Spires of Xin-Shalast – 2

Since it was a bank holiday weekend, the second session of Spires of Xin-Shalast was an extra long one. So early in the chapter, I didn’t have much knowledge of where the PCs wanted to go, so I had to do some prep for all eventualities.

Fortunately for me, the first thing they wanted to do was go shopping. Having spent almost the entire previous chapter in a dungeon (Runeforge), they had plenty of cash and a desire to spend it – so almost three hours was spent teleporting from city to city looking to see what was available. Also fortunately for me, I’d come across a random city treasure generator recently, and since I’d guessed there would be some shopping I’d prepared by printing out some lists.

Since they were now on the clock – the session started on the evening of 9th Pharast, 4708 and the prophecy from the previous week gave them until at most 13th Gozren (a little over a month), they had to select where to go carefully.

Not all the time was spent figuring out what they could afford, and there was some asking around to find out about Xin-Shalast. Popping into Sandpoint also allowed them to talk to Brodert Quink, who showed them a letter he had that mentioned information about those who had previously sought the lost city of gold:

Salutations Mr Quink!
Thank you again for the kind words and drink. It’s always a pleasure to speak with readers of my work, especially those well read and civilised enough to know of my writing beyond Eidolon. Alas, I was unable to procure a copy of the early draft from my personal files. It would seem that it has gone the way of so much of my early work, lost forever to the gulfs of time and narrow-minded publishers unable to grasp the import of a young Pathfinder’s work.
Fortunately, my mind is as quick now as it was in those early days of my explorations of your fantastic homeland. I recall the evening I first heard the story of Xin-Shalast, while seated on a log in a Varisian camp, sharing ruby mead with an enchanting young woman. Ah, but there’s a story for other times.
I was intrigued by the tale, though. All peoples have tales of “Cities of gold”, yet with Xin-Shalast, the Varisians had no tradition of explorers seeking it.. They viewed the place as one of evil, a place to be feared and forsaken. As far as I could tell, none of your indigenous people ever sought out the ruins before the advent of Chelish rule. But there was mention, come to think of it, of two dwarven brothers. Vekker, I think their names were. Claimed to have found the route to Xin-Shalast and convinced several tradesmen in Janderhoff to support and supply their plan to establish a base of operations in the low Kodar Mountains along the Kazaron. Their vanishing into the Kodars bankrupted all but one of their investors, I hear, and even today, the Vekker name is generally accompanied by a litany of rousing dwarven profanity when it comes up in ‘Hoffian taverns.
Instead of enclosing a copy of the early, complete draft of my work though, please find a signed copy of Eidolon with this missive. I trust it will look quite handsome on your shelf.
In good health,

— Letter found by the Sage Brodert Quink
Map of Kodar Mountains

So they knew to head up into the Kodar Mountains and try and find evidence of the Vekker brothers. He also provided for them a map of the place, which also included the location of the Thassilonian ruin of Guiltspur and the small town of Kazhold.

Kazhold is a small town of about 900 people, mostly humans but also about 50 dwarves. The main church is dedicated to Bergelmir, the Mother of Memories, a storm giant goddess. A long time ago, a storm giant cleric saved the town from rune giants, and the people constructed a shrine to her goddess in memory of the event.

At Kazhold, they spoke to the people there in order to get a better idea of the region, and found a dwarven ranger, by the name of Harsk, who had heard of the Vekker’s camp, and who had wanted to go look for it for some time, but considered it too dangerous for him to search for alone.

Other rumours and information gained from the rangers and farmers included:

  • At Guiltspur, a wyrm blue dragon by the name of Cadrilkasta has got a number of giants digging out the ruin for her.
  • Several bands of giants have been going up into the mountains recently, some of them carrying medallions with seven pointed stars.
  • There’s another dragon, a white one, that claims the territory along what is now named for the dragon – the Vetsmer River.

The party recognised the dragon as the one that had encountered the Linnorm from the previous session, and also put together the prophecy of “one in blue digs for the pit beyond” with the blue dragon digging at the ruins.

Those who have played other Pathfinder adventure paths may recognise that Guiltspur and the dragon Cadrilkasta featured in the fifth chapter of the Shattered Star adventure path. Since the place was right where the players were going, and I wanted to provide them with a chance to gain some extra experience and some more information about what was ahead of them, it seemed a sensible adventure to slot in (though prior to Cadrilkasta unearthing what she is looking for, since that would be way too much of a distraction).

The medallions of seven pointed stars they recognised as sihedron medallions. They have encountered these before, but figured out that they allowed Karzoug to spy on them through them, so got rid of them very early on. I do wonder whether this latter information should have been available to the players or not. With pretty much all information online these days, I pretty much assume that what’s in the public description of items is available to players if the character make suitable Spellcraft checks. I’m not sure that this is what was intended by the adventure authors, but what is done is done.

I had expected the group to head to Guiltspur first, given the clues about the libraries there, but instead they decided to head straight up into the mountains the following morning. Using various forms of flight it was quite quick, and with Harsk’s guidance they reached the Vetsmer River in a couple of hours.

Rather unsurprisingly, they also encountered the old white dragon Vetsmer. The previous dragon they had encountered was the ancient white dragon Arkryst, which had come very close to TPKing them. Vetsmer was a smaller and weaker dragon, didn’t have surprise, and the party was now a couple of levels higher. They took a bit of damage, but pretty much killed him before he could do much.

I had planned that Vetsmer would surrender if badly injured (he’s only hunting for a meal, not looking for a fight to the death). But he was hit with a spell called Enemy Hammer, which I figured had him really confused about what was happening (it confused us for a while in terms of how it worked). By the time he realised how bad his situation was, he was dead. Which also means they now have no idea where his lair (and therefore treasure) is. Oh well.

Since it was getting late, that seemed like a good place to end things.

Samuel Penn