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Jade Regent – The Hungry Storm, Session 1

We’ve moved into the third chapter of the Jade Regent adventure path and it’s chilly Arctic action all the way!

First Session (14 page pdf) – We fight snow chimeras and Wilford Brimley the Eskimo Shaman.  Real world arctic survival tip – you can’t eat the liver of a polar bear, it has so much vitamin A that it’s poisonous, but the rest is OK.

As we travelled across the Crown of the World, we get a lot of nice picaresque encounters. First was the hideous hag Arnalaak, who had stolen all of a village’s children and transformed them into water monsters. We solved that by marrying Jacob off to her; sadly, it didn’t take.

Then we fought a chimera with the heads of a dragon, walrus, and polar bear that we dubbed a cryomera. My character Yoshihiro is coming along well as an archer; one three-arrow full attack from me got it hurt bad and Harwynian finished it off with Magic Missiles.  Similarly, the next encounter with a giant pike (which tried to eat Harwynian) took a lot of magic missile and arrow damage.

Then we find the Arataki (aka Inuit aka Eskimo) village and return their kids, but a shaman who looks like Wilford Brimley has it in for us.

I don’t know what I would have done in this campaign without Suishen, the magical katana.  See invisible, wind walk, and protection from cold pretty much convert most of the impossible challenges in the AP to possible.  In this case, I saw the invisible Wilford Brimley skulk off and we trailed him directly to his lair. He attacked us with a host of frozen undead, and used a gust of wind to blow me around a lot, but I used my ever-popular dye arrow trick to highlight him (since I can see invis and I’m the archer, I bought dye arrows to mark sneaky BBEGs for party destruction).

Next time, we go dragon hunting!

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 5

Fifth Session (10 page pdf) – We kill Thorborg the oni and make a bunch of new friends in preparation for our journey north. Plus we have to fight BLINDHEIMS!

Well, both Tim and Matt showed up late, but luckily walked in by the time we opened the door to the boss’ lair and went inside. Things started out well – I used Suishen’s wind walk and see invisible to get up in the air and see the oni and I shot her with an outsider bane arrow.  And then she shot a spear-sized arrow right into me with a crit and down I went in one shot. I’m not really made of hit points, it’s why I want to become an archer eventually.

V’lk then saved the day with an obscuring mist – cancels ninja backstabs and also made the oni have to move out of the mist and then attack.  Gobo pumped a couple cure light wounds into me by then the rest of the party was still screwing around down with the ninjas in the mist so I had to charge her again. But in a spate of good luck, V’lk poisoned her and I hit her, she missed me, and I hit her again taking her down – I maxed out all my stuff to do it. She fell to the ground and got scorching rayed in the face as a coup de grace.

Afterwards when we’re opening cells, we get flash-blinded by froglike critters – I recognized them immediately from my old Fiend Folio days.

Yep, it was blindheims. A blast from the past. We killed ’em.  After handing Ravenscraeg over to Longthews (if only he would be a useful ally in the future, but thrall-raping seems to be the extent of his mens’ skills) and headed north in our caravan.

Soon we got attacked by a frost giant raider who put a whupping on me till everyone woke up and got their act together.  Jacob is part frost giant or something so now we’re keeping him as a guide to “teach him their ways.” Apparently that’s horse thieving, but I guess he’s dressing it up a little more mystical than that.

That’s all we did; between travel and treasure distribution and a bad case of “everyone not paying a lot of attention” we chewed through the session hours pretty rapidly.

Oh, and we leveled to sixth.  Woot!  Didn’t get much, but more hit points is always welcome.  New character sheets as I get them are uploaded to the main campaign page.

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 4

Fourth Session (13 page pdf) – Trolls, ninjas, necromancers, statues – they all fall before our righteous wrath. We kill, and loot!  And kill and kill and loot!  Kill kill kill, loot loot loot…

Most of the Paizo APs, I’ll be honest, give you crap treasure.  This one is different!  Besides my new intelligent katana Suishen, we’ve found a lot of unique and cool magic items.

The most enjoyable fight was with the three monks then the lady ninja.  It was a big “you can’t see them” fest – I took care of the shadows and all with a daylight from Suishen and then I figured the See Invisible would take me the rest of the way – but that ninja chick, even when sniping and taking a -20 to her Stealth check, was totally staying hidden and owning us with sneak attacks.  Three shuriken are a joke unless they’re each coming with a many-d6 sneak attack attached.

The toughest fight was with those stupid statues.  Super high DR, immune to all magic, break  your weapons when you hit them – and they were like CR4 or something, what a hose job. We had to stop after to recover to hit Thorborg.

This weekend, we’ll fight the oni posing as Thorborg Silverscore!  I best log off now because there’s a hell of a thunderstorm brewing here in central Texas, but more soon!

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 3

Third Session (14 page pdf) – We assault Ravenscraeg, Thorborg’s hideout. It is full of ravens, and ninjas, and raven-ninjas.  And we totally find the intelligent ancestral sword of the Amatatsu family in a hole!

Our plan to sneak around like ninjas is largely busted by a raven swarm attack. Our disguises do let us get the drop on a room of ninjas, though, so we fight them then a squad of Vikings pretty well.

Our Viking prisoner gives up some intel. Being Combat as War fans, we set up an ambush for their werebear leader and took him down with extreme prejudice.

Some DVD extras – Bjorn snatched all the money from the Murder God’s offering bowl, I hope it’ll come back to haunt him.  And the inside joke of “Eye Ape, Ear Ape, Ear Ape” is because I figure the blind Gobo, mute V’lk, and just-doesn’t listen Harwynian are like the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil monkeys. And in some anime, Paul had seen that subtitled as “Eye Ape, Ear Ape, Ear Ape,” which amused all of us.

We also liked going into the kitchen. The Vikings were like “You pesky ninjas, get out of the food!” Then we killed them.  Except for the baker, we commanded him to continue baking the tasty bread.

It turns out the most vicious sub-boss in the place was a raven! We had quite a time fighting it. And of course Bjorn’s anti-animal abilities don’t work on it.  “It’s a magical animal!”

In the end, we found the intelligent katana, and learned Thorborg is really an oni!  We had been half considering leaving and letting Asvig Longthews and his Vikings clear the place, but that convinced us we need to sweep and clear – next time!

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 2

Second Session (11 page pdf) – We head out to Asvig Longthews’ house to kill us some Vikings. We end up saving some Vikings but killing some ninjas!  Once we hear a chick named “Thorborg” is behind this unholy genre mash-up, we head right out to kill her.

We snuck up on a Viking wake. After V’lk annoyed me by setting off the obvious lion-summoning trap, we got control of the place without a lot of trouble. Asvig Longthews as our prisoner was being intractable, but we knew that a lot of these guys have some kind of head-exploding curse on them for if they talk.  In what seemed to be quite against GM expectations, we managed to dispel the curse and get the Ulfen on our side!

Alas, the ninja ambush that was probably going to be waiting for us at the funeral boats just came to the longhouse instead. And they took me out fast.  With my character, sometimes I end up leading the battle to victory, sometimes I get dropped in two rounds. Not too much in between. Finally, we kill them and head off to find the person behind this, a woman named Thorborg (this made us giggle).

So we argue about plans – draw her to town, ambush her on the road… No, we’ll just go right up to the front door of her keep. Our attempt to bluff our way past the door guards goes badly and we get to fight more ninjas.  They are really annoying, because they can go invisible and then sneak attack you.  For a PC it’s less cool because you can only do it a couple times a day, but of course monsters only have to go one combat and get to use all their daily uses on you.

The humorous silver lining, however, is that the kenku ninjas were equipped liberally with blowguns.  Kenku are bird-people with beaks, not lips. This caused a minor riot to break out when we found it out.  They didn’t use them on us, luckily.  We speculated that there’s some ninja union and they make everyone carry blowguns whether or not they are equipped biologically to use them. “Now that’s Lawful!”

The illustrations in the books add a lot to the play experience.  We always show the monster pics to the players (sometimes having to obscure 3/4 of the page in the book to safely do so) and in this one, the spider eater picture really put us off our feed; we had considered killing it just to clear the way and after we saw it we decided “screw that!”

Jade Regent – Night of Frozen Shadows, Session 1

First Session (16 page pdf) – We journey with our caravan all the way from Roderic’s Cove in Varisia to Kalsgard in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. A fair number of Viking raiders toss themselves onto our swords.

We kicked into the second chapter of the Jade Regent AP today. Our characters are shaping up well if oddly.  V’lk is mute and Gobo is blind, Harwynian is somewhat… flighty. Bjorn and Jacob are alternately charging into combat and absent. But we’re getting into the groove with each other. See our main Jade Regent page for the character sheets level by level.

The road up to the Linnorm Kings went through many lovely locales including mining towns and a village of gnomish mini-Vikings. I stomped around it pretending to be Gojira.

Along the way, I decided Hiro would take up playwriting; he adapted the crazy tengu’s play into a work called “The Cuckolded Cuckoo” that the caravan performed along the way. We also continued to experiment with caravan fighting rules. We fought off trolls and bandits without much trouble.

We got ambushed at night though, and I about died – those Ulfen greataxes put a whupping on you fast, and all our ACs are pretty low.  I managed to escape the press and led the chasing Ulfen into a narrow place between the wagons where Harwynian could Web them. Then it was a lot easier… We even took a bunch of prisoners to sell back for their weregeld.

In the end, we got to Kalsgard, our destination, and start in on the long chain of “Ah yes, I had that sword, but now…”

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 8

Eighth Session (12 page pdf) – More psychos and worms await as we dungeon-crawl the Rift of Niltak. And Shoanti. And mimics and executioner’s hoods and cursed items!  Wackiness results.

First, here’s our whiteboard pics trying to explain the Rift of Niltak in side and front view.

You’ll have to check out the session summary for the artist’s rendition of a seguathi brain-enslaving worm, however. We come across another one of those things, but now that we know what to expect it didn’t go so badly for us.  We tossed in a Web, summoned an earth elemental, and came in after it had been reduced to worm slurry.

My favorite excerpt, with some interplay between my character Yoshihiro and Tim’s character Bjorn:

After some investigation a weak section of wall is found in the wall to the right of the altar.

Bjorn posits, “Maybe this is where the dwarves dug too deep. Then they covered it up!”

Hiro retorts, “Oh, yeah, they stacked up some bricks and covered it with dirt. Real dwarven craftsmanship there.”

Pushing down the wall reveals a large square room with a stone dais in the midst of a sand floor. Two chests of gold and big frog-god statue adorn the dais and two braziers on the ceiling cast a hellish red glow. A large twisted dwarf in heavy armor kisses his gore-smeared axe and waggles his bloody tongue, pointing one of his exposed finger-bones at us.

“Let’s not try talking,” says Bjorn.

This was an old school mini-dungeon crawl, complete with a mimic, an executioner’s hood, and even a bag of devouring! But possibly the most time was spent with the inexplicable homunculus in a box. I had to totally insist that we return it to the old hermit, too, not that we got much out of it.

Our side trek is over; next time we hit chapter 2 of the AP, the Night of Frozen Shadows!

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 7

Seventh Session (12 page pdf) – Bonus episode! The main plot can wait as we go to try to pry some loot out of the worm and psycho-haunted Rift of Niltak. Complete with dwarven pleasure mouth!

A dirty hermit gave us a map alleging to show the location of treasure in the weird Rift of Niltak. To quote the Pathfinder Wiki:

The Rift of Niltak is a mist-shrouded canyon found in the Red Mountains of north-eastern Varisia. No one knows what the origins of the rift are, but all agree that it is filled with all manner of strange flora and fauna. Gigantic insects can be seen crawling over plants found in no other place, and the echoes of shrieking bat-like creatures reverberate off the walls of the glen. An accurate description of the rift has not come to light, as those who enter either never return, or go insane shortly after emerging from it.

Since we are already insane (and blind, and mute) we figured, “What the hell.”

After a fight with some insane bears, we have a heck of a time with a batch of gimp psychos and a tentacled worm thing that is their slave boss.  It emanates confusion with a high DC will save, and farts out a fog that provides a -10 to Will saves against it, and dominates… We had a lot of Protection from Evils but that only helps against the direct control, not the confusion and all, and there was literally no way any of us could make the save. And of course on top of that it has wands and swords and a really high AC. I charged through the line of mooks to try to keep it busy; it pretty much took me out fast while the rest of the party was worrying about the minions.I guess next time we should use bows from a distance, but its high AC and fog made most of our missile attacks miss (and it has a 3-magic-missile wand…). Oh and it has SR. And DR.  Did I mention that?  Good lord.

Besides the confusion and control stuff, I was happy to get to fight astride my mount. It’s tough to be a mounted character because you can never take your mount anywhere important in these APs – bad guys can never be in a forest, they have to be in an inaccessible dungeon. (And don’t say be a halfling cavalier on a dog, how would I ever respect myself again…) Akumu does a good job of improved-overrunning people and just generally kicking and biting at them.

We made our way into a dwarven tomb or something on the wall of the Rift, and fought more psychos and Cenobites (you know, from Hellraiser). And that’s where we left it.

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 6

Sixth Session (18 page pdf) – We overcome the dangers of Brinewall Castle with flair and savoir faire!  As is so often the case, love of the booty ends up being the downfall of Kikkonu the tengu. Read on as we uncover the secrets of the Brinewall Legacy.

First, while fighting some more of those dang dire corbies, we make a new “ally,” a harpy. Bruce (Harwynian) has a long standing bird fetish and so he wasted no time befriending her.

We also discovered how weird and dumb all the illumination rules are. We had a lot of darkness on light on sunrod interaction questions.  Paul the GM’s interpretation was light inside the darkness does nothing, but light right outside the darkness gives dim light…

Anyway, the harpy is apparently Kikkonu’s on again, off again girlfriend. We devised a plan – apparently she has falsely tried to make peace with him before five times, but only attacked him three of those.  We interpreted that as “the other two ended up in make-up sex” and a quick guy calculation assured us that a 2/5 chance of booty and 3/5 chance of being attacked means that he for sure would show up for time #6.

Have you heard of the excellent “Combat as Sport vs. Combat as War” essay? Well, we’re firm believers in combat as war. As a result no one was disappointed when our well executed ambush killed us a hellclown in 2 rounds.

That mostly cleared the castle. We then wandered around investigating and running afoul of haunts and random animals. The fact that the ballroom was completed but the defensive works were not earned our scorn.  “What, was this place built by elves or something?”

Bjorn about dies by going and poking every damn critter in the place, mainly as an excuse to exercise his poorly chosen Favored Enemy: Animals.  Of course it turns out nothing is an animal.  That giant killer water bug? Vermin.  Ha ha ha ha urg.

Finally, we get several pages of story development. We discover how Brinewall fell! And find the ghost of my grandpa! And we find out Ameiko is next in line to be Empress! And that we have to go to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings to seek our ancestral katana! And when we pull out, not-fairy Spivey comes with us!  BADGE HOLOCAUST!

Next time, we take a side trek to the Rift of Niltak hoping for gold and glory.

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 5

Fifth Session (14 page pdf) – We decide to sneak into Brinewall Castle the back way and as a result get the dubious reward of hitting the boss monster first, a hideous tentacle god. There is much probing. Then we rescue a barbarian chick from some holding cells. And there is much probing.

When we got back to the caravan to rest, we got a kick out of trying to explain what was going on to the NPCs.  “The place is full of humanoids that are like Heckle and Jeckle meet Bullhead and they’re lead by a hellclown who loves live theater! But the fairy who’s not a fairy helps us.” I think they assumed we had been spending our time smoking crack in an abandoned ruin.

Them we did something either clever or stupid, we’re still not really sure in retrospect.  We reasoned there certainly had to be some kind of secret tunnel exit and we searched around for it and found one!  But it led us right to the entire castle’s boss monster – some kind of demonic flying decapus that farted on us and just about killed us all in one go.  Being tactics guy, I got us to fall back into a more constrained space where it couldn’t fly, and Harwynian really came through by Webbing it.  The endgame was really intricate – it was still getting spells in on us and we couldn’t really hurt it.  But then it Scorching Rayed at us burning a tunnel through the Web.  V’lk shot it and got a critical; Paizo crit cards (in the form of the iCrit iPad app) said “nerve center!” and it was stunned for the rest of the combat.  And I got to finish it with a Fist of the North Star quote. Then we pulled the hell out of there because we were really messed up.

Once we’re not bleeding so much, we reinsert and free an Ulfen woman from an ogre jailer. I tried to make Viking-nice with her and it seems like it worked, she joined our caravan, and it got us a badge!

Then it was just freeform dungeoneering in the castle.  Some high points:

Gobo finds a secret door that leads out into a maze of tunnels leading deeper down. Hiro says, “Must lead to the Darklands! Hey wait… I hope that “third vault” prophecy doesn’t mean, like, the third vault of Orv because that would be f*cked up.”

“Shut the door!” cries Hiro.
“He chopped it down!” replies Jacob.

Bjorn vomits helpfully on a troglodyte.

Bjorn goes first, singing the battle-song of his people (“I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes; I saw the sign”).

Stairs continue up. Jacob says, “The hellclown is probably up there!”
Gobo replies, “But it was downstairs last time.”
V’lk signs “two.”
“Oh, you think there‟s two of them?” V’lk nods.
“Makes sense – it takes two tengu to tango!” says Hiro. He holds out his fist to V‟lk. “Blow it up!” V’lk declines grumpily.

We end with a nice cliffhanger – upstairs in a study we find the hellclown’s play, and Jacob just knocks it off the desk and bellows a challenge, much to our horror. Next time, we’ll find out what all responds!

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 4

Fourth Session (13 page pdf) – We hit Brinewall Castle and it’s full of dire corbies. As if those aren’t bad enough, then there’s mutant ogrekin and a hellclown! The hellclown that killed V’lk’s family! Run away! Run away!

Here’s his rendition of the hellclown (with the start of Brinewall Castle in the background)…

We’re into the eponymous part of The Brinewall Legacy, the first chapter of the Jade Regent Adventure Path.We start out with a reefclaw fight. I’ve mentioned before how stupid the aberration rules are – basically, since they prescribe certain stats due to universal monster rules, every bottom-dwelling mutated thing – reefclaws, otyughs, etc – all technically have quite good INT scores, like chess-playing level INT scores.  But of course they have no civilization and just lurk alone in holes and eat poo. Of course Bjorn especially feels wronged by all this; he took favored enemy: animals as a ranger.  And nothing is an animal. Oh, it might look like an animal – but no, it’s an “aberration” or “vermin” or “magical beast…”

Anyway, then we fought some dire corbies!  They are like Heckle and Jeckle on steroids. You may remember them from the 1e Fiend Folio. As we fought, I could not help but repeat over and over again to myself…

The raven sings
The raven saw
And in the corn
He sayeth, ‘CAH’

If they get you in the clear they pounce and get like five attacks on you. We learned our lesson from that and never let them get a head start to pounce again!

When we went into the castle, there was “grunting and meaty slapping” from a courtyard.  You might imagine what we thought of that.  When it turned out it was some mutated ogrekin wrassling, Hiro wanted to beat them down and take them alive. But when V’lk went running up to them he got one-shot KOed! There was a lot of yelling “You just got knocked the fuck out!” as a result. This excited Jacob who just started swinging his two-handed sword.  Luckily we managed to take them alive anyway.

After a vicious fight with an ogress, we met the boss – technically a yamabushi tengu, but as we don’t know that term we call him a “hellclown.”

He and his corbies chased us all the way out of the castle and we holed up in a building in town, injured and out of spells, but they found us.  I ascribe our survival to me taking a strong hand with tactics – I made Bjorn get in the door with me behind him with my glaive, and used my magical wakizashi to do a shield other on him. Everyone else shot out the windows as we cut them down one by one as they tried to enter; double attacks from us but spread out damage from them. Bruce didn’t really get many of the details in the summary (he Skypes in, so tactical combat is challenging for him). Whoo, it was a real sphincter clenching moment, definitely the fight so far that really could have just killed us all. But we’re not out of the woods yet…

Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy, Session 3

Third Session (9 page pdf) – We travel across Varisia and see the sights, until we reach Brinewall.  Ameiko falls mysteriously ill and we go recon the town, which is mostly intact but abandoned. What caused its sudden abandonment? We mean to find out.

We’re still going in The Brinewall Legacy, the first chapter of the Jade Regent Adventure Path. Apparently the first major arc in and around Sandpoint isn’t even half the chapter!

As we open in Sandpoint, V’lk continues to torment the local Sczarni for no real good reason. Then we get on the road in our caravan.  We manage to avoid “caravan combat,” which is for the best, and basically just have a travelogue of Varisia for a while.

I got to roleplay Hiro’s somewhat naive side… He was raised by his strict and somewhat assholey dad and then was shipped off to Chelaxian military academy. “Dad always said that the Varisians are a dog people…”  And he’s learning the samisen from Ameiko.  Note that in our previous Rise of the Runelords campaign, fratricide Tsuto Kaijitsu went to jail and wasn’t killed, hence that reference here.

As a result of our Riddleport-based Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign I run, neither hell nor high water can convince our band of only second level adventurers to go to Riddleport. I’ve done my job as a GM; the group is sure they will all be robbed and rape-murdered if we go within 60 miles of the place.

The one downside was that the relationship rules started to get stupid. The Jade Regent Player’s Guide has these rules for relationships with the primary NPCs, with the intent that you build up point after point for a long time so that they’ll like you. (Apparently I need to “gain faction” with my own sister?) Anyway, it seems like giving gifts is the surest way to a quick +1 and so you’ll notice a couple gift buying and giving frenzies, ending up with Bjorn finally being rebuffed after buying a puppy for Shalelu.

I don’t mind relationship mechanics but I don’t like when they are too exposed – it makes the relationship between us and the NPCs forced and mechanical. I can spend an evening learning the samisen from my sister, but that doesn’t get a point, just the list of things in the ruleset… With new NPCs we meet, we have to be concerned about are they “special” NPCs we should track faction with to generate relationships or just normal NPCs we make relationships with the old fashioned way. Bah.

We finally get to Brinewall and scout the place out, it looks interesting.  Most entertaining is meeting Spivey, the “lyrakien azata” who lives in the graveyard.  She looks like a little fairy. She’s clearly a fairy.  Why would you have an outsider that just looks exactly like a fairy but it’s not because it’s from some made up outer plane? It’s just like the undead that aren’t undead because they are <some excuse here>. Anyway, she’s nice, even if the fact she’s a not-fairy is retarded.

Next time, we hit Brinewall Castle like a load of bricks!