Posts Tagged With: Siyahchal Campaign

A Letter to Frater Nikolai

Nikolai,

I trust this letter finds you well and that you have found what you needed during your time spent in contemplation. I wish that I could say that that I am sorry to be writing you, and in one way I am for I would not bother you unless there was the direst need for both your dedication and your skills. At the same time, I must admit that I happy that you will be actively bringing the Light to the world once again.

A situation in the Kingdom of Llyr has come up that requires your special insights as I am sure the following letter will explain.

You may have heard, even in your isolation of the young Lord Devin Tresendar? Well, the rumors are true, he is Touched by the Lord Sc. Michael and has been blessed with a series of miracles as he brings Light in Darkness. He and his companions have even travelled to the Shadowlands in the pursuit of a series of threads regarding a prophecy of an upcoming Age of Worms – I have arranged to have more details gathered and awaiting for you upon your arrival and this is perhaps the greatest reason for choosing you to attend to this matter.

Fighting against the Vanguard of Sertrous which seeks to bring about this coming Age, Tresendar confronted them and thwarted their plan to summon forth their long-dead commander. If this was not miracle enough he recovered the great sword Merthuvial, the Kingmaker, and confirmed as its rightful wielder.

Returning home, it became become apparent that there is old rot within the lands of his family and Tresendar discovered a cult deeply entrenched in fabric of Diamond Lake, a prominent mining town of the kingdom, and one that was part of his family lands for generations – though mismanagement and misfortune had passed control to the Consortium in his grandfather’s time. Investigating and striking quickly, Tresendar and his companions discovered a long buried fane – one older than anything that you can imagine or even guess.

Our aid was requested by Tresendar to deal with the guardianship of the fane, so I have arranged for a company of troops to be at your disposal, under your good Watch and Judgement. I also think that Lord Tresendar would benefit from some advice and counsel, as well as he has done so far he is surrounded by a curious set of companions – please see the attached letter for details.

But, the Community of the town has not only lost its leader, it has seemingly lost its way as well. The former Lightbringer of the town, one Jierian Wierus, was a fanatic and by all reports unhinged. Perhaps it was the dire influence of the cult or the close proximity of the fane, or perhaps he was simply weak, but in any case he has left the community there in dire straits with his death in the fane. While many in the town are of the Faith, the recent events have shaken them and it is important that they know that the Church has not forgotten them.

Also, given the chaos involved in the discovery of the cult, the entire leadership of the town itself is uncertain. I have dispatched this letter before word has come from the King as to how he is handling the disposal of the town.

I will commit no more to paper on this subject my friend. You must witness it for yourself. Grace in Light, Strength in Darkness.

 

Sancta Loren

The Most Reverend Gregorius Sc. Thiede, by the Lords of Light and Proclamation of the Sarim under the Lord Sc. Metatron, Lord High Archon and Primate of the Rite of the Congregation of Loren.

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What’s happening!?!

So, we are on a bit of a break from the D&D 5e Siyahchal Campaign, the characters have liberated the town of Diamond Lake from it’s corrupt mayor and the worst of the mine owners as part of the process of dealing with the Cult of the Ebon Triad. Devin has been installed as a Baronet with responsibility for the town and much of the surrounding area. We’ll pick things up again in a couple of months “real-time” and a year or two “game time” when the stars shift again, threatening an Age of Worms…

In the meantime we are playing Call of Cthulhu 7e, and Pulp Cthulhu at that. One player is taking a break (Cthulhu really not being her thing) but everyone else jumped at the idea of this system. I’m setting the game in Chicago, starting it in 1920, and continuing on somewhat from where I left the small campaign set in wartime Paris that I was playing with MR and KT. I’ve combined the classic Haunting scenario and the more recent Edge of Darkness scenario into one larger, interlinked narrative.

We’ve played one session and everyone seemed to have fun, I’ll do what I can to keep people abreast with what is happening. You can follow thin links above and see what characters people have, and while I have modified the traits for Pulp Cthulhu somewhat (and I’ll post my changes here in the next week or so), the “double hit points” and extra rules for luck makes a good start to a more survivable game.

TTFN!

D.

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Call of Cthulhu 7e has arrived!

So, this past Monday I was happy to find on my doorstep the box containing my long awaited Call of Cthulhu 7e rules – and I have to say that I find browsing and reading the rules much easier in physical form than on the PDF’s I’ve had for awhile. It also means that I’ll have to update a couple of my previous posts to be more in-line with 7e rules. (EDIT: Done and Done)

I’ve also been looking at the fact that I’ve been running my current 5e campaign for about a year-and-a-half now – and as the Age of Worms continues to threaten it would easily continue to run for many more years. That isn’t exactly a problem, but historically I’ve tend to run games/campaigns for between 1-2 years and then flipped to another game/genre to help rejuvenate myself creatively – and I’m certainly hitting that point now.

So I think that I have one solid chapter in me for the 5e campaign. The party has successfully plundered the Whispering Cairn, discovering treasures and lore of the Wind Dukes that have been long-hidden and is now preparing to investigate one of the local mines – suspecting the owner of being part of the Cult of the Ebion Triad and working towards bringing about the Age of Worms. The party can complete that and I’ll have an excellent place to leave things and even give the party some significant downtime before we pick up the campaign again.

That begs the question of what I could run next. I have a strong vote from at least one player for Call of Cthulhu though to be truthful I’d rather wait until I had Pulp Cthulhu on hand to use. I’m interested enough in what they’ve done with 7e that I think that Pulp Cthulhu might be a good substitute for my own pulp rules – or at least mesh with them well enough that they added significantly to the game (or add a better framework to manipulate).

My other two “stand-bys” are also possible – Cyberpunk 2020 and Traveller. Now I’ve run many games with a mash-up of the two, but I have been somewhat fond of the Mongoose 1e version of Traveller and have the entire SRD saved to hand out to players if need be. It is a simple game that hearkens back to Classic Traveller in many ways, and I’ve been tinkering with a non-OTU setting for a couple of years now (much of it, thankfully, not lost when my hard drive crashed). I’ve been really pondering the concept of Proto-Traveller a great deal, and somewhat consciously rejecting the OTU – while at the same time amused and amazed at how different the OTU seems to be from what everyone assumed after reading Agent of the Imperium by Mark Miller.

Cyberpunk 2020 is a very rich setting with a very easy engine. It’s theoretically hampered by the conceptual twitching provoked by the idea that it is actually set in the year 2020 – and that could be hard to sell a great many people. I think that it might work better as a “Cyberpunk 2200” set a couple of hundred years in the future, that changes the canon timeline but much of the flavor text of the game can remain the same. Perhaps a future where the solar system has been explored and settled but where there is no FTL travel so we remain stuck in orbit around Sol for all intents and purposes – though I suppose a bit of Bladerunner-inspired flavor means that the Tannhauser Gate could be a thing…

TTFN!

D.

 

Categories: Campaign, FYI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lol, missing Game Logs…

So, well, yes, clearly I haven’t written up a Game Log in forever…

I keep meaning to, but I keep failing miserably and then keep falling behind. We just finished the 29th session of the current campaign I think I need to grant a very broad overview of what has happened.

The party managed to survive the Shadowlands mostly unscarred – though the gnomes were hit hard. Fonkin was brought to the brink of death by the strange magics and creatures of the Shadowlands and transformed into a Shade while his henchman and cousin  Wren died. From the cold lands of Shadow the party followed another gate to the sweltering heat of the Jungles of Ith, where they found gates home but were also able to return quickly enough to thwart the Vanguard and prevent the Reborn King from fully manifesting. In the process Ilda was almost lost (but managed to invoke her Ancestors successfully) and Rhys went missing though divinations suggest that he is not dead.

After all of this the party took a much needed break, resting up after their travails and travels – and capitalizing on the tales of their adventures, strange dress, and potent magic. This included Dorje Jarvic travelling off to train as a Warrior Monk and Lord Devon and his wife finally starting to rebuild the Tresendar hunting lodge in Phandalin. In turn, Ilda was given a series of visions as to the location of Wave Echo Cave by her Ancestors and the party decided to investigate – especially given their early failures with the Rockseeker brothers as well as their concern over the “Forge of Spells” falling into the wrong hands. There they found another group of adventurers, with legal documents asserting their right to explore the cave, and they were shocked when Dhagri was seemingly convinced to join the other group by a powerful Khazan after they had retreated to Diamond Lake

Doing their best to readjust after the loss the party added a couple of new members (despite some misgivings on some folks parts). And under the prompting of the strange tome of Misset al’Namat, they party sought out the Whispering Cairn that they had heard about during their earlier visit to Diamond Lake. Currently deep inside, they think they may have found the entrance to the true tomb of one of long lost Wind Dukes.

So, all in all, the group completed the modules Barrow of the Forgotten King (2nd level characters), The Sinister Spire (5th level characters), and Fortress of the Yuan-Ti (7th level characters). They have mostly completed the starter module Lost Mine of Phandelver (1st-5th characters), and have made excellent inroads into the first installment of the Age of Worms adventure path, The Whispering Cairn (1st-3rd level characters).

This has the brought the core of the group into solidly 7th to 8th level, though there are also a smattering of lower level characters. We’re still liking 5e (clearly) though we switched to non-XP advancement awhile back and transitioned to achievement/story based leveling. It actually seems like a better fit for the system. I’m still underwhelmed with the 5e sensibilities when it comes to magic item placement – so I’m happily ignoring it. The party is also clearly coming into their own, power-wise – preventing the Reborn King showed just how powerful they were. They also, in this latest scrape with the other group of adventurers in Wave Echo Cave, learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of a couple of powerful spell-casters backed by a powerful warrior.

TTFN!

D.

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Intersession #18.5 – Through the Leygate (Fiction)

Stepping through the leygate was an exercise in willpower, the crackling, eldritch energies raced through one’s body and it was easy to believe that instead of translocating space your body was ripped apart and reassembled within the span of a flash of lightning. But the memory of that awful moment of being in two places at once thundered through the body for long moments as each member of the party stumblingly caught their breath, trying to make way for the next with limbs that moved numbly and awkwardly.

Rhys had been the first through, now he stood on the edge of the barren and ancient road the leygate had taken the party to. Eyes alert on the surroundings, his cloak already pulled up around his face to keep out the black and grey dust that was whipped up by the low wind that moaned across the ground and through the surrounding hills, Rhys absently scratched Lockheed’s head as the dragonet wrapped itself across his shoulders, staying close in the unfamiliar and alien terrain.

He’d been the first to investigate the low stone terrace that they all rested upon now, where the leygate had opened to. There were a pair of ancient stone plinths standing in the terrace, deeply graven with runes and sigils, the site of the leygate terminus. They were now cold and silent rather than alive with arcane energies. The leygate had closed scant minutes after the company had arrived, removing the only way to return to Kingshom that the party knew of – the first sign of things going horribly, horribly wrong. Rhys had also discovered the body lying in road in his sweep of the area, a human dressed in violet robes, filled with arrows and bitten about the face and shoulders by snakes. The twin sacks turned out beside the body had been similar to the ones the tomb-robbers had carried and had the remains of grave dirt and tomb dust, but the note in the corpse’s hand had been in no language he’d ever seen before.

After that had gone Dhagri. The young Khazan’s eyes had been big and bright as he passed through the leygate, uncomfortable with the unfamiliar and arcane nature of the travel. He paced around sniffing the bitter tang to air that was cool with the wind. Like Rhys, his eyes focused outwards at the bleak rocky hills, watching for danger, looking for a clue as to what to do next. As he unconsciously played with the wrappings of the hilt of his axe, his eyes drifted off to the distance where it seemed darker, like the coming of night, but it came no closer, grew no darker as Dhagri watched. Instead it seemed as if the Darkness waited, and watched him in turn, patient and silent and hungry as a grave.

Fonkin sat on a small rock, shivering in the shadowy twilight they had found themselves in. Gnomes were creatures of the surface world for all that they burrowed in the earth for its treasures, and too much time away from the fresh air and warming rays of the sun brought with a malaise for the Little People. One hand on the body of his cousin Wren that lay wrapped at his feet, Fonkin rocked gently and prayed quietly that they could revive him rather than leave him in such a desolate place. Reaching out to his Patron, the link felt hollow and weak, and he shuddered to think of himself left alone in the darkness here, still and lifeless, with no-one to remember him. The light of Faerie seemed very distant, fading the same as hope threatened to.

Even the knowledge that his Patron was pleased with him barely cheered him, for while the contents of the note had been revealed to him, the turned out bags beside the corpse meant that another task lay before them…

Fadheela,

I have been delayed. My servant carries the king’s bones and all the items of his champions that I could find. Merthúvial I cannot locate. I shall spend a bit more time it, but I am sending these on so our rendezvous is not compromised. Please give the Vanguard my regards. I shall be along shortly.

                                                                                                                -Xeron

Ilda’s eyes flickered over the party in turn, then to each of the corpses in turn, as well as toward the same Darkness as Dhagri’s eyes did – consciously or unconsciously everyone cast a glance in that direction regularly. Having pulled out the dulcimer from its’ storage place, the dwarf was calmed by checking to make sure that it had survived the recent combats unscathed. This place was like nothing the dwarf had ever encountered before, and the lays and lore tumbled through Ilda’s head trying to figure out where they were. Like all of the party, the dwarf was tired – the miraculous blessing of the Celestial seemed days distant rather than hours.

Lost in a numb reverie, Ta’sara sat next to Rhys, unconsciously looking to family for comfort. Coughing at the dust, all she could hear was the wind blowing across the stones. Not a bird, not an insect, not any animal that she could identify. She hoped that this place would not be the death of them all, the same that the tomb had been for Wren and their distant kin Leera. The wrapped body of the young bard lay where it had fallen as Ta’sara had stumbled through the leygate – the incredible and essential wrongness of the place like an ache in her joints, a weakness in her bones, a queasy feeling that settled in guts like spoiled meat. The quiet, the dust and incredible dryness, the lack of vegetation made her think it was desert of some sort – but this matched no description of any desert she had ever read about. Beyond that, even the light of the distant stars was wrong and cold. There were none of the natural rhythms and currants that she was used to or even expected – only dust, shadows, and a distant lurking Darkness.

The tracks that had surrounded the purple-robed corpse had walked in the direction of the road and then stopped in mid-stride. Whomever had slain Xeron’s servant had teleported away in midstride and there was no way to know where they had gone. The Forgotten King’s remains and the equipment of his champions was nowhere to be seen and Ta’sara had no clue as to where to look next, no idea how to solve the problem in front of them, let alone the looming issue of the Vanguard and whatever their mission was in the threatened coming of the Age of Worms.

Face illuminated by the endless flame he held cupped in his hands, Jarvic listened to the song of the Great Dragon in the wind that swept across the land. It was a harsher, darker song, one that he had never heard before and it matched the ache in his muscles and the tiredness he felt in his very soul after the travails of the Barrow. Here, in this wide open space with nothing but rock and wind and dust Jarvic could hear the Great Dragon like never before, not just one Great Voice, but a multitude of lesser voices that sang in harmony and melody. It was so strong, these combined voices that made up the Great Dragon, the Great Dragon was so strong, that it felt like Jarvic was all but lifted off the ground, like the wind would carry him. The breeze eddied around him, filling his lungs so full that they would never empty, a constant presence and reminder that the Great Dragon was near, was present even here, was with him even with the Darkness so close.

The Darkness, Jarvic looked towards it. It weighed heavily on his mind, its presence almost adding a physical weight to his shoulders, adding to his weariness, holding him down where the Great Dragon would raise him up. The flame in his hand seemed dimmer here, less warm, colder, like the distant stars that could be seen through the twilight gloom of the sky. Stars that were in no configuration that he had ever seen nor any that he had read of. Their pattern reminded him of the writing that the Necromancer had stolen from his mind, not that it should be possible, but he felt weak and uneasy when he thought to deeply on the matter and his thoughts fled from half-remembered dreams of terrible things and worse possibilities.

While Fonkin had been able to read the missive from the tomb-robber Xeron, it was due to some arcane trick. Jarvic had recognized the script, even if he wasn’t skilled enough to read it. It was elaborate glyphs of the Ithian language – the language of the slavers that his family had escaped from when he was nothing but a child. An ancient and cruel people, of inhuman lusts and infamous plots, who dwelt far to south in a jungle empire built on the ruins of races and empires far worse than they. This rocky, desolate wasteland was not the jungle of Ith, so where had this Vanguard led them?

Shivering slightly as the wind picked up, Devon stared at the gleaming sword lying on the ground on a ripped and tattered cloak before him. The adamantine blade glowed faintly in the darkness the black and grey dust refusing to settle upon it. It sat there where he had placed it, almost dropped actually because gazing upon his companions he had been overwhelmed by the cacophony and hopelessness of their thoughts, their confusion, pain, and their fear. It had not happened again, but Devon was wary of that flood of information again. It made the young nobles own fear worse, that he would never see his wife again, that he would fail not just his family, but the Light itself by allowing the bones of Forgotten King whose sword this had been to be used in whatever fell ritual they were intended. The weight of that responsibility was crushing, weighing him down despite already being exhausted by the fight with the Betrayer and his companions.

Devon glanced in the direction of the Darkness and shuddered, it was as if he was living the tales and parables of the Enchiridion. It was hard, he knew he needed to be an inspiration even when he doubted himself. There is no Light greater than that found within the soul of the Faithful. It shines through the longest nights, in the deepest Darkness, and provides a beacon for those in the greatest need – was the quote and he remembered Frater Simeon reciting it as he learned Aleph in temple. Devon just wished that he was as strong as the blade in front of him, he knew he was unworthy, knew that he was merely weak flesh rather than celestial steel.

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Startled by the almost simultaneous low whistle by Rhys and soft coughing bark by Dhagri, the company came to their feet, grasping at weapons and looking in all directions. Appearing out the shadows, gliding silently down the road, a small landbarge – more of wagon actually – had appeared. Rarely seen, no one in the company had ever seen such a small one before. It floated silently down the center of the well-worn cobblestones of the ancient road, and as it drew closer they were all able to see who helmed it.

Sitting there, holding the wheel, was a broad shouldered dwarf, but not like one that any of them had ever seen before. Dressed in a long black skirt, the dwarf also wore a heavy, dark leather greatcoat over a tight fitting shirt the same shade as his skirt. While this was odd enough it was the rest of his appearance that drew the most attention – the ashen-colored skin and glittering black eyes with no whites and no iris were like nothing any of them had ever seen.

Pulling up a short way off from the party, the dwarf nodded and smiled, calling out in a deep baritone in Dwarrune, the private language of the dwarves. Ilda stepped forward and responded as the dwarf climbed down from the helm of the landbarge and smiling as nodding as he did so.

“Well met travelers, and unless I miss my mark from the Heartlands of Avalon too. Harsh winds this span, but you have travelled far to get here and I am called Heart of Coal, a humble merchant of the Shadowlands. Perhaps you would like to see my wares?”

The words were harshly accented, but clear and unmistakably Westron, surprisingly welcome after the long silence that the party had not even realized had settled upon them as they had sat with their thoughts. But the words themselves held within in them the terrifying answer of where they were.

The Great Realm of the Shadowlands.

Ruled by the Witch-King and his Ebon Council, who had alternately plagued and saved the Heartlands since time immemorial, and bordering the Great Realm of the Dead, the Shadowlands were the home of daemons, succubae, and deadly beasts that were the stuff of both legend and legend in the Mortal Realms.

It wasn’t the Pit of Hell, but tales said there was a road from the palace of the Witch-King that led straight to the throne of the First of the Fallen.

By the Light, the Great Dragons, and the Old Powers – what exactly was this Vanguard and why had their minions fled here of all places?

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Session #18 – The Forgotten King

This party began the session with Ta’sara tending to the wounds of the unconscious half-elf that they had discovered bound last session, the rest of the party was beginning to work at making the room more defensible while they had the opportunity to rest up. The young woman, Leera Scornbul, woke quickly and her story was not what the party expected – though it would be hard to say what exactly that would have been based on the current circumstances.

A sage who had studied at the University of Navarre, Leera had been hired by the group before realizing just who and what they were – which even somewhat obscure to her as well. But the presence of the khazan and the goblins, as well as the repellant nature of the sorcerer Xeron spoke volumes even if their exact motives – beyond the contents of tomb of the Forgotten King – were unknown. Her information was enough to let the party know that the tomb-robbers had been in conflict with themselves, that they had faced most of them already, and that it was the leader, Xeron, and his main lieutenant, a khazan warrior named Jerog, that were left for the party to deal with. Leera was also able to give the party more information on the history of the Forgotten King himself, his rise, and his betrayal and fall.

While the Ta’sara was gathering this information, Devon was moving rubble and reached down to pick up a small Argentos he found there – and the party was granted a winged, celestial Visitation!

“Fear not! You must make haste, evil has come to the this place and seeks to work more evil still. Beware the Age of Worms and move quickly lest you lose your chance.” Drawing His sword, the light of the angel’s word was like the dawn of new day, renewing the party as if they had been fully refreshed – full of life and energy. He stared at the group, then at Devon in particular “In this war as all others, you must choose a side, so go forth and vanquish the evil ahead of you or perish and fall, with the world, into darkness.”

With a bright flash, the angel was gone with a clap of it’s wings.

Emboldened, the party girded their loins and pressed on into the next room. It was eerie, the air was damper then elsewhere, and the room was draped and wrapped in webs. The party moved in to investigate a statue (much as the tracks suggested the tomb-robbers had done) only to be attacked by hordes of large, fist-sized black-and-red spiders that swarmed over the group – as well as a web-wrapped body of some sort that spilled forth another swarm of spiders when it was attacked. As the party struggled to vanquish the venomous arachnids a giant horse-sized spider attacked the group as well. The cold chill that passed over those bitten pained them deeply, with Leera being overcome almost instantly, and Wren being struck down by the giant spider before the party slew it. Much to the Ta’sara’s dismay attempts to revive the two met with not only failure, but seemed to provoke another round of poisoning that damaged them further. Unsure of what to do but knowing that they needed to press forward, Jarvic cast Gentle Repose upon both of them in the hopes that they could come back and recover the bodies to revive later with more puissant magic.

Sobered by the loss of their new companion and Fonkin’s cousin, the party continued to onward to the next room – which seemed to be the final resting place of the Forgotten King. It was a large, square room, with fountains that poured out of each cardinal direction, the water running through carved channels in the floor to empty into a large well in the center of the room. Across from entrance, a figure sat on a throne, flanked by the bodies of warriors along the wall – with another figure sitting at the it’s feet.

There was no sign of the tomb-robbers, nor any sign of another exit.

Carefully, the party made it’s way across the chamber skirting the wall and focused on the figure on the throne – though some could faintly hear the sound of picks or stone breaking emanating from the well. Upon drawing close to the throne, the figure spoke, inquiring as to if it was time for the Forgotten King to return? If the Age of Worms was upon the world? The beautiful woman at the figure’s feet nodded along, smiling at the party. Confused, but curious and not wishing to give offense, the party tried to understand where the tomb-robbers had gone, while the figure on the throne continued to inquire as to why the party was there.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jarvic struck out – sensing that something was wrong – much to horror of the rest of the party. Roaring up in rage, the figure revealed itself to be hideous, fused to it’s armor, with crazed and lidless eyes gleaming forth from beneath it’s helm. The beautiful woman became a bloated, stumbling corpse, and the bodyguards were equally repulsive, eyes burning with hate and resentment. As one, they advanced upon and engaged the party in combat.

The fight was short, brutal, and devastating – though no more members of the party were slain. The Betrayer was able to turn Dhagri against the party for much of the fight, Fonkin and Ta’sara found much of their magic was useless against the undead, the hideous consort exploded causing much damage, and Devon and Rhys were barely able to take down the Betrayer at the very last. Drained by the fight, wary of the magic of the tomb after such a battle, Rhys used a hoarded piece of magic and dropped a globe from a Necklace of Missiles down the well to take of what they were certain was the tomb-robbers rather than try to figure out how to get the party down without being picked off one by one.

When no more noise was forthcoming, the party eventually investigated – finding the charred bodies of a human and a khazan, a series of broken sarcophagi, and a still-active leygate in the corner. As they decided what to do, knowing that they needed to decide soon if they chose to go through the leygate (because they did not know how long it would last), Devon was granted yet another spiritual visitation!

The spirit of the Forgotten King rose up, explained that the tomb-robbers had taken not only the equipment of his companions and champions, but his own bones well! Charging Devon with returning his bones and stopping the Vangard the king reached down into the stone underneath his tomb and drew forth an adamant longsword scribed in Aleph with the name Merthuvial, or “Kingmaker” and handed it to the surprised noble.

With this, as well as the realization that they didn’t know how to return the way that they had come, the party gathered up what loot they could, the bodies of their companions, and passed through the leygate – hoping that it wasn’t leading to a murder room in the fortress of the Vanguard…

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  • So, this marked the end of the Barrow of the Forgotten King. It was a decent enough module, through it was far too linear and tried much to hard to be clever. This last session was almost entirely rewritten though I kept the monsters from the module I staged them differently and come up with an entirely new map.
  • My apologies for taking so long to post this, it’s been a busy few weeks – in all I think it has given me a better pace of prepping for the next stage of the campaign. I’m still running the group through the Age of Worms, but I’m tweaking it significantly to fit my campaign world as well as the 5E engine.
  • The angel replaced an utterly and ridiculously out of place fossergrim from the module, though it’s spring was kept “in spirit” with the fountain and wells in the Betrayer’s chamber. It was used to what I think was much better practical and dramatic effect. It certainly worked better for my game at least and fits the narrative about a million times better.
  • From here I’m proceeding to The Sinister Spire, though I’m changing it significantly to better fit my campaign setting. One of the things I like about is that it seems much more role-playing and much less combat oriented. This module turned into a bit of a slog because of the linear nature of the single-path tomb-complex.
  • This module trio was written, to the best of my understanding, to introduce Legacy weapons to 3.5E. I certainly like the idea of magical items that get better as the character levels up, but the feat investment is way out of place in 5E. I’ll write up my version of Merthuvial in a couple of days, and it is pretty much spot on. It also included a single piece of a magic item set, the Vestments of Divinity, I’ll include my 5E interpretation of that as well.

TTFN!

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Session #17 – I have no idea where Kansas is so why are you saying we’re not in it anymore?

NOTE: This is where I started diverging from the module significantly when it came to rooms and overall organization. I kept all of the monsters and treasure, I just organized it differently and fixed a couple of the puzzles that wouldn’t have worked nearly so well with such a large group.

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.

Ok, so as the party tried to get their bearings, as well as assess what might have happened to Dhagri, Wren, & Rhys, they ever so quickly realized that they were in a Demi-Realm, a pocket dimension created by a puissant mage or some other powerful supernatural being. An admittedly excellent method to guard excess to some location, the party was discomfited as they realized that they had no idea of how to progress.

There were no visible lights, and a luminescent mist rose off the ground – deep enough to almost entirely obscure Fonkin – and far off in the distance the party thought it could see a light coming from within the mist. With a lack of anything better to do they decided to investigate – sending familiars out ahead to scout the way. After an attack by fiendish beasts that were quickly dispatched the party found the source of the glow, a set of ancient arcane runes inscribed in the ground that flickered and danced with arcane power. The party spend an unknown amount of time striding through the mists of the Demi-Realm, fighting off fiendish beasts and finally culminating in a fight with a horrifically sized giant scorpion. When this final monster was fought, a brilliant scintillating light within lights appeared, almost a free-floating lamp of some sort. Floating there it then led the party through the mist to a free-standing Leygate crackling with leyfire.

Taking a deep breath and girding their loins, the party stepped through quickly before it closed (as this was a concern of theirs). On the other side they found themselves in a somewhat featureless room with a broken-down archway or door in the far end, as they stood there and debated what to do they were attacked by a pair of the bestial goblins that they had encountered before, as well as a hobgoblin warrior. In a short but vicious battle the party came out victorious but after the seemingly endless fiendish beasts of the Demi-Realm and the ravages of the goblins the party decided that needed to take a longer rest to take care of their wounds as well as hopefully manage to recover some spells. Through the passageway the party found an area when the tomb-robbers had also clearly rested for a period, as well as a bound and gagged half-elf unconscious and on the verge of death. The party resolved barricade a door even further in, treat the wounds of the half-elf, and rest – hoping that Dhagri, Wren, and Rhys would somehow manage to join them again…

  • This was a very combat-heavy session, while there was certainly roleplaying and a sense of accomplishment because of that the sheer length (and somewhat confusing nature) of the module was starting to show. In hindsight I should have started “fixing” the dungeon earlier, I just didn’t realize how much it was going to drag on.
  • The missing characters was partially to force the party to handle encounters without their two tanks, and the other combat-oriented henchman. Dhagri’s player had a work-related emergency and ended up on the West Coast for an unexpected trip and I simply took advantage of that to force the other characters to step up a bit.
  • Converting 3.5E adventures obviously takes some work, creatures really work differently in some ways (this was even more of a factor in the next session). Plus, I am also realizing just how bland 5e creatures really are – which is kind of surprising when you look at their trait system. I think part of the problem is that many of the creature features that require saves are simply way too easy to save against – they simply don’t factor in very often.
  • That said, some things did some Constitution damage this session and the hit that players took to their maximum hits due to lowered Constitution bonus inducing some puckering on the part of the players. Looking at undead in general I do think this is an interesting way to handle “not energy drain” since so many of the new undead have that sort of effect (maximum hit point reduction) on creatures.
  • Overall, the group is still really enjoying themselves, 5e, and even the module (though the module was sinking fast) – so the plan was to wrap up the module the following session if possible and then move on to the next one (which will involve some serious tweaks).

TTFN!

D.

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Session #16 – Dwarves don’t swim!

(Better late than never…)

Picking up from last session, the party completed their short rest, and continued deeper into the complex. The next room was full of statuary and even more crypts. Following tracks in the dust, the party investigated a small side passage, when they discovered a member of the group they were chasing after. After a short melee the Khazann, named Jharukh (a wiry, rodent-like sort) parlayed a surrender to the group in exchange for his life and freedom. The short exchange about his attempts to solve a puzzle that was supposed to open a door ended after Dorje Jarvic threatened to use Jharukh’s weapons as spikes to seal doors shut, resulting in the Khazann turning silent. After a quick confirmation (and a further threat to his life by the Dorje) that Jharukh was sworn not to harm the party in any way, or warn his former compatriots, in the next fortnight, the Khazann gathered up his gear and fled the complex (muttering under his breath). With some grumbling from the rest of the party, who would have liked to have talked to Jharukh about “the Vanguard” that had hired him, the group pressed on further, doing their best to avoid traps.

Through the next door the party was again puzzled by the bizarre architecture of the complex.


As a quick aside…

I have to say that this is about the place where I realized just how screwed up this complex was from a design standpoint. What I think happened is that WOTC wanted to cram as much as they could on the module cover, and fill it with as many different terrain options, tricks, and traps as they could.

Which they did.

Yay them.

Unfortunately, this also created a complex which makes no freaking sense! Nobody in their right mind builds tomb complexes like this! There’s no rhyme or reason, crazy transitions from finished areas to natural caves and back again – with all sorts of odd monsters and protections mixed in…

Back to our regularly scheduled Session Report…


 

With passages leading right and left, the party chose to follow the tracks in the dust to the left. Down a ladder, along a corridor, and around a corner the party came face to face with a goblin shaman, and a handful of animated skeletons – including one of a huge, bull-headed creature with great horns. The melee was quick and dirty, with Dorje Jarvic turning many of the human skeletons, and the rest of the party quickly dispatching the undead and then the shaman.

The chamber itself, some sort of inner vault, also contained a large golden dragon statue as part of a magical pool and fountain. Taking stock of their situation, the party decided to take a short rest and tend to their wounds before continuing on through the next shattered archway that the tomb-robbers had passed through. To their very great surprise and relief the water from the fountain refreshed the party the same as a long nights rest. The party also discovered, the goblin shaman’s gear, a bank note from the Merchant House of Diyes for the amount of 500 silver marks signed by “Xeron” to be paid from the account of the “Vanguard.”

After taking stock, the party them moved on, finding the next passage to be quite different from what they had encountered thusfar. Instead of the ancient stonework and beautiful statuary, the next room was a deep cavern of rough stone with pillars of stone that allowed the party to gradually descend to the bottom – using some of the ropes that the tomb-robbers had left behind. While the party managed to traverse the obstacles relatively easily, Ilda did fall into the waters at the bottom of the cavern. Initially panicked due to her previous dip into water, Ilda quickly clamed after discovering that this water was much more shallow and allowed her to wade through it with some difficulty. She also discovered the somewhat petrified remains of a creature that appears to have been the inspiration for the “eye-monster” puzzle they encountered earlier. Given it’s size the party quickly agreeing that they were glad that it was deceased.

At the far end of the cavern, the party found a small passageway to squeeze through at the top of some scree. Finding a large cavern shrouded in darkness and mist on the other side, the party was alarmed to discover that the passage had disappeared behind them – as well as Rhys, Wren ,and Dhagri!

Cue Dramatic Music!

Fade to black…

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Session #15 – But wait, there’s more!

This was actually a pretty fun game, though as noted, we had some significant rules questions that came up that were only really resolved after the session ended. It was also interesting, though not surprising to see how the switch in KR’s character swung the game balance around. Instead of a combat-heavy Sorcerer with a Paladin henchman the group now has a multi-classed Druid/Wizard with a much more “support” focus. This wasn’t a bad thing, just an obvious swing in how the group operated – the group is still large enough that it romps-n-stomps through the module encounters for the most part.

Though it does start to point out the major problem with large groups and tight passageways – most of the party can’t see the target or reach them if they can. This is the real “trick up the DM’s sleeve” that I think gets ignored much of the time. In most of the combats this session there were only two, maybe three, physical combatants and half the time most of the rest of the party, even the spellcasters, couldn’t really do anything. As a result both Rhys and Daghri were pretty chewed up by the end of the session, as was Devin.

So, the party made their way down the magical elevator revealed by the “Puzzle of the Eye Tyrant” – and found themselves in a narrow, spiraling passage that took them even deeper underground. A small landing was guarded by a pair of wolf skeletons that were dispatched quickly, but reanimated corpse of an ogre that attacked them on a slightly lower landing was more of a challenge but still quickly dispatched.

Through a small door, the party found a 20-30′ bridge made of aged but sturdy wood spanning a shallow, water-filled chasm. When Rhys offered for the gnomes to go first, it was Ilda who leapt to challenge – only to find that the bridge had been sabotaged. Falling into the water, Ilda was terrified to discover that it was four feet deep – on her four foot and two inch frame (in chainmail and other gear). Devin jumped in to help keep her head above water, but they were both attacked by some unseen creature in the water. After much flailing about, the creature was either run off or dispatched, they managed to get Ilda up and out of the water and the party to the other side – though not before Rhys managed to fall in the water as well…

Following tracks in the dust and detritus left by the ages, the party passed through a door into a larger, octagonal room filled with murals and panels. Here they were attacked by a pair of Hobgoblins and the zombie of strangely feral goblin, larger and more bestial than a normal hobgoblin but not as large as a Black Goblin. The fight was over quickly, but the party was slowly becoming more and more wounded as they pursued the looters deeper into the complex. There was a short debate around taking a short rest, but the fact that the looters were already so deep into the complex suggested that the party needed to keep moving.

Looting the bodies quickly, the party moved on and discovered the next room in the complex was the largest thus far. Bisected by what could be described as a canal for lack of a better word, the party was equally puzzled by the pair of recently dead (drowned) goblins present, lying on the stone floor beside the canal. The water detected as magical, and the party spread out a bit in an effort to figure out what might be going on – and when Devin tried to jump across the canal (instead of trusting the bridge…) he was snatched out of the air by a huge column of water rising up which the proceeded to envelop him. Reacting quickly when they saw Devin start to convulse and drown, they unloaded upon the water with a flurry of spells, released him from it’s grip.

With one more member of the party on the verge of death, the party decided that they needed to take a short rest and allow everyone to regain hit points as well as some spells. Some quick meditation and some music later and the party was in prime shape once again – if starting to dig into resources that they would prefer not to with at least one big fight that they can count upon ahead.

And that’s where pick things up tomorrow!

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Session #14 – So, an adventuring party walks into a mausoleum and…

(My apologies, I thought I had posted this awhile ago and I missed it – plus I had to cancel gaming last weekend because I was at a professional conference…)

So, the first thing to say is that adapting earlier modules to 5E is easy, but doing it on the fly is probably a more work than I would generally prefer unless it is really simple. The best part of the last session is that I had completely forgotten about the adventure seed re. the Kingsholm Graveyard until we sat down to play and people mentioned it! LOL!

So… the session started when Rhys returned from his families holdings with a surprise. Gwynneth had gone off to discuss things with her people and seemed to have, in typical Elven fashion, lost track of time. So rather than spending time tracking her down Rhys asked his cousin Ta’sara, a Druid and Wizard, to join him and help the party. After spending some time in introductions, as well as a quick review of the what the party had learned in the last two months, the party decided to take up the offer of work from the Sentinels (the mostly honorary guards of the graveyard) and investigate the mystery of a missing family and the two Sentinels that also disappeared after being sent to investigate.

Insert obligatory comments about nonsensical fantasy town structures and sizes…

Escorted to the entrance of the graveyard, the party quickly made their way to the mausoleum when bodies were prepared, quickly discovering the sentinels laying in pools of their own blood – and being attacked by a pair of wolves that were quickly slain. A warg was killed trying to flee the scene, and the party quickly investigated the mausoleum – determining that the sentinels were slain inside and then dragged outside. Opening the door to a sublevel, the party found the bodies of most of the missing family but upon moving to investigate were attacked by a pair of zombies and even though they were quickly dispatched a trio of skeletons further back proved to slightly more problematic (though also quickly dealt with).

After dealing with these, they discovered Tyra, the traumatized daughter of the family, who had barricaded herself in a side chamber and decided to quickly accompany her out before returning to explore further. Through her somewhat incoherent ramblings the party was able to discern that consisted of goblins and khazan, led by a human mage of some sort, and that they were definitively searching for a way into the deeper tombs.

Exploring further once they had gotten Tyra to safety, the party continued into an even deeper mausoleum discovering an magically sealed door with a bizarre puzzle-lock of verses and diagram on the door. After working through it, the party (those that were able to even see it – as some of the party couldn’t for some reason) opened the door, in order to find a series of steps going down – but in a much older, and much more finely made stonework style.

This puzzle was based on Beholders (which I don’t have as a “thing” in my campaign, though some one-off abomination is certainly possible) and was also, originally, some incredibly overwrought puzzle room that I can’t imagine anyone actually building if they had the magic to create the door locking mechanism in the first place. It was a classic example of “cool, but over-engineered DM idea” that can be found in so many modules.

Not to say that I haven’t been guilty of doing it myself when I write my own…

Overall though, I’m pleased with the module so far. I think the explanation of “no town cleric” makes more sense if the local priest or Lightbringer is away on a pilgrimage or travelling for some short bit and the priests left behind are way out of their league. Plus, some of the already mentioned issues with Kingsholm are a bit too caught up in fantasy-game conventions to fit perfectly into my game world. That’s fine, I’m used to tweaking modules as I go along, though I think that due to the newness of 5e I’m going to have to do a bit of prepwork instead.

Next game is next Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the party handles the next phase of the adventure. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a dungeon-crawl because I tend to run more urban or wilderness adventures, and this module certainly qualifies!

TTFN!

D.

 

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