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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 4, Part 2

May 22, 2014

Winter is Comi… Ah, Hells, It’s Here

snow-white-and-the-huntsman-still-snowy-castleAs the small town of Stagfell settled in for snow and sub-zero temperatures, the ruling council met to debate the pressing matters facing the colony. The first order of business: “Could someone please get this cursed vermin-infested robe off of me!” proclaimed spymaster Mestinous, elven wizard. “The fleas are driving me crazy!” Jhod Kavken, a humble priest of Erastil and current magister, promised to look into the matter. And it took a few weeks of Jhod praying to Erastil every day, but the robe’s curse was eventually lifted. On the one hand, I was a little saddened by this turn of events, as the robe’s significant mechanical penalties never came into play. On the other hand, we got some good laughs out of the situation at Mestinous’ expense, and really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

The second order of business was… a murder! The Lord Radovan Draganov had been poisoned, and the Lady Martina Vancura admitted to the dirty deed. But, she claimed, he had put a hex on her son, making him deathly ill, and so she was justified in killing him. The Vancuras and Draganovs were minor houses from Brevoy, both bannermen of House Orlovsky, one of Caerelia’s investors. The two houses had a running feud that went back centuries, and it seemed that they had brought it with them to the frontier.

In an attempt to prevent escalation of the conflict, Baron Satampra declared that the two families had to exchange wards (hostages, basically), and that the Lady Vancura would be confined to her house until the end of her days. Oh, and the houses had to jointly build a monument in town. The council failed the Loyalty check to end the feud, however. Neither house was happy with their decisions, and they were making their displeasure know publicly, increasing unrest.

But the council didn’t know that it wasn’t over until the following month, when someone torched Lady Vancura’s house. The lady survived, although the house did not. Obviously it was the work of the Draganovs in retaliation for the murder, but there was no proof of anything. So the Baron declared one of the Draganov scions to be guilty of the crime. They stripped him naked and paraded through town, and the peasants came out to throw ice and mud and jeers at the young man. That turn they did succeed the Loyalty check, and the feud was put on ice with minimal grumbling. For the time being…

Caerelia-turn5In more mundane decision-making, the council decreed that the kingdom should expand its borders to absorb the abandoned silver mine, now occupied by the Sootscale kobolds, and the potential gold mine to the north. The abandoned mine was restored to working condition, and a proper mine was built over the gold vein that Satampra the rogue discovered many moons ago. Roads were also built, and some farmland was developed near the gold mine. (click the image for a bigger picture)

Stagfell-turn5In Stagfell, a shrine to Gozreh was built, along with a water mill by the river. They skipped building anything in town on one winter turn, as a failed Economy check had left them short of funds. But they did wrangle a free monument out of the feuding houses. (click the image for a bigger picture)

The council also had a boat commissioned, one large enough to hold all of them. Incidentally, the prices for boats in Pathfinder (and 3e, presumably) are insane! 50 gp for a freaking rowboat?! What fisherman could afford that? Anyway, they were very eager to explore Lake Tuskwater by boat. Hopefully they will get to do so before they have easy access to spells like water breathing and water walking, because that would take all of the fun (for me) out of it.

During their ample free time, the nature-themed characters tried to put their ranks in Handle Animal to good use by training the party’s mounts for battle. But Boliden the barbarian was the only one who had any success – he managed to combat-train his horse and a couple of others as well.

Slaving Away

Before winter drew to a close, they had one final issue to deal with: citizens were being kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night! People were in a panic. Rather than let this fall to the NPCs, the players chose to solve the disappearances personally. Which is just as well, since I had prepared an encounter for this event (slavers). Salar the halfling ranger is an ex-slave, and is always looking to free people from slavery and/or oppression, so I thought he might be keen to get involved. But I played the setup too close to the chest, and they didn’t realize that they were dealing with slave-takers until the session was almost over.

As an aside, I’m still trying to work out how to run the kingdom events. If they are just some kingdom checks, as set forth in the rules, then the specific event (feuds, slavers, etc.) is just so much window dressing. If the PCs have some agency in how to handle the situation – I suppose I’m thinking more of ongoing events than one-offs – should that influence the kingdom check? Or perhaps replace it entirely? For now I’m trying to make the window dressing as interesting as I can, while upgrading some events to full encounter status.

But I digress. In the evening, the councilors equip themselves with warhorns and spread throughout their small town, eyes open for signs of kidnappers. They don’t spot much of anything, but after a few hours they hear a scream, and go running to the source. They find an empty home with signs of a struggle and tracks leading away. The tracks lead them to a crude structure made of rough-hewn logs nestled in the hills outside of Stagfell.

They watch the fort for a while, seeing nothing, until Iofur the druid spotted a slight bit of movement – there were two small guards, extremely well-hidden, on either side of the building’s large entrance. Baron Satampra snuck around one side and Salar the halfling ranger (and his new thylacine friend) the other, unnoticed. Mestinous wanted to be able to fire magic missiles at the guards, and tried to creep forward until he could see them for himself. But he was spotted, and Satampra and Salar heard the guards knocking on the wall, which was followed by a commotion within.

Realizing that they had lost the element of surprise, Satampra leapt around the corner and stabbed his target – a twisted, evil-looking gnome! Salar and his companion followed suit, and Mestinous unleashed his magical darts on the guard – who did not fall. Instead, the corrupted gnome yelled out a call to arms in what sounded like a strange dialect of sylvan, to Satampra’s ears.

The rest of the party rushed forward to engage as Satampra and Salar dueled with the guards. Mestinous cast enlarge person on Boliden as the barbarian ran past, Travaris the cleric blessed his companions, and Iofur the druid summoned an earth elemental. The guards flanked and took out the thylacine with sneak attacks. Then the large doors to the fort burst outward, revealing another twisted gnome, only this one twice as tall as the humans! Salar dodged the large gnome’s poleaxe, only to be shanked and taken out of the fight by one of the small gnomes.

The enlarged Boliden reached the giant gnome, and the two did battle while the others took out the smaller guards. When the giant was brought down by axe and spell, it shrunk down to the same size as the other corrupted fey. Satampra cautiously advanced inside.

Along the inside of the walls were pens that held the kidnapped townsfolk. And standing in the center was another large gnome, this one wielding a massive two-handed sledgehammer. The towering fey laughed. “Come to me, little Baron. You’ll fetch a prettier penny as a slave than this lot.” The hammer swung and slammed into Satampra with such force that it knocked him out in one blow.

Boliden stepped into the breach, backed up by the wizard and druid. Travaris was busy trying to get the fallen back on their feet again. Their combined efforts wore away at the slaver’s hit points, who shrunk down to normal size in an attempt to escape out the back. He didn’t make it.

The townsfolk were, naturally, elated to have been rescued. The gnomish slavers were spriggans (although everyone failed their Knowledge checks to ID them), and they had told their victims that they were to be sold into slavery in the First World. I’m probably going to replace the spriggans in the next book with some other kind of fey, so I thought this was a good opportunity to make use of them. And if I do keep them in book 3, this encounter will serve as foreshadowing. In any case, the council had put an end to the slavers, but were weaker for it (they lost 1 Loyalty & Stability as a result of the event).

Caerelia after month 5:

Size: 6; Cities: 1; Control DC: 27

Economy: +28; Loyalty: +10; Stability: +21

Unrest: 2; BP: 13; Consumption: 4; Income: 4

Next: into the First World!

  1. Pinkius permalink

    I dunno, sounds like they handled the slavers admirably. they rescued all the townsfolk and nobody (on their side) died right?

    • We were over time so we had to wrap up the slavers hastily. I am thinking that some of the townsfolk were already carted off to the First World to be sold, so that combined with the council not being very well liked has worsened things a bit. I mean, sure, they dealt with the slavers, but they also let the slavers kidnap a bunch of people first! And they have two unhappy noble houses spreading discontent, and they’ve been so focused on the economy that they haven’t paid much attention to the needs of the people.

      They should probably hold off on expanding for a bit until they get rid of their unrest and improve their Loyalty. Right now they would need a 19 to succeed at a Loyalty check, and there’s more bad stuff coming right up… (I have the events rolled in advance so I can expand on them)

      • Pinkius permalink

        Those darn fae, kidnapping townsfolk.
        Although it’s strange how many friendly fae hang around the stolen lands. Even if some of them were placed there to guard against Elvanna.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Whoops, not Elvanna, Nyrissa. Wrong AP.

      • Ah! I was mightily confused there. Your comment did get me to read all about Elvanna on the Golarion wiki, though. 🙂

        Are some of the faeries there to keep watch on Nyrissa, or to keep her agents away from Briar? That would make some sense but I don’t recall reading that in the books. I’ve just been telling the group that the Stolen Land is unusually close to the First World; the planar boundaries are thin there. It has been awhile since I’ve read the later books, too.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Well by “some of them were placed there to guard against Elvanna” I meen one, and that’d be the guardian of the briar, Evindra, who’s currently trapped in a waterclock in book 4 I think.

        There are some friendly fae, like the dryad they talked too, the two mischief makers in book one, the “queen” of the local fae, who hangs out in the lake over by Varnhold I think it was.
        Basically any of the fae who aren’t working for Nyrissa specifically

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 4, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 5 | Daddy DM
  3. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 27 | Daddy DM
  4. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 6, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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