Rise of the Runelords

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Frequency: Fortnightly / FINISHED

Location: Vague Connections, Nottingham

Time: 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Books: Pathfinder RPG Core rulebook + Paizo supplements

Players: 5 players [Full]

Party level: LV17.

The story so far:
The party is originally from Sandpoint, after saving the town from a Goblin attack and looking for clues behind who organised said attack they came into contact with strange and old rituals from the bygone age of Thassilon. Gruesome murder investigations led them eventually to Magnimar after a stint at an old haunted manor. It seems they have now come to the conclusion that they killed the person responsible: a Lamia Matriarch named Xanesha. Xanesha is now deceased. Having done good deeds for Magnimar, the mayor had a job for them: Checking on a fort in the Hook Mountain range, nothing really dangerous for such an intrepid team of adventurers.
The party travelled to Turtleback Ferry, a small town close to Fort Rannick. The local inbred Ogrekin family, now exterminated, was up to no good and had captured three Black Arrows rangers in order to add new blood to their family line. Fort Rannick had fallen to a tribe of Ogres, in their dedication to eradicate the Grauls the party forgot to keep at least one alive for interrogation. Magnimar was informed but could not send reinforcements in the dead of winter, the mayor offered Fort Rannick as the PCs' personal stronghold... if only they could retake it. When a clever plan arose to infiltrate the fort, the intrepid adventurers realised they did not know the name of any Ogre let alone that of their leaders. The Grauls' treasury seemed depleted a lot, as if offerings or tribute had been given away.
One of the many secret entrances to the fort led straight to the room of Lady Lucrecia, a roguish Lamia Matriarch this time. Lucrecia has now rejoined her cousin Xanesha in spirit if not in the flesh. A formerly sure of himself Gnomish Sorcerer has been found by the party in one of the nearby cells. One cannot beat this D&D cliché after all, even if coincidentally the party was indeed about to walk by the fort's jail. After designing and executing a cunning plan, the party carefully sneaked upstairs, reached the rooms where the Ogrish big boss, his family and lieutenants were living and slaughtered them all. Too bad nobody spoke Giant at the time as the party's victims shall remain forever nameless.
The execution of the next phase of the plan has somehow deviated strongly from what was indeed planned. After having sown the seeds of discord amongst the Ogres by dropping the head of their dead chieftain in the courtyard of the fort, the party decided to lob a couple of fireballs. This convinced the Ogres to band together again to crush the party first, then resume their heated negotiation regarding matters of succession later.
After finally liberating Fort Rannick, Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras of Magnimar kept his promise and made a banneret out of Marcus, henceforth to be addressed as Sir Marcus, Knight Banneret of the Black Arrows. Honour and nobility did not come without a price as desperate villagers from Turtleback Ferry came to request aid with the floods. An encounter with a Mother of Oblivion later, the party had to recover their senses, mind affecting magic from nasty monsters is not that healthy.
Forsooth, the dam has been damaged, some stupid Ogres have been hacking at it. The local residents, Trolls all of them, were not happy about this, after all they enjoy lairing at the Skulls' Crossing dam, and tried but failed to kick the Ogres out of their patch. PCs being PCs, everything must die! This, dying, they nearly did while removing the Ogres' menace, after dealing with an Ettin.
The Skulls Crossing dam has now been purged of its evil and/or annoying residents. A friendship with a Pit Fiend could have blossomed but in the end never happened. There had been some serious problems with the Ghost of a Nymph from Whitewillow, but the appropriate diplomacy of the party leader has ensured that the destruction of Turtleback Ferry did not happen. The party had to go up Hook Mountain to kill a couple of meddling Stone Giants who apparently had enslaved the Hook Mountain Ogres and forced them to manufacture a lot of Giant sized weaponry. Barl Breakbones the Stone Giant in charge of this little enterprise never had the time to surrender though. The party has therefore lost another occasion to get some background information. With the recent high level of staff rotation due to death, the current PCs have yet to attune themselves to what a Runelord is. Too bad, the original party had to die, they were doing so well... biggrin
Fort Rannick is now safe as are its environs. Things are not so quiet on the Western side of Varisia though as news of Stone Giant raids reach the ears of Sir Marcus. Duty called and after naming Hexagalamere (now an NPC) as castellan, the party made it way back safely to Sandpoint. After having Sir Marcus reacquaint himself with the locals and giving the sad news of his former companions' demise, including the happy news, to the local community, of the death of Elswyn the Mad, unfairly believed to have been the Scourge of Sandpoint; the party decided to get prepared for some excursion in the wilds and check on "thar Giants in yonder hills". As it happened, action has come to them. Sandpoint came under attack again! This time not by a horde of puny Goblins but one of Stone Giants and their ally Longtooth, a Juvenile Red Dragon. Guideon killed Longtooth, maybe with a little help from the other party members. The Stone Giants' raid has been partially defeated, some Giants have escaped with prisoners. The party even managed to capture Teraknikus, the leader of this band of young Stone Giants. He had been assigned the task to obtain a stone from the Old Lighthouse by his boss Mokmurian. The party has had a very safe trip to Fort Rannick. From there they have set-off to Jorgenfist, saying hello to some Black Arrow Rangers posted at the caves that hosted the Hook Mountain Ogre clans in the not so distant past. After spotting a Stone Giant patrol in the mountains, the party ambushed the interlopers very easily. A Night Wyvern nest got cleared leading to the near death of two party members, some nice and juicy treasure was found there, with the very first staff to be found in this adventure.The Deathwebs were meant to be a serious threat, but these undead spidery monstrosities received some of the usual - and now predictable - daily Maximised fireball treatment. Telas spotted a secret passage at the back of the Deathwebs' lair. This led to a maze of tunnels who somehow felt related to the First World. These tunnels were, and still are, populated by Redcaps. After a relatively long but severe - for the Redcaps - encounter, the party earned the right of unhindered passage through said tunnels. At the other end, the back entry into the Jorgenfist complex, the party met with a female Kobold. Sharax learnt the hard way that Kobold can collect thirteen levels of Barbarian given time. The Kobold Barbarian, Enga Keckvia, got killed, but the cost was dear. The first foray into Jorgenfist resulted in a rout, leaving Nagri the Sorcerer behind. Making use of his invisibility and fly spells, Nagri escaped Jorgenfist and rejoined the party. It was then decided to heal and regroup then proceed to the Black Gate after Nagri rightfully described the ancient structure as worth exploring. Another serious punishment awaited the party there with the demise of Gideon. The Black Monk was defeated though and provided very ancient and valuable scrolls as well as some personal treasure in the form of equipment. Sharax activated a one-off gate spell to go back to Fort Rannick. Once back at the fort, the party found it occupied by the reinforcements from Magnimar, three new PCs replaced the dead and the diseased. Another foray into Jorgenfist, via teleportation, was initiated, an ally has been identified, a safe place has been found to rest. The party has now killed Galenmir, the general in charge of security for the complex, as well as Lokansir, a nasty Jotunblood Giant who was a self-appointed representative of the old Thassilon, and part time gaoler and torturer of Sandpoint prisoners. The party decided to be methodical and clear the dungeon in an orderly manner. A pretty good fight ensued with two Young Red Dragons joined later by two Lamias with decent clerical powers. The party thought about recruiting one of the prisoners with Arcane powers to help them with their quest of getting to Mokmurian and saving their region of Varisia, enters Baster the Sorcerer. A pretty decent fight with three Trolls and a not-so-threatening encounter with two Runeslave Giants later lead the party to the first couple of rooms of the Jorgenfist library complex. The Scanderig has come and gone, and a couple of Stone Golem guardians have now been dealt with. Mokmurian is definitely watching the progress of the party. With the Headless Lord and his legion now dead, the party collected a couple of runechill hatchets and visited the Thassilonian Library, a nice repository of arcane scrolls and history. A cunning request gave them access to the full map of the complex, before it half-collapse in places, thus offered them a direct access to Mokmurian's chamber. Mokmurian was a tough Transmuter, when he died Karzoug himself spoke through him, announcing himself to the party. Once back in Sandpoint, the PCs are told that a recent mild earthquake has opened a gaping hole on Tower Street, in fact the hole leads to the old Catacomb of Wrath. The tremor has opened a staircase that goes even deeper to an underground complex devoted to Lamashtu. With the Scribbler brought down, the party went through his guards and wards and associated trap like spells with some trouble, but in the end collected a nice minor artifact. A teleport spell on target allowed the party to reach Rimeskull, find a strange Stonehenge-cum-Easter-Island circle of stone statues and have a nice chat with a Cloud Giant. After starting the sequence to collect the keys to Runeforge, Arkrhyst, whom they knew about beforehand (knowledge local in Sandpoint and from what the Cloud Giant told them), decided to show-up and freeze the party. Some party members decided to turn themselves into passable architects. After defeating the Dragon, walking up the stairs to the Dragon's lair proved more complicated than first envisaged due to the presence of Earth Elementals of non-negligible size. Arkrhyst's lair was looted, the party members re-equipped themselves in Magnimar. After entering Runeforge, the intrepid adventurers quickly visited the Abjurant Halls of Envy. The Ravenous Crypts of Gluttony are alive with a lot of not-so-alive people. Kazaven the owner of the place had a nice chat enquiring about what was happening in the outside world, he got bored in the end and decided to collect the PCs corpses once he had killed them. Kazaven was and is no more, a mixture of luck and good thinking on the part of the PCs has removed the "un" in his "undead" status. The party has met with Ordikan a very old mind in a near-construct body. Ordikan wanted to do some flesh-to-metal experiments on the PCs, which they took badly, resulting perforce with the untimely death of Ordikan himself.
The following dungeon, the Iron Cages of Lust is proving far more welcoming redface than the previous ones. After some tense but in the end very friendly moments, Mistress Delvahine invited the PCs to stay in her little domain. She piked the party's interest by mentioning the actions of Vraxeris the man in charge of the Shimmering Veils of Pride. On their way to that place the adventurers faced exact copies of themselves thanks to carefully placed Mirrors of Opposition. After a long fight, they stumbled upon five identical copies of what appears to be Vraxeris. After finding a very dead Vraxeris and his stash of former clones, the party went back to Mistress Delvahine in search of "components" for enhancing there weapons. Marcus for all accounts has appeared to "take one for the team" and spent forty eight hours with the high-level Succubus bard. With the acquired components, the party went back to the central runewell to enhance their weapons. While doing so, Karzough manifested himself by animating a statue in his likeness as a tougher than usual Stone Golem. After a quick fight and the conclusion of the weapon enhancing ritual, the party decided to look into the Halls of Wrath before leaving Runeforge. A lot of very determined low-level foes have been encountered after the first encounter with a substantial threat from an Iron Golem archer. All these appetisers concluded with a preparation for "the" fight against High Lady Athroxis and her gated Shemhazian demon. The Shemhazian was not the threat it was meant to be in the end, High Lady Athroxis lasted a bit longer than expected, but overall the party has achieved victory and is about ready to leave Runeforge.
An in game down time of a month or so was taken at Fort Rannick before the party set off for Sandpoint again to talk to a Thassilonian expert: Brodert Quink; as for all their efforts and discoveries, all geographical references to Xin-Shalast had been expunged from the various libraries and knowledge repositories the PCs had recently looted visited. Hints they found in the story of two Dwarven brothers who set-up an expedition in the Khodar Mountains decades ago. They found gold, but some say they also found Xin-Shalast. Of course, nobody has heard of them in ages. The trip by airship was uneventful until the time came to park said airship at the edge of the mountains. Two frost worms reacted badly at the activity coming from the sky. After spending a quiet night at this secure location, the party managed to beat an incoming snowstorm and land the airship very close to the Vekker brothers' cabin. An awful Undead Treant and a Cryohydra are now deceased. The Vekkers' cabin was seriously haunted, a quick chat with a Ghost in need of a boon has allowed the place to feel less threatening. Of course, helping ghostly Sila Vekker has made a Wendigo pretty annoyed at the party for wasting his work of art, in his view, of cannibalistic haunts and ghosts. The Wendigo's head has now been taken as a trophy. The Dwarven ghost rewarded the party with the missing pages of a ledger, indicating the road to Xin-Shalast, warning them of the danger of succumbing to greed, which, contrary to what some may think is "not that good". The trip to Xin-Shalast involved reaching it via the alternate dimension of The Plateau of Leng. Daggar the Paladin gathered the necessary mental fortitude to find the way to Leng. The road to Xin-Shalast, via Leng, led the party to meet with Svevenka, the Icy Nymph guardian of the Icemist Fens who offered her help in return for the good deeds Marcus' party performed for the ghost of her cousin Myriana of Whitewillow (see above, as in a long time ago in the campaign). Following the River Avah, both in Golarion and Leng at the same time, the party reached what was literally "the road to Xin-Shalast", a hundred foot wide affair still showing signs of having been gilded with gold leaves. That road had a patrol of enslaved Fog Giants. A fight mostly resolved via the use of archery skills from the party has lead them to own a cattle business just at the entrance of Xin-Shalast. A supply run to a local tribe of Yetis has turned to a serious setback for these Yetis. A desperate Skulk has reached to the party with the story of a Hidden Beast somewhere in the pyroclastic rubble of what used to be the Slaves Quarter of Xin-Shalast. The Hidden Beast got revealed and destroyed, it turned out to be a sorry excuse for an Advanced Decapus Sorcerer with a Vampire template. On their way back to their newly acquired business operation, they met with Most High Ceoptra and her Hungerer Lamiakin pet. Most High Ceoptra quickly fled once the Hungerer barely got hit by a destruction spell. More discussions with their Skulk friend Morgiv led to the party infiltrating the Heptaric Locus to take care of the Ice Devil Gamigin and his retinue of Scarlet Walkers. On their way to obtain the last Sihedron Ring, the party was attacked by the owner of the lair they were planning to loot. While the first encounter with Ghlorofaex left a Very Old Blue Dragon badly shaken, the second one at his lair has proven appreciably more challenging. With one more Sihedron Ring in their possession, making it one per person, the heroes are now climbing higher and higher towards the top of the Mhar Massif. This is a part of Xin-Shalast where the plane known as The Plateau of Leng is encroaching on Golarion. After fighting some inquisitive Spiders of Leng, the party caught some information about Karzoug's dealing with other residents of Leng. The Pinnacle of Avarice being impressive was easy to find. It was also surprisingly easy to get it, but less so to deal with its guardians. The encounter at the entrance allowed them to meet with a manifestation of Karzoug and with their first Rune Giant. Deciding to recuperate in one of the nearby empty buildings, the adventurers suffered defeat and the capture of Dagar their Paladin. A rescue mission was set-up and an Astradaemon got himself badly bruised. After a night of rest, this time uninterrupted, another rescue mission for Dagar's belongings was also successful, killing a Hungerer, some Lamias and the Astradaemon. The following encounter saw the demise of Viorian Dekanti, the Champion of Greed. The Pinnacle of Avarice saw itself slowly depleted of its staff and the party began doing some more in-depth exploring; meeting with a Planetar, dear Ayruzi who was compelled to fight them and entering a strange room, neither really here nor there nor now... full of Denizens of Leng and their strange device.
After destroying what would have become a portal through time to bring in Karzoug's armies from the past, the adventurers had to face a Hound of Tindalos. Back to visiting the remainder of the Pinnacle of Avarice, the party bumped into Khalib, apprentice of Karzoug, poor Khalib saw his strength drained by Marcus' shadow and his throat slit. Getting closer to Karzoug's final redoubt they despatched a Marilith guarding what should have been Karzoug's tomb had he died long time ago instead of going into stasis in the Eye of Avarice.
The fight next door was with Most High Ceoptra... and became the end of the party, thus the end of the campaign.

This adventure path took eighty nine sessions to complete, well... one fight short of the last one anyway

We played from Wednesday, November 4th 2009 to Thursday, March 14th 2013 more or less every fortnight on average over more than three years.

Setting:
The world of Golarion ("Pathfinder Chronicles") from Paizo Publishing.
You may pick-up the PDF of the player's guide for free. You need to open an account (free) with Paizo, add it to your basket. It will then appear in the "Your Download" section. This resource provides information about Sandpoint and feats for the campaign.
Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition Player's Guide

Additional info:
Look at our thread on the forum boards:
Rise of the Runelords, D&D/Pathfinder RPG, "Vague Connections", Nottingham


Contributors to this page: Laurent .
Page last modified on Thursday 14 of March, 2013 23:28:06 GMT by Laurent.

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