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! They’ve tracked down the kidnappers, and discovered an underground complex run by 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, and Shackled City: Part Five: This Place is the Pits!
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 Jzadirune but was brought to the city of Cauldron to escape the Vanishing. Orphaned by the mysterious events and with few memories of those early years, Mick was raised in the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same orphanage that recently had four children kidnpapped right from their beds! Determined to save those little scamps, Mick was very excited to take up this missing person’s case and follow it to its conclusion — particularly when he realized that it led to his one-time home. Mechanically Mick is a monk / bard (prankster) who attacks with wild kicks while playing his piano in battle. Partway through exploring Jzadirune he came into possession of a broken magical construct. He’s played by my seven-year old son.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbitfolk waitress who works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern. A dancer and singer for the band Dinorabbit, Rabbity also has a pet panther named Panthy. She’s lucky, nimble, and quick, but a little skittish. One of her co-workers is one of the people who was recently abducted, so she’s very keen to solve this mystery and return him home. Rabbity is a hydrokineticist played by my six-year old daughter, using the rabbitfolk race. Rabbitfolk are a Pathfinder Compatible race created by my daughter (with some help) which will soon be published in the upcoming Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion by Sunburst Games (Kickstarter coming in February!)
The final member of our party is Aeris Caldyra, a local locksmith who was cajoled by her roommate, Rabbity, to join the band as a percussionist and set designer. With few friends to call her own, Aeris relented to the rabbitfolk’s request and is the least talented member of the band. The last worshipper of Alseta in Cauldron, with more than a few secrets and regrets, Aeris is a suli bloodrager with a chip on her shoulder. Always one to lend a hand, like her Grandfather Marzio once would have done, Aeris is determined to rescue the missing citizens of Cauldron. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City Adventure Path.
Although that’s the last of our PCs, that’s not the last of our party. The members of Dinorabbit are also travelling with a half-orc janitor named Patch! Patch is a big, stuttering, fool who works at the Lantern Street Orphanage — the very same place he was raised. Patch recently got recruited to the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild and was asked to watch over an orphan named Terrem. Unfortunately, Terrem was kidnapped on the very evening that Patch went out to meet with with the guild. Distraught over the boy’s disappearance, Patch was pressured by Falco and Mick into helping them rescue the kids. And so, the poor one-eyed janitor finds himself heading into danger.
Our eclectic crew of musicians, janitors, and locksmiths, retraced their steps and re-entered the forge. Our heroes had battled enemy hobgoblins and goblins here two sessions ago in an effort to free three citizens of Cauldron who had been labouring here. With the battle won they sent their travelling companion, Keygan Ghelve, off with the freed prisoners. It was his job to bring them back up to the city and see them safely to the Church of Adabar.
In the time since they had taken down dozens of hobgoblin guards, but knew there could be more. Seeing nothing amiss Mick headed over to the door they had yet to peek through. He listened against it but couldn’t make out anything. Opening the door led to a large dining room lined with benches and tables. It was empty at the moment, but stray dishes on the tabletop and a distant murmuring told them that enemies were not far away. The group quickly did a sweep of the room, listening at all the various doors. Three were silent, one sounded like a kitchen, and the last was very noisy. My family discussed their options. Noise might mean trouble, but the kitchen probably mean someone banging on a loud pot which could sound an alarm. And silence meant…
They weren’t sure.
Curious, my kids decided they should check out the quiet room first. They found a threadbare living room that slept at least three people, a pantry, and a larder. Nothing of interest. They moved towards the kitchen, when suddenly Panthy prickled up her ears. She wandered over to the noisy door and growled….
“What is it, Panthy?” Rabbity asked. “You hear something?” Rabbity pricked her ears around. “I think… I think I hear a kid crying!”
“Well hurry up!” Mick exclaimed.
“Wait!” Falco proclaimed. He whispered something to his bird.
Ruby tweeted back melodically.
Mick drank a few defensive potions, Aeris drew her sword and Patch worried. When they were prepared, Falco quietly cracked open the door and peeked inside.
The room very large, with a raised stage in the back topped by three iron posts. Chains dangled from the top of the posts, ending at the manacled hands of three children. The kids from the orphanage! On the steps stood a strange figure in ill-fitting armour who looked like a mix between a dwarf and a troll. He clutched a fourth child by a chain around its neck and waved the kids face in front of another figure, this one a soft-looking gnomish fellow with blue skin, orange hair, and massive glasses.
“He’s good!” The troll-man bellowed.
“Oh, I don’t know about that Kazmojen!” the gnome-like creature argued. “I agreed I’d pay fifty gold for each child, but this one… This one is defective! There’s something about him I just can’t put my finger on.”
“Nonsense!” Kazmojen argued. “He’s got… spirit! Yes! Break him and he work harder than others. Forty-five!”
The gnome shook his head. “Oh, much too much work… And he spits!”
As if to punctuate this point the child spit in the gnome-like creature’s face. “I bite too!” he grinned.
Kazmojen yanked the child around by the chains clamped tight around his neck. Behind them a strange beast shifted. The quills that coated its back shook back and forth at the movement. The beast stretched its quadrupedal form and growled. It looked like some sort of quilled dog monster. A very large quilled dog monster.
While the trio argued over the cost of the kids, four other hobgoblins guarded the chamber. Two at a pair of double doors, one at a door across the room, and one at the door that Falco was peeking through.
“That’s Terrem they’re f-f-fighting over!” Patch whispered.
“The child that the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild wanted you to protect?” Min asked back.
Patch nodded with worry.
“Ruby!” Falco whispered. “Do the thing!”
The bird fluttered into the room, chirping insults loudly in it’s sweet little voice. “HEY UGLY, OVER HERE!”
As the various ugly enemies turned to look at the offending bird, Rabbity shoved an invisibility potion in Panthy’s mouth with a clever grin. Then she pushed the door open hard so it smacked the hobgoblin on the other side in the back of the head. Rabbity clamped a hand over her mouth and giggled. Then she crouched down and whispered into the ear — she hoped — of her invisible panther.
Patch was too worried over the children — Terrem in particular — to wait any longer. He hurried into the room pointed at the people talking and stammered, “L-l-let the children g-g-go!”
Panthy slunk away from Rabbity — although what the panther was doing was a mystery. Mick stepped casually into the room and whistled a little tune. Then he made a funny face at the hobgoblin guard near the door. The guard let out a laugh. Then a giggle. With a confused look on his face he started laughing at the top of his lungs, then fell to the ground and laughed some more. Mick gave the hobgoblin a wink and casually stepped over him and into the room.
Aeris dashed into the room and held her sword out at the two slavers. “Leave the children or die!”
Falco stepped into the room and whacked the laughing hobgoblin in the head with his fine walking stick. Meanwhile, Ruby continued to taunt the hobgoblins. Rabbity managed to send a blast of water at another hobgoblin before the tall figure — Kazmojen — let out a loud laugh. He pointed at Patch. “You can’t have those three,” he said with a gesture at the crying chilling chained to the posts. “Them bought already. But you can have the biter. Forty-five gold!” Then he turned his hideous face on Aeris and pointed at her. “Kill.”
The dog-beast let out a loud howl and took a few paces forward.
“Now, now, Kazmojen. Kill HER you mean! Yes? Not kill me! Certainly not!” The little gnomish fellow hurried up the steps to the back of the room and hid behind an iron post.
Finally the hobgoblins leapt into action. One tried to shoot down the irritating bird, while the others moved to attack Patch. He took a few heavy blows and already looked near death! The battle had barely even started! Clutching his daggers tightly Patch fought back against the hobgoblins, with Mick soon joining him.
Aeris swung her blade at Kazmojen, but struck only his sturdy armour. Seeing her outnumbered, Falco hurried over and placed a hex on the leader, lowering his AC. Suddenly Panthy leapt upon Kazmojen, biting, and clawing, and tearing! His armour deflected most of the blows, but Panthy’s teeth tore a hole in the back of his leg. Kazmojen roared in pain and anger, while Rabbity laugh.
Kazmojen pointed at the Panthy. “Prickles, KILL.”
Prickles looked from Aeris to Panthy, trying to decide which looked most tasty. Apparently deciding the panther was the winner, the dog-beast turned on Panthy.
“NO!” Rabbity exclaimed. She raced closer to the dog-beast, pointed at Kazmojen, and shouted, “KILL, Prickles! KILL MASTER!”
Kazmojen scowled at the rabbitfolk. Meanwhile, Prickles turned to consider this predicament. After a few moments he bit Kazmojen! The troll-man roared in outrage and swung his axe at Rabbity, but the nimble little kineticist dodged backwards. Taking advantage of his distraction Terrem yanked his chain away from Kazmojen’s grasp and made a break for it, running across the hall an out of the main doors.
“I’m out of here!”the strange gnomish fellow exclaimed. Then he, too, turned and fled. One of the guards fled with him.
The battle raged on. Mick and Patch took down the hobgoblin guards with daggers and wild kicks. Falco kept up his hexes, lowering Kazmojen’s defences and foiling his aim. Rabbity shot water blasts at Kazmojen from afar, while Aeris fought him in melee with her sword. It was a tough fight! Patch went down halfway through and, with no time to go heal the poor fellow, all they could do was hope he would survive. Kazmojen turned most of his attention to Aeris, nearly knocking her unconscious multiple times. If not for Falco’s constant healing near the end of the fight she would have died.
A short while after Terrem fled they heard his scream. A deep, gravelly voice told him “YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE, TERREM KARATYS.”
Mick dashed over to the main doors and whipped them open, hurrying off to help Terrem. He caught a glimpse of a massive floating head, covered with eyestalks and a huge central eye.
“COME TERREM! I SHALL RETURN YOU TO YOUR HOME.”
There was a sudden flicker of magic, and the beholder and Terrem both vanished.
“B… Be… BEHOLDER!” Mick stammered in shock. “He… Kid… OH, NO!”
By the time Mick rejoined the fight, Kazmojen had fallen and Prickles was eating him.
Exhausted and bleeding from dozens of wounds, Aeris dropped her sword and fell to her knees. Falco and Mick quickly gave her and Patch what healing they could. They drank the rest of their potion reserves and searched the room in the hopes of finding more. Aeris freed the children, while Patch gave them all hugs.
“Terrem?” Falco asked Mick.
Mick shook his head. “Kidnapped by a beholder,” he whispered.
“What? Why would — Huh?” After a moment of shock Falco shook his head and hurried over to the other exit. He peered through the door and saw a bridge, but no signs of the gnome.
“We have to hurry and follow that weaselly guy! He might be about to leave with some slaves.” Mick urged.
Falco walked over to the children. “What’s that way?” he asked them.
Most were too scared to reply, but one of the children, a dwarven boy named Deakon, found his voice. “Cells! That’s where they kept us! Over the bridge and through the door. There’s a whole hallway lined with cells. I… I don’t know how many had people in them, but at least some did. I could hear them.”
Falco thanked Deakon, then beckoned Patch over. “We need to hurry and free everyone else. Patch, you’re in charge of the children. Wait here and wait for my signal. When its safe you can cross the bridge after us. We’ll keep it up as we explore, all right? Hopefully we can keep you guys safe, but if not, it’s up to you to flee with the kids. Get them back to the church.”
Patch nodded with a look of determination in his eye. He tried to stammer out an affirmation, but couldn’t find the words. Instead he nodded again. Then he kept Deakon and the two silent girls close.
Rabbity stood over the quilled dog. “Can we keep him?” she asked the others.
Aeris shook her head. “Rabbity, that’s… that’s not a dog. You can’t keep it as a pet. It’s a howler. They’re foul creature from the Abyss that feed on fear.”
Rabbity shook her head. “What? Nonsense! We’re going to be the best of friends! Aren’t we, Prickles?”
Prickles looked at Rabbity a moment. He growled… then stopped. He stretched his legs and back, and growled.
“We can’t keep it Rabbity,” Aeris repeated. “In fact, we should probably kill it.”
“Nuh-uh! He’s my friend! And he’s coming with us.” Rabbity hopped on top of Panthy, adjusted her saddle, and loped off towards the door and bridge.
Prickles watched the rabbitfolk go. Then he looked long and hard at Aeris with eyes that showed far more intelligence than a normal animal. He growled at her.
Aeris adjusted her stance and clutched her blade tightly. Howlers were fierce opponents…
Prickles growled some more, then snorted in derision. It turned from her and followed Rabbity out onto the bridge.
“Well, shit.” Aeris remarked.
And so, having ‘befriended’ a howler, Rabbity, Mick, Aeris, and Falco continue hurried across the bridge, intent on saving what people they could.
As I packed up our gear and calculated experience, my daughter grinned. “Prickles is going to be my best friend.”
I tried to explain just how horrible a howler was. Even pulled out its picture.
My daughter just grinned. “Aww, cutie!”
“It’s not cute at all,” I retorted.
“Yes, it is! And we will be best friends! And Panthy, too!”
Faced with her chipper smile, I laughed. If she wanted to try to befriend a howler, I wouldn’t stop her. It had been raised to be a guard dog. And Rabbity was both great with animals, and diplomatic. Perhaps she could control it. But, control wouldn’t keep a howler alive or content. They lived to sow terror, and kill.
Rabbity would have her hands full.
How could it go wrong?! Right?
Wish her 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.