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.


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