Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Savage Tide 4 - The Bullywug Gambit

Wisely, the PCs decided to wait for the storm to pass before returning to Eleder. By morning, the skies had mostly cleared and the seas were calm enough to sail back. It still wasn't easy going rowing and they didn't arrive at the docks until early evening only to find that the Serpentfall festival was in full effect. Celebrating the fall of Ydersius and the failed Serpentfolk coup attempt in Eleder, many of the locals were dressed up in elaborate snake costumes.

The PCs pushed their way down streets packed with party goers and ran into some trouble. A drunken gnome was tossed into the crowd but 3 stilt-walking assassins were not so easily dealt with. Eventually they were knocked down and dispatched and the PCs continued on to the disturbingly quiet and dark Vanderboren manor.

A few dead guards were found outside along along with a bullywug still searching the body. They made quick work of him and then sneaked into the manor. Since the PCs live in the manor they knew most of its layout well and guessed the that first mate was either on the top floor or the basement. The guessed the top floor and went their first.

In the master bedroom they found Lavinia and two unconscious Jade Ravens. Guarding them was Drevoraz Kabran, Captain Javell's first mate and the shaman of the bullywug tribe. Expecting Vanthus and not the PCs, Drevoraz realized he'd been duped and tried to murder Lavinia but the PCs were too quick for him. Isis disarmed him and largely removed him as a threat. The shaman was a little more difficult, but being outnumbered, died quickly enough.

Lavinia thanked them for the rescue and explained how she managed to stall them by telling them Vanthus was due to return in a few hours. Devoraz wanted to kill Lavinia and her minions in front of Vanthus. Unfortunately, the halfling servant was killed to prove how serious he was.

After returning to consciousness, Morgoth and Ivy explained how the bullywugs gained entry from the basement. The Jade Ravens had fought most of the tribe in the courtyard but had been overrun and seperated. Jessica and Ruggan had escaped but their current whereabouts were not known.

The PCs went to the basement only to hear a woman shrieking. Silver spoons had been tied to the remains of Jessica's dress and she was being chased around the basement by what the PCs would late realize was a rust monster. The chief of the bullywugs and some of his tribe were still present enjoying the show. When the rust monster destroys the last of the silverware, the chieftain had promised to eat Jessica alive.

After the rust monster devoured McDougal's armor, everyone tended to shy away from the monster.  It was finally killed followed by the bullywugs although the chieftain got in some big hits with his club.

Ruggan was later found unconscious in the secret armory. He had been knocked unconscious by a trap he'd accidentally sprung. The last of the bullywugs were found in the games room. The tribe's chief hunter put up a fight but she too was eventually dispatched.

Over the next few weeks things around the manor were restored and returned to normal. Vanthus' trail went cold and slowly Lavinia's burning desire for justice faded as her focus moved on. She spent more time reading her mother's journal and eventually decided to carry on her parent's ambitions.

They had started a trading colony on the far off Isle of Dread. The local natives were reasonably friendly and willing to trade local spices and exotic lumber. Many exotic animals live on the island that can fetch a good price is brought back to civilization.

Lavinia was looking for a second ship for the expedition and the PCs had just the ship in mind. They returned to Kraken's cove to find the Sea Wyvern right where they'd last seen it. They sailed it back to port and offered to leave it to Lavinia in exchange for some magic items.

As the departure day draws nearer the ships are being loaded with cargo and potential colonists and investors are being sought.

So far the crew includes:

Isis: Pilot
Kaeless: Navigator
Amella Venkalie: First Mate. A slight but powerful woman with fine blonde hair tied neatly back from her forehead. She dresses to fight and sail. A thin scar graces her right cheek.

Tavey Nesk: Cabinboy

McDougal: Crew
Trevain: Crew
Bytor: Crew
Iowa: Crew
Johnston: Crew
Marty: Crew
Barth: Crew
Mango: Crew
Lirith Veld: Crew. A red haired tomboy sailor who wears flamboyant scarves and silks.

Father Feres: Middle aged balding priest of Abadar

Avner Meravanchi: A local nobleman's son. His father is funding part of the expedition and Avner is representing that interest.
Banaby Chisk: Avner's servant
Quenge Asper: Avner's servant
Skald: A shifty-looking, hunch shouldered man with pale skin a nasally voice and unsettling eyes.

Morton Longfellow: an eccentric scholar of Olman civilization. Has requested a stop at the Ruins of Tamoachan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thoughts on the Arcanist class

Is the Arcanist the best arcane spellcasting class in Pathfinder? For this comparison, I will be leaving aside the Magus and the Bloodrager, which are really martial classes that use arcane spells to improve their combat abilities. The true arcane spellcasting classes, in my opinion, are the Wizard, the Sorcerer, the Bard and the Arcanist.

Advantages - medium BAB advancement, decent weapon and armour proficiencies, lots of skill points, healing magic, two good saves, best "face" in the game
Disadvantages - medium spell advancement, heavily-weighted toward mind-affecting magic, no high-level spells

Synopsis - Limited combat ability, decent, but not great spellcasting, some healing, vulnerable to creatures with resistance to mind-affecting magic
Nemeses - undead, constructs, high SR creatures

Advantages - good spell advancement, high-level spells, good balance of spells, one major stat
Disadvantages - low skill points, poor weapon and armour proficiencies, underwhelming bloodline abilities, limited metamagics

Synopsis - poor combat abilities, yet many bloodlines encourage melee, good spellcasting
Nemeses - constructs, high SR creatures

Advantages - best spell advancement, high-level spells, good balance of spells, one major stat, unlimited metamagics, low skill points balanced by high INT
Disadvantages - poor weapon and armour proficiencies

Synopsis - poor combat abilities, best spellcasting
Nemeses - constructs, high SR creatures

Advantages - good spell advancement, high-level spells, good balance of spells, many supernatural abilities, unlimited metamagics
Disadvantages - low skill points, poor weapon and armour proficiencies, two major stats

Synopsis - poor combat abilities, good spellcasting, supernatural abilities
Nemeses - you tell me...other arcane spellcasters, perhaps

Based on this analysis, I call it a toss-up between Wizard and Arcanist. The Bard makes a great addition to a party, especially when a lot of social interaction is involved, but you definitely don't want him to be your sole arcane spellcaster. The Sorcerer is also pretty good, but there are too many conflicting abilities. The supernatural attacks of the Arcanist are great for dealing with monsters that have high SR and really good saves, but they still require a ranged touch attack, so a decent DEX and a couple of ranged attack feats are essential. This forces the Arcanist to spread himself a bit thin compared to the Wizard. Otherwise, the Arcanist is solid, with a wide variety of abilities and no obvious weaknesses.


Note: In hindsight, I realize I didn't consider the Witch in my analysis. I have never played one, so I have little experience with the class. Perhaps Obiri can enlighten us and make an argument for the Witch class.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Savage Tide 3 There is no Honor - The Bullywug Gambit

We are playing back to back weekends so I have to get this updated or else I'll fall behind.

We left off with the PCs deep in the Lotus Dragons Guild lair. I realized that most of the remainder of the guild that was unexplored would fit on a roll out map so I drew it all out a head of time and only left out a few secret doors and hallways.

Heading towards the main part of the Thieves' base, the party triggered a trap and half of the fell down a chute and landed in should deep water. A mystery woman's voice taunted them a bit before a large crocodile attacked them. Bytor and Trevain lowered a rope down for Isis, McDougal and Kaeless allowing them to escape after Isis put down the Gator.

Rogues harassed the party as they continued exploring, popping out from behind corners and taking sneak attacks before trying to disappear again. Eventually they made it to the where the rogue's boss was waiting. A big brawl ensued but most of the thieves were knocked out immediately when Trevain hit them with a Sleep spell. He proceeded to end the sleeping thieves' lives while the rest battled the now invisible Guild boss and her bard enhanced pet Drake.

Rowyn sang her bardic tune while Guttugger tried to chomp on the PCs. It took some effort but eventually they managed to kill Guttugger. Rowyn cursed them and became silent. The PCs did their best to keep her from escaping but somehow she got away. Stealth + invisibility is tough for 2rd level PCs to over come.

They searched the rest of the lair and this time managed to break into the part of the guild that they couldn't reach their first attempt. They found Rowyn's bedroom which contained lots of fine clothes and jewelry as well as some spicy letters from Vanthus. They also found the vault. Some of Lavinia's family gold was still here which they returned to her. There was also lots of unmarked funds which they kept for themselves. Lavinia would also reward them for their honesty so they ended up with a pretty good score loot wise.

Going through the letters reveled some hints of details to Vanthus' plans. His other lover has connections with the Crimson Fleet and the two of them are going to go rob the pirates of their loot at a location called Kraken's Cove.

The PCs do some research and discover the location of the cove and then rent a boat to make the trip. It takes them about 8 hours in their little sail/row boat to make the trip. As they approach they see smoke rising from the cove. The source are three fairly large sailing ships that are burning. There is a fourth ship moored further out which seems to be unharmed.

This ship, the Sea Wyvern, is both deserted and in full working order. The PCs are a bit hesitant when they realize that the ship belongs to the Crimson Fleet and so they decide to leave it alone. They do spot something weird on the beach. Two pirates are walking along the water's edge but they've changed in some way. They've been mutated some how and now have extra limbs, tentacles, teeth, claws, horns and all arranged in very unnatural ways.

The PCs engage the two on the beach to discover that these things have a nasty habit of first taking a death bite just as they are killed and then exploding into pools of acid. The Golden Retrievers explore the beach but only find a cave entrance. Going inside the find the place filled with horrors. Half eaten and mauled bodies are everywhere with many more mutant pirates wandering around looking for another meal. The PCs even do battle with a mutated Oviraptor.

Killing mutants as they go, in the deepest cave they finally find someone unmutated and alive. Captain Harliss Javell is battling a few mutants but with the PCs help finishes them off quickly. She explains what happened.

Vanthus and his lover showed up and posed as potential buyers. The pirates allowed them to hang around until the next shipment of goods showed up which included a black pearl the size of your fist.  When the goods arrived and were being unloaded Vanthus dropped whale oil into the bay and lit it on fire. As the pirates fled, Vanthus and his lady slipped on board and started stealing the choicest loot. Javell caught them and began a duel. Vanthus was losing badly and dropped the now blood covered pearl he had grabbed which dropped to the desk and cracked. If began oozing some sort of foul smoke. Alarmed, Javell tossed the pearl into the bay but it exploded releasing a wave of madness and evil. Javell and Vanthus were both unaffected but most were turned into the hideous mutants that they had seen. Vanthus fled by leaping into the bay, but Javell returned to the caves to try to restore order and rescue any still unchanged. She and another pirate captain had survived for a while but he had recently been overwhelmed.

Javell realized that if the PCs had made it this far the path behind them was likely clear. Isis escorted her out of the caves while the remaining PCs searched for more loot. Javell warned Isis of her revenge. She had sent her First Mate Drevoraz back to Eleder to deal with Vanthus. He was headed to the Vanderboren Manor where he would slay Vanthus, his mother, his father, and his dear sister Lavinia, then burn everything to the ground. No one messes with the Crimson Fleet. Now she was leaving here ASAP and he better not try and stop her.  Isis tried to get her to stop her first mate since Lavinia and Vanthus don't exactly get along but she Javell didn't trust them and was having none of it. Isis let her go in peace.

With the caves clear of mutants, the PCs decided to quickly get back to Eleder and save their boss. Unfortunately the gods are cruel this day and high winds and rough seas make it impossible for the PCs to leave immediately. They must spend the night in the cove before they can leave when things calm down in the morning.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Savage Tide 2 There is No Honor

Where is Vanthus Vanderboren?

The only clues Lavinia could offer the PCs is that she'd heard Vanthus was shacking up with some artist in the Azure district of the city.

With only that weak lead the Azures shuffled over to the Azure district and started asking around. Lots of people knew Vanthus and many had seen him - just not recently. After posting rewards for information about his whereabouts, the party were contacted by a shifty half elf named Sefton Rosk who claimed to know where Vanthus was hiding out. The party was suspicious but with no other leads they accepted his offer to lead the party to Parrot Island where Vanthus was hiding in some old smuggler caverns.

Sefton led them to the island, up through the thick vegetation along a well trodden path. At a small clearing was a trap door leading into the earth. Sefton offered to stay behind and watch the boat and the PCs, though again suspicious, agreed.

Spying on Sefton a bit, the PCs decided it was safe to descend. The half elf was nervous but didn't seem like he was going to betray them. Climbing down the rope ladder the PCs found them in a dark dank smell passage. As they slowly crept down the tunnel, they heard a noise coming from the room with the ladder, like a heavy weight being dropped from a height. They quickly return to the room to find the body of Sefton lying at the base of the ladder. A figure could be seen above silhouetted by the light. He called down, "Say 'Hi' to Penkus' ghost for me while you are down there. Later losers." He then slammed the trap door shut and started moving heavy rocks to cover it.

The PCs took this instride and searched Sefton's body to see if he still had the money the PCs had paid him to take them to Parrot Island. He did so the PCs felt a little better about their situation.

This didn't last long as they started to explore. The whole place echoed with strange noises. Some of was probably a sea cave but some of it sounded like moaning. It didn't take too long to find the source of both. Sections of these caves were flooded and there were a bunch of zombies down here. The PCs quickly figured out how to deal with the zombies - attack them and move away. Zombies are slow. Things got a little more complicated when they ran into the Huecuva but since they'd found a silver dagger then eventually managed to kill it without getting infected by its contagion.

With the smuggler cave's undead occupants all dead, the PCs found the smugglers vault with some treasure remaining. The key item was an Earth Elemental Gem which was used to remove the debris from the trap door and allow the PCs to escape. Just outside the vault the PCs found the body of Penkus. He had been trapped down here and left to die. He has become infected by the Huecuva and had slowly wasted away. He managed to pen a letter begging for revenge.

The gist of the letter is that Penkus no realizes what Vanthus' game plan is: to get in with the Lady of the Lotus  and with Penkus out of the way it should be easier. Penkus reveals an entrance to the Lotus Thieves Guild where Vanthus should be. There is a trap door in the Taxidermist's guild hall that leads into the Lotus guild.

The PCs returned to Lavinia's manor  to report what they'd discovered and recover. The next day they bought a few supplies in towns and with two late PCs in tow, they strolled over to the Taxidermist Guildhall.

No one greeted them at the front door but a plethora or stuffed beasts all all shapes, sizes and prices. Rather than ding the bell for service they let themselves into the back of the shop area and started to search around.

The Guildmaster, Nemien Roblach was not pleased to see them and after quickly determining that they were not here to buy, order them to get out. Trevain tossed a Sleep spell at him and knocked Nemien out.

The PCs quickly found the trap door leading down in the thieves guild. The party found a training room and battled a few thieves but one escaped. They chased after him but between another Rhagodessa and a solidly locked door, the thief escaped.

The PCs had a debate about whether or not it was evil to kill sleeping rogues but then accidentally woke them up. The rogues were killed and the PCs explored a bit more of the underground lair before we called it a night.

Next time: The Lady of the Lotus.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Savage Tide 1 There is No Honor Intro

The Golden Retrievers are a recently formed mercenary/adventure group. There first mission was success retrieving some rare mushrooms from a far off jungle and now they are looking for their second gig. While hanging out at the local adventurer's guild, the Drunken Dragon, the  team were approached by a young child carrying a note. The note read:

"Greetings, and I trust this missive finds you in good health! My name is Lavinia Vanderboren and I humbly request your attendance at dinner at my estate on Festival Street and Blue Skink Lane tomorrow evening. I think that I can present you with an opportunity uniquely suited to your skills. Please inform the carrier of this letter of your response to this invitation and I hope I will b speaking to you soon."

The PCs accepted the invitation and showed up at the Vanderboren estate the next evening in their adventuring gear. The had no trouble getting past the guard and upon knocking on the door met Lavinia's chief servant, the old halfing woman Kora Whistlegap. She escorted them to the dining room and helped them get settled. While waiting for Lavinia to arrive they encountered another group of adventurers pass through. Kaeless recognized as members of the Jade Ravens, another of Eleder's adventuring parties, which have been in Lavinia's employ for a couple years.

After dinner and a bit of small talk Lavinia got down to business. Her parents had recently died in a boating accident and she had inherited their estate and a large number of debts. There should be enough money in the family vault to cover everything but she did not yet have one of the signet rings that would allow passage. Her mother's ring had gone missing over a month ago, and her father's was kept on his ship, the Blue Nixie. Because no one had been paying docking fees, the ship has been impounded by the harbor master. She paid the fine to one of his employees, Soller Vark. She didn't think to get a receipt but the man then claimed to have never received the payment. The PCs first task is to get Lavinia access to her father's former ship so that she can reclaim his ring. Idealy this will be achieved in a lawful manner but the exact method was left to the PCs.

The PCs went down to the docks in the evening only to find the Blue Nixie was no longer where it had been docked. Trevain the sharp eyed elf spotted the ship anchored further out in the bay. After renting a row boat, the PCs rowed out and climbed up onto the ship trying to be as quiet as they could. There were two guards on the deck and the PCs managed to quietly knock one unconscious with a sleep spell but the other one escaped into the hold.

The PCs slammed the trap door to the hold shut and prepared for battle. A number of scruffy humans emerged from another entrance to the hold and began to battle the PCs. Several of Vark's guards were hit with a fire spell and jumped into the water to escape. One tried to steal the PC's rowboat but was dispatched by Trevain's arrow. Vark was rendered unconscious but not before smoke began to pour out of the hold of the ship. Kaeless tried to descend the ladder that they had initially blocked only to encounter another ruffian trying to escape. The fire in the hold was panicking the animals and numerous exotic monkeys, and birds escaped. Also in the hold was a strange arachnid type creature that managed to break free of its cage. This beast killed the poor girl who had set the fire and too big chunks out of most of the PCs before they finally brought it down.

Vark was tied up and the PCs began to search the ship. They managed to find Verik Vanderboren's ring as well as a piece of parchment that listed some numbers. Lavinia was thrilled to hear of the PCs success and after freeing Vark they set off to Castle Teraknian to enter the Vanderboren vault.

They entered and encountered the vault guardian - an iron cobra. Kaeless was fascinated with it and wanted to keep it. It was ordered back to its alcove. In order to open the inner chamber a secret door needed to be opened. The slip of parchment found on the Blue Nixie corresponded to the number of eyes of the many examples of creatures depicted on the walls of the vault. The PCs activated the creatures in the correct order and access to the inner vault was granted.

Lavinia was upset to find that many of the chests were empty but there was still enough left to pay off the PCs as well provide a list of a large number of debts that were owed to the Vanderborens. Upon leaving Lavinia asked the custodian if anyone else had entered the vault lately. The man admitted that he had seen her brother Vanthus enter a few times, the last only a few days ago. Lavinia was quite shocked by this as she had believed he had left town.

Lavinia provides some backstory about her brother. They used to be close but after getting caught committing a major prank, he was sent to do a few years of hard labour and she was sent to a special school for girls where she was taught proper manners. After they reunited, her brother was no longer the free spirit of his youth but had a hard edge to him and he had started hanging out on the wrong crowd. They no longer got along and after one argument he hit her. He was shocked for a moment only for the hardness to return and he stormed off. When her parents had died he was furious that they had made Lavinia their sole benefactor. After another fight, he packed his bags and left the estate. Lavinia had assumed hed left town but apparently he is still around.

Lavinia tasked the PCs to find her brother and return him to the manor so they can talk.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Major Players of Savage Tide

This post denotes key characters in the Savage Tide campaign. I will update and add details to each character as we go.

The Cast:
Lavinia Vanderboren

Her parents have died in a boating accident leaving her in charge of the family estate. She has hired a new group of adventurers to help her reclaim the family fortune and pay off some debts.

Jessica of Waldsby 
Leader of the Jade Ravens, the other adventuring group working for Lavinia

Ruggan the Dwarf
A member of the Jade Ravens

A member of the Jade Ravens

Morgoth the Mighty
Member of the Jade Ravens

Vanthus Vanderboren

Lavinia's brother. Missing for the last month, it is now believed he has recently stolen some of the Vanderboren family fortune. The PCs current task is to find him.

And the PCs: (I will add more PC pics as they send them to me
Trevain the Arcanist
Trevain Avallorn was born to a small tribe of nomadic desert elves that wandered back and forth across the desolate wastes of Osirion and Thuvia. Originally descended from wild elves of the Mwangi Expanse that migrated north during the time of the great ancient Osirian empire, Trevain’s people retained much of the knowledge of that time, knowledge that had mostly been lost by the human descendants of the ancient Osirians.

Trevain was fascinated by stories of the great Ancient Osirian mages and their Elder Elemental allies. Being a talented practitioner of the magical arts in his own right and desiring to learn more than his fellow nomads could teach him, Trevain journeyed to Sothis, capital city of modern Osirion. Sadly, Trevain was gravely disappointed by what he saw. The human inhabitants knew virtually nothing of their former greatness, having only recently overthrown their Keleshite rulers. They were debased and avaricious. Even the most learned among them seemed only interested in using their intellects for selfish purposes. Still, Trevain remained in Sothis for a decade, learning what he could from the fragmented remains of Osirion’s great libraries.

During his time in Sothis, Trevain learned of a technique by which the Ancient Osirians could fuse elemental and human bloodlines to create the first Ifrits, Undines, Oreads and Sylphs. The Keleshites would later consort with genies, creating weaker, degenerate versions of these original geniekin. Yet, Trevain was fascinated by these original elemental bloodlines. He moved on to Absalom, the scholarly capital of the Inner Sea, in order to continue his studies. There he learned of another ancient civilization, the Shory Empire, which was most known for its great flying cities. The Ruins of Kho, in the northern reaches of the Mwangi Expanse, which Trevain had heard of during his youth, were the crashed remains of one such city. Trevain theorized that the Shory were inheritors of ancient Osirian magic. He decided he had learned all he could in Absalom and booked passage to Sargava, the most southern outpost of the Inner Sea nations in Garund. He would spend several years there learning what he could and eventually becoming entangled with a group of fools called the Golden Retrievers. But that is a story for another time.


Isis grew up on the island of Aegos in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. His family was all fisherman and by the age of 14 Isis ran away to find something new and exciting. Instead he entered virtual slavery aboard a privateer. By 18 he had moved through the ranks and was looked on as a risk because of his popularity with the rest of the crew. Understanding his predicament, he ran and travelled far to the south to avoid his old crew.
On his way south Isis met with Kaeless a fellow traveller with a strange brother. One of the largest problems Isis has run into is the huge difference in how his crew and culture in general treated women and the ways in more civilized parts. This has led to many miss understandings and a few angry mobs. Isis Cosby has vowed to try and understand theses strange southerners and do better here.

"My brother and I were raised in the northern city of Riddleport.  He was never really accepted in Riddleport, so we had to live in hiding or on the periphery of the city.  Still, the scummy citizens of that diseased port eventually turned on us and drove us out.  We happily left, joining The Run from last season.
"I met Isis on the long voyage.  Of all the creatures on that ship, Isis alone was worth any conversation and camaraderie.  Isis was kind to my brother and I appreciated his rapist wit.  It was on that voyage that we decided to work together at the terminus of our long voyage.
"if the pay is good, and there is a chance to uncover lost knowledge in dark jungles of the south, I will always be interested in working with the Retrievers.  I know you all have good intentions and that I can rely on your powers when the time comes."

Kaeless is a human that speaks very little.  However, when he speaks, it is for a good reason.  He is curt, sometimes abrasive and seems to have little appreciation or patience for social graces.  Still, he is loyal, brave and seems to use his abilities for the benefit of all the Retrievers.  While his blunt tongue seems to chafe with the public, it is clear that he has no ulterior motives and says exactly what is on his mind.

Another curious point about Kaeless regards his brother.  His brother resides in Eleder but not a single retriever has actually interacted with him.  Kaeless seems to spend a large portion of his gold buying supplies for his brother...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And we're back! Savage Tide

Things have gotten a little dusty around the blog as no one has felt like posting much this year. Hopefully that is about to change. We kicked off a new campaign last weekend, an old Paizo Dungeon adventure path - The Savage Tide.

We played the opening session where we finalized the PCs, worked out background details and got the story rolling. I will try to do recaps in the future and as soon as I get the notes from last session finalized I'll post the first recap.