Chronicles of the Grim Fist, Part III

We did a character revision, so it seemed a good time to start a fresh chapter.

Chapter I was essentially Baby’s First Dungeon, in which they explored the Maze and did things here and there, but mostly stuck to the dungeon.

Chapter II was essentially Founding Galaufabonne.

Chapter III … well, we’ll see, won’t we? But they’ve definitely finished “founding” and “establishing” Galaufabonne. No one really doubts their ability to defend themselves. The money has begun to pour in. And now they’re pushing the boundaries, so … new chapter.

The character revisions:

Character Revisions
Note: Current year: 1307.

Lady Chlodomer, Duchess of Galaufabonne, “the Blue Duchess”

Birth 1282 (adult 25 of 36). STR 16 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 10; CON 12; INT 11; WIS 10; CHA 18 Aristocrat-11 (XP 588,610 of 610,000).

AC 14; HD 9d6+4 (37 hp); MV 120; AT dwarven kukri 1d6+10 (throw -3+), silvered hoof 1d8+10 (throw -3+, max MV 5’), strong composite bow 1d6+8 (throw 2+).
(AC breakdown: plate +9, shield +4, style +1)

Proficiencies: Fighting Style Weapon-and-Shield, Grey Lore, Laying on Hands, 3x Military Strategy, Riding.

Class Abilities: Battlefield Prowess, Command, Diplomacy, Employee Mastery, Immune to Fear, Intimidation, Leadership, Seduction.

Lady Chlodomer is a statuesque woman of unusual height, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes. A streak of white hair from a run-in with undead enhances the beauty, but her most striking feature is her feet: the silvered hooves of a unicorn. She was once a man, and has not yet made peace with that - as a result, her mannerisms tend toward the amazonian. Still … few are unwilling to follow her to death in battle, so perhaps she has earned that.

Her clothing colors tend toward platinum or white, gold or yellow, and jade or emerald. Although as a man she wore the traditional white powder and rouge of the Frankish courts, as a woman (and on the advice of her court enchantress) she has begun to mimic the cosmetic styles of the southern Iamanu realms, with stylized kohl around the eyes, and olive oil and beeswax to enhance rather than conceal her natural skin tones. While there are those who complain of her barbaric looks, others consider it exotic.

Aristocrat Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alertness, Berserkergang, Blind Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, force back, knock down, overrun, sunder), Dungeon Bashing, Eavesdropping, Endurance, Fighting Style, Gambling, Grey Lore (turn undead), Laying on Hands, Manual of Arms, Military Strategy, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Siege Engineering, Skirmishing, Survival, Swashbuckling, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.

Lady Galswintha, Court Enchantress, Enchantress of Galaufchulis, Baroness of Oak River, Court Treasurer, Daughter of Winter in Galaufchulis, Guardian of the Wood, Guildmaster of the Oak Circle Order, Governess of Oak Spring.

Birth 1280 (aged +10; youth 37 of 50) STR 10; DEX 14; CON 16; INT 16; WIS 8; CHA 14 Mage-11 shifting to Elven Spelldancer-11 (XP 643,800 of 905,000 - see below).

AC 12; HD 9d4+20 (50 hp); MV 120; AT silver dagger 1d4+2/+3 vs. beastmen (throw 5+/4+), sling 1d4+1 (throw 5+).
(AC breakdown: bracers 6, dex +1, ring of protection +3, swash +2)

Proficiencies: Command, Familiar, Leadership, 3x Military Strategy, Mystic Aura, Riding, Swashbuckling.
Familiar: 3x Animal Husbandry, Animal Training (Hawk), Animal Training (Giant Hawk), Beast Friendship, Command, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling.

Class Abilities: Spells 4/3/3/3/2/1, Scrolls, Potions, Magic Items, Research Spells, Ritual Magic, Constructs, Elementals.

Petite (Giant Hawk): AC 8; HD 5 (25 hp); MV fly 450’; AT talon 1d4+1/talon 1d4+1 (throw 6+). Carry 36/72 stone.
(AC breakdown: natural 3, barding 2, dex +1, ring of protection +1, swash +1)

Lady Galswintha is an apparent teenager, although her pointed ears betray her hidden age. She has skin like abalone, ankle-length hair like a raven’s wing, eyes like hoarfrost, and a distant, wintry smile that has been barely touched by the years or wars she fought through. The supernatural, however …

Her left arm is made of smooth, delicately stained oakwood (she does not conceal it); she sometimes looks as if she is listening to something no one else can hear; and as befits the fey’s Daughter of Winter, her touch leaves a touch of frost on metal and glass surfaces, and her breath puffs as if in bitter cold. Elemental creatures of frost and fire admire or fear her by turns.

For clothing … Galswintha has a vast and mighty wardrobe. Elven, gnomish, human, and pixie outfits in a variety of styles and nationalities, something for every occasion and then some. Her cosmetics change with the seasons, and her styling has influence as far as Paris. To maintain this, of course, she spends a veritable fortune every month.

Galswintha has ceased leveling as a mage and is converting to an elven spelldancer, below.

Elven Spelldancer (HD 1, Fighter 2, Elf + Mage 4; max level 14) Attacks and saves as fighter. Can use fighter and mage magic items. Armor: leather or lighter. Can cast while wearing armor. Weapons: any one-handed and any missile weapon. Can dual-wield, but no shield or two-handed weapons. Fighter damage bonus on all weapons. XP: 305,000 for 8th level; +200,000 XP per level thereafter.

Burned three customs on increased maximum level.

Elf: +1 wilderness surprise rolls. Keen elven eyes (8+/14+ secret doors). Immune to ghoul paralysis, +1 save vs. Petrification/Paralysis and Spells. Extra languages.

level 1: graceful fighter (+1 AC w/leather, +2 at 7th level)
level 5: beast friendship; and research spells, scribe scrolls, brew potions.
level 7: enchant powerful magic items.
level 7: speak with animals at will
level 9: sanctum + friendly animals.
level 11: ritual magic; constructs; and binding elementals (borrowed from the witch class).

Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alchemy, Alertness, Battle Magic, Beast Friendship, Collegiate Wizardry, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, knock down), Command, Elementalism, Elven Armourer, Familiar, Fighting Style, Leadership, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Magical Music, Mystic Aura, Naturalism, Passing Without Trace, Precise Shooting, Prestidigitation, Sensing Power, Skirmishing, Soothsaying, Swashbuckling, Unarmed Fighting, Unflappable Casting, Wakefulness, Weapon Focus, Weapon Finesse.

Elven Armourer

An apprentice can produce 60 gp per month; a journeyman 120 gp; and a master 240 gp. An elven armourer can also produce normal daggers, shortswords, swords, bows, and clubs, but at a rate of 10 gp, 20 gp, and 40 gp per month. The items that can be crafted with this proficiency are:

elven silk padding (1,500gp; worn under armor, grants Savage Resilience) elven quilted silk armor (hide; 5,000gp; AC 2, wt 1/6 stone; grants Savage Resilience) fine elven mail (leather; 2,500gp; AC 3, wt 1 stone) heavy elven mail (chain; 5,000gp; AC 5, wt 3 stone) elven dragonscale (chain; 25,000; AC 6, wt 2 stone; reduces one type of energy damage by -1 per die)

mithril dagger (3,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d4+1, thrown 10/20/30, counts as magical, glows as candle)
mithril shortsword (7,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1, counts as magical, glows as torch)
mithril sword (15,000gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1/1d8+1, counts as magical, glows as torch)

fighting stick (6gp; 1d4, throwable 20/40/60)
ebonwood fighting stick (2,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d4+1, throwable 30/60/90)
mithril-bonded fighting stick (7,500gp, +2 to hit, 1d6+1, throwable 20/40/60)

leaf spear (30gp; 1d6/1d8, throwable 20/40/60, attack from second rank)
mithril leaf spear (6,000gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1/1d8+1, throwable 30/60/90, attack from second rank)

elfbow (300gp; 1d6, range 80/160/240)
ebonwood elfbow (15,000gp; +1 to hit, range 100/200/300)
mithril arrow (250gp; 1d6+1)

General Vulfelind de Galaufabonne, Governess of Bone Temple, Beggar Queen of Bone Temple, the Duke’s Fang

Birth 1284 (adult 23 of 36) STR 13 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 18; CON 16; INT 10; WIS 12; CHA 16 Werefox Burglar-10 (XP 651,201 of 730,000).

AC 12; HD 9d4+19 (40 hp); MV 180, swim 60; AT paired sentient shortswords 1d4+10 (throw -3+), flame crossbow 1d6+8 (throw 0+).
(AC breakdown: dex +3, ring of protection +2, swash +2, shapeshifting +2, fox natural +3)

Proficiencies: Combat Reflexes, Diplomacy, Fighting Style Dual-Wield, Lip Reading, Swashbuckling, Tracking, Weapon Finesse.

Class Abilities: thief skills, shapeshift into fox/foxman, shapeshifting enemy, difficult to spot, pass without trace, wilderness evasion.

A short, compact woman with dark olive skin, close-cropped black hair, and bright amber eyes. She has a slightly feral look as long as she can resist smirking.

Vulfelind wears practical gnomish clothing: sturdy leather, tool pouches, and hidden pockets. Her only additional requirements are dark, matte shades … and ease of shedding when she transforms. As a rule, she prefers heavy-duty pants, a loose tunic over silk bindings, a workman’s apron, minimal gloves, and padded boots. She does not wear cosmetics, and only jewelry when required (the Grim Fist ring, her war medals, and her Governor arm torc, all for official functions).

Werefox Burglar (HD 0, Fighter 3, Thief 3, Werefox 0; max level 14)
Attacks as a monster; saves as a thief. Can use fighter and thief magic items.
Armor: None allowed.
Weapons: Standard thief choices. Standard thief fighting styles.
Fighter damage bonus on all weapons.

Shapeshift into a very small fox. Move 180, swim 60, natural AC 3. Immune to non-magical weapons. Speak to foxes and take foxes as henchmen. Worth +1,100 XP. Increases XP costs after 8th by +50,000 XP.

XP Costs: 280,000 for 8th, +150,000 per level thereafter.

The foxman midpoint form burned two of the customs she earned for dropping her fighting abilities. Two customs were burned to increase the maximum character level.

The remaining four customs went as follows:

level 1: Shapeshifting Enemy (renamed from Blade-Dancing).
level 3: Difficult to Spot.
level 7: Passing Without Trace.
level 7: Wilderness Evasion.
level 13: Totem Animal (fox; DEX; Alertness benefit; MV 180, AC 3, attack nil, Tracking).
level 13: Spiritwalk (as Shaman).

Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alertness, Arcane Dabbling, Blind Fighting, Bribery, Cat Burglary, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, incapacitate), Contortionism, Diplomacy, Fighting Style, Gambling, Intimidation, Lip Reading, Lockpicking, Mapping, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Seafaring, Skirmishing, Skulking, Sniping, Swashbuckling, Trap Finding, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.

Sir Merideth de Galaufabonne, Matriarch of Galaufabonne, Church Knight of the Lady, Galaufabonne Knight of the Realm

Birth 1282 (adult 25 of 36) STR 9 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 10; CON 9; INT 10; WIS 18; CHA 18 Church Knight-11 (XP 525,800 of 600,000).

AC 12; HD 9d4+19 (40 hp); MV 120; AT lady’s cane 1d6+5/1d8+5 (throw 0+), blessed lance 1d10+6 (throw -1+).
(AC breakdown: plate +9, shield +3)

Proficiencies: Command, 3x Healing, Leadership, 2x Military Strategy.
Class Abilities: Turn Undead, Riding, Mount Bond, Spells 4/4/4/3/3, Scrolls, Potions, Magic Items, Research Spells, Ritual Magic, Constructs.

A petite chocolate-skinned woman with ankle-length platinum hair, immense brown eyes, and the toothiest grin around.

She tends to eschew the vast quantities of gold, platinum, sapphire, and rubies of her rank within the Church of the Lady, preferring a gold-trimmed, white silk cassock and small sapphire earings - enough to show her allegiance, and of fine-enough tailoring to show her power, but not so much as to elevate her beyond the means of her knights. It is said that this has rankled some of her superiors, who do wear enough gold to feed a city, but she has thus far evaded any consequences.

Church Knight
Identical to a cleric, with the following changes:

Weapon Choices: flail/hammer/mace and spears/pole arms.
Weapon Styles: Weapon and Shield only (gain 1 custom power).
Armor: Unrestricted.
Bonus Powers (expends 1 custom power):
level 3: Riding proficiency.
level 9: Mount Bond (see below).

A mount bond takes one month of careful work with a particular mount to forge, and requires a war-trained mount. While being ridden by its master, the mount has hit points equal to the higher of its natural hit points or its master’s hit points, and its master gains a +4 on any throws to remain seated, guide the mount, etc. The mount’s speed improves by +60 and its AC by 1. If a bonded mount dies, a new one requires the same amount of time to establish. Only one mount bond is possible at a time.

Session 34
OOC: The members of the Grim Fist have collectively taken “de Galaufabonne” as their place name. For obvious reasons.

OOC2: I have named the setting! “Tabula Viridis”. Now I know what to call it when the Grim Fist retires and a new batch of heroes shows up.

Month 7
Population 40,000. Profit 170,000 (includes some changes that occurred this month below).

Chlodomer re-fills her army garrison! And raises the taxes back up to 2gp/family. Peasants sigh wistfully for the good old days, but are glad to be properly protected.

Vulfelind heads off to assassinate Duke Ageric’s spymaster, having sussed out his hideout location. She flies in invisible and silenced, ghosts through his mansion home … and passes the bedroom of his toddler son. In the morning, he wakes up to find an envelop pinned carefully to his nightgown. Inside, a note saying “Your son earned you one warning. One.” and a copy of the contract for Chlodomer’s life.

Galswintha completes her research: the ritual spell Disarm Life Trapping. Enchanted veil in hand, she petitions Iamanu for audience, and travels south to free the non-ancient-evil-dragon victims of the Mirror.

Iamanu is … just the tiniest bit discomfited at her achievement. Nonetheless, he agrees, and the dragon and elfmaid enter his vault and fetch the mirror. She lays the veil over it, names the specific victims to be free, and the veil turns to powder.

Two dwarven brothers, a dwarven scholar, and a nymph emerge.

Within the darkened mirror, Iamanu’s only intended victim gnashes his teeth in silent fury.

…and the nymph begins to wilt and die, as she is away from her roots, and this prompts a quite earnest panic on Galswintha’s part, before she figures out that the nymph is native to Pegasus Mountain, and teleports her to the dining hall, before following to explain. On arrival, the nymph laughs delightedly and melts into the mountain.

Merideth completes her research as well: Harvest! The Lady blesses the temple and the central domain around it for one year. (OOC: I allowed the Harvest and efreet wish to combine, because they were sufficiently different) … and promptly begins work on more, to cover additional portions of the realm. (The realm as it currently stands will require about four castings total.)

The efreet’s wish was subtle. Little nudges of probability here and there, preventing crop blight, making fish easier to catch, improving the odds of a miner hitting a good vein of ore, subtle shifts in the timing of the rains to prevent in-between droughts. The overall effect was impressive, but all of it consisted of small nudges.

The Harvest of the Lady was not subtle. Plants flat-out grow faster. Fish grow bigger. Small miracles occur on a regular basis throughout the land, helping miners out of gas traps, saving a fisher who fell in the river, healing cattle and grains both of disease.

And one area - Pegasus Mountain - gains a small, additional, unexplained benefit. Miners swear that the veins of ore are replenishing themselves … and there is circumstantial evidence of benevolent knockers watching out for them. This grants a final +1 to the land value.

Near the very tail-end of the month, three dwarves and Galswintha’s retinue show up. All three turn out to be natives of the area … and the two brothers are not entirely pleased at how things have turned out:

  • "Why are there stone giants in this garden?"
  • "Your ... duchess appears to be wielding the sword and shield of our people."
  • "You filled our fortress with magma?"
  • "Where is our rightful inheritance, the Ring of the Azure Flame? It was bestowed to our father by an efreeti prince!"
  • "You built a fairy village in our Smith's Waters temple?"
They graciously allow Galswintha to equip them and depart, cussing out the "thieves and bastards" of the Grim Fist as they go.

The dwarven scholar, on the other hand, moves into Galswintha’s library and practically disappears into the books there.

Month 8
Population 41,000. Profit 175,000. Merideth levels to 12!

The Grim Fist is on an emergency lair-clearing trip when …

Tepui Lake (#0807)

(tepui: a high, solitary plateau or mesa.)

Clearing a bandit camp out of #0806, they spot something strange a few miles further south, and make a high aerial pass to scout it:

The northern tip of a vast tepui (a quarter-mile high, and stretching over a total of three six-mile hexes), with a fog-shrouded crater lake almost six miles across, with a darker patch in the fog hinting at an island. The sheer cliffs are riddled with caves, ravines, waterfalls, and the ruins of stairways and building foundations.

They briefly fly closer for a better look … and spot a long, crimson-scaled dragon. The Grim Fist bravely panics and flees.

Then they plot and plan. They fail to find any glorious historical notes for this dragon; but do find a sizing chart that implies the red is Old but not older, and decide that maybe it’s doable. The pick their retinue and head out.

The dragon’s cave is easy to find again. Invisible and silenced, they slowly make their way into the cave, which turns out deeper and darker than expected, especially without torches. Then, just ahead, the faint glint of gold amidst the shadows.

Vulfelind trots ahead to take a better look … and invisible and silenced, falls silently and invisibly through the illusory floor into a pit of pythons. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the party - blissfully ignorant - follows.

As they fight the snakes, there is a draconic, rumbling chuckle, and a boulder - sized exactly for the hole they fell through! - is rolled into place. The remainder of the fight against the pythons is in darkness, lit only by the dim, flickering glow of magic swords and flaming crossbow.

A careful search discovers no secret exits, no indication of magical effects, and a boulder too heavy for mortals to move.

So Galswintha summons an earth elemental, and sends it up and out, shoving the boulder aside. Dragon fire envelops it, and it steps out of sight to wrestle the dragon. The party swarms out after … and are enveloped by dragon fire.

From the second dragon.

One panicked melee later, one dragon is downed and the other cowers, swearing draconic oaths of fealty to save its skin. And then Galswintha makes Merideth provide first aid to the downed dragon, who similarly swears draconic oaths of fealty to save its skin.

No one really trusts them, but … Chlodomer smiles, and takes their oaths. A blue, draconic flame briefly envelops them, and he explains the Oath of Fealty to them. The dragons look even sorrier for themselves, wings and faces drooping like a caught six-year old.

And then the party finds the treasure hoard.

  • An entire, intact war galley, propped on stands as if sitting on a beach. A sheer, vertical hole leading up from the cave has faint sunlight glittering down, revealing the secret of its arrival. It has a number of automatons reminescent of dwarven design:
    • 300 automaton rowers (1/2 HD, weight 10 stone, untiring, no Move, no attacks, and no actions more complex than rowing). Base cost 1,000 gp each.
    • One infrastructure piece that maybe manages the rudder and sails? (10 HD, weight 1,000 stone, AC 5, no Move, requires controller, #AT 1, damage cannon 3d10 [300']). Base cost unknown without figuring out what all it can do. A complicated series of knobs, levers, pulleys, and switches are arrayed in a captain's chair.
    • Three advanced-looking catapults (6 HD, weight 360 stone, AC 3, no Move, requires controller, #AT 1, damage catapult 3d6 [200']). Base cost 12,000 gp each ... probably.
  • In the hold, exotic spices, silks, clothing designs, wines, bottles that look like some sort of clear wine, trinkets of unknown origin, and lots and lots of stuff that just screams "this boat sailed from a faraway place we've never even heard of."
  • The traditional pile of dragon's gold and platinum, worth approximately 60,000 gp.
  • A number of minor magic items which immediately get shifted to henchmen.
  • Four mostly-identical amethyst cylinder seals: each shows a djinn prince identified by a banner, bowing before an unknown king who is surrounded by a variety of signs of wealth and power. The only difference between each is the symbol on the djinn prince's banner.

The war galley weighs close to 30,000 stone, including everything on it. A team of three thousand humans, armed with plenty of ropes and guide poles, might conceivably manage to pull the thing out. That sounds suspiciously like a construction project …

OOC: I ruled that the 200-foot hole it needs to be dragged up is roughly equivalent to 15,000 gp of project, or 30 days. That would take them into the following month, and they didn’t inquire further, or make plans for any additional project work.

Galswintha teleports Chlodomer to her tower, and he gathers his military and marches back to the ship site. The logistics issues hit almost immediately.

Sheer cliffs and unknown conditions at top mean a stairway is needed for the troops to survive. Repairing one of the existing stairs works out to 25,000 gp worth of project, or 50 days. For the lengths of time required, the soldiers will need supply lines, which currently cut directly through wilderness - the wilderness will need to be cleared first, and then at least a minimal dirt road cut through 12 miles.

They camp their soldiers at the base of the tepui cliffs, and have them begin repairing the stairs … and set to clearing the path, ending out the month with the last ogre village firebombed and wiped out.

The dragons are not particularly helpful throughout, and even with the Blue Duchess’ oath spell in place, a careful watch is kept on them.

Months 9 and 10
Population 43,500. Profits 178,000 and 189,500 gp.

While the Grim Fist does do some maintenance lair-clearing (another outbreak of ankhegs at the southeastern border, a brief argument with giants who thought they could homestead in some poor farmer’s barn, and a number of more minor incidents), they focus mostly on other concerns.

Vulfelind aggressively watches Duke Ageric’s activities, further organizes her spy ring, manages her city, and helps Chlodomer keep an eye on the Mesa Project.

Chlodomer keeps the supply chain to Tepui Lake safe, monitors the repairs (and sometimes wholly new construction) of the quarter-mile stairway … and gathers the party to kill the manticore haunting the top of the cliff and hoping for snacks.

Merideth produces two more Harvests, covering most of the remainder of the realm, and begins a fourth and final casting.

Galswintha finishes pioneering research to bind a fire elemental and begins researching Permanency. (Vulfelind: “What, it’s not a secret?”)

HD 16* (fire elemental; base cost 37,000 gp) throw 4+ (6+, -2 for efreeti whispers, -3 from INT, -3 from 70,000 gp ceremonial space, +6 elemental, -4 experimentation, +4 one year duration)

She rolls a 17, gaining an additional two 2d10 special abilities: flight (180’) and a breath weapon (16d6 fire, 30x90 cone).

The fire elemental appears in the form of a 60-foot long feathered serpent with a slightly draconic cast, but can take the usual pillar of flame form freely. In serpent form, it can fly at 180’ with up to 120 stone, or 90’ with 240 stone; in pillar of flame form, it can move at 120’ across the ground, but cannot carry objects.

Her reaction roll (+1 CHA, +2 mystic aura, +2 fire elementals) is a 13. Yikes. We determine that the elemental’s name is Sandalwood Dawn.

1) Amazingly cool treasure in the dragon's lair. I love the automaton-rowed ship.

2) The extent to which your players are casting and using ritual magic and performing experimentation warms my soul. 

Thanks for those great updates!

Isn’t there a way for chlodomer to get back to being a man? I feel for him, I really do.


Per p. 104, “The resulting side effects are permanent and can only be removed with a wish spell.”

They have at least five wishes, don’t they? They just have to convince Wordthief that Chlodomer’s masculinity is sufficiently epic :wink:

  1. The players agree with you. Since I put a fair amount of work into it, I’m gratified on both fronts.

  2. Galswintha is going to court that 15% guaranteed chance of horrible fate like it’s going out of style, I think. Merideth has thus far refused to be drawn in.

The options are:

  1. Die and restore a bunch of times and pray.
  2. There is said to be a type of cursed item which alters gender. Find one.
  3. Get a wish.

On the latter, I house ruled that wish is a level-11 ritual spell. The only way to acquire it is via radical experimentation, a formula, or by petitioning someone who already has the secret of it.

So Galswintha and Chlodomer have been negotiating, based on the risks Galswintha will have to take. When they hammer out a deal, it will probably happen within a few months game-time - Galswintha is no slouch in the research department.

It’s also possible they will find another wish item. Or persuade Wordthief.

I don’t think Galswintha can manage it, even without slouching - a level-11 ritual spell gives a 14th-level caster with 18 INT and the finest library in the land a final throw value of (3+, -3 INT, -3 library, +11 ritual) 8+. To get a revolutionary breakthrough requires a roll of 28+, and radical experimentation only brings that down to 22+.

You could set the “cost” at level 10.5, and put an intermediate +1.5 spell level result between “major” and “revolutionary,” and that would be achievable.

An 11th level caster will have a final throw of (6+, -3 INT, -3 library, +10* ritual, -6 radical) 4+, and would manage a “major plus” breakthrough on a 19+.

  • Assuming we round down on that whole 10.5 thing.

Hmmm. Assuming that one agrees that Wish, as written, is an 11th level spell effect, then you don't need to get a revolutionary breakthrough to get it - you simply need to research an 11th level spell. That would require (as you note) an 8+.

A revolutionary breakthrough would be required if one were attempting to make a 9th level spell effect (say, "Limited Wish"). The difficulty would be 6+. To get a radical breakthrough requires a roll of 26+, which with radical experimentation becomes 20+, e.g. roll a natural 20. Then one would raise the spell's level by 2, from 9th level effectively to 11th level effectively.

In other ways, if you want to make Wish rare, the way to do is not to make it a spell that can be researched at 11th level, but rather to say that it's an 11th level effect that can only be achieved by getting a radical breakthrough while researching a 9th level spell.

I hope that made sense!

I think you and Cameron were on the same page, and I was off in the bushes somewhere.

Regarding wishes, I’ll just post in the House Rules forum regarding my thoughts, and look for advice there.

OOC: Not a long session, and I have had a busy week, so, kind of short update.

Session 35
Month 11
Merideth begins throwing the portion of her tithes that count as level income into the party pot. This … is not as large a contribution as those who argued for it had hoped. Still, it helps.

Population 44,500. Profits 208,000 gp (before cliffside costs).

A thousand-foot-high, continuous stairway snakes its way up the tepui cliffside. A war galley has been lifted up a 200-foot shaft and placed onto a stand by sheer human effort. Three thousand soldiers pat themselves on the back.

… and the rulers of Galaufabonne realize: it still has to be lowered a thousand more feet down the cliff and transported home. They decide to leave it there.

… and Galswintha asks to examine it before they leave. So Chlodomer and Vulfelind hang out as protection, and Merideth wanders the shoreline looking for monsters.

Galswintha first gets a full list of knobs and levers and bits:

(OOC: The players were stunned: I'd actually done some prep work.)
  • Captain's Chair
    • A large pulley attached to a horn-like contraption in the ceiling.
    • A control panel, from left to right:
      • A keyhole, large red switch (down), and pulley.
      • Three switches (all down): "fore," "aft," and "aft broad."
      • Twelve numbered switches numbered 1-12 (all down).
      • Three identical knobs in a vertical line. Each has a black line across them, currently horizontal.
      • A long lever arm (0 degrees horizontal) with two crossbow-like triggers and a feather decoration.
      • A long lever arm (36 degrees up) with one crossbow-like trigger and a reed decoration.
      • Three small key switches covered by removable bells: red, black, and green.
  • Each catapult:
    • A horizontal wheel.
    • A vertical wheel with cubits marked along the outer edge.
    • A single heavy-duty returning lever.
Then she wanders around the ship. She asks about the angles of rudder and sails. She paces out the ropes. She looks under the rower benches and finds cabling.

She crawls into a catapult … and turns a knob. It refuses to budge.

She returns to the captain’s chair and tries to turn the middle of the three vertical knobs. It refuses to budge.

She wanders back out and looks for a power source, and finds a crystal she thinks might be the source … but there’s nothing wrong with the crystal that she can see. She calls Vulfelind over to pick the keyhole on the far left.

Vulfelind: “So what will this do?”
Galswintha: “It’s a secret.”

She picks the lock anyway, and turns it. Nothing happens.

Galswintha flips the big red switch to (up). Nothing happens.

She flips switches, discovers that the knobs still don’t budge, and almost (almost!) releases one of the bell covers.

Then Vulfelind hauls on the far-left pulley.

An enormous clatter. A sputtering sound. Galswintha and Vulfelind share a half-second grin, grab the pulley together, and put their backs into it. Another sputter.

Chlodomer and Merideth are crowding into the cabin, “WHAT THE FIVE HELLS ARE YOU TWO GIRLS DOING?”

They haul on it again. The sputter turns into a roar. The ship rocks slightly. A soft glow begins to light up behind the switches.

Galswintha cackles maniacally … and then everyone hears splintering sounds outside. Vulfelind immediately starts flipping switches back to (down) and the sound subsides. Several of the ship’s oars (but fortunately not the rowers) are broken - they weren’t built for dry land.

They decide to not leave the ship after all.

Month 12
Population 46,000. Profits 212,000 gp (before cliffside costs).

Merideth finishes her final Harvest casting - the entire Realm of Galaufabonne is now at +2 land value - and begins researching Resurrection (throw 9+, 14 weeks, and 7,000 gp).

Galswintha begins researching “lesser wish” as a 9th level spell with Radical experimentation (throw 4+, 9,000 gp, 18 weeks).

the Grim Fist clears the area of the cliffs and the path north of all lairs, and puts the smallest valid fortresses into place to hold the areas, then fishes through the northern edge of the lake to make sure no obvious monsters lurk.

And then they bring in civilian laborers to begin the task of lowering the entire ship, intact, down the thousand-foot cliff. And while the initial construction of the bridging and ropes needed is occurring, they repair the damage they did discovering that the ship’s devices still worked.

The two dragons, Agape and Agathon, make pests of themselves. They attempt to hold the elfmaid hostage for their freedom (er, you guys know that this elemental is my ally, right?). They attempt to sneak out. They sabotage one of the vertical bridges. … and then they eat a peasant who wanders too near.

The last is the final straw. Chlodomer passes judgement … and then looks disconcerted: breaking the fealty oath works both ways. The dragons lose their blue halo and are immediately alerted.

The second fight with the dragons, newly desparate to escape, is harder, but the Grim Fist prevails. The dragons are slain. … and Chlodomer is significantly happier about her blue halo.

The ship, however, is still up a cliff with new paddles.

Session 36
Year 1308
Months 1, 2, and 3, Winter
Final population 51,750, profits 623,326 gp. Merideth levels again as she finally catches up to where a cleric should be with the party XP average … and stops leveling on the current income again.

Merideth fails to research Resurrection and starts over (will finish at end of month 5).

Galswintha successfully researches Permanency in month 1! She immediately begins researching a new spell:

No Stone. Immune to flesh to stone and to all petrification effects. Affects one creature (who must be touched; attack roll required in combat) for one turn. Level 2 mage spell.
And completes it in month 2. And then she begins researching an item (which will complete in month 9):
Stone Charm. This bracelet charm protects the wearer from being turned to stone. Base cost 50,000 GP.

The rulers of Galaufabonne pacify three new hexes in month 1, and two new hexes in each of month 2 and 3. None of the lairs I rolled were particularly challenging - I may be hand-crafting some hexes soon.

They also, miraculously, manage to get the ship down the cliff intact … and then transported home, where they store the ship in picturesque fashion just outside Bone Temple (on a stand high enough to avoid the oars hitting ground).

Then the party begins experimenting with the controls, a bit more cautiously this time, and manages to work out many of the details:

  • All switches follow this rule: "Down" is off/locked, "up" is active/unlocked.
  • The horn-like contraption is a loudspeaker.
  • The keyhole, large switch, and pulley are all needed to activate the ship.
  • The three switches (fore, aft, and aft broad) lock/unlock the catapults.
  • The twelve numbered switches activate rowers in lots of 25 (sets of five benches).
  • The three black-line knobs individually rotate the sail masts. Pushing a knob causes the sail to roll up; push again, it rolls back down.
  • The lever arm with two triggers ... does not appear to do anything.
  • The single-trigger lever arm adjusts the rudder.
  • The removable bells ... they leave alone, on the premise that one of them may be a self-destruct switch.

The catapults have more self-explanatory controls, and the entire party indulges in some target practice outside the city.

“Now,” says Lady Chlodomer, grinning, “We just have to get it to an ocean.”

As Spring begins, the Grim Fist decides to tackle the entire 3-hex tepui.

Month 4, Tepui West (#0707)
Population 53,000, profits 216,000 gp.

They clear out a manticore, a pack of brigands, a hill giant gang, crocodiles and giant pythons, a lost trader (whom they helpfully assist back to the Highway), and a flight of giant hawks (whom they befriend).

… and then they stumble across an NPC party: two fighters, a thief, and a mage, who claim that they were clearing the mesa and the Grim Fist can go toss themselves off a cliff somewhere. They also helpfully point at the nearby cliff the Grim Fist can use.

The NPCs have a small army with them; the Grim Fist has Merideth’s knights and a few other retainers. The Grim Fist fails to be intimidated. Chlodomer elects to try to intimidate them … and completely blows the roll.

It had to happen someday.

Merideth and her knights handle the retainers and mercenaries. The outcome is never in doubt.

Vulfelind pounces the enemy thief … and this outcome has very little doubt.

Chlodomer takes on both fighters to protect Galswintha, and gets her butt handed to her - both fighters are higher level, and one has a girdle of giant strength. Chlodomer does her best to draw the fight out and survive her role as punching bag until the others can help.

And Galswintha … the enemy mage uses a prepared ritual spell to permanently polymorph her into a rabbit. And then casts Charm Animal. And then begins casting support spells against Chlodomer.

Chlodomer goes down and the two fighters move in to help the thief defeat Vulfelind - a mistake, as it turns out, because Vulfelind finishes killing the thief and retreats, cracking open a scroll of dispel magic on Galswintha.

Galswintha screams incoherently and tackles (tackles!) and pins the mage … and then breathes dragonfire directly into his face. The pinned scholar dies ugly.

The two enemy fighters glance at each other, shrug, and split up: Mr. Giant Strength to kill Vulfelind, the other Galswintha. Vulfelind plays mouse, tantalizingly within reach despite her superior movement rate.

Galswintha takes a solid hit, breathes fire, takes a second solid hit (at which point the enemy fighter gets a pained look), and breathes fire for the third time. The fighter dies in melee combat with a mage.

And then Merideth, finished routing the mercenaries, comes pounding back in to heal Chlodomer (who gets up as if nothing happened) … and the whole party stomps the final fighter into paste.

Chlodomer can’t fit herself into the girdle of giant strength fast enough.

With the NPC party out of the way, they scout further and find a collection of lizardman villages scattered amidst a vast complex of stone ruins at the western edge of the fog-shrouded lake. They retreat to plot and plan.

Just posting the usual “this is awesome, yada yada yada” post. The system looks good and fun, but your campaign shows what it can really do, and I am inspired!

“The fighter dies in melee combat with a mage.”


I’m hoping for a holy war with the lizardman kingdom, who were worshipping the dragons as gods.

Heh. Close. Much was revealed this session, and I ended on a cliffhanger.

Session 37
Month 5
Population 54,000, profits 220,000 gp. Vulfelind finally levels!

Galswintha is 11th; Chlodomer and Vulfelind are 12th; Merideth is 13th. With their shared profit system, Galswintha earns XP at more than 160,000 gp. Chlodomer and Vulfelind need the duchy to produce more than 240,000 gp per month. Merideth needs it to earn, er, more than 600,000 gp per month - for Merideth, adventuring and research is the only way until Galaufabonne is MUCH larger.

Galswintha has her apprentices identify items … and discovers that the four amethyst cylinder seals they’ve been sitting on for the last ten months are wishes granted by a djinni prince.

Chlodomer squeals delightedly and immediately begins rummaging through her wardrobes.

Galswintha hrms, and asks questions about how djinn compare to efreet. We come up with these answers:

Genies all form caliphates under princes, are hidebound and conservative, and are bureaucratic masters of twisted wording.

Efreet: Fire elementals. Chaotic. Wicked and ruthless, they delight in the pain of others and the destruction of value, and are infamous for their twisted wishes. When Galswintha asks whether the fungal attraction to Galaufabonne and the purple worm migrations toward Galaufabonne are a side effect of her wish for prosperity, the Judge tells her she can take a month to research that.

Djinn: Air elementals. Neutral. They blow this way and that, and may be wicked or benevolent by individual dictates or whim. They are difficult to bind, because their nature changes!

Madrid: Water elementals. Neutral. Known for stormy tempers, but generally benevolent otherwise. Very, very difficult to summon without enraging; an enraged madrid tends to destroy things on arrival.

Dao: Earth elementals. Lawful. Extremely strict, forbidding, and autocratic. Will serve faithfully if bound, and their wishes are the most trusted of genies, but adherence to Law makes them the most difficult to bind at all.

When Chlodomer returns, breathless and flushed and armed with her old male clothing, Galswintha activates the first seal. A djinn prince appears, tall and handsome, and bows before Galswintha, his forehead and both palms touching the floor, then stands and stares at her, “You are not He who bound My Word.”

Galswintha: No.
Djinn: How did you come by His Seal?
Chlodomer, silk-smooth: She recovered it from His ship, lost for centuries.
Djinn: I see. Indeed, it has been some time.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My bound Word is in your hands. I would have It back.
Galswintha: Do I get a wish first?
Djinn, sighing: Please do not anger me. I would hate to destroy such a pretty little thing.
Galswintha, face reddening: …
Chlodomer: Her proper title, O Prince of Djinn, is Wizard, 12th Order.
Djinn: Oh.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My most abject apologies, Mistress. What is Your wish?

Moments later, Chlodomer is once again a man, the cylinder seal crumbles to dust, and the djinn prince returns home.

They set the remaining three aside for later discussion while they plan their next assault on Tepui West. Galswintha puts them in her pouch, just in case.

Tepui Overview

A tepui is a tall and vast mesa, often characterized by its own ecology and weather. This one is larger than most. The cliff-sides are thick with caves, ravines, chimneys, and falls; and the ancient remnants of thousand-foot stairways. One of those stairways was rebuilt by the Grim Fist.

The tepui is moist and humid, with daily showers, constant mist and clouds, year-round streams and waterfalls, and a heated lake fed by underwater geysers.

The majority of the lake is in the northern hex. A hilly, cave-riddled, mossy cloud forest covers the rest. The three hexes are Tepui Lake (#0807), Tepui South (#0808), and Tepui West (#0707).

Tepui Lake probably has an island. The Grim Fist has not yet dared the fog.

Tepui West has the highest elevated terrain, with stone ruins rising in concentric arcs away from the lake. There are several visible objects:

  • Some landmarks that they can only see because they know to look:
    • The hill/cavern the two manticores were living in.
    • The cleared patch where they found the brigands.
    • The ashes of the hill giant gang's campfire.
  • Concentric partial circles of stone ruin.
  • The lower two-thirds of an obese humanoid sitting cross-legged. One pair of arms rests across the thighs, the hands (and whatever they were holding) broken off; a second arm on the left is held out, elbow bent and palm open upwards; and a second arm on the right is broken at the elbow. Even without the upper shoulders and head, the seated statue rises some 60 feet above the surrounding forest canopy (the crosslegged thighs are of a height with the trees).
  • What appears to be several ship wrecks, grown over with trees and moss.
  • A sunken entrance to what may be a vast cavern.
  • Two lizardman villages along the lakeshore, separated by a few miles, with a dirt path between, and an additional path each further into the jungle.

Tepui South has the median height terrain (between the lake and the hills of West), and no sign of any major civilization ever having existed beneath its canopy … although it may have been any of a number of less permanent structures, such as farms. The visible objects:

  • One lizardman village at the shore, with trail into canopy.
  • A giant, moss-covered chiquinib oak, of a size with the Galaufchulis tree, but in poor health. And instead of rocs or pegasi, lizardmen have established a vertical village cut into the bark, a hollow hole is visible in the side, and giant lizards of some sort scurry along the outer portions.
  • A single moss-covered ship wreck.
  • A crude, lashed-rope bridge across a chasm.
  • A crude pyramid of tree trunks topped by the skull of a giant humanoid.

Village North-on-Water

The party decides to tackle the northernmost village, on the strength of an argument from Vulfelind: if they have to run away, they don't have to run past the other village.

Vulfelind, her invisible canoe, and Team Thief move into position above. Galswintha and Team Mage stay a cautious distance out, ready to move in. Chlodomer, Merideth, and Merideth’s Cavalry ride into the village to give the lizardmen a chance to leave without a fight.

There are 300 standard lizardmen in the village. 375 females. 60 champions. 13 warband leaders. And their chief - a sixth-level Thrassian gladiator with a vicious temper and a cruel streak. The biggest problem, however, is the Thrassian’s wives, who bear the marks of that temper, and thus make a peaceful resolution unlikely.

Chlodomer: HUH.
Merideth: Indeed.
Chlodomer: Don’t signal the girls.
Merideth, looking down at herself: …
Chlodomer: You’re a knight.
Merideth: Fair enough.
Chlodomer: Okay, komodo breath, here’s the deal. I’m going to chop you into tiny, teeny little pieces, and your people can choose to leave peacefully or not.

The Thrassian takes a long look at Chlodomer’s quality of gear, his aura of power, and the circlet on the ducal brow … and gargles a command to his people. Who fail to move.

The shaman clears his throat, “I think you two work it out. I think we talk with winner.”

The Thrassian takes one more long look, then sprints for the lake shore … and bangs his head on the underside of an invisible canoe before a werefox and her crew appear in the midst of a backstab. The Thrassian is a corpse before he knows what happened.

Chlodomer: HUH.
Merideth: Indeed.

There are some complications. The fifteen wives of the Thrassian now consider Chlodomer their owner, and the village considers him their Chief … and as long as he remains Chief, they will happily remain “loyal” to Galaufabonne.

Galswintha and the lizardman shaman sit down in the medicine lodge to discuss the situation. When she returns, the Grim Fist has a better idea of what’s going on:

There are roughly five thousand lizardmen (1,000 families) hunting, gathering, looting, gardening, and "farming" in the three hexes of the tepui, plus four villages (the three small lakeshore ones with around 75+ families, and the larger giant tree one with around 250 families). It is technically a "civilized" Chaotic domain.

The Chief of Chiefs who rules the four villages and related tribes is not really powerful enough to hold everything together by himself … but he doesn’t have to be, because the Serpent King backs his claim to the position.

The Serpent King guards a terrible maze of catacombs, and is some sort of snake-bodied lizardman necromancer of terrifying power. The Serpent King also has servants other than the Chief of Chiefs: a mist-colored dragon; a giant human shadow (“the night walker”); an immortal warrior of some sort; and an awful creature of metal and glowing crystals that few have seen.

None of the villages like the Chief of Chiefs. They would much rather be allowed to murder and pillage and eat sentients without paying a vassal tax for the privilege.

But no worries: all of the Chiefs meet with the Chief of Chiefs once every seven days, so Chlodomer won’t have to wait long to get properly involved in the local politics.

The Grim Fist take advantage of the momentary respite and hospitality to explore the area this village controls. Chlodomer fends off the advances of fifteen slave lizardwomen. Vulfelind has a long, private conversation with Wordthief. Galswintha discusses the local politics with the shaman.

Merideth tries to not kill anyone.

Village Above-the-Cloud

A few days later, it is time to meet the Chief of Chiefs. Chlodomer puts on the ceremonial headress, and the Grim Fist and lizardman shaman walk the path to the Great Tree and then up the creaking and poorly-shaped stairs. Galswintha, long-accustomed to living and dwelling in such a tree, notes that it is in far worse condition than it looked previously. She fingers one of the amethyst cylinder seals in her pouch, then shakes her head.

Near the top, the shaman announces Chlodomer as the new Chief by succession.

The Chief of Chiefs stomps over and sniffs him.

CoC: A human?
Shaman: This human is strong.
CoC: This I would see for myself.

The Chief of Chiefs drags out a shaking lizardman, and speaks to it in hissing tones. Finally, it nods, and bares fangs and claws at Chlodomer, then leaps at the human, howling with rage.

Chlodomer lets the claws scratch uselessly on his armor, then wraps one ogre-and-giant-empowered hand around the lizardman’s throat, lifts it bodily, and tosses the lizardman off the tree. To the Chief of Chiefs, he says merely, “Let me know when you are ready to test my strength, and I will do my best.”

Chief of Chiefs grabs four more warriors in ill favor, and sends them against Chlodomer, who draws his sword and in one smooth motion, cleaves through all four, then yawns.

The Chief of Chiefs harumphs again, but lets it stand, and then states that the formal meeting will occur in the lodge in one hour, and then stomps away into the tree’s hollow. The other Chiefs look nervous.

A few minutes later, a dragon with palest blue scales crawls out of the hollow with the Chief of Chiefs, 18 feet long and winged. Its eyes glow briefly, then it gives a dry chuckle, and in quite elegant Frankish, “If I may hazard a guess? You are the individuals who slew Agape and Agathon?”

Chlodomer admits that this is true, hand on sword, and the dragon laughs, “Oh, most excellent. If I may advise? You may be wondering if you have gotten yourself in too deep - and you have - but my mistress would speak to you, and perhaps offer you an alliance rather than a conflict. Would you, perhaps, be willing to accompany me to speak with her?”

The Catacombs of the Serpent King

The party is escorted to the base of the vast multi-armed, headless statue, which turns out to be constructed on a fortress of substantial craft. They are brought therein to a courtyard, and then a Great Hall ...

… and all but Chlodomer are instantly paralyzed at the sight of Her.

Her face is heart-stoppingly beautiful … and terrible beyond words. Dread washes over the room as She surveys it. Her skin is palest jade and her flesh perfect, but Her arms end in lizardman forearms and claws. Her smile is fanged. Her eyes are jet black, with amber hints of lambent light. Her lower torso is a coiled constrictor of the same pale green. Her hair - 18 feet of it - is silken black and straight.

She is as large as Iamanu, some sixty feet long, and Her perfect upper torso is easily nine feet of that. She wears obviously magical jewelry: an emerald-studded, platinum crown with a faintly-glowing third eye; emerald earrings; an ebon collar with a jade intaglio of a serpent; on each arm, a platinum torc, bronze bracer, and ruby-studded finger gauntlet; around Her waist, a delicate platinum belt.

Chlodomer, utterly immune to fear, bows as one ruler to another, “My lady, they regrettably did not tell me you were so beautiful or I would have traveled faster.”

And She laughs, and the dread - of very similar feel to that of mummies - evaporates in an instant. Galswintha nervously slips a hand into her pouch, where it wraps itself tightly around an amethyst cylinder.

“I am Lady Jade the Undying. The degenerate thrass insist on applying the term king, but truly, I do little more than advise their Chief of Chiefs. My role here is as guardian, not ruler, and I have little interest in world affairs beyond ensuring the security of My guardianship.”

Vulfelind raises an eyebrow, “Does that mean that if we conquered this area, but left this place to you, you would not interfere?”

Jade, with a razor smile, “That depends entirely on what I think of you after this meeting.”

Is that a dungeon crawl looming ahead that I see?

Also, my favorite part:

Chlodomer: Her proper title, O Prince of Djinn, is Wizard, 12th Order.
Djinn: Oh.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My most abject apologies, Mistress. What is Your wish?

Yes. They almost managed to explore the first room before fleeing for their lives.