Saturday, December 19, 2009

LFR - Sense of Wonder

12/19/09 - The Game Keep
Module CORE1-3: Nelanther Isles: Sense of Wonder (Low Difficulty)

Characters (from my group):
Rhogar (Bryan) - Level 3 Dragonborn Fighter (Great Weapon)
Voranna (Matt 1) - Level 3 Eladrin Ranger (Archer)
Lia (Misty) - Level 1 Eladrin Wizard
Also in the group: Another fighter, another wizard, and a cleric.

This module has been out for a while, but we missed it the first time. I still don't want to spoil much, but we got to help an annoying Gnome, and we went sailing.

The best part of this adventure was that almost everyone at the table was a Doctor Who fan, and the final battle was against a lot of robot-like enemies. So we were making a lot of Dalek/Cybermen references.

475 xp and 75 gp each. Voranna also took Bracers of Perfect Shot, Lia took a Cloak of Resistance +1, and Rhogar just took the additional gold reward of 50 gp. Voranna reached level 4.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Praktas - The Temple of Elemental Weevils

Game Date: 11/14/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
Tirah (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand Style)
Dorath (Bryan) - Goliath Fighter (Great Weapon Style)

This is another quest loosely based on one of my Itropa areas. The title is a parody of the well-known classic D&D module, "The Temple of Elemental Evil."

Bryan's Goliath fighter Dorath - who he had only run once for a practice game - came to visit, and invited our heroes to Fist's annual fighting tournament. It was a three day ride to Fist, riding along the base of a mountain range. On the second night, Damakos was woken up by the sound of someone gasping. He got up just in time to see a young man stumble out of the mountains, barely saying the words "Ultimate treasure..." before falling over dead at the tiefling's feet.

Of course Damakos looted him for all he was worth, and discovered some badly damaged journals. There was very little left that was legible. He found this bit of an entry:

As my grandfather gave me these notes, his dying words were “Don’t forget Rob”. Who is Rob? Am I supposed to meet someone named Rob? Or could he have meant “steal”? Was he asking me to steal something?

Even though it killed him, I am determined to pick up where my grandfather left off. I will find this “ultimate treasure” he spoke of.

(Yes, I know that's cheesy. Welcome to my campaign.)

The rest of the journal was written in a different handwriting. But since most of the pages were burnt, wet, or missing, these were the only snippets he could read:

(This is what it would have looked like if I'd had some parchment paper.)

There were also some crudely drawn maps, pointing to a mountain not far from their campsite. Damakos pocketed a small amount of the corpse's loot, then woke up the others and filled them in. They still decided to go to the fighting tournament first, but on their way back to Trasa, they followed the map.

The map led them to a cave. Once inside, the rough tunnel gradually became a fully-finished, marble-tiled, torch-lit passage. They passed a stable area, where a brown-robed man was tending to several horses. Tirah walked up and asked him a few questions. He wasn't much help, but at least he wasn't a threat - as far as he knew, our adventurers were supposed to be there.

The main hallway finally ended in a set of double doors. There was a magical light shaft nearby, which they determined to be a portal. However, this was the exit end, so they couldn't use it from this location.

Through the double doors, they entered a large temple. The basic layout was sort of bug-like, with rounded walls and six side passages. Four of the passages had color themes, and there was a large golden door at the head of the room. The temple was also full of robed people, each wearing one of four colored robes - red, brown, blue, or white. None of them seemed to care about the PCs.

(Come to think of it, it looks like a Spider-Tracer.)

On the golden door, instead of a door handle, it just had a small raised rectangle with four diamond-shaped indentations. The following poem was carved into the door, just above the rectangle:

Four sisters from the dawn of time,
They rule the world and always will.
The first she runs and never tires,
The second eats to comfort or kill.
The third she lies and carries all,
The fourth oft sings with breath so chill.
(I got this from an online page of riddles, which I altered to suit my needs.)

The PCs started to go down one of the colored passages, and one of the robed people ran up to them and stopped them. Looking at their pets, he asked, "Are those animals to be fed to the Weevil? Very good, but that door is only for the faithful." The players quickly realized they needed to get themselves some robes. So they explored the West passage (living quarters) but couldn't find an easy way to steal the robes they needed without risk.

(DM Secret: The cultists don't really "own" their robes; it's all communal property. They're also fairly easy-going unless threatened. If a cultist had caught a PC stealing his robe, he probably would have said, "Take it, my friend, I'll get another from the storage room.")

The PCs then checked out the East hall. There were two doors at the end of that hall. One was full of caged animals, as well as a young male half-orc (also caged). The half-orc begged them to set him free, because he was going to be "fed to the Weevil." They didn't release him yet, figuring it might get them into trouble, but they did plan to do so eventually.

The other door was the storage room. It was full of robes in five colors: red, blue, brown, white, and gold. They hadn't seen anyone in a gold robe so far, but they went ahead and took plenty of robes of all colors. The adventurers then donned the blue robes, and went down the blue hall.

The Temple of Water

They found themselves in another worship room, much smaller than the main temple. The room was chilly, and had a water/ice theme. The room was decorated with ice sculptures, and the walls were painted with images of oceans and sea life. There were a few blue-robed people sitting on pews, listening to another man who was preaching from behind a podium. Behind him, a young elven girl was tied up. When the PCs entered, the preacher thanked them for bringing more animals, because he wasn't sure the girl would be enough to feed the Weevil.

He allowed them to pass through the door behind him, having them take the elf girl with them. Once they were out of the preacher's sight, they untied the girl, but she was too scared to help them in battle.

They walked down some stairs. The room at the bottom was filled with water, waist-high. Towards the back of the room, there was a 3x3 pedestal, on which stood three pushable statues: An Elf, an Orc, and a Halfling. The room's exit was on the wall behind the pedestal, to the right. They remembered their clue: "The Orc is flanked, the Halfling readies his exit." They started pushing statues around, but were attacked by a pair of Water Elementals. The room's aquatic nature made it rough terrain, which made the battle all the more difficult, but they won in the end. Then they continued playing with the statues.

This turned out to be the answer:

Technically, there were two other combinations that fit the clues. But then, these are clues, not answers. Once they found the right order, the door opened. They also found a lever that drained the water in the room. They went down some more stairs, and found the Water Weevil.

This was another room with waist-high water. The players could only move half-speed, but the Weevil could skim the surface and move all over the room. He had several water-themed abilities, throwing tidal waves and jets of water at them. I personally found the Weevil battles to be a bit tedious. I think I gave them too many hit points.

Once it was dead, they found a diamond-shaped blue jewel in the Weevil's forehead, the same shape as the indentations in the gold door. They also found a nest in the room, which looked like it had once held some weevil eggs, but it was currently empty. The room also contained a yellow lightshaft, which they used to teleport themselves back outside the main temple's double doors.

They left the temple/cave and took a nice long rest outdoors. (DM Secret: If they'd stayed in the cultists' living quarters, they wouldn't have been attacked or anything. Still, someone might have made them put their animals in the West hall cages, and the pets might have been taken to be sacrificed while the PCs slept. So overall they probably made the right choice.) The elf girl left their party at this point, taking her chances with the road to Trasa. Now well-rested, the PCs decided to put on the white robes and tackle the white hallway.

The Temple of Air

The white temple's worship area was identical in layout to the blue temple. The only difference was the theme - instead of water and fish, the room was decorated with images of clouds and birds. Using the old "weevil food" ruse, the PCs managed to talk their way through the next door without incident, and soon found themselves on a windy ledge:

D=Door, G=Gargoyle, L=Lever

The PCs started on the left side of the room, "D". Beyond their 2x5 ledge, there was a 5-foot wide, 75-foot long bridge (that's 1x15 squares) leading to the opposite ledge. The floor (purple) was 30 feet down. Not a deadly drop, but damaging - and annoying. There was a ladder on the PCs' side, but not the opposite side. So if a PC fell off the ledge, they could still get back out, but only on the left side of the room.

The bridge was visibly divided into 5x5 square tiles. They remembered the clue: 3, 6, 8, 11, 15. They smartly surmised that since the bridge was 15 squares long, that the clue must be referring to tiles of the bridge. They not-so-smartly decided that these must be the "safe" squares. So they had Drew jump from the ledge to tile 3 on the bridge. He nailed his Athletics check, but as soon as he landed on the tile, it activated a mechanism, and some heavy winds started to blow. Drew made his saving throw, and remained on the bridge.

But that's when the gargoyles came to life. These annoying flyers had the ability to push or pull their enemies when they attacked. One of them also pulled the first lever, which made more winds blow. Dorath was the only one unlucky enough to get pulled off the ledge, and after the second time he just stayed at the bottom and threw weapons at the gargoyles above him.

Eventually they killed the gargoyles, and Drew made it across the bridge. Pulling the second lever deactivated all the tiles, allowing the other players to cross without jumping over the trap squares. They PCs went through the next door, and found the Air Weevil's room.

The light gray is the normal floor. The dark gray is 20 feet higher. The dark gray walls were covered with spikes, which could be used to climb up to the dark gray ledge. Of course, the PCs could also be blown into these spikes if the wind was high enough. There were four control levers, one on each wall, which could retract the spikes on that wall.

The wind had its own place in the initiative order, and would blow in a different direction each turn, pushing everyone (except the Weevil) one square. Of course, the Weevil could fly, and had a lot of wind-based attacks.

After the battle, they once again took the Weevil's forehead jewel, then left the temple and camped. Then they remembered the Half-Orc prisoner. They decided to check up on him, but he was no longer in his cell. So they split the party. Tirah, Damakos, and the animals went to the brown door, while Dorath and Drew went to the red door.

The Temple of Earth

Damakos and Tirah peeked into the Earth Temple worship room, just in time to see the Earth preacher pulling a chained-up Half-Orc through the back door. They quickly followed. Once through the door, Damakos decided to attack the cultist from behind, while Tirah went to get the rest of the party.

Damakos had no trouble taking him out. However, the clue for this area was "Noise awakens the..." Well, noise awakened the. Just as Tirah and the others were getting back, Damakos was attacked by a pair of Earth Elementals.

After defeating the Elementals, they easily followed the other clue: "Always left in the tunnels." The tunnel branched five times, and each time they took the left passage. Note, originally I was going to have them make stealth checks for each tunnel to see if they woke the Elementals. But since the Elementals were already dead, it didn't really matter.

The Earth Weevil was in a large cave room. Several of his attacks hit everyone in the room, such as earthquakes and cave-ins. After he was dead, they took the jewel, left the mountain and, rested. The Half-Orc left the party, and the PCs changed robes so they could hit the Fire Temple.

The Temple of Fire

This one was easy. After talking their way through the worship room, they found themselves in a tunnel with walls made of fire. At the end of the tunnel, there were two door-shaped areas of blue flame, one on the left, and one on the right. So they followed the clue (Right, Left, Left, Right, ?), and went right. The blue flames did no damage, and just felt like cool air. Wash, rinse, repeat, until the final tunnel, which just had a ? in the notes. They had a 50/50 chance, and they chose correctly, so they avoided fighting what would have been a pair of Fire Elementals.

The Fire Weevil used a lot of poison-based attacks. No, wait, come to think of it, he used fire. The room itself also contained some fire traps, which would have shot bursts of flame from holes in the floor, but they quickly found the control mechanism and disarmed it.

Once the Weevil was toast, with all four colored gems in hand, the party rested and went to the Temple of Light.

The Temple of Light

The golden door required the four gems to be inserted in a specific order, the same order as the poem: Water, Fire, Earth, Air. They found the final temple's worship room, but it didn't look like it had been used in years. While the other four temples had elemental themes, this one seemed to have a theme of life, or possibly love. The cultists would have called it "The Temple of Light", but "light" might refer more to enlightenment than actual light.

Next, they found another puzzle room. There were three oval indentations in the door, and seven oval gemstones on a pedestal. The stones were in the colors of the rainbow - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Bryan figured it out instantly - it was a reference to the "Rob" clue. He put the Red, Orange, and Blue stones into the door, and it opened. (DM Secret: A wrong combination of gems would have triggered a trap, and possibly alerted some monsters.)

As they looked down the final hallway, they saw a strange sight: There was the final Weevil, but it was chained to the wall. There were several goblins taking the Weevil's eggs and placing them into a bag of holding. The PCs also noticed another shape in the farthest shadows of the room, but couldn't make it out at first.

The dark shape turned out to be a Drow. Once the battle began, he made a few hand signals, and four more Drow stepped out of the shadows.

Each Drow had a different specialty. Two were classic rapier/crossbow fighters, one of whom had an Onyx Dog companion. Another was an assassin, using 4e's "Assassin's Shroud" ability. Another was a female with a snake-headed whip. And finally there was a magic user, who could summon a spider companion. Of course, all of them had the Drow ability to use faerie fire (aka Darkfire; gives combat advantage against a target) and to create areas of magical darkness.

The PCs showed some great teamwork and strategy. Damakos started off by undoing the weevil's chains, while the rest of the group concentrated on the goblin minions. Once free, the Weevil spread its wings, grabbed one of the Drow, and flew off down the hallway carrying its prey.

Then a strange thing happened - one of the Drow fighters started choking. He stumbled past Damakos, tugging at the neckline of his chainmail, provoking an attack of opportunity. A hole appeared in the chest of the Drow's chainmail. The chain weave opened on its own, leaving a direct path to the Drow's heart. Damakos made his opportunity attack, and killed the Drow instantly.

This still left three Drow, and they were tough opponents, so the battle still lasted a while. The final Drow was the magic user, who escaped through a magic portal. After the battle, while looting the corpses, Drew suddenly felt a strange calling. He was compelled to examine the Drow who choked. Drew could feel a connection with the Drow's armor - it wanted Drew to put it on. As Drew put on his new chainmail, he felt a presence. He felt more honorable, but also more bloodthirsty. He was itching to find more evil to vanquish.

The next door led to the treasure room. Well, the room formerly known as the treasure room, as all the treasure chests were empty.

Okay, they didn't tie me up, but there was some grumbling. But really, am I actually going to give "ultimate treasure" to a 4th-level party?

There were two more doors in the treasure room. One was just a storage room, but the other had several goblins and an orc playing cards. Drew went into a frenzy, his chainmail filling him with hatred towards the orc. They left one goblin alive so they could ask him about the treasure.

The goblin explained that the Drow had taken the treasure back to the Underdark, years ago. When the Drow first discovered the Weevil cult, they took over the Temple of Light, never letting the other temples know there were Drow in their midst. Since then, they've been farming Weevil eggs so that they could build their own army of Weevils. They kept the other temples going because it was in their best interests - with the cultists taking care of the Weevils, all the Drow had to do was sit back and collect the eggs.

Disappointed, but not completely empty-handed, the party returned to Trasa and did a little more research on Drew's new armor. It is the "Invulnerable Coat of Arnd" (DMG p. 170), a major artifact. It is infused with the will of an honorable cleric, who died long ago defending his town from attack.

Whether the armor will continue to consider Drew worthy to wear it, will depend on Drew's actions. It already betrayed its former master, but of course the artifact would hate to be used by such an evil creature. Drew could very well find his own neck in peril if he commits dishonorable acts while wearing the armor. Hopefully he will remember this... but it will be more entertaining if he doesn't. ;)

XP Rewards:
Note: I'm counting the party as 7 for the Earth Temple, since the Half'-Orc fought. But I'm not counting the Elven girl in the Water Temple, because she just cowered in the corner the whole time.
Water Temple - Statue Puzzle/Elementals - 300/6=50
Water Weevil - 500/6=83
Air Temple Puzzle/Gargoyles - 300/6=50
Air Weevil - 500/6=83
Earth Temple Puzzle/Elementals - 300/7=43
Earth Weevil - 500/7=71
Fire Temple Puzzle - 300/6=50
Fire Weevil - 500/6=83
Life Temple Puzzle ("ROB") - 300/6=50
Drow/Goblins Encounter - 800/6=133
Quest Completion - 1000/4=250

Total Session Reward - 948 Each

And everyone gained a level:
Dorath 360+948=1308 (Level 2)
Drew 4959+948=5907 (Level 5)
Tirah 2944+948=3892 (Level 4)
Damakos 4734+948=5682 (Level 5)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hogsmeade - The Village of Hommlet (Part 1)

Game Date 11/7/09

Kuna Serpentooth (Matt) - Level 4 Dragonborn Fighter
Gar (Bryan) - Level 4 Shifter (Longtooth) Ranger (2 Weapon)

NPC Companions:
Furnok - Dwarf Bolter
Terjon - Priest of Pelor
Spugnois - Tiefling Heretic

We didn't have a full group, and we were mainly in the mood to let Misty practice her DM skills. So Bryan and I rolled up a couple of level 4 characters. We gave each character 500 gold, one +1 armor, and one +1 weapon. We started on "The Village of Hommlet", a module we received free in the mail for being registered DMs. This module involves the town near the legendary Temple of Elemental Evil, and was written as a prelude to the eventual 4e re-release of ToEE. It's not a full module so much as a mini campaign setting, telling all the details of the town, with a few short quests.

Upon arriving at Hommlet, Kuna and Gar poked around town for a bit, looking for jobs. We met several interesting townsfolk, before we were hired to examine a nearby moat house rumored to be full of bandits. On our way to the moat house we were attacked by giant frogs, which had the ability to swallow us. We each spent half the battle inside the gullets of frogs. And I thought they smelled bad on the outside. On the plus side, Gar found a magic sword in their pond.

At that point we knew we wouldn't be able to tackle the moat house alone, so we headed back to town to rest up and hire some sidekicks. We got three takers, and the five of us headed back to the moat house to kick some bandit butt.

We fought a fairly large battle - 9 bandit archers, 2 bandits, 1 bandit leader, and a drake. But most of the enemies were low level and easily dispatched, so we survived. Afterwards, we explored until we found all possible treasure. We found a set of stairs leading to a lower level, which Gar discovered was full of more enemies. However, we didn't have time for another battle, so we went back to town with plans to return soon.

Since this session was just for practice anyway, we may or may not make that return trip. If we end up in the exact same situation again - where Rick is the only one who can't make it - it's a definite possibility.

XP Rewards:
Frogs - 800/2=400
Moathouse - 879/5=175
Total 575, bringing us up to 4325.

Other Rewards:
Various Gold, Silver, and Platinum (and an ivory box) totaling about 87 gp, which came to about 17 gp per party member.
Frost Longsword +2 (Gar)
Cloak of Resistance +2 (Kuna)

LFR - The Icy Queen's Crossing

11/07/09 - The Game Keep
Module WEEK1-4: The Icy Queen's Crossing (Weekend in the Realms)

Rhogar (Bryan) - Dragonborn Fighter (Great Weapon)
Voranna (Matt) - Eladrin Ranger (Archer)
Mindartis - Eladrin Warlord
"Mr. T" - Elf Wizard

This game was a "Weekend in the Realms" adventure, which gave us the option of using pre-generated characters instead of our own. Since we'd already been-there-done-that last time (Worldwide Gameday), and hadn't gotten to play our own characters in a while, we opted to use Rhogar and Voranna.

It was a very fun game. We'd played with Mindartis the Warlord once before (7/25/09 "Silent Streets and Vanished Souls"), so we already knew what to expect. Once again, he wowed us with his excellent battle strategy. Even though there were just four of us, it was a well-balanced party, and we never really got into too much trouble.

It was really funny because because none of the DM's minis had anything to do with the monsters being used. That's not unusual in itself, but the specific minis being used were Undead Orcs and Rust Monsters. Our final battle was against a Wyrmling that looked suspiciously like a rust monster.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tantris - Session 9 (Final)

Game Date 10/10/09
Rolan Daan (Bryan) - Elf Rogue
Rhogar Burnscale (Rick) - Dragonborn Fighter
Nara Cavell (Matt) - Human Cleric of Pelor
Lia Moon (Misty) - Elf Wizard

Nara's Journal:
I have been given the opportunity to serve Pelor in many new ways. Soon I will leave Tantris, bound for other lands, representing my temple on a variety of missions of mercy. It's funny, just a few months ago I was satisfied with my life in the temple, doing minor tasks for the honor of serving my god. But now that I've seen the world, I find the temple stifling.

I appreciate the simple life I was given. I have nothing but the highest love for the priests who took me in as a poor orphan, and turned me into the loyal servant of Pelor I am today. But I have outgrown those temple walls, and I must find grander ways to serve my god. I can no longer be contained; I must see what else is out there. I wish to spread the Light to other places - darker places where I am needed more.

I will miss my companions.
Lia, my newest friend... still learning of your potential, I regret I won't be around to discover it with you. There is no question that you are destined for something special, and I can't wait to learn what Mystra has in store for you.

Rolan... your tongue is ever-deceptive, but I believe your heart is pure. You have been called both thief and hero, but
whichever side of the law you happen to be on at the time, you will always be my friend. If you ever overcome the darkness in your soul, I know you will do great things.

And I'll miss you most of all, Rhogar! You are truly the bravest of us, always willing to stand between us and danger, without a thought to your own safety. Truly, your courage has saved our lives many times.

May the light of Pelor... and the blessings of Mystra... continue to shine on all of us.

- Nara

We had originally intended our final session to be a one-shot high-level slugfest using new characters. But with a shortened schedule, we also had the option of running one last session with our regular characters instead. We took a vote, and decided to go with the latter.

Recap - Last time, Rolan finally severed his ties with the Dark Fang Guild, and we ran full speed back to Tantris, in fear of retribution.

We rode the horses hard all the way back to town, unfortunately running a couple of them to death. Upon arriving in town, we went our separate ways - Nara checked in with High Priest Josel, Lia looked into the local Wizard resources, and R&R went back to the seedy side of town to hunt for rumors. We asked around to find out if we were being pursued by the Dark Fang Guild, but didn't hear anything.

However, we did hear rumors about a kidnapping. Apparently a noblewoman had been captured by gypsies. Further details were difficult to find, as noble Lords tend to suppress the spread of such information.

In our last session, Lia encountered an avatar of Mystra, who hinted that something special was in store for her. Now, in the wealthy part of town, Lia searched for information. She asked anyone she could find, and scoured the libraries, learning whatever she could about her master Thordius, and "Silverfire" (a rare blessing of Mystra).

Through a bit of misunderstanding (or divine manipulation), Lia accidentally attended a meeting of the "Righteous Conspiracy", a group planning to radically change the political face of Tantris using any means necessary. After leaving (or rather escaping) the meeting, she went to rejoin our party. Soon after leaving the gates to the inner city, there was an explosion behind her. The official story involved a clumsy alchemist, but we suspected that to be false.

We reported to High Priest Josel, who believed the explosion to have been the will of Mystra. Later that night, Lia was studying in the library when she saw a shadow. It turned out to be an assassin, who threw a dagger at her before stepping through a portal. Lia and Nara went straight to Josel's quarters, which had been ransacked. They then went to find Aeron Cloudmore, the head Paladin. They found him with troubles of his own, in combat with an assassin. They quickly defeated the evil killer.

During the aftermath, Nara ran into Lord De Winter, an old friend of ours from a previous quest. It was his wife who had been kidnapped, and Nara offered to help. Nara and Lia needed to stay at the temple to help sort things out, so Lia sent a message to Rolan and Rhogar requesting they help De Winter.

R&R accompanied De Winter out of town to find the gypsy caravan. The three obliterated the gypsies and rescued the Lady De Winter. The Lord De Winter requested the presence of Rolan and Rhogar at his home, where they were given a generous reward.

Lia and Nara were sent to the temple of Mystra for more information. Afterwards, they encountered an enemy named Darkspell, but Lia's Silverfire manifested itself, allowing Lia to absorb Darkspell's attacks and redirect them in the form of a powerful blast of energy, disintegrating him.

Lia has learned some evil rumors about her master Thordius. She returns to his tutelage, but she plans to remove herself from his influence soon. She knows she has a rare gift from Mystra, and wishes to learn more about it.

Nara has been chosen to represent the Temple of Pelor on many future missions, which will give her the opportunity to visit other towns and perform good deeds in the name of Pelor.

Rhogar has learned of more pit fighting opportunities in Tantris. It remains to be seen whether he still finds this a fulfilling activity, or now desires more from life. And will Rolan continue to act as a pretty boy con artist, or did he prefer the title of hero? Only time will tell.

But for now, all of us go our separate ways. Perhaps one day the fates will conspire to bring us back together, but that's a tale for another time.

Note: This was the final Tantris session, as Matt2 is preparing to move out of state. From here on I will stop with the Matt1/Matt2 thing, unless another Matt joins our group.

XP Rewards:
Rhogar - 650 XP (100+250+300) - Total XP now 2849 (Level 3)
Rolan - 620 XP (100+220+300) - Total XP now 2938 (Level 3)
Nara - 600 XP (100+200+300) - Total XP now 2828 (Level 3)
Lia - 650 XP (100+250+300) - Total XP now 1120 (Level 2)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hogsmeade - A Cautious Start...

Game Date 10/3/09

Trask Razorwing (Bryan) - Dragonborn Paladin (Defending Style)
Barakas (Rick) - Tiefling Bard (Virtue of Cunning)
Lynnia Krynn (Matt) - Half-Elf Warlock (Fey Pact)

Misty is learning to DM, and we are more than happy to be her guinea pigs. For our first session, she is starting with a small adventure from the Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying Game Starter Set. We only managed to get through the first two encounters before it got too late to continue. Being low on healing surges, we went back to town, and will hopefully resume the adventure at a later date.

All three of us are playing classes we've never played before. And oddly, all three of us are playing Charisma-based characters. Trask is going to be the tank, and the rest of us will be ranged support. We're not very tough so far, but on the plus side, all three of us have at least one healing spell. Nevertheless, we all have a lot of learning to do before we're an effective party.

But we're having fun, and that's what counts.

XP Rewards:
Encounter 1 - 500/3= 167
Encounter 2 - 550/3= 183
Total - 350 each

Praktas - Violence, Robots, and Lust

Game Date: 10/3/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
Tirah (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand Style)

I'm still working on the next actual plot/dungeon adventure. But for this session, I just had them go through three bounties:

Bounty 1: Throk One-Tusk

Throk is a large Half-Orc who was entrusted to guard the home of one of Trasa's wealthiest citizens. But first chance he got, he grabbed the most expensive item he could - a golden egg - and left town. There was an additional bonus if our bounty hunters could recover the missing egg.

(DM Secret: Why did I make it an egg? In my Itropa module for NeverWinter Nights, there is a quest where you are supposed to retrieve an item called the "Golden MacGuffin". In-game, the MacGuffin looked like a golden egg.)

Throk was last seen in the town of Fist, and another guild member offered to teleport the party there. Built in the mountains, Fist is a very brutish town, where might equals right and the weak seldom survive. Their economy is almost entirely built around their arena. Anyone defeated in the arena becomes the slave of the victor (for various amounts of time), so most labor in Fist is done for free.

Since escaping to Fist, Throk had made a fairly big name for himself as an arena fighter, but he practically lived in his fighting cell. The only way the players found to see him was to enter the next fighting tournament. In order to maximize the chances that at least one of them would reach and defeat Throk, all three players entered the tournament. The tourney had 16 fighters, which meant 4 rounds total. The first two rounds were in the morning, and were fairly easy battles. Then there was a six-hour break, so that everyone could get an extended rest, making the final three fights that much more exciting.

After the break, the first match of round three was Drew vs Damakos. This was a good, long battle, but Drew eventually won. The next match was Throk vs Tirah. I fully expected Throk to win this one, and go on to face Drew. Low-level wizards don't usually fare well in one-on-one battles against melee monsters. But to my surprise, Tirah defeated Throk, and he was hers to command.

Of course, Tirah and Drew still had to face each other. They considered just "play fighting", but there was an additional 200 gp prize for the tournament winner, so they fought. Drew won. Since Throk was officially property of Tirah, she ordered him to take her to his cell, where the bounty hunters found the missing egg.

Bounty 2: Alas Mek

Mek was once a highly-respected wizard in the town of Alta. Until one day he was in a horrible accident, which nearly destroyed his body. The other wizards transferred his mind into the body of an Iron Golem. Unfortunately, they didn't realize that this Golem was already inhabited by an evil spirit, and the two minds fought for control of the body. The Golem went on a mindless rampage, finally leaving Alta and heading off into the forest.

Getting to Alta meant buying horses, so now each character owns a horse. Once in Alta, they found it to be a rather snooty town, full of wealthy snobs who looked down on poorly-dressed out-of-towners.

Mek left an easy-to-follow trail, and our heroes found him pretty quickly. They had been given instructions for driving the evil spirit out of the Golem, but of course they had to tire him out first. After the fight, Mek's mind returned to normal, and they led him back to Alta to claim their reward.

Bounty 3: Victoria Vixen

As long as they were in Alta, they stopped by the Guardsman's Guild to look for work. They spoke to Captain Horn, who needed help looking for a con artist. Victoria Vixen had made a living by seducing wealthy men and stealing their life savings. However, no one could prove anything, and the guards sent to investigate had come back with empty pockets and missing memories.

Captain Horn knew exactly where Victoria was - she had taken over a nearby mansion, having charmed the original owner, who had since disappeared. Horn sent a female member of the Alta Guard - Helena Klash - to accompany our heroes. They sent her in first, while Damakos watched through the windows. Unfortunately, the servant who answered the door led Klash into a room that couldn't be seen from the outside.

Damakos continued to peek into each of the mansion's windows, and saw a few servants working in the kitchen, but the rooms they really wanted to see didn't have windows. Damakos then snuck inside and kidnapped a servant, and found her to be under a charm spell. Finally the party decided to all sneak into the house together, and search the remaining rooms. They finally found Victoria in the master bedroom, along with two charmed servants and the newly-charmed Helena Klash.

Victoria fought by using short-term charm spells. She would blow a kiss (CHA vs Will), and her target would attack one of their own allies. Once in melee range, she kissed one of the characters on the lips, causing him to burn an encounter power on a teammate. When she was bloodied, she revealed her true form - a winged succubus. In this form, she still had access to her charm spells, as well as a few fire-related abilities.

When she was finally defeated, the succubus vanished through a planar gate, unable to return for 100 years. With her gone, all her charmed subjects returned to normal.

XP Rewards:
Drew Baker
Tournament Round 1 (vs Brax "The Axe" Clovenhoof) - 125/2=62
Tournament Round 2 (vs Killian Krag) - 150/2=75
Tournament Round 3 (vs Damakos Redhorn) - 175
Tournament Round 4 (vs Tirah) - 150/2=75
Throk One-Tusk (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Alas Mek (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Alas Mek (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Victoria Vixen (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Victoria Vixen (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Total XP: 767 (Total now 4959)

Damakos Redhorn
Tournament Round 1 (vs Kren Starblaze) - 125/2=62
Tournament Round 2 (vs Tarn Gulag) - 150/2=75
Tournament Round 3 (Lost to Drew Baker) - 25
Throk One-Tusk (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Alas Mek (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Alas Mek (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Victoria Vixen (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Victoria Vixen (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Total XP: 542 (Total now 4734)

Tournament Round 1 (vs Mordik Morte) - 125/2=62
Tournament Round 2 (vs Skar Redscale) - 150/2=75
Tournament Round 3 (vs Throk One-Tusk) - 250/2=125
Tournament Round 4 (Lost to Drew Baker) - 25/2=12
Throk One-Tusk (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Alas Mek (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Alas Mek (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Victoria Vixen (Encounter) - 200/5=40
Victoria Vixen (Bounty/Story) - 300/3=100
Total XP: 654 (Total now 2944)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Praktas - The Horrors of Arachna Island

Game Date: 9/19/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
Tira (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand style)

Matt2 was unable to make it, so I DMed a Praktas game. To recap: All three characters had just completed the six-week training course at the Bounty Hunter Guild. Drew and Damakos were still holding on to a treasure map they'd picked up during a previous adventure. Tirah, who had joined the BH guild on credit, wanted to earn her 4000 admission fee as quickly as possible. So, they had to decide between taking some bounties, or going after the treasure. They decided to get a couple of bounties out of the way, then try the treasure. I gave them four bounties to choose from.

Bounty 1: Skyrene Linnealinae

Skyrene is an Elven archer, who loves animals more than people. She hates to see animals hunted for food, or kept in captivity. She started small - letting cows and other farm animals loose, much to the annoyance of Trasa's local farmers. Then she took it a step further, by declaring herself the protector of Koramil Forest, and killing any hunters who ventured into the woods.

Our trio of adventurers (plus 2 pets) began exploring the forest, looking for tracks and trying to look like hunters. They finally came upon a deer, and fired an arrow at it. This caused them to be attacked by Skyrene, who had been following them for quite some time.

At first the battle looked pretty one-sided, five against one. But then Skyrene let loose with a loud combination of animal calls, causing a cougar to run out of the forest to her side, and causing the PCs' pets to turn against their masters. Now it was three against four, and none of the PCs wanted to harm their own pets.

But they concentrated their attacks on Skyrene, and once she went down, the pets returned to normal, and the cougar ran off into the woods. Drew and Damakos allowed Tirah to have their share of the bounty, which she put towards her debt.

Bounty 2: Jeska Spartan

Jeska's real name was Jessiana Cole, and she was once an exceptional student at the ABC (Alta Bardic College). One night a dorm party got out of control, and she was expelled for lewd behavior. She then tried to set the college on fire, and fled town to avoid arrest. She ended up in Trasa, where she started using the stage name Jeska Spartan, and formed a music group called Purple Mildew. The group was actually getting fairly popular until an audience member - a citizen of Alta on vacation - recognized her. The entire band went in to hiding soon after.

This bounty had the PCs going all over town. First they headed over to the Pleasure Palace, Trasa's sleaziest club, where Purple Mildew had been known to play. The owner, Errol Gold, gave them the address of Jeska's apartment. They also tried to access some records at Trasa's town hall, but the clerk wouldn't help them for privacy reasons. (DM Secret: While the clerk was immune to intimidation - there were guards all over the building, after all - he probably would have responded to a large bribe. Granted, there's only so much money you want to spend on a bounty hunter quest, if you want it to be profitable.)

Jeska's apartment was empty, but the landlady pointed them in the direction the flute player's house. His house was also empty except for a bum, who told them where the drummer lives. They finally found the entire band at the drummer's apartment. All four band members had bard-like powers. In addition to a headache-inducing sonic wail, Jeska could sing various songs that harmed or hindered all her enemies at once. As long as the other three band members continued playing their instruments, Jeska was harder to hurt (+2 to all defenses for each band member playing).

The PCs took out the band members one at a time, since their music made Jeska harder to hit. Once they were all down, Jeska continued fighting until she was bloodied, and then she surrendered. (DM Secret: While it was harder to defeat Jeska while the others performed, if they had taken out Jeska first, the other three would have surrendered. After all, there was no bounty on their heads, so they had little incentive to protect her.) Once again, Drew and Damakos contributed their shares to Tirah's debt.

Arachna Island

So now they decided it was time for a big score. They went to see their old friend, Captain Jarren, and showed him the treasure map. The fisherman agreed to take them, for a fee, but refused to accompany them ashore this time. He gave the PCs a means to contact him when they were ready to leave, and dropped them off on the shore of Arachna Island.

The adventurers followed the map, which led them near a village inhabited by lizardfolk. They soon found themselves surrounded by the villagers, who wore spider-shaped symbols on their primitive clothing. Tirah spoke their language, and attempted to talk to them. The lizardfolk declared that the invaders would be sacrificed to "the eight-legs", and battle ensued. Once the reptilian attackers were defeated, the PCs continued to follow the map.

The map led them to a cave. The entrance was guarded by two more lizardfolk, but it wasn't a long battle. The cave itself was full of large spiders. The tunnel finally ended in a tomb, containing web-covered sarcophagi. Before they could investigate much further, they were attacked by a pair of incredibly huge spiders, whose bites gave the PCs ongoing poison damage.

Once the spiders were defeated, the adventurers looted the place. They found a chest full of gold, and one sarcophagus held the corpse of a long-dead lizardfolk chieftain, who was wearing several pieces of enchanted clothing. Not any more.

They also found a scroll written in Draconic, which detailed the life of the Chief Athriss, considered to be the greatest leader that tribe had known. Before Athriss, the lizardfolk had lived in fear of the giant spiders, who would occasionally wander into town and eat a villager or two. Athriss convinced the tribe to worship the spiders, sacrificing their sick and infirm to the creatures, which left the spiders with no need to leave their cave for food. It was rumored that Athriss could even speak to the giant arachnids.

One of the more notable pieces of equipment they found on the corpse was a Gem of Colloquy, which allows the bearer to speak Abyssal. As it turns out the spiders were actually demons, and the gem had allowed Athriss to deal with them. Tirah now wears the gem.

The PCs then called Captain Jarran, and headed back to the shore. Once on the ship, they saw something strange on the shore. A lizardfolk shaman came running out of the woods, and started casting a spell. The skies darkened, and it started storming. The PCs saw a large underwater shape heading towards the ship. Everyone headed inside, taking refuge in the galley. The ship rocked and shook until it capsized. Everyone on board was knocked unconscious.

They woke up to find the ship in ruins. Several of the generic crew members were dead, and the survivors were badly injured. Venturing off the ship, they found that they were in some sort of odd cave. Soon they realized that they were actually inside a giant sea monster. They grabbed some supplies and headed down the tunnel, until they found the mouth. Captain Jarran supplied everyone with some potions that allowed underwater breathing, and one of the PCs stabbed the leviathan's tongue, causing it to open its giant maw. Once they'd been expelled from the creature, the watched the giant sea monster swim off at an incredible speed.

Eventually they made to a shore, minus two more crew members. They didn't recognize this island, so they explored it, finding nothing of value. Drew and Damakos each had two scrolls of recall, which could have transported them back to Trasa, but they didn't want to waste them just yet. They could still see Arachna Island off in the distance, and they decided to build a raft and travel there.

They explored every inch of Arachna Island, but it was now empty. They found a dock, and determined that the remaining lizardfolk had probably evacuated. (DM Secret: After discovering the villagers the PCs had killed... then finding that their spider gods were dead... then seeing the sea monster flee the area... the remaining lizardfolk decided that the island was now cursed, and set sail for a new place to start a village.)

Since they couldn't find anything useful on the island, they used some of Jarran's potions to explore under the water around the island. Finally they discovered a large underwater cave, and climbed out of the water to find a large empty cavern. (DM Secret: The underwater part of the cave is where the sea monster slept when waiting to be summoned.) Here they discovered gigantic black obelisk, filled with writing in Abyssal. Tirah spent a few hours studying the obelisk, until she found a way to use it to teleport everyone back to Trasa.

(DM Secrets: There were actually several ways they could have gotten off the island. If Captain Jarran had seen their scrolls of recall, he would have offered to buy them for several times the scrolls' value, then picked up the remaining castaways later in a friend's ship. But Drew and Damakos intentionally kept the scrolls hidden from Jarran's view.

If the players had decided to go ahead and use the scrolls on themselves without sharing, Jarran would have given them directions to hand to another sea captain who owed Jarran a favor.

If they had decided to just take their raft out to sea, I would have strongly discouraged that course of action, but I wouldn't have killed them. They would have encountered more storms, and lost a few more redshirts (maybe even Captain Jarran and/or the pets), but they would have eventually been spotted by another fishing vessel.

The obelisk was originally going to be in a cave on the unnamed island where they washed ashore, but when we reached that point, I liked how the roleplay was going and wanted to prolong it a bit. The players were coming up with some interesting ideas, and I wanted to see what else came up.)

XP Rewards:
Skyrene: 300/5=60
Jeska and Her Band: 400/5=80
Lizardfolk: 900/5=180
Lizardfolk Guards: 400/5=80
Spiders: 300/5=60
Spider Boss: 850/5=170
Combat Total: 630 each.

General Roleplay and Problem Solving:
Drew and Damakos: 200 each.
Tirah: 300.

Drew Baker - 830, Total now 4192 (Level 4)
Damakos Redhorn - 830, Total now 4192 (Level 4)
Tirah - 930, Total now 2290 (Level 3)

LFR - Worldwide D&D Gameday

9/19/09 - The Game Keep

Xandross (Rick) - Level 6 Human Male Fighter
Holkarn (Bryan) - Level 6 Halfling Male Barbarian
Naivara (Matt) - Level 6 Eladrin Female Sword Mage
...and three others.

This was our first "Worldwide Game Day", and it was very interesting. We were given a choice of characters (we were allowed to use our own, but we didn't have any high enough level). The character sheets were pre-printed, full-color, 5.5" x 8.5" glossy dry-erase cards, with stats on the front, and powers on the back.



We were each given a mini, from the current "Player's Handook Heroes" series. We were allowed to keep both the card and the mini.

It was a confusing game. When you've never played a class before, the first game is always a learning experience. When you didn't even roll the character up yourself, then it's especially difficult to figure out which powers are best to use in which situations. And don't forget these characters are all level 6, so we had even more powers to look over.

There was very little plot this time, just 3 difficult battles with about 5 minutes of roleplay in between. That was kind of a blessing - you can't just hand me a character and expect me to know their personality off the bat.

I had been wanting to try out the Sword Mage class for a while, so I was glad for the opportunity. I don't think I'm going to play the class again any time soon, but at least now I know what I'm in for.

I will definitely be playing in the next Worldwide Game Day. Getting a free mini is a sweet deal, especially since I would have attended LFR anyway. It's a great way to try out classes I wouldn't normally try, and getting a preview of what they're like at level 6 is just icing on the cake.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tantris - Session 8

Game Date 9/12/09
Rolan Daan (Bryan) - Elf Rogue
Rhogar Burnscale (Rick) - Dragonborn Fighter
Nara Cavell (Matt) - Human Cleric of Pelor
Lia Moon (Misty) - Elf Wizard

Nara's Journal:
There is no time to write, as we're on the run. But in case we don't make it, I just wanted to take a moment to thank Pelor. I believe I can finally trust Rolan again.

- Nara

Recap - Nara is on a mission to locate a fortress in the mountains near Miner's Forge. Rolan has been accepted into the Dark Fang Guild, who would prefer Nara not find the fortress. Rolan has been leading Nara on wild goose chases ever since.

The session started by introducing Misty's new character, an Elven Wizard named Lia Moon. She is the apprentice to a Wizard named Thordius. We opened with her waiting on her master while he took care of some mysterious business in another wizard's tower. When he returned to Lia, the two of them teleported to Miner's Forge.

Meanwhile, in Miner's Forge, Nara was still stumped on what to do next. All her efforts at finding the fortress had been fruitless, at least as far as she knew. Finally she decided that they would stay for two more days, hiring more guides for more trails, then head back to Tantris to report.

While Nara posted the "Guide Wanted" notice on a bulletin board, Rolan met Thordius, who agreed to help him with the problem. When the party reunited, Rolan introduced Thordius as the new guide. Thordius teleported us to the top of a mountain, and we made our way down, taking as much advantage of the view as possible. No luck. We did find some gnolls, but it wasn't a difficult battle.

At one point during the trek, Thordius and Lia noticed a strange symbol on the side of the mountain, but they didn't mention it to the rest of the party. Nara saw them studying the spot, but couldn't tell what they'd seen.

And later, Thordius encountered an enemy of his, another mage who collects apprentices. The two fought, and Thordius won. Thordius later led us through a shortcut off the mountain, a tunnel which exited into a field.

Soon we met a travelling merchant named Won Lorn. We asked him about any strange nearby structures, and he did know of one, and offered to show us the way (much to the annoyance of Thordius). He scheduled a time to meet us in Miner's Forge, and our party returned to town.

Rolan tried to think of ways to sabotage our meeting with the merchant. He started sneaking around town, making his way towards the town entrance, but he was followed by Lia. When he finally noticed Lia, he returned to town. He invited Lia to join our party in the tavern. Earlier there had been a running gag about Lia being a heavy drinker, so Rhogar challenged Lia to a drinking contest.

While they were drinking, Rolan snuck out again, and went to speak to the town guards. Rolan tried to warn them about the merchant who would soon be traveling into town, claiming that the merchant wasn't up to any good. The guards just laughed at him.

Once Lia was good and tipsy, Nara tried to ask her a few questions - can we trust Thordius, what did they see on the mountain, etc. But Nara didn't learn anything useful. Lia eventually passed out, and Rhogar won the contest. We didn't know what to do with Lia, so we took her back to Nara's room and let her sleep on the floor.

Rolan got his minimum four hours of sleep, and got up in the middle of the night. Wanting to stop the merchant at all costs, he got on his horse and left town. A few miles outside of Miner's Forge, he found a merchant wagon, with a horse tied up nearby. Eliciting an OOC groan from the other players at the table, Rolan decided to steal the merchant's horse. He didn't get far before he was hit by some crossbow bolts. It was a dwarf - NOT the merchant he was looking for. The dwarf agreed to let Rolan go if he would pay the dwarf all his money. Rolan decided to fight instead ("What kind of thief would I be if I let him rob me?"). The dwarf easily defeated Rolan.

When Lia finally slept off her liquor, it was still the middle of the night. She walked around town, and asked the town guards if they'd seen any unusual activities. They told her about Rolan leaving the town.

Lia woke up Nara, and asked if she knew where Rolan was. Nara and Lia checked Rolan's room, briefly waking Rhogar but finding no sign of the elf. Then they left the inn and found Rolan's horse missing. They rode out until they found the dwarf. He was holding Rolan captive, still alive but very injured, planning on turning him in. Nara asked if she could take over custody of Rolan. The dwarf needed more incentive, just to be sure Rolan was brought to justice. Nara offered to pay him 20 gold pieces if she could take Rolan, and the dwarf agreed. Rolan later discovered that all his money was gone.

Nara and Lia took Rolan back to the inn, but they kept him tied up. They questioned Rolan, but he was still tight-lipped. Nara got a few more hours of sleep, while Lia kept an eye on him. In the morning, Rhogar met up with the merchant Won Lorn. Rhogar mentioned the disharmony within our party, and took Lorn up to Nara's room. Lorn offered to take us to the fortress, but we still kept Rolan tied up along the way.

Lorn took us to some ruins, filled with wild magic. As we watched, a badger wandered into the ruins, and promptly exploded. Lorn rode off, leaving us there to investigate. Lia saw the same symbol she'd seen on the mountain earlier, and tried to investigate, but became magically paralyzed. Rolan finally told the rest of us the truth - that he'd been leading us away from these ruins for our own good. That it was the location of the Dark Fang guild, of which he was a member, and our presence here endangered all our lives. Upon revealing the truth, the guild symbol in Rolan's pocket was enchanted to explode, killing him and possibly the rest of us. However, because we were in the zone of wild magic, the symbol turned into a bouquet of flowers instead.

But we weren't out of trouble yet. Several guild members appeared, and we suddenly found a large number of crossbows trained on us. A representative of the guild attempted to kill Rolan, but was caught in an explosion of wild magic. Then the battle began. We were greatly outnumbered, and our spells kept working in odd ways - often in our favor. More than once what would have been a minor spell manifested itself as chain lightning, killing several of our opponents at once. Nevertheless, it was a difficult battle, but we managed to finish them off.

After the battle, a mysterious person appeared and helped Lia figure out how to overcome the magical paralysis. Then we rushed back to town as fast as we could, got our horses, and left town again. We finally made camp a few hours south of Miner's Forge, and as soon as we get some much-needed rest, we'll head straight to Tantris at full speed. Hopefully we gleaned enough information to make Nara's church happy, but even if not, we're still on the run from the Dark Fang Guild.

XP Rewards:
Rhogar - 470 XP (100+70+300) - Total XP now 2199
Rolan - 480 XP (100+80+300) - Total XP now 2318
Nara - 475 XP (100+75+300) - Total XP now 2228
Lia - 470 XP (100+70+300) - Total XP now 470

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Praktas - Tying Things Together

Game Date: 9/12/09

Tirah (Deva Wizard)

Misty is planning to join our Praktas campaign, so we worked her into the Drew/Damakos storyline. To recap: Damakos and Drew (Bryan and Rick) have just started their six-week training course at the Bounty Hunter Guild. Tirah (Misty's Deva Wizard) recently saved some kidnapped children from the Purple Worm Cult, with the help of a Goliath Fighter named Dorath.

Since then, Tirah and Dorath have gone their separate ways. He's been fighting in the arenas, and she's been studying at the Arcane Guild library. One day, while studying a large tome in the library, a man walked over and sat down in the seat across from her. This isn't unusual - a lot of people come and go from this library - but this man wasn't reading, he was just staring at Tirah.

He was muscular but not bulky, and there was an obvious finesse to his movements. He was wearing strong but flexible armor, most of it painted black or red. While his hood obscured most of his face, his piercing eyes were still visible.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, the man spoke her name, "Tirah."

When Tirah asked him what he was about, he answered:

"I heard about what you did. You helped those beggars, even though it put you in danger, and even though you knew the rewards would be small. The Bounty Hunter Guild could use someone like you."

"This town can't afford to send guards after criminals. The Bounty Hunter Guild is the closest thing Trasa has to justice. But the poor can't afford to hire us. Most of our Guild members are so greedy, none of them want to take the less profitable jobs. They've gotten fat working for Trasa's nobles, and they've forgotten the reason the Guild exists in the first place. We need new blood, people with heart."

"No offense, but I can tell by the way you’re dressed that you probably can’t afford to pay for the guild membership just yet. But I'll make you a deal. Normally the Guild costs 5000 to join. That's 1000 to take the test, and 4000 to join once you pass. But for you, I'll go out on a limb... I'll get them to let you take the test for free. If you pass, I'll let you pay the 4000 over time... you can pay it off as you work for us. You’ll make it back quickly, I’m sure of it."

Tirah took the test (the same test as seen in this post), and just barely passed. Tirah’s training period will overlap with that of Drew and Damakos. The three of them work together a lot during training, and by the time the next session rolls around, they'll be pretty familiar with each other.

This should work out pretty well... I've still got ideas for an overall campaign, but for quick missions, short games, and sessions where one of the players can't make it, there will always be bounties to chase.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tantris - Session 7

Game Date 8/22/09
Rolan Daan (Bryan) - Elf Rogue
Rhogar Burnscale (Rick) - Dragonborn Fighter
Nara Cavell (Matt) - Human Cleric of Pelor

Nara's Journal:
I don't know what to do next. We've tried a few mountain trails, and we thought we saw a temple in the distance. But when we later took another trail for a closer look, that temple turned out to be ruins. Was my church mistaken? Were those ruins the source of the rumors that sent us here? We've asked many local miners and explorers about the region, and no one has seen a temple. I don't know how much longer I can keep searching random mountain trails. It is unfair to keep Rolan and Rhogar in my service, when they would probably be happier pursuing more profitable opportunities. Rolan has already complained that we're on a wild goose chase, insisting that he "just knows" that the temple doesn't exist.

But of course, Rolan has been exhibiting all sorts of suspicious behavior. One night, when we were camping on the mountain trail, Rolan went out to hunt. When he returned from hunting, he immediately left to wash his prey's blood stains from his backpack. He didn't come back until the following morning, with an outrageous story about being attacked. I didn't press the issue; I have enough problems. If he is hiding something, I can only hope it's not something too sinister.

We encountered an
Army from Everesk, and Rolan's ability to lie most likely saved our lives. And shortly after the battalion passed us, they were slaughtered by an unknown force. I don't know what to make of that. And more recently we encountered a party of Orcs, who we defeated thanks to Rhogar's battle prowess. But I seriously doubt it was Orcs that defeated the Everesk troops.

I think we're running out of options. Every path has been a dead end, and I currently have no leads. I hate to return to Tantris empty-handed, but I don't see that I have much choice.

As always, I pray to Pelor for guidance and insight. For yours is the one light, the true light, and the brightest light. Honor to your name.

- Nara Cavell

We had an audience! Matt2's and Bryan's significant others decided to sit in on this session, to see what it was all about. Oh, and Bryan's dogs were present as well, but they didn't get as much out of it.

When Rolan disappeared overnight, it was to meet with the Dark Fang Guild, of which he became a member in the previous session. The guildhouse had a very dangerous method of entry, a path worthy of the Umbrella Corporation. Rolan is still not allowed to tell Nara or Rhogar of his membership in the guild, and all three of us will be in danger if he lets it slip. Nor is he allowed to let us find that temple. After asking another guild member for guidance, Rolan was given the tip of guiding us up the path which gave us a view of the ruins.

XP Rewards:
Rhogar - 165 XP (100+65) - Total XP now 1729
Rolan - 170 XP (100+70) - Total XP now 1838
Nara - 165 XP (100+65) - Total XP now 1753

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Praktas - The Bounty Hunter Guild

Game Date: 8/22/09

Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)

Okay, so maybe we're a bit nuts here, a bit D&D obsessed... we were already having a busy gaming day, with an LFR game in the morning, and a Tantris game in the evening. But we had a couple of hours between sessions, and I knew this one thing would only take about 20 minutes. So I had them take the test to become members of the Bounty Hunter Guild.

Some background info:
Trasa does have town guards, but they spend most of their time preventing crimes. They do not have the resources for city-funded criminal investigations. If someone must be found, they generally rely on the Bounty Hunter Guild. Bounty Hunters in Trasa work with the full support of Trasa's government. Rewards are usually posted by the families of murder victims, people who've had treasures stolen, and so on. Sometimes rewards are posted by groups or organizations, sometimes a collection is taken up to pay a bounty, and in rare cases, for serious crimes, Trasa's government itself might post a reward. But most of the time, bounties are posted by those who can afford to pay a reward. For this reason, justice in Trasa is often considered to be a rich person's luxury, even though Trasa's actual courts are extremely fair.

Not just anyone can post a bounty on anyone - To post a bounty in Trasa, the fugitive has to be accused of breaking a law in Trasa. The purpose of the bounty hunters is to retrieve these fugitives so they can get a fair trial in court. Of course, most fugitives do end up being found guilty, since the truly innocent ones are more likely to trust the courts than to run.

Bounty Hunter Guild Rules:

1. All bounty hunting within Trasa must be done by guild members. Otherwise it is vigilantism, which is illegal in Trasa.

2. You must register for a specific bounty before you are allowed to actively pursue their capture. You may not register more than three bounties at a time. If you happen to encounter a fugitive whom you are not currently registered to capture, it is still permissible to detain them and collect the reward, provided you do not interfere with another guild member's capture. (See rule #5.) However, if a guild member frequently collects bounties without having registered for them first, the member might be investigated.

3. All reward amounts posted are for live capture. If bounty is killed, the reward is halved. If dead, the hunter must bring in the corpse (or at least head) as proof. There are spells to confirm identity, lest a hunter attempt to deceive the guild with a fake corpse.

4. Bounties should only be killed in self-defense, and excessive force should only be used as a last option. Many fugitives will later stand trial in the Trasa Court, so a hunter who kills is acting as judge, jury, and executioner. If a hunter appears to have an unusually high kill rate, they will be investigated by the guild.

5. Stealing another hunter's captive is called "Carrion Hunting", and is not tolerated. The guild tries to distribute hunts so that multiple hunters are not hunting the same fugitive at the same time. If another member's captive escapes, you may assist the recapture, because apprehending the criminal is always more important than the distribution of the reward. In such a case, Guild Council will decide how the reward is to be divided.

6. While within Trasa's city limits, you must not break any of Trasa's laws while pursuing your prey. If your hunt requires you to visit another city, you must follow that city's laws while there. Many of the areas between cities are considered lawless, but the Guild rules always apply on any bounty.

Failure to comply with the above rules may result in expulsion from the guild. The Trasa Bounty Hunter guild complies with all of Trasa's laws, and will not protect its members from prosecution.

- Jordan Darkwynde, Head of Trasa Bounty Hunter Guild

Joining the Guild:
It usually costs a total of 5000 gp to join the guild. It costs 1000 gp to take the test, and if you pass, you pay the remaining 4000 for the Bounty Hunter License.

You must pass test to get the license. If you fail the test, the 1000 is non-refundable. You can retake the test as many times as you want, as often as you want, but it costs 1000 each time.

The license itself takes the form of a magic glowing tattoo of dagger on your wrist (right or left is your choice, as is tattoo color). The tattoo gives off a small amount of light, so the guild recommends you wear a wristband over it. If a wrist tattoo isn't appropriate for your character (like if he has no arms, or doesn't have normal skin), alternative locations and/or identifiers are available.

If you quit or are expelled from the guild, you must have the tattoo removed at your own cost (done by guild wizard, 1000 gp). Ex-members who display the tattoo will be hunted and arrested. If you are unable to pay for the 1000 for the tattoo's removal, the guild will either burn it off (100 gp), leaving disfiguring scars, or cut off the hand above the tattoo (free).

Guild test:
First there is a written test, followed by some physical challenges and skill tests. In total there are 10 skill checks. Some skill checks have two skills listed; the applicant may choose which one to roll. One time during the test, you may spend an action point to reroll a low roll. You must keep the second roll. If you roll a natural 20, you get 5 additional points. (Points for style)

Once I add up all the results, I divide the total by 2 (rounding up), and that is the final score. You must score 70 or above to pass. Higher or lower scores can have some additional bonuses:

100+ - Perfect score, and they will waive the 4000 membership fee, for the honor of having such a skilled hunter.
91-99 - They charge you half price on your entrance fee, 2000 instead of 4000.
86-90 - They give you 10% off your entrance fee, 3600 instead of 4000.
70-85 - Passing. Still have to pay the full entrance fee of 4000.
60-69 - Fail, but will let you retake the test once for half price (500)
Under 60 - Flunk, must pay the full 1000 to retake test.

In addition to passing the test, you also get 1000 xp to represent the following weeks of guild training. This is a one time bonus (i.e. you couldn't repeatedly leave and re-join the guild for xp).

Quick Breakdown:
01. Written Test (History/Insight)
02. Basic Fighting (Athletics/Acrobatics)
03. Endurance Fighting (Endurance/Heal)
04. Defense from Magic (Arcana/Religion)
05. Sneaking and Hiding (Stealth)
06. Open Lock (Thievery/Dungeoneering)
07. Searching (Perception)
08. Information Gathering (Streetwise)
09. Convincing (Diplomacy/Intimidate/Bluff)
10. Forest Tracking (Nature)

You are taken into a room, where you sit down at a desk. (If both, mention someone standing over them making sure they don't cheat.) You are handed a sheet of paper filled with general knowledge questions, as well as questions about Trasa's laws and Bounty Hunter lore. Some are multiple choice, some are fill-in-the-blank, and some are True/False. You are given a quill and some ink, and 15 minutes to fill out the test. (History or Insight Check)

Your tests are taken away and graded. You are then led down some stairs and into what appears to be a training room. It is a large, open room, filled with fighting rings, training mats, attack dummies, and archery targets. You see many guild members sparring and practicing their skills. Some members are watching you from a distance, sizing up the fresh meat. You overhear a pair of guild members placing bets on your performance.

Your trainer stands on a balance beam, and instructs you to stand on the other end. Then he raises his fists, and instructs you to attack him unarmed. The two of you fight for a while, having to maintain your balance while trading blows. (Athletics or Acrobatics Check)

Then he gets you off the beam, and continues to test you, mixing boxing and wrestling. He is much more skilled than you are, and easily avoids your attacks, but he doesn't seem to be trying to win so much as studying your level of skill. He changes his fighting style often, and at one point gives you a choice of fake weapons so he can test your armed fighting skills. You fight for a very long time, until it seems to be a test of your stamina as well as your fighting skill. He is clearly trying to see how long you can last. (Endurance or Heal Check)

Then he picks up a wand and starts casting spells. The spells are harmless, causing pain but no damage. He is testing your ability to avoid them, negate them, or counter them. (Arcana or Religion Check) Finally he declares that part of the test is over.

Next, he takes you into a long, dimly-lit room, with several columns at 10-foot intervals. Every 15 seconds the room's lights come on, and stay on for 5 seconds before going out again. At the far end of the room is a large chest. The instructor hands you a lockpick, and a pair of noisy metal boots to wear. You have to walk from one side of the room to the other, making as little noise as possible, then figure out how to turn the lights off for good, and open the chest. Whenever the lights come on, you must hide behind the nearest column as quickly as possible. (Stealth Check) When you reach the chest, the lights stay off. You must use the lockpick to open the chest, or find another way to open it. (Thievery or Dungeoneering Check) You struggle with it for a few minutes, finally opening the lock.

Inside the chest is a drawing of a man's face. The trainer asks you, "When we were in the training room earlier, and you saw the other guild members training, where was this guild member standing?" (Perception Check)

He leads you up some stairs, then leads you back outside the guildhouse. "You're almost done. Now you just have to tell me my name. Ask around the West side of Trasa until you find out. (Streetwise Check) Eventually you will find the right person to ask, but you still have to convince them to part with the info. (Intimidate, Bluff, or Diplomacy Check)

Then come find me. I will be hiding in the forest outside Trasa's Western gate." (Nature Check) You follow his tracks, and find him hiding up in a tree. He leads you back to the guild house to tally up your score.

Damakos passed on his first try, with a score of 85. Drew failed on his first time, with a 62. His score was high enough to rate a half-price retest, and he passed the second time, with a score of 86.

XP Rewards:
1000 xp each, as a result of the six-week training period that follows membership.

LFR - Lost In The Fog

8/22/09 - The Game Keep
Module WATE1-5: Lost In The Fog (Low Difficulty)

Characters (from my group):
Krusk (Rick) - Level 1 Half-Orc Rogue (Brutal)
Rhogar (Bryan) - Level 1 Dragonborn Fighter (Great Weapon)
Voranna (Matt 1) - Level 2 Eladrin Ranger (Archer)
Merric (Matt 2) - Level 1 Halfling Rogue (Trickster)
Also in the group: Another fighter and another Halfling Rogue.

A lot of people signed up for this game, so they divided it into two groups. At first, our group was just the four of us, which was a bit disappointing. After all, one of the fun parts of LFR is playing with new people. Then two more joined our table. It was a very unbalanced party - no spellcasters, no healers. We *almost* had a bard, but the character had already played this module, so that's who became the second Halfling Rogue.

We did... poorly. There were two combat encounters, and both of them had most of us getting pounded into the ground. But nobody died. In the final encounter, Voranna was the last one standing, and had to chase down the final enemy before he escaped.

Everyone received 400 xp and 75 gp. Rhogar and Krusk got a healing potion, and Voranna got a +1 Thunderburst Longbow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Praktas - Small Sacrifices

Game Date: 8/14/09

Tirah (Misty) - Deva Wizard (Wand)
Dorath (Bryan) - Goliath Fighter (Great Weapon Style)

Misty had never played before, and just wanted to see what Bryan had been doing all these Saturdays. So, I threw together a short adventure, just long enough to show her how the game works. Predictably, she enjoyed the roleplay parts more than the combat, while Bryan was the exact opposite.

I was hoping that we'd have at least one more player, but since we didn't, I had to nerf the difficulty a bit so it would be survivable. Bryan was originally going to play a Shifter Rogue, but I convinced him a sturdier fighter would be better for such a small party.

This adventure was inspired by "Hall of the Spider God", which appeared in "Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies". The players heard about child kidnappings, on the poor side of town. The only witness saw a short purple-cloaked figure taking a child into the sewers. After descending into the sewers, the PCs followed some strange tracks until they found a secret door. The door led them to a set of hallways, with five rooms:
Doors 1, 3, and 4 were wooden and unlocked. Door two was a sturdy stone door, and was locked. Door 5 was gold plated stone, with religious symbols on it. It was also locked.

First they listened at each door. At door 1, they heard kobolds talking in Draconic, something about preparing the next sacrifice for the worm. At door 3 they heard some orcs arguing about wanting to eat one of the children. Since door two was the strongest, they figured (correctly) that the children were hidden in there. Dorath attempted to knock it down, but failed horribly, and the noise drew an orc into the hallway.

After defeating the orc, they realized the key must be in one of the other rooms. They tried room 3 first, fought an orc and two kobold minions, and found the key to door 5. Then they tried room 1, fought four kobold minions, and found the key to room 2.

In room 2, there was a cage holding three children. There were two skeletons standing perfectly still, guarding the cage. As one of the players prepared to step into the room, one of the children called out, "Wait!" The child had recognized that the PCs weren't kobolds or orcs, and warned them that stepping on the floor activates the skeletons. The child explained that whenever the orcs come into the room, they wave a wand around which controls the skeletons.

The PCs then tried room 3, fought another orc, and found the wand. Back in room 2, they freed the children, and took them back to the surface. They rested for the night, and returned the next morning to tackle room 5.

After a religion check, Tirah recognized the symbols on door 5 as those of "The Cult of the Purple Worm". They entered the room, both wearing purple cult robes they'd acquired in previous rooms. They saw two kobolds chanting in front of an altar. Upon the altar was a boy, tied-up but otherwise healthy. Tirah managed to convince the kobolds that she was their leader (she rolled very high, and the kobolds were very stupid). She ordered them to leave the room, and they complied. As Tirah started to tend to the boy, the ground began to rumble. Suddenly a giant purple worm burst out of the ground.

Note that a purple worm is not an appropriate encounter for a pair of level 1 characters, but this wasn't really statted like an actual purple worm. As I pulled out the miniature, I told them (OOC), "Don't be scared by the size of the mini; it's not as bad as it looks." To which Bryan replied, "Isn't that what you said a few months ago, right before our first characters were killed?"

Dorath kept the worm busy while Tirah grabbed the boy and took him to the safety of the hallway. Then she returned and helped Dorath finish the creature off. Tirah found a scripture book, and flipped through it. Reading between the lines, she realized the true story: This was actually a very old, decrepit purple worm, on its last legs (so to speak), and too weak to fend for itself. The kobolds found it, started worshiping it, and fed it children they had kidnapped.

Having cleared out absolutely everything (I forgot about the pair of kobolds that Tirah ordered out of the room), the party took the child back to the surface and claimed their reward.

XP Rewards: 360 each.