Tag Archives: story time

Carrion Crown Chapter 4, Wake of the Watcher, Session 3

Third Session (14 page pdf) – We decide the local cult needs purifying, sword-style. Then we take a primitive bathysphere down into Deep One territory! Tentacles ensue.

We discuss a bit whether there’s any chance there’s any innocents in the cult-corrupted church or if it’s valid to just roll in and wipe everyone there. I got Chris to agree to provoking them instead of just ambushing them. Turns out they’re all evil.  We smack them easily but then they have a crabby critter with them that’s a lot tougher. It gives us quite a fit until I turn it into a tiny soft-shelled crab with baleful polymorph.  Then, because of the retarded polymorph rules, it continues to beat up on us with an even higher AC. I guess I’ll look elsewhere for my save-or-dies in the future.

After looting and returning the kidnapped baby to her parents, we head down to the lake floor in Horace Croon’s bathysphere. A demonic spellcasting devilfish decides to play “fish in the mason jar and I’m the octopus” with us. Luckily, Xurak turned the dead giant octopus from previous into a zombie, so we repel it with hot cephalopod on cephalopod action  (all the players but one are also repelled by that, except for Patrick who is strangely aroused).

We enter the complex via a gel-filled sphincter-portal that causes us to argue whether “Jim Carrey being birthed from the rhino in Ace Ventura” or “Danny DeVito emerging from the sofa in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is the most apt analogy to its use, and then fight some dimensional shamblers.  More, next time!

2sbjj

 

 

Carrion Crown Chapter 4, Wake of the Watcher, Session 2

Second Session (13 page pdf) – We fight mutant giants, fish-men, Hounds of Tindalos, and The Colour Out Of Space in a run-down old mansion an in unholy mashup of half of Lovecraft’s short stories.  Next week – the other half!

The fights took a lot of time this session.  The marsh giant was hefty though not much of a danger to us due to positioning.  The Hounds of Tindalos, with their damage-gaze, did a lot of damage to us. And the skum happily charged down a tunnel at us and Xurak and I lightning bolted them out of this universe easily.

The Color out of Space part is creepy, it had husked out a bunch of women and kids and we couldn’t really fight it, it drained stats like there’s no tomorrow.  By messing around we let it go, hopefully to another world or plane of existence. We get a crazy lady to add to the baby in terms of helpless noncombatants we have to worry about.

We finish up by deciding to go kill the heck out of a church full of Dagon cultists!

Carrion Crown Chapter 4, Wake of the Watcher, Session 1

First Session (17 page pdf) – Slugs and babynapping cultists abound in the otherwise-shitty town of Illmarsh. But we obtain the ultimate weapon – a controlled spectre!

We continue to peel back the layers of decrepitude in the town, where it’s pretty clear they’re pimping out babies to Deep Ones. I like Jayleen the local barkeep though, she’s fun. A giant octopus goes after a local, we kill it, as we are wont to do.

voltiaroThen it’s out to Undiomede House, an old ruined mansion, since everything about its appearance in local lore cries out “conveniently close to town dungeon location.” Turns out the trip there is more unhealthy than a Perfect Bacon Bowl, as leeches overtake us – and not just normal leeches, burrow-to-your-brain in three rounds leeches. They are a “hazard” not monsters so of course we butt up against the game rules as we try to get them off us.  I manage it but Nigel, Oswald, and Zurax all get brain parasites for their trouble!

We save a baby from some ridiculously-dressed cultists, which puts an abrupt end to the dungeoning! We head back and try to get someone that won’t eat/trade the kid so we can go back. And we kill another even more ridiculously dressed cultist!  Fade to black.

Carrion Crown Chapter 3, Broken Moon, Session 5

auren_vroodFifth Session (18 page pdf) – Done with the local vermin, we move on to assault a keep full of necromancers!  And someone dies.  Many someones. Then it’s off to get some Lovecraft, but instead we get some McLovin!

We planned our assault of the necromancer keep in Feldgrau. We get to the top and the “skeletons” there are uber buff skeletons to our chagrin. We pop a fog cloud to stop the arrows, except for the PCs that like going and standing out of the fog cloud so they’ll get shot.

We expected a bit more of a dungeon, but halfway through the skeleton guards fight Orrin (Auren?) Vrood shows up and lays into us with the Circle of Death. This starts an entire sequence of “but wait…” as we figure out all the complex effects.  He pops a Circle of Death which kills four party members – but I use the group Harrow card to give us SR20, which saves two people, then I use my personal Harrow card to give Oswald a save bonus, which saves him. (Using them is a meta-thing that doesn’t really use an action.)  Zurax Darkfire, we hardly knew ye.

Then we kept forgetting stuff.  He used eyebite on me and I ran, forgetting the SR, and then he used it on Oswald, who almost ran before I blurted out “Wait, SR!” The SR didn’t save him, but since I wasn’t really feared my Fortune hex was still up so that saved him.  I got tired of that and used my new anti-necromancer ray, Lightning Bolt.

We go all the way to Carrion Hill to get Zurax raised, then go all the way back to Feldgrau, where everyone but a local ghost has skedaddled. Boring.  And then we head to the big neon signs saying Thrushmoore.

On the way we had a great encounter – Nigel sneaks off and comes across two nymphs bathing in the lake. He spies on them, making both Fort saves against blindness.  He reveals himself with a “Hey laydees!” and then makes both Fort saves against stun! They say “Ooo you have to catch us!” and he promptly rolls a natural 20 and the fleeing nymph rolls a natural 1. “Whoops, I have fallen over this log and my dress has come off!” He comes out of it with a goofy grin and a nymph-hair token that makes him super hell on wheels as a bard (+4 on Will saves, Craft, Perform, and 7 bonus rounds of bardic performance a day!!!).

Then we come across a marsh giant who demands tribute; Zurax animates a zombie from a Kellid werewolf corpse he’s keeping, Nigel tramps it up, and we send it to its fate.

Finally we end up in Thrushmoore, aka Innsmouth, and get the obligatory Lovecraftian town setup.  It’s just a little too much on the nose, how each adventure is “this thing themed!!!” But, what the heck, we’re level 8 now.

Carrion Crown Chapter 3, Broken Moon, Session 4

Fourth Session (13 page pdf) – We go to the butthole of Ustalav and farm us some werewolves, plus any local necromancer that gets lippy.

After an unfortunate encounter with a hangman tree (made more dangerous by the fact that three PCs weren’t there/didn’t show up on time, and only bested by one of them showing up mid-fight) we go to the Furrows, also known as the worst place in a bad country.

We dodged a remarkably large local necromancer patrol and rooted around in a ruined building where we found our missing werewolf hunter, Duristan.  “Oh, I’m not werewolfed, and I somehow got a band of mercenaries here!  We’re hunting some other werewolves!” “Yeah, that sounds grrrreat… Take us to your mercenaries.” We hoped we’d convince them we’d “help attack” the Prince’s Wolves and then we could betray them mid-fight.  Duristan, however, showed his usual lack of forethought by just yelling out as soon as we went into where the Jhazeldans were.

And here’s where seventh level pays off!  I crowd-controlled the shit out of that building.  Black Tentacles BAM!  Web BAM!  We knew that was just a delaying tactic and we needed help, so everyone else fought while I flew over to get the Princes’ Wolves to help; they were remarkably whiny about it for having been dispatched here for this express purpose.  I convinced them (In D&D you always have to convince NPCs to do anything, including what they were going to do anyway) and then it took them like three rounds of running in their heavy armor to get there and when they did they were like crappy CR2 werewolves only suitable for mob control. Sigh.  But the rest of the party had staged a calm fighting withdrawal to outside the building and was keeping the werewolves bottled up, so I figured I’d liven up their day with a Stinking Cloud.  You would think werewolves would have OK Fort saves but they were all puking up squirrels. By the time they broke loose and got out of the building the Princes’ Wolves arrived; I hit the BBEG with a 4-level Enervation and everyone else chopped him to bitty-bits. I slumber hexed Duristan so hopefully we can cure him of his lycanthropy.

Then we’re talking with the Princes’ Wolves inside the building when some necromancer goon with two big undead thingys busts in and is all like “Now I’ve got you!” I Lightning Bolted his dumb ass and everyone chopped through the undead.  I blinded him and he ran off crying to momma; a slumber hex later and I dragged him into the building with us.  Send more necromancers!

It wasn’t all me or anything, everyone was on top of their game.  Icobus got a great beheading shot in among others. Nigel started using his whammies on undead, being a dirge bard. Oswald shot a lot of things. We were worried when two players didn’t show but even just three of us could hold the fort for a good number of rounds! Yay, level 7.  (Though, it does explain why it’s the breakpoint for E6; it’s definitely the level you leave normal life behind for the life of a superhero.)

Carrion Crown Chapter 3, Broken Moon, Session 3

Third Session (12 page pdf) – We fight werewolves, werewolf ghosts, beefcake werewolves, and a paunchy librarian. Werewolves are stupid, though wealthy; perhaps we should take up werewolf farming.

The werewolf ghost (vilkacis) fight is bracing; it tries to possess several party members but a Protection from Evil from Xurak and then Misfortune hex from me keeps it from being successful.

Then we catch up with the librarian (Estovian the keeper of the Lodge) and beat the bejeezus out of him. I get to use my new lipstitch spell to sew his lips together, which was disturbing both for him and for the rest of the party. Lucky for him he charms Oswald who prevents his prone form from being Rodney Kinged into the great unknown; lucky for us Oswald is super gullible so we manage the situation anyway (“No really, he’ll be safer chained up down here with all his gear in our gunny sack…”).

We did OK in the big werewolf boss fight.  I got a little pissed that I kept putting bad guys to sleep with my slumber hex and no one would freaking coup de grace them, and then someone would wake them up and they’d be back in the game – and my hex can only affect someone once a day. I’m like “do you like fighting these guys?  How’s that lycanthropy making your tongue taste?” Anyway, finally I blind the werewolf chick and we bring an end to the combat.  We’d neatly bypassed all the rest of the werewolf guards so we just sent her packing. (Get it? Packing? I crack myself up. Actually, I decided that Sredni Vashtar’s Girl likes making bad puns in Common, which entertained Tim because there’s an Indian girl at his work that does the exact same thing.  I’ve known one too, it’s an oddly common little quirk. I like it when I can bring some authentic Indian girl to my character!)

Then we get to commune with Desna! Besides getting healed of all our ills and getting some plot points, this is cool for Girl – she’s still NG and starting to consider being more assertive against her NE god-familiar.

After that it’s just a wrap-up fight with two werewolves.  I like using my Slumber hex like the guys from Dark City – “Sleeeep! <waves hand across their face>.” We even let Estovian go with some threats to watch his step in the future. It’s Ustalav; if you kill every violent dumbass you meet the whole place would be empty.

 

Carrion Crown Chapter 3, Broken Moon, Session 2

Second Session (10 page pdf) –  The Lodge becomes a killing ground as various things go wrong, and our heroes are generally a step behind everyone else.

Talking to various decadent Ustalavic nobles is about as useful as you’d think. But Girl meets another girl from her orphanage back in Jalmeray, who’s working in an adjoining brothel. Also, Nigel trades his carnal favors to the madam for info on our quest.

Then we get attacked by a truly giant spider. And then someone werewolf-curses out and kills another patron. We get sick of screwing around and break into the local Lodge keeper/librarian’s office to beat the truth out of him but he dimension-door skedaddles. With remaining intel we decide to cut to the chase and go out to the Stairs of the Moon and harvest us some werewolves.

Carrion Crown Chapter 3, Broken Moon, Session 1

First Session (14 page pdf) – It’s out to the Lodge of Werewolves where we’re sure they hunt the “Most Dangerous Game.” On the way, we have slug problems.

First it’s back from Castle Caromarc to Lepidstadt, where we decide to follow Professor Lorrimor’s killer Orrin Vrood out into the werewolf-haunted forest of the Shudderwood. We load up on silver weapons and werewolf lore.

On the way, we have quite a fight with a big slug-grub-woman-thing. Then we get to Ascanor Lodge, where we fiddle around with decadent nobles and hunt werewolves with them till a bunch of werewolves yell plot points at us.  Then it’s back to the lodge for hot chocolate in front of a fire.

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 6

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.

guardian_towerThen 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!!!

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 5

Fifth Session (12 page pdf) – Schloss Caromarc is creepily well-kept but seemingly abandoned, except for traps and occasional golems. It is also riddled with non-OSHA compliant bridges, which conspire towards our downfall…

The castle is cool and creepy, full of abandoned rooms and taxidermy that against all our expectations doesn’t animate and attack us.  Good for that.

However, let me just pause a second to ream on the castle/dungeon/adventure design here.  We keep having to cross bridges that require like multiple DC15 Acrobatics checks to not fall off and die.  Of course, the average fighter in his armor has like a -1 Acrobatics skill.  First of all this is a game rule fail from someone who didn’t bother to read the Acrobatics skill entry – you should only be hitting DC15 if you’re trying to cross a 6 inch wide balance beam, not a three foot wide rope bridge or anything with handholds. Second of all, it’s a worldbuilding fail – this is a castle built by people, for people to live in. Anything requiring a DC5 let alone a DC 15 skill check to “not die” on a routine day doesn’t pass muster. “Well the Count could cast fly” doesn’t excuse it – he can’t fly all day every day, and if you risk death every time you have to take a crap (Sredni Vashtar’s Girl kept looking for a privy to wash up and there aren’t any, I’ll note) or want a snack the numbers will catch up with you. Does he carry his own big crates of stuff around? Do his own drywall? Oh, “his golems carry stuff for him?” His golems are clumsy as hell, has he lost 1M gold pieces worth of them to falls?  (I can imagine a town downriver constantly traumatized by wounded flesh golem attacks from the water… “Why God why?!?”).

Anyway, the vast majority of this session was a fight with a summoned erinyes who totally owned us. Our crossbowman was useless against her, my spells were useless against her, and everyone else was either screwing around (Vlad) or generally clinging to things for dear life (Oswald, Icobus). Everyone nearly died several times. Only her clock eventually running out saved us.  And if we didn’t get across before the bridge burned we’d be literally stuck, none of us can fly yet so it would be ‘adventure over.’ I don’t know if they assume ‘well of course they should be fifth level so they would all have fly now’ but screw them. Pett, you make creepy stuff which is good, but it feels like this adventure made certain assumptions that were not necessarily reasonable. If we didn’t have our rope of climbing we’d just have had to quit and leave the whole castle because it’d just be impossible to traverse.

Faceless_Flesh_GolemThe fight with the weirdo homunculus-led golem was interesting; we figured out just from looking at the thing “don’t even bother hitting it, kill the homunculi” and sure enough. Yay video game design.

This session was a mix of enjoyment and frustration mainly from us banging our head against “you know, going across this next bridge is sure death for half of you…  And no, there’s no way to bypass or improve it.”

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 4

Fourth Session (10 page pdf) – We prove the innocence of the Beast, though one of the two serial killers escapes.  Then it’s out to Castle Caromarc, where the troll gate guards take out a party member!

With Franklin & Bash style flair we get the Beast off his capital sentence. Speak with Dead! Skin suits! Paperwork! Victory! We hustle him out to the edge of town and he goes home to Castle Caromarc and invites us to visit.  Sure, we think…

Then we go out into the swamp and meet a swamp dryad. “She’s all made of plants and stuff but hot.” We had to Google for an example to prove to ourselves that could happen.

Mossy_dryad_girl__by_PlastikStarsWe freed her wolf from a trap, which made us feel like we were level 1 again.

Then we got to a troll and troll-hound occupied gatehouse, and that really made us feel like we were level 1 again.  They totally murdered Icobus as part of a large complex combat. I can’t say our tactics were great but this is a dangerous level; I remember in Rise of the Runelords we lost our fighter to an ogre hook about this time.  But he didn’t stay dead, we’re just high enough to pull off a Reincarnate! He came back as an orc, which is interesting since orcs are persona non grata in Ustalav. Sredni Vashtar’s Girl was horrified that he died but she was really happy to take part in the reincarnation – she had kinda hoped that he’d been more virtuous in his previous incarnation, though, orc isn’t exactly a step up on the wheel of karma.

Carrion Crown Chapter 2, Trial of the Beast, Session 3

We continue with Trial of the Beast, the second chapter of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path. Sorry if the session summary’s a bit briefer than usual; I found out I was doing it late and only had Evernote on the iPad to do it with, impeding my typing speed (swapping attention between gaming and the summary is hard enough when you’re not having to hunt-and-peck).

Third Session (9 page pdf) – We’re making headway on the Beast’s defense, and investigating a ghast-filled ruined lab gives us the clues we need to go confront some serial killers in their super dangerous lair! Now if we just weren’t our own worst enemies…

We scamper out of town quickly to get some investigation done before the mob violence hits. We cleanse a lab of ghasts and are quickly led to an alchemist’s factory in Lepidstadt, Vorkstag & Grimes, which operates with an unknown workforce “Willy Wonka” style.

Just an aside.  This happened with the skinsaw cult lumber mill in Rise of the Runelords too – how the hell do you run a business when everyone is a monstrous freak who attacks everyone else on sight? That’s not a sustainable business model! I mean, they have to sell shit, don’t they? And deliver it? And buy supplies? “Notes with gold attached” only goes so far – there’s literally not a person in this place that can show their face in polite society.  Anyway.

We totally lucked out on this one – the very first room we break into is the mother lode of Buffalo Bill style people skins and Beast costumes!  Vladimir wanted to just ‘go take it all to the cops’ but I pointed out that “here’s some evidence we found somewhere, and removed, trust us” is not usually well regarded in law enforcement circles.

And then we get to fight the alchemists – eek!

grinevorkstag

So that was pretty messed up. “HI I’M THE SKINLESS MAN!” Well, I had a trick for him – Sredni Vashtar’s Girl just learned Vomit Swarm from her little evil hell-weasel and she used it on them – much to the rest of the group’s chagrin. Vladimir couldn’t resist running into the swarm, of course. The skinless man tried to get away and went to climb down a ladder into a three story room full of acid vats – Girl was like “slumber hex!” and he fell three stories. But not into a vat, which was actually OK with me because I wanted him alive for arresting purposes; live freaks are better than corpses for getting the Beast off the hook.

I had Sredni Vashtar get more hands-on this time – he went down to bite the skinless man and delivered a Cure Moderate touch attack to kill an undead in the last fight. It’s hard to bring their abusive-relationship dynamic to life in game as much as I’d like (without going over the top) so I’m experimenting with it.

Then we wandered the freaky factory – we sent Vladimir to go get help from the authorities since he’s the fastest, and then we start searching rooms and we find him in one of the rooms poking around!  I was kinda pissed. Just say “no, I want to be here for the looting,” don’t lie to us… That’s dangerous. You can “be evil” all you want but when your dicking around endangers me, that’s when you get put on the optional-to-save list.

I reckon the end of the trial’s next time, then I suspect we need to go waste Doctor Frankenstein out in the swamps.