Last night I DMd my first session of Pathfinder in Japanese. It was mostly successful, and I’ll be putting up my thoughts about the DMing in a separate post. This is a brief report of the session.

The adventure took place in an Onsen (hot spring) resort in the Steam Mountains. This resort is blessed with healing onsen, soaking in which can remove many mundane and supernatural diseases. The party have been hired to escort an old, rich man to the onsen, and the events of this adventure happen in early Autumn after he has already spent some weeks soaking in the rejuvenating waters of the resort.

The PCs are:

  • Akuni, human female bard (played by Furudera san)
  • Yurianusu, male elven sorcerer (played by Kuma san)
  • Isoda, female human cleric (played by Shiga san)
  • Nomai, female half-orc barbarian (played by Era san)
  • Myuta, male half-elf Ranger (played by Miyao san)

All PCs were 4th level.

The onsen resort is set in a small bowl-shaped valley deep in the Steam Mountains, many days’ walk from civilisation. A narrow valley to the south of the resort heads down to civilisation, and to the East is a second, even narrower valley constantly shrouded in steam from many onsens and volcanic fissures which run the length of the valley. The bowl-shaped valley of the resort itself is also misty, but not to the same extent as the Eastern valley, which is almost impenetrably murky. To the North and West, mountains shrouded in eery forest loom above the resort. For some reason in the Steam Mountains fireflies emerge in Autumn, so the night the adventure started was the night of the firefly festival, when all the patrons of the onsen gather on its western balcony to watch the fireflies dancing in the mist. The characters also gathered, except for Nomai, who was taking the opportunity of peace and quiet to bathe in the staff hot spring, from which she is otherwise banned on account of her race; and Myuta, who was required to be on guard and was standing in an inner garden keeping an eye on comings and goings.

So it was that when the resort’s two guards died noisily in the Eastern garden, only Nomai and Myuta were able to respond quickly. Myuta immediately dashed to their employer’s side and Nomai, grabbing a bath towel and her dagger, dashed to the garden. She was followed by Akuni and Isoda, while Yurianusu (who had been chasing fireflies for spell components) doubled around the resort’s outer wall to come at the garden gate from the rear. Nomai, entering the garden, was immediately struck with a full blast from a Gnome Steam Rifle, but could see nothing of the source. Only when Akuni arrived did anyone see what was happening – two gnomes were guarding the gate to the Eastern garden, and the two resort guards lay murdered by an open doorway leading into the staff area of the resort. As the characters entered the garden, the other gnome unleashed a burst of fire from his rifle, and the first gnome dashed away. Yurianusu, however, cast grease behind both of them, and the first gnome slipped over. The second fled in terror with the characters in pursuit. The Barbarian soon caught the gnome and overbore him, stabbing him into submission, then dragged him back. Meanwhile, Isoda, Myuta and Yurianusu subdued the other gnome, and they hung both from the gate while they tried to determine what had happened.

Investigating the room the guards had been “defending,” our intrepid heroes discovered the owner of the resort, crying about the end of his business. The gnomes had broken into the room, opened a secret door and taken something from inside a small volcanic pool that the room contained. The resort owner revealed that this spring had housed a special cage in which was held an imprisoned onsen sprite. This sprite grants the onsen waters their special powers, and without it the waters of the onsen are simply hot water. Without it, the man’s business is ruined – and by extension, the PCs’ employer’s health. And indeed, their employer, realising this, demanded that they recover the onsen sprite.

There followed a brief scene in which the PCs “persuaded” other guests and the boss into paying them money for their mission. They then “persuaded” the gnomes to tell them a little more about their mission. The gnomes quickly told them that:

  • they had come up the valley with two other gnomes to steal the sprite
  • their employer had told them about the secret door
  • their employer was waiting for the return of the sprite in a camp at the base of the narrow, steamy valley, which provided perfect cover to come stealthily to the resort
  • there was an ambush set halfway down the valley, in case they were followed

Knowing this, the characters set off down the valley, with Myuta’s tracking enabling them to identify when they were near the ambush site. Unfortunately visibility in the valley was only 20′, so though they knew where the ambush was, they could not spring the trap easily. Instead they blundered into an area in front of a jumbled pile of huge rocks, and 3 gnomes atop the rocks opened fire on them with steam rifles. Battle was joined.

Myuta the ranger took cover behind the only available rocks, while cleric, bard and barbarian charged forward to try and gain the relative safety of the larger rocks beneath the gnomes themselves. Akuni threw a tanglefoot bag, which failed to take effect; Isoda cast bless, while the barbarian charged around the rocks to try and climb up the far side and attack the gnomes. Unfortunately the gnome sorcerer behind the rocks was ready, and knocked her out with a color spray spell. Then a fighter charged out from the cover of the rocks to engage the Cleric, while the gnomes set furiously about gunning down the sorcerer, Yurianusu, who cast grease on the rock to no avail. Another gnome appeared from nowhere and surprise attacked Akuni the Bard, but missed; Yurianusu cast sleep on that gnome, and Myuta moved around the large rock to take on the sorcerer, who Isoda the cleric also now tried to attack. Yurianusu’s grease spells on the rock did not make the gnome riflemen fall, so he switched to using sleep, which did work: one fell off the rear and died, while the other slid forward from the rock and landed in the tangle foot bag, so that he hung, upside down and snoring, from the front of the rock.

The barbarian now recovered from her unconsciousness and laid into the fighter with a vengeance, but the sorcerer used ghost sound to trick her and the cleric into thinking that a new squad of gnome soldiers was approaching. With typical berserk single-mindedness, Nomai paid this little heed; but Isoda was fully suprised by it and distracted for a full round. The gnome sorcerer also attempted hideous laughter, which manifested as a phantasm of a strange-looking face which the viewer must surely be amused by; fortunately his target’s were all able to resist the lure of the funny face, until Myuta shot the gnome through the neck and put paid to further ensorcelments. Akuni then repeated this trick, casting hideous laughter on the gnome fighter. Akuni’s hideous laughter manifests as funny stories yelled into the ear of the victim; to all around the victim they sound for all the world like taped songs played at extremely high fast forward speed; but to the target they are heard as multiple fascinating, amusing stories which he is compelled to hear and be entertained by. Unfortunately for the fighter, Akuni’s magic was very powerful, and the spell became for him a curse that will never go away – wherever he goes the fighter will forevermore be laughing and accompanied always by the sound of songs in fast forward[1].

Thus the battle came to an end and, it being 11:30 pm on a Saturday night, and the remainder of the adventure will be played out at the next session. Thus endeth the report of the strange doings of the Steam Mountains.

fn1: saving throw fumble by me. Sorry, Mr. Gnome.