This being a report of the actual adventure I participated in at Konkon April 2010, Oita, Japan.
We were playing 3 4th level PCs developed only from the basic Pathfinder rule book:
- Philip Blackstone (“Firippu Burakusutonu,” a 4th level Dwarven Fighter), played by me
- Machiruba, a 4th level Human Cleric, played by Furudera san
- Kelp (“Kerupu”), a 4th level Human Rogue, played by Ichinose san
All feats and skills were pretty standard. We used the 24-dice pool method for rolling up stats, so that the characters were pretty hard-arsed. Philip Blackstone, for example, was STR 18, CON 20, DEX 17, WIS 18, INT 12, CHA 10; which for a Dwarven fighter is pretty good going. We also had a 4th level Human Sorcerer NPC, called Kama (after her weapon), as backup. She can be see, with the Dungeon Master, Shiga san, in this photo:
The four characters turned up at an unnamed village in the morning of an early spring day, just at the change of the seasons. The village was nestled in the foothills of a Mountain range, and the hills were still coated in snow and ice but the paddocks of the village were expected to be free of ice by this time, and ready for planting. Unfortunately, the villagers had been waking every morning to find their fields frozen over right up to the snowline of the foothills. A ranger living in the mountains had tales of a family of white dragons living higher up, and the villagers thought that perhaps the dragons were freezing over their fields. So they asked the party to intervene to drive away the Dragons. Being only 4th level, we of course agreed.
However, first, we wanted to make sure we maximised our income in the negotiations over payment, so Kelp sneaked into the village storehouse and had a good look around for any valuable items we might be able to bargain for. He found a collection of golden statues, and so in our negotiations the following day Machiruba was quick to mention these and demand additional payment. When the village headman wavered over the fee she was demanding (4 times usual), Philip Blackstone conveniently charged in, fresh from his once a year bath, wearing only a loincloth and dripping filthy water from his beard over his heavily tattooed chest, and pointed out to all and sundry that disturbing a Dwarf’s annual bath is not a good plan. The village headman folded and offered us 4 times the usual fee.
So, we hatched a plan. We assumed the fields were being frozen by a dragon, and decided for our first trick to draw some massive Hill Giant footprints in the fields, and to place evidence of a Hill Giant camp, because Hill Giants are likely to live in the area and a family of Hill Giants might be sufficient threat to dissuade a white dragon from pointless harassment of a “poor” village (although did it know about those golden statues…?) So this we did, and remarkably successfully (Kelp proved to be very good at hattari, or trickery). So then we settled into a good hiding place, some distance from the site of the frozen fields, to watch.
Evening came, and what should we see but … a Frost Giant (“Furosto Jianto”) wandering down from the hills, leading a medium-sized white dragon (“huwaito doragon”) on a leash, and forcing it to freeze a pathway down to the paddock with its breath. The Frost Giant and its enslaved Dragon froze a good stretch of the villagers’ farms all the way back to the hills, and then when it had finished beating the dragon into this task, turned and waved its massive arm in the direction of the mountain. There in the distance, two other Frost Giants waved in return, and leapt onto the slopes. From the far distance they came sliding down the icy path the dragon had made, swishing and swooshing all the way to the bottom on their huge icy slide.
The characters realised then – this was like that moment in Street Fighter 2, when the evil genius points out to his captive that the day he destroyed her village and changed her life was for him just Tuesday. These Frost Giants were slowly destroying the village’s livelihood and screwing their hopes for the future – so they could build a giant slippery dip! The gods (and their 22′ tall white-skinned relatives) are truly capricious!
So the Frost Giant got a very good opportunity to view the footprints the party had laid with the intention of fooling a dragon from the air, and dismissed them as a cheap trick. Then they wandered back to the top of the mountain, and slid down again. Plan A, foiled. On to plan B…
In the morning the characters wandered up the hill with 8 doughty villagers, and found a suitable bend in the ice slide. Suitable in the sense that they expected the Giants to be sliding very fast, so that a well-disguised hole filled with spikes would do a good job of turning them into Giant sukiyaki. They set about digging a big hole. Unfortunately, they were halfway through when (surprise!) everything collapsed and one of the men found himself sliding into a 30′ deep pit! He caught himself on the edge and we dragged him out, then sent Kelp the Rogue in to investigate. The hole clearly opened into some kind of lair. Unfortunately, Kelp went a bit too far, and this happened:
That’s right, Bugbears (“Bugbea”). Two of them, reducing Kelp to 1 hit point in very short order. Philip Blackstone was just preparing to hurl himself Thunderstone first into the pit but Kelp managed to flee up the rope into the hole, with the Bugbears following much more slowly. This was bad news for the bugbears, since hanging from a rope is not a good place to be. While Machiruba healed Kelp, Philip threw a throwing axe, and then when the Bugbears reached the top Kama cast Grease (“gurisu”), which was remarkably effective at putting both bugbears on their arses. Which is never a good place to be when there’s an irate Dwarf with a warhammer standing next to you. Chalk that up as 1 point closer to genocide for the Dwarven race (we kept one alive for interrogation).
Initially the characters thought they could leave the bugbear lair to complete the trap for our unwary Frost Giants, but upon interrogating their captive bugbear they discovered that actually the white dragon they saw the night before was being held prisoner in the bugbear lair; and that furthermore there was a large-sized dragon being kept there too. The Frost Giants were planning to use the large dragon to maintain their region of the mountains in the grip of ice and snow well into summer, so that they would not have to move. So, it was decided that the best way to solve the problem would be to set the trap, but prepare the dragons to help the group.
So, once more into the hole… after a little more exploring the characters found the medium dragon. A little negotiation with its bugbear guards and some suitable persuasion (violent and monetary) encouraged them to look the other way while the characters spoke to this dragon, which agreed to help the characters. It also agreed to provide information to the larger Dragon, when they briefly met while their cages were being swapped. In the evening, the medium white dragon would be removed from its cage and the larger one stuffed in. The characters’ plan was for the dragon to free itself when it heard the trap sprung, and come to help them.
So, the characters waited in the lair until the trap was sprung and with a massive sound (“doooon!”) the two sliding Frost Giants crashed down the hole into the trap. They were immediately beset with tanglefoot bags and alchemists’ fire, and battle was joined. The photo below shows the initiative sheet for this battle, on which the words “Frost Giant” are just visible, written in katakana. To the rear is a bottle of oolong tea, and the club mascot (“Kappa san”).
The first Frost Giant went down pretty quickly under the combined burden of a lot of different fire sources, but the second was not so quick to die and, before the characters could finish him off the third one appeared at the top of the hole, having perhaps missed his friends. Simultaneously, the large dragon freed itself from its cage and burst into the room. The characters made way for it, slaying the second, injured Frost Giant as they did, and then the third Frost Giant came slamming in, though temporarily slowed by another grease spell. This Giant, completely untroubled by damage from the trap, was going to prove a little problematic. It first took a single strike at Philip, doing a fairly scary amount of damage; but Phillip is a bastard, and ignored it. The dragon lunged in then, but in response the Giant took a full round action and did 100 hps of damage. That’s bad news for a 4th level fighter, even if he is a bastard. At this point everyone was cheering for the 24-dice ability score pool.
Fortunately for everyone but the Frost Giant, Kama had a single scorching ray (“sukochingu rei”) remaining, and after it did a fairly solid amount of fiery pain, Philip lunged in with a critical and a whopping smack to the knee that finished the last giant. A couple of good rolls and the Frost Giant was toast. Victory, once again, for the forces of good (well, actually, Lawful Neutral, aka “chitsujo churitsu,” in Philip’s case). And so to the treasure, as the White Dragons flew away to higher ground, and the assembled players breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Thus ended my first adventure in Japanese Pathfinder.
fn1: Truth be told, there are some salient facts here I think I’m missing due to language difficulties. Or, there’s an implausible part of the adventure. I don’t know which.