Western Alliance Runelords Campaign

Intro to The Hook Mountain Massacre
Part One: The Road to Rannick!

Having defeated the lamia matriarch Xanesha and uncovering her plot to reap souls for an even darker force, something connected to the Sihedron Rune, our heroes are taking some days to relax. It was Xanesha who had manipulated several people in both Sandpoint and Magnimar into a world of lies, deceit, and murder. Even the Lord Mayor of Magnimar was targeting for assassination, but you have successfully saved him and hundreds of people from suffering the same fate. Now, with the Skinsaw Murders solved, your wounds and sore muscles healed, it may be time for the next great adventure!

Winter has come to this part of Virisia which means heavy rains and flooding threaten folks in the wilderness and those in the city of Magnimar are growing tired of the inclement weather. Having gained the favor of Mayor Grobaras, you have decided to stay in Magnimar and enjoy the City of Monuments for a few weeks. The Mayor graciously gave you the deed to Aldern Foxglove’s townhouse since no one could claim it. This has served you well as a base of operations during your explorations of Magnimar. The townhouse is located in the Grand Arch District, not far from Starsilver Plaza.

One of the troubling clues left behind from Xanesha is a letter she received from her sister. In it, this sister reminds her that their purpose is to gather greedy souls for their “Lord’s rise”, which happens when pure souls are marked with the Sihedron Rune and killed. She also invited Xanesha to visit her sister in “Turtleback Ferry” and that “Fort Rannick should be in our control”. In the last few weeks, you have done research and discovered that Turtleback Ferry is a remote village not far from Hook Mountain, west of Magnimar. Although closer to Korvosa, Magnimar has offered to protect Turtleback Ferry and thus control an important trading outpost in the west. Thus, soldiers were sent to garrison in Fort Rannick and fend off any threats to Turtleback Ferry. The most common threat in that part of Virisia are the clans of ogres living in the hills.

Mayor Graboras now comes to you with a request. The rangers of Fort Rannick, known as the Order of the Black Arrows, have not communicated with Turtleback Ferry in weeks. The council is pressuring the Mayor to send a battalion to investigate but Grobaras doesn’t have enough men to spare right now. He offers you 750 GP each for travel expenses and to fulfill this request.

The trip to Turtleback Ferry will take one week by horseback through lightly patrolled rural areas along the north bank of the Yondabakari River.

The Skinsaw Conspiracy Solved! (Treasure and XP)
My Party went to Magnimar, and All I Got was this Impaler of Thorns!

Here are the totals from Saturday’s adventure! I converted all of the gems, jewelry, coins, and unclaimed items into gold. I used the standard 50% of value for selling items outlined in the

2200 XP per character

9441 GP per character (includes the 6000 gp we each received from the Lord Mayor but not the 1000 GP we received earlier in the night)

Here are the items with owners listed:
1. Hat of Disguise – Blunt
2. +1 Ring of Protection – Miska
3. Ring of Jumping – Dellnia
4. Chime of Opening (5 charges) – Miska
5. Mithral Chain Shirt – Miska
6. +1 Falchion – Zhandre
7. Masterwork Hand Crossbow with 10 poisoned bolts – Blunt
8. Reaper’s Mask – Blunt
9. Impaler of Thorns – Gregor
10. Medusa Mask – Dellnia
11. Snakeskin Tunic – Miska
12. Golembane Scarab – Dellnia
13. Ring of Jumping – Gregor
14. Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds – Gregor, Miska, Dellnia, Zahndre

The Man Behind the Murders!
Uncovering the truth of the Skinsaw Man

After investigating two murder scenes, the party arrived at the startling conclusion that the creature responsible for the murders in Sandpoint, known as “The Skinsaw Man”, is none other than Aldern Foxglove. He clearly has been obsessed with Blunt since their first encounter during the boar hunt several weeks ago. The next logical place to investigate is the old Foxglove estate, known to the locals as “The Misgivings”. In other words, the place is cursed and quite possibly haunted!

How right they are! The entire Foxglove family tree is littered with dead bodies and evil rites. Vorel Foxglove used the house as a place to practice necromancy and tried to become a lich, only to be foiled by his wife. However, his evil soul seeped into the very stones and floorboards of the mansion. The resulting energy drove his descendants mad. One of them, Traver Foxglove, tried to reclaim the family estate, only to be driven mad, killing his wife and himself but leaving his son Aldern and his sisters behind. When Aldern himself tried to reclaim the home, he fell in with a group of investors to help him fix up his house who turned out to be part of a Magnimar cult that only wanted him to bring back some of the diseased rats in his basement for experimentation. Aldern was bitten by one of the rats and contracted ghoul fever and was transformed into a ghoul. He then began following orders from Magnimar to reap souls by killing and marking the bodies with a seven pointed star: the sihedron.

The party explored Foxglove’s home room by room and found themselves attacked by the house itself. When they finally discover Aldern’s now undead wife Iesha in the attic, she leads them deep into the cellars beneath the mansion to a cave where Aldern is waiting, Vorel’s old laboratory where his attempt to become a lich 80 years ago still remains in an evil fungus that coats the walls. Aldern is here, a twisted ghast version of himself with a war razor. Iesha attacks him and the party helps, eventually defeating him. Iesha falls to ground lifeless now that her torment is over.

The party discovers several interesting items and clues here, including:

  • cages with a small symbol of a pig with a lock for a mouth and an inscription that reads “Pug’s Contraption – Magnimar”
  • Chime of opening (5 charges)
  • pearl ring (300 gp)
  • adamantine longsword
  • hat of disguise
  • 156 gp
  • +1 leather armor
  • +1 war razor
  • ring of jumping
  • +1 ring of protection
  • Iron key with an opal
  • Bronze key, head resembling a roaring lion
  • Letter to Aldern from Xanesha, Mistress of the Seven, telling him to kill victims, do the sihedron ritual, and to return to his townhouse in Magnimar if he runs into trouble.

The party exorcises the evil spirt of Vorel from the house and then order it to be demolished and burned. They receive high praise from Belor Hemlock for finding the murderer. However, there are still clues and they are leading them away from Sandpoint and into Magnimar, the City of Monuments!

The clues so far...

Sandpoint Lumber Mill Clues

SANDPOINT LUMBER MILL: The most recent murders took place here—the bodies are still present, and little has been done with the crime scene itself. Sheriff Hemlock suggests that this should be the first place the PCs investigate, since he would like to clean the mill up right away and get the bodies buried.

IBOR THORN: Sheriff Hemlock has interrogated Ibor, the man who discovered the bodies at the lumber mill, and doesn’t suspect the frightened man knows much more.

VEN VINDER: This merchant is Sheriff Hemlock’s only suspect, although the sheriff is fairly certain that Ven is innocent and that the murders were committed by someone else.

THE FIRST MURDERS: Three con men from the town of Galduria were found murdered in an abandoned barn south of town a few days ago—their bodyguard survived the assault but has gone insane and was sent to Habe’s Sanatorium—a privately run respite for the insane.

THE RUNE: The star carved on one victim’s chest certainly has significance to the killer, but Hemlock’s at a loss as to what it means. Perhaps an expert on runes (such as local scholar Brodert Quink) can be consulted?

Mill Operators: Ibor Thorn, Banny Harker

THE TIMBER PIER: Timber is delivered to the mill via a small pier that extends out into the Turandarok River. A DC 15 Perception check made by anyone investigating the pier reveals a set of muddy footprints that leads from one end of the pier up to the mill itself. A DC 15 Survival check reveals that a barefoot human man clambered up from the mud under the pier, crossed over to the mill, and then scaled the wall to an upper-floor window.

THE MURDER SCENE: The mill interior is coated with sawdust strewn with footprints and splashes of blood. A DC 10 Survival check reveals what should be obvious— that a desperate struggle took place here several hours ago.

THE ROTTEN SMELL: The lingering scent of decay in the air is curious—it smells almost as if an animal had died somewhere in the room and its remains were allowed to ripen.

KATRINE’S BODY: Poor Katrine was killed instantly when pushed into the log splitter. Her mangled, ruined remains lie on the mill’s lower floor amid heaps of bloodstained firewood. A pale-faced, obviously upset guard stands at attention nearby. The log splitter itself is powered by a waterwheel and consists of a chute in the floor with rotating saw blades that cut logs as they are fed in.

HARKER’S BODY: Harker’s body has been horribly desecrated. The poor man has been affixed to the wall by several hooks normally used to hang machinery. The body is mutilated, the face carved away and lower jaw missing entirely. His bare chest is defaced as well, bearing a strange rune in the shape of a seven-pointed star. This rune (the Sihedron Rune) should be familiar to the PCs, especially if they own the Sihedron medallion once worn by Nualia. Its appearance on the chest of a murdered man should drive home its importance to the PCs, yet they should be at a loss still as to what the rune means. A DC 25 Knowledge (arcana or history) check is enough to identify the marking as the Sihedron Rune, an antiquated glyph that symbolizes arcane magic once practiced in ancient Thassilon.

Closer examination of the body combined with a DC 15 Heal check reveals the presence of several additional wounds. Unlike the deeper slashes on the body, these smaller gashes almost seem to have been made by claws—claws on a five-fingered, human-sized hand. The rotten scent seems stronger near these wounds. The body is only recognizable as Harker’s by a faded tattoo of a raven across his lower abdomen. With his missing face and jaw, his body is in no shape to function for a speak with dead spell.

THE SUSPICIOUS AXE: A handaxe is embedded in the floor near the log splitter, as if it had been dropped there. The handle is covered with bloody finger-marks, and a close examination of the head reveals two things of note. First, smears of what look like rotten flesh and fragments of bone are caked on its blade, and second, the rotten meat stink is strong on it. Someone who makes a DC 15 Knowledge (religion) check can identify the lingering stink of corruption as beyond that which a dead body can normally produce—the axe was likely used within the last 24 hours against some form of corporeal undead.

THE MARSH: If the PCs think to investigate the marsh on the other side of the river from the mill, a DC 20 Perception check reveals a relatively dry spot that bears a number of barefoot human tracks and a lingering stink of rotten flesh. A DC 15 Survival check made at this point reveals that the tracks lead from and into the river, but never away from the site. The spot is hidden by several low banks of nettles, but offers a perfect view of the mill to anyone hidden here.

STORY AWARD: Award the PCs 400 XP for identifying the Sihedron Rune, 400 XP if they deduce the fact that the murderer watched the site and perhaps used the river to cover his tracks, and 600 XP if they discover that the murderer may have been an undead creature

More background on the murder!

Sheriff Belor HemlockHemlock.png
“First, let me thank you again for all you’ve done for Sandpoint. It’s fortunate you’ve proven yourselves so capable, because we’ve a problem I think you can help us with—a problem I wish I didn’t have to involve anyone with, but one that needs dealing with now before the situation grows worse.

“Put simply, we have a murderer in our midst— one who, I fear, has only begun his work. Some of you doubtless remember the Late Unpleasantness, how this town nearly tore itself apart in fear as Chopper’s slayings went on unanswered. I’m afraid we might have something similar brewing now.

“Last night, the murderer struck at the sawmill. There are two victims, and they’re… they’re in pretty gruesome shape. The bodies were discovered by one of the mill workers, a man named Ibor Thorn, and by the time my men and I arrived on the scene, a crowd of curious gawkers had already sprung up. I’ve got my men stationed there now, keeping the mill locked down, but the thing that bothers me isn’t the fact that we have two dead bodies inside. It’s the fact that this is actually the second set of murders we’ve had in the last few days.

“I come to you for help in this matter—my men are good, but they are also green. They were barely able to handle themselves against the goblins, and what we’re facing now is an evil far worse than goblins. I need the help. But I’m afraid you’ll need the help too. You see, I’m afraid that this particular murderer knows one of you as well.”

At this point, Sheriff Hemlock hands you a bloodstained piece of parchment that has the name “Blunt” on one side and this message scrawled on the other:

“We have spoken of this before, my master. Now it begins. Join the pack and it will end.” – Your Lordship

Hemlock explains: “the note was found pinned to the sleeve of the latest victim by a splinter of wood. I know that none of you were involved in the murder but clearly someone is trying to frame you or at least send some kind of message. If word of this note gets out, the townspeople here may not be as understanding as I am. Will you quietly help me in this investigation?”

If the PCs agree, Hemlock deputizes them, explaining that he doesn’t have enough men to both investigate the murders and protect the town. He will give them any support they need but they need to try and keep this investigation quiet.

Sandpoint Lumber Mill Clues

The most recent murders took place here—the bodies are still present, and little has been done with the crime scene itself. Sheriff Hemlock suggests that this should be the first place the PCs investigate, since he would like to clean the mill up right away and get the bodies buried.

Sheriff Hemlock has interrogated Ibor, the man who discovered the bodies at the lumber mill, and doesn’t suspect the frightened man knows much more.

This merchant is Sheriff Hemlock’s only suspect, although the sheriff is fairly certain that Ven is innocent and that the murders were committed by someone else.

Three con men from the town of Galduria were found murdered in an abandoned barn south of town a few days ago—their bodyguard survived the assault but has gone insane and was sent to Habe’s Sanatorium—a privately run respite for the insane.

The star carved on one victim’s chest certainly has significance to the killer, but Hemlock’s at a loss as to what it means. Perhaps an expert on runes (such as local scholar Brodert Quink) can be consulted?

Mill Operators
Ibor Thorn
Banny Harker

A Murder Most Vile!
The Skinsaw Murders Begin

We are at the Rusty Dragon relaxing after ending the threat from Nualia and the goblins. The sheriff comes in and asks for our help. There has been a murder, and it reminds him of the work of The Chopper. About 10 years ago, there was a string of murders in Sandpoint. Over the course of a month, there as a new victim each day. Each time the corpses were found dismembered, eyes and tongue removed. There were twenty-five victims in all. The sheriff at the time discover The Chopper killing a victim in an alley one night. The sheriff was killed but the town watch followed a trail of blood to Stoot’s Island (named after the island’s only resident, a man famous for his carved birds). It turned out that Stoot was The Chopper! When the watch found him, he had removed his own tongue and eyes. It appeared that he was offering tongues and eyes to a demon. Soon after, there was a fire that destroyed the church. (We know now that Nualia burned it down). The locals call all of this The Late Unpleasantness.

Now there is a new string of murders. Two victims were found last night at the saw mill. There were discovered by Eyebore Thorn. This is the second set of murders in the last few days. The sheriff believes that the murderer knows one of us – Blunt. He believes that a note found at the scene addressed to Blunt was meant to throw off suspicion from the real suspect. We need to keep this quiet or the villagers may come to suspect us. The sheriff deputizes us in exchange for our help.


  • The Sandpoint Lumber Mill is the crime scene. The bodies are still there. It is operated by Eyebore Thorn and Banny Harker. It is owned by the Scarnetti Family.
    Sheriff Hemlock interrogated Eyebore.
    Katrine Vinder is victim #1. She is the daughter of the merchant Van Vinder. He has two daughters: Katrine and Shaless.
    Banny Harker is victim #2.*

We go to the sawmill. There is a crowd outside. The mill typically runs late at night. There are signs of a desperate struggle in the last twelve hours. One set of footprints is of a barefoot humanoid that smells of rotten meat. There is a lingering scent of decay. Katrine’s body is a log splitter. Harker’s body is nailed to the wall, his jaw removed, a sihedron symbol carved into his chest. His body shows signs of of slashes by five fingered claws. He smells of rotten meat. There is a handaxe nearby – it smells of rotten meat and is covered in blood. Blunt believes that undead are involved – possible some kind of ghast.

Miska follows the tracks to a timber pier. Muddy footprints lead from the end of the pier to the mill. We find tracks on the opposite shore that lead into the woods.

When the sheriff told Van Vinder that Katrine was killed, Van flew into a rage because she was at the mill.

It appears that both bodies were desecrated using tools.

In the previous murders, the town guards were accosted by a crazed man who led them to a barn. In the barn, they found three bodies and a letter. The letter read:
“Your lordship,
These men were con men.” All had sihedrons carved into their chests. The bodies are currently at the sheriff’s office.

Burnt Offerings Concludes
We kill an evil priestess

We head back down into the Thistletop dungeon to the second level. The floor is angled and the air is fresh. We head through an open door. There are chisel marks on the door. There are statues in the next room of men holding glaives. There is a shiny patch on the floor. We detect a trap and decide to pull the statue over with a rope – on the third attempt! We pull it over and the trap is sprung – the statues chop at people trapped by two portcullises. We decide to jump across. Everyone makes it across except Sir Gregor. He steps into the empty alcove while the trap goes off.

We hear water to the north. The door opens to reveal a room with burning skulls, stuffed beasts, and a deformed woman. Nualia! And a yeth hound! The yeth hound howls and Miska and Blunt run in fear. Blunt ends up in the trap and falls through the floor. Miska cowers at the portcullis. Nualia hits Milan who falls over almost dead until Cox rolls a nat 20 to stabilize! Zhandre lands the killing blow. Dellnia sends an earth elemental down to rescue Blunt.

We find a sihedron medallion (a seven-sided symbol somehow connected to the rune wells). We find Nualia’s journals. Here plan was to burn Sandpoint and describes how to use the rune well. We realize that Nualia was a pawn in a bigger plan.

We enter the next room. There is a stack of coins at one end and a door flanked by skeletons at the other. We through the door. In the next room, statues fill a column-lined room. At the end of the room is a statue with of a man with a glaive and a book. There are sarcophagi in the alcoves. Miska and Gregor open one and Gregor smashes a skeleton. A ghostly figure appears. We kill three shadows.

We find a secret door in the room. It leads to a room filled with a tide pool. On the crumbling walls, there are murals. One shows a mountain with a face carved into it looking over a city with spires. The face looks like the face on the statue. In the there is the remnant of a treasury including a giant-sized helmet. Zahndre casts detect magic and stuff glows. The helmet rotates and a claw attacks Gregor. It’s a giant hermit crab. Milan delivers the killing blow.

We go back to the hallway with the statue of coins. There are two coin slots next tot the statue. We put two gold coins from the pool room in the slots. The statue rotates into the floor and reveals a room with three doors. All creepy looking. The room has been untouched for years. We head to the north. The room has a throne with a ghostly figure who appears to be speaking to a group. Dellnia figures out that he is speaking in Thassilonian. The ghost is telling someone to remain and that Alzenast’s wrath is nothing compared to his strength. We move to the east door. There is a series of tables with bones on the floor and tools. Zhandre figures out that this was a transmutation lab working on human flesh! One tool looks like a sihedron star.

We go to the southern door. There is no handle but a space for a sihedron star. We put the tool in the slot. The room beyond has a burning pit that smells of burning hair. A feeling of crushing despair washes over us. Gregor is attacked and immediately goes down. A giant bat/monkey/creature says, “You all shall die!” It’s called Malfeshnekor. Milan goes down. Dellnia summons a mud elemental twice after the first one is obliterated. Miska lands the killing blow with a +1 returning dagger. It was a greater barghest.

We return to Sandpoint. We divide the treasure and each character receives 966 gp. Thus concludes Burnt Offerings.

Thistletop Part 2

So much happened in this session…where to begin?

After crossing the rope bridge on to Thistletop itself and dispensing of a few more goblins, the party freed a trapped horse named Shadowmist that was immediately befriended by Sir Gregor. They then ventured into the keep and found the throne room of Chief Ripnugget, leader of the Thistletop goblins. Astride his giant gecko, Ripnugget was a powerful foe but he was defeated finally in a bloody battle.

Next, the party stumbled into the lair of the bugbear ranger Bruthazmus, who was found partially clothed with his harem of female goblins. With his loincloth around his ankles, the bugbear was no match for the PCs. Next, they encountered a hired thug, Orik Vancaskerkin, who quickly realized he was no match for the party and whimpered his way into servitude to Sir Gregor, who ordered Orik to retrieve Shadowmist and get him safely across the bridge. The last lackey the party discovered was the wizard Lyrie Akenja, who was brought here to study the Shrine to Lamashtu inside Thistletop. The party battled and defeated the young wizard, as well as two Yeth Hounds, evil dog creatures. With this level of Thistletop cleared and the discovery of a staircase down, the party left to heal and rest outside the dungeon. It was evening anyway so there is a good chance no one will notice how quiet things are in the keep. They did discover Shadowmist, standing next to the cliff, with Orik hanging on for dear life to Shadowmist’s reins. The party saved him and were able to get Shadowmist across the chasm safely.

It is now morning and time to re-enter the keep before Nualia and any other creatures stir within!

Assault on Thistletop (part 1)


The party finds that Thistletop lives up to its namesake – it is completely surrounded by a thistle forest that has created a maze of prickly walls. Within these walls, the goblins have created the outer defenses of their home. In traversing this maze, the party encounters some goblin warriors, refugees, and goblin dogs. They also fight an advisor to Warchief Ripnugget, a goblin druid named Gogmurt, who fights with a cougar names Tangletooth. Although Gogmurt traverses the nettles without harm, he is not match for the heroes. During the battle, Gogmurt does speak to the party and tells them that Chief Ripnugget is no longer in control of Thistletop – he has become enthralled with a very angry woman with white hair and weird eyes and a torn up belly. “Worse than a harpy, that one!” Gogmurt spits. Then he quickly clarifies his accusation: “The woman. Not Chief Ripnugget. Don’t tell him I called her a harpy!”

After dealing with Gogmurt, the party creeps through the thistles to the cliff and a long rope bridge that spans the gulf over the water and to the island of Thistletop…

If you are keeping track of XP, the individual total for this night’s adventure was 1416 XP each.

About Goblins

The ranger Shalelu Andosana spends time with you, explaining what she knows about the local goblin tribes.

GOBLIN TRIBES: As she mentioned earlier, there are five major goblin tribes in the region.

The closest to Sandpoint are the Birdcruncher goblins, who live in caves along the western edge of the Devil’s Platter, although traditionally these goblins are the least aggressive of the five.

To the south are the Licktoad goblins of the Brinestump Marsh, pests who are excellent swimmers.

East are the Seven Tooth goblins of Shank’s Wood, goblins who’ve secured a place for themselves by raiding Sandpoint’s junkyard and rebuilding the stolen refuse into armor and weapons.

Farther east are the Mosswood goblins, likely the largest tribe but one traditionally held back by feuding families within their own ranks.

And finally, there are the Thistletop goblins, who live on the Nettlewood coast atop a small island that some say holds a passing resemblance to a decapitated head.

GOBLIN HEROES: Shalelu notes that goblins generally live short, violent lives. It’s unusual for a single goblin to achieve any real measure of notoriety, but when one does, it’s well earned. Currently, six goblins in the region enjoy the status of “hero.”

Big Gugmut is an unusually muscular and tall goblin from Mosswood who, it is said, had a hobgoblin for a mother and a wild boar for a father.

Koruvus was a champion of the Seven Tooth tribe, as well known for his short temper as he was for his prized possession—a magic longsword sized for a human that the goblin stubbornly kept as his own (despite the fact that it was too large for him to properly wield). Koruvus vanished several months ago after he supposedly discovered a “secret hideout” in a cave along the cliffs, but the Seven Tooth goblins remain convinced he’s out there still, a ghost or worse, waiting to murder any goblin who tries to discover his hideout.

Vorka is a notorious goblin cannibal who lives in the Brinestump marsh, a “hero” mostly to goblins other than the Licktoad tribe.

Rendwattle Gutwad is the obese chieftain of the Brinestump goblins, a corpulent monster who, it is said, never leaves his throne.

Ripnugget is the leader of the Thistletop goblins and controls what the five tribes agree is the best lair.

And then there’s Bruthazmus, an infamous bugbear ranger who lives in northern Nettlewood and often visits the five tribes to trade things he’s stolen from caravans for alcohol, news, or magic arrows. Shalelu notes that Bruthazmus has a particular hatred of elves, and that they have fought on several occasions. To date, neither of them has managed to get the upper hand on the other, but Shalelu bitterly vows that she won’t be the first to fall in their private war.


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