DM Note: As we enter the final chapter of the Pathfinder's Rise of the Runelords adventure path I wanted to take a moment to briefly recap the last 2+ years of game play. There are some hints in here of things yet to come,but mostly this is just a fun jaunt through where we have been and what we have done. We have completed more than 40 game sessions so far, and while not every session is linked to below, links are included to many of the blog recap sessions. This has been great fun for all and we are looking forward to what is yet to be revealed in the final chapter.
The Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path began as the heroes were taking part in the Swallowtail Festival in the town of Sandpoint, but as the celebration drew to a close a band of goblins attacked! The heroes fought off the invaders and established themselves as heroes, so when local bartender Ameiko Kaijitsu went missing the town leaders, Mayor Kendra Deverin, Sheriff Belor Hemlock, and Priest Abstalar Zantus turned to the heroes for help. Rescuing Ameiko revealed a conspiracy: her estranged brother, Tsuto, was involved with a group that had gathered the goblin tribes for an even greater raid on Sandpoint, intent on offering the entire town up in sacrifice to the goddess Lamashtu. After tracking the goblins to their lair in Thistletop Island, the heroes confronted the conspirators and defeated their leader, a bitter Aasimar named Nualia, who carried a curious amulet depicting a seven-pointed star.
Highlight: Stike’s encounter with a young maiden with am unfortunate “wardrobe malfunction” and then talking his way out of trouble when her father appeared. I chose not to include any pictures of the whole sordid affair.
Soon thereafter, a murderer terrorized Sandpoint. Victims were left mutilated, and carved into their chests was a familiar seven-pointed star - a clue left by a madman calling himself "The Skinsaw Man". The heroes eventually confronted the murderer, a recent acquaintance named Aldern Foxglove, in a haunted mansion near Sandpoint. There they learned that he was but an agent of a larger cult based in the city of Magnimar, the capital city of Varisia. The investigation moved to that city where the heroes confronted the Skinsaw Cult and Justice Ironbriar before learning a related danger has taken up residence in an old clock tower. Here, the heroes encountered the true leader of the cult, a sadistic lamia matriarch named Xanesha. Unknown to the heroes, this lamia matriarch had been charged with harvesting "souls of greed" to aid in the reawakening of an ancient wizard tyrant known as Runelord Karzoug. The lamia's use of the Sihedron Rune - the same seven-pointed star both Nualia and the Skinsaw Man employed - hinted at a still larger threat.
Highlight: After having unknowingly enlisted the assistance of Aldern Foxgloves’s murdered wife Iesha the heroes defeated Foxglove. The heroes then decided to investigate his personal abode in Magmimar, where upon arriving they were greeted by a very much alive Aldern and Iesha Foxglove – much fun ensued. Later, the heroes cut through Justice Ironbriar like he was nothing, but two missed saving throws by the DM helped. And then after climbing the rickety stairs of the clock tower Selinor promptly annihilated an illusion with his big fire spell that he had been saving special just for this encounter.
The heroes were asked by Magnimar Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras to undertake a trek into central Varisia to a town named Turtleback Ferry and to investigate why the Black Arrow Rangers of remote Fort Rannick had gone silent. Accompanied by Shalelu Andosana they arrived to find the fort overrun by ogres and the surviving rangers held prisoner by the Graul’s, a degenerate family of Ogrekin. By rescuing the rangers, but despite letting Xanesha’s lamia matriarch sister Lucrecia escape, the heroes liberated Fort Rannick and started to piece together what was really going on in the region. After dealing with a flood, a failing Thassilonian dam, and a haunted swamp, they finally arrived on the upper slopes of the infamous Hook Mountain where they confronted and defeated ogle leader Barl Breakbones and Lucrecia, and learned that a powerful stone giant named Mokmurian was planning a raid on their hometown. They were also able to return the body of Lamater Bayden to the swamp and to his lovesick nymph lover Myriana, who in turn offered her thanks by granting Selinor a gift of lasting inspiration (Nymph’s Inspiration) for the great kindness that had been shown her.
Highlight: The Grauls were a treat, and whatever became of that mysterious ship that was sitting in the middle of the swamp?
The heroes returned to Sandpoint to help defend against Mokmurian's raiders, only to find the assault was a ruse. The giants were actually looking for something secret to return to their leader, so the heroes then took the fight to Jorgenfist, the fortress of the stone giants. By infiltrating this citadel and defeating Mokmurian, they not only ended the threat of the massing army of giants but also discovered that Mokmurian was but another agent of Runelord Karzoug, and that the Sihedron Rune was a symbol he was utilizing to aid in his return to this world. Yet, there was still time before Karzoug could fully regain his powers. Using Mokmurian's library of Thassilonian lore, the heroes learned that the key to Karzoug's defeat may be hidden in a lost dungeon called Runeforge, and that the route to that dungeon was hidden in a dungeon below Sandpoint.
Highlight: When trying to access the library without the proper password (Viosanxi) the heroes were set upon by a Shining Child, who promptly blinded three of the party members.
The heroes returned to Sandpoint in search of that information by seeking local sage Drobert Quink, the closest thing Sandpoint had to an expert on ancient Thassilon. From there the heroes found a recently opened shrine to Lamashtu guarded by an ancient lunatic named The Scribbler, a character from the time of Thassilon itself. Following the clues they found there, the heroes headed north, solved the riddles that hid the entrance, temporarily escaped the wrath of an Ancient White Dragon named Arkrhyst, and entered the dungeon of Runeforge. After investigating all of the halls of Runeforge and having gathered the necessary components the heroes utilized the magical pool at Runeforge's heart and transformed their weapons into potent runeforged weapons capable of providing them significant advantages in the final battle to come.
Highlight: The heroes escaped the dragon by jumping into the portal to Runeforge, only to find that the dragon was able to do the same. Uh-oh.
Armed with the weaponry they need, the Heroes will still need to make the journey into the Kodar Mountains to confront Karzoug in his ancient long lost city of Xin-Shalast. The heroes will need all of their wits, magic, and might to prevail, for Karzoug has drawn his most powerful allies to his side to defend him from any and all who would try to stop his return. Stay tuned!