Actual Play – Big Damn Heroes (9/26/2015)

Blood for BloodGM: Dennis Jordan
Players: Regina Joyner, Karen Twelves, Eric Fattig, and Sean Nittner
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Kingmaker

At the sight of Miquela, Pietro (freshly resurrected) feinted on the spot. Everyone expected someone else was going to catch him but instead he went back like a board and he his head hit the floor…hard. He didn’t move. We couldn’t tell if he was breathing.

We all stood in silent horror. Shit, did he die again? What does that even mean if he did? Has this game switched from Pathfinder to Fiasco? We stood there, speechless, until…

Johah, the inquisitor of Pharasma, burst out laughing.

Finding our family

Last session we finally recovered Pietro (albiet a dead Pietro) and after hunting him down through some crazy ancient forgotten Emerald spire and were now going to find out from him where the hostages were being kept.

To facilitate this, the head of our new founded central intelligence Jerome, asked if he could interrogate the prisoner without Miquela present, and he wasn’t sure how many more resurrections this kid had left in him (The swordlord does tend to get a bit stabby with people who have betrayed her).

In the next small council meeting (as we waited for information from Pietro)

  • Cobb suggested keeping Lord Sellemus in the dark about his son which we temporarily agreed to.
  • We all agreed it was time to call the banners and get the hostages.
  • After we recovered the hostages we also agreed that there would be no reason not to go to war with Brevoy, except that are armies aren’t nearly large enough. In order to hold our own they need to grow to ten times their current size. Once that happens we’ll be ready for:
    • War with Pitax (if we can get Mivon to step in and help)
    • War with Brevoy (if we can unify the Restov swordlords)

The children are in Skywatch

When report came back from Jerome we found out:

  • Pietro has been working with the Surtovas for ages, since he was a teenager. Never thought highly of by his own father, Pietro saw Noleskin as a father figure, and hand a lingering fancy for Queen Natala.
  • He’s dumb, but not as dumb as people think. They worked with Pitax to kill one of the four groups sent out, which confirms we’re the only ones that have survived this long.
  • The hostages are in Skywatch. Time for a history lesson folks.

The observatory at Skywatch has been there forever. Thought to be built by celestial creatures (though we suspect cyclops), it’s surface is utterly impenetrable. When Choral the Conquerer united the two nations there was one group of ultra nationalist swordords, the Night Blades that continued to fight even when their country had fallen. The took control of Skywatch and through several underground networks smuggling supplies they were able to hold it for a year. Finally, after sending all of his mundane forces against it and failing Choral brought in his dragons and burned everything to ashes. All but the observatory, which was untarnished by the flames.

It was claimed by the Rogarvians, but granted to the Surtovas to rebuild and after they had built it, they lived their. Some other things we know it about it:

  • It cannot be penetrated by magic (teleportation and scrying doesn’t even work within a mile of it)
  • There are rumored to be catacombs under it.
  • Based on Pietro’s knowledge there are at least 200 troops there (as of a month ago).

Cobb suggested we let him send in a highly trained team to gather intelligence and ferret out the hostages. It would take a month, maybe two. We didn’t have that long. We couldn’t keep Pietro hidden for long and who knows what would happen to the hostages during that time. It was time to go!

Strike Team

We had our expected line up…

  • Miquela, our Swordlord
  • Elara, our Warden and closest to Rudolfo, along with her old companion Kiri.
  • Merrowyn, the General

Then their were our stalwart companions:

  • Tad on Xanthia’s back (and she was flying???)
  • Mik Mek
  • Giovanni (he was going to get his son and sister back!)
  • Rombilard and the Twins (who would never miss the action)

We also had recruits brought up from within our ranks:

  • Franco and five of the Swordlord’s Own (including Nolan and Stoney).
  • Brigitte and three healers of Abadar.
  • Three of Enza Aldori’s finest students.
  • Jerome and three of his infiltrators.

Ambassadors of good will from parts near an far:

  • Sootscale arrived with Nat Pick and 20 of his Kobold Elite
  • Antoni Ribissi of Mivon arrived with five duelists and a wizard.
  • Chall Fingo and his entourage include two men-at-arms and Jarl the wizard, as per his agreement many moons back.

We couldn’t get all of us that far north, even with all our combined wizards using all their powers of teleportation, so we called in a favor. Jarl contacted his mentor, and ancient elf named Lauren, one of the archmages of Golarion, who created a teleportation circle that would bring us all close by, and then promised to have another ready for us the next day to retreat.

Finally there were two who arrived at the last moment before we set out:

  • Santiago, though forbidden by Miquela, burst into the teleportation circle at the last moment.
  • Akiros, who we expected to come with but no one had heard word of showed up “Erastil told me I need to be here”.

Those left behind to guard the Tusk

We couldn’t just all go! Despite wanting to come with, we had to leave few behind to ensure there would be a kingdom to come back to.

  • Edward, left in charge
  • Domingo, still wheeling and dealing
  • Jahad, to look after the poeple
  • Toti, to keep the clerics of Abadar in check.
  • Arvin, to watch our borders
  • Leccio, to provide us what wisdom he could from his library
  • Cobb, our contingency plan
  • Hima, to guard Floriana
  • Enza, there must be a dueling master in ever swordlord’s capitol!
  • Sootscale, to unleash the horde should an enemy choose now to strike.

The costs (financial ones)

Our personal costs for potions to go on this trip:

Description Qty Value Cost
See Invisibility (CL3) 4 -300 -1200
Invisibility (CL3) 4 -300 -1200
Darkvision (CL3) 4 -300 -1200
Fly (CL 5) 4 -750 -3000

Costs to equip the rest of the troops and arrange the logistics: another 50,000 in expenses (12 Build points when we get to Kingdom phase).

The Rescue

We all hopped through the teleport circle about five miles north of Skywatch in a craggy region that was well concealed. We sent out scouts to report on the current status and a few hours later they returned back reporting that 100 cavalry were moving towards Skywatch, all of them “Slashers” the Brevoy elite. In front of them was an eerie black carriage that floated without wheels and was driven by eight black horses. Inside the town near the observatory were 500 troops.

We opted to come in from the size, circumvent the town all together, open the gates and let our folks storm in while we kept the slashers busy. That was the plan at least!

Highlights of the Fight

  • Elara dropping a volcanic storm in the center of the Slashers slowing them all down and blocking visibility.
  • Oliveta impersonating a Slasher and then using Mass Suggestion to get a dozen of them to clump together around a single sergeant.
  • Miquela running to lead the wedge when Fraco had fallen to a disintegrate spell.
  • Merrowyn leaping from rooftop to rooftop to pull all the necessary levers to open the gates and tag team fighting with Mik Mek.

Remarkable actions of the our allies:

  • Chall Fingo making a direct b-line to the wizards and cutting them down despite his entourage taking grievous injuries.
  • Franco leading the charge of the Swordlords own and not one of them breaking after he was disintegrated by Stroon. Fucking Stroon!
  • Santiago running off on his own, chasing down a scent and finding Rudolfo (later).
  • Akiros keeping calm as there is a delay in opening the gates.
  • Our bad ass Kobold assassin archers.
  • The Stone Face Killer and Mik Mek fist bump.
  • Tad flying on Xanthia’s back raining down explosive arrows.
  • Aldo showing us he still had it in him, by dropping the first Slasher with a single arrow, and then nearly killing Stroon with one shot. Also some adorable moments between him and his son Roy trading compliments.
  • Rombilard and Felix going full bear on the Slashers.

Inside the Observatory

After slaying a whole ass ton of Slashers (and emphatically avoiding going anywhere near that spooky carriage) we made our way into the observatory and then went down… so far down.

There we fought wizards and rogues and did more killing until we finally got the end where we found Narise (the hand maiden of Queen Natala), our hostages, and about 20 killers ready to kill those hostages.

And then the Swordlord and Narise negotiated. Tensely.

In the end we left them go and they gave us back the hostages. Despite a lot of super evil dudes that wanted to do some murdering and some super good guys who really didn’t want to see those super evil guys walk away free.

A count of those lost

  • Franco, leader of the Swordlord’s Own, disintegrated by Stroon.
  • Nolan, one of the Swordlords’s Own
  • One of Chall’s entourage
  • Two of the academy duelists
  • One of the Twins
  • A duelist of Mivon
  • One of Jerome’s infiltrators
  • Four of Sootscale’s kobolds

More mysteries inside Skywatch

Miquela realized that as Narise was leaving, she hinted that dangerous as it was to be in Skywatch, it held something valuable. Later one of our scouts reported finding something very strange.

A giant room, filled with tables? beds? something. And on each of them was one one of the Rogarvian family. Apparently all of the Rogarvian family. Completely frozen.

Olivetta had cast dominate person on one of the rogues and she sent him into investigate. The moment he passed through an invisible barrier he was locked in place and his telepathic connection with Olivetta was completely cut off!

Much as we knew Leccio would love to see this, there was no way to get him here magically or to hold Skywatch long enough for him to travel this far. We had to go and we had to leave this mystery behind. One thing we knew for sure was that this was the work of some epic level sorcery, the likes of which we doubt any Surtova has ever mustered. Whoever did this, for whatever reason they did it, the Surtova’s used it to their advantage!

We freed the hostages!

Despite our losses and this mystery we raced away from Skywatch with 500 soldiers on our heels. We made it to the extraction point and teleported home. All of the hostages with us!

Epilogue

We found out that Savia, once sober, had been the one to hold everyone else together. She was the rock that kept them steady. That strength of character lasted just until she got home and hit the drink. Then she took it all out on Toti. Awww.

Elara went to see Rudolpho and rejoiced that he was still alive.

Merrown brought Domingo to see his mother.

Miquela made a pillow barrier around her children and slept with them in her giant bed.

Olivetta watched Rudolpho and Giovanni unite. She then was seen talking to a carpenter and gathering her things to move out of the Tusk and build a little shake of her own.

Aldo and Roy drinking together.

Robilard and Felix wrestling while drunk.

The twins, one of them getting the other ressurected.

Franco’s commemoration by his soldiers.

Tad and Xanthia heading off to be alone.

Sootscale arriving with an entourage to pick up their fallen.

As Miquela nodded off for the night and one of the babies woke and started fussing, a single reptilian and coming up out of the shadows to give it a pacifier and calm it once again.

What rocked

This rescue operation was  long time in the coming. It was great to finally get to do it.

Merrowyn hardly ever pulled out her sword. I think she stabbed one dude that Mik Mek was tussling with and maybe an assassin. It was fun having other things for her to do (namely opening the giant doors) besides stabbing things.

Dennis did a masterful job of managing a truly gigantic combat. I would have never taken on something so daunting and handled it with such granularity. Some combats have interesting terrain or environmental factors that effect them. In this game, the environment was the battle itself, and all the people we cared about in it!

What could have improved

Hard to say really. There were some tactical elements (like needing to open two doors) that might have been more clear if we were using a battle map or if we specifically announced that we were going to examine the mechanics of the door. But mostly likely that would have taken a really tough Knowledge (Engineering) check that none of us would have made, so we were likely to find out the hard way one way or another.

Next session

Kingdom turns

Freedom day celebration!

Honoring those who lived and those who died to bring our families home.

And more I’m sure!