Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Curse of the Crimson Throne 9: Saved by the beets

As always, there will be spoilers.

Saul - Bard
Torg - Fighter
Saturnine - Sorcerer
Veegor - Barbarian
Lars - Paladin
Raiche - Avenger

We began where we left off, with Lars opening a door in the basement of the clinic.

Okay, I forgot to take pictures until the end of the session, and was not really able to sit down to write this thing *last* week, when it was still new. So, some things are gonna be a little sparse. Sorry.

In the basement we run into Lars and Saul. They had beat us down here. . .somehow. The next room is full of more patients. These don't appear to have the plague, instead they look like they were unconscious, but perfectly healthy. At the end of the room two doctors hover over two patients with daggers raised. Their implication is clear. If we enter, they will try and kill their hostages.

Of course we enter, because we are heroes, and the doctors go down fast. A couple of Gray Maidens try and stop us, but we defeat them as well.

We burst into the office at the end of the room and confront its occupant, Doctor Davaulos. He and a few more of his Doctor cronies put up a weak fight, but we defeated them. Of course, since it is our Modus Operandi, we kept him alive.

We discovered that he was holding a lever that operated a lift on this floor, linking it to a second basement. This basement was decorated in a horrible, torture, disease, undead motif. We encountered some priests who had evidently heard us coming and prepared. Again, we didn't have too difficult of a time defeating them, and kept one alive to interrogate.

We did some more exploring. There was a room with glass walls and a glass floor with zombies or skeletons trapped behind it. We deduced that it was an attempt at art.

The final fight was a bit more challenging. We opened the outer door to a room, but discovered that the inner door was ice cold. The last time we had encountered this we fought chillborn zombies. We would have had a tougher time then, but we had a good controller. This time, we had no controller.

The fight began with Raiche using a power that allowed him to teleport into an unseen room with a nova of energy. He was almost immediately overwhelmed and dropped. The rest of us burst in. . .kinda. Besides the three chillborn zombies, there were three vampires.

The vampires clustered in the corner and did their vampire thing, while the zombies ran interference and made it tough to get to their masters. Saturnine, with resist cold 5, is immune to their aura, but too squishy to just run by the zombies to get the vampires. It was a tough fight. In a twist on the usual, the final vampire stopped fighting and we chatted with him.

He was amoral, but not needlessly cruel, and revealed that he was working with the queen's physicians to develop a cure. Their goal was to find a cure, and then use it to make the disease more virulent. He was nearly finished anyhow, and was just missing a key ingredient. It seems that in its current form, the victim would likely not survive the treatment. Add beets, however (beets featured in a session I missed. Apparently an old perfume maker was using beets in a hoax cure, and that was also the missing ingredient in the real cure).


That was most of it. We discovered that the cultists, the queen's physicians, and a group of vampires were behind the plague. Who would have guessed *that*? The cultists were using a plague demon, imprisoned in glass, and distributing its filth to infect people. The vampires were working on this cure to help make the disease worse, and the doctors were the face of the operation, tracking down immune people and doing their hideous experiments on them.

We let the vampire go in exchange for his help. If you can't tell, most of the group is unaligned. One of the prisoners (the cultist) had his eyes stabbed out, and died due to massive soul loss. In character, we don't know why. Out of character, Saturnine did it. We brought Field Marshall Kroft in to clean up, and relayed all that we had learned, omitting the deal with the vampire. She brought us back to the Citadel, and showed us a gift from the spirit of Beor. . .magic items.

From beyond the grave Beor had felt our need of moar crit damage, and we each chose a magic item, our first and only magic item in this campaign. We got our standard between-book email, that told how even though we had significant evidence against the queen, we could not move against her. She dissolved one of the guard organizations in the city to make room for her own, the Gray Maidens, headed by her companion. The guard is pretty whimpy now. During the ceremony transferring power to the new commander of the Gray Maidens, the old Sable Company commander shot the queen in the head with a crossbow. Nonplussed, she yanked it out and drove it through his head.

This city is messed the hell up, and the module will keep us here until we have been sufficiently tentacle raped. I'm glad I play a warforged.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Curse of the Crimson Throne 8: It gets deadly.

Spoilers past this point.

We were short a bit this session:
Lars, Kalashtar Paladin(Jesse)
Renn, Gnome Illusionist (Jay)
Kilhan, Eladrin Cleric (Rob)
Raiche, Elven Avenger (Mike)
Saturnine, Tiefling Sorcerer (Scott)
Dan DMing, we were all 7th level for this session.

Last session (which I missed) they had done some investigation and ended up in a playhouse of some kind. My character joined them, and we began poking around, looking for some hints or clues about this plague (or zombies? I'm not sure...)

On the ground floor we found some strange things. In one room several zombies stomped around in a rough approximation of ballroom dancing. They did not seem to be bothered by our peeping, and we left them to it. Another room had one zombie on a stage. He mumbled some zombie speak (mumbmlbmblbbrainsbrainsmubmblb) and several others watched him. At intervals they clapped for no apparent reason.

Leaving this creepiness aside we climbed the stairs to the second floor. Here there were some more zombies dancing. We could feel the blast of their cold aura from the stairs. It was an ominous sign. As soon as we stepped foot in the room combat started.

It was brutal. Chillborn Zombies have an aura 2 cold effect that stacks with itself. If you are in 1 aura, 5 cold damage. In 5 auras? 25 damage, just for starting your turn. It triggers if you move into it or start your turn, so even passing through got deadly. Early combat looked like this:

That diagonal line of mobs was our death warrant. The dwarf mini and the gnoll are both zombies as well. Six of them versus us, and those overlapping cold auras.

I should point out that 4 of the 5 of us were currently suffering from the effects of plague. Some had reduced surges, but the worst were down to no surges and a -2 to all d20 rolls. A couple folks had been putting off taking a rest since rests were when the DM called for endurance rolls. So we were down in power, and in healing, and short a striker and a leader. All would have meant a tough fight, if not a TPK.

The turning point was Visions of Avarice, and after a round or two the battlefield looked like this:
All of the zombies pulled and immobilized to the far side of the room. Now the auras were more of a deterrent from approaching them. They had no ranged attack. The sole ranged attacker was an invisible Gnome Bard that unveiled herself midway through the fight.

What made this mess even more of a turnaround was our Sorcerer. Saturnine is a Dragon Sorcerer, and his energy resistance is Cold. Since each of those auras is 5 damage, he was immune to their effects. Between his fire damage, and the cleric's radiant damage, the fight began to turn.

Kilhan took 4 of them out at once by moving close and calling down a divine prayer that hit the group. The death burst from one of them triggered the burst from another, and so on, until 4 lie dead. Unfortunately, Saturnine was in the area and his resist 5 cold was not quite enough to keep him up. Honestly without that he would have been killed outright by the explosion. Kilhan was able to heal him up right away, after some persuasion by the party.

We won, but barely. Saturnine wanted the Gnome kept alive, so Raiche turned his blade at the last moment and knocked her out. Renn sat down in the corner to take a short rest and died.

It was an interesting moment, because not everyone was paying attention (end of battle, folks were talking among themselves about what to do, rolling perceptions, things like that) but I think it was kind of a shock to most. Nobody expects an ally to just fade out during a rest. Once everyone was done with their post fight rituals, Lars carried Renn's body out, and the Gnome prisoner was taken to the temple for interrogation. Saturnine asked to talk with her alone for a moment, and ended up getting quite a lot of information that we could use to take our next step in figuing this disease riddle out.

The party was interrupted by a loud knocking on the door. When they opened it, a metal man greeted them, and claimed to have the memories of their fallen comrade, Renn. Cue new PC intro. After some confusing back and forth, the party decided that he was above board and he accompanied them on their next mission.

Torg, Warforged Fighter (Jay)

The information that Saturnine got from the Bard led us to a clinic. The Doctors brought to Korvosa by the Queen were looking for someone that seemed immune to the plague. According to our source, they had such a person in a clinic across town. Of course, we went there.

During the session that I missed we had somehow found a doctor's mask and regalia. Our cleric, Kilhan, had been wearing it, and we used it as a convincing ruse to gain entry into the clinic. Unfortunately, the receptionist would only let him through.

While the rest of us twiddled our thumbs, Kilhan explored the clinic. A large open warehouse held rows of cots, all occupied by plague carriers. Doctors administered to them, and when one drew some blood and headed to a rear door, Kilhan followed. When he lost sight of the Doctor, he opened a door at random.

He chose poorly. The room he entered was a guard room, and inside one solitary Gray Maiden was gearing up. He surprised her as she had on her greaves, and nothing above her waist. She seemed irritated. Kilhan, maybe forgetting that he was scoping the place out, maybe not recalling that the person we were looking for did not match her description, maybe blinded by bare boobies, told her to come with him

Yeah. While he was exploring, Lars tried to pry clues out of the receptionist. What the conditions of the sick were like, who brought them in, things like that. He was failing at that when Kilhan brought his prize back out to the front. She had paused to throw on a tunic, at least, but was still irritated. Many failed attempts at lies and confusion about what was going on led to her turning on her heel and leaving, back inside the clinic. Kilhan followed her. Torg followed Kilhan.

The Gray Maidens guarding the door were fast. The oddities were piling up, but a big, armed and armored thing pushing past the receptionist and into the clinic was enough for them. Combat was on.

I'm sure Scott would like it known that he was against it. Against all of it. Retroactively, we should have let someone else, someone with better people skills, impersonate the Doctor. Perhaps the Paladin Private Investigator?! But with Torg quickly surrounded, and his allies all leaping to the battle, after a round or two of hesitation Saturnine joined in.

Raiche had gotten bored waiting and went looking around the building for other ways in. He was in the back when he heard the fight start up, and used a sweet Avenger power to phase through the wall and right into battle. The fight could have been hairy, because of all the patients around and the fact that we were not at 100% effectiveness due to disease, but we did well. The Maidens had a funky ability that lessened the effect of healing, but we managed to not run into it at all, and took them all out.

During the fight, the Doctors all withdrew and ran to the back door. When it was obvious that we were going to win, Lars took off after them. He followed them down some stairs, and stopped at the door. . .end of session, with a cliffhanger even!


Beor died too. While Dan ran the game he had his PC back with the guard, and kept making rolls for him.

I am kind of torn about things like this. I did not mind Renn dying, as much as I enjoyed playing him. PC's are mortal, and they will eventually die if you keep taking risks. It is just a less than heroic thing to be killed by disease, and out of combat. Anyhow, I also like my new PC, so that lessens the sting somewhat.

I hate pointing out when I personally have a good moment, since I feel it shows that i am biased. I can't avoid it though, Visions of Avarice saved that fight. The zombies were swarming us, our options were: 1) Die 2) Back down the stairs to try a bottleneck (and aggro more zombies) 3) Something that changes the battle. We got a 3, luckily. I do kind of like that Renn's absolute final act was to keep that spell going so the party could survive.

I glossed over some of the middle roleplaying between fights. We healed Field Marshall Kroft of the plague, spent time at the temple, other stuff.

And the final fight was a disaster. Kilhan did about the weirdest thing possible. He went in to find signs of this immune girl (we had a description). He looked around, found a topless chick, and grabbed her. As a party, we didn't really do well when he brought her back. His goal was to take her away from there and interrogate her, but the bluff checks to try that were horrible. I'm sure there is a way we could have gotten what we needed without killing, but when the diplomacy dice fail you, you take what's left.

Next session, resolving Lars' action.

Also, our campaign blog is here, if anyone is interested. Right now it is mostly character bios.