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.