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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM's campaign log- Wrath Of The Righteous (PF & spoliers!)

    Hey all! Back form a long break. We played Last Saturday, but it took me a bit of time to get the free time to write a session log. Hope you're still with us!

    I planned for the encounter with Minhago (Some thoughts in the previous posts), and assumed that after that the party will get to attracting more of Nocticula's attention (The module's Notoriety Score), and get to meeting The Lady in Shadow herself, for some tense negotiations! I even prepared a few props, to make the session a bit more intriguing.

    But... things turned out quite differently. The first battle took quite long (About 4 hours! ) And through the party into quite a loop. Things got... messy afterwards. This session was somewhat chaotic, and took some improvisation, but with a few really cool moments in it!. Hope you'll enjoy!

    The session ended up taking about 10 hours. Hope I will get to write it fast enough. Ok, here goes...

    Session 23, Part 1- Minhago's trickery!


    Ok, last time we stopped, the party was nearing their journey through the city of Porphyry towards the Flesh Markets, where they wished to track down Oodkalakt, the demon which Sena learned held the Drezen tieflings' soul stone. Nearing the markets, they were attacked by a group of Derakni demons, defeated them, and upon interrogation learned that the lilitu demon Minhago was trailing them, and sending assassins after them. So Julian goaded her to appear, and the session stopped as she appeared at the far end of the street.

    Mindnight Shoot out!

    Start of session Notoriety score: +1! (The battle with the Derakni).

    We all know where it's gonna lead, don't we?

    It was at this point that I realized quite a silly mistake on my part. I planned for quite a lot of possibilities, challenges and so on, but totally forgot what Minhago was intending to say at the start of the session!

    I decided between sessions (You can check the previous posts) that Minhago probably still fears the party, to engage them fully. So I decided that she'll decide to use this opportunity to try and hit them hard, where they least expect it, and maybe gain some valuable information in the process- She will try to kidnap Arulashee!

    Her talk ended up with a not very convincing attempt to stall the characters, making some threats, and offering to exchange secrets. Julian however was unto her from the start. "You ran once before, and now you're stalling?" but the party played the game, mostly so they could also cast a few buffs, use some powers... Julian used still silent spells, while Sena used powers and abilities that didn't require somatic or verbal casting.

    In short:
    Active spells when the conversation began:
    - Julian: Echolocation. (She couldn't really see Minhago at this range, but directed herself to where her voice came from).
    - Sena: Circle of protection from evil, Eagle soul, Magic vestment (On his shield)
    - Minhago: Told her accompanying Coloxus demon to start contacting the assassins she contacted- Nezzerius (A specific Half indiku shadow templated demon in the module), and 4 Baregara demons (Adapted from the specific abyssal encounters in the module. Sort of large savage ape like demons, with no heads but gaping mouths in their chests). She uses a telepathic suggestion spell on Hezrou in the waters of the canal to come fight for great rewards, on her mark.
    Her image was a projected image. She herself was invisible about half way on a roof between the party and her image, and also hiding (This becomes important later on). She waited to seize a chance...

    1st round of both side stalling:
    - Julian: silent stilled Circle against evil. (The party knew from their knowledge rolls and previous encounter that she has powerful charms. Between Sena and Julian, they wanted to keep the entire party covered).
    - Sena: Liberation domain power.
    - Minhago: Nezzerius contacted and informed via Sending by Coloxus. Minhago makes quickened telepathic charms on the Glaberzu in the street.

    2nd round of both sides stalling:
    - Julian: Silent stilled protection from evil on Mad Dog. (The party REALLY feared he might fall under enemy's control. And he tends to charge away from the circle's protection)
    - Sena: Elysium call domain power.
    - Minhago: Abergara demons contacted and informed. Minhago makes quickened telepathic charms on the Leader of a small Vrock group in the street (About 6 Vrocks). The vrock pass it to the rest...
    - Nezzerius cast invisibility, and prepares to teleport.

    This was about as long as pretenses could hold up. With Mad Dog seething, Andera easing his sword, and the charade so obvious on both sides, the scene suddenly exploded!

    Battling Minhago's many demons, and Nezzerius appears.

    The scene was complex, as there were many combatants: Minhago and her projected image, 1 glaberzu, 2 Hezrou, 6 Vrocks, and a few cambions who just wondered about, and didn't quite get what was happening ,but tried to get in on the fun (utterly ineffective, mostly as distraction/ obstacles). To that mess Nezzerius and the Baregara demons joined in soon enough...

    Titan Dune, by Two Steps from Hell
    (I didn't manage to find quite a fitting music for these scene, and ended up using this again)

    Julian starts by casting True Sight on Mad Dog. He sees the projected image for what it is, but he does not spot Minhago hiding herself, as his perception isn't high enough for her stealth. The party is quite worried at this, thinking she might be polymorphed into one of the demons in the street, or have access to magic that defeats true sight.

    Sometimes a simple mundane skill check is enough. Magic can usually be countered some way...

    Nezzerius, the sneaky shadow master crossbow user assassin teleports invisible some distance behind the party, over the canal. he has no place to hide, counting on his invisibility, yet Mad Dog sees this new threat ,alarming the party. They get a bit agitated. Julian sees the assassin with her "soul vision", seeing a twisted shadowy sharp form of a... fey? She doesn't know what to make of it. Julian grunts her teeth. "Be prepared! She will probably try to bring the whole damned city upon us!" Mad Dog hears this, grips his sword, and smiles blissfully! He rages (No titan rage), and activates his boots of lying, getting to the surprised shadow creature, yet misses it.

    Sena hears this, and using his quicken metamagic rod starts laying many protective buffs over himself and the party,preparing to do this for the next few rounds. He moves a bit closer to Arulashee, with him and Julian covering the entire party with their circles of protection. "Stay close to me!" he whispers to the succubus. Minhago sees this, awaiting her chance.

    With a telepathic command, she calls on the vrocks. The 6 come around the party, and unleash their stunning screams. With 6 saves, Andera and Arulashee fail, and are stunned, dropping Andera's swords, and her bow. Minhago herself tries to throw Julian int tto he canal with her telekinetic powers, but Julian resists. "Is that the best you can do?" she calls the challenge again.

    The Glaberzu springs up 5 mirror images, and approach. At this point i'm surprised by the player's wariness of the demon. They remember Jerribeth, and are unsure how much weaker this one might be... The 2 Hezrou climb from the canal to the edge of the street. One manages to bite Arulashee, and tries to grapple her but fails. With vrocks blocking 3 sides, and the Hezrou from the fourth, the party is kind of surrounded...

    Behind the Vrocks, the Baregara demons teleport in. The party gets more worried... but also very much more determined! It seems all of the pieces are on the board...

    Shooting range, first fatality!

    Now, at this point I need to emphasize something about Nezerius- I'm using the altered statistics block, (Created by Scorpion). In it Nezzerius has a unique ability- it can summon shadow doubles, which are exactly like it, except for Spell like abilities and lower hit points. He can summon them for a limited number of rounds per day, as a free action. In hindsight, I think that Scorpion must have used him as a solo encounter, and prepared this ability to make it a reasonable threat, as well as deal with action economy. In this encounter however?

    Seeing Mad Dog so close, and having been informed of his deadliness by Minhago prior when she hired it, Nezzerius steps back, and summons his 4 doubles in a circle around Mad Dog. And then all 5 of them, use rapid shot to fire 4 bolts each (They are master crossbow users), with deadly aim...

    Mad Dog get hit with 7 of the bolts, but two of them with a crit! The party sees their melee monster getting machine gunned, and he falls, and dies! (The party: "What the hell?! Oh ****! Oh ****!") Mad Dog's flying boots keep it suspended in the air, a bloody dead bolt punctured body... The party gets real tense about it. "Who to focus on?!" Shouts Sena. Julian calls to him "Get him alive! We'll get Minhago!"

    Sena complies with Julian's plan, Activates his hastened armor, and with his Faith reach uses Breath of life and quickened Heal spell (From Rod) to bring Mad Dog back to the land of the living (184 HP). Mad Dog takes a deep breath, but He is still in deep trouble- Nezzerius and his clones are all around, grinning at him, and ready to load more bolts...

    Don't split the party?

    Julian, fearing the shadow assassin, and wishing to draw attention from it, teleports all of them EXCEPT for Mad Dog, () towards Minhago's illusion! The other group of demons is now behind them.

    Minhago's illusion just smiles, and steps back. The real Minhago, still hidden, calls out telepathically "Engage them! Great riches and rewards from Baphomet itself!" The vrocks bring up mirror image and fly towards the party, with the Glaberzu angry at them, stepping on a building above the party and trying to grab Arulshee again, yet fails. "I will get the rewards!" It roars. The party notices the focus on Arulashee, but takes no heed of it. "They have something with her", and shrug it off. Minhago, seeing where her target ha moved to, urges her Coloxus to move closer but keep hidden and silent.

    Andera comes out of the stun, and calls out to Changi, left on the floor of near the canal. "Changi! To me!" The sword copies and dimension doors itself (It can cast the spell. Pretty neat trick! ) to his hand. He then vanishes, swiftly climb up the building and stabs the surprised Glaberzu!

    The hezrou approach, but not close enough, The Baregara split their efforts- 2 charge and try to grab Arulashee, while the other tow cast dispel magic on Julian and Sena. Sena has his eagle soul drop, Julian her Echolocation. She is indeed blind now, except for her soul vision...

    The fight intensifies!

    But she can still see Nezzerius (Atthis point the party think the clones are other who have come, and not magical creations. Still, they think it is the leader). She unleashes mythic disintegrate on it, and hits! 39d6! This wounds the fiend greatly. He sees her now as a big threat! Him and another clone goes towards them, and go int othe ethereal... The other 3? Keep on shooting Mad dog! He is hit hard, and is now bleeding.

    Mad dog, Not liking the situation, also finds out that as he died (briefly) his sword fell into the water. Not wantign to leave it, and wanting some cover fro mthe 3 shooters, he dives in into the fetid canal, and grabs his sword, wondering what hell do now, alone in the waters of the demon city, bleeding, with the 3 shadowy assassins hovering above...

    But he is not the only one without a weapon- Arulashee's bow was left on the canals' side as well. Without her weapon, she turns towards the Glaberzu. Her demeanor changes as she draws on her succubi powers, suggesting to the Glaberzu VERY strictly to run away, that these champions have killed far worse then it! The Glaberzu falls to her power, and turns away.

    Sena, his call for revenge high in his blood, casts genie blood, and flies in a whirl wind to the midst of Vrocks, Hezrou and Bargera. He seeks to focus their attention on him, and plans a nasty surprise... Minhago however notices this, and how he moves way from Arulashee... Only Julian;s power next to her. Time to make her move...

    Minhago's strike!

    The vrocks and hezrou indeed gang up on Sena, who deflects them all with ease. Andera attacks on of the Bargera that attacked Arulashee, suddenly worried. The Glaberzu teleports away, but Minhago needs it no more. She mentally calls upon the Bargera "Dispell the mortal sorceress spells! All of them! Now!"

    The Bargera cast 4 dispel magic on Julian. It is enough to fell her circle of protection from evil. Hoping there are no more magical protections, Minhago, (Who have slowly maneuvered herself closer) appears and direct her ring of spell storing at Arulashee, casting a quickened Ill omen on her (Forcing her to roll twice on her next save, takign the worst). She then uses her Dominate Monster ability, and manages to control Arulashee. Telepathically, she tells her" Comply with the coloxus spell, and fool the party as you have betrayed them!".

    The Coloxus, who also waited till this point, comes rushing, and casts teleport on Arulashee. At the final moment she turns to the party, unwillingly playing the betraying demon. "So long suckers!" before she vanishes... Sena barely reads something is off (She has a high bluff skill, but the spell does speak that it's easier to see that the person is not himself. It was a compromise), before his loved one vanishes.

    Minhago sneers at the party "I was once overconfident. Felt I was beyond harm. Invincible. I have learned my lesson, now it's time you learn yours!"

    At the table, the party was quite stunned. They quite thought that Arulashee has betrayed them. Sena's player was dumbfounded, and Julian's player cursed "This was too planned from the get go!" Andera's player fumed, while Mad Dog's player just tried to think how the hell he was going to get alive out of this one!

    (I'll touch on design a bit later, after the fight.)

    It's not over yet! A desperate fight!

    Julian, quite angry at being tricked, but seeing a clear target unleashes a chain of light spell on Minhago, who easily evade it. (The player is somewhat stunned by her high saves! )

    Nezzerius, seeing Julian occupied with Minhago, and Mad Dog by his clones, goes after the closest target- Sena. He let out a prismatic spray, but it faisl to affect Sena, but... mostly damages the minions (Two vrocks turned to stone, one vrock and Garbera sent to another dimension... nice!) Sena would grin, but right now he is FURIOUS with rage!

    And with that, he lets out one powerful holy word, blinding, deafening, and killing various demons around him- Vrocks, Herzou, Cambions and Nezzerius itself. The demons are terrified, and most are quite out of the figth. Yet this does not sate the holy man's anger! Yet party safety's first! He flies towards Mad Dog's position, hoping to draw attention and heal their main warrior. Nezzerius, woudned heavily and blinded, slips into the ether again...

    The scene splits between two main sites: Mad Dog, Sena, 3 clones and 2 Bregara chasing, and on the other side Julian and Andera, against the last Baregara and... Minhago herself...

    The battle looks bad...

    Mad Dog thinks to attack the clones, as he rises from the water though he meets readied shots, and his hit points fall to 0! Thinking quickly, he deactivates his boots. which makes him fall into the water again, where he grabs a potion and drinks it.

    Andera dimension doors next to Minhago and attacks her. He hits, but to his surprise her heavy fortification armor manages to block his sneak attack! More, here unholy aura sps at his strength. She turns to him, and tries to lash with her claws, not hitting, but smiling.

    The Baregera next Sena keep taking down his spells. while the 3 clones see the new threat and pepper the the divine tank. But unlike Mad Dog, the bolts all go "tink! tink!" on his armor and falls off. Mad Dog from below hears the diverted attention, and gets ready.

    Meanwhile the Baregara facing Julian attacks and grabs her! She tries to make it drown with Aboleth lung spells, but fails... He pushes her at the gaping mouth in his chest, which starts to gnaw on her. The player... doesn't like the image...

    Minhago calls out to her assassin "Where are you? Come back Nezzerius! Finish them!" She herself tries to claw out Andera, with one claw actually hitting, but he uses mirror dodge to go to the street, to help Julian. "She is too strong for us now!" He hisses, as he slashes and chops at the big beasty demon.

    Minhago turns to the party. "i have been overconfident before, I will not be again. I know why you have come, and would love to see your world's full ruination, soon to come! Now, I have to go and meet... an old friend of mine!" She smiles, and goes to where Arulashee was teleported, to make sure nothing might go wrong and endanger her capture.

    Nezzerius, Not trusting his blindness, and heavily wounded state, and having witnessed both mythic disintegrate and holy words, decides to teleport away, think up a new strategy... The clones fade away, and the party is able to finish off the rest of the Baregaras, as well as the many disabled demons.
    As Andera kills the Baregera holding Julian, she falls from it's grasp, bleeding (Brilliance saved her life casting cleanse on her while grappled), and coughs. Andera helps her up as the enraged Sena and Mad Dog carve a bloody path from the demons in between.

    Sena looks at Julian, rage suddenly turning to grief... "Now what?"

    DM's design: Minhago's trickery
    Spoiler
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    Some of the following is discussed to some degree above. But I will touch on few subjects, that might be of interest/ frustration:
    - It wasn't a fair fight! Not all battles are... and demons don't play fair. Minhago is supposed to be one of the masterminds of the demons' side. An infiltrator, betrayer, charmer, and more. She plays smart. Plus, after failing Baphomet with the protection of the Wardstone, her learning of the party, their many successes and quick rise, and the new not-fully-understood transformations of both Julian and Sena, she is weary, and preferred to not take many chances. So she brought in her assassins. Yet, the battle was not as one sided as it may have seemed- The main problems were actually figuring out Minhago's goal here (Which was hidden well), Minhago herself (Hidden as well), and... Nezzerius. Which brings me to:

    - The deadly Shadow assassin: He proved quite more powerful than I imagined! Mostly due to the clones ability. That sure changed the scales. Mad Dog actually managed to block the majority of the hits, but enough htis, with such a focus on ranged damage, made it pile up real fast! In retrospect, the modified Scorpion version of Nezzerius should probably be used as a single encounter. Originally that was the idea, but with the last minute change of last session, I decided Minhago would bring it here.

    - Dominating Arulashee: Julian commented (In play) that it seemed quite well planned. Well, it was, but not perfect. First, the protection from evil spells could have held. When Sena flew off, it was the chance. At first when both Julian and Sena had their circles up, both covering all party members, I thought Minhago's plan wouldn't succeed. She relied on the Beragara's dispel magic powers to work. (Originally I had her hire them for this specific purpose, as Sena relies heavily on buffing, and the rest also tend to use quite a few protections). Thirdly, Arulashee was the focus of a few demons attacks before her capture. Hezrou bite, Glaberzou claw, and Baregara claw. Yet the party wasn't that worried. Lastly... there was the invisible Minhago and coloxus. While Minhago was quite hard to find, the coloxus was less so, though invisible. After putting True sight on Mad Dog, they didn't put any on the others. The plan had a few possibilities off failure.
    I don't force things to happen. But if the party faced a powerful schemer and mastermind, I would play her with a decent cunning. Had the party was able to protect/ save Arulashee, or even just evade the combat (It looked fairly against them from the start, especially when Mad Dog fell), I wouldn't have pressed the matter. But it played this way...

    - Arulashee's final act: 2 main questions apply here, for rules sake: First, does agreeing to a teleport from the coloxus constitutes "acting against her nature". I deemed that it wasn't, otherwise you can't much do a lot with dominate. Things in the future WILL be against her nature, but quite a few things will happen till then... Secondly, the dominate spell says it's a DC 15 sense motive check to see the person acting unnaturally. But that comes in a paragraph portraying how the dominated person focuses on one activity totally, so it takes time, and not a few seconds after the domination. Also- what if the dominated affect is to act, to bluff, to deceive? I decided that Arulashee's bluff score was 15 less for this. Sena rolled close enough to know something is a bit off, but didn't quite know what.

    - Why did Minhago and Nezzerius escape? They should have pressed the advantage! Well, yeah... Minhago may have faced the party, and had a good chance of killing some, or all. But... first, SHE doesn't know that. All that she have learned so far is that the party succeeds against great odds, impossible odds even (The trap of Drezen? Jerribeth machinations? Taking out the entire Ivory Sanctum in a single battle?), and she is quite afraid of them. I am playing her VERY cautious. She has just captured Arulashee. Now she will corrupt her, break her, turn her against the party, and learn their secrets, especially the secrets to their newfound power... The second reason is that Minhago HATES the party, and seeks not to simply kill them. That won't be enough. She seeks to make them suffer, see them fall, crawl, see their world turn into ash. Break them... She is major corruption demon, with a BIG grudge against the party. She seeks to make them fully suffer! And now, with her new... "acquisition", she plans to make life very, very interesting, at a most crucial point! (More to come).
    Why did Nezzerius turned away? More simple- it saw the battle turn heavily against him. The mythic disintegrate had it very wounded (About 20 hit points), it was blinded by Sena's holy word, and his clones didn't seem to make a dent in Sena's armor. Plus- Minhago just bailed, and most of the other demons were incapacitated. It was time to cut loses, retreat and think things over.


    The party stood in the middle of the bloody carnage. A few more distant onlookers quickly got away, though the impressive battle has left it's mark (More notoriety). They were bloody, with many spells expended, but worst of all...

    Sena walked to Arulashee's fallen bow, near the canal ,and took it in his hand slowly, closing his eyes. "What now?"

    The Bright side?
    Though the party hadn't defeated Minhago and Nezerius, I gave them the XP for he demons they did kill. Enough to level up to level 14! But the party was not comforted by this. "We lost big time. We do not DESERVE to level up!" was Julian's player's sentiment.

    Main changes: Julian got 7th level spells, and chose the finger of death spell. Mad Dog took took the energy absorption rage power, and Andera took the Mage Bane master ninja trick (3rd party, but I allowed it).

    The Party's Notoriety rose to +5 (+2 from 2 battles. +3 from impressive attention getting battle).

    We stopped for a little break while the players updated their characters, and contemplated ways of action....
    ----------------------------------------

    I will stop here. Hope to continue soon.
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2015-10-23 at 11:44 AM.

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