Isaac’s adventures V

For the last few weeks the main theme  (that my son came up with), has been Ninja & Robots. I mean… that’s pretty cool, right? So, recently, we’ve defeated the Evil Ninja Boss, in his lair, which was basically a skyscraper full of his minions and,  after beating him, we’ve discovered that he was only one of 6 Big Bad Evil Bosses… Of course!

The next in line (the second weakest, ’cause that’s how it goes) is hidden in a castle.

Isaac: His special power is invisiblity.

Me: Does he have minions?

Isaac: Yes, 800 of them!

Me: That’s a lot!

Isaac: And all of them can turn invisible. Except one…

Me: *sputters coffee* Except one?! How’s that?

Isaac: Because he’s the weakest of the 800. He wasn’t always the weakest but his whole team (of wimpy dudes) got killed  except him. Now, he stands guard for the rare treasures.

Me: He’s alone to guard the rare treasures?

Isaac: Yes. He would like to be the strongest but he’s the weakest…

Me: My son, that’s what we call the weakest link!

Of Stickers and Unlocking (for D&D)

 

My ongoing D&D campaign is set in the jungles of Chult. I have the Tomb of Annihilation adventure book and while I don’t use its main plot *shudders*, I love the setting. I mean, I could very well have done the same thing with the old Isle of Dread module, but I didn’t know of its existence when I bought ToA. Anyway, I feel like ToA grafted a sandbox to something that wasn’t exactly meant for it. The PCs must find a specific location (the tomb duh) and have no real incentives to explore the fantastic locations on their way (not that there’s much of it tbh). More so, the players have this bigass map with the blanks… well unless you have a really dedicated cartographer player, it doesn’t see much use in my experience. Which is a shame.

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In retrospect, what I would have liked is stickers. I’ve discovered the fun of it in my recent experience with legacy-type boardgames (gloomhaven, betrayal legacy).

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From Cephalofair’s Gloomhaven

You’ve found/unlocked a location! Put a sticker!

Nah, really, it’s a thing. I like it.

Session 14b – Vandalism & Tomb-Robbing

Disclaimer: This play report is my own take on The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (the 5e version from TofYP). Lots of spoilers below but it’s not  a “standard” playthrough of this classic module by any margin.

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

Ziggurat’s Middle Tier

Map Room (1)

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The PCs got out of the shaft and landed inside a large room. The tiled floor was, in fact,  one big mosaic that showed a detailed map of the Chult Peninsula, divided in 5 distinct areas (West Valley of Mist, Central Bleak Marshes, South Peaks of Flame, East Black Jungles, South-East Great Plains) with dotted features that revealed many secrets. An incredible find for explorers but, unfortunately, dust hid most of it and taking a closer look proved a difficult task as the entire room had all kind of magic traps. Shin had the odd idea to use a Swarm of Spiders to remove the dust and it did part of the job until the spiders got in the “Great Plains” area and refused to leave the place (2).

Gibbering Mouther

A door in the map room opened on a small room with a few items lying on stone  tablets in the back (a dried heart amongst them). In the middle of the room was a big pile of dirt, or it looked like it  before eyes and mouths started popping open everywhere. The adventurers evaded disgusting spittle attacks and killed the aberration before looting the place.

Ooze the fairest?

Exiting the map room, the PCs weren’t fooled into taking a suspicious-looking pile of gold coins heaped at the far side of the corridor. They did found a secret door that led to a room with mirrors  and no other doors. Rufb looked into one mirror, his reflection kind of misty, and an Ochre Jelly detached itself  (revealing an opening behind) and attacked him! The Barbarian was even more surprised when his powerful axe stroke split the jelly monster into 2 perfectly functional smaller ones. The Tabaxi resolved the conundrum with a well-placed explosive arrow that sent jelly matter everywhere! Flyzus, wiping away jelly from his face, dared looked into another mirror and was disturbed by a vision of his own death as his reflection was assaulted by some horrific wasp-like monster that pierced his face with a large sting.

The PCs had enough of the room and cautiously entered the secret passage. This led to a smaller lozenge-shaped room with a strange statue of an octopus, with a large red stone on its forehead. Seeing the glyphs on the statue and its creepy appearance was enough to send the PCs back to another part of the dungeon.

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They found a stairway going deeper into the ziggurat but they activated a complex trap: a stone statue of a dragon let out a gust of steam on them but, fortunately, the 3 adventurers managed to evade most of it, were only lightly burned, and they dashed forward before the next gust.

Ziggurat’s Lower Tier

In a large room (6) full of rubbles, Shin found some valuables and a short sword, with a crocodile etched on the serrated blade, that he later gave to Flyzus.

Chop Chop

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The PCs got across a long corridor with only corroded metal bars to cross over a pit with spikes (3) at the bottom. Rufb’s axe was a lot more efficient against next room’s guardian, a magic statue made of wood (4). A powerful axe’s blow chopped it in two and that was it (5).

On the far wall, a huge stone visage suggested some kind of secret entrance. Careful inspection revealed a keyhole in the statue’s eye. The platinum key they had found earlier fitted perfectly and opened a door inside the mouth.

Vandalism & Tomb-robbing

Rufb opened a set of double doors, broking a seal made of gold in the process, this triggered a trap: 5 heavy crossbows shot at him but only one bolt actually hit the Half-Orc. Next room was the most impressive area to date, lavishly decorated, with all sort of unusual features, the most outstanding being probably the copper coffin put on a raft shaped like a dragon.

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Pyramid replicas, lots of urns, the coffin, terracotta warriors; the room was chock-full with things to meddle with. Of course, by now the PCs were a little wary of traps and other hazards. Flyzus, in particular, as since he was wounded by the Crocodile Mummy he couldn’t be healed by any means, not even with magic (7).

Rufb didn’t like the look of the terracotta warriors and decided to bring them, one by one, and thrash the whole lot at the bottom of the spiked pit they had crossed earlier (8).  This demanded considerable efforts and it also attracted a Swarm of Bats.

But afterward, Rufb felt more secureand inspected the pyramids. Those were in fact chests, the top could be removed. Some were trapped but, proceeding carefully (9), he managed to loot a substantial treasure all in all. And, the coffin…

None of the PCs could read the writings, was it dire warnings? All they could guess was that some kind of high priest, most likely from Zotzilaha’s cult, had been laid to eternal rest there. They removed the coffin’s lid and they could see a desiccated corpse, in full regalia, and many unusual items carefully placed around it.

Zotzilaha

The defilers weren’t that surprised when the priest’s corpse reacted to their avidity, sitting straight and regaining some semblance of life by the second. They also understood right away the urgency to slay the thing before it was fully in combat shape and gave their all. With the Ranger and Barbarian slashing and hacking and the Arcane Archer shooting powerful magic arrows, the Vampire Spawn barely had the time to take his frightful form before vanishing from the surface of the world, this time, forever…

Near dead himself, Flyzus, in desperation, resolved to drink a potion found with the priest. It turned out very well for him as he felt liberated from the atrocious mummy’s rotting curse/disease (10).

That monster on the cover of the MM?

In another part of the dungeon, the PCs opened a door and saw something spherical, with many appendices on top, floating 2′ from the floor. An arrow from Shin made the Gas Spore explode, freeing its spores in the room. The PCs waited for the spores to deposit on the floor before going through.

Rolling Stone

Even further in the complex, the air was more intensely acrid than before. The PCs had several set of stairs in front when they activated a trap: a huge rolling stone threatened to crush them! Fortunately, the 3 PCs are formidable athletes (if very bad at deciphering things!) and they all managed to evade the incoming rolling stone. Passing them, it finished its course at the far side of the corridor, breaking through double doors with incredible ruckus… This stirred up some local residents, fire beetles, easily dispatched by the adventurers.

DM’S notes

  1. I’m rather happy with the stuff I added as the original room, as designed, was entirely pointless…
  2. Nonetheless, this revealed many locations on the map, options for future expeditions!
  3. Shin got across and earned  an inspiration point by… not caring how fared his companions (his flaw)!
  4. Wood Woad. I didn’t care much for the petrified werejaguar that turns to flesh, for some reason, as soon as the PCs touched something
  5. With a critical hit from Rufb, nice!
  6. Removed the encounter there to soften the dungeon a little.
  7. That meant assured death in a few days if he couldn’t find a solution. Pressure!
  8. Funny, as it wasn’t a threat at all and just fluff!
  9. Or one time, by just throwing a big rock inside. That did the job but damaged the goods.
  10. He was lucky that it was an Elixir of Health!

Session 13 – Naumachia

Characters (1)

  • 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
  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora (Trickery), Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted

Massacre at the Tej House

With their mission with the grungs finished, Flyzus and Rufb were going back to Port Nyanzaru. At the river’s mouth they met scouts sent to survey the gnolls’ activity. They learned that the Tiriky’s Tej House  had been attacked by bloodthirsty gnoll reavers, with many casualties. With the scouts was Lucky, and whilst the others departed to report to Port Nyanzaru’s authorities, he decided to join his erstwhile companions to take a closer look at the site of the massacre.

Sure enough the members of the Tej House’ staff were all dead but, there was also 2 gnolls amongst the corpses, killed by fishermen customers by the look of it. The Ranger sensed that something was amiss, the awful odor of a Giant Hyena was terribly overwhelming and very much recent, like less than an hour-recent. They knew that they had to prepare for a fight…

Lucky hid in a damaged straw house and summoned his illusory double. Rufb and Flyzus prepared their weapons. A Giant Hyena emerged from the jungle, followed by a Gnoll Hunter. Another gnoll, a large and battle-scarred Pack Lord, howled a warcry and the 2 dead gnolls got up on their feet: Whiterlings!

The Barbarian filled his soul with rage and cursed the gods that he had lost his great axe in a chasm… He only had this ridiculous lameass trident (however well-balanced), not a true warrior’s weapon at all (2)! Nonetheless he charged the Gnolls with abandon. Flyzus’ skillful swordmanship did great damage while Lucky’s double provided opportune distraction and soon, the PCs had triumphed (for the third time) against the savage Gnolls.

Naumachia (3)

Finally back in town, the PCs  spent well-earned gold and learned that the next big gladiatorial event was near ready. The pirates of the Stirge were to meet justice in the arena, and the organizers were quick to publicize the participation of the “Lord Elf “(Flyzus), the very one that had helped capture them!

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At the Grand Coliseum:

The Pirates vs the Mercenaries!

1 swashbuckler, 2 thugs, 6 bandits

vs

Flyzus, Rufb, 4 bandits, 1 halfling acolyte, 1 halfling archer

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Water pumped in the arena wasn’t deep, 4 or 5 feet max, but it was sufficient so sharks could swim in, adding to the spectacle. The pirates couldn’t hope to surrender this time and thus were determined to fight ’til the end. The pirate captain, showing off his acrobatic skills, jumped behind his foes while his men crossed the planks. The Barbarian got in a duel against a tough pirate lieutenant while Flyzus got in a confused melee at the center. The pirate captain tried to take advantage of a busy Flyzus and wounded him with quick rapier stabs but the latter killed the outclassed men around him and focused his attention on the dishonorable scoundrel.

The so-called “mercenaries” had only  lost 2 men and another had fell in the water and had been helped out just before a shark could attack him. As for the pirates, they were decimated, with the Ranger and Barbarian responsible for most of it. The pirate captain fell last, but not before attempting some daring manoeuvers. With multiple wounds already from Flyzus’ swords, he couldn’t escape the enraged Rufb dead set on killing him.

Victory to the Mercenaries!

DM’s Notes

  1. The passage of time in my campaign got a little fuzzy so I could accommodate players to have their characters together…
  2. It was funny as hell as Chris seemed to botched rolls every 2 rounds and blamed the trident!
  3. It was many sessions ago that we had an arena fight. I figured that an aquatic set-up would be suitably memorable!

 

1) Black Barrow, Barrow Lair, Crypt of the Damned

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:

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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

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 lose cards 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!

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!

Isaac’s adventures – I

I started something with my 5 years old son a couple of months ago. Each morning I walk him to school and we have a really good time together, chatting and all. And so, somewhere along the way I began telling him stories. Fantasy stuff. And oh boy! that’s the fun part, he fully goes at it and tell parts of his own. He’s amazingly good at it too. Now he asks for it every day and- I’m stuck with it not always in the mood- but he likes it  sooooo very much!

Of course, he’s a bit young and he doesn’t quite grasp what are the hmm… proper conventions of the genre… That leads to some funny bits.

  • Me: There’s a stair, made of stone, covered in dust. It’s going down and we can’t see very far, it’s very dark. What are we gonna do?
  • My son: I have a flashlight!

  • Me: The thief is going away with the labyrinth’s trophy! He’s very nimble and fast. How do we catch him?
  • My son: We take the car, we’ll be faster!
  • Me:`Oh! We have a car!
  • My son: Yes. And a driving license.
  • Me: Ha! We need a driving license?
  • My son: Yes daddy. If we want to drive the car we need a driving license.
  • Me: Uh ok! Makes sense.

    We’re talking about what else to add to our grand castle:

  • Me: We need a large banquet room. So we can invite a lot of people and serve them a lot of good food.
  • My son: Yes. And also there’s a mcdonald right next to the castle!

  • Me: There’s a door, with a message scribbled on it. It says: beware trespassers, great dangers awaits you ahead.
  • My son: …
  • Me: Probably traps and monsters, huh?
  • My son: It’s too dangerous daddy, let’s go elsewhere.

Here’s a list of unusual friends we have made while adventuring:

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  • giant spiders, ensnare our foes with their webs
  • a giant, intelligent lobster
  • a three-headed dragon
  • ogres, they were bad guys at first but we helped them out