Travel: Lake Silverstep Village
This isn’t your ultimate objective, but it’s along the way, and there’s plenty to see and do here, so if you have the time, you might as well pay this location a visit. To get there, you can just use the following directions from the Ancient Mine (a find end-point if you’ve been exploring the previously-listed areas in the Kamelands):
- Northeast (path veers southwest)
On the other hand, if you want to get right from Tuskdale to Lake Silverstep Village, just make your way to the Bridge Over the Gudrin River:
- East (cross the river)
- East (to empty node north of the Bridge Over the Gudrin River area)
- South to reach landmark: Bridge Over the Gudrin River
- East (along Gudrin River)
- East (to reach Lake Silverstep)
- North (along western shore of Lake Silverstep)
- Northeast (across Lake Silverstream)
Corpse on the Coast
Ironically, it doesn’t matter if you arrive via boat or by traveling through the mountain passes on foot; you’ll appear in the same area either way. Starting from the eastern edge of the map, just south of center, make your way south to find a cliff. Even a dullard can pass the [Perception 0] check required to notice a spot you can climb down [Mobility 23]. Do so, then fight off a pack of Tatzlwyrms led by two Greater Tatzlwyrms, which have gathered around a corpse. Once the reptiles are dead, examine the- corpse to find some incriminating red fur, then search a pack near the corpse to score 121 GP and the Talon of the Wise, a Kana +2 with the Agile property.
This place is already proving to be pretty lucrative! Follow a path to the west and hang along the cliffs to the north as you go, as an observant character might spot a branch [Perception 18] hidden near some trees. Hidden under this branch you’ll find a surprisingly large cache of treasure, including numerous scrolls, gems and jewelry.
Aisel and Brevis
Continue west from this hidden treasure cache until you reach the eponymous village on the edge of Silverstep Lake, in the southwestern edge of the area. Near a house on the eastern edge of the village you’ll find a fisherman named Aisel, or rather, a former fisherman. Ask who he is and about this "Dragon Feast" he’s babbling about and he’ll tell you an improbable story of a silver dragon commanding fish for the benefit of an incompetent fisherman. Continue along this line of questioning to learn more about this silver dragon of theirs, in the process hearing the name of one "Ivar", who bears the title of "Dragon’s Voice". Being the representative of such a powerful, supposedly benevolent being would be quite the position of power in such a meager village, and one well worth seeking out. At the very least, maybe Ivar can formulate his own opinions about things instead of waiting for some "dragon" to tell him what his opinion is, unlike Aisel.
From Aisel, turn southwest to find another man, Brevis, standing in front of his shop. His appearance and accent gives him away as a foreigner, and while his wares aren’t anything to get excited over, you can use him to sell off any excess loot you may be carrying around.
Do what business you need to do with Brevis, then ask him about the commotion to hear a skeptic’s version of this "silver dragon" business. He’s also got some opinions on this Ivar fellow, although you’d be wise to note that he doesn’t disregard the man’s effectiveness, nor his peculiar effect on the local monster population.
Finish up your hitherto pleasant and informative conversation by asking him "I’m surprised to see a trader in such a remote place." and pass an under-the-hood [Perception 18] check, after which you’ll get an [Intimidate 25] option. Succeed at both checks and he’ll suddenly discover both his poker face and a curious desire to donate to the barony. Queer timing, that. Be sure to say "Why don’t you start with where you acquired those goods of yours?" to learn about some bandits lurking in the mountains nearby, whose stolen wares Brevis sells. Brevis tries to defend what honor he has left - as if facilitating banditry isn’t just as bad as participating in it - leaving you with a variety of moral choices you can make in response. You can pick a [Lawful Good] option to chastise him, [Neutral Evil] will collect a cool 450 GP bribe from the dishonest merchant, and the [Lawful Neutral] option will impose some heavy-handed justice.
Whatever your decision with Brevis, and before you wander off in search of this Ivar, search the village for loot. You’ll find a variety of containers lying around, some of which hold scrolls, potions and the odd bit of gold. The westernmost chest [Trickery 21] contains a Recipe: Grilled Silver Eel, while another chest to the north of this one (the northwestern-most chest) will yield Wand of Burning Hands, a Taldan Warrior’s Dog Tag and 799 GP. The only tricky treasure is in a chest south of Aisel and east of Brevis, which requires a [Perception 27] check to spot. If you find it, plunder the chest for an Amulet of Natural Armor +2.
With the village explored, all that’s left is to find this Ivar fellow and pick up whatever choice loot is worth grabbing along the way. Head to the village’s easternmost house and head north from the eastern fence of this building. Atop a short, rocky hill you’ll find a cluster of branches hiding a Token of the Dryad.
From here you’re only a short distance west of Ivar’s house, which you passed by earlier. Just head northeast to find a lonely house in the woods, just northwest of the area transition along the eastern end of the map. When you find it, searching the door should make it clear that you’re unlikely to find Ivar in the area. Loot the chest in front of his house to score some scrolls (and other, less noteworthy loot), then examine the table in the back of the house to find a Hunter’s Letter, which is not only miraculously untouched by the weather, but it also exposes Ivar’s penchant for story-telling and the tragic unintended consequences it can have.
The Nereid’s Puddle
Leave Ivar’s house alone and make your way around the building to the north, where, in a curiously humble body of water, you’ll find a territorial Nereid. That such a creature would live so threateningly close to Ivar’s house is just more evidence that the hunter doesn’t come by very often. As for this foe, she’s not much of a threat. At a distance she’ll spit at you, and in melee combat she’ll attempt to make touch attacks, both of which can inflict Constitution damage via the Nereid’s venom [Fortitude DC 19 and 21, respectively]. That said, if you lead with your warriors there’s not much the Nereid can do, as these characters have both high Fortitude Saves and plenty of Constitution to spare.
Run up and gank the Nereid, then deprive her of the Scroll of Haste and Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds she possessed. She won’t be needing them any more. Search some rocks to the south of her shoddy little pond to find a chest [Trickery 28], inside of which rests a Light Shield +2.
Worgs and Water
Venture north from the Nereid’s puddle to find another, even less impressive body of water. Along the northern end of this watering hole dwell a pack of Worgs, including one Greater Worg and four lesser Worgs. You should be around twice the level you were the last time these foes were a threat, but you can make this encounter even easier by circling around to the western end of the pond, and then attacking from that direction. Focus your warriors between the northern end of the water and the nearby bushes and the Worgs should make things easier by meeting your attack in the narrow space between the foliage to the north and the water to the south.
Murder the mutts, then make your way north to find a chest resting against some rocks along the northern boundary of the area. Inside this chest you’ll find a variety of now-mundane potions and scrolls along with the odd pieces of gold. If you make your way east to the northeastern corner of the map you’ll find another area transition, should you need a means of egress.
Acquire the First Mageblade
From the Worg-infested pond make your way west to find a ravine, which just so happens to be bridged by a log. Make a token [Perception 0] check on either side of the log to notice that you can, in fact, climb across the log [Mobility 21] if you’re careful. Or you can just go the long way around. Either way, be sure to search the corpse north of the log’s eastern end to find a variety of potions, scrolls, gems and a Token of the Dryad.
The Nereid and the Hydra
Make your way to the western end of the ravine, and from the log that bridges the gap, make your way north. Near some bushes you should find [Perception 0] a cluster of branches hidden within which is yet another Token of the Dryad. Dryads had a lot of favor to leave around this place, eh?
Of all the female fey lurking around this area, dryads are the least of your problem. Venture west along the nearby trail and you’ll encounter another Nereid, and this one has the good sense to have a Hydra accompanying it. By now, a hydra shouldn’t be too much of a threat, largely lacking the ability to strike your tanks, or do much to worry them on the odd chance they do land a blow. The Nereid has more staying power, but is almost as feeble in the face of your warriors. Cut them down and have the odd Restoration spell handy in case anybody suffers any attribute damage, then grab the Scroll of Haste and Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds from the Nereid’s body.
Hunter on the Cliff
If you have a taste for more mundane scrolls, examine the bushes to the west of where you encountered the Nereid and Hydra to find a stump [Perception 20] which hides a Scroll of Hold Person. From here you need merely continue uphill to the northwest to find Ivar at the edge of a cliff, and given the nature of the encounter, you might as well get it out of the way.
Continue uphill to the northwest and talk to Ivar and you’ll immediately be presented with a moral choice. The consequences of this choice are virtually non-existent save for providing another way to define your character’s personality, so respond as you will, after which you’ll be free to question Ivar more freely. He’ll fully play up this "Dragon’s Voice" nonsense, generally viewing you with cool disdain, and his terms are fairly clear: as long as you’re not a threat to the village, he doesn’t really care about you one way or another. He also makes it clear that in his mind, your jurisdiction ends where his begins. Make of that what you will.
No matter what you say (save for the ubiquitous [Chaotic Evil] option) Ivar will end up walking away after the conversation. The only really interesting exchange is if you learned about the "Silver Dragon" scales he gave the villagers and read the note you found by his house, in which case you can call him out for the fraud he is. He’ll admit to it if exposed, but it affects the course of events very little, and the deception is clearly only a means to an end for Ivar.
If you kill him he’ll drop a Longsword +1, a suit of Chainmail +2 and a Belt of Physical Form +2. Granted, it’s a good bit of loot, but there’s clearly more to this story than meets the eye; might be a good idea to keep him alive to see how things play out.
Wolves and Boards
Backtrack southeast to where where you fought the Nereid and Hydra and from there make your way southeast to reach an area just west of the rocks near where you found the First Mageblade. Here you’ll find around a half-dozen Dire Boars prowling, which by now are little more than meat and experience dispensers waiting for you to claim them.
Due west of here you’ll find another familiar foe, a pack of wolves. These canines include three Dire Wolves, an Alpha Wolf and a Ferocious Worg. These creatures should have long since stopped being a serious threat, and you can allow your disdain for their power reflect itself in your strategies. Just send your tank up alone, let the wolves engage, then send the rest of your warriors up to lend a hand.
Next venture south and slightly west to find another pack of Dire Boars, this time led by a Greater Dire Boar. Don’t let its fancy adjective fool you - while it may be capable (with a good bit of luck) of hitting your tank, it shouldn’t be much of a threat. Get yourself some bacon, then continue downhill to the west.
Tatzlwyrms By the Lake
You should reach the shore of Lake Silverstep in short order, where you’ll find piles of dead and dying fish lying on the beach. Examine the poor creatures to surmise they may have been driven to the harsh shore by… fear? Something that can drive schools of fish to leap out of water probably isn’t something that’ll be beneficial to a fishing village in the long-term. Even in the short-term there are unwelcome consequences that a dullard like Aisel can’t appreciate.
Follow the shoreline to the north to find such a complication - a group of Tatzlwyrms, including three Greater Tatzlwyrms. These reptiles have apparently been lured by the easy meals here, and they represent arguably the greatest threat you’ve faced in this area thus far. Greater Tatzlwyrms can, at least, hit your tanks with some regularity, and will deal respectable damage when they do hit. Kill them, then search for the prize they were guarding - some Fish from the Silverstep Lake. Be sure to also search some bushes to the east to find a Token of the Dryad hidden under some brush.
With that, you’re done with the exterior portion of Lake Silverstep Village. Continue north along the shore, then turn east at some cliffs to find a cave, which is your next destination. Consider healing and resting before you enter this cave, however; the foes within are much more dangerous than the ones you fought outside.
Lake Silverstep Cave
From where you enter, make your way north to find that the path ahead quickly splits. First loot the chamber you’re in to find a variety of scrolls, potions and lesser treasures in the two smaller chests, while in the larger chest [Trickery 17] you’ll find 621 GP. Along the eastern edge of the chamber you’ll find a pillar attached to the cavern wall, on the western edge of which you can find a Pile of Notes if you search carefully. Read these notes if you want to learn about the lake’s supernatural menace, and about a monster that attacked the bandits in this cave.
Score this loot, then venture northwest into a watery chamber that apparently opens up to the lake. Such a secluded cave must be a bandit’s dream, and sure enough, two boats are docked nearby. Loot a chest to find some treasure, including a Taldan Warrior’s Dog Tag, then return southeast to the entry chamber.
Some preparation is in order before you venture into the chamber to the north, as there are quite a few enemies in there. While they’re not overwhelmingly powerful, the difference between going in with the correct spell-buffs and without them is stark. Use longer-lasting buffs (Bless, Blur, Stoneskin, Shield of Faith) and shorter buffs (Haste, Prayer) as they’ll all come in handy. When you’re well-protected, head into the chamber to find some bandits complaining about a beast. You may not be the beast they fear, but they’re still not pleased when they find out they’re being intruded upon by a potential plunder-stealer instead.
The barbarian bandit with the greatsword might seem like the greatest threat - and he’s certainly the one most likely to trouble your warriors in melee - but you should start the fight out by charging the Bandit Necromancer. This black mage will attempt to cast multiple Enervation spells at you, inflicting Negative Energy Levels on a character. This is bad enough on its own, but he’s quite capable of removing all a character’s levels with repeated castings, which will kill a character outright.
He shouldn’t be too hard to cut down, after which focus on the greatsword-bearing bandit barbarian. Other than him, there are a few sneaky bandits that’ll try to make a big first impression with some sneak attacks, but nothing you really must worry about.
Once they’re dead, loot them for their meager possessions, then ignore the rest of this treasure in the room and focus on the large sarcophagus - you’ll want to attend to this task first, before your buffs wear off. Be sure to send the rest of your party south to the narrow passage connecting this chamber to the larger one to the south and only have your tank up front when you interact with the sarcophagus.
When you examine the sarcophagus - a cyclopean sarcophagus, on closer examination - you’ll get a variety of options. Pass a [Lore (Religion) 26] check to get some insight into a cyclopean version of a deathly figure depicted on the sarcophagus. You can also use a [Detect Magic] check to determine that, indeed, there be magic about this sarcophagus. As for getting inside the sarcophagus, you can waste a great deal of time forcing it open (about four hours will pass) or you can pass a [Knowledge (Arcana) 26] check to open the sarcophagus more elegantly. Unfortunately, the sarcophagus is still inhabited, and the occupant isn’t happy about being disturbed.
Battle - Dread Zombie Cyclops
Having opened the sarcophagus you’ll have earned yourself the ire of a Dread Zombie Cyclops, which has a fair amount of HP, a respectable Armor Class and a high enough Attack bonus to hit your tanks. While a character with an Armor Class of around thirty won’t be getting hit regularly, the Dread Zombie Cyclops’s high damage (around 30~ per hit) will ensure that when it does hit, you’ll feel it.
On its own, this probably wouldn’t be much of a fight, but when the sarcophagus opens two things will happen: first, everybody in the area will be exposed to an "Ancient Curse", which forces a [Will 18] check or else the afflicted characters will run around in fear. This is why you hid the majority of your party earlier, as two or three characters failing their save could result in a party wipe. As it stands, you’re only risking your tank, and even if they run around in fear, there’s a chance they’ll still draw enough enemy fire to serve a somewhat less than useless role in battle. The second development you need to be wary of is that the opening of the sarcophagus will cause the dead bandits in the room to reanimate as zombies and attack. None of them are terribly powerful in a straight fight, but their primary purpose is probably to distract you from the true threat - the Dread Zombie Cyclops - and to take advantage of fearful characters.
Whether your tank is affected or not, cast Haste (which almost certainly wore off since the last fight) and charge the Dread Zombie Cyclops with the rest of your party. Five hasted characters should be able to cut it down without too much fuss, after which cleaning up the rest of the zombies will be a relatively trivial task. Loot the massive zombie to grab a Greataxe +1, then turn your attention to the rest of the containers in the room. Now that you don’t need to preserve your buffs, unlock [Trickery 18] a chest to the east to find Slicer, a Scimitar +2 with the "Runic Mageblade" property, which improves the enhancement bonus of touch spells by +2. Finally, search a crate to the southwest to find a Cypress Queen’s Quill, another item an antiquarian (the Storyteller) would be keen on see-- err… bring it back to him.
Note: If you want, you can return to Aisel in the village and tell him that the unnatural goings-on around Lake Silverstep was due to the cyclopean zombie. A dense as ever, he’ll merely ask if they can get another zombie to scare the fish ashore…
Now that you’ve thoroughly explored this area, it’s time to investigate Ivar further, provided you didn’t kill him earlier in a fit of Chaotic Evil expression. Make your way to his house and pass a simple [Perception 0] check to notice some tracks along the southern edge of the house. Examine them, then follow the road north to find a second [Perception 0] set of tracks near some bushes. With additional powers of observation [Perception 17] you may notice the supernatural dexterity of whatever you’re chasing.
Assuming you’ve killed all the monsters on the way, this should be a relatively simple job of tracking down your quarry. Continue north to the southern end of the worg-wolf pond (veer off the road to do so) to find [Perception 0] a third set of tracks. Venture northeast to reach the area transition in this corner of the map to find a fourth and final set of tracks [Perception 0] in this area. Examine them, then pass yet another [Perception 23] check to discover the destination of these tracks - Silverstep Grove.
Note: Should you have trouble following these tracks, you can talk to Aisel in the village and ask him "Let’s talk about this hunter - Ivar was it?" followed by "Do you know where he is now?". Pass a [Diplomacy 19] check and he’ll point you in the right direction. Failing either of those two things, however, you can start the project "Find Ivar’s Location", which will take two weeks of time and 30 BP.