Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5e at the Citadel: The Gang Almost Causes A Zombie Apocalypse

After The One With the Gauth, the party divvied up treasure (four ways since Gilroy and Charmagnus still had to work dumb mundane world jobs).  Of note, Valen got the cloak that let him turn into a bat and Julius got the boots of stealth.  The party very firmly decided not to go back to Hagatha, Haras, and Hindra, and thus forged on the opposite way.  They traveled for about a day, realized they were pretty much not in swamps any more, and as night fell, they set up camp.

Now, the idea they came up with was pretty clever: hang the curtain to the secret room with the Chimera heads between two trees and everyone can sleep in the curtain while someone stands guard.  Valen turned into a bat with his cloak and hung up in a tree, Keeri Lo decided to go nearby to a stream, and Julius settled into his elven trance.  Now, the stream was a little ways off, and Keeri Lo took solace in getting wet and just being alone for a bit, but since this is a D&D game, something clearly happened.

Ah the joys of seemingly random encounters.  Forget biotopes...but really, I have biotope random encounter charts for this game I haven't used yet.

If this were a normal sort of game, I'd have probably had him roll randomly for some killer leeches or water spirits or something.  However, I had planned for something to be at that stream, and that something was a man clad in moldering leather armor with shackles on his ankles and wrists that attached him to a huge chunk of iron.  He was dragging it doggedly up the stream.  Keeri Lo was interested and approached.

The man introduced himself as Valdraaz, and in conversation, mentioned that he had to get to the Green Hill to blow the horn there to summon his army.  Why?  Keeri Lo asked that same question, and got some answer about making the nobles of some place that Keeri Lo had never heard of called Shriev pay for what they'd done to him.  Now, call our adventurers many things, but they're not typically the sort who dig on entangling themselves in feuds.  Keeri Lo took his leave and went back to the party and woke them up.

Everyone (aka Keeri Lo, Julius, Valen, and Fechedette) headed back to the man in the stream, easily finding him, because he hadn't gotten that far on account of the giant chunk of metal he was dragging.  With a new round of Perception checks, they figured out that he was actually dead--some sort of bog preserved undead which totally explained the moldy armor.  Julius also (with a nice little History check) remembered that Shriev was one of the city states that now formed the hinterland of Salas (aka the place they were all headed to).

Putting two and two together, they figured that Valdraaz blowing the horn was probably bad, reminded him that Shriev was gone, Valdraaz got angry, and then when Valen tried to stop the chunk of metal from moving, Valdraaz snapped.  His first blow sent Valen flying back (and did a good 14 points of damage), and the fight was on.

Valdraaz hit like a truck, and even worse, was strong enough to chuck the metal piece he was attached to at people and drag himself with it.  Finally, after Valen went down, Keeri Lo healed Valen back up, and Fechedette used her mud queen powers to throw mud in Valdraaz's face to blind him, they struck the final blow, and Valdraaz melted into the earth, leaving the metal chunk and the chains behind.  They took the (slightly magical) treasure back to camp, stowed it and them in the curtain, and went to sleep with Bat!Valen on watch.

We all know where this is going...

Valen woke first the next morning, which was worrysome, because he was supposed to be on watch.  Nothing seemed to be wrong, so he started waking people up in their curtain/tent.  That was when he and Julius realized that something was hiding behind the curtain.  Julius flicked back the curtain to reveal a Lamia, Valen pulled the curtain back to hide the Lamia again, and then the Lamia stalked around the curtain to address the party.  

She introduced herself as Mira, and ordered them to return what they'd taken, dressing them down for meddling.  The party was confused and very put out by the angry Lamia.  Julius tried to trick her into going into the curtain (almost certainly so they could just trap her inside and wait for her to die and deal with the issue that way), she refrained, and Fechedette snuck into the curtain to consort with the Barrys.  

This kind of Lamia, btw.  Not the snakey kind.

The Barrys said that Valdraaz was a revolutionary who some nobles had thrown into a bog 800 years ago.  Fechedette said he seemed a little more alive than that, and she ran out of the curtain as the party was gearing up to fight the Lamia to keep their treasure.  Cooler (hotter, in the case of Keeri Lo, who was trying to put the moves on the Lamia) heads prevailed, and they decided not to fight, and the team begrudgingly decided to help the Lamia defeat Valdraaz.

Why?  Well, Mira told them she was the current member of a bloodline that had to stop the undead Valdraaz from traveling from his resting place in the bogs to Gree Hill and make sure he didn't blow the horn there.  Why?  If he blew the horn, the remains of his sizeable army would rise from their graves and destroy the world.  Keeri Lo cast some divination to find the closest set of moldering leather armor, found lots and lots buried in the area, decided Mira was for realsies, and off they went.

Since Valdraaz was unshackled, Mira didn't know how fast he was travelling, so they decided to make it to Gree Hill and just deal with him when they arrived.  Keeri Lo turned into a red, wooden horse, Julius and Fechedette rode him, and Valen rode in the curtain with the Barrys.  Julius noticed some Celestial writing on a mace that Mira carried, Valen popped his head out and translated it, and discovered it to be a blessed mace.  Mira explained that it had been passed down generation to generation in her family and was the only way to make Valdraaz not sink into the earth and escape when he was defeated. 

Not a bad skill set for a fancy baseball bat.

Without much hassle (and about a half day's ride), they got to Gree Hill.  Note, that it was a very green hill, but it was called Gree Hill like someone forgot the 'e' when they wrote the word "Green" in the campaign notes half an hour before leaving to DM, decided that Gree was a fine name for a hill, and left the name in place because the only person who would remember the name of the hill 15 minutes after they showed up was the someone who made the mistake anyways.  On the top of the hill were several cairn stones and a giant horn made of metal on top of some rocks and held in place with bands of iron.  The party tried to just make off with the horn and discovered that it was magic-ed in place by powerful DM fiat magic, and settled in to wait for Valdraaz to show up.

It was mid afternoon, people decided to nap, and while the Lamia napped, Fechedette snuck over, made stealth checks, passed, and trimmed a little bit of fur off of the Lamia.  She then used her mud queen powers to make a tiny replica of the Lamia with the hair inside then used some cantrips to bake the mud into a statue and hid the statue in her bag.  When asked why by her curious DM, the player simply stated that "you never know when it's useful to have something like that." Everyone nodded sagely, and we moved on with the game.  

When your players start harvesting the hair of your NPCs while they sleep...

As darkness fell, the party and Mira readied themselves.  Then they waited.  As the moon rose, Valen was the first to notice that there were four figures that had manifested outside the light that the moon shed on the top of the hill.  It was Valdraaz and four of his risen warriors, and they attacked almost immediately, the three zombies trying to tie up the party and Valdraaz going straight for Mira.

Now, I want to go on record and say that my dice decided they hated Mira, and within two rounds, she'd almost dropped, because Valdraaz was a Wight and they do scary damage and their drain effect is similarly scary when you're failing saves.  Valen started using his swashbuckling skills to deal with the zombies, but 5e zombies don't die unless they fail a save, and they kept staying up.  Keeri Lo wildshaped into a giant octopus, and then realized his move speed was balls and started inching towards Valdraaz.  It took a couple rounds, but eventually he attacked, grappled, and held the Wight still.

Julius cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter and Valdraaz failed the save.  The  we literally sat there in a holding pattern until Fechedette and her Witch Bolt finally killed Valdraaz, because everyone's dice finally rebelled and nobody could hit anything, but the enemies were mostly dealt with and restrained.  Valen took down the final few zombies as the party started healing up and wrestled the heavy iron shackles from the curtain onto Valdraaz.

We ended there, and will pick up next session with the aftermath of the gang helping a Lamia potentially save the world.  Not your typical encounter with a Wight and 3 zombies, that's for sure.   

Saturday, May 13, 2017

5e at the Citadel: Beauty Is In the Eye

We last left our adventurers with Fechedette, the Mud Queen, digging them out of the collapsed way shrine to Pok the Mud God with her new mud powers.  Somewhere in the shrine, Charmagnus disappeared due to his chaos magic (and the player not being able to show up).  As Fechedette opened up the mouth of the cave, the party saw a small warband of goblins waiting for them at the mouth of the cave.  Two were riding giant crabs, they had two casters, and there were a half dozen foot soldiers as well.  Terrible odds for our 2nd level heroes.

The goblins demanded (in common) that the party lay down their weapons, because the party was being summoned by "the ladies."  Evidently, these "ladies" were in charge of the goblins, and, as the party discovered during a brief parlay, they had been watched and deemed powerful enough for an audience.  The party used this to their advantage and in return demanded that the goblins lay down their arms and escort the party.  Keeri Lo turned into a giant crab, Julius spoke as the voice of the crab lord, goblins bowed and mostly bought it.  After a brief whispered discussion, the two goblins riding on crabs told the rest to give up their weapons, and the party had an unarmed escort to...somewhere.

That somewhere ended up being a village several miles away in a bay by the ocean where there was a goblin town made of mud huts and buildings created from several wrecked ships.  As the party entered the town with their escort, goblins lined the streets, forsaking their menial jobs and play to see the crab king and company.  Even the goblin daycare (complete with bugbear nursemaids) came out to see them as they wound through the crooked streets to a huge house in the middle where three women waited on the veranda to meet them.

The first woman was an ancient crone asleep in a rocking chair, the second a grumpy and pudgy middle aged woman, and the third was a young lady who looked like Amy Winehouse.  The youngest lady took the lead, greeting them excitedly with a loud, nasal voice and gushing over how stoked she was to finally meet them, because the ladies had "been watching the party for a while to see if they were the kind of people they needed."  The youngest lady introduced herself as Hindra, the grumpy one was introduced as Haras, and the oldest was Hagatha, and the party was invited into the home for dinner.

RIP.  Also, voiced by Janice from Friends.

Inside the house, the party was first struck by how large the house was compared to the outside.  Clearly, magic was at play here.  Secondly, they were overwhelmed by the amount of...stuff inside.  There were Hoarders style piles of boxes, crates, scrolls, weapons, clothing, armor, tapestries, and just random junk everywhere.  As Haras moved off to start the dinner (and Hagatha stayed asleep on the front porch), Hindra leveled with the party and explained why they had used their goblin minions to summon them to meet with the three ladies.  

Basically, the ladies were tied to the area magically (speculation, in order, ran: hags, fey, or minor deities.  nobody got a straight answer on what they were).  A green dragon, just a small one, had stolen a magical jewel from the ladies several months back, and the ladies wanted their artifact returned but couldn't get to the dragon.  They wanted the party to go recover the jewel and offered dinner and item-based compensation plus whatever they wanted from the dragon's hoard as log as they returned the jewel.  

After pretending to use the bathroom, slipping into the curtain, and consulting with the Barrys (the chimera heads gave no real answer other than their master was scared of the ladies while he was still alive), the party decided that they could really use some more stuff and agreed to help.  Everyone went to bed except Keeri Lo, who slipped out of the guest room after his friends were sleeping.  He was searching for Hindra, who had also gone to bed, but the newly awakened Hagatha pointed our horny merman to Hindra's room, where the sexy time happened.  Both Hindra and Keeri Lo had "a good time", and our merman slipped back into the guest room.  Julius and Valen woke up enough to guess what had happened, but everyone slept for the rest of the night.

It's been a while since I've had to do one of these in a game...

The next morning, the party was given wooden, toy horses by the hags over breakfast.  Keeri Lo took the red horse, which comes into play later, and there was a white one, black, green, and blue too.  Each could turn into a full sized wooden horse that could unerringly take its rider to a set location.  The team took off, and headed to the dragon.

Finally, they found the ruined keep where the dragon supposedly lived, parked the horses in the nearby woods, and decided to come up with a plan.  There were several trees growing through the keep's walls, and since they couldn't see the dragon, they surmised that it was hiding in the trees.  Keeri Lo decided that he would head up to the keep and try to draw the dragon away by turning into something that could outrun it while the rest of the party looted its hoard.

Keeri Lo headed in, and was quickly confronted by a juvenile green dragon.  Because of course why not, he flirted with it, it threatened to eat him (oddly flirtatiously), he turned into a seagull, and a chase scene commenced.  The rest of the party sneaked into the ruined keep, busted into an old storeroom, realized there wasn't much there, and headed to the stairs.  Upstairs, they found a hole in the roof and the dragon's nest (which was made of pine branches and thousands of copper pieces), so they headed back downstairs and down to the basement.

In the meantime, Keeri Lo was leading the dragon on a merry chase.  He had noticed a collar on her, and also noticed that when he got too far away from the keep, she kept herding him back, so he decided to land.  She did too, and they spoke.  Through the sexual tension, he realized that the dragon was actually a princess dragon captured and kept in the tower by someone she referred to as "the master" and that his friends were in grave danger.  The dragon let him go, and he turned into a horse to race back.  Now, as a merfolk, he had never seen horses before, so he turned into a red one, and this became a bit of a running joke.  

Who cares if it stretches the Wildshape rules?  It's not mechanically different, and it's funny.

In the basement, the party found a giant brush pile, a well, and a locked door.  Something moved in the brush pile, and Valen was suddenly hit by a beam of energy that made him extremely afraid.  Fechedette shot a firebolt at the huge piles of brush hoping to burn them off, and illuminated a huge, hulking, circular form with tentacles.  It then shot a beam of energy at her that paralyzed her, and a struggle followed with the Gauth (for that is what it was) doing serious work on Valen, Fechedette, and Julius (because remember, Charmagnus and Gilroy's players were not present).  

Luckily for the party, red wooden horse Keeri Lo charged in several rounds later, and despite quite a lot of damage for the party, and most of them having been hit with paralyzing or fear rays at least once, they managed to take out the evil Gauth who was holding a dragon princess captive in a tower, because occasionally messing with tropes is fun, and I wanted to throw a Beholder at the party, but they were only 2nd level.  

Beholders and Beholder-kin (including Gauths/Spectators from 5e) are my favorite D&D monsters.  Also, obligatory artist credit.

After the party did some quick healing, they dealt with the fact that the fire Fechedette had started in the brush the Gauth was hiding in had started smoking out the room, and set to work on the locked door.  Once it was open, they discovered a veritable treasure trove with the following treasure:
  • +1 Darkwood Longspear
  • +1 Longsword
  • Brooch that gives the wearer a 1D4 bite attack, does 1 poison damage a round after the bite for 11 rounds if the victim doesn't make a DC13 CON save, and lets the user talk to snakes
  • Boots of +4 Stealth
  • Cloak that lets the user Wildshape into a bat 1x a night.
  • Several mundane but nice tapestries
  • 5 pieces of carved elephant ivory
  • 2 suits of scale mail
  • 500 GP
  • An elephant foot trash can that is enchanted to automatically write any "trash" thrown into it out of existence.  DM chooses what constitutes trash so the players don't throw enemies into it.
  • The realization that their DM was being nice and was consistently giving them way too much treasure for their level.
They also found a Lesser Orb of Green Dragon Control, which they quickly realized the danger of, especially when the baby green dragon came back and told them about how much her dad hated it and how it was what was keeping her a slave.  The party also realized that the Ladies had sorta lied to them, because the dragon hadn't stolen the orb.  The Gauth had just had it in his collection, and the Ladies had severely underplayed how powerful the artifact was.  Clearly, this was the Ladies trying to steal someone else's powerful treasure.  The party decided they didn't want the Ladies to have the orb, set the dragon free, but Julius kept the orb to keep it safe and keep them safe if the dragon decided to come back to hurt them.  He's a paranoid fellow.

We left off with the party ascending to level 3.  A good time was had by all, and I got to use a cool Beholder mini I got for a fight.  It was a good night.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

5E at the Citadel: Your Name Is Mud

Once upon a time, the person playing our noble Firbolg, Gilroy, had a job that changed his hours so he couldn't come play D&D with his friends on a Friday night.  His noble DM did what he could to not write his character out of the game despite him not being present and the party being on a wilderness adventure.  This is that tale.

Our nobl...these guys had decided at the end of last session to camp out in the house of the magical Firbolg that had died on the shitter and thus left them with the contents of his house.  Said contents included three talking, taxidermized Chimera heads named Barry, some low grade spellbooks, a magic teapot, and some potions and herbs.  Also a little bit of gold.  They had decided to set a watch, and by DM fiat, Gilroy had decided to take the last watch.

Everyone woke up well after when Gilroy should have woken them all up, which was worrysome.  Even more worrysome was that he was not in the house.  When they finally found him (on the front porch in a Firbolg sized rocking chair), he was petrified.

Not like this

After poking him to figure out what was going on, a clucking from around the corner of the house alerted them to a Cockatrice that was pecking around.  A few Arcana and Nature checks verified that Gilroy should actually be not petrified any more, which was cause for consternation among the exceedingly paranoid group.  A Medicine check cleared up some of the cause for alarm, however, when it was noticed that this was in like with an allergic reaction to Cockatrice venom, They decided they needed to kill the Cockatrice and they could just chuck Gilroy in the curtain extradimensional space room with the Chimera heads and move on.

They also noticed that there was a cart with a suspiciously open and Cockatrice sized cage in the nearby woods, and they noticed Goblin sounding sniggering from behind the house.  Valen, Fechedette, and Charmagnus opted to take on the Cockatrice, while a medium sized giant crab charged at Keeri Lo and Julius from the side of the house they heard goblin laughter from.  Putting two and two together, they remembered that the goblin wizards from the first session had crab familiars, they figured the goblins just liked crabs, and engaged in combat.

Now, poor rolls were had by all in the Valen/Fechedette/Charmagnus vs. Cockatrice battle.  The two casters singed it with firebolts while Valen and the Cockatrice both wiffed at each other until chip damage from cantrips finally took their toll on the turkey sized lizard bird critter.  Keeri Lo, ever the wily Druid, turned into a giant crab with his Wildshape (and everyone promptly had their mind blown when I produced a second Giant Crab Pathfinder Pawn for the battle mat, because I totes prepared for this).  The goblins ran away, and some crab on crab violence ensued.

The size of a turkey.

Keeri Lo won, of course, and quickly clambered on top of the fallen crab and waved his crab hands in victory.  The party repurposed the goblin cart so that Keeri Lo (in crab form) could pull it and took the delicious meat out of the enemy crab.  After graciously and unscientifically letting Valen go into the curtain extradimensional space to check and see if there was air in there (there was, plus there was no roof, only a view of stars), they chucked their petrified Firbolg bud into the room, packed up, and moved on out before more goblins decided to find them and try to enact revenge with more petrifying poultry.

They hiked through more mud, and as the day went on, it started to rain.  The mating calls of alligators rang out in the background, and the party decided they needed to find some cover.  They found a way shrine to the god, Pok, the deity of mud, lightning, and fire caused by lightning striking dead trees (because I am a firm believer in making weird-ass things to worship in D&D).  Said way shrine was a mud cave in the side of a ravine, and the party settled in to avoid the storm that was starting to rage outside.

You probably just watched a Youtube video of alligators having sex.

As the party slept, a landslide caved in the front of the cave/shrine, trapping them inside, because I wanted a mud dungeon, and I decided to exercise my DM right to force them to go into the mud dungeon.  There was a tunnel that had opened in the back of the cave.  They cast light and went in.  Actually, specifically, Keeri Lo wildshaped into a small crab and scouted ahead.  He found a big mud room that had a thigh deep pool of stagnant muddy water at one end.  There was also another tunnel that rose out from the muddy water that he decided not to traverse, because the rest of the party had gotten bored and decided to follow him.  

Valen waded into the water and felt something brush against his boot.  Then he felt his boot get corroded away and his foot started to burn due to acid damage.  Everyone started looking around to see what was there, pretty much nobody made the perception check, but those that eventually did noticed a pair of Grey Oozes in the water.  

A note to DMs.  Grey Oozes in 5th Edition D&D are disgusting party killing monsters.  I didn't read the stat block before using them.  I just wanted oozes, saw the grey ones were within a good challenge rating range for the party, and added the page number to my notes (this was about a CR1 challenge for a party of five level 2 characters at full strength).  No, these little shits can KO a full HP Fighter in one hit.  They almost did that to Valen, I used my DM screen to change my roll not to, because I realized how insane that was for a throwaway encounter, and scaled several DICE off of the damage for these little fuckers.

Party. Killer.

Moving on, the party killed them, healed a bit, because the Grey Oozes were still really insanely good and did a lot of damage, and then decided to head off down the other tunnel.  What they don't know is that I cut about 5 rooms and 3 traps out of the dungeon because of how bad that challenge went and the fact that we were running out of night and I wanted the boss fight and treasure room at the end, because I spent a lot of time on it.  Let this be a message to all you DMs who make their own dungeons and material: gauge the night, gauge the party, and make changes on the fly to keep the game awesome.

You. Don't. Have. To. Run. Things. As. Written.


The final room was a huge chamber with pillars of mud and a mud altar at the far end.  On said altar was a crown made of dried mud.  Clearly someone had to pick it up and put it on.  That someone was Fechedette, and putting it on summoned a gigantic Mud Elemental.  It was a huge fight, Valen got knocked unconscious, and finally the creature fell to spell and sword.  We had fun, laughed, rolled dice, and it was a great night.

I like to think that afterwards the Mud Elemental went to a nice bathouse somewhere and had a soak.

The crown Fechedette had grabbed ended up granting her control over mud beings, the ability to throw balls of mud, conjure mud, and shape mud (albeit not quickly).  She is also now the Queen of Mud and is always slightly grimy.  The player is beyond pleased.  They ended the session with her heading back up to the entrance to dig them out with her newfound magic.