Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Session # 2 [RPG]

23 Rova 4707 (continued)

Having successfully defended Sandpoint from a surprise goblin raid, the adventurers return to the house where they left a bound goblin, hoping to interrogate it.  Unfortunately, when they arrive they see members of the Watch removing the goblin and lifting it into the back of a hay-wagon containing a few other prisoners.  Sheriff Hemlock is there overseeing events, and calls the adventurers over for a quick word.  He says all non-emergency personnel should be off the streets, and asks them to come to the garrison at Nine Bells in the morning for a full report since they were spotted fighting goblins.

Lonjiku Kaijitsu
The adventurers head towards the Rusty Dragon.  Bey, who oddly seems to see better at nighttime than during the day, notices Xeveg’s newly-acquired medallion and asks him about it.  The two realize they have a shared interest in the history and language of ancient Thassilon.  When the adventurers reach the inn, they realize they’ve become local heroes, as several townspeople come by to pat them on the back, shake their hand, or buy them drinks.  The evening of drinking and companionship continues for some hours until interrupted by the inn’s front door slamming and the arrival of an older Tian man who is obviously angry.  The newcomer shouts something in a language the adventurers don’t understand and then stalks through the common room as the previously boisterous conversation quiets completely.  Bethana Corwin, the Rusty Dragon’s halfing maid, whispers to the group that it’s Lonjiku Kaijitsu; she clearly understands what he is shouting about.  When Lonjiku sets eyes on the adventurers, he condemns their “antics” and derisively says they should have left the fighting to the professionals.

The adventurers argue back until the doors to the kitchen swing open and Lonjiku focuses his seething gaze on his daughter, Ameiko.  Lonjiku shouts at Ameiko, again in a foreign tongue, and then grabs her by the hair as if to drag her out of the inn!  Ameiko brains him with a soup ladle and Felix intervenes, restraining the enraged Lonjiku.  The Tian man thrusts out a finger towards Ameiko and says in accented Common:  “You are as dead to me as your mother!”  Felix allows him to turn and head for the door, when suddenly, out of nowhere, Oliver does a running slam-tackle on the old man!  Oliver makes as if to arrest Lonjiku, when he realizes everyone in the common room is shocked by his behaviour.  A local at a nearby table whispers to him that Lonjiku is head of one of the town’s founding families, and Felix adds that as much as he liked the violence, it might not be worth antagonizing a town leader.  Lonjiku himself spews an unending torrent of threats towards Oliver, including promises to contact the Sheriff, the Mayor, the Town Council, and even the Justice Court of Magnimar over the indignity.  After chewing it over, Oliver decides to let Lonjiku go.  The older man storms out, his clothes dirty and his face cut and bruised from the altercation.

Conversation in the common room starts to pick up again, as now the locals have both the goblin raid and an assault on the head of a founding family to talk about.  Xeveg and Bey try to convince Bethana to explain what Lonjiku and Ameiko were arguing about, but she’s reluctant to discuss her employer’s family affairs with strangers, even if they are heroes.  Oliver decides to ask Ameiko directly, and finds her in the kitchen trying to keep her composure; she kindly but similarly tells him to just let things be.  Having had quite the day, the adventurers go up to their rooms, but stop to take note of a “Help Wanted” sign near the bar.  It lists several opportunities, including dung-sweeping for someone named Gorvi, finding a lost spyglass for Brodert Quink, removing a snake from a well for Mayor Deverin, auditioning for a new play at the Sandpoint Theatre, and a bounty on goblin ears by Daviren Hosk at the Goblin Squash Stables.  That night, Bey has a memorable dream about peering into a dark tunnel or hole and being lunged at by a fanged creature.

24 Rova 4707

Having forged a bond the previous night, the four adventurers decide to breakfast together in the morning.  They discuss the Help Wanted board and decide that, after meeting with Sheriff Hemlock and accepting Madame Mvashti’s invitation to have tea with Bey and her friends, they should perhaps help Mayor Deverin with her snake problem.  The adventurers see three liveried servants, obviously not staff of the Rusty Dragon, carefully preparing a table for one.  Some minutes later, Aldern Foxglove makes his way down to breakfast, looking far more composed than when the adventurers encountered him the previous evening.  He is delighted to see his rescuers and invites them to dine with him.  He eats daintily and delicately, but is quite personable.  As a reward for saving his life, he invites the adventurers to go on a boar hunt with him in nearby Tickwood.  He offers to buy the adventurers mounts and boar spears, which they can keep, and says he plans to depart for the hunt at dawn the next day.  The group accept his offer and hurry off to their appointment with Sheriff Hemlock after reminding Oliver he needs to dress in more than a simple bathrobe!

Sheriff Hemlock is in a conference room littered with maps and reports when the adventurers arrive.  He says he’s heard several reports of the adventurers’ running battles against the goblins, and after asking them to confirm several details (which Xeveg does aptly), he offers sincere gratitude, even going so far as to tell Felix that he’s willing to give him another chance.  Sheriff Hemlock tells Oliver that he is more than welcome to maintain his provisional status in the Town Watch.  Hemlock explains that he has his deputies investigating several locations where goblins were spotted last night, and assigns Oliver to follow up on two leads: the Boneyard and Junk Beach. 

Before leaving the garrison, the adventurers decide to personally interrogate the captured goblins, four of whom are held in a basement cell.  Xeveg is able to speak the guttural goblin language and translates (sometimes quite loosely) for his allies.  At first the goblins refuse to provide any useful information and make fun of the adventurers, but when Xeveg bluffs them into thinking they’ll be executed by horse-trampling if they don’t cooperate, they begin to talk.  The goblins, two of whom are from Mosswood and two of whom are from Shank’s Wood, say that lots of goblins from all over were in on the raid.  Two say they were snuck into Sandpoint in a covered wagon, while the other two came over a wall via ladder, and all were instructed by their boss, a “longshanks”, to kill and burn at will.  The Shank’s Wood goblins confirm they never go to nearby Tickwood because of the wild boars there.  While the interrogation is going on, Felix encounters the town jailer, a Shoanti man named Vachedi.

Madame Mvashti
The adventurers head across town towards Madame Mvashti’s residence.  Bey has a difficult time convincing her allies that it’s worth their time to meet with the seer, but they reluctantly go along.  On the way, the adventurers receive further evidence of their popularity in the harbor town; Aneka Avertin of Sandpoint Savories rushes out with a gift basket of pastries for the “Heroes of Sandpoint”, while Felix and Oliver receive seductive smiles and winks from a ginger-haired beauty they haven’t met yet.  Madame Mvashti’s house turns out to be a sprawling, decrepit mansion.  After being welcomed in by her niece, Gianya Frallino, the group is taken to Madame Mvashti’s sitting room which is chock-full of bizarre trinkets, concoctions, wooden masks, and more.  Madame Mvashti throws the bones and does a reading for the group.  She says that trouble has been brewing for five years now, and that it’s about to erupt from above and below.  Last night’s raid was just a drop in the bucket of the devastation sure to come to Sandpoint, but there’s still a chance the fates can be swayed if heroes arise to stem the tide.  She finds Oliver particularly amusing, saying he has heart but no head, and gifts him with a dusty jar full of briny liquid to drink when “things are at their worst.”  She also expresses her fondness for Xeveg, who is clearly sceptical of her ability to foretell the future, saying that he has head but no heart and that perhaps he and Oliver can learn from each other.  Madame Mvashti finishes by saying it’s time for her nap, but that Bey and her friends are welcome to come again.

The newly-built Sandpoint Cathedral is the adventurers’ next destination.  It’s the town’s largest building by far, home to chapels to six different faiths (Abadar, Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Sarenrae, and Shelyn), and features an open-air courtyard with ancient standing stones that served as a place of worship for the indigenous Varisians for generations.  Sister Arva, one of the temple’s four acolytes, expresses her willingness to heal the adventurers in gratitude for their valour the night prior.  The adventurers then travel through the cathedral and out a back door that leads directly to the Boneyards, Sandpoint’s cemetery.  The Boneyards overlooks the Turandarok River, and in addition to the expected grave plots it features dozens of stone vaults owned by the more affluent members of the community.

Xeveg’s keen eyes quickly spots where the goblins climbed over the wall.  Oliver’s woodland skill in tracking reveals that there were six goblins and one lightweight humanoid.  The ranger follows the tracks from the wall to a particular vault whose heavy square door still hangs ajar.  Felix puts his shoulder to the door and forces it open further, revealing four stone sarcophagi inside.  But far more pressing to the skilled brawler are two skeletal abominations that leaps out at him with rusty scimitars and bony claws!  Fortunately, Felix dodges away from their attacks and shatters one of their skulls with his fist!  Xeveg’s darting ray of positive energy and Oliver’s greatsword make short work of the remaining skeleton.  After the battle, Xeveg examines the remnants of the skeletons and realizes they were magically conjured from nothingness and were never the bones of an actual corpse.  Inside the vault, he sees the lid to one of the sarcophagi has been pried open and is empty; a plaque on its side reads: “Father Ezakien Tobyn, Honoured Citizen of Sandpoint and Priest of Desna.”  In addition, crumpled up in a corner of the vault is a black robe that Xeveg realizes has some sort of connection to necromancy.  He stuffs it in his backpack.  The group look for a secret door but do not find one.

Oliver discerns that the intruders then went towards a cemetery gate, but he loses their trail once it leads onto a cobblestone road in the town proper.  The adventurers decide to return to the cathedral and confer with Father Zantus about the missing body.  He is distraught at hearing the news that Father Tobyn’s body has been stolen.  He explains that Father Tobyn died in the same fire that burned down Sandpoint’s previous chapel five years previously, and that he was a mentor to many in the community, including Father Zantus himself.  He has no idea why someone would steal the body of a priest.  The adventurers decide to stay for the noon dedication ceremony of the cathedral, which is a much quieter and more intimate affair than the interrupted ceremony planned for the night prior.  After the ceremony, Bey takes the opportunity to ask Mayor Deverin about the request she placed on the Rusty Dragon’s “Help Wanted” board.  Mayor Deverin confirms that one of the wells at Deverin Manor has been befouled by a snake, and that the adventurers would be rewarded if they can remove it.  She says to speak to her groundskeeper for more information.

The adventurers head to Junker’s Edge, a clifftop overlooking the sea and a junk-covered beach below, in order to follow-up on the second goblin spotting that Sheriff Hemlock told them about.  Hoping to kill two birds with one stone, Bey mentions to the others that Brodert Quink may have lost his spyglass in the area.  Xeveg and Felix work together to determine the most likely spot on the beach below that a spyglass would end up if it were to have dropped accidentally.  Felix spots a narrow channel down the side of the cliff-face that could provide a safe path down to the beach below, and everyone sets off.  Oliver slips on the way down and crashes into Bey, and both end up with scrapes and bruises.  When everyone reaches the beach, they split up to look for the spyglass.  Bey is poking through various bits of debris when she suddenly hears a shriek right underneath her feet; a goblin had hidden himself in the sand and junk and fallen asleep, and Bey stepped right on him!  His shriek awakens three other goblins hidden nearby, and in moments a fight is on.

Junker's Edge
The goblins are undisciplined, easily distracted combatants.  Nonetheless, Oliver quickly drinks the strange concoction given to him by Madame Mvashti for emergencies and discovers that it is a powerful healing potion; but as he hadn’t yet been wounded, it has little effect.  Bey tussles with one of the goblins only to realize it’s attacking her with a brass spyglass; when Oliver kills it, Felix does a diving leap to catch the spyglass before it crashes into the ground.  Having exhausted his offensive magicks, Xeveg uses a shovel to fight the goblins and nearly decapitates one.  Felix continues to prove himself a master of unarmed fighting and in seconds all of the goblins are dead.  Oliver collects ears for the bounty, and the adventurers espy a burlap sack containing a mixture of rotting garbage and semi-valuable items like a copper necklace and a filthy but workable hand crossbow.  The climb back up the cliff is again perilous, as Xeveg falls twice before being pulled up with a rope lowered by Felix.  As the adventurers catch their breath, they notice a horse-drawn cart arrive with more junk to drop over the side.

The inhabitants of Sandpoint have quickly taken to Bey, Oliver, Xeveg, and Felix, and the local heroes have continued their record of success by uncovering the theft of Father Tobyn’s body and catching four more goblins.  But will their encounter with Lonjiku Kaijitsu come back to haunt them?
Director's Commentary (30/01/2017)

I was really proud of how I role-played the argument between Lonjiku and Ameiko--handling both sides of a shouting match is a challenging thing for a director!  The encounter, which I understand was added to the Anniversary Edition, did an excellent job encapsulating Lonjiku's and Ameiko's relationship.  The PCs *just* missed the Diplomacy DCs to find out what was going on from Bethana (and later, Ameiko).  Of course, nobody expected the encounter to end with old man Lonjiku being slam-tackled!  The player running Oliver is brand new to RPGs and is a little . . . enthusiastic.  Tie in his insistence on running around in a bath robe and his drinking what turned out to be a healing potion while at full health, and you have one strange dude running around Sandpoint.

One of the minor additions I've made to the adventure path that has worked extremely well is posting various items to the Rusty Dragon's "Help Wanted" board.  This has served as an excellent way to introduce minor side-quests and add some character to events happening in the town.  The incident at Junk Beach is taken from the encounter of the same name from the Dark Waters Rising hardcover (collecting the first six issues of the Pathfinder comic).  That comic has proved to be an excellent resource to flesh out Sandpoint and its surroundings.

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