Kingmaker - Dawn of a New Age

Tomb of the Known Barbarian
His name is/was Armag

The party, after fleeing from the formidable witch sisters of Gyronna guarding a Kelish tomb, convinces Willow to secure the entrance from the witches.

They call upon her strengths – being able to present Erastil’s healing to all in the midst of battle, as well as her ability to call out and destroy evil.

She begrudgingly obliges them. After many hours of travel, they approach the entrance, which is not really an entrance, having been walled off by Emmond’s wall spells. Along the journey, the party sees the the Baroness’ sense of purpose has gone slack. Long bouts of uncomfortable silence make make the ride lengthen. Willow’s naivete has been replaced by boredom, or perhaps worse, a sense of fateful ennui…

They are surprised to learn, after entering the tomb, that Willow does not seem herself. They find her abilities in battle lessened. The healing does not glow as bright; her previously forceful threats to demons now resemble disdainful hesitation, assuaged by a swig from a hip flask. Even the force of her blows seem forced.

The party, aided by a quick inflitration and powerful offense provided by the others, watches Willow somewhat absent-mindedly walking past the babau demon, suffering a sizzling, acidified claw hit, and then pounded by mighty fists of a summoned stone elemental. Yet she treats this foray not as divinely-guided, but more of annoyance. Striking down the last sister with a spit of disgust, she turns to face the party, drinking once more.

“Can I go now?”

[P51] The hour was upon them...
Converging in Tatzylford

The PCs rendez-vous in the soon-to-beseiged Village of Tatzylford some minutes, some just seconds before the attack.

Preparations are swift and makeshift, as a large force of humanoids approaches.

Their first defense against invasion is barely victorious; there are some destroyed buildings, but the town remains in the PCs kingdom.

The attackers (trolls, barbarians, mercenaries) are beaten back, and many flee only to meet death from Willow’s lance, Sleestak’s arrows or Emmond’s magic.

[Post S43] Varnhold and the Nomen
Quests completed

Geldt Makarov of Varnhold, a short and stout dark-haired man, rallies the Varnholders to Stagsheart’s banner. His fiesty spirit is a welcome reprieve from the sobering evidence of familial loss.

“Hip, hip, hooray!” he leads the rest, who, inspired by the heroes’ presence and offer, bow down upon one knee. “We commit ourselves to the duchy of Stagsheart. May Varnhold flourish under it’s rule.” Other shouts of approval rein down upon Willow, coming from faces that are covered in grime and tears.

“Our rescuers!” “Our saviors!” and the like echo throughout town. Desperation is met with hope, and Varnhold begins anew.

Days later, twice-born Xamanthe trots into camp, followed by the PCs, who are once again welcome.

Aecora Silvermane hears the party’s exploits, and through careful negotiaions declares the party to be Huntbrothers and Huntsisters. Skybolt and Trederryl (the cold iron flail) is presented as gifts to the party.

At this point, Emmond retrieves a map from the folds of his cloak. He has outlined some hexes which appear blank. His bony digit points two routes – one along the roads, or overland through the pass and beyond, which would unite Stagsheart with the greater Varnhold area. “Or a third route?”

Confronting Vordekai
Eye for an I, truth forsooth

Brass groaned against worked stone and a wave of foul smells was detectable, permeating even the magic life bubble around the PCs’ heads.

Another horrific sight – bodies kneeling and slumped over a placid, red-tinged pool, their entrails spilling forth into neatly arranged patterns around the pools’ edge.

A bass voice intones raspily, “Alarah, Sleestak, ‘Duchess’ and Emmond, you’ve made it…”

Willow interrupts the cyclopean horror with a battle cry and arrows fly from Sleestak’s bow.

Throughout the battle the atrophied lich cyclops, Vordekai, reveals all he has learned about each member of the party, and how their palsied efforts will fail in the end. His arrogance is certainly not of this age, but one more of the time of prophetic certainty in Golarion. Insults and grand pronouncements irritate and breed fear in the PCs, like maggots wriggling under their skin.

Even as the party seems to damage him, he seems unperturbed in his determination to wear down the party’s will with cleverly chosen speech coupled with blashpemous displays of power.

The party reels against the onslaught of stomach-turning black magic bursting outward from the creature’s unholy focus. That, coupled with mind assaulting magics, pushes the party to their most desperate resistance yet.

Then, it is gone, with the party unknowing of its return. Seconds, perhaps a minute passes. The party discovers a circular chamber, filled with niches of wispy-filled jars. Suddenly, the creature returns, ever more defiant and testing of a party beginning to show weakness.

As PCs consider tactics, and the Duchess places herself firmly between the undead spawn and the rest of the party, time is running out for both sides. Black magic erupts, arrows, sword and fire clash in a terrifying spectacle.

The centaur falls under the onslaught of the Four Horsemen’s eldritch evil, but with a combination of luck, strategic gambits, and through arrogance’s folly, Vordekai is no more.

Alarah dares touch the papered skin and blows bones to bits, channeling positive energy into the lich. Magically imbued arrows pummel the undead wizard’s body, first in the leg, then in the ribs, and finally, crushing a disc from the spine at the neck. The bone-horned head collapses first onto the collarbone, then teeters sideways to the floor far below. Upon impact, the skull splits, and the melon-sized vermillion orb egresses the socket, and rolls to stop at Alarah’s feet, still glowing with eerie sentience.

The party breathes a collective sigh of relief and exhaustion, expended of their formidable resources. A fleeting silence ensues…

[39+] Deeper into the massive fumarole
The party is tested...time in Ashhaven, and Stagsheart passes...

Rest inside the nauseous tomb is fitful. The sense of being watched, an acrid and annoying stench, and the ominous stone cyclop statues abound, putting the party on edge.

Numerous interruptions of their attempts at sleep dog their resolve, as soul eaters are sent to harry the sleepers.

Sleestak and Willow pass the time discussing the hunt, Ashhaven and wilds surrounding it, plans for expanding their castle settlement, what love is, a parable of Erastil or two, and other subjects that come to mind.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, Emmond gets enough sleep and enough time passes for his arcane reservoir to refill. Alarah, too, seems to have had enough shuteye.

Emmond mutters some arcane gibberish, gestures, and an opaque hemisphere appears in the hallway. Emmond parts an ingress in the magical weave, the party enters, and the followers of Erastil collapse from exhaustion.

As time passes, another soul eater arrives, and eerily drifts in a chaotic pattern around the hemisphere. At this point, the group wishes the outside could not be seen, as its patrol promises more claw strikes inflicting silliness. No curtains to draw here.

Another 8 hours pass, and the party assumes it must be the next day, although no evidence of a new dawn exists inside the dark tomb…
[S37] Seeking the lost of Varnhold
Not a clue anywhere

After searching the surrounding hexes of Varnhold, little evidence of the villagers’ fate was to be found.

Though not her own subjects, the fate of a neighboring people wore on Willow’s psyche. Though her faith in Erastil was strong, she couldn’t ignore that the plight of Varnhold could replicate, if not investigated.

Plus, the humans were not necessarily evil, either, so an attempt to rescue them should be made, in her reasoning. But where in Heaven were they?

After reexamining the Ulfen ranger’s journal about a bracelet being found, and rereading Maestro Pendrod’s notes on “Vordekai’s isle”, the party goes further south. They reason that staying to the east side of the Tors of Levenies would allow villagers a more expeditious journey. Farther south they discover the Ghost Stone, and make a hesitant deal with an intelligent phase spider to kill “invaders” who took up there recently in her home. Somehow the Ghost Stone is connected to the Ethereal Plane.

Willow moves in with a plan to detect if those at the Stone are evil, thus ruling out them as Varnholders potentially. Sure enough, they are four-armed, red skinned otherworld demons known as Xill. Willow’s armor saves her from much of their attacks (claw, claw, claw, sword, bite).

Emmond lined them up for a lightning bolt (they were using the Stone for cover). The party battled, with some xill using two bows at once. Somehow noone suffered the poison effect of their bite.

Khumbu grappled two. Erastil’s blessed slashed quite a few, taking one down of the five. The party stood victorious, and the phase spider revealed an extra-planar chest of major magnifence. Inside were a wand and a spellbook.

Later, the party explores even further south, just a hex away from where the centaurs said a Valley of the Dead lay. There, they think they’ve discovered “Vordekai’s isle”, a 100’ tall fumarole in the middle of a deep wide pool in the river. It smokes menacingly.

Emmond casts flight on Sleestak and he takes a wide berth from the isle, flying over the waterfall, and looking for tracks on the other side, near what appears to be a trail. He finds evidence that humans, a larger humanoid, and unshod horse prints (centaur?) traveled there recently. It is impossible to tell where they were going or to follow them, even for Sleestak.

The party weighs its options. [See the map in the map section of this site for tactics and planning.]

[Post S29] Revenge
On the trail of devastation

After taking just a day to discover the extent of damage to their beloved town, the party chooses to trust in the resilience of Stagsheart, and prepares to wage war on whatever manner of birdbeast caused this mayhem.

The hunter and others track the obvious trail back to a gaping hole in the side of a hillock. Investigating, they set off the mushroom alarms, bring a plant creature, with its inhabitant centipedes, to investigate. The Baroness engulfed in the plant creature, suffering the ill effects of the hungry centipedes. The others pummel it with their magic, claws and arrows until it falls. A weary, but unbeaten Eric emerges.

The party decides the cave may be too dangerous to further explore, depleted of its resources. It chooses to rest to regain its strength.

The PCs venture in the next day, with a singular goal – confront what wrought devastation on Ashhaven. Going deeper into the earth, the party passes piles of carrion and offal, eventually staring down an enormous, armor-wearing owlbear. It’s bloodshot eyes terrorize the PCs, and its piercing screech-grunts echo through the chamber. It charges Sleestak, hammering him back against a wall, where he collapses. Khumbu, seeing its friend fall, leaps to the attack, in turn, getting hammered down. Sparks fly, and the baroness’ shield deflects some of the attack, while Alarah inspires the group and attempts to keep everyone alive, long enough to let blade and fiery spells to eventually drop the massive beast.

A sigh of relief passes between the PCs. The spine-breaking slam did not slay Khumbu, contrary to what was witnessed. Alarah and the Baroness knit bones and cat-flesh together, and Khumbu’s wide eyes pop open warily.

The party discovers a corpse with some valuable gear. Alarah notes the habiliments of the corpse remind her of an Iobarian barbarian, from the northeast. A tainted magical ring was also found on the corpse. Did the barbarian try to tame the owlbear? Was it successful? The armor indicates something of success. A map on the corpse shows the owlbear lair, and Ashhaven, circled…

[Post-session 27] A stand up fight

The party, after clearing the elven ruins of its remaining denizens, including the assassin vine-commanding Grimstalker, and the truly annoying Rygg Gargadilly, returns to Ashhaven.

Then, after almost a week’s rest, they bashed, slashed, arrowed and fired their way into the troll lair, downing 3 trolls and 2 trollhounds. The party takes a deep breath and considers their options…

[Pre-session 27] Further into the elven ruins...
more secrets await

Nice session last time. I’m hoping we can at least finish the elven ruins next session, and perhaps even plow into the troll’s lair. There remain a few unexplored hexes as well, and kingdom building to boot.

Oh, and nice epilogue, Ron!

[Post-S26] Let's Dance!
Put on your bloody shield and dance the blues

Baroness Eric wriggles in the grasp of the baobhan sith’s embrace, shifting to get her sword into position for repeated strikes. Keeping that sword hand free is enough to repeatedly slash the flesh beneath the finely woven gown, drawing screeches of pain and feral snarls from the otherwise alluring maiden. At long last, as the fascinating spectacle winds down, vines recede, and the onlookers come to their senses.

Somewhere in the wilds nearby, Rygg Gargadilly flees, swearing to return only a long time later.


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