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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse - Cult of the Crushing Wave

I have been trying to map out this campaign and figure out the best way to try to get the whole thing done by August. We have about 17 sessions worth of Wednesdays until mid-August. If I do just the essential stuff in this adventure, that's 2 more keeps, 4 temples and 4 nodes. That means I'd have to get through each of those parts in about 2 sessions. I don't think I can do that.

It looks like I will have to do a number of Sunday sessions to make sure we can finish it on time. I also do want to include some of the side adventures in the book. Some of them are pretty fun.

Lucky couldn't make it this week, so we had 7 players. I was hoping we would finish Rivergard, but we didn't come close.

Dungeons & Friends

Somehow we ended up talking about a staring contest as a D&D encounter. In my opinion, that would make for a hilarious 4th edition skill challenge.

I was thinking about how Lucky's player likes to make friends with all the monsters, and I thought it would be awesome to have an entire session where every encounter could be resolved by making friends with the creatures and NPCs. You could include the staring contest, and all sorts of goofy stuff, like making a fantasy ice cream cone or something.

Lucky's dad pointed out that if we did have a session of "Dungeons & Friends", Lucky would probably then end up trying to attack the friend monsters. She's funny like that. If you remember, when the unicorn appeared due to the wild surge a few weeks back, she first tried to do it harm before feeding it an ultra-spicy pepper.

The Party   
  • Dwarf Cleric: In real life, played by Lucky's dad. He has a scottish accent and worships Ilmater.
  • Tiefling Sorcerer: Middle Schooler. His character is apparently a jester. He uses wild magic and his skin is blue.
  • Drow Rogue: Middle Schooler. Wants to be evil, but Adventurer's League rules restrict this. Has a dog.
  • Goliath Barbarian: Middle Schooler. Really nice guy.
  • Human Bard: The player is about 25 years old, knows the rules pretty well. 
  • Human Paladin: Worships Helm. Played by the bard's dad, who played old D&D and is new to 5e.
  • Human Rogue: A new player. Taking to the game very well.
The adventurers had made their way to Rivergard Keep, secret above-ground outpost of the Water Cult. Last session, the rogues had infiltrated the keep and opened the front gate. The other heroes ran in through the gate and had to pass through the interior of a gatehouse, laced with murder holes.

Crushing Wave Reaver
Bad guys stabbed through the murder holes with spears. I joked that one murder hole had an "out of order" sign on it.

The adventures fought back, casting spells and firing ranged weapons. It was a pretty simple fight. I am noticing that the spellcasters are starting to change the game. In Tyranny of Dragons, the part was almost entirely made of melee. This time around, there's a bard, a sorcerer and a cleric.

The heroes emerged into the courtyard of the keep, which was on alert. They had waited until nightfall to make this assault. I showed them the player map and they chose where to go next. As fate would have it, they decided to head right to the great hall, where the leader of the bad guys was!

The heroes burst in and did battle with Jolliver, a fathomer and 2 reavers. The fathomer turned into a serpent made of water and began constricting a rogue. Jolliver transformed into a half-man/half-boar. He was indeed a wereboar!

He and the fathomer had resistance against non-magic weapons. The casters unleashed a torrent of spells that blinded and scattered the bad guys. There was even a spell that forced Jolliver to lumber in such a way that he provoked three opportunity attacks.

The sorcerer triggered a wild surge that caused him to levitate. I was a little confused as to whether he could turn the effect off - I assume not, as it is wild magic.

It was a long battle, but the heroes weren't really in too much danger. I rolled really high on many saving throws, but when it came to attack rolls I rolled extremely low. In fact, I think Jolliver only hit somebody one time (and the PC made their save against becoming a were-boar... which would have been awesome, IMO).

The sorcerer triggered another wild surge, which caused him to radiate light that blinded those who started their turns adjacent to him. He used this to the party's advantage by standing next to the bad guys, which was very amusing.

Once the reavers were slain, we ran out of time! I floated the idea of splitting the group into two, one group meeting on Mondays, as the group has gotten too big. None of them wanted to do that.

We had a lot of Rivergard Keep left to go. Next week I am hoping to finish it up and then run one of the side encounters, involving rampaging iceshield orcs, which seems like it could be fun.

The adventurers headed up some stairs, looted the bad guys room and battled a pile of reavers.


Jake Mitchell said...

Glad to hear that your wild sorcerer is still at it.
I have only had one and they were terrified of the chart and so never ended up using the feature sadly...

Glad you mentioned the wereboar curse though, honestly I had forgotten that it was contagious.

Hey do you run with a grid or without a grid with that many players?

Sean said...

Jake: I use a grid. Back in the olden days of 2e, we never did. But in general there is a lot of convenient maneuvering that takes place when there's no map... "I said i was over there, so I am not aught in the blast", that kind of thing.

The wild sorcerer is pretty much becoming a classic character. He is a great player with a great attitude, it is a highlight of the campaign IMO.

Mick said...

Hello, I'm a long time reader, first time commentor. I don't know if this is the right place to post this but let's attempt.

So I've been running this campaign for about a month now for a party of 7. They are made up with a fire genesai wizard, fire genesai monk, air genesai rough, human cleric, human wizard, bird (can't remember race) ranger. The human wizard is the father of the fire genesai wizard, and the fire genesai wizard is the father of the fire genesai monk, but nobody (other than the players) know about the monk's lineage in the family. This is backstory that the characters came up with that I've ok'd. It's been extremely amusing.

My party has been really messing with the water cult, first they get ambushed by the reaver ambush and almost kill all of them but one, the only survivor is my new reaccuring villain Jason Therman ( the crushing wave priest), they followed it up by meeting Schoalar Quanderil and crew at the womford rats. They bought the remaining books that the historian delegate wrote and questioned him about how he got them excertra. Somehow they managed to not enter a combat, but they pissed off Schoalar Quanderil.

They soon went to rivergard keep, mind you there still 3rd level. I ruled since they met both Schoalar Quanderil and Jason Therman that the keep was ready for them, and thus each wall had 2 bandits instead of 1 (I removed 4 bandits out of room k8) the, bandits planned on first sign of combat to gather all the troops possible and sound the alarms. The party scales the wall along the chapel, kill 1 of the 2 bandits and badly damage the second. The second bandit yells out to sound the alarm before his death. Each bandit on the walls yells out to sound the alarm and spreads out to try and gather the rest. The party stumbles into k8 as one of the bandits arrives there to sound the alarm. They are met with a pair of Reavers, 8 bandits and Jason Therman. From there as combat pursued the men from k2&3 flanked them. Soon Reash and his men joined the fray, then the bugbears and eventually the boss. 2 party members died, the ranger and cleric, two was knocked on unconscious, and the other three grabbed the two and barely made it out alive.

Here is what the water cultist have remaining after the three incidents.

Reaver Ambush
Jason Therman (crushing wave priest)

Womford Rats
Schoalar Quanderil
Pike (halfling thug)
2 bandits

Rivergard Keep
Holger (thug)
Reash (fathomer)
3 Bug Bear
Drosnin (Crushing Wave Priest)
5 Crushing Wave Reavers
Jolliver Grimjaw (werebear)
Urshnora (fathomer)
3 bandits

At this time the party plans to grab two new characters, regroup and try and storm the keep again. But honestly I feel it's time for the water cultists to strike. I'm thinking about leveling up Jason Therman and sending another ambush on them. But at the same time I don't want to drain the keep of too many of its resources. I was wondering what you thought I should do? What should I send? If it makes it any easier, the players did level up to 4. Lastly I was thinking about redesigning the great hall building, I was thinking that whomever remains in the keep, other than Schoalar Quanderil and his men stay boarded up in this building while they wait for new requits to arrive. The keep has lost basically all of its non named npc's other than the 3 bug bears and a few Reavers.

Sean said...

Mick: That genasi stuff is awesome. It's funny how often players like to just storm a complex full of bad guys, even when they are warned that it is dangerous.

I think you should do whatever is most fun, whatever will make for the coolest encounter. Remember that the water cult has a spy in Red Larch. He could walk the heroes right into an ambush. Or he could poison them, or even slip them a drug that puts them to sleep (which could lead to the PCs being woken up and being tortured Metal Gear Solid style, and then of course the PCs have a chance to escape.

Urshnora, if I remember right, would be more interested in converting the heroes to join the cult. So maybe you could have her come and preach to the heroes or even try to seduce them, if your group does that kind of thing.

Actually, what might be really cool is to have all of those bad guys attack Red Larch at once and do a big siege. The heroes have to defend the town and survive the chaos, similar to chapter one in Hoard of the dragon queen. Or maybe somehow they plan to flood the town (though I don't see any significant bodies of water on the map near red larch).

Or the bad guys could capture someone close to the heroes (the spy in red larch could do this). Then the bad guys will hold that NPC hostage on a boat on the river, and our heroes will have to get on that boat and fight! I always like battles on ships... and if the bad guys are on the water, that also allows them to use tidal wave, which is a spell that really added a lot when I ran rivergard.

Thanks for reading and let me know how it goes!