Today on d20 Diaries we’re heading back to Torch, for more of the Iron Gods adventure path!
Iron Gods is a six-part adventure path by Paizo Publishing that fuses technology and fantasy into one awesome Pathfinder campaign. The first volume, Iron Gods Book 1: Fires of Creation, is written by Neil Spicer, and is intended to bring characters from levels one to four. The Iron Gods Player’s Guide is a free download on Paizo’s website, here. For further information on the Iron Gods campaign, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods Adventure Path.’ For information on our characters, check out my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix,’ and for information on our first few play sessions, check out my blog posts ‘Iron Gods: Part One: Into the Weeping Pond, Iron Gods: Part Two: Bring Out Your Dead,’ ‘Iron Gods: Part Three: Gremlins,’ and ‘Iron Gods: Part Four: The Dead Desert‘ If you’re going to play Iron Gods yourself, I highly recommend picking up the Iron Gods Adventure Path Pawn Collection, which has a ton of unique pawns for use in the campaign.
The trip back to Torch had been hell.
Despite their wounds, Nix had insisted on digging through the piles of debris for useful parts and scrap. She was an impulsive woman. Impatient, and reckless, but she was also brilliant. The bits of wire and metal she might find in the blocked passageways could become something wonderful with a bit of tinkering in her workshop. Like the massive metal arm that she wore. Built from scrap salvaged from the junkyard, it was a fine replacement for her missing one, which had been torn off by a piece of malfunctioning machinery a few years ago.
Haji had watched with exhausted fascination. His one remaining eye piercing the darkness with ease. The second eye socket was filled with a glittering gemstone, and surrounded by a strange triangular rune that had been branded into his flesh by his one-time master. The same master who had taken his eye.
Perched on his shoulder, a hideously ugly rat with strange rocky protrusions jutting from his flesh hissed in impatience. The rat was Haji’s keeper, and the source of his magical powers.
Haji eyed his rat-master and shook his head.
“I’m not leaving her behind.”
The rat hissed again and nipped Haji on the ear, clearly disappointed in his decision.
In the skulk caverns, Sef had eyed them with ill intent. It was clear she was contemplating taking advantage of their weakened state to murder them, but apparently thought better of it. She bit her tongue and let them pass. For now, their alliance still stood.
The swim through the Weeping Pond was the worst. It’s toxic waters stung their wounds, and made their eyes water. Although Rothmhar was unwounded, neither Haji nor Nix had much strength left in their limbs. Swimming while weighed by scrap and scavenged equipment took forever, and in the end they ended up walking along the bottom of the lake for the better part of an hour. Finally they clambered up onto shore wet, exhausted, with their wounds seeping puss. Unsurprisingly, this meant their first stop would be the Temple of Brigh.
The Temple was crowded with worshippers all praying that the Torch would reignite. Without it, many of them would starve and the town would sputter and die. The old high priest, Joram Kyte, was in the middle of leading a sermon, so Haji, Nix, and Rothmhar plopped down at the back of the chapel, bleeding all over the pews and stinking the place up with the toxic fumes of the lake. To say they made a disturbance was an understatement.
In time the sermon drew to a close, and the worshippers moved on to pray privately, either in the chapel, or by creating a useful device in the holy workshops nearby. Joram strode over to them with a pleasant smile on his face.
“I see the caverns proved a challenge today. Lucky for you, Brigh blesses all who beseech her for aid.” He gestured at a nearby donation box made of elaborate clockwork parts.
“You cheap bastard,” Nix cursed.
Haji dug a pile of money out of his belt pouch and dropped it into the box. With a clicking and a whirr, the box began to move. Sprouting metal protrusions It formed and created a golden mask—the holy symbol of Brigh, goddess of invention and clockworks. The mechanical face bowed it’s little head, then clinked and clanked its way back into its constituent pieces and withdrew itself inside.
“A fine blessing, indeed!” Joram remarked with a wide grin. “Now, let’s see what we can do about those wounds?”
It took more than a few castings, prayers, and a heavy dose of antiseptic cream before Haji and Nix were feeling more like themselves. Haji was grateful to the clerics, but Nix grumbled and complained the entire time that she could just brew her own potions at home. To drown her out, Haji explained to Joram what they had seen.
“The behaviour of these skeletons it strange,” Joram admitted. “Can you describe their behaviour in detail? And their bodies… Is there any chance they were particularly rotten zombies? I… have heard tell of something similar sounding…”
After further conversation, Joram sighed. “I believe that this red light is a sign that the skeletons are being controlled by another. By an intelligent undead, capable of forming a mental link with the skeletons, and bending them to his will. Unfortunately, if I am correct, then there’s a high probability that these unquiet skeletons will reform daily.”
Haji scowled. “Reform?”
“But, we just destroyed them!” Nix exclaimed. She crossed her arms in an angry pout.
“And you’ll need to destroy them again tomorrow,” The preacher added with a stern look.
“So how do we stop their rejuvenation?” Haji asked.
“You’ll either need to destroy their controller, or bring their spirits peace. I’m afraid I can’t tell you more without witnessing them personally.”
“Bring them peace?” Nix scoffed. “Pretty hard to do when they’re shoving their claws into your chest! Ass.”
Joram ignored the insult and shrugged. “If I’m wrong, you’ll soon find out. But, if I’m right… Well, it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared. Have I mentioned that we sell holy water? Brigh protects all who show her the proper respect.”
Haji nodded quickly, before Nix could insult the old priest further.
With their holy water in hand, and their purses significantly lighter, Nix and Haji left the chapel and entered the streets of Torch. Wide, well-worn dirt roads stood empty. The forges and bellows lining the roads were quiet and dark. Doors were shut. Windows shuttered. Shops closed.
Torch was dying.
Eventually they came to the home of Val Baine. Val was a child, barely twelve, but she had promised to feed Haji, Nix and Rothmhar. Not indefinitely, of course. Only while they were exploring the caverns under Torch. Val’s father, the town councillor Khonnir Baine, had gone missing in those same caverns, and Val was hopeful that Haji and Nix would bring him home.
At the sight of them, Val smiled. “You’re back! Did you find my father?”
Haji shook his head no, while Nix ignored her and held her stomach dramatically.
“I see,” Val sighed sadly. But a moment later she smiled. “I’m sure it won’t be much longer now! You’ll bring him home, soon.” She led them into the nearby bar that was her father’s. “We’re having roast crow for dinner. Come on.”
The bar was large and empty, having been closed by Val until the day her father returned.
Val was a decent cook for a kid. Better than Haji and Nix, anyway. Of course, that wasn’t saying much, as Haji had been known to eat garbage and rotten meat on occasion, while Nix often cooked out of the same pot she brewed alchemical concoctions from. Standards were not high.
They stuffed themselves, and then Haji stuffed himself even more. Food had been scarce growing up, so he had a habit of gorging himself to bursting whenever possible.
Eventually they left and made their way to the market. They had goods to sell, and Nix was intent on discerning the uses of the strange devices she had discovered. The market was pretty empty, with only a few stalls in operation, but they were lucky. They met a man by the name of Sanvil Trett who was an expert in the advanced technology that littered Numeria. He was a friendly fellow, who chatted away happily with Nix and explained how all of her scavenged goods worked—for a fee, of course.
Haji didn’t like the man. He smiled entirely too pleasantly at Nix and flirted with her while they talked. After Haji wrapped his arm around Nix and gave the man a growl he backed off a bit, and the conversation turned professional. Turns out Sanvil was pretty helpful. They learned that the silverdisks they regularly used as currency were batteries capable of charging up advanced technology. Most of the ones that they had were spent, and had no purpose other than money, but others had a visible lattice of metal lines on one side that shimmered in the light like a rainbow. These possessed the power to recharge advanced devices. The strange pen-like stick Nix had found a while back was a zipstick. When charged it would send a minor electrical current into something. Although not powerful on its own, a zipstick could be used with ion tape and some other advanced devices. Ion tape was pliable and sticky, but solidifies when electrified, becoming solid and smooth. Another shock caused it to revert to its original form. The smooth rectangular disks they had turned out to be a strange kind of key, which would open doors within metal ruins—presuming the ruins still had power. Nix also picked up an e-pick—a set of tools that would help her pick electronic locks—and some of that splendid ion tape!
After a bit more ooh-ing and aah-ing over the devices Sanvil had for sale, Haji and Nix wandered off to sell some of their more mundane loot. Afterwards they would head back to Nix’s house to rest, recover, and brew a heaping pile of potions for the next day.
On the way they came upon a messenger.
“Miss Nix! Mr. Haji!”
Nix turned with a raised eyebrow to find a scrawny messenger holding out an envelope.
“What?” Haji growled.
The messenger stuttered nervously. “P-p-please come and visit the illustrious Silverdisk Hall! My master bids you welcome!”
Haji glowered at the messenger with his one good eye, while Rothmhar hissed at him.
Nix raised an eyebrow. “Your master? Seriously? Garmen Ullreth just suddenly decided to offer us an invite to spend our coin at his casino?” She scoffed. “How generous of him.”
Haji snatched the envelope out of the messengers hands and opened it. Inside was a fancy invitation and a writ for 100 gold worth of credit at the casino. Sure enough, it was addressed to them personally, and signed: Garmen Ullreth.
“M-my master has heard of the good you are doing for the town of Torch, and wanted to honour you for your efforts. The c-c-credit is good on our games, beverages, and food.”
“Food?” Haji’s frown transformed into a bright smile.
“Uh, yes, sir!” The man stammered.
Nix let out a laugh. “We’ll be there.” She told the messenger. “Now, get.”
The messenger scurried off, while Haji and Nix went back to the business at hand: selling their loot and buying supplies for Nix’s crafting. By the time they got back to Nix’s crowded home/workshop it was late afternoon. Nix only had a few hours to tinker and brew before they left for Silverdisk Hall.
The casino was swanky! Staffed by scantily clad workers, and filled with the finest furniture in town, Silverdisk Hall was like another world. Tables of card and dice games filled the main hall, while a bar and restaurant at the back served food. Impeccably clean servers wound through the crowds of grungy townsfolk, carrying trays of alcohol and drugs for sale. And everywhere they looked: siverdisks. Haji and Nix found their way past the half-naked greeters and over to the cash counter. A burly looking fellow with bulging muscles and a sleazy smile gave Nix a wink before cashing in their voucher for ten shiny silverdisks.
“All games and services are paid for by silverdisks here. When you’re ready to cash out, just come on back. Enjoy yourselves, now!”
Haji growled in response.
Nix snatched up the silverdisks and discovered one had a tell-tale shine to it. She pulled out her zipstick and pressed it against the silverdisk, like Sanvil had taught her. The shine on the circuitry faded. Nix clicked the button on the side of the zipstick and a small jolt of electricity shot sparked at its tip.
“Ah!” She exclaimed happily. She waved the zipstick around for Haji to see and smiled brightly. “Did you see?” After testing it a few more times, and wasting half the charges provided by the battery, Nix finally put the stick away and returned her attention to her surroundings.
“Care to waste our coin on gambling?” She asked.
Haj shook his head. “No. But I will waste it on food.”
Nix laughed. “Honey, food is never a waste.”
There was a chuckle from behind them, and a hand fell on Nix’s shoulder. “Oh, my dear, this is delightful!”
Nix and Haji turned to find the infamous Garmen Ullreth smiling at them. He was clean and handsome. Dressed in gleaming sutdded leather armour, and with a rapier on his hip, the man was clearly well off, and not to be trifled with.
Haji growled, but refrained from threatening the overly wealthy (and politically powerful) man.
“Oh, Miss Nix! You must have a brilliant mind to forge such a wonderful device! Your arm is exquisite! And you, Mr. Haji! I was told you were a terrifying sight, but I must say, I’m impressed. That gaze alone could send a trained warrior crying back to his mother’s skirts.”
With a bow, Garmen introduced himself. “My name is Garmen. I’m the owner of this fine establishment, and I’m so happy you could join me.”
Haji grunted, but Nix smiled. “Thanks for the invite.”
“Oh, it’s the least I could do for the saviours of Torch! Now, go on. Enjoy yourselves. It’s on me, tonight.”
Garmen gave Haji a bow, kissed Nix’s good hand in farewell, and was gone as fast as he had appeared.
“Well, that was weird.” Nix remarked.
Haji only grunted. “Let’s eat.”
Wandering through the tables, the duo made their way to the bar at the back of the hall. They sat down to eat, only to discovered Sanvil Trett already there.
“Hey! Happy to see you two again!” Sanvil greeted them. “I didn’t peg you for the gambling type.”
“We’re hungry.” Haji remarked.
“Hungry? But the food here is horribly over priced!”
Nix laughed. “Figures.”
Haji shrugged. “We’re eating free tonight. So why are you here, then?”
Sanvil smiled. “Why, didn’t you hear? They only deal in silverdisks.” Leaning over conspiratorially he whispered, “They don’t know the difference between a charged disk and a spent one. I cash in my sales from a day to disks, and often end up with one or two that are charged. That’s a ton of profit! I just hang onto those at the end of the night, and trade in spent ones. It’s great turnaround!”
Nix let out a laugh. “That’s genius!”
Sanvil grinned. “Let’s keep it our little secret, dear.”
Haji narrowed his eye at Sanvil, and growled.
“Miss. Nix.” Sanvil corrected. “And Mister Haji, of course. And now, if you’ll excuse me, It’s time for me to cash out.”
Sanvil excused himself and left, while Nix and Haji ordered—horrendously overpriced—food.
Deeper in the bar there was a disturbance. Some drunk loser at the other end of the bar was making a fool of himself.
A drunk loser who also happened to be Nix’s dad.
“Figures.” Nix scoffed. Turning to Haji she added, “You eat. I’ll check on him.”
While Nix settled down her father, Haji watched the gaming hall. He saw some strange things, but nothing particularly weird. There was a lot of cheating by the dealers. And a lot of guys walking around had ropes wrapped around their forearms and fists. He had seen people like that around Torch, but had no idea who they were. A gang, maybe? Some weird fashion trend? Fist-fighters? He didn’t know and, frankly didn’t care. There was a suspicious woman slinking around the tables. Foolish girl was going to get herself killed. And a surprising number of customer altercations. The rope-fisted fellows were prone to picking fights with other patrons, only to have the dealers take advantage of the commotion to cheat for the house.
Haji shook his head. He didn’t understand gambling.
The silverdisk’s didn’t go far. A few drinks each and a couple of helpings of food, and suddenly they were broke. The place was a money pit.
Haji and Nix left the Silverdisk Hall not long after arriving, no richer than they went in. On the plus side, they were full, and drunk. They stumbled home happily, their earlier brush with death temporarily forgotten. They spent the night wrapped in each others arms, with Rothmhar hissing at them angrily.
They had survived one hell of a day! But, with another battle against the strange skeletons looming on the horizon, they might not be so lucky next time…
Thanks for checking out d20 Diaries today! Haji and Nix’s adventures playing Iron Gods Book 1: Fires of Creation, will continue soon, in their sixth instalment: Master of Skulls. We hope you’ll join us again!