Session report: Sword of Valor, part 1

Welcome back to the series of Session reports regarding the Wrath of the Righteous Pathfinder campaign, where I do reports of my D&D games with the LJF crew…more or less in character ^^ Let’s continue with the second scenario: Sword of Valor.

Dramatis personæ

Same as Worldwound Incursion’s, with the following differences:

  • Adariel is definitely out.
  • Nessa passes main magical damage dealer.
  • Azrael passes off-magical damage dealer, decides to play up his fae heritage like you wouldn’t believe and adds Knowledge user to his duties.
  • Annika adds off-physical damage dealer to her duties.

Report

N.B.: Part of this report was unfortunately done a fair amount of time after the fact and without the benefit of the logs, so errors are expected.

So, once we thwarted Areelu’s plan for Kenabres’s wardstone, we were asked by Quednys to go to the Defender’s Heart’s backroom…where we met queen Galifrey herself who wanted our report on Kenabres’s keep’s events. Nessa began to explain, but she quickly was overwhelmed by Mendev’s queen taking a personal interest on our trip which, given that the others weren’t exactly volunteering, led me to finish the explanation. After we explained what happened — as an aside, she was as surprised as us by Areelu bailing out after her first attempt at doing us in failed lamentably: I would have expected her to try to disintegrate us next — we got drafted into retrieving the Sword of Valor from lost Drezen given that the Worldwound’s forces overextended after their assault on Kenabres. As I see it, there are two big problems with that mission: first, we only have a one-hundred men strong squad of paladins accompanying us, which is too large a force to infiltrate Drezen but too small and too poorly equipped — no siege engines or siege engineers on hand — if a force of any size hangs around town. Second being that we’re going on this mission because Aponavicus is currently away. Were she to come back, we would be deader than dead. On her way out, taking the rest of her troops because of an attack on Nerosyan, Galifrey declared us the heroes of the Fifth Crusade…weren’t we only at the Fourth?!?

After a small general panic attack at that declaration, we set off to recruit our old colleagues to supplement the three advisors Galifrey left with us: Aron Kir, a siege expert and scout; Sosiel Vaenic, a demon-hunting cleric; and Nurah Dendiwhar, a bard specialist of the Drezen area and its history. I was tasked with recruiting Aravashnial, which went swimmingly once we secured from Quednys that he protects the Librarium of the Broken Black Wing in Aravashnial’s stead. On our way back, we were discussing of what could we expect on our way to Drezen before entering the Defender’s Heart…and meeting Horgus!?! Weren’t Annika and Kennet supposed to just ask him for tips on how to buy supplies in bulk? While we were still wondering how they convinced lord Gwerm, who was intent on staying home last we saw each other, to join us Nessa joined us. She didn’t get reinforcements from her family — who decided to follow queen Galifrey’s army to Nerosyan — but managed to recruit Irabeth to command that army, which prompted Anevia to accompany us. Then, before leaving, Nessa and me decided to check up on Sarah: apparently, she’s still secluded in the tavern’s back-room. We learnt that she met her family, that she’s staying with Quednys because she’s fearing she’ll go on a rampage because of Areelu’s meddling (“You shouldn’t, we got hit as well and we’re not trying to kill people…”); wondering if she won’t have to see her family get old and die while not changing given she’s stronger, tougher, have better senses and so on (“I’m a son of the Fair Folk and no one complains…ok, we’re adventurers. If you need to commiserate about longevity, send me a word.”); asking if we had anything to hide her fiendish appearance (“I’m no good at illusions. You Nessa?”“Neither…We’ll try to find something during our trip, ok?”); and opting to stay in Drezen when we proposed her to accompany us to get some fresh air because her appearance could be detrimental to morale.

And off we went in the Worldwound…well, technically, Mendev’s border regions: we wouldn’t be entering the Worldwound proper until we crossed the Sellen at Vilareth Ford. But first port of call: Valas’s Gift, breadbasket of Kenabres! Which would work better if the ground wasn’t terribly dry… Once arrived at Valas’s Gift, we got a better handle of the situation: the wardstone network shutdown caused the Worldwound to encroach on Kenabres — hence the ground’s dryness —, Drezen’s troops took advantage of the assault on Kenabres and the other frontier towns to attack Valas’s Gift and abduct part of its population, and they left a tiefling garrison to occupy the place…Joy. Once the garrison dispatched without casualties, we decided to stop there for the night, made a funeral pyre for the victims of the attack and I was decreed the expedition’s ray of sunshine and happiness by Nurah. Yes, I swear!

The next day, we arrived at Vilareth Ford which we found held by an army of tieflings overseen by a few wrocks and a brimorak. The plan was to split, that Aravashnial attracts the tieflings attention with a pair of giant spiders while we go deal with the tanar’ris, and the paladin squad deal with the tieflings hopefully without demonic interference. We managed to keep the tanar’ris busy while the paladins dealt with the tieflings without too many problems but unfortunately the brimorak managed to teleport away to the next strongpoint’s commander, so we definitely lost the element of surprise. The nice news — beyond getting the high and mighty paladins to grumble due to having to scavenge for gear — is that in the half-destroyed guard post, we found part of the garrison! We sent them back to Kenabres with a request for reinforcements to hold the ford and continued on. Next port of call: Keeper’s Canyon! Former Mendevian settlement, back when Drezen was crusader-held. But first, the night: I got from Aravashnial that he never was affected to Drezen’s Riftwarden branch, contrary to my parents, so we’ll have to shift through the archives for clues on their fate; we got from Horgus that he’s still as cantankerous as ever; and Nessa got from Sosiel that Areelu transformed herself into a full-fledged tanar’ri, which spawned another round of speculations on her designs for the Prime. We agreed that she probably wanted to propagate her transformation more widely though.

The next day, we crossed into the Worldwound proper and decided to tackle whatever would wait for us at Keeper’s Canyon: given the eponymous canyon, it seemed logical that something would be waiting for us. On our way though, we got a first taste of the Worldwound’s…peculiarities: a rain of frozen locusts. Because Deskari and his henchmen were worried we would forget they hold the place and are cartoonishly evil. After sending Annika to scout as an invisible bird — Wild Arcana’s so nice… — we learnt that a bigger tiefling army and a troop of dretches were waiting for us, all these people led by an incubus. We quickly decided on a twist on last time’s strategy: Aravashnial would fireball the tieflings to convince them to come, the paladin squad would engage the mortal contingent while we bypass them to hit — and hopefully hold — the tanar’ris. A good point is that we managed to deal with them without too much hassle — in big part thanks to Dessia stunning the incubus out of the gate — but unfortunately this time the paladin squad took casualties handling the tiefling contingent. During the evening, I noticed Nessa looking forlorn, went to see her, learnt that it was due to the casualties — she brought her hopes up with the first two fights and they went down crashing — and managed to console her by pointing out that they were enlisted soldiers and that we could possibly influence which form would Areelu’s meddling take.

On our way through the twisting Keeper’s Canyon, we saw a dilapidated chapel up on the cliffs. After consulting our advisors (for the record, Nurah was in favour of bypassing the place and Sosiel and Aron were in favour of checking it out. With Aron throwing in the likely hiding place of some emergency healing supplies to sweeten the deal) we decided to go alone see what’s up in that chapel…and our welcoming committee was some thoroughly gnawed human skeletons. Along with some gargoyles: time to warm up! Once the gargoyles beaten, we had free run of the courtyard and decided to make a beeline for the stables. Once there, we found a bow for Kennet and a spear Annika claimed…and I ended up having to talk my way out of possible harm because of my reaction to cold iron. I managed to have them believe it was due to Areelu’s tinkering with the wardstone… Once in the chapel proper, we got attacked by a group of extremely annoying ghouls who got their kicks setting tigers on us…and, for reasons that reason ignore, found it a good idea to protect themselves against lawful beings. None of us are, so we got a good chuckle out of that decision. After dispatching them, we went to the inner sanctum just to get ambushed by a nabassu and some other ghouls. Once put down — this time starting with the spellcasters — we saw another nabassu come back after the battle and promptly wing it. Once the chapel was cleared, we found that the choir was under the effects of a permanent zone of silence, probably a wish; found and delivered the chapel’s healing supplies to our army; and got them to go up and help us clean out and reconsecrate the place.

After resting at the chapel, we got out of the canyon in the early afternoon to the sight of Drezen…and a vast greenish cloud of bugs between us and the town. After examining them, we found out that they were demonic bugs who should disperse once their queen, living underground, is driven off. Time for some spelunking! We grabbed Sosiel to help us out with a silence spell, Aron tagged along for the ride and off we went hunting the queen. After a fight far more annoying — thrice-damned confusion… — than really dangerous, the queen was slain, the bugs dispersed and we had free run of the tunnel complex. Upon a cursory exploration, we found a portal to the Abyss that we closed by collapsing the cave on it…using invoked racoons to burrow in the pillars. Go my lovelies! Once we dealt with the bugs, we decided to camp in sight of the town’s remparts and to try scouting it the next day.

Next time, part 2 of the Sword of Valor session reports: Drezen!

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Game report: Worldwound Incursion

Welcome to the second Game/Session report series: the Wrath of the Righteous Pathfinder campaign, played under D&D 3.5 rules! Let’s start with Worldwound Incursion, the first scenario.
One funny thing is that while the road trip-style campaign starting with Sunless Citadel features a perpetually strapped for money group, this heroic (mis)adventure’s group is far richer ^^

Dramatis personæ

  • Azrael Galanodel: Aloof elven, part-fae on the side, wizard/sorcerer (aka. “Yo, I heard you like magic so I put magic in your magic!”), the group’s arcane spellcaster and magical damage dealer. Linguist — Yes, again. And this one’s worse ^^ —, source of weird knowledge and resident “ah, looks like I can do that…” guy (my character).
  • Nessa Arensen: Human military brat, archivist (i.e. mage-style cleric) worshipping Sarenrae, the group’s primary divine spellcaster, healer and off-magical damage dealer. She gets along rather well with everyone and serves as the group’s conscience (Jackie’s).
  • Theoban: Human crusader, the group’s tank and off-physical damage dealer. Secondary conscience of the group (NPC party member).
  • Adariel: Drinking human ranger, the group’s scout and physical damage dealer. Tend not to get along well with…irritating non-combatants. Left the group on getting out of the underground (Emily’s).
  • Annika Taveshti: Barbarian druidess, the group’s secondary healer, off-divine caster, off-healer and off-magical damage dealer. She tends to shy from the social side of things, has a bit of a cruel streak and is always accompanied by her dog, Sokto (Nick’s).
  • Kennet Midashi: Human military scout, the group’s scout and physical damage dealer. An involuntary social specialist joining around the end of their underground trip (Beth’s).

Report

N.B. : This report was unfortunately done a fair amount of time after the fact and without the benefit of the logs, so errors are expected.

So, I stopped in Kenabres for the annual fair, taking a break in my search of information on the Riftwardens/my parents/my heritage/strike what doesn’t apply when I suddenly saw Korramzadeh, the Storm King, drop on the city and get into a firefight with Terendelev, the silver dragon protector of said city. To be honest, I didn’t get time to do much more than panic, scream and try running away before getting dumped in the underground through the nearest hole…

Once I landed underground, I met up with Horgus Gwerm — a dour noble —, Anevia — the companion of the city’s guard commander —, Aravashnial — a blinded conjurer belonging to the Riftwardens — and what will make up the party. After dealing with a mad crusader lost in the tunnels and finding a set of magic silver scales — presumably belonging to Terendelev —, we rested at an abandoned, desecrated and re-consecrated temple of Abadar before encountering a group of molemen, lost descendants of the crusaders.

Said molemen were in a spot of bother — one of them was trapped under fallen rocks — so we helped them out and they paid us back by a warning about some toxic fungus very common in this section of the underground…A very timely warning given that we found a corpse infested by them a few caverns further. The next molemen we found though tried to kill us so when we found a third group, we asked what was up. We ended up getting invited to their village…

Once at the village, the chief asked to meet us and we learnt that, in the time since their confinement underground, the molemen split. While some — such as those we saved — kept to their vows and are searching for a path to the surface to kill some denizens of the Worldwound, others — such as those who tried to off us — became demon worshippers. Recently-ish the tribe inviting us found a path to the surface leading to Kenabres’s outskirts but, owing to the recent alliance between their fallen brethren and a group of Baphomet’s cultists, they don’t have the manpower to spare to actually use it. So the chief offered that, in exchange of us clearing out either the cultists or the corrupted molemen, he’ll send a squad of rangers to lead us to the surface and as reinforcements for the city.

Nessa, Annika and I took advantage of the chief inviting us to stay the night — and of the subsequent party — to get some information on the feud between Aravashnial, Adariel, Anevia and Horgus. Annika had the easiest job because she got Anevia and Adariel a few drinks and they told her without fuss that Anevia is inimical towards Horgus because he got by dubious means her companion’s sword — apparently it was pawned during a rough spot and the pawnbroker sold it before the agreed upon time — and refused to hand it back. As for Adariel, she just dislikes haughty people like Horgus. I had a none too difficult job because, even though we weren’t drinking, we’re both conjurers so it wasn’t difficult for me to build an amicable report with Aravashnial. The reason of Horgus enmity towards him is that Aravashnial is often seeking demonic influences in town and Horgus ran afoul of one of his witch hunts. And Nessa had the worse job: getting lord Gwerm’s story…that was interesting. Apparently, he indeed got the sword through a pawnbroker but even if he wanted he couldn’t give it back: by the time Anevia got to him, he had already sold it to one of his friends, lord Nyserian. The reason of his enmity towards Anevia is that upon his refusal, rather than talk to him about why like civilised people she broke into one of his warehouses…and disturbed his charitable operations. Yes, because he gives to charity. A lot. Enough that he needs bloody warehouses to sort everything out. …Hell, he gives more than Queen Galfrey! As for Adariel, his enmity is out of principle.

The next day we decided that Baphomet’s cultists, being closer, less numerous and less used to the place would probably be softer targets so it was time to boot them out. After the rangers led us to the cultists’ camp and we neutralised the lookouts — a pair of molemen —, it was time to use the advantage of surprise to get them all at once. So we broke into their improvised shrine while they were preparing for their morning prayers: a champion, two priestesses and five henchmen. Time for a firefight.

Well, I didn’t know we could hit that often the furnishings… We got rid rather easily of the henchmen and one of the priestesses, but the other and the group’s champion took far longer. We got the second priestess on a misunderstanding but the champion took long enough that I was down to throwing Acid Splashes around… Thing is, our enemies weren’t much more successful: the champion was redoing the door frame around Theoban while the surviving priestess was charring the walls black. We ransacked the place, found a letter presumably revealing the location of a few safe houses for the cultists — incidentally, Horgus was shocked to learn that Nyserian Manor was one of them — and a straggler on leaving the place: time to get some information! …I learnt two very important things then. First, Annika tend to be as…messy with her kills as any summoner. Second, the others — above all Theoban — seem not to appreciate how terribly messy a summoner’s solutions generally are.

After getting some clues on our next destination — the probably changed by now password and the name of the leader of Kenabres’s cultists up to Korradamzeh’s offensive — we left for the molemen’s village to inform them of our success, we got another party and the next day, left for the surface with our guides/reinforcements.

Once at the surface, it wasn’t pretty: roaming demons — we beat up a group of imps who were harassing a few survivors —, the Ring District — aka the castle’s area — locked tight, damaged buildings everywhere and Areelu Vorlesh’s voice asking for surrender regularly like a bad PSA. First things first, see if there isn’t a resistance to Vorlesh’s occupation somewhere: they probably have more information than us on what’s happening here, what with us getting trapped in the catacombs… We found then holed in the Defender’s Heart tavern and led by Irabeth Tirabade, commander of the guard. Ah, Aravashnial is shying away from her, something to look into… After talking with Irabeth, Horgus and Aravashnial, finding out that Irabeth was commanding the resistance because the city’s lord — Lord Hulrun — disappeared during its fall and consulting a city map in the tavern, we decided to leave the rangers at the tavern, escort Horgus to Gwerm Manor, visit the safe houses and then bring Aravashnial to the Librarium of the Broken Black Wing, aka Kenabres’s Riftwardens’ base.

Just before leaving though, Adariel offered to stay with Irabeth and spy on the castle’s area for the resistance. We wished her good luck and she went on her way…first stop: Gwerm Manor! Once there, we found an empty but somewhat intact place: apparently Horgus has a country house towards Nerosyan and he suspects his staff to have headed there following Kenabres’s fall. After dispatching a bandit set on pillaging his house, we left lord Gwerm to his residence and headed towards Topaz Solutions…which we found ruined. Next, we headed towards Nyserian Manor, where we found a demon disguised as lord Nyserian but not much else of interest: apparently the cultists ransacked the place on investing it. Then, there was the last safe house: the Tower of Estrod, apparently the main base of the cultists. We found a big group of cultists there, Minagho — leader of Kenabres’s cultists — and a mage who charmed Annika to try to get us to leave when she investigated the basement…and ended up on the wrong end of Sokto’s fangs. Lastly, we accompanied Aravashnial at the Librarium of the Broken Wing, which we found prey to bandits having thrown their lot with Areelu’s crew and currently harassing the librarians. We beat them, they protested that they did that only to survive which pissed off Nessa and Theoban — they could have bailed — which sealed their fates. We then learnt that Kenabres’s Riftwardens got killed while we were down there and the wardstone taken to the Ring District by Areelu’s forces. Aravashnial found a cure for his blindness there and decided to stay there to watch over the librarians while we went back to report.

Once we reported on what we found in the safe houses — information revealing that Vhane Staunton, traitor to the Fourth Crusade, was apparently based in Drezen; that Irabeth’s sword was being prepared in the cultists’ new headquarters in the Ring District for his use; and that Areelu Vorlesh was currently away in the Abyss regarding a plan involving the wardstone — Irabeth convoked us for a risky mission: help her infiltrate the Ring District and destroy the wardstone. We took a few objects like healing potions or an invisibility one — and for me a cloak of resistance and a cold iron dagger — and first we tried to see if we couldn’t enter by the front door: Areelu’s sorry excuse for a PSA was still being aired like a broken record, so there must have been a still open entrance to the Ring District. There was one and the good news was that we found where did lord Hulrun went. The bad news was that he was brainwashed and transformed in an ever-vigilant sentry, presumably by Areelu Vorlesh. Oh well, time to find another way in… We finally found an house whose roof was very close to the Ring District’s surrounding wall and we used it to get inside with the rangers’s help. We found out there that the Ring District was transformed in, more or less, an holding camp for those who accepted Areelu’s offer, that people there tend to disappear for a mere trifle, that the demon troops installed their headquarters in the castle and that apparently a girl was recently taken there. So we went to the castle, avoiding the patrols as much as we could.

After quickly beating the guards, we entered and met Othirubo — the cultists’ magician — with a squad of demons. We beat them, retrieved Irabeth’s sword that he luckily didn’t have the time to modify yet and made our way upstairs. There, we found another squad of demons that we dispatched and a door with an odd warning, considering that it was Areelu Vorlesh who posted it. Behind it: Sara, the girl who disappeared…with a surprising appearance. Apparently, she was mauled by one of the garrison’s demon, Areelu learnt of that, killed the demon, healed the girl, decided afterwards to transform her in a half-fiend and left her in this room to recover. It looks like her transformation doesn’t have any mental after-effects but given that we don’t have the time to ascertain that in detail, after she threw a (rather brutal) tantrum upon seeing her new appearance, we opened the door, gave her a cloak and told her that we had something to do upstairs but that we would be happy to lead her to the Defender’s Heart after we finished. In the mean time, if she wants, she can go there. On this note, we made our way upstairs once again.

Once upstairs, we found Jeslyn — second in command of Kenabres’s cultists — guarding the wardstone…who noticed our entrance…and who’s talking with Areelu Vorlesh! Given that it wasn’t at all time for subtlety, we let Kennet take an invisibility potion and do a beeline for the wardstone while we were being a distraction. After an irritating fight, due in big part to Jeslyn healing herself all the damn time and to the wardstone’s passive defences, the good news was that we managed to take down the wardstone. The bad news was that we took just enough time for Areelu to come. The worst news was that, just before trying to kill us and gloat about her master plan, she informed us that depriving her of Kenabres’s wardstone took down the whole network.

Luckily, she failed at killing us and had pressing matters to attend to, so she left on an ominous warning that we got new powers but that she would collect next time we met…

All in all, it wasn’t that bad an adventure, if a bit stressful: we earned a fair bit of money, quite a few magic items and got a status of demon-thwarting experts…which will be source of more annoyances than anything, I can just feel it…