Finally back from a very long holiday came the mighty heroes of Ustalav, now ready to continue their journey and battle against the Whispering Way. This session consisted of Edgar the human cleric of Gond, Mutt the human barbarian, Colin the halfling paladin of Lathander, Galfur the dwarven inquisitor and Kia the human sorceress. The average party level was 11.
The heroes had done a fair amount of sidequestion up till this point, including a royal ball with Countess Caliphaso in which they got to meet some of the upper crust of Caliphas, such as Count Lucinean Galdana, count of Amaans who eagerly listened to the tales of the heroes’ deeds. Present was also Dr. Trice of the local asylum and Adivion Adrissant, a wise scholar and trader in the arcane arts who gladly spoke with the heroes about their journey and upcoming challenges around town. The Countess threw in a party to remember, in which the heroes got themselves hammered and high on drugs, thus starting a long sidequest of redeeming themselves. More about this in the side-quest update post of chapter 5 later on. For the same reason, this blog entry is rather short.
Thus we go back on the main plot.
To catch a killer when much is at stake!
The heroes had long argued whether the best way to catch their target would be to trail his few tracks back to wherever he got his supplies. From the vampire Kote they had received additional stakes found in the victims, all witnessing the same craftsmanship behind them, revealed by the twisting burn-marks around the bottom. From their conclusions they had likely been part of furniture once.
They therefore decided to snoop around for some information and finally realized that this solid handiwork originated from a carpenter by the name Willum, who resided in the north-eastern part of Caliphas. They arrived at sunset and were politely greeted by the halfling-carpenter and his two sons, who quickly identified this sort of tree as very sturdy and durable. They could easily recollect selling a bunch of chairs to a certain customer within the last few weeks, a man with a crooked nose and grey eyes, who always ended up dragging them down the street and disappearing. (In the original adventure, the carpenter is placed directly opposite of the tailoring-shop, but let’s not make things TOO easy. As one of my players remarked, why would the killer buy all his stakes at the same place anyway?)
The heroes thanked Willum and departed, trailing their suspect’s footsteps as closely as possible, till they reached a street with several small shops. They ended up asking around in the local tavern, in which the inn-keeper quickly pointed out their suspect and said that he was employed at the tailor’s further down the street; “The Nobleman’s Stitch”.
Dressed for the occasion
The heroes had a short gathering outside as to whether kick in the door, guns blazing, or taking the talkative approach. They settled for something in between, keeping a very nervous finger on the trigger. A quick walk around the house revealed a small set of stairs down to a tightly locked basement and the showcase windows revealed only illuminated mannequins in the dim streetlights. It wasn’t long till the tailor would close down for the night, so they decided to make a late visit.
Inside they were greeted by four shop assistants, one of the behind the counter bidding them welcome to The Nobleman’s Stitch, asking whether he could help them with something? They spoke casually for a bit, and Galfur and Kia quickly noticed his twitching movements and strange gaze, concluding that this man was dominated. Not wanting to waste precious amounts of time, Kia unleashed hell with a dispel magic and snapped the servant out of the trance. He screamed and ran, immediately resulting in spellcasting coming from behind the counter; more precisely – from the showcase-window. They identified the sound of invisibility spells being cast, and Galfur on his turn immediately cast an invisibility purge. As the remaining three dominated workers rushed to the intruders, three vampires flew out from the window, no longer posing as mannequins. (I made a woopsie here as this fight should more than likely attract some of the other encounters nearby in the shop, so after a couple of rounds I provided all the vampires with a couple of more caster levels to even stuff out. If you’re running this as a GM, remember there are additional encounters in the side-rooms and upstairs that would likely come to their aid : ) )
Edgar hastily cast a Death Ward on Mutt who flew into rage and hurled himself at the first vampire, his halberd of undead bane drawing glowing circles as it sliced through the air. It connected with the first vampire’s chest in a gory mess and soon after Galfur’s strike landed heavily in its back. As the two remaining vampires flew into position well above the floor they unleashed barrages of scorching rays towards the halfling paladin, severely crippling his hit points. To make matters worse, one of the dominated thralls succeeded in grappling him on the following turn, keeping the much valued smite evils out of the battle for some time. Inspired by the success of his colleague, the second shop-attendant made the same move and grappled Kia in the corner, while the third picked up an improvised weapon and started hammering on Galfur.Edgar blessed himself with another Death Ward, the power of Raven’s Head crackling through his incantations for every word, and to his pleasure noticed how the first vampire seemed unable to act against Mutt with its Vampiric Touch. Instead it turned to Galfur and unleashed a devious slam attack. It was to no avail however, and the vampire didn’t get far enough to evade the retaliation of steel which soon disintegrated it into a cloud of mist seeking towards its coffin.
Cleverly flying to a better strategic position, the remaining two vampires flew to the counter and unleashed two Cones of Cold on the party, making sure not to hit the valuable silk-drapes in the process. Both Edgar and Kia felt the pain from the chilling cold, but Colin was brought to the brink of death, with less than 10 hit points left. Luckily he managed to free himself from the grapple and move in on Edgar while channeling. The thralls close on their tails, Kia remained grappled and then unleashed a still fireball with selective targets, burning the vampires for a modest amount of damage. Mutt and Galfur knocked out a thrall and continued their approach, while Edgar cast a Heal spell on the paladin, allowing him to get off some well-earned holy shots. The vampires shifted their attention to Kia now and hurled a round of scorching rays against her, knowing she’d not be likely to reach the healer in time. As Kia was severely injured by the first barrage, Mutt managed to interrupt the second casting with his reach weapon and impale the nocturnal monster with a howl.
Not long after, the third vampire was killed by returned scorching ray along with some well-aimed arrows.
Silence then settled on the shop with spools of string and pieces of burned/frozen cloth slowly descending from through the air.
Colin went to the door and switched to the “Closed” sign.
As they rummaged through the store they found some coin behind the counter and some valuable cloth on the shelves. The heroes noticed an old set of stairs going up along with some old curtains covering doorways to other parts of the house. From outside they had noticed the two-floor structure of the building and therefore knew they had a lot more to cover. From some searching they went through the dressing rooms with their mirrors and also found an old kitchen along with some small rooms with supplies. They couldn’t help but notices, however, the presence of something sinister and evil from the south of the building. The part that had been turned into an old warehouse.
As they moved closer they did indeed find a rather large hall with plenty of barrels and crates, but most interesting was the dot of total darkness above them, from which the presence of evil originated. Colin, blessed with True Sight from the cleric immediately noticed three Nabasu demons and took initiative by shooting one of them. With a shriek the bat-like infernal beings dropped to the floor and another battle swiftly ensured. The demons unleashed their death-stealing gazes, but luckily the party had been swift enough to make sure the two Death Wards were still in place. Galfur, however, suffered negative levels in this approach. The demons then barraged them with mass hold person and in the process ended up holding Kia, Galfur and Edgar, leaving Mutt and Colin to deal with the rest. To make matters worse, a handful of foul ghouls made their way up through the floor, clawing at the heroes. (To be honest, I’m pretty sure Paizo mostly put them here for the slaughter. They’re great in regards to threatening the heroes who fail their saves against hold person, but that seems to be about it)
The demons split up in a triangle from the heroes, leaving them to bash away at their ghouls and breaking free from their held state. Most of them succeeded doing so on a full-round action, but poor Galfur wasn’t so lucky. Instead the demons hovered and unleashed Enervation spells on the dwarf. Rolling double 4’s the dwarf was….
Edgar invoked the power of his deity and with Raven’s Head tore apart all the ghouls. Meanwhile, Colin had the time of his life unleashing shots from his holy bow with plenty of smite evils to go. The three demons fell quickly and the party survived with only minor injuries. Deciding not to waste anymore time, Edgar cast Raise Dead on the dwarf and got him back on his feet, ready to explore the rest of the building. Behind the second curtain they found more changing rooms and a long corridor leading to a set of stairs down into the basement.
*Getting to the bottom of this!
They arrived in a large chamber, dimly lit and several doors. One of them led back out into the streets, whereas the others seemed very anonymous. They could, however, notice the faint sound of movement behind the southern one and a sense of sinister evil, so Mutte immediately kicked in the door.
There, in front of an iron grating upon which several dead vampires rested, stood a familiar face with his fellow conspirators. Radvir Giovanni looked at the heroes with an annoyed expression and snarled “You should NEVER have gotten yourself involved in this!”…
And that is a battle for the upcoming session next week.