Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Recap # 17 [RPG]

[7 Lamashan 4707 continued]

After the difficult battle over the Shadows in an ancient crypt below the surface of Thistletop, Ome finds a secret door hidden in an alcove.  Arnald, weakened from the strength-draining touch of the creatures, takes off his armor and gear and decides to rest while the others continue exploring.  The secret door leads to a passage sloping steeply downward, and eventually ending in what was once a treasury but is now partially submerged under seawater.  Two of the remaining walls of the chamber depict carvings of incredible treasures, while the third shows a towering mountain, its peak carved in the shape of a stern face above a great palace on the side of the mountain, overlooking an immense city of spires.  Eugeni draws closer to the pool of water and notices thousands of coins glinting from the light of Ome’s everburning torch.  The pool contains a stranger treasure, however: a massive helmet, almost five-feet wide, made of gold.  But as Eugeni looks at it more closely, he sees eyes move within it and then the helmet rotates!  

Giant Hermit Crab
The giant hermit crab which has adopted the helmet as its shell watches the adventurers closely.  Shalelu tells her allies that, obviously, Nualia is not here and that they should depart, but Ome and Eugeni are transfixed by the amount of treasure in the pool and decide to attack!  Eugeni transmutes his hair until the strands are dozens of feet long and wrap around the hermit grab.  Ome and Shalelu begin shooting arrows into the trapped invertebrate, but then it breaks free and charges towards the adventurers, opening and closing massive pincers!  Shalelu shouts in agony as one of the pincers crushes her ribcage and throws her unconscious form against a wall.  Some distance away, Arnald hears the cry and decides to come to his companions’ aid.

As Ome darts in and out of the chamber to avoid the giant crab, Eugeni tries to entrap it again with his magically-enhanced hair, but he gets caught by a pincer as well!  Arnald arrives on the scene and revives Shalelu with a healing potion, but no one is fast enough to aid Eugeni as the half-orc is grievously wounded and tossed aside like a rag doll.  Ome appears cornered, but manages to tumble her way free and runs out of the room to rejoin Shalelu and Arnald who have already withdrawn.  With all of the intruders out of sight except for the unconscious Eugeni, the giant crab begins to devour its fresh kill.  Ome returns to the chamber just in time to see her friend die and cries out in sorrow.  She begins firing arrow after arrow into the crab until it finally succumbs.  The overwrought tengu tears the crab apart with her bare claws before realizing something significant: with all of the treasure in the chamber, perhaps she could pay a cleric to bring her friend back to life!  The three survivors work hard to collect the thousands of coins, precious stones, and other treasures in the chamber and then return to the surface stockade.  There, Arnald takes the lead and uses his axe to chop down enough planks to build a makeshift catamaran capable of hauling the adventurers, Eugeni’s corpse, the coins, and the massive helmet back to Sandpoint.  Exhausted and demoralized, the invaders rest in a secure chamber for the evening.

[8 Lamashan 4707]

The adventurers row, with some difficulty, the makeshift catamaran all the way back to Sandpoint.  At the dock, Shalelu says her farewell for the time being, saying she plans to rest and then head for the wilderness to see if she can find any trace of Nualia.  Ome and Arnald haul the thousands of coins and the massive golden helm to the town hall and barter with Sister Arva, the town banker, to exchange the treasure for platinum pieces.  Subsequent visits are made to the town jeweller and the Feathered Serpent, the proprietors of each of which watch Ome quite closely as the reputation of tengu as thieves and scoundrels is well known.  At the cathedral, Father Zantus is saddened to hear that yet another has died to protect Sandpoint.  When pressed, he acknowledges having a single scroll with the power to raise someone from the dead, but claims it is intended for the truest of emergencies only (such as the death of Mayor Deverin or Sheriff Hemlock in a time of crisis) and that he can’t guarantee it will work.  He is reluctantly persuaded to use it on Eugeni on the condition that the funds necessary to replace the scroll are provided to him as soon as possible.  Ome and Father Zantus agree that, in the morning, Eugeni’s spirit will be contacted through magic to determine if the half-orc would wish to return to the mortal plane.

Kaye Tessarani
Later that day, Ome visits a location she is quite familiar with: the Pixie’s Kitten.  Many of the employees of Sandpoint’s elegant and tasteful brothel are fellow devotees of the goddess Calistria, and Ome is personal friends with the owner, Kaye Tesarani.  Ome receives consolation on her friend’s death and a safe place to sleep for the night.

[9 Lamashan 4707]

In the morning, Ome and Arnald meet at the cathedral where Father Zantus has prepared a spell to speak with Eugeni’s spirit.  Although the answers received are brief and cryptic, those assembled understand them to mean that Eugeni’s spirit is willing to return and that, if necessary, his possessions can be sold to raise the necessary funds to do so.  Father Zantus suggests the ceremony should take place at dusk, and says he’s willing to go forward with it even if the adventurers haven’t quite raised the total funds necessary to replace the scroll.  However, he notes again that there is a risk of failure, and that clerics in Magnimar will prove more capable than he; but also, less willing to be as understanding about payment.

Ome decides to sell a dagger, possessed by Eugeni, that is made out of the rare and valuable metal adamantine.  She first visits the Red Dog Smithy and sees Das Korvut hard at work on a bardiche; the blacksmith sends the tengu over to Savah’s Armory.  There, after repeated assurances and even a signed document attesting that the dagger came into her hands lawfully, Ome is able to sell the dagger for over 2,000 gold pieces.  Later, she persuades Arnald to do the talking when the pair walk to the headquarters of the Sandpoint Mercantile League to collect the posted bounty on the bandit Shank.  However, not having obtained any proof of their deed, the adventurers are turned back.  Ome spends the rest of the afternoon at the Pixie’s Kitten, drinking and telling stories to his friends about some of the previous adventures she and Eugeni had.  Arnald, having been turned away at the door by Shoanti bouncers due to a refusal to have his weapons checked, waits across the street.

At dusk, the final preparations are in place at the cathedral. Eugeni’s body lies on a stone altar in the centre of the cathedral, under the open sky of the central courtyard.  Father Zantus has assembled all of his available acolytes to assist him with the complex spell, and thus represented are the faiths of Desna, Gozreh, Abadar, Shelyn, and Erastil.  Receiving a final nod from Ome, Father Zantus unfurls the scroll and begins intoning its pleas for the spirit to return to the flesh.  But whether from Father Zantus’ inexperience or the will of the gods, the spell summons not life but a bolt of lightning from the cloudless sky that incinerates Eugeni’s corpse to ashes!  “This was a being never meant to return to life!” shouts Father Zantus, interpreting the result as divine disapproval.  Ome is furious at what she perceives as Father Zantus’ bungling, and she demands a return of the several thousand gold pieces she gave him to conduct the ceremony.  But Father Zantus is uncharacteristically unyielding and says that the gods have spoken and that the scroll must be replaced.  Ome calls him a thief, eliciting a gasp from the assembled acolytes, before scraping the ashes into a  porcelain jar to be given to Eugeni’s parents.

Thus ends the beginning chapter in an epic story of ancient threats risen anew and the heroes who will face the greatest of perils to stop evil from sweeping across the land.
Director's Commentary (12/06/2017)

A dramatic and somewhat bitter end to the first chapter of the adventure path.  It was definitely a more lethal chapter than the writers and most groups have experienced, and made me very, very nervous about what would happen when the real threats started mounting in later chapters!  Although Bey's player would be back for the start of Chapter 2 so the group would have four PCs, the death toll made me start looking very seriously for a fifth player.

The death of Eugeni was a disappointing but avoidable one, and perhaps encapsulates the theme of adventurers and their greed.  The timing of the battle was unfortunate, as Arnald had decided to rest in an adjoining chamber, Shalelu was badly hurt, and Eugeni's and Ome's players were still learning the best ways to use their characters.  The battle started off well, but then went downhill fast.  Giant hermit crabs are tougher than they look!  On the other hand, no risk, no reward.  That's the life (and death) of adventurers.

The disaster of the attempt to cast raise dead on Eugeni was because Father Zantus was much too low of a level to automatically succeed in using the scroll, and thus had to roll a caster level check: he rolled a natural 1.  Natural 1s on rolls are treated as automatic failures and critical fumbles under our house rules, so I had the body struck by lightning and the scroll destroyed.  The scroll being destroyed was a mistake, as I assumed it automatically happened with the failure to use a scroll, but I didn't discover I had messed up until talking with a fellow GM a couple of days later.  I gave Eugeni's player the option to assume another scroll became available, but he was happy to move on and work on another PC--and this one would go on to survive the entirety of Chapter Two!

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1 comment:

black heart said...

"he was happy to move on and work on another PC--and this one would go on to survive the entirety of Chapter Two!"
私は生きた !!!!
~The guy who dies too much