Tuesday, February 3, 2009

1/31 Actual Play: Regime Change

The regular crew was in attendance:

Jay: Therryk, a dragonborn paladin
Dan: Arlarond, a human wizard
Colin: Lucan, an elven fighter
Chelsea: Ana, a half elven cleric
Jesse: Jesse, a human DM

We began the session by releasing the gnolls we interrogated last session. It was decided that we should let someone know of what we have learned, and Therryk somewhat uncharacteristically had a good idea, and we went into town to talk to Arlarond's master about it. Therryk felt that including Lord Markelhay automatically made it official, which might be bad.

The Book that the Gnolls were looking for, The Prophesies of the Orcish Crusades, was not in Lord Markelhay's library. We were able to learn a scrap of information about it, however, that guided our next few decisions. The only known translation out of the original tongue was done by an Eladrin scholar, Solitare. All roads lead to the Eladrin, so that is the next destination for our heroes.

We return to the Moonstone keep with Ana to tell her father that this plot appears to have some real substance. Instead of random marauding orcs, this looks to be an organized movement with clear goals. According to the Gnoll we interrogated, the ultimate success for the Legion of the Chimera would be the eradication of civilized peoples in the Vale.

Lord Markelhay and Kerlos are aware of some of the threat, and Kerlos was already planning on going back to the Fens to help with preparations and to discuss the situation with Fallcrest. He had made an arrangement with Lord Markelhay to allow for labor sharing in the quarries. The two communities would work together pulling stone from the earth to build fortifications. Whether the sides would later try to tear each other's fortifications down will remain to be seen.

Lord Markelhay gives his blessing to journey to the Eladrin city, and we join with Kerlos and his remaining men the next day. The swiftest method is to take a boat downriver and then cross overland through the swamps. We go to our usual boat, and find that it's captain has renamed it Dragon's Bane.

The journey takes days, and the antsy party passes time by maintaining their fighting form with the crew. Kerlos indicates when it is time for us to disembark, and we begin the overland portion of our travels. He is skilled at navigating the treacherous terrain, and the travelling is swift. Two oddities are observed during our travels. The first is odd lights that appear in the sky. We are warned by Kerlos that legend tells that the lights will steal your soul if you stare too long. The other is a shimmering curtain hanging in the air. As we approach, Kerlos tells us that they are what remains of the former beauty of the land, curtained off from the decay by some unknown means. They are rare and shrinking as time wears on. He suggests that as night is falling, it might make a good resting place.

We set up camp in the middle of this island in the muck, and appreciate the quality that allows us to see out and prevents observers from seeing through the shimmering curtain. Partway through the night we are awoken by Kerlos. One of his men scouting the area discovered a small group of goblins travelling past us. We immediately prepare for battle, despite his wish that we just follow them and discover the location of their camp.

Battle is opened with Arlarond fireballing the 5 goblins. It ends there too, as they all drop to the assault and begin sinking in the brackish water. We are able to rescue 3 of them, and bring them back to our camp to question them.

We awaken the seeming leader of the troupe, and begin to ask questions. His name is Scrag, and when he is assured that we have slain his companions (to prevent them from ratting him out for squealing) he was very forthcoming about his intentions and what he knew of the plans of his tribe.

The White Hills Goblins are native to beautiful white hills far to the West. They were directed by the legion to come to the stinking Witchlight Fens. Scrag was not happy with the decision, and was willing to help us return to his camp and possibly allow his people to return home. He holds no position of authority, but was chosen to lead the scouting group simply because of his ability to return home. They were scouting out another goblin camp, not the Eladrin city. It appeared to us that the Legion might be showing a few cracks.

Kerlos and his men took the two surviving goblins back to their city, and we followed Scrag through the swamp for the rest of the night. We began to appreciate the skill with which Kerlos led us through the region. Scrag seemed to find pits of much as deep as he was tall, and briers and brambles. After a brief confusion where we thought he might be lost, we sighted a hill in the near distance, and he pronounced us home. He assured us that showing a white flag was a sign of peace even to goblins, and that we would be given the opportunity to speak if we presented one.

Scrag led the Heroes of Fallcrest into the squalid goblin camp. Aside from a hastily build structure at the peak of the hill, the goblins were all living in tents and other makeshift shelter. Since it was early yet, he offered to let us sleep in his tent until their boss woke up. He cooked us 'soup', which was as disturbing as you can imagine, and pampered us in similar fashion until we are allowed to speak with the goblin boss.

His name is Troap, and he is rumored to be a shaman or sorcerer of great ability. We are led to the building at the top of the hill and led inside. In the corners are four goblins with blank eyes and short swords. The situation begins to fall apart rather quickly. It turns out that the White Hills goblins are led not by one chieftain, but by a few different goblins, and Troap is but one, and this is just his camp of goblins. Each leader has his own camp filled with goblins, and even if Troap were to dislike the Legion as much as Scrag, which he doesn't, he can't speak for the whole tribe.

Redemption comes with a proposition to Troap. If we eliminate the other goblins leaders and allow him to be set up as the sole Chief of the tribe, he agrees to lead them from the Fens. It is decided that we will wait in ambush for a meeting of the leaders of the tribe, and slay them all. We all grab a chain and Arlarond creates the illusion of manacles. We are led from the village by Scrag, apparently to be sold to the Gnoll slavers. In reality, we go to one of the curtained off islands and prepare for an ambush. After nearly a day waiting we are informed via an animal messenger that the meeting is set for midnight.

We set up for the ambush. Arlarond has learned a new ritual that he can ward creatures away with, so we set up with Scrag at the top of a tree, Arlarond below him, and Ana at the base, and ward the whole area against goblins attacking. His ritual is performed beautifully, and we are sure that they will be reasonably protected. Lucan and Therryk climb trees and wait, hiding, for our victims to show up.

This is after the surprise round. The Christmasy character at the top is a Hobgoblin leader who came accompanied by two skeletons. To the right is a goblin fighter with 4 retainers. The fellow in the middle is Troap, who came alone. On the left is a goblin caster with 4 gnomish slaves. Therryk was spotted right away and the surprise round had he and Lucan leaping from their perches to attack the leaders of their respective groups:
- The Hobgoblin seemed like the biggest threat so Lucan and Arlarond concentrated on him. He died quickly.
- The warding against our attackers did not protect against undead or fey, so our plan lost some of its appeal when the skeletons walked right past the black line.
- Two of the Gnomes snapped rods in two and a large monster made of muck rose from the swamp. It was a Wichlight Mire Golem.
- From his protected position Arlarond rained down his death in a more efficient fashion than normal. The goblin that Theryyk ended up fighting was accompanied by minions, and Arlarond cleaned them out quickly. He activated his flaming shroud and caught skeletons and the goblin caster who were too close for his liking.
- The caster was rough. He had an insect theme, summoning a scorpion to attack twice, and attacking our minds with visions of swarming, biting bugs.
- Lucan didn't end up straying far from where he started, either. The Hobgoblin went down, and the Golem stepped right up and went toe to toe with him the rest of the fight.
- The Golem had several nasty abilities. He could create mucky difficult terrain right underneath you, and then got a bonus to his melee attacks against enemies in difficult terrain. He went twice a round, too, which might have seemed like a good idea at first but...
- Lucan had his deadly trident aura up, and Ana summoned her Consecrated ground, meaning that twice a round they were doing automatic damage to the Golem.

- The fire shroud killed of the skeletons, and Ana sparred with the last Gnome, but the real battle was the Golem and the Goblin caster.
- Getting the Golem bloodied did not take as long as killing it, and the caster recharged his scorpion power. Ana was keeping Lucan propped up, since he was the focus of most of the hits from both of the big assailants.
- When the Golem went down the caster made a break for it, but the ongoing fire damage from the fire shroud took him down after only a couple rounds of running.

We ended there....


Once again we derailed the DM's plans pretty fiercely. Luckily this is all part of the joy of playing in a sandboxy game. Jesse handled it super without a hitch, though I think we all knew that no DM plans on his PC's entering into that kind of negotiation with a goblin tribe. That is what made it fun.

The highlight for me was Jesse statting up a Mire Golem like the Gravel Golem that I threw at them a few sessions ago. It is just that kind of internal consistency that makes a world fun to play in. Rotating DM's does not seem to be ruining this at all. If I had to guess, I'd say that we are going out of the way to include stuff from other campaigns, leading to above average internal consistency. That is just my opinion, perhaps other multi-DMed campaigns have suffered the opposite problem.

I am enjoying this chance to get to roleplay Therryk a little better. I still struggle from making him too flat in the beginning. Next level begins the deepening with my second multiclass feat, this one moving me into retraining some Warlord powers. It is 100% clear to me that paragon multiclassing is not more *powerful*, but I am more concerned about depth, at this point. I am willing to sacrifice power for utility, for sure. Strength Paladins suffer a lot with this. Take a look at what I can do right now at 5th level:
- Holy Strike - Radiant Damage
- Valiant Strike - Damage, better chance to hit

- Radiant Smite - Radiant Damage
- Staggering Smite - Damage and push

- Paladin's Judgement - Damage and heal
- Martyr's Retribution - Damage

- Martyr's Blessing - Protect an adjacent ally from damage

I understand that you could make say. . .a ranger that has little else to offer besides damage, my issue is that Strength Paladins have such a dearth of powers to choose from, and the ones they have are bland. Neither At-will has an effect. What is that about?! Bah.

Here's hoping Divine Power fixes this a bit, and that Therryk is still around to benefit from it. That's right, with all my apparent self hatred, I do like playing him, and he is useful as a damage sponge, healer, and off-striker. He has good AC, reasonable HP's considering his mediocre con, lots of surges, and does fancy damage on occasion.

I'll see if Jesse has the stats on that Golem for me to post. Colin and Chelsea took some pics, too, so maybe I'll make a second post, an update to this one later.


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