RotRL 2013

Chapter 1: In Summary
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Torch

Our adventure begins in the small community of Sandpoint, located along the Lost Coast and the bluish-green waters of the Varisian Gulf. The Swallowtail Festival had just begun, in celebration of both the Autumnal Equinox and the official opening of the new Sandpoint Church. The festivities and friendly competitions proceeded well into the evening, until the scheduled consecration of the new church by Father Zantus.

Disaster struck! Goblins infiltrated the town and chose that very moment to strike. Using whatever means available to them, the goblins caused as much damage as their tiny frames and tinier intellects could allow. Structurally, the village remains intact, but there were a number of casualties, including the notable noble Aldern Foxglove. The group of adventurers drove off the goblins before they could do more harm. Thanks to their heroics, they have become essentially local celebrities, with merchants and barkeeps offering goods and drinks on the house. Some of the locals even come to rely on the adventurers, asking their assistance to deal with matters both trivial and complex.

Ameiko Kaijutsu, the bartender of the Rusty Dragon and personal friend of Syra, goes missing just a few days after the goblin assault on Sandpoint. Her maid found a letter from Ameiko’s brother, Tsuto, suggesting she may be found at the Sandpoint Glassworks. Upon investigation, the Glassworks was filled with more goblins, the gruesome display of Lonjiku Kaijutsu, and Tsuto. After dispatching the goblins and apprehending Tsuto, a surprised Ameiko was found bound in the basement of the Glassworks. She offered rooms for a lifetime at the Rusty Dragon in gratitude for the adventurers’ rescue.

However, that was not all to be found within the Glassworks. A long tunnel beneath the building ran out to the side of a cliff overlooking the Varisian Gulf, as well as a once bricked-off corridor that leads into catacombs. Within these catacombs laid strange aberrations called Sinspawn; hairless humanoids on dog-like legs, hideous mouth flanked by tiny arms with three-fingered hands. Koruvus, a notable goblin fighter, found his death within the catacombs, but a strange small demon evaded the adventurers. A shrine to the demon queen Lamashtu resided deep within, along with a peculiar magical well that possessed the ability to create new Sinspawn. The adventurers managed to drain the well of its power by repeatedly creating the creatures.

From there, the adventurers had a small bit of breathing room. They received correspondence from Shalelu Andosana, a hunter in the region, that the bulk of goblin forces seemed concentrated in the Thistletop area. The adventurers investigated the area to find more than just a few goblins. Within, they found the Warchief Ripnugget, along with a mysterious female human mage, the curious demon from the catacombs, and a woman named Nualia. Within the basement of the Thistletop was found an unusual back chamber, containing an ancient magic projecting an image and playing unknown words, as well as a room full of surgical tools and a prison for a “millennium beast”.

With the goblins of Thistletop and Nualia defeated, it seems that Sandpoint has found a respite, at least for a time.

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Nualia's Story

Nualia was an aasimar foundling raised by a man named Ezakien Tobyn. Her childhood as a whole was lonely and sad. Her unearthly beauty made the other children jealous or shy, and many of them took to playing cruel jokes on her. The adults in town weren’t much better — many of the superstitious Varisians viewed Nualia as blessed by Desna, a sort of “reverse deformity.” Rumors that her touch or proximity could cure warts and rashes, that locks of her hair brewed into tea could increase fertility, and that her voice could drive out evil spirits led to a succession of awkward and humiliating requests over the years. Poor Nualia felt more like a freak than a young girl by the time she came of age, so when Delek Viskanta, a local Varisian youth, began to court her, she practically fell into his arms in gratitude.

Knowing her father wouldn’t approve of a relationship with a Varisian (he wanted her to remain pure so that she could join a prestigious convent), they kept the affair a secret. The couple met many times in hidden places, a favorite being an abandoned smuggler’s tunnel under town that Delek had discovered as a child. Before long, Nualia realized she was pregnant. When she told Delek, he revealed his true colors and, after calling her a slut, fled Sandpoint rather than face her father’s wrath. Nualia’s shock quickly turned to rage, yet she had nowhere to vent her anger. She bottled it up, and when her father discovered her delicate condition, his reaction to her indiscretions only furthered her shame and anger. He forbade her to leave the church, lectured her nightly, and made her pray to Desna for forgiveness. In doing so, he unknowingly nurtured her growing hate.

Tragedy struck when Nualia was nearly seven months pregnant. She miscarried her child, a child whose monstrously deformed shape she only glimpsed before blanching midwives stole it away to burn it in secret. (As the child had been conceived in the smuggler’s tunnels, in close proximity to the no-longer hidden shrine to Lamashtu, the child itself was deformed and horrific.) The double shock of losing a child and the realization that she had been carrying a fiend in her belly for seven months was too much. Nualia fell into a coma.

As Nualia slept, she dreamed unhealthy dreams. Fueled by wrath and the taint of Lamashtu, Nualia became further obsessed with the cruel demon goddess and the conviction that her wretched life was inflicted on her by those around her. She came to see her angelic heritage as a curse, and the demon-sent nightmares showed her how to expunge this taint from her body and soul, replacing it with chaos and cruelty. When she finally awoke, Nualia was someone new, someone who didn’t flinch at what Lamashtu asked of her. She jammed her father’s door shut as he slept, lit the church on fire, and fled Sandpoint.

The locals assumed that Nualia had burned in the fire, a tragedy made all the worse by the death of Father Tobyn as well. Yet Nualia lived. She fled to Magnimar, where she enlisted the aid of a group of Norgorber-worshiping killers known as the Skinsaw Cult. With their aid, she tracked down Delek and murdered him. Yet his death did not fill her with the need for revenge — in only quickened in her need for more of the same, for Sandpoint and its hated citizens still lived.

Seeing a kindred spirit in the tortured woman, the mysterious lader of the Skinsaw Cult gave Nualia a medallion bearing a carving of a seven-pointed star called a sihedron medallion. Nualia learned that she had a larger role to play, and that her dreams were a map to her destiny. Taking the advice to heart, Nualia returned to Sandpoint and found herself drawn to the brick wall in the smuggler’s tunnels where she and Delek had conceived her deformed child. Nualia bashed down the wall, and in so doing, discovered the “Catacombs of Wrath” and the quasit Erylium, also a follower of Lamashtu. For many months, Nualia studied under Erylium’s tutelage. During this time, Nualia received another vision from Lamashtu — a vision of a monstrous goblin wolf imprisoned in an underground room. In Nualia’s dreams, she learned that this creature, a barghest named Malfeshnekor, was also one of Lamashtu’s chosen. If she could find him and free him, he would not only help her achieve her vengeance against the town of Sandpoint, but he would be the key in cleansing her body of what she had come to see as her “celestial taint.” Nualia wanted to be one of Lamashtu’s children now. She wanted to become a monster herself.

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The Syrpents Tane
Fairy Tales of the Eldest

This book presents tales of the Tane — the most feared of a group of notorious fey known as the Twisted, goliaths of war and madness dreamt and stitched into being by the Eldest. The Tane are said to be terrible to behold, and the stories speak of them stumbling into mortal lands, where they ravage kingdoms by creating firestorms, crushing keeps with their feet, and eating dragons. Specific Tane described include monstrous creatuers such as the Jabberwock (a thing of scales, fire, and crushing fury), the Thrasfyr (also known as the Dreaming Hill of the Dark, a chimeric monster wrapped in chains that took part in the Three-Thousand-Year War of the Eldest), and the Sard (the Storm of Insanities, a thing of boughs, briars, and misery, an ancient Wychwood Elm given life and hate by the Eldest). This is a fine and rare tome.

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Ironbriar Journal

This ciphered work serves as both a ledger and journal for Justice Ironbriar, written in a cipher of Elven, Draconic, and Infernal. Within is detailed a smattering of information about “Father Skinsaw”. It seems that the cult known as the Skinsaw Men hold that their murders serve a greater cause, their leaders receiving visions of victims that they believe to be divine messages from Father Skinsaw. With each murder, society is shaped — deeds that the victim might have accomplished go unrealized and the lives of those who knew the dead shift and change in subtle ways. Over the course of years, or even centuries, murders can shape nations and write the future’s history; and when the ‘Final Blooding’ occurs, then shall Father Skinsaw reveal to his flock the purpose of this shaping of society by death.

It appears that the Skinsaw Men of Magnimar are a cult that sprang from a master cult which existed for hundreds of years in the Chelish city of Vyre. The Magnimarian branch was run by Ironbriar since the disappearance of Vorel Foxglove.

Ironbriar also helped to establish the semi-secret Brothers of the Seven society as a cover for the cult, and over the decades, Ironbriar has taken advantage of his then-growing cadre of murderers, using them for additional income.

The journal also describes “Lovely Xanesha”, who seems to have stolen Ironbriar’s heart. Ironbriar writes that he thought her initial interests would be his connections among the justices of Magnimar, but discovered it was actually for his Skinsaw Men. According to the journal, Ironbriar has met with Xanesha dozens of times at a site in northern Magnimar called the “Shadow Clock”.

The ledger largely contains mundane information compared to the journal, but one entry likely stands out from the rest: a receipt of payment from the “Red Mantis” for delivery of “Vorel’s Legacy”.

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