Travel to Hommlet
A couple of small adventures to get the PCs up near 4th level. The church asks the PCs to return the two elven women and the demonfey child back to their home a small hamlet of elves in the woods just past Hommlet. House Draga hires Chat to retrieve the demonfey child (named Damien. He sets up two encounters. The first is to soften the group up with Ogres. The second is a pair of worgs to finish the job.
The battle results in the first kill of the campaign. Maslow jumps out and shoots at an Ogre. Unfortunately for him, the ogre was next up in initiative. Smash! The party kills the ogres but decide to go find their lair, leaving only the Krass the barbarian and Giselle the sorceress in defense of the women.
Chat attacks and nearly succeeds. If I had remembered the SOB had a Wand of Invisibility, he would have slaughtered them. So, I changed the wand to Cat’s Grace (same value).
Now, the PCs have a few bodies to cart around.
Hommlet / Moathouse
The hook to get them there will be the elves they rescued. One has given birth to a "special" child. The other’s child was destroyed before it was born (would have be another of those chaos-creature-looking things). The elven church in Evermeet asks the PCs to escort them back to the home area – Hommlet!
House Draga has learned of the birth and seeks to get the child back. They hire Chatrilon (the assassin from the module) to retrieve the child. He arranges a few "random" encounters along the way.
In Hommlet, the cult assassin has been switched to Redithidoor Halfmoon, formerly the terrible bard in the Welcome Wench. He is still a terrible bard, but now he has a reason – he is not really a bard! I did the switch due to one player being familiar with the module. He is pretty good about not using such knowledge (he has been through some of the adventures in the other campaign up here), but I want to throw enough curves to keep him off balance. Also, if he survives, I will bump him in levels over time in the Deceiver prestige class from the Black Company Campaign Setting.
- This will be a nice change of pace for the players and PCs. Hommlet has enough going on that the players can take their time and savor the environment.
- This will be good for me as well. The pace has been a bit quick. Part of this has been me wanting to push along to the actual heart of the module. The other is I have not quite adjusted to the every-week pace of the game. I am still in the every-other week style. This style means most events are “on-plot”. Divergence from the plot has to be carefully thought out (for example, the players may be ready for a change in pace for a few sessions). Now, I can allow side-events and diversions to play into the campaign without loosing the long-term pace.
- I want the party to interact with Lareth. He resides in Nulb at this point of the adventure. The write-up generally nudges the PCs away from Nulb as too dangerous. Lareth has great role-playing opportunities at this stage in the adventure. He is a man who has little to live for, but was once a powerful man. A classic, tragic figure.
- I will use the NPC gnome Nierethi Poscurian as the hook for the Lareth meeting. I think his only appearance in the Columbus Campaign what when Xaod was trying to detect evil on Draegon, he picked up on the Gnome instead.
I have changed Nierethi Poscurian to a degree. He is still evil, but it is due to a dark secret – he favors sexual relations with under aged children. He started into this deviant behavior while he was staying in Waterdeep. He has kidnapped a few children and is willing to kill to keep the secret. Otherwise, he is a comedian/bard with a historical interest in the ToEE. He has had written correspondence with a man named Scar that he believes to be Lareth (he is correct).
Nierethi Poscurian will meet up with the PCs on the way to Hommlet and will try to convince them to help him find Scar. This gives a good excuse to push the PCs to the Moathouse, Nulb, and even the ruined Temple.
- The best of the boards (Monte’s site) has used the idea of the dragon taking over the leadership of the hobgoblins at the ToEE if the PCs win the day at the Moathouse (and the dragon survives). I will make a stronger link. Where I have placed the ToEE is where the Lady’s Hand Monastery is on the Silver Marches Map. In the SM, the blue dragons did attack that monastery. I will just alter the history a bit to say someone was taking up residence in the old Temple and did piss off the Blues. However, the Blues did win. They occupied the temple with their hobgoblins (the Red Flayer Tribe). Utreshimon was looking to set up his own territory, so the Blues offered to let him rule the ToEE ruin. This makes a nice tie-in to the SM.
- In the original module, the druid was slain and replaced by a doppelganger. I am going to change this (mainly to again confuse the one player who ran this module himself). First, it will be Terjon instead of the Druid. Second, the regular doppelganger will be replaced with an Aspect of Shifter (a Greater Doppleganger / wizard). As an aspect, he will essentially have only his racial powers.
NOTE: I did keep the Druid as the Greater Doppleganger and not Terjon, as you will see below
Actual proceedings in Hommlet.
The PCs go to get Maslow reincarnated by Jaroo the druid (they cannot afford the regular raise dead spell). They negotiate to pay the material cost plus they must harvest Mistletoe during the next full moon. They do not know that Jaroo is a doppelganger. He gets their story and informs Shifter. The cultists at the Moathouse have fallen silent, so Shifter decides to take the place of Maslow and investigate the situation without wasting other cult resources. As a Greater Doppleganger, he can actually take on Maslow’s identity and powers if he eats Maslow’s brain. Thanks to the Gentle Repose spell cast after the Ogre battle, the brain is nice and fresh.
The PCs fail to Speak with Dead (via Y’dey) on the first attempt (Chat makes the will save). They will just have to wait.
They PCs take the women to their village. I set up a few minor skill-based obstacles to get the PCs from thinking ambush. After a couple of obstacles, they have to cross a small ravine then a large one. The large one has a rope suspension bridge.
However, this is a trap! Hobgoblin scouts from the ToEE are in the area. These are the elite scouts of the tribe, and they have been sent out to discover what opposition they may encounter over time. They are Hobgoblins from Red Flayer tribe, who serve the Morueme (Blue) Dragons (Knowledge History DC 17). Their symbol is a bloody curved dagger. They are known to flay a captive and leave them behind as a warning to others.
They have discovered the elven hamlet on the other side of the suspension bridge. Elves tend to blend into such areas, so they want to capture someone to get the extent of the elven presence.
They are up on a nearby ledge (a steep slope) (provides Cover, and Climb DC 0, but keep in mind combat). They are well hidden (Spot DC 18) as they have spent time preparing the area. They use the Rapid Shot feat, and will withdraw if more than one PC gets up on the ledge (or if the lose a person or two).
They attack once the majority of the PCs are across the small ravine. They want the group to go over the suspension bridge. They have rigged it to that it will give way once about 250 pounds are on it (generally, two people, unless just elves). May need to have one of the females in place to cause a problem (perhaps she freezes as combat intensifies).
At first, things work according to plan. The player lazily moves a fig over the bridge (the barbarian). He fails the reflex save and falls into raging river as the bridge collapses. The PCs legitimately have rope in hand and are able to save the barbarian. As the plan collapses and a hobgoblin is killed, they sound a withdrawal. The PCs are curious as to why the HGs are around.
This had a side effect I had not anticipated. Elmo is not much concerned about the HBs he knows are up in the ToEE. However, hearing the PCs story makes him concerned the HBs may be eyeing the MH. He request the PCs go check it out.
Note that the Terrible Trio of Torm has set off to the ToEE when the PCs were gone.
Adventures in the Moathouse
Before setting out, K’rass noticed that Maslow looked more like the real Maslow when he was passed out drunk. Keep in mind that due to reincarnation, he looks more like a relative than his old self. The doppleganger’s methods are perfect for imitating the real Maslow, but he has to concentrate to make subtle changes to replicate the reincarnation spell.
Elmo tells the PCs that Ole Del lives out near the MH, but he is a bit crazy. On the way, they do battle Ankhegs that were plaguing the farmers.
The frogs in the moat ALMOST ate Hoot!
They enter into the Moathouse. Fought the dragon. Big U took K’rass and Faolin to negative HPs, then he escaped as he was down to 6 hps (will take about a week to get back up to full). Big U does kill the horses as revenge before flying off.
The PCs rest up. “Maslow” betrays the party by leaving (I was a bit disappointed here – figured the player (who is also a GM) would do something a bit nastier).
Big Battle in the Moathouse
PCs wind up in a nasty battle that spans two sessions. The encounter grew from the two gnolls (they killed one, one retreated and was down to about 3 hp), to the Ghast and 3 ghouls (all destroyed now), to two more gnolls (one dead), and Gren sends in the skeletons (the cleric blasts 4 of them). They also pick up Finbiddle, the Gnome Paladin for the party.
The PCs managed to pull a severely hurt Giselle out of the room and pull the door to. Well, they had one turn undead left, and the player rolled a natural 20 to turn the Ogre. The priestess was only 2nd level, and was unable to rebuke (I think I rolled a 2). They really beat up on the priestess. They all (Clr, turned Ogre, and gnoll) withdrew and were able to escape (the PCs did not push it). They found the first secret door and the stairs that led up to a secret door to the back room in the upper level. They searched all around and found the secret door in the pillar, but have not gone in it yet. Finally, they found the other secret door that leads deeper into the dungeon.
I let them rest up — the cult is under a lot of stress after losses to the dragon and the PC’s first assult. They sent the low-level clr out for help, and try to hold on.
The PCs continue the assualt, and get into a big fight with gnolls and the healed up Ogre skeleton. They kill all the gnolls but one (surrendered) and destroyed the ogre skeleton. The gnoll leader (Rng 2) attacks from the back of the line, and he cuts up the new PC (a gnome paladin….) pretty bad. Kobella, the ranger, joins Fin (the paladin) in the fight. The leader flees with only 6hp left. Kobella and Fin pursue, but Fin’s movement is only 15’ (gnome in plate….). The gnoll gets to the room that has 3 doors, one of which leads to a hallway towards the pool. Kobella shoots him, taking him to 0hp. He staggers through the door. Kobella wants to let him go, but Fin opens the door. He sees the gnoll head disappear at the end of the 60’ hall (he goes down the stairs into the pool room).
The PCs regroup and prepare to continue the advance (still in pretty good shape spell-wise).
My next step is an interesting one. They have been pushing hard and we have had three straight sessions of hard combat. I am going to send out one of the clerics to parlay — they are nearly out of options and troops at this point. He will stick to the truth as much as possible and let them know they are here to prevent the escape of a powerful evil (true — they are here to prevent the release of Stormbringer). They are going to lay a trap for the PCs as follows:
As you may remember, there are crypts in the dungeon. From the crypt area is a warren that the ghouls have dug out over the years. They are going to get the PCs to go back there and try to ambush them with the remainder of the ghouls. Their remaining forces are:
2 Clerics (4th level, I believe),
Gnoll leader — I am thinking one of the CLR will Death Knell him since he is almost dead anyway.
There is a shrine area back in the warren as well. In the module, the clerics do not know about it. I am unsure if I will change that fact here (there is an Unhallow effect back there — perhaps I will see how far it extends).
As the parlay is going on, they will seal up the pool (it will be like when you guys encountered it — a pool with a wench over it).
This battle will be the last stand — they hope they can win or hurt the PCs enough until help arrives.
The Cult’s Last Stand
Big battle at the last stand. The PCs bit on the trap, although they did seriously consider just offing the guy right there. Also, the paladin was at very low HP and in the back of the marching order (he opened the iron box that had the journal, failed the reflex save, and took about 17 hp of acid damage). Otherwise, I think he would have attacked on the spot. Most failed their spot checks and the remaining ghouls attack. In the end, the PCs were victorious, but Geynor did flee into the ghoul warren after the barbarian intimiated him. They now have the Journal of Geynor Ton.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. The MH is essentially empty (just Geynor, and the crazed cleric under the well). However, the party has been beaten up pretty bad and are about out of spells (so they have had 2 combats in about an hour or so of real time). Plus, I am enforcing replenishment of spells once per 24 hours rule. Also, 3 PCs need to roll for disease from the ghouls (this, they do not know, although one player saw me keeping track). The wagon with the grick is due the next day.
That is one nice thing about the 1/wk campaign — you can play out the little things like disease. I know in the Columbus Campaign (CC) I did let it slide a time or two to keep things moving.
I also need to get in my mind exactly how I want to run Stormbringer (see the posts entitled Foundation)
Ah, it is no wonder Players hate Monte Cook.
PCs heal up a bit and decide to track down Geynor Ton in the ghoul warrens. Even after hearing the screaming of the (now) insane cleric, they continue on and come upon a hidden alter. Geynor has pulled his eyes out due to a vision of the Dark God. He invites the PCs to see the vision of the Dark God, and recreates the ceremony whilst the PCs attack. He dies in the process, but completes the ceremony. The ceremony impacts 4 of the PCs — a Will DC 20 or something really bad happens. 1 has temp str damage (immobilizes the gnome), the sorcerer permanently loses one Wis, the barbarian loses temp Con. The druid technically lost 3 Wis permanently, but the player was not present at the session. I will have him reroll to see what happens. They gain the loot from Geynor. Also, they recover a small, magical sphere (Bead of Force )from the statue (is has Obex symbols over it). Giselle has it and is possessive of it due to her touch of insanity.
They rest up and the impacts of the disease (Ghoul Fever) hits. All three (Giselle, Kobella, and Krass) fail a save. The wounds fester….
They decide to head back to town.
The cultist wagon will be leaving town late in the early afternoon
Thoughts for next session:
The PCs and the Wagon (cultists) paths will cross about 5:00 in the afternoon, basically at the farmhouse that they fought the Ankheg. One thought is to have them pop in for dinner (the farmer will gladly feed them) and they may notice a wagon skirting around the farm in the distance.
Just a minor update. They did attack the wagon as it went to the MH. Old Master Dunrat used Hold Person on the Barbarian
- Bar fails will save. Next round, Dunrat goes for the Coup-de-Grace. Look at the character sheet -- dagger with no Str bonus…. auto critical = 4 hps of damage. The players rolls a nat 20 to avoid death (hell, he only needed 8 when not raging anyway…)
The Krass eventually breaks the Hold and crushes Dunrat. The other PCs mop up the rest of the wagon (the Grick was disappointing — has nice DR, but only 9 hps — a few MM took care of him).
They go back to town. They do talk with the dead assassin’s body and get some basically useless information (there are several layers between him and the Draga family). I did introduce the name Draegon as someone that may follow up on the issue.
The cult cannot complete its mission as written (no cleric available to cast the wall of stone). There are a few remindants left that could have some minor impact. Shifter will start is “fun” in the next session.
Oh, and I did emphasis some of the effects of the Ghoul Fever (craving for meat, then for raw meat, etc). The players had fun with that. Also, the Druid went with Insanity score. He seemed to be quite into it.
Return to Hommlet
Group sells of much loot and identifies magical items. Spugnoir identifies potions for 10gp apiece. Grandpa Methuzalar buys a few of the Cult specific items. The potter’s assistent does get Giselle out on a date (but the smashed pottery by Shifter ruins the second chance). Krass believes the Bead of Force held by Giselle is cursed. He drags her off to church of Helm for “cure”. He witnesses “himself” attacking Derim. Kobella and Faolin go to the woods to get a wolf companion for Kobella. At one point, Fin detects evil and discovers that Neirethri has a taint of evil on him.
All of Shifter’s work comes to pass. The party is arrested. A nice bit of heated roleplay ensues. Eventually, they pay for a Zone of Truth by a cleric of Lathlander and are cleared (but some in town will still be suspicious).
They hastily leave the next morning for the Moathouse. On the way, they are poisoned by the Arsenic. Most poeple make their saves, but Kobella is stricken hard by the poison (Con down to 4). They nuetralize the poison (after the fact) and cast some Lessor Restorations.
thoughts for next session
In think the group needs a “fun” fight. Start of with a fun random encounter, then on to the Moathouse. Need to work out the final details of Stormbringer. I really like how the group is getting pissed at Shifter. They also are getting nervous about Stormbringer. I think my reworking of the “Triad” of the original module is having the desired effect.
Olde Del’s Place
First was the battle with orcs and a Troll at Ol’ Del’s place. Fun for everyone — they got to see how powerful they have become. The Troll did get some good shots in — even a Rend on the Barbarian. Alas, the regeneration power does not help much with just one Troll to take all the damage. Paul, who runs Krass the Barbarian, has been watching me play Phoenix — he has started to use the power attack feat. Poor troll.
They went on to the MH. We ended the session with them on the platform about 30’ above the top of the obelisk.
A very tough session. About killed the sorcerer 3 times!
Note: I did rule that veins in the obelisk gives off a light glow, equivalent to (violet) torchlight. Nice and eerie.
I upgraded the Grell to be the second type in the Book of Madness — the one with 4 levels of Wizard (there are 6 PCs after all). Boy, this group does things different. A couple actually stepped onto the Obelisk and let the veins come over and touch them! (Fort DC 22 or 1d6 temp str damage)!
The Grell struck whilst the PCs were trying to rig a rope bridge between the two platforms. The Mirror Image spell really extended the life of the Grell. The best part was the barbarian jumped down between the platforms to get to the second one during the battle (they were only 10’ apart at this time). He had plenty of time to jump up (also 10’) and get into second platform. Just needed to roll a 3 or better to jump up and grab the platform
- rolled a 2. Failed the Fort save. Lost 4 str.
They finally kill the grell (sadly, no one paralyzed). I described to them that a vein from the Obelisk shot out and touched the dying grell…. Another soul for the O.
The group then starts to work their way down the Obelisk. In the meantime, Festrath is buffing up and summons a fiendish dire bat. The bat attacks. The druid tries to Hold Animal (of course, it is now a magical beast, not an animal). Does big damage to the sorcerer. Festrath drinks potion of Fly and cast’s hold person (fails). At some point sorceress goes negative, but Festrath does not have an angle to Death Knell her. She does get a potion of CMW to help her out. The barbarian is so weak that he cannot do damage to the Bat (5/magic from the fiendish template).
So, Festrath tires of this and charges up, cutting the rope! They are 50’up. Everybody is heavily damaged and sorceress is technically
10. Everybody whines, so I say she is at -9 (I am such a softie - although I did have thought of having Stormbringer raise her). The battle continues. They finally kill the Bat. I said, quote “the best thing is you do not even get experience for killing it since it was summoned!” The look on LeVon’s face (the player of the druid) was priceless.
The sorceress did have a Bead of Force (does 5d6 force damage, with a chance to trap everyone within a 10’ circle in Ot. Resilient Sphere). The bead has to hit something hard. So, she aims for Festrath (heavily armored), who is essentially overhead — miss. The grenade miss table indicates that it lands near the sorceress and the barbarian. Both fail the save and are trapped (sor is negative, but the Barbarian gave her a potion).
The group finishes Festrath. The Obelisk snags his soul, and the whole thing swirls and glows. A huge lightning bolt blasts one of the walls from the Obelisk. Out of the dust walks a figure — our man Stormbringer (I used the Lord Soth fig. — that spooked the players!). The players are not quite sure if it is Stormbringer or one of the others.
And that ended the session (a nice cliffhanger).
Talk with Stormbringer (get BW plot hook). Play with Grell portal (kill 2). Play with circle and Obelisk point. Get out, rest up at Old Dels, go back to town. Learn of BW Spire (they felt an earthquake on a prior delve into the MH — it erupted from the earth back near Everlund), and that an elf (Draegon) has passed through town looking for the elves.
They enlist Elmo and are looking to raid the Mill.
Big battle with Shifter. He used Improved Invisibility liberally and three separate personalities. First he battled as Wizard, then Rogue (sneak attacks with bow) and finally as Barbarian. Set precedent that treated Indentity as purely that type of creature. So, a Hold Person does work, and at that ID’s saving throw. Kobella killed in the combat, Fin taken to negative.
His basic tactics were:
Shifter will strike if the PCs ignore the taunt. Some basic tactics:
0: Use Clarivoyance to monitor the PCs while in the Mill.
1. Will use Improved Invisibility as both the Wizard and then as the Rogue. As Wizard, he will use Color Spray to deal with any of Burnes Badgers. He will Tasha’s Elmo (if there). He will use Fireball, Hold Person, and MMs on the PCs.
2. He will cast Bear’s Endurance, Blur, and Mage Armor (all minutes+/level) on himself (and re-up the Improved Invis) and attack as the rogue, using the +1 shortbow to get sneak attacks. Since he does not have multiple attacks, he will hit and move each time, staying within 30’
3. Towards the end, he will shift back to Mage, cast Mirror Image, then shift to Barbarian and rage (he will become visible, but have MI and Blur to help protect him). He will then try to finish off the PCs.
4. If he fails, he will use the extra speed to try and run to get out of sight. He will then shift to someone that they have not seen before (or to Elmo) in attempt to get away.
5. Be very careful with this encounter. He is a CR 12 critter, although the PCs are battling varying CR 7 creatures.
They get Kobella raised (sacrifice the loot, as Hommlet is not rich enough to buy/sell that level of stuff). Find out Marisdosen and Redethidoor have split town. Try to track down Red. He occassionally slept on the floor of Terrigan’s (seedy bar). Encounter Gister the Stonemason. He is drunk and uses his “secret” about a tunnel from his house to the big Keep to impress women. The women of the group use their wiles to get him to show the tunnel. It leads to a storeroom in the Keep (Note: Gister knocked unconscious by Kobella when things start to get out of hand.)
So, here I was just trying to roleplay and add a bit of flavor. And they jump all over it! May have to arrest them!
The next session is a light light one (only Jed, LeVon, and Cathy made it). They killed some diseased hobgoblins (grain that they got from the mill – one last FU from shifter). Went out towards the MH – Faolin nearly eaten by Ankheg. Some roleplay with Rufus and Burne.
From here on out, the players are just following through on any plot thread they can find. In reality, they could just move onto the next phase of the adventure. It is this thoroughness that makes this group interest (the CC was very focused, and did not tarry much).
The group is off to Nulb. They gather up Neritheri (a gnome who is looking for a guy named Scar up that way) and head off. A few minor encounters (I have time to roll random encounters, fun), but nothing serious. They camp about 3 hours out of Nulb. The next day, they head into town. It is always raining or sleeting here due to the many evils committed over the years. It is September in the mountains, and DMGenie tells me its cold – so we get sleet!
They can hardly see as they cross the bridge into town. I use the ToEE video game interpretation of the town — walkways and houses are up on stilts due to frequent flooding. The only things of interest in town are:
1) Waterside Hostel (haunted by Wat and Dala from the original module)
2) Lareth (Scar), in the herb shop
3) A half-sunken pirate boat with 2 wraiths and an ochre jelly
4) Random nasties (in the tradition of EGG)
5) Xaod and Xan, holed up in an abandoned house after loosing their brother to the hobgoblins and Utreshimon up at the Temple (this is my material)
Monday night was all in (1), the waterside hostel. A good battle – Dala is an Allip. She was driven mad when Wat turned her lover over to the Temple many years ago. Wat is a ghost and he still taunts her. Wat appears as a bartender (assassin Disguise spell) and the party eventually goes upstairs because they hear something (Dala wailing/screaming/giggling/etc). The party attacks. She uses her Babble ability and fascinates all but one PC (Faolin the druid). She tells them to kill Wat, the killer of her lover. So the rest of the party rushes downstairs and finds Neritheri dead (slain by Wat). Meanwhile, Wat drifted up and helps attacks the remaining PC on Dala (“I’m here to kill another one of your lovers, Dala!”). Unfortunately, my death attack misses — assassins suck when I run them for some reason. The party hears this and comes back upstairs to attack Wat. Dala does a notable amount of Wisdom Drain to the druid (Faolin). Eventually, the party wins. Wat will reform in 4 days unless the hostel is burned to the ground.
The party searches Neritheri and discover his journal. It does hypothesis that Scar is Lareth.
That is where we left things.
Finbiddle Pal6 Gnm
Krass Bar5/Ftr1 Hum
Kobella Rng4/Rog2 Hum
Giselle Sor6 Hum
Faolin Drd6 Hum
Hindra Clr6 Elf
The party continues to explore Nulb. They leave the Hostel and wander around a bit, with Fin’s Detect Evil on. He picks up a ping or two of evil in the nearby gloom (recall the sleet storm). After triangulating a bit, they come to a building that used to be the blacksmith’s home (forge is in a separate outbuilding). Inside are 4 Varguilles (a random encounter). Their shriek does paralyze one PC with fear, but Hindra has Remove Fear memorized and saves her before the nasties can swoop down and kiss. Otherwise, a quick victory for the PCs.
In the gloom, they come upon the old Herb shop and see a light inside. Fin also detects evil, and strong at that. The PCs buff. The door is locked and in decent repair. They take 20 to open the lock, giving the enemy time to buff as well. They open the door in to find Lareth (claiming only the name Scar) lounging in a chair. They talk for a few minutes. Fin wants to charge, but Lareth keeps toying with him (“you would attack an unarmed man?”). However, Krass is impatient and wants to get the first hit in. He steps up to attack. Lareth wins Init and casts Tharizdun’s Touch, which Dazes him for 7 rounds. The PCs attack but do poorly. Lareth cases Poison and succeeds to hit (and failed save) on Kobella. She loses 8 Con! Lareth then demands the PCs back off or he will finish her off. After some parley (which really hurts the Paladin), he releases Kobella. They PCs are able to stave off the second wave of poison one minute later (which would have killed her — I rolled it just to see).
Funny thing happened. Some of the group started chatting with Lareth. The bargained to have Lareth cast Restoration the next day to remove the Wisdom drain on Faolin from the Allip. They have to give up the jeweled earrings they found in Dala/Allip’s room (one was payment, the other was needed for the material component). The PCs stay at the brothel until the next day. I seriously toyed with having Lareth cast Curse instead (lets drop his Wisdom 6 more, and no save since he was accepting the spell willingly). But, I decided not to since there are 6 PCs and they were putting some hits on him the day before.
More exploration: They come to the docks and detect evil. Inside a grounded boat were two wraiths and an ochre jelly. The jelly was useless (got split up, but really could not hit). The wraiths pounced on Fin and nearly killed him (Con drain). He kept rolling 2s and 3s on the Fort save to avoid the drain. On the last hit, he had 5 Con left. I rolled the d6 for the drain — “you better make your save” — he did.
After finishing off the creatures, they were hesitant to search the partially submerged area given all the nasties they had encountered. However, the Barbarian had a very high str going due to Rage and being Enlarged. I ruled that the group could pull this fairly large boat up further onto shore. They found the pirate’s stash.
The session ended with them noticing a light nearby. No evil was detected, so they investigated. It was two members of the Terrible Trio of Torm (Xoad and his wiz brother Xan). We end here with the PCs seriously considering going back to Hommlet to recover (strange that Fin would not go to Lareth for a Restorationâ€¦.).
Player observation: “Nulb makes the Moathouse seem all warm and fuzzy!”
Nulb is a nasty little place. It is not critical to the plot as you well found out. However, these players do love to poke around and see what is going on. They generally do not leave a stone unturned (from a player perspective, this is an advantage of playing every week – you feel like you can root around more).
Temple of Elemental Evil
Finbiddle Pal6 Gnm
Krass Bar5/Ftr1 Hum
Kobella Rng4/Rog2 Hum
Giselle Sor6 Hum
Faolin Drd6 Hum
Hindra Clr6 Elf
The party talks with Xaod and Xan. The Terrible Trio of Torm (TTT) assaulted the ToEE. They were mowing down hobgoblins until a blue dragon attacked, turning the tide of the battle. Nathan (I believe his name was) was critically injured and swarmed under by HG. With great reluctance, X and X withdrew from the fight (but they were still strong enough to deter heavy pursuit). They patched themselves up as best as possible (Nathan was the Clr). They were just gearing up to take another crack at the ToEE when the party found them.
The PCs had a tough decision — the gnome paladin had 5 Con due to the wraith’s drain ability (they wanted to go back to Hommlet). They decide to attack with the TTT (Truncated Twosome of Torm) in hopes of helping to retrieve the 3rd brother. Bear’s Endurance would have to keep Finbiddle at a reasonable Con.
On the way, they did encounter a squad of HG (random encounter). Basically a recon group looking for the TTT. Kobella Entangled the defensive position the HG had (an overgrown rocky outcrop). Most were able to avoid the entangle and split out the back of the outcrop. They took a few potshots and headed for denser woods. Giselle summons a hippogriff to finish off a few stragglers. The encounter served its purpose — burned a spell or two.
The Temple of Elemental Evil
Well, TTT’s plan was to storm the main gatehouse (the gates are long gone) just like they did late time. The only difference in plan was for Xan to save his spells for the dragon. A long, drawn-out battle ensues. There are 6 HG entrenched in the main gate area. There is a stronghold outbuilding outside the walls that I ruled had a few arrow slits facing back to the gate — so 4 archers fired away from there. Finally, 4 HG came out from the temple itself. The temple is now on full alert. The HG inflicted little damage but did suck up an occasional spell or two. I was surprised how long they lasted (about 6 rounds). It was 14 HG (War 1) versus 6 6th level PCs and Xaod. The HG only had 9 hps each. The party was smart to use some ranged weapons (some HG had longspears, some had tangle foot bags, some alchemist fire). They probably could have ended the fight earlier by being willing to take on a little big of damage.
That is where the session ended. Next up is to enter the main temple itself. It is a huge open area — prime for Utreshimon’s maneuverability.
Faolin has started to use his wildshape (wolf) more. I had to deal with more animals in this campaign. Giselle has Invisibility as her 2nd level spell and Summon Monster III has her third — she can just stay invisible and pop in more allies each round. We also did an interesting variant (an idea from the DMG II) – lets say you want to cast Invisibility this round and SMIII next round (note SMIII takes a full round to cast). So, cast invisibility and use your move action to start the SMIII. Next round, your standard action finishes the SMIII spell (monster pops in) and you still have your move action left. An interesting feel.
Finbiddle Pal6 Gnm
Krass Bar5/Ftr1 Hum
Kobella Rng4/Rog2 Hum
Giselle Sor6 Hum
Faolin Drd6 Hum
Hindra Clr6 Elf
Enter the ToEE. There are two significant changes from the module. First, Utreshimon is the leader of the Hobgoblins (idea from the Best of the Boards). The original module has them as independent entities. I tied them even closer buy building on the Silver Marches material. At some point, there was a battle in the area between a monastery of evil female monks and the family of blue dragons in the region. I just set the temple to be there and ensured the Blues won. The hobgoblins are part of the Red Flayer tribe, which supports the blue dragons. This simply became territory of the blues and Big U now has his first territory. I am tinkering with having the female monks be the Silent Hand (I think that is the name) in the Banewarrens module. The would be exiles from the Temple and are trying to get reestablished again in Everlund.
The second big change came from a comment made by Megan, the player of Kobella. Her PC’s history is that her grandparents were the ones that destroyed the temple the last time around (Megan did play through the module as a child). She was surprised the place was still standing. As I thought about it, it did not make sense the main open area would be untouched if all the lower levels had collapsed. So, I had the inside be a wasteland of destruction. Over the years, various inhabitants cut trenches throughout the place to get around (it is extremely difficult and dangerous to walk on the rubble). This allowed me to use the cavern DarvenForge set. So, they are in narrow areas with some clearings, but the area is very open as it is like being in a big hanger (so the dragon can fly around).
So, the group with Xaod and Xan enter into the temple. The get through two trapped areas (one does damage, the other they find the trap). Then a big battle comes into play. I wanted to emphasize the organized military nature of the HG, so they had protected areas to fire arrows and such. I added a hill giant to lob rocks (but he does not like getting into melee, so I adjusted his feats to reflect such). The dire ape and a handler would attack from the rear. The dragon would attack wherever. The leader and a few tougher HG would attack from the front.
Overall, the HG plan worked pretty well. Killed Xan, took Faolin and Kobella (and her wolf) to negative, and really tore into Krass. The party summoned many hippogriff and kept the dragon pinned down into melee. Eventually, they killed the dragon (even though he offered to parlay) and the HG surrendered (except for the Adept (who was invisible) and the hill giant, plus an archer or two).
Long term results:
1) Big U’s family will not be pleased. I am thinking a 1/2 blue dragon assassin will be visiting the party. Eventually, they will have to deal with a powerful Blue or two by the end of the campaign.
2) There is a HG ranger strike team on the prowl. There could be a counter attack by the Adept at some point.
3) The fall of Xaod. I was intrigued by the fall of Anakin in Star Wars, but was not satisfied with the feel. I want to try it myself with Xaod. He is on his first steps — he is distraught with grief over the loss of his brothers (very expensive to raise — basically 11,000gp to get them back, plus there is tension between the church of Helm and Torm). He turned on the captured hobgoblins to cut them down, but the party stops him.
From here, he will:
A) Become a drunk
B) Openly berate the church of Helm
C) Lose his paladinhood
D) Meet up with Thrommel, who will woo him to the darkness and turn him into a blackguard vampire.
That basically wraps up this phase in the campaign. The PCs are teetering on 7th level. So, I can really be rough with them in the Banewarrens.