Category Archives: Playtest Campaign Sessions

The Sunless Garden – Part 2

After returning the dryad to her home, the party continued exploring the massive cavern.  In the southwest corner they discovered strange markings unlike any other tracks that they’ve seen before.  The “tracks” led them to a concealed passage which opened into a series of smaller caves.  Within they found strange substances related to gardening, massive gardening tools, and finally a massive laboratory where they encountered the corrupted treant Nockmort.  Nockmort informed the heroes that they had come too late to stop the dragon cultists from achieving their goals and then attacked.  After he had been defeated the party explored the laboratory and found many notes related to the development of new plant species, including the “dark treant.”  The source of the mutations was identified as the purple stones embedded in the ceiling of the main cavern, which apparently fell from the sky many years ago.  They also identified the antidote for the disease which had turned the residents of Garland’s Fork into trees and secured a large supply of it.

Moving onward, the group located a profane chapel.  Inside they fought a dire wolverine guarding before finding a hidden staircase leading down into another complex.  Further explorations led to an encounter with a pit trap and a brief battle with some hobgoblin guards followed by the discovery of a sealed room full of ghouls.  The heroes wisely decided to unseal the room and the the ghouls loose so that they could be eliminated for the sake of any future explorers.  Having reached a dead end, the party then backtracked towards the stairs and on their way discovered a secret door that had previously gone undetected.

The secret passageway led to a guard station where the guards had clearly been alerted and taken up defensive positions, but a fireball made quick work of most of them.  Continuing onward, the group discovered a very long straight stairway leading downward into darkness.  Stepping on it unleashed a huge torrent of water, washing some of the heroes down towards the bottom.  A series of miscommunications led to the trap being triggered an additional two times, but eventually the entire group ended up safely in the lower level.  Near the drain they found some flopping fish and the drowned corpse of a gnome wearing a ring of swimming.

After an encounter with a sea hag posing as a corpse, the party eventually entered an elaborate bedchamber with a small corridor leading to an enjoining room.  The sounds of some sort of ritual emanated from the back room.  Trying to go down the corridor triggered a series of both magical and physical traps that the party had to fight through.  Eventually, the druid was able to take the form of a small animal and navigate the series of traps.  He found two cultists, one of which had just completed a ritual involving a glowing glass orb and a massive dragon skull hanging on the wall.

As the characters fought with the cultists, the skull began to levitate and glow.  The ghostly image of a skeleton appeared at first and it gradually grew more and more substantial.  As the last cultist was slain, the dragon’s corpse let loose an earth shaking roar and tore through the ceiling.  The heroes had arrived too late.  Pyraxus had been reborn.

The Sunless Garden – Part 1

The party reunited at the town of Blessings Be with the conspicuous absence of a certain bard.  Fischer stayed behind in Hadler’s Gap to work on a project with the town blacksmith to help him compensate for his recently acquired handicap.  After sharing the tale of what had occurred at the sanctuary with Reliff and Natyet, the group decided to hit the road towards Garland’s Fork in search of the dragon cultists.

The group wisely sent Natyet ahead in animal form to scout out the road.  Not far outside of Garland’s Fork, the halfling turned cat detected a patch of road that appeared to be concealing some sort of pit trap.  Natyet alerted the rest of his allies and they were able to thwart a cultist ambush.  Several cultists were killed, with one of the leaders nearly escaping.  It appeared that he had been trying to reach a large hill nearby, so the party headed in that direction to investigate.

Upon getting closer to the hill, it was apparent that some sort of camp had been established there at the base of a massive tree stump.  The camp guards did not detect the group as they approached and they were quickly cut down when the party sprung an ambush of their own.  The camp seemed to be equipped for about 20 people.  There was a larger tent constructed up against the base of the stump.  Inside was a chest full of valuables and a large empty shipping crate.  The packing material inside the crate appeared to have recently held a large heavy spherical object of unknown origin.

Not wanting to go down into the earth unprepared, the party opted to make camp and proceed once they were well rested.  After a good night’s sleep they made their way down into the cavern below the stump.  They found it to be filled with a dull purple glow originating from chunks of purple stone embedded in the ceiling.  Within the cavern they found various plateaus where strange and wonderful plant life grew.  They kept their distance from both of it and eventually discovered a garden shed.

Within the shed, they found a variety of garden tools.  In a small locked area they freed several prisoners who identified themselves as soldiers of the nearby kingdom of Thire.  They had been in the area recruiting scouts and woodsman to help fight the dragon cult when they were captured.  The soldiers provided some information including the fact that the cultists were only visitors to this site and that the leader here was a corrupted treant by the name of Nockmort.  They also warned the characters that there was a large contingent of hobgoblins that were subservient to Nockmort.  Despite their weakened condition, the soldiers had no desire to remain underground any longer and insisted on departing immediately to rejoin their unit.

Further down the cavern, the party found a well constructed locked door.  They played a clever ruse and managed to trick the hobgoblin guards on the other side into opening the door and allowing them to storm what they found to be a small prison complex.  Further into the prison they fought and defeated an ettin guard.

Within the jail cells they found one nervous looking hobgoblin and a small treant who had been tortured cruelly with metal spikes.  The treant informed the party that Nockmort was using the power of the purple stones to create new and sinister forms of plant life and that he intended to corrupt more treants.The party eventually negotiated with the hobgoblin for his release.  In exchange for his life, he told them that the cultists had gone through the chapel and down below.  He made a hasty departure as soon as he was able.

Further exploration revealed a wooden crate from which a dryad was released.  The heroes escorted her back to her tree which had been transplanted into the center of the underground garden.

The Defiled Sanctuary

After recovering from their adventures in the Great Swamp, our heroes decided to make a sound tactical decision and split the party in half.  The monk, bard, and druid returned to Hadler’s Gap to seek treatment for Fischer’s lost arm as well as Reliff’s recently cured case of the Blight.

Solus, Trog, and Keaton continued onward towards Garland’s Fork in an effort to locate the cultist’s base of operations.  The plan was for the entire party to regroup on the road between Hadler’s Gap and Garland’s Fork.  On their way, they passed through numerous calm pastoral settings and eventually found themselves passing through a town identified by a sign as Blessings Be.  Strangely, the town appeared deserted when they arrived with many of the windows being shuttered and nobody in sight.

It didn’t take long for the townsfolk to determine that the heroes represented no threat to them and emerge from their hiding places.  In fact, they were greeted with great excitement and a small amount of confusion.  Apparently the town had sent messengers to Hadler’s Gap in search of help.  Recently the town’s marshall, having heard about much of the violence and evil in neighboring areas, decided to enter the Sanctuary of Blessings Be (a crypt and destination for pilgrims who worship the deity Honorus) and remove a powerful magic sword so that he could protect the town.  He never returned from his task and ever since the town had been plauged with disappearances and sightings of strange creatures in the woods.

The heroes found their way to the tomb along a well traveled pathway and found the entrance to be eerily quiet.  They proceeded from the statue-lined entry chamber to a small prayer area consisting of a pool and a statue of Arden Brightheart.  As they investigated the poul, a pair of ghouls lunged at them from the water and a fight ensued.  An opportunistic darkmantle joined the fray as well, but the monsters were all slain.

Continuing their investigation of the pool, they discovered a ledge hidden under the water that led around to the back of the pool and then out to the statue.  Rotating the statue resulted in a secret door opened at the back of the chamber. Within that room they found a spirit that introduced himself as Jarson Tender, the former caretaker of this shrine.  He explained that the marshall had attempted to remove the sword and a great evil was awoken as a result.  Jarson locked himself in the secret chamber after being chased by the ghouls and starved to death before help could arrive.

Moving further into the sanctuary, the party passed by a door that sounded like it contained some sort of raging beast.  In another nearby room they found several of the missing locals, all diligently working at modifying the murals on the wall.  They appeared to be under the effects of some sort of enchantment as they modified the murals to depict far more gruesome scenes.  Rather than disturb them and risk having to fight them, the heroes left them and continued onward.

They soon reached the chapel where more of the missing peasants worked at scrubbing the place with unholy water.  In this room they also found an ancient corpse pinned to the wall by a sword.  This appeared to be the corpse of the Dread Watcher, but provided little explanation for the recent evils that had clearly been unleashed here.  The sword detected as magical from a distance, but again the party chose not to disturb the brainwashed peasants and continued onward.

Finally the group reached the area containing the tombs.  Inside they found a throne upon which sat the presumed remains of Arden Brightheart, dressed in once-gleaming platemail.  Keaton immediately saw through this simple ruse and the battle with Dread Watcher began.  The enemy proved to be a formidable spellcaster, flinging several powerful attack spells at the party as they were attacked by animated statues.  At the same time, the brainwashed peasants led by a wraith attacked them from the rear.

It was a chaotic battle that nearly ended badly for the heroes.  Just as it seemed all might be lost, the ghost of Jarson Tender occupied one of the statues and came to the party’s aid.  Keaton and Solus both lost consciousness at one point leaving only Trog to face down the Dread Watcher.  Solus in particular turned quite pale and appeared to be knocking loudly at death’s door.  Despite using several tricks to magically jump from place to place within the tombs, Trog relentlessly tracked down the Watcher and finished him off.

The unconcious members of the party were all revived and a small amount of searching revealed Arden Brightheart’s sword.  It was placed back into the Watcher’s body which was then hidden in the secret room discovered earlier.  Oddly, Jarson’s ghost was nowhere to be found after the fight.

With the evil dispatched, the party headed back to Blessings Be in hopes of meeting up with their other companions.

 

Legacy of the Savage Kings – Finale

With the demon skull in the party’s possession, all that remained was to return it to “the maw” and destroy it forever.  Unfortunately, things are never that simple.  Upon disrupting the skull, it made several attempts to possess nearby party members and a good amount of damage was inflicted subduing the possessed persons.

Given the extremely dangerous nature of this artifact the group decided to proceed immediately to destroy it.  Upon exiting the tomb, they discovered that orc reinforcements had arrived at the forge.  After a brief strategy session, it was decided that Trog and Natyet would circle around the island using the ring of water walking and the rest of the group would assault the front gate as a distraction.

As this was happening, the friendly neighborhood black dragon decided that this would be a good time to make an appearance as well.  It attacked orc and hero alike in its madness.  In addition, as Trog began to near the maw with the skull, a massive and corrupted earth elemental appeared from the ground to block his path.  The ensuing battle was extremely chaotic, but in the end Trog barely defeated the elemental and sent the skull flying to its destruction.

As the skull was destroyed, the earth shook violently and most of the crudely built structures on the island were destroyed as a result.  The orcs were killed or scattered, leaving only the circling dragon.  Offering him his missing onyx band was enough to placate him and he flew off into the fog.  The party decided to leave the swamp themselves at this point and find a camp for a well earned rest.

Legacy of the Savage Kings, Part 2 – Session Recap

Having taken the Forge successfully, the party secured one of the buildings and spent the night recovering from their wounds.  Further discussion of the previous day’s events led them to the conclusion that they had to retrieve the ancient demon’s skull and return it to “the maw” in order to permanently destroy the creature and the Blight.  Based on information found up to this point, it seemed that the skull was most likely in the possession of the lizardfolk who occupied the swamp.

The group continued exploring the swamp and soon found lizardfolk tracks leading off to the west.  After crossing a few rickety log bridges, they were ambushed by lizardmen who triggered the bridge that they were crossing to collapse.  The creatures were either slain or repelled after brief but muddy combat.  Trog also slew an opportunistic crocodile that had attempted to take a chunk out of his leg during the fight.

Continuing onward, they reached the shoreline along a low range of hills.  According to the map that they had retrieved from the orcs, there were most likely three caves to be found in the hillside.  It didn’t take long before they discovered one fairly obvious opening into the hills.  After pushing through the underbrush to get inside, they found a set of massive stone doors (seemingly too massive to move!) with two small holes cut into them.  While investigating the doors, they were assaulted by ghosts who managed to possess first Trog and then Keaton, leading to a brutal fight between party members.

The ghosts were eventually dispersed and the investigation of the area continued.  Fischer looked through the holes briefly and determined that there was something fairly close on the other side, but didn’t take a closer look.  Instead, he inserted his left hand into one of the holes at which point it was neatly severed by a falling granite block on the other side.  After a brief respite to heal Fischer’s stump and allow him to recover, the party decided to move on and seek out another entrance to the tomb.  On the way out Trog noticed a distinct *lack* of tracks near the cave with the massive doors

A brief search revealed tracks leading in another direction and soon the group found a small opening covered by camouflage constructed from reeds and mud.  Nat’yet did some scouting and Trog burst through the covering and slaughtered the two lizardman sentries inside before they realized what hit them.

Beyond the sentry post a water filled corridor led off into the darkness. The party continued and found a crude bridge made of floating logs leading off into the darkness. Halfway down the corridor one of the logs revealed itself as a giant crocodile which grabbed Natyet and dragged him under. A fight for survival ensued and the beast was eventually slain with none of the heroes managing to drown.

The passageway eventually emerged from the water at the base of a stairway leading up.  The passage changed from a crudely dug cave into what seemed to be ancient worked stone.   As they began up the stairs a wave of oily liquid washed down at them followed by a torch that set the corridor aflame. They were soon engaged in combat with a small group of lizard men dedicated to protecting their territory.  Once the lizardmen were eliminated, a large fountain was discovered.  As the party approached the fountain, Trog and Natyet were allowed to proceed but the remainder of the group had to fight off  a guardian water elemental.

Peering into the fountain, the group discovered a series of 7 golden disks attached to the bottom of the fountain with each bearing the image of a different creature.  After some experimentation, several party members were conferred various magical enhancements after touching different disks.  They also took on certain physical similarities to the creatures represented on the disk.

Continuing onward the party moved past a small room with an unstable ceiling (and crushed lizard man corpse) to a room containing a large preserved owlbear fighting seven straw men holding silver spears.  When the room was entered, the owlbear sprang to life but was quickly struck down.

Further down the corridor the group reached a large set of copper doors that remained intact but that had apparently been circumvented by a new tunnel that had been dug around the main doors.  In the room beyond was a wide corridor surrounded by niches containing a total of six stone sarcophagi.  Trog opened the sarcophagus in the largest burial room which appeared to belong to a prominent figure, but instead of a corpse inside he found a small tunnel leading down into darkness.  It was covered with thousands of bronze needles that prevented any further exploration, so the party abandoned the tombs and continued further into the tombs.

As they traveled, they found a covered pit containing an insane lizard man who demanded to be freed so he could take retribution on his tribe that had turned on him.  He immediately led the way into an adjacent large chamber and attacked the remaining lizard folk tribe.  The heroes were not far behind, with Solus bombarding the chamber with a massive fireball.  The lizard men were defeated quickly but the chieftain escaped out of the far end of the room.

A quick pursuit led the party into an ancient throne room, now flooded with about a foot of water.  The lizard chieftain reached the throne as the party entered and grabbed a massive obsidian sword that had apparently lain there for centuries.  He quivered with electricity and began floating in the air then began pointing the sword and unleashing lightning bolts.  He seriously wounded several of the heroes before Trog managed to tackle him and hold him to the ground.  Trog endured severe electrical shocks himself but managed to hold the lizard king down until the magic had “grounded out” of him and he collapsed dead.

Despite this victory, the group was left wondering what had become of the demon skull.  Some backtracking and searching led to a secret door which opened into an ancient treasure chamber.  Most of the treasures of the barbarian king (chariots, skins, food and drink) had long ago wasted away into nothing, but a few items remained along with a massive five-eyed skull…

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Legacy of the Savage Kings, Part 1 – DM Notes

There were a few significant things about this session.  First, it was the first time that I’ve run a table with 6 players.  I debated for a few weeks about whether to expand the size of the group and after much consternation I decided to go ahead with it.  I decided to proceed primarily because it would improve the chances of us consistently achieving a quorum and being able to play.  We’re all adults with “responsibilities” and as such so absences aren’t terribly unusual or unexpected.  It was a coincidence that during this particular session that all 6 players were able to attend.

My reluctance to expand the group can be largely attributed to playing past rules systems where combat could significantly bog down with a large number of player characters.  I very much wanted to give the new person a chance to play but not at the expense of decreasing the enjoyment of my established players.  The good news is that despite this being a pretty combat-heavy session I found that the D&D Next rules helped to keep things moving pretty quickly.  There were a few points in the attack on the Forge where the party split up and I had to tapdance a bit while going back and forth between the different contingents, but hopefully nobody got too bored while that happened.

Speaking of which, this was my first experience at running what I would consider to be a large scale combat.  All in all it was 6 player characters against a compound containing 10 gnolls, 20+ kobolds, a ticked-off ogre blacksmith, and a couple fairly strategic mages.  I will admit that I felt a slight sense of satisfaction while hitting the PC’s with some of the same spells that they’ve been using to wipe out my precious NPC’s for the last several sessions.

The terrain setup for this session was probably the most elaborate that I’m likely to do for a while.  I’ve made posts about most of the individual components already.  The base was a rubberized mat from Zuzzy Mats.  The islands were either polystyrene or hardboard covered in moss mats and decorated with Hirst Arts bricks and various attempts at water effects.  The bridges were patched together wood from the local craft store.  No individual piece was that complex or time consuming, but put together I would like to think that they achieved the desired effect.

The next session should be a good change of pace.  Perhaps the diseased dragon will make another appearance and perhaps not.  It may all depend on the quality of the snacks offered up by my players.

Keep turning left.

 

Legacy of the Savage Kings, Part 1 – Session Recap

After a fitful night’s rest, the party gathered for a morning meal and exchanged information about the events of the previous night. They were joined by a halfling who introduced himself as Natyet, a Druid on his way to visit old friends at the nearby standing stones. Trog, Fischer, and Solus broke the bad news about the fate of the Druids and Natyet expressed his interest in joining the group for the purpose of getting revenge for the murder of his friends.

The group made their way to Amzel’s tower where they found the old sage in the company of an exasperated Keaton. He had learned that Tsathzar Rho was one of many mystical villains who had dominated the world centuries ago. Their legacy has been all but forgotten. During his research Amzel found another such being, a great dragon named Pyraxus, who utilized a three fingered symbol similar to the one borne by the kobolds and orcs.

The newly expanded team of heroes set of for the Standing Stones. They buried the bodies of the Druids and picked up the wagon trail leading into the swamp. They entered the swamp near nightfall as a heavy fog settled in around them. As they looked for a suitable place to camp for the night,they detected the sounds of battle ahead. A brief scouting mission revealed that an enraged black dragon was in the process of decimating a squadron of orcs. They approached cautiously after the noise died down but the dragon swooped down upon them. They dealt the creature several wounds and it flew off into the fog.

During the battle Keaton had fled off across a nearby bridge to another island where he finished off several Orc survivors. Nearby the group found an ancient fallen statue of a barbarian king carrying a carved five eyed demon skull. Reliff also found a massive band of onyx that Keaton was able to identify as magical, but they were unable to determine its nature.

Continuing onward into the swamp the party came upon a ramshackle hut occupied by a crazed old elf woman living in filth. She babbled about demon princes and witch queens for a while before generously offering to let the heroes join her “army”. When her kind offer was declined she called forth many skeletons who attempted to draft the party to no avail. Searching her hut the group found a hide with the woman’s mad ramblings about an ancient demon who had been killed by ancient barbarians.  The writings indicated that the lizard men may have found some “trophy” taken from the demon’s body by the barbarian king.

Following the Orc tracks onward, the group came upon a large walled structure.  Natyet took the form of a fox and performed some reconnaissance and found the gatehouse to be heavily guarded by gnolls and kobolds.  As he approached, he triggered a magical alarm that caused a nearby skull to begin screaming loudly.  The gnolls investigated and shot an arrow at the tasty looking fox, but quickly gave up the hunt.

The party spent a few minutes strategizing then charged the gate, laying down fog clouds and fireballs in a major display of “shock and awe.”  Trog, Solus, and Reliff all managed to scale the gate and open it from the other side before reinforcements could arrive.  Trog took off into the compound and found himself locked in mortal combat with a massive ogre weaponsmith.  The rest of the group came under fire from a pair of wizards that emerged from the rear of the compound.  Reliff found himself ambushed by a small flying demon that attempted to sting him using a tail dripping with venom.  An extended combat ensued with the heroes eventually emerging victorious.

As her troops perished, the witch queen turned invisible and attempted to flee into the building furthest toward the rear of the compound.  Keaton followed her in hot pursuit and used several thunderwaves to take down his invisible foe.  Searching the compound, the group found a large forge that was apparently being used to manufacture Blight weapons.  There was also a large chasm at the back of the compound where mining operations had been taking place.  Searching the leaders quarters, the group found several finished Blight weapon, a visorless helm made out of Blight, and some intelligence that indicated that the Blight was caused by the essence of a demon who had long ago been slain at this location.  The writer of the letter believed that the source of the Blight could possibly be destroyed if the demon’s skull were to be found and returned to the location of his demise.  (referred to as The Maw)

With the swamp now quiet (other than the occasional distant sound of dragon wings flapping) the heroes gathered to regroup and decide on their next course of action.

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Intrigue at the Standing Stones – DM notes

I don’t have much to add about the D&D Next mechanics on this particular session.  They have largely faded into the background as good rules should.  I’m still suffering slightly from a shortage of monsters to use, but I’ve continued to adapt.  I leveled up many of my orcs into orogs and gave a few of them levels as Fighters to provide more variety and challenge.

I’ve already posted the details about making most of the terrain used in this session.  Most of it is pretty modular and I plan on reusing it in different configurations down the road.  The standing stones probably won’t get much use, but they were easy to make and really made the hill look special.  For the path I used model railroading ballast laid down loose on the board.  This has the potential for a mess, but I was able to corral most of it with the hand vacuum attachment the next day.

I probably have 6-7 sessions left in the current arc which will probably conclude the playtest campaign.  I’m looking forward to seeing the full official rules set and will probably take at least a couple months to digest it before attempting to start an official campaign.

Until next time, keep turning left.

Intrigue at the Standing Stones – Session Recap

Upon their return to Hadler’s Gap, theparty found themselves the subjects of much appreciation from the townspeople.  Apparently the appearance and sudden disappearance of the strange weather patterns had been noticed by the farmers and word had already spread.  Amzel briefly greeted them and offered them lodging for the night so that they could get a good night’s sleep and give the town some time to prepare for an appropriate celebration to honor the returning heroes.

The following day, the group briefed Amzel on their adventures in the Vault.  The old sage was particularly intrigued by the 3-fingered talismans carried by the kobolds.  He couldn’t recall its exact origin, but agreed to research the topic.  The rest of the day was spent exploring Hadler’s Gap.  The heroes met Garren, a gregarious dark skinned merchant who traded goods with the party and provided more information about the region.  They also paid a visit to Patrizia the village healer, who turned out to be an older blind lady.  She sold the group several healing potions and provided information on local ingredients that could be used to create more.  They also met a traveling bard known as Benny who played a rousing song about the hilarious antics of a completely fictional band of adventurers named Thatcher and Friends.

Near the end of the work day, the residents of Hadler’s Gap and the surrounding area began to gather for a grand celebration.  Food and drink were provided in large quantities, music was played, and speeches were given.  At some point during the revelry, a man in beggar’s dress hugged Solus as if in thanks and slipped a note into his pocket.  The note instructed the party to meet at the  Watchful Wyvern to discuss a matter of some urgency.

At the Watchful Wyvern, the party met with their contact Marwyn who they identified by a silver rose tattoo on her arm.  She explained that she was an agent of the Empire of Crieste and has been sent by Captain Sentri to enlist their services.  She explained that cultists in league with the forces that had attempted to resurrect Tsathzar Rho were still operating in the area and were planning a major ritual for that very night.  She offered the party a reward of 100 platinum coins each for investigating and destroying the cult.  As she unfurled a map detailing the location of the ritual, she suddenly grasped at her through and collapsed to the floor dead.

The heroes attempted to pursue the server who had brought Marwyn her last drink, but they were inhibited by several well-intentioned locals who believed them to be somehow involved in Marwyn’s death.  Trog cowed them into submission with a display of strength, but it was too late to catch the fleeing assassin.  Investigating the tavern, the party found traces of poison in a vile in the kitchen along with the corpse of one of the cooks.  The heroes immediately requested that horses be provided to them and they took off into the night towards the ritual location, a ring of standing stones considered sacred by the druids.

A heavy rain started as they traveled.  As they climbed the hill leading to the stone circle, the party came under attack by orcs and wolves guarding the lone path up the hill.  After dispatching them, the group stumbled on a small cottage surrounded by more orcs who were also killed.  The inside of the cottage was a bloodbath.  Two adult humans had been slaughtered but their young daughter survived.  They did what they could to calm her, but the tempo of the storm continued to increase and they had to leave her behind momentarily to deal with the remaining cultists.

At the top of the hill, they encountered several frenzied orc cultists and a shaman in the midst of a magical ritual.  Lightning strikes became more and more frequent, striking nearby trees and even the stones on the hill.  When the shaman noticed the presence of intruders, he made a dramatic motion and configured a massive water elemental out of the swirling rains of the storm.  A lengthy fight ensued, with Trog wrestling the elemental from the inside out at times.  Before the shaman was defeated, a flock of ravens flew overhead and the orc was heard to yell “Garland’s Fork!” in their direction.

Fletcher was backstabbed by the same cowardly assassin who murdered Marwyn, only to be healed by Solus, then backstabbed again as he tried to pursue his foe.  At the end of the night, the cultists were defeated but the assassin escaped justice once again, leaving Fletcher in a pool of his own blood.

Once the ritual was disrupted, the storm subsided.  Solus healed Fletcher’s wounds and the traumatized girl was gathered up from her former home.  With more time to look around, the heroes discovered a set of wagon tracks leading away from the hill in the direction of the Great Swamp…

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THE LOST VAULT OF TSATHZAR RHO, PART 3 – DM Notes

This session continued to build on the hallucinations that were established during the previous session.  I added the dreams for the sake of foreshadowing some of the encounters to come and to mask my real purpose, which was to provide some exposition in the form of Fletcher the Bard’s dream.  I gave the party a handout with some of the history of the Vault based on the contents of that dream.  This is one of those examples of a module having a lot of interesting background information but without a good means of conveying it to the players.  Without some added content, they would’ve been largely unaware of the true nature of the dungeon they were exploring.  I thought that my solution did a passable job of conveying the information in an organic manner.

For my terrain build this week, I spent a good amount of time painting the miniatures that we’d been using to present each PC.  I made an effort to pick a different color scheme for each mini since I had been having some issues with seeing who was where from the far end of the table.

The trees for my jungle room are very visible in my picture of this session’s setup.  They were pre-made palm trees from Pegasus games.  I had to glue pennies to the base and use a little poster putty to get them to stand up on their own, which was probably more trouble than it was worth.

I did a few things using transparency sheets this week.  I drew a large grid on a transparency sheet to represent the energy fields in the “teleportation” room.  I was able to keep it hidden until somebody made a perception check to identify it and then overlay it on the room.  I cut and painted another sheet for the blood room to give the floor the blood red coloring.  It gave a little more texture than just using red paper, etc.

Overall I was very pleased with this module.  It was very much a dungeon crawl but had enough interesting elements that it wasn’t just one fight after another.  I’m a fan of the Call of Cthulhu genre and this adventure definitely had certain elements of that included.  I had a lot of fun improvising the mind-altering effects of the Vault.

That concludes the Vault of Tsathzar Rho, but the greater quest to save the world continues next time.

So, if you could go ahead and turn left, that’d be great, mmkay?