Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pathfinder Game Recap: Chapter One

In addition to my many other interests, I'm an avid role-player. We play Pathfinder, which is essentially Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 but cleaned up nicely. Our campaign takes place in Hawkhaven, which is my original campaign world from the late 1970's, now cleaned up, converted to Pathfinder rules, oh, yeah, and the timeline gets advanced over 2,000 years, effectively limiting my ability to trot out my old characters and inflict them on the players.

We meet once a month at our place, and we have a huge group. This is our third Hawkhaven campaign, creatively called "Fame and Fortune". It's geared to be more of a traditional, straightforward "old school" type of campaign, with a big old dungeon inexplicably loaded with monsters and treasure.

Here's the roster for that first game. It's important to note that we also had two people who couldn't make it. It's a big roster, sure, but as time goes on and people get schedule conflicts, it starts to work out that about 2/3 of the active players can actually make it to any given session.

Haru (Augie)- Male Human Nihoni Cleric of Amaterasu
Miranda Morden (Carol)- Female Human Rogue
Captain Frank Longbeard (Chappy)- Male Human Rogue (Pirate);
Plin Forestwatcher(Chris)- Male Gnome Alchemist
Eara McElwyn(Colleen)- Female Half-Elf  Oracle
Caelma Silvertree (Dibs)- Male Elven Wizard
Takeo (H)- Male Human Nihoni Samurai; he’s a Ronin
Stanton (James)- Male Human Sorcerer
Hanabe (Jason)- Female Human Nihoni Ninja; she has a metal arm
Ashton (John)- Male Human Ranger
Gabriel (Kevin)- Male Human Paladin
Ratchtagg (Seth)- Male Half-Orc Fighter; travels with a mule named Claude and a mangy dog named Mumma-dog
Goram Deepseeker (Warren)- Male Dwarf Cleric of Dumathoin; He’s a Forgemaster

And here's the actual recap!

Chapter One: The Troll, The Troll, The Troll is on Fire
March 25th-26th, 316 PE (June 22nd, 2013)
Roll Call: Goram Deepseeker , Captain Frank Longbeard, Haru, Ashton, Stanton, Ratchtagg, Plin Forestwatcher, Hanabe, Takeo, Gabriel, Miranda, Eara, Caelma

It’s Kingdom Day! This is the day that all four of the human nations are celebrating the official day that marks their independence from the Valgarion Empire. Thuringia holds an Octoberfest type celebration, Aguitania holds chivalric tournaments and grand parties, Calabria has operas, masquerade balls and art exhibitions, while Ardrovin has the typical country fair/competitive games, jousting and archery tournaments. Each kingdom’s celebration runs for about four days.

Thirteen strangers who attended Ardrovin's observance decide at the conclusion of the holiday  to travel together for safety, heading south to The Paths of Fate, an inn located at the crossroads of all four kingdoms, a strip of territory claimed by no one. This group is accompanied by five Calabrian young clergy of Duma (good god of freedom), who are initiates in the Order of St. Barea (patron saint of healers), and are traveling to a nearby chapter house.

While traveling along the road that leads out of Ardrovin, the group hears a clash of arms and decides to investigate. They come upon a group of orcs on worg mounts harassing a merchant wagon. The party sees one injured unconscious man and one hopelessly overmatched merchant desperately swinging a stick. The group springs into action.

Caelma calls the orcs out in their own language and casts Enlarge Person on Ratchtagg. Eara casts Divine Favor on herself and readies her bow, Stanton casts Magic Missile on one orc, Haru casts Bless on the group, and the rest of the party advances into combat.

Caelma casts Gravity Bow and lands a shot with his longbow on the leader. Miranda advances on the leader’s mount and hamstrings the wolf, damaging it and slowing it down. Frank moves in to hit the leader and downs him, but the wolf remains standing. Takeo moves in but misses badly while Gabriel lands one blow on an undamaged orc. The orcs counterattack. One badly misses Miranda but a wolf hits her hard. Another orc gets a critical hit on Hanabe and he falls unconscious to the ground. The wolf fumbles trying to hit Takeo and he counterattacks and kills the beast. The wolf attacking Gabriel throws his rider from his back and Gabriel gets an attack that damages the fumbled wolf. Plin advances to help Hanabe and throws an alchemical bomb at the group of orcs that are still riding on wolves, causing some general harm, havoc, and a nifty explosion. Eara moves up and casts Stabilize to stop Hanabe from bleeding out. Haru moves up and selectively channels to heal only his comrades.

Caelma uses his bonded item to retrieve Enlarge Person and casts it on Gabriel, who then moves up and slays one of the orcs. Ashton takes a shot at another orc and kills it. A few other party members advance to attack but miss. The orcs decide to retreat and run for the hills, though by doing so they suffer attacks from several party members. Miranda lands a blow on one fresh wolf. Frank misses a trip attempt on another wolf. Takeo and Gabriel gang up on a retreating wolf and kill it. Eara misses with a longbow shot while Hanabe comes to and gets her bearings. Haru moves up once again and catches more allies in a healing burst.

Being an elf, Caelma doesn’t want to let the orcs get away, and presses the attack, moving up to take another shot, wounding an orc. Miranda runs after an orc and crits it with a sneak attack. Frank then charges in, swinging an oar, but misses. Takeo kills an orc. Clearly outmatched, the surviving riderless wolves decide to run full out, despite suffering attacks of opportunity from many of the party members. Although a few blows connect, the retreating wolves manage to get two hundred feet away from the party, and break into a full-out run, successfully fleeing the scene.

The group comes back together and begins to make sense of the mess at the caravan. The conscious leader of the caravan introduces himself as Delmin Borgar, while the initiates of Saint Barea tend to everyone’s wounds. He and his compatriot are from the Lundarian Free Lands and are members of a merchant guild. When the orcs intercepted the caravan, the mercenaries hired to guard the caravan turned tail and ran off.

Eventually, a small group of Ardrovanian soldiers ride up (conveniently, after the fight is over!) and check up on the merchants. They agree, along with the clerics of Duma, to continue with the slower-moving caravan, freeing up the party to go on its way. However, before they leave, Delmin beckons the group aside for a moment in private.

Delmin tells the group of a lost underground complex created on a whim by an insane wizard who then proceeded to fill it with all manner of fell creatures, and scattered his fabulous fortune within the subterranean structure. Delmin is willing to pass along the approximate location of the complex if the party agrees to cut him and his partner in for 10% of the treasure, eliciting binding promises that the party will honor the bargain.

As a joke, Caelma lays claim to any boat inside the complex, as a dig at Frank. Frank takes exception to this and insults Caelma, who retaliates by casting Grease on him, but he makes his save. Caelma, his temper now out of control, hits Frank with a Telekinetic Fist, which knocks him back. Frank charges and scuffs Caelma with the blunt end of his oar before the party decides to separate them. The two of them calm down. Delmin decides to help out the party even more by giving them some items from his caravan, items he would have given the mercenaries after they arrived safely at their destination. The party splits up the items and continues on their way.

A couple of hours down the trail the group is stopped by ten highwaymen. Before the leader can finish his monologue (“Stand and deliver, and all that!”), the paladin and samurai simply up and charge the man. At this point, the leader calls out to release the troll and all Hell breaks loose.
Frank moves up to the troll and throws a bottle at it. Ashton takes out his Oathbow and swears to slay the troll and hits with a called shot to the troll’s leg. Haru moves up towards the troll and his keepers and uses the Gem of Brightness to try to blind the troll, but it resists. Ratchtagg charges in and his dog Mum watches his back as he lands a blow on one highwayman. Hanabe charges the bandit leader and makes a sneak attack on him.

Gabriel, wielding two weapons, lands a critical hit with his bastard sword and a regular hit with his longsword. Caelma moves to advance and uses his Telekinetic Fist to punch the leader into next week, knocking him unconscious. Eara attempts a Diplomacy check to get the highwaymen to surrender, but they reply confidently that they still can prevail, as they have a fully operational death troll. Plin runs up and lobs a fire bomb at the troll and his keepers, damaging the group, setting the troll on fire, and coming up with the recap title.

 The highwaymen spring into action, landing one blow on Miranda, one blow on Hanabe, two hits (one of which is a critical hit) on Takeo, and one shot on Plin, while the troll horribly misses Frank and stumbles, giving him a free shot which he takes full advantage of. Takeo lands one hit on a rogue. Goram hurls his new warhammer at his racial foe, the troll, landing a terrible blow on him. The hammer then returns to his hand.

Frank insults the troll but fails to faze him. Ashton attempts to finish off his foe and does so with a shot of his Oathbow. Haru moves into range and uses the Gem of Brightness to blind four out of five of his targets. Gabriel gets into attacking range and lands a hit. Miranda makes a sneak attack. Caelma moves up and casts Color Spray on two enemies and is able to stun one of them. Eara shoots wide of the highwayman that refused her offer of mercy.

The highwaymen that decided against surrender suddenly change their tune and lay down their arms. The group begins to tie them up and Frank decides to question one of them, using his spiked chains as incentive. They get the location of the bandits’ camp from one of the prisoners and find it a quarter mile from the road. They set up camp, loot the bandits’ treasure, and turn the highwaymen over to the Ardrovanian soldiers who eventually come down the road. The party then rests for the night uninterrupted.

The morning of March 26th comes and the group rides for the day uneventfully and reaches the Paths of Fate Inn. The group enters the large inn and finds it to be a bustling gathering place for people from all over the northeastern portion of the continent, as well as exotic places across the sea.

Caelma sets up a dining room for the group and retires there for a couple of hours to scribe a scroll. Miranda chats it up with a pair of Calabrians who greet her with open arms. Gabriel gravitates towards a group of worshipers of Adonai, his patron god.  Eara meets with an Alborian Bard named Merry Mack who starts to exchange flirtatious pleasantries. Haru speaks with a Tengu (raven-folk) and his catfolk companion, the latter in stylish boots, floppy hat with a feather in it, and a rapier by his side.

Frank talks to a man with an eye patch mainly because Frank has an eye patch. The man turns out to be from Norgheim (Norse), and worships Odin. Frank is inspired by the man’s demeanor and decides to follow Odin as well. Goram ends up in a staring contest with a member of the Order of Sepulcher. The anti-paladin doesn’t appreciate what he sees as the dwarf’s lack of respect, but before the situation comes to blows (and through all this, the dwarf refused to back down, of course!), the crisis is diffused with some honeyed words from Eara.

At this point in the evening, a bard/herald named Barvil takes the stage on behalf of the free lands of Lundar. He exalts the values of uniting the Lundarian Kingdom once again and calling those to move out the remnants of the Valgarion Empire from the former kingdom. The herald announces that a new warlord is coming, a man of might who has the blood of the ancient Lundarian kings in his veins, and who will unite the nobles and lords into a grand kingdom once more. The clientele is disappointed overall, since they were in the mood to hear bardic music, not a paid political announcement.

This attracts the attention of many of the party members, including Caelma who stops working on his scroll to see what all the commotion is about. Plin ends up moving towards a group of gnomes known as the Dogriders led by Desi Diamonduster, Paladin of Garl Glittergold. Caelma also joins up with the group and suggests some magical music to move the “performer” along. Plin recommends a laxative.  The music option prevails and Merry Mack takes the stage to tell the great story of Shadowport and the Four Heroes as well as the story of the New King of Albor.

The group retires to the private dining room and are eventually met with a knock at the door. The newcomer is a male human sorcerer named Feldor who was impressed with the way the group handled themselves out there with some of the patrons. He has a job for the party, who he keenly realizes are wet behind the ears and could use some seasoning. He looks to hire the group to find the Calvera Sangreal, a relic that empowers necromantic spells.

Many in the party look reluctant when the word "necromantic" is said, but Feldor reminds them that necromantic spells also include things like raising the dead and such, and can actually be used for good. The Calvera is a neutral tool, with no inherent morality or ethics attached to it. The group cautiously agrees to the task.

 The grail is located in a large abandoned graveyard that lies to the southeast. The group will be paid 500 gp each for their services plus whatever they find in their travels. The group ends up negotiating with Feldor and is able to secure mounts for those who initially couldn’t afford them.

Later in the evening, Ratchtagg the half-orc checks on his mount (Claude the mule) but once in the stable, his attention is caught by a Nelmarine merchant wagon parked there. He does a little bit of investigation and realizes that the wagon contains slaves, meaning the Nelmarine merchants are in fact slavers. Ratchtagg comes back to the inn and brings this information to the group’s attention.

The group ends up debating whether or not to intercede on behalf of the slaves. Gabriel is greatly opposed to the plan on the grounds that the party is raw and inexperienced, and Takeo, Miranda, and Plin agree. As far as they are concerned, the half-dozen tough-looking guards that accompany the Nelmarine  merchants would be too much to handle. The rest of the group, especially Ratchtagg, argue that they should at least look into the situation and see if there's some way to free the slaves. Miranda decides this is a good time to go to turn in for the night.

Time to split the party! Yay!

Eara gets some information from a drunken slave merchant, who tells her very that they are traveling the next day towards the south to sell their slaves. Outside, Hanabe, Ashton, Frank, and Caelma investigate the barn.  Hanabe notices 12 dinner bowls, as well as two guards watching over the slave wagon. Ok, so 12 slaves are in the wagon then.

As Caelma casts Sending in order to get caught up on any info Eara managed to get, Frank decides to stumble into the stable, acting drunk and smelling of booze, and that’s when the guards begin to unsheathe their swords. Caelma hurries inside and acts as if Frank is his servant boy. In the ensuing conversation, Caelma shows that his prowess is in magic and casts Light, which he holds in such a way that it shines enough light inside the wagon so that his sharp elven vision can see a couple of humans inside the wagon. At this point, Caelma decides to move out of there with Frank in retreat, and regroup for the night.

And that's where we ended....