Monday, January 12, 2009

1/12 Actual Play: Kill, Kill, Kill

We were one short this session, but Colin played Ana along with Lucan, so we still had 5 characters:

Jay, playing Therryk the Dragonborn Paladin and DMing
Dan, playing Arlarond the Human Wizard
Jesse, playing Halma the Human Rogue
Colin, playing Lucan the Elven Fighter and Ana the Half Elven Cleric

As I mentioned before, the fight was barely won by the PC's and they found a good place to camp for the night. Ana was feeling the pain of repeated focused attacks by the Ettercaps, and was a little woozy when Arlarond's Eyes of Alarm began repeating

"Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning...."

Waking to the alarm, the four heard the creak of a wagon approaching. The dim glow of a lantern appeared and the party hid, preparing to spring an ambush.

They were taken aback when they recognized their horse. . .pulling their wagon. Lucan stepped from the shadows, and greeted the driver. It was the captain of their hired ship from earlier. He had heard that the party left with a different crew, and had his ship moved down the falls so that he could take over the duty of ferrying them down the river. He spied the small boat tied up at the bank and sent it back to Fallcrest.

While the party appreciated the gesture, they did not feel that they needed the help. . .at least right now. Lucan volunteered to escort the captain back, and the party all crawled back in their bedrolls.

A few hours later, with Therryk on watch, the three sleeping party members were shaken awake. It was just before dawn, and Therryk had heard something sneaking up from the Southeast. The party had just begun to explore what it might be, when two beefy goblins with battleaxes stumbled into the clearing.
- This fight was a wizard's dream. 2 melee goblins, 2 sharpshooters, 1 hexer, and 12 minions.
- The sharpshooters attempted to stay at range where they had better skill at hitting the party, but Halma closed with them. He enjoys shutting down the ranged element, and did a super job this fight.
- Arlarond's staff rained flame down, missing his allies but scorching all of the goblins within sight of him. Most of the minions dropped dead.
- Lucan and Therryk had the goblins with axes locked down, until both of them maneuvered to flank Therryk and hacked him down, unconscious (2 crits!)
- Ana spent much of her time healing us back up, as the goblins whittled us down.
- The hexer maintained a large area of the battlefield with a thick cloud that hampered melee combat. Unfortunately, with the battle the way it was, most of the damage was being done in other ways.
- Still untouched, the hexer attempted to retreat after the last of the minions and axe wielding goblins dropped. Halma had kept the sharpshooters mostly out of it, and with the goblin's front lines gone, the party quickly overwhelmed and slaughtered them.

More loot was found, and the party decided that the night was over, so they may as well adventure on. Lucan returned shortly after the party struck camp, and they resumed following the wagon tracks East.

After a couple more hours of walking, the party saw a ruin in the distance, and snuck up on a collapsed settlement. Too small to be self sustaining, the stone ruin was most likely an outpost or monastery of some kind. Anymore it was swallowed up by the forest, with thick undergrowth coming right up to the edges of the buildings. The wagon tracks entered the ruin, and they found the empty wagon inside an old building.

Halma did some initial sneaking, and saw that there were a few humanoids lounged in a nearby building. The largest one in the settlement, at some point a large statue or obelisk had collapsed, taking out the majority of the West wall. The roofs of all of these buildings had been destroyed, meaning that the only shelter was to be had in this two story building, as the second story floor protected the lower level from the elements.

Halma climbed onto the second floor and hid, while Ana attempted to parley with them. Hostile from the beginning, the ruffians became more dangerous when it appeared that one of the dragonborn recognized her. All attempts at diplomacy collapsed and cowboy diplomacy ensued.
- 2 Dragonborn Soldiers and 3 Dwarven Bolters faced the party.
- The Soldiers were able to pin the party between a wall and the rubble of the collapsed wall for a few rounds, and the dwarves were able to hit very well.
- Halma dropped down behind one of the soldiers and Lucan charged in. Lucan is very good at moving enemies around and the Soldiers were now the ones pinned in the corner of the room by Lucan, Halma, and the terrain.
- Once Therryk was able to get in on the fight, Halma was able to disengage to attack the dwarves. They had scattered due to an earlier cold attack from Arlarond.
- It was down to two of the dwarves hiding in a storage room, and Arlarond hit them with a less powerful blast of ice, but this one knocked a dwarf down and coated the area in ice. That was the end for them, and the encounter ended.

Searching the storage room, the party found trade goods consistent with what they were looking for. They found some magic items and art objects on the bandits. Halma tied up two of them, a dragonborn and a dwarf, and when he attempted to move them into the rubble something caught his eye. A long overlooked vault that must have been inside the statue. He pried the lid off, and the chest inside held a king's ransom in residuum.

It was decided to send an animal messenger to the crew of their ship and have them bring the wagon. With the wagon loaded with goods and two groggy criminals, the party settled down in the best defensible position around, the bandit hideout they had just cleared out.

The wagon made it's way back to the boat, and the party settled down to wait and relax. Halma, from his position on the second floor, had only a second to warn the party of the approaching orcs before they burst into the ruin. Leading the charge was an 800 lb boar:
- Unfortunately, due to the layout of the party at the time, the boar was able to charge in and attack Ana and Arlarond, the two squishiest members of the party.
- Following them were two orcs with axes, and two more with a brace of handaxes at their waist.
- The whole fight was a condensed mess in the building, with almost all participants crowding in right around the boar, either to hit it, or on the orcs side, to hit the party that had come to hit the boar.
- Without room to charge and gore, it's preferred maneuver, the boar had to shuffle back 5 feet at a time, and charge. He was able to do this only once before the concentrated fire took him down.
- The big orcs were the real threat anyways, and once they were bloodied their battle rage began to inflict some serious damage on the party.
- Once again Halma moved to intercept the ranged element, only to discover that they were just as effective, if not more so, while in melee. Luckily the rest of the party joined him a round or so after they entered melee combat with him
- Another victory for the party, and more gear for them to use.

At this point they were pretty badly beaten, and when the empty wagon returned they elected to remain there over night to nurse their wounds and prepare for more battle. They were surprisingly unmolested all night, and with Ana's knowledge of where to go, they intercepted an old road that wound through the quarries in the area.

It was a beautiful fall day, the party was riding in the back of their wagon, low hills all around, and then something had to go and ruin it all. Of course.

The old road was rounding a bend to the left, and appeared to end in a large quarry with a run down shack. Something was out of place, the party noticed immediately. In the smaller quarries that the party had already passed, nature had reclaimed them to some degree. While the square blocky cuts made to remove stone cannot be erased so quickly, the vegetation had returned in all other cases.

The bare stone was their only warning, as the wagon pierced the illusory bubble protecting the quarry and the party was witness to chaos. A teleportation circle near the wagon was flocked to by a host of people. At first the party could easily mistake them for elves and halflings, but they didn't look quite right. It was Eladrin and Gnomes, working together at the quarry.

With the advance notice that the party was arriving, the squatters at the quarry had made preparations. A handful of Gnomes rushed towards the party, led by two that had rods. As they entered the gravelly region near the road, they snapped the rods in two, and a large creature made of gravel and stone rose almost immediately from the rubble. Riding on his shoulders were the two gnomes, and they controlled him with the rods that were sticking from his body. The rest of the gnomes disappeared in a glamour created by a gnomish wizard, and the golem rushed the party:
- The party had half a mind to talk their way out of combat, but it was clear they would not be allowed the chance.
- It was obvious to everyone that the golem was the real threat, and everyone focused on him. . .except for Halma, who made his way to the other side of the battlefield to combat the wizard and the three other gnomes that had disappeared.
- The golem got to go twice a round, on account of him having two controllers, and he proved his deadliness by unleashing an avalanche on the party, leaving the area covered in debris and badly hurting those caught in the area.
- The other gnomes were much less powerful than the party, and served mostly as a distraction. Upon breaking their hide to attack, they were opened up to much killing by Halma
- It took only a few rounds to bloody the golem, which was signalled by a blow from Lucan killing the gnome nearest him.
- The golem managed to put some serious hurt on the party before it died, bet even then, it was almost to single digit hit points before anyone found out it had reach. They had swarmed it so quickly.
- Arlarond was the one to do the deed, blasting the second gnome from his perch on the shoulder of the gnome with a magic missile.

We stopped there, as any further exploration of the quarry was likely to initiate another encounter...

So, as predicted by my, I was a bit rusty. I didn't have much creative drive this time at all, and so to me it felt like a series of combats. No real roleplay. In fact, it was so combat heavy we blew through 4 encounters. That is double what I was expecting.

With Chelsea gone, I thought to bring the wagon along. Ana could remain in the wagon while the party did their thing and no oddity would have to occur next week to bring her back to the party. Colin had just planned on playing her as well, so the arrival of the wagon was a bit awkward.

My idea with this sandbox is to have encounters related to the adventure, and encounters that I would put in when I felt they would be. . .entertaining. Or relevant. They are random encounters without the random aspect that I dislike. At this point the party has fought all of the random encounters, and there is only one story encounter remaining. Amazing what skipping all roleplaying will do for the encounters per session ratio. We were at something like 2:1, I'd guess. so four is. . .out there.

Hopefully next week, with the resolution to two 'quests' to get through and a major battle, we will get some good combat and roleplay both, and everyone will have fun.

The Gravel Golem was an invention of mine for this combat. I had toyed with the idea of a de-leveled bulette, but the de-leveling left it weak. I attempted to build a bulette with the creature creation rules in the DMG but didn't really like it. I present the gravel golem to you, warts and all:

Gravel Golem Level 6 Elite Brute
Large Fey Animate XP 500
Initiative +5 Senses Perception +6
HP 172; Bloodied 86
AC 19; Fortitude 21, Reflex 17, Will 18
Immune Disease, Poison
Saving Throws +2
Speed 6
Action Points 1
M Swat (Standard; at-will)
Reach 2
Target: One creature
+9 vs AC 1d6+4 damage and push 1 square
Bloodied damage: 1d10+4
R Boulder (Standard; at-will)
Ranged 5 Burst 1
Target: Each creature in burst
+7 vs Ref 1d6+4 damage
Bloodied damage: 1d10+4
c Avalanche (Standard; recharge 6)
Close blast 3
Target: Each creature in blast
+7 vs Reflex 3d6+4 damage, 1/2 damage on a miss
Bloodied damage: 3d8+4, 1/2 damage on a miss
Effect: The area is difficult terrain for the rest of the encounter
Double Actions
A Gravel Golem rolls initiative twice, gets two turns during a round, and has a full set of actions (standard, move, minor) on each turn. Each set of actions corresponds to a different Gnome. The Golem's ability to take immediate actions refreshes on each of it's turns.
Bloodied Fury
A Gnome is killed when the Gravel Golem is bloodied and the Golem only has one turn each round for the remainder of the encounter. In addition, each of the Golem's attacks now do the bloodied damage.
Alignment Unaligned Languages
Str 20 (+8) Dex 14 (+5) Wis 16 (+6)
Con 16 (+6) Int 3 (-1) Cha 7 (+1)

I really liked how he performed, very brutish. He did not hit a whole lot and was a pretty big and easy target in turn. The one alteration I made while running it. . .and regretted it. . .was that I did not take away his second action once he was bloodied. I felt that they had bloodied him so fast, that he would not be worth his status as an Elite if I did that. Colin asked about it once the session was over, and it would have been a cool thing had I done it. Thinking about this later, giving him tremorsense should have been obvious. Starting him further from the party would be a good idea, too, allowing him to use more than just his basic melee attack.

Next week we finish my adventure and hit 5th level. The rest of the session will be character creation for a Star Trek one shot that Dan wants to run. We are planning on using the FATE system, which I have not used before. Should be interesting.


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