Sunday, July 24, 2011

Unlikely Heroes: Jello Shots

Game Date: 7/23/2011
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Davor (Ted): Half-Orc Sorcerer
Durp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Moxie (Michael): Half-Orc Fighter
Snidely (Greg): Halfling Rogue
Nishallivexiania "Vex" Corman (Matt): Half-Elf Monk

The Session:
Last session ended with us setting up camp on the outskirts of the orphanage ruins.  During the night, Snidely noticed a halfling-sized creature crawling towards the camp. He started to check it out.  After losing sight of it, he was suddenly grabbed by a young human girl, who yelled, "Save me!" The girl's name was Jevra, and in the month since the orphanage had burned down, she had been surviving on her own in these werewolf-infested woods.

Though some of us were a little suspicious about this girl being able to survive for so long by herself, we took her with us back to town anyway.  Our first stop was Laurel the herbalist, who was very happy to see us and our mushrooms.  Laurel immediately got to work mixing up a cure for the town's plague.  Moxie and Derp stayed with her to help with crowd control.

Vex and Davor took Jevra to the local church.  We were told that with the orphanage gone, there wasn't much they could do for her.  We decided to try to keep her.  Once we get a stable base of operations, she can be our assistant and apprentice.  We later headed for the town hall to see about adopting her.  Vex and Davor were mistaken for a couple, and we were told that the paperwork might take a while.  They also told us that the final decisions for this kind of thing were always up to Kreed. That name kept popping up a lot, actually.  We found out that Kreed basically runs the town.

Snidely ran off to the thieves guild to see if he could pick up any jobs.  They told him to come back after dark.  So Snidely decided to kill some time picking pockets.  He badly failed a thievery roll, and found himself on the run from some lumberjacks.  He managed to get away by throwing some money up in the air, which attracted a crowd that slowed his pursuers. 

Later the party met up at the pub.  Derp attempted to entertain the crowd, but rolled badly and broke a lute string.  After a while, Kreed came through the doors and walked straight up to our party.  He congratulated us for our work so far, and told us he might have more jobs for us in the future.  He had his henchman ("Payday") give us a reward.  We turned it down, resenting his implication that he owns us.  So instead, Kreed gave us a beautiful axe, promising that there were no strings attached.  Our party doesn't particularly trust Kreed, so we just had the axe put in storage.

We got rooms at the Jak'a'napes Inn.  After we settled in, Snidely left again for the thieves guild.  As soon as he approached the place, he was grabbed and put in a cell.  Snidely was accused of being sloppy, and was given 20 lashes for being stupid.  Unfortunately Snidely has very low INT and WIS stats, so it's unlikely the whiplashes are going to do much to cure that.

It wasn't a wasted trip, though.  In the first session (which I did not attend), Snidely acquired a shrunken head from a witch's hut.  He has been wearing it ever since, and it has occasionally spoken.  The thieves guild was finally able to identify the item for him.

Later that night, Davor was woken up by someone going through his backpack.  Davor quickly cast Daze on the intruder, who turned out to be Snidely.  Our lovable rogue was trying to sneak a wand into Davor's backpack.  He kept claiming, "It's a gift!" but Davor wasn't really fond of people going through his things.  Having been woken by the commotion, Davor's brother Moxie grabbed Snidely.  Snidely tried to stab him, but missed.  Things looked like they were about to escalate but Davor smoothed things over and accepted the Halfling's apology.
Vex spent the next day in bed, recovering more of the stats she lost last session.  Laurel the herbalist visited her to help with the healing.  Kimi also stopped by with some of her friends, and asked if Jevra could come hang out with them.  Vex allowed it, figuring the poor orphan was in need of a little fun.

Davor went to go see a retired mage named Vade, to ask about renting his tower to be our base of operations.  They agreed on a price, but they still had to go to the magistrate for the legal paperwork.  Once again, the party was told that these things take a while, and that the ultimate decider is Kreed.  However, the magistrate did ask us to introduce him to our rogue... apparently he thinks Snidely is cute.

Later that evening, we couldn't find Jevra.  We asked around, and found out the kids had headed to the orphanage for some reason.  We immediately set out to find them.  At the orphanage, we found some signs of struggle.  Snidely looked around and found some of their tracks.  It was very late by then, so we set up camp.  The next morning we followed the tracks all the way to the river.  The raft we'd used last time was gone, so we had to build another.  It was a hastily-made deathtrap, but it was buoyant enough to get us across.   On the other side, we searched a bit until we found our old raft, then continued following the tracks from there.

They led back to that Dwarven monastery.  We poked around the top level for a bit, but found nothing.  So we headed down the stairs we didn't have time to explore last time.  In the main hall, there was a broken obelisk.  Five kobolds were dragging part of it away.  Vex charged one and killed it in one hit - not a huge feat, of course, but after being weak for so long it felt really good.  We killed two of the others, but the final two (the weakest-looking ones) fled down the West hall.

But for some reason, Davor decided to explore the East hall instead.  Not wanting to split the party, we followed.  The East room had a large round pit of molten slag in the center, and more doors to the North.  As Davor explored the room, he was attacked by a Grick.  The Grick has some damage reduction that ignored all but our best hits, and sapped a lot of our hit points with its multiple attacks.

As we were finishing off the Grick, we heard some odd noises from the hall where we'd come from.  We saw a floating suit of Dwarven armor coming through the room's entrance.  Vex realized it was actually floating in a gelatinous cube.

Since the West exit was blocked, Moxie, Davor, and Snidely fled through the North doors.  They immediately faced three dire rats.  (Naturally, this repeated triggering of more encounters also triggered a few "Leeroy Jenkins" jokes.)  As the cube got closer, they closed the door behind them, so they wouldn't be sandwiched between the rats and the cube. 

Now separated from the rest of the party, Vex and Derp kept moving to the opposite side of the pit from the cube, hitting it with ranged attacks.  It was slow going, but the cube had low AC so at least we managed to hit it.  Once the rats were dead, the party managed to surround the cube and start doing some real damage.  Snidely got sucked in, but we killed the cube one round later, so our rogue survived.

Inside the cube we found a magical axe labeled "Glintaxe", and a suit of Mithral armor.  These items were still coated in the cube's acidic slime, so we had to clean it using the well upstairs.  On another corpse we found some boots that helped with sneaking, which the party gave to Vex.

We went upstairs to the chapel where we'd fought the darkmantles last session.  We considered sleeping because we were so hurt, but we also knew that time was of the essence here.  While we were debating, we noticed a slot designed to fit a gem.  We remembered a magic gem we'd found last session, and tried fitting it into the slot.  This healed all of us for a few hit points, so we skipped our nap and headed back downstairs.

This time we took the West hallway, where those two kobolds had fled.  We found a room full of bunk beds.  The two kobolds were there, being sucked dry by three stirges.  During this encounter, Vex had the unfortunate tendency to keep rolling only 4 damage to creatures that only had 5 hit points.  Nevertheless, we still managed to kill the stirges pretty quickly, before they could do us much harm.

A bit farther North, we encountered a room full of kobolds.  We could see Kimi and a Halfling being held captive.  The Halfling helped us a bit during battle by throwing rocks at the kobolds.  During the fight, the kobolds seemed to think that Moxie was a legendary Dwarven warrior called "Glintaxe", due to the equipment he had gotten from the gelatinous cube.  Vex rolled a crit on the final kobold, pounding it into hamburger.

After the battle, we asked Kimi to fill us in.  Apparently Jevra had dared the other kids to spend the night at the orphanage.  But the orphanage was just a little bit too scary, what with all the spiders and all, so they went to the monastery instead.  They were captured by kobolds and separated.  We asked her where Jevra was, but Kimi didn't know.  I hope she's okay, but when we do find her, she is sooooooo grounded.

We ended the session there.

The differences between Pathfinder and D&D 4e didn't come up as much this time.  The first half of this session was mostly roleplay, which was a nice change of pace.  Generally speaking, the system doesn't matter if the story is good.

When Vex's stats first went down, I was afraid I was going to spend the next few sessions standing at the back of the party, slinging stones (and usually missing), and basically being the party torchbearer.  But with all the roleplaying and the extra day in bed, she was back up to full stats before our first actual fight this session.  And even if we had fought some during that time, so what?  We all rolled our stats, so none of us are all that optimized.

Still, nothing is perfect.  This session we had issues identifying magic items.  First one must be able to detect that the item is magical, then they can try to identify the type of magic using the Spellcraft skill.  Well, our party's Sorcerer has Spellcraft, but only the Bard has Detect Magic, and apparently both are required by the same character to identify an item.  Does this not seem anal to anyone else?  Can't they at least sit down and work together to identify it?

Here's one that's not unique to Pathfinder - I know it's in D&D 4e and other systems as well - but I have never bought the idea that gelatinous cubes are invisible.  Yes, they are clear.  Yes, light does pass through them.  But if you make a 10'x10'x10' cube of clear Jello, I promise you you're still going to be able to see it quite easily, even in dim light.  (If you actually try this, invite me over.)  Arguably, flickering torchlight actually makes it easier to see, what with all the moving reflections and refractions.  Not to mention that the artwork for both the Pathfinder Bestiary and the D&D Monster Manual show it as a highly visible greenish-blue.

Left: D&D 4e Monster Manual.  Right: Pathfinder Bestiary.  Yeah, that's invisible.
I know, I know, I have no problem with a Half-Orc who can throw bolts of electricity, but for some reason I can't suspend my disbelief for invisible gelatin.  As I've said before, everybody has their own reality threshold.

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