Hey all! I'm back. Now, where were we?

Session 9, part 2- First troubles, Approach to The Lost Chappel

As the battle ended, Mad dog was revitalized, but the lions of Sarkoris formed a wide spaced ring around him, with weapons ready. They did not trust him. "Demon...", "Cursed!"... "Tainted!" Went all around him. jester Holsten, the priest spokesman of the Lions, tried to question Mad dog, see what happened what sort of danger he posed. Mad dog tried to explain himself, but did so quite poorly."I didn't meant to harm any of you! I mean, yes, I felt a blood rage and desire to slaughter, but I controlled it! I think... No! I don't know why it happened or how..." Holter shook his head. "Something, within you made you try to kill us... You controlled yourself for now, but in the future? You know not how it happened, why it happened, or if it will happen again. And you WERE a demon! How can we trust you?"

The player was quite distraught. "I am NOT losing my army!" and sought help from the others. But before they approached Mad dog, they too had things to deal with. Bartlet and his halflings raised bows towards Julian. Suddenly she was in the center of 40+ bows. "We saw something happened to you too... and the demon spoke of some influence... What EXACTLY happened?" Thinking quickly on her feet, knowing no real explanation could satisfy them for now, Julian opted to lie. She made a dismissive gesture. "The demon tried some sort of powerful spell on us. It affected mad dog, but I was able to resist it. A slight headache, but nothing to fear." She spoke with enough authority, enough conviction, and with a good enough story that it persuaded the halflings. "Well, just good to have you with us. That thing..." Bartlet motioned towards the circle of Lions. "Looked pretty nasty!"

Before getting down from the cliffs Sena addressed the mongrelfolk. "Today you have fought without fear, in perfect coordination, with unity, efficient and deadly. You have dealt a great blow to the enemy, but more than that. When I faced that demon, you wished to stay and help me, willing to endanger yourself for me, even when I wished you to stay back. For that I am honored, and humbled to fight alongside you, my brothers." There was a touching moment there, as they called him "Spirit, our brother". The bonds were forming, and quite fast.

Andera too had some words for his troops, though his style was more direct, more to the point, and less dramatic. "You have impressed me. You have done really well. I think you have proven yourself to any that would doubt you." Qulin Longshadow bowed deeply. "We seek to be your tools of destruction oh great lord!" Andera couldn't seem to get that groveling off...

As the different units got back together, the problem of Mad dog still remained. THe leaders of the armies convened quickly, by the sands. Sena was angered when he heard all that have happened. "We can't have this! mad dog, can you think of anything, ANYTHING that might explain this?" Which is when the player remembered the trait, and the ritual Mad dog barely survived. "I think... I think that past events may have triggered something. Inside. But I don't know what." Sena turned to Commander John. "Is this some sort of possession?" Juhn seemed grim. "it might be, but it seems different. Possessions usually do not alter a body so dramatically. They are more a matter of the mind. But perhaps a ready protection from evil could help." Which is when Jester intervened. "Mad dog, this seems to be a battle of will of some sorts. perhaps... perhaps if you had something to believe in, to cling to, such as The Green Faith. We could talk about it, meditate, and maybe it will give you strength. You have fought the demon, even when it felled you, and for that we are still willing to give you a measure of grace. But I will be by your side, provide help if needed, but if this happens again... we will take you out." Mad dog didn't like it, but appreciated the help, and vowed to prove himself to the army. As he went to talk with them, he stopped by Sena and Harry. "You both are smart. Find out what is happening to me!" They nodded, but knew very well that they didn't have a clue yet. Sena shook his head. "bad omen..."

Sena turned to Julian "And something happened to you to?" But she deflected him as well, keeping quiet for now, not quite knowing what to do with all of this herself. So Sena (the unofficial care taker of the greater army as a whole) went to check upon the Queen's Knights. They were grim, with Arabeth helping them bury the dead. The force have lost the equivalent of 4 permanent hit points (out of 32 starting hit points)and they were pretty beaten down by the Dretches final assault (11/28 hit points). Sena tried to console, but they acted professionally, and silently. He used his last channel energy charges to heal as much as he could, which was accepted graciously by the Knights.

They decided to make camp there. As the people were setting up the small tents, Harry and Aravash called for the leaders. "We have another small problem- That demon you fought? Well, he can teleport at will, but he can also assume any humanoid form he wants..."

A round of curses went around the table. "So we'll be watching our backs here all the time now?" Added Sena, highly displeased.

As to experience from the battle: The mognrelfolk moral went up by 1, up to the max of +4 (Fitted the story nicely), Julian gained a boon, and decided on Sharpshooter. The tieflings gained another tactic- taunting.

At early morning, they will enter the Worldwound.

Mad dog and Julian's transformations
The transformations are an attempt to make dealing with the campaign traits more interesting. Mad dog's transformation is mostly physical, along with rage. Based on the raider's leader appearance in the 3rd module. As to Julian? A more mental one, sharing the mindset of demons. The first time was a sort of uncontrolled telepathy, unable to deflect anything, with the demons being most prominent.

The DCs to function were fairly low for now, but this will increase. I hope to pepper some clues here and there as the game progresses.

The start of the Ahari River bed
Now, the module says that they don't want to deal with the effects of the blasted landscape of the Worldwound, and that it will appear in the third module. It doesn't. The third module just gives a list of wandering monsters. So I made a short "random chaotic worldwound effects" of myself. The Ahari riverbed gives some protection, and helps a lot with navigation.

The Silver banner, followed by the Knights of Sarenrae, and the Queen's Knights entered the canyon, while the rest of the forces climbed on the north cliffs, and kept watch while walking there. Choosing to follow the river and not the Plateau turned out to help quite a bit.

Mad dog, the expert wilderness man of the army, led the army, with the lions closely behind him. The going was slow, as the terrain was rough, up and below. Soon after entry the above force stumbled upon a field of hot mud pits. (First random effect, the landscape can change). But Mad dog's high survival skill saw them through, if a bit delayed. Next was the appearance of "wrong sky"- the sun not where it's supposed to be, the colors different. This confused the hell out of them, and Sena thought they went through some sort of a time leap. But harry comforted them, as the Sky sometime show the skies of the layers of the abyss. Had they been on the plateau it would have made navigation much harder, but sticking to the river, it made little real affect, other than disturb the troops, many of which made signs to ward off demonic influence.

As the night neared, mad dog saw something in the air, as if an opening, of something violent, flashes of fire and lighting. "Elemental storm! Down to the canyon!" he shouted, and luckily enough the forces managed to get down in time, before the thunderous mayhem of fire and destruction rolled over them. A short time after, they reached their camp.

Worldwound effects
So far they have traveled pretty unharmed. mad dog's survival skill is maxed through the roof. (Including the half elven skill focus) so I thought it should count. The Plateau would have made things more difficult .Still, they have about 20-25% to fail in any such obstacle. We'll see.

I didn't make my table elaborate (A simple roll of 1d6) since the travel should be fairly short to Drezen (And I had enough of other things to prepare). I will probably improve on it when starting the third module.

The start of The Lost Chappel adventure

As the army camped (All of it except for the Knights of Sarenra in the canyon. The mongrelfolk stood watch above) the lookout came running- gargoyles have attacked, and carried away 5 sodliers! The army was concerned, since they didn't have magical weapons against gargoyles (An excuse why it's just the party). Nurah thought she knew where they went- The is an old Chappel to Desna nearby. It was originally a star observatory, built upon a jutting spire of rock from the top of the canyon up, with the Chapel built on it's top, close to Desna's creation. The road up the spire is called "The Sky road".

Sena grimaced, and called for the party. "Lets do this!" The party was quite relieved to act as their own characters for once. They took their horses and hurried there. At the bottom of the 90ft spire however they met a strange sight- what seemed like a mass of broken statues (Gargoyles bodies), with some arrows sticking out of some. Andera checked the arrows, not of human made- crystalline arrows, though he could not decide on the source. But they could leave that mystery for later.

Second mystery to the chapel
I decided to use the chapel as away to further Andera's campaign trait story. The chapel for Desna is a place where the succubus from the third part (I forgot her name) visited soon before she was captured. There may be signs and clues here and there for someone else here. I just hope the party will try to understand it, and not just dismiss it, as they sometime do).

Th sky road, and the long fall
Sena had been waitign to use his favorite third level spell- meld into stone! he went into the rock, and started moving up, up, up, till he bumped into a gargoyle (my gargoyles are a bit different, and can meld into the places they guard). He palyed a bit of a chase with the gargoyle, in the stone, but managed to pass it. Reaching the ruined chapel, he started to map it quickly, as the spells time was waning, and he needed to get back. He mapped about half of the place, and saw the ghouls, the ghouls priest, and the half nabasu leader, in the process of removing organs from one of Bartlet's still live and screaming halflings...

This did it. He got quickly down, and even before he fully emerged from the stone he spoke. "We go up! NOW!" They knew they will have to face gargoyles, but they had little choice. The Sky Road in the old past was a circular ascending path around the spire, thus allowing the climber to both see the stars of the night sky, and appreciate the detailed star maps carved into the spire itself... but the path was very narrow- 5 ft, and there were no railings.

As they nearly reached the temple, at about 80 ft, 2 gargoyles emerged from the stone, trying to push Mad dog and Harry off. Mad dog resisted, but Harry fell down 80 ft like a brick. ("Harry's player left a bit before that, and Julian's player was playing him. He roamed through his spells. "Feather fall, feather fall. Why doesn't he have feather fall?" Harry crashed hard, down to 0 hit points down below.

A hard fight developed above, as more gargoyles came (6 total, double that of the module). They fought with claw, tooth and horns. Again I was amazed at how vulnerable Mad dog is, as his hit points went down quite fast (Though he was facing 3 of them alone at the head of the party). Sena was frustrated that they weren't demons, since then his bane scimitar was quite pathetic. And Julian's spells? Miss and go...

An awkward battle ensued, but at it's end the party was victorious. Harry was still below, having drank a potion of CLW. Sean wanted to move fast, and his urgency was accentuated by a shrill scream piercing the night...

But not all is bad! The party just leveled up to 6th level! (They gain everything except for "per day" abilities, including spells)
We stopped here. On the whole this was a somewhat frustrating session. Mainly due to the long debates and waste of time (We've since discussed this. I will give up to 15 minutes for major decisions. then, they'll just have to act), and the focus on leading armies, the complexity of it all, which took something out of the roleplay.

I hope I'll learn from this and be able to improve the game later on. The army with it's many units is starting to prove quite complex to handle roleplay wise. I keep forgetting about all kind of units or commanders (John, Arabeth, The Knights of Sarenrae), but the players also seem to like it (Or so I gathered).

About the Chapel: It assumes the party is 6th level, and though officially the party now IS6th level, they come a bit less prepared. I hope the mythic abilities will cover for that. I hope to put one more minor Mad Dog/ Julian transformation, and perhaps an encounter with Excorius, mostly for roleplay purposes (He came hereto heal). I am worried about Muagla, the Nabasu at the end. He seems very powerful, and I fear that the party might burn their resources on what they'll perceive as the "boss battle", with the half demon head of the Chapel.

I hope you are enjoying the read! We're supposed to meet next Friday. I think they might reach Drezen then. I will also have finished most of my Med School final exams, and maybe I will be more free (And update a bit more frequently hopefully? ) Thanks for reading! Feel free to drop a line.