Session 15b – Serpent-Skinned Monks

The PCs could not afford to take another long rest if they wished to be away from Tamaochan before the arrival of the Pick & Axe co. 

Characters:

  • Shin (level 4>>5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Flyzus (level 5>>6), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 5>>6), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless beside a gaping hole in the ground

Stay Still Forever

In a part of the dungeon yet unexplored – the PCs had successfully avoided a sand-filling trap – a few turns later they got almost in the middle of two rows of skeletons, a sort of honor guard by the look of it, standing on a ledge each side of a passage. The 15 skeletons jumped down and attacked (1)…

The adventurers kept their calm, even after seeing a skeleton still fighting after receiving a killing blow, what should have been a killing blow anyway. It helped that they could  now count on the powerful Vorn to back them up. An exploding magic arrow from Shin did a lot to soften the undead warriors. It took some time but they managed to prevail with only a few light wounds in return (2).

You don’t see any traps

At the end of another passage they could see a golden bat statuette. Rufb took it from its pedestal and got shot in the back by several crossbow bolts. Wounded and angry, Rufb smashed the statuette under his foot. Thic, released a creature made of light, a will o’ wisp they knew from previous experience,  that quickly got away along another passage.

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Shed Skin

Now, for some reason, having a will o’ wisp on the loose didn’t sit well with the PCs (3) so they tried to find it, backtracking a little doing so. Flyzus ordered his pseudodragon pet to follow the evil light but the poor creature got zapped and… died (4). Next, the PCs got into an room they had opened but had chose to ignore earlier, a room with two slabs of stone with shed serpent skins… wait a minute… weren’t there bodies the first time around? Darn! More things roaming free…

Stuck in the Middle with You

To go further in this area, the PCs had to move a heavy block of stone on some rail mechanism up a ramp, the Shield Guardian was put to the task. They were halfway when things got complicated… First, there was sudden resistance against the block, something was pushing back… Second, bats. Lots of bats. Third, the will o’ wisp chose this moment to reappear…

Vorn proved more than strong enough to keep the block from crushing them. The Ranger got rid of the bats around him quickly and then attacked the will o’ wisp. He was joined soon after by Rufb (Shin was still swarmed by bats) and the two successfully avenged the pseudodragon.

No Escape

Finally out of this passage, the PCs saw two nimble figures sprint away from them. The Barbarian, the fastest runner, caught up with them in the central room of the ziggurat’s lower tier. Attempting to communicate  proved fruitless, as Rufb could not understand a word they said. Resigned, the two mysterious sleepers-no-longer assumed fighting stances (5).

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Rufb wasn’t in full combat shape at all, so facing these two adversaries with unknown abilities was daunting. He chose to use one charge of his gem of mud elemental summoning, a reward he had received from the Three Cascades’ frogmen. This proved a wise move as the mud elemental pummeled and mired in mud one serpent-skinned monk. Rufb then finished her with one massive blow of his greataxe. The surviving monk shrieked in anguish and attacked Rufb, sweeping his legs from under him.

Flyzus and Shin now got at the scene too. The outnumbered monk turned his back and fled once more. Shin shot an arrow at him but amazingly, he catched it middair without even looking!

Try to dodge that

He then started to cross the passage to the north, the one with spikes at the bottom, swinging from bar to bar. Rufb got back to his feet and jumped right beside his foe and started grappling him. He easily outmuscled the monk and sent him crashing through the spikes. Flyzus put an end to his life with precise sword thrusts (6).

The PCs finally felt comfortable enough to get down below, to the Hidden Shrine.

DM’s notes

  1. I had described them as skeletons but they were statted as zombies, with the undead fortitude that do a lot for their durability.
  2. Too easy! Would have been better if they had to be smart about it…
  3. Players paranoia!
  4. Félix kept forgetting that it existed, so… no big deal, I guess?
  5. The monks tried their best to escape, the PCs, the barbarian in particular, just wouldn’t let them.
  6. This proved to be a really good fight, with a lot of cool, cinematic manoeuvers.

 

 

 

Session 15a – No Stone Unturned

Third session inside the Hidden Shrine of Tamaochan. I had kept it relatively faithful to the module (70% maybe?). But now? Less so…

Characters:

  • Shin (level 4), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Flyzus (level 5), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 5), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless beside a gaping hole in the ground

Psychic Cyclop

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After a well-earned rest outside the PCs got right back to exploring the ancient ziggurat. They went  to a room they had passed the first time, in the second tier (1). The bronze door had a strange engraving on it, a couatl and a cyclop locked in a fierce struggle. Rufb pushed the heavy door and, to his surprise, found himself in the middle of the jungle in front of the very same cyclop warrior, now coming wildly at him with a greataxe! That was all in his head, of course, but the imaginary combat was taking a very real toll on him. Shin ignored his companion’s plight and went straight into the room and got into troubles of his own as a set of giant antique armor assaulted him. Meanwhile, Flyzus was at a loss as to what he could do to save Rufb, as smacking the Half-Orc behind the head did not look like it helped that much… Finally, with scrambled brains and bleeding nose, Rufb managed to overcome the psychic invasion by himself and the three defeated the helmed horror together. This activated some kind of magic from the (avenged) crystal couatl statue that was in the middle of the dais, as they were rewarded a Tray of the Ages (2).

Terror from Above

Nrak, the Firefinger’s ertswhile pterafolk leader, had apparently found a way to track down Flyzus in a vain attempt to avenge himself for the attack on his lair. One of his underling let drop something in the middle of the ruined temple where the PCs were  resting. The package, wrapped in leaves, exploded as it touched the floor, releasing some kind of poisonous pollen. Other pterafolks then dived and hurled javelins at the PCs, some blocked by the Shield Guardian. Mostly unfazed by the surprise attack,  the adventurers responded with projectiles of their own. The Tabaxi Arcane Archer, as always, was utterly deadly with his bow, but the decisive blow was delivered by Flyzus as he hurled back a javelin, powered with an ensnaring strike, that sent Nrak crashing to the ground to his death (3). The few surviving pterafolks had had enough and flew away.

A Sticky Situation (4)

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A few hours after the doomed pterafolk attack, the Ranger could see a giant spider coming their way. Using his hat of the spider the Tabaxi had a quick conversation with it, he learned that the giant spider was upset about being followed and, uh, aggressively courted… Said courter arrived a moment later, it was Mister Sticky the ettercap, who had lost his precious Darling at the hand of the party a while ago. Mister Sticky pleaded to give crucial information if only the PCs stopped besmirching him in front of this “magnificient specimen” of a spider. And so the party learned that members of the Pick & Axe co were on their way towards Tamaochan. The PCs accepted to pay the Ettercap to learn more:

  • P&A group is made up of  seasoned, armored and very sweaty dwarves
  • they have an ankylosaurus
  • the leader have a flying monkey (the PCs had spotted it flying around their camp earlier)
  • they are armed to the teeth, all have crossbows
  • they are half a day’s walk from Tamaochan

Another Way In

As the previous foray in the shrine had proved almost fatal for Rufb, the PCs sought a way to get the mighty (and large) Vorn in the lower tiers with them. They resolved the matter using a scroll of shape stone on a part of the cliff that connected to a room below the ziggurat. The magic scroll enlarged a small hole already there, but getting inside, the party disturbed a family of stone-skinned zorbos. The PCs dispatched the cute but ferocious beasts and had another go at exploring the ancient ruins.

DM’s notes:

  1. I’ve kept the couatl, phantasmal force and helmed horror but changed about everything else in this room
  2. The original treasure is a Balance of Harmony but an item to detect good and evil is rather useless in my game. The Tray of Ages (homebrewed) is me being generous, as the PCs can cast identify as a ritual with it, so they don’t have to wait to be in town (like in 3 sessions) to know what their items do.
  3. Being a large creature, Nrak had advantage on his str save to resist the ensnaring strike and still failed!
  4. That part was, hmm, maybe a little too much on the silly side…

 

16) Decaying Crypt

Chronicles of Borborygm the Brute

The thing with dead people is that there’s so, soooo many of them. You just can’t take a wrong turn without stumbling upon a crypt. I mean, could they not just disappear or something? If at least they could stay dead dead but then, do they ever? They don’t! The stinking wretches just keep going on… Living Bones, Living Corpses, even Living Spirits. Living Spirit… What the hell does that even mean? Oh well, as long as I can hit them with my axe…

Scenario 6

Goal: Reveal M tile, Kill all revealed monsters

Team: Brute (lvl 4), Elementalist (lvl 5), Soothsinger (lvl 4)

Set difficulty: 3

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The soothsinger’s melody is so angst-filled that even the dead feel depressed…

The soothsinger’s immediate crippling chorus gives us time to prepare. I push the lone living corpse to get it in a perfect cluster for the elementalist’ next attack:

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Soothsinger: “I’ve got first kill! I’ve got first kill!”

We mostly ignore the zombies living corpses that are oozing disgusting fluids everywhere since the elementalist’s ice-spiked them.

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Three more living bones and three living spririts behind in the next room.

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I jump in the middle of the living spirits to slash them with a devastating hack while the elementalist attacks the living bones with a (successful, yay!) chain-lightning.

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Elementalist: “Could you help us finish those, please?” Brute: “I can’t hear ya! There’s too much moanin’ and singin’!”
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Brute: “For the Blood God!”

As I open the next door, a living spirit, a particularly dreadful one, blasts me with a necrotic ray that stuns me. That’s bad. Every damn monster in the room wants a piece of me. When I regain my senses, bleeding from many wounds, I lift my axe one last time and slay a living corpse before falling down on my knees. At least, the Blood God is pleased.

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Elementalist: “Noisy, you’re still here?” Soothsinger: *Hit living bones with his lute* “Yes!”

With so many monsters left, the situation looks dire. But then the elementalist quickly kills 2 living spirits with a spell and then turns his attention to  the stronger one:

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And make it explode!

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soothsinger, 5 rounds later: “I swear, this thing won’t f**cking die!”
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soothsinger: “Unless…”
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(bottom) “Get into this trap will you!”

Frantic lute-playing Victory Tune!

  • We did not reveal the other part of the crypt as there was no need
  • I burned through my cards waaaay too fast this time
  • the lvl 5 elementalist has been very, very efficient and saved the day
  • the soothsinger swamped the monsters in curses, we felt almost invicible, no kidding

15) Ruinous Rift

Chronicles of Borborygm the Brute

We must close the rift says Ghost-lady.

-Yeah?

-It’s a hole in the fabric of the universe.

-…

-Evil creatures could cross to this world through it.

-Will I get paid?

-I.. I’ll find a way to make it worthwhile to you…

-Well, why didn’t you say so!

Scenario 27

Goal: Protect Hail for 10 turns

Team: Brute (lvl 4), Elementalist (lvl 5), Soothsinger (lvl 4)

Set difficulty: 3

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(turn 2) Lets stir up the hornet’s nest…
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(turn 3) Is that it?
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(turn 4) ahh now we’re talking
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(turn 5) sun demon 2x damage OUCH!
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(turn 6) arent’ we a bit crowded now?
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(turn 7) dumbass flame demon puts a trap
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(turn 8) Brute: piercing battle-axe (huh?)
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(turn 9) Brute: “the Blood God is pleased, last round for me!”
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(turn 10) soothsinger: “crippling chorus for the win!

 

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Elementalist: “I’ll jump head first into the spike trap and see what happens…”
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Soothsinger: *singing*” The demons are sucked in! Everyone’s dyin’. But me, I’m still standin’!”

Frantic lute-playing victory tune!

  • should not have put gold coins, the demons are spawns
  • the soothsinger’s crowd control did a lot for the last few rounds
  • the elementalist was unlucky again with his chain-lightning, needs eagle-eye goggle?
  • the elementalist commited suicide (sort-of) to help the soothsinger’s Life Goal
  • we did a good job to protect Hail, she was attacked one time (or two?) and did not took any damage with the help of the soothsinger’s disorienting dirge

 

14) Forgotten Crypt

The Chronicles of Borborygm the Brute.

Okay scribbler, do your thing.


I left my tribe… What? Yeah Okay Fine. I was kicked out of my tribe- longstorydontask- and now I give strength of my arms for payment. I am Mer-Cy-Na-Ry. Got that?

Okay so nobody wants lone Inox, too troublesomy they say, so I found lil’ fellows to be reaver-band with. One a Quaetryl, his name Noisy Lucky-Charm. The other, a Savvas, name  Rainbow Poof.

No, not true names you dimwit. Names I give. Suitable names.

Now understand that is first mission for me. One day I will be Hero-Chief. But before that, lots of work, lots of killing and I will collect many scars to appease the Blood God .

But for now, first mission is us three walking with Ghost-Lady to a bone-collecting place. She wants to find a magic censer that someone stupidly left there because they died.

We have to protect her, her dead means a bad name for us, the lil’ fellows tell me. Best way to do it? Kill everything in the way!

Scenario 19

Goal: Protect Hail

Team: Brute (lvl 4), Elementalist (lvl 4), Soothsinger (lvl 4)

Set difficulty: 2

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Where’s the Elementalist? Huh. Could you wait a moment please?
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Brute: “Pssstt… I’ll rush forward and skewer the 2 gloomy-stabbies with one thrust!” Cultist: “We’re right there, we can hear you…”
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Soothsinger: dliiiing dliiiing dliiiing “two coins for me”
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Soothsinger: “and two more!” Brute: “wut? leave some for Borborygm you lil’ bugger!”

Rainbow Poof opens the third room and wants to roast his foes with lightning but all  he gets is a feeble spark (3 curses for his Chain-Lightning!).We all laughed at that, everybody, except annoyed Rainbow Poof

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Soothsinger to Hail: “Don’t worry, I’m here!” *adjusts his lute*

As me and Rainbow Poof fight Dead-Fleshies, the Ghost-Lady is a little behind and  followed close by the non-living. Noisy Lucky-Charm says he will protect her: “I will change tempo suddenly and the monsters will be immobilized”. I mean, *WTF* but it worked…

I push a dead-fleshy into a trap as Rainbow Poof blasts the other with magic and the way is clear for the altar room.

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Soothsinger: “there’s too many of them!” Brute: “the Blood God will be pleased”

My battle-axe cuts great chunks of dead flesh and Rainbow Poof joins the fun as fire spews forth from his fingers toward the baddies.

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Hail finally gets to the altar and takes Stonecrusher’s censer

Frantic lute-playing Victory Tune!

  • this escort mission was a lot of fun, nice change of pace
  • the soothsinger stacked our decks with bless cards and cursed the monster’s: incredibly useful
  • I did A LOT of damage with those bless and could kill elite living-corpses easily
  • his main song, his level 4 card, gives disadvantage to all attacks from the monsters, that’s amazingly strong
  • at one point we considered doing more vs the monsters behind but we didn’t (except the soothsinger a little) and it proved unnecessary
  • I have to be exhausted for my new Life Goal, I did it but we had to block Hail for 2 rounds (to get the treasure too)
  • the soothsinger looted 9 coins the greedy bastard :p

 

 

13) Frozen Hollow

As the Cragheart and I are discussing our upcoming retirement, it came to our attention that we will be remembered mostly as thieves and murderers. In a last-ditch effort to help our successors disentangle the mess we’ve created, we thought it would be a good idea to finally get some advice. Or rather, a sage in town will give us information if we go retrieve some kind of magic orb for her. So here we are, at the frozen hollow

Scenario 14

Goal: Kill all monsters

Team: Cragheart (lvl 6), Elementalist (lvl 4), Spellweaver (lvl 6)

Set difficulty: 4

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I remembered the hounds (from the diamond mine) to be faster that I could ever be and planned my actions accordingly but, maybe those are a little stiff from the cold or something, they weren’t fast at all.

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Spellweaver: “Get up you lazy mutts, my plan depends on it!”

We had to get to them, how inconvenient. Well a Chromatic Explosion ought to wake them up a little! The Elementalist gleefully syphon away elements to craft his own powerful magic and he too blast away.

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The Cragheart bullies the hounds a little while I try my newly acquired Living Torch on those hard-to-hit living spirits. My attack is blessed by the gods and one wraith disappears permanently and the other is damaged.

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Cragheart: “RaaAaah, you icicles will serve the purpose of my battle goal nicely!”

Our tanky Cragheart left us with two hounds as he gets further in the lair. One hound, that just wouldn’t die (damn curses), savaged the hell out of me before the Elementalist finally killed the vicious beast.

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A Song of Ice and Fire and Boulders

Meanwhile, the Cragheart has astutely created a blocus with boulders, but he took a few big hits nonetheless. I hurry myself to patch him up and also summon my Burning Avatar to melt those dangerous frost demons.

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Once again Craggy is on the move and he opens the final area, revealing 2 hounds, 1 Elite frost demon and 4 living spirits.

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He manages to slay 3 living spirits, but the hounds attack him and are relentless.

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Cragheart: “Must… Lay… Down…”

Well it’s up to the squishy duo to finish the damn thing, isn’t it? The 3 remaining monsters offers me a straight line for my Impaling Eruption, killing the hound and softening up the frost demon, and yet more with a Flame Strike.

The living spirit is impervious to my attacks but the Elementalist jumps in and Chain-Lightn… 

-No, no, wait, says he, I can’t do that… I need time to loot the treasure!

Halfassed Chain Lightning!

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With only one monster left, it’s now officially time for treasure-hunting! It takes a while, as the Elementalist has to step into a stun-trap to get it while being pursued (albeit slowly)  by the frost demon. As for me, I’m smoking a cigarette in the back, of course.

Victory!

  • We played this scenario at hard difficulty (by mistake) and we managed to win. Now, we’ll see how it goes with 2 new characters next session…
  • Hounds and Frosties have retaliate, better to have good ranged attacks (or a lot of hp)
  • Living spirits with 3 or 4 shield (but low hp) can be hard to deal with. I used my piercing bow with the first 2. Fortunately, the Cragheart was here for the 4 in last room.
  • Speaking of which, the Cragheart was an all-around efficient and versatile character, in Math’s hands at least. We’ll miss him.

12) Temple of the Elements

Killing the Colorless in the Temple of the Eclipse has boosted our confidence and we’d decided to try our luck at retrieving a powerful artifact from yet another temple.

Scenario 22

Goal: Destroy the 4 altars

Team: Cragheart (lvl 5), Elementalist (lvl 3), Spellweaver (lvl 5)

Set difficulty: 3

The altars are as far to each other as possible and each one gives strength to the temple’s demonic guardians (with 4 altars: +4 hp, +4 att, +2 mov, +2 range). As if demons weren’t dangerous enough…

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But demons aren’t the only inhabitants, there are pesky cultists too.

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If they’re not very dangerous by themselves, we can’t leave them alive as they can quickly fill the place with an army of summoned living bones. However, with the situation mostly in control in the center, I decide to open a first altar room. And if that isn’t 2 Flame Demons, right there!? Even more powerful than usual with the altars’ power. Well dammit, I hurl fire orbs at them and I’m not messing around: piercing bow, eagle-eye goggles, minor power potion; with a satisfying result (6 and 8 to FDs and 5 to altar).

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Spellweaver: “Burn FLAME DEMON! Huh, as long as it works I guess…”

I lose 2 hp because of the annoying ranged retaliate, which bypasses my frost armor. The Cragheart throws a boulder and finish one Flame Demon. He kills the remaining cultists with the Elementalist, who then moved to open the treasure chest but all he got is a magical explosion in his face.

The two then go to the next (upper left) room while I finished cleaning the room I’m in. They find a lone but dangerous (very rangy) Wind Demon. The Cragheart deals with it, as the Elementalist briefly helps me in the third room occupied by a Frost Demon.

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There’s two Earth Demons in the last room. The Elementalist is exhausted but the Cragheart is fooling around to get more xp. I indulge him before finally destroying the last altar.

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The artifact is retrieved and… is sad. No, really, it is. But it’s not our fault (this time!) as it has been corrupted by evil, and being kinda sentient, well, it knows it… So, uh, that’s not very useful to us but, hey…

Victory!

  • The cultists must be dealt with as quick as possible.
  • The demons are not numerous but very lethal in this scenario, cards to prevent damage are incredibly useful.
  • Splitting the party is necessary at some point.
  • I brought 2 AoE (out of 4) and it was enough.