Another weekend has come and gone, and this one was busy! Between swimming classes, birthday parties, errands, and the weekly trip to the laundromat, there wasn’t much time for other activities. We played some board games with my daughter, my son started work on an ambitious dinosaur puzzle, and I posted in the horde of play-by-post games I’m involved in.
My family and I had a bit of time to play Shackled City. Aeris, Mick, Falco and Rabbity headed deep underground through forgotten secret passages and stairwells with Patch and Keygan (very unenthusiastically) accompanying them. They stepped foot into Jzadirune and explored a strange room where they heard birds chirping, gnomes laughing, and felt a breeze blowing on their skin. Massive masks hung on the walls. As they moved into to illusion-draped room to look around they discovered two strange doors–like giant gears that roll into the walls, these were the Doors with Teeth. My children were thrilled! But seeing a glimmer of light coming from the cracks around one of the doors, Aeris and Mick went to peek inside, while Falco moved deeper into the room.
Suddenly the masks on the wall began to sing, welcoming them to Jzadirune and warning them against pilfering. Although my kids loved it, and asked me to sing the song to them over and over, it wasn’t so great for their characters. The illusory song caused the figures beyond the lit door to notice the heroes. Quickly camouflaging themselves, the skulks vanished. They lay in wait to ambush the PCs, but after only one round of battle they ran off, deeper into Jzadirune through makeshift, rough tunnels that had been drilled through the walls.
Our heroes gave chase, engaging in a series of skirmishes against a pair of skulks. Eventually they came to a room with a strange mechanical construct in it, clearly the source of the roughly drilled tunnels. There a dark creeper ordered the construct to attack the intruders, in gnome. Mick laughed and told it to stop. The pair argued and bickered, giving the construct contrary orders until the creeper gave up and fled. Mick was thrilled with his new, neat, half-broken construct, and the group was off again, charging blindly through the tunnels, deeper into Jzadirune.
One battle into this place and they’re already super lost! Haha. But by then we were out of time, so further exploration would have to wait. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
In other news, Pathfinder recently announced a new product coming out soon. A new style of flip map tiles, which honestly look awesome. Similar to their old flip-tiles, these are double-sided, can be used with dry erase markers, and connect wonderfully to one another. The differences are in size (these are a bit bigger, and are square), and in number (these have a whopping 42 tiles per pack, as compared to the old ones which had 18). The tiles look great, and I’m curious to see how they’ll look and handle in person. The map tiles are due out in April.
The other exciting release is for a book called ‘Disciple’s Doctrine‘ Like the other ‘Faith’ books before it (Faiths of Balance, Faiths of Purity, Faiths of Corruption, Faiths & Philosophies, etc.), this book is a soft cover intended for players that takes a look at a dozen complex philosophies that are found throughout Golarion. Including the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, Magnimar’s mystery cults, and the Oracular Council of Po Li, this book is filled with a wide variety of doctrines. The one I’m most excited for? The Prophets of Kalistrade! FINALLY! What are they? I have no idea! What I do know? They’ve been name-dropped since way back in the first Pathfinder release, they’re important, they follow strange taboos, they wear white and gold, they wear gloves, and they like making money. Anything else? Nope! I’ve got no clue! I’ve been curious about this ‘faith’ for years, so I’m excited to find out. Like all the player intended soft covers, this book has a lot of traits, feats, spells and archetypes in it to make use of. I’m curious to see what it contains!
One final bit of excitement happened around my house this week. My husband decided he’d like to play a campaign with just me and him. So I named him the ones I have that he hasn’t played (not a very long list, haha) and he thought about it for a while. He narrowed it down quick, but was torn between Wrath of the Righteous and Iron Gods. So while he debates between two awesome campaigns, I’m going to crack out my first volume of each and give them a reread. It never hurts to be prepared!
That’s all for today. Thanks for checking in with us here at d20 Diaries. We’ll talk again soon.
d20 gaming happens plenty in my house, but Friday nights is special. Friday night is for adults only! While my kids and my brother’s kids run around, eat popcorn and have a movie night together, we parents play some Pathfinder. If all four of us are free we play Mummy’s Mask, and if only three of us are free we play Reign of Winter.
And this week? Reign of Winter.
Reign of Winter is a six-volume Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo Publishing. The campaign begins in the village of Heldren in the nation of Taldor during mid-summer. A blizzard appears out of nowhere, blanketing the nearby Border Wood with snow. When a wounded caravan guard delirious with frost-bite and fatigue staggers into town telling crazy stories about ice fairies, mass slaughter, and a kidnapped noblewoman, the village leaders urge the PCs to investigate his claims. Tasked with finding the missing noblewoman, discovering what happened to the guard’s caravan, and investigating the cause of this unnatural winter, the heroes set out to the Border Wood. Deep in its depths they discover a magical portal to the frozen land of Irrisen, whose supernatural winter will soon engulf all of Golarion unless the PCs can discover the fate of the otherworldly witch Baba Yaga. But following her trail of bread crumbs will take them far from home… Through the eternally frozen lands of Irrisen, and into even stranger lands beyond.
Though the premise is simple–find Baba Yaga and end this unnatural winter before it freezes the whole world–this campaign has a ton of twists, turns, and surprises. Each and every adventure in the series is well-written, fast-paced, and loads of fun. It features a lot of awesome locations, some of which are bound to take your players completely by surprise (parts four and five, here’s looking at you!). One of my favourite parts? Reign of Winter doesn’t always assume what your players do. It leaves it up to them. Although they have destinations to reach and a task that must be completed in each volume to keep them working towards their goals, how they go about achieving it, and who they decide to help or hinder is almost always up to them. This is awesome to see in an adventure path, and really lets the player’s be in control of their destiny, despite being in a pretty tight, ‘on-the-rails’ style of campaign.
In terms of supplemental material, this campaign works well with nearly everything Pathfinder. It’s particularly well-suited to the addition of occult classes and mythic tiers. Surprisingly, gunslingers will also have some distinct advantages during part of the campaign. The only class I don’t recommend is the paladin. Although mechanically they will have a ton of opportunity to shine, and they’re not forced to commit evil acts, the players will not always be able to fight the evil they see. In addition, this campaign’s major goal is to find and save Baba Yaga, an evil witch of tremendous power. Most paladin’s would have a hard time justifying this. Although it can be done, this campaign is much more enjoyable for everyone involved without being constrained by such a strict moral code.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is almost entirely a cold-weather campaign. Your characters will need to find ways to deal with the winter’s chill as soon as possible. But, that doesn’t limit character choices. In fact, as much as playing winter-themed characters can be fun, it’s more beneficial to go in the opposite direction. You are fighting against winter’s spread, after all. In a practical sense, many creatures native to frozen climates have resistances to the cold and weaknesses to heat. Preparation and adaptation to the cold is more important than being at home in cold climates.
I have read a lot of adventures and campaigns over the years, and I can honestly say that Reign of Winter is one of my all-time favourites. Top three, for sure! If you ever get the chance to play, read or run it, I highly encourage you to do so!
My group of players for Reign of Winter is incredibly small. I GM it, while my husband and my brother play it. That’s it. Three people, with a two-person party. Obviously, this brings up some challenges, which will be discussed later. But for now, let’s meet the heroes of my Reign of Winter Campaign: Huxley Rangvald and Aesir Havelok.
Aesir Havelok is a hunter and fisherman of Ulfen descent. During the summer months he lives in the Taldan town of Heldren. During the fall he travels north by ship to meet up with his cousins, and during the winter months he joins his cousins in their longboats, hunting great sea-beasts. He is a cleric of the agathion Ylimancha, the neutral good empyreal lord of seafarers, coastal waters, and creatures that fly. Aesir is particularly good with a bow, and has a way with animals. In addition to summoning creatures to aid him in combat he began the campaign with two beloved pets: his dog, Bjorn, and his seahawk, Bronna. Along the way he also became the proud master of a combat-trained warhorse, Ulbricht, and a wild, giant weasel, Brigga. For a time he was master of a glorious white stag he dubbed Loki.
Aesir is friendly and likeable, but not around Heldren much. He’s not quite considered a local, and is more of a welcome outsider. He’s brave and bold, and tries to inspire others to be the same. He dreams of hunting epic sea monsters, and making a name for himself that his ancestors and future descendants can be proud of! Aesir is my brother’s character.
Huxley Rangvald is a man of contrasts. Raised in a museum with an Ulfen father who longs for adventure, a Taldan mother with a head for business, and a horde of siblings and cousins, Huxley has become a fusion of cultures. Descended from an Ulfen warrior who once protected Taldan royalty and earned all the wealth he could carry as his pay for a decade’s work, Huxley’s great-grandfather used his eye for quality to fill his arms and backpack with priceless relics, valuable antiques and historic artifacts. But instead of heading home, he founded a museum, married a wealthy woman and lived a life of leisure.
Huxley himself grew up well-educated and wanting for nothing. But, living among the relics of legends and heroes, surrounded by history, he yearned to do more. He loves hunting for relics and bargaining for new acquisitions, and has managed to expand his family’s collection tremendously. Huxley is an occultist who uses historic artifacts to unlock and channel his own psychic powers. He is my husband’s character.
The Story so Far…
My group is currently on book one of Reign of Winter, The Snows of Summer. Having set out from the town of Heldren into the Border Wood, the duo fought against strange creatures, frigid icy fey, and the ever-encroaching cold to rescue a missing noblewoman from a group of bandits. But clues discovered in the forest led them to believe that the source of the arctic weather lay within the woods itself. After returning the noblewoman to Heldren and resupplying, Huxley and Aesir returned to the depths of the frozen woods and travelled to its centre, deep in the Somir Valley. Along the way they met a strange doll in a small house within a haunted ice maze. Made from the soul of a child by someone foul, the doll seemed an oddity at first. But as the doll began to act of its own volition, they believed it was haunted, and finally, alive. Aesir though it was creepy and should be destroyed, but Huxley thought it was amazing! He treated the doll kindly and befriended her, learning that her name was Thora. With the creepy doll in Huxley’s care they soldiered on. The cold intensified, and more strange creatures foreign to the woods appeared. After combating terrifying foes amidst a howling blizzard they followed the impossible storm to its centre and found a portal. Suddenly the doll screamed and fought like crazy to prevent them from entering.
Huxley had learned much about the doll during the journey, not only from speaking with her, but from examining her with his occultist abilities and vast arcana knowledge. He knew that whoever had killed the human Thora had captured and used it’s soul to create a dangerous construct known as a guardian doll. Such dolls much follow their creators commands, and can be given tasks to carry out, but are intelligent and cunning. In addition, they lash out against those that they loved in life. But, the dolls are still influenced by the soul used to create them, and as evil as its commands might be, the child inside the doll–little Thora–was a good girl. Huxley had finally discovered the dolls purpose: to prevent anyone from approaching the portal. Knowing Thora would attack them to the best of her ability, he bound her and blindfolded her, and stuffed her inside his bag. Although it was cruel, he hoped that upon leaving the portal behind, the doll would no longer be compelled to harm him. Then her actions would be her own again.
And if she still wanted to harm him? Well, that was her right. He did tie her up and stuff her in a bag….
Just as they were about to approach the portal a nearby tree moved, revealing itself to be a moss troll, the final guardian of the strange portal. Dealing with Thora and the troll at the same time proved a challenge, but Huxley and Aesir triumphed and moved to examine the portal. Huxley determined that the portal was the cause of the unnatural winter, and by closing it they could return the local weather to normal. Unfortunately, the source of the portal wasn’t here, it was on the other side of the portal. Knowing they would be stuck on the other side, wherever that was, they decided to pass through. Only to have something come out of the portal!
A tall figure in black armour, bleeding from many wounds, and clearly near death. The armoured knight removed his helmet and fell into the snow, revealing himself to be an incredibly old man. But this was no mortal… This was Dark Midnight, the Black Rider and one of three Heralds of Baba Yaga’s return. As he was dying, the man drew the others to him and imparted upon them both wisdom and knowledge.
Every hundred years the Great Witch, Baba Yaga, returns to her country of Irrisen to place a new daughter upon the throne. But this year, something went wrong. Queen Elvanna, ruler of Irrisen, did not wish to give her throne to another. Forgetting that the throne was not hers to give, it was Baba Yaga’s, Elvanna set out to kill the Heralds of her return, kill all those loyal to Baba Yaga, and take the entirety of Golarion as her throne. To this end, she has placed magical portals throughout the world, with the intent of spreading endless winter across the globe. Millions will perish, and Elvanna will rule over the frozen world that remains.
The source of this portal was close, within a few days travel once they passed through the portal, in a place called the Pale Tower, but the other portals throughout the world? They were farther, and they were many. Huxley and Aesir would not be able to shut them all down alone, and with even one remaining, the eternal grip of winter would continue to spread.
But Dark Midnight offered them hope.
Baba Yaga is always prepared for betrayal. She set a contingency in place–left a trail of breadcrumbs for the Herald’s to follow. But death was coming for the last of her Heralds, and the PCs would have to take up his cause. After saving their home by destroying the portal in the Pale Tower, they would need to travel to Whitethrone, the capital of Irrisen. There Queen Elvanna had imprisoned Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut as a symbol of her power. If they could free the Hut and step inside they could travel anywhere–even across planes and to other worlds. But to do so they needed the keys to the hut. Objects mundane in appearance but attuned to different locations. Combining these objects provides navigational direction for the Hut to follow. Elvanna had deactivated the keys, but Baba Yaga had already placed a few keys in hiding for her Heralds to find, and Dark Midnight has done so. With these keys, they can follow Baba Yaga’s trail, rescue her from whatever prison she is trapped in, so that Baba Yaga can destroy the portals–all of them.
But Baba Yaga has a way of testing even those who she desires to aid. The keys are but the first in a series of trials. Where they will take the heroes, Dark Midnight doesn’t know, but he does know that there will be more. More keys to find, more clues to follow, and more trials to face. In the end, they will find Baba Yaga and Baba Yaga will put an end to Elvanna’s foolishness. But until then, they would need a final boon from him. For only Baba Yaga and her Heralds can enter the Dancing Hut. To save their world, they would need to become Her Herald in Dark Midnight’s place. They would need to usher in the return of Baba Yaga.
They hesitated only a moment. Huxley needed no incentive to accept a mission involving a MAGICAL LEGENDARY HUT! While Aesir was bound by honour to save the town of Heldren. Accepting Dark Midnight’s offer, the Herald gave them the keys to the hut, and then passed onto them, his powers. The man in the armour had died. But Dark Midnight lived. Huxley Rangvald and Aesir Havelock took on the mantle and responsibilities of the Black Rider, and with it came great power. They achieved their first mythic tier, and charged through the portal only to come out… in Irrisen.
Eventually, Thora stopped screaming and trying to murder Huxley, which made him very happy, but he did not release her from the bag. Not yet. He needed to be sure she was under no further orders before allowing her more freedom.
In time they heard screams on the wind, and hurried off to find the source. Finding a caravan of dogsleds and their riders under attack by a massive praying mantis–a creature native to the Border Wood back in Taldor. Huxley and Aesir helped fight the beast off and introduced themselves to the people they had saved. Turns out it was a group of importers, returning to the nearby town of Waldsby after weeks away acquiring supplies. They thanked Huxley and Aesir, but had no time for chatting. A storm was coming, and they hoped to reach shelter before becoming trapped in it. Together, they all rode off. But they could not outrun the storm. It came upon them before arriving in Waldsby, and they sought shelter in a cave. There they settled in for the night and had a chance to socialize. Huxley and Aesir shared their tale, and their goal to visit the Pale Tower to save their town, but left out all mention of Thora, Dark Midnight and being Heralds of Baba Yaga.
The caravan was run by a woman by the name of Nadya. It had once been her husband’s business, but his death a few years ago left her in charge of the supply runs. Her husband’s business partner and good friend, Laszlo, stayed on to help her, and was here as well. The third member of their group was Inuq, a foreign woman who was the owner, breeder, and trainer of the dogs they used to pull the sleds, as well as owner of the sleds themselves. Typically, the three were the only ones in the caravan, but this last run had been long, and a few more hands had volunteered to join them. Laszlo’s son, Andrei, who had almost been eaten by the mantis, and Nicholai, Nadya’s neighbour, who was a friendly fellow, but didn’t seem comfortable this far from town. As the night wore on, they settled in to sleep, only to have a visitor arrive–a forlarren musician on her way from Waldsby to the Pale Tower. The group begrudgingly let the fey join them in the cave, but clearly the mood was tense. Nadya covered for Huxley and Aesir, lying about their purpose and claiming they were distant relatives of hers. They went along with the lies, knowing something was off, and managed to avoid confrontation with the ice fey. But as she played some local music for the group, she watched the PCs keenly, curious if they knew the words and clearly trying to discover what part of their tale was lies.
The evening was tense, but in time everyone went to sleep. When they awoke it was to the sounds of Nadya screaming in pain. Something had hurt her! Huxley and Aesir charged in to see what had happened to find the forlarren gone, and Nadya wounded from intense cold–a magical spell most likely. The group muttered and worried over the attack, and wondered how the forlarren could slip away so quickly, but Huxley felt a nagging worry. He checked his bag to find Thora there, but unbound, and her tiny footprints heading toward Nadya’s tent. At the back he found a small section of canvas cut away by a sharp object, just large enough for a doll to peek through.
It wasn’t the forlarren that had attacked Nadya. It was Thora. But why?
Huxley kept this news to himself and chatted with the others. They set out for the day and Huxley continued his prying. Eventually he discovered that Nadya had three children. Two boys and a girl named Thora. While Nadya was away on a supply run the Lady of the Pale Tower and her Guard had come through Waldsby on a surprise visit. Thora had been heard making a joke about the witch, and dragged back to the Pale Tower as a prisoner. Her babysitter, Nicholai and his wife, was distraught, and told Nadya what had happened as soon as she returned home. Nadya rode for the Pale Tower, begging for her daughter back, and was promised that if she could bring back more than double her typical shipment of goods to the Pale Tower, her daughter would be released. Nadya agreed and hurried back to Waldsby. Laszlo and Inuq prepared to join her, but to bring back double would be a long trip, and they would need more sleds. Inuq had plenty of sleds and dogs, but they would need others to drive them. Nicholai volunteered out of guilt, knowing that little Thora had been in his care. Laszlo’s son volunteered out of pride and excitement, hoping to join his father on an important journey. Now Nadya was returning to Waldsby, and then on to the Pale Tower to get Thora back.
But she wouldn’t get Thora back, would she? For the witch of the Pale Tower, Nazhena Vassiovna, had killed Thora, captured her soul, and turned her into a guardian doll, sending her through the portal to the Border Wood to stalk and kill all who attempted passage.
Huxley had Thora. And as a guardian doll, Thora would be compelled to lash out and kill all those who she had loved in life. Including her mother, Nadya, and her brothers… Worrying over what to do, Huxley kept his theories (and Thora) to himself. The journey continued, and they triumphed over the dangers of the frozen woods and plains.
But as Walsby came into sight, Huxley made a decision. Taking Nadya aside he told her about Thora’s death, and her rebirth as a doll. Nadya didn’t believe him, and was angry, but as Huxley pulled out Thora, Nadya broke down in tears. The doll wore her daughter’s clothes, and her daughter’s real hair had been used in the doll’s creation. After crying over the fate of her child, Nadya lashed out at the doll, tossing it into the snow. That abomination wasn’t her daughter. Her daughter was dead. That thing needed to be destroyed.
Aesir agreed, but Huxley and Inuq did not. And as Huxley cradled little Thora in his arms, he vowed he would not let anyone harm the girl, whatever form she might be in. Meanwhile, Aesir convinced Nadya that they would seek vengeance against the White Witches on Nadya’s behalf–or alongside her, if she desired.
Setting out to Waldsby with grim determination, the group entered town in order to resupply and rest. Huxley and Aesir would set out for the Pale Tower the next morning, with–hopefully–someone to guide them there.
But Waldsby was not what they expected. It was strange. A mirror image of Heldren in both layout, and its citizens, Aesir and Huxley were both creeped out. They resupplied and socialized, but found the people here hard, and cold where the citizens of Heldren had been welcoming and warm. Huxley determined that the two towns likely lay along the same ley lines, which made the town connected by both magic and psychic powers despite the distance between them. Things occurring in one place would echo across the ley lines and affect the other. Intrigued, Huxley explored the town. Although they made a few friends, more often than not these interactions ended poorly. In the end they decided to leave their animals in Inuq’s care for the night, and sleep in Laszlo’s tiny house.
But the evening was interrupted by the sounds of guards approaching. The Pale Tower Guard were here! Deciding they didn’t want Laszlo to be punished for harbouring them, Huxley and Aesir slipped out a back window and waltzed into the town square. They were immediately approached by the Pale Tower Guard who ordered them to see their commander for questioning. Aesir loudly refused, causing a loud ruckus. Although both groups resorted to intimidation and threats for a while, it ended with violence. Aesir and Huxley defeated the first few guards, but more were on the way. Aesir whistled for his animals, and Huxley used his magic and sword skills. But soon the rest of the Pale Guard were upon them–all nine–as well as their Sergeant. The battle was hard, but together, the group triumphed. With the bodies of the Pale Tower Guard around them, bleeding in the streets, Nadya insisted they leave. More guards would come, and if they were to get vengeance for the death of her daughter, they would need to leave now. Inuq and Laszlo also offered to join Aesir and Huxley on their battle at the Pale Tower.
While Huxley stripped the dying guards of their gear, and the townsfolk yelled at the outsiders to leave, Aesir called the town to arms. Surely SOME amongst the citizens of Waldsby would fight back against the oppression of the Pale Tower Guard and the White Witches? Some seemed convinced, and to these people he bestowed the weapons and gear of the Pale Tower Guard. These people would be the town’s defenders!
Huxley was pretty sure these people would die.
With all the goods they could carry, Huxley, Aesir, and Aesir’s many pets set out with Inuq, Nadya and Laszlo by dogsled to the Pale Tower. The time had come to destroy the winter portal, kill Thora’s murderer and save the town of Heldren.
If they can…
The other side of the screen:
Welcome to the other side of the screen, a place where you’ll find GM notes related to the recent game sessions you’ve read, and links to the adventures themselves. If there’s something different in the adventure, or things I’ve changed and added, you’ll find it here!
So what’s different in this session?
At its core? A bit. In the details? A lot.
For starters, it’s NOT expected that anyone will try to keep the soul bound doll containing Thora’s soul as a companion. Most groups would have left the creepy doll alone. Those that understood what she was would likely consider destroying the soul gem inside her a way to set Thora’s soul free into the afterlife–which it is. Even those groups who kept her with them for a while would likely turn on the doll the first time she tries to attack, harm or hinder the group.
Mine didn’t. No matter how many times the Thora doll tried to hurt, enchant or thwart the PCs progress, Huxley was there to stop her non-violently. He understood Thora, her impulses and her limitations. Plus, she’s a freaking magical doll! Huxley LOVES things like that. This meant that I had to put a lot of thought into what exactly, Thora’s orders were, who she was compelled to listen to, and who she was compelled to attempt to kill if she met them. It’s also important to keep in mind that guardian dolls are subtle, disturbing creatures–not straight up combatants. This turned out to be great fun, and through it all, Huxley still managed to keep her. How much longer he’ll manage when Thora’s mother is travelling alongside them–a person she is compelled to murder–we’ll see. But honestly? I’m rooting for Huxley and Thora! If they can get her through the Pale Tower, destroy her creator and keep her away from the people she loved in life, Thora has an opportunity for growth and a second chance at life. And if they can’t? It will be a heart-breaking climax to a budding friendship between a creepy soul-bound doll and a kindly eccentric.
The second minor change to this campaign so far, was characters. There’s a great primer in the Snows of Summer for both Heldren and Waldsby, which can be used to great effect in the campaign. It’s honestly my two of my very favourite towns to play in. If done well, it will be both memorable and disconcerting for your players. To compliment this collection of quirky townsfolk, everyone was given face pictures to represent them, and characters who had no names (like Nadya’s four helpers) were given identities, personalities and families. Of all the townsfolk in the campaign so far, my players have felt the most connection with Yuln Oerstag, the wounded caravan guard who initially set the PCs out on adventure back in Heldren; Nadya Petska, Thora’s mother and the importer destined to be your guide to the Pale Tower; Laszlo, Nadya’s business partner and a grizzled old hunter; and Inuq, the Varki dog breeder who supplies Nadya with her dogs and dogsleds. Of these, only the first two had names and images in the published adventure.
The major change I instituted was the mantle of Dark Midnight. In the book, accepting the position as a Herald of Baba Yaga grants you a permanent increase to an ability score, a few boons that will come up throughout the campaign (like the ability to enter the Dancing Hut) and a compulsion that makes your characters want to save Baba Yaga. However, shortly after the printing of this book, Mythic Adventures was released. In fact, Baba Yaga herself was one of the first stat blocks I had ever seen printed who had mythic tiers. Taking into consideration that I had a group of only TWO characters, I decided that this would be a great time to try out the mythic rules in one of our campaigns. And thus, taking on the mantle of the Black Rider granted the PCs their first mythic tier. Throughout the course of the campaign I expect them to get a few more. I’m very excited to see how this change affects the campaign. I think it’s going to be a wonderful fit!
That’s all for now! Thanks for joining us on our continuing adventures in the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. This one’s going to be a wild ride!
What do you think of the campaign? Is it one you’d like to play in? More importantly, what would you PLAY if given the chance to make a character for Reign of Winter? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Looking for Game Aids related to the Shackled City Adventure Path? Look no further! What follows is a compiling of the player’s handouts, and necessary maps for the beginning of the first adventure in the series, Life’s Bazaar.
If you haven’t read about our ongoing adventures in the Shackled City, check out our characters in this blog post, our first session here, and our second session here.
Given to the group by Jenya Urikas of the local Church of Abadar, this riddle is the result of divinations that enquired “Where are the children who were taken from the Lantern Street Orphanage?”
The riddle reads:
“The lock are key to finding them. Look beyond the curtain, below the cauldron. Beware the doors with teeth. Descend into the malachite hold, where precious life is bought with gold. Half a dwarf binds them, but not for long.”
There have been a lot of missing people in Cauldron over the last few months. And whether your player’s get a list of them from the town guard or the Church of Abadar, they’re sure to ask an important question: “Who exactly went missing?” Be sure to look through this listing ahead of time and choose a few people on it that a PC or two knows either well, or in passing. Perhaps an old friend, a co-worker, or a shopkeep whose store closed suddenly. The missing persons are:
Tiervan Wispwort – male gnome, age 91: A local alchemist, lived with two cats and ran a marginally successful business. Disappeared from his home 88 nights ago.
Jorl Seerkin – male gnome, age 72: A law clerk who worked for a local gnome barrister named Aeryk Gylbar. Disappeared from his home 83 nights ago.
Azmi Dresker – female human, age 19: A known prostitute who plied her trade at the Slippery Eel Tavern, she disappeared from her residence 81 nights ago. She and a coworker, Shellen Rycah, rented the house from an old woman named Martira Hathaway, who was asleep in the house that night and didn’t hear or see anything.
Shellen Rycah – female human, age 20: Another prostitute who frequented the Slippery Eel Tavern and shared a house with coworker Azmi (above) and their landlord. Disappeared 81 nights ago.
Krylscar Endercott – male human, age 24: Kicked out of the local militia for drunk and disorderly conduct, he vanished from his parents’ home 74 nights ago. Neither parent saw or heard anything suspicious, but they believe Krylscar may have robbed them and fled town in disgrace.
Callum Sunnyrush – male halfling, age 37: He groomed horses and ponies for the Lathenmire noble family. He vanished from his room at the Laughing Horse Inn 69 nights ago.
Gryffon Malek – male human, age 33: He worked as a barkeep at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. Disappeared 66 days ago, three days before his planned wedding to tavern barmaid Imelie Deranti.
Szordra Callagher – female human, age 35: A self-proclaimed sage, she ran her own small bookstore. She was last seen 60 nights ago by her 18 year old son, Leagan, a mason’s apprentice.
Tembor Kalavan – male human, age 25: A local minstrel of some repute, he vanished 52 nights ago from his room at the Laughing Horse Inn.
Irruth Mercadi – female human, age 36: A local chandler who disappeared from the apartment above her shop 47 nights ago.
Deven Myrzal – male human, age 18: A lamplighter who vanished 45 nights ago. Guards found his pole (used to unhook lanterns) in the street a few blocks from his home (which was not robbed).
Jeneer Everdawn – female halfling, age 42: A jeweler’s apprentice who did volunteer work at Bluecrater Academy. She disappeared 40 nights ago.
Lorthan Ironfold – male dwarf, age 125: A skilled cartwright. He and his wife, Sondor, vanished from their home 35 nights ago.
Sondor Ironfold – female dwarf, age 127: Wife of Lorthan (above). Assists her husband in his labours.
Rikaldo Veskar – human male, age 34: His ransacked home contained blood droplets and blood-encrusted knives—not surprising as he works as a skinner. He disappeared 31 nights ago.
Lestor Coldwater – male human, age 22: A trained scribe and struggling poet. He and his girlfriend, Jelluth, vanished from her home 26 nights ago. His home was no robbed.
Jelluth Sirlana – female half-elf, age 33: A struggling shoemaker who inherited her father’s failing business. She vanished (along with Lestor, above) from her home 26 nights ago.
Elethor Ashstaff – male half-elf, age 58: A wizard and trickster who occasionally performed minor feats of prestidigitation at birthday parties for upper-class children. A dead rat—possibly his faimliar—was found in his home. He vanished 22 nights ago.
Maple – female halfling, age 32: Last name unknown. Rumoured to be associated with the Alleybashers (a small street gang). She disappeared 18 nights ago.
Corystan Pike – female human, age 35: A retired adventurer who was living on stolen loot. She walked with a cane and disappeared from her modest home 16 days ago.
Jasper Drundlesput – male gnome, age 74: A reclusive and eccentric mathematician who worked at Bluecrater Academy. Believed to have vanished 9 days ago. Pieces of parchment covered with numbers and symbols litter the floor of this ransacked house.
Deakon Stormshield – male dwarf, age 20: A bright dwarf, Deakon was taken from the Lantern Street Orphanage three nights ago. he orphanage took him in when he was six years old when his parents failed to return from an adventure.
Evelyn Radavec – female human, age 9: A quiet, sullen girl, she was taken from the Lantern Street Orphanage three nights ago. Her father and mother succumbed to the filth fever plague that struck Cauldron seven years ago.
Lucinda Aldreen – female human, age 8: A gregarious but superstitious child given to the Lantern Street Orphanage at age four by her poverty-stricken mother. Lucinda was abducted three nights ago.
Terrem Kharatys – male human, age 9: A dour and temperamental lad taken from the Lantern Street Orphanage three nights ago. His parents died shortly after his birth (circumstances unknown).
Ghelve’s Locks is the first major location that has a map in the Shackled City Adventure Path. For information on the rooms and building, check out the adventure itself. The hardcover edition is available here, while the first adventure in the adventure path, Life’s Bazaar is available here. You can find the map for Ghelve’s Locks here.
The Map of Jzadirune
The final player’s handout we’ve come across so far, is an old map of Jzadirune. This image is for giving directly to your players! Let them pore over it all they like. It’s no longer accurate anyway…
That’s all the player’s handouts we have for you today. See you again soon!
Hello! Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the Shackled City Adventure Path! When we left off our heroic musicians were retiring to their homes to contemplate 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, read this blog post first.)
Although the time between reading Part One and Part Two of our adventures is only a moment away for you, it was not so for my son. We paused here for a few days, and let me tell you, my son’s imagination went WILD! He spent two days straight CONSTANTLY working out theories and suggestions about the riddle they received from Jenya Urikas, and coming up with possible connections between the missing persons (for a full list of missing persons, click here). On the walks to school, during dinner, at bedtime… CONSTANTLY. And there were A LOT of theories. Surprisingly, some of his ideas were pretty close to accurate. Still, I said nothing aside from: “Mick will have to wait and see.” and “You think so?” He got out his detective’s notebook–a copy of Detective Murdoch’s notebook from Murdoch Mysteries that he adores–and began writing all of his ideas and theories down with a big red crayon.
Obviously, my son was insistant that the locks and keys were very important. He had a ton of theories about why, all of which were crazy, but whatever the reasoning, he settled on them being literal locks and keys. He alto took the curtain and cauldron part of the riddle literally, insisting everyone check behind their curtains at home, and at the orphanage, and that everyone look underneath every cauldron they own or come across.
He had no idea what was up with the doors with teeth, but was pretty sure he would recognize a giant mouth door when he found one, so he wasn’t too worried about that. My daughter was though, and had a few-hour-long fear of doors, worried as she was that they might grow teeth and chomp on her.
My son was very excited with the next part of the riddle: descend. He knew that meant going down, and he was very hopeful that would lead us to his character’s birthplace: Jzadirune. An underground enclave of the gnomes, Jzadirune was hit by a mysterious vanishing plague, and shut down when Mick was only a child. Many people died, and although Mick made it to the surface, he was orphaned by the experience. Nearly all of his madcap theories involved Jzadirune in one way or another. He was pretty sure that whatever was going on, Jzadirune was either a secret base for the bad guys, or a way to get to their secret base. He didn’t know what the bad guys might be, but he was hopeful it was invisible evil gnomes.
My son does understand the concept of slavery, so he was pretty sure that was involved because of the next line in the riddle. After giving it some though he decided it probably wasn’t invisible evil gnomes after all, but duergar. He’s got a decent knowledge of the races and monsters of D&D and not only does he know that duergar are evil underground dwarves, he also knows they’re slavers. With those his current suppositions, he made a TON of crazy ideas about what’s going on, why it’s going on, and how it’s going on. Magic showed up in his detective’s journal a lot. How’d they get in? Magic. How’d they stay silent? Magic. How come there were no footprints? Magic. Also, the doors with teeth? Were they a real toothy door? Or a monster’s mouth? Was it magic? He thought it might be a literal monster’s mouth we’d have to enter, which would be pretty awesome…
The next time we sat down to play the Shackled City, the PCs had breakfast together, chatted a bit, and headed out to the Lantern Street Orphanage to begin their investigation. The headmistress, a halfling by the name of Gretchyn Tashykk, was suspicious of the group–and rightly so! But Mick and Aeris managed to earn her trust. Aeris often donated money (from her occasional midnight criminal activities) to the orphanage, and Mick had grown up here. Although Gretchyn hadn’t been there to raise him, she did recognize him. Occassionally he came by to tell jokes to the children.
After explaining their purpose, the characters asked for information on the abductions, and for permission to interview the staff. Gretchen agreed. She told them everything she knew, and gave them a tour, then introduced them to each member of the staff in turn. They learned a bit from Gretchyn–which is listed below:
The children who are missing are Deakon, Evelyn, Lucinda and Terrem. Two boys and two girls.
The orphanage has two common bedchambers on the second floor: one for boys and one for girls. Two children were taken from each room.
None of the children slept nearest to the windows or door. They did not sleep beside each other. No one saw or heard anything.
The orphanage has lockable windows and doors. In addition to the orphanage locking during the night, the bedchamber rooms are locked as well.
There were no signs of forced entry and nothing was broken.
The PCs aren’t the only ones to investigate the children’s disappearance. The day the children were discovered missing the town guard came by, looked around and spoke with everyone. Two days ago a pair of half-elf investigators sent by the Mayor’s Office came by to look around and speak to Gretchyn. Yesterday that young priest came by offer help and speak with the children (Rufus Laro). And today the PCs arrived.
Aeris set out to inspect the locks on the doors and windows, while the characters asked further questions of Gretchyn, and spoke to the children. Mick ran a ton of crazy theories past her, but Gretchyn had no insights to offer.
Shortly, Aeris had confirmed that there was no signs of a break in. The locks were of fine quality and were in working order. There was no sign they had been picked. She decided to check the other locks in the building, while the others started interviewing the staff.
They started with Jaromir Copperbeard, the dwarven gardener who seemed to genuinely love the children despite his gruff demeanour. He also informed the group that one of the children, Terrem, was a troublemaking brat. He couldn’t imagine HIM going quietly. He confirmed he had found no signs of a break-in that night, and found no prints in his flower beds or scuffs along the outer walls.
Then they visited Neva Fanister, the old human nurse. Neva was always busy tending bruises, cuts and wounds. Kids were rough and rambunctious. She knew the kids quite well and confirmed that Terrem was a handful and was often in her care for scrapes and bruises he received in fist-fights and play-wrestling. The others were very different from him. Deakon was a smart, hard-working dwarf boy who had been with them a long time (dwarves grew up slowly), Evelyn was a sullen, quiet girl, and Lucinda was a happy but superstitious child. They didn’t have much in common with one another. Although, they did have their good health!
The characters tried to visit the half-elf schoolteacher, Willow Atherfell, next, but finding her overwhelmed with trying to handle the children, they moved on to see the cook, Temar Flagonstern, instead. Temar was a relatively new addition to the orphanage, having only worked there three years–the same as Willow. He complained about the huge amount of labour he had to do, and told the characters that he barely knew the children. He spent all his time cooking for them, washing their dirty dishes and cleaning up after their messes, only to do it all over again. Clearly a grumpy fellow, Temar seemed to be telling the truth. In addition, he confirmed that one of the children, Terrem, was a hall-raiser and was constantly making huge messes in the dining hall. Temar was NOT impressed.
Then they went to speak with the janitor, Patch. Patch was a strong half-orc with an eye patch over one eye, a nervous demeanour and a stutter. It was immediately clear that Patch adored the children and knew his way around the place well. In fact, Patch had grown up here and took work as a janitor when he was too old to stay any longer. Of course, it was also clear he was stupid. My son was immediately suspicious of the poor half-orc and soon Falco, Mick and Rabbity began asking questions about the orphanage, the children, the Last Laugh and the night of the abductions. Eventually, the nervous, stuttering fellow admitted he did know something but that he couldn’t speak about it here. Falco responded by doing what any fine gentleman would do: he invited Patch for tea at his flat.
Aeris rejoined them before they left the building. She had discovered that all the locks were in fine working order and great quality. In addition, she recognized the maker’s mark. It was a competitor of hers, Keygan Ghelve. As the others headed off with Patch to Falco’s flat, Aeris decided to separate from them for a while. She took the list of missing persons and visited all the places she thought she would be able to gain access to in order to examine their locks. If the locks truly were the key to finding the missing people, as the riddle had suggested, then perhaps there was something in common between them.
After inviting Patch inside and giving him a tour of the house, Falco, Mick and Rabbity sat down for tea with the awkward fellow. Patch was wary at first, and clearly had information to share that he wasn’t sure he should. But working together, the characters diplomacy was through the roof, so Patch soon believed he could trust them. Patch told the group in his stuttering, nervous way, that the Last Laugh wasn’t responsible for the kidnappings. A few years ago, when Terrem came to the orphanage, a man approached Patch while he was drinking away his earnings at the Slippery Eel Tavern. He was a halfling who was missing both of his pinkies and introduced himself as Regis Two-fingers. Patch and Regis became pals, and soon, Regis told Patch that he had a favour to ask him–as friends. Patch accepted (having not many people who he could call friends) and learned that Regis was a member of the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild, a group that had a very keen interest in ensuring that a young orphan named Terrem was kept safe and in the orphanage’s care. Patch was confused. How did Regis even know about that little human child? But, he agreed to watch over Terrem and keep Regis informed of his health. Patch promised, more than a little scared for his life, that Regis would be the first to know if anything happened to Terrem. The day that Terrem and the other orphans went missing, Patch had slipped out to tell Regis as soon as he could. And Regis was furious! Patch swears that the Last Laugh wants to protect Terrem, and get him back, not hurt him or take him someplace else.
The PCs were a little confused. They asked Patch some clarifying questions and discovered that Patch was out drinking the night the kids went missing, and returned late. He slept like the dead, and felt horribly guilty that he didn’t hear anything happen at all that night!
The group pressed him further, using his guilt and his love of the children against him, until Patch had told them everything he knew (which wasn’t much more) and promised that if they found out who had taken the children, Patch would go with them to help save the children. Satisfied, they took Patch back to the orphanage, asked the overwhelmed school-teacher Willow a few questions, and bid everyone farewell.
Before heading out to regroup with Aeris, the PCs decided to pay a visit to the Mayor’s Office in the hopes of pooling their information with the half-elf investigators that had been sent to the orphanage. Upon arriving the secretary, Lucia Reynald, asked their business. When they inquired about the Lantern Street Orphanage investigation she told them that she was not privy to which guards were placed on which cases. That was up to the guard Captains. When they pressed for information about the Mayor’s special investigators she informed them they were mistaken–the Mayor’s Office employs no investigators at all. Certainly not a pair of half-elven ones!
The plot thickens!
On the way out of the Town Hall and Lord Mayor’s Office the characters ran into a chipper, young woman named Cynarra Navalant, who turned out to be the mayor’s daughter. Falco introduced himself politely, but Mick was too scared! He didn’t want to get in trouble for talking to important people like the mayor’s daughter! He ignored her completely and hurried out into the streets. The others followed him–after a polite farewell.
Regrouping with Aeris after a hard day’s investigating, the players shared information with each other. Aeris was skeptical about the Last Laugh’s ‘benevolent’ involvement, and Patch, but there were more pressing things to consider. She had checked the locks at six other sites of disappearances and discovered none of them had been tampered with. In addition, they were all crafted by the same locksmith–Keygan Ghelve. With a new suspect (or at least accomplice) in mind, the group set off straight for his shop, Ghelve’s Locks.
Arriving late-afternoon they found Ghelve’s Locks open for business and went right in. Keygan was there on a pair of stilts covered by long pants. He strutted around the place comfortably, and wandered over to ask how he could help his new customers. And then he recognized Aeris (his competition).
With a scowl, he asked her to wait while he handled his customers, but Aeris cut in and assured him they ALL had business with him. Business regarding the recent disappearances. Surely he must know something about them, right? They all used his locks!
Keygan told the group to get out, but Falco stalled, using diplomacy to try to get some answers. Keygan looked nervous, and began gesturing with his head and eyes to a curtained back-room. Mick was pretty sure that Keygan wanted to hug and kiss him or something, but Falco understood his meaning: Keygan wasn’t alone, and whoever was with him was back there…. Beyond the curtain.
Unfortunately for Keygan, the group proved less keen on playing along and pretending to leave than they did with tearing through the shop to get past the curtain. Mick seized a pile of what he hoped was stinky, smoky leaves and tossed them onto the fireplace’s flames, while Rabbity hopped on Panthy, Aeris pushed her way past the curtain, and Falco moved to follow her. Keygan had had enough! He cast a spell at the trio, just as Mick summoned his piano and began to taunt the little locksmith with his mock ability. Solely focused on Mick now because of his rude insults, the gnomes battled it out with wits, words and magic spells in the shop front while Aeris charged into the darkness of the storage room. Three steps into the room and she recoiled in pain. Looking down in shock she realized she had been shot by a crossbow bolt.
“Someone’s… here!” she grunted through the pain. Rabbity and Panthy charged into the room, Falco healed Aeris and then moved to open the window curtains, revealing their attacker was up on the landing of the stairs to the second floor. An unnatural calm came over Aeris as her goddess’ will and purpose overtook her. Replacing her fiery temper and impulsiveness with an eerie calm and righteousness, the now bloodraging Aeris stalked up the steps to engage her enemy.
Her companions soon joined the battle, and in a few short rounds it was done. The mysterious, grey skinned figure was unconscious, and the trio rejoined Mick and Keygan–who promptly surrendered.
Aeris scolded the man and began blaming him for his crimes, causing Keygan to break down in sobs. Keygan explained that a few months ago strange humanoids had come up from his basement and attacked him! They stole his rat familiar, Starbrow, and asked him tons of questions about the city. Keygan told them everything they wanted to know, and they left–but they took Starbrow with them. In addition, one of them stayed behind in his home to ensure he never spoke about them to the guard. Keygan was a prisoner in his own home and his beloved pet was their hostage! Not long afterwards they demanded Keygan make them a set of skeleton keys which could open any lock he had crafted. He did so, and worried in silence as they began rifling through his records. Every few nights since they’ve taken a few addresses from his books and headed off into the city, only to bring unconscious Caudronites back down into the tunnels below his home…
Keygan was ashamed, and regretful, but not truly sorry. He would do it again to save Starbrow. Aeris was disgusted and wanted to turn both Keygan and the gray-skinned man over to the town guards, but Falco had a different plan. Falco told Keygan that they were going to go underground and rescue the missing people (and rats!) but that Keygan would have to come with them. Seeing no other choice, Keygan agreed.
They tied up the gray-skinned man, tossed him in a trunk, and then tied up the trunk from outside with thick ropes, before sitting down to speak. They had some questions, and Keygan would have to tell them everything he knew if they were going to succeed. Luckily, Keygan had plenty of information.
In his basement are old tunnels that were sealed up long ago and lead to Jzadirune. (At this news my son jumped for joy). This is where he assumes the kidnappers are currently lairing.
The doors in Jzadirune are gear-shaped and designed to roll to one side or the other. Most of them had traps that only the gnomes could safely bypass. Unfortunately, Keygan was too young to remember much more than this. He knows they had keys that looked like long sticks. He also knows his father had a leather map that showed the layout of Jzadirune (though whether or not it’s accurate he has no idea).
The kidnappers took Starbrow someplace dark within one mile. Through his empathic link with the rat, Keygan can tell he is hungry and scared.
There are two kinds of people who come up from his basement: ‘tall ones’ and ‘short ones’. Neither of them seem to like the sunlight. The tall ones resemble naked, hairless, genderless humans with blue pupilless eyes, and grey skin that changes colour, allowing them to blend perfectly with their surroundings. They are usually encountered in pairs or threes and often leave the shop wearing cloaks. They carry repairs and light crossbows.
The short ones are sinister gnome-like creatures with pallid skin, large noses and black hooves for feet. They wear black cloaks and cowls that help them hide in the shadows. The wield filthy looking daggers.
The kidnappers share a common language that Keygan doesn’t recognize.
If the kidnappers have a leader, Keygan hasn’t seen it. They seem to get along fine without one.
With this information, Rabbity, Panthy and Mick stayed behind to keep an eye on Ghelve and study the map of Jzadirune, which was old, faded and unlabelled. Aeris went home to fetch a backpack no one had seen her wear before that contained a surprisingly large number of objects useful for breaking into places and adventuring in the dark… Falco also left. First he did some shopping (he was rather ill-equipped for adventuring!) and then he went by the Lantern Street Orphanage to get Patch.
Together, this motley group of heroes, cowards, crooks and musicians are about delve beneath Cauldron to a gnomish enclave abandoned for over 75 years, braving the dark, the unknown, and the myserious disease known as the Vanishing, to find the missing citizens of Cauldron or die trying.
Wish them luck!
The other side of the screen:
Welcome to the other side of the screen, a place where you’ll find GM notes related to the recent game sessions you’ve read, and links to the adventures themselves. If there’s something different in the adventure, or things I’ve changed and added, you’ll find it here!
So what’s different in this session? Not much!
The major change came right near the end: Patch and Keygan Ghelve are not intended to join the player’s on their quest below Cauldron. However, Falco’s diplomacy checks came out absurdly high, and the characters managed to leverage the things those NPCs cared about to their advantage (Starbrow, guilt, and the fate of Terrem and the children). This coupled with the deadliness of their upcoming adventure, the PCs small group size, and the likelihood of my children making poor tactical decisions during combat, caused me to decide that instead of offering other types of aid, Keygan and Patch would join them. However, that meant that their statblocks would need to be updated. Although using their 3.5 stat blocks included in the Shackled City Adventure Path is fine for a battle or two, if they were joining the party they’d need to be proper Pathfinder characters. Patch was originally written as a commoner 1/rogue 1, while Keygan was an expert 3/wizard 1. While converting them to Pathfinder I streamlined their levels, making Patch a rogue (acrobat) 1, and Keygan an illusionist wizard 1. Despite these changes their tactics, gear and the general build and feel of the stat blocks remained true to their original intent.
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Thanks for joining us on our adventures in Cauldron! Tune if later this week for an update on an ongoing Reign of Winter campaign, and a review of Paizo’s Iron Gods Adventure Path!
With our characters made, minis picked out, and some free time on our hands, the members of Boople Snoot Dinorabbit set out to try their luck at the deadly Shackled City Adventure Path! (No idea what I’m talking about? Check out this blog post for more details).
Our story begins on a dreary evening, near sunset. The clouds are dark, the sky is red, and the first fat raindrops begin to fall from the sky on the city of Cauldron. Despite the gloomy atmosphere, tonight is a special occassion! For tonight is Dinorabbit’s one year anniversary! To celebrate, Falco Rhiavadi has insisted the entire band join him for a fine dinner at the Coy Nixie (on his family’s tab, of course!). Always happy for a new experience, Mick Frimfrocket agreed immediately, and soon they were off.
The characters showed up underdressed, and had a fun opportunity to role-play their way through the restaurant. Falco convinced the snooty greeter, Odell, to escort them to a table by name-dropping his relatives. The whole group managed to befriend the waiter, Relveth, with an astoundingly high diplomacy check led by Falco. They ordered fancy sounding meals, and settled in to eat. During the meal they realized they could hear beautiful music, but couldn’t find the band–a mystery which set my son’s imagination ablaze. They also discovered the murals on the wall were like massive search and finds. Each painting was of a different aquatic scene and had a number of nixies hiding within. As they ate and examined the paintings they also got to eavesdrop on the other patrons and socialize.
The manager, Narissia Delacour, was curious which Rhiavadi was dining at her establishment and paid them a courtesy visit. Although she was disappointed it wasn’t anyone important, Falco made a good enough impression that they were allowed to stay and given good service.
Nearby guests included Tabitha Aslaxin, a studious business-minded woman who once attended school with Falco–before he dropped out to join the music program. Tabitha sat with her younger sister, Averil, who had only recently come of age and seemed extremely excited to be present in her finery. The Aslaxin family owns the Coy Nixie and many other establishments in Cauldron. Although the curious members of Dinorabbit took notice of these noble ladies, they chose not to attempt to speak with them.
Other nearby notables included a trio of sisters from House Taskerhill. Mick and Falco managed to overhear that the younger sisters, Monette and Carmine, were scolding the eldest sister, Annah, for her dangerous ways. Bored with life among the nobility, Annah had joined up with a group of other nobles and was spending her free time ‘adventuring’ for the good of Cauldron. As the sisters worried over Annah’s health and their family’s reputation, Annah assured them no harm would come to her. That’s what her companions were for…
Lastly, Falco recognized a few familiar faces at a nearby table: his cousin Venser Rhiavadi, and his Uncle Hasserton Rhiavadi. Falco greeted them warmly, but received a rude, disinterested greeting from his uncle. In his uncle’s defence, Hasserton was his mother’s husband’s brother (and therefore not truly related to Falco at all). Falco’s cousin was equally cold, though he did take the time to make fake-pleasant conversation (for a few minutes). When his patience was worn out Venser bid Falco a curt farewell and returned to his meal.
With their dinner at the Coy Nixie complete, the members of Dinorabbit headed out into the rainy, dark streets. Rabbity tossed her leftovers to Panthy, her beloved pet black panther, and then danced and played in the rain for a while. As the group began to move down they road they heard a scream for help. Rabbity hopped on top of Panthy and urged her forward, followed closely by Aeris. As the two turned a corner they caught sight of a man, with his face painted half-black and half-white with the grinning visage of a jester, blocking the way into a nearby back alley. And from that alley issued the cries for help.
Aeris recognized the strange face paint as the signature of the local Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild, and immediately drew her blade. The Last Laugh had killed her beloved Grandfather Marzio, last High Chamberlain of Alseta, and she’d be damned if she let this hoodlum get away with whatever he was up to!
Rabbity and Aeris were the first into battle, but Mick and Falco weren’t far behind. Rabbity launched blasts of water at the Last Laugh thief, urging the puddles in the street to surge forward and smash into her enemy. Aeris used some of her elemental assault ability to make her sword crackle with electricity as she fought. Shockingly, the thug didn’t fall. Instead he drew a greataxe and swung it at Aeris, nearly cutting her open completely. Falco was there in a flash, healing Aeris’ wounds. Mick hurried to the fight as fast as his little legs would carry him, then used his magic to summon his favourite piano. His inspiring songs filled the streets, echoing over the sounds of the heavy, pounding rain.
As Rabbity and Aeris knocked the thug unconscious, Falco caught sight of a man down he alley–a priest by the look of him–getting beaten and bullied by two more Last Laugh thugs.
“Leave the orphanage alone, priest, if ya’ know what’s good for ‘ya!” they growled.
The young priest begged for help.
The characters all ran in to help him, of course, and with Panthy’s fangs, Rabbity’s water blasts, Aeris’ sword, and Mick’s grooving tunes, the battle was quick, but hard. Aeris took a decent amount of damage that fight and tore through half of her daily rounds of blood rage, all of her rounds of elemental assault and all of her uses of destined strike.
Falco healed the priest, and together they ensured the thugs weren’t in danger of dying. Once everyone was safe, Aeris and the priest suggested they turn in the Last Last Thieve’s to the town guard. The other characters agreed, so they hoisted the thugs up over shoulders and onto backs, and began the long, slippery trip uphill to the Garrison. Along the way the characters chatted with the priest.
The priest’s name was Rufus Laro, and he was an acolyte at the local church of Abadar. He was sent to the Lantern Street Orphanage earlier that day to check on the children and offer aid–only three days ago four children were kidnapped in the dead of the night from the orphanage. On the way home he was ambushed and set upon by thugs! He had thought they were going to rob him, but their threats were clearly meant to keep him from further interference at the orphanage. Though why any thieves would be interested in a run-down orphanage he had no idea… The young priest was quite shaken by the ordeal, and asked his saviours to escort him back to his church after they all finished giving their statements to the guard.
My kids had a blast talking with Rufus. My son, especially. They asked him questions and bragged about their various gear, music and pets. Rufus found Panthy quite intimidating, which Rabbity thought was hilarious. She tried to prove to Rufus that Panthy was well trained, but her handle animal checks all failed, and Panthy chose that time to ignore her commands completely. This did little to set Rufus at ease…
As the group arrived at the guard post with unconscious men thrown over their shoulders, the guards came out to accost them. The guards sighed and rolled their eyes when Aeris informed them that she had apprehended some criminals–clearly they know her and don’t like her very much. Aeris is in the habit of reporting all the crimes she witnesses to the guard, while the guard in turn thinks Aeris is a lying, busy-body.
Rufus’ account of the group saving his life did get them motivated, though, as did the tell-tale face paint marking the thugs as members of the Last Laugh. The entire group of characters was ushered into the offices to give their statements. During the interviews, Falco managed to overhear some exclamations of surprise from the jail cells. Apparently the Last Laugh thugs they brought in were also members of the town guard! Falco was more than a little intrigued. Unfortunately, no further information was forthcoming, and the group left with Rufus to escort him to the church of Abadar.
It was another wet trip through the pouring rain, although this time the reception was kinder. The group was ushered into the elaborate church and offered dry towels, snacks and refreshments. Rufus gave the heroic musicians his heartfelt thanks and asked them to stay awhile. He was sure his superior would like to reward them! Then he disappeared deeper into the building. While the characters waited they had a bit of time to eat, warm up, and chat with a pair of low-level acolytes in Abadar’s clergy. Tiefling sisters, named Tirabeth Drissant and Orellia Drissant. Despite her more obvious fiendish traits, Orellia was the more social of the two sisters, while Tirabeth was more insular and studious.
It wasn’t long before the group was brought before Priestess Jenya Urikas, the acting head of the Church of Abadar in Cauldron–at the moment. Her superior was off at a meeting in the far-away city of Eleder and wouldn’t be back for some time. Jenya introduced herself and thanked the PCs for rescuing Rufus. The characters introduced themselves in turn, and they all made a good impression. Jenya hesitated only a moment before offering them a job.
She explained that recent kidnappings and disappearances have plagued Cauldron for the last few months. In that time twenty-six people have been abducted in the dead of night, without witnesses or leads. The last four were all children at the Lantern Street Orphanage. Feeling for the children, and worried that the town guard were getting nowhere in their investigations, Jenya decided to have the Church of Abadar get involved. To that end she compiled a list of all the missing persons, and sent a few of her priests out to get what information on them and their disappearances they could. Rufus was sent to the Lantern Street Orphanage. In addition, she used a holy relic of her church, The Star of Justice, to get more information. This holy mace was capable of using a sliver of Abadar’s wisdom in order to divine the future. In the hands of the faithful it could answer a question, though its responses were often difficult to comprehend. The Star of Justice was only supposed to be used by the head of their church in times of great need, but Jenya felt justified on calling upon its powers in order to save the lives of four innocent children. She prayed to Abadar, took the Star of Justice from its altar and asked it:
“Where are the children who were abducted from the Lantern Street Orphanage?”
The answer came back in prose:
“The locks are key to finding them. Look beyond the curtain, below the cauldron. Beware the doors with teeth. Descend into the malachite ‘hold where precious life is bought with gold. Half a dwarf binds them, but not for long.”
Jenya shared this information with the characters and asked for their help. Would they be willing to take up the investigation into the children’s disappearance on behalf of the Church of Abadar? If so, she would provide them each with a potion of healing as an act of good faith, and she would pay them a small fortune upon completion of the investigation. over 2,000 gold pieces.
The characters conferred amongst themselves for a moment…
Mick was always up for new experiences! He had never been a hero before, or a detective, or saved children, so he was very excited to get started! And THAT RIDDLE! Oh, boy was he excited about that riddle! Plus, those poor kids… Mick had grown up at the same orphanage they were taken from! So sad…
Rabbity sadly recounted that a friend of hers from work, Gryffon, was among those missing persons. He had been abducted from his home three nights before his wedding to another of Rabbit’s co-workers, Imelie. Poor Imelie hadn’t smiled since… Hoping to find Gryffon, Rabbity also accepted the mission.
Aeris had no hesitation and accepted immediately. She kept up with local news and was well-aware of the kidnappings. Despite only being a locksmith, she aspired to be like her grandfather–a heroic leader of the community and paladin of Alseta. He had always fought against injustice and crime. Aeris always attempted to do the same. Plus… the Last Laugh seemed to be involved. She had promised her grandfather at his funeral that one day she would put an end to the gang of thieves that had killed him. She wanted to discover how deep they were wrapped up in this!
And Falco? Well, Falco was a good man who was more than a little too confident for his own good. Of course he wants to help the orphans!
With the group all in agreement for one reason or another, they accepted Jenya’s offer, were given a potion of cure moderate wounds each, a copy of the riddle, and a list of all the missing persons. Of course, it was too late to begin the investigation NOW, the Lantern Street Orphanage was all closed up for the night. So they headed home and spent the evening stewing over the information that had been given to them.
They had a lot to contemplate…
Note from a GM:
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Very little has changed from the adventure as written to our game table so far. The most noticeable change is the campaign opening. As printed, The Shacked City takes place in Cauldron, and begins with the characters walking down the road in the rain, late at night, when they hear someone call for help. Although I’ve got no problem with coincidental openings such as this, my children love roleplaying with NPCs and I’ve found that giving them opportunities to have dinner at a restaurant, shop, or make a new friend in character adds a lot to their gaming experience. To this end I began the campaign at a fancy dinner at the Coy Nixie, instead of on the street. This turned out to be a fun role-playing encounter for our whole family, and really let my children have a chance to try out their characters before hopping right into a fight.
The second change made so far wasn’t so much a change as an expansion. Plenty of NPCs were given names and faces in order to make the surrounding city and the people in it come to life. This is an easy to do addition that really adds a lot of depth to the gaming experience, and is definitely going to continue throughout the campaign.
Lastly, some changes were made due to setting. Cauldron was placed in Pathfinder’s world of Golarion, in the Mwangi Expanse. The nearest major settlement is Eleder. All instances of the god Abadar and his church were used to replace the 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons deity, St. Cuthbert. Their functions and beliefs are similar, making it a simple, seamless change.
Thanks for joining us on our adventures in Cauldron today! I hope you enjoyed the ride. Another update for Shackled City is coming later this week, followed by our first glimpse at an ongoing Reign of Winter campaign. Stay tuned!
January 16th is Appreciate a Dragon Day. A day that encourages everyone to explore the cultural significance of the dragon in your society and history. Dragons are a powerful symbol in mythology, from Europe, to Asia and throughout the world. So whoever you are and wherever you’re from, take a second and give a little love to these awesome mythical creatures.
Here at d20 Diaries, we’re celebrating Appreciate a Dragon Day by sharing our top five dragon adventures, because what would Dungeons and Dragons be, without dragons?
Answer? A lot less awesome!
So without further ado… my five favourite adventures that showcase dragons!
Guardians of Dragonfall
Guardians Of Dragonfall is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons written by Anson Caralya and printed by Paizo Publishing. Intended for 11th level characters, this adventure takes the characters to a legendary dragon graveyard on behalf of an aging gold dragon who has spent the last fifty years living as a human scholar. Upon arriving they discover something has gone horribly wrong. The eternal guardians of Dragonfall have abandoned their posts, leaving the graveyard unprotected–an event unheard of in the history of Dragonfall! This adventure takes the group through a wide variety of cool locations including the labyrinthine trenches of the Bonefield, the Emerald Shrine where green dragons deliver their sacrifices, the Throat of Shearphorus at the centre of the graveyard, and the Hall of Guardian’s Rest. This adventure has a few cool draconic characters, including the ghost of the previously mentioned gold dragon, and an insane bronze dragon. It also has a variety of draconic enemies including draconic skeletons, a tribe of half-dragon satyr’s, and even a draconic mohrg. This adventure is big, bold and tons of fun. Most importantly, it makes the player’s feel awesome. After all, sometimes even dragons need a hero!
The Black Egg
The Black Egg is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure written by Steven Montano for Issue #106 of Dungeon Magazine. Intended for 12th level characters, this adventure begins with a meteor falling from the sky which completely obliterates a small town. Investigation sets the characters on a collision course with a mad wizard, a cult of half-dragons, and a powerful artifact that can summon and army of fiendish dragons to conquer the nation–perhaps the world! With some cool side characters including a group of mercenaries also intent on investigating the crater; some great twists and turns, and a ton of unique half-dragon enemies, this adventure’s sure to be a blast. To make it even better, make sure the town destroyed is a place your characters have been before (preferably more than once!) or a place they needed to visit. And what’s in the depths of the crater? I won’t give away much more, but I will say it’s called the Fane of Scales, and within is the mysterious Black Egg. An egg that’s nearly ready to hatch…
The Dragon’s Demand
The Dragon’s Demand is a Pathfinder module written by Mike Shel. Intended for 1st level characters and meant to bring them all the way to 6th, or possibly 7th level, this is a mega-adventure! It sets the player’s characters up to be heroes of the small town of Belhaim, only to have their efforts interrupt the plans of a fierce green dragon. The dragon eventually makes his displeasure known by attacking the town and demanding a massive amount of gold and treasure as tribute. Unable to pay, the characters are given one final job by the citizens: kill the dragon! But killing a dragon is no easy feat–especially not for low-level characters! They’ll need to prepare themselves, use their wits, and pray for some luck before taking on this bad-boy! With cool side locations including a deceased wizard’s home and secret laboratory, the tomb of a dragon-slayer, and a dragon’s lair (of course!), The Dragon’s Demand does an awesome job of showcasing what a dragon should do (or at least a classic villainous D&D dragon!): make plans, amass treasure, scare the heck out of everyone, subjugate entire tribes and towns, and kill whoever fails to obey! It makes dragons feel dangerous and powerful, something that’s often missing when dragons are used in adventures. With theatrics and a great use of build-up and suspense, this dragon feels like a challenge too tough to handle. It’s sure to get your player’s quaking in their boots! I highly recommend this module to anyone who wants to enjoy a great dragon adventure at lower levels.
Into the Wormcrawl Fissure
One of the highest level adventures on this list, Into the Wormclaw Fissure is intended for 19th level characters. Seriously! It’s the second last instalment of the Age of Worms adventure path put out by Paizo publishing back in 2006. Like The Dragon’s Demand, this adventure makes awesome use of foreshadowing, build-up and suspense to make the biggest, baddest, coolest dragon possible–Dragotha, an incredibly powerful dracolich. By this point in the campaign, the player’s have known their characters are going to have to oppose Dragotha in order to stop the Age of Worms for quite a while. They’ve curried assistance, cashed in on favours and done all they could to learn about her–which paid off. The previous adventure is spent hunting down and destroying her phylactery in the Citadel of Weeping Dragons (an awesome dragon adventure in itself!). With that taken care of, the characters can finally enter the Tabernacle of Worms to confront this terrifying undead dragon, and put an end to her for good. …If they can! This wicked foe is protected by huge undead chimeras, an awesome derro psycho mounted on a fierce wyvern, gargantuan worm beasts, and an entire cult to do her bidding. And if they do manage to defeat this terrifying CR 27 beast, her treasure trove is astounding! This adventure is awesome! If you ever get a chance to play the Age of Worms adventure path, I highly recommend you take it!
The Frozen Stars
Note: If you’re playing in my Reign of Winter Campaign, do NOT read this next entry!
The final adventure on this list is filled with as many dragons as you could possibly imagine–and more! Taking place on a wintery planet of dragons, in the middle of a war between the Drakelands and the Skyfire Mandate, The Frozen Stars is part four of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. So what’s up with this war? The Drakelands are a tyranny of dragons of all kinds and colours as well as their draconic brethren (like wyverns, kobolds, and half-dragons) who believe that dragons should dominate the planet. The Skyfire Mandate is a coalition of Triaxians (furry elves primarily) and their Dragonkin allies (large sized, intelligent dragons who can wield weapons and objects in their front limbs, and who form life-long bonds with their riders). That’s right: it’s an evil dragon country versus a bunch of knights mounted on weapon wielding dragons! AWESOME! The characters land amidst this chaos in their Dancing Hut on the trail of Baba Yaga’s keys. One key lays with each side of the army, and they must determine how they’re going to get them. They can choose to ally with the Skyfire Mandate, earning themselves the chance to bond with a dragonkin of their own and fly through the skies on dragon back to oppose the draconic armies of the Drakelands! Or they can instead choose to ally with the mighty armies of the Drakelands and oppose the other, weaker races of Triaxus. Or they can try anything else they can think of: allying with both, double-crossing either side, double-crossing both sides, siding with none… The list goes on! The players get to discover this awesome conflict on this wicked planet and come up with any plan they want to obtain the keys they require. But, whatever they choose to do, your player’s characters are sure to fight or fight alongside dragons, dragon-kin, and a ton of draconic and winter themed beasts. The most powerful foes of all? Commaner Pharamol, the stalwart leader of the Skyfire Mandate’s Dragon Legion of Spurhorn, mounted atop his gold dragonkin Amerenth; the terrifying General Malesinder, a silver dragonkin and commander of the Drakelands army besieging Spurhorn; and finally, Yrax: Lord of the Howling Storm, one of the most powerful dragon warlords of the Drakelands! Come on! You know you want to play it! I know I DO!
And that’s all for today! Do you want to play any of the adventures listed above? What’s your favourite d20 adventure featuring dragons? Did I miss it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you discover the wonder of a dragon today!
After playing a Pathfinder Society Scenario a while back with my husband and children, I expected to be playing a few more in the near future. They’re short, fun, and don’t require a long-term commitment. Since my husband’s already playing in two other long-term campaigns with family (Reign of Winter and Mummy’s Mask), and a campaign with my children (Carrion Crown), I figured this would work out well.
And we had fun! So much fun my husband got an itch to start another new campaign. Just the other day he asked my kids if they wanted to play Shackled City with him. They said yes, obviously, and they started planning characters together.
Wait. Shackled City?
For those of you who don’t know, Shackled City is a HARD campaign. Awesome. But hard. We’ve played it before and gotten up to the end of of chapter one with a whopping six character deaths. SIX. And I have a crew of great players.
And there’s my children, chattering happily with my husband over character concepts.
This was going to take some work.
Now, I’d need to put a fair amount of work into running Shackled City anyway. It’s an adventure path written for 3.5 and these days we play Pathfinder, so there’s some conversion required. Not much, but some. Pathfinder characters are stronger than 3.5, so that should work in our favour. But it was written for a group of 4-5, and we would be running three. Of course, my kids enjoy it when I play with them, so perhaps I’d make a character to be their fourth party member. Still, this campaign would be tough and, as much as my children know that sometimes our characters die and that’s okay…. They’re five and six. I’d rather they not have their little paper dreams tattered and torn and tossed in the trash.
I spent some time thinking while my children and husband worked on their character concepts. What would our creation guidelines be? How could we make this work and have a reasonable chance of success? There’s plenty of ways to allow your player’s a bit of a boost for their characters, but I wanted to keep it simple. I decided to have them create level two characters (instead of level one) with a 25 point buy for their ability scores (we usually roll 2d6 and add 6). They got to take one of the Shackled City traits (which provide a benefit and a penalty) and two Pathfinder traits with the option to take a drawback to gain a third Pathfinder trait. I granted them background skills, which is essentially an extra two skill points each level that must be spent on less-useful skills like perform, profession and craft. Rules for background skills can be found in Pathfinder Unchained. They got 1,000 gp for their starting gold (which is the wealth expected of a second level character). And lastly, I made a character to join them and round up the party size to four.
In only two days my husband and both of my kids had their characters ready to go, complete with a reason to know each other. The reason?
They’re in a band.
But before I tell you about their characters, I’m going to tell you about what they’re going to play.
THE SHACKLED CITY
The Shackled City is an eleven-part adventure path printed in Dungeon Magazine from March 2003 through until November 2004. In 2007 it was compiled in a hardcover edition that included supplemental articles, a collection of maps and player handouts, and an entire additional adventure. Shackled City was created for 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons and is intended to bring characters from level 1 to 20.
The Shackled City takes place in Cauldron, a merchant metropolis built into the caldera of a long-dormant volcano. Located amidst jungles teeming with dinosaurs and demons, Cauldron is far from any other major urban centres, although a few small villages exist nearby. Shackled City is an urban adventure path that has a heavy amount of dungeon crawls and political intrigue. It’s an awesome, fun campaign with a lot of twists and turns but, as mentioned above, it’s very challenging for low-level groups.
Evil schemes are afoot in Cauldron. Driven by the dreams of an insane demon prince, bizarre cultists known as the Cagewrights are plotting something foul. Something they’ve been working towards for centuries. To prevent their agenda and save Cauldron, your player’s will have to explore cursed underground complexes, brave haunted jungle ruins, slay mighty dragons, and perhaps, even bind themselves to a layer of the infinite abyss.
The first adventure in the series, Life’s Bazaar, begins with a chance encounter that soon sees our characters investigating the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. But these children are not the only ones to go missing, dozens have disappeared over the last few months alone. And their fate lays entirely in your player’s hands…
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our band (literally) of brave characters!
Falco Rhiavadi is a member of the prominent Rhiavadi noble line. A rich and powerful family, the Rhiavadi’s are currently lead by Falco’s aunt, Thifirane. Unfortunately, Falco is clearly a bastard. His father was a foreigner by the name of Kenji Ozawa. Unable to hide his parentage, and refusing to give the boy up, Falco’s mother kept him close, and treated him as any other member of the family. Brazenly keeping Falco around caused no small amount of friction within the Rhiavadi family. Much of that anger was directed at Falco’s mother, while Falco was treated as an outsider and an embarrassment.
Despite this, Falco was given a thorough education at Bluecrater Academy, where he again disappointed his family by ending all of his practical studies and joining the music program. He made plenty of friends there, including Mick Frimfrocket (a gnomish pianist and comedian), Rabbity Castalle (a rabbitfolk dancer with a pet panther), and Valius (an artist and cleric of Shelyn). Valius inspired Falco to find faith in Shelyn, the goddess of love and art, while Mick and Rabbity eventually formed a band with Falco, named Boople Snoot. Recently the band’s name was changed to Dinorabbit. Falco plays the flute, and is an accomplished orator.
When Falco was a teenager, his father, Kenji, heard tales of a dragon outside the city and set out to pay homage to the proud beast. Unfortunately, dragons in the Inner Sea are not the same as dragons from Tian Xia, and Kenji was devoured. In grief, Falco called out for the power to keep those he cared about safe. A colourful thrush appeared to him–clearly a gift from Shelyn herself! The bird said its name was Ruby, and promised Falco the power to keep the people around him healthy. She even hinted at the possibility of bringing Kenji back to life. Elated, Falco took the bird home with him, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Unfortunately, Ruby is a rude, cantankerous bird, who is very protective of Falco. She gets offended and complains whenever Falco prays to Shelyn instead of Ruby herself. Ruby acts like a normal songbird in public, sweetly whistling as an accompaniment to Falco’s flute music. In private, Ruby complains, demands fealty, and generally is a grouchy pain in the butt. Falco loves her dearly.
Now twenty years old, Falco is a well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality. He lives in a small flat paid for by his family, and rarely ever attends noble gatherings or does anything practical. Instead he spends his time making music with his bandmates, visiting his friend Valius’ art studio, or socializing in the Tipped Tankard Tavern. He also volunteers to use his healing powers at the local church of Kurgess. His love of life, art and music is boundless, and Falco is the driving force behind his band’s performances and music. He is the heart and soul of Boople Snoot Dinorabbit.
Mechanically, Falco is a shaman who has formed a lasting bond with the life spirit. Ruby is his spirit animal and conduit to these spirits. He’s a human of mixed Taldan and Tien descent. With the ability to channel positive energy, and the healing hex, Falco is a healer first and foremost. He selected extra channel, and selective channel as his feats to further enhance his healing powers. As a shaman, his spells prepared can change each day, but so far when expecting danger he’s prepared burning hands, entangle, obscuring mist, and his spirit spell: detect undead. His favourite orisons include detect magic, dancing lights, daze and stabilize. Though he prefers not to engage in violence, Falco began the campaign with an elaborate dagger, and a very fine walking stick which he is more than capable of using to defend himself. Falco is my husband’s character (and his third character to attempt the Shackled City Adventure Path).
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 grew up in the gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, located underneath Cauldron. He was brought to the surface when he was only a child, in order to escape a strange disease afflicting the enclave, called the Vanishing. Unable to remember much of anything from this time, but plagued with nightmares of people fading away to nothing in front of him, Mick is curious about his youth, and the family and home he cannot recall. Once he reached the surface, Mick was taken in by the poorly funded Lantern Street Orphanage. Due to his fondness for playing tricks on people and making jokes, he got into a lot of scuffles with the other kids, and quickly learned his way around a fist-fight. His time at the orphanage was happy, but LONG, as Mick was never lucky enough to be adopted (apparently prospective parents don’t like it when you put salt in their tea instead of sugar, trip them in the hallway, or make illusions of dinosaurs stomping through the adoption office…). Most of the staff he once knew who worked there have moved on now, or passed away.
Upon reaching adulthood and moving out into Cauldron on his own, Mick took the the street corners to tell jokes, play pranks, and generally have a laugh as a busker. He made enough coin to enrol in the music program at the Bluecrater Academy, where he learned to sing and play the piano. There he met Falco Rhiavadi, and Rabbity Castalle, an eclectic pair of people who soon became his best friends and bandmates. In addition, Falco also invited Mick to live at his luxurious flat with him, and they became room-mates.
Mick is an inspiring, funny, exuberant fellow who constantly tries new things. He’s worshipped at least four different gods, eats the strangest things he can get his mouth around, and is constantly insisting the band change their name. The most recent change was from Boople Snoot to Dinorabbit. An ironic change, since it was him who suggested they be named Boople Snoot in the first place. He likes to make fires when he’s bored, both illusory and real, and finds constant joy in the fact that no flame ever flickers the same. He has an obsession with pigs–though he’s never owned one–and collects every piece of art, or toy pig he can get his hands on. He’s also a fan of learning new languages, and currently can speak seven: Common, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Sylvan and Tien.
Mechanically, Mick is a multi classed monk and a bard (prankster). He’s carries no weapons, instead fighting with his fists or throwing whatever objects happen to be nearby as projectiles. He also carries alchemist’s fire, LOTS of alchemist’s fire, but has never had a chance to actually THROW any alchemist’s fire. This saddens him greatly, as he thinks it would be a spectacular sight! He uses his bardic performances to inspire his allies and mock his enemies. He makes use of his gnomish magic to make magical lights, phantom sounds, perform minor magic tricks and speak with animals. With his bardic magic he can detect magic, set flammable objects on fire, and summon his favourite piano. He can also cast cure light wounds and biting words, a spell that lets his words physically harm an enemy. He chose weapon focus (unarmed strike) as his feat, while monk granted him the feats improved unarmed strike, stunning fist and throw anything. Unfortunately, Mick’s not very clever, which doesn’t let him take advantage of the monk’s bonus AC ability. Despite this, Mick doesn’t wear armour. Instead he has a collection of potions he drinks to increase his AC, including mage armour and shield. Mick is my six year old son’s character.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbit folk with soft white fur and a few patches of blue on the tips of her ears. She wears fancy clothes, and lots of beautiful jewelry, all in her favourite colour: blue. Sapphires are her favourite gemstone. She loves water and rain, and thinks its horrible that the government has let the lake at the centre of town become so stinky and polluted! She has a connection to water of all kinds and can make it obey her commands–most of the time. In addition to shooting it from her hands, and using it as a shield, she can create water, clean water, create mild currents in bodies of water, make extremely slippery puddles of water appear on surfaces or objects, and dry wet creatures. The heat never seems to bug her.
Rabbity is lucky, nimble and quick. She’s a beautiful dancer, and eventually saved up enough money to attend Bluecrater Academy. She joined the music program, and further honed her craft. There she met Falco Rhiavadi and Mick Frimfrocket whom she eventually started a band with.
Rabbity’s best friend is a panther named Panthy, who she has trained to let her ride on its back. Panthy can also act terrifying, follow Rabbity, and perform minor tricks like rolling over, shaking a paw, and dancing. Rabbity and Panthy typically perform together before the band goes on stage.
Rabbity works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern as a waitress. Because of this, the Tipped Tankard has become a meeting place for her bandmates, and they can often be seen there, eating, drinking, or performing in their band. Rabbity rents a room from her friend, Aeris (a local locksmith), and eventually Rabbity convinced Aeris to join their band as a drummer.
Mechanically, Rabbity is a kineticist tied to the element of water. Her panther is purchased and trained, but not an animal companion. She is my five-year old daughter’s character.
Aeris Caldyra is a locksmith born to the historic Caldyra family, and the business-minded Halar’s. It is said that the first Caldyra were brothers who accompanied Surabar, the founder of Cauldron, deep into the jungles in order to bless any settlements and boundaries he erected with the aid of their goddess Alseta. A respected but sparse family, the Caldyra name is still remembered fondly by historians. Aeris and her father, Edwin are the last of the Caldyra’s in Cauldron.
Her mother’s side of the family are successful merchants and businessmen from far off Qadira. Practically nobility, the Halar’s were rich beyond imagining and powerful, maintaining the ears of both the Satraps and extraplanar beings. Magical powers and the blood of elementals has long been recorded in their family histories. They have spread throughout the world, although the local Halar’s are little more than rich merchants and business-men. Unlike the Caldyra’s, the Halar’s are a vast family, with dozens of them living in Cauldron at the moment. Although Aeris’ mother, Kiriel socializes with them often, Aeris has always felt out of place among her extended family.
Despite being surrounded by a bustling family of merchants Aeris Caldyra has always felt less interested in business than she has in the gods. She felt like an outsider among the Halar family and with her parents. Only her Grandfather Marzio, a High Chamberlain of Alseta and the last of his faith, truly understood her. They were incredibly close, and despite her parents protests that she take up a worthy trade and get her head out of the clouds, Marzio trained Aeris in the ways of Alseta’s faith. She went with him on tours throughout the city to bless doorways, gateways and arches, to inspect the city walls for defects and repairs, and to ward peoples homes and businesses against danger. He knew a great deal about engineering, the history of the region, demons and, of course, religion. He was a good man and a good priest, but his focus was always more on helping people and Cauldron than it was on proselytizing and spreading Alseta’s worship. His followers were small in number, but many respected him and his work. He had working relationships with all four of the other churches in Cauldron as well as the Mayor’s office and the town guard. Alongside him, Aeris learned her religion and what it meant to be a good priest and a good person. Unfortunately, when she was only eight years old Marzio died. …And it was all her fault.
Aeris had accompanied Marzio on his rounds throughout Cauldron to inspect the walls and gates. By mid-day she was tired and begged her grandfather to take her for a treat at a local candy shop. He told her to wait until they were finished for the day, as he had packed them a picnic lunch, but Aeris had insisted, and Marzio never could say no to his beloved granddaughter. On the way to the candy shop they passed a mugger painted with a black and white face (a member of the criminal gang the Last Laugh) accosting a banker of Abadar. Marzio leapt in to assist the man, brandishing his holy symbol and attacking with his longsword, but he was ambushed by the muggers comrades. Stabbed in the back, Marzio fell, and faster than Aeris could blink the gang was upon him: beating, stabbing and stealing his coin. Aeris’ screams summoned the guard, but by the time they arrived Grandfather Marzio was dead, both he and the priest of Abadar had been robbed and the Last Laugh thugs had fled. Aeris snatched up his holy symbol and sword — the only valuables the thieves had left behind — and cried for days. Her grandpa was dead because she was a spoiled brat who wanted a candy! This was all her fault! Broken hearted, Aeris couldn’t bear to tell anyone he was dead because of her.
Life moved on. Aeris’ parents sold Marzio’s home and shrines to members of the Halar family. They were torn down and remodelled. The few followers of Alseta’s faith turned to Abadar for guidance, and soon the only place Grandpa Marzio’s religion lived on was inside Aeris herself. She was a poor excuse for a devotee and knew she would never be a Chamberlain like her grandpa had been. Aeris’ parents insisted she take up a trade and prepare for running her own business one day, so she studied to be a locksmith. Her locks could protect people. It was a trade her grandfather and Alseta would appreciate. When she became an adult Aeris was gifted a townhouse of her own, with a business space downstairs. She turned it into a profitable little locksmith’s shop. She rents out her spare room to Rabbity, a quirky little rabbitfolk who was in need of a home.
Now twenty years old, with blond hair, braided on one side, and mismatched eyes (one blue, one green), Aeris is a charismatic, cheeky woman. She’s always smiling or ready with a quip. She endeavours to be kind, honest and courteous. She doesn’t brag or lie (often). She’s strong of faith, but never proselytizes. She tries to keep up the duties her grandfather did. She blesses doorways (as she installs locks), prays to Alseta as she passes through thresholds of all kinds, inspects public archways and gateways for damage and repair work, and patrols the town walls looking for damage and wear.
Aeris never interacts with people she suspects of being criminals. When she discovers such people she always ends her interactions with them immediately and reports them to law enforcement. Most of the town guard think she’s a rubber-necker or a liar—another nosy citizen who makes fake and unnecessary reports. When she can stand it not more, Aeris takes the law into her own hands, seeking retribution against the criminals no one will punish. She sneaks into their homes and safe houses to rob them before slipping out again. She donates her stolen goods to fund civic projects, charities or local churches. Despite the good that comes of these misadventures she always feels horribly about it afterwards, believing her grandpa and Alseta are displeased with her actions. Her prayers the days following are always filled with promises to never steal again, which she inevitably breaks.
To this day Aeris has an intense hatred of the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild, and to a lesser extent other groups of gangs and organized crime. She’s always tries to step in and help stop crimes when she sees them (another reason the town guard is not fond of her). Despite her hope that she’ll be able to foil or disassemble the Last Laugh one day in honour of her grandfather, she is disregarded by them. A fact that hurts her more than she admits.
Aeris aspires to embody the four virtues of Alseta’s faith: Courtesy, Duty, Honesty and Humility. She believes that it is very important to protect people. She thinks that undeath and portals to dangerous planes are thresholds that should never have been opened and in the off chance she encounters such threats she would react strongly to stop or close them. As a follower of Alseta she also believes she must act as a fair arbiter to disputes. She tries to uphold the law.
Recently, Rabbity convinced Aeris to join her band as a percussionist. A fateful decision which caused her to meet Falco and Mick, and will inevitably set her on course to save her entire city….
Mechanically, Aeris is a suli bloodrager (spelleater and urban bloodrager archetypes). Instead of causing her to get out of control, Aeris’ bloodrage manifests as an unnatural calm, as she more fully embodies the will of her goddess. In addition to empowering her body, Aeris gains fast healing 1 while bloodraging. Aeris is the group’s trapfinder and main melee combatant. She has the destined bloodline, as she’s blessed by Alseta to achieve great deeds. Her suli blood, courtesy of the Halar side of the family, grants Aeris energy resistance to acid, cold, electricity and fire, the ability to speak a wide variety of exotic languages, and the ability to wreathe her weapons in the elements for a few rounds a day. Her feat is incremental elemental assault, which lets her use her elemental assault ability one round at a time instead of all at once. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City. Although strong, quick and skillful, nearly all of Aeris’ abilities only function for a certain number of rounds each day, meaning she’s likely to run out of them FAST. Especially in an adventure so combat heavy in the beginning.
With our characters created, and the campaign prepared, the members of Dinorabbit (the band formerly known as Boople Snoot!) head out to dinner to celebrate their one year anniversary at a fancy local restaurant, the Coy Nixie.
But fate has bigger plans for this quirky band of friends. Cauldron needs them!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our new characters who are going to brave the Shackled City. Check back soon to read about their continuing adventures.
Have you ever played the Shackled City? What kind of character would you make for this campaign?
Let me know in the comments below!
Until then, enjoy!
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 Number 97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.