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Tribal Troubles: Trial by Flight

K’naghi Locust Riders
Locust_Rider_SilAfter making their way through the unavoidable fields of corruption blooms that surround the towering pinnacle rock, the PCs make their way through the savanna to the landmark’s base, where the hanging village of the tribesmen is suspended high above them—the K’naghi Hanging Village. The villagers have been watching the adventurers progress through the savanna and now that they have reached the base, Banthadar (the elder shaman) and his escort of K’naghi warriors (one warrior for each PC) descend, flying on the backs of gigantic locusts to meet the party below.

From the base of the massive pinnacle rock, you see an entire village, mostly of huts and hovels crafted from the dry grasses of the savanna that envelopes the area below them. The whole settlement is securely perched upon several cliff-like stone outcroppings near the enormous stone’s peak, some three hundred feet above you. Dozens of human shapes look down upon you from the safety of their skyward home, some pointing and others hefting long-hafted weapons; the sun casts a bright aura that radiates from behind the peak making it difficult to discern more finite details of the scene unfolding above, but provides a cool shade.

The PCs have 1d6+2 rounds to react before the K’naghi send a greeting party, a group of tribesmen (N Human fighter 4) led by Banthadar.

After a few moments several individuals, mounted on the backs of giant locusts, fly from within a cavernous opening in the peak and descend towards you. As they approach, the buzzing of their mounts’ wings thrums through the air until the group comes to a slow, hovering landing a few yards in front of you. An old. tall, muscular human dismounts first and slowly approaches, casting a suspicious gaze at all of you. The others, donned in armor crafted from the husks of the same sort of giant locusts and wielding long wooden spears, take foot and fall in behind their elder.

Active Effect Note: The effects of the haunt song of the ancestors continues in this area until the elder shaman dismounts. As soon as he approaches the PCs, the whispering of the haunt completely stops and does’t begin again until after this encounter has concluded.

Gigantic Locust CR 4

Giant Locust [giant template]    CR 4
XP 1,200
N Large vermin
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+1 Dex, +8 natural, -1 size)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +7, Ref +2, Will +1
Immune mind-affecting effects; Resist acid 5

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee bite +7 (2d6+7)
Ranged spit +3 touch (1d4 acid)
Special Attacks voracious

STATISTICS
Str 20, Dex 13, Con 17, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 18 (26 vs. trip)
Skills Acrobatics +1 (+19 jumping), Climb +13; Racial Modifiers +18 Acrobatics while jumping
SQ leap

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Leap (Ex) A giant locust can take 10 on Acrobatics checks to jump even if distracted or in danger.
Spit (Ex) A giant locust can spit a brown jet of acid and partially digested food up to 30 feet with no range increment.
Voracious (Ex) A giant locust's bite attack deals double damage to creatures with the plant subtype and to objects made of paper, wood, or other plant materials.

ECOLOGY
Environment temperate or warm deserts or plains
Organization solitary, pair, gang (3–8), or colony (5–20)
Treasure none

A mature giant locust measures just over 8 feet long and weighs 300 pounds.

 

Giant Locust Section 15: Copyright Notice     Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 4 © 2013, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Savannah Broadway, Ross Byers, Adam Daigle, Tim Hitchcock, Tracy Hurley, James Jacobs, Matt James, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Tork Shaw, and Russ Taylor.

Banthadar commends the PCs for surviving the harrowing journey through their savanna, but informs them that one challenge remains. Speaking in the K’naghi tribal language (a combination of broken Common and Giant, which can be mostly understood by anyone who understand either language), the elder shaman tells the party that they must choose a champion to face him in a duel to prove their courage.

If the adventurers refuse to face Banthadar or do not choose a champion, they are commanded to leave the savanna immediately. If the PCs attack the K’naghi in any other context (or continue to attack once Banthadar has yielded in the duel), the tribe becomes Hostile and the accompanying warriors engage the party, fighting to the death.

trial by flight 1Win or lose, if the PCs chose a champion to face the elder shaman and honor his request to yield, Banthadar (and the rest of the K’naghi people) consider the adventurers trustworthy friends and allies, and invite them back to their homes for a “feast of friendship” to celebrate their meeting. The only way to the village is to fly; the giant locust mounts are large enough to carry two Medium creatures (of 300 pounds or less each), and the party is invited to join the warriors on their mounts to fly back to the hanging village.

 

The Feast of Friendship
The PCs are given a tour of the suspended settlement, including meeting the most prominent of the 120 tribesmen (men, women, and children) who call the village home, touring the breeding caverns where the giant locusts (30 in number) are bred and maintained, and finally the great statue of Naghith.

A large fire is started at the base of the statue to cook the feast (consisting of mashed locust, roasted giant locust, and various roots and berries found in the savanna below), and the PCs will join the elder shaman and the other elders of the village in his large hut at the top of the peak. The feast will continue for several hours, the elders recanting the stories of their people, and answering any questions the characters may have.

When asked about a powerful weapon (or through the process of storytelling if he isn’t asked), Banthadar recounts the Final Prophecy of Banhi, and elude that he believes that the PCs just might be the heroes the legend foretells. A month past, the villagers witnessed a solar eclipse followed the preceding night by the appearance of a comet that remained in the night skies for three weeks. They are all convinced that it is an omen signifying that the prophecy will soon come to pass.

 

trial by flight 2The Attack from Below
The feast continues late into the evening until the world grows dark. Beneath the star-filled skies, the area around the pinnacle stone remains brightly illuminated by the large celebratory fire burning at the base of the great statue.

Unbeknownst to the PCs and the K’naghi tribesmen, warriors from the Piseogach Clan have gathered with a myriad of siege weaponry and are about to lead an assault against the hanging village. [You can find out more about the Piseogach Clan, and their reasons for attacking, next week here in the Adventureaweek.com blog. -JAM]

To avoid the dangers of the corruption blooms that surround the pinnacle stone, the Piseogach have parked their massive, primitive siege weapons near the base of the pinnacle stone. They attack under the cover of night without warning, raining down flaming boulders and large ballista bolts upon the unsuspecting village and its inhabitants, which presently includes the PCs.

There is a loud crash outside the elder shaman’s hut, and all the tribesmen rush with surprised and concerned expressions crossing their faces to see what has occurred. Exiting the hut, you find the massive statue to Naghith engulfed in flames as the tribesmen look on in horror. After a few seconds, a massive boulder arcs from the heavens and crashes into the chest of the statue sending crumbled debris raining down upon you.

With a deep groan followed by several shattering bursts, the cracks left by the boulder along the center of the statue gives way, and the entire upper half tilts forward and begins to fall down the mountainside and towards the village below! Faint, distance cheers can be heard emanating from the ground far below.A thick cloud of dust still blankets the outcroppings below as Banthadar shouts down, directing unharmed tribesmen to assist in freeing those trapped—a few lifeless bodies bearing wide splatters of blood and brain matter make it obvious that not all survived.

Casting a glance further down the cliff of the current outcropping, you witness several large clay pots—fired from catapults stationed at the base of the mountain—crack against the sides of the peak, raining burning oil down upon the dry grass rooftops of the huts, setting them ablaze!

The Piseogach Clan has parked five catapults and five ballistae about 300 feet from the base of the pinnacle rock. This puts their siege weapons in range of the hanging village, but at a safe distance from the corruption blooms that provide a barrier around the towering peak.

Gathering the PCs and the remaining K’naghi warriors, Banthadar hastily leads everyone down the systems of ladders and cavernous chutes until they reach the Giant Locust Breeding Cavern. The elder shaman quickly explains that they must take the locust mounts, gather the boulders set strategically around the encampment, and drop the stones down upon the siege weaponry below.

He  adamantly expresses that the Piseogach attackers pose no threat to the hanging village without their massive weapons. Short so many warriors, he begs the PCs to mount locusts themselves and assist in the counter-attack.

If they accept, he gives a hurried lesson in flying the giant locusts (similar to riding bareback upon a horse), and the warriors offer them suits of K’naghi armor, showing them how it can be used to protect a deadly fall should they be dismounted. Due to its masterful craftsmanship and clever design, the suit of armor takes less than two minutes to don.

As you ready yourselves on your locust mounts, another barrage of crushing boulders and exploding pots can be heard outside the breeding cavern, quickly followed by horrified screams of villagers and the cries of their children.

Banthadar has mounted his own locust and raises his fist, letting out a loud, guttural battle shout that signals the warriors to fly out. Following behind their elder shaman, they hover out of the cavern and across the outcropping, guiding their locust to lift boulders from the piles of large rocks stacked near the edges of all the various levels of the hanging village.

As each mounted locust grabs a boulder, its rider directs it over the edge of the cliff and down towards the siege weaponry below. Following suit, you do the same and soon find yourself surrounded by the darkness of night, your enemy below illuminated only by dim grey moonlight while the rushing gusts and loud buzz of your locusts’ wings fill the sky around you.

trial by flight 3The Piseogach use (5) heavy catapults to target the hanging village directly, reserving the (5) heavy ballistae to target the locust riders (20 K’naghi warriors and any PCs who took flight to assist them). Refer to the “Siege Engines” section in chapter 3 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat.

During the conflict, every other round the siege weapons (which take a round to reload) kill 1d4-2 (minimum 0) of the 100 K’naghi tribesmen that remain in the village. Likewise, with each passing round 1d4-2 (minimum 0) of the 20 locust-mounted warriors are killed or dismounted, removing them from combat. Banthadar remains unharmed and engaged in the battle for the entire duration (dealing 1d4 points of damage to a random siege weapon every round). At the end of each combat round, the remaining locust-mounted warriors cumulatively do 1d6 points of damage to all of the remaining siege weapons.

PCs may use other means to attack (magic or typical range attacks against the siege weaponry) instead of using the giant locusts to drop boulders. However, doing so automatically grants an unfired ballistae a 95% chance of targeting that character.

 

The effects of an adventurer’s “boulder drop”, as well as their likelihood of being targeted by one of the remaining ballistae when directly targeting with other forms of attack, depends on the elevation they are at when the attack is made. Dropping a boulder from a greater altitude causes it to do more damage and lessens the likelihood of being targeted, however it also dramatically increases the difficulty of actually hitting the intended target.

Altitude     Attack Penalty      Damage      Counter Attack Chance
300 ft.                -15                   6d10                    10%
250 ft.                -10                   5d10                    20%
200 ft.                +0                    4d10                    30%
150 ft.                +10                   3d10                    50%
100 ft.                +15                   2d10                    70%
50 ft.                 +20                   1d10                    90%

The Piseogach Clan relentlessly continues their attack until all 10 of the siege weapons are destroyed, at which point they retreat from combat—heading in the direction of the Temple of Naghith.

Once the attack is over, the K’naghi tribesmen gather their dead and tend to the wounded after dousing the many fires throughout the settlement. Villagers (and perhaps the PCs) take shelter in the safety of the interior cavern of the giant locust breeding den until sunrise; Banthadar orders his warriors to fly watch around the pinnacle stone in shifts of three throughout the night.

During this downtime, the elder shaman and many of the villagers express their gratitude to the PCs for helping defend the village against the surprise attack by the Piseogach Clan. Banthadar has a total of eight potions of cure moderate wounds that he freely offers to the PCs before using them to tend to other wounded warriors.

 

The Aftermath
trial by flight 4At sunrise the surviving members of the K’naghi tribe gather, inviting the PCs to the highest outcropping of the hanging village at the peak of the pinnacle stone. The day before all had been feasting and celebrating new friendship here, but all that remains are the remnants of destroyed and burnt huts, and the shattered statue of their tribal god.

The following morning as the sun rises over the eastern horizon, members of the K’naghi tribe gather at the peak of their towering stone where the statue depicting their stood just the day before. Invited to witness and pay honor to the fallen, you find yourself surrounded with strange chants and songs—homage to the dead—that every tribesman clearly knows by heart.

Interrupted by only the occasional mournful wail, the bodies of the dead are lovingly laid to rest upon a funeral pyre fashioned from a bed of dry grass. Facing towards the temple in the far distance, the elder shaman raises his hand skyward and says, “Father! Many-winged one. Lord of our people. This day the song of our ancestors loudly sings your praise.”

As the shaman turns back towards the pyre, it suddenly and without explanation bursts into a roiling fire that quickly grows to the height of the statue that once stood there. The air suddenly becomes stirred and for a moment, hurried whispers are heard upon the wind as the bodies of the dead are released into the rising smoke.

Banthadar quickly turns and points to the distant temple which now exhibits a growing stack of dark smoke above it. With his eyes fixed firmly upon your party he says, “They must be stopped! Now, even as we send our dead to sing, the Piseogach Clan defiles the resting place of the Many-Winged Father. You… you all are the Skywielders, and your destiny lies within the temple!”

If the PCs agree to pursue the Piseogach Clan and accept the title of “Skywielders” that he has bestowed upon them, he provides them with food and supplies for their journey and if requested, he even allows a few of the K’naghi tribesmen to accompany the characters on their journey as guides and observers.

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