Welcome back to Cauldron, home of the The Shackled City Adventure Path! When we last left off our heroic musicians were investigating a series of missing person cases which recently culminated in the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. Fate led to our characters taking the rescue of these people upon themselves! Although they’ve defeated the kidnappers, and rescued the children, there’s plenty of other missing citizens of Cauldron to save. And their captors? Slavers! They’ll have to work fast if they want to save their fellow citizens before they’re sold!
If none of this sounds familiar you can read this blog post, which details our characters, or continue on with this article to hear a quick summary and jump right into the action! You can also check out our previous adventures in Shackled City: Part One, Shackled City: Part Two: A Mystery!, Shackled City: Part Three: Jzadirune, Shackled City: Part Four: Enter the Malachite Fortress, Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!, Shackled City: Part Six: Kazmojen, and Shackled City: Part Seven: Bad Luck.
The Shackled City Adventure Path is available for purchase in its entirety here. The first volume, Life’s Bazaar, is available for purchase here.
Our eccentric heroes are all members of ‘Dinorabbit,’ a musical band that changes its name frequently and was most previously known as ‘Boople Snoot.’ The band’s lead singer and song-writer is Falco Rhiavadi, a foppish noble bastard of mixed Tien descent whose father was devoured by a dragon when Falco was just a boy. A well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality, Falco’s a black sheep among his family. Mechanically, Falco is an oracle of life whose familiar is a jealous and demanding thrush named Ruby. Falco is played by my husband.
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick acts as the band’s pianist and creative director. He’s the driving force behind the band’s constant name changes, and over-the-top performances. Mick was born in the gnomish enclave of Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led through his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!). Rabbity recently ‘befriended’ (she thinks) a vicious howler named Prickles. What could go wrong?!
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch, and an ex-guard named Krylscar Endercott! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. Patch has gone from a meek coward to a stalwart companion. He’s currently acting as protector of all of the citizens we’ve liberated, keeping watch over them in a secure location while our heroes continue to forge ahead.
Krylscar was abducted from Cauldron over a month ago, and was only recently freed by the team. He was found unconscious in his cell, beaten by his captors for impertinence. When they healed him they discovered Krylscar was bloodied, but far from broken. He demanded gear, equipped himself, and insisted on helping the members of Dinorabbit explore the rest of the Malachite Complex. Occasionally helpful and always reckless, Krylscar is stubborn and brave.
Kneeling in the wreckage of their battle, Aeris gasped for breath. She and Falco had narrowly avoided being crushed to death and devoured by a mimic disguised as a gong in a well-stocked treasure vault. The gold had not been worth it. Not to them, anyway. Their teammates may think otherwise…
“WOW! Look at all this gold!” Rabbity exclaims. “Oh, gems! I LOVE gems! Can I have them all, guys?” Without waiting for an answer, Rabbity scooped up all of the gems and jewelry, and dumped them into her bag. “Thanks!”
“There’s a lot of neat things in here, Rabbity, not just gems,” Mick remarks. He was in the process of carefully examining everything, packing it up in trunks and bags, and then giving it to his magical, half-broken, construct to carry. He had packed up weapons, armour, and plenty of gold. With a cock of his head he picked up a crumpled piece of paper. “What’s this?”
At our gaming table, I handed my son a crumpled up piece of paper. He grinned, and unscrunched it, leaving him with a wrinkled letter. More than a little pleased with this turn of events, my son studied the letter carefully, then read it out loud.
There’s such a thing as being too good at your job.
Lay off taking your product from Cauldron. You’re pushing your luck. Any more get snatched and you’ll find yourself the target of jealous competitors or offended do-gooders.
Don’t say I didn’t want you.
The letter was signed with an image of a stylized bird, which Rabbity recognized as a kingfisher.
Now, my kids adore player handouts. Everyone does, I know. But, my kids really get into them. They read, re-read, and re-read again the handouts. They search for clues in everything. This letter they worried over the words, the potential meaning behind them, the kingfisher, and even any pictures hidden in the paper crinkles. They keep notes and wild theories in a notebook and go back to compare new handouts to old ones. They’re obsessed with player handouts.
Which is awesome! No handout is ever under appreciated.
So when I handed them this letter they freaked (in a good way). It was a solid ten minutes of conspiracy theories and excitement before they settled enough that we could continue the game.
When we were finally ready we moved on, backtracking through all the hallways and rooms we’d already explored until we only had two left. The first chamber was a fine bedroom, complete with nice wooden furniture, a chain wrapped iron trunk, food, refreshments, and …. infernal guardians!
A pair of quivering, nasty mounds of flesh surged to life as soon as Aeris opened the door.
“Lemures!” she shouted. “They’re resistant to damage. You’ll need to hit them really hard to have any effect.”
“Or use silver,” Falco added. He pulled out his silver holy symbol of Shelyn and passed it to Mick. “Try this.”
Aeris rushed into battle and swung her sword, but her blade struck the lemure and bounced off their flesh. Not hard enough.
Rabbity peeked into the room and launched a blast of water at one lemure. Unfortunately, she rolled low and dealt only minor damage to the foul outsider.
With a shrug, Mick followed the others into the room and tossed the holy symbol right at the wounded lemure. Capable of turning anything into a lethal weapon, Mick was pleasantly surprised to see he not only hit, but he defeated the creature! With a critical hit he took down the lemure. It shuddered, quivered, and lost its form, turning into a nasty puddle of goo before being torn back to its home plane. All that was left behind was the shining holy symbol. “Ha!” My son shouted loudly as he jumped out of his seat and danced around the living room. “Don’t mess with Mick! Yeah! Dance party! WHOO!”
Falco stepped into the room, sure to stay near the back, and cast some hexes at the remaining lemure, lowering its defences. Krylscar hurried into the room to help Aeris combat the creature in melee. The pair both managed to trike, dealing some minor damage to the devils once DR was taken into account. But, it was a kinetic blast from Rabbity that slammed into the lemure with massive force that finally brought the creature down. My daughter joined my son in their victory dance.
They sifted through the room but were disappointed in its contents. The trunk contained the personal effects of someone short and prone to colourful attire, and plenty of shackles and chains. Deciding it must belong to that weaselly gnome-like slave merchant who fled when they fought Kazmojen and Prickles (in Part Six: Kazmojen), they discussed whether finding his things was good or bad.
“Hmmm… If his things are here maybe he hasn’t really ran away yet,” my daughter said.
“No,” my son disagreed. “I think he was so scared he left without any of his stuff. That means that he probably left without taking anymore slaves or anything with him.”
“We should chase him in case he has my friend Griffin!” my daughter decided.
“No! We should finish looking around in here for any more slaves. And Griffin.”
My husband had to weigh in with his opinion to settle the discussion and get us moving again. We continued through the Malachite Fortress, exploring the rooms we still hadn’t checked out. There was only one. The kitchen.
Preparing themselves for anther battle, everyone drew their weapons, and drank a scavenged potion or two. There were voices inside. Two chittering goblinoid voices, and an exasperated sounding man.
“Ugh,” the man’s voice groaned. “That’s a fork. I said I needed a spoon. A BIG SPOON.”
The goblinoid voices sounded like they were arguing some more.
“Hey!” Rabbity exclaimed. “That sounds like Griffin!”
Krylscar looked at Rabbity strangely. “You know Griffin?”
“Yeah!” exclaimed Rabbity. “He works at MY work. We are friends. His fiancé has been so sad since he was kidnapped that she NEVER stops crying. It is super annoying and super sad!”
Krylscar chucked. “Griffin’s been my friend since we were kids. Used to get into all kinds of scrapes. Until he settled down with that girl of his. Never saw him much, after that.” With a grim sort of look Krylscar nodded at the door. “Let’s do this.”
Rabbity and Krylscar opened the door, both leaping through and into the kitchen in a flash. Rabbity blasted one of the goblins with a wave of water before he even had time to react, while Krylscar stabbed the second.
At the sight of a pair of dying kitchen hands Griffin Malek screamed. And screamed. And screamed.
“It’s us, it’s us!” Rabbity said to him.
“AAAAAAAHHHHH! YOU JUST BARGED IN AND KILLED PEOPLE! Oh, I’m going to be in so much trouble!”
“What are you talking about, mate?” Krylscar asked. “You’re free. You’re welcome.”
“Kryl? You’re still alive?”
“Of course!” Krylscar replied. “Thought you were dead, though.”
“No, I bargained with Kazmojen to work as a cook. It earned me warm food and a bed. Plus, he promised he wouldn’t sell me. It’s a pretty sweet deal, by the way, so I’d appreciate you guys getting out of here before you mess it up!”
Krylscar laughed. “Ah, you weasel! Always were the smart one!”
“I thought you’d be dead for sure!” Griffin replied.
Krylscar laughed some more. “Yeah, they said they’d eat me if I didn’t start behaving. I said I hoped they’d choke! HA!”
Griffin laughed for a moment, then paled. “I would have had to cook you.”
Krylscar paused, suddenly thinking it wasn’t that funny anymore…
“You don’t need to worry about Kazmojen. We killed him. And his guards,” Rabbity pointed out. “Like… lots of them.”
“Lots of them or all of them?”
“Lots!” Rabbity exclaimed happily.
“Not good enough!” Griffin replied, crossing his arms. “I’m not leaving.”
“All of them,” Falco corrected.
The bickering continued for a while, until Griffin finally relented. “Well, alright. But if you get me killed I’ll curse you with my dying breath.”
The group met up with Patch and the other survivors. They double/triple checked the complex, then headed for the elevator. They rode it up to Jzadirune, and then continued, walking through the confusing tangle of hallways and rough tunnels, until they arrived in Keygan Ghelve’s home. With a wave of her hands, Rabbity opened the door, revealing the bright red sun, rising over Cauldron.
The prisoners shielded their eyes. Some wept, some cheered, and some stood stunned. The saddest amongst them were still in shock.
“Welcome home!” Rabbity exclaimed
With shaky, hesitant steps, the prisoners returned to the streets of Cauldron.
We wrapped up there and my kids hopped out of their chairs, dancing and jumping and singing in triumph. We had just completed ‘Life’s Bazaar,’ book one of the Shackled City Adventure Path. Reason to celebrate! Plus? They honestly felt like heroes.
“This was great, Mom!” my son said.
“Yeah, what’s next?” my daughter asked.
“Oh, you’ll have to wait and see,” I told them. “But you should give some thought to what you want to do over the next few days or weeks in Cauldron. Think about it, so you’re ready for the next time we play.”
“Okay!” they shouted. As they started chattering over their plans, my husband grinned.
“Yes, you all get a level up.”
Cue the victory dance from my children.
We had a ton of fun playing ‘Life’s Bazaar.’ Next session we’re slowing things down a bit, and doing some roleplaying in Cauldron, before launching into the next chapter of the Shackled City Adventure Path: Drakthar’s Way.
Wish us luck!
Behind the Screen
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine #97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.
Despite being a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Path, we’re running this campaign with Pathfinder (both the campaign setting and the ruleset). Our characters utilize content from many sources, some of which are listed below.
The shaman and the bloodrager classes, as well as the bloodrager archetype spelleater, can all be found in the Advanced Class Guide. The urban bloodrager archetype can be found in Heroes of the Streets. The Kineticist class can be found in Occult Adventures. The monk and bard are base classes found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (or in a convenient travel-sized edition: Core Rulebook (Pocket Edition) while the prankster archetype for bards can be found in the Advanced Race Guide.