Chapter 3 – The Hook Mountain Massacre

Well, technically the first part of Part I was our second crack at the “noble lamia” Xanesha who we had to escape from in Magnimar.  We ambushed her in a brothel where she was posing as a courtesan, and preparing to ice (among other activities) the Lord Mayor.  Even with us being fully prepped for the combat, (unlike last time, when *she* was the one completely prepped) she got away. Sigh.  But saving the Lord Mayor of Magnimar got us named lords of a keep, which quickly turned out to be a not so good deal.

While “The Skinsaw Murders” covered classic slasher and gruesome haunted house horror genres, “The Hook Mountain Massacre” covers the hick gore genre – you know, the one featured in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wolf Creek, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Devil’s Rejects. Oh, and that one X-Files episode where they find the “mom” under the bed. Ah yes, “Home.” (I didn’t know they pulled that episode after its first airing! I must just have been lucky to see it at its premiere.) Anyway, the disgusting, roach-ridden, human-skin-furnished home of the inbred mutant hillbilly ogrekin is awesome.

Valgrim felt really bad about the fate of his celestial monkey he sent up on the front porch of the Graals’ house in Part I. He had been expecting to spring a trap but not to reduce the monkey to a spray of giblets! This provided additional motivation for him to work down the Malconvoker path. If you’re going to summon some critter to get senselessly chopped up, it stands to reason you’d want an evil one to get that treatment instead of a good one…

You get a special treat in Part II – our usual session summary scribe was out of town, so I took over those duties. We hit that keep like gangbusters – I’m not sure if Lucretia (yet another of these lamia nobles) was going to talk with us or not, she at least started up like she was gonna hit us with some boxed text, but we wiped her out hard without hesitation.

An interesting moral dilemma was what to do with Kaven the Black Arrow traitor. We Zone of Truthed him (I could tell he was a traitor, if only from the name – Kaven ~= craven) and determined that he had indeed betrayed the keep. Valgrim’s a law & order dwarf, so had no problem with asking his captain to pass judgement and attend his lawful execution. He got a little flack from other players about whether that was “good” or not… It’s what would happen in real life in the US or anywhere as a punishment for this sort of treason, so as far as I’m concerned it’s “good enough.” Have I mentioned I hate alignment metagaming? I really like to get in-character, and it’s congruent with my conception of Valgrim’s personality. Heck, dwarves are typically Lawful Good, and does anyone really doubt what would happen to a dwarf who betrayed his people to giants? Besides, people really don’t think enough about morality nowadays. If someone breaks into your house and steals stuff, how many of these people that are preaching to me about “Good alignment” wouldn’t call the cops and expect a conviction?

Part III is all about us finishing up with the ogres and consolidating our power base in the keep. Alas, one of our fellow heroes got killed off and we’re still not of Raise Dead level (and we’re out in the sticks with no major city in sight). So Matt’s now on Shoanti Sun Clan character #3, aka Vaelyn.

For some reason it got left out of the summary that I (Valgrim) summoned a kaorti (like a demented Aliens creature from the Far Realm); its Ray of Enfeeblement and Color Spray are why the two final ogres actually stayed caught in the Web to get arrowed to death. So there’s a DVD extra for ya!

As a side note – I almost hated to make an Artificer’s Monocle, which basically lets you use Identify without casting the spell (or using the 100 gp pearls). But, they publish the cheese, I use the cheese. (Magic Item Compendium, for the record.)  Pearls are hard to get in the mountains anyway.

I’m taking bets on who the first character will be to go try to hook up with the former commander’s nymph girlfriend. Mmm, swamp nymph.

In Part IV, we went to save Turtleback Ferry from an unexpected flood and had to fight a giant mutant Nessie; we also went up to the dam at Skull’s Crossing, killed some subgiants, and I got to use my demon summoning skills to good effect to power the dam floodgates.  Tim, recently joining the campaign with his Divine Mind character, is feeling like a fifth wheel – actually, a seventh; I think he has caused the party to cross that “magic line” between a manageable group of PCs (plus retainers, companions, summons, etc.) and chaos. He opted not to return the next session.

Man, we’re getting a lot for our money out of Hook Mountain. We handled both previous installments in 3 sessions each, and this one’s going for six. Valgrim hit level 8 and is moving deeper into Malconvoker!

In Part V we saw a substantial setback – our brave leader, Lord Benk (I had just decided to start calling him that this session!), charged one of the first ogre sentries on Hook Mountain and got critted with an ogre hook for an instant kill (they do huge damage and a x3 crit). That sucked, especially because we then got to take on the rest of Hook Mountain with low front line fighter support. Luckily Summon Monster IV came to our rescue – the Voor yugoloth and the Arcadian avenger both laid some serious smack down. I also used the Gadacro demon to steal a bunch of hag eyes, much to their chagrin.

We’re done with Hook Mountain! Now we’re doing lots of planning and scheming to rebuild Fort Rannek, get tax revenue going, help Turtleback Ferry, widen the scope of the Black Arrows, sell booty, get new spells, etc. I hear it’ll be about 6 months of downtime, also with a side adventure to hunt down Xanesha (we’re a bit low in level to go into the Stone Giants…)

Part VI is the final episode in this chapter. We did all the downtime stuff in the keep, and have the Black Arrows operating at previously unheard of staffing levels and scope of influence. Somehow, despite the fact this session was negotiation heavy, we managed to eliminate most of the role-playing and reduce it to a couple Diplomacy rolls – bah to that. And then we went after Xanesha again. The gnoll fight was interesting; we gained a tactical advantage by taking over their guardpost and once they could only get at us by climbing ladders it was pretty much a meatgrinder. And as usual, we beat the snot out of Xanesha and then she dimension doored out.  Bitch!  Next time – dimensional anchor!!!

< Back to Skinsaw Murders On to Fortress of the Stone Giants >

4 responses to “Chapter 3 – The Hook Mountain Massacre

  1. Hey Ernest,

    Nice sessions dude. I got hooked reading up on the SM lists and creating my own Malconvoker. The lists and info you and the TreantMonk did has helped a lot.

  2. Pingback: Sinister Lives! « Geek Related

  3. I’ve only recently come across this and I’ve been reading it to prepare me for Dungeon Mastering for a small group of three. Any advice or interesting insight on Rise of the Runelords?
    As a side note, how do you get so many people? It’s a very lonely place down here in Manchester, us roleplayed are hiding in the woodworks or something.

    • Well, I was a player not the GM, so not sure how much insight I have – luckily this is the best supported campaign in history – there’s a dozen supporting products, reams have been written on its merits and weak points on the Paizo forums… Definitely run the revised hardback version and let your players run wild!
      It can be hard to find gamers but they’re usually there somewhere. See for tips. I’m in Austin now which is a geek haven but before I was in Memphis, which is not really known as such, and still managed to rustle up more gamers than I could game with. When I moved to Austin I just started advertising for a group on whatever local channels I could find, and it took a little to get a permanent gamer home but now I’ve been gaming with these same folks for some time.

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