For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Upon their return to the Camp and their base of operations, the party decided to attend to newly gained information and the acquisition of much-needed magical and mundane supplies for deeper ventures into Tsar. Emma–now aware of the names of other ‘weapons’ forged by Larach Umbriol thanks to the mysterious lich in the Palace of Lost and Broken Things–set out to sojourn with the Pathfinder Society to investigate what could potentially be her brethren. Meryk departed for a bout of extended ranging while Zantric in turn departed to pay a visit to his dwarven compatriots and wife for a time–and by all accounts, Gothroc Gro-Bromac had been ‘lost’ to the depths of the Palace by his own volition.
While their fellows set about such tasks, the remainder of the party first checked on the status of their newly constructed arena within the Camp–finding that the Usurer had taken rather amiably to the new focus of profits within the community and that several dozen bouts had occurred during the absence of the adventurers. One individual had seemingly dominated the latter competitions, however: a mysterious woman known as Aneshka, purportedly regarded as ‘Fate’s Immaculate Blade’. Aneshka had apparently been accepting challenges from all comers, but had remained wholly undefeated since her arrival; with Emma’s absence, the group elected to forestall a challenge of their own pending her return–and instead turned an eye once more towards the second level of Tsar.
Though numerous areas of interest had been identified and plumed among the second steppe of the temple-city–there yet remained locations to be explored; the party had acquired four of the nine disciple statues but would doubtless require the remainder if they were to penetrate the greatest heights of the city. Venturing to the northern reaches of the Harrow Lanes, thus, the smaller party came upon a crude set of fortifications built amidst a stretch of ruins–the walls to which were manned by gnoll men and women; immediately the party was announced as adventurers (a moniker which seemed to carry much derision among most denizens of Tsar, as the group had discovered) and regarded warily by the sentries.
A brief disagreement followed among the party itself–with Pandora vying to simply attack and wipe out the broad encampment of gnolls and other monstrous humanoids with fireballs and other magic, citing that such a gathering was evil and such was a proper course of action. Cassandra, however, was well familiar with gnolls from her roots in Katapesh–and implored her fellows to simply parlay with the encampment and attempt a more amenable discourse, in turn suggesting that since the gnolls were part of ‘Team Has-a-pulse’ they were intrinsically vested in avoiding an arrival of Orcus in Golarion.
Ultimately, the party erred with Cassandra’s insistence–and attempted to speak diplomatically with the sentries. The party’s request to enter the encampment proper was declined, with the sentries citing that other adventurers had already dealt reprehensible damage to their community; when pressed further, it was revealed that a ‘party of drow’ had seemingly kidnapped a number of children from the gnolls and had slain a contingent of their community less than a week ago. The description fit with the Dust Coven, with whom the group was modestly familiar: a party of infamously potent assassins who had already been known to be operating near the vicinity of Tsar alongside the dozen other adventuring parties present.
Though the motives for the Dust Coven were utterly unknown and the information available from the gnolls considerably scarce, Cassandra was eager to provide aid and assistance with their plight and implored access to a belonging from one of the missing children such that divination might be used to locate their whereabouts. Pandora suggested once more that eliminating the gnoll encampment altogether would in turn eliminate the need to locate the children–noting further that the latter would simply grow up to be more gnolls to deal with later–but Cassandra remained adamant in her conviction. Through the use of powerful magic, the party was able to discern that at least one of the gnoll youths was presently located in the higher steppes of Tsar–within the treacherous stretch of the city known only as ‘the Maze’.
Departing from the camp, the party ventured back to the Grunge to enter the stairway previously cleared–as such offered quick passage up to the third of Tsar’s steppes; once there and wary of potentially dangerous encounters, the party proceeded briskly northward towards the Maze–along the way encountering the span of a bridge over which an ominous floating flaming skull leered perilously at their number. After brief debate over fighting said skull, instead Cassandra elected to teleport the party past it with dimension door–after which the party fled quickly away from the scene, hoping to avoid what they were certain was doom.
Arriving at ‘the Maze’, the party was surprised to discover it not to be a labyrinthine expanse of walls and sentinels–but instead a dense sprawl of twisted alleyways and thoroughfares still occupied by the countless manner of monstrous humanoids, outsiders and other denizens even presently. Juxtaposed against the derelict devastation of the lower levels of the temple-city, the group was temporarily taken aback–before warily beginning their foray through the tangled and confusing mess that was the Maze’s bizarre infrastructure.
It did not take long for the adventurers to find themselves garnering attention from the local residents of the Maze–and soon enough, after many baleful looks had been seen from windows, doors and alleyways–the group found themselves being followed. Turning off down a side street and through another alleyway, Anselme, Brother Vang, Pandora and Cassandra found themselves hedged in against a trio of gorgons–the dangerous beasts promptly loosing petrifying breath attacks across them!
Anselme swiftly took to the form of an earth elemental while Leone and Pandora were rendered into statues; the battle engaged, Brother Vang hastened to undo the effects of the gorgon’s breath attacks while his fellows fought to beat back their monstrous opposition. To make matters worse, however, the din of the battle soon attracted the attention of other monsters nearby–and a dreadful aberration brandishing razor-sharp cleavers erupted into the fray from a flanking alleyway, leveling against the then-restored Leone before turning its gruesome assault towards Pandora and Brother Vang.
The situation rapidly descended into chaos as the quartet of adventurers attempted to put down the gorgons and their latest foe before facing further opposition; while Pandora and Cassandra were able to swiftly dispatch two of the gorgons, the third proved elusive. Towering over his fellows, Anselme blocked off the rear alleyway to hedge off the arrival of several vrocks to the fray–allowing Pandora and Brother Vang an opportunity to face down the butcher-like aberration and slay the monstrous denizen of the Maze.
Already further monsters and other creatures could be heard fast approaching the narrow alleyways–the carnage already laid leaving little doubt as to the ‘mischief’ the adventurers had set afoot for any who might arrive on the scene. With Pandora and Cassandra severely wounded and Leone on the brink of death, Anselme moved to stand over his companions with Brother Vang and came to a swift decision: the party would need to secure an exit back into the obscurity of the rest of the Maze, and soon…
This was another relatively brief entry, but also a fairly ‘short’ session by our typical standards; three of the party were absent from this session, and Gothroc’s player has had to bid us farewell as he returns to university now. Our four adventurers here became quite beleaguered with the nature in which encounters can snowball in the Maze; next entry we’ll see how they fared from such a predicament!