Today we’re heading back into Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path!
When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post first, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to read a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part One, Shackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!, and Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune.
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when he was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with two NPCs: Patch, the half-orc janitor, and Keygan Ghelve, a local locksmith.
Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.
Keygan Ghelve is a gnome locksmith and competitor of Aeris’. He’s also the reason people are going missing! Months ago strange creatures came up from Keygan’s basement — which leads to the abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune — and kidnapped his rat familiar! They forced Keygan to forge them a set of skeleton keys that can open the locks he’d installed in Cauldron, and a list of all his customers. In the months since, skulks and dark creepers have used his home as a way station, heading out into the city, abducting people from their homes, and dragging them back underground through his basement. Keygan feels guilty, but he’s more worried over his rat than anything! The members of Dinorabbit followed clues that led to Keygan’s shop and discovered his role in the abductions. Although Aeris wanted to turn him in to the guard, the Falco and Mick insisted he come with them if he wanted to save his rat. He’d need to help rescue the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron and undo the damage he’s facilitated.
Aeris decided that after that she’d still have him arrested. She’s a stickler for the rules. …Usually.
Our eclectic team of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, descended through hidden passageways, into the long-abandoned gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, on the trail of subterranean kidnappers! In time they discovered that the kidnappers had been using Jzadirune’s ruins as a base of operations. Although our heroes battled the skulks and their dark creeper minions, my players never found any signs of the kidnapped citizens of Cauldron.
What they did find was a door. The door led to a platform that, with the flick of a switch, descended down a shaft into the darkness. When the doors opened they found themselves someplace else. Someplace new. A place of dwarven construction, made from malachite.
My son and daughter gasped in shock!
“MOM! MOM! The riddle! The riddle says something about that mal-kite! We are almost there!”
My son read the riddle a few more times and double checked the notes that he keeps in his detective’s notebook (which is a copy of Detective Murdoch’s notebook from Murdoch Mysteries). “Hmmm… Yup! Those kidnappers must have been working for a duergar! He’s the true culprit!”
My daughter clapped her hands in glee. “Yes! We are almost there! I have to save my good friend Griffin who I work with! He was supposed to be married! His girlfriend is so sad she cries everyday! We must hurry! He could DIE!” She says the word ‘die’ with such drama. It’s adorable.
Aeris and Falco led the way, with Mick, Rabbity, and Panthy travelling in the middle of the group. Patch and Keygan took up the rear, with the cowardly locksmith strongly debating running away when no one was looking.
Our heroes entered the main hall of the fortress only to realize that the strange stone sculpture in the middle of the room was actually an earth elemental known as a stone spike! The beast slammed into Aeris, causing heavy damage and surprising the party. The battle was over in just two rounds, with Aeris and Rabbity dealing heavy damage to the brute — Aeris bloodraging with her longsword and Rabbity with her water blasts. Mick inspired the group with his wonderful piano music. Falco and Patch had poor luck, not landing a single blow against the creature. And Keygan? Well, he didn’t even try to help. He just lingered at the back near the elevator, ready to flee if the party died.
The battle with the stone creature drew forth an ogre from a nearby chamber. The brute stunk like garbage and wielded a filth encrusted falchion which he swung around clumsily.
“More carrion for my larder!” the brute bellowed. “Very nice!”
“Carrion?!” My son exclaimed. “I know that word! I am not carrion!” He waved his arms around and pointed at the offending miniature ogre on the table. “I am a SINGER! Face the wrath of Mick Frimfrocket!!!”
Unbeknownst to my players the ogre was Xukasus, the fortress majordomo. The ogre was actually an otyugh, polymorphed into the form of an ogre long ago and his room, which was just off of this entry hall, was a massive heap of sewage, gore, and garbage. As the smell trickled out into the entry hall Keygan and Rabbity gagged. By the start of this fight Aeris was already heavily wounded from battling the stone spike. Falco gave her what healing he could and then she strode off, ready to intercept the ogre and protect her fellow bandmates. The battle was a tough one, with Mick urging Keygan to get into the fight and help. The gnome begrudgingly obliged, getting up close and sending a colour spray at the ogre!
Which didn’t work.
Keygan was nearly chopped in half by a falchion for his trouble, and tossed into the ogre’s bedroom for snacking on later.
Aeris too, nearly fell, but Falco and Mick managed to keep her standing long enough with their magic that she took down the disgusting ogre. The group rescued Keygan, healed everyone back up to full hp, and searched the entry hall for anything of interest. After some hesitation they searched the ogre’s room as well. They spotted an iron chest in a massive pile of dung. They debated some more, then decided that whatever look was in that chest could stay there. They didn’t want it that bed. Not if poop was involved!
Which is too bad! It had a good deal of treasure in it. Haha.
Mick used his magic to clean everyone up, and then the group looked around. They discovered two secret passages, chose one at random, and continued on. They found themselves in a dead end hallway, which led to another secret door and a secret armoury filled with racks of armour and weapons. The group took it all — being in a band didn’t earn them much income! — and gave the construct some big sacks of gear to carry. Then they continued on again, finding themselves in a hot, stuffy forge.
There they finally found their first citizens of Cauldron! The dwarf, Sondor Ironfold, worked ceaselessly at a forge alongside three goblins. Nearby two other halfling victims, Jeneer Everdawn and the rogue Maple, sat in the corner putting together chainmail suits one link at a time. Four hobgoblins stood watch in this chamber.
As the group entered the room Panthy growled, low in her throat, and Rabbity launched a blast of water at the nearest hobgoblin. “Get ’em, team!” she called out.
The battle had begun!
This fight was a long one, with plenty of characters on both sides of the fight. The PCs and their allies fought the goblins and hobgoblins in relatively tight quarters, with the dwarf prisoner giving some goblins a few swings of her hammer, and the halfling prisoner Maple giving a hobgoblin a knife to the back. Only Aeris ended up getting hit with any frequency — due to her position on the front lines, not a lack of armour — but even then she only took a total of eight damage through the entire encounter. All our others heroes came out of it unscathed.
When the hall fell silent except for the crackle of flames my kids took it upon themselves to explain to the prisoners that they were about to be rescued by Dinorabbit — the coolest band in Cauldron! Maple was thrilled. Jeneer was clearly delirious with fear. And Sondor was… sad, quite frankly. She dropped her hammer to the ground and cried. They thought it was relief, at first, but it soon became clear Sondor was in mourning. She and her husband had been kidnapped together, but her husband had been sold as a slave four weeks ago. She knew she would never see him again.
My kids were quiet for a moment. It was the first time that they realized they might not be able to save everyone. People had been going missing from Cauldron for a few months. If their captures were slavers, surely Sondor’s husband wasn’t the only one who had already been sold…
My husband pulled out his list of missing people and put a little checkmark beside Maple, Sondor, and Jeneer. Then he crossed out Sondor’s husband, Lorthan. The look on my kids faces when that poor guy’s name got crossed off was a strange mix of solemnity and determination. It’s not a look I see on them often. Or ever, really.
“We’re going to get these people to safety right now!” My son / Mick announced.
My daughter shook her head. As Rabbity she said: “No! I’m not leaving here without Griffin! He is my friend and his fiancé cries too much with him gone!”
Mick grinned and pointed at Keygan. “He’s going to do it! Keygan! You get your wish! You have your rat back, and now your job is to bring these people into the elevator, up through Jzadirune, and back to Cauldron. Bring them to the Church of Adabar. That lady named…” My son paused. “I forget her name.”
“JENYA will help you! Now GO! Save people and redeem yourself!” My son pointed around grandly used his ‘serious hero’ voice.
“Yeah! And bring these bags of loot up with you!” Rabbity added practically. “Then the construct can help us fight again!”
Keygan, of course, needed no further encouragement. He groaned in relief, grabbed some bags, and left without even a goodbye. The newly liberated citizens of Cauldron followed after him, with Maple and Sondor lending a hand with the loot.
Our heroes stood alone in the forge for a few moments.
“Aww!” My daughter suddenly exclaimed. “We should have taken the stuff from these dead hobgoblins before sending Keygan away! Now we have to carry it!”
The group took what gear they could from the bodies, and explored the room. There were two doors leading deeper into the complex. My kids started to argue over which door to open, which is a sure sign that they’re getting tired. We paused the game there, with promises to play again soon. After all, they still had people to save!
Thanks for joining us, everyone! I hope you enjoyed getting to hear a bit about our crazy adventures. We’ll see you again soon!
Behind the Screen
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo’s website here.
Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign in Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the rules). Our characters utilize the following: The shaman and the bloodrager classes, as well as the bloodrager archetype spelleater, can all be found in the Advanced Class Guide. The urban bloodrager archetype can be found in Heroes of the Streets. The Kineticist class can be found in Occult Adventures. The monk and bard are base classes found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (or in a convenient travel-sized edition: Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition) while the prankster archetype for bards can be found in the Advanced Race Guide.
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