Author Topic: Rappan Athuk 2019  (Read 2250 times)

Doktor Howl

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Rappan Athuk 2019
« on: April 12, 2019, 02:56:28 am »
Okay, it's time for Rappan Athuk again, as there are not nearly enough PC corpses choking up the harbor.  Running two groups, Saturday and Sunday, in the Lost Lands campaign area (Rappan Athuk, Slumbering City of Tsar, and Tomb of Abysthor). 

Medium track, 25 point buy (5 extra points because "Rappan Athuk"), 6 players per group.  One group will be doing tomb of Abysthor and then Tsar, the other group will be doing Rappan Athuk (Classic entrance) after a short lead-in arc.  Write ups will be posted here.

For the Rappan Athuk group, we have
1.  Paladin
2.  Wizard (going into rogue and then arcane trickster)
3.  Cleric (going into Holy Vindicator at 9th level)
4.  Ranger (trap archetype)
5.  Bard  :lulz: 
6.  Samurai

I have not gotten the info back from the other group, which will not actually start for a couple of weeks after the RA group starts.

Bear in mind that this campaign area has an 85% mortality rate. 
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 02:59:14 am »
Campaign History

300 years ago, the empire fell, it's capitol of Tircople in ruins to this very day, its overseas colonies lost.   Its chief gods, Thyr and Muir are almost forgotten, and the former empire is now a collection of bickering and petty successor kingdoms, usually no larger than a day's horse ride from each kingdom's capitol.  The great magics have been forgotten.

How this happened is partly history and partly legend. 

The vile city of Tsar - a den of demon worshipers - had been allowed to grow unchecked, for reasons now lost to time.  When the forces of good finally decided to deal with the followers of the demon prince Orcus, the evil ones had had centuries to prepare.

The imperial forces dispatched by Emperor Graegor were led by the Arch-Wizard Zelkor, the most powerful wizard in history.  He and his lieutenant, the paladin Bishtu broke the field army of the demon worshipers, and routed them back to Tsar, where Zelkor laid siege to them.

After a long siege, the forces of Orcus simply...Vanished.  Tsar suddenly stood empty.  Zelkor was able to divine the fact that they had in fact been transported miles away.  Bishtu was given the empty city to guard, and Zelkor took the majority of the army and pursued the Orcus worshipers along the coast, into the Forest of Hope.

Neither side was ever seen again.

Likewise, something caught Bishtu and his smaller forces, as about the same time as Zelkor entered the forest, the gates of Tsar swung shut of their own accord, trapping Bishtu and his knights in the city.  None ever made it out.  This effectively cut off the trade routes with the Northern half of the empire.  In the South, sea-going barbarians in a seemingly unrelated attack sacked the city of Tircople.  Emperor Graegor fell in his palace, surrounded by the last of his guard. 

The remains of the empire shattered, with each local lord looking only to his own benefit, pressing his or her own claim to what remained of the Southern half of the empire.  Civil wars raged for a century.  The population of the Southern empire was reduced to a third of its size, mostly living in cities such as Bard's Gate, Freegate, Derindin, and Reme, and the smaller towns around them.  Tsar is avoided by everyone, as are the haunted ruins of Tircople.  The Forest of Hope is considered a cursed place, and none but fools venture there.  Civilization has, 300 years after the war, reached its low point. 

Until now.

Recently, King Horatio of Bard's Gate has merged the petty kingdoms of Bard's Gate and Reme though first diplomacy, then marriage.  He seeks to broaden the civilized lands and reclaim some of the treasures of empire.  Both his military and collections of freebooters and adventurers are flocking to his banner...Some for wealth, some for the dream of the old empire returned.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 03:03:43 am »
RA group initial goals:  Recover a small semi-ruined castle that was believed to be of imperial origin.

Twist:  It wasn't an imperial fortress, it was built by the demon worshipers, who have over the last 6 days or so begun moving back in.  The demon worshipers don't know much about the place, either, and the basement has a TON of fun for whomever gets there first.

ToA group initial goals:   Investigate rumors of a lost shrine to Thyr and Muir.

Twist:  The shrines are there, but have been profaned.  Following up leads the party to an ancient cliffside burial site that turns out to be far more than some noble's private plot.  There are signs that the Orcus assholes have been around (*VERY* alarming signs, such as The Font of Bones), but no initial sign of cultists at present.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 03:14:18 am »
Notes:

What neither the cultists nor the PCs know is that there is another cult in the area, this one to the Elder God Tsathogga (Bigass frog demon of horrible death).  They are in the tomb looking for an ancient site of evil (same one the Orcus dudes are looking for).  They also have "scouts" near the fortification the other group is investigating.

The "dead" gods Thyr and Muir were just napping.  They are awake again and really pissed off about the empire falling and new gods moving in.  Granted, they're lawful and good, but so was the old testament god, right?  This can be good or bad for the PCs, depending on their actions ("Sure it's safe to plunder this shrine, those dudes have been dead for 300 years" yuk yuk yuk.)  King Horatio is a secretly a member of the cult of Thyr and wants those shrines restored.  Unfortunately, communications got fouled and the PCs just know they're supposed to look for it.  What they do when they find it may make things interesting.

Numerous adventurers from the Northern part of the old empire have been trying their (non-existent) luck in Tsar and Rappan Athuk, and have stirred some shit up.  In fact, they have set off a "timer" and in 36 months, the bad shit in Tsar wakes up again.

ETA:

Hireling treachery for the Tomb group.

Local boss treachery for the RA group.  Way more subtle.

Both groups are being shadowed by some evil NPC parties (not aligned with the demon cults, just out to grab cash and notoriety from robbing/killing the PCs.)

« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 03:16:33 am by Doktor Howl »
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 03:21:49 am »
BBG for fortress:

Elizer Grim      CR 5
XP 1,600
Male human Disciple of Orcus 5
CE Medium humanoid (human)
Init  +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft; Perception +3
Aura Evil (moderate)

Defense
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 23 (armor +10, Dex +1, Shield +3)
HP 46 (5d8+20)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +7

Offense
Spd 20 ft
Melee +1 heavy mace +8 (1d8+4/x2)
Spells Known/Memorized (concentration +8)
3rd - animate dead (D), cure serious wounds, prayer
2nd - death knell (D), desecrate,  cure moderate wounds, sound burst (DC15)
1st - cause fear (D)(DC 14), cure light wounds, shield of faith, command (DC14), sanctuary (DC14)
0 lvl -  detect magic, read magic, light, mending

Tactics
Before Combat Elizer casts shield of faith and desecrate
During Combat Elizer orders his undead to attack and then casts spells and channels to support them.
Morale Elizer is a fanatic and will fight to the death.

Statistics
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Attack +3; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Toughness, Command Undead, Craft Wondrous Items, Armor (heavy), Weapon Focus (heavy mace), Traits (reactionary, sacred touch)
Skills Knowledge (arcane) +8, Knowledge (religion) +8, Spellcraft +8
   Racial Bonuses
SQ Domain (Death), Orisons, See in Darkness, Undead Lord's Proxy, Favored Class (cleric, 5 HP)
Languages Common
Gear +1 heavy mace, +1 full plate, +1 heavy steel shield, belt of giant strength +2, folding boat, 800 GP worth of onyx, map to Rappan Athuk

Special Abilities
Variant Channeling (Su) When used to heal undead or creatures with negative energy affinity, channeling is enhanced (+50%).  When used to harm other living creatures, the damage is normal.
Channel Negative Energy (Su) 3d6 negative energy, DC 14 (DC 16 to command undead)  5/day
Bleeding Touch (Sp) As a melee touch attack, you can cause a living creature to take 1d6 points of damage per round.  This effect persists a number of rounds equal to 1/2 you cleric level (minimum 1) or until stopped with a DC 15 Heal check or any spell or effect that heals damager.  You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.
Advanced NPC:  Elizer has PC stats and gold, and is therefore CR +1
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2019, 03:34:53 am »
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2019, 03:35:35 am »
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2019, 03:41:52 am »
Hireling treachery:  Party's local guide is a larcenous bastard who steals everything that isn't nailed down, once the opportunity presents itself.  He's not affiliated with either cult, he's just a thief.  He will be left outside to guard the horses, etc, once the PCs enter the tomb.  He will then run off with the horses and anything he can grab from the shrines (thus aggroing the two gods).

Boss treachery:  One of the two ex-adventurers that guard the town of Crimmor for the king (Crimmor is the PCs base of operations for RA) will be corrupted by something the PCs bring back from the fort.  Over a period of weeks, he will become an Orcus cultist.  Clues to this occurring will be present but vague.  Once his corruption is complete, he will go to the fort that the PCs have presumably cleared out, and open the secret door to the dungeon's second level.  Once inside, he will find the old reliquary and gain the vampire corruption condition (Ultimate Horror sourcebook) and things will go downhill from there.  If not stopped, he will become a full-out vampire in 60 days.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2019, 03:55:04 am »
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.

I take it the boss man uses all of that onyx for animate dead spells? It's been a loooong time since I read Rule books for this sort of thing, but I seem to recall an onyx gemstone being necessary to animate dead. Does he just make bog-standard zombies or can he do other stuff?
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2019, 03:58:41 am »
Cool! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Thanks for sharing your gaming stuff here. I'm really looking forward to it.

Yeah, I'm going to use this as my scratch pad, because no players are current members of this place.

I take it the boss man uses all of that onyx for animate dead spells? It's been a loooong time since I read Rule books for this sort of thing, but I seem to recall an onyx gemstone being necessary to animate dead. Does he just make bog-standard zombies or can he do other stuff?

This is correct.  He can do skeletons and zombies, but can only control up to 10 HD of them.  So he jogs to crimmor at night and animates some in the graveyard and lets them just do their thing.  This will be shortly after the PCs arrive.  He has a vanguard of controlled undead he keeps around for defense, and a pile of bones for reinforcements as they become necessary.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2019, 03:59:50 am »
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2019, 04:06:21 am »
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2019, 04:08:48 am »
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2019, 04:15:21 am »
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)

 :lulz: I love your sense of Storytelling treachery. I'm not even playing and I feel invested in seeing how this will play out.
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Doktor Howl

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Re: Rappan Athuk 2019
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 04:20:24 am »
Bear in mind, this is just a lead in arc for Rappan Athuk itself, so I'm okay with the idea that the PCs will bigfoot this dude when they reach the dungeon level of the fort.

Not knowing the actual stats and abilities of the PCs it would seem to me this guy would be quite the challenge to take hand-to-hand unless they can completely overwhelm him and maybe get him on the ground. Is that what you mean by bigfooting?

They'll be 3rd level - almost 4th - before they find him.  I give him 3 rounds, tops.  Action economy is 6:1 once they take down the zombie choads, and then his AC won't save him.  Taking him down is a goal for the PCs (kill the BBG) AND for me (Once he's out of the way, Rufus can gain access to the lower dungeon level.)

 :lulz: I love your sense of Storytelling treachery. I'm not even playing and I feel invested in seeing how this will play out.

Best case, Grim gets away and becomes a recurring villain, especially if Rufus goes totally sideways.

I have always been a fan of the power vacuum plot hook.  Party clears out bad guys, other bad guys are free to move into the territory.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, shattered underpance lies,
With blown elastic, and exploded back,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Doktor Howl, Spag of Spags:
Look on my ass, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.