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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
De Exilio
Chapter 4 — Annam's Heir
~ fourth-day, 24th of Nightal, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
somewhere over the Silver Marches


There was a gentle knock on Ilthian's cabin door. She got up off her pile of blankets and opened it.

   "Good morning! It is time for your writing lesson."

   "Solisar! Hakam fixed you!" She jumped up and down with delight.

   "Yes, yes, he did," said Solisar, "though I feel weaker than I felt before."

   "Did he fix Kytharrah also?"

   "Indeed, he is above deck now, standing at the railing. We are on our way back to the ice genie, and then we will be able to go wherever we want."

~~~~

"We cannot fly the spelljammer directly to Choshein," said Leokas emphatically. "I absolutely will not permit it. Whoever has been scrying on us will see that we have traveled there and know the location."

   The party were gathered below deck, as the ship sailed through the sky on its own wind power. Tavis and Kaedlaw were eating a second breakfast, and Kytharrah and Ilthian were practicing writing.

   "Not if we keep Ilthian in her room," said Belvin. "All the scrier will see is the wooden walls of the cabin."

   "As long as the scrier does not switch to scrying on one of us," said Solisar. "As of earlier, when I visited her, the scrier was still focused on her and not any of us."

   "It is a risk that we have to take," said Hakam.

   "No," said Leokas, "I cannot permit such risks, not while under the influence of this geas."

   "What do you suggest then? That we abandon the spelljammer somewhere in the desert, leave Ilthian behind on the vessel, and ride our camels to Choshein with Tavis and Kaedlaw?"

   "We are not going to abandon Ilthian," said Solisar.

   "It was not a serious suggestion," said Hakam. "I have a duty to see that she returns to her home."

   "I am more concerned about someone stealing our spelljammer, wherever we chose to leave it," said Szordrin. "The fact of the matter is that Ilthian cannot go anywhere near the portal to Jhothûn anymore, and we cannot leave her alone, so we are going to have to split up. We were nearly defeated by a small band of lamia when most of us were present; if they or another band of Shadovar or a blue dragon spot a sailing vessel in the desert, it will attract attention."

   "I agree," said Hakam, "but the spelljammer is less likely to be stolen at the entrance of the cave to Choshein than if we leave it over the desert and some of us travel on camel. Leokas, if Ilthian stays in her cabin, the scrier will not even know whether or not we have stopped."

   "A ship of this size can be spotted for miles, especially from the air," said Leokas. "We could avoid detection of our approach to Choshein on foot easily enough, but even if we are safe from the scrier, while some of us travel to Jhothûn, many hours may pass with the ship drawing attention to our location. As Szordrin said, there are indeed blue dragons in this desert. It is a miracle none have tried to take us out of their skies yet."

   "While some of you go to visit the ice genie, I can take this vessel into the heavens," said Belvin, "into the Sea of Night. Is not that where it was designed to sail?"

   "He is right," said Solisar. "From Szordrin's and my investigations, I am convinced that the magic force surrounding this craft will give us air to breath for the duration. No dragon can fly so high."

   "I can send Belvin a message to descend again and pick us up whenever the matter with the ice genie is resolved," said Hakam. "We will only need to have the ship anywhere near the entrance to Choshein for the brief time that it takes for those of us going to descend the rope to the ground. What say you, Leokas? Will the geas permit such a minor risk if ultimately it means that the emperor of Jhothûn has been found?"

   Leokas nodded.

   So this is what they did. For the rest of the day and into the night, first Leokas and then Szordrin piloted their flying vessel from the helm chair. Belvin remained at watch, scanning the skies for dragons or other dangers. They retraced the journey from Silverymoon up the river and to Fork Road and Ascore. By night, they flew over Ascore and Hlaungadath until they came to the edge of Anauroch's glacier. This they followed south-southeast until they came to a great corner in the wall of ice and began following it east-northeast. When daylight came, they were passing through a gap in a large north–south mountain range. From here, Leokas again took the helm, watching carefully with his extended senses the lay of the icy land as they headed north over the High Ice. When highsun came, they had at last arrived at the cave entrance to what was once a subterranean frost giant city.

   Leokas, Hakam, and Tavis and his son descended the rope to the ground, and the others waved them off as they entered the dark opening. Belvin then took the helm, as Solisar stood nearby.

   "Take us up," said Solisar.

   Belvin willed the ship to rise and continue rising. Solisar went quickly to the deck, where Kytharrah was standing at his usual spot on the railing. Szordrin was also present.

   "We are very high!" said the minotaur.

   "Yes," said Solisar, as indeed the ground grew farther and farther away, beginning to look less like land and more like a simple blur of white and yellow. "I have never been this high, and we are going much higher."

   "Why is the world bending?"

   "It is always round like a ball," answered the sun elf. "You only cannot tell because it is very big, and usually you are standing on it."

   "Is the sky getting darker?"

   "It is. We are entering the Sea of Night. We are flying into the always-nighttime where the stars live."

   "There they are! I see them!" The minotaur spun around pointing as the points of light became more and more visible as the blue sky faded away into the darkness of Realmspace. "I can still see the guiding light, even though it is night," said Kytharrah, pointing at the sun above them.

   "Ferry does not like this," said Szordrin. The camels seemed agitated as well.

   Belvin joined them on the deck. "High enough for you?"

   "I never knew that Toril would look so beautiful from up here," said Solisar. "Truly the Seldarine have blessed us to see such a sight."

~~~~


"One, two, three, step!"

   Leokas, Hakam, Tavis, and Kaedlaw found themselves under a gold-plated domed ceiling, painted with images of snowflakes and clouds. They were back in the Palace of the Emperors in Jhothûn.

   "Where are we, Papa?" asked Kaedlaw, who had had no experience of traveling through magical portals. "Where did the cave go?"

   "This may be our new summer home, Son," said Tavis. "Do you think that Mama will like it?" Tavis gazed around. "It is certainly more giant-sized than Castle Hartwick," he continued to no one in particular. "I will not have to worry about banging my head on things anymore."

   A cloud of bitter cold ascended from below until it was level with the wide, circular balcony on which the four visitors stood. The ice genie, the qorrashi, the last Prince of Jhothûn materialized before them.

   You have returned, my guardian. Have you completed your quest? Have you found the heir.

   "We believe that we have," answered Leokas.

   "We are certain that this young giant child has the blood of Annam's youngest son in his veins," said Hakam. "Whether the throne of ice and stone accepts him remains to be seen."

   [i]The blood of Arno and Julien?
Tavis cringed when he heard the genie's words in his head. Did I not explain to you that Ottar stood higher in the ordning than the ettin?

   "Yes," answered Hakam, "you did explain this, but you also told us of the prophesied last son of Annam, who had not yet been born, did you not? This boy here has the blood of both Arno and Julien and the prophesied final son. That final son was indeed born, far to the north in a little-known land of Hartsvale. The humans of that land called him Hartkiller, and his descendants still reign there to this day."

   "My wife," said Tavis, "the boy's mother, is a descendant of Hartkiller."

   "What manner of giant are you?" asked the Prince in Jotun.

   "I am a child of Othea and Ulutiu," said Tavis, bowing humbly. "I am a firbolg."

   The genie expressed confusion upon its frozen face. Does the boy have firbolg blood as well? No one with tainted blood could be the true heir.

   "The story is indeed complicated and unpredictable," said Hakam. "You will not believe it if you hear it first. Withhold your judgment; permit us let the boy sit upon the chair, and then we shall tell you strange plan that Annam has seemingly laid out. We also have learned the fate of Ottar, your liege."

   You discovered Ottar's fate?

   "He was betrayed and poisoned by Lanaxis," said Tavis. "I have seen his corpse with my own eyes."

   Lanaxis... did this?

   "We will tell everything," said Hakam. "May we go to the throne room? Our stories will matter not if the boy is not chosen."

   Come, said the genie. He floated down the large hall away from the portals, and they followed him. He led them to the end of the hall, where it intersected with a larger, window-filled one. They had come this way before, as it was the only way for non-flying creatures to descend to the lower levels of the palace. The qorrashi took them to the banquet hall where he had first told them of their quest. From there, they took a staircase and then another, down to the first floor of the palace. A short distance later, they entered a large rectangular chamber, supported by high narrow pillars.

   Here sat the "throne of ice and stone". It was large enough to seat a storm giant. The four feet of the throne were carved from rock and shaped like the skulls of white dragons. The rest of the chair looked to be carved from solid ice. The back of the chair appeared like thick icicles arranged side-by-side.

   Have the boy take a seat on the throne, said the Prince, but be ready to remove him should the chair reject him.

   "Go on, Kaedlaw," said Tavis. "Hop up in the chair."

   Kaedlaw went over to the throne. It was too large for him to be able to pull himself up onto it. Tavis came over and gave him a boost.

   As soon as his little — by giant standards — rump sat down on the square block of ice, the throne began to melt. Water pooled upon the floor, as the arm rests and icicle-back reduced in size. Within a few moments, the ice of the throne had shrunk down to fit Kaedlaw snugly, as if it had been carved to his size all along. Kaedlaw giggled. "The chair moves funny, Papa."

   "Is it cold?" asked Tavis.

   "No, just slippy."

   The genie floated over and circled the throne several times, examining it.

   "Stôllinn hefur validh." spoke the genie. Then he translated for them in their minds. The chair has chosen. So Ottar's dynasty is ended, and this unexpected child is both Annam and Ottar's heir. Then the genie floated low to the ground as if bowing low and swore fealty and service to Kaedlaw in the tongues of giants.
Session: 91st Game Session - Wednesday, May 31 2017 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Freedom gained
We have escaped, at long last, from the nightmarish asylum.

To do so, we had to kill several people who were beyond saving through no clear fault of their own, and quite a few who were...at least beyond our ability to save, though in their cases at least somewhat through their own fault.

It seems possible, based on what we have learned, that all of this tragedy was started by possibly well-intentioned people, one of whom was apparently our erstwhile employer, meddling in things he did not properly understand. I should temper that condemnation, and at the same time point out what may be another flaw for me to examine and try to overcome in my pursuit of perfection...I am not sure that I would have done differently in their positions. And I can't even call it too much of a stretch to imagine myself in their positions. I don't remember ever having much of a fascination with mental illness, but I can easily imagine coming to consider it a challenge to overcome in search of perfection. Could that somehow have to do with this recurring feeling that I have done something truly unspeakable?

I fear the answers may be beyond my reach, or that when I do find them I will wish I hadn't. For good or ill, however, we press on now to Thrushmoor, partly in search of those answers and partly because I don't think there is really anywhere else it makes sense to go next.

It seems that our travails have pushed me yet further along my own path, as well. Upon our escape, I have discovered that the Rescvelle blood finally seems to have awakened within me. Magic roils in the back of my mind and spins from my fingertips, and it is not the power I expected eventually to be granted by the Master of Masters. Although perhaps it is not completely devoid of his influence, as I also feel I have a greater ability to control my own fortune, and that is well within his purview...

(( d8 => [1] = 1 ; greed d8 => [1] = 1 ; drat))
Dice Rolls => Results = Total
d8 => [1] = 1
d8 => [1] = 1
Session: The Thrusmoor Terror, session 1 - Saturday, Oct 28 2017 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
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Tags: Irori , Journal , Level Up , Pace
Epic!
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Bobby
Posted by the GM
The Wounded World
Stay (10 Random Tips to Help Games Reach 20+ level)
Stay (10 Random Tips to Help Games Reach 20+ level)

1) Check Commitment Levels (Everyone/Pre-Game): Make sure your entire group is willing to commit to characters for that length of time, At medium progression a PathfinderRPG game played weekly (in 4-6 hour games) takes just a little between 1.5 and 2 years to hit 20th level. That is around 80 game sessions people are agreeing to attend to. This is NOT a casual thing. If it looks like this might be an issue, consider Fast Track experience. Make sure everyone is REALLY interested in that length of a game. A lot of people are, but you might be surprised how many aren’t willing to lock-in to that.

2) Plan for Change (Everyone/Pre-Game): Make sure you have backdoors in your story to allow for change in both players and characters. 80 sessions at Medium Experience is a lot to play. Most players will think of this as a privilege and treasure it. But, sometimes players make mistakes and over-commit. This can be to actual games or to a character concept that turns out to be less enjoyable to them than expected. Have a strategy for dealing with these situations. Don't make any one character too important in the meta-plot of the game until you know how well the player's experience is going. After a few campaigns you will probably know who you long term gamers are going to be and you can build stories with respect to those known levels of engagement. Also see 10.

3) Outline the Story (GM/Pre-Game): Have an adventure outline and story-arc in mind for a large share of the scope of the game. I highly discourage a newer GM from running a total sandbox game until they feel very comfortable with the system. Sandbox games tend to be more wild and unpredictable. However, also remember a campaign is NOT a novel. Player agency is crucial to most gamers' enjoyment of the hobby. Make sure you get a player to have some degree of buy-in before you script out their "destiny."

4) Check GM Intentions (GM/Pre-Game): Realize that most GMs want to be their own players. This is hard to grasp sometimes but every GM is by nature going to create the game experience THEY want to have. The key here is understanding that a GM does not run for themselves, they actually will get the least fulfilling "player experience" at the table and they should understand that their players might have different desires, wants, and even needs. This is VERY hard to learn. If you want to tell a story with a definite end and strict requirements of the cast of characters, write a novel instead.

5) Know Your Players & GM (Everyone/On-Going):
Usually, a home playgroup is comprised of friends. But a lot of groups do start as strangers. The ability to come together over a game is a strong bonding agent. Sometimes people like each other rapidly and "jump in" to a long-term game without any real period of acquaintance or understanding. This can be amazing. Lifelong friendships can begin casually at a Convention or LGS. But sometimes we join forces with someone with radically different out-of-game views than ourselves. Make sure you can respect one another before trying to share a long-term game with them. Or institute a "table-only" protocol for a group of relative strangers and keep the game about the game.

6) Session Zero (Everyone): Have a Session Zero. It doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t have to take all night (I recommend planning for that though). It IS a very good idea to do. Level set story expectations, level set description intensity. Confirm commitment. Discuss player agency. Verify that people understand your GMing style and preferences. Talk to players about the kind of game they want. Let your players talk to each other. Make sure the energy feels good. Be willing to identify problems and warning signs.

7) Tear Down Vacuum Builds (Everyone/On-Going): In the current metagame for Pathfinder there are a LOT of resources to aid in character construction. A common player pitfall is to dive into this advice as "bible." Players commit to the "monk build" from so-and-so's guide and carry another gamer's opinions and baggage with them to your table. A player who knows nothing about your campaign. This in-turn can create dissonance with story-elements or cheapen the value of homebrewed rules content. Generally speaking vacuum characters are strong numerically and weak in terms of story integration.

8) Own Your Head-Cannon and House-Rules (GM/On-Going): It is vital as a game goes on to make changes for your table. The GM is final arbitrator of rules. Try to be aware of those changes. Log them if you need to. Nothing is more alienating to a new player than an established groups meta-myths and house-rules. If you have a lot of these consider codifying them. At the very least be willing to discuss them with new players and explain their origins without being defensive or overly "sovereign" about them. What works at your table WILL NOT work at every other table. To not rapidly "course correct" or overreact. Among a fantasy storytellers most important jobs is to create consistency and enhance verisimilitude. Changing rules weakens this fundamentally. So does hiding them. This also applies to alterations to a printed Campaign Settings history and storylines.

9) Let Go of Fear (Everyone/On-Going): Two years is a long time. Let people explore. Say yes to stuff. That can be new rules content for characters. It can mean letting them go off course for adventure. Let them ask you about the world you are creating with them. You might be surprised by your own answers. In my experience, people are too afraid. Afraid of losing control of games. Afraid of not being as powerful as another player’s character. Afraid to explore extremes of story or heroism because they are too worried about control or fairness or balance. If you want to build trust at the table, start by giving it.

10) Player Trajectory (Everyone/On-Going):
Be willing to address the monsters AT the table. Problem players happen. Usually it is a misunderstanding or lack of setting clear expectations. But sometimes it is a person who has not been looking for friends. They’ve been looking for an audience or rivals or worst of all.. victims. Be aware of player intention. If you sense that a player is moving in a direction that is detrimental to the well-being of your table or your campaign… question it. It doesn’t have to be an interrogation. But it is totally ok to as OOC why a player wants to do something that seems problematic. Once the motive is established it is easier to identify other work-arounds that work for everyone or to identify a damaging behavior earlier and dealt with it.

Look for more GM Advice here.
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You Ungrateful Punks!
Why with the blessings of Saint Cuthbert I have had a vision that I am in his favor and have been granted an additional Spell from his bounty. I am grateful.

Of course, I have had to march through swampy water, endure leeches of the most horrid variety, clouds of annoying insects and fight off a gigantic crocodile. Thank goodness for the lance training of Kilkennard. Forgive me, but if the old man thinks his son hasn't mastered the lance, he is quite mistaken. One charge, dead as a door nail. There was also that pair of two headed giants, too.

I keep thinking there must be a way to get back to a cushy academic appointment back in Verbobonc, with clean clothing, fine vestments and women, and wine to enjoy. The ladies certainly like a man of the cloth in plate mail. However, I will need to see our mission through. That boy has enthusiasm for battle that clearly stands between me and my appointment. I guess it might just be a form of penance. Sigh.
Session: Game Session #131 - Wednesday, Jul 12 2017 from 10:15 PM to 1:15 AM
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Tags: Level 6 , Level Up
Epic!
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Dale
Posted by the GM
Tyranny of Dragons
Session 41 (16 March 2017) Thay
Thay turns out to be creepy and harrowing.

The party is met by another Red Wizard and a group of undead wights who escort them to a sumptuous set of apartments with an scrumptious banquet laid out in the common room. They are told that they will be called for on the morrow and are cautioned that, while they are no means prisoners, it would be unwise to leave the apartments as the halls are patrolled by undead guards who can be ... indiscriminate.

The eat and sleep. In the morning a delightful breakfast has been laid out: they eat that. They wait. And wait. A group of undead servants brings a delightful lunch. They eat that. And wait some more.

Finally, in mid-afternoon they are brought before the Tharchion. Rider recognizes that she is a vampire and offers her some of his blood - she declines remarking that if she wanted it she would just take it. The party is debriefed as to "the story so far" and they forget that they should always address a Thayan official by title. This among other things, notably their failure to permanently destroy the Thayan traitor Rath Modar counts against them and they are dismissed: they will be informed of Thay's decision in the morning.

That night each of them is subjected to the most horrific nightmare where they are alone in a boiling cauldron secured by chains and tentacles and surrounded by unknown Red Wizards who subject them to "enhanced interrogation techniques". The questions all dwell on their failure to destroy Rath Modar, the intention of the council and the weaknesses of the other members of the party. Some lie and some tell the truth but all are called "Liar!" and subjected to the most excruciating pain they have ever felt.

In the morning they awake to bloodstained sheets and are summoned to hear Thay's answer: no. With a wave of his hand the Red Wizard Nyh Ilmichh teleports them to a small farmhouse which they discover is about a mile north of Waterdeep.

Walking dejectedly back to the city they are accosted by a group of non-hostile dragon cultists who ask if the party will meet their "master" who represents a faction of the cult opposed to Severin and his ambitions for Tiamat. This master turns out to be a bone devil who styles itself Lord Volmer and informs them that it represents a number of the Lords of Hell who are, for their own reasons, opposed to Tiamat's release from Avernus. He offers the party a contract (8 encyclopaedic tomes in 8 point font) to enlist the aid of these devil's hosts in the struggle. The party decides this is above their pay grade and takes the contract to the Council for their lawyers to peruse.

Feeling pretty flat about their failure, the party makes their way to Xonthal's Tower ...
Session: Session 41 - Thursday, Mar 16 2017 from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM
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