mountain where there is a carved entrance to the darkness underneath.  VELLARA tells them that the creatures are down below, where most likely her mother is as well.  The players understanding the horrors the child and the other citizens of Serpent’s Bluff was subjected through the Darkland monsters, decides to descend into the lightless tunnels.

And that’s where the first session ended.   Next session is our actual dungeon crawl, and I’m pretty excited how the guys would handle the challenges there.

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