Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Carrion Crown: Through the Shudderwood to Ascanor Lodge Part 1

My Carrion Crown PFRPG AP resumed from its holiday hiatus to kick off book three, 'Broken Moon', and so far the party did quite well with the mystery at hand. So much so they could have even broken the module and changed the course of the story itself. Fear not, its not a 'divide by zero' level error where the entire cosmos implodes and Michael Bay wins a 'Best Director' Oscar. But it *can* cause a ripple effect through the remaining books. In a good way for the players as well. I bet they are surprised as hell to read that! Wether or not that module breaking even occurs is dependant on their actions next game on Feburary 4th.

The Players

- Thredorik Trapspringer (male dwarven rogue 7 / uncouth / peeping tom)
Jess  -  Nisha  (female tiefling fighter(weapon master kit) 7 / combat monster....literally / professed her serious 'like' to Zuri)
Charles - Zuri (male aasimar wizard 7 / varisian wanderer/ harrow reader / admitted his 'like' to Nisha and that she scares him)
Charles - Dragos ( Zuri's raven familiar / smart ass / found out about gold leaf pastries in Caliphas/ LOVES pastries and shinies)
Me - Julian Du Marc ( male human cleric of Pharasma 7 / NPC/PC / stoic / has a secret)
Me again - DM (DM / rules dude / story mover-along-er / still bribed by pie or hot cocoa/ bribes of hot cocoa and cookies were offered by Jess and Charles........not Matt......I'll remember that)

We left off with our adventurers reaching the forgotten hunting trail through the Shudderwood that Count Caromarc suggested they travel on to catch up to the agents of the Whispering Way cult. The Shudderwood is a region of dense, tall pine trees that allow little sunlight through. Dead pine needles cover the ground and not much grows here. Its also a home to a few werewolf packs that are embroiled in a power struggle for leadership in the wood. But we'll touch on that later.

The first day of travel through the wood was uneventful except that by 5pm it was pitch black and soundless. We set up camp and took watch. Julian volunteered for first watch. Around midnight Julian noticed something moving up in the trees above the campsite. I rolled really REALLY high on his perception check and the beasties rolled really REALLY poorly on stealth. Julian lightly woke up Thredorik, Nisha and Zuri to let them know of this. With their dark vision and a decent roll by Thredorik on a knowledge check they knew they were dealing with four ettercaps. The ettercaps leaped down from the trees and surrounded the ready adventurers. Combat ensued. Ettercaps died left and right with one actually escaping into the woods.

Quickly we chased it down and a 'magic missile' and 'acid splash' later and the monster went down....in front of a partially collapsed tower in a clearing in the woods. Suspecting that this was its lair we kept our guard up. Zuri and Thredorik started to hear a soft song being sung within the tower and wanted to investigate. They made a perception check to hear the song and failed the will save to not be compelled to follow the music. And off into the tower they go! Julian and Nisha following close by and looking worried. As soon as Zuri stepped through the collapsed wall into the tower the music stopped and he and Thredorik both snapped out of the haze. Zuri noticed the webbing through out the interior and the six large cocoons hanging from the ceiling. Thredorik noticed they were covered in thin strands of webbing and the large hole in the ground about twenty feet up. And then the ground shook and a large monstrous human female/spider/maggot hybrid erupted out of the hole with a keening screech and began to assault the party.

Combat ensues. Thredorik makes a 'knowledge: dungeoneering' check and realizes its a Web Weaver. An abomination that is revered by ettercaps as almost a goddess. And boy was she pissed off and hungry looking too! She spits a sticky web stream at Zuri snagging him and dragging him towards her. Nisha charges in to engage and instead receives an AOO that ends up paralyzing her via the fluids on the beasts claws. Thredorik tumbles in to assist by flanking, Julian hangs back to healing burst as needed. Zuri on his turn casts 'burning hands' and the flames burn the beast while burning away the webbing he is stuck to. Nisha comes around and starts hacking into the beast with Thredorik's help. The Weaver then grabs Zuri and drops him into her nest in the ground where he lands in a wet and gooey mass. Its probably poo.

Eventually the party gets the upper hand from the physical assault on the surface and the 'lightling bolt' Zuri cast from underneath. They search the lair, find some loot and a corpse of a noble with a blood stained letter with wax seal on it. We decided to not open it as it looks similar to the writ we received from Count Caromarc for entrance into the only habitable area of the Shudderwood, the Ascanor Lodge. A large hunting lodge for the wealthy of Ustalav. Julian insists to give the nobleman a proper burial before turning to sleep at camp.

The next three days go by with out incident. On the fourth day of travel we come across a gristly sight in the wood. A human man strung up in a tree by his wrists, his feet tied down to stakes in the ground. He also has some kind of purple flowers stuffed into his mouth and a solid silver hunting knife driven into his chest. Thredorik goes to investigate and before he gets to the body he notices a trip wire hidden in the pine needles. This trap he found will release a barrage of crossbow bolts from crossbows mounted in the trees directly in front of the body. He easily disables the trap and can reset it without problems. We check out the body and nothing seems wrong with him except that he's dead with a silver hunting knife plunged into his heart. We also can't identify the flowers in his mouth. Julian takes a few petals to get identified later. We decided that this display was a warning of some kind and decided to leave it be. Before we go Zuri, while checking out the crossbow bolts, sees some kind of alchemical salve spread on the tips but the effect has expired so he can't identify what it is. We move on and after a few more hours we set camp for the night.

The next day we travel for about an hour before the trail reaches a main road that leads us to the gates of the lodge. The lodge was only minutes from where we reached the main road. The woods were so dense that we couldn't see the lodge from where we were camping the night before. We ride up to the main gates, the only entrance to the grounds as a ten foot wall surrounds the grounds and its numerous buildings within. Ascanor Lodge is the size of many mansions combined together and has numerous out buildings all of which are done in a rustic log cabin look. A very expensive log cabin for very wealthy nobles and former royals. At the gates six guards stop us and tell us to leave as we don't look like we belong here (read: poor and dirty commoners). We produce Count Caromarc's writ for access and they take it to the lodge's porter to verify. This is where things get interesting.

But we'll get to that in part two. The lodge is a large scale mystery with numerous named NPC's and alot of writing needs to be done to do it justice. I also need more space to add some anecdotes about how I was screwing up while running this part and player reactions to events that unfolded.