Iron Gods: Fires of Creation
Episode 3: Mischief and Monsters
Last Time on Iron Gods
The party set out to delve the caverns beneath the town, but ran into a fierce and unexpected monstrous foe. They retreated to the Foundry, where they prepare to once again brave the deeps…
This is a new section I'm going to include at the beginning of each chapter; it includes current hp values and whatever has changed in preparation since the last session. I realized this was necessary because nowhere noted in these posts did I list what veils Valki had woven. I will only state hp and what is different from what's listed on their PDF character sheet.
11 Rova 4714 AR
After retreating from the frog-monster with the glowing eyes, the party returned to the Foundry to recuperate and prepare to return once more.
Each PC regains the use of their daily abilities, and regains 1 HP.
The PCs return to the weeping pond, and once inside wait on the shore for the effects of any of their sicknesses to wear off. Valki carries her everburning torch, while Selka casts light on her spear.
The PCs argue for a moment about whether to continue through the way they had originally gone, or to try and confront the creature they fought the previous day.
Will the PCs continue the way they went previously? (Unlikely)
Roll: 10-9 yes
Barek argues that the creature is already wounded; it would be safer to press on the way they saw it coming, since they might risk being surprised by it going another way.
A dark cavern opens up here, its twenty-foot high ceiling thick with stalactites. A rocky shore overlooks a placid pool and stream, fed by a trickle of water leaking from a narrow fissure to the north. A small garden of toadstools and dark mold grows along the banks. As the PCs splash onto the shore, the froglike creature from the day before rises from the pool.
Valki pounces on her chance to attack the creature as it rises from the pool. Her nanites flare into a pale blue spear as she it at the blindheim.
Attack: 6 vs 13 miss
Valki's haste to attack causes her shot to go wide; the cerulean lance sizzles into the water beside the creature.
Selka nearly collapses as visions flood her mind; she sees a half-orc pleading for her life amid a forest of stalagmites as a blade glints in the cavern's scant light. Selka is staggered until the beginning of her next turn
As her mind clears, Selka invokes the Black Horse's traditional pre-hunt benediction. Selka casts bless.
Barek adjusts his grip on his sword and steps up to the creature, hoping to kill it before it can blind them all again. He yells and swings the sword with all his might. Barek spends one round of rage, then uses primal wrath.
Attack: 16 vs 13 hit
Damage: 18 (dead)
The blindheim's eyes flash brightly for only a moment, burning holes in Barek's vision for a few seconds, but when his vision clears he sees the frog-creature laying in the pool, its head bobbing in the acrid water. Barek breathes a sigh of relief.
Barek rests and and cleans his blade, meditating as the others search the cavern. In moments like this he thinks on his ancestors; while his sister is the shaman, all Black Horses feel a strong connection to their forebears.
Valki, meanwhile, notices a corpse in the pool with the blindheim's now-headless body. Between water damage and the predation of the blindheim it's unidentifiable, but it still has an intact poush hanging from its hip.
Treasure: Inside the pouch is a silver amulet bearing the symbol of Zyphus, god of accidental deaths - a pick made from human bones. The amulet is worth 25 gp. The pouch also contains 42 gp and two potions of cure light wounds. Valki gives a potion to each of the Kellid siblings, and puts the remaining valuables in her pack.
The southwest of the cave has a branching passageway; the PCs must decide which to follow.
Will the PCs go right down this passage? (Even)
Roll: 12-1 exceptional yes
Selka immediately turns right down the passage, not even giving the other passage a moment's consideration. The others rush to follow her, and find her standing over the body of a young half-orc woman. Valki recognizes her as Parda Garr, a popular brawler in Torch. She'd fallen in with some thugs, and evidently met her end in these caverns. Selka suggests that on their way out they return Parda's body to the town. The rest agree; the end of this passage lets out on a short ledge over the cavern's entrance, and they gently lower her down here. Afterwards, the party returns to the branch to continue.
As the party approaches the next cavern, a skulk named Luepel - a humanoid creature with chameleon skin - notices their approach. She attempts to slink away unnoticed to alert the rest of her tribe.
Stealth Check: 24
None of the PCs notice her departure.
A collection of crates, boxes, rubble, and scavenged metal lies heaped in the northwest section of this damp cave. Several strange chalk drawings, of twisted, spiny plants, a strange three-legged creature, and emaciated four-armed humanoids mark the walls.
The party recognizes the three-legged creature as a robot, like the one that malfunctioned at the foundry, but the rest are a mystery to them. Durand digs through the refuse - he recognizes much of it is technological in nature - but unfortunately it all appears to be scrap.
There are two passages - one to the Southeast and one to the Southwest.
Will the PCs go Southwest? (Even)
Roll: 5-7 no
The ceiling of this vast chamber rises nearly thirty feet overhead. A five-foot-wide ledge runs along the western wall, sloping down to the cave floor ten feet below. Four ramshackle huts made of what what appear to be strips of metal, hides, and some sort of fibrous plant matter sit in the cave, while to the south yawns a dark pit. Across the cave is a huge, smooth wall of dark gray metal, scorched and pitted as if from some great fire but otherwise solid-looking.
As the party enters the cavern, they hear someone begin to speak, then they see her - a slight, nearly-nude, gray-skinned woman stands in the middle of the cavern, where before there appeared to be no-one.
"You are trespassing! This is our cavern! But you are not the first to come this way, and we have had our fill of fighting. Select two of your party to speak with our chieftain. Perhaps we can come to an accord."
Two other skulks - Brath and Yadriss - are hiding along the ledge, at opposite ends.
Stealth Checks: Brath 33, Yadriss 21
Perception Checks: Barek 6, Durand 6, Selka 24, Valki 17
Selka can see Yadriss - just barely within her visual range. Brath is extremely well-hidden, and none of the rest of the party is any the wiser.
Selka tells the others she can see one other of these creatures, but she has no idea how many more there are. She suggests that she and Barek go ahead to speak with the chieftain. Durand is skeptical and Barek's body language indicates he's ready for a fight, but Selka points out that if these creatures had wanted to sneak attack them they could have already. The others reluctantly agree.
The skulk who spoke introduces herself as Leupel, then leads the Kellid siblings through a passage to the North. It leads to a cramped cave, where metal junk covers nearly every inch of the ground. The precarious pile rises to a heaplike hut in the corner of the cave. As they arrive, another gray-skinned woman emerges from the hut. She's covered in scabbards for knives of all sizes, and Leupel introduces her as Sef.
"I will make you overworlders an offer. You will clear the caverns to the north of gremlins. They have been a nuissance to my tribe ever since we came up from the darklands. In exchange I will grant you passage through these caverns, and a reward of some items I have scavenged from behind the metal wall."
Angry at the Skulk's commanding tone, Barek snarls, but before he can say something rash Selka puts a calming hand on his arm.
"We've found a few dead overworlders that we have reason to believe you killed. Why can we trust you?"
"Yes, we killed the trespassers. We had an… arrangement with a band of overworlders. The first to come through here."
"The halflings? We found them dead near the entrance to the cave."
"No, not halflings. A group of humans, orcs, and ratfolk, lead by a woman with purple hair, came through over two weeks ago. They agreed to pay us to guard these caverns, which we were already doing. Then they left through the Northern caverns. I haven't seen them since. This arrangement hasn't exactly worked in our favor recently, shall we say."
"Very well. You say you've been behind the metal wall. What lies there?"
"There are five chambers made of metal. Beyond lays a strange desert under a metal sky."
"Yes, as if it were plucked straight from Garund and set beneath the town. We avoid that place, though. It's haunted by four-armed skeletons; they can keep their desert."
"That is… strange, to say the least. But yes, we will accept your offer."
"Very well. Here is your payment. Remove the gremlins quickly so you can be on your way."
Sef hands Selka a pouch. Inside are 49 silverdisks and five strange cards made of a flexible smooth material. Each bears a brown stripe.
"I don't know what these are, overworlder. But when the purple-haired one came through, she asked if we had anything like these. They must be valuable somehow."
Selka thanks Sef, then waits for Leupel to lead her and Barek away.
On joining with the rest of the party, the other skulks come out of hiding, causing Durand to jump in the case of Brath. They allow the party to meet in the central cavern. Selka repeats what Sef told her. Valki says she recognizes the purple-haired woman - she saw her, and avoided getting in her way because she was an android too.
The party decides to proceed to the gremlin caves. Leupel leads them to a passage near the metal wall and helps them to climb a ledge there, then leaves the party to their business.
The party has a marching order; Barek, Valki, Selka, Durand.
This area of the cavern has a very low ceiling - only 5 feet in most places, so everyone in the party must crouch. The passage branches to the southwest and to the north.
Will the party head North? (Even)
Roll: 1-7 no
As the party heads into the room they risk triggering a tripwire;
Barek: 55% no trigger
Valki: 50% triggers
As Valki crosses into the cavern, she feels her foot catch on something. A jagged spike of metal attached to a hidden metal pole springs at her!
Attack: 16 vs 16 hit
Damage: 8 (-1/8)
The spike strikes a nanite-powered field around her, but it manages to break through her defenses and stab her deep in her gut!
While the rest of the party reacts in surprise, Valki must make a Constitution check;
Constitution Check: 7 vs 10
Damage: 1 (-2/8)
Barek pours a potion of cure light wounds down Valki's throat;
Healing: 3 HP (1/8)
Selka then casts cure light wounds on Valki until satisfied;
Healing: 2 HP (3/8)
Healing: 7 HP (8/8)
After catching her breath, Valki suggests they check the chambers more carefully before entering more.
This chamber has only one exit, a narrow ledge overlooking the passage into Sef's chamber. It curves back again; one leads into a room and the other leads further on.
The PCs decide to look into the room, first searching the passageway for traps;
Valki doesn't see any traps, but suggests Barek go in first just in case.
There is a gremlin in this chamber; it is attempting to hide from the party.
Stealth: 20 none of the PCs notice it.
A small creature like a scaly fanged monkey jumps out of the shadows at Barek!
Attack: 23 vs 14
Damage: 4 (6 temporary hit points)
The small, rusty metal of the gremlin's knife skitters across the nanite shield Valki has given Barek! The gremlin then steps aside and, almost as if it went around a corner, it's gone.
Barek tries to pursue, only to find that the gremlin seemingly stepped into the wall.
The party decides to continue their search.
A passageway leads to the Northeast, then it branches to the right and left.
Will the party go right? (Even)
Roll: 2-2 no, random event
Random Event: Bond, Barek and Durand.
While Valki checks the passageway ahead for tripwires, Barek and Durand speak. Durand compares the passages to Alkenstari dwarven mines; cramped but comfortable for him, gremlins notwithstanding. Barek isn't so forgiving. He complains that it's too close, not like the plains his people are used to.
Valki checks for traps;
Sure enough, she finds another tripwire. Durand carefully steps over the wire then proceeds to attempt to disengage the trap;
Disable Device Check: 7 (natural 1)
In his haste to disengage it, Durand accidentally trips the wire;
Attack: 13 vs 16
Luckily, Durand was able to sidestep the blade just in time.
Will the party head back to the last split? (even)
Roll: 9-4 yes
Valki now checks this passageway for traps;
Valki doesn't see any traps again. Cautiously they proceed
There is a gremlin in this chamber; it is attempting to hide from the party.
As the PCs are now alert to possible sneak attacks, they are allowed active Perception checks.
Barek and Valki are surprised; the gremlin thinks it's clever, though, and attacks indiscriminately, going for Selka. She deftly sidesteps it, though. She can't bring her spear to bear on the creature, though, and has a flash of foresight; a larger creature like this one, sharpening a piece of metal as it smiles to itself atop a pile of junk. When she hesitates because of the vision, the gremlin before her disappears.
This room lets out onto a ledge overlooking a cavern filled with refuse. At the center of the pile, just as Selka foresaw, is a particularly large gremlin charpening a blade of jagged metal. When it notices the PCs, it hisses and jumps to the ready.
Barek activates stance of aggression then attempts to deftly clamber down the ledge;
Climb Check: 14
His rapid descent is thankfully controlled, and he ends right beside the creature, roaring as his sword sings through the air. Barek uses one round of rage.
Attack: 16 vs 17 miss
The attacks barek with a flurry of slashes with its knife and an attempt to bite his hand;
Attack (knife): 9 vs 16 natural 1, miss
Attack (bite): 14 vs 16 miss
Selka's mind flashes a series of images - faint light and smoke, the low murmer of people talking as music plays, the clink and flash of silverdisks trading hands and eyes watching her. Just as soon as it starts she's back in the cave, and as she collects her senses she drops her spear and draws her bow.
Durand dashes past Valki and Selka, aiming his musket at the sinister fey creature. He spends a moment longer than normal lining up the shot to avoid hitting Barek. Durand uses eye of the needle, then slipstream strike.
Attack: 8 vs 22
The shot goes wide, barely even denting the metal wall beyond the gremlin.
Valki carefully climbs down the ledge beside her.
Climb Check: 11
Barek sidesteps, then puts all his might into one giant swing. He uses another round of rage, then primal wrath.
Attack: 17 vs 22
The gremlin continues to claw at Barek.
Attack (knife): 21 vs 16 hit
Attack (bite): 20 vs 16 hit
Damage: 2 (4 temporary hit points)
Selka steps around the corner, holding back her spells. She delays.
Durand curses his luck and looks for a better angle. He uses his maneuver recovery, gaining back both eye of the needle and slipstream strike. He also enters the stance of piercing rays.
Valki steps behind the gremlin, flanking it with barek, and tries to skewer it on her lance of light.
Attack: 21 vs 22
Her attack only barely misses the vicious creature.
Barek yells a traditional Black Horse hunting call, and the rest of the party is strangely heartened. Then he lays into the gremlin with abandon. He uses another round of rage and the encouraging roar maneuver.
Attack: 12 vs 22 miss
This was merely a possible future Selka foresaw; with the help of her ancestors, she attempted to nudge fate in a different direction. She uses misfortune as an immediate action to force a reroll.
Attack: 28 vs 22 hit
Damage: 17, -5 for DR dead
Barek runs the gremlin through - his roar and the help from Valki were enough to confuse it into running into his blade
The party checks the door in the gray metal wall, but it doesn't want to budge; it seems locked or blocked from the inside, but even Barek's best attempts at forcing it open failed. Meanwhile, the remaining PCs finish checking the warren, but the traps ar easily avoided and further gremlins seem to have fled following this one's death.
The party brings the gremlin to Sef, who is quietly impressed. The party returns to Torch with the body of Parda in tow, and they get some help to bring it to the temple of Brigh. As they leave, a nervous young courier gives them a note. Addressed from Garmen Ulreth, it's an invitation to visit the Silverdisk Hall, "Torch's illustrious tavern and card room", along with a certificate for 100gp each for gambling at the establishment. Valki has heard of Garmen - he's influential in town due to how many owe him money. For now, though, the party decides to return to the Foundry to rest.
The party gains a level.
I wish the designers of this adventure path had considered making Jazvit the Gremlin more difficult in some way other than making it advanced. Gremlins already have fairly high ACs, and advanced pushed it to 22. At least it only took one hit.
I may be being a little generous with misfortune there at the end, but I'm fine with running it like that.
This was a long "session", and I found several improvements I can make to the characters and their character sheets - Skills section, I'm looking at you! I look forward to getting that squared away.