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Kingmaker: Stolen Land, Session 7, Part 1

December 10, 2013

Policeman-Getting-Tripped

A story told in three acts.

1. The End of Grabbles, King of the Mites Under the Old Sycamore

After a small talk about tactics with the players, we resumed the battle against Grabbles, king of the mites. Up till this point, the PCs had been nearly unable to hit Grabbles’ AC of 20, in part because of the low ceilings (-2 to hit for Medium-size creatures), and in part because they were all wannabe archers without the necessary feats (-4 to hit for firing into melee). And in part because they were only 2nd level and were out of spells.

But the session started off with a bang, when Iofur the druid remembered that he had a tanglefoot bag! He pulled it out of his pack and tossed it at Grabbles. It was a touch attack, but still a risky proposition given all of the aforementioned penalties. But he hit, and Grabbles failed his Reflex save! The small blue king was now entangled and rooted to the spot by alchemical goo. The crowd of mites that had been cheering their king on from the sidelines wailed in response.

Even so, Grabbles fought on. He threw javelins and, when those ran out, managed to rip the sticky goo from the ground, allowing him to move once more. He picked up his trident, prepared to attack, and… was taken out by a critical hit from Halas the inquisitor’s crossbow. At this point, Halas was an NPC (his player had to suddenly move out of state), but the character was being run by the player of one of the unconscious PCs. That we had some NPCs for the those players to make use of turned out to be critical, as the downed PCs would not be getting up until late into the night.

With Grabbles down, the party breathed a sigh of relief while the remaining mites shrieked and fled. The PCs bound Grabbles’ wounds and tied him up, intending to make a gift of him to the Sootscale kobolds. Then they grabbed the statue of Old Sharptooth, looted the king’s body and the mites’ treasury, and dragged the fallen to the surface. Outside, the sun was shining. It felt like ages had passed since they had entered the hive, but only a couple of hours had passed; it wasn’t even noon yet.

2. What To Do With Old Sharptooth?

Stolen Land 5bShould the party rest and recover some hit points, or press on? The surviving heroes decide to travel straight to the kobolds’ cave rather than spend any more time near the mites’ lair. They tied down the unconscious folks (Salar the halfling ranger, Travaris the cleric, and Mikmek the kobold, along with Grabbles) to their horses and set out over the hills. By dusk they were dismounting in front of the old silver mine that the Sootscale kobolds called home.

The kobolds were very excited to see them, especially after the party started tossing coppers out into the crowd that was forming around them. When they held up the statue of Old Sharptooth, the kobolds ooh’d and aah’d. The tall ones had returned with their idol! The crowd headed inside, towards Chief Sootscale’s cave, to deliver the good news. The adventurers followed, reluctantly leaving their fallen companions secured to the horses outside.

However, they didn’t quite make it to the chieftan. As they followed the kobolds through the old mine, the passageway in front of them rumbled, and then magically sealed shut like an iris door. From a side tunnel, the purple-scaled shaman Tartuk stepped out of the shadows. “Do not let their filthy hands sully Old Sharptooth for one moment longer, my brothers,” he said, pointing at the ivory idol held by the PCs. “Or He will surely grow angry… and you all know that only blood can quench His fury!”

The kobolds, already shaken by the magically sealed passage, reacted with fear at Tartuk’s appearance and words. Mestinous translated the shaman’s orders into the common tongue for the rest of the party, who acted quickly. Satampra the rogue passionately defended their caretaking of Old Sharptooth, noting that they were the ones who had liberated him. Not to mention that they had also rescued Mikmek, captured the mite king, and stolen his treasure, all at the behest of the chieftan (and against Tartuk’s wishes!). Mestinous translated as best he could, while Halas threw out more coppers taken from the aforementioned treasure. The kobolds grasped their new shiny coins and nodded their heads in agreement.

But Tartuk did not take this usurpation of his authority lightly. He was the shaman of the tribe. Only he knew how to interpret Old Sharptooth’s omens. When the Sootscales had defied Sharptooth’s commands in the past, they had suffered for it, had they not? Just as Tartuk said they would. If the tribe wanted to live, they needed to wrest the idol from the tall ones’ grasp and hand it over to him!

Satampra listened intently as Mestinous translated the shaman’s yips and yaps. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a piece of paper they had found in Grabbles’ throne room and started to wave it in the air. The paper was just an accounting of what the mites and kobolds had managed to steal from one another in the course of their conflict, but it was written in undercommon (which none of the PCs could read), so they didn’t know that. But they figured the kobolds couldn’t read it, either. “Tartuk has been in league with the mites this whole time! And this piece of paper proves it! He let those blue bastards steal Old Sharptooth, and then tried to stop us from getting him back! It’s all right here on this paper!”

The mob gasped at the sudden revelations and turned to Tartuk, who was so shocked at audacity of the humans’ lie that he was reduced to sputtering. Finally he managed to screech, “You lie!” But his spell over the Sootscales had been broken, and the ash-colored kobolds advanced on their shaman. Tartuk promised death to the party and then disappeared in a puff of smoke.

3. The End of Tartuk, Fake Shaman, Fake Kobold

With everyone again in good cheer, the crowd  took an alternate route to Chief Sootscale’s chamber, avoiding the sealed passageway. The chieftain grabbed Old Sharptooth from Mestinous’ grasp, stared at it for several long moments, and then finally threw it to the floor, shattering it. Everyone in the room fell into a shocked silence. “The curse has been lifted!” he proclaimed. “No more will that devil torment my tribe! No more will we sacrifice our comrades to that fiend!” The chieftain drew his sword and pointed towards Tartuk’s cave. “Now, we will deal with the one who brought it here. The one who has usurped my rule. Now we kill Tartuk!” The assembled kobolds cheered and followed Chief Sootscale as he marched towards the shaman’s lair. The PCs trailed behind the mob.

Tartuk lived in a large cave with a lot of alcoves and two exits at opposite ends. Tall wooden partitions, covered in colorful banners, concealed the rough rock walls and blocked the far exit. In the center of the room, a cauldron bubbled over with a strange liquid, and Tartuk stood behind it with a raven perched on his shoulder. The chieftain proudly stood before the purple kobold and informed him that his time was over, but the shaman simply grinned. Tartuk waved a hand, chanted some arcane words of power, and sprinkled some sand over the cauldron. All of the kobolds, save for Chief Sootscale, promptly fell into a deep slumber.

The party was not in good shape for a fight – they were still out of spells, down on hit points, and the ranger and cleric were unconscious. They had been hoping that the kobolds would carry the brunt of the fight, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen. Halas and Mestinous stepped over the sleeping kobolds to fire their weapons at Tartuk, but their bolts and arrows bounced off of the shaman’s magical shields. The others busied themselves with slapping the cannon fodder, err I mean the kobolds, awake. Chief Sootscale stabbed at the shaman, to little effect.

Tartuk cast spell after spell as he backed towards the far exit, while his raven familiar pecked at those assaulting his master. The deep sleep spells kept the kobold mooks and half of the remaining party out of the fight, but Satampra, Halas, and Mestinous (who, as an elf, was immune to sleep) soldiered on. Halas ditched his crossbow for his sickle, and charged into melee with Satampra and Chief Sootscale. But in the process, he knocked down the wooden partition that was blocking the far exit. Tartuk, now mostly surrounded and cornered, recognized the opportunity.

First the sorcerer cast invisibility. His attackers struggled to locate him, until Iofur cast create water over the area he thought Tartuk might be – and he was correct! The water washed over the invisible kobold, revealing his form for a moment. Tartuk proceeded to make a dash for the exit. But he had to run past Halas, who decided that he would just stick his leg out and try to trip the fleeing villain. And he succeeded! And with that one act, all of Tartuk’s power, all of his hatred, all of his dreams of death and destruction, was snuffed out. There’s nothing quite so devastating for a powerful and serious figure as a pratfall.

Before the sorcerer could recover, the PCs managed to grab him, and they held his invisible form for Chief Sootscale to pronounce judgment upon. And the chieftain’s judgment was death. Sootscale plunged his blade into Tartuk’s neck, and the visible blood came spurting out of the invisible wound.

The chieftain was, understandably, very grateful to the PCs for their help in freeing his tribe from Old Sharptooth and Tartuk. He gave them Tartuk’s possessions (which included a nice wand of magic missile, a journal that they couldn’t read, and a scroll of fly), as well as the tribe’s treasure (half of which was worthless but pretty rocks). The chieftain also allowed them to stay in the cave and rest up. The party spent nine days there, and in that time brokered a deal with the kobolds. The Sootscales would stop attacking humans, unless they wore the Stag Lord’s amulet. The tribe was also encouraged to start working the silver mine that they were living in, and trading the silver with Oleg for goods & services. Some PCs additionally tried to convince the kobolds to outlaw torture, slavery, and other evil stuff, which was not as successful.

Once he was fully rested, Travaris cast comprehend languages and deciphered the mite king’s paper and Tartuk’s journal. The journal revealed a bizarre tale about a purple-haired evil gnome that was reincarnated as a purple-scaled kobold. That purple kobold manipulated the local kobold tribe into wiping out his former gnome village, which devastated the kobolds in the process. Then he moved onto a new kobold tribe and did the same thing, again and again. The Sootscales were his latest project; he had used “Old Sharptooth” to push them into war with the mites and other humanoids in the area. Talk about your convoluted backstories…

And, finally, the group tried questioning Grabbles, who had been kept prisoner (and tortured!) by the kobolds. They asked him who the Mistress of Whispers was, but all he could say is that she was a powerful faerie who had claimed these lands, who would drive the humans out. Grabbles didn’t know much else, so the party left him in the care of the kobolds and prepared to head back out into the wild.

Next: rollin’ on the river.

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