Monday, January 21, 2013

Thistletop Island (Part Two) (01/18/2013)

As part of my preparation and DM'ing duties this week I used an IPad/IPhone app named PFRPG rd (link). This reference dictionary contains all the Pathfinder material from the core books and in an easy-to-search database. The adventure module of course contained all the material about the various NPC's, but I didn't necessarily want to print out a list of details for all their known spells - this app gave me quick access to the different spells I needed to know about and saved me from additional printing. I guess I can't absolutely guarantee it is 100% complete and accurate, but for the $3.99 I paid for it this app is pretty darn good.
When we left off last time the party party had killed the Goblin Hero named Ripnugget and his crew in the stockade at the topmost level of Thistletop Island. There were still a few places left to investigate in the stockade - the three guard towers, the room that had been nailed shut, and what to do with the four goblin dogs roaming around the open courtyard. But the lure of the stairs that led down to the next level proved to be too much. After taking a few minutes to rest, collect what items of value they could, and quaff some healing potions, the party started down the steps.
The stairs down led into a large room. A single lantern hung from a hook on the wall next to where the stairs entered this room from the north. Several rickety doors opened into this room, and a few discarded dog pelt rugs lay forgotten in the northeast corner. This might have been some sort of meeting room or a mess hall at one point, but it now just empty. Three doors faced south, with single doors that faced east, west, and north.
The party decided to try the single door on the west. Nothing could be heard beyond it, and when opened it revealed a storage area, with crates, barrels, and various pieces of refuse scattered about. Before any further exploration could go on on of the three doors along the south wall opened and out stepped a large muscular - and well-armed - bugbear. The bugbear - Bruthazmas, the old enemy of Shalelu Andosana - appeared to be absentmindedly buckling on his armor and was just as surprised to see the adventurers as the party was to see him. With a roar he swung his flail and moved to attack.
The party struck first, and struck hard (DM Note: The first two hits from the party took 70% of his hit points). The battle was brief and furious, but the beast was soon dead before he even had a chance to do much damage. Then from behind him falling body poured out four additional goblins - they wore garish looking eye shadow, rouge, and lipstick and has slipped on their crude armor over their ratty goblin lingerie - but the crude weapons these four goblijn females wielded looked to be as deadly as any other. They too were soon dispatched, and once the battle was over the party took a moment to inspect the room further.
The room included several unmade beds and had clothes strewn about and was filled with a foul smelling perfume. The concubines provided little of interest, but Bruthazmus possessed studded leather armor, a heavy flail, a masterwork composite longbow and a quiver with twenty arrows, a separate bundle of four +1 arrows of Elf Bane, a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds and four platinum pieces.
The party drug the bodies and stashed them in the storeroom, and continued their investigation from there. A hallway led away from the storage area in a room that had a cave mouth open to the outside. The fresh sea air was easily detectable, although a "wall" of vies and greenery hung down to otherwise hide the mouth to view from the outside. The party noticed the floor here to be exceptionally clean. Another hallway led away to a closed door, while another led another direction.
Before going to the door the party wanted to check out the other hallway to ensure nothing would come at them from behind. In this room they found dozens of strange dead bodies scattered about this room. Most were sea birds and ospreys, but there were six dead goblins here as well. Each body was literally skin and bones, as if all of the interior organs and muscles had somehow been drained away, leaving behind skeletons draped with leathery, slowly rotting skin.
The party stepped in to investigate further when Kheo was attacked and stung by an odd looking beast. The monster - a Tentamort - looked something like a leathery, eyeless squid with a squat body the size of a rain barrel. Its lower body split into a tangle of tentacles the creature used to slowly move, while two longer tentacles, one thick and muscular and the other lithe and tipped with a bone stinger, emerged from either side.

With Kheo temporarily disabled from the poison the rest of the party quickly stepped in and slew the odd looking beast. As Kheo recovered the party poked through the hollowed-out corpses that lay around the room and came across a +1 Hide Armor and a Masterwork Short Bow under one of the bodies. Kheo then searched for and collected the poison sac from the Tentamort, with the intention of possibly using the poison at some point.
The party continued back to the door and stepped into an anteroom that featured standard doors to the left and right but in front of them, the door faces carved with images of horrific, deformed monsters clawing their way out of pregnant women of all races. The adventurers decided to take the door to the right first.
The first room featured the bottom four feet of the walls covered with crude drawings in mud, blood, and paint. Most of the drawings showed goblins engaged in some sort of violence against humans, horses, or dogs. One picture on the north wall was at least three times the size and complexity of the other scrawlings. This image showed Thistletop from the side, the goblin stockade perched atop it like a crown. A cave had been drawn into the center of the image, and looming inside is what appeared to be an immense, muscular goblin with snakelike eyes and a dogslicer in each taloned hand. If the scale compared to the rest of the drawing was to be believed the monster goblin must be at least thirty feet tall.
The next room featured a large table surrounded by chairs fills much of this room. A slate board to the north is covered with scribblings in chalk, but the map of Sandpoint that has been carefully inscribed on it leaves no doubt as to the purpose of this room-this is doubtless where the recent raid was planned.
Lyrie Akenua
A door led into a large wooden worktable that sat in the middle of this room, its surface cluttered with scrolls, books, stone tablets covered with dense, spiky runes, and fragments of carvings that appear to have been chipped off of statues or bas-reliefs. To the north, a floor-to-ceiling set of wooden shelves sags with picks, shovels, brushes, lanterns, and other equipment one might expect to see at an archaeological site.
The room also contained five identical copies of a dark skinned female - each pointing a dangerous looking wand at the party. The party quickly fought their way through the mirror images and quickly dispatched with the young mage. Reynard was especially happy to be able to gather the mage's spellbook and scrolls. The mage wore a +1 Cloak of Resistance, wielded a dagger, and had a silver comb (25 GP), a fine silk gown (60 GP), a pearl earring worth 50 GP, an Everburning Torch, 3 platinum pieces and 278 GP, and a Wand of Magic Missile.
Scrolls included: Cure Light Wounds, Comprehend Languages, Mirror Image, See Invisibility, Sleep, and Whispering Wind. 

Spellbook: comprehend languages, detect secret doors, floating disc, identify, locate object, mirror image, obscuring mist, see invisibility, sleep, shatter, ray of enfeeblement, mage armor, invisibility, burning hands, grease, and climb.
The party next returned to the Chapel. Once the doors were opened the party could see stone fonts that contained frothy dark water sat to the north and south of the entrance to the chapel, and twin banks of stone pillars ran the length of the long chamber. At the western end shallow stairs rose to a platform about two feet off the ground. The walls surrounding this platform were lit by hanging braziers that emitted glowing red smoke and gave the place an unnerving crimson lighting that threw the bas-relief carvings of countless monsters feasting on fleeing humans into lurid display.
A black marble altar stone, its surface heaped with ashes and bone fragments, squatted before a ten-foot-tall statue. The sculpture depicted a very pregnant but otherwise shapely naked woman who wielded a kukri in each taloned hand and had a long reptilian tail, birdlike taloned feet, and the snarling head of a three-eyed jackal with a forked tongue. The left kukri flickered with fiery orange light while the right one glowed with a cold blue radiance.
Yeth Hound
The party crept in slowly but their presence was immediately detected by a pair of Yeth Hounds who quickly began baying with an unholy resonance that caused two of the party members to drop what they were carrying and run from the room. The remaining two members held off the black haired red eyed jackal-like beasts until their comrades could gather themselves, but the hounds proved to have a few more tricks. Two of the party members found themselves cowering in fear, unable to attack, while the Yeth Hounds flew over the party members in the front to get to those in the rear.
The party rebounded and asserted their dominance and left the two hounds laying in a pool of blood. The chapel turned out to be a chapel to Lamashtu with all the appropriately creepy imagery. A pile of ash and bone lay on the altar and a charred +1 Holy Symbol was pulled from the ashes. Reynard stated that this was likely the body of Tobyn Ezkarien, Nualia's father, who's body had been stolen a week previous.
The next room revealed a prison like area with several cells with rusty metal doors and a small area that contained torturers tools. As the party exited this room they returned tot he open area from where they had started and awaiting them was a large fighter type, wear plenty of metal armor and wielding a big sword. The fighter took no offensive stance, nor did he even raise his sword - instead he asked "Did you kill them damn dogs? They make quite a racket don't they?"
Orik Vancaskerkin
Seeing the fighter had no intentions of attacking, the party carefully began to banter with the large man. After some general discussion that man introduced himself - he was Orik Vancaskerkin, a mercenary who had been hired as a bodyguard for Nualia. He stated that he had been paid, and if it was all the same to the adventurers, he was tired of hanging around with these weirdo's and would just as soon be on his way.

Orik answered a few questions, letting the party know that Nualia was indeed present and was currently downstairs in her lair. With a quick salute the fighter made his exit, leaving the party to inspect the remaining area. There they found the living quarters for Nualia's bodyguards and henchmen. The middle door to the south lead to a hallway that proceeds south for another twenty feet or so and then turn right (west). As the party peeked around the corner they saw five additional doors, all currently shut.
Tsuto Kaijitso
The first room was clean and well organized. A low dresser to the southwest has a stack of papers sitting atop it, weighted down by a large chunk of obsidian, while to the northwest sits a well-made bed. The notes and drawings were in a hand that the party had seen before - this was likely Tsuto's room when he was present.
The next bedroom has a faint musty odor. The bed was covered with matted gray and black hair, and bloodstains mar the stone floor, while a morbid stack of birds' feet lies heaped on the floor by the side of the bed. The party deduced this was likely Bruthazmas's room, at least when he wasn't hanging out with the concubines,
The next room belonged to Lyrie, unknown female wizard. While this bedroom was clean and brightly lit by an Everburning Torch lying on the nightstand, its spartan decor makes it unclear whether it was actually lived in.
The next one-person bedroom shows many signs of having been recently lived in. The bed itself is rumpled and unmade, and a half-eaten meal of bread and smoked salmon sits on the nightstand. A few articles of dirty clothing sit at the foot of the bed. This had been no doubt Orik's room.
The last room was larger than the others, the large chamber seemingly laid out to serve a dual purpose. To the north was a fine bed with silk sheets, while to the south a desk and chair under a hanging lantern made a comfortable-looking study. The party made the assumption this was Nualia's room, but she wasn't present now, so the search would continue.
The party exited the living quarters and opened the remaining door they had not yet inspected. The party members had heard of such things, but had never actually seen what now lay before them. It was a goblin nursery, cages packed with filthy straw that lined the walls. There were no young present at this time, so the door was quickly slammed shut.
The party had been through all of the rooms on this level, but soon realized they had not found a stairs leading down. Orik might have been able to help but he was now long gone. The party retraced their steps and soon found a door behind some boxes in Lyrie's study.
After taking a short rest the party started down the stairs. A stone door just around the corner from the steps hung slightly ajar, the detailed carvings that once covered its surface defaced by chisel marks and hammer blows to the extent that only a few remnants of images (mostly of gemstones and crowns) remained. The floor here was slanted downward toward the west.

Stike opened the stone door and stepped into a large room. Two pillars supported the ceiling in here. In many places the stone walls, floor, and ceiling were caked with ancient grime and soot. Alcoves in the north and south walls contained partially damaged statues of a man in robes clutching a book and a glaive. The entire room was also canted slightly toward the west, and whatever ancient upheaval caused the complex to tilt knocked the statues from their bases so that now they leaned against the western walls of their alcoves. Reynard identified the statues as those of Runelord Karzoug, supposedly the greatest of the runelords in his day.

The door at the end of the room was opened to reveal a short hallway that rose in a slope toward the east. Five feet from the western door the floor was polished and shiny, unlike the dusty floor elsewhere. A pair of stone statues depicting stern men wielding glaives stood in alcoves north and south of this section of the hallway. At the eastern end stood two stone doors, their faces carved with strange runes. Just past the doors was a third alcove in which a partially collapsed statue sat. The top half of the statue was missing, leaving behind just a ragged stump of a torso.

Selinor started down the hallway and as soon as he set foot on the "clean" square two portcullis's dropped, trapping him inside. The two status started slashing at him with their glaives. The remainder of the party managed to raise the first portcullis enough that Selinor could slide out, just in time as the hallway floor square gave way, obviously intending to drop the occupant to an unknown fate below. The trapped area then returned to it's initial state, the party did their best to jam the pressure plate on the floor, but still did their best to avoid stepping on it anyway.

With two doors to choose from the party choose to go through the north door. There they found a room with wide stone ledges of red marble that lined the curving walls of the room, which was well lit by four burning skulls that sat in each corner. Three chairs rested in the room, and both stone ledges were covered with old books, scrolls, teeth, bones, scrimshaw artwork, jars of deformed creatures soaking in brine, taxidermied animals and limbs, and other strange objects. To the north a large round fountain filled with frothy blue water filled the room with the gentle sound of bubbling. 

A woman with white hair, violet eyes, scratches on her abdomen in the shape of the symbol of Lamashtu, her right arm somehow transformed into the arm and taloned hand of an unknown monster, and wielding a large bastard sword shrieked in anger at being disturbed. By her side stood her pet Yeth Hound baying its unholy wail and terrifying two of the party members.

Stike strode to the front and quickly took out the Yeth Hound, but at the expense of taking several hits from Nualia's bastard sword (DM note: Stike got down to 1 HP). The party members did their best to heal him and keep him fighting and soon the battle began to turn. With one final blow Nualia crumpled to the floor and the battle was won.

The books and items strewn around the shelves turned out to be materials related to the worhip of Lamashtu. There didn't appear to be anything of value to the party, but the group decided they would gather up what they could of it to return to Father Zantus.

The bubbling font of water gave off a low-level glow of magic, so after some discussion Reynard took a drink and discovered he could actually "see" through the eyes of the statue out onto the Gulf of Varisia. One of the old wives tales they had heard about this statue was that one could see the entire gulf from it - the party could well imagine that this head sitting on top of an appropriate size torso would indeed give one an expansive view of the gulf.

Nualia has been wielding a +1 Bastard Sword, was wearing a +1 Breast Plate, a masterwork composite longbow with twenty arrows, and carried a Sihedron Medallion, a gold holy symbol worth 100 GP, 7 platinum pieces and 55 GP.

The party wanted to inspect the rest of this level, but first took a quick five minute rest. They then exited Nualia's study and went through the door opposite of this room. This L-shaped room had two doors, and the party oped to go through the one on the left. There sat and anteroom with three sets of double-doors leading away.

The door to the left led to a barren room that contained an upraised dais on which sat a marble throne. To either side stood statues of a man clutching a book and a glaive. A ghostly figure seemed to be seated in the throne, an image of the same man who appeared in the statues. He seemed to be addressing an audience as he moved his hands about, his fingers decorated with hooked rings, but the words issuing from his phantom mouth are difficult to make out and in a strange language. Reynard under stood enough Thassilonian to know the message was simply repeating " ... it is upon us, but I command you remain. Witness my power, how Alaznist's petty wrath is but a flash compared to my strength. Take my final work to your graves , and let its memory be the last thing you ... "

The next room contained three low tables, their tops covered with a strange and chilling selection of tools, saws, long-bladed knives, and objects whose purpose is not readily apparent. A strange collection of bones lies near the southern table too many to be one skeleton, but too few to be two. The room appeared to be medical in nature, but with the odd collection of tools and bones the party shuddered at what the purpose may have been. The party scooped the finely made set of tools into a bag and found a Sihedron Medallion that had several nodules and blades built into.

The doors to the next room were made of stone but had no handles. An indented outline of a seven pointed star, its shape covered by hollows and slits, graces the spot where handles should be. Undaunted, the party fished out the Sihedron Medallion they found in the previous room and heard an audible click as the door opened.

Malfeshnekor the Barghest
The room was lit by a fire pit that lay in the middle of the room that filled the room with a strange humid heat and the smell of burning hair. Just beyond the fire pit stood a strange beast. The party quickly realized this must be the beast that Nualia was hoping to control in her plans to destroy Sandpoint - a barghest named Malfeshnekor. The party knew they were in for a fight and they crept forward the beast  - that simply disappeared. Reynard quaffed his potion of See Invisible, but the beast could not be found.

And then it was there as the barghest launched a futile attack at Stike (DM note: the DM's dice chose this particular moment to grow cold). The party quickly reacted to the beast's sudden appearance, only to see it blink away again. The barghest manage to blink in and out several times, but one time to many as a series of blows finally killed it.

The party then inspected the room that served as Malfeshnekor's prison. Besides the fire pit illumination to the room was provided by two stands that contained 30 eternal candles apiece, each worth 25 GP. In the back of the room were two alcoves, but the only thing of value was a silver coffer filled with sand, worth 100 GP.

The party then exited the room and made their way back to the L-shaped room and went through the other door. The room as a crypt with four pillars that supported the domed ceiling of the room. Several dark alcoves that contained standing sarcophagi graced the walls, and a statue of a Runelord Karzoug wielding a glaive and holding a book stood in the southern part of the chamber. The walls were covered with carvings of Runelord Karzoug as well and the party was able to discern that the architects of this dungeon had likely been buried alive in this crypt, as to keep their secrets safe forever.

Just then three shadows slid forth from their sarcophagus and the weary party was forced to fight once more. The shadows were soon dispersed and the party soon found a secret door on the right side of the room.

The sound of sloshing water could be heard from the top of the stairs. In fact two different sets of stairs led down to the waters edge. Water filled the room, which has almost entirely collapsed into a large tide pool. What few walls did remain intact here bore detailed and impressive carvings of incredible treasuries filled to overflowing with coins, gems, jewelry, and other items of value. To the east the walls depicted a carving of a towering mountain, its peak carved in the shape of a stern face just above a great palace. Below, the side of the mountain's valley cradled an immense city of spires.

In the pool the remains of what must have once been an incredible treasury lay in the sloshing waters. Shattered urns, crumbled stone chests, rusted bits of once-beautiful armor and weapons, and other long-ruined treasures from an ancient past lay below. Most impressive of them all was a large, coral-encrusted helmet sized for a giant; the helm measured nearly five feet across, its full-face guard bearing an expression of twisted rage and fangs. The helm itself appears to be made of gold.

The party collected what they could and headed back up to the first level, where again they collected what they could and then returned topside to the stockade. The first two guard towers proved to be empty, but before reaching the third tower they passed the door that had been nailed shut. Much to the surprise of the party the nail easily slid out and revealed a store room where, even more surprisingly, all the crates and barrels seemed to be intact. There was a small pool of pickle brine on the ground, and as they left the room and moved towards the third guard tower, several more drops of the brine could be found.

As the party crept up the stairs to the final tower a low-level of moaning could be heard coming from above. The party slipped stealthily up the steps only to find two goblins laying on the floor moaning, a small opened barrel of pickles by their side. The presence of the adventurers caused them to stumble to their feet, but seeing the party before them caused them to drop their weapons and to beg for mercy. “Please don’t throw us in the hole,” they cried. “We’ll tell you everything we know.” When asked, they said “We got the pickles from the storeroom below.” When then asked about the door being nailed shut, they whimpered “The nail was loose. We pulled it out and then put it back. Please don’t turn us over to Ripnugget. He’ll throw us down the hole.”
The party decided to play along. "Where is Ripnugget?" they asked. "He's on his throne," they replied, and proceeded to give an accurate description of where the throne was located when asked.
The next question that party asked was "And where is Ripnugget's treasure?" The goblins continued their whimpering and said "It's in a hidey-hole behind the poop room." This was a surprise to the adventurers and something worth inspecting further, but what to do with the goblins? The party then explained that all the other goblins, including Ripnugget had been killed. The party would let the goblins turn themselves in to Gogmurt, over in the thicket. The two goblins quickly ran down the stairs and over the bridge.
The party found the secret door in the back side of the privy and beyond was another small room, this one much less foul-smelling and containing a single extra-large sea chest with a heavy iron padlock. Using a key originally lifted from Ripnugget himself the party opened the chest and Ripnuggets treasure that he had accumulated over the past decade: 7,432 CP, 2,490 SP, 89 GP, 3 PP, a leather pouch of 34 badly flawed malachite's worth 1 GP each, a Medium chain shirt, a Medium masterwork scimitar, a pair of masterwork manacles, a gold holy symbol of Sarenrae worth 100 GP, a jade necklace worth 60 GP, and a fine blue silk gown with silver trim worth 150 GP.
At this point the only unfinished business was the four goblin dogs running free in the courtyard. Rather than face them directly the party found a way to climb on the roof and to simply bolt, arrow, and magic missile them until quiet returned to the stockade.
There was a shed in the back end of the courtyard. The door to this outbuilding has been nailed shut and additional boards have been nailed over these nails. The door itself was cracked and splintered in places. The party decided to pry the door open regardless and inside they found two dead goblins, their heads crushed in by something heavy, lying in the dirt by the door, their ripening bodies covered with flies.
Of more amazement to the party was the large creature that had done the crushing of the heads of those two goblins. It was a horse. A full grown horse. The horse was a little gaunt from lack of food, and a little exhausted and irate from being stuck in the shed. It had a series of sores and scratches all up and down his back. Once out of the shed the horse had a chance to run around the courtyard and buck up its heals without being tortured by the goblins. After calming down, and hoping the party could provide some food - the horse nuzzled up to the party in hopes of maybe getting some food.
How did it get here? It had a brand on it - it identified a farmer who lived near Sandpoint. How could the party get it out of here? (DM note - we ran out of time this week, we can resolve this puzzle next time).
With their work done here, the party carefully crossed the bridge back to the main land, worked their way through the thicket, up the hill through the nettlewoods, finally getting back to the road and was able to successfully return to Sandpoint.
For the whole of the trip to Thistletop Island the party accumulated the following items:

Stike: Three potions of Cure Moderate Wounds (some used), +1 bastard sword 

Selinor: A potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, a masterwork scimitar, an Everburning Torch
Reynard: Wand of Produce Flame, a potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, Scrolls (cure light wounds, comprehend languages, mirror image, see invisibility, sleep, and whispering wind), Spellbook: (comprehend languages, detect secret doors, floating disc, identify, locate object, mirror image, obscuring mist, see invisibility, sleep, shatter, ray of enfeeblement, mage armor, invisibility, burning hands, grease, and climb), Wand of Magic Missiles, +1 Cloak of Resistance, Sihedron Medallion 

Kheo: A potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, four +1 arrows of Elf Bane (one used), an Everburning Torch, a pair of masterwork manacles
Group:+1 Flame Sword (short sword), +1 short sword, +1 hide armor, +1 breast plate
7 masterwork goblin weapons (short swords) (320 GP Each), two masterwork composite longbows (400 GP each), masterwork short bow (330 GP), a chain shirt (250 GP). (DM Note: All, if sold for 50% of value and divided among the four characters, works out to 440 GP per character).
A silver holy symbol of Lamashtu made with tiny garnets (40 GP), silver comb (25 GP), a fine silk gown (60 GP), a pearl earring (50 GP), a gold holy symbol (100 GP), 34 badly flawed malachites (1 GP each), a gold holy symbol of Sarenrae (100 GP), a jade necklace (60 GP), fine blue silk gown with silver trim (150 GP), 30 eternal candles (25 GP each), silver coffer filled with sand (100 GP), 17 PP, 422 GP, 2490 SP, and 7432 CP (DM Note: As a matter of housekeeping the party sold off their non-magical treasure items and converted their value to GP. The total worked out to 995 GP per character).
The group also accumulated a collection of books and artifacts relating to Lamashtu with which to present Father Zantus.
Note: We can discuss final resolution of the GP and items - and the horse - next time.
For tonight's efforts that party members each earned 4435 XP, giving them (8010 + 4435) 12,445 XP earned so far, with 15,000 required to reach Level 5. Our next session will be in two weeks (Friday, 02/01/2013), same time, same place.

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