Author: sarahk

Heroes of Luna Valley: Part 3

Session 5 had our heroes headed out of Fort Frostfell, leaving the wight undisturbed and the place unsearched. And the first thing our druid says as they walk out? “I look for basilisk tracks.”

*sigh*

Okay. Well. The monk left the suits of animated armor, which was pretty unexpected, and she really wants that basilisk . . . so there they go.

On the way home, they’re intercepted by Bazig, whom Chillwyrn had fetched at their request. Bazig, it turns out, is not a traitor from Tomar’s Crossing but a bandit leader . . . half . . . ogre? Putting aside heredity questions, the party quickly ascertained that Bazig was ready to deal. Especially once they impressed him by volunteering that a) they’d pretty much emptied the fort and b) they did not loot Chillwyrm’s lair.

He offered to take them where they were headed and get them in, if they’d help him take over the Black Skull Bandits. Once he was in charge, they could take the prisoners and go, and he’d get his group well away from Ralakai’s conspiracy.

That sounded good to all of them and they choose not to stop at Tomar’s Crossing, but send the rescued prisoners and supplies, along with both wagons and their horses home.

Bazig dispensed with his bandit accompaniment (who were loyal to his boss) and they found tracks indicating that the basilisk had found some humans to hunt. Going that way they ran straight into a cult meeting.

Long story short, after stopping the basilisk from eating even more cultists than it had (Bazig and Aang bonded over a bet about how many it would get before it was stopped), the druid convinced the cultists that they needed to find some things from a ‘holy list’ before offering any more sacrifices. They freed 2 people, one of whom was the Villagemaster’s niece Alleria, and continued their journey with a new entourage.

There was some contention over whether these people (who had murdered their families before beginning their journey in search of more sacrifices) were mad, driven mad by their clay tablets, or just plain evil.

Bazig got them inside Gardong Marhold as new recruits (they left the cultists outside for a bit) and sent them to see his boss. Here, I made a second mistake. Instead of having Therrath Shortcloak give them the job of cleaning up the upstairs to prove themselves, I had her ask them to kill Bazig. They asked for time and left to discuss the situation, and I think, because they wanted Bazig’s help. He was firm about having his hands full with the rest of the bandits so they went back in there to face Therrath on their own, after being sure she was alone.

Therrath was a handful, with a parry reaction that lifted her AC and 3 attacks and per turn. She took the druid down to 1 HP with her first attack and the druid morphed into an owl and took flight. (Things would have been different had a realized that 2nd level druids couldn’t morph into creatures with a fly speed . . . but I didn’t).

Therrath went after another target, but before she could hurt them too bad, the Druid in (illegal) Giant Owl form picked her up and dropped her again. I gave her saves, which she failed, so the falling damage took her down far enough that she offered to surrender for her life. The cleric lept all over that and they found out where Ralakai is holed up. Bazig came in and immediately tried to kill their captive but Ren was determined that he wouldn’t. Bazig, ever out for the best deal, (and the GM, ever out to go back to the story she’s abandoned) told them they could have Therrath’s life if they cleaned up the upstairs.

Rin agreed. Keziah refused. And there, on the brink of a split party, we adjourned.

Session 6 had the cleric’s character back down so that there was no split party . . . after I’d prepped for a split party . . . They gave Therrath to Bazig to kill after all. I fretted about how to feed them the info that upstairs was supposed to give them, the treasure that I’d hunted down stats and pictures for, and the cool encounteres.

While I was fretting, I ran part of what I’d planned for Keziah– they woke up to a murdered cultist and a comatose cultist (the one that had been caught in the comet dust storm and had been having bad dreams since). They fed the basilisk and had a discussion that enabled me to use Bazig to tell them some history about the cult they were dealing with, then took the prisoners they’d rescued, the rest of the cultists and headed back to Tomar’s Crossing. No looting, and Bazig didn’t offer to share . . .

The druid encounter I’d planned for Keziah seemed less fun with all three involved so mysteriously murdered a couple more cultists and Keziah became certain that the coma-guy was doing it. They made it back to town in time to see Ren’s mother being bullied aby a couple of refugee priests. They stepped in with diplomacy and saved the day.

They put the cultists in the Temple and took the rescued prisoners to the refugee camp where Keziah noticed a fight between a large commoner and a small noble. She discreetly interfered, tripping the noble while no one saw, so that he lost the fight but she made no enemies. She found out that the nobles from Safeharbor were throwing their weight around and filling out their servant ranks.

She brought back someone who could read the cultists’ clay tablets in the sanctuary of the Temple, but he told them it was a bunch of gibberish– albeit violent gibberish. In the meantime, Rin’s mother found a history book that shed more light on the ancient danger the cult represented.

Aang went and caught up with Jorney and Someth and collected the funds the Villagemaster owed them. He heard of a refugee noble who’d been making some noise– Cadicca LeBlorne.

The next morning, Brinner asked Keziah to be her new apprentice, since her old one disappeared. Keziah immediately decided there was cult activity in town.

Kadra Tormaline showed up to gift Rin with a jewel of brightness and news. She also tried to hide the fact that something has her very worried. Her friend didn’t pry, however.

As the group came back together Paumine Sandalwood approached with a request that they bring back some zombie rats for her on their next foray. Keziah pitched some social reforms to her and an alliance seems to be in place.

After this session, Keziah’s player noted that there was just too much for her to keep up with. She’s a new mother and I deem that concessions should be made . . . so I created a wiki of sorts that they can add to.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Lmfjv8OmuvTR8nvG9R1zPMIP6BTbra54ieCBF8sJNuk/edit?usp=sharing

I decided that if they didn’t want to engage with certain parts of the narrative, I wasn’t going to bang my head up against the wall trying to be sure that they didn’t miss anything. I did my best to fill in informational gaps and I’m going to let the encounters and treasures of Gardong Marhold stay untouched (unless I give the treasure to Bazig)

I was also confused about leveling. They should level at the end of Gardong Marhold . . . even if they missed half of it? Is the level for surviving long enough to leave? Not sure. I’ll let them level after next session and call it a day.

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Heroes of Luna Valley: Part 2

Well . . . session 2 consisted of 2 hours of technical issues and 1 hour of meeting a wyrmling called Chillwyrm. Chillwyrm insisted on treasure or meat and our cleric gave him her silver holy symbol and a potion of cure light wounds while the druid tried to convince him that humans weren’t meat. And her horses weren’t meat.

They tried to glean as much information as they could from the single (dual?) minded creature and ended up sending him to talk to Bazig, his not-quite-friend. Chillwyrm took off in the direction of Tomar’s Crossing and the party briefly considered going back there to find the traitor, Bazig, but realized that the prisoners needed rescue.

They made their way up to Fort Frostfell, the two women in one wagon, the second left behind. The dwarf hid up under the carriage. The harmless looking women convinced the goblin guard to let them in and take them to their hobgoblin leader.

They found Dourkeg munching on a human leg to a lovely chorus of ‘ew, gross’ and his fate was fairly sealed.

Session 3 had Dourkeg pulling the women off the wagon to imprison them and a brief and discreet fight ensued in the room that ended with one hobgoblin, Seeg, still alive and making a bid for leadership of the rest of the goblins with temporary cooperation. There were prisoners in this room, one of which (the owner of the previously mentioned leg) needed medical attention. They were freed. Some attention was given to the map on the wall of this room.

The prisoners notified their heroes that there were more prisoners to be rescued and Seeg led the party there and stopped the goblins from interfering. He promptly snuck off with all of the goblins when the party got distracted.

The druid spent some time talking to the ice basilisk through the door and got a grudging promise of cooperation for setting it free.

With prisoners and (my mistake:) handwaved supplies aboard wagons, the party prepared to leave with their monster.

Aang the monk heard something and when he went to investigate, found the lower level of the fort. Like the intelligent people they are, the party decided not delve into this scary place . . . especially as I’d already accidentally given them the supplies that should have tempted them.

As they left the fort, the warrior woman they had heard but not found, and the Gnome wizard and the wight commander whom she had alerted, appeared. The wizard knocked a few of the prisoners out, betting that the party wouldn’t abandon them. Things went mostly downhill from there.

The woman, Harlyot, wanted the group to leave the prisoners but take the goods. Aang was agreeable and without his support, the ladies couldn’t hold their own against the wight and the warrior. The only good thing to come of it before the women were rendered unconscious was that the basilisk ate the wizard– before it ran away so as not to become an uber-powerful animal companion.

When the women woke up to their temporary prison Keziah made her displeasure with the monk obvious. They then got a chance to chat with Poitr, a prisoner that they had not known about. The ancient Halfling told them that he was kept here for researching the books in the library– a prisoner, but safe from the experiments Ralakai was running.

Session 4 opened as Harlyot gave the group the rest of the story in a bid to gain their cooperation– how Ralakai’s actions for the greater good and how what he was searching for, a cure to a mysterious plague that had 5 times destroyed the valley’s civilization would infect the world unless he succeeded.

The cleric wasn’t sold on Ralakai’s message so Harlyot left disappointed. Poitr, catching the drift of the party’s feelings let Fariae the Wise know that she might have a chance with them. The ghostly Druid explained that Ralakai was well-intentioned as necromancers go, but quite mad, barking up the wrong tree and close to making the situation go from bad to impossible.

Keziah was ready to throw in with the Druid on sight, but Ren wasn’t sure of their undead councilor. Feriae told them how to leave the room via a secret door and they talked Poitr into coming with them. Aang and Ren wanted to leave, but Keziah insisted on freeing Feriae, which entailed meeting two dangerous Dwarven animated suits of armor (but they have a Dwarf! who now has two dangerous Dwarven animated suits of armor to play with), working through a prison with 3 plague zombies and encountering Harlyot. With the suit of armor between her and the party it wasn’t too hard for them to pick her off at range. Keziah ensured that she would never return to bother them.

While Keziah struggled to free Feriae the other two followed the Druid to find the way out. They know where the wight is and Feriae offered to keep him occupied while they leave. There are a hoard of zombie rats and a few skeletons between them and safety and no one has really bothered to search this place– other than grabbing some Druidic tome from the library. There’s a question about whether or not Feriae is to be trusted in two of three minds. They aren’t safe yet!

One more session should see them out and headed back to Tomar’s Crossing.

In the meantime, they have a list of required items for a ritual to kill Xancrown, the source of the plague Ralakai seeks to cure.

 

Lemons and Lemonade; or Heroes of Luna Valley, Session 1

So. Matthew changed jobs. It’s mostly a good thing, but a new job comes with new schedule. New schedule means that on some Monday nights, he can’t run our Kingmaker game. The silver lining is that we know which Monday nights they are, and can plan accordingly. Instead of giving up the time we already carved out, I offered to run a short D&D campaign for the others. The offer was well received so here we are.

I’m using 5th Edition rules because I prefer 5th’s emphasis on role play and story. I’m looking forward to the new edition of Pathfinder because it seems Paizo has followed WOTC in an effort to streamline the system and that works well for me.

Since very early in my roleplay efforts, I’ve been a subscriber to Johann Four’s Roleplaying Tips.

When Johann and James Introcaso ran a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year for an adventure described as, “a clever mix of classic D&D adventure, sandbox, and hexcrawl in a post-apocalyptic setting you can easily drop into your world”, I backed it.

When I read it, it wasn’t something I wanted to drop into a world, but it seemed a solid story. There’s a little monster-slaying heroism, a little mystery and exploration and a little political drama all wrapped up in a fast moving storyline in a detailed (yet generic) setting with some great NPCs. So, I thought, I could run this and it would be quick, with minimal commitment and a good time will be had– you know that rosy image that you get pre-campaign . . .

Since Kingmaker posts will be slowing up as our Kingmaker game responds to real-world demands on time and energy, these posts will help hold the fort.

I have 3 players, all of which are in our Kingmaker game.

Kezia Yaska (aka Noruas) is a human druid. This is a character from a failed campaign, resurrected and reinserted here. Female.

Aang (aka Eneko, sort of . . .) is a Dwarven Monk. Male.

Rin Lightwind (aka Elysia) is a human cleric of Sune. Female.

I sort of randomly grabbed the Forgotten Realms pantheon without any real logic to the choice. I needed a Life and Light diety.

I wrote a little invitation/pitch for the campaign:

At the top of the world, on the Sardoon Sea, nestled between the Cold Peak and the Vinecrest Mountains, sits Luna Valley. The Valley is a northern frontier like any other, home to a few hundred inhabitants scattered in and near a dozen settlements or so.

At least . . . it was. A month ago a comet struck the valley, and the resulting energies
quickly began melting the Ice Tongue Glacier, turning the icy valley into a hideous mudpit.
The ecology was disrupted as temperatures rose past what the arctic wildlife could tolerate. Herbivores that couldn’t outrun the heat, died. This left the carnivores starving and dangerous.
To add to the problem any settlement built on top of the glacier collapsed in upon itself in the melt, resulting in pandemic homelessness and famine. Even at the coast, the sea level rose so quickly that the Valley’s port, the ironically named Safeharbor, flooded and became uninhabitable.
The only safe place in the Valley is Tomar’s Crossing– a village that had the remarkable foresight to be built on a low mountain that peeked up past the glacier line.
Every survivor of the comet is now at, on their way to, Tomar’s Crossing. A town that comfortably housed fewer than 500 people now finds itself the center of hope and life for 10 times that many– and this after its low-lying farms were utterly destroyed.
The town council has its hands full of traumatized refugees– and this in an election year.
The situation is dire. Can a handful of courageous creatures stem the tide of devastation before anything worse happens?
Day 1:
Our story really started last night when Rin Lightwind and her mother Isperil visited the latest refugee camp. Isperil runs the only place of worship in town, the Temple of Long Life. They’d gone to offer healing to the latest batch of refugees.
Rin overheard her mother and Councilwoman Kadra Tourmaline talking about news these refugees had brought, of brigands stealing supplies and taking captives. Isperil and Kadra spoke of how they might find someone to go liberate the people and the goods on behalf of the town. And Rin decided to take matters into her own hands. Seeing the dwarf from her window, Rin sought him out.
Aang intensely dislikes the crowds closing in on his formerly quiet home. He was born in Tomar’s Crossing and his equipment choices led us to decide that he makes his living chasing down and preparing rare herbs from the wilds for the brewery and doing a bit of specialty woodcarving on the side for the town carpenter.
We found him delivering a couple of barrels of ale from Brinner’s Brewery to Jorney’s Tavern. He found Jorney bewailing the fact that the town had finished the last of their food reserves, angry at anyone giving handouts to refugees when the citizens of the town were about to starve and deciding to run for Council. Aang helpfully suggested that Jorney hire hunters to supplement food and Jorney immediately wrote out a sign to that effect and posted it in his tavern.

 

Kezia is a refugee. She was part of a nomadic clan that was completely wiped out by the devastation. She came to Tomar’s crossing with her wagon and horses, found a place to house herself and her belongings at the only place in town with a large enough barn– the brewery– and set out looking for employment, lighting on Jorney’s Tavern.

Jorney doesn’t care for the refugees, but Kezia is a beautiful young woman and was looking for a job, not a handout. He’s also just a guy in a bad situation, not a bad guy. He was immediately smitten with her and agreed to let her work at the tavern singing for tips and to feed her while she was there.

The impulsive Kezia overheard Rin’s suggestion to Aang and immediately decided to help!

Meanwhile, the tavern was visited by two others: Sommeth Skullcleaver– the carpenter Aang works with. Sommeth came in and when he discovered that Aang and company were going out, offered to outfit them with whatever they needed. He couldn’t go with them, of course . . . he has a baby daughter and he’s widower and can’t bear the thought of someone else raising his darling girl. Oh, and did he mention that he may have a friend among the people taken prisoner by the bandits?

He, father that he is, reminded Rin to speak to her mother before leaving and bowed from the waist like a soldier upon being introduced to Kezia.

Also, Bjalien Viadis came in with a posting, which he carelessly put over Jorney’s own. He was looking for someone to go get the supplies. And the people. Mostly the supplies. And his niece. And the supplies. He’ll pay people to go get the supplies. And a greenskin head would be nice to have as well.

The company didn’t care for bringing heads back, for some reason.

Aang insisted that Rin tell her mother first.

They went to the Temple and Isperil made her appearance, old and limping. She can’t go on this quest! But when Rin pointed out that she could help with healing and such, Isperil agreed to let her go, hugged her warmly and told her she was proud of her. She then made a gift of 3 cure potions to the party and asked Aang to take care of her daughter.

That done, the party stopped at Sommeth’s and was outfitted with a wagon, his own large horse and weapons and armor. There they saw that Sommeth was providing firewood to the refugees.

The checked in with Huberg Greyborn for some information and were told that the goblins were organized, had bombs and a dragon. Huberg was curt but gentlemanly and took Kezia’s suggestion that he and his soldiers offer protection for the other refugees in return for food and such.

The party is trying to find employment for all, which is awesome.

They stopped at Brinner’s to get Kezia’s wagon and horses and were off.

They encountered a musk ox graveyard, some plants in the night that grew abnormally fast and tried to suck their blood, a mudslide that didn’t hurt anyone.

Day 2:

Then, following the sound of screaming, they encountered a severed head. The head had been uncovered by the melt and was speaking a language they didn’t know. It seemed that it used to be human and it did eye them as they approached.

Rin put it out of its misery with a spell and then Kezia, hearing the horses in distress, ran back to camp to catch sight of a white dragon there.

 

 

 

 

Players Don’t Read:

 

 

 

 

As written, the PC’s are supposed to get 9 quests right off the bat. I left out 2 intentionally, planning on bringing them in later and forgot 1. It’s nothing I can’t bring in later, thank goodness!

All in all, I was pleased with all of the NPC’s but I think I may have overplayed Jorney’s infatuation with Kezia a bit. No permanent harm done, I hope. The majority of what he had to offer was pretty solid.

I loved that Aang came up with an idea that was actually a quest in the adventure. He didn’t offer to take Jorney up on the job, but the job is out there.

I really can’t recall the reason I gave to the players that Sommeth came in. He’s a quest-giver, of course . . . but he’s a half-orc carpenter and a cool guy who will probably run for council and I wanted him to be sympathetic. So, I shamelessly played the ‘can’t leave my baby’ card. It worked quite well.

No one asked what Sommeth was doing with all of those weapons but I did let them know that he was the kind of man who went hungry for his daughter and shared what food he had with his horse. He was well-liked.

Isperil and Kadra also had quests but I took care of that off camera and gave the first one to Rin, which lead her to Aang. Since Isperil is Rin’s mother I’ve no concerns about getting sympathy for her, as needed.

Bjalin got a bit of interest as well. Jorney doesn’t care for him, and I told Kezia that he looked at her like a spreadsheet. This was enough to make him an object of curiosity, which is pretty perfect.

No combat yet, so it was a bit slow . . . but I think we left it at a good place. Next up, saving the horses. And the people!

I’m watching James Introcaso run this on YouTube as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqT4mYjzWt0&t=1s

Where Good Intentions Dissolve into a Puddle of Panic

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Here. With Star Vampires. That took days to get . . . sort of mostly kind of okay. From this point, I stopped keeping track of colors, stopped shooting in progress work, and just tried to get done.

This project took . . . so . . . long.

And here’s the done deal.

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Just the monsters:

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Just the heroes:

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Lloigor . . . my nemesis:

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And another shot of the star vampires:

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