SS Week 6 – Mission Accomplished!

30 July, 2011

A long session, but surprisingly little to say – basically one big fight.

And so our intrepid heroes decide to descend on the cannibal camp and wipe them out. Fun times! There is much discussion, but eventually they decide on a simple attack.

Which is about the right approach for this DM, sad to say.

Although much happened, there is little to say. The party attacked. There is a guard animal – a trained shiv dragon – at the entrance to the camp, whom spiky engages in a reptile vs reptile battle. Some tense moments as cannibals in a guard tower spear Barmy with javelins. But an Entangle spell soon puts an end to that, controlling the onrush of foes, and a few alchemical bombs take care of the tower.

The party were doing well, when Klorak the Red emerges from a doorway with two more cannibals and challenges Barmy. He looks to overmatch Barmy and then mop up, but Mephisto drops a Cause Fear on him and he flees. The party continue to slay the natives.

After a few more moments, an old witch emerges, and with her four skeletons. But a bomb takes care of the skeletons, and then Vick drops over the witch a fishing net festooned with hooks. Without a wall of allies in front of her, there is little she can do to defend herself.

After a few moments more, Klorak returns – looking for a little healing. But it’s simply too late – all of the tribe is dead. Even with the witch’s aid, he is done for, and she also. Her final words: “Arrgh”. But a tiny bit prior to that, her penultimate words if you will: “Mother Thrunefang take you all!”

“Oh crap!” Everyone thinks, “you mean, she isn’t “Mother Thrunefang”? Bummer!”

The camp falls quiet (but not silent – the jungle is never really silent). Closer now, they appraise the lighthouse. It is – amazingly, surprisingly, blessedly complete. Not the half-built pile of stones that they feared, but it seems fully built. All that is left to do is to search the rest of the camp for stray cannibals, and signal for rescue.

Or, so they suppose.

A real victory for control-type spells: the Entangle and Cause Fear were key – as was that hooky netty thingo. The witch mainly does stuff that works off having a meat-shield. But with Klorak out of the picture, there’s not a lot she could do. I rolled for how many rounds it would take for Malikadna and Klorak to get to the fight, and they did not roll well. If they had gotten there earlier, it might have been much tougher. As it was, the party only has to split XP with one NPC (the cleric). They did have a coupe of unpleasant moments, which is what you want.

Having said that, I think the party does feel the pinch in having only one front-line fighter. If Klorak had made his save, taken down Barmy, and got in amongst the casters: it would have turned out very, very differently.

All up, the combat took one minute, 24 seconds. Three or four hours real time. Slo-mo or what?

12 Cannibals @200 xp – 2400
Klorak the Red – 800
Malikadna – 800
1 shiv dragon – 600
4 skeletons @135 – 540
Total: 5140 xp
4 characters + 1 NPC + 1/2 share for Vick: 5.5 shares = 935 (467) xp each.

Vick: 2376
M’Bongo: 2859
Joseph: 2640
Barmy: 2263
Meph: 2608

SS Week 5 – God, what an idiot.

23 July, 2011

OK! Four players this week. Characters are everyone but Joseph.

I think I might adopt present-tense for this blog. Seemed to work of for the Age of Worms blog.

Our party settles down for an evening’s rest. But as they do, the spirit of Captain Kinkarian steps out from the fire. “Mutineers! Thieves! Scurvy dogs and pirates!” he cries (There’s a bit of “Ashmara!” in there as well) and attacks Mephitso. Vick steps in and splashes holy water on the spirit, and Mephisto tries to reason with him. But the captain is having none of it, and strikes Mephisto with a blow that nearly kills him outright. Ignoring everyone else, he begins to scrabble through Mephisto’s pockets – looking for the locket – but his hands pass right though. “Damn and blast this damn clumsy hook!” he roars, and “Ashmara!”.

Vik steps over, and deftly plucks the locket from Mephisto’s (very nearly) corpse says “Here you are, Cap’n” and tosses it to the ghost. But the locket, of course, flies straight though the capatains insubstantial form, and is neatly caught by Barmy. “Make sport of me, will ye, ye treacherous mutineers!” he roars, and takes a swipe. Meanwhile, Barmy tosses the locket into the fire. The captain ignores everything else for a moment and begins scrabbling about in the fire – ignoring the flames which, being nonmagical, cannot harm him.

But the same insubstantialness that protects him from the fire also means that he cannot handle the locket. Not understanding his condition, he blames it again on his clumsy hook. The rest of the party can do little – there is only one magic weapon among them. Jask heals Mephisto, bringing him back from the brink. Mephisto risks all, plucking the locket from the fire and opening it, presents the image within at the captain.

The captain whispers “Ashmara!” and reaches out his hand – a hand now, no longer a hook, his visage no longer a death’s-head, but young and handsome. And then he fades away, dissolving into nothing.

I didn’t want to just bloody tell the party what to do – to have the captain cry “If only I could look on her face one more time!” or some such. I did make some effort to satisfy myself that they understood that the item was a locket that had to be opened. Oh, and they discussed tossing it in the fire – so when that asked me for more detail, I made the image on the inside enameled.

The captain, of course, is not really a full personality – just a ghost. Hence his refusal to engage the party – there just isn’t that much of him left. Also, if he started talking he’d probably give the solution to the puzzle away, which I did not want to do 😉 .

I awarded Mephisto a little bonus XP.

That night, their camp is clumsily watched by something in the trees. One of them steps right on a branch and breaks it with a loud snap. The next exclaims “You idiot! You stepped on a branch!”, and the third loudly proclaims “I am the only one who has not made a noise!” (they rolled a 1, 2, and 1 for stealth.) Even dead asleep, this racket begins to wake people.

Barmy begins to casualy saunter over to the treeline, as if to take a leak. M’bongo drops a sleep spell on the three, but one remains awake. That one steps over to his comrade to wake him, and both are hit with a bomb from the alchemist which hits freakishly well and kills them on on the spot. The third wakes screaming in pain from the splash. In a few seconds more, Barmy is there and grapples and pins the cannibal. They tie him securely – with ten in the party, he’s not going anywhere.

Next morning, Mephisto investigates. The cannibal is muttering some pidgin of common and infernal, and is praying to “Mother Thrunefang”. Mephisto convinces the cannibal that he was sent to meet this Mother Thrunefang, to which the cannibal replies by asking “Are you with the other two?”

Well! This does rather send the party into a tizz, as “the other two” can only be Iaena – the varsivian scholar probably behind their shipwreck – and the captain of the Jeniveve.

Mephisto replies “Yes, we are destinined to met with them, too”, or something, and Jim-Bob agrees to take them to the cannibal’s camp.

Jim-Bob failed his sense motive checks badly. We decided that he was pretty much an idiot – at least when it came to common sense about parties of strangers. He rapidly conveyed the party across the map, skirting the traps.

The party, guided by the hapless and servile Jim-Bob, travels about six or seven miles before meeting another pair of cannibals on the path. These two are not quite so easy to fool as Jim-Bob, and one of them states that he will run to tell Mother Thrunefang of their arrival.

Well, they can’t have that. M’Bongo drops an entangle and Vik starts dropping bombs. Barmy steps up. Jim-Bob rolls badly again and is paralysed with indecision as spiky steps up and gores him to death. As the two cannibals in the patrol breathe their last, Mephisto brings Jim-Bob back from the brink. But Jim-Bob has had enough and runs for the forest, taking sideswiping attacks from pretty much everyone as he prepares to run for it, and gets thoroughly killed.

Low on spells and bombs, the party opts to head off-path and set up camp. They make a special effort to conceal their camp, but have plenty of time to so so before sunset. That afternoon, Vik brews potions from the abundant supplies that he has been collecting while traveling though the Shiv.

Tomorrow, they go to attack some cannibals.

Vik – 1909 xp
M’bongo – 1914 xp
Joseph – 1705 xp
Barmy – 1613 xp
Mephisto – 1663 xp

GG Season 3 – Character concept

19 July, 2011

I proposed doing a Drow druid whose wild shape was a spider swarm. Here’s the mail:

With the whole spiders thing it sounds like your character will need to have a seriously good reason to be working for bahamut, I’m very interested to hear what you come up with!

Also the powers sound very lolth-centric. Being a drow that turns into spiders isn’t going to help his reputation any. He’s going to be chased by many an angry villager mob!

Hmm … ok. If having a Drow in the party is just going to be infeasible in the campaign setting, then that’s the way it is (unless he can have a free hat of disquise). However:

Azroth was taught to venerate the Spider Queen and her tiny avatars from an early age, of course. Like any drow, “Lolth” was his first word, and he learned the litanies for children: a test both of faithfulness and intelligence, as any child unable to memorise the formulas suitable for their age is put to death.

However: Azroth took it all a shade too seriously. He watched the spiders weave their webs and hunt their prey, he learned their behaviour and the cycles of their lives, and over the years began to understand them not merely as ruthless predators, but as a necessary part of the whole weave of life. He escaped death because the drow around him simply assumed him to be more than ordinarily pious – but the truth was just the opposite. It came together suddenly, the insight that was to define his life: Loth did not own the spiders, they were not hers. They belonged to themselves, to life itself, to the world. He pledged himself to them, and through them to all the world of living things.

It was not long before he first assumed his wild shape, and understood what he had become.

He fled that very night.

Lolth has some … rather specific punishments for drow that turn to primal power. Those that repent might have the relative good fortune to be made into driders – horrible mockeries of the druidic change, wrought with alchemy and her divine will. Those that don’t repent tend to live long – days or weeks too long. And more: his own form, that of the swarm, is rare. Not for him the brief but horrible transformation into drider, but months or years of systematic experiment.

And so, a life of hiding and fleeing when discovered. And a life of service. Poor Azroth! He does not expect to be understood – not even by other druids. Caught between the drow and their zeal for Lolth, and the surfacers and their instinctive fear and loathing for spiders, either would torture and kill him (if for different reasons).

But war is coming – the trees and low things whisper that Tiamat and Bahamut are set to rekindle their ancient enmity, and places to hide will become more and more difficult to find – every fallen log lifted, every stone turned. And so Azroth considers. If there is no escape from conflict and war, if discovery by one or the other side is inevitable, then the followers of Bahamut would be relatively merciful, and would spare him being handed over to the horrible and unnatural experiments of the drow – both Tiamat and Bahamut hate Lolth, but the hate of Bahumut has no treachery in it.

And so he chooses his course. He will seek out the followers of the platinum dragon, hoping to find an ally, or a swift and relatively merciful death.