As mentioned earlier, Road Crew game #4 was the beginning of what promises to be more of a campaign setting vs. the convention-style play. The first major change I personally felt was that I now have to adjust my sales pitch to appeal to the folks that are dealing with 0-level funnel characters. In a world of "Pathfinder or bust", I was grateful to the FLGS guys for their assistance.
Very happy I'd run this one in the past as a funnel. Made me a lot more comfortable in the public setting.
Each player started with 4 0-lvl pre-generated PCs (courtesy of Purple Sorcerer, of course). 25% fatality rate.
Bad Judge: No character roster this time around.
Troy (2 PCs dead)
Kirk (1 PC dead)
Neil (2 PCs dead)
Curtiss (0 fatalities)
Rose (0 fatalities)
Old Man Roberts (not Old Man Winters, you damn kids) confesses on his death bed that he wished he'd explored further the last time the Empty Star created a portal by the old stone mounds. Instead, he'd been spooked by the iron men and ran away instead of pursuing gold and glory. The villages take up their shovels and pitchforks and promise to take the chance he missed out on.
Greed is strong with this crew. The star pattern set into the portal door looks as if it's made from jewels, so instantly the jeweler wants to try to pry some of the stones out of the door. Luckily someone steps in and stops him. The enameled armor on the statues just inside, however... Those look like what Old Man Roberts had described. They quickly discover why he ran as one of Neil's PCs finds a spear thrown so hard, he is pinned to the mortar of the wall behind him. (Death #1.) The others scuttle around the doorway, checking the attack angles of the other statues and timing their approaches into the room so as to avoid the other three spears (and then taking the time to arm and armor themselves).
The monument hall is just as entertaining as I'd remembered -- only this time the party decided to split into FOUR directions. Had to take it one room at a time, one round at a time.
The giant flame-shooting statue took out one of Kirk's PCs right away (#2), and later one of Troy's who just wasn't quick enough (#3). Even though the details of sword and grimoire were made of stone, a couple of Curtiss's PCs and one of Kirk's were determined to climb the statue and avoid its jet-flame attack while trying to pry gems out of the neck piece (succeeded on a handful). Some also took damage when the fire attack jammed and exploded back toward the body of the statue itself.
The immortal demon-snake in the scrying chamber went out way too easily. One of Troy's PCs scored a max damage crit. The decor in the throne room was concerning, but not consuming.
The shaky piles of bones in the chieftains' burial chamber, however, took revenge on another of Neil's PCs (#4) for disturbing them, and did plenty of non-critical damage to other PCs as well before they yelled out for reinforcements from their comrades.
The gazing pool throws everyone for a loop. There's diffused light coming from below. There's humanoid statues seemingly made of glass that hover near those holding torches. A couple PCs wander through the door and down the stairs, but aren't interested in the war room. Finally one of Rose's PCs leans in and works one of the small crystals out of the bottom of the pool. When bubbles appear, so does the proverbial light bulb, and suddenly three characters have others holding their feet while they pull out the crystals. Good thing, as they each get bonuses to their Reflex saves when the pool finally gives way and they are nearly pulled through with the current. Everyone now rushes to join forces (finally!) downstairs. This takes approximately two rounds, which is exactly what is needed to neutralize the potential threat: As they throw open the next door, they arrive in time to witness the last of the clay soldiers turning to a muddy mess.
The source of the light below is a glowing ball atop the throne of the clay warlord. His generals are already piles of dust on the dais before him. Everyone inclined/equipped for melee combat begins the long run toward the throne. The warlord's spear takes out another of Troy's PCs (#5), but the ranged attacks from the PCs taking the long way around do in the warlord.
It takes a bit of work, but the secret door beyond the throne is finally breached. After moving objects around with no success, they finally figured out that the concave depression in the stone table is the same size as the crystal ball that lights up the room of the army. It goes dark when removed from the throne, but when placed on the table it presents the group with the face of a goat giving them a cryptic message about astral voyages.
"The Portal Under the Stars", Joseph Goodman / Goodman Games
+10 XP to all surviving PCs
LOOT: 3 spears / 4 sets black enameled scale mail / 40 crystals / bronze demon-faced rod / copper brazier / longsword / long bow / 40 arrows & quiver / battle axe / ancient tome