Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pathfinder Transcript: mountains and dragons can't kill us, only drow clerics can kill us

[One of the players in our group has started keeping brief transcripts of our sessions, partly for the amusement of a third party who isn't playing with us I guess, and partly to help us pick up the following session in medias res. 

The next quest was run by the player who'd been controlling Camlost (Bloodrager / Dragon Disciple). It continues a broad metaplot of politicking between two dwarf cities, with spoiling actions from a drow city.

TL;DR- we were hired to recover a magic box which had been stolen a week ago from dwarves somewhere on secret mountain roads several days to the north. I think we surprised the GM by:
  • Choosing to Magic Steed a direct route through the mountains instead of an easier route through the plains; we might've missed an important encounter by doing this. 
  • Demolishing a Frost Worm so quickly; the party was strung out due to terrain, so it was able to ambush a single (I think random) character in isolation. I liked the set up. If it had gotten one of the spellcasters instead of a melee type, things might've ended differently.
  • Driving a White Dragon from its lair and teleporting away with its loot; this was accomplished almost entirely by the wizards player. This showed how powerful his character build is relative to the rest of us, but also exposed weaknesses.
  • Being essentially immune to falling off a mountain; we're getting into higher levels, where there's a bunch of magic and special abilities which negate most normal threats. It makes adventure design a little more difficult. 
  • Attempting a non-violent resolution to being ambushed by trolls; unfortunately, we had no leverage or clever tricks, so we fell back on violence.
  • Being bad at finding things; probably related to the first bullet point. He might also have expected us to have different skills or spells, or to leverage what we did have differently, or to hire an NPC tracker. 
  • Almost TPK'ing in the boss fight; our characters are all pretty capable individually, but our squad tactics are nonexistent. I suspect we survived mainly because the boss decided to leave instead of finishing us off.
Deciding where to go and how to find the magic box occupied most of our play. The GM did a fair job of making the combats interesting and not letting them drag on.

First Transcript

Rhodes (Snakebite Striker Brawler) [this player is doing the transcript]
Ah'lice (Chirurgeon Alchemist for the first session, then reclassed as an Evolutionist Summoner) and Leviathan (the Summoner's favorite Eidolon)
Cal'athes (Wizard(Universalist)) and Darmos (Wizard(Necromancer)) and Woolsworth (humanoid Wooly Mammoth who carries Darmos)
Snake (Ninja)
Montag (Fighter) and Holy Joe (Oracle) [these two are me]
player of Camlost (Bloodrager/Dragon Disciple) as GM (we're doomed)

Each player hears a rapping on the window.
Cal uses Circle of Protection from Evil. He sees the same as the below.
Montag, Snake, Holy Joe, Ah'lice and Rhodes (who is sleeping) are in the guild hall/tavern. Silver ravens come in through the window. They bear letters reading "A mission has been assigned to you of utmost importance. Please respond through the silver raven. You are expected to be to The Shards for two days time." All characters sign for the mission. It is sent by Baron Silversheen.
Rhodes wakes up "refreshed" and slightly sickened after Snake dumps water on him.
As each person leaves the guild hall, they are teleported to Baron Silversheen.
Rhodes vomits on a Phase Spider during his teleport.
As we all appear, we stand around a camp fire, joined by a well-to-do dwarf wizard. Those that know the area, know we're near the entrance to the Forge of Adesh Kha. The Guild worked to take control of this area several years ago.
The dwarf is identified by Cal'athes as the brother of Olly (one of the DM's other characters). His presence here is not a good move politically, as a mass of dwarves from the Mage Hand clan left The Shards and took over this area.
Very solemnly, in dwarven, the Baron welcomes us to this place. He does it again in common. He has need of us in quick supply. He's located a very precious shipment that has been waylaid from a settlement up north. Goblinkin are believed to have captured the shipment.
Far in the north is a mining settlement near the peak of Angrinost. Skillful stone craftsmen have crafted in this area and shipped it on this way.
The chest is approximately 350lbs, and we are not to open it.
If opened, "A lot of work would be lost" and "the box would not be moveable." If the goblins opened it then we just need to return with its location.
Adorned with runes to the Keeper of Secrets Beneath the Mountain.
The goblinkind ransacked and mutilated the bodies of the guards.
The nearest black market would be Garlinholm. Probably ruled by a bunch of monstrous humanoids.
Get the box back to The Shards, or wherever the Baron met us.
No official routes of travel.
We agree to the Baron's offer to teleport us to the lake in the north, half way between Angrinost and Garlinholm.
He growls "That damn woman! MAGEHAMMER! I'll burn her beards!" He gets very aggravated.
His spell fizzles, and penis-like runes begin appearing on his body. He wanders off.
We are surrounded by dwarven guards, but they let us go. They are lead by Mrs. Magehammer. She asks what we talked about, we just walk off.
Darmos crafts up some Shadow Steeds for the team.
We travel to Angrinost.
Day 1 of travel goes smoothly.
Day 2 of travel goes less smoothly. Snow and ice pick up, which makes it hard to see.
Marching order: Rhodes, Montag, Holy Joe, Snake, Cal'athes, Ah'lice
Rhodes lands properly and moves on.
Montag goes to land, and lands in a gaping maw of a "Huge Magical Beast." He successfully avoids landing in the beast, and attempts to strike back as his horse is consumed by the maw. His blow lands.
The maw tries to bite both Montag and his steed. And succeeds. 53 damage (untyped and cold)
Snake (200 ft) can hear the scuffle. He moves closer and turns invsible. (100 ft)
Montag (0 ft) strikes the maw again. A huge gaping wound opens. Holy Joe (100ft) attempts to move closer and falls. He's now levitating off the side of the ravine.
GM: "You really freaked it out!"
The maw attempts to blast Montag with a cone of cold (49 cold)
Ah'lice (400 ft) moves closer (200 ft).
Rhodes (-100 ft) moves back (0 ft) and flanks the maw with Montag. A good kick injures the maw.
Cal (300 ft) tries to disintegrate the maw and succeeds. It turns to a giant mass of dust.
Cal does "Locate Object: Gold Coin." He finds a bunch of frozen poop.
Rhodes thinks there is about 1 gold coin per 50 pounds of poop.
Snake uses his flaming sword to find a single gold coin.
Ah'lice blows up a bunch of poop. Shitstorm.
Cal gathers up a big pile of poop with Unseen Servants and contracts an Earth Elemental to walk through the poop and gather the valuables.
Montag INSTEAD goes and explores a crack that goes into a larger cave. He sees glints of shiny things.
Montag ropes Ah'lice into going into cave. (And Ben is full of bad puns)
Montag also ropes Snake into going into the cave.
Ah'lice and Snake both see a river through the cave. They go near the end of the cave and find some kind of carved archway that travels deeper into the mountain.
Rhodes comes in also, using his Gem of Brightness. Some giant thing shifts, like metal on metal, echoing through the archway.
Snake and Ah'lice move in through the archway. Around a corner they spot a giant mountain of gold. Ah'lice nods her head and grins evilly.
Snake turns back to the room, and clouds have filled in around the gold.
Cal'athes sends a message to Snake and Ah'lice. They inform him of the gold and fog. Holy Joe mentions elemental cold in the area.
Rhodes hears none of this until the elemental cold.
Snake stealths his way into the room and attempts to gather some gold from the piles. Suddenly he is very afraid. And then he's not. He sees some frozen chewed up carcasses. He gathers several gold coins into a sack.
An old white dragon falls on Snake from the ceiling. He is pinned.
Snake fails to free himself.
Montag and Holy Joe hear a roar and "Help." He goes fast.
Cal'athes moves forward and casts haste. Ah'lice and Rhodes get it too.
The dragon injures Snake a whole bunch. Ouch. 99 damage.
Ah'lice throws bombs at the dragon. Firey firey goodness.
Rhodes uses his gem to catch up with the party.

The game ends with the party in the archway, Snake no where to be seen.

Second Transcript

Snake is turning invisible rather than getting stomped on again.
The ice fog covers the room. It sucks. (Half speed, no 5ft step, magical damage, creatures more than 5ft away have Total Concealment)
While invisible, Snake wanders...
Cal'athes uses his telekinetic ring to throw a bunch of alchemist fire. He catches Snake and Ah'lice with the fire instead. Ouch.
Cal'athes starts blinking too.
Montag delays to strike the dragon.
The dragon appears, and Montag strikes at the dragon and misses.
Ah'lice summons Leviathan. Leviathan delays till he sees the dragon.
Rhodes "secures an escape route" at the end of the hallway.
DM: "Dragon big, hole small..."
Snake finds another path without the fog.
Montag delays till he sees the dragon again. Holy Joe backs up and starts healing himself.
Cal walks/blinks into the dragon's hoard room. The dragon chomps on Cal, and burns the roof of his mouth (Cal has Fire Shield on). Cal gets chomped anyway.
Cal then throws a fireball, and his ring throws a flurry of alchemist fire. Fiery fiery goodness.
*Dragon takes its turn... we see nothing*
Ah'lice manages to find her way out into the hallway again.
Rhodes sees what everyone is doing, and continues to hold down the escape route.
Snake heals himself and then moves quickly out of whatever tunnels he's found, "towards the light."
Holy Joe attempts again to dispel the mist and succeeds. He backs up to where Rhodes is.
Montag preps to attack the dragon again.
Cal orders his ring to throw acid at the dragon and casts Greater False Life on himself. He moves into the room.
The fog returns, but it doesn't seem painful this time.
Ah'lice moves to Montag.
Rhodes continues to hold down the escape route.
Snake heals again, and moves down the hallway. He Ghost Steps through
Montag can't locate the dragon. Nor Snake. But he did find Cal. Rhodes is worried.
Holy Joe continues to heal himself. Or tries to, because Rhodes interrupts him.
"Hey, whatcha doing? Hey, hey..."
"Trying to heal myself..."
Cal's ring sensing a square, but can't reach. Cal decides to cast Summon Monster VI.
Snake sees the ice he walked through open up like a door. As he clings to the side of... something, the dragon comes flying out and drops is invisibility. He pees himself a little. The dragon begins casting a thing, and snow and ice pile through the door it opened.
Ah'lice and Leviathan begin making a retreat.
Rhodes begins looking down the hallway for stuff... Still nothing.
Snake runs/steps back into the cave and attempts to rejoin the group. Starts shouting about casting dragons and GTFOing.
Montag hears parts of Snake's speech. Holy Joe heals himself.
Cal drops some bags and summons an earth elemental. He orders it to gather treasure and take it to the entrance of the cave.
Ah'lice ties a rope to Leviathan, and starts to secure another rope to leave.
Rhodes goes to help Ah'lice.
Snake finds some magical goodies in the room. (+2 longsword, Masterwork daggers, +2 flaming longbow, light steel shield (abjuration aura) shaped like a white drake's head)
Cal'athes continues gathering things. Rhodes and Ah'lice secure the escape route. Snake and Montag gather a couple items, and join with the retreaters.
Woolsworth (w/ Darmos) runs away. The dragon sees his retreat and drops down on him.
Woolsworth attempts to stamp the dragon. He misses.
Darmos decides to teleport away. Bloof, gone.
We climb up the ropes to discover that we've been iced in. Rhodes wants to try punching his way through. He kinda succeeds.
Holy Joe heals Snake.
As the rest of the group discusses stuff, Cal'athes doesn't see Woolsworth but does see the dragon.
Cal'athes teleports us as far as we can go towards a mountain peak.

We end with a literal cliffhanger as we all manage to hang on to things AT THE PEAK OF A MOUNTAIN. THE LITERAL TOP.

Third Transcript

Resume play at the top of the mountain. We're still hanging around.
Montag is floating, Holy Joe is hanging off of Montag.
Snake has slid down 9 feet
Cal has Ward of Winter, so he doesn't slip or slide.
Ah'lice was holding onto Leviathan, so he's just a little distance away (18 feet).
Rhodes slides 99 feet down the mountain.
Cal sets up platform for people to hang on to.
Cal thinks Darmos has teleported to the Half-Elf sanctuary.
We all slowly make our way down...
Cal's ring saves people as they fall.
Ah'lice and Leviathan save Rhodes as he falls.
Everyone else makes it down successfully, but our activities have drawn attentions.
Trolls prepare to attack us.
Ah'lice and Rhodes spot 10 of them. Most of them are situated in trees, others not as much. They seem about 40 feet away from us.
Holy Joe calls for parley on the grounds of us being awesome. A troll archer decides to listen.
A troll with a headdress of half-skulls hops down. We offer that we killed the worm. They are not appreciative.
The "chieftain" appears to have a magical axe and cloak. He asks for gold and weapons.
Montag looks at Holy Joe. Holy Joe looks like he doesn't know what to say. Montag quickdraws his crossbow and shoots the troll chieftain.
The Trolls open fire. Cal is struck. Rhodes is struck. Ah'lice is struck. Cal is struck, but unharmed. Rhodes is shot at, and dodges. Ah'lice is shot at, but missed. Holy Joe is shot at, but missed. Holy Joe is struck.
Everyone notices that the arrows are covered in disgusting feces, ichor, etc.
The Chieftain attacks Montag, but can't seem to pin him down.
Snake approaches and sneak attacks the Chieftain. Stabby stabby.
Leviathan approaches and attacks the Chieftain. A flurry of teeth later...
Rhodes approaches and punches the Chieftain dead. The others flee.
Snake finds a shield. Rhodes knows it's a +1 shield and more magical. Holy Joe thinks this is a +1 Shield of the Martyr. When you drop to fatal, you're immediately healed as if Cure Moderate Wounds(2d8+4). It also has a Elemental Resistance 5.
People are scryed on. We move west and set up a rope trick and hop in.
Holy Joe speak-with-deads the Chieftain. No progress.
We rest in the rope trick. We think Darmos scrys on us.
Shenanigans at the Half-Elf town. Darmos fails his teleport and lands 10 miles away. He begins unloading their magic mansion.
We wander off, looking for Darmos.
Cal succeeds at teleporting to Darmos. They begin reloading the mansion.
We gather up, summon steeds, and travel again.

[We decided to leave the mountains and travel in the plains for a while. We weren't sure of the geography so we looked for NPCs who could direct us.]

The party finds a farm, where we talk with the farm wife. She serves us an awesome lamb stew. She instructs us that there's dwarven caravans that travel near the river, but there hasn't been one recently. They trade well, and pay a lot for the aid they can receive. Other than that, they're secretive. Her son relays that a caravan headed north from their place 2 months ago.
Ah'lice attempts to do some tracking, and discovers a hidden trail crafted within the last year.
We follow the tracks around the north river and end.

Fourth Transcript

Game ruling on Extra-player characters (Holy Joe, Darmos, and Cal'athes's sentient ring): They are unavailable during combat. For this GM.

Rhodes surveys the area. There's a lot of debris, not many signs of use. Overall, not a positive path for a caravan.
Montag happens to see a flet (tree stand) in a tree and sends Snake to investigate.
Snake investigates and sees a fully clothed, but dead and skeletal catfolk.
As Snake attempts to remove the body, a series of dart traps trigger and fly past him. He manages to get the body down from the flet.
Holy Joe speaks with the dead. We decide to bury the catfolk.
We get the impression, after seeing more flets, that the dead catfolk were intentionally left up there.
As we come to the end of the path, we come out of the mountain range. Only one mountain lies in front of us, towering high above the others.
We discuss what the actual goal of our party is. We decide to again head out for the scene of the crime, positing that if we get there we can possibly gather some clues. We follow the river trail to where we believe is Angrinost.
As we travel, we nearly miss the camp. It's a hut (well, more like a lean-to against the mountain) and three tents (also buckled against the mountain). The cold and wind tear around us, while three dwarves gather around a fire in front of one of the tents. The dwarves hail us.
We trade pleasantries. We say we're adventurers, and they look at us funny when we mention that we're looking for magical rocks.
We attempt to prove we're from Baron Silversheen by producing one of the letters we received from him. They ask us inside.
Inside the lean-to, we find that the area has been well tunneled. A long hall with stairs at the end. A single door stands on the outer wall as the only thing worked in the hall.
The tunnel is built into a crystalline structure flowing deeper into the mountain. Spellcraft reveals the walls are made of a magical granite that seems to absorb magic.
We confirm that they work for Silversheen.
They know about the runic box.
They didn't know about the murders, which Rhodes now wonders if they happened at all.
We are supplied a personal item for the scrying.
We talk about the case. We don't learn much directly, except that they don't know much.
We follow the greybeard down into the mine. He shows us giant stone dwarves, carved out of the walls of the crystal.
The crystalline structure leads itself to being crafted easily and of high quality, while the crystal also leads itself to easy enchantment.

[We also learn that the chest we want happens to contain a number of these huge statues.]

We discuss trouble they've had lately. Apparently they had a Yeti get in and chase down the craftsman.
The scrying fails.
We sleep in the camp's lobby, Rhodes sleeping the whole night while the others split the night.
As we leave in the morning, Cal leaves them a giant fruit sculpture... Because he can.
We find the trail they probably took, and the pitons where they anchored the cart. As the caravan routes around, we get to what looks like the last place they could have been but there are no signs... Everything just ends.
Rhodes disbelieves and fails, but eventually everyone makes it through a giant wall of illusion. A female cries out, while several orcs spit roast her.
Snake sneaks up and stabs an orc. Everyone freaks out and they drop the girl into the fire.
Rhodes: "That's hot..."
Everyone else: "Boooooooo..."
Cal sends forth his dogs (summoned hounds) to save the female. Cal moves forward and casts Charm Monster. The orc seems unaffected. Cal realizes there's another illusion on everything. He notifies the group and we all fix our perceptions.
Rhodes closes the distance and punches an Orc.
The orc responds, and swings at Rhodes several times. And misses several times.
Another orc approaches Snake and takes several stabs at him. Several injuries.
Montag approaches the group and engages. An orc is injured.
An orc approaches Rhodes and stabs him.
An orc approaches Montag and gets a hit in.
Someone fires off a fireball and smokes a whole group! (62 damage to 8 targets)
An orc charges Cal and takes a good chunk out of him!
Rhodes puts the hurt on one of the orcs. "All his ribs are broken."
Cal withdraws Hold Monster's the Orc.
Snake flanked an orc with Montag and dealt considerable damage.
From within the tent, a black light pierces out towards Montag. His body is racked with darkness but he remains.
Cal charges through everything and into the tent, revealing a familiar drow priestess.
Rhodes: "Can I use 'detect asshole?' "
They all move around a little, placing Montag and Rhodes together.
The previously weakened orc dies in front of Snake.
Rhodes is murdered by an orc. (-37) In front of the priestess that killed him last time. (Erinyes)
The orc infront of Cal fails to do anything and is frozen again.
Cal moves up quickly and uses a Limited Wish to use Breath of Life on Rhodes. Rhodes is not dead, but not conscious. (-3)
Snake approaches and tries to stab an orc. Unsuccessful.
Erinyes reaches out and touches Montag and tries to Harm him... Montag's soul is blasted out of his body. (-133)
Orcs attack Snake.
Cal: "How obviously is Montag now paste?"
GM: "He's an object now."
Cal tries to disintegrate Erinyes. She resists.
Snake attacks the injured orc again.
Holy Joe runs up and tries to fear the enemies. They resist.
Orcs attack Cal and Snake.
Cal bombards Erinyes with a flurry of acid bombs.
Snake attacks an orc, and reduces it to a dying frenzy.
Erinyes walks off into the shadows and leaves the board... A floating disk holding a chest floats away behind her.
An orc furies at Cal. Another orc finally drops.
Holy Joe attempts to hold the other moving orc. It resists.
Holy Joe kills the helpless orc, while the other orc attempts to flee. Cal throws a longarmed Fireball and Snake tracks him down.
Holy Joe determines that Montag is paste, and Rhodes is alive.
Holy Joe heals Rhodes.
Snake heals up the barbecued lady. It is revealed that her eyes had been gouged out and significant dark magic applied to her being.

One hundred stone giants explode out from the tent, and blanket the area.
Later, the barbecued lady wakes. She's an oracle from a nearby unknown group. She offers unknown magical aid. We wrap up next week.

Fifth Transcript


Rhodes rides back to the camp and informs them of the circumstances.
The dwarven craftswoman accosts Rhodes, and the dwarven crew heads back to the battlesite.
The dwarven craftswoman begins spreading blood on a couple of the golems, and they come to life to protect the battlesite while she begins working on shrinking the golems.
The injured elven oracle offers each player in turn a potion that will grant a wish if imbibed after describing the wish. Montag is dead, so he doesn't get one, and Ah'lice opts to decline hers. Holy Joe wishes to be a Red Dragon, Rhodes wishes for his former crew to rest in peace, Cal'athes wished for the ability to create a tool to help advance the half-elf cause, Darmos wishes for demons to leave the souls of his townsfolk alone, Snake wished for his sister to be living.
All those that accepted the wish are branded with a seven pointed spiral.
Holy Joe and Rhodes travel to the temple of Saranrae and get Montag revived.
Baron decides to pay us half of the original reward, but does pay for Montag's resurrection.
Holy Joe turns into a red dragon and flies off- "Fuck you guys I'm out."


  1. I will try to read through these, but the bullet point about teamwork at the start made me think. Has there ever been a mechanic that covers speaking dynamics, either keeping tempo between characters having a discussion (go charisma!) or meting out PC communication in combat situations?

    I mean, I'd lop off an arm for players who could cooperate beyond collectively ignoring the one player who wants to make everything a committee meeting. But at the same time moderating in-character discussion would be helpful.

    1. In combat, I've only ever seen GM whim- can the PC actually talk while doing whatever they're doing, how many words can they get out loudly/clearly enough in however many seconds a combat round lasts (sometimes actually timing the player if it's funny or important). Strictness seems to scale with how much table talk the GM allows from off-turn players. This seems to work okay for combat since any complex inter-PC information really, really ought to be hashed out beforehand.

      Out of combat, that's mostly a GM/player skill, but mechanics do exist (sort of). I'll need to organize my thoughts and come back to this.

      The transcripts are barely edited and therefore a bit dry--from here on, I'm going to start off each batch the way I did this one, with a summary/expansion of the bits most interesting to me. Let me know if there's any kind of thing you'd want called out and added to the tl;dr.