Brad's Shattered Star

And so it begins

In the beginning, there was Thassilon: An ancient empire existing more than 10,000 years before your birth. It was governed by the mighty Runelords, and ruled by the powerful Emperor Xin. There are many old tales that tell of the fall of the Runelords. As they turned away from the seven virtues of rule, their paths twisted and corrupted until they resembled the seven deadly sins instead. Harnessing the power held in runes, they fueled powerful magic to turn on their ruler, so that no man stood above them.

There are many theories over what brought Thassilon to its knees after Emperor Xin finally died. A common tale is that the power-hungry Runelords fought each-other in tremendous world-shaking battles, shattering the empire into disparate fragments of civilization. Others say that the Runelords discovered an evil power in their research of rune magic, one so strong that even they could not control it. Regardless of what brought its end about, the crumbling stones that dot the Varisian landscape serve as ancient sentinels bearing a powerful message: even the mightiest can fall.

Across the lands of Golarion, there are many remnants of the old Thassilon: from ruins spread across the land, to underground tombs and complexes beneath cities such as Kaer Maga. Even the great capital of Magnimar, where our story of the Shattered Star begins, is built upon the Irespan: an enormous bridge that stretches so far out into the Varisian Gulf that it passes across the horizon. It is told that the Irespan served as the main travel route through the mountainous realm of Bakrakhan, the nation of Thassilon ruled by Alaznist, the Runelord of Wrath.


- Magnimar and the Irespan

The tale of the Shattered Star begins with apparent inauspiciousness: people are born – as they are wont to be – yet these people know not the path their lives will take. You all came from humble enough beginnings, yet every sight, every smell, every action you ever took has lead you upon this road of possibility. It brought you to Heidmarch Manor, when you scrawled your signature with steady hand upon the piece of paper signifying you as a Pathfinder of Golarion: a seeker of treasure, a delver of secrets, a chronicler of history, or – to use the common phrase – a murderhobo. You have completed a few odd jobs here and there, mostly minor tasks such as rooting out old relics in the collapsed and abandoned warehouses along the Dockway side of Magnimar. The glow of success from these menial tasks cannot compare with the flush of triumph you feel receive the following note:

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Session 1 - 9/21/2013

Our story begins with four intrepid adventurers – Reinnwulf, the human barbarian, Tine, the gnome alchemist, Kriscilla, the halfling rogue, and Andree, the aasimar fighter – being summoned to the Pathfinders Lodge to meet with Venture Captain Sheila Heidmarch. While there, they were given a puzzle box to solve, which served as an audition of sorts.

The puzzle box was a test of the mind, to see if the adventurers could eke out slues from a forgotten language and tease open an ancient artifact. Thassilonian runes spelling out the word CRUEL were the key, as was the fact that you could switch two letters in the sequence by touching them simultaneously. The group quickly determined that the solution to the puzzle was to rearrange the letters to form the word LUCRE – a petty joke by some ancient Thassilonian noble, no doubt.

Not even the great Sheila Heidmarch herself expected what the companions found inside the box, however. As the lid popped open, a pair of pugwampis – destructive little gremlins – leaped out and caused mayhem within the Lodge library. The gremlins were quickly dispatched, with only a few torn books, gnawed candles, and minor bloodstains to show for their mischief.

Rather than being dismayed at the state of the library, Sheila apologized for the attack – though she did use the trap as anecdotal evidence that the life of an adventurer was like to be fraught with excitement and danger, and that problems were solved with the mind as often as with the sword. She then explained why she had called the group together.

One of her informants, a Sczarni gang member named Natalya Vancaskerin, had gone missing after reporting that she and her crew were on to a great find. Only, she missed the meeting she had set up with Sheila. The Lodge leader wanted the companions – who would likely draw very little attention in Magnimar – to investigate Natalya’s disappearance, and to bring her – and any artifact that she might have found – back to Heidmarch Manor. Sheila had few clues to give as to where to begin the search: she mentioned that Natalya might be residing in the garrison’s cells at the Arvensoar, that a carnival fortune teller called " The Amazing Zograthy was her initial contact with Natalya, and that citizens were rumored to be disappearing into the hands of Nidalese slavers. Armed with these dubious starting points, the companions set off into the city.


- The Arvensoar is a majestic place for a garrison and prison

They started with the city watch at the Arvensoar garrison, speaking to Captain Kasedei. They learned that Natalya was not currently incarcerated, and that The Amazing Zograthy might indeed be a good source of information. They also learned that Natalya had been a member of the Tower Girls, who recently moved their headquarters. They had previously been staying with a wretched beast of a man named Fenster the Blight, somewhere in the Underbridge area.

Looking at a map of the city, the companions decided to visit Zograthy first, and glean what knowledge the man had of Natalya before trying to find Fenster’s place. They found the old fortune teller in a booth in a semi-permanent run-down, trash heap of a carnival. He extorted a nice gem from them to tell them all her knew of Natalya and her whereabouts. It turned out he had quite a bit of knowledge. He also pointed them to Fenster’s place, a location they now deeply desired to visit. Among other things, he confirmed the rumors of the missing people, but professed no real knowledge of the disappearances.

It wasn’t hard for them to find Fenster’s place, a run down warehouse with a sign out front claiming “LEEV GIFT AN WATE”. Dropping a handful of ration bars onto the plate, the party only had to wait a few moments before a vile, stinking, filthy wretch of a man appeared to scarf up the proffered goods. His trademark “Wha chew want Fenster ta dew?” came out though a mouthful of rations. He claimed to know all about Natalya’s whereabouts, but refused to give any information for less than “a hunnert gold”. Kriscilla tried to convince him that she had a special coin easily worth that, but he didn’t fall for the trick. Instead, the companions decided to track down rumors of the slavers while giving Fenster time to forget about the false coin.

Naturally, the next best thing to do was to stroll through the most dangerous part of the city asking questions of everyone they met and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They tracked the slaver rumors to an abandoned tavern, The Puffy Pelican, where Kriscilla found evidence that the tavern was not quite as abandoned as it appeared. They kept the place under surveillance, and along about midnight, the light from a lantern appeared within the building. Reinnwulf led a charge into the building, followed closely by Tine, and succeeded in denting the wood floor with his head when a sorcerer caught them both in a Color Spray spell. Fortunately, Kriscilla and Andree were able to subdue the man, largely due to it being hard to fight back with an arrow piercing your lungs.

Andree recognized the man as Plutivarch Dremis, a man with a 100 gold bounty on his head for various petty crimes (most of which made the guard look like fools, and thus endeared him to them greatly). The companions questioned the man, and found that he was the one spreading rumors of the slavers, hoping to draw some young and cocky Pathfinders into a trap, where he could sell them to the Aspis Consortium and earn himself a place in that organization. They also learned he wasn’t too bright.


- Plutivarch Dremis was the “criminal mastermind” behind the fake Nidalese slavers

They spent the rest of the night in the Puffy Pelican, and set out at first light for the garrison prison, a bound prisoner in tow. Captain Kasedei thanked them most sweetly for the gift, and returned it in kind with a heavy bag of gold. Then, the group headed back to Fenster’s place, pausing only to get a cheap vase from a street vendor. Kriscilla was finally able to convince Fenster of the items great worth, after bobbling a few times, and the man told them of the place where Natalya now had her hideout. Apparently she split with the Tower Girls and was setting up her own gang.

The companions reconned the new hideout and found at least two of the new gang, a pair of toughs that tried to out muscle Reinnwulf. They quickly learned the error of attacking a human giant holding a spear when you are armed only with spiky clubs. Of course, they will now have to put that learning into practice in their next lives. Inside the half-burnt boarding house, they found the rest of Natalya’s gang, a small group of sewer goblins. The fights got messy, and not a few things got dead – goblins in groups being the perfect targets for Tine’s bomb-throwing skills – but none of the companions took any irreversible damage. The same could not be said of Reinnwulf’s pants, which quickly became soaked with sewage after he fell into one of the sunken floor areas.

Up in the attic, guarded by more goblins with crossbows and a goblin snake, they found Natalya Vancaskerin. With a presence of mind not normally seen in criminals and evil masterminds, the woman saw Reinnwulf coming and ran for it. Unfortunately for her, she missed a rafter and fell through the rotten attic floor into a pool of sewage just behind Andree. Andree shrugged off Natalya’s magics and backed the woman into a corner as goblin chunked rained down from the attic where Reinnwulf was mopping things up. The barbarian jumped down from above to hold Natalya still, and Andree slammed the flat of her shortsword into the woman’s head. Lights out for Ms. Vancaskering and a good two days’ work for the companions. Now all they needed to find was a good cleaners…and maybe a bath house.


- Natalya Vancaskerin, ex-Tower Girl, ex-freelance informant, ex-living member of the human race?

As Kriscilla ran her fingers through the various pockets and other hiding places on Natalya’s body, she found an assortment of treasures. The oddest one was a triangular shape made of a coppery metal unlike anything the companions have seen before. It has an indentation in the base, a circular impression, and the edges are smooth, though the metal itself appears to be pitted with age. Kriscilla shrugged and placed it into one of her packs as the companions turned to leave.

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Session 2 - The Forgotten Column

The companions returned Ms. Vancaskerin to the Heidharch Manor to find that the Venture Captain had much more in store for them. The shard that Krisilla had palmed was apparently one of the fragments of the Sihedron of Xin – the Shattered Star. After learning the history of the sihedron, the companions watched with anticipation as Krisilla fitted a special ioun stone to the shard. In a strange vision, she learned that the next fragment of the Shattered Star resided somewhere in the Crow, one of the pilings that used to hold the Irespan aloft.

Armed with information gathered from the questioning of Natalya Vancaskerin, and aided by a new recruit – Enamos, the self-styled pirate king – the companions set out for the Crow. They found evidence of the new entrance right away – a busted down wall is kind of difficult to miss – and began scouring the place for sign of the next shard fragment. It wasn’t long before they came across the newest member of their party, a monk named Hydra, who had been caught poking his nose into the wrong corners.

Along the way, they ran into the remnants of the Tower Girls, Ms. Vancaskerin’s former allies and sometimes lycanthropes. The fight for the Crow went up an down four levels of the Crow, ending with a climactic battle against the werrat leader of the Tower Girls – Ayala Javeski. The companions manged to defeat the lycanthrope, avoid being bitten, and throw out a few good puns to just make it complete.


Ayala has a nasty temper, and an even nastier bite

In the final room, they found a set of burning hot metal doors, with more Thassilonian runes. Like the puzzle box they had opened at Heidmarch Manor, these runes too could be manipulated, though it caused much pain to do so. Eventually THE EYES had been transformed to THEY SEE and SILENT to LISTEN, and the doors swung open. A staircase led back down to the first level, and from there to another set of stairs spiraling down into the darkness.

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Session 3 - Into the Deeps of The Crow

Below sea level is a whole other region of the Thassilonian artifact known as the Crow. The companions continued down into the darkness, leaving behind the upper level in search of what might lie below.

The first level below the sea was the abode of some mites, funny little blue creatures like someone took the ugly stick and beat the trash out of a lost colony of smurfs. The mites have some affinity with vermin, and had scattered giant ants and spiders around to protect their homes. The tunnels made for big people apparently weren’t good enough for the two foot high creatures, and they were busily carving out space of their own in between the walls of the Crow’s lower level when the companions found them.

Krisilla got a little freaked out when she followed a tunnel to where the mites were digging, and they chased her with pickaxes, only to find Hydra in no mood to play. How they managed a diplomatic response when they finally met the king with mite goo dripping from the monk’s hands and clothing is some kind of miracle.

The mite king Zugga sent the heroes off into the dark depths to find his lost pet “Clickylegs” and return his spare crown. Of course Clickylegs was in an area of the Crow that the mites refused to go into , so the companions ventured forth. Battling spiders and other creatures, they eventually found the hook horror Clickylegs and returned the king’s treasured spare crown.


Mostly nose and all comical, King Zugga had a mission…if only he could remember what it was!

Along the way, they found another staircase heading further down, and being the intrepid adventurers they are, they blundered on down. After all, they had found a magic fountain, hadn’t they?

Immediately below was a giant maggot with the face of a demon and the smell of a demon’s cesspit. And that was just for starters. It wasn’t long after that when they ran into the domain of the “Suzerain of Little Erebus”. Apparently aasimar don’t like imps, because the thrashed the little creature before he could make them a business offer. From there, it was only a matter of time before they found a place to stay for the night. Tomorrow is another day…

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Session 4 - Down, Down We Go My Lads

Rested and ready, the companions continued their search for the fragment of the shattered star. After plowing through some basic dungeon fodder, they came upon a wondrous sight. An observation tower jutted out from the base of the Crow into the waters of the bay. From its crystalline glass windows, the bay was visible, as were a number of shipwrecks. Hydra wanted to be out there so bad, it almost hurt…and there was an exit leading out into the bay as well!


The Liza Jane rested on the bottom of the bay, just beckoning for the companions to come explore her.

As they continued to explore that level of the dungeon, the companions ran into an accuser devil, who suffered much the same fate as the imp had. It and its lesser imp servants were dispatched with ease. The presence of so many devils in the area had the party concerned, and they found out why when they reached the Maze.

The maze was made of coppery metallic plates and was a series of concentric rings, connected and disconnected as to funnel energies into keeping a small rift to Hell opened. Stalwart heroes can’t abide such things, so the companions did their best to disable the Maze and close the rift.

Continuing to follow the pull of the shard ever downwards, the companions entered the sewer level of the Crow, though the sludge flowing through the channels around seemed to be far less smelly than would normally be expected. The first creature they met turned out to be a helpful ghoul, who merrily sent a giddy Hydra back to the sunken ship to retrieve a keepsake. Once in hand, the ghoul was all tongue, telling the companions all about the sewers and the dangers therein.

Navigating through the twisting passages and fighting off some jumping eels the size of ponies, the companions found a balcony overlooking a central area. There, they saw dark-skinned creatures with wild white hair having a very animated discussion. Hydra whispered “drow” having heard of creatures with a similar description, and the companions waded in to do battle…without giving thought to diplomacy or discussion. This narrator hopes that the trio was the bad guys, because they died rapidly to the blades and spells of the adventuring crew.


I mean, come one, with hair like that he has to be a bad guy, right?

Such heroic deeds take a lot of energy, so the companions decided to call it a day. They cleared out a nice burrow for themselves in a mostly-abandoned surgery suite and turned in. Tomorrow is another day…

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Session 5 - Wrapping up the first module

Our companions finished clearing this area of the dungeon to find none other than their old pal Fenster, mind controlled and angry, doing the bidding of one of the white-haired creatures. Putting him down for his own good seemed the order of the day, as did rescuing three prisoners being kept for experimentation. Apparently the white-hairs were the cause of the disappearances. Won’t the mayor be happy to hear that mystery has been solved? Then, finding a secret passage, the companions traveled further underground to find a pedestal with an indentation of a seven pointed star, and the next shard sitting in its slot.

The party returned to the Lodge, stopping along the way to deliver Liza Jane’s brooch to its rightful owner. The Shard of Greed was activated, and Krisella got a vision of a giant statue over a bay of churning water. Sheila Heidmarch recognized the description as The Lady’s Light, a relatively famous landmark in the area.


Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be slaves.

She sent the companions to find a crazy street prophet named Jasper Kandamerus. He had once been a guide in the Mushfens, a swamp surrounding the landward side of the Lady’s Light. His mind may have been broken by life’s events, but he should have some decent information about the area. The companions found him just in time to save the old coot from a street gang, who were determined to shut him up permanently.

Jasper thanked the companions profusely, and gravely uttered “Choose thy allies wisely, for the armored one who rides with arms akimbo will prove thy most
precious comrade!”. With those clear words of wisdom, he told the party that he would definitely accompany them to the Mushfens. Venture Captain Heidmarch found them a ship and, with only a small ruckus onboard, the companions (plus one) found themselves on shore, only a few hours’ walk from the statue-like lighthouse (or is that lighthouse-like statue?)

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Session 6 - To get under the Lady's skirts

Beginning a short ways north of the Lady’s Light, the companions found movement through the swamp to be more difficult than they thought it would be. An hour’s travel turned into three before they were close enough to see the monolith over the trees. Their erstwhile guide muttered and mumbled through their journey, but when Jasper insisted they take the westward fork in the trail, everyone agreed to follow him.

They came upon a witch’s hut in the middle of the swamp, sitting on an island with a number of ‘keep out’ signs around – skulls, arcane symbols, the actual words ‘keep out’. The witch, Maroux, was willing to give the group advice on how to get under the Lady’s skirts, if they were willing to do a favor for her – gather some seaweed that grew near a sunken ship.


Maroux may not be much of a cook, but at least she’s a looker.

The ship was haunted by its former crew (of course), but it was a simple matter to dispose of the skeletons and make their way back to the witch with a few handfuls of the seaweed she desired. Over a horrid-tasting meal, the witch told of the caves leading underneath the Lady’s Light, and of the boggard and troglodyte tribes that guarded the entrances. She also told of a group of female knights – gray ladies, or some such – that had apparently penetrated the Lady (BG – her words, not mine!).

Armed with this knowledge, the companions sought out the troglodytes and, having found the entrance to the caves, were fighting the guards when Jasper, in his madness, swung a punch at Tyne. The gnome, in a completely justified and not at all overreaction threw a bomb at the mad cleric, who then proceeded to beat himself with his heavy flail until knocked unconscious.

The man came to his senses, along with his consciousness, though any trust the companions had in his abilities had passed. They continued to rampage through the troglodyte caves until at one point they came across a trog that surrendered, begged for mercy, and offered aid if the companions would kill the evil cleric that was ruling the tribe into the mud. Of course the stalwart companion would kill an evil cleric and loot his stuff! That done, they left Jasper caring for the rest of the trog tribe, who had fallen prey to some illness, with a promise of future aid if they ever returned.

Following a secret tunnel from the troglodyte caves, the companions ran into some snatcher-grabber bugs (giant solifugids) that nearly killed Hydra. That chamber had four exits, one of which much surely lead to the Lady’s Light. Of course, the companions had to try all of them before finding the correct one, fighting (in turn) some boggards (who nearly killed Hydra) and a 5-headed pyrohydra (who also nearly killed Hydra), before finding a chamber that looked as if it might lead in to the area below the Lady’s Light.

In that entrance chamber, four caryatid columns attacked, smashing every melee weapon used against them, and sorely pressing the companions’ fighting skills. Fortunately, explosions and arrows don’t really care about the hardness of the creature’s they impact, and the companions managed to destroy all of the marble guardians. They watched as one of the statues’ marble head rolled into the open pit…and slowly sank out of sight. Looking at each other in amazement, the companions jumped into the hole, one-by-one, and floated into the lower levels of the Lady’s Light.

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Session 7 - A light in the tunnel...finally!

The Lady’s Light was aptly named, as this was the first dungeon the companions had ever been in where they didn’t need their own light sources. The halls were aglow with light shining from the worked marble floors. The place had a clean feel, one that was sure to be a false impression.

The one defining feature here was a marble sarcophagus containing the body of a beautiful woman, decked out in jewelry. Enamos reached in to explore her…treasures. When he awoke, his companions were busy staring at his dead body on the floor. As he looked down at his own body, he realized he had woken up in the body of the woman! Everyone took it amazingly well in stride, and they headed out, having first dumped Enamos’ original body into a bag of holding.

Heading out of the first area, the companions found that all exits from the halls led to water. A pair of boats allowed them to move against the flow of the water to a hole in the rock where clean water gushed from an opening in the wall. Apparently, the water was being created or transported to this spot, as the water gushed inwards, but the hole in the rock only went back a few inches. A battle ensued here with some water elementals, and after trying their best to avoid getting knocked into the water, Kris went and jumped in anyways.

She had found an underwater tunnel leading directly to the bowels of the complex. After the others had joined her, they proceeded to tear through the rooms here – sometimes literally – in search of clues to the next shard’s location. Along the way they discovered a demon in mid summons, a giant bed for thirteen, and a magic torch that seemed to do nothing more than summon flying polliwogs of death. Poor Andree’s mind snapped and she had a hard time telling good coffee from bad – or friend from foe, for that matter.


A seugathi’s scream can break the minds of mortal men and women, and if the scream doesn’t do it, it’s looks sure will!

After disposing of some stone statues that stubbornly refused to stop moving around and nearly killed Andree, the group ran across a Dhampir villain. The man had a good plan of attack, right up until he met the enemy. His spells went awry, his attacks missed badly, and in the end, he ended up spitted on Reinwulf’s spear, with chars, burns, and contusions over most of his body. Apparently he hadn’t been expecting an attack from the rear, so to speak, as he had been guarding the “entrance” into this level.

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Session 8 - Don't split the party

Once leaving the safe area where the dhampir was, the group found themselves on a shoreline, facing an island platform with a glass statue on it. The island wasn’t that far, and with a little rope work, they managed to anchor a rope. Kris scampered across it like an acrobat, while Hydra and Reinnwulf crossed over the wet way. The pull of the water’s current was much too strong for the men, and they lost their grips. Tine, riding on Reinnwulf’s shoulders, almost manged to hold on to the rope, but was also sucked into the water. All three of them were pulled into a waterfall that hurtled them downward into a dark cavern below. Meanwhile, Kris fought the glass golem, which knocked her into the water. Andree, rushing to rescue her, managed to get close before they both fell into the darkness below.

Enamos, still in his female body, decided not to go swimming, and backtracked instead. He managed to find a secret chamber that had a teleportation device. Much to everyone’s surprise, Enamos ended up on a small dock set against one wall of the same cavern that the others had fallen into. After killing a small band of sea ghouls, the party got into yet another pair of boats to explore this place.

The first stop was the lair of a female giant claiming to be the Runelord of Lust herself. She certainly didn’t incte lust in anyone present, and her mighty attacks were no match to the combined offers of the group.

The watery caverns were filled with dangerous fauna, from the ghouls to strange undead bats. There were even some giant eels that tried to make a quick snack of some of the party, after they fell victim to some sort of swimming curse and leaped overboard.


Helanda can fight…naked or not.

Once they made land, the crew rescued a former gray maiden from a hag, who was torturing her to death. After dealing with the hag, and offering the woman, Helanda, a chance at revenge against her former sisters, the group burst into the Gray Maiden barracks and slew a double handful of the former Queensguard. Some of them were even clothed at the time. Spirits high, and a hot bath at hand, the group decided to hunker down for the night.

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