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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 26, Part 1

July 12, 2015

Mamuna the Wretched brushed away dirt and weeds from the rough stone, revealing runes that had been mostly erased by time. “And here we are again,” she said. When there was no reply, she glanced over her shoulder to look at her sister, Nekista Syla the Silvertongued. As it was just the two of them, Mamuna wore no veil.

Nekista stared at the river witch. Had a human stumbled across the scene at that moment, they might have been repulsed at Nekista’s natural form – that of a greasy, warty, green-skinned crone – but Mamuna’s bedraggled visage was so much more terrible that it would have left the viewer paralyzed with shock. But her horrifying face had no effect on a fellow hag.

“They will pay for what they’ve done,” Nekista finally said with grim determination as she gazed at the large, boulder-strewn hillock that rose before them. “They” – the rulers of Caerelia – had slain their sister Toboura, who would terrorize the Riverlands no longer.

Mamuna snorted. “That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Play the notes and let’s be off. Talonquake will finish what we could not.”

“Be silent,” the green witch commanded as she delicately pulled a bone recorder from a pouch. “This is no simple tune. It will take great concentration to awaken the beast and command it against our foes.” Mamuna grimaced but said nothing, and clambered down from the rocks.

Nekista placed her fingers just so, brought the instrument to her lips, and gently, carefully, sounded a long, low note. There was a pause as she drew a deep breath, and then she began to play a tune that was not entirely unpleasant, but would certainly be strange-sounding to human ears. It went on and on, never repeating but gradually increasing in tempo as it went, with no pauses for air. The music built to a discordant crescendo, and then ceased. The green hag was finally able to suck in a breath, and did so as she lowered the flute. Then the two waited. The only sound was that of the wind whipping over the hills to tug at their clothes and hair.

The blasted silence was interrupted by a long rumble that quickly increased in intensity. The ground shook, stones clattered down the hillsides, and the sisters sought to keep their balance as the earth moved beneath them. Then a sudden, thunderous CRACK echoed across the landscape as the rune-etched boulders in front of them broke apart and tumbled down, revealing a massive hole that descended into the earth. The rumbling subsided and gradually came to an end, and all was quiet once more. That was, until an ear-splitting GROOT (not quite a growl, and not quite a hoot) roiled out of the depths.

Mamuna and Nekista looked at one another, then, and smiled.


The leaders of Caerelia had returned to their capital with the head of the troll king Hargulka, only to find that the town had been partially destroyed by a humongous owlbear in their absence. Warden Kesten Garess, who had led the defense of Stagfell, reported that the beast shrugged off all but the strongest weapon attacks, and Magister Silva Zareen added that it was also resistant to flames. It’s appearance was unusual, she said, even aside from its size, and she theorized that perhaps the beast had come from the fey realm.

In fact, it had! The giant owlbear stats in the adventure are pretty ho-hum, and I knew my players would destroy it without much trouble. So instead of adding on an extra Hit Die as suggested by the 6-player conversion, I instead added the Fey Creature template. That’s normally a +2 to CR for a creature with 10 HD, when I was aiming for just a +1, so I took away the wings and flight provided by the template and reasoned that that was enough to bring down the CR adjustment. It wasn’t just an enraged and enlarged owlbear, it was an enraged and enlarged owlbear from the First World that could teleport, vanish, and was resistant to common energy types!

Rivers Run Red 26aThe rulers quickly set out to track down the beast that had ravaged their town. The trail led them the one hex in the southeastern portion of the Greenbelt that they had skipped over. Just north of the Little Sellen River they found a tall rocky peak among the hills of the Kamelands with a huge hole in its northward face. Large stones that had once blocked the hole lay strewn about, some bearing faint markings of ancient runes. The hole in the hillock led deep into the earth, and a terrible smell exuded from it. Remesio the cleric summoned a celestial light and they cautiously descended into the dark.

The passage led them into a cavern so big that none save the elf could make out the far walls. The cave was full of rotting flora and fauna; it was basically a gigantic compost heap. Fungi of all shapes and sizes flourished amid the organic soup. Near the entrance, Iofur the druid spotted a shrieker, a mushroom that would let out a piercing alarm if it detected movement or light nearby. The adventurers gave it a wide berth.

Mestinous the elven wizard let the others know that there was another large opening on the opposite wall, and narrow openings to the left and right. The group resolved to go right, and held their noses as they carefully made their way through the offal and fungi.

A Bad Day For Boliden

Rivers Run Red 26bUnfortunately, some of the fungi was hostile! Three violet (and violent!) mushrooms unfurled their tendrils from the underside of their caps as the walking meals drew near. Satampra the swashbuckler, as usual, perceived the threat and leaped to the attack before the murderous mushrooms could strike! The cleric and barbarian joined in, while Mestinous and Iofur summoned some minor minions. The fungi’s tendrils were easily avoided, and not very deadly, it seemed, until one struck Boliden the barbarian and he failed his saving throw. Intense pain radiated from the spot on his forearm where the tendril lashed him, and the skin and muscle quickly turned black and then sloughed off, revealing the bone underneath! Yuck. Boliden suffered 4 Strength and 1 Constitution damage from the plant’s poison rot.

Despite the awful wound, the group was able to quickly dispatch the fungi. Remesio lamented that he could not do anything about Boliden’s injury for the moment, aside from wrapping it up. The party pressed on.

The next chamber was wet with dripping water and full of more rotting vegetation. As the rulers explored the cave, a shambling mound rose up and attacked! It clobbered Satampra in the head, and then grabbed Boliden and tried to absorb him into its mushy body. “Hey, that’s how Eagle-Face Dan died!” recalled Iofur helpfully. This shambler was a bit different, though: it was full of fire-red centipedes that swarmed over the barbarian as he sought to break free!

However, the plant creature could not withstand the might of the party, including a damn tiger summoned by Iofur. It quickly collapsed, and the centipedes were stunned by a sound burst and then incinerated by several alchemist’s fires.

Bat’s All, Folks

Rivers Run Red 26cAfter Boliden received some healing, the party headed south down another narrow passageway. After they had traveled a good distance, Satampra grabbed Boliden (who was in the lead) just as the brawny fellow was about to take a step – the swashbuckler/rogue had spotted something unusual about the ground ahead. After some testing, it seemed like the floor was unstable and would give way if enough weight were placed upon it.

To bypass the treacherous ground, Iofur turned into a bat and flapped his way down the tunnel. The passage soon led into another huge cave, one with a small underground lake. Echoing about the room was the snores of a very large owlbear. The druid retreated, and after turning back into his natural form, reported what he had found.

Rivers Run Red 26dThe players didn’t want to fight Talonquake yet, so they backtracked, heading for the other small passageway that branched from the fungus room. That led to a chamber full of webs and CR 1 giant spiders. I didn’t even bother running this combat; the spiders stood no chance against PCs of this level. I find it rather strange that Paizo even puts encounters like these in the adventures; they’re just a waste of time. It’s even stranger that the DM is supposed to award XP for fighting such insignificant foes. While I was not a huge fan of 3e’s XP rewards chart, at least it acknowledged that players shouldn’t be able to level up from killing a zillion boars.

Next: Talonquake!

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5 Comments
  1. Pinkius permalink

    it’s interesting to hear about the things my Cavalier missed out fighting. I heard from the group our monk got hit by those fungus and turned into a noodlearmed wuss for the rest of the dungeon.
    And the owlbear didn’t really stand up to our powerhouse party at the time. (our partys always seem to have a powerhouse or two)

    • Yeah, we’re getting to the point where single monster encounters are over almost before they start.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Most encounters were over before they started as we got further along, EXCEPT for the single monster encounters. Why? Well, the wizard got itchin’ to try out his new AoE capabilities, So he’d use his highest level spell on reverse gravity or sorocco.
        And because I was going to start using mounted combat, and we were going to actually be outside, my GM convinced me to rebuild as a samurai instead of a cavalier (spirited charge was too scary). So I built for crits, and because I was a samurai, I grabbed a katana, (Katanas in pathfinder crit on 18-20, or with keen/imp. critical 15-20) boy did I crit.
        And the cleric (crusader archetype) of gorum had a domain power to rage, so he was as buff as the samurai.

        Single monster encounters were at least built with the expectation they’d be bursted down by the entire party, usually had plenty of DR, energy resist, and hitpoints.

      • We will see how my bogeyman shadowdancer fares against the group. Hide in Plain Sight plus Spring Attack should make him a difficult target for them to focus fire down.

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  1. Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 25, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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