Monday, June 4, 2012

Gifts of the God Mages : Pathfinder e03

Gifts of the God Mages
May 2012 - ongoing
Pathfinder

Episode Three: The Scales and the Moon

As my third session of the Indigo Entertainment Pathfinder games commences, I realized some minor errors I made in the earlier games.  For one, the Sorcerer of James was not supposed to have flight yet. That was an Elemental Bloodline power gained at level 15.  Another MAJOR error was I totally forgot to remind players to add their Strength modifier to all damage rolls! That explained why it took a while for these fourth level characters to drop goblins down.  So to make up for this, I gave all the players a free magical item to balance things out.  To permit the Sorcerer the scenes earlier established, I gave him Boots of Flying.  Others got appropriate magical items to round things out better.

In this game session, the following players were present:
Tofie was playing Alcarin Dominus, a Dwarven Paladin, and he continued to serve as a wonderful example of how to play a character.  Sticking to his accented portrayal through-out the game, here was hoping other players learn to "speak in character" naturally.  With his new Dwarven Plate, he definitely felt ready to face any new dangers.

JP was the half-elven Wizard named Jazintho.  Tempted by the Demon Child, JP was now two full levels higher than the rest.  I felt I wanted to challenge him on playing an anti-hero, and this game presented such an opportunity.  With a Pearl of Power and the secret levels he gained through the Demon Child, he felt more powerful having now the power to cast Lightning bolt more than once.

David was the elven Druid named Lyus Baequiundlin, and this time he had a Spear of Wounding to assist him in battle.

Ric was the Human Sorcerer, Yenrry Dragonsbane, who lost his hands in the last game.  With the limbs replaced with magical iron forearms from Halruaa, the City of Wizards, the Sorcerer hoped his two Ion stones would help him survive better.

Jigs played the Elven Fighter Ramza, who found a Scabbard of Keen Edge ready to help empower his sword for battle.

Jam was the Halfling Rogue Caishn Riverend, whose Ring of Chameleon Power provided him with stealth whenever he needed it.

And lastly, James played the Half-Elven Sorcerer Rondo, and his Boots of Flying would provide him mobility whenever he needed it.

In this game session, I had one goal:  Let the players experience an encounter with a dragon.   Dungeons and Dragons, after all, was the roots of Pathfinder.  It felt only appropriate that the players finally get an encounter facing with one of these mythical beasts of legend.    Tasked to retrieve the Moon Arc, a lost artifact that has long been forgotten in the Temple of the Moon all the way in the far northern lands of ice.  Expecting it to be a breeze, the group was surprised to find something waiting for them at the front of the ancient temple whose entrance stood at the foot of a frozen lake.  Carefully stepping onto the frozen lake, Rondo, Ramza and Caishn made their way towards the entrance.  The body of a halfling seemed to be hanging upside down on the temple's facade.  Lyus soon identified the ropes holding the body to be Assassin Vine, and tried to call out to the others to warn them.  Sadly his voice did not carry.  Hoping to help, Alcarin leapt on the frozen lake, forgetting how his mass and the plate mail he wore might be too much for the ice to bear.  Cracks spread out from where he landed and the dwarf quickly dropped to his knees and tried crawling forward.

As the other half of the group made their approach, Jazintho began to hear a message being whispered to him from somewhere.  The wizard scanned the surroundings and caught a glimpse of a massive white thing with a golden eye staring from the cliff's edge.  The message was simple, "Have you brought me offerings?"  When Jazintho answered, "Maybe." Both Lyus and Yenrry overheard him and wondered what the wizard was muttering about.  The wizard merely replied, "Just practicing my monologue."

As the first group neared the halfling, Rondo launched a Mage Hand guided dagger across the sky to slice the halfling down.  The halfling was alive, it seemed, and quivered and moved.  On the last instance, the group realized the halfling was struggling to motion, "Stay away!" but the warning reached them too late.  The body of the halfling erupted, unleashing a Stinking Cloud of miasma upon the three.  Caishn reacted fast enough to tumble out of the way.  But both Rondo and Ramza fell to the ground, with nausea taxing their systems.

Alcarin saw his friends in trouble, and before he could get to them to help, realized a massive thing was moving under the frozen lake.  Dodging out of the way, the Dwarf evaded the initial attack of whatever that massive thing was under the water.    It was at that moment, Lyus thought to help and using Longstrider, quickly closed the gap between him and the dwarf.  Jazintho heard the whisper once again, asking if his companion was his apprentice.  Jazintho turned to the Sorcerer and without warning, launched a Lightning Bolt at the poor man.  Thanks to his Draconic Bloodline, the Sorcerer survive the initial onslaught.  In hopes of buying himself time, Yenrry casted Charm Person back in retaliation.  But the Wizard's Half-Elven blood and intense will saved him from being overwhelmed by the spell.  This time, in an attempt to disable him, the wizard struck the Sorcerer with a Blindness spell.  Yenrry resisted the effects, but wisely Bluffed his way into pretending he had been disabled.

As the first group attempted to regroup, Assassin vines reached out to attack.  Ramza sliced away a few, giving Rondo the precious seconds he needed to recover from the Stinking Cloud, and fly them both out of reach.  Caishn felt the frozen lake begin to melt and quickly launched himself to the temple wall, using his grappling hook to pull himself to safety.  Neither Lyus and Alcarin were lucky however.  The ice melted and both plunged into the icy depths.  Lyus was immediately rendered unconscious by the cold.  Alcarin struggled but his armor proved too heavy for him to try to swim against.

A bridge formed across the icy waters, allowing Jazintho to bring the disabled Yenrry across with him into the temple.

*

Lyus and Alcarin awaken to find themselves naked and hanging upside down inside a massive ice pit.  At the center of the bowl-like floor, a hoard of armor, weapons and gemstones was present.  Lyus embraced his Wildshape and transformed into an Eagle in a bid to escape.  Alcarin used his massive strength to shatter his own icy manacles, and the two quickly used teamwork to find weapons to arm themselves.  In the pit with them, the massive golden eye emerged, and they soon learned to their horror that the thing was a serpentine white dragon that lived in the pit with them.

Jazintho with the "disabled" Yenrry find an audience with a chief priest of what seem to be reptilian humanoids.  The priest converses with Jazintho in Draconic, a language Yenrry sadly never learned.  As the two discuss, the priest warns Jazintho that it is aware the human is pretending to be blind.  So the reptilian figure draws a blade, and takes action to pull out Yenrry's tongue.  Yenrry panics, and tries to use Diplomacy on the two, hoping they would let him go.   The priest, now speaking in Common, demands that Yenrry prove he is blood of the Dragons, but lacking his hands which can turn into claws, Yenrry feels his bid for freedom has failed.  The reptilian man slashes at the Sorcerer, tearing away his iron limbs.

Caishn, Ramza and Rondo find Jasmine arriving as they contemplate on how to rescue their friends.  Jasmine questions whether or not the others need saving and recommends they abort the quest and return to the Realms Master.  But the three stand their ground and insist they try to find their friends ("...and the loot," Caishn intones.)  Jasmine tells them she will return with the others, but tells them they probably only have an hour.  Maybe less.  To find their friends.

The three enter the long hallways whose walls are filled with murals of lizard folk and dragons.  At the end stand a pair of double doors.  Not finding them locked, they enter to find themselves in a massive chamber, with a circular pit in its center.  Towering over it is an 80-foot tall statue of a dragon with golden eyes.  On its head, like a crown, stood the Moon Arc.    The cultists all turn around, alerted to their arrival by the sudden light that disrupts the gathering when they opened the doors.  Ramza, perhaps guided by extremely accurate gut feelings, orders Caishn to tie his two ropes together with the grappling hook and hand them to him.  Rondo casts Detect Magic and begins to see numerous points of power.  The chief priest in the other side of the room surges with an extremely powerful aura of abjuration magic.  The most powerful source of magic emanates from the object atop the 80-foot dragon.  Yet other points of magic exist (which he later discerns to be the presence of Jazintho, Yenrry, and something deep in the pit.)

As Rondo attempts to parlay with the chief priest, using his Boots of Flying to walk over the very pit, the chief priest levitates as well and walks towards the Sorcerer.  Both begin to discuss options as Rondo silently casts Charm Person to sway the conversation in his direction.  Back at the foot of the dragon statue, however, Jazintho is warned that the party may learn of his treachery and is to pretend to have been Charmed or Dominated by their foes.  But Jazintho at first thinks it would be better to eliminate any witnesses, and launches a second Lightning Bolt at Yenrry.  Yenrry falls down into the pit, practically dying from the final assault.   Down below, Alcarin and Lyus attempt to face the dragon, with the poor Druid being the first recipient of the White Dragon's Cold Breath.  Alcarin rushes close to strike, but the Dragon's reach works to its favor and with a swipe of its tail, launches the Dwarf across the pit to the other side.

Caishn slips into the shadows, using his Ring of Chameleon Power to make his way to the 80-foot Dragon statue unmolested.  The cultists close in and Ramza decides to use the rope to descend into the pit.   Seeing the dragon attacking his friends, he draws out his Sleep Arrow and considered stabbing the Dragon with it to knock it down.  But his first two attempts to do so fail to penetrate the Dragon's immense armor.   When the negotiations between Rondo and the priest don't seem to go anywhere, Rondo then flings a vial of Alchemist's fire onto the priest's open mouth!  The priest plunges down the pit, screaming as the fire eats as his face.  The cultists panic, and they rush to exit the temple in fear rather than stay to fight.  Alcarin slides to the side of the dying Sorcerer and uses his Paladin abilities to bring him back from the brink.  Lyus dispels his Eagle form to pull out a Healing Potion and recover from his grievous wounds.  Yenrry too draws out a potion to heal himself, but only seconds later realizes his stumps have somehow regrown what seem to be strange fingery protrusions.  He begins to wonder if he has somehow gained the regenerative properties of reptiles as well.

Atop the Dragon Statue, Jazintho finds the Moon Arc, but as he touches it he feels the Demon Child scream in agony and demand he let go.  The Moon Arc, as it turns out, is a powerful artifact of goodness and the Demon Child cannot abide its touch.  Jazintho pulls away, allowing Caishn instead to come forward and draw it.  But as he pulls it free, the temple begins to share and the magical wards that keep the White Dragon from leaving the domain break apart.  As the Dwarf and Lyus anticipate another deadly blow from the dragon, Ramza kicks off the rope, Quick Draws his bow, and launches the Sleep Arrow into the White Dragon's open maw.  The Dragon seems unaffected, and blasts the flying Rondo with another surge of Cold.  Ramza survives, and just as the Dragon was about to strike the fatal stroke, it drops to the base of the pit and falls asleep.

Debris from the temple begin falling down, and many of the heroes consider their means of escape.  Initial attempts of both Jazintho and Caishn to scale the walls and reach the ceiling from atop the statue fail.  Rondo flies to Ramza and lifts him towards the sky, slipping through the broken ceiling to escape.  In the clouds, still on its approach, the Realms Master makes its journey to them.  Rondo flies there, hoping to have enough time to fly back.  But on his return trip, only Jazintho can be seen at the roof of the temple, and before he could make it any closer, the whole structure collapses on itself and vanishes beneath a cloud of ice cold shards.

*

On the Realms Master, Rondo feels distraught, having failed to rescue the others.   Dwalimer Omen walks up to him and tells him, "Not all is lost.  If your friends were as devious as I expected them to be, then I suspect they have found the means to survive despite themselves."  When asked by Ramza what he meant, Omen casts a simple Locate Object spell and brings the Realm Master to the lake.  A golden bubble breaks the surface and inside, the rest of the party can be found alive and well!  As both Ramza and Rondo begin to ask what is going on, or how this happened, they notice the Yenrry, Alcarin, Lyus and Jazintho are all staring  instead at Caishn, and the new person who seems to be with them.

"May I present to you, the Elven Princess," Dwalimer Omen pronounces, and the beautiful naked Elven woman whose lap Caishn is resting against, smiles in response.  "Hello Omen," she mutters, "I never thought I would see you again."

"She has a thing for rogues," Omen admits, and shakes his head.  As if to prove his point, the Princess pulls Caishn closer and tells him, "You are going to love me... forever.  Right?"  But all Caishn can think of that moment is that Dwalimer Omen just admitted he used to be a rogue as well.

*

As you probably noticed, this game was my first step into developing the presence of an ongoing story arc.  The Blood Stone which Caishn first stole from the Tomb of the Elven Princess returns in this game with an unexpected twist.  The gem wasn't just a gemstone.  It was some kind of prison or vessel for an Elven Princess.. one which Dwalimer Omen happened to personally know.    Also in this game, the ongoing story of Jazintho's seduction into evil continues, and how this will eventually clash with Alcarin's Paladin vows is definitely something to look forward to.  Yenrry's Draconic Bloodline too begins to give hints of an ongoing tale.

As to Ramza, Rondo and Lyus?  One will just have to wait and see what direction their stories will eventually take.  But one thing is for sure, there is time to learn all their tales.   Assuming they survive long enough.


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