Saturday, November 17, 2012

Welcome to Sandpoint - The Adventure Begins (11/16/2012)

Two weeks ago our new Friday night group met for the first time and had an introduction to Pathfinder and practice game night. This week we commenced the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. The players had prepared their characters using the free demo Herolab software, prepped for the adventure by reviewing the Rise of the Runelords Players Guide, and the DM had prepared several maps and put together a collection of character pawns and miniatures and was ready to introduce the world of Golarion to the new adventurers, so off we went.

Procedurally the Rise of the Runelords adventure path is broken into six chapters, and each chapter is broken into six sections. Chapter 1 is named Burnt Offerings. The adventure is set-up such that after 2-3 sections of each chapter are completed the characters should have earned enough XP to advance to the next level. We may not strictly stick to that as an advancement schedule, but the ensuing encounters will become tougher so we don't want the characters getting too far ahead or too far behind that schedule.

Spoiler alert: This is going to be one long ongoing spoiler as we work our way through the adventure. If you don’t want to know then don’t read on.

Because this was a new gaming world for all of us the DM wanted to start with a bit of introduction. The players would essentially be using Sandpoint as their home base for the time to come and the DM wanted them to have a little better understanding of the world in which they were preparing to enter.

Welcome to Sandpoint

There were always pockets of civilization along the Lost Coast in the land of Varisia. Traditional Varisian camp sites could be found in nearly every gulch and hollow along the cliff-lined reaches, and lonely houses sat upon bluffs now and then - domiciles for eccentrics or the rich who sought a bit of peace far from the bustle of Varisia’s capital city of Magnimar's streets. Roadside inns graced the Lost Coast road every 24 miles or so, placed by virtue of the distance most travelers could walk given a day's travel. Low stone shrines to Desna, goddess of wanderers and patron of the Varisians, gave further opportunities for shelter should one of the all-too-common rainstorms catch travelers unaware. Given time, any of these seeds of civilization could have bloomed into a full-grown town, or even a city. It's happened once already, along the shores of a natural harbor nestled among the cliffs some 50 miles to the northeast - Magnimar. What was once a larger-than-normal Varisian camp site in the shadow of an ancient ruined tower had become the Lost Coast's largest town: Sandpoint, the Light of the Lost Coast.

As one approached the town of Sandpoint, the footprint of civilization upon the Lost Coast became more clear. Farmlands in the outlying moors and river valleys grew more numerous, and the blue-green waters of the Varisian Gulf born more and more fishing vessels upon the waves. Passage over creeks and rivers was more often accomplished by wooden bridge than ford, and the Lost Coast Road itself had grown wider and better kept. Sight of Sandpoint from either approach (south or east) was kept hidden by the large up thrust limestone pavements known as the Devil's Platter and the arc of the rocky outcroppings and lightly forested hilltops that rise up just east of town, but as the final bend in the road was rounded, Sandpoint's smoking chimneys and bustling streets would greet the traveler with open arms and the promise of warm beds, a welcome sight indeed for those who had spent the last few days alone on the Lost Coast Road.
Hinterlands of Sandpoint
From the south, entrance to Sandpoint was governed by a wooden bridge, while from the north a low stone wall gave the town a bit of protection. Here, the Lost Coast Road passed through a stone gatehouse that was generally watched by one or two guards; the southern bridge was typically unattended. Aside from the occasional goblin raid, the citizens of Sandpoint have traditionally had little cause to worry about invasion or banditry - the region simply wasn't populated enough to make theft a lucrative business. Hanging from a bent nail at both the gatehouse and the southern bridge was a sign and a mirror-painted on each sign was the message: "Welcome to Sandpoint! Please stop to see yourself as we see you!"
Sandpoint was the town where over time many adventurers such as our party have chosen to seek their fortune. Sandpoint has accrued a reputation where someone who wanted to earn a living as an adventurer could come and meet their destiny, be it fair or foul. Each adventurer has their own dreams, their own goals, their own desires, and their own secrets. What will destiny hold for this newest set of adventurers?

Before this new set of adventurers set out on their journey each character had acquired what they thought was necessary and saved their meager copper pieces. Characters may have been very scrupulous about their spending habits, but life in Sandpoint was not for free. One must pay their own way, and even those who watch every copper piece can start to run short after time. Unfortunately there are no doorways with signs attached that say “Adventurers needed. Apply within." Perhaps some have taken some sort of work to help get by – after all, the stables here need cleaning here just like they do anywhere else.

But mostly the young adventurers wait. They keep their eyes and ears open for any opportunities that might arise, but for all the stories they have heard about Sandpoint it appeared this had become the most boring place in the world. As the adventurers waited they had built up some new friendships with some like-minded adventurer-types. It would not be accurate to label this new group as an adventuring party, or even a team, but over a few long nights at some of the local drinking establishments you can at least say you have built yourself some new acquaintances with a like set of dreams.

DM Note: Not only were the players new to the world of Pathfinder and to the town of Sandpoint and to each other. The DM stressed that at this point in the story the characters might have been acquaintances, but they could hardly be a considered an adventuring party much less a team. Each player was given the following list of questions to answer about their character:

Who are you? (General physical description)

What are you wearing? (Assuming armored)
What weapons are you wielding? (Assuming armed)
What is a noticeable feature or quirk that identifies you?
Why are you in Sandpoint?
How long have you been in Sandpoint?
What have you been doing with your time since you arrived in Sandpoint?
What story about yourself have you told your friends?
What is the name of your favorite ale?
If you don’t get work/money soon what is your next move?

Our cast of characters is as follows:

Reynard (Leo), a human mage. His blue robes gave him an exotic look. Reynard is doing study of local customs per direction from his master, but the opportunity to get out and do a little adventuring would be most pleasing. Favorite ale: Black Dog.

Kheo Leo (Corky), an elven rogue. Raised by humans, Kheo followed a girl to Sandpoint, but stayed in town after her untimely death. He scratches out a living, but times are tough and the thought that he may have to return to a life of thievery has crossed his mind. Favorite ale: Goblin's Bane.

Stike Stavros (Scott), a human fighter. Straight backed and firm of focus, he leaves no doubt that the great sword strapped across his back can be used to deadly purposes. Facorite ale: Dragon's Bane.

Selinor (Brian), a human cleric. The swarthy visitor from Cheliax has come to Sandpoint to learn of the new temple that has been under construction. Favorite ale: Golarian Pale.

Each character earned 100 XP for providing details (at least public details) about themselves.

Before we moved on a word about Goblins was provided. As individuals the characters may have or have not every actually seen a goblin, but there were several things all Varisians knew about Varisian Goblins:

1) Goblins hate horses. The feeling is mutual.

2) Goblins hate dogs. The feeling is mutual.
3) Goblins love junk. They are adept at crafting weapons and armor. It’s still junk, but deadly junk.
4) Goblins love to sing. They do it poorly. That doesn’t stop them.
5) Goblins are sneaky. They are also cowardly and cruel. And deadly.
6) Goblins are crazy. You can spend a lifetime observing goblins and just when you think you’ve got them figured out they surprise you. Gandalf said the same thing about Hobbits.
7) Goblins are voracious. They will eat almost anything. This means you.
8) Goblins like fire. Perhaps it is because they both have a similarly destructive nature.
9) Goblins get stuck in small places. It’s that lopsided head.
10) Goblins believe that writing will steal their soul. And yet, goblin wizards exist. Reportedly.

Burnt Offerings - Day 1

It was the Autumnal Equinox. Winter might still be several months away yet, but the signs of the end of summer were surely at hand. This fall festival was to have a special event this year – the new temple was to be consecrated on this day. Merchants had set-up booths to hock their wares and food was available from food carts all over town. Many people from the area made the trip into town to attend the festival, so the streets were crowded with gawkers, revelers, vendors, children, and dogs, and maybe even the occasional pick-pocket as well.
Father Zantus
As part of the entertainment different contests and games were held, providing great entertainment for all in attendance. Stike and Reynard participated in a tug-of-war contest, with Stike's strength and Reynard’s smarts pairing to overcome the local champion. Kheo participated in a balance beam competition and was able to walk the thin side of a twenty foot 2-by-4 without falling. Father Zantus appeared and asked Selinor to join him and a gaggle of children in playing hide and seek in the graveyard. While there Selinor observed that Father Zantus stopped to offer a quick prayer in front of one of the smaller crypts in the graveyard. Each character participated in the town games and earned 100 XP for the experience.

DM Note: Brian questioned the wisdom of ever playing hide and seek in a graveyard, but several of the players who had grown up in the country assured him this would not be an uncommon occurrence.

Mayor Deveri
In front of the new temple a temporary stage had been set-up. Early in the afternoon a series of special guests took to the stage and took turns making welcoming speeches. The mayor (Mayor Deverin) joked and played to the crowd – always the politician. The sheriff (Belor Hemlock) was a bit more dour than the jovial mayor as he reminded the people to always be on the look-out for danger. Next there was some confusion – a local nobleman by the name of Lonjiku Kaijitsu had sent his apologies but that he was too sick to attend. This announcement drew some titters from the crowd – apparently it was well known that the old man had a dislike of this kind of frivolity. Finally a member of the local theater (Cyrdak Drokkus) then joined in the fun and provided several excellent imitations of local dignitaries and well known citizens.

Finally Father Zantus took the stage. Zantus faithfully retold the story of how the goddess Desna had first fallen to earth and was nursed back to health by a blind child. For her kindness Desna transformed the child into an immortal butterfly, and as Father Zantus relayed the story several acolytes released large batches Swallowtail Butterflies into the air. Then just as the sun began to set, Father Zantus pulled out a Thunderstone to get everyone’s attention and to begin the incantation of blessing for the new temple.

Just as the echoes of thunder died down and Father Zantus had cleared his throat to begin his incantation a scream was heard from the back of the crowd. This scream was immediately followed by another, and then several others. And then another noise filled the air – singing – weirdly off-pitch in an odd squeaky voice – and terrifying.

Goblin Song
Just as the singing started the war cries of several goblins were heard as they crawled out from under a wagon at the back of the plaza. Each of the three goblins waved their short swords and started to advance on the panicking crowd. The plaza was in uproar as screams filled the air and the attendees fled in every direction.

The adventurers attempted to respond to the threat, but the panicked crowd slowed their movements and prevented the use of magic or ranged weapons. Luckily Stike happened to have been standing next to the wagon where the goblins had come from and with one mighty swing removed the head of one of the goblins from its shoulders.

After the initial panic on the plaza the party was able to regain its movement and its spell abilities and the three goblins were soon dispatched. As the last of the three goblins took their dying breath the party paused to look around and assess the situation. It was a scene of chaos as local citizens were still running across the plaza in different directions, but by now most of the crowd had dispersed. The dignitaries were all gone as well, save for Father Zantus who could be seen as he provided aid to several people who had been hurt in the panic.

A pair of goblins appeared from a side street and ran away as they waved their swords and screeched, followed by a handful of town guards in hot pursuit. The battle was not over as the horrible sound of singing filled the air and the sounds of battle could be heard coming from other parts of town, but with no immediate danger at hand the party took a second to check their gear and decide where to go next.

Goblin Warchanter

Across the plaza another batch of goblins had found the cart that contained the barrel of oil that was going to be used to help start the bonfire later that evening. A massive whoosh filled the air and a huge plume of flame and smoke headed up from the flaming wagon. Three goblins emerged from behind the wagon and waved burning torches, each with a flaming menace in their eyes. A fourth goblin, a Warchanter, followed the first three, that horrid song of pain and fear coming from its misshapen mouth.
Goblin Pyro's
The party Wasted no time as they sped across the plaza to engage the new threat and to protect Father Zantus. The goblins got off some good hits but two of them were soon dead. The Warchanter's spells proved to be ineffective and soon he was no more as well. The last goblin, who had been trying to get behind Stike decided it was time to run and hightailed it out of the plaza before the party could react,

As the last of this group of goblins died the party again quickly assessed their situation. No more goblins were in view, and the sounds of fighting (and singing) had clearly dissipated. While the fiery cart was burning out of control, several locals suddenly appeared and began to do their best to drag the cart farther away from the buildings. Father Zantus came forward and offered his sincere thanks to the party for their heroics. “Your efforts will not be forgotten,” he said. The priest offered the party several two potions of Cure Light Wounds, and just as he finished another noise was heard.

From across the way a man and a barking dog backed into the plaza. As they cautiously retreated a goblin commando riding a goblin dog appeared as they drew menacingly closer to the two. With a quick flash of the goblin’s sword quickly followed and the dog lay dead. The man ducked behind a cart and began to yell for help.

Goblin Commando riding a Goblin Dog
Again the party sprang into action. The goblin commando looked nasty, and the goblin dog he was riding was more so, but the four goblins that followed him into the plaza made let the party know this was going to be a dangerous fight. Stike bravely waded into battle, swinging his mighty sword, while Kheo poured crossbow bolts at the goblin dog. Reynard dropped a magical flame which damaged the four trailing goblins, but got himself a little too close to the combat and took a hit. Selinor focused on the goblin dog as well, and soon the beast was dead.

The goblin commando continued his tracking of the retreating man but Selinor stepped forward and intervened. The well-dressed gentleman drew his own sword, but gave Selinor pause as to which was more dangerous – the wounded goblin commando in front of him or the shaky citizen with a highly polished sword behind him. The party quickly took out the remainder of the goblins and the goblin commando was the last to die.

As the last goblin died the party quickly determined the battle was over. No more singing and no more sounds of battle could be heard. With the backbone of the attack stopped, several goblins could be seen clambering over the walls of the town in an attempt to escape. A couple of goblins had been captured alive – the party saw several of the town militia moving them towards the sheriff’s jail. The burning wagon was still on fire, but the local buildings were safe.

The man they had saved introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove. He was very gracious and very thankful for his rescue and offered to buy the party their meal that night if they would dine with him at The Rusty Dragon where he was staying. Aldern then took off, while the party helped clean up in the aftermath. This also gave the party members an opportunity to go through the meager possessions of the goblins. An accumulated 30 GP was collected, the Warchanter was found to have a potion of Cure Light Wounds, and the commando had a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds. The commando was also found to have had a Masterwork Short Sword, which was claimed by Kheo. Most of the goblin possessions were worthless, but Stike took possession of what he deemed the best of their short bows and collected twenty arrows and a quiver. Kheo looked to reclaim his bolts, but three were lost or broken beyond repair.

There was no thought among the townspeople of resuming the festival – the local citizens mourned their losses and did their best to resume normalcy. A young woman – Ameiko Kaijitsu – offered the party free rooms at her inn – The Rusty Dragon – for a week as a small token of her and the town’s appreciation for the efforts of the party in this battle against the goblins.

DM Note: This ended Section One of Burnt Offerings. For their efforts each party member earned 700 XP and acquired the items just listed.

Evening – Day 1

Ven Vinder
Some of the characters may not care for the attention, but they soon found they had become local celebrities. Apparently Father Zantus had been spreading around stories about the brave party members and their fearless attacks on the goblin horde – perhaps his stories were exaggerated, but the party’s arrival at The Rusty Dragon was met with a resounding cheer and the offer of drinks. A man named Savah offered a firm hand shake and a pat on the back and said “Come by my armory – 20% off for anything you might need.” Not to be outdone Ven Vinder, the local shopkeep, made a similar offer if the party members were to visit his general store.

Despite the festive mood the crowd parted and let Sheriff Hemlock approach the party. He stated that Father Zantus had asked for the party to accompany the sheriff to the graveyard. As the party followed the sheriff he offered his own thanks to the party for their efforts. The town had really been caught off guard on this and the efforts of the party had really helped turn the tide for the town. As the discussion continued it soon became aware that the sheriff was sizing up the party – could they really be good confederates or had they just been lucky.

The party asked several questions about the raid that afternoon and the sheriff told them what he knew. The raid had two main thrusts – many goblins had rushed the main gate north of town but more disturbing was the goblins that had somehow been smuggled into town via several different carts and wagons, part of the flood of visitors that had come to town for the festival. The town guard had handled the main gate incursion, but with the party being in the right place at the right time the attack in the plaza had fortunately fizzled. Of the goblins that had been captured and interrogated they learned that the attack had been coordinated by “longshanks”, the term that goblins used to denote humans or the like. There was also supposed to have been a third party of goblins that were to have gone to the graveyard, but the captured goblins did not know their intentions.

This left several unanswered questions. Who would smuggle goblins into town? Goblins certainly weren’t the ones driving those carts. And to what end? The 30 or so goblins in the attack might have caused a lot of damage if they hadn’t of been stopped so quickly, but that was likely all a group of that size could have accomplished. The sheriff had not had a chance to visit the graveyard himself before Father Zantus had contacted him, so perhaps this might reveal more as to goblins real intentions.

When asked further about any other unusual occurrences in town the only recent event the sheriff could identify was when the wife of local nobleman Lonjiku Kaijitsu had thrown herself from the balcony of their house onto the rocks below some six months hence. When asked, the sheriff confirmed that this was indeed the missing speaker at the festival today, but nobody really expected him to be there to begin with, and when asked further, verified that he was indeed the father of Ameiko Kaijitsu, the owner of The Rusty Dragon.

When pressed further on the goblins, Sheriff Hemlock stated that he was not the goblin expert. A ranger from the area, Shalelu Andosana, would be the local expert on goblins and the different goblin tribes int he area, but she was not due back in town for several weeks yet. He did state that the goblins did seemed organized beyond what he would have expected, as the presence of the Warchanter would have implied. A Warchanter would sing his spell and that would in turn boost the goblins spirits and inspire them to be braver that they might otherwise.
The party soon joined Father Zantus at the graveyard and Zantus pointed to a free standing crypt. He said this special crypt was where many members of his faith had been interred for many, many years. After the attack earlier in the day he had come out here to check on things and had found the door to the crypt had been tampered with. He had not entered the crypt, but had instead asked the sheriff to investigate and suggested that he ask his new friends to help.

The party asked Sheriff Hemlock and Father Zantus to stand back as they approached the crypt. Selinor had been in the graveyard that afternoon and was able to confirm that these doors had indeed been shut earlier, but now one of the doors could be seen to be slightly ajar. Stike carefully approached the doors, but Kheo decided to walk right up to the doors and yank both of them open with a mighty tug. One of the two skeletons waiting inside immediately knocked Kheo unconscious with a hard blow from its broken scimitar, while the other skeleton barely missing Stike with a swing of its weapon.

A few spells and some hard hits and the two skeletons were quickly reduced to dust without any further damage. One of the potions of Cure Light Wounds was poured down Kheo’s throat and he was quickly back on his feet. As the party recuperated Father Zantus inspected the crypt and found a Robe of Bones that glowed of faint magic with two expired charges on it. He stated that whoever had broken into the crypt had used it to animate the two skeletons. Father Zantus then cried in anguish as he discover that one of the bodies had been removed from the crypt – the body of a man named Ezrakien Tobyn. Zantus began to say something about how Ezrakien's daughter Nualia had run off with a local boy and broken the old man heart, but for now the good father was to overcome with grief to have any further discussion of the issue now - perhaps tomorrow would be better.

Sheriff Hemlock scratched his head in wonderment as he could not figure why someone would do such a thing. Was the goblin raid really just a distraction so that a dead body could be stolen from its crypt? He did caution the party that this was something they should not talk about – the town had been through a traumatic day already and this would not help the mood of the town.

The skeletons wore rusted pieces of armor and wielded broken scimitars, so with nothing else to see at the crypt Father Zantus resealed the crypt and the party returned to town. Both Zantus and Hemlock went on their own way and the adventurers returned to The Rusty Dragon.

When they asked the party was told that Aldern Foxglove had not made his appearance just yet, but was expected shortly. As the party waited several citizens stopped by to offer their thanks for their efforts, Selinor, Kheo, and Reynard also noted that several females had paid particular attention to Stike. Stike’s muscular posture likely had something to do with their interest, but this particular type of interest made Stike visibly uncomfortable. This level of uncomfortableness was an easy target and his new friends had something with which they could gently chide him about.

Shayliss Vinder
One particular female identified herself as Shayliss Vinder and she plied Stike with a story that a giant rat had found a home in the basement of her father’s general store – would he please be so kind as to accompany her to said basement and remove this foul beast from her presence. The ever honorable Stike quickly vowed to assist the young lady with her plight, much to the amusement of his friends.

Once in the basement Shayliss pointed out where the giant rat usually hid and Stike moved forward to investigate. He found nothing, and as he turned back he found that Shayliss had somehow removed her bodice. She thrust herself into the arms of the unsuspecting fighter, only to have their moment of reverie interrupted by the heavy clomp of someone coming down the steps to the basement.

Stike, completely chagrined and completely innocent, stood next to the young woman as she struggled to put her blouse back on when the door opened and there stood Ven Vinder, the shop keep and Shayliss’s father. The sight of his daughter in a somewhat disheveled state and the young man standing next to her sent the man into a rage. He swore vile epitaphs and stepped toward Stike as if to fight.

Stike bravely stood his ground and with an eloquence he did not knew had had (DM Note: he rolled a 20 on his Diplomacy skill check) stated that he was innocent and he meant no bad intentions or insult to either the young lady or her father. The father believed Stike’s pleas of innocence and instead focused his anger on Shayliss. Apparently her older sister had plied the same tricks in her day. Stike took the opportunity to beg to be excused and quickly made his way back to The Rusty Dragon. The flushed look on the young man’s face gave the party all the hints as to what had happened in the dingy basement of the general store.

Aldern Foxglove
 Aldern Foxglove then appeared and invited the party members to dine with him. He ordered an expensive bottle of wine and plied the party with questions about the life of an adventurer. Not that the party had any particular insight here, but the questions were honestly asked and the party spent the evening talking with the moneyed noble, partially because he was buying and out of curiosity as to what else he may have in mind.

At the end of the evening Aldern invited the party members to a boar hunt the following day. He wanted to use the time to be taught some of the fighting tricks the party had spoken of, and besides a boar hunt was always good fun. He would provide the party with mounts to ride and they would leave early in the morning for a forest grove where he knew a wild boar to reside. The party agreed and before he took his leave Aldern set a small bag of 50 GP as one more token of his appreciation for the party having saved his life.

Conclusion: Thus ended day one. The party had started the day as more or less unemployed bums but ended the day as local heroes. They had earned 1100 XP for their efforts, collected two potions of Cure Light Wounds, one potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, and Kheo now had a Masterwork Short Sword in his possession. Each member of the party took their 20 GP split as well, but they hadn’t paid for any of their drinks or dinner that night, plus they were promised rooms for the rest of the week as well. There were still a lot of unanswered questions remaining, but all in all, a good day.


  1. Once again, I had an excellent time. Roger your preparation, imagery, and creativity were outstanding. we are all very lucky to have such a committed DM. Thank you. -Corky