Actual Play – Howl of the North Trophy Room (12/28/2013)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: Dennis Jordan
Players: Regina Joyner, Karen Twelves, Mia Blankensop, and Sean Nittner
System: Pathfinder
Adventure Path: Kingmaker

Less paper, more rock! Amazingly, I was a tad disappointed that we didn’t do another Kingdom building turn. I mean, I love adventuring, but I was kind of hoping to build that pier!

A questing we will go

Last session we were so eager to run out in the woods and kills stuff that we didn’t pick up the plethora of quests available to us. Dennis fixed that this time by having Tad give us one, Toti deliver some others (Mia missed last session and so Toti was joining us) and have us “remember” a few others from before we left The Tusk.

  • An alchemist, oh hey, Tad, believes that Troll’s Blood might be a powerful reagent in creating healing potions. He wants a sample. I think the reward is healing potions. Nom!
  • There is a dragon in the Narlmarches. We should go get rid of that thing. I don’t know dragons in Pathfinder but I’m suspecting we’ll do well to stock up on fear and acid resistance!
  • Aldo the old hunter told us a story of the one that got away. A worg named Howl of the North Wind. Supposedly somewhere in the Kanelands, Aldo hoped we could finish the job!
  • Lily Tuskerton, a young flirt and explorer from a minor family is in search of Elven ruins. If we could find any for her, she’d be ever so grateful. There are supposed to be some in the southern Narlmarches.
  • Shambling mound sap is wanted. Bounty: 600 gold and three (3) potions.
  • Young Tyg Tannerson disappeared south east of the Tusk. If we can find him, the people will be delighted (+2 Loyalty).

There were also a few lingering quests that we had to wrap up.

  • Arvin wanted that old turtle dead, and a shell to prove it!
  • A poster outside Oleg’s Trading Post offered a reward for the killing of one giant boar: Tuskgutter.

Adventure Time

With Toti joining us, we headed out for more adventure, and to complete some of our quests!

Exploring G8

werewolfNothing here…except a pack of werewolves that were hunting us! Toti was the one who noticed them approaching. She quietly woke us all and cast a prayer to bless her allies and doom her foes. The fight was quickly on. Six of them had us surrounded but we used tactics!

Merrowyn made a Dazzling Display with Great Bog and because of her Frightening presence and Intimidating Prowess, all six werewolves were frightened and ran away for a round. That round bought us all time to prepare.

Elara cast Bull Strength on Miquela. Toti Blessed the Group. Miquela used her Tactician ability to share her Outflank feat and handed her Dueling Blade to Tad. Merrowny drew out her Ioun Stone and cast a shield on herself. Tad got busy applying Silver Weapon Blanch to Miquela’s blade

Then the Werewolves charged!

The fight was a good practice round for trying out various tactics. Elara got several spells off (Flaming Sphere, a second Bull Strength, and a Summons). Toti added Bless, Spiritual Weapon and some channeling to the fray. The support and every round attack spells (Flaming Sphere and Spiritual Weapon) worked great. Some things didn’t work out: Toti firing her crossbow and the summoned wolf. The melee fighters did okay though Miquela had every other round silver weapons (thanks to Tad) and Merrowyn just tried to overpower their damage reduction with big power attack hits and cleaves.

Lessons learned from this fight (and the later worg fight confirmed)

If critters flee from Dazzling display, Elara should follow up with one of many spells that will prevent them from charging back. Options: Entangle (creates difficult terrain even if they make their save), Soften Earth and Mud (same), Obscuring Mist (Can’t run through what you can’t see), Stone Call (does damage and creates difficult terrain), Sleet Storm (Blocked vision and difficult terrain).  As a contingency, if Elara can help out, Toti could cast Darkness on them.

Alternately, Elara could set her spear and ready an action to impale would be chargers!

We should always have a secondary weapon (or arrows) silver blanched. There are just too god damn many werewolves out here to keep getting caught off guard by them.

After the fight.

When the werewolves reverted back to their human form we had some disturbing discoveries.

  1. One of the werewolves was a Blacksmith from the Tusk. A young man who had a promising future. Now he was naked and dead.
  2. One of the others had a handkerchief that was preserved in an air tight container. The kerchief was one of Miquela’s. It had her monogram sewed in. It had been preserved to save her scent so the werewolves could track us down. This wasn’t a random attack. It was a an assassination attempt. We tried to track them back, but as far as we could get was were they made camp the night before. They had been watching us!

Loots

We also found cold hard loot on them. Always a pleasure

  • Swarmbane Clasp – Granting the wielder the power to resist the distracting effect of swarms and fight them normally. (Elara)
  • Ring of Protection +1. Handy for keeping us not dead. (Toti)

We looked but no sign of Tyg Tannerson here.

Exploring H8

We found a straight up tomb! Like a crypt of old tomb. So old that the entire thing besides the entrance had been covered over by dirt and vegetation. It looked like some sacred place…so we kicked the door in!

Inside we found a trap, which was insanely lucky because I rolled a Natural 20, getting a 28 (Perception +8) on the DC. Disarming the trap was also insanely lucky (spent a Hero point before the roll, added to a bonus for our good ideas of filling the poison excreting statues with mud, and some masterwork thieves tools… and we just hit the Disable Device DC (28 as well) to avoid being poisoned four different ways.

Loots

From the skeleton that didn’t make his DC 28 checks, we found a lot or rotten garments as well as a ring of sustenance. Woot, Elara can have guard duty all night long! But for reals. She has the highest perception check an low-light vision. Elara on guard duty all night long!

32-lonely_warriorRun, Skeletons, Run!

As we discussed he merits of “always stay on the left wall when exploring dungeons” we were beset on both sides by Skeletal Champions! Cleaving skeletal champions at that. These guys were of the tough-ish variety and we didn’t have much time… what we did have however was  a cleric with oodles of channeling!

Elara went eagle form and called lighting (yes, it can be used indoors) to blast skeletons from above. Merrowyn got cleave happy (yay, for undead being subject to sneak attacks) and Miquela got stabby as well, getting full attacks every round. Mostly though it was Toti. If she had really waned to she could have channeled three times in a round (Move actin, Standard action, + Standard action with Hero point), used up four of her daily 6 channels and destroyed them all in one go. As is, she played a bit more moderate and just blew up most of them.

It was then that we realized the entire crypt was desecrated grounds. Not good news for Cleric, but we persevered.

While Elara’s indoor storm was still raging we quickly moved through the rest of the crypt and found the head honcho in charge. A burial room with mosaics adoring the walls, all of the battered and cut up, presumably the the sole inhabitant. From the artwork and his dress, we guessed (Knowledge (History) checks, that he was an old, old dude, like over 1000 years. Most likely a barbarian chief, possibly a precursor to the current tiger lords. On his chest was an ancient and broken Taldan blade. A prize taken off a duelist he killed most likely.

When we entered he came to life, a man bent on revenge for those who would plunder his remains. And yeah, a plundering we came.

The fight

We weren’t so hot here, mostly because we were taken by surprise by an energy drain attack right off the bat. Miquela failed one save, got a temporary negative level and we all lost our shit a bit.  Merrowny took a potion of Aid for the temp hit points and attack bonus. What she should have done was cast shield (the AC would have been more useful). We all got stabby, while Elara dropped some more lightning on his dome and Toti traded out one of her 3rd level spell slots for a Cure Serious Wounds to drop 3d8+5 damage of positive energy on his dome. That polished him off, but we still have the negative energy level to deal with.

Loot and other aftermath

On the dude we found two magic items (the only thing that survived):

  • His broken +2 Fey Bane Cold Iron Longsword which we’re intent on fixing (see thoughts below)
  • A Catching Cape (one use magic item going in the sell bin)

The next morning Miquela spent a hero point and made the save to remove the Negative Energy Level. Phew.

We also dragged his now deader undead body out of the desecrated aground and Toti cast Speak with the Dead to ask him some questions.

  • First, he was a barbarian lord (as we suspected), and his crypt had been looted once before. By his own brother no less!
  • Second, after that act of sacralidge, he rose from the dead to go get his bloody blade back, and retrieve it he did. Though it was worse for the ware. Ironic, since we’re pretty sure he took the blade of a corpse himself.

Exploring I7

Nothing here but some clanless kobolds. They were already terrified of us, so Merrowyn incited a bit more fear and coerced them into spilling their guts. Toti cast Zone of Truth so they couldn’t like. Goblins to the south had taken out their tribe and now they were moving north to try and join the Sootscale Clan.

Elara wanted to treat them fairly, and Toti wanted one as a pet. We decided that sentient pets were the same thing as slaves and sent them packing, but not before one could filch a pouch of gold off Elara.

32-old_crackjawComing for you Turtle (I5)

We entered I5, continuing our search for Tyg, but also knowing there was a bounty on some a turtle’s shell and we were going to come to collect. Or at least all of us except Elara. Doing as a druid should I guess she wanted to see if the animal could just be persuaded to leave. It meant we wouldn’t get a reward, but a ring of feather falling (the reward Arctis had offered) wouldn’t make or break us, so we agreed to give piece a chance.

Then we found the mean old turtle, or rather it found us, and took a bight out of Elara. “Kill it” she yelled and the fight was on. How quickly turtle teeth in our asses change our minds.

Loot

Not only did we get a Turtle shell for Arctis as well as plenty of turtle meat for soup, we also found the body of another ambitious and optimistic druid (I crap you not, it’s in the text), and on him was an:

  • Elemental Gem of Water (when broken, summons a large Water Elemental). More on this in thoughts below.

ancientworgfinalSearching I5 for Tyg and what do we find… Worgs!

Right in that same spot we found old Tendriculos, that spot Merrowyn swore she would never stop being able to smell, Elara smelled something off.  And then from the underbrush came a pack, yeah a pack, of Worg! And at their lead was Howl of the North.

This was the first fight where we didn’t get to fight on our own terms. First off, we were often flanked, rather than flanking. More importantly half of us were on our asses the whole time.

For Merrowyn, I just stayed down. She was often cornered by two or three of them and standing up would invited all kind of pain. -4 to AC sucked (she got hit a lot) but -4 to attacks wasn’t bad since their AC was only 14. Miquela stayed up and was able to get flanks, so swinging from her knees wasn’t all that bad…except that she was back in the mud she promised she would never go back to again!

Elara tried to stand up and took some chomps. She also lost a spell trying to cast it defensively. Dennis gave her a really good idea, to wildshape into a quadruped. She changed into cheetah form and got to wrangling with them.  Between her previously cast flaming sphere and claw/claw/bite attacks, she tore them up!

Lessons learned

Again, we would have done better to create some difficult terrain. Merrowyn scared them off for a round (another good roll) but they just came charging back. See ways to create terrain above.

Wildshaping into a Cheetah was useful, but in retrospect a snake might have been better. They can’t be tripped and the free grab with a bite would have been nice too. Fewer attacks but d4+6 damage followed by constricting 2d4+12 wound have done nicely if Elara’s CMB was high enough to pull of he grab. Mostly thought, the benefit is not being tripped again.

After this fight, I realized that Kingmaker has a lot of melee combats that could be fought very differently by leaving a few people on the ground and others taking flight. Elara can wildshape into an eagle and cast from above. Toti (thanks to the Travel domain) can cast fly and do the same. Leaving Merrowyn, Miquela, and Kiri on the ground does mean them taking more of a beating, but it also means the casters don’t need to worry about defending themselves or casting defensively. All of this is based on the assumption that our enemies can’t fly and don’t have ranged attacks, which I’m sure some of them will.

Not that I think any of us will go down this path, but it looks like the best solution for fighting trippers is to be a monk(ey).

Loot

  • We totally killed Howl of the North and we’re taking his head back to The Tusk to put in our own trophy room.
  • We got a few other worg pelts, though none of us are tanners, so I doubt they’ll be worth anything. Winter’s in Aldoria are cold, Merrowyn wants a cloak make out of them!

Rewards

We finished two questions, now we just need to turn them in and collect rewards!

XP for the session: 4,400 (Total: 21456).

Thoughts on next game

Glad we didn’t level this game. I like level five a lot. I’m glad we’ll spend at least two sessions there.

Next chance we get, I’m replacing my garden variety secondary weapons with a Mithral cestus (505 GP) and a Cold Iron Short Sword (20 GP). Yeah, a little pricey for the Mithral but FUCK ALL THESE WEREWOLVES!

We thought to cast Speak with the Dead on the thousand year old barbarian, but not on the freshly dead werewolves? What was wrong with us. We could have totally gotten the information we needed from their bodies. The next set of werewolf assassins will serve us better! That was really spooky. I’m looking forward to figuring out what’s going with this.

Fixing the broken Talden blade is giving me headaches. On one hand I think the CL of the sword is 8 (Minimum of enhancement bonus x 3 or min for Bane, which is 8).  Mending says it requires a CL of at least as high as was used to create it (which would be 8), but Make Whole says a destroyed item can be remade, but you have to have double the caster level (16 in this case). The weapon is described as broken, but half of the blade is missing (Mending requires that all the pieces are there). So it seems clear that Make Whole is necessary, but at CL 8 (broken) or 16 (destroyed). It makes a big difference not because the cost of paying for a 16th level caster vs. an 8, but because we have no idea how to find a 16th level caster! There are optional rules for repairing it by spending half what it would cost to craft it, which would end up being over 5K.

James Jacobs on the Paizo boards says a 8th level caster would do, and suggests buying a scroll. Ultimately though, it’s up to Dennis ad I could see this thing seriously tipping the balance of power in the game (at least with regards to Fey) if fixed cheaply, but also seriously tipping the balance of loot being divided (getting a weapon that is both worth 20K and having the group shell out 5K to have it fixed) if it costs bank.

Wow, so far we’ve found three feather tokens to make a boat, fan (to bush a boat) and anchor. We’ve also gotten an aquatic cummerbund, and finally an Elemental Gem of Water. Me thinks that island of Candlemere has some nasty shit on it.

We’ve still got all these troubles in the home front. A serial killer on the loose. A cult or secret society. A spy. Werewolves. People being generally upset about everything. Trolls in the south. Some or all of these might be related, but I want to spend next session trying to sort these out. Our kingdom needs us!

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