Have you ever bonded with an NPC companion in any of your campaigns?
Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)
Have you ever bonded with an NPC companion in any of your campaigns?
Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)
Spoiler Warning:The following story contains mild spoilers for the Pathfinder Adventure Path Hell’s Rebels.
I recently finished being the GM for the Pathfinder Adventure Path known as Hell's Rebels. It
was my first time as a GM, and we also managed to complete the campaign. Due to how much of a success the overall game was, I wanted to share one of the more heartwarming moments we had at our table.
By the time we started playing, I was the relative outsider to the group. However, I felt an almost immediate sense of chemistry with these people. They were warm and inviting, as well as
sharing a lot of similar interests with me. When I was first invited to play with them, the current GM was trying to get the Rise of the Runelords AP running.However, Rise never happened. Our GM, bless him, is an intense workaholic and has trouble committing to being a GM.
It turns out, he's a great player though. So while Rise fizzled out, the group was looking into ways we could continue playing together. I volunteered to run the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path, as it was an AP I had read through for research and inspiration purposes. In short, Hell's Rebels is about a ragtag bunch of rebels uniting to overthrow both the Infernal House Thrune and Church of Asmodeus from the city of Kintargo in Cheliax during a nationwide civil war.
I warned my friends that Hell's Rebels was one of the darker Pathfinder campaigns out there. But they all assured me that they could handle dark subject matter like adults. And wouldn't you know it, that is exactly what happened. While I will write up some stories chronicling the darker parts of the campaign, right now I want to talk about what I consider the moment when I became truly proud of my players. We had four players. The PC I eventually saw to be the leader of the group was Victore Calvus, the chaotic good Male Human Constructed Pugilist Brawler. Then there was Ceil Longroad, the neutral good Female Human Warlock Vigilante known as Runecaller. We can't forget about Nivelan Maydra, the lawful neutral, later lawful good Male Pitborn Tiefling Nornkith and Qingjong Monk. Nivelan would later multiclass into a Divine Hunter Paladin so he could take the Champion of Irori Prestige Class. And rounding out the group was the rookie player, Rosa Therwyn. Rosa was a Female Halfling Ranger, who specialized in Archery and had a Dire Wolf for an Animal Companion. Rosa didn't get a lot of content about her, since her player was new to the tabletop scene. So we just encouraged and helped her along as the campaign went on. She never really got into the roleplaying aspect all that much, but with our help, she became one of the deadliest members of the party. I even started calling her “Our Little Thruneslayer”.
But Victore is the one we're going to focus on here. One thing I did as a GM in our Session 0
was informing the group that I wanted them to be invested in being heroic rebels that would overthrow the corrupt government that was oppressing their city. To that end, I PMed my members that I would assign them a connection to notable NPCs in the Adventure Path after I heard their basic backstory.
Victore was a biracial human who was half Chelish and half Garundi. This meant that he was
effectively the equivalent of being half black and half white in terms of appearance. Victore was a member of the Dottari, which is what town guards are called in Cheliax. Just before the events of the AP, Victore and a group of Dottari were investigating an unsanctioned devil conjuring. The botched calling wound up massacring several of the Dottari, and Victore wound up losing his left arm and leg.
Because he wanted to start the AP with mechanical limbs, I said that Victore was a childhood
friend of the Lord-Mayor of Kintargo, Jilia Bainilus. She financed a local alchemist, a shifty gnome known only as the Newt, to build Victore clockwork limbs to replace his lost arm and leg. Once the construct appendages were successfully grafted to his body, Victore relocated to a cabin in the countryside to rehabilitate himself. This resulted in him losing his two levels of Warrior and gaining one level of Constructed Pugilist Brawler. This is when the AP started, and the previous Dottari of Kintargo were purged of any members who wouldn't bend knee to the new Lord-Mayor of Kintargo, Barzillai Thrune. Barzillai was appointed by House Thrune to rule Kintargo after Jilia Bainilus “suddenly left for Arcadia”. He arrived during “The Night of Ashes”, where several businesses and estates were burned to the ground to stamp out “sedition”.
As such, Victore was the only surviving member of the old guard, with the new Dottari filled
with Thrune Loyalists. He quickly allied with the other PCs at a rally that turned violent when Barzillai unleashed both the Dottari and the Chelish Citizen's Group, a civilian militia composed of Thrune fanatics upon the protesters.
With the campaign progressing smoothly, Victore's player was starting to speculate in multiclassing, feeling like Victore needed something that would make him seem more “complete”. Victore's player loved his character, but felt like something was missing. But just at the halfway point of the campaign, that special something revealed itself. The PCs, now operating as a group called “The Silver Ravens”, were tasked with destroying a mountain keep to prevent Barzillai from gaining more land troops and supplies from the Chelish Heartlands. The campaign was set within the Archduchy of Ravounel, which was located in the northwestern corner of Cheliax. Ravounel is bordered to the south and east by the Menador Mountains, the Arcadian Ocean to the west, and the country of Nidal to the north.
Menador Keep was an ancient dwarven fortress that had fallen under the control of House Thrune that was built into a mountain pass on the eastern side of the Menador Mountains. As such, it was the best route to resupply Barzillai with mundane utilities. With the Keep destroyed, any supplies would have to be redirected via cargo ship over the Arcadian Ocean, which would severely delay their arrival.
Passage through the Archduchy of Hellcoast to the south of Ravounel was out of the question
due to the political instability in the region. And while Nidal was a firm ally of Cheliax, moving armed troops and supplies through allied territory in the time of civil war would be a diplomatic nightmare. Destroying the Keep would severely weaken Barzillai's position, which is why the Silver Ravens were committed to the action. Due to the complicated nature of Cheliax, a previous incarnation of the Silver Ravens from 80 years ago discovered that Menador Keep had a secret self-destruct mechanism put in place by the dwarves who originally built the fortress. The logic behind the mechanism was that the dwarves would destroy their stronghold rather than let enemy forces claim it. However, the dwarven settlements receded over time, meaning Menador Keep would be abandoned by its makers for millennia.
Victore hatched a plan. Kintargo was a producer of salt, silver and salmon. Using a local
contact, the Silver Ravens forged a contract that would allow them to sell salted fish to the forces of House Thrune. After purchasing a wagon, a couple of oxen to pull it, and enough salted fish to feed a fortress, the Silver Ravens made their way to Menador Keep.
When they arrived at the fortress after a few days on the road, they were promptly stopped by
the gate guards. Access to the Keep was being limited due to the civil war, and the guards didn't recognize the “caravan” that was making a delivery. But between Victore's silver tongue, the forged contract and the fact that the wagon actually had a lot of salted fish in it, the guards elected to bring the wagon inside the fortress. The PCs were guided into the fortress proper, as the guards wanted them to be inspected by the Keep Commander, one Lucian Thrune. Being a member of the royal family of Cheliax, Lucian was used to having people treat him with the gravitas he felt he deserved. So when Rosa, the halfling, greeted him politely, his response was to kick her in the stomach.
“Silence, filth! Your betters are speaking!” Lucian spat at the now kneeling Rosa.
“You allow your...pet to speak to a human as if it were our…equal?!” he seethed at Victore and
Runecaller, not even acknowledging Nivelan.
Victore was able to get out the words, “Rosa is a valued member of our organization, and...”,
before Lucian raised his hand to silence him.
“Valued? Valued?! You cannot allow this…cancerous idea that they are people to spread! Otherwise you will only encourage the likes of those individuals who dare defy the rightful rule of the royal family!”
Due to the contract they had forged, the Silver Ravens had presented themselves as businessmen from Arcadia. After overseeing the contract, Lucian slammed his armoured fist into the palm of his hand.
“I see. You lot are from the colonies, correct? Then it is obvious as to why you uphold such
backwards notions about how a society is run. Follow me. It is obvious that I must educate you on how a proper, civilized nation must reinforce the rightful order of the world.”
Lucian led the Silver Ravens to a prison cell on the ground level, containing three emaciated
halflings bound in chains. He grabbed one of them by the wrist so hard, the party could hear the poor man's wrist snap. An alarmed Rosa shouted out “STOP! You'll kill him!”
Lucian sneered and retorted, 'Excellent! I have pets that need feeding!”
Cue rolls for initiative. And unfortunately for Commander Lucian, he was a Cavalier without
his mount. Once he fell, the guards in the Keep could be heard giving out the call to retreat. And while the human forces abandoned the fortress, the Erinyes and Host Devil posted at the pass simply engaged the party.
Emerging victorious, the Silver Ravens began to explore the Keep. They found a Janni by the
name of Zorumar working in the kitchens. Zorumar was bound to serve Lucian through the magic of geniebinders, but with Lucian's death Zorumar could feel his bonds slipping away. Grateful for his freedom, the genie revealed the passage that led upwards to the forgotten areas of the Keep that housed the self-destruct mechanism. But being the thorough rebels they were, the Silver Ravens scoured the base for any remaining prisoners or items of value that could help them in the long term. The three halflings all turned out to be lvl.1 Commoners with several points of Constitution drain. Evidently, Lucian liked to literally bleed them dry to feed the Slithering Trackers he considered his pets. The Halflings pointed out the room the
foul creatures lived in, and the Silver Ravens promptly avoided it. After all, they were here to collapse the Keep, meaning they would kill the Slithering Trackers when they activated the self-destruct mechanism.
Finding no other prisoners, the Silver Ravens took the weakened halfling prisoners to their cart,
where first aid was applied to the best of their ability. The halflings were then given some salted fish to eat as the Silver Ravens continued with their exploration of the Keep.
After looking over most of the Keep, the Silver Ravens eventually found Lucian's office. Which
was a room that contained a veritable bounty of useful information. Key among this knowledge was Lucian's journal and a salacious statuette depicting a female gnome in a sensuous pose.
It didn't take much for Runecaller to surmise, “Huh. He must have had a fetish for smallfolk
And...overcompensated in his efforts to hide it.”
As they continued to explore the Keep, the Silver Ravens eventually discovered a passage
leading to a cliff overlooking the mountain valley. The cliff contained a stable that housed a bound, but very agitated wyvern. Naturally, the Silver Ravens were very surprised to find it there, and promptly went back into the Keep to avoid engaging it in combat. Runecaller consulted Lucian's journal, and she learned something tragic. Lucian had purchased
the wyvern as an egg and raised to serve as his mount. Upon hearing this, I could feel the hearts of my players grow heavy.
“Poor thing. It's been raised to be a beast of burden since it was born. Aren't wyverns sapient creatures?” Rosa asked.
“They're intelligent enough to speak Draconic, but they aren't what most people would call a
civilized race.” Victore replied.
“What if we just release it? It can go into the valley and be free.” Rosa suggested.
“Nah. It's been in captivity all its life. Would it even know how to hunt and provide for itself? Besides, if it went into the heartlands, the army would just kill it.” Victore said sadly.
And this is when Victore's player asked that critical question: “Can we use it as a mount?”
I was a bit dumbstruck by the question. I had to go over Lucian's stat block over and over again
before I could give a definitive answer.
“Huh. According to his stat block, Lucian doesn't have a special archetype or even a feat to
justify a wyvern mount. It looks like he only has one due to being a member of the royal family.”
“So we can take him in, then?” Victore's player asked.
“I... guess so? If the villain doesn't need some special feature to get a wyvern mount, I guess
you guys don't need one either.”
“So how are we going to do this, guys? None of our characters are really built to have a mount
“How close are we to levelling up?”
I checked the progress of the AP. It seemed that as soon as they were done with Menador Keep, they would level up. Ecstatic at this prospect, my players then proceeded to continue with their destruction of the fortress. Just before they actually activated the self-destruct mechanism, I had them level up. They then went back to the wyvern's pen and started to coax it into being non-aggressive. I had to flub the rules a bit, but I was so proud of them not being murderhobos over this issue, I didn't care. Rosa did a Wild Empathy check while Runecaller spoke Draconic to calm the wyvern down. As she did this, she discovered that wyvern was speaking like a toddler. It wasn't hard for her to realize that his mental development was stunted due to the abuse he had received all his life.
But she was able to coax his name out of him. The wyvern, now known to be Zailosorn,
eventually realized that the Silver Ravens meant him no harm. It was Victore giving Zailosorn some salted fish as a bribe that caused the wyvern to bond with him. At that moment, Victore gained a level as a Mounted Fury Vigilante. Victore took the name Crimson Construct for his Vigilante Identity. Together with Zailosorn, they flew away from Menador Keep and together they came to be known as the Azure Meteor.