A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    DrowGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaiusOctavian View Post
    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.
    Oh, I figured. I was just making a joke about getting an opportunity to make things go really badly, if the DM is so inclined. Hopefully not, haha.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by oosman View Post
    Are any of the PCs members of a faction, or are they all independent still?
    Kharim joined the Harmonium, Aurelius is with the Fraternity of Order, Tulany is a member of the Free League (though she's considering switching to the Athar), Daegan is with the Bleak Cabal, Cassius and Kai are both with the Transcendent Order, and Mubarak with with the Society of Sensation. The only one still without a faction is Eirik, and he's thinking of joining with The Fated.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    A Hardhead, a Guvner, an Indep, a Bleaker, two Ciphers, and a Sensate, all working together. It's beautiful.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    A Hardhead, a Guvner, an Indep, a Bleaker, two Ciphers, and a Sensate, all working together. It's beautiful.
    I'm sure this will go well when the Faction Wars inevitably happen

    The Field of Nettles - Part 2
    In which the Heroes encounter a knight from Hell, and they learn the Dark of the battlefield.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Four
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    The party left the hill of bodies and continued on their journey. They came upon a small city made of smoke which hovered above a pit of greasy fire. Curious, the party climbed up a ladder to go investigate. It was a welcome relief to walk on spongey smoke instead of squishy fiend bodies. Once inside the city, the party found a pack of minor tanar'ri and cambions (led by a maralith) scouring the city in search of something. However, the demons' chaotic search pattern meant they would need a lot of time to find whatever they were looking for. The city's inhabitants, a large number of skittish smoke mephits, told the PCs that the demons were looking for a knight from Baator. He was a survivor from the great battle, and the tanar'ri wanted to find him before the yugoloths arrived to clean up.

    Tulany managed to find the baatezu, a bearded devil wearing black full plate, hidden in an abandoned house. He was badly wounded, and barely able to stand, but nevertheless he took a fighting posture with his broken glaive. While Kharim and Daegan argued about whether or not to kill him, Soraya waited for someone to heal the wounded fiend. When even Kai seemed reluctant to do so, Soraya proved her goodie-two-shoes nature and healed the wounded devil. The devil knight, who introduced himself as O'ja, just grumbled about being made a debtor.

    The party decided to smuggle O'ja out of the city in exchange for his help getting into the baatezu war camp. He agreed, and so the players spent the next half hour debating on whether to sneak back to the ladder or to jump off the edge of the city and Feather Fall down. Decision paralysis can be real sometimes.

    Eventually, the party fed O'ja a potion of Invisibility and decided to sneak their way back to the ladder. Rather, they hid O'ja in the middle of the group and walked back to the ladder, as the tanar'ri had been too busy searching the city to pay the PCs much attention. Guarding the ladder was a cambion in a nice white suit, and he had a half-dozen lackeys with him. I did my best Kimblee impression as the party tried to smooth-talk their way out of the situation. Not!Kimblee agreed to let them pass, but he made them promise to take a special bronze coin with them and deliver it to Rule-Of-Three when they got back to Sigil. Unfortunately for Sharwyn, none of the PCs seemed to recognize the significance of this. Oh well. I'm sure she'll be fine.

    The party left the city, and the next day encountered a pair of piscoloths (lobster fiends with scorpion tails) forcing human prisoners to dig a trench to drain a lake of blood. Any who collapsed from exhaustion were thrown into the pool and devoured by the ravenous nettle roots. The PCs would not stand for such atrocities, and they charged into the fight to save the POWs. Finally, a real fight!

    Well, it would've been a real fight, but piscoloths have trash saving throws. Oh well. The PCs got to look cool and feel like heroes, so it all worked out.

    The party gave the survivors a small armory of spare equipment (read: vendor trash) and gave them directions back to Xaos, using the same portal they had sent Rhellyn the legion fiend. Thankfully, Tulany rolled very well on her Survival check to give the POWs directions, so all fourteen survivors made it back to Xaos!

    Despite how often I tease my players for making poor life choices, they do have the best of intentions at heart

    Anyway, the PCs finally made it to the baatezu war camp. It was little more than a pile of rubble, but at least it was well-organized pile of rubble. O'ja helped steer the PCs to what was left of the strategy building. They had a brief run-in with Spino and his spinagon lackeys, but the party just spooked them off like feral cats. Inside the building, they found a series of heavy urns, all but one of which were trapped with Fireball spells. The party carefully searched the untrapped urn, and found the baatezu battle plans sketched out on a well-crafted scroll of eladrin flesh. Why the plans were in the only untrapped urn is beyond me, but hey, I'm not going to question devil logic.

    The battle plans detailed the baatezu strategy for the next 100 days of The Blood War. Looking over the battle plans carefully, the PCs discovered two things of great significance: Avernus was under heavy siege by demonic forces, and the millions of dead fiends here at the Field of Nettles was just a feint to draw the demons away from Baator. The party decided this was too important to just hand over to Spiral, who would likely sell the plans to the highest bidder, so the party made two copies of the map. One was to be delivered to Mount Celestia in an effort to petition the heavens to send aid against the demons, and the other was given to O'ja so he could report back to General Bel and Lady Zariel. Once that was done, the party cut off the part about Avernus and seared the flesh scroll, intending to deliver the damaged original to Spiral.

    One trip over the River Styx later (Daegan surprised the marraenaloth by thanking him for safe passage), the party split up to report their findings. The silver-tongued half of the group went to give Spiral the damaged report, while the holier types went to Mount Celestia. Lady Azriel, the sword archon the party had met previously, graciously accepted the information and promised to petition the higher levels of Celestia to send aid to Avernus. She explained that the celestials could not help directly, as the overwhelming fiendish energy would certainly corrupt them, but they always had a host of petitioners and mortal warriors who could aid in the fight. Things went surprisingly well with Spiral as well. He accepted the report with only a whiff of suspicion, and he paid the party in full. He also said he would have further work for them in the future, but that's an adventure for another time.

    TL;DR - Sometimes, being the big dang heroes pays off.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Well, you know what they say...the Baatezu is in the details.

    (Also, what's a Kimblee?)

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Well, you know what they say...the Baatezu is in the details.

    (Also, what's a Kimblee?)
    A Kimblee is a sociopathic blaster caster and one heckuva smooth criminal.



    He's also a secondary antagonist in Fullmetal Alchemist
    Last edited by AllHailthed4; 2021-08-18 at 12:20 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    DrowGirl

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    Ah, you're a fellow of culture, as well! ;)

    though would you say the characterization was closer to the manga/Brotherhood or the original Anime
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  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by GravityEmblem View Post
    Ah, you're a fellow of culture, as well! ;)

    though would you say the characterization was closer to the manga/Brotherhood or the original Anime
    I'd say closer to Brotherhood, but I'm no expert.

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    DrowGirl

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    Well, the Manga had him as more of a suave, disempathetic killer, while the first anime adaptation made him a straight-up nutcase psycho. So, yeah, Brotherhood.
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Alright, this one is a bit of a doozy and it needs some context for it to make sense. This group of players has, in one iteration or another, been playing together for several years now. We have a soft agreement that anything the group does is considered canon for our group. We like to do this because it adds a sense of accomplishment to the campaigns, and so we don't repeat modules. This has been a lot of fun for us (two of the players consider tracking timelines and family trees to be hobbies), but it can sometimes lead to some peculiar situations. For the sake of brevity, I'll only detail the adventures which directly influenced this session. I promise, the session won't make a lot of sense without a little knowledge of my group's past activities.

    Spoiler: Spelljammer and Forgotten Realms
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    The first factor is a Spelljammer campaign I ran a while ago. I'll try not to go too far down the rabbit hole on this one. One of the PCs' backstories involved her mother fleeing from the Sword Coast aboard a space pirate's ship because she had been illegally selling off-planet firearms in Waterdeep. The PC wanted to learn more about Faerun and possibly make amends for her mother's criminal actions. At the time, my knowledge of Faerun came only from the Baldur's Gate video games and a couple of R.A. Salvatore books I had read in the 6th grade, so I was on-board to learn more about the setting alongside my players.

    The first thing we figured out was that it was definitely The Harpers that chased her off the planet. Their long-term aim is to recreate the "perfect" society of the elven empire of Myth Draenor, because every good idea has already been had by them. This means that every idea not had by the extinct elves of Myth Draenor is a bad idea by default. Without too much of a stretch of imagination, it looked to us like the Harpers were actively stopping the advance of civilization, especially since they seemed to be the reason why most of Faerun hasn't advanced past the city-state level. The fact that the Harpers organized themselves as a grassroots movement with a decentralized powerbase, and were more than willing to use violence against anyone who didn't agree with them, rang a few uncomfortable bells. Then we learned Elminster was a Harper, and the group's opinion of Faerun went from bad to worse.

    We dug into Elminster's lore, and we were driven mad by the revelation didn't like him very much. I'll summarize what we found in as brief a manner as possible. Elminster's goddess girlfriend, Mystra, possessed a mortal woman and seduced a ranger who had been pining for this woman. They were together for several years and had six daughters, all with magic powers and silver hair. However, Mystra's divine energy had char-broiled the woman from the inside out, and so the seventh baby was going to kill the host body. The ranger finally figured out what was going on, and fled into the woods, turning his back on magic forever. I can only assume he ran laughing into the darkness like a Mythos detective after losing a few too many sanity points. Mystra was desperate to save the life of the seventh daughter, so she found a pregnant drow, and used her divine power to simultaneously disintegrate the unborn drow child while replacing it with her seventh daughter. The rest of the daughters got dumped on Elminster's doorstep, and things got even worse from there. I'll try not to get too deep in the weeds, but suffice to say Elminster convinced the girls to start up The Harpers (decentralized grassroots organization my butt), and when they "came of age" he seduced one of them and she became his lover. I get that Elminster isn't her biological father, but come on, he slept with his adopted daughter and that's atrocious.

    This information shifted the campaign's focus from "let's be space pirates!" to "let's build an army and drop tungsten rods on the Sword Coast!". Unfortunately, the campaign ended before we could get to that point, as one of the PCs opened fire on an Elven Imperial Fleet battlecruiser, which resulted in the loss of the group's main ship and almost all of the crew.

    Spoiler: Curse of Strahd and The Dracula Dossier
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    This is the other relevant piece of group history. This also happens to be one of the few times when I wasn't the DM, so make of that what you will. I don't have as many notes on this one, but the Curse of Strahd game was odd even by our standards. The party was bananas (a kenku werewolf, an axe murderer, and a WH40k space marine were only a few of the PCs involved), the tone was less "Gothic Horror" and more "Spooky's House of Jumpscares", and the DM had a "me vs. them" mentality throughout the entire game. IIRC, the only PC that lived through the game from start to finish was the space marine. Anyway, that's all to say that the campaign ended with Strahd as a pile of ash. However, one of the PCs smuggled his ashes back to her home world to later revive him outside of Barovia. No, that's not how Ravenloft works, but just roll with it for now.

    This led to a modified version of The Dracula Dossier set on that world. This game is, to put it very briefly, spies vs. Dracula. Just replace every instance of "Count Dracula" with "Strahd von Zarovich" for our game, and you have the gist of what was going on. Unfortunately, that campaign was doomed during character creation. Everyone knew it was going to be a spy game, so a lot of stealth, espionage, and undercover operations were going to be had. However, everyone simultaneously assumed everyone else would roll up the smart/charismatic characters, so everyone rolled up a heavy combat character. When the party was assembled it looked more like "The Expendables" than James Bond or Jason Bourne. The party's pet wyrmling had the highest intelligence in the group. We dropped the campaign after most of the party got wiped out trying to storm the front gates of a black-ops military site.

    We still have plans to come back to this idea someday, but with more communication between players during character creation. However, that left Strahd stranded outside of Barovia partying it up with drug lords on the Danube River.


    Big Trouble in Little Barovia
    In which the Heroes make some unusual allies, and peculiar plans are set in motion.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Five
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    The session began with Kharim asking Fall-From-Grace about her time in the Blood War, and how she managed to escape. She told him about how she had served as a spy against the tanar'ri, and how her life had been spared by a merciful human cleric. She had followed him out of the darkness, and after many years of toil had managed to reclaim her soul and cast off her infernal shackles. She hopes to one day be allowed into Mount Celestia, even if only for a brief time.

    Medea came by to say hello to the party, and she spent a few minutes talking with the group. She and her unit had been recalled back to Sigil when Avernus came under siege by a tanar'ri army, massive even by Blood War standards. She was clearly disturbed by her time spent in Baator, but the party decided not to press the issue. She invited them to attend Fortitude's ascension, and they promised they would be there for her big moment.

    With chatting and breakfast taken care of, the party decided now would be their best opportunity to help Hibana separate Kara-Tur from Toril. They didn't really have a plan on how to do it, but they figured they could find a way once they were in Faerun. It would also be a great opportunity for Aurelius and Tulany to speak to Madam Eva about dreams and curses, as Barovia was currently attached to the Sword Coast. Rowena insisted on accompanying the party as well (she was being piloted by a guest player with a serious bone to pick with Elminster), and Linvala agreed to meet up with the party at a later time. The group took a portal to Athkatla, and from there decided to hoof it to Barovia, being warned by the locals in Athkatla about roaming packs of werewolves coming out of the Barovian forests.

    Getting into Barovia is always easier than getting out, so the party had little trouble making their way to Barovia Village. Ten years had passed since the events of "Curse of Strahd", and the village was flourishing in its own gothic way. The party asked for Madam Eva's whereabouts, and the locals informed them to check Tser Pool, as the old woman rarely left that area. Madam Eva proved easy enough to find, and the party asked her many questions.

    She explained that Barovia had been attached to the Sword Coast ever since the Devil Strahd disappeared, and this upset her greatly. Elminster and the Harpers had been forcing changes upon the whole of the Demiplane of Dread, making it conform more to their ideals, and there was nothing that could be done so long as Barovia remained attached. Madam Eva needed Strahd back in Barovia to seal its borders and allow Ravenloft to move away from Faerun, else the entire plane might be corrupted to fit Elminster's "sensibilities". As much as Eva hated Strahd, the only other option was to have a new Darklord take over Barovia and seal its borders. She agreed to teach Aurelius lucid dreaming if the PCs managed to separate Barovia from the Sword Coast. To this end, she offered two allies the party could use. The first was Mordenkainen, a legendary wizard from Greyhawk whose power was matched only by his poor decision making. The second was Arabella, a young Vistani who was the last surviving descendant of Strahd von Zarovich.

    Tulany asked Madam Eva about her trinket, which was an old Tarot card with a painting of Tulany on it. She had received the card as a gift from her aunt and mentor, a horizon walker NPC from the previous campaign. Eva suspected the card was of Vistani creation, and possibly from the missing tribe which vanished from Borca many generations ago (as an aside, in a Ravenloft campaign I ran a very long time ago, one player led a large group of Vistani out of Ravenloft and into a quiet little world on the Prime; this world eventually became the group's default homebrew setting). Eva warned her that it might be a calling from Ivana and Ivan, the co-Darklords of Borca, but Tulany would only find out for certain if she traveled there herself. Madam Eva offered to take her there once Barovia was separated from Faerun.

    Speaking with Mordenkainen, the party soon realized he was still a touch barmy from the time Strahd threw him off a cliff. He had been nursed back to health by Storm Silverhand, figurehead leader of the Harpers and one of Elminster's adopted daughters, but he hadn't seen her since his return to Barovia. He was concerned about the current situation, both in regards to Barovia still being here and the goings-on of the Blood War. While normally such things were none of his business, even he knew how dire the Blood War was getting if the Baatezu were dragging whole cities into Baator just for reinforcements. He explained that a city from each major Prime world had been pulled into Baator, and he was "observing the situation" in case he needed to step in so he could "preserve the balance". When asked about Hibana's situation, he suggested doing some quest in exchange for Elminster releasing Kara-Tur back to its own world. In regards to Barovia, he posited that the only reason Elminster was "good" was because of Mystra's slavish devotion to protect him. He suggested luring Elminster to Barovia, where is divine protection wouldn't function, and just let the Dark Powers snatch him up and use him as the new Darklord of Barovia. Mordenkainen even went so far as to suggest using Arabelle as bait, since "Elminster's one weakness is pretty girls with magic powers". The party thought it was a reasonable basis for a plan, but not everyone was comfortable with the idea of using an innocent young woman as bait. As for dealing with Strahd, he just said to "put it off and deal with it later".

    Kharim asked Mordenkainen about The Chalice that Soraya had been dreaming about, and the archmage gave him the runaround, spouting the same story three different ways. It was a story Kharim already knew, but it was pretty obvious Mordenkainen knew more than he was telling. Perhaps he'd let more information slip later.

    With a slightly barmy archmage in tow, the party headed off down the road, setting their sights on the home of Elminster himself.

    TL;DR - Things get weird, and canon is pushed to the breaking point.
    Last edited by SleepyShadow; 2021-08-25 at 01:19 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    He explained that a city from each major Prime world had been pulled into Baator
    Oh, no, even Dragonlance? I can only guess which city it might have been.

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Oh, no, even Dragonlance? I can only guess which city it might have been.
    Yup, even Dragonlance. The Baatezu stole Port Schallsea!

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Well, at least it wasn't Palanthas again.

    Hopefully all the mystics in Schallsea can help keep the devils at bay. If Goldmoon is still alive, then the Baatezu are probably regretting their decision right about now.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Hopefully all the mystics in Schallsea can help keep the devils at bay. If Goldmoon is still alive, then the Baatezu are probably regretting their decision right about now.
    The Baatezu are regretting a lot of things right now

    Elturel Has Fallen
    In which our Heroes make a deal with an archmage, and Baator's desperation becomes clear.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Six
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    On their way back to Barovia Village, the party gets attacked by a pack of werewolves in the company of a psychotic revenant. This revenant was El Chapo, a surviving PC from our train wreck Curse of Strahd game. Don't worry, I asked the player before using their character. El Chapo was a serial killer in life, so not much changed now that he was dead. At any rate, the party fought off the werewolf pack while Mordenkainen used Dimension Door to find a good hiding place, citing a lack of spell slots as his reason for not helping in combat. The battle wasn't terribly difficult, but it was a good chance for the PCs to flex. Once the fight was over, the party dragged El Chapo's armor back to the Vistani camp and gave it to their resident artificer, an old aasimar named Avilius who was there when Strahd disappeared. He explained that the armor belonged to him back when he first arrived in Ravenloft, but he didn't have much need for it now. He made a deal with Aurelius, teaching him how to upgrade Baldwin in exchange for the PCs returning his armor. He also offered to escort Arabelle to the edge of the mists once the party had need of her.

    Once that was settled, the PCs returned to Barovia Village without further incident. From there, they headed back to the Sword Coast proper. Finally outside of Barovia, Mordenkainen was able to Teleport the party directly to Elminster's home, which appeared to be a simple log cabin in the middle of a forest. The inside of the cabin was, naturally, much larger and more grand than the outside. The party spoke with Elminster at length, and he eventually agreed to release Kara-Tur (a place he doesn't care about) in exchange for the party bringing the city of Elturel (a place he does care about) back from Baator. He also wanted to thoroughly examine Hibana to find out how she could possibly know that Kara-Tur was once a separate world, but the party politely declined his request.

    Luckily, the Harpers are the good guys, so there won't be any repercussions from this.

    Once outside Elminster's house, Mordenkainen used Plane Shift to take the party directly to Elturel, where it hovered precariously over the River Styx, anchored to the ground by massive chains. The base of the chains were protected by makeshift Baatezu forts, which were under a massive Tanar'ri attack that threatened to overwhelm the defending devils. Aurelius sent Baldwin to scout out the city, and found that the surviving civilians were concentrated in three places. The first was a crude prison pen, where the devils had gathered up good and neutral aligned civilians to either hold for ransom or just to keep them out of the way. The second was a battered cathedral dedicated to Torm, where a resistance force was entrenched while the devils desperately tried to break in. The third was a pit of maggots watched over by a coven of night hags, where evil aligned civilians were being thrown in and fed to the maggots. When asked what this was about, Mordenkainen explained that the maggots were soul larvae, and feeding them mortal souls of a compatible alignment sped up their transformation process into Baatezu. This clue is what caused the whole situation to click for the party.

    The devils were so desperate for reinforcements that they were dragging whole cities from the Prime.

    The group parted ways from Mordenkainen for a time, as they agreed that a coven of night hags was a bit out of their weight class. The PCs instead headed to the cathedral to relieve the human defenders, while Mordenkainen went to go stop the night hags. The PCs fought through a couple waves of fiends, including a female chain devil who wanted to introduce Daegan to "the pleasures of pain" (nobody at the table got my Hellraiser reference), but eventually the devils scattered against the PCs onslaught, and the remaining fiends at the cathedral withdrew. The surviving humans in the cathedral were relieved to see the party's strength, and ushered them inside before more fiends showed up.

    TL;DR - The party went to Hell to help!

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    To be fair, I wouldn't have gotten that Hellraiser reference either.

  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by SleepyShadow View Post
    Now that I've listed the party members, I'm realizing just how many orphans are in the group.
    I've never been able to tell if this tendency is (a) so the players don't have to make up a lot of backstory, (b) to explain not being tied to a location, (c) to avoid giving the DM a big flashing neon target sign, or (d) all of the above.

    Always glad to see a PS fan, I will enjoy catching up on this journal
    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    As always, the planes prove to be awesomer than I expected.
    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    Logic just does not fit in with the real world. And only the guilty throw fallacy's around.
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  17. - Top - End - #107
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    DrowGirl

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    In my last game, all of the players had parents, and all of them met them over the course of the campaign. It was a lot of fun! I'd definitely recommend giving yourself family next time you play, haha.
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    To be fair, only three of the eight PCs (Eirik, Mubarak, and Cassius) are orphans, and they all have giant glowing neon targets adopted family members to round out their backstories.

    For example, IIRC, Eirik is a minor noble from an impoverished, war-torn country. His parents gave him up to a high level adventurer in the hopes that she would have the resources to raise him well so that he could one day come back and help rebuild Sterich.

    The rest of the characters' families run the gamut from nuclear (Tulany and Kai), to happily blended (Kharim and Rey), to completely disfunctional (ask serpentalis about Daegan).
    Last edited by AllHailthed4; 2021-09-04 at 04:33 PM.

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    Descent Into Castlevania
    In which the Heroes meet another fabled person from the Sword Coast, and a contract with Old Scratch is made.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Seven
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    Inside the cathedral, the party was greeted by Pharria, a young traveling priestess who had come to Elturel when the fiendish troubles first began, and had become the de facto leader of the hundred or so survivors hiding there. The party explored the upper part of the cathedral, and helped her organize the survivors into a more defensible group. They found two important things while poking around - a drunken but capable warrior named Trevick loitering around a pipe organ, and fifty flasks worth of holy water. The party got the more combat-capable survivors to the windows and gave them standing orders to pour holy water on any fiend that approached the cathedral.

    Once their exploration was complete, Pharria explained that Captain Ravenguard, a paladin of Torm, had gone into the crypts beneath the cathedral shortly after the city had been pulled into Avernus. He told her about "The Tomb of the Unknown Hero" where a weapon was hidden. Unfortunately, Ravenguard had not returned, and Pharria was worried that he had run afoul of some trap or monster. The PCs offered to go find him, while Pharria and Trevick stayed topside to fight off the fiends which were regrouping for another assault on the cathedral.

    The party poked around in the catacombs for a while, and eventually ran across a knife-wielding necromancer commanding a pack of fiends. The PCs kept the baddies divided, and only the necromancer himself proved to be much of a challenge. Shortly after the necromancer fell, a squad of abyssal minotaurs attacked the party, and they put up a bit more of a fight. Once all the fiends were dealt with, the party uncovered the Tomb of the Unknown Hero, where Captain Ravenguard lay immobile on the floor in front of an ornate sarcophagus. Daegan and Aurelius soon deduced it was the captain's helmet causing his paralysis, and our favorite Witcher blood hunter took it off the man. While Ravenguard was recovering, Daegan got pulled into a communication with Asmodeus, Lord of Baator. It turned out Ravenguard's helmet normally allowed for direct communication with Torm, but Asmodeus had hijacked the signal and had been offering a deal to the desperate paladin. A deal he now generously offered to Daegan.

    Asmodeus felt that Zariel had overstepped her reach by pulling Elturel into Avernus. He didn't care about the other cities, and was glad to have a fresh source of souls, but he wanted Elturel returned to the Prime before the Celestial reinforcements the PCs had petitioned for arrived. He explained that Elminster had long ago imprisoned an Astral Deva within the city, and Asmodeus didn't need the celestials getting the wrong idea. He offered to delay the Baatezu retaliation against the cathedral in exchange for Daegan's binding word that he would return Elturel to Faerun before the angelic host arrived. Daegan reluctantly agreed, and Asmodeus offered two pieces of information to assist the party in their task. The first was the sword built into the sarcophagus. It was an adamantine greatsword capable of cutting through the chains which tethered Elturel to Avernus. The second was the person inside the coffin - Jander Sunstar, a nosferatu who had once been mentored by Strahd von Zarovich.

    The party released Jander from his sealed sarcophagus, and made the mistake of asking him how he got there. Jander started at the beginning, giving the tragic tale of his transformation into the undead and how he got pulled into the Mists of Ravenloft after he slaughtered an insane asylum when his girlfriend died. Strahd took him in, taught him magic, and then Jander betrayed Strahd when he realized his girlfriend had been a reincarnation of Tatyana (the woman Strahd is fixated on). His betrayal went about as well as could be expected, and Jander and his new lady-friends barely escaped with their lives. Jander tried to off himself via sunlight, but found out that sunlight doesn't kill nosferatu. The Mists dumped Jander back on Faerun, where he joined forces with Zariel back when she was still a solar, and they rode into Hell alongside faithful paladins of Torm. Jander panicked at some point during the battles in Hell, and allowed Zariel to be captured by Asmodeus so he could escape. After his escape, he pled to Lathander for forgiveness, but Jander had by this point ticked off three different gods in just one career. He awoke trapped inside the coffin until he was released by mortal hands.

    The party didn't really take a shine to Jander.

    We ended the session with the group back in the cathedral proper, scheming with Trevick, Pharria, and Jander on how to free the city while fighting off hordes of Baatezu and Tanar'ri.

    TL;DR - With only minimal changes to a prewritten WotC adventure, we accidentally made a Netflix show.

  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Never a Belmont when you need one.

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    oh, don't worry. we have the knockoff Belmont Trevick to fortify the cathedral door with a single bookshelf!
    squidhound

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    The Cost of Victory
    In which the Heroes are triumphant, but an Ally is lost.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Eight
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    The party split into two teams, one to stay at the cathedral and protect the survivors, while the other went with Jander to fight off the fiends while he cut the chains which tethered the city to Avernus. Team Cathedral was Daegan, Kharim, Rowena, and Mubarak, while Team Sunstar was Aurelius, Kai, Hibana, and Tulany. Cassius couldn't make it to this session.

    Team Cathedral had an easy time, for the most part. They squared off against a group of cultists and their lead fiend - none other than Spino the Spinagon! The baddies put up a decent fight, but stock Monster Manual critters seem to struggle when punching in their own weight class. Rowena managed to slay Spino with a critical Guiding Bolt, and because we're in Baator the poor little guy finally died for good. RIP Spino. The second group of baddies was a horde of fiendish giant crabs led by a Chain Devil. This fight was dubbed "Crab Rave" by Daegan, and who am I to argue? The Chain Devil got in a few good hits, and at one point she was threatening to drop three party members, but Mubarak gave the signal to the citizens in the cathedral, and they doused her with a half-dozen vials of holy water, which softened her up enough to let Kharim and Rowena finish her off.

    Team Sunstar also had an easy go of things. They had to fight off a group of bearded devils and spinogons, plus they rescued a woman from a trio of barbed devils. The woman was a scout sent from the cathedral a few days ago who had tried to break into the holding pen and rescue some prisoners, but her team had been wiped out by the devils there. She was the only one who hadn't been captured or killed, and she had only managed to rescue a pair of children. After the fighting was over, Hibana was sent back to the cathedral with the children while the woman (whose name was Harkina) stayed with the group to help out. Shortly after Jander finished cutting through the chain, Aurelius was contacted by Bel, the General of Hell. Bel wanted the party to come collect Mordenkainen. Since the PCs knew that Asmodeus would only hold up his end of the bargain if both Jander and Mordenkainen were returned to the Prime, the group hustled to meet with Bel before the city broke free. Bel agreed to release Mordenkainen into their custody if they explained why there was such a fuss to return Elturel to Faerun when the other cities that had been captured weren't receiving the urgent attention of so many planeswalkers. Reluctantly, Aurelius told him about the angel held captive within the city, and how the celestial reinforcements would likely turn on the baatezu if they found out about it. Bel was pleased to hear about this (he could use the information to discredit Zariel, and possibly get his old job back), and handed Mordenkainen over without a fuss.

    By the time Team Sunstar made it back to the cathedral, the city had broken free of the other two chains. The whole thing rocketed back through the portal and slammed back into place on the Prime. The party checked to make sure nobody had gotten injured in the transition (only Trevick had, who took a bookshelf to the face during the ascent), and they celebrated their hard-won victory by sleeping in the church for the rest of the day. Afterwards, they headed out of Elturel so that Mordenkainen could teleport them back to Elminster's house. Hibana was thrilled that she would finally be able to have her homeland restored to its proper state. There were so many places she wanted to take her friends, and she was especially excited to show Kharim the fabled Wishing Cliffs, one of the most beautiful places in all of Kara-Tur. It was very cute.

    Once back at Elminster's abode, the party met Storm Silverhand, one of the archmage's adopted daughters and the leader of the Harpers. Mordenkainen was a little awkward around her (she was the one who nursed him back to health after Strahd threw him off a cliff), but Storm was a genuinely pleasant person to be around. The party took a liking to her, and a few of them immediately started scheming on ways to get her out from under Elminster's thumb. Kai in particular seemed to enjoy her company, and they talked over a cup of tea while the rest of the party kept Mordenkainen from stealing out of the liquor cabinet.

    Eventually, Elminster met with the party and agreed to petition Mystra for the release of Kara-Tur. However, there was a caveat. He wanted to study Hibana's mind to he could learn how she found out the truth about Kara-Tur. Kharim was particularly reluctant, but there did not seem to be any other option. They followed Elminster into his laboratory, where Daegan found a new friend. A sentient ooze was being held in a giant flask, and Daegan immediately felt sorry for the poor creature. While Elminster prepared his ritual spell, Daegan and Rowena plotted with Mordenkainen on how to free the ooze. Mordenkainen cast Silence on the flask, and Daegan pushed it off the shelf. Rowena brushed the broken glass under a bookshelf, and the ooze hid as best it could until they could sneak it into a bag of holding.

    Elminster cast his spell, and Hibana dropped to the ground, completely unconscious. Kharim was about ready to throw down with Mystra's Chosen, but the party managed to drag him away. Elminster nonchalantly told them to come back in the morning after he had time to study Hibana's memories. Kharim carried the unconscious girl in his arms, and the party hurried out of the house before any more trouble got stirred up. Tulany suggested waiting for morning in Barovia, but the rest of the party wasn't interested in spending time in Ravenloft beyond what was strictly necessary. Now completely on edge, the party also didn't want to spend the night on the Sword Coast, just in case the Harpers came after them for some perceived slight against their beloved archmage. Mordenkainen suggested going to "the one place that hasn't been corrupted by capitalism Elminster... Krynn!"

    The party agreed, and one Plane Shift later they sought shelter at a temple of Paladine. When the party told their story to the knight-on-duty ("the girl was bewitched by an evil wizard" "we were betrayed", etc.), he was brought to manly tears at the sorry state of poor Hibana. The session ended with the group taking shifts watching over Hibana while she remained comatose.

    TL;DR - The party won, and also lost.

  23. - Top - End - #113
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    Krynn is a great place to take a short breather. Unless it's during one of its many world-shattering wars or apocalypses, that is.

  24. - Top - End - #114
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    We've had some history with Krynnspace in our old Spelljammer campaign. It's a nice place. The party's initial inability to remember the name Krynn resulted in our continual references to the "The Paladins of Paladine, in Palspace", to SleepyShadow's eternal suffering. Somehow we were never smited into an oblivion for our misdeeds.
    Last edited by Cerrita; 2021-09-22 at 11:31 AM.
    Princess Battle Flower

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    Krynn is a great place to take a short breather. Unless it's during one of its many world-shattering wars or apocalypses, that is.
    Agreed. Thankfully, it only seems to have an apocalypse every once in a while

    Make a Wish
    In which our Heroes offer up more than they bargained for, and find that old magic still holds sway in certain realms.
    Spoiler: Session Twenty-Nine
    Show
    The party returned to Elminster's house, where they politely declined Storm's offer of tea and less-than-politely spoke with Elminster about his treatment of Hibana. Kharim, in particular, was irate with the archmage. Understandable, too, as Elminster had robbed Hibana of her mind. The archmage relented, so he restored Hibana's mind, then used Plane Shift to send her to New Kara-Tur before she could regain consciousness. When confronted about it, he explained that he had simply removed memories that "conflicted" with the "new reality" of New Kara-Tur. He didn't want an entire world's worth of people angry at Faerun, so Elminster called upon Mystra to rewrite the memories of everyone living in Kara-Tur to believe it had always been its own world. Kharim accused him of being a control freak, so Elminster responded in a completely logical fashion.

    He cast Time Stop, walked to the other side of the room, cast Delayed Blast Fireball, and blew poor Kharim to smithereens. Somehow Kharim didn't die, but the message was sent to the rest of the party. Elminster was absolutely a control freak, and confronting him about it had dangerous consequences.

    Kai got Kharim back to consciousness while the rest of the party kept Elminster distracted with talk about the Demiplane of Dread. He was intrigued by the idea of meeting with Strahd's last living relative, and agreed to meet them outside of Barovia's borders later that day. When asked why he was so interested in Ravenloft, he explained that he wanted to change it to meet with his own personal standards, but the nature of the Demiplane of Dread made it impossible to make grand sweeping changes. Rather, he had sent Harper Agents into the Mists to slowly change the place from within.

    The party quickly skedaddled, pausing only long enough to explain to Storm what the explosion had been. She was appalled that her father had attacked the party, but she was certain he had a good reason for his actions. She apologized on his behalf, and used some healing magic on Kharim to show her sincerity. She was also alarmed that Elminster had gone behind her back and used the Harpers (the organization she was ostensibly in charge of) to enact his plans in Ravenloft without telling her. Several furious Insight checks were rolled, and all results came back positive. Storm continued to be a genuinely nice person, which only furthered the party's interest in getting her away from Elminster.

    The party cajoled Mordenkainen into taking them to New Kara-Tur so they could check on Hibana. One Planeshift later, the party headed to a seaside monastery while Mordenkainen and Jander lurked around a nearby town. After a bit of communication difficulties, the party eventually got inside the monastery and spoke with Hibana. She didn't recognize any of them. The party did their best not to cry when she introduced herself to them as if they were complete strangers. They chatted for a little while, but eventually they left the monastery.

    Getting a wild idea, Aurelius asked one of the locals about the Wishing Cliffs. According to local legend, the Wishing Cliffs could grant wishes, but only to those who leapt from the cliffs into the mist below. After getting some directions, the party began the arduous climb up to the tiny village built by the cliffs. Once there, Aurelius threw himself off the cliff, wishing to undo Elminster's magic on the people of Kara-Tur. Rowena jumped with him, wishing only for Aurelius to be alright. The wish went as intended, restoring everyone's memories of their lives back on Faerun. Unfortunately, they still remembered the false memories that had been planted in their minds to craft the rewritten history of New Kara-Tur. Mass panic broke out across the globe, as people struggled to come to terms with having two lifetimes worth of memories. Seeing the chaos, Kharim leapt from the Wishing Cliffs, wishing to undo Aurelius' wish and restore peace to Kara-Tur. Again, the wish was successful, and the people returned to having only memories compatible with New Kara-Tur.

    At the bottom of the cliff, the three jumpers realized they had lost something in exchange for their wishes. Kharim had lost his peace of mind, as the vestige Deception was now talking in his head. Rowena was now being hunted by something tracking her across the planes, though she didn't yet know what was after her. Aurelius had paid the heaviest price, as he had completely lost his warlock powers.

    As an aside, Aurelius' player was planning on redoing some of his levels, so his "price" was largely an in-game justification for retraining levels. I'm not heartless enough to arbitrarily remove people's class features.

    The party headed back to the monastery to see if Hibana had survived the chaos. She had, and was pleasantly surprised to see the party again. In the few minutes where everyone in Kara-Tur remembered their old lives, Hibana had written a letter to the PCs. She didn't remember writing it, but she had come to her senses with it written and sealed in an envelope addressed to "the planeswalkers". She gave it to them, and the party again did their best not to cry when they departed from the monastery.

    The letter thanked them for everything, and she apologized for being unable to keep adventuring with them. She knew she wouldn't remember any of them, but hoped that they wouldn't forget her. She said she would miss them.

    The party met back up with Mordenkainen and Jander, and together the group headed back to Faerun for what the PCs hoped would be the final time. On their way to Barovia, Kai and Tulany contacted Avilius via Sending, instructing him to smuggle Arabelle out of Barovia's borders. Once at the border, they met up with Elminster, and Mordenkainen led the archmage into the woods to the spot Avilius had last been. The party waited outside for a couple of hours, but Ravenloft's misty borders were still open. Confused why Barovia hadn't snapped shut, Aurelius and Daegan put their heads together to seek out any sort of magical effects keeping the borders open. After a few Arcana checks and an Identify spell, they realized that Elminster was using True Name magic to keep the Dark Powers from claiming their new prize. Alarmed by this, the party split up to desperately come up with a solution. Half the group raced back to Madam Eva's camp in the hope that the old diviner would have some useful information (Kai also contacted Avilius to have him and Arabelle meet back up with the party), while the other half Teleported back to Elminster's house with Jander to ransack the archmage's laboratory for anything that could help them undo the True Name effect in place.

    TL;DR - Sadness abounds.

  26. - Top - End - #116
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    When the party jumped off the Wishing Cliffs:

    Spoiler: animated gif
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  27. - Top - End - #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by JadedDM View Post
    When the party jumped off the Wishing Cliffs:

    Spoiler: animated gif
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    Oof, that's hilariously accurate

    Faerun, We Hardly Knew Ye
    In which our Heroes make an unlikely ally, and a face of the Realms is brought low.
    Spoiler: Session Thirty
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    Daegan, Aurelius, Rowena, and Kai bluffed their way past Storm Silverhand to gain access to Elminster's lab, but they were stymied by the unusual arcane ward which sealed the door. Rather than try to gain entry through trail and error or brute force, the PCs just asked Storm if she knew how to open the door. She explained that she had never been down in the lab without Elminster's company, and that he used a vial of red liquid to bypass the wards. Daegan suggested that Jander should lick the doorknob to check if it was blood, and the moody nosferatu obliged. Daegan was right, it was blood, and when Jander's tongue started sizzling the party guessed it was holy blood. Jander, ever the practical sort, suggested slitting Storm's throat and using her half-celestial blood to open the door. The rest of the group was understandably miffed. After a couple of good Persuasion roles, they convinced Storm to prick her finger and open the door, enticing the curious demigoddess with the secrets Elminster had been keeping from her.

    Once inside the lab, the group immediately started ransacking the place for anything related to True Naming (Daegan's new ooze friend just pilfered random trinkets). During their search, Kai stumbled upon some medical equipment, and he was appalled at lack of widespread medical knowledge that could be used to save countless lives. Storm said there was little need for such knowledge, since clerics were always available to offer healing. Kai argued that people should have more options than just picking between high-priced clerical services and herbal remedies from hedge witches. Storm was easily swayed, as nobody scored less than a 20 on any Persuasion check made to convince her of anything. This trend continued for the rest of the session.

    Back in Barovia at the Tser Pool, Kharim, Tulany, Eirik, and Cassius met back up with Avilius and Arabelle and discussed what to do next. The rangers had both noticed the natural environment had been fighting against their travel, indicating the Dark Powers were up to something. Madam Eva described it as a "shadow over Barovia". Eirik had the old witch tell his fortune, since he had missed out on that last time the party was here, and she advised him to do everything he could to "protect the daughter of darkness". Eirik figured she was talking about Sharwyn, but decided to keep that to himself for now. Still feeling rather gloomy, Kharim decided to hang out with the Vistani playing sad songs on his violin while the others prepared for the inevitable confrontation with Elminster. This was also the first time the party had gotten the chance to meet Arabelle, the last living member of the Zarovich bloodline. Although she was only distantly related, the young woman was convinced she was destined to be the heir to Barovia and guide it in a new and prosperous direction.

    They were soon rejoined by the lab team (who used a scroll of Teleportation stolen from Elminster's lab), and they informed the crew that Elminster had only managed to acquire the True Name of one of the Dark Powers, and that it was reversible with the right utterance. The party had figured out that the Dark Power in question was actually Tenebrous, the divine shadow of Orcus. It was all coming together now. The party reckoned Orcus had sensed his shadow being messed with "like some kind of evil Peter Pan" and had instigated the massive assault on Avernus as a ploy to get to the Sword Coast. The party figured that if they could undo the True Naming on Tenebrous, Orcus would revert back to his usual level of apathy and pull his forces back to his realm on the Abyss, giving the Baatezu and the Celestials the breathing room they desperately needed. Tulany also had the idea to alert the local wereravens to the possibility of Nekrothepta being in the area (she wasn't, but it was a fantastic idea and I wish I had thought of using her).

    Kai contacted Mordenkainen to find out where he and Elminster were, and the archmage said that the forest had guided them to Castle Ravenloft (insert dramatic lightning here). With a plan of action in place, Aurelius and Daegan performed the True Naming ritual to undo the binding of Tenebrous and allow the Demiplane of Dread to retreat back into the mists, severing it from Faerun with Elminster trapped inside. Because neither of them were trained True Namers (and I don't begrudge them for that lol), there was a bit of magical backlash from the utterance. The entire party passed the Wisdom save to avoid the side-effects, but Aurelius and Daegan were very unfortunate, both suffering 4 points of Charisma damage (it was only 1d4, and I had them roll their own damage ). With Aurelius a little less social than normal, and Daegan barely recognizing himself as a person, the party set off for Castle Ravenloft.

    Before they left, Madam Eva gave them the Sun Sword, which they promptly gave to Jander because they thought it would be funny for him to lose his vampire powers every time he activated it. Storm Silverhand insisted on accompanying the party, saying that she wanted to confront her father about all of the secrets he had been hiding from her. Kai was the one to break the news to her that Elminster wasn't even her real father, a manipulative old man who had groomed her into becoming the leader of the Harpers for his own purposes. This didn't go over well, and, already unnerved thanks to her severance from Mystra's divine power, she fell into a quiet state of defeat.

    Upon arrival at Castle Ravenloft, the party found that Elminster had not taken the loss of his divine connection well, and had taken his anger out on Mordenkainen. The Archmage of Greyhawk had put up a good fight, but had ultimately fallen to Elminster's sheer firepower. Fortunately, he was only mostly dead (he was using Feign Death) and Elminster was too irate to check for tomfoolery. The party was about ready to throw down with Mystra's Chosen now that he had blown his most powerful spells taking down Mordenkainen, but the fight was interrupted before it could begin by a cloud of mist forming in a chair at the back of the room.

    We're in Ravenloft, and they really thought Strahd wasn't going to make an appearance?

    Strahd von Zarovich was amused by the presence of so many famous people, and thanked the party for letting him come home. His time away from Barovia had been fun, but he was the land, and no archmage or young usurper would take his castle from him. He instructed the party to leave Barovia and never come back, and the party was happy to oblige. Jander, however, leapt to the attack, Sun Sword in hand. The party was more than happy to let him get killed, and so left Jander and Elminster to chase Strahd around his castle while they made a clean getaway. Jander bounced from room to room, triggering traps and guardians as he went after Strahd. Without the party's help, he didn't really stand much of a chance. He was a less powerful mage than Strahd, and using the Sun Sword wasn't much of an option either, since without his vampiric strength he couldn't match Strahd in a sword duel. Elminster would normally have little trouble with Strahd, but between the loss of his clerical magic and having used his most powerful spells to bring down Mordenkainen, the running fight was a battle of attrition he couldn't keep up with. Thus, the party condemned Jander and Elminster to a slow death at the hands of Strahd von Zarovich.

    You're welcome, Daegan

    Meanwhile, the party fled back to Tser Pool, where they apologized to Madam Eva for failing to kill Strahd outside of Barovia, which is likely the only way to kill him for good. Still, they felt pretty good about ridding Faerun of Elminster and ridding themselves of Jander. Since they didn't want to risk vampiric attacks in the middle of the night while Aurelius was without his warlock powers, they left Mordenkainen in the care of the Vistani and headed into the mists, following Arabelle deeper into the Demiplane of Dread.

    TL;DR - Planeswalkers get up to weird stuff sometimes.

  28. - Top - End - #118
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    Just want to make it very clear: Daegan is currently sitting at a 4 charisma. I'm.....sure he'll be fine.
    squidhound

  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Borca Business
    In which the Heroes look for a way home, and encounter charming distractions.
    Spoiler: Session Thirty-One
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    Arabelle led the PCs into Borca, a domain characterized by three traits: poison, crushing poverty, and twin darklords. The darklords, Ivan and Ivana, were technically only cousins, but they were both born at the same time, and they each inherited half of the previous darklord's powers (and curses) when she died, so people often referred to them as twins. The party stayed at the inn of a small town for a night, where they learned the basic ins and outs of Borca from a helpful barkeep. While staying there, Daegan cajoled Kai into casting Sending in order to contact his mother, who berated him for losing track of his younger brother Adair. He didn't take that particularly well, and started eating even less than he normally did (which was barely enough to keep himself functional), despite his ooze friend, who was now dubbed Umori, attempting to feed him bacon. After resting up, the party headed for the nearest major city. Most of the party just wanted to find a way out of Ravenloft, but Tulany wanted to know more about her Tarot card, so after a day's hike through a poisonous pine forest, the party began asking locals questions.

    They bumped into a nobleman and his entourage, who teased the party for their colorful clothing before leaving. The PCs decided it wasn't worth trying to kill the guy, and kept Aurelius from punching him in the mouth. While looking for a good place to stay the night, the party met a young lad named Toby who was selling "Mr. Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" on the street corner. He tried to get Kai to buy a bottle, but the "elixir" was quickly found out to be a fraud. Cassius took pity on the lad, and offered to employ Toby while the party was in town. He was soon to regret that decision, as Toby proved to be a gin hound.

    Eventually, the party found housing at a rowdy tavern, and most of the party settled in for the night. Tulany wasn't quite ready to turn in, and so Kharim and Arabelle accompanied her to a high society establishment for a few drinks. While there, they were approached by a dashing older gentleman named Dilisnya, who was quite intrigued by the strangers. Tulany was intrigued by his claims of being an arcane scholar, and showed him her Tarot card. This piqued Dilisnya's interest further, and offered to meet with her again to discuss the card further, and perhaps uncover more information about it.

    The next morning, the party was approached by a mysterious masked man who called himself "The Abbot", and invited them to partake in the next hunt sponsored by the Ashwood Abbey. He instructed any who came to "bring good arms and sharp clothing". The majority of the party was interested, and Cassius even managed to convince Storm to join them. Tulany declined, and opted to head to the library to meet with Dilisnya instead. There, he told her about how Darklord Ivan allegedly had an interest in rangers as of late, and several local hunters have gone missing. Dilisnya suspected Ivan had learned of the existence of the Well of Many Worlds which allegedly existed at the heart of the city. Dilisnya offered to help Tulany learn more, and all he asked for in exchange was her help getting to the Well without alerting the agents of the twin darklords.

    The rest of the PCs decided to check out the Ashwood Abbey...

    TL;DR - Borca is a strange place.

  30. - Top - End - #120
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    A hunt in Ravenloft? Why do I get the feeling the quarry will not be foxes?

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