My Saturday game is missing some players this month as various people are out traveling to exotic locations and doing interesting things. We decided to do something a bit unusual.....we dragged out a mess of old level 13-15 characters from two prior campaigns and did a revisiting....which is always fun, especially in Pathfinder, where it is quite possible to spend as much time trying to remember how to play a high level character as it is rolling one fresh.
The group consisted of:
Pennywhistle the Bard, a swuave halfling adventurer who has been on many, many adventures in both the future timeline of Lingusia (Warlords era) and also the past (Ages eras) thanks to his time traveling status as an agent of the Seraphim Aeon, servant of Huaarl, god of time.
Revan the elven monk and servant of the sun god Naril, cohort of Pennywhistle and also an avatar, both of Naril, and servant of Aeon as well.
Malin, shadow fetchling rogue of Gloomwrought who has adventured on various material planes but most recently for a vacation in the Realms of Chirak, so this is her first time exploring the dominion of Lingusia. Her recent adventures with the Pillar of Eternity suffused her with chronoton particles, meaning her last plane shifting moved her in both space AND time....
The adventurers found themselves from their various places of retirement gate-shifted into the abandoned, ancient temple of the time god Huuarl called The Cave of Time, resting before the immense statue of Aeon, Seraph of Time. Pennywhistle and Revan have been here before on prior adventures....they know that their tales as chrononaut agents of the time god are recorded in the temple, and sure enough, it now mentions their return to the current era, as well as alluding to other future adventures yet to come. The Aeon Cube, the device used to travel in time, is resting in the statue's hands. They take it....and make the acquiantance of Malin, who is getting oriented.
While figuring out their situation the hidden passage to the Cave of Time is opened from the outside. Four adventurers discover the trio: Da Kataan De (a Zatacani warrior scout), Tanser Kel of Markek (human Octzellan druid), Asaea the Sharp (half-orc paladin of Graethos) and Tennos (hobgoblin champion of the Troll Queen). Asaea is the leader....they were hired by a local city, Rithias, to recover the Aeon Cube. The city, it turns out, is being threatened by the army of the Ogre King, who has said if the city hands over the cube then he will not raid and pillage. The group volunteered to find the Aeon Cube to save the city from what is apparently an overwhelming force.
Tanser Kel, it turns out, was a younger man when he had met the PCs.....but some years ago when they first explored the region of the Great Plateau and discovered the Cave of Time, Tanser was their druid guide from the village of Markek, which was being attacked by cylcopses who were driven by the spirit of the mad druid Waer'Ganos. The adventurers saved Tanser's village and drove both the demonic spirit of the druid and the cylcopses away.
The trio decides to help. They initially set out with the younger, less experienced adventurers to go to Rithias. After leaving the temple they travel along the Sullen Northern Lake, where spawn of a froghemoth gather and follow, but are wary to attack....they remember how the adventurers slew their mother six years earlier.
The party reaches a main road and shortly are confronted by a squadron of ogre warriors riding fiendish rhinos. The leader, Commander Gromask, moves to parlay after a combination of intimidation from Revan and bardic magic from Pennywhistle send his troops fleeing......Gromask does not flee but can tell these are powerful warriors. Gromask reveals he was sent by the Ogre King Greymasque to make sure the Rithians honored their deal, and to take the Aeon Cube.
The adventurers convince Gromask to take them to his Ogre King directly. They bypass Rithias, though the druid is sent in to town to notify them that the avatars of Aeon are on the job.
At the encampment of the Ogre King the group sees a large army of about 80% ogres and 20% mercenary monsters of other types, though it appears trolls are not a part of the retinue. They meet with the Ogre King, Greymasque, in his tent where three ogress concubines recline, along with his retinue of guards and his two orc advisors: the sorceress Saegrath and the warlord-mercenary Shagan.
The discussion is amiable: they learn that Greymasque has been ruling from the Griffon Mountains to the north, ever since his new queen, Tiriel, appeared and gave him the wisdom to rule. He has united a fierce army, but it threatens the northern subterranean kingdom of Endanir, where the troll queen Zesperida rules. Their forces have clashed, in the winding passages of the Lower Deeps, but no major action as yet. Unexpectedly, Tiriel was attacked with magic, and placed in some sort of stasis holding her outside of time. Greymasque instructed Saegrath to fix the problem....she couldn't, but she knew of the Cave of Time and thought the artifact of Aeon might reverse the queen's condition.
The group also figures out that Tiriel is actually not an ogre or anything: she's a drow! Specifically, an ashtarth drow of Dahik to the east, and possibly exiled royalty. It seems her two sisters rule Dahik but she was driven out for unknown reasons, and now seeks to use Greymasque to forge an empire in the west.....an empire carved from the troll queen's own empire. Tennos, the hobgoblin champion of the troll queen, does not like this. He tries to slip away to get a message to his queen, but the crew intervenes and talks him in to a wait and see mode.
They convince Greymasque to let them try and fix her condition. Malin has an artifact of Chirak: one of the Iron Spikes of a cult of demons which use the nails as dimensional anchors to "lock" them on the material plane....she wonders if it might disrupt some time displacement. Failing that, Pennywhistle has some curse removal he can try.
They march three days north with the king's retinue, which is uneventful because no wandering monster is going to tussle with an army of ogres and high level adenturers.They eventually arrive at the Griffon Mountains and Greymasque's massive southern fortress, stretching along the length of an entire mountain. In a crystalline cathedral in a glass coffin they find the tall dark elf Tiriel, both at rest and clearly frozen in time. They double check to confirm the ogre king has tried waking her with a kiss, once they see at the base of her coffin what was found with her: a golden apple with a single bite. The ogre king confirms, yes, that's like the FIRST thing anyone tries in a case like this, duh.
The group determine's Malin's artifact won't disrupt what looks like a curse in the form of some sort of permanent time stop. Pennywhsitle tries to lift the curse and with a shockingly good caster check he succeeds! The time stasis leaves Tiriel, though it now reveals after further discovery that someone has removed her soul and consciousness....it is trapped in a soul jar somewhere else, and she is still not awakening.
Through Legend Lore the group pieces together that Tiriel was indeed exiled by her sisters, and sought to forge a new kingdom in the west using Greymasque. She had plans to move on Zesperida's realm, it looks like. There are multiple suspects in who could have done this, and it is unclear why she thought eating from the golden apple was a good idea....but the apple appears to be a very magical object all on its own.
The group asks Greymasue to let them investigate by traveling to the troll queen's realm of Endanir. There they will confront Zesperida, queen of the Mihidir trolls, and see if she is behind this. They have a bit of a plan: if Tiriel's real design is on returning to Dahik and wresting control from her sisters, maybe they can convince the troll queen to forge an alliance to strengthen her territory?
Greymasque introduces them to a guide to get them through the Halale Wilderness to the cave entrance of Endanir: Zuun, the ratkin scout. He is only six years old, but already an adult by his kin's standards....his father was a ratkin swashbuckler captain that the crew used to travel with, and who had some prolific affairs with other ratkin women in the region back then. Zuun is ready to serve!
The group begins their journey through the Halale Wilderness.....a dominion still haunted by the demonically corrupted spirit of the ancient elven druid Waer'Ganos, who has a beef with the adventurers....
TO BE CONTINUED!
NOTES: This is a group known for it's ability to avoid using force by virtue of having one character (Pennywhistle) who can hit mid-forties skill rolls with bluff/diplomacy with ease, and the monk Revan who can do intimidate in the high thirties and low forties with little trouble. As a result, the way I tend to play it is lesser encounters usually figure out quickly that they are outmatched and will back down, flee, or cooperate. This leads to a lot of "non battles" which is fine with me!
The actual adventurers Revan and Pennywhistle are part of what was a larger group of 6 adventurers that gamed in the same campaign from 2010-2012, reaching level 14 before "retiring" after which they have had a couple more one-shot adventures. Their campaign defined the bulk of the Warlords of Lingusia era of the campaign, with their adventurers starting in 3,494 and reaching 3,502 in tonight's game. Missing from the group is the monk Horus, the Ratkin Swashbuckling Captain who's name I forget, a psionic elf, and a female half-orc paladin (named Target); there are others who were in-and-out as well.
Malin came from a lengthy level 1-15 campaign in Chirak which also involved time travel and was one of my most batshit crazy campaigns to date. She is a planar denizen so her presence in a different prime material plan isn't all that difficult to account for, actually.
Going back to Pathfinder at high level is easy pleasy for this group, which is very relaxed about the process and much more in to the diplomatic/social element then getting in to constant fights. Pathfinder high level fights tend to be crazily swingy, I've noticed...either the PCs wipe out the opposition with overwhelming force, of the opposition has some key immunity or attack that is devasating in turn. Still....there will be some fights, especially next session! I hope, anyway.....they will probably talk the monsters out of it and make friends.
Also, a hearty endorsement for Monster Codex. It's a very useful book when you want to use more conventional races for high level gaming and (as I do) you have no time or desire to spend hours working out stat blocks.