Today’s post, is about the Pathfinder campaign I’m running – “The Serpent’s Skull”.
Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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Even though this is not a snippet, I felt the warning was prudent because I tend to get a little uhh… “excited” when talking about gaming and there are usually mature themes and naughty language in those moments.
I think the last time I wrote about TSS was well over a year ago and the party was still shipwrecked on Smuggler’s Shiv, seeking a way to get off the island before they were eaten by cannibals.
Spoiler Alert: they made it.
The original party was Julius Parker-Kray (Mark), Lars D’arcy (Paul), Ayrrilyn “Ayr” Hrothgar (Kate), and Babalichella “Babs” Hrothgar (Abbie). They had known each other for most of the 9-month journey as they sailed from the north down toward Eleder, the capital of Sargava. Julius and Lars got rather close. The twins were already close and they did not warm up to the other people on the ship because well… they were elitist, wealthy, spoiled “valley girl-types”.
When the ship hit the reef and sank, the four of them escaped onto the Shiv along with five NPCs: Jask, a cleric/prisoner accused of treason; Aerys, a brawling epic poetess; Sasha, the exiled daughter of an assassin guildleader; Ishirou, a foreign-born map-enthusiast treasure hunter; and Gelik Aberwinge, a whining gnome who may not have been as whiny as I portrayed him, but c’est la vie. There was also a mystery to solve (why the ship sank when the experienced captain would never have done what he did, for one, and what happened to the enigmatic lover he took on the journey) and some mourning to do, for the entirety of the crew had died… including Mironae, an NPC who had fallen deeply in love with Lars on the journey, but perished in the crash (thanks to the failed attentions of the two healer PCs – Ayr & Babs).
Those nine had to survive this island, which swarmed with dangerous disease, angry cannibalistic inhabitants, blood-frenzied chupacabras, and worse lurking deep beneath the surface. The players honestly believed that island was going to be the whole adventure, I think. But alas, by the end of the first mod, they managed to secure passage on a passing ship (Babs infamously told the captain, “I’ll let you put it in my butt if you get off this damned island!”).
Not all of the OG (original gang) survived, however.
Lars and Ayr began a torrid tryst – Lars was at least partially trying to drown the memory of his newly deceased lover, Mironae, but Ayr seemed legitimately fond of it – that ended in tragedy when they decided to camp about a mile up the beach from the others for some “privacy”. Their furious boning was interrupted by some strange undead mermaid-like creatures who swarmed their tent and Lars managed to hold them off while Ayr ran for help. Tsk. He died. They had no way to raise him. Julius buried him with Mironae’s earrings, symbolic of their bond. Ayr did not object, but she did find out a few weeks later that she carried something more valuable – Lars had knocked her up good during their weeks on the island.
So by the time they escaped the Shiv, there were two new party members. Elspeth (Paul) was an elvish lady they encountered who had been shipwrecked here for months before they arrived, and Toni (NPC) was a count’s daughter from Eleder, who had been shipwrecked here for several years before they encountered her (and her governess, so I guess there were three new people). No, make that four. Because they had also befriended a tengu cast-away called Pezzock, who was thoroughly devoted to Babs (who wasn’t having that… I mean, he was a bird-man).
They made it to Eleder. Julius and Toni were a solid couple by then, the rancher’s son and the count’s daughter. Pezzock was convinced to join a cadre of his kinsmen who lived on the outskirts of the city. Toni and Taile, her governess, returned to their home to find her family had been missing for nearly two years after receiving word that she never reached her finishing school in the north.
The intrigue deepened, however, because as they discovered more about the enigmatic woman and the secrets they uncovered on the Shiv (where they became mythic, because…reasons) five faction leaders (related to the five NPCs who survived the original wreck) approached them about a new mission deep into the jungles of Sargava. Toni was kidnapped by some local rabble-rousers (incited by one of the factions to stir up trouble with the party) and nearly killed in the process. Julius vowed vengeance – some day – but they were in a hurry to get on the road again and he could not linger to investigate fully.
Eventually, as they left the city, Elspeth opted to join up with another team to spy on them from the inside (because Paul had to leave us for some months due to IRL issues). So the three PCs, plus Toni, who had married Julius during their stay in the city, set-out under the banner of the Sargavan Government, to seek the ruins of Tazion.
The race across the jungle (because their reward for getting there first was SUBSTANTIALLY more impressive than if they just… arrived eventually) was pretty fun. Ayr (a druid) lost her animal companion (a black tiger named Tsyndiir) but gained a new one – a baby T-Rex named Celedon. Our party gained a fourth PC when Mark’s buddy Ralph joined us, bringing a mercenary fighter called Bog (human, not half-orc, though it was easy to forget, haha) to the table.
The party fought its way across the perilous jungle and made several allies; a feral girl and her raptor companion, a native hunter whose tribe insisted he join the party, a wild cleric, an archaeologist who would have been a PC if Jason had kept playing with us, three exiled tribesman who they saved from a dire tiger, and three honorable hunters from the Violet Mamba tribe. There might be others. I’m not sure anymore, this was ages ago.
Inside Tazion, stuff happened. They nearly caused an ecological disaster when Ayr accidentally set fire to a massive tarpit that would have kept burning oh, basically forever. They had encounters with assassins and other groups. They figured out the secret of the Pillars of Light and found the path that would lead them to a legendary lost city deep in the jungle – one that been hidden for 11,000 years and was all but forgotten by history… Saventh-Yhi.
And there they remain.
For the moment.
But as the magically enduring city of Saventh-Yhi has opened to them, they have suffered tragic loss after tragic loss.
Bog fell at the hands of a mythic primal gorilla-demon, who suplexed him off the top of a 100-foot ziggarat. His body was born away by fleeing Charu-ka and never seen again (Note: Ralph was going to bring in a back-up, but real life issues arose and as of this writing, he hasn’t been back).
Ayr lost her head, literally, to a horse-sized flesh-eating parrot (critical hit, decapitation!) and they are unable to raise her without finding a druid to Reincarnate her OR a cleric high enough level to cast Resurrection. Celedon returned to the wild. (Note: Kate took the opportunity to leave the table on hiatus to spend more time with her beau and isn’t expected to return)
Babs met a grisly death at the hands of some twisty razor-tongued undead creatures… she too will require a Resurrection rather than a mere Raise Dead. She had lost Ice (her white tiger animal companion) a few sessions before, but literally JUST the day before (game-time) completed a ritual to bind a young elephant to her as animal companion. *sniffle*
If you’re keeping track – that leaves Julius as the true OG (original gangster! haha) as all the other original party members are gone. Elspeth has since returned (but only after Paul returned with “Atticus” who later died at the hands of a mythic enchantress). McCab is a mercenary-priestess who joined the party recently (Abbie’s back-up), and they also recruited Zakock, a barbarous fellow who survived weeks of torture at the hands of the one who killed Atticus (played by Mikey P., a person long missing from our gaming table).
Toni is still alive, too, but she’s an NPC.
The present line-up, as they realize that there is a whole world BENEATH Saventh-Yhi and the mysteries only grow more and more horrific…
- Julius Parker-Kray, wizard (sometimes called Mr. Gryffinaud, which he hates, haha)
- Elspeth Alara, rogue-witch-arcane trickster (a pirate queen-in-training)
- McCab, warpriest (employed by the Sargavan Government)
- Zakock, barbarian-rogue (divorced, has nothing better to do at the mo)
- Antoinette “Toni” Gryffinaud, vanguard (apparently Countess Gryffinaud as her parents are presumed dead)
As I write this, the group should be arriving within two hours for our latest session and they’re going to fight a mythic chimera named Atangaraz, whose head is that of a cave dragon and who is likely going to – pardon the language – fuck them UP.
Once Atangaraz is dead, they’ll have conquered a third (of seven) district of the city and will be able to push deeper into the city, then the vaults below, and at last into the hidden serpent city deep beneath that.
OH! And they accidentally blundered into the vaults awhile back and two of the five party members are stricken with a weird affectation that is inhibiting their interactions with their fellows (particularly Toni, who is not putting out nightly and leaving young master Julius with a severe case of blue balls, according to my eloquent husband, Mark).
I’ll have to update periodically about the state of TSS too – even if I’m no longer writing about it personally. Ta-ta for now, time to game!
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Note: Images are “Nessie” by (dsidwell), Ruins at Chicen Itza by (BenEarwicker), and Goat Skull by (humusak2) from SXC.hu; edited by me