Elania politics: The Rovells

Elania has been for ages a fairly typical Ariadoran city-state, ruled by the remnants of the ancient Hanorian feudal system. Of the many dukes, lords and barons of the area, only two families can trace their ancestry back to the Hanorian feudal lords, and those two have been fighting for control of Elania and the surrounding area for generations. Those are the families of Rovell and Caston.

The patriarch of the Rovell family is Lord Geltran Rovell. Geltran’s age is not known but he has outlived at least three wives. Currently unmarried he is rumored to spend a lot of private time with the female elf mage, Farlirion. From his previous wives Lord Rovell has five sons and two daughters. While bastard children are rumored to exist, none are openly acknowledged by the family, although some who have claimed bastardy have been punished harshly. Geltran Rovell is known to have a passionate love of books, scrolls and other texts. His age has slowed his body, but his mind is reported to be sharp as ever. His home has welcomed sages of all races for generations and the name Geltran Rovell is held in respect from Amroth to the Domishar. For many years it was whispered that Geltran lacked the heart to fight and that the Castons would eventually destroy his family. All that changed when Geltran hired Captain Kane from the Amroth palace guard to run his army and police.

Of Geltran’s five sons only two are known to survive, Tam and Arnot. Two others were killed in battle before marrying and a third vanished soon after his mother died. Tam is now mostly thought of as a drunkard, driven to the bottle by his father’s unreachable expectations. Arnot remains Geltran’s right hand man and is a constant presence in the palace wherever Geltran is. Geltran’s daughters Bess and Feather also live in the palace, but have remained maidens their entire lives.

Tam’s twin sons Gart and Trey are both currently serving in the military, as all Rovell sons must do. Gart is the Eastern marshal and his troops patrol the eastern front, ranging all the way to Flattop in search of Caston forces, brigands or evil races. Gruff and direct, Gart is thought in the town to be Captain Kane’s favorite officer. Gart led the final charge against Caston forces in the Battle of Flattop and personally slew Orsen Caston which finally routed the Caston forces. Trey is his grandfather’s spiritual heir. He remains unmarried and spends most of his time studying with Sasil Tomba, Lord Rovell’s royal mage.

Arnot has one son, Karel. Karel is a young man whose first military assignment ended at the Battle of Flattop where his squad was routed by Caston forces supported by ice trolls. Rumors in the town are that Karel’s rout nearly cost the Rovell forces their northern flank in the final battle, but Gart’s brutal assault did not give the Caston forces time to exploit the temporary Rovell opening. Karel was reassigned to patrolling the relatively safe lands between Elania and Three Oaks. Recently Karel’s squad was ambushed and decimated by orcs only to be saved by passing adventurers. Karel was then reassigned as a scout and given the assignment to track the location of bandits in the area for Kane’s special forces.

Terrain update

So, for a long time I’ve been struggling with my Hirst Arts plaster cast blocks and what to do with them. Even though I have not been really able to commit to much actual building, I’ve still done a fair bit of block casting in the last few months. Just for some perspective…. I have purchased a total of about 130 pounds of plaster of some sort or another. (Well, 180 actually since I bought another 50 pounds yesterday.) I’ve used up all but about ten pounds of that, so that means I’ve mixed and poured about 120 pounds of plaster. Figuring that 10% or so of that is lost through spillage or scraped off the top of a mold to make the blocks flat on the bottom, that means roughly 100 – 120 pounds of plaster that is now in the form of blocks or some sort of terrain.

That’s a lot of plaster…

There’s a couple of folks who sell plaster casts from Hirst molds, and they sell for $5-$10 each mold casting. Just off the top of my head, I probably have 250 or so mold casts now, so a retail value of about $1,500 – $1750 of cast blocks. Comparing that to commercially sold blocks from DwarvenForge, I’ve got enough blocks to compare to several thousand dollars worth of Dwarvenforge blocks. Of course DwarvenForge is plastic, not plaster, and so is probably much more durable, but the Hydrostone I use is pretty dang durable.

But until I make stuff out of the blocks, they are just raw materials. So now it’s time to start making stuff.

Well, technically I have made a few things. So far I’ve made the wizard’s tower, the fieldstone bridge, a large fieldstone hut, a ruined tower and a couple of other things. But the large majority of my blocks are still sitting in plastic drawers, neatly stacked and awaiting the opportunity to be glued and painted into fantastic fantasy architecture.

Well, last night I finally had a bit of a breakthrough on how to move to the next step for these blocks. Basically I made a decision on how to modularize my dungeons. One issue I have been having is that there are several techniques to make a dungeon component, and which way you choose sort of locks you into a long-term solution for how you use the rest of your blocks. (Sorry for the no pics, but I’m doing this at work, I may try to take some photos tonight.)

For example, the blocks are essentially designed in standard sizes. Typically a floor tile is 1″x1″ and wall sections are 1/2″ wide and vary from 1/2″ to 3″ long. So when you make a hallway you have to decide how the floor tiles are arranged, and how the walls are attached to the floor tiles. This is a far more difficult decision than you would think. There are so many factors that come into play. The most basic decision is how wide to make your “standard” hallway. Since the whole point of modularizing the pieces is to be able to assemble dungeons from the component pieces, they have to fit together. So it becomes quite difficult to manage hallways of different widths. Based on the commercially sold dungeon components and the galleries of custom made ones, the “standard width” of a modular dungeon is two inches.

Well, there you go. So that’s easy enough, right?

Well, except remember that the floor tiles are typically 1″x1″ wide. So if you want to put walls on the side of the hallway, you have to figure out how to glue them together. This becomes a critical question about both design and structural integrity. How strong the bond between the walls and the floor is depends on how much surface area of the wall and the floor meet. If you stack a wall beside the floor tile, you get basically a 1/4″ by 1″ surface area for the glue to hold (the floor tiles are 1/4″ high). Even if you use paper or cardboard underneath the floor, that bond is pretty weak. If you instead stack the wall on TOP of a floor tile, then you have double the surface area (1/2″ x 1″) for the glue to hold, which ends up being a much, much stronger bond.

So, again, how hard can that be? You just lay three tiles wide and as long as you want your standard hallway module to be (I’m using 3″ long) and you’re good right?

Well, not quite. It turns out that if you put three tiles side-by-side and put the walls on the edges, you end up with half-squared on each side of the hallway and one full square in the middle. That’s how Hirst Arts recommends that you build them for the highest strength. But it means your hallways are sort of awkward from a miniature positioning perspective since most minis won’t fit on a 1/2″ square and so it sort of pushes you to have your minis walk in single file down the center of the hallway.

I didn’t like that, so that’s a major reason I have been “blocked” in building out dungeon modules.

But yesterday I decided that I could “fix” that in such a way that not only maintained, but improved, the overall structural integrity of the modules. So what I did was to make a “standard 3″x3″ floor segment” from my tiles, where I have a 1/2″ tile, then two 1″ tiles and finally a second 1/2″ tile. That means the center of the “hallway” is two individual squares with a 1/2″ margin on each side.

Then I made a silicon mold of that floor segment so that when I cast a segment, it was a solid 3″x3″ tile of Hydrostone. I was able to make the mold and cast three copies of the segment last night and they ended up being very nice tiles. So now I can glue the walls on the 1/2″ segments on each side of the hallway and leave two full squares for miniatures to move through the hallway. And since the segment is a single piece of Hydrostone it is far, far stronger than if I had glued 12 separate tiles together.

But, that’s just the standard hallway tile. I will also need a few corner and intersection tiles to fully complete the set, and some joinery tiles to make assembling them more convenient. But that’s just a matter of figuring out how to lay out the floor tiles, make another mold and then cast as many copies as I need.

So now I’m committed to this design choice. The downside of that is that any limitations of that design choice are now embedded in future dungeons I make. The upside is that I no longer have to agonize about making a decision and can focus on making actual dungeons.

Ah, but that’s just the floor. The next key decision I have to make is “how high do I make the walls?” This seems pretty simple again, because the answer should be “well, the walls should be as high as a hallway hall, right? Well, not so fast. The problem with making an eight or ten foot high wall on a ten foot wide hallway is that it becomes a pain to position and move miniatures around the dungeon. I don’t want my campaigns to be constantly interrupted by the attempt to move a miniature resulting in the dungeon modules getting smacked around as clumsy fingers (like mine) collide with the walls while trying to reach down between them to manipulate a miniature. Also, sitting on the side of the table will result in some of the hallways being mostly obscured by the high walls, leading to players having to stand up and lean over to see what is going on.

A low wall is much easier to play with, move and manipulate miniatures and see what is going on. But that leaves a sense of there not really being a wall there, which then calls into question the whole concept of 3D terrain. After all, if your 3D terrain is really only 2.33D terrain, is it really worth the effort of making it in the first place? If the walls are going to have to be imagined anyway, why have walls at all? Just draw them.

So there is some balance between having the walls high enough to look like a wall, but low enough to allow for visibility and game play. Of course lower walls means using fewer blocks which means I can make more terrain for the same time and effort invested, so that’s a factor too. I am going to have to engage my play group to decide what works best for us.

But whether the walls end up 2″, 3” or some other height, the floor pieces will remain the same. So I can get busy designing, molding and casting those elements while working out the wall height.

Bottom line is that by making the mold and casting the floor segments, I have at least broken through a major creativity decision block, meaning I can now move forward and start making stuff.

Elania Campaign 2: Session 1

After the original Elania party lost two party members (Paxton/Ruprecht and Stonehand) Lieutenant Rovell led the remaining party members (Talon and Halmod) to Three Oaks in the hope of finding suitable replacements to clear out the bandit lair. After working out even more implausible reasons for their presence than the original party members, Lt. Rovell met three new adventurers in the bar.

Malph – stylish, suave and persuasive, a human bard of immaculate reflection.
Kugel – fluorescent gnome summoner astride a dragon eidolon.
Gregor – paladin embodiment of truth, justice and the Elanian way, and his sultry cohort, Violet.

Lt. Rovell offered them a chance to join Captain Kane’s special forces unit and each agreed, more or less, Gregor more, and Kugel less. But all did agree in the end.

The newly bound party headed northwest to the area Lt. Rovell believed the bandit hideout to be located. They encountered no difficulties on the day long ride. Upon setting up camp for the night Lt. Rovell examined the sky with a strange brass device, making notes in his journal. Malph managed to strike up a conversation with the young nobleman and soon the two were chatting amiably as Lt. Rovell explained that he was tracking the location and brightness of a strange red star in the sky at the request of his grandfather, Lord Rovell, who believed the object to be somehow connected with the ravings of strange prophets which had appeared all over the continent. Lt. Rovell indicated that Lord Rovell was in some sort of dispute with the elf wizards who frequently visited his palace and made use of his “Seeing Room.”

After setting watch for the night their rest was briefly interrupted again by the goblin apparition which warned of “the day of two suns” and “the return of the one.” Kugel felt certain the reference must have been to an ancient legend of demonic rule over the world during the Dwarvenwyrd. Again the party quickly drove the apparition away, this time through the channeling of positive energy which created pain and suffering for the undead creature. As it left it warned that the party was only securing its own doom.

The next day the party left their horses behind as they sent Talon to scout ahead to attempt to locate the bandits without being spotted themselves. An invisible Talon managed to spot a crossbowman sitting in a tree without being spotted in turn. In a stunning display of skill, Talon actually silently climbed the tree and managed to sneak attack the presumed sentry. Unfortunately the killing stroke was not enough to avoid a shriek of pain as the rogue’s blade bit deeply into the man. After that there was silence in the forest as the party waited and some in the party attempted to hide.

Suddenly a crossbow bolt pierced Kugel as other bolts clattered harmlessly off rocks. Talon spotted a hidden crossbowman and Kugel found the wielder of the crossbow which had struck him. The party quickly sprang into action, with Talon attempting to sneak behind the first bandit and Kugel riding his eidolon into battle. Other bandits appeared and suddenly a large trollish creature appeared, charging forward to attack Talon, but failing to land a solid blow.

The fight was quick, Kugel’s bat swarm sending one bandit fleeing in blind panic. Gregor and Violet leaped to the aid of their comrades healing damage almost as quickly as it was delivered. Malph provided powerful encouragement to his allies while his bow dealt quick death to his foes. Halmod sent volley after volley of magic missiles at the rampaging trollish beast. As the trollish beast was finally felled, the lone surviving bandit surrendered to Gregor.

After ensuring the remains of the trollish creature were reduced to ashes, the party turned its attentions to the captured bandit. For a long time they could get nothing out of him except that the bandit hideout was about a mile to the north, which they had already surmised. Finally, after Lt. Rovell provided a field commission for Gregor to act in judgment of evil-doers in the name of the Rovell family, the captive sneered at Lt. Rovell that the bandit camp was the home of a Caston family member.

The felled trollish beast was torn and burned to ash, and nothing survived the treatment. The bodies of the bandits contained the paltry sum of 19 silver pieces worth of coin. All of their equipment was mundane and poorly maintained. The bandit treasure is assumed to be back at the bandit hideout.

Elania Campaign 1: Session 3 Notes

After a night under the “protection” of Captain Kane’s guards, the party awoke and spent the early morning shopping and scouting the town. Stonehand wisely stayed with the party and there was no repeat of the previous night’s attack. After negotiating the exchange of goods and gold for new equipment, the party met at the Rovell palace with Captain Kane.

The Rovell palace is a gleaming white marble structure three stories tall and nearly the size of the city hall. The roof is ringed with a wire fence and guards patrol the roof. The grounds are also fenced in and guards patrol the grounds. Atop the center of the building is a large dome of some clear material.

The party was taken into the main hall, whose ceiling stretched two stories with stairs on each side. On the east side of the hall two large sets of heavy wooden doors were set, with the northern doors slightly ajar. The party was taken through those doors into a large room filled with shelves packed from floor to ceiling with books, manuscripts, scrolls and artifacts. The room smelled of flowers and musty old mold.

At a large table in the middle of the room a distinguished older human sat at the head of the table in deep conversation with a group which included Captain Kane; two nearly identical large middle-aged soldiers dressed in impeccable Rovell blue officers’ uniforms; a waif-like but elegantly dressed elf woman; an elderly dwarf who Stonehand believed was the lead dwarf in Gryggstebyn; an elderly man dressed in robes with arcane symbols, and finally a robust man dressed in simple robes who immediately introduced himself as Devin Millesor, the actor.

The distinguished elder gentlemen introduced himself as Lord Rovell, and introduced the two soldiers as his twin sons. Lieutenant Rovell’s face twitched at the introduction but he said nothing. Lord Rovell indicated that he had asked to meet the party due to Stonehand’s battles with the strange being and he questioned the party keenly, making notes as he did so. Finally he dismissed the party and Captain Kane escorted them across the hall and into a small office where he eventually convinced the party to join his “special forces”. As he did this he also deftly demoted Lieutenant Rovell by assigning him the duty of leading the party to locate the bandit camp so the party could clean out the bandits once and for all.

After a short lunch the party again acquired horses (and ponies) and headed south down the pristine stone road to Three Oaks. Upon reaching the location of their previous bandit encounter from a few days previous, Lieutenant Rovell scouted around and led the party into the woods to the west. Not far from the road they were attacked by the strange being who had attacked Stonehand. During the fight the being seemed to summon another strange red-skinned, horned monster and the party was hard-pressed, with Stonehand getting separated from the group and nearly being killed before the party managed to find him and defeat the beast, who simply disappeared upon realizing the fight was lost.

After healing up the party continued on until camping, encountering a strange large old goblin-like creature who preached to them about the coming “day of two suns” and the “return of the One.” Eventually the party tired of the sermon and not wanting to camp in the presence of a potential foe, chased him down and killed him (although he did not attempt to fight back). Upon his “death” the goblin-thing manifested as a ghost and continued to harangue the party before eventually ascending into the heavens.

After dark Lieutenant Rovell continued his practice of examining the skies and making notes in his notebook. Then they camped for the night, only to discover upon awakening that Paxton/Ruprecht had vanished and that Stonehand was being summoned to return to Gryggsbetyn for further interrogation about the demonic beast which seemed intent on his destruction.

Elania Campaign 1: Session 2 Notes

Upon waking up in the morning, Lieutenant Rovell reminded the party that he would like to take them to meet Captain Kane. The party refreshed their spells, healed up and then joined Rovell and the two remaining soldiers on their trip back to Elania.

During the trip a group of soldiers wearing “Rovell blue” colors joined the party. The leader of that group rode with Lieutenant Rovell and the two appeared to be in an animated and sometimes heated conversation. As they proceeded north the leader of the new group of soldiers sent a soldier along with any citizen traveling south on the road. By the time they reached Elania, the party was accompanied by seven soldiers.

The soldiers pointed out the public stables on the north end of town, then Lieutenant Rovell reminded the party that he would like them to meet Captain Kane and suggested a meeting at 9:00 the following morning in the Inn’s eating area. The party agreed to this, headed north to the pubic stables and returned their horses. Halmod stabled his pony there for the night.

As they were arranging things at the stables, Stonehand asked about the local dwarves, and was shown a large granite outcropping to the north of town, on the east side of the road, which had been carved by the dwarves into a miniature dwarven city called “Gryggstebyn”.

After returning to the Inn and arranging rooms the party ate and discussed local events with the Inn keeper. Hearing a steady noise of cheering, laughing and applauding coming from a large cylindrical building across the street from the Inn they were told that the newly opened local theater was in session and that Devin Millesor, the world-renowned playwrite and actor, was performing a new play that evening, and that pretty much the entire town was in attendance.

Paxton decided to head to his room for the evening, Halmod was itching to determine the properties of the magic items they had collected from the orcs, Talon was ready for a relaxing evening and Stonehand wanted to bring news of the slain dwarf to the dwarves at Gryggstebyn. After a short discussion Stonehand walked up the nearly deserted streets to Gryggstebyn where he was welcomed as a lost brother. His news of the slain dwarf was met with alarm and deep concern. Taken to an ancient dwarf inside the bowels of Gryggstebyn Stonehand delivered the message and handed over the documents and effects he had gathered from the slain dwarf. The ancient dwarf thanked him for his kindness and asked if Stonehand was aware of the “Dwarvenbane” legend. When Stonehand admitted he knew nothing of the legend the old dwarf muttered a complaint about how the new generation of dwarves were dangerously uneducated in the history of dwarves, and asked Stonehand to leave. On the way out the guard told Stonehand that the “Dwarvenbane” was a being or beings that had been associated with the original Dwarven genocide.

Walking back to the Inn, Stonehand was suddenly attacked by a strange humanoid being. The being was tall and lanky, with horns and strange protrusions on his arms and back, and a large blister or pustule on his chest filled with milky liquid. Luckily for Stonehand, the initial attacks were ineffective, but in the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, the monstrous humanoid struck a single blow that did major damage to Stonehand. At that point Stonehand wisely decided to disengage from the being and rush back to the hotel for help. The being did not pursue him.

Hearing Stonehand’s shouts for help Talon and Halmod met him in the lobby, and the three of them then went to Paxton’s room where, after a short delay associated with odd sounds of moving furniture, Paxton applied a healing salve to Stonehand’s wound. (The less said about that salve the better.)

Talon went outside and saw a pair of guards who appeared to be patrolling the city and brought them to the Inn to talk to Stonehand. They first investigated the scene of the attack, and then came to the Inn where they talked with the party. After a short conversation one guard left to bring the news to Captain Kane and the other stayed behind to keep guard on Stonehand. The party then convened in Halmod’s room to work out the treasure.

Halmod, with Paxton’s help, determined that the magical ring was a “Ring of Force Shield” and that ring was given to Talon, after Stonehand declined. The magical armor was determined to be unusable by anyone in the party. The magical gloves were determined to be “Gloves of arrow snaring” and also went to Talon after Stonehand declined. Three potions were determined to be “Cure Light Wounds” potions. Finally the belt proved to be a difficult test for Halmod’s skills. Eventually he determined that the belt provided some boost to the wearer’s strength, but that there was something “blocking” the belt’s powers. This was a completely new phenomenon for the party. Eventually Stonehand put the belt on and discovered that while he noticed no difference in his abilities or skills, he could now not remove the belt. Paxton made a vague comment about hearing about such “legendary” items which provided magical powers or effects, but which required some action or activity to “unlock” the powers.

About this time a knock came on their door and upon opening the door the party finally met Captain Kane himself. Kane listened to the story and seemed to agree with the ancient dwarf’s interpretation of events. Asking the party why they had come to Elania in the first place, Talon stated that they had come after seeing a poster in Three Oaks asking for adventurers or mercenaries. Kane then asked who was the party’s primary melee fighter, and when told that was Stonehand, he challenged Stonehand to a short combat exercise.

After first failing to throw Kane, and being thrown himself, Stonehand then successfully tripped Kane to the ground twice. Upon getting to his feet and dusting himself off, with a wry smile Kane invited them to meet him the next day. Kane also left three guards behind.

The party then went to sleep. Upon awakening they ate breakfast with Lieutenant Rovell who mentioned that he had received Captain Kane’s displeasure at losing six good soldiers. He seemed to be subdued and distracted, but reminded the party to be at the palace at 9:00. This irritated the party’s alchemist who wanted to visit the magic shops in the town which opened only an hour earlier.

This ended the session.

Elania campaign 1: Session 1 Notes

(These are the notes on the first session of the original Elania campaign which occurred in June of 2011)

After the initial awkward execution of the classic “your party meets at the tavern” trope, the party discussed their plans. Paxton was certain that a lady in black sitting behind them was eavesdropping and called her out on it. The lady denied the charge and rather abruptly told Paxton that if he wanted to have a private conversation, he should have it in his room, not in the open dining area. Paxton’s insistence of the social infraction did not sway the rest of the party, and Halmod apologized for the rudeness of his companion. Paxton also spent a good deal of time warning the rest of the group about his nemesis. It wasn’t clear if the group believed that the enemy existed, or was a figment of Paxton’s imagination. Stonehand ordered two dwarven ales, a rather stout brew, but nothing a well raised dwarf couldn’t handle. Talon found the brew a bit strong for his liking. The party then retired for the evening, with Paxton offering Mabel, the barmaid/waitress a gold piece to alert him if anyone was sneaking around in the inn. Mabel gladly took the coin and said she would oblige Paxton until her shift ended.

Nothing of interest occurred during the night.

The next day the party headed for the stables to rent some horses to take them to Elania after a short breakfast. The first two days passed uneventfully, with just a short meeting with a traveling dwarf with whom they exchanged pleasantries.

Towards the middle of day three, however, the party encountered a band of brigands whose leader demanded a toll to use the road. Halmod asked him upon the authority of which municipality the toll was being paid, and the leader replied “The municipality of me.” This convinced Paxton that the man was leading a band of bandits and he quickly drank a mutagen which modified his body in unpleasant ways. This alarmed the man who drank a potion (presumed to be a “vanish” potion) and disappeared. Thus alerted, the party avoided a surprise ambush attack and was able to engage the ambushing bandits immediately.

The fight was short and the bandits were clearly overmatched. Halmod’s two fireballs fried two bandits and a third was taken down by a combination of one of Paxton’s bombs, and a true strike enhanced arrow from Talon. At this time the remaining three bandits, including the leader, drank a potion, vanished and made their escape. Stonehand absorbed most of the damage as the bandits seemingly found an unarmored target to be too squishy to pass up.

After routing the bandits the party realized they had no real ability to track them to their presumed hideout, and so they returned to the road. The next day they came across the bloody scene of a ritually murdered dwarf and three dead humans. They quickly realized that the dead were working on the road, which was packed dirt to the south of the bodies, but was impeccably laid stone to the north. The dwarf had been beheaded, his head placed on a pike and was skinned and mutilated. The scene was so gruesome that even the stouthearted Stonehand was unable to keep his lunch down as he gathered the remains together for a burial. The party then buried the three humans as well.

Continuing north on the smooth as silk road, the party made great time the next day. Towards the middle of the afternoon they heard sounds of combat to the right of the road and ahead. Leaving the horses picketed at the roadside, they investigated on foot, interrupting the rout of a group of human soldiers by seven orcs. Dead soldiers and orcs were visible on the ground, and as the party attempted to join the fight, the three remaining soldiers were hit by javelins and went down.

With the orcs attention on the soldiers, the party was able to surprise them, an opportunity Halmod made the most of with a well-placed fireball which killed four orcs outright and left a fifth smoldering. Stonehand then raced to engage the remaining orc at ground level while Paxton and Halmod turned invisible and sneaked closer to the fight. Talon made effective use of his True Strike ability and nailed the orc spellcaster who was on top of a stone pillar. Paxton intended to hurl a bomb at the two orcs on the pillar, but Stonehand convinced him to instead try to save the soldiers who were possibly wounded, but not dead. As this was happening the spellcasting orc on the pillar nailed Stonehand with a vicious magical ray attack.

Stonehand found the remaining orc virtually impossible to hit, but received two well aimed strokes from the orc’s greatsword. Paxton healed a fallen soldier and then asked that soldier to use a potion to heal the other fallen soldier. The third soldier, apparently the leader, was not unconscious, but had taken refuge behind a large rock when his soldiers were facing certain defeat and death. Seeing his fallen companion mysteriously heal up and rise before his eyes, the leader rushed to that area and implored the apparently invisible healer to heal him. His pleas were ignored.

Halmod then decided that it was time for another fireball and unleashed a doozy on the two pillar orcs. However, they did not go down. In reaction the spellcasting orc unleashed another devastating ray attack, but this was directed at Halmod. Paxton finally managed to throw a bomb at the pillar orcs and killed one, leaving only the spellcaster, who was then promptly dispatched by Talon’s bow. That left only the remaining orc in combat with Stonehand, and it appeared very ill for Stonehand. After delivering a final but mostly ineffective blow to Stonehand, the final orc was dispatched by Halmod with an unmissable magic missile.

Once the dust finally settled, the leader of the soldiers informed Paxton that he was the grandson of Lord Rovell of Elania.

At this point the session ended for the night.

Just a few points to make. When Rovell’s grandson ducked and cowered from the orc party, all of his soldiers were dead, dying or unconscious, so none of them saw his reaction. One soldier, after healing from Paxton, did hear Rovell plead for a heal spell. But by then the battle was almost over.

The last surviving orc had an AC of 26, which was nearly impossible for Stonehand to hit with his attack bonuses. After looking at this AC I don’t think it was too high for a CR 6 semi-boss. Talon would have hit with a roll of 15 or better, which is a 30% chance, and with true strike, he could have only missed on an attack roll of a 1. Paxton’s attacks are against touch AC, which for that orc was only 17. And of course Halmod can always fall back on magic missile which is a guaranteed hit.

My feeling is that Stonehand will need to be buffed up before combat to be effective. I am also OK if JC wants to revisit parts of the build. I will look again at the extra spell issue that Jeff asked about for Paxton. Seeing the battle today, I think a few buff spells might be in order.

The first bandit encounter was a CR 5 encounter by design. You should have defeated it easily and you did. That gave me confidence that a CR 6 encounter would be survivable by the party and the orc fight was a CR 6 encounter. Other than the damage that Stonehand and Halmod took, nobody else took any damage. I play my NPCs as if they have the intelligence and savvy that their stats say they should. For that reason Stonehand looks to the NPCs like the easiest target to hit. Also Stonehand rushed into the battle ahead of the rest of the party in both encounters, which made him look not only like the easiest target, but potentially a dangerous foe, which doubly focused the NPC’s attentions on Stonehand.

Had Halmod not thrown the fireball at the orc shaman and berserker, it is likely that Stonehand would have at least been knocked unconscious. Up until then the shaman and berserker had already decided to take Stonehand down and another two javelins and a scorching ray were headed at him. It is quite possible that the fireball which changed their minds about the biggest threat saved Stonehand’s life.

To make things faster to start the next session, I’ll describe the loot for you. The shaman had three flasks that look like potions. He also had a wand, which he did not use. When you detect magic you will find that the Shaman was wearing magical gloves. The orc berserker beside him had his javelins in a large magical quiver which also was holding a large number of arrows and crossbow bolts. A lot more than it seems would fit in the container.

The orc Stonehand was fighting had magical armor with a more pronounced aura than Talon’s armor aura. He also was wearing a magical ring. You found only common hide armor and mundane javelins and blades on the other orcs. In all the orcs had 130 gold pieces worth of cash 100 of which was on the shaman’s body. In the same pouch the shaman had a metallic disk with the letter “C” stamped into it. This also has a magical aura, in this case evocation aura, but very weak.

The orcs were carrying some sort of meat which looked like it would sustain them for several days, and each had a waterskin. That’s all there was of note.

I do agree with JC that we need to do something to increase Stonehand’s effectiveness. I will work with JC to handle that. It was for me a fun session, I hope it was fun for all of you.

Update, I had neglected to list among the loot a magical belt.

The extra spell in question for Paxton is fine.

If anyone has any questions before Friday’s session, let me know. Rovell’s grandson had recommended that you come to Elania and meet with Captain Kane. You saw him writing in a ledger of some sort as well as making notes on a separate piece of paper after studying the sky.

Hudbyd theology

The world of the Elania campaign is called “Hudbyd” by its inhabitants. The universe that harbors Hudbyd is one that contains actual divine beings. Here is a short summary of the theology of Hudbyd, especially in case someone is considering a theological tie in.

For all practical purposes the gods listed in the core Pathfinder rulebooks can be said to be the gods of Hudbyd. However there are some caveats. First and most important is the idea that mortal beings can become demigods through some great heroic effort or sacrifice. Once they become demigods, they can attract their own followers and gain power in the great god-game through the faith or fear of mortals. It is rumored that the dwarf, Forkovr, is one such mortal who attained demigod status. And there are, in fact, shrines and temples built to Forkovr, although the Forkovr creed is one that has a strange focus on drunken debauchery. Oh well, gods, what can you say?

There are quiet whispers among the wisest of the wise and the basest of the base that the gods are not truly the most powerful beings in the universe. Some whisper that there are elder gods which came before the gods and which will one day return. Some whisper that the gods are a charade foisted on mortals by the true gods who play some incomprehensible game using mortals as tokens and the known gods as agents to achieve their mysterious goals. Others whisper that there are no gods at all, or that the gods are merely extremely powerful practitioners of the magical arts who have mastered the secrets of immortality and whose power grows endlessly. Some who have studied deeply believe that the magical powers of the gods are a pale shadow of the power that could be invoked in the name of the true elder gods.

But most denizens of Hudbyd go through their lives comfortable that their traditions and myths are accurate and those who pray to the gods are granted boons so that is all the proof many of the devout need.