Slaughtervale

From Shadow to the Wyld, cont.
A Million Angry Faeries, Desecrating Dryads

This session we started two men down. Tragic! Since the game only runs every two weeks though, I’m not eager to miss a game session unless we absolutely have to. So, we assume that Odd Whispan and Grimshenko are tagging along behind, writing them passively out of the scene.

Sinking Feeling.

The players have scavenged the site of the Black Pond after vanquishing Felmad the Ill-humored and his band of exiled satyrs. They know that there quest must take them through the fey crossing locating in the depths of the pond, but, after asking them, we realize that none of the characters can really swim. After the characters sheepishly look at the water, they decide that you actually don’t have to swim well to get to the bottom, so Samson, Bradis and Hrung each grab some rocks and, well, sink to the bottom.

Sinking becomes rising as the approach the bottom of the pond. They scrabble now upwards, clawing for air as they break surface and arrive in the Feyvale. Almost blinded by the luscious colors, they catch their breath on the shore.

Bitterswarm

The Feywild would give them scant time to take in the scenery. hovering above them are what at first seem to be thousands of orange pulsing lights making a high pitched keen. As the orbs descend, though, they see that this a huge swarm of very small faeries. The cleric and the wizard each recognize the faeries as bitterswarm fey…just before the group descends upon Samson. They aren’t very strong, doing a touch of damage here and there, covering him almost completely. The bite, pull his hair, poke him, full of diminutive rage.

Arcana checks reveal that the bitterswarm thrive on the misery of non-fey creatures. Their blood, or what passes for it, is said to be dangerous as well. Hrung confirms this by taking a close peek at the fey and see that they have translucent skin and are almost completely full of some fluid. They move Samson into the pond which diverts some but not all of the swarm from him. Bradis attempts to use icy terrain as an airburst over the pond, which I rule to be a power trick (more on this later). He fails the Arcana roll, preventing the trick from going off.

Hrung and Bradis examine the area for help. They both see some tickleroot bushes. Hrung ignores the find, but Bradis makes a connection…if the bitterswarm fey love anguish, they must hate laughter. The mage rubs the tickleroot on his skin. Uncontrollable laughter spills forth. Hrung looks at him oddly, then grabs some and rubs it on him and Samson. The bitterswarm angrily flitter off.

Trespass

The group hears clapping. “Well met, clever ones! I’ve seen the bitterswarm melt more than a few unlucky souls at this very pond!”

The clapping and the laughter belong to Inosel. She asks why the PCs are not at CommonHome, breaking the Treaty of Khitosa knowing that their lives are now forfeit if they are found. Inosel is not threatening them, but warns them that her superiors will not believe their story that they are not from CommonHome, and will most likely destroy them on sight.

The party tells Inosel of their quest, withholding mention of the Unicorn’s Horn, which they think is an actual Unicorn that they must trick or kill. Inosel tells them precisely where it is, and Grimshenko (played by me) tells the players that the Unicorn’s horn is actually a statue. She tells the players to hurry and leave before they are found out. They leave the bitterswarm and the pond behind them, and begin travelling.

Desecration Angels

The players decide to stealth as much as possible to their destination. Eventually they come to a grove. Some of the trees are completely defoliated and withered. There are two female humans crying next to each other, and several man-sized tree creatures stumbling aimlessly about the grove.

“Sister! What have we done? All we wanted were brothers, and now we have despoiled our land! We will be slain!”

At that point, Hrung sees their faces, which are human in skin tone, but etched with barklines like a tree, and does a sharp, reflexive inhale.

“You!” The dryads spot him instantly. “You will be the ones we say desecrated the grove!”

The dryads commence the attack, but after a few solid hits on the Rogue, the PCs make short work of their minions. A few times Bradis attempts to reason with them, and when it’s down to just the two dryads versus the PCs, he finally gets through:

“Look, you can attempt to blame us for your actions, or you can attempt to flee.”

“But they will find us and destroy us for our crimes!”

“Well, look at your brothers lying on the ground. Your death here is almost certainly assured.”

The sisters look at each other, consider, and flee, teleporting into the trees.

This encounter everyone enjoyed, but I maintained that it was the players that really made it awesome. I hadn’t expected Bradis to parlay with the sisters. They will return later.

Checking out the area of the grove the dryads ruined, Hrung almost gets homesick. This one small patch of land looks almost like something from the blasted landscape of thee Slaughtervale. The players wonder what sort of foul magic this is, then they make camp.

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From Shadow to the Wyld
Across a black pond towards the Wyld

This sessions sees us up one Rudy, a RL friend of mine who I talked into joining up, and down one Ben, who is auditioning for a national tour of the play Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. We have to bring Rudy into the Fantasy Ground/Skype fold, and after a few bumps, he’s well on his way.

Rudy is playing the Duergar fighter Grimshenko. Gimshenko’s superiors have set him in search of the Sunken Colonies, a refuge in the Slaughtervale where most of the non-enslaved denizens of the vale make at least a temporary home in. Duergar are definitely appropriate to the game, and Grimshenko is even in the proper place to join up with the PCs, as they’ve just been wisked into the Shadowvale.

Grimshenko comes upon the rest of the group while he-of-the-cast-iron-stomach Hrung has decided to cook one of the Deathjump spiders they killed last session. Grimshenko and the group parlay a bit, and decide to band together in their return to the Slaughtervale. The wizard Bradis is a bit suspicious of Grimshenko’s motives, but says little.

In the thick pseudo-russian accent that Rudy uses for the character, Grimshenko decides: “You look like peasants! We must get you clothed properly.” We must find a fey crossing near the black pond, but first we will get you in proper attire.” And then they are going to the nearest town.

Uhhhh…I had planned for the PCs to go right to the black pond. Had the encounter mapped out and everything. I didn’t have anything about a town, or clothes shopping.

Fortunately, I live for these moments.

So the PCs are heading to Mylar, a half day’s travel from here. They arrive well after nightfall. The only activity in the whole town is in the local inn, The Severed Hand. With a brief gulp from everyone except Grimshenko, the players walk in.

The humans of the slaughtervale are actual shadar-kai, so the party is greeted with a few stares, a lot of tattoos, and even more piercings. The locals are all engaged in dangerous gambling games. The game drawing the largest crowd is a game called fingerknives, which is just a version of the knife game where people gamble on how many repetitions you can go before messing up. The second most popular game is Po’ghar, which means literally “choose your poison”. The players will pick a selection of several low grade poisons, place their money dependent on the type and amount of the poison, and then someone drinks. If they live, they get quite a bit of coin. If they lose…

The PCs order food from Kira, the propretior/bartender, and proceed to mingle with the natives. Samson attempts to get information from an drugged and poisoned old preacher in the corner, and Hrung decides to get in with the locals and play a game of fingerknives. He places his money on the table (10 gold), raises the knife…and stabs himself in the hand. Ouch. Done for the night, the characters finish up their shopping with loot acquired at the site of the cairn. Samson gets some armor; Brandis acquires an orb implement unique to the shadowvale called an eye. Eyes contain a pulsing blacklight inside the black-frosted glass. Everyone but the duergar soldier grabs new threads and then they head for the black pond.

At the black pond they come across a group of Satyr. They attempt to hail the group, and the leader, Felmad the Ill-Humoured, tries to recruit them. These Satyr have been exiled from the Feyvale and are here looking to recruit a small army that they can take back and conquer the Fey realms with. All of this is explained in frothing detail to the party. The retort from Hrung:

“Uh, I just got out of slavery buddy. I ain’t going back in anytime soon.”

“Then you will die!”

Felmad uses a special attack-shift-attack manuever to lead that catches the players attention, and a group of his eight minions follow with a shower of arrows to bloody almost the entire party on the first turn. The party’s focus is mostly around Felmad, who dances back and forth between targets keeping the PCs guessing on who they need to protect from round to round.

The combat gets pretty desperate ate one point. The players are rolling awfully, and I am critting left and right. Two players are in the single digits, and the other two are bloodied. Action points get spent on botched rolls. The cleric is keeping the party in the fight, but healing is running low.

The combat then swings to their advantage after a one-two combo of Samson’s lance of faith on Felmad and Hrungbreaking from combat with a minion (I had to remind him that his Artful Dodger makes most opportunity attacks, especially from a minion, pretty bearable to deal with) tumbling into a flank with Felmad, and stabbing him in the kidneys.

“Who wants it next?”

No one did. The Satyrs fled.

Most of our time was eaten up with preparations, so I’m hoping next session will have a few more encounters. the nice part though is that I had about six prepared, so no extra work for me for game! Except, more maps, the wiki…<sigh>

I love it.

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From Dust to Shadow
Escape from slavery into new worlds

From At-Will

So, I’m still attempting to catch up on my notes for the Blacktree Chronicles, but I want to instill good habits with the new game I just started. I’ve discussed the Slaughtervale background, so I’ll spare you the world pitch and introduce you to our beloved cast. The premise here is that the characters are slaves newly escaped from the residuum mines of Harzushad, the largest city in the efreet nation of the Ash.

Here they are:

  • Bradis –a human wizard, trained in frost magic in hopes of combating the efreets, but ended up captured before his tutelage could be complete. Currently uses a spellbook that was stolen by…
  • Hrung –an irascible goblin rogue.
  • Odd Whispan –a gnome warlock (star pact) who stumbled into his strange powers literally by wishing on a star. He is still unraveling the powers he now possesses.
  • Content Not Found: Samson –a human cleric, filled with the godspark. (The power of the gods has been fractured by the Great Storm. No gods exist, but their essence lives within “chosen” denizens of the Slaughtervale)

The first scene started with –come on, this is me!– a skill challenge. The party had just escaped. Their master’s dogmen and riot hounds give chase. The players actually just barely failed this challenge, running through alleys and the sewers into a ritual ground until the dogmen caught them there.

The first combat went smoothly. First, let me say that Fantasy Grounds is awesome. Awesome. I had built what I thought to be a pretty cool map in Dundjinni, and so we were rewarded with some great moves. Brandis thunderwaved one of the riot hounds into molten lava, Hrung took and dealt brutal damage, Odd Whispan sniped the field, and Samson stepped up with critical heals and wrecked house with lance of faith.

This battle reinforced something about encounter design. 4e really rewards you for putting effects on the field. This battle was really fun because you not only fought your enemies, but potentially the environment as well. Most crucially, you can use the environment against your foes! Hit someone with sword? Fun. Hit someone into lava? Hilarious. Really.

The party dispatched the dogmen and made their way from the Ash to the Dust. The Dust is hostile land filled with choking, swarming dust, and the players were at risk of contracting dustmouth or worse…and then a windsoul genasi floats down to them bearing toobis (cloak-scarves that protect the wearer from the worst of the Dust). He introduced himself as Siral. He tracked down the characters after their escape because, well, he was the one that helped to engineer the escape. He fancies himself something of a freedom fighter and sought to shame the Lord Radumanshal, highest of the efreet lords save for the sultan himself. Radumanshal has never had slaves escape…until now. Siral warned the players that Radumanshal would never stop hunting them for the shame and embarrassment they have brought them. The players would need to flee to the sunken colonies of the south and hope for the best.

Heading south, night brought with it a dust storm. Even in protective gear, it would be impossible to survive out in the open. Skill Challenge! The party spotted a group of rocks in the distance and struggled over to get at them. This skill challenge went even smoother than the first, it didn’t take long for everyone to get into the flow of how they work.

They found a burial cairn for shelter. The storm didn’t subside, though. It intesified, kicking up black sand and letting thunder peal over the blasted landscape. Runes that adorned the cairn’s stones began to glow. There was a flash of light…

and the group of escaped slaves found themselves staring into a new darkness, that of the Shadowvale, the Shadowfell echo of the Slaughtervale. They emerged from the cairn only to find themselves attacked by two deathjump spiders. The dailies came flying loose here, and the arachnids found themselves stabbed, blasted, and finally burned to a crisp by Bradis’ Flaming Sphere.

It was now up to the players to figure out what they were doing in the Shadowvale, and what they were going to do while they were there.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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