Kingmaker

Home Work

? – ?

This adventure covered the later part of the 14 months the party stayed in Home. During this time they began taking duties on patrol, protecting the valley from the threats of the First World. They battled a fire absorbing/spitting tyrannosaurus (and won, salvaging 6 of it’s strange fire absorbing back plates to construct small shields or bucklers) then helped divert a giant slug migration by killing a handful of the huge mollusks.

They also undertook an adventure to seek out some “living steel” that a passing pixie told the people of Home about. Along the way they battled large puff-ball fungi called Ascomoid’s, and were victorious. The living steel tree was indeed where it was said to be but it turned out to be a trap (a prank in the eyes of the pixie) set up by 4 evil red caps. The pixie tried to provide a distraction during the fight with an illusion of a blue giant, the party did not bite however. They killed the red caps, took their treasure, then returned to Home with 5 ingots of living steel.

Also during this time Caelan continued cooking with the people of Home (including making Tyrannosaurus Haggis!) and began training a priest of Erastil to guide the budding religion. Iola and Nolaquen continued trying to convince the other of the correctness of their respective customs. Scotia taught and learned weaving patterns and she even learned the language of Home. Quinn took on an apprentice, his cousin Gaerol. Adal was asked to train with the Guardian and his cadre of 10 warriors.

The learn a bit more about Home’s customs. After a death there is a mourning period of 7 days, followed by a time of happiness and anticipation as people try to guess which couple will be allowed to have children. They also learn that harmony is the culture’s dominant trait.

They also debate whether to take the people of Home with them if they are able to return. Perhaps a bit surprisingly the population, while definitely divided, are more open to the idea than one might assume. (Their world is shrinking, and after countless generations this has been the first opportunity to leave in their history.) One thing is agreed on by all parties. They must all go or all stay, the people of Home will not split up.

Finally, after 14 months (or so, an exact count is impossible) Gaerol rushes to Quinn to inform him that “She’s here, the Old Beldame has arrived!”

The group go to see her. She is at first shocked. Then she looks suspicious. She looks in Caelan’s eyes, pinches his skin, then proclaims “‘taint real. Copies, good ones, I’ll give you that. You’ll have to get rid of dem tattoos if you really want to fool anyone.” Now it is the party’s turn to be shocked. They eventually convince the old witch that they are indeed themselves and she begins to unveil the incredible events from Innisfree.

They find out:

  • It has been two and a half to three years on Golarion.
  • The Heroes of Innisfree did return a few months after they left to investigate Varnhold.
  • They returned with control of Varnhold and an Alliance with the wild Cyclops’ tribes of the Tors.
    Since the “heroes” return many things have changed:
  • Deoryr Slyss never returned, his position has not been filled.
  • The Queen and Prince have very rarely been seen in public since, and only from a distance.
  • All power has been concentrated in the King’s hands.
  • Oleg and Grigori have been thrown in prison for corruption, both replaced by a Cyclops named Agapetos.
  • Jhod has taken ill and rarely leaves the Temple of the Stag in Stagholm
  • Money and resources are sent to an unknown location south of Varnhold monthly, the economy has completely stagnated and living conditions are deteriorating.
  • Munguk has been chained to the Monument of the People. Instead of a place to speak freely, it has become a place to come and humiliate the dumb creature. Most people have not participated beyond what is required (some even sneak him food and whisky), though sadly a small part of the population enjoys it. When Munguk eventually dies there is a petition to have Sootscale take his place.
  • An open bounty has been placed on Centaurs, attracting adventurers of questionable ethics.
  • The Heroes of Innisfree rarely mingle with the public anymore, preferring to stay secluded and have underlings do their business. When they are in public they are always accompanied by enormous Cyclops bodyguards.
  • A new hardline approach has been taken toward nature and the fey folk. Tyg Titter Tut now leads a fey rebellion , pestering all who venture into the wild places. (The rebellion even includes some citizens of Innisfree such as Verina). Many Cyclops have been killed by this group.

After these revelations the party begins a spirited discussion on what to do next.

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Home away from Home

? – ? (For the characters over a year passes)

The group begins the adventure camped for a few days, deciding what to do next. During this time some foraging/hunting as well as crafting (of crude clothes, sandals, and holy symbols) takes place. There is a brief encounter with some hunting Velociraptors (with viper fangs), but the group dispatches them quickly.

They travel a couple more days. They seemingly have no direction to go and no leads. They begin to brainstorm. The song from Quinn’s dream at the base of the Old Sycamore is remembered. When he begins to sing it a path cuts through the forest like a knife, the path is soft on their battered feet. They discover the path will disappear after 15 minutes if the song is not being sung.

Along the way they come across an outcropping of strange bright blue obsidian (freshly exposed surfaces glows slightly for a week). They take some, Wan-Fu uses shape stone to craft some better weapons out of it. They meet a huge dire bear across a clearing eating berries. It stands, letting the group know that the berry patch is his. They decide not to provoke the bear further and keep travelling.

After 6 more days they come across a strange row of thick stemmed dead rose bushes, the path leads through them. Beyond signs of ancient civilization can be seen (stones from an old path, old irrigation ditches, etc). Sweet potatoes and raspberries that have returned to the wild are also seen. After a night of camping and foraging the group continues on. Over the next few days more of these rows of dead rose bushes are passed through. The forest around them is becoming more “normal” by their standards, and less crazy and harsh..

Eventually they see a clearing ahead. They come out looking over a bucolic valley. They pass through a row of bright red thick stemmed rose bushes (the path disappears behind them). The valley itself contains farmland and pastures. A strangely shaped hill rests in the center (in the shape of an enormous prone woman!), into a village is built (with round wooden doors dotting the side of the hill). Humanoids can be seen tending to field and sheep.

Nearby, in a wooden watchtower, a watchman jumps to his feet. He grabs his bow and a horn, the freezes in his spot. He drops the items, zips down the ladder, then rushes forward. He stands there, mouth agape, disbelieving what he is seeing. The group finally snaps him out of this state. He is overjoyed and overwhelmed. He speaks a strange pidgin of ancient Common, Elvish, and Sylvan. They find out the valley is simply called Home. Artanis (the watchman) begins leading the group toward the center of the valley. Other join along the way, equally amazed as Artanis was, and there is quite a crowd by the time the group arrives at the village. Through the crowd comes an ancient half-elf man, who is the spitting image of Quinn! He hugs Quinn, saying “Welcome Home!” The group looks around and notices many of the people here have a family resemblance to Quinn. They also notice every last inhabitant is a half-elf.

Eventually someone known as the “First Speaker” is summoned. She arrives along with the “ruling council” (for lack of a better term); the Painter, the Crafter, the Wise Man, and the Guardian. Clothes and food is brought for the group.

The group tells the people of Home of their journey. Then they hear the story of Quinn’s origin. He was born in Home and raised by his parents until he was a small boy. His mother was a special figure in Home’s history, the most gifted Painter ever. At some point a Fey Queen and her entourage came to Home. They were powerless to stop her and so let her stay with them for a time. She was a cruel and wicked woman. She eventually grew bored and left. A few years later a messenger from the Fey Queen came back, he told them that she would be visiting Home in a year’s time and that she wished to be presented the dead body of Quinn (then known as Laervaeth) upon her arrival. The people of Home did not know what to make of this strange request. If they fought, Home would be destroyed. But they would not give up one of their own so easily. It was decided that the boy would be taken away, and the remaining people of Home would throw themselves on the Queen’s mercy. For the next year Quinn’s mother tattooed the child and his father composed a song that would bring him Home again. The plan was to leave, take their chances in the wilds, and hopefully return someday after the Queen had forgotten about their valley (Fey are notoriously fickle). The small family left with little time to spare. Unfortunately the Queen returned early. Many in Home were killed. Other were tortured. After waiting as long as they could the village eventually gave up the direction the family went. The Queen left and did not destroy Home (not out of mercy but out of inconvenience). That was the last they saw Quinn’s and his parents or the Queen until now.

The next year whizzes by. The group has equipment custom made for them by the Crafter. The Painter possesses a unique form of magic which can permanently bestow magic upon a person through a tattoo. Each of the characters also get one of these (along with other tattoos by the Painter’s apprentice). They begin to settle in, though always with a desire to get back to Innisfree.

During this year: Quinn connects with his family, Iola is courted by the First Speaker’s apprentice (an athletic young man named Nolaquen), the males of the group are pressured to marry (the Wise Man does this, obviously he is in charge of keeping bloodlines from getting to weird), the group’s martial prowess is noted and they are given an area of border to patrol, people hang on every word and note of Quinn’s songs and stories, and the two cultures generally get to know each other. Everything is provided for the group during this time.

It is also discovered that one very infrequent visitor is an old woman who comes from a world known as “Tuskwater Loch”….the group figures out it is the Old Beldame! With this the only lead the group waits and hopes for her arrival.

((OOC: This is a very broad stroke approach to what happened during that year. Please feel free to add in side stories, forum roleplay, etc.)

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First (World) Impressions

Sarenith 5th, 4719 – ?

The group sits helpless, paralyzed by the dread lich Vordakai. One by one they watch each other being “processed” by Vordakai. When he gets to Quinn something grabs his attention, something on Quinn’s back (which the others cannot see). He leaves for a time then returns with an assortment of horrible looking tools and equipment. It’s obvious that he is meaning to skin the general alive.

Hope fades and despair sets in. In their darkest hour the heroes of Innisfree see a light…literally. Something on Quinn’s back begins to glow brightly. Vordakai covers his eye and staggers backward. The party is fascinated by the light and stare at it, completely absorbed by it. At some point they realize they are no longer in Vordakai’s lair, they cannot think of where they might be since the light commands their attention. Eventually the light fades, replaced by the comforting darkness of sleep.

They awaken in a world of extremes (each in a separate place, though close to each other, all are naked and with no equipment). Life bursts forth in every direction, plants and insects seeming evolving before your eyes. It is an land of complete wilderness. Everything is amplified. Plants are greener, the sky bluer, trees taller, animals larger and healthier, etc. Everything also has an edge of danger about it as well. Plants have thorns, insects stingers and mandibles, etc. Quinn recognizes the land as the same one he saw in his dream that night, years ago, when he slept among the roots of the Old Sycamore.

Unfortunately, Scotia wakes beside a Dire Boar that was rooting for mushrooms. She startles it and it attacks. Shockingly it is no normal Dire Boar, on it’s back are butterfly wings and it’s eyes stick out from it’s head and are insectoid in nature. The rest of the group converges and scares off the boar.

They come together to try and take stock. Thanks to their formidable knowledge of the planes they figure out they are on the First World. An infinite plane of wilderness and chaos. The sages back home call it a “first draft” of the real world, and say that it exists “behind” reality and not within it (like the other planes of existence). Natural Laws are incomplete, inconsistent, and ever changing here. They know it is the home of the Fey, and that the Fey can be particularly dangerous here (no fear of death). They also know getting into and out of the First World is extraordinarily difficult, requiring very powerful magics or an area where the fabric between worlds has grown thin.

The group cobble together some weapons. Quinn catches a strange pike. Only Scotia bothers to weave some clothing. Adal makes a pouch for some stones. Caelan and Wan-Fu are horrified to discover they have no (or little) connection with their god.

The strangeness of the land begins to become obvious. There is no sun, yet it is bright and warm. There is no day/night cycle, night falls instantly and only lasts 10-90 minutes. Fireflies fly over in the shape of constellations. An ocean worth of rain pounds down, but nothing gets wet (only sound and sight). Only forest (of insanely tall trees) can be seen in every direction. Etc, etc.

After some time they start on their way, hoping to find something. They travel along a dried stream bed for over a week, collecting food along the way. Thankfully Wan-Fu keeps them hydrated with Create Water. Eventually they come to the top of a cliff thousands of feet tall, they turn and travel a few days to discover a field of grass that is razor sharp. Scotia sets it ablaze, the entire field (many miles wide) goes up in mere minutes leaving only ash. The group follows the field then head back towards the dried stream bed.

Along the way the encounter and battle many strange creatures. Nothing is “normal” here. Deer with “switch blade” antlers, a wolf made of living stone (they give it a deer and it leaves), tree frogs made of dense wood, high speed Violet Fungi, an extremely horny Satyr (who bursts into camp sniffing the air and saying “Give me your women!”), a giant stag beetle with a glowing gland on it’s head (and it’s babies), etc.

The game ends when the group realizes they cannot find the stream bed again, despite careful mapping. Obviously the land itself can transform in their wake.

Confused and perplexed the group ends almost two weeks (they think) of travel no further ahead than when they got there. Their thoughts are with Innisfree, and with their friends and family back home. In a land of infinite chaotic wilderness, where does one go?

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Vordakai Lives!

Desnus 17 – Sarenith 5th, 4719

(This log covers 3 or 4 gaming sessions).

The group begins their journey to find the Nomen centaurs, exploring as they go. They discover (and avoid) a herd of mammoth near the bleached bones of a gigantic linnorn. They also come across a malevolent pair of will-o-wisps on the hunt (which are quickly dispatched).

One night the group is attacked by a slithering black horror with two palid arms known as a Soul Eater. After a challenging battle the creature is destroyed, leaving the group to wonder why it had attacked and where it came from.

The party eventually meets a Nomen Warband. The warrior centaur women charge forward, whooping and shrieking and putting on a display of strength. The group stands their ground while making it obvious they are not there for a fight. After a short discussion the group shows this warband Skybolt, the bow found among the Spriggan’s loot. It is requested the group return with the warband to speak with the chieftain, they agree.

After a few days journey they are lead to the camp of the Nomen. As they approach: “The camp itself sits in a low hillock surrounded by a sea of grass. A large bonfire dominates the center of the camp, around which more of the horsewomen dance in a primal rhythm long lost to the civilized soul. A scattering of opensided hide huts numbering no more than five score are ranged around the hollow, inside which other members of this tribe congregate, eat, or sleep. Everywhere, the heavily armed and armored centaurs sharpen weapons, tend to gear, or walk patrols, all with a feral economy of movement and sound. These are the true inheritors of an age long gone when the steppes rang to the thunder of their herds and the fury of their war cries, while the first inklings of civilization clung to shorelines and riverbanks like children to their mothers’ skirts—afraid of the dark wilderness and its wild masters.”

The first thing immediately obvious is that it is a society made up primarily of females. The men are protected and treasured (many of the men are still warriors, though generally archers). The group is lead to the chieftain as she is readying for the Centaur nightly ritual to their god the Moon Mother (an aspect of Desna). The entire camp (of hundreds) are already gathered here. There is no mistaking the hostility directed the group’s way. The chieftain, one Aecora Silverfire, listens to the groups story and questions. She gratefully accepts Skybolt (the fact it was missing is obviously a sore point among the centaurs) then asks the Duke to speak with her alone.

The two walk to a small quiet hill that overlooks the bustling encampment. In the gloam of twilight they talk honestly; ruler to ruler, warrior to warrior, parent to parent (you get the idea). Caelan learns that Vordakai is not a centaur god but a “slumbering warlord from the times of the mother tribes”. His name is spoken fearfully among the Nomen, his name associated with something ancient and powerful. There is a place Aecora knows of associated with that name, a place the Nomen are forbidden to go. It is called Olah-Kakenket, the Valley of the Dead. It is among the Nomen traditions to watch over this valley (from afar) for signs of disturbance or activity. Aecora believes the valley is some sort of graveyard and that the trail at the end of the valley leads to Vordakai’s tomb. As they talk it seems Aecora is avoiding something. Caelan finally pries out that a young headstrong Nomen has entered the valley (despite the taboo) and has not been heard from since. Ashamed, but knowing a fellow parent and ruler would understand, Aecora admits the young Nomen is her own daughter Xamanthe. She asks Caelan to find her daughter since the group is heading to Olah-Kakenket anyways. Caelan agrees. Due to the disruption two legged folk cause among her people she regrets to tell Caelan that the group must leave the camp that night. He understands. They head back.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, Quinn performs as Scotia does her best to simultaneously dub the performance into Sylvan, all the while Iola does an interpretive dance. The audience stands in stunned confusion. One of the few friendly centaurs asks Wan-Fu what it’s all about…he shrugs. A few in the crowd do enjoy the virtuosity of the music itself. Caelan returns and the group is off.

They make good time to the Valley of the Dead. Along the way a flash of insight strikes Quinn. He suddenly realizes that a particular crow (it has a slightly distinctive beak) has been following the group since at least Varnhold. Thinking back he realizes it has been hiding in plain sight for weeks! The group figure out a scheme by which they can kill the creature quickly without tipping it off that they know it is a spy. The plan is successful and Vordakai’s familiar is destroyed.

The group enters the valley, passing the Nomen’s warning wall of bone totems. The valley itself looks much like the surrounding land, though a strange feeling of oppression begins to grow and the normal sounds of wind in grass seems oddly muted. A mile in they come across the first of the gravestones, 6-10’ high steles which are badly weathered. The group searches for a while, but there is nothing here to find except for the illegible etchings of ancient cyclops on the weathered stones.

They eventually make their way to the path mentioned by Aecora heading up into the mountains, it is a great stairway made for creatures much larger than humans. In the shadow of the path they see a lumbering figure. Out of the shadows steps a cyclops zombie, guts hanging out and dragging a huge axe. Despite being a zombie, a slight glimmer of intelligence is evident in it’s behavior. The group dispatches the creature in short order. They climb the miles long stairway (camping in the middle) and finally find themselves coming out at the shores of a small lake. Cliffs all around, a waterfall the the right, and a towering natural column of rock jutting out from the middle (smoke or steam can be seen escaping through cracks in the rock face.

As Scotia flies around to scout the area a family of Wyverns take notice and the fight is on. Scotia nearly perishes, but the group prevails. Wondering if there is anything in the deep waters of the lake Iola throws a flank of wyvern into the lake attached to a rope, after many minutes the answer is affirmative as something very strong yanks the rope from her hands.

A small landing can just be seen from shore, the group (with their foldable boat) makes their way there. The landing leads into a hallway leading deep into the pillar of stone. And thus begins the extended dungeon crawl that is Vordakai’s Tomb. They quickly figure out that someone at Varnhold had been here before, breaking the magical (invisible) seal. The bracelet supposedly found by a river was actually found here…and is not actually a bracelet but a cyclops sized ring. Horse tracks, obviously Xamanthe’s, lead in deeper.

The group faces and discovers (deep breath): a group of cyclops zombies, an aquatic dinosaur (in it’s lair, an area that leads out to the river, this is the creature that ate the Wyvern flank), a room of pottery, an elaborate trap room with more guardian zombies (Iola’s spidey sense picks up the trap thankfully), a stranger room of obvious religious significance depicting Charon and with altars, a tomb with two soul eaters that kill Adal (they order the Queen to send Deoryr with the Queen’s raise dead supplies, regroup in the pottery room, raises Adal, and leaves Deoryr there), return to the altar room and go through the special bronze doors (they don’t figure out the “riddle” and set off the trap of Stygian Fire), fight a guardian Piscodaemon (very difficult, Iola almost dies), find Xamanthe seemingly dead (though really paralyzed, she isn’t able to tell the group too much, they leave her with Deoryr and order Deoryr to teleport away at the first sign of trouble or in 12 hours), find some secret doors in the tomb room, find a weird room obviously highly magical and with an eye motif, come to a room with a huge pool of tar and whose air is noxious (they fight an undead wizard here and defeat him), continue across the tar to the next part of the dungeon, find a huge room with a horrific scene of the council and significant members of the Varnhold sitting around a table with their heads cracked open and their brains scooped out…and more zombies (very difficult fight in the hallway, Iola almost dies, saved by Adal), another tomb area with the body of another Varnhold council member and it’s spectre (defeated), the group returns to dining hall and climb stairs to the balconey, find secret door, enter to discover a large pool of sulfurous water…and a massive evil water elemental (very difficult fight, Scotia almost dies, saved by Wan-Fu). (Whew!)

As the group is recovering from their fight against the elemental the large double doors to the next room slowly open, deep laughter can be heard within. At the door is another cyclops zombie, this one with plates of iron grafted to it. In the darkness behind a voice echoes. “Welcome little Duke, I give you one chance to lay Innisfree at my feet.” The fight is on.

The group makes short work of the guardian and prepares for their assault against Vordakai. Scotia makes the first move, strategically moving to an alcove, allowing straight access for the warrior types. Unfortunately Vordakai throws up a wall of force to isolate Scotia from the rest. Caelan goes nuts and begins attacking the wall. She tries to hide but to no avail. He blinds her then attempts to paralyze her (knowing she stands no chance, especially blind, one on one she mocks paralyzation until the wall of force comes down…yeah, that’s it). The whole time Vordakai stares at the duke, relishing Caelan’s rage. He takes Scotia to another room as Wan-Fu begins bashing through the stone walls. Vordakai patiently waits, studying his next victims through the wall of force.

What follows is the worst few minutes of Caelan MacCallan’s life (and probably everyone else’s as well). The fickle fates turn on our heroes, their attacks hit nothing but air, their considerable abilities seem useless, their incredible power negated by the turning of cosmic fortune. Vordakai slowly and systematically dismantles the Heroes of Innisfree. In his cruelty he purposely leaves the Duke till last. Before finally finishing the fight he looks at Caelan and says “You’ve lost your council little Duke.” Caelan attacks with wild abandon… but sadly falls like the rest. The entire group paralyzed the dread warlord Vordakai begins to strip the bodies, first magically then physically. Too late Caelan realizes what is happening. The last thing heard by Duchess Torri MacCallan from her husband through their telepathic bond is “I love you!”.

The Heroes of Innisfree are defeated…

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The Discovery of the Ghost Stone

Desnus 6th – 17th, 4719

The session begins as the party deals with the aftermath of previous events. Iola is dead and they have captured 4 Spriggans.

Through the faith of Wan-fu and the mercy of Erastil Iola is brought back to life and healed at the town’s temple to Old Deadeye. A scroll of Raise Dead found at the temple is used for this.

Luckily for the group one of the spriggans (the formerly drunk one) spills the beans, much to the annoyance of the other survivors. Unfortunately he doesn’t really know that much. He tells the group that his tribe (the Culcheck tribe) came down from the mountains to discover Varnhold already empty. He tells them of a fearsome tribe of centaurs that roam the plains, and that the impressive bow discovered amongst the loot was stolen from the centaurs some time ago. Finally, he speaks of a haunted place a few days to the south, a grey stone pillar and the surrounding area that is infested by spirits.

Mercifully the group releases the one who snitched first, giving him a good head start before releasing the others.

After dealing with the prisoners the group decides to explore the town more fully (this also gives Iola more time to recover). Again, the town is completely deserted. The one unexpected discovery was the stretched and tanned hides of what looks like a horse, closer inspection reveals it is actually the hide of a centaur!

The group strikes out South from Varnhold, following the edge of the Tors of Levenies mountain range. They discover the former home of the Culcheck tribe, the trio of spriggans released together from Varnhold are found here. After a brief conversation the group continues on.

They continue to explore the foothills heading South. One night Scotia is plagued with horrible nightmares. The next day the group comes across an extremely peculiar sight. A bounding stag which appears to be leaping up through the ground then landing back underground. As it nears it stops leaping, staying under the surface. Rising up amongst the group is a twisted stag creature, it’s appearance a horrid corruption of Erastilian imagery. Scotia is shocked to recognize the horror from her nightmare the night before. After a tough battle the animate dream is dispatched.

They continue on, at night the group begins to notice a faint white glow on the side of a mountain. They make their way toward it. Along the way they are approached by a strange woman hidden in a copse of high bushes. She says her name is Zzamas. Only her face is visible initially and she speaks in a strange buzzing voice. She asks the group for help, she wants to return home. She offers a reward (a fancy chest) if they can help. They ask her to come out from the bushes, she does so reluctantly revealing herself to be a phase spider! She explains that she inadvertently came to this world from the ethereal plane through the Spirit Stone (which coexists on both planes). Once through she was chased off by a group of Xill that has set up camp around the stone.

The group agrees. They approach the area to discover a large group of Xill obviously enjoying some sort of intoxication which they derive from the stone itself. The group easily dispatches the group of addicts (thanks to some handy fireballs and well placed sneak attacks). Zzamas immediately makes for the stone, disappearing into it, before the fight is even finished. However, true to her word, she returns some time later with the promised chest (along with the treasure it contains). She thanks the group and returns to the ethereal.

The game concludes with the group heading NE for some exploration and in hopes of finding the Nomen Centaur Tribe.

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The Varnhold Vanishing

Desnus 5th-6th, 4719

Through the pouring rain the group continues exploring Varnhold. After Iola “finds” (nearly falls into) a couple of pit traps the group makes their way to the local inn, a place called the Water Horse. On their way in they notice the word “NOMEN” has been hastily scratched into the front door. Once inside the first thing they notice is a large gnome like creature (holding a book) frozen in place and surrounded by a strange amber energy (Scotia recognizes it as the effects of a Sepia Snake Sigil), the poor creature’s head had been bashed in though it’s face shows no sign of pain. They continue to explore the inn to find the bar has been looted of alcohol though the kitchen has only been half looted. In the rest of the inn they only find some possessions in one of the rooms and in the corner of the tavern sits a pile of books and papers. As the group rummages through these they quickly discover that they belong to Evril Pendrod (the academic from their Academy). Among Pendrod’s notes they find reference to an ancient jade bracelet found on a nearby riverbank and mention of something called Vordakai (a centaur god?). Pendrod believed the bracelet, Vordakai, and the Nomen centaurs were somehow connected. The inn is otherwise abandoned with no signs of struggle. The group leaves the injured Wan-Fu in the inn root cellar as they continue their exploration of the town.

They continue on to explore the local temple, cemetery, well (where they find another of the gnome like creatures bodies, this one small), grange, potter’s house, tailor’s house, and weaver’s house. All they find are abandoned buildings (except for a cat named “Dragon” in the weaver’s house, Iola befriends it and they drop it off with Wan-Fu). The entire town seems abandoned except for the ubiquitous crows. Next they explore the blacksmith and livery, the livery yard contains the carcasses of dead horses and the highest concentration of crows in the town. Again, abandoned with no signs of a struggle. As Scotia enters the livery yard a murder of aggressive crows attack, injuring and blinding the High Sorceress of Innisfree. Adal immediately retreats into the blacksmith while the others do their best against the swarm of birds. Eventually the group all take refuge in the blacksmith building and wait for the crows to dissipate. With Scotia injured the group returns to the inn to spend the night in the root cellar. The next morning Scotia has regained enough vision to continue. The group explores the gem cutter’s shop (which has been completely looted and destroyed) and a sod hut (where they find a journal and a Folding Boat). Finally they set their sights on Varnhold’s Stockade, which sits atop a hill overlooking the entire area. A thin column of smoke can be seen rising from it’s yard.

They approach the front gate to see the tops of 6 guard helmets moving around in the tower, it takes little time to realize the helms move with the wind and are obviously just propped up on sticks. The group calls out to no response, the still pouring rain making hearing difficult. Scotia casts fly on Adal and he flies over to unlock the gate. Unfortunately he is spotted. The fort is actually inhabited by a group of strange blue-green skinned feral gnome like creatures (like the bodies they saw in the town) and a small pack of wolves. The alarm is raised and the battle is on. The group try their best to talk to the creatures, but the inhabitants have none of it. The creatures enlarge themselves and attack. Magic and steel are tossed across the sloppy and muddy battlefield, the group comes out victorious though at great cost. Iola is slain attempting to retreat from the creature’s chief (a fearsome warrior skilled with the great club).

At the end of the day the group has secured the town and captured 4 of the creatures. Still no signs of human life. The session ends as the group takes Iola’s body to the temple of Erastil and decide what to do (have Wan-Fu try and use the scroll of Raise Dead they found or contact Jhod and Deoryr to raise Iola).

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The Duke is Dead, Long Live the Duke

Gozran 8th – Desnus 5th, 4719

(Quick retcon: It is established that Caelan’s son has had his naming ceremony and that the child’s name is Dannon.)

The group readies themselves for their trip to Varnhold. While doing so they learn of a few more possible jobs/missions they might accomplish during their trip. First, a local aristocrat named Edrist Hanvaki has a brother who is overdue from returning from Varnhold. Edrist offers a reward for Tomin’s safe return or at least to learn the fate of his brother. Second, the chef at the Duck and Wagon (Jamery Gerbaskin) wants an undamaged Roc egg. If he gets one he will organize an omelette cooking competition in Innisfree.

The group decides to travel cross country to Varnhold so that they may do some exploration along the way. Along the way they have various encounters: a group of Worgs, a young Silver Dragon who is searching for an elder of his species in the area, and some very shy Grigs who live along the banks of Silverstep Loch (the Grigs seemed preoccupied by finding out whether Tyg-Titter-Tut sent the group or not).

One devastating encounter involves a band of 4 Cyclops. The two groups saw each other from a distance. As the group approached to talk with them the Cyclops were setting up a hasty ambush. As the group crested a hill the giants opened fire with crossbows and the battle was on. The first moments of melee were swift and brutal as the Cyclops charged with their greataxes. Within seconds the Duke was slain, dead before he hit the ground. The battle resumed and the group is victorious.

Wasting no time the group makes haste back to Innisfree (sending the silver raven ahead of them with orders). They decide to make for Iola’s estate. They worried that if it was known that the Duke was slain there would be panic; Quinn, through magic and mimicry, impersonates the Duke for the trip to keep up the facade. The arrive to find the Queen and High Priest awaiting them. After some tense hours Caelan is brought back to life through the power of Jhod’s prayers. Everyone is extremely relieved, in particular Jhod who became quite emotional afterward. The Duke spends some quality time with his wife and son before the group is off again.

They find an abandoned, but newly built, tower in Varnhold Pass. In heavy rain they arrive at the town of Varnhold. The place seems utterly abandoned except for the crows. They explore a pig farmers property (and fight the starving boar hidden in the barn) and cross the river by the natural ford (and have a difficult fight with the Chuul that has set up shop there).

The game concludes as the group approaches the town’s inn.

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An Heir is Born

Neth 10th, 4717 – Gozran 8th, 4719

The council responsibilities of the characters take precedence and a year an a half whizzes by. During this time the Duchy grows by leaps and bounds. Vitally needed buildings and expertise is added to all of the communities of Innisfree. Also some major projects were completed, these include: a Courthouse and Mint in Deepwater, a Brewery in Guinness, and a Resort at the Skunk River hot springs.

Two historic events also took place during this session. The Constitution of Innisfree was completed in Arodus of 4718, making Innisfree a nation of laws. And Caelan’s first born, a son, was born two months later.

Finally, a few other things happened that were noteworthy. Jacobi’s wife Mary had a daughter whom they named Scotia. Strangely, the child has begun showing signs of fire sorcery (at an incredibly young age). Rumors fly that Scotia love Jacobi and used some foul magic to arrange the awkward situation. The less superstitious believe this has more to do with Jacobi baptizing the child at a church of Cayden Cailean than any real connection between he and Scotia. Also, a Marsh Giant attacked the newly built resort and spa (causing some damage). The group dealt with the creature, though almost lost some members by their own hands due to a well placed confusion spell.

At the conclusion of the session the group begins learning of trouble in the neighboring settlement of Varnhold. A Swordlord by the name of Jamandi Aldori formally (though secretly) requests the group find out what has happened since Restov dares not show support for the fledgling settlements at their Southern Border (for fear of the Brevan Crown). Callum Argyle also sends a charter for the group to stop the nuisance of the Nomen Centaurs on behalf of Restov; either by force or by negotiation. Scotia also learns that a researcher from the Academy, one Ervil Pendrod, has not returned from his trip to Varnhold.

The game ends with the group readying to hit the road once more. A welcome thing after two and a half years of council sessions.

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Sweet Home Innisfree

Desnus 11th, 4716 – Neth 10th, 4717

This session was very much a meta-game session, we quickly skipped through the journey home and then went straight into a long session of kingdom building.

On the journey home:

  • Quinn performs for the Pharaoh of Osirion, unfortunately it is a forgettable performance.
  • In Absalom the group meets with the Pathfinders, visits the Great Library, advertise the kingdom and Scotia’s new school, Scotia buys some books, and research the River Kingdoms. They also talk to a sage about Starhold Prison and the shard they found in the Mwangi Expanse. The sage tells them that both are artifacts of the Mercane, an inter-planar and inter-stellar race of magic merchants who haven’t been seen on Golarion in many centuries. Though there is much scholarly debate around these topics it is believed that the prison was buried by a less reputable mercane merchant house to bury their mistake; also it is believed that the shard is a later mercane artifact which is designed to negate plane shifting and teleportation. While much more study is needed the group is told that the shard might be able to be used to shut down the prison.
  • In Almas Quinn’s investigations into his parent’s past bears fruit. He wasn’t able to find out anything about his father, but he does learn about his mom. She was part of an adventuring group consisting of 3 people (Fara Laduren an air sorceress from Cheliax, Harn Jorun a barbarian from the lands of the linnorn kings, and Pendra Polpopinger a gnomish rogue from Cheliax). They were a typical adventuring party that adventured in the Andoran, Taldor, and Qadira regions. Their final mission involved trying to uncover a cult, something about “Lurker on the Threshold”. Quinn is also told that his investigator accidentally reported some of this information to a man who looks exactly like him and goes by the name of Crevan the Gray Fox.
  • In Kyonin the group meets with Adal’s father. They find out he is a high ranking ranger in Kyonin’s defense force fighting the forces of the Tanglebriar near the town of Arabrecht. It was he who arranged the shipment of bows to Innisfree. He does what he can to keep tabs on Innisfree from afar. Wan-Fu also meets with his family.

The group finally gets home near the end of Lamashan 4716, almost a full year since they left for their epic journey to the South. A lot has happened in the past year:

  • Verina Chanistasta is in prison for assault and murder. She did not take the news of Kesten Garess’ death well and when she overheard a racist loudmouth woodsman insult both her and her former lover she went berserk. In the end the woodsman (Jeremy) was dead. The council decides to wait and sentence her later, perhaps a quest to redeem herself.
  • The Bronze Dragon Colette Desmarais spent a few weeks in Innisfree before moving on. The kingdom was just not yet ready to host someone of her taste and refinement. She left an address in Cassomir, Taldor.
  • The first annual Eel Festival was a rousing success (bringing in a lot of money to the kingdom). The winner was Tyg-Titter-Tut’s team of herself, Pervilash, and Munguk. Half the winnings were spent on whiskey and lentils, the other half on paint and a paint brush. Noone knows where Tyg got the entry fee in the first place.
  • Iola’s group has set up a Noble’s Villa and begun planting their vineyard a few miles SE of Deepwater.
  • The Mivonian Tinker Alex Greenbough has moved his family up to Guiness from Mivon. Oleg authorized a start up loan, a house and exotic craftsman was set up in Guiness.
  • In Deepwater 2 tenements, 3 houses, and a black market were created. (The black market is still a bit of an open secret, many people know of it and many don’t.)
  • Two professors from Liberthane have moved to Deepwater to work at the academy (one of political philosophy and the other of military history); also a small group of Andoren halflings have moved into Stagholm.
  • The Hydras have grown up and their trainer begs for better housing for them. While trained they are still aggressive and ravenous.
  • Reported to Quinn and Scotia only: Mr Hammer and Castiel tell them that a homegrown crime guild has sprung up in Innisfree. It is called the Silent Order and led by someone known as the Faceless Man. They have been keeping tabs on this guild but have not done anything about it. Crime has actually gone down and the guild has done much to keep other influences from the River Kingdoms at bay. Mr Hammer and Castiel leave it to Quinn and Scotia to tell the Duke or not (and they don’t).
  • Also reported to Quinn and Scotia: Everyone but the Pharasmites are serious creeped out by the Queen-to-be. When close to Torri malevolent voices and sounds can be heard, small objects seemingly move on their own often in an aggressive manner, and once a piece of chalk wrote the word “KILL” while she was with some commoner children. Most people now avoid her.
  • There was also a series of kingdom events that happened over the past year. These include: gift of food from Sootscales, Disease in Deepwater, silver mine playing out, unrest due to group’s absence (Grigori soothes the masses), more disease in the overcrowded Deepwater, and an extremely generous gift from Rolgrimmdur (masterwork armor for the army).

After all this exposition the group is finally able to get down to the business of kingdom building. Many long and raucous council meetings happen over the following months.

  • Three new council positions are created. Chief Justice: Fadil Ebe is given this honor and begins drafting the “Laws of Innisfree”. Economic Advisor: Iola Voralius takes this role and begins advising, as well as being mentored by, Oleg. And Head of the Royal Guard: Wan-Fu takes on this role and is responsible for the security of the Duke and Castle Tusk.
  • Innisfree expands in all directions. Many farms, camps, roads and bridges are built.
  • In Deepwater: a new city district, school, water tower, some houses, and a market.
  • In Guinness: a smithy, school, monument to the workers (after industrial accident event at gold mine), water tower, and an arena (houses Hydra when not being used).
  • In Stagholm: a smithy, school, water tower, and monument to the faithful (Erastil).
  • Kingdom events include: bad weather, “leaders are made not born” (free leadership feat for council members), industrial accident at the gold mine, a growing sentiment to get rid of the Sootscales now that they aren’t producing silver, food surpluses, an economic boom, and the return of your old friend Guglielmo the Janni.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, on Archer’s Day (Erastus 3rd) 4717 Duke Caelan McCallan takes Torri to become his Duchess. While few approve of his choice of brides, it is a joyous occasion. Dignitaries from far and wide attend the event. The wedding happens at the Temple of the Stag in Stagholm. Also wrapped up in this event is the unveiling of monument to the faithful as well as a ceremony performed by an Absalonian wizard (paid out of the treasury) whereby the Duke and Duchess now have a permanent telepathic bond between each other.

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Welcome to the Jungle

Gozran 11th – Desnus 11th, 4716

The adventure begins with the group trekking across the desolate Kho-Rarme Pass. It is two weeks of heat, sandstorms, and slow travel. Along the way they are at times guided by a flame in the distance; also they come across a massive dead Behir killed within the last few days. As the group leaves the pass they see a majestic phoenix flying back North.

Beyond the pass is a hilly land, which gradually transitions from arid to lush to full jungle. The group comes across a local who is moving some cattle. Thankfully Iola knows Polyglot and is able to communicate with him. He tells them how to get to the village of Ombassa.

The group quickly finds Tophran (the Chelaxian man mentioned in Faramore’s letter) who turns out to be an outfitter for those heading into the jungle. They find out Faramore is overdue by weeks, and believed to be dead. The group explains the situation (that Faramore’s brother Roland is dead) and convinces Tophran to give them the directions to the temple. He does so, sells them some survival gear, and arranges a boat and boatman (his brother-in-law) to take them down the river.

The group travel down river. They are attacked by a couple of Girallon’s (and are watched by a huge silverback girallon from the jungle). After a few days they head into the jungle. They have to deal with the hazards of the jungle (disease, quicksand, poisonous plants, aggressive insects). When they are close to the temple the draw out the Bulette they know is around (so they won’t have to deal with it later). They kill the creature (along with a troublesome poop-slinging monkey).

The next day they head to the temple. They are immediately attacked by the dark-elves that inhabit the place. There is a long running battle against: drow, 2 hill giants, and a drider sorcerer and his barghest companion. They find a key to get into the inner temple.

The inner temple appears to be a room within an alien landscape. The floor has been shattered and is now a series of islands surrounded by strange mist. They see an altar to Erastil across the room, it is in the shape of a stag’s head with expansive antlers.

Thanks to an inspired moment by Wan-fu (praise Erastil!) the group immediately figures out there is an invisible bridge across the room. The group fairly easily dispatches of the drow and human warrior (in red dragon style armor) protecting the room.

They find that a large crystal with alien lettering carved into it rests in the antlers of the altar. The lettering is similar to those found at Starhold Prison. They take the crystal (finding out it won’t go into a bag of holding). As they head back out into the main gallery they see the spirit of Eugene, now at peace. He bows to them then disappears.

They loot the area and then finally…finally…head for home.

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