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Thread: Lancefinder - Dragons of Winter Night

  1. #11
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    Default Session Twelve

    Leaving the refuge of the elven tower of Shalost, the Heroes continued their journey through the terrifying woods of the elven kingdom of Silvanesti. The one immaculate woods are deformed and twisted, the trees screaming and bleeding and the road winds and writhes like a living thing. The sky remained a grey-green haze when not completely covered by the dense canopy of black-green leaves.

    Before long… or after a number of hours… the group emerged into a clearing filled with crude lean-tos, the remains of the elves who refused to leave. The clearing was slowly shrinking as the woods press inward. Both groups unable to help the other, the heroes continued onward. They came to the Thon-Thalas River suggesting they were finally nearing the city of Silvanost at the heart of the woods. Dancing on the dingy, befouled water are three spirits dancing on the water, ghosts of elves who died trying to flee the nightmare. Unable to assist, the group continued across the water, hoping that by ending the Nightmare they will release the spirits from their compulsion.

    Before long, the Companions came to a straight patch of road and saw a group of draconians moving closer. Relishing a foe they could hit, the two groups swiftly attacked! Arcus unleashed a blast of lighting while Deldred conjured a pit. Wilder Spirit and her lion Fu rushed forward in a frenzy of claws. The draconians retaliated with flaming blasts, a hammer of crushing force, and a flurry of quick sword strikes. Squee became a massive rat while Tictok launched a box of mechanical monkeys only for the draconian to summon a swarm of distracting insects while one became a massive slavering spider-beast. Suddenly the truth became clear: the group was fighting themselves. With that clarity the draconians begin to waver as the heroes saw images of themselves layered overtop before the creatures vanished altogether.

    Injured but determined, they forge forward. Just outside the gates of the city they discovered a group of children singing and dancing around a horrifying tree. They laughingly greeted the party as uncles, brothers, and mothers before skipping away over a field of poppies that had the faces of screaming elves. Entering Silvanost, the group meandered through twisting streets, the Tower of Stars always seemingly just a block away. Squee dashed ahead and the tower seems to pull back as he neared. The confused gully dwarf paused, as was passed by a troop of elven warriors carrying a fallen companion. Returning to the group with the elves, Squee discovered another Squee has already joined the Companions! Confused but undaunted, the group blindfolded Alhana and allowed her to lead the way to the tower based on memory.

    Before long the group arrived at the tower, defeating the twin golems guarding its entrance: one by slowly hitting it into submission, the other by trapping it in an extra-dimensional pit then crushing it into powder via two magically generated walls of stone laid atop the pit. Entering the tower, the group wandered aimlessly through a maze of corridors and doorways. Arcus jokingly commented that the tower was bigger on the inside.

    Through one door they found themselves in the courtyard of an entirely different tower while a war raged beyond the walls. Arrows rained overhead as the main gate was pounded by a battering ram. They saw Elsebeth fighting atop the wall while Gauraux helped secure the main gate. Suddenly, a huge blue dragon flew over the wall, mounted by the familiar form of the Blue Dragon Highlord, whom they had seen while fleeing Tarsis. He gestured menacingly at Elsebeth, and then someone stabbed her in the back! Else turned and half-recognized her assailant before falling from the wall. Crying her name, Tictok flew up and caught the falling knight causing both to crash into the ground. Elistan and Deldred rushed forward and administered healing. Elsebeth seemed dazed, with the last thing she remembered being sailing away from a glacier on a boat. Gathering everyone together they returned back through the unfamiliar tower and the entire group, including Gauraux and Elsebeth, found themselves back in the Tower of the Stars.

    Through another door the group found themselves on a boat sailing on a crimson sea while a storm raged overhead. They suddenly became aware of the boat tipping sideways as it was pulled into the heart of a massive maelstrom. Frantically the group struggled at the doors of the cabin as the ship tipped over the edge vanishing into the whirlpool. Throwing the doors open the Companions found themselves tumbling back into the tower while the ship disintegrated behind them as sailor were washed away into the depths. Through the doorway they could just make out the sound of underwater screams and drowning sailors.

    Finally, after hours, the group stumbled upon the throne room of the Speaker of the Stars. There they saw Lorcac, Speaker and lord of the Silvanesti elves. His hands rested on a glowing crystal sphere, while a green dragon whispered horrible words into his ear. This was the insidious dragon, Cyan Bloodbane, whose subtle whispers spread in the king’s sleeping mind like an infection and were given form by the dragon orb. The heroes moved forward and, as stepping into the dimly lit room, they became aware there were three other gargantuan green dragons! Then, even more surprisingly, doubles of themselves entered the room as well as a black-robed elf maiden, an elven warrior, and Arthur, who’s missing arm had been replaced by a glistening silver arm! The three groups of heroes all moved to strike!

    The battle raged as the heroes focused their fire on one of the green dragons, guessing he was the true dragon, while the Tictoks grabbed Alhana and made her invisible. Balls of fire erupted, poisonous breath spewed, swords flashed, and claws rended. After several moments one of the dragons tried to flee before the black robed wizard, Carrion, shot it down. The dragon collapsed and the remaining three dragons shrank in size to little bigger than horses. Emboldened, the heroes redoubled their efforts and slew two of the remaining dragons while Toctok created an invisible field around Lorac. Several heroes gathered around the orb, planning their actions.

    Suddenly, the fallen form of Cyan Bloodbane rose. The great dragon had been feigning death and, now knowing the orb and Lorac were protected, breathed a cone of gas over the clustered heroes. The remaining Companions quickly rallied, surrounding Cyan as Wilder Spirit convinced Alhana to strike at her father. Sobbing she stabbed him and the dream ended, popped like a bubble. Injured and defeated, Cyan barely managed to teleport away.

    Victorious, the heroes were rewarded with a dragonlance and the dragon orb as the elves slowly began the long task of repairing their tortured land.

  2. #12
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    Default DM Commentary: Session 12

    This was a crazy-ass session.

    The entire Silvanesti Nightmare is pretty much a license to mind-screw with your players. I used a handful of role-playing encounters from the adventure and created a combat encounter of my own: the mirror match.
    I set-up the monsters to mirror the PCs and moved then to matching squares. I recorded attack rolls and damage numbers, and had pre-recorded the defences of the PCs. My players just launched themselves into combat and were clueless after two rounds. I had them roll Intelligence checks after because they were on the verge of dumping even more resources into the fight and possibly killing a PC (Wilder Spirit, who totally would have killer herself). If they had failed it would have gone on longer, but when I asked the characters to make a check to figure it out a player made a mental check for themselves and realized they were fighting themselves. It was a lovely moment.
    It could have gone better, but still went off surprisingly well. I had all the monsters act after the PCs. If I was doing it again I’d have two monsters act after three PCs and the remaining monsters at the end of the turn. Recording that many actions was problematic.

    The previous session Tictok and Squee had wandered off and seemingly moved in a circle, lapping the group in a straight line. I retconned that to have them be separated and replaced by dreamspawn. My group kept together and were seldom separated, so there were few other replacements. But it was fun messing with them by introducing the double Squee (the real one).

    I waffled on whether or not to do the tower maze. It’s a heck of a lot of descriptions and possible mapping. It doesn’t play as well in a narrative game or when not mapping. So I just described a maze of doors endless time moving back and forth aimlessly through corridors and inserted the two bits of foreshadowing. The Elsebeth bit was firstly to bring in a different character (to introduce the idea of multiple PCs) and also foreshadow betrayal at the High Clerist Tower. More on that in a few months.
    I also included foreshadowing of the party’s “death” in the Blood Sea Maelstrom. If I could have included more glimpses into the future I would have, but there are few moments left that are as memorable and iconic that don’t have spoilers for revelations to come.

    The final fight. By Reorx, that was a bear to run.
    It took a solid two hours. The coin toss netted the result “damage by kin” result, so they just had to have Alhana give Lorac a poke, and one of the Tictoks was right there with an invisible Alhana. But he held off on convincing her. The players really wanted to kill everything on the board.
    Instead of three initiatives across the board, I had each player roll once and activate two PCs each turn. So they could activate the same character or alternate. It allowed the most range of options without bogging down the game. I opted to only have four gargantuan dragons because, well, I only had four gargantuan minis. So they fought three dragons (none of them green) and Orcus.
    A couple PCs “died” and many more were seriously hurt in the brawl. So that part was successful. I expected more deaths than there were. When they got Cyan down to 2/3rds of his hitpoints I had him fall back and feign death. Then the dreamspawn dragons shrunk down to large, making it a more level-appropriate fight.
    I thought the evil trick of having a boss feign death and then attack when least expected with fun and very much in line with Cyan’s personality, as was having him teleport away at the brink of death. He’s not one to fight to the death.

    If I can get the actual campaign to end as epically as last session did I’ll be happy.

  3. #13
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    Default Session 13

    The shipped rocked as the Heroes sailed through Ice Mountain Bay. Gaurauxand Drakeargued over who was captain, taking turns at the helm to avoid the massive floating ice mountains that give the bay its name. Exhausted after weeks of walking and battles with a dragon and a highlord, the group finally rested. Unnoticed, the jewel around Arthur’s neck brightly glowed an enchanted glow.

    Carrionfound herself in a blasted wilderness. Ash filled the air and the trees suffered. A young man and his sister hunted for food on a sad excuse for a game trail. They came across a damaged ruin with a glimmering gemmed pillar jutting from the ground like the bones of a slain giant. The young man attempted to pry out a large emerald as his sister protested, warning this site might be sacred to some god. Carrion watched helplessly, being only a ghostly witness, as the girl fell and struck a stone pillar. There was redness followed by a bright green light, revealing a large chamber filled with gargantuan green dragons. Carrion found herself fighting alongside a gnome, a wild elf, Elsebeth, and Gauraux.

    Arthur dreamed he was wandering lost through an inn, moving through corridor after corridor until he stumbled across the common room. It was empty but still filled with bustling noise and laughter. There were only two people in the room, both seated at the far table: a drunken dwarf and a woman in a red dress. Approaching them, they turned and greeted Arthur, using his true name “Amadaeus”. The woman told him he was walking too far down the Path of Vengeance and that there must be a return to balance. The dwarf smiled mischievously, now seeming much more sober, and said it was time to return to the Path of the Blacksmith. They passed over a large cloth bundle. Inside with an arm made of brightly polished silver. Arthur picked-up the arm and exited the common room, finding himself in a large throne room filled with friends and dragons.

    Drake had a dream that cannot be repeated here among mixed company.

    Everyone awoke on the ship, feeling both rested and shaken from the vivid nightmare. Arthur was especially affected, discovering that the mysterious silver arm had followed him from his dream and was very real!

    They continued sailing for the better part of a week before coasting between the island of Enstar and southern remains of Ergoth. That morning a storm followed closely at their heels, so they pushed their damaged ship harder and hard to keep ahead of the tempest. Then, when only a few hundred meters from shore, the Companions saw a dragon nearing! Drake attempted to sail as fast as he could but the dragon closed, blasting the hull with lightning. After the entire group pleaded with Gauraux to take the helm, the minotaur reluctantly began to steer (and declared himself captain despite Drake’s protests). Navigating between jagged spurs of rock, the ship narrowly avoided disaster. The dragon continued to strafe at the vessel until, seeing his opportunity, Gauraux aimed the ship at the flying dragon and brought it (and the crow’s nest) crashing to the ship. The injured dragon, now recognized as the Blue Dragon Highlord’s mount, grappled briefly with Drake as they fell to the deck, then retreated into the water.

    Landing in a small inlet, the Companions moved ashore and ventured through the untamed wilds. The forest seemed ancient and untouched. Then, abruptly, they came across signs of recent logging and fresh paths. Following a trail, they encountered an elven hunting party, bows raised cautiously. The hunters were a group of Silvanetsi nobles accompanied by many Kagonesti that seemed to be little more than slaves. Reluctantly, the Companions agreed to accompany the elves back to their camp but refused to hand over their weaponry and instead consented to peace bind their swords. The elves kept a careful eye on the dark elf exile Carrion., but were swayed into calm by Elsebeth and Drake’s words. Gauraux kept himself hidden during negotiations, and followed from a discrete distance. Taken to the elven refugee camp of Silvamori, the Companions were led to the hall of the regent, where a noble ruled in the stead of both the Speaker of the Stars, and his absent daughter Alhana. The situation is tense as the Qualinesti elves landed across the river and tensions have flared between the two long separated groups of elves. Generations of bad blood proved difficult to forgive.

    After tense negotiations, the regent of the starts decided to hold the company as his “guests” and instructed them to be taken to “guest quarters”. Meanwhile, Gauraux moved through the trees as silently as possible, pausing as he noticed he was being shadowed. Moving to a location where he could surprise his tail, the minotaur encountered a Kagonesti female, Silvara, who offered her help. Silvara offered to create a distraction, and ran off (with her dog / animal companion Dargo) and told other Kagonesti slaves to run into camp screaming of Qualinesti invaders. With their guards called away, the Companions fled from Silvamori into the wilds of Southern Ergoth. Silvara, a druid of some minor skill, agreed to act as guide for the heroes.

    Considering their next move, Elsebeth remembered there was a Solamnic outpost reputed to be somewhere to the north. They decided that was preferable to swimming across the sea, meeting with other elves, or dealing with ogres. The group opted to head northward. Along the way, Arthur spoke with Silvara about the return of the gods, fanning the spark of druidic talents to a full flame. The whole journey, Derek Crownguard bitterly complained of being forced to flee from battle with the elves.

    After some distance they encountered a group of wild elves who told them the Companions should turn back, that the northern pass through the mountains was held by the dragonarmy and ogres. After some discussion, doubts were raised when the “elves” could not speak elven. The Companions attacked. The elves revealed themselves to be shape-shifted draconians, a new type before unseen. These grey-scaled monsters were much larger, capable of flight, and when slain curiously mimicked the appearance of their killers.

    Victorious, the Companions continued their journey as Silvara told a story, which she was reminded of by the shape changing draconian. Her story was of the knight Huma and the “lances of doom”, who fell in love with a dragon disguised as a human. Carrion noted a location in her story that sounded similar to the “Foghaven Vale” mentioned in notes salvaged from the white dragon highlord. The location was said to be “at the meeting place of three mountain ranges”, which seemed close to the pass they were journeying towards. As it was close, the group decided it was worth investigating…

  4. #14
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    Default Session XIII: DM Commentary


    This first half of this module is a lot of travel and set-up. It didn’t feel like much of interest happened.

    I opted to begin with the dream as a form of recap, but also a backstory info-dump without being an obvious backstory info-dump. I’ll be going with the novel ending of Berem and decided to use the dream as a way of filling in his story before he is encountered.

    I also had the opportunity to toy with Arthur. The player had expressed an interest in moving Arthur a little back from the angry direction he was headed (after losing an arm and “dying” twice). The dream was perfect as I could have his gods shift him back, remind him Alhana was alive, and give him the arm. I was stumped by how to give him the arm in the story. I didn’t want to do it in Icewall as there was little reason it would be there, and it was too soon. But I didn’t want it found in Ergoth or too close to the Stone Dragon. A dream and divine gift was perfect.

    Gauraux’s player had also requested a little boat action. His character was a pirate / sailor and had dumped many ranks into Profession (sailor) which had previously gone to waste. Rather than just start with the wreck, I opted to have a ship-based mini game where they had to pilot between rocks while the dragon was attacking. It went… okay. Ships can take an ass-load of damage, so even after running over a rock, being breath weaponed twice, and bitten three times the ship was mostly fine. I should have started the sails on fire and turned that into a skill challenge for the other players as well as an excuse to knock off extra hp. Because Gauraux did well I enabled them to land at a place of their choosing before the storm devastated the ship.

    I also opted for a blue dragon instead of a white because they had just fought a white. They hadn’t seen a blue yet and might never otherwise fight one. It messes with the “each module features / highlights one colour” pattern, but that’s okay as the blue was a cameo and its main role is yet to come. I made my Skie younger (a large-sized dragon that’s tough for his age and fast) instead of the usual huge dragon. Mostly because I didn’t have a huge blue mini.

    The elves… This was a tad awkward. The players had little good reason not to attack the Silvanesti and the players are meant to be captured. But at this level, the heroes would slaughter them with a single 4th-level spell. There was no danger. So I had to maneuver them accompany them willingly or just escape (or slaughter, which was still a viable option). I opted not to have the Qualinesti free the PCs as the players had chosen to accompany the Silvanesti and having someone else free them would take the choice away from the players. They chose to go to the elven city and not fight or flee, so negating that would be bad DMing.

    I introduced Silvara as someone helpful right away. She’s too important as a hook and director of the story for her to be dismissed by the players. But having a kagonesti the party proved a little awkward as the PCs kept wondering why the Kagonesti were slaves and didn’t rebel (and telling the elves apart proved difficult). I knew there was a reason but didn’t rightly remember: there’s one in the book but I didn’t see it in the module.
    Oh, and Silvara is not the silver dragon.

    The sivak… they were a bit odd. I’ve never liked them. They don’t really do anything. Their death throes are unexciting and anticlimactic and they have no special powers other than flight. The 2e Monster Compendium describes them as “agile in the air” but have always been saddled with “clumsy” flight.
    I’ll have more fun with them next time when I can make the players wonder if they’re talking with a draconian or someone who killed a draconian.

  5. #15
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    Default Session Fourteen

    Having defeated the shapeshifting sivaks, the Companions continued forward towards the mountains where they believed Foghaven Vale was located.
    They passed through a small forest protected by fey guardians, including a pixie mounted atop a faerie dragon. Escorted through the woods, the heroes pressed on well into the night while trying to find shelter in the woods. Weary, the group found the camp of a group of mercenaries who were resting overnight. Approaching them warily, Arthur used magic to discern their alignment while Elsebeth stumbled over a pile of bodies that resembled their new campmates. It did not take long for Carrion to deduce most were likely Sivak imposters and the draconian were dispatched. The sole remaining survivor, was questioned then sent on his way: the Companions had no need of a treasure hunter and tomb robber.

    Moving through the mountains the next day, the group encountered a number of ogres and their large beasts of burden, which were quickly dispatched. Beyond, they found the entrance to Foghaven Vale and a ruined keep. Across the foggy valley was a massive shape, barely visible in the whiteness: a stone dragon carved into the mountain and hundreds of feet high!

    Gauraux explored the keep, discovering references to Huma and a group of bats that knocked him down a flight of stairs. Beneath the keep, Gauraux found a massive magically illuminated chamber that housed the lair of a dragon. The group was hesitant to steal from the unknown dragon, especially as it might be a good silver dragon. Carrion had no qualms about pocketing a number of gems that appeared to be magic. In the chamber, the group also discovered a pool of liquid dragonmetal, which had been befouled and corrupted by some dark ritual.

    Moving through the warm and foggy valley, the Companions reached a long, sloping bridge that crossed the wide river. They moved carefully across, to avoid falling in the stream which bubbled, fresh from a geothermic hotspring. Carrion and Arthur flew across on her zombie dragon. Beyond the bridge they found what could only be the Tomb of Human, long-dead knight and champion of the people. Inside, they found his sword and shield but left them alone. They also found a curious empty well, which Carrion deduced was where the magical stones were used. Placing them along the rim, she was sucked by a vacuum of air, along a hollow tube, and into the stone dragon.

    Investigating the stone dragon, the Companions worked their way up to its mouth, where there was an impressive mural, marred by the corpses of a dead wizard at its base. One of the corpses surprised the party my moving, revealing itself to be the befuddled wizard, Fizban the Fabulous, who was quite put out to learn he was dead. Unable to learn much from the crazy old spellcaster, the group moved up to the large chamber inside the dragon’s head, which was occupied by a couple sivaks and a bronze statue that proved quite deadly. The draconian, at the cost of a number of their friends, had learned how to avoid the attacks of the golem, which turned on the heroes. While the draconian swiftly fell, the heroes fled from the dangerous golem. Thankfully, Drake accidently muddled across the room without incurring the construct’s wrath, and the party followed his steps and was able to reach the long stairwell that descended deep to the chamber at the heart of the stone dragon.

    Inside the “heart of the dragon” the Companions faces a basilisk and an officer in the dragonarmies. The officer had apparently been dispatched on his mission after Feal-Thas learned the location of Foghaven Vale, sent to corrupt the dragonmetal so no new dragonlances could be formed. He died quickly and the Companions searched the rest of the chamber, discovered an exit in the wall. This led outside, a cleft evidently broken open by time or the Cataclysm. In the distance, they could make out human lands.

    Then, a dragon landed! The group rushed to attack the fearsome red beast, likely the mount of the fallen officer. Elsebeth charged on her horse towards the beast, skewering it deeply with a dragonlance! Gauraux charged on foot with deadly results, fatally stabbing the beast with the enchanted weapon. Secure in the stone dragon and with a month before the Whitestone Council, Arthur set to work crafting new lances. While he lacked the Hammer of Kharas and the ability to make true dragonlances, these lesser lances might still prove to be formidable weapons.

  6. #16
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    Default Session 14: DM Commentary

    The latter half of this module is a bit of a tease.
    You find a tonne of treasure in a dragon horde, but it belongs to a silver dragon that gets really upset if you steal from her. Really, this is the bulk of the treasure for this level, which really skews the wealth-by-level guidelines.
    Oh, and there are these air tubes that can move you to the Stone Dragon (as seen in the book) but they’re blocked and unusable. But you still find the gems needed to activate them. It’s like finding the big golden key to a door that leads to a dead end. It derails the game while the players struggle to get through the dead end or find a non-existent secret door because they’re not going to give you a key for no reason.
    There needs to be a storytelling rule about plot elements like this. Maybe something about a gun...

    So I unblocked the tubes and let them skip a bit of the stone dragon. It didn’t break the adventure and made them feel smart.

    I had Vanderjack encountered with the sivak draconian, to add confusion for who was who and if the group could be trusted or not. As he was the mouthpiece that let him speak and unknowingly lie, which didn’t trip the numerous Sense Motive checks.
    I did make a mistake last session when I decided objects removed from a shapeshifted sivak turn to ash. I should have checked “polymorph” rules but I believe that’s consistent. But it did make identifying the sivaks easier, as when they found dead bodied that looted an object revealing the body not to be a person. Which defeats the mystery and uncertainty of sivaks. I might change that and add a line about that to my Pathfindered sivaks.

    The ogre fight was the standard anticlimax, like the bullette fight from the previous session that was so uneventful I didn’t even add it to the log. At this level, ogres from the book are little more than minions.

    I loved bringing Fizban back, but after they moved past the “Aren’t you dead? What happened after the dragon?” questions they moved onto the unanswerable “Why are you here?” which isn’t addressed. He’s just there. And then Fizban vanishes again. Does he appear again? I’ll have to look.
    And he mentions the Oath which fired-up imaginations but won’t be addressed for two more chapters (four chapters in play or eight sessions). They really leave you hanging.

    I opted to have Dargo be D’Argent to surprise the two people who had read the books. Twist! But they ignored the dog like all animal companions. I should have described it sniffing the trail and snuggling up to someone overnight. But I’m only an adequate DM and that’s stuff an exceptional DM would do.

    For the final fight I used a red dragon, because, again, having a white makes it overlap too much with the past adventure.
    My dragonlances are +2 dragon mithril bane lances, with the additional perk of dealing 1d8 Con damage on a charge. Mounted will likely deal 2d8 or 1d12 Con damage (I haven’t decided). They’re meant to be dragon killers and unbalancingly powerful. Lesser lances will just be +1 dragon bane weapons, maybe dealing 1d4 Con damage. Good but not great.
    The official 3e ones are cool but not that cool, and definitely not as bad-A as the ones from 1e. The module’s supposed final fight, against three or so dragons, would be much harder if they were just 3e lances.

    The villain of this story is a little awkward. He’s not in the books, has no background or personality, and doesn’t get any real screen time until his death. He’s corrupting the dragonmetal but the players never find out how or why and there’s no time limit or chance of failure. They don’t have to reverse it or undo his actions. He’s just there. And after chapters where you face a dangerous black dragon, a very dangerous red, a shadow dragon and remnant of a black robe wizard, followed by two dragons and two highlords, just facing a flunky seems anticlimactic.
    I made him pretty nasty with a potent weapon and was lucky enough to crit (naginata. X4 critical bonus). But he died quickly after.

  7. #17
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    Default Session 15

    Almost two weeks passed after the Spring Companions freed the elven kingdom of Silvanesti from its magical nightmare. They spent the time securing the capital and looking for surviving elves. With almost fifty elven survivors found and rescued, Alhana believed she had enough forces to defend the city and move outward into the still horrific forest to look for more survivors. The heroes were no longer needed and would do more good elsewhere.

    After some time talking, the group decided to head northwest, via the ports to the northeas where they might be able to charter a boat and sail along the coast, cutting weeks off their trip (if not months). Alhana loaned the party several griffons to speed their way, flying the two-day journey to the Balifor region. Halfway there the Companions encountered a group a shipwrecked kender and spent a day retrieving valuables. After crossing the Bay of Balifor, they saw yet another kender, this time one facing a large black dragon in battle overtop the body of a fallen elf maiden. The Companions leapt into action, quickly defeating the beast. After interrogating the two survivors, battered and almost killed, the Companions discovered they were part of… the Resistance. They were carrying vital information on troop strength and watch rotations northward.

    The kender (Kronn) and the Silvanesti elf (Serinda) accompanied the heroes to the city Balifor, who paused in their journey only to dispatch a draconian patrol. The Heroes found Balifor to be a heavily occupied town, with Dragonarmy patrols on every street and a heavy guard at the gate. The Dragonarmies used Balifor as a naval port, easily controlling the seas and preventing any sailing vessel from escaping. Tictok and Squee decided to get creative (and destructive), and used several shrunken barrels of oil and alchemist fire (all from Tictok’s gnomish bag of item shrinking) to create explosive bombs attached to a dozen Dragonarmy ships. Setting a time deal on the explosives, the group hastily left town the next morning. As they departed, several explosions and screams were heard in the distance.

    The journey north to Flotsam was slow and long over the barren hills, with the Companions stopping every so often as they passed a Dragonarmy patrol. Occasionally, they would see a dragon scouting overhead. As one dragon neared they dashed for the trees, barely escaping its sight. Vanishing into the brush they saw something dash between the trees, running away from them.

    Pursuing, they saw a fallen child (or kender) covered in blood and moaning. Wilder Spirit moved to investigate and stumbled over a pit trap that the agile ranger easily avoided. More kender emerged from the bushes trying to attack the “Dragonarmy soldiers” as the bloody kender leapt to his feet having feigned injury. Two of the kender hurled magical iron balls that expanded into flailing and grabbing bands, which encircled Deldred and Tictok. With gleeful cries, the kenders shouted “to Kendermore!” and the trapped Companions vanished, teleported away! After explaining they were not members of the Dragonarmy, the Companions were invited to return with the kender to Kendermore, the kender capital.

    Travelling the scenic route to Kendermore, the Companions were reunited with their friends and relieved of small valuables. Staying only for dinner, the group left for the following morning “the Ruins” , where the kender said they had found the binding iron bands. The trip to the Ruins was quick but proved uneventful, as little remained save a curious foundation and an ancient magical ward that confused the weak-willed, causing their innermost nature to surface: Arcus spent an hour devastating the countryside with lightning while Tictok laboriously calculated the height and weight and mass of the fallen tower that once stood at the heart of the Ruins. Departing, the group did find an odd set of magical armour, possibly centuries old buried and hidden under a large boulder, likely once inside the Ruins.

    On their way to Flotsam, the Companions stopped at an Oracle, spoken of by the leader of the kender (Kronin, father of Kronn). The oracle spoke a toad who is second from command that has an encounter with earth; birds and air being a call to action that should not be ignored; and a child of the sea being key to events. From there, they followed the path the kender told them to stick to (thus avoiding the myriad kender traps) and reached the outskirts of Flotsam.

  8. #18
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    Default Session 15: DM Commentary

    The Spring Dawning third of Chronicles are the weak-links of the Adventure Path, which is a shame as it’s ostensibly the end, when the writers could skip foreshadowing and build-up and write resolution. Instead, not much of note happens.

    This chapter is more than a little unfocused. It starts with no clear goal of motive. In the books the goal is clear: get to the Whitestone Council and to reunite with friends. This first goal is weak as there’s no way to get to said Council in time (short of mid-level magic, which my party has had access to for a couple levels but which completely derails the plot): you’re able to teleport from Silvanost to Sancrist by 9th level. My party could have done this during fourth chapter and, if they had started a level lower like the books suggest, they could have done it while in Silvanesti.
    I pushed them through Alhana to head to Solamnia, the last nation holding out against the Dragonarmies and needing assistance. Of course, half the group (the ones who didn’t know the plot) were suggesting heading back across the Plains of Dust or cutting across the mountains. Yes, they’d be heading into occupied territory, but they’re doing that anyway going through Balifor. Really, cutting through the Plains and up through New Sea makes sense. Instead, out comes the DM’s guiding hand, pushing them onto the rails. Ugh, I hate doing that.
    I’m going to have to do that again next time to get them on a boat.

    I decided to do a couple things to make this chapter stronger, mostly in the next session. First, I’ll be emphasizing the alliance between the ogres of Blode and the dragonarmies. Instead of the weak climax-ette of “Saving Berem Take One” (from the very dead Verminaard, an odd choice on the part of the original authors) I’ll be making the meeting at Ogreshield the climax. That can be the big story point: break-up the alliance and fragment the Dragonarmies’ forces. If they do well, it will cause the orgres to not only withdraw but attack the Dragonarmies, forcing them into a two-front war. This makes narrative sense, as it shows how the PCs helped win the war without actually playing out strategy sessions and repeated mass combat.
    I’m also planning on allowing them to infiltrate by taking Toede’s place at the meeting, killing him to learn the time & location and possibly taking his place. This is fun as it allows the players to confront and kill Toede whom they’ve met three times and never managed to kill. That needs some on-screen resolution. I’m also debating adding the Black Dragon Highlord to the meeting, so they can kill him and feel like they’ve made some progress hacking through 3/5th of the Highlords (Red, White, and Black before facing Blue at the High Clerist’s Tower and/or the final battle).

    This next session will also allow me to foreshadow the Blue Dragon Highlord more, really making him hated before his appearance at the High Clerist’s Tower. He can really be portrayed as the Big Bad, this menacing but unassailable figure. And this monster that does horrible things to innocent people.
    Oh, and he will be hated. My players are going to LOVE killing him.

    Introducing kender was fun. They hadn’t seen them before but all had an idea from my Player’s Guide. This is the kender module. Part of the problem with this module is the lack of iconic places. The best aspects of the Dragonlance series are how they’re a grand tour of the world. This one is a tour of a couple human cities (meh) and the kender capital, but you’re not given anything to work with for the kender city. The description is small and there’s no accompanying map, unlike Balifor or Flotsam. A tour of the kender city and some accompanying event should have been a highlight, not a sidetrek. I did my best to make it fun and memorable. If I had more time to plan I might have poked around for a Kendermore map or planned a Dragonarmy attack of the village. Too bad that didn’t occur to me earlier… Something for other people playing through the Campaign to consider.
    My players were also fascinated by the expensive kender magical arsenal and wanted to know where they came from, and were enraptured when I quickly responded with “the Ruins”. It seemed to make sense that a former Tower of High Sorcery would have magical trinkets lying around. So, of course, my players wanted to explore. Out comes my copy of
    Towers of High Sorcerery while I improve a scene at the Ruins and give some history on the Towers. That was kinda neat.

  9. #19
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    Default Preview

    Session 16 was played last week, and we finished that chapter. Just slow on the log. But prepping for next week and War! The battle at the High Clerist's Tower. I made some changes to Chapter 10 but nothing compared to the tweaking the battle is undergoing. I little homebrew mass combat mixed with opportunities for heroic repelling of enemy forces.

    Here's a rough look at the forthcoming battle:


    And here's a better comparison of the size of the two forces:

    Each mini represents 10 troops and each square of the battlefield represents 15 feet (for 30 ft/ inch).

  10. #20
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    Default Session Sixteen

    The Companions continued their journey to Flotsam, having left Kendermore behind. They also left behind the mad gnome magic user, Arcus, who remained with the kender to aid in their struggle against the Dragonarmies. Almost at the city, the group moved through dense woodland along a game trail. Accustomed now to the various wanted posters offering rewards for elves, they strived to avoid the attention of the Dragonarmies, but up ahead they saw a Dragonarmy patrol manhandling a group of merchants, one of which was a Silvanesti elf.

    The group swiftly moved to attack, positioning themselves to strike at the human officers. Tictok raised a wall of stone separating the Dragonarmy soldiers from the innocent travellers, so Deldred could summon down holy fire. Surprisingly, the soldiers surrendered. They then revealed themselves as members of Silver Fox’s resistance, posing as Dragonarmy officers. The freedom fighter himself revealed his presence and congratulated the heroes for passing their “test”. The Fox informed the group about the state of Flotsam, held by the Dragonarmes and controlled by on e “Highmaster Toede”, (apparently promoted from Fewmaster in the past months). However, the Blue Dragon Highlord had been sighted in the town, looking for something or someone that would supposedly turn the tide of the war and ensure draconic victory.

    The heroes decided to disguise themselves as merchants, and borrowed a cart and some clothing from the rebels, while Squee turned himself into a horse to aid the disguise. Reaching the city, they witnessed a meeting between an angry wingless draconian (identified as Gildentongue), whom Wilder Spirit and Tictoklington recognised from Tarsis. Toede was berated for some time and, in a climax of humiliation, fell off his amphi dragon into the mud. Squirming, the fat hobgoblin righted himself and returned to his saddle and rode into town. The Companions moved forward and Wisp’s keen eyes spotted something in the sludge where the goblin had fallen. Retrieving it, the item was revealed to be a scroll case containing military missives. They entered the town and went immediately to the inn recommended by the Silver Fox and examined the letters. One was a report on the war in the west, with references to an impending battle at a Tower as well as an impending meeting with the ogres to renegotiate the terms of the alliance. The other mentioned something about a “spring” and the Dragonarmies’ naval advantage.

    The heroes decided to use the missives to blackmail Toede, drawing him out of his guarded manor into an ambush, finally enacting their revenge. Having five days until a reliable sea vessel arrives, they opt to wait until later in the week to deliver their ultimatum to Toede. Squee kills time by talking with the vermin of Flotsam, herding them into the Dragonarmy barracks and vessels. Tictok continues to work on a new device that will replicate the Contingency spell.

    After a couple days the group notices a military procession as the Blue Dragon Highlord crosses town to meet with Toede. Squee is dispatched as a seagull to spy on the meeting, pausing only to poop on the Highlord. A small child laughs at the sight and, to Squee’s horror, the Highlord sends a couple of his guards to shatter the boy’s legs. After berating Toede for his incompetence and telling him not to fail at the negotiations, the Highlord flies away on his dragon, heading west to the Solamnic front. Thankfully for Squee’s conscience, Deldred is sent to do what she can to heal the injured child, bringing hope of the gods’ return to Flotsam.

    The heroes decided that the ogre negotiation is something to look into, and speak with their Resistance contact: Erewam the Shaggy. Through him, they are asked by the resistance to break-up and ruin the negotiations. The resistance provides Tictok with magical aid to disguise himself as Toede to sabotage the meeting. They send Squee and Bupu to deliver a message to Toede, asking for a sack of food in exchange for “papers”, giving the impression of a pack of gully dwarf blackmailers. Toede agrees to the exchange in the bad part of town, arriving alone with a large sack. Of course, Toede is planning to betray his gully dwarf extorters, having his dragon-kin mount hidden and ready to ambush. Toede proved his treacherous cunning after he threw the sack at the “gully dwarves”, when the amphi dragon struck the bag, revealing it was filled with vials of alchemist fire. The fight was over quickly with the dragon slain and Toede knocked unconscious. Deldred and Wilder Spirit took the stunned Highmaster into a rough inn where they proceeded to drag information from him, the rough treatment bounced the fat goblinoid between consciousness and near death. Finally, he revealed the date and time of the meeting with ogres, the following morning but a day’s journey away!

    The group immediately set out, using a feather token of Wisp’s to create a magical boat, greatly easing their travel to Ogreshield, a large ruin claimed by a large tribe of ogres. At the meeting, Tictok, magically altered to resemble Toede, arrives with his entourage of Deldred and a disguised Wisp , while Squee altered himself into a rat and hid in the rafters of the building. Tictok did his best to insult the ogres and sabotage the negotiation, while the main negotiator, the aurak draconian Gildentongue, fumed at his partner’s incompetence. The filthy gully dwarf Squee let his pot/helmet of endless dung drip on one of the ogre chielftan’s meals, which the unfortunate ogre failed to notice. One large bite revealed the contamination and “Toede” very poorly tried to blame the seeming poisoning on other ogre king from the rival tribe, badly botching his attempt at lying. Squee, from above, quickly cried “master, the assassination attempt has failed!” bringing the negotiation to a violent end, as the ogres suddenly believed the Dragonarmy was trying to kill them. Tictok cried out for Gildentongue to teleport them to safety, readying his magic to vanish away. The selfish draconian magically vanished through a dimensional door, as “Toede” disappeared, giving the impression the dragon-man had indeed spirited the Highmaster to safety. A fight ensued, with Deldren unfortunately facing off against two angry ogres and a blue dragon which suspected treachery. The heroes fled, being chased by ogres across the terrain all the way back to their boat.

    Sailing away, the group encountered a ship heading to Flotsam: the Percheron. This was the ship the group had been told of by the Silver Fox. Coming aboard, they were greeted by the captain, Maquesta Kar-Thon. The able helmsmen, Berem, brought them easily into port. The Companions offered several magical items as payment for the trip north, encouraging the captain to leave immediately. With the wind blowing hard and favourably and birds in the air, the Percheron took to the sea. No sooner had they left when a half-dozen Dragonarmy vessels closed from the rear. The swift merchant vessel did its best to lose the ships in a fog bank as Deldred smote the perusing vessels with divine rage and fire.

    Before they had travelled long, three shapes appeared on the horizon, easily catching-up to the ship. Dragons. Mounted on one of the dragons, a large blue, was an armoured figure: the Blue Dragon Highlord. The dragons drew closer, strafing the ship with acid and lightning, aiming their blasts at the rudder damaging the ship’s steering! The Blue Dragon Highlord called out to give him what he wanted, and if they surrendered his prize he would leave the ship alone.

    Lying, the group say they had no idea what they were talking about, not mentioning the destroyed ships in Balifor or ruined negotiation. The Highlord called back that all he wanted “the Green Gemstone Man”. Surprised silence followed.

    The Companions refused and the dragons continued their assault. Suddenly, the three wyrms pulled back as a dark shadow appeared under the boat. Something below watched as a storm raged above. Then the world tilted as the Percheron hit a strong current. The helmsmen, Berem, did his best to fight against the strong flow, but with the damaged rudder it proved impossible. The ship was heading straight for the Maelstrom, the great vortex in the center of the Blood Sea of Istar. Crimson water rushed over the deck as the boat trembled and shook. Waved washed Wilder Spirit off the deck and into the water along with sailors, who desperately clutched at riggings to keep afloat. Screaming faces sank beneath the red waves.

    Tictok watched in fear and sorrow as the boat tipped over the edge, the void opening below. “Sorry,” he whispered before his contingency device activated, teleporting him to the farthest distance he could reach.

    The boat toppled and sank. The helmsmen, Berem, floated down. His shirt torn open from the storm, and the fist-sized gem embedded in his chest brightly glowing green.

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