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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse - Shoalar Quanderil

Olhydra... I can't find the 5e art for her online yet.
We had a very good session of D&D tonight at the game store, but we did not get nearly as far as I wanted to. It is becoming very clear that we will need to do quite a few bonus sessions to make sure we finish this adventure by August.

My plan was to finish Rivergard Keep and then jump into the Iceshield Orcs scenario. This adventure has a number of scenarios in a separate chapter that the DM can use to flesh things out and keep it from getting stale. I wasn't sure if I was going to use any of them, but once I read the orcs one I decided I had to use it. It has nothing to do with elemental evil whatsoever, but it seems like a lot of fun.

My group got to the store very early tonight. We actually started 10 minutes before 6 PM.

The Party     
  •  Elf Rogue: Played by a 4th grader, her character's name is Lucky and she has a black cat named "Bad Luck". 
  • 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.
Dungeons & Friends

If you remember last time, we had the idea for "Dungeons & Friends". Lucky likes to make friends with bad guys. So I decided that each time we play, there will be one encounter where the goal is to make friends. I ran it like a 4e skill challenge (my way).

So, our heroes had taken down the wereboar leader of Rivergard Keep. As the heroes exited his building, they saw the door to the nearby chapel open. A priestess and 2 reavers were inside. The priestess as described in the book loves to go on and on and will preach about water to the PCs for 2 hours if they let her. So she invited the heroes in, and tried to make friends in the hopes of getting them to join the cult. The priestess is named Drosnin.

Drosnin would say some stuff to each hero, and then the hero would make some kind of skill roll to befriend her. If they got stuck on an idea, I had Lucky give some helpful advice (her advice was stuff like, "Tell her she's awesome!"). If the PC did well, Drosnin would answer a question about Rivergard Keep. Basically I used her to tell the PCs where the monsters were so we could get through this thing faster.

It went like this:
  • PC 1. Drosnin showed them the Crushing Wave hand symbol.
  • PC 2. Drosnin said that sharks, octopi and aquatic ghouls obeyed the cultists. The PC (the wild magic sorcerer/jester with blue skin) did a dance, which greatly amused Drosnin.
  • PC 3. Drosnin explained that living creatures are living water trapped in a shell, yearning to return to the sea.
  • PC 4. She said the cult was patient, and would wait for an opening to exploit it.
  • PC 5. Drosnin offered to show a rogue how to meditate underwater. He hugged her.
  • PC 6. She praised the cult's leader - Gar Shatterkeel, who had a crab claw for an arm and was covered in barnacles.
  • PC 7. Drosnin spoke of Drown, Gar's artifact trident that could control water elementals. The party cleric interrupted her and actually tried to convert her to his god. She was not happy about this.
  • Lucky. Drosnin talked about Olhydra, the princess of water, a mighty wave with glowing eyes. Lucky was not impressed with Olhydra, but officially befriended Drosnin.
Drosnin declared that with Jolliver dead, she'd be punished for failure. She fled to the forest to hide from the cult, and the PCs were free to visit her.

Lucky got to put her first friend on her friend list - Drosnin

Rampaging Through the Keep

The heroes now knew where all the bad guys were located at Rivergard Keep. They commenced with murdering.

They busted into the barracks and killed 8 bandits with ease.

They headed over to a tower where 3 nasty bugbears lived. The bugbears were quite a challenge, doing 11 points of damage when they hit. My dice were on fire tonight. During the battle, the sorcerer triggered a wild magic surge, giving himself mirror images.

A few heroes were almost down when this fight ended. Luckily, the cleric and bard both have plenty of healing magic.

Water Tower

Then the adventurers made their way to a southern tower, where 4 cultists watched over the dock area, where two boats were moored. They had a device that raised and lowered a chain that could prevent boats from reaching the dock.

Lucky and a rogue snuck in and convinced the cultists that Jolliver was dead and they needed to take a boat and leave. The rogue rolled really well on the bluff. The bad guys lowered the chain, took the boat and began sailing out. Then the heroes raised the chain so it caught their boat and opened fire on them from the tower windows. The bad guys were slaughtered and the boat began to sink.

Bad guys appeared on the other boat - a caster, two bandits and a thug. The heroes headed down to deal with them.

What followed was a truly epic battle. The heroes began the fight on land. I inadvertantly changed the map so that the enemy boat was about 50 feet out in the water. The sunken boat was nearby.

The caster on the other boat, Shoalar, had a new spell called tidal wave. She devastated the heroes with it as they stood on land opposite (K10 on the map).

The wild sorcerer set the enemy ship's sail on fire with a fire bolt. The bard cracked the mast and injured the bad guys with a shatter spell.

A few PCs swam over and climbed on to the sinking ship to get closer and make ranged attacks. Shoalar hit them with a tidal wave spell, which dropped a PC and tipped the ship!

Lucky dove from the tower into the water, swimming underneath the enemy ship. She found a porthole and climbed in belowdecks. She came upon a prisoner, tied up.

The prisoner was a druid named Okobo, a member of the emerald enclave. I placed Okobo here as a hook to get the PCs to the Iceshield Orcs scenario. She had been captured by the water cult while looking for help to defeat the rampaging orcs. Lucky freed Okobo and added her to her friend list.

I took Okobo from the Neverwinter MMO. Okobo has whitish eyes and thinks she can hear air spirits talking to her.

A few PCs had on the special gliding armor that allowed them to fly/glide a few times. A couple heroes flew over the water toward the ship. This caused the water cultists to think the air cult was attacking them. The two bandits tipped the burning, cracked mast, causing it to come crashing down on a gliding paladin!

It was hard to figure out the damage. I did ten points (probably should have been 15) and had him make a check to see if he had the air knocked out of him and if he was drowning.

A rogue on the sinking ship chucked a grappling hook and ensnared a thug on the other ship. He pulled the thug overboard.

From there, the heroes closed in on the enemy ship and took the bad guys down. It was awesome, easily the best encounter in this campaign and maybe even better than anything in Tyranny of Dragons.

It all came out of Lucky's idea to trick the bad guys into taking their ship and leaving.

The only bad thing is by the time this was done, we were out of time. We didn't even get to the Iceshield orcs at all.

Adventures in Real Life

Ketchup...? Catsup...?
After the game, I stopped at the grocery store and was using the automated checkout. A woman came up to me and asked me if I had a quarter, as she was really hungry and didn't have quite enough money.

Right next to this grocery store is a hotel. There's some kind of program where down on their luck people get to live there for a short time until they get some kind of government housing.

She wanted oatmeal cookies, so I bought them with my card and took her change. I feel like I shouldn't have took her money at all. She was telling me stuff like how she used to live in Cleveland and how nobody in the store would give her a quarter. I would guess that not so many people carry actual money on them any more.

So I buy her cookies, take her change and she thanks me. Then, this shady dude walks by and says "thank you sir" and they leave together.

I found it amusing. She was good-looking and it was smart of them to send just her to ask me what, I would guess, is a very embarrassing question. The guy looked like a full-blown junkie. I think I still would have gotten him his cookies but I can appreciate their carnie approach.

I have a boring life. I get a kick out of having "real life encounters" like this every once in a while. As long as they're not dangerous, that is, because I have a passive perception of 6 and a 9 AC due to my low dexterity.

Update 4/23/15: Her cookies came to $1.00 even, no tax. She said she was a quarter short. I just counted the change she gave me (when she gave me the change I just took it, didn't count it). It adds up to $1.30! I feel like I was a pawn in some game of cosmic chess....


Jake Mitchell said...

Just as a suggestion (not sure what the rules are in organised play)

But would it be possible to gauge which one or two of the elemental cults the players like combating the most and then have infighting damage one or two of the others significantly. It would speed up certain sessions and work into the plotline well.

Anonymous said...

"...infighting damage one or two of the others significantly."
What others?

Sean said...

Jake Mitchell: I think that is exactly what I will do at the Monastery. I will have the fire cult come in and slaughter a bunch of the earth cultists in the boring rooms. Thanks for the idea!