Good morning all! I hope you have had an excellent Christmas and are looking forward to New Years Eve in a few days. My Christmas was particularly good this year so I want to share the cheer around.
One of my regular players +Cam Mcloughlin had a mate visit him this week, who had heard of Pathfinder but never played it. He is a long time role-player and was keen to have a game with us while he was here. Because of Christmas and family commitments from other players there was to be no regular game this week that would suit him slipping in to the campaign. Plus, the visiting Cam preferred characters in the lower levels than those who were level 10+. Now as I wanted to show him a game of Pathfinder and all of my regular players have alternate characters ranging from 6th to 8th level in my homegrown campaign I decided to get together those that could make it and run Paizo’s contribution to Free RPG Day of 2012 (June 16 it was), titled Dawn of the Scarlet Sun which can be downloaded in PDF form for free here.
|The miniature pack
I had bought a miniature pack called the Champions of Evil, that was released in around February or March of this year that was for use with this particular module (also available from Paizo here). I had read the module a while ago and liked it. It was a short (one session) intriguing adventure that was easily transferrable to any campaign or location. I had largely been playing my regular Cam’s character recently and he had gotten himself stranded on Shark Island in the Shackles. This allowed me to utilise this module as a way for him to secure passage off the island as part of the payment and with a little fiddling I managed to get Courtney’s and Mark’s character in place for the game. We organised it for Thursday, I reread the module and come Thursday Cam came to play his Dwarven Gunslinger named Balthazar Firebeard (who is the son of a Contract Devil), Courtney to play her homegrown half-dragon race Ranger Nala, Mark his Dwarven Cleric of Cayden Calean Streg the Wanderer and the visiting Cam made up a Human Thief called Amul-Ravi.
The game ran pretty well and I have to hand it to Paizo for producing a good module for free. It had intrigue, role playing and interesting combat, especially the end encounter. The players were largely in control all the way through the module until this final encounter. The succubus managed to fool them into believing she was a hapless victim and managed to paralyse the visiting Cam’s thief for the maximum amount of rounds. She teleported away and successfully summoned a demon to hold up any fleeing attempt. She then returned to the chamber to battle the players with her flaming blades. A succubus is a difficult opponent for a group at this level largely due to her damage reduction. Only one of the players (Courtney) had cold iron, and it was in the form of arrows. By the time she realised the cold iron was the way to go the succubus was already causing chaos. Also, I decided in the first round that a demon was summoned it would attempt to summon another (it had a 40% chance to do so). One failure would have stopped the Demon incursion but I summoned eight of them in a row with under 40 rolls and the party were in a world of hurt. There was only one way out (Mark’s Cleric had learnt dimension door but he could only take himself and two others so it looked grim. He attempted to go but failed his defensive casting check and got knocked unconscious with an attack of opportunity, ruling out any escape.
Now, just to take us out of their predicament for a moment, I need to reveal some of the past adventures with Balthazar to explain the culmination of the module. Balthazar has largely through his career been a solo play character. He had a backstory developed by +Cam Mcloughlin that heavily relied on the game Skyrim and he also had a couple of quirks that he allowed me to “fill in the blanks” for. One of them being the Contract Devil. His character’s path has been heavy in plot (as solo play tends to be) and much of it has involved his father attempting to coerce his son into signing his soul away to “join the family business”. For about four of his six levels Balthazar has lived with a constant reminder (in the form of voices in his head or travelling companions appointed by his father) to join him in his work and he has steadfastly resisted any urge to do so. In fact, he has built up a healthy hatred of his father’s interference and seeks actively to find ways to stop him, permanently.
|The final state of play
It is with this in mind that it took me completely by surprise when Balthazar called to his father. If Streg would not take some of them away then it would have been a TPK (Total Party Kill) for sure! I was amazed at this turn of events, and a little bit too happy at the time that I had finally snagged him in an agreement. One that he willingly signed off on. So the Contract Devil who shall now be known as Mr. Fireblood (a name Balthazar refuses to admit to) managed to banish the extraneous demons and then demanded that Balthazar stand with him side by side and destroy the accursed succubus with him as his first act.
So with a fine act of unexpected sacrifice the game ended. What had started as just a one off adventure to introduce a long term gamer to Pathfinder grew into so much more for my overall plans for my campaign with Balthazar, and a turning point for the character himself. All the other players were shocked and intrigued and the visitation and Balthazar’s signing a contract. All Balthazar had wanted was to ensure his friends successfully escaped the battle, which Mr. Fireblood achieved quickly. I now have the time and leisure to build the contract that he signed and did not read at the time due to the immediacy of battle. To quote Hannibal from the A-Team “I love it when a plan comes together!”. So much so I did an impromptu happy dance at the conclusion of the game.
So, with the encounter behind me I am back in Serpent Skull mode. We are playing later this afternoon (Saturday) and hopefully the group will start to draw near the end of the fortress that they are moving through and into the next and final module. Until the next post, have a happy and safe New Years Eve celebration!