Rappan Athuk

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To Castle Falconberg
A light on a dark road

The old coast road seems to have become more deserted, lonelier as you travel north. The occasional wheel rut indicate it is still travelled, but fear of bandits and worse has clearly kept people away. Dark times are here, it seems.
And darkening skies too, with weather closing in from the east. Not a night to be travelling in a place such as this. But travelling you are, and it is with lightening hearts, as the drizzle begins, that you see ahead the great shape and welcoming lights of Castle Falconberg, last bastion before the grim wildlands surrounding the rumoured location of Rappan Athuk.
Castle Falconberg….a place of legend, home for the past 50 years to one of the greatest adventuring groups ever to battle evil across Golarion. A place of refuge, of information, of aid.
As you climb the slopes, hoods tightened against the rain, you can’t help but wonder how wise you were to come this way. Falconberg…your new home

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Letters to the Tower
First Report

Dear Mistress Caradine,

I have arrived at Falconberg and are currently mid way through our first foray into Rappan Athuk. The situation is more dire than my visions predicted. I fear if you no longer receive communication from me, I have perished and another must take up my focus.

Falconberg is as I was led to expect. Age and the death of his heir have unmanned Earl Reynar, and he seems barely concerned with the goings on beyond his walls. The man is in his extreme old age so this is hardly surprising. I must commend him for his hospitality and courtesy, but he will not draw his sword for our cause as I had hoped. Perhaps his daughter could be recruited, though this must be done carefully lest Falconberg become closed to me. I have concerns regarding the half-elf tutor Minetta, she was part of the Fire Knives adventuring band, but for some reason she did not accompany their last tragic incursion into RA. After light questioning I suspect a failed relationship, shame, guilt and some dark betrayal. Further persuasion, perhaps magical, may be required to close this avenue of inquiry. She did furnish us with a map of the first level and some passages she had discovered in the dungeon. The accuracy of these extracts may help determine her veracity. To date they have proved useful.

Interestingly we have acquired a number of companions that have been lured by money and bravado, the classic medley of itinerant adventurers that can prove so effective where larger military intervention could fail. I thought it was prudent to find some “specialists” to accompany us. They seem capable but Alain seems to have his doubts. I fear he must learn to trust, we cannot defeat the evil of RA without assistance. A warrior of a fallen house seems a drunken, lecher, but I suspect it is a lack of parental guidance. A search of the records show that his line was destroyed by forces from RA in the last great expansion. Perhaps his grief can be turned into a powerful motivation, he may yet prove our greatest ally. He has a powerful shield that seems to summon some extra-planar lion, this is powerful magic, I must observe it further. A tiefling spell dancer and a goblin rogue also travel with us. Unlike some of our order, my quest is too dire to allow prejudice to preclude success. So far they have been able and trusty companions and I will treat them thus until they prove otherwise. Ironically they have been better behaved so far than the human, always the truth surprises me more than the stories. From them I learned that our sister Kalina was part of the fire knives and is said to have perished in the dungeon. I must find her remains and verify her passing, particularly if her death here threatens her soul. I only hope another would do the same for me.

Out first foray into the dungeon was difficult but not unexpectedly so. The journey through the immediate forest was perilous, being attacked by giant vermin, where the self-styled “prince” Rathashek dealt fearsome damage with a pair of matched daggers. I considered it prudent to camp some way from the graveyard but we were attacked by wraiths while we slept. I suffered some damage but the spirits were dispatched. There appears to be some emnity between Alain and the warrior Lucius. He blames the stranger for not keeping watch, but he is only being protective. I must ensure that my Warden’s concern does not jeapordise the integrity of the party.

As we approached the surface complex we were harassed by trolls. While we made short work of them, Rathashek overheard them speaking in giantish, and claimed they were asked to wait here for a group traveling to RA by someone called Turane. I cannot believe the name a coincidence and if the arch-conjurer is here we must be doubly careful. Is he the reason the dungeon of graves has awoken? Alain is already on edge, even I may not be able to hold him back if we meet the fiend. Another possibility that the conversation is a creation of Rathashek. I will give it consideration.

The graveyard too is as our scryings showed. A number of buildings all empty. Concerning we found full marked graves for the missing five knives. Also open graved marked with our names. A chilling reminder of the danger we face. Has someone been alerted to our presence, is it Turane? I hope by the light not, if he is prepared for us, it can only mean the existence of a traitor within falconberg… or the party. The alternative is that the location itself possess foul magic capable of altering reality. Either possibility is disturbing.

Returning to the ruins, we had two choices, a well described with foul demonic carvings or a secret passage marked on the map beneath one of the mausoleums. I recalled the common saying “don’t go down the well” perhaps it has no relevance but we resolved to try the mausoleum. Gargoyles dove down from the roof and a frantic battle ensued. I believe the beasts recognised the risk I posed, as most assaulted me. Alain leapt to my defense, splitting two through the middle, though he was soon paralysed by the creatures touch. Surprisingly Lucius came to my aid, summoning his lion to defend me. My magic was able to dazzle many of the creatures giving time for Alain and the party to defeat the beasts. Unfortunately we were left in no condition to try the dungeon below.

After warnings of sleeping in the ruins we sought refuge by the coast, in a defensible position. Unfortunately we were still harassed by worgs and their vampiric master. He introduced himself as the lord of the land. Seeking a tribute of blood in exchange for safe passage, the noble appeared civilised – chillingly so. Believing us outmatched, Alain voluntarily offered his neck to avoid risking damage to me. I felt his pain, but the process went uncharacteristically smoothly and the vampire departed. With rest he will be back to full strength. In the morning an imp appeared with a message from his hag mistresses that live on an island off the coast. A glimpse of the past or future in exchange for blood and treasure. We had offered enough blood for now, perhaps if our need is great enough.

Returning to the ruins the Gargoyles were slowly re-constituting themselves. I estimate that at this rate of regeneration they will be a threat again in a week. Discovering a passage beneath the floor, we descended by rope. We resolved to begin exploring the unmapped areas of the level, discovering numerous rat tunnels including a blocked passageway. Returning to the mapped areas we were forewarned of a spike trap. After searching for some time Alain and Rathashek found nothing. Unfortunately there was a trap as Lucius discovered bravely heading down the stairs ahead. His foot became trapped in a false step, just as foul smelling ghouls assaulted us. Alain and the party drove the ravening beasts back, leaping past Lucius. Once dispatched Lucius was able to extract his foot and while poisoned, one of Alain’s preparations helped ward off ill effects.

I write this report during a short period of rest as we regroup. We will shortly set out in search of the wererats marked on the map. Alain has obtained silver weapons. I will send the report by the regular method when I exit the dungeon. Though I will use one of the lesser known eyes and ears, to protect the integrity of the network. Turane knows too many of our secrets.

By the light and my hope of salvation and rebirth my quest continues.

TT

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Alain's Diary I

23rd Arodus

Arrived at Falconberg. Triana recruited three adventurers for support. They need watching, particularly the warrior, he looks indolent. Falconberg looks defensible, stout walls and a satisfactory number of towers. The door guard was vigilent and alert. Met Earl Falconberg, great warrior once. Daughter seems a capable warrior. Can sense Triana’s impatience to depart. I will begin preparations.

24th Arodus

The warrior lucius has clearly been up all night drinking and debauching, I can smell perfume on him. Met a survivor of the fire knives. She’s clearly lying about something, though she did give us a map of the first level. I have studied it and key threats appear to be wererats and some form of carrion creature. Perhaps undead or ooze or Otuygh? The Fire knives were unable to defeat it. Obtained silver weapons from a dwarf smith, good work.

Set out for the dungeon. Attacked by large beetle, my sword work was sloppy, must train harder when I get chance. Still learning to compensate for my enlarged form, though it was useful not needing to step within the beasts reach.

Made camp five miles or so away from RA. Night passed safely until the warrior’s watch. He must have been sleeping or drunk for the shadows caught us by surprise. I was woken by Triana’s pain as her strength was sapped away, leaving her paralysed. I was able to defeat the remaining shadows as the rest of the party dealt with one. Triana is clearly in greater risk as two of the spirits went for her.

Confronting Lucius he of course denied his laxity, I simply do not trust him. Offered healing, but he was too proud to ask for help. He will learn. He has no respect for the great work we undertake. I wish I knew why Triana is willing to trust him with our lives.

Reached RA. Open graves waiting for us, but not if I can help it. Though I would gladly give my life for Triana’s. Graveyard seems empty but appearance can be deceiving. Clearly evil at work here. Attacked by gargoyles atop a mausoleum. Frustrating as again Triana primary target. Took down one and badly wounded another but I was paralysed by their touch. A lion creature summoned by Lucius moved to protect Triana from the remaining gargoyle assaulting her. For that I am grateful. It goes someway to making amends for his indolence at the campsite.

Camped outside the dungeon by the coast. Found a sheltered overhang. Cornered by vampire and worgs. Demanded blood, offered mine. They were clearly too strong and I cannot risk Triana before she is at full strength. Had Lucius been at his best may have risked it, but he is still injured by shadows and he seems to have some other damage to his soul. Is this new or some ancient injury? Either way, I offered my neck to the fiend to save the others. He left us be, I will dwell no more on it.

25th Arodus

Returned to RA and descended beneath one of the mausoleums. Lucius through his shield down the shaft alerting every creature within a mile to our presence… cretin. Rat tunnels are a potential risk. Wished I could somehow block these. Map indicated trap on stairwell but couldn’t find anything. Lucius went down first and stepped through a false stair into a spiked pit coated with poison. Ghouls assaulted us, alerted by the noise. Feel guilty about not spotting the trap, is that so different to his failure to spot the shadows? Moved to protect Lucius and cut the beasts down. Rathashek soon with me… I’m beginning to like the little fellow, he is strangely dependable. Able to extract Lucius’s foot and gave him an anti-toxin to stave off poison. Hopefully he wont judge me too harshly.

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The journal of Valahesh

Returning to my homeland is a strange thing indeed-although only a few years have past it seems like another life, or some half remembered dream-one that was pushed to the fore when I met with an old friend-a boy named Alucius-now a man.
At first I didn’t recognise him. He has changed in those brief years-not just in body, but also in mind and attitude. Despite his bravado it seems the weight of his heritage is beginning to weigh down upon him.
The realm too has changed-it seems grimmer now. The shadows grow longer and deeper with the wasteland pushed up against the very gates of the white keep. Perhaps now it is a home more befitting my kind, although ironically I strive to turn back the shadows. I will succeed and turn my back on this place once more or die in the attempt.

Two others have joined us on our quest. A warrior and a caster of spells-both from some strange order. They seem proud and superior, scornful of this precious home of mine and its quaint ways but they were not openly hostile to the Prince and I-a rare occurance, especially with servants of the gods. The sorceress Triana seems particularly driven, though both are business like and eager-qualities that I admire.

We travel on to the keep now. Soon I will tread the stones of home again. What changes here, will the hand of time have wrought?

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Inside the twisted mind of Prince Ratharshek

And so we leave the guild and travel on to this muddy dung hill of a realm. I was on the verge of cleverly pointing this out to my servant Valahesh when she began a (rather long) speech about the sanctity of this place and the tragedy of her existence. ‘I must clense this land of evil, and then leave, for I too would taint it with my very precence-blah blah blah’. I humoured her for a while but soon the drone of her voice became nought but breying gibberish as I began to mentally undress the buxom peasant girls we passed on out journey(very juicy).

Stopping at a tavern we refreshed oursleves with the bitter water and un-ripened foods so beloved of the pig faced surface infidels. I smiled and feigned interest in their feeble mouthings.

Soon two became three, as a wall of fleshy stupidity staggered towards us on ungainly , swollen limbs (these humans are so large and clumsy. Any goblin born with such deformities would be slaughtered at birth and fed to the crawlers!).
It appeared my humble servant Valahesh knew this shield carrier and the two began to talk of old days passed. I spent my time once more by planning an underwear heist of truly epic proportions (phase 1 of my plans for world domination).

‘Does THAT want one’ -A dough faced simpleton had shambled upon us and against all the odds had formed actual words-each one leaving it’s mouth in a shower of moist human stink. He seemed unaware of what a goblin is. Poor ingnorant fool. Not suprised though. This place is clearly the armpit of the world.

Soon we were all furnished with great jugs of ale-piss and the true grinding reality of the situation bagan to dawn. Alucius was soft headed. I steeled myself and decided to take him under my wing. With the right direction I reasoned, even his childish antics could serve my purpose.

As this thought formed in the razor edged, dragon blood massaged god knacker that is my mind a new pair had arrived. A sour faced man and…well-let us save that for my next exciting tale, fair reader! Live long and fortune be with you(unless you’re a gnome, in which case, suck my green c**k!). Ratharshek out!

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Message to Turane

Lord Turane,
They arrived at the keep, and behaved more or less as expected. The woman, Triana, was focussed, and may be the most perceptive and seems suspicious, but will fare little better than her “sister” Kalina; they place such stress on virginity, and just “fall apart” when it is taken from them! They encountered a beetle on the road, and some wandering shadows, but also dispatched the two trolls with relative ease. They chose not to fight Lord Simrath….one day we will have to deal with that blood-sucking aristocrat ourselves, if we cannot engineer a party of adventurers to do the deed for us, but for now we play for a far greater prize.
I lost “sight” when they entered Rappan Athuk, where they will probably die, but should they not do so, I have the tools at my disposal to ensure we triumph.I did try to persuade them to go down the well, but failed, and did not push the enchantment.
I shall visit tonight for some fun with her, but must return by dawn.

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Inside the twisted mind of Prince Ratharshek Pt2

So-there I was in the human tavern when what should I see but the most gorgeous creature I had ever beheld! Such smooth skin! Such noble bearing! I think I’m in love! After admiring my own reflection in the mug of ale I looked up and beheld our new companions-a sour faced ranger type with a sorceress clad in simple blue and silver mantle (not a total loss-for a pig skin-may warrant further investigation!).
These two introduced themselves as Alain and Triana, although I couldn’t help but think I’d seen them somewhere before. Ah how THE WHEEL OF TIME turns on…
Quite arrogant these two and rather insensitive to the poor simple shield bearer. Such treatment of a mentally challenged man. Still, the sow had a nice pair of..eyes…I was about to offer her the warmest form of greeting in Goblin culture (sticking my head up her dress) but my servant Valahesh dragged me back. She seemed to think the Sorceress would not understand such an honor. She may have been correct, and I agreed to forestall such an intimate show of affection until a later juncture (is Valahesh jelous of this newcomer? I shall have to explain once more about goblin custom when it comes of harems to assuage her fears).

We traveled on and soon arrived at a keep-not a bad place, although sadly lacking in fungal growths or tasty vermin. No wonder the people are so gloomy. Hearing the arrival of a royal prince, the lord of this shit heap kingdom all but fell over himself to role out the red carpet! We dined in the throne room, the women sitting obediently to one side while the shield bearer danced for our amusement and the ranger scowled at the room over a steaming heap of the man-mush that constitutes food in this backwater.
Reynar (the old lord of the keep) seemed content to trade a few war stories with me. He is one of the few humans that was perhaps worthy of my respect-a feeling that was mutual, if unspoken, as we shared many a knowing look and manly nod/grunt of approval over a good fire and a goblet of port.
After a time , the meal came to an end, and we went off to our respective chambers. On my way towards my own room (well, Triana’s room actually) I beheld the oaf in the company of a human female-the old Lords daughter! At first I was confused, ducking behind a pillar to avoid detection-brow furrowed- surely the Lord would want me to take her as my bride? Not an appealing prospect, but I would have done it.
The two rushed by and I overheard part of their conversation ‘I have much to show you’-the wench giggled. Ah, Now I see. The kind hearted girl wished to help this unfortunate creature. To undo with nurture that which nature had so cruelly afflicted.

I stole up to the chamber door and the lesson seemed to be going well. ‘Yes! Yes!’ she cried (quite excitedly) but soon the only sounds she made were moans. The poor, soft creature. No matter. I shall watch over the foolish boy, that he comes to no harm in the dungeon. On this, Prince Ratharshek gives his word!

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Dearest Asdrubel

Dearest Asdrubel,
Our plans proceed apace and I believe I have a lead to the whereabouts of Kalina’s mantle, which will give us great power. We must remain cautious however; Rappan Athuk is a place of great peril, and there are powers within greater than we can possibly face. Even Turane and his “ally” are not the equal of the things that lurk in the depths of that place.
I have heard that Triana and Alain have journeyed to Falconberg, and will doubtless travel beyond to the Graves. Be alert.
When you capture them, be sure to deflower her by force as this will weaken her power, and leave her unable use the mantle….besides it will be fun for you! Take from her the one thing I cannot give you (though I’ve done pretty much everything but!), then either kill her or keep her aas you wish.
As for Alain…..I want him for myself. He needs to pay for choosing that insipid bitch over me.
Faidris

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Into the dungeon and more!
Not all monsters are ugly

The party began by battling through the green gargoyles, and successfully entering Rappan Athuk. In it’s gloomy corridors, they encountered disturbing signs of “wrongness”; an ant covered skeleton, a card table and, of course, the dung monster, which they wisely avoided. Initially responding to the screams of a half elf girl seemingly attacked by rats, they fell right into the wererat ambush, but prevailed, slaughtering the beasts. Descending to the next level, they battled a troupe of ghouls in a hidden room. They triumphed, but were exhausted of spells, Lucius seemed under a strange malaise and mindful of the warnings given, they decided to return to Falconberg to regroup.
A wise decision, but not without cost, as exiting RA they were “shaken down” by Daarog and his hobgoblin bandits, and relieved of what gains they had made. It was a chastened group that finally returned to the castle on the crag!
The events within Falconberg are best told by the players, and involve different perspectives. However, barring Lucius, all mow believe that something is wrong in this bastion of light, and that possibly that something revolves around the sweet, beautiful, noble and blonde granddaughter of the great Lord Reynar…..
The more experienced party returned north after the shenanigans in Falconberg…..and nearly didn’t get to RA at all! They were losing a battle with a bugbear band, when all combatants fled at the waves of fear generated by a mighty beast flying across the forest. A great dragon, crimson and terrifying; a reminder of a possiblefuture quest.
They, or at least the two females, Valahesh and Triona, befriended the druidess Drusilla, and gained a cave, once the home of giant spiders, as a closerbase to RA.
Descending once more into that place of horror, the group were fought to a standstill by black skeletons in the dark and forced to retreat. They did, however, capture the madman, Marsenter, formerly of the Fire Hawks, kill Ambro the mighty ogre and his followers , and eventually slay the undead anti-paladin, Saracek, gaining great wealth in the process.
Cleverly avoiding another encounter with Daarosh and his men, they returned to Falconberg in triumph, laden with loot to sell, and eager for a further venture into the depths. But all is not well in the lands above…….

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