View Full Version : (3.5) Age of Worms Campaign Journal

2009-04-12, 04:26 PM
Hello, the Playground!

The Red Hand of Doom threads have inspired me to start recording my ongoing campaign: The Age of Worms, Paizo's second Adventure Path, originally published in Dungeon issues #124-135. The PC's ultimate goal is to forestall the Age of Worms, and in particular the Herald of the Age of Worms: Kyuss, the Wormgod.

There are technically two parties running through the Age of Worms. First is my playtesting party, which is being used to identify possible problem encounters, and is played with a rather loose look toward continuity (I record TPKs and move on). This one is run entirely by me, but has developed some character on its own. There are three gestalted characters: Jhessala, Orrusk and Talindra. They received Con score to hp at 1st level, since there were only three of them.

The second group is actually composed of real people (a novel idea, I know). They're playing through with use of the SRD and the Complete X books, with a few exceptions on a case-by-case basis. We started with five PCs:

Wilhelm, a CG male human cleric of Kurush (CN human supremacist sun god): slightly deluded and heretical. He's ignoring the human supremacist aspects of Kurush entirely (good for the party, since they're all demi-humans), and is laughably far from all the other Kuru****es PCs have encountered in other campaigns in the same world. Played by the Werebear.

Aramil, an N male gray elven wizard: cynical and a damn fine shot with a bow. Is an elven generalist (which I really might have to retroactively veto once we finish Three Faces of Evil) with Fighter bonus feats instead of Wizard (Unearthed Arcana). Loves his battlefield control.

Elden, a LG male halfling paladin of Turmlar (LG god of valor) and his female dog, Xena. There are entirely too many jokes made when Elden slaps his mount into action. Definitely non-lawful leaning (though that could just be the player). He shouldn't really worry: I'm not a Paladin hater, and I'm much more forgiving on the Law-Chaos aspect.

Violet, a N female halfling rogue: the sole female player and character at this point. I'm actually not sure if she's listed as True Neutral, but I guess I'll find out when they get out of the slimehole called Diamond Lake. At this early point, still hadn't decided whether she was going melee or ranged.

The Gibbler, a CN male gnome sorcerer: Every gnome stereotype you've ever heard of, his aspiration was to become a blood magus in order to compete in the craze that's sweeping the Planes: GNOMEBALL! His spells are insect-themed, with his magic missile taking the form of bees.

The playtest group is currently embroiled in The Spire of Long Shadow (Dungeon #130), while the actual group of PCs is one encounter from the end of The Three Faces of Evil (Dungeon #125). I will be posting by adventure if I can, by session if they take a more leisurely pace. Likewise, I will only post the playtest up to the point my party has reached, since at least one (Werebear, playing Wilhelm) reads this board.

The Whispering Cairn (Dungeon #124)
The Premise: The PCs are residents of Diamond Lake, an inappropriately named little boil of a mining town. The titular lake has been tainted with generations of mining and smelting run-off, and has the rough consistency of chunky quicksand. The surface can't quite catch on fire, but it's a near thing.
The PCs learn of a possibly unlooted cairn nearly, and assemble to explore it.

I'm dividing this into two spoiler blocks: one for my playtest, and one for the PCs. The playtest contains few to none story details, while the PC one will contain minimal DM commentary.

Playtest Group:
This party is composed of three gestalted characters, all level one at this point. They are:
Jhessala, a CG female half-elf Ranger - Warlock
Orrusk, a NG male half-orc Fighter - Cleric of the Sun Lord (generic deity)
Talindra, a NG female elf Bard - Druid and her wolf companion, Silverpaw.
Orrusk, a traveling priest, stumbled across the the cairn and posted a notice requesting adventures. Jhessala, looking for a fight, turned up. Talindra, hoping to get away from her employer, 'Prince' Moonmeadow, an elven mine owner. Talindra, though good, still had all the elven racism, referring to to Jhessala as 'halfblood' and Orrusk as 'orc-scum.'

Talindra befriended three wolves in the tomb with a good wild empathy check. Proceeding further into the tomb, the party was ambushed by a beetle swarm and a mad slasher. They dispatched the swarm with much stomping (variant rule letting you deal unarmed damage to the swarm as a full-round action), and Jhessala expressed her love of kukris.

They plumbed deeper into the tomb (breezing through encounters), finally coming upon an obvious trap. It was at this point that I realized the group didn't have a trapfinder. And then I realized that I couldn't rightly adjudicate traps for myself anyway, so the playtest party doesn't encounter the traps, but it also doesn't get the XP. While I was deciding this, the two elf-types decided to have an insult fight, followed by Talindra trying to grapple Jhessala. Then the ghost showed up. Orrusk was doing the talking, and dragged the catfighting elves in his wake.

At the Land farm, Jhessala charged directly at the owlbear, trying to grapple. The scary part is, it almost worked. They were still first level at this point, for crying out loud! The owlbear rolled terribly, which is the only thing that saved her from a mauling.

The party tried to beat Kullen's gang. Keep in mind, this was after clearing out most of the tomb, so this was low on hp and other resources. Jhessala grappled the glaive fighter, and both of them were knocked out by the mage's color spray, while a raging Kullen dropped Orrusk into negatives. Talindra negotiated their surrender. I've run this adventure a few times, and every time a party has chosen to fight Kullen's gang, it goes badly the first time. Once, another party was second level: Kullen killed the mage in one good hit and his gang dropped the rogue into negatives (the cleric thankful had a spell ready).

With an eye for vengeance, the party ambushed Kullen's gang as they were staggering drunk out of the bar. This time, the party had buff spells up, and Jhessala grapple-charged the mage. Short and brutal (though the party was still 1st level).

At the observatory, Filge's tomb mote did a disproportionate amount of damage, diseasing both Orrusk and Jhessala. Getting up to the top floor, Orrusk displayed why he took the Sun domain and Improved Turning, blowing apart Filge's undead minions. And then Jhessala, showing the disturbing tendencies of what would become a habit, charge-grappled the necromancer.

The Land bones returned, the party rested and returned to the cairn, to find the formerly impassable door open and two Wind Warriors inside. Which, as soon as I realized the PCs were still 1st level, I ret-conned into one Wind Warrior. When played with a lick of sense, the Wind Warriors will stay out of melee and use their sonic blasts to tear the party apart. In this case, the party (Jhessala grapple-charging and failing) closed quickly enough that the Warrior didn't get a chance to sonic blast. Why bother, when you have these lovely full attack targets? Talindra was dropped into negatives, and the other party members decided that she wasn't a complete *****, and decided not to kill her and split the treasure two ways. At this point, I awarded XP, boosting them to 3rd level.

Player Group:
Because this game started as a one-off during Spring Break, and my players wanted to get right to the violence, I didn't lay out Diamond Lake and have the party choose where they wanted to originate. Instead, I assigned various logical places:
Wilhelm and Elden (and Xena) were all assigned to the garrison from Deimos (the Free City), under the command of Valkus Dun, paternal and somewhat senile priest of Laeros (LG god of civilization). They had heard of the tomb, and applied for a dispensation to raid it for holy purposes.

On their way through town, they picked up Aramil, who was cleaning 'Prince' Moonmeadow's swan boat (Moonmeadow was the elven silver-mine owner. He's got a boat to sail the putrescent lake!). The wizard was more than happy to accompany them, and mentioned that the town sage, Allustan, often sponsored adventurers.

On their way to Allustan's home, they passed by the Emporium, whorehouse and palace of strange delights. One of the bouncers/patron fleecers/sponsored pickpockets, Violet, was watching the Gibbler being chased by Sir Solomon the Quaggoth (humanoid bear-thing). It was around this point that we realized that the Gibbler was completely insane, making pants loosen themselves and fly about the Emporium. Violet joined up, with the Gibbler gamboling on behind them.

At the sage's tower, they exchanged glances with three adventurers from Deimos: Auric, Khellek and Tirra. Auric was a swarthy, greatsword-wielding warrior, Khellek a leathery mage in red robes and Tirra, the requisite gorgeous elven thief (Auric was originally Aryan, but I like a little ethnic diversity among my humans). They met with Allustan, who offered them a fair price on anything they recovered from the tomb.

At the tomb, I became aware that this party was going to do things differently than my playtesters. Namely, they didn't have a high-charisma druid and ranger. Two dead and one fled wolves later (and a nasty bite on Wilhelm), they proceeded further into the cairn, noting the broken remnants of a portal, deciphering the writing there-upon as an archaic form of Auran. They were dissuaded from excavating the opposing side, where the ceiling had apparently collapsed. Pressing forward, they discovered a mosaic depicting a sarcophagus surrounded by seven burning fountains, as well as the wolf's lair, containing a broken-off marble finger and a blue globe of glass and metal.

After getting viciously mauled by the beetle swarm and mad slasher, the party descended in one of the air-elevators. I omitted the poison gas trap out of habit (I dislike traps as an arbitrary means of removing hit points; this probably stems from losing characters to traps in Baldur's Gate I and II, when they weren't being completely inconsequential). They initially mistook the lurking stranger for a trap, but quickly wised up and cut it in two (not before it got something like six ray attacks off, though). They retrieved some magical items, vaulted over brown mold, disturbed a small earth elemental and bashed it to pieces. By this point, they were banged up pretty bad, so they retreated to the main floor and rested, leveling up by the skin of their teeth (1100XP).

Newly second level, they butchered their way through another set of beetles, another swarm, a ghoul and a small water elemental. Originally, the encounter with the ghoul (lacedon, actually) and the elemental was all underwater, but I don't hate my PCs quite enough to do that to them yet, so it was in knee-deep water (considerably more on the Small PCs). I make up for it later, don't worry. As is, Wilhelm couldn't manage to turn the ghoul, but it was more than happy to paralyze him. Elden tried another elevator, only to have it start to collapse on him...at least until the Gibbler blew it open with his new wand of shatter.

The party ascended, past the howling face at to the room where Jhessala and Talindra had a grappling match. The walls were honeycombed with holes, and a narrow beam was suspended 10ft over a pit of grapefruit-size iron balls (and the jokes rolled in). They sent the rogue across, tying a rope to her in case they needed to pull her back. She set off the trap, and was pelted with a shower of iron balls (the jests continued apace). I determined the beam was attached to a pressure plate on the far side and underneath, which would trigger once any substantial amount of weight was put on it past the 15ft mark. Violet swung underneath the beam... and was promptly attacked by the grick that lived in the balls (you would not believe the grief I got for putting a tentacled monstrosity in a room full of balls). The wee halfling lass was overwhelmed and pulled to safety. They finally sent Elden forward, under the total defense action, to inspect the door on the far side. His mighty halfling strength was unable to mar it with the first two strikes, and the balls were getting good attack rolls, so they finally decided to lower themselves to ball-level (I can't make this up!) and went grick hunting. As I recall, they didn't quite have the coordination to magic weapon Wilhelm's greataxe, so it was the Gibbler and his magic missile bees that brought down the monster.

Then came the ghost, a former teenager named Alastor Land. He'd run away from home, and was killed by the ball trap. He asked the party to take his bones and bury them in the family plot. In return, he would open the door that led into the tomb. They promised to do so, but asked him to open the door now. He politely refused, by which I mean to say, he activated his horrific appearance and dealt out some nasty ability damage. Overall, Alastor was being played as a selfish, petulant child, and the PCs were being very much jerkish.

The PCs decamped to the fountain chamber, sending Elden and Xena to bury the bones (since they had the best move speed). He did so, but noticed several pertinent facts. Firstly, the house itself was in ruins. Second, the rest of the bodies in the family plot had been dug up. Lastly, OWLBEAR! RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN!

Retrieving the other PCs, they set a trap for the owlbear, destroying most of its hp with readied actions. Then it got within full attack range of Wilhelm and went to town. Fortunately, Violet was on hand to deliver the killing blow just as it drew Wilhelm into a grapple. They discovered a severed arm that Violet recognized as belonging to a member of Balabar Smenk's gang of miscreants, led by the half-orc Kullen (Smenk is a corrupt, monopolistic mine manager who wears bad cologne. Seriously.) They also found a a baby owlbear, who they sold to the Emporium for a pretty penny, as opposed to the slightly more moral act of selling it to the Bronze Lodge of Rangers (the Emporium paid more!)

Returning to Diamond Lake, they sold off a bunch of miscellaneous loot to Allustan. They confronted Kullen's gang, but with an eye for diplomacy. I was shocked, utterly shocked, when they dealt with Kullen and co. fairly (okay, paid him large sums of money for laconic answers). Wilhelm flirted a bit with Tirra, getting demolished in a knife-throwing contest. The Gibbler's player was half-asleep by this point, so we can forgive him for not doing strange and unnatural things with his cantrips. Or was that because Elden was grappling him? I forget.

They found out from Kullen that he and his gang had been asked by Smenk to help situate a necromancer named Filge in the Old Observatory overlooking town. Filge had sent them to dig up graves for corpses, and Kullen and co. encountered a pair of owlbears. The gang got out with one casualty, killing one owlbear and wounding the other.

So now, the party descended on the Old Observatory, cleaving their way through some skeletons (Wilhelm, curiously enough, also had the Sun domain). He wasn't able to wipe out all of Filge's undead guardians like Orrusk was, but he also didn't roll nearly as well. Filge himself was double-teamed by the halflings, with a paladin on one side and a rogue on the other. Poor bastard never had a chance. Still better off than when Jhessala grappled him, though.

There was much looting of Filge's tower, including his spellbook and one of the party's first permanent magical items (amulet of natural armor +1), as well as a jar containing a segmented green worm and a note from Smenk to Filge, with Smenk saying something about cultists in Dourstone Mine. They returned the Land bones and headed back to the Whispering Cairn and the true tomb.

Once inside, they were ambushed by a pair of Wind Warriors, who blasted them with lines of sonic energy and then closed to melee. Aramil and Violet were both very low on hit points before the warriors were destroyed. They then examined the mosaics on the wall, depicting the Great War between Law as represented by the Vaati, ancient air elemental beings, and Chaos, with the Queen of Chaos and Miska the Wolf-Spider foremost. It recounted the forging of the Staff of Law, its use against the Wolf-Spider and its splintering, becoming the Rod of Seven Parts.

Opening the sarcophagus with Zosiel's name, they plundered away. Among the treasures was an inactive talisman of the sphere, a circlet granting a +1 perfection bonus to Wisdom, a chaos-steel amulet granting a +1 anarchic bonus to Charisma and a set of red, black-tipped demon horns. They sold the last to Allustan, and equipped the rest. I tallied experience, with the party making 3rd level at the end of the first (admittedly very long) session.

No PC deaths.
One PC helpless next to an enemy for 1 full round. Would have been a death if the ghoul used coup-de-grace.
At least four PCs dropped to 0 or into negatives (Elden in the beetle fight, Aramil in the second beetle fight, Violet by the grick's full attack, either Aramil or Violet from a Wind Warrior sonic blast. They are both delicate flowers.)

DM Commentary, now with extra tangents!
I ran The Whispering Cairn without much adjustment, besides what's listed below. The only reason the Great War between Law and Chaos spilled onto the Fields of Pesh was because of the meddling of Varaz mages, but the PCs don't really need to know that detail.

As for the spell thematics on the Gibbler: I tend to use magic missile as the defining spell for a arcane caster's theme. The Gibbler's is bees; Filge's, if he'd had a chance to cast it, would have been skull-headed syringes. The mage in Kullen's gang would have had disembodied teeth.

The sarcophagus was originally surrounded by seven lanterns, two of which are missing, and only one of which is lit. The sarcophagus is movable, with whatever lantern it points at, activating the corresponding elevator. These facts are not all contained in one simple paragraph in the adventure. I had to read through the adventure at least three times to get this information. If it so throughly mystifies me, I figure the PCs have no change (especially since the sarcophagus is only recognizable as an arrow from above). Ergo, all elevators were always active. The lanterns control a trap leading to the true tomb, but, as mentioned, I've never really gotten the hang of traps, so the roaring face of the cairn remained unsprung on my PCs.

Between the ghoul encounter, where I had to consciously decide not to coup de grace the Sun domain cleric, the overuse of glitterdust in two more campaigns, and certain events in the next session (a sleep spell and a bad save), I decided to start hitting battlefield control with a nerf bat. Every spell or ability that utterly screws the player over (can't take standard actions or inflicts a miss chance [blindness], allows a save every round as a full-round action, as hold person, to break free. If nothing else, it makes evocation a little more attractive.

A word on turning: we were using a damaging turning variant (1d6/Cleric level, Will half), but I stupidly decided to have it just be a burst of positive energy, healing living creatures and harming undead, regardless of allegiance. This was, I learned, a mistake. I wasn't truly aware of how bad it was until the climatic encounter of the second session, but this is why I'm fuzzy on who went into negatives, because Wilhelm would just burst and fully heal everyone.

Originally, the circlet was a +2 enhancement bonus to Wisdom, and there was no amulet. I decided to even the treasure out a little bit, and keep it relevant through the entire campaign.

So, that was the first session and adventure. As I mentioned, the party is still one encounter away from the end of Three Faces of Evil, so it'll be two sessions and just short of an adventure next update.

I happily accept comments/questions/war stories. Anyone else inflicted this on their players?

EDIT: -ite is a perfectly reasonable ending for worshipers of a deity who's name ends in -sh! Curse the interword profanity filter!

2009-04-12, 05:20 PM
Interesting, I too am running this, and my group is about halfway through "Encounter at Blackwall Keep". I have some questions about how you plan to run some aspects of the campaign, want to chat in PMs? Or if you don't have time, that's cool, I'm just trying to muddle through some of the oddities in the plot.

Looks like my group is playing it quite differently from your group. Kinda feel like writing up their adventures now, but I don't want to intrude on your thread. I only have 3 actual players, and they like gestalt, so it's 3 gestalt PCs and a DMPC to fill a couple of holes/provide support. As a result, I've had to tweak a few badguys to make them a bit nastier, to make up for the added power of the gestalt classes.

2009-04-12, 06:39 PM
I gotta say I thoroughly enjoyed reading your journal! I'm looking forward for more to come :)

2009-04-12, 07:15 PM
Good read. I'm interested in running either this or Legacy of Fire once I finish Second Darkness. Interested to see how it goes for you.

2009-04-18, 03:13 PM
Epinephrine: go ahead and add in your party's exploits. It's not like the thread is jumping...

Well, after three sessions, my part has finally made its way through Three Faces of Evil. I figured I'd post by session to break up the wall of text into more manageable bits.

Three Faces of Evil (Dungeon #125): The PCs, having found a note mentioning an evil cult in the underlevels of Dourstone Mine, decide to investigate. Inside, they encounter the Ebon Triad, a cult dedicated to merging Hextor, Erythnul and Venca into a single Overgod. Battle ensues.

The Playtest Group: Prelude and Hextor
3rd level
Shockingly, the entire party had something resembling Stealth skills. And they rolled absurdly well. The party got extremely lucky at the Hextorite temple, mowing down all the cultists (Cleave), skeletons (Sun Domain) and Tiefling fighters (grappling) before they could flee and sound the alarm. Not walking through the obvious double doors, they went through side passages, cutting down the remaining tieflings and priests in a room to room battle, with one set of enemies arriving as soon as the last was dispatched. Jhessala got taken out of the action for one round from Theldrick's hold person. Then she grappled him, and it was less epic fight and more 'gather around the flat-footed individual and beat the living daylights out of him. They didn't even fight the dire boar, just jammed the lock. Not resting, they grabbed the key to the temple of Erythnul and proceeded apace.

The Player Group: Prelude and Nunatii (god of fiends; transposed for Hextor)
3rd level
Having read the adventure hook note late at the end of the last session, the players drew some improper conclusions. First, they approached Ragnolin Dourstone, the mine owner, telling him that he might have zombies in the mines (the note mentions zombies in the hills, and that Smenk stole the worm from the cultists. I have no idea where they got the impression that there were zombies in the mines). He politely told them he'd look into it, and the PCs left, as Dourstone made wrote himself a memo to inform the cultists of possible intruders.

They then informed Smenk that they'd killed his necromancer friend and asked how he'd gotten a-hold of the green worm in a jar (something the adventure explains very poorly). Some frantic lying on my party had Smenk admitting that he'd been supplying the cult, but that they were now threatening his life. He told them about the secret entrance he'd been using to deliver supplies (since it was obvious the PCs weren't going to enter the mine and use that entrance).

Coincidentally, the secret entrance delivered them to the exact same place as the entrance from the mine. They encountered two bored tiefling sentries, who, between the party's action advantage and a lucky critical from Aramil's longbow, died before they could alert the temple of Nunatii. Girding their loins (and looting the area), the PCs decided that the temple that posted sentries would be most likely to come to the aid of another, and plunged forward.

Entering without the correct knock sent a particular skeleton to answer the door...one attached to a bell-pull. Alarms went off throughout the temple. This wasn't the original set-up, but I hate my PCs, and the playtest had taught me that this temple was much less interesting if taken piecemeal. The skeletons, cultists and tieflings were so much cannon fodder. I didn't actually have the tieflings use their darkness ability, if only to speed up combat (that, and my PCs would kill me if I put them in another fight in darkness. They had bad experiences in the Underdark).

With warning time, the cultists, locked the side passage and blockaded it. The DC 30 lock was not inconsiderable at that point, and the larger folks would have had serious trouble getting through. Aramil takes the opportunity to fill some of his unassigned spell-slots. They open the door to the dire boar's pen, with the boar and Elden charging each other. It put up a vicious fight, reducing both Elden and Wilhelm to single digit hit points, but was ultimately put down.


After nearly an hour, the PCs open the double doors leading into the main temple, a sandy arena ringed with a balcony. Every remaining enemy is waiting there for the PCs, albeit without readied actions. There's only so long one can hold an action, after all. Seeing the opposition, Wilhelm simply closes the door.

Laughter, buff spells (on both sides) and grappling hook preparation later, the PCs burst in. A sleep spell takes a tiefling and a sub-priest out of the fight (I begin to loath battlefield control), and Wilhelm ends up on the balcony with everyone else below with ranged weapons and spells. The high priest summons a fiendish dire ape, but Elden readies a charge. One charging, smite evil, lance critical later, the ape returns to hell.

After the mooks are cleared out, the PCs are having serious problems even hitting the high priest's AC, let alone working through all of his hit points. Grenade-like weapons feature prominently, and Wilhelm gets reduced to minimal hit points frequently (I love you, divine favor). Thanks to the positive energy bursts that turning has become, the fight is artificially prolonged to maybe three times its normal length. With more of the PCs on the balcony, the high priest retreats to a corner, with Wilhelm, Elden and Violet trying to get into melee. At this point, I realize that the high priest can produce negative energy bursts. He does so, dropping Violet into the negatives. I finally realize how ridiculous this turning variant is, and drop it. The high priest endures for four rounds at two hit points, tearing apart his unused scrolls and other actions of general bastardry. They finally manage to drop him, loot the temple and encamp.

PCs killed: 0
PCs dropped to negatives: Xena (Elden's mount), Violet.
PCs fearing for their life on a round by round basis: Elden, Wilhelm.

The Hextorite temple is just vicious. I've had multiple party wipes when the tieflings rolled particularly well, especially in darkness (I always seem to roll the number I want for miss chances). I actually only changed their alarm system to actually make sense. Formerly, one of the mooks from the first set of rooms has to escape in order to alert the rest of the temple. Now, if you're an intruder, you're going to alert the temple unless you have some really clever scheme (subdue one of the tiefling sentries and use detect thoughts). The sleep spell was ridiculously effective, but the effectiveness of battlefield control just screws over evocation, and I've always been a fan of the blasty. Ergo, the changes mentioned in last week's commentary.

That wraps up one wing of the complex. I'll try to get the other two up later this weekend. Next: the Temple of Erythnul (Ashur; either way, god of slaughter).

EDIT: If you're enjoying reading this, please let me know? My self-esteem is a delicate, delicate thing...:smalltongue:

2009-04-18, 05:35 PM
EDIT: If you're enjoying reading this, please let me know? My self-esteem is a delicate, delicate thing...:smalltongue:


A very interesting read indeed. I was wondering if the Heal People variant of Turn Undead targetted the cleric as well.

p.s. I'd like to see you elaborate more on 'other actions of general bastardry' puh-lease :smalltongue:

2009-04-18, 06:14 PM
Forgot to mention this, but it applies to the whole adventure. Compared to the usual, the editing of this adventure falls well below the Dungeon standard. They don't mention how many cultists there are (8, rederiving it from the EL), calculate the cultist damage wrong, calculate the damage wrong for the second grimlock barbarian (which, if it was right, would have meant deaths among the PCs).

The positive energy burst also healed the cleric. I have no idea what I was thinking when I introduced it. It's gone now. The damaging turning variant (harms or heals undead) isn't nearly so bad, at least at its heart. Orrusk has shown the absurdity of it at high levels, though. With optimization from multiple sources, his regular turnings deal 17d6 with Will for half at 10th level. Thank goodness not all the big bads are undead.

On general bastardry: taunting Wilhelm about the weakness of his god, destroying his unused limited use items, beating people who are not the party tank about the head and shoulders with a flail...classic villainy stuff.

Part two of Three Faces of Evil coming soon (as soon as I finish writing it. I am lazy...)

2009-04-18, 07:24 PM
Stupid Theldrick and his stupid AC. I had to roll a 17 to hit him, and I was rolling especially poorly that night anyway.

As for the wrong conclusion about the notes, I blame Tam's handwriting and an overdose of caffeine.

2009-04-18, 08:21 PM
Thanks, fun to read how another group handled things. Closing the door is pretty much exactly how my group ended up dealing with the temple too...

2009-04-19, 02:53 AM
Right. Wing number two, Erythnul and/or Ashur. Either way, CE god of slaughter. The caves are filled with Grimlocks. I mentioned earlier that my PCs have been horribly scarred by darkness effects, mainly because they decided the Underdark was safer than the post-Zombie Apocalypse surface. I recall at least three fights fought under magical darkness, none of which went particularly well. That, combined with my incredible luck with concealment, means that neither group really got to experience the full terror of stumbling around caves without light. They got off easy.

Playtest group:
3rd level, haven't rested yet.
Jhessala: half-elf Ranger-Warlock
Orrusk: half-orc Fighter-Cleric
Talindra: elf Druid-Bard

Fairly unremarkable. The party doesn't have any problems with the initial Grimlocks. The archers are badly outclassed by Jhessala's eldritch blasts and Talindra's bow skills. The crazed grimlock barbarian dual wielding daggers pounces on them from above, but manages to roll absolute piss. In contrast, the party flanks and ganks her fairly quickly, consider the whole massive hit points bit.

They miss the chokers entirely and are drawn into a long fight with most of the unclassed grimlocks and the chieftain (another barbarian, whose weapon damage is calculated improperly, though I don't realize it at the time). The chieftain strikes a few rounds in, meaning it's Talindra who catches a few swings from a raging barbarian with a greataxe. As an elf, she goes under easily (considering she's also getting Con score to hp). Her leopard companion drags the barbarian into a grapple, which is the only thing that saved her hide. Much cleaving through the grimlock hordes later, as well as several chugged potions, and the party moves on to confront the high priest of Ashur.

What followed was a counter-match between the grimlock cleric with sonic and Trickery spells and a bard-druid. Sound burst verses countersong. Invisibility verses faerie fire. Eventually, a lucky eldritch blast dropped the high priest. With suicidal determination, the party looted the area, grabbed the key to the temple of Vecna and soldiered on.

3rd level, and freshly rested
Wilhelm, human cleric of Kurush
Violet, halfling rogue
Aramil, elf wizard
Elden, halfling paladin and his war-dog mount, Xena
The Gibbler, gnome sorcerer
The party gets off to a strong start, mauling the first two grimlocks that spring out of ambush and try to douse their light sources. The party wises up, and between three full casters, produce some light effects.They proceed down the winding tunnel, Wilhelm in front, leading into another cave. At which point this
leaps out of the darkness and rolls unnaturally high on all four attacks. In one round, Wilhelm, cleric-tank extraordinaire, goes from nearly full hit points to dying. Aramil hauls Wilhelm to safety and forces a potion down his throat while Elden, in a role reversal, plays the tank instead of charging.

A pair of grimlock archers, perched on a ledge above a sheer drop, plink away at the party, while the party realizes that they don't have a dedicated ranged specialist, especially since the Gibbler and Aramil are rightly reluctant to blow their spells on only two opponents. The grimlocks get a few good shots in before dropping, forcing the party to spend quite a few charges from their wand of cure light wounds.

The party descends, eventually forcing their way into a particularly cramped tunnel, where Wilhelm, having not learned his lesson, is still on point. He receives a raging, dual-dagger wielding grimlock barbarian to the face. Oh, and would you look at that? Multiple critical threats and confirmations! Fortunately, the damage was spread out a bit compared to the raptor, and Wilhelm has Elden at his back, prodding him with the wand of curing. They actually sat there, trading blows, until the barbarian's rage wore off and she got split in two.

At this point, we broke for the night, and came back to the adventure a week later. During this time, we added another character, and Wilhelm was determined to not have much a future, so he was ret-conned into only having helped during the first adventure. Meanwhile, another character joined the party.
The revised roster:
Violet, halfling rogue
Aramil, elf wizard
Elden, halfling paladin and his war-dog mount, Xena
The Gibbler, gnome sorcerer
Kerreul, N human fighter/martial rogue/ranger. He likes the feats overmuch. A worshiper of Olanorn, True Neutral god of battle and competition.
Rianan, N elf cloistered cleric of Olanorn. Has a spiked chain and an utterly absurd disarm modifier.

With these ret-cons in place, the party proceeded to get mobbed by grimlocks, with the grimlock chieftain barbarian and two raptors making up the reinforcements several rounds in. As I've lamented already, the chieftain's damage was calculated wrong. He was doing 1d12+6 damage in a rage with a greataxe and Str 22, instead of 1d12+9. It may seem trivial, but the chieftain was almost always hitting, and dropped both Kerreul and Elden into the single digits. The raptors didn't roll nearly as well, but now they weren't being forced to attack the party tank, instead ripping apart the tender flesh of rogues, cloistered clerics and wizards. After some shifting, Rianan wound up disarming the chieftain, and forcing him to resort to his belt dagger. Elden scrambled frantically for healing (greataxes hurt...) and Violet took down one of the raptors thanks to flanking from Aramil. Eventually, Kerreul dropped the other raptor and the poor innocent chieftain was disarmed of his dagger. With no other option, he catches Rianan in a grapple and prepares to tear her apart.

And then his rage wears off, and he drops dead. Overall, an invigorating fight. Violet, Kerruel and the Gibbler begin to loot the living chambers and the raptor pen, while Aramil, Rianan and Elden explore another chamber, leading them straight into the high priest and his retainers. The longspears of the Grimlocks and the general lack of PCs spells prolong the encounter, but ultimately, the wall of reach weapons and readied actions is broken. The grimlock priest's terrible spell selection means that the fight isn't nearly as bad as the temple of Nunatii (Hextor), and the fight is relatively uneventful.

An extra helping of looting (including troll-gut rope!), and the party rests again, leveling up to 4th in the process. Everyone proceeds in their classes, with three notable exceptions. Violet takes a level of wizard, Elden takes a level of fighter and Kerreul advances martial rogue (I believe). Characters are starting to take shape, with people starting to consider prestige classes.
Violet: Arcane trickster
Aramil: still undecided; arcane archer was a consideration (albeit with 6/10 casting progression tacked on).
Elden: halfling outrider, followed by cavalier
The Gibbler: favored soul and mystic theurge, I believe.
Kerreul: pious templar
Rianan: straight cleric, so far as I know.

Changes to the module:
For the players, I had the first two grimlocks encountered have fighter levels (using the kennelmaster's stats, for the curious), and trimmed some extenuous encounters (cutting the original kennelmaster and the bridge fight with three regular grimlocks). I replaced the CR 1 krenshars with CR 3 deinonychusi (what is the proper plural for that?), if only to make the temple of Ashur equivalent to Nunatii's in danger.

Without modification, the temple of Ashur is the least interesting, with the environmental difficulties not nearly making up for the reduced CRs. Honestly, light is a cantrip/orison. Destroying lanterns and torches isn't nearly enough. If you want effective fights in concealment, give creatures the darkness spell (albeit modified so it doesn't create shadowy illumination; honestly, what were they thinking?)

Overall, I believe the raptors made much more of an impression than the high priest, eyes sewn into his empty sockets and all.

A word on the 15-minute adventuring day: the PCs are definitely facing their requisite five encounters per day, they just happen to be very concentrated. At this level, too, it isn't the wizard that controls the party's pace, but the cleric. The PCs are just getting knocked about much worse than the playtest group, and they've only got one healer and two wands for six people, as opposed to two healers for three (four, really, including the animal companion). The playtest group is Ironmanning, while the players are taking it at a more reasonable rate.

Next, the temple of Tykanria (goddess of secrets; replaces Vecna) and the most extensive modifications made to the module yet. I replace a maze with an abstraction! Poor wizard spell selections are inexcusable! Nearly fifty charges of healing burned! All in the next update!

2009-04-19, 07:37 PM
Tam fails to play up how much that extra three damage mattered on the Grimlock Chief. Elden and Kerrul were both under three positive at one point (And would have been unconscious next to the Barb), and IIRC, someone who got hit by the axe was at -8 due to bleeding. The poor editing cost Tam at least one kill sticker for his DM screen. Lucky us.:smallbiggrin:

Oh, and I hate those freaking raptors.

That sums up my feelings on this section of the temple.

2009-05-04, 09:06 PM
This is not an update, sadly. This is a placeholder until finals week finishes and I have time to post the next update. Apologies for lagging behind!

2009-05-04, 09:40 PM
But... I thought it was a long-waited update! :(

-A (not quite anonymous) fan of the Campaign Journal

2009-05-05, 11:04 AM
Question for you, Tam: (spoilers about campaign)
How do you think your group will handle the end encounter with the Mind Flayer in Hall of Harsh Reflections? I am running this now, and I can't see how the party can possibly survive. The DC on his Mind Blast is an absurdly high DC23. The strong Will save in the party belongs to the monk, who has around a +12, the others vary but the lowest is the melee, who comes in at around +5. A single blast could take out the whole party for 3d4 rounds, easily enough to pretty much TPK them. And if anyone survives the first blast, he can just hit them again with it.

Is it just me, or is the fight grossly unfair?
The party are likely level 8 or possibly 9, against a Mind Flayer/Sorceror7 (CR 15??) and two Octopins (CR 6 each)
Even a non-sorceror Mind Flayer with no increased attributes is a CR 8 foe, making it an EL 10 encounter with the 2 octopins. I suspect I'll drop him to this level of difficulty, since even a DC 17 will save is hard to make, and could cost the party a member or two easily in a fight.

I get the feeling that the authors didn't realise how difficult this would be, as they label the fight an EL 11

2009-05-05, 02:19 PM
I"m very sorry, Salt_Crow. But I've got 25 pages to churn out by Friday, so unless it shows up as one of my procrastination methods...which is actually fairly likely. Hope for lack of motivation on my part!

Epinephrine, about that:
Zyrxog is a ridiculous fight, but he shows up twice, so the PCs have no excuse not to be prepared when they invade his base. The first fight with the drow and him (for the playtest), he mind blasted, stunning two of the party, and plane shifted away, leaving Jhessala to protect the other two from the drow.

I'd definitely let your PCs get ahold of something that gives temporary immunity to psionics; Baldur's Gate 2 had Illithid Brine Potions, and you can buy anything in the Free City, right? Set it at something like 1000-2000gp a pop, and only staying fresh for a few days, but giving immunity to psionic stun for a few hours. The second time, Talindra again failed the save, but Orrusk made it and held off the Octopins while Jhessala dimension doored and grappled Zyrxog.

I'd throw in a self-imposed limit on mind blasts (once/encounter), but that's just me. Remember that it's a cone and the PCs can get out of the way if they spread out quickly enough. Stunned isn't helpless, though it's darn close. In any case, that means no coup de grace attempts. For the actual play group, it'll be less problematic because of one of our house rules: any effect that takes away control or reduces actions of your character allows a save every round, a la hold person.

But no disputing the lethality of that adventure: the first playtest death was against those bloody octopins.

2009-05-05, 03:07 PM
Thanks Tam - I may have to do something like that item. You're absolutely right that they know what they are going up against, and they've been pretty clever. Putting a limit (like a breath weapon, even) on its uses would rein it in a lot.

Mindarmour is a +3,000gp enhancement for armour, and its permanent; one could come up with a temporary version cheaply enough I suppose - and a typeless +5 bonus on Will saves as an immediate action is certainly a big help.

They might be able to pay for a Greater or Superior Resistance as well. With +8 to +11 on a roll it's a lot less scary. Thanks!

2009-05-18, 06:54 PM
Right, here I go again, after two weeks and dropping to page 6.

Wing number three: Vecna and/or Tykanria, god/goddess of secrets. Here we run into a problem. I tend to play wizards as prepared for everything. Not in terms of spell selection, but in shaping their environment. My personal maxim for wizards: if the wizard doesn't want to have an encounter with you, you're not going to have an encounter. But this is a pre-made adventure, and the Faceless One is the listed encounter, so...

A digression on wizard intelligence: At absolute maximum, I have an Int of 15, real world. The Faceless One, as an example, has an Int of 22. There is no way I can accurately predict all the contingencies he has in place. A very loose rule I'd follow is that a wizard (or other high Int character) has a number of tricks equal to their Int mod. I'll define a trick as anything that could conceivable be replicated with an action point (or more accurately, a Plot Point from the Serenity RPG, which were slightly more powerful). Wizards never fight fair, and the best counterspell is a knife between the shoulder-blades.

This marks the first major divergence between the playtest group and the actual players. The playtest group went through the temple of Vecna as written. It wasn't nearly hard enough for them--actually, scratch, that. It was plenty hard, but it wasn't particularly interesting. No environmental challenges to overcome, just knockdown, drag-out fights. The players, on the other hand...well, we'll get to them soon enough.

The playtest group:
Jhessala, CG half-elf Ranger 3--Warlock 3
Orrusk, LG half-orc Fighter 3--Cleric 3
Talindra, NG elf Bard 3--Druid 3
Silvermaw, wolf animal companion
First off: I have tried to run the labyrinth twice: once as a part of the adventure path, and once just yoinking the map for another adventure. It didn't end well either time, trying to balance PC understanding of the map, tracking four enemy groups, elf senses and secret doors, and so on. I especially didn't want to self-inflict it upon myself, so I just ran through an abstraction. Effectively, the kenkus and weasels took 11 on their attacks, were assumed to get a few surprise rounds off, and then got annihilated. PCs lost hit points, gained a metric ton of gear. While doing this, I remembered that the walls were almost as much as a hindrance to the ambushers as the ambushees.

After making it out of the labyrinth, I went entirely by the listed tactics for the Faceless Ones and his apprentices. I made the assumption that the temple of Vecna protected the apprentices from the allip muttering, because it otherwise didn't make much sense out of combat. Jhessala was hypnotized and poked for Wisdom drain (down to 6, which explains what happened next). The apprentices drank their potions of gaseous form and floated oh so slowly away at 10ft per move action, with Orrusk ripping at their heels with Kullen's magical greataxe. Talindra just pumped cure spells into the allip until it crumbled. One apprentice finally made it in to warn the Faceless One, and he and his started downing potions and firing off buff spells. He's just starting to summon a huge fiendish centipede when Jhessala and Orrusk open the two doors of the chamber. Jhessala tackles him, in her mentally deficient state, and just beats the living daylights out of him while Orrusk and the wolf rip the apprentice mages to pieces. Wizards without a meat-shield, it should be noted, are easily ripped to pieces.

After looting the place, and still not resting (still! They cleared out all three wings without resting once! Sure, they used a lot of wand charges, but bardsongs lasted for a long time, and it wasn't like Jhessala was going to run out of eldritch blasts...), the party returned to the dark cathedral, and watched the six-armed Ebon Aspect rise from the pool of darkness. Jhessala still hasn't got her Wisdom back, so charging is the order of the day. Even joined by Orrusk and the wolf, it doesn't go well. The thing has DR/magic, so the wolf is useless. It has ten bloody hit dice, so Jhessala and Orrusk are having trouble dropping it quickly. Oh, and it has four attacks, all in the mid-teens. The wolf is killed fairly quickly, Jhessala knocked unconscious soon after. Talindra drags her back and brings her into the positives, but then has to keep pumping healing into Orrusk to keep him upright.

If it was Rules As Written, it would have been a party wipe. But I've always favored the Rule of Cool over that, so... Talindra starts burning five charges from a wand of Cure Light Wounds to get Cure Moderates, and Jhessala picks up a bow and imbues it with her eldritch blast so it can pierce the Ebon
Aspect's DR. But in any case, first potential TPK (well, second, after the whole Hextorite temple) has been noted. The group makes it back to town, and sleeps for a week, leveling up to sixth. Jhessala enters the Complete Mage prestige class for good-aligned warlocks: Enlightened Soul, or somesuch. Orrusk enters Radiant Servant, from Complete Divine. Talindra keeps progressing in her two classes, aiming for Sublime Chord.

Module changes:
The combination of the labyrinth and the utter atrocity of the Faceless One's spell selection (lighting bolt and summon monster 3?) compelled me to heavily revise this wing. The labyrinth was replaced by an open, mist-covered cavern, with the mist being half-strength obscuring mist. The cavern itself was technically a demi-plane of Tykanria, and infinite from side to side, about twenty feet high, and a finite but undefined distance from entrance to the temple proper. Worshipers of Tykanria could see non-worshipers with a long-range deathwatch: I imagined it similar to how Left 4 Dead shows you your team-mates outlined in green, purple, yellow or red.

The temple proper was composed of a single large chamber, subdivided into three parts by pillars and wrought-iron gates, whose control levers were located on the interior. A storage chamber and bunkroom for the apprentices were located to the sides, while the Faceless One's bedroom and alchemical chamber were located at the far end. The apprentices had their wealth redistributed, and had 10 charge wands of magic missile rather than a laundry list of potions. The Faceless One stayed an evoker/conjurer, but with fireball instead of lightning bolt.

I prepared two versions of the Ebon Aspect: unchanged, if the PCs confronted it immediately after defeating the Faceless One, and with the half-black dragon template, if they decided to rest first (the line of acid being pitch squirted from the eye of Nunatii). Consider it encouragement to not rest repeatedly.

The Party:
Violet, halfling rogue 3/wizard 1
Aramil, elf wizard 4
Elden, halfling paladin 4 and his war-dog mount, Xena
The Gibbler, gnome sorcerer 4
Kerreul, N human fighter/martial rogue (I think; no clue on his levels)
Rianan, N elf cloistered cleric 4 of the war-god Olanorn.
The party, confronted with the mist-filled chamber, decided to attach a rope to Elden and Xena and send them into the mist. The kenkus were appreciative of being given so wonderful a gift, and pincushioned both dog and rider, after cutting the rope a hundred feet in. With the rope slack, the party charged to the rescue, leaving the Gibbler toddling on behind them, dreading the inevitable ambush. Unfortunately, all the kenkus were busy fighting the rest of the party, and the dire weasels were temporarily forgotten, so the gnome got to live.

With the rest of the party arriving on the scene, the kenkus fled, losing a few of their number in the process. The party then decided to follow the east wall, rather than get lost in the mist. Recall, please, that I said the demiplane was infinite in that direction. The kenkus, using their mimicry ability, replicated the sound of Theldrick chanting, drawing the PCs away from the wall and into a bead from the leader's necklace of fireballs. An attack followed, with the PCs killing a few more, put taking heavy damage in the process. This process repeated itself twice more, with the PCs taken more and more precautions and burning charge after charge from their wands of cure light wounds (I believe every single member of the party dropped into negatives at least once during these encounters). The weasels also attacked, latching on, but removed before they could drain any Constitution. Finally, the PCs manged to take out all the members of the ambush party, catching the leader in a web spell and lighting it on fire (after Kerruel stole its beret, that is).

After some experimentation, the party march forward with the will to find the door deeper into the temple, and come across a huge pair of brass doors. They force them open, and are confronted with an allip in the face and three mages with wands of magic missile behind iron grilles. The hypnotism slows the party down, but after some doling out of magic weapon, the allip is destroyed (after failing at anything resembling a touch attack. It rolled above a five once, when it drained two wisdom from Elden). The Gibbler, in between trading magic missiles, tosses his wand of shatter to violet, who uses it to open the gates for an enlarged Kerruel. With their defenses breached, the first line begins to fall back, the second line begins firing, and the Faceless One becomes cognate of the attack and starts casting buff spells.

As the PCs finish off the last of the first line of defense, the Faceless One emerges (mage armored, mirror imaged, false lifed, shielded, etc) and begins his summoning of the huge fiendish centipede. He follows this with a fireball, at which point Kerruel is in his (lack of a) face. Rather than try to overcome my luck with percentiles, he just closes the door and holds it shut. The fireball has done major damage to the party, and they still haven't finished off the last of the apprentices. Elden is doing an excellent job of distracting the centipede with his smite evil and taunts, though. The Faceless One slips through the secret passage from bedroom to alchemist chamber and throws open the door...but he's very short on offensive spells, and is left with no choice but to read his scroll of summon monster 3. He throws out his magic missiles, realizes he's out of spells, sees his apprentices dead, and his second summoned centipede start to fade, rapidly running out of mirror images (the PCs have picked up the wands and using them to destroy the images) and in general screwed. The Faceless One throws down a color spray, stunning Elden (but not Xena), and flees into his secret passage, unobserved by anyone but Xena.

The party spends a considerable amount of time trying to find him, finding the secret passage but not the secret passage within the secret passage. In any case, after much raging and searching, they loot the area, read the note left by the Faceless One for Theldrick, and return to the Dark Cathedral for one hell of a fight with the Ebon Aspect.

The DR/magic means that only the melee line can hit it. The SR 16 and the blessing of Vecna (Tykanria) mean that the casters don't want to cast on it, for fear of healing it. So it comes to a brutal brawl. And the Ebon Aspect is much better at brawling. It summons a spiritual weapon and sets it after Aramil and the Gibbler, only hitting half the time, but ripping them to bloody shreds nevertheless. Against all odds, Xena manages to trip the Ebon Aspect. It stands up, triggering a round of AoOs, and activates the Fury of Erthynul (Ashur), gaining fast healing, DR/epic and +4 attack and damage for a round. Luckily for the PCs, it spends the attack on Xena, dropping her into negatives, and keeping the melee-types upright for another round. At which point, they finally manage to bloody drop it. They rejoice, level (borrowing XP against their next encounters), and prepare for the next session.

And I have to leave the computer lab. More later!

2009-05-19, 07:16 AM
Fun! I like the tweak to the labyrinth; I ran it as a labyrinth and it got horribly bogged down - even with a separate copy of a battlemap for me to move the enemy around on. I too felt that the Faceless one was pretty horribly designed, and since the party were gestalt, the Faceless One was their first really tough gestalt opponent.

Looking forward to more :)

2009-05-23, 12:45 PM
It is I Eldon, who have finally got on the Forums. that is all. cake.

also in case someone is interested:
Eldon: Paly 3; fighter 2; Halfling Outrider 1.

im headed for Cavalier at 9th

Anna Molly
2009-05-23, 07:29 PM
And 'tis Rhiannon as well - and that's NG by the way. ;)

2009-05-29, 03:00 PM
We slowly approach what may appear to be a weekly update schedule. Maybe. Don't get your hopes up.

Right, so the fallout from Three Faces of Evil and Encounter at Blackwall Keep.
Summary of the adventure proper
This adventure has always struck me as very tacked on. It doesn't advance the plot, just give the PCs something to beat on as they move their base of operations from Diamond to the Free City (Deimos, for my PCs). Marzena doesn't have any real information to impart to the PCs, she just points them at Eligos. On the other hand, the adventure does introduce Ilthane and give the PCs of a broader spread of the worms... But other than that foreshadowing, not much.

Anyway, Allustan travels with the party to Blackwall Keep, where they find it under siege by lizardfolk. Allustan teleports away to warn the Diamond Lake garrison, leaving the PCs to break the siege. After doing so, the PCs follow the trail left by retreating lizardfolk deeper into the swamp, hoping to rescue the captives. They face down the evil chieftain (possibly with the aid of the shaman), and try to deal with the dragon egg Ilthane left behind, only to have it shatter into a spray of Kyuss worms.

Jumping right into the playtest:
The Party:
Jhessala, CG female half-elf Ranger 6-Warlock 6
Orrusk, NG male half-orc Fighter 6-Cleric 6
Talindra, NG female elf Bard 6-Druid 6, with her animal companion Silverclaw, a leopard.

First revision, so big I make it in the playtest: Allustan does accompany the party. Sure, it's a great bonding exercise, especially considering what's coming up in adventure number six (A Gathering of Winds). But it just doesn't make any sense. Instead, Allustan sent along a little idol that could cast a sending to him once per week.

Now, the Keep. Oh merciful heavens above. Even lacking a primary arcane caster, with only a three bead necklace of fireball (one 5 die and two 3 dice), the playtest party attacked the besieging forces head on and emerged without a scratch. This is despite the adventure saying, in plain black and white, that such an assault is suicidal. The only reason the fight lasted as long as it did was Jhessala's utter inability to land a blow on the lizardfolk druid. 7 attacks by her, and one hit.
Very sad. They learn about the captives from the survivors, are pointed in the right direction.

With a ranger, the tracking is barely worth mentioning. They butcher their way past a few random encounters, with the only noteworthy incident being a giant crocodile nearly devouring Talindra's new animal companion. They reach the lizardfolk nest, and Jhessala glories in her stealth skills and spell compendium spells (hunter's mercy + enlarged largebow + harpy = one dead harpy). She rips open the sentries (bloody surprise rounds), scouts out the whole damn lizardfolk lair (making the knowledge (nature) to identify the assassin vine), only getting spotted once, by a paltry two lizardfolk. Another brutal surprise round later, and she's hiding again.

Coincidentally, that one group getting ripped to shreds means that the party has a nearly clear shot at the chieftain. They take out the harpies and the otyugh (for completeness' sake) and try to sneak past the last band of lizardfolk...and Orrusk, in his bloody heavy armor, blows the stealth check. They note that one of the dead lizardfolk seems to have sprouted worms, but are fairly nonchalant about the whole thing.

The chieftain gets grappled, and claw/claw/bite is matched against shortsword and everyone else's attacks. Chieftain gets minced, and the party makes peace with the shaman. His common isn't too good, but he's much more erudite in Druidic. The kobolds get badly mauled, and the egg trap activates. Talindra throws down a call lightning, and the swarm gets knocked down before it can infect any of the eggs.

They return with the prisoners to the keep, realizing only then that three spawn of Kyuss now occupy the keep. Orrusk activates his Sun domain granted power, and awesome amounts of overkill ensued. I've been using the damaging turning variant (just undead, not the silly thing I tried in the actual play). It does 102 points of damage to each of them. For crying out loud, these things only have five hit dice! The party proceeds towards the Free City, having gained a single level for minimal effort. I shake my head in sadness and try to decide how to make the adventure more interesting.

Revisions to the sad wreck of an 'adventure'
I realized that the PCs don't even need the idol that the playtest group got. They're big boys and girls, they don't need an NPC holding their hands. Sure, it makes them a bit more distant from Allustan. They don't remember his name anyway (No, I'm not bitter at all).

The regular lizardfolk just aren't enough of a challenge. So I pull out my sourcebooks and find the lizardfolk I'd been thinking of: Blackscale lizardfolk. However, they're a little hefty for the PCs to take on in numbers, so I compromise. Rather than just substituting in Blackscale lizardfolk, I take the regulars, add two HD and appropriate ability modifiers, deny them reach and set them on the PCs. They were attacking at +7 (1d8+5), AC 19 and hp 24. Difficult, but manageable. And not droppable by a single fireball, more importantly. It goes without saying that every opponent, chieftain included, received this upgrade.

The numbers were somewhat decreased from their original; approximately 2/3 of their listed number. Twenty lizardmen besieged the keep, instead of the thirty, and so on.

I was going to alter the kobolds to pose more of a threat, but I ran out of time. So instead they fell like wheat before the scythe. In retrospect, giving them them two levels of dragonfire adept instead of rogue would fit better thematically. Aquatic Adaptation or Spiderclimb? Either way, more fun to run.

The Players Meet Their Match:
Violet, halfling rogue 3/wizard 2
Aramil, elf wizard 5
Elden, halfling paladin 3/fighter 2 and his war-dog mount, Xena
The Gibbler, gnome sorcerer 5
Kerreul, human fighter 2/martial rogue 2/barbarian 1
Rianan, elf cloistered cleric 5 of the war-god Olanorn.

After triumphing over the Ebon Aspect, the party withdrew into town and spent two weeks relaxing and recuperating. Kerreul managed to blackmail Balabar Smenk, the local monopolizing mine manager, into paying the party a hefty sum for removing the Ebon Triad from the mines. Upon learning of this, the party got completely skunked at the Emporium, with the Gibbler downing more Deathbrandy than Kerreul; but then again, the Gibbler also woke up dressed as a very fine lady and handcuffed to a blue hermaphroditic goat, so it was a fair trade.

It was at this point that I found the random prostitute generation table. That ended the session in a giggling fit on my part.

...and the very idea of that table is making me unable to continue. I'll finish this off when I recover...

2009-05-29, 03:20 PM
Revisions to the sad wreck of an 'adventure'

No kidding - I bumped the difficulty a ton for this one, and they still made it into a walk in the park. The adventure just doesn't fit well, either. After all, why stop at one egg? Why isn't this going on in every lizardfolk village? And the timeline doesn't make much sense.

It's funny, because the 2nd and 4th adventures are so deadly, and this one just seems wimpy.

2009-05-31, 01:59 PM
And now for the introduction of the Gibblefrootzabar, otherwize known as the Gibbler, who at this point is a 4sorc/1favored soul with 22 cha, 12 wis, & 18 con. I actually had 40ish hp @ this point, and was fairly confident in my non squishy-ness for being a sorc with a puny d4 hd. It was our desparate need of a back row healer that lead me to multiclass, too many times have we seen our melee line do the Dying beebop dance, while the casters have run completely out of spells & are thusly unable to polish off the big baddie.


Anna Molly
2009-05-31, 10:12 PM
Level up to 6....
Augmented Healing for the win.

*bows head sadly for the Gibbler*

2009-06-03, 05:53 PM
...Right. Yeah, that was about how long the random prostitute table incapacitated me for last time.

Anyway, skipping the review and jumping right in:
So, the players skip town, following advice from Allustan that the mage at Blackwall Keep, Marzena, knows more about these green worms. On the road to the keep, they pass by a few fellow travelers, but no one of note.

Because I believe in making my PCs suffer, I decided to step things up by having the lizardfolk being engaged in their final assault as the PCs drew up. Advancing behind small walls (tower shields), completely protected from arrowfire, most of the lizardfolk pay the arriving heroes no heed whatsoever. (At this point, Kerruel's player isn't available, so he's lying in the back of the cart with the goat, which is all being pulled by the mule).

A charging halfling-type and a fireball turn one five-lizard band away from attacking the keep. While the lizards get ripped into teeny tiny bitlets, all the others force their way up to the keep walls and start bludgeoning their way through, helped by a soften earth and stone spell from the lizard druid. The PCs try to draw as many as they can away from the walls, but the slaughter without can't detract from the slaughter within. So the PCs, having cleared the gate, manage to evacuate three guardsmen, while the lizards gleefully kill the remaining eleven and eat their flesh.

DM Tangent: Admission
Okay, truthfully, I hadn't expected the lizards to make it inside. But the premade had the lizardfolk druid prepare soften earth and stone, so in they went.

The PCs set up outside and decided to wait for the lizards to emerge. They did so, after ripping off doors to use as shields, and lighting the keep on fire (idiots set up a wooden foundation under the tower; that's my story and I'm sticking to it). While the lizardfolk tried vainly to withdraw, glitterdust and a halfling with ride-by attack plagued them. All in all, out of twenty lizardfolk, eleven escaped, including the druid.

The three survivors told their saviors that the first attack had resulted in several prisoners, who they saw dragged off into the swamp, instead of eaten. Coincidentally, Marzena was among those captured. (Gasp! Who could have seen this coming?) The PCs battle vainly with realism for a good hour, trying to decide whether to commit virtual suicide by trekking into the swamp without a guide.

DM Tangent: AoW and Druid/Rangers
The lack of a wilderness character has been hitting them rather hard. They've had some tough animal encounters, and they keep hitting the wall of not having a tracker. Ironically, Kerruel picks up a ranger level at the end of this adventure, once they've reached the point of never really needing tracking again.

Finally, between metagaming that I probably won't kill them with random encounters, me reminding them that this isn't Call of Cthulhu, and that they're ADVENTURERS and not namby-pamby folk who want to live to past young adulthood, they venture into the great swamp.

The party is half shortfolk, and the swamp terrain slows them by half. Fortunately, Kerruel (who's player has returned by now) has a 40ft move speed, so moving at half speed to track doesn't slow them any. (Yes, technically, they can't follow tracks at this point. But that would mean they can't complete the adventure, so I let it slide). Rather than actually make the PCs fight the two encounters per day (and I did roll all 16 of them), I decided to give them two.

First was a giant crocodile that burst from the swamp and managed to do some grievous harm to the folk in front (Kerruel and the Gibbler, predominantly) before Rianan attempted to disarm it...and rolled a natural twenty. And I quote: "Crickey!"

DM Tangent: The purpose of martial maneuvers
We can all agree (and if you don't let me know) that fighting types don't have too many options in combat. So, they way I see it, why limit them further my screwing over a particular maneuver? No, you can't disarm natural weapons, but you can tangle them up for a round. The way I ruled is that a successful disarm attempt will prevent the use of that natural weapon for the round, rolling afresh each round.

So with its maw tangled, the crocodile switches to a tail slap, which does more raw damage, but can't grapple. After some more injuries, and the Gibbler getting absolutely mauled, it sinks back under the swampwater, there to settle and fossilize and make a lovely exhibit in a museum in a few thousand years.

The brave party continues on, stumbling across a fork in the path. One continues along the lizard tracks, while the other leads to a small grove filled with statues. Adventurers being adventures, they discuss whether to investigate for ten minutes before boldly venturing into the grove. The statues are of limestone, and the acidic swamp has done severe damage to them. They actually don't immediately assume a petrifying monster, a fact of which I'm inordinately proud. After poking around for a bit, and making a wide variety of knowledge checks, they quirk their heads oddly and return to the trail.

They draw within sight of their goal, the mangrove lair of the lizards. They spot some sort of avian creature atop it, and notice several lizards patrolling the area. It comes as an immense shock to me, but the party decides to try to resolve the incident through diplomacy. Now, not all of the party speaks Draconic, but there are only two who don't. And these lizardfolk only spoke Draconic.

Shockingly, the PCs actually ask what it would take to make the lizards surrender their prisoner. The lizard sentry thinks for a minute, then says something to the effect of "Good steel that won't corrode in this swamp." Wonder of wonders, not only do the PCs listen, but Kerreul actually offers his magical axe. PCs, giving up treasure? What layer of hell have I spawned into?

DM Tangent: My PCs and role-playing
At heart, most of us (Werebear, Gameprisoner, me, Aramil's player) are all horrible, number crunching bastards. The remainder are more RP focused, but we're all D&D players. I've got non-D&D XPs, and a few of them were in a Serenity game I ran, but we're not really used to rules-light, roleplay-heavy games. A brief excursion into Shadowrun can be summed up as follows: "We came, We saw, We broke the system, We left." All in all, I think my cynicism about roleplaying in my games is well deserved. Feel free to correct me, fellow gamers.

Anyway, the lizard escorts Kerreul (who doesn't speak a word of Draconinc, mind you) into the mangrove lair. The rest of the party figures that he's going to die a horrible, horrible death, and I'm half tempted to oblige them. But I decide to be nice, and the lizardman took Kerreul to the peaceful shaman Hisska and not brutal chieftain Shukak. Hisska's actually speaks Common, albeit at a level that makes him sound like some barbaric immigrant to the Free City of Deimos.

Eventually, they work out a deal. Hisska would release the prisoners and refrain from raiding, but Shukak holds power and incites the lizards to greater brutalities. Backing up Shukak is the black dragon Ilthane the Pitch, who helped the lizard tribe out of a rough spot a few years ago. Currently, she has left an egg in the tribe's care, along with several of her servitors to guard both it and the tribe's eggs. Hisska wants to sever ties with both of them. So, if the PCs kill Shukak, break Ilthane's egg and kill all of her servitors, Hisska will release the prisoners and refrain from raiding. Kerreul agrees to the conditions, and is escorted out, with the promise that Hisska will send Shukak out of the lair with minimal defenses.

Well, frak. Computer lab is closing. I will continue this as soon as I can. Hopefully I'll be able to wrap up the third adventure in that update. Hopefully.

2009-06-03, 10:33 PM
*waves* Violent Violet the halfling here (because there was a bandwagon that needed to be jumped on), enjoying the campaign journals immensely. For clarification and updates, Vi is a Rogue 4/Wizard 2 - heading for arcane trickster in case anyone's asking (at lv. 10). She is indeed neutral.

Onward to the further journal updates! Huzzah!

*returns to lurking state*

2009-06-04, 02:40 AM
Oh dear heavens, that was a long update. Moving right along to the climactic battle scene:
The PCs laid their ambush in a relatively dry section of the swamp, lurking in the shadows of a mangrove stand. And hither came Shukak, the chieftain, along with his lieutenant, a pair of harpies and a pair of regular lizardfolk. Aramil gets off a fireball, Rianan gets a prayer, Violet hits Shukak with a ray of enfeeblement and then the harpies start singing. Fortunately for my battle plan, both Violet and the Gibbler fail their saves. They both move out of cover, with the Gibbler managing to stop himself before moving through Shukak's threatened area. Unfortunately, then the lizard chieftain got the chance for a full attack.

Now, as Gameprisoner has noted, the Gibbler had rolled insanely well for hit points, was a gnome with a very high Constitution, and had toughness twice (once from his familiar: granting Level+2 hit points each). Shukak had two attacks with his trident, a bite and a claw attack, and was suffering from enfeeblement and the negative effects of prayer. All this, of course, meant that I was having to re-calculate Shukak's damage with every new spell.

With all that in mind: In four attacks, even at massive penalties, and after a bit of confusion about the precise damage, the Gibbler went from 48 hit points to precisely -10. And with that, we had our first death of the campaign.

Violet was similarly drawn out, but her armor class was much more impressive, and she only had a raging barbarian lizard after her, not SHUKAK, KING OF THE LIZARDMEN! In any event, the harpysong had done its deadly work, and they fell into the melee. The harpies proved to be nothing more than an annoyance, wielding bone clubs incompetently. Shukak received a karmic death, with Kerreul dealing 58 points of damage to him while enraged and enlarged. His lieutenant lasted for a bit longer, what with the raging bonus to hit points, but eventually went down, though he did manage to drop Elden to 0 hit points and Elden, through strenuous action, dropped himself into the negatives. One of the lizards had a bit of a lark, charging across the battlefield repeatedly, but not really managing to accomplish anything besides forcing Aramil to turn himself invisible.

With the chieftain dead, the party burned the corpses and returned to Hisska. The shaman proved much more eloquent in Draconic, and offered to let the PCs rest in the safety of the mangrove lair before directing them to the egg chamber. He also gave into their care the three prisoners, Marzena and two grunts. All three had been the subject of torture and abuse, with Marzena having pulverized fingerbones and signs of strangulation (Shukak thinks: 'If mage cannot waggle fingers and speak magic words, mage cannot harm me').

During the night, however, one of the lizardmen melted into a pile of writhing segmented green worms. The party investigated the matter, learning that the victim had drunk a potion given to him by Ilthane the Pitch. Hisska supplied some of the potions that Ilthane had given it (random aside: Hisska is a nonfunctional hermaphrodite), and a close inspection revealed a curled up segmented green worm floating in each one. They confiscated the potions, and after they finished their rest, descended through the water tunnel into the egg chamber. Here, they skirmished with Ilthane's guardians, eight kobolds of draconic descent. Emerging from the other entrance to the chamber came the Gibbler's replacement, Sorril.

Sorril, LG (or so he claims) aquatic elf Dragonfire Adept 5. I ruled that since he's already aquatic, the Aquatic Adaptation invocation makes him able to breath air and walk at normal speed. So, Terrestrial Adaptation, really. He's the servant of a bronze dragon, sent to investigate Ilthane's activities in the area.

DM Tangent: On Death and New Characters
So, when characters die and they aren't raised, their replacement is introduced as soon as I can work it in, a level behind the rest of the PCs. In this case, the characters were all due to level up to 6th on conclusion of the adventure, so I just had Gameprisoner roll up a 5th level. Treasure is as a character of the level below. After two sessions (more or less), they catch up on experience.

So, kobolds go down hard. The party is left staring at Ilthane's egg, and Kerreul makes the impulsive decision to punch it to interrupt Aramil's desire to turn it into spell components. The egg splits open, letting loose a veritable flood of green worms that swarm up Kerreul's legs and penetrate the shells of the two closest lizardfolk eggs. Panicking, Aramil applies a fireball and Sorril throws out a line of fire, destroying the swarm. Thanks to his evasion, Kerreul is untouched.

DM Tangent: Evasion
It's the situations like this that really make me hate evasion. In standard D&D, it makes as much sense as anything else. But in specific cases where the worms are crawling on him, and they get toasted, but he doesn't...yeah. Rubs me the wrong way. I'm reminded of a d20 Modern game I was in: bad guy pulls all the pins on his grenades, runs at our resident martial artist. Said character has evasion, and takes no damage from having six or so grenades go off in an adjacent square. The GM made up for it later with grenades in a small bathroom and a chunky salsa explosions rule. Good times.

The worms are contained, at the cost of only a dozen or so lizardfolk eggs. However, those two infected lizardfolk eggs break open, and twisted, worm-ridden spawnlings emerge. They are put down with extreme prejudice, and the party, with Sorril tagging along, return to Hisska and inform it as to the situation. It mourns the loss of the eggs, and tells them that the tribe will be moving elsewhere to avoid reprisals from Ilthane. Rianan set to healing Marzena's hands (as represented by Constitution drain), and they marched off into the swamp.

The party, accompanied by the liberated prisoners, hurry out of the swamp, bypassing the statue grove on the way back. They had asked Hisska about the statues, and it had told them what the petrifiers were: Dragonfleas, it called them in Draconic, small avian-like creatures that picked organic matter out of dragonhides. From his description, they determined that the Common word would be cockatrice. And thus they avoided the grove.

At the gutted remnants of the tower, they found that the three grunts they had left at the tower were gone, apparently dragged into the swamp by other humanoids. Kerreul, showing off his brand new Track feat and Ranger level, followed the tracks into a body of water, and concluded from the tracks that the other humanoids had in fact been zombies. With no ability to track zombies through water, the party abandoned the grunts to their fate, and set off for the nearest outpost of the Free City of Deimos.

DM Tangent: The Zombies
Yes, technically, those three kyuss zombies are locked in the basement of the keep (well, technically one zombie, but whatever). However, what with the burning down of the keep, I figured it was impractical. Also, since Allustan had made mention of Marzena knowing more about the worms, I had made her into a casual scholar of Kyusslore, actually giving her some relevant information to give to the PCs. So the first Kyuss spawn being the old garrison mage was obsoleted, and there's no need for the zombies to come from the keep.

Marzena filled them in on Kyuss: that he was a near-forgotten demiurge, an ascended mortal from the dawn of history and a southern jungle near modern Sasserine City. He had sacrificed his civilization in order to propel himself into godhood, but something went wrong. Kyuss was trapped in some sort of artifact (what artifact is unknown), which then disappeared into the mists of time. She also referred them to a sage in the Free City of Deimos, a retired adventurer turned loremaster by the name of Eligos, saying that she had contacted him for more information some years back.

Leaving Marzena and company at the Deimos outpost, the party turned west towards Deimos proper, Eligos, and some concrete answers at last, as well as intrigue, gladiatorial games and a store with absolutely everything.

The party is currently one session into the fourth adventure. Because of the aforementioned intrigue, I may hold off posting until they finish the adventure, because revealing plot twists and motivations is just bad form. I will say, and I'm sure Epinephrine will agree, that this is the most lethal of the adventures so far. Heck, the playtest group wiped twice, and that was the adventure as written, before I scaled up the encounters to satisfy my bloodlust.

Remember, you can't spell 'slaughter' without 'laughter!' And all the laughter will be mine! *maniacal giggling*

EDIT: The Gibbler's Fate
Gameprisoner has graciously allowed me to print this paraphrase of the epilogue the Gibbler received. "You awaken slowly, in a large field of rock. Standing before you is a slightly off-looking gentleman, who hands you a long coil of rope. 'Well, tie yourself up already.' You look at him confused, for a long moment. He sighs, snaps his fingers, and the rope animates, wrapping itself around you, leaving only your face exposed. Lifting a whistle to his lips, he blows it sharply, yelling 'Play ball!'"

Yes, that's right. The Gibbler has gone to the great game of Gnomeball in the sky (well, in the Outlands. Whatever). I'm going to have to create a thread explaining the specifics of Gnomeball one of these days. Or here, if enough of y'all are curious.

Anna Molly
2009-06-04, 02:44 AM
First was a giant crocodile that burst from the swamp and managed to do some grievous harm to the folk in front (Kerruel and the Gibbler, predominantly) before Rianan attempted to disarm it...and rolled a natural twenty. And I quote: "Crickey!"

How does one, even one with a disarm modifier of +19, "disarm" a crocodile? I appreciate that you let me wrap the spiked chain around the jaw, even if only for a round, even if only on a nat 20. ;)

DM Tangent: My PCs and role-playing
At heart, most of us (Werebear, Gameprisoner, me, Aramil's player) are all horrible, number crunching bastards. The remainder are more RP focused, but we're all D&D players. I've got non-D&D XPs, and a few of them were in a Serenity game I ran, but we're not really used to rules-light, roleplay-heavy games. A brief excursion into Shadowrun can be summed up as follows: "We came, We saw, We broke the system, We left." All in all, I think my cynicism about roleplaying in my games is well deserved. Feel free to correct me, fellow gamers.

I regret the lack of roleplay only slightly. It's not like I can't get it elsewhere, and it's not like Rhiannon isn't optimized to fit with the rest of the powergaming party anyway. It feels good to play something powerful, but storyline feels a lot less important... for example, you're currently sitting in my living room and asked me how much our characters knew about Kiosk to confirm what you think you've told us. Sorry I couldn't remember much more than "Kiosk=bad, makes worms, which=bad because they eat you from the inside out and make you bad," I'm just... here to disarm the baddies and heal the goodies. That's fine. It's just this particular group's play style - the same play style that makes Shadowrun broken. I'd like to try SR again without the powergamers, no offense intended to them/you. Variety's nice.

*psst - for the record, you'd kill us pretty quickly if we hadn't crunched numbers here, but you know that. ;) *

2009-06-04, 03:54 AM
This is a very interesting campaign journal. I plan on keeping up.

2009-06-04, 06:07 AM
I will say, and I'm sure Epinephrine will agree, that this is the most lethal of the adventures so far. Heck, the playtest group wiped twice, and that was the adventure as written, before I scaled up the encounters to satisfy my bloodlust.

ROFL - you're bumping the difficulty? My players are midway through this with no deaths (surprisingly!) but they've a) been lucky, and b) haven't met the bigger foes yet.

I hope your gang enjoyed it though; my group has been pleasantly surprised at how non-dungeon crawl the adventure path is.

2009-06-04, 07:21 AM

I think I'm at least a decent RPer. After all, I talked with the lizardmen rather than burned them, and had an IC reason to do it (Home invasion=more likely death=bad). We also had a thoughtful discussion about whether burying Gibbler would have conformed to his wishes, or if he would rather be dumped in a swamp and forgotten.

Besides, I am a TWF Non Martial Adept with four base classes about to enter a prestige class designed to turn me into a paladin. Who also is going into grappling build. Yeah, I'm not the best designed character ever.

Also necessary-- Salute to the Gibbler! We shall miss your incessant Beeing of our enemies.

Anna Molly
2009-06-04, 10:02 AM
You are a good RPer. You do have certain consistent player traits that become character traits, but that's fine... and I'm sure you know that. You're kind of a powergamer too - not hardcore, but... yeah.... (you know)

I'm sure you also know what a hassle it is to try and do "what your character would do!" in this group. It's my only issue with the gang, and it's minor.

You: I smash ze egg!
You: It must die. Besides... evasion, beeetches!
Them: .... you should have done it this way. (insert tactical explanation)

Me: I run that-a-way!
Me: Cuz... I don't want to fight the drunken mob and have zero ranks in diplomacy.
Them: .... well, you should have done it this way. (insert tactical explanation)

2009-06-04, 10:35 AM
...I didn't have a better In or Out of Character than "Is egg of evil dragon, is better to beat foe when weak, smash now before it hatches since it is moving!"

Anna Molly
2009-06-04, 11:49 AM
Warrgh! :smallbiggrin:

2009-06-04, 02:20 PM
*hem hem* I bleieve the appropriate pronunciation is "WHAAAAAUUUGHH!"

And is usually followed by a ubiquitous call for more dakka. Or an axe to the skull, whichever, really.

2009-06-04, 05:29 PM
power gaming? me. ok im really powerful in the open where i can take full advantage of my charging mount, but without it im just a fighter without the bonus feats. a short fighter doing 1d6+4 without bonus feats. also being the LG paladin with this group is like being a catholic priest in a druid(the ones form old England that the Christians didnt like) convention.

and by the way i is not an Orc, meet my cavalry charge.

...that is all...can't wait to play again. squid key must be used.

2009-06-05, 10:54 AM
also being the LG paladin with this group is like being a catholic priest in a druid(the ones form old England that the Christians didnt like) convention.

I actually think LG is the most common alignment among the group.

Fishelf: LG
Eldrin: LG
Aramiel: LN
Rianan: NG
Kerrul: N
Violet: CN

Yeah, it is.

Anna Molly
2009-06-05, 11:22 AM
As of the end of last session. I'm pretty sure The Gibbler wasn't LG... more like SA (Small and Annoying).

2009-06-05, 11:26 AM
The water elf is LG though, pretty sure.

2009-06-05, 11:55 AM
As of the end of last session. I'm pretty sure The Gibbler wasn't LG... more like SA (Small and Annoying).

Or, in his mind... CA: Chaotic Awesome. :smalltongue:

2009-06-05, 12:37 PM
I think if you had asked him, you would have gotten something along the lines of CHAOTIC BEEEEEES!!

2009-06-05, 01:56 PM
I would just like to point out the fact that the gibbler did not have toughness x2, he in fact had a rat familiar which made his fort save higher than the pally's, also gnome + rat familiar, why not? I also did not have the spare feat, as i had taken those 3 feats from dragon magic to increase our healing potential (dracongic aura:vigor FTW), and yes, the gibbler was chaotic witha capital C, and decidedly neutral on the good/evil,

***side note to anna moly: fish elf = NOT optomized dragonfire adept, sadly, another gnome would have been a better choice, but i actually felt like it would be fun to play a char with water breathing & potentially not suck.

GODS does Sorril want 6th level, Flight @ good manuverability @ will k thanks bye!

2009-06-05, 02:55 PM
I crunched the numbers, and with the XP recovered from having one session with the party, it actually puts you at 6th. I'd say level up, but you're character sheet is sitting on the bookshelf. So yeah. Update later tonight or tomorrow, folks!

2009-06-05, 10:41 PM
I actually think LG is the most common alignment among the group.

Fishelf: LG
Eldrin: LG
Aramiel: LN
Rianan: NG
Kerrul: N
Violet: CN

Yeah, it is.

I's true neutral. *shakes fist*

But that's irrelevant to the LG point. *Throws in two cents*

2009-06-06, 12:47 AM
I'd say it looks like the party is True Neutral with Good tendencies and a slight balance towards Lawfulness. 'Course that depends upon how the alignments of the PCs play out into the determination of what the party's gonn' do.

Also, Fish Elves(and other acquatic races which should ostensibly be mammallian-ish-based + schmagic schmaps) always make me snigger since reproduction is so un-fun for them that they'll accidentally impregnate/mutate sahuagin eggs if they're within 100 miles of their spawning grounds....

Looking forward to the update.

2009-06-06, 02:00 AM
We'll start with the good news: I killed twelve characters! Now for the slightly less awesome news: six of those were in the playtest. So I only managed to kill six characters in the party. And the Werebear was two of those. Ironically, Sorril, the new guy, is the only one who escaped. Gruesome details shall follow presently.

Anna Molly
2009-06-07, 01:51 AM
R.I.P. Rhiannon, died on her belly after walking into an encounter with 3 0 level spells and 2 1st level spells (the 1st levels recovered via pearl). I'll leave our DM to describe the action, though I quote:

Tam: (after 1 death and depletion of most our fire and heal power in the first battles) "Oh yeah, it wouldn't be wise for you guys to turn back now... they'd just restock it."

Violet expertly aided that opinion - sneaky sneaky. I have no hard feelings about the whole death thing though. We walked into that one. I did like the character quite a bit, but I'm sure I'll like the next one too.

For the record:

RHIANNON, female elf
Neutral Good, lvl. 6 Cloistered Cleric of Olanorn (God of Battle)
Wis 18, Dex 18, Str 15, Con 13, Int 14, Cha 12
Hit Points: 34
AC 20 (check -1), Touch 16, Flat 14
Fort 6, Ref 6, Will 9
Feats: Improved Disarm, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Augmented Healing
Skills: History (4), Religion (11), The Planes (11), Heal (16), Spellcraft (5), Concentration (7), Decipher Script (11), Arcana (5), Perception (15)
Languages Known: Common, Giant, Gnoll, Undercommon, Aquan, Elven, Draconic, Infernal, Celestial, Abyssal, Terran, Ignan, Auran, Gnome, Halfling, Goblin, Orc, Dwarven, Sylvan
*Spiked Chain: 2d4x3: Crit x2, +7 to hit (+19 to disarm)
Domains: Knowledge, Competition, Force

That's most the relevant information, I believe. I healed, I translated (even though I wasn't the smoothest talker), I heard and saw (and whatever I heard, I could translate), and I even used that amazing disarm mod a few times. House rules dictate we don't have to take Weapon Finesse or Power Attack to apply them if we wish, so that helped the disarm even more (dex mod). Of course, I was usually casting Prayer or Healing, so I only disarmed a few times.

... and that concludes her useful, albeit short, life. Stay tuned for... shapeshifter druid???

Anna Molly
2009-06-07, 03:50 AM
ALSO: Concerning records

We captured most of the last session (4.5 hours, missing only the conclusion of the final battle, though it is obviously decided) in audio before my start-up disk had a panic attack. After trashing some applications I hadn't used since '05, there was enough space to actually SAVE the monster we created - and I have slowly been doing so in hour long chunks. It's quiet, but there, and definitely decent enough quality and audibility after a 2500% amplification. Going through and doing that now, one at a time, slowly but surely. I'll look into compression as well on Softpedia's wealth of GPL and shareware. When I return from the country Thursday, Tam, I shall have a DVD for you and a backup copy just in case. If you want to do anything with it beyond that (podcasting, etc?), let me know.... because I consider this a personal victory. Sorry, even though it's not D&D babble technically, I wanted to share my success here with you fine folk because it's related and gives me nearly as much 'squee' factor as tabletop gaming.

2009-06-07, 04:03 AM
OH god.... That does sound like a monster of an audio file...x.x

2009-06-09, 07:54 PM
And now, the gruesome details.

The Hall of Harsh Reflections summary
The party arrives at the Free City, settling into the Midnight Muddle, a particular neighborhood of about lower-middle class. One party member is replaced by a doppleganger, and the dopplegangers lure the party into their lair. After fights with mimics and invisible stalkers, the party plunges into the lair proper. There they enter a room filled with the real party member and other dopplegangers disguised as the party members. Moving further into the lair, they encounter the master doppleganger. After killing him, they are attacked by the doppleganger's master, Zyrxog, and illithid mage, and two of his drow thralls.

Zyrxog planeshifts away from the fight, leaving the party to track him back to his lair. They fight past the illithid's drow thralls, a spirit naga and monsters of the illithid's constuction, rending beasts with a slowing gaze. Eventually, they confront the mastermind himself, along with more of his beasts. Searching through his works, they uncover a note addressed to the illithid, commissioning them to kill the party. The note is signed by Loris Raknian, the master of the Free City Games.

A beautiful stat summary: Zyrxog, druuth leader: LE mind flayer Sorcerer 7. CR 11. Abilities: Just pack it in and go home, surfacers.

The Playtest:

Jhessala, CG female half-elf Ranger -- Warlock/Enlightened Soul: grappling focus
Orrusk, NG male half-orc Cleric/Radiant Servant -- Fighter: armor/shield focus and bane of undead
Talindra, NG female elf Bard -- Shapeshifter Druid

On the way to the free city, the party hits two trolls. Unfortunately for the trolls, they come in during a snipefest between the two girls, and the poor innocent trolls get ripped to shreds incidentally. The worg pack does better, killing Talindra's animal companion and prompting me to switch her over to the shapeshifter variant.

The party intimidates their way into the Free City, insulting the guards ever so much. The pickpockets, predictably enough, are caught red-handed just as the chimera breaks free of its cage. Jhessala, in her quest to wrestle everything (and using her newly acquired wings) charges in and grapples it. She's a bit...overzealous in her capture of it, and it winds up with its draconic neck snapped. The owners are the only ones upset by this.

Finally, they meet Eligos. Blah, blah, blah, plot information. Talindra hits it off with Eligos, and Jhessala and Orrusk go bar crawling. Elf and sage are at the Opera, the halfbloods are getting into barfights. There are copious amounts of shopping done. All is as it should be.

Then the doppleganger decided that Jhessala was the one it was most able to imitate. Unfortunately, doppleganger rogue verses dedicated grappler...does not end well for the rogue. At all. Jhessala strangles it while chatting with Orrusk.

The next doppleganger ploy is to try to incite a riot against them by imitating a party member and stabbing the innkeeper. It mimics Orrusk and stabs poor abused Tarquin. Jhessala...do you see where I'm going with this?

I skip the mimics, because they're basically traps with stats. The false prisoners make with the stabbing, and are mowed down. Jhessala has see the unseen and Talindra has glitterdust, so the invisible stalkers go down hard. Talindra is a druid, so the giant octopus is no trouble.

Because the dopplegangers didn't manage to infiltrate the party, the mirrored hall filled with copies of the party doesn't terribly concern them. It really wasn't in the dopplegangers' favor with regard to the party composition. There really wasn't anyone they could replace: everyone had spellcasting, and no one was particularly rogueish. Jhessala, as a ranger, was as close as it came, and that got the poor doppleganger choked to death on the bedroom floor.

With regard to the maze: like the labyrinth in Three Faces of Evil, once you manage to pin the enemy down, they're easy meat for the meat grinder that is the party. Jhessala is a grappler. She's really damn good at pinning things down. See where I'm going with this? At least it wasn't nearly as long as the thice-blighted kenku labyrinth.

Telakin, the greater doppleganger leader, posed slightly more of a challenge. Orrusk charged and wound up in a spiked pit trap 40 feet below. The girls, recognizing the danger, just pulled out eldritch blasts/wands of produce flame and played "Who can hit his touch AC?" Sure, Telakin can toss fireballs. But he can't take all that much damage, and the girl's Reflex saves were really good.

Zyrxog planeshfits in, bringing his drow thralls. His mind blast stuns Orrusk and Talindra, leaving Jhessala to defend the party. Shockingly enough, Jhessala doesn't manage to grapple him, and he planeshifts away. The drow figure that its better to kill the live one now and finish off the other two later. Jhessala proves herself able to win a blade on blade encounter, and the party tracks the flayer back to his lair by looking at the moss on the drows' boots.

A silence spell gets the party past the shriekers, and they ambush the sentries under the cover of the same. The drow drop a darkness spell, and the resulting fight is... amusing, if drawn out. Grappling works very nearly as well in the darkness. Running under the same silence spell, the party rips apart the spirit naga and the rest of the drow, with minutes left to burn.

Enter the Octopin. They have a slowing gaze. They have rend. They have stealth skills. This fight kills Talindra. In two rounds. Sure, she's an elf, but she's got a d8 hit dice and Con 14. Nasty, nasty beasties.

The stone brain past the octopins tries to dominate one character a round. On a successful save, it just does a point of Wisdom damage. It has hardness ten and some 60 odd hitpoints. So, for three rounds, it rips into Jhessala's low Wisdom score. Then she fails a save. Next round, Orrusk bombs his save. Then Talindra. Boom, one dominated party, game, set and match. Winner: Zyrxog. So, scrolling back one failed Will save, and Talindra manages to do just enough damage to the brain to destroy it.

Then comes the singular advanced octopin. Even Jhessala isn't stupid enough to grapple it. Rends Orrusk into unconsciousness (death, technically). Makes considerable progress on Jhessala before combined fire brings it down.

For those of you keeping track: Talindra: one death, one domination. Orrusk, one death, one domination. Jhessala: One domination. Zyrxog has won at least twice by this point, and this is a pretty well done party, if I do say so myself. Anyway, reload saved game and replay.

They don't futz around with the mind flayer's large collection of cursed items, thereby not calling down the vrock upon their heads. Lucky them. They do actually do some buffing prior to the final showdown with Zyrxog and his pair of octopins, though (bull's strength and haste. Sweet, merciful haste). And here's where some of the recently bought items make a difference. Jhessala activates her dimension stride boots, teleporting next to Zyrxog, levitating in the air, but not before he gets a mind blast off. Talindra, as with last time, is stunned. This leaves Jhessala to grapple the mind flayer and Orrusk to kill two octopins, when three had killed a party member. I was shocked, but Jhessala actually managed to not only not have her brain eaten, but to kill the flayer. Orrusk gets beat all to hell, but with the haste effect letting him keep his full attack, the octopins are held off long enough for Jhessala to kill Zyrxog and rejoin the fight, and for Talindra to shake off the stun. Then there is plundering.

The Players:

Kerruel, N male human Fighter 2/Martial Rogue 2/Barbarian 1/Ranger 1
Violet, N female halfling Rogue 4/Wizard 2
Sorril, LG male aquatic elf Dragonfire Adept 6
Rhiannon, NG female elf Cloistered Cleric 6
Aramil, LN male elf Wizard 6
Elden, LG male halfling Paladin 3/Fighter 2/Halfling Outrider 1

The group treks across the plains towards Deimos, encountering four trolls on the road. Fireballs and charges abound, as well as ridiculous good attack rolls on the part of the trolls. Rendalicious! Elden, Kerruel and Sorril feel the clammy touch of single digit hit points. Searching the bodies, they find a crude tablet, upon which is drawn three people (a bearded man hurling fire, a large-chested elf pouncing with daggers and a dark-skinned man with a huge greatsword and fancy belt) killing many trolls, as the trollgod above weeps. Apparently, they've stumbled across the leavings of Auric, Khellek and Tirra's work.

They gain entrance into Deimos, with Elden and Kerruel getting taken into the garrison to report the destruction of Blackwall Keep. Kerruel's bandit charges are brought up, and the more he explains it, the less sympathetic Elden becomes. The rest of the party stands in line, finally getting inspected and forced into a little bit of roleplaying (we can all do it, it just takes effort to get started).

Deimos is a city teetering on the verge of celebration. In less than two weeks, the Deimos Championship Games, a double elimination gladiatorial competition, will take place. In the meantime, a parade has arisen, featuring a chimera as its central attraction. Naturally, according to the law of narrative causality, it breaks free and sends lightning through eighteen odd civilians. The party puts it down with extreme prejudice, before it can manage to breathe again (under four rounds, if I recall correctly).

The party settles into a lower middle-class neighborhood, the Midnight Muddle. They stay at the Crooked House, an inn whose foundations have shifted slightly, giving the whole play a slight tilt. They spend the rest of the day exploring the neighborhood. Most memorably, they find a shop that proclaims to sell "everything." Being adventurers, they tempt fate. Violet asks if he has her virginity. "Would you prefer the blood, the sheet, then man?" After that, the line of inquiry drops off. Elden asks for the weapon of his god, Turmlar, lord of knights and valor. The shopkeep disappears for an hour, coming back eyebrows singed and with another question. "Would you prefer his lance or sword?" "His lance." Another hour passes, and the shopkeep returns with a party of porters, who carry a truly massive--as in oak tree planted a hundred years ago-- lance slung between them. Elden tentatively tries to hold it, but instead of resizing, it crashes through the floorboards and into the basement. After trying once more to resize it, he sadly says that he can't take it, and the poor porters hall it back to wherever it came from. The party is convinced that this shopkeep can travel across the planes and steal the weapons of the gods. He does nothing to disabuse them of this notion.

It was around this point that I took Violet's player aside, and enlisted her in the conspiracy: i.e., had her kidnapped and replaced with a doppleganger. It was also the point that we ended the session, and they kicked me out of the computer lab. I will try very hard to finish this off tomorrow!

2009-06-10, 04:56 PM
Finishing off the Party
Kerruel, N male human Fighter 2/Martial Rogue 2/Barbarian 1/Ranger 1
Violet, N female halfling Rogue 4/Wizard 2
Sorril, LG male aquatic elf Dragonfire Adept 6
Rhiannon, NG female elf Cloistered Cleric 6
Aramil, LN male elf Wizard 6
Elden, LG male halfling Paladin 3/Fighter 2/Halfling Outrider 1 and his dog, Xena

The party visited the retired adventurer and sage Eligos, hoping that he would finally be able to answer some of their questions. They gave him all of the worms they had so far collected, along with all the documents and a summary of their journeys (lovely little check by the DM if his players are following the story). Eligos had little information to share at the moment, but made promises of a great deal of information once he had the chance to research.

The PCs continued to gear up and revel in Deimos. One night, when they were all at the Crooked House, with only Rhiannon, Kerreul and Violet in the taproom, Sorril calmly walked downstairs, stabbed Tarquin, the innkeep, and fled upstairs, pursued by Kerreul. A well dressed, hook-nosed man came downstairs, inciting the crowd against the characters. While Kerreul tried to wake the rest of the party, trying to break down Sorril's door, the crowd turned ugly, preventing Rhiannon from healing Tarquin, chasing her into a storeroom, grappling her and beating her. Violet (false Violet) managed to convince those around her not to beat her little halfling skull in (that, and the mob inciter was a fellow doppleganger not willing to waste an asset). Eventually, Rhiannon is beaten into unconsciousness, a well-meaning patron manages to roll above a 15 on his Heal check to stabilize Tarquin, and Sorril and Aramil lay down crowd control, assisted by an enlarged Kerreul and Elden. The mob disperses without casualties, but the inciter has escaped into the night. The watch is summoned, but with no corpses and no prisoners, there isn't much they can do.

DM Note: Adventure Connectivity
And then I look back at the adventure and wonder how the PCs are supposed to know where to go next. Turns out the inciter has a very distinctive-looking (octopus grabbing the key proper) key, which the PCs can trace back to a particular warehouse. But with me playing the inciter as just that, and not an idiot who tries to solo the party, means that there's no key. No key means no adventure. So I improvise.

Tarquin, now magically healed and mostly convinced that Sorril didn't actually stab him (the party has assumed magic, and not any sort of shapechanger), notices a bulge in his stomach. It appears that the key dropped from the inciter's pouch when he attacked, and said key was healed up in the wound. A few cuts and points of magical healing later, and the PCs are back on track.

The next day, the PCs find and enter the warehouse. They poke around the ground floor for a while, with Rhiannon finding a pit trap (with her face). After they haul her out, the three mimics strike, grappling Aramil, Kerruel and Elden. Aramil just barely manages to break free, and so the mimic decides to grab Sorril instead. Xena is also grappled, by this point. The fight is extended somewhat by Aramil being effectively grappled by the severed tentacle and adhesive, but the mimics are disposed of handily, though they do an awful lot of damage all things considered.

The party delves deeper into the warehouse, finding four prisoners locked in cages. Two are apparent drunks, recovering from the night's binge and completely unaware of where they are, but grateful it isn't the guardhouse. One is a timid to the point of muteness elven lass, and the last is a deranged old man, screaming about how his brain was stolen. They set all four free, though Aramil makes it perfectly clear why he has an 8 Charisma, traumatizing the elven lass and old man even further. After establishing the quality of their character (with Elden and detect evil), they release them into the city, at least trying to get the old man into a sanitarium.

DM Note: On Alignment and Prisoners
So I look in my handy little Monster Manual, and it turns out that dopplegangers are listed as neutral. I check the statblocks in this adventure, and most of them are also listed as neutral. I wonder how they possibly justify replacing people and running crime syndicates as neutral, and roll with it for the moment.

As for the prisoners themselves: the two drunks, Martel and Regim, are doppleganger warriors. They see themselves massively outnumbered, and get out when the getting's good. Then they assume the shape of the PCs and commit as many crimes as they can. The elven lass was a Deimos noble, and it was her jewelry the PCs found later on. She's a minor noble, but she can certainly serve as a contact for later in the campaign, especially as a broker during the Deimos Championship Games. The madman is just that, but only because the dopplegangers used him to test a brain-stealing device. Technically, it creates a copy of a person's mind that the doppleganger can then use detect thoughts on, but he was an early test and it didn't so much copy/paste as cut/paste. Not much can be done for him, short of a heal spell.

The party presses onward, looting a large chest of a bag of holding, a lot of gold, some elven jewelry and a matching periapt of proof against disease. The room after this is a large, open chamber, with a collapsed floor, and hip-high water and upright, rusty blades stuck below. Mildewed planks cross the room, the remnants of the floor's supports. Kerreul and Sorril venture inside as the rest of the part finishes up with the loot. On the far side of the room and around a short bend, out of direct sight of the party, they are ambushed by the air itself.

A surprise round and the invisible stalker's initiative count later, Kerruel and Sorril are suffering from massive massive damage. The rest of the party begins to advance, with Aramil dropping see invisibility on himself and readying glitterdust. Sorril, with his new wings, manages to escape from the melee with single digits of hit points. Kerreul...is not so lucky. Without managing to strike his assailants once, he falls below -10. So passes Kerreul. Aramil finally manages to position a glitterdust exactly right, and paints all four of the stalkers. After that, it's just a slog through their hit points as Rhiannon tries frantically to keep Elden too from dropping.

After the melee is over, and Rhiannon is reduced to a single cure light wounds and three cure minor wounds, between Violet and the DM, the party is convinced to press onwards. I tell them, "If you retreat now, they'll just restock the previous rooms." Word of advice: when your DM tells you something in his own voice, with utmost sincerity in his eyes, and without the benefit of an NPC, question his motives. What were they going to restock it with? How were they going to restock if y'all camped on the passageway to deeper within? Those little, nagging questions that my PCs didn't ask.

In any case, a small hole leads down one hundred feet into an underwater chamber, at the bottom of which lie two giant octopi. On the other side of the cavern is the dry passageway which leads deeper into the doppleganger lair. Sorril can easily outswim them, and with his help, the entire party makes it safely through the chamber (discounting Xena, who is sent back to the kennels at the Crooked House bearing the bag of holding and an awful lot of money). The party investigates a few furnished rooms, grabbing maps and lists of doppleganger activity, but not encountering any of the mirrorkin themselves.

Violet finds a secret door, leading the party into a mirrored chamber filled with exact copies of the party...and a surly, unfortunately sober dwarf (Werebear's new character). False Violet takes this opportunity to stab Aramil in the back, and the other dopplegangers slip their chains and make with the sneak attacks. The party is besieged on all sides, though not flanked..their formation is too tight. Fortunately for the party, rogues who can't get sneak attack aren't terribly dangerous. Unfortunately for the characters, I take this opportunity to roll six odd criticals. 1d6+2/19-20 can seriously mess you up, as Rhiannon is the first to learn. She drops to unconsciousness, and one of the mirrorkin steps forward, flanking with false Violet. Sorril eats two sneak attacks before flying up five feet and out of flanking.

False Violet's flanking buddy is removed from the equation by Elden. Elden, attacked on three sides, drops, but manages to seriously weaken one of the dopplegangers before he does. The dwarf and real Violet are trying valiantly to slip their manacles as false Violet manages a critical on Aramil. He falls unconscious. Sorril's draconic aura revives Rhiannon long enough for her to go down fighting. With real Violet free of her manacles, but unequipped, and the unknown dwarf making significant progress, Sorril faces a difficult decision. There are three mirrorkin remaining, his breath weapon has been seriously neutered by the doppleganger's evasion, and he knows that he can escape past the octopi. He flees. The dwarf is finally freed, and manages to finish off the mirrorkinn weakened by Elden before succumbing. False Violet finishes off real Violet.

Sorril collects the bag of holding off of Xena, and returns to report to his Bronze Dragon master. The Dragon tells Sorril that his divinations have revealed that the director of the Deimos Championship Games, Loris Raknian, is a member of the Ebon Triad. Sorril is sent back to Deimos with orders to enter the tournament and investigate Raknian.

So that's where we stand: Everyone except Sorril rolled up a 7th level character, and Sorril advanced to 7th. Let's see how they do in the Championship Games...

Changes to the Module
Aside from increasing all encounter sizes by 1/2 (to account for six party members instead of four), I didn't change all that much in this module. I mean, Zyrxog changed from a Sorcerer 7 to a Wizard 6/Mindbender 1 and his spell selection changed (why do they like lightning bolt this much?), and I changed his specific tactics somewhat, but otherwise...That, and I'm not sure whether the PCs will try to assault the druuth again, so I don't want to give too much away. Only a thin connection with the other adventures, so I'd tighten that up, but otherwise, a very solid intrigue/dungeon crawl.

2009-06-10, 07:32 PM
I'd be surprised if/that Sorril doesn't want revenge for the all but TPK.

and how many of them were just in negatives rather than dead when he fled?

Anna Molly
2009-06-10, 08:12 PM
I was at -2, unstable (tried to heal myself without notice and failed, got dropped back again right as Sorril went out of range for the the healing aura to take effect). Eldin was at -9 and stable, a fireball of Aramil's had taken him from only kinda dead to mostly dead before Aramil himself became decidedly dead. I think both Violet and the new dwarf were still up, but not armed or armored. The dwarf may have still been chained to the wall or was just getting out. I think only 1 or 2 of the doubles were down. Rhiannon's evil (er... neutral?) double for sure - I remember the joy when she fell, burning, on top of Eldin's unconscious body. Oh, and despite the fact that dopplegangers are listed as neutral, I still picture all our doubles with tell-tale evil twin moustaches.

Sorril would probably want revenge. I don't know, Gameprisoner would have to tell you that. Mr. Lawful Good (not Lawful Stoooopid in this case because he had the good sense to flee) will rally new comrades to take up the cause of the fallen.

2009-06-10, 08:15 PM
Interesting that that was the room that did them in. I figured my players wouldn't enjoy betrayal, so replaced that room with a band of Skum rangers and their sleeping pallets (human favoured enemy), figuring that aquatic critters that are stealthy would make good guards and patrols for the sewers. I really didn't like the aranea alternative, as they don't seem very appropriate (why would they have a room full of aranea?).

Anna Molly
2009-06-10, 08:25 PM
What did us in:

1) one of the tanks died to the invisible stalkers before we even got to the real stuff (though I imagine if he hadn't, that would have been one more double to fight: his wasn't there).
2) lack of a healing reserve. I think I had 2 cure lights left? Maybe? 1 or 2.
3) an absurd amount of crits on the DM's part.
4) oh - look, the dopplegangers have ROUGE classes and are FLANKING! (only happened a few times, not as deadly to us as the crits)
5) the baddies had evasion.
6) that we didn't question the DM's suggestion that resting and/or turning back would be unwise.

2009-06-11, 05:13 PM
Aranea have the shapeshifting, meaning that they can help with the infiltration of the city. That, and the fact that they are more credible threats than the dopplegangers (3rd level sorcerer casting, I believe). So, thematically, they fit with the whole tricksy bit. Tying in the aquatic bit makes much more sense, though.

When Sorril fled, these were the hit point totals.
Kerreul: dead. Werebear's new character: full hp, but still chained.
Violet (real): unchained, full hp, unequipped
Rhiannon: 0 hp
Aramil: dead
Elden: Either stable at -9 or dead.

2009-06-12, 12:50 AM
I think if Kerrul hadn't died in the earlier encounter, it would have been doable, even with one more. We would have been able to get a solid wall up that way, and +1 Kerrul would have heavily outweighed another doppleganger. I shouldn't have gone out there without everyone in the party holding a tow rope to get me back in. My next character's going to be the party's new Arcane Caster, and I think I'm going to enjoy having people between me and the direct line of fire.

Anyway, at this point, we are kicking up our power level to match the campaign a bit better.

2009-06-12, 01:28 PM
Translation: They're creating new, 7th level characters and moving directly onto the Championship Games. (Shhh! I'll lulling them into a false sense of security)!

2009-06-12, 02:10 PM
Translation: They're creating new, 7th level characters and moving directly onto the Championship Games. (Shhh! I'll lulling them into a false sense of security)!

I'm interested in how you'll have tweaked these. I had to make several changes for my party (I'm running chapters 4 and 5 with some overlap, so while they're in chapter 4, they've also done some of the beginning of chapter 5).

Anna Molly
2009-06-12, 02:11 PM
Translation: They're creating new, 7th level characters and moving directly onto the Championship Games. (Shhh! I'll lulling them into a false sense of security)!.... and it is there that they will be met with candy and fluffy pillows carried by adoring fans as well as a great wyrm red dragon who will let them kill him for lots of XP and no fight at all because I am a kind and generous DM. Chocolate and roses for everyone!

Yes, that is what I heard. That's what he said, right?

2009-06-12, 02:25 PM
Yes, that is what I heard. That's what he said, right?

Of course! People pay to see brave heroes accept candy and fluffy pillows. That's what the colosseum was for, IIRC.

2009-06-13, 01:06 PM
Oh yeah. I can practically taste the candy.

2009-06-13, 08:18 PM
The candy's not even covering up the taste of anything else!

... Honest!

2009-06-14, 08:38 PM
Hopefully we won't get mauled too horribly... at least not too soon. I really like my new character (Ursula Lutgehr, Dwarven Rogue 1/ Duskblade 6). I'd like to dream and get her to the point where I can channel a Disintegrate through my falchion... *dares to dream that somehow she'll make it to level 17 intact*.

I'm a hopeless optimist really.

2009-06-14, 09:57 PM
Well, there's always the call of cthulu technique where you deliberately ignore mounting tension to make sure that you haven't looked at anything important until after you've rested.

Also, you need someone to invest in a healing wand or several.

and the ability to block off passages. And probably check into eternal wands that might be useful to y'all.

2009-06-15, 09:53 AM
We have been, heavily actually. For the Temple, we used two and a half healing wands, for example.

The problem is In combat Healing. We really need to lay down the money for some wands of Cure Critical.

Anna Molly
2009-06-15, 10:34 AM
We have been, heavily actually. For the Temple, we used two and a half healing wands, for example.

The problem is In combat Healing. We really need to lay down the money for some wands of Cure Critical.


2009-06-15, 10:42 AM
...How many of you are eligible to take the leadership feat?

2009-06-15, 12:40 PM
IIRC, Tam has vetoed minions for his campaign. Is a pity, as I'm a big fan of playing Necromancers with minions, and we could use all the help we can get.

But then again... Leadership would just give him an excuse to make the monsters even more doom-like and more likely to kill us. :3

Anna Molly
2009-06-17, 01:51 AM
IIRC, Tam has vetoed minions for his campaign. Is a pity, as I'm a big fan of playing Necromancers with minions, and we could use all the help we can get.

But then again... Leadership would just give him an excuse to make the monsters even more doom-like and more likely to kill us. :3

Aye, minions and summons and the like - it's the reason I'm playing a shapeshifter druid now (no animal companion) with spontaneous cures instead of spontaneous Summon Nature's Ally.

Damn sorry I'll be missing this next session.... stay alive!

2009-06-18, 02:45 PM
Actually, we're taking the week off to give me some breathing room (and because, regardless of when we game, we're down a person). That, and there's absolutely no reason for one of y'all to disappear mid-games.

2009-06-21, 10:15 PM
As you have asked, I have delurked.


2009-06-22, 09:33 PM
Actually, we're taking the week off to give me some breathing room (and because, regardless of when we game, we're down a person). That, and there's absolutely no reason for one of y'all to disappear mid-games.

Wait a minute, I thought you guys were just about to start up the tournament arc, which would be the one which would suffer least with one of the players absent due to the fact that the PCs got wiped out save the one and haven't met up again...?

2009-06-23, 09:17 AM
Nope, we started off the tournament arc with a fresh slate of new dudes. And we paused to make sure all those new dudes would be there the whole tourney.

2009-06-23, 03:37 PM
What he said. There's an entirely new cast, so I was holding off until I had a better grasp of the characters. I will say this: four full casters, one full caster two levels behind, and a duskblade. That being said, we're scheduled to game this Saturday, so I hope to have both sessions up sometime this weekend.

Anna Molly
2009-06-29, 04:00 PM
Concerning the happenings of this weekend:

Holy crap, game over, man! I mean.... not literally, but WOAH.

2009-07-02, 06:55 PM
Gah. Sorry about that, folks, my family came into town. Where were we?

Ah, yes, the Championship Belt:

The Playtest, in which I learn the importance of gambling limits
Jhessala, CG half-elf Ranger - Warlock/Enlighted Soul
Orrusk, NG half-orc Cleric/Radiant Servant - Fighter
Talindra, NG elf Bard - Shapeshifter Druid

Learning that the director of the Free City Games, Loris Raknian, had arranged for their assassination at the hands of Zyrxog and his druuth, the party enrolls in the Championship Games. Their sponsor (factor) comes to them through Eligos, and is a energetic man by the name of Ekaym. He secures a contract with the party, giving him a percentage of their winnings and giving him the power to place bets in their names, for a smaller percentage.

The party (or to be specific, Jhessala) enters into an arrangement with the Free City Thieves' Guild (via Tirra, the elfess who adventured with Auric and Khellek) to secure them good odds for the Championship match. With the help of their factor, they better the odds for their team, the Robins (The early bird gets the Worm that Walks, and all that). The Guild requires a 5000gp investment to arrange good odds for the final match, which Jhessala manages to acquire from Orrusk and Talindra. Jhessala advises Tirra to bet as she bets.

Because of their image manipulation, they're mostly ignored in the first match. The elven archers, angry druid and desert horsemen all rip each other apart, and the Robins mop up the rest handily. Jhessala, being the nutcase she is, had her entire liquid wealth riding on them winning that match, and it pays out something around 400% of her initial investment. The adventure noted a limit of 500gp per bet, with some high rollers going as high as 1000gp. 'Screw that,' I though. 'This is the Free City! They're rolling in money!' So Jhessala kept betting.

Naturally, since I didn't want to go to the trouble of statting out and running fights with some twenty teams, I came up with a brief combat resolution system, with EL modifying a d20 roll, and a sub-system for reducing the effective EL of the losing teams dependent on the difference between the modified rolls. All in all, it worked out fairly well, with the higher EL teams winning most of the time (though there were a few tense moments where it looked like Pitchblade, a team the party fights later in the module, was going to lose).

There were a few upset victories, some of which were 'engineered' by Jhessala, with her convincing weaker teams to ally together. The part that astonished me, though, was that the dice came up in favor of Jhessala's bets eight times out of ten, and for the ninth case, she'd bet on both sides anyway (Yes, I'm aware that cross-betting like this is illegal. But this isn't some modern arena where they can keep track of it all. Besides, she had Tirra and the Thieves' Guild on her side, and they were getting a percentage).

After the first day, and six matches, Jhessala's modest 2,500gp had turned into something over a million gold pieces. I was a little flabbergasted, and I was the one rolling the bloody dice. The second day had no matches, which brought the Robins to day three, and their match with team Pitchblade, two Dwarven Berzerkers juiced to the gills with potions. Round one, and Talindra dispels half of them. Ten minutes later, I have Pitchblade's stats recalculated, and the fight progresses. I believe the climax of the fight was Jhessala swooping down, picking up one of the dwarves, and bodily hurling him into the other, dropping them both into the negatives.

The next day was another break, and the party's factor, Ekaym, approached them with a favor. His sister had been involved with Loris Raknian, and had since disappeared. Ekaym had contracted a band of burglars to investigate Raknian's estate (via Tirra; the two bettors had gotten rather... involved; that much money makes anyone do crazy things), but he wanted the Robins to investigate the underbelly of the arena.

After plowing through some undead (Orrusk: 'Turn Undead!' Undead die), the party stumbles into a room occupied by a squat, ugly tiefling, and a book on a pedestal, sending a beam of sickly green light into another chamber, where pulsed an enormous green segmented worm. I say 'stumbles,' but is it really stumbling when the party in under the influence of invisibility spells? (Talindra and her bard levels) In any case, the Tiefling Priest has centered a desecrate spell in his room, tying it to a silence spell. I, operating under AD&D mode, assume that if an area is silenced, anyone ending it is automatically also silenced. So this poor Kyussite priest has sealed his own fate, making his enemies effectively untargetable. Then Jhessala grapples him, and Orrusk rips him to bloody shreds. Not pretty at all.

Only problem is, with the priest dead, the containment field disappears and the giant (colossal, really) green segmented worm (urglurstasa with maximum hit points) wakes up. And uses its breath weapon. Orrusk makes his save; the women...don't. And get hit with 15 point of Constitution damage. Talindra is at 1 Con, and tries to find some cubbyhole to hide in. Jhessala is at 3 Con, and Orrusk tosses her a scroll of restoration before turning on the Greater Turnings (making the knowledge: religion checks to determine that the urglurstasa is technically undead, despite being, by all hallmarks, an aberration. It surprised me too). So, with Orrusk throwing down 20d6 (Will half) positive energy bombs, and Jhessala trying to grapple it (but only trying), the urglurstasa's 212 odd hit points don't last it all too long. I think Talindra managed to throw down a few direct damage spells (call lightning, I believe), once she got out of range. The Apostle of Kyuss goes down, but it very nearly killed two party members with one action.

Orrusk uses his lesser restorations to raise Talindra's Con score to reasonable levels, and the party ventures on. The priest's guardian, an alkalith demon, pounces on them, and Orrusk, for one brief moment, seemed like a paladin. I can't precisely remember how he cast holy sword (as a 5th or 6th level spell, instead of 4th?), but cast it he did. And lo, the demon got royally messed up.

They find the animated corpse of Ekaym's sister, deanimate her, and bring all their evidence (including the book: The Apostate Scrolls, minor artifact of Kyuss) topside, handing it off to Ekaym and preparing for their fight against the Beast Madtooth. Raknian has two guards stage a conversation implicating that Madtooth is an outsized frost salamander. Seeing as how Orrusk doesn't have any direct damage spells, and Talindra's aren't that terribly effective, it doesn't unduly influence the Robin's spell selection.

So, Madtooth. Madtooth, is not, in fact, an outsized frost salamander. It is a mutated beast from the Barrier Peaks, where some of you will recall an odd metal dungeon. Madtooth is a Frogemoth. It is a beast designed to grapple the PCs and eat them, with stomach capacity enough for the entire party. It is large enough, and has reach enough, to strike practically any point in the arena, regardless of if the target is flying. So, what is Jhessala's first action once Madtooth is revealed, to the delight and horror of the crowd?

She charges, hits, and attempts to grapple.

I don't understand when Jhessala got out of my control. Charging it, from a tactical perspective, was not a good idea. Eldritch blasts whle flying far far away would have been a much better idea. But, by this point, Jhessala has a personality apart from tactical considerations. So she charges.

And she comes damn close to grappling it. Sure, she's got the Clever Wrestling feat specifically to deal with situations like this. That doesn't completely account for the size disparity, much less the Strength difference. But she still fails, and, after being pummeled for a few rounds while in grapple, Madtooth eats her.

Now, the other two Robins haven't spent those rounds in vain. Orrusk is buffed somewhat past the point of Clericzilla, and he charges forward, with Talindra supplementing with spells. He deals massive, massive damage, and one of his feats (Shield Ward, as well as a damn good shield and half his Fighter feats spent optimizing it) means that Madtooth has a hard time grabbing onto him. But eventually, Madtooth rolls high, and Orrusk rolls low, and he's grappled and on his way to Madtooth's gullet.

Then Jhessala squirms out of the hole she cut in Madtooth's belly, and is left with a full attack action just as Madtooth is about to crunch down on Orrusk. Guess what happens. Go on, guess.

That's right. The law of narrative causality has apparently possessed my dice. Jhessala kills it, and the crowd goes bloody wild. The next day, they fight Auric's Warband. After the glorious battle with Madtooth, this fight doesn't even come close. It is, however, a battle of counters. Jhessala charge-grapples Khellek, and the wizard dimension doors away, and actually manages to hold her off for a few rounds. Talindra drops a wall of thorns in front of the flesh golems, leaving Orrusk and Auric to throw down like men. Auric's performance is actually the most disappointing part of it, seeing as how he's a straight level 10 fighter with unimpressive feat choices. Eventually, the Championship Belt is theirs.

And, more importantly, their winnings, which total over 9,000,000gp after Ekaym, Tirra and the Guild take their cut. To which I respond, 'No way in the ninefold Hells that all that is liquid.' So I crunch some mostly made-up numbers, determine that the party owns about a third of the Free City, and figure out that by cashing in all favours owed by people with crafting capability, that each PC has approximately one million gold to spend on personal gear. I cackle in glee, and crack open the Magic Items Compendium. Meanwhile, the party itself receives word from Diamond Lake that the town has been attacked by a Dragon. A Black Dragon, to be specific.

What I Realized Needed to be Changed:
The first fight was fine, so long as the PCs didn't go out of their ways to make themselves targets. The Pitchblade fight was an opportunity to show off, especially considering the action advantage even one PC gave. Four additional PCs would be absurd. The Madtooth fight was going to be a total madhouse, but it was imminently winnable, even when playing to the crowd instead of having picture-perfect tactics. A character death there wouldn't be terribly surprising, but the players could nova to compensate for the increased challenge. The Championship fight, by comparison, was utter trash, and needed to be improved, if not CR-wise, then at least flavor-wise. Ultimately, I decided Auric was the real weak link, and so restatted him.

How to make a regular fighter interesting and threatening without The Book of Nine Swords (my default)? That was the question. My first though was to dip martial rogue and put on a few levels of Streetfighter from Complete Adventurer. Then I thought about it a bit more, and determined that Street Fighter, the video game, was a more cinematic fit. This determined, I tried to determine how to make Ryu with D&D classes. And then it dawned on me: Warlock levels. Auric ended up as a Fighter 4/Warlock 6, with a 3d6 eldritch blast, both eldritch blade and hideous blow, fire immunity, see the unseen and a fly speed.

In addition, a single elimination tournament? Bloody single elimination? In an annual tournament? Frak no! You stretch that bloody tournament out as long as it can go, which means double elimination at least. So the set-up changed a bit, a safety net in case the PCs weren't up to muster. Ideally, they wouldn't have to worry about the lower tiers, but it gave them more opportunities to bet. With a sane betting cap this time: 10,000gp as an absolute limit, but 1,000 for non-exclusive, non-aristocratic betting.

As for the fights beneath the arena: most of the encounters were just picturesque filler. The ghasts, spawn of Kyuss and the mohrgs, the oozes: all just window trappings. The three real fights down there were the tiefling priest (Zoal), the Apostle of Kyuss (max hp urglurstasa) and the guardian Alkalith demon. Zoal had been too easy when taken by surprise, so he would need either some sort of early warning system or a sentry. The Apostle of Kyuss could be a TPK if the breath weapon went off too well, so I shifted the environment. Instead of the ceremonial chamber being directly next to the urglurstasa's 'womb', they were connected by a 40ft corridor that mostly negated the Con drain breath weapon. The Alkalith, first of all, needed me to ultimately decide whether its cloudkill form expanded to fill the standard cloudkill area, or only a 5ft space. I ultimately decided on the kinder 5ft space, reasoning that my PCs were just coming off of a TPK.

Wave Hello to the New Party:
Anomander, NG male lesser aasimar Sorcerer 7, played by DarthAlpha, Elden's player.
Delilah, NG female lesser aasimar Shapeshifting Druid 7, played by Anna Molly, Rhiannon's player.
Jakob, LN male human Necromancer 7, played by the Werebear, Kerreul's player.
Kraskay, LG male human Monk 2/Evangelist 5 (Evangelist from Dragon #311; basically a spontaneously casting Cleric, without turning and with more domains), played by Gameprisoner, Sorril's player.
Ursula, unknown alignment female dwarf Rogue 1/Duskblade 6, played by Hex_31, Violet's player.
Veit, LN male dwarf Evangelist 7, played by Aramil's player.

Wave Goodbye to the New Party
It all started off innocently enough. Sorril decided that he'd had enough of this adventuring nonsense, and retired with all the money from Xena's saddlebags. Before he did that, though, he contacted his bronze dragon patron and appraised him of the situation. The dragon contacted his agents in Deimos: the wandering monk Kraskay, and the married dwarven couple Ursula and Veit. They were in contact with the wage mage and aristocrat Jakob, and the four of them got into contact with the sage Eligos, who had been an information source for Sorril and his companions. Eligos contacted one of his agents, Celeste, a bard with Eladrin heritage. She brought in two distant relatives of her own, Delilah and Anomander.

The band didn't seem like it was going to spontaneously combust into a pyre of aggression, so Eligos introduced them to their sponsor, Ekaym Smallcask, a wealthy noble from the area of Cauldron, far to the south. Ekaym was slightly surprised that the party didn't try to haggle down his percentage, but who was he to complain about more money? Eligos informed the party of the developments thus far, and Loris Raknian's probable connection to the Ebon Triad and the cult of Kyuss.

The party attended the pre-competition banquet, and were seated next to the hapless team known as the Woodchuckers, with all the intelligence of a rotted log, the subtlety of a wild fire and the power of a very small toad. They listened to Raknian's opening speech, in which he proclaimed every competitor a Champion of Deimos for the length of the contest. The referee took the podium and made damn sure that all the competitors understood the rules.

Simply put: requests for quarter must always be accepted, flight was limited to a 40ft ceiling, burrowing was forbidden and endangering the spectators was grounds for disqualification and possible legal action.

These rules took a while to pound into the thick-as-mud heads of the Woodchuckers, but even they eventually grasped the subtleties. Then the betting agents started circulating, trying to get a measure of each team. They ladled on their own incompetence fairly heavily (result of a 24 verses the DC of 25), but not enough to significantly alter their own odds. Then came the first day.

They laid some small change on Pitchblade to win the first match, and made smaller change back. Then it was time for their match. Because of the party's rumor-mongering, they weren't a primary target. Instead, the teams more or less paired off: Arcane Auriga (Elven Archers) against Badland's Revenge (Angry Druid and gnolls), and Sapphire Squad (Janni and desert nomads) verses Wind Reavers (the PCs). Sapphire Squad and their scimitars got off some lucky criticals (and one bow critical), dropping Kraskay to the negatives. However, the party managed to completely annihilate all the opposition, between fireballs, stinking clouds, ghoul touches on spectral hands, enlarge persons on buffed dwarven clerics, Power Attacking channeled true strikes, and so on.

The party had independently determined that they needed to investigate under the arena, but their snooping was stalled when they came across a stone plug blocking access deeper into the tunnels. After a night's sleep, with Delilah preparing lots of stone shape spells, they breached the plug and wandered into the forgotten city beyond.

Tangent: The playtest route
The playtest group, instead of starting low and going high, started high and found the secret door leading to the shrine of Kyuss. Which meant they skipped the ghasts.

Delilah scouted the area in her aerial form, spotting nearly a dozen cadaverous undead, and reporting the same to the party. The nine ghasts attacked the party from three sides, sickening several of the party, but they were unable to paralyse anyone, even when they did manage to hit. Anomander's fireball had wiped out an entire flank of the envelopment, so it was a two pronged attack instead of the desired surrounding. But all the ghasts really managed to do was delay the party long enough for the two mohrgs to show up. And then I realized that mohrg are drastically over CRed.

Tangent: Why Mohrgs Suck
They're unturnable because of their absurd number of HD, but facing opponents with strong saves against their paralysis, they simply can't deal enough damage. They have no abilities apart from the paralysis, so its a miracle if they can even close with PCs, apart from their absurd stealth modifiers, which are a product of their high HD...etc, etc.

So, two embarrassingly inept monsters later (my PCs were toying with them, in the end), the Wind Reavers head down a passageway into what appears to be a dumping group for sewage and refuse. A small hole reveals light from above, but there's a few feet of raw sewage below, to say nothing of the mysterious ripples in the water. Anomader spends two fireballs and a few minutes with his reserve feat blasting the area, and Jakob performs a few tests with a bit of meat and a string, but there are no bodies rising to the surface, just cut strings.

Eventually, Delilah flies a rope to the opening and anchors it while the rest of the party climbs up. The next room over has six slabs, three of which are occupied by coffins carved from a single piece of wood, with only a few holes in the bottom allowing access. Jakab, calling upon his lore skills, snaps to 'vampires,' and Anomander, again with his reserve feat, powders the coffins. They scatter the dirt within about the room and down into the chamber below.

Proceeding apace, they go straight at a 'T' intersection and enter a small chapel, with an intentionally breached summoning circle on the dais. After searching the room, they proceed apace, flinging open two sets of double doors. And behold a cloven-footed tiefling reading from a tome of power, sickly green energy flowing from four crystals into a coruscating ring of energy about the tiefling, all of which drains into the book and shoots down a corridor on the left-hand side.

Ursula and Delilah, as melee fighters, charge forward and smack into an abjuration of some sort ten feet from the priest. Jakob throws up an arcane sight spell and determines that there are some seven active spell effects upon the tiefling, most of which are abjurations. A few spells splat harmlessly against the tiefling's spell resistance before Veit manages to dispel almost all of the tiefling's spells (though it does take him two dispel magics to accomplish this). But before Veit can manage that, the rest of the party has gone hog wild on what they can reach: the crystals. There is no immediately apparent effect, however.

Tangent: What the Crystals Did
The crystals served to provide further focus to the ritual enhancing the urglurstasa. If they'd been intact when the tiefling was killed, the ritual would have winked out immediately, rather than what happened. This categorically would have been a bad thing.

The tiefling, I realize with annoyance, has mainly touch spells prepared, despite being under the effect of an anti-life shell, and therefore unable to touch anyone. So while Veit is busy dispelling his protections, he uses his only offensive spells: summons.

The achaeirai (a monster so obscure even I didn't know much about it) releases a cloud of gas, driving Ursula and Delilah insane. That was pretty much its only meaningful contribution to the fight, since both of them rolled 'attack nearest' on the confusion table, and it just happened to be right between them. The yeth hound, the tiefling's other summon, was even more ineffectual, only managing to threaten Anomander for a few rounds.

However, by this point, the tiefling's anti-life shell has been dispelled, leaving him free to use his touch spells. Like Harm, for instance, on the pesky dwarf who just made him hittable. As a touch attack against a dwarven cleric, it goes without saying that it hits. What I didn't expect was for Veit to fail his save. Boom, 110 points of damage, one dead dwarven cleric. My dice have colluded with the others on the table, and Ursula rolls 'attack nearest' again, which just happens to be the tiefling. Here, again, comes the glorious duskblade strategy of 'channel true strike, Power Attack for full.' Did I mention Ursula is wielding a falchion? The tiefling is turned into so much bloody meat, and Ursula naturally rolls 'act normally' on her next confusion roll.

While most of the non-insane party members are trying to deal with their insane melee line, Kraskay wanders down the corridor, trying to find the terminus of the line of energy. He finds it in a shell of the selfsame energy wrapped around a colossal segmented green worm. After a few rounds of poking and prodding, Ursula and Delilah come to their senses, just as Kraskay determines that the energy shell is definitely fading. The Wind Reavers form up again, battered and diminished in number, but ready to go out fighting.

The shell pulses, flickers and fades. The Worm stirs, turns to Kraskay, and unleashes Hell. Fortunately, Kraskay makes the save, taking only 5 points of Con drain, and the rest of the party is outside of the corridor and away from the line of fire. With the tunnel too small for the Worm to crawl through, fireballs pouring from that direction, and a compulsion to climb imprinted in its brain, the Worm surges upward. Jakob has seized the Apostate Scrolls and is trying valiantly to reverse the creature's growth.

Jakob eventually resorts to hastily conducted ritual magic, with all the casters of the party (that is, everyone) dropping their highest level spells onto him, pouring out their blood as they do so.

Tangent: Ritual Magic
Ritual Magic is my contingency for things that the current spell rules don't cover. Breaking the gates of the underworld and forcing the souls within to the Prime Material, where they cause a zombie apocalypse? Ritual Magic. Teleporting a group of 3rd level PCs across hostile territory with only minor (and interesting) side-effects? Ritual Magic. It is, for all effective intents and purposes, DM fiat based, which is why my players as so leery of using it. If they weren't already so utterly screwed, there would be a backlash waiting in the wings, plotting and planning. Heck, there might be anyway.

In any case, the ritual takes effect, reducing the Worm to standard hit points. Ursula gets a spider climb placed on her, Kraskay starts climbing up after the Worm, and Delilah shifts into aerial form. The Worm breaks through the floor of the Arena, interrupting a combat in progress. While it grabs and prepares to swallow a Champion of Deimos (any one of the gladiators, if you recall Raknian's speech), the PCs are furiously hacking at it from below. Too little, just a bit too late. It swallows a Champion, and releases a negative energy wave, killing everyone in the Arena. Even over the sounds of combat, the Wind Reavers can hear Raknian roar, "I AM REBORN!"

Naturally, right after that, they wipe away the Worm's last hit points, and it sags. Ursula is enlarged, and pulls the Worm down, falling seventy feet and having a twenty ton creature fall upon her. Delilah flies just out of the way, and Kraskay climbs like mad, slipping into the Worm at one point and exiting from its mouth. He emerges at the top of the pit, and sees that the Arena-goers have been transformed into undead by the negative energy wave, and that Loris Raknian, in blackened plate, has mounted a nightmare and is galloping to the northeast. Kraskay goes down fighting, feet planted in the spilled guts of the damned, pulled down by a veritable mountain of wights.

Delilah, Anomander and Jakob flee to the underground city, and across an underground lake into the Underdark proper. They traveled for some time in the darkness, over bare stone, finally spotting a ghostly light ahead and hearing the rushing of a waterfall. And there we closed the session.

Wrap-Up and Next Session
So yeah. I'm unsure whether Ursula and Veit will be returning, as are, the last time I checked, their players. Gameprisoner specifically requested that Kraskay die, so I assume he wants to try another character. Those of you who know the Adventure Path can guess where the players have ended up. Those of you who don't know the Path, will have to, like my players, wait for the next session and update.

This is technically two sessions, with the discovery of the plug being the breaking point. The first half we again recorded, but not the second (we were slapping ourselves once we realized the missed opportunity, believe me).

I have yet to assign XP, and I hope the PCs will be pleasantly surprised. Because right now, they're under-leveled and under-equipped. Wait and see, good readers. Wait and see.

2009-07-02, 07:20 PM
Believe me, what he says about Ritual Magic is right. I would not have resorted to it, save that I was down to a Vampiric Touch, Command Undead (I didn't roll well enough on knowledge Religion to get that the worm was undead), and was down to trying ritual magic or charging at it with a light pick and a wand of magic missiles.

2009-07-02, 07:22 PM
Love reading these journals. Keep posting. :smallbiggrin:

2009-07-02, 09:45 PM
I can't believe I started this back in April... Anyway, due to the silly American Independence Day, we're not gaming this week.

Instead, y'all get this is digression from the adventure as a whole to consider exactly what's happening with all those wight supremacists in Deimos. The city has a population of maybe 100,000, of which upwards of 10,000 were present at the arena. Or, put another way, FEMA, the fantasy way.

Consideration the first:
Loris Raknian, at least in this continuity, was never anything as mundane as a 12th level fighter with some cross-class skills. He was WARDUKE! (the exclamation point is necessary), pacifier of a large stretch of Free City territory, including beating back incursions by the Bandit Kingdoms and supporting the Kingdom of Alhaster in such. Of course, it has been nearly thirty years since then, and old age has drained much of his power. Except now, with Kyuss' power coursing through his veins, he's just a teensy bit more powerful. Kraskay, before his untimely death, saw him mount a nightmare and fly off. This leads us into our first conclusion:

First Conclusion: The law of narrative causality dictates that the Wind Reavers will face Raknian, excuse me, WARDUKE! again. And he's probably gained a template. It is known, at least, that no one in the arena was willing or able to stop him.

Consideration the second:
The Worm took two rounds to surface and swallow a Champion of Deimos. Twelve seconds is forever, especially considering that the Worm had been tenting the surface of the arena for two rounds prior to that. Even the slowest among the crowd would have realized something was wrong after the Worm surfaced, so if we consider that as the surprise round, it means that everyone in the crowd had at least one round of actions before the negative energy wave. This means that every caster with any sort of transportation spell would most likely cast them, being caught away from their equipment (seeing as how the arena doesn't permit weapons in the stands). Even the most altruistic of wizards would realize that this would be a bad time to fight (i.e. on someone else's terms). Therefore, we can safely assume that the plurality, if not the majority of arcane casters of ninth level and above, would use their action to teleport to safety. We can safely assume anyone over 16th level is gone, regardless of class. One seriously wonders why anyone of over 12th level would even be in the stands, seeing as how they could probably compete. Arcane casters of 9th level or higher are probably gone. Clerics of 11th level or higher are probably gone (word of recall). Looking at the DMG city creation tables, the vast majority of the people present will be at or under four hit dice, and thus be transformed into wights. A straight HD comparison probably isn't sufficient, though. Let's say, off the cuff, that one needs nine or more NPC class HD to escape wightdom.

The negative energy blast will be modeled on the damaging turning variant, and this, if nothing else, should qualify as a greater turning. So, at twice the Worm's HD, that's 34d6 of negative energy damage. Assume the magic that shields the crowd can safely absorb 5d6 (the typical fireball), and that the referee can short out his own life in order to provide a further 8d6 (his level). So, the negative energy blast will only deal 21d6 to the crowd. Average damage (21 x 3.5) is 73.5. That'll kill an average 7th level barbarian (12+ 6 x (6.5 + 2) = 71.5hp) So we're left with a very small margin of people in the crowd who survive the negative energy blast, those from 8th level to 12th level (discounting those who have access to escape magic). However, they're surrounded by wights, and all but unarmed. It's a fairly safe assumption that most of them go down (especially once I apply the mob template to wights). They'll either rise as wights (probable) or more nasty beasties (unlikely, especially considering the speed with which the Worm was slain. Good job, hero-types). This being Kyuss, though, I seriously, seriously doubt that the attack was limited to simple negative energy. Ergo, there are probably thousands upon thousands of Kyuss worms in the area as well. It's a safe assumption that these 'wights' also possess qualities of the Spawn of Kyuss, including fast healing and damage reduction.

Second Conclusion: There are about 10,000 wights, plus or minus a few hundred. These wights more than likely have fast healing, damage reduction, and the urge to propagate.

Individuals; consideration the third

Ekaym, already tense from the destruction of Cauldron, would not hesitate to rabbit, grabbing the closest person as he does. Because it suits my sense of romance, and because they got along beautifully in the playtest campaign, we'll assume he grabs Tirra and teleports into the High Hold just south of New Cauldron. He'll inform the High Handcrafters of the situation in Deimos, and they will contact their agents in the area (who are, admittedly, limited). More importantly, they'll contact the Heroes of Cauldron, who have handled stuff like this before. The question is, will those Heroes still even be on this plane? Sure, they saved Cauldron, but did they kill the Big Bad? Are they molding a certain plane, or are they even concerned with the Prime Material anymore? Lot of questions there, especially when nothing they protected is under threat.

Celeste, though it causes her physical pain to do so, knows that she is the eye of Morwel, not her blade, and likewise uses magic to flee the scene. The Court of Stars is informed of the disaster almost as it occurs, meaning that the Church of the Whirling Frenzy and select Chaotic Good clerics are brought up to date.

Eligos, if he is present at all (which is a probability, seeing as how this is the event of the year, and he specializes in information gathering), will immediately teleport, along with the three closest people (probably agents or nobles) to Magepoint, the home of his master, the archmage Manzorian. All of Manzorian's agents, former agents near Deimos and allies (including Allustan, Eligos, Celeste, the High Handcrafters, Lashonna, a certain Bronze Dragon on the south coast, the Seekers, The Church of the Whirling Frenzy, the Churches of Phoraduk (god of Death) and Olanorn (god of War) and sundry others) are immediately appraised of the situation. Manzorian will act as the focal point, providing information to the rest of the involved groups, in exchange for favors and promises of future favors. Most importantly, he'll scry the area, and determine that Hell (or rather, the negative energy plane) has come to town.

All in all, though, immediate action is impossible. Sure, Manzorian will dispatch Wayfarer Guides (teleport mages) to evacuate as many important people as possible, and the Churches will do the same, as determined by their altruism and capabilities. The Court of Stars is prevented by the laws of the multiverse from sweeping in and saving as many as they can, but any celestials on the continent will certainly try to aid the evacuation. Unfortunately, their teleport ability is self only, and clerical spells are a little fuzzy on the transportation that isn't planar. Overall, the elites who weren't at the arena will make it out alive, almost without exception.

But mass deployment, sufficient to stop 10,000 wights? No fraking way, not when rounds are measuring how much damage the wights can do. Even assuming the response operate at maximum efficiency, it will still take a matter of hours to secure adventurers, and by that point...but we're straying into the fourth consideration.

Almost forgot: the negative wave was purely a horizontal emanation, meaning that the gladiators within the Cenoby (barracks) were unaffected. Therefore, the heavy hitters among the Gladiators (Auric's Warband, Arcane Auriga, Draconic Brood and Pitchblade) are all immediate survivors. Knowing Auric and his charisma, the gladiators will hold the Cenoby against all wight incursions. In time, they may be pressed back into the ruined city, but will remain in almost impenetrable positions. Wights aren't dumb. They'll leave a garrison force, and get on with plundering the city. Especially considering the number of high level characters in there, they'll be one of the first priorities for evacuation after the wights have conquered the city. I would suspect that those gladiators would nurse a grudge, though, and be among the squads that try to reclaim Deimos.

Third Conclusion: Many power groups are all but immediately aware of the situation. However, they can't act immediately.

Fourth Consideration
The damage the wights can cause is...ridiculous, to say the least. In a heavily populated city like Deimos, even assuming a cap on the number of times a particular wight can spawn, our 10,000 wights will at least double in under an hour. I can't find one of the threads that actually crunched the numbers, but they are truly absurd.

Fourth Conclusion: Deimos is pretty much screwed. Sure, the rich folk escaped, but all the solid assets, the trade goods currently in the city, heck, the liquid wealth still in the city... Economic downturn doesn't begin to cover it. For the next ten years, at least, the area is going to be wight-infested. Deimos itself occupies a crucial position in the land trade of the area, which means that sea-trade is going to have to compensate, which which Sasserine is going to get bloody rich (hmm, to run the Savage Tide or not?). Quick action may save some of the population, but that population is going to be made up of refugees, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Of course, if the PCs don't stop the Age of Worms, all of this is pretty much moot. But even if they do (anyone for taking bets on how many PCs will die?), Deimos' descruction is going to more or less force a split in the continent, into the East, West and Southeast.

Anyone else? Thoughts? Criticisms of my terrible logic? Suggestions?

2009-07-02, 10:04 PM
First, I'm enjoying reading your Campaign, please continue, especially with this Hell-in-a-city-sized-handbasket plot turn.

Second, you're logic seems sound. This Wight plague is going to spread out and ruin the city, but have you thought of how the various factions are going to contain them to that area? Are people considering that? Or will getting as many people as possible out be a much greater concern for a while?

2009-07-02, 11:10 PM
Nah... I'd say you're pretty much spot on. Depending upon creatures with flight capabilities that have an interest, there'll likely be some manner of carpet bombing to prevent the wightocalypse from spreading outward. I'd say that at least some group somewhere in the world is familiar with the last time a necromantic madman tried this sort of thing, so they might know a ritual to shut down wights' ability to spawn within an area such as a battlefield.

Several types of dragons likely would respond if it looked like it was a world/continent-level threat, since having a whole bunch of slavering wights hunting down all life on the continent makes getting food and staying alive difficult even for a dragon. So if a sufficient level of power is brought to bear, then Deimos is ruined, quite literally, and the wights are driven into the forests and undercity.

Otherwise... Probably some kind of crusades are going to be brought up to deal with the wight-horde as it, probably, splits up to go after all sources of life. Mostly defensive, and it likely will draw the attention of every single power group on the planet, eventually. Since they'll be wondering who was behind it, whether that continent is going to die, and if it does die, will they be able to take the ruins?

What sort of geographical barriers can actually slow or stop a wightocalypse anyway? All I can think of is impassable mountains, but then they could probably get into any tunnels... So the underdark probably isn't safe either...

I can't quite remember wight ecology and psychology, maybe Libris Mortis has some suggestions there. I think we can all agree that first they're going to nom on the living. The question is whether they'll immediately follow the refugees or if they'll go to ground or if they'll basically split up between those that can sense refugees to follow them and those that no longer sense the living and so decide to go to ground to hibernate.

Depending on whether you want them to spread very aggressively or be able to 'go to ground' ...
...Of additional pertinence for when they are spreading, Libris Mortis gives a variant rule that causes Wights, which have an inescapable craving for the life force of the living, to make a will save DC 25 (which, with their +5 will save, they can only make on a natural 20, so... 5% of those who go a day without feeding) or take 1d6 Wis damage (to represent their greater and greater loss of common sense/etc. up to the point where they go catatonic from the mental anguish.

Libris Mortis describes it as a sort of mental spike that drives them on with their craving growing worse and worse without feeding.

With their listed 13 wisdom and an average loss of 3 wisdom which they can't recover without feeding, then it takes about 5 days on average for a wight to "shut down" possibly either "freeing" its offspring until it's back up and running or causing its offspring to attempt to get it food ASAP. Once fed they'll recover all of the wisdom damage though.

Maybe they can enter a sort of hibernation if they feel that they can't get any life force in time to prevent themselves from shutting down, or maybe you don't wanna use that rule variant...*shrug*

Depending upon how you view them cooperating or competing, probably the wights'll turn into bands which share any morsels they manage to catch within their patriarchal band, with each wight draining one level off of the victim until it dies, since one drain is enough to sate the wight for the day and start the hunger anew.

I imagine after hunting gets scarce they'll start competing, possibly destroying one another or at least driving weaker bands off. That is, if nothing arises to direct their actions. Who knows, maybe due to what created them, Kyuss has the ability to influence them or even taken control of the body of wights (or at least the original OVER NINE THOUSAND!1) in the form of a necromantic intelligence.

There's also the possibility of them not wanting to create a wightocalypse to compete with themselves for food and deciding to make DC 15 intelligence checks to forgo creating spawn... Which requires a roll of 15 or greater... so 30% success rate there, so only 60% of those killed would rise as wights.

Could roll d% to see how many of the initial horde (or of the horde after the city falls) decide to forego trying for a wightocalypse of the entire world/continent or have them make some kind of wisdom/intelligence check to realize that they don't want to run out of mortals to feed on and then use that to determine the percentage that make the check.

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6419243 Posted a topic about this.

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=632562 this thread might have some additional ideas... I think it describes necromantic intelligences here... or was that Libris Mortis? ...I'm not sure right now x.x It's a variant rules thing in 3.5 though.

Chokepoints and the powerful mages alerted (probably have access to constructs, methinks):Hmm... Also, consider whether there are any chokepoints that those in the know would use to try to trap/delay the wights from spreading, either by walls of X spells or actually collapsing buildings or what have you. Even a construct that had DR/hardness of at least 5 could probably hold them indefinitely if they had to go past it (and couldn't get around) to get out. Since wights only do 1d4+1 (so 2-5).

Say, several large, iron or stone animated objects would be pretty much impervious due to their hardness (10 iron, 8 stone... basically acts as DR except applying to energy attacks too, I believe) provided that the wights didn't have access to weaponry, or at least, most of 'em don't.

Since constructs are immune to energy drain, and most of them would be immune to wights' regular attacks and supernatural abilities... Might limit the destruction to just that of a severe terrorist attack with wights in the sewers and having to be ferreted out for days, weeks, perhaps even years...

2009-07-03, 10:55 AM
Assuming you have some low-ish level NPCs getting Wight-ified in the initial blast, you might also consider the Wight template from Savage Species to add some muscle and intelligence to the horde...

2009-07-14, 08:36 PM
Blight, we dropped back to page 9? This is why we should game every week, guys. Bloody American independence.

My lack of patriotism aside, this was an odd session. As will be next session, for the simple reason that the PCs managed to derail themselves from the glorious Adventure Path. All Hail the Adventure Path! *Ahem* In any case, this digression from the Adventure Path (All Hail!) was brought to you by the PCs, who, despite nearly leveling twice from the XP gained from the battle with the Tiefling Priest and the Uglurstasa, are still grievously under-leveled and woefully under-equipped.

The Gruesome Details, or a quantitative study of how far behind the XP/GP curve the PCs are:
The PCs were, at the start of the session, 8th level, but only possessed 7th level gear. The Champion's Belt is a glorious adventure, but it's pretty skimpy on the treasure, especially when the PCs flee to escape the wights instead of looting the tiefling's chambers. The next adventure in the Path (All Hail!) recommends 11th level characters. Now, having already playtested that, that's a filthy stinky lie, especially for the level of optimization my PCs hit. But the one after that is HELL ON EARTH. Oh, merciful heavens, you will know the horror of that adventure once I post the playtest. Heck, for once, I'm not going to make a single fight harder. Optimize tactics, sure. But when the hideously over-equipped playtest party barely escape with their lives...

But I digress. In short, I needed to create a bridge adventure to bring the PCs to at least 10th level, and shower them with wealth. But at the same time, they have to prove worthy of it.

The Party
Anomander, NG male lesser aasimar Sorcerer
Delilah, NG female lesser aasimar Shapeshifting Druid
Jakob, LN male human Necromancer
Ursula, N female dwarf Rogue/Duskblade, deceased
Veit, LN male dwarf Evangelist, deceased

Kraskay's player had indeed confirmed that he wanted to return as a new character (his fourth). So, as of yet unaligned with the party: Fjornstrafoon, neutral male gnome Beguiler

Healing Time:
As you may recall (or not, it has been the better part of two weeks): Delilah, Anomander and Jakob had fled to the underground city, and across an underground lake into the Underdark proper. They traveled for some time in the darkness, over bare stone, finally spotting a ghostly light ahead and hearing the rushing of a waterfall.

Exiting the tunnel, they found themselves on the banks of a fast moving underground river, its water red with mineral deposits. A path lay along the river, leading both up- and down-stream. Immediately upstream was a ghostly green lantern hanging on a hook on the wall, next to a simple iron door. Neither Anomander nor Delilah wanted to enter, but Jakob, with a noble's desire for food and a more comfortable place to lay his head than a rock, took the lantern of the hook and ventured inside, after confirming that the door wasn't marked with unholy wardings or the like.

He wandered for a time within the sumptuously decorated halls within, until he at last saw another lantern approaching his. Meanwhile, Anomander and Delilah were setting up camp a safe distance from the door, waiting for the screaming to start. Veit and Ursula were making slaughter and love on the plane of Olanorn, the wargod, and Fjornstrafoon...well, we'll get to Fjornstrafoon.

Jakob moved closer to the other lantern, cane in hand, ready to draw forth his hidden weapon. Imagine his surprise when the lantern-bearer was not some unholy abomination of the netherworld, but a dark-skinned fellow in a richly embroidered nightgown, bursting with boundless energy. "Ah, welcome, welcome to the home of Ali'Akbar!" said he, embracing Jakob warmly. "My house is honored by your presence! Please, by Seseg's mercy, take your ease!" He continued in this vein for quite some time, summoning his servants to take Jakob's cloak and cane.

The servants, I should mention, were kobolds of impeccable cleanliness and taste, their beady red eyes glowing in the darkness and speaking perfect Sigil cant. 'Berk,' was their most common expression, filling in the spaces where ordinary kobolds would have yipped or yapped. Upon learning that Jakob had companions outside the walls of his house, Ali'Akbar at once dispatched his major domo, Fjornstrafoon, to invite the inside.

The three weary adventurers were brought to a table laden with food, and begged to take their ease, "for three days am I bound by the obligation of hospitality! Please, eat, drink! After the time is done, I will have a request of you." Ali'Akbar managed to learn that they had fallen companions, and requested a body part or even the whole corpse, that he might undertake their resurrection. Those three retired to their bedrooms, notwithstanding Fjornstrafoon's offers of warm milk, chilled wine, cheese and crackers, companionship or drugs. He did, however, in his infinite wisdom, send a dwarven woman to Jakob's room, for it looked like the poor noble needed a masculine shoulder to comfort him (natural one on a sense motive check).

Veit and Ursula were pulled from their afterlife to rejoin the living, and quickly bustled into the banquet hall, to feast and drink for a time. Veit in particular requested a barrel of the most wretched orc piss-excuse-for-ale. "It's the only way you know you're really alive!" After a rousing mock gladiatorial battle with an ogre, the dwarven couple retired to their chambers.

Sometime during that orgy of roleplaying, Ali'Akbar explained why, exactly, he was living in a cave in the Underdark. It seems he had stumbled across an ancient magical location, a labyrinth that never emptied of challenges or treasure. His home (more properly, Ali'Akbar's Magnificent Emporium and Labyrinth) was intended to be a launching point for expeditions into that labyrinth, mostly by bands of drow and duergar nobles eager to have their skills developed. And wouldn't it be a tragedy if one of them should die or be injured? Why, that was why Ali'Akbar was there, ready with the healing magic in one hand with the other outstretched.

On Fantasy Races:
Yes, Ali'Akbar is the stereotypical depiction of the overly friendly Middle Eastern merchant. He's Varaz, a human race who live almost exclusively in theocratic magocracies (so politeness is a major, major virtue) and have lots of trouble with horse nomads (so hospitality and the idea of the home are very important, to distinguish them from those barbarian nomads). If this is offensive to you, I'm dreadfully sorry. And please let me know how I could make my depiction better rounded.

Early that morning (or whenever it truly was that they woke up), both Jakob and Delilah received sending spells. Jakob's from the sage Eligos, who assured him of his family's safety, and the necessity to come to the town of Magepoint as soon as possible, for Eligos' investigations had uncovered something called 'the Spire of Long Shadows.' Delilah's was from the agent of eladrin court, Celeste, and contained similar information. (Feel free to post the text of the sendings, either of you [especially since I forgot to make DM copies]).

On Celeste:
I bloody love her. She's the only character to appear in all three Adventure Paths (All Hail!), and she doesn't even get a full statblock until the third. No, I'm not going to actually tell you anything. What do you think this is, a spoiler?

Ali'Akbar extends to the PCs the traditional guest gift (to the tune of an 8,000gp item each), and supplies Ursula with some basic gear to replace the ones currently under forty odd tons of splattered worm guts. He also offers to cast speak with dead on the tiefling priest's corpse, seeing as how they stuffed his body in the bag of holding alongside Veit's.

It was around this point that Ursula's player starts recording us with her sinister video capture device. The quality isn't great, but that's handhelds for you. And here it is. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naNmTuLQ-ZQ) For point of reference, I am Beta (or second Thomas).

For those of you that don't want to endure video of nerds in their natural habitat (or just can't hear the blasted thing; bloody Youtube), allow me to present a summation. They asked the corpse of the Bozal Zoal, the tiefling priest, four questions:
"What is the significance of the Spire of Long Shadows to the Cult of Kyuss or members thereof?"
"What is the next step in the plan of the cult of Kyuss to revive Kyuss?"
"How many other cultists of Kyuss were you familiar with?"
"What is the name of the ringleader of the cell in Alhaster?"

And the answers:
"It was the place where our god ascended."
"I am not part of that plan."
"I helped establish the Ebon Triad, and knew Theldrick. Beyond that, I knew only of another cell in Alhaster."
And the last one I have to retcon, because I messed up my sources: "There is no leader in Alhaster. The cult has expanded beyond there."

The party also wised up in that they were supposed to give vaguely reciprocal gifts in exchange, and offered all of the tiefling's gear to Ali'Akbar, as well as the Apostolic Scrolls, reasoning that it wouldn't do to have it on them if they were slain by agents of Kyuss. While I can't fault their logic, I have to wonder if they might have benefited from reading it first.

Having picked up a need for haste from the sendings, the party requested Ali'Akbar to tell them his quest for them before the three days of hospitality had elapsed. He confided in them, that, in addition to being on hand to provide healing to the patrons of the labyrinth, he had confirmed that there was also a control room which permitted one to shape and alter the labyrinth according to one's desires. This would, of course, make it easier to ensure that healing was required, bringing in further profit. Alas, Ali'Akbar was himself unable to get past the guardians, thus his request that the PCs find and unlock the control room, and bring him a rod of twisted crystal that would act as the control mechanism. Ali'Akbar also requested that they take Fjornstrafoon with them, if only to bolster their number.

Their numbers newly enlarged, the party was guided to a particular door deep within the house of Ali'Akbar. Beyond it was a long tunnel, leading into a cubical room. Ali'Akbar had confessed that he knew there was something wrong with gravity in that room, but that he knew nothing more. Surveying the room with arcane sight, Jakob concluded that it was an ever shifting arrangement of reverse gravity spells. They also noted an exit directly above the entrance, on the same wall. In front of that exit stood a clay statue. And rather than setting foot in my wonderful, convoluted trap of a hypercube, they pile into the bag of holding, and Anomander dimension doors up into the passageway above. Well, apart from Jakob, and he just blitzed past the statue with a fly spell. Sometimes, I can't decide if I hate players or love them.

In any case, the party travels on, entering a spherical room. Aside from the 10ft wide bridge running down the center and out of the room, the room is quartered into expressions of the elemental planes, with clouds above, flames to the right, water below and earth to the left. And, as soon as the party stepped into the room OH LOOK THE ELEMENTS HAVE COME TO SMUSH US! No, it wasn't by any means subtle. Then again, it wasn't supposed to be subtle.

The air elemental descended, wrapping itself into a whirlwind and picking up Veit and Ursula, who it proceeded to drop into the water. The fire elemental blitzed forward and lit Jakob on fire, since he'd managed to escape the whirlwind. And then the party started laying down the battlefield control. Jakob's ghostly hands (his personal fluff variant on Evard's Black Tentacles), Fjornstrafoon threw down a slow spell, Delilah an ice storm, Anomander a veritable stream of fireballs.

While the water elemental was beating the dwarves to a bloody pulp (with Veit periodically healing, all while underwater), the rest of the party locked down and just blasted the other three. The party had noticed pure examples of each element at the exact center of each, and Delilah used the tiny storm to expand her call lightnings into full strength bolts. Meanwhile, though Jakob's ghostly hands wasn't dealing any damage, the elementals, earth included, were unable to roll above a five on their escape attempts. And, because they were slowed, each full round action escape attempt actually consumed two rounds. It was not the finest hour of the elemental planes.

In any case, the elementals were defeated after a brutal fight (at least brutal against them), and the party retrieved a small orb from each element: a bottled storm, a ball of blue-hot fire, a diamond and a ball of blackened water. They then concluded, that seeing as how they had spent an awful lot of spells, that it would be best to rest.

On the 15 minute adventure day:
Oh, if they don't learn how to conserve spells very very soon, the Age of Worms is going to eat them alive.

Join us next time, as we see how many Planescape references I can squeeze into one session!

2009-07-14, 08:44 PM
Apologies for the piss-poor quality of the video -- we were in a poorly lit room, everyone was mumbly, and I didn't have the time (or patience) to even think of subtitling it. Next time though... next time...

Excellent session -- I'm glad Ursula's back :)

2009-07-15, 07:41 AM
Indeed. Those elementals had a BAD day. What exactly do those elemental sphere thingies do other than look pretty, and possibly be valuable?

2009-07-15, 11:16 AM
Ahh respawning dungeons... Fun times if they weren't already trying to save the world.

2009-07-17, 02:35 PM
Well, we are one day ahead of schedule before the rest. I was ok on spells, but Viedt had to pump a lot of healing into Ursula because they were stuck without support. Ah well.

Hrmm... I thought I told you I did peruse the Scrolls too. Oh well.

The rough text of the sending.
-Your Family is safe. Diemos is Over run. Travel to Mageport as soon as possible. Investigate the Spire of Long Shadows.

2009-07-21, 12:16 PM
So, unfortunate news, folks. We didn't have a session last week because of missing persons, and the same is predicted for this week. Week after that might be possible, but then it's three weeks of me being away at home, and school starts up when I get back. So basically, updates will enter a highly irregular schedule for the next five weeks. Please, bear with me, and hopefully the necromancy won't hurt too much when we inevitably drop past page 10.

Just as a status report: I've playtested the Adventure Path (All Hail!) up to adventure #10. The party is currently in custom adventure set between #5 and #6, in order to bump their wealth and level up to acceptable and recommended levels.

2009-07-21, 03:20 PM
I've had to take a break from writing up mine as well;will update soon.

2009-07-26, 07:38 PM
Question for Tam, spoilered below - others who have finished "The Champion's Belt" feel free to look, too, as it's to do with that chapter.

Ok, so the group is doing this at the moment. They managed to kill the tiefling priest (lucky bard managed to dispell the anti-life shell despite it being cast 6 levels above his caster level), and found the ulgurstasta in the globe. It's only the night of day 2.

The cleric-type on a whim decided to turn undead on the globe, and suffered a negative level as it backlashed against them; I described it as yielding a bit to her energy, but then it rebounded back and caught her with a negative energy backlash. (She rolled a 2, plus level and Cha, but still way too low to stand a chance).

So, they want to load up on a Death Ward, then come back another night to try to hammer through it with their turns. It feels a bit wimpy that you can overcome this massive spell ritual's powerful backlash with a 4th level spell. She'll eventually succeed, since she has a reasonable shot at the turn check, and about 50/50 on the level check.

What do you think?
Options are:
1) Nobody (Raknian, for example) discovers that they killed the tiefling priest, so they get to try the next day, or
2) Raknian discovers it, and decides to step up the game, possibly releasing the ulgurststa during day 3's fight. Of course, I don't know how fast he can get a rod of cancellation, nor how often he's in touch with the tiefling.

Either way, I also wonder about the ritual that they conducted - the ulgurstasta is already at maximum HP, but will lose HP each day, since the caster of the ritual is dead. Can it still activate the ritual by swallowing a "champion"? Is it still enhanced if released at less than its full HP? The text says that it gains the powers if released after it has reached full hitpoints...

Can it release the wave of evil, or by killing the tiefling and releasing it after, have they averted that? Would Raknian bother waiting till the last day to release it, or step up the schedule, since the arena will be reasonably full for any of the big battles? Does it know to go for warrior-types, to finish the ritual? Importantly, do you think that the ritual is disrupted with the death of the tiefling, or having hit max hitpoints, can it now complete the ritual (soooo bad if it does)?

Just looking for advice on how to interpret this bit. Also, I think I'm going to start bumping the spawn they meet up to favoured spawn, since they're just ripping them apart, and the spawn can hardly hit the PCs.

2009-07-30, 01:32 PM

You know the annoying part? I vaguely remember something saying that the globe was dispelled on the death of the caster (think it was in the Apostate Scrolls sidebar? I'm away from the issue), but it's obviously too late for that, even if I'm remembering it right. And I might not be, because I recall that they were trying to dispel the globe with turning in the playtest.

With your party, I get the feeling the fight with Pitchblade (day 3, unless I'm remembering it wrong) will be short and brutal (especially if they prepare dispel magic, like the playtest). So during that fight, I'd have no problem with the urglurstasa ripping out of the center of the arena just before or as they win. In fact, it'd spice things up immensely if the fight with Pitchblade goes quick.

My reasoning: late in the Adventure Path (#11 and #12, specifically), they're going to have to pull endurance runs, and this rewards that kind of behavior. So you got a negative level? Still gonna have to fight. (I vaguely remember there being a partially charged wand of restoration somewhere ; could've sworn it was that adventure. Or maybe it was in one of the treasure troves of #6). That, and Raknian is many things, but Wisdom was his dump stat, not Int. He's nervous about this whole thing, so he's going to go talk to Zoal/worship at the temple there. Most of the work for the games is done, but not the surprise ending. Now, the question is: will he be able to get a rod of cancellation overnight? My gut says yes, since it is the Free City. Sure, it'll cost him more, but Raknian knows that if it isn't freed, with all the guardians dead, it's a sitting duck (relatively). So he wants it free as soon as possible (which means during the Pitchblade fight), because he can guess who did this. Raknian himself will still be there; he'll probably just send his assassin to release it.

As for the urglurstasa itself: I would have it lose the bonus hp at the same rate it gained them (1hp/day, was it?). Unless you really want to kill your PCs (or if Pitchblade is an utter cakewalk), I wouldn't have it been enhanced (hasted, and all that, if I recall properly). I would keep the 'wave of negative energy,' but only if it swallows and kills a PC (or Pitchblade, but they'll probably bug out as fast as they can). If they die from the Con damage breath weapon, then it doesn't activate. Its swallow whole ability actually has to activate, and the creature has to die in (or on the way to) its gullet.

Spawn: dear heavens, the spawn are utterly useless. The playtest just dusted them without a hitch, and what with Blackwall Keep collapsing, my PCs have never encountered them. They're just a very narrow CR, and the PCs are never quite in the right place (which makes the tangential relation of Blackwall Keep even worse. They could have put down a band of Kyuss-spawn then).

Hope that helps, and that the breath weapon does massive damage!

Oh, and we're gaming tonight, so I hope to have the recounting up by the middle of next week. This should see us through the end of my sidetrek adventure, and back into #6 of the Adventure Path (All Hail!)

2009-07-30, 02:00 PM
Thanks - I was thinking along the same lines.

You know the annoying part? I vaguely remember something saying that the globe was dispelled on the death of the caster (think it was in the Apostate Scrolls sidebar? I'm away from the issue), but it's obviously too late for that, even if I'm remembering it right.

It loses 1d8 HP per day (IIRC) until it reaches normal HP, at which point the globe disappears and a very annoyed ulgurstasta is freed.

With your party, I get the feeling the fight with Pitchblade (day 3, unless I'm remembering it wrong) will be short and brutal (especially if they prepare dispel magic, like the playtest). So during that fight, I'd have no problem with the urglurstasa ripping out of the center of the arena just before or as they win. In fact, it'd spice things up immensely if the fight with Pitchblade goes quick.

Pitchblade could be tough, I restatted them a little to put them on a more even footing with the players stats, and Pathfinder barbarians are much stronger than 3.5. Being able to add your level to damage, or to automatically confirm a critical hit as a swift action is pretty strong.

I was *so* looking forward to Madtooth the Hungry... Misleading them about what they'd be facing. Having them having them buff up, and then having delays getting the beast into the arena.

I was even debating having a huge crate facing them, a hundred feet away or so, and when the whistle sounds a bunch of gnomes burst out and chase each other around with pies. Audience howls, party looks on dumbfounded, Raknian laughs, at which point he explains that, "The true beast is on the way, and thanks to Lilly and the Crusaders for being such good sports. Can we have a hand for Bungo and his clowns?!" A good 15 minute delay while they struggle to bring the real crate up to allow any minute per level buffs to dissipate...

Unless you really want to kill your PCs (or if Pitchblade is an utter cakewalk), I wouldn't have it been enhanced (hasted, and all that, if I recall properly). I would keep the 'wave of negative energy,' but only if it swallows and kills a PC (or Pitchblade, but they'll probably bug out as fast as they can). If they die from the Con damage breath weapon, then it doesn't activate. Its swallow whole ability actually has to activate, and the creature has to die in (or on the way to) its gullet.

Makes sense. Too bad, Haste made it really nasty. I may keep it, depending on how they do :)

Hope that helps, and that the breath weapon does massive damage!

Meanie :P

Oh, and we're gaming tonight, so I hope to have the recounting up by the middle of next week. This should see us through the end of my sidetrek adventure, and back into #6 of the Adventure Path (All Hail!)

Yay! I love that we're playing roughly where you are in writing it up, it means that I get to see how your players handle it when I'm prepping!

2009-07-30, 02:18 PM
Huh. I must have just imagined the 'automatically freed' bit, then.

Yeah, I keep forgetting that y'all are doing Pathfinder. I have the Beta on my computer, but I figured the Age of Worms would be one of my last 'pure' 3.5 campaigns.

I love Madtooth so very very much. I also love your clown idea, if only because it makes the PCs that much more on edge. I was so sad that I didn't actually get to use Madtooth on my players (the attacks go forever!)

You know what would be really mean? Spring the Apostle of Kyuss on them right after they finish off Madtooth. Instant TPK, just add PCs and despair.

Oh, I forgot to ask: did they clear out the rest of that level? By which I really mean: have they fought the akilith demon?

Also: Auric as written is incredibly boring. I never got to see my version in action, but I'd recommend changing him somehow, even if it's just into Warblade.

#7 spoilers; my players forbear
One thing I should warn you about ahead of time: the Sword of Kyuss ability 'invocation of the worm,' is ridiculous if you use the tactics as listed. Mainly because the PCs are facing 42d6, Ref half, for three rounds running. Also, the worm nagas have a feebleminding gaze and enervation. Even in groups of three, they were dangerous.

And sadly, the serendipity won't last, because I'm jaunting off for two and half weeks. Still, drop me a line, and I'll send you my changes when you need them.

2009-07-30, 03:58 PM
And still spoilered!

Yeah, I keep forgetting that y'all are doing Pathfinder. I have the Beta on my computer, but I figured the Age of Worms would be one of my last 'pure' 3.5 campaigns.

We're liking Pathfinder, but I'm finding things do need some tweaking. Can't wait to see the rules on August 13! There were a few really unbalanced things in the beta, but what appealed to us is that it had rules similar to many of our houserules (tougher tumbles, tougher concentration, etc.).

I love Madtooth so very very much. I also love your clown idea, if only because it makes the PCs that much more on edge. I was so sad that I didn't actually get to use Madtooth on my players (the attacks go forever!)

Yeah, I ran Expedition to the Barrier Peaks back in AD&D when I was a young DM, so the Froghemoth has a special pace in my heart. I was so looking forward to it, especially to see if anyone else recognised it.

You know what would be really mean? Spring the Apostle of Kyuss on them right after they finish off Madtooth. Instant TPK, just add PCs and despair.

That's horrible! But I have a feeling that if I don't release the Apostle (via either Okoral doing so or Raknian himself doing it (though I want him in the crowd, to gloat if it manages to swallow someone)) that the PCs will be back to take the sphere down themselves. Since I described it as being "like" a wall of force, they'll probably try buying a disintegrate or something, and using UMD to get it to work.

The latest really overpowered thing they've done is that Lilly took Imbue Spell Ability as a known spell, and she can pass Divine Insight over to people. Talk about a broken set of spells - you need a massive UMD check? No problem.

Oh, I forgot to ask: did they clear out the rest of that level? By which I really mean: have they fought the akilith demon?

Bwahahaha, no, they have not. And because Lilly decided on Imbue with Spell Ability and Recitation, she doesn't have Undead Bane Weapon, which she was considering. So they have no good-aligned weapons among them, and the Alkilith has DR 15/good.

She does have Holy Storm, which provides some decent no-SR, no-save damage (over time) against outsiders. I can totally see the Alkilith teleporting out and trying to get Bozal, and when he can't get him, recruiting the Ochre Jellies and leading them back to the room.

I'm trying to decide whether he would try bringing in the Hezrou before re-engaging the party. As a demon, he really doesn't want to be beholden to another demon for having come to help him out, but if he finds Bozal dead, I can see him deciding that the party is a little too tough for him. He is, after all, there from a Planar Ally spell - if he dies, that's bad. Of course, demons are a little wacky and chaotic. I'm somewhat concerned that arriving back with a Hezrou and Ochre Jellies could be more than a little fatal - that's a lot of demon-power.

I also have to determine what exactly the Alkilith was instructed to do. The fact that he won't come to Bozal's rescue implies some sloppiness on the restrictions, while it says that he can't teleport away and leave. Clearly he was brought in to guard, and probably to "kill intruders (other than X, Y, Z) who enter this chamber, and provide your services in taming and retaining oozes." Or something. I don't think it will follow them out of the temple area, so they can at least escape it. I can totally see it sending the Hezrou after them, if they flee (and if it makes the 50% chance to gate one in).

Also: Auric as written is incredibly boring. I never got to see my version in action, but I'd recommend changing him somehow, even if it's just into Warblade.

Agreed...<yawn!> I made him a warblade.
Maneuvers (8 known, 5 readied): Mithril Tornado*, Iron Hrt Surge*, Overwhelming Strike, Wall of Blades*, Dazing Strike*, Mountain Hammer, Elder Mountain Hammer*
Stances: Giant's Stance (fight as Large), Absolute Steel Stance (+2AC, +10 speed), Hunter's Sense (Scent)
Makes him a lot tougher.

#7 spoilers; my players forbear
One thing I should warn you about ahead of time: the Sword of Kyuss ability 'invocation of the worm,' is ridiculous if you use the tactics as listed. Mainly because the PCs are facing 42d6, Ref half, for three rounds running. Also, the worm nagas have a feebleminding gaze and enervation. Even in groups of three, they were dangerous.

I had no idea, I've only really been prepping well about a mission ahead, though I've read through the whole thing for the plotline and general feel of it. That's insane! I'll have to have a good look at that module.
As for #6, I'm looking at the weapons in it and trying to justify making them useful for the party. The dwarf uses a pair of kukri-axes (basically scimitars, but he wants them to look more like curved axe things rather than scimitars, so we made them 1d4+1 instead of 1d6), which are so uncommon that if the weapons were kukri-axes it would defy belief. I'm thinking of putting the morphing property on them for free, as a "blessing of Icosiol". that way he's free to upgrade them should he desire, without it boosting the cost incredibly.

Oh, did you notice that Manzorian offers them special items for you-know-what, and will Polymorph Any Object them to make them suit the PCs desired look? You can't PaO a magical item!

And sadly, the serendipity won't last, because I'm jaunting off for two and half weeks. Still, drop me a line, and I'll send you my changes when you need them.

Cool beans :)

2009-08-04, 09:50 PM
Right. I'm fairly sure this is my thread, and I'm not accidentally posting in Epinphrine's. It's been a long couple of days. In any event, we had a session before I left for home, and managed to finish of my sidetrek, so we're all lined up to hop back on the Adventure Path once school starts up again.

The Playtest:
What am I thinking? There wasn't a playtest for this, since it wasn't properly part of the Adventure Path. But as we move into the higher level play, the differences between the playtest group and my party become more pronounced. The playtest, thanks to the luck of the dice, and a little rigging by the Thieves' Guild of the Free City, make millions of gold pieces betting on the Championship Games. From there on out, their gear doesn't really improve. The majority of the liquid wealth is spent on wishes to improve ability scores. But they've got two fewer actions than the party, and no arcane caster (well, sorta; Talindra went into Sublime Chord), so their nova capacity isn't nearly as severe. However, with two healers for three people, instead of two for six, they've got a greater endurance. Add in the gear advantage (even before the Free City windfall, they were splitting treasure three ways instead of six), and the differences just keep on growing. Oh, and they split XP three ways instead of six. They haven't actually been over the recommended level for any adventure, but my party keeps lagging a level behind.

But my general point is that the playtests are becoming less effective. They ripped through adventure #6 like flaming chainsaws of fire (probably due to the massive increases from gear), and had some tough fights in #7. I get the feeling that for the actual party, #6 is going to be just about right. I have absolutely no idea how they're going to handle #7. I feel the compulsion to nerf.
The Cast:
Party Level is 9; they are overall very close to WBL.
Veit, LN male dwarf Evangelist
Anomander, NG male lesser aasimar Sorcerer
Jakob, LN male human Necromancer/Master Specialist
Fjornstrafoon, N male gnome Beguiler (absent for this adventure)
Delilah, NG female lesser aasimar Shapeshifting Druid
Ursula, N female dwarf Martial Rogue/Duskblade

The Guts and the Glory
To recap: Ali'Ackbar, friendly Varaz priest of Seseg the Brilliant, has restored to party to fighting fit. In return for his hospitality, the party is recovering a control rod for a magical labyrinth. Ali'Ackbar plans to use the everful labyrinth as a pay-to-play challenge ground for nearby Underdark races, exploiting his control of the labyrinth to increase his own profits. The party has navigated past the gravitically-challenged room and accompanying golem, and slain a single elemental of each of the primary Elemental Planes, recovering small orbs exemplifying each plane. Then, they rested.

When they awoke, Fjorn paused, as if listening to someone, said "Yes, of course, master," and gripping a charm tightly, vanished. Continuing down the sloping corridor from the elemental chamber, the dwarves eventually noticed that the gradient of the stone was such that they should be, by all rights, falling into the wall, or really, the floor. The crafters of this place had apparently seen little problem in changing the direction of gravity to indulge their cosmological whims. Eventually, the gravity-bending corridor emptied into a broad central chamber, with sixteen evenly spaced doors and a stairway disappearing into the ceiling (wall). Both Jakob and Ursula recalled their lessons in planar studies, correctly deducing that the chamber was a representation of the Great Wheel (Image (http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/1027/addplanescapemapsna9.pdf) for your reference), and that each door should lead to one of the Outer Planes, as well as which doors led to which planes. Jakob's arcane sight revealed an effect similar to that of a dimensional lock, preventing outsiders from using [teleportation] spells, as well as various minor spells to clean the area. But rather than opening one of the doors immediately, the party decided instead to continue up the staircase.

They emerged into a square chamber, facing a pair of huge bronze doors, set with a representation of the Great Wheel. Placing the elemental orbs correctly, they deduced that they would have to gather the remainder of the orbs from the room below. So, they assembled in front of the door to Celestia, and flung it open. They found a tremendous amount of greenish blood, and few shred pieces too small to easily identify. Rather than potentially risking the wrath of a summoned guardian, Anomander, with a mage hand, plucked the orb from where it rested, atop a model of Mount Celestia, and it was placed within the door on the floor above (beside). They then started working their way around the Wheel.

Bytopia: Another blood splattered (blue) room and a model of the facing planes of Bytopia. It took an Observation check or three, but they managed to spot the orb, and Anomander drew it home, without stepping into the room.
Elysium: They found a table with a topographic map of the rolling hills of Elysium. And beneath it, a pair of white wings, apparently ripped from some creature. Again, they don't tempt fate and enter the room, instead relying on mage hand.

Beastlands: Again a topographic map, this time of rugged mountains and deep forests. There was also a palm-sized golden elephant with iridescent wings perched on the highest mount, looking at the Wind Reavers with large, soulful eyes. Jakob's arcane sight caught emanations pulsing from the creature, and they struck up a conversation (in Celestial, no less. Turns out everyone in the party speaks it). Since it hadn't sensed evil, the creature consented to speak. They quickly learned that it did indeed have the orb, and prized it for its sparkle. First offering food ('but i'll eat it and it'll all be gone?' ), then a few platinum ('but what can i do with it?'), Jakob struck on the brilliant idea of giving it a bottle of wine. No less than one of the very last vintages to come out of the Free City of Deimos, its not only delicious but the bottle bore a pleasing luster. The creature happily accepted, with Anomander throwing in the platinum as an added bonus. After they closed the door, though, they heard the rush of displaced air, and the sound of something very heavy coming to rest on the floor. Peeking inside, the creature had swelled up into a massive silvery mammoth, and was happily guzzling the wine. They very quietly closed the door, and carried on.

Arborea: Once again (sensing a theme?), there was a model of the plane; in Arborea's case, an endless desert, a bounding forest and a sparkling sea. And pleasantly spiked on some pine trees were the remains of a creature Ursula identified as a coure (pixie-ish eladrin). They retrieved the orb (mage hand continuing its rampage).
Ysgard: This room was decorated with a simple memorial plaque, with a broken iron horn sitting against the far wall. Joining hands, the two dwarves (having spent their brief afterlife in Ysgard) entered and found the orb in the remains of the horn.

Limbo: Here the party opened the door to find a sallow-skinned man with pronounced joints sitting in a throne forged of raw chaos, struggling against the impositions of the creature's will. They discerned that the creature was a githzerai, and attempted to logically persuade him to give up the orb. I'm afraid most of the specifics of the conversation escape me, but I recall the party arguing that giving up the orb would be a movement away from materialism and thus towards perfection, and his counter-argument something to the effect of 'but the material also acts as an anchor, to remind us of our own mortality.' Eventually, after logic bounced about for a while, the githzerai's features shifted into that of a giant humanoid frog. A Gray Slaad, to be precise. Sir Wufflethompus of Gath, to be extra-ordinarily precise. At this point, the Wind Reavers resorted to illogic (with Veit growing more agitated by the moment). Eventually, Sir Wufflethompus consented to give up the orb, in exchange for a poor dance. However, when the party engaged in ludicrous dance numbers, the slaad only applauded their very post-modern interpretation, since bad was the new good. Jakob invited the slaad to dance with him, instead receiving the slaad's greatsword as a partner. After much nonsense, the slaad gave up the orb, graciously allowing the party to keep his sword.

Pandemonium: Spoilered for slightly squicky stuff
Succubi stuff, to be precise. The next door opened into an unornamented room, but for a single stool and the girl upon it. She was utterly flat-chested, with her hair in pigtails and dressed in formal academy robes. The demonic wings and the tail slightly disturbed the image of a prepubescent schoolgirl, though. Her name was Beatriche, and she was a loli succubus. And not by choice; she was loudly and repeatedly upset about her lack of proper sex demon chest ornamentation. Not that she could swear: whenever she tried, it would come out as "Flowers and lollipops and puppies and sunshine! Cherry pie! Gah!" She wondered openly about the perversions of her summoner. But besides being flat-chested, Beatriche was bored. And she wanted the party to amuse her, Peach it! Her idea of a threesome with the dwarves was quickly shot down, but she was willing to trade a kiss for the orb. Despite Delilah having a death ward prepared, they managed to convince her that giving up the orb would lead to her having a magnificent once more. Beatriche insisted that they close the door and let her retrieve the orb in privacy, though. I'll leave it up to your perverted imaginations. As they were leaving, Ursula (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) tossed her some wadded up sheets of parchment saying "You can pretend, at least." The succubus was positively gleeful, and added "Call me! My name is---" just as the door closed. When they opened it again, she only dimpled at them mischievously. Short version: They persuaded a succubus to give up her orb. Seriously. That's it. Stop looking at me like that.

Abyss: Another room with a dead guardian: in this case evident in the spider limbs and ichor about the room, and a representation of all six hundred and sixty six layers of the Abyss. Acting on a hunch, Jakob recalled that Lolth's home plane was the sixty-sixth layer, and Ursula searched it, finding the orb in the corner of a web, along with a collection of spider eggs.
Carceri: A nearly bare room, except for a pair of manacles shackled to the wall, with a severed inhuman foot still locked in one. They unlocked both manacles and dissected the foot, finding that the creature, whatever it was, had replaced the ball joint of its ankle with the orb.

Hades: Here, Veit encountered at last what he'd been thirsting for: a fight. The fiend rested on a huge axe, and Veit taunted it, "Can you use that axe?" Because it could fly, Jakob's battlefield control spells were greatly reduced in efficiency. Because it was a Nycaloth Yugoloth, and immune to fire and resistant to shocks, Anomander was forced to rely on other spells and Delilah's call lightnings were minimally effective. And then the maid of misfortune struck. The Nycaloth confirmed a critical hit against Veit, sending his head flying (Campaign death #10). Delilah decided that this would be a good time to test out her slayer shapechange, and ripped out the yugoloth's gizzard, felling it. The Wind Reavers briefly set up camp, while Anomander and Ursula dimension skipped past the golem and had Veit revived by Ali'Ackbar (again, with no level loss. How curious). Ali'Ackbar apologized for Fjorn's absence, saying only that he was attending to an errand of vital importance, and that he would rejoin the party as soon as possible. Delilah realized exactly how powerful her slayer form was, and stayed in it from then on, joining the front line.

Gehenna: Another room with the topographic map of the vertical-sided mountains and arching caverns of Gehenna, and the drained and withered husks of mortals thrown into the corners of the room- heads on one side, and bodies on the other, as if something had ripped the mortal's heads off with a single bite, and sucked the corpses dry. They managed to find the orb deep within the map, and reached through a long length of cavern to retrieve it, half-expecting to have a limb lopped off by a falling blade. But luck was on their side, apparently, and the orb was retrieved without incident.

Baator: Before entering, Jakob scrawled a note on a sheet of parchment and attached it to Veit's shield: "Obey the bearer of this shield" and in smaller print beneath "By the order of the bearer of this shield." The Bone Devil within, though, didn't seem keen on buying it. In exchange for disobeying the shield, though, he agreed to not try to bargain for the souls of the party. After chatting with them for a time, they finally got down to business. The bone devil revealed an interest in books, and Jakob tried to foist off some of his medical notes on the devil. The devil agreed, on the condition that he also be given a being to experiment on for three hours. The party left that option open, then retreated for a time to scheme. When they returned, they offered him the spellbook of Anomander, 'a very skilled mage,' and had Anomander demonstrate his power by unleashing many of his spells. The bone devil agreed, and the party scribed a 0-level spell in a spare spellbook, then Anomander wrote on the second page, "I'm a sorcerer." With both parties so naturally untrustworthy, they exchanged the items simultaneously, and the party slammed the door shut and barricaded it, writing on it "Do not enter; angry bone devil inside" as said devil congratulated the party on their ploy through the door.

Acheron: Opening the door, they found a cloven-footed fiend reclining on a hammock of iron cubes. After some half-hearted attempts to bargain with him materially, and some not-quite so half-hearted threats from Veit, the party exchanged knowledge of the world outside with the devil. Delilah growled, barked and howled at him for a time (still in slayer form) and Ursula told him of the recent events in the Free City of Deimos. The fiend tossed them the orb, and the party left.

Mechanus: Here they found a limbed and winged twelve-sided creature. Veit quickly convinced the modron that giving them the orb would result in less disruption to the Material Plane. The being of Law acceded, and handed over the orb.
Arcadia: Lastly, they encountered something resembling a humanoid rhino, who, after gazing at the party for a time, said, "I do not scent the stench of Chaos on you," knelt, and presented them with the orb.

With all twenty orbs in place, the great double doors swung open, admitting the Wind Reavers to the control chamber and treasury. Aside from a whole lot of platinum (35 pounds) and a variety of magical items, they found the control rod, a control console and a stand holding a seal. The seal was engraved with three runes in archaic Auran, which a comprehend language spell translated as Pesh, Aaqa and Icosiol. Pesh was the final battlefield between the forces of Chaos (represented by Miska the Wolf-Spider) and the forces of Law (represented by the Wind Dukes [Vaati] of the Kingdom of Aaqa). It was at Pesh that the Rod of Law was first used, then shattering into the Rod of Seven Parts. Icosiol was the Wind Duke (called the Wandering Duke) that wielded the Rod against Miska. The stand itself was engraved with Draconic runes that read "Speak What I Honor, Lest the Consequences Prove Fatal."

They determined that the Seal honored Aaqa most of all, and said the word aloud, lifting the seal from the stand. Divinations revealed only that the seal had a great deal of latent power, probably for use as a key or component in a ritual. The console yielded a status report of the Labyrinth of Testing (operating at 95% efficiency), along with exhaustive maps and creature listings. Triumphant, the Wind Reavers returned to the house of Ali'Ackbar, where he told them of an escape from the Underdark that didn't involve emerging into a city of wights: up a waterfall and through a tomb, to the surface. In the meantime, though, Jakob underwent a particular ritual that transformed him into an undead monstrosity---at least according to Delilah.

The Planar Monsters (for the curious)
It's worth noting that the bodies (or pieces and fluids thereof) of the outsiders lingered after death, rather than fading. Therefore, they must have been called, not summoned.
Celestia: Warden Archon: (changed to be a humanoid because animal-esque is the guardinal's schtick) Dead to an unknown assailant.
Bytopia: Ursinal Guardinal: Dead to an unknown assailant.
Elysium: Avoral Guardinal: Dead to an unknown assailant.
Beastlands: Laurel, Holllyphant: Alive; placated with wine and platinum.
Arborea: Coure: Dead to an unknown assailant.
Ysgard: None. The horn was an [I]iron horn of Valhalla, at least before it was sundered.
Limbo: Sir Wufflethompus of Gath, Gray Slaad: amused in exchange for his orb.
Pandemonium: Beatriche, Loli Succubus (and mad about it): Bargained with in exchange for the orb.
Abyss: Beblith: Dead to an unknown assailant.
Carceri: Farastu Demodand: Dead to an unknown assailant.
Hades: Nycaloth Yugoloth: Dead at the hands of the Wind Reavers.
Gehenna: Advanced Greater Barghest: Gained sufficient HD to return to Gehenna via a portal, not [teleportaion] magic.
Baator: Xanos, Bone Devil: Tricked into trading the orb for a sorcerer's spellbook.
Acheron: Goethe, Harvester Devil: traded orb for knowledge of the world outside.
Mechanus: NV-513, Pentron Modron: handed orb over to party when they convinced him it would cause less chaos.
Arcadia: Bator the Brave, Rhek Chaosgrinder: did not sense chaos among the party, and so handed over his orb.

Tune in not next week, but two or three weeks hence, for "A Gathering of Winds," #6 in the Age of Worms Adventure Path (All Hail!)

2009-08-04, 10:43 PM
Tune in not next week, but two or three weeks hence, for "A Gathering of Winds," #6 in the Age of Worms Adventure Path (All Hail!)

Looking forward to it; we'll have played that bit by then, but it'll be fun to read about!

2009-08-09, 08:06 AM
Guess what my players will be facing shortly... (work in progress :P)


Can't wait to see the look on their faces :)

2009-08-09, 01:46 PM
Well, blight. First: you've got art skills! Yay! Second: *Evil laughter* Third: *Continued evil laughter*

Enjoy! Still two weeks until the next update, though.

2009-08-09, 06:26 PM
Guess what my players will be facing shortly... (work in progress :P)


Can't wait to see the look on their faces :)

Yeesh. The look is probably going to be somewhere in the "panic" region.

Nice art skills though.

2009-08-09, 10:20 PM

Glad you like it - hopefully I'll have time to finish it this week before they meet it (I've advanced it to Colossal...).

I've also been working on Madtooth the Hungry, picked up the bits this morning for him, have him assembled but not finished yet.

getting ready (http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/4371/img6542l.jpg)
cutting it up (http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/5465/img6543x.jpg)
Madtooth! (well, needs touching up still...) (http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/1985/img6549m.jpg)

2009-08-09, 10:58 PM
The Attacks Go Forever! Quick, Grapple It!

2009-08-23, 10:58 PM
Just finished reading your journal, (I've been reading it every few days while I'm at work) really enjoyed it thus far. Hope you update soon!

2009-08-24, 10:36 AM
Yeah, sorry. Classes just started for all of us, so it's a little crazy. Going to try to have a session this weekend, though. We get back on track *CHOO-CHOO!*

2009-08-24, 01:16 PM
Yeah, sorry. Classes just started for all of us, so it's a little crazy. Going to try to have a session this weekend, though. We get back on track *CHOO-CHOO!*

Yay! Can't wait to read about this next bit; my gang are about to start chapter 6 this Friday, though the previously discussed opponent may have left the area in that time; they decided to spend over a week chasing L---- R------ down (they seemed to take his actions personally, and didn't want to give him a chance to become a recurring villain).

2009-08-26, 07:44 PM
Just a little preview of the horrors to come. :D

Our DM made this:

2009-08-27, 10:40 AM
Pretty awesome, Capricornus! I may have to make one of those too, though I'm not sure it'll look as good. There are actually a fair number of baddies I may be making out of clay in the next chapter(s).

2009-08-30, 05:00 PM
SHAZAM! Finally, an update.

Remember when I said that we were going to go back to the published adventures? Well, it's true...from a certain point of view. Rather than proceeding to adventure #6, I had a bit of a revelation. The PCs had missed a large section of "The Hall of Harsh Reflections," the last part of which did take place underground (Though originally, it was just at sewer level). Looking back on the playtest for that, you'll see that the playtest party suffered multiple party deaths. So, what kills 3 6th level gestalts should be just about right for 6 9th level single-classed PCs, right?

Our Bold Not-Quite-Heroes-But-Doing-Better-Types
Party Level is still 9, though they're very very close to leveling.
Veit, LN male dwarf Evangelist
Anomander, NG male lesser aasimar Sorcerer
Jakob, LN male human Necromancer/Master Specialist
Truphile, unknown alignment human Shadowcaster (Tome of Magic)
Delilah, NG female lesser aasimar Shapeshifting Druid
Ursula, N female dwarf Martial Rogue/Duskblade

Yup, Gameprisoner changed characters again. But Fjorn would have cried during the later adventures (read: undead), so it's probably for the best.

In which our passengers encounter a switchback to before:
Last session, the party had retrieved a labyrinth control rod for the Varaz priest Ali'Akbar. In return, he had directed them to scale the underwater waterfall, from the top of which they could exit the Underdark. His majordomo Fjornstrafoon had apparently failed in his quest to the surface, but Fjorn's contact Truphile had managed to secure whatever it was, and return with it to Ali'Akbar. The party, still shell-shocked and not exactly in the position to turn away help, accepted the newcomer's help.

Delilah shifted into her flying form, Anomander received a spider climb spell, and everyone else requisitioned fly spells from Jakob. Thus outfitted, they proceeded up the waterfall chamber, the water tainted red with mineral deposits. About a hundred feet up the chamber, they spot an opening in the rocks. Since everyone has darkvision, they also discern the arcane mark glowing on the wall. Jakob's knowledge of the Underdark and environs allows him to identify it as an illithid marking to the effect of 'Devourer territory, stay out if you value your brains.'

Seeing as how it would be a side trek, the party votes. And with only Jakob opposing it on 'Don't Tread on Me' grounds, they elect to go aberration-whomping.

What if the PCs hadn't felt murderous?
Well, then I would have proceeded directly to adventure #6. The sidetrek was a last-minute idea as is.

Traveling down the tunnel, they came to a semi-translucent marble door with a single round knob in the center. Ursula's keen dwarf-senses inspected it for traps, found none, and determined that the 'knob' was actually a pin, keeping the two weighed leaves of marble from swinging back into the walls. Opening the door, they proceeded into the chamber beyond. The terminus of a larger cavern, dominating their view was a pair of tall pillars and a set of double doors, both white stone with green-glowing mineral deposits. And once they moved into the chamber, the trio of octopins struck.

Imagine your basic arboreal octopus, adapted for caverns. Big as a man, dark purple in color, with penetrating bright yellow eyes. Now replace the tendril-tips with horrid pincers, and make the creature's eyes cause a slowing effect. That is an octopin. They can also hide themselves rather well.

After much confusion involving gaze attacks (look homebrewers! Something to fix!), the party...slowly...began...to...fight...back... The truly important part was that Ursula, Weit and Delilah (the melee types) all got slowed, thus preventing full attacks. But unlike the playtest, the octopins a) rolled wretchedly (thus preventing all but one or two rends) and b) had one of their number blinded by a certain necromancer. Delilah and Ursula finished off the octopins, while Weit healed Anomander's wounds (he was standing just a trifle too close, and had gotten rent).

Swinging open the next set of doors, they find a circular chamber, with a corridor leading out to one side. The chamber is dominated by a large stone brain, with manacles and benches set along the walls. The brain lashes out psionically, trying to dominate Weit. It fails, but the trauma destabilizes him slightly. And then it's a contest of 'how much can we use power attack against this static target?' The poor, poor stone brain doesn't even get a second domination attempt. When the stone is shattered, however, it releases into the Wind Reaver's brains a collection of memories: a horribly polluted lake thick enough to walk on, a rainbow of differently-colored lanterns and a constant whispering noise, a towering six armed creature with horrible rending claws and the standards of three gods dancing about him, a black-scaled lizardfolk the size of an ogre impaling a gnome on a trident, a lance sized for a deity...in short, the collected and generalized memories of the first party.

Proceeding down the corridor, they fling open another door into a laboratory and study. Against one wall is an oversized vat filled with a some opaque greenish liquid, opposite a small door. Another door lies opposite the entrance. Jakob immediately inspects the fluid, determining it to be some magical derivative of formalahyde, and flies up to collect a sample, with the use of tongs. And that's when the outsized octopin decides to strike ('Tasty squishy mage!')

Sadly, it doesn't inflict much damage. And Jakob activates one of the magical items from the Varaz treasure cache, creating a wall of force over the top of the vat. He can't seal it off (octopin's already half-heaved itself out), but he can certainly stop it from being mobile. Anomander hurls his typical fire burst, and I'm struck by a sudden thought. And a hurried glance at Wikipedia leads me to believe that formaldehyde fumes are combustible (though checking it now leads me to believe that I misread the entry). However, someone else turns up the fact that formaldehyde fumes are heavier than air, so the point is moot. Truphile uses some debilitating shadow magic, giving it -4 on all attacks (No! my sweet sweet Power Attack damage!) Ironically, even with Weit and Ursula pounding on it, it's Delilah, with her AoO-provoking Flyby Attacks in aerial (owl) form that finishes it off.

The door opposite yields a small scrying chamber with a semi-circular pool, determined to produce a clairvoyance effect. They try to use it to spy on the next room, but the pool produces only blackness. The other door leads them into a trophy chamber, with three cases filled with objects and a large statue of a glabrezu in the center. They survey the room, but not finding anything marked 'Dangerous: Kills devourers on touch,' they decide to catalog it later.

Carrying on, they throw open another door and find themselves in a large vaulted chamber. A pool of green fluid takes up the vast majority of the room, with the devourer levitating 40ft above the pool, glowing with spell effects. And the entryway is guarded by a quartet of octopins. The flayer plucks a bead from a necklace, and hurls it into the party (not doing great damage, but passable for a disposable item). Weit manages to reach Zyrxog, but the slowing gaze means that he can't attack. The battle proceeds slowly, with the mind blast proving ineffectual. To balance it out, though, Anomander's fireballs seem to have their heat leeched away. Delilah's flame strikes are similarly diminished, but the divine damage helps. Weit's attempt to dispel Zyrxog's magical protections is immediately countered, mysteriously.

Truphile, for whatever reason, places himself under the effects of a invocation that grants him hide in plain sight and attempts to sneak into the room. Unfortunately, the slow effect means that his movement ends directly between all four octopins. Also? His Stealth check was absolutely wretched, and the octopins rolled well for once. Two rends and five pincers later, he's lying dead on the ground (PC death # 11). Immediately thereafter (as in, the very next initiative count), Delilah's flame strike takes out all three.

Jakob throws out his black tentacles variant, and catches the devourer with ghostly hands. His minions defeated, grappled, and his ring of counterspells expended, Zyrxog makes an obscene gesture, and planeshifts out. By longstranding tradition, planeshifting mindflayers leave behind all magical items.

Is it the spell as written? Certainly not. Does it make the players hate me less? Probably. But the point is, for devourers, planeshift is an escape clause. Who knows where he ended up? Maybe you can't take mortal magic into the Far Realm? Or did he leave them intentionally? *cue sinister music*

As Zyrxog flees, the liquid in the pool drains away, revealing several humanoid forms, still breathing. But before the Wind Reavers can inspect them, five creatures approach them from the entryway. They are gray-skinned humanoids, the foremost clad in red robes, the others in leathers. The leader introduces him as Telakin, and asks if the party will act as his patron, since they've just disposed of his previous master. After a hurried conference, they determine to accept the dopplegangers for now, reasoning that they can at least control them this way. They also examine the humanoids, finding an elf male and female, a halfling male and female and a dwarf male. They all look rather diconcertingly familiar, at least drawing on the memories inflicted on them by the stone brain. So, in short, they found everyone who fell to mirrorkin blades the last time around.

But why, after killing them all once already?
Frankly, the death rate has been fairly absurd already. I never know when an encounter will go sour, and I'll wind up with another TPK sooner or later, even if only because of the dice. This way, there's a back-up party, waiting in the wings. Likewise with Telakin and his mirrorkin; gameprisoner in particular I thought would be suited to taking over Telakin (a greater doppleganger and able to effectively exchange monstrous HD for class HD), since he's gone through the most characters. In any event, the back-up party will operate about a level behind the primary: enough that with forewarning, they can at least recover the bodies and gear of the primaries. Who knows, they may even get to control multiple characters in the climax(es).

The Trophy Room Loot, post identification:
A severed juvenile black dragon head, alchemically treated so the eyes continue to glow. From a distinctive scarring over one eye, they recognized it as the former mate of Ilthane the Pitch. She is known to have killed her mate; but why did the devourer have it?

A small black metal cage, with spiked bars. They determined that it was a prototype model for a particular ritual involved opening portals to the Prison Plane of Carceri. The magic within is likely useless now, since the Heroes of Cauldron are likely repairing those planar thin points (see also: The Shackled City Adventure Path [All Hail!])

A broken saber, ritually broken and welded back together to as a jagged dagger. Between a lot of knowledge checks, they pieced together the following information: The saber was originally known as Death to the Masters, forged by Lovas (horse-nomads) to kill Varaz (Ali'Akbar's people, now mostly extinct), during the period of Lovas slavery. It was used by an elven dervish when a small band of heroes beat back the Great Orcish Invasion (See 'King Fiendbane, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse' [Well, you could see if I *had* campaign journals for it online]). The dervish did survive the Invasion, and attained a high position, so there's no logical reason why her weapon would be ritually 'killed.' Rather than cursing those struck by it, it now bears a horrible curse of misfortune (and is a +2 unholy dagger, to boot).

A tiny cube of a book, animated and containing an Infernal record of the names of 100 demons, as well as their notable deeds. A notable entry includes Kizarvidexus, whose horns the first party found in the tomb of Zosiel. They haven't yet determined if the names within are truenames or not.

A set of kyton chains, imbued with a flicker of spirit so that they twist and rattle by themselves. A vacuous tome hidden among other books titled 'unspeakable tome.' A figurine of wondrous power: bronze griffin, tainted somehow so that it summons a fiendish griffon to attack the summoner. Ten jars of preservative liquid, four of which have intact beholder eyestalks within. A petrified pseudodragon. A voodoo doll of Elden, causing him minor pains. A periapt of foul rotting. A greatsword with golden quillions, reddening with iron impurity near the tips, formerly belonging to the man Brage, who went mad.

All in all, a rather large concentration of cursed and semi-cursed items.

So, it's up for grabs how folks are going to handle the re-introduction of their old PCs. We'll see how the party composition changes next Friday, and I suppose y'all will find about it a few days later. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get to adventure number six.

2009-08-30, 08:36 PM
Cool, I wonder whether they'll choose their shiny new characters or their dinged up old comfortable characters.

2009-08-31, 10:51 AM
I am so grateful I introduced Ali'Akbar's Emporium and Labyrinth now; I have a convincing reason why they'll only lag a level behind, despite not traveling with the party. That, and they can put out brushfires and help deal with the wreckage of Deimos.

This should be the last high level D&D campaign I ever run, so may as well let the players savor it (yay, personal E10 variant)!

2009-09-01, 12:34 PM
I know I'm sticking with Jakob for now. Kerrul died earlier, before the TPK, so he's out. The dwarven Drunken Master I was planning to do is probably a no go, simply because it's too terrible a class for this campaign.

So, I need to think of what I want to do for an alt still.

2009-09-01, 12:47 PM
You know, "Thus outfitted, they proceeded up the waterfall chamber, the water tainted red with mineral deposits," made me think that you were doing something odd...

2009-09-15, 08:01 PM
Right, so having lagged behind a week on the updating, I have an unfortunate announcement for the readers of this thread. As if it wasn't bad enough to be late, we're also discontinuing the Age of Worms Adventure Path (All Hail...wait, what?)

The truly absurd number of fatalities meant that no one was actually getting attached to their characters. Which Anna Molly cited as the reason she was dropping the campaign. So I asked the group about it, and between that, and the inherent wonkiness of high level 3.5 play, we came to the conclusion that we just weren't having fun anymore. And since fun is the whole point...

So, while the group is switching to a light-hearted Star Wars game (run under a modified Serenity [Cortex] system), there is one small amount of business left: the last session.

The Party
Party Level is 10, but dynamically changed in composition
Jakob, LN male human Necropolitan Necromancer/Master Specialist; the only player to not change characters this session, and only member of the second party in this one [Werebear].
Elden, NG male halfling Cleric/Hospitaler (trading around some class features to get Xena back); the only member of the original party, albeit back after a short stint in the afterlife. He justified his rebuild as the will of his god, Turmlar [Darth_Tom].

And the new characters:
Tiatan, N male elf Necropolitan Shadowcaster/Mage/Umbral Theurge (I wasn't precisely clear on his class breakdown. I do know he had both shadowcasting and regular magic) [Gameprisoner].
Raeus, N male elf Barbarian/Bear Warrior [Weit's player].
Elina, CG female lesser aasimar Favored Soul [Hex_31].

Anna Molly was unable to attend this session, and later informed me that she had to quit the campaign. But it all worked out in the larger context, so no worries.
The End of the World As We Know It
My players, defiant to the end (or just forgetful, depending on your perspective), manage to forget that they'd seen a set of huge double doors in the waterfall chamber, just past where they'd entered Zyrxog's domain. So, with Jakob having acquired teleport, they skip past the rest of adventure #6 (and when I say 'the rest,' I really mean 'all') and aim for Magepoint. Telakin and his doppleganger minions accompany them, with Telakin responsible for teleporting his own group.

Note that I say aim. For Jakob's very first teleport spell comes up 97: similar area. So instead of landing on a roof in the over-crowded town of Magepoint (Wights, refugees, nearest economic center worthy of the name, etc), they wind up about a thousand miles to west, in Indar-Thek.

Magepoint is under the domain of the archmage Manzorian (read: Mordenkainen). Indar-Thek was the capital of a magocratic race, the Varaz (hello, Ali'Akbar!). Magepoint is suffering from the occasional wight attack from the ruins of Deimos. Indar-Thek was under the domain of the dracolich Azurebones and lots of vampires. Magepoint is the home of their future employer, Manzorian. Indar-Thek was the home of Ali'Akbar. Plus, the roof tiles looked similar. While everyone groused at Jakob, he fired off his second teleport, and managed to land on target.

Once there, they met with Celeste, who brought them up to speed on the situation in Deimos (see the Wight Apocalypse speculation, above). They learned that Auric and some of the gladitorial teams were still holed up in the Cenoby as wightbait. While Celeste went off to arrange a meeting between the PCs and Manzorian, they directed their doppleganger minions to seize control of any crime networks springing up in Magepoint or the refugee camps. Certain more altruistic members of the party went off to spend their magic to help the refugees.

The party met with Manzorian, and got the info-dump. He wanted them to investigate the ruined city of Kuluth-Mar, and the Spire of Long Shadows. His peer, Balakarde, had visited the city a few years back, entrusted a bundle of notes with Manzorian and shortly disappeared. Manzorian wants them to uncover any clues they can in Kuluth-Mar, and bring them back to help him make sense of Balakarde's notes.

They teleport to the city, using a painting of the city as a focus. The city itself is being reclaimed by the jungle, and a twenty-foot tall ring of obsidian encircles the ziggurat, from which an improbable vertical construction juts- the Spire of Long Shadows.

Investigating the obsidian ring reveals the presence of powerful, inwardly focused abjuration magic, likely the work of eladrins and elves. The party passes over without harm, and finds the very soil on the other side to be infested with Kyuss worms. As they approach the steps of the ziggurat itself, they share a communal vision: Of masses worshiping King Kyuss, and a black stone monolith atop the Spire of Long Shadows, now absent.

Even from the ground, they can make out a faint shimmer of magic at the peak of the spire. But instead of using magic to scale the outside, they decide to save their spells and see if there are interior stairs. They enter the ziggurat, past wall carvings of Kyuss' forces, undead and otherwise, ravaging other cities. The central chamber is marred with a large pit in the center, where the floor has collapsed. Three doors mark the cardinal directions, apart from where they entered.

DM Note
I actually cut an encounter here, with the Kyuss Knight and his vicious beetle friends. I wasn't content with how the Kyuss Knights had been statted, so I was trying to buy myself some time. Again, I hadn't been expecting them to jump into the Spire of Long Shadows (#7) without finishing off #6.

A vile smoke wafted from the pit, affecting all the party members who still breathed, taking the edge off of their fighting ability (shaken). They chose a door at random, and opened it.

Beyond lay a torture chamber, with walls seemingly composed of writhing Kyuss worms. Inside were three beings of angelic beauty, marred only by scars and the minor fact that their eyes had been replaced with writhing worms. One wore seemingly woven green armor, and carried an elegant, blue-hilted greatsword. The other two were winged, and as they moved, their arms elongated into burning sword blades. "Kill them," hissed the armored fallen eladrin.

The fight was long and arduous. A ray from Jakob greatly reduced the eladrin's strength, forcing him to instead rely on his spells. The sword archons swooped this way and that, trying to rip souls from bodies. Tiatan managed to catch first the archons, then the eladrin, with a glitterdust spell. The eladrin, in turn, petrified Elden with a lucky roll on a prismatic spray. Between only one melee type and the fallen celestial's high spell resistance, the party just couldn't deal damage fast enough. Beyond that, they were spreading out the damage, trying to simultaneously engage all three.

One of the sword archons was killed, but the glitterdust soon wore off on the other, and he began to attack the undefended casters. The eladrin threw up a wall of force to give himself breathing room, and managed to heal himself. With both Tiatan and Elena running around while invisible, the eladrin cast see invisibility on himself. Jakob managed to lock both archon and eladrin in place with his grasping hands (black tentacles) spell, and Tiatan tried to dispel the eladrin's see invisibility. Unfortunately, he dispelled the wrong spell, removing the effects of Jakob's empowered ray of enfeeblement.

The eladrin, elated, teleported into the midst of the party, ready to cut them to pieces. While the archon was grappled by Jakob's spell, Raeus' bear form had worn out, reducing his potential damage considerably. The eladrin dropped Elena with a full attack, and Jakob decided to get out while the getting was good. The party regrouped on him, with Raeus holding Elena's body. Unfortunately, Elden's statue was on the other side of the room. So they teleported out, abandoning him.

The party at Ali'Akbar's, they had Elena raised, and they fomented a plan to dash in invisibly and teleport out with Elden's statue. Unbeknownst to them, however, Elden was a statue no longer. The eladrin had broken the spell on him, and was trying to cut a deal with him.

The eladrin and his archon ally wanted out of the obsidian ring, but they couldn't escape while it was intact. So, they wanted Elden to breach the ring, letting them all escape. In exchange, they would only infect Elden with a Kyuss worm. Elden agreed, on the condition that they both repair the ring once free, and that he have stewardship of the eladrin's sword as collateral. Amazingly, the deal worked out, without treachery on either side. After the fallen celestials had fled, Elden used a sending spell to contact the party. "Come pick me up."

The party did so, accepting Elden's story that his god had revived him as an undead in order to understand how the other party members (mostly undead) viewed the world. However, once they returned to Ali'Akbar's, Jakob insisted on inspecting everyone (read: opening everybody up) for any trace of Kyuss worms. Finding none, he was content.

So that's where we ended things, after two more deaths (#12 and #13) and a potential traitor in the party. Depressing, ain't it?

Oh, incidentally: Ali'Akbar?
Formerly of "Toamalz's and Ali'Akbar's Magical Emporium," Ali'Akbar was turned into a vampire during the fall of Indar-Thek, about seven hundred years ago. Sure, he *claims* to be a priest of the (dead) sun god, but that's just a cover story. Oh, and all those "true resurrections," where the characters weren't losing levels? Raise deads, with a human sacrifice standing in place of the the character's level loss. But with that said, why help the PCs? What benefit could they be to a vampire lord ur-priest? Well, Kyuss is trying to turn the world in undead types and worms. Neither of whom are known for their buying habits. Ali'Akbar is a merchant, and he wants to stay a merchant. The Labyrinth was starting to bring in enough profit that he could afford to bet on the long-shot PCs. Besides, he might want to take over the world sometime, and it's hard to do so if the world has already been ended. Besides, Ali'Akbar has fought PCs before. It didn't end well for him.

So, any questions? I ran the playtest up to the start of #10, so I could certainly post those. I may end up running it through the end, just to get some dramatic closure for myself. Epinephrine's is running strong, along much more traditional lines, so if you just want to hear the conclusion of the story, that's the place.

Also, would people be interested in hearing about the space operatic tales of derring-do?

2009-09-15, 08:55 PM
Heh, I would love to hear the full tale of those who could actually win

2009-09-15, 09:48 PM
Sorry to hear that you're folding it up - my players loved hearing of the horrors that befell your poor PCs. Makes them feel lucky to have scraped by.

2009-09-21, 08:27 AM
That's a shame, it was a good read