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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 5

June 4, 2014

faerie_ringIn the previous session, spriggans (evil, twisted, size-changing gnomes) had been creeping into town and stealing away the citizens of Stagfell in order to sell them into slavery. The PCs had assaulted the slaver’s stockade, killing all of the kidnappers and freeing all of the townsfolk…

Shroom Patrol

Well, some of them, anyway. The commoners thanked their rulers for heroically rescuing them, but a quick headcount revealed that they were missing some folks. The group was informed that a few spriggans left the night before, taking 11 humans with them, and never returned. Salar the halfling ranger found the trail, and they followed it to a small copse of trees. Amidst the trees was a large ring of toadstools, an unusual sight on its own but doubly so given the season – a faerie ring!

According to legend, faerie rings allow one to travel to the First World, home of the fey, and back again. But the stories differ on just how they work. Mestinous the elven wizard explained that the rings would be active only when certain conditions were true; e.g. midnight on the winter solstice. The party quickly ascertained that the ring was not active now, but it must have been the previous night, when there was a new moon. So the moon and time of day must be the key, they reasoned.

The adventurers decided to return to the ring of toadstools on the next new moon, in order to pass through and attempt a rescue of their people. In truth, I had not planned for the faerie ring to be usable again at all – I had planned for those townsfolk to be gone forever, and their loss would be the justification for the kingdom penalties (-1 Loyalty & Stability) that the slavers event had saddled them with. But they were so intent on figuring it out and rescuing the victims that I just ran with the idea that they could use the faerie ring and enter the First World.

Stagfell Map EndOfTurn 6In the meantime, they waited out the tail end of winter in their capital of Stagfell. When the council held their next meeting, they resolved to work on improving their Unrest and Loyalty. To that end, they did not expand the barony’s borders or build any terrain improvements, and they ordered the construction of more housing and a red light district in Stagfell. They also lowered taxes slightly, from “normal” to “light.” (click the image for a bigger picture)

They also had to deal with a trickle of fishermen and homesteaders from down south, who had fled their homes after being attacked by roving bands of hungry trolls. The refugees’ gruesome stories set off a panic in the populace, who did not trust their rulers to protect them if the trolls should happen to venture north. [a failed Loyalty check resulted in +2 Unrest]

That was the Troll Sightings “minor” event from the adventure. If I was running things by the book, it would have replaced the Feud event that occurred on the kingdom’s 3rd turn – and it would have occurred again every turn after that until the trolls were destroyed. Which is to say, every month the kingdom would have to succeed at a Loyalty check or suffer +2 Unrest, which serves as a penalty on all kingdom checks – including the future Loyalty checks to avoid 2 more Unrest each turn. This is in addition to whatever other Unrest the kingdom is accumulating, and the event keeps happening until the PCs defeat the penultimate encounter in the adventure.

I didn’t think that the PC’s kingdom would survive that. I did some test runs with the kingdom rules before we started this chapter of the AP, and quickly saw that Unrest is a killer. Once it starts accumulating, it can’t be easily stopped, and the kingdom rapidly descends into anarchy. I asked around online about how other people handled the troll event, and from the responses that I received it seemed that no one had actually played it the way the book says to. So I decided that the event would occur every 2d6 turns for the first 2 years, then every 2d4 turns until the trolls were dealt with. This kept the “continuous” nature of the event without overwhelming the fledgling kingdom.

If you’ve run or played in a Kingmaker campaign that has gone through book 2, I’d be interested to hear about how this event was handled. Anyway, back to the story…

Spriggan Into Action

During the long winter months, the group had commissioned the construction of a small sailing vessel so that they could explore Lake Tuskwater. Now that the weather had warmed a bit, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go sailing! Unfortunately, none of the council members knew a thing about it. So, one blustery day they hired someone who could handle the boat and shoved off – in search of adventure!

They didn’t find any. They roughly mapped the lake’s edges, noting that at the south end there were some falls that led to a smaller lake, and they discovered another river that emptied into the Tuskwater to the east. They also spotted some hovels and tiny communities along the shore, although many looked abandoned. They were a bit disappointed that the reality of being on a boat did not live up to their expectations, and headed home.

On the night of the next new moon, they rode back to the faerie ring. They stood guard for awhile, in case anything came out, but nothing happened. Eventually they decided to try it. They held hands and stepped into the ring together. In the blink of an eye, they were in Golarion, and then they were somewhere else.

Darkness was replaced by twilight; the freezing air became suddenly cool.  The trees around them seemed gnarlier, and appeared to move when one was not looking directly at them. Salar searched around for tracks of the spriggans or their captives, but found only signs of animals passing through. What now? the group wondered aloud. What now, indeed? I hadn’t planned for this at all and was flying completely blind.

Salar had speak with animals prepared, so he followed the animal tracks with the hopes of gathering some intel from a beastie. What he found, however, was a doe with feathered wings, who could talk all on her own! After introductions were exchanged, Salar traded a goodberry for news that the captives had passed through here “a while ago” and were seen heading south. Another goodberry got the halfling a ride in the air on the deer’s back, which he greatly enjoyed.

Satampra the rogue tried to climb a tree to get a better view, but found that it fought his attempts to scale it. Nevertheless, he got to the top just in time to see Salar swooping by on the back of a winged deer, both of them laughing like mad!

Meanwhile, Mestinous the elven wizard was studying the arcane energies around the faerie ring. He deduced that the ring would stop working in about 3 hours time. If they wanted to get back home, they would need to hustle! Satampra and Salar had both spotted a large structure to the south, so it seemed like a good bet that their quarry had gone there. Given the time constraints, they suddenly wished that they had brought their mounts with them. Iofur (whose player was not present) volunteered to go fetch them, and he stepped into the ring and vanished. And then… nothing. He did not reappear for several minutes. The party gave up waiting and started jogging south.

After about a half hour they came across a sagging, crumbling, overgrown castle on a hill. Armed gnomes were manning the walls, and demanded to know the group’s business. It was discovered that the spriggans had indeed been here, and had sold the gnomes 5 “servants,” and then had departed with the other 6. The gnomes claimed to not know where they had gone to. The players debated storming the castle, as the gnomes seemed disinclined to give up their new pets. Unless, it was found, an equal trade was offered. They decided to play at exchanging themselves, numbering 5, for the 5 townsfolk. The gnomes agreed! Heck, Boliden the barbarian was probably worth a dozen townsfolk just on his own.

The wee folk were not stupid, however. Before they would make the exchange, they wanted the PCs to strip and move away from their weapons and belongings. I gave them each a chance to hide one small item in their smallclothes, but Satampra got greedy and tried to hide both a dagger and his thieves’ tools. When the gnomes came down from the keep with the commoners, they spotted the unusual bulges in his shorts, and the jig was up.

Needing quick stats, I used 1st level gnome warriors, 12 in all. When the fight broke out, several got tied up trying to keep their slaves from escaping, and the others quickly fell to Boliden (who was just tearing them apart with his bare hands), Mestinous’ spells, and Salar & his thylacine companion. Satampra ran back to his gear to pick up his rapier, and so was late to the party, while Travaris the cleric healed those slaves that got stabbed as they tried to flee. The remaining gnomes ran off, and the party declined pursuit because they were worried about running out of time. Satampra was not happy with this decision – he was sure the keep was full of treasure – but it was thought that perhaps they could come back and sack it next month.

They ran back. I felt like there had been a lull in the weirdness quotient, so I rolled up a random encounter, using the table in book 6. Winged owlbear! “An owlbear with feathered wings on its back flies overhead… <checks stats> Scratch that, a 50′ tall owlbear with wings blots out the sky!!!” I didn’t realize at first that the winged owlbears were size Gargantuan! The PCs wisely hid from the beast as it passed over them, and counted the seconds as they waited for it to leave the area. Time was running low.

They hustled to the ring without further incident, and jumped through. Iofur was waiting for them. In fact, he had been waiting for several days! It appeared that time flowed strangely in the First World. The townsfolk kissed their rulers and the ground and begged to be brought back to their homes and families in Stagfell. But the council had a matter to discuss, first. What to do with the faerie ring?

Travaris drew a flask of alchemical fire and was about to hurl it at the toadstools before Mestinous stopped him with a cry. “No! What are you doing?!” The cleric replied that it was too dangerous and had to be destroyed. As he prepared once more to burn the ring with fire, the elven wizard aimed his magic missile wand at the High Priest. “I’ll kill you!” is what he said, at which point the others stepped in and calmed things down. A bit. Mestinous’ player really wanted to preserve the ring so they could go off and have wacky adventures in the First World every month. The others noted that the portal was right in their back yard and they had already lost some townsfolk to it; it was clearly dangerous. Plans for mitigating the risk were discussed, but all were discarded. The others reasoned that there must be other portals, so they didn’t really need this one. The council voted, and Mestinous was the only one to vote for keeping the faerie ring around.

Travaris plucked several of the toadstools, intending to brew a beer with them, or to sell them to Bokken the crazy herbalist. The rest were pulled up and burned, and the ground burned with alchemical fire. If they had some salt, they would have salted the earth as well. They then led the weary townsfolk back home, and were hailed as heroes, even though 6 commoners were probably gone for good. Satampra hoped that they still might rescue them someday, but it seemed unlikely at this point. To reward them for their troubles, I removed the Loyalty & Stability penalties from the slavers event. They had won back some measure of their subjects’ trust, and made the colony a little safer.

People were still panicking about the trolls, though!

Caerelia after month 6:

Size: 6; Cities: 1; Control DC: 27

Economy: +28; Loyalty: +14; Stability: +22

Unrest: 3; BP: 18; Consumption: 4; Income: 4


 

Next: taking care of business!

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16 Comments
  1. Pinkius permalink

    Like a group of big damn heroes! Except for the double-dealing with the gnomes bit, and the leaving half the commoners behind, and the slaughtering the gnomes… But that’s just a risk when you buy slaves from spriggans. Honestly I’d have loved a bit more first world in the early campaign, everything moves slowly and there’s not much you can do to be pro-active. It sounds like you handled it really well and threw in something unique and fun

    • Pinkius permalink

      Also it’s a good think they closed the portal, who knows what might’ve come out otherwise! Heck, they might’ve had an encounter with a jabberwocky… which is devastating enough when you HAVE a vorpal weapon

      • I probably wouldn’t have sprung a jabberwocky on them right away… you have to build up to that level of rat-bastardry! But yeah, bad stuff would definitely happen if they left it alone.

        Now I’m wondering about placing other doorways to the First World, and if I can use that to foreshadow Nyrissa and her lieutenants from book 6.

    • Thanks! Although it was all entirely unplanned, I do think that it was good that they got a taste of the fey realm at this stage, as you say. I do wish that I had made it a bit more dangerous, though. There was the 50′ flying owlbear (which hopefully will not overshadow the big owlbear in this chapter!) but that didn’t seem to scare off the wizard at all. But then, the wizard’s player usually has a few beers during the session…

      Is your group still playing through the AP, or have you finished it? I thought you were in the later stages of it, but that was a while back.

      • Pinkius permalink

        We just finished it last week. I asked the DM how he handled the trolls business, but my character left I think either right after that or sometime during it, so I’m a bit hazy on how it went down. The kobolds needed some rallying to keep from joining with the trolls, and we got to encounter the troll leaders in a diplomatic sense. In that they were right there talking to the kobolds… Really they could have wreaked us with little to no consequence, not sure why they didn’t.

      • http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ljy6?My-Changes-to-RRR-Hargulkas-Monster-Kingdom

        Your DM does his homework, it seems! The whole setup with the trolls meeting with the kobolds is part of the linked player-made mod to the adventure. I’m going to be doing something similar, but I’m tweaking it around a bit. Did you have any mass combat at that stage?

        Congratulations on finishing the AP!!! How did the final showdown go?

      • Pinkius permalink

        The final battle was tweaked a little bit, we cleared every part of thousand breaths so the castle was stuck on golarion, and the Briar was permanently Vorpal.
        SO the changes to the final fight were A) a larger final boss room, partially because we had a summoner and the eidolon wouldn’t even fit in the room we were supposed to fight her in, and B) she had her summoned monsters out by the time we got there.
        The wind elementals Nyrissa summoned went down very quickly, but not before getting a round’s action each, which basically was some damage to the Finwe (our wizard). Finwe turned around and dispelled one, and the other died to… probably full attacks, it went down fast.
        Nyrissa spent most of her actions trying to save or die Edgar (Samurai), who was the one wielding the Briar (which took the shape of a Katana because reasons), but she just couldn’t get through the Spell Resistance. Unfortunately for the party, one of her save or dies was a prismatic spray, so Finwe got plane shifted, and Iandoli, our summoner got death poisoned. Avner (the cleric, also king) had buffed himself with 4 or 5 spells before we even came to fight Nyrissa, including spell resistance, so he was safe from most of her spells as well.
        Iandoli had 2 hero points so 2 rounds later we reminded her player that he could spend them to not die, which also brought back the eidolon. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be effectively dead until the encounter is over, but something was quoted, so I just rolled with it.
        For her revenge Iandoli Mazed Nyrissa. This didn’t help us at all, and both Edgar and Avner voiced annoyance, thankfully the GM had been rolling nat 20s on maze rolls for a while now and it only took 2 rounds before she came back into a flanked position. Whereupon she tried to save or die Edgar again! Then Edgar rolled 3 critical hits on his full attack, two of which were nat 20s (and auto-confirms, Moment of Triumph!).

        And so Nyrissa’s head was cleaved off, time re-wound, and then her head cleaved off again from the other side.
        The castle crumbled, Nyrissa’s body exploded and then got sucked into the Briar, shocking everyone, and credits rolled.
        Edgar lost the Briar, and was glad to be rid of it, then took a vacation.
        Avner declared half a dozen wars.
        Iandoli gated back Finwe then wandered off.
        And Finwe went back to work trying to invent flying castles and teleportation rings.

      • Wow, very cool! That’s some nice luck on the vorpal crits!

        Note to self: Give Nyrissa Greater Spell Penetration…

      • Pinkius permalink

        She just rolled bad against Avner, and he had amazing saving throws because cleric.

  2. Just a note – real life has gotten in the way of getting enough of the group together to actually play. Hopefully we will have at least 4 players free next time around, in mid July.

    • Pinkius permalink

      Oh, well, nevermind what I said on the other page then.

      • It seems like summer was just a bad time for the group, between work trips and vacations and personal stuff. It looks like we’re back on track, now!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 4, Part 2 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 10, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  3. Kingmaker: Intermission #1, Session 9, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  4. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 1, Part 1 | Daddy DM

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