“We try things. Sometimes they even work.”
We wrapped up the first “side-story” with Darnek two weeks ago. The group freed up enough of Lord Malarkey’s men to secure an escort to the meetup site.
So the players rolled up new characters for the second side-story, following Anat the Ranger. Cookiemonger wanted an opportunity to marry and secure her character’s dynasty, and Anat is a gnome.
Most gnomes live in the Feywild, so that’s where she went.
Anat arrived in time to witness a very Flash Gordon-esque court scene: though she initially encountered the other characters (Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock) milling about outside, once their retinue arrived everyone went inside.
Our new Warlock was enthralled by a mind flayer and serving as an attendant. The Cleric was a hermit who had some doom-saying to do. The Fighter was the Sorcerer’s bodyguard, and the Sorcerer was a noble in the court.
Inside, various groups of demihumans offered tribute to a gnome empress — elves and drow, duergar, hobgoblins, yuan-ti, and a mind flayer were present.
The mind flayer made an attempt on the empress (really, you’d think mind blast would count for more) and she destroyed him. I would’ve linked to the Flash Gordon scene on YouTube, but it was nowhere to be found.
Anat introduced herself to the court, the Warlock was no longer enthralled, and everyone got off on the same foot. It was nice.
To try and get people on her side, Anat decided she’d try her hand at land ownership in the Feywild. Something to impress a nice prince with or something. She got a lead on an estate overrun by goblins. She brought her new friends.
Things were pretty freaky at first.
No goblins could be seen or heard, but once the group got farther into the house it started screaming at them. Well, the floor did anyway.
I couldn’t find a video drop of the screaming floor from Eternal Darkness, so you’ll just have to imagine screaming faces appearing in the floor.
In a throne room-like room, the group found some grotesque tapestries. Killing fields and planes of hell kind of stuff. A passage behind one of the tapestries led them down a staircase decorated with stone tentacles. Fun!
At the bottom: nothing! Crates and barrels and stuff.
Something was definitely wrong.
When the party made their way back up through the throne room, stuff had changed. The imagery in the stairwell was less spooky. The tapestries had ‘reverted’ to something more benign. The floor had gone quiet.
In the chamber beyond, they found three dead goblins. Just lying there. In the passage they had already traveled through. Which had been empty. Now it had three dead goblins with empty, dripping skulls. Not ominous at all. Nope.
Beyond that chamber however, the group finally found some goblins for killing. They made relatively short work of seven goblins, but uh, the eighth goblin was eaten by a door while escaping. Thus began a fight with a mimic.
The group encountered another bunch of goblins . . . this time with a worg-mounted “goblin boss” and wiped the floors with them.
On the whole, not a very difficult crawl.
They looted the library of spooky books, and took stuff the mimic hoarded.
Three of our players couldn’t make the game Tuesday night, so we rescheduled our weekly game for Monday night instead. Our friend Garrett joined us again, though Darnek’s player couldn’t make it.
The group rushed to the warehouse to see if they could catch the second group, and they arrived in time to find Venger warning that the operation was blown. Hothmar “confirmed” this, and Venger thanked him for the tip and plane-shifted the remaining slavers to safety. Whoops. A bit anticlimactic.
And to wrap up the slavers from the previous week, the group had Beni (the Rogue) interrogate the prisoner. It was a funny scene, largely at the slaver’s expense.
The words “too dumb to torture” come to mind.
They recovered several valuable magic items from the slaving adventurers: a sentinel shield, a broom of flying, eyes of the eagle,
Finally, the group tracked down Pearl with a mind to capture and interrogate her. The plan backfired as Pearl remained confident in her employer.
She was entrenched, and didn’t take the bait.
With their leads exhausted at that point, the group set out for the kobold lair once again (third time’s the charm). They had nine characters with them (including two NPCs), but decided only to take five into battle.
The recently-rescued Bard,
Sabine Riley, and Sorcerer, Neelk. The Monk, Phoebe. The Paladin, Larry. And the Rogue, Beni.
The first encounter of the evening was a bulette.
It went about as well as it did the first time around.
A day out from Fallcrest, and with the slavery business behind them, the group camped out and was attacked by a wandering bulette during the first watch.
Larry the Paladin was lost almost immediately. Swallowed whole.
The Bard’s spells kept the Monk and the (freshly rolled) Barbarian from meeting a similar fate. Just an idea of how invaluable disadvantage can be in a fight.
The next day, the group made it to Kobold Hall. They scouted the ruins a bit, but there was little to find among the rocks. Delving beneath the surface, they encountered the first group of kobolds in a skirmish over a sludge pit.
The kobolds hurled themselves into the fight, despite being outmatched in the extreme. A connection to Fury Road’s “warboys” persisted into the next encounter; cries of “Witness me!” “Chrome!” and “I go to Valhalla!”
Thus were born the “war-bolds.”
The “challenge” of the first Kobold Hall encounter was blown away by the Bard’s use of the broom of flying. That’s player ingenuity for you.
The Barbarian decided to delve further on his own in search of “glory,” and rather than abandon him, the rest of the group followed after him at a distance.
A chilly, ice-rimmed passage inadvertently led the group outdoors, into a snow-covered village. They spied a large group of war-bolds in ecstatic worship of their deity. That’s when the white dragon wyrmling flew down and attacked.
The wyrmling got off one breath attack before it succumbed to the Rogue’s sneak attack dice. Cunning Action + Hide makes it easily possible to sneak attack every round. The real challenge proved to be the twenty war-bolds.
With the party initially divided, only the Barbarian and the Monk were in the fight against ten war-bolds. The Monk got beaten badly, and then the Sorcerer aggro’ed the second group of ten war-bolds and it was on.
The Bard zipped around the battlefield on the broom of flying, throwing heals where they were needed, but also drew a lot of attacks herself. The Monk went down, and the Sorcerer went down . . . both of them more than once.
The Barbarian stood fast, and was able to drag the Monk into the relative safety of a tent. The war-bolds funneled in, gathering close enough for the Bard to hit many of them with faerie fire. The Rogue picked off stragglers.
After a grueling fight, the Barbarian and Monk were able to cut down enough of the war-bolds to push them back out of the tent and the party rallied.
When the battle was won, the group retreated from the dungeon. Around them, war-bolds fled following the death of their idol.
We ended on a high note.
Last night’s game was a bit of a doozy.
A friend from out of town joined us, and rolled up a Druid. Darnek’s player wasn’t available, so the party was down a 5th-level Fighter.
The first encounter? Rival adventuring band. Can I get an “ouch?”
Our charlatan Rogue had a neat idea to disguise the group as a band of traveling entertainers. It wasn’t her fault she didn’t know what the baddies were after.
A bounty on elves.
Yeah, so the Monk and Rogue were wood elves, the Bard and Sorcerer were half-elves. Four out of five members of the group were elves.
Not only that, the baddies outnumbered the group almost two-to-one.
The fight didn’t last long, the group was quickly overwhelmed. There was a valiant effort on the part of the Bard to heal the Monk after she was beaten down by three men-at-arms. It ultimately helped her escape.
The Rogue used a coat and misdirection to escape being cuffed by the leader of the rival adventuring party. He escaped, running in the opposite direction of the Monk.
The Druid, being the only non-elf in the group, was left to bleed out on the side of the road after being shot full of arrows. Diggler bled out fair and square.
After the rivals hauled off the Bard and Sorcerer (the only PCs captured in the fight), the Monk and Rogue met up again, said some words over the fallen Druid, and made their way back to Fallcrest.
I gave the players a choice at that point, half were free and half were captive.
Did we follow the captive PCs, have the other three roll up “prisoners,” and run the next sequence as an escape? Or follow the free PCs, have the other players roll up new PCs, and stage a rescue?
There were other options of course, but the players seemed to need some guidance after getting beaten so soundly by an encounter.
Our group opted to follow the “free” PCs.
While three players rolled up new characters (a dwarf Fighter, a dragonborn Cleric, and a dragonborn Paladin), the Monk and the Rogue exchanged backstories.
It was a heartwarming moment.
Back in Fallcrest, the players got the skinny on the elf-bounty deal from a mysterious woman called “Pearl,” in the Lucky Gnome Taphouse.
They followed their lead to a warehouse where the “deliveries” were being made, and met with a shadar-kai woman who was running the captured elves to Gloomwrought. What followed was . . . glorious.
The player of our new dwarf Fighter is not . . . subtle in his manipulations of NPCs. He tends to have one game: hardball. And the problem is NPCs tend to call when he bluffs. It just doesn’t pan out for him very often.
This time though?
The shadar-kai expressed some “surprise” the Fighter showed up with some elves in tow. He coolly said they weren’t for sale, but they “helped bring in other elves.”
The shadar-kai said, “oh, that’s nasty. I like that.”
And our Fighter just rolled with it. It was awesome. And kind of surreal.
After the conversation, the party walked right back out of the warehouse. They staked it out, and after about four days, spotted their captured allies and a load of elves being ferried across the river Nen. So they laid an ambush.
The rematch? Went totally . . . different.
The group took out the enemy magic-users in the first round, took down the enemy Fighter in the second round, and polished off the mooks in quickly after that.
After a bulette leveled the party and left them without a Paladin, the group went back to Fallcrest. The player rolled up a Sorcerer to replace the Paladin.
The Bard composed a song to honor the Paladin, and the party adopted a new catchphrase: “By Grom’s Greataxe, you shall be avenged!”
When they set out the next day, they were met outside town by a creepy-scary berserker who admired the Bard and wanted her to come with him. The Bard refused and a violent disagreement ensued.
Before too much time had passed, the party met with some bandits who were also interested in the Bard. This time though, there was a handsome bandit asking.
The party won initiative, and the Fighter (who I should point out, is an “Eldritch Knight” with some limited spellcasting ability) wanted to try to charm the bandit leader. The bandit failed his save, and was charmed.
And the Fighter talked him out of taking the Bard.
Instead, the bandit asked that the party hand over their valuables. A brief skirmish followed as the bandits rallied behind the bandit lieutenant. The party dropped two of the bandits, but the Fighter offered the bandits 50 gold to withdraw.
The bandit leader (still charmed) agreed, and the fight ended.
Our group decided to end there for the night, and I think I’m okay with that. I’d forgotten about the “don’t end in the dungeon thing” I was going to impose. Hopefully I’ll remember it for next time. Next time. . .
So, I’m trying to get more random encounters rolling. I find that I have to make some things up as I go, and speculate on what things would be like.
I have this system.
Each of the characters has a trait, an ideal, a bond, and a flaw. I made a d20 table for encounters, using two of each characters’ Background things — in this case, their bond and their flaw. Five PCs, two traits each, 50% encounter rate.
What I really need to figure out is the interval.
Back when I planned to run a campaign within an admittedly . . . smaller area, the plan was to check once per half-mile hex.
Since we’re using a bigger map, I’ll need something less . . . frequent, I think.