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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 3

Since people still seem interested, here’s the notes for session 3 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2.

The PCs wake having stayed the night at the farm run by Morgan’s Dad — whose name is Ferris, and can go by Goodman Ferris, Yeoman Ferris, or Landsman Ferris (since he owns his own land and has the deed on register in the Imperial Archive on the Continent). Player’s start to jokingly refer to him as “MorgansDa.”

The storms which have wracked the area for the entire autumn have suddenly stopped, but it’s unseasonably cold – winter cold. There’s barely any wind, the sky is clear but the air crisp, and the night was so cold dry wood cracked and frost formed on stones around the farm.

Heading out from MorganDa’s Farm, the Pcs see a group of 7 sailors coming down to road to the farm, pushing a cart. Hailing them, the PCs discover they are from the “King of the Crest,” an enormous 14-decked imperial Gantharian warship (Ganthar being a major kingdom on the Continent). The sailors are looking to buy food, and offer to pay in gold, or double-price in spellsalt. Gantharians being legendarily proper and polite there’s no sense of threat, so Morgan takes most of the sailors (lead by Deckmaster Rithan) goes to take to Ferris and see about buying some food.

“Bohrgun the Badly-Named” (the ship’s bosun) – stays with the other PCs to answer questions. They learn the Continental Empire nation of Curtalia, “the Grainhouse of the Empire,” has been stricken by a blight that both destroys crops and rots food in warehouses within hours. Curtalia is being avoided and quarantined, but many of the major food stores of the Empire are already infected. The King of the Crest managed not to put in at any quarantined harbors (which would have led to it being quarantined), but as a result it is seriously low on foodstuffs.

Further, the PCs are told Tidesgate is being flooded by other ships looking to buy food. Because the sea is suddenly becalmed, only ships large enough to afford a storm witch or sea warden (druid) can make it to the island easily, and those ships are too big to put in anywhere by Tidesgate or Seagrace. Most are avoiding Seagrace unless they have contacts or contracts there, so Tidesgate is being inundated with big ships.

MorganDa agrees to sell some preserved food, all for spell salt, and the Pcs get to see that he has potato cellars on his land that aren’t easily spotted (being under trap doors covered in sod and then under scattered hay and where he parks his empty wagons and large items waiting for repair.

The group then head back to Tidesgate. As they approach they see other groups of sailors from different nations (not all from the Continental empire) heading out of town, but in this case each is accompanied by someone the group recognizes as a responsible citizen of Tidesgate (often guards-for-hire). The harbor is choked with huge warships, many from distant lands that normally bypass this island when making a route along the Circle Trade, but must now be desperate for supplies. One is a huge ship with a spiked roof covering it, and rows of long oars in addition to massive ribbed sails, and is clearly not from any nation of the nearby Continent.

(Art by Juulijs)

In town, the price of food is skyrocketing in town as captains go door-to-door to buy anything people will spare, and send their men out of town to buy from farms directly (such as the Gantharian soldiers were doing). Rumor is some ship’s crews are threatening or outright stealing, while others offering to buy with spell salt at x2 to x5 food’s normal cost, and even black sugar is being used at 2/3 its normal value. Some are sending foraging parties into the plains and woods, which is technically illegal. The law is normally ignored, but there are so many now that local residents that depend on forage are beginning to run low on food, and there’s been a spike in apparent wolf and trihorn steer attacks, suggesting the sailors are stirring up trouble.

The PCs see Pottage’s Tottage has been turned into a central depository, with townsfolk bringing anything they are willing to part with to sell on consignment (and then locking their home’s doors and placing “No Thing For Sale” signs on them), while Pottage takes lists of desired items from a line of ship’s quartermasters, and makes them wait until each evening for him to say what each can buy, and at what price. The PCs grab a moment to update Pottage in private.

Then they head to Hexer Hellaina’s, to report to her. She pays them well for the information (in spell salt), and buys the black glass they got from the broken salt circle around the burial grounds (last game session). That she pays for with silver. Hellaina promises to update the Town Council.

Later, the Town Council wants to see the PCs, and confirms what Hellaina told them. In addition to Tidegate’s other issues, the council tells the PCs it’s been falling below freezing already, months before the norm, and hard freezes are expected in the next few days. The entire fall crops are in danger of being lost, and only having farmers putting out torches all night, every night, may keep that from happening.

With all this, the Tidesgate Council is spread impossibly thin by the combination of early freezes and hungry sailors. They are called on to watch the docks, keep fights from breaking out, and enforce usually-ignored laws on hoarding and cornering markets. The PCs offer to help, and the Council asks them to go to Southmount Farms, 2 days south beyond the God-Knuckle Hills. The farm is normally reliable in regular fortnightly deliveries, and now they are 4 days late. The Council sent Briarbrow Hooffoot (a cousin of Holly’s) to check it out, and he has not returned yet.

Southmount is run by the Braddoc family, who are regular suppliers of the Smoke Pine Taven, old friends of Morgan’s father and Averill’s family. They make “the Clear,” a very high ABV liquid that tastes like stale fire, which Nana Cutthroat often uses to add kick to drinks she has watered down, so people don’t realize how little of the original booze is left in the version for sale.

The PCs head out south the next day. They discuss their concern about things getting worse in town, especially if panic sets in about a lack of food, or folks sell too much of their emergency reserves and then the fall harvest falls.

As they enter the God-Knuckle Hills, they come across 5 shambler zombies, caught on a hill surrounded by a flash flood river from the heavy rains in previous weeks. They identify one of them as a farmhand at Southmount. The shamblers seem to be constantly trying to cough up something (like a hairball). The PCs jump the rushing creek and destroy the 5 shamblers. They also conclude that these are created intentionally with necromancy, not spontaneous undead that sometimes rise. The bodies seem diseased. The heroes burn them, making sure they do so in a hollow that will keep the ashed from running into the local water supply.

End Session 3.

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 4 of 4)

Here’s part four (of 4) of my Game Session 2 notes for my Gatekeeper’s campaign for PF2 (part one here, part two here, and part three here). The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

The PCs set to camp, and a massive thunderstorm moves in (similar to ones they have been seeing for several says to the north, including producing weird green lightning bolts where one bolt strikes down, and 5 more curl up from the same point in the clouds to arc back into the sky).

While camping, Nambra and Brôg sense something while on watch. They wake everyone, and Nambra is able to identify it’s location within a few feet due to her Whisper Elf hearing, but no one can see it. Calling out to the unknown creature, it replies that they are in danger, and the PCs realize it’s the 7-legged giant spider Morgan freed from its collar. The PCs try to strike up a conversation, with Holly specifically inviting it to come talk to them on future evenings, but it proves difficult. The spider often repeats part of all of what the PCs say as its response to them, with changes in emphasis (“Are you our friend?” “AM I your friend?”). A few skill checks in, it’s decided that it really does under stand them and wants to communicate, but its grasp of their cultural norms is weak, so it tries to mimic their speech patterns as much as it can to try to be talking the way the PCs talk. After repeating “You’re in danger” a few more times, the spider flees into the night. In the morning, the PCs find the waterproof web canopy it made for itself some distance off from their camp.

In the morning, the PCs find the edge of the Eirsyus burial grounds. It’s cutoff from the rest of the forest by a roughly-30-foot-wide break in the trees and large bushes, which Averill confirms is salted earth, likely as part of an occult “firebreak” to keep the spirits of the place bound within the burial ground. The PCs can see old cairns and burial pits covered by heavy rock that must have been quarried elsewhere. They decide to walk around the burial grounds once to see what can be seen from the firebreak before going inside.

During lunch, on the forest side of the firebreak, they are attacked by a festrog which burrows up out of the earth to attack them, starting with a surprise attack just behind Averill. It is riddled with diseased pustules, boils, and supperating rashes, and the stench is nearly as bad as it’s actual attacks. The PCs defeat it, and it rots away before their eyes. The hole is crawled out of is at least 20 feet deep, and the top lined with detritus from the festrog’s diseased flesh. The PCs decide to ignore it, for now.

Walking the firebreak around the 400 or so acres of the burial grounds reveals a crater — apparently a lightning strike — that’s destroyed part of the firebreak. Within the crater are tiny black lightning-shaped buts of obsidian. Jaedyn decides to try to use salt to complete the line through the crater, but as the group adds salt, storm clouds and green glows begin to boil into existence just above them. They stop, and clear the salt they’d already added, and the clouds dissipate.

The PCs gather all they can find (using Averill’s telekinesis, rather than getting into the crater), and decide to stay here overnight, roughly 100 feet from the crater, to observe the burial grounds at night.

The first watch hears something scurrying around in the burial grounds, but can’t see it. They talk at it, and it replies, promising all sorts of information if they give it some of their blood. They need not step into the grounds… a few drops soaked onto a cloth they toss to it would suffice. The PCs refuse, and the creature scurries away.

Second watch spots a wight-with-lock-in-its-forehead, far into the burial grounds. It uproots an old, dead tree with 1 arm, and suddenly throws it at the PC’s camp. The tress explodes when it crosses the line of the firebreak, and the PCs take a little damage. The wight rushes the firebreak as the PCs deal with the fallout of the exploding trees, but it is incapable of pushing past some invisible barrier at the edge of the firebreak. The PCs try to talk to it, it demands they give it their blood, saying blood is the key, but it is eventually thrown back by the invisible barrier, deep into the burial ground, and is not seen or heard again.

The third watch hears strange howling within the burial ground, which is answered by similar howls on the forest side. This goes on for a bit, and then two volkyr (same kind of evil spirit reincarnated as wild beasts they faced yesterday) leap from the woods to attack them. Averill is nearly knocked out in a single blow, but the PCs manage to win the fight.

As dawn approaches, a few of the PCs can ear a creepy clicking, scraping noise coming from the crater. The party goes to investigate, and discovers tiny salt crystals (all 5-sided, and flickering with 5 different colors) are growing in the crater. As they grow, the crater slowly fills in with dirt. By morning, there is no longer any sign of a lightning strike having broken the line of the firebreak. The PCs aren’t sure if their presence caused that, or if it was perhaps removing the lightning obsidian that allowed the line to heal? As a test the PCs run a line of salt over where the crater was, and nothing unusual happens.

The voice of the 7-legged giant spider comes from the forest side, saying in apparent awe that they stayed on “the line” all night, and guarded it. It is now repaired, claims the spider. But when the PCs try to ask the spider questions, it just repeats (you are all in danger,” and flees.

The PCs still have unanswered questions (Why did a wight want to buy food? Who was Chandra Chase and why did she pretend to have been hired by Pottage? Who collared the 7-legged spider, why was it kidnapping people, and what are its intentions now? What caused a storm that blew a crater in the firebreak of the burial grounds? Why do groups of 5 get pulled together, and then suffer terrible fates, once a generation? What is the Underhill Grove?), but decide for now to head back with the information and materials they have gathered.

End Session 2

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 3)

Part three of my Game Session 2 notes for my Gatekeeper’s campaign for PF2 (part one here, and part two here). The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

The PCs gather at Pottage’s Tottage, and briefly update each other on their experiences of the day. Then they go inside and, to their relief, Pottage is in fact present and willing to explain what’s going on… such as he knows it.

Pottage reveals to the PCs that while he was indeed a foundling, he was found with a trunk of possessions that Nana Cutthroat kept for him until he was a young teen, when she gave it over to him. He discovered in the trunk a family journal, which claimed his family had been moving back and forth between Tidegate and the Continent for generations, trying to solve the mystery of “The Five.”

According to that tome and the research he has done since, every generation 5 people of different backgrounds who happen to be in Tidegate are drawn together, seem to begin to engage in a mystery of some kind, and then are cursed, killed, or disappear. A few generations ago one was a member of his family, and his line has been trying to figure out what is going on ever since. Often the deaths appear to be part of something ritualistic, though it’s not always at the hands of Bloodletters. Different groups, from lone wizards to wicked gollusks, have seemed intent on killing The Five each generation.

So Pottage doesn’t know what is going on, but seeing 5 of them suddenly falling into strange events he was immediately convinced they were this generations example of an event that has ben going on for at least 200 years (since the Continental Empire absorbed Khetonnia and destroyed Eirsyus). He’s spent his whole adult life preparing to help whoever the 5 turned out to be, and now the time has come. He’s been trying to learn all he can and though he has snippets — for example, the Underhill Grove is supposedly a place or group that can aid the Five, but he doesn’t know anything else about it — the core of what causes the Five to be drawn together, and who then destroys them, and why, is still a mystery to him.

And, his shop turns out to be full of secret compartments and hidden shelves. This is where he keeps his tools, tomes, and supplies, since he spends most of his time here watching over his store. Pottage notes that there was no sign of the “new girl” Chandra Chase (who Averill and Morgan ran into), but his personal chambers above the shop, and his locked valuables storage, and his basement deep storage, and his small warehouse were all thoroughly searched and left disheveled, but there’s no sign anyone found his hidden spaces in his open-to-everyone storefront.

Jaedyn suddenly asks if Chandra was the kind of “too gorgeous for it to be normal” that might mark her as a gollusk, and while no one is sure, the idea is bookmarked for later.

Pottage can’t explain the 7-legged spider that grabbed him, though he can say it appeared to be laying in wait for him. He was trying to sneak in the back way of his shop, when he and then his employee Mac where grabbed, poisoned, and wrapped up. Upon hearing about the stranger with a lock in its forehead and red motes for eyes, he notes is sounds like a wight, and was dressed in fashion common in Eirsyus roughly 200 years ago. When shown the coins Nambra grabbed (which the wight spent), Pottage pulls out of of his secret draws which has a book on local Numismatics, and confirms they are of an old Eirysus city-state from the last days of those realms before the Continental Empire crushed them. They have only been seen in recent years in old Eirysus graves.

There is, he notes, an old Eirysus burial ground roughly a day north at the southern tip of the eastern edge of the Wildwood. Upon consulting a map, Morgan confirms that was the direction the giant spider dashed off to when it fled out of town. Although they can’t be as perceive, Jaedyn and Holly also note the wight seemed to be going that way when it turns into smoke.

The PCs agree they are going to go check out the old Eirysus burial grounds, to see if they can find more info. They want to leave in the morning, but Pottage suggests they get out of town now, before the town council can decide to order them to stay here until things are all sorted out. The group decides to go to Morgan’s father’s farm, one of many within a couple hours of Tidegate, stay there for the night, and set out at first light. Pottage promises to do more research about the giant spider and the sigil on its back, and the wight.

The PCs make it safely to Morgan’s father’s farm, where those who have never been before are a bit surprised by its architecture. The entire farm is walled with a stone wall taller than a typical human, which is rare but not unknown, and the main farmhouse and neighboring barn are stone with slate roofs. It is known Morgan’s father left the island years ago, before Morgan was born, because his original home burned down, so mostly his sturdy, stone construction is attributed to that (and, perhaps, the adventuring money he made while he was gone). The farmhouse is big enough that 20 could live there long-term, and 100 people shelter in it, but it’s just home to Morgan and his father at the moment. It has 2 indoor baths with copper water tanks you can heat with a fire, a huge kitchen, and apparently multiple cellars with extensive emergency supplies.

(Morgan’s Fathers House… sorta. The roof should be slate tiles, and wall taller, the gate sturdier, and the windows all narrower and with heavy shutters. But, you know, other than that… Art by Midge9282)

Hearing that they might be tracking a wight, Morgan’s father does two things. First, he tells them if they run into a wight, they should run immediately. Secondly, he gives them a glass bottle totally wrapped in a wicker cover. he says it’s Vingarian Brandy – from Vingarie, on the Continent. Supposedly helps with level loss and doom from contact with undead (“brings warmth back into your soul”). He doesn’t know if it’s true, but it seems worth trying if they get in trouble.

The next day the PCs head north. Since there is no path or road directly to the burial grounds, they must us exploration activities to arrive without getting lost or delayed. Everyone is able to do so except Averill, who just shrugs and follows along when he thinks north is one direction, and everyone else believes it’s the exact opposite way.

Late in the day, the group is attacked by a volkyr — a vicious creature that looks like a cross between a wolf and a wolverine and has flat, all-black eyes. Local lore claims volkyr are reincarnated evil spirits –not born nor breeding like typical animals, but fel souls of mortals that step full-grown out of unlit places to cause pain and misery. The creature begins the fight with a charge, and nearly drops Morgan in a single blow. But the group is able to fight it off, and afterward patch up Morgan.

By then, it’s dusk, and the party decides to camp and continue on to the burial grounds in the morning.

End of Part 3.

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 2)

Part two of my Game Session 2 notes for my Gatekeeper’s campaign for PF2 (part one here). The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

Morgan quickly climbs up to the top of Pottage’s Tottage, and sees a Large spider with a face he realizes matches the one he saw looking over the edge. It has struggling people-sized silk bundles webbed to its hind legs, a bright red sigil on its back, and seems to naturally have just 7 legs (4 on the left, 3 on the right). The spider sees him, covers itself in a fog cloud that moves with it, and jumps away to another roof. Morgan follows town protocol by raising an alarm (screaming “MONSTER! GIANT SPIDER!”), and goes after it. (Chase Rules)

Averill tries to follow from the ground and raise the alarm.

Meanwhile, the PCs at the Smoke Pine Taven are passing out food bundles. The system is simple, a line forms by the counter. Everyone throws down a couple of copper and gets a bundle. But Jaedyn sees a figure she does not know, who is wearing a cloak, completely covering their hands with its edge and totally covering their head with its hood. While it’s not unusual for shy strangers to come in off a ship, one being that covered is odd and with the recent weirdness makes Jaedyn suspicious. She opts to hand it a food bundle in a way that causes it to fall at the last second, hoping to get the creature to look up to grab it. (Thievery check) This succeeds, and she sees it has a desiccated face, a lock built into its forehead (like the front of a padlock), and it’s eyes are hollow black pits, with tiny bright red motes of light far, far back within the eye sockets.

It hisses at her, and runs to exist the Smoke Pine.

Jaedyn throws a knife in an effort to pin its hood to a wall so it is jerked back and its face is revealed. She succeeds, and the whole cloak comes off. The desiccated creature flees out into the street. Holly grabs its food and runs after it. Nambra takes this opportunity to conceal herself from anyone in the Smoke Pine, especially the cats. Jaedyn grabs the dropped cloak, the runs after Holly.

Holly wants to get ahead of the fleeing figure (Chase Rules), and eventually does so. She offers it the food pack, saying it’s done nothing wrong. It crouches and replies “Give me your BLOOD!” Taken aback, Holly refuses, and the creature turns into smoke and flies away faster than be followed.

It begins to rain.

Morgan is chasing the jumping cloud of fog that has a giant spider in it, while Aervill tries to rally people in the streets below. Eventually Morgan catches up to it and, since the fog is made of water vapor, tries to access his water powers (sending a hero point) to dispel it. that succeeds, and the spider creature seems surprised. Getting a better look at it, Morgan sees it has a black collar around its neck, with inward-bent hooks that dig at the spider’s flesh and cause trails of smoke to trail upward from the contact. Morgan tries to access his water powers again, succeeds, and uses them to form curved blades of ice that cut the collar free of the spider creature.

The spider gasps, drops the two figures strapped to its legs, looks at Morgan and chokes out “You’re in DANGER!” Then, it flees.

Morgan cuts the two figures loose, discovering they are Pottage and Mac. He and Averill get back together, and Pottage comes to enough to say he’d like his return to be kept secret for now. Morgan and Averill agree, and happen to mention the new woman working at the Tottage, Chandra Chase, didn’t know he was back yet. Pottage is concern because he hasn’t hired anyone new, and doesn’t know a Chandra. Pottage promises to meet them in a bit at the Tottage, but asks if and can they get Mac to Hexer Helaina, since he’s not recovering as fast. They agree, and while Morgan takes Mac to Hellaina, he sends Averill to go get Jaedyn, Holly, and Nambra and bring them to the Tottage as well.

Nambra, as it happens, noticed the two coins the desiccated figure used to buy food looked different from any others she’s seen, and exchanges them for two coins of her own. Holly and Jaedyn come back in, noting the figure disappeared. Nana Cutthroat comes up to them and hears the description, and says it sounds like a wight. She is asked if wights are common in Tidegate, and affirms they are not. There was one wight captain who couldn’t set foot off his ship that used to come to port now and then, and they allowed it, but it turned out he had a plot to have his ship carried by millions of tiny crabs, and then a holy knight from the Continental Empire showed up and destroyed him.

But, Nana Cutthroat notes, this cloak seems older than that. She gives it a deep sniff, then suddenly says she must talk to the council, and rushed off into the rain, with the cloak.

And just then, Averill shows up, and explains why they should go to the Tottage.

End Part 2.

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 1)

As long as there is interest, I’ll keep posting Game Session notes for my Gatekeepers game for PF2. Due to work, illness, holidays, and one players dedication to seeing a single specific college football game every year (Bedlam), it’s been a long time since session 1.

The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

The day after taking Hexer Hellaina to the ruined tower outside of town, the PCs want to go talk to Pottage, since he seemed to know what was going on. But, they discover, while they were out all day with Hellaina, the Town Council sent Pottage to Seagrace, to bring the Duchess of tides a report on the recent events around Tidegate. It’s expected to be a week or so round trip. Pottage is often sent on such trips, as he has people he trusts to run his store without him (Pottage’s Tottage), has no other official duties in town, lacks family that might need him, and is younger than other councilors who might otherwise be free to make the trip.

The PCs go about their lives. Holly spends time focusing on the strange new elemental energy she accessed n the first session. So does Morgan, though he does so through the sword exercises his ex-adventurer father taught him. Jaedyn practices with the amazing rapier Nana Cutthroat seems to have just had sitting around to give her. Nambra hunts. Averill puts in extra shifts as a telekinetic dock worker.

It remains an unusually stormy fall.

After a week the PCs get together at the Smoke Pine Taven, and discuss what to do. Pottage should be back now, but no one has seen him. Several PCs notice that Guster, one of the most stand-offish of the semiferal cats that hang around the Smoke Pine stays near Holly, which is unusual. He is also recently well-brushed, and that’s unusual. He’s the same cat that sat on Holly in Session 1 when the PCs warmed by the fireplace in the common room. The PCs wonder if he is a spy for a local witch?

With a major storm threatening, they decide to have Averill and Morgan go to Pottage’s Tottage to see if he’s back, or if his employees have an eta. Meanwhile, the storm looks to have winds strong enough to blow cinders back into the homes of people with simple, cheap chimneys. That means lots of folks will be coming to the Smoke Pine to grab packs of food wrapped in cheesecloth, so they can eat cooked food but close the flue on their fireplaces for the storm, so the other PCs stick around to see if Guster eventually leaves the Smoke Pine, so they can follow him.

Upon arriving at Pottage’s Tottage, Averill and Morgan see Mac, a human who works for Pottage and is famous for moving and talking slowly, battening down the window shutters. The front door is open, so they go in, and encounter a gorgeous young woman they have never seen before. She says her name is Chandra Chace, is very friendly, and says Pottage hasn’t returned yet. So, the two PCs head back out… and Morgan notices he’s hearing shutters around the back of the building bang continuously in the wind. Mac should be able to secure a shutter quickly, so the fact this is still banging is weird. Morgan finds Mac’s prints in the soft earth around the shop, and follows them around to the back where they lead up to the banging shutter and just… stop.

Morgan looks up at the top of the shop, and for a spilt second sees a lumpy, hair-covered face with two giant round black eyes and… fangs? But the face, twice the size of a human’s, ducks back behind the ridgeline of the roof just as Morgan spots it.

End Part 1. I’ll get to part Two tomorrow.

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 1, Part 2

Since people asked for it, I’m posting session notes for my Gatekeepers game for PF (index here if you want to look something up) . Here’s Part 2 for Session 1. (Part1 is here.)

The heroes have saved children from the basement of a flooding ruined tower outside the town of Tidegate. The children were apparently captured by devotees of a Bloodletter faction leftover from the Bloodletter wars of more than a century ago. The heroes want to keep the Bloodletter connection quiet as long as they can, and attempt Diplomacy to convince the children not to tell anoyone about tht part of the event.

The Diplomacy roll goes badly, but the children all claim to agree.

However, as soon as the heroes make it back to the Smoke Pine Taven, and the children see their clan patriarch, Syrkin Dale, in the great room, they rush up to him and loudly begin shouting all the details of what they saw happen.

This makes the townsfolk and shipwreck survivors in the Taven uneasy, but the councilfolk present don’t seem shocked. As the children are taken to a private room to calm down, the councilfolk tell the heroes that Bloodletter Sectarians have shown up trying to perform strange rituals every few decades. The council tends to keep it quiet, but it’s a known risk.

When the heroes mention the Sectarians seems to be waiting for them, specifically, the councilfolk note it may not have been about the PCs individually. Some Bloodletters have access to ritualistic divination, and can create situations that will bring in the elements that give them the best chance for success. So rather than “five specific townsfolk whose names we know are here!” the message might really have been “the divination indicates these are the random people who give our ritual the best chance of success!”

The PCs don’t mention their strange experiences with apparently elemental power sources, and most of the PCs don’t realize anyone but themself experienced it. Jaedyn and Morgan say each other’s Mystery Point uses and have acknowledged it to each other, but don’t mention it to anyone else.

It’s decided by the council that Hexer Hellaina will be asked to go investigate.

When the PCs go to get warm by the fire, the council-member Pottage swings by to give them some of his “Feel-Better Soup,” and at the same time quietly and in the most serious tone of voice any PC has ever heard him use, says “The Bloodletters wanted you, specifically, We’ll talk later. Be careful.” Then quickly moves away.

Several cats climb into the lap of halfling barbarian Hollyhock Stonefound, and keep her pinned in place by the fire all night.

Hexer Hellaina eventually shows up, and wishes to speak to the PCs. They tell her the general course of what happened, answering questions about the blood-drinking stone, but don’t mention the Mystery Point powers. Hellaina decides she needs to go look herself, after the storm ends, sometime the next day, and asks the PCs to go with her. They agree.

The next day the group including Hellaina have an uneventful journey back to the Ruined Tower. Hellaina does some rituals and analysis and determines that 1: The tower is the anchor for a wedge between the Mortal Realm and the Unlit World (where shadows, death spirits, and forgotten things dwell), 2: That wedge was asleep until awoken by a ritual recently, 3: Once awoken it was why the stone was drinking blood, and if it had gotten *enough* of the *right* blood, it could have forced open a full doorway between the Mortal Realm and Unlit World, and the PCs prevented this by moving the bodies of the fallen away from the tower, and 4: There must be an relic of some sort to serve as the focus for this anchor, and they need to find and destroy it.

So she gives everyone dowsing rods and explains how they work (search with Perception or Occultism, takes time), and Nambra ends up using a Red Mystery Point to reroll her check.

Well before anyone else has gotten more than a slight twitch on their dowsing, Nambra is strongly pulled to the keystone of the main door into the tower. Her dowsing rod then bursts into flame, the fire strikes the keystone and blows the front off it it, revealing it’s a hollow, lead-lined container dressed in stone, and containing a skull covered in sigils very similar to those of the Bloodletter Sectarians. Also, Hellaina notes that is NOT how the dowsing rod should work.

It’s suggested that maybe Nambra has a stronger connection to the relic because she took a critical hit and spilled the most blood on the stone before Averill telekinetically pulled her out. Hellaina is shocked Averill’s tk was strong enough, and he explained he felts a rush of power when he was straining, and Jaedyn and Morgan exchange glances. They begin to ask if everyone experienced such a thing, and Nambra confirms she had a similar rush when using the dowsing rod, and Hollyhock that she had the night before when running on top of the mud.

So Jaedyn and Morgan explain their experiences, and Hexer Hellaina finds this curious and important. She tells the PCs she’ll need to do some research ebfore she can even guess what is going on, and suggests (but does not order) that they keep their experience quiet for now.

Then she uses a ritual to destroy the relic, closing the sliver of a gap connecting the Mortal Realm and Unlit World at this location.

End of session.

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Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 1, Part 1

Since people asked for it, here’s part 1 of the notes for session 1 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2.

It’s early fall in Tidegate, and the storm season has been unusually bad. As we begin play, a major storm has caused a ship to wreck on the shore north of town, and most of the town council and senior people of note have gone to help survivors. As is the norm for local disasters, survivors are being brought to the Smoke Pine Taven, and all the PCs end up there to help settle people in. The many cats of the Smoke Pine are all present, but staying well out of reach of anyone.

Among other things the PCs have someone manning to Smoke Pine’s door, so they can open it to let people in but otherwise hold it closed against the wind and rain. The PC spots two councilmembers struggling towards the door – Syrkin Dale, who is clearly injured, being part-carried by Pottage (who is also struggling with a giant cauldron of his modestly famous “Feel-Better Soup”).

The PCs help them in and patch up Syrkin Dale, and determine that in the rough category of “Battle, Beast, or Debris,” the wound seems caused by debris. Syrkin explains that one of his tenant farmers’ children were last seen playing in a tower of the Old Keep outside of town, and hadn’t shown up since the storm began. Syrkin had gone to look for them, heard them calling for help from the tower’s basement saying they were tapped and the basement was flooding, but then a piece of the old tower’s structure fell on him and both injured him and blocked the only door in. Syrkin staggered to town to get help, and Pottage had spotted him and helped him in.

PCs note that Syrkin seems very annoyed Pottage is the person who found and helped him… and Pottage doesn’t seem to notice. Also, the Smoke Pine’s cats take turns coming up to and rubbing happily on Pottage.

With all the townsfolk who would normally go help already busy outside of town with the shipwreck, and a flooding basement not something that can wait to be dealt with later, the PCs decide they need to go save the children themselves. The Smoke Pine’s owner, Nana Cutthroat, gives them some gear to help, and they rush out into the storm.

The tower is up on a hill that’s a bit steep under the best of circumstances, and is a dangerous mudslide waiting to happen in the heavy rain. With some careful use of ropes and letting the most nimble PCs go up first, the group manages the ascent without incident.

The tower is a ruin, with a staircase on the outside spiraling up to the top of its 25-foot wall (the roof long-since gone), a pile of rubble on the other side making a rough but passable ramp, and a single door that does seem to be blocked by some collapsed timber. The PCs split up, with half heading toward the blocked door, and half heading to the stairs to seek an alternate way in.

As the PCs approach the blocked door, it slams down having obviously been rigged as a trap. Four sailors are just inside, all with thin leather handwraps common to sailors from the Akkaron region of the Continental Empire. One sailor has a headband, the other three have sigils freshly cut into their exposed foreheads. The headwrapped sailor yelled “They’re *all* here! Kill them!”

Fight ensues.

More foes climb up from the basement, warning children below to shut up.

Jaedyn opts to leap from the top wall down onto the new targets, a 30-foot leap. The player invokes the white Mystery Point, which allows her a good roll and Jaedyn discovers the wind is swirling around and guiding her. Morgan leaps after her, his player using a blue Mystery Point, and the rainwater water guides him. Nambra takes a critical hit from a crossbow, and is knocked out.

As the PCs defeat the sailors, they discover the stone of the tower is literally drinking up any spilled blood. The PCs begin to haul fallen bodies outside, beyond the apparent reach of the thirsty stone. Averill uses his telekinesis to pull Nambra out of the tower, so it can’t access her blood, which also required the power of a Mystery Point. However, they don’t manage to do so before enough blood gathers to form a icy blood paraelemental, which they must defeat.

Trying to get the children saved, allies patched up, and bodies moved, Hollyhock’s player expends the green Mystery Token, and the muddy ground supports her, preventing her from sinking in.

The fight is over, but the game session goes on (to be covered in Part 2).

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The Player Characters in my Gatekeepers Campaign for PF2

Since people have asked for a recap of what happened in Session 1 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2, I’m working on converting my gameplay notes to something human-readable. But those notes will make more sense if readers know who the protagonists/PCs are, so here’s a quick rundown of the primary characters in Gatekeepers.

Primary Characters:

Averill (human laborer psychic)
Averill is a telekinetic in his late teens, and his family have a long history as “lifters,” telekinetic laborers who help load and unload cargo. The family is originally from Eirsyus and Tidegate locals tend to roll their eyes a bit at the idea of using innate magic powers to carry things, but Averill’s family have been local for nearly two centuries, and despite some ribbing for being weird Westerners are well-accepted.

Hollyhock Stonefound (halfling warrior barbarian)
Hollyhock is a halfling equivalent in age to a human’s late teens. She was found in a small stone shelter on the beach near Tidegate after a major storm, and is presumed to have been a survivor of a wrecked ship though no one knows for certain. She was adopted by a family of halfling caravan guards and merchant marines, and though young has been preparing to follow in the family business. She’s dealt with bullies a time or two, and locals know that if she looks very, very calm she is about to unleash hell on someone.

Jaedyn Valis (human with some elven ancestry barkeep swashbuckler)
Jaedyn was raised the son of a woman who worked out of the Smoke Pine Taven and told his father was an elven noble who wintered in Tidegate. Jaedyn took odd jobs to help bring in income as he grew up, but his mother eventually drank herself to death. Jaedyn had no other place to go, but Nana Cutthroat was fine with Jaedyn living and working at the Smoke Pine. Now an older teen, Jaedyn worked hard and embraced this degree of freedom, and let the community know she was a woman rather than the boy her mother had presented her to be. Though Jaedyn has had no formal training, when she found a rapier in her hands the use of it and daring acrobatics to go with came to her as naturally as breathing.

Nambra (elf ranger, background currently unrevealed)
Nambra is an adult elven woman who has ranged the lands around Tidegate for decades. She prefers to be out in the wilderness with her companion bear Brôg, but spends just enough time in town for locals to think of her as one of their own. She has been approached many times by Warden Ellicent to join the Duchess of Tides’ official crown wardens, but so far has preferred to remain indepedent.

Morgan (human farmhand monk)
Morgan is an older teen who lives on one of the many farms near Tidegate, one owned and run by his father, and ex-adventurer. Morgan was subject to bullying in town as a child, but never raised a hand to defend himself. However, when Morgan saw a younger child being bullied he stepped in with the training his father had given him, and ended up dropping the bullies so severely he had to do their chores in town until they recovered. While family of the boys he put down treat him coolly, the rest of Tidesgate sees him as a young man willing to defend those in need.

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Gatekeeper’s GM Rulings: Animal Companions

Having run the first session of my Gatekeepers game for PF2, I’ve now made some in-play GM rulings that alter the Rules-As-Written. These “Rule 0” calls were made during the game session, in consultation with all the players. I want to keep a written record of them both to share with people as they come up, and as a reference for myself and the players.

Both the Gm Rulings from Session 1 were about animal companions.

  1. An animal companion can take a reaction for purpose of using the aid another. The animal must take an action to prepare to aid, as normal.
  2. If a character is unconscious or dead, and their animal companion knows where they are, the companion will move to be adjacent to the downed character.

Neither of these is a major change, but I prefer to keep track of such things.

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Gatekeepers Campaign for PF2 – Mystery Points

I’ve now run the first session of my Gatekeepers campaign for PF2. There was the usual awkwardness to be expected when a group tackles a brand-new game system (I’m the only person in that group to have played in a PF2 game, and I’ve never been the GM for one before), but everyone agreed they had a good time.

I also dropped something new on the players, to represent strange forces at play within the reality of the game — Mystery Points.

Mystery Points

Every player began the game with one Hero Point, which was represented by a black poker chip. I clarified that spending a Hero Point was a player-based decision that did not necessarily represent any special effort on the part of their character.

However, each player also got four Mystery Points which were represented by a set of 4 poker chips, 1 each of blue, green, red, and white for each player. Players were told that a Mystery Point worked like a Hero Point, but it DID represent an in-character choice on the part of the character. Specifically, sensing a deep reserve within themselves that they could access with extra effort, without truly understanding what it was. And that using these was entirely option, no one had to do it, and while there might well be consequences they were designed as a fun part of the campaign, not a way to screw players over. (This is a group I’ve played with for 35+ years, so trust is well-established.)

One a character played a Mystery Point, they lost all their other mystery points, Further, every other player would lose access to the Mystery Point of that color. There were four players so everyone had a shot at a Mystery Point, but the choice of colors (which I affirmed when asked did meant *something*, but I didn’t say what) would dwindle as other players used them.

I also affirmed that Mystery Points were not guaranteed to be used in every game session, or to work the same way if they did show up again.

To embrace the fun, all four players did end up using a Mystery Point during the first game session, and their characters discovered this gave them a brief burst of elemental power (blue = water, green = earth, red = fire, and white = air; while later discovering a NPC had also experienced something similar with either “shadow” or “spirit”). How and when the characters decided to share that revelation with each other and NPCs on the Town Council became an important roleplaying aspect of the night which influenced play far more than the one extra Hero Point of options had. I was extremely pleased how the use of game mechanics and props managed to create an actual air of mystery for the players, where they could choose on their own when to potentially become embroiled with unknown powers, and then explore what their characters though was going on.

If there’s interest, I’ll talk briefly about what actually happened in that first game session in a future post.

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