Welcome back to 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! Although they’ve defeated down the kidnappers, and rescued the children, there’s plenty of other missing citizens of Cauldron to save. And their captors? Slavers! They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!
If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to hear 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!, Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune, Shackled City: Part Four: Enter the Malachite Fortress, Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!, and Shackled City: Part Six: Kazmojen.
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 Falco 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!). Rabbity recently ‘befriended’ (she thinks) a vicious howler named Prickles. What could go wrong?!
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 a half-orc janitor named Patch! 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.
Leaving behind Patch to watch over the children, our eclectic crew of musicians headed out onto a mysterious bridge, intent on saving as many people as they could. Falco casts a spell, sinding a trio or glowing orbs of light along the length of the bridge, then under it. The span was over thirty feet across, and below was a drop of nearly fifty feet into frigid, flowing water. They crossed in silence, finding themselves on a narrow landing. Ahead was a sturdy double door flanked by two massive statues of dwarven warriors. To both the left and the right the ledge continued, eventually ending at a smaller door. Unsure which way to go, Aeris approached the left doors.
Mick, followed by his stolen, unreliable, half-broken construct — whose primary job now was carrying sacks of loot — placed a hand on Aeris’ elbow. “Be careful of those statues. I have a bad feeling about this.
“I can put those fears to rest, I think,” Falco remarked grandly. Ruby, his colourful, demanding thrush sat perched upon his shoulder. He wove his hands around and cast another spell, causing his eyes to glow brightly. With his vision now capable of detecting magical auras he examined the statues. “They not animated constructs. No magical auras of any kind.” With a nod, he winked at Aeris. “You’ll be fine.”
“Unless they’re trapped,” Mick pointed out.
“Yes. Well, they’re not magically trapped,” Falco clarified.
“Maybe just the normal kind,” Mick worried.
Aeris sighed. “I can handle a few traps. Besides, we don’t have time for this.” Aeris approached the far left door, looked around cautiously, and opened it.
No traps. Yet.
The door opened into a large guard post, with a set of stone bunkbeds, a table, and some chairs. Another two doors exited the room at the far side. Sleeping in two of the beds were a pair of hobgoblin guards. Two others sat at the table playing some kind of gambling game involving stones and a rough dice.
Aeris leapt into action, charging into the room and swinging her sword at the nearest hobgoblin. Unfortunately, she wasn’t fast enough! The hobgoblins shouted out a loud alarm, waking their sleeping brethren and surely alerting any other enemies nearby. Aware that the last time a hobgoblin shouted an alarm down here they ended up fighting wave after wave of guards, the members of Dinorabbit knew they had to end this quickly!
From outside the room, Rabbity smiled at Prickles. “You stay here, okay? I’ll go check it out.” Rabbity rode Panthy into the room, took a quick peek around, and urged Panthy up onto one of the stone bunkbed’s top beds. Prickles listened and stayed behind.
That’s where our good luck ended.
You see, this past session we had the worst luck. Absolutely, the worst. We constantly — all four of us — rolled critical misses. Yup! A whole lot of ones. And our enemies? Critical hits! SO many critical hits! Despite coming up against weaker enemies nearly the entire session, we barely survived. And you know what? We counted ourselves lucky! It was brutal! Haha.
Back in the guard room the hobgoblins launched into action. They found chinks in our armour, gaps in our defences, and took advantage of our distraction! In short, they dismantled us! And those two armoured hobgoblins? They scored a whopping three critical hits before Aeris and Falco brought them down. As for the two sleeping hobgoblins? They leapt out of bed, grabbed a weapon, and fought unarmored. We missed them over and over again until — finally — Rabbity got a streak of luck (really, it was a pair of average rolls, haha) and took down those two wily hobgoblins in one kinetic blast a piece.
Heavily wounded and more than a little discouraged, our heroes remained alert for further enemies. Thankfully none came.
They took a moment to loot the room, heal what wounds they could, and then moved on. Through the other door they found some swords swinging right at their faces! Yup, there were enemies on the other side of that door, and they were more than prepared for our heroes! With crossed fingers we headed into battle…. only to face more bad luck! Two hobgoblin guards battled Aeris in tight quarters, while another hobgoblin — this one with only one arm — brought a burning hot iron near the face of a captive female human woman across the room.
Aeris tried to get into the room and past the hobgoblins — no luck! She tried to distract the one-armed torturer — no luck! She resorted to fighting her way past the hobgoblins — no luck! Curse their fine armour!
Really, it was curse my luck! I never rolled higher than a 2, and those were the good rolls! We’re a fan of using critical hit and miss cards in our sessions, so my constant 1s caused me to stab myself, exhaust myself, and lower my own AC due to clumsiness.
Aeris’ allies offered support from behind. Falco threw hexes to curse the enemies, Mick performed some inspiring music, and Rabbity… Well she didn’t help Aeris. Instead she shot kinetic blasts past Aeris, through the doorway, and past the guards, in an effort to hit the torturer in the back.
Which miraculously worked. It was our only good roll of the fight! Angry, the torturer turned and left the prisoner alone, turning his attention to… Aeris. Cause she was in the way. Haha.
As the battle raged on Aeris was forced to retreat, and the hobgoblins filtered into the next room. This exposed the weaker party members to melee combat, but it also allowed more of them to attack the hobgoblins. In the end the members of Dinorabbit won the fight, but only due to greater numbers. And an angry howler who bit a hobgoblin’s head right off!
My daughter was very proud of Prickles. Until he leaped into the fray like a maniac and started eating the hobgoblins alive. The others backed up in worry. But, it wasn’t until Prickles approached the chained up human that Rabbity started to get nervous….
With great effort and distractions she managed to get the howler under control. Aeris quickly freed the woman — whose name was Coryston Pike — and helped her out of the room. They chatted with the poor woman for a short time — turned out she was an ex-adventurer — then brought her out to Patch. They repositioned the half-orc and his charges a bit, and asked them to wait. Mick called over his construct and searched through his sacks of loot. He pulled out a shortbow, arrows, quiver, short sword, and leather armour, and gave it to the woman. With well-practised hands she strapped on her armour and gear.
In a final parting, Falco asked Coryston, “How many others prisoners are there?”
Coryston looked grim. “Not nearly enough. Plenty were sold.” After a moment of thought she added, “No more than ten.”
My kids and husband checked their list of missing persons then frowned. If they only found ten more, lots would go unaccounted for. Rabbity hoped her friend, Griffin, would be among them.
Continuing on they found the cell block. Cell after cell was empty. Finally, near the end, they found a few prisoners. The first was a man who had been beaten unconscious. The second was a young man named Deven Myrzal who was huddled in the corner of his cell, terrified they were hobgoblins coming to eat him — as they had promised they would. The next cell had an equally scared and despondent woman named Irruth Mercadi. Rabbity tried to convince the pair that they were safe, but the sight of Prickles did little to help her cause.
Meanwhile, Aeris freed one more. Jasper Drundlesput, an obsessed mathematician who grinned at the sight of her.
“Ah, the odds! The odds indeed! Not in my favour, were they? And look! Here we are. Such a small chance of rescue! And YOU! Such a small chance of success! Smaller even, yes!”
Aeris gave her head a shake and continue checking the cells, while Mick bonded with the gnome. My son thought he was amazing. Haha.
And the rest of the cells? Empty. There were less than ten prisoners.
My daughter freaked out for a bit. Her friend wasn’t here! Was he sold already? She sure hoped not!
Falco healed the unconscious man and learned that his name was Krylscar Endercott, an ex-guard. The boisterous fellow demanded some gear and insisted on helping them out. With a shrug Mick sifted through the gear and gave him some armour and weapons. Falco and Aeris led the freed prisoners back out to Patch. Thus prepared, they continued on… Finding nothing. It was a dead end.
Mick pointed at the bare walls. “Check for secret doors! This place LOVES secret doors.” After only a few minutes they found one. It led to a strange shaped room with another construct in it! This one had big hammers for hands. The construct reached up and pushed on a lever. There was a loud grinding sound, but they couldn’t see what had happened.
Mick tried to command the construct like he did his own! …And it didn’t work. The construct tried to smash in his head.
“New plan!” Mick shouted as he ducked the hammer blows. “Break it!”
Easier said than done! The battle was tough, and just as they thought they had finally won the fight, Rabbity felt something whack against her ears! She look behind her, but only found a wall. Every turned and stared at the wall suspiciously… A few seconds later they saw a metal hammer swing right through the wall at Rabbity again!
Half of the group was super confused, but Mick grinned. “Illusion!” With a laugh he added, “That’s really clever!”
“It’s horrible!” Rabbity shouted.
Luckily, this construct turned out to be the only fight of the day where we didn’t have horrible luck. We had average luck. Which was a huge relief! Heavily wounded but alive, the group took a break.
“We should rest somewhere,” Mick said.
But Rabbity shook her head. “No! There could be more people here! And if we wait they might get sold! Or DEAD!” She said ‘dead’ with such drama. It was adorable.
With a begrudging nod, Mick agreed. “You’re right. Let’s go.”
Exploring the room they found another illusory wall hiding another room and lever. Nothing else. Curiously, they pulled the levers. A pair of blocks slid out of the way and disappeared into the wall revealing two more cell blocks. With a cheer of excitement, Mick and Rabbity hurried in.
The cells were empty.
With a sigh and some frowns the group continued on. In time they found another secret door. Aeris stepped inside and the floor fell out from under her feet.
“Pit trap!” my son shouted with a laugh.
Aeris took a maximum damage — surprising no one — and clambered out. After some further healing the group moved on. With nowhere left to go they did a little backtracking and checked out some other doors. Eventually they discovered Kazmojen’s bedroom — which was disgusting. It was filled with mounds of bones, gore, and plenty of gross furnishings. Prickles wandered in and sat in a mound of mold that was clearly his bed. Deciding to let him relax there for a bit the gang continued on and discovered a hidden treasure chamber filled with gems, coins, armour, weapons, a massive gong, and a trio of treasure chests. My kids were very suspicious of the chests. One was bound in iron, one looked like it had a mouth and was covered in blood, and the third had a fancy dagger on the lid.
“Mimic!” My son exclaimed. “That one with a mouth is BOUND to be a mimic! I know it!”
Aeris approached closer. She discovered the dagger chest was trapped, the iron one was locked, and the mouth chest….
Not a mimic!
But the gong behind the chest was!
“AHHHH! I DID NOT EXPECT THE GONG!” my son exclaimed. “But I should count as right anyway!”
The gong-mimic slammed into Aeris, (with a critical hit!) wrapped her up, and chomped on her. She fought and struggled, but couldn’t escape. “It’s like glue!” she told her companions. “Don’t touch it!” As the mimic kept gnawing on her she gave up trying to escape and instead pulled out a dagger, trying to wound the beast as much as she could before she died. The group tried their best to battle the beast from afar, but the mimic surged forward and slammed into Falco next (with another critical hit!). With both of them being crushed by the sticky mimic, it was up to Mick and Rabbity to claim victory.
Oh, look! More critical fails from our heroes!
In the end the group barely pulled through with both Falco and Aeris a turn away from death. Whew! We were lucky to survive!
Deciding we’d had enough bad luck for the night, we packed up our dice, markers, and papers. Whatever surprises were left for us in the Malachite Fortress would have to wait for another time.
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 Publishing’s website here.
Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.
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.