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Looking around
(2/7/03 1:37 pm)
GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
The campaign has not *officially* started (our first actual session will be 2.28.03), but we had our first char-gen session last night, and I thought I would set the stage (and set up my thread).

I'll start off by saying that I'm running a houseruled 3e set in Forgotten Realms, the bulk of action to happen in Tethyr. holds my files regarding the game (house rules, alignment FAQ, character questionaire, etc). Feel free to yoink anything you find vaguely interesting.

I've added two kingdoms to the set around Tethyr: Furyondy, and Requerin. Ruquerin's my own invention, a small nation formerly held as a duchy by Tethyr that split off during the recent civil war and is a land dedicated to the Guild that all the PCs belong to. I'll eventually write up the nice and pretty history of it.

Results of the chargen session last night: (four of the six players attended)

Aasimar cleric of Waukeen (Wealth/trade/merchants)
(Half) Air Genasi rogue/?, seeking to Champion the interests of Akadi (Elemental Air)
Human Ranger, following Mielikki
(Runt) Lizardfolk 'Witchdoctor', following the racial deity of lizardfolk

Of the two remaining players, one wants to be a melee fighter (either two weapons or two-handed weapon) and the other is still bouncing around ideas.

The group is technically starting at first level, but completing the character questionaire fully gives them enough XP to reach second level.

This is going to be a very interesting campaign. We'll be playing every other Thursday, 7:30-10:30pm and one friday every other month. I've got assistant secretaries, so posting detailed campaign logs will not be a problem.

I look forward to providing you with entertainment, and perhaps inspiration. They're a largely chaotic group, and extremely inventive (3 of the 6 players are GMs in their own right, so talk about raising the CR for GMing them!).

Looking around
(2/26/03 3:03 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
We finished up character generation on 2.20.03 and due to schedule swapping had our first session a week early (2.21.03)

Our cast is now complete:
Tara: NG Aasimar cleric of Waukeen (Wealth/trade/merchants)
Tehir: CG (Half) Air Genasi rogue and Champion of Akadi (Elemental Air)
Griffon: NG Human Ranger, following Mielikki (Rangers, Autumn, Forests)
Sorrtanath: CG (Runt) Lizardfolk 'Witchdoctor', following the racial deity of lizardfolk survival and fertility
Kit: CG Human Fighter, duelwielding short swords, follower of Tempus (War, Warriors, Battle)
Gorunt: LG Bugbear Monk, follower of Ilmater (Endurance, Perseverance, Martyrdom)
Sarkyn: (NPC) NG Human Servant of Mystra (Magic, the Weave)

A few words on Sarkyn. Sarkyn is their mentor, a withered and frail looking old man who confuses them because he looks like a wizard (robes, quarterstaff) but acts like a cleric (channeling positive energy and healing them). He should well confuse them, since he's my own creation (though I'd let someone grow a character to act mechanically like him). Essentially he gave up his combat abilities in order to tap both sets of spell-lists for his spells. As their mentor, he's there to watch their conduct in the field in their 'one year tour of duty' that follows their graduation from the Guild Academy. As far as they know, he's just a cleric a few levels higher than them who follows them at a discrete distance and only helps when he's their last resource.

It's the end of what the northerners would call winter, and most of the group (except for the largly sheltered city-girl cleric) is ready to leave the confines of organized living. Freshly graduated following two years of intensive training in the Academy in Evvenstahd, capital city of Ruquerin, they travel down the River Ith to Darrowmar, the new capital city of Tethyr, where they're to be nominally based. This is where they get to dump the stuff they don't think they'll need in the field, and where they'll live between circuits in the northlands. There's only a brief stop of a day here, to allow them to spend their graduation gift funds (the better equipped the graduates are, the longer they'll last in the field. That, and everyone finished their character bios and reached second level, so they needed to bring their assets up. There was much rejoicing). All the while the group was traveling, however, the cleric of Waukeen was finding her dreams disturbed by nightmares, abtract images she associated with the restriction of free trade, and her nightly prayers found her holy symbol being tugged towards the northlands of Tethyr. The monk, as well, was feeling a vague sense of unease and a sense that they should hurry their steps.

The trip north was largely uneventful, save for an incident in the rural inn two nights into their journey, where the innkeeper nearly refused them service due to the bugbear and lizardman traveling with them, and only the good reputation of the Hands of the Helping Heart (as the Kelanne guild is known by the commonfolk) finally allowed them entry and service. The innkeeper later confided to the young cleric that "Things be dangerous. Critters what like you're traveling with have been raiding to the north of here," which added weight to the portents the group had been facing.

On the morning of the fourth day of travel from Darrowmar, they arrive in the first of the towns assigned to their route. They ride through the outlying farmlands, noting the lack of people working to prepare for the spring planting, and the burned homesteads here and there. The guards at the gate act much like the innkeeper did, but finally and reluctantly open the gates in the massively fortified town walls. They're quickly escorted to the office of the 'Acting Mayor" (another bad sign), a very young and tired looking woman who greets their arrival with obvious relief. The town of Travensberg is facing a dual peril and Amarra's hoping that the Kelannese can handle it.

        A strange disease has struck the town, mainly affecting the very young and the very old. The healers' non-magical arts are largely keeping pace with the illness, which has been ranked by most as an annoyance, but they are stymied as to how to keep the town's wellwater from being continually fouled. The one person capable of casting curative magics has repeated tried to clear the well but it mysteriously becomes contaminated within a few days, so now he's saving his curatives for the deathly ill and the town is drinking boiled/summoned water and watered down ale.

        Simultaneously, the goblinoid raiders have stepped up their attacks, doing hit and run attacks on homesteads and any they find out in the open. And just yesterday, despite the protection of a dozen milita, two apprentice healers were struck down by crossbow bolts while gathering herbs needed to deal with the illness. The raiders previously tried attacking the mining camp, located 3/4 day away (where a near-majority of the town's menfolk are), but were rebuffed by the strong defenses there. Then they tried (and succeeded) in capturing loads of diamond ore bring brought down from the mines, until the militia gave them hightened guards. Now the raiders seem to be doing all they can to harass and annoy the townsfolk.

The group debated, torn between the two problems, but decided to take care of the raiders first, so that people could go back to their homesteads and not be crowded in a town not meant to hold so many bodies (which has to be adding to the illness issues, they figure), since the healers are keeping pace with the disease. They resolve to go out the next morning and try to track the raiders to their lair, and decide then what to do. They're given lodgings, and the widsom of 'Old Kaelo', the oldest and wisest of the town's healers. Kaelo looks and acts a lot like a human version of the lizardman, with strange items decorating his person, and odd scents wafting from his clothing, and extremely strange eating preferences (he ate vermin in their presence, weirding out the city-girl), and he was able to give them directions to where the last attack occured and more information about the town itself and where he thinks the disease might be coming from to contaminate the well: while the mining camp doesn't have access to water like the town does, requiring the hauling of water to their site, there is water up in the hills and the contamination may be seeping into the water table from up there.

The next morning, the group left their horses behind (the goblinoids like to hit the horses, less armored than people) and hiked out to where they would begin tracking -- and came across another attack in progress. A family from an outlying farm attacked while trying to reach the safety of the town. A new wrinkle, however, the raiders were being aided by a human dressed in "robes the hue of a diseased bruise." Our valiant heroes quickly and efficiently stopped the attack, the lizardman catching the robed individual in a lucky sleep spell, the ranger firing arrow after deadly arrow at his well-studied foes, and the rest scrambling to surround the fleeing kobolds. In the end, two of the six kobolds lay dead, four sleep't and tied up, and the two orcs and the robed individual tied up as well. The family was able to be stabilized and revived.

The group split up, three taking the prisoners and the family to Travensberg, two (bugbear and lizardman-altered-into-hobgoblin) taking a kobold out of sight of the parties to charm/bluff/intimidate him into taking the 'new recruits' who 'saved your skin back there' back to the lair, and two staying behind to offer backup support to the sneaky duo. The kobold was wary, but quickly crumbled under the intimidating growls of the bugbear and scampered off, leading them to the lair, located just three miles away. There was an amusing exchange as the lizardman-hobgoblin dropped back, to ostensibly make sure they weren't followed, and ran into his backup duo -- who weren't told of any plans and didn't see the lizardman alter his appearance. Once the weapons were put down, plans were exchanged, and the lizardman caught back up with the bugbear outside the lair, only to spirit him away, supposedly to help carry a heavy deer he'd killed. Since the bugbear had been using complaints of hunger to fuel his bluffs and intimidations this gave him the perfect opportunity to get away -- with the knowledge of the leader's name who'd been fetched to talk to the 'new recruits'.

The group met back up in town, and Sarkyn had information for them. Since he could and it gave them needed information, he had gone ahead and investigated magically into the natures of their prisoners. He reported, with great disgust, that their captives were 'of the darkest nature and unredeemable' [I run with a five step alignment system, and make a distinction between evil and vile. Vile is unredeemable evil, and GM-speak for angst-free merciful killing], and then told them further that the robed individual was unspeakably foul and an arcane spellcaster of the spontaneous kind, and that there was no use in keeping any of them alive once they obtained as much information as the group felt they needed. Under the laws of the town, the prisoners would be executed anyway, having been 'caught in the act' as it were.

The group focused on the robed caster, and spent some time studying the blindfolded, bitted, and hand-bound fellow. Even without benefit of divinations, his evil nature could be seen. Too long a study of his robes caused the water to feel as if the pattern (an inverted Y) was crawling and writhing in place, and the caster though he looked as young as they looked the sort of person who has seen and done things which harden the soul. The lizardman was put in the cell, and quietly cast a Charm spell on the captive, trusting to his luck earlier in ensorceling him. The sound of spellcasting caught the other's attention, but in his muddled state he couldn't ID the spell and accepted it when this friendly fellow captive explained it away as a Light spell. The two conversed quietly while the party trained arrows and bolts on the captive -- the number increasing from one to three when Marsem asked for the bit to be removed, as "I can stand the blindfold, but I greatly dislike drooling on myself," -- and the lizardman performed incredibly well, relating he'd been thrown in here for hunting farmers which made him appealing to Marsem. Back and forth the conversational ball went, and the lizardman was told that whole they paid the little ones on copper and the medium ones in silver, *he* could have a fourth of the real money and all the farmers he could catch, if he'd help Marsem escape. They concocted a sketchy plan, resolving to escape in the still of the night when both their powers would be full. The last thing Marsem heard was, "Goodnight." "Should we shoot him?" "Yeah." *thwap thwap thwap*. [Will comment on this later]

Kaelo sold the group some unusual potions [Homebrew variant of the Master Alchemist PrC, he can make potions of spells not normally available] and they decided to hit the lair fast and hard, trusting to their luck which had held thus far. Thanks to their sneaking skills, some *incredible* luck, and the fact that their opponents weren't expecting anything like this, they clean-swept the raider's lair, surprising all within. Room after room of orcs fell to their deadly rain of bolts and arrows, and the heroes felt quite accomplished -- until they ran into the tentacled horror lurking on the middle level of the complex the orcs had been clearing out. Missing the bloodstains on the floor and the general lack of activity on this level, the ranger placed himself well within the hidden beast's grasp and nearly died as a result. Only the timely intervention of the party saved the ranger from seeking the comfort of Mielikki's realm, which served as a caution that their luck doesn't always hold and they're not quiiiiiite as bada** as they think they are.

Aldin, the leader of the raiders by virtue of his clericness, fell in one shot due to a very well placed bolt from a hand crossbow. Once the threats were neutralized, the group had time to take in their surroundings more fully and puzzle out what was going on. The three-leveled complex was covered with exquisite dwarven carvings, and the final room boasted inlays of mithril and adamantine as well as the most complicated and intricate carvings they'd seen through the whole of the complex. A secret door was found on one wall, and the only thing that remotely resembled a mechanism was a basic in the floor linked to grooves leading to, and under, the walls, with the inscription in Dwarven, "The dwarven spirit is filled with secrets." They decided to fill the basic with water and see what happened. What happened was the secret door opening to reveal the burial chamber of someone apparently extremely important. Stone sarcophogus resting on a bier of adamantine, sharing the chamber with a massive adamantine anvil engraved with ritualistic pictographs, and hammer & tongs crafted from mithril, adamatine, and iron. As much as the cleric of Wealth and Trade would like to take all this loot with her, they've decided to send to Darrowmar and let the clerics of Moradin know about this ruin they've found. Perhaps the magics layering everything in the room has something to do with the cleric's decision, or maybe she's just not as materialistic as she sounds, the group isn't quite sure.

*edit* They also found the letter from Dunrat to Alind, as provided in the Adventure Pack. They're intrigued by this and will follow it up when they have time, after dealing with the disease */edit*

That's where the session ended, friday night. We game again 3.6.03.

Yeah, this went easy for them. They *know* this went easy for them. I told them it was deliberately easy for them (4ph orcs anyone?). One reason is that this hilights just what seperates the commoners from the heroes: training and resources. They're not that different from the townsfolk, after all. And also I wanted them to have a really good first session, get the aggressive juices flowing, and I sure did that. They're hooked and excited. The group is already starting to mesh and mesh *well*. They're a bit sneaky and devious (and no, that's not a problem for the LG bugbear. He believes in order and systems and self-discipline, not necessarily honor and all that. )The faceman from the sunday game I run (4/6 my group is in my other game) is not the faceman this time, this time it's my two quietest players, and they're doing a fantastic job of it, too. During the 'interrogation' scene, the room was absolutely quiet as the lizardman's PC and I roleplayed. That's when I knew I had them -- when they're bored the room gets not-quiet. And now for my comments on the interrogation scene. One of my acquaintances elsewhere was shocked by what he perceived to be coldblooded murder, and no amount of explanation on my part swayed him. To head off any comments of that nature here, I'll put out my explanations. The group by unanimous vote does *not* want a highly angsty thorny-morality world. They prefer black and white with a few shades of grey. Hence my 5 step alignment scale. If it's Vile, it's the duty of Good to get rid of it. Angelic (Irredeemably & extremely Good) wouldn't have killed Vile, it would have locked it up safely or something, but my PCs aren't Angelic, they're Good. They neutralized thie Vile captives quickly and painlessly, which is a Good action in my alignment system. No doubt others may do it differently, and I'm all for that :)

Looking ahead: they've uncovered a major plothook with this Tomb. The artifacts buried here are what will power the Magical Artisan (a la ideas from BoB) in the dwarven temple inside the CRM. Now that they've been uncovered, they'll eventually link up with the dwarves in Rastor who will have renewed hopes upon hearing about this. THIS is the sign they've been waiting for. And if the cultist activity plothook doesn't work, this is my fallback hook. :)

I thank all who made it this far. I welcome questions and comments.

Edited by: genlang at: 2/26/03 3:11:28 pm
Looking around
(4/22/03 3:50 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Well, frell. I spent quite a while working on a long, detailed, post, and the bloody spellchecker ate it. That'll teach me to work it up in another window *first* from now on.

Here we go again...

The group has cleared out the mines near the dwarven tomb, killing two birds with one stone: The group of kobolds Aldin sent to harass and annoy the miners, who moved into the now-abandoned mine instead, and the undead-controlling orc who was ritually poisoning the water supply via a pool linked into the local watertable. [As an aside, describing creatures as they look can really unnerve a group. The kobolds described the orc as a 'grey skinned, red-eyed tusked demon' and the PCs who'd never seen an orc in the flesh before were suitably alarmed and nervous. I love being a GM!]

Out of all the kobolds, only one both surrendered *and* showed on the Detect Evil radar as redeemable (the rest being quite Vile/unredeemable). Since he's redeemable, they won't kill him. But the town won't take him. And they don't want to release him into the wild again. So, they have a henchman for a while. They're going to try to 'civilize' him a bit, definitely trying to show him the path to being good instead of evil, and give him the tools he needs to made an informed choice later as to what he wants to do with his life. He's seeing this was his lucky break, aside from the fact he's having to associate with a race of creatures he's been brought up to believe will kill him on sight and take his stuff without a second thought (a little subjective morality, anyone? You can have subjective *and* objective morality running side by side sometimes), and the Waukeenar cleric is likewise nervous, and for the same reasons. Ugurth serves as a way for me to ICly nudge people to explore their IC morality and ethics, because he's questioning the path of Good. He may eventually become a full party member, depending on how things play out.

The day after the PCs came back from a trip back to Darrowmar to escort in a group of sages and excavators to swarm the tomb and start cleaning it up and indexing and whatnot, there was a cave in at the worksite of the local wizard, who'd been employing the local teens to do digging in exchange for man-sized wages. The PCs headed out there, only to be told that no magic could be used to aid in the rescue -- and the wizard nearly got hysterical on the subject and refused to explain why. Against their will, they complied (fearing the worst, arcane experiments that would go *boom*), and were heartsick when it took them hours to uncover the bodies of the six teens trapped -- bodies they could have saved if they'd gotten to them more quickly. The teens were killed by burrowing animals, animals the group tracked down to ascertain the threat level (something the wizard also wanted checked out). The ranger recognized the beasts as rat-kin, and meat-eaters, and for the sake of the people who might eventually be lured back to work for the indifferent but well-paying wizard, decided to kill the nest (and save the meat for those in the party who would eat such things). An interrogation of the least assertive party members (determined to be deliberate by sharp-eyed fellow party members) by the wizard revealed that he was seeking a crystal ball, should one happen to show up amid the digging, and the party decided to see if they could find it on their own -- which they did after much tracking and exploring of old nests. The ball was embedded in solid bedrock, obviously not easily retrievable, and so they asked their mentor to take a look at it and determine what it was, being leery of anything of power falling into the hands of the wizard they distrusted. Sarkyn meditated, read the reflections the magical item cast in the Weave, and was able to determine enough to know this is a powerful item and that there was no risk to using magic in the area. So, they swiped the ball, took it back to town secretly for full analyzing, and eventually discovered it to be an artifact. They decided to hand it over to the Church of Mystra, where it would be dealt with in a fair manner, rather than hand it over to the wizard for his own uses, and further decided to replace it with a broken ball placed to look as if it'd been the victim of a landslide. (I'll let them believe that tactic worked, for now. Bringing this wizard back after they've forgotten about him will be fun.) It was determined that this was a fairly important artifact, and so the group has earned an 'in' with the church from now on (the ball will eventually provide access to spells and magic items this plane has never seen before, and the spells will be introduced in a fair fashion, instead of showing up in the personal arsenal of one or two wizards).

As for the future....

The PCs have been told, by the dwarven sage, that having discovered this tomb, they're likely to be the Chosen Ones who will help the dwarves do... something they don't want to say just yet, and have routed the PCs to the town of Rastor, off to the north. The dwarves there have been waiting for this prophecy to be fulfilled and they're the ones who can best explain all of this to the PCs.

Since the PCs are headed to Rastor, Lord Abrahms (who has already rewarded them for helping the town out in so many ways) would like the group to touch base with his liegemen in Hommlet, which is not far out of their way, to see if they can be of assistance -- the town seems to always have *something* going on, and the group has proven to be useful.

So, as you can see, I've inserted plothooks that bypass Hommlet entirely. I didn't do it deliberately, but I'm regarding this as a Good Thing. Now it doesn't matter what happens in Hommlet, they're bound to going to Rastor and the dwarves should be able to hook them into the CRM -- if only to help set up and them protect the Magical Artisan (again, a la BoB). Access to the spirit of a dwarven master crafter should be bribe enough, and if not, I can toss in things appealing to honor and adventure and putting things right, etc. Plus whatever comes out of Hommlet to further goad the PCs to action. This should be interesting. Especially when the PCs encounter the drugs. I've decided that the local barkeep's found a way to toss some of the drugs in with his brewing to make a beer that has just enough addictive properties to taste really really good, a taste that 'satisfies' unlike any other once you've had one -- and the first one's free. Not actually addictive, just... seemingly yummier. He's making a lot of money on that brew as a result.

I'm having a great deal of fun GMing this group, and it's an interesting look at how the same players will approach things differently given different characters and a different mix of players. As usual, I welcome comments & questions, and I'll be trying to update this a tad more regularly. Our next gaming session is May 1st or 2nd.

A cup of coffee
(5/24/03 3:09 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Well, we've had a handful of sessions since my last posting, mostly exposition scenes due to short gaming sessions.

They arrived in Hommlet and went straight to the Keep to talk to the 'heads' of the town, conveying the instructions they'd received from Lord Abrahms to assist the town in whatever way they could. They got referred back to Elmo, who they called the real head of the town, and were sent merrily along their way.

The PCs visited the three temple/shrines (Mielikki instead of Ehlona, Lathandar instead of Pelor, Helm instead of St. Cuthbert), and talked to Elmo, and every place they introduced themselves and asked what might be troubling the town, the first words off everyone's lips were pointing the PCs to the 'Hobgoblins, in the ruined temple, up to the northeast'. It became an amusing refrain as they kept asking *everyone*, and since no one else knew that the PCs had already been told... Elmo also quizzed them as to their abilities, thinking he'd point them at Nulb to 'work off their youthful energies', but upon discovering they were only of 3rd level (able to tap second circle spells), he rethought that and after much pressing by the PCs finally told them that Jaroo had confided in him that his apprentice was acting strange.

Everything else seemed rather calm, and they made arrangements to talk to Y'dey the next morning after the morning's blessing of the guard, and to talk to a town sage about the Symbol they'd found (elder elemental eye, on Aldin, back in Travinsberg in the dwarven tomb). They also get a history of the town from Elmo that night at dinner, and the local bard sung the song of Thrommel (al la BoB), and they found out a little more about Thrommel. Thrommel's very important to the people of Hommlet for a prince of a foriegn land, because they attribute the turning of the tide to him and feel he saved their town.

After the dinner, the group mixes & mingles in the bar. The pretty cleric gets tagged with Chatrilion who tries to make a pass at her (clumbsily) and gets bored to tears with economics talk (cleric is a cleric of the goddess of Wealth and trade). The important point of the discussion is that he does tell her rather emphatically that the moathouse is empty of all but rats, he was very disappointed when he went there a little while back. She's immediately suspecious about this, but hides it well. She also was able to note him talking to Mardosen at the bar in a hush-hush stealthy manner.

The ranger and fighter go talk to the paladin-in-disguise, who tells them about his visions and that he'd been up to the temple and only found hobgoblins and he didn't think his god meant those as the evil (though he did kill a few for good measure), and wished the group much luck in persuing their goals.

The rogue found his way over to Questin and overheard the halfling talking to the head of the local weavers guild, sussing out which clans were represented by halfings under his employ. The rogue then moved in to offer the halfling a drink and some friendly chatter, and Questin said that he was simply wandering the land to see new things, and should he happen across members of his clan (of whom none were here) he'd be happy to check in on family. He hit it off well with the rogue, both being wandering spirits.

The witchdoctor in the group hooked up with the gnome illusionist, who was busy reading up on Lareth, and was willing to chat a little when the witchdoctor provided a glowing beer mug (Light) for him and when asked said it would last about half a mark (revealing he was of comparable level with the gnome). Nothing particularly illuminating here, just a little background on Lareth (possibly a lover of Llolth's, last seen yadda yadda, quite beautiful to behold, you know the drill).

The next morning, while Y'day's talking to them, they pull out the holy symbol and ask her about it, and she nearly has a litter of kittens on the spot, and goes into a fairly passionate recital of the evils that holy symbol represents and tells them a little about the cult. She's interrupted by Elmo coming in to report to her (and the group too, since they're there and willing to help) all the hell that's broken loose this day. The miller's not at his millhouse and was last seen two days ago. Spugnior's daughter reported her father two days overdue from his 'herb collecting'. And two of the halfling weavers, a husband & wife, were slain last night.


Edited by: genlang at: 5/24/03 3:10:46 pm
A cup of coffee
(5/24/03 3:52 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
That's where the next to last session ended, then we had a hiatus of a few weeks, then picked up again last night.

The group decided that out of all this that they could deal with, they'd visit the druids' grove, then the moathouse, and then the ruined temple, leaving the matters inside town for the town guard to deal with.

The druid left them unsettled. Very serene looking, dressed very simply (all Jaroo's gear had been handed out, remember?), and not at all what they were expecting. Instead of actively working to maintain the balance, *this* druid seems content to let the balance work itself out. And oh yes, Yundi's been acting strange, ever since Jaroo's bear went 'walkabout' for awhile. This IS the first time he's had to deal with the reality that animal companions don't stay forever. The group asked him about other things in the area, and only when they ask about the moathouse does his composure change (only one person noticed, however). Unsettled, they bid him farewell and try to track the bear outside the grove, to no avail. The most recent tracks leading out of the grove lead to a honey tree and back again.

They packed up their horses for the trip to the moathouse (the fighter's a slowpoke on foot) and made their apologies to the sage, and headed out. An hour from the moathouse they run into Del. Del happily chatters with them, showing off his freshly killed skunk, and once they turn his chattering toward the moathouse, he's the best source of information they've had to date. Holy men in muddy red-brown robes, "No, honey, I didn't get close enough to check their holy symbol!", accompanied by strange critters that look sort of like the bugbear "except thinner, greener, and more doglike" -- and he and the fighter get into a discussion of what it might be. "No, not kobolds, they're LITTLE. No, not orcs, they're mansized. Not trolls, not green enough." (Del got rather over-excited at the female fighter's lack of monster knowledge) And there's a dragon, blue, about the size of a pony. And oh yeah, the place is haunted anyway. Fleshy undead, and no, I didn't get close enough to determine their TYPE. What do you want, the number of fillings and their pedigree? Yeesh!

They chatted a bit more with Del and then debated whether to even go near the moathouse. Several of the PCs are cursed with curiosity, and so they decided to 'scout out' the moathouse.

The rogue did an excellent job of tiptoe-ing around the side of the moathouse (once they dealt with the silly frog, who nearly swallowed him) and climbing quietly over the rubble pile to the west of the courtyard. The ranger wasn't quite so stealthy and roused the dragon's attention. Luckily for him, he hid rather well, but it meant the dragon was more alert when the rogue was trying to be sneaky. Said rogue found himself trapped in the kitchen, with an attentive dragon out in the hallway. Up the chimney he went and back around the side of the moathouse, leaving the ranger to wonder at the fate of the rogue. He distracted the dragon with an arrow shot through the other end of the courtyard entrance, and kept an eye and an ear out while the dragon paraded around and shot a few lightning bolts out. (I gave the blue the personality of a mean-spirited yet playful stallion, if that stallion had the ability to shoot lightning bolts, so he was parading around and feeling very badass about it all) The ranger was much impressed by the bolts and decided NOT to fire on the dragon unless necessary. :>

The group finally regathered and retreated and they debated verbosely and at length over whether to attack the dragon. Keep in mind, it's a group of 6 3rd level characters, plus one first level warrior kobold. Against a young blue dragon. Their mentor said, dubiously, that if they came up with a good plan and were smart, careful, and lucky, they MIGHT take the dragon. He also gave them Dragons 101, and estimated that based on the size, this one probably didn't have magic or damage resistances, but it would definately hurt them bad if they got in melee with it. And that no, he wasn't going to help any more than he usually did, but he'd be there to sweep up the pieces and bring them back to life if needbe. Gulp.

They finally decided to try it. The next morning at dawn they struck. Silence on a rock, half the group worked their way around to various parts of the courtyard, dropping off members to stay at their respective posts along the west wall. The other half of the group moved into position along the south wall (the kobold on a ladder shooting through an arrow-slit). The bugbear monk decided to try to infiltrate through the southeast corner of rubble -- only to run smack dab into the ooze. He spent the whole fight trying to get away from the ooze, and found himself first back on top of the curtain wall, from whence he fell onto the roof (ouch) and had to move V E R Y slowly in order to pick his way through the unstable surface. Everyone dropped off in position, the cleric summoned a pair of badgers, which got the dragon's attention (he'd already heard some of the unshielded people moving and was alert). Everyone went gulp as the dragon flew over and dropped the badger in one bite, but they gamely pressed on, pelting the dragon from all directions with crossbow bolts and arrows (and burning sphere's from the witchdoctor) The blue decided to go after the less shiny ranger instead of the fighter in hard breast-plate, and Hovered right next to him (move to get over there, standard to hover), blinding everyone in the courtyard. The ranger felt his way back out, via the wall, and hid, while the fighter held, listening so that she wouldn't get surprised by the dragon and be flatfooted (and going defensive). Everyone holds for the two rounds it takes to get vision back, and in the meantime the dragon flies over to bite the fighter (the ranger being 'gone' and the fighter closer to the staircase he's guarding). Fighter withdraws straight back, eyes watering furiously as she tries to keep an ear on the dragon. Everyone's vision clears, but not before the dragon tries to bite the fighter again, and then before it can make its third attack, everyone's pelted it with more arrows and it falls dead at the fighter's feet even as its charging his breath weapon to bite and breath.

The group feels incredibly lucky to have accomplished this fine task, and not at a bit cocky. They're still scared and not quite believing it, and thanking their gods.

What they don't know is that there's a basement full of clerics. :> They blew a lot of resources on this fight, and all they know about is the grey ooze in the corner. Next session will open with them looting while a few people deal with the ooze, and their mentor teleports the carcass of the blue back to the capital ASAP (fresher is better), and I'm already relishing the possible reactions of wet pants when they're amid looting, guard down, and the clerics come up the stairs...

BTW, if anyone at all is having fun reading these logs, please comment or ask questions? Even without feedback I'll keep up the logs, but it'd be nice to know that someone's taking enjoyment in our group's exploits :)

A song from the sixties
(6/5/03 10:57 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Two more sessions, not much progress. Such is the life when you only get 2-3 hours per session.

The group made enough noise to attract the attention of the gnoll guards at the base of the stairs, and as the gnolls headed up the stairs to check things out, the group made more noises revealing a pretty large sized party (8 characters, total). This gave the gnolls pause, so the group heard the gnolls go back down the stairs [as they retreated to talk to Gren and warn her.] Finally, however, the gnolls came back upstairs, and came nose to nose with PCs with readied weapons. The first two things the gnoll saw were the human fighter and the bugbear fighter. Bugbears can't be good, can they? you could almost see the gnoll thinking, and a little bluffing backed up with a holy symbol of the EEE (off Aldin, back in the dwarven tomb) got the group down the stairs.

Gren and her four gnoll guards didn't last very long, alas. The group muffed a bluff check and were able to stave off the hostilities for a single round by producing Dunrat's letter to Aldin -- before Gren could finish reading the letter and launch an attack, the lizardman fetish-caster-sorcerer landed one of his potent sleep spells and rolled high on the hitdice. 1 sleeping cleric, 2 sleeping gnolls, and one unconscious gnoll later, the remaining one surrendered to the inevitable. The group stabilized the one gnoll, stripped everyone of gear, and locked them up, Gren getting the storeroom to herself and the gnolls sharing the old (and now stripped) armory. They talked with Spugnior (after healing and feeding him), and were persuaded to sleep *outside* the moathouse [Using BoVD's lasting effects of evil: This is the next to highest level of evil, I decided no one of non-evil alignment can get a restful night's sleep here], and the next day they went in to explore some more. They fed&watered their prisoners, and denied Gren the chance to Command one of them via Silence on a rock [I have smart PCs. Very smart.]. They haven't interrogated her yet, choosing to instead explore. They found, and dealt with, the horde of skeletons, and finally found the secret door leading into #26.

That is where we stopped tonight, given the lateness of the hour. Their mentor has returned from Darrowmar and informed the group that the prisoners aren't evil (using the naive Gren and pragmatic gnoll approach), and the group is planning to haul all/some of them back to Hommlet to face Helmite judgement (Helm's my FR replacement for St Cuthbert, LN Protection deity). I'm hoping the PCs do something that allows me to roleplay Gren's change of heart and emotional breaking away from EEE, and I have Festrath all prepped for insane burbling and babbling. This should be fun :)

A guitar
(6/6/03 5:56 am)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Good stuff, genlang, keep it up. I'm reading it, as I'm sure a lot of other lurkers are. :)

"I have smart PCs. Very smart."
I love to hear this. Don't hold back, use all the tactics that the hivemind provides to really challenge those, players. I can't wait to see how you work out the battle plans in the pit room and the portcullis.

A song from the sixties
(6/6/03 12:59 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Thank you for the encouragement :)

As I said in the very first post, 3 of them are GMs in their own right (5+ and 10+ years each), and they're meshing well. One thing I didn't mention, though (I'm pretty sure), that I'm going to break out to a new thread, is that I lifted something from Spycraft's rules: Action dice. This tilts the game in their favor, maybe a little too much, but I'm finetuning them *now* in the parts I know are supposed to be easy, so when the game gets to the CRM, it's hopefully more balanced.

When the game left off last night, they'd alerted the gnolls. They chose to take-ten on their move silently as they moved away from the secret doors and past the portcullis. The two weaponed fighter really blew the quiet with her whopping 9. So, when the game resumes, it'll be a fight with Garrick and his gnolls (I put Garrick in 27. I don't see why he's off on his own, and this makes a rougher encounter)

(6/20/03 1:28 pm)
Another night, another fight, and finally some XP!
We skipped the 12th, because I needed some me-time, but we took up the challenge again on the 19th.

The group made short work of the gnolls; between multiple applications of sleep and big beefy fighter-types pounding Garrick and a gnoll into negatives, the remaining (awake) two mercenary gnolls decided that loyalty to a leader they don't really like and pay from creepy, pain-dealing, non-gnolls wasn't worth dying over, and changed loyalties over to the bugbear they regard as the leader of the PCs group. A little food, a little fairness, and the PCs learned that there's three clerics down the hallway that the gnolls don't like, non-undeadraising clerics ("They can do that?"), and that the clerics are scary enough to make the gnoll informants nervous, as is the leader ("What we do for pay he does for pleasure") and sharp eyes could note the bruises and matted fur and other signs of longterm abuse on the two gnolls they were talking to.

The bugbear has decided to see if he can bring these gnolls, perhaps all of the gnolls, over to the side of good (or at least neutrality), which puts him closer to Angelic than the Waukeenar cleric who just wants to dump all the prisoners (11 gnolls and one cleric) into Y'Dey's hands and let *her* deal with it, feeling that not killing them is sufficient for the causes of Good. (Player is trying very hard to play a Good character -- and is failing, miserably, most of the time)

The group played with the trap and the portcullis a few times, explored the northern half of the complex, checked out the deadend path and toyed with using the stoneshape scroll they'd filched to open that up, then changed their minds. Finally, I hit the pause button due to the lateness, and the group decided to head back to town with their captives and their loot and Rest & Reflect the next day, preparing to go make an assault on the clerics the day after that. (Houserule dictates 8 hours of unbroken rest followed by 16 hours of contemplating one's navel before XP can be assigned. It'd been over two months since they've R&R'd, so the 4475 xp each had them allll hot&bothered, in a good way. They were half-way to 4th, now they're most of the way to 5th.)

Won't *they* be surprised when they get back to the moathouse and find the clerics gone? Muhahahahaha. (Of course, there's also the looks on the clerics' faces when they return to talk to Garrick and find everyone gone and all the loot gone as well!)

We'll miss another gaming session, most likely, to doing loot-splitting since the group wants to meet Thursday and we can never go too late on thursdays, and there's a BIG pile of loot that needs to be examined and split.

Stay tuned for updates as they occur.

(6/26/03 10:19 pm)
Re: Loot Splitting
We met. Nothing too exciting happened, as it was a loot split night. The players realized their loot split method, while more realistic, makes for less individual loot. [I calculate the worth of what I hand out. It's their business how they split it from their, and their own fault if they get less than normal sale value (as they did tonight, when they chose 45% salevalue in all gold over 50% value equally split in gold and credit with Y'dey) or if they packrat things into party treasure. They decided they wanted it this way, so this way they shall get it.]

They woke up the morning after returning to town to find the artifacts, plus the scrolls of stoneshape, plus 15 of their Cure Light Wounds potions stolen. They didn't set any special guards or wards, so an invisible Silent thief made off with the goods, plus they *tried* to kill Gren, but I decided the Silence wore off mid-attempt, and Gren was able to scream bloody murder, thus scaring off her would-be killer. When the group meets again, they'll discover this plus a bunch of other things like the millhouse now being empty and Jaroo, Chatrilion, and Mardosen gone. Dunrat's pulled up stakes and is headed back to the CRM where it's safer.

The group has Fragach (sp?), Thrommel's sword, and they have found out its his sword (various markings), so they're not sure quite what to do with it for the moment. It's expressed minor annoyance at the lot of them -- except for the monk -- because they're all either chaotic or neutral. The monk bugbear's willing to carry the weapon for now, and they'll deal with the weapon later. The sword won't give him anything special right now. If he bears it for awhile and the sword observes him being LG in act as well as in though, the sword *may* ocassionally give him a bonus to his will save. In Thrommel's vicinity (or the vicinity of his bloodline) it gives a major willsave bonus (thus explaining why Thrommel didn't break until the sword went away). [The seeds for Thrommel's redemption have been sown. This should be good.]

Now for the sad-ish news. We won't actually game again for another month. People will be out of town, and so we miss two weeks there, and then I'll have my 3.5 stuff and I'm devoting two sessions to nursing people through conversion to 3.5. So, we game again on the 31st or 1st. I hope no one minds if I bump this thread a few times so it doesn't run the risk of scrolling off the board. As always I welcome questions/comments in this thread.

(7/31/03 3:11 pm)
Time passes...
We gathered, finally (books delayed almost two weeks past projected arrival date) to start the conversion process to 3.5.

The bugbear monk was hit by the changes to humanoid skillpoints per HD. The two weapon fighter may be hit by the changes to power attack (human short-sword wielder). The sorcerer will definately be affected by the changes in spells. The rest of the party either didn't change or changed in a positive fashion. There's some envy/jealousy on the cleric's player's part towards the changes to ranger, but all will work out in the end.

Out next gaming session (due to our host being at Pennsic (sp?)) will be 8/22. Hopefully we can advance the plot at that time. Hopefully the module will be finished with conversion. I appreciate the work the conversion artists are putting into this, I wish I had the time to help :(

(9/3/03 2:19 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Gaming's been really slow this summer for some reason. Blah. We gathered on 8/22, and we'll gather again 9/5.

At the last session, the lizardman privately met with Gren, in the town jail, and traded her her release in exchange for information and a future favor (unlikely to be called in). Gren was willing to make the deal, being disillusioned by the troglodyte's treatment of her and the attempt on her life the previous night by Chatrillion. Gren spilled what she knew (according to the board's wisdom, I forget just which post&poster, probably Andorax) -- but she didn't mention Jaroo. A small imp of perversity caused her to respond to the question about the druid's appentice with the comment that Dunrat had nothing to do with the apprentice. So they're writing off the Jaroo thing to internal druid politics and going on their merry way.

The gnolls they captured are being taken to Rastor, there to be 'shipped' back to Ruquerin for possible training at the Hand of the Helping Heart. The gnolls are intrigued by the idea of being rewarded for what they like doing, so are warily cooperating. I'll weave this back into the plotline when they're done with RttToEE and are back in Ruquerin :)

They spent a great deal of time gearing up to hit the millhouse at night -- only to find it abandoned. The millhouse didn't explode because all who went inside used magical light or darkvision (two sweeps of the millhouse). They found the corpse of the miller's wife, tied to the bed and dead from throat being 'nibbled', and the will-be Champion of Air sent up a prayer to Akadi to clear the air, then dashed inside to retrieve the corpse for proper burial (prayer was answered).

They've decided to finish clearing out the moathouse -- I'm not sure why -- and I paused the game as they started to enter the room with all the wights. Hopefully this week they'll finish the moathouse (it still has Festrath, the grells, and the cockatrices) and I can advance the plot towards some of the side-adventures I want to impliment.

So, yes, we're still plugging away. ^_^

(9/4/03 7:53 am)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
"They've decided to finish clearing out the moathouse -- I'm not sure why -- and I paused the game as they started to enter the room with all the wights."

Yikes! What room is that? :x

Cordo Crowfoot
(9/4/03 12:49 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
You probably have computer games to thank for that "let's clear it out" mentality. :)

"They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers. They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came... They were scum who died violent deaths, hanging on to a certain cachet among the impressionable through their undeniable bravery and their occasionally impressive exploits" China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

(9/4/03 5:09 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Sorry. Ghouls, not wights. Room #33 of the Moathouse dungeon. (That's what I get for making comments without my books by my side.)

You could be right about video game mentality. I'm not remembering any especially good reasons for this finishing of the moathouse -- but it's their game, not mine ^_^

The other news for my game is that I'm swapping out my action points/poker chips for a different set of mechanics to playtest. I'm not ready to reveal details beyond I'm using the Traits & Passions mechanics from Pendragon. When I'm ready to ramble about it, I'll put up a seperate post with as much detail as Green Knight will allow :)

(9/7/03 6:44 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
Well, that was an interesting session.

The group played around with the statue-pillar in the ghoul cave, and despite the emenations of cold and evil decided to futz around with it a lot. They ended up raiding the items from the base (ultra-carefully), and headed back to town to get the items ID'd and into safe storage. They believe they may need these items in order to defeat the big T. I got to give the two bearers lovely nasty nightmares which they're attributing to their deities being displeased with them.

They tracked down Yundi to have a chat with him. The apprentice is loyal to his seemingly-changed master, though won't stay beyond the end of his training.

They then had a talk with Jaroo and were disappointed when he didn't detect as evil, but confirmed their suspicions that *something* weird is going on here, as the druid didn't know some things that Jaroo should have known. However, instead of following this up, they've decided to go *back* to the moathouse one last time and check out the final corridor -- the one I know leads to the pit and the grells and all sorts of cinematic scary fun.

When/if they get back, they'll discover that Yundi was slain while out collecting herbs, apparently by goblinoids (but really by Chat, his last act before heading north). This is the reason behind the self-satisfied smirk they observed jaroo wearing when he came back to the grove (and didn't know he was being watched). Poor Yundi. Ah, well, these things happen. :>

Next session I finally get to invoke the sidequest I've been sitting on for weeks.

The will-be Champion of Air had a dream about a hilltop surrounded by fruit trees with breezes blowing. Yundi told them this matched the description of a shrine to Akadi (Deity of elemental Air), two days north on the trail to Rastor. All sorts of fun awaits them, depending on how intensively they interact with the area in question.

Imagine what would result if a druid, a powerful one, had 20+ years to work on an overnight camping site for small groups. It's a fun exercise -- and what they'll be encountering. ^_^

(11/13/03 6:31 pm)
Re: GenLang's Thursday Night PCs
It's been slow going these past few months, everyone's been too busy to have more than a few sessions.

They satisfied their sidequest to track down the brigands who killed the druid who used to oversee the waystation, and were able to take two of the seven captive in the end (the others fighting to the death), with the aid of one of the brigands who turned out to be a Helm-following infiltrator.

They've reached Rastor, and heard the prophecy they are a part of. I include it here for your reading pleasure.

Come close and hear a tale of what happened when you were not there; by my honor the tale is as straight and true as Moradin's aim.

In the Year of the Ruby Tears, 250 years ago now, the Hammershield clan was as strong and majestic as the diamonds they harvested. Barundar Hammershield was a wise lord, canny and experienced and touched with the Father's blessing. The Hammershield clan numbers were like that of trees in a vast forest, and over the past century they had taken Mount Stalagos as their vast clanhall and life's working. All prospered, and all was glorious.

Then came the Robed Ones.

Then came disaster.

The Robed Ones issued an order for the clan to depart their homes and mines and depart. Barundar scorned their words and the clan continued their workings. The Robed Ones pronounced a mighty curse, that the clan *would* vacate, within the year, and went away. Council was held, and courage was bolstered by pride, and still the clan heeded not the Robed Ones.

The already inhospitable crater lake became impassible, filled with strange creatures who attacked without provocation. The weather turned cold and and foul, confining the clan underground. The subterranean gardens fell to previously unknown afflictions of rot and vermin. But the most terrible blow fell when the miners delved too deeply and awoke a sleeping evil. A black mist composed of uncountable whirling blades, eyes lit with a fell green light, able to pass through solid stone, it laid waste to a full half of the clan in a single night of silent savagery.

In the moment when Barundar beheld the remains of his family his spirit snapped. It was a shell of the former leader who called the remainder of his clan together and and told them of the need to desert their halls that very day. Normally brave warriors were broken and pitiful, the whole clan traumatized by this unheralded act of aggression and their apparent inability to fight against supernatural forces.

However, there was a schism within the clan. Many merely wished to move to the nearest outpost of civilzation, this village of Rastor, and make a new start in life while awaiting the day they would return to their ancestral home -- for Barundar had called upon the Father and spent time in meditation and had received a prophecy. When the Helping Hands bring the Regalia of the Smith back to The Hallowed Forge, your time of exile will be at an end.

Barundar, however, did not wish to remain near Mount Stalagos. His heart was frozen by dreadful fear, and he resolved to take those faithful to him as far as he could, the better to hide the artifacts the prophecy spoke of.

I will not speak of the debates and madness which suddenly and briefly seized those in the Hall. When all was said and done, a score of dwarves lay dead and the divide was permanent. Barundar fled south with a small most of those whose personal loyalty to the man outweighed their devotion to the clan, while the remainder of the clan settled in Rastor, and won a place for themselves -- but that is another tale.

Barundar did not make it terribly far before he was struck down by a series of brainstorms and his retainers crafted a tomb for him and the artifacts, upon the advice of the Father, and then voluntarily joined him in death.

For centuries the clan has waited in this town, spiritual wounds slowly healing, focused on two things: To prepare for the day when we would regain our home, and to hold fast to our belief that this day would come. When word reached us that Lord Barrenmore Truthspeaker had founded Ruquerin and the Hands of the Helping Heart, we took heart and hope and began watching and listening most carefully. The Robed Ones have left us alone here... and we take care to not upset them in turn. It is a wary truce. We do not complain when their servants spend money here, and they do not seem to care about our existance as long as we remain meek.

And now you have found the Regalia of the Smith, and you are of the Hands of the Helping Heart, and so you must be they of whom the prophesy spoke. I charge thee, in the name of my brother Barundar Hammershield -- accept thy role in this ancient tale of woe and give truth to our waiting.

The Regalia of the Smith is the anvil, hammer, and tongs they found in the tomb early on that started all of this prophecy talk.

They've promised to give their answer in three days time, at the end of the Spring Festival. That session will be in mid-February because we've gone into Winter Break mode. :/

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