Iron Gods - Mike Korupp

Letters Home 18
Letter 18 (Are bar fights normal?)

Dear mom and dad,

We arrived in Torch to find that the town was running at peak condition. I promise you that you wouldn’t recognize this place from a year ago (seeing as i have been here a couple of months and i still wouldn’t recognize it.)

We found the town in good spirits. Unfortunately one of our long time members, Vidon, decided that his time with us had run its course. He will be missed by us as we continue on more journeys. The only good thing that came from this is before he left he had asked one of his cousin(‘s?) to fill his place with us. And although I wish for us to be good friends, I can’t deny that it stings a little when i turn to call out to one of my friends, i have to remember that it is his cousin there, and not actually him.

On a brighter note we found a new adventure for us to explore while we gather resources to help build for our* Bigger Quest*_. Turns out that for some reason Dimensional Dragons need our help to stamp out some rouge defectors? Truthfully I think that most of the party is doing this to hopefully find a Dragon’s Horde, but meh…These guys seem to need the help and slaying a dragon looks good on any Adventuring resume.

Before we left i received one of your letters and i am glad that your’ meeting some of my more interesting people. But there is a confession i must make regarding the woman you have met. You see it is true that we have met on the battle field, even stood shoulder to shoulder for a time. But my manners always escaped me, for i do not even know this woman’s name. However i know that you are in the presence of an impressive tactical mind that i have no doubt will astonish you both. And the truth is we never hammered and/or ironed out the details for our engagement. But as time goes on and i am left to think about your last letter and more specifically settling down, I find my heart always coming back to Torch. And maybe it is skepticism but until the Technich-league is out of the capital, I cannot see that environment being suitable for anyone, Her family or ours.

On that note, please try and show her around Hajoth Hakkidos, the simple pleasures that tha town has to offer. Show her a good time, for i am afraid that this dragon matter may take up more time than i would like. But i promise i will try and visit if there is an extended window of time for myself and the Party.

SO we get to the midpoint between Torch and some spider and we found the first hide out in the form of an inn in the middle of nowhere. And after talking to the bar keep for a short time i found out i have a bounty on my head. Apparently I am making some enemies in the world, but that is life, Also I’m gonna need to send them a photo/drawing or something because they are using dads and that will no doubt cause some confusion.

And things only got worse from there, first we got into a fight with the bartender and his thugs. Then we fought some lizard men shourtly afterwards. THEN we fought a dragon(Juvinile?) After that was done, we searched the place for any leads on where the main base for these guys might be but it looks like we are gonna need to hit up some of their other outposts.

We are currently heading back to Torch. And should be there within 3-4 days.

With All my love,

Journal of Shadow Mal 22

Entry 179, Day 113, Noon

Back in Torch. We were slowed down a bit by the Azer craftsmen who wish to visit and possibly resettle in Torch. I suppose it makes sense, given the circumstances. If I had the choice of settling in a safe town in Irrisen to find my feet or marching with nothing across the most dangerous lands in Golarion I would settle. I have no doubt Arim can find work for fire dwarves with skill in technology and forging.

Before leaving the forest behind us, we looted the tower for all we could, though I suspect most of the goods we found will only be useful to our allies in Torch and The Forge. We also visited the Herald once more, and I asked if, as a seer and predictor of the future, it had things it would tell me.

Regarding Susie, it informed us that she is the host to some kind of devil lord. Unlike the kind of devils who just avoid dying, he specializes in setting up ways of reincarnating himself by preparing hosts and then having them captured by his followers. Seems like an iffy back-up plan, but more concerning is the state of Susie’s soul. It will get devoured if The Terror Within, and we’ll have a high-ranking Fiend tearing things up. Killing Susie won’t actually solve the problem, either, since the beast will simply find a new host.

Regarding the rest of us, Longdreamer (the Herald) spoke in symbols, describing many-headed hydras circling us and circling Torch. Mechanical, demonic, devilish, and draconic. It recommended gathering forces, forging alliances, and “cutting off the hydras’ heads.” Assassinations are always murky business, but really the only way to contend in an asymmetric battle.

Longdreamer also said running away was not likely to work, I’m not sure if that’s more frightening or relieving. I’ve spent most of my life keeping on the move, running from the past, but I feel too…connected to just abandon things as they are. It is time, I believe, to face the haunting trail behind. Father is well, I am told, and that is comforting.

Now we have returned to Torch, and the first thing to greet us was a courier. Flynn has received a letter from his parents, it seems they have met his girlfriend and think she is wonderful. I know I should be worried about a chain-devil and a comedically unwanted romance, but I can’t stop laughing at it. It would help if Mr. Sileet had any idea how to handle a psychotic sadist’s unwanted romantic advances.

Other developments have also occurred. Draline-I mean Arim’s empire continues to grow, his greatest difficulty now is lack of funds and lack of skilled labor. I wish I could help, but I doubt I would be any more skilled at finding and recruiting people than he already is.

Dinvaya, from Scrapwall, has re-settled and taken on a teaching position in the new academy. She seems well, and is taking well to having social interaction again.

Meyanda’s reconstituted faith is keeping her well, and her work-release program under Joram seems to be working well.

Harkness, even more than Arim, needs resources to get his technological hideaway up and running. Further we need to better secure it, it is currently several day’s journey from Torch, and has an open pit leading down into the Darklands. I can solve the first with lots of rock, but the second is going to cost a lot of money and require the services of a powerful spellcaster. I suspect we can make it happen if we can make a trip to Katapesh, you can reportedly buy nearly ANYTHING there. If we can construct a dimensional bridge, we’ll be good to go.

Costello. The man I recruited to run my shrine has finished construction, but when I contacted him magically he was rather nervous, saying something about an intimidating visitor. Upon coming home I finally got to meet our impressive guest. A handsome draconian from another plane, Lieutenant Basashi Ersollesine serves with the 7th Dragonwing. He wouldn’t go into the details of the army he works with or the players in this multi-dimensional shadow-war, but he had some advice, some useful information, and he’s easy on the eyes, so I can’t complain.

Abbot Costello can, though. He finds the man terrifying. I’ll see what I can do to smooth things over, maybe start a new guest house, find him some distractions…

In any event, agents of Tiamat and agents of Apsu are both sneaking around, making trouble and hunting Flynn. Lt. Ersollesine knows a few of their current haunts and suggested we go shake one or two of them and see what falls out. I think the rest of the gang will be happy to go along with it, dragons means treasure, and sneaky information-gatherers sometimes have information about other things. A lot of hydras are circling Torch, they MIGHT have taken notice of one another.

Entry 180, Day 116, Evening.

We knocked over the base, an out-of-the-way Inn which tries to scare off visitors. There were several Kin as well as their minions, and we found a number of bounties. It seems the servants of Tiamat have VERY detailed information regarding Flynn’s family, and even tried to kidnap his parents. Unfortunately for the kidnappers, the defenses of Hajoth Hakados are strong, and none of them returned. We took one prisoner, and tomorrow I will prepare to interrogate the dead. I can’t say I like necromancy, but necessity creates some allowances.

This whole business is getting awfully muddy, so many monsters, so many troubles.

Journal of Shadow Mal 21

Entry 178, Day 105, Afternoon.

We have returned.

The tower was just as mad as one might expect. Infested with technological horrors, bizarre monsters, and ancient evils. We worked our way up, facing a varied collection ranging from a rampaging Aurumvorax to fiendish ostriches. We found hideous experiments that studied how blood-eating mist monsters drained their victims, or watched people slowly die from suffocation. We met air elementals shaped like giant cockroaches and wisely avoided a very powerful bloodfly demon.

First we went up, and found more mess and beasts. We also found a secondary stairwell leading down into the basement of the tower. At the bottom were more dangerous, but better contained monsters, a tunnel which could generate wind, an escape tunnel leading out into the wilds of the plane of fire, an altar to Zyphus, and a sealed door.

We had, at this point, been discovering hive-like structures attached to the walls which (I was told by our more mechanically-inclined) contained nanites. Nanites scare me, and they infest the walls of the tower, but at least their hives seemed dormant. Confoundingly, these hives did not appear to have any purpose, yet we kept finding them everywhere. After exhausting all other options I used my family ring to cast Legend Lore on one of the hives, and 30 minutes and a severe headache later it was clear that they were the only way to open the mysterious door in the basement.

Again I must pause and express my exasperation at the clear madness of Xoud. A door key powered by a dangerous swarm of constructs scattered about the fortress rather than a simple key, or even code-phrase. Machines and monsters which sometimes follow a patterns and sometimes seem to have no rhyme or reason at all, dangerous traps in areas most likely to be used by servants…

Then again, as a worshipper of pointless deaths and nihilistic depression, perhaps it’s fitting. Yet again we meet fiendish creatures, mad metal monsters, and the Grim Harvestman’s hand. Yet I cannot be certain if this is a pattern or mere stupid coincidence. Or even fabricated “coincidence”.

In any event, aside from beasts which we destroyed and monsters which we left contained, we met another frightening monster. A Worm that Walks, the thing that dreamed of devouring Xoud’s corpse every night, was sealed in the basement. Like Xoud, a form of post-death spellcaster, and like Xoud, incredibly evil and powerful. Like as I would to leave it contained, it was the only sign we had found of anything that knew how to return the tower to the Prime. Moreover I don’t know that it was contained, I suspect the only thing keeping it imprisoned was it’s curiousity, or perhaps its desire to exact pain and suffering upon Xoud’s ghostly shade. The mind of a mad pile of crawling worms that thinks itself a man is impenetrably strange.

We freed the beast, and it set about doing what powerful creatures of magic do, and made our way up to seek enough nanite hives to open the final door in the basement. We faced more monstrosities, as well as 3 Azer slaves, still tending a forge they had been bound to long ago. After we destroyed their guards we offered them a chance to escape, but this being an unknown part of the great, wide plane of fire they asked if we had a better place. After some discussion they have agreed to join us on our journey to Torch.

More monsters, more traps, and more floors eventually led to the penthouse laboratory/study guarded by a pair of flying, 4-armed robots with sorcerous powers. Their spells were strange, webs that could barely entangle, poison clouds that merely smelled bad, and some form of magical force blast with each spell, as if they were trying to make up for poor spellcrafting with raw power and creating a dimensional feedback loop. I shall have to ask Arim’s wife about the topic if I get a chance, her form of sculpting energy is closer to theirs than mine, but that is for a later time.

After exhausting their inverted magic, they charged in with their fists and began pummeling Flynn. Lined up as they were, I had to throw a lightning bolt through him to get them, trusting that the magical protections I had afforded him would be enough. The robots went down, eventually, and we found more notes and more insane ramblings, as well as the final hive.

The final battle came in the sealed room. Xoud had developed a technological necromancy which would tear living memories from dead brains, and installed this craft within a dog-like machine with needle-tipped tentacles and numerous mechanical attacks. Xoud himself attacked with his pet, but was stymied by the Worm that took great pleasure in torturing the ghost.

It was a strange situation, being an entertaining side-show to the struggle between two demigods. Mighty magic-users having a duel and being so kind as to simply ignore us instead of destroy us utterly. As with all things in this tower, it was confusing and intimidating, and raised more questions than it answered.

More irritating is that yet again I could do nothing against an obvious and powerful evil. All we could do is keep our heads down and try not to get squished. It is frustrating.

The tower phased back to the Prime, thankfully, and the Worm took its leave. We have been left in a tower full of lootable goodies and the body of Casandalee. The crown of her skull was removed, and the information that Xoud extracted from her corpse was fastidiously recorded. Her life was a sad one, and her final days violent, but she died free, and may live again.

We will have to be cautious, she was powerful in life, and such power can be dangerous, but she might be a powerful ally. Assuming, of course, she WANTS to come back. Not everyone does.

But these are questions to investigate later, for now we rest, OUTSIDE the tower. Tomorrow I shall speak with the Herald again, and ask if it has any advice…

Also, Mr. Mistofelees says that it all went well, considering most unplanned trips to the elemental plane of fire go up in smoke, and that I owe him a bottle of wine. Fair enough, I suppose.

Rim joins the party.
Here we go again.

Once the party arrived in Torch there was a new arrival in town. It was Vidon’s cousin Rim Cairntracker. Vidon called a meeting of the party to introduce Rim and say his goodbyes.

This is a strange group Vidon has connected me with. First, they wind up speaking with a dimensional Dragonkin. just to find out that one of the party has a price on his head. From what Vidon told me he isn’t the only one to have that. They heard about some bounty hunters that might have some information so they headed out to find their headquarters. When we arrived the apparent leader, Mal, spoke with the patrons until it appeared they weren’t going to be forthcoming with any more info. Then we killed them.

We went out back to search the grounds and were set upon by a Dragon that creates mud to slow attackers down. It was a tough fight but we prevailed. We found some loot hidden in the walls of the tavern but it wasn’t what I would call a Dragon’s Hoard. Fairly skimpy if you ask me.

Letter's Home
Letter 17 (Tower Finish)

Dear mom and dad,
Ok, so I haven’t been able to get some letters out for a while due to a small problem, and that is me and my friends (I think we are that close) were inside a tower that transported itself to the plane of fire(Not joking in the least when i write this).

Where to begin? Well to sum it all up (and to save some paper) we needed a rouge/archer, because there were a LOT of traps in this tower, just some of them include ghost sectors, fire explosions and the occasional metal suit. The one thing that was more of a pain than anything else was this little rodent that had WAY to many legs. Little thing ran away when it knew that it was about to get trounced.

But nothing really compares to the sight of seeing to highly powerful spellcasters duke it out. Even longer story made shorter, if they wanted to, they would have no problem killing off myself and all my friends. But fortunately we were able to get out of there without any major problems.

The only thing that i am having a hard time getting over is the fact that we recently brought on a new party member that reminds me of some very unpleasant race of creatures called Kaiten’s. They are basically demons that have a fetish for chains (which they have an infinite supply) and something that can only be described as torture/pleasure. Both of which i don’t look at too fondly.

Anyway, were out of the tower now and are about to talk to this acquaintance our ours before heading back to Torch. Send a letter to there if you want me to receive it.

Sincerity your,

Vidon leaves Torch.
Rim Cairntracker is introduced.

Vidon is quiet on the way back to Torch. He listens as the others speak with Longdreamer. Upon arrival in Torch he sends a letter home. a few days later another Dwarf arrives and begins asking for Vidon. This new Dwarf finds Vidon and they go off to talk amongst themselves. Vidon comes back to Arim’s and asks that the others be gathered. When gathered he introduces his cousin Rim Cairntracker. Vidon announces that he is returning home and Rim will take his place. Rim has not had any encounters with robots so he does not have Vidon’s skill at attacking them. However, Vidon does hand over the Chainsaw and the Mantle along with some other items he feels will help Rim. Rim asks if anyone has the ability to enhance his Dwarven Maulaxe as a Returning weapon? Vidon says his goodbye’s and leaves.

Vidon makes a decision.
Who will replace me?

Lately I have been worried about my family. Especially my Brother. When we rescued him from the Barbarians he didn’t seem himself. He seemed rather distant and withdrawn. As he is the main source of income for the clan it falls to him to be in his sound mind.

I fear that the captivity had a detrimental effect on him. I feel I must return home to check on the family. But I have committed to helping these fellow travelers in their mission. I wonder if I can get a message to my cousin Rim Cairntracker II. He has been traveling the world looking for the murderer of his Father. If I can find him I will lend him the Chainsaw and the Ioun Stone along with whatever else he feels would help with his travels.

Trying to find Rim must wait until we get back to the Material Plane though. I don’t think he is on the Plane of Fire. So first things first, try to clear this tower and then get back to the Material Plane.

Journal of Shadow Mal 20

Entry 177, Day 104, Evening

We’re trapped, this is concerning.

I checked the front door, and the tower has shifted location. The fire plains, lava flows, and unbound Magmin make it clear we are on the elemental plane of fire now. Given this tower’s history it should shift back eventually, but we won’t be getting out until it does. All we can do is press on, and perhaps we will find a controller to the displacement, twisting ourselves back to the correct realm.

This is easier said than done, however, as this place is highly dangerous. Xoud had a lot of experiments and collected components of his menagerie, and a majority of them do more than simple physical injuries. We have exhausted our supply of restoration magic and are merely halfway up the tower.

Along with undead miasmas and sanity-eating ghosts we have discovered a thief. This sorcerer came to the tower years ago, and was trapped in stasis within the tower’s automated defenses. I don’t know him yet, and he is fiend-blooded, but I have no reason to doubt he will work with us to escape this place. After that we shall see…perhaps he will join our band of troublemaking adventurers. I know well that evil and good are choices, regardless of ones’ parentage.

To the best of my knowledge he is the only other interloper however. It seems Xoud was not as anti-social as his legend claimed, and we have found the bodies of several of his minions, apprentices, and such here. All of them dead, many turned into something more vile.

As dangerous as the things that haunt this place are, I think we are going to need to camp soon. It is late, everyone is tired, and most of our magic is expended. Perhaps I can interview this Mr. Ledge. He has a dark past, that is clear, but I wonder what his future plans are. There is something that seems familiar about him as well, but I cannot place it…

Journal of Shadow Mal part 19

Entry 175, Day 104, Morning

The giant’s camp proved to be a dead end. Whether the giants fled the area or all died is unclear, but they are well and gone. Far more interesting and terrifying was The Herald. A walk to the butterfly on the map proved that hill giants are, as always, a direct people. We found an open pit, and some fey creatures hiding in the bushes. After some effort trying to communicate with them as they watched us cautiously, an unimaginably enormous Monarch Butterfly of rainbow hue emerged from the pit to say hello in its implacable way.

A Herald of Desna, I never thought I would see such a thing. It was beautiful, which is saying something, since bugs tend to creep me out when they get up close and personal; but it telepathically spoke with a gorgeous voice. I may not follow The Great Dreamer, but meeting a piece of holy divinity is always an amazing andf wonderful experience.

It read our minds, which caused me a few moments hesitation, and gave us some advice. It also impressed Mr. Langstrom into its services, though he seemed happy to assist. In lieu of his alchemical expertise, the Herald sent one of its own to “keep an eye on us”. Mr. Mistoffeles is an amusingly dry fellow, and from what I know of pseudodragons he is quite a colorful character. His tale is a long one, best told some other time, but he is currently training himself in the arcane arts.

On advice of demigod, we set off west to find a strange dreamer, although The Gerald didn’t know what it was, the creature dreamed each night of an alien sky. After an hour’s walk and some time spent getting to know our new ally we came upon another ruined piece of the Androffan ship, mired in the midst of a shallow river. The delve had 3 layers to it, all badly rusted and waterlogged, and the area seemed to be useless. Susie suspects even before the rain of stars this particular piece of ship was nothing but storage and hallway, and all metal crates and containers within were empty or full of ruined unknowns. Flynn decided to keep one of the larger boxes for some unknown reason. Perhaps he plans to make an oven? Whatever the case, we put it in the portable hole and moved on.

Then we were attacked, or more accurately Mr. Sileet was attacked. Some twisted mix of Outsider and Ooze assaulted him from the water as he checked one of the underwater passageways. It contained some kind of technomantic crutch which gave it a forcefield, a force-based attack, and kept it from evaporating into incredibly poisonous gas. We tore down its forcefield but had to retreat from the poison. It was my hope that the beast would succumb to its own sublimation, but it seems it somehow managed to restore itself before expiring and began rampaging across the countryside the next day.

After some telepathic probing Mistoffeles determined it was “listening to our thoughts,” and heading our direction, presumably for revenge. We assaulted it with what protections we could prepare and made certain it was dead this time, taking it’s silver “crutch” as a trophy. Whatever effect it had on the force field is no longer functional, nor understandable. Still, silver is silver.

We spoke to The Herald again, it is strangely calming, speaking to the creature. I suppose that comes with being a keeper of dreams and seer of futures…hrm. Come to think of it, I wonder if I should have asked it about the future. Normally one doesn’t question demigods or what information they choose to parcel out, but occasionally that’s what they want. Regardless, we have a mission to complete in the tower. The Herald warned us it is dimensionally unstable, sometimes moving, sometimes disappearing, so we must be cautious, and prepared to be stuck within it for some time. Of what is inside, only this was given: there is a dreamer inside, it dreams every night of the dead body of a human wizard, being hatefully and horridly devoured by a crawling mass of worms. Hoped future? Angry memory? Self-loathing or the loathing of another? Time will tell.

Entry 176, Day 104, Noon

We have met the infamous Xoud, or at least his ghost. It seems one of his pre and post-mortem fixations was protecting his possessions, as this entire tower is trapped up and down and his ghost appears and hurls magical assaults whenever we “mess with his stuff.” The man was clearly a skilled artisan, his library is filled to the brim with complex drawings and architectural sketches of mechanical devices.

We discovered several traps, the second most deadly was his kitchenette, which contained flamethrowers powerful enough to roast an elephant. By sheer luck I was able to spot the danger and herd us out, but we had no means of disabling the trouble until I remembered Flynn’s metal box. He did his best turtle impression and after bumping into and knocking over everything there was to knock over he finally tripped the trap, taking little to no damage under his steel shell. Mistoffeles said something I didn’t understand about iron cobras or metal serpents or something, but he told me not to worry about it.

We found and fought 2 robots, and then all of us took a fire blast to the face as we found an entrance to the main furnace. Once we are done healing up and cooling off, we will be proceeding with more caution, and this time I will be more careful about checking the doors.

letters Home
letter 16 (F#%k giants & doors)

Hello mom and dad,

There is a lot to cover and i am brief on time so i will try to keep the important stuff from leading to the trivial stuff.

  • Explored the rest of the underground dungeon and along the way released an invisible man/wind elemental from esentially haunting the place. He was thankful for that if you can imagine.
  • Next we released a highly volatile poison through out the ship that would quickly spread to the near by town. Luckily one of our party members as well as some other individuals in the region helped stop this situation before it could get any worse. And in the end the poison was gotten rid of entirely.(Took aoubt 3 days with that)
  • We next headed to a place called the Choking Tower for because of long reasons that will take up more paper than i can currently afford to lose.
  • when we got to the forest where the tower is located there were signs of deforestation machinery at work. We inspected the tower to investigate further and were met with a bitch of a door that won’t work without proper mechanism.
  • Searched around the forest for someone to help us and cam across a tribe of giants. two of them told us that this one robot in a nearby field held one of the parts to get into the tower.

This is where i find myself getting more immature and were i find out that giant can be FUCKING ASSHOLES just like anyone else.

  • We were able to defeat the security robot with some effort but before we could catch our breath the Giants we had talked to earlier were waiting to ambush us at the forest edge thinking we would be to weak to defend ourselves. THEY WERE WRONG!

All in all we did a LOT of walking, got to see some interesting places, though i wish there was a market or alchemist with us. Killed some assholes. And all in all driving by the seat of our pants.

Until next time,
your son,
Flynn S.


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