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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    The Frozen North
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Seven deadly sessions, Seven deadly...well, you get the picture.

    Spoiler: Leaving the Jungle
    Show
    We pick up right after the fight against the Elven raiding party, and the all important looting of bodies! There's a selection of greatspears and chain shirts from the ragers, a wicked set of jagged picks that the Throatcutter was using (Angelena's kidneys twinge at the sight), but there's a few items that really catch the party's attention:
    • A small leather charm bag, filled with a snake fang and rabbit fur - A Chronocharm of the Horizon walker
    • This wide greatsword has a gruesome grip and hilt - it is made of what looks disturbingly like a spinal cord. Even the blade looks to have been carved from the leg bone of some giant humanoid, yet rings like metal - +1 profane burst Greatsword
    • This set of armor is far sturdier than its macabre materials would suggest. Despite being made of yellowed bone, it can repel a steel blade. It is highly disturbing for most to handle however, let alone wear- magical breastplate of some sort
    • A heavy leather bag, stitched with arcane symbols. Inside are small polished bones, every inch covered with carved runes. Upon closer inspection, they are spell formulae - A Wizard's spellbook
    • A green and white jade ring - Ring of Antivenom
    • A fine woven metal headband - Headband of Intellect +2


    Sona flies up carefully to look for any sign of a Bonfire, as everyone is more than a little nervous at the thought of having to return all the way back to the ruined keep in the jungle. The road continues north and upwards, into what looks like a series of mesas and canyons. Passing her Vitae check, she feels a tugging sensation towards the north. Everyone uses whatever abilities they have left to try and heal up, and the party limps north. The jungle quickly gives way to bare stone and jagged rock, the road continuing along an elevating raised cliff. Said road abruptly ends with a sheer drop, but a small Bonfire burns at the edge. The party gratefully collapses for the night.

    BONFIRE ATTUNED - Canyon's Edge

    During the night, Janath slips off to make his own way in this world...when Angelena wakes, she feels a connection between her and Janath break.

    In the morning, Kiani the wizard comes across the scene of a recent & bloody battle on the road, and hastens along it - the other worshiper of Pelor the Twins had mentioned must be nearby. Encountering the party, it's a pretty tense meeting (when Puck's first action is to start advancing towards Kiani while muttering, "If I get her before they invite her to the fire, I won't get in trouble..."). After a bunch of dancing back and forth, no one dies and Kiani joins the group, immediately gravitating towards Sammael and Angelena.



    Spoiler: The Canyons
    Show

    Background Music

    Gazing out from the cliff edge, this seems to be a maze of Mesas, canyons, and ravines cutting back and forth. These aren't small either, it's a several hundred foot drop down to the bottom, and easily several hundred feet across to the next mesa. There's the sound of what must be a BIG waterfall off to the west (though echoes through the canyons makes it hard to accurately gauge), and the Old Road points north before the cliff drops away. Peering down, there's a very rough and treacherous series of switchbacks leading down the cliffside (more like a series of narrow ledges angling back and forth). Carefully, eeever so carefully the group makes their way down the cliffside.

    Talvosh fails his check, and Angelena fails hers HARD. They go tumbling down part of the cliffside before managing to catch themselves on a ledge together. The damage makes Talvosh frenzy though! Buut Angelena uses Air Walk to get out of Talvosh's reach, and then Talvosh passes his save to voluntarily end his frenzy. Everyone makes it down, and travelling across to the next mesa, remember about their super long spool of magic rope. Sammael uses his spider climbing slippers to scramble up and tie off the rope so everyone else has an easier time making it up, and they find the remnants of the road again.

    Continuing north, this mesa is gigantic; the party travels for half a day and there's still lots ahead of them. The remains of the road travels quite close to the west edge of the mesa - A knowledge (geography) check reveals that none of this area seems natural. It would have taken a fairly cataclysmic event to shape the surrounding cliffs and ravines like this. However, such musings are interrupted by a strange glint in the sky, approaching rapidly! Initiative!

    The Juvenile Steelwing (not as high an attack bonus, lost its razorfeather spray) divebombs the shiniest target, chomping into Puck. The rest of the fight quickly turns into a slugfest - Puck gets Enlarged and manages to trip the Steelwing, and everyone piles around hacking at the metallic bird. Kiani tries to grapple the bird with a Huge fiendish monstrous centipede, but it can't get past the attacks of opportunity. It does eat a bunch of attacks instead of party members though, which is always a plus. Puck gets Fly cast on him, and lives the dream! He flies up and smashes the prone Steelwing into the dirt for a LOT of damage. The Steelwing's crazy AC and damage reduction lets it break free and start flying upwards without dying. Before it can either wheel around for another divebombing (or escape) though, Puck charges straight up and continues the time honored tradition of landing brutal Crits! The Steelwing smashes to the ground, very dead. With some successful Knowledge checks, the group identifies the bird, and realizes that its feathers are quite valuable. Working carefully, they manage to collect and wrap up several hundred feathers, spreading them among the group. A proper crafter could turn them into quite the impressive arrows. Continuing onwards, the road cuts out into open air.


    Spoiler: Crossing over
    Show
    Deciding to cross over the gap to the mesa west of them, our heroes devise a plan. Puck flies over (using the spell) to the other side of the cliff while holding onto the end of the rope, and loops it around an outcropping of rock and braces himself. Talvosh holds onto the spool, and after looping a rough harness, traverse Kiani across the 150 ft gap successfully. Next is Angelena, and that goes smoothly as well. Next is Sona's turn, and Talvosh fails his strength check. Sammael and Talvosh make their Reflex saves to dive and catch the spool before it flies over the edge, though, so Sona just gets the lovely experience of freefalling for a couple seconds, then bouncing upwards. As Sammael and Talvosh stand up though, a black blur flickers right in front of Sammael's face. Said flicker was a massive black arrow slamming into Talvosh's shoulder! He barely manages to hold on to the rope, but Sona quickly casts Fly on herself and translocates out of the rope harness. Everyone scans the area for signs of their attacker, but no one spots anything. Then another arrow flashes out of nowhere, this time sinking into Sona for over 2/3 of her health! Sammael notices it came from the northern part of the plateau he's currently on. He squat-runs forward while quaffing his tinctures. Everyone else hunkers down for cover, and Sona flies over to Angelena frantically. Creeping forwards, Sammael manages to spot a strange rippling motion on a small cliffside ledge. Shooting an arrow at it, it turns out to be a small hunter's blind - but it is empty.

    The remaining members make it across the gap, and they hustle west until they find a small dip in the rock to hide in for the night. Examining the arrows, they're unusual; one uninterrupted piece of black metal with fins rather than feathers. It would require quite the amount of force to fire these.. Sona hears a faint metallic scrape during the night while on her watch, but nothing comes of it. In the morning though, everyone notices another arrow jutting out of the rock about 40 ft away from where they were sleeping, with a note impaled under it.

    Spoiler: The note
    Show
    Leave! Your kind is not Welcome!


    The group cuts west, pretty certain they'll come across the river feeding the (very loud by now) waterfall. Eventually they do just that. Sunken into the rock, it is broad, violent, and deep looking. The rushing rapids look fast enough that even Puck is unsure if he could keep his footing across. Instead, they travel along the river a little further north until they reach a more easily crossed section. Eventually they come across some stone ledges jutting out over the river, leaving a 15 ft gap to cross. With some jump checks, more rope, more successful checks, and one emergency use of translocation anklets, everyone makes it across safely and I don't have to roll the damage for being dragged down rapids and then eventually hurled off a massive waterfall. On the other side is a curious sight...there's a path carved into the stone, leading arrow-straight north and south. There's also 3 sets of obvious humanoid tracks going south. After some debate, the group decides to head north, not wanting to backtrack any more. They travel for the rest of the day, and camp out again without a fire. The next day, after about half a day of travel, they reach the northern edge of this mesa. Using 2 Fly spells, Talvosh and Puck convey everyone across the massive canyon in two trips (there's some joking about a mosquito biting Talvosh in mid-air, and him frenzying and divebombing whichever poor victim he was carrying. Strangely, people prefer Puck). Also, it's official that Sammael surfs on Puck's back Megaman/Rush style. As people are across though, they hear the most enchanting Music...Puck, Angelena, and Kiani fail their Will saves and start wandering towards a nearby chasm. Talvosh gets a hold of Angelena to stop her, and Sammael "helpfully" knocks Kiani down and loosely hogties her. Poor Puck flies over everyone and down into the chasm though. Descending further, Puck sits down in front of the pretty woman singing the lovely song.

    The group of harpies fill Puck full of arrows, blasts him with a Scorching ray, and bludgeons him with clubs before he snaps out of it and manages to escape the chasm with alarmingly low hit points. He slams to the ground in front of Angelena and burns a Vitae in preparation for the harpies attacking in force. So close...


    Spoiler: The Harpies
    Show
    Dun dun dun
    There's a great wailing cacophony of shrieking and cackling laughter, but the harpies take long enough flying out of the chasm that Angelena and Kiani manage to clear their heads from the befuddling song. The first harpy to soar out of the chasm is just a basic mook, so the readied actions of an arrow and a Great Thunderclap sends her tumbling to her mostly assured demise. The rest eventually make it up, and the battle is on. The Spellbinder and the two Archers are the major threat, but none of the harpies are playing fair, flapping back and forth out of reach, above the broad chasm. The Spellbinder throws a Wall of Fire down around part of the party, and the Archers blast away at Puck, hoping to finish off their original prey. Sona manages to hit the Spellbinder and the Archers with a Great Thunderclap, and one archer tumbles back into the chasm, stunned. She regains her wits before pasting on the bottom of the chasm, but she's essentially out of the fight. Kiani summons a Howler Wasp which goes after the harpies, and then gets a club to the head for her troubles. A lane opens up, and Puck rockets forward at the Spellbinder! Unfortunately, she uses Wings of Cover to stop him dead, and then flits backwards and dispels his fly spell. Puck manages to angle himself to eventually land on the small spire of rock partway down the chasm, but that's still 100 feet down. Kiani summons an air elemental, but unfortunately it's too small to be much of a threat. Sammael's arrow shots are also stymied by the Spellbinder's Mirror image, and me rolling an image taking the hit rather than the Spellbinder almost every time during the fight.

    Angelena puts up a Wind Wall to try and block the archer, but she just flaps over to one side and keeps plugging away at the party. The Spellbinder conjures another Wall of Fire and scorches Angelena, Kiani, and Talvosh, and Sona hits her with some Magic missiles. Then Angelena gets Air Walk on Talvosh, and he rushes the very surprised Archer, landing a heavy blow (but only one because I was cruel and made him trade pounce away - outdamaging the rest of the party by way too much and I had warned him at character creation it might happen). The archer retreats and shoots Talvosh repeatedly in response, and then the Spellbinder looks over with a cruel smirk...and Dispels Talvosh. The only reason Talvosh doesn't become red paste smeared across the chasm floor is the drop takes long enough for him to burn a Vitae before impact, allowing him to survive the 63 points of damage.Down in the chasm, the archer that had been stunned tries to sing and charm Puck into stepping off the spire to his death...Puck saves, but he doesn't have a ranged weapon. Instead, he makes a massive strength check (at Talvosh's suggestion), rips a large hunk of rock free, and rolls shockingly high to smash the harpy with said chunk of rock! She rolls a 1, and falls to her death (for real this time).

    With the party's two heavy hitters out of the fight, things are looking bad, even with Angelena calling a celestial giant eagle to help out. Kiani takes out one of the few remaining minions with Vipergout serpents, and then hits the Spellbinder with Phantasmal Assailants. She fails the initial save, but makes the second, but that's still 4 pts of wisdom and dex damage! Sona blasts back and forth with the archer, blocking her arrow with Wings of Cover, but that allows the Spellbinder to shoot her down with a Scorching Ray killing her. Sammael keeps shooting, and Angelena busts out a Holy Smite, killing the archer and severely wounding the Spellbinder. After blocking a suprise long range critical bowshot from Talvosh WAAY down below with Wings of Cover the harpy lets out a pained shriek of dismay and disappears with a puff of magic. We end the session there, and I hand out another giant chunk of xp. Angelena and Sammael rocket into level 8, Kiani gets partway through level 7, Sona and Talvosh are close to 9, and Puck just squeaks into level 9.


    Whee, fun session!

    Spoiler: DEATH COUNT
    Show
    Lucky number seven
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-12 at 01:04 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #62
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    The Frozen North
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    Male

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Surprise! Early eighth session! I have a super early flight Sunday morning, so we played last night instead.
    Spoiler: Applicable
    Show


    No Sammael player this time, so it is he who is in silent NPC "follow" mode.

    Spoiler: Harpy fight aftermath
    Show
    Talvosh and Puck are rescued from the chasm with some spider-climbing slippers and magic rope, and the harpy archer who died up top is thoroughly looted. Puck claims her enchanted longbow, as the lack of any sort of ranged weapon was a bit of a pain last game. The archer has more magical items than everyone expects, and party wealth is spread around a bit. Everyone is starting to get a little pack-mule-ish with the amount of gear they're lugging around. Then since everyone is beat up and wounded, they decide to make camp...right next to the chasm with no attempt to disguise themselves...where they fought an enemy who obviously transported away while still alive.

    Why thank you, for the present . Right around midnight, the harpy spellbinder (sorcerer, spellbinder just sounds cooler) comes back and wakes up the party with a lovely Wall of Fire right underneath their sleeping/resting bodies, while floating around at a comfortable 200 ft up.

    Feel the burn

    Everyone is awoken by the pleasant tingle of oh god it hurts why am I on fire, and Puck turns out to be quite the archer with his new bow, pegging the spellbinder with an arrow and forcing the second to be deflected with a wings of cover (even with the Shaky flaw). The spellbinder puts Mirror image up again prudently, and I again get maximum images. The rest of the party scrambles out of the ring of magic flame, except for Talvosh who rolls into the centre - the heat is pointed outwards on this one, so he wins the lottery while everyone else sizzles some more. Talvosh shoots with his bow, but the distance makes retaliation from the rest of the party more difficult. Kiani calls up a howler wasp who starts ascending, while Sona puts mirror image up and gets further away, and Angelena backs away from the flames and heals a bit. Once the howler wasp makes it closer to the Spellbinder, it gets an enervation to the face. Seeing as I roll 4 negative levels and the howler wasp has 2 hit dice, it just "Poofs" away and a pair of wings floats sadly to the ground. More arrows shoot upwards (and some make it past the mirror images and OP magic blocking), so the Spellbinder swoops down to try and catch everyone with the dreaded Slow spell!

    Except the whole party makes their will saves with flying colors...uh oh. A hail of arrows, magic missiles a Glitterdust and other various magical projectiles assault the Spellbinder, putting her to low low health. The party is looking pretty beat up though, so she banks around and nails poor d4 hit dice Kiani with all three Scorching rays, killing her stone dead. Talvosh looks to finish it, shooting through the top of the wall of flames! If he makes his concealment save to hit the Spellbinder, it'll be a flaming arrow for style - but it misses. The fight drags out, and it takes shooting every single one of the images, but Sona and Puck comboing magic missiles and arrows finally slay the Spellbinder. The entire party runs over to "make sure she's dead" ie double tap with extreme prejudice. Thankfully for Kiani, Angelena had attuned with her before they went to sleep, so she reappears next to Angelena instead back at the beginning of the canyons. They strip the spellbinder clean, claiming her bracers of retribution, circlet of charisma, magical vest, and two(!) Vitae before collapsing back to sleep. In the morning, Talvosh mentions that he saw several bodies (and bones) strewn about the chasm floor, along with a passage leading downwards, so they use the flying Puck express to ship everyone down.


    Spoiler: The bottom of the chasm
    Show
    It's...not what the party expects down there. The bones strewn about are no longer strewn...they've been approximately reassembled and arranged to point at the passageway. Even the harpy corpse (under the heavy rock) has a wing pointing at the passageway. Talvosh also notes that the whole room has been thoroughly stripped of all valuables. Somehow, even the harpy (still under said rock) has been relieved of everything except her underclothes. Cautiously, the party creeps down the tunnel. It spirals around and down, and suddenly there's lit torches set into the wall. The tunnel opens into a large circular chamber, also freshly lit. There's two narrow slots or windows carved into one wall, and as Sona peers in, another chamber visible through about 10 feet of rock. There's also a large bell with a pull-cord mounted on the wall.
    Puck gives it a yank.

    There's a massive explosion of bright lights and smoke in the far chamber, scaring the pants off of Sona! Once the pyrotechnics spell fades though, visible in the chamber is a small hooded and robed figure, standing on a stool.

    "Ah! Customers! I haven't had customers to this store in a while!"

    MERCHANT DISCOVERED

    The small robed individual introduces himself as "GRABISLOV the Eminent," who is accompanied by his assistant Mr Snatch (who seems to be a pair of eerily pale hands with too many joints and disturbingly long fingers). Grabislov quickly tries to sell the party an enchanted bow used by a great emperor thousands of years ago...it's the bow from the harpy that Puck crushed with a rock. The party spends a couple hours (in real life) haggling and trading back and forth, as Grabislov seems to have access to extradimensional storage, and has a chance to have anything in his stock. No one has appraise or overly high diplomacy, but cautious bargaining and some high rolls keeps the party from getting completely hoodwinked. Grabislov still ends up ahead on most of the deals, but only by a little bit rather than outright robbery. The group ends up trading around most of the weapons and gear they had collected, along with all of the Steelwing feathers, for an assortment of magical items. 2 bags of holding, some boots that enhance Puck's speed to 30 ft, a protective ring, some better vests of resistance, and the big purchase, a ring of mighty summons. Methinks Kiani won't be getting much group loot for a while...there are deals that don't go through, such as the crystallized Vitae that no-one can afford after the ring, or Grabislov offering a favorable trade for a fresh vial of Talvosh's blood. Sona does get the strange crystals they found in the Sinking village identified; they're control crystals for a magical ship of sorts, often used by the sorcerers of the remains of the Solar Empire. Grabislov is quite disappointed that the party doesn't know where said ship would be. Puck also gets a tidbit of info: if they make it to Logos on their Pilgrimage, Puck should look for a woman named Maria...she may know something about his true creator. Finally, Grabislov bids the party farewell, mentioning that they may meet again. Another blast of noxious of smoke, and Grabislov the Eminent disappears (along with his gear and Mr Snatch). The torches go out too, so the party carefully makes their way up and out of the chasm, then continues north.

    Someone is still tailing them, though...

    After a couple days travel north without incident, the group reaches the edge of the plateau, another sheer drop into a deep canyon below. Again the Puck/Talvosh Airways gets everyone to the ground, and it seems like this canyon connects to several others. Before they can get too far though, something splats into the ground in front of them. It's a black arrow, but the splat was from the bag of something horrifically foul smelling that was tied to it and was spread all over. A survival check reveals that it smells like...


    Spoiler: Worm bait
    Show
    The ground shakes as a Gargantuan Purple Worm bursts out for snacktime! Puck hacks into the beastie, and gets bit for his troubles. Kiani summons up an almost as big centipede to try and distract it, as well as a fiendish ape. Sona prevents Puck from being swallowed with a timely benign transposition with the fiendish ape (which goes down like a goldfish cracker). Talvosh and Puck together do an absolutely disgusting amount of damage...but when Angelena goes to step into the fray, a black arrow slams between her shoulder blades from behind for a critical hit! The worm gets hacked to pieces, but then Talvosh gets an arrow to the back. It only takes a mirror image being cleaved in twain and a grease spell (plus Puck tripping him by one point) to prevent Talvosh from murdering anyone. Taking cover behind the monstrous centipede, Talvosh and Puck get fly cast on them, but by the time they make it to the top off the cliff, there is no sign of their pursuer. Another bag of foul smelling liquid splatters across the group as the two ascend though. We end the night there, next to the giant chopped worm.


    Spoiler: DEATH COUNT
    Show
    Eight! The rampage continues
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-12 at 01:04 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    And a question to the folks who peruse our shenanigans! I'm trying to keep the journal at a good pace, with lots of detail and description, but I don't want it to read like a court transcript with an exact blow by blow of every die roll or skill check. How am I doing so far? Good level of detail? Being too brief and could use some more? Too much? Let me know what you think please

  4. - Top - End - #64
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Australia
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by curious-puzzle View Post
    And a question to the folks who peruse our shenanigans! I'm trying to keep the journal at a good pace, with lots of detail and description, but I don't want it to read like a court transcript with an exact blow by blow of every die roll or skill check. How am I doing so far? Good level of detail? Being too brief and could use some more? Too much? Let me know what you think please
    As far as I'm concerned there's the perfect balance - We've got enough detail to establish a decent blow-by-blow but you haven't bogged it down with rolls or overly specific descriptions of exactly what happened in each turn.
    Thanks for putting in the effort :).

  5. - Top - End - #65
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Jeargroth's Avatar

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    Sep 2014

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    I HATE SCORCHING RAY.

    If Kiani loses all her Viate, and becomes hollow, I am rolling up a ray caster who does nothing but heightened , maximized, twinned, echoing scorching rays.

    Or I am bringing back Janath, going Legacy Champion Hellfire Warlock with Felldrain.

    Either or... GM has now been warned.
    SPOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeargroth View Post
    I HATE SCORCHING RAY.

    If Kiani loses all her Viate, and becomes hollow, I am rolling up a ray caster who does nothing but heightened , maximized, twinned, echoing scorching rays.

    Or I am bringing back Janath, going Legacy Champion Hellfire Warlock with Felldrain.

    Either or... GM has now been warned.

  7. - Top - End - #67
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Thank you, Oshi!

    And because I'm bored in an airport right now, I have an offer. I'll answer any questions anyone has about the game, the world, the plot, etc. I'm not going to answer with massive spoilers, but I'll certainly try and give some knowledge and teasers. Think of it like the loading screens that have little blurbs about items or events in the world

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    Wild North Yonder

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Yeah I got one - the jerk with the black arrows; we ever going to actually get to ask him what his freaking problem is?!?!

    I've also got a long standing curiosity about the island of sorcerers we have left alone for now.

    Oh. And if Logos is the ONLY freaking city still standing in this place.

    Feel free to add lurkers! :P

  9. - Top - End - #69
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by Picanet View Post
    Yeah I got one - the jerk with the black arrows; we ever going to actually get to ask him what his freaking problem is?!?!
    Talk, fight to the death, toe-mayto toe-mahto...

    I've also got a long standing curiosity about the island of sorcerers we have left alone for now.
    It is a very curious place. On that island are the ruins of what was a worlds-spanning empire at one point.

    Oh. And if Logos is the ONLY freaking city still standing in this place.
    No, but it is by far the most welcoming and accessible
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2015-12-07 at 11:09 PM. Reason: That "s" on the end of world changes things a bit

  10. - Top - End - #70
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Nine sessions for Mortal PCs, doomed to die (and die, and die)...another surprise early session due to people having pesky Christmas related things on Saturdays, sheesh. Who does that?

    Spoiler: Down in the canyons
    Show
    We rejoin our stalwart heroes at the bottom of the canyon, where they chopped up a ravenous purple worm, but the mysterious sniper had once again escaped after harassing them. Having no luck spotting any trace of the hunter, the party decides to follow the canyon east, then north. They make a wise decision and use prestidigitation to cleanse everyone of the worm bait that sprayed across the party at the end of the fight, so the random encounter chance is back to normal. Another day's worth of travel takes the party around another mesa (and they do not encounter another purple worm despite there being numerous signs of their presence). Searching for a cavern of some sort to make camp in, Sammael manages to discover an illusory cave-in, and inside...a Bonfire! The party piles into the secluded cavern, and happily collapses for rest (but slapping an alarm spell on the entrance is a wise choice).

    LOWER CANYON BONFIRE ATTUNED

    The only things inside the cavern is the Bonfire, three carved wooden markers, and a scroll tube. The wooden markers have names on them - Baltan, Gweneyr, and Medea. Inside the scroll tube is a disturbing message.
    Spoiler: ? Entry of Vaughn of Esmerra
    Show
    *The date is illegible, and the writing is much more uneven and shaky than previous entries*

    Damn them! Itís too much...just too much. How can you save a world from itself?

    Baltan is dead. Gweneyr; worse than dead. Medea... Our accomplishments have come to naught. This place has devoured us whole and left nothing of value behind. I travel back to where we first arrived in Artaith, alone. The things this Curse has done, and the things needed to fight it.
    *a section of writing is damaged or the quill was pressed so hard it has partially ripped and cannot be deciphered*

    At least Iíll die on a beach, with a nice view of the ocean.

    Vaughn


    The mood goes somber as Sona reads the message to the rest of the group, and sleep comes a little harder. In the morning, they continue to the north, and come across another winding path up the cliff face. Clambering to the top, they seem to have reached the end of the canyons: in front of them is the largest drop yet though. It's at least 400 feet across, and it looks at least that deep. A massive bridge spans the entire length, heavy wooden planks and stout ropes as thick as a man's arm. The bridge is 20 feet across, and seems remarkably solid. No one is surprised when I draw the bridge on the map (I have to split it into 3 sections it's so long). There seems to be a shape of some sort at the far end of the bridge, so Sammael zooms ahead with his silly silly speed. Everyone else buffs up in preparation, as this is an entirely not subtle encounter setup.


    Spoiler: The Bridge...of DOOOOM
    Show
    The shape zooms towards Sammael, and as he gets closer, it appears to be a large sphere of swirling air...with shapes in it. It rockets towards him! Initiative! I roll a natural 20 for the Sweeper, so the Living Spell of Defenestrating Sphere + Vortex of Teeth tries to run Sammael over. Wisely, he moves out of the way and makes his save. The rest of the party moves up, and Sona uses a clever benign transposition to swap Sammael and Puck. Puck slams the Sweeper into ropes on the side of the bridge and partially into the air, but it just floats there (I get quite the glare for no dungeoncrashing damage). Sammael moves up and chips the thing, and Talvosh runs up and past it in prep for some charging next turn.

    Then the Hunter strikes. From the other end of the bridge, hundreds of feet away, black arrows pound into Talvosh's back. The Sweeper tries to send Puck and Sammael skyward, but they both make their saves. Sammael starts sprinting towards the other end of the bridge, Puck and Talvosh start dismembering the Sweeper, and everyone else hustles forward. The Hunter throws an Entangle onto the bridge to slow the party down, then throws something at the foot of the bridge (on his side) and backs away. Angelena nails the Hunter with a Moon bolt, but he makes his save and only takes 3 Str damage (still not nice though). Kiani had made herself invisible earlier, and sprints up right close to the Sweeper with the intention of sliding past. However, the Sweeper has Blindsense...it moves over and engulfs Talvosh, Puck, and Kiani. Talvosh and Puck take attacks of opportunity, and make their saves. Kiani fails her reflex...then fails her Fort...then fails her second Fort.

    This was the whole reason I created this monster . She is flung 50 ft into the air, but luckily for Kiani the random direction lands her back on the bridge. The falling damage slams her into negatives though. The attacks of opportunity from Talvosh and Puck deflate the poor beastie, and everyone hustles forward. Sona uses another benign transposition to swap her and Kiani, allowing Angelena to heal her.

    The thing that the Hunter threw at the bridge? Turned out to cause a Wall of Thorns to sprout up and block the bridge exit off. Sammael simply jumps off the side of the bridge though(!) and lands on the side part of the cliff, commanding the Hunter to surrender. Everyone else throws some long range spells, Angelena gets an arrow in the side (which convinces Kiani to stay prone and combat roll down the bridge), and the party struggles through the Entangle before Angelena gets close enough to dispel it. Sammael gets a bunch of arrows to the chest for a present as the Hunter lets loose and shouts in a harsh ringing voice.

    "You damn Cursed! All you do is bring death and destruction to everything around you!" As Sammael charges in retaliation, he cuts into the Hunter as he notices that he is just like Puck! He is a cloaked and hooded figure with metallic armor plating for skin, and large eerie birdlike blue eyes. Sammael hurts the Hunter, but it's still one on one and not looking good for Sammael. Talvosh makes an absolutely ludicrous jump check to vault OVER the entire Wall of Thorns just in time to see the Hunter cast Arrow Mind and drop Sammael to -5 at point blank range. Puck smashes into the Wall of Thorns and makes it partway through while the casters rush across the rest of the bridge. Talvosh charges with a Max power attack Leap! And of course crits, shrugging off the arrow of opportunity as he had to cross in front of the Hunter. His mighty blow smashes the Hunter to negatives and ends the fight, and then Puck makes his save to end his frenzy.

    "...Finish it..." The Hunter rasps as he painfully tilts his head to expose his neck. "Just do it, you monster. You know you want to!" Puck makes it through the thorns, and barks for Talvosh to wait as he stares at the first creature that was the same as him. The rest of the party makes it over and surrounds the fallen Hunter.

    There is a lot of tense questioning. This Hunter is full of hatred and bitterness towards the Cursed, believing that they will only bring further pain and suffering to Logos. The whole group, in particular Sona, Sammael, and Puck, however, manage to calm and talk with the Hunter enough to get his name: Spotter. Spotter eventually agrees to talk (and is partially healed by the group). Spotter has been haunting these canyons for years, offering one warning to leave to those Cursed on pilgrimage before passing judgement. He snarls in response to the groups claims of innocent individuals.

    "I had to kill a student I trained for 10 years because the Curse had consumed him! 10 years and all he could do is try to tear my heart out!" Puck in particular seems to shake Spotter with his words, and then Sona drops the bomb of asking about the mage with the metal hand.

    Spotter: "...Mother? You saw Mother!?"
    Sona: "She's the one who marked me, and killed all of us to send us here."

    If Sona ever wondered what it looked like for a steel man's heart to break, she just found out. Spotter denies it desperately, but when Angelena and Puck agree as well, he slowly gets up and starts walking to the cliff edge. As he's driving a spike into the rock, Spotter reveals the mage's name: Maria of Logos. Mother of the Forged. Spotter quickly spools a rope out and rappels down the cliff.

    Puck is having none of it though, and chases him down the rope. I'm fully expecting Puck to execute this fellow Forged at this point as he corners him in a small little cavern hideaway. Instead, he shames and inspires him with an impassioned speech of perseverance and determination. At least partially convinced that this group of Cursed might be different, Spotter agrees to accompany them for a bit. Specifically, he agrees to lead the group to a sanctuary of sorts; another Bonfire tended by a man named Shepherd. The party will need to rest before they traverse the Wasteland that separates them from Logos.


    Spoiler: Leaving the Canyons
    Show
    And the winning D'oh! moment is all mine. As Talvosh hands Spotter his bow back, he asks what it does. Showing off a little, Spotter nocks an arrow to show how the head magically catches...on...FIRE! I FORGOT THE FIRE DAMAGE ON HIS BOW!!! NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! If I remembered that I would have killed both Sammael and Talvosh. Ah well.

    As the group travels downwards, Sona peppers Spotter with questions about everything. Spotter is able to answer some of them, but like everyone they've met, is unaware of the Curse's origins. He does confirm the dragons have always been insane for as long he's been alive, and that they hate sorcerers particularly. The strange canyons and torn landscape was caused by some event called the Castigation centuries ago. As for the Curse, it's been around for at least a century, maybe more. More and more fell victim as it spread, and with greater speed. Open conflict and warfare spread everywhere, and now there are just small pinpoints of civilization spread about. Around sunset, the group reaches a plateau that gives a glimpse of this Wasteland

    Desolation. Blasted rock. Craters. Eerie dust clouds. No trees. No water. No green of any sort. The brief glimpse is of an utterly destroyed landscape before darkness and fog obscures it from view. The party continues, and takes a small switchback trail that would have been difficult to spot without Spotter's (hur hur) help.


    Spoiler: Shepherd's Sanctuary
    Show
    Nestled in a tiny little valley is a green meadow. Across the meadow is a small church, and what seems to be a well-tended graveyard. Warm light spills out of windows, and the whole group can immediately feel the pull of a Bonfire, stronger than usual. A man with a lantern and a cane shuffles out in response to Spotter's whistle (how he whistles without lips is a mystery not meant for mortal men), and cautiously welcomes the group to spend the night. As soon as Angelena crosses the low stone wall, she can feel that it's Holy ground. Shepherd hustles them inside the church, and offers them the wonders of hot food, cots, and blankets.

    There is a bunch of questions as everyone but Puck and Spotter fill their bellies with hot stew (Talvosh produces gator meat for said stew). Shepherd confirms most of what Spotter said, and also expands some on the Curse itself. It seems that determination and willpower can keep the Curse at bay for longer, as some succumbed in a matter of days, compared to others who lingered for years. He also asks that the group not disturb his patients behind the church, as there are around a dozen Hollowed that he does his best to tend to. Sammael's immediate "destroy Undead" urge is paused by Shepherd's holy symbol: a crook. It gives off the same vibe as the hooded statue that Sammael felt kinship with, and Shepherd reveals himself as a servant of Uthra.

    Turns out the Hollowed don't do anything other than sit around and eventually wither away, lulled by the Bonfire's proximity. Shepherd does his best to make their passing peaceful restful, and to somehow help them. So far, he has had no success, but he continues to try. Shepherd also answers questions about the Wasteland. It's only a little under 2 weeks to Logos in a straight line, but the Wasteland is full of dangers. Warped living spells, rogue war constructs, elven warbands, and Daemons haunt the scarred battlefield, so discretion is a virtue. Most importantly to Sona and Angelena, he has spare bedrolls for them (since the harpy Spellbinder burnt theirs). There is more info that I'm sure I'm forgetting, but those are the big points.

    While this is going on, Spotter is grilled by Puck on what the **#% he is. Spotter confirms that Puck must be a Forged, the race of sentient living constructs created and awoken by Maria of Logos (and her goddess Thelesis, lady of Wizardry and Trickery). Even though Puck was assembled in another world, Spotter undoes a little catch to partially open Puck's chest to reveal a Crystal Heart. The core of a Forged, it somehow crossed worlds. As to his purpose, that's up to Puck. Every Forged is given free will to choose their own destiny, and their own path. Spotter also gifts Puck with a Forged component: A Rod of Escape that fits into a slot in his forearm (it works as a rod of escape for anyone, but for Forged they can carry it without it filling a hand or item slot). Over the night, Spotter also scrounges up a masterwork composite longbow for Talvosh that has a strength rating close to Talvosh's. We end the session there, and everyone but Puck levels (so Kiani is level 8 and everyone else is 9 now).


    Spoiler: DEATH COUNT
    Show
    Still at eight. Next time, Gadget!
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-12 at 01:05 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #71
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Jeargroth's Avatar

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    Sep 2014

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Fairly quiet night... Kiani got off a whole one spell, and even that didn't do anything... We were saved by our tanks again. Would have been interesting if the bow had been Flaming or something. May have changed the whole encounter. Alas it was not meant to be.... *Snicker*

    Glad the GM boot is on the other foot.
    SPOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!

  12. - Top - End - #72
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    10th session, and in a completely shocking turn of events, there's a bunch of fighting *gasp*

    Spoiler: Leaving Shepherd's Sanctuary
    Show
    The group rests, and awaken feeling more refreshed than they have in a while. The Bonfire seems larger than the other ones they have rested at earlier, and Shepherd mentions that he has spent quite some time tending to it. In fact, when they wake up, everyone gains a few temporary hit points from the Fire. Sammael grills Shepherd for more info on the Wasteland, and isn't thrilled with what he gets.

    "Time and space in the Wasteland are...frayed, weakened. Things from the past, from other places can sometimes push their way through, can warp the area. Be very wary of anything you see. Frozen images of past battles can come to life - most of the time they're illusions, but other things can hide within that are certainly not illusions. Daemons are able to step across to this world much more easily because of the weakened barriers there, also." Sammael notes that Shepherd uses an archaic term here that once referred to a specific race of fiends, but is also used in several tomes as a catch-all for evil outsiders. Sammael asks if there's any way to reach Logos without traversing the Wasteland, and Shepherd grimaces in response. They could cut west over the mountain range, and follow the coastline around, but that would take several months, easy (plus require mountaineering equipment). On the upside, there's at least one Bonfire at the beginning of the Wasteland, and Shepherd is pretty certain there's at least one more in the remainder of a keep.

    Sammael asks Shepherd if he has any cold iron weapons, and he in fact does. Sammael is gifted 2 cold iron daggers and a masterwork cold iron longsword, as a token of their shared faith (they may worship different goddesses, but the kinship is there). It should be about 2 weeks to Logos, so the group sets out. Spotter waves at them from the roof of the church as they leave, and offers one last "helpful" piece of advice.

    "Try not to die!"

    It's several hours back through the narrow trail and down through some foothills before the party reaches the edge of the Wasteland. What isn't obscured by shifting fog is bare rock - cheerful looking place. There is indeed a small Bonfire set next to an ancient looking well and an almost as ancient looking lean-to. Attuning themselves to the Southern Wasteland Bonfire, the party sets out with determination burning in their hearts!

    The travelling itself isn't difficult. It's just incredibly eerie. The fog is everywhere, visibility cuts out after 50-60 feet. They're following the bare remnants of the Old Road still, but the only thing that anyone can see is just bare rock. No plants, no animals, no signs of life at all. And the only sound is that of their own foosteps and breathing, quickly swallowed by the fog. The first day of travel is unnervingly uneventful. No one sleeps particularly well, and the group is quite willing to push onwards first thing in the morning. the earlier they're out of this place, the better. The Silence is just as creepy today, and I actually call for Will saves partway through the day - Angelena fails, and is unnerved enough that's she's shaken for an hour or so. After another empty day of featureless badlands, Sammael and Sona hear a rhythmic clanging off in the distance. The sound is metal on stone, and whatever it is, it's heavy. Sammael creeps forward quietly towards the noise (he used Omen of Peril, but the roll was unsuccessful and said safety). There's several massive chunks of rock strewn about. Between them seems to be a path, with BIG footsteps worn into the rock itself. Sammael can't get any closer for an inspection, as he sees a silhouette in the fog!


    Spoiler: The Wasteland
    Show
    Said silhouette comes closer - it's a giant figure armored like a knight - at least 10 feet tall. It walks with slow crushing steps, each one landing exactly in the depressions worn into the rock. The rest of the party follows up to Sammael, and they all watch as the iron knight stomps along its path steadily. Cautiously, lightly, Sammael advances while watching the knight closely. It's walked a little past the group now, but the moment Sammael's foot lands on the worn path, the knight spins in place. There is a stern face on the front of the helmet, and as it gazes at Sammael, the eye slots ignite with eldritch flame. The mouth grates open, and a piercing shriek echoes through the air! Initiative!

    Angelena goes like greased lightning, and buffs everyone near her with Mass Aid. Sammael zips around the corner of one of the rock chunks, drinking his tincture of enlarge. The rest of the group advances closer, with Talvosh getting the closest. The iron golem stomps towards him in response, raising gigantic fists. Kiani barks fell words of beckoning, and summons a Voor. Now, if you haven't looked at a picture of the Voor, it's a full on HR Giger lovechild monster. So everyone is a little freaked out at the quiet Pelor-worshipping mage calling up a squamous monstrosity and commanding it in words that reek of blood and corruption.

    I love the Malconvoker class . The Voor lumbers forward and takes a mighty swing! Which scrapes off the golem's chest fairly ineffectually. The rest of the party shuffles around, and then strange low-hanging clouds seep out of the closest pile of rock. Small motes of light twinkle within the clouds, and small blasts of flame and heat ripple through them (More living spells). One Glitterfire each tries to engulf Talvosh and Sona, who scramble out of the way, while a third lurks behind the iron golem hits it with it's fireball slam to load the golem up with healing *snicker*.

    Sammael circles wide, while Angelena puts Sanctuary on herself to protect from the explosive cloudmonster nearby. Talvosh decides that the best defense against an unfamiliar creature is to chop it into tiny bits, and does just that to the hapless Giltterfire in front of him. The Voor goes berserk, flailing and slashing at the golem, but what few hits get past the armor class can't get past the damage reduction. In response, the golem lands a one-two punch on the Voor's face. Who needs weapons when your fists are the size of shields and solid metal? Puck is in position now, and he rumbles into the Golem with a diving shoulder block! I don't roll high enough, and he manages to push the golem back the 5 feet necessary to smash it against the nearby rock! Ow! The golem embeds into the stone with a crunch, then pushes itself back out. The second Glitterfire flails at Sona, who stops it with a wings of cover. The third one coils around the iron golem's legs, and Puck gets to see the dent he just put in the golem pop back outwards and repair itself.

    Talvosh kills the Glitterfire threatening Sona and Angelena, and they move up to support Puck and the Voor. Sammael sees the remaining Glitterfire healing the golem, and bisects it with his scythe before kicking the pieces apart - Snap Kick Attack! The golem designates Puck as its primary threat, and punches him in the head really hard several times. Sona and Kiani throw some magic at the golem, but either washes off or is resisted. Puck hooks a giant knee with his axe and manages to bull rush the golem again (which is scary impressive considering how big and strong the golem is), smashing it against the rocks. The Voor flails with great enthusiasm but little results. Talvosh finally makes it to the Golem and ragefrenzies, but misses his first hit (AC 30 is no joke). The fight struggles back and forth a bit - Puck and Talvosh seem to be the only ones who can get high enough damage to hurt the golem, but the golem pummels them ruthlessly for it. Even the SR:no spells that Sona and Kiani throw out either miss, are saved against, or just don't do much. Then the golem starts breathing poisonous gas! Sammael and Talvosh make their saves, Puck doesn't breathe, and the Voor inhales deeply just for the fun of it (being immune to poison). Sammael falls back and begins a 2 round chargeup attack - he casts Divine Sacrifice, a neat spell I hadn't noticed. Then he casts True Strike. Then, right after Talvosh lands several massive blows (the Voor trying to grapple and heroically taking the attacks of opportunity right on the chin/beak), he shoots the golem in the side of the head with an adamantine arrow for a BIG chunk of health. The golem is finally looking quite wounded, and our heroes finally manage to destroy the golem; Puck smashes into the large gouge Talvosh opened up, hearing something important break. The glowing eyes fade, and the golem slumps over, its patrol ended at last.

    Checking around, there's nothing but some piles of eroded stone and fragments of dust. The hunks of rock the battle was around might have been part of a large wall once, but they're too worn to truly tell. The group follows the footprints, and quickly end up back where they just were. The golem had been guarding something, patrolling for so long that it had worn footprints into the stone inches deep - but whatever it was guarding is long gone. This is the most defensible place to make camp, so Angelena patches the group up and they hunker down for the night.

    The next morning, the fog is much thicker. Talvosh tries a Survival check, and flubs horribly, pointing out a random direction as what he tinks leads back to the road. Sammael makes his check, but notices something strange; he almost agrees with Talvosh's direction before catching himself and realizing that the fog was playing with the light from the sun. It's the other way back to the road. Almost like something was actively trying to mess with his sense of direction...

    It's much slower going through the fog now, with everyone barely able to see 10 feet in front of them. Partway through the day, Sammael has to catch himself again - for a brief moment, the fog parts to reveal the Old Road curving to the east. There's something funny about it though...it shimmers and flexes with the fog. As soon as Sammael resolves himself to keep going north, the mirage melts away. This is not a friendly place...


    Spoiler: The city
    Show
    After another day of travel, Sammael spots something up ahead in the fog, maybe a couple hundred feet off. Which is strange, seeing as how the fog is still thick enough to inhibit vision after 40-50 feet in all other directions. Creeping closer, it's a wall. There seems to be a walled town up ahead, and as the fog parts, the road is revealed to lead directly towards an open gate. One door is open towards the party, the other hangs inside the walls. Sammael uses Omen of Peril again and passes, but gets slightly unusual results. The brief flash of the vision shows him standing at the edge of an open grave. Safety, but at the absolute edge of said safety before peril. Sammael steps through the gate into the city first. Sona focuses her hearing and listens for any noises, any sign of anything. Talvosh fails his dex check and bumps the door on his way by, and the sudden squealing creak is absolutely deafening in the silence! This has the effect of nearly making Sona jump right out of her clothes, echoes through the air, and announces their entry to the city all at once.

    It seems to be a small town...but it's empty. There seems to be the center of the town/city several hundred feet up ahead, with the silhouette of what might be a larger keep beyond that. There are multiple huts and houses on each side of the street the party is on - and every single door hangs wide open. Sona carefully examines the nearest building, specifically checking for scratch marks or embedded fingernails (I might have a weakness for that sort of detail). There's nothing. The building is empty. No furniture, no food, no rugs, no people, no anything. Just an empty house. The one next to it is the same. Normally I have background music playing, but here I deliberately am playing nothing.

    A little creeped out, the party moves on to the town square. There's a fountain in the center of it, but it too is empty. No water, no dust, not even a statue on the raised center section where the water would normally come out. The outline of a keep looms further ahead to the north, and the streets lead to exits to the East and West also. Curious, Sona casts Detect Magic and focuses on the empty pedestal.

    She passes her Will save, so she is stunned for a round and can't remember what she saw. Confused by Sona suddenly staggering, Sammael uses Detect Evil. He staggers back as well, stunned for a round. He can't remember what he saw, but it was Evil. There's a super quick vote to move onto the keep and then the hell out of this place.

    While walking (with a bit more trepidation), Kiani is gazing around with her hair hanging loose. Then when she turns to one side to look at a house, her hair is brushed lightly behind one ear. She didn't touch her hair, and there's no one around her. Walking speed intensifies!

    Reaching the keep, the party looks at the raised drawbridge, and closed porcullis, and broad moat full of swirling fog to obscure the bottom of it. Everyone by now is feeling wigged out, so I call for will saves. There are some truly epic saves, so as they stand at the edge of the moat, the keep...ripples. Slowly, the walls fade to translucent, as do the surrounding buildings. After a moment, the party is standing back on the Old Road, with nothing around them. The rest of the day's travel is uneventful.

    Partway through the next day, the sound of combat echoes through the fog. Screams and shouts (that Puck recognizes as Elven) ring out above the wet noises of steel sliding into flesh, and the clang of weapon against weapon. Designated Scout Sammael goes to check it out, unhappy about the fact that the only cover available is the fog itself. Creeping through the mist, Sammael stealths forward. Finally, up ahead he can spot a vicious skirmish. There's at least a dozen elves like the ones they had encountered before, dressed in rough leather and armor...fighting each other? Must be a tribal thing - there are more than a few corpses on the ground from what Sammael can see. As he watches, one skewers another with his spear, and keeps stabbing as his opponent falls. After the 8th repeated stab, Sammael figures something's up. Straining his vision, he can see another figure just beyond, unnaturally tall and thin. Every inch is covered in armor, and angular shapes are dancing and swirling about it. Then the figure stalks forward and stares right at Sammael's position. He drops an obscuring mist and hustles back to the party as the armored figures bellows in Sylvan (which Sammael understands) to chase after him.

    Sammael makes it back to the party with enough time for 2 rounds of actions by everyone. The group buffs themselves (Puck and Talvosh getting embiggened, a Voor getting summoned, Sammael embiggening himself, Divine protection and Mass Aid going out. The Elvish warchant degenerates into howls as five elven berserkers rush out of the fog (which has dramatically lifted to allow for 200 feet of visibility), followed by the 10-ft tall painfully thin armored figure. The shapes spinning and swirling about it? Weapons. Axes, swords, daggers, a veritable cloud of blades surrounds the figure.


    Spoiler: Rage
    Show
    Initiative is rolled up, and the armored figure stalks foward past its elven minions, uncaring as its blade cloud slashes two of them (they howl with an almost religious fervor). The creature lazily twirls a long chain seemingly made of razor blades, and flicks a hand out at the party.

    The Quickened Empowered Blade Barrier (made of twirling and spinning lengths of sharpened and spiked chains) slams into place in front of the party, catching Talvosh, Sammael, and Puck. Sammael makes his save and leaps backward, but Puck and Talvosh fail, and get shredded for 78 points of damage each! The mood of this fight is suddenly very serious as the party's two main damage dealers have lost over half their health in the first turn. Kiani steps back and buffs herself, alarmed as a spray of black oily fluid from Puck hits her in the face, and beckons her Voor forward. The Voor lopes towards the group of elves, stopping 20 feet away to force attacks of opportunity. One of the greatspear-wielding elves lets out a ferocious howl, charging with a raging max power attack! The Voor crits with a nasty attack of opportunity, half killing the elf. But it turns out this elf must have been an extra on the set of 300, as he leaps high into the air and lands a critical hit! Slamming the speartip home right between the Voor's teeth, the elf balances on the Voor's chest and twists the spear, killing it in a single blow. The other four elves scream and cheer in excitement as the first shakes his spear in victory. Sammael draws his bow and runs along the side of the barrier. Talvosh and Puck delay their initiatives so Sona and Angelena can each cast a spell on them: Puck gets Fly, and Talvosh gets Delay Death. Puck flys up and over, and Talvosh charges straight ahead, getting smoked in the face by the chain as he misses his axe attack. He also feels a surge of fury, even on top of his frenzy, but passes his will save. The other elves rush at the party, brandishing their weapons. Sona is the only one with Knowledge (Nature), and she makes her check to recognize the armored figure as a Ragewalker, a dangerous Fey spirit of bloodshed and warfare.

    The Ragewalker dissects Talvosh, killing him if not for Delay Death. It also waves a hand, and another Blade barrier lashes across Sona and Angelena. Sona manages to dive forward next to Kiani (but leaving them trapped between the two whirring walls of death), but Angelena gets savaged! I drop her to exactly 0 hit points. Without the temporary hitpoints, she would be steak tartare...both Angelena's player and I agree that this is the most singularly painful experience in Angelena's entire life. Kiani summons another Voor, and sends it rushing at an elf. Sammael snipes one of the elves, critting and taking her in the throat. She straightens up with a defiant snarl, but his second shot ends her. Puck is up, and sets up a plan most cunning. He rockets downwards and slams into an elf standing near the Ragewalker (taking a cruel cut from the razor chain on his way in). He utterly crushes the elf's strength check, beating him by 20 and sending him flying into the Ragewalker. I rule that the extra distance means increased damage from the blade cloud, and he is reduced to pink mist. The Ragewalker is knocked off his feet, and he takes a brutal cut from Puck's free attack, shrieking as there's a spray of oily pale blood. Talvosh is up next...but he fails his save against the Ragewalker's Frenzy this time, and lashes out at Puck. Two attacks miss, but one lands on target and Puck takes a lot of damage. Angelena heals herself and stumbles out of the barrier, and Kiani and Sona try some spells that bounce off the Ragewalker's spell resistance. The Ragewalker is hurt, and only one of the opponents next to it is affected by his aura. He makes his defensive concentration and throws out his final wall of blades - splattering an elf (collateral damage) and killing Talvosh (again) if not for Delay Death. By this time, his body is only being held together by crackling streams of light. The barrier just misses Puck, but his health is low from the friendly fire. The razor chain loops around Puck's neck, and with a tug, said head is separated from his body. Sona pierces the Ragewalker's Spell resistance with a Sound Lance, and even with it making the save, that's a big chunk of damage. The Voor charges at the Ragewalker and gets pureed by the barrier, but Talvosh now has no valid target other than the Ragewalker. He lands all his attacks and finishes the murderous fey off.

    The blood frenzy continues though...the remaining barbarian and Talvosh spot each other through the blade barrier and charge! I deal enough damage to kill Talvosh a third time before the spell fades and he literally falls into a pile of shredded orc.

    The two encounters give enough xp (I hand this stuff out like it's on bulk discount) for Puck to hit level 10, Kiani is level 9, and everyone else to be very close to level 10.



    Spoiler: Cliffhanger cutoff
    Show
    It takes a good 20 minutes for the spinning walls of magical death to fade away, and the party relieves the elves of their armor and weapons. They also find several pots of what seems to be blue woad - these act as potions of shield of faith, except you smear it on, not drink it. They follow the trail of bloodshed back to see if there's anything left of the other elves that Sammael saw. All that remains is their blood and bodies strewn about. They loot the bodies that seem to be carrying magical gear, and also find a large jug of water, and a heavy bag of dried meat! Unfortunately, Sammael picks up what looks like a dried rack of ribs, then sets it down hastily. Angelena quickly sees that it's a human rack of ribs. Soo...just water then. Eager to put this carnage behind them, the party hustles back to the road and heads north.

    In a little bit, a shape emerges from the thickening fog. It's a wall, with the road leading to a gate. One door is open towards the party, while the other hangs inside the wall...


    Spoiler: DEATH COUNT
    Show
    10! Bam!
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-12 at 01:05 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #73
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Frozen North
    Gender
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    There, got the whole thing up.

  14. - Top - End - #74
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    You're really making me consider spell pen and greater spell pen for my next feats. Just saying lol. Orb of Fooooorce? Here boy! Come help me put a dent in Puzzle's monsters! *whistle*

    The majority of my contribution that night was prep work. Enlarge the beefcakes and make Puck fly lol.

    Too bad I won't get it next level because Pact Adept 4 :P oh well, level after that I get my second Pact. wheeeeee!

  15. - Top - End - #75
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    I love it all. Spent the morning rereading all the entries.
    If you wouldn't mind, I'd like the chance to read all the back-stories.
    The beatings will continue until morale improves!

    Vaz approval for the best backstory. Villainous Competition 16: Burn Baby Burn
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...&postcount=114

    Honorable Mention Villainous Competition 22: I Am The Night
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...e-Night!/page6 Xihu Ayame

    Click my Vulpix to feed it yummy berries!

  16. - Top - End - #76
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by PrismCat21 View Post
    I love it all. Spent the morning rereading all the entries.
    If you wouldn't mind, I'd like the chance to read all the back-stories.
    We got another brave one over here boss! Lol.

    I apologize in advance for being half of the most prolific writing team of the bunch. Hopefully you enjoy when Puzzle gets them to you. ^.^;;

  17. - Top - End - #77
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    I'm off work tomorrow. I should be done by next weekend
    I wish my group was as great as you guys, I'm still teaching them. They have the basics down and they're trying out casters now.
    The beatings will continue until morale improves!

    Vaz approval for the best backstory. Villainous Competition 16: Burn Baby Burn
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...&postcount=114

    Honorable Mention Villainous Competition 22: I Am The Night
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...e-Night!/page6 Xihu Ayame

    Click my Vulpix to feed it yummy berries!

  18. - Top - End - #78
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    ...I don't know if "great" is the best word to describe us...

    And there's a big excessive sack of words in your inbox, PrismCat21

  19. - Top - End - #79
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Hey now - we're an efficient bunch! Have to be with the stuff you're throwing at us lol.

    I'll take that 'Great' badge and pin it up to my 'MetaGamer' one lol

  20. - Top - End - #80
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Small suggestion that only occurred to me because I somehow remembered the death count in between sessions and spent the last log waiting for people to get killed... Maybe put the death counts in spoiler tags? :)

  21. - Top - End - #81
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by oshi View Post
    Small suggestion that only occurred to me because I somehow remembered the death count in between sessions and spent the last log waiting for people to get killed... Maybe put the death counts in spoiler tags? :)
    What are you talking about Oshi, I've been doing that the whole time...*cough*

  22. - Top - End - #82
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Game tomorrow night! Finishing the final prep stuff tonight and tomorrow morning-


    Just switch "thousands" for "seven" and "millions" for "a dozen or so" and we're good

    Votes on who's taking a dirt nap next?

  23. - Top - End - #83
    Troll in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    While not a bet, I would point out that the Malconvoker seems ill suited to this campaign. Summoned creatures can have serious trouble fighting stuff above the summoner's level, and most of the recent fights feel like they'd been against stuff that's just too far past the limit. When the enemy mooks can one-shot your summons it's not a good matchup. Unless the encounters swing back towards masses of guys again.

    Dark Souls campaign is good. Interesting how well random encounters matches up with the feeling of being able to mostly just plow through from point A to B unless you mess up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Violet Octopus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    sheer awesomeness

  24. - Top - End - #84
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Jeargroth's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Thank-you for your concern. I think. Lol. Janath was just not socially going to end up working within the party as his next invokation was Dead walk for a mass of expendable meat shields. The two anti-undead people in party may have not liked it. I am happy if Janath becomes a failed hero aka villian.

    As for Kiani not being able to hold her own, that is the downside to being a Mage. Sona may have wings of deflection, but she is still squishy too. Both tend to stay back and just feed our fighters either buffs or extra cover via mooks. As for her own personal defence next level she gets Planar Binding so she will be covered. Still debating what she wants. Definitely a Nightmare, but debating stealing Puzzles Half-fiend troll idea from a previous campaign.

    As a fellow Player and Playgrounder, I am open to suggestions as you have seen what we are up against.

    Jeargroth
    SPOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!

  25. - Top - End - #85
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    <pokes GM>

    It's been over 13 hours since end of the game session, geeeeeeez. Post already. :)

  26. - Top - End - #86
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    While not a bet, I would point out that the Malconvoker seems ill suited to this campaign. Summoned creatures can have serious trouble fighting stuff above the summoner's level, and most of the recent fights feel like they'd been against stuff that's just too far past the limit. When the enemy mooks can one-shot your summons it's not a good matchup. Unless the encounters swing back towards masses of guys again.
    Well, in defence, I would say anything that soaks even one hit from (insert big-bad here) contributed directly to us retaining vitae.

    Jeargoth needs to work on his theorycraft a bit for selecting appropriate things to summon but that will come with time. Malconvoker is one of those roles that is very much dependent on meta-knowledge and good anticipation for prime effectiveness, that or encyclopedic knowledge of Monster Manuals and speed at applying templates and bonues to monster stats on the fly. Thankfully, he gets mulligans equal to his vitae as he learns the class. :)

  27. - Top - End - #87
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    See the abuse I have to deal with, Playground? Truly, it's a wonder I can function at all.

    This campaign journal goes to 11. 11 sessions, at least. But alas, Kiani's player had a sick child, so the malconvoker is in silent NPC mode.

    Last time on Dragonball Z Last session we ended with our hapless heroes gazing upon an eerily familiar gate. The same gate as the creepy town they were in before, that faded away out of sight...

    Spoiler: Return to the empty city
    Show
    The group decides that if they head through the town in the same manner as before, it should disappear in the same manner and deposit them back onto the Old Road again. Marching in boldly, there's a few differences that are immediately spotted. The scent of woodsmoke and ash hangs in the air, a fine layer of soot coats everything...and there's dozens if not hundreds of footprints visible in said soot. And they're all leading out of the city. Sona cautiously puts an arcane mark onto a nearby door for a reference point. Sammael casts Omen of Peril and gets a warning of Extreme Peril, so the party takes a moment to toss some buffs on before advancing towards the town square. This time, it's...different. There are numerous gouges and craters in the surrounding flagstones, and the pedestal in the centre of the dry fountain is no longer empty. There's a strange, squat black sculpture, but no one can tell more than that from a distance. As they approach, Sammael and Angelena make their checks (getting a bonus from their ranks in Heal).

    It's made of bones. Compressed and fused into one another, there are multiple skeletons vaguely visible, but horrifically integrated with one another. The sculpture is black because the bones are covered in greasy soot. As the group stares, Angelena makes a will save. Then she fails one. In a unnervingly serene tone, she announces that she knows what to do. To save them, everyone has to die.

    And she sets off a Flame Strike in the middle of the party. Initiative!

    Sammael zips over and nonlethally punches Angelena in the jaw, stunning her. Then an invisible presence rips through 4 of Sona's 7 mirror images as well as raking a vicious claw down her back! Retaliating with a Glitterdust reveals a feral catlike predator. Then the other 4 Hellcats charge in with pounce attacks! I roll randomly for their targets, and the dice really don't like Sona today, so another two go after her while one mauls Talvosh and another chomps on Sammael. Sammael is a little gouged, Talvosh is bleeding profusely, and Sona is down to one mirror image and not too many hit points by the time the charges are done.

    The fight rages back and forth, with lots of misses due to invisibility. Puck's Blindfighting proves useful, letting him smash a Hellcat grappling Sammael into another one, and landing vicious blows as they hit the dirt. Sona anklet-ports out of the jaws of a Hellcat and flies out of range, Talvosh flails back and forth, landing one nasty hit. Angelena...drools. Sammael manages to land a critical Smite Evil with his scythe, and spikes an unluckly Hellcat right through the skull to finish it off! By the time the fifth Hellcat goes down, Talvosh looks like a tenderized side of pork, and falls unconscious as his rage ends. Angelena overcomes the presence possessing her and heals him, but I'm still keeping the party in initiative order. Then Sona has to make a Will save (which she passes, shucks). Acting on instinct, Puck charges the eerie sculpture, plowing straight through the thigh-high stone fountain wall before cutting the bone idol in two. There's an uncanny wail, and a hiss of black smoke, then blessed silence. After taking stock of everyone, they notice that Kiani has vanished...but there's an impatient looking monkey holding a scroll! As soon as he's noticed, he hands the scroll over before vanishing. It's a note from Kiani saying that she sensed where the Hellcats were coming from, and she went to deal with it, if the party could look for the one closed door two streets south and to the west of the square.

    The group trundles along, a little worried at how low everyone is running on health and resources, and easily find the hut Kiani was talking about. Seeing as how it is the only building with a closed door, and there is a LOT of blood splattered all over the place, it stands out. Sona creeps up to the door and listens, and hears...an orchestra? Puck boots the door down, revealing an empty room except for stone stairs leading down. Girding their loins, the party descends...


    Spoiler: Tyger tyger
    Show
    The stone stairs are even and well lit, and also go down quite a ways. The music gets gradually louder as they go further down, until it's clearly audible to everyone. After a few flights, the stairs open into an elegant looking study. Shelves full of books line the walls, and there's a delicate glass and metal table with what looks like tea and pastries set out. Kiani is sitting at the table with her back to the party, facing the other occupant of the room. There's a man dressed in lace and silk lounging at another table about 20 feet or so away, sipping daintily at a teacup. The final detail that sticks in everyone's mind is the strip of brass across the floor, etched with glowing runes, that separates the man from everyone else.

    "Ah, these must be your companions, aren't they Kiani? Please, please, help yourselves." The group eyes Kiani, asking her for a way to prove she isn't being compelled. Kiani responds by casting protection from evil on herself, and nods shakily to the group. The more observant members notice that she is soaked with nervous sweat. As Sammael squints suspiciously at the man, Kiana whispers, "look at his hands." Sammael and Sona make their spot checks to see that his palms are backwards. As they stare at said creepy backwards facing hands, the man murmurs, "ah, so you're not completely unobservant," and seemingly pulls his face off. Instead of a human, a man with the face of a silver and black-furred tiger slouches in his chair.

    "I am Manukha dē Khāṇa. Charmed, I'm sure." The Rakshasha inclines his head lazily. As Sona recognizes (and Kiani agrees) that those are some seriously heavy binding runes on the floor, they don't need to attack or flee right away. After some tense small talk (and Talvosh being horribly disappointed to find the pastries were illusionary), Manukha makes an offer to answer questions, in exchange for answers to his questions. Sammael is disapproving, but Sona is intrigued. The Rakshasha beckons her closer to the edge of the barrier, 30 feet away from Sona.

    She juuust baarrreely makes her Intelligence check to catch the discrepancy, and stares hard at the ground. Disbelieving the illusion, the floor melts away to reveal the runes, 20 feet from Sona. The rakshasha bares its teeth in a hungry smile.

    "Can you blame me for trying? It's been a long time since I had a fresh dinner." The group goes to leave, but it seems the Rakshasha is bored / lonely, and it agrees to a bargain of two questions answered by it in exchange for one answer from the party. Puck paces the room the whole time ; his player can practically see the "OPTIONAL BOSS" light blinking above the rakshasha, but the rest of the party is low on spell slots and health.

    Manukha taunted Talvosh with three questions about his heritage as the group was about to leave, so he claims his six questions first. Unfortunately, he isn't careful with his phrasing and burns three of them right away which the Rakshasha answers with obvious single word answers. There were some small questions / answers back and forth, but here were the biggest ones:

    Angelena: "What was the Castigation?"

    Manukha: "Centuries ago, the god of Light and Magic condemned and punished his most devoted followers for the sin of Hubris. That is not what caused the devastation you saw on your pilgrimage, but it is tied together closely. Now, my turn. How does it feel to know you may never hear your god's voice again?"

    Angelena: "...I feel despair and fear, but I have faith that I willwalk in His light again."

    Manukha: "Feh, faith."

    Sona: "What happened to the dragons of the world?"

    Manukha: "Long ago, ancient even by my kind's reckoning, there was a terrible crime visited upon the dragons. Not even I know what it was, but it has to do with your blood, little mage." *stares at Sona before chuckling* "You know the red-haired woman. Tell me, do you think you can kill her this time?" Sona is unhappy at further confirmation that Jezelle is at large in Artaith, but is confident that she can kill her...at least once.

    Angelena: "How do I break the Curse and return home?"

    Manukha: "All I know is that you must learn as much as you can of how the Curse is tied with your Vitae, and that you must prepare to give up more than you ever imagined. Beyond that, I do not know." *Idly flexes his claws while examining them* "Which one of your companions would you sacrifice in exchange for returning home, sun-priest?" Puck interjects that she would not have to choose, he would offer himself.

    Manukha is delighted at this, and scribbles it down in a nearby book, mentioning that it would be a lovely twist for a play. He also conjures an illusion of Puck and Angelena waltzing together, the dance ending in Puck strangling Angelena to death. Just because.

    Manukha; "You want to kill me, don't you tin man?"

    Puck: "Yes. What is the easiest way to do so?"

    Manukha: "Cheeky little insect. With faith."

    Sammael: "What happened to the people of this city?"

    Manukha: "They burned."

    Manukha: "Tell me, Sammael. How does it feel to know you will never know your Goddess' final reward?"

    Sammael:

    Manukha:

    At this point, Manukha makes an "interesting" offer. He will answer any and all of the group's questions, and give them several potent magical items...if one of the party will walk across the bindings and allow him to consume them. Angelena actually pipes up that she would entertain the idea, if she could somehow transfer her status as a Torchbearer. Manukha's eyes widen at this, and his tongue swipes across his lips at this statement. Sammael realizes that this is a bad idea, and turns to leave while insisting everyone else does so too. Sona taunts Manukha as she turns to leave.

    Manukha: "Careful, mageling. You do know what they say about those who underestimate tigers, don't you?"

    Sona: "What's that?"

    Manukha: "They scream, Oh gods, please help me, I'm being mauled to death by a tiger." *bonus internet cookie for who can name the quote*

    Angelena still wants to ask some questions, but she starts to go along with the party decision to leave, and Manukha pipes up again.

    Manukha: "Now now, Angelena, why don't you come over here to discuss this further with me?"

    Angelena fails her save against the suggestion, but the party manages to get in her way. Everyone leaves the study at this point to the sound of Manukha's mocking laughter and sinister implications that they're missing important information.

    The mockery stops when Puck collapses the building and buries the stairwell in rubble. There's a distinct telepathic growl as Sammael pisses on the rubble and mockingly consecrates it. Our heroes hustle back towards the keep at this point. Their surroundings start to waver again as they reach the edge of the moat, but this time the portcullis starts to lift as well. Once again, the city melts away, and they are left on the Old Road.



    Spoiler: A boom boom boom
    Show
    The party makes camp pretty quickly after that, and the next day goes smoothly without incident. There's even some vague hints of hills and variance in terrain now, rather than flat blasted wasteland - huzzah! Partway through another day of travel, the group hears some strange noises up ahead. At this distance, it sounds like hollow thuds followed by faint whooshing noises. As they get closer, the noises get louder, and flashes of light appear through the fog. Fist-size motes of light float back and forth at random, dozens of them. As soon as one gets close to another, they erupt in a rush of flame and air, then continue floating along. It's a field full of fireballs with proximity alarms.

    It looks like they could cut wide around the field, but the party doesn't want to risk losing the Road or running into something lurking in the fog. So they send Mr "All my saves are double digits and I have evasion" Sammael up to bat. With a bit of experimentation (and one frantic dodge), Sammael finds the edge of the field and marks it. Studying the field for any sign of a pattern, he then takes a deep breath and dives in. It's child's play for Sammael to dance back and forth, making all his saves with eases, and he successfully makes it across. With Sona standing at one edge and Sammael at the other, everyone rejoices as it's just within the range of benign transposition. 5 spells later and a bunch of successful saves (Sammael needs a one to fail, but if he rolls a one, it sets off a chain of explosions and cumulative penalties, knocking him from one to another), the party has traversed the minefield/fireball field.

    After another day and some of travel, the party halts as a series of MASSIVE sounding footsteps echo through the fog. Two Huge mechanical creatures tromp out of the fog, their arms ending in giant axes and mauls.

    "IDENTIFY." Drones the one warforged titan. Puck steps forward and declares his status as a Forged.

    "IDENTIFY." The party starts buffing, as they have no idea what to say.

    "HOSTILE ACTION DETECTED! BEGIN COMBAT PROCEDURE!"

    Sammael zips out on a flank and bounces an arrow off the one titan's armor plating. Puck immediately shows the terror that is him being enlarged as he charges up and succeeds in tripping the one warforged titan, taking the attack of opportunity on the shoulder. The Titan stands back up (taking another hit from Puck in the process), but sends Puck soaring in return with an Awesome blow, Puck landing 10 feet away on his back. Talvosh rushes up right in the other warforged titan's face, prepping for mangling next turn. Said second titan lets out a blast of steam, and runs right over both Talvosh and Puck with their surprising 50 ft landspeed (I make the grievous error of not realizing Puck and Talvosh could have taken attacks of opportunity instead of Reflex saves, so they get moral victory points no matter what). Sona flies away from the warforged titan that is now much closer than she expected, and there is much jeering and taunting. Puck, Talvosh, and Sammael all surround the first warforged titan and hack away at it, leaving it at critical health in exchange for a couple smashing blows on them. Angelena lashes out with a Moon bolt, not realizing the creatures are constructs, and immune to such magic. And unfortunately now, with Sona having retreated, the second warforged titan has a bead on Angelena.

    "COMBAT PRIORITY: ELIMINATE HEALER!" It blares as it thunders forward and whallops Angelena. I roll absolutely pathetic damage with the extra dice from Powerful Charge though, so she's okay. The first warforged titan gets chopped down, and Angelena prepares for combat with the second, busting out a scroll of Righteous Might! But charges from Puck, Sammael and Talvosh, plus a big Sound lance from Sona, puts the second Titan down before she even gets a swing. They continue on, having spotted what might be a cave to spend the night in.
    Sammael's player had to go to bed, so I divvy up XP. Sammael dings to 10, as do Sona and Talvosh. Angelena is just a bit short, though, so Sona/Talvosh/Puck/Angelena decide to go a little further in hopes of maybe getting Angelena to 10.


    Spoiler: The Cave
    Show
    The party approaches the small cave entrance carefully. They can see a faint glow coming from within, and the non-warforged members can smell burnt meat. Tiptoeing quietly, they enter. Talvosh spots some writing smudged on the cave wall, but can't read it. Sona can (it's in messy Draconic):

    "We do this for you, My Lady."

    Angelena and Sona stay in the tunnel while Puck and Talvosh enter the cavern proper. It's not that big, and there's several bedrolls and travelling packs strewn about. In the centre is what seems to be a deep cooking pit. Peering in, the two beatsticks see three bodies piled on top of one another, and a bed of glowing coals and embers about them. The bottom is burnt away to the bone, but the top one was held up high enough by the other two that his or her flesh has been slow cooked. The faint hint of appetizing roasted meat threaded through the smell of burnt flesh and hair is now a little sickening. Puck roots through one pack, while Talvosh checks the other. Crumbs and remnants of travel rations, and near empty waterskins are all the pair find - it seems these three were at the absolute edge of their supplies. Underneath the one pack though, Puck finds a crude looking collection of papers bound together, with writing he doesn't understand. As he goes towards the final pack, the Cinder Swarm bursts out of hiding in the pit and engulfs him with a whoosh of flame!

    Puck and Talvosh very quickly find out that their axes do exactly squat to the swarm of fire elementals, and they both get scorched (but manage to avoid catching on fire). Angelena zips up and tries to dispel the swarm, but no luck. Sona swats them with a Wings of Flurry, and that gets the Cinder swarm's attention.

    Angelena and Sona get engulfed, and Angelena goes up in flames. What follows is Sona being nauseated (rather than it being creepy crawlies all over you, I rule it's because the swarm is essentially living malevolent sparks and embers trying to force their way into your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose) and trying to run away, and the swarm gleefully chasing her and trying to make her barbecue. It takes more Wings of Flurry and finally a Holy Smite from Angelena before the swarm is dispersed with a Pop. Angelena and Sona are horribly scorched, and Sona's eyebrows don't return until several healing spells later. Puck hands Sona the journal, and she peruses it while he decides to "search the bodies", i.e jump down and violently search the corpses. He finds a cold iron dagger and nearly makes Sona throw up, and then he and Talvosh get a serious scolding from Angelena (Talvosh for being vaguely tempted to try the flesh).

    Reading the journal with difficulty (it's written in a very shaky hand, and is written quite poorly), Sona translates from Draconic. It seems they were a group of adventurers that were trying to complete their Pilgrimage, and they were quickly in over their head. The group died off from monsters and starvation until only three remained, and then the journal changes tone. It talks of the Red Lady, and how she showed them the way.

    The Way is through Fire.

    That's all the last page of the journal says. Uncomfortably, the group settles down for the night in the cave (many prestidigitation spells later).

    During the night though, Sona has a strange experience


    Spoiler: Dreams of Fire
    Show
    Sona opens her eyes to find the rest of the group asleep, including Puck. There's a glow coming from the pit...and noises. I play these two simultaneously. As Sona stares, a scorched, burning hand reaches up and grips the side of the pit. Then another. The burning corpse lifts itself onto the opposite edge of the pit, and shakes its head back and forth. A stream of ashes and flames forms into lengths of long curled hair, and embers flare into eyes as the face reshapes itself into that of Jezelle. The other dragonblooded sorcerer Sona had encountered while researching the Curse in her backstory, and one whose approach to the Curse brought the two of them to blows before.

    "Oh, it is you, little wyrmling. How've you been?" Teeth glowing with sullen heat are bared in a fierce grin behind ashen lips. Sona swallows and squares her shoulders.

    "Hello, Jezelle."

    Jezelle kicks her feet in a gruesome parody of playfulness, but Sona catches how different her voice sounds. Even discounting the nightmare appearance, there's a hungry edge to her voice that wasn't there before. It sounds...wrong. Jezelle taunts and threatens Sona some, making a show of eyeing and mocking Sona's companions.

    Jezelle: "You have no idea what I've learned about the Curse, and what I've gained, Sona."

    Sona sneers in response. "I know something you'll never have that I do, though."

    Jezelle: "Oh?"

    Sona: "Friends." Jezelle's grin vanishes at that, and the embers flare a little.

    Jezelle: "Speaking of that, is that little fairy boy of yours with you?"

    Sona's had enough at this point, and catches Jezelle square in the face with a Great Thunderclap. The head rocks back, and slowly turns back to Sona. Half the face is ruined, and crumples away into ash, but the other eye burns even brighter.

    "I'm actually not that far away from you, Sona," Jezelle hisses. "I'm going to find you, and I'll show you and your 'friends' exactly what I've learned. The Curse is a weapon, and it's given me power that you couldn't understand." Sona flashes a rude gesture as the corpse bursts into flame.

    "Then we'll see who's stronger." With Jezelle's final words ringing in her ears, Sona snaps awake with a gasp. She fails her save against the Nightmare spell, and thus takes damage and doesn't recover her spells. She's not too willing to share what she dreamt about with Puck, and only gives him the bare minimum info.

    The next day is gloomy, and everyone is extremely relieved when their Vitae checks feels the faint tug of a nearby Bonfire. Out of the fog rises the shape of a castle - but lopsided. Half of the keep is seemingly melted (I ripped off Harrenhal on a smaller scale), and up ahead is a broad gate. As Sona approaches, she notices the two very big armored figures on each side of the gate. Two armored figures that look exactly the same as the Iron Golem they fought before, but they're each armed with greatswords. They raise their swords menacingly, and Sona lifts her hands in a peaceful manner. At the sight of the Mark, the golems reverse their swords and plant them into the stone. Everyone hustles through, eager to reach the Bonfire. There's a brief panic moment as Sammael walks through and the golems twitch, but his Mark is close enough.

    We end the session there, and Angelena earns enough to level.


    Spoiler: DEATH COUNT
    Show
    Still 10, alas
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-17 at 07:01 PM. Reason: cleaning up and a touch of rephrasing

  28. - Top - End - #88
    Troll in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Puck is not a valid target for Enlarge Person, dunno if he'd been doing that earlier but I just noticed. Excellent move bringing in a swarm against a melee heavy party. Mechanically I'm not sure I agree with casting Nightmare on a PC, but it has countermeasures and certainly allows for dramatic flair.

    My first suggestion for summons expecting powerful foes would have been Druid with Rashemi and Greenbound (so OP), but naturally that's not an option now and it's not very Dark to begin with. Off the base fiendish lists I'd go with Dire Wolf, more Dire Wolf, and Giant Crocodile at 5th, but SM creatures are never very tough: as I'm sure you know, their big feature is having assorted magical abilities they can spam and I'm pretty sure none of the other splat options are much tougher. The Malconvoker's big abilitiy is summoning more dudes, rather than better dudes. A Ring of Perfect Summons (CM) is expensive but would be worth at least a few extra hit points. My biggest suggestion has nothing to do with Malconvoker-ing, but replace your Medium Elementals with Energons from Planar Handbook. They have 4 incorporeal touches totaling 12d6 on a full attack, and incorporeality gives them a shot at surviving a hit regardless of damage. Summon Giants (Frostburn) isn't a bad alternative to SM8, especially if you can get the DM to agree that all giants should have Brutal Throw because duh.

    Of today's fights, Hellcats aren't that tough and I expect the summons would have been plenty useful against them, but the Warforged Titans would shrug off and walk over anything short of a Large Earth Elemental or a Rhinoceros. I'm curious as to how your group will be running Planar Binding: do you take the stance that making the charisma check basically lets you do whatever you want, or that the charisma check only allows what would have otherwise been a fair bargain under Planar Ally costs, or do you simply plan on Charm Monster-ing everything instead?

    Spoiler: suggestion for DM?
    Show

    Speaking of swarms, the Ephemeral Swarm (MM3) is particularly nasty, though sadly not small enough to be completely immune to weapon damage and it's within Turning range now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Violet Octopus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    sheer awesomeness

  29. - Top - End - #89
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    The Frozen North
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    Male

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Living Constructs don't count as humanoids, Fizban?

    EDIT: They in fact do not, I had goofed up on their type/subtype!

    As for your spoiler, yes, that is a good one. And what Kiani's player can get away with for Planar Binding will depend on creativity and style - I'll be pretty flexible since I'm throwing some crazy stuff at them
    Last edited by curious-puzzle; 2016-01-17 at 01:45 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #90
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Frozen North
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Curse of Artaith (a 3.5 Campaign Journal)

    Pic of Kiani incoming!

    Spoiler: Kiani
    Show


    And new group shot!

    Spoiler: The Sinister Six
    Show

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