Castaway Diary, Days 36 & 37


There are three training wheels that I put on Pathfinder when we started, two were house rules, one was to decline an optional rule:
First, character stats are better than average or at least have a better chance of being above average since we roll 7 stats and keep the top 6. That means few people have to struggle on with sub 9 stats. Orny is the closest we’ve had to a Raistlin character that has to hobble along on shitty hit points, being evil to people.
Second, we don’t use the massive damage rules, which state that losing 1/2 your hit points from one source in one round (minimum 50 hit points) you have to make a Fort DC 15 save or die. This doesn’t really hit home until 9th/10th level, but by that time you’ve probably grown to like that character a lot.
Third, that you died when you had been reduced to 0 -(your total hit points), rather than 0 -(your Con score) of the original rules.
When we started the new campaign with this third wheel left behind us in the garage to gather dust, I knew this was going to be a bigger deal past 2nd level, because by 2nd level, everyone’s hp was going to be greater than their Con score…. But Jesus, I didn’t think it would be this… impactful.
Players have mostly coasted from 2nd to 5th, with few really perilous encounters, although a lot of that has to do with good play, rather than weak opponents. All of a sudden, people are dropping like flies, but sadly not the flying kind. The very thorough exploration the group did of Smuggler’s Shiv puts them ahead of the suggested XP curve, meaning that for the first time they are slightly too powerful for the presented encounters, yet… they’re dying.
Of the original 13 Castaways, 4 are dead (Jask, Gelik, Uun, Victor), 4 of those are off doing other things (Rolifson, Ishiro, Sasha and Aerys).
We started this session with the entire reed boat shocked at the death of Uun and the many rows of teeth of the Great White shark – everyone except Orny who believes he got away with murder and no-one more shocked than Malicia who is the only person that knows Orny is trying to get away with murder. For whatever reason though, Malicia chose to stay silent about what she saw and as the sea boiled with the thrash of the descending shark, she put an arrow to her bow, waiting for another sight if the beast.
Nobody, shocked out of the sea-sickness that had made him useless until now, also kept watch for the shark down the barrels of his pistol. Orny summoned two more fiendish octopodes – unless it is more correctly Fiends Octopoid, like Surgeons General – okay, I’m going to go with the Fiends Octopoid were directed to catch the parts of Uun that came their way. Floki offered up a prayer to Gorum to see that the barbarian be remembered for his acts of heroism and spearing people to death. Floki also observed that the boatmen were concerned about sharks tipping the boat and so had spread themselves around the edges to balance out the people who had rushed to the side, so he moved to help them do that, because those guys seemed to know what they were doing.
Victor, meanwhile, grabbed a harpoon and dived in, thrashing around like a wounded animal to try to draw the shark away from Uun’s corpse. He did a such a good job of thrashing around that he surrounded himself in bubbles and lost his bearings. Nobody and Malicia tried baiting the shark with some of Nobody’s blood but by this point there was so much blood in the water a few drops more wasn’t going to make much difference. They resumed their watch on the surface of the water and when the shark reappeared to attack Victor they let the shark have it with arrow and shot. The shark was put off and missed Victor, brushing past him as  he sought to get his bearings, but it whipped around and savaged the Paladin as he stabbed at it with his harpoon. The Fiends Octopoid surfaced, bearing with them the remains of Uun. Orny hauled them quickly into the reed boat, having failed to Scare the shark away by telling them about the dangers of vaccinating your kids or the dangers of Teflon or whatever mumbo-jumbo Witches terrify people with.

Floki cast his safety line perfectly in front of Victor, who grabbed on with one hand and then nearly impaled himself with his harpoon, before being dragged into the boat. Nobody finished the shark off and the pearl divers hauled in the anchor and set the sail for shore before any other horrors could befall them.
The sun was setting when the boat docked at the raft village of the pearl divers. The village was surprised at the haul of little pearls handed over to them, and shocked at Uun’s death. Watching from the shadows of the village huts, Kona, a Zenj barbarian and acquaintance of N’Kechi watched the way the group interacted with the natives and saw that their dealings were fair and honest. He had been asked by N’Kechi to keep an eye on them and in particular, to see if they were as arrogantly reckless and rude as he suspected they were.
The pearldivers offered to provide whatever kind of burial that Northerners prefered, for they practice burial at sea and air burial, but they didn’t know if the party would be down with that. A grave was dug for Uun and prayers said for him before the group retired for a meal of fresh seafood and then sleep.
Air burial is not this, Noe:
Kona woke early the next morning, knowing that the Cleric of Sarenrae would greet the dawn with prayers and contemplation. Using this time, the Zenj stole away from the village and raced back to N’Kechi’s cave to deliver his report ahead of them. The party wasn’t too terribly far behind him, as once everyone had had breakfast/communed with those they need to commune with Floki did a competent job of getting them back to N’Kechi’s cave in good time.
N’Kechi received Kona’s news with some concern and when the group arrived talked a little about it to them. Despite the cost, they had succeeded in the Test of Water and he took the black pearl from Malicia, marvelled at it and placed it in a bowl. The Test of Air was a simple test, he said, all Gozreh required was a single complete feather from a humble stormbird. At this point all the amateur crypto-ornithologists tried to figure out which bird he might have been talking about. Eventually the more dedicated twitchers in the party thought he might have been talking about an Ercinee – not an ordinary or humble bird at all, but a magical creature. Anyway, N’Kechi told them that one such bird lived a fair hike along the coast at the peak of a wave shaped cliff at the end of a promontory. Bring the feather to him and they’d only have one test left. “Hey, jerk,” I’m paraphrasing for the group here “you said there’d only be two tests.” N’Kechi agreed, two tests to prove themselves to Gozreh, one test to prove themselves to him, because despite their apparent good handling of the pearl fisher village (where he half expected the party to just try to buy a black pearl like the lazy northerners that they are) he has grave misgivings about them. Anyway, they’d to take Kona with them – not to spy on them but because he had skills that might make up for the lack of Uun. But also to spy on them a bit.

People are always trying to get feathers off this thing.

He shooed them off to go participate in the Test of Air and off they went back along the cliff tops that they’d previously inched along at sea level. As they climbed his rope ladder to the clifftops. the sky grew darker and stormclouds began to gather. As they trekked, the rain started lightly and then began to pick up force, with a strong wind behind it.
They found the promontory, not difficult give the dramatic wave-like shape of the cliff below. The peak hung out with 600′ of air and milling seabirds between the tree that grew on the crest and the rocks below. The tree – a venerable, lightning struck baobab – hung further out into the sky, its one remaining bough reaching directly westward. The trunk had split as the result of the lightning strike and its roots dug into and through the rocks on the crest, so that the tree may well have been holding the crest of rock together, or perforating it dangerously. The rain fell in sheets now, soaking everything.

I was searching for pictures of cliff overhangs and I always forget how squeamish I am about heights. There’s a bunch of picture of people standing at the edge of cliffs and they freak me the hell out. Here’s one of Hanging Rock with nobody at the edge to freak me out. The shape is roughly the same as the Ercinee’s cliff.

The crest of the rock was surrounded by a rocky slope, which would need to be scrambled up to reach the tree. From a distance they could see a vast nest, at least 8′ in diameter, but no stormbird evident.
Kona and Nobody clambered out onto the rain soaked tree, the strong wind and relentless deluge making climbing it a tricky proposition. Like super tricky. With a 600′ drop if they messed up. yet up they scrambled, while the rest of the part hid behind rocks or approached with caution. Kona made it to the great nest with not too much trouble and while it took Nobody a bit more time, he persevered and made it out to the nest, mostly by shimmying.
What madness gripped him, I don’t know, but Victor also decided to climb the overhanging tree. He made it only as far as the point at which the tree’s bough was no longer directly above the hanging rock, but above the great gulf of air above the rocky shoreline, then slipped. His hand lashed out to try to catch the tree, but the bark was slick with rain. He hit the rocks below the bough and again tried to grasp any purchase that would arrest his fall, but he failed. He had a matter of seconds to contemplate his demise as he fell and what went through his mind then, no-one now knows, because he hit the rocks and was dashed out of this game.
About this time, as jaws were being scooped up off the ground: the Ercinee arrived. A beautiful creature of shimmering colour and glowing feathertips shrieked at Kona and Nobody searching her nest. The disorienting sonic attack scrambled Kona and Malicia, who had been lurking close enough to be affected. the spent the next few moments staring into space and hitting themselves in the face with their weapons.

Is that a bird, what is…? Huh?

Floki attempted to establish some sort of understanding with the beast, while true to form, Nobody started shooting. Orny piled on with some spells but the Ercinee seemed to shrug them off until the Evil Eye landed that made  its AC shittier and then Nobody’s blasts really seemed to take the Ercinee to task. The Ercinee responded by blasting Searing Lights at people, but it couldn’t withstand the sudden and effective firepower leveled its way and the magical creature’s wings folded in and it went the same direction as Victor, but was at least dead before it hit the jagged rocks below.
Speaking of which… Kona and Nobody started their fraught journey to solid ground while Floki left to go get the feathers of the Ercinee. Kona and Nobody both slipped as they made their way back; Nobody lashed out with his mithril hook  and it dug into the wet bark and stuck, but Kona couldn’t catch the bough and plummeted to his death too.
Nobody hung there as Orny called the Rope of Climbing to go snake itself around Nobody and then attach itself to the roots of the tree. The tiefling was dragged in and the rest of the party made their back down the clifftops to follow Floki.
Floki arrived at the bottom of the cliff to recover the feathers from the Ercinee, but found himself having to salvage the bodies of Kona and Victor, who were, one must assume, a pretty dreadful mess. He plucked the broken bird clean while he waited and then the party took the hard task of hauling Kona and Victor’s bodies back to N’kechi’s cave.


12 Comments on “Castaway Diary, Days 36 & 37

  1. So, I have a conundrum. I’ll be able to make the next two sessions but after that I’m out for the next six or so. Is it worth it for the party to spend the cash to bring Victor back at this time? Should I play a new character for now and get back to Victor later? I’m up for either way or just sticking with the new character if folks think it’s not worth it to raise him but this party seems to be severely lacking front-line fighters at the moment.

  2. I tend to like my own characters to stay dead. I’m in favor of brining back any fallen comrades if the player wants to though. Preferably this would be with reincarnate so that we have the potential for a bugbear in the party.

  3. A temporary character is totally fine. This would let Victor’s body get dropped if with the Iomedeans, raised, restored (takes weeks) then make his triumphant return.

    Story wise, some acolyte or friend of N’kechi is the fastest to start playing right away.

  4. Well, I’ve already rolled up a brand new cleric, it would be a shame not to use him.

  5. Well, I’ve already rolled up a brand new cleric, it would be a shame not to use him.

    • That’s the spirit.

      If you don’t have a mini I can probably bring a Bones with me to either stand in or serve as your permanent. Just tell me if it’s a human or what you want.

      • Elf. But any scraggly holyman will do.

          • I’m already thinking about my next character, in the event that Percy ends up biting the big one.

  6. I’m printing a bunch of character sheets right now (I’m not sayin’… I’m just sayin’).

    • That’s what I use too. It’s handy to fill in and the layout it the best for finding stuff quickly of the three sheets I’ve tried.