Monthly Archives: May 2014

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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Fieldstone Tower – Painted!

I finished painting the tower.  Not bad for a first attempt.  I have a few other projects that I need to work on for the D&D campaign then I’ll probably attempt some more HA buildings.

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