Sunday, August 10, 2014

First Game of Pathfinder in the World of Xhuul

Yesterday, I GM'd the first game of Pathfinder set in the World of Xhuul, my home-brew campaign setting.  The campaign is centered around the City-State of Throxia ,which I am borrowing from Scott of the now defunct Huge Ruined Pile blog.  For this campaign, I am using the Emerald Spire mega-dungeon from Paizo, but adapting it for my campaign world.

The party consists of a Human Fighter named Malik, a Human Cleric named Arkon, a Dwarf Rogue named Brogan and a Gnome Sorcerer named Kord.  They started the adventure in Throxia at a local tavern named The Headless Harlot where many adventurers and fortune-seekers hang out.  Word going around was that a wizard of the Order of Saiboth (the major wizard's guild in Throxia) was seeking adventurers for a job.  Kord, the gnome sorcerer approached the wizard that was sitting in the corner table at the back of the tavern and introduced himself and inquired about the job.  The wizard, Ilaria Storen told him that she wanted a party to find and rescue two missing wizards named Tiawask and Jharun of the Order who went to the ruins of The Emerald Spire several weeks ago to research magic portals.  They have not returned.  She is willing to pay a sizable reward of 2,000gp for each wizard rescued.  She explained that the Emerald Spire is a local dungeon outside the walls of Throxia in the area of ruins beyond known as the Badlands.  The party assembled, purchased some last-minute gear and headed out the following morning into the Badlands towards the Emerald Spire.  The trip to the ruins is a short hour and a half hike through the ruins, and rubble piles of the ancient city, which appears to had been primarily destroyed when the structure of the great geodesic dome collapsed in the distant past.  Some areas have been overgrown with vegetation, and some areas are open clearings.  The Badlands are the domain of bandits and dangerous monsters that lurk and hunt among the ruins.

The party did not encounter any wandering monsters and when they reach the location of the Emerald Spire, they were told by Ilaria that it was situated past a small clump of jungle that ringed the Spire, which itself sat in the middle of a 500 yard clearing in the middle.  The party searched the area for any signs of a camp possibly made by the wizards, but given the fact that several weeks had gone by and the fact that the steamy jungles that surround the outer perimeter of the Badlands cause daily rain showers that last several hours, would have eliminated any tracks.  With that, the party approach the ruins of the Emerald Spire and make their way up a worn trail that winds its way of an escarpment of rubble to a rough sized hole in the green glass-like walls of the structure.  Arkon casts light spells on himself, Malik and Kord.  Brogan, being a dwarf has darkvision and did not need such magical aid.  Entering the structure, one thing became clear, some magic effect absorbed the light so that the light of the spells only produced normal light in a 5-foot radius.  Beyond this radius, it was darkness, so that Kord's low-light vision was useless.  Brogan was unaffected and could see perfectly in the dark.

In the module, the first level of the dungeon is written to be inhabited by Goblins, Goblin dogs and a Bugbear leader.  In my campaign world, I decided I didn't want most of the standard humanoid monster races, so Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins and Bugbears don't exist.  I replaced the monsters on the first level with Kobolds instead and tweaked the encounters.  Needless to say, the first encounter with 4 Kobolds with 1 level in Ranger made it a CR 3 encounter and the party had a challenging time.  There were two things that made the encounter tougher.  The first level has a magic effect that absorbs light, so any light source only radiates light in a 5-foot radius.  Beyond this 5-foot zone, it is normal darkness, so even a race that has low-light vision would not benefit from it.  Another thing was the floors are littered with rubble and half-melted chunks of a greenish glass-like material, making it difficult terrain.  The Kobolds are not affected by it, so this slowed the party down, but gave the Kobolds better tactical advantage to run around firing their short-bows.  Things looked grim as there were some crappy attack rolls on the party's behalf and my rolls were scoring some decent hits, but small-sized shortbows being what they are, the damage was low.  The favored enemy of the Kobold Rangers were Human and since Arkon and Malik are human, they took more damage when they were attacked.  Kord the gnome helped make things a little easier by the smart use of a Dancing Lights spell which enabled him to light up a larger area with four dancing lights, using them to overlap their 5-foot radius light to make it easier to spot the Kobolds who kept retreating out of the light radius from those who had the Light spells cast on them by Arkon.

During the encounter, the Kobolds made it a habit to fall back out of the area of light as the party moved to engage them, thereby gaining advantage of not being seen and leading the party further into the ruins.  The Kobolds were trying to lure the party into a trap, but were not able to trigger it as they were eventually killed.  The party did discover that the room that one of the Kobolds retreated to had a pull-rope anchored to a wall and that on the following round if it was still alive would have pulled on it, which would have dropped a large pile of rocks in a 10 foot area, most likely burying them.  In the same room they found a concealed tunnel covered over by a sheet of canvas painted green to blend into the green color of the glass-like walls.  It was a narrow, 4-foot tall tunnel.  Brogan decided he would scout it, but took the precaution of tying a rope around his waist and had the party hold one end.  He stated he would tug the rope which would be the signal for them to pull on it together in case something bad happened, so they could pull him out.

Brogan followed the tunnel for about 40 feet before it ended in a sheet of green-painted canvas.  He could tell there was a chamber beyond and decided to listen for any noises.  He could hear breathing and he slowly lifted part of the canvas to peek into the room where he saw 2 Kobold guards sitting at a small table with four chairs.  He then decided to go back to tell the others, but his Stealth check wasn't good enough against Kobold's Perception, which I gave a penalty to as they were not expecting any trouble.  This prompted them to investigate and move aside the canvas sheet that covered the hole only to see Brogan moving away and they attacked, firing at him with their shoet-bows.  These were much weaker Kobolds, but the players had no idea of that.  Brogan pulled on the rope and the party began assisting in pulling him back.  The Kobolds entered the tunnel, giving chase and continuing to fire at Brogan.  Managing to exit the tunnel where he had entered back into the room where the party was, Brogan ran towards the back of the party.  The Kobolds rounded the corner in the tunnel, seeing the party and began to fire into the room with their bows.  It was a short battle and the party learned these Kobolds seemed much weaker.  These were Kobolds with only 1 level of Warrior, so they only had 5 HP, whereas the Kobold Rangers had 15 HP and better AC.

We ended the game there as time ran out since one of the players had to leave.  The party had taken a beating and they were low on spells, so they decided to camp in the dungeon by barricading themselves in a guard room in a tower the Kobold Rangers they killed were stationed.  This is a terrible idea.   Their best bet is to go back to Throxia since it is only an hour and a half trek back and this is an active Kobold lair.  The odds of them being interrupted during their rest is going to be very high.  As for loot, they have only so far found a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds and mostly just the gear, weapons and armor the Kobolds carried.

This campaign world is low-magic, so there really isn't a magic item economy.  The knowledge of creating magic weapons, armor, wands, wondrous items etc., has been lost.  The only magic that can be made and purchased as potions and scrolls.  This will make any magic items they find rare and precious commodities.  Also, there is no Raise Dead or Ressurection magic.  There are the Genesis Vats where you could be regrown, but that can have some strange and unwanted side effects.

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