View Full Version : Journal [D&D 5e] Devils, monks and the halfling mafia.

2016-01-24, 01:52 PM
Hi guys,

I have recently started a new campaign in D&D 5e and I thought that keeping a journal will be great for feedback and also because keeping a journal makes me remember things. And also I am a complete noob in D&D 5e so I'm excited to see all the times I'm wrong with my interpretations of the rules. I have played and DMed D&D 3.5e (extensively) and 4e (less extensively) before.

So without a further ado, let's meet our Player Characters:

Dax, the human Wild Mage. First time RPG player, she completed a deal with a devil as a child, gaining the chaotic magical powers, burning down her house and driving her mother to suicide. Despite such a dark beginning, she grew up to be a person wanting to be good and not wanting to let her dark nature define her. Chronic sleepwalker (we roll a d20 to see if she does something interesting in her sleep, we have a table prepared).

Finnan Nine Fingers, halfling rogue. Travelling the world with his mate Wilster, members of an unspecified halfling mafia (hence the nine fingers). Sent to the starting town, saying they'll get more instructions on their 'mark' there. Has some RPG experience.

Varadai "Vall" Ravankiir, elven druid. Driven out of his old druidic circle by an attack from Lord Asruil, who obtained their power via a deal with the devil, now desperately wants to protect/preserve holy sites and has a chronic lack of tolerance towards any sort of infernal deals. Also a part time preacher of druidism. Some RPG experience.

Saito, half-elf monk. Abandoned by his parents at his monastery with only an amber medallion as a souvenir, left the monastery upon reaching respectable age. Naive, believes in good in everyone, wants to find his parents. Some D&D 3.5 experience.

Flynn Wonderwhistle, half-elf bard. Of noble birth (of unspecified variety), but desperate to avoid this responsibility (think Alistair from Dragon Age). Escaped his house to travel with a circus. Now a virtuoso of violin. Some D&D 3.5e experience.

We play in Forgotten Realms, but set in the timeline of 3rd edition as I am far more familiar with it. I tend to lampshade the absurdities of the system (how the hell is it not a complete postapocalypse if gods have fought each other less than twenty years ago? How does the economy work when every person can decide they're a druid and produce loads of berries which feed people for days?) and will most likely drive the campaign to avoid the "big shots" of Elminster and the like. Thus the setting is being followed very loosely.

I told the players that they all arrive in the town of Fieldhurst on the day of the Shieldmeet festival, so to end their backstories that way. Of course one player finished his backstory with "mysteriously awakening" next to Fieldhurst. Well, we'll see what we can do with this :smallamused:

I drew the market square on the battlegrid, with most of the centre being occupied by a mage showcasing his magical menagerie of strange creatures (an owlbear! A flumph! etc. I purposefully was choosing the sillier ones), locked away in magical gems. To the sides were different stalls and one featuring a preacher of the Temple of Ilmater (your stereotypical doomsayer).

The party watched the mage for some time, with the bard providing lovely accompaniament to his show, while the druid went on a preaching duel with the doomsayer. After getting thoroughly trounced, many passersbies cheered him up saying they're always seeing this particular doomsayer and he is completely insane. He then went on to a temple of Mielikki, where a cleric finally gave him a properly listening ear towards the problems of nature.

After exhausting the amount of creatures the mage had on his disposal, the party continued to the inn `Plotting Hook', where the rogues noticed a message from their boss (with pointers towards it in Thieves Cant). The note told them to look in the Old Town for a magical dagger, the mafia was apparently offered a million gp (!) for from a `Lord A'. The sergeant of the local Town Guard, a large Dragonborn named Codnestravio, warned the halflings he's seen their kind before and he kicked the previous ones "beyond the crevice".

The general shenanigans of an inn night were interrupted when a small creature, looking like a blob of red goo, barged in the door. At the beginning thought to be one of the beasties of the town square mage, it was quickly followed by more of the same and attacked a villager, sending everyone into initiative.

The druid was going back from the temple of Mielikki at this point and met the town square mage, who pointed out he is not the one responsible for the red goo monsters appearing all around. They ran inside the inn, where they saw five more. Most of them were grabbed by the druid's Entangle spell, one offed by a lucky critical from the rogue. However, at that point a winged devil flew through the roof of the inn and started wrecking havoc. With the rogue pelting him with arrows, he charged at him and sent him to negatives in one round. It's good to note that the rogue helped his Wilster escape rather than escaping himself, which in the following round made him almost die - with his Ideal being "Loyalty", I decided that warranted an Inspiration die. Then the bard cast a spell which made the devil fly away in fear, but at that point one of the mage's beasts broke out of their gems - a massive owlbear charged the inn. However, between the monk providing a reasonable meatshield (fell into negatives by the end though), the sorcerer and the patrons creating Molotov cocktails from ale kegs and the Fire Bolt spell, the druid chugging his own fire at the beast and rogue continuing his barrage of arrows, the massive beast fell.

This signalled the end of the night, with Codnestravio entering wounded and telling the party the town guard has fought off the 'red goo' monsters in town - which the sorcerer managed to identify as Lemures, the lowest devils of the Nine Hells - and thanked them for defending the inn. He then asked the party to wait in the inn for the Mayor to give them a reward in the morning. Without further suspicions, the party went to sleep.

In the morning, the mayor Ralchael Sophev thanked the party and asked them to investigate where the devils have come from. He explained that during Time of Troubles, the town was badly damaged and they had to abandon a section of it, now called the Old Town, separated from the town proper by a big crack in the ground, called the Crevice. He explained that part of the town housed the library and the town's records and that there have been parties sent to retrieve those before, but noone has returned. He suggested the party may wish to talk to him later and departed.

The mayor also brought with him the head merchant of the town, Ariel, a woman hiding her face behind a horned mask, who explained that she originally came to Fieldhurst to look for her ancestral dagger with a cloud symbol, which she believes to have been lost in a temple in the Old Town, so she would appreciate if that could also be retrieved.

The party then visited the temple of Mielikki, where the cleric - Raginter - explained that the town used to have an active druid circle, but they have not heard from it in years. He said its location might be on the maps in the Old Town records.

In that temple they also found the mage from last night, Marvin, who apologised for his bugbear's rampage and said that another one of his creatures escaped last night - a Wolf-In-Sheep's Clothing. Upon explaining that it's a shapeshifter, usually taking the form of a bunny to lure their prey, he gave the group a gem to trap the creature in once the creature is hurt enough (obvious reference to a Pokeball was obvious). He also said he has a magical item to detect the precise location of that creature, but for some reason it was malfunctioning - he said the party may want to bring it first to the town mage Quentyn for calibration.

The party then continued to the Town Hall, a surprisingly lavish building in a small town like this, with a full height statue of a mage and incredible woodwork all over the place. The Mayor then explained that he was attacked last night by attackers in masks similar to the one worn by Ariel. He asked the party to discreetly investigate.

With so many leads to follow, the party started with the Mage's Tower. The tower was locked, however, and attempts to burgle in were met with a booming voice "NOONE ENTERS THE HOUSE OF MIGHTY QUENTYN UNINVITED" and various forms of damage. Finally, the rogue in frustration started scratching the door of the tower, at which point he noticed Thieves' Cant markers on it saying "Compliment the ****er." Upon saying "Quentyn, you beautiful man", the door opened, revealing a dark and empty tower with a staircase going up.

After magically lighting the place up, the party continued up the stairs, first finding an empty office/showcase of Quentyn's artifacts, sealed away in cabinets. No sign of Quentyn tho. Continuing up, they found his bedroom, and in his bed they found who they believed to be Quentyn himself, his face locked in an expression of fear, dead as a stone. On him was only a big white feather, not similar to any birds' feathers Vall was familiar with. Quick investigation did not reveal any abuse or struggle signs in the room...


And that's where we ended. I did mess up a couple of times during the session - it was the first one in 5e I DMed and the first one in a while for me to DM, in my second language as well. I forgot NPCs' actions during the fight, confused the combat rules between 3.5 and 5e (is it genuinely not possible now to approach an enemy, hit them and then walk back without provoking an opportunity attack? Are there no 5 foot steps anymore?). Also the bard's spell took me completely off guard - I did NOT expect them to have a "turn 1 enemy off the fight" spell from the get go.

Also I feel like I could have described the festival better - I think I've made what Rich refers to as a mistake of texture, in that the only event on the market square which had any was the mage's show off of monsters, and then I didn't really have much more to go on there except for "Oooh, owlbear". I felt like at the very beginning the group was a little bit lost as to what to do.

The group did seemed to have enjoyed themselves and I can already see some running jokes being set up (the sorcerer character took the Urchin background and kept trying to steal bits of bread, the druid rolled ridiculously badly and a monk NPC was getting almost-hit with practically every badly aimed projectile). Hopefully this continues well!

We are planning to play every other week.

Any feedback, advice, ideas most welcome :)

2016-01-24, 03:59 PM
Since one can move up to their movement speed at any point during their turn IIRC, 5 foot steps are not needed, since you just move.

2016-01-24, 05:19 PM
Sounds like an excellent start, looking forward to hearing more!

5' steps are gone, but the disengage action allows you to ignore provoking for movement for your turn. Rogues get to do this as a bonus action starting at level 2, and monks can spend ki to do it as a bonus action too. The Mobile feat also allows you to ignore movement OAs from anyone you attack (not hit) on your turn. You also don't provoke from exiting a threatened space, only exiting threatened reach, so you can literally dance circles around an opponent and they wont get OAs unless you try to run away from them.

Lots of other little differences too, the 5e subforum has plenty to help you out with that.

2016-01-24, 08:58 PM
Also the bard's spell took me completely off guard - I did NOT expect them to have a "turn 1 enemy off the fight" spell from the get go.

Was it Dissonant Whispers (lv 1 spell)? That should only make the target move away once, not have it completely run away. It also sounds like Fear (lv 3), which does make targets run away, but it ends when they can't see you so in this case they could have come straight back.

One other rules thing - you talked about characters being in the negatives a couple of times, but negative HP doesn't really exist in 5e. I'm not sure if you were actually mixing up editions or if it's just a turn of phrase, though.

Also I feel like I could have described the festival better - I think I've made what Rich refers to as a mistake of texture, in that the only event on the market square which had any was the mage's show off of monsters, and then I didn't really have much more to go on there except for "Oooh, owlbear". I felt like at the very beginning the group was a little bit lost as to what to do.

I think describing individual events/stalls might tend to make the 'lost' feeling worse. Alternatively, if you describe a trinket-seller and a fortune-teller and so on, it might just make the players want to buy trinkets or have their fortunes told, which could be either worthwhile role-playing or a waste of valuable time, depending on the circumstances and your play style.

I'd probably describe, say, the feeling of being hemmed in by crowds, a powerful smell of fried batter, and a general hubbub occasionally pierced by the laughs of children playing Whack the Rat, and then leave it at that. I.e. indicate that that it's busy and stimulating to the senses, but keep it short. If the players ask about particular stalls, then you know they might be in the mood to go shopping or have their fortune told and you can add more specifics for them to latch onto. But it depends how forthcoming your players tend to be, how well you know or can judge their interests, how much patience they have for each other, how much you want to focus on the plot you have set up, and so on.

EDIT: Also, I almost played a retired halfling mob enforcer once, but the opportunity fell through. The idea of a halfling mafia makes complete sense, especially as (in my head) half the halflings in any given city will be in the restaurant business, which presents a lot of opportunities for laundering money.

2016-01-26, 05:33 AM
Thank you so much for the feedback!

@Mith - indeed, but 5 foot step allowed you to do that with a `full attack' without provoking opportunity attacks. It arose in the session when the group wanted to use more hit & run tactics for the owlbear.

@Kane0 - well hopefully we'll hit level 2 soon so that we can witness the awesomeness ;) I read 5e forums and stuff in my free time, but the blunt truth is, you only start remembering such little details when you play and mess up.

@weaseldust - I believe it was Dissonant Whispers, yes. I did like the idea of the devil flying out, witnessing the battle was not necessarily going his way and then going away to brood and come back stronger at a later point. The ``negatives'' was purely a turn of phrase, I understand the general mechanic of death saving throws et caetera.

Thank you very much for hints regarding ``big event'' descriptions!

Hopefully I will have a new post two weeks from now.

Joe the Rat
2016-01-26, 11:02 AM
Thank you so much for the feedback!

@Mith - indeed, but 5 foot step allowed you to do that with a `full attack' without provoking opportunity attacks. It arose in the session when the group wanted to use more hit & run tactics for the owlbear.

This will get easier come level 2 (Step of the Wind, Cunning Action), but remember that normal characters and creatures only get one reaction - and one attack on an opportunity attack. One person draws a swipe, the rest can move in and out with impunity. Have the highest AC character take the Dodge action and use his move to draw an OA, freeing up the rest to dart about.

You might want to suggest that to your players as an option.

2016-02-07, 05:22 PM
Right, another game today, another story to tell!

When we last left our party, they discovered the death of the town mage Quentyn. We jumped straight back into this. In his bedroom they found a scroll and a little key, which fit into a wardrobe door. Upon opening that door, they found an entrance to... a kitchen, from which snoring could be heard.

They woke up the snoring man, who turned out to be an adventurer hired as a bodyguard of Quentyn. He didn't do a very good job, as he kept getting drinks bought to him in a tavern by some blonde man and ended up passing out. He joined the party to find out what happened to his employer (and get as much extra payment for a job "well done" as possible!). Thus a new PC, a nameless fighter (who we later called Bob), joined the party.

Investigation of the kitchen yielded an interesting find in three ornamented pipes with three types of tobacco (Cormyrian leaves, Athkatlan Fisstech and something their resident herbalist could only describe as "something strange from Thay"). They decided not to experiment with the drugs just yet and continued on.

The kitchen had another door, leading into a chamber occupied by a horrible mass of mouths and tissue, which has turned the next room into a sort of lair. The creature was not aggressive, but demanded food. Upon being fed some chicken, the mass temporarily sprouted a chicken beak, which promptly disappeared within it. This gave the players an idea that the creature may be obtaining the knowledge of what it has eaten - thus they gave it the white feather collected from Quentyn's body. In the mad gibbbering of the mouther they heard mentions of someone being "fallen" and completing his vengeance. Then the druid came up with the brilliant idea of hacking off Quentyn's hand and bringing it to the monster. It met with party's opposition, but in the end noone stopped the character from feeding the magical aberration the proof that its jailor was not a threat anymore. Upon devouring Quentyn's hand, the creature said something about obtaining unlimited power and then realised its captor was gone and promptly turned on the party. Between the six of them, however, even though the mad gibbering kept most of them babbling incoherently most of the time (in particular the fighter did not manage to get a single "normal" round of action for the entire fight!), the beast fell without too much hassle with most damage having been done by the monk.

The lair of the beast led further in, either to an unlit room with a mysterious glowing lamps and a door covered in runes, or to a corridor. The party decided not to mess with obviously-booby-trapped door and took the corridor. After finding some hidden doors, they stumbled upon another office of Quentyn, where he left a letter from his son, Arcturus (in which the son berates him and essentially cuts off any ties with the man) and a letter to his apprentice, in which Quentyn expressed his pride in the student and mentioned that 'his experiments are at an end'. Continuing further on, the party descended down the stairs.

The first room that greeted the adventurers on the lower level was a big garden with an enormous tree in the middle. The bard let his guard down and entered the garden without suspicions, at which point his leg got grabbed by a bear trap and he got smacked off his legs by the clearly awakened tree. The fight was joined by four shrubs. The party collectively retreated and the sorcerer and the druid entered and fired off their Thunderwave spells, which cleared off the shrubs and badly damaged the tree. At that point the fighter took the defensive stance of cutting off any branches that were attacking the party and the rest of the party collectively walloped on the tree, finally bringing it down after a mighty fight (which featured the wild mage accidentally creating a swarm of butterflies around her).

At this point the party took a short rest and the fighter, rogue and bard all smoked some Cormyrian leaves, which allowed them to quite nicely chill out and get to know each other better.

They opened the next set of doors, which led to an enormous steam bath, complete with caryatids in the corners and satin bath robes in a nearly adjoining room. The sorcerer took a plunge in the pool and found the tiling on the bottom to depict a lewd portrait of a lady and upon realising the tower belonged to a lonely old mage and that the water in the pool is very slightly salty, quickly left the swimming pool in disgust. The rest of the party took the opportunity to relax a little bit and the druid went as far as to try on the bath robes... which promptly tried to squeeze him to death, and succeeded in making him pass out. Collective effort of the fighter and the monk was required to take the robes off the dying druid. Not his proudest moment for sure.

Continuing on, the party finally found a room which looked like it could be Quentyn's "shopping hall" - various magical trinkets layered the room. The party collected:
- a coil of rope;
- 8 statuettes depicting various animals;
- 7 malachites;
- a mysterious, slightly fluttering cape;
- a potion of healing (immediately quaffed by the druid, as he was barely standing at that point);
- a scroll of Feather Fall (and identified the previously found scroll as one of Invisibility).

Paranoid after the bath robe encounter, the cape was quickly stuffed into a bag and the statuettes were expected to turn into their respective animals at any point. None of this has happened, however.

The shopping hall had a grand staircase going down from it and another door to the side. That door led to a small laboratory, where the party's sorcerer took a moment to attune Marvin's magical locator to the area and the druid created an alchemist's fire from the alchemical reagents lying around. I also told the party there is enough magical things in there to perform any ritual spell they wanted (from their known list, of course).

Continuing from the lab, the party found a small room which only contained an absolutely massive statue with two swords, surrounded by some loose sheets of paper with notes scrawled on them. The interesting detail on the statue was that it had a simplified symbol of a tree engraved on its chest - exactly the same symbol that adored the monk's medallion and which was his only hint regarding his family and his past. He immediately ran into the room, at which point the statue eyed him and the medallion and spoke in a strange language. The bard immediately went back to the lab to ritual-cast Comprehend Languages and came back to the room to talk to the statue.

As the only person in the room speaking Polish, I spoke as the statue in Polish and wrote down what the bard understood on a piece of paper. Interestingly, the bard player decided not to share everything the statue was saying with the rest of the party, which immediately made everyone suspicious. The statue (understanding, but not speaking Common) said that the tree symbol is a symbol of the Shadowfell Warriors and upon further probing recognised that the PCs are not the members of this organisation and said to "cease questioning and leave", which the party quickly obeyed, with the fighter quickly grabbing some of the loose paper on the floor to peruse later.

At this point we decided to order some food, which quickly degenerated into general silliness and we ended the session there.

This was a session more focused on general dungeon crawling and combat, which the players seemed to enjoy quite a bit! They got very nicely paranoid about everything after a brief scuffle with awakened trees in a garden laden with hidden bear traps. They have one-two more levels of THE TOWER to do before emerging back in the town, after which I'm hoping they'll go to the Old Town to learn the dark secrets of Fieldhurst.

I was quite disappointed in the offensive prowess of the Gibbering Mouther - as much as it left most of the party inproductive most of the time, it couldn't hit a broad side of the barn with its measly +2, and after one blinding spittle I never managed to actually roll its recharge. I also downgraded some of the damage of it and the awakened tree, which I later thought may have been a mistake. I just didn't want their hit/miss to be essentially equivalent to "my character is either at full hit points or is lying down, dying". The nature of level 1 D&D.

I did not plan for the "swimming pool" area to turn into a mass of jokes about a dirty old man - I improvised a bit of description, which the party immediately took in the worst possible way. AHEM. But I was very glad one of the players put on the bath robe.

I'm also reasonably proud of myself that within two sessions I have introduced a tie-in to backstories of most of the characters (and I have the other ones ready, but some will only come into play a little bit later!). I am thinking if I should somehow hint at the tie-ins with the last players sooner, just so that they don't feel like their backstory has been left out. On the other hand I am nervous about giving the campaign a very soap opera-y feel, where the six strangers all inexplicably turn out to be second cousins or something.

I think I may be very Monty Haul-y with the magic items and so on, but I do want to give players options et caetera and I don't mind a higher power level. Also I just struggle to come up with interesting loot that isn't magical/doesn't give the players options. I do know what are the magical properties of the rope and the cape and I was quite surprised that they never even tried to test anything - it was just after a run-in with some living clothes though, so maybe their partial paranoia was justified. I also let the players (except the fighter) level up to level 2 before the next session so that they can face the rest of the dungeon slightly stronger.

I think that's all folks! We'll be playing again most likely in about 3 weeks.


2016-03-16, 07:21 AM
We have had a game a couple of days back, which I forgot to write up. Oh well!

The party continued on, descending the final staircase (not without another trapped step halting them in their tracks - halfling's rolls on trapfinding were absolutely appalling) and being abruptly stopped by a shriek "STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!". It turned out that downstairs laid an entrance hall to the tower, where a bunch of goblinoids were fortified and laid in waiting. A tense conversation ensued, in which the goblin boss questioned the party and explained that his group guarded Quentyn's tower from intruders (all the more suprising to see some descending from upstairs!). He asked the party for a fee to pass, at which point they offered "the magical bathrobes" as part of the payment. The goblin himself was the only one to actually fall for this bluff (... DM sigh) and he promptly started being squeezed to death by the robes. Initiative!

The fight got quickly trivialised by a well-placed Entanglement from the druid - note to self: goblins are not particularly good at fighting being restrained by massive tree branches out of nowhere! - and the goblin boss being rolling horribly on wrestling the bath robes. Despite the goblins having a bit of an advantage, including a tree log which swung in the middle of the party and everyone made their Reflex saves to dodge out of the way and a worg which handily beat panther-druid, the fight was nothing more than a speedbump. The party spared the goblin boss and one of his surviving teammates and told them to make themselves at home in the now-vacant tower.

Despite having the exit right in front of them, the party agreed that looking into the basement would be in order to properly 'clear' the tower. Inside they found a big room with a summoning circle in the middle... and in the summoning circle laid a body of a devil, cut practically in half by obviously something of great might. Noone in the party dared to come close - or INTO - the summoning circle and inspect the body closer. Instead, they ran into the back of the room, where a massive chest filled to the brim with copper, silver and gold pieces awaited. LOOT!

At this point the party exited the tower, finding themselves back in Fieldhurst. Some comments about "wizardspace" ensued, but noone seemed particularly keen to walk all the way back through the tower and the wardrobe to investigate what the actual hell happened (dun dun dun). With no suspicions the party came back to town and reported the mage's death to the authorities. Codnestravio took vigilant notes of all their comments and said they will send a patrol asap, but that they were stretched quite thin with the sporadic attacks of the devils continuing across town and with a murder of the local tailor being investigated.

The party promptly ignored that and continued on their merry way, to go find Marvin's creature. The device led them to a forest outside of town, where after some time they found a clearing with very evenly carved stones paving the ground, a massive hollow tree growing out in the middle and a deer feeding station nearby. Also, there was quite a number of rabbits around the place.

Mr Wonderwhistle exclaimed "We found the druid place!", which the group seemed to agree with, but everyone was more interested in investigating the rabbits rather than the place itself. The druid cast Speak with Animals to try and learn which animal is the shapeshifter. Well, bunnies being bunnies with an attention span of... a bunny couldn't really understand the concept of things changing shape or anything. One of the bunnies did mention the one on the tree stump never moving from said tree stump. Not picking up on that suspicios behavior, druid happily approached the stump bunny, which promptly smacked the druid across the head with a massive tentacle.

An interesting fight ensued, in which the "stump bunny" would sometimes sink its stump into the ground and then the stump would reappear under a different bunny - thus the bard accidentally killed a lovely fluffy rabbit and the party got quite confused if the monster they were fighting ran away, or disappeared, or... what. Eventually though, the wolf in sheep's clothing was trapped in The Pokeball Gem, exclaiming "Noooooo!" as he was locked in.

The druid, having at this point forgotten that a) the clearing is most likely the place where more druids used to reside and b) that they have just enslaved an obviously sentient creature in a gem, had no objections about the party going back to the town and giving the Pokeball Gem to Marvin, who very excitedly gave the team some more and asked to grab them any interesting creatures they encounter. He also gave them a scroll to be able to contact him (one of the "whatever you write on this, I will see" dealio-s), and prepared to leave town. Obviously the party spent some time writing "Butts" and the like on the scroll before moving on.

With the "obvious sidequests" seemingly out of the way, the party decided to finally go to THE OLD TOWN. They moved past a guard outpost on the bridge beyond the Crevice. The guards reported that Codnestravio has sent some people over to the Old Town in the past, but none returned. The party descended down to a destroyed part of the city, with no life signs, burned out ground, ruins and the like. Reasonably quickly they found...

... one of the guards sent over in the past. He was badly wounded and his wound seemed not to close despite the party generously offering him a healing potion. At this point the monk and the bard offered to carry him back and said to the rest of the party to keep investigating, but carefully.

When the two broke off, carrying a badly wounded guard on their shoulders, their old friend - the winged demon from the inn - made a reappearance by shooting spines into the bard. He also came back with a nasty looking glaive for a round 2 with the bard.

The monk broke off running to the guard post, using his exceptional strength and speed to get there and back in a reasonable time. He found the guardpost being attacked by a couple of lemures clawing their way from the Crevice. The monk decided the guards can "handle themselves" for a moment, borrowed a crossbow and ran back to his friend, to ironic comments from the wounded guard, thanking him for "saving him life" in a very `out of a frying pan, into the fire' way. The bard tanked it up with alternating the Dissonant Whispers to make the devil fly away and healing to keep himself standing. A bad cut from the glaive made him bleed and continuously lose hit points, however, and he fell unconscious. The devil, badly wounded from a barrage of Dissonant Whispers and seeing a fresh monk running back into the fight, left the bard at that, throwing curses at the two characters. The monk stabilised the unconscious bard and stemmed the bleeding with a medicine kit and carried him back to the guard outpost, where to his surprise it turned out the guards managed to repel the lemures without themselves dying - I rolled a quick couple of d20 duels, sort of "If guards roll higher, they kill a lemure, if lemures roll higher, they kill a guard", and surprisingly all the rolls went in the NPCs' favour. The guards weren't particularly happy to see Saito, however.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party slowly inched their way deeper into the ruined city and found a pile of debris with some sort of corrupted humanoids ruffling through it. The humanoids looked like humans, but with one hand abnormally long, black and finished with claws, and weird tumours covering their faces. Remembering the advice of the monk and the bard to be careful and not take unnecessary risks...
the party promptly approached the aberrations and the sorceress gave a jovial "Hello!" in Abyssal.

The monster looked up at the party, sniffed at the sorceress, exclaimed "Abyssal whore!" in Infernal (I ruled that the sorceress could understand it, what with the two languages being reasonably close) and we rolled initiative.

We ended the session here, agreeing that the monk and bard's player character will not be there for the encounter next time and I talk to them separately to know what they're planning to do about getting back to the party. They decided they will take a short rest to make the bard replenish his hit points - since Saito has a medicine kit, I decided it makes sense he will be able to revive him even though the short rests usually only replenish HPs of conscious party members. Thus I think after the next encounter I will strongly suggest to the rest of the party to take a short rest as well, to avoid temporal awkwardness and stuff. I think they won't take much encouraging, as the encounter is balanced with 6 people in mind, so hopefully the asskicking will be severe, their retreat swift and the TPK avoided. MWAHAHAHA!

Obviously, the forest quest was the only one that I didn't particularly prepare for, having only a rough outline of what I wanted to do with it. Thus I think the fight was a bit clunkier and easier than I wanted it to be. I wanted the fight to be more confusing than difficult, but... yeah.

Also, the fact that the party didn't investigate the obvious ex-druid hideout will make for an unsatisfying un-Reveal in the session they decide to pursue that and find they've already been there... oh well.

Still struggling to balance the encounters. Currently I seem to be veering on the 'easy' side of them, but at the same time when I calculate how much XP the party should get for the encounter I get some ridiculous numbers which make no sense and make the party skyrocket in XP. I don't mind getting to the level 3 quite quickly, but I do hope that the rate of progression will slow down - also to let the more mechanically relaxed players have some time to actually figure out what their characters are capable of.

We will probably play some more in the coming weekend. Wooo!

2016-03-16, 03:42 PM
Youre right in that the first few levels go by very quickly, it slows down noticeably after 5 or so. Its to quickly get characters past the squishy level 1-2 stage and give them the basic suite of abilities early on for the 'real' adventuring.

2016-03-20, 07:27 PM
Bobless session, so our warrior is just a silent killing machine (seriously, SO MANY kills went to the warrior. Why is he not so efficient when the player is actually playing him?)

Last time we left our party they split up and decided to negotiate with obviously-evil-corrupted-ohGodwhatarethosethings. Well, negotiations have gone poorly when from the pile of debris 7 more creatures joined the party and 1 bigger one actually started using some dark invocations to put the hurt on the adventurers. Although Finnan and Bob (the rogue and the warrior) were doing great in dropping the creatures like flies and the shifting rubble along with an Entanglement spell were doing some great battlefield control... the fight went awry when in one unfortunate round Dax and Varadai fell unconscious, followed in the next round by Bob. Finnan heroically managed to save Dax and run away, but Varadai (who visibly BLED OUT right before the eyes of the players) and Bob were taken away by the strange creatures.

The two survivors agreed to split up (Yes, really), with the sneaky rogue shadowing the creatures to see where they're taking their companions and Dax heading to the hall of records where they were supposed to rendezvous with Saito and Flynn. They both, strangely enough, managed to avoid any more fights and succeeded in their respective missions - Dax holing herself in the hall, and Finnan seeing that their companions have been taken inside a crypt on a nearby graveyard. Distressingly, as time went past, Finnan could see more and more devils converging on the graveyard. Fortunately, he was not spotted.

Varadai awoke in the presence of two devils with snakes writhing around their chins. The two devils greeted the druid and warrior calmly and offered a deal. "We are only here to collect a debt we have a right to. We were summoned here by a person named Sophev, and our price were the souls of the original Founders of this town. We are still missing one. Find the one who is somehow hiding from us. Bring us the one soul we're missing and we can all leave in peace. Consider your survival as a token of good will."

The druid and warrior agreed to the deal without any questions or prodding - probably a good idea not to look a gift horse in the mouth. They were dropped out outside of the mausoleum, to great astonishment of Finnan. Him, suspicious of Varadai (whom he saw bleeding out just before), nevertheless was overjoyed to be reunited with these two companions. The three made their way to the hall of records.

In the meantime Flynn has woken up from his blood loss-induced coma and after a short deliberation him and Saito decided to meet with the party in the Old Town as agreed before. They arrived in the hall of records before the other 3 and exchanged stories with Dax. Hearing voices, a ghostly apparition appeared, asking visitors to be quiet in the place of knowledge. The figure asked only to be called 'The Librarian' and seemed quite unaware of various things, like the desolation of the 'library', the state of the town in general and, well, the fact it was a ghost. After the rogue arrived with the missing companions and much bickering and exchanging stories, the group agreed to - for now - follow the devil's requests, expecting a betrayal at any point. They asked the Librarian about the Founders, and the information it could give was that the Sophev family was one of the families who created Fieldhurst and brought it to its glory. He seemed to regard the mayor of the time, Altes, with great reverence and sympathy. He offered to show the party his portrait, so that they can recognise him easier. He led them upstairs, to a ruined part of the building, with most of the portraits destroyed or almost destroyed. The Librarian, blissfully unaware of the destruction around him, pointed to a ruined painting and said "This is Altes". With some quick thinking, the monk asked him to maybe try and copy that painting, so that they can have a souvenir to carry with them. Now armed with a crude-ish, but recognisable drawing of a person, the party decided to hole up in the library for the night.

In the night Dax exhibited her sleepwalking, which up to this point has not been brought to the party's attention. Fortunately this night she merely accused the keeping-watch Druid's mom of being a horse and asked him to take a bath.

In the morning the party went to the temple, where according to their sources they were supposed to find Ariel's family dagger. Eerily enough, no devils or infested creatures were roaming the streets anymore... the walk was nice and easy, almost pleasant, if it wasn't for the burned out desolate wasteland surrounding them. The temple still stood, however, and inside four adventurers were holed in, talking in absolute gibberish. Saito tried to greet them and together work through the unfriendly area, but they attacked on sight.

This fight got quite interesting. Most of the party got to show off their 2-level spells, courtesy of a freshly awarded level 3. Thus Dax managed to completely negate one of the adversaries, who spent the entire fight trying to fight the Phantasmal Force illusion in front of him. The party truly worked together like a well oiled machine, with everyone by now knowing their strengths - Saito & Bob providing the frontline, Dax & Varadai the crowd control, Finnan the single-target sneak attack damage and Bob the still potent nuke in the form of Dissonant Whisper (and newly acquired Shatter). In the end, despite Bob and Saito running out of hitpoints, all the adventurers fell prey to the combined efforts of our protagonists. Looting the bodies yielded some more healing potions and 10 arrows +1 for the rogue.

The main hall of the temple also featured ruined statues with inscriptions underneath describing 5 gods: Lathander, Eldath, Ilmater, Rillifane and Ao. It was quite strange to see a temple at least partly devoted to Ao. Even stranger, all the pedestals had a symbol of a swirly cloud on them, instead of the usual holy symbols of the respective deities. The party spent quite a while trying to find hidden mechanisms connecting these statues to SOMETHING, to no avail. As it would turn out later, however, messing with the statues did turn out to be good in the long run.

Continuing inside the temple, the party found an empty acolyte bedroom. Of note were the scattered notes, describing some form of cataclysm that has befallen the temple, and some magical prayer beads, which were later identified by the Monk to give him +1 ki point after resting. The notes said that for the safety of the temple, its relics were transferred to 'the Founder's Mausoleum', a place also mentioned in the hall of records. Seemed like a natural next destination.

Upon entering the graveyard, the first thing that the party noticed was a good number of the infested creatures, stood around between the tombstones. On the top of the Mausoleum stood their old friend, the winged devil, watching them with interest. What followed was a very tense march filled with paranoia, as the party could not figure out whether the devils are going to pounce on them any minute now, or if they were going to honour the deal. As they neared the door to the Mausoleum, the winged devil landed right in front of them, menacingly. "We have a deal", said the druid. "Oh, I know", replied the devil with a sadistic smile. Our protagonists slowly shuffled their way inside the Mausoleum... without being attacked... at which point the devil laughed, called them "duckling wusses" (but in stronger words) and smashed the door tight behind them.

Well, one thing for sure - the players hate that devil now.

The mausoleum opened with a grand corridor leading to a room... with statues arranged in a familiar array, and plaques with names "Lathander", "Eldath", "Ilmater", "Rillifane", "Ao" scattered on the floor. Thanks to earlier messing about with the other statues, the party was quick to insert the plaques in their rightful stops, which made the door on the other side of the room shine in brighter light and exhibit a familiar-by-now swirly cloud pattern. The other two doors led to the right and left of the room and were marked 'Sophev' and 'Sillardour' - the other Founder family surname.

The party elected to investigate the swirly cloud door first. Upon opening it, they found themselves... on a forest clearing, with a fresh smell of flowers and a lake inside. In the middle of the lake was an island, were, put on a velvet cushion, laid A DAGGER. Around the lake stood three beautiful nymphs, who greeted the adventurers and after a brief chat said "This dagger belongs to the Lady. Say her name, if you want it." "Ariel", immediately replied Varadai. The nymphs giggled and said "Ariel can come and get it herself. This dagger belongs to the Mistmaiden." At which point one of the adventurers asked, "Who is Mistmaiden?" Nymphs' expressions darkened. "You do not know the Mistmaiden. This..." As the situation was quickly heading towards an initiative roll, Dax cast an Illusion of Ariel walking to the room. The nymphs went silent. Looked at Dax. "Is that who you call... Ariel?" "Yes." A smile brightened the nymph's features, as she dove into the lake, grabbed the dagger, and approached the sorceress to hand it to her. As she did, they could all see her nymph's skin literally fall off, exhibiting a grotesque green skinned body underneath. "Then bring this dagger to her," said the 'nymph', before retiring back to the forest clearing and slamming the door shot.

Yay for bloodless solutions! Aww for dun dun dun.

It was time to investigate the Sophev crypt, which turned out to be filled with undead. 3 skeletons and 3 hunched figures with massively long tongues (2 ghouls and a ghast). Again the party made short work of the monsters, aided by the fact that the DM could not roll anything above a 9 and 16-17 AC range is surprisingly difficult to hit for such monsters. (sigh)

Looting the crypt yielded a necklace marked with 'S', some silver dust (to coat a weapon with) and a magical scroll, which Flynn put away without reading, for now. At that point the characters and the players decided to have a rest and we ended there.

In the night Dax woke up, sleepwalked to the crypt, set one of the coffins on fire, and went back to sleep. How nice.

I think it went really well. I had a really interesting encounter with the 'nymphs' all planned and was looking forward to throwing that on the players, and here they did something which for DUN DUN DUN reasons I accepted as a peaceful solution. I'm sure the well versed members of the Playground have already figured out, at least partly, what the deal is/was - well let's hope the players haven't!

The strange thing about combat this session was that a) monsters couldn't hit for ****, but b) if they did, then in one round the fight could go from "Yay we're winning guys" to "HOLY **** WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE". I was actually worried at the beginning of the session, as the group was making short work of the encounter which was supposed to be hard for 6 of them (and there were only 4!)... until in one round I dropped two of the characters and badly wounded the third. Hm.

One thing which arose is: how are undead and mind affecting effects in 5e? The bard wanted to cast Dissonant Whisper on the ghoul and I ruled it wouldn't work, but then upon checking the book I could find neither the "mind affecting" keyword on the spell nor anything on undead resistance to such effects... Am I just being blind? Would that particular spell work on undead? (Not that I'm planning to throw any more undead at my players, of course. Mwahahahaha)

Glad for the plot thickening to take place. Hee hee.

2016-03-20, 08:46 PM
One thing which arose is: how are undead and mind affecting effects in 5e? The bard wanted to cast Dissonant Whisper on the ghoul and I ruled it wouldn't work, but then upon checking the book I could find neither the "mind affecting" keyword on the spell nor anything on undead resistance to such effects... Am I just being blind? Would that particular spell work on undead? (Not that I'm planning to throw any more undead at my players, of course. Mwahahahaha)

Unlike prior editions, a lot of creatures / creature types do not have inherited resistances/immunities. Undead are fully affected by necrotic damage, constructs can be affected by illusions and enchantments, lycanthropes can be polymorphed, etc. Iconic creatures retain a lot of their known characteristics (devils are immune to fire for example) but they are made on a per-monster basis rather than 'all undead cannot be charmed'.
Of course this doesn't stop you from making these kinds of things again, for example a 'traditional' D&D zombie that is immune to necrotic damage (or even heals from it), vulnerable to radiant and is immune to the charmed condition.

Keep it up, its nice to see a good 5e campaign journal being put up!

2016-03-28, 06:10 PM
And another one of our sessions. Again, missing the warrior.

After having a long rest, the party awoke to find Bob missing (but a stain of alcohol-smelling sick in the corner). As Varadai has seen, during his watch, a strange bat-like creature watching the party in their sleep from the unexplored-yet room, the adventurers decide to start from there. Inside they find two more coffins, two dead bodies in the corners, massive lit torches in the others and mysterious runes at the other end of the room. There is also another door leading out. The room is tall enough not to have a visible ceiling. Upon entering...

... the doors immediately slam shut and a giant hourglass with a button underneath appears. At the same time, the darkness just under the ceiling dissipates, revealing spikes slowly lowering into the room. The party quickly scrambles around the room, trying to find any mechanisms to get them out of their predicament. They realise that pressing the button resets the hourglass, so they set one of their own to manage that, while the rest try various things around the room. The torches get extinguished, the rogue jams the lock in the other door by a critical failure on lockpicking and the monk bashes the door they entered through open, but as soon as he destroys it... an exact copy of it appears! Miffed, the bard casts Faerie Fire, revealing two bat-like outlines on both sides of the door. When one gets almost shot by an arrow, they throw their claws in the air, drop invisibility and say "Right, this is not fun anymore!"

After a brief confusion it turns out the imps just cast some threatening illusions to mess with the adventurers. "Oooh, some good thinking with slamming that door! I almost didn't manage to cast the illusion again!"
Saito asks, "So what awaits us downstairs?"
"Well, that's where the Brothers reside. But we do not walk to the Sophev side of the crypt underground. You may see some more undead there! Also, you don't want to piss off the Hamatula."
"And what do you do here?"
"Be bored, mostly, with Brothers giving you the deal and all. You interested in some gambling?"

The party declines that offer, for now, and decides to come back to Sophev's crypt and descend lower using the spiral staircase found there. The imps bid them farewell and fly down using a hole on the devils' side.
"I like these guys", says the bard.

The room downstairs leads to two corridors in two different directions. Walking down one, the party finds an imp standing guard near two ankhegs digging into the ground.
"Hello, can I... help you?"
"Nah, you remember the deal, right?"
"Yes, just don't irritate the ankhegs. They can be quite aggressive."

Needing no further prodding, the party pursues the other corridor. It leads to a magically darkened room and a sideway door. The party spends some time discussing their options in front of the magical darkness, when a voice booms "Your noise is quite distracting." The darkness is lifted, revealing an utter slaughterhouse - bodies are disemboweled all over the place, a big fire burns on one end of the room and a tall humanoid covered in spikes seems to be studying them with avid interest. He looks at the party.
"Mortals. What is your business here?"
"Hey man, the deal..."
"I am not associated with the Brothers. I am aware of what deal they cut with you, but it has no meaning to me. What do you want?"
"We are just exploring," jumps in the bard. "What is in the room beyond yours?"
"Some debris the others found and decided to be useless during their excavations. Feel free to look there, just don't interrupt me anymore."
Satisfied, the party shimmies their way to the other room, trying hard not to step into any of the blood puddles or disturb any of the bodies. Before making it all the way through, Dax's curiosity finally gets the better of her and she asks, "What are you doing in here, anyway?"
"Studying. Since I'm stuck on this plane, I can just as well learn a few things about you, mortals." The creature - which the party guesses to be the Hamatula - walks over to the fire with a corpse in hand and rips it in two with a sickening crunch. Smell of burning joins the smells of blood and gore prevalent in the room."
"Wouldn't you like to study... us? For a price?"
Hamatula turns around, obviously fascinated by the prospect.
"Ooooh, yes. A part of you in exchange for... what would interest you? Information? Magical item? Enhancing your own magical capabilities? I could make you tap into the wild magics inside you better, Lady of the Abyss."
The party briefly considers this proposition, prodding for more answers. They figure out the devil would essentially drain their essential attribute - Charisma for sorcerers, etc - in exchange for various boons. After some hesitation, they tell him they'll think about it. Hamatula frowns.
"Well, don't interrupt me anymore, then." And goes back to his gruesome research.

In the adjoining room the party finds a mess of rocks, planks of wood and bits of various paraphernalia. Upon their entering, a ghostly apparition manifests in front of them. The discussion went more or less as follows.
"I am of the family Sillardour. I was a priest of our goddess..."
"Was your goddess the Mistmaiden?"
"You obviously know much."
"What was her name?"
"... We do not reveal her name to unbelievers. Yes, I was slain in a conspiracy by the Sophevs, and look where it has brought Fieldhurst! Devils everywhere, the entire town gone to hell! Oh, the Lady would never bear to see the town in such a state. I am still bound to this realm by dark magic animating my body. If you slay it, I will be able to get some rest... and I will allow you to take what was left in this room."
The party agrees to the little sidequest and, under the ghost's direction, collects some "silver dust" (make your weapon silver for an hour for purposes of beating damage resistance) and "magic dust" (make it magical for similar purposes). With the only unexplored avenue so far, the party opens the door in the earlier corridor...

... and find themselves face to face with a mummy and a couple of skeletons. After a brief deliberation, a plan of action is hatched - the sorcerer casts an illusion running into a corner to the room as a distraction, the rogue sneaks in to secure a good sneak attack position, everyone else charges in. That works surprisingly well. Despite the 4 sword wielding skeletons and 4 skeleton archers providing a lot of covering fire and extra bodies to make everything more complicated. The mummy scores some brutal hits on the monk and the sorcerer - with the sorcerer becoming afflicted with Mummy Rot! - but in the end, vulnerability to fire and endless Fire Bolts from the sorcerer spell its doom. Its body crumbles to dust and the party, beaten half to death, decides to have another long rest.

They awaken with the sorcerer having lost 4 of her maximal HP to the disease (unbeknowst to them, that's a stupidly lucky roll for them...). That puts a definite clock on them. What's more, one of the imps politely enters the room to inform them that "The Brothers are losing their patience. You have one more day before the town burns. This is not a bloody hotel."

(yes, it was also a message from the DM 'stop having a 10 minute adventuring day')

The party goes to collect their prize from the ghost - it disappears, saying as its parting words "The Sophev you seek is in town - not the Old Town, but the actual town." The party also remembers that the town's mayor last name is Sophev. Collective facepalm ensues... and also quick looting, giving some more money and a scabbard continuously dripping blood. Its end up being taken by the bard, who feels as if he stabbed himself with his own sword when he sheathes it in that scabbard.

TTe party doesn't decide to haul it right out of the horribly devil infested dungeon. Oh no, they continue on - beyond the mummy room, they find two things: A massive, sealed door with four gem-slots on it (obviously keys of some sort), and a room where the four imps play dice poker. Some Persuasion checks later it becomes apparent that imps own two of the gem-slots for the door, the other two being held by the Hamatula and the imp-with-ankhegs. The imps swiftly lose their own gems in the gambling which ensues and become utterly horrified at the prospect of telling their bosses about it.

At this point, the party does what any decent adventuring party would do, given an obvious collection quest and a boss room.
"Screw the deal. Let's kill everything," says the druid.

The party decides to start their assault from the excavation team. The bard first tries to get the gem peacefully, but alas! The other four imps invisibly eavesdropped on the party planning and ambush the adventurers there and then. 5 imps and 2 ankhegs versus 5 level 3 adventurers. A fight unique in that the party has not fought monsters with alternate ways of movements (ankhegs) or invisibility (imps) yet. Some good paranoia is induced by an ankheg bursting through the wall in the party's backline and dropping the rogue unconscious in 2 rounds. The party only manages to track the movement of imps thanks to the druid wild shaped into a panther and its keen smell.

After some time, however, they notice that the imp with the missing gem has run away! The panther gives chase, knowing that if the imp alerts the rest of the devils about breach of the deal, they are royally screwed. Panther: 50 ft speed. Imp: 40 ft. The druid catches up right in front of the door leading out of the mausoleum. The druid has the last charging attack to make, before in its round the imp runs outside, where its buddies await. The imp is on single digit HP. Varadai charges and...

... scores the exact damage to maul the imp to death. Much rejoice is had. Next one on the list: the Hamatula.

"Your scuffle with the imps has made quite a ruckus down here," remarks the Hamatula while studying some internal organs it hung on the wall. "You want the gem, I presume. Let me take the essence of 3 of you, and the gem is yours."
"Why don't you give it to us? We'll slay the Brothers. You're obviously not their friend."
"That would most likely leave me stranded on the Material Plane, and if you fail, they will take the one gem I have and I will lose the only bargaining chip I have with them."
"Why are you stranded here, anyway?"
"By the ancients laws of the Nine Hells, every devil can appeal for help to the Hells and other devils may be summoned to answer that call. I was called to answer the Brothers'. I have no love for them, but Hells' laws force me to be here and, if requested, give my help to the Brothers."
"Well, but that price is still too high." <Persuasion: Success!>
"Very well. Just two of you."
"Tell you what. You give us the gem. If we lose, you have our bodies to study at your leisure. If we win, Brothers' death will most likely free you anyway. There is no reason we should pay that much." <Persuasion: Success again!>
"Call it an advance payment. Mortals are not known for upholding deals. I need to get something from you before I hand you the gem."
The rogue decides to try for a quick pickpocket to get the gem. After burning an inspiration and Halfling Luck use, he manages not to get CAUGHT doing that and angering the devil.
At this point the bard volunteers himself, figuring losing a part of him is worth freeing Fieldhurst from the devil infestation. The devil grabs him and puts him on a table. He leans over him and obvious dark magics start flowing...
"Screw this!" aaaaand Dax shoots a firebolt. "We are NOT doing this obviously-horrible-deal with you!"

And this is when Hamatula disappoints the DM greatly. Seriously, he has a ****load of HP to burn, but with very little in terms of damage and no allies, he succumbs to the concentrated assault of the party. Lesson learned for future encounters.
As its body fades to ash, it reveals a familiar-by-now gem... and loot to be discovered by the party on next session!

Great session! The party had a proper big discussion on whether they should be working with the devils or should they betray them. Very nice roleplaying all around and some really tense moments. Mummy Rot and the imp's warning did a lot to give the party a sense of urgency (and to produce some silly jokes about which part of the sorcerer turns to sand first), rather than leisurely resting after every fight. All in all, I really enjoyed it and, I think, so did the players, given the extended discussion and exchange of anecdotes they had when we ended the session.

Now to plan the Brothers' move. And the inevitable confrontation.

Fieldhurst's fate will be known in one, two sessions tops!

Question to the Playgrounders - I am aware of the fact that those updates are quite short. Would you like me to describe fights etc in more detail? I tried to switch to actual dialogue rather than reported speech this update - better? Should I write up a "double session" every other session to keep things longer? Feedback welcome!

2016-03-28, 08:47 PM
More detail is always better, but never more than you are comfortable doing. There's no need to recount all the rolls involved in a fight, just the ones that stand out. Table banter is a matter of taste, I like it because it gives a window to the players and characters.