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Monday, February 13, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Ritual of Whirling Fury


This past Saturday, we played some more online D&D. In this one I wanted to use the backstory of the characters, kind of bring it out and moosh it into the story.

Kyrin has a whole thing going with his deity, the Raven Queen. Mistletoe has all of these amusing NPCs that live in the city. Ramrod has a sort of classic past that lends itself to a good adventure or two.

I love NPCs, so I worked a bunch of the Mistletoe NPCs into this thing.

I decided to play through some downtime and start The Chained Coffin, an adventure I've waited a long time to fit into a campaign. It is made for the DCC RPG, but I am converting it to 5e.

I love the premise: There's a dude trapped in a coffin and the heroes need to bring it to a specific location before time runs out.

The Party

Kyrin - Human Cleric of the Raven Queen
Mistletoe - Human Druid
Ramrod - Goliath Barbarian
Gwynharwyf, Patron of Mistletoe
Last time, the heroes saved a crystal dragon and a dwarf clan from derros and a shapechanging monster. These dwarves decided to at last reunite with the dwarves of Underduin.

I wanted to start off with an encounter as that's fun and interesting. I think that every Indiana Jones movie starts with an action scene and I really like that, it's fun.

The group has agreed to stay with the dwarves of Underduin for 4 months. The dwarves want to make statues of them, to honor the heroes for reuniting Drull and Galvan Ironstar.

Mistletoe sent a dwarf to go to the city to get his druid friends. It would soon be time for an important ritual.

It ended up that the druids were ambushed by Chitines (pg 131 of Volo's Guide to Monsters). They were dragged into a cave.

The heroes found the cave and saw the druids in web cocoons. The main area of the cave had a pit with a thick web stretched over it horizontally.

Ramrod charged in and we had a rumble. Mistletoe used a gust of wind to send a chitine hurtling into the pit (which turned out to have a deep pool at the bottom).

Kyrin summoned a scythe and hacked a chitine's head off while Ramrod took a pile of damage and almost went down.

The druid and satyr NPCs:
  • Marigold: A pacifist lady with a crown of sunflowers
  • Vervain: A druid with a crown of thistle
  • Wormwood: A fuddy duddy druid with a crown of hemlock
  • Mister Naf Rangel: A satyr with a top hat and monocle, has sticky fingers
  • Zot: A road warrior satyr faun, she has spiked shoulder pads and a rock with an owl carved into it as a weapon.
Zot broke free of her cocoon and bashed a chitine's skull in. Mister Naf Rangel got free and started looting anything he could. Marigold begged the heroes not to kill them.

One the battle was done, Ramrod and Zot got into a bit of a scuffle. Both are barbarian types. He stood over her and patted her on the head. She grabbed his legs and took him down.

He monkey-flipped her into the pit! She couldn't swim because she was holding her owl rock in both hands, so someone had to go get her.

Once that cooled down a bit, the group returned to Underduin.

As the days passed, the dwarves found that their statues weren't coming out right. Some of the rocks chipped off floated of their own accord. Eventually they'd get a rough look at the statues, which appeared to be entities the group was unfamiliar with:
  • Ramrod: A hovering woman in robes
  • Kyrin: Hovering, empty robes
  • Misteltoe: Some kind of fox-headed humanoid
They had no idea what to make of this. The dwarves assumed Moradin was guiding their hand.

The Feast

The Dwarves had a big feast to celebrate the clans reuniting. Basically I tried to set up a thing. I gave the heroes a chance to reveal something about themselves. Then, later on, something would be revealed about them in an unexpected way. So basically, if they lied, their lie might be exposed later.

The feast consisted of "dwarven ham" (boar) and lots of alcohol. Mistletoe got drunk on dwarven grave ale.

The dwarves asked the heroes to tell a little bit about themselves for the Underduin historian to record. Mistletoe gave a rambling, drunken speech and passed out. Kyrin said he was a simple traveling priest. Ramrod said he liked to smash things, more or less.

Then the dwarves discussed hat to do with Thunderdelve, the dwarven complex the heroes had driven the derro from.

The mighty hammer known as Vitroin the Embeardener told Kyrin he had the power to repair Thunderdelve.

The hammer of Vitroin is a 2nd edition magic item. It doesn't normally like to leave Thunderdelve, ever. For this campaign, I declared that Vitroin wants to travel the world and the planes to learn more and better serve the dwarves upon his return.

The hammer had made Kyrin swear that, no matter, what, he would return Vitroin to Thunderdelve one day.

Basically, I wanted the players' input on what they thought should happen with Thunderdelve. They decided that it should be given to the crystal dragons, which is a pretty cool idea to me.

Kyrin spent a few days in Thunderdelve using Vitroin to repair the place.

The Ritual of Whirling Fury

Vorkhesis
The player of Mistletoe gave me some free reign with his background, so I tied his character to my Savage Tide campaign from 2010. It's a long story, but basically:
  1. A deva and a fey entity named Gwynharwyf got married secretly.
  2. Queen Morwel, ruler of the fey hates the deva because she thinks he set off a shadow pearl (a demogorgon monster-bomb) in the Court of Stars.
  3. He was framed! He's been in hiding ever since.
  4. They are Mistletoe's patron, and they have asked them to clear the deva's name.
The deva is a character from that campaign. I love to work in old campaign and characters, the old players really get a kick out of it.

There have been a few times at the game store when an old player of mine came in and I'd say to the group, "This is Thenrynnia" and they'd all go "holy crap!" like he was a celebrity, it's really awesome. I want the characters to count and become legends whenever possible.

In this case, I'll probably email the player of the deva and he will laugh and give me some ideas on what his character would do in this scenario.

We did a big ritual where Mistletoe got in contact with his fey patrons. During this ritual, energy passed through the heroes and scenes from their life appeared in a big bonfire for all to see and hear. We learned:

Gazgar the Wereboulder: Galvan Ironstar had secretly ordered him to keep an eye on the Hammer of Vitroin and to kill Kyrin and bring it back to Underduin if necessary. The heroes let it slide.

Kyrin: The heroes saw a massive skeletal humanoid with no eyes, horns and a burning halo. Weird, small balls of energy swirled around him as he lurked in a vault.

Kyrin knew who this was. It's Vorkhesis, Master of Fate, son of the Raven Queen. He is a caretakes of special souls that the Raven Queen sends his way.

Kyrin has a huge tattoo of Vorkhesis on his chest. The heroes don't know that, and Kyrin didn't mention it.

I LOVE Vorkhesis and by gawd it is way past time for me to use him in a major way in a campaign.

Ramrod: They saw a scene where another goliath was pointing out to an entire clan that Ramrod "was no worthy." As Ramrod watched this scene unfold, he hung his head in shame.

When this whole ritual was done, the heroes did not ask each other about anything. They'd learned some secrets and decided to leave it be for now.

Days and weeks passed. Kyrin has a power called Eyes of the Grave, which allows him to sense undead. He sensed some behind a stone wall.

The dwarves needed to dig out a new section of Underduin to accomodate the many dwarves who had come here from Thunderdelve. They dug into the undead section. Kyrin couldn't wait to get in there.

The digging revealed a tunnel which opened up into a cavern.

Seven skeletons were in there and wow, did they get destroyed. Kyrin turned four of them. All of the heroes have bludgeoning weapons, which skeletons are vulnerable to. It was a massive explosion of bone shards.

I here, buried under heavy stones was a coffin. A voice spoke in their minds, asking for help.

They removed the stones. The coffin was made of orichalchum and was wrapped in adamantine chains secured with a magical lock.

The person in the coffin dumped a huge backstory on the group:
  • He's a follower of the Raven Queen, he's been trapped in here for decades or centuries.
  • He was put here by Boak, an ally who betray3ed him and joined "the forces of chaos."
  • Boak can telepathically communicate with and taunt the prisoner.
  • Soon, Boak is going to go through a ritual that will transform him into some kind of chaos entity.
  • The group needs to get the chained coffin to a place called the Lusaahl Wheel to free the prisoner and to stop Boak.
  • The Lusaahl Wheel is located in Deep Hollow, an area in the middle of the mountains where Underduin lies.
Kyrin wanted to help his fellow cleric of the Raven Queen. The heroes agreed to help.

The players then asked me, "We have to carry this thing there?" Yup! That's one of the things I like so much about this adventure.

The group got a cart. At first they wanted to get a whole bunch of dwarven ham (boars) to pull it, but we decided to have the group go into the woods to capture a creature to pull the cart. I'm going to dig up a list of fun monsters and basically let them pick and capture one.

That's what we'll do next time!

Good session! I felt like working in their stories was long overdue. Their characters deserve the full treatment!

4 comments:

Ant Wu said...

I know it's been a good year since you ran a Planescape adventure, but I was curious if you thought Dead Gods or the Great Modron March was better, on their own merits?

It seems that the Modron March is easier to adopt into sandbox play, plus it seems more adjustible if you want to tie your own villains to the marching of the Modrons...Dead Gods sounded particularly railroady, far more so than the March, in your summaries of it.

Yet, everyone talks about Modron March's greatness only in the context that it's a cool prequel for Dead Gods, this super epic, super crazy Planescape adventure. I'm a bit unsure what to think.

Since I mostly do my own stories/worlds, the March seemed easier to adapt to, I guess.

But I've only skimmed the modules while I've read your report of it with more of an eye for detail.

Which would you say is better, somewhat knowing my context now?

Sean said...

Ant Wu: Honestly, I didn't like Dead Gods that much. If you run it, you might want to junk those three side adventures, as they grind the whole thing to a halt and feel like campaign killers.

Modron March is better, IMO. The thing about the modron march is that the premise is awesome, but it feels like the authors didn't take full advantage of it. In theory, you could run an epic campaign where your heroes escort the modron through 20-30 planes.

The modron adventures I liked least involved the Tacharim.

I think no matter which adventure you run, you'll need to tweak them. Modron march has a weird ending, especially if you don't run Dead Gods. There's no big build-up to the villain or anything. It would have been better to make Craggis a recurring villain in some way, though that's always tricky.

I'd probably re-write the whole thing where the modrons are trying to do their march and some outside force is trying to destroy them as they do so. Slaads, probably! Slaads hate modrons. And slaads have such a ton of cool material - the slaad lords, the pandemonium stone, etc.

Heck, a rogue modron march being activated by the chaotic slaads makes sense, too. You could pick from a bunch of cool villains, including Ygorl and Ssendam.

Ant Wu said...

Sean,

Thank you for your kind and thorough response.

I would love a Modron adventure in 5e (with art and everything for sure) just cuz the March was a cool way of having a tour of the planes.

In the meantime, I'll start retooling such an adventure myself.

Three cheers to your Lankhmar adventure btw! The stealth, theft, and fleeing are definitely cool aspects to see, since most of what we hear about in D&D are more directly confrontational. The sense of fun you had, as other commenters have mentioned, is also palpable through the write-up, even if you say you can't convey it in full.

:)

Sean said...

Ant Wu: Thanks! When I DM I love to lob things up at the group and see what happens. To me, the fun of the game is in not being able to guess how they will react. People are so clever, they come up with solutions that you could never see coming.

I get the feeling they might do a modron march of some kind, if just as an encounters module. They did that full page image of the modron march in one of the core books. There is a guy on the DMsGuild site who did a 5e conversion of the modron march stats, you should definitely check it out! Thanks!