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Wrath of the Righteous Chapter One, The Worldwound Incursion – Third Session

Ruined Kenabres

Ruined Kenabres

Third Session (17 page pdf) – It’s all Mogadishu style combat in the streets of Kenabres as we try to get back to base. We fight cultists and cavaliers and carrion-eaters and cosplayers.

We kick off with a more in-character discussion of the captive Uziel’s fate.  In the wake of last session, Chris and I spoke and agreed to try to push the group to do better on discussing that stuff really in character and not meta, so we spurred that to set the tone a little.

And finally we emerge into a totally destroyed Kenabres. Not just mostly messed up, like “there are small pockets of survivors, occasionally.” We meet up with refugees and cultists alike.

One of the more stand-out encounters was with a cavalier who was getting set to immolate a bunch of librarians, I guess to show he was all about switching to the winning side now that his insect overlords were in charge. Our train of prisoners and wounded now way outstrips our actual party.

But then in one of those low-level shockers, Calathe gets murdered!  Some junk cultists with scythes that we see way ahead of time and set an ambush for nearly do me in and definitely do her in; a crit at that level is a coffin-nail pounder. Then Tim takes over Horgus Gwerm, who is also summarily murdered by the same group of cultists! Tim plays a librarian for the rest of the session; we discuss how that perhaps “looters” are welcome to it since everyone’s dead really.

OK, so, crap, we are down to like 4 real PCs (Matt didn’t come today), a librarian, two corpses, two cripples, and six captives. We go from place to place trying to find friendlies and fail. We get to Anevia’s house and some invisible caster orc guy attacks. We kill him readily but then get confused; his picture showed all this armor and a big three-horned helmet and a ranseur but then his stats are that he is a sorcerer and has no armor. We decided that he was a cosplayer and that the armor was plaster and fake, just done so the other orcs wouldn’t pick on him for being a big pussy or something.

Finally we meet some surviving defenders including Anevia’s wife, Irabeth the orcish paladin. The GM explains that they’re chicks, and married, and one’s a LG paladin, etc.  Then like somewhat later, Chris says something like “Hey guys… I think she may be a lesbian,” in the tone of “I am just realizing this.” This causes some bafflement and hilarity; he’s tried to explain what he meant several times but we block it out because it’s more entertaining to mentally picture seeing two women talk about being married and having a bystander say “Wait a minute… I think that one lady is a lesbian.” I’m sure he’ll chime in here to defend his honor but my fingers are already in my ears.

They arrange to raise Calanthe from the dead as long as we go hit three cultist hard points; since that’s what we were planning to do anyway that’s fine. I also got lippy with Irabeth, the GM kinda kept rolling on us with “well you’re not actual official Crusaders, just trainees, maybe you can’t decide to execute evil prisoners…” She started to hem and haw about swearing us in as Crusaders and that maybe some grand poobah needed to do it and I told her in no uncertain terms that we’d already killed more cultists than most Crusaders, and that we were six of the something like nine total non-crippled paladin types in the Goddamned county overrun with demons.  She relented, and now we’re Crusaders!

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter One, The Worldwound Incursion – Second Session

Hosilla

Hosilla

Second Session (13 page pdf) – We go kill naughty cultist mongrelmen and their cultist leader “Hozilla.” No, seriously. “Hozilla.”

One set of “good” mongrelmen tells us we should go genocide some “bad” mongrelmen.  So of course we do.  And then we conduct enhanced interrogations, “Lawful Good style.”

We end up having a bunch of debates about what the right Good response is to a lot of this; our characters worship a variety of gods (Iomedae, Shelyn, Irori, some pagan god) and so there’s an interesting plurality of opinions there. I hate to gripe, but the GM kinda decided anytime we started talking about that he should butt in and tell us what the “right” response is. This totally jammed up any meaningful roleplay around the topic. Matt would basically say “yeah yeah what the GM said” and those of us with different opinions would just hunker down and cast sidelong glances at each other.

That got me in a bit of a bad mood, and then when we had a fight with some mongrelmen and I was told that it was impossible for my monk to jump a 4′ barricade – not “here’s a high Jump DC,” just “you can’t do it,” I pretty much checked out of the rest of the session and just did damage when told to. Normally I would have been jazzed about getting the death blow in on someone named Hozilla but eh.

Then we find a super artifact sword and give it to Shawanda, which is cool.  Her player, Patrick, is somewhat retiring a lot of the time so I like it when he gets an uber plot gizmo or whatever because it gives him more spotlight.

We also took a prisoner, Uziel, after some debate. There’s an unsubtly high premium on redeeming bad folks in this AP so we may as well get started I guess.

So, not the end of the world, just an off session.  It does raise my antennae though about too much railroading in the AP – not just in terms of “now here is your next scene,” but in the “here’s what you are supposed to do in this scene, and think, and feel.” I had some bad-touch experiences with that earlier in my gaming life and I’m touchy about it. (Yeah you, White Wolf staffer.)  There was a little of that with the NPCs in Jade Regent – “these NPCs have the magic hook on them, so you can be friends with them, but not these other people you meet, regardless of whether you find them more interesting.” I’m starting to get the sense of that in the “redeem the enemies” follies as well, and that will be disappointing.

 

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Third Session

Third Session (13 page pdf) – “Murder Avenged” – Tracking down their crewmate’s killers lead the command crew into an assassins’ trap! But killing is where they’re Vikings.

The murder of Little Mike throws our command staff into full-on police procedural mode as they investigate hard.  Speak with dead, interrogating witnesses, tracking his last steps. And they fall into the trap of three assassins – a trio of Calistrian slayers known as Yellowjackets. Given all the Calistria lore I thought a divine order of assassins called “Yellowjackets” that get dispatched in threes were super apropos.  I managed to find three good Calistrian type images, and basically statted them up off the images!

Ms. Whip

Ms. Whip

Ms. Kukri

Ms. Kukri

Ms. Pants

Ms. Pants

Wogan has to use one of his Infamy Points (we represent them by actual replica gold coins I give to the players) to avoid instant death from Ms. Kukri’s death attack. (These are the names the PCs gave them during the combat). It was a knock-down-drag-out fight but they finally killed one and captured the others.

As a special bonus – here’s a character sheet with the writeups of all three assassins! I took some NPC guide pregens and other stuff and doctored them up.  They have Rage from Lover’s Vengeance and Magic Vestment on themselves (it doesn’t really show that on the sheet).

They actually trade the two living ones back to the Calistrians via their friendly gendarme contact to try to cool the conflict down.  Will it work? Wait and see!

 

Wrath of the Righteous Chapter One, The Worldwound Incursion – First Session

Kenabres

Kenabres

First Session (17 page pdf) – It’s time for a festival in the town of Kenabres when there’s a minor goblin attack.  Oh wait, wrong Adventure Path, instead giant demons blow up the city and toss us into a hole to die.

We are starting with a full roster of characters this AP!  Six players, and they’re playing:

  • Antonius (An Tung), a Tien who grew up Chelish. His monk/paladin journey along the path of Irori has led him to the Worldwound. (Ernest)
  • Tabregon, a lame half-elven oracle of Iomedae. He loves being a healbot. (Bruce)
  • Tsuguri Chiba, a Tien cleric of Tsukiyo. Antonius is a Twinkie but Tsuguri is super Asian in all the scary yelly ways. (Chris)
  • Trystan, a half-elven bow-wielding paladin of Shelyn. But don’t call him a cherub, he hates that. (Matt)
  • Shawanda, a Mwangi paladin of Iomedae. She’s the main tank. (Patrick)
  • Calanthe, an aasimar sorceress of Shelyn. She’s our war leader and is somewhat embarassed when we call her “Khaleesi.” (Tim)

We get started by establishing the basic scene and determining who’s met who already. Then we’re sitting in some bleachers waiting for a festival and speech and stuff and…

Then we’re in the dark, with headaches.  It slowly comes back to us that some kind of massive demon attack happened above while we fight off giant maggots and take stock of who’s here.  Besides the PCs there’s a blind elf (Aravashnial), a lame chick (Anevia Tirablade), and a jerky guy (Horgus Gwerm). I like to say that all three of them are handicapped. We also find leftover scales from the giant silver dragon that was defending the city till it got its head chopped off by a balor or something, and they have kewl powers.

Then we wander around underground – looks like this isn’t going to be brief, looks like we’ll be here for a good number of sessions.  We’re first level so mainly we fight bugs, undead, and other vermin. Finally, we ally with some Mole People (mongrelmen).

Between finishing up character details, some fights and exploration, and madly trying to get to know each other and the three NPCs we don’t really get too many shenanigans in. But we’ll be more on our game next time!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Second Session

Samaritha the Serpentfolk

Samaritha the Serpentfolk

Second Session (18 page pdf) – “A Birth and a Death in Riddleport” – Samaritha finally comes to term serpentfolk style and the crew entertain themselves by fighting in Zincher’s arena, but then they find one of their long-time crewmates murdered!

That’s right – Samaritha, Serpent’s wife, who got pregnant back at the end of Season Two, finally gives birth!  Well… Lays an egg, really, she is a serpentfolk. I think Golarion serpentfolk are supposed to do live birth but I’ve admixed the Freeport serpentfolk in instead and they definitely do the egg thing. Quite the milestone! So the first half of the session basically revolves around that. I’m really happy our campaign is in-character roleplay enough that a PC getting married and having a baby is absorbing for all the players.

Clegg Zincher

Clegg Zincher

And how better to celebrate than violence. But it’s not even the PCs’ violence! No, instead they get to watch Mase and Gareb, two of their crewmen, fight fish-men in the arena. They lose, but live through it.

Then they hatch a “clever” plan to hand off their captive Ulfen to the orcs, so that they don’t garner White Estrid’s revenge should she track them down. They wisely decide not to provoke the monkey that comes along for the ride – last time they provoked a monkey in Riddleport someone came close to losing a nose. Word to the wise. (It’s kinda like Costa Rica in that way.)

And then – beloved crewman and second mate Little Mike’s body is found on the streets of Riddleport. BAM! Downbeat and cliffhanger for next time.

 

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, First Session

Riddleport Harbor

Riddleport Harbor

Welcome to the start of Season Four of our epic Reavers on the Seas of Fate Pathfinder campaign! We’re exactly three and a half years in. In Season One, “Shadows in Riddleport,” our PCs went to Riddleport, became aspiring pirates, and became embroiled in a cultist plot to destroy the city.  In Season Two, “Eros and Thanatos,” they got their own pirate ship and confronted all manner of supernatural menace of both Shadow and Cthulhu types. In Season Three, “Et In Arcadia Ego,” they  head out to sunken Azlant in the Arcadian Ocean and face off against the elves of the Mordant Spire and the degenerate inhabitants of the lost Sun Temple Colony.

And now we begin Season Four – “Family Matters.” In which our pirate crew returns to Riddleport but finds an old enemy has not forgotten them, and then heads to darkest Nidal to help Wogan’s sister.

First Session (22 page pdf) – “There’s No Place Like Home” – the PCs return to Riddleport at long last! Time to dispose of booty, buy goodies, and drink much booze while re-acclimating to life on land.

Their first order of business is to hand over the thumbless, captive pirate captain Morgan Baumann to the Overlord, which they manage to do with a startling lack of decorum even for them.

Gaston pulls the hood off to reveal that Morgan Baumann has worked the gag out of  place. She spits an unhealthy glob at Gaston.
The man wipes at his face, then tells her, “Keep your hands off my ships.”
Her reply is, “Keep your hands off little boys!”
Gaston taunts her, “I didn’t figure you would go down so easy.”
She replies, “I thought the same about you!”
Unhappy with losing the verbal exchange, Gaston commands, “Take her away.”

I improvised that whole dialogue, I was proud. Then it’s cop-killing jokes and a return to the Golden Goblin in Riddleport, where the whole campaign started. Saul Vancaskerkin, one-handed crime lord, always slaps Sindawe on the cheek in that Italian-mobster way; he hates it.  I love that. They rove all over getting caught up on city life.  Not only are they higher level but also they have learned not to wander the streets of Riddleport alone, so they are no longer the second most dangerous thing in a given alleyway. At least the command crew is; now they have to run after their hapless crew members who are all getting robbed and tricked into fighting in the arena and the like.

Entire game sessions that are all the PCs entertaining themselves with NPC interactions and going places are great.  I was told once that if we weren’t rolling combat dice then “we weren’t playing D&D.” To that person I wisely reply “suck it.” REAL ROLEPLAYING BABY!

This episode is all about getting various balls rolling and threads started, and it’ll escalate steadily over the next five sessions until it’s a holocaust that would make the most seasoned hack-and-slashers quail. But for now… It’s a moment of relative peace back in civilization.

D&D 5e PHB Readthrough, Chapter 5: Equipment

tenfootpoleWelcome to the next in the series of my D&D Fifth Edition PHB readthrough and review. I know there’s been a little time gap, I had some bidness to attend to.

The equipment chapter kicks off with the basic monetary system and starting gold.  The electrum piece (worth 1/2 a gold piece) has returned from the sands of time. Ah, nostalgia, I remember you fondly.

Then they talk about selling treasure.  Undamaged gear is worth 50% of the list price, but monster gear is usually junk.  Then they finally breach the 3.e/Pathfinder bugbear, magic items – magic items are expensive and rare and selling anything but the most common is problematic, let alone buying them.  This is happy and leads me to believe that the “magic item economy,” which resulted in “Christmas tree syndrome,” one of the least delightful things about mid-range D&D editions, has been swept away.

Armor is somewhat simplified and has the interesting design decision that light armors allow full Dex bonus to AC, medium half, and heavy none. On the one hand that compensates nicely for different approaches, on the other hand it tends towards “everyone has AC 16-18, period.”

Weapons are simpler than in some editions, more complex than in others. They have one damage rating that is a die and type (e.g. 1d8 bludgeoning) – never any “1d4+1″ or the like. Then they have some keyword-properties like the kids are into nowadays that indicate special uses – heavy, two-handed, reach, finesse, light, etc. Finesse weapons use DEX for both attack and damage in this edition, making the uber-strength fighter a less automatic choice.  There’s no such thing as a masterwork weapon but you can silver one for 100gp.

Then they have other gear. You know, cook pots, paper, and the ever-popular ten foot pole. This is mostly “like every list ever.” There’s a couple points of interest, like “Basic Poison” that requires a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 points of damage. And a potion of healing – at 50 gp – that will heal 1d4+2 hit points. So they don’t conflate healing with the hit dice thing (like 4e did with healing surges). I’m not sure how I feel about that, seems like “heal a Hit Die” is pretty smoov, but whatever. There’s sub-tables for barrels and ships and stuff.

The Tools are interesting. They claim that tools “help you do something you couldn’t otherwise do” – but mechanically they just let you add your proficiency bonus.  So if you’re a fighter, you can try to pick a lock without a proficiency or tools and just up and make the Dex check. But if you have the skill proficiency *and* the tools, you can add your proficiency bonus.

A final cool part is the lifestyle expenses.  I remember this from Living campaigns back in the 1990s. Basically there’s a listed cost for living at certain social levels – from Wretched to Aristocratic.  They kinda wuss out and have no mechanical hook to those except to say “Well you know if you’re po’ then nobles won’t like you but thieves might.”

Similarly to the “magic items aren’t bought and sold like cattle,” even getting spells cast for hire is noted to be difficult – you can get a common level 1 or 2 spell in a major city for 10-50 gp but past that it’s DM fiat and quests, baby.

Then there’s two semi wasted pages on “trinkets” – a new character gets one!  Roll 1d100, you have “a single caltrop made from bone.” Seems gimmicky to me but I get that they’re trying to provoke some kind of “you are a real and unique person” roleplaying using it so that’s fine.

All in all I like where they’re going!  Next time, Customization Options!