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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    I recently ran what I pitched as a "one-shot," but because D&D takes, like, forever, it ended up taking three sessions. One might say it's kind of like when someone takes a shot of liquor but has to do it several sips cuz they're a biiiiiig baaaaaaby. We were those big babies.

    Session 1 of 3

    I told the players to roll up Level 6 characters and think of some reason that they were on a ship - whether as crew, passengers, stowaways, whatever; so long as they at least knew why they were on there.

    {Author's note after I wrote most of the rest of this:
    I think I will post the story of this in three separate posts, beginning and ending roughly where the sessions themselves did, because serialization is fun, and this is taking a long time to write. And I have to go to work soon. "Boo! Boring! Get to the fireworks factory!" you all say. Fine, geez, just gimme a minute already, yeesh.}

    So this is what they came up with:

    Llathasa, a desert elf druid and spice merchant. And her animal BFF, a camel.

    Chrm (pronounced "cherm"), a human druid, on an undisclosed courier mission, with his trusty velociraptor by his side.

    Swog Bloodguzzler, a hobgoblin rogue and mercenary (not hired by the ship, just seeking gainful murderous employment.) I believe I was the only one ever able to say his entire name without laughing.

    Old Lonesome Phil, a human fighter, a grizzled, middle-aged war veteran and the ship's janitor.

    I sprang my first, mild surprise on them as we started: the ship in question was an airship. They were currently crossing an ocean to a continent west of the one they were from, about to pass over a cluster of little islands. Airships are powered by bound air elementals. (That's air elementals, Eberron; try making sense once in a while.)

    Suddenly, goblins attack!

    They were flying little helicopter-y skiffs. Actually, think of the little airships from the stationary airship level in World 8 of Super Mario 3 and thou wilt knowest what I was picturing.

    The goblins buzzed the ship a couple of times, their crossbowmen taking potshots at the PCs and a few of them jumping on to the ship like a boarding party.

    I told them to imagine that there were more goblins than shown on the mat fighting other people on the ship who were also not pictured on the mat, for I have learned the hard way one of the most important things about making combat snappier: Thy players shalt be bored if thou doth roll dice against thyself to dramatize what is essentially a background action.

    They may have dropped a goblin or two, who were all 2nd level warriors. But the heli-Mario-skiffs passed by on their third go 'round and the diversionary boarding party leapt back aboard and there was a tearing sound from below.

    The goblins' main ship, their sky sloop, if you will, had all the while been positioning below the airship. The air elemental who had hired them as a distraction flew in and dispelled the binding on the magically enslaved elemental, and they both flew away wicked stupid fast, cuz y'know, air elementals.

    The airship, naturally, plummeted into the sea.

    Luckily, miraculously you might even say, the PCs all survived the crash without injury. What are the chances, etc.

    They washed up on the shore of a small island with a prominent mountain and a small village of shacks with a stout, grimy fort in the middle of it.

    The only survivors besides the PCs were a dazed, elderly male passenger, one of the captain's lieutenants, whose leg was broken, and the captain's haughty hipster mistress, who was unharmed but also so totally over it and not going anywhere.

    After a brief loot of the hold, turning up some miscellaneous consumables for the party, and the captain's magical greatsword that shined like a torch, to complement Old Lonesome Phil's mop/quarterstaff, the PCs headed out to scout the nearby village.

    The halfling villagers all stood around mouths agape like slack-jawed yokels until one of the guards approached them and asked them to come to the "king's castle," the rough-hewn fort that stuck out in the center of the village like a rusty thumb.

    Brought before King Eldon Trundler, the party relayed their story and asked if he would be so kind as to help them figure out how to get off the island. He informed them that although he was sorry to hear about their misfortune, his island was one of those "once you enter, you can't leave" deals, to protect his people from the outside world. "They don't even know what a..." he said, lowering his voice and looking around, "goblin is." "That's what I am," said Swog Bloodguzzler. "Uh..Hmm. So you are," said the king.

    After some menacing posturing by Swog, Chrm noticed that beneath his "none may ever leave" exterior, the halfling king was quite upset about something, and with a little prodding provided the reason.

    "Well... It's my dragon!" wailed the king. "She took it!"

    I will spare you my recollection of the dialogue, this having happened nearly two months ago, and summarize:

    King Eldon's feckless son, Happy, married an enchantress, Princess Poppy Seed, and they immediately moved to her tower on the other side of the island. The king disapproved but being fairly live-and-let-live unless he's forcing you to live on his island, did not press the issue.

    Except, now, that scary lady has stolen his newly hatched brass dragon Balthazar, and taken him to her tower, the Naughty Spire.

    No points for guessing how they're going to get permission to leave the island.
    Last edited by Gnome Alone; 2014-06-15 at 10:28 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    Okay, Installment Segundus.

    It's worth noting that this is still in the first session. But the last bit was definitely "Act 1."

    The PCs quickly traverse the island, skirting around the side of the large mountain and briefly passing a small swath of jungle. They arrive at the Naughty Spire, an eerie four-story tower, black and twisty. Like a slinky obelisk.

    The front door is shut, but upon inspection unlocked. As the PCs enter, the halfling sorceress Princess Poppy Seed casts Message to say she's been waiting for them.

    They look around the first floor, which glows with an eerie light cast by the pink rhomboid-shaped jewels burning in torch sconces in the center of the room. There are spiral staircases, left ascending, right descending. They climb the stairs.

    The second floor looks exactly the same as the first, except instead of weird jewel torches, there's no stairs to the next level, and there's a treasure chest just lying against the wall.

    Swog says, "I pick the lock." I say, "It's unlocked actually." The players look at me, slightly perplexed, but Swog opens it up and I say, "There's XX gold pieces and a scroll."
    "Sweet. I take the gold and open up the scroll." "Okay, you have XX more gold. You read the scroll. It says only, 'Sucker!' and then it explodes. Roll a Reflex save." Weirdly enough, the other players were standing far enough away that only Swog was hit. I think he even made the save.

    Poppy Seed burns through another use of Message just to laugh at them, Nelson Muntz-style.

    The PCs give up on ascending and return to the first room. Someone asks what it looks like again, and I describe it. Old Lonesome Phil and Chrm realize I basically just said "HEY LOOK FREE JEWELS DOODZ" and swipe the pink ioun stones that were being slowly siphoned for non-specific dark necromantic rituals. (Windmills do not work that way, yeah yeah. My games are powered by weapons-grade handwavium, dammit.) In game I told them it made them feel more durable. Out of game I just told them they were ioun stones that boosted their constitution. Then I had to explain what ioun stones were/did. Then I had to explain how boosting your Constitution score worked.

    That settled, they go down to the basement. It turns out to be a dank, cramped cavern with three wooden doors. Door number one, Old Lonesome Phil discovered, just opened upon a bucket.

    "Is this like.... the bathroom?"
    "Yep."
    "Is there anything in the bucket?"
    "Uh, sure. Thin layer of urine."
    "Awesome, I take the bucket."

    Door number three held a few human and halfling non-undead skeletons, carrying nothing interesting. "Unless you want some femurs or something, I guess." They did not.

    Door number two proved to contain two troll skeletons, of the unholy mockery of life/rip your face off variety. Thus ensued about 45 minutes of undead slaying. I don't remember any of the specifics but it was not terribly interesting. Swog couldn't do much but take potshots with his bow, the druids neither wild-shaped nor cast any spells that weren't just heals, and Old Lonesome Phil just hacked away. We did discover that Chrm's velociraptor was pretty effective, and that Llathasa's camel, while good at grappling, couldn't reliably pin down a troll skeleton.

    Empirical observations thus gathered, we ended the session there, since it was now past 1AM and I had to get up at 4 that day. "I guess it'll have to be a two-shot," I said.

    Session 2 of 3

    Undead redeaded, the PCs return to the first room, stare at it for a bit, then climb back up to the second.

    "So there's just no staircase?"
    "No, you can't see any stairs."
    "How tall is this tower again?"
    "From the outside it looked to be about 4 stories tall or so."

    They wondered about it for a good 3 or 4 minutes. Poppy Seed again Messaged them: "And they say I'm bad at thinking things through!" She's a 10th level sorcerer, she's got a lot of cantrips to blow through.

    Then, Old Lonesome Phil uses lateral thinking! It's reasonably effective.

    He asks if there are windows. I realize that I should've said that already, but say "Yeah, there are open porthole style windows in each room on the east and west." Phil climbs out of it, using his mighty old man janitor strength and the fact that he bothered to put some ranks in climb. He shimmies up the side of the tower, weapons sheathed, handle of the pee bucket clenched between his teeth, and climbs into the third utterly unremarkable room that is almost the same as the first two. This one has a trapdoor where the descending stairs would normally go, though. Oh, and a glowing portal.

    Phil opens the trapdoor to find the others staring up at him. "Is this an invisible staircase?" Swog asks. "Only one way to find out," I say. He takes a tentative step, finds it solid though invisible, and motions the others up my dumb invisible staircase to what was originally meant to be the final encounter.

    As you may have pieced together by now, my basic inspiration for this was that I wanted to have the heroes save a dragon from an evil princess.

    Before they get to that though, they notice the glowing portal. "Can we see through it?" "Nope." Swog sticks his hand through. I tell him it doesn't feel any different, so he leaps through the portal. I decide I like Swog.

    Through the portal is a room that looks like it might be a bedroom chamber in the tower, although it's too large to fit in what they've seen of the outside. Yes, this is the Naughty Spire, the tower of petty annoyances, magically powered by uh-jewels-I-guess and complete with pointless extradimensional storage space. But hey, I put in a bathroom.

    In the room, Swog Bloodguzzler the intrepid hobgoblin mercenary comes face-to-face with Happy Trundler, heir to the throne of whatever island this is and husband to the sorceress Poppy Seed, sitting on his bed partaking of Gandalfian pipe weed and reading an illustrated scroll of Vorsnax the Adventure Dude. (Thank the gods they didn't ask me to describe that cuz then I would've probably tried to come up with a plot for it on the spot.)

    "Oh gods, are you here to kill me?" says Happy.

    "Maybe," says Swog. "Where's the dragon?"

    "Uhhhh...." says Happy, as the rest of the party piles into his room.

    The (much friendlier) other PCs cram into the room and find out in short order that:

    Happy was more than happy to share his tobacco and wanted to show them his comic book scroll.

    His wife conducts all kinds of weird experiments and is kinda scary but he doesn't mind cuz she gives him this cool stuff and lets him hang out in this magic room.

    And that yeah, she kidnapped the king's dragon and is probably keeping it with her.

    The PCs leave through the portal, and walk up the final staircase to the top of the tower.

    There they find Princess Poppy Seed in the middle of some weird arcane preparations at a podium in the center of the room, with dyed black hair and a lot of black and purple clothing and make-up. There's a ladder to the roof behind her.

    They try to negotiate as she insults them. Old Lonesome Phil proposes that she just give the dragon back. She asks why they care so much and they tell her that the king is offering to get them off the island if they retrieve it. She makes a counter-offer: be my servants and help me take over this stupid podunk island.

    Swog is tempted, and Chrm is remarkably open-minded, but it proves too much when Poppy Seed demands that they kill the reluctant two so she can have more bodies to practice necromancy on. It turns out those two troll skeletons came with the castle and she'd like to figure out to raise her own dead bodies, thank you very much.

    They balk at the clichéd villainous request, so she summons a bunch of quasits (think I had her use a scroll.) Half the quasits turn invisible, the other half fly to the ceiling and take poisonous shots at our heroes. (I'll spare you my probably-not-accurate-anyway round by round recollection and just give you the gist of it.)

    The party make ranged attacks if they have to and melee attacks if they're close enough. Poppy Seed hits them with a Slow. The players are distressed to learn what a badass spell Slow is, and there is much shaking of the head and stating of "we're gonna die."

    The others engage the quasits but Old Lonesome Phil makes a beeline for Poppy Seed, who leaps on the ladder and opens an illusory chasm beneath her. Quasits are reappearing and disappearing all the while and Chrm's dinosaur is shredding them whenever it can get its claws on them.

    Poppy Seed zaps Phil with an Ennervate, and he puts down his pee bucket and leaps on to her.

    At this point I figure, okay, jumping on to her is the move action, but now that he's there he can make a grapple check now, since he landed on her. So Phil grabs her as Swog keeps shooting her (he took Precise Shot and everything, awww) but she manages to break out a bit later, sending Phil falling to the ground. He braces for falling damage and death, only to find that the hole in the ground was an illusion anyway, as he whumps down on it.

    Someone finally manages to drop Poppy Seed and Swog ties her up. They climb the ladder and find the brass dragon wyrmling cowering on the tower's roof, but Llathasa soothes it and they descend back to Happy's room, dumping his tied-up wife before him, after re-stealing her, uh, sanitation bucket.

    Incredibly, they did not think to loot the princess, so, feeling slightly dirty, I had Happy prompt them to take her evil junk away so she couldn't hurt people quite so bad. They take all her magic stuff and left him wondering what to do. Of particular note is a +2 staff that can be glamered. So now Phil has a big sword, a mop/staff, and a staff that can look like a sword or a mop.

    Returning quickly to the king's castle, the rinky-dink fort in an even rinkier-dink village, the PCs give him his dragon back.

    "Balthazar!" King Eldon cries, as it races to his arms.

    "Ok, we'd like to leave now," says Swog.

    "Very well, I give you permission to leave."

    "...But our airship is broken."

    "Huh. Well, that sucks for you, I guess."

    Upon realizing that the king was offering not a way off the island, but simply permission to leave it, Swog says, "The hell with this, I'm killing this guy" and chaos ensues.

    King Eldon leaps up on his throne and goes, "Brothers! To arms!" because Eldon is a Perform (Oratory) bard, and melodramatic besides. "Balthazar, run!"

    Llathasa and Old Lonesome Phil want no part of this, and actually lay down their weapons when more guards into the fort and demand surrender, as Balthazar bolts past them.

    Chrm's velociraptor is a big ol' blurry death tornado. I think it killed like 6 out of 10 guards or something. Swog and Chrm fight in the inimitable, time-tested style that TV Tropes calls "Back to Back Badasses." (No link provided, for the sake of the international economy.)

    In a remarkable bit of non-metagaming from our typically most metagaming player ("you're not here for this conversation" I says to him I says, in another game) the player of Llathasa elects to have her camel participate in the fight, mainly with its mighty grapple check. I imagine this would take the form of just laying down on the guard cuz camels are flipping huge, but anyhoo...

    The guards disarming half the party run to the king's aid (because dino-severed guard bits are starting to pile up) as the king turns invisible and runs behind a curtain into a side room.

    Old Lonesome Phil and Llathasa decide to join the battle after all, as... Llathasa mounts her camel and runs off into the jungle. Ok, Phil decides to join the battle after all, picks up his sword and runs into the curtained room, and finally does something with that bucket of sorceress pee he's been carrying around for hours. He flings the curtain open and sloshes the bucket's contents all over the king. Phil had thought to make him visible by getting him wet, and since he acted so fast did not realize that the king was visible anyway, having cast a healing spell on himself and now grabbing his stuff in preparation for bolting out the window. But I guess that would've stopped him from turning invisible again.

    Llathasa, outside in a clearing in the jungle, sees a crowd of locathah gathered around the wreck of their airship, which is suddenly looking a lot less wrecked, and a lot more converted into a sailing ship.

    Inside, the king runs out, only to have Swog and Chrm pounce on him. He blasts them with his scepter, which blasts 6d6 lightning once a day. Down to 1 HP, Swog knocks the king out. And swipes his scepter.

    Chrm revives the king for questioning. Swog wants to kill the king, but O.L. Phil will not let him, and Swog reluctantly agrees to spare him. "Okay, I'll tell you everything," the king says, exhausted.

    Outside, Llathasa notices a water elemental on board, with a water mephit casting some kind of ritual involving it.

    "I sold your ship to some fish people."

    "What!?"

    "I'm sorry, it's just - no one can leave here. I have to protect my people from the outside world."

    "Ok, that's it, I'm killing him anyway," says Swog. He lifts his dagger.

    Llathasa watches as the mephit hops off the ship and the locathah start to sail it away.
    Last edited by Gnome Alone; 2014-06-05 at 12:14 AM.
    Avatar by the one and only Ceika.
    "I'll be whatever I wanna do." - Philip J. Fry
    my fake wizard|my fake one-shot|my fake link

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    So here's the true enchilada. The thing that made me decide to share this with all y'all after all. This last part happened just the day before I posted the first installment, so hopefully I'll be able to be a wee bit more specific-ish.

    At the tail end of the last session I started trying to figure out how to calculate how much XP to give the players. Then I thought that it'd be fun to just have them level up whenever it makes sense in the story, like I've heard about some folk doing. (Similarly, for ability score generation I finally got to see that awesome method of rolling three scores, and then subtracting them from 27 & 25 & 23 to form the other three, put into play.)

    So I said, and I quote, "Y'know what, just level up to 7."

    But...

    Session 3 of 3

    Not long before we began the final session I realized that the problem with levelling up then and there was that it wouldn't really make sense - they were about to go chase down a boat, for crying out loud. But I could see levelling up on the spot; sometimes you just get a flash of inspiration, right? The real issue was even if we did it that way, it made precious little sense for the druids to have their spells refreshed all of a sudden. What they would need was enough time to prepare. And then I knew what to do; the solution to this and through it a whole new twist on the adventure came to me all at once. I levelled up on the spot.

    "So when we last left our heroes..." I began.

    "I was about to kill the king!" said Swog. "I kill the king."

    "Yes. So the halfling king, Eldon, lies beaten among the bodies of his guards. Exhausted, he confesses to you that he has sold your ship to some neighboring fish people. In a spasm of anger and contempt, Swog plunges his blade into the king, killing him instantly.

    "There is a sound as of glass shattering.

    "The villagers outside the king's fort mill around, tense and confused.

    "The floor beneath your feet turns to water."

    "Oh [excrement]," says Old Lonesome Phil.

    "Water so dark you realize it is in fact black as it rises in a wave to the ceiling and then crashes back to the floor, dragging you all down below.

    "Llathasa, outside, a black tidal wave comes for you out of nowhere and sucks you and Toes down as well."

    Llathasa nods, sagely accepting this railroady bit. I had a decent reason though, I think.

    "You are pulled very rapidly into a large, dimly lit underwater cavern. You splash through the ceiling and to the smooth, polished green floor.

    "You are surrounded on all sides by sheer walls of murky water. At the center of the back wall of the chamber a very large but normally proportioned man sits on a throne.

    "His hair and beard are made of seaweed. His loincloth appears to be made of coral. His eyes are fierce. His skin looks slightly soggy.

    "In the corners mermaids stand at attention with tridents."

    I wrote all that out on paper before the game, which is why I could recount it here. We now return to our regularly scheduled subliterate half-recollections.

    "Well met, warriors," booms the sea king guy.

    "Hi," they say.

    "I have been watching you. Long has it been since I have seen warriors so fierce and brave, especially you," he continues, gesturing to Swog, "who slew that accursed king."

    "I like this guy," says the player of Swog. Or, I dunno, maybe Swog himself was supposed to have said that. Woulda been a bit gauche, though. Anyway, I suppose I'll tell you forumkin now that this guy's "name" was The Sunken Lord, and he is one of the gods - the Nameless Gods - who I made up about 20 minutes before the session.

    "Long ago, that king had contracted a foolish mage to seal off the king's island from my domain. In exchange, this accursed mage was free to enslave water elementals that travelled close enough to the island.

    "The latest time he has done this has been on your own vessel." The Sunken Lord waves his hand and the water-wall behind the PCs swirls and becomes like a TV screen, displaying what Llathasa has seen already, a water mephit sorcerer magically binding a water elemental to the ship for the rag-tag locathah crew.

    "I am pleased with you, but I have one final test of valor for you. And then I will grant you a boon."

    The PCs nod.

    "First, you may rest in my hall; stay the night. Heal your wounds and prepare yourselves for battle. Take anything you feel you may need. Time passes more slowly on your plane than mine, so the locathah will not escape.

    "Here is what I want. Return to your world. Board the ship. Free the emental. Slay every locathah aboard, to the last. And capture that foolish mage. Do this, and I will grant you any wish that is within my power."

    "Could we kill him, if we have to?" Swog asks. "The mage?"

    "No. You see, like my elemental nephews and nieces, if he is slain he will simply cease to be. This would not be a sufficient punishment for him."

    The PCs acquiesce to the stenatorian lunatic sea god, and are led away by mermaids through the watery halls to individual chambers. At some point I mention to the players that they are clearly underwater, although they can breathe and walk around normally.

    "So, like Spongbob underwater?" asks the player of O.L. Phil. "Yeah, exactly like Spongebob," I say. "With stuff always falling down and catching on fire? Yeah."

    Anyway, the players of Phil and Swog are always, always kind of jocularly trying to screw each other over. Or at least, always verbally fighting about stuff. It is not especially disruptive usually, so I thought I'd exacerbate some tension. In their underwater hotel rooms, Phil was chewing Swog out for killing a defenseless hobbit king, so I have one of the mermaids come up, put her arms around Swog to fawn over him and ask if he wants Phil removed from his room. "Uh... yeah!" he says.

    "Hey, what gives?" says Phil as mermaids haul him out.

    "The mightier warrior wishes you gone from his presence,"
    one of them says curtly.

    "Hey, I'm a mighty warrior."

    "Pffft, you slew not the enemy of the Sunken Lord."

    The next morning (in the game that is--in real life-y times this happened at about 10pm) I ask them if they've done anything interesting last night. No one says anything, so I say, "We'll leave the question of Swog and the mermaid figuring out a workaround to the whole mermaid 'lady part only on top' thing to the imagination." "Oh, we found a way," says Swog. I laugh and say, "Yeah, Swog and the mermaid invented--" then I immediately think better of saying anything else and say, "Wait, no, we'll just leave it to the imagination."

    Reassembled in the throne room/viewing chamber, the Sunken Lord (who I almost got the players to stop calling Poseidon) shows them the ship again, it having made it about halfway to another island nearby. He clicks on the invisibility detector to show that the mephit sorcerer is hiding in the hold, despite having supposedly left, in order to amuse himself at what's about to happen. (Why, no, I didn't steal the idea of clicking on an invisibility detector while scrying from any popular fantasy webcomics, perish the thought, heh heh heh.)

    The big scary sea god asks if they will need anything. Llathasa asks for some healing potions. One of the mermaids hands her a sack. I say, "Okay, she hands you a burlap sack with about 10 potions in it. They are..." I was about to describe the color and texture of the potions; for this one-two-three shot I'd been letting them guess as to the nature of all their magi-loot, but then I thought: "eh, let's say they're all clearly labeled with what they are." "I like these guys," says Swog. "Know what they're doing." Yeah, I thought it'd be nice to have some NPCs that know what they're doing.

    "Very well," says the Sunken Lord. He also gives them a two-use orb that will take them all first to the Prime Material Plane and then back to his domain. Command word: flush. "Return to me when the locathah are dead and the elemental is free and with the mephit mage, or do not return at all." And with that, they Plane Shift to about 150 feet behind the ship and they all fall in the water.

    There follows a few minutes of explaining the rules for swimming and drowning.

    Somewhere in there I drop a few gentle hints about the stuff clinking together in that burlap sack.

    Llathasa makes everyone's lives easier by digging out some clearly labelled potions of waterbreathing and a "small token with the sigil of a swan on it" from the sack that is now on the camel's packs.

    Freshly non-drowned, they sail their shiny new swan boat straight at the ship. I had expected an attempt at stealthy infiltration, but instead:

    "Hey! Let us aboard!"

    "Huh?" says a fish person. Some others rush over. The swan boat pulls alongside.

    "What do you want?" asks the Captain.

    "We wanna come aboard! What is this, like a cruise ship?" asks Swog.

    "Yeah! How'd you know?!" says the Captain, brightly. "You can be our first passengers! Sail your weird bird boat there into town and meet us there."

    Swog uses some Diplomacy to make them just let the PCs aboard right now, dammit. He actually just says, "I use Diplomacy" and rolls, but I ask, "Ok, what do you say?" because I wanna hear it, y'know? He makes something up, and of course I've forgotten whatever it was he said by now. ::

    The fish persons haul the party out of their boat. Something occurs to me.

    "How are gonna get your camel up there?" I ask Llathasa.

    "I demand they haul her up with ropes."

    "Okay, there follows ten minutes of camel-hauling that just makes everyone angry. You are all aboard the boat."

    The PCs fraternize with the fish-folk, making small talk and explaining why they'd prefer private chamberpots and such instead of just defecating off the side of the boat. The fish dudes look at them quizzically as the converted airship docks at a bustling ramshackle waterfront town and locathah barkers disembark to start selling the more idle and/or drunk villagers on the prospect of a cheap, quick tour of nearby locathah habitats, and soon about 20 brave/bored/foolhardy/etc. people, mostly young men, take them up on it and board the ship. A huge air bubble comes into being around the ship and it submerges completely and begins sinking down in the ocean. (Why yes, it's a water elemental-powered submarine now, thanks for asking.) The captain disappears beneath, into the hold. Swog motions the others over to him and they begin plotting.

    "Okay, I think I figured it out," says Swog. "We go find the elemental, free it, find the mephit and capture him, then burn the ship down."

    "So we're just gonna burn all these people to death?" asks Old Lonesome Phil.

    "Yeah, who cares?" says Swog, as Phil shakes his head.

    They go below decks, and see the captain conversing with or ordering about the big water elemental in the hold. I decide that the hold has a balcony and that the ship's cabins are on the balcony level; everyone nods to this, which was cool, as I usually think I'm terrible at conveying descriptions of locations properly.

    Swog sneaks up behind the captain and prepares to stab him.

    "...okay, pop the bubble," says the captain to the water elemental.

    "WHAT!? Okay, I put my dagger to his throat and say, 'Don't pop the bubble!'"

    The locathah captain freaks out and orders the element not to pop it. Swog thinks about it for a few seconds, then slits the captain's throat.

    "Okay, fish person blood sprays from the captain's jugular and he slumps dead at your feat."

    "Is the elemental free now?"

    "Nope, you all see it standing still, full of tension and not quite seeming fully present."

    I ask them to roll initiative, and then a spot check - and only Chrm succeeds, so only he notices the mephit, hiding behind some barrels, cast Mage Armor. He instantly says "I cast Faerie Fire!... oh, but I'm not first in the initiative order." I figure being the only one to see what's going on is worth a surprise round, or maybe a "combat hasn't actually started so let's go with what makes actual sense" ...uh, round, so the mephit, upon turning visible, is glooped up with Faerie Fire. I'm real proud of Chrm at this point, because I totally was just gonna have the mephit go invisible again. And, just in case anyone's wondering (and just in case anyone's actually read this far) he didn't have Mage Armor up already because he wasn't expecting to fight... or do anything besides watch gullible humans get drowned and harvested for nefarious fish-person purposes. I like having competent NPCs, and I also like having NPCs who make stupid decisions. Life is messy.

    The mephit shrieks "What do you people want?" and is subsequently told exactly what they want, so he freak out and summons howlers as the party rushes forward. I show everyone the picture of howlers in the Monster Manual; they are found to be fairly disturbing. Llathasa summons lions. Swog and Old Lonesome Phil stand their ground and chip away at a howler apiece. Chrm casts heals while his pet velociraptor goes full blender mode. Llathasa wildshapes into a Desmodu hunting bat and flies to the ceiling and assumes "battlefield manager" mode - buffs and heals and... being irritated to find out that Call Lightning does not work underwater. The mephit gets off an "iceball" (sprung for Energy Substitution for the water mephit's fireballs, because come on) on Chrm and the druids' animal companions before the damn camel just grapples the mephit. Oh, grappling - bane of my existence.

    I double-check the entry on water mephits and see that they can do a stinking cloud-esque SLA. So he does, and everyone complains about the "muppet fart" but even nauseating half the party every couple of rounds is not enough to stop the howlers from being slaughtered eventually and the camel continuing to hold the muppet to the ground. Yeah, I couldn't get them to stop calling the mephit a muppet. Now that I think about it, it would be hilarious is mephits were like that. All weird Uncanny Valley felt versions of their elements.

    They need to subdue the mephit sorcerer, not just slaughter him, so mighty janitor Old Lonesome Phil non-lethally coup de grace's him with his mop for a few rounds - the ol' "beat 'em unconscious with a big stick" routine. They tie the mephit to the camel and then decide what to do next. They decide to free the elemental first.

    I realize I have no idea if any of them have any way of dispelling my made-up elemental binding jazz, so I wing it. Witness my incredibly non-sloppy DMing (cough cough):

    "Do any of you have anything that can dispel a binding?"

    A round of negatory head-shaking and "no"-es.

    "Okay... Alright, it turns out the burlap sack also doubles as a scroll of Dispel Magic."

    The player of Llathasa is probably the most experienced/system mastery-ish person besides me (which does not mean a lot, but whaddya gonna do) and so says, "I don't have any ranks in Use Magic Device though."

    "...It's a divine scroll."

    "Oh, yeah?" he says, happily.

    "Yeah, the mermaids were all, 'Whence cometh thy power?' and presumably you were all like, 'from nature itself' and they were like, "okay, druid. Divine scroll, check. They know what they're doing."

    In other words, I always forget something. Luckily, no one cared. Huzzah.

    Llathasa unravels the scroll and dispels the binding. The water elemental immediately runs to the wall, pounds the hull open and runs away, which starts letting water in, since it immediately popped the air bubble upon being released.

    So now they are submerged underwater in a rapidly sinking ship, with 20ish innocent idiots and 20ish locathah they're supposed to kill.

    At this point is is now 12am and I have to get up at 4am again, so, wanting to wrap this the hell up I ask them simply if they intend to try to save the passengers, kill the fish-people, or some half-assed combination of both. I do not actually phrase it that way, although I wouldn't put it past me to do so either, so I forgive your suspicion that that's exactly what I said.

    No one tries to save the passengers. At all. Not even Old Lonesome Phil. I suspect this has less to do with "moral dilemma" and more to do with "12am," but anyhoo...

    I sit back in my chair and say, "Well, I'll tell you right now, guys... they're all just single hit die locathah straight out of the book, no class levels or anything. So we'll just say you have relatively little trouble killing them. They swim away as best they can, but you manage to track down the ones you don't slaughter right away. The passengers are drowning around you, but it gets harder to see inside the ship as it quickly gets cloudy with fish-person blood in a soggy, messy orgy of death. You are surrrounded by corpses. You are successful."

    Looking slightly appalled, our brave heroes once more join hands, touch the magic orb and say "Flush."

    They Plane Shift back to the Sunken Lord's Hall. He greets them.

    "Well done, warriors," he says, and holds out his hand. "Give me the mage."

    Llathasa unties him from the camel's pack and forks him over. The Sunken Lord gloats at his unconscious body, says, "Ah, Squirt. Long have I waited for this. I will see you later." He crams him into the Bag of Holding that is his belt pouch and turns his attention back to the PCs.

    "You have done all I asked. Name your boon and I will grant it if I can. You need not decide now. Rest, and be welcome in my hall."

    "Wait, so... what can you do?" asks Phil.

    The Sunken Lord is enraged. "What do you wish?!"

    "Well, I just wanna know, what's actually 'within your power'...?"

    "I will not make you a library of my skills! Name your heart's desire, mortal!!"

    "Yeesh, okay, sorry."

    Eventually, as they are all recuperating over the next few days, one by one they approach the Sunken Lord and ask for their favors.

    Llathasa requests a way to preserve spices indefinitely. I say, "Okay, sure. The mages among the mermaids research you a spell that duplicates modern refrigeration.It's, uh, I don't know, a 3rd-level spell you can cast once a day as a Spell-Like Ability." I intend to think of something clever to call it, like "Llathasa's Mystic Refrigerator" or something less stupid, but can't think of anything at the moment, so I just leave it at that.

    Old Lonesome Phil requests the airship he was a janitor on to be back. The Sunken Lord asks him pointedly how he plans to power it. Phil is unsure, so the god says he might be able to get an elemental niece to power it if it remains in its submarine form and if she doesn't get bored. Sort of a good-will project between a human and an elemental to see if the former can get by as partners instead of slave-drivers with the latter. Phil accepts.

    Swogs asks for hobgoblins to be the uncontested rulers of the Prime Material Plane. This is kind of ridiculous, but it's also the sort of audacious "think big" stuff I've come to love from Swog, plus this is a messed-up under-the-sea warrior god we're talking about, of course that appeals to him. "Hmm... raise a fleet of your people, and lure your enemies to the sea, and I will help you sink all who dare oppose you." Swog gets a divine patron, the Sunken Lord gets a crazed hobgoblin general, and I get an awesome future campaign hook about Roman Empire-esque hobgoblins taking over the world with the backing of the sea god. Everyone wins! Bwa ha ha.

    Chrm asks for his velociraptor to be made amphibious. The Sunken Lord agrees instantly, touched by the druid's selfless devotion to his friend. He offers to throw in the transformation for Chrm too. "Uh, sure." Old Lonesome Phil wants to get it on it too. Technically it'd be an additional favor, but I figure the Sunken Lord would be all about this kinda stuff, so Phil is made amphibious. He also asks for webbed feet. "Sure, why not?" Phil is now an old man janitor submarine captain with gills and webbed feet. Everyone is content.

    The End.
    Last edited by Gnome Alone; 2014-06-15 at 03:20 PM.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Fiery Diamond's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    That was awesome. You have to DM that hobgoblin campaign now and post about it.
    I'm currently writing a story, titled "Zenith: Another World Saga."

    It's a fantasy/adventure story. Here's the summary:

    When I opened my eyes, I was in a fantasy world. I quickly discovered that it functioned off of game-like rules (levels, EXP, skills, and so on). Taking the name Zenith, I decided to make the best of my new world and live as an adventurer aiming for the top together with my new best friend Rozenskye. And I might be functionally immortal? An Isekai-style story.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    You got your point! and i want intruduce a nice game




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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Fake One-Shot Report: Sky Pirates, Pet Dragons, and the Sea King's Revenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    That was awesome. You have to DM that hobgoblin campaign now and post about it.
    Thanks! I intend to, someday. It might end up being an online campaign anyway, because the players of Swog and Phil have moved to the fine, fair city of Portland, Oregon for a while and we are from Central California.

    But I am currently trying to flesh out that next campaign, giving use-names to all the "Nameless Gods" and fleshing out their domains and backstories and stuff. I have decided at least three things: the aforementioned hobgoblin naval conquest thing, the halfling island will be overrun with zombies, and if the players want to play their same PCs five years down the line or whatever, Squirt the mephit sorcerer will have somehow escaped from sea-god torture and will be half-crazy and revenge obsessed. DMing is fun.
    Avatar by the one and only Ceika.
    "I'll be whatever I wanna do." - Philip J. Fry
    my fake wizard|my fake one-shot|my fake link

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