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Kingmaker: Intermission #3, Session 10, Part 1

September 21, 2018

So, what do we know about Iobaria? It’s the large area off of the eastern edge of the Stolen Lands map, neighbor to Brevoy and the Nomen Heights. It is a land that seen the rise and fall of several empires, both human and cyclops. And it has been so devastated by various plagues over the millennia that most of its cities lay abandoned, and the few remaining people live primitive lives in the harsh wilderness. Why do plagues love Iobaria so much? It’s not said, but given that there have been several major ones there and hardly a mention of any Black Death-like events elsewhere in Golarion (that I’m aware of, anyway) makes it seem like there’s a definite (unstated?) reason behind it all.

Fun fact: Choral the Conqueror, who invaded Issia and Rostland and turned them into Brevoy, originally hailed from Iobaria!

The PCs had arrived in this cursed land thanks to a plane shift spell, and were stuck there until happy hour (when Remesio the cleric could recover his spells and teleport them home). The group’s knowledge of Iobaria was sparse; they had never had a reason to go there before, and anyway, it was off the map! Although it should be said that Orseen the warpriest has wanted to conquer the place since he first learned of its existence, as he does with any neighboring realms, despite being repeatedly told that there wasn’t much there to conquer. As this might have been my only opportunity to showcase the place, and as the party probably wouldn’t even be spending the night, I wanted to make it memorable.

After reading up on it (here is the wiki page; which is mostly drawn from the gazetteer in Varnhold Vanishing) I thought an abandoned city built atop an ancient cyclopean ruin would make for an interesting location. It might even tempt the players to do some treasure hunting while they wait! The setup reminded me a bit of the old AD&D module I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City. A ruined city populated by mutants and degenerate snake-people certainly seemed in keeping with a place ripped apart by magical plagues. That the ghouls in I1 turned their victims to jelly even lined up with one of the listed plagues! In the end I took some ideas from the gazetteer, mixed in other ideas from the module, and kitbashed some monster stats in Hero Lab. And hoped that the party wouldn’t just hop on their carpet and fly away!

As an aside, that Choral was from such a cursed place, and was either allied with red dragons or was one himself, and that red and white dragons had allied with the last real kingdom in Iobaria (before the “drakeplague” killed most of them off) and were actually allied at the time of his conquest of Issia and Rostland, and that the condition of that alliance was that the cyclopes’ ruins be ceded to the wyrms, and that the drakeplague occurred a mere 20 years after Choral created Brevoy, (deep breath) and that the Vanishing of Choral’s bloodline happened exactly 200 years after that conquest… well. Putting all of that together says to me that the Vanishing was caused by some ancient cyclops curse, or some cyclops debt come due. As my players have been interested in the cause of the Vanishing and have gone looking for answers, it feels good to have finally arrived at the beginnings of an answer.

I didn’t want to detail the city or its inhabitants too much, since as I mentioned the players likely wouldn’t be staying long. I quickly settled on Leng ghouls as ghouls that could actually play in the PCs’ ballpark, and modified gelatinous cubes for the once-humans who had been turned to ooze by the ghouls. There’s no yuan-ti in Pathfinder, but the serpentfolk are similar enough. I built some different options by adding class levels, and picked a deep naga with a couple of sorcerer levels as a stand-in for the yuan-ti abomination, on the off chance the PCs went after their lair.

The City That Never Sleeps

So, our adventurers arrived in the middle of an abandoned city that looked like it had been built by giants and refurbished by humans. Cliffs surrounded the ruin on all sides. The group debated whether to just wait in a rope trick until happy hour or to go looking for treasure, and the desire for treasure won out. They hopped on their flying carpet and floated close to the ground, so as not to be spotted, heading towards the closest tall structure: a four-sided stone pyramid. The pyramid had no obvious entrances at its base, but flying upwards they saw part of its upper portion had collapsed, allowing entry to a chamber inside. The areas that had been exposed to the elements were covered in dirt and debris, but they found passageways that led further in, to better preserved chambers.

They found signs of burial artifacts, but it looked as if much that could have been valuable had already been picked over. After some time they were surprised by a group of translucent human-shaped oozes, but the creatures were easily dispatched.

Eventually they located what appeared to be the main burial chamber of the pyramid, but it had already been looted – from the inside! A dusty tunnel that led underground still remained, perhaps leading back to the thieves… The group decided to go down. They found rough earthen tunnels and rooms, bones, bits of broken and discarded items from the pyramid above, and… fresh tracks in the dirt! The prints looked like they came from barefoot, clawed humanoids. They pressed on, only to be ambushed by three ghouls hanging from the ceiling!

After weathering the surprise round, Satampra the swashbuckler and Orseen fought back while Aakif the arcanist used Arcane Step to transport himself to the ceiling. Remesio was quickly paralyzed by the ghoul’s touch, and matters went downhill from there. One ghoul joined the arcanist on the ceiling, forcing him to retreat more and more from the rest of the party. One was cut down by Satampra’s sword and a barrage of magic missiles, but not before the swashbuckler was paralyzed as well. Orseen picked up a nasty disease from the last ghoul, which started to turn his flesh into ooze, and then he, too was paralyzed!

The one ghoul on the ground started to feast on Orseen, who was alive but could not move, and soon the one on the ceiling had paralyzed Aakif. Luckily Remesio had overcome his paralyzation by that point. Seeing that the warpriest was likely dead, he grabbed the immobile swashbuckler, Dimension Hopped over to Aakif, reached up, and dimension door’d them back up to the surface. After they could move again and were healed, they headed back for their fallen companion.

They found the remaining ghouls still eating the warpriest – he’s a big guy! – though they heard the adventurers approaching and went into hiding. The PCs flushed them out with AoE spells, and then went to town. The last one ended up trapped by Evard’s black tentacles, and pleaded for its unlife to no avail. Once it had expired, the group scooped up the warpriest’s remains and one of the ghouls (for a create treasure map spell) and teleported home to Stagfell.

It’s Not Easy Being Orseen

Now, Orseen’s player Bill really likes lizard people, and wanted to eschew the traditional raise dead for a reincarnate from the kingdom’s druid PC-turned-NPC Iofur on the off-chance he could become one. He had a 1% chance – a result of 94 on d100 – to change his race to lizardfolk. He rolled… a 93! But the 3 was cocked a little, and anyway becoming a kobold would have probably meant the end for Orseen, so I let him re-roll that die. Now he had a 10% chance! He rolled a 7, for a 97 total, meaning that Orseen came back as… an orc. Orseen was now “Orc-seen,” also known as “Porcine.” On the plus side, the change boosted his Strength and gave him Darkvision. On the downside, he was now a warpriest for a sun goddess who was sensitive to sunlight.

While the warpriest recovered, Aakif sliced the withered skin off the back of the ghoul they had taken home and used it for a create treasure map spell. The roll of skin was filled with a map of the caverns under the pyramid, showing X‘s where all the ghouls’ treasure was located. On the next day, they teleported back to the ghouls’ lair, tracked down the treasure, disarmed the traps, and counted their loot (lots of coins, potions, and scrolls).

Feeling invigorated by treasure haul, the group wanted to explore more of the area. A thorough reconnoitering of the tunnels turned up an entrance into an ancient giant-sized sewer system, which they thought might be a handy way to get around the city unseen. And so they plunged into the inky depths.

Next: sewers of the serpent people!

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6 Comments
  1. Pinkius permalink

    Neat

  2. That is a COOL idea!
    Mind if I steal it, should my players ever visit Iobaria?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Intermission #3, Session 9, Part 2 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Intermission #3, Session 12, Part 1 | Daddy DM

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