Actual Play – The Valley of Fire (7/30/2016)

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

The final session. The war is over. Long live the queen.

Aftermath of a Fallen Dragon King

In the wake of Noleski death, Imogen, Miquela, and Elara met with the house leaders and pressed them to band together and go to war while Issia was still reeling from the loss of their king.

In the streets, Paulo the Blacksmith was held up as a hero of the people, and in private conversation with Merrowyn made it clear that for these many years while the swordlords may have suffered, the people suffered more. They were ready to go to war, but they expected to protections which the swordlords had been failing to deliver for generations.

Athon’s Story

Before we could head out though, Miquela needed to know something. What really happened to her father. She asked Olivetta to use her connection with the ancestors to pull Athon from the demi plan and force him to speak. He fought hard and resisted her summons. Even when he arrived, he was reluctant to answer, but Olivetta compelled him with her force of will to relent and reveal the truth.

Did you kill yourself? No. [That was news right there. Everyone said Athon’s death was a suicide]
Who killed you? I don’t know.
Why would they do it? Jealousy.
What do you remember? I was in my study. It was a good day. I drank from my cup and my throat began constricting. That was all.
Why do you linger with our other ancestors? Because I failed my family…and my children.

When he returned to the demi plane of our ancestors Olivetta tasted hemlock in her throat. When we consulted our master poisoner Mik Mek, he said that hemlock had too strong a taste to be used on it’s own. Very likely they used a two fold poison. One to numb the senses, the other to kill him. That would have to be done by someone close.

Brevoy_MapMarching through the Valley of Fire

The only way to move a large force north, without being exposed to the Issian forts on the Rostland Plains was to circle east and cross through a mountain pass, through the same place that our ancestors marched to fight Choral the Conquerer, through the place where they were burned alive by molten dragon fire, into the Valley of Fire!

As we passed through the valey many of the bodies of the fallen were still visible, preserved perfectly under the glassy molten rock that was super heated into liquid by dragon fire and then quickly hardened again once the flames ceased. All around use were bodies. Thousands and thousands of them.

When we were nearly out of the valley, we had come to the place where Imogen died, just beside Estruan Aldori, we felt a rumbling of the earth around us and then saw the rock around us being cracking open, and the dead rising out of their molten graves.

We were surrounded by an army of 114,552 dead soldiers and kin or not, they were not keen on us passing!

Miquela and Merrowyn both spoke of us continuing the battle that the started, but it was Imogen, speaking to the ghost of Estruan, that convinced them to stand down. As each of them returned to the earth, Estruan held out a staff with a bear flag whipping from it, somehow preserved through all this time and destruction.

The banner of of Sirian Aldor I, the Sword Baron.

Capturing the Forts

In a planned pincer move, the Sordellos broke out into the Rostland Planes and the twin forts connected by a protected bridge over the water moved all their forces to the southern fort to defend it. And when they did our forces in the north easily captured the norther fort and once inside steamrolled through their meager forces.

There were six pairs of forts across the river and we repeated to to fort after fort until finally we were met with a force that gave us pause: Regent Narissa.

She met under a flag of truce with Miquela and made this offer. “I just want to go home. Allow me to leave and I will abdicate throne and it will be yours for the taking.”

A difficult decision

When Miquela returned we had to decided if we could trust this woman. If she told the truth, we might walk into New Stetven and claim it as our own. If she lied, she was using the time that we spent arguing to wait for reinforcements to arrive.

The argument was fierce, not only among the Daughters of Aldori, but among the many lords we brought with us. There were those who wanted to accept her deal, those who wanted violence before it was too late, and those who to try another plan altogether.

Merrowyn called Elara a coward for being to scared to go to war. Merrowyn and Miquela got in a fist fight over it. But in the end, we accepted her offer, and true to her word, she gave us New Stetven.

Narissa never made it home. She was killed by a fellow Issian on her way there.

The war was over.


As forces moved and borders on maps were redrawn, those of us that could slip away, traveled back to Skywatch. Rudolpho, terrified of the place, mustered the courage (a few remove fear potions helped as well) and together we went back to the Cyclopian Observatory, down into it’s depths and found the force that was keeping the Rogarvian family in stasis.

In it’s depths we found a giant sphere crackling with blue electricity orbited by smaller spheres that appeared to move of their own accord. This “machine”, as our knowledgeable ones identified it, was an artifact that bridged two (maybe more) planes of existence into one. This created a place where the planes collided and intersected, allowing easier passage between them and having other bizarre effects such as the temporal stasis we observed.

As Imogen and Olivetta discussed the artifact and what could possibly destroy it, Merrowyn got in her head a very simple solution to all this business. Only an artifact cold destroy another artifact. Ovinrbaane would finally get to blow up something REALLY big. She prowled away from the group, leapt on to one of the orbiting spheres, and then, with blue lighting all around her dove, sword first, into the sphere…

Many years later

Imogen lived in her own manor in Aldoria, helping to raise her grandchild. Her son was indeed in that stasis field, but on the verge of death and finally released from his torment when time was restored. He had with him though his wife and child, which she took into her arms as her own.

Olivetta, who has lost her source of power as the ancestors had all returned to The Tusk, and picked mushrooms with Leccio. She gave up the adventuring life and decided to become a mushroom farmer [Ex-Witch 15, Commoner 1, Alignment: Neutral Good].

Elara and Akiros went off to dig a well somewhere. That’s what they call that when Paladins and Inquisitors…who I am kidding, they were actually digging a well together.

Miquela and Staggio were reunited. The man who said he was married to the blade and would die fighting in the north, finally returned, dropped his blade and said “I want to go home, I want to see my family.”

Merrowyn got to ride on Saint Fang to Gorum’s final resting place and join Marcus. She was cracking skulls, drinking mead, and enjoying cunnilingus in the afterlife. Not a bad way to go.

The future of Aldoria… secrets revealed

What happens next? The campaign is over but we still have questions.

Mivon turned out not to be the great neighbors we hoped for and eventually expanded around us and a new war was at our doorsteps.

Aldoria made it onto the Outaw Council! Huzzah.

Tad figured out a way to mass manufacture his alchemical ice and became the richest man alive brewing “iced” beer.

Rudolpho who had taken a bit from all of us did the only thing that made sense, he went off to be an adventurer.

Edward tried to retired but got pulled back into action six times before they finally let him go.

Jonas, turned out to be the lost god of humanity Aroden. Reincarnated as a human without knowledge of his own divine nature. Huh.

Pietro was finally returned to Sellemus but he brushed him away. “I have no son.”

Kasten never really bounced back from his betrayal. He remained a broken man.

A few words were said over Merrowy’s grave. Edwards thanked Abadar that he was never able to break her will. Santiago howled for all the world and the afterlife to hear. He took it the hardest. Poor pup.

But wait, who killed Athon?

It was Savia. His own sister. She couldn’t handle his success. Hated seeing what he was becoming and watching him make something of himself and of the family. When she couldn’t pull him down with her, she resorted to killing him instead. What a way to go.

What rocked

Oh, so many things. In no particular order.

That moment when we realized that Athon couldn’t have killed himself. He was still fit and could hold a blade. The way a swordlord commits suicide is by picking a fight they know they cannot win. Athon would have never poisoned himself.

Meeting Estruan and witnessing the devastation they faced. Not only earning his trust but also restoring his good name that had been besmirched for so long.

Actually having enough forces that we could use some military tactics. We didn’t use the mass combat rules but it was fun to catch an enemy by surprise!

At one point Miquela and Domingo spoke about who would carry the sword of Sirian. Who would lead the family. There was a brief pause where it seemed like they might duel over it, but it passed. Miquela did not want to be a swordlord, she wanted to be The Swordlord!

It was pretty darn cool to blow up that big thing. Merrowyn had swallowed her pride one to many times for Miquela and after obey a direct order to cease fire that she knew was the wrong call, she continued following her sisters, but was done with being a general. She was looking to finish this and do something new…she just didn’t know how quickly an opportunity would present itself!

The fact that Marcus the Mouth had been making bets with Gorum in their Valhalla about what Merrowny would do was just touching. We had a fun moment where she walked into the pub and saw he was serving drinks behind the counter!

Imogen meeting herself, her old destroyed body, possessed by some spirit or another. It was creepy on a personal level and terrifying on a “this could mean a giant battle with the undead” level.

The fight between Elara and Merrowyn was pretty intense. As a player I had to stop several times to say “sorry I’m getting loud. are we okay?”. Regina was a champ and love butting heads as well. And she won!

Olivetta, her ancestors gone, and her desire to work arcane arts gone as well, turning to a simple life and becoming a farmer was a great story. Seems like the kind of story that turns out of be the background of the farmer who comes out of retirement to go back to war. But I think for Olivetta the story was just done.

We had been waiting so long for Staggio and Miquela to be reunited. It was great to see them finally together again.

What could have improved

From all I know about it Module 6 sounds like an insufferable grind. Dennis, you did us so right by dropping that and making the final games about the things we always cared most about. Our country, our land, our people, and our family. I guess this is actually a could be and was improved category!

1 Comment

  1. Adrienne

    Thanks for the wonderful write-up, Sean! And thanks to everyone for letting me be part of this marvelous campaign! It was so wonderful to see so many things, almost everything, resolve. Merrowyn’s choice to follow her sword or her swordlord. Olivetta’s decision about magic. How much power Miquela wanted. Elara’s relationship to her house and her country. What happened to Imogen’s son. So much tasty plot!

    It does sound like we deviated from the original/intended story quite a bit; and I agree with you completely – kudos to Dennis for taking us where we wanted to go!

    I loved the stories for all the different characters. People had such amazing growth. Merrowyn with her slow descent down the path of the sword (chaotic Good to chaotic Neutral) – and then stopping herself in the last moment to be true to her family. And Olivetta! The transition from chaotic neutral (I think?) to neutral good (?); finishing it in the last session! I got to see more of this evolution play out. Eric verbalized so much of Olivetta’s uncertainty as she tried on new thoughts. Recommending evil plans and then immediately trying to retract them. Feeling the lure of the demon but then shying away from the interest it took in her. Great stuff.

    Favourite Bits:
    – The intense conversations! Merrowyn with Elara about whether to fight or not. Merrowyn with Miquela about whether she’d take her orders or not. Olivetta and Imogen about Olivetta’s life choices.
    – Miquela, Elara and Imogen all delivered very impassioned speeches to the other Swordlords about why they should fight. It was amazing that we could point to so many examples of how awesome the PCs were. It wasn’t just: ‘Follow us, because we’re right.’ It was: ‘Follow us, because we’re right AND we have raised armies, founded a nation, and slain two kings. One of whom was your enemy and also a great wyrm that would have destroyed your city.’
    – The scene in the valley of fire where Imogen could talk to Estruan and deal with what she left behind. Thank you Dennis! (And I was legitimately worried about those skeletons fighting us.)
    – Merrowyn’s sacrifice. (And how we all bought into the distraction so it could happen. Miquela asking for clarifications that would keep us from seeing what Merrowyn was up to; Imogen and Olivetta bickering about who should wield the staff.)
    – All of the ending scenes! Each so poignant and perfect!

    Thank you everyone for making this such a blast! Long live House Aldori and long live Aldoria!

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