Monday, December 17, 2012

Conquest of the Bloodsworn Vale: A Rose by Any Other Name, Part 1

After a long hiatus, we got a few hours of Pathfinder in for my home campaign. We should be able to finish this "sub quest" next session.

Spoilers for "Conquest of the Bloodsworn Vale" follow.

The party had hired on with Sir Tolgrith, a knight of King Arabasti of Corvosa tasked with opening an old trade road through a mountain pass to the south. The pass is locally known as The Bloodsworn Vale, since a great battle was fought there, and the local believe that the suffusion of roses which grow in the vale are the result of the excessive bloodshed in that battle.

Sir Tolgrith's first problem was that a work crew had failed to report back in. A scouting party found their camp raided and all of the workers killed, murdered with arrows of a strange design. Disturbingly, all were missing their ears but nothing else. The bandits had not even taken their equipment.

The players set out immediately, braving the woods of the vale in the night, a choice they came to regret. As they passed through a canopied part of the road, the rogue spotted a pair of giant spiders, descending on ropes of silk to attack. The rest of the party was taken by surprise, but the rogue was able to use her new weapon, "Frosty the Longbow" (+1 longbow of frost) to seriously wound one of the spiders as it dropped. The second spider bit the party's leader, poisoning him. Shaking off his surprise, the Fighter lept from his horse and swung "Ulfbrecht, Sword of Cutting" at his foe, critically wounding but not vanquishing the spider. Both spiders continued their assaults, but were unable to wound the now-aware party, who, with a combination of steel (ulfbrecht and slicer) and arcana (wand of magic missiles) finished off the spiders. The Cleric's healing skill eased the fighter's poison while the rogue searched the area for survivors (or more properly, victims who might have some stuff to loot). After climbing up into the tree, the party retrieved a few pouches of coin, last carried by a goblin trading party who had been using the road before the coming of the "longshanks" (that is, Sir Tolgrith and his men). The party decided goblins don't get burials, but moved their dried husks off the road so as not to alarm the workers.

They reached the site of the murders a little after midnight, and after a cursory look around, decided to pitch camp. The wizard set up an alarm spell to aid in the watch, and the party slept to regain some strength.

The next day while the wizard and cleric were doing their morning devotional/studies, the fighter took a closer look at an arrow they had found. Showing an unexpected depth of knowledge relating to bees (critted a Knowledge(Nature) roll), he determined that the arrow was fletched not with normal bee's wax, but with giant bee's wax.The catfolk rogue tried unsuccessfully to find some fresh food, and ultimately settled in with the rest of the party to enjoy the food they had brought with them as they discussed their options.

After breaking camp, they decided to travel down a narrow game trail they had found. After a few hour's walk (they had to lead their horses through the narrow path), they entered into a large clearing with carefully manicured hedges forming concentric circles around some ancient monoliths. Deciding to approach as friends, the party sheathed their weapons and strode up to the pathway leading into the monolith area, and sprung a thorn trap. The wizard and cleric were caught, though the fighter and rogue succeeded in dodging out of the way. At that moment, three smallish fey creatures materialized and began to attack the party. One stood back and used his powers of Suggestion to harass the party while the other two attacked. A brief but violent combat followed, in which the fighter grabbed one sprite by the neck and, still convinced that he could end the encounter peacefully, tried to threaten the other sprites into ceasing their attack. Failing at this, he dispatched the captured sprite and finished off the second nearby sprite. The wizard got to fire off his fancy new lightning bolt wand for the first time, though the supposed leader dove out of the way of the blast, only perishing when the rogue "frostied" him.

Examining the sprites, they found nothing they could use, but discovered the unsettling fact that each sprite was missing an ear.

Moving into the center of the glade, they found an even more disturbing sight - the monoliths were weeping blood. In the center of the monolith circle was a staircase, which the players approached. As they approached, three trees came to life and moved in to attack. The wizard's knowledge of matters arcane, combined with the fact that he had recently fought a Treant allowed him to deduce the truth - these trees were not in fact alive, but were magical constructs. ("Huh, nice work. Still, let's get out of here!") The party decided to make a break for the staircase rather than confront the hulking constructs, and barely made it down (they all rolled higher initiative than the trees). The tree constructs did not pursue them, being essentially automata.

So we leave our heroes in the waiting room of whatever place this is, a set of ornate double doors towards one wall, and a simpler door to the other. It's about brunch time, though exactly who or what is on the menu remains to be seen.