Session 11 – The Hanged Man

Characters:

  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora (Trickery Domain), Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Phileas, Half-Elf Bard (College of Swords), Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Corpos, High Elf Wizard (School of Necromancy) , Archeologist; antiquary, strange fixation with the undead

Short session. Sadly, both my brother and sister couldn’t make it. That changed my plans. That, and we started awfully late. It is what it is…

Reinforcement

Corpos and Lucky were recuperating from their previous ordeals inside the ruined Camp Righteous when a supply convoy heading to Camp Vengeance made a quick stop. They were happy to see Phileas disembark to join them. The half-elf was spying on the Pick & Axe Company and had a few intel bits to share.

Also, Corpos, anticipating the difficulties ahead, managed to hire a fearsome-looking Chultan named Goro-T’so (1) with promises of gold and tej.

The Canopy Drummers

As to be expected in Batiri territory, the PCs saw that they were tailed by goblin hunters, with trained velociraptors.

1ab54a2a65be70113e7739713818d3cee

With Tymora’s opportune help, Lucky managed to spot more batiri ambushers further ahead. Acting on this knowledge the PCs started the hostilities before the trap could be fully sprung on them.  A well-placed Sleep  from the Elf wizard put the small but ferocious velociraptors out of combat early on. The bard charged one of the raptors’ handlers while Goro-T’so went the other way to attack 4 Batiri archers, with Lucky firing his crossbow at them too.

The Chultan hireling got severely wounded but he also skewered 2 Batiri, with Lucky finishing a third. The fourth managed to flee. Phileas dodged several poisoned arrows and killed 2 more Batiris with the help of Corpos flinging spells from behind.

Corpos, after the fight, decided to keep one velociraptor (tied up) with the idea to try to befriend the diminutive dinosaur with time.

The Hanged Man

12-the-hanged-man-meaning-rider-waite-tarot-major-arcana_large

The PCs walked at a brisk pace, wishing to put distance from themselves and a tree platform batiri village they had spotted after their skirmish. A few hours later they saw an unusual sight, a man, or what looked like a man anyway, was hanged by the feet, some 10′ in the air. Closing in, with a horrible stench now assailing them, they could see that the man was in fact a ghoul!

The undead creature, a non-chultan male, immediately started to plead with them to let it go, offering information in exchange of its freedom.

After some back-and-forth (2), the ghoul, going with the name of Scavo, revealed many things:

  • an old creature, sporting a blue triangle on its forehead, was responsible for his present state
  • he was a Flaming Fist mercenary prior to his demise
  • those had been asked by powerful people from Baldur’s Gate to eliminate “prince” Jobal but had not (yet) complied
  • he had overheard a meeting between Pick & Axe members and Batiri goblins to cement a deal against a rival tribe

The PCs finally cut the rope and let him go, suggesting that he could make himself useful and eat some goblins nearby…

DM’s notes

  1. An evil devotee of Malar, that could be troublesome at some point…
  2. including some unsavory methods of intimidation

Gloomhaven – I

So Math, my brother-in-law, bought Gloomhaven. We’d all heard so much good about it and here we are, playing every 2 weeks for the foreseeable future. We started a 4-players campaign last month and I’ll be sharing some of my personal experience along the way.

(Next time, I ought to show pictures as Math did an incredible prep job with 3D decors and minis!)

Our adventuring group: The Democratic Plunderers 

(just came with it tbh, we’ll see if it sticks!)

If, perchance, we have taken your treasure property, banished your demon pet, killed one of your jerkass brethren, or vexed you in any other way, know that it was no rash, improvised demeanor on our part but the result of a duly voted choice of action. In other words: you can shove it in your gloomhole!

Here’s our starting group:

  • Math plays the Cragheart (reminds me of Ludo, the big, gentle, rock-summoning troll in the movie Labyrinth)
  • Guillaume plays the Brute (big warrior guy with too many horns, surprisingly fast and mobile)
  • Sylver plays the Mindthief (rat-guy who likes to play tricks with the minds of allies and foes alike)
  • I play the Spellweaver (sorceress with powerful AoE spells and a very limited selection)

Now, our actual party composition and my own inclinations does mean I play the spellweaver a certain way, leaning slightly on a support role.

My Character:

pic3724906

Name : Zirconia Chainsmoker

Roleplay, kinda-sorta: Somehow, smoking continually helps her concentrate on the tasks at hand, as her species tend to be extremely contemplative most of the time. She’s always eager to help but won’t participate voluntarily in anything morally dubious.

Spoilers ahead, first 3 sessions:

Scenario 1: The Black Barrow (set difficulty: easy)

Our employer, some lady with a tail (seems more than a little shady to me), offers us our first job and there’s not anything else we can do. We have to bring back some stolen papers from a bandit lair called the Black Barrow. Upon arriving, the leader makes a corny speech and order his minions to attack us while he flees inside like the craven bastard he is.

We’re 4 against 6 in the first room. The Brute and Cragheart charge the baddies while me and the Minthief stay behind. We clear the room, but our two overconfindent companions are now bleeding from a few wounds. Next room, bandit archers joyfully jump on their own traps, hurting themselves badly as we watch dumbstruck. The Cragheart seems eager to open the next door, revealing skeletons and some more archers: they shoot at him, putting him out of combat. While my two remaining companions finished the skeletons, I got myself in position to attack the 4 archers in the back, killing one quickly and the remaining 3 with a spectacular Impaling Eruption!

We were too absorbed in our bloodshedding to loot the place properly it seems (what lame-ass treasure-hunters!) but we could now go downstairs, pursuing our quarry.

  • For this first scenario, before I get a grasp on the game’s mechanics, I’m all out with my powers (losing cards way too fast) but it turns out okay.
  • We hadn’t figured yet that we could discard to evade attacks.
  • My Battle Goal: Do the scenario without taking any coins or treasure (Succeed: 2 perk points).

Scenario 2: The Barrow Lair (set difficulty: medium)

We made short work of the 3 foolish archers standing in front of us. The Bandit Leader in the next room, dark energy at his disposal, finally made his stand.  He summoned a bunch of Living Bones to add to those already there. In fact, that’s very much the only thing he did. Again and again. We’re fine with that as we can mow them down faster that he can bring them up. My Mystic Ally flings magic bolt after magic bolt at the underachieving Boss and my three companions do heavy damage to him, mostly from range too. Once the jerk -in-chief is dead, we collect the papers and find information about some sort of Gloomy Cult.

  • Turns out that the craven bastard can take a punch, he had 40 hp, compare to my squishy 6!
  • Yep, the bandit leader did not open any door, if he had, he would have had a lot more minions at his disposal. We got it easy!
  • My Battle Goal: Have less than 3 cards in hand & discard at end of scenario (succeed: 1 perk point).
  • New Perk: add one earth & add one air (so I can help the cragheart fuel his powers).

Scenario 4: The Crypt of the Damned (set difficulty: hard)

Now we had our first choice as we got back to town. Our employer had another mission for us: kill a bunch of Inox who had raided a caravan of hers OR we could go persecute the Gloomy Cult, following the map we had found earlier.

We voted, ’cause y’know, that’s what we do!

The Brute wasn’t very interested in killing his own people and I wasn’t interested either as it seemed to me there was true evil afoot elsewhere. Don’t remember how the others voted but we got to the Crypt of the Damned to kick some cultists asses.

We were welcomed at the crypt by some skeletons and a couple of archers. An Impaling Eruption of mine, followed by a Dirt Tornado by the Cragheart softened them up. Next round, I felt the need to open the door while my companions finished the lone skeleton and was quickly peppered by arrows and stabbed by a cultist… Ouch! I had to retreat to heal myself a little. The Brute and Cragheart took to the enemies. The mindthief wanted a piece of the action but was annoyingly blocked inside the first room. He did help the Cragheart to move all the way to the other side of the long hall to attack the cultists at the back.

The hall proved troublesome at first, but the Cragheart and the Brute were both very lethal. They seemingly had things under control and I got on the move again and opened another door at the right and found myself face to face with two  Earth Demons, the first of demonkind that we met. That’s when I wisely chose to use my Cloak of Invisibility. The two huge creatures ignored me and lumbered in the hallway (one triggering a nearby trap) where they were met by a swarm of rats! I then jumped over the busy demons and summoned my Mystic Ally. The Mindthief did the opposite and got into the room to grab the treasure chest. Unfortunately, all he got for his trouble was poisonous gas in his lungs…

Meanwhile, the Cragheart and Brute opened the door at the other side of the hallway and found another cultist with 2 Wind Demons.

Splitting the party proved a good idea, oddly, as each pair of us killed a pair of demons and still had the leisure to loot all we could see, for once.

Victory once again!

  • Battle Goal, Have a visible enemy at the start of every round (succeed: 2 perk points).
  • The other treasure chest contained a Ring of Skulls design, this means we can purchase this item from now on.
  • The Brute seemed intent on killing demons, that looks a lot like his own Life Goal if I’m not mistaken… Have to keep this in mind.
  • Level 2: new card Icy Blast!

A note on Batiri Goblins

Most intelligent creatures in Chult fear the
Batiri. They are relentless trackers, skilled in
jungle lore and the use of the bow and spear.

That comes from the Jungles of Chult (1998). That makes sense, I mean, the Batiri have been in Chult for a long time, in the middle of friggin‘ DINOTOPIA! They have to be some tough goblin mofos, don’t they?

596098c3f7754e84207ec145fabc8e77
Art: Raph Lomotan

But guess what, in Tomb of annihilation, the Batiri are comic relief… Relief from WHAT? In order to need relief you must first build TENSION. With one encounter every 2 days, as written, I don’t see any need of comic relief before reaching Omu, where things finally start to get serious.

Anyway, I rarely see eye to eye with the writers of 5E on a storytelling perspective, that’s just one more thing that bothers me.

The point is, battlestacks and catapulting villages aren’t for me. In my campaign the Batiri goblins are clever little killers…

They’ll have some annoying tricks too!

  • poisoned arrows
  • snares, nets, exploding spores, etc.
  • steeds & pets: giant wasps, troodons, giant mantis, spiders, bats, etc.
  • shoot & hide tactics (hide as a bonus action)

Session 10c – A Leap in the Dark

The rogue would have been useful in the first true trap-filled dungeon of the campaign but he’s dead now…

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
  • NPC: Leioppe, Grung, Martial Artist (Volo’s: template); level-headed frogman, member of the Order of the Infinite Leap

Twisted Tricks of Blind Racists

Into the crypts of a long-dead culture of eyeless humanoids (1), the main gimmick was that the traps were all clearly visible to the PCs. How to evade them though, that was way less clear. A room where they had to step on the pressure plates on the floor. A room where their own shadows attacked them until they closed their eyes. Stuff like that.

Hall of Bones and Statues

1526999614223

A long hall bordered with rows of ominous, eyeless statues at either side. The floor is littered with countless bones. When the PCs step in, skeletons get up and attack. More and more of them. They had to get past the dark-energy filled statues with their eyes closed while fending off the waves of living bones. Not an easy feat but they managed to do it with only a few light wounds.

Exit

After some enthusiastic grave-robbing and mummy-killing the PCs arrived at the end of the dungeon. A door, with a sliver of light coming through, was barely visible amidst a wall made of bones. The central piece of the wall, a girallon skeleton, detached itself and attacked them but they didn’t have much trouble dispatching the monster.

Forbidden Valley

While the PCs had a well-earned rest, Flyzus’ new pseudodragon pet (2) was put to good use as it surveyed the enclosed valley from the air (3). With a good idea of where to go, the refreshed adventurers were happy to leave the crypts and explore the lush valley. The signs that an ancient civilization once flourished in the valley were almost erased, with the most visible being the central pyramid now little more than a big mound covered in vegetation. They found a few dead grungs, presumably those that were sent to collect the cure before them. And they were found too, by a creature that seeked to accomplish its purpose even now that it was masterless: a chuul.

The cheap-d&d-version-of-some-well-known-lovecraftian-entity grabbed Leioppe but succumbed before the repeated assaults of Flyzus and Rufb.

Time to Collect

Collecting the medicinal plant after that could be done without further hassle (4).  The PCs had saved the frogmen and the pottery deal could now be respected. The Mud Shaman was chastised for his ill-fated bid for power and had to compensate the PCs for their troubles with some of his magic (5).

DM’s notes

  1. morlock/grimlock style
  2. homework: Félix will have to come up with a name for next session
  3. I rushed this part of this day-long session a lot so we could finish in time…
  4. return to the grung village was conveniently fast-forwarded
  5. 3 gems of mud elemental summoning

Session 10b – Into the Pit

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
  • NPC: Leioppe, Grung, Martial Artist (Volo’s: template); level-headed frogman, member of the Order of the Infinite Leap
shaolin_monk_frog
art: Conor Nolan

The Pit

The PCs waited for night-time, as the ritual chants of the Grungs would provide the opportunity to get to the pit whilst most of Bufo’s gang would be otherwise occupied. They cautiously approached, two burly (1) frogmen patrolled the area. Their newfound ally made a diversion so Flyzus and Rufb could get closer. Rufb then charged one guard and sent him tumbling down the pit.

The PCs then attacked the other guard (2), losing precious time. This led to Bufo the Mud Shaman intervening, summoning 4 mud mephits. Those were easily dispatched but then a more imposing mud elemental took shape before them. Flyzus and Rufb finally decided to go on with their mission and jumped in the pit, Leioppe following.

DNYeaxV

Grung Zombies

Below, the guard that was pushed was being overwhelmed by grung zombies (3) but his pleas for help met indifference.  Rufb jumped over the dying frog and shoved multiple zombies, his companions close behind.

PZO1007MudElemental

The mud elemental messily got down too. Flyzus and Rufb sucessfully destroyed it while Leioppe did his best to lure the zombies away to give them space.

Killing about fifteen of these zombies was hard word once they turned their attention to it. They had to burn them (with oil and torches) or else they just kept coming.

Nearby, in a hard to get cave, the PCs found a group of survivors, infected grungs that had not been transformed yet. There was hope for them, but time was of the essence.

Mold  Monster

Further through the caves, Rufb entered headlong into a tunnel infested with brown mold. That was painful… Aware of the danger now, the adventurers jumped from safe spot to another until they got pass the dangerous patch (4).

A few oozes later and less a short sword for the elf, they got before a massive, disgusting pile of mold and half dissolved grung corpses, a shambling mound.

The poor Leioppe got grabbed and engulfed before he could do much. Fortunately, Flyzus and Rufb hacked the mold monster most efficiently and could get him out before he was asphyxiated or crushed to death.

Through the Wall

After a short rest, the PCs pressed on but were soon faced with a conundrum. A precipice some 12 feet across and a brick wall the other side. They remembered something that Nesu the Skinless had said just before they left: “you will have to make the blind man’s leap”.

-What the heck is that supposed to mean? asked Rufb.

The Glass-skinned frog had shrugged, palms up, in the universal “I’ve no idea”.

Well, here was a leap for sure but would they be so foolhardy to try it?

Nah… A lot better to throw a rock at the wall… Sure enough it seemed to become transparent, unreal.

So, reassured, they jumped across and through the illusory wall.  No problem, except (!) that Rufb let drop his gigormous axe in the chasm (5). Uh oh.

DM’s notes

  1. the fascinating morphic diversity of the frogs ought to be exploited more than just colors
  2. they should have simply ignored him
  3. Flyzus could recognize from past experience that those were in fact akin to vegepygmies
  4. for once they managed to not screw up their acrobatic checks
  5. another 1! I mean, isn’t that amazing? It seemed a bit too cruel that Chris would lose 2 characters falling to their deaths in the same session…

 

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…