A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    JadedDM's Avatar

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    Step by step, Kharim slowly builds up his harem.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    RedKnightGirl

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    I'm sure this won't ever backfire on him even once.
    Last edited by AllHailthed4; 2021-06-08 at 09:00 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Tournament Troubles
    In which the Heroes learn that anything might be plot relevant.
    Spoiler: Session Seventeen
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    The party and their friends assembled at the Great Gymnasium for the next round of the tournament. Everyone was in pretty good spirits, and everyone wished each other well. Zada, in particular, had brought his entire gang of goblins to cheer for Tulany. They had even smuggled fireworks into the arena! Frankly, those were quieter than the vuvuzelas they had the day prior. The saucy dark elf was once again the party's serving girl, and Eirik continued to make a point of not looking at her.

    Round Two broke down like this:
    • Marnie vs. Nadia: Action economy was queen here, and the thieving shifter just couldn't keep up. Marnie took the round.
    • Tulany vs. Daegan: This was a weird one. It came down to a ranged battle, as Tulany immediately trapped Daegan inside a Spike Growth. However, the dice were not on her side this fight. Despite getting two attacks to Daegan's one (he was using a crossbow, so he couldn't use Extra Attack), Daegan managed to win the round. The goblins were on the verge of rioting.
    • Feirefiz vs. Abban: Even a psychic warrior can't tank a full barrage of smites. Feirafiz won the round.
    • Kharim vs. Meletros: This was a pretty good back and forth battle, but even a 5e Fighter can't keep up with a Crusader. Kharim took the round in good fashion.


    While the matches were going on, Dr. Kai was patching up the injured. Down in the cleric pit, he happened to meet Hibana, who wanted to congratulate Kharim on his victory. Kai was puzzled as to who this girl was, so she rattled off her entire quest to him, ending with "Kharim promised to help save my home from Faerun." Kai was understandably baffled, but equally annoyed that Kharim had signed the group up for another side quest without consulting the rest of the group. But Hibana was a fair damsel with a quest, and thus Kharim insisted he couldn't turn her down.

    After the party settled in for free drinks (provided by the saucy dark elf, of course), the semifinals went as follows:
    • Marnie vs. Daegan: Daegan realized that most of the summoner's strength came from her eidolon, and so he slammed the cat into the dumpster and proceeded to take Marnie down.
    • Feirefiz vs. Kharim: Poor Kharim couldn't land a hit on the paladin for almost the entirety of the fight. The only hit he landed was after he dropped his shield and went full aggro, but he passed out from his own delayed damage pool right afterward. Feirefiz felt bad for the kid, but he might have been the only one. Even Tulany and Soraya had been cheering for the handsome prince instead of Kharim.


    After the semifinals, the party went for a night out on the town to congratulate Daegan and console Kharim's bruised ego. Daria had to talk Daegan down from a full-blown panic attack; he had it in his head that he was going to lose the fight and disappoint everyone he had ever known. It took Daria's full motherly affection to convince him that nobody was going to be disappointed with him. Kharim just got drunk, and for understandable reasons. His best friend and his little sister had been cheering for Feirefiz, and Aurelius was putting the charms on the girl he had a crush on. In his alcohol-addled mind, only Hibana the weirdo believed he was worth anything. Rowena tried to talk him down, but the best she could manage was to get him to go to the Harmonium Barracks instead of wandering the streets like a bubber. He listened to her advice, and had a bit of a heart-to-heart with the same masked grayguard he had talked to a few times before. Kharim found out that he had done better than most of his fellow faction members thought he would; Factol Sarin seemed to have the right of it, as he had wagered a large sum that Kharim would win the bronze trophy. Medea had even mailed in a small wager that he'd win the whole tournament. Emboldened by the notion that his faction still believed in him, he staggered to his bunk and slept off the drink.

    The next day, the whole group headed back to the Great Gymnasium for the bronze match and the finals! They settled into their usual seats, getting free drinks from the same saucy dark elf (by this point I was getting a "yeah, yeah, yeah" response from the players every time I mentioned her), and chatting about wagers. Mubarak laid the pressure on thick; he had put pretty much all of his cash on Daegan winning the tournament. The following panic attack was predictable, but luckily for him the bronze match was first, so he had time to calm down a bit. Unfortunately for Kharim, he got wrecked by Marnie. It was going to be a tough fight for him, and his dice absolutely refused to cooperate. Factol Sarin wept manly tears when he saw Kharim go down. Kai went to go patch up the poor kid, and Daegan downed the last round of free liquid courage, steeling himself for the fight against Feirefiz.

    It was at this point I asked him to roll a Constitution save

    He passed the save, and only took half of the 10d10 damage. The party started freaking out, and Kai was working overtime to stop the second trigger of the poison from going off and possibly killing Daegan. The group scrambled, looking around for what could have possibly done this to him. Aurelius (more accurately, his robo-bird) spotted a familiar green cloak slipping through the crowd. Cassius took off like a shot to chase the hooded figure. Meanwhile, Kharim and Tulany went after the serving girl. They wanted to check the cup Daegan drank out of before it got washed. Sure enough, there was a small drop of green wax at the bottom of the glass. The little wax ball was hollow, and had been sealed by something that had dissolved in the drink to release the poison. Kai identified the symptoms of the poison as abyssal ophidian venom, and Kharim's alchemy check was able to verify that.

    Cassius caught up to the cloaked figure, who revealed himself to be none other than Green Marvent. He warned the party to stay out of his business, or else he would destroy them. Cassius took the wise option of letting him escape. He knew he couldn't fight Marvent by himself with the rest of the group either on the other side of the building or were at least a few rounds away.

    The party finally caught up with the saucy dark elf just outside the Gymnasium, and they found her in the arms of none other than Ashram! The party's immediate reaction was that she couldn't possibly be with him of her own free will.



    Turns out she was the poisoner! Ashram was there to help her escape, and to "keep her from going too far". The party was about to attack them, but Ashram warned that the arena had been rigged with alchemist firebombs, and he'd set them off if they didn't let him go. Begrudgingly, the party allowed him to escape, the dark elf lovingly held in his arms as they used Dimension Door to get away. The group got back together and told the officials what was going on. The tournament was postponed, the Harmonium was called in, and the party set about disarming the bombs while plotting their revenge.

    TL;DR - Even a tournament arc can be important

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Should have had Feirefiz give a speech to Kharim about how when you grow up sometimes there are changes you don't expect, and you have to face things you're not ready for.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Should have had Feirefiz give a speech to Kharim about how when you grow up sometimes there are changes you don't expect, and you have to face things you're not ready for.
    I didn't feel that Feirefiz needed to rub it in

    Downtime
    In which half the group is missing, and many sidequests are accepted.
    Spoiler: Session Eighteen
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    A lot of the group wasn't able to make it to the session for one reason or another, so the players that did make it wanted to do a few downtime activities they had wanted to get done anyway. It seemed like a good idea to me, since I wasn't keen on cancelling the session, so downtime was taken. Of note were a few events in particular.

    First, the party met in secret with Detective Bullock and his partner Montoya (brownie points if you get the reference) to tell them that Ashram had infiltrated the Harmonium as an Illuminated spy. Bullock was naturally skeptical of the claim, but promised to look into the matter and at least get word to Factol Sarin without alerting the Gray Guards. The party learned from Bullock and Montoya that Ashram was actually the captain of the Gray Guards, and they had all gone to Plaguemort for a "training session". Since the party had figured out that Green Marvent and his crew were using Plaguemort as a base of operations, they were immediately put on edge by this information. Kharim wanted to go rushing off to deal with the Illuminated, but Rowena knocked him out (using Wolf Fang Strike was a bit overkill, but whatever ) and forced him to get some bedrest. Hibana stayed with him while he slept off the 30~ nonlethal damage.

    Second, Tulany went to the Athar headquarters to check in on Nadia, who had been getting progressively more ill during the tournament. She found the shifter wracked with pain and shaking uncontrollably, as the troll blood had been poisoning her, and the Athar healers could only do their best to make her comfortable. Factol Terrance explained that he knew how to cure Nadia, but there was a material component he couldn't acquire. He needed a sea sponge from the Holy Sea on the first layer of Celestia (he wanted to assemble what amounted to a magical dialysis machine), but the angels there refused to let the Athar have one, since the faction offered no prayers to the gods. Terrance knew that Nadia would die without treatment, but there was nothing he could do. Unsurprisingly, Tulany volunteered to get the sea sponge.

    Thirdly, Mubarak heard through the grapevine that a prominent businessman named Spiral Hal'oight wanted to speak with him about a business venture. The party didn't decide to follow up on this one just yet, but I wanted to mention here because it's a hook to get them involved with the Blood War.

    Deciding that Nadia's plight was the most time-sensitive, the party headed to Celestia. Tulany suggested that Kharim stay behind, since he had accidentally made a bad impression on the angels last time they were there. He eventually convinced the party to let him come along, but he kept a bit of a chip on his shoulder toward Tulany for the rest of the day. The party hoped that acquiring the sea sponge would be a simple matter. Of course, nothing in Planescape is ever straight forward. They met with Archangel Barachiel, who admitted that the party had helped the forces of good in the past, but they would need to help once again if they wanted to cure the "godless heathen". He instructed them to travel to a fledgling prime world called Seagraff and aid a half-celestial named Linvala, who had been tasked with protecting the only human settlement on that world until they could properly defend themselves. Barachiel told the party that Linvala's town had come under siege by a horde of aquatic giants, and that if they aided her they would be given the sea sponge. The party agreed to the terms, so the archangel gave them the portkey and bid them farewell.

    The party decided that they were going to help Linvala first so they could heal Nadia, then go to the Githzerai monastery that Cassius wanted to go to, and after that they'd go find out what Spiral wanted. They decided to put the Illuminated on the back burner for a bit, since they didn't feel quite ready to tango with a 13th level minotaur wizard and his faithful minions. We wrapped up the session there, since we didn't want the missing players to get left behind.

    TL;DR - Downtime was taken, and sidequests were accepted.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Wait, is the Green Marvent a minotaur? I must have missed that.

  7. - Top - End - #67
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Wait, is the Green Marvent a minotaur? I must have missed that.
    Yeah, we've suspected Green Marvent was a minotaur since he face-checked Kharim as we were trying to escape from The Eternal Boundary. I think it was confirmed when we interacted with him as we were escaping the Isle of Black Trees.

    -Aurelius's Player

  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Harvey Bullock? And Renee Montoya? From Batman, of course.
    elephants are made of carbon




    and so are you

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    @JadedDM: I found an old article on The Illuminated talking about how Green Marvent is a minotaur wizard from Toril who spends most of his time under a disguise self spell to look human. I have no idea if the article is canon or not, but there's a remarkable lack of information about The Illuminated. I decided to run with it, since it adds a nice bit of flair to an otherwise boilerplate villain.

    @GravityEmblem: Bingo


    The Battle For Seagraff
    In which the Heroes fight sea monsters, and a villain is aggravated.
    Spoiler: Session Nineteen
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    The party headed off to a small world on the Prime, and found themselves in a foggy island town. The locals, mostly dressed in long coats and tricornered hats, were suspicious of the newly arrived planeswalkers. Tulany managed to corner a comparatively friendly one, and he gave them directions to the Church of Celestian where the half-celestial Linvala resided. The church had been converted into a field hospital to tend to the villagers wounded in the defense of their home. Linvala had been running herself ragged healing people, and Mubarak noticed that she was using makeup to hide the bags under her eyes from her many sleepless nights. Kai used his powers of medicine to tend to the worst of the injuries, including fixing one woman's hip so that she could walk again. Meanwhile, Linvala gave a description of the sea giants to the party, which allowed Daegan to determine the monsters were some variant of merrow (later dubbed "skullcrusher merrow"). Kharim made himself useful by introducing himself to the captain of the guard, and older man named Olrich, who identified himself as an Oath of the Watchers paladin of Amarok. Olrich told him about how the merrow seemed fixated on killing Linvala, and that they were less ferocious when she wasn't on the battlefield. Aurelius suspected that magic was being used to lure the monsters to the village, but he couldn't figure out why this was the case.

    The party spent the rest of the day coming up with a plan to deal with the attackers that would surely arrive that night. Since Seagraff was a TL 3 location (most typical D&D locations are between 1.3 and 2), the party decided to rig the beachhead with barrels of gunpowder and steel stakes. That night, the merrow came swarming up out of the ocean and made a beeline for Linvala. The party detonated the explosives, which did quite a number on the monsters, and then waded into melee to clean up. Once the battle was over, the party headed back to the church to rest up. While they were doing so, Aurelius finally managed to track down what had been luring in the merrow - Linvala's holy symbol. He questioned her on this, and she said that a planeswalker in a green cloak had come to visit the island and invited her to travel with him, but she had turned down his offer. The merrow attacks had started shortly after the planeswalker left Seagraff.

    Kai broke the enchantment on the cursed necklace, but the church came under attack by Olrich and his men. They had found out the source of the trouble as well, and were determined to kill Linvala to rid themselves of the merrow. Kai, Cassius, and Linvala escaped out the back and hid among the headstones of the graveyard, while the rest of the party fled out the window and climbed up to the roof. Except for Aurelius. He helped people get through the window, then ran to make sure Kai and Cassius had gotten out the back. He then doubled back to the window, but by that point he succumbed to the gas grenades Olrich and his men were throwing into the church.

    From the rooftop, Daegan spotted a familiar green-cloaked figure in amidst Olrich's men. He immediately recognized the man as none other than Green Marvent! With a few good Persuasion checks, the party managed to convince Olrich that Marvent had tricked him into attacking Linvala, and that it was Marvent, not the half-celestial, who had been luring the merrow into town. Green Marvent immediately used plane shift to escape once Olrich turned on him. The old paladin surrendered to the party, and said that Marvent had claimed Linvala to be the source of the trouble. With a few awkward handshakes and a heartfelt apology, the party left Olrich and his men to take care of Seagraff. Linvala, being an honorable sort, offered to repay her debt to the party by accompanying them on a single mission. Once her debt was cleared, she'd return to wandering Wildspace to continue her quest to aid those in need. The party agreed to her terms.

    The group stuck around in Seagraff for an extra day to make sure the merrow attacks would stop. Once they determined things were going to settle down, they returned to Mount Celestia to report their victory. Barachiel awarded them the promised sea sponge, and they returned to Sigil with Linvala in tow. Tulany rushed back to the Athar headquarters and gave the sea sponge directly to Factol Terrance. He thanked her profusely for her hard work, and promised to let her know as soon as Nadia had made a full recovery.

    The party headed back to the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts for a bit of downtime before the next adventure.

    TL;DR - The party used an excessive amount of gunpower to blow up a bunch of sea ogres.

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Oh, interesting. The article you links not only says he's a Minotaur, but a Taladan Minotaur specifically. That tickles the Dragonlance fan in me.

  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Nothing like some lighthearted downtime at the brothel. Good times.
    Princess Battle Flower

  12. - Top - End - #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Oh, interesting. The article you links not only says he's a Minotaur, but a Taladan Minotaur specifically. That tickles the Dragonlance fan in me.
    I didn't catch that bit. Awesome! The minotaurs of Krynn are the superior minotaurs

    Forget Me Not
    In which a different group of Heroes takes the spotlight.
    Spoiler: Below Deck Episode
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    Only four players were able to make it to the session. Rather than steamroll ahead in the campaign with half the usual group, I decided to run a tangential one-shot session instead. I gave each player an NPC's character sheet (Soraya, Toda, Sharwyn, and Daria), though I had erased the names from the sheets, and gave them a few minutes to look the NPCs over while I cobbled together an adventure. I had them make a few saving throws right off the bat (Con, Dex, Dex, Wis, Wis), but I didn't tell them why. They'd figure it out soon enough.

    If you're wondering why I called this session a "below deck episode", it's a reference to Star Trek. Every once in a while, the older series would have a one-off episode focused on what the red shirts got up to when the main cast wasn't around.

    We started in media res, with the four of them waking up in a covered wagon listing to one side. Toda was the first to wake up, since the sickly elf wizard somehow rolled the highest Con save. The wagon was filled broken adventuring gear, including a few shattered sensation stones from the BSIL. Toda was also the only one to fail his first Dex save, so he woke up with a nasty gash on his forehead and dried blood crusted to his face. He climbed out of the wagon as the rest of the party started to wake up, and he found their wagon was stuck in a steep ditch just outside of a cornfield. Whatever horses they had before had snapped their reigns and fled into the night.

    The whole party had dirt caking their clothes, faces, and hair. Everyone also felt like they had just gone twelve rounds with a heavyweight boxer. Their entire bodies ached, joints were stiff, throats felt raw, they had pounding headaches, and sour stomachs. None of them could remember how they ended up here, where they were, or even who they were. They still had foggy recollections of what bits of gear belonged to them, so the amnesia wasn't total, but it was nearly so. In their packs, they found keys to rooms at an inn called "The Coach and Lantern". Importantly, the keys they had were numbered 3, 4, 5, and 7. The party reasoned that they had a missing fifth person, though their first priority was getting some help. They packed up what gear they could salvage, and climbed out of the wagon.

    At this point, I had each of them roll 1d4 to determine what temporary madness effect they were suffering. Sharwyn and Soraya got claustrophobia, while Toda and Daria both ended up with mysophobia. Really not much of a change for Toda

    The party headed through the night and cold rain (Sharwyn was glad the rain might wash some of the dirt off) to a nearby farmhouse. The residents, Mr. and Mrs. Baker, let them in and allowed the poor sods to get cleaned and warmed up. The Bakers mentioned meeting the party before, and when asked how they met, they said that the party had been asking for directions to the old Cooper estate. Soraya got a flash of memory which confirmed this, as well as feelings of both excitement and anxiety when thinking about the Cooper estate. Sharwyn was really concerned about not revealing the party's amnesia to anyone, and so quickly steered the conversation toward the wrecked wagon to explain the confusion. The Bakers accepted the story, and even offered to give the party a lift into town.

    Once the party got dropped off outside the inn, they went to talk to the innkeeper and his wife. Sharwyn asked if they still had rooms, which was a clever excuse to look at the registry. They finally learned their names (which half of the group had already guessed), and learned that their missing fifth member was Lyn Zedoris - Bendon Maul's bodyguard. The innkeeper said she hadn't come back yet, but her room was good until the end of the week, same as the rest of the party. The group headed up to their rooms to look for further clues, and found newsletters, interview transcripts, and sensory stones all indicating the party had been looking into the Cooper estate for possible ties to the undead and incarnum magic. They also learned that they were in the village of Clio, which was about three days outside the Free City of Greyhawk.

    The party agreed to go check out the Cooper estate again, but decided that doing it at night in the rain while injured was a bad idea. They took a long rest at the inn, but unfortunately for them it wasn't very restful. They were all troubled by disturbing dreams. Sharwyn dreamt of fleeing through the dark from some creature with a three-lobed, burning eye. Daria had visions of a sacrificial knife, an heirloom from her great-grandfather. Toda dreamed of being lost in a sea of pale fleshy spiders, all while being one himself. Poor Soraya had dreams of being summoned from the churning deep, sluggishly answering a call from her persistent worshippers, though it was not time to fully awaken.

    I find that the best one-shots are horror games

    That morning, the party wasn't feeling too well. They all had stomach cramps and headaches, neither of which could be alleviated with the magic they had access to. Daria decided to examine everyone with a Medicine check, and found that they all had peculiar lumps just beneath the skin on various parts of their bodies. Curious, she poked one of the lumps on Sharwyn's back. This caused the lump to skitter around under her skin for a few seconds before retreating deeper into her body and out of view.

    The players were thrown into a full-blown panic, both because of how gross it was, and also because they now realized four of their favorite NPCs were in serious danger.

    Sharwyn and Soraya pinned Toda down while Daria cut one of the lumps off his arm. A pale fleshy spider fell out of the wound and tried to skitter away, but they managed to catch it under a cup. The nasty little thing was a cross between a leech and a tarantula, and Toda realized it was one of the creatures from his dream. Cue another round of panicking, which prompted the innkeeper to come check on them. They quickly spun a story about how Toda had cut himself, and Sharwyn distracted the innkeeper from asking further questions by inquiring about Lyn's room. The innkeeper agreed to let them in, but he said he'd have to stay with them "just in case". Toda, Sharwyn, and Soraya went to search Lyn's room while Daria stayed behind to examine the creepy crawly.

    Inside, they found a list of people in town the party had talked to before losing their memories, as well as a few names of people they had planned to speak with but hadn't yet done so. They also found several steamy letters between Lyn and Toda. This came as quite a surprise to the players, since they were convinced his only love was chess. After they were done snooping, the party agreed to split up into pairs. Sharwyn and Daria would go talk with the locals for information on the Cooper estate, while Toda and Soraya headed to the library to do some research.

    The library team learned that the Cooper estate had originally been owned by a foreign wizard named Edmund McCumsey who was obsessed with underground mazes. He had hired dwarves to build a dungeon beneath his home, and had even written a book titled Labyrinths in History and Legend. They dug up the book and found it to be a rambling account of how ancient people had constructed the underdark long before the drow ever lived there, thus "explaining" why different cultures across Greyhawk had built pyramids. They did find one clue, though. The book made several mentions about a "God of the Labyrinth" that was worshipped by these ancient peoples. It was a monstrous god, but one that could be bargained with to provide safe passage. This led Soraya and Toda to do some digging through old religious texts, where they found one such god existed: The Great Old One Eihort. When Eihort captures a mortal, it offers the captive a bargain. If the captive refuses, Eihort smashes the victim to death. If the captive accepts the bargain, Eihort implants its immature brood inside the victim's body. The brood will eventually mature and eat its way out of the host.

    Meanwhile, the interview crew talked with the constabulary, who spun a few ghost stories about the haunted Cooper estate. They also spoke with Lilly Austin, the leader and sole member of the Clio Historical Society. Lilly happily talked with Sharwyn and Daria about the history of the town, especially about the occasional unsolved deaths that had been happening for centuries near the Cooper estate. She was particularly enamored with the grisly details, though a quick Insight check revealed she was little more than a true crime enthusiast. Sharwyn's player remarked that Lilly reminded her of a few little old ladies from her hometown. Lastly, Sharwyn and Daria spoke with Vanessa Volker, a beautiful and charming young woman who was in charge of finding a buyer for the abandoned Cooper estate. She told the party she had inherited the job from the previous custodian, who had died unexpectedly a couple of years ago. She offered to accompany the party out to the Cooper estate if they wished, since she had the keys to the place and she would rather not have the party break in.

    The party, along with Vanessa, met back up and decided to head out to the Cooper estate, certain that whatever answers they sought would be there. Once inside the abandoned house, their memories came flooding back to them.

    They had already been here, along with Lyn and Vanessa. There had been reports of the Lost, incarnum based undead, and so Soraya had asked the others to come to Clio. She's very curious about incarnum magic, and thought this would be a good place to learn a little bit about it, and rid the small town of some undead while there. The party had fought a few Lost, though nothing too troubling, when Vanessa suggested searching the basement. Once there, they found a secret door which led to a sprawling labyrinth. They entered in search of the source of the Lost, when the secret door closed behind them. Vanessa was no longer with them. They tried to break out, but Eihort emerged from the darkness to claim its latest victims. There was nowhere to run. Lyn was stomped to death by the Great One. The others surrendered, and were infested with Eihort's brood. Once the horrific process was complete, they were set free.

    Realizing now that Vanessa had set them up, the party turned on her, paralyzing her with Hold Person and tying her up before she could break the spell. Once free of paralysis, she remarked that they had regained their memories faster than she had expected. With the party insisting on returning to the Cooper estate, Vanessa's plan had been to just lock them in the cellar until the brood hatched. The party searched her belongings, and found a copy of Revelations of Glaaki, which not only held a wealth of information on Eihort, but also contained the spell Balk Brood, which would let them rid themselves of the parasites infesting their bodies. The party took the book, turned Vanessa over to the constables, and burned the Cooper estate to the ground. They took turns using Balk Brood, since they figured out that if the same person uses the spell more than once, there's an increasing chance that an avatar of Eihort will show up to kill the caster.

    Thoroughly horrified, and mourning the loss of Lyn Zedoris, the party went back to Sigil to recover at the BSIL. The players might also need some time to recover

    TL;DR - Half the group couldn't make it to the session, so I ran a one-shot where the players got to play as some of their favorite NPCs instead.

  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Especially Taladan Minotaurs. Ansalonian ones are basically just honorable pirates, but the Taladan ones have their own Romanesque empire going.

    Also, wow, some spooky stuff in this one.

  14. - Top - End - #74
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    DrowGirl

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    Haha, one-shots are nice for horror, because it doesn't matter if all the PCs die gruesomely! >:)
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    Law in Chaos
    In which the heroes face a new challenge - the chaotic soup of Limbo - as they help a Xaositect turn stag.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty
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    The party regrouped with their NPC friends at the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts, and found out all about what they had been up to while the PCs had been gone. Tulany spoke with everyone in the party at length, only to realize she was the only one who wanted to go home. Everyone else had found a reason to stay (or was already a local), and so she spent some time trying to wrap her head around that. Kharim learned from Bullock and Montoya that Factol Sarin had officially disbanded the Grey Guard after learning about their betrayal. The detectives also mentioned Sarin was deeply troubled by Ashram's treachery, and had hired mercenaries to fill in the gaps.

    The party went with Cassius to speak with his adoptive human mother, Kiosa, and she asked them to escort a girl from the Xaositects out of Sigil. She needed to go to a githzerai monastery called Shra'kt'lor and meet with Master Haeronimil. The girl, Kyran, had recently turned stag after learning the dark of her faction. She needed help rebalancing her mind, and also protection from her former faction. She suspected the Xaositects would likely want her dead for what she had uncovered.

    I was honestly surprised nobody asked her *what* she had found out. Oh well.

    Accompanying the PCs on this escort mission was Hibana. The party reckoned her psionic powers would come in handy. Kharim and Cassius also wanted to get to know her better. The other tagalong was a newcomer to the scene. Barrock, an orc wizard from Eberron, had watched the party in the tournament and offered his services to them. He was already going to Limbo for his own reasons, and preferred to travel in a group. He needed some muscle, and the party needed someone who could reliably chaos-shape terrain in Limbo, so they agreed to travel together for the time being.

    At Kiosa's suggestion, they headed over to Yggdrasil and practiced some chaos-shaping on the border of Limbo before heading in. This gave them a good opportunity to familiarize themselves with the mechanics in a no-stress environment. They had a bit of fun making trees and statues and such, including a mile-tall bird statue that Aurelius conjured up. Once they had figured out how chaos-shaping worked, they headed into Limbo proper. Barrock would be the primary terrain generator, with Hibana and Aurelius acting as backups should something happen. After trekking through Limbo for a while, the party got attacked by a pack of red slaadi.

    Rant time: Lemme tell ya, 5e did slaadi dirty. Their AC is garbage, their attack bonus is barely capable of hitting, and they lost a lot of the cool abilities they had in older editions. To top it off, the implanted eggs now hatch after three months instead of the one week that it used to be. Red slaad are just upgraded ogres. /rant

    Anyway, the party mopped up the slaadi without much issue. The fight took longer than I thought it would, but that's only because the slaadi have regeneration and the party has fewer strikers than a group of their size normally would. We wrapped up the session after the fight.

    TL;DR - The party went to Limbo on an escort mission, and 5e slaadi are remarkably weak.

  16. - Top - End - #76
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    Players not recognizing vital information is spot on, haha.
    Last edited by GravityEmblem; 2021-07-23 at 07:16 PM.
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    Did they shorten the incubation period of red slaadi in later editions? Because three months is how long it took back in 2E, too. I know, because one of my 2E parties had to deal with some recently and had a really hard time with them; their multi-attack, stunning croak and ability to gate in backup proved quite a challenge, despite the party being level 7. (Ironically, their regeneration really didn't add up to much; they only get 1 HP/round back in 2E.) How have they been nerfed in 5E?

    And to be fair to your party, had they asked for the Xaositects secrets, would they have even made any sense?
    Last edited by JadedDM; 2021-07-23 at 09:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Did they shorten the incubation period of red slaadi in later editions? Because three months is how long it took back in 2E, too. I know, because one of my 2E parties had to deal with some recently and had a really hard time with them; their multi-attack, stunning croak and ability to gate in backup proved quite a challenge, despite the party being level 7. (Ironically, their regeneration really didn't add up to much; they only get 1 HP/round back in 2E.) How have they been nerfed in 5E?

    And to be fair to your party, had they asked for the Xaositects secrets, would they have even made any sense?
    5e slaadi don't have stunning croak, or the ability to gate in backup like most other extra-planar creatures. 3e/4e slaadi had the incubation period at one week. I think 5e should have it at one week as well, since it's so much easier to remove diseases in 5e than any previous edition. But hey, that's just my 2cp.

    As for the Xaositect secrets, it's a matter of principle. If an NPC is waving a plot-hook in your face, the least you can do is look at it

    Law in Chaos - Part Two
    In which progress is slow and uncertain.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-One
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    The party started off the session getting jumped by a pack of blue slaadi. The only real difference between these guys and the reds is they have a few more hit points, and (more importantly) their attack bonus is actually threatening. Aurelius pulled a brilliant move during the fight. He used the chaos-shaping to put a stone dome over two of the slaadi, giving the rest of the party a much easier time. Daegan and Cassius spent most of the fight getting dribbled like basketballs, but Eirik and Kai had enough healing to keep them upright. Mubarak had gone through most of his spells last fight, so he just flew around shooting his crossbow and handing out bardic inspiration. Tulany managed to never get hit. Kharim, however, couldn't roll a double digit on the d20 almost the entire fight. He even managed to whiff a few attacks when he had advantage. Hibana did her best to bail him out, but with blue slaadi resisting pretty much every type of energy damage, her efficacy was really hindered. Toward the end of the fight, Eirik got particularly unlucky on a wild surge, and spent the next minute triggering additional wild surges at the start of his turn. Even with random spell effects like Confusion and Invisibility going off, the fight was always firmly in the party's hands. It just took a while to carve through all of the slaadi, since they have enough hp to make some dinosaurs blush.

    Eventually, the party made it to a whirlpool which would spit them out near the monastery. They decided to head through and make camp, since by that point everyone was tapped on resources. They took watch in shifts, making sure to have one person concentrating on the terrain while the other kept a lookout for trouble. Unfortunately for the PCs, the Xaositect assassin sent after Kyran finally caught up with them.

    The assassin was a pretty potent githyanki war mage, and she led a cadre of earth mephlings who were largely their to clog up the battlefield and provide the noble service of speedbump duty. The githyanki bloodied the party with her opening salvo, a well-placed Synaptic Static, and dropped a few of them with her follow-up Fireball. Luckily for the PCs, they took her down before she got the chance to Disintegrate anyone. Wizards might be powerful, but they still turn into chunky salsa once they get on the business end of a sword

    We ended the session there, since the two fights had taken about six hours to get through. Decision paralysis is a heck of a problem in the middle of combat, doubly so when there are eight players in the group.

    TL;DR - Combat happened.

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    Ugh, having whole sessions of unfun combat has really made me hate combat in D&D, especially IRL with strict rules. These days, I tend play loose with the mechanics.
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    From the player side, there were some really fun aspects to the combats, like Rey's brilliant "thunderdome" idea, Daegan's new ability coming into play, and the limbo-specific wild surge mechanics. It was certainly entertaining enough to keep me engaged, even if I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn 😉

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    Quote Originally Posted by GravityEmblem View Post
    Ugh, having whole sessions of unfun combat has really made me hate combat in D&D, especially IRL with strict rules. These days, I tend play loose with the mechanics.
    The combats have generally been fun. Most of the critters they fight go down in three or so hits. Slaadi just have a ton of hit points to carve through, so it took longer than I anticipated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyShadow
    5e slaadi don't have stunning croak, or the ability to gate in backup like most other extra-planar creatures.
    Oof, yeah, that is quite a nerf then. Kind of just turns them into mooks then, rather than anything terribly threatening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllHailthed4 View Post
    From the player side, there were some really fun aspects to the combats, like Rey's brilliant "thunderdome" idea, Daegan's new ability coming into play, and the limbo-specific wild surge mechanics. It was certainly entertaining enough to keep me engaged, even if I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn 😉
    Good for y'all, but in the last big combat I ran, one of the players started juggling axes, and another searched for a "bendable tree" to use as a catapult.
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    the combats have been pretty fun, the same goes for this one. even though blue slaad are apparently hit point cinderblocks that we weren't....quite prepared for lmao
    squidhound

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    Me and my players aren't big combat fans. We've had a few fights against single big opponents (I'd list some, but I'm running the same campaign for JadedDM. So, spoilers. :P), which they enjoyed. But the ones against lots of little opponents, they struggled against and complained quite a bit. And, honestly, I didn't have much fun running them, either. So, nowadays, my games have a bigger focus on roleplaying and small, contained fights.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Oof, yeah, that is quite a nerf then. Kind of just turns them into mooks then, rather than anything terribly threatening.
    Hence my complaint about them being upgraded ogres.

    Monastic Living
    In which trust is built and broken.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Two
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    After a rough morning around the campfire, the party headed out into the soup of Limbo for the last leg of their journey. After another six hours of travel, they finally arrived at Shra'kt'lor Monastery. Some githzerai monks met them at the front gates, and when they saw Cassius with the party, they called over Master Haeronimil to weigh in on the situation. Haeronimil knew who they were, as he had been expecting them. He waited for proper greetings to be made, but he got a little miffed when Cassius decided to be coy with him. This was part of the player's recent decision that Cassius has "a playful, trickster aspect" to his personality. Unfortunately, this was not the time or place to be indulging in new personality quirks. Githzerai aren't very appreciative of disrespectful behavior, especially when it comes from one of their own. The group managed to smooth things over before the situation escalated, and the PCs were even paid for the trouble of bringing Kyran to the monastery.

    Aurelius asked Kyran why she was hiding from the Xaositects, and she told them she had discovered the Factol had fallen in with a group of demon worshippers, and they were secretly using the Xaositects to push the Tanar'ri agenda. Kyran had to escape lest she be silenced by the cultists. Nobody in the party was surprised by this.

    The group spent a few days at the monastery resting, researching, and getting rid of the copious amount of slaad tadpoles they had accrued. Aurelius spent time learning about curses, and found out that every curse has an escape clause. He also learned that a woman named Madame Eva was an expert on curses, and that if he wanted to learn more he should seek her out. He's also now trying to learn the Lucid Dreaming skill from the Quori, so he can better interpret a curse's escape clause.

    Kai and Eirik spent their downtime researching fiendish diseases and how to treat them. I cracked open my old copy of the 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness splat book, turned to the page about diseases, and told them to go nuts. They spent a good portion of the evening writing and comparing notes, though they couldn't come to a consensus on which disease was the worst.

    Daegan spent most of his time hiding in his room so he didn't have to be social. He didn't want to be around Barrock, since the orc wizard made Daegan rather flustered.

    Kharim, Cassius, and Tulany decided they wanted to train together with Hibana. I thought this was an excellent idea, so I continued to blow the dust off old splat books and dug up some of the Teamwork Benefits from the old DMG II and Heroes of Battle. Hibana tried to teach them Steadfast Resolve. She gave them a fragile glass ball, told them to pass it around in a circle, and she'd come back later. The idea was to get the three of them to trust each other, and to trust Hibana as well. Tulany gave up at the six hour mark, insisting that Hibana had tricked them and that the whole idea was stupid. When Hibana found out later, she was practically in tears.

    Cassius and Kharim did some more training together the next day, and this time they were joined by Master Haeronimil, who decided to give them a manual on githzerai martial arts. Since I was already dusting off books, this time I pulled from some old Legend of the Five Rings accessories and converted some katas over to our Frankenstein version of D&D. The katas proved to be pretty well-received, and the rest of the group started eyeballing the martial arts with some interest. They learned a couple of katas with Hibana, and then buckled down to learn the Crowded Combat teamwork benefit. Once they figured out how to use it, they seemed pretty interested in teaching the rest of the PCs how to do it.

    Speaking of learning new things, Kharim tried and failed to learn a 4e Dark Sun ability called "Mark of Thunder". It had featured in the last campaign I ran, which was a mash-up of the old 2e Al-Qadim setting and The War of the Burning Sky adventure path. Using stuff from other editions and other games is something I do all the time

    At the end of the trip, Cassius finally apologized to Master Haeronimil. The old githzerai accepted the apology, and Haeronimil told Cassius to take care of Hibana, as the old gith could sense she was not long for this or any other world. Cassius agreed, noting that Kharim was rather sweet on her these days. Of course, Cass failed to tell Kharim about what Haeronimil said. Maybe he'll remember next session.

    The party headed back to Sigil, where they hung out at the BSIL for a little while before Toda told them that Sharwyn and Soraya had left to go speak with Spiral Hal'oight about a business proposition. Toda didn't know what the deal was, but he had overheard the guy offer 1,000 gold just to hear him out. Even after getting paid for delivering Kyran to the monastery, the party was still pretty light on cash, so the PCs hustled to The Lady's Ward and met up with the girls at Spiral's mansion. The man was as good as his word, giving the group a sack of cash just for coming.

    Spiral told the PCs that a great battle between the Baatezu and the Tanar'ri had just occurred on the Grey Wastes of Hades, and that both armies had been practically wiped out. He wanted the party to travel to Oinos, look for the Baatezu campsite, and pilfer whatever battleplans the devils had brought with them. Spiral offered to pay each person who participates 1,000 gold. The party was curious why he wanted the battleplans, but Spiral just gave the cryptic answer of "information is worth more than gold". He also admitted he didn't know what he was going to do with them until he saw what the information was. Kharim was a little put-off by the idea of Spiral doing anything other than giving the information freely to the Celestial powers, but the rest of the group was lured in by the promise of wealth, and so the party agreed. Spiral even sweetened the deal by buying magic weapons for everyone who didn't have one. He called it a necessary business expense.

    Newly armed and newly indebted to Spiral, the PCs prepared to brave Hades.

    TL;DR - Teambuilding shenanigans and the hook for the next adventure.

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    It's always fun to bring out old books and find ways to incorporate them into a new game.

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    The Field of Nettles
    In which our Heroes deal with a celestial who deals in misery, journey to a grisly battlefield where the plants drain life, and hunt for a fiendish general's plans for the Blood War.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Three
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    After their meeting with Spiral Hal'oight, the PCs took the rest of the day for some carefree downtime. Cassius started work on a piece of jewelry for Linvala, Tulany spoke about heroics and politics with Ser Feirefiz, Kharim relaxed with Hibana, Aurelius helped Rowena study for her entrance exam to join the Fraternity of Order, Eirik got turned down by Sharwyn when he asked her out on a date (she had somewhere else she had to be), and Kai and Daegan studied up on The Grey Wastes of Hades. Mubarak was unfortunately absent this session.

    The next morning, Tulany led the PCs, along with Sharwyn and Soraya, to the Market Ward. The portal to Hades was a large wreath of black roses fixed to the side of a flower shop. Once through the portal, they met with the marraenoloth Spiral had arranged for. The fiend, of course, asked the party for money despite being paid in advance. The party was savvy enough not to pay the fiend extra, so the 'loth let them on board without a fuss, and he took them down the River Styx. However, he still decided to screw them over in the easiest way he could. He dropped them off on the wrong side of the Field of Nettles.

    The Field of Nettles ranks high in the foolishness of the Blood War. It's hosted thousands of battles, each more bloody than the last. It's a place of constant struggle where the lives of billions have been wiped from the planes, leaving only moldering bones to mark their passing. The worst part is that it's not even a site of strategic importance.

    The party was dropped off at the tanar'ri side of the battlefield, and the marraenoloth left before they could complain. There were thousands of fiend corpses strewn about, and Kharim promptly lost his lunch. Once he had emptied his stomach, the party marched for the Baatezu side of the battlefield. They slogged their way through the blood and corpses, trying not to think about what they were walking in. On the first day of their journey, they came across a tower of bones that was building itself by absorbing the nearby skeletons and ripping the bones out of fresher corpses.

    One of the corpses wasn't actually dead, he was just a human fighter that had gotten stuck when a pile of bodies had fallen on top of him. The party rescued him from having his skeleton eaten by the tower, and he thanked them by telling them of a hidden portal which led to the gate-town of Xaos in the Outlands. The party invited him to travel with them, but he had gotten more than his fill of the Blood War and just wanted to go home. The party wished him well, and off he went. Aurelius used his knowledge of architecture and civil engineering, coupled with Eirik's raw strength, to knock down the tower of bones before it could harm another living soul. Once done, the party made camp in the convenient clearing the tower had created.

    One the second day of travel, Soraya forced Kharim to eat breakfast. That didn't stay down very long, but it was a start. During the day's march, they found a hill of corpses which blocked their view. Erring on the side of caution, Aurelius sent Baldwin the robo-bird to go scout it out before deciding what to do. Unfortunately for the party mascot, something else had the ability to fly. Seeing the bird get snatched out of the air, the party raced up the hill as fast as they could. Aurelius and Daegan led the charge, since Aurelius could hover and Daegan could skitter like a spider. The rest of the group had to slog up the hill of corpses the hard way.

    It was a real shame, too. The three fiends atop the hill started casting Magic Missile at Daegan and Aurelius as soon as the two got in range. The fiends were a trio of legion demons who took the form of wolf-girls in classy suits. They barked and yipped at the approaching adventurers in between their spell barrage, and declared they were keeping Baldwin as their new toy. Tulany and Sharwyn did their best to return fire, but two archers weren't quite enough to dissuade the three demons. Daegan reached the top first, got blasted into unconsciousness, and managed to pop back up at 1 hp with a nat 20 on his death save! Once it was clear they were outmatched, the fiendish trio surrendered. Daegon used his Pokedex knowledge to figure out that the fiends (actually a singular fiend named Rhellyn, whose soul was split between her three bodies) came from Carceri, the prison of the Titans that Zeus and his pantheon had overthrown. Rhellyn admitted to working for the titans, and had been sent to the Field of Nettles to spy on the activity of the other fiends. She explained that after the battle between the Tanar'ri and Baatezu, the Yugoloths had been systematically hunting down any survivors and exterminating them. Rhellyn had feared the PCs were Yugoloth agents sent to kill her, which is why she attacked them. Most of the party felt sympathetic for the poor wolf-girl(s), and so gave Rhellyn directions to the portal back to Xaos. She happily took them up on their offer, and the trio ran barking and howling into the gloom of Hades.

    Surely, there will be no consequences for sending a fiend directly to a mortal town on the Outlands. Good has surely triumphed this day

    TL;DR - The party thinks Hades is gross, and fiends come in all flavors.

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    oh dear, furry demons

    Well, look at it this way: you have an excellent opportunity to show the players their actions have consequences!
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    Quote Originally Posted by GravityEmblem View Post
    oh dear, furry demons

    Well, look at it this way: you have an excellent opportunity to show the players their actions have consequences!
    We have been shown many times that our actions have many consequences, some of which we came at us in ways we did not expect. We've mostly learned, but occasionally we make very dumb mistakes, some "intentional" others complete accidents.

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