Campaign of the Month: September 2016

Age of Serpents

Legacy of Fiends

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins

Having just defeated the Klixarpillar mites in their cavernous lair, Kor’lec tended to the wounds of the tortured Mongrukoo captives. Meanwhile, Likki scampered over to the last remaining mite, whom the heroes left broken but still breathing—barely.

The party stalled the vengeful goblin with some well-chosen words before he could follow through his intention to finish the mite off. Dornas, fed up with the little savage, knocked the coconut out of Likki’s hand and demanded he stop acting like a child. The term offended the proud tribesman, who reminded the magus that he was a chieftain’s son. “Than act like it!” Dornas countered.

With Likki successfully talked down, Kor’lec revived the wounded fey so he could be questioned. The delirious gremlin revealed that he and his five brothers were raised by Tlukkah for vengeance against the Mongrukoo. Together, the six young mites and their old adopted father were all that remained of the Klixarpillar from a brutal monkey goblin invasion years before. He also said that the cavern of webs was the lair of the “Hive Queen,” their master Tlukkah’s ally and mother to the hive spiders. Satisfied with the information, if not their role in the situation, the party allowed Likki to end the mite’s suffering. Unfortunately, mite’s natural resiliency precluded a quick coup-de-grace by coconut, so the oracle had to bash him a few (dozen) times before the fey finally expired.

Monica and Kishtari returned to the case for exploring the Hive Queen’s chamber, source of the powerful telepathic impression the magic-users were feeling. It was not safe descending Black Widow Bluff’s pathways at night anyway. Nemanji agreed with the ladies (mostly because he wanted to access the alleged Mechuiti temple the Mongrukoo had talked about), but Likki and the rest wanted to get the wounded back to their village as soon as goblinly possible. An agreement was reached that the party should return to the hilltop later, and headed to the cricket cave to wait for dawn in relative safety.

This Monkey on Our Back

monster_-_forest_cobra.jpgThe trip back down to the jungle was uneventful. Except for the major predator that the heroes might’ve encountered once they reached the treeline. The group’s combined wilderness expertise and sharp senses quickly noticed the telltale signs that a large snake—a forest cobra —prowled the area by way of it’s sheddings and stools. Pre-warned of its presence, the savvy explorers easily avoided the deadly animal, and chose not to harm it. It was briefly spotted in a stream bed from a distance.

The bulk of the conversation as the party made their descent happened out of earshot of the monkey goblins, as it involved their groups’ continued collaboration with the Mongrukoo. Of course, both Kish and Nemanji argued that they desperately needed native allies, while the tiefling took it further by asserting that Likki should become a full member of their nascent group. The rest acceded that while they were getting something useful out of the current arrangement, they had no desire to become any more involved with the savage tribe. While Kor’lec admitted that he had previously argued on the goblins’ behalf, the party were very clearly manipulated into fighting—and finishing—a war for them, one which the Mongrukoo were the clear aggressors. Dornas wasn’t thrilled with that little detail either, and concerned that the goblins might use their “big damn heroes” to try and solve other problems.

Monica brought the cosmic wheel into the debate by reminding everyone that the goblins were unapologetic demon-worshippers, and demons were literally made of evil. Not to mention chaos. Demon-blooded Nemanji naturally took offense, Kish took offense as one also descended from extraplanar entities, and Kor’lec wondered to himself again why he was putting his life in the hands of Nemanji, who admitted again to have been born into the Cult of Angazhan, the Kallijae elves’ traditional enemies. “Good. Evil,” concluded the tiefling, “here, there is only survival.”

The rest of the journey passed in awkward silence.

Monkey House

The Mongrukoo “village” proved to be a modest affair of crude nests and hutches in the canopy, rather than the elaborate tree-houses and boardwalks favored by more sophisticated arboreal races such as wild elves that absolutely nobody was expecting. Most of the monkey goblin dwellings were little more than clusters of branches with loose leaves used to keep the rain off their inhabitants. The castaways grew uneasy when Likki asked them to wait alone for a few minutes and not do anything threatening, like have their weapons at hand. Everything he said seemed tinged with menace; Likki’s “cuteness” ended for most of the group the second they had seen him (lengthily) execute a helpless foe.

The adventurers did not have long to contemplate their impending demise. Though the goblins streamed en mass from the trees via thrown vines and surrounded them on all sides, most had peaceful expressions and were open-handed; i.e. sans coconuts. The heroes were approached by a goblin that must have been the leader by virtue of his elaborate tribal attire—Basako, sire of Likki and Cenkil. Dornas noticed at once that the monkey goblin chief appeared quite differently. He was more erect, more stately in bearing—and had a tail that was longer and whiplike, ending in a barb like a denizen of the lower planes. Basako was a tiefling!

The demon-blooded goblin also spoke perfect Taldane, and he addressed the heroes in that language. He thanked them for saving his son, for rescuing the wounded braves, and for killing the mites. “We’ll have a feast in your honor of course,” he said, “not tonight though, I have some plans. But, let’s make it late afternoon.” Chief Basako reaffirmed that he would honor the agreement that the adventurers had made with Cenkil (for the disease-fighting unguents, remember?) and would cease any further aggressions against their base camp.

Further?

While Away…

Basako admitted the Mongrukoo had indeed attacked the explorers’ base camp, and the other castaways had comported themselves well. “Your friends are fine. In fact,” he confessed, “we only lost a few of our own. But those idiots probably wouldn’t have amounted to much anyway.” And “say, why don’t you go get them? We should all be friends, now.”

Nonetheless, the heroes hustled back to their beachside hideout. There, they found everyone intact, except a few goblins who had met their end at either Sasha‘s impressive traps or Aery’s equally impressive fists. Everyone except little Gelik, who had run off into the bush during the attack!

Monica wasted no time and set out after him, while the others caught up to the Taldan archeologist to help her negotiate the wild. Nemanji and Kor’lec had little trouble finding the gnome’s trail—a rhinestone sequin here, a smudge of expensive shoe polish there, a splotch of pomade on a low-hanging branch—soon enough Gelik’s whereabouts were traced to a hollow log. Calling him out, the gnome adorably and timidly poked his head out like a chipmunk. But upon seeing his rescuers (and the object of his crush), Gelik vaulted to his pointy-shoe-shod feet and straightened out his appearance with a touch of gnome magic.

Sweetly, Monica didn’t judge or call the gnome out on his less-than-valiant flight. Gelik claimed that he was following a very sensible plan that he said everyone agreed to, which was to fall back into the woods and rally to retake the campsite later. Despite a lot of eye-rolling from the others, Monica assured the gnome that he did the right thing and was now safe. “Oh, and we’re all going to go have dinner with the goblins now.”

“We’re what?”

Feast of Goblins

Turns out, the Mongrukoo threw parties like they threw coconuts—with the intention to whack their victims, er, guests—silly. The castaways were treated to a table (a plank balanced on some rocks) of shellfish (sea scorpion) drenched in butter (coconut oil) and fixins’ (weeds and shipwreck salvage), which everyone agreed was scrumptious. The goblins brewed an enjoyable, potent liquor made of coconut milk, a local mango-like fruit, and traces of eurypterid venom that proved mildly-to-severely hallucinogenic to non-goblinoids and was apparently a potent aphrodisiac to its makers—either that or the Mongrukoo just loved to fuck. Indiscriminately. Probably the latter. They also liked to dance, prance, beat drums, and play with lit torches.

What Cenkil looked like shaved, that is, to Kish while she was drunk and high.

Kor’lec, Dornas, and Jask were the wet blankets, but everyone else indulged at least a little. Nemanji and Aerys got blotto, but neither were violent drunks. This time. Probably fortunately. Aerys passed out early while Nemanji got clingy with Kishtari. That did not seem to matter to the kalashtar or her persistent suitor for the evening: a smooth-talking Cenkil. Under the effects of the Mongrukoo spirits, the grizzled monkey goblin warrior appeared handsome and mostly hairless to her. The goblin (actual) prince charming brought up his gladness to see the heroes triumphant over their ancient enemies, the safeguarding of his weird brother, and especially Kishtari’s return. The panacea was theirs, he affirmed, a dozen jugs plus the option to trade for more. Kish attempted a subtle threat to impel her patron to reveal the recipe, but realized that the chieftain’s son and she were hardly alone. Several coconut-throw-happy goblins surrounded them. Cenkil laughed and looked down at his nethers. “I’m afraid you are incapable of reproducing the ingredients.”

Monica noticed Gelik, whom she remembered on the Jenevire as being gregarious and always up for a good time, appeared nervous and withdrawn. He was surrounded by cavorting goblins. Though these had tails, their mannerisms were similar to those on the mainland who’d plagued gnomanity for eons. The human woman sat with the gnome for a long while, and the two conversed over many scholarly subjects. In a sweet exchange, Gelik said Monica was special because she was able to make a gnome feel at ease during a goblin party. Gelik finally admitted that he was too academic, Jask too old, Aerys too drunk, and Sasha too immature to be adventurers; but that Monica and her group were exactly what the most exciting Pathfinder Chronicles were made of. And he wanted to write them. And maybe be their agent. In fact, he’d already started. He just needed something to call Monica and her friends other than “the castaways” or “the heroes,” which was really tripping him up.

Dornas and Basako kept each other company while engaged in a battle of wits. Basako was a statesman through and through, with the responsibility of keeping alive a small, probably inbred community of his chaos and fire-loving kinfolk. Basako was quite candid about the low opinion he held of the monkey goblins, and believed that his eventual successor, Cenkil, would be a far better leader “for the morons.” Dornas got the savvy old chieftain to admit, circuitously, that he kept knowledge of the outside world from his subjects and sons. Basako was indeed a tiefling, his father a half-fiend, his mother also from the lower planes. From his parents, he learned of the world beyond the island’s shores, though Basako half-heartedly tried to cover up his lies from Dornas by claiming it was all in books he recovered from shipwrecks. Basako didn’t even believe in the tribal faith, professed it was a tool of the witch doctors, and that his son Likki was probably inspired to divine power by something beyond their ken. He was on a confessionary roll, so the goblin chief went ahead and admitted also that the only reason he sent his sons to Black Widow Bluff to retake the temple his father discovered decades prior was to give them something meaningful to do, and to reinstall in his subjects some measure of zeal.

Oh, and also that the Mongrukoo usually killed and ate “wreck-born” like Dornas and the castaways, but then again so did the Klixarpillar mites. So really, everyone wins, right?

Party Poopers

Kor’lec eventually got tired of brooding at the table so he and his dinosaur pal Kai went into the bush to scout around. And not for the first time in history and fable, someone’s inhibitions worked in the favor of those with no (or few) hibitions. The sun had gone down, and in the distance, the druid’s keen elven eyes spotted… nothing. But he definitely heard something. And that’s when Sasha’s hand appeared on his forehead, and guided Kor’lec’s keen elven eyes to the distant treetops, and horror met his gaze. A bat-like monstrosity was crushing two monkey goblins’ bodies in each hand and squeezing their blood into its gulping maw. When the creature saw Kor’lec and Sasha, it intelligently gestured its recognition, howled, and flew off; discarding its wrung-out victims like spent squeeze tubes.monster_-_red_mountain_devil.jpg

Kor’lec decided that the party was over. He attempted to imitate the creature’s sound, but few of the drunken party guests registered it or the original. Dornas, however, noticed it amid Basako’s droning on, and magically amplified it. The effect on the goblins was immediate and dramatic. All seemingly sobered up and scampered into the treetops, many murmuring in Goblin or Abyssal “The Devil!”

Cenkil grabbed Kishtari’s wrist and lifted her up into his hutch, one of the only Mongrukoo lairs that was decked out with furnishings, art, and a roof. There, the goblin Casanova pulled out a few mismatched glasses and popped open the brandy that the tripping telepath had given him when they met. After a lengthy exposition as to how his proposals would benefit her, Cenkil finally cut to the chase about the two things he wanted from Kishtari; first of which was for her and her friends to help him kill his father. He wanted to be chief, and Basako was still too tough to beat in a fair duel. In exchange, there was a large tribe of cannibal humans guarding the lighthouse to the far southwest called the Thrunefangs. Basako would not move against them under any circumstances, but if the Mongrukoo were led by a new chief (and a cshief; which was the second thing Cenkil wanted)…

Kish said she’d talk to the others, but needed to get back to them immediately. Cenkil said he understood, but wanted to give “his beloved” a parting gift, so the goblin yanked out a of thick shaft of wood, to which he affixed a glowing, clearly enchanted obsidian spearhead. Before presenting the weapon to the kalashtar, Cenkil said, solemnly, “return to me with it, or on it.”

Kish slid down the vine to the forest floor around the same time as Likki, as the action-ready adventurers joined backs-to-backs prepared for a battle that wasn’t actually coming. And though, by prematurely ending the party, the heroes were spared any further half-truths and intrigues from their “allies” on Smuggler’s Shiv, they still hadn’t gotten the panacea they were promised.




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