Merchants of Anuire – Session 3 – Out of the Swamp and back Home

Character Cast

  • Fancey Fleetfooted, Wanderer, Anuirean Male lvl 2 (Edmond)
  • Ciavey the Peddler, Treasure Hunter, Halfling Male, lvl 2 (Isaac)
  • Lucian the Quiet, Scholar, Anuirean Male, lvl 2 (NPC)
  • Dragon the Pony
  • Death-from-Above, Trained Falcon

SHORT JOURNEY- Moderate Terrain – from Spiritsend Swamp (Duchy of Osoerde) to Fairfield (Barony of Roesone)

  • Embarkation roll: 3 (The Keen Eyes of the Enemy)
  • Event roll (1): 10 (A Place Touched by the Shadow)
  • Event roll (2): 7 (A Hunt)
  • Arrival roll: 6 (Grimly Determined)

WEATHER – Cold, Drizzle

Swamp Mummy

Fleeing from the duke’s men into the Spiritsend Swamp, the rebels separated in smaller bands. Ciavey, Fancey and Lucian got together with 3 rebels and slowly navigated the treacherous paths between fetid pools of bubbling water. Night soon fell on them, and with it occured a thinning of the barrier with the Shadow world … An ancient evil manifested itself, skeletons suddenly surged from the dark waters – they seemed everywhere – and a more terrible foe: a swamp mummy! Fancey shot 2 arrows at the mummy but that didn’t seem to wound it very much. They had to get out of there fast! The small band managed to destroy 3 skeletons blocking the way but one rebel (who shall die nameless) got caught by a fearsome blow of the Swamp Mummy and that was the end of him. Another (anonymous) rebel got cut down by another wave of skeletons, with their rusty swords. The survivors managed to get out of the flooded area and finally put some distance between them and the undead.

Another Swamp Thing

Exhausted and wounded, the small band walked another hour before they felt safe enough to take a rest. But as they sat down a strange figure emerged from the ground just a few feet away. Vaguely humanoid, it looked like an upright tangle of roots, moss and decomposing organic matter. And it talked, of course it talked! It presented itself as the Swamp Mage, an ally of the rebels in their fight against the Duke. It told them that it would keep the powers of the Shadow in check, until they could join the rebels’ camp.

Meeting Siele Ghoried

The rebels thought their position in Osoerde too precarious, but they knew they could count on neighboring kingdom of Arenwe to seek refuge from the usurper’s soldiers. Preparations had been made to cross the river, with bargemen from Calrie assisting them. Out of the swamp, the PCs wished good luck to the rebels and parted ways. The next day, in the port city of Calrie, the PCs looked for whatever business opportunities they could find and this soon led them to meet Siele Ghoried the merchant guildmaster. Siele was happy to meet fellow Rosoenian and they had lot to talk together. It thus occured to them that they shared an enemy: Othrien Tane the Merchant/Bandit. They agreed to work together from now on.

To Eclipse the Eclipse Knight

The PCs left Calrie behind aboard one of Siele’s caravan bound west for Roesone. At a crossroad a black & gold armored knight was lying down, maybe sleeping, only getting up when the caravan was almost on him. He then issued his usual challenge, a duel, that nobody was foolish enough to accept.

The Griffon

Almost at the border, with the Black Hills ahead of them, the PCs had to repel a griffon that seemed interested in having a little snack. Fortunately, a well-aimed arrow from Fancey convinced the majestic beast to go look elsewhere for his meat.

The Bandits of Wulfgar the Bloodthirsty

A bit further they were ambushed by Othrien’s men, led by the infamous Wulfgar the Bloodthirsty. The merchants were outnumbered 3 to 7. Or so it seemed… 8 men, selected by Siele Ghoried, revealed themselves from inside the caravan and attacked the bandits. After a fierce but brief struggle Wulfgar, sporting many wounds, chose to surrender. The victorious caravan guards split the spoils and then proceeded to bring the tied-up bandit chief to justice.

Afterward Fancey, Ciavey and Lucian left their new allies and got back home.

DM notes

  • The starting action was nice. Just fighting skeletons would have been boring, but fighting skeletons while fleeing from a much too powerful mummy? That’s what I call a good fight!
  • The kids really wondered what was up with the Swamp Mage, as I’ve decided that his appearance would be disquieting and all. Not every good person have blonde hair, y’know?
  • There’s a lot of politics going on in the background. Of course most of it is lost on the kids, that’s just a thing I do for my own enjoyment but still, it seems obvious now that a birthright campaign is an awkward thing to do with young players… I’ll have to think about that.
  • In French we can use the word eclipse as a verb, I don’t think we can in English. I had a silly wordplay in mind: To eclipse the Eclipse Knight, does it make any sense?
  • The fight with the bandits was boring. Or I wasn’t motivated maybe. D&D combat can quickly devolve on dice throwing for the sake of throwing dice if the DM is not careful.

I3 Pharaoh – Please Loot My Tomb

I’m not really doing a review of this classic egyptian-themed D&D module (by Tracy and Laura Hickman), there’s plenty of them out there , I’ll just highlight a few things that stood out for me as I read it.

The first thing I did mentionned in the title of this post, the premise is an unusual one, the dungeon’s « owner » actually wants you to succeed! For his sins in life and foremost his vanity, the Pharaoh has brought a curse upon himself: he cannot enter the afterlife unless someone steal his most prized possessions. The irony is that of course, before he was cursed, he did took the utmost care to make his pyramid theft-proof!

Another major selling point for this module is the actual design of the lair. It’s archeologically sound. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch… Of course, there’s D&d nonsensical magic afoot but… It’s as near a realistic lair/tomb as a D&D adventure can achieve, I think. For example, there’s a « Plundered Tomb » level to fool would-be defilers into thinking they’re too late. There’s also some few nice instances of verticality in the navigation of the lair that is often neglected with most dungeons. All in all, it’s very well done.

There’s 2 non-hostile factions. The Thunes Dervishes want to protect the sanctity of the Pyramid and won’t allow defiling (looting) around them. At the same time, their leader is missing and is somewhere in the tomb. They could help the PCs, if those talk smoothly, but they’ll turned against them fast if they act as PCs are wont to do… And then there’s the bandits, who’ve had enough of the pyramid and just wish to get out. They’ll take the PCs help if offered, but they could well succumb to greed if they see any wealth brashly displayed. Interesting.

Mummy: the Return of the Tendinitis

Some more random things:

  • There’s a kind of magic healing water supply at the Temple (the entrance of the pyramid). In typical rpg fashion it is specified that the healing water loses its beneficial properties outside of the pyramid’s perimeter. Obviously to foil some players’ idiotic money scheme, I mean, I can clearly see something like: « let’s haul gallons and gallons of this water outta here, set a shop in town and we’ll be rich, nevermind the treasures! » A few years ago I had a player who loved these kind of gimmicks even if it meant, y’know, ditching the actual adventure part.
  • I’m not a fan of silliness (unless it’s my own brand) in purchased adventures. In Pharaoh, you can find a chest (trapped) full of old used orc socks. First, orcs have socks? Second, really? Orc socks in a chest? And there’s also exploding pineapples and oh! Prit the Gnome who digs tunnels with only his spoon! Sigh
  • I like the weak, but unkillable Chabang (mud) Men. The PCs can’t hack & slash away this sort of trouble and have to be clever about it.
  • The BBE (Big Bad Evil), Munafiq the power-hungry High-Priest – of course he’s now undead- is unnecessary. If I ran this adventure, I would refurbish him so he’d be a more subtle encounter.

Merchants of Anuire Session 2: A Bundle of Swords

The boys had to clean-up their playroom as a condition to play in a rpg session with me. They did a thorough job, talk about a great incentive!

Character Cast

  • Fancey Fleetfooted, Wanderer, Anuirean Male lvl 1>>2 (Edmond)
  • Ciavey the Peddler, Treasure Hunter, Halfling Male, lvl 1>>2 (Isaac)
  • Lucian the Quiet, Scholar, Anuirean Male, lvl 1>>2 (NPC)
  • Dragon the Pony
  • Death-from-Above, Trained Falcon

SHORT JOURNEY- Moderate Terrain – from Bellam Castle (Barony of Roesone) to Spiritsend Swamp (Duchy of Osoerde)

  • Embarkation roll: 10 (Hidden from Shadows)
  • Event roll (1): 4 (In need of Help)
  • Event roll (2): 4 (In need of help)
  • Arrival roll: 8 (Inspired and filled with Hope)

WEATHER – Cold, Clear

Hunting a Troll

The Count of Bellam invited the PCs to a more substantial hunt after they had captured poachers. A TROLL was roaming in the contryside, terrorizing everybody. Several patrols were sent after the monster and the PCs joined one. Fancey soon found tracks and not much later they stumbled upon the remains of a slain bear. It so happened that their own patrol found the troll (10% chance)! Peppering it with arrows with another handful of archers, they managed to wound it enough so that soldiers with spears could close-in, immobilize it before dousing it with oil and killing it with fire… 4 soldiers were grievously wounded by the troll. It went well.

The Rebels of Osoerde

An agent of the Spider River Traders convinced the PCs to bring weapons across the border, in the duchy of Osoerde. William Moergen, the true heir of Osoerde, is leading a desperate guerilla war against his late father’s ex-lieutenant, the usurper Jaison Raenech. He’s presently hidden in the Spiritsend Swamp. The Rendez-vous is just outside the swamp at its most western part.

Tumultuous Border

Leaving Bellam county, the PCs walked on a sinuous road through a hilly region before reaching the farmlands of Osoerde. A few hours in and they can see a dwarven caravan being assaulted by miners-turned-bandits. Well positioned on the slope above the ambush, Fancey and Ciavey quickly kill 3 bandits with arrows and then manage to kill the bandit leader with 2 more arrows. The surviving bandits surrender and are free to leave. Mazzik, on behalf of the grateful Dwarves, gives a nice helm to Ciavey.

A few hours later, horseriders want to know the PCs’ business in Osoerde but silver-tongued Ciavey convince the patrolmen of their legitimacy.

Swampfever

The PCs arrive at a small, isolated village that suffers from a plague of swampfever. Lucian knows what kind of healing herbs could help them, if they ever find any.

Payment Interrupted

They finally arrived at the rendez-vous point and were proceeding to the exchange when shouts alarmed them of an incoming enemy patrol. The PCs and rebels fled in the Spiritsend Swamp and evaded the duke’s men.

DM notes

  • The Troll killed the bear gratuitously, meaning its truly a monster and deserving of death.
  • The PCs are almost out of arrows from all that shooting
  • 2 hours is about the max I can do if we’re to play with Edmond, not bad at all

Merchants of Anuire – Session 1 – Wine & Venison

Happy New year!

I’m starting what may be a whole new campaign with my kids. I’ve kept this first session really basic. I hope to get things more imaginative in the next sessions, if we keep at it.

Campaign frame

  • We’re playing in the Birthright (TSR 1995) setting, with the continent of Cerilia. I was fascinated by this setting when I was a teenager and I can make use of the impressive level of details it got for the style of campaign I have in mind
  • Oddly, I’m using Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle Earth (5e OGL adaptation), even if it’s not Tolkien’s world we’re playing in, for the implied low magic setting and also, from this book there’s the Journey Mechanics that suits perfectly my purpose for a mercantile campaign of sort
  • In this homebrewed version of Birthright, there’s no blooded scions à la highlander. Maybe there’ll be a simplified domain/regency play but that would be much further in the campaign
  • Azrai is Cerilia’s version of Sauron and is responsible for most that is evil in the world. If someone do evil he’s in fact succumbing to Azrai’s « Shadow ». Too much of this and you turn into a literal monster.

Background

The kingdom of Anuire is at peace but, with the Iron Throne still vacant, war may not be far.

In Eastern Anuire, in the Barony of Roesone…

Mattheus, Ciavey’s Uncle, has been ambushed by thugs, most certainly from Orthien Tane’s gang. Many of his long-time employees have been slain and Mattheus himself is in a critical state. Fighting for his life and facing bankruptcy, Mattheus relies on his nephew (and his friends) to save the family business.

Character Cast

  • Fancey Fleetfooted, Wanderer, Anuirean Male lvl 1 (Edmond)
  • Ciavey the Peddler, Treasure Hunter, Halfling Male, lvl 1 (Isaac)
  • Lucian the Quiet, Scholar, Anuirean Male, lvl 1 (NPC)
  • Dragon the Pony (NPC)

Roads well-traveled

SHORT JOURNEY- Easy Terrain – from Fairfield to Bellam Castle (Barony of Roesone)

  • Embarkation roll: 11 (with hopeful hearts and clear purpose)
  • Journey events roll (x1): 1 (a chance encounter)
  • Arrival roll: 7 (tall tales and great deeds)

WEATHER – Cloudy

  • Talked to farmers around Fairfield, bought sheep wool, bought an old broadsword
  • Reached Abbey of the Lady, sold sheep wool, bought high-end wine. A woodcutter, a servant of the abbey, is missing. PCs chose not to take part in a rescue sortie.
  • Encountered Spider River Traders merchants going the other way, one Hughes said they could make some well-paid work if they go at their outpost in the west
  • Paid the ferry toll to cross Black river
  • Reached Bellam Castle, sold Abbey of the Lady wine for good profit
  • Just in time for an archery contest! Fancey took part with 3 other competitors and won with the best shot after 3 arrows! The prize is a wonderful Trained Falcon which is promptly named Death-from-Above.
  • The Count of Bellam praises Fancey for his win and offers him to become a game warden. Fancey don’t want to settle down and says so. The Count asks if he would do a one-time job then of hunting down poachers for him?
  • Fancey and Ciavey accept the job. Fancey uses his impressive tracking skills and they find the poachers, 2 Halflings, in the forest near a spring. They kill one with 2 arrows, the other flees but quickly surrender when Death-From-Above is launched at him.
  • Gained valuable Red Deer venison and antlers

DM notes

  • The 3 « Journey » rolls were almost optimal, which means less danger on the road and more profitable deals
  • I had a little talk with the boys about killing a poacher after the session. I should have done it beforehand. I don’t want them killing non-monsters left and right just because they can. Something about raising kids properly and all!
  • Mom roleplayed Count of Bellam to great effect!

Choose a Sponsor for your Dungeon Delve

A neat idea from the gamebook Battlepits of Krarth (Dave Morris, Oliver Johnson) is to make you start the adventure while choosing a sponsor as the first obligatory step before entering said battlepits. In pure gamebook fashion you can choose blindly and then of course you risk getting a bad one (one sponsor is actually a vampire who, guess what, is more interested in getting your blood than having champions to compete), or, you know, you could try to get some information first and make a better choice…

Those are « Sponsors » too but they’re a bit, huh, different?

Of course, a Choose Your Own Adventure has a limited scope and so there’s only three sponsors to choose from (others are mentionned but aren’t availaible). One good, one bad and one really bad (the aforementionned vampire). An interesting twist is that the good one, Magus Balthazar, is harder to get, he’s actually picky as to whom he chooses. It’s not like he wants the first boneheads to cross his door to represent him in this prestigious, yearly competion. No, no, no. You will be tested, and if your intelligence is found lacking, well… You’ll have to find another sponsor.

This asshole doesn’t care one bit if you die horribly…

With a Tabletop RPG, of course, you could have a lot more options to choose from, leading to interesting roleplaying opportunities.

But what’s the point of having a sponsor? Well, suppose you get one that’s interested in your prolonged well-being, a sponsor could ensure that your chances of success are a bit better, providing you with starting funds, equipment, henchmen and so on… And, depending on the style of play, maybe a kind of insurance against setbacks (healing services, or even resurrection).

In any case, there would have to be something to gain for the sponsor too. A share of the profits, first bid on precious stuff, etc. In a TTRPG, a sponsor wouldn’t be a simple employer, there’s a long-term relationship (or debt serving) to consider.

If I ever do something like a megadungeon campaign, you can be sure there’ll be sponsors around!

More locations for Jungle/Chult hexcrawl

Dinosaur Boneyard

Miles upon miles of massive bones with no vegetation whatsoever. Somewhere in the middle is the ancient mansion of a necromancer. But first you’d have to get past the carrion critters and various undead dinosaurs.

Pit of the Broken Idols

A cave where a long-lost civilization have thrown offensive statues down the 60′ deep shaft. Their residual power has taken shape as a powerful Eidolon.

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Treant Permaculture

A spectacular array of flowers and rare medicinal plants amongst the tallest trees of the jungle. This is the works of a cigar-smoking treant that doesn’t take kindly to trespassers. Sometimes, he does need help to get a rare plant he wants to add to his domain or to eradicate something particularly bothersome.

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Plateau of the Aarakocra

A rocky promontory that serves as a place of commerce for Aarakocra traders of the Mistcliffs and their partners. Huge quetzacoatlus are used to bring goods from afar.

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Ubtao’s Tooth

Rogue, evil Aarakocra, have made their lair atop this lonely peak. They’re given to banditry. They have tongueless harpies as their wretched slaves.

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Sacred Cenote

A very ancient site of worship, originally to some obscure amphibian deity. Glittering precious stones can be seen in the pristine water of the pool. Evil winds are always present as well as more tangible threats.

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Tunnel Cave (Mistcliffs)

A several miles long cave makes the link from dense, batiri-infested jungles to the coast, through the mistcliffs mountains. There’s many divergent paths and a lot of dangerous critters along the way.

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Jagged Summit (Mistcliffs)

The greatest aarakocra « nest » of the mistcliffs, the numerous sentinels patrolling the air don’t miss much. Only rare visitors are considered trustworthy enough to be allowed further.

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Sunken Firefinger

One of several rock tower that served to guard the border of the now defunct mezroan empire. This one has sunken below ground, only the uppermost tip remains. The lower part is now in the middle of a cave system inhabited by strange creatures.

Seashore House

Along the eastern coast, this lonely house is inhabited by a friendly hermit. Friendly unless you’re a pirate, if so you better give a wide berth to his house.

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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 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. This 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 a room they had opened but had chose not to enter before. A room with two slabs of stone with shed serpent skins… waitaminute… 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 (of course it did) to come back…

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 sprinting away from them. The Barbarian, the fastest runner of the PCs, 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. But this fight was meh.
  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 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 gripplis finished, Flyzus and Rufb were going back to Port Nyanzaru. At the river’s mouth they met scouts sent to survey worrying gnolls activity. They learned that the Tiriky’s Tej House  had been attacked by bloodthirsty gnoll reavers, with many casualties. Here 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 half-eaten gnolls amongst the corpses, killed by defending fishermen 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 captured 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 for sharks to 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 but had been helped out just before a shark could bite 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!

Session 12 – Terrible Mandibles

I had a cold and was dead-tired but it was still a worthwhile session, if a little of the filling sort. Guillaume had to look after his baby son (the joy of parenthood!) but he managed to join us halfway in the session.

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
  • Kalohan, High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life
  • Phileas, Half-Elf Bard (College of Swords), Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Goro-Tso, Human NPC (Berserker template), Mercenary, devotee of Malar; bought by promises of gold and tej, have yet to see much of either

Spider Riders (1)

The previous session the PCs had a fight against a small patrol from the Canopy Drummers (batiri goblins)  and had emerged victorious. They tried to put some distance before nightfall, between themselves and their goblin foes, and had crossed into another tribe’s territory. This, apparently did not suffice to deter pursuit, or at least, from some fast-moving skirmishers: Spider Riders.

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A (spider) Swarm descended from the trees upon the poor, terrified Kalohan, while 3 Spider Riders moved to attack the PCs from a distance. Shin, quick to assert the main threat, let loose 2 magically-charged shadow arrows, killing the leader of the skirmishers, a goblin wearing a weird spider hat. The cleric of Tymora and the Elf wizard blasted to bits the spider Swarm with magic bolts and divine fire while the bard tried in vain some mind-trick on a Giant (medium) Spider.

The 2 remaining spiders failed to catch anybody with their webs. The goblins threw venom-dipped javelins and one downed Kalohan and the other wounded Philleas. However, the adventurers still clearly had the advantage after these first exchanges and they finished the skirmishers despite their annoying shoot-and-hide tactics.

A few antitoxin vials and healing spells from the cleric later and the PCs were ready to go.

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Jason’s character is now wearing this, on his head… The start of a new trend?

The Mantis Warrior

On top of a huge fallen tree stood a Giant Mantis, eerily still (2). Already upset with her recent encounter with giant spiders, Kalohan immediately hurled a fire bolt at the thing. The Giant Mantis dashed towards the PCs but their combined attacks forced its transformation into its true form, that of a disgusted-looking goblin shaman. The latter didn’t wasted time and transformed back into his more threatening Mantis shape and attacked savagely Philleas with spiked forelegs and bite.

The Mantis Warrior proved to be a worthy adversary but he was alone against 4. His wild shape once again used up, he tried to flee but the adventurers shot him in the back and he died.

Should have killed that dude the first time

Later the same night, the PCs were alerted by some ruckus, something was approaching. In fact, it was Corpos and Goro-Tso, running away from a pack of ghouls (3). Scavo, the ghoul they’d freed (and tortured) earlier, told them that he wasn’t such a big fan of goblin flesh after all…

The 5 ghouls caught up with the 2 they were pursuing, but the cleric of Tymora intervened and his Turn Undead sent 3 of them sprinting wildly the way they came. The PCs had no intention to let them go however, they used their always efficient ranged attacks to mow down the flesh-eating monsters.

Scavo attempted a pathetic plea for mercy (yet again) and Philleas the bard responded with the quote of the day: « indeed, I know, I totally agree, it’s just a big misunderstanding », then he lopped the ghoul’s head off…

A Giggle in the Dark

Now near exhaustion from back-to-back fights, the PCs  saw goblin scribblings on the trees that Lucky deciphered as a warning to Batiri, that further ahead laid a dangerous area. That certainly posed a conundrum, it would mean a place away from the goblins but at what risk? What if whatever it was that rendered this area dangerous for the goblins proved too lethal for the depleted adventurers? They tried their luck.

But what was that they heard? A giggle? (4)

They were fortunate to have stumbled (5) in a friendly, somewhat over-excited dryad’s territory. After some chatter to satisfy the socially-starved fey, the PCs could finally have a decent rest. Next day, after offering them a delicious breakfast of berries and nectar, the dryad asked if they could solve a problem of hers: a burrowing monster was damaging the nearby trees’ roots to her great dismay. She had gifts for them if they would be so kind…

Acid-Spitting Giant Motherfuckin’ Centipede!

The PCs accepted gladly. Following her advice, they baited the monster with dead animals placed near its lair. The thing did showed itself and combat ensued (6). The well-rested adventurers had many tools at their disposal. The Tabaxi blinded the (Large) Centipede with a special arrow. The beast’s tremorsense couldn’t detect the levitating Kalohan, Shin perched on a branch, nor Corpos and Lucky whom were too far. It left the tough Goro-Tso and nimble Philleas as targets. It did managed to grab the bard between its fearsome mandibles, grievously wounding him, but it soon succumbed under the combined onslaught of its attackers.

The Dryad was overjoyed with this victory and gave the PCs well-crafted bows and magic mu-ngyengyue bracelets.

DM’s Notes

  1. I’m a bit cruel with my arachnophobe sister…
  2. The Mantis Warrior wished to make a deal with the PCs. It just didn’t happen the way I planned!
  3. A player that is late is very often the cause of such a dissonant scene, whereas his character oddly re-appear just like that…
  4. Okay, turns out that  I’m totally inept at giggling! Ha! Ha!
  5. Lenient DM
  6. Took an ankheg from the monster manual and boosted it a little.

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

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art: Conor Nolan

The Pit

The PCs waited for night-time, as the ritual chants of the Gripplis 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.

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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 aside, his companions close behind.

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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 work 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 gripplis that had not been transformed yet. There was hope for them still, 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 grippli 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 just in time before he was asphyxiated or crushed to death.

Through the Wall

After a short rest, the PCs pressed on but were soon faced with aa obstacle. 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’s Leap ».

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

The glass-skinned frogman 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 or whatnot
  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 back to back sessions so, just the axe…