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Thread: The SilverClawShift Campaign Archives

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    Default The SilverClawShift Campaign Archives ("Crystal Cantrips" COMPLETE!)

    Welcome to SilverClawShift's Campaign Journals! The purpose of this thread is to collect and reorganize SilverClawShift's most excellent stories about her real-life D&D 3.5 games, all for your viewing pleasure. For those of you familiar with SilverClawShift's epic tales, sit back and grab a snack, and please don't be too worried by the fact that you'll probably lose about three hour's of your free time reading (or rereading) the following entries. For those of you who are new, prepare to be utterly. Blown. Away. What started as a plea for tactical advice against a swarm of deadly predators has become something truly amazing.

    But aside from being an incredible read, these Campaign Journals will demonstrate to you, dear readers, at least one thing very, VERY important:

    This is what tabletop gaming can be like at its very best.

    So if you're a newcomer to Dungeons and Dragons and you're wondering what it's all about, or a veteran disillusioned by months or even years of frustrating players and draconic Dungeon Masters, take heart! For the adventures of SilverClawShift and company will show you the greatest wonders of Dungeons and Dragons, from the tensest moments of horror to the most exhilarating times of excitement, from the intrigue of figuring out what's going on to the great relief of having it all come to a satisfying end.

    If Dungeons and Dragons is all about getting together with a group of friends and creating a fun and exciting story together, then SilverClawShift's Campaign Journals is tangible, undeniable proof of it.

    Again, welcome to SilverClawShift's Campaign Journals! Enjoy your read.


    Edit: The thread has been stickied! (Or, at least, as close as threads will ever get stickied.) Many, MANY thanks to Roland for the favor and especially DethMuncher for getting it done.


    (Please note that not all of the chapter titles and page breaks were made by SilverClawShift.)



    The First Tale


    Background Information: Or, “We're So Screwed.”

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    So, my group is playing a month long campaign intended to climax around Halloween. Naturally, this campaign is heavy on the horror side of things. I won't ramble on about the main story-arch or the sub-archs we're currently smack dab in the middle of (at risk of turning this into a 5 page thread).

    But we're currently a 6 person group of level 6 characters, and we're currently in deep dragon doodoo.

    We're on a large island/small continent which, aside from a noteable degree of isolation, is more or less like the nearby mainland. A little lighter on supplies and certainly no major cities or kingdoms, but not a bumpkin-ville. it's also been under a massive undead plague for a few weeks, of which we've been a part of.

    The undead are all mindless. Anyone who dies rises as some kind of undead creature, usually a zombie. The long dead are returning as skeletons and low-level homebrew ghost creatures (partially incorporeal, creepy suckers anyway). And it's not just humanoids, animals and even insects are simply not staying dead here.

    We were hell bent on figuring out why. We're starting to wonder if it'll be a better plan to just turn tail and try to convince some paladin organizations to rake over the place with holy wrath.

    Except there's a few stubborn villages who simply refuse to give up their ancestral lands/homes. We're currently in one of those villages, which has managed to set up a few concentric rings of walls and trenches that keeps them relatively safe for a decent length of time.

    Enter problem two. There's a nest of Kythons that lived deep deep in a cave system, who mostly kept to slaughtering things under ground. The plague has affected them too, and while the kythons have been more successful at keeping their undead numbers down (mostly through brutal claw to claw shredding), the whole thing has them riled up enough that they've broken from their natural instinctual cycles, and have come to the surface. They're moving across the island in a wave of carnage.

    For anyone who doesn't know what a kython is: They're from the book of vile darkness, and the fastest way to sum them up is that they're D&D "Aliens" (as in, chestburster, facehugger, queen alien aliens). They aren't LITERALLY aliens, they're more of a demon/aberration, but that's more or less how to sum it up fast.



    The Situation

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    We're in a village of a about 7 dozen people. We're surrounded by undead humanoids, monstrous humanoids, and animals. They're mooks, we could wipe them out with some patience and a good battle strategy, but there's a bigger problem on the horizon. Our scrying and divinations have let us know that we've got about one week, give or take a day, to get ready for a wave of kythons to attack the town in an orgy of blood and fury.

    There's a LOT of them. A LOT of juveniles, a good number of broodlings and adults, and a single slaymaster (you have to know about the kythons for that to make sense). Worse, anything we kill will get up and fight us again, though probably weaker. WORSE WORSE, anything THEY kill will get up and fight us.

    I think our DM wanted us to quest for something to help us protect the town, but we threw a curveball at him, and suggested:

    Us: "What if we taught the village how to fight?"
    DM: "In a week?"
    Us: "Better than nothing."

    In our games, 6th level means you're a downright famous member of your chosen class. Maybe not a world-shatterer, but a 6th level cleric is almost definitely someone other clerics have heard of. A 6th level wizard is a respectable and admired arcanist. Ect.

    Since we're considered "downright incredible" by 99% of the worlds population (99% of the worlds population being 1rst level NPC classes), and since our DM liked our suggestion so much, he's letting us go for it. We get to transform the NPCs into ready adventurers. The solid week of hands-on training will give them a (one-time only) jump to second level, and they loose their NPC classes, gaining real base classes instead.




    The Army

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    Our group is: Wizard, Archivist, Cleric, Rogue, Paladin, and a Dragon Shaman (very relevant of course).

    Our DM has agreed that, between the 6 of us, we know just enough to START anyone down any path they (we) choose. If someone wanted to become a spellthief, our wizard and rogue would know enough to turn them into one. If someone wanted to be a binder, our archivist would be able to tell them how to start looking into it. ect. So our options are "anything", and we've got a crapload of books.

    Not everyone can fight of course. Relevant numbers:

    29 males which we can count actually truly count on in a war (which is what this really is) with slightly above average stats from a life of farming and rough-housing (physically 10-13s with a few peaking at 14, the DM will give us exact numbers at our next session). Mentally a little less stellar, but we can still expect a few to peak up at 13 or 14.

    11 women who are hard-headed enough to join us on the battlefield and not freak out (our DM isn't sexist, this is just a slice of ye-olde-village life where not all of the women are ready to stab a zombie in the face until they're cornered. Please please please don't turn this into a sexism-in-gaming thread, that's not going on, promise). One of the 11 women is a schoolmarm with 16 INT and some pre-cursory training with a rapier (gets proficiency and weapon focus with it as free feats, regardless of what classes we give her). She also has a +1 rapier that's been in her family for a long time, which is relevant because we're looking at mostly simple weapons and farming implements here. She won't let anyone else use the rapier though, unless it's an immediate situation where a weapon is needed.

    7 teens (5 male, 2 female) who aren't as physically able as the adults yet, but are still ready to fight. They're also collectively furious at the situation and ready to go down swinging, all of them.



    Location

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    There's more people in the village, but they're either unwilling, or unable, to really fight with us. The elderly, the timid, ect. We've also established that at least another dozen of the women and a few more men will be willing to shoot arrows from the rooftops of barricaded buildings, but won't be willing to go into battle head on, and they'll retreat inside at the first sign of the rooftops being overrun by kythons (inevitable if they're too effective).

    The kythons will have trouble getting through some of the current defenses, and we have a week to make fortifications, simple traps, and anything else we can think of. If they can't overrun us all at once, they'll wind up attacking in waves, which will give us a chance to re-group and prepare for the next wave. And deal with any zombies in the town

    We've got a full map, but it's all pretty basic. Mostly one level buildings made of wood, a few second story buildings, we're going to use the schoolhouse as a base of operations (sturdy as heck, two levels, decent size) and the non-combatants will be inside when the carnage starts. We'll also try to persuade the DM to let us turn a few of the elderly into some kind of healers. That'll give us a chance to get our wounded patched up in between waves without wasting our resources.

    Our DM isn't afraid of telling us, "You could have saved these people, but failed". We don't know if this is even possible, or if we're in a hopeless situation. Our DM isn't the Devil, but he's not going to baby us, especially during a horror campaign.



    The Gear

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    We each have a good collection of 'junk' gear like (scrolls, piddly wands, trap making material, potions ect), a few decent weapons, some armor, ect. Our wizard can craft wands, and both him and the archivist can make scrolls. Past that, we're basically SOL.

    Our DM will give us some leeway on what we can find laying around the village (if we go looking for a scythe, we'll probably find a farming implement that'll work for it, ect). We can also expect to be able to improvise some weaker armor and shields out of stuff that's in the town, and there are some real weapons and armor stuff around.

    While it's not literally gear, there's also the fact that our wizard knows Arcane Lock as a spell, and can spend the week giving a few strategic locations a +10 DC to be busted down by kythons. The basement to the school (one door only, no way out) will certainly have an arcane lock, plus mundane fortifications, for if the survivors have to fall back inside of it.

    But ultimately? I have no freaking clue what to do, and neither does our group. We all have some notes taken down about kythons (or DM is the only one with a book of vile darkness), stuff our Archivist 'told' us with some knowledge checks. I just keep thinking of our DMs reply when our wizard asked how many were coming. "Lots."

    We've thought, if worse came to worse, we could try to barricade the survivors in the basement of the school, with some heavy heavy duty physical supplies, and try to run our hides out of there to bring in help... but where we could find help on this island, whether or not the barricades would hold for the undetermined amount of time it could take us, and the downright GRUUSOME possibility that we might not realistically make it back in at all... Not a pretty option.

    So.... any suggestions? Any advice, out of the box solutions, sound battle plans, and suicidally insane backup plans are welcome. Downright game-breaking cheese isn't really what we're looking for here, but even that we'll take into consideration at this point. If it's a one time deal to shine like rockstars, our DM will probably let us slide on it.



    Preparation

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    Our archivist is going to spend the week scribing useful divine scrolls (magic vestments, sound burst (! :D). The archivist is also our secret weapon, with the cleric as a backup to that. Bestow Curse baby. Our DM--- err, the KYTHONS won't see it coming. Hit the slaymaster (BEFOE he puts up spell resistance) with a curse that makes him lose half of his turns, 50% change of doing nothing all the way, permanent duration. If we can get off more bestow curses, they'll go on the adults. The broodlings should get stomped, the juveniles will be tough but killable... if we can cut the effectiveness of the adults by 50-25% and turn the slaymaster into a question mark, we might actually have a freaking chance of surviving this.
    Kythons aren't stupid, they're as intelligent (or better) than a human. Broodlings are dumb but cunning. If we can down the slaymaster and enough adults, they'll probably turn tail, either back to their caves, or just dispersed.

    We'll do the math at the table, but our wizard is going to scribe a bunch of scrolls, and of course, craft wands. Mostly of lesser sonic orb, but also of other spells that will be handy en masse. Mage armor, protection from evil, scrolls of magic weapon, and reduce person. Reduce person, for our snipers . +2 Dex, Attack, and AC. Effectively a +3 to hit, and a bonus to avoid getting slashed if they do wind up face to face with something before they turn tail and run.
    He's going to craft the wands as level one. They'll only do 1d6 damage, but he can churn more of them out. We figure a dozen snipers hitting all over is better than 3 snipers hitting harder.
    Wands of summon monster 1. We're going to spam celestial badgers onto the field. We have no delusions, the badgers are there to die while slowing down kythons. We're comfortable with that, and since summoned monsters just go to their home plane anyway, we like to think they'll be okay with it too.
    Web, will also be cast in the streets to slow the suckers down.
    Scrolls of cats grace will go to boost our snipers a little more.
    Displacement on the best frontliners (us) (50% miss chance please).
    And fly, for the big guns (the three pure casters).

    We have stone, and a good amount of it. Our cleric is going to spend the week Stone Shaping it into what we need. He can manipulate 54 cubic feet of stone per day. Which is a LOT of freaking stone, probably exhaust our supplies after a day or two at the most.
    We're going to avoid guerrilla warfare (against our cunning, stealthy, blindsight foes? screw it, we're not going to go into the shadows with THEM)

    Instead, we're going to jump straight to the last stand. Three buildings, the schoolhouse and the two buildings in front of it. (Basically, picture a dead end road. The schoolhouse is the dead end, with two buildings facing each other in a sorta-triangle. 40 feet between the faces of the buildings, which will become relevant.
    The buildings are going to be the ones we focus all our energy on. Arcane locks, HEAVY fortification, insane levels of rubble and stony hazardous terrain ALL behind the three of them. They will literally be reinforced with stone, with stone walls connecting the gaps, stone doors, stone covered windows.... we're basically going to make it unrealistic for anything to come in in any direction but the front. They might come OVER, but certainly won't get in THROUGH. We hope, anyway. But even if they get through the stone, there's still arcane-locked doors in their way... basically way too much trouble to come in the back way.

    So now we're fighting kythons in a stone bottleneck? What to do from here.

    The roofs and rear are going to have a few glyphs of warding. Our wizard doesn't know explosive runes at the moment, so that's out. He will set some alarms in the back, so we know if they're trying to get in that way.
    The street and areas in front of us, same thing. Glyphs of warding, set to sound-burst or inflict-wounds. That'll at least thin them out, and possibly stun some of them. The less we go toe to toe with at once, the better.

    We've also got a few traps and tricks for the frontal assault, which we're hoping to snag adult kythons with. The slaymaster will probably be too smart to fall for much, but we're going to put spiked pillars up ready to fall forwards, sideways, and wherever else we can position them. There's a chance our DM will even use his infamous line "Forget the math, that just killed whatever it hit".
    Spiked trenches will be set up, mainly to slow them down. The last spiked trench will be facing backwards. We're prepared to bullrush them into it if we get the chance.

    So who's "we"?



    The Army
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    Or should that read "The victims?"

    No matter. We're in this now.

    The buildings on either side of the street are going to be our BATTERIES. People who weren't good for much else are going to become dragon shamans. They don't need high stats, they just need to show up. Marshals will be trained the same way. 2nd level marshals don't actually NEED charisma, their major aura functions without it (based on level). Marshal major auras are wonderful things like damage reduction, damage boosts, melee and ranged boosts, and AC boosts. And save boosts. Really, they just freaking boost.

    We're going to fluff it that they're watching the war intently and shouting out warnings and good info. We figure, 24 people will become marshals and dragon shaman (5 marshals to every 3 dragon shaman, set up in redundant circles in all three buildings at the windows in a pattern which will overlap the carnage zone, so the frontliners will get 5 marshal aura boosts and 3 dragon shaman boosts regardless. HOPEFULLY we can keep things from falling apart, the redundant boosts will help, the dragon shaman healing will help keep everyone up and moving) That'll give us: Damage reduction 1/-, +1 to attack in melee AND ranged, +1 AC, +1 Damage from the marshals, and another +1 melee damage, another DR 1/magic, and fast healing 1 (up to half your hitpoints max) from the dragon shamans.
    The dragon shaman will ALSO be warlocks. We're going to try to fluff it as draconic powers manifesting in bizarre ways. "They say everyone has a little dragon blood in them". That will help us survive, and keep the villagers from killing each other afterwards. The dragon shaman/warlocks (1/1) will also be reduced . That extra +2 to attack (+2 Dex, +1 attack) means something. They don't need strength anyway, and they'll be harder to hit if it comes up.

    Each 8-man team of aura boosters will also have two meat shields with two handed weapons. They will also have a weak healer (better than nothing) who will have the main goal of stabilizing anyone before they die. The dragon shaman healing auras will then pick them back up from the negatives.

    That leaves us 14 people, one of which is Miss Beverly the schoolmarm. +1 rapier, high int, weapon focus with it? We were going to make her a swashbuckler, but 2nd level swashbucklers don't get the int to damage, so it's a waste. She's going to become a duskblade. +2 BAB, +1 rapier, +1 focus, +1 magic weapon... She won't be on the REAL frontline, but she's a backup frontliner who can cast true strike a few times.

    13 people left. Warlocks, battle sorcerers with sonic orb wands, and clerics with scrolls of useful cleric stuff and some big-gun healing for emergencies. Sniping out of barricaded windows ideally. We'll see if we can spare a few people to dedicate themselves to reinforcing barricades should they start to fall. We also want to stick at least one dedicated healer and one dragon shaman with a healing aura in the schoolhouse with the survivors, as an emergency heal-bot area.

    We're still going through stuff looking for other bright ideas, but that's the battle strategy as it stands.

    The Cleric, Archivist, and Wizard are all going to be flying. 60 foot move speed, able to get out of harms way. If we can crunch the numbers, there'll be scrolls of fly for me, the paladin, and the dragon shaman as well.

    The wizard will float above us dropping sonic-bombs and being our eye-in-the-sky. He's also going to be saddled with the responsibility of keeping the magic flowing with his scrolls and wands (those he didn't hand off to the trainees).

    The archivist is going to get everyone a +1 to attack and saves against undead AND abberations for the combat. MAYBE a +2, if the rolls are well. The archivist will also be flying, with the intention of dropping weak heal-bombs and keeping his eyes peeled for the slaymaster. When he sees him, he's going to let the cleric know, and the two of them are going to fly-by attack him with some bestow curses. If the initiative works out in our favor, they can both get him BEFORE he throws up his magical defenses, which would be sweet. 50% chance of inaction AND -4 to attacks if they both curse him. There'll be scrolls of sound burst and spiritual weapon for any incorporeal kythons with phase organs (hopefully there won't be more than one ).

    The cleric and archivist both CAN drop heal-bombs, but we have some wands of cure light wounds, and hopefully they'll be able to use their spell slots for other useful things. The cleric will also have turn-undead uses, which we will need.

    The Paladin is going to be buffed up as high as we can and keep his mount in reserve, save his smites for when he thinks they'll do some good, and have some lay-on-hands for stabilizing healing.

    The dragon shaman is going to keep their initiate aura up as we go into things, so we'll ALL have +2 to initiative. After the combat starts, they'll either get us +2 damage, DR 2/magic, or fast healing 2 (half hitpoint max). It won't stack with the other dragon shamans, but if we need an extra edge in one area, they can make it so. They're a copper dragon totem too, so they can spider-climb at will and give us acid resistance 10 if needed. Since a kython might have an acid-spitter weapon, that could come in handy. They can also use a 3d6 line of acid breath weapon (useless against kythons) and have 18 healing 'lay on hands' of their own.

    I'll be sneak attacking with a sonic orb wand. I've got enough UMD to not really worry about it, and with a sneak I'll be doing 4d6 sonic damage. With some good rolls and good positioning (easier to do if I'm flying at 60 feet movement), I'll be able to do some decent damage.
    I'll have real weapons of course, but I'll be trying to hit their Touch AC for a reason, so wand of sonic it is.




    How It Went Down
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    It was night, but a bright moon and a few continual flames gave us enough illumination that we weren't hindered by the darkness.

    We heard them long before we saw them. That was the worst part. The DM would describe what was going on.... it was cold, we could see our breath and the eerie pale lights and unnatural arcane glows making weird ripples on the disturbed snow, our own trenches fading into the distance. We could HEAR chirping, crawling, chattering... the archivist informed us it was only the young and less adept broodlings and juveniles we were hearing. The adults... we wouldn't hear them. We might not even see them before they closed the gap between us.

    Then the bastard started giving us turns. We would pace, ready actions, stare into the distance... making us describe what we did around the table a few times waiting for the slaughter to come to us. I've never felt so darn HELPLESS in a game before, being given a turn and trying to think of something else I could do to help our fight, though there was nothing.

    Then we saw the first of them. The warlocks opened fire, and rolled well. The boosts they had and the eldritch spears started nailing broodlings to the ground, and every few times you'd see a juvenile fall too. There were no adults.

    The wizard and archivist took to the skies. The glyphs of warding we'd set up started dropping sonic bursts on the battle field, stunning kythons and killing/softening them in small groups. The webs slowed them down. Most of them broke away and started swarming in a wider path at that. When they got close enough, the ones with weapons started peppering us with venomous bone shards and acid splashes. We took hits. The dragon shaman threw up his acid resistance, but we considered the early damage to be a poor indicator of our success.

    The first wizard "died". The DM rolled it true, right in front of us. 90% cover on a target from 80 feet away... bone shard to the face. 1 damage, 6 CON damage on a guy who only had 6 hitpoints. The healing auras actually picked him back up, and he fought for another minute before the secondary CON damage took him down to zilch.

    Still no adults.

    We started swinging at the juveniles. I managed to sneak-attack a few with acid orbs and literally just "POP" them. that felt good. Then I got bit on the arm and slashed to the nine hells by a kython adult. We hadn't even seen them, but the DM said they hid until they got past the last trench, fair and true. We started seeing more in the incoming wave after that. I survived it though, and downed a potion.

    The paladin shone like a bright star, truth be told. Lucky lucky rolls. Critical hits left and right, high damage, blocked almost everything that tried to hit him. Shrugged off lots of the stuff that did with damage reduction from the marshals.

    There's lots going on that I'm not explicitly saying. The wizard popped sucker-targets with sonic orbs, the villagers kept peppering the enemies with 1d6s, the first of the adult kythons fell, ect. We were taking damage, but we were SURVIVING it, and taking tons of those bastards down in the process. I'll stop describing the generic warfare here. Monsters died, we got hurt and healed, monsters started coming BACK to life, to get killed again and complicate matters. Kythons fought zombies, zombie kythons bit kythons before being torn into 6 separate pieces, celestial badgers got stepped on as living roadblocks....

    We saw a lineup. 5 adults and 3 juveniles ended their turns on a clean row.... in one of our traps. It wasn't something blatant, it was just that sooner or later, a bunch of swarming enemies were going to wind up giving us a good swing. We hand-axed the ropes holding up one of our trap poles, and BOOM, kython-kabob under a heavy wooden pillar covered in jagged metal and wooden spikes. some of them survived, but pinned, and the paladin cut their heads off (no roll, he had to use actions to do it, but our DM likes to let the numbers slide when you're running a 3 foot steel blade into a pinned monsters face).
    We managed to get another bunch of them under another poll, but after that, they started staggering their waves, tore down two of the polls themselves, and got a circumstance bonus to their reflex save to avoid it when we tried it again.

    The paladin bullrushed a few adults into the spiked trench. 5d6 piercing damage and a pinned kython each time. One tried to bullrush HIM into it, but he cut the suckers head off with a critical hit instead.



    The Tragedy
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    Two incorporeal kythons, one adult and one juvenile. They split up and ran THROUGH us, through the walls of the buildings on either side, and started chomping. We heard the screams. The buildings were fortified enough that we had trouble getting into them.
    The 50% miss chance made them ridiculous. The juvenile fell, but not before taking a few people with him.
    The adult, however, decimated the building he was in before we could do much. Took some heavy licks for his trouble (including from me, firing through a window with sonic orbs and a few sneak attacks... some of which missed entirely do to the incorporeal nature).

    Then he ran through the walls again and out into the open battlefield.

    The paladin got in two hits that avoided the miss chance. Heavy ones. Like I said, he rolled well tonight.
    The cleric sent a spiritual sword after him. It dropped the monster, but not before it slashed through the wall and tore a wizards face off.

    It fell near the doorway. Miss Beverly stabbed it in the throat for good measure.



    Broken Wings
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    The wizard got slaughtered. The archivist took heavy hits, but managed to stay in one piece. The wizard just got hammered with bone shards and acid splashes. Even after using a scroll of energy resistance, he just couldn't keep in one piece. he finally fell to yet another bone shard (which only deal 1 damage :-\ ) and came tumbling out of the sky onto the cold hard frozen ground. Died on impact, no chance of healing. The DM starts passing him secret notes.

    A few rounds later, he gets up.

    Now, it turns out, whatever's causing the undead to rise has a nasty streak. Most things that come back to life are mindless carnivores. Mook zombies and 'ceramic' skeletons (easily killed, that is :-p).
    Powerful people? People who are more noteable than your average blacksmith or wild wolf? People with a large number of class levels? Yeah, they come back to life as something bigger. Something SENTIENT. And something downright sadistic.

    The wizard spoke to us while it aided our enemies, and fought us. It said...awful things. The afterlife, the cause of the undeath, it's big. And bad. And more than some horrible plague or negative energy pulse... It's not some necromancer with a new trick. We don't know exactly what it is, but "Eil Ei" (aisle-eye), as it called itself, has us convinced that this is not a happy time to... uh...exist.

    We managed to hurt it enough to scare it off. But it's got the wizards gear, it knows how to cast the wizards spells, it remembers everything about US, and it DOES NOT LIKE US.
    Or anyone. Anyone still breathing that is.

    So, to quote our paladin, "Wow, that sucks".



    The Slaymaster
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    Oh boy.

    We didn't see him coming either. He managed to dodge the alarms, came at us from a side (over the top of one of the buildings) and went right into the freaking fight.

    The cleric and archivist WERE both successful at cursing him, in between his turns no less, so by the time his turn came, any magical defenses were too late. 50% chance of doing absolutely nothing each time he came up to bat, and -4 to attacks and saves and pretty much everything.

    His next at bat? Do nothing. I managed to get in a sneak attack sonic-orb, the cleric managed to hit him with an inflict-wounds spell, and the archivist flew off screaming at us to get the hell away from it. The townspeople peppered it, and we were amazed at how effective our tactic was.

    The problem is, a slaymaster who's half as effective can still F***ING kill you and F***ING eat you as an afterthought. One turn he's doing nothing, the next turn he beats the cleric into the DIRT and kicks him across the street into a wall. The cleric hit negatives, but the dragon shaman aura brought him back to conciousness, and he healed himself.

    The paladin charged and gave a good smite evil. I debate turning tail and running, but instead hit it for another sneak attack.

    Then the slaymaster turns to me. Hits me, grapples me, and rolls for damage. It rolls...max. No kidding. 35 damage, right there. I was already a little roughed up, and didn't have THAT many hitpoints to begin. He brought me to -12, just like that.

    The DM described it as "One quick jerking squeeze" and I'm a ragdoll. The slaymaster pitches me across the street too and starts fighting the paladin. He rolls well, manages to seriously mess the thing up and dodge a lot of its hits and took light damage. But in the end, the paladin falls into negatives and the slaymaster starts battering the front door to the school (the dragon shaman ran in, pulled in Miss Beverly (who was trying to charge it) and slammed and baricaded the door... none of us blame him in the slightest). The slaymaster is still taking blast damage from the snipers, but we're screwed right? dead wizard, dead rogue, cleric with 2 hitpoints getting torn apart by kythons, paladin in the negatives (looks dead, but is actually CLIMBING in health thanks to the surviving dragon shamans) and a dragon shaman who's drawing blanks on battle strategy.

    Oh. The archivist :) And our last good trap. THE HAMMER.

    As a final-day last-thought trap, the cleric made the hammer. It's a big dumb-bell shaped stone something. The heavier end is braced with wooden pillars, and it's resting in the rubble on a pivot point. The archivist, despite being down to squat hitpoints, swoops through the carnage, grabs the ropes out of the rubble, and flies hard, pulling, tearing out the wooden supports.
    The heavy end immediately falls to the ground hard (killing an adult kython that chased the archivist). The momentum sends the thing up, up, JUUUUUUUST OVER the peak where it looks like it might stand proud.....and CRASHING DOWN onto the slaymaster.

    That was our suicide switch, intended to hit flush with the front of the school and seal it in stone. We would send one brave (and dead) person charging for the ropes, hoping we could survive a few days in the stony tomb and then dimension door out, to try to rescue the survivors. We would also be praying the kythons wouldn't decide to just start tearing away... we honestly didn't know. If they decided to start hitting the weak spots in the rocky shell with acid, we would be screwed. They'd get in and slaughter us.

    Like I said, that was our "what do we do now?" suicide plan.

    But we didn't count on a slaymaster paying all his attention to beating in the front wall while our flying lunatic of dark knowledge sent a huge stone face onto the area.

    Splat splat goes the big angry bug.

    Our DM was actually a little shocked. Not SURPRISED, he knew about the hammer switch, he just thought the chance of us going for it then was non-existant.

    But the fight wasn't over.

    Some of the kythons broke ranks at that, scattering, no slaymaster rallying them. Some adults, and a decent sized swarm of littler ones stuck around. The place was in shambles. The schoolhouse was almost immpossible to get in our out of, but the chokepoint turned to work in the kythons favor instead :-\. With only 5 foot cracks in our out of the front wall (the slaymasters huge form kept the stone from sitting as flush as we had planned), the snipers became less useful. The cleric got shredded, and the kythons were trying to pour into the schoolhouse by tearing at the barricaded windows on the second floor. The snipers could only get one at a time now from each spot. It actually looked like we were totally toast, despite our good fight.

    But as all this was going on, so was something else. Something our archivist was watching with some magical vision, confused and amazed.



    Living Dead Girl
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    As the fight was going on, the DM started on me. (we didn't need secret notes past a certain point, I'll mention where).

    "Roll a will save".

    I was now in the realm of ghosts and spirits. The ethereal. But not THE ethereal, a twisted and injured one, whatever was going on WAS big. ALTERED PLANES OF existence kind of big.

    As a ghost walking around, I could see some rough forms of the real plane, and a bunch of dead bodies... and I could see other spirits. Kythons included. None of the spirits, allied or not, could hurt each other. Everything passed through everything else harmlessly. The DM noted that my +1 dagger was the only thing that felt like it had any weight whatsoever...

    I saw spirits being dragged back into their bodies kicking and screaming. The bodies then winked out of this plane....couldn't see the undead. For whatever reason.

    My will save was just high enough to resist coming BACK to life (I rolled a 4, one higher than I needed the DM said). The DM described it as sliding backwards towards it, as if I were on ice. I felt an evil presence trying to erase and dominate my thoughts, all I felt was the urge to maim, hate, hurt, and more importantly, KILL, and leave corpses in my wake.

    I managed to stop it just before I hit my corpse. I wandered, confused as to what to do here. Making will saves to stay dead, knowing it was a matter of time before I rolled a 3 or lower.

    I saw the dead kython with the phase organ. He was trying to go corporeal, but only could for a few seconds at a time. No one noticed another kython in the 'wave' blinking in existence for a few seconds...

    I took a potshot stab at him with my dagger....

    And it worked! my magic dagger was officially the most powerful thing here, everything else was just mist.

    Note: To TRY to compress this already huge post down, I'll go into speed-description here rather than posting another 3 pages of it.

    I cut the phase organ off the kython, and tried to use it, but was even worse at it than him (apparently non-kythons can't actually really use that stuff). The archivist noticed a confused rogue blinking into existence for half-seconds though. We went out of secret notes, as the archivist knew what was going on and could relay it to the survivors later anyway.

    I saw the slaymaster come climbing out of his battered body. He charged me, and realized it did nothing. Then he started fading back into HIS body...
    ...and I jammed the dagger in and twisted. His physical body shook, twisted, threw the stone block off of him with a terrible roar, went silent, twitched, ect... He couldn't come all the way back with me riding him with a magic dagger in his 'spine'.

    The survivors watched in horrified confusion as the body convulsed, before I finally dealt it enough damage that the spirit winked out of existence altogether. No more slaymaster.

    Seeing their slaymaster leader threatening to come back to life? The remaining kythons scattered in terror.

    But then what of me? I was still making will saves. And I finally failed one.

    What happened next was sheer awesome on my DMs part. He swears up and down that he didn't plan this, that it just made sense when he saw what was going on.

    The DM gave me a REFLEX save. Something a rogue could be expected to make. A reflex save for the purpose of activating the kython phase orgasn as I was sucked back into my body.

    My temporarily physical form couldn't be pushed back into my real body. The 'essence' trying to dominate me faltered, broke, and was ejected as the return to unlife temporarily failed. My spirit was pushed back into my dead frame, but the evil evil thing trying to hitch a ride was forced back into the nothing.

    I heard it, cursing me, promising me unspeakable horrors, telling me it 'wasn't done with me'.

    So that's that. I'm undead, the paladin is battered, the archivist and dragon shaman pulled through. The villagers are greatful, though still mourning their losses. The FREAKING HUGE kython force was actually scattered. They're still dangerous, but so are the zombies.

    The villagers are....waryingly accepting of me being there with my allies, just as they're warily accepting of me. My friends suspected a trick, the archivist interrogated me in a dark knowledge-esque way, the paladin pinged me for evil/good and found I was still good, and I'm not spitting curses at everyone and promising them a world full of the walking dead.

    So they're letting me stay with them. The paladin promised me that if he started thinking I was less than good, he wouldn't hesitate to smite me fast.
    The villagers are too grateful for everything we did to not thank me, but they are certainly keeping their distance.

    We went up a level. The archivist was actually kind enough to learn Gentle Repose to keep me from rotting, though I did have to physically stitch my wounds shut. He also knows some inflict spells, and is going to make me a few scrolls for healing.

    The wizard character is now an NPC, and no doubt we'll be running into him again. The force that was supposed to take me over is looking for revenge too, the DM informed us. And the kythons have not forgotten our existence, even if they ran scared.

    The wizard PLAYER is going to take over Miss Beverly the duskblade :D. He (she, whatever) gets a "Hey I'm now a PC!" XP boost up to 6th level, and the DM promises he'll close the gap between party members as fast as possible.

    The cleric player is going to have to roll up a new character, and is thinking of going factotum. If I know my DM, that means we'll run into him in the kython caves... Not a bad way to weave a new character into an established group, I say.



    Rewards

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    Aside from the level jump, we also got some other stuff. Not a lot of gear, but it's worth mentioning.

    We've got 14 doses of adult kython venom extracted from dead bodies.

    We scavenged a bone-shard hand crossbow which will turn bone fitted into it into tiny little piercing darts. 1 piercing damage only, but it can also hold poison naturally and automatically coast each dart with the poison/venom loaded into it. The archivist is holding onto it for the time being. Figures it might come in handy, despite the low BAB.

    The archivist suggested ("dark knowledge" as fluff, really the DMs direction) that he could reinforce the paladins armor with kython carapace. The paladins shield now has a mundane boost of +2 AC with no noticeable weight increase. Kython shell is good stuff. His full plate also has a mundane boost of +1, and his outfit is now dark and spooky (no shining armor here folks).

    One of the zombies that came shambling into town was some kind of arcanist in life. The paladin was squeamish about looting a random corpse, but agreed that being wasteful of supplies in such hard times would do no one any good.

    The zombie didn't have MUCH, but some good stuff. A spellbook - The archivist is going through it looking for stuff he can learn. It's mostly arcane stuff, but some the spells are also on divine spell lists, so he's going to copy those. Then we can sell the spellbook for some good cash if we ever find a place that would want it.

    A ring - Bonus arcane spell slots for spell levels 0, 1, and 2. Straight to Miss Beverly.

    A necklace - dull tarnished chain with a strange circular pendant. Turned out to give the wearer and anyone in a radius +1 to will saves. We figured the dragon shaman should get it, since we're all trying to stay in his radius anyway.

    Turns out, the DM wasn't going to tell us outright what the pendant really did unless we were smart enough to do that. The pendant ALSO gives the dragon shaman +1 to his auras, above whatever his class would make him project. I like it, a lot, personally. It's a clever little item.

    Miss Beverly also turned out to have a decent nestegg saved up, but not a lot of real gear, so the duskblade player is really running lean until we get to a place that actually has stuff for sale.

    I'm generically undead with no LA or adjustments. That's pretty darn good as it is, though not without its troubles.

    The phase organ? It's still attached to my spirit. Once per encounter, I can go incorporeal for one round. The DM said I might be able to get better at it with feats/levels/time.

    The phase organ also has some secondary effects. I've got kythonish spirit residue on me. Once per day, I can make a dose of adult kython venom fit for coating a weapon or arrow or something. I can also SPEAK with kythons, but I've already checked, they understand me and I understand them, but they will have absolutely-jack-crap to actually do with me. No profound sense of kinship in the slightest.

    That may sound like a lot, but remember I'm a rogue in an undead heavy campaign, heh.

    Looking back, you could get the impression that our DM tries to give us all something cool every time he gives us stuff. Not true, but I think he was inclined to give us all SOMETHING after what we just went through.

    Also, while I'm here posting about this, I might as well mention a great freaking scare the DM got out of us.

    We, the 4 surviving players, (with the new duskblade schoolteacher along for the ride (with swashbuckler levels no less, the player took them on level up )) have collected our wits, organized our gear, patched ourselves up, and tried to figure out what to do next. We decided to check out the mountains with the kython caves, naturally. It's the LAST place we want to go, but it's also the most logical next step in trying to find out "Just What The Heck Is Going On Here Gang?". We tracked the kythons back through their warpath, but got sidetracked. Not too far from the village, we found a little wooden cottage. It was ransacked and shredded, and the doorknob had the same pattern stamped into it as the dragon shamans sparkly new necklace. We figured this was the arcanists home, the kythons tore him apart, and he got up afterwards and happened to trail towards the village (probably drawn by the living kythons in fact).

    We're all pretty noble and virtuous by nature in this campaign, if not specifically PIOUS. Robbing the dead feels yicky. But the cold hard truth of the matter is, it's the dead of winter, we're on an island infested with undeath, and we're dealing with monsters so fearsome they make us STOP worrying about the aforementioned undead. he's dead, we're not (er... most of us.) We need whatever we can scrape up here.

    So we head in, and yeah, we have nothing to say in our defense. We were going to loot everything valuable like starving rats to help cover our rear ends when the next wave of trouble starts.



    I, Warforged

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    So, we're exploring the cottage very quietly. The roof and some walls were torn apart, so snow was starting to blanket over everything. We found a lot of useless spell scrolls, some good stuff like coinage, medical supplies, a few potions (a lot of them frozen and cracking the glass containers they were in, but a lot still usable, though unidentified). We found one of our DMs notorious calling cards, the "Magic Item with no directly applicable use" that we wind up figuring out what to do with. In this case, it's a coin that, when flipped, will change the pattern engraved on it so that it always lands heads. Except that if it initially lands on tails, the pattern takes a good 5 second to change, and does so visibly and with a series of faint clicking noises. useful, right? I'm hanging onto it though. I'm a rogue, it's a magic coin. That's, like, what I'm all about right?

    Anyway, through this whole thing, the DM is doing a good job creeping us out. A cold and dark cottage that someone actually LIVED in not two days ago, suddenly barely recognizable as a home. A lot of morbid detail. We had a pretty moody setup going here.

    Then, we find 'it'. The arcanist had some kind of weird construct, something like the rest of us had never seen before (archivist included). It was battered and partially disassembled, apparently by the kythons. It was also covered in strange markings, runes, glyphs, symbols, text fragments (on its forhead, etched in faint dwarven runes, "thus unbound unfettered and felled"). Ect.

    Nearby it, what looked for all the world to be some strange flute made of the same material and in the same fashion, though not covered in the markings or runes.

    We kind of fixated on the golem naturally (in retrospect, our DM would have tricked us into focusing on it if we hadn't in the first place). We managed to strap the sucker back into one piece. We shrugged and asked ourselves what to do with it, until we noticed that the flute had a detachable series of small black gemstones, which the archivist identified as being effectively "wands" with a single charge and a very simple activation. A little further examination, and he reveals that each gemstone contain a single spell, "repair damage".

    You know darn well what we did.

    So the DM describes the scene, getting more and more quiet. The construct begins to twitch, and jerk. The wooden grain of its frame snaking back together, the cracked stone plating melting into solid pieces once more. He gets real quiet, we're all leaning close together, and he tells us this.

    "Suddenly, the construct springs up in one fast fluid motion, grabbing <dragon shaman> by the shoulders and shouting...."

    And THAT is when the 6th player, the one with no current character, grabs the dragon shamans player by the shoulders and screams "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE CREATOR?!?"

    I. Almost. Peed myself.

    It took us five minutes to stop laughing/throwing things/settle back down and get to the game. The player decided to be a WARFORGED of all things. Him and the DM decided behind the scenes that a warforged experiment the arcanist cooked up would be a great new addition to the party. "It" primarily served the arcanist as an assistant during magical concerns, but also as a cook, housecleaner, and entertainment.

    So, now we have a warforged bard in the party. And I thought I was the odd one out

    They agreed that the best way to introduce the new character would be a shocker moment. I'm inclined to agree.

    So there we go. The bard plans (assuming it survives) to become a sublime chord and act as our primary arcane spellcaster, in a sense. And the DM successfully made us wet ourselves by playing one of our group against us. That bastard.
    Last edited by 13_CBS; 2010-03-25 at 08:25 PM.