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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Platinum Age Campaign Log

    Back in January my friends and I decided we'd start a new, hopefully long-term 3.5 D&D campaign with sessions to be held on Thursday evenings. I had each of my five players roll up a character in anticipation of our first session on the last day of January.

    The Starting Party
    Artemis: She's a scimitar and bow-wielding human druid always accompanied by her wolf companion (named Wolf). She's lawful neutral and a firm worshiper of Obad-Hai, a patron she shares in common with the less-devout Zephyr.
    Knhalharte Giant-slasher: He's an impeccably-statted (net ability score bonus of +12) dwarf fighter toting the racial waraxe in one hand and a heavy shield in the other. He's neutral good with Clangeddin Silverbeard as his patron.
    Novi Soran: He's a socially-defective (Charisma of 6) elven wizard with a talking raven familiar named Higgins (interestingly, Higgins also has a Charisma of 6). A power-hungry kleptomaniac, Novi is chaotic neutral but remains a nominal worshiper of Corellon Larethian.
    Zeeks: He's a sword-and-boarding priest of Tyr. He's a neutral good crusader character with the knowledge and war domains, ran by a player infamous within the group for incredibly poor luck (definitely confirmation bias, but hilarious regardless).
    Zephyr Absynthe: He's a bow-specialist half-even ranger with a stockpile of bolas and a pony named Bill. True neutral, he's a worshiper of Obad-Hai with a career in bounty hunting (specializing in human prey).

    About myself: I'm a recovering over-prepared perfectionist DM trying to move into a freer, more improvisational style. I'm not a "killer DM" and I don't see the players as my adversaries, but I love dangerous and potentially lethal encounters (and I'm known for not paying too much attention to the challenge ratings of monsters). Victory (and survival) is sweetest when it isn't guaranteed. As for house rules, we don't have too many. I ignore spell components for most low-level spells (as we get into higher levels I'll require that Novi burn GP/XP for spells with item/xp components. The only spell I've outright banned is the Level 1 spell Comprehend Languages, 'cause I just don't like it. I'm not sure whether resurrection magic will fly in my world, I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It's a good thing to note that I make heavy use of skill checks. Knowledge, Sense Motive, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Listen, Spot, etc, checks come at people left and right in campaigns I run, though I'll neglect to mention most of them here.

    Session logs to follow: Comments, suggestions, and concerns welcome and encouraged.
    Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 2013-02-15 at 11:58 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Platinum Age Campaign Log

    Session 1: January 31st, 2013

    The session began with brief discussion as to the party's inter-relationships. Artemis and Zephyr are both nature-focused worshipers of Obad-Hai so a relationship between them, however non-specific, seemed to fit. It was established that Knalharte and Novi had both worked for the same merchant, Knalharte protecting shipments and Novi identifying and appraising any magical goods that came through. Zeeks' crusade against evil would be the foundation of the party's genesis.

    Play began with exposition: The party, originally gathered by Zeeks, was at sea aboard the Siren's Song, a tiny trading vessel crossing the Sea of Silence on its way to an island chain known as the Isle of Tears. Ships to and from the Isle's small coastal community of Murkwater had been vanishing at sea for weeks and the party was en route to investigate. Various Knowledge rolls at this point provided a few pieces of information: 1.) The Isle of Tears was known to be haunted and corrupted by evil (it was explained that the mechanical effect of this is the caster level of evil spells is increased), and, 2.) In particular the forest surrounding Murkwater, called the Murderwood (I'm seeing a pattern with these names), is known for minor undead activity. The Murderwood is the sole source of the expensive striped truffle, a delicacy in the region.

    Those party members succeeding at Listen checks awoke in their bunks in the cramped cabin of the Siren's Song to the sound of shouting from over the storm outside. As the roused characters woke their sleeping companions the door was kicked open and a sailor fell through, slamming closed the door behind him. "Get up! Get up! They're coming!" Before anyone could question the man the door was shoved open and a strange humanoid covered in fish scales stepped through, running the sailor through with a spear.

    The erupting combat between the party and the five creatures outside, who the party successfully identified as locothah (isolationist sea creatures rarely seen on the surface, it was explained), was quick. Though a shaman among the locothah was able to fatigue Knalharte and terrorize Artemis the party soundly thrashed the attacking amphibians, killing the shaman before he could escape overboard.

    With the crew of the Siren's Song slaughtered the party could do nothing but search the carnage for clues. On the shaman's corpse they found a seashell necklace that Novi would later identify as a Lv0 Amulet of Memento Magica and a heavily-decorated but non-magical spear. On the murdered captain they found the old sea dog's ring, Boln's Lucky Ring, an item enchanted to give its wearer a +5 to Swim checks. Below deck they found (aside from the panicked Bill) crates, chests, and sacks full of various goods, including a box of Hellfire Wine, a fine wine.

    Though those with elven heritage could make out an island in the distance, with no one aboard with Profession (Sailing) the party could do little but wait and pray.

    Come morning the prayers of the party were answered and the Siren's Song beached a few miles from Murkwater. Disembarking and heading west along the coast towards town it wasn't long before the sounds of moans were heard from the edge of the nearby forest and a small group of shambling zombies lurched into view and towards the party. Though the zombies were somewhat resistant to physical harm Zeeks, channeling Tyr's might, was able to successfully turn them. After mopping up the fleeing zombies the party pressed on to Murkwater.

    Arriving in town some time later the party was able to confirm that Murkwater was, in fact, still standing and its people alive. In the larger of the town's two taverns (and the only inn), the Blue Basilisk, the party spoke with Borris Tashira, innkeeper and trader. He asked the same question everyone else in town was asking: "Are ships finally getting through?" Artemis' immortal reply: "Just one." Borris informed the party that while undead have always plagued the Isle of Tears, recently they've been attacking in coordinated groups, something that's never happened before. Breaking into peoples' homes to drag them away into the night is unusual behavior for a simple zombie. He explained that in centuries past a necromancer named Kalith had used the island as a base of operations, building a stronghold deep in the Murderwood. People feared that Kalith had returned but Borris wasn't so sure. After buying what goods the party had found on the boat he directed them to the village's new young mayor, Adrian Kenner.

    Unlike the rest of the town's simple construction, the mayor's office and home was grandly-built, reminiscent of the monuments of Absolon (the mainland from which the party had set off). Questioning the mayor, they found him vain and uncaring ("No ships have arrived for weeks, that means no food. Have you ever had to eat nothing but fish for four weeks straight? And care to guess how many bookstores a town like Murkwater has? Not a single one. We're living like savages."), detached from the problems of his community. He did offer a 400gp reward should the party happen to solve the town's crisis and was more than happy to buy some of the luxury goods from aboard the Siren's Song. When Zeeks attempted to convince the mayor to increase the reward amount he merely succeeded in insulting him (his player rolled a natural 1).

    Wanting to investigate further, the party sought out the owner of Copperfist Forge, the largest smithy and general store in town, owned by the red-haired and business-minded dwarf Gorim Copperfist. From Gorim, who was more than happy to help a fellow dwarf ("By my grandmother's beard! Is that a dwarf I see?") they uncovered two more leads: 1.) Long before the founding of Murkwater the island was home to a druid circle. A suspicious lot, many of the people of Murkwater blamed the keepers of that old circle for the Isle's current state. 2.) A few years ago a halfling wizard named Gygil arrived in Murkwater with a manservant named Midor. The pair hired laborers from Murkwater and constructed a small tower on the northern edge of town. Gygil was rarely seen by the people of Murkwater, opting to send Midor on any errands that needed doing. Some people thought old Gygil was behind the town's problems. With more information in hand the party tried to do some business with Gorim. The dwarf drove a hard bargain but eventually an agreement was reached for what goods from the Siren's Song was left. As the party departed, Gorim had something for Knalharte- a letter (in dwarven) for his sister living back on the mainland:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Creszel Copperfist
    Hail sister, honor be to clan and delve.
    I pray the Morndinsamman protects and guides. My sacrifices to Muamman Duathal seem in vain as the condition of this longshank community worsens daily. Two neighbors this week alone were dragged into the Murderwood by the walking dead and based on what I've seen of the pitiful militia I've been pressed into equipping the attacks will likely continue.
    I'd hoped to send money these last weeks but few ships are arriving safe in port and this longleg confederacy might be the last messengers you receive for a moon or more. I hope you are healthy and I kill a chicken for Moradin that he make that remain so. Kiss my nephew for me and save what letters you write for the resolution of the crisis here.
    Kin Gorim


    Next the group turned to the former mayor, an old man named Arando Van Hyden who still lived in town. They found him an amiable enough man, one with genuine concern for the people of the town, but possessed of a terrible fear of kobolds. Something of a conspiracy theorist, he was convinced that kobolds were behind just about every problem in the world. Other than a warning to "always be on the lookout for kobolds" the party received little of value from him.

    The party decided that speaking with Gygil might uncover some stones and headed north through town. Upon arrival at the tower they found it seemingly deserted, everything covered in a layer of dust with its pantry's food spoiled (the front door's alarm enchantment worked just fine). Upstairs they discovered a room clogged with thick webbing and among the webs hanging two skeletons, that of a halfling and a human. Entering the room, the skeletons sprang to life before their eyes, worked like marionettes with delicate strands of silk (an idea shamelessly stolen from the great Chris Perkins) by a massive spider waiting at the top of the tower, alerted by the front door's alarm.

    Eventually vanquishing the spider and its puppets, the party was free to search the room. Digging among the webs Novi unearthed a stash of gold, some scrolls and potions, a masterwork longsword, Boots of Wildwalking (+5 to Move Silently checks in forested environments), a Cloak of Protection +1 (with embroidered symbols that Zeeks identified as icons of Yondalla), a Wand of Color Spray (with 3 charges remaining), and Gygil's spellbook (lv 1 wizard). Most importantly the party found the final page of a crumbling journal, its former entries destroyed by webbing. The final sentence read: "... they meet each night beneath his home."

    There seemed to be little left to find at the tower when the more keen-eared members of the party heard the scratching of tiny legs from within a nearby closet... Ignoring the warnings of his partners Zeeks flung open the closet door and was swept down in a wave of hundreds upon thousands of tiny spiders, spawn of the mother slain earlier. Though the priest nearly met Tyr, through extraordinary effort on the parts of Knalharte and Wolf he was saved (there was an amusing moment in the encounter when Novi put Zeeks to sleep with the wand he'd found, failing to help at all).

    The group slunk back into town and bought a room and stabling (for Bill) for the night, hopeful that they would get to the bottom of things come morning.

    Recap of February 7th's session to follow tonight or tomorrow morning.
    Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 2013-02-16 at 04:45 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Platinum Age Campaign Log

    This is very interesting. I look forward to reading the next update. It also makes me sad that I'm not actively involved in any gaming right now. Mental note: badger d&d group to elect a new DM so that I can play without having to prepare notes, thus saving my very limited free time for the game itself.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Platinum Age Campaign Log

    Quote Originally Posted by Xeratos View Post
    This is very interesting. I look forward to reading the next update. It also makes me sad that I'm not actively involved in any gaming right now. Mental note: badger d&d group to elect a new DM so that I can play without having to prepare notes, thus saving my very limited free time for the game itself.
    Thanks for the interest. Hope you get that game off the ground.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Platinum Age Campaign Log

    Session 2: February 7th, 2013

    The session opened with the party waking in their room at the Blue Basilisk and having a short discussion as to what to do next. Artemis in particular was interested in investigating the old druid circle and so it was settled and the party made its way north into the Murderwood. The first few hours of overland travel were uneventful but soon enough the heavens opened and it started raining. Those characters who passed Knowledge (Arcana/Nature) checks were able to sense immediately that the clouds were not showering them with mere water and the group rushed for cover, Artemis and Zephyr passing Survival checks to find suitable shelter. Beneath the overgrown roots of a half-fallen tree they waited out the rain, Zephyr glad that he didn't bring Bill along.

    Once the rains had dissipated, the party, having now seen firsthand evidence of the island's haunted nature, continued north. Before long the group realized they were being followed by a pack of wolves. Artemis, normally skilled with animals, realized that these creatures were twisted by the nature of the Murderwood and that little could halt the attack. The party learned its first painful lesson on combat tactics here: When asked to place themselves on the grid they did it almost randomly, with little rhyme or reason to their haphazard formation. The wolves, clever pack hunters that they were, capitalized on this and ganged up on individual party members. Artemis was nearly killed when two wolves teamed up to pull her to the ground, dropping her to negative hit points. Quick action on the part of her companion and partners saved her life and the wolves were slain, with Knalharte alone scoring at least three kills. When the battle had ended Zeeks channeled Tyr's light and healed the group's injuries and the party forged ahead.

    Eventually the group came across a large plateau of dirt, a smooth-edged column twenty feet high and sixty feet wide. The plateau was topped with four large stone slabs, reminiscent of Stonehenge. The party took the time to knot what rope they'd brought and Zephyr used his grappling hook to lash the rope to the top of one of the monuments. When the group had safely ascended they found at the center of the plateau a huge, withered tree, surrounded by a ring of smaller stones. Upon approach the tree animated, its form apparent now: What was once a treant had been corrupted and twisted by the nature of the island, its limbs rooted to the ground and its mouth sewn shut with wire. It roared and began rending free its arms and in a panic the party attacked, Novi and Zephyr climbing the rope to the top of one of the rock slabs to pepper the tree with arrow fire from there. Soon the twisted treant had freed both its arms and it began battering Zeeks, knocking him to 0hp in a single titanic blow. Halfway through the battle the creature was nearly felled, Knalharte's axe doing tremendous damage, each blow opening wounds packed with bile and hundreds of crawling insects. It was only now that the party thought to direct attacks against the wire, succeeding and freeing the monster's mouth. "DEFILERS OF OBAD-HAI!" it roared in Sylvan, a language understood by only two of the party.

    Artemis, who had abstained from attacking throughout the battle, pleaded with the tree to calm itself, explaining that she too was a servant of Obad-Hai. But the corruption had run too deep and for their own safety the party had to put the monster out of its misery. With heavy heart Artemis realized that she was too weak to hope to cure the twisted nature of the island, but decided that she would make it a goal to eventually find a way. The party was reluctant to set up camp for the night on the plateau, but reasoned that at least there they were safe from wolves, if not from the rain that they feared would return. At this point all the characters had obtained enough experience to reach 2nd level.

    Thankfully for the party there was no rain during the night, but there was a new problem on the horizon: In the distance to the south, dark purple clouds loomed over Murkwater. The party was undecided on what to do: Some thought they should search for the stronghold Kalith the necromancer had been rumored to have built on the island in past centuries, sure that their problems could be solved there. Others thought it best to return at haste to Murkwater to investigate the strange storm brewing there. In the end it was agreed that they would return to town.

    On the return trip to Murkwater the party was again accosted by corrupted wolves, though the characters had learned from their past mistakes and remained together this time. With the battle over the party decided to cut one of the wolves open and found that the animal's internal organs lacked rhyme or reason, utterly devoid of logic. Something was wrong with this wood. The group continued south. About ten minutes from town they heard the jangling of metal and halted, preparing for battle... when Gorim burst through the undergrowth, covered in chain armor and a thick layer of sweat. He explained that several people had gone missing during the night, including Mayor Kenner, and that he'd been "walking all day" to find them. A few hundred yards can take a lot out of a dwarf.

    The party was immediately suspicious of the mayor, and a passed Wisdom check enabled them to remember the remains of the note they'd found in Gygil's tower: "... they meet each night beneath his home." Hurrying to the mayor's home they found it, like the other buildings in town, locked and shuttered. No door of wood can stand against Knalharte's axe, however, and soon the party was inside. There they found the mayor's terrified secretary, who told the party that the mayor and others from town had gone through a hidden passage behind a bookcase a few hours ago. Letting her go, the party found the secret tunnel and descended with Gorim in tow. "Whatever happens down here... don't let them shave me beard."

    After what felt like an eternity walking down stairs the party finally found themselves overlooking a huge chamber packed with cultists and strange fish-bodied monsters that they successfully identified as kuo-toa (evil amphibious creatures and eternal enemies of the locothah, it was explained). At the center of the chamber was a vertical column of red light and within it a floating and unconscious woman. Clinging her to back was a scaly red-winged creature that those knowledgeable of matters arcane and religious identified as an imp. Finally, at the back of the chamber on a raised platform was Mayor Kenner, reading aloud in a language identified as Infernal from a massive black book.

    It took a successful Diplomacy check to keep Gorim from charging the worshipers in a rage: The weapons and armor he'd been pressed into making for what he thought was a militia was instead being used by devil-serving cultists. Instead the party prepared an ambush. They had no idea what was happening but knew that it couldn't be good. The first surprise round went perfectly for the players, their characters immediately downing the chanting mayor with a hail of arrows. Those not using bows, including Artemis' wolf companion, charged into the assembled cultists, hacking them to pieces. Knalharte and Zeeks each scored several kills, as did Wolf, though the animal overextended and found itself surrounded by enemies and it was hacked to pieces. The imp, furious ("I hate mortals! I HATE mortals!"), grabbed the book to make ready its escape but at the last moment before it could make good on it Novi successfully used the Wand of Color Spray against it, stunning it and allowing the party to make quick work of it, the creature vanishing in a cloud of sulfur as it died. As the battle wound down the last surviving kuo-toa threw down its spear and surrendered and the column of red light flickered and vanished, the woman inside dropped to the floor.

    Knalharte was the only member of the party capable of communicating with the kuo-toa, a creature with a personality as slimy as its skin. It explained that the woman was a sacrifice and that he and the others of his kind had been sent to serve the mayor by a being he referred to as "Broodmother." When questioned about the locothah he insisted that they were the real instigators of the feud between their races, though it was a claim even he didn't seem to believe. He was finally released, with the threat that if the party ever saw him again (not that they'd be able to tell him apart from any others) they'd kill him.

    Next the party turned to the woman, who they discovered to be pregnant (the players said "Oh no..." nearly in unison when they learned this). Though out cold, she seemed unharmed.

    At last it was time to deal with Adrian Kenner, mayor of Murkwater. They found him barely alive, breathing his last. "Please make it quick" was his only request. But the party wasn't about to let him off that easy, and attempted to question him first. They failed both Diplomacy ("This is your chance to make things right") and Intimidation ("If you think you're going to suffer in hell, wait until you see what we'll do to you") checks. He was apologetic, but explained "I'm already doomed to inferno. He'd only double my suffering if I betrayed him now." Afraid that the inhabitants of the town were too far under his spell to be trusted to deliver justice to him effectively, Zeeks made the decision to finish Adrian, executing him for his crimes, though the mayor's last request was fulfilled. On his body they found an Amulet of Undetectable Alignment (disguised as a symbol of St Cuthbert, a symbol Zeeks had failed to identify during their first meeting with the mayor) and a Ring of Protection +1.

    Taking the pregnant woman and the body of Artemis' fallen companion back up to town, they searched Adrian's home for more clues, finding a chest with 600gp. Artemis, Knalharte, and Zeeks took 400gp as their promised payment, splitting it among the party, but refusing to touch the rest, believing that it was likely squeezed unfairly from the town during Adrian's stint as mayor. Novi and Zephyr weren't as discerning and simply split the remaining 200gp among themselves. Next they went to Arando, confident that he could fill his old role and continue looking after the town. Though shocked to learn about what happened, he was thankful that the cult had been uncovered and defeated. He rewarded them with a Short Sword of Kobold's Bane and the hope that they'd get more use from it than he ever did. Gorim, in thanks for ridding his town of cultists, agreed to make for Knalharte a suit of armor, though it would take some time for him to complete.

    The only remaining loose end was what to do with the book the imp had attempted to escape with. Despite a high roll on a Knowledge (Arcana) check, the book proved too much for Novi and the wizard barely passed a Will save as some dark force in the book attempted to take over. Confident that the book was pure evil, the party doused it with lantern oil and burned it. When it was destroyed it vanished in a puff of sulfur similar to the imp's. The group finally returned to the Blue Basilisk for a well-deserved rest and informed me that they intended to investigate the rumored stronghold when next their characters woke.

    Recap of February 14th's session to follow at some point later today or tomorrow.
    Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 2013-02-16 at 05:57 AM.

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