Actual Play – There are no bad ideas in brainstorming! (5/21/2015)

Sound of a Thousdand ScreamsGM: Dennis Jordan
Players: Regina Joyner, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, Eric Fattig, and Sean Nittner
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Kingmaker

Garess in Duress

Kasten’s debriefing was done by Merrowyn and Elara (who was mostly there because she didn’t trust Merrowyn to talk to him alone). We learned several things:

  • The walls of Pitax are high, taller than the Tusks. It will take siege engines to bring them down.
  • There are granaries inside, but they aren’t well stocked.
  • The palace itself is a fortress. Getting inside will be next to impossible.
  • There are three armies that are two weeks out. A huge (500) army of archers. A huge (500) army of cavalry, and a colossal (2,000) army of orc infantry.
  • Avinash Jurrg approached Irovetti asking to aid him. That is highly irregular and means the demon must have some vested interest in destroying Aldoria.
  • If given the opportunity to serve again, Kasten is too broken a man to take it.

What to do now?

Probably the most moving scene of the game (but not the most terrifying, that comes next) was when a small band of the leaders, primarily the player characters, were pitted with deciding what they should do next. Here was the essential conundrum: To focus our efforts on destroying Pitax or prepare for the civil war we must step into soon. The problem is that we really have to do both. Ignoring Irovetti means that he’ll sack our cities the moment move our forces north. Laying a long siege on Pitax means we’ll be over committed when we’re needed for the war up north.

Xanthia pointed out that the Nomen were loyal to us, and would view as siege on Pitax and an extension of their response to Pitax aggression. Further, we knew that Mivon had vested interest in crushing Pitax as well. Since it was unlikely we’d be able to bring those forces to bear against Issia, and since maintaining Aldoria gives us a staging ground for the attack (thanks Savia) and a place to fall back if we lose, it’s critical that we don’t give it up to Irovetti.

As we thought about all the possibilities, Miquela often repeated one mantra. “There are no bad ideas in brainstorming!”

The Plan

We’re going to siege Pitax. It’s the only thing to do. With Leccio’s knowledge of siege engines we’ll mobilize the ballista and catapults in Sellen’s Gate and begin construction of trebuchet and siege towers. We’ll do all that we can in two months and then hand the rest of the siege over to Mivon. In that time we’d commit our personal efforts to killing Irovetti and replacing him with an ally so the demon Avinash could not continue to lead the Pitaxian forces.

Rallying our Forces

Merrowyn stayed in Sellen’s Gate to mobilize our units, oversee the construction of siege weapons, and prepare the supply trains to keep our armies fed.

Elara and Miquela met up with Atonio Ribissi and he led a force of another 1,000 Mivon soldiers to aid us. The discussed giving the city to Mivon, but Ribissi didn’t want to extend themselves that far. Instead we agreed to sack the city, take all it’s wealth, divide up its lands, and leave Pitax as nothing but a memory.

Imogen and Olivetta teleported to the Tusk in order to find out what they could about Avinash’s motivation for targeting Aldoria. Presumably if there was something there that he wanted we might find a way to offer it to him or remove it from the equation.

A bargain struck

Books however, were of little use. They had already learned everything they could from researching in Leccio’s library. Imogen, perhaps always planning to do this suggested that there may be a demon which she could summon, bind, and then ask if it knew of Avinash, and what he sought in Aldoria. Foolishly, Olivetta agreed, and together the performed the ritual.

Imogen inscribed a magical circle of protection against evil and inverted the runels to funnel it inward. Then she cast a gate to reach the infernal realms and a binding to bring the demon Af, a fiendish Glabrezu to heed her call, but his next door neighbor picked up instead!

Demon Choices

Lahatiel, the creature that we faced so long ago in Vordekai’s lair, decided to interrupt the summons and show up instead, with a brand new sheen of demonic power at his disposal which he demonstrated by breaking the circle of protection as easily as one would smudge a chalk line.

With that big of terror on the table, he negotiated with Imogen and Olivetta, trading information for services. It wasn’t easy of course, these demons live for mystery and subterfuge, but he a positive disposition towards us as he was quite thankful that we send him back to the infernal realms as he had been trapped too long on the prime material plane and had been missing out on life back in hell.

After much deliberation however, a bargain was struck:

Imogen and Olivetta would ensure that souls promised to hell long, long ago, made their way there in our lifetime, and if they didn’t Imogen and Olivetta’s souls would go in their stead. In exchange we were granted three questions about Avinash Jurrg. To seal the deal lots of blood was shared and drunk, and apparently the most delicious thing you could ever imagine.

The questions three:

What does Avinash Jurrg seek in Aldoria? – He seeks an object inside Aldoria and to destroy it’s current inhabitants on behalf of another

[Oh snap, there is someone even bigger and badder?]

Who does he serve? – He serves no one.

[Thanks pal, way to be a sport].

Who does he work on behalf of? – He owes a favor to the Nymph Queen Nyrissa

[Knowledge: Planes check result 53!]

Nyrissa is a powerful nymph of the fey realm of the First World. Count Ranalc, one of the Eldest, the rulers of the realm, fell in love with her and bestowed upon her some of his essence. She grew haughty with power and considered herself one of the Eldest. As punishment the 13 Elders banished her to a demi plane Thousand Breaths and too from her part of her essence, which they forged into a weapon that can destroy her, and that she is completely blind to.

Avinash, as he works on her behalf cannot actually claim the weapon, but he can make way for her agent to do so and kill the usurpers in the process.

Hah! That’s how Irovetti got so powerful!

Big Bad Choices

Careful reading of the contract

Another revelation. The souls that were to be delivered? All the descendants of Choral the Conqueror! HAH! So that is how Choral got his dragons! And why he put all his family in stasis to cheat his way out of the deal. So much makes sense now.

Merrowyn’s read – we need a more powerful patron. She wonders what kind of army Gorum would offer up in exchange for all of her descendants? Or to be his agent on this world. Imogen can cast Contact Other Plane 1/week…

Meanwhile, in the land of less demonic…

A new army raised (Sellen’s Sentinals, 1000 3rd level fighters), Arvin’s Rangers bolstered (from 500 to 1000) and three siege engines built, we headed out for Pitax to do war. Along our armies were also the Nomen Centaur, Sootscale’s First Infantry, the Mivon Bravos, and a new army of Mivon Infantry. We renamed our Second Infantry to be the Wyvern Slayers (a title they earned) and moved out with them and the Swordlord’s Own! Quite a force.

When we arrived at the walls of Pitax our herald Rudolpho walked up to the gates to read our demands, that Irovetti be turned over to us and that the gates be opened for us. The response was…predictable.

“His Supreme and Inimitable Magnificence, Castruccio Irovetti, by the grace of the gods the rightful King of Pitax, Marvel of Numeria, Master of Mormouth, and Prince-Regent of the Sellen, will not surrender to the unlawful agressions of…”

What was a bit of surprise was the sound of panic and doubt in the herald’s voice, which was only increased when we started lobbing giant rocks of all shapes and their walls!

As the siege continued, and bow fire was traded, we saw something new in Leccio. Ever the mild mannered scholar, he was strutting about the battlefield (barefoot in his kilt of course) talking about how he was going to bring those walls down and how he would open that city up and all sorts of other boasts we would have expected out of a swordlord, but certainly not out of good Leccio! Yeah!

News of dangers to come

In the morning of the third day of the siege, Jerome presented an intercepted missive to Merrowyn. When she shared it with the group and they reviewed it, the message revealed that Irovetti had been developing a lethal version of the Horn of Fog, which would emit a toxic mist rather than just an obscuring one [Read: Cloudkill instead of Wall of Fog].

From some Knowledge: Local checks we realized it the location the weapon was being developed was Whiterose Abbey to the north. From a Knowledge: History we recalled it’s story:

Priests of Cayden Cailean were taken by the beauty of the white roses that grew upon the hill, they chose the hill as the site to build a remote abbey and winery. Over the decades that followed, the need for companionship eventually drove Evindra, a nereid, to contact the priests, and they welcomed her presence, seeing her as a benevolent spirit once she began to teach them the secret of how to enhance the quality of their wine by using purer forms of water and more efficient methods of filtration. A horrid halfling that offended the church of Cayden Cailean, rather than being banished was sent to Whiterose to tend the garden, hoping that he could do less harm in such a remote location.

Not much has been heard about Whiterose Abbey since.

Weapons of mass destruction? Not in our enemies hands! (we could at least agree to that, though Merrowyn was sorely tempted to use them on the upcoming mercenary armies, or to threaten to at least, if they didn’t turn back, others thought their use was absolutely out of the question… THERE ARE NO BAD IDEAS IN BRAINSTORMING).

Setting out

Thanks to Greater Teleport we all took a jaunt up to Whiterose. Before we headed out though:

  • Cronc personally packed Merrowyn’s pack for her, which she tried to make into a thing so she could flirt with him, but did it all wrong. Merrowyn isn’t good a flirting.
  • Olivetta told Leccio what she and Imogen had one wow, was he displeased. “You mad bad decisions when you’re with Imogen. Will you promise me that you won’t go off with her alone in the future?” A pretty reasonable request given that Olivetta had just bargained her soul away!

Whiterose Abbey

35-whiterose_abbey1

Unable to scry into the abbey itself (Olivetta didn’t preparing a scrying spell that day) we opted to try and get closer so that a Clairvoyance spell could be cast. Surreptitiously we crept along the outside wall to the ruined winery, crawled over it an entered. Once inside Imogen went about summoning Hound Archons (including Myrmidon of course) to teleport all through the grounds and report back to her.

The ones who went down the long tunnel under the abbey reported a pool of water at the end. The one that went into the guest house reported it was abandoned. The ones that entered the Abbey, even invisible, didn’t return. Imogen re-summoned Myrmidon who told her that something which was invisible itself, detected him and banished him, with quite a zing mind you!

The Starry Pool

We continued down the tunnel, again with hopes to use a Clairvoyance spell and to find out what was in the pool. Here’s what we found:

  1. A crystal clear pool of water.
  2. A constellation of starry lights glittering on the roof of the ceiling.
  3. A ledge beside it with many fungal blooms growing on it.
  4. A water clock covered in a tarp, which was not running because the reserve had been closed off.
  5. A face the water basin of said clock, that appeared to plead for mercy.
  6. A haunted scream followed by a mad advanced ghost halfling sorcerer monk with some serious firepower and a whole lot of fear factor!
  7. Six advanced willowisps with a whole lot of scorch factor.

The fight was a rough one. In part because only Olivetta and Merrowyn survived the first shriek, which caused everyone else to gain the panicked condition. Luckily for Elara and Miquela, it only lasted one round. Unluckily however, because of the panic they dropped their weapons and the ghosty ghost cast a black tentacles spell right where they dropped them. Evil and smart! Imogen was out for three round, which she spend in her room at the royal villa, thanks to a teleport spell. That was one surprised housekeeper!

I don’t track round by round accounts here but the fight was a rough one. Merrowyn took 227 points of damage, and only stayed up because she was raging, Ovinrbaane cast Aid on her, and Olivetta dropped a 140 hit point heal spell on her!

The ghosty ghost was bad news, dropping first a quickened hasted, then later quicked magic missiles every round, passing through us to age us horribly with each touch (thought the aging wore off after the damage was healed), and flying all over the place being super hard to hit and even then taking half damage on account of being incorporeal!

evindraFreeing Evindra

Once the ghost was defeated we got the startling suspicion that he was not gone for good. The more martially inclined members of our party swam down into the water where we found his bones. Above Imogen and Olivetta (a pairing Olivetta was quite concerned about) inspected the water clock and in doing so released the nereid Evindra from her watery prison.

Evindra was traumatized by the ordeal but was eventually able to tell us that she was here (and we suspected “here” meant on the prime material plane) for a reason. She had something she was supposed to do, but couldn’t quite remember it. We were eventually able to find out that she helped the priests make better wine, and that they were very kind to her, but that the creepy gardener had become obsessed with her, and to claim her has his own he eventually killed all the priest and caged her in the water clock.

[Note: The message that I get from this entire adventure path is a) Owlbears are best and b) Will-o-wisps are fucking jerks.]

Who knew t-rex likes his vegetables

After an attened at Clairaudience into the Abbey with which we heard very little, we made our way up to the top of the hill. Beside the abbey was a few other smaller buildings and a fenced off area that turned out to be a graveyard full of advanced shambling mounds.

They stood up, and we chopped them down, including an extra large tyrannosaurus rex that Imogen summoned, which swallowed one whole! So awesome!

Quotes

At least I know where I’ll go when I die” – Olivetta, on demon bargaining after forsaking your god.

There are no bad ideas in brainstorming” – Miquela, as we suggested some really bad ideas.

Chart of Accounts

Its been awhile since I’ve updated our ledger, mostly because until the last two sessions our games had been pretty loot-light so it wasn’t necessary, but we’ve come into a nice chunk of change

Item or Description  Quantity  Value Paid/Gained  For or From
Totals as of 1/2/2016     191
Sahuagin Barbarian:
Greataxe +3 18,320 7,328 (Sold for 40%)
Large Breastplate +3 9,550 3,820 (Sold for 40%)
Total as of 1/30/16     11,339
Scroll of Water Breathing -375 Imogen
Bracers of the Falcon -4,000 Elara
Tongues Permanency Spell -7,500 Imogen
Issian +3 Greatsword 18,350 9,175 Merrowyn
Total as of 2/20/2016     8,639
Rushlight Tournament:
Rod of Lordly Might 75,000 Divvy
Total as of 4/2/2016     8,639
Scroll of Regeneration -2,275 Olivetta
Scroll of Waves of Fatigue -1,125 Merrowyn
Villamor Koth:
Hide Armor +5 26,165 13,083
Ring of Protection +2 8,000 4,000
Potion of Barkskin (CL12) 1,200 Divvy
Potion of Heal (CL 15) 4,500 Divvy
Vicious Greataxe +2 18,320 9,160
Barbarian Ltd:
Greataxe +2 8,320 4,160
Hide Armor +3 9,165 4,583
Potion of Barkskin (CL6) 2 1,200 600
Ring of Protection +1 2,000 1,000
Cure Moderate Wounds Potion (CL9) 3 2,700 Divvy
Rune Giant:
Huge +3 Keen Adamantine Longspear 35,020 17,510
Breastplate +4 16,950 8,475
Intricate Clay Barrel of Rice Wine 2,000 Divvy
Large Gold Ingots 40 20,000 20,000
Mithril Ore (40 lb) 20,000 20,000
Total as of 5/1/2016     107,809
Crazy ghost hafling gardner:
Water Clock 2,500 2,500
Rod of Lesser Quicken Metamagic (3rd level or lower) 35,000 Olivetta or Imogen
Total as of 5/21/2016     110,309

What rocked

Debating our actions, with the legitimate fear that overcommitting to war with Pitax would surely mean we could not win the war with Issia to come, was fucking awesome. Importantly because if showed a divide that we didn’t know existed. One one side Miquela and Merrowyn very much believe that the only purpose of Aldoria is to be a staging ground to prepare for the war with Issia, and more importantly that losing Aldoria is an acceptable price for winning the war. Olivetta and Elara however didn’t grow up in Rostland, they knew of the family, but didn’t lived under Issian rule. Aldoria is there home and the are ready to sacrifice it. Imogen ultimately doesn’t care about the Issians at all, they are just an obstacle in the path of defeating her true foes, the Rogarvians.

Some pretty deep stuff there, and I was delighted to see it all come to the surface.

The entire demon summoning and negotiation was wonderfully agonizing. A particularly beautiful part was when Imogen tried to summon forth a cup of Lahatiel’s blood with a mage hand spell but it could not penetrate his spell resistance, so wincingly she took it herself, coming far closer than she wanted to the demon.

Also the scenes of them licking their lips and craving another taste of his blood. So good.

The Imogen and Olivetta antics just keep getting better and better. After Leccio’s request that they not be alone together, we just kept pressing on that obvious solution to every problem “Oh, why don’t Olivetta and Imogen go do that…” It was awesome! As was Imogen’s uncertainty about why Olivetta was acting strange around her, and why Leccio was giving her side-eye.

Leccio’s talk with Olivetta was super endearing.

When Imogen pancked and teleported back to her bed chambers and then spend three rounds screaming as a terrified housekeeper also screamed back in terror, was awesome. The fact that at the end Imogen released the dire tiger which she had been storing as a tattoo on her back (which just terrified the housekeeper even further) and then teleported back so that her little black ichorous kitty could pouce the ghost and tear it asunder was AWESOME!

Merrowyn got to ride a Colossal T-Rex. It just doesn’t get much better than this. And yes, in case your wondering, Merrowyn really just wants to ride big things. She’s not all that subtle. Note, she also not good at flirting. I think she’ll have to be more direct with Cronc (who, btw, packed her some very nice spiced rum in her travel kit, what a sweetie).

That fight was a fun one. Lots of surprises from the ghost, and resourcefulness on our part (Elara casting communal resist energy against lightning was a clincher!). Improved Vital Strike with a greatsword while enlarged and sneak attacking…is nice!

What could have been improved

I think I don’t know how to flirt (like Sean, personally doesn’t). Merrowyn was trying to create an inside joke with Cronc, but everyone said it came off like I was brushing him off. Ah well, it makes sense for Merrowyn to be terrible at nuanced social interactions.