Pathfinder 6 – Of death and helmets

Spellwarped EttinWell, last weekend was the final session of Burnt Offerings, book 1 in Paizo’s Rise of the Runelords series. This wasn’t a long session, but it was still satisfying.

Present this week:

  • Nox, Changeling Swordsage
  • Nonnie, Halfling Sorcerer
  • Reza, Dwarven Cleric
  • Thorbar, Dwarven Barbarian

Missing was Ristan the Bard. His player works shifts. As such, she will be unable to attend every week for the whole game. We start around 2 pm, and usually go until around 7 or 8 pm. She will usually join us around 5 or 6 pm on her work days, it seems.

In any case, we started off right where we left off, lost hit points and all. We went south.

Coming to an intersection with three doors (one huge and fancy with no handles), we checked them all out. The first contained an illusion of a man speaking in a weird ancient language. Not to be dissuaded, the party managed to have Comprehend Languages cast. (They actually left, and came back after having rested and repreparing, but whatever.) So they heard the man talking about a person named Alaznist in a broken-record-like loop. Fun! And confusing… for now…

Next room was full of surgical tools and torture-like instruments. Also fun! Also a key-like thing.

Using the key on the final door, they managed to enter Malfeshnekor’s chamber.

Now, Malfeshnekor was supposed to be an Advanced Elite Greater Barghest. But while reviewing his stats, I came to a couple realisations.

  1. Barghests have some annoying abilities, such as blink, that I didn’t feel like running.
  2. Barghests represent Gluttony incredibly well, as well as being a good representative for Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters. Yet that doesn’t fit with the story. I need a good Lamashtu-y creature that represents Wrath, not Gluttony.

So I went searching for an appropriate CR 7 creature. I considered templated Manticores, Chimeras, Dragons, and a ton of others before finding, in the Monster Manual 3, the Spellwarped Ettin (see picture, click for bigger). Feral, strong, and angry, it fit all my criteria. CR 7? Check.

Well, sorta. This battle ended up being far more vicious that I had hoped.

First round, the PCs move in and attack, and the ettin swings and hits with all 3 of 4 attacks (while power attacking). Near-max damage with the hits as well, dropping Nox below 0. (At this point we retroactively decide that Reza would have healed the party after the fight with Nualia, so Nox ended up right at 0 hp.)

This was indicative of the rest of the fight as well, to the point where the players told me to switch dice so I didn’t keep rolling max damage. It didn’t help, unfortunately. Throughout this battle, I dropped Nox below 0 twice, and Thorbar once (which was somewhat impressive, since he was getting attacked twice every round, while Nox and Reza were getting one hit each).

Add to that spell resistance, and the fact that when a spell fails against him, the ettin gains a buff effect (+4 to Con, for instance), and we have a vicious fight with a vicious monster.

Many potions were consumed, but the battle was won in a most spectacular fashion.

The room has a pit of fire in it, with the ettin on one side, and Nonnie on the other.

Now, Nonnie has been making a point of actually using his toad familiar lately. In this case, he wanted to pull out a Shocking Grasp spell, but had a pit of fire in the way.

Ah, but familiars can deliver touch spells, can they not?

Spell is cast, and Nonnie sends his familiar over… by throwing him over the fire pit in a maneuver we have thus dubbed:

Screaming Toad of Lightning Death!

Around 30 damage, and we now have one fried Ettin. Sweet.

Nonnie claims the Ring of Force Shield in the shape of a (grabs player’s guide and flashes the cover) SEVEN-POINTED STAR!!! (I have taken to doing that every time they see this emblem, to impress upon them its central point in the campaign… and also because it’s funny :P ), and they continue on.

A small fight with some Shadows, who didn’t even get to act before they were destroyed by a combination of fire, a flying Greataxe, and our variant undead-exploding Turn Undead, and the party reaches a collapsed treasury with a giant gold helmet sitting at the bottom of a pool.

While assessing the situation, the helmet turns to look at them…

So, of course, they decide to retrieve the helmet (though they speculate about it being a creature of some sort first).

Thorbar, having ranks in Swim and the Endurance feat (yay!), ties a rope around himself (yay planning!) and swims down to try to secure the helm…

And the crab living in it reaches out and attacks. Of course.

Natural 20, confirmed, grapple check, and Thorbar is now being squished underwater by a giant claw.

Initiatives are rolled, and combat ensues. A cone of fire/steam from Nox, a couple Magic Missiles from Nonnie, and Reza leaps in (ignoring her complete and total inability to swim, plus banded mail) to hit with an Inflict Serious Wounds.

We soon have a steamed crab in a helmet. Looting commences.

So the party gathers their stuff, heads up, and gets their new warhorse.

By the way, I should mention that my FLGS is awesome. I went in looking for a warhorse mini (and to place my preorder deposit for 4e) this week, and they didn’t have any singles. So I spent soem time chatting, and what does the guy do?

He stops talking and tells me to hold on, because he just remembered something. He disappears into the back of the store, and comes back with the special limited edition prerelease white/grey repaint of the warhorse mini.

He comes back up to the front, hands it to me and says “Thanks for placing your preorder today.”

Man, these guys rock!

(Though I really should talk to them about offering to redesign their webpage;) )

In any case, loot thus rescued, they (well, Reza, that pyro) begin discussing just how to go about burning the island, and I begin laughing and shaking my head. After a few minutes, I find out that Reza mostly wants to prevent other goblin tribes from accessing the evil shit they found, so I remind her that the caverns (stone!) won’t burn, and suggest collapsing them instead (Thorbar also took Craft[stonework]). Reza agrees, but only if she can burn the rope bridge at least.

Back on the mainland, Nox insists on going down into the cavern below the goblin tunnels and fighting the Bunyip. Her reasoning is that I can’t tell her about a bear-shark if they don’t get to fight it. Sound reasoning in my books. Uneventful battle, except for the jokes.

Player: So… what are we fighting?

Me: This is one designer’s answer to the age old question: Who would win in a fight between a bear and a shark, if it was mating season?

The answer? Both. <Barry White> Ooohhh, yeeaaahh! </Barry White>

Time for dinner, we took a break, and Ristan arrived. No more dice got rolled that night, but we all had fun hanging out and roleplaying around town. Oh, and shopping! The Sears Catalogue (Magic Item Compendium) is the greatest book ever!

So the group explored town again, to introduce our new players to the personalities. Shalelu the Elf Ranger was spoken to (and was given Bruthazmus the Bugbear’s necklace of elf ears to treat properly). The head of Bruthazmus, well, we figured Shalelu wouldn’t really appreciate the methods… so we gifted that to the owner of the Goblin Squash stables!

The group took a trip to visit (and hit on) Shameless Shayliss, and her sister Katrine, and then ended up at the Inn, where a familiar face was hard at work.

Well, two familiar faces.

Ameiko, the bar owner and kidnap victim, thankful for her rescue, was busying herself trying to get past it all. She sang a Halfling celebratory song on a special request for Nonnie.

But behind the counter, they found one more familiar face.

Elias the Ranger was tending bar.

(Working with the backstory and plot I had planned out with Elias’s player, he has bonded with Ameiko somewhat and is sticking around Sandpoint. With luck, he will become a prominent and memorable NPC.)

And we ended off there, to start into Book 2 next game. This Sunday, we will begin, on Garycon.

What the players liked:

  • Screaming Toad of Lightning Death! Innovative uses of mechanics are fun.
  • Fire pit! They threw the body of the ettin in after, and it was an interesting terrain feature.
  • Elias the Bar-ranger!
  • Crab! And underwater combat. Something we haven’t ever tried before, actually. It won’t be a regular occurrence.

What the players didn’t like:

  • Ettin was a bit too powerful, but it worked out.
  • It was a combat-heavy, RP-lite session until the very end. It was a very relaxed session, however, so not a big deal.

Lessons learned:

  • Ettins are vicious
  • Elias was even better-received than I expected. Good!
  • Um… uh… hooray for things?
  • I really need to start organizing these posts better, with headings and the like. Maybe next time.


ChattyDm  on March 7th, 2008

Screaming Toad of Lightning Death!

This is freaking awesome, best use of a familiar ever!

I’ve had a Fight underwater and I basically ignored swims (walking at bottom), used the DMG’s modifiers for water and disallowed PCs from talking… It became a challenge to group coordination that was well received…. but yeah.. not too often because it gets old.

Excellent writeup my man!

GeeksDreamGirl  on March 9th, 2008

I really enjoy your DM posts!! I’m new to D&D myself and am really liking it so far. If you want, you can go to my blog and read Diary of a Drow, which are my posts about the Eberron campaign I’m in at the moment. I’ve got you bookmarked and will be coming back to read more of your adventures! :)

Graham  on March 9th, 2008

Sounds good to me, GDG. I’ve taken a look at some of your posts, and I love the Dice Penguin.

I think I need to get one for Christine/Nox/etc. :)

Oh, and Daisy! Hilarious!

Reza  on March 24th, 2008

“Reza leaps in (ignoring her complete and total inability to swim, plus banded mail)”

…I swear I did spent some time discussing how we went in to get it! I thought I rationalized that if thorbar was underwater with a rope, i could have grabbed onto him and climbed up! :P
Not being able to “talk” underwater wouldve been interesting ifyou’d restricted us….*pictures self miming to other players and laughs*

Graham  on March 24th, 2008

You did indeed rationalise that, Reza.

Unfortunately, the rationalisation went:

“Thorbar’s tied to this rope we’re holding, so we can get out with the same rope.

–everyone jumps in–

okay… who’s holding the rope outside the water now?”

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