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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 8, Part 2

August 29, 2014

The Descendants

MorteThe two lizardfolk braves scurried into the mud hut, dragging the beaten and bloody form of Travaris between them. The hut’s interior was bare, save for a couple of posts driven into the ground. The reptilian warriors unceremoniously dumped the cleric’s body in the middle of the room, and then fell to their knees and raised their hands up above their heads.

“Oh great ancestor!” the elder brave called out to the ceiling, “Forgive usss for speaking to you, but the spirit-talker is trapped, and the king has fallen! Please accept this mammal as a gift and spare usss!” The pair fearfully bowed their heads and waited for some sign of divine wrath. None came. After several long moments, the speaker looked upwards again and resumed his plea.

“Our village is under attack by the mammalsss! If you are here, if you can hear me, we beg of you, come to our aid! Protect usss! Do not let your descendants be destroyed! Do not let us die at the mammalsss’ handsss! We beg you! Save usss!”

Again, they waited, their gazes lowered in fear and reverence. If their king, a giant of their kind and an unparalleled fighter, could be brought down by mere warm-bloods, their very existence was at risk. Their only hope was the spirit of their ancestor, Stisshak. If anything could repel these invaders, it was the apparition that remained in this world to watch over them.

They did not see Stisshak, not then, nor was there any sound within the spirit’s hut. But soon they heard the warm-blood’s eagle screech in shock and pain. They ran outside to the village wall and, peering out between the logs, they saw the glowing skull of Stisshak drive the vile humans back into the forest. Their prayers had been answered. Their people would live to see another day.

Stubborn Hate

The PCs had battled the lizardfolk to a standstill. Both sides were running on fumes and needed a breather before resuming hostilities. Rather than provide one, the players insisted on trying make sure the lizard king Vesket was dead, dead, dead.

To that end, the PCs that were still standing drank most of their healing potions and lurked just inside the treeline. Iofur the druid, in eagle form, remained overhead. Their target was the fog cloud that sat on the riverbank, or rather the lizardfolk warriors, druid, and their unconscious king that hid inside the cloud. The party did not have the means to disperse the fog, but they knew it would probably dissipate in around an hour.

There was about 100 feet between the edge of the cloud and the lizardfolk village. 100 feet of open water, with an eagle keeping watch and a trigger-happy wizard nearby, meant certain death to any lizardfolk who would try to make a break for safety. And so I had the enemy druid summon a dolphin, which ferried two of the braves back to the village, and then swam back under the cloud. Iofur spotted this, and signaled to Mestinous the elven wizard. The wizard moved up to the riverbank and readied his magic missile wand.

When the dolphin once again zoomed out from under the cloud cover, carrying two more lizardfolk, Mestinous zapped it with a barrage of missiles. The dolphin died and disappeared. The warriors that the dolphin was carrying were startled, and started swimming towards their island village under their own power. Iofur cast spike stones over the village entrance out of spite, forcing the lizardmen to retreat back into the water. They eventually were able to make it back into the village by climbing over the fence, and the PCs declined to molest them further. They were saving their resources for Vesket and/or the opposing druid (I really need to give her a name).

I couldn’t see any way out for the huddled lizardfolk, so I brought out their secret weapon: the “spirit” of Stisshak.

Stisshak appeared next to Iofur, up in the air, and attempted to zap him. But I rolled a 1, and the advanced wisp’s entrance was less than grand. Mestinous dropped a flaming sphere on the thing, and Boliden the barbarian and Satampra the rogue shot arrows at it, but their attacks had no effect. At first, they assumed that the glowing skull must be some spell of the druid’s, but when it chased after them and continued to shock them, they realized that perhaps they were dealing with something new.

The party ran into the forest, and Stisshak turned invisible; its point had been made. Again I thought that would be the end of it, but the players assumed that the skull had left (perhaps in disgust at their cowardice), or something. Mestinous cast enlarge on himself, just for effect, and strutted back to the shore as a giant in order to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be cowed. So Stisshak reappeared and shocked the elf for all of his hit points, leaving him at 0. The not-so-brave wizard fled back into the woods, frantically calling for help, before he collapsed from his wounds. Now it was over. The remaining rulers of Caerelia retreated further into the trees, and the lizardfolk were able to leave the cover of the fog cloud and return to their island.

There Are FOUR Lights!

Salar the halfling ranger and Travaris the cleric awoke inside Stisshak’s hut, naked and tied to posts on opposite sides of the space. The lizardfolk druid (name TBA) strode in with two of her kind, who carried whipping canes. The druid addressed them in draconic, which Salar was able to understand.

She told them that for the crime of unjustly assaulting their home, they would be whipped until they screamed, over and over, for the pleasure of Stisshak the Ancestor. Salar, a former slave, defiantly replied that he would not scream, no matter how much they tortured him. And he was true to his word, at least this time around. Travaris was not so experienced with pain. As he cried out under the assault of the cane, a fearsome floating, glowing skull appeared in the hut. The skull grew brighter and brighter as it fed on the cleric’s fear. Soon the half-elf and the halfling succumbed to the pain and lost consciousness.

The Monster Kingdom

That’s where the session ended. I’ve prompted the players to start making plans so that I can plan for what happens next, but if they’ve done so, they’ve excluded me from the conversation. The challenge for me is, what do I do with Travaris’ and Salar’s players? If the group heads back to Stagfell to recruit help, then I can hand them some NPCs (or replacement PCs) to play until their primary characters are rescued. If the group decides to stay until they free their comrades, I don’t know what I will do. Maybe I can give them some of the opposition to play.

And what will the lizardfolk do? As it happens, I was planning on incorporating a variation on Dudemeister’s “Hargulka’s Monster Kingdom” idea, from the Paizo message boards. When the PCs returned to Stagfell for the upcoming kingdom turn, I was going to hit them with the news that the Sootscale kobolds had shut down the silver mine, and were agitating for more power and autonomy within the kingdom. This was the result of a meeting with an emissary of Hargulka (the troll boss). Soon after, the emissary would present herself at Stagfell, to announce the existence of Hargulka’s monster kingdom to the south. Hargulka’s kingdom is open to all the species that are oppressed and killed by the humans, dwarves, and elves, and exists in direct opposition to the player kingdom of Caerelia.

But the players picked a fight with the lizardfolk before I could do any of that. So what I am thinking is that Hargulka’s emissary had approached the xenophobic lizardfolk, and warned them that the “monsters” had to unite against the humans, but was rebuffed. But now the humans have appeared at the lizardfolk’s doorstep, and attacked them without provocation, confirming everything that the emissary had said. So now they will be reconsidering the offer of an alliance with the trolls.

Who are Hargulka’s emissaries? When I was adjusting the 6-player conversion of Rivers Run Red, I added a green hag with bard levels to Hargulka’s room, instead of giving him another class level. Personally, I would rather have more opponents than a single tougher opponent, given the action economy. Sometime later, I thought it would be neat to expand on the presence of Gyronna (CE goddess of hags and outcast women) in the adventure path, and so the bard became part of a coven. The coven has an alliance of convenience with Hargulka, and consists of:

  • Nekista Syla the Silver-Tongued, Green Hag, Skald 2
  • Mamuna the Wretched, River Hag, Witch 4 (“river hag” is a renamed sea hag)
  • Toboura the Fervent, Annis Hag, Warpriest of Gyronna 2

So, what does this mean for the current situation? It depends on how long the players wait before attempting a rescue:

On the same day as the battle:

  1. The lizardfolk druid will drain Travaris’ wand of cure light wounds in order to heal King Vesket, herself, and the remaining tribe members.
  2. A lizardfolk party will head to the north shore of the river to gather logs and other building materials.
  3. In the evening, a lizardfolk ranger (or maybe a hunter) will return from an expedition.

On Day 1 after the battle:

  1. The lizardfolk druid will prepare and invoke animal messenger, informing Mamuna that they accept her offer of alliance and request immediate assistance. Mamuna will arrive 1d4 days later.
  2. The druid will use her Craft (alchemy) skill to start making items to use against the PCs. I figure the lizardfolk already have 1d4 vials of acid, 1d3 thunderstones, and 1d2 tanglefoot bags on hand. It will take the druid 3 days to craft a vial of acid, 5 days for a thunderstone, and 8 days for a tanglefoot bag.
  3. The lizardfolk will fortify their village, placing spikes along the inside of their wall in case any humans try to climb over. They will add guards to the front gate, and post guards in the water around the island. Everyone remains on high alert.

On Days 2-3 after the battle:

  1. The lizardfolk will scatter snare traps along the southern treeline, to warn them if the PCs approach the riverbank. They will lay traps on the north shoreline on the following day.

When Mamuna the river hag arrives:

  1. Mamuna will prepare a few potions of shield for Vesket and the druid, in order to protect against Mestinous’ magic missile barrage.
  2. Mamuna will spend the following few days brewing additional potions or alchemical items that the lizardfolk can use to protect themselves.
  3. Two scrags (aquatic trolls) will arrive 1d4 days after Mamuna.
  4. After Mamuna spends a week at the village, she will depart. The scrags will remain for the foreseeable future.

I have also toyed with the idea of attacking the party in the night while they are still out of spells, although that’s a real rat bastard move. Maybe I should give them a break, at least until Travaris’ and Salar’s players have something to do.

Next: Camping, camping, and more camping.

  1. Pinkius permalink

    Tsk tsk Iofur, not caring for your animal buddy the horse? And you call yourself a druid, for shame. I wouldn’t be too hard on the party, they’ve lost their cleric, AND their moral compass, who knows what they’ll do now! My bet is more lightning, maybe summon a swarm to ruin the monster’s day, I can’t imagine they’ve got anti-swarm stuff prepared.

    • Iofur (or rather, his player) is one of the more utilitarian party members. Lose a horse? They can always buy more. He will sometimes make veiled comments to Salar’s player that the ranger is dead weight (sadly, it’s kinda true, in combat situations), which recently turned into a bit of a debate.

      Swarms, eh? My big worry is that Iofur would have a gust of wind to blow away the fog cloud in the future, but it may not be relevant. Right now, they’re planning on assaulting the village at night, which could play into the PCs’ strengths. They will be on land, and there won’t be a lot of room so the lizardfolk will be clustered up for fireballing. I think the lizardmen might deploy some guards into the water, though, which might foil their approach.

    • And regarding the “moral compass” bit, it’s true, but it’s also a bit sad. Salar’s player proposed that if his ranger dies, that he replaces him with an evil melee cleric so that he will “fit in” more with the party. I empathize with him – it’s not necessarily fun to always be arguing against your colleagues – but the group would be poorer if he made that change, I think.

      I argued that Salar filled an important role, but that if he wasn’t having fun then he should switch. I think it’s notable that what I consider to be the group’s two biggest screwups (the murder tree incident and attacking the lizardfolk) happened when Salar’s player was not present. But we will see what he decides.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Y’know, you said Salar was the groups moral compass… but shouldn’t Travaris have a good sense of decency? He worships Cayden Cailean, chaotic good god of stereotypical do-goodery, if he’s down with all the murder plans…
        He might find his ability to heal disappear when he needs it most. An evil cleric in a party with a good cleric is one step (two in this case) away from an evil cleric in a party with a paladin.

      • Travaris started off as CG. I had played in two short campaigns with this player prior (CoC and MHR) and I wondered if he could pull off a “good” PC. He couldn’t. After the tree incident I had him change his alignment to CN, although his real alignment is more like Chaotic Pyromaniac.

        That player is probably the most disengaged at the table. I don’t think he’d notice if a LE cleric joined the party, or think about what his character would think of it. Not that I think Salar’s player will go that route. Just as Travaris’ doesn’t have it in him to play lawful or good, Salar’s probably couldn’t do evil.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Ah right, I remember now, for some reason I thought that was another player.
        Our kingmaker group weren’t saints either, and really I’m not sure what alignment the AP falls on, although I think it leans more towards the chaotic good side.

  2. I revised the post-battle timeline a bit. If the river hag arrives before the 2nd evening (when I suspect the PCs will attack), they might end up getting slaughtered. In the end, what I want is for them to rescue their comrades but not wipe out the village. It’s going to be tricky to pull that off, I think. I have to give them an opening to succeed, but hit them hard enough that they don’t stick around too long. And I had to hit them pretty hard, multiple times, to get them to flee the last time. But not so hard that they lose someone else.

    • Pinkius permalink

      Guards in the water will probably foil them up something awful, monsters aren’t supposed to have guards!
      Ah, but they’re out for BLOOD now, they smelt the scent of the lizardking’s death in the water and yes, they thirst for it! I wouldn’t bet on them fleeing without at least the king and the druid’s heads on pikes, maybe the wisp if they can hit it hard enough before it zaps through their protection from energy. A party with a battleplan can be formidable indeed, of course they usually run out of spells and stuff after they reach the end of their plans; but if they pull it off, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have glorious victory.
      Unless you wanna be a jerk, being a jerk is always cool.
      Extra-exception, unless you’re a PC. Evil party’s don’t work that great, backstabbing makes tempers run hot, regardless of how level a head you usually keep.

      I use a LOT of metaphor…

      • Haha, I’m not trying to be a jerk. If they can beat the entire village, kudos to them. I’m not going to make it easy for them, though. 😀

        I just fear that their pig-headedness will lead them into serious trouble, instead of setting some reasonable goals (like rescuing their comrades) and sticking to them. My experience to-date is that they are very bad at sticking to plans (this goes all the way back to session 2, when they wanted the bandits to leave Oleg’s with poisoned wine but got into a fight instead), and have difficulty adapting to unusual situations.

        I want to see the captured PCs rescued. But I don’t want a TPK, and I’m not going to just have the lizardfolk lay down arms and get slaughtered to avoid that. We shall see what happens…

        The bigger question is, what do I do with the players of the captured characters???

  3. Pinkius permalink

    … Slaves!

    • Pinkius permalink

      Oh you said the PLAYERS of the captured characters…
      Uh… hand them a deck of cards and tell them their characters can shout words of encouragement while they’re bound to slave poles in the middle of the enemy camp?
      Maybe the lizardfolk left them there to dispair while Stisshak had a good munch.

      • This is why splitting the party is a bad thing!

        I’m thinking that the distraction of the battle might give Salar a chance to wiggle free of the ropes. I’m pretty sure he has ranks in Escape Artist.

  4. The group is about 9 days away from a kingdom turn, and need about 2-3 days to make it back to Stagfell. Right now they are debating whether to leave, deal with the turn, and come back later.

    • Pinkius permalink

      That sounds like a one-way ticket to losing 2 party members, but tragedy’s happen, this IS a tabletop rpg, not every character lives up to their potential.
      I guess if Salar and Trav end up as slaves to Hargulka, he’ll be a more interesting encounter.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 8, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 9, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  3. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 10, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  4. Rivers Run Red: Session 10, Part 2 | Daddy DM
  5. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 13, Part 2 | Daddy DM
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  8. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 24, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  9. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 12, Part 1 | Daddy DM

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