Welcome to d20 Diaries! Today we’re taking a look at my husband and mine’s first session of Iron Gods! Iron Gods is a six-part adventure path by Paizo Publishing that fuses technology and fantasy into one awesome Pathfinder campaign. The first volume, Fires of Creation, is written by Neil Spicer, and is intended to bring characters from levels one to four. The Iron Gods Player’s Guide is a free download on Paizo’s website, here. For further information on the Iron Gods campaign, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods Adventure Path,’ and for information on our characters, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix.’ If you’re going to play Iron Gods yourself, I highly recommend picking up the Iron Gods Pawn Collection, which has a ton of unique pawns for use in the campaign.
Our story begins with Haji returning to Torch after a week spent mining in the surrounding foothills. He strode into town tall and proud, olive skin slick with sweat, and long black hair and beard weighted down by the stones and gems braided into its length. He carried his trusty shovel over his shoulder and wore a heavy backpack. Beside him scurried Rothmhar, a hideously ugly, hairless rat with rocky protrusions sticking up out of his flesh.
Haji strode through town, watching the citizens with his one green eye. The other eye was nothing but a large glittering gem resting in an empty eye socket and encircled by a massive triangular brand. Despite his poor vision, Haji noticed the garbage piling up in the streets, the over-crowded bars and and the unusual amount of idle citizens. Haji popped by his tiny shack in the junkyard to drop off his gear, then visited his friend, Junkmaster Garritt Burrwaddle. After paying him a few shiny stones as rent he set off to visit his girlfriend, Nix.
Nix’s home was a small one-room warehouse crowded with a mess of scrap, cluttered worktables and unfinished projects. When Haji arrived, Nix was tinkering with an unfinished device–a gun that had more in common with a hunk of junk than a proper firearm. She wore massive work goggles over her eyes and was wielding a screwdriver with her large mechanical arm. After a short reunion, Nix exclaimed with a smile:
“Took you long enough, freak! Let’s go!”
“Go? Go where?”
“Go where? What?! Oh, boy, are YOU in for a surprise! Come on!”
Nix led Haji through Torch, then up the Black Hill where Haji was surprised to discover no smiths, and no labourers. And worst of all? No violet flame. The lifeblood of Torch had died. Without the violet flame atop Black Hill, the town’s economy would flounder, and they would no longer be able to pay tribute to the oppressive Technic League.
“See? What the hell, right?” Nix prodded. “When it went out people were freaking out. Screaming and crying! Haha! They’re still freaking out! It’s been… like… four days or something.”
Surmounting the hill, Haji and Nix went to check out the former site of the flame. Now little more than depression in the earth filled with a strange, rippling, black fluid, that swirled with a prismatic sheen. It smelt weird–burning wildflowers, crude oil, vinegar, citrus, even vanilla on occasion. Nix scooped some up in a bucket and carried to home to test in her alchemy lab.
“Whoah! What are you going to do with that?” Haji asked with worry. “Don’t eat it! That stuff will mess you up!”
Nix only laughed.
The next few days were busy. Nix tinkered in her lab, Haji sifted through the junkyard, did a bit of mining and stuffed himself to bursting at the local taverns. And Torch? Things weren’t looking so well for our little town.
Massive headaches plagued its citizens. Tunnels were discovered underneath Torch, where more than a few groups of adventurers had gone missing plumbing their depths. Khonnir Baine, a friend of Haji’s and one of Torch’s Councilmen entered the tunnels and returned with a disabled automaton. After speaking with the rest of the Council he headed back below ground, and hasn’t been heard from since. The Council posted a staggering reward for the rescue of Khonnir–4,000 gold! And another 4,000 gold to whoever can get the violet flame burning again.
Worried for Khonnir, Haji picked up Nix, and together they went to the Foundry to visit Khonnir’s daughter, Val. The place was closed, but as they approached they heard a scream and a lot of loud crashing noises.
“Val?!” Haji called out. He took off at a run for the Baine’s home. “This way, Nix!”
As they turned the corner a metal monstrosity came crashing out of the front door with a jerky, staggering gait. As wood splinters showered the front steps, the five-foot tall, three-legged robot reached for the house and began tearing it apart with its four-fingered hands. The automaton was a wreck. Although it’s spider-like legs allowed it to maneuver across the ground with ease, the rest of the body was in poor repair. Parts of its chassis was missing, revealing technological components and delicate circuitry within. It’s head was lop-sided, and each movement made a loud and tortured grinding noise.
From inside the house, Haji heard Val scream.
Haji growled and charged at the robot with his shovel. “I’m coming, Val!”
From behind him, Nix smiled. “Whoah! This thing is amazing! Look at it move!”
“Take it down, Nix!” Haji ordered.
Nix laughed. Pulling a clockwork device from her belt she gave it a twist, causing thin protrusions like a spider’s leg to extend from its centre. Nix placed the device against her collarbone, where the thin filaments punctured her skin. Suddenly a crackling aura of electricity sparked to life around her. A moment later it disappeared, but she could feel it around her. The air was alive with power.
“With pleasure, babe.”
Haji fought the robot with his shovel, putting his muscles to good use, while Nix drew her morningstar and beat at the robot. Although it took the pair a while to take the mechanical marvel down, they were relatively unscathed from the battle. Haji hurried off into the house, worried over Val, while Nix stayed outside and began disabling the robot for scrap.
At the sight of Haji, Val burst out from her hiding place under a table and gave the intimidating half-orc a big hug. Haji laughed with relief.
In time, he calmed Val down and learned that the rumours were true, Khonnir Baine was missing. With hopeful eyes, Val asked Haji if he was going to save her father, and Haji assured her he would. In gratitude, Val offered Haji and Nix the use of the Foundry Tavern as a base of operations while they explored the tunnels beneath Torch. She promised them clean bedrolls on the floor, and hearty meals cooked for them whenever they desired. With more heartfelt pleas from the child to save her father, Haji went back outside to see Nix.
Poking her head up from the robots inner workings, Nix smiled widely. “Give me a hand hauling this back home! There’s all kinds of great stuff in here!”
Haji laughed. “Want to go to those deadly tunnels under Torch to find Khonnir with me?”
“Pfft! Heck yeah!”
As they dragged a broken metal automaton down the street, Nix pointed out, “Hey, we should go to the Town Hall first so we get paid for it. Isn’t there a reward for saving him?”
With their priorities set straight, Haji and Nix dropped the robot’s carcass off in Nix’s workshop and traipsed through Torch to the town hall.
Although one of the nicest buildings in the town, it was quiet today. Only one Councillor, Dolga Freddert, was present in the offices. Dolga was well-respected around Torch, and had been around since the violet flame first arced up into the sky. She was there, experimenting with smelting, while the town of Torch sprung up around her. Unfortunately, neither Haji or Nix we particularly well-versed in local history. Both were more interested in their crafts than politics and local legends.
“What do you want?” Dolga asked from her cluttered office. Despite the dwarven woman’s old age, a massive adamantine warhammer was within reach of her desk.
“We’re going to rescue Khonnir Baine.” Haji replied.
Nix raised an eyebrow and smiled. “You paying?”
Dolga frowned. She gave the duo a thorough once over, then shrugged. “Why not. You won’t be the first to die down there, and I’m getting desperate. Come in then, and I’ll tell you what I know.”
Haji and Nix spoke with Dolga for a while, learning all they could about the tunnels below Torch, the previous groups who ventured there, and what was discovered within. Of particular note? The entrance to the tunnels is in the Weeping Pond. Underwater. Could be trouble! Haji and Nix bargained with Dolga, eventually earning the group a writ good for 20% off at all shops and stalls in Torch, and the promise that Joram Kyte, a Councillor and priest of Brigh, would cast a water breathing spell upon the duo whenever they desired. Armed with information and away to avoid drowning, Haji thanked Dolga for her time, and then left with Nix.
After a quick trip to the temple of Brigh to have Joram work his magic upon them, Haji and Nix arrived at the Weeping Pond. This placid-looking pond was devoid of life. No plants grew near its banks, no fish swam within it, and no animals ventured near it. The placid waters are toxic and stunk of sulphur and other chemicals. It was enough to make their nostrils burn and their eyes water.
Haji examined the surrounding terrain, and came up with a pretty good guess of where the tunnels were most likely to be located. Then the pair plunged into the poisonous pond. Visibility was horrible, and they stuck close together to avoid getting lost.
Suddenly, the water shifted around Haji, and what looked like a circular air bubble the size of a child sped straight toward him. As it slammed into his chest its touch burned like acid. It stuck to him–or it tried to–and Haji squirmed out of its grip. He swung his shovel at it, but the water made it difficult, and although he struck the strange gelatinous blob, he barely harmed it at all.
Seeing Haji flail around like a weirdo, Nix swam a bit closer to him, but couldn’t see the creature. Haji was on his own!
As the giant amoeba (Bestiary 2) surged at Haji, sizzling away part of his flesh with it’s touch, Haji screamed–a sign to Nix that something had hurt him, even if she couldn’t see it. Changing tactics, Haji stabbed at the creature with his shovel, jabbing its tip into the weird blob just as he would dig into the earth. By the time Nix joined the battle it was half-over, and the strange creature broke apart and died shortly after.
With no further enemies barring their way, Haji Nix and Rathmhar discovered the underground tunnels and made their way inside. Eventually they reached a stony, soot-scarred beach. The dark water continued on, past the beach and into the darkness. The air in this cavern still stunk, and the walls were thick with moisture. Upon the stone beach was a head-high ledge that opened the way to a low-ceilinged cave dotted with stalagmites and stalactites.
Haji and Nix clambered up out of the water and onto the stone beach. They discovered signs of the previous explorer’s passage: footprints and scuff marks leading up the ledge and into the cavern, as well as signs of an alchemical explosion. As they looked around, Haji noticed an approaching light just before a trio of giant beetles with glowing glands on their heads burst from a fissure in the wall over the water. The beetles looked ravenous, and surged across the water at Haji, Nix and Rathmhar. But Haji wasn’t taken by surprise. He smashed his shovel into one of the bugs, crushing its head before it had a chance to bite him. The other fire beetles (Bestiary or Bestiary Pocket Edition.) put up more of a fight, but not enough to be more than a hinderance. Nix set upon their corpses with glee, carving out their glowing glands to use as a light source.
With their macabre lantern prepared, Haji led the way up onto the ledge, and into the low-ceilinged cavern. Being over six and a half feet tell, Haji had to stoop quite low just to proceed, but Nix had less trouble, being only five foot four. The cavern was filled with stalagmites and stalactites, turning it into a forest of rough stone. As they creeped forward they discovered a body. Worried, Haji immediately fell to his knees… And was relieved to see it wasn’t Khonnir Baine. It was a half-orc woman who had clearly been robbed. She had wounds on her back… Knife, perhaps? Some kind of short blade? Whatever it was she hadn’t seen it coming. Unfortunately for the corpse, neither Haji nor Nix had any idea who she was. With a shrug they continued on, eventually entering a large cavern. Haji smiled and stretched, happy to be able to stand up straight.
The cavern continued straight ahead, with a pool of water on the left and a tunnel leading deeper into the caves on the right. Haji and Nix entered the cave warily, worried about whatever had killed the half-orc. Noticing a magical aura coming from in the water, they approached the pool only to come face to face with a pale white, frog beast.
Despite the warning, Nix only laughed. “Close ONE eye? Which one are you gonna use?”
But as the blindheim turned its red gaze onto Nix it wasn’t very funny anymore. She was blind. It bit her and tried to drag her into the pond, but she struggled. Haji beat it upside the head and Nix punched at it with her metal arm–striking nothing but air. This fight would be up to Haji!
The battle against the blindheim turned out to be the toughest fight the party faced so far, lasting a staggering seven full rounds before the creature was defeated. Bad luck plagued the party, with miss after miss from both Haji and the blinded Nix. Right before the battles end, Nix fell unconscious, and a furious Haji finally beat the blindheim’s head into paste before hurrying to Nix’s side.
“Nix! Can you hear me?”
Using magic granted to him by Rothmhar, Haji healed her wounds.
“Wow, this place SUCKS!” she remarked as she regained consciousness. “I mean it! It’s so overpopulated! How have these things not eaten each other by now?”
Haji laughed. “The blindness will pass in a few hours. Best to head back home for now. But first…”
Haji dove into the water and looked around for the source of the magical aura he had seen earlier. Finding it on a dead body, Haji dragged it to the surface.
“Don’t be Khonnir. Don’t be Khonnir.”
The body was mostly eaten… The armour and clothing were ruined. It looked male… It could be Khonnir… But the belt pouch on the hip finally gave him a clue. It contained gold, some healing potions–all of which could be Khonnir’s–and a silver holy symbol of a pick made from bones with a skull at its centre. Definitely NOT Khonnir’s.
Haji breathed a sigh of relief before returning to Nix’s side. Leaving the body (and the other one) behind, Haji helped Nix through the stalactite forest, back down the ledge and into the flooded tunnels. Tying themselves together to prevent being lost, they set off into the toxic Weeping Pond and finally climbed out stinky and soaking wet onto the beach in Torch.
Haji and Nix had survived their first foray into the tunnels.
Would they survive the next?
That’s up to the dice!
I hope you enjoyed our first experience with the Iron Gods Adventure Path! Tune in next time when we continue our foray below Torch with more from book one, Fires of Creation!