Monday, December 15, 2014

A Slight Detour and Tala Monastery (Pathfinder - Wrath of the Righteous)

Sometimes you need a break from sword swinging action and you just want to give your players (or in my case, a solo player) a bit of a taste of something new.  So one fair day during Demon's Heresy, I had Commander Irabeth suggest that Alfy take his very potent sword to somewhere larger and sell it for the kind of dough they need to refurbish the castle. 

That idea gained traction with the other party NPCs (barbarian Jestak wants a holiday), and soon they were planning to take Asmean (half-Invidiak Expert 1 whose good penances have inadvertently shifted him to temporary neutrality and who had been under the care of the high level witch in Drezen) and the rest of the party to pop over to Absalom by calling upon Pathfinder resources in Nerosyan.  Or at least, trying to do so.

Naturally nothing is ever simple, and after a confrontation with Commander Fraton (yep, *that* Fraton for all ye who have read The Worldwound Gambit) whereby he tried to convince Alfy to sterilise the tieflings rather than abide their taint and possibility of slaying women in childbirth (demoralising points, but ones Alfy brushed off), the party were teleported to Nerosyan.

Asmean used Terendelev's scale to look human.  Alfy used Disguise Self.  Lex used her collar of change self to make her look again like an adolescent elf.  They found themselves in a city under siege but eventually made their way to Starrise Spire.  It took some fighting through a variety of demons (largely handwaived) but eventually they made it and the sole occupant of the Pathfinder Lodge stated he'd get them to Absalom if they helped out the Pathfinders first with a little mission.  He let them stay in a large room that was mostly swimming pool and bunks where time flowed more quickly (as opposed to the world outside) so that they could replenish their spells.

Naturally Lestak took the opportunity to proposition Alfy.  Again.  Even Lestak wasn't brave enough to proposition the half-Invidiak.

Anyway, so they left Asmean in the tower to read some books with the nice wizard (hoping his envy won't get the better of him and make him attack anyone but being a weak little level 1 has its perks), and were teleported to Gundrun to meet with Venture-Captain Jorsal.  We played through the "Weapons in the Rift" Pathfinder Society adventure and he even released the fiendish CN hound archons (whom he will later find in Drezen since they have to atone before being allowed back among the ranks).

Once that was done, he returned only for Venture Captain Jorsal to point out that the Pathfinder Society were planning a fundraising dinner (aka "The Hellknight's Feast" Pathfinder Society adventure) but that visiting Absalom with a wealth of items to sell / auction would be useful.  How to get enough items?  Why, locate Terendelev's hoard, of course!  She would naturally want her hoard to go toward the efforts of the Worldwound due to her death.

Where to find her hoard?  Well, she was known to visit the Tala Monastery, of course.  (See The Worldwound Gambit novel or google around for its history in Mendev).

So they are teleported to Kenabres (via a Teleportation Circle) to the basement of a small Pathfinder holding and given a code phrase that was answered incorrectly by the first person they see and whom they soon realise is an Invidiak in possession of a Pathfinder.  A mixture of grapple, Protection from Evil and Arrow of Law (which wouldn't harm the lawful Pathfinder) got her depossessed and the Invidiak destroyed.

It turns out that Venture Captain Thurl had called her out to a dangerous mission that led to her possession and that she was made to give sleeping draughts to the other Pathfinders in the house so that they could all be possessed that night by more Invidiaks.  The group then returned via Teleportation Circle to report in to Venture Captain Jorsal who directed them to Thurl's personal quarters in the basement of the tower (see "The Traitor's Lodge" Pathfinder Society scenario).  They make their way through a modified version of that scenario and convince a modified version of the madwoman to assist them (after manacling her and dropping a failed smite on her).

The madwoman, still nameless to them, turned out to be a rogue who had broken into the Tala Monastery before (actually the reason why Thurl took her in my version).  She could get them in to the monastery again.

They return to Kenabres and are given magical mounts which helps them make their way to the Tala Monastery.  They have to wait until dawn before the madwoman can find where the light hits right so that she can dig open a hidden trapdoor.  They enter a series of magically preservative cellars, a few of them cooled by ice elementals that also function as traps for the unwary.

Basically it went beer cellar, elemental trapped door, ramped series of alcoves containing various divisions of fish and animals, dual portcullis landing whose portcullis contained an Open / Close haunt that slammed it shut (almost on top of Eliska) and trapped Eliska and Alfy in the same room as a revenant covered in bloody pustules (soon identified as the Blood Veil from "Curse of the Crimson Throne" adventure path).  They defeated the revenant, moved through the second portcullis, and found a variety of bodies laid out across the floor.

Checking one for evidence of the disease, released a "Paralysis" haunt combined with a "Stench" effect as Eliska saw the corpse reach out and grab her wrist, shortly before she started exuding a terrible smell.  Lex destroyed all the diseased bodies after that through the use of her negative energy breath weapon (which can affect undead and therefore hopefully disease itself).

They open another elemental trapped door (thus far springing no traps) and find themselves surrounded by an Obscuring Fog trap as ghosts of the previous inhabitants are seen to run perpetually down the stairs as though to try to get into the basements.  A pile of bloody and desperate bodies are found on the floor by the door.  They head upstairs and both Lestak and Alfy are beset by two Halfling ghosts who each leap on their backs, putting them under the effects of a Slow spell, with an accompanying sensation like they are being coaxed into the centre of the room where two Halfling corpses lie dead.

They do go over there (hearing a Suggestion Haunt whisper for them to stay the night, though they shake that off) and find a Dawnflowers Light and a spellbook containing a bard and wizard spell that makes summoning increasing difficult, aka Anti-Summoning Shield, and a musical sheet that described a bardic spell that nullifies telepathy, aka Telepathic Censor (see Demonslayer's Guide).  Alfy learned the two spells (had a few bardic spell gaps), took the lantern, and they moved on to the rearmost chambers rather than go immediately upstairs.

The first corridor had a spike trap, rusted, but spikes could be vaguely seen dripping blood from the walls (Phantom Trap Haunt with added peril of Blood Veil infection due to a modified Contagion Haunt attachment) but the trap is destroyed through some curative magic.  They find the rooms have various beds attached and they fight a couple more revenants while battered by a Solid Fog spell (again the image of ghosts flitting here and there).

Finally they reach a large dining area where a Bastion Banner to Shelyn flutters over the fireplace.  There were three haunts at the fireplace, the first being a Suggestion to light the fire which would lead to a trail of other haunts (see Haunts for Houses 3rd party supplement), but Alfy shrugs that one off.  As he gets too close to the fireplace, a female ghostly image (another haunt) appears and splits black blood at him, which draws the ire of two unique allips (using the stats from The Weapon in the Rift) who promptly tear Alfy's Wisdom down to 5.  Once defeated, Alfy touches the mantle as he grabs the banner and promptly fails his save against an Insanity haunt that makes him Phobic about demons.

Cautious about expending their Restoration potions and unsure about exactly what happened to Alfy, other than that he got touched a lot by the allips, Eliska tried to simply get him to rest but not before he kissed her, trapped her in a hug, and said that she was pretty.  She didn't pull away (being very much in love with him, though due to her stoic Nidalese nature he is entirely unaware of this) but did convince him to rest a bit until his nightmares woke him up again and she gave him the restoration potion that restored his senses (leaving him feeling very embarrassed).

The rest of the place was relatively easy to explore and they found a bunch of Yath worshippers (who'd gone mad from their dreams) dead from starvation in the old Abbesses bedroom (where they had been locked by the saner inhabitants until such time as a cure could be found).  Three circular orbs (imperfect as they were) had been removed from a nearby dresser (saturated with the hauntings' might).

They located a barrel of Abjurant Salt, barrel of Grave Salt and two barrels of Tala Oil (latter is pretty much akin to protection from evil with a little protection from mind control thrown in that lasts for 6 hours a dab).

They also find notes on Terendelev's potential hoard in another desk which they take to mean a certain waterfall along a tributary in Mendev of the West Sellen River (based off the Silver Dragon's hoard in Dragon's Unleashed).  They also find a lecture list in the main lecture hall that mentioned the name of a new visitor to the monastery they had allowed in for his impressive medical knowledge - a man named Rolth (also from the Curse of the Crimson Throne).

I'm using a few references to the Curse of the Crimson Throne because I have those books in hard cover (therefore easy and cost effective to re-use) and because the books are damn creepy.  Rolth has been resurrected (as has Fraton) and was given the job of corrupting the orbs and removing those who could make the Tala Salve (though he left a few barrels of it behind, not realising what it was).

Terendelev's hoard will be protected by a Hezrou and a Gibrileth demon rather than the dark fey found in the Dragon's Unleashed version, who is hoping to befoul the waters running downstream.  It's a bit too much for the PCs to take on at once though so they will need to use cunning, stealth and guile -- and likely an invisibility potion or two -- before heading into the dragon's head entrance (in this case, it is trapped with a Holy Word from a 14th level caster).  The trap resets itself each day and it's the main reason why the first demons who came to try to re-take the hoard disappeared.  Once Yath was destroyed, the main person with information on the hoard also died, therefore none of the other demons are aware of it.

Once the PCs get inside, they'll have no further trouble as no one else has disturbed the hoard.  The hoard contains much of the listed items in the book but there will also be some evil items and nasty statuettes that she claimed but couldn't -- or wouldn't -- destroy.  Since much of her wealth was tied up in Mendevian interests, she could mostly keep those items that either wouldn't sell or wouldn't sell well.  Of course, with a Purity Forge, the evil magics can at least be swapped to something worthwhile.

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