A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Ah, okay. Sorry, I have very little experience with fighting games, so those references flew right over my head.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Ah, okay. Sorry, I have very little experience with fighting games, so those references flew right over my head.
    No worries, every group has their in-jokes lol. Also, there's no journal update this week. We had a pretty short session, since Eirik couldn't make it and Mubarak had to duck out early. I'll roll what we did into the next update.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Looking forward to it.

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    The Dark of the War
    In which the Heroes discover the third faction of the Blood War scheming in the unlikeliest of places.
    Spoiler: Sessions Nine/Ten
    Show
    The party decided to kill some time in Sigil and wrap up a few loose ends before heading off to the Eternal Boundary. First, the group headed to the Great Gymnasium, the headquarters of the Transcendent Order, to finally tell Faithful Servant Li that they had "failed" in the search for Golden Morning Radiance. Of course, the PCs just didn't want him dragging Hikari back to the Palace of the Dead against her will. It took a bit of convincing, but Li agreed to give up the search and headed back to the Palace empty-handed. While there, the party caught up with Meletros and chatted for a bit. They learned that the Transcendent Order was organizing a tournament as a way to drum up interest in their faction. Most of the party signed up, but Cassius was going to decline ... until he heard Ash Mercury calling him out. Ash posed dramatically and mocked the "inferior" martial artist, claiming he had improved his skills since last they met. He signed up for the tournament and dared Cass to do the same. Cassius accepted the challenge, and thus the whole party had signed up for the Battle Arena Transcendent.

    With that done, the party went with Cassius to go visit his adopted mother, and had tea and cookies. She explained that she had a runaway from the Xaositects hiding out in her house who wanted to train at the githzerai monasteries to help rebalance her mind, and asked Cass and his friends to escort her there when they had the time. They agreed to do it after their trip to the Eternal Boundary. After the pleasant cookie break, Kharim asked the party to help him with his quest to acquire the feather of a trumpet archon. The party agreed, and so it was off to Mount Celestia.

    Before heading off, the group snagged Soraya and Toda and brought them along. Nobody told Sharwyn what was going on or where they were going, and thus she was left behind.

    The group stepped through the portal and ended up knee-deep in the holy ocean around Lunia, the first layer of Mount Celestia. They wandered about for a bit, taking in the quiet serenity of the place, until the encountered a lantern archon who politely requested them to meet with his mistress. The group agreed, and so followed the lantern archon through the woods to a beautiful stone arch overlooking the sea. There, the party met a female sword archon named Alziel, who asked for their help. She told them that some sort of disquieting shadow had fallen over one of the villages in Lunia, and the petitioners living there had become increasingly paranoid. Her two sisters, Brigid and Segra, had gone to investigate, but they had not returned. Alziel feared to investigate on her own, lest the shadow claim her as well, leaving Lunia defenseless in its lord's absence. The party agreed, and so they set off for the village.

    Once there, the party discovered groups of hooded petitioners patrolling the streets with man-catcher poles in search of whatever was plaguing them. The party spoke with the captain of the guard, and learned that the shadow was not only inciting paranoia throughout the village, but also prevented any sort of creativity or innovation. Curious, the PCs tried to whistle a few songs to test if they were affected by the shadow as well. While they had not grown paranoid yet (they hadn't been there long enough), the group discovered that nobody in the group could even carry the simplest tune. This was especially troubling for Mubarak, being a bard and all that. The party also learned that there was a back entrance into the village via a door to the Infinite Staircase. It didn't take long for the party to suspect that whatever was causing this had snuck into town through the Staircase, though how it could have bypassed the lillendi guarding it was still a mystery. Doing a bit of research, and talking with the only survivor from a group of failed monster hunters, the party came to the conclusion that the shadow must be the handiwork of the yugoloths, since those sociopaths will do just about anything if the price is right. The party learned it was most likely caused by an empatholoth (a refluffed jovoc with better mental stats and jacked up to large size), and learned that the best way to take it down was to slap it with Cure Wounds, since it was harmed by the spell and reflected all other types of damage. They armed themselves with as many potions as they could, and borrowed some cold iron axes in to finish the job in case they ran out. Tulany and Daegan tracked the yugoloth to the chapel, and the party busted in, ready for battle!

    The yugoloth and its minions (lizardfolk tieflings with scorpion tails) had captured Brigid and Segra and bound them with infernal chains. The reptilians were carefully collecting the angels' blood in iron bowls while the empatholoth directed their work. However, the party was caught off-guard by the presence of a baernaloth (a proto-yugoloth and one of the lords of the fiends). The party sprung into action! Notable events of the fight include Cassius kicking a bowl of angel blood into the face of one of the reptilians to scald it with its holy water property, Kharim's mostly successful attempts to corral the empatholoth, and the empatholoth's unfortunate success in summoning a second empatholoth. Because I'm not interested in butchery, the baernaloth's only turn in the combat was to snag the unspoiled bowl of blood and Plane Shift out. The party hacked apart the reptilians, and did their best to protect Soraya and Tulany while they cured the empatholoths to death. The fight ended when the last empatholoth decided to claw himself to death in an effort to take down the PCs. Thankfully, it didn't work, and the PCs were victorious. Overall, it was a pretty well executed fight

    The party met with Barachiel, the trumpet archon lord of Lunia, who thanked them for their service in his absence. He explained that he had been called away to deal with a sudden incursion of flying demons over the holy sea. The party explained that it was the yugoloths who had caused the problem, and Barachiel admitted he suspected their involvement, saying that the sudden tanar'ri attack was too well coordinated to have been their own idea. Kharim requested a feather, explaining that he had been sent on a quest, and Barachiel was happy to oblige. The trumpet archon lord plucked a feather from his wing and handed it over... to Soraya. The PCs could feel Kharim's heart silently break. The archon then mounted his giant celestial octopus and was gone. Once he was out of sight, Soraya immediately gave the feather to her big brother. Mubarak recorded the whole thing with his sensation stone, deciding to make the best Fail Compilation in the entire Sensate library. Cassius doubled back to the cathedral to check on the sword archons, and found them being tended to by a tearfully joyful Alziel. She gave him her magic cloak as a reward for saving the lives of her sisters, and promised to aid them in the future should they need it.

    With their quest complete, the party headed back Sigil to rest up and prepare for their adventure to the Eternal Boundary. Kharim and Daegan took the feather back to Harmonium headquarters, and met with Factol Sarin. He rewarded them with a bit of gold, gave Kharim the official uniform and badge of the faction, and called in two dwarven artificers and a confused looking Medea. The artificers carried with them a fabulous silver sword, and at Sarin's instruction they fused the angel feather into the blade. Sarin explained that the feather was the last ingredient needed to craft a Holy Avenger. Once the process was complete, he bestowed the mighty weapon to Medea, who grew even more confused than before. He took her, Kharim, and Daegan to a Harmonium rally, and announced to the cheering crowd that Kharim had officially joined the faction, and that his comrades were allies of the Harmonium and were to be treated as such. He also announced that Medea was to be sent to the front lines of the Blood War, specifically to Avernus to help cull the demons threatening to overrun the first layer of Baator. The party didn't like that idea too much, since they had a soft spot for the cop who had decided to not arrest them on multiple occasions. Once the rally was over and Medea was contemplating her fate in the barracks, Kharim, Daegan, and Tulany asked Sarin what the heck was going on.

    Factol Sarin explained that he wasn't sending her to Avernus alone, nor to a strategically important location. He told them about a gate-town called Fortitude, which was almost ready to ascend to Arcadia. However, he knew the town would need a strong figurehead to make the final push into apotheosis. His plan was to have Medea, a paladin born among the working class, to cut her teeth on the fringes of the Blood War and make a name for herself as a "Fiend Slayer". He would then appoint her to lead Fortitude into ascension, certain that the locals would rally behind her. He would send a squad of volunteers with her for protection, and was certain that the Order of the Chalice would send more experienced knights to protect her. Sarin admitted to the group that his predecessor, the previous Factol of the Harmonium, had cost Arcadia a lot of territory, and he felt it was his duty to help undo the mistakes of the past. He knew that a single town was a pittance in comparison to what Arcadia had lost, but he felt it was a step in the right direction. The party's fears were assuaged, and so they went to celebrate their latest adventures and to take Medea out for dinner before she departed for the Blood War.

    TL;DR - Side quests are finished!

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Sometimes a promotion isn't what it's cracked up to be. Hopefully Medea does well, though.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Sometimes a promotion isn't what it's cracked up to be. Hopefully Medea does well, though.
    She'll be okay... for now. I'm doing a bit of foreshadowing for an adventure I plan to modify and run in the future. It's called Fires of Dis, if you're curious.

    The Eternal Boundary
    In which the Dark of things becomes clear to the Heroes following their travel to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
    Spoiler: Session Eleven
    Show
    The session started out with Kharim and Medea getting accosted by a pair of wererats and Tiny the werebear, who dragged the two of them down into the sewers. There they were met by The Us, one of the cranium rat hive minds vying for control of Sigil's underbelly. The Us explained that Kharim had offended them by harming one of its rats when he was testing out his dragonmark cantrip. The hivemind said the only reason he wasn't dead was because Tulany gave them some bread, and sparing Kharim's life constituted paying back the favor. However, this meant that Kharim now owed the hivemind a favor, or else Tiny was going to start breaking kneecaps. The Us also knew about Soraya, and said it would be very unfortunate if something were to happen to her. Kharim got the hint. He agreed to help the hivemind as long as it left his little sister alone. The Us instructed him to go to the gate-town of Excelsior, and to meet with Vaimish Crasad for further instructions. Kharim agreed, and The Us had Tiny escort the two knights out of the sewers, saying that it wanted to conduct no further business on the day of its daughter's wedding.

    Kharim walked Medea back to the barracks, then hustled to meet with the rest of the group at the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts. Everything was right with the world again.

    Daegan and Eirik did a bit of last minute research about the Plane of Fire, while Aurelius did some artificer tinkering with Daegan's armor. After the group was rested and ready to go, it was off to the Mortuary to finally explore the Eternal Boundary and put a stop to the Illuminated plot! The group used their stash of Potions of Invisibility to sneak through the Mortuary, since they were still on bad terms with the Dustmen after their last trip there ended in multiple dead faction members. They made it most of the way to the portal before a pair of Dustmen heard the heavy armor lads. Aurelius broke his invisibility to distract them with some grade A flimflam while the rest of the party hustled through the portal. As soon as they were through, he used Misty Step to slip past the Dustmen and jump through the portal.

    The party found itself on a skull-shaped citadel floating in the raging fires. They were almost immediately attacked by a group of dwarves and hobgoblins, mercenaries hired by the Illuminated to protect the portal to their secret lair. It was a pretty quick fight, as the mercenaries were no match for the party. The party took an enemy priest captive and dragged him through the citadel to get directions. Eventually, they found their way to a white marble chapel which contained a brilliant green gem radiating waves of cool fresh air. It didn't take long for the party to realize the jewel was the source of the safe atmosphere in the citadel. The jewel was also guarded by an ogre-sized brass warforged, who politely introduced himself as Ben Birdland.

    Rant time!

    This is where I deviated from the prewritten module, as the original calls for a Stone Golem to be at the beck and call of the captain of the citadel. That's an absurdly powerful enemy to throw at a group of 5th level characters, so I replaced it with Mr. Birdland. He's a warforged juggernaut bumped up to large size and given a few levels of War Hulk. However, he's fighting unarmed, so his high strength modifier is only riding on a 1d4 unarmed strike, so while he can do some interesting things (like swing at three targets simultaneously), his damage output was something the party could handle without struggling too much.

    /rant.

    The party chatted with Ben for a bit, and he told them his job was to protect the jewel. He was a pleasant giant robot, so the party left their captured priest with him and headed for the captain's quarters, which were hidden behind a secret door. However, Aurelius thought that meant an illusory wall, so he confidently strode forward and smacked his face on the solid stone. Once they found the secret door, they then proceeded to trigger the trap in the hallway, but a bit of poison gas wasn't going to slow them down now! They made it through and busted into Captain Imogen's office, where she was busy questioning Toranna, who had been brought back from the dead. Captain Imogen humored the party and explained the plan to the PCs like any good Bond villain should. The Illuminated wanted to plant sleeper agents inside each of the factions to subtly steer them and influence Sigil politics. After all, the Illuminated creed did say to control what you can't rule. The party didn't like this one bit (especially Kharim, since he had just joined a faction, and didn't want sleeper agents in it), so the inevitable battle broke out. Toranna died before she even got a turn, but Imogen put up a reasonable fight (she was an Abjurer/Eldritch Knight). Ben Birdland also came rocketing down the hall for the assist, which was greatly appreciated since Imogen's mercenaries were pretty useless in every encounter they had been in. The party eventually battered through Imogen's magical defenses, and kept Ben busy long enough to mop up the rest of the baddies. Once he was the last one standing, Ben surrendered without much fuss, and the party seemed keen on trying to adopt him into the group. Players are strange like that

    The party looted the room, triggered a poison dart trap on a chest that nearly dropped Aurelius, and rescued a group of people that were halfway through Imogen's "reprogramming" process. However, the group noticed a sudden increase in temperature, and raced back to the jewel room just in time to see the priest they had taken captive swan dive off the ledge and into the fire while holding the air jewel and screaming "Illumination!". With the jewel gone, the air bubble around the citadel began to collapse. The party raced for the portal back to Sigil, but their escape was halted by a mysterious figure clad in a hooded green cloak. Kharim attempted to use Charging Minotaur to get past the guy, but the hooded figure intercepted his charge with a headbutt and nearly knocked him prone. Though he didn't reveal his face, the cloaked figure claimed to be Green Marvent, and said he still had some use for the party. He then used Plane Shift to escape before the party could try attacking again. They didn't have time to ponder about their new enemy, as the citadel began to collapse around them. They hustled through the portal, and scared the daylights out of the two Dustmen just trying to do their jobs. They were escorted out of the mortuary by Boris the zombie minotaur, and Kharim (trying to ice his forehead) wondered if the zombie was the only minotaur encountered that day.

    The group took the rescued barmies to the Bleak Cabal for proper treatment, and left Daegan there for Daria to tend to him, since he had gotten pretty banged up in the fight with Imogen. Daria doesn't know anything about curative magic, but she bandaged his wounds, made him some chicken noodle soup, and put him to bed. The rest of the group headed back to the BSIL. On the way there, they bumped into a red-skinned goblin who wore a lot of knickknacks and piecemeal armor. He introduced himself as Zada, and he just wanted to wish Tulany luck in the upcoming tournament. He explained that the tournament bracket was posted at the Great Gymnasium, and that Tulany was his first opponent. He looked forward to the fight, and said that win or lose she should come to the potluck dinner that the Free League was hosting after the first round. She tentatively agreed, and the friendly goblin sauntered off. Once the group returned to the Brothel, Soraya and Sharwyn were relieved to see them safely back. The party spoke with Bendon Maul, who was rather cranky about them taking so long, but he wasn't going to back out of the deal with them. He made them promise to accompany him to the Isle of Black Trees first thing in the morning, to which the party was more than happy to oblige. After Bendon and his bodyguard left, the party settled in to relax and enjoy themselves for the rest of the evening.

    TL;DR - After much difficulty and side-questing, we've finished the first published adventure of the campaign! Next, we'll be heading to the Isle of Black Trees, which I'll have to write myself since there was never any official follow-up to The Eternal Boundary.
    Last edited by SleepyShadow; 2021-04-03 at 04:17 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Well done. Hopefully the party does well at the Isle of Black Trees.

    In the original, the stone golem is just a mindless automaton, but the warforged you replaced it with is sapient, right? Doesn't that mean it was a member of the Illumination? I'm surprised the party was so quick to trust it, considering.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Well done. Hopefully the party does well at the Isle of Black Trees.

    In the original, the stone golem is just a mindless automaton, but the warforged you replaced it with is sapient, right? Doesn't that mean it was a member of the Illumination? I'm surprised the party was so quick to trust it, considering.
    The group has a habit of becoming attached to anyone with a smooth baritone voice. I don't get it either

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Well, on the bright side, if you ever have a plotline later that requires the party to trust a bad guy who is going to betray them, now you know how to pull it off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Well, on the bright side, if you ever have a plotline later that requires the party to trust a bad guy who is going to betray them, now you know how to pull it off.
    They also have a weird trend of distrusting any female NPC with a sweet or caring personality, referring to her as a "puff" and living in constant fear of her "inevitable betrayal". My group can be a little strange sometimes lol

    The Isle of Black Trees
    In which the Heroes investigate a pocket plane and discover a maddening treasure trove.
    Spoiler: Session Twelve
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    The party took it easy the morning after their big day at the Eternal Boundary. Late out of bed, an extra cup of coffee, brown sugar in the oatmeal, all the good stuff. Once the party was awake and assembled (not necessarily in that order, and Daegan had to be fetched from the Bleak Cabal headquarters), the group met up with Bendon Maul, his bodyguard (the party finally learned her name is Zedoris), and Eliath the former Red Wizard. Kai also rejoined the party for this adventure, so things were looking good! After a bit of discussion, Kharim suggested that Sharwyn stay behind and scout out the competition of the upcoming tournament. His idea went over like a plumbum blimp; Sharwyn was tired of getting left behind, and Eirik wasn't about to miss the chance to adventure with the lady of his affection. Kharim decided to hire Kylie the Tout to spy on the competition instead, offering her half of his winnings. She agreed to it, but only after she got his promise in writing. She's crafty enough not to get peeled by a Hardhead

    With that taken care of, the expedition team headed off to the fabled Isle of Black Trees!

    After stepping through the portal at the Abandoned Church, the group found itself ankle deep in swamp water, surrounded on all sides by spiraling black trees that reached up toward a concrete gray sky. The group soon encountered a reptilian fey creature who bore a lantern. It gave them cryptic directions toward the library before it blew out its lantern and disappeared. Daegan, Tulany, and Eirik managed to keep the party from getting lost in the swamp, which was no easy task. The group discovered that the trees were copies of themselves; every set of five trees was identical from the last. The party encountered a many-armed witch who offered them apples, but the group politely declined, even after her cryptic warning of "try not to starve". They also found a trail of glowing stones, which they didn't follow, and a gingerbread house, which they didn't eat.

    Eventually, the group arrived at the Black Library. I described the place as such:

    "The Library, not sane, stands by itself against the black trees, holding darkness within. It had stood so for eight hundred years, and might stand so for eight hundred more. Within, walls continue upright, bricks meet neatly, floors are firm, and the front doors are sensibly shut. The silence holds steady against the wood and stone of this place, and whatever walks there, walks alone. The building has an unbelievably faulty design which leaves it chillingly wrong in all dimensions. The walls seem always in one direction a fraction longer than the eye can endure, and in another direction a fraction less than the barest possible tolerable length."

    My group appreciates some non-Euclidian geometry

    Inside, the place was a seemingly infinite series of interconnected hexagons, all of which were lined with bookshelves along the walls. Bendon and Eliath immediately began to scour the tomes, and found that most of them were complete gibberish, but each one was distinctly unique. The group soon discovered the entire building was warded with a two-way barrier to keep fey out, while also trapping any fey inside. Bendon and Eliath, along with Zedoris, opted to stay near the entrance and look through the books while the more adventuresome members of the group explored deeper into the library. As the party went, they stumbled across a few skeletal bodies. A couple of long-dead elves in the black and white robes of priests of Boccob, and the broken remains of goblin-like creatures Daegan identified as redcaps. Tulany used her primeval awareness to check for living people within a five-mile radius, and she detected a lone individual three miles up. So the group decided to start hiking into the impossible space.

    As they started trekking up the stairs, they came across countless battle scenes, the long left behind remains of skirmishes between the elves and the redcaps. As the party kept going up, they noticed a slow trend of change for both sides of this ancient conflict. The elves had adopted more combat oriented garb, trimming the design of their holy raiment and incorporating light armor into the design, while eventually losing all Boccob symbology. The redcaps, on the other hand, slowly became more ferocious and feral as the party ascended, growing claws and fangs, and eventually completely discarding the use of weapons and armor. Every mile, I asked for an easy Constitution save against exhaustion, but I should've remembered that if you set a low DC, it's inevitable that a disproportionate amount of characters will fail. By the time they got to their destination, about half the group had a level of exhaustion, and poor Eirik (who's tied with Kharim for highest Con score in the group, I believe) had two levels.

    At the two mile mark, the bodies became noticeably fresher, and as they neared the third mile the sounds of feral howling could be heard. The party hustled to the source of the noise and found about a dozen redcaps trying to smash their way through a hastily built barricade of bookshelves. The party leapt to the attack! The redcaps weren't much of a threat (two of them ended up going over over the railing and down the pits), but it took a while for the party to chop through them due to the lack of cold iron weapons. The party eventually triumphed, and soon they were the ones trying to break through the barricade. They soon stopped trying to smash it down, and instead called out to whomever was on the other side, announcing "we're not redcaps!"

    The barricade was taken down from the other side, and the party was greeted by a shadar-kai woman clad in the stylized black and white garb the party had grown used to seeing. She introduced herself as Rowena Labyrinth, and she claimed to be the last surviving guardian of the Grand Archives. She took the party up ten floors to where her village was, a ramshackle collection of lean-tos fashioned from empty bookshelves. The village was occupied by other shadar-kai unfit for combat; those crippled, too elderly, or too young to fight. The village was dominated by a massive pile of books that Rowena referred to as "The Tomb of the Guardian". When asked what that meant, she told the party a story about how The Creator had given his people a guardian made of clay to protect them from the monsters that came from below. Once the librarians were able to fend for themselves, The Creator had put the guardian to sleep, and the priesthood had buried it. Rowena said that was all many hundreds of years ago, and she had no idea if it was even true, but if it was, her people needed the guardian now more than ever.

    The party was introduced to Cyrus, the village elder. He was the only cleric in the village, and was also Rowena's grandfather. Kharim and Aurelius tried to convince Cyrus to do something to help, like reanimate the guardian, but they both managed to Nat 1 their Persuasion checks, and succeeded in getting the elder rather cranky with the party. Cyrus expressed his rather extreme distaste for planeswalkers (although he's never met one), and said that if the group wanted to help, the best thing they could do would be to help Rowena dispose of her dead comrades. The party followed Rowena back downstairs to the site of the most recent battle and began to arm themselves with the slain elves' cold iron weapons, all while plotting how best to help the otherwise doomed librarians.

    TL;DR - The party found a mash-up of at least three different stories
    Last edited by SleepyShadow; 2021-04-10 at 06:35 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Out of curiosity, what would have happened if the party had accepted the apples, eaten the gingerbread house or followed the glowing stones?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Out of curiosity, what would have happened if the party had accepted the apples, eaten the gingerbread house or followed the glowing stones?
    Accepted the apples: They would've taken some poison damage and been attacked by the witch and her animal allies.

    Eaten the gingerbread house: They would've been attacked by the hag and her animated oven.

    Followed the glowing stones: They would've found a petrified elven man, and the fairies that petrified him.


    So they would've had a few extra fights to wear them down a bit before arriving at the library.
    Last edited by SleepyShadow; 2021-04-12 at 12:48 PM.

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    Sounds like their paranoia paid off then. On the other hand, less XP, I suppose.

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    In hindsight, I'm a little sad we didn't end up fighting the oven

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    Daegan's player here, I decided to draw everyone's characters since I had the opportunity. Still working on Cass and Kai since my tablet broke, but once that problem gets solved I'll throw them in here. I also drew Soraya, since she's a rather important NPC at this point.

    Spoiler: Kharim
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    Spoiler: Tulaney
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    Spoiler: Daegan
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    Spoiler: Eirik
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    Spoiler: Aurelius
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    Spoiler: Mubarak
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    Spoiler: Soraya
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    Last edited by serpentalis; 2021-04-17 at 01:47 AM.
    squidhound

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    To be entirely honest, I'm the only party member paranoid of the puffs. I am often teased for this, but I won't have the "sweet innocent NPC betrayal" trope catch me off guard. Never mind that it's happened a total of Zero times in our combined campaigns...
    Last edited by Cerrita; 2021-04-17 at 01:38 AM.
    Princess Battle Flower

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Those pictures look great, serpentalis. They must have taken forever to draw.

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    I forgot to talk about the homunculus Aurelius built last week. It's a bird robot with three primary objectives:

    1) Protect Aurelius.
    2) Eliminate all enemies.
    3) Master comedic timing.

    Just thought I ought to mention that

    The Isle of Black Trees - Part Two
    In which our Heroes uncover a grim secret, and true motives are revealed.
    Spoiler: Session Thirteen
    Show
    The party still wanted to figure out a way to help Rowena and her people, so they split up to look for clues. Soraya and Toda hit the books, while Tulany spoke with Elder Cyrus in the hopes of getting him mellowed out and willing to reason with the group. She learned that Cyrus planned to take the young and healthy shadar-kai to a hidden village farther up the library and abandon the crippled villagers, leaving them to slow down the advance of the redcaps. He expressed his irritation at "Heretic Maddock", the best smith in the village and Rowena's uncle. He also expressed his continued dislike of planeswalkers and made it clear that he wanted the party gone.

    Meanwhile, Eirik, Cassius, Kai, and Sharwyn wandered around and met with the surviving villagers. They got to meet Maddock sitting by his cold forge, telling fairytales to the children gathered around him. The adventurers also decided to sit and listen for a little while, and were regaled with odd tales such as "Goldilocks the Bear Hunter", "The Tragic Romance of Red Hood and The Wolf-Man", "Snow White and Rose Red vs. the Ice Queen", and "Bigby Wolf and the Three Wereboars". After they had their fill of offbeat fairytales, the group chatted with Maddock for a bit and decided they liked the cut of his jib. Eirik gave Maddock a jar of griffon grease (random trinkets get weird sometimes) to use on his prosthetic leg.

    While all of this story time and pleasantry was going on, Kharim, Aurelius, Daegan, and Mubarak were breaking into the Tomb of the Guardian. They even managed to convince Rowena to help them (not very difficult, to be honest.). They found a clay golem inside the tomb, as well as a book called "Destiny of Souls", which had a peculiar inscription on the inside cover:

    "This book is bound in elven skin parchment on which no ornament has been stamped, to preserve its elegance. By looking carefully, you easily distinguish the pores of the skin. A book about the soul deserved to have a proper covering. I used this piece of elven skin taken from the back of a woman."

    The group was appropriately horrified

    After they examined the golem, they discovered a piece was missing from its forehead, which meant its animation spell was incomplete. Rowena told them her grandfather wore a stone pendant that might fit the hole in the golem's forehead. Mubarak immediately volunteered for a little snatch and grab. He failed to Charm the old cleric, so he resorted to just snatching the necklace right off Cyrus and making a break for it. Cyrus chased after Mubarak, and our favorite pesky bard stuffed the pendant into Daegan's backpack and flew out of reach. Unfortunately, Cyrus saw the hand-off, but Daegan decided to roll a Perception check to see if he noticed... and promptly botched the roll. Cyrus decided now would be a good time to get rid of these meddlesome planeswalkers who "turned his own granddaughter against him". He cast Combust on poor Daegan, and animated a half-dozen paper golems to attack the party!

    While the fight was ongoing, Cyrus explained that the party wasn't the first group of planeswalkers to come to the library. He had killed the previous group and used "Destiny of Souls" to use their life force as fuel for animating the paper golems. Not a very nice thing to do.

    Cyrus had a few tricks up his sleeve, but ultimately he couldn't do much about the action economy advantage the party had. His paper golems also proved less effective than I thought they would be, and their fire vulnerability certainly didn't help. The party triumphed over the golems, and even managed to capture Cyrus. He was a bitter old crow who did nothing but insult the party and call Rowena a traitor to the library.

    Aurelius managed to reanimate the clay golem, much to the wonder of Rowena and the gathered shadar-kai. The golem spoke, and knew it had to protect the elves, but remembered nothing else. Aurelius and Cassius decided to name the golem "Prometheus", although Daegan and Kharim are already advocating changing his name to "Bosh". Naming aside, the golem and Rowena dismantled a few bookcases and fashioned a crude sled for the crippled and children to ride in during the three-mile descent to the ground floor. The golem would hold the sleds, while the rest of the group forged ahead of the civilians to protect them from another redcap attack. While this was going on, Cyrus managed to spit one last curse at the party before hurling himself down the stairwell to his death.

    Just as the party was getting ready to escort the villagers to freedom, they got a message from Bendon about some trouble with Eliath. Figuring that it would be a simple matter to resolve, a handful of the group opted to dive down the stairwell and use Featherfall to catch themselves near the ground floor. Kharim, Daegan, Soraya, Mubarak, Rowena, and Kai (he's got a terrible fear of heights) took the plunge. They managed to time the Featherfall a little early so as to not accidentally end up in redcap territory.

    Down on the ground floor, Bendon and Zedoris explained that Eliath had apparently gone barmy again. He had stripped naked (except for his hat) and ran off downstairs while muttering about books and losing his sense of time. Daegan tracked Eliath as best he could, and found the red wizard's backpack just one floor down. He also found the trail doubled back upstairs. The group double-checked that neither Bendon nor Zedoris saw Eliath after he ran off, and they both confirmed they hadn't. However, Zedoris mentioned that she heard something like footsteps a little while after Eliath left, but she didn't see anything. Daegan followed the tracks out of the library, and saw Eliath standing on the other side of a line of dark-armored warriors. With him was a plated abomination wielding a scythe, and leading the group was a black-clad knight. Daegan shouted for the others just as the black knight gave the order.

    "Attack!"

    TL;DR - Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Gotta love those cliffhangers. (I mean, I love them. My players seem to really hate them for some reason. )

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    This cliffhanger is definitely a rough one, too. Talk about suspenseful.

    And I figured I'd hop in and mention this. Everyone who wants to is welcome to make a prediction for the Transcendent Order tournament. Absolutely feel free to do so lol.
    squidhound

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    Sorry about the delay on the update! Family vacations will do interesting things to your routine

    Isle of Black Trees - Part Three
    In which our Heroes battle a mysterious foe, and learn the dark about one of their own.
    Spoiler: Session Fourteen
    Show
    The battle against the black knight and the Illuminated took the entire session. I handed out NPC stat sheets to those players whose characters are still on the staircase with the librarians, so nobody got left out. Eirik got to pilot Bendon (Fathomless Warlock 8), Tulany got Zedoris (Sun Soul Monk 5), and Aurelius had to unravel Rowena's sheet (Knowledge Cleric 2/Swordsage 4). Cassius missed the session, unfortunately.

    The party split up into smaller groups to break up the larger enemy team, forcing the enemy warriors into more manageable bunches. The Illuminated warriors proved a little tougher than I expected, but the PCs handled them reasonably well. Traitor Eliath showed off his skills as a former Red Wizard of Thay, and busted out some nasty 2e necromancy spells to cause problems (Llarloch's Minor Drain was surprisingly effective). The black knight hung back for the first few rounds of combat, barking orders and casting cantrips. Daegan tried his best to 1v1 the plated abomination while the others handled the warriors. The results? Predictable!

    About halfway through the fight, Eliath started yelling at the abomination, and at one point called him Adair. Quick bit of backstory - Daegan's missing little brother is named Adair. Daegan, naturally, had a bit of a meltdown, which was really bad timing given that he still had a giant monster trying to smash him into the ground. Kharim managed to break away from the remaining warriors about the same time that Rowena fought her way over to Eliath. Kharim gave it his all and charged the black knight, which got Daegan reluctantly back into the fight. Our favorite squiggly boy went to help Kharim with the black knight, leaving the rest of the group to deal with Adair.

    The black knight finally did something other than spam cantrips - he cast Wall of Fire to trap Kharim and Daegan in with him, while simultaneously preventing the rest of the group from joining them. The knight, who gave his name as Ashram, proved to be more than a match for the lads. He downed them with little trouble, but he started rummaging through their possessions instead of finishing them off. Soraya ran through the wall of fire, went to 2 hp, and did her best to distract Ashram. She wasn't going to last long against the blackguard, but Daegan got lucky and nat 20'd his death save, and popped up at 1 hp. He saw that Ashram had looted the skin-bound book "Destiny of Souls", so he knocked the book into the wall of fire instead of attacking Ashram. Disgruntled, the black knight pulled out a scroll and cast Dimension Door to get away before the rest of the group got brave enough to charge through the fire. Adair ran off into the woods, and by this point Eliath and the Illuminated warriors were dead.

    After the fight, Daegan tried to run off into the woods after Adair. Kharim stopped him, but some heated words were exchanged between the lads, including Daegan saying "Stop pretending you're a paladin. You're not."

    Harsh.

    Kharim knocked Daegan out with a solid right cross. At Kai's direction, of course. Otherwise the lad would've gone running off without the group. They hauled Daegan back inside the library to rest up and wait for the other half of the group.

    TL;DR - It's hard to write a summary of a six-hour combat
    Last edited by SleepyShadow; 2021-04-30 at 01:10 AM.

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Oh, I remember Larloch's Minor Drain from Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Did they ever make a 5E version of that spell?

  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Oh, I remember Larloch's Minor Drain from Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Did they ever make a 5E version of that spell?
    No, I had to update it myself:
    Spoiler: Larloch's Minor Drain 5e
    Show
    1st-level Necromancy

    Casting Time: 1 Action
    Range: 30 ft.
    Components: V, S
    Duration: Instantaneous

    With this spell, you drain the life force of a creature and add it to your own. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. If the attack hits, the creature takes 1d4 necrotic damage, and you gain that many temporary hit points. These temporary hit points last for one minute.

    At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell with a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 1st.

    Spell List: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

    Feel free to use it for your own game

    Isle of Black Trees - Part Four
    In which our Heroes rescue some bait, and one of their own is taken.
    Spoiler: Session Fifteen
    Show
    This session focused on the half of the group escorting the shadar-kai librarians to the ground floor. Once again, I handed out NPCs to the players without their characters in the group. Kharim got Maddock (Forge Cleric 9), Daegan wanted Sharwyn (Valor Bard 5), and Mubarak had some fun with Bosh (Savage Species Golem 6). Kai's player had just gotten his second vaccination shot and was feeling the side effects pretty badly, so he opted out of the session.

    The group spotted someone watching them from a few rooms over, so the party decided to split up further. Aurelius, Tulany, and Cassius decided to go check things out, while Eirik and the NPC squad stayed behind to look after the librarians. The trio followed a small blood trail (not enough blood to indicate a grievous wound, just a painful one) for several rooms until they spotted an injured shadar-kai woman resting on the floor. She wasn't one from their group, so they figured she was a survivor from one of the other floors in the Grand Archives. Tulany cautiously approached her, trying not to spook the clearly frightened elf, when the group was jumped by the nine redcaps that had been using her as bait. Yay ambushes!

    The rest of the group was alerted to the danger thanks to the caterwauling from Rey's robot bird, so Eirik and the others hurried to join their imperiled friends, leaving Toda behind to look after the librarians. There were a couple of problems, though. Eirik was still suffering with multiple levels of exhaustion, so his movement speed was cut in half. Coupled with Maddock's crippled leg and Bosh's inability to take the dash action, the trio of big fellas quickly fell behind Sharwyn, who raced ahead of them in an effort to reinforce the first group. Of course, now that the party was split up even more, they all naturally got attacked by redcaps.

    Aurelius, Tulany, and Cassius held the line against the nine redcaps, hoping the others got to them in time. Sharwyn performed a fighting retreat to get back to the rearguard, using Dissonant Whispers to excellent effect. Eirik, Maddock, and Bosh just pounded their attackers into bloody lumps and kept going. The two groups linked up in the nick of time to keep Rey and company from getting completely overrun, and though the battle was hard-fought, the day was won! They even managed to rescue the shadar-kai from the redcaps, so I threw in a little extra XP for good measure. They learned her name was Willow, and her village had been overrun by redcaps a few years ago. They had kept her alive to use as bait, luring in explorers and librarians from other villages. As long as she succeeded, she got to live, though she was under the constant threat of being the redcaps' next meal if she ever failed them. She hated what she had been forced to do, but didn't know what else to do to survive. Cassius took pity on her, and brought her back to the main group of shadar-kai. Aurelius even gave her his father's old spellbook, since she told them she was a wizard.

    Back at the group of waiting librarians, the group discovered that Toda was missing. One of the shadar-kai children told the party that a "pretty lady with long fingers" took Toda down the stairs. Tulany was distraught at the thought of some evil fey kidnapping her uncle. The party suspected it might've been the Redcap Grandmother, or at least one of her minions, though they didn't know what she had targeted Toda and left the librarians alone. A little disheartened, the group completed the otherwise uneventful journey to the ground floor.

    At last, the gang was all together! Well, except for Toda...

    Maddock used a bit of his remaining magic to patch up the group that had tangled with Ashram and the Illuminated, which happened to get Daegan conscious. He immediately jumped up and tried to chase after Adair again. Nobody in the party could beat his ridiculous grapple checks, so Aurelius asked Bosh to help. The golem happily proved that he had a 90% record from the free-throw line by hurling a 300lb. bookcase at Daegan. The poor guy still had a mutagen running from the last combat that gave him resistance to slashing damage, but it also gave him bludgeoning vulnerability. The bookcase would've killed him if Bosh hadn't declared nonlethal damage before rolling.

    The party dragged Daegan's unconscious body back inside, and decided that at this point a long rest was going to be required before making an attempt to rescue Toda. The party had Bosh bury Daegan under another bookcase to keep him from running off in the morning. Afterwards, the party finally managed to get Daegan to admit that he suspected the monster they had fought was his little brother. The group agreed to help him track Adair down after they rescued Toda, and so off they went downstairs, using Tulany's Primeval Awareness to help them track his position. Only Rowena accompanied the PCs. She insisted that this was her chance to take down the Redcap Grandmother, and the fight was as much hers as it was theirs. The party agreed, and left Soraya in charge of things topside.

    And so they descended into the heart of the redcaps' lair.

    TL;DR - Faerie shenanigans and family troubles.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyShadow View Post
    Feel free to use it for your own game
    Nice, I just might do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyShadow View Post
    Kai's player had just gotten his second vaccination shot and was feeling the side effects pretty badly, so he opted out of the session.
    I can relate. When I got my second shot, I was pretty out of it. I had to take an hour long nap for every 10 minutes I spent awake, even if all I was doing was sitting at my computer or watching TV on the couch.

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    After a bit of a hiatus, we're back!

    The Beastlands
    In which the Heroes take some time for themselves, and discover that evil doesn't rest when they do.
    Spoiler: Session Fifteen
    Show
    The party made it down to the heart of the redcap lair, where they crossed blades with the Redcap Queen. She was a malevolent shapeshifter, and had taken on the guise of Rowena's long-lost mother to confuse the poor girl. She had also Charmed Toda, convincing him that he needed to protect his new queen at all costs. The party kept it together by and large, fighting their way through her hordes of redcaps while dealing with the Queen's charm and disruption magic. Even while charmed, Toda did little more than spam cantrips, but it turns out Chill Touch is more of a problem for PCs than it is for most monsters. At one point, Kharim got afflicted with Enemies Abound, but the party just pivoted and kept whacking him until he passed the save. Poor kid.

    At last, the Redcap Queen fell, and Tulany managed to break Toda out of the enchantment. Rowena shed a few tears for her mother once the party found her real corpse, but there wasn't time for an extended mourning period. The whole floor started to shake, as if something massive were approaching. Kai and Cassius realized whatever was coming was approaching from below, so they ushered the party back to the surface with all haste. Aurelius dared to look down one of the stair shafts, and saw a colossal mass of churning corpses forcing its way toward them. The party raced back to the surface and started a forced march with the librarians through the forest, desperately trying to reach the portal before the monster could catch up. It burst forth from the library and assumed a vaguely humanoid shape, with none other than Cyrus forming a part of its crown.

    Daegan and Tulany kept the group from getting lost as they fled through the forest. They raced through the portal back to Sigil, only to be met by Green Marvent and his goons on the other side. Aurelius and Mubarak intervened before a fight could break out, explaining the situation; they managed to convince Green Marvent of the danger the creature posed to Sigil, so once the last of the group was through, he Shattered the portal just as a giant hand made of corpses came reaching through.

    There was a tense moment where neither side was willing to act first. Daegan decided that the time for talk was over and took the first swing. Aurelius panicked, shouting for Bosh to stop him. He did so in his usual fashion - he clobbered Daegan with a 300lb. boulder. Green Marvent offered to "look into the situation" with Adair, then dispersed into the city with his minions. The party offered to give Rowena her mother's magic sword that had been looted off the Redcap Queen, but Rowena wasn't very good at handling heavy weapons. She offered to let the party use her mother's bastard sword, but only on adventures where she got to come along.

    With that taken care of, the party decided that some rest and relaxation was in order. They spent the next few days recovering in Sigil, taking care of a few bits of personal business. Cassius spent some time helping out his adoptive mother at the orphanage. Kai went back to his day job and made a reasonable sum of money patching people up from barfights. Aurelius finally passed the entrance exam and became a full-fledged member of the Fraternity of Order. Mubarak spent most of his downtime shagging his rival/boy-toy Chainer. Daegan completed his internship and officially joined the Bleak Cabal. Tulany joined up with the Free League during their block party potluck, and made quite a name for herself at their impromptu Three-Dragon Ante tournament. Kharim spent most of his downtime on patrol for the Harmonium, and spilled his life story to a couple of officers and a Grey Guard over lunch; this didn't exactly help his reputation, but he felt better afterward. Eirik took Sharwyn out on a date to the Salty Tower, where they had a lovely time eating seafood and getting free drinks for Sharwyn's accordion performance.

    During the downtime, Kharim and Aurelius decided to start competing with each other to see who could win Rowena's affections. We'll see how well this little love triangle turns out.

    After the carousing and resting for about three days, the party decided to take a trip out to the Beastlands in an effort to get the matching glove for Eirik. It was in the possession of a nymph, but the group was pretty confident in their ability to handle giant beasts, hostile plants, and a few watery tarts. With a bit of research, they found a portal with a cheap key (just a rabbit's foot), and so the PCs headed out, bringing Sharwyn and Rowena with them (Eirik thought of this adventure as another date with Sharwyn, while Kharim and Aurelius wanted a chance to prove how cool they were to Rowena). Not long after their arrival, the party found a pile of wemics (they're like centaurs, but lions instead of horses) who had been skinned alive and left to rot by a lake. With a bit of searching, they found that the skins seemed to have walked away under their own power. Daegan made the check to recall information about forsaken shells, a disgusting type of undead created by powerful necromancers using only the skin of a body; the fresher the corpse, the stronger the undead. The party spoke with the nymph of the lake, who confirmed their suspicions and informed the party that a "strange desert woman" had been the one to take the skins away; this woman had also taken the glove Eirik was looking for, though the nymph didn't know why. Aurelius pieced it together that the necromancer was likely Nekrothepta, the priestess of Orcus that Sreeja had warned them about. The party hustled after her, hoping to stop whatever nefarious plot she had concocted.

    Of course, this was still the Beastlands, and no trip out here would be complete without a couple of run-ins with the local fauna. The first thing to attack the party was a giant while lion with humanoid hands instead of regular cat paws. It had randomly generated attacks, and got an extra turn in the initiative cycle since it was fighting more than five opponents. Unfortunate for Kharim, who got dragged around the battlefield like a toy for most of the encounter. The lion seemed to take great offense that Kharim had scales for hair

    Shortly after the lion was put down, the group was attacked by a screaming antelope with a chest mouth and human eyes. Yay! This thing managed to trample Eirik to death, but luckily Kai always keeps a bag of diamond dust handy for Revivify, so we got out Viking back after the antelope was slain. Tulany briefly considered harvesting some monster parts from the critters, but decided she didn't want to carry it all back to Sigil when they still had to find Nekrothepta.

    The party hit the road again, hoping to find the necromancer without getting attacked by more giant mutant animals.

    TL;DR - The party took some much-needed downtime, and I made them fight Kingdom Death monsters

  26. - Top - End - #56
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    Mustn't forget the part where Tulany's curse finally presented and she galloped across the board on all fours like a horse to reach her cousin Kharim, then paused mid fight to pull up a grassy plant used in healing potions and ate it as her action. Kai was understandably concerned by this behavior and the practice that must have gone into it, and attempted to council her on "this horse obsession that most young girls go through". She was quite embarrassed and frustrated, considering she's never done this before four days ago.
    Princess Battle Flower

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Welcome back. I've never heard of Kingdom Death, but it sounds wild.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Welcome back. I've never heard of Kingdom Death, but it sounds wild.
    It sounds pretty intense, at least. :)
    elephants are made of carbon




    and so are you

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Last call for tournament predictions! Betting closes tomorrow evening. https://challonge.com/a0mdqn3h

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Welcome back. I've never heard of Kingdom Death, but it sounds wild.
    It's a horror-themed board game where you try to build a settlement and fight monsters that want to eat your townsfolk. It's got a lot of cool minis and a wonky story, so I think it's pretty neat

    The Beastlands - Part Two
    In which the heroes find a peculiar undead, and find that a tournament in Sigil is never simple.
    Spoiler: Session Sixteen
    Show
    The party tracked Nekrothepta to a makeshift concert hall set up in the middle of a grassy clearing. Guards were posted all around to keep out the wild animals, and the cheers of excited people could be heard within. Tulany approached and asked the guards what was going on, and they told her a nymph was hosting a concert for people from all over the planes. Although the PCs might be a little na´ve at times, my players were quick to guess that Nekrothepta was at the heart of whatever this was. The party bought tickets (except for Mubarak, who just flew over the wall and started bobbing to the music) and headed inside. The place was packed with people dancing, and at the center of the concert hall was a nymph clad in outlandish clothing, flanked on either side by wemics acting as backup dancers. Most of the group was a bit on edge, and they were right to be.

    On queue with the music, the dozens of forsaken shells erupted from the ground and started attacking the attendees. They would rip people's skins off after killing them, and the skin would rise as another forsaken shell only moments later. The PCs battled their way through the undead, while Rowena and Sharwyn headed back toward the main doors to help people escape, since the guards had locked the doors from the outside. Eirik was distraught at having to split up from his girlfriend, but the rest of the group convinced him Sharwyn could take care of herself.

    The party fought their way to the center of the concert, where the nymph and her goons danced and sang without a care in the world. It was then the party realized she had the glove they had come out here to get in the first place. The nymph scoffed at their interruption. "Want in on this number? Then show me your moves!"

    The party handily defeated the wemics, though they were a little concerned at how much damage the goons could dish out. After they had gotten in a few good hits on the nymph, she cast Dimension Door and shouted "Sorry! No time for an encore!" as she fled through a door that led outside the arena.

    Using Kharim's Featherfall ability, the party gave chase. They battled their way through a second group of wemics, who did their best speedbump impression. Shortly thereafter, they were halted by a pair of peculiar wemics who bickered with each other as they fought the party; one smashed people with a tower shield, while the other dual-wielded crossbows and constantly twirled them to show off. They went down a lot faster than I thought they would, but hey, that happens sometimes. After the PCs took the two dorks down, the nymph came strutting back, looking thoroughly disappointed in her minions.

    She dismissed her illusory disguise, revealing herself to be a beautiful desert woman with a heartless gaze: Nekrothepta herself! She told the PCs she had done all of this for a bit of a laugh, and just wanted to find new and creative ways of gathering minions to her master's cause. She was sure she would be rewarded for all the chaos she was stirring up. Eirik demanded the glove she had stolen from the real nymph, and she flung it into the air disdainfully.

    "Fine, it's yours," Nekrothepta said. "But it won't be yours for long, love!"

    Turns out she was quite wrong. Solo bosses just can't keep up with large party action economy, especially when she's only a bard

    The party gathered up the loot, reunited with Sharwyn and Rowena, and opted to head back to Sigil. On the way to the portal, Tulany's player made a joke about how she was glad they didn't run into the Phoenix from Kingdom Death. Never give your DM bad ideas Sure enough, a giant shadow passed overhead, and everyone scrambled for cover. Poor Kharim didn't scramble fast enough, and he got coated in rainbow-colored bird droppings. Thoroughly disgusted and in desperate need of a bath, Kharim led the charge back to the portal.

    Once back in Sigil, the group headed back to the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts for a well-deserved rest. Daegan decided to head to the Gatehouse instead to help Daria and Hikari with their work in the asylum. Kharim dumped his excrement-covered clothes off with Soraya and asked her to wash his laundry, not bothering to tell her what the mess was. She was disgruntled, to say the least.

    The next day was the long-awaited tournament! The party gathered together for breakfast, where Soraya lost her temper with Kharim and accidentally triggered her curse power: a spell called Seething Eyebane, which is a nasty little number that deals acid damage and makes the target blind by causing their eyes to bleed. Kharim failed the save, but only Soraya seemed to feel bad about what happened to him. The rest of the party seemed to think he got what he deserved. Mubarak was concerned about Kharim, but only because he had placed a bet on him to win the tournament. Soraya patched up the damage she had done, and apologized profusely.

    With that bit of drama resolved for the moment, the party reviewed Kylie's dossier she had put together on the challengers, and headed off to the tournament for Round One!

    The arena was packed with people who came to support the different participants. Free food and drinks were provided to the challengers by a saucy dark elf, who Eirik made a point of not looking at, and Kharim couldn't help himself but to stare. A pair of commentators were up in a raised platform, bantering with each other over the goings-on of each match; the halfling and the orc had a playfully antagonistic relationship.

    The matches in Round One broke down like this:
    • Aurelius vs. Marnie: It was a remarkably close fight, but in the end Rey was undone by the action economy advantage that a summoner has.
    • Nadia vs. Chainer: Nadia trounced Chainer pretty hard. It was an NPC vs. NPC fight, so I glossed over it pretty quickly.
    • Tulany vs. Zada: It was a very even fight, with a lot of back and forth. Eventually, Tulany got the upper hand and took the win.
    • Ash vs. Daegan: Daegan utterly destroyed Ash. It wasn't even close. Ash didn't even make it to his second turn in the combat.
    • Fierefiz vs. Cassius: Cass dropped out of the tournament, so Fierafiz got the win uncontested. He paraded around the arena throwing money to the audience for a bit.
    • Mubarak vs. Abban: Our flirty little mephling almost got it, but then we all remembered he is very squishy. A few solid hits took him down, though his aerial advantage certainly made things tricky.
    • Kharim vs. Hibana: It took pretty much everything he had, but once Kharim finally managed to lock Hibana into place, she was as good as done. He took the win, though he didn't feel good about it.
    • Eirik vs. Meletros: This was a weird one. Eirik had the advantage early, but Meletros just kept dumping superiority dice on him, and the bariaur defeated our viking.


    After the first round of the tournament, everyone got sent home to rest up and lick their wounds. Eirik took Sharwyn back to The Salty Tower for a few consolation drinks, though Kharim followed them their to ask Eirik for dating advice, claiming that he must know how to get with a girl, since "Sharwyn's hot! How did you do it?" Kharim admitted to having a crush on Rowena, and Eirik told him to find out more about her, rather than awkwardly staring at her all the time. Unbeknownst to them, Aurelius had already invited Rowena to spend some time with him at the Fraternity Library where she could relax after a stressful couple of days of being surrounded by lots of people and loud noises. She really appreciated the time away from the constant press of the city. Meanwhile, Mubarak organized a dinner party for a few of the group, inviting Tulany, Daegan, and Kharim along. He also invited Abban along, and even offered to pay for her meal once he realized that she only had ceramic coins. He's a good fella at heart

    Before heading to the dinner, Tulany and Kharim headed back to the Great Gymnasium to check on a couple of people. Tulany had a bit of a heart-to-heart with Fierefiz about the pressures of being royalty, and came away from it with a much cheerier attitude. Kharim went to check on Hibana, whom he noticed was having some kind of health trouble during the match. She became infatuated with him, and told him that she came to the tournament to find someone capable of defeating her; she needed the party's strength to rescue her homeland.

    She was a fair damsel with a mysterious quest. How could Kharim refuse?

    TL;DR - The party thwarts an undead bard, and things get weird at the tournament.

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