The Kingmaker

"Enter the Stolen Lands, a wilderness claimed by nobles, bandits, and beasts alike. Into this territory the fractious country of Brevoy sends its emissaries, tasking them with subduing the lawless folk and deadly creatures that have made it a realm of savagery and shame. Beyond the last rugged frontier stretches the home of voracious monsters, capricious fey, wily natives, and bandits who bow to the rule of a merciless lord none dare defy. Can the PCs survive the Stolen Lands, bring their dangers to heel, and lay the foundations of a new kingdom? Or will they just be one more fateful band, lost forever to the ravenous wilds?"

The Stolen Lands, a wild lawless place awaiting the hand of strong justice. A politically ambiguous place where many parties vie for control. Into this cauldron of woe walk five heroes-in-the-making to create their own nation. Patriots—but to what cause?

Kingmaker is a Pathfinder Adventure Path role playing game published by Paizo Publishing under the terms of the Open Game License. It provides a rich backdrop for a group of pioneers as they attempt to bring civilization to a wild, untrammeled land. This website is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Publishing.

This blog represents the letters of one of these characters, Marquand, a bitter, righteous man—an Inquisitor defending his faith in the deity Erastil against all the enemies of civilization.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Letter Nine--Justice Received

“A ferocious worg stalks the KamelandsI” began the notice posted to Tuskland’s News Bureau—a huge tree felled in the days of the Stag Lord. “. . . and he’s been eating bandits and hunters for years.” Another monster for us to fight, dear Erastil, your world seems full with them. My eyes hurry to the bottom of the missive. “The kingdom approves a reward of 1,200 gp to the heroes who slay Howl-of-the-North-Wind.”

They’re singing our song.

Another poster stated: “A local herbalist has found that the sap of a shambling mound works wonders for cultivating certain medicinal herbs. 600gp for the sap, along with 3 potions of cure moderate wounds."

I walked down to where we were celebrating the opening of our new Municipal Community Public Library (MCPL). Featured speaker at the event was an artist named Trinia Sabor from Korvosa. (I know you attended her workshop.) She sang the long, sad ballad that’s sweeping Avistan right now, Sneffles y Cordobles. Let this cautionary tale be a lesson to you, Pino, to never let your reach exceed your grasp. I admit that, beside the central tragedy, the story is very amusing, especially her description of the angry cross-dressing halfling known as Finarfin/Findis. Another lesson for you, dear girl, this time about how zong addles the brain.

I ran into Piea, who told me that Arven sent a letter asking her hand in marriage. “I’m fond of him, but his lazy eye bothers me,” she admitted. “I thought about it—I could gouge out that eye and get him an eyepatch,” she added enthusiastically. “He would look cool!”

After the reception our crew gathered down by the town well to decide which problem we should address first. Since we knew where we might find a shambling mound we decided to head north where we’d encountered one of its kind over a year ago.

It’s much easier getting around, of course, with the roads we’ve built. We encountered many a pilgrim making their way south to find new lives in our fair land—all the more reason for us to eliminate the dangers that remain. Above us, once again I spied the raven that so often tracks our progress. I would dearly like to know what it makes of all this hubbub.

We were wandering around a field looking for shambling mound spoor when I clumsily slipped in a pile of its flop. I fell hard enough that I was concussed, seeing little birdies ’round my head. I heard Bert Askew laugh and saw him pointing before his jaw suddenly dropped and he hightailed off in fright as two of the ferocious creatures suddenly emerged from a nearby gully.

Lev used a line of cold to great effect as Cane put several arrows up their backsides.

Both mounds attacked Piea, hurting her severely. Sizzles ripped a chunk out of one, but it hardly noticed. Lev fumbled his next spell, falling stunned to the ground. I prayed that we could keep the mounds from sucking out his vital juices while he recovered. Piea hacked one as it passed her and Cane poured arrows into the other but when Piea attacked again it brutally took her down.

Seeing her lying there bleeding Kelm ran to her side, heedless of danger. “I am the chosen one!” he cried.

But even he couldn’t stop the marauding mound from attacking her again. Fortunately, by this time, I’d recovered enough to lop a huge gelatinous chunk off its top, exposing its brain and putting an end to its foul and profane life.

“Somebody give me those healing kajiggers,” Piea pleaded as Kelm put a soothing hand to her forehead, bringing a flood of relief from a spell of healing.

The other mound continued giving us what-for but I could tell that it was losing heart. Perhaps it was sickened by what I’d done to its companion. Except for laming Sizzles we quickly pruned it back until Kelm strolled over and put the kibosh on it. He then joined Piea in a rousing victory song.

“Let’s get some sap from these things,” Lev said when they had finished. We built a huge fire, cutting the creatures into pieces that we then fed into a cauldron normally used to boil brine into salt. We left Bert Askew to tend the fire overnight and, of course, he immediately fell asleep. We took turns managing the fire for the rest of the night without waking him until the smell of coffee roused him with the dawn. If he was surprised at finding the bladders containing the Mounds’ renderings already loaded onto the horses and the cauldron scoured clean he didn’t say so.

For our trouble we got:
1200 gold
3 potions of cure moderate wounds

A few days later we were back in Tuskland, sitting on the veranda at the Stumble Inn having breakfast while debating which area we should explore next. After her recent smackdown Piea was filled with urgent bloodlust, wanting to mix it up with the lizard men down south. That’s when Tig Tannerson’s mother came running up the street to say that Tig has been missing for nearly two days.

“We were ’oping he’d just run off to shag one o’ the neighborhood girls,” she said breathlessly, “but they was all in school this morning!”

“Oh goodness!” Lev replied gravely, while the rest of us groaned.

What gets into lads like Tig and Little Billee? I suppose they need a good chastisement from a sharp-tongued whip or maybe runes of discipline burned into their arms but, really, I’d rather face a shambling mound.

We wondered if he might have returned to the Old Beldame but Mrs. Tannerson assured us that Skot Skevins had already ridden there to ask. She led us to the last place where he’d been seen (a hidden place where smokers gather). Sizzles sniffed around intently as Cane turned over a few rocks. With a yip the great wolf ran south as Cane beckoned us to follow. We followed Tig's tracks along the shore of the Tuskwater, examining the places where he stopped to skip rocks or snack on hoe cakes and cheese. We then crossed the Gudrun River where he’d spent the night, reaching the confluence of the Tuskwater with Candlemere Lake. We continued following the shoreline south until we were once again gazing out over the water at the haunted Tower thinking, hoping, “surely not.” Fortunately his tracks continued around the southern end of the lake, crossing the Shrike River west, where we found another dead campfire.

Maybe Cane should take this boy under his wing and make a Ranger out of him. The lad has both courage and chootzpah to strike out over this wild land alone. These are qualities that should be encouraged and channeled.

At the mouth of the Murque River a low muddy hummock protruded from the middle of the stream. It was surmounted by a palisade of outward facing sharpened wooden stakes. We watched thin tendrils of smoke rise from a handful of huts clustered around a single large mound. Tig’s tracks had disappeared but in their place we found the clawed hind feet of lizard people. In all probability, we decided, he had been picked up and carried back to the village. Leaving our horses with Bert we crossed over the knee-deep water to a simple wooden gate on the eastern side of the hummock.

“Hmmph,” Kelm grumbled, needing an excuse to roust them. “Officially this is our territory.”

“Kill them,” Piea trilled with anticipation.

“We could talk to them,” Lev ventured quietly.

“Duke, they just stole one of your citizens!” Kelm protested. “You want to talk?”
In the distance we heard the unsettling sound of a child’s scream. Too bad it wasn’t Little Billee they grabbed because, assuredly, they would be begging us to take him away.

Two lizard folk stood at the gate, not suspecting our business. Lev tried to squeeze through the palisade while we diverted their attention but, clumsily, he gave himself away. They immediately charged after him but he squirmed away, slapping one with a line of cold as Piea shattered the gate with her Great Axe. “Size does matter!” she crowed as Sizzles followed her into the compound.

Cane shot one, killing him as I dropped another with my longbow. Sizzles took some hits, suddenly laying down and whining, while arrows whizzed about us. I fumbled, dropping my arrows, hopelessly scattering them.

Justice,” I squeaked lamely.

One of the lizards managed to wound Kelm in the side with a spear as Lev jumped onto the wall, balancing there precariously. He then tickled several of the lizards with cold while Piea and Cane rode roughshod over the rest. Piea slew the Lizard King, slicing him lengthways like a Crystalhue eel. His last two attendants cowered before her, on their knees, offering her their necks in submission.

“Take me to Tig!” she demanded hotly.

“The spirit will get angry,” they groveled.

“Well I’ll kill the spirit,” she fiercely replied. “Take me to Tig!”

“He’s on the other side of the palisade,” they moaned, voices quivering. “He’s in the swamp.”

With Tig’s screams echoing in the background I watched Cane and Kelm strip the lizard king of his possessions:

+1 natural armor
+1 trident
5 javelins
2 golden arm bands worth 100 gold each

Tig screamed again.

“Let’s go get the stupid punk!” Cane growled, turning to go.

“Why did they steal this kid to begin with?” Piea wondered, following him, dragging the two bewildered lizards after her.

“Probably going to sacrifice him to some god or something,” he spat. “That’s what lizard people do.”

As we made our way past the palisade into the swamp, which stank of fetid murder, large fat mosquitoes buzzed us like horseflies. My colleagues began arguing about what we’d just done. “We killed these lizard men for pretty much nothing,” Lev noted dryly.

“No,” Cane protested, “We killed them for fun.”

“No,” Kelm corrected. “We killed them for profit.”

At the swamp we found our old nemesis—Will-o’-wisp—rising from the swamp. “It’s the spirit!” the two remaining lizard men cried as they threw themselves onto their faces. Things were finally starting to make sense—the wisp had trapped Tig here to feed on his fear. The lizard-men were innocent, at least of this crime.

The wisp disappeared briefly but reappeared to attack Sizzles. Learning from our previous encounter we all waited for it to appear to attack before unloading on it. This time it disappeared with a “pop!” and we knew it was gone.

Tig was tied down in the swamp up to his neck in the fetid water, leeches succoring him everywhere, verily unto his mouth. We quickly freed him, then listened to him whine as Cane removed the fattened leeches from his skin. The judgment of Erastil is justice received.

In the will-o’-wisp’s domicile (and who would of thought that will-o'-wisps lived like ordinary people) we found:

masterwork cold iron longspear
tree feather token
ring of swimming
animal skins worth 100 gold pieces
3 citrines worth 50 gp each
119 gold in assorted coins
tridents and spears

We returned to the encampment only to discover that three lizard females had emerged to hiss and spit their objection to us and what we had accomplished at their expense—they were the dead king’s harem, apparently. Piea like them immediately: “Stupid skanks,” she sneered.

They picked up the scattered spears and shields dropped by their warriors and waved them ineffectually at us while ululating fiercely, their thick forked tongues reaching out greedily.

“Surrender now,” Lev pleaded, “or you will meet the same fate as the rest of your group.”

Thankfully, after a little more posturing the lead lizard-lady haughtily set her shield and spear down, raising her tail and peeing on the weaponry.

We searched the huts, finding two monitor lizards in one of them. Cane led them to the marsh where they quickly swam away.

In the big hut we found:

coral crown embedded with lapis lazuli worth 500 gold
malachite statue of a serpentine dragon worth 200 gold
various furs worth 300 gold
575 gold pieces
each of the harem with 1000gp jewelry, which we confiscated

Then we told the lady lizards and two guards to “Get off our lawn!” Watching us with hatred and hissing spitefully they disappeared up the river.

On the journey home we visited the Old Beldame on the way home who slathered the boy with salves and unguents until even his bones were soft. I’m including cookies she gave us for you with this letter.

Take care of your Mother and make sure Big Billee keeps his hands to himself,
Your uncle Marquand

1 comment:

  1. Always a pleasure to read. A real compliment to have used Hoagy as my avatar, and the image of the will o' wisp is your best digital rendering yet.

    Gotta say, it's a bummer that Sabor's account of the Dudes and their epic accomplishments became a simple song about 'Dobles unrequited love. Alas.