Curse of the Crimson Throne

The Fourth Spirit Anchor
In Which we find a Reluctant Dragon

Heading back into the barracks-side of the keep, the party decides to head to the first floor, looking to clear the area of undead while searching for the kennels. Their first encounter is in an apothecary’s room, where a small halfling woman is stuck up in the netting along the walls. She introduces herself as Alimae, and that a dragon captured her and gave her over to a terrible witch! Her story doesn’t quite match up, and she is quickly forced to dismiss her guise to reveal her true form – a Night Hag. Gidion tells her to gtfo or die, and she chooses the latter.

The group explores many more boring rooms and an extensive number of barracks while making their way forward to the entry of the keep. They find the final resting place of the great hero Mandraivus, transformed into a dread wraith. Further in, they find a corpse orgy hanging out in the kill room, and the surprise that a wandering Scarwall guard let Sargeant Lashton and his skeleton warriors out as well.

Having cleared the keep, they make their way into the courtyard and the doors leading east. Their progress is stopped by loud and somewhat scary voice telling them to “go away”. Turns out the umbral dragon Belshallam isn’t all that thrilled with the combined might of the party, and the likelihood that he may die very soon, adding his spirit to the castle’s many trapped denziens. He is able to convince Gidion to let Kat try to free him from his bondage to the chained spirit, though he could not speak of the attachment directly or help the party in any way with their ideas of how to do it. Once released, he quickly put as much sky between himself and Scarwall as possible.

The party then happily collect Belshallam’s treasures and plan to knock out the Chained Spirit before continuing toward the hexagonal tower.

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Castle Scarwall
In which we find the Castle isn't so empty after all

Day One of the Infiltration:

The group decides to group Air Walk onto the parapets above the gatehouse. Getting close to the castle heights, the group alerts the upper tier guardians – a dozen four-armed gargoyle brutes. The gargoyles’ cries quickly brought a large dragon to the fight, something they were able to identify as an umbral dragon. The dragon got one breath attack in, dealing heavy negative energy damage before the party stuck back, forcing his retreat. The group then explored the area above the gatehouse, encountering the first of the castle’s spirit anchors – Captain Castothrane.

Headed down to the second level, the group then eliminated several Scarwall guards before encountering the castle castellan in the great hall. Several specters engaged the party while Gidion attempted to eliminate the incorporeal being, until Laori was able to identify him as a chained spirit and therefore impossible to defeat at this time as they had only defeated one of his four spirit anchors. They cleared out the rest of the second level and headed back up to the rest of the third level, engaging in a large battle with another spirit anchor – the Ashmede devil Nihil.

Clearing the third level, they decide to break their way into the castle donjon, the holy chambers dedicated to Zon-Kuthon. Entering proved tricky as the entire donjon is under the effect of a forbiddance effect, preventing non-Lawful Evil creatures from entering without a Lawful Evil escort, and a second forbiddance effect preventing non-good creatures from exiting the same area. They encounter a mummy lord and a few spectres before entering the Hall of Midnight – the main hall of worship in the castle, attended by a sleeping demilich! Everyone was extremely nervous about facing this spirit anchor, as demiliches are known to be extremely powerful. A few minutes of careful planning later, the group kills it in less than 1 round with over 900 points of group smiting damage.

Exploring the rest of the donjon, the group fails to find a way into the star-shaped tower, and they stop to regroup and make a plan to explore the first floor and hexagonal tower, finding the kennels and the last spirit anchor.

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Castle Approach
In Which We Reunite With a Few...Acquaintances

With their vague and confusing directions, as well as a few ominous blessings, the party decides to Wind Walk their way into the Hold of Belkzen in order to find Castle Scarwall. They part ways with Trinia, who leaves south to meet up with Vencarlo and Neolandus to bolster Korvosa’s growing rebel movement. They themselves head northeast and begin to follow the Kodar Mountains up.

After a few hours of travel, Katarina notes that someone is scrying on the party. Within another hour, a structure very visible to air travel is noted by the group. It is Shadowcount Sial’s bone house, and he is standing outside with his chain devil Asyra and another familiar face, Laori Vaus.

The trio explains that they know where the party is headed, and that they wish to accompany them on their quest to recover Serithtial. They explain that she is a sword forged by Iomedae to battle the forces of Zon-Kuthon. Laori admits that they too wish to separate the Queen from the Fangs of Kazavon, and that Serithtial can make that happen. Sheepishly, she also explains that neither she nor Sial could wield the weapon to make this possible. Yet even though they don’t know a lot about the current state of Castle Scarwall, they do know there will be safeguards in place that only a follower of Zon-Kuthon can bypass. Hence yet another temporary truce is made in order to further both party’s goals.

The group approaches Castle Scarwall, and they gain a breathtaking yet ominous view of the gothic structure seated at the center of a large lake. The only land approach seems to be a long causeway bridging the castle to the shore, but guarded on this side by a crumbling barbican gate. As the group approaches the lake, they realize the barbican is currently inhabited by a group of white-faced orcs, who fiercely resist any attempt at diplomacy, simply stating that no one goes in or out of the accursed castle. Not wanting to simply start a fight with these defenders, the party decides they will Wind Walk in and prepare themselves to do so.

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Blessing of the Ancestors
In Which Zellara Provides Vague Directions

Two hours before dawn, the heroes and the Sun Shaman head up to the top of Bolt Rock to sit around a focus fire and begin the ritual that will tie them to the spirit world. The group selected their friend and companion, Zellara, to provide their guidance to them. After two hours of sing-song chanting and wordless droning, the Sun Shaman slumps forward and Zellara appears from the fire. She tells the group she has a message for them, but that first she would like to give them a Harrowing.

The past reveals the Tyrant, the Mute Hag, and the Tangled Briar. She says that this is all representative of the tyrant Kazavon, his terrible rule over Belkzen, and his eventual death at the hands of the hero Mandraivus.

The present reveals the Winged Serpent, the Carnival, and the Keep. She says that the key to defeating Ileosa’s power lies within Kazavon’s former seat of power – Scarwall. It will not be an easy task, but a necessary one if they wish to be successful against the Queen.

The future reveals the Eclipse, the Betrayal, and the Dance. Upon seeing the Dance card, most of the group notices Zellara visibly pales. They recognize that card as representing Zellara, and as it appears in an opposing position must indicate something dire (but indistinct) awaits Zellara soon. She herself says nothing of it, but only of the Eclipse representing Zon-Kuthon and his agents, and that the group may yet again have to work with them to achieve their goals. It may also be inevitable that these agents may help or hinder, and possibly even betray the party, but that this eventuality is likely necessary.

She then tells them that Wisdom will be their ally in the near future, as will the ability to fight the undead. Zellara then sings a haunting message from the ancestors, and afterwards the heroes feel an upsurging in their souls as the spirits of the dead infuse them with energy to aid them in their quest.

Harrow Point Uses (4 Points)
Wisdom Rerolls: Spend a Harrow Point to reroll any one Wisdom-based skill check or Will saving throw. You must abide by the new result (although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you can use them to attempt additional rerolls).
Greater Turning: Spend a Harrow Point to infuse a channeling attempt—your effective cleric level increases by 2. You can spend up to three Harrow Points at once to perform a Greater Turning. For each Harrow Point you spend on your channel attempt to harm undead, your effective cleric level increases by an additional 2 levels, to a maximum bonus of +6.
Divine Wrath: Spend a Harrow Point to increase the strength of a divine spell as it is cast. This spell gains a +2 bonus on its save DC, a +4 bonus on its caster level check to overcome spell resistance, and a +2 bonus on any attack rolls needed to strike the target.

In addition, the card a PC draws during the choosing has special qualities during this adventure. Each of these cards is tied to a specific encounter in “Skeletons of Scarwall,” and when a PC who drew that card reaches that encounter, he gains a +2 bonus on all rolls modified by Wisdom and all divine spells cast by the character manifest at +1 caster level. These bonuses last for the encounter’s duration.
Ivan: The Winged Serpent
Gidion: The Queen Mother
Ali: The Midwife
Katarina: The Publican
Andi: The Mute Hag

The Spirit Blessing
Infused Weapon and Armor: The spirit world infuses one weapon, suit of armor, or shield owned by each of the PCs (even if the item in question is not present at the blessing). If the PC chooses a weapon, it gains the undead bane weapon quality. If the PC chooses armor or shield, the chosen protection gains the ghost touch armor quality.
Infused Soul: The next time the PC fails a saving throw against a death effect, that effect is negated but the PC is stunned for one round as the spiritual energies in his soul are burnt away. This protection can save each PC only once from a death effect.

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Night Raid
Where the Red Mantis get Deadly

Having made themselves official Sklar-Quah members, the group settles in to wait for the Chief and Sun-Shaman to return from their commune with the ancestors. Shortly after going to bed, however, the group is rudely awakened by a pair of gargoyles crashing into their yurts.

The entire camp goes quickly into alarm, as gargoyles carrying leather-clad humans fly in and drop off their charges. After dispatching their intruders with little on but a smile, Andi quickly spots more intruders in the camp – the Red Mantis. Waves of battle ensue – in particular Krojun is locked in deadly combat with the infamous Cinderlander, a human who has come to hate the Shoanti with a single-minded passion. Ali casts hold person on him and Krojun quickly dispatches the menace.

Then the leader of the raid, a beautiful woman named Cinnabar, reveals herself and blames the party for all the lost Shoanti lives. She offers to leave the Shoanti alone if they hand over the PCs, to which Krojun bellows in rage. The resulting melee is extremely deadly for everyone involved, and Ivan, Andi, Krojun and Gidion all have VERY close brushes with death. It is Ali casting feeblemind that really turns the tide in their favor.

As the last Mantis falls, the remaining gargoyles flee to their rookery, and cheers go up among the camp. A celebration begins that lasts well into the following morning. Andi celebrates his brush with death by allowing Krojun to shave his head (and give him a tattoo). Andi is then presentable enough to take one of the lovely Sklar-Quah women to bed. He celebrates well into the night.

The next morning Ivan wakes everyone to tell them he received a dream-message from Vencarlo. He and Neolandus are preparing themselves to head back to Korvosa to help with the situation there. Martial law has officially been established, and Cressidia has gone underground with her men to support a rebel movement. She is in hiding under the Cathedral of Pharasma as a guest of Bishop D’Bear. Unable to have a true conversation via the message, Vencarlo tells Ivan that he and Neolandus will sneak in via invisibility and flight into the Grey District, and will await Ivan’s reply as to how long they think they will be before returning with the item/knowledge to defeat Ileosa’s power once and for all. They will hold out until the PCs return, and continue to expand their rebel movement where possible.

The camp then announces the return of the Chief and Sun-Shaman from their excursion. The Sun Shaman invites the party into his hut and finally relays to them the story of the Midnight Teeth. He tells them that one of his ancestors was called to join a cabal of heroes, led by a man named Mandraivus, to fight the despot Kazavon. When he returned from his journey, he was changed by what he saw and sought the council of the other tribe shamans in what to do with a relic he had come back with – the Fangs of the Blue Dragon Kazavon. He said the teeth retained a part of the dragon’s soul, and needed to be kept hidden away from the world lest the dragon find a way to return to life. He and the other shamans decided to hide it away in an ancient pyramid, and kept it safe for several centuries until Cheliax came and invaded. They were forced to abandon the reliquary and then watched for a few more centuries in fear of their discovery. The Sun Shaman finds the idea that Queen Ileosa found it disturbing, and suggests the best course of action at this time is to perform the Blessing of the Ancestors, a ritual that pulls advice from the spirits of the ancestors in order to provide guidance to important events.

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Trial by Fire
In Which the Paladin is Eaten by a Giant Worm

The party spends time with the Lyrune-Quah until Truthspeaker Akram arrives.

Truthspeaker in tow, they make there way to the ash-blown lands in order to seek out the Cindermaw. They travel for a time, and the giant worm finds them amid the volcanic gases erupting in the barren grasslands. The group quickly prepares itself and everyone makes sure they are hovering above ground, except for Gidion, who preps himself to resist fire and acid before flying straight into the Cindermaw’s gullet. After a few tense rounds, Gidion cuts his way through the creature’s hide and emerges relatively unscathed, if a bit smelly. Akram confirms that this should be good enough to re-tell to the Sklar-Quah, and they head out to the tribe’s central locale.

They approach the Flameford, the defensible yet central HQ for the Sklar-Quah. As they approach, a group of Burn Riders greets them, then escorts them into camp via a circuitous route. Truthspeaker Akram recounts Gidion’s recreation of the story of Skurak the Reborn, and the party’s desire to shed their tshamek status and become Shoanti. The Sun Shaman and Chief Ready-Klar go into a yurt to discuss it, and after what seems like forever, come back to acknowledge the group’s shoanti status.

Gidion wastes no time in asking about the Midnight’s Teeth, but the Sun Shaman strictly refuses to speak of it, saying it is a deep secret of the Sklar-Quah, and unfortunately even though they are no longer tshamek, they are not of the Quah and that information cannot be divulged. Heavy inward sighs are made before asking what they may do to have the honor of becoming Sklar-Quah. The Sun Shaman replies that they must pass the Quah’s coming of age ritual, the Trial of the Totems. Krojun, hearing this, becomes enraged and rides off into the Cinderlands to ‘cool off’.

The following morning before dawn, all of the new shoanti braves make their way to a Sklar-Quah sacred site known as Bolt Rock, where they must each hold up a large totem for two straight days and nights without rest. Ali and Andi had a few close moments with their totems, but managed not to damage theirs too badly. They were visited once by Krojun, who came to check up on them and begrudgingly admitted they were lucky to have each other as nalharest (brothers and sisters). At dawn on the third day, the entire clan came up to see who had succeeded and who needed forcibly removed from their lands. Fortunately for the heroes, they all succeeded and were welcomed with open arms into the Quah as their newest members.

On the way back to Flameford Camp, the Sun Shaman told Gidion that before he could divulge any information to them about the Midnight’s teeth, he and Chief Ready-Klar would have to go to the Kallow Mounds to commune with their ancestors. They and four thunder callers will leave at once via wind walk, returning after their 24 hour commune.

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The House of the Moon
In which we add another Quest to the Chain

Our group takes the light elevator down to the lower level that remains of the Acropolis, and find an old globe of Golarion before Earthfall. As each person touched the globe and thought of the stars, then of home, they acquired the Spherewalkers’ Mark, a small butterfly tattoo on their left hand.

Marks on their hands, they proceed with their escorts north along the Wyvern Mountains to the annual congregation spot of the Lyrune-Quah, the House of the Moon. Supposedly built by an army of Lyrakien, this structure has stood unmarred against time in the Cinderlands. The Lyrune-Quah hold it as a holy place, and gather there to worship their goddess.

Before reaching the structure, the group is intercepted by a contingent of Moonmaidens on horseback with wolf companions. Once the heroes show their leader, Tekra’Kai, their butterfly tattoos and mention their quest to find a Truthspeaker, she becomes very receptive to them, and admits that they do indeed have a Truthspeaker, but that their clan cannot stay at the House of the Moon while the Red Reaver remains inside. The creature wandered down from the mountains and bonded to the site, and now several maidens have already lost their lives to the creature.

The party agrees to help the moon maidens and their first approach to the temple is unfortunately marred by the large red and black skinned creature that tries to beat them to a pulp. The creature is no match for our heroes however and they quickly prevail. The Moon Maidens are impressed by the display of strength and gladly offer their house as shelter until the rest of the clan arrives in 2 days time.

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The Acropolis of the Thrallkeepers
In which an ancient temple gets a bit crowded

The following morning, the group is off to find the Acropolis of the Thrallkeepers, with a small group of Boneslayers as their guides. The Acropolis is on the other side of the Cinderlands, along the Wyvern Mountains. For the few days it takes to get there, it becomes obvious that the party is being followed by a small band of riders. They are too far away however to identify any single member, but they haven’t made any hostile moves toward the party yet.

On the day they arrive at the temple, the horizon begins to darken with a dangerous emberstorm, and the Boneslayers are glad to find shelter for the horses along the cliffs as the party explores the interior of the ruin. The ruin seems largely empty, and the group finishes exploring the level they are on when they hear something elsewhere on the same level as them. They go to investigate, and find the riding party following them must’ve been Krojun and his burnriders, who have been following the group to see how they were doing. It becomes apparent he is curious in how the group handles themselves against the dangers of their homeland.

What he failed to mention in their brief exchange is that he entered the acropolis because he had observed another small group of red-clad tshamek follow the party inside. The Red Mantis assassins get the drop on the back of the party from the main chamber, dropping Trinia and Andi quickly. The added noise in the chamber initiated an investigation by the chamber’s sleeping denizen – a many tentacled monster living in the pool. The fight quickly becomes dangerous between the Red Mantis and this strange monster in the pool – more tentacles arriving each round. Krojun begins attacking tentacles, leaving the group to handle the assassins.

Even with the added firepower of the barbarians, the outlook was becoming grim as Gidion noted a Kyton entering the fray behind Ivan. His concern turned to confusion as the chain-devil began attacking and killed one of the assassins instead of their party. The attack allowed Trinia and Andi to be revived and pulled to safety. As soon as the Red Mantis were dispatched, it became apparent that the tentacle monster was no where near done, and a mysterious figure from across the room suggests that the noise of the fighting is agitating it. He casts silence in the area and everyone moves a safe distance from the pool.

The mysterious helper introduces himself as Shadowcount Sial, an associate of Laori Vaus, who has come to observe the party. The Kyton, Asyra, is under his command. He is vague in his reasons for being there, but does admit he and Laori are both part of an association known as the Brotherhood of Bones (a mysterious order of scholars and historians within the church of Zon-Kuthon) and they are interested in the party’s current success. He offers his services to the group, and it is yet unclear if they will accept the help of yet another follower of Zon-Kuthon.

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Off to Find the Skoan-Quah
Where we meet a couple Shoanti we never thought to see again.

The morning of their departure, Jasan offers the group supplies and light warhorses to help them on their trip north. Vencarlo and Neolandus accompany them as far as Janderhoff, where they plan to seek asylum for awhile. The party (plus Trinia) continues north to the border between Korvosa’s holdings and the Cinderlands. To get to the Cinderlands, they must travel through the lawless city of Kaer Maga. The group learns the most direct path is through the Halflight Path, a somewhat safe guided trip up that takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours up the cliff and through well-cared for paths made safe by the ever-vigilant Dusk Wardens. At the top, they quickly re-supply and head east toward the Kallow Mounds, the Shoanti burial grounds maintained by the Skoan-Quah (Bone Clan).

The Cinderlands are harsh, and the party sees many predators, but none get too close on their trip across the dry grasslands. Soon they approach the Kallow Mounds and are met by a small group of Skoan-Quah Boneslayers (Ranger/Cleric). Once the group communicates that they are there to see Thousand Bones, they are led into their camp. The party’s help in recovering Gaeken has them in the old shoanti’s good graces, and they are welcomed as friends. T-Bones tells them he will arrange for them to speak with himself and the clan elders at their bonfire tonight, and to relax in the guest yurt until then.

It doesn’t take long for the news to travel across the camp that Tshamek have come to the Skoan-Quah, and a visiting contingent of Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan) soon approaches to express their displeasure. The head of this contingent is a very large man by the name of Krojun Eats What He Kills. He and his fellow Burn Riders are laying one of their own to rest here in the Kallow Mounds. Krojun, like most all the Sun Clan, is extremely distrustful of all non-Shoanti and starts an argument with Chief One-Life. Thousand Bones calms the situation, and Krojun challenges the party to a ‘friendly’ game of Sredna, a traditional Shoanti test of strength. Ivan decides he feels lucky and accepts the challenge. After several rounds of tug-of-war, Ivan loses to the larger man, but Krojun seems to rib him good-naturedly about it before departing. It takes Katarina awhile, but she realizes later that she knew Krojun when they were children. It was a fight with him, the Skar-Quah chief’s son, that led to her and her mother leaving the Shoanti years ago.

That evening at the Bone Council Fire, the party asks about the Midnight’s Teeth, and Thousand Bones knows very little about them other than the Sun Shaman of the Sklar-Quah has mentioned the name once or twice. He recommends if they want to know more, they would have to ask the Sun Shaman. But this information will prove difficult to attain.

Thousand Bones then tells the party that to earn this knowledge from the Sun Shaman, the group will have to pass through a series of tasks in order to prove themselves worthy of being seen as not tshamek and accepted into their clan. They must follow the path of an old warrior Skurak the Reborn, who jumped into the mouth of the great Cindermaw, and exited alive. In order for the Sun Clan to believe it however this feat must be witnessed by a Truthspeaker, whose word can not be questioned. The only living Truthspeaker is a member of the Lyrune-Quah (Moon Clan) and they are also distrustful of tshamek. To gain the Lyrune-Quah’s trust and to borrow their Truthspeaker, the group must first gain the Spherewalker’s mark, a mark of the goddess Desna that many Lyrune-Quah attain in their homage to an ancient ruined temple in the Cinderlands, as proof of their honesty and need.

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The Fourth Harrowing
A Test of Strength

For the past Zellara draws The Cyclone, The Mountain Man, and The Fiend.
These cards represent the history of the Shoanti and the conflicts prior to the founding of Korvosa. The Shoanti have yet to forget this loss. Even now, plans of war are brewing in the Cinderlands. The Shoanti can be great allies, but their cooperation will not come until you have gained their respect.

For the present she reveals The Survivor, The Bear, and The Publican.
These draw a parallel between your flight from Korvosa and the Shoanti’s flight from their lands years ago. Follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and the path may yet become clear. Also, remember they respect certain measures of strength. You may have your strength tested, but only do so at the right time, or the consequences may be severe.

For the future she reveals The Big Sky, the Uprising, and The Snakebite.
The force or forces against you in Korvosa are too strong for you to confront currently, but I see the strength for you to liberate your city in the Cinderlands. We are definitely on the right track. Yet these forces don’t seem content to sit idly by while you look for the answer…I see signs of the Red Mantis in your future…

In addition, the Heroes are granted Harrow Points they can use during the adventure in the following ways:
Strength Re-rolls: Spend a Harrow Point to re-roll any one Strength-based skill check. You must abide by the new result (although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you can use them to attempt additional re-rolls).
Mighty Thews: Spend a Harrow Point to be treated as a creature one size category larger than your normal category for the purposes of making grapple checks, lifting heavy objects, or determining if a hungry monster can swallow you whole; this adjustment lasts for one encounter (but no more than 10 minutes at the very most).
Brutal Strike: Spend a Harrow Point to gain a +5 bonus on all melee or natural weapons for the duration of one combat. Alternatively, brutal strike allows you to ignore an object’s hardness for 1 round.

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