/r/RpgGloryStories is for adventurers that love spinning tales of great deeds and those times everything goes to plan (either In Character or Out of Character).
Warning: the contents of this tale may be seen by some as the contents of an “RPG Horror Story”. Rest assured, the DM and other players all gave their consent for the characters involved, and any arguments between characters are a result of in-character interactions, not any beef between players. We are working to build a compelling story, not fight each other.
Roster of Main Characters:
DM, the creator of this world
Nina, Changeling Druid (Me)
Nina tells them that about a month’s travel north, there exists a village called Kokiri. Within the woods south of Kokiri village, there’s a massive cave that’s pretty much made of Yukinite. She came across it by pure chance while she lived there, and she lived in the village for almost two decades under the name “Annabelle”. However, Kokiri is superstitious- they’re extremely mistrustful of magic, races they haven’t seen before, and anything that might be a monster. When the village came under raid by Bandits that lived in the woods, Nina turned into a wolf and tore them all to shreds…but the village turned on her. They called her a witch, a skinwalker. They thought Nina had killed and replaced the real Annabelle, and she was chased out of town. The party is the first people Nina has tried to make a genuine connection with since then.
When asked how big the cave is, all Nina can say is it’s big. The party makes a plan- go to Kokiri, find the cave, and (hopefully) find enough Yukinite to fill their Bag of Holding. They set off, ready to get moving. Nina expresses that she looks older than when she was pushed away- she presents her form as being in her early 20s, but “Annabelle” was 16 when she left. When Warforged asks how old Nina really is, she just says she’s far older than any of them. Nina keeps to herself that a blue-haired yuan-ti girl lives in Kokiri who resembles one of their guild’s leaders and is silently thankful that no one has pointed out the holes in her odd story.
Ranger, meanwhile, wants to officially hire us for 1 GP per person to save his village, and while most of the party declines payment, some accept (such as Nina). Paladin says goodbye to his son, as we won’t see him for a while.
Two things you should know, dear reader, about this setting:
-The Guild has many tavern locations across the continent, like a franchise. We each get a room, and the room itself and anything in it get sent magically to the tavern of the location closest to us geographically.
-An Emperor rules the continent, but the Shogun of the flying country doesn’t bow to him. It’s not exactly rebellion, as they have tentative peace, but what happened is expected to strain relationships. However, this campaign has yet to get too political, so we’re still quite unaware of things.
-Paladin’s son seems like he’ll be important- he’s been having dreams, even since before his scales started coming in. I joked early on that he was an oracle, but as more time goes on, it seems like that might be true. Paladin’s son is also afraid of Nina because she scared him and didn’t mean to. Currently, she has tasked her snake to watch over the boy and protect him while they’re gone.
-I forgot to mention this before, but Paladin ‘Divine Sense’ can pick up a Celestial aura from Nina and her snake. He seems unsure of what to make of it, so he hasn’t made it vocal yet.
Our journey to Kokiri is pretty much a time skip, with only two notable encounters on the way. The first is a shack on the side of the road that turns out to be a magic item lottery run by a mimic. However, the real encounter came later. While traveling, we came across more members of our Guild, but from a distance, we could tell they were pretty much a bunch of rowdy youths. They seem to travel by night, and they consistently complain about their parents and the gods- in some cases, both. Some of these youths are children whose parents got “zeus’d” by a smattering of gods across them. The leader of this youthful group was one of these folk, a pointy-eared pale-haired man with black eyes. We never even learned his name, but this Dhampir(?) noted to his friends that he’s not going to stop looking for his Mother. He sets off into the night with his group. Meanwhile, while the party sleeps, the little blue-haired girl from Kokiri approaches Nina from the shadows, having been watching over the group of youths. Both before them know that each other is old, powerful, and intelligent. She tells Nina the leader of the youths is named Hajime, and not much else happens. The little girl fades into the night to keep watching over the children, but not before revealing the guild leader is actually her granddaughter…to only Nina, as Nina is the only one on watch.
As we grow closer to Kokiri Village, we pass thickets of ironwood trees. Nina is starting to recognize the landscape. She goes back to her lovable antics, asking the party what they’d prefer she turns into. She could be a stalwart young soldier, or a crafty old woman. The party chooses the former, and she becomes a young man with dark hair and bright eyes named ‘Niro’. Paladin and Warforged decide to stay in the cart to stay safe, as does Marcoh (yeah, he’s still with us, kinda just following us around to watch our antics more than anything else). Ranger uses disguise self to look like a human with a large straw hat, which fair enough, works.
However, as we get closer to town, we smell smoke. The town is on fire! The party rushes in, Paladin, Warforged, and Marcoh staying near the entrance in case we’re able to help without the need for extra violence. What we discover shocks us…
Within the town square, Sorlock, Ranger, and ‘Niro’ find a Lyrium Dragonborn about to execute all who remain in the town. Over half the town has been slain. At his beck and call are at least a dozen Abominations. Ranger stays back, and Sorlock watches as Niro approaches. He drops his scimitar and shield, and holds his hands up in surrender. He walks closer, and is able to get within 40 feet. The Dragonborn is named Taffidais, and reveals that she and her forces were simply passing through, but they attacked. So they defended themselves.
You’re close enough. Hold Person the leader, transform into a Dire Wolf. Ranger has the shot, Sorlock has proper distance. You can kill them all.
Flashes of memories fly through Niro’s mind, recalling the last time they saw this village. It looks so different, but so the same. Such a similar situation.
I will NOT be the kind of weakling who repeats history.
Niro reasons with the Dragonborn- her point was made, the village is now without militia. Defenseless. Yes, this village is full of people who don’t know what they’re doing, but this won’t solve anything. Taffidais considers this, and accepts Niro’s logic. She leaves town, and her forces head into the woods…the same direction we’re going.
The village, as expected, is only half as thankful as perhaps they could be. They must hoard most of their resources rebuilding, yes, but they won’t even let us camp inside the walls of the village. The party accepts this- it’s perhaps more than they were expecting.
As night falls, and camp occurs, Sorlock awakens to Nina, not Niro, sneaking into town. He turns invisible and follows her, aiming to finally get some answers. She stops at the charred home of one of the families that survived, and she goes to their backyard, where a grand oak tree sits. She takes two discarded twigs, ties them together to form a cross, and sticks it into the ground, like a makeshift grave. She then leaves without a word.
Sorlock makes it to the backyard and digs. What he finds astonishes him- the skeletal remains of a human baby. Still bound in pink pajamas. Sorlock swiftly buries the child again and uses prestidigitation to make the soil appear unworked. He sees the home is still empty without reconstruction, so he searches for it. Nothing about ‘Annabelle’, or snakes. He sees a shack in the backyard, untouched by flames. He opens it, finding it’s been turned into storage for boxes and boxes of discarded amenities for a young woman. Pictures with her in them, boxes of women’s clothes, and old possessions. He picks up one picture, revealing a small, painted visage of a family together, happy. A Mother, a Father, a Daughter, and a younger Brother. The girl’s smile…she resembles her parents plenty, with brown hair and fair skin, but her eyes are the same deep green they’ve always been, and her smiles is the same smile she gives the world- despite being so young, the gaze is so intelligent, the smile as though she was privy to a joke at the expense of the world. The girl appears to be no older than eight. Sorlock keeps the photograph and sneaks back to the camp…where he sees Nina, waiting for him.
The two gaze at each other, a dark and terrible understanding clear. No words were exchanged, but an agreement was struck. This mistrust between them, the lies she tells the world, and the problems he brings with his ideology...something has to give. They will save the continent by stopping the Red Lyrium in Ranger’s village, but once that passes, there will be a confrontation.
Who will emerge victorious, and who will be driven away or buried in the mud, only fate knows.
Warning: the contents of this tale may be seen by some as the contents of an “RPG Horror Story”. Rest assured, the DM and other players all gave their consent for the characters involved, and any arguments between characters are a result of in-character interactions, not any beef between players. We are working to build a compelling story, not fight each other.
The roster of Main Characters:
DM, the creator of this world
Nina, Changeling Druid (Me)
Mushroom Ranger (No, I’m serious)
Human Fighter (Won’t last long)
Mothfolk Cleric (Also won’t last long)
Tiefling Paladin (will join later)
Our tale begins in a land cut off from the rest of its domain. DM has said this Wuxia-style campaign takes place in an Exandria-adjacent world, but is cut off completely from it, and the sky has been changed. A layer of magic in the sky makes it so the sun is never seen, but this magic layer can be passed to see the sun above it. The Sun Gods are seen as evil beings, so no one complains. People have grown used to the sunless sky, and generations after it’s disappearance, our campaign begins in the one place that can still see the sun- a beautiful city atop the tallest mountain in the region, the only sunkissed city left on this vast continent.
Six people awaken together within an infirmary, having been discovered in various states across the mountaintop. We started at Level 3, with all the bells and whistles, and a magic item apiece. One by one, we wake up. The Ranger awakens and promptly passes out from the altitude. The Fighter awakens next, and is fine- turns out, they’re from the city anyway. This goes on, and Nina awakens. She basks in the sun’s rays, loving how it feels on her skin. She resembles a young human woman but is soon revealed as a changeling by the doctor. She doesn’t care much, she’s just very happy! As the party explores the city for the first time after being released, Nina expresses bountiful knowledge of the sun and the way it works in nature. The naive Warforged is taken in by her intellect, but the Sorlock is immediately suspicious of her knowledge of things, seeing as she says this is her first time in this city. Also, Ranger is stoick and emotionless as they reveal that they don’t like being seen (they’re a Gloomstalker ranger, so under the cover of the continent’s eternal night plus the caves they live in, they are almost always invisible).
Due to scheduling issues, the Mothfolk Cleric leaves before she can really make much of herself known.
The buildings of the city are made out of a black obsidian-like crystal, and so is a majority of the crater the city is built into. The party learns that each cardinal direction directs to a guildhall in the city, and the party will need to at least be a temporary member of one if they’re to be allowed to leave the city due to the mountain’s dangers. Which is kind of fair, considering they got to the city by way of stretchers. There is a mercenary guild, an adventuring guild, a mage’s guild, and a local guard’s guild. It’s learned that Fighter has some bad blood with the Mercenary Guild, and he can’t use magic, so since we plan on working together to earn money both in and beyond the city, we join the Adventuring Guild. Nina is suspiciously quick to want to leave the city, framing it as worry for the poor Ranger who is uncomfortable in the sunlight.
While they wait for a meeting with the many guild leaders of the faction, the party gets drinks and food and converses about themselves. The Warforged notes that she cannot recall much, and not much of the conversation is needed before the Warforged begins to see Nina as a very wise woman. In addition, the Fighter discovers a job paying 200,000 Gold Pieces to each person- locating and disposing of a terrorist in another country known as “The Blade”, with the only depiction we have being the head of a boar. We meet the leaders, and the fact that many of them have some kind of snake motif in their decor or race is not lost on my character, who seems vastly interested, calling the decor beautiful, and unashamedly calling anyone remotely snakelike gorgeous, including one of the leaders, who appears to be a Yuan-Ti woman weaving a tapestry of black snakes around the sun.
Before we’re allowed to proceed with the bounty hunt, we need to complete a test quest within the city, locating overdue books for the local mage guild, which runs the library. We discover one of these people is using the book of origami she borrowed to create paper airplanes with glyphs of warding on them. She’s a member of the mercenary guild and a former associate of Fighter. We get the book back without any bloodshed, it’s just very awkward, and the faction really doesn’t seem to like Fighter. Going forward, we also find that the others that took books are a pair of tiefling twins that disappeared from sight. We track them down, and they stay in hiding, but let us take the books if we agree to act as though we found them in the empty house. We agree, and learn that they are from the same country that the Blade is from. Furthermore, Sorlock becomes uncomfortable whenever the country is brought up, the country in question apparently being quite technologically advanced, as it’s a flying country disconnected from the continent. As we go to return the books to the mage’s guild, we see royals coming to visit them. Nothing else of interest occurs, and we are given the go to begin the journey, traveling with two of the leaders (the Yuan-Ti and a depressed-looking Human) as they will show us how things work for the faction in every city from here on out.
Due to scheduling issues, Fighter must leave.
We are given the option to either descend the mountain by the road or the river rapids. Nina votes for the rapids, and the party agrees. While on the boat, the party learns that the human guildmaster has a “Blood Curse” that transforms one of his arms into a snake on occasion. When the snake emerges, it and Nina speak to each other in a language no one else knows.
Once we land and begin the journey through forests, the Sorlock remarks that getting to the country is a lot easier than leaving it. We can only get up by way of the “Skylift”, and it’s both difficult to get to and goes directly to the floating country. The Sorlock claims he once lived in the country before his former gang forced him to flee. After a question from Nina, Sorlock reveals that the country is not high enough to see the sun.
Meanwhile, Nina and the Warforged grow closer, becoming closer with each other than anyone else in the party, with Nina doting on the warforged and often being a counsel for her and making flowers grow on her exterior. Furthermore, Nina shares her worries about how suspicious Sorlock acts but privately keeps to herself that Sorlock seems to be just as mistrusting of her.
As we continue traveling, we need to take shelter from an acid rainstorm. We do so in some old ruins, which depict religious iconography of black snakes. Nina seems to recognize the iconography, but doesn’t share anything with the party, merely enjoying the ambience. However, as we camp, we come across a secret passageway that leads underground, to an abandoned site of worship that’s been overcome by Red Lyrium (yes, this world is Dragon Age-adjacent). We also discover minor samples of Yukinite, a crystal…the same crystal that makes up most of Tenyana. It has unique properties that include destroying Red Lyrium, but it can cause both to explode. Yukinite occurs at a place where an aasimar falls. As we explore, we come across some kind of worship chamber with statues of three snakes. The smallest is a Green Snake, the middle is a Black Snake, and the largest is a White Snake. Nina takes what little remains from the offerings, as well as a ritualistic dagger made of Yukinite. Sorlock seems suspicious of these actions, but these thoughts are interrupted when we find gemstone wyrmlings, all of which have been overtaken by Red Lyrium and are very dead. Red Lyrium corrupts, grows, and kills. When we return to camp, we find some tieflings we already met on our journey also camping, and Nina learns that one of them heading to the city is an anarchist. With what she knows, and how Sorlock seems to at least know of them, she uses her sending stone to warm the higher-ups of the guild (in private) of their coming, since she recalls a royal had only recently come to visit the city, and might still be there.
As our quest continues, we soon come across a tree with visceral offerings surrounding it with the iconography of the Green Snake. Nina happily claims the treasures- magic items- and passes them to her allies. However, as they continue, the tree follows them. Nina steps out of the cart and speaks in the same mysterious tongue, and a boa constrictor emerges from the tree, leaving it behind like a hermit crab’s shell and curling around Nina, becoming familiar. She says the little snake’s name is ‘Mido’, and Sorlock is increasingly worried about who (or what) Nina could be, while Warforged is continuously impressed by how resourceful Nina seems to be. It’s not lost on Sorlock that the way Nina dotes on the snake it very similar to how she dotes on Warforged.
We reach the outskirts of the flying country. There are scorched and crashed buildings, once important locations that terrorists have disconnected from the rest of the country. Sorlock explains that the country is an entire city- no nature remains. Furthermore, the Shogun that rules it separates his city by districts, and names districts within them. This means that when you’re told to go to a district, it’s unclear whether you’re being directed to a city-sized district or an actual district the size of a city block. There are also “circles” where they keep mages, as magic is illegal here. The buildings are built wall-to-wall, so there are no alleyways. Nina swiftly realizes that she hates the entire city and its lack of nature. It’s a vicious police state, but our Guild does have a base here, made of wood with snake motifs.
We also learn that the heads of the guard guild in the City of the Sun are here, looking for the same person we are. Sorlock is revealed to be a true anarchist, and he made a deal with some kind of Phoenix in the past, but it’s turned sour on him. Sorlock reveals the truth of the anarchists of the syndicate, and how nearly every tiefling we’ve encountered so far has some tie to them. “The Blade” is the head of it, and Sorlock was kicked aside due to his restraint. Sorlock helps us find some of his old contacts to track down the Blade.
Nina comes to realize that a fallen aasimar has some kind of darkness attached to them. Furthermore, she discovers the sickness known as “Blight” seems similar to whatever corrupts Red Lyrium. But Blight only affects living things, so she keeps her opinions to herself. We then learn the Blade is actually the adopted son of the Guard leader’s, and the Blade is a man named Marcoh, and he’s a dhampir of some kind.
Paladin joins the party
Paladin comes to us as a new member of our guild, and the Yuan-Ti suggested they stick with us. He’s also a Templar of the Chantry, and a member of a guard force in the city, though he’s more loyal to his religion. While we search for information, we discover that the leaders of the Guard faction were arrested, and so Nina uses her shapechanging to help obtain information from them. Furthermore, Paladin has a son in the city that he needs to take care of. Nina is also steadily getting more unstable the longer she is separated from nature.
We eventually meet Marcoh, and learn that someone else is trying to oust him as the syndicate’s leader. We discover all his agents have secrets, and Marcoh specifically is possessed by a “Rage Demon” that occasionally takes control and may be the one we’re looking for. We make an alliance with Marcoh via Sorlock, and prepare to fake the man’s death so we can free the guard leaders, get the guild reward, and obtain a reward from Marcoh’s father. However, before we can, an attack of possessed spellcasters occurs! They all go mad, escaping their imprisonment, and they start killing people. We barely get out alive, Nina causing plants to grow behind us as one of Marcoh’s men uses a scroll to teleport us to safety.
We wind up in a fishing village, and we decide we need to get Paladin’s son somewhere safe. We begin traveling. During our trek, we learn that Warforged has regained some of her memories. She belonged to a wealthy family of elves 250 years ago, and belonged to the rebellious daughter. Warforged was repeatedly blamed for her rebellious behavior, so she was thrown to the curb 100 years into her service. We discover that Paladin actually knows the girl, now grown up, as a scholar who knew his wife, whose soul haunts him in some way, as does a religious entity of his god.
The next city we come to is not like the other city, and has nature in it. The party learns that Paladin’s son is growing scales- he’s some form of sorcerer. The party decides to head to the city’s library, run by a sapphire dragon. Nina and Warforged look at old maps of the region, specifically for a jungle called Hemiokokou- the jungle has since fallen and become part of a massive black sand desert. However, Nina just seems happy, and intends to plot a course, telling Warforged she intends to bring new life to the desert of death. Meanwhile, the party learns that the God Bahamut and the entity Sorlock made a deal with want access to Paladin’s son.
While Nina works to find jobs that might subtly point them in the direction of the desert, she is asked to join the party in meeting Bahamut. It’s revealed that the two have met, this being their fourth official meeting. It’s discovered that Paladin’s wife, and therefore his son, are descended from Bahamut, making Paladin’s son as a platinum dragon sorcerer. Nina pokes fun at ‘Fizban’ for zeus-ing people.
Ranger then reveals something troubling he’s learned- his entire village, which is underneath the mountain the City of the Sun resides on, is being overgrown by Red Lyrium. Nina reveals that she knows something almost no one else knows- the mountain is a volcano. A big one. If the Red Lyrium reaches the city, the explosion from the massive amount of yukinite making up the city will not only destroy the city, but cause an eruption that could be more devastating than Pompeii. However, they’ll need a LOT of Yukinite if they want to stop the Lyrium before it reaches the city. Nina reveals she knows a place, far away, with all the Yukinite they’d ever need. They just need to trust her.
And so, she tells them a story.
To be continued…
Introducing our Warlock Gnome, Daisy. A new addition to our group, my own sister decided she enjoyed the antics and chaos and wanted part of it. I warned her thoroughly. The bandits that were attacked had been tied to a tree on the outskirts of town. The contest was won by Daisy, and Belphegor and Gorgon destroyed the landscape.
The fight outside the mouth of the staircase was easy, just a handful of basic cultists guarding the front door. They weren’t pushovers, but definitely not a challenge for Third Base. They mopped up the lot quickly and made their way to the Dwarven City, Tyar-Besil.
Kaeden had been planning the Gorilla attack for weeks. We had a string of Covid that jumped around our table, so it left us having meetings every three weeks to a month apart for a bit. This temple felt like it dragged just based on that alone. When we finally got to do the gorilla scene with Bob, no one else but the two of us had any idea this would happen.
Polymorph is fun.
This temple was easily the most homebrewed part of my campaign so far. Every bit of this was reworked, save for the layout of the place.
The assassins the party encounters first are actually supposed to be an interaction with the boss’s right hand, who’s a bard teaching several Kenku how to play instruments. They would be expected to infiltrate and convince the bard they aren’t a threat.
I know my party well enough that they would likely shoot first and ask questions later, so I made the room full of assassins and kept the Kenku = Assassin theme through the rest of the dungeon. They would drop for the ceiling randomly throughout the dungeon to pester the party and impede progress. They somehow never learned how to look up every so often until near the end of the Temple. Now they look at every ceiling!
Poor Gorgon keeps having terrible rolls. When he rolls a 1, his gun backfires and he takes damage. And he has poison-dipped bullets for his rifle, so he takes that damage too. I’m planning on removing that extra penalty, or he’s going to die fast.
Halcyon took a lot of flak through the rest of the dungeon for trying to be a good guy here. Admittedly, it’s in his character to attempt to free “trapped” prisoners, but it was stated that they were there of their own free will a couple of times. Sending one off just to have him report to his superiors, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
The last cultist that was taken with them, at Belphegor’s firm request, was affectionately named Tongueless, due to the fact that his tongue had been removed by the cult. As for the card-playing cultists, they were all cheating and totally deserved it.
There were two major points in this meeting that make it, likely, my favorite one we’d had. Ahtayir and what I’m calling “the Hallway scene.”
The poison vial that Gorgon tossed in was a crazy powerful acid/poison that likely would have killed whatever it touched, thankfully and sadly, he missed. The angry priest was a fun sequence, I gave them a few moments to set their trap as he stormed over to the door and flung it open to get “Home Alone’d” by Third Base, beaten to near-death, and fed to a ravenous zombie. It got me a little worried that our group was getting a little too sadistic with the level of brutality with the killings, but we had been doing back-to-back combats for nearly 3 meetings, so the bloodthirstiness was high.
This brings us to the Hallway Scene. So much happened in this area that we have to dissect it to fully understand. Caw ran down the hallway and turned a corner, running to the end of that hallway to a door, as well as the path to the plot. He opens the door and manages to roll high enough on a Dex saving throw to dodge a LIGHTNING BOLT that got fired from a rather angry and prepared Hurricane. Caw runs back down the hallway, Hurricane in tow, passing Gorgon as he turns the corner. Another lightning bolt is fired from the Hurricane and Gorgon is reduced to 0 HP. The only sound is Caw holding back his cackling, knowing that should have been him.
Uh…oops, genuine shock on my part, did not intend for that to happen. Roll with it.
As Caw ran back for the party, the Hurricane had stepped over Gorgon’s incapacitated and slightly burnt form to give chase again. Caw dropping those ball bearings and oil to create fire was clever, but this was the point where they realized that they really needed to look up more often.Turning the flaming ball bearings to ice…at this point they were running this ship and I was just watching the chaos. Surfing on a zombie, using Tongueless as a rug, thankfully the ultimate final decision to get the rest of the party over was to tear down some tapestries and use those to cover the surface and walk safely.
Then there’s Ahtayir. After the Hallway Scene finished, they met the powerful and enslaved Djinn that upkept the temple, imprisoned by the first Dwarf King who had captured him and forced him to build this place. The Djinn gives them their ultimate task, to find Aerisi and end her reign. Thankfully, they didn’t attack Ahtayir and they actually befriended him, he even carved Gorgon’s sigil into the runes on the Temple wall.
The last part of this is Kaz Hanar, the bounty hunter. This was honestly supposed to be a mini-boss in the temple on the side of Aerisi. I decided to pull this character entirely, so I could have a recurring character that was clearly threatening, knew a lot of info about their enemies, and also showed he wouldn’t impede. My guys loved this guy and are waiting for him to pop up in the next temple, hopefully not completely aligned with the enemy again. Kaz gives them more in-depth info about Aerisi, like personality traits, physical appearance, leadership style, etc.
This is also where Belphegor gets…ideas.
He’s not kidding.
I ALMOST KILLED BOB! DAMMIT!
This session is the epitome of every D&D group gone off the rails. This is what every horny bard aspires to do, and this time it wasn’t the bard that was the horny one. Far from it.
I had to listen to this plan, which was strangely a good one, as it formed and each player added more and more until it took full form. Truly, their plan became Belphegor entering the temple without his pants, Kaeden in tow with the story of Belphegor arriving to court Aerisi and have Kaeden record “the moment their love blossomed”. It was Kaeden’s +11 persuasion paired with an 18 that convinced the enemies that he was completely serious, who had erupted in laughter and slowly faded to chuckles of disbelief.
What followed was ten minutes of honestly, likely the most fluid NPC role-playing I have ever done with a player in any D&D group I’ve been in. The back and forth between the characters, the amount of effort that Belphegor actually put into it let me really use Aerisi’s twisted personality how it should have been, and it led to exactly what was expected.
This ends the first installment of The (continuous) tale of Third Base! Once these guys and gals make it through the second temple, which is approaching, I’ll begin compiling for the second installment, provided Kaeden keeps writing!
Hello folks who have decided to read this wonderful, terrifying, and questionable post. Welcome!
My name is Dahvir, I run a 5e game for a group of 6 players, most of whom I work with or live with. We’re running a heavily modified version of Princes of the Apocalypse, most of which I’ve used the framework and foundation for. A lot of what is “supposed to happen'' in this adventure book…yeah I kinda didn’t do that. I kept some cool stuff, have more cool stuff planned, but as far as the main story goes and how they get there, that’s aaaaaaall mine.
Our party consists of a Kaeden, a Human bard, Belphegor, a Human Cleric(?), Halcyon, a Human Paladin, Caw, a Kenku Rouge, and Gorgon, an Elf Blood Hunter. Later, we pick up a Warlock during our travels, and at the beginning, we part with a Lizardfolk Monk named Nizbel who had been previously traveled with.
Our bard is doing a wonderful thing in our Discord server for us all, he’s decided to post a recap of each session from his character’s perspective, a way to keep everyone (and me) remembering everything that happens over the course of our adventure. I’d like to share the first portion of their adventures so far for your…”reading pleasure”? I’ll let you be the judge. At the end of each session, I’ll add in “directors cut” notes, like things that the book intended, my thoughts on their curveballs and reactions, and things that didn’t make it to recap. If you enjoy it, more will come as they progress.
Allow me to present…
Our first meeting was as theatrical as I could make it; I wanted this shit to be gripping. I’ve been told by my players I accomplished that. Nizbel leaving was a fun bit, his player decided to leave the group for personal reasons, so I used his character’s background to make him a “heathen” to the church, to explain why he wouldn’t be allowed inside to advance the plot forward. Should that player decide to return to our group, I have that character in the background of the adventure, “roaming the world” so to speak.
And the blacksmith’s roof wouldn’t need to be repaired if Belphegor hadn’t fired an Eldritch blast into the air. A kinetic blast that flew up and came back down on said roof. Well done. (And yes I’m aware Eldritch Blast requires a living target. Comedic effect override.)
I would like to point out a few character traits before we continue. Halcyon is virtuous to a fault, his first instinct when they arrived was to help bless and bury the dead. I had to rein him into the plot before he could do it. Belphegor is…unnatural. He believes in Freedom. Period. If you’re in captivity, he gets you out. If you attack him, he “frees you from your mortal coil” in his words. Gorgon is a very take-charge hunter, has a lot of ideas and keeps me guessing thoroughly because he can influence Belphegor which usually influences the party. Caw never speaks normally, just mimicking which is a Kenku race trait. Antics ensue with a mute character, especially one that is a rogue and silent by nature. And that leaves us with poor Kaeden, a bard looking for adventure and finding the end of the world, led on the path to save it by….this lot.
Oh boy, where to begin here. How about combat?
The gates around Red Larch aren’t actually part of the book, I added them in because there weren't any actual combat situations that I could put my players in for…awhile. So by making bandit covered gates, it gives them something to fight on their way out of town. I had to make a custom map for this in Roll20, since we use a virtual map for our games and the Dnd Beyond app for character sheet management. (Not a plug, just helpful and how we keep things digital.) These…boneheads destroyed the gate entirely. I was assuming they would try to talk their way through and lead into combat, maybe try to force through the gate?
No, Gorgon found the secret door in the side of the gate, managed to stealth past the actually threatening guard who botched a roll and got caught munching on a muffin, snuck up the stairs and killed two men, kicking one off the top of the gate. Belphegor uses Spirit Guardians and describes a terrifying hellscape zone that’s 15 feet wide, catching most of the enemies and doing continuous damage just by standing there, and he’s acting like a demon lord the entire time. It’s entertaining…and concerning.
Now, after most everyone was dead, Caw had snuck up into the tower with some oil and decided it would be fun to burn down the gate and blame it on the bandit’s captain. Not a soul knows other than Belphegor that he did this and it created this strange Father/Son thing between them that has not stopped being entertaining.
The blacksmith really hates Belphegor.
I like to imagine Kaeden scribbling furiously as things happen.
Feathergale Spire was a fun one. The Feathergale Knights were supposed to be enemies, the spire was supposed to be infiltrated, information gathered, blah blah booooorring. Instead, I place a false leader associated with one of the cults in place, put a blood curse on the real one, and fill the Spire with corrupted Knights! Talk your way in, sneak up to the roof, fight your way out.
As for the begging and pleading to Belphegor to turn off his spirits, Gorgon has a magic coin that allows him to thought-share with whoever holds it, most of the time it’s Caw, who I believe gave it to him after combat concluded. This fight was rather brutal, the party was not merciful to the cultists, much to Halcyon’s dismay. He’d expressed his dislike of killing several times at this point, and tension had been created between him and Belphegor who was (is?) walking chaos.
The roof battle was rather interesting. Caw was playing peek-a-boo with the Knight’s Captain by shooting him with makeshift bomb arrows and ducking behind a half-wall for cover, Belphegor was content inside of his Spirit Guardians bubble and casting Sacred Flame, and Halcyon had parked himself in the open, attracting the enemies to him and his 22AC while swinging his axe. The Hell-Bubble was thankfully contained to sparing the Knights, however one of the flying mounts, a giant vulture did die, which led to its Knight holding a grudge that will last ten lifetimes against Belphegor. I had spun that each Knight grew up with their mount, creating a sibling-like bond between them. I might do something with that Knight later.
Let’s talk about Bob.
In the fight on the roof, Belphegor managed to resurrect one of the dead cultists in the fight with a wondrous item called a Night Caller. The cultist formerly known as Alan, now became Bob.
Enjoy Bob. Bob isn’t going anywhere.
Brutality is the group’s M.O. in the tower, Belphegor felt the challenge of “I don’t need Spirit Guardians to be threatening” and decided disintegrating cultists was better with Inflict Wounds. His first one was a natural 20, which led to a gentle hand on one enemy’s shoulder and a pile of ash falling to the ground. Kaeden using his friend/foe swap spell was a great twist too, turning the enemies’ commander on them and sending them against his own allies. Once returned to his throne, King Devon tasks the party with going to Knifepoint Gulch and finding some missing Knights before returning to Red Larch.
The Hippogriff is a slow building mount. Right now it can’t fly and can’t support more than one person, but more fun comes later when it matures. I know you’re reading this Caw.
Story Thus Far: five players came together for Kingmaker (Dwarf, Ranger, Witch, Druid, and Bard), and within the first week, kicked over the Stag Lord through incredible amounts of teamwork, some luck, and tactics. They've recruited nearly every bandit they've encountered, along with a Boggard, a kobold tribe, and made relations with a group of fairies called Grigs (half person, half grasshopper fey). Within their first year, they've learned several exploits to the Kingdom Building rules, and have started making custom magic items. They have an inkling of something darker going on in the Stolen Lands, but for now, they're building their kingdom. During their year off, they also gave a large endowment of BP to Loy Rezbin, who is looking to build his own town at the river ford where the PCs fought the Tatzylwyrms.
The Kingdom: After the first year of kingdom building, they have two cities, their capital, and Teverton, named for Oleg and Svetlana Teverton. Their council includes an elf, a dwarf, a fallen paladin, a disgraced priest, more than one bandit from the Stag Lord, a Grig, a kobold, and a Boggard. They've cut a swath of roads, farmlands, and a couple of mines up the middle, and their capital holds nearly all of the 4-square buildings, just needing a Waterfront to even it out. Right now, Teverton is a Market with two houses attached to it.
The AP truly begins when the PCs hear rumor of troll sightings to the south, and something off about them. Given the setup, the PCs decide to ride out. They decide that they should all the way around the Tuskwater first, since that's the lake their capital is on, but, they haven't built bridges across the river that block their route south yet, so they'll need to travel around. They break to the west, figuring that they can check out Tatzlford as they go.
First, however, they meet Jubilost Narthropple, of the Narthropple Expedition. With Ranger and Druid on hand, it's only too easy to get the ponies unhitched from their wagon, and get the wagon back up. They even make repairs to the wagon magically, and get some encounter sites, such as an abandoned keep, the Lizardfolk to the south, Candlemere Tower, the Gurdin River Ford, and a druid's grove. Dwarf is very keen on Jubilost's search for an old Dwarven keep somewhere in the south, and Bard is looking to recruit Jubilost, which goes well. They warn Jubilost about the troll sightings to the south, and they head off west along the river.
As they travel along the river, though, they do come across the loggers and Melianse. Bard actually cracked his knuckles, since to his mind, this was obviously a time for talking. He speaks with Corax, then with Melianse, and in getting to a solution, discusses with the Druid making it so that they could not only go after a different patch of these trees, but work on building them up to be able to make the lumber more common. Melianse is thrilled, Corax gets an entirely new business opportunity, and the nixies agrees to protect the rivers and waters of the kingdom. Bard talks to Melianse in particular about sending a representative to his capital, now putting us to two fey groups that are both in-line with the party.
They swing through Tatzlford, chat with Loy and his wife for a time, letting them know that if they need further help, they'd be happy to assist, before crossing, and coming down the other side of the river. Along the way, the party decides to check in with the grove, and meet Tiressia and Falchos. Tiressia, as in the AP, is crying by a pond, while Falchos is hiding behind the treeline. Bard asks for a sense motive, while Ranger scans around, and on perception, beats Falchos's stealth handily.
Bard realizes this is a setup for something, and I have a moment where I'm a little worried that they're about to take it pretty badly (I mean, the number of times these guys have been jumped would have that tendency). Ranger quietly informs Bard of the satyr, and Bard instructs Ranger to keep it to a warning shot. The warning shot is two arrows striking the tree Falchos is using to hide, right near his head, one just under the other, while Bard calls out, "We mean no harm, but if this is an ambush, it won't go any better for you than the last few dozen times folks have tried it on us. We've been good friends of the fey thus far. Step out, and we'll talk."
For the sake of understanding, the Druid repeats the statement in Sylvan, and Tiressia drops the act. Bard introduces himself, as well as giving Melianse, Tig, and Perlivash as character references, and Tiressia calms down noticeably, as does Falchos. They get to talking, and the party finds out about the Scythe Tree that has taken over Tiressia's bonded tree. They agree to help, and immediately roll out to the south, diverting to explore their first new hex.
The scythe tree doesn't prove to be difficult in and of itself. Most of the party is either wielding slashing weapons, such as Dwarf's axe, or they've got fire, which is a pretty obvious thing to use against a plant. However, when they explore the hex, they hit another troll encounter, but it not like before. The first noticeable point is that the trolls are wearing hide armor, and have bucklers strapped to their arm so they can still use their claws. As well, Ranger notes that they are moving like a unit, not the usual group of trolls.
When the trolls spot the group, One of them bellows out something in Giant, and I pass a note to Ranger, who is the only member of the party who speaks Giant. It reads, "DEATH TO THE REAVERS!"
Ranger: "What the f---?!"
And the trolls charge.
Stay tuned for part 8
TL;DR thus far: The party managed to kick over the Stag Lord in about a week, choosing path of redemption for the bandits they came across, with exceptions of one poor guy who took an arrow through the center of his forehead in the first encounter, Dovan of Nisroch (Who successfully fled) The Stag Lord, and the Stag Lord's father. The party are level 5 now, have finished exploring the map, and have picked up a smattering of magical items, including a Lyre of Building.
We spent a special session for teaching everyone how the Kingdom Building rules work, as well as naming the Kingdom, and capital. Bard is officially named as king, and one of the guys came up with a banner for the kingdom, which was just nice to have.
Meanwhile, they have to name people to offices, and honestly, they're a bit spoiled for choice at the moment, since they have way more NPCs than the AP considered at this point. You've got Five party members, Svetlana and Oleg, Kressle, Happs, Akiros, Jhod, and Kesten, so 12 just off the top, and that's without potentially guys like Bokken. So they certainly have enough people to cover all of their bases for the council. However, the party also wants to bring in Chief Sootscale from the kobolds, Garuum, the boggard they met while they were finishing exploration, even Perlivash and Tig-Titter Cut (A faerie dragon and Grig that they met). Perlivash, just by personal taste, isn't interested, but Tig goes to his people for a representative, since grigs as a whole are prevalent in the Stolen Lands.
I really didn't see that last part coming. Chief Sootscale, I decide, is busy tending to his own people, but he sends along Mikmek as representative for the tribe, and Tig's people also send one of theirs as a representative. Once they work out positions for everyone, the stage is set. Okay, so now, the hex they are in has to be cleared, and work on the first city district begins, but that's going to take a month, so the party wants to get a jump on hex-clearing. They do their run-through, clearing 23 hexes (They're in about June for Golarion), and they're making good time, as i ruled that while they were waiting for reps from Restov, their items came in, giving the group the Rings and Boots, so they no longer have the horses and wagon to contend with.
I have been rolling with weather rules, and the party is running into issues that first month, because some summer storms move in. This is when the group starts getting a bit more inventive: They want to make a magic item for themselves, which we loosely call Daern's Instant Cabin. As the name suggests, it's a secure cabin that they can put up and take down as they travel, allow them a comfy place to rest in. At the same time, they want to upgrade their boots as well, and Bard has looked up the rules for adding to magic items. They settle on two enchantments for the boots to tack on, Wilderness Stride, and Endure Elements from the Boots of the Winterland. The idea was to call them the Boots of the Winter Wilderness Stride, but more often than not, they got mistakenly referred to as the Boots of the Winter Wonderland Stride, and it was too funny not to start going with it more and more.
Well, these items would take time, of course, so the party did their first proper Kingdom turn, then finished up clearing hexes, before settling into work on downtime stuff. The Lyre of Building ended up being fairly insane for kingdom building (The exact reason it would later get nerfed for Kingdom Building rules). The BP that they are given represents both personnel, as well as materials, abstracting the process of building, and then the Lyre is pretty crazy on top of that, so the group builds up the Castle on the cheap, and then we hit on the next little curveball: The Witch's Fortune Hex.
It's advantage on pretty much any roll, which they start using to bump their economic roll each turn. The Economic roll is a general abstraction of course, but they're literally in charge, and the Witch can simply keep Fortune hexing individuals through the admin week to get the effect. This on average works out to the equivalent of a plus 5 on the roll, going by statistics. It was a waste on their first roll, however, cause the King drops a nat 20 on the first roll, to which I jokingly replied, "Did you want to roll again, and see if you get higher?" He felt confident that 20 was as high as he was going to roll on a d20.
Then the event roll happens, and they pull an event: Economic Boom. Roll a d6, you get that many BP, and it's an exploding die. They walked away with 15 extra BP from the event. I am laughing my ass off behind the screen with my head in my hand. In one turn, they've almost fully recouped the cost of the castle, and the year is going to go weird from there. By group decision, they focus on building their main 2x2 buildings first, primarily the Cathedral, and Arena, along with laying down houses for folks.
For expansion, they decide the best route is to claim, farm and road up to Oleg's, so that they can establish the town of Teverton, and take advantage of the South Rostland Road.
With clearing finished up for the stuff they already explored, the group sets about the downtime stuff, upgrading their gear, starting with the boots. In the course of things, Loy Rezbin shows up to ask for investment for the foundation of Tatzlford, and the group gives him a fairly big endowment for it. The section of the adventure path recommends a year of game time, before the new stuff starts up.
And then... the Druid. Apparently, he's made the controversial decision to actually read his spell lists, and looks over a particular spell, Plant Growth. The alternate effect, that no ones actually uses, which reads as thus: "Enrichment: This effect targets plants within a range of a half-mile, raising their potential productivity over the course of the next year to one-third above normal. "
Yeah... So guess what the Druid did? He started making absurd use of the spell, until he realized how much faster it would be to just make a specific wondrous item with the spell on it, that he could allow to be used for the effect. First thing to do was specify that the item only does the enrichment, lower it only 3 uses per day, and that it uses a specific command word, and a standard action to use it. So again, I now have to start redrafting what's going on in kingmaker. End ruling, for every 3 hexes of farmland, you get one extra consumption taken off. And again, this is prior to the creation of the erratas for these rules, so there's nothing saying that you can't have negative consumption. Again, it's going to come up.
In the first year, they expanded to a kingdom of 14 hexes (1 hex a month for the first 10 months, then 2 hexes a month for two months after that). Every hex has a farm, a road, as well as having the gold and silver mines from the prior adventure. Their main city has a Castle, Arena, and Cathedral, as well being well on their way to the Waterfront.
The year passed pretty well, and things started getting a little off-kilter, but it truly balloons out in Rivers Run Red.
Stay Tuned for Part 7
TL;DR: Through teamwork, tactics, and some really great RP, my Players (Ranger, Druid, Witch, Fighter, and Bard) have been tearing through the first arc of Kingmaker. Bard has taken to recruiting bandits, and through mainly RP means, has even been bringing Kressle away from the track she has been on. After a weird hell run of random encounters, the party is now approach The Stag Lord's Keep.
The plan my group came up with was pretty strong, but they didn't tell me all of their plan. What they did was cover the wagon with hides from the owlbear and elk they had encountered earlier, approaching with Kressle in the lead, since she was appointed by the Stag Lord. This was done to secure the ruse long enough to be inside, since obviously, as lieutenant she would be far more trusted than a bunch of randos.
They recited the passphrase, and got questioned about the covered wagon. They pulled the hides, revealing all of the treasure they'd accumulated, and on top, the Stag Lord's herbal liquor from the Thorn River Camp. This, of course, had the bandits of the keep quite excited, and they were ushered in with no further questions. The Stag Lord appears, ignoring everyone, and grabs the crate with his booze, ordering in general for the treasure to be 'taken below', while he got to the important task of drinking. From here, the party helped move the treasure, getting a warning about the crazy person in the basement, then everyone set about celebrations. The group spread out a bit around the main area, using the excuse they'd been stuck with the same people for over a week, and some new company would be considered a boon.
RP time hits, the group getting to know their fellow 'bandits', and Bard starts trading stories with Topper Red, whose own backstory has him as a more of a storyteller, who is romanticizing the life of a bandit (This is actually canon for the character in the adventure). Witch starts chatting up Akiros, discovering that he may not necessarily be against the party when everything goes down. Druid checks out the owlbear cage, silently seething at its treatment, but doesn't blow cover. Dwarf is getting a drinking contest going with some of the others.
The important person here, however, is Ranger. Ranger is mostly quiet, enjoying herself, but keeping an eye on the Stag Lord as he gets drunk, and she's helping him to get there faster. Eventually, he heads to his chambers, and Ranger starts just sort walking toward his room. One of the bandits calls out for her to come over, nad without hesitation, Ranger replies, "Thanks, but I'm not sleeping my way to the middle", and saunters into the Stag Lord's chambers, where he's passed out drunk. She calls for a Coup de Grace with her bow (Automatic crit), and the damage roll goes high. The Stag Lord fails his Fort Save, and he is dead, shot through the throat with an arrow.
A minute later, Ranger comes walking out of the room, wearing the Stag Lord's helm, and throws his head in the middle of the room. This part, I was not prepared for: The entire group hid nets under their cloaks, and used them now, throwing them over the nearest bandits to them. Caught off guard, and with most of the bandits well into their cups at this point, it doesn't go well for them. Dovan realizes what's happening, doesn't get netted, and hits the lever on the owlbear cage before running from the keep. This unleashes the crazed owlbear from its pen, and it goes on the attack. By now, though, the party is an old hand at these things, and they bring it down, though not before Dovan succeeds to grab a spare horse, and gets clear of the Keep.
Bard commands everyone to stand down, and they will not be executed. Akiros throws down his Stag Lord Amulet, and with Dovan gone, along with the Stag Lord dead, and most of the remaining bandits under nets, they surrender. Keeping everyone together means they can't really pursue Dovan, but they got basically everyone else. After securing the bandits with rope, they hit the basement, and fight the Stag Lord's insane druid father, kill him, and the entire combat section is just over with.
Kressle is dumbstruck. The Stag Lord was a peerless killer, and he's just been absolutely slaughtered by a group of teenagers who haven't even been in the Stolen Lands for two whole weeks yet. Not only is he dead, but with the exception of Dovan, they secured every bandit in the keep. It's done, and every bandit is either gone, or under the authority of this group.
Bard commences with speeches and diplomacy checks, pointing to the fact that they will build something greater here than their former boss could have ever hoped for, and that all of them have the chance to claim a true piece of it. I had a small bit of RP of Topper furiously taking notes as they're going along, cause I mean, come on, this is a pretty awesome right now.
Now, at this point, they just have to get the Stag Lord's body back to Oleg's so he can send it off as proof of the Stag Lord being done, and they've completed this entire part. What the group decides is that they want to fill in more of the map before the drop-off, starting with the eastern side of the area. The Witch casts Gentle Repose on the Stag Lord's corpse, and leave Kressle in charge of the newest bandits, with Akiros as her second, since he did change sides as soon as things went down. They grab Falgrim Sneeg, since they have a wanted poster on him from Kesten Garess, and I make the character decision that Topper begs to go with them. He's fully fascinated with their story, and wants to commit it to paper. They do take time to fully explore the keep, and take care of the field of undead to the east of the keep, exploring the hex fully.
To fill in the sections of map they're missing to the east, it will take around ten days. One thing that occurs to the group as a whole is that, as they're getting more powerful, their mounts are going to be more and more crunchy. While having the mounts was a huge boon at first, it's clearly dropping off, and Ranger brings up that she's almost as fast as the horses with her boots on, and triggers off a discussion about magic items, Bard getting it in his head that if they all have the rings of sustenance and boots of springing and striding on, then they won't need the horses, since they already have a Handy Haversack to keep treasure in. I mean, he's really wrong, since it would open up 6 extra hours per day for the party. The boots put their movement to 40, so combined, yeah, they can easily go without the horses, and still keep pace.
They push onward, exploring each hex as it comes, until they arrive at Nettle's Crossing. Here, they discover an undead victim of the Stag Lord, who wants his revenge against the Stag Lord, asking for his body to be given to the river. Admittedly, the first thing that happened was the party took Nettles down, only to see him rise from the water again. After this, they discussed it, and came to the decision that Nettles would only get to move on if he had his business settled. They relinquish the Stag Lord's corpse into the river, and recover Nettles' ranseur. Topper is loving this.
They find the Forgotten Cache, and continue around along the South Rostland road to make sure they're done. Once back in Oleg's, they report to Kesten the death of the Stag Lord, including giving his corpse to a river to settle an undead's spirit. Kesten informs them that this means that Restov will have to send a representative to confirm the death of the Stag Lord, which is going to take a few weeks. Party's fine with this, as it gives them time to finish their explorations.
Next up, the group grabs Happs and his bandit village, informing Happs and the bandits of the Stag Lord's death. The bandits are all rattled by it. To their minds, he was a nearly unbeatable god, and not only is this group wearing his helm, none of them look the worse for wear. None object when Bard calls for them to pull up stakes, and follow them south. It does take longer getting them back to the Keep, since they have to slow down for the bandits. During the trip, they do pull an encounter with a couple of trolls, but it goes poorly quickly for the trolls (Yes, the trolls encounters will have an effect in the next arc).
In the course of things, the party hits level 5, between encounters and quests, and the first break occurs: One of the random loot rolls comes up as a Lyre of Building. It is... yeah, this is going to change things markedly. At the time, the errata that nerfed the Lyre in Kingmaker hadn't been put out yet, so lacking such errata, it works as written: It completes the same labor as 100 men working for 3 days for every 30 minutes played. For each hour of playing after the 1st, the player has to roll a DC 18 Perform check. Problem there is, the Bard is an absolute performance beast. Worse, once you add the Witch's Fortune Hex into it, he is basically incapable of failing the performance check, even at 5th level.
Okay, let's think about the numbers: 100 men work 8 hours a day, for 3 days, that's 800 a day, so 2400 man hours of labor per 30 minutes. If the bard plays for 8 hours, that's 16 half-hour increments, completing 38,400 hours of labor for ONE DAY of playing a lyre, the equivalent of 1600 straight days of work, or almost 4.5 years. And that is the conservative version, as if it were taken literally, it would be exponentially higher (Starting from a base of 2400, instead of 800, which would be just over 13 years of 24/7 labor done in one 8 hour day).
Now, I could have simply not let them have it, or done several other things, but I've been very clear with my party that I do not fudge rolls, not in their favor, and not against them. The Lyre came up, that's what the roll dictated, so that's what they get.
Bard is unanimously nominated as King, and we get ready to embark on the next arc of Kingmaker.
Stay tuned for Part 6.
I recently learned that I would like to try my luck as a narrator and made a video reading one of the stories from this subreddit. I'm brand new to the area so don't be to harsh xD
TL;DR for story thus far: Party rolled into the Stolen Lands, and kicked over the initial encounter at Oleg's with proper teamwork, and spell use. They immediately start converting bandits to their cause, promising pay and opportunities for them, and then head for the bandit's camp at Thorn River. They sneak into the camp under cover of night, and stand the encounter down, capturing a bandit named Kressle, and with a combination of intimidation and diplomacy, convince her not to fight them for the time being. They loot the camp, turning up some map info, getting the Stag Lord's booze, and getting the passphrase and location for the Stag Lord's Keep to the south. Party moves out, stopping at Oleg's, and most of the bandits are set up in a tent village after being paid out, given food and alcohol, and Jhod Kavken is sent to minister to them to help keep them on the rehab. Kressle is kept with the party, since they know she's not fully on their side yet. They stop by Bokken's Hut, encountering a Will O Wisp while exploring. They start to make their way to an Old Sycamore Tree where there are mites, but end up fighting 4 Trolls, using teamwork and mounts to bring them down, and also saving Kressle's life during the fight, at risk to their own. They get a massive amount of loot out of this for their level.
After the trolls, the party makes camp, finishes up the hex, and decides to split the loot. Druid gets a Ring of Sustenance, while the Ranger is given Boots of Springing and Striding, and the Dwarf is carrying the handy Handy Haversack. In the course of loot, there's also a mwk chain shirt, which on checking, no one is going to use. Dwarf is in heavier armor, Ranger has mwk studded leather, and thus the chain shirt is given to Kressle, which brings her AC a little, and won't interfere with her Dex (Ranger was obviously eyeing Dex bump at 4th). Then it comes to party split on the coins, and Bard splits six ways on coin, giving each of the six of them around 100g each. As Kressle, I question the number, because there are only five party members.
Bard: "No, there are six. Me, Ranger, Druid, Witch, Dwarf... and you. That's six."
Kressle goes quiet as she's handed her share of the loot. The party, meanwhile, are sort of just chattering away. 100gp may not seem like much for PCs, and it isn't, but for everyone else, it's an insane sum of cash. Add to that the value of a masterwork set of armor, and she's sitting on more than she's made in her entire life up to this point. For someone who was raised as a bandit, by bandit parents, this is a language that she does understand. I let the party sit and discuss for a bit, while I just sort of consider things from Kressle's point of view.
They make deals, and they abide by whatever deals they make. They don't necessarily want to fight, but they're absolutely fearless when combat is joined, and if you're on their team, they'll put themselves to the line to protect you. They're also incredibly strong, able to take down far more powerful enemies, and they fight smart, able to fully trust each other. Kressle has never had anything like that in her life, and hasn't seen anything like that either. She may have heard tavern stories here or there, but those could be dismissed as minstrel's fancies. Now, she's looking at the real thing, and none of these people are even that old, really. By the math, they're all at the tail end of being teenagers, and they're already fighting trolls and such. When they mention the upcoming mite lair, they aren't worried, they're just talking about it like it's a normal day.
The Bard, particularly, is fascinating from her perspective. They both lost their parents to violence, they both ended up running for the Stolen Lands, they're both lowborn, and both of them grew up poor, with no prospect of ever getting out from under it. It's like a strange fun house mirror of each other. As she leaned into fighting and violence, he leaned into people and stories, like he became kinder as a person in direct defiance of the entire world around him. I'm not sure where Kressle is going from here, but then, I figure she doesn't really know the answer to that either, and that's a direction, too.
In the morning, everyone rides out, and they explored along to the Mite Lair. By this point, I know they're not going to be long here, both because of level, as well as just how fast they're clearing things. They dip right from the inside, heading down to the bottom of the lair directly, and find the kobold Mikmek, being tortured and prodded by a gang of mites. Ranger is leading the way, and takes out 2 of them, with Kressle taking out another one with a thrown axe, but I make note that something feels different about this fight to her. The fight is pretty much over before it even gets going, and the party frees Mikmek, tossing him some healing, and giving what gear they can, before crossing the chasm. The Giant Whiptail Centipede rears up as they're crossing, and it alerts the main team in the next cavern. Dwarf knows he can't really fight the centipede properly, and with Ranger on the root bridge, he decides the logical course of action is to run and jump the chasm. I have give me a check, and he throws a natural 20 for the jump. It takes him well over the DC for the horizontal jump, and I rule that when he lands, he does it in hero pose. He takes on last 5' of movement, and prepares to meet the oncoming mites.
Top of the round comes, with two essential groups. Druid, Ranger, and Bard are going to keep fighting the centipede for the moment, while Kressle and Witch are moving across to deal with the mites. Kressle follows suit after the Dwarf, jumping it, Ranger, finishes crossing to open up the bridge, while Druid and Witch move across. Bard hangs out on the other side, using his inspire courage ability. Witch casts summon monster to bring up 3 dire rats on the other side of the mites, while Druid Shillelagh's his quarterstaff to act as bait for the centipede (already has barkskin up). Grabbles, the mites' leader, and his Dire Tick, Tickleback, have extra movement options in the fight. Meanwhile, more mites are moving in from the other side of the room, and they'll be in it on the next round.
Ranger is dropping two burning arrows a round into the centipede, the Druid is tanking, with the bard doing his performance. They bring down the centipede, and the Druid drops 3 more dire rats on the mites. It doesn't take long for them to bring them all down, and be done with it. Mikmek does a little here or there, but he's not exactly keeping up with the group right now. They search the room, loot everything, getting the mites' map, the statuette of Old Sharptooth, and talk with Mikmek, who promises his chieftain will reward them handsome for the statue. It also seems Svetlana's Ring is in the kobold lair. Druid and Ranger harvest venom from the centipede.
They finish clearing the rest of the mite lair, but at this point, I just narrate it, since there's no legitimate chance the mites are going to come out of this, and the group rides on for the kobolds. They note the sign for it being a silver mine, but notice their wagon won't fit. This feels like something that's going to be more talking than fighting, so they ask Kressle to watch the wagon and horses, while they go talk with the Sootscales. Chief Sootscale is obviously happy to have his tribemate returned, with the statue, and the scene proceeds along, with Chief breaking the statuette, and rallying his people to kill the Shaman. The party asks to aid in this, if they can keep the treasure of the Shaman after they win. Mikmek assures the Chief that they are very strong, noting that they took out the entire mite lair by themselves (Also, a sort of "don't f--- around and find out on these ones"), and the Chief agrees. The party proceeds in, and again, it's just not a fair fight on any level. They take the Shaman apart, and lay claim to his stuff, including Svetlana's ring, and the journal of the Shaman. The Bard talks about making friends with the Sootscale tribe, to which the Chief happily agrees. I mean, let's be fair, in the last day or so, they've proven quite powerful, so having powerful friends is not a hard sell, on top of how much they've helped his tribe.
Days are checked, and if they pop back by Oleg's, they have enough time to finish exploring all the way to the Stag Lord's Keep by the end of their self-imposed deadline. Checking quest log, they figure they might be able to squeeze in getting Moon Radishes, and the Fangberries is they've got time.
They figure the trip back to Oleg's is gonna be pretty straightforward. My Dice, however, had a very different plan. In order, the 5% chance that they would get a random encounter crossing each hex border turned up: 6 elk, 6 bandits, 3 trolls, 1 shambling mound, and on the way back down, 4 more trolls. In one week, this group of teenagers has dropped almost a dozen trolls, and I make note of it for later. By the end of this run of luck, I was just laughing at it.
At Oleg's, they dropped off the Elk meat for their bandits, including 6 new recruits who are a bit thunderstruck, having watched the group take down the trolls and shambling mound. Bard is still doing his full recruiting run, and he's getting better at it, both numerically, and RP-wise. Kressle gets her share again, and the party does a quick shopping trip through Oleg, turn in quests, and receive a new quest from the Swordlords: To Kill the Stag Lord, and the reward for this one is a new charter to settle the Stolen Lands. Bard's eyes gleam.
With all the XP, they cross the line, they're level 4 when they hit the keep. One thing I didn't pay enough attention to was what they bought at Oleg's. With the exception of the Ranger, everyone bought a net, and it will matter. They're also talking about how they should probably gets Boots and Rings of Sustenance for everyone, as there's a huge advantage to it for them for purposes of exploration. That order will take time, however, since Oleg would have to order it specially from Restov. The group holds onto the treasure for the moment, though, as they need it for the Keep.
Bard asks Kressle if she wants to come along to the Stag Lord's Keep, which she is a little taken aback by. She had, to this point, assumed she just had to stay, but they're giving her the option. Bard explains that they only kept her with them, because they weren't sure as to whether they could trust her or not, but going to do this thing with the Stag Lord's too big an ask, and she's already proven herself to them. It's up to her, she can come with them, stay with the other bandits, or take her share, and ride out.
I call a 10 minute recess, and sort of run a scene in my head: Her and Happs are going to talk. By story, they were hooking up casually, but here, she needs to talk to him a great deal differently. Happs is sort of hoping for another roll around, but Kressle has a serious point for her, and he does pick up on it. She's changed. Essentially, Kressle has hit a branching path, and she isn't sure where to go. Happs is fairly happy to take the casual route through all this, but for Kressle, she was starting to have ambitions for herself. I take some time to mull it over while the group is getting snacks and such.
In the end, Kressle chooses to see it through. She's not sure what comes of all this after, or if she'll even live through what's coming, but she wants to see what that world would look like, and something in her doesn't want to abandon them.
Stay tuned for Part 5.
After the first wave of Covid hit I managed to join a relatively short campaign. We started at lvl 7 or 8 I think. I took the chance to play a str8 battlemaster and had a blast.
Anyway, it was a party of five and among us was a horny bard. It was annoying at times but not entirely problematic and the game was somewhat goofy so it was not a tone deaf approach either. The player was good but the character was purposedly hamstringed by its... well... character. A hopeless romanting at times and a butterfly with a boner the rest of the day. He reminded me of Roberto Benigni for some reason. A bit of an over energetic man-child.
While the build was suboptimal, the character behaved in combat and clutch moments and wouldn't try to flirt with the naga while the rest of the party was being eaten alive. It was fine, though in RP situations and specially during downtime, he spothogged a little with his romantic diatribes.
Anyway, we were midpoint in the campaign and the DM asked us before a session what mid-high level magic item we would like before the end. It was so that he could write in into the plot and let us have it for the final third of the road. Cool move. I asked for a +3 warpick because my character was obsessed with that weapon and named each version of it he got. The others asked for similar stuff and it was all good... except for Bard. He asked for a Wish. DM said cool, but if he used it for something weird or OP, there was a chance of it backfiring or having a secondary effect, much like Homer's Monkey Paw. Bard accepted.
The thing about Bard's horniness was that he played it like he was always chasing tail but also tragically speaking about true love and his quest to reach it. He's bedded many fair maiden to be disappointed over and over. It was cheesy and cringey, but it was harmless and could lead to fun times, too.
So the time came for Bard's wish and, unsurprisingly, he gave a speech about romance and love and his sexual exploits and wished for finding True Love. "BOSH. DONE.", I paraphrase the DM. Well, actually the monument to the goddess he wished upon replied "Very well... True love will come to you... Soon".
And so it did. About two weeks in-game later, a tavern... erm... you know... approached the Bard. The DM told him she looked familiar. There was something in her eyes... She reminded of a fair young lass he's been with once, maybe five or six years ago. But she was different back then... younger, fitter, prettier. This new version of her was stocky, limped, coughed like a miner and looked like time and wear erased all the pretty in her face she undoubtedly once had.
She asked the Bard if he recognized her and he indeed remembered he slept with the woman and carried a memory of her that was... well... painted by beer-goggles. Most of the party mocked the Bard for it and we taunted saying this was True Love knocking on his door, like the prophecy said.
The Bard looked at GM shocked. OOC asked "You're really gonna do this?". DM winked mischievously. Actually I'm embelishing things. It was a short pointless argument and the DM promised it was going to be fine. He winked at some point but it kinda went unnoticed.
Anyways... The woman asked the Bard to meet later for she had something for him. We kept teasing the Bard for the rest of the scene and later they met. We stuck around in the shadows, in case it was a trap, so we all got to witness the woman meeting the Bard in an alley and... introducing him to a 5 year old lad. Red haired as his mom but, as the DM described, with facial features and mannerism that were undeniably Bard's. She told him his name and that it was his responsability now since she had not long to live (accounted for by her awful coughing fits). Long story short. Bard was Dad Bard now and we had to take care of a child while we tried to save the world (kinda).
Of course we didn't took the kid to dungeons and used him for trap bait but he came with us in our journeys and Bard hired a sort of babysitter to take care of him while we got in trouble. The party chipped in for a fund for the mother to try to seek help or live comfortably for her final days.
But what was wonderful about this is that the Bard took it fantastically and pretty quickly shifted from hornibard to 80-sitcom dad and really milked it. Bard and son bonded and it made the whole game much more interesting for all of us. We were actually pretty invested in that character arc as we became uncles and aunts.
In the end, the Bard checked his quest for finding True Love as completed and after saving the world (kinda), he used his riches to live a good life with his kid. He also whored on the side a little and taught the kid all his moves, but a happy ending all things considered.
TL;DR for parts 1&2: Ran the Kingmaker AP for my group. They came together in their first encounter, fully kicking it over by displaying incredible amounts of teamwork, and silent agreement to get behind the part's Bard as leader for the group. Rather than simply leave bandits for dead, they recruit all but the one who died in the fight from a longbow critical. They head out from Oleg's, get into a gripping fight with an Owlbear, and head for the Thorn River Camp the bandits came from. I get culinary advisement about the yield on an owlbear, and the group manages to successfully stealth mission into the camp under the cover of night, capturing the bandits, and their supplies. They are going to try and infiltrate The Stag Lord's Keep using his booze, and the aid of Kressle, a recent bandit acquisition.
Group gets into another nasty fight, this time a Will O Wisp, but play off of each other to take it down. Unfortunately, they're about to hit their deadliest encounter yet.
Okay, so I rolled all the various hex encounters and such ahead of time, along with whatever loot rolls go along with that. It just makes things faster during play, and I don't have to suddenly grind the action to a halt to consult tables.
The group heads out from Bokken's, and head southwest, working their way toward the Old Sycamore Tree that hides a Mite Lair while exploring now. The next day, a truly horrific encounter comes up: four Trolls. Alone, a single troll is a CR 5 encounter, but with 4 together, it's a CR 9 encounter... against a party of level 2 adventurers. This is going to be horrific, but I hold out hope that the party avoids the encounter, realizing it's just too much for them at this time.
The Ranger, thankfully, is doing her job well, always on the lookout for tracks and signs of life. She uncovers some giant footprints, which she identifies as troll tracks, to their east, definitely more than one, but she doesn't have the precise number. In her backstory, she worked with other frontiers folk to deal with giant types, and trolls are right there. She reports back to the group, and after a successful knowledge check (She has favored enemy bonus on this), she let's them know the two main weaknesses of Trolls, Fire and Acid. Her and the druid go quietly, following the tracks, to report back to the party, and discover their camp. She sights four of them, and also, after a perception roll, spots a softly glowing shortbow amongst a big pile of treasure, while the Trolls are busy eating some charred venison from some of the local elk.
All good, the Ranger is going to go back to the party, report, and the part is going to avoid the.... And the the Ranger declares she wants to stealthily approach the camp, to try and grab the bow before leaving. To Druid's credit, hiding in the tall grass, he drops an Obscuring Mist, covering the Ranger, and breaking line of sight for the Trolls. I do a quick Intelligence check for the Trolls, but none of them are the sharpest marble in the sack, so they don't precisely work out what's happening. The Ranger closes, grabs the bow, and drops the stealthy way, going into a dead sprint past the Druid, who joins suit.
The Trolls aren't dead stupid, and hear the fleeing adventurers, and start looking around, but by the time they come out of the area of mist, the two adventurers have a bit of a lead on them. They do make a point of calling out as the Trolls charge in pursuit, hoping to draw the party. Party does hear the cry, and start riding hell bent for leather for the other two. By calculations, they've got a couple rounds before the Trolls can close and attack, but since these two are at a full run, they've got a moment.
The party is doing some quick calculations, realizing that they can ride insanely fast on horseback (Horses have a 50 ft movement, plus Run and Endurance), and the Ranger gets an idea as she sees the Trolls closing. The trolls can't move quite as fast as the horses, so if they mount up, they can do a hit and run campaign against them, IF they can reach their own mounts fast enough.
From here, it gets dicey, because they will essentially have to jump the horses, rather than mount them, as the party closes in. If either of them fails the roll, then the trolls close, and it's... it's pretty much a death sentence if they get stuck in a full round with the Trolls. Both have to roll an acrobatics check to successfully mount the horse on the fly, then also hit a ride check to stay in the saddle and get control of the horses.
Ranger actually has acrobatic and ride skills, and hit the check with no problem. The Druid is a little antsy, and just barely makes the rolls, Acrobatics was dead on DC, and the Ride was just one over due to proficiency. From here, everyone rides, getting some distance, before arcing out and around, and the fight begins in earnest. Dwarf draws his own light crossbow, not his best weapon, but hey, situation calls for it, and pops off a shot, getting in the first damage of the encounter. Bard fires his own shortbow, and Kressle catches the closest one with an axe throw. Witch hits a lucky crit with her light crossbow, and pretty much everyone just working on maintaining distance as best they can.
I do Fort saves for the horses, but they're fine for now, and things begin to take shape. The party is playing keep away with the trolls, with the Witch, Druid, and Bard getting mostly fire, with some acid, into the mix. Kressle gets the Witch's crossbow, and at any point, if someone goes off track, it gets pretty gruesome. Ranger ends up having to use her purloined shortbow, since her own longbow isn't able to be used from horseback, but oddly, this was to her credit, as it had been rolled up as a +1 flaming comp. shortbow, allowing her to lay in serious damages, especially with all the extra arrows the party had from prior bandit encounters.
Kressle is not doing well in the fight, and finally gets enraged, charging the trolls with her handaxes, and is shocked as hell when Dwarf rides in to her defense, while the whole party singles out the trolls she went after. This fight took a LONG time, but at the end of it, the trolls are finally down, the party burns the bodies, and with everyone, horses included, suffering from fatigue, they track back to the troll's fire, and take a rest while they check the loot pile.
Three specific items came up in that loot roll that would change the face of the campaign more and more as time went on: A Ring of Sustenance, a Handy Haversack, and Boots of Springing and Striding.
I know, it sounds nuts, they're not powerful items. The Ring basically cuts long rests down to two hours, and the boots make you move a bit faster, and get better jumps. The haversack is neat, but usually not much bother, but here in Kingmaker, in the hands of this party, they would change the fate of the Stolen Lands.
Stay tune for part 4
TL;DR for part 1: Group came together for a Kingmaker campaign, and facerolled the entire opening encounter at Oleg's, taking the bandits down, with only one bandit dead to critical hit. Entire group worked perfectly together to execute a multi-part plan, and are RPing bringing the bandits to their side, and set out for the camp they came from.
Okay, so this next bit has a moment where my dice start to both hate and love the party. As they're crossing hexes, with the wagon and bandits, I have to roll random encounter checks, it's only a 5% chance, but today was the day. Passing along the edge of the region's main forest, the group gets attacked by an owlbear, which, for a level 1 party, is a pretty significant encounter. There is a legitimate chance that the entire adventure ends here.
In the course of the fight, Dwarf goes down, getting dropped to -8, but they managed to end the fight, and the group uses their few healing potions that they have from Oleg's. The party manages to eke out the win, but they're badly injured, and they don't have much left for spells. I was expecting at this point that the group would hold off until morning to go after the camp, but they didn't want the camp alerted to what had happened to the bandits they sent out, and decided this was their best possible shot. They made an agreement with Happs for him and the bandits to stay there with the wagon, with Bard offering some money for them, which is pocket change for the party, but more than the bandits have made, and break down the owlbear, while the party tracked off from where it had come (Side note: I had to contact a chef friend, to get her to help figure how much meat yield there is on an owlbear. about 700 lbs, and they can use things like bear grease for cooking, and the bones to make broth or gravy.). Getting to the den, the 'my dice love them' parts comes in, with 6 owlbear cubs there at the den, which the Druid takes under her wing. With a strong wild empathy check, she rounds up the lot, and they continue on to the camp. I did let them level after the combat, since they had the XP between the last couple of encounters.
They enter the camp under the cover of night, with the witch using her Fortune hex for the Dwarf to be able to have a shot at stealth, and the group moves in. This was over before it started. Guards get dropped by the Witch's last sleep spell, and everyone else proceeds around and into position, Dwarf grabs Kressle's handaxes, and the group wakes them up, with each of them having a target sighted, and the Dwarf with his axeblade to Kressle. I still remember the Dwarf's statement, "Lass, let's just admit... this ain't goin' in yer favor, and it'd be best fer ye to just take the knee," and succeeds his intimidation check.
The Bard holds off on the speeches initially, roping up the bandits, and taking them along with after they fully search the camp, to Happs and the others (I did a check behind the screen to see if they desert or not. They did not.), pays them a share each of the coin recovered from the camp, and then starts into his speech. He just proved he is actually paying, and not only that, but they're paying well and fairly (Happs got an extra share as leader).
He manages to convince the bandits in general to join up, though Kressle has reservations (She got a really interesting backstory in the AP, one that could lend itself to a redemption arc, but it's never explored, one of my few gripes with the AP). However, at this point, she doesn't have a ton of options, since she knows she's dead if it comes out that she lost her main camp, along with the Stag Lord's alcohol. Even if she did survive explaining, she would never be trusted with leadership again, something that she's found out she actually likes. So for now, her interests and the party's align.
Here, the party hangs out, finally getting some much needed rest, and checking out all the plunder they have. They question the bandits, learning more about the Stag Lord, which tips off the Druid that if the Stag Lord is drinking this much, he might not be as strong as he might be otherwise. They also get the location of the Mite Lair, and a few other places to check out, along with the passphrase for the Stag Lord's Keep (Dwarf jots it down in notes, and has me repeat it a couple of times to make sure he's got the right reading of it).
Bard continues talking with Kressle, knowing she's not hard and fast on his side, and they find out they have some points in common, both having been forced out of their homes after losing their parents, and both of them are finding they quite like being in charge of something. Bard broaches the subject of how life goes for bandits, and asks her a very simple question, "Have you ever known a bandit who died of old age?"
Kressle thinks about it, and she doesn't have an answer, which is an answer of its own. Bard makes the point that, perhaps, she could consider giving up the bandit life, and looking for something with a better retirement plan than 'dead in a ditch'.
Between everything, Ranger notes a problem: They're traveling with rather a lot of people now, and if they continue to do so, it's going to be hard to maintain proper rations out in the wild, as well as slowing down their efforts in the exploration of their charter. They come to the decision to head back to Oleg's, and essentially set up a small temporary settlement for the bandits they're collecting. Bard suggests that they keep Kressle with them, both because she's someone the Stag Lord trusted enough to put into leadership, and on the down-low, he's not entirely certain she's fully on board. Happs, however, seems to have simply just accepted the new way of things, and is forming into the order, with the rank and file bandits taking their cues from him. They've been fed and paid, so they're not really looking to buck that trend, seeing as to how they just got paid more in one day than they have in the last year.
At Oleg's, they do encounter some initial resistance from the newcomer, Kesten Garess, who was the one Restov sent to actually deal with the upcoming attack on the Post. Bard manages to convince him to give it a chance after some RP, and a support from jhod khavken, a priest of Erastil who has come to the Stolen Lands. The rest of the party also speaks up in favor of Bard's plan to reform the bandits, presenting a united front. Bard also spends some time assuring Oleg and Svetlana that the bandits are on the path to redemption. Bard asks Jhod to minister to the bandits, hoping that he can help bring the bandits around a bit.
The party is also perked up by a quest board now being there, and quickly take note of various wanted posters, immediately turning in the one for taking down bandits (It only says defeat, not kill, so it counts). Jhod tells them of the Temple of the Elk, and a little bit more of the map opens up.
With accounts settled, the party buys tents and bedrolls for the ex-bandits, sells down the owlbear supplies, and discuss the next step. It quickly slides into there being an opportunity to get the quick kill on the Stag Lord, by having Kressle lead them inside, using the passphrase, bringing the Stag Lord's alcohol to him, and taking advantage of his drunkenness, but Dwarf is a bit worried about if things go wrong, since they're hardly seasoned adventurers, boasting how he's only barely an adult by his own people's standards. This has the group realizing that they're all about bunch of 16-19 year olds, and laughing a bit at the concept of the Teenage Magic Adventure Squad.
After some screwing around on that part, they agree with Dwarf, they need to get a bit more power on their side, and figure that they have probably about a week before the Stag Lord notices the booze shipment isn't coming (Per book, they have two, but that's hardly common knowledge). The group rests for the night, and in the morning, everyone heads out with Kressle in tow.
Given that they have given themselves a week, they decide to take care of some exploring on the road, and again, my dice hate them. The exploration for Oleg's hex goes fine, but the next hex hits an encounter with a Will O Wisp. It's a rough fight at first, until the Druid catches the sucker with Faerie Fire, and cancels out its concealments. This hex contains Bokken's Hut, and the party is able to restock healing potions, as well as Bokken giving them the location of the fangberry bushes for his quest. But, I know there's a worse fight coming, it's just in the next hex, and I know that if they try for it, they are going to die horribly.
Stay tuned for Part 3
I had the best experience in any form of roleplaying game (virtual, tabletop, or LARP) a few nights ago at a Vampire: the Masquerade LARP. A year of gameplay and almost an additional year of planning went into it, while also being completely unplanned. Seriously, nobody saw this coming during this game session, and the death scene was entirely unplanned prior to me finding out that my character's secret was out, even if it was vaguely anticipated! It all just worked weirdly well.
Short version: They killed my character, and it was awesome. I set out to make a character who had probably the darkest secret that any character in this game system could have, managed to avoid getting caught for a year of gameplay, only for her to be killed by her girlfriend who she betrayed.
Context: Infernalism in VtM games is something that, regardless of storyteller, character sect, or clans and bloodlines involved, will get a character killed on sight. It’s something a character will have to deliberately seek out… signing a pact with a demon isn’t something they can accidentally do, and always involves doing terrible things as part of the agreement. Any infernalist characters will be killed immediately when found out.
So of course I went into my first VtM LARP, being told that playing an infernalist is hard mode and an objectively terrible idea, your character will die, and everyone will hate you, and infernalist characters are rarely interesting or well-written and are just All Edge, No Point™
Which is all true.
But 12 years of Catholic school taught me to be spiteful and petty in the best way possible, so I set out to play (though decidedly *not* win) on hard mode and make a character who was an infernalist but also fun and interesting to play.
I also was considering going back to school for a doctorate degree, but was hearing absolute horror stories from my friends and mentors in academia. My muse had arrived.
This character would sell her soul to a demon for academic funding. Because it seems like nothing less than that can pay you a living wage if you want to study Renaissance occult history from a feminist lens. And she literally would have to publish or perish... Every few months she would need to write and publish some form of lies or misinformation that would get people killed. Because the real danger in society isn't people sacrificing dozens of people in ritual slaughter, using chainsaws, shouting in Latin. It's people who profit off of lies that kill people en masse.
Enter Dr. Almeda Reynaldo, a millennial neonate Tremere (pretty much, baby vampire witch). Path of Celestialkinesis (moon magic) as her main path. Costuming was very astrological/mystical and sparkly. First day of game? She meets the Prince of the city and gifts him an Imbued Offering (magic ring) as a gesture of good will, which immediately helps with negotiations with mages who were getting territorial. Steps up at every opportunity to be helpful. Not very skilled in combat but willing to offer psychic advice by reading the stars. All in all, a total girl scout of a character. She became Keeper of Elysium, Talon, Whip, and Library Speaker, with a running joke that she was collecting titles like pokemon. The night she was found out, people had a hard time figuring out who to tell in the chain of command since she had been made into so many links in that chain due to her hard work and dedication. Total baby neonate, squishy wizard, practically a pacifist. Until you looked at her downtimes, at least! Though I always made sure to drop subtle hints that there was more to her that met the eye.
When a demon appeared in NYC, she suggested “just hearing him out, but not agreeing to anything.” She openly and proudly did her doctoral thesis on authorship and historical fact versus folklore behind Johannes Faust. She had the Curious flaw, which was around 80% of her personality, and she showed that she was 100% somebody who would fuck around and find out. Some people did raise their eyebrows at times, but were convinced that ok maybe she’s kinda impulsive and dumb but she’d know better than to enter into a demonic pact… right? The funny thing is that she made this pact before she even was embraced as a vampire. People just assumed that some random college kid wouldn’t think of doing this kind of thing, let alone be capable of it.
And then, enter her girlfriend, Dani. They had this slow-burn “will they, won’t they” starting with them bonding over cursed books, and eventually became a thing following some close teamwork while researching abyssal rifts. Dani was a very duty-driven Ventrue who was looking to become a Servire to the Josian Archons, aka, a professional demon hunter. Which obviously would be a problem. OOC, I considered not doing anything about this because “secret demon worshiper dating a demon hunter” is *chefs kiss* and is everything I love in cheesy YA supernatural romance novels… But I realized that my character would absolutely never risk this. So this *manipulative little shit* tells her GF “I know you’d be amazing if you got that job, but I’d worry so much about you dying in battle on somebody else’s orders in the middle of nowhere, I want you to stay here in New York with me instead where at least I’d be there by your side if something happens, so I could try to save you.” Which… she meant every word of, but also was omitting the fact that “I also don’t want you to hunt demons like me as part of that deadly job promotion.” She knew that Dani’s biggest weakness was hidden, lost, and forbidden knowledge, so after first testing her with a minor cursed book, nothing too nefarious or disruptive, she had her marked as a possible infernal thrall, and was set on a long game of earning her trust and getting her to sell her soul and join her. Shame that plot didn’t get to pan out.
Dani was the best sudden-ex turned semi-reluctant murderer that anyone could ask for. I wanted to see what would happen further down the line with these adorable chaos lesbians. The Prince of the City who sentenced Almeda to death turned to Dani and offered her the kill, and her having to make such a decision after they had just exchanged Christmas gifts, deciding to strike the killing blow while wearing the necklace that Almeda gifted her, and *with Dani’s final line to her about her last mistake being letting Dani carry the sword into Elysium as the officially appointed defender of Elysium, and how she plans on wearing the gifted necklace to hunt down the rest of her kind* was more than I could have asked for in a death scene. And then, while she knew that Dani wouldn't join her after being so publicly outed, she at least tried to plant one last seed of corruption and pretty much her last will and testament was telling her where the infernal tomes were and how she wants her to have them.
The death scene was amazing. I built Dr. Reynaldo as an infernalist first and a Tremere second, but then, finding out that NYC was led by a Tremere with a (very long, very) checkered past made me so excited for what I could do with that. The Prince of NYC who sentenced her to death literally was responsible for the deaths of pretty much every Salubri (vampire healer) in existence. Which she pointed out very clearly in her villain monologue. And the people watching this go down knew that they couldn’t agree with the evil infernalist who had just tried to vanish from existence in a plume of green hellfire… but she was actually right. A few months ago, there was a surprise motion to strip the Tremere of their Pillar status, at a national event, since yeah, they did some fucked up shit to say the least. Then, having literal hellspawn who happens to also be from that same bloodline call them out on this again, has really driven home that point. That the Tremere really are, in fact, The Worst.
She was found out after she secretly was using some downtimes for aiding and abetting the (other) demon that was killing people in NYC. The Sheriff caught onto the fact that somebody was betraying everyone, and spent months digging into this. I really thought I had at least 6 months to a year before people would really start to catch on… but he went all in on uncovering this! And went straight to the Prince as soon as he caught any whispers of this, which led to her being sentenced to death that very night, caught in a trap where she thought she was going to trade information with the demon she was helping.
I went into this knowing that this character, Dr. Reynaldo, had an expiration date. She was a ticking time bomb who would eventually be found out and hunted. I often said "it's not a matter of if she gets killed, but when." On my application for approval (characters with things like this on their sheets need it to be approved by the national storytellers to make sure they’re not just being edgelords and don’t act out OOC when their character gets killed), I even said "I'm here for a good time, not for a long time," and that 100% panned out. This was a good year, but not a terribly long year. I wish I had more time to play as this terrible doctor, but being found out *right before inviting everyone into her Haven that had been turned into an Elysium, which she was declared Keeper of* was perfectly dramatic and poetic. The other characters were terrified of going into the Elysium, convinced it was trapped. Both my character and I had no clue we were found out, and thought people were just being rude and running late. I gave an opening monologue that was an astrological reading of the current sky and was met with just awkward glances. They all thought it was a thinly-veiled threat, but I knew nothing, which in hindsight was hilarious.
I’m still riding the high from dying. Everyone has been commenting on our OOC group chat how well-played this was, and it’s super flattering and I’m just glad that nobody is mad about how my character is secretly a terrible person. And the IC group chats are hilarious right now. So much finger-pointing, so much speculation, so many accusations. I’m going to be stepping up as a local storyteller (this is a national game with local plots added in), and am going to have a hard time topping this as a storyteller!
Setting: The classic Red Hand of Doom campaign that I had converted to 5E for my friends.
So, our paladin with a level of artificer had been throwing Light infused stones further into the cave so that he could see what he was doing as he didn't have Darkvision. By doing so, he inadvertently alerted a large and difficult group of hobgoblin clerics and summoned wraiths in the next room whilst the party was already dealing with a bunch of angry greenspawn razorfiends in the room they were currently in.
The party had been too long without a rest, and the wizard blew their last decent spell slot trying to fireball the new opponents. They rolled very badly for damage and killed none of them - going unconscious to a wraith immediately afterwards, dropping out of Fly, and forcing the party monk to Prince of Persia wall run around the side of a huge chasm to dump a potion down their throat leaving the pair of them way out of position for anyone else to help them.
The paladin, ranger, and hexblade were pretty much out of spell slots and holding the line, but unable to break through to save their friends. The entire party was haemorrhaging hitpoints and it looked bleak. As the DM I was panicking trying to think of a bone that I could throw them to not turn this into an ignominious TPK from bad luck right before the final confrontation with the BBEG that was set to be the climactic end to the campaign.
At that moment a grin spread across the halfling ranger's face.
She gave her panther a big hug goodbye, and leapt from her back over the first rank of hobgoblins, placing herself squarely in the middle of the vast majority of the enemies. This is when she executed her cunning plan.
She'd been hanging on to an Amulet of the Planes that she had been gifted a while ago despite her terrible Intelligence score. She activated it, failing the Int roll... as was her plan.
Suddenly a portal opened and she, along with every creature and object within 15 feet of her, was sucked through it into the first circle of Carceri to a chorus of laughter and cries of "what the fuck?" from everyone in the game.
She was happy for it to be a noble sacrifice, but what made it even better is that as we were experimenting with (using Roll20 as it’s easy to do) rerolling initiative at the top of each round so she was able to beat all of her new travelling companions on the initiative order. In her next turn she (barely) survived the opportunity attacks to sprint away from them, and activated the amulet a second time, just scraping the DC to successfully zap herself back into the cavern to greet the rest of the party who were easily dispatching the remaining enemies.
TLDR: Ranger used Amulet of the Planes and her own weaponised stupidity to avert a TPK by transporting herself and most of the bad guys to a different plane of existence.
As a DM, I generally don't care for pre-fabs. They're almost always very A to B to C to D, and you have to keep the PCs interested in continuing through their alphabet adventure. Well, Paizo released KingMaker, and I took a bit to read the first book, Stolen Land, and it was really quite interesting. This was more of a sandbox adventure, and eventually, the party would get to found their own kingdom.
So, I got the first two books, the flip-mat for the outpost, and began adventure prep. I made sure to download and print out the Player's Guide, and away we went. The party for this escapade are thus:
The party starts off at Oleg's as per the usual, and it starts to go off a bit from the go, for the best possible reason: The party discussed their abilities, put together a sane, rational plan that played on everyone's skillset, and executed it. It goes down like this: Dwarf gives boosties to get the druid and the witch to get them onto a roof that would conceal them until the bandits were well-inside, but gives them a wide-angle shot of the main yard, so they'll be able to lay down spells. The Ranger and Bard are put on the battlements, to either side of the door, to be able to close the gates when the bandits are in position. The Ranger made a really great stealth roll for setting up a bear trap where the bandits would be loading goods from the storage. The bear trap becomes the signal for the ambush to begin, with the Fighter on the roof of the stables, so he can drop down on the enemy once the fight starts. Everyone is in a position to where they won't be in line of sight, but can be there immediately as fighting breaks out.
Happs, the leader of these bandits, enters the outpost, and his guys go to work. I was a little worried that someone was going to go early as I'm describing the scene, but no, they stuck to it. Bear trap goes off, Oleg runs for the house, and the ranger and bard get the gates closed, cutting off possible retreat. Druid and Witch jump into action, casting Entangle and Sleep respectively. Most of the bandits are down with the first moments, either pinned in place by the entangle, and/or taking an unexpected nap. Dwarf accepts the idea of fall damage to crash into Happs off the roof, and after some checks, both go down in a heap amongst the entangle.
Round two, Ranger top of the initiative, hit a nat 20 with a longbow (x3 damage), and straight kills the only bandit who managed to save out on both sleep and entangle (I sort of felt bad for that little guy. He had hope.). Dwarf up, he saves against the entangle, and he puts an axe into Happs, who has failed the entangle save. Cue the bard, who steps up and goes, "Greetings, and well met. Any of you who are still alive, and conscious, we are now protecting this trading post. Before we continue, i would like to offer you a chance to lay down your arms, or the Witch and Druid will burn you alive (They were actively excited about getting to use burning hands together). Yield and live, or fight and die."
I had him roll an intimidation check (I factored in some bonus behind the screen, cause let's be honest: Half the bandits are unconscious, one is straight dead with an arrow through his skull, their leader is prone, with an angry Dwarf getting ready to put an axe through his skull. It's all over but the crying). His roll goes high, and the bandits stand down (I know it says they'll 'fight til the death' in the AP, but they're pretty much there, and they're bandits.)
From there, the bandits are disarmed and questioned, learning that they have a camp to the south, along the Thorn River. The bard does a whole speech about how their lives as bandits are over, one way or another, but that he is offering them the chance to be a part of something greater, and assures that they will be paid, and fed, as long as they bend the knee, they can live and grow (It was a pretty good speech). So he makes a diplomacy roll, while the druid respectfully buries their companion, praying for Erastil to watch over the wayward soul (I ruled that this aided the roll, as they saw their compatriot being treated respectfully by people who had no real reason to. Small bonus, but a bonus nonetheless.). The bandits are willing to help, though they are very keen on the getting paid part of the program. Happs agrees, but he has a condition: His partner, Kressle, doesn't get executed. The group provisionally agrees, although they do state that if she fights, there's a chance she gets killed, that's just the facts of life. The group, whatever misgivings, start to fall in line with the bard's lead.
The group purchases a wagon from Oleg, and they head off for the bandit camp, with bandits in the wagon. The Ranger ran forage, checked weather conditions, and otherwise did rangery things. Bard continued to build rapport with the bandits, using RP to setup his rolls to bring the group around, though he knows it will take time for them to truly bring them away from their prior lives.
Stay tuned for part 2.
The party and I were sneaking through a white dragon's lair. As lowly level 5's we had bitten off more then we could chew, and deciced to grab a few pockets full of coins from the hoarde and get outta there. The Adult Dragon was aware of us, and trying to hunt us down. As the Rogue I was on point.
I served the next room, ducked in and the DM called for a stealth check. I rolled.
Me "Ones don't automatically fail outside of combat right?"
DM "One only auto fails in combat, yes."
Me "Well I rolled a one."
Party audibly groans.
Me "With Modifiers and Pass without a Trace, thats 22."
DM "...You notice the dragon at the last second and duck against a wall. You escape its notice as it stomps past angrily."
I have been running a campaign for about 8 months or so and I am a first time DM.
Our table just experienced a great little moral choice scenario that was completely unplanned but made absolute perfect sense within the story and one of our characters backstories.
One of the players made a chaotic evil character at the start so that he could just cathartically destroy shit in the game etc.
He had a ring on his finger that was cursed and forced him into making evil choices.
I am completely fine with this as it is a game and I wanted to just change the world based on characters actions and am not precious about my story plans etc.
I did however want to throw moral choices at them for my own enjoyment as a DM.
This one turned out better than anything that I could write.
A fair few sessions ago after the characters burned down the first town that they came to (it was run by slavers so all good), they met a shopkeeper escaping the town who had a cat with them. She gave them some supplies and let them take what they wanted from the shop which she was abandoning, as her character has a soft spot for down-on-their-luck adventurers.
The shopkeeper character does have a backstory that the cat is cursed and she has always wanted to visit the church of Helm in the South where a scroll of lift curse is supposed to lie, but has never had the chance. The town burning down gave her the perfect opportunity to leave.
After adventuring about for a bit the players ran into her again at a crossroads where she had been robbed by bandits. They proceeded to retrieve her gear from the bandit camp and she asked them to accompany her to the church to find the scroll, to which they obliged.
They found some bandits at the church and despatched them. They then had to solve a puzzle to open a grave and found the scroll of lift curse inside.
During this time the shopkeeper is reading a book at the altar looking for clues.
The evil character makes the decision to stab her in the back and just keep the scroll and everything else. The rest of the players are a little bit taken aback as they have realised that the cat is cursed and have taken fondly to the shopkeeper, but have forgotten that our evil player character is also cursed and is making these decisions out of his own control (which he continued to hide very well for the reveal).
They also failed to realise that the shopkeeper is a very powerful mage.
The mage casts greater invisibility and puts some distance between her and the party and reveals herself to cast mage armour. To which the cat tries to run over to her but our evil character slashes at the cats legs to incapacitate it and grabs hold of it.
The evil character then asks if he can make a will saving throw against the cursed ring on his finger. To which I reply "you most definitely can".
He succeeds on the roll and screams out to the other players "Get this ring off of me!"
We all get an inkling of whats going on and with a bit of above table discussion, our evil character is going to make will saving throws against the ring with the knife at the cats neck to stop himself from killing the cat and potentially signing the parties death warrant.
The other characters try and talk the mage down, which works as she is good aligned and only wants the cat back. The evil character talks to her directly after a will saving throw and pleads with her to help get the ring off.
He also succeeded on all of his high-tension will saving throws.
She casts suggestion on the evil character to throw the cat at the feet of the half orc who has the scroll in her possession. She succeeds on the roll and the cat now lies at the feet of the person who can remove the curse.
The evil character runs over and grabs the cat again.
The half orc has to choose which character she removes the curse from.
She chooses our evil player character (which was definitely the correct choice).
The ring falls to the floor and after another couple of turns in combat one of the characters convinces the mage to stop combat. She agrees, runs over, grabs the cat and the cursed ring, casts greater invisibility and disappears.
Our evil character then asked me if he could change his alignment to chaotic neutral and I most definitely agreed. He explained how he had been thinking about the fact that his evil alignment didn't really match with the campaign/other characters and had been wanting to find a way to change it and the opportunity presented itself. Completely unplanned but amazing. Also it's his (not his character's) birthday today so there was some added awesomeness to it.
The stars aligned.
How happy I was with this narrative may not come across from the little story but it was friggin epic. This basic side character shopkeeper made for a very memorable moment in our campaign.
Hello everybody! I wanted to take a moment to share one of my favorite moments as a player. I'm writing this as a contrast to an r/rpghorrorstories story I wrote where my Sniper was horrifically bashed/abused by the DM/Party. This is a treasured moment to me, so I hope you enjoy it too.
[Context] This story takes place in D&D's 3.5 edition, in the Forgotten Realms setting. I was a player in this game, and the game had a decently sized group. Here is a collection of artwork of Payton's human form so you can visualize the story easier. Payton's Human Form.
Also, it is important to note that I worked out Payton's draconic form to be more anthropomorphic, in contrast to the traditional "walks on all fours" appearance. Think a dragonborn with wings, or World of Warcraft's Drakthyr.
In Payton's background, he was found as an infant inside of a small wicker basket on the steps of a monastery of Kelemvor - Forgotten Realms' god of Death. While not an ideal choice for a parent to abandon their child, it was within the nearest population center. Found with only 1 clue to his identity, a crystal vial containing dragon's blood around his neck, nobody knew who'd left him behind.
Payton was adopted by the High Undertaker of Kelemvor, a Dwarf named Roderic Tombs, and named after Roderic's father, and Grandfather respectively. There, he learned of the practice of mortuary work, learned the art of undertaking, and medical examination. He dug graves, helped administer funeral rights, preformed autopsies, and sought out necromancers who violated the sanctity of death. Though controversial, this Paladin (Grey-Knight Template) also assisted those who wished to die. He never questioned motives, but simply provided the service when requested.
Payton became introduced to the group when a massive undead outbreak had spawned across the land. Payton was found in a field, beating down a small army of skeletons with his Silvered/Holy Shovel - seriously! The group laughed in, and out of character, saying that his choice in weapon was quite apropos. Speaking with a very New Orleans style of US Southern Accent, the plain-spoken and stoic Knight agreed to join their cause, and assist the group in their quest to stop the undead uprising.
For many game sessions, Payton served as a front-line combatant, an off-healer, occult expert, and even acted as a mediator for in-party disputes. His calm, soothing voice (their words to describe my voice acting here) often put even the most heated arguments to rest. He was very endeared to his group. In one session, to escape the horrors of the campain, the party stopped in Neverwinter to enjoy some well-earned R&R. The party indicated that they wanted to visit a brothel, and they lept at the chance. Payton however, sat in the lobby. He drank coca, and wrote in his journal. When the bard emerged from his dalliances to pay for more of them, he asked Payton why he wasn't enjoying the women of the establishment. Payton removed his reading glasses, and told him that the establishment didn't cater to his sexuality, that he preferred men. This shocked the bard so much, that he fetched his clothes, and interviewed Payton on the spot about this. Payton downplayed his sexuality, stating that if it was important, he'd have revealed it sooner, and that normally he considered this to be his business. The group's bard applauded Payton's coming out, as did the rest of the party. Payton would foreshadow the big-reveal he was a dragon by saying,
"There are a great many secrets I carry beneath my skin - and I'm positive that even I am unsure what all those may be."
(I want to note, Payton wasn't aware he was a dragon. Only I, and the DM, knew the truth.)
On the day of the big reveal, we were assaulting the keep of a powerful Vampire lord. We cut a swath through his minions, and were in his throne room at last. The usual back and forth exchange between BBEG and party plays out, and we vow to stop him. The battle begins.
Halfway through the fight, the Vampire states that the fun and games were at an end, and began to cast a spell - Harm. Payton was the only one that made the spellcraft-check to notice this. Payton, decided that he was going to sacrifice himself in order to stop the bard from being blasted by the spell. He lept in front of the spell, and took it to the face. The effect was devastating, and shattered the crystal vial around his neck. He landed, and sulfuric smoke billowed throughout the room. When the smoke cleared, a large-sized anthropomorphic red dragon stood where the human had once been laying.
"Boldly, you trifled with powers you shouldn't have. Brazenly, you have defiled and desecrated the dead. Your malice and malcontent has lead you to this moment. In the name of Kelemvor, god of the dead, I smite thee!"
Thunderous cheers went up around the table as the players couldn't believe their ears. The bard's player started to chant "Nuke! Nuke! Nuke! Nuke!". I had never felt so encouraged and happy in all my life of gaming.
Payton channeled his smite, through his breath weapon, and shot a beam of fire right into the vampire's chest. He roasted, and burned in holy fire, destroyed unto final-death. With the Vampire's death, all undead activity in the area stopped. The hordes of zombies and skeletons turned, and returned to their graves, and the day had been saved.
The party rushed, and hugged Payton. They congratulated him on literally saving the day, and the life of the Bard (whom often annoyed them). Payton, was humble. He said it was his sacred duty, and he did it without question. He couldn't allow the Bard to be turned into an undead, even if that meant his own life.
The party left, returning to the origin point of the story to celebrate and earn their rewards. Payton however, exited the party for the down-time. He said that now more than ever, there are questions needing to be answered, and he would have them. The party wished him well, and Payton flew off into the sunrise.
After that session ended, the fellow players were wow'ed by the secret. They were amazed nobody had noticed until then. Our DM explained that numerous times he'd had the party roll various skill-checks to see if they had any insight, but not one had succeeded. The players commended me for my acting, and that going with the Southern Accent made Payton such a soothing presence they never would've guessed.
[Epilogue & Player's Notes]
These are notes of what happened regarding Payton up until the campaign's complete end.
Payton, during the down-time, had scoured the land, in search of knowledge of his Draconic Lineage. As dragons, reds especially, guard their possessions and clutches closely. Payton learned that his parents had become targets of a zealous order of Dragon Slayers. His sisters, brothers, and even nieces and nephews had all been slain by this order: The Dragon Renders. The Renders marked the elder dragons of the flight, wishing to grant their order far more legitimacy in the world and be viewed as more than a NRM (New Religious Movement, or Cult in lay-terms). They armed themselves with dragon-bane weapons, and their leader wielded an artifact sword dubbed Dragonwrack. Dragonwrack, a +5 Dragon Slaying, Dragon Bane weapon also came with a unique intristic trait which gives it the wracking part of its name. Upon a critical strike, the sword would continue to deal bane damage until a Remove Curse spell was preformed. Payton's mother, and father, had both been cursed. Having hidden the hatchling Payton in her mouth, she promised her mate that not all the flight would die. Payton's father remained to buy her time.
She flew to the necropolis where the Temple of Kelemvor happened to lie. It was the nearest establishment she could reach, while dying from her curse. She landed, extracted Payton from her mouth, and held him to her breast. She wept, hard. The young hatchling asked her why she wept. She, through tears, said it would be better that he forget - so that he would be spared the pain of what he saw. This meant, forgetting her. She tapped his head, and erased all his memories, before greater-polymorphing him into a human. This variant of the spell, would suppress nearly all dragon-based abilities, merits, and defenses. The only trait of dragons he kept, was the red flight's immunity to fire. She placed the infant in a basket she found nearby, left him on the stoop, and limped away. With one final sobbing glance, she flew off into the remote mountains. There, she soared as high as she could, and sparrow-dove right into the mountain below to deny the order the kill - ending on her own terms.
Payton, was devastated to learn this to say the very least. When he learned the truth, his mother's spell had broken, and he remembered it all. It sent Payton into a spiraling depression. He already felt alone in the world - despite all his friends. He had no family left. So, he returned to Neverwinter, and took to drink.
(Out of Character) - I stated at this point that I was unsure how to continue Payton's story, and left it up to the other players and our DM to suggest angles for him. I was totally down to keep playing him, but I was unsure how I wanted to develop the character further. My roommate, whom happened to be playing in the group, suggested a possible romantic angle. He had a reoccurring character named Seph (Short for Serephim) that was an inter-dimensional "mysterious stranger". Like the protagonist of Quantum Leap Seph would arrive in a new world stripped of the power he'd earned from the previous, but retaining his memories. He'd learn of problems in the world, solve them, until he solved the one in that world that would propel him to the next world. He suggested to our DM, that we use this character in a romantic angle. I agreed, and so did our GM.
Payton met Seph at that bar. Both shared their stories which mirrored one another. Seph said that both of his parents were killed by his aunt in an attempt to usurp the throne. All were dead now, and he too wonders about the future. Payton felt so much empathy, that he offered to spend the night with Seph, and they did. Things got "heated", and the pair had sex.
(Back In Character)
Seph remained a secret background romance. As he was invigorated and encouraged, the party decided to eliminate the Dragon Renders. At the end of this chapter of the campaign, Payton revealed Seph to the group. The party was ecstatic for him. The group's cleric even preformed their wedding. The campaign ended there, and Payton/Seph flew off together to build Payton's secret volcano lair.
Had some family from out of state visiting and they heard I have played DnD before, and wanted to try it. I have never DM'd before so I was nervous, but I did my best, and we ended up playing a 9 hour session of "Dragon of Icespire Peak" from the essentials kit. Everybody loved it and we were so happy to have tried it. Not much more to say, but just wanted to celebrate a very successful first try for 3 brand-new players and 1 very novice DM!
Like the title says, I have just completed running the second anniversary session of our long running campaign. Back in 2020 I was but a rookie games master who was starting out running his first ever campaign. I ended up becoming the DM by default due to the previous one departing suddenly. Thrust into the position, I started off slowly. At first I didn't think I was very good at it but we kept going. At the beginning it was every other week before moving to weekly sessions around 5 months into the game.
When I first started the game I was expecting it to run a year at the longest but here we are at the start of a potential third year and with more to go.
After running the one game, I expanded to incorporate a game on Saturdays. The first of which collapsed due to player issues but alas. I kept the remanent of that group and founded a new game from the ashes. So, I am currently running two weekly games. One on Wednesday and one on Saturday.
So, for the second anniversary I decided to try a cross over session with all of the players and their various PCs? I foolhardy accepted the challenge. 9 players, 14 Player Characters.. Some of whom were retired or dead PCs all mixed together via time travel and interdimensional nonsense
Disaster waiting to happen right? Too many people? Too many characters? Too much time mumbo jumble? Multiple timelines? It had to fail right? Nope, not at all. It had no right to work but somehow, everyone blended together and the game went off almost perfectly.
The PCs from the Saturday game went back in time to stop the paladin war lord from destroying all time by opening this void in space. They worked together incredibly well both as a team in game and as people out of it. They gave each other time to talk and respected each other. A couple of times one player got a little excited and talked over a couple of players but they soon calmed down. Incredibly we were even able to introduce space combat into 5e without it completely falling apart. Something I have personally shied away from doing as I've never been comfortable with the mechanics of it.
After an epic space combat between the enemies ship and the parties' vessel which resulted in their ship dropping to just 1 HP. They took one final shot at the enemy which resulted in its explosion. One round before the enemy would have opened the space void. A perfect ending for our heroes.I'm just so proud of the fantastic group of people who come together to play with me every week. Not just as players but as friends. Together they have brought life to a World/Universe which I had in my mind. Yet, they have made it so much more. It has become OUR game(s) and OUR World. I just wanted to post a public thank you message to all of the great people who have played in our game World over the past two years. As well as celebrating the fact we have managed two years together in total.
TLDR: Ran the second anniversary session of our long running campaign. It was a cross over special from my second campaign. Together the 9 players and 14 PCs from different time lines merged together and defeated a great evil. They played amazingly and I am so proud of all them. They have brought life to a world and game. Making it OUR game. This is just a special public thank you to all of those players. :)
This is the next chapter of the tale of one Kheltra Nadeshka, and her merry band of uh... Firefighters or something idk the subject seems to come up alot.
This originally started as a one shot I made 3 years ago: Link Here that spiraled into something I felt had to be shared in full, but then lost interest in continuing over the unsatisfying way the campaign ultimately came to an end, then after finding some of the notes I'd kept back when I had intended to continue this by accident a few weeks back I decided enough time had passed and enough amusing things happened that I felt that I had to come on here to at least ATTEMPT to conclude this tale properly. We've still got a ways to go before we reach the snapping point, but until then lets have some more fun, okay?
Be sure to catch up with the last chapter Stealing The Redwind
First as always, the cast:
As a quick Foreword: After regaining the ship all of the fighting we did, both on the ship and in our ill-fated sewer exodus. While not overly difficult and thus skimmed over for the most part, DID accrue us another level as indicated above. I'm pointing this out because the Kheltra build was done in 3.5 edition of DND as I've indicated before, and I plotted this experimental build out EXTENSIVELY. The Character was built under a "36 Point Buy" system and is, as such. SURPRISINGLY easy to repeat and in fact, make even MORE deadly for any fighter lover that may wish to try it.
The Point of this specific foreward is to track Changes to Kheltra's sheet when we level for the benefit of anyone who wants to try it, and more curiously: If anyone can see any optimizations I may have missed. So before we get to the Main Story. Allow me to regale you with what a 5th level Kheltra currently looks like.
I would screenshot her Sheet made in Excel, but again for some reason this subreddit won't let me do pictures anymore so I gotta do this shit manually.
Kheltra Nadeshka Fighter/Wilder 4/1
IMPROVED UNARMED STRIKE (Players Handbook PG. 96) - You are considered to be armed even when unarmed — that is, you do not provoke attacks or opportunity from armed opponents when you attack them while unarmed. However, you still get an attack of opportunity against any opponent who makes an unarmed attack on you. In addition, your unarmed strikes can deal lethal or nonlethal damage, at your option
WEAPON FOCUS (UNARMED STRIKE) (Players Handbook PG. 102) - Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1. Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon.
VILE KI STRIKE (Book of Vile Darkness PG. 50) Prerequisites: Charisma 15 (I told you it was Mandatory for evil) Improved Unarmed Strike Benefit: Each time the character deals damage with his unarmed strike, he deals 1 additional point of Vile Damage.
VILE MARTIAL STRIKE (UNARMED STRIKE) (Book of Vile Darkness PG. 50) Prerequisites: Charisma 15, Weapon Focus with Specified Weapon. Benefit: Each time the character deals damage with a Specific Kind of Weapon, she deals 1 additional point of Vile Damage
STORMHEART (Player's Guide to Faerun PG 44) - Prerequisites: Human [Altumbel, the Dragon Coast, the Lake of Steam, Lapaliiya, the Nelanther Isles, The Sword Coast (Bingo!) or Tharsult] (Note: It is referring to region of character origin as a prerequisite) Benefit: You gain a +2 on Balance and Profession (Sailor) checks. You ignore any hampered movement penalties for fighting on pitching or slippery decks, and you gain a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class during any fight that takes place on a boat or ship. - This feat was taken as pure flavoring since I had five feats and no fucking prerequisites met for the feats I wanted at character creation and is the first to go if you want to try and optimize this style. Even as I write this I already sort of wish I hadn't but it paid off once we actually set sail so I can't be too mad.
Sidebar - I would have LOVED to add Vile Natural Attack onto this at a later date, BUT Unarmed Strikes for some reason in the games RAW are NOT counted as Natural weapons so EVEN WITH feats that boost the damage dice of my Unarmed Strike itself, I literally CANNOT meet the prerequisites for it BECAUSE I am Human. As an aside - since Unarmed Strikes only count as a LIGHT weapon, you cannot power attack with it either (Power Attack in 3.5 specifically EXCLUDES "Light" Melee Weapons) making THAT feat utterly useless in this build. Yikies.
Anyways continuing the feat breakdown. That was just 1st level (Feat sources: Human, 1st level, Fighter Bonus Feat, Flaw, Flaw. I cannot overstate how much I LOVE how Bullshit Fighters CAN be to make up for Spellcasters and Psions getting to have all the fun late-game by default.
LEVEL 2 (FIGHTER BONUS FEAT) - COMBAT EXPERTISE (Player's Handbook PG. 92) - When you use the attack action or the full attack action in melee, you can take a penalty of as much as –5 on your attack roll and add the same number (+5 or less) as a dodge bonus to your Armor Class. This number may not exceed your base attack bonus. The changes to attack rolls and Armor Class last until your next action. MOSTLY taken because you'd be surprised how many useful feats REQUIRE this insipid fucking thing...
LEVEL 3 DODGE (Player's Handbook PG. 93) - During your action, you designate an opponent and receive a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against attacks from that opponent. You can select a new opponent on any action. A condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses. Also, dodge bonuses (such as this one and a dwarf’s racial bonus on dodge attempts against giants) stack with each other, unlike most other types of bonuses. SEE ABOVE REASONING... Yes the early levels are setup.
LEVEL 5 (4th level Fighter Bonus Feat) - WEAPON SPECIALIZATION (UNARMED STRIKE) (Player's Handbook PG. 102) - Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, Weapon Focus with selected weapon, fighter level 4th. Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon. Note: When I took a level of Wilder my power as Mentioned Earlier was Prescience, Offensive, which added an Insight Bonus of 2 to all Damage Rolls I make, this is relevant.
Current Unarmed Strike Damage: 1d3+3(STR)+2(Vile Martial/Vile Ki)+2(Prescience, Offensive)+2(Weapon Spec) Damage Range - 7 - 9 (9-12 with Prescience)ON CRIT: 2d3+6(STR)+4(Vile Martial/Ki)+4(Prescience)+4(Weapon Spec) Damage Range - 16 - 20 (20-24 with Prescience active)
So that was a long as fuck Foreword, and they won't be like that in the future as I'm literally only listing changes to this baseline as we move forward, I figured I'd get the baseline of her build at this time out in the open for those who WANT to give the Fistfightin fighter a go themselves, with apologies to those who do not care about the actual statistics and just want the story I apologize wholeheartedly for the above.
With that mouthful out of the way - We begin.
LOOK AT HOW THEY MASSACRED MY BOY!
That... Was the first thing out of my mouth when the dust had fully settled and we had taken a day to fully secure the ship. While everyone else had taken note of the traps that they were very confused were simply ignoring them, and acquainting themselves with their new bunk-mates, I was busy taking inventory of everything that had been done to the Redwind in my absence.
First thing to take stock of were the Cannons.
Confiscated by the King of Tethyr... All 40 of them... Well that certainly explained why I saw shipboard cannons on the walls of Darromar the night I clambered over them prior to the... Unfortunate horse incident. Tethyr didn't HAVE gunpowder near as I could tell but it appeared they certainly would soon thanks to my inept former captain.
I'm already mentally writing off all chance of getting those back.
Throw in that this government was very likely fomenting a literal war as we speak with a nation that I'm fairly certain DOES have gunpowder and the odds somehow fall even lower than zero. I immediately informed everyone that the second the king requests that my ship procure more gunpowder we're either killing him or leaving and never returning.
They saw my logic and even Mountain readily agreed to that statement.
Poser objected on grounds of wanting to get her parish out of town first... I ignored her on grounds of gods being unwelcome on my ship unless their name was Umberlee and even THAT was only a bribe for her to not drown us.
Alfred brought the conversation back on-topic before Poser could cite Umberlee's status as evil. He at least seemed to partially understand why Sailors don't give a damn what the alignment of the goddess of the sea is and pay homage regardless.
Wait didn't the Sahaugin say something about sacrificing us to their "goddess"? Oh shit are we in trouble with Umberlee now? What are the odds they were talking about someone else?
Questions for later.
Next on my inventory breakdown was my personal drug operation. Already secured, good. That'll turn a nice profit as soon as I'm somewhere the Royal Cretins aren't looking.
But as for NON personal projects... *sigh*
In fact they got pretty much everything this ship needed to properly function, these repairs would be-
Our reward money would barely cover the cost of making this ship ACTUALLY seaworthy again, forget getting it back to its prior glory.
So... The King does hold grudges for something as small as attempted regicide. Got it.
I'm starting to understand why Tethyr's economy hadn't fully collapsed despite how deep in the shit it really was. I guess you don't gain the throne via warfare by being a complete fool.
He would've had my respect if it wasn't me getting screwed over.
I pulled everyone aside and explained to them our situation, this ship - had it made it out to sea - would've hit the drink within a day, its too damaged between the apparent outright Scuttling the King of Tethyr had been subjecting it to, and the various traps set off by the unauthorized personnel making an unscheduled departure, helped less by the fact that apparently Darromar had actually attempted to use force to stop the ship from leaving port when it was stolen if the holes in the side are any indicator, also who knows what the fuck the first Sahaugin attack had actually done to it internally.
In short, we HAD to turn around and head back to Darromar. Which was probably why the military escort had just thrown us off to secure it by ourselves, they had to have known we couldn't just take it and run.
If we happened to die doing it, well since the ship was never actually going to get anywhere, they could secure it at their leisure.
This news did not go over particularly well, even Alfred had furrowed his brow at the revelation we'd effectively just been used. Nobody took it harder than Molehill though, asking first if those "Non-Detection Sail thingies" were still here. I confirmed that they had been taken BUT the spares in Tiny's bay had been unnoticed.
The problem was that the uh "Spares" were just large bolts of cloth that needed to be properly fashioned into the ship's FLAG first, and they were not in-fact. Sails at all, I briefly told him "What kind of idiot would put their anti-scrying measures on the sails, people SHOOT at those" It was always the flag, that gets left alone almost all the time.
But in the meantime at Molehill's behest I took the unfashioned enchanted cloth and covered the Captain's quarters because he was sure someone would be listening in, I actually concurred with this on the basis that any Military stupid enough to NOT plant a bug somewhere on a captured enemy vessel could not be taken seriously.
As I would later learn, I GROSSLY overestimated the guile of our opponents.
Not because they didn't do that mind you, but because it turned out Cornelio had found and eaten the device the same week they had planted it.
The gargoyle whose IQ could readily double as his shoe size if he actually wore them I would remind you.
Anyways, Molehill revealed to us that his family had a very specific way of dealing with being cheated, used, and more to the point abused by people who came as false allies. That his name was [Redacted] of house [redacted] he was really 5th in line to head up his entire household. Alfred was his manservant whose family had served his loyally for nine generations.
I didn't pay too much attention to his spiel, mostly because I heard the word "Noble" and my vision started going the slightest bit hazy from how hard I had to bite my own tongue, I don't get along with many people, but nobility especially has a way of getting inside of my head and triggering a primal fury. I've had more than one attempt on my life back during a time before I could even properly form words and every goddamn time it was some Hired Gun from NEVERWINTER that for some reason or another's nobility decided that some nobody from the Slums of Luskan cannot be allowed to live any longer.
The fondest kindness I can remember from my Father was that these sycophants always got exactly one shot and when it didn't work they were gone just as quickly as the shot they took thanks to him.
Didn't stop me from caving his skull in the night I fled the city, but it was at least a fond memory.
What was Molehill saying again?
"-And that is why this insult cannot be allowed to stand, I know we had the intention to flee this conspiracy but I for one would like to, at the bear minimum, confirm its existence before we seek refuge in my homeland of Amn and set my Organization upon them"
Stay? Oh absolutely not.
"Listen here 'prince' you can talk a big game all you like but once I get my ship fixed the only thing I'm going to do is take my baby through the back half of this channel and head to Westgate to get an entirely new crew."
The "Prince" formerly known as Molehill looked confused "Not Luskan?"
I rolled my eyes, "They'd just outfit the ship with a new Captain and I'd be back to the bottom of the rung, I may be from that hellhole but I have no love or loyalty for that place."
Alfred interjected at that moment that there would be time to discuss it further after the ship had been fixed, and that while he saw why I didn't view this as my problem, if my suspicions were correct then not only was His and Prince's country at severe risk, so too were Mountain and Poser's Monastic orders, and that I might not care about those specifically but they had helped me with my debt to that brothel owner, and so far I the only one who could piece together what was actually going on, and thus, likely the only one who could see a big enough picture to stay ahead of our erstwhile unknown foes.
He bowed before me and asked if I could be convinced to repay my debt to them, as well as make a profit off of outmaneuvering such conspiratorial autocrats, should they actually exist.
Dammit... He's got me there.
I would like to step away for a minute to say that Alfred, the NON social Rogue, did a TREMENDOUS Job of getting me to go against my own alignment. In this case, by NOT doing that and instead pitching it in such a way that it stood to be in my best interest to start dismantling this evil plot against the entire southern half of the world (well... South-WESTERN half but semantics) he gave that entire pitch off the cuff when it looked like I was going to hold to my guns about just getting the hell out of dodge and ignoring all of it because Kheltra doesn't give a fuck.
So... Here we stand. On a beautiful but no-less essentially moth eaten raft in serious need of repair, with nothing but an oversold blanket to shield ourselves from prying eyes, about to concoct a plan to take on one of the most overreaching and vile multinational conspiracies ever devised by man.
Its funny in retrospect to think they ever stood a chance against us.
First we determined that the person who openly argues against me the most was Prince. So if I was to head up this operation he was the prime candidate to act as our mole (No pun intended) in this matter. He wrote up a letter of address to the King knowing it would be intercepted and read long before it reached his eyes, and thus likely seen by one or more members of this conspiracy even IF the king was uninvolved, though that was looking less likely by the second.
The letter would be a report on our successful recovery of The Redwind. Colored with a small few hints of Prince's disssatisfaction with my own ego and leadership. Nothing big mind you, but enough for someone who viewed themselves as cunning to pick out a potential turncoat should we become an annoyance for these bastards.
Mountain would continue as normal and continue to berate and question my qualifications, as a monk there was no hope the conspiracy would target him as a potential turncoat, but simply act as a sign of disunity to keep them from taking us seriously for a while longer.
Aiding him in this task would be Poser, who would ALSO continue as normal and keep doing things that made us collectively look like we only remember to tie our shoes after the third time we've tripped over the fucking laces.
Looking back, a LOT of making us look incompetent rested on us just sort of... Doing exactly as we've always done regardless.
Huh. Probably not important - anyways!
Chains would act as our "in" with the Mages Tower, using her 'alternative' form of Arcane magics to impress her way to a meeting with the heads to seek entrance with their college, we were able to downplay her own rather significant insight by using the rarity of Wu-Jen AGAINST the mages, overplaying the emotional connection to her magic rather than the studious to make her appear as "Talented, but highly unstable and more than a tad witless" While Chains didn't exactly care for the descriptor she did agree that so long as her appearance didn't seem like it would upset the status quo TOO much outside of being a curiosity, it should be subtle enough to get us a way to connect with Mages that might be pliable to fighting against what we've uncovered once we have enough evidence to present.
After all, taking on an entire NATION in one Mothball with what amounted to a bunch of insane drunkards was not the most well thought out of plans on the best of days.
But I don't get to choose what day it is apparently so it is INDEED looking like one of those.
Plus I still needed to get this crew manifest wiped so I didn't lose control of my ship by default when a higher ranking Luskan stepped aboard.
That would be awkward.
As for me, I would simply continue being "That arrogant bullheaded woman" that asked every uncomfortable question under the sun because I quote "Seem familiar enough with how villains think"
I didn't bother arguing on this point, but like hell if I was going to dispute it.
--------------------Unlimited Mainenence Works--------------------
So a few days later we get towed back into port, I have a complete breakdown on everything The Redwind would need in order to truly be considered "Seaworthy" again, and we stand yet again before The King of Tethyr. Who by now has gone over Prince's report and is congratulating us on a successful recovery. Then he informs us of a slight "issue" with our reward money.
Considering that this reward was going to be almost entirely eaten on repairing damage HE inflicted, I already knew this couldn't possibly be good.
He explains that the efforts to rebuild the kingdom in the aftermath of their civil war a few short years ago has left their coffers quite tapped, and that instead of paying us in liquid cash he was instead - since it appeared we were unable to go anywhere regardless at the moment - going to be paying us out with a line of official credit, good anywhere in Tethyr's borders, though to make up for it the Credit Line would be 1.25X higher than the initial reward proffered to us.
For some reason, everyone expected me to blow up at this news again, and this time I genuinely have no idea as to why. While I didn't explain why this was acceptable in front of any government types. I DID explain to everyone that the King must truly be short sighted if he thought the ability to directly bill Tethyr's ROYAL TREASURY would ONLY be good in Tethyr, and that we basically just got handed a major bargaining chip.
I even put forward the idea that since this country was obviously struggling, the next job we were offered by this King while I work to get The Redwind repaired we should only insist on half of the money offered being physical gold as a clever way to hide the objective of building up as much raw DEBT from this country as we could.
Very easy to crash an economy when you have the finger on whether or not their currency is trustworthy after all - though I didn't mention this part to anyone.
Better to let them all believe I'm only slightly more competent than they are, rather than several parallel dimensions ahead of their witless behinds.
But in the meanwhile, I had some orders to place.
My first stop with this line of credit was the Shipwright, here I was able to set to work replacing some of the stripped Mithril plating with something a little more basic to bring the defenses of my child just a little more in line with something combat worthy, as well as secure a way to get the Crew Registry wiped and re-signed over to me in exclusivity.
Unfortunately I couldn't replace the cannon mounts here, but when we were ready to leave this country to rot that would be easy enough. Provided nobody in the Sword Coast could just TAKE my property that is. So in the meanwhile I placed an order for a few sets of Ballista mounts to give at least a basic armament to it.
At the end of this bargaining I also tried to slip in a request that brought the Port Authorities down on me for brief questioning
...About 8 Pallets of Alchemists Fire. Not boxes, not crates, Warehouse Pallets of the stuff.
I downright REFUSED to elaborate to the Watch Captain of the Docks outside of providing proof that I was doing work for royalty, and that the less he knew about my methodology the better.
Apparently the Vizier happened to be in the area around this time and he cleared this purchase that was well and above over the legal limit under ordinary circumstances. So I got my crates placed in the hold of my ship that night.
Great! Now I also need a pallet of Smokesticks, Oil, and FlashPaper.
It took Several trips back and forth between customs and the market to confirm I wasn't a foreign terrorist planning on firebombing a government building to get all of this sorted out.
Like, every other purchase. I think I could actually see the exact moment around the 4th time I was dragged into this Warrant Officer's office that he decided he was to be a practicing alcoholic when his shift was over this night. Hey, it is NOT my fault you guys are so touchy about fire these past few days.
Annoying bastards... You couldn't prove anything.
Once that was all said and done, and I confirmed that the Pallets would be safely delivered to my vessel before the week's end, I went and took care of my second order of business.
Getting me a snazzy goddamn Duster Coat. Also replacing my Armor, not that I didn't enjoy throwing down on the deck of my ship in basically a T-Shirt and Khaki's but it was more painful than it should have been. Might as well replace these damaged clothes while I'm at it.
So one Duster Coat, Suit of Banded Mail, and a fancy Tricorn later I was proudly marching into the Mage's College with a request for their resident enchanter.
Fire Resistance on the Duster. Do not question me.
Only to promptly be told to turn around and take a damn hike because this was a college, NOT a shopkeep. That their standard bartering affairs were in a very specific shop in the marketplace.
Okay! So one march to the PROPER establishment later and I was well on my way to...
Getting told to take a hike because I didn't have the proper paperwork to authorize an enchantment of such nature...
So one MORE trip to the Authorities to get my purchase Authorized later and I've ALREADY decided that regardless of whatever else happens, I'm burning this city to the ground at the end of all of this for having a completely asinine bureaucratic bullshit system with at least 5 layers of red tape for seemingly fucking EVERYTHING fun.
By the Nine Hells I can only imagine how much of a pain everyone else is finding it to get their own equipment brought up to date...
Hint: It wasn't at all, I SPECIFICALLY was flagged a LONG time ago as requiring authorization to own anything sharper than a fucking crayon without knowing it. Forget high-end enchantments and bombs.
So anyways - I finish my short shopping spree off by acquiring a large sum of rope - at this point I had already went ahead and got the proper "Paperwork" well in advance of this purchase, and boy if I was plotting something I'd be real uncomfortable with this massive paper trail linking me back to all of these purchases.
Which is why I had the rope signed off under a Fake Name and had to forgo using the credit line for it, opting to pay out of my own pocket for that gear.
And a 10 foot pole.
Not important, trust me.
I had to wait on the immovable rods though, Even if I was willing to break open the credit card for that - which I wasn't - I wanted to burn through as little of the Credit Line as possible once the major ship refitting was completed. Didn't really have much of a choice in that respect given how expensive maintaining an entire bloody ship was.
These expenses are why Piracy is still a problem on the high seas.
That and, its just fun to steal shit from weaklings.
But maybe that's just me.
A few days later when I've secured everything in the Hull of The Redwind we get called into the King's Court for another job by the King since we were still DEFINITELY in town on our own accord and available free agents with known combat prowess he figured it was time to put us to work handling a matter of utmost state security.
Apparently far out to the east on the edge of a forest near the Lake of Steam his agents had tracked down a group of Goblin Raiders that had been harrying the local villages, monasteries, travelers, and well - pretty much everything that wasn't under 4 feet and green. He'd been looking for this battlegroup for quite a while but their tracks had always been carefully concealed. Making their operations within the region difficult to pin down.
So much so that he was growing concerned that it was more than simple goblins, the ugly bugs aren't exactly the dumbest creatures around but they are rarely THIS careful at covering themselves, leading him to believe that someone or something else had been directing their movements.
You don't say?
Damn, its almost like the Northern Half of your kingdom is in an open shooting war with a horde reportedly "without end" in terms of numbers or something.
Though admittedly, the question of what a group of them were doing this far south was actually a matter of curiosity, in addition to concerning. After all, the lands out east had little of importance or strategic value that *I* could see, so raiding along that area seemed... Pointless, if I'm perfectly honest.
Country is too poor for their to be much to loot of real value that far out anyways.
Still, because of how close it was to his home Mountain Insisted that we take the job and purge the filthy creatures, and frankly, expanding how much the kingdom owes us seemed like a good enough plan for the immediate future, since without anymore actions from the conspirators that I've been able to spot, we had no moves to make at present.
So sure, why the hell not.
We would set out in a few days, once the King's standing militia in the area could set up a proper quarantine around the suspected area before sending us in to clean it out.
In hindsight, I should have pushed harder on the seeming irrelevance of the area in question, but Mountain heard there was a threat to his specific monastery and just HAD to play Hero.
Still, if I had we might have actually seen the trap BEFORE we were caught in it.
At least it gave us some answers so maybe it was worth it in the end?
But now I sound like I'm coping.
So. Not much has happened so far outside of a restocking of supplies and laying the groundwork for a grand Counter-Scheme so far, all the Party is lacking is a solid target for who is involved to begin unraveling the full scope of this plot. We are operating under the assumption that "Everyone" is involved just to be safe but we can't even BEGIN to make an offensive move without a CONFIRMED hostile to pin to a dartboard. I leave you here for now and offer up for those who have enjoyed this Saga so far to stay tuned for the Next Chapter "Tooltime & Bowling" where the various bits and baubles accrued here and in the past chapters will begin outright snapping the balance of a dungeon crawl over its knee.
I'll see you then.
The infamous Deck of Many Things... How many times have DMs been warned to not use it, and players warned not to draw from it? How many games have been ruined through its mysterious and deadly ways?
Probably a lot, but I had a morbid fascination with it. I desperately wanted to make a good game centered around the artifact. I've probably made over a dozen outlines that never saw a game because there were too many ways for them to spiral out of control or ruin the player's games.
Then one day it hit me like lightning, the players wouldn't draw, an NPC would. So I went about crafting a game. A mid level party (starting at 7th level, the players were reasonably advanced) would be the retainer of a rather eccentric mage, how would send them on a quest to retrieve an artifact.
The party eventually encounters the deck, and they are suitably skeptical, I ask for their trust, and if things go awry, we'll end the game and I won't take offense. They grant it, but when I ask if they want to draw, almost at the same time shout "No!" I reply "Oh thank goodness."
The party returns to their patron, who eagerly draws.
Then the party realizes what I had planned. Their patron would draw cards, the party have to deal with the fallout. If their patron drew Flames, they would have to find and slay the devil. If their patron drew Gem, the party would get a share of the gold. You get the idea.
Over the course of a few months, the patron draws 5 times. Two that turned into long term arcs, one short term arc and the last two were beneficial draws.
The party all enjoyed it, but after a while we ditched the game in favor of a new DM who had a campaign he a new to run. It certainly wasn't the best game I've ever run or played, but it was enjoyable and successful. I felt (and still feel) unreasonably proud of it, for managing to turn what's normally a major red flag into a good game.
This is the ongoing tale of one Kheltra Nadeshka, a Chaotic Evil Fighter who specializes in Unarmed Combat as an experiment and hands-down the most successful experiment I've ever ran. Our party currently consists of:
By our powers combined WE ARE!Somehow not dead yet...
They tried to emancipate 13 slaves, over half of said slaves died horribly, it was great.
With the preamble out of the way lets proceed with the story of how Kheltra finally accomplished her objective from the very first session, and SUCCESSFULLY got her goddamn boat back.
Stick around, I promise you won't be able to predict this turn of events.
--------------------Kheltra despises Nobles? Lets meet the King!--------------------
I awoke from my slumber to find everybody but me dangerously hungover, yesterday was one hell of a party. I distinctly remember Punching a tree to death to showcase to the one former slave that wasn't a useless bellend how I was able to punch multiple slimes to death, if I recall correctly he got pretty scared when the tree withered away and died right before his eyes from a high enough concentration of Vile Damage, and I think doing that may have accidentally salted the Earth around our little dive bar from permanently infecting the roots of the thing with pure dark energy, but it wasn't actually my property so that was a problem for someone who wasn't me.
The slave didn't say anything about it anyways. Though that may have been because I promised to teach him how to do it when he expressed interest in doing similar things. Not sure how I'm gonna live up to that promise, I don't even know why I can channel this Dark Eco nonsense, best explanation I could manage was something akin to my raw hate being channeled through my hands and taking on a will of its own.
I don't even know if that's accurate mind you - but it seemed to satisfy him.
His silence was probably a good thing too since my cohorts were not only hungover, but also at this very moment - being lined up against a wall with their hands on their heads by that Watch Captain from the time we burnt down a brothel... We DO seem to burn things a lot don't we?
Wait, against the wall? What!?
I snapped back into focus when a sword was suddenly pressed against my neck and Captain Pissant told me that we have been summoned before the Royal Court for direct questioning from the Monarch of the Land...
Okay, I guess we're doing this today.Neat.
As I'm being Perp-walked for the first time with my team - but probably the 20th time in my life - through the streets and taken to be questioned I ran a mental checklist through my head at how well we'd covered our tracks, and wondered what they knew, and what they would merely be fishing for.
We weren't charged for the orignal Arson because of the backroom deal I made with that damned Matron - who need I remind anyone - STARTED that bullshit when she threatened me with overt sexual assault... Not that the WATCH cared, since the Jagoffs were already predisposed against me BEFORE I accidentally found out they were megalomaniacs vying to take over the entire southern half of the world.
Okay that's not fair, they're just WORKING for the Megalomanical douchebag vying to take over the entire southern half of the world.
But could they possibly know that I'd sus'd out their conspiracy? Hardly, we wouldn't be getting walked directly to the King if they did, we'd be getting walked into a dark alley and disappeared forever were THAT the case...
At least - if the assassins were any indication that is.
They also hadn't disarmed us, we were cuffed but neither our weapons nor our armor - well - not MY armor on account of Experiment 2494 property of Apprentice Hathio - Huh... I'm surprised I remembered that so perfectly... D'ah shit I'm still in the streetclothes I left in my room... at least I had a change of clothes I guess. Damn, I need a coat.
NO! NO... Focus Kheltra What. Do. They. Know?
I pretty emphatically made sure there were no survivors of the incident with the Filthy Orcblood, and while we didn't EXACTLY dispose of the Caravan there was nothing tying US to it so unless they have ALL of the Bandits on the dole there is no way they wouldn't just assume an unfortunate raid happened.Because I mean... Technically that IS what happened - but they couldn't know it was US...Could they?
The whole reason for burning down the slums in the first place WAS to cover our tracks, so who could have...
Oh shit the beggars ratted us out didn't they?Wonderful.
"KHELTRA!" I hear screamed at me by The MIGHTY Mountain. Snapping me back into focus, I looked around for a moment.
ONLY to realize we were standing in the middle of the King's Court, and from what I could gather, I had just been asked a question by His "Majesty" (Said in the most sarcastic tone you can think of) that I... Completely wasn't paying attention to.
I stared around the room to see everybody bowing, I looked directly into this pipsqueak halflings eyes.
Oh... He was a halfling? huh... Well shit if he's anything like Mountain's little man disease no fucking WONDER he was trying to take over the world to make his balls feel big.
Mountain was pushing on the back of my shins trying to get me to... Bow I think? I kicked him in the jaw and almost told him to piss off when the king raised a hand and simply said "Its fine, I don't care if she bows or not, only that she answers my question."
Question. Right... Fuck what was the question? Am I going to die if I ask him to repeat it I wonder? I'm tough not suicidal, I leave that type of shit to the rest of these morons.
The King tilts his head at me "So... Do you know of it or not?"
"Know of it?" I tried to make the question sound rhetorical "I uh... I suppose you could say that. What business is it of yours?" I tried to make that sound casual, but based on how his brow furrowed I think it came off more venomous than intended (Diplomacy: 12)
I raised my still cuffed hands in a pacifying gesture "I mean, I may have a passing familiarity. Depending on who you ask." I swear to god if those motherfucking poor people sold us out I am going to bury my fist so far up each of their asses the Taxman will feel a sense of inferiority towards me.
The King claps his hands together "Ah good, so you might have an idea of what to expect from it! Our mages could barely scratch the surface of it its securities were so tightly wound."
W-what? Securities? Mages? Are we not dead men?
I tried to cover my confusion "Rrriight... well you know mages... Always paranoid of their secrets being unraveled...." I hate all gods and everything they stand for - except maybe Bhaal if he wasn't dead, dude knew how to party from what I hear - but if any of them see fit to get me out of this I'll stop spitting on your wayshrines at every opportunity.
"That's why it was so surprising that a Rogue band managed to steal it." The king sat back down in his thrown, suddenly looking wearied to my eyes, shaking his head "Its been quite the embarrassment to be honest"
Wait, a band of Rogues managed to steal something right out from the kings own nose? I couldn't help but laugh internally
For all of 5 seconds when I happened to look over at Alfred, whose mouth was agape and swiftly realized "Oh shit that was out loud wasn't it?" (Bluff: 9)
Alfred: "Which part? The Laughter... Or the part where you just called the king an idiot?" (Sense Motive: 19)
My eyes snapped back to the King, who was giving me a nasty side-eye for a moment before his gaze softened and he sighed. "No, no, I suppose I understand. It IS a little amusing and to be honest I think I'd prefer if we could laugh about the mishap, frankly you're taking the news in stride quite admirably."
Why the fuck would I care if the king lost something of value? I blinked and looked around quickly to confirm I hadn't blurted THAT out too... Looks like I hadn't.
"I suppose your presence here is proof enough that you weren't involved however, I am hereby declaring the investigation into your involvement of human trafficking resolved, and finding you and the rest of your surviving crew 'Not Guilty' of involvement in Slave Trafficking."
Oh... Sweet. Why were we brought here in cuffs then?
"Unfortunately your Captain, The Quartermaster, AND First Mate were all found Guilty of Conspiracy, though all evidence before the theft pointed to them acting in secret, using a compartment none of the crew, including yourself, could confirm existing within your knowledge even under a Zone of Truth, they were all subsequently hung from the high tower approximately five days ago." he finished
MORE GOOD NEWS! I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT INCOMPETENT MORON ANYMORE!Is it my birthday or something?
"I'm glad this matter could be resolved amicably" I said with a short bow. This king was pretty alright.
"I also heard about your involvement of liberating the slaves in a hidden base beneath the sewers, I don't know how the Goblins got this deep in but I promise you this matter will be resolved, I am prepared to reward you for your efforts in freeing my people" he continued
FUCKING PAYDIRT! I actually smiled at a noble for the first time in.... Ever... I think?
"I thank you your majesty, I'm glad to meet a ruler who cares for the oft-forgotten underclasses for a change" Oh yeah, I'm GREAT at this!
"Wait but you didn't even c-" My boot somehow found itself placed upon Poser's foot, I don't think the king noticed.
"Quite" he said with a smile "And don't worry, as I said the investigation is resolved since you've proven your quality sufficiently enough, so worry not, as soon as my men retrieve your ship from those vagrants and it will be returned to your crew so you can be on your way."
Molehill looked to the side "How'd that window break?"The King looked just as confused "I have no idea, I'll get the Vizier in here to repair it in a minute"
I shook myself back into focus, I think I passed out on my feet for a second
"Milord?" I said slowly
The king turned to face me with a puzzled expression "What is it dear lady?"
"I uh... I don't understand."
He craned his neck at me "Understand what?"
"What do you mean 'Retrieve' my ship?"
He blinked at me "You are Luskan, correct? One of the Sailors that came in on the Redwind?"
"Y-Yeah?" I narrowed my gaze in confusion at him.
The king's gaze narrowed in turn, mirroring my own "As I said when you walked in, the Redwind was stolen yesterday morning by a group of Calimshites"
"YOU INCOMPETENT PIECES OF SHI-"
I'm not 100% on what happened next, first my vision went Red, then things got hazy, I seem to remember multiple people attempting to forcibly calm me down with magic, that had the effect of making me Angrier figure that one out yourself. The Vizier came in and had to restrain me with Hold person because I guess 2 guards and Mountain were failing to hold me from reaching the King's throat.
All I know is that when I woke up Molehill somehow smoothed things over enough that the King wasn't mad at me and I wasn't about to be executed for attempting to kill the king (Diplomacy: 33)
Hell, he even found my attempt amusing despite himself, and conceded to Molehill that he was unaccustomed to someone being as open as I was towards him, and he liked my spirit.
To this day I do not know what Molehill told him. But he was even willing to pay me to go and fetch my own damned ship...
They are still unforgiven for losing it though...
--------------------Hadn't you heard? Luskan Ships are built different--------------------
So it was that within a single day we were aboard a Tethyr naval ship heading upstream towards the sea, everyone seemed aware that if my damned ship made it to open water it was gone.
Now, I don't mean to brag or anything, but Luskan ships are Fast and the Redwind was considered a marvel even among those boys. It may as well have been the standard for solo operations. It was no Galleon, and in a straight fight it would go down like any other ship when outnumbered, but it was never designed to take head-on fights so I am not especially worried about that.
The Ships entire setup was designed around Speed and Mobility, to overwhelm a target BEFORE it had a chance to get into a proper fighting position, disable its sails with copious chainshot, and board its prey for plunder and glory.
Well at least, that's how my captain, and all prior captains had used it.
It boasted hidden compartments perfect for smuggling all over the damn place, a few of which the current captain (before his execution) hadn't even known about.
But I did. I've seen the Redwind under 4 different captains. I only ever liked the first bastard.
Let me explain.
I you recall, I have an Ageless body, I've been around for about 3 and a half decades while retaining the appearance of an early 20-something woman. I'd been on this ship about 5 years prior to the incident that had tricked me out of immortality.
I happened to stowaway on the Redwind when I was 17 years old to escape Luskan City, I was found within a few days of doing so, but rather than detain me and take me back to the city, the Captain of this vessel at the time decided that he rather enjoyed my "fiery" attitude and decided to use me instead, training me for everything a proper pirate would face, he inducted me into the crew registry so its automated defenses wouldn't kill me and hid me away whenever Naval Officials came aboard for any reason.
I was part of the Redwind's crew for close to 2 decades of my life, I've been aboard this ship longer than anyone, for all intents and purposes it was MY ship, I had a far greater claim to it than any other.
I couldn't advance in official status aboard the ship however, because I was never officially part of the Luskan Navy. I didn't Technically exist as far as anyone back in that town that mattered was aware.
So every time an officer got shot, I had to bite my tongue, not draw attention to myself, and await the next moron who thought he knew how to sail walk aboard MY baby and run it further into the ground.
Other than this Ring here, Its not an exaggeration to say that the Redwind is the only thing I've ever truly loved.
However, these thieves.
These FUCKING thieves.
They were the WORST sailors I've ever had the displeasure of being robbed by.
The king had sent a court mage out on this rickety Tethyr-made, moth eaten, absolute piece of trash mistakenly referred to as a boat who was Scrying the location of the Redwind.
And ya'll... Let me tell you!
The state my child was in...
The following is a recorded excerpt listed in the official report between Captain Emaldo of the Tethyr Sloop designation "Imperious" and "Kheltra Nadeshka" along with her... Friends?
KN: (muttering) What the fuck? I can see it...
CE: (Smugly) Well yes girl, that's how magic works. I've allowed you to be at this meeting as an advisor, but how could you-
KN: (Flatly) No, dumbass I mean 'They didn't engage the Nondetection flag'
CE: (Confused) The... The Nondetec-
KN: (Frustrated) its going so damn slow! Why are they fighting the current AND the Wind? By all the hells have these morons ever SEEN a Professional Privateer ship much less steered one!?
CE: Nature is not something that-
KN: (Snapping at Captain Emaldo) And YOU! What is taking so long? They're practically GIVING us My ship back and you're claiming it's going to take us 3 days to catch THIS!?
CE: (Curtly) In case you hadn't noticed, just as they are we are moving AGAINST the current and wind as well
KN: (BEYOND Confused) So engage the damned sails already!
CE: Engage the what? I'm not fully opening the sails AGAINST the wind are you mad!?
KN: (Blinking momentarily) Do... Do your ships not have control over the wind?
CE: That's not even possible!
KN: So this is what passes for a Navy in a land-based country huh? (She gains a flippant smile at this point) Okay, so Druids know this handy spell called "favorable wind" [Stormwrack PG. 116] (She then begins speaking in a condescending tone) That spell, while cast by a Druid can easily manipulate the winds to eliminate the wind as a negative factor, its PRETTY DAMN STANDARD affair for naval ships worth a damn to either have a device to cast spells of this nature automatically, or if they're wealthy enough, INFUSE this spell directly into the sails to be cast and maintained when they are fully opened.
The excerpt ends here as it appears the Captain had the girl removed from the meeting
Sidenote: Captain Emaldo advises procuring travel-based spells from any of the Druidic Groves in the forests within Tethyr's borders.
I'm not sure why, but the pursuit didn't go very well thanks to the incompetence of this gods-forsaken raft and its miserable excuse for a Captain.
Not because we were incapable of catching it mind you, hell if the Redwind was to move any slower I'm fairly certain a wheelchair-bound halfling could walk faster than it was moving by comparison to the knots it SHOULD have been pulling.
If Mountain crawled any further up my ass about "Manners" on this trip I may have even tried to test that theory.
No, it went wrong because after 3 days the ship's emergency break kicked in and dropped anchor because the intruders couldn't provide crew-identification and when I calmly explained to our "Captain" what REAL ships have to prevent theft he gave us a rowboat and threw us off his ship to "Deal with it yourselves"
Jackass. But at least there would be no Tethyr Military setting foot on my property again.
So five days into the pursuit our little rowboat reaches the Redwind.
I was finally home. Now I just had to kick out the freeloaders.
If my baby hadn't already done it for me, that is.
The fight topside was actually fairly quick, these people were not soldiers, nor were they even slavers on the run. They seemed to just be run-of-the-mill thieves who happened to be primarily Calimshan in origin.
That begged the question of "How in the hell did THESE pathetic wastes steal this out from under the nose of the King?"
I'm pretty sure I've killed peasants who put up a better fight.
Still, we subdued and interrogated the Captain, and he swore up and down that he was just looking for a way to be free of the ever-tightening grip of the monarchy, and he was simply a loyalist from the old regime.
Made a certain degree of sense, he was definitely a Tethyr Native, and unlike the others he actually had some combat skill. Some kind of "Old Soldier" type. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't a Sailor and knew nothing of running a ship. He lamented that they were almost away when the Anchor Dropped and the Windlass locked up on them.
He also explained that it was like the ship started fighting them after that, the crew was too scared to go below decks. A ton of traps had been activated and a third of them had died below deck before we even got there.
Good. That meant my drug stash was undisturbed.
Then. A band of Sahaugin burst out from the waters and there was suddenly a fight on our hands.
The leader explained that these things had taken another third of the crew yesterday.
It wasn't a hard battle but I remember this exchange specifically:
The Sahaugin leader explaining to us in Aquan how they had so many more below deck and that we were hopelessly outnumbered and should surrender to be sacrifices to their goddess. That our deaths might ACTUALLY have some meaning that our life did not.
Below deck you say?
I verbally counted down from five in Aquan
I smiled when the monstrous screaming from below started.
So after THAT was dealt with I calmly walked below deck, my party followed me figuring that I wasn't scared for a reason.
First stop, my room.
I walked into my room and threw open the secret compartment.
My Devilweed was still there! I Immediately rolled one up and lit it.
It had been too long since I'd had this stuff!
Unfortunately while I was doing this, Mountain got curious or something and didn't pay enough attention to the screaming, so he went off to explore on his own while I was busy getting high.
Almost cost him his life. When a pair of claws were jammed into his ribs, and a Gargoyle tried to bite his entire upper torso.
I didn't hear this commotion, but everyone else did and ran to assist Mountain with this new threat, they yelled for me to get off my ass and I thankfully heard them.
I ran up topside to see what was going on and stopped short when I saw the scenario.
Mountain was grappling with a Gargoyle, and losing even as Alfred and Poser tried desperately to pull the beast off of him, and chains blasted it with magic.
I took a deep breath and yelled in a command voice
"CORNELIO! NO! THESE ONES ARE NOT FOR EATING!"
The Gargoyle immediately stopped short, withdrew its claws from Mountain, and turned to face me with a curious look
I sighed, one of these days that stupid bastard would learn to say my name properly
So after some brief yelling between myself and the others about what was and was not considered relevant information, I explained who Cornelio was.
Cornelio Esquire, a Gargoyle that the Redwind had picked up some 15 years back, it served as our ships disguise, the creature had muliple levels of Barbarian and when we came into port, he was stored away in one of our hidden compartments, on days where we would raid, we switched out our figurehead with him, helped to disguise our ship on the off chance there were survivors that escaped us. The figurehead is one of those details people don't forget when trying to identify a ship so it being completely different from when we pulled into port versus when we were out to sea let us get away with a LOT more than we could otherwise have done for far longer.
As I was one of the only people who was onboard the Redwind longer than it was at this point, it often acquiesced to me, sometimes even over the current captain. Which infuriated the man to no end.
Anyways they asked if there were any more surprises they should know about, I said no.
In my defense, I had literally just gotten high and therefore COMPLETELY forgot about one OTHER thing.
Poser found that one.
About 10 minutes later...
So I've gotten ahold of the Ships Crew Manifest, and quickly added the group to its registry. Unfortunately as I was currently only "Acting Captain" on account of being the highest-ranked crewmember currently aboard, I couldn't wipe the previous crew.
This was a problem I would have to correct as soon as we got back to town. I was not turning this ship back over to another witless fuckhead from Luskan.
To explain in brief, the Manifest was enchanted to recognize its specific crew, and NOT set off wards, magical traps and other foul works in situations where its defenses were engaged, so long as I was in their presence, they were safe. But if the Party went anywhere on this ship WITHOUT me until I could release the lockdown...
Why didn't I do this immediately you ask?
Because it was funny, also because my priorities were making sure my Narcotics and Booze were untouched FIRST. If they wanna go exploring in this madhouse without me that's between them and Darwin as far as I'm concerned.
Speaking of which, it turned out I had added them to the Registry JUST in time because POSER had wandered to the bottom of the ship and almost tripped an explosive rune. The logic being that if boarders had made it to the lowest level then the ship was probably already lost and would scuttle itself to prevent capture.
I still laugh thinking that I was about 6 seconds from killing everyone, except me. Captains Quarters would have been mostly untouched, and we still had a rowboat I could have escaped to.
Still, would have had to resurrect Poser just to kill her repetitively over and over again if she took this beauty from me.
That being SAID, I DID make a point to remove those runes later, because I'd sooner die myself than see THIS ship sunk to the bottom.
Still... What I really would have lamented was the loss of Tim- OH SHIT TIMOTHY!
I rushed down to the lowest deck like a bat out of hell, I would not have been surprised if flames had burst out of my feet from the panic I was in.
Alas the screaming started just as I reached the lowest deck with a concerned party in tow, I cringed a little bit thinking how I was going to get another lecture from these pansies before I threw the door open.
Oh good, Poser wasn't eaten, just terrified in a corner at the curious eyes of Tiny.
Tiny in this case being my pet Hammerclaw [Stormwrack PG. 152] Image included
I immediately jumped on its back as it approached Poser and began hugging it shouting TINY! in Aquan. A Language these beauties actually speak and understand.
Of course Timmy recognized me immediately and told me all about how first some people he didn't know broke in, so he ate them. Then some more people he didn't know broke in - so he ate those too, and finally some Sahaugin broke in - those tasted the best.
I kicked myself internally, I actually felt bad I had forgotten about Sir Tiny Timothy while I was gone.
The rest of the party agreed unilaterally that this was the first thing they saw me actively overjoyed about that wasn't the result of something completely disturbing and that somehow THIS was the creepiest they'd ever seen me.
But fuck them, I had my little mutant Crab-Lobster... Thing back and I loved him.
And you know what? They grew to love him too, he was the MVP of more than a few fights that came our way in the future.
Also they found out Sir Timothy had a Higher intelligence than Cornelio The Gargoyle once I had taught a few of them Aquan. Which they found just as funny as I did.
So now you have the complete setup. From the discovery of the Conspiracy to the reclaiming of my ship. So I ask you, do you want to hear what happens next? It'll be a disappointing finish at the end, well. For the campaign anyways. But I am willing to continue this whenever I have time.
My players went after a warlord who had escaped the war he started and lost.. they lost track of him and found him again in a goblin warren.
But they were stopped at one such doorway because that warlord taught the goblins a thing or two about fighting in urban combat.
The players, 8th level characters, were stopped… by goblins. Little, half cr goblins, stopped an 8th level party in it's tracks.
Tactically it was the absolute worst fight they ever ran into and the PC’s were sent back to the village to lick their wounds.
In the end however, they did succeed on the second try and going through 3 different fall back defenses to finally get to the main boss. To the paladin’s credit before executing the warlord, “For what it’s worth, you have my respect. Any last words?”
That, was a high honor for him to extend. He normally had no respect for evil at all. The guy did say, “I counted one too many fireballs.”
The mage just held up the wand of fireballs and smiled, and the warlord shook his head in amused disbelief. "Well played."
That was all it took to win. One extra fireball.
This is a cataloging of the misadventures of one Kheltra Nadeshka. A Luskan Pirate who has been under a pseudo house arrest for several months and shortly after meeting with a merry band of morons, accidentally uncovered - and began dismantling - a conspiracy involving the trade of slaves to foment a war between two bitter rivals being funded by a third. The start of which can be read about HERE
Their most recent actions are shown HERE but please disregard the title because the style of the finished result of that story turned out way different from the title pitch and I didn't notice until it was already posted and re-read it. That's what I get for not proofreading I suppose...
No cast list this time, because nothing has changed between then and now.
With that out of the way, onwards and upwards.
When last we left the party, they were underground in a burning cave, deciding to take all of the slaves recovered from the goblin mini-fort out of the barracks and back out through the sewers rather than risk using the cave exit within and running into any more hostiles on the surface exit there, well... That and the appearance of motherfucking DROW making us question if the exit even really went to the surface in the first place, a gamble not even I was willing to take despite myself.
The funny thing is, this surprisingly went off without much of an issue.
Much of an issue being sort of subjective here, admittedly.
I mean... I had fun.
We dragged the slaves back out to the tower, in spite of my protests that these useless vagabonds would only weigh us down and with the government after us we didn't exactly have anyone to return these target dummies to for proper payment anyways, but I was swiftly overruled on this take. I even brought up that we were in no position for a fight and the only way back to the surface that we could confirm had no hostiles was currently burning to the ground.
The MIGHTY Mountain pointed out to me that the fire was like 9 hours ago and it couldn't possibly still be burning...
For some reason, this ridiculous logic was seconded by everyone else so I opted to not say anything and just let nature take its course on this decision.
We had about a baker's dozen worth of recently emancipated slaves with us, and we set back on returning to our entry point. I made a subtle listen check near the surface for sounds of flame, confirmed hearing it, and remained silent thinking to myself "This is going to be hilarious"
So the grate slid open, the first slave poked his head out.
and was immediately blasted in the face with a jet of wild flame. He falls back into the sewer knocking another down the ladder with him, oops. Two gone already, seems like in their haste to save people instead of listening to me, they forgot that commoners are far less hardy folk than we are, and they tried to play rear guard in case of an attack from behind, so convinced they were that there was no threat of fire.
I just gave Mountain a smug smirk.
It should be worth noting out of game that the players complained about this point, saying that in 9 hours the fire could not possibly have been standing, this was silenced with a 10 second google search by both myself and the DM, TL;DR: Wildfires are nuts bro, shit can go for *weeks* if not dealt with quick enough and at some point, water stops working. I even got in a jab about how the fire MIGHT have been fine if it had been left at just me, but SOMEBODY exacerbated the situation with Alchemical Fire, which burns even hotter, albeit only for a few seconds, but enough that a bunch of grass slum-huts could DEFINITELY take care of the rest.
Back to the story
So with our original exit out, and even if we WERE willing to use the cavern exit back below, we couldn't due to the fire and smoke (mostly the smoke at this point) in THAT direction, Alfred, Molehill, and I went about studying the map to try and find an exit away from the slums in this sewer, while a rest was called for. I "borrowed" a few crossbows from the rest of the group while they went to appropriate some spare weapons and handed them out to the slaves, telling them to make themselves goddamn useful or I would "Do something dreadful" in a monotone. It should be noted I wasn't exactly clear myself on what I meant by "something dreadful" but Molehill's player appreciated the reference.
We lose another slave when the Troglodytes return during the rest period, but Poser was quite admirable at blocking their scimitars with her face for us otherwise.
She even had a good idea to arm two of the slaves with those goblin paint arrows for us after that, I was only sad that for all my plans I didn't think of that. But hey, I ain't perfect... Yet.
But we did recover some interesting loot off of them, a nice little scroll of Grease
If you are familiar with DND, I shouldn't have to explain why this is worthy of mention and not at all a good idea for the DM to give to us. So as a fun experiment try and guess how it comes back up.
Our trek through the sewer system continues. We run afoul of a Trog Village and decide rather than deal with it, we'd mark on the map where it was just in case the Kingdom's officials weren't trying to kill us, or if they WERE I figured I could beat their chieftain to death and cow the others into service for the purpose of exacting revenge against the country - I may have omitted this second intention from the rest of the group - and instead spent a day trying to find a passage that avoided them.
Which is how we are where we find ourselves afoul of our current situation - Two Green Jellies and an Otyugh, currently feasting on the remains of yet another of our "rescued" slaves.
My team is good at this - as you can no doubt tell.
You know what green paint doesn't help with marking? a Green fucking Slime.
You know what doesn't NEED marked to help with hitting? A fucking 8 foot tall, 500 pound pissed-off Otyugh - something about it is just kinda hard to miss in a narrow hallway.
So one more slave is dead, two more are even more useless than the rest, I'm frustrated because my goddamn armor is taking another slime bath and is actually now damaged due to being partially dissolved and the lifeleech is draining The MIGHTY Mountain as we speak.
Actually that last part was pretty funny.
Especially when it tried to grab Alfred and he ended up on its back driving a Psiblade into its skull, which surprisingly only seemed to piss it off but hey, it was bleeding at least.
Chains actually managed to finish off one of the slimes with a burning hands, unfortunately she also dispatched one of the slaves in the blast radius, because just before she could attack SOMEONE -
Used Obscuring Mist to "BLIND THE OTYUGH"
Poser... If you're reading this you still aren't forgiven, and I haven't forgotten.
3 years be damned.
Obstructing vision... When EVERYONE says "Are you sure" twice what kind of idiot-
That aside though, a few supercharged punches not caring about damage resistance made short work of my slime, but now my already low AC is even worse for the rest of this field trip owing to wear and tear on the armor.
It would be quite the shame if we don't end up getting paid for this...
The Lifeleech? Oh it died. Mountain somehow SUCCESSFULLY hit a stunning fist for the first time since I met him, we both grabbed a tentacle on either end and made a fucking wish...
I won by the way... I don't think he's forgiven me for it though. Can't see why since I'M the one who ended up in the literal shit creek as a result of the game.
So we started with 13 slaves, and here we are. Down to 8 from mishaps that have made the Party collectively tell them to simply stay back and not do anything anymore. To which I vehemently disagreed, offering that they were doing their duty as my sideshow entertainment quite admirably.
I was overruled on this for some reason.
So after all of that was done, we camped out for another night because the sewers are just a lovely scenic place that doesn't have an odious problem about it at all nosiree.
I mean, we've seen slavers, goblins, trogs, slimes, Lifeleeches, I'm pretty sure there is ABSOLUTELY no chance we run afoul of any-
Interlude: Kheltra hates wizards forever
Did you know that Mages are mad fucking scientists?
Did you know that they do cruel and inhumane experiments on people and animals alike?
Do you know where they dump the failed ones?
I can never unknow...
Don't get me wrong, their cruelty in the name of progress is downright admirable. But when said failed experiments get flushed into a section of the sewer I currently occupy and it tries to bite my entire body off, now I'm gonna have to have to pay your family a beating.
Anyways this is a story all about how some Wizard tried to crossbreed a STIRGE with a fucking RUST MONSTER
And why the first thing Kheltra bought after leaving the sewers was a goddamn full body Duster Coat. After a bath anyways...
I'd attach a picture of what she looks like because I commissioned it a few years ago, but this subreddit seems to have changed and uh... I can't do that anymore for some reason.
I dunno I don't keep up with this website
We stumbled into a sideroom that Alfred was "Quite sure" was safe due to being a certain organization's meeting place within this city. Which Molehill seconded.
Hm, a Noble Scion and his butler from Amn talking about an unnamed organization from Amn's secret meeting place in another country? I wonder what that could be...
"You can just say its a thieves den."
Alfred "Thief is... A negative word"
I smiled at him "Well whaddya know, so is 'Pirate' not that I'd know any"
Poser (Utterly failing her sense motive check again): "That's kind of a rude assumption"
"I... You... *sigh* ^(Yeah okay sure)."
Well, the place was empty anyways. Just a hidden door behind a false wall in a maintenance room. Inside of which was a small cache of supplies, and just enough room to squeeze us and the slaves in to rest.
Unfortunately we heard a scream from the slaves we had left behind and came rushing back to see a whopping 3 of these... Rust Stirges.
The good news is, neither of the creatures this hybrid was based on where very hardy
The Bad news is, both of the creatures this hybrid was based on are REALLY fucking uh... "Tricky" to engage in melee, and two of us punch people for a living...
Well their gaze fell upon the Fighter, who smelt of both blood AND metal, unlike The MIGHTY Mountain, who only smelt of blood.
Because no, they couldn't have mixed the Stirge with like, a killer moth that eats cloth or anything, that might have actually been funny for me. Had to be the thing that prioritizes metal armor.
Anyways, 2 slaves are dead because I didn't care enough to mention the idea of leaving a proper guard near our charges so of course nobody else thought to do that.
I decide "You know what? You guys show em whose boss, I'm gonna be back here waiting I don't care about these people"
The Rust Stirges decide "Metal Bloodsack... Fly directly at it en masse" because Stirges can fly, and the decision of whether or not I was to engage in the battle was definitively settled FOR me.
They uh... They most certainly DO fly now.
But I got a good look at the tag on the underside of one of the bastards as the three of them ate the rest of my armor and exposed me to the elements...
I know its serial number well now
Experiment 2494 property of Apprentice Hathio
This was my very first usage of Autohypnosis to commit every line of that tag to memory.
That is a story for another time though.
The fight itself actually didn't last very long, aside from getting drained of an uncomfortable amount of blood (5 CON points) and losing my armor, nothing much more of note happens in the sewers so I take the rags off of one of the dead slaves so have something to cover myself with from the leering gaze of Poser, and we camp out for 8 more hours.
Then, finally after an eternity - we emerge across the way from the Slums.
Only to find the fire has died out because we were down there for 3 days and apparently the mages got involved. Which DID explain why a science experiment suddenly hit us, perfect chance to dispose of a failed and highly dangerous experiment is when everyone is too panicked to pay attention to you.
We discovered the blaze was out because the first slave to emerge walked out onto the street, and IMMEDIATELY got atomized by a flying chunk of Rubble going at mach 2 or something.
Let me explain
APPARENTLY after the blaze was beaten back, the King called for everyone to remain indoors for about a day and had his Vizier start using an item called "Drums of Building" which is I GUESS a very old Wonderous item from like AD&D or something, to rebuild the slums but as proper stone state housing - quickly. He had been INTENDING on doing this construction for a while, but was unsure of how to relocate everyone in the slums without inciting a panic from people thinking he was acting the part of the tyrant or something. SO - Our Wildfire ended up... Improving the quality of life for these people.
I want to go over everything Kheltra has incited thus far and ask a question of all of you, because its bothered me from the very start.
Is our DM afraid to push actual consequences on us? Or am I paranoid, because those first 3 CAN be argued away, but I'm NOT certain on that last one. That seemed a little too convenient, and its actually when I started keeping track of every time I do something BLATANTLY monstrous as Kheltra and it has a positive effect on the world. It happens a LOT before the end of this.
Anyways where was I? Oh right, flying rock does a drive-by on one of the people the rest of the group swore to protect. I think that brings the number of surviving slaves down to... 5 now.
All I can do is Laugh at the visual, I am on my knees struggling to breathe between the blood loss of the Rustirges and the ACTUAL thumb of god flying by and deciding it was THAT man in particular's time. I don't know what he did, but SOME deity out there took personal offense at SOMETHING he did.
My team is SO good at rescuing people!
So there we are... In the middle of a rockstorm that we probably shouldn't be in, with Rubble flying down every major street at extreme speeds, just trying to get back to the bar we started in because we had no better idea of what to do. In hindsight, I see no reason why we don't just hunker down where we are very clearly NOT in the line of fire until the magical flash-construction is finished, but apparently we decided on that day that we were NOT going to back-down against these Drums that did absolutely nothing to us as long as we literally just STAYED OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY.
Since this attempt to run to the front door of our bar put the 5 remaining slaves in immediate lethal danger, I stayed silent and backed this plan 100%
Had to scrape Mountain off the pavement with a Spatula when he was informed at the last second that no, deflect arrows will in fact NOT deflect a wad of stone 4 times your own size flying right at your head but the DM was impressed that he was stupid enough to think that it even MIGHT.
Stupid bastard stood directly in its path and waited for it he was so confident in that call.
So while Mountain learned the hard way that its not THAT the wind is blowing but WHAT the wind is blowing in a Tornado, the rest of us huddled together and came up with an actual plan.
Tie a slave to a Javelin and toss him across the street was shot down on the basis that the stone flying through the road got bigger the higher up you got - because you know - THAT'S the only thing wrong with that idea.
Gust of wind? No not powerful enough to push objects of this size.
Obscuring Mist? I gave a counteroffer to use Poser as a baseball bat to try and break the flying boulders if she went through with it.
We landed on Crawl along the ground on your belly using gust of wind on an arc to create a pocket in the windstorm the drums were kicking up to make the smaller pieces of stone fly slightly further up and just barely miss us.
Somehow this worked, which I don't THINK should have, but I don't know enough about physics to dispute it. basically we had continual castings of gust of wind in the direction we were trying to go cutting across the storm, I don't THINK that's how physics works but somehow this played out okay, someone who actually knows this subject please let me know if we all should have died then and there.
But we made it through, with only 8 deaths. Proceeded to get irresponsibly drunk in the Pub, and waited for everything to subside.
I do not know why we expected everything to just "work out" like that but that's where I leave you for today.
Join me next time for "Stealing the Redwind"
Back in my early design days I loved the movie the Cube. So I had this idea of a dungeon similarly laid out. With trap rooms and some encounters with elementals. I thought it would be fun but I was wrong!
So when 2/3rds of my group didn’t show up the remaining player got a chance to try out my “dungeon”. There were three ways to escape find the room that had an exit (which was very far away), find the hidden exit and key to open it, or go through the rooms in a specific order (which included a couple trap rooms but was mostly safe).
The player got through the first trap of fire elementals pretty easily, but then I recognized the problem. All the traps were essentially save or die with only 1 player, because the assumption was there’d be more players and they could save each other. And add on that most of the encounters were traps so the player had the mundane gameplay loop of “roll perception”, “Avoid/Get hit by trap” repeat.
After the third room I realized how terrible the module was. But I plowed on and he managed to go through the rooms in the exact way I had written down for the secret way out. So what could have been a few hours of a bad game experience ended in about 45 minutes and was fine. The player even asked to do it again. 😅
**FOREWARD:**Despite what the title says, my DM is not a bad person, and he admitted over the table in front of everyone that he HAD to reshape the dungeon to give our opposing forces a fighting chance because I had plotted out what he was going to do SO perfectly that we would have emptied an entire underground fortress without them having the chance to even return fire and it would not have been very fun to play. Which we all agreed was probably true. I want to make that clear so that nobody thinks the dude is an asshole.
With that out of the way, lets proceed to the intro
This is a continuation of the tale of one Kheltra Nadeshka, whose orignal story can be viewed HERE for those of you just joining us, previously on The last episode we burned down an entire 8th of the Capitol City of Tethyr, one Darromar City, after successfully escaping getting sandwiched between the Police and a band of masked Calimshite Slavers.
The Cast as always is:
This is a followup to our escape from the Slums, after burning it down to cover our retreat through a very obvious sewer grate in the center of the slums. Which we figured would be eventually discovered, but with the fire we figured we bought ourselves at least a week to clear up what was going on in Darromar/Get the hell OUT of Darromar before anyone would be able to begin tracking us. Remember kids, Arson is a PERFECT smokescreen, if you get caught its because you didn't use enough of it.
So... There we were, knee deep in shit inside of what appeared to be a horrendously maintained block of the sewage system, the smell was almost unbearable, the Slave Girl was whining about being tired, the Nun was complaining about being dirty, The MIGHTY Mountain was complaining about being almost up to his neck in refuse if he didn't cling to the edges of the walls, Molehill throwing me irritated looks for starting a fire against our would-be allies, and Alfred... Being quiet and waiting for our next move.
The Law now hopefully believed us consumed in the blaze with the rest of the poor people above us, and SOMEWHERE down here, we determined that there lay the den of the rest of these slavers, or at least a single outpost. We had no friends, enemies all around us, and our supply state was nearly exhausted.
Well fuck, I've seen worse odds...
Our first Priority was to move forward and get to a place that didn't look like the blaze above might cause the ceiling to cave-in above us, and rest so we could get our bearings. The only objective at this point was to hopefully not stumble straight into the Slaver's den while running on Fumes. But we had the map of this section of the sewers and two Rogues who had memorized the damn thing by heart so that was at least one advantage.Stumbling forwards we came to a section of sewer that split off four ways, through a brief consultation with Alfred and me zoning out whenever Molehill started talking it was determined that south was likely our best bet, BUT there were signs of traffic in that direction that was recent, I figured it was from the group that now lie amongst the ruins above us and chose to take that route, since it was - at least for a while - the least likely pathway to involve confrontation, and that we would veer off that path at the NEXT intersection.
Everyone agreed that this plan seemed solid enough, that's when our first piece of unfortunate news arrived. After coming down this tunnel for a few minutes, I got the unwelcome surprise of a particularly slimy pile of detritus falling upon my entire body and attempting to eat me. This was followed up by arrow snipers at the far side of the next intersection
If you recall the very first story from 3 years ago: There was a border dispute between Amn and Tethyr being aggravated by a MASSIVE Goblin Horde that was running Rampant on both Kingdoms borders, this horde was without end by all accounts and was believed to have - at least - twice over the aggregate number of both Amn AND Tethyr's Military force COMBINED. Led by a king that towered over even a full armored knight on horseback. I had figured from the outset that Tethyr's lack of action against the Goblins indicated that there was some sort of deal brokered with them on this plot, but to have it confirmed in our already dire circumstances at this very moment, was not fun.
Even worse were the Troglodytes that had apparently been taming the Sewers local slime population for the Slavers and Goblins apparently, these were truly some strange, albeit not entirely UNEXPECTED Bedfellows we just tripped over.
The Goblins arrows were also blunted, hollowed out, not intended to deal damage, but to break on impact and cover the one shot with a Neon-Green paint that made target acquisition for everyone else on their side far easier, and stealthing around in this literal shithole, almost impossible. meanwhile I was in the process of being eaten by one of these pet slimes.
You ever try to punch a damn slime? It burns quite a bit and the slime barely gives a damn. BUT I was just barely able to wrestle the blighted bastard off of me and stomp it into little bits, the good news was that since I didn't cut it, it didn't split off by Mitosis and double our troubles, I got some wary looks from the others, who at this point still are unaware of my status of being evil, because even the monk was loathe to engage a Slime in unarmed combat, they were weirded out that me beating it to death worked but they didn't peer TOO hard into it, luckily Vile Damage does not CARE what you are resistant to so I was able to dispatch it after only a few rounds of being engulfed in the especially acidic trash pile.
Still, we made it through that mess fairly quickly, and nobody had escaped to alert the main camp of our presence, mostly because the one that almost got away to sound the alarm had his head blown off by Molehill's brain powers. Which led to the following exchange.
"What the hell was that!?"
Molehill: "What was what?"
"That Goblin was gone, none of us could reach him, how in the HELL did his head pop?"
Molehill: "I'm Psychic"
"W... What? You mean like those hokey fortune tellers?"
Molehill (Raising a confused eyebrow): "We live in a world filled with spellcasters and demons, what is so hard to believe about me being Psychic, Alfred is too."
"I thought you had to be incredibly intelligent to be psychic"
Alfred actually stifles a chuckle as Molehill looked taken aback "I AM intelligent, but no, even your witless ass could probably do it if you wanted to"
This exchange may not seem like much but it shaped me in a very particular way. Which we will discuss momentarily.
We followed the pathway of the goblin, who had been retreating towards what appeared to be a dead end, but Alfred determined very quickly was a false wall triggered by a pulley-system, the patch of wall looked almost brand new compared to the wreckage all around us, which to us indicated a place unlikely to cave-in. So it was that we determined that our best bet was to go in there, remove whatever locals had taken up residence, and use it ourselves to break camp in relative safety.
What we did NOT expect. Was for the wall to open up into an elevator-like system going even further down, ending in what was effectively an underground tower.
Just what the hell had we found!?How long had this been here?And how did nobody topside ever notice it?
The tower was actually quite empty, it was just an elevator shaft with a heavy iron door waiting at the bottom, so after our rogues rigged it to be unopenable from the other side, we set up camp, figuring this tower would easily bear the brunt of the surface collapsing (if it indeed did) and rested.
This brings our party up to level 4, where Kheltra diverges for the first time from what I had intended. See I had decided to roleplay Kheltra a VERY particular way and since she just saw someone's head explode very conveniently from the power of someone's mind alone, that thought was all she was focusing on during this rest period. Molehill had SAID anybody could learn to do it, but she didn't quite believe that, still the desire to have that kind of power at a mere thought seemed to resonate with her soul
So it was the Kheltra Nadeshka was now a 3rd level fighter, and a 1st level WilderA wilder who was entirely unaware she had just become Psychic. As such she had a single point in the Autohypnosis Skill, and her power was called Prescience, Offensive which raised her Unarmed Strike damage by an additional 2 points.
As a player I had WANTED to take Force Screen so I could raise my rather bad AC, but I was actively choosing to ONLY do things that made sense for the character, so while a defensive power to bolster her shit AC from not using a shield and opting for lighter armor so she could utilize more mobile attacks would have been a FAR better call, I read a flat damage increase that could apply to her Unarmed strikes and thought "Well she doesn't ACTUALLY KNOW that she has awakened to psychic powers yet, and unconsciously manifesting her new powers to Punch People even harder sounds COMPLETELY on-brand for her..." So that's what I did, this was also the ONLY level of Wilder I ever took, opting to resume levelling as a fighter after this point until I could hit the prerequisites for a prestige class that sounded too Stylish to NOT use for her, but I'm getting ahead of myself and THAT is a story for much much later down the line.
To give a hint on what that class is however I will leave it with an internet quote I read from... Somewhere, don't quite remember where a long time ago*"The afterimage technique can only be used by top-level Shonen Protagonists"*
Back to the plot
So there we were, rested and refueled for battle, and no idea what lay beyond that door. Our rogues fixed the jam they had created and we opened the door to the horizon beyond.
To come face-to-face with... A... Cave???
How far below the sewers were we!?
This was no longer a sewer system, we were just no bullshit in a deep dark cave, a cave with two buildings even.
A clearly goblin-made structure out of rickety planks serving as some sort of guard outpost
and what was very clearly some blackened stone fortress miles underground and screamed "Proper Miliary installation" to all of us.
At this point it was becoming clear to us that this was no simple slave-ring conspiracy to foment a war, this was some top-of-the-line military operation, this was not nobility, there was no earthly way this DIDN'T go up to some type of Royalty in its scope.
Imperial Soldiers to the Left of meGoblins to the Right of MeAnd here I am...Stuck in this shithole with you morons...
It would be no exaggeration to say I was getting mighty tired of being THIS correct, and so was the rest of my crew, though this definitely marks the point where when I started making a completely outlandish claim, everyone else started crying because they were convinced there was a 0% chance I was wrong.
My plan of "Break into the docks and abscond with MY Gorram ship" was looking more and more appealing by the second to everyone involved.
Were it so easy... Yet again I get ahead of myself.
Well, none of us were particularly in a rush to take on what appeared to be an underground fortress from hell with nothing more than our standard issue brass iron balls so we decided to investigate the rickety outpost first.
Everyone was so demoralized from our prospects that they were willing to go with any ideas
So I lit a torch, walked right up to the door of the outpost, and knocked on it.
A goblin answered the door and looked up at me, clearly very confused.
I shrugged at him and said "Fire department" in a complete deadpan Before pressing the lit torch directly into the goblin's face.
Judging by the wild screaming I don't think he appreciated it very much...
The victory was actually fairly swift. With one blinded goblin and three others who had been clearly sleeping on the job, not expecting anybody to penetrate this far deep into their operations undetected.
One of them tried to surrender, and it made The MIGHTY Mountain hesitate for a brief second before I shouted at him "What are you doing!?" to snap him out of his hesitation. The Goblin suddenly lunged forward and almost caught him in the sternum with a shiv before Molehill blew up his head with his brain again.
I grabbed Mountain by his throat after that fight and informed him to NEVER hesitate like that again, I do not care if they're faking surrender, and that goblins are vicious creatures deserving only of death, and that the second you turn your back those ugly little overgrown cockroaches WILL get the drop on you and that next time Molehill might not be around to save his sorry ass.
Mountain cited his code of ethics and refusal to strike down a surrendering foe, I called him a cowardthat we couldn't rely upon with that attitude and left it at that after implying that I would kill him myself to save some time next time he did something that stupid.
The easy part was now complete. We had secured the guardhouse, now how the hell were we going to tackle the heavily fortified building to our north?
Well I had a plan, this was a deep underground cave, with no clear exits to the surface on the OUTSIDE, but these things had come from somewhere, and were transporting slaves out SOMEHOW.I figured there was an exit to the surface within the walls of the fort.
Which meant there was an airflow in there that would pull towards them.
Also Poser had shown us her new spell list, which included Gust of Wind.
I figured these things were primarily goblins acting as the fighting force, and would not be as strong of constitution as the rest of us. So my plan was for us to all line up on one side of the fortress walls, flat against them with the guardhouse in view from our position.
I then used all of our remaining oil stock to light the guardhouse on fire, while poser blew the winds towards the fortress, there were windows and vents atop the fort that would suck in the smoke, we would force them to come out of their defensible positions, since they had no idea we were here. Force them to come out to fight the fire before they all choked to death, and get the drop on them. I figured we could handle the smoke inhalation far long than their frail bodies could.
The DM had to call the game to a halt for the third time. He realized my plan, and realized that the way I had set it up, he couldn't DO anything to stop me, and my logic for what would happen was as specific as it was impossible to refute. No longer would we be fighting the Goblins on their terms, now we would be fighting them on an open field from a place of surprise where they could be dispatched at our leisure.
See, we called it a "Fort" but it WAS still a goblin sized "Fort" which was effectively a walled-in barracks consisting of only a few rooms. The choking smoke would quickly overwhelm them if they DIDN'T come out in force to combat the blaze, all we had to do was wait. Especially since they didn't know they were under attack in the first place.
So the DM levelled with us
"Look, under these conditions, the fight will be a massacre, there is absolutely nothing they can do but get picked off under a massive smokescreen with no way to retaliate once you get this surprise attack off, I am unsure that I can allow that so I have to edit a few things, because the second problem is you're now fighting the entire fortress at once instead of small groups in a room-to-room clearing, which means you either win immediately, or die of attrition because of one or two bad rolls."
We understood and accepted that he was about to openly cheat to create a more interesting fight, however we would be rewarded far extra for our troubles and forcing his hand in such a way. Should we win.
So it was that just before the doors of the fort were to open to combat the blaze, a patrol returned from behind us containing spellcasters and a few more goblins removed from their original positions within the small fort.
Seeing that we were about to be blatantly attacked on two fronts with that door opening, I immediately ran up in front of the door to hold as many of them at the gate as I could with Mountain while the others dispatched these new highly unwelcome visitors.
That fight was actually kind of brutal, don't get me wrong we ran the table against odds Han Solo would call "Questionable" and it was far easier on the whole than it likely should have been given the circumstances due to myself and mountains quick thinking to prevent their meleeists from getting beyond the doorframe for a while. But I was weirded out that he thought we had a MASSIVE possibility of death if we didn't dispatch the goblin population quick enough.
My answer came when near the tail end of the battle, three Drow walked out of the fort.
There was a loop I didn't foresee...
What. The Fuck. Did I accidentally uncover!?!?
Those vicious little fuckers almost dropped us, THAT fight was where it became brutal. Two clerics and a Rogue properly prestiged into Shadowdancer.
I do not like Elves, but I especially don't like THOSE types of elves.
So the returning patrol gimmick was done literally to empty the fort of the spellcasters within it because the DM was worried that the boss encounter he had placed inside of the fort coming out at the same time as the goblin shamans would be too much for us. That my plan was so perfect that the only conclusion he reached was"Either they kill 30 goblins in 4 rounds, or the drow emerge with extra spell support and they all fucking die."
So he moved the spell support to a more accessible area, right behind us, hurt us initially but in the end made the drow takeable even in our harried state.
So I shit you not, there we were. absolutely covered in Goblin Gore while leaking our own vital fluids in various degrees when these 3 Lolth Lovers come charging out of the fortress and immediately body The MIGHTY Mountain. Our Cleric at this point is on the other end of the cavern and too far away to help either of us. Chains is frantically going over her spell list trying to come up with something that can quickly dispatch these things, and the rogues are sizing up their odds of out-stealthing a Drow Rogue and clearly not vibing with the mental answers they came to.Meanwhile I'm right in front of all three of them watching Mountain meet the fate of Krillin, and realizing that I'm probably looking like Yamcha right about now owing to my proximity.
Well, I can't run to regroup because these guys won't make bones about coup-de-gracing Mountain if I don't do something, I don't really care if he dies, but with Poser around he might be able to get back up and die in my place a second time instead of all of us getting wiped out instead, me in particular.
So I supercharge my punches and start wailing on the Shadowdancer, so long as I can prevent her from sticking her blade somewhere vital I'm probably good for a few rounds I figure.
unfortunately this diagnosis was dependent on literally anybody getting close enough to weather the clerics with Dire Maces on either end of me and not letting me become subject to a movie titled "One girl two metal rods"
So literally everybody choosing ranged attacks WITHOUT Precise Shot was NOT what I had in mind.
Chains uncorked an acid arrow on one of the clerics
Molehill tried to explode the other's head
Alfred used the distraction to hide and ready sneak attack
Poser... The little bitch, shot me in the ass with a bad crossbow roll.
I'm not too sure what happened after that, I seemed to remember intense pain in my head and the bolt in my ass going even deeper from a few sharp impacts then I woke up a few minutes later with Poser shouting hurried apologies for the arrow thing and only one of the Drow out of commission.
The fight was sort of a blur from there once I rejoined it with the only thing I really remember being of note was holding down the shadowdancer so she would hold still while everyone failed to hit her and instead kept smacking the shit out of me instead because trying to attack a grappled target hates you.
I think my "Allies" hurt me more than the damn drow did after that point because I was the only one who actually did anything of relevance to the shadowdancer until chains got tired of her dice's shit and resorted to magic missile every round just to guarantee she could stop contributing to my concussion.
But when the smoke settled, and a second wildfire in the same day raged inside of our cave, we won. We found the slaves, and hastily got them out of the cave. We discussed possibly running them to the surface through the exit in the cave, but decided "No. if there are guards at the other end of it, we are NOT equipped to it, and that fire does NOT look like its going to politely wait for us to rest."
And THAT is where I leave you today my friends, with the story of how my plan was so perfect in its execution, that the DM had to rewrite reality to make it backfire just slightly enough that we wouldn't get overwhelmed by a boss with 30 mooks 5 of which could cast spells. Or something, my own group was terrified of my planning capabilities after that because HAD IT NOT been for the Drow Surprise, that fight would have literally been so one-sided that the real challenge would have been staying awake for it.
Join me next time (in a few days because of work) for the story of how Kheltra gets her boat back.
One small post-edit: I would love to change the title to be a bit more accurate to the story, but unfortunately I cannot seem to DO that. It was a situation where I hit post, re-read everything to myself and went "Fuck that title doesn't work for what I ended up with in this story. Like, at all."