Monday, November 24, 2008

Campaign prep for the high fantasy one-shot

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday week a couple of us in the group are anticipating a less than adequate showing for keeping any kind of story continuity for our main campaign. Thus, another one shot. I volunteered to run it, and we settled on a higher level game for this, just to it out. Our other option was a grittier roll 3d6 take the stats in order lower level campaign. Both are appealing. We will likely do the other one in the future, just for kicks.

As soon as I accepted responsability for this I had some kind of idea for what I wanted to do. I really like the larger than life fantasy craziness. I liked Eberron. I wanted to run something in a world with cool stuff. The elevator pitch for it would be something like:

High magic meets Waterworld, an island dominant world with no limitations on what magic can do. The adventurers must board a flying, living castle, and discover what, if any, threat it's occupants pose to their homeland.

Short because this is just a one shot? Anyhow, the idea is that similar to Christopher Perkins' Dragon Sea setting, this world is mostly water, with islands of civilization dotting the globe. Our players are from one such island, confidants, retainers, servants, or mercenaries of the King. This world also has several Castles, flying citadels inhabited by powerful mages. The Castles are living cities, filled with Arcane schools and study. Here is part of what I sent to the players:
A Castle was drifting south, towards the island. There were no
skyships docked in it's moorings. No lanterns hung from the towers.
He did not dare get closer to investigate. But if a Castle was headed
for Actevona, it did not matter it's condition. By Bram's estimates
the King had less than two days to do something about the Castle
before it was within siege distance of the kingdom.

This will be our highest game so far, at 11th level. I was pretty excited to try my hand at running some different creatures. I have four encounters put together with maps, tactics, visuals, and whatnot. I am debating how much, if any treasure to put in the game. It is only a one shot, but being rewarded is nice.

We will see in about a week's time how this worked out.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

11/22 Actual Play

Part 2 of the Scarrowfell campaign started with:

Grom the Minotaur Cleric, Jesse
Abbas the Tiefling Wizard, Colin
Tess the Halfling Fighter, Chelsea
Ayler the Half Elf Warlock, me
Lyla the Halfling Rogue, Dan

We started mid battle. With Abbas and Grom on their last legs, we hatched a convoluted plan that involved Abbas delaying, and Tess using her Fighter's mojo to pull him from the battle. Once he was in the clear he conjured up a flaming sphere in the center of the orcs, and it attacked the main one, the one we were worried about.

He died. All that pent up worry and he died. Unfortunately, he is not the threat we should have been worrying about. There were still two orcs standing in the room, and one of them attacked and dropped Grom (again). Lyla, who was standing in the doorway to the next room, stiffened and was dragged from view. Ayler kills one of the remaining orcs, and Tess charged from the room after Lyla.

In the next room Lyla is being repeatedly hacked at by a goblin, while two more of the little beasts prepare to shoot Tess with poisoned crossbow bolts. She closes quickly and kills two of them with one blow, beheading the third when he tried to shoot her point blank. Sadly, it is too late for Lyla.

Grom expires as the two arcanists now face off against the last orc. It takes some spell slinging, and Ayler keeping Miles between them, but the last orc dies eventually and combat ended.

Some interesting things happened right then. A bolt of lightning erupted from Grom's corpse, and there was a loud clap of thunder from the adjoining room. In that room we encountered three new allies. One was a Razorclaw Shifter rogue, one was an Dwarven Warlord, and the last was the source of the thunderclap, an Eladrin Warlord. The first two were part of an earlier attempt by the lord of the town to send an adventuring party to eliminate the probable source of the plague that obviously failed. The last was a bit of an enigma, as he recalled seeing and experiencing things that the party had been through, such as the shipwreck, but was sure that he was not present for those things. We all agreed that even though we had the ability to remove the slave marks and escape, we needed to see this through. The seer had told us that our memories and this plague were related, and our future is surely linked to the level of our success in this endeavor.

So, our party now consisted of:

Theldar the Eladrin Warlord, Jesse
Abbas the Tiefling Wizard, Colin
Tess the Halfling Fighter, Chelsea
Ayler the Half Elf Warlock, me
Borga the Dwarven Warlord, Dan
Firus the Shifter Rogue, Mackenzy

The new members of the party suited up and we continued our exploration. Searching the room that held the prisoners net us a Speak With Dead scroll. We elected to perform the ritual on the apparent leader of the orcs here, the one with demon horns. We were allowed two questions. We didn't learn much, but we did find out that he was torturing and interrogating people in an attempt to ingratiate himself with his god, and to impress and form an alliance with a dark power that lived deeper underground. Hopefully this was the same power we were looking for and we would be able to find it.

The next room held an altar. From the looks of it, we interrupted a kind of ritual, though we were never able to tell exactly what it did. The altar had some bloody bundles, and wrapped in them were some organs, possibly humanoid in origin. Examining the altar revealed little, so we opened the door on the right. It was small, sized just right for the remaining halfling in our party, and she opened it quietly and peered inside. The far wall of that room was dominated by a set of small sized bunk beds. The soft sound of snoring issued from them. She noisily slammed the door, and we had a hushed conversation about what to do.

Abbas, the man of action, kicked the door open and bathed the far wall in flame, and then followed it up with yet more fire. One screaming, writhing form fell from the bunks and rolled on the floor briefly, before dying.

The door directly behind the altar opened into a cavern. Ruined pillars lined the sides, and a small offshoot cave opened to the right. The pillar in the best shape, in the far right corner, was dimly lit and difficult to see. Our scout, the newly met Shifter, snuck into the room and peeked into the cave opening off to the right. There was a strange writhing in the very back of the cave, and not until he tossed his torch back there was he able to discern what it was.

A mass of goblins, not fully grown and obviously scared, scrambled to get away in the corner of the cave. One of them, more brave than the rest stood in front with an over sized shield and rude club. Firus had a short conversation with him, he promised that we were not there to hurt them and was able to glean some information from the plucky goblin. Their neighbors were a ghost and a dragon.

While Firus and his new contact conversed, Tess scouted ahead. As she approached the middle of the room it was deja vu all over again, as the weak ground gave way and she disappeared, landing with a splash. Theldar moved to help her out, only to share her fate and plop in the drink. Soon we all joined her in this new cave, and began poking around. We sloshed through the shallow water, choosing the left passage as always.

The passage soon opened up into a larger chamber, with deeper water in the middle. As Firus checked it out a glow on the opposite end coalesced into a tiefling ghost with a longsword. We attacked first:

- Theldar opened up by rushing forward and flinging his javelin straight through the ghost.
- Ayler curses the ghost with a supernatural cold, allowing his allies to gain an upper hand in the fight.
- Theldar and Firus work together, hitting it hard.
- The two shortest members of the party have a difficult time in the deep water, but manage to hit nonetheless.
- With a splash the ghost is defeated and his sword falls into the water, the only thing left of him.

A quick examination of the sword is insufficient to unlock all of it's secrets, but we learn that it has soul draining powers. We continue on, up to a room with the water's source. Water runs through the center of a room with a worked stone floor. The wall on the far end of the room had a door on either side of the canal, with the water coming from the other side of the wall.

It soon became clear that this room was more complex than it appeared. Firus narrowly escaped a large chunk of the ceiling falling on him, and Abbas began to notice the pressure plates all over the room. Poison gas began leaking from the holes in the ceiling left by the falling trap, and the battle to survive began:

- It was quickly determined that the water in the middle was not trapped, and the floor was avoided as much as possible.
- The gas began poisoning us, and with each falling block the poisoning got worse.
- Theldor narrowly avoided being smashed by a block, only to discover that it was now blocking the door he was trying to exit through. He began smashing at it with his spear.
- Firus made it to the other door without incident, and popped it unlocked with his tools. We began moving for that door.
- Abbas made a misstep and despite Theldor trying to pull him out of the way, he was crushed under a chunk of the ceiling.
- The beefy halfling hit the block at a run and toppled it off of him.

By now we had been through the wringer, and a rest was mandated. The room we stopped in seemed safe enough, and after a few arcane wards were put in place we took a few hours to lick our wounds and recover.

Good thing too. The large double doors at the end of the room we slept in had a dragon motif. Beyond the doors was a staircase descending quite a ways, and opening into a large natural cavern. Stalagmites and stalactites provided some minimal cover at the edges, and the middle was dominated by a large pool shrouded in mist. Firus snuck into the room, but was unable to find the dragon. We knew that it was likely there was a dragon down here, so we cautiously entered the cave. As soon as the last of us cleared the entrance he struck. From the ceiling a blast of acid bathed the party, and a large dragon plopped himself down in front of us:

- The dragon fear takes most of us, and for a few seconds we could do nothing but stand and quake.
- He then cloaks himself in a massive cloud of darkness.
- Abbas answers back with his own cloud of freezing damage. It didn't seem very effective.
- Borga, from inside the darkness, begins leading the attack, shouting directions and positioning the troops. A howl of pain bolsters us, we know she has hurt him.
- Firus throws a dagger into the darkness, and is answered by the dragon's flank appearing. He somehow manages to trick it into leaving concealment.
- Theldar takes the opportunity to shove the end of his spear in between to scales and twist. The dragon is enraged by this and it's tactics begin to falter. Bolstered by this, we press our attack.
- Tess now takes her shot, and scores a devastating hit on the dragon, bringing it into a rage and it answers by spewing gouts of acid all over the party.
- It tries to move over and attack the soft flank of the party, but is held in place by Tess' mark.
- With the direction of the two warlords the dragon is hammered again and again, finally falling to a blow from Tess' hammer.


First off, Chelsea made this awesome lizard for me to ride. It even fits in the proper number of squares. Awesomest. Much better than balancing on the back of a spider.

This was the second and final (for now) session of Dan's Scarrowfell campaign. We will revisit this world later, at 5th level, and try to answer some of the questions that remain.

So, in the intervening week we had discussed some what to do about surviving the fight we were in. Colin and Chelsea had worked out the plan I described, he moves, delays, she uses her fighter utility to get him away, and he drops flaming sphere where he was. Funny because the big bad took 7 or so points of damage and died. Threat over? Nope, Jesse had a handful of hitpoints and dropped, failing his last two death saves. Kind of a shock. Who would have thought the meatshield healer would die. He put together the Eladrin Warlord while we explored the next room and was back at it pretty quick.

The ghost we lucked out on. Dan said that had we not made our saves to be immobilized he would have been able to unleash a devastating attack. We creamed him though.

The trap room though, ouch. Each time someone triggered a trap another poison cloud was added to the initiative. By the end we were all getting attacks vs Fort three times a round, for 10 damage, 2 ongoing. A few of us had amulets that gave 5 poison resistance, but it still ate up our HP's. And then Colin got smashed by that block. . .yeah. It was rough. A good encounter.

Colin was out of healing surges by this time (something I wasn't sure I'd ever see). We took an extended rest. As an aside, the Eye of Alarm ritual is my new favorite thing. Very cool.

Then, the dragon fight. Mackenzy scouted out the cave, but specified where he was looking, and not once did he mention the ceiling. I was starting to think it was a trick, but . . .no. I guess it was a trick, just the breathe-acid-from-the-ceiling kind, not the kobolds-instead-of-a-dragon kind. The dragon fight was not too tough, Dan's NPC's daily allowed us to shift our allies, and Jesse's daily gave us all +5 to hit (!). Mackenzy was able to trick strike the dragon out of the cloud, and suddenly instead of -4 or more to hit we were at +5. Dailies were used, crits were rolled, and Chelsea ended up dropping him.

Solo fights suck for Wizards and Warlocks. Discuss.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11/15 Actual Play

Finally got to play in Dan's one-shot. Well, one-shot like. From the campaign description:

Character creation: as per our usual. Monsterous races are a go as
well. Characters start at 4th level. Players are encouraged to roll up
several characters and pick the one they wish to start with.

Character backgrounds: do not write them! In fact, don't spend a
moment's time thinking about it. I know this is a bit unusual, but the
"ideas" I have for the campaign make it necessary. The 1st session
will explain all ;)

Setting: The bulk of the campaign will take place on the island
(almost continent in size) of Scarrowfell, though the party won't
start there perse. normally I'd give you a low-down of the region, but
your group will be discovering it so...

On death and dying: I'm not going to pull any punches. If the hairy
nappy ass of death should sit upon your character, don't worry
though... I have a system in place to accommodate this.

In attendance were:

Me, playing Ayler the Half Elf Star Pact Warlock,
Jesse, playing Grom the Minotaur Cleric of Kord
Colin, playing a Tiefling Wizard
Chelsea, playing a Halfling fighter
Dan, DMing and running Lyla his Halfling Rogue.

I did not catch Colin or Chelsea's character names, so I will not be using character names this time. Sorry.

We started with a very cinematic opening setting the scene in the belly of a ship about to be hit by a legendary (and possibly evil definitely dangerous) storm. We awoke in a room dressed in rags, surrounded by some dead bodies dressed like us and some not. Introductions were made, and we began exploring.

Colin found Dan's DMPC in the next room and began tending to her, as she seemed more badly hurt than us (we started at full health, with all our surges). Jesse began breaking down doors, and found a room with crates filled with magical gear. As the pre game posting established, we did not remember anything about our past, but we sure knew this was our stuff. After outfitting ourselves we approached the stairs leading to the deck.

Peeking from the crack in the door we saw that the sailors on the deck were pretty busy with sailory things that we could not see, as we were below deck. Jesse boldly strode through the doors and there was a brief uneasy standoff. The Captain said that we could fight them if we wished, but that we would die in the storm if we did. We could help them if we were able, and possibly survive it together.

The Minotaur and the Halfling got to work, both possess inhuman strength and took right to the work. Not long after that we saw in the gloom a wall of water advancing. With not much time, Jesse pointed and shouted "Wave!", and latched his arms around the main mast. The rest of us bolted for the door down, and almost made it.

Chelsea was last through the door. Just as she went to close it the wave hit. The power of the water was obviously too strong for her to overcome, but somehow she held the door while the wave crashed over the ship. Jesse called upon his god for aid and locked his arms together.

The violent motion of the wave tossed the ship about, and once again we all lost consciousness, only to wake floating on the flotsam that once was a large and powerful ship. Jesse was still hanging onto the mast with both hands, and we made our way to him, lashing several of the larger pieces together and tying them together. Colin and I performed a ritual meant to mend broken things in an attempt to shore up our flimsy raft, and we began the slow journey to the line on the horizon.

Jesse kicked for hours and slowly moved us closer, allowing the land to take shape as a low island in the distance, then as a beach with a dense forest beyond, and finally as something firm under our shaky feet. We immediately went into survival mode, searching for food and water.

We walked up a low hill, sticking to a game trail in the hopes that it would guide us to water. The sound of a waterfall began to get louder, and we rounded a bend to a small waterfall feeding a brackish pond. We drank our fill, refilled our water containers and continued on the game trail. The sharp scent of smoke caught our nose, and we began to suspect that we were not alone on the island.

After a short time travelling we came to a road. The game trail continued on the other side of the road, but we now knew that there was some kind of civilization on the island. We followed our nose up the road, and before too long were at a wooden palisade manned by a nondescript human guard.

Still unsure about where we were, or even who we were, we asked the guard a few questions. We learned:
- The smoke is the result of a warehouse owner burning down his warehouse to eliminate a rat infestation.
- The town is ruled over by some 'Lords'.
- There is an inn.
Jesse and I suspected that there was something that he was holding back, but Jesse was blinded by his desire for rat stew. As he went to let us in, I noticed something. Some new questions were asked:
- Why does the gate lock from the outside? To keep the slaves in, of course!
- Slaves make up a large part of the population of this city.
- They are identified by a magical sigil on their forehead.
- Guards could not see this mark, but some arcanists could.
After a team huddle to see whether we had this mark (we did), some more questions were answered:
- There was one other hospitable human habitation on the island, the capitol some distance away. They also had a wall, and slaves, and magical forehead sigils. Orcs and others populated the rest of the island.
- The guard was not a slave.
We were all set to ditch this town and try the Capitol, when I asked a curious question:
- Did they have any riding lizards in this town? As a matter of fact, yes they did. One. Washed up from the wreckage of a trade ship that went down in the storm the other day. Vicious beast.

I really needed to find that riding lizard. I may not have remembered anything about my life before, but I did remember Miles. The party reneged, and we went into the city despite our better judgement. Miles was retrieved from the stables while the party went to grab a bite at the inn.

The inn was small and did not seem welcoming to strangers. There were no patrons at the bar. At one table sat two men who kept to themselves. At the other sat a sick man alone, continually coughing into his handkerchief. As he went into a coughing fit and began to choke, Jesse and I moved to his side and attempted to help, but it was too late, and he died. The barmaid matter-of-factly told us that it was likely due to the plague.

Plague? The smell of smoke and booming rat population now made a lot of sense. According to the barmaid a supernatural plague had been ravaging the city of late, and there was little that could be done about it. Many had died, slaves and nobles as well as commoners. She said that the Lord of the town had been attempting to find someone or a group of someones to take steps to end the plague, but had so far not been very successful.

We left the inn and made for the Lord's manor. Our arcane marks could be removed by Colin, if he had the right ritual, and we figured that in exchange for ridding the town of the plague, we might be allowed to learn this ritual and free ourselves. The Lord seemed agreeable to this plan of action, and gave us a map to a nearby cave. He seemed to believe that the cave was the source of the plague, but had us speak to a Seer about it before we left.

The Oracle was an old woman in a run down shack. She seemed ill, but was able to give us some hints and direction. The source of this plague was indeed inside this cave we were headed to. We should trust nobody outside our group. She did not know our past of posses our memories, but knew that the same thing that had stolen our past had spread this plague (and was the source of the storm).

With that we made for the cave. It was not a short journey, and required us to follow the map. We had not been doing that well, and were somewhat off course when we all fell into a sinkhole. It was not a serious fall, and we would have immediately climbed back out, but as we looked at our surroundings we saw that we had fallen into an old ruin. The walls were decorated with motifs that indicated that this temple dated from the time of the old Tiefling empire, but the details had eroded away. We decided to look around a bit before we continued on. Dan went ahead, being the sneakiest, and came back a short time later, saying that we were not alone down here.

Down the hall a ways was a room with several goblins and orcs. She had not been able to tell much more from her quick scout out. Spoiling for a fight we stormed the room, and began busting heads:
- Chelsea was first in the room and started us out with a bang, hitting one orc and cleaving into another.
- Colin followed it up with a huge burst of flame from the palm of his had that roasted half of the room, and several goblins dropped writhing to the floor.
- We all moved up and began fighting, but Chelsea was most effective, hitting and marking two more orcs.
- Colin shoots another jet of flame that bursts and kills the rest of the goblins in the room, leaving a couple orcs standing.
- The mop up begins, and the battle appears over. Colin is forced to fire a spell to close to himself and is bathed in flames. Luckily his kind have innate resistance to fire.
- With only a couple orcs remaining the battle shifts back to the other side when re enforcements pour into the room, rushing past Jesse to get at us all. Their leader is a large orc with horns on his forehead and skin too loose for his face.
- Jesse heals Colin, who had overextended himself and was now in melee with several orcs, hits an orc with a Blazing Beacon, and then hits him again.
- Dan disappears, hiding in the shadows.
- Chelsea finishes off the orc she was fighting and engages the demonic orc. Her hit catches him unaware and does devastating damage. He slowly turns, and begins to focus his attacks on her.
- Dan reappears and manages to hit the demon orc, dazing him for a spell.
- Jesse, having spent all of his healing on keeping Colin propped up is looking bad, and then goes down in a heap of fur.
- In a valiant effort Colin moves in a blur to Jesse's side and rouses him from his stupor. With a start he comes to and is back in the fight.

And we stopped it there....


This session was shortened, as first sessions usually are. It takes awhile to get everyone's characters ready and to get calmed down. Also, like most first sessions this one had a lot of talking, a lot of roleplaying, and not even one full encounter. Two players had to go, so we had to stop mid-epic-combat and agree to start it up next session. On the bright side, this week we have the time to plan and possibly escape what is seeming like a grim situation. Here is where we left off:
On the left is Ayler on Myles. The minotaur is easy to spot. Chelsea is the small one next to him. Colin is the blondie in the middle of all three orcs. Dan is the other small, flanking an orc with Chelsea. The orc they are flanking is the Demon orc. We are throwing around suggestions about how to win now. Wish us luck.

As with all of the material that is not combat related, I don't feel I do it justice. I only take notes during combat (otherwise it would just be one big blur in my brain), and I don't really have the chops to relate the feel of the non-combat scenery. That whole part before we started fighting was probably almost three hours of roleplaying, with very few dice rolls (specifically, in the beginning there were some Perception rolls to check out our surroundings, some strength rolls to bust into rooms, a couple damage rolls on locks, two strength checks for the two 18 strength tanks to survive the wave (the minotaur and the halfling, natch) . . .a bunch of Nature rolls to find water (which everyone but the DMPC did poorly on), Perception rolls to smell smoke, and two Insight rolls at the conversation with the guard).

The roleplay with the guard was interesting. Nobody really dwelt on the fact that some insane person burnt down a warehouse to rid it of rats, which should have been a HUGE clue that something was wrong. We were far to concerned with our status as slaves, and like rats in a cage our only interest was in finding a way out. Ah well, hindsight and all that.

I am sure that the bit with the Oracle and the Lord is a little muddled, I was losing focus by that point (which I am sure contributed to a lot). And the combat, well. . .by that time we had been playing for a few hours with no real action, and I think that the players, not the characters, were spoiling for a fight. We did not really think our actions through. We rushed in and. . .I think we overextended ourselves a little. That room has a great chokepoint that we aren't using. We will see how things turn out next week, though....


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

11/8 Actual Play

Four players this session:

Halma, Human Rogue played by Jesse
Ana, Half Elf Cleric played by Chelsea
Therryk, Dragonborn Paladin played by me
Lucan, Elf Fighter played by Colin, who also DMed

We left off last session with a part of the party returning to the boat to relay what they had found and to gather some help for the deeper dungeon. I guess some of those adventurers are really enjoying the fishing at this lake or need to work on their tan some more...

Ana joined the three of us who had already explored the upper part of the structure, Sylus was busy copying rituals from Arlarond's book so he didn't join us. We followed chalk marks in the caverns to the huge room with the chasm, and descended the rope to the tunnel we had explored previously, following it through the secret door and into the room with the gears oriented horizontally, stopping where we did before. During the journey we filled her in on the things we had seen and discovered, so that by the time we got there we were all prepared to move on.

The room we had stopped on was very large, with a 10 foot wide walkway on either end, and the remains of a similar walkway extending partially along the right wall. At the same level as the door were a series of large 20 foot in diameter or so gears, about half a dozen, that were turning at a few revolutions per minute, pretty slowly. Our plan was to leap across the gaps and make our way across the room, entering the double doors on the opposite wall.

Therryk removed his armor as he knew it's restriction would make the jumps difficult, and the four adventurers leaped across the first ten foot gap. We all made it, but Therryk, perhaps a little afraid that he would come up short, jumped a little far and crashed into Halma, knocking them both down. At this exact moment we were ambushed.

Four . . . clockwork men clambered over the edges of the gears in the center of the room. They were man sized, and composed of intricate gearing and clockwork mechanisms, with long powerful apelike springs for arms. They immediately swung those arms and wrapped up all four us. Highlights
- The setup of the fight put Halma and Therryk at the junction between two gears with two enemies, with Ana and Lucan on the other side of a gear with their own two enemies to fight.
- Halma pretty easily breaks the grapples in this fight, and gets to work dismantling the clockworks. Knowing that Therryk would not have as easy a time, he grabs the leg of the machine with its arms around Therryk and shoves it between the two gears, hoping it will pull him off. It succeeds.
- The fight is dizzying as positions change constantly due to the rotation of the gears. Ultimately we are more than a match for them and the last one is knocked from the platform by a timely shove from Lucan.

The careful progress across the room continues almost without incident. Another difficult leap to a lone gear near the far wall is uneventful, but during the final leap to the platform on the other side Lucan falls short and tumbles down, landing a story below us. Not a devastating fumble, but one that made us hold our breath.

The double doors open into a similarly sized room, with 2 10 foot wide walkways intersecting at the center. The floor of the room, a story down, was littered with parts and pieces of mechanical gear, and there were several tanks in the room, one of them quite large and taking up almost a quarter of the room. We cautiously made our way to the center, and were not very surprised when we were ambushed again in the middle of the room. Two bulky mechanical men charged out of the double doors in front of us, and from each of the double doors to either side a squat clockwork man appeared with a mean looking crossbow and two shields for protection. We sprung into action:
- Halma darted towards the left side, flinging a dagger at the robot, and being surprised by the return slam he got from the shield
- "So much for them being helpless in melee."
- The burly mechanical men charge and mark the two party tanks. Luckily, this is just what they wanted.
- The two crossbow wielders fired volleys at the three other party members clustered together at the intersection, missing mostly but hitting their own side.
- The four fighters trade blows, one of the clockworks falls, disabled, and the other is shoved into the pit.
- By this time Halma has single-handedly taken out one of the clockworks and he makes his way across the room towards the other, throwing daggers as he goes.
- Therryk attempts death from above again, leaping on the soldier from the walkway 10 feet up. This time he hits, and is satisfied.
- The one in the hole is marked by Lucan, who continues throwing his enchanted trident to maintain it, but must engage Therryk. Therryk is very difficult to hit.
- Halma meanwhile has engaged the last clockwork remaining on the platform, and positions himself into tricking the think off the edge and into the pit.
- Ana leaps into the pit, as does Halma, and the remaining enemies are dispatched quickly.

A search of the three doorways reveals more of the same in two rooms, and one room with something new. The center of this much smaller room held a model of the solar system, spinning slowly around the sun. Levers in the corner of the model altered the orbits of the model planets, but little else in the room was a clue to the purpose of the model. None of us are rocket scientists. It took some experimenting, but we were able to discover that the model was not currently accurately displaying the orbits of the planets. With some fiddling of the controls we corrected the model, and a grinding noise as the model slid away to reveal a ramp down was our confirmation.

The short ramp ended in an even smaller room, this one about 15 feet square. In the center of the room was a throne, and upon this throne sat a clockwork man. His hand on the arm of the throne was connected to it with a complex array of gears. It was soon apparent that he was not hostile, and we spent quite some time questioning him.

This facility was built by a civilization long gone. It's purpose is to hold the memories and emotions of the creators. They felt that they had advanced sufficiently and were ready for the next step, as it were. The complex mechanisms are all a part of the original construction, though the giant's temple is not. Some of the energies used in the upkeep of the place are necrotic in nature and have been leaking of late. This could explain the ghouls and zombies that we saw. We explained that we were here looking for treasure, and seeking to eliminate the undead as vengeance for our friend who was killed.

He. . .it. . .explained that he was having a hard time accessing the problem, as the guardians had been preventing him from getting his resources to the area. He agreed to supply us with wealth in exchange for destroying the rogue guardians. In this way we would accomplish both of our goals and help the overseer with his problem. He illuminated the way with blue lights and we began the next part of our journey.


Short players again, this time not with such deadly consequences. The first fight was what a 4e fight should be, IMO. The room had 4 or so gears, represented as a 4x4 square, with the first two meshing. Colin drew arrows to show how they would turn, and at the bottom of the round all those on the outer edge moved four squares along the rim, and those in the middle moved one square. Part of the tension was from not knowing what would happen if we fell, underneath us was a mess of machines with no real clue as to how far we would fall or if we could get back up. Plus I took my armor off again. I am seriously considering retraining for the Athletics skill. AC 13, ouch.

The other fight was also fun, and I would love to use some more of the tactic we used at the end, with Colin marking him and him only being able to hit me. That is a 24 he had to hit, pretty rough. I was surprised how well Halma did, since he took on the first bolter without anyone to flank with. He had enough tricks up his sleeve to knock him out really fast, which is cool.

The astronomy puzzle was not really the forte for the four PC's there. I don't think I can convey accurately the roleplay that took place with the overseer, it was quite a bit of talking and exposition, represented by the concise version in the Actual Play.

And this Saturday for reals should be fun with warlocks for me, yeehaw!


Monday, November 3, 2008

11/1 Actual Play

We only had 4 this session, and I think we may see the result of that midway through the day. We had:

Lucan, Half Elf Fighter 3, played by Colin who was also DMing
Arlarond, Human Wizard 3 played Dan
Halma, Human Rogue 3 played by Jesse
Therryk, Dragonborn Paladin/Warlord 3 played by me

Notice something? No leader you say? I had 3 heals per day as a multiclassed leader and a paladin, and that is just not enough.

We picked up directly after we left off last week. The crew was directing the ship towards the island, still a few hour's journey across the lake. Long enough for the party to get a good rest in and recharge from the treacherous battle with the dragon. Therryk and Arlarond attempted to calm the crew by telling them that the dragon likely eliminated all serious dangers in the area as the largest predator around. Possible monetary benefits and other social benefits from having slain a dragon were mentioned, too. In a hushed conference, however, we discussed the possibility of an even larger dragon, perhaps the parent of this one, and moved the carcass below decks and administered clerical blessings on it to prevent it's decomposition.

As the island came into view we noticed some odd things about it. First, there was no significant vegetation. Second, it was composed of an odd mineral or other formation that gave it a distinct almost crystalline appearance. We found the remnants of what might have been an old road or similar convention, a flat path that lead from the shore deeper into the island. Several members of the party were still recuperating from the poison used by the dragon and were unable to make the journey. Four of us left the ship to scout the temple. A short distance inland we found an abandoned campsite. After a short search of the area we determined that it was a dwarven expedition. We found a fine cast iron vessel with a stamp reading "Sogol Expeditions". Sogol is the name of the dwarven leader imprisoned in Hammerfast. We conjectured that he had found the temple and needed to gather additional manpower, hopefully because there was so much treasure to haul out.

We continued inland, constantly climbing higher, and encountered what we thought must be the temple we sought. Unimpressive from the outside, it looked like a large, featureless mound. The only clues to it's importance were two pillars flanking an opening. We entered cautiously into a large chamber. Pillars marched towards the opposite wall on a giant scale. A sole spot of sun illuminated a bas-relief depicting a triumphant warrior standing over a chasm in the earth. With artificial light provided by Arlarond we discovered this was only one of many such carvings arranged in an analemma calendar, depicting an epic battle near a huge chasm. The temple was built on top of the chasm.

The next room was long and descended towards a large hole in the floor. Flanking the hole were large control mechanisms with chains disappearing into the darkness. We guessed that this was an elevator. In front of this was an altar, too large to see the top of without climbing up, and fully 15 feet long. Close examination of the altar revealed little of the meaning behind the religious iconography in the temple. There was a central depression and four in the corners. Another mystery to ponder as we made plans to descend into the darkness.

The platform was in the down position, and we discovered as we prepared to descend that it was shattered and useless. In order to descend we would have to climb. Halma and Lucan were fine and would have little difficulty descending. Therryk would be okay if he was unencumbered by his heavy armor. Arlarond would need some help, however.

The time aboard the boat learning a sailor's profession came in handy. Halma was able to fashion a harness for Arlarond and this allowed him to be lowered down by Therryk and Lucan. Halma climbed down, and once Arlarond was on the ground the other two started down.

A ghoul attacked. Half of the party was still 100 feet in the air when a ghoul came from the darkness and tackled Arlarond to the ground. His claw immobilizes him.
- Therryk and Lucan clamber down the chains as fast as they can.
- Arlarond casts from his prone position and Halma moves to try and flank the ghoul.
- When Therryk is near enough to the ground that he thinks the fall won't kill him, he lets go of the chain and with a battle cry lands. . .next to the ghoul. A spectacular failure.
- Lucan hops down and immediately joins the fight. It is the turning point.
- A host of nude dwarven zombies shuffle out of the darkness towards us. Our minion sweeper blasts them all with ice and fire, leaving the rest of us to deal with the ghoul.
- Lucan drives his trident into the ghoul a final time, rendering it lifeless again.

This certainly explains why the dwarven expedition failed and Sogol felt a need to return with greater strength. We rested and Therryk donned his armor. Not long after we began traveling we came to a fork in the way. Following Halma's advice we began going left, but were immediately set upon by more undead.
- The initial rush immobilized some of the party, making a strategic retreat unlikely. It would be a constant annoyance throughout the fight.
- Early on Arlarond shrouded himself in flames, killing the zombies. That left three ghouls.
- The constant assault of the ghouls took its toll. Therryk used all his daily healing abilities propping up Halma. The ghouls would stun with their claws, then attempt large bites with did devastating damage.
- Lucan was bit by a zombie, paralyzing him. Arlarond stepped into the fray attempting to make himself a target by scorching two of the ghouls. It worked.
- Arlarond gets clawed, then bitten, and falls dead to the ground. Strange light from the hole in his head briefly illuminates the fight, then is gone.
- Immediately after the Lucan falls, and things are grim for the two standing members of the Heroes of Fallcrest
- Luck and divine providence prevail and Therryk and Halma emerge victorious, and are able to revive Lucan. Arlarond, however, is gone.

As we carry our friend's body to the surface the sounds of screaming, and of combat, grow louder. As we enter the chamber with the ruined elevator we see a man being attacked by two zombies. They fall to a burst of arcane power, and we are introduced to Sylus, the Human Warlock (Infernal pact). He was part of Sogol's expedition and has spent the past few weeks surviving and eliminating the undead members of his former party. He is glad to see us, and we readily agree to join forces and avenge our dead teammates. Sylus' goddess also despises the undead, so for him it is perhaps an even greater motivation.

We bear Arlarond's body back to the boat, and there hold council and determine to keep going with our exploration of the temple. According to Sylus there is a room underneath the temple with a large chasm, this room is where his party turned to zombies. Finding this room and it's secrets would go a long way towards avenging our friend. Plus, treasure.

The search is long and arduous. Halma leads, turning left whenever we are presented with a choice. We find dead ends, one of them piled with chewed bones. We find several catacombs filled with the bodies of giants in strange robes. After over five hours of wandering we find the room Sylus told us about.

The floor is made from a strange material. Not metal, but smooth and sheer. The room is large and strange, bisected by a 50 foot wide chasm of indeterminable depth. The chasm extends beyond the confines of the room, continuing under the walls and on beyond our ability to recon. We are stumped. The interior of the pit is lit by regularly spaced lights that do not flicker like torches, and appear to be magical. We also discover tunnels that open into the chasm, and we climb 30 feet down and into the nearest one.

Similar in construction or origin to the chasm, the tunnel provides no clues as to it's purpose. Regularly spaced along the wall are more of the magic lights. Even removing one was no help, as it ceased functioning as soon as it was chiseled out of the wall. All the time we had been in the tunnels the ambient noise had been increasing, until we noticed a dull thrumming throughout. Without warning a blast of steam burst from the depth, shooting down the tunnel and catching us unawares, painfully so for some of us.

We hurriedly moved down the corridor, now with a more immediate purpose to our search. It ends with a T, and predictably we go left. After a short walk we come to another choice, to go left again or to continue going straight. Some exploration reveals that every left option will take us back to the chasm. We kept going and were getting nervous, as the rumble was getting louder again.

Sharp eyes saved us. We spied a seam in the right wall, and after some quick examinations were able to push the catch and open the door. It moved back and sunk into a slot in the ground, and if anything the room beyond it left us even more confused.

It felt as if we were looking at the back of an enormous clock. Gears, springs, and mechanical devices went almost floor to ceiling on the far wall. And it was a large wall, with us on a walkway 30 feet from the ground. We closed to the door behind us to protect against any more steam bursts and began to explore the room.

Aside from doors on the other two walls in the room, we discovered little. According to plan, we took the left, and entered another similar, only more bizarre. In this room the clockwork was horizontal, and we could not see below it to the ground below. A series of gears covered the floor, ticking away, and the walkway to the opposite side was destroyed. On the other side of the room was a set of double doors. After much deliberation it was decided that we were woefully understaffed and unprepared for any serious engagement this far from backup, and we elected to return to the surface, and the boat, and gather what help we could for whatever awaited us on the other side of the door.


Arlarond dies. Which sucks, as his player had one of the few complete backstories. The ghoul fight was brutal for a few reasons. Number one, for a party with two clerics it is pretty ironic that when we encounter some undead neither one is present. Which also means healing is . . .not really there. Number two is ghouls are pretty rad. Their claw immobilizes and does 1d6+, and if you are immobilized they bite and you are stunned and take 3d6+. Colin rolled 18 for damage when he hit Arlarond, for a total of 22 damage. He dropped to negative bloodied and died. Lucklily Dan had a Warlock ready and we were able to get back to 4 PC's again. I think we would have had to call it a day with only the 3 of us remaining.

My star moment was going to be this awesome attack in the first fight. I spent my action point to spend another move climbing down. When I was 30 feet down I let go of the chain and tried to fall on the ghoul. I got a freaking 9. That hits. .. nothing. So instead I bellyflopped onto the stone floor and had to fight the ghoul unarmored with a 13 AC. Less than heroic.

We spent a lot of time at the tail end of the session exploring the complex. It is bizarre, as Colin is bizarre, and it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Next week Dan is DM'ing a different campaign set in the same world. Level 4 characters, with a few monstrous races. I am bringing a Half Elf Star Pact Warlock that rides a giant riding lizard. Should be good times.