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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 10, Part 1

September 24, 2014

As the Kingdom Turns

So a while back, I got the idea from somewhere to give the players the job of populating their kingdom. I offered them some bonus XP if they created two characters: one who worked under their PC in their leadership role, and one who worked under someone else’s leadership role. Part of that was to give their underlings some personality, and part of it was to have a ready supply of replacement characters should someone fall. Everyone but Travaris’ and Iofur’s players went for it. Mestinous’ player even created three NPCs.

More recently, from the Paizo Kingmaker board I picked up the concept of giving the players monthly kingdom reports. I wrote up short bits for each NPC member of the council that everyone could read, and individual reports for each PC that were written in the voice of the underlings that they had previously created. I’ll include the reports at the end of this update, but the highlights were:

caerelia-turn71) Defense, defense, defense. Many NPCs advised building defenses and/or military units to protect against a possible troll attack. Unrest was high because of marauding trolls in the south, and the people were worried.

2) A cache of scrolls had been discovered that shed some light on the “zombie hill” issue. The Stag Lord’s fort sat atop a hill, and if anyone wandered off the main path up the hill, zombies erupted from the ground and ate the trespasser. This was the official kingdom event for the turn, a Discovery.

stagfell-turn73) Iofur’s uncle, Joren, asked that a replacement Grand Diplomat be found so that he could return to his village. When they had first recruited him, he told them it was on a temporary basis, and now he wanted to step down.

4) The Sootscale kobolds had thrown the baron’s men out of the silver mine and shut down production. Mestinous’ spies reported that an unknown elf woman had visited the Sootscale chieftan just prior to this event.

5) With Howl-of-the-North-Wind dead, passage to and from Restov was once again safe, and ambassadors should soon be arriving.

The players mostly ignored the military advice. They claimed the Old Sycamore hex, built farms in the Gold Vein hex, and roads in the Fangberries hex. They also built some houses in Stagfell to bring down the unrest. (click the thumbnails for larger pictures) They did start training up a militia, which doesn’t have any particular meaning in mechanical terms for the moment.

Caerelia after month 7:

Size: 7; Cities: 1; Control DC: 28

Economy: +27; Loyalty: +15; Stability: +23

Unrest: 1; BP: 14; Consumption: 2; Income: 2 (4 once the silver mine is restored to order)

Not-So-Silent Hill

A farmer’s plow had uncovered a chest of ancient scrolls, which the magister, Jhod Kavken, had managed to decipher. The scrolls revealed that the Stag Lord’s fort was once a monastery to the evil hag goddess Gyronna. But the monks there turned away from evil, and in response, their mistress caused the bodies in the monastery’s graveyard (which covered the hillside, save for the path) to rise up and drag the living sisters under the earth. The monks were now cursed to rise and attack any who set foot on the site of the former graveyard.

That was the backstory for the zombies from book 1. There’s no mention of ending the curse in the adventure, even though the Stag Lord’s fort is the best spot in the Greenbelt to found a city. So I provided a solution of my own invention: a male ruler must be sacrificed in Gyronna’s name on the hilltop in order to end the zombie’s unholy reign. It seemed in-line with the god’s beliefs, and presented some interesting options to the players. After some joking about a “king for a day” holiday in Caerelia, where the temporary king would be sacrificed at the end of the day, the group started to think of who they could use. They quickly settled on the lizardfolk king. Yes, they are still nursing a grudge for being forced to retreat.

Everyone Must Get Stoned

A couple of months previously, the party had stomped on a fairie ring, and Travaris the cleric kept some of the toadstools to brew beer with. He had sampled some in a previous session, and at the time I rolled on a wild magic surge table, resulting in an electric charge running throughout his body. Travaris was drinking some more of his strange brew during their time in Stagfell, and I forgot which table I had used before, and grabbed the rod of wonder’s effect table instead. He rolled a 99, which excited him greatly – higher is better, right? – until it was revealed that his flesh was turned to stone. The others discovered Travaris’ statue in his bunk in the fort, bottle raised to his lips.

This presented a bit of a problem for Travaris and the group. Stone to flesh was way above their power level, and even buying a scroll was a big hit to their finances. And could they even find one to purchase? Replacing the cleric, possibly with his underling, was discussed, but the player said that he wanted to keep his character. So they planned a trip to Restov to hopefully un-petrify their comrade.

Money! It’s a Crime

But first, they had the arrival of the Lady Minerva Lebeda to deal with. The lady had been their host when they first traveled to Restov, and now she had been sent to Stagfell to serve as the Sword Lords’ ambassador. She expressed her regrets that Travaris was not feeling well enough to meet with her – the council was keeping his current condition hushed up for the moment. It wasn’t much of stretch to tell folks he was nursing a bad hangover.

Minerva requested to be shown around Stagfell the day after her arrival. Satampra the rogue took the lead, as ruler, and Iofur the druid and Salar the halfling ranger tagged along. But their tour was interrupted by angry arrival of the marshal, Pelagia Medyved. Pelagia is a noblewoman, albeit one who is more at home in the woods than at court. Now she was striding towards her fellow council members, looking quite pissed. Satampra intercepted her well away from Lady Minerva.

Pelagia hurled a sack of gold coins at her ruler’s feet. “M’Lord, I demand to know the meaning of this!” she declared. “I am a Medyved, not some common laborer! I do not toil for money like a… a… innkeep! I am here as an equal, and serve by right of my birth!” Satampra, having no idea what was going on, wanted to know where this gold came from. “Your half-breed hussy gave it to me!” by which Pelagia meant the royal enforcer, Ianomara. Ianomara is a half-elf seductress that works for the thieves’ guild of Restov, and who had been known to sleep in the Baron’s bed from time to time.

Satampra placated the marshal with a rather impressive skill check, convincing her that Ianomara was probably just trying to upset Pelagia for some reason, and that he would get to the bottom of the situation. I meant this as a foreshadowing of a conflict between the two NPCs – Pelagia is the top law enforcement official in the kingdom, and Ianomara, despite her role as enforcer, is more interested in seeing the thieves’ guilds operations remain free from the law. Also, Pelagia and Kesten Garess are the only nobles by birth on the council – although Kesten has been disowned by his family – and they have a different outlook on matters than the other leaders.

When Satampra later confronted Ianomara, she gave him his own sack of gold. Part of their deal with the thieves’ guild was that they would get a cut of guild income, and I had figured that Stagfell was big enough for that to start happening. Everyone initially got 100 gp, although after the incident with Pelagia, they cut her out of the proceeds, raising the cut to 110 gp. The players happily used the coin to defray the planned cost of Travaris’ cure.

Down in the Puma Pen

The adventurers had previously subdued a murderous hermit’s giant cat and brought it back to Stagfell. During the leadership period, Iofur and Salar took turns trying to use wild empathy to befriend the beast. I ruled that it was hostile towards them, meaning they needed a 20 on their check (each has a +5 bonus vs. DC 25). They had no success during the week, but the group ended up staying in Stagfell for another four days so that Mestinous could craft his first wand (of magic missile, sigh). On day three, Salar rolled that 20 and moved the cat’s attitude to unfriendly. On day four, he rolled an 18 and he moved it again to indifferent. War cat, here we come!

Sweet Dreams

And finally, while all of this was going on, Boliden was struck by strange dreams of the stunning woman he had glimpsed back in Restov, many moons ago. This was a subplot that I dropped and forgot about, over and over, until this session. Boliden is wearing a magic ring that the adventurers took from the Stag Lord, a ring that was also the favor of the mad nymph Nyrissa. The ring is now playing with his mind more and more.

With all the happenings in Stagfell resolved, the council loaded Travaris’ statue into a reinforced cart and began their journey to Restov. Their first stop: the Sootscale silver mine.

Next: what’s a “Hargulka”?!


 

Council Reports for Gozran (April), 4711 AR

Grand Diplomat Joren

With Howl-of-the-North-Wind and his pack destroyed, ambassadors from the Swordlords of Restov, House Medyved, and House Orlovsky are expected to arrive over the next month or two. We should organize formal events to welcome them to Caerelia.

Also, I would like to make a request of the council. I have served as your top diplomat these past few seasons, and have been glad to do so. But this is not where my heart is, despite the pride of seeing my nephew grow in wisdom and strength. I wish to return to my village to the north. To that end, I would ask that you find another candidate for Grand Diplomat as soon as you’re able.

Magister Jhod Kavken

A trove of old scrolls was discovered in the earth near the fort. The scrolls appear to have been written by an abbess of Gyronna who ruled over a monastery here, long, long ago. I have had the scrolls studied, and believe they contain some useful insights into the undead that plague the hillside.

Marshal Pelagia Medyved

I would like to train some mounted patrols to watch the borders, along with a watchtower or two. But that is likely beyond our reach at the moment. For now, we should lay claim to where the Skunk River flows into Lake Tuskwater, and build a watchtower on the north bank. The refugees fleeing from the troll attacks came up that way. If the trolls do decide to attack us, they will probably cross the river in the same area.

Royal Enforcer Ianomara

With the feud between the Vacunas and Draganovs settled, I haven’t had much to do. And I think that your headsman, Athammaeus, is getting restless. But that’s a good place to be, no? A boring place, to be sure. But good for the Council.

I did get to hunt down a man who hurt one of the women at the Crooked Staff. I hauled him back to Stagfell, flogged him in the town square, and left him in the stocks for a few days. That was fun. I don’t think we will have any more abuses of the brothels’ hospitality.

Warden Kesten Garess

The spriggan kidnappers exposed a weakness against magical threats in Stagfell – one that I am, in all honesty, unsure how to address. Perhaps with the destruction of the faerie ring we won’t have any more incidents, but I am uneasy. We are not the first to attempt to tame these lands, and those who came before us did not succeed.

I do think that it is prudent – especially with these tales of trolls – to increase Stagfell’s defenses. We can begin training militias, but I don’t think that they will be worth much against the threats we are likely to face. Recruiting a standing army of actual soldiers is a better strategy. But before we can begin training soldiers, we will need to construct some barracks.

Emperor Satampra Zieros

Tirouv Ompallios reports: So, the brothels! I think the Quivering Hills has the prettiest girls, but there’s something about the ambiance of the Crooked Staff that really speaks to me.

What? Oh. Your courtiers sure like to grouse when you’re not around. I’m guessing that they don’t like having a bunch of outsiders lording it over them. Maybe if we built some fancy shops or homes for them, they would have something else to obsess over. But to the Hells with them. What this town really needs is more drinking establishments. You could put them right next to the brothels!

Councilor Salar

Breen Everstead reports: The people are not pleased, my lord. The nobles chafe under the rule of those they consider to be up-jumped commoners, and the smallfolk are afraid of being killed by trolls or worse. The first problem cannot be solved, I don’t think. As for the second issue, the shrines and brothels do offer some… comfort. But I think that the people would feel better if we started to build walls around the town, or repaired the fort, or raised a militia to defend the town.

I know that you consider the Sootscale kobolds to be friends, and so it pains me to report that they have thrown the Emperor’s men out of the silver mine, and shut the mine down.

Stories of trolls and dragons that live in the Narlmarches and wish to eat us all are popular at the moment.

Lady Iren Vacuna reports: Friend Councilor, I bring you grave tidings. The Draganovs seek revenge against the Emperor for his many slights to their honor. I would humbly advise you to listen not to the honeyed words of Lord Velim. He is a snake, seeking to poison your mind with his lies!

Lord Velim Draganov reports: The Vacunas are plotting against the Emperor, oh wise Councilor! Don’t listen to one word from that lying Lady Iren. She wants these lands for her own family to rule; I have heard her say as much when she thought no one was listening.

General Boliden

Aeson Stalkingwolf reports: Given the reports of trolls and rumors of green dragons, we should begin training the able-bodied for militia duty. We should also start building defensive fortifications. Right now, a single troll could tear through Stagfell, if it attacked while the Council was away.

High Priest Travaris Stone

Archaedius Storantus reports: The faithful are pleased with the shrines that have been built, your Eminence. But the followers of Erastil are unhappy with the brothels, and are eager to restore the ruined Temple of the Elk. Perhaps constructing a shrine to Erastil in Stagfell will ease their minds until the Temple can be rebuilt.

Spymaster Mestinous

Malthanis reports: The feud between the Vacunas and the Draganovs appears to be quiet for now. I have heard naught of any plots against the Council, although many consider the “Emperor” to have delusions of grandeur. Caerelia is more a collection of muddy hills than an empire, and the people have no illusions on that count.

My contacts in Brevoy have told me that its Regent, Noleski, is none too pleased with the establishment of the new fiefdoms in the Stolen Lands – you, Varnhold, and Fort Drelev. Word is that the families of those leading these domains are going to suffer if they remain in Brevoy. But most of you aren’t from Brevoy, so that shouldn’t be an issue for Caerelia.

My troupe will be traveling east to Varnhold for a spell, now that that damned wolf is dead. Rumor has it that with the arrival of spring, Varn is preparing for a major offensive against the Nomen centaurs. I will report more on that subject after I have arrived at Varnhold.

Belgrin Ratbone reports: I have heard that a well-spoken elf woman visited the silver mine a few weeks back, and requested an audience with the kobold chieftan. What was said I do not know, and apparently she left the area immediately afterward her visit. A strange occurrence, but it is made more notable by the fact that the silver mine has stopped production. The Sootscale kobolds have thrown out our men and are refusing to work.

Aside from that, the only matter that people want to talk about are the damn trolls. And the dragon in the forest. Songs and stories of monster slayers have been a very popular request, these past few weeks.

Keeper Iofur

The spring planting season is well underway. Weather conditions are normal.

Word has reached you of a territorial conflict along the western border. Followers of Gozreh, led by a druid named Vasillia Radic, have taken up residence near the edges of the Narlmarches. One Sir Miroslav Serafin has claimed those lands for his own, and has declared the followers of Gozreh to be squatters. Vasillia has written to you to request that, as a fellow servant of the Wind and the Waves, you resolve the dispute in her group’s favor before it leads to violence.

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