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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

Isaac’s adventures- II

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Me: You’ve reached the Rock Pillar, in the middle of the desert. There’s a giant two-headed vulture perched on the summit. It takes to the air and descend on you! What do you do?

My son: Vultures eat dead meat, dad… It won’t eat me!

Me: Yy-yer right! (whenever Isaac comes up with something, I try to go with it) It approaches, still in the air, its two heads start bickering:

Head # 1: Ya see, I told ya, the flightless is not nearly dead!

Head # 2: Just wait a lil’ longer, maybe it’ll die and then… We’ll feast!

My son: I feel fine!

Head # 2: Crap!

Head # 1: See ya next time!

Session 7 – Tiryki River – day 7

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
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

The PCs are now very near their objective (the grung village) but they’ve decided to sidetrack a little, following the clues found on a dead to explorer that lead to a place called “Firefinger“.

Day 7

Angry Green Grung (1)

River – N-C encounter

Brandishing a stick and yelling at them, the green grung standing on a rock didn’t seem too happy to see the PCs. Unfortunately, none of them had any means to understand or communicate with the frogman. (2)

Leeches, they suck

River – Combat

Rapids in the river forced the PCs to portage again but while they were getting their canoe out of the water, two Giant Leeches attacked them. The PCs killed the creatures and kept going, less a pint or two of blood.

I Needed Boots

River – Combat

Anaconda-ref

A huge Constrictor Snake sprang from under the water and tried to get away with one passenger but ever-alert Droidoc reacted quickly, shapeshifting into a snake himself. The confusing battle left once again the PCs as victors. (3)

6 arms is better than 4

Jungle – Camp – Combat

Now the PCs had got out of the river and hid their canoe expertly. They were a day’s walk from the Firefinger they wished to find. Setting camp attracted the attention of a local resident. Varis poisoned bolt hampered greatly the monstrous 4-armed ape’s combat ability. A moment later, after a quick melee, the severely wounded Girallon tried to flee but the PCs, as usual, were having none of it.

Day 8, morning (end of session)

Parrotbears!

Jungle- Combat

Walking through the dense vegetation, the PCs spotted two parrotbears (4) a mere 200 feet away. The pair was moving directly toward them so the PCs prepared for battle. First, Droidoc cast a Spike Growth spell. One parrotbear moved directly through it, taking full damage, while the other circled around. Varis and Flyzus shot at range the wounded beast, killing it. The surviving parrotbear, far from dissuaded, charged its foes but soon rejoined its mate as worms food.

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GrrrRRrr?

DM’s notes

  1. Grungs or gripplis, I don’t really care, all I know is that I don’t want them to be yet another evil humanoid race
  2. Just a bit of foreshadowing
  3. we we’re playing sunday morning with a 12 hrs session the day before, this part is a little hazy for me…
  4. refluffed owlbears, cause jungle…

Session 7- Tiryki River – day 6

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
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Day 6

Old River King

Crocodile head, Siem Reap Croc farm, Cambodia.

River – N-C encounter

A Giant Crocodile was basking in the morning sun on the riverbank. Oddly, a shotel (sword) was protuding out of its scaly back. Tempting, huh? (1) Well, Droidoc got up to the task. He shapeshifted into a rodent, jumped unto the giant lizard, unshapeshifted, managed to get the weapon free, reshapeshifted, tumbled down before the mildly-annoyed-but-also-kinda-relieved Old River King decided to swallow him whole. (2)

Pristine Waterfall, Naked Elf

Waterfall – Combat

Me: There’s a waterfall in view, you’ll have to portage again.”

Player C: “A waterfall? There must be a cave behind. There always is!”

Me: “Yeah, yeah, sure. It looks like there’s one!

Me, grinning evilly: “Soooo, who’s first?”

Players C and D: “Flyzus!”

Player F, a bit unsure: “Okay, I guess.”

Me: “You go through the waterfall and BlOoooOOOooooOoP *mime floating*…”

Player D: “Gelatinous Cube!”

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Flyzus was in a really bad spot (3). Droidoc and Varis slashed and bashed the ooze but to the Wood Elf it seemed like an eternity. Two times the druid healed him in extremis before he died from acid damage. Finally the Gelatinous Cube was defeated, releasing his now-naked and shaking prey.

Dinosaur Stampede

River – Combat

A few hours later, the relative tranquility of the jungle was shattered by an incredible ruckus, as a herd of brontosaurs crossed the river at full speed! The reason soon became apparent to the PCs:  BIG ASS MOSQUITOES! Or stirges rather, dozens, harassing the dinosaurs.  A few of these bloodsuckers spotted the adventurers and split from the main swarm. The PCs dispatched the nuisance effortlessly.

Light is Fast and Evil

Camp – Combat

Some kind of battle had happened there; rusted armors, broken weapons, but no corpses or bones. Ominous. But the PCs badly needed to rest (Flyzus in particular) so they set up camp. Varis was on duty and he saw light, two lights in fact, fast approaching. He quickly woke his companions and then the two light-creatures were upon them. The PCs weren’t sure what they were facing (4) but they soon got their hands full. The lights were really hard to hit and gave generous doses of shocking attacks. In the end, the adventurers prevailed but it was a hard-fought battle.

DM’s notes

  1. kinda like excalibur, or maybe not
  2. yay! a better sword for Flyzus
  3. The joy of a first time with a Gelatinous Cube!
  4. will-of-the-wisps

Session 7 – Tiryki River – day 4 & 5

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
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

The first few days weren’t uneventful by any margin, but being closer to Port Nyanzaru, things weren’t so rough either.  By the fourth day on the river Tiriki though, the three adventurers had some close calls…

Day 4

Ghouls?

River – Ambiance

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Piles of bones on the shores with humanish footsteps around gave the cue: ghoul territory…

Quicksand!

Portage – Jungle – N-C challenge – Combat

Droidoc failed to notice the danger and sank waist deep into a quicksand. The two (flimsy) elves threw him a rope but that wasn’t enough as something was holding onto him. They could see a clawed hand clasped to his back. After the creature began to rake him with its claws, the Halfling got really, really pissed off and he shapeshifted into a giant frog, quickly swallowing his assailant (a ghoul, of course) before disappearing under the surface. His companions were understandably upset for it seemed that quite some time had passed but then, sand erupted into a spectacular geyser as the giant frog jumped out of his predicament!

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Floating Cadaver

River – Ambiance

Its face in the water, both its legs missing, the PCs didn’t bother and (wisely) stayed clear of the floating body.

Sometimes Darkvision is not Enough

River – Combat

Not very warm to the idea of making camp on friggin‘ ghoul territoty, the PCs opted to paddle all night- or rather- Varis would paddle all night while his companions slept (!) on the canoe. That… did not went that well… Sure enough the Drow had no trouble seeing at night but- maybe it was sleep deprivation (1)- he couldn’t react fast enough when an assassin vine attacked him viciously from above. At least, his panicked and womanly screams did wake up Flyzus and Droidoc as their canoe went without direction. The dangling Varis soon lost consciousness as the plant’s lethal poison coursed through his veins. Fortunately, Droicoc could save him before it was too late, as he climbed up the tree in gorilla-form and applied much strength so that the drow fell in the river. Flyzus picked him up and they all fled further away, having survived one more day…

Day 5

Riverside Ruins

River- Combat

Having put ghoul territory behind, the PCs felt they could do a bit of exploration. They had spotted some ruins, visible from the river. Crumbled walls and toppled columns, the site invaded by the surrounding vegetation, it sure felt like it could hide something interesting. Moving cautiously around so they could take a peep inside, the 3 companions could see someone standing idly aside a column. The stranger turned to face them, a yellow flower was emerging from one of his orbit instead of an eye.

Musk Creeper” whispered the Halfling druid.

They started to shoot at the zombie but then Varis was distracted by an irresistible fragrance nearby that lured him toward the monstrous plant. Fortunately, he regained control of himself before he was turned into yet another zombie and together with Flyzus and Droidoc he slashed the Musk Creeper into pieces. They searched the now inert body of a dead explorer and rummaging through his stuff they found a map along with some notes that referred to a “Firefinger” (2).

Deinonychus Ambush

Portage – Combat

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Portage in the jungle is always a tense affair. This time the PCs were being followed by half a dozen deinonychus. The Elf ranger could figure that the predators had some kind of ambush prepared. The PCs could see a large fell tree, a perfect spot for a few more of the beasts to wait for them. Droidoc decided to take the initiative, he shapeshifted into a deinonychus himself and jumped on the tree to issue a challenge. He then pounce on one of the raptor, savaging him enough to make him flee. He then duelled the apparent pack alpha in a flurry of claws and bites. He had the upper hand and gained the acknowledgement of the pack as the new, albeit temporary, leader (and an escort to the river).

Luxuriant

River- Combat

A Mantrap (monster plant again!) tried to lure the PCs nearer to the shore where it waited. Almost worked with Varis (3).

It can wait until morning

Camp – Combat

It was Flyzus’ turn awake while his companions slept, some ruckus alerted him and there he stood in front of a beautiful nubile woman with her leg in the bear trap that he had set… She asked for his help… Plaintively… He looked at the wounded leg, he looked at the attractive lightly-clad female, and he said: “it can wait until morning” !!! (4)

She had other plans… Discarding disdainfully the bear trap, she let down her apparently useless magical disguise to reveal a Sea Hag. She clawed angrily at the elf but he was too nimble. Flyzus was soon joined by the sleepy Varis and Droidoc and together they killed the ugly creature even as she attempted to dive in the river to flee.

The rest of the night was uneventful.

DM’s notes:

  1. he got a 1!
  2. exploration should be rewarded with riches (even in 5E), or at least, lead someday to riches.
  3. Varis’ player always roll bad against plant creatures it seems. The drow must have allergies or something!
  4. Flyzus’ player, poor young Félix, had no idea what to do… We had a good laugh!

 

The Fun in Fungus (magic: the gathering)

A few weeks ago I tried MtG for the first time. I’d never played in my youth (it seems like you choose either tabletop gaming or card gaming, rarely both). My good friend, who was nostalgic about his own gaming past, introduced me to this famous money pit (what a friend hey!). He explained me the basics and we had time to play twice The first time, and most interesting from my pov, was with bare-minimum dominaria decks.

I had a black and green deck, with not much going on with the notable exception of FUNGUS!

Here’s some cards I had:

 

That sufficed to make me like the game as I’ve been quite fascinated by anything mycology-related for a while now. In fiction, since I read the Ambergris books from Jeff Vandermeer and before that in gastronomy, when my wife and I became wild mushrooms enthusiasts.

The M:tG Thallids (how the fungus creatures are called) seems to have much more impactful art and concepts than their D&D Myconids counterpart and I will certainly steal a few things for my Ruins of Chult campaign!

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Sadly I don’t own this big guy… Yet!