Sixth Session (11 page pdf) – We get to the heart of Schloss Caromarc and its guardian rips one of our party members into bits! Then we summon the Beast to help us out… GOLEM FIGHT!!!
We spend some time going up one more deathtrap bridge and being ravaged by another trap – holing up and resting – repeat. The worst of that was a leech swarm – immune to weapon damage, can’t do fire damage since they’re in the water, and with no save they do hit point and STR and CON damage. You do get to save against the permanent DEX drain and distraction though. Even if I had say a 5d6 lightning bolt, it wouldn’t have killed them since the swarm has 39 hp. “They’re only CR4” says the GM… Fuck you, whoever designed this monster. The castle design starts making even less sense with the four “holding towers” but we’re used to that.
Then we get across and discover a big hideous flesh golem. Vlad runs up to it and it rips him apart into pieces immediately with quad claw + rend. Oswald takes a couple shots at it but it is like AC super high and has DR and it’s clear we’re not going to be able to take it. Icobus’ Oracle curse (he can’t speak in combat, just make insane Azathoth piping) finally comes into play, because he pops Obscuring Mist and tries to get us to retreat, but Oswald no comprende and advances into the mist instead and gets dropped too (thankfully, just short of permanent fatality). We backed off and greased the bridge and let it fall to its death. May as well use this deathtrap against others too! We saved Oswald but Vlad is just dhampir parts.
The finale was cool and thankfully didn’t require our physical intervention (being down a party member and suffering from a variety of negative levels, stat drain, etc.). With the help of Waxwood the invisible servant we figured out we needed to climb to the top, activate the lightning attractor, power the Beast controller, call the beast, and have him fight the boss golem. Then we sat there controlling him Pacific Rim style.
Here’s where I had my best idea of the adventure. We had already drooled over the adamantite trapdoor below. “Hey, he could rip that off and Oswald could give him shield proficiency! And he could smack the bad guy with it to bypass his inevitable DR!” And sure enough, Nigel tried to have the Beast use his double crossbow- can’t hit. He used his ogre hook – DR 10 reducing it to almost nothing while the Beast got owned by the Promethean. Then he switched to doing slams with the adamantite trapdoor – and the hit points just melted off. Without that the numbers would not have been in his favor, we might have had to go down there to try to finish him off (yeah right!).
Then Girl broke up the “slave herd thrall” or whatever the Beast-controller device was called, she freed him from the townsfolk at that trial and sees no reason to not free him from his psycho-dad-creator too. The rest of the party was dubious but let her have her way.
Then we rescued the Count, nursed him to health, and figured out what his problem is – predictably, a dead wife (“Did she die in a fall?” thought Girl) that won’t come back to a raise dead (“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to come back either,” mused Nigel.) Then he gives us a paltry reward of 3000 gp and sics us on the Whispering Way guys who betrayed him after he betrayed them after they blackmailed him. “Why do we care exactly?” we ask ourselves.
The adventure has gotten on a pretty hard railroad now. We kinda kept with freeing the Beast from his trial as just a lark and for 200 pp each, but “Go get half your party killed visiting my dad’s castle” and “For no reason I’m sure you want to go fight werewolves and cultists to recover an idol that even the University it was stolen from doesn’t care about” is weak motivation. We’re only following the trail of breadcrumbs “because clearly we’re supposed to, that’s where the next chapter is” and that’s kinda demotivating. The bad guys are Whispering Way cultists, but this is Ustalav – there’s a lot of cultists everywhere. And we’re not inquisitors. We’re probably more like inquisition targets, with an orc, a witch, a dhampir, an Azathoth worshipper, a Zon-Kuthon worshipper, and… Well, a human crossbowman is kinda normal I guess, but it is Oswald.
Matt’s trying to decide if we should raise Vlad or not. He got kinda disenchanted with the character especially after some conflict over his counter-party actions… He let one of the serial killers go because he’s a fellow Norgorber worshipper, Icobus had found out, and since the killer (besides being dangerous and likely coming after us for revenge at some point) had killed Vaus’ fiancee this was turning into “Hey so what do we do about him?” with Vaus thinking “Maybe I should kill him” and that turned into a metagame discussion of “Hey as a group we haven’t really talked about our agreement on coop vs pvp limits/settings” which turned into aimless interpersonal squabbling in email among various group members. Sigh. So he’s deciding before next session whether to raise Vlad or swap to Urgathoan inquisitor or similar. Otherwise, we all leveled to 6 and I immediately took the Flight hex for Sredni Vashtar’s Girl!!!
Our Carrion Crown party is made up of a vampire-hunting necromancer, a cleric, an undead scourge of Iomadae, and a ranger/rogue with undead as his favoured enemy, so we’ve got more reason than most to chase the Whispering Way and even then it felt like a railroad.
The individual parts of the campaign are quite evocative, but the joins and the overall structure are quite clumsy.
Ha, sounds like a good party for the AP! We deliberately didn’t do pallys or good clerics because we didn’t want to set it to easy mode. We’re trying to brainstorm on how to get more motivation as we head into part 3. (We don’t really even have any evidence that the Whispering Way guys that messed with the Beast/Count are even the same ones that greased the Professor, there’s got to be lots of those guys about, following them to the forest is like “Let’s go kill Catholics! One of those guys did something to someone I knew once!”)
The party fits quite well with the tone of the campaign as a whole but it led to some serious problems when we got to the fifth chapter and the plot wanted to force us in a certain direction. As a result, we skipped most of that book.
The Count’s friends, hobbies, home, and enthrallment of the Beast all indicate that he is a gigantic, selfish, evil ass. Or at least that was Icobus’ take. Thus, Icobus had no issue with freeing the Beast from his enthrallment. He just thought it a bad idea to rub the Count’s nose in it.
If I had thought about it at the time, I would have suggested that the party send the beast on a long trip, then murder the Count. And take his stuff. Sure, that’s evil, but the Count seems pretty darn evil (which makes it OK in D&D).
On a more serious note. I agree with the observations on Castle Frankenstein and the upcoming “Trail of a Million Billion Werewolves” missions. Overall, I have enjoyed playing and running canned modules, especially the adventure paths. It strikes me as unusual that the designers just assume the PCs would want to go to every shitty little trap strewn hell hole. Or maybe as a lot the designs figure, “Screw micromanaging the motives. I’ll let the gms running this figure it out; they know what they’re parties want.”
Extra (or better) motivation doesn’t hurt the story. For example, “The judges, having declared the Beast innocent, have decided that the Count needs a trial. They hire the pcs to deliver a legal summons to the Count (not his servant or his front door, but the actual Count).”
At the same time, we also need to remember that the guy running our games deserves gratitude for doing so. He could easily have opted to something that had far less people alternately ignoring him and whining at him.
Yes, I realize this is rich coming from me, because I whine a lot. And yes, I realize that showing up and playing is a form of gratitude. As is taking session summary notes, being quiet when its not your turn, etc… But I think the whining and lack of interest/attention can hit gms hard.
I think we should go back and tie up the loose ends: Brother Swarm (who we didn’t manage to kill), those so-called innocent old ladies who are clearly witches, and “serial killer” captain of the guard back in city-whose-name-I-forgot.
By the way Icobus totally stole that crate of severed medusa heads. They’re going to make a wicked smart perimeter defense for our camp!
Sure, but I look at it as constructive criticism – we’ve said to the GM “Hey we’re having problems with motivation just give us something to work with here” and have tried to drop ideas to that end. Should be as simple as a letter/divine message/dream/whatever to get us on track, I’m not looking for Hemingway just something other than “Somebody mentioned someone bad and powerful might be over there…” 15 minutes at the beginning of the next session working around the lame ass hook built in would be fine. He just hasn’t responded to his email yet so I’m sure he’s on it. But these session summaries aren’t complete without sharing the subjective experience from our games good and bad, is my take on it. Sounds like a common problem that other GMs and maybe even Paizo authors can learn from.
Yes, the Paizo message board threads for these products tend to either be “yay, this is awesome!” or non-constructive or irrelevant whining so it’s good to see actual experiences of the campaign. I wrote a bit about the wonky structure of Carrion Crown <a href="http://kelvingreen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-incomplete-crown-of-nyarlathotep.html"here.
Sorry, that link was broken. Try this.
Cool, didn’t know you had a blog. Added to blogroll!