Session 10a – Endangered Frogs

Onward Heroic Flyzus with your new brutish buddy (who conveniently replace your dead, half-eaten companion) onward and don’t worry too much about your missing cannibal Halfling friend (who may eat you too one day), onward I say,  your world-shaking quest (of getting a shipment of pottery ) awaits!

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb, Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory

 

Of Preys and Predators

Flyzus and Rufb have a few days of travel across the jungle before arriving at the grung village. En route, Flyzus’ ranger senses told him many things:

  • they were being followed by 5 deinonychus
  • the raptors were first attracted by the scent of dead meat
  • a stegosaurus corpse laid nearby
  •  a giant (large) centipede was already feasting on the carcass

Thus began a complex ballet of circling around the monstrous centipede, the PCs and raptors trying to outmaneuver each other.

At one point, one raptor got too near the centipede and fled after being bitten and poisoned.

The 4 remaining raptors finally rushed the duo and a brutal fight ensued. Flyzus got severely wounded by a pouncing raptor but his new companion proved quite unabashed of the many wounds he himself sported.

A few hours later, the PCs were content to lay low when a herd of juvenile diplodocus was being pursued by 3 allosaurus.

Next, they finally arrived at the grung village which was accessible only by an arduous climb. (1)

f3a398d1615a6b6a146927a401bd2efa

Endangered Frogs

The PCs were clearly unwelcome. They soon discovered that many of the frogmen suffered from some kind of severe skin disease. Furthermore, the plague and its consequences had split the tribe into two groups, almost at war with each other.

The disease was not only fatal and highly contagious, the victims were ultimately transformed into horrible fungi-monsters. A quarantine of sort was in operation, those with advanced symptoms were sent to “The Pit”.

One group, led by Nesu the Skinless, had sent its best warriors in the hope of finding a rare medicinal plant, to cure the disease. It had been many days, things did not bode well.

The other group, led by Bufo the Mud Shaman, had benefited from having the last reserve of the cure and hoped to seize power even if it meant the death of more than half the tribe.

Needless to say, the merchant’s pottery deal was now far in the list of priority of the Grungs.

Communication between the Grungs and the PCs was problematic, until Nesu the Skinless, whom was some sort of magic-user, procured them “Speech-Fens”. They looked kinda funny with the fens on their head but at least, they could understand each other.

Flyzus and Rufb decided to help the Grungs, they would go see if they could fetch the medicinal plant. Nezu gave them a clay tablet that portrayed it. A grung named Leioppe would go with them. The only way for non-jumping folks was beneath the mountain and the only entrance, through the Pit, to reach the Forbidden City where the remedy was to be found…

DM’s notes

  1. I ditched the silly Dungrunglung location with it’s incredibly stupid scenario (ToA)

Session 9 – Firefinger

This location, the Firefinger, is from Tomb of Annihilation. I used it (almost) as is. It’s not too silly for my taste, a rarity.

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud  (1)
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Inside a dead explorer’s backpack, the PCs had found a map with scribbled notes on it, about some sort of signal tower . They had decided to look for this “Firefinger” as it wasn’t very far from their destination.

The Firefinger

Cautiously approaching the impressive structure (it didn’t look man-made), they could see two holes, entrances really, on one of its square side, with the lower one a good 60′ above ground and the other almost as high as the canopy. A flimsy rope & wood ladder dangled from a ledge, not exactly confidence-inspiring, up to the lower entrance.

A pile of corpses and a crude net-trap indicated that the place was inhabited by more than critters.

Droidoc shapeshifted into a Giant Badass Spider and rapidly climbed to the first ledge.

Varis tried the rope but fell and almost killed himself in the process (2). Hands shaking, he drank a potion of healing and hid, whimpering amidst the fens, as a pterafolk flew over.

The second attempt was more fortunate for Varis and he was joined by Flyzus on the precarious ledge soon after. Meanwhile Spider-Droidoc bullied his way through the webs of giant spiders (albeit a lot smaller than him) and found a dead explorer wrapped in a cocoon.

The PCs cleansed the level of its critters and got to the next climbing up a chimney. 9 dead stirges and another duly searched corpse later, the PCs continued their ascension.

No pity for the elderly

Level 3, above the trees, was home to 4 old pterafolks, 2 of them cooking with a fire under a large cauldron, one (badly) sculpting a piece of wood and a fourth poking something in a small makeshift cage with a stick. The whole lot noisily bickering, as the elderly are wont to do.

300px-Pterafolk-5e

The PCs attacked the frail pterafolks but that soon attracted the healthier ones from above. Two pterafolks, started flinging javelins at them from outside. Another, the apparent leader, big and scarred, clutched a wand.

With half the pterafolks dead (3), the combat was fierce but the PCs were mostly in  control despite magic missiles hurled at them many times.

And that’s when disaster struck.

A pterafolk inside the tower saw the opportunity to shove one of the wingless invader out to let him fall to his doom. Varis, the would-be victim, saw it coming but attempted a risky manoeuver, hoping that it would turn to his advantage. He failed miserably and, indeed, fell to the ground, 200′ below (4).

He died, the outlander, far, far from home.

Bittersweet victory

The wand-enthusiast leader of the pterafolks and one of his underling, both severely wounded, fled to safer skies. Flyzus and Droidoc looted the place and looted the body of their fallen comrade.

Droidoc may have eaten part of him and he may, have kept some for later.

They found an half-orc prisoner on the highest level of the Firefinger. They also found a sad, badly malnourished pseudodragon in the makeshift cage.

DM’s notes

  1. First casualty of the Ruins of Chult campaign, I’m definitely a Lenient Dm… That and also, the “pop tart effect” of 5e is very forgiving
  2. The whole climbing and falling off a ladder thing was sooo unheroic. Would have been better skipping the checks, I think.
  3. even the elder with the pestle
  4. A last check as he fell through tree branches resulted in a 1…

Session 8 – Soshenstar River

Characters:

  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora (Trickery), Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Shin, Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Corpos, High Elf Wizard (Necromancer), Archeologist; antiquary, strange fixation on the undead
  • Karolanne, High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life

My sister Marjorie joined us and played D&D for the first time since… well, the 90s I guess. Guillaume was quick to point out that the group badly needed a “tank”. That was promptly ignored as my sister chose to play another wizard, with poor constitution to boot. So the group pretty much flirt with death in every combat still, but that’s not without fun!

This time around the PCs chose to do two side quests that they could do simultaneously: kill batiri goblins for Camp Vengeance and go retrieve a lost Shield Guardian for Wakanga.

Payment promised:

  • 10 gp per batiri killed
  • 20 gp for even more dangerous kuro clan (they have specific ritual scars)
  • 50 gp for those goblin leaders: Bat Queen, Green Strangler, Mantis Warrior
  • 2000 gp for the recovery of the Shield Guardian and its amulet (can be paid in spells, for more value)

Departure

The PCs bought a canoe and left Port Nyanzaru to journey on the Soshenstar river. The first few days were rather uneventful as they passed by plantations and fishermen. They made a quick  stop at a floating market. They stayed a night at the Tanner’s Lodge, a place that offered a safe roof if you can tolerate the awful stink that goes hand in hand with leather working. Corpos bought himself a scuta leather armor.

Epic it was Not (1)

The landscape definitely less and less human-touched, the PCs got a first (modest) taste of action. A dead tree lying on the riverbank served as a nest for bloodsucking Stirges. Half a dozen were coming at them as the PCs flung mundane and magical projectiles, killing 4 in no time. A nearby Giant Dragonfly snatched the remaining two midair.

Size does matter

Next day, while they portage, the PCs were surrounded by enthusiastic velociraptors, chirping (or whatever a velociraptor does to communicate) at each other. Karolanne’s quick thinking prevented an attack, a minor illusion spell put on their canoe let it look like a Stegosaurus instead, further enhancing the fierceness of the group.

A few  hours later they come upon a broken canoe. Karolanne yet again proved her usefulness as she cast a mending spell et voilà, they now had two canoes. This would have funny implications later on as the two elven wizards got themselves on the same boat despite being total wimps…

Later, on the river once more, the PCs warily eyed a big specimen of Spinosaurus who was fortunately busy eating a big prey. The fearsome beast ignored them and they were glad for it.

walter-myers-spinosaurus-dinosaur-artwork_a-G-10038483-14258389

Reality Check

Fourth night and now in true primeval environment, the PCs had to choose on which riverbank they would spend the night. In typical player fashion, they chose neither: “lets tie our boats so that we stay on the middle of river and sleep onboard” they came up with…

Corpos, his turn to stay awake, was oblivious to the menace and didn’t see anything until he was shot on the chest by an arrow. A second poisoned arrow sent him sprawling on the bottom of the canoe, convulsing and frothing from the mouth. At least, this did awaken his companions.

Shin badly wounded one of the assailants (batiri goblins) with a bow shot of his own, but he tsoon became the target himself as 3 arrows converged on him from the jungle’s foliage, taking him down too (one critical hit).

Things started to look grim…

Fortunately, the cleric managed to stay alive and worked very hard so that his companions would too.

goblin_ambushers
Battle Brothers goblins: as vicious as they get

A fire bolt from Koralanne on the already wounded batiri sent him fleeing and Corpos  greedily finished him with a magic missile.

Two consecutive sleep spells from the evoker turned the tide of the battle in favor of the adventurers.

The whole combat took 8 rounds… 8! Against 4 goblins… (2) The shoot & hide tactics of the batiri proved to be absolutely deadly.

Helping Hand

Having survived another day (barely), the PCs saw an unusual scene as two vegepygmies standing on a dead trunk tried to help a third who had somehow fallen in the river. The PC were divided on the question of helping, particularly Shin who remembered well a bloody battle in a mine against some of these creatures. It was Corpos, necromancer do-gooder, that insisted on helping, and he proceeded to do it with a mage hand spell, which would help pull the poor vegepygmy out. It sufficed to get him out of his predicament. It was hard to tell if the rescued creature and its fellows were indeed happy with the help, but Corpos felt that he did what he had to do. (3)

This plant we shall utterly destroy

Karolanne and Lucky hastily jumped from their canoes and swam toward an irresistible scent coming from the riverbank but they shook off the lure before the deadly mantrap could eat them alive. The PCs then proceeded to bombard the slow-moving monstrous plant from afar, just to be sure.

They found a short sword and gold ring near the destroyed plant.

90ca5c8d735d1d9a5b70559c43e7f211

No no no. No!

A dimetrodon could be seen, or at least, some parts of it, dangling from a tree branch inside a web coccoon. Koralanne, obviously not a big fan of anything spidery (4), shot the damn thing with a fire bolt.

Almost instantly attracting:

1 Giant (large) Spider, 3 Giant (medium) Spiders, 2 Insect (spider) Swarms

Shin efficiently killed the 3 medium-sized spiders with a well-placed explosive arrow. Meanwhile, the mean-looking Big Spider threw a web full of (normal-sized) spiders (5) directly on Shin and Lucky’s canoe.

Another swarm quickly followed on the other canoe and then Big Spider proceeded to get herself nearer which almost provoked an instant heart attack from poor Karolanne…

The swarms were surprisingly dangerous but fragile against magic. Arrows and fire bolts were enough to kill Big Spider in the end.

Why these two together again?

This could have been avoided. Should have been avoided! But lack of heart and feeble arms meant instead, a deadly encounter (6).

11 dimetrodons got up on their beach and swam toward the PCs. Shin and Lucky easily distanced the beasts. Corpos looked like he didn’t know which end of the paddle was the handle. Karolanne was… even worst! She dropped her paddle in the river! (6)

And so combat ensued. Karolanne, at one point, unconscious, got dragged into the water to be  dimetrodon snack. She got saved in extremis by her companions (7).

End of session

DM’s notes:

  1. Just to familiarize my sister with combat rules
  2. Albeit they weren’t standard goblins, those batiri are tough mofos, having 18hp as in Jungles of Chult. Plus, they were using Fire Ant poison
  3. And got an inspiration point
  4. Here I am, making fun of my sister’s phobia, yet again!
  5. I kinda pimped the spider “boss” a little
  6. bad timing for a 1!
  7. with 2 failed death saves and 2 succeeded before the cleric could finally stabilize her

The romance of archeology: extract – V

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter Eight: Archaeology in British Isles, p 173-174

The stone huts cleared of sand are large, with ceilings as high as ten feet, but the doors are low, so that even a short man must stoop to enter. Inside a typical house were found stone tables, stone cupboard shelves, a fireplace, and scattered household articles of a seaside home of the Stone Age — bone laddles, drinking cups of whalebone, simple earthenware dishes, and polished stone axe-heads. in addition there were beads and amulets of walrus ivory, which the fishermen and their dark-haired wives wore to set off their costumes of animal skins or to ward off evil. An unexpected discovery was that huts were connected by a network of indoor streets made of roofed-over stone passages. The untidy villagers cast kitchen refuse on the roofs of these indoor streets, and at times even built campfire there and cooked their meals.

In the corner of one cottage the archaeologists discovered a mysterious grave containing two skeletons. These appear to be not the remains of inhabitants of the stone house but victims entombed by some gruesome rite when the house was built. Barbarians elsewhere have been known to sacrifice a victim at the foundation of a new building in order to confer a magic stability upon its walls. The meaning of the burials is carved in plain view on a slab in front of the grave; but the marks have defied modern scholarship. They are like, and yet unlike, runic letters.

Magic Items for Halloween!

Handbag of the Crawling Hand

Wondrous Item, uncommon (requires attunement)

This bag can holdup 40 pounds, not exceeding a volume of 2 cubic feet. Inside is a (undead) crawling hand that helps you by retrieving any item in the bag without the need to use an action. If the bag is ever damaged beyond repair, the crawling hand exits the bag and attacks the nearest target.

Slimy Padded Vest of Ooze Summoning

Armor (Padded), very rare (requires attunement)

+2 leather armor.  In addition, you have advantage on Strength (athletics or acrobatics) checks to escape a grapple.

Each time you have lost 22 hit points (cumulative) while wearing this armor,  a gray ooze appears 5′ from you and is under your control until next dawn (and then liquefy). You can have up to 4 oozes under your control at the same time.

Hand Wraps of the Grave

Wondrous Item, very rare (requires attunement)

You gain + 1 to attack and damage rolls made with an unarmed melee attack. In addition, each time you hit the target takes another 1d4 cold damage.

This item has 5 charges. You can spend one charge to cast Chill Touch. To regain all expanded charges you must put the Wraps of the Grave on a dead body for one night.

Grave-cured Tobacco

John-constantine

Expandable Item, uncommon

Air-dried in the long disused Best Forgotten massgrave, grave-cured tobacco is smoked mostly by the Vestige residents for its vaunted power of warding evil spirits, useful in this sad neighborhood. Outside of the Vestige few folks, except perhaps those with an intense superstitious inclination, feel the need to pay its steep cost.

Effects:

  • Undead have disadvantage on attack vs smoker for 10 minutes
  • Blowing smoke at an undead (5′), as a bonus action, triggers a frightened effect (wisdom, DC 13)

Average price: 5sp for 12 uses

The romance of archeology: extract – IV

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 5: The Glorious Past of Hellas, p107-108

In the argolid, on a mountain spur 912 feet high, Schliemann in 1876 first found a double ring (87 feet in diameter) of stone slabs. Twenty-three feet below the surface he came upon the first of five graves. In it and the others (a sixth grave was discovered later) were found face masks of solid gold, bracelets, rings, daggers (sixty swords and daggers in one tomb), ivory, amber, silver, bronze, alabaster, diadems, pendants, grasshopers of gold with chains of gold wherewith the royal ladies attached them as ornaments on their dresses or in their hair; more than seven hundred ornaments in all. Nothing to equal this had ever been found before. Small wonder, it is not, that the world got into training for an archeological race?

The romance of archeology: extract – III

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 3: Glamor of the Gift of the Nile, p67

Reisner believed  from the first that he had discovered, not a burial, but a reburial. Pharaoh Sneferu had made a tomb for his queen Hetepheres near his own pyramid at Dahshur. Sneferu died and was entombed. When Hetepheres died, her son Cheops placed her mummy in the prepared tomb, as is proved by inscriptions. Thieves broke into Queen Hetepheres’ tomb, but were discovered, and of course killed, before much treasure, if any, had been carried away. Cheops, seemingly, was having a secret tomb prepared near his own pyramid, but did not wait for its completion, but removed his mother to it at once.

Inside the tomb chamber was a marble sarcophagus, over which lay a number of faïence-inlaid sheets of gold. On the floor were several chairs overlaid with gold, and a set of eight marvelous toilet jars of alabaster. on what was left of a palanquin and bed were four identical inscriptions which, when translated, say: “the mother of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Follower of Horus, the guide of the ruler, the favorite one whose every word is done for her, the daughter of the god of his body, Hetepheres. ” Inside a gold-encased box […] containing deben rings, ” were found two sets of ten anklets. These rings for the legs are inlaid with dragon flies of malachite, lapis lazuli, and red carnelian. They are of different diameters, graduated in size to fit the leg. On the floor also were discovered three cups of gold, two gold and five copper razors, three gold and four copper knives, as well as several flint knives and many pieces of pottery and alabaster. To the dismay of the excavators, when the lid of the sarcophagus was raised, no mummy was inside. It must have been hidden somewhere else.