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Looking around
(3/31/03 8:52 pm)
DM lightnng campaign log
So my group finally - finally! - finished Sunless Citadel last night. Next session they will be headed to Hommlet, having found a letter to Belak (the crazy druid in SC) from a certain V. imploring the former to be in Hommlet at a "pre-agreed time". The letter is written on a parchment that has the elder elemental eye on it, as well as the upturned triangle thingy.

I am excited! Although the first session in RttToEE hasn't happened yet, I thought I'd start the log now - introduce the group - and also relate one of the most unbelievable fight endings I have ever DMed, as it transpired last night (I know, the fight isn't about RttToEE, but I think it's worth it :D )

The group: (FR campaign)

Vivian De Kazinonayagi, Female Elf Rog3 - a noble with a rebellios nature, Vivian's favorite tactic to finding pit traps is to trigger them, then use her +7 reflex save (19 Dex) to jump aside at the last moment. That reflects her bone-headed mentality and low wisdom score perfectly.
Semaj, Male Human Rgr3 - a loner at heart, Semaj has reluctantly grown into the role of leader over the course of the group's adventures. Semaj and Vivan constantly, err, debate the virtues of figuring out peaceful solutions to problems (the former) vs. bashing-the-heck-out-of-all-of-em (the latter). Right now we're at 50-50. I am hoping Semaj wins these debates more often as they get into RttToEE :b
Jozanislav, Male Human Ftr3 - a big bruiser with interesting ideas and quick decisions. His biggest claim to fame thus far has been jumping off the top of a 60' lighthouse in an attempt to avoid detection by a search group... that jump being straight into the middle of the camp from whence the search group was deployed. Also saved party butt multiple times by suggesting new and unusual courses of action.
Connor Tel Guldhandt of Daerlun, male Human Clr3 - Son to a family of Knights and Paladins, court of the Guldhandts of Daerlun. Connor became the family's hidden little secret when he couldnt quite cut it as a Paladin, due to his tendency to stumble at critical moments (low DEX). Instead, he was ushered into the nearest temple to Lathander. Has been trying to prove himself worthy ever since, and thus has a tendency to forget he has divine powers when a fight presents itself.
Sinjin, male Half-Elf Wiz3 - Shy and introvert, Sinjin likes to observe. He also likes to cast sleep at pretty much anything that moves, including his own party.
Polgara, female Half-Elf Sor3 - Raised by her uncle/aunt, Polgara found on her uncle's deathbed that she was deserted by her mom, a supposedly stunningly beautiful human. Polgara herself is quite stunning (CHA 17), but her slight Elven features had been a source of ridicule in the village when she was growing up, creating in her a dislike of Elves in general. Finding that she herself was the result of her mom being raped by one nurtured those feelings. Has a mysterious ring given her by her aunt as a gift from her mother, that she has not been able to identify (ring contains 1 wish). Quick tempered.

So we have six characters, 3rd level each, although at least some will be 4th level before Utreshimon (they will meet Poog, an Ettin, and his pets Gaddo, an Ogre, and Feshu, a Bugbear, on their way to Hommlet). The group is pretty well balanced IMO. Wish them luck!

And now for last night's combat. Stop reading here if you don't care for anything not-RttToEE!

The last battle (Sunless Citadel)

(before combat, only Vivian and Semaj are lvl3, the others lvl2)
So the group hits the big cavern with the briars after having a close encounter with the Shadow, resulting in the weakening of Vivian and more importantly, Jozanislav (the bruiser). They make their way to the clearing where Belak was standing with Kulket (the giant frog), Sharwyn, Bradford, and the 3 twig blights. Belak calls them to stop and tries to engage them in conversation, managing to do well enough to allow the 10 other twig blights to appear behind the party.
Then Semaj loses his patience and picks up his bow. All hell breaks loose. I had already decided prior to combat that Belak would NOT use his wand of entangle - I thought it would be overkill (most of the party are inexperienced players). How right I was.
Various summoned creatures and about 20 rounds of combat later (each taking a LONG time due to about 30 creatures total being on the battle field), an eery silence overtakes the huge cavern. Bodies litter the floor. Sinjin and Vivan, both at 0 HP's, watch helplessly as Jozanislav, Polgara and Connor are bleeding to death. Unbeknownst to the party, Sharwyn at 0 HP is also looking with a weary eye, waiting to use her last spell at the most opportune time.
In the middle of the clearing stands Semaj, down to 8 HP, and facing him from above is a summoned Hawk, also with 8 HP. Jozanislav fails his stablization roll, going down to -7 HP. The hawk swoops down and bites, for 2 HP. Semaj retaliates, missing with the sword but hitting with a Dagger, for 3 HP. Connor, at -9 HP, makes his last stablization roll - and rolls a 0! Sharwyn, deciding that the time has come for a last, heroic effort, casts flare successfully on Semaj, and goes down to -1. Polgara, also at -9 HP, rolls to stabilize - and also rolls a 0!
Next round begins. Semaj at 6HP, Hawk at 5 HP. Jozanislav misses his roll again - now at -8 HP. Hawk tries to bite, just missing (by 1). Semaj, now somewhat blinded and very afraid, lunges again - and misses with his sword due to the flare!

Now, understand that all the players are at this point completely silent, as Semaj takes the D20 to roll for the Dagger. Jozanislav knows he is about to go to -9 HP - he has already pre-rolled his next stablization roll (and missed). Everybody is tense, and you can hear hearts beating. I cant even begin to describe the moment. Everything is happening almost in slow motion. They have fought well. A first character death is hovering very near. A TPK is close.

Semaj rolls for the Dagger. He needs to roll a 14 or higher (+4 mod, -1 because of flare, AC of Hawk 17). Hawk has 5 HP, Dagger damage is d4+1. The die, perhaps taking cue from the moment, rolls for what seems an eternity, finally, for a quick second, almost balancing on the raised edge of a piece of cardboard - then falling off and rolling a couple times more. As it rests, it shows 19. A hit - and threat. At least three players shout "yes!" at the same time, then immediately fall silent again. Another roll. 14 or higher to confirm. This time the die quickly settles. Everybody is afraid to look. We look. 14.

Now ALL players shout "yes!" at the same time.

Semaj takes two d4's. Rolls. Both land. One shows 2. The other shows 2. Thats 4+2. Hawk is sliced through, falls to the ground.

Jozanislav goes down to -9 as Semaj rushes over to him to attempt a heal check. He has a +2. He rolls D20. It comes up 15. Jozan is now safe - at -9 HP (the third character to do so!).

Talk about a collective sigh of relief!

Semaj now decides as a last, desperate measure, to feed Connor (the cleric) a clear potion they found and havent identified. Its the only potion they have, and Semaj is desperate to try ANYTHING. It turns up as a cure light wounds potion. DM rolls for HP healed, and comes up with 10. Connor has 1 HP - and 4 cure minors left. He casts one each on Vivan and Sinjin, bringing them up to 1 HP, and one on Polgara, to make sure she doesnt start bleeding again. The party now has 4 live characters, two safe at -8 and -9 HP, and everyone is deliriously happy.

I don't think I ever DMed anything that was this down to the wire. Sure, they still have to make it out of there (I have some surprises on the way out, particularly from a couple of Goblin kids who resent their fathers being murdered by this group of nasty humans and elves), with two unconscious characters, but can you imagine the sense of achievement they got?

I apologize for it not being strictly RttToEE - but it was on the way, so to speak. It was such a rare moment, and I wanted to share.

Next game - and first official RttToEE session - on 4/13, log to follow 8)

Mister J
Looking around
(3/31/03 9:44 pm)
Those are the moments gaming groups live for, my man. My own experience running that one wasn't quite as intense, but I did manage to take the group down a peg or two. Good job.

Can't wait to read the log.

Hey, one thing, how do you roll a "0" to stabalize? Just a confusion thing, prolly.


Looking around
(3/31/03 10:04 pm)
Re: rolling zeroes
10% to stabilize... roll D10, if it comes up "0" (a "10" really, the die shows a "0" though) it means success. Sorry for the confusion :)

Looking around
(4/14/03 3:32 pm)
Re: Log, session I
I promised to post so I will... although my players took their time and the characters only reached the outskirts of Hommlet by the time the evening ended. At least I now know for certain that they will "get" into RttToEE next time (that would be 4/27).

Getting out of the sunless citadel was exciting - especially when they found that the goblins torched the vines leading down the pit before leaving the citadel, sort of a little revenge. Vivian somehow made it up with tough climb checks, got a rope down, and they all made it... except the amazingly clumsy Connor, who not only failed his initial check and crashed down, waking up the bugbear in the north room, but then failed again, grabbed hold of the rope as he was falling, had the bugbear grab hold of his foot as the rest of the party was hoisting him up... lost a perfectly good boot to a very annoyed and frustrated Bugbear.

Then they spent ages in Oakhurst before deciding to finally go ahead to Hommlet. And met Poog, Gaddo and Feshu (Ettin and pets, Ogre and Bugbear) about a mile before they hit town. Call it an "introductory encounter".

Now, it was the first time I ever DMed the effects of AoO AND long reach for a deadly critter... The highly intelligent Poog (INT 8) decided to run away after being brought down to 7 HP, and the party was left with only the wizard standing. Rather ugly. I thought it would be easier. At least two of them (Vivian and Semaj) are level four now, which will be useful for Utreshimon...

Cordo Crowfoot
Here to stay
(4/14/03 7:47 pm)
Re: Log, session I
I would try to get them all up to level 4 with some additional encounters before putting them up against Utreshimon.

Maybe some easy ones after almost all dying to Belak, and then again to the Ettin. :)

"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

Looking around
(4/14/03 8:05 pm)
Re: Log, session I
With Big U, don't make the same mistake I did. The Hover is a move action, then a free action once initiated as long as he's in the air.

Looking around
(4/14/03 9:48 pm)
Cordo: Yes, you are probably right :) I was planning on throwing some random monsters at them on the way to the moathouse, just enough so they level up... although I suspect they will gain enough just role playing in Hommlet.

JRGiant: Oops. Thank you! I didnt realize that :D That does make U quite a bit deadlier huh?

Btw, if anybody cares, I have just set up the initial web page for the party. Nothing interesting in it at this point, except if anybody is looking for a tie-in from sunless citadel to RttToEE, in which case a potentially useful handout is posted on the site (a letter found on Belak's body).

Looking around
(4/27/03 10:31 pm)
Re: Log, Session II
A short session today, only four hours after three of our players got stuck (together) on their way due to car trouble. Still, it was a lot of fun.

The session opened with Poog running away, quickly followed by a barrage of arrows. One got stuck in his butt as, with a final yelp, he disappeared into the wood. A group of ten militia men from Hommlet appeared on the scene, led by Elmo's second in command and a cleric of Helm. The former expressed his sorrow for the misfortune of these new travelers as well as his gratitude for eliminating Gaddo and Feshu. Apparently, Poog and his pets have been terrorizing the neighboring areas for the past two months, and the militia has been trying to find and get rid of them, to no avail.

The cleric of Helm recognized Connor's holy symbol, and quickly healed him; then, upon hearing about his exhaustion, he utilized the rest of his divinations to revive the rest of the party. The militia men cleared the bodies of the Ogre and Bugbear, and left the party with word that Elmo, the militia captain, would be interested in seeing them at the Inn of the Welcome Wench later that night.

Exhausted but alive, the party arrives at the welcome wench, and are greeted warmly by Vesta. News do travel fast in this tight community it seems. The group rents a suite, and then sits down to have dinner.

An hour later, Elmo comes into the bar. He joins the party and enquired about their business in Hommlet. After all, such a well equipped and obviously skilled group (evident by their not having been slain by Poog and his troupe) does not show up that often. A conversation ensues, wherein Elmo explains the history of Hommlet and the temple, while the party shares with him the letter found on the body of Belak.

Later on, Calmer comes in and goes directly to Elmo, who seems bemused. Calmer urges Elmo to come and visit with Y'Dey at once; she has heard some distressing news. Elmo refuses, and Calmer goes away in a huff. Conversation resumes only to be interrupted again by Y'Dey herself coming to the inn. Elmo at this point is visibly shocked, as Y'Dey joins the conversation and mentions some sightings of men wearing ochre-colored robes on the road to the old moathouse. An exchange takes place in which the party hears many names and learns much of the relationship between Elmo and Y'Dey. Once Y'Dey leaves, Elmo also excuses himself, and the party goes to sleep slightly confused and with many new leads.

The group spends the next day at various temples (Connor and Semaj), gathering information (the rest), and attempting to find a buyer for Jozanislav's magical shield (+1 of Arrow Deflection). They eventually come upon Joman Dart, who, after offering them 800 gold and almost getting away with it, agrees to introduce them to someone who might be able to help for a mere 5% cut of the deal. Once they agree, he takes them back to a backroom in the trading post where a colleague from Verbobonc was just concluding some business. In the negotiations that ensue, the shield is traded for a masterwork mighty composite longbow for Semaj, a masterwork steel shield for Jozanislav, and 3000 GP. They also utilize the trader's services to identify their wand of entangle. As they leave the store (minus the 200 GP cut to a very happy Joman), they decide to to go to Spugnior's, where they were told they could get some potions.

Meeting Renne and hearing her story convinces them that the moathouse is the way to go. Thus, the decision is made to go there the following morning.

The following morning they get ready and leave towards the moathouse. Three miles down the road they meet and old friend. Poog. Larger and more grinning than ever. Melee starts, and Poog swipes poor Vivian off her feet with his two clubs almost immediately. Poog hits Jozanislav to within 2 HP of his life. Desperation sets in; they are truly afraid of this guy. It is Polgara's turn next.

She raises her hands to cast a magic missile, as she has done so many times in the past. Then, her voice suddenly gets loud, as she shouts "die, scum, die!". Her ring starts pulsing with a white light, which trails the magic missile as it leaves her hands. The light engulfs her and when the missile hits, Poog as well. It pulses faster and becomes brighter and brighter. Their figures become hard to see. And then, suddenly, the light disappears, and with it both Poog and Polgara, as if they were never there.

The party, somewhat shellshocked from this development, press on, discussing this mysterious event. As they walk, they are attacked by three dire badgers. Normally an easy fight, but being somewhat dispirited, they find it difficult to hit; as the badgers lay dead, Connor and Semaj find they have utilized all their healing spells for the day, and the party decides to head back to Hommlet, and try again tomorrow.

On their way, they stop at the temple to Lathander and arrange an interview with Y'Dey for the morning. They arrive back at the inn, and Sinjin is informed that a note is waiting for him at the bar. Also, Vesta indicated Chatrilon to the party, knowing that they have been looking for him the past two nights. As Semaj talks to Chatrilon (who insists nothing is at the moathouse), Sinjin comes back and informs the group that he has received a calling from his home, and that he is duty-bound to leave. Connor is dumb-founded; he mutters an oath under his breath, and swears "and so the fellowship is broken!". For a moment, they are all silent, only to be interrupted by a boor of a man yelling loudly at Meridosen to give him more ale. The men turns out to be Xaod.

We leave the party dealing with the sudden parting of its two arcane spellcasters, attempting to speak to Xaod and Chatrilon before they go to meet Y'Dey and head for the moathouse again.
Sinjin and Polgara's players had to leave the party due to RL commitments. I set it up with each of them that they will leave during this session, unbeknownst to the party. It was quite shocking to everyone, and thus a great success. A great part was the surprise Sinjin and Polgara's players evidenced; neither of them knew of the other's plans to leave.

Semaj picked up a cleric level as his level 4, so he is now rgr3/clr1.

I do want to note that I picked up the part about Elmo & Y'Dey from Matt Haffner - the journal on his site ( is a fantastic source of material IMHO on how to run the game. I changed it a bit to fit my campaign and the way I wanted to present the characters, but it was brilliant and very inspiring.

Of course, we are now faced with a lack of an arcane spellcaster in the party. Anyone knows of a player from the San Francisco bay area who might be interested? We play every second sunday, five-six hours each session, so its not a heavy load. Oh, what am I saying? all your players have already played RttToEE :\

Looking around
(5/11/03 9:07 pm)
Re: Log, Session III
Good session tonight, lots accomplished, and very nearly the first character death.

We left the party last time at the welcome wench, trying to talk to Chatrilon and Xaod, with Sinjin leaving to go to his homeland. As we come back to the scene, everyone just seems tired and want to go to sleep.

As Connor leaves Xaod, he raises his cup of ale to his lips one last time and falls to the ground, unconscious, snoring loudly. Chatrlion, however, tries to stop Vivian and Jozanislav from leaving. Semaj comes back to see what the delay is, only to have Chatrilon change tack suddenly and instead of trying to convince them the place is empty, he tries to join the party for their trip to the moathouse. Semaj grows suspicious, tries to sense Chatrilon's real motive, and gets the idea that he is hiding something. Chat claims he could be useful and is only asking for treasure. To prove his point - in a sense - he produces Semaj's purse that he has pilfered just minutes earlier. Semaj, disgusted, decides to leave and Chat finally gets him to agree that they will talk again in the morning.

In the meantime, Connor approaches a couple that have been staring at the scene from the back of the common room. A conversation ensues, which results in two new members of the party:

Wade the outcast - a 3rd level human sorcerer. Wade comes from a long line of fighters, having had to leave his family once his unusual talent was discovered.
Eloen - a 3rd level half-elf wizard. Eloen is seeking to prove herself in a world that has shown her little love.

And everyone goes to sleep.

At dawn, the party comes down to find the common room almost empty. As they prepare to go to Y'Dey for their scheduled appointment, they spot Xaod coming down the stairs, hands over his temples, moaning in pain. They sit down with him as Vesta brings him a herbal remedy for his hangover. They talk and find out about his vision, and his interest is piqued when he hears about their plans. They agree to meet again two hours later in the inn to go together to the moathouse. Chat is nowehere to be found.

They go to visit Y'Dey. Calmer greets them and after making sure of their intentions, he lets them in. They speak to Y'Dey and learn a bit about Lareth and the moathouse history. They also find out about Otis as the source of tension between her and Elmo. Finally, as they are about to leave, Eloen asks whether Y'Dey can give them a map of the moathouse. Y'Dey asks Calmer to look, and a few minutes later he comes back with a rough sketch of the upper level.

Back at the inn, Xaod is gone. Through Vesta they find out that he has gone ahead of them - with a couple bottles to boot. They do find Chat in the inn this time, but he fails to impress them any more than before and they leave him behind.

A few miles on the road to the moathouse they encounter Delian. His story of the dragon sounds suspicious to Vivian, and at least a little unreliable to the rest of the party. As they are talking, Xaod comes crashing through the woods, crashing two empty bottles together as he stumbles towards them in a drunken stupor, boasting that he "wants to go first!". Semaj points back towards Hommlet and tells him "sure, go ahead, we'll see you there". As Xaod rushes down the road, the party quickly bids farewell to Delian and starts in the opposite direction.

They come upon the moathouse. Vivian sneaks into the courtyard and tower, to find nothing there. Cautiously, the party enters the courtyard, waiting for the Dragon... but nothing happens. They relax. Spreading out, they peer from the courtyard through the arrow slits, to gain little useful information. They then gather back in the center of the courtyard, planning to go up the stairs... which Vivian promptly starts about doing. Or at least, tries to do.

Suddenly, out of the far back of the moathouse, a blue dragon rises with a shriek and swoops straight towards them. Utershimon catches most of them by surprise. He fires a lightning bolt, catching Vivian, Wade and Connor in its path. Vivian manages to dodge, and Connor manages his reflex save for half damage. Wade is not as lucky, as he is brought down by this surprise attack.

Throughout the fight that ensues, Utreshimon uses his hover ability judiciously to hack while he regains his breath, and the party desperately tries to find some way to keep everyone alive and moving. Most try to find refuge in various moathouse rooms, enraging the dragon even more. At some point, with Connor at only 1 HP, Utreshimon fries him with another bolt. He misses his save. His doom, it seems, is fated. I roll 6D8 for damage: 2. 3. 1. 1. 1... Connor's player looks up hopefully. Hope for him yet? I roll the last die. It comes up a 2. Total damage from the lightning bolt is 10. Connor isnt dead yet.

To make a long story short, Semaj and Wade carry the day, the former with a 19 HP attack using rapid shot, the latter with three 10HP (at 2d4+2) magic missiles. The party uses most of their potions, scrolls and all their heal spells as Utreshimon is slowly brought down to 8HP... and flees, leaving a very scared and exhausted party behind.

They got even more scared when I described the mace throbbing with an ochre light as Eloen picked it up... they still dont know what to make of it.

Checking a couple other rooms, they get to the southeast area. Vivian gets jumped by the Ooze, and loses her studded leather armor and her dagger. They beat a hasty retreat, and Vivian dons the black studded leather found on the rogue in the lair, thanking Tymora once again for keeping her clothes unharmed.

They decide to camp for the night in one of the rooms. Of course, the sound of combat has not escaped the people below. During the night, Garrick and his six Gnolls come up to take positions in the lair. I roll the Gnolls listen check miserably, and the party makes it through the night safely. Neither group is aware of the other, not even after they wake up (both sides rolling horrid listen rolls).

The party gets out of the room and head out. As they hit the lair area, they come upon the Gnolls. Garrick, in particular, dishes out some heavy damage with his two-weapon combo, dropping (but not killing) vivian and connor before he is caught in a web and killed, and the Gnolls are dispatched.

And here the session ended. Next time - going into the moathouse lower levels.

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