Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AP: In this session, amourphous blobs

A full house this time, all six players and our patient DM...

Senzimay (Eladrin Wizard 4) - Has been at times a zombie follower and make out buddy for Phaedra, or sitting in a library staring into space. She snapped out of it and summoned a spectral steed to catch up with us, citing a 'premonition'.

Jasper (Gnome Wizard\Warlock 4) - Continued his dimensional experimentation, but with much less success this time. I think we have the Mournland to thank for that, and if things get hairy it might become a legitimate option for those of us frightened by his power.

Hogorth (Eladrin Fighter\Warlord 4) - Continued his ineffective, draw-no-DM-attention playing by mainly pissing off the party and scooting things around.

Phaedra (Elf Cleric 4) - In the Mournlands is just a 'crappy wizard' with magical healing nerfed (or so we thought!). In addition to that, Resist 5 Radiant popped up, meaning she had to work a little harder to be awesome this time. We appreciated the effort.

Paulic (Elf Ranger 4) - Our dedicated tracker this session. Also wins the Gold Star Award for best massive damage of the day. We salute you, Paulic. Take this coupon for a small fry at your nearest Burger King with our congratulations.

Arashi (Genasi Swordmage 4) - Keen Arcane knowledge (in a party with 2 wizards even) combined with lightning tinged ancestry made him our early warning system for the storms of magical energy. Also, he swung his sword at a lot of things, and even hit some of them.

Last session we ended with the supremely dubious decision to walk into the Mournlands or our own free will. Our DM let slip at one point this session that we were possibly a little out of our league in here, and gave us a boost by giving us a Milestone after every encounter. I believe he called it 'giving it everything you've got'. It meant that nobody was shy about spending their action points.

We also got a moment of infodump/exposition. Since last session Jesse had prepared for us going on any number of quests, he had not fully fleshed out the details of what we were doing in the Mournlands. In a bit of a retcon, we learned the following:
- The Artifact was last known to be in the town of Thrace, in the possession of the wizard Alomar
- Alomar was a retired wizard doing research for the state. Part of his research involved this artifact
- At the time of the Day of Mourning, Alomar had the artifact.
- A team of adventurers failed to retrieve this artifact for Mord about a month ago
- The team was led by a Paladin of the Silver Flame (Mord's religion) named Lydia.
- Our mission is to discover the fate of the team, and to complete their mission.

We got down to the business of tracking and finding the team. Right away we stumbled across their trail (or we assume it is their trail, the Mournlands don't always play fair). It headed in the direction we thought it should, towards a road that led toward the town that was our goal (nice, right?), so we followed it.

Around this time, Arashi began pointing out strange storms in the sky ahead of us. Small stormlets that we could easily avoid. He also pointed out the large, malevolent one closing in behind us. Hasted by this development, we hustled along until we encountered one of the oddities of the Mournland.

A field of grain (we assume wheat) blocked the path. Arashi examined it, and confirmed it was. . .strange. It leaked a fluid, and it appeared to be made of stone. With effort, he broke off one of the heads, and kept it in a pouch.

Of course, Scooby Doo time was allowing our nemesis, the rapidly congealing storm, to catch up, and we had to suck up our fear and just plow through the field. We survived.

We picked up the trail, and followed it as it veered towards a half-standing barn and half-demolished farmhouse. In the land around the derelict structures were several corpses. Paulic determined that whomever we were tracking stopped here and examined the corpses, then remounted their horses and continued on their way. In an effort to stay ahead of the storm, we did too.

A few hundred yards later, at our best forced marching speed, we realize it will not be enough. We have already seen this storm change course to follow us, and we watched it condense down from a large amorphous blob (see the title!) into a smaller, tentacley amorphous blob. Enough running from our problems, it was time to take a stand. We did so:
- The thing descended and through some quick arcane studying it was identified as a Living Spell. Specifically a Living Color Spray.
- In the early rounds, Senzimay summons her Fire Warrior (a bird), Arashi marks it and whiffs a few times, Paulic Quarrys and Twin Strikes, Jasper Curses, and we feel the thing out.
- Once a round when we hit it, the Spell buds off a smaller version of itself. These minions do random damage when they hit, and have another random effect when they die. The Spell demonstrates its. . .annoying nature when it shifts something like 6 squares and makes an attack to daze everything it shifted through.
- This is kind of the low point for Phaedra. We were under the assumption that magical healing was impossible in the Mournlands. She is our healer. On top of that, this spell had resist 5 radiant. A quick glance through her power cards did not seem to help her there. Jesse reminded us that he had never said that we could not heal. Jessica, trying not to metagame, used a healing word on the bloodied Arashi. . .and it worked. Somewhat. Bloodied characters only healed half. This, coupled with the fact that her Lance of Faith us superpowered, doing Striker level damage for like 1d8+10, made the resistance a non-issue.
- Senzimay also gets a boost, when we remember that her conjuration can flank, and she is reminded that even though she has a Fire Warrior summoned, she can use other spells. The Flame Striking of minions commences.
- Many rounds of combat pass, and we eventually bloody the spell. We know this because it splits in two at that point. Each one also buds off a minion when hit. This solo fight has turned into a full on mass battle.

- Paulic (who let us know he has been studying his power cards) opts to use his Daily. . .Split the Tree. It is at this point that we find out that the split creature has a shared HP pool. Paulic crits on one of his rolls. Split the Tree (for those in the dark) has you choose two targets, and make two rolls. You apply the higher of the two rolls to both targets. Since one was a crit, both are crits. He then spends an action point and shoots again. All told, he deals 75 points of damage in one round. Let that sink in. That is enough damage to kill any of us. From full HP to dead in one round. Freaking amazing.
- Hogorth starts kiting one of the spells away from the group. Aiming to keep them apart and allow the party to focus fire. This works for like, two rounds before the spell just flies away. Hybrid Fighters are not, by default, sticky at all. Plus, the party did not seem to approve of my 'helping'.
- Phaedra pulls out her Opportunity Action Guy (multiclass Shaman) and casts 'Bacon of Hope', which is predictably delicious and manages to hit both big spells.
- Jasper is given plenty of opportunity to show of his awesomely powerful Thunderwave, and between he and Senzimay the minions are kept from totally overwhelming us.
- Someone, and this record does not indicate who, kills the spell. In a final, loving gesture, it explodes and takes its minions with it, damaging us one last time.

That was the first blob of the night. We continued on, since it was still like, mid morning and we had a three day hike in front of us. The trail we followed eventually merged with the road, and due to the messed up nature of the Mournlands, we lost the track because the road appeared well traveled. Of course, the road *could* be well traveled, but we didn't assume that to be the case just yet.

After some tense moments skirting around a dozen Warforged we guessed to be followers of The Lord of Blades (the racist messiah of Warforged everywhere), we came upon our second true challenge of the evening.

Paulic spotted a figure in the distance. After carefully sneaking up on it, he guessed that the figure was humanoid. . .and petrified. Or a well made statue. But this is D&D, what do you think the players thought?

Sure enough, a Beholder hovered around the edge of the odd terrain and Paulic knew he was spotted...
- Thus began our second encounter of the night, the skill challenge. Jesse judged this enemy to be far above our current abilities (15th level solo with 740 HP. . .Paulic's crit for 75 seems a little less majestic against those numbers).
- The skill challenge was to escape with our lives. We all got a handout that indicated the allowed primary and secondary skills, the DC's, and the penalties for failure.
- In addition to the regular skill challenge, we had another goal, Escape to Thrace. In an added wrinkle, besides the 4 individual successes before 4 failures, we had to make a series of more difficult Nature checks to avoid being lost. Each successive test improved our chances of getting away and making it to Thrace.
- It went wonderfully. Tough to narrate. We went in initiative order. On a success, nothing happened. . .we just got our cookie. On a failure, we either got tripped up by the alien terrain, or got blasted by one of the eye rays.

We ended with everyone getting away safely. The remainder of the journey to Thrace will probably be dealt with narratively (emails or forum postings this week) so next week. . .answers! action! adventure!
Very nice session. The solo fight was anything but solo, with the splitting at times there were probably 6-10 enemies on the map. It kind of made it a more dynamic fight than if it were just 1 thing.
The skill challenge was very well put together. I am going to ask Jesse if he has the file he typed it up in, I'd post it here if he did. The best or one of the best skill challenges I've done.
The Mournlands are weird. That is all.

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