Thursday, July 16, 2015

Iron Gods (Backwards) The Story So Far (Part III: Lords of Rust)

This continues the overview of what's happened in my Iron Gods Pathfinder game prior to the current adventure The Choking Tower. Part I covered character creation and campaign background, Part II covered Fires of Creation, the first adventure and this post will summarize the second, Lords of Rust. As with Part II this is going to summarize a published adventure and will obviously consist entirely of spoilers, consider yourself warned.

Lords of Rust


The party left Torch and traveled (overland and by boat) to Chesed and checked in with the League offices there. Captain Merisk Kaffuan, the local commander and League spymaster, wasn't especially concerned with the news of Pauldris Gray (especially since the PCs left him severely brain damaged), though the word was passed on to Ghartone (who was offering a bounty for Gray). Each of the PCs used Sending to check in with their patrons.

Ankul Bitor was given a mission to get some slaves from the market outside of town (Chesed has a very gray anti-slavery law due to an intervention by Aroden in the past) and take them to the Chapel of Rent Flesh hidden beneath Chesed. This introduced him to the Kytons and the Chapel. As a "reward" he had some brain surgery done on him while he watched in a mirror. He now has a permanent -1 Perception due to migraines, but gained the Pain is Pleasure Trait.

Modok spent some prestige to acquire an Arachnid Robot (Sparky) as a pet and the services of a League hireling (Keira) for one week.

They traveled downriver from Chesed to the area near Scrapwall, and along the way encountered a mysterious gunman who told them about a dungeon to the west that he barely escaped. He said it was a garden of illusions run by a creature that put him and his party to various tests. He escaped alone and is unsure of the fate of his companions.

Part 1: Aldronard's Grave


They arrived at Aldronard's Grave, an outpost on the Mendevian Crusade route. This particular outpost has fallen into disuse due to the fact that it is haunted by the ghost of Aldronard a paladin of Sarenae who committed suicide there and is currently manned by a skeleton crew. When the PCs arrived the outpost had been taken over by members of the Smiler gang from Scrapwall (so called because of their use of a drug called Soothe to give them Joker-esque rictus grins).

The PCs defeated the Smilers and rescued the five surviving members of  the outpost's staff: Andolen Krankos, a paladin, and three fighters (Rezouln, Tinae, and Sindrae). The paladin wasn't very happy being rescued by evil people, but he also was wise enough to know that he can't hope to fight them. He warned them not to try anything and reluctantly permitted them to camp in the courtyard.

From the smiler prisoners they learned some important suff: that the town is run by the Lords of Rust and that the Lords are mad because something happened in Torch. They learned the identities of the surviving Lords of Rust leaders and about Marrow, the leader of the Smilers.

Overnight, they investigated the ghost. They were able to convince him that his long dead lover;s long dead father had forgiven him, and he departed. As a reward Sarenae blessed them with a Heal (this I felt was a little odd; as there are potential Pathfinder characters like Damphirs that would be instantly killed by this "blessing" at this level, but whatever) and the ability to use Cure Serious Wounds as a spell-like ability once ever.

At this point the party decided to start doing everything at night, since they all had racial darkvision (except for Keira the NPC human rogue).

Part 2: Becoming Scrap-Worthy


The next night they went to investigate Scrapwall. The town is a giant junk heap of ruined spaceship parts, picked over nearly completely and run by a bunch of gangs. In this part of the adventure, they learned that the Lord of Rust, Helskarg (a female troll) will invite anybody who has a high enough local reputation (called "scrapworth") to fight her in the Arena to test if they are worthy to join the gang. They also learned that the Lords of Rust have some kind of deity-like thing that grants cleric spells called "Hellion", that generally everybody else agrees is some kind of abomination and definitely not really a god.

The PCs then went around doing various side-quests to get scrapworth.
  • They met with Dinvaya and delivered the message from Jorum Kyte. She agreed to help them until they were done with Scrapwall, and then plans to return to Torch. They managed to not blow their covers with her (she hates the League).
  • They dealt with some random encounters. Will-O'-Wisps are really tough monsters...
  • Freed the Steel Hawk gang from the Lords of Rust mandated control by Smilers
  • Killed Marrow the leader of the Smilers and ended the gang. Sparky was blown up here.
  • Freed a ratfolk ranger named Whiskerfisk and earned the gratitude of his sister, Redtooth, the leader of Redtooth's Raiders, a ratfolk gang, 
  • Killed a mutant manticore that was terrorizing the town
  • Explored a haunted valley and found the scoutship that was the source of the haunting, killed a (randomly Russian-Androfan for no obvious reason) wraith and got an Inhibitor Facet (which is an artifact that messes with AIs) and some explosives.
  • They blew up the receiver array that Meyanda was sending the power from Torch to. They also encountered a weird alien called a Rui-Chalak witch apparently is a mind stealing scout for something called the Dominion of the Dark. It managed to do it's thing to Balance, but not to any of the PCs (which apparently will have consequences later). Tebryn also used an insanely high Diplomacy roll to recruit three chokers (from the now defunct Thralls of Hellion) to help the party.
This is also where it begins to become clear that Lords of Rust is probably a homage to Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome. 

The players, being players wanted to engage in commerce with practically everybody they met, but Paizo neglected to give me any Settlement stats for Scrapwall. I made my own (next post, since I don't want to bury them in here with the spoilers).

After all of this, the week of Keira's service was up, so she took off.

Part 3: Hellion's Domain


The Lord of Rust troll, Helskarg invited the PCs to face her in her arena. The PCs fought her (and her Ogre drawn chariot). I learned that the vehicle rules make it really hard to actually run anybody over (unless you are two or more sizes smaller or incapacitated you can always just declare you are avoiding an Overrun and automatically succeed), despite the adventure saying that's what she does.

After defeating Helskarg the party investigated the Lords of Rust headquarters, a ruined giant excavator. There they encountered some huge monitors displaying a fiendish creature: Hellion. Hellion is supposed to taunt the PCs with extravagant threats while dropping hints about the overall plot of the campaign. He's also supposed to be "god" that has taken a fiendish appearance despite not having any knowlege of extra-planar entities. I ended up playing like a 12 year old metal fan's idea of the devil played by Macho Man Randy Savage...

I worked Balance into his (and Unity's) backstory fairly explicitly here as well.

The PCs took a day's break and came back to assault the excavator. They defeated Hellion's current high priest, the orc Nalakai and his acolytes. They realized that Hellion could use spell-like abilities through the monitors in the complex and started smashing them routinely. They found a huge battery that was storing the power stolen from Torch and Nalakai's journal (in Orc which they still haven't translated).

On the next level, they found the huge cavern that the excavator is buried in, and the excavator's control room. Hellion alerted his minions to the PCs presence (after casting Confusion on them, and turning out the lights; which might have been a problem if they didn't all have Darkvision...). The ensuing fight was pretty tough for the PCs, but ultimately they defeated the remaining strength of the Lords of Rust including the ettin, Draigs and the orc barbarian with the chainsaw, Kulgara.

I learned that it's really hard to get grenades to work in Pathfinder. You arm them as a free action and then they go off at the start of your next turn. This gives the enemy a pretty good shot at throwing them back at you. I think if you take a Ready you can throw it right before it goes off, but Ready has that weird thing where it resets your initiative order to the new position, so I'm not sure even that works. Any ideas?

The PCs were badly hurt in this fight and decided to come back the next day. Hellion took advantage of the break as best he could, but the PCs were able to clear his server room (now having figured out he's an AI) and install the Inhibitor Facet. Hellion was forced to shut down all his monitors and flee to his robot chassis. They got Kulgara's journal (which is apparently in Taldane for some reason) and got all the clues they needed for the next adventure: Unity made two copies, Hellion was one and Caslandee was the other, she was downloaded into an android and presumably died in the town of Iandenveigh.

They avoided any other fights in this section, and encountered the Xill, Zagmander. Zagmander wanted to parlay. She's cursed to be unable to return to the Ethereal plane (which causes her extreme pain) and offers to help the PCs if they can help remove her curse. Again Tebryn made some ridiculous Diplomacy Check and convinced her to help them fight Hellion, on the basis that Dinvaya might remove her curse.

The "boss-fight" with Hellion at the digging wheel was fairly anticlimactic. They'd crippled him with the Inhibitor and Modok is really really good at killing robots. 

At the end of the adventure the PCs (except Modok because he took the "anti-hero" option) got a bonus Hero Point.

The PCs ended the adventure:
Modok: Magus (Bladedroid, Kensai)/7 with 25 Fame
Tebryn Vonnarc: Magus (Eldritch Scion, Spelldancer)/7 with 26 Fame
Dagna Skyforge:  Magus(Soulforger)/7 with 24 Fame
Ankul Bitor: Magus/4 Alchemist (Vivisectionist)/1 Rogue/2 with 23 Fame

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